Growing Generosity by Julie Holly

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him.” 1 John 3:16-19

When we are the recipient of generosity—when someone does something for us— we are more likely to be generous ourselves.  This is a fairly natural and expected response for most of us.  And this is something like what the author of 1 John is saying about how people are expected to act once they have received the gift of God’s love through Jesus

When I say it is expected, I don’t mean that it is expected as in, “I expect you to do this or else…” But expect as in anticipation.  It is more like when you add vinegar to baking soda and you expect it to bubble up.  The natural and expected response to being filled up with God’s love is that one will also flow out with the same.  When we have received love, we are expected to share it with others.

There is also an element of expectation, as in obligation, involved in this as well because in order to live as a person of God, we are expected and commanded to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39).  But because it is the gift of God’s grace that fills us with love and makes it possible for us to act out of love, then what God commands us, God also gives us the power to do.

One of my favorite quotes about giving is attributed to Amy Carmichael, who was a Christian missionary to India from the early 1900’s.  She left her family, friends, and life in Northern Ireland to serve the people of India for 55 years.  She said to have shared this message, “one can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving”.  That is pretty much what the Gospel of John is saying here: We cannot believe in Jesus without loving, and we cannot love without giving.

In order to grow toward self-sacrificing generosity that embodies the love of God, most of us won’t just jump right in head first.  We need some beginner steps, like…

  • reading what the Bible says about giving
  • praying and seeking God’s guidance
  • giving a little something to see what it is like
  • talking about it with each other—to see how others do it, to receive encouragement, and to be challenged to continue growing

And then finally, we will get to a place when we can live it.  We will not just say that we believe, we will also do what we believe.  Our actions and our lives as individuals and as a church will speak much louder than our words of faith.  We will become generous followers of Jesus.

Julie Holly is the Senior Pastor at Discovery United Methodist Church in Birmingham. You can follow her blog by clicking here! or with this address:

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, Friends, John Wesley, Leadership, Stewardship, Stewardship | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell to My Best Friend

Yesterday I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and that was to put down my best friend, Reagan.  I got her when she was just a puppy and I could hold her in one hand.  She grew to be a 100 pound best friend.  Sure, we had our rough moments, like when she destroyed the flower bed that I had spent a week building or the time she ate 3 metal tipped darts, a brillo pad and .45 cents (this episode cost me almost $1000.00) and all the other times until she reached that magic age of 2 years old.  She was my camping partner.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times we shared a tent together.  She was my guard dog, my roommate and my buddy.  In the 12 years we were together she was the one who was with me through all the changes in my life.  She never left my side, never complained, and was always glad to see me.  She even knew when I was sick and she would come and lay by my bed or the couch (whichever I might on). When my Mom had her wreck, she was the one who brought me the most comfort.  She was even brought to Jackson and stayed with me throughout the whole ordeal.

In her life time she experienced:

  • 3 cities
  • 6 houses
  • 2 careers
  • 7 cars
  • 1 boat
  • 5 Churches
  • Girlfriends
  • 2 engagements
  • 1 wedding
  • 5 children
  • 1 horrible wreck
  • Seminary
  • Ordination
  • September 11
  • The death of 2 grandmothers
  • The death of a grandfather

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All the important things in my life, she was there for.  Sometimes it was to enjoy together, experience together or just being there for me when I needed it.  Sure, she was just a dog, but she was more than that for me. She was my friend and I will miss her.

Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal | 10 Comments

Being a Good Father

I am now a Father and I’m learning everyday.  It’s amazing how much I really don’t know.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned about being a father:

  • You don’t mind cleaning up your child’s “throw-up”.  (I’ve always gotten sick from someone throwing up)
  • When they are sick, you want them close to you. ( I used to run from sick people from a fear of catching it.)
  • You’re their parent, not their friend, buddy, companion or partner.  (They have many friends/buddies but only 2 parents.  They need you to be in that role.)
  • Discipline is a part of being a parent.  (The old saying,”This is going to hurt me more than you.” is so true.)
  • Telling them each day how much you love them.
  • Hold them in your lap (At least until they are too big)
  • Know who their friends are and who their friends parents are. (Aside from you, their friends will have the most influence on their lives.)
  • Set boundaries for your children/teenagers.  They won’t set them on their own, but you’re teaching them how to do this preparing them for tomorrow.
  • Play the X-Box/football/baseball/sports with them and let them win (sometimes but losing on purpose all the time is a bad lesson in itself.) Go hiking, camping, fishing with the boys and shopping, dress up, and nails with your girls.
  • Teach them to fail forward, persistence, courage, honor and committment.
  • Introduce them and teach them to respect new cultures, people who are different, and other religions.
  • Teach them Grace by your actions.
  • Teach them the importance of money (checking account, saving, budgets, and investing) AND that money is NOT the most important thing and is NOT what makes them valuable.
  • Show them how to be a husband (or what to look for in a husband) by the way you treat and love their Mom.
  • Don’t spend all your time at work.  Your employer of 20 years will forget you 1 week after you’re gone but your children will miss you for a lifetime.
  • Teach them to tithe.
Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Lessons I've Learned as a Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If a Man Wants YOU! (For the Ladies)

As a pastor but mostly as a father of a teenage daughter, I was impressed by the following list and I hope all ladies both young and old will read and heed!!  God bless, John

If a Man Wants You

By: Salma Rumman
  • If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away.

  • If he doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.

  • Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior.

  • Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

  • Stop trying to change yourselves for a relationship that’s not meant to be.

  • Slower is better.

  • Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.

  • If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can’t “be friends.”

  • A friend wouldn’t mistreat a friend.

  • Don’t settle. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.

  • Don’t stay because you think “it will get better.” You’ll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.

  • The only person you can control in a relationship is you.

  • Avoid men who’ve got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn’t marry them when he got them pregnant, Why would he treat you any differently?

  • Always have your own set of friends separate from his.

  • Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you.

  • If something bothers you, speak up.

  • Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.

  • You cannot change a man’s behavior. Change comes from within.

  • Don’t EVER make him feel he is more important than you are…even if he has  more education or in a better job. Do not make him into a quasi-god.  He is a man, nothing more nothing less.

  • Never let a man define who you are.

  • Never borrow someone else’s man.

  • Oh Lord!  If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you.

  • A man will only treat you the way you allow him to treat you.

  • All men are not dogs.

  • You should not be the one doing all the bending…compromise is a two-way street.

  • You need time to heal between relationships…There is nothing cute about baggage. Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.

  • You should never look for someone to complete you. A relationship consists of two whole individuals. Look for someone complimentary, not supplementary.

  • Dating is fun; even if he doesn’t turn out to be Mr. Right.

  • Make him miss you sometimes. When a man always know where you are, and you’re always readily available to him—he takes it for granted.

  • Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need.

  • Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

Categories: Common Everyday Stuff, Friends, John Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wake Up Call

Wow, what a week this has been.  Saturday, our family traveled to Wetumpka for the Barnes Family Christmas.  While we were there, I became very uncomfortable with a pain in my chest.  As a frequent sufferer of heartburn, I dismissed it as that.  However on the way home, the discomfort grew and was very different from the pain I normally experience with heartburn.  We got home, checked my blood pressure and it was out of sight.  Jill made the decision then that I was going to the hospital.  We went to Brookwood ER and they immediately began running test but after several hours, all came back normal.  I decided to go home.

Sunday, I didn’t preach and stayed home, however, the pain stayed with me. Sunday evening I called a friend who is a nurse and she sent me back to Brookwood and before I knew it, I was admitted.  Monday morning I had an ateriogram performed and they injected dye into my heart.  Well to make a long story short, I’ve got some minor blockage.  The doctor described it as a pipe that has rust patches in it.

Nothing further needs to be done medically except I have to take an aspiran/day and control my cholesterol.  I also have to have a dramatic life style change in the diet and exercise departments.  This is going to be difficult for me, but this is the way the doctor put it…”Right now, you have very little risk in the way of blockage.  However, in 15 years it will be causing you MAJOR problems.”  In 15 years, I will be 59 years old, but my children will be 17 and 18 years old. That will be a time when they are experiencing a great deal of change in their own life and as a father, I want to be there to help them instead of them worrying about me.

It really comes down to this, what do I love the most:

  • My family or eating everything I desire.
  • My family or sitting on the couch.
  • My family or myself

It’s my choice and I’m choosing my family.

Please hold me accountable.  Please ask me how I’m doing. Please remind me of the choice that I’m making because this is going to be very difficult.  It’s worth it but like anything worth having in this life, it’s going to take effort.

I would like to thank all the people at Brookwood Hospital who put up with this not so patient patient.  Thanks for all the prayers from my church family and all others who prayed.  Thanks for my family who helped out with all the children and my wife for staying by my side.  I love you all.

Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal, Lessons I've Learned as a Dad | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My Friend, Byron Berry

Byron filling the pulpit at The Bridge

I first met Byron as I was interviewing for the job of Youth Director at Avondale UMC.  He quickly became a friend and even more quickly became a brother.  Byron is a person who I would term a “free spirit.”  He has strong moral beliefs and has passion that just oozes from his pores.

Byron has this God given talent to create things such as backdrops for worship and altars that are so awe-inspiring that it just facilitates the movement of the Holy Spirit into a worship experience.  He has this idea that God placed him on this earth to truly make a difference not only in his community or local church, but the entire world and I believe with the power of the Holy Spirit, he might just achieve that.

I think the world of you Byron, enough to ask you to be my son’s Godfather and I know that God has so many awesome plans for your life.  Keep dreaming, keep praying and keep stepping out of the norm.  And thanks for being my friend.

Categories: Friends, John Personal | Tags: , | Leave a comment


One of the most influential people in my life (Janelle McComb) had so many words of wisdom that she would share.  One of my favorites is/was “Money can’t buy a friend or pay for the loss of one.” This is so true and I have been blessed to have many friends in my life who continue to have such an impact on who I am as a person.  There are friends in my life that I would not take all the money in the world for and all the money could not replace our friendship because they like me for who I am and not for any other reason.  They are the ones who know when something is wrong in my life and want to be there.  They are the ones who celebrate the good times and the cry with you during the rough times.

Another one of my favorite sayings is “The person you will be in 5 years is greatly determined by the friends you have, the books you read and what you watch on TV.” I try every day to share with my children the importance of choosing good friends.  It’s not only important for the enjoyment that a friend brings (and that’s a big part of being friends) but the influence their going to have on your life should be instrumental in your decision to choose a person as a friend.  They influence you whether you realize it or not.  You often will develop their habits, and their values and morals will many times become yours as well.

So be careful, be intentional and be honest when choosing someone you’re going to honor with being called a friend.

Categories: Friends, John's Rant (opinion), Quote | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Influenced By: Mr. and Mrs. Sarrett

When I was a teenager, I was extremely blessed to have a group of friends who did everything together.  Jay, Frog, Rusty, Derrick and I were inseparatable.  We could always be found at Pizza Hut during lunch, riding our bikes all over the neighborhood and searching for our next camping adventure.  Our favorite place to spend the night was at Jay’s house.    There are so many times that we would all end up piled up in the living room sleeping on the floors, couches or where ever we found.  Jay’s parents did all in their power to always include “the boys” in their family activities.

Mr. Sarrett or “Champ” worked for the newspaper and he was in charge of the delivery department.  Each year he would take his paperboys on a trip.  In 1985, he took them to the Worlds Fair in New Orleans and the next year to take a historical tour of Vicksburg.  Anytime  there was one of these trips, he invited “the boys” to go along and we took him up on the offer.  What great experiences I had with him.

There was hardly ever a wrestling match in Jackson that he didn’t load us up and take a car load to the coliseum.

When they would go on vacation, they would take both cars because of all the boys they would take with them.  It didn’t matter if it was the beach or where ever, we always were invited to go with them.  It was such a powerful lesson to love those who are your children’s friends.

Mrs. Sarrett still calls me each and every year on my birthday. I don’t think she has ever missed one.

Thanks for being such wonderful role models.

Categories: Friends, Influenced By:, John Personal | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments


During the Christmas season, I get to witness and now be a part of a family
with siblings. It is awesome to see the bond that exist between my wife and
her brother and sisters…it’s amazing and has a great deal to do with our
decision to have another baby (we were trying for one and blessed by two).

Even though I am an only child, I have been very blessed throughout my life
with a group of people who have become as close to me as siblings and I
thank God for them being in my life. These people in my life have gone way
beyond a friendship and I know that no matter what happens in my life, they
would always be there for me and have been there.

Over the next couple of months, I want to write my thoughts on these people
and share what they mean to me. Why do I want to do this? There are a
couple of reasons for this including the fact that I get pretty sentimental
with Jill being pregnant.

So, Jodey, Karl, Cathy, Derrick, Jay, Frog, Rusty, Melanie, Holly and
others…this is you’re heads up. Keep posted.

Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal | Leave a comment

Uncle Karl

I talked to Karl this morning and ask him if he was ready to be an Uncle and he freaked out. He was so excited and told us that anything we wanted to use of theirs such as high chair, crib, clothes, etc that we were welcome to it. He was so very excited. I told him that I would give him advice on raising a teenage daughter if he would give me advice on a new born. Jennifer mad the comment that the two of us giving advice to each other was very scary. I agree but we have been doing it for almost 20 years now.

Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal, Noah, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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