Thursday, December 29, 2011

What is Sacrificial Giving?: A Blog that hits where it hurts.

“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two copper coins, which amount to a cent.  Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” – Mark  12:41-44

**Warning: This is a LONG blog…but something I am VERY passionate about. Please take the time to read the WHOLE thing or you’ll miss the point completely.
I had about ten other things I was going to blog about today, but God very strongly impressed me to change the topic. This is not a blog about tithing. This is not another sermon about what you put in the offering plate. This is an honest hard look at what it truly means to give sacrificially. This is not a bash on pastors or churches who preach on the subject this is just from my perspective. However, I’m sure that it will step on some toes, so before anyone blasts an email or comment back defending the idea, please take a moment to examine if your response is based on the fact that I’m not speaking the truth or if the truth is hitting where it hurts.
It’s the end of the year and either most organizations or ministries experience one of two things: A burst in giving as people see they have excess at the end of the year and either want to bless or would like the tax deduction, maybe both (which praise God for, because we need it). Or sadly, the second, which is budgets are cut, contributions are cut, the economy seems rocky, and rather than give people grip. Now, I admit, I have never been good with money, saving it or spending it. I don’t think rich people should feel guilty for what God has blessed them with, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking care of your family and their future……the thing that bugs me is that especially as Americans, we (generally speaking) give as long as it’s comfortable. As long as it doesn’t interfere with our luxuries, our eating out plans, our fancy cars, our entertainment, and our vacations. But is that biblical?
This thought processes started on Christmas Eve when a family came to volunteer at our service because their little girl who had to be about 9 or 10 had said she only wanted 2 things for Christmas and the rest of it she wanted to give away. She had also told her parents she wanted to stay in a tent in the park and feed the homeless. They convinced her that coming to Rescue Atlanta and serving with us would be a better idea. How awesome for that to be a child’s wish?
Then something happened that blew my mind..I was sitting at my desk one day this week, and a volunteer walked in and said, “I know Glenn’s birthday is coming up and I want you to do something really special for him.” This person handed me a $100 bill and walked out the door. I did not really know them. My eyes filled with tears as God reminded me that this was His provision. In a follow up to an earlier blog post…I had shared that we had used our last $50 to provide a Christmas brunch to the men who live at Rescue Atlanta. I share nothing with a spirit of bragging or for a pat on the back. I shared it because I told you I also wanted to let you know how God provided. See..Glenn is an incredible giver. He has always given more to me than I have ever been able to give back. His birthday is next Tuesday, January 3, and I had no money to get him anything or even get groceries for a special meal. I was praying..”God, give me a creative idea of how to bless him on that day and make it special.” That’s when this person walked in. I emailed them later to thank them for the gift and to tell them a little of our background. They in turn responded with this message:
The beginning of November I was fasting a praying regarding some business ideas. I have my own business. During that time God spoke to me to focus on Him and serving Him and he would provide for me for the work He wanted me to do. I have a calling for missions and the ministry. So, I decided to serve Him and not worry about my business and finances. Over the next 6 weeks I think I had about $200 come in. Insurance was canceled. My landlord has sent me a letter than on the 15th of December he would begin the eviction process if I didn't make full payment.
I continued to trust God's provision even though I had no idea what He was doing. On Dec 15th I called a client that I had given a proposal to in JULY and they were ready to go. They paid me in full. Just in time to go to the bank and pay my rent before the bank closed. Since then God has opened up blessing after blessing on me.  Far more than I deserve.

When I left the house this morning I was impressed to take that $100 with me for some reason. I would not normally carry cash when going down there. God has rained down on me unexpected income these last few weeks and I know it was for a purpose.  God will honor the work you guys are doing - your hearts are true to Him.
Knowing that made the $100 feel like $1000. Following God when it hurts..When it doesn’t make sense…when there is a sacrifice involved.
A blessing is still a blessing even if it comes from the person who has a lot of money, but there’s something about a sacrificial gift that grips me every time.
I found a definition on a website for sacrificial giving that I love:

Sacrificial:  Our proportionate gift becomes sacrificial when it comes from our substance
rather than our abundance. When we give out of our substance, we are changed in the process. We have given away something we thought we needed for ourselves, thus changing our lifestyle. We have acted on our belief that our security lies not in our material resources but in God.

When people grip rather than give…it hurts the very organizations and ministries that are trying to HELP the hurting people around us.  I looked up verses on giving and here is what I found:

Deuteronomy 15:10 – “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this, the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Proverbs 3:27 – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Proverbs 11:24-25 – “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.  The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”

Proverbs 22:9 – “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 – “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Luke 6:30 – “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”

Luke 6:38 – “Give and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Every week I watch people put Quarters, even pennies in the offering bag…they do it faithfully, and they do it cheerfully. And for most, it may be all the change they have in their pockets. I am challenged by their giving and their faith because they know and believe in the God who provides. The same God, who provides for the wealthy, provides for the poor……but some of the poorest are the richest in Spirit. Money will never buy that.

So, I challenge whoever is reading this: Are you giving out of the abundance or the substance?

Are you gripping or giving?
I know that God is always calling me deeper and to do more.  I pray we listen.

For His Renown,

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mr. Clean my Heart

As much as I tried, I just could not sleep last night, nor take a nap today. Frustrated and exhausted I stood in the doorway of my kitchen and sighed. I try to keep the kitchen "Clean" but you know those spots on the floor that just never seem to come up when you mop? Or the grime that collects under the stove top burners? The stuff you overlook on a routine clean and save for the "Deep Clean" day....the stuff that's gonna take some extra attention and elbow grease. Well today was the day in the Paddock Kitchen.  Whoever lived in our house before we moved in did not really clean it when they left. When we moved in, we had just enough time to unpack before we started our job so I never got around to really looking close and giving it the extra TLC. When I did today...I was disgusted. "How could someone let it get that bad?" "What is that stuck to the floor?" "How is the cabinet above the stove just that sticky and almost a yellow tint?" Grossed out yet? Not half as much as I was scrubbing it. I sat on the floor scrubbing everything in sight....and as I did, God spoke to me....

"Morgan, don't you do the same thing in your life? There are areas in your life that need a deep cleaning, but You look away and smooth it over always waiting for it to go away, but it's not going away, in fact, it will only get harder to deal with the more time you let the dirt continue to cake on."

So as I sat there and scrubbed and prayed about things in my own life....areas that need some extra attention..and really thought through and prayed through the different issues. And you know what? It wasn't fun....but because I was scrubbing in real life, it made it easier to have a word picture right in front of my face.

Tonight my elbows, arms, and hands are sore, but the kitchen is clean....and I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. I imagine there will be some soft spots on my heart as I have to "scrub" diligently at some areas more than others...but I know that the end result is living in peace and experiencing the healing and freedom that come through being cleansed by the Father.

So, I challenge any of you as well....are there areas in your life that need a deep cleansing? Do you pretend that your sin or hurt isn't there, thinking it will go away or can be dealt with another day? I've got Good news and bad news...I'll give you the bad news first.  It doesn't go away and it doesn't usually get easier. In fact....usually what happens is we become calloused or bitter, and something happens to make us take an honest look at ourselves and we're caught off guard with just how much damage we've done to ourselves.

Ready for the Good News? There is a Healer...who can not only heal your deepest hurts, but also cleanse your mess up as if it was never there.....not that we don't have to live with consequences of our actions, but we don't have to live with guilt.

Here are some verses I'm thinking on tonight:

Psalm 51:10 - "Create in my a clean heart, renew a steadfast spirit within me."

James 4:7-10 (The Message) - "So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."

Psalm 139:23-24 -   "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way."
So...Do you need to pick up the scrub brush? Join me. The peace and freedom is worth it.

Scrub a Dub Dub.
For His Renown,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Paddock Christmas Story

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. I am typing this will a heart overflowing with thankfulness and praise on my lips. While I definitely had my moments of sadness being separated from family, about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, something clicked. There was a sense of excitement about creating our own traditions. We didn't make the Christmas Eve service bc Glenn was asleep and didn't feel well, so I let him rest. We have been going non stop. But after he woke up and was feeling better we headed to the grocery store and created our first tradition - Christmas Eve Finger Food Dinner. We had hot wings, chili cheese dip, and pizza muffins. I prepped for Christmas Brunch and then we spent some time just listening to Christmas Jazz with Christmas candles lit. We ended our night with Glenn reading "Twas the Night before Christmas" to me and I, in turn, introduced him to "The Cajun night before Christmas." :)
Here are some pictures of our home this Christmas.

This morning I woke up to the smell of breakfast casserole that I had been cooking in the crock pot all night. We ended up with a few presents under the tree late last night so we took some time to have "our" Christmas. I'm sure we will look back with fondness on the Christmas where all Glenn got was " a big candy cane, a hot wheels car, and bowls with skulls and crossbones on them." is what it is and although he did much better on me....He had put some stuff away awhile ago and saved it for Christmas.." We are reminded that its not the "Stuff" that makes Christmas's celebrating the birth of our Savior and sharing His love and serving those around us.

The best Christmas present I've ever received happened a few hours later when we opened our home and shared a Christmas Brunch with the 5 men who are currently living at Rescue Atlanta. Most of them did not have family to spend Christmas with so we invited them to be a part of our family. (Because in reality.....that's exactly what we ARE anyway.) I cooked all morning making cinnamon roll casserole, home made blueberry turnovers, Grits with bacon in addition to the sausage, egg, and, cheese casserole that cooked overnight.

After serving coffee we had the guys sit at the table. I wanted to SERVE THEM. They are the ones who help run the ministry and take care of the building so i wanted them to be blessed. They ate every last bit of the casserole and we loved sharing more of our stories, hearing more of theirs, and sharing LOTS of laughs. It truly filled my heart more than you can know. Here is Glenn enjoying breakfast with the guys.

After making sure they had as many servings as they wanted. We said our "Merry Christmas" Wishes to each other and I grabbed a picture with them before they headed back.

As I starred our the window washing dishes and counting my blessings, my heart was heavy thinking about all the people who were out in the cold and rain this Christmas. I think I said out loud, "I wish we had enough money to drive around and feed all the people we see." I know its a bigger task than we'll ever be able to do on our own, but I hope that more and more people will extend a hand to people who have fallen on hard times.  We decided today that this will be a tradition we continue each Christmas. To provide a Brunch to whomever God puts in our path to be blessed that year....I challenge you and your family in a similar manner.

I'm no longer going to ask people what they "got" for Christmas....instead I'm going to start asking, "What did you give?" for it TRULY is more blessed to give...for the blessing is received through the giving.

For His Renown,
Morgan Paddock

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Middle School Madness :)

It really wasn't bad at all. We thought we were gonna have 15-20 and we ended up having 30!! But they were a great group of kids. We introduced our "Ground Rules'...then we played some games, did a short bible study, enjoyed Christmas cupcakes and passed out presents. I just wanted to give you an update from the previous blog and introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. P's new class :) Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What God can do with underwear and 50 dollars...

I can't believe it's already been 10 days since my last post. I've laid in bed many nights contemplating and even writing in my head what I would blog about, only to find myself going to bed at 7:30/8:00 pm being so incredibly tired I can't keep my eyes open. I'm thankful to be worn out from doing things I love.  To catch you up... here is a photo snap shot of the past 10 days. We had our "Homeless Christmas" where we fed somewhere between 300-350 people a nice home cooked meal. They each received a bag when they left which included a 2012 Rescue Atlanta Hoodie, a pair of socks, a pair of underwear, gloves, and homemade cookies. I spend an entire day sorting hundreds of pairs of men's undewear into sizes and folding socks. Everytime someone would come into the office, I'd have to introduce myself up to my neck in undies. The following two pictures are from Homeless Christmas.  The dinner and the team making the bags full of blessings!

I believe the Lord is working on me in a specific area because I feel like He keeps giving me the opportunity to take a different attitude and sometimes I fail, but I've started paying more attention. I am a task person. I actually like to make lists and check things off. I'm really trying to stay on top of things in my new job and stay very organized. There are quite a few emails I had wanted to send on Monday, but did not get them sent until late Thursday afternoon and it literally is because I was never at my computer long enough without interruption to do so. I kept thinking, "Lord......why am I being asked to do all the "extra" stuff? I can't even do what I think is important." And after a week of being faced with "Divine Interruption"...I think I'm finally catching on. The Lord wanted me to take on the form of a servant, doing Whatever/Whenever I was asked. He was trying to get me to lay down "Mine" and pick up on "Thine." Whether it was counting underwear, wrapping Christmas presents for someone, cleaning up stuff, answering phones, counting hoodies, Driving a van,  working with a serve team, being constantly was what needed to be done. And I can honestly say today that I'm glad for the interruptions. The emails got time, just not My time. (And for the record, I ended up getting the bigger blessing from all of the above!!!)  I wonder how many "Divine Moments" we miss when we make ourselves "unavailable or unwilling." I wonder how many conversations would be had, lessons would be learned, or blessings would be showered if we started off our day saying "Not My will but THINE be done..." and REALLY meaning it.

So..I'm learning what it means to REALLY trust, step out of my comfort zone and be open.

A couple of weeks ago we found out that the middle school kids at church no longer had a teacher for Sunday Mornings. Now..I have been in youth ministry for 10 years but TRULY thought that season was over..especially for Jr. High kids....but as soon as it was spoken, God stirred my heart. Little did I know until a few days later that God stirred Glenn's heart and the same time, and without much discussion we said..."We have to do this." Working with Inner-city kids is different than working with the kids from affluent neighborhoods, but even when I was in Luverne, it was one of my favorite aspects of my job.  So tomorrow, Glenn and I will teach out first class. I'm excited to be able to co-teach with my husband. I'm even more excited that these kids will have both a Man AND a Woman who will be a consistent part of their lives because many of them do not have a complete family unit at home. I'm excited about what God will do through us and in us as we embark on this new adventure. Please keep us in prayer.

Glenn and I are spending our first Christmas together alone in Atlanta. This has been a pretty difficult thing for me. Not that I don't love my husband and creating "new" traditions together, but it intensifies missing my family not to be with them on this day. We are inner city missionaries. We have a tree and decorations (a true Blessing), but we have no presents under the tree, we can't afford to really go anywhere, and this all made me really think about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. When you can't get caught up in the commercial holiday it really is stripped down to the root of what it's about. In thinking about what we would do, I asked Glenn if we could invite the 5 men living at Rescue Atlanta, over to our house for a "Christmas Brunch." I knew how bad it was hurting me not to see my family. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a big building alone. So...I made up invitations and we handed them out:

So...much to my surprise, all 5 guys accepted. Then came the true faith test. We literally had 50 dollars to our name. All of our bills are covered for January, but as far as cash we had in hand to was a 50 dollar check I had just received. I needed to buy groceries for our Brunch...I really had wanted to buy Glenn a Christmas Present I knew he would love....but I just kept thinking.."I want this to be a really special Christmas for these guys." Glenn always says...the more you push it (money) away, the more it will come I looked up a lot of recipes for Breakfast Casseroles, and special pastries and I went to the store and bought it all and even got stuff to make our Middle school kids Christmas Cupcakes tomorrow. Total: $31 And Glenn and I were able to go tonight and have a cup of coffee out.

I don't tell you that to pat us on the back or complain about money....AT ALL. I'm telling you because it is how God is working in me. And when it does come back...I want to share the testimony of how God provides. I can trust because I knew without a doubt it was what HE wanted me to do. I'm thankful for a "new vision"...for a new perspective. I'm praying that this Christmas will be one of the best ever. That I will look around my small table and smile that we are spending it men who had no where else to go. And I hope they will leave our home feeling loved and knowing that God loves them down to the details. Having a home 1/2 a mile from the mission, having a large enough home to host people, having 50 was all part of God's plan...and I'm excited to see just how it all unfolds even more.

You've never seen so many people happy to have a new pair of underwear...and you've never seen a girl happier to spend 50 dollars. Thanks God.

Merry Christmas from the Paddocks. We pray you are surrounded by love and filled with joy.

For His Renown.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I learned from the alcoholic, cross dresser, and freezing child...

***warning*** some material in this post may not be appropriate for youngsters...but this is our life in it's full honesty.

There are nights when my mind races and I think, "I should blog", but I'm too exhausted to do it. And when I get home at the end of the day and its either spend 30 minutes on the computer, or 30 minutes with my husband, my husband wins every time. I'm thankful to be best friends with my husband and be able to laugh and hang out at the end of the day even though we work together all day.

So after the title and first line of the blog, I'm sure you're like, "What the heck?" lol

This past Sunday was one I will never forget. Half of our staff was out of the country - 2 in Africa, 1 in Israel. It was extremely cold the night before and happened to be a full moon although I don't put much stock in the moon part, it was just ironic. And people coming into the building were just in a Class A Bad Mood. They walked in angry. Glenn and I oversee the kitchen teams and the serving of hundreds of people on Sunday mornings. Our day starts there at 6:30 am. We usually monitor the lines, make sure no one fights, and generally just keep the peace and be a friendly presence. I usually smile and tell each person good morning as they come through the line. Just to make sure everyone gets a smile that day.

Well this day, one of the first people I came into contact with was a man who was drunk. He was trying to ask me a question, but I couldn't understand a word he was saying because his speech was so slurred. I leaned a little closer to him to try and hear him better and when I leaned in, he opened his mouth and let out this huge breath/exhale into my face. Like a Dragon breathing fire. There was no reason. There  was no need. Glenn was standing behind the man and I saw his eyebrows lift with a little smirk like.."really?" Needless to say....that was not the last of my friend. He later tried to reach through the serving line and grab the plates of food from the servers when he wanted seconds.

Following this older men got into a fight in's the same guys every week. We break it up pretty easily. Then the cross dresser man who is sweet as can be came up to meet with a smile and a hug and said, "So....are y'all still newlyweds?"  and when I said.."Well I'd like to think so, it's only been a month and a half"....he then went on to tell me about him and his partner, their amazing "wedding" night, and their first fight and proceeded to give me some marriage advice. He then walked across the room and said something to Glenn. I have no idea what it was, but we made eye contact from across the room and just laughed.

After I walked through the hall making my normal routes to make sure everything was running smoothly, a man in line grabbed my jacket by the arm and yanked me backwards to ask me what time service started. You just never know what the day holds. As I'm standing there going.."what the heck Lord?".... 2 of our volunteers walked up to me with a little boy who couldn't have been more than 10 years old, if that. He was precious, holding a binder and some paper. He had been sitting outside making paper airplanes and then women saw him in a short sleeve shirt shivering with his lip quivering. They brought him to me and asked if we had a jacket for him. I wrapped my arm around the little boy and took him to the clothes closet where I found him a very thick, comfy, warm jacket that was just his size. He put it on and I zipped it up and said..."Is that better?" He looked up at me with a huge grin and nodded his head multiple times. A coat. It was in the high 30's/low 40's outside and the little child had no coat.

Suddenly....nothing else mattered. Suddenly I knew for that moment why God had placed me there, in that place, at that time. I grew up going in and working in pretty affluent churches. The parking lot was decked out with nice cars, most of my friends lived in nice houses, we had no problem going out to eat after church. At some of them, not only did we have nice clothes to wear, but it was frowned upon to wear anything but "Sunday Best."  I wonder what God thinks about "Sunday Best."

I think Sunday Best to God is seeing a heart broken before Him in praise and worship. And if  a man in a suit doesn't recognize his own sin and need for God, I believe the alcoholic or cross dresser can be even more beautiful at an altar. That to me is Sunday best. Every week we have the opportunity to pray with people after the service who come forward. I've prayed with women who have been living under a bridge and tried to commit suicide to a woman who literally just sobbed and bear hugged me for 10-15 minutes. And I wondered.....when is the last time someone wrapped their arms around them and bear hugged them for a pure motive.

I'm thankful that the longer I'm here.....the more God allows me to see through His eyes. We use labels: alcoholic, drunk, homosexual, druggie, criminal, prostitute, etc. And maybe that's "what" they "do", but it's not "who" they "Are." No matter WHAT......they are precious to the heart of God and He LOVES them as much as he loves you and me. Unfortunately, Christians have done a horrible job, me included, at sending the message that if you are any of those things you are not "good enough" for God. And at some places you're not "accepted" in the church.

But how can they ever know if they never
And how are you and I any different?

Who needs a "coat" in your life?
What are you doing about it?
Maybe it's even you.
We could all use a bear hug.

For His Renown,

**picture is off the internet, not actual child.