Stories of secret santas … God is Good!

What is it about this season that causes people to become generous-hearted? 

It is more than just the season … I know this for sure, given the number of stressed shop staff that I have spoken to that have mentioned the unpleasant treatment they have been receiving from stressed and busy people racing through the shops to get “the shopping done” …

There is that, the unpleasantness, but then there is something else, an atmosphere, or an attitude which can be caught, which can be spread, which can be given away and which can change atmospheres … we can release it as we go, and in doing so it has the potential to change districts, cities and even nations … Christians and non-Christians alike can “catch” the breeze on this one, and regardless of belief systems an attitude of generosity can be caught, can infect people …

A blogger visited my site, and in turn I visited his.  His blog appears to generally be more political in nature … but there, in the midst of political comment, is a piece about the generosity of people toward strangers … a story that has impacted others in such a tremendous way that those others have then gone on and done the same … a story that in turn has inspired more acts of generosity, which in turn have caused more acts of generosity and so on … the potential is endless … His loving kindness is infectious …

I encourage you to read this simple story and marvel at how a basic anonymous act of kindness can impact others … and how in turn such an act can then resonate through a community … it is a story of how “a secret santa pays for other people’s lay-buys for Christmas” … please take the time to read … it warms the heart!

Reading this story reminded me  of my own such experience, posted over a year ago which I recount now:

We decided to go out for dinner where the river meets the bay.  It was a beautiful night.  We were all tired, but it was fun to go and as a family we headed out to enjoy a balmy Friday evening together.

The children enjoyed watching the boats, gobbled their dinner and we had a lovely evening.  I sat and finished my drink and A went to pay for our meal.

When A came back with a receipt he said “look at how much the bill was?”  Expecting a big bill, I looked and was surprised at how small it was … I thought “there were no problems with the meal, we had made no complaints, what was going on?”

I looked at A and he said “Santa paid for our meal”.

Incredulous I looked at him and said “what?”

A complete stranger had picked up our entire food bill and wished to remain anonymous – the waitress said that she was instructed to say “Santa had paid”.

We were amazed, a bit shocked … in fact rather incredulous … and felt so very blessed …

My daughter and I prayed for whoever they were and released a 100 fold, a 1000 fold return, blessing them where we sat …

I wrote a short note of thanks … “Dear Santa …” and handed it to the waitress who was beaming as she watched the Goodness of God unfold in our lives … as she watched God’s love unfold in our lives – what a witness … to us and her!

God’s goodness, His loving kindness is remarkable … a complete stranger released it upon us … we did taste and see that God is good … and as I write this testimony I am still amazed at how loved I feel by a complete stranger and by a gloriously good God!

God is Good!

Bill Johnson tell’s a story of how one person from his church in Redding California paid for a person’s coffee at Star Bucks and in doing so started a chain reaction where each person that came after them “paid it forward” … they paid for the next one, who paid for the next one … and so on and so on … the “chain” of generosity remained unbroken for some hours … something had shifted in the atmosphere … the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and had been released …

Could you be a “Secret Santa” and bless someone?  You could even be an “out there” Christian and pay for a stranger’s groceries, or bread (click here for related story) … they in turn may pay it forward … 

Go ahead, be a secret Santa, but please, also, make a decision not to be a secret Christian.  Let God out of the box, take Jesus out of the Church and onto the streets, out of your Sunday and into your every day … let God out of you … let the river of life flow from within … if you do He will impact nations through you … it only takes one … with God … to alter the course of history … so imagine what an army of us could do if we just let Him out, if we would stop and pray for the one and believe what He says we are capable of in the Bible … it would be miraculous, it would be magnificent … all “the Earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God” (Hab 2:14) … his goodness, His loving kindness, because …

God is Good!

The power of one – receiving so that you may give …

We are all significant in our sphere of influence. 

One tiny “random” act of kindness has the power to change worlds.

Some time last year we decided to head up to our local pizza place for dinner.  Outside was a gentle broken man, who was clearly drunk and homeless … he asked us for some money …

Instead of giving money we took him into the pizza place and bought him a take-away meal.  While there we were told by the owners that people would often buy him food there. 

As we waited for his food to cook both my husband and I prayed for him, releasing healing and freedom upon him, we prayed that He would  know the love of God, and feel accepted.  As we prayed we knew we needed to take him shopping, and so, exchanging glances, I took the children to order our meals and my husband took the man to the supermarket next door to buy some supplies, to meet his needs, at least for the next few days …

The shopping excursion seemed to take an exceptionally long time, and I got quite restless, questioning why it was taking so long, but eventually my husband returned from the shopping excursion and recounted the following to us as we ate our meal …

The man was homeless, but often stayed in a shelter in St Kilda, a local suburb of Melbourne.  My husband took him round the shelves of the supermarket and asked him what he needed, and then my husband asked him what he wanted

They bought toiletries, razors, soap etc, and some basic items of food … bread, butter, fruit, vegetables.  My husband then suggested they buy meat … and the man excitedly said how great that would be and so they went and got some good cuts of meat and as they did the man said he would go back to the shelter where there was a BBQ close by and he would BBQ up a fine feast …

My husband then asked what else he would like and the man looked at him and quietly said with tears “I love peanut butter” … and so they bought peanut butter … not because this man needed peanut butter, but because this man liked peanut butter …

As they shopped the man kept saying how unworthy he felt of accepting the items and my husband kept responding that that was not how God saw him … the man wept each time my husband confirmed that he was accepted and worthy …

At the end of their shopping, before they said their goodbyes, my husband prayed with the man again … praying that he would find permanent accommodation, that God would heal him with respect to his feeling unworthy, unloved … and he prayed worth, acceptance and love … again there was much weeping from the man …

We have not seen this man again … he headed off into the night with his dinner and his supplies …

We trust he felt the love of God, not just hearing the prayers prayed, not just receiving the money spent, and not just eating the take-away meal … but through the time spent together – my husband and him, shopping together to buy items needed and items wanted … that he felt loved and accepted and worthy …

I trust the man felt loved … for a while at least … who knows the experience has done for him … but I trust the prayers have been answered …

Apparently the man left my husband joyfully planning his meat BBQ … he went into the night headed for a shelter with his supplies and with his beloved peanut butter in hand …

I recount this story, not to blow our trumpet, but to ask, who is in your sphere of influence? Will you stop for the one?

This story is told in response to a beautiful movie clip that I found on a blog site that belongs to someone who visited my blog site recently …

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you …” (Acts 3:6)

The clip (click here to view) runs for 10 minutes … but it is a 10 minutes that is worth your time, and may change your life.  I believe it captures the heart of God as demonstrated through a homeless man who sits and receives … and then gives what little he has away … impacting others in his sphere of influence … regardless of what little he has …

It reminds me that we must sit and wait to receive from the Father … to then take what we have received (whether we think it little or big), and give it away as we go … to you the pennies or the prayers may be meaningless, but to another they change destinies …

God may be calling you to give away money, or to take a homeless person shopping … he may be asking you to stop and smile at the sales clerk … or to pray for the woman in the store where you are that clearly has a broken arm … He may just be wanting you to stop, and spend some time with Him … just because …

There is power in one … with God … no matter our sphere of influence we can change the world … one “random” act of kindness at a time … so why not “pay it forward” and give what God has given you away … and in doing so you will release a power that changes lives for the better because …

God is Good!

A “random act of kindness” … you’ll never know the impact – buying coffee at Gloria Jeans

I mentioned in an earlier story that I had bought coffee for someone while out at the local shopping centre (see story about healing for Sammi – link here).

On this particular day, on my way to the store where Sammi worked, I had stopped to buy myself a coffee and a muffin for 4-year-old M.  As I stood to pay for my order I felt God prompt me to buy the coffee for the guy that was standing next to me.

I stood discreetly to the side, waited for him to finish his order and pulled some money out stating, as I did, that I would be paying.  The guy at the register and the guy I was buying for looked gob smacked.  I said it was a “random act of kindness”.  I suggested he receive the blessing and I explained I was a Christian and that I felt that God wanted him to be blessed .

He was astounded. 

A bit embarrassed I shuffled to one side to wait for my order.  As I waited he came over and said that he was a Christian too.  I smiled and after a brief chat I offered to pray for him, asking if there was anything he needed prayer for.

He responded that his daughter was due with her second child – would I pray for her please? I said “sure, give me your hand”.  He looked a bit surprised – I am sure most people expect me to go home and pray privately.  He gave me his hand and I prayed.

I prayed for a wonderful, peaceful, safe, and supernatural child-birth experience for his daughter and her baby, and a blessed start to life with the new baby.  As I finished he looked at me again, and mentioned that he was a retired minister – having just left two notable private schools as their chaplain.

We had a brief chat about his work , and we mentioned where we both went to church.

He then said to me that there was something else I could pray for – his church was going through a lot of change.  He asked if I would pray for that too.  I indicated that many churches were undergoing change and I prayed with him for his church, for the transition they were going through, for unity and for clarity in hearing God’s voice and His will for the future.  I prayed that revival would come to his church, especially revival in the youth.

He looked again and gathered up his order and mentioned as he left what a remarkable experience it all had been.

It was only a few days later that I figured a little of what God was up to … 

A friend of mine, who is also stepping out as I do (here is the link to the story at his blog: click here), also stopped for a minister recently.  On this occasion my friend had prayed for the minister’s healing, and the minister’s leg had grown out (one had been shorter than the other). The minister responded to the miracle with a “that’s interesting”.

I figure God is up to something.  He has more and more of us out there, starting fires in the community, fires of His love, fires of His passion.  As we step out we are showing the community, the Christian community too, that there is a way practical way to demonstrate God’s love “as we go”, as we go about our usual life.  By stopping for the one we are demonstrating His character, offering His salvation, being His hands and feet to a hurting world … through random acts of loving kindness in the community we are releasing the Kingdom of Heaven to a hurting world … it may be as simple as buying a coffee, or praying and watching the God of the miraculous, perform a miracle like a healing or a leg growing out, whatever it is, it is showing His heart to a world that thinks He doesn’t exist, or worse still doesn’t care …

I believe that the gentleman I stopped for on God’s prompting was deeply impacted by my offer to buy coffee, and then further when I offered to pray for and with him.  What might happen if he then took what happened to him and suggested to his church that they could do the same … what if he and a few others started to step out and offer God in practical ways to a hurting world in their sphere of influence … which in turn will perhaps inspire those others to step out too… it would be unstoppable as the Christian world took God out of the Church … then perhaps the world would taste and see that …

God is Good!

Click for link to Sammi’s healing another story from the day