Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Joyful Giving?

The podcast is now live, with Episode 1 in the books. This month we discuss the blessing that God promises when we step out in obedience beyond the border of comfort and control. And we spotlight a God-honoring and life-affirming ministry out of Argyle, Texas called Blue Have Ranch, providing supportive community, gospel discipleship, and farm therapy for single pregnant mothers with children.

Take a listen and walk with us in the Joy of Giving! 

Joyful Giving
"Joyful Giving" is a new podcast from HowGiving discussing God's Word on Generosity

Partial Transcript:

Our lack of giving shows our heart. We are more worried about comfort and control than we are dying to self and carrying our sacrificial cross for the Kingdom of Heaven. Ouch, right? This podcast is designed to confront us with God's word on generosity. "God so loved the world that He ..." what? ... played it safe? Stored up enough for the future, you know, just in case? Oh do we have it so so wrong in the Western Christian world. 

Hey guys, I'm Greg Dean, author of "Giving: A Humble Plea to the Western Christian" and we're going to be discussing the different facets of Godly Giving, per God's Word, and provide ways to give together with recommendations as to WHO should be the Christ-honoring recipient of your joyful donations of time, talent and treasure.

Join me in unpacking this difficult topic, and let's grow together toward WALKING in the joy of giving.

Alright, in this episode (our first episode of Joyful Giving - yeah!) we'll touch on the heart of this podcast, the Spirit that literally inspired it, and one ministry that's dear to my heart, Blue Haven Ranch.

I'm going to warn you, just as Paul and Peter confronted their brothers and sisters with God's truth, in love, I'm going to be doing the same. And just know, that as I'm saying to you, I'm also saying it to my own heart. I miss the mark daily. Don't we all? But a heart that desires to obey, and repeatedly gets up, dusts itself off without shame or guilt, but repents and pushes forward to "sin no more" is a heart that is after God and His Way. 

Let's get started with the book that inspired this whole thing ...

Now, let's take a few minutes discussing Blue Haven Ranch. Wow, what these folks are doing in the Argyle, TX area is absolutely beautiful ...

Sunday, December 18, 2022

How Giving is #AliGabler?


 "It's Greg's birthday! Everybody give Greg a hug!" Gabler shouted out for the 4th time that night. Everybody hugged Greg, the author of this blog. But it was not Greg's birthday. Mike made eye contact with me, laughing at the hilarity he had just caused. This is just the Gabler way. He tells stories that have a basis in truth, but are mostly not. But man are the stories entertaining. Gabler is crazy and funny and smart and always in for a good time, especially with good friends. He exudes joy when in his element and his joy is contagious.

Michael, Mike, Gabe, Gรคbler (as it's written on everything he has ever owned), Phikeia Yahoo and now #Aligabler ... however you know him, he's a special and exceedingly unique guy. Even his parents call him "Gabler", his last name (or Michael when in trouble). 

And Gabler has always been a giver.

So when he announced during the afterglow of winning #Survivor43 that he was giving away the entire $1 million in winnings, while it may have shocked most, it did not fully surprise those who know him well. 

Mike Gabler is generous. He's generous with his time. He's generous with his talent. And - now the world knows - he is generous with his treasure. 

He was one of my groomsmen almost 25 years ago, and I told everyone then, "Mike Gabler is the hardest working friend I have." And that sentiment remains. He truly cares about others, about relationships, about staying connected and feeling known.

Heroes, VeteransHe did not have to give it all to Veterans who are in need. He did not have to give even a portion of it. But he did. 

It was rightfully his and his family's. Does he have a daughter in college and another daughter who'll head to college soon? Yes. Could he have used that $1 million for a long list of things that his family and friends might need (or at least want)? Yes.

But Mike Gabler saw outside of himself. He saw Veterans, 44 of whom commit suicide every day. Every. Day. Veterans suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), they face financial hardship and homelessness, they are disabled, and the list goes on with challenges that plague our heroic veterans. They've served us, willing to risk all for their fellow Americans, and Mike saw the tremendous need.

Serving those who have put their lives on the line for our country, and in doing so have provided the very freedoms we often overlook or take for granted, they deserve our attention and care. 

"There are people who need that money more, and I'm going to donate the entire prize — the entire million-dollar prize, in my father's name, Robert Gabler, who was a Green Beret — to veterans in need who are recovering from psychiatric problems, PTSD and curb the suicide epidemic."

Gabler, without hesitation, gave to those in desperate need. No dry eye was in the room. And there was no veteran within earshot who was not metaphorically saluting in gratitude for Mike's show of gratitude to them and the sacrifice they made. 

My family and I had the honor of being there at the final #Survivor43 watch party, together with his family and a few other friends. And - amazingly - he did not spoil the results. He kept the fact that he had won on full lockdown. Pretty impressive given he could have easily hinted or slipped up during the party ...  not to mention the 6+ months since the filming of the show. Only he, his wife and his sweet daughters knew. So, when Aligabler (in contrast with the real-time Mike Gabler who we were with) was announced as the winner of Survivor 43, his face was priceless. 

"Who knew?" was what that face said, with eyebrows up, and an "I'm as surprised as you are" grin across his mug. Incredible.

No doubt, Mike Gabler deserves all the applause for this act of generosity. He did not use the fact that he planned to give it all away in order to win. He kept that news a secret until after he'd won the contest on pure merit - for playing the game masterfully. As Mike said, "It would have been hollow" if he'd used that fact to pull on heart strings. 

So, he waited. It needed to be after he'd won and ... to make a wonderful act of generosity even more wonderful, he shared credit with his Survivor43 competitors.

"We're gonna save lives, we're gonna do something good... Million dollars is going to them. We made history guys," he said. 

People inherently know this is good and right. People inherently know this is the ideal to strive for. People inherently know this is how we need to be.

As I cried like a little baby, hugging Mike's wife on one side and my own wife on the other, I could think of nothing other than, "This. This is so gorgeous. This is so beautiful. This is how it's supposed to be."

Good buds.
Good friends, Mike Gabler & Greg Dean
The absolute joy on Mike's face ... the joy on everyone's face ... was palpable. The sense of goodness flowed through the living room area of his sister's family's house in which we viewed this all unfold.

And my mind immediately went to how overwhelmingly generous our God is. This night - Gabler's act of giving - was just a small glimpse ... a reflection of what God did for us. Giving of this caliber seems almost unworldly. It humbles and convicts us. I know it convicts me. "I need to be this way - so open-handed, so generous, so selfless." And that realization is spot on. We do need to be this way.

Thank you Mike Gabler for reminding me of Jesus. Thank you for making me think of the greatest act of giving in all of history. As we come to the final lap of Advent and see Christmas Eve just up ahead, we must stop, consider, meditate on what the Creator God of the universe did: He entered time and nature. He came as a babe born in poverty. He took on a humble form, lived in that humility coupled with full selflessness and righteous perfection, then died for his enemies so that they could be saved from the judgement they rightfully deserve. He paid the price for the very people who had turned away. 

This is the reason we celebrate Christmas: Because God so loved the world that he gave His only son, that if we simply put our trust in Jesus and His sacrifice for us, calling him our Lord, we would never perish but have everlasting life. What a gift. What an amazing act of grace.

Merry Christmas #Aligabler, my good and exemplary friend. 

Thank you for showing us all how to walk in the joy of giving.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Giving like it's not yours ... because it's not.

I've heard said that the tithe represents the ultimate "heart test" for the believer. When things are tight (or when we perceive things are tight - as "tight" is a matter of perspective when you take a step back), giving 10% seems a tall task. I mean, there are bills to pay, kids to support, and ends never seem to exactly meet. Sometimes there is far too much month at the end of the money.

But thinking of the tithe as just another "budget item" comes from a complete misunderstanding of who provides our time, our talent and our treasure in the first place. And it reflects a gap in understanding of the concept of "first fruits". I'll explain:

Let's say I hand you five $20 bills and say, "Would you mind holding this for me?" Aside from looking at me strangely, you'd assume you were just holding that $100 for a short period of time and would expect to hand it back to me once I returned. Following so far? But, what if I came back and said, "Hey, tell you what ... why don't you keep four of those $20 bills and just give me one $20 bill back?" You return 20% and get to keep 80%. Pretty good deal, eh? I mean, it was never yours in the first place, right?

This is how we are to view EVERYTHING we have: our money, sure, but also our talents and our time. That's because - in actuality - it is time, talent and treasure handed to us personally by God who says, "Would you mind holding this for a minute?" It's ALL His ... not just some of it. And when we really believe this to be true, it's only logical to not only give God some of it back, but to give THE BEST of it back. This BEST is called our "first fruits".

This is worship.

This is acknowledgement of our blessings - knowing from whence they come and then showing it.

This is only right.

And God does not ask for much. He asks for 10% ... to begin, at least. But those who have taken that step of faith have seen God bless that act of obedience. And this stirs them on to more obedience. Many who have been on this path of obedience have converted to what they call a "reverse tithe": they give 90% back and only keep 10%. "How is that possible?", you say. The answer is simple: With God, all things are possible. With faith and trust in Him, you can move mountains.

And it gets better. With every additional step of obedience past 10% ... with every act of giving past 10%, God doubly blesses your life. This is not "prosperity gospel" I'm preaching here. This is reality - an unbeatable return on our investment of our time, talents and treasure that comes in the form of the same: time, talents and -often times - treasure. Now? Sure, in this life, but more importantly in the life to come.

Where are you on this? Do you have faith that moves mountains? His Word does not return void, and He is faithful to deliver on His promises. Do you believe Him?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Proximity: Why Does it Matter?

Picture this: A small child, obviously malnourished, thirsty, hungry, dirty ... hopeless ... is standing at your front door. When you open the door to see who's knocked, you see the child looking up at you asking, "Will you please help me?" What would you do?

Rhetorical question, of course. Anyone with a heart would rush them inside, quickly feed them and give them some ice cold water, bath them, and show them love. Finding out who their parents are, etc. would be secondary. The imperative would be to help them immediately.

Now picture this: The same child is off your property, 3-4 houses down, standing on the corner. Would you help then? How about if the child was 1-2 miles away from your home?

Now, what if that child was on the opposite side of the globe, in some town you've never even heard of? Still malnourished. Still hungry and thirsty and dirty and without love. What would you do then?

Not such a rhetorical question anymore.

Why does proximity matter? Is the child less in need, less hungry, less thirsty, less in need of love ... because he/she is far away? Again, with the rhetorical questions. But, unfortunately, that is how we look at it. Me included. More appropriately, that is how we don't think about it.

There's a saying for that: "Out of sight, out of mind." We're not evil for not thinking of those in desperate need 24x7. But our lack of thinking about it does not make it magically go away either. Something must be done and someone must do that something. You guessed it - that someone is us ... you and me.

It comes down to a simple truth - We are obligated to help others less fortunate than us. If I have two pieces of bread, and someone else has none, I am obligated to give one. Not by law. Not by some judgmental overseer telling us we must, but because we know it's the right thing to do. Even if you're not a faithful person, each of us has this "conscience" that tells us what we must do. And I don't want to be harsh, but rather to get reality on the table for all of us to examine ... the fact that we don't see those who are so dramatically less fortunate is no excuse for any of us. They are there.

Who can tackle this? You alone? Me alone? No, and no. But you and me and our relatives, our friends, our circle of influence and their circle of influence, et al? Absolutely we can. We just need to start AND (more importantly) continue. Consistently give. That takes two things: (1) intent to do something, and discipline to execute upon that intent, and (2) something that helps us to automate our intent and discipline because it's easy to forget.

Want to learn more? Go to or for details >>

Monday, November 25, 2019

Is "Communism" Viable? Depends on What You Mean ...

Is there a way that Communism could ever succeed? Well, that depends on what you mean by "communism" and how you plan to execute the plan.

Here, now, run by broken, greedy, lazy, self-centered people? No. It just won't. That's been proven time and time and time ... and time ... again, throughout history.

But could it work? Did it ... somewhere and in some way in history?

Let's take a look at Acts 4:32 ...
"All the believers were in one heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had."
Then, in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul encourages the church of Corinth to be generous, so that "your plenty will supply what they need and their plenty will provide what you need."

Sounds an awful lot like communism. Unfortunately, though, many (more often than not, those who don't even believe the Bible) will use these verses to support a Communist governmental system. But - in doing so - they are leaving the 'main ingredient' out of the recipe:
The effect the Holy Spirit has on our hearts, changing them from hearts of stone filled with self-centeredness, to hearts of flesh filled with selflessness ... this must be for anything approaching "communism" to work. If God in Christ is not at the center, it will fail. In fact, it will turn dark.
Communism, in the historically-catastrophic, Atheist-led, depend-on-the-government-for-all-things (as 'god', in essence) way will never work. But communism (sharing of all things), in a biblical, it's-all-His-anyway, others-focused, working-hard-to-your-individual-ability-as-unto-the-Lord-in-order-to-provide-for-the-greater-family kind of way ... oh yeah. In fact, I believe that's how it's meant to be.

If only.

If only we would humble ourselves, let go our grip on the stuff we think is ours, look outward at the urgent need, and let go ... oh, what a better world it would be. Needs would be met, people would be drawn to the Light, they would be receptive to the Gospel, and Christ would be glorified.

If only.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

You Reap (More Than) What You Sow

You reap (more than) what you sow.
I know personally that this is true. The two years following my first true consistent tithe (10% of all income), my wife and I made more money and were blessed with more than in any other decade in our lives. I'll spare you the amount because that doesn't matter.

This is what's important:
We didn't start giving out of a desire to be rich.
We obeyed out of a heart to acknowledge God,
to please and glorify Him, and to be used by Him.

God knows our heart. All he wants is obedience and trust in His promises. And with that obedience and trust comes blessing. This is what His Word clearly states, and I have personally experienced this Truth, many times over now. But that's me and my family, because we choose to serve the Lord.

However ...

Only about 3% of proclaimed "Christians" tithe regularly. Three percent. Imagine if even 25% of proclaimed Christians tithed regularly! What would that amount be, and what would God do with that? Imagine if 50% tithed ... or 100%! Just think about that!

I'm not even talking about more than 10%. I'm just saying the minimum of 10% (where we keep 90%!) to show God that we know it all (100%) came from Him.

And what if we all gained confidence through that first step of trust and obedience and started giving 15% the next year, then 20% the following, then 25% the year after, and so on?

Just imagine.

You reap (more than) what you sow. This is a promise and a challenge. Will you trust Him at His word? I did, and I can testify to His faithfulness.

"God set it up this way because he wants you to become like him. God is a giver. The only way that you're ever going to become like him is to learn to be generous. When you're stingy, you're like the devil.  When you're generous, you're like God. When you give it away, God multiplies it." 
-- Rick Warren

Saturday, November 23, 2019

God Doesn't Need Your Stuff

God does not need your works, your time, your prayer, your anything ...

He does not need it. He is fully self-sufficient. Infinitely so.

That said, He does want your obedience, which shows that you trust Him and appreciate what He has done for you.

Time to put things in perspective ...
FYI, it's not your stuff. It's His.
God is infinite. He is complete in and of Himself. Your works aren't even atomic particles dropped into his ocean of completeness. So don't think for a second that you're doing Him a favor or that He needs you.

But He does want you.
He wants to know that you know who He is and what He's done for you. He created you and the time and place you live in. He suffered and died to pay a debt you owed. He wants to know that you appreciate and trust Him. He wants you to obey, not because He needs your obedience, but to show that you realize that HE is all-knowing, all wise, and all-powerful ... an infinite being who simply knows exponentially better than you.

He is your ultimate Father. He wants your love and respect, just like we want love and respect in the relationships we have with others. Again, He doesn't need it. It doesn't make him more complete, because how do you become more than infinitely complete?

Trust Him in His promises, and show that you realize becoming more like his Son is what's best for you. That's obedience. And that humble heart is what pleases Him.