Living Generously

This week we heard that Mavis L. Wanczyk, a hospital worker of Chicopee, Massachusetts won US$758.7 million, the largest undivided jackpot lottery win in U.S. history.

Go on, admit it. You spent a minute or two deciding how you would spend that kind of money if it had been you.

Obviously, there are winners in all kinds of lotteries but the odds of winning a big prize aren’t all that good. I’ve done a little research and you’ve got a much better chance of being killed by lightning, being blackmailed or seriously injuring yourself while shaving. While I’d prefer to have 758.7 million dollars in my pocket than the other three options, I know that the chances aren’t all that great so I don’t bother buying tickets.

On top of that, there is a lot of evidence that shows those who wind a windfall will generally end up bankrupt or in a worse situation within three to five years.

Jack Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won a $315 million in a lottery in West Virginia in 2002. The then-55-year-old West Virginia construction company president claimed he went broke about four years later and lost a daughter and a granddaughter to drug overdoses, which he blamed on the curse of the Powerball win, according to ABC News.

“My granddaughter is dead because of the money,” he told ABC. “You know, my wife had said she wished that she had torn the ticket up. Well, I wish that we had torn the ticket up, too.” Whittaker was also robbed of $545,000 sitting in his car while he was at a strip club eight months after winning the lottery. “I just don’t like Jack Whittaker. I don’t like the hard heart I’ve got,” he said. “I don’t like what I’ve become.” – Time

Jack Whittaker’s isn’t the only bad news story to come from lottery wins. Studies show that many winners struggle with suicide, depression, and divorce.

But that wouldn’t happen to me.

We like to think that we’d be somehow different if we were in that situation. We like to think that we’d be one of the success stories.

All the bad news stories still don’t stop me from thinking of what I would do with a huge windfall if someone gave it to me. I’d hope to secure my financial future, help out some friends, and give some substantial funding to a number of causes I’m passionate about.

What would you do if you were suddenly millions of dollars richer?

The interesting thing is that most people would spend their money in the same way, whether they had a lot or very little. The extra money would magnify the patterns that have already been set. If you’re the kind of person who only spends on themselves, you’re unlikely to become generous to others if you suddenly become rich.

If you are generous when you don’t have much you’re likely to be generous if a large sum ever comes your way.

I remember a few years ago speaking to a woman living in extreme poverty while trying to raise her son. She made false eyelashes to earn an income of just 30 cents a day. When her infant son got ill, her friends, all living on around the same income, gave her money to help. They didn’t give out of an excess that someone had given them, they were generous even with the little they had.

All the talk of giving to good causes if people ever get the money to do so generally comes to nothing unless we’ve set the pattern with the little or much that we already have.

I don’t have a lot of money but I do try to support causes that I believe in. I’m very unlikely to ever find myself swimming in cash but if that ever happened, I hope that I would be generous with my money.

What are the patterns you’re setting now? Are you generous with what you already have?

Don’t live on the dream of something that is never likely to happen. Generosity isn’t about the amount you give, it’s a heart thing. Choose today to live with a heart of generosity towards others. Look for opportunities to give to those who are in need.



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Farewell Glen Campbell

Glen-Campbell

The world has lost a great talent with the passing of musician, songwriter, presenter and actor, Glen Campbell. He was 81 years of age.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

Campbell released more than 70 albums during a remarkable 50 years in show business. He sold 45 million records during his lifetime. Among the 70 albums there were 12 Gold albums, four Platinum albums and one Double-platinum album.

He also won many awards including five Grammy Awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame honors and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Academy of Country Music awards and a 1998 Pioneer Award recognition, three American Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards and a 2005 Country Music Hall of Fame induction, three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

The Final Years

In a sad twist, the man who created so many memories for millions of people slowly lost touch with his own memories.

In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. According to his family, symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming more and more evident as the years progressed.

Campbell went on a final “Goodbye Tour”, with three of his children joining him in his backup band; his final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. During the tour’s concerts and rehearsals, Campbell would often forget which songs he was supposed to play, repeating them after finishing a performance. He also frequently had to be reminded that he did have the disease, and relied on a teleprompter to remember the lyrics to most songs. Newer songs from his later albums had to be scrapped altogether, as Campbell struggled to remember the chords and lyrics for these. He performed “Rhinestone Cowboy” as a goodbye at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012, his final televised on-stage performance.

In April 2014, news reports indicated that Campbell had become a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. On March 10, 2015, NBC News reported that Campbell could no longer speak for himself.

On March 8, 2016, the Rolling Stone reported that Campbell was living in a Nashville memory care facility and that he was in the “final stages” of his disease. – Wiki

A Personal Reflection

Back in February 2008 I took my then 11 year old daughter, Emily, to see Glen Campbell performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) at the Burswood Theatre in Perth. The concert was absolutely amazing.

I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan before seeing his show but many of his songs have helped fill out the soundtrack of my life. At that time I was working in radio and I was asked by WASO if I’d like the opportunity to interview Glen’s daughter Debby on 98five Sonshine FM just before Christmas 2007. At that stage Debby was travelling and singing with her dad on some of his tours.

I enjoyed chatting to Debby (You can hear the interview by using the audio player at the bottom of this post.) and when I was asked if I’d like to go to the show I was more than happy to accept.

Having WASO involved always meant that it would be a spectacular show but it was even more impressive than I could have hoped.

Glen Campbell took to the stage and opened with Gentle On My Mind then Galveston and then continued to roll out hit after hit. His voice was in fine form but his guitar playing was extraordinary. Seeing him play the William Tell Overture on his 12 string electric guitar was breath taking. When he perched the guitar on top of his head and continued playing at lightning speed I just thought to myself that a guy of his age really shouldn’t be able to do that. He was 71 years of age at the time but apparently no one had told his fingers that.

When Debby was introduced I was ready for a change of pace and possibly some good vocals. She blew me away. She has a magnificent voice and it amazes me that she isn’t recording and performing full time. As well as doing a few songs on her own she joined her father for a number of duets. Brilliant.

The song I was really wanting to hear was the first one after intermission. As soon as the orchestra started playing I knew that Witcheta Lineman was on the way. It’s a song I love and the performance didn’t dissapoint.

Towards the end of the evening Glen Campbell walked on stage with some bagpipes which he said are the most temperamental instrument he’d ever tried to master. He used the bagpipes to great effect during a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

The evening was completed with a fantastic version of McArthur Park. It’s an incredible piece of music and the orchestra really got the opportunity to show just how good they are by performing faultlessly.

Oh … and about me saying that I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan … I sure am now. I added some of his music to my collection right away and always enjoy listening to such an enormously talented man.

Glen Campbell will be sadly missed by millions.



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Walk This Way

We often hear of people being in the right place at the right time. When we talk about those ‘right place, right time’, moments we’re generally thinking of something good happening for someone just because they were where they needed to be to take advantage of a particular situation or opportunity. It’s as if circumstances came together to bring about something good.

Those moments are generally viewed in the light of their benefit to us. They’re about something good happening for us and those close to us.

But what about being in the right place at the right time to do someone else good?

While it’s human nature to be looking out for circumstances that might work in our favour, I wonder if we actively seek the opportunity to bring a benefit to others. Do we seek opportunity to benefit people we don’t even know?

People of faith tend to talk about how God has blessed them. There’s an understanding that good things come from God’s hands but aren’t we meant to be God’s hands to others? Do we pay any attention to the opportunities God sends our way to do good to other people?

If we truly believe that God has provided for us in some way do we really believe that it’s only for our benefit?

The following passage from Ephesians talks about the incredible way that God not only brought good out of bad but actually turned death into life. It points out that it’s all from God rather than from our own efforts.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10

The first thing that jumps out to me is that we’re already in the right place at the right time to receive this incredible gift from God that flows to us because of his great mercy and love for us.

But there’s more.

We have been created in Christ Jesus for ‘good works’. We’ve been put together by the master craftsman to do good and the good works we’re meant to be doing have already been prepared for us to do. Our task is to ‘walk in them’.

The last verse talks about us being crafted and created for a purpose. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for a purpose. That purpose is ‘good works’. The good works don’t save us, the previous verse makes that very clear, but our ‘right place, right time, moment should lead us to create more right place, right time moments for others.

It seems to me that if we’re meant to be ‘walking in good works’ that have already been ‘prepared beforehand for us’, we should pay some attention to opportunities to do just that. The good news is that the path has already been set before us so we need to be in tune with God as we actively seek to be in the right place at the right time to bring about something good for our family, for our friends, for strangers.

I wonder how different our lives would look if instead of only praying for God to bless us and to give us the things we want in life, we prayed for God to bless others through us. Maybe we need to ask God daily to show us the good works he has prepared beforehand for us to do on this day and for him to give us all we need to walk in those good works.



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