Discovering God’s Capacity
About the Guest
You were meant to bloom! Businessman Jack Alexander, a former recipient of an Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award, reminds us that God can and will provide all our needs especially if we put Him first in our lives. Just as Jesus fed the 5,000 by taking the bread, looking toward heaven, and blessing it, we also can consecrate what we have by offering our all to the Lord, whether that be our tithe, our children, or our talents.
Businessman Jack Alexander reminds us that God can and will provide all our needs especially if we put Him first in our lives.
Discovering God’s Capacity
Bob: Are you giving money to your local church or to Christian ministries, or are you investing your money in God’s Kingdom? Jack Alexander says, “There’s a difference.”
Jack: As a business person, for the last few decades, when you really realize that you’re making an investment, it goes in a different bucket than when you’ve lost something or you’ve spent something. I think, sometimes, when people give, they think they are losing something; whereas, in the Kingdom, God will always give you a return.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 22nd. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk with Jack Alexander today about the difference between giving and investing and about how we can cultivate a generous heart. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think I’ve shared this before—but I could take you to the spot, in the hallway at KWGS radio, on the campus of the University of Tulsa—KWGS was the college station, where, as a freshman, I went and knocked on the door and said, “How does somebody get to be on the radio?” [Laughter] They said, “Well, you can sign up here; and we have auditions that come.” I signed up; I went through the auditions; I got a shift, Tuesday nights, from nine until one in the morning. I was on the air,—
Dennis: Prime time; huh?
Bob: —playing whatever records I wanted to play.
Dennis: Probably more college kids were listening at that point.
Bob: Probably nobody listening other than—[Laughter]—I think Mary Ann listened, from time to time, because we were dating; but I remember—I thought nobody was listening. I’d been on the air for about two months; I was in the station one day. The station manager came up to me; and he said, “What’s your name?”
I said, “It’s Bob.” He said, “You do Tuesday nights; right?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Where did you work before you worked here?” I said, “Well, no place—this is the first radio station I’ve worked at.” He said: “Really?! Well, you sound good.” I could go back—I want to put a marker in the hallway, right there.
Dennis: That was how many years ago?
Bob: That was in the fall of 1974.
Jack: He heard something and saw something.
Dennis: That was right after the flood; wasn’t it? [Laughter]
Bob: Radio had just been invented. [Laughter] But I have to tell you—here is somebody who saw something in me that I kind of hoped was there, but I didn’t have any idea if that was really there. Now, you can jump ahead to 2018; and it helped mark my life to where I am today.
Dennis: Yes; and what a sweet ride it’s been—it really has been a privilege.
We’re going to talk about people’s capacity and what’s wrapped up in their lives and how they were made to bloom.
They weren’t made to remain a bud, but the beauty and the fragrance from their lives needs to be released. We’ve got a gardener with us on the broadcast, who knows how to release the capacity of human beings.
Before I introduce Jack Alexander to our radio audience—I don’t know if I’ve ever done this, Bob. I need to apologize to Jack; because on an earlier broadcast, I introduced him as Crawford Loritts’ friend; and that was the only—the only way I introduced him.
Bob: —the only credentials you gave him.
Dennis: It was like he didn’t have any other credentials.
Bob: It’s all he needs.
Dennis: Jack, I know that you have a lot of credentials besides being Crawford Loritts’ friend, who is a key pastor—
Jack: That’s a great credential.
Dennis: Yes; it is—in Atlanta, Georgia—but welcome back to the broadcast. Thanks for coming on back,—
Jack: Thanks, Dennis.
Dennis: —even though I offended you.
Jack: Thanks, Bob.
Dennis: Jack is the Chairman of the Reimagine Group.
In 30 seconds, Jack, what does Reimagine Group do?
Jack: We work with churches—we’ve worked with over 1,500 churches in the whole area of stewardship and generosity—but it’s basically trying to move the church to a more holistic sense. We think what we call, “the money narrative,” has sort of ruled churches. We’re trying to use story-based video to stimulate people to give their lives away.
Bob: When you talk about generosity, you’re not just talking about financial generosity; you’re talking about whole-life generosity.
Jack: Well, the money-narrative people say, “Well, if God’s got your money, He’s got your heart.” We’re saying, “If He’s got your heart, He’s got your money.” I think there’s some merit to both; but it’s providing some balance, I think, to the approach.
Dennis: How many companies have you owned in your lifetime?—just to give our listeners an idea that you haven’t always been in church work.
Jack: No; I’m still involved in business—two main companies. One grew to be the second largest corporate travel company in the country, and one became a pretty large technology company—
—so those are the two main ones. Right now, I’m chairman of a company called onQ which provides interactive learning and communication software to companies and ministries.
Dennis: Well, Jack is also the recipient of the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He and his wife Lisa, who he has been married to since 1979, live in Atlanta. They have three sons and five grandchildren. He has written a book called The God Guarantee—subtitled: Finding Freedom from the Fear of Not Having Enough.
And just real quickly, the book is all about scarcity and how people think, “scarce,” when they need to be thinking, “faith, and belief, and trust in God,” and seeing God use them and increase their capacity to make an impact in others. Explain the word, “scarcity,” before we start talking about capacity.
Jack: Well, again, the book asks the question:
“Would you live, love, and give differently if you knew that God would provide for all your needs?” I mentioned on the last broadcast that Chip Ingram estimates that 85 percent of Christians have the scarcity mentality rooted in fear that there is not enough. Also, there’s another lie that people believe in—the prosperity theology.
This book is—basically, God promises us an abundant life—but 11 different times in the Gospels He tells stories about how He provides for us; so, then, there are four steps to each of those—it is: take, bless, break, and give. We’ve come up with four concepts of capacity, consecration, challenges, and community—so try to really do diagnostics on this pattern and believe that it really represents how to live a sacramental life—
——it’s how to give your life away. As you become the person that God is calling you to become—that He provides for you along the way.
Bob: That’s what prompted me to think of my radio story, back in college, because somebody came along and saw capacity in me that I hoped might be there; but they affirmed that. In that affirmation, they unlocked something. We can do that for one another; can’t we?
Jack: We definitely can. I’m thinking of Pierce, a 16-year-old that I mentor right now. His father died of mad cow disease eight years ago. I’ll get with Pierce, and I’ll tell him—his dad was an inventor—and I’ll talk with Pierce about things that he’s thinking about and things he could invent. I try to see things in Pierce for him that he might not see for himself.
I think I’ve done that in businesses; I’ve done that with boys without dads; I’ve tried to do it in my own family. It’s one of the biggest gifts you can give someone—is telling them what you see and speaking blessing into their life.
Bob: I’ve watched you [Dennis] do this with teenagers you’ve known over the years, where you’ll take somebody and speak words of belief and affirmation into a young man’s life, where he doesn’t know what he’s thinking; but you say, “You know, I think God’s going to do great things with your life.” That may be a by-faith statement when you make it with some of these young men. [Laughter]
Bob: But you are hoping/praying that that will spark something inside of them and unlock capacity.
And talking about capacity and unlocking somebody’s capacity—that’s a great gift you give somebody—but I really like where you go in the book, because you say that capacity has to be consecrated—it has to be brought under God’s guidance and leadership. It has to be offered up to Him before it becomes something that’s not destructive. Unconsecrated capacity in somebody’s life can actually destroy them; can’t it?
Jack: That’s exactly right.
When Jesus, again, took the bread and the fish, the first thing He did is—He looked to heaven. I think the tendency of people is—we look at circumstances. Jesus knew—He saw the 15,000 people; there were 5,000 men—but He saw that there was something more in those elements, so He looked to heaven. I tell people: “Always look to heaven first.”
Then, He blessed it; He consecrated it. In the Old Testament—it is sort of an Old Testament word—like Joshua 3:5—it says: “Consecrate yourself today for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things.” When you read the Old Testament, they consecrated common articles. When you think of the Sabbath, where God made it holy / He set it apart, He said, “Consecrate the Sabbath.” Our tithe—our tithe is supposed to be set apart—it’s supposed to be holy.
That’s something, I think, we are missing in our Christian culture today—
—is inviting God’s presence, power, and holiness—
Jack: —into addictions, into problems, into issues, into our days, into our finances. Like when somebody asks me, “Should I tithe?” I’ll say, “When you’re inviting God’s holiness into your finances / when you’re recognizing the Sabbath—when you’re inviting His holiness into your time—things change.” I think that’s the transformative power in these miracles.
So, last broadcast, we talked about a couple, who were [challenged], and we talked about surrounding them with people that love them and speaking blessing into them. Well, the next thing they should do is pray.
Jack: They should ask God to do a new work and do a new thing and consecrate that.
My wife and I—when we got married, on our wedding night, we got our knees, and we consecrated any children we might have to the Lord.
Bob: We’re really talking about a reprioritization of everything in life. Consecration says: “I’m not living for my passions anymore.
“I’m living for God’s agenda now.” When I think about giving—now, people stop thinking, “Well, I can’t afford to give now,”—they kind of start thinking, “I can’t wait to give, because everything has been surrendered.”
Jack: See, there’s almost a rhythm of creation. If I look at Genesis 12, God says five different times in the Abrahamic covenant: “I will bless you.” Then, two times, He says, “And you will be a blessing,” and “You will be blessing to the nations.” So, the rhythm of this covenant of creation is that God gives to us; and then, we give to others. When we receive from God—but we hold on / we don’t let go—we’re like interrupting that rhythm of creation. It’s the sowing and reaping thing—when we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly.
Dennis: Yes; it’s interesting. Right after Genesis 12, you find the first use of the word, “worship.”
Do you remember what it’s used as? It was the act where Abraham offered his son, Isaac—
Dennis: —as an offering. The ultimate sacrifice—as far as Abraham was concerned—that was the seed of the future.
Jack: In the New Testament, Paul says that God first preached the gospel to Abraham when He said, “You’ll be a blessing to the nations.” So, the gospel is really all about blessing, and God blesses us in that we were created to bless others.
Dennis: And I just want to remind our listeners—I think a passage of Scripture we’re not talking about among ourselves nearly enough today—the Apostle Paul said it in Romans, Chapter 12, verses 1-2. It’s all about what we’re talking about here—consecration. Listen to what He says: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”—then, he says—here’s the purpose—“that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Many times, we want the will of God—the good, the acceptable, and the perfect—without the sacrifice first that must come as the result of consecrating our lives to God.
Jack: Well, our friend Crawford uses the saying that: “Every sacrifice is an investment.” I think, as a businessperson for the last few decades, when you really realize you’re making an investment, it goes in a different bucket than when you’ve lost something or you’ve spent something. I think, sometimes, when people give, they think they are losing something; whereas in the Kingdom, God will always give you a return.
Bob: That really does go to, kind of, the next phase you talk about in your book:
“Capacity is identified and unlocked; then, it is consecrated—it’s set apart for God’s use. Then, the next thing that happens is we start to experience challenges.” Those challenges have a refining/redemptive work in our lives; don’t they?
Jack: I call it—that’s where God reorders your life because, again, in consecration, you are saying—with the addiction or with the issue, with a challenge, with finances—whatever it is—you’re saying: “God, come in. I want to set this apart for You; I want Your presence; I want Your power; I want Your glory.” Then, He starts rearranging the furniture.
I think it’s easy to say, “I don’t like this,”—I call that “the wilderness” in the third section of the book. I’ve been a Christian for 40 years. I feel like the church—it’s almost apologetic of the wilderness—it’s like: “Well, God’s got you in the wilderness right now. It’ll teach you something”; but in this section, I talk about, if we don’t, what I call, “make friends with the wilderness,” then, we’re not going to go into the wilderness for others—
Jack: —we’re not going to bear their burdens; we’re not going to experience the transformation in our life or, sometimes, in other people lives. This wilderness is where we get, one on one, with God; and He redirects us.
In my life, where we’ve had death; we’ve had paralysis; we’ve had just many tragedies and disease. During that time, where I would cry out to God, I’d just say: “God this isn’t right. It doesn’t seem fair.” I mentioned to Dennis—you, earlier—about Lisa’s sister, who got polio from her baby and then her husband abandoned her. She has become a Christian. On the National Day of Prayer, she has people into her apartment. She’s been in the wheelchair for 38 years.
We had, like, no money when she got polio and her husband left her.
I remember us saying to Lori—we prayed for her—we said: “Lori, we’ll always be behind you. You’ll never need to worry.” I look back at that prayer of faith, and it’s just like God has provided—she needed $75,000 a year to live, and that was 38 years ago—and God has provided for her in just an amazing way. I think leaning into these awful, hard times—it just takes so much faith.
And just for any radio listener, who is out there, I just want to hug you right now and just say: “God is God, and He’s got purposes. He can care for you.”
Bob: Yes; you say in your book that, in the wilderness, our reaction is: “God must not love me. I wouldn’t be here if God loved me”; but the wilderness is a place where God takes us. Sometimes, in the wilderness, we experience and know God’s love in a deeper way.
You were in the wilderness—you and Barbara—when your daughter gave birth to Molly, your granddaughter.
Dennis: Oh, yes—valley of the shadow of death.
Bob: And Barbara said you saw God more clearly / sensed Him more deeply in the wilderness, than we sometimes do in the day to day.
I got an email this morning from a friend of mine—he said, “We just got back from the doctor, and it’s the first time hospice has been mentioned in the conversation.” He said, “Nobody ever wants to hear that, but it looks like that’s where we are.” I wrote him back, and I said: “You know, you’ve been on a hard path. Now, the path—the incline has just gotten steeper, and the temperature has gotten colder, and it’s cloudy.” I said, “But God is there in the midst of that, and He’s going to pour grace into you as you walk that path.”
Dennis: Usually—not every time—but usually, when someone walks through the valley of the shadow of death, the key that makes it bearable—obviously, is his relationship with Christ and crying out to God—but also, it’s people with skin on, who wrap their arms, like you [Jack] did, verbally, a few moments ago—
—you said, “If there is someone listening, who’s hurting, I want you to know—I want to hug you.”
Dennis: “I’d love to be able to hug you.” This issue of community is absolutely vital if a person is going to go through and fully reach their capacity before God.
Jack: That’s correct. We look at the concept of orbiting in the community—and just that everything that God created—if you look at the heavens, there are central objects that orbit. If you look at atoms and molecules, there is a nucleus; there is orbiting there. When man fell, we became the only non-orbiting part of the universe.
Basically, as followers of Christ, Jesus said, “I came to you as one who serves.” Jesus came to orbit around us. He says, “Is a servant greater than his master?” What God has shown me in my life, especially in the last 15 years, is—
—He puts people in my life for me to orbit around. In doing so, it humbles me. New relationships are created; God opens up new things.
When you really look at this four-part pattern, capacity shows us what God can do. Consecration dedicates something to Him. Challenges, basically, bring us to our knees—like in Deuteronomy, it says / God said to the Israelites—He brought them into the wilderness to test them and to show them what’s in their hearts. Oftentimes, we need to be tested; we need to be shown what’s in our heart. All of that’s vertical—those first three steps are vertical—then, He says, “Now, go horizontal.”
I think the problem with community—what I see in churches—is churches will say, “Community is the most important thing we do.” People get into small groups, and they don’t click—they say, “This isn’t working”; but see, in this pattern of provision, God first shows us what He can do with us.
Then, we consecrate it to Him. Then, He breaks us down; and by the time we’re broken down and we get into community, we’re ready to orbit. We’re ready to consider other people as more important than ourselves.
I think churches make a big mistake of pushing people into community and saying, “This is the answer.” I think thousands of people are disappointed, because they haven’t followed God’s pattern of provision.
Dennis: They may not have found the four or five people or couples that they need to do life with—
Dennis: —who can speak into their lives and not be afraid to say something that will take the brokenness and put some salve on the wound and, maybe, a hug around the neck and just encouragement not to quit—because, when you are in the midst of one of these seasons, where everything is tough—and you’ve had several of them; Bob, you’ve had a number; I have too / Barbara and I have gone through—it seems like almost every phone call is bringing a new challenge.
Well, those are moments when you’ve got to lean into the friends, who know you best, and let them speak into your lives.
Jack, I want to thank you for your humility to let us into your life and talk about, kind of, your low points and the challenges you’ve faced and some of the missing pieces that you felt, as a young man, growing up, but how God has used that. I’m just kind of smiling here, thinking, “God, You delight in taking these matters that we might—we might think of just as wounds—and You turn them into holy scars.”
Jack: He does.
Dennis: He does. I want to commend your book to our listeners: The God Guarantee. Get it and go through it with a group of people. I think you’ll get the most out of it if you do that.
Bob: You can order the book from us, here, at FamilyLife®. Go online to FamilyLifeToday.com to order, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the title of the book is The God Guarantee: Finding Freedom from the Fear of Not Having Enough by Jack Alexander.
Order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to place your order.
You know, what we’ve been talking about today—our kids having confidence in God’s provision and being generous—these are the kinds of character qualities that we want to see develop in all of our children. It’s one of the things we talk about in our video series, the Art of Parenting™. We’ve had thousands of parents who have started going through the free online Art of Parenting resource, and we’ve got thousands more who are lined up to do Art of Parenting small groups this summer or into the fall. You can find out more about the Art of Parenting when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
We’ve also created a four-week devotional series for parents called the Growing Together devotional series. Each week, moms and dads can work together with kids, talking about and doing activities around different themes—
—things like communication, service, gratitude, kindness—the kinds of things we want to be true about our family and about us, as followers of Jesus. The Growing Together devotional series is a free download. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to download this resource and begin using it right away with your family.
These are the kinds of resources that we develop at FamilyLife because our mission is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world. We want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are monthly Legacy Partners or those of you who will, from time to time, make a donation to help support this ministry. During the summer months, our donation levels often dip as people are in different life patterns. So, if you’re able to help with a donation today, we’d love to hear from you. You can make a donation easily, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to donate at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we’re going to talk about God’s grace, and the gospel, and how that all works together with mental disorders or mental illnesses. Matthew Stanford is going to join us, and I hope you can join us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We’ll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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