Giving in 2012

Let’s get the basics out of the way…I strongly encourage you to check out Compassion’s catalog.  You can purchase gifts and make donations that give life and bring God’s love and light to a dark world.  As you read and think about what giving Biblically means in your life, I encourage you to consider Compassion.  They are a fantastic organization doing great work around the world for “the least of these.”  #itsaboutgiving

Question posed:  What does it look like to give Biblically in today’s culture?

Our culture has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, with the boom of technology and growth of the internet.

When I was younger, to give meant getting a name of the giving tree at the local mall or dropping some coins in the Salvation Army bucket.  I was not exposed to the need beyond my community.  I knew it existed, but I didn’t REALLY know the need.

Now, we are bombarded by awareness of need and tragedy.  My Facebook feed has more requests for donations than status updates.  Every time I open my email, I feel the need that exists.

But then are we desensitized by the overwhelming nature of things?  I remember hearing statistics the first time, the shock and horror that I felt.  Now hearing the number of orphans in the world, doesn’t get to me the way that it once did.  Sure, I feel the burden — the desire to be a part of the solution.  But it is different.

So, getting back to the actual subject — giving Biblically.  What I think is most beautiful is that Biblical giving has never really changed.  It’s the same.  God’s expectation’s of us are the same — how they play out is different, but the basis is the same.  And it’s the same for me and you.  God expects us to give sacrificially.  (Check out my post on sacrifice for more thoughts on that.)

We are so blessed.  Abundantly blessed.  Check out this for a great reminder of just how blessed we really are.

In America, we have resources at our fingertips that millions and millions of people around the world, do not have any access to.  Water for instance.  Can you imagine getting through the day, cooking, cleaning, drinking, laundry, dishes, everything — on a couple of gallons of {dirty} water?  That you spent hours hauling for miles?  We think that we have busy lives.  Imagine what you would have to give up if you had to walk a few miles each time you needed some water.  And that using that water could cause your family to become ill, even die.

Question:  When you think of giving, do you feel joy or obligation?  Does handing over that money make you happy?  Or do you give just enough to not really feel the sting?  That you don’t really need it, so it’s ok to share?  What if God asked you to dig a little deeper…to give a little bit or a lot more?  Would you feel joy then?  Is giving money harder to give than purchasing a gift for a needy person?

Think about what God has said about His expectations of your giving (my emphasis):

  • 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. ~ Deuteronomy 15:10
  • 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 11: 24-25
  • He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. ~ Proverbs 28:27
  • 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 small 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
  • And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” ~ Luke 3:11
  • In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35
  • Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
  • If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? ~ James 2:15-16

Reading God’s Word about giving is refreshing and convicting.  This is truth, no matter our outward circumstances.  We are to meet the needs of others.  Even in our own poverty.  We should give until it hurts (Francis Chan).

I will leave you with these quotes about giving…they are pretty powerful.

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” ~ Richard Braunstein

“Remember this—you can’t serve God and Money, but you can serve God with money.” ~ Selwyn Hughes

“As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Give this Christmas and throughout the year.  I challenge you to follow Francis Chan’s words about Biblical giving and give until it hurts.

Love — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Mark 12:28 – 34

I chose this topic to kick off my posts because when I think of living second, I think of loving God first.  And I also think of loving others before myself.

When I was younger I used to think of love as being this amazing feeling, you have it all the time.  Everything is happy.  Everyone is happy.  Life is good.  Love will make it all better.

Then, I got older.

Life happened.  I realized that life is not always happy.  That love sometimes doesn’t last.

But love can last.  Even through the icky stuff.  It’s that euphoric, over the top feeling that will never last.

Every relationship I have ever had (parents, siblings, children, dating, etc) goes through changes.  It’s that ebb and flow of life.

There is a person in my life, whom I love so much.  I have known them since before I had memories, they are a big part of the fabric that makes up my life story.  My life wouldn’t be what it is today if they were not a part of it.  But our story is not all happy.  There has been deep and immense pain in this relationship.  Broken trust.  Some of my greatest pain has been born from this person.  Times of not feeling love.  Times when I really truly felt that I didn’t ever want to see them again.  Deep wounds that have healed, but left a scar on my heart.

Thankfully I have another person in my life, who also loves this person and loves Jesus.  They consistently spend time in prayer for us.  Offer a shoulder to cry on when they pain gets too much.

But healing has come.  It happened slowly.  After a devastating event, I cut myself off.  No calls.  No visits.  No nothing.  I did not want to see them or talk to them.  This went on for six months (an eternity for us).  Through the prayers of a small little girl, my heart began to heal and soften.  Contact was made.  Redemption.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but it gets better most days.

Over the years, a lot of reading, and even more prayers I have learned a significant truth.  Hurt people hurt people.  And only God can bring the kind of healing that will mend those hurts.  But sometimes people are so shut off that they don’t want to hear about or from God.  It’s easier to wallow in their own hurt and self-pity.

That’s where love comes in.  Our love for them.  Our love for God.  I could not love this person in my life the way that I am able to without God.  Humanly, I couldn’t do it.  It’s too hard.  But God breathes this beautiful love for them into my heart, that sustains even when the happy love feeling is no where to be found.

And because God has given me this beautiful love, I can show them that love.  But I had to make a choice.  A choice to accept the love God has for me.  A choice to show that love even through my own pain and hurt.  And sometimes I don’t make the right choice.  But thankfully God continues to work on me and His love is unconditional.  Available.  And it redeems the broken.  Overcomes the wrong choices.  Offers healing.

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “Love is not a feeling.”  Amen.  It’s not a feeling at all.  Sometimes it comes with a feeling.  But love itself is not a feeling.

He goes on to say that love is, “The reason for our creation and the foundation of all relationships.”  If we don’t accept that, our life’s purpose will be unfulfilled.  Our relationships will end without that foundation.  Life is meaningless without God’s love.

I hope that you have chosen to accept God’s love for you.  To live for Him first and foremost.  Because in living second, there is immense freedom.  There is joy where it seems impossible; hope in the darkest of places; and healing in the most shattered and broken places.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Book Review:  Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Basic Info…

Title: Crazy Love

Author: Francis Chan

Publisher:  David C. Cook

ISBN-10:  1434768511

ISBN-13: 978-1434768513

Website:  Crazy Love Book

My thoughts….

I love how easy to read this book was.  It was well written, soundly based in Scripture, but it still remained easy to read. For me, when a book has a lot of theology and Bible verses and explanation of those verses using history and Greek/Hebrew translations, it’s not something I pick up when I only have a few minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, I think those books are extremely important.  But Francis Chan easily conveyed significant verses with real life examples and made this book life changing and powerful.

I am a huge fan of listening to Francis Chan preach, but this was the first book of his that I have read and I can’t wait to get his others.  I love…

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It’s About Giving

I am now a blogger for Compassion International!!  This is my first assignment from them…  The #itsaboutgiving party just kicked off and we are going to be focused on giving! Yay!

First of all, Compassion has set a goal of $20,000 to reach by Christmas to help children living in poverty.  To do your part, visit Compassion and check our their catalog.

I give because I love Jesus.  And He has called me to give.  For me, being authentic and really following Christ, means giving.  Always, with my whole life.  It cannot be an after thought or something that I do because it gives me warm fuzzies.  It’s been written on my heart, to love and to serve and to give to others.

I have always been inclined to give at Christmas, but it’s become so much more this year. And this year I am poorer than I have ever been.  Which makes giving a bit more creative, there’s more thought and more intention behind each act of giving.  It also means getting over my pride and accepting blessings from others.  Being the recipient of a gift is much harder for me than giving a gift, but I am blessed to have a God who loves me enough to meet my every need.

Because my non-existent finances (I survive on $175 a month and I have a ten year old daughter) for most of the last year, I can’t just write a check.  Therefore, I have been forced to really look at what giving is, what God expects of me.  While I do give financially, that gift is very small.  But…I do have lots of stuff and I have found that instead of bring me joy, it just stresses me out.  So, I have very intentionally went through my closets and cupboards to find nice, good quality items to bless others with.  It’s a way to give, with intention and love.  I want to bless people, to show them the love of Christ.

My daughter and I also are doing Random Acts of Kindness to celebrate Advent this year.  Every day we do something to show others love.  It might be giving time to serve the homeless, it might be taping quarters to candy machines, it might be picking up litter, or raising money to buy stamps for an at-risk youth ministry.  But it’s all about giving and loving others.

The phrase “#ItsAboutGiving” to me really is talking about life.  Life is about giving.  It’s not just a Christmas thing, God expects us to give all the time.  Our culture tends to focus on giving at Christmas, which is awesome.  But I think we need to do a better job the other eleven months of year.  We don’t get off the hook for the rest of the year.  I have learned that being a Christian is consistently giving of ourselves, it’s always been focused on loving others.

Why do you give?  How do you give?  Is giving significant?  I want to hear your thoughts.  God bless.

Book Review: Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

This is from my personal blog…I thought I would share it here as well.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Basic Info…

Title: Kisses From Katie

Author: Katie Davis

Publisher: Howard Books

ISBN-10: 1451612095

ISBN-13: 978-1451612095

My thoughts….

Probably the best book I have read in years.  I literally could not put it down.  My conversations have been littered with…Katie Davis said…and in the Kisses From Katie book…and so on.  When I was thinking about what I would write about the book, I picked up it and again….could not put it down.  I could re-read it again and again, learning and growing each time.

After finishing the book and through reading Katie’s blog, she really writes honestly and transparently.  It leaves you feeling like you are her friend.  Like she is writing to you, to tell you about this amazing adventure.

I already had a soft spot in my heart for Uganda and their people, but this book really took that to a whole other level.  I long to be…

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Tangible Ways.

There are a lot of ways to serve these kids.  Some are bigger and require a huge commitment, others are smaller.  It’s important to remember that not everyone is called to adopt or work in the developing world, there is so much that you can do right now, right where you are.

Of course, there are the basics that we think of when we think of orphan care.  And these are very important.

  • Adopt a child.
  • Become a foster parent or an emergency foster parent.
  • Volunteer or go on a mission trip to an orphanage overseas.
  • Donate to a reputable ministry or agency who works with orphans.
  • Pray for them.

However, if those are not a possibility in your life right now, there are a lot of creative ways to serve.

To serve local children in foster care:

  • Bring a foster family a meal (or two).
  • Offer to help a foster family with house cleaning, yard work, or shoveling their walk when it snows.
  • Pray for them.
  • Hold a food and necessities drive for the families in your area.
  • If there is a group home, find out if you can hold a game night.
  • Hold a play date for foster families to get together with you and some of your friends.
  • Become a mentor, informally or formally.
  • Become a CASA volunteer.
  • Regularly encourage families who are fostering – send them a card, give them a call, let them know that you are there for them.
  • Become a tutor for a foster child.

To serve in the Church:

  • Coordinate an event for Orphan Sunday (November 3, 2013).
  • Start an orphan care ministry at your church.
  • Plan an event to educate and encourage your church (Faultless is a great movie to show.)
  • Organize a prayer summit for members of your church and community.  Get serious about praying for orphans.

Educate yourself and your community:

  • Learn some of their stories.  Talk to foster or adoptive families about their children’s past.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of orphan care.
  • Host an event and show the movie Faultless.
  • Read Reclaiming Adoption, Kisses From Katie, The Hole in Our Gospel, Crazy Love, just to name a few.
  • Network through social media.
  • Check out great organizations and get involved with them.  (Some great ones are: Lifesong for Orphans, Christian Alliance for Orphans, Together for Adoption.)

Support those who are adopting:

  • Throw them a shower, even if the child is an older child.
  • Offer to babysit so the pa.rents can enjoy some down time.
  • Pray for them

Other good ideas:

  • Reach out to a child who has “aged” out of the system and become a mentor and a friend.
  • Connect with grandparents raising their grandchildren.
  • Let those who are working on the “front lines” of orphan care know that you are thinking of them and keeping them in prayer.