Thursday, January 31, 2008

To Tithe Or Not to Tithe...That is the Question

I had a friend approach me the other day about the Biblical mandate to tithe. She stated that God did not command us to tithe ten percent, and that it should be a free will offering, the quantity joyfully determined by the giver. Let me state first and foremost that the word 'tithe', and it's original Hebrew 'Maser' mean tenth. So, really, it is not a question of the quantity, it is a question of whether it is a command to tithe, or not.

The Old Testament refers quite a few times to tithing. It was a law in those times. Critics of tithing argue that we are no longer bound by the law, but by grace, since Jesus shed his blood for us. They also argue that the tithe was a 'tithe of the land', giving a tenth of of crops and livestock raised on the land, for the Levites. The Levites were not given a division of land, but were promised a share from the land distributed to the other tribes so they could continue their work for the temple of God instead of having to seek a livlihood.

There are few mentions of tithe or tenth in the New Testament. Jesus spoke of it when rebuking the Pharisees.

Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Jesus tells us that justice, mercy and faith, are the most important things, and they were being ignored by the Pharisees. But he tells them not to pick and choose one or the other, but to do BOTH. He did not want them to be so focused on their tithe, believing that they had met the requirements of the law, and were therefore exempt from meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of the poor. Jesus tells us to feed the poor and clothe the poor, but not to just meet their physical needs and push them away. He wants us to embrace them, love them, and tell them about God also.

I have heard and read arguments for both sides of the tithe issue. I know that both sides are gifted at picking apart the scripture the other side chooses in defense of their views. I am not. I am not a debater.

The reason is that I don't care if God commands me to tithe or not. I am going to tithe whether it is a command or merely a suggestion or request. I am not interested in meeting the bare requirements of the law. I am interested in honoring God by being a sacrificial giver. I was once at the point where I was not a tither. I gave maybe one percent, and then, only if I had it on me. And I was struggling financially. It hurt me to hand over that five or ten dollar bill. But it wasn't really a sacrifice. I didn't go without anything because I handed it over.

My family reached a severe financial struggle when I first quit work. My husband made less than a thousand dollars a month, and our house didn't sell, so we had a $535 house payment and a car payment to cover with that, along with insurance and groceries...and tithe. We did not stop tithing. I will admit to you that things were difficult. We did not have our choice of foods. We were pretty much going through the stockpiled pantry items we had and what I could buy with a few dollars a week. Some weeks we bought nothing. We didn't go hungry. We may have had beans and water a few meals, or spoons of peanut butter, but we did not go without. This is the way we saw it. We gave God the opportunity to provide. He knows our needs, and promises to provide for them, if we are faithful. O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:30-33 We actually went three weeks without buying any groceries, and God met our needs. Some days we would come home to find a neighbor had left a bag of greens or some other garden goodies on our door. Right after those three weeks ended, we had a party and fed over sixty people. God made that possible.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." 2 Cor 9:6-9 Some interpret this to mean that a person should choose the amount they desire to give, but not beyond the line of discomfort. I believe that the intent of this passage is to show people that they must have a heart change about their giving. It is not their giving that needs to change, it is their intent and attitude. Paul tells us that if we sow sparingly, we will reap a sparce harvest. I think he is trying to give us the key to unlocking the door to prosperity. I would be foolish to discard that key without a second glance.

Another reason I tithe is in support of the furthering of God's kingdom through our church. I have faith that our church is meeting the needs of not only people that attend our church, but people in our community at large, and I want to be a part of making that happen. I realize that the more money they receive, the more money they can pour into making a difference in the community. I think God receives honor and glory for this outreach. And, quite selfishly, I realize that as other people in my community are brightened with the light of Christ, it ripples back to me.

God owns everything. I do believe that he expects us to give a portion of what is already his to those he has chosen to carry on his work. Does he need our money? No! There are many things that he doesn't need from us, but does expect from us. But I do believe he expects us to give out of submission and reverence for him.

I don't believe it is entirely for him. It is for us! We benefit when we tithe. We loosen the hold that money has on us, and give God the opportunity to meet our needs and prosper us. God wants us to be generous in all matters - in love, in mercy, in forgiveness, and in money. And for that reason, if for not other, I will continue to tithe generously.

"Judge not , and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:37-38

What about you? What are your experiences with tithing? What has study of the Bible directed you to in relation to this subject? This is one of those subjects regarding which people have a rather strong opinion. Please leave your comments...but show respect for the opposing view.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Johnny The Bagger

If you are a business owner, an employee, a parent, a teacher, or anyone who comes in contact with others (that is everyone, right?!) you need to click on this link and watch this short video about Johnny the Bagger.

It tells about what service from the heart is, and the incredible change it is capable of accomplishing. It doesn't take long to watch, and it is an inspiring story.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Three Pennies

When my husband and I decided God wanted for me to quit work and home school our girls, we just knew we had to sell our house to accomplish it. So we put our house up for sale....and it didn't sell. God showed us that if we were obedient, he would provide. And we managed to keep our house AND me stay home and home school.

Recently, God started giving us a vision. He gave us a vision of a community - a community with 'koinonia' at the center of it. This community was a place where people committed to God's vision for their lives, would live as the church. They would be given the opportunity to live in fellowship with each other, be better stewards of their resources, and reach out to the greater community. This vision was planted in the hearts of more than one person, and when those children of God came together to discuss their ideas, it was obvious that the idea was not their own, as there were too many parallels in their dreams.

God has planted the idea for this type of community living all across our nation, and even the world. There are communities popping up all over the world, their members, disciples of Christ, intent on reaching the world with the love of Jesus Christ, not merely through their words, but through the lives they are living. These people believe they can change the world, and they are taking action to ensure that they do.

God is in the process of lining up all the variables to create just such a community here - Koinonia Community. We have laid awake at night wondering how all of this is going to be accomplished. I mean, we don't have the money to buy a bunch of land, let alone build such a huge thing as a community. We haven't even found any land! What are WE going to do? How are WE going to do it? WE won't.

I heard the story not too long ago of how Mother Teresa arrived in India intent on building orphanages. She was asked how much money she had to accomplish her task. She told them she had three pennies. She was told that she couldn't build an orphanage with three pennies. She replied that with God and three pennies, she could do anything.

We don't plan on building a community. I mean, really, how would God receive the honor and glory for something WE accomplished? He wants to get us to the point that there is no doubt in the minds of people, GOD did this thing! It could not happen without HIS hand! Attempt something so great it cannot succeed unless God is in it....and have faith in miracles. Do you believe in miracles?

What is Keeping Me Away From You.....

I haven't been blogging as much as I would wish here lately. I am beginning to make some bath and body goodies, and have been busy in the kitchen making some wonderful goodies for Valentine's baskets. I believe they are almost complete. Want a sneak peek?

Well, I hope everyone enjoys them. They should all have very soft skin. There are no beautiful swirled hand crafted soap bars included since I have been having some soap-making issues aka. severe challenges. I have had to scrap over 13 pounds of soap. Sigh!

Anyways, enjoy the pictures. I should be back to writing a bit more since I will have less time in the kitchen playing the part of mad scientist.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Purpose of Life

The other day in the car, my husband and I were listening to a sermon about 'Marriage by Design' that a friend passed on to us. It is really cool! But one phrase stuck with me that I quickly jotted down to share. The speaker was talking about some of the worldly views of the purpose of life. One biggie is security! And he talked about how, young women, seduced into marrying for security, often marry men that God did not intend for them to marry. They marry young men who are not prepared to be a spiritual leader for the home...their vision clouded by the opportunity for financial security.

I have been writing about how tightly we cling to our 'stuff', fearful of letting it go - afraid that we may not have the opportunity to obtain more stuff. We let others go without because it is OUR stuff. We hoard! It makes us feel secure. Here is what the speaker said:

"We are taught to get all we can,
Can all we get,
And sit on the can!"

Isn't that a great way to put it? Catchy phrase, isn't it. Is that really what we are being taught? I look all around me. I think we are. But there is a fringe of 'revolutionaries' struggling to teach a different message. Before seeing the word revolutionary, you start picturing a huge uprising, look at the definition of revolutionary. Merriam-Webster defines revolutionary as 'constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change'. I believe our views need a change...a major and fundamental change!

These people are struggling to get people to see the purpose in life the way Christ taught it. Christ taught that we are to serve others. He taught that we are to meet the needs of others before our own. For our obedience, God will meet our needs and grant the desires of our heart. That doesn't mean we need to give everything away and go without 'stuff'. The opposite of hoard is not give. The opposite of hoard is share. When we use our stuff to serve others, instead of hoarding it, we use it for the purpose God intended. When we share our stuff with others, we use it for the purpose God intended.

We can change the worldly view of the purpose of life. We can change the worldly view of stuff. All we have to do is teach by example. Let it go. Let it release it's hold on you. We fool ourselves into believing that we are in possession of our stuff, but in reality, it has possession of us. We are afraid to let someone else use it and mar it's shiny newness. How often do we not use it, afraid of marring it's shining newness, or decreasing it's value? Our stuff can fool us into looking out for it's interests instead of our own. But we have the power to release the grip our stuff has on us. Get off the can and let it go!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quick Quote of Note

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, religion or background. Hatred and intolerance have to be learned and, if they can be learned, so can love and tolerance, which are more natural to the human heart. Even in the grimmest times I have seen glimmers of humanity which have reassured me that man's goodness is the flame that can never be extinguished."

Nelson Mandela

Monday, January 21, 2008

Please Join in Our Prayers!

We have been trying to sell the house we are living in for awhile now. We had it sold the first of June 2007, just a couple of weeks after putting the sign in the yard. It was a pastor and his wife that made us the offer. They offered us more than our asking price, stating that God had given them that figure after telling them they were to buy it. The husband, after walking to the back yard, and seeing our fire pit said, "I told my son my new house was going to have a stone fire pit". There were so many things like that said during their visits. Then they took pictures and went home to pack and arrange to sell their house. We were all in contact with a lawyer who was drawing up the contract. Then they called. They said that when they got home and started looking around, they realized they have too much stuff for our small house. And they HAD to find a place with enough room to keep it all. Seriously! And they withdrew their offer. God must have not realized they had all that stuff when he told them to buy our house.

That is the biggest story surrounding the sale of this house, but there are many more smaller oddities that have occurred. Some would take that as a sign that we aren't supposed to sell and move, and originally, we had our doubts. But God has continually showed us that he still desires for us to build a physical 'Koinonia Community'. We have realized, though, as this past year has progressed, that he still had stuff to show us, and we still had alot to learn, to prepare us for what he had in store to accomplish through us.

Early on, we had the house for sale by owner. We wanted someone else to handle the details. So God sent us to a friend of ours through church. We are both positive that we did what God prompted us to do. But the problem is that our friend was an agent with a small company, and from outside our area. So our house didn't get exposure with agents and buyers looking for a house in our area.

The last time we had it listed (several years ago), when the contract was up, we received phone calls and letters and brochures from a ton of agents, ready to pick up the contract. Our contract ran out over two weeks ago, and we have not been contacted by a single agent. None of them know it has been for sale. Our exposure has been limited to drive-bys.

We aren't as discouraged as we could be. We know that we were obedient to God, and that he has something incredible in store for us. We know that he already knows who is going to buy our house, and that when the time is right, he can bring that buyer to our house, regardless of the circumstances. We know that all these little adversities and setbacks are necessary to not only prepare us, but to ensure that honor and glory is brought to God through what is accomplished. After all, God likes a big story. But we are ready to go!

I have also looked at land to purchase and have run into a bunch of what appear to be stumbling blocks. But when I pray about it, God keeps telling me he is going to give us the land. Well, I kept interpreting that as 'show' us the land. What if he really means give? If someone were to give us the land, there would be no doubt that Koinonia Community was born out of the hand of God. It would be obvious that it was his creation, not ours. But alas, we are still just guessing....and waiting.

Koinonia Community is going to be a way of doing modern life following a first century model. It would involve sharing, communion, participation, communication, and giving. It is going to provide an opportunity for people to be better stewards of the resources God has entrusted to their care. That means, by sharing things such as lawnmowers and tools, more money will be freed up to distribute to the needy. That means, by living in close proximity, and with fewer individual resources necessary, we should be able to tread more lightly on this earth. And we hope by simplifying our lifestyles to be able to provide more spiritually and emotionally for our families and neighbors.

At this moment, I am asking for anyone who reads this to join me in prayer for Koinonia Community. We desire to sell this house. We desire to find the land God has promised us. We desire to get all the necessaries lined up to make it happen. We want to do something amazing! And I thank you for being a part of it through your prayers.

Every week since we were handed this vision, I have had scripture on my board to look at and pray daily. They change every now and then, as I am prompted to change the tone of my prayers. These are the ones that are there this week.

Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 107:30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Ezekiel 34:27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslave them.

Psalm 39:6-7 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fancy Snow/Slush Lady

My creative genius, Alea, made this little lady out of a trace of snow and slush on the ground. Isn't she beautiful?! Homeschooling at it's finest, folks!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The father of a good friend of ours shot himself last Sunday. This week has been an emotional roller coaster. I just don't understand. I have been depressed before. I even had moments, before I turned my life around, of complete and utter dispair. Maybe because I was always such an 'approval addict', I just could never imagine doing such a thing.

Our friend was in a skiing accident about 7 years ago, and was paralyzed. A natural athlete, he never gave up. I have seen him ride a modified bike, race a so many things with such zeal. His father was there to help him through it every step of the way. I think his accident actually strengthened a previously weak bond with his dad.

Then his dad took his own life. We had to wait in line for over two hours at the funeral home to see the family. There were so many confused people there, waiting to pay their respects. I don't think any of us understand. But I can't help but think...if only he knew he was important to this many people.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looking For A Daily Bible Study? With Question and Answer Forum?

......look no further. You will have a couple days catching up to do, but it will be well worth your time.


A Double Cone with Sprinkles on Top...Please!

Look around you. How many Christians do you know? A few? A dozen? More? How can you tell they are Christians? What is the difference between them and your other friends? Are they kinder? More loving? More generous? Or are they just like everyone else....but mention Jesus every now and then?

What does God expect from us as Christians? What does 'Christianity' mean anyways?

Christian: One who thinks the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Ambrose Bierce

The church has failed to follow her appointed pathway of separation, holiness, heavenliness and testimony to an absent but coming Christ; she has turned aside from that purpose to the work of civilizing the world, building magnificent temples, and acquiring earthly power and wealth, and, in this way, has ceased to follow in the footsteps of Him who had not where to lay His head. C. I. Scofield

The true call of a Christian is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Dean Stanley

A certain sense of cruelty towards oneself and others is Christian; hatred of those who think differently; the will to persecute. Hatred of mind, of pride, courage, freedom, libertinage of mind, is Christian; hatred of the sense, of the joy of the senses, of joy in general is Christian. Friedrich Nietzsche

If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. Isaac Asimov

Christianity has been buried inside the walls of churches and secured with the shackles of dogmatism. Let it be liberated to come into the midst of us and teach us freedom, equality and love. Minna Canth

Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. Mahatma Gandhi

Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men. Voltaire

The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life. James L. Christensen

Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to the garage makes you a car. Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Everyone has a personal opinion on what being a Christian entails based on their own experiences. I think some people believe a Christian is someone who, out of reverence for Christ, refrains from activities they see as 'bad'. So they believe a Christian is someone who tries to be 'good' or do good things. For them, a person is behaving as a good Christian if they don't drink, do drugs, gamble, or have sex outside of marriage. If a person claims to be a Christian and stumbles in any of those areas, they are seen as a hypocrite.

Others believe that a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is the son of God, and that is enough. They live their lives just like everyone else, but they sprinkle Jesus in here and there. I envision their lives as a big ice cream cone. Everyone's life is an ice cream cone. But they cover their ordinary cone with rainbow sprinkles. The sprinkles consist of some witty religious t-shirts, maybe an emblem on their car, maybe a few scriptures posted through their house, or a Bible they carry to church on Sunday. Maybe they sprinkle their cone with some worship songs. But their lives are no different from that of others. The ordinary ice cream is still there. It is merely covered by a dazzling array of Jesus-colored sprinkles.

When I was a little girl, we used to go by Friendly's for an ice cream cone in the summer. I always wanted sprinkles on mine. Sprinkles were special! But I discovered that covering your cone in sprinkles doesn't change the flavor of your ice cream. They don't sweeten your cone. They only change the way it appears. They are only a deception - a camouflage to make it appear as something greater than it is. The ice cream underneath is just the same as everyone else's.

To me, Christianity means Christ follower. It is not something one does. It is who they are. To be a Christ follower doesn't mean you attend a church and know a few passages from the Bible. It means you follow Christ. It means that you not only allow Christ to be your savior, but you allow him to be your Lord. And it doesn't end there. I believe to follow Jesus, you then pick up your cross. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 I believe he wants us to serve him and to serve others. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. John 12:26 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:17 He wants us to be different from non-Christians. He wants us to live differently, not live the same merely covered with sprinkles. He wants us to stand out in a crowd. And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:17-24

We must change the world's perception about Christianity. We must change the way we act, and the way we live, in order to portray a more biblical way of living. It is not enough to believe in Christ, and to study his words. Me must put them into practice. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

We must learn to pursue Christ instead of pursuing fleeting dreams. A friend recently wrote about the 'American Dream' . I admit I have been hesitant to respond, as I believe the pursuit of the American Dream does not enable us to take up our cross, or to serve others. The pursuit of the American Dream is the pursuit of money, success, and possessions. I don't think any of those things are bad. The problem is that it's pursuit often becomes a set of blinders, causing us to focus our attentions on a single goal. It blinds us to what is going on around us. It blinds us to the sufferings of others. It funnels our vision toward our goal, and toward ourselves. It frequently becomes our master, and we often change our circumstances to serve that master instead of Christ. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24

I think that in order to be the type of Christian that God desires us to be, we need to sprinkle our Christ-sprinkles throughout our ice cream. They may not be immediately obvious to the average observer, and people may not be immediately dazzled by our outward appearance as they would if we were to coat our ice cream. Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 But they are sprinkled through every fiber of our existence. They touch everything we touch, and they influence everything we are a part of. And if you were to dissect us, a part of Christ would be visible in each individual piece.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Joy of Service

As I am sitting here writing this a couple of people come to my mind. I'm sure you have some of the same types in your lives. They are the takers. The people who only participate in activities if they are offered a free ride. They are the ones who cite being on a fixed income, and unable to contribute. They think they are exempt from tithing and contributing because they have so little.

I'm not talking about those folks that don't bring food to a fellowship dinner, or decline going on an outing due to financial hardship. I've been there. I've had others contribute on my behalf when I was unable to give much. What I am talking about is the folks that not only don't bring food to the fellowship dinner, but arrive late, eat first, and leave before clean-up. The ones that ask to go to every outing, but insist that if you ask them to contribute even a small portion will be unable to go, yet don't offer to volunteer to help on the outing. You won't find them serving anywhere, for they are merely waiting to receive.

I know what you are thinking. Freeloaders! They really get under your skin, don't they? These people don't anger me. They fill me with sadness. I pity them. I pity the fact that they see themselves at the center of life instead of Christ. I pity the fact that they don't know the joy of doing for others, even if it sometimes involves self-sacrifice. The life of a servant is a blessed one. Not only does he or she receive heaps of blessings in their lives, but they experience a joy that can't be filled by any other type of activity.

What I want to know is, how do we reach these 'taker' types of people? How do we get them to understand the kind of life that God has in store for them if they become servers instead of merely receivers? I don't believe there is any greater joy than to reach out and serve others. And in serving others, you often learn to recognize the riches in your own life. How much richer would their lives be if they be shown how to grasp that?

Christ's life was one great example of serving others. He came down to live among us and suffer, he served others during his life, and he served us all through his death. I could never give as much as he did. I do have a vision of what true servitude is. When I am in heaven, I want to be able to witness the people whose lives I have touched as they enter heaven. I want to see them rush in and toward Christ. If I have done my job, they won't recognize me. They will have only seen Christ through me, because I made myself invisible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Quick Quotes of Note on Giving

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
— Albert Pike

"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave."
— Calvin Coolidge

Former American President

"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."
— John Bunyon

"Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others."
— Barbara Bush

"Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege."
— John D. Rockefeller Jr.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
— Winston Churchill

"The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving."
— Albert Einstein

"The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others."
— Ghandi

"You will discover that you have two hands. One is for helping yourself and the other is for helping others."
— Audrey Hepburn

"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
— Etienne de Grellet

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cleaning, Cookies, and Linkies

These couple of weeks are busy ones so my blogging will be light. God has impressed upon us the necessity to lighten our load, so we are going through everything we have and redistributing it. It has been an odd couple of weeks. We have taken the opportunity to read. We have taken the opportunity to listen to CDs. We even watched a couple of movies. And everything we have seen or heard has been about having less, and giving stuff away. Not just Christian media either. It is coming from all around us. We just can't ignore it as coincidence.

It is weird, but we have reached the point where not only are we ready to part with stuff, because that alone is difficult to do. But we are embarrassed by the excess we have surrounded ourselves with. We are starting to feel like hoarders. All the stuff that we have just in case we may need it. And if we don't need it, it is there just to comfort us with it's presence. All that must go!

We listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley a couple of months ago. He was on stage with two chocolate chip cookies. He called someone else up on stage and let them watch him eat one of the cookies. He said, I know you are hungry, and one cookie is enough for me, but I may be hungry later. I think I'll keep it just in case. If I give it to you, I may not come across another cookie, and then I will be hungry.

How often do we hold onto that cookie, and let it go bad? Sure, someone else could have enjoyed the cookie. Sure that cookie could have kept someone from going hungry. But we would rather keep it, and throw it out, than to give it to someone to need, and get caught without a cookie.

Want to read something that encourages you and makes you think? Of course you do! Stop by and visit my friend, Starr. While you are there check out some great bargains on used books.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Few Books Worth Reading

I read a few books in the last couple of months that I recommend. Some are for fun, and some of them will truly change the way you look at life. I think God has been speaking to me through some of these books. Some of them have just landed in my lap. I hope you too enjoy them.

Serve God, Save the Planet by J Matthew Sleeth, MD

The Irresistible Revolution - Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Save Me From Myself by Brian 'Head' Welch (from Korn)

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough by Neta Jackson

A Day at the Funny Farm........

Kasi, my five year old, is unknowingly sharpening her comedy skills. She is hilarious, and she doesn't know it. In a totally silent car she suddenly bursts out "I'm psychotic!".

Well, last night she was looking at Alea's crocheting. She hung her head and said "I can't do this. I will never be able to do it. I just can't". I immediately responded "How many things can you do through Christ which strengthens you?"

eye roll "All".

"Does ALL include crocheting?"

"Well, I can't really do ALL things."

"Sure you can."

completely serious with a duh, mom look "Well, I can't fight a jungle cat! And that is something!"

Quick thinking mom says "Well, you haven't come across one yet." ........and walks away. Jungle cat?? Where did that come from?????

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Let us give, let us give, let us give

Yesterday I received my latest pack of goodies that I won in a random drawing from Anne-Marie aka. the Soap Queen. I got some wonderful organic essential oils. I will truly be able to put them to use in making some goodies to give away. See, lately I have been making all sorts of goodies. Recently I have made natural soap, lip balm, bath fizzies, bath salts, lotion, emulsifying sugar scrubs, sachets, therapy packs, laundry detergent, and shower spray. I have had a blast. But I have given them all away. I have not, to date, made a penny off any of those things. A business is on the horizon, but for now, I can just make stuff for fun to surprise people with.

People call me lucky. They ask to know my secret. They wonder how I win so much. They hate to go to a Mary Kay or Pampered Chef party that I am at, as I am frequently the winner of the door prize. Some of us from church even went to a Group Publishing event, and I won the big prize, a women's retreat kit valued at over $100. A friend of mine just rolled her eyes and said "I knew it would be you".

Wanna know my secret? I give almost all of it away. As soon as I see the prize my mind starts working. At a Mary Kay party, the prize is some sort of peppermint leg lotion, I get this immediate thought. "Ohh, Teresa would love that. She is diabetic, and her legs hurt alot. I wish she was here to win it." And I win it and give it to her. The retreat kit? I gave it to our church's women's ministry. (It is a chocolate retreat kit- yum!) They need it more than I do.

I really don't believe in luck. Luck implies that your winning was random, without purpose. I believe that everything we receive has been given to us for a purpose. But we have free will to choose what to do with what we receive. If God ensures that we have enough money or stuff to meet our needs (that's needs - not wants), and still have some left over, we have a choice of what to do with the surplus. I truly believe that if I use the surplus as a tool to help others, more will come my way. I have seen so much evidence of this. That is when he expects me to fulfill some of my wants. *The weird thing is that the more you give, the more your wants change. But to truly open the floodgates to abundance, I need to give, and I need to share.

God doesn't want us to worship any God but him. And we are naturally prone to worship money and possessions in the society we live in. We put them on a pedestal. We attempt to fill ourselves with more stuff and more money. We want to know what belongs to us. We don't easily give it up.

I know several charitable people. They give away all the stuff they no longer need or want, rather than sell it. But how many people do you know that give away things they still use just because another person may need or want it? I think of the story in the Bible about the woman who gave all she had, though it was very little. Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:1-4

This is at the root of koinonia. Sharing, giving, distributing. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. Acts 2:45-47

Don't get me wrong. This is not a command of God. It is not something he demands of us. It is an opportunity he provides for us. It is the key to obtaining the favor of God. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Prov 8:35 Favor from God is an awesome thing. It can mean finding an open parking space, running upon a green light, even winning a drawing. It always provides a feeling of peace, a feeling of joy, and a feeling of contentment. It is filling, and it is lasting. And that is much more rewarding than feeling lucky. After all, luck always turns.

So.....a new year! A new goal? I wrote an article awhile back about whether we can out give God. I think this year I am going to try. Wanna join me?

**I highly recommend you read 2 Corinthians 8 about how generosity is encouraged. Very cool passage!