Giving Only What I Can Afford

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus pointed out to His disciples a widow woman who placed two little coins in the offering box in the Temple.  Compared to the much larger amounts they had seen others give earlier, her offering seemed like nothing.  Yet Jesus pointed out that they had given of their abundance while her offering consisted of all she had – a much greater sacrifice and gift.

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Jesus explained that the rich people had given “what they can easily afford” while she had given “her whole living.”

This has me thinking – do I only give what I can afford or do I give my all?

When we talk about giving in relationship to God, we usually think of money and in this instance it was money that was being discussed.  And certainly I have to admit when it comes to financial giving, I certainly use a lot of my income on myself.  As I look at my checkbook, I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford to the work of God.

Giving financially to God is more than just giving to my local church, although it does include that.  But there are so many other areas where I need to share my abundance with others:

  • helping teachers and schools with supplies
  • buying shoes for children from families who are struggling financially
  • buying a meal for a homeless person
  • taking food to the local food pantry
  • many non-profit organizations like American Cancer Society, St Jude’s Hospital for Children, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the list goes on and on

My first thought is I do not have an abundance financially.  But I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford.  Am I really making any personal sacrifices giving up things I don’t really need, only want, to help others whose finances are much less than mine.

But giving to God is much more than just giving of my finances.  There is my time and my talent.

time

How much of my time do I spend doing things I want to do, things which will help me or my family?  How much of my time do I spend reaching out to others.

This was really brought home to me this past month.  We just moved to a new state.  Just a couple of days after moving in with boxes still everywhere our doorbell rang.  It was a neighbor coming over to say welcome.  My first thought was “how nice!”  I invited her in and we began getting acquainted.  After 30 minutes had passed and she showed no sign of leaving, I must confess I so wanted her to leave.  After all, I had boxes to unpack and a long, long list of things that must be taken care of when you move from one state to another:  new car title and license, new driver’s license, new car insurance,  and my list went on and on.

Finally she left and I told my husband I was worried that she would be a nuisance.  She was elderly and clearly lonely.  She also repeated herself several times.  I dreaded the time she might take up coming over to visit.

Then, I remembered what Jesus said and I felt the Spirit’s conviction as I realized I have an abundance of time.  My husband and I are both retired, we only have one daughter and her family living close by.  We have lots of time to enjoy.

So – will I be willing to give up some of my time – my abundance of time – to spend time with this neighbor – listening to the same story and showing interest as if it was the first time I had heard it?  Do I really need to spend all my time just doing what I like to do, just enjoying myself or do I need to give my all as Jesus would have me do?

So I have determined to visit this woman every week, to take an hour or two to sit and listen to her stories, to make her feel important to me.  To give out of my abundance.

 

 

 

 

My “Compassion” Girls from the Philippines

It started with Claudine.  Claudine was a young high school student living in Cebu City, Philippines.  Through Compassion’s program to help release children from poverty, I began sending a monthly contribution to help meet Claudine’s educational and physical needs.  While in high school Claudine attended the Cornerstone Student Center.  Through the Center – in cooperation with Compassion – Claudine enjoyed good and helpful medical check-ups, help with school work, learned life skills such as cooking and baking and assistance in job applications.

With their help, she filled out her “My Plan for Tomorrow” workbook helping her to plan her future and set goals.  Extra-curricular activities were provided that helped her explore her God-given talents.

We enjoyed years of letters and pictures sent back and forth.  It was a bitter-sweet day when I received her last letter.  She had graduated from school, had a job and was now moving out of the Compassion program.  She was making plans to pursue a college degree.

She thanked me for the monthly sponsorship, for the birthday, Christmas and family gifts, but when she told me what she was most thankful for, tears came to my eyes.

What I will miss the most are your letters where you tell me about your life and what’s happening.

She said she hoped I would still sponsor another needy child like her.

I will never forget you and I will always love you and your will be forever in my heart.

So – in honor of Claudine and her hard work and faithfulness to God and her family, I chose another little girl from the Philippines.

Now comes Rachell Ann

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This time I decided to pick a little girl much younger than Claudine had been when our sponsorship started.  This would give me more years to develop a relationship with her and help her from the very start of life.  It is also nice that Rachell Ann is only 5 months older than my youngest granddaughter, Zoe.

Rachell Ann lives just east of Quezon City.  Because she is so young her mother writes to me for Rachell Ann.  Very interesting to see that the place she would like to visit is the same as many kids in the USA – Disneyland.  But the chances that she will ever be able to do that are pretty small.  While I can’t help her with that dream, I’m grateful that I can help see that this little girl has a better chance of growing up healthy and educated – and know the love of God.

I’m not posting this story to “brag” about what I’m doing.  I’m hoping you will read and decide that you, too, can help bring a child out of poverty.  It costs us so little – it means so much to others.

Check out the Compassion, Inc. site.  See what you can to do to help a child – and therefore a family, be lifted up from poverty.

 

 

 

The Hole in Our Gospel

  What does God expect of us?

The following is taken from the book “The Hole in Our Gospel’ written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns.  It speaks much better than I can of our need to make a difference.  I have expressed my thoughts on this topic in other posts:  What is on Your Menu for the Christmas Meal? and Poverty – It’s Real!

“It is hard to read the headlines each day without a growing sense of alarm.  We hear about terrorism, ethnic and religious tensions, wars and conflicts, corrupt governments, massive natural disasters, climate change, nuclear intimidation, and even child trafficking and slavery.  Our post 9/11 world seems both frightening and threatening, and the majority of us struggle to understand it, let alone do something about it.  The world’s problems just seem too big and too hard for most of us; it’s so much easier to retreat from them than to take them on.  On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, turmoil outside–out of sight, out of mind.

But wait–as Christians, are we really given the option of turning away from the world’s problems?  Does God permit that?

The ideas behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple.  It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God.  It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.

If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith–and mine–has a hole in it.

Embracing the gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus is so much more than a private transaction between God and us.  The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world.  Jesus called the resulting new world order the “kingdom of God” and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of His followers.  Jesus asked a great deal of those who followed Him.  He expected much more from them than just believing He was God’s Son.  He challenged them to embrace radically different standards, to love their neighbors and their enemies, to forgive those who wronged them, to lift up the poor and downtrodden, to share what they had with those who had little, and to live lives of sacrifice.  Then He likened their effect on the world around them to that which light has on darkness.  Light dispels darkness; it reverses it.

Those who choose to follow Christ have struggled since the very beginning to live differently in a world that often rejects their values and mocks their belies.  The temptation to retreat from it and to keep our faith private has befallen every generation of Christians.

Yet we are the carriers of the gospel–the good news that it was meant to change the world.  Belief is not enough.  Worship is not enough.  Personal morality is not enough.  And Christian community is not enough.  God has always demanded more.  When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character–His love, justice, and mercy–through our words, actions and behavior…..

Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.

 

What’s on Your Menu For the Christmas Meal?

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Thanksgiving turkey – Christmas ham?

What a great feast we had at Thanksgiving!  Turkey, dressing, scalloped potatoes, corn, sugared carrots, salad, homemade bread, and of course, pumpkin pie.

After our Thanksgiving meal we had so much turkey left over, we cut it up and made soup with noodles and chicken broth.   It was delicious and we used up our left over homemade bread with lots of butter!

Now it’s time to shop for the Christmas meal.

So many choices.

Shall we do turkey again or ham?  Maybe some Cornish hens?  Scalloped potatoes or mashed?  Maybe some sweet potatoes?  Same salad or a different one?  Homemade bread again or shall we do dinner rolls?  And dessert?  Pecan pie, apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler?

So many choices.

That’s the story for most of us in the USA this year.  However, in many homes across the USA – and certainly in the rest of the world, it’s a totally different story.

What is the #1 health risk in the world today?

Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Tonight as I crawl into bed stuffed after eating 3 good meals today and snacking on apples and popcorn while I watched TV, one in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry.

For some, there are so few choices.

Here are a few statistics on hunger in our world today.*

  1. Over 300 million children go to bed hungry every day.
  2. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds.
  3. Undernutrition is a factor in one-third of all under-5 child deaths.
  4. One out of four children – roughly 146 million – in developing countries is underweight.
  5. 925 million people do not have enough to eat. 98 percent of them live in developing countries.
  6. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union.
  7. Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world’s population and nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.
  8. Women make up a little over half of the world’s population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry.

While I am not suggesting that we should not enjoy our Christmas feast – I certainly plan to – I hope that we will do three things this Christmas season:

  1. Before we begin our feasting, let us truly take time to thank God for allowing us to be born in a country and in a family where we have plenty to eat.
  2. Let us look around us and see the needy in our own community, our own church, perhaps even in our own family – and DO SOMETHING to help make their Christmas a little better.
  3. Let us purpose that in the coming year we will make some changes in our own spending habits and use the money saved to help someone else – in our city, our state, our country or around the world.

What better way for us to really “keep Christ in Christmas” than to remember those less fortunate than us.

*Sources: http://www.wfp.org, http://www.unicef.org, http://www.crin.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.bread.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.childinfo.org

Poverty – It’s Real!

Poverty – for many of us it’s just something we read about or hear on the news from time to time.  We may take a moment to think about those in need – but too quickly we move on to our comfortable life.

Take a moment to reflect on these stats on poverty. – But remember behind these stats are faces of REAL people!

9 important stats on poverty

  1. Worldwide 600 million children are living in extreme poverty.
  2. The cost of eradicating world poverty is estimated at 1 percent of global income.
  3. Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  4. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
  5. 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.6.9 million children under five years of age died in 2011, nearly 800 every hour.
  6. The highest rates of child mortality are still in sub-Saharan Africa – where 1 in 9 children dies before age 5.The number of under-five deaths worldwide has declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011. Nearly 19,000 children under five died every day in 2011.
  7. Globally, the four major killers of children under age 5 are pneumonia (18 percent), diarrhea diseases (15 percent), pre-term birth complications (12 percent) and birth asphyxia (9 percent).58 percent of deaths in children under age five are caused by infectious diseases.
  8. In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (defined as living on $1.25 or less a day.) Data from the World Bank released in February 2012 estimates that 22 percent of people live in extreme poverty.Country with highest number of under five deaths: India.
  9. Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

Sources:

Sources: www.unicef.org, www.childinfo.org, www.crin.org, www.who.int, www.globalisses.com

Ten Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For

At this time of year as we plan our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, we need to remember not everyone has the resources we do.  I am reposting an article on

10 Things Food Banks Won’t Ask for:

(Check source below)

Some items are in high demand at the food bank and you may not realize it. Because they aren’t essentials, the staff doesn’t publicly ask for them. A survey on Reddit.com asked volunteers what items people would be most appreciative of and we’ve listed the top 10 below. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up while shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks.

1. Spices.

Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.

2. Feminine Products.

Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk at Costco for donating.

3. Chocolate.

People don’t need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.

4. Toiletries.

Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Food stamps often don’t cover these.

5. Canned meats and jerky.

This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.

6. Crackers and tortillas.

They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.

7. Baby toiletries.

Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.

8. Soup packets.

Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.

9. Socks.

From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”

10. Canned fruit other than pineapple.

Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.

And remember! Food banks love cash donations because it allows them to buy whatever they need!

Read More: 10 Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For | http://1027kord.com/10-things-food-banks-need-but-wont-ask-for/?trackback=tsmclip