Category Archives: Generosity

Less Is More

If I had to describe my New Year’s resolutions for this year in one word, it would be “constructive.” I want the things that I do to serve a useful purpose. That’s not to say that I’ve been useless in previous years, it’s just that I haven’t been as effective as I’d like to be (welcome to the club, right?). This year, I want that to change. I desire to be more productive in the things that matter. I want to love more, give more, save more, lose more, and just plain accomplish more. Oh, and did I mention that I want to do it all with less? “More for less”––sounds like a TJ Maxx ad. Here’s what I mean:

Less impatience, more restraint

Goal: Too subjective to measure so get off my back already! (Sorry, I guess I got my work cut out for me.)

Less calories taken in, more pounds taken off

Goal: Me minus 20 lbs. (or 5 slices of pizza per week, same thing)

Less spending, more saving

Goal: Cut my specialty coffee / dining out expense in half (my belt size too)

Less debt, more freedom

Goal: A slave to lender no longer (except for mortgage)

Less TV, more time (for God, family, and my dream)

Goal: Read through entire Bible, do not neglect my family, post blog three times weekly, and write a book to have ready for publication

Less of me, more of Him

Goal: Take up my cross daily. (And two aspirin ‘cause I’m already getting overwhelmed.)

WOW! Sounds like less leisure, more exhaustion. What about you? Are your goals for 2009 big or small . . . audacious or cautious . . . lofty or puny . . . ambitious or attainable . . . more or less?

Here’ s some inspiration from Pastor Steven Furtick:

I’m sorry to say that your dreams are too small too. You serve the God of inexhaustible, all sufficient, overflowing resource. Whatever you might imagine God wants to do through your life in your most faith-filled, bold, reckless moments, multiply it by 10. Take it to the 100th power. Double it again. Now you’re starting to uncover a fraction of the blueprint God has already drawn up.

Sometimes, under the guise of getting wiser, growing deeper, or waiting on God, we let our audacity atrophy and set the stuff that made us special on the shelf. That must really insult God.  After we’ve already seen Him part seas, kill giants, and multiply fish and loaves, we should be more inclined to push our chips to the center of the table, not less!

It turns out God isn’t intimidated by my big requests. He is insulted by my puny ones.

Twas’ The Night Before Christmas: Blessing

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
The oven was going, and so was my spouse;

The gifts were all wrapped, stacked under the tree,
Too many to count, more than the eye could see;

The children engrossed with yesterday’s toys,
Too excited for rest, awaiting tomorrow’s joys;

And mom in her apron, and I in my Santa’s cap,
Bustling around without time for a nap;

When alongside the house there arose such a clatter,
I sprang into action to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Rolled open the blinds and threw up the sash.

The moon as the backdrop of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes did appear,
A small stream of smoke rising up from so near;

You gotta’ be kidding–no, it’s no joke,
I knew in a moment, the darned furnace is broke.

More rapid than eagles my curses they came,
And I ranted, and shouted, and called them by name;

“You blasted old stinker! You big piece of crap!
Oh, dang it; it’s stupid, needs a swift foot tap!”

To the top of my limits! To the top of my lungs!
I scream in disgust while speaking in tongues!

As four letter words from my mouth how they fly,
My tools I must get for our visitors are nigh;

So down to the garage my feet how they flew,
With the heater to fix, aft’ fourteen years ‘twas due.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard a door slam,
Must be the ‘Olds of sweet Pap and Gram.

As I paused for a moment, there came a thought,
Of an early time when I was just a tot:

I was dressed in my best, from my head to my feet,
Awaiting Christmas joy in a house that had heat.

A bundle of toys Dad flung on his back,
In a cheap Santa suit, as if from Cracker Jack.

My eyes — how they twinkled! My grin from ear to ear,
I knew I’d get what I’d wished again this year!

But one must have endured the crowd at the stores,
And negotiated the traffic as if in World Wars;

At the drop of a dime, a million was spent,
With gifts to spare yet short on the rent;

As for all the grub, there’s a surplus for sure,
Hungry as a horse, last meal was at four;

Then up to bed for Santa’s to come,
To rise before dawn to restart the fun;

More gift, more food, more camaraderie,
More blessed than if we’d hit the lottery!

That’s when it hit me, there are people without,
Have we forgotten what this thing’s all about?

The greatest gift, God sent His Son,
Not only for me but for everyone.

I dropped to my knees, forgiveness I seek,
I felt in my heart, the Lord about to speak:

Go in peace my dear child, sin no further,
But share my gift with the least of these your brother!

by Brian Shaw
(Assimilated from the original by Clement Clarke Moore)

Remember the reason for the season, and be sure to remind someone else as well!

March On!

People, Christians included, tend to have the logic to sort of lay low or back down when times are tough. For example, secular and Christian charities alike seem to be taking the biggest hit from the economic crisis that the world finds itself in. Non-profits, at least the Christian ones anyway, shouldn’t be suffering much. Isn’t a crisis a time for the Church to shine even brighter? If we are in the world but not of it, isn’t that a call to be different than the world? If Jesus is the difference in our lives, shouldn’t that be evident in our deeds especially in a trial? Let me put it another way: If we serve a God who saw a problem (sin separating us from Him) as an opportunity for action (redemption and reconciliation) despite great sacrifice (His son’s death), wouldn’t it not only make sense, but also honor God greatly, for us to do the same?

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,” says the Apostle Paul. This is not a season for God’s people to back down; it’s an opportunity for us to rise up and advance the kingdom of our Most High God! If you’ve relaxed any area of your spiritual walk, consider doing like the Macedonian churches, giving “as much as you are able, and even beyond your ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3) regardless of the current hardship. God will not only sustain you but He will reward you for your faithfulness. March on good Christian soldiers!

Other scripture references for further study:

Hebrews 10:35-39

2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Hebrews 4:14-16

Deal or No Deal?

Wall Street and Main Street might well be Easy Street compared to the effect the current financial calamity has had on Skid Row (in keeping with the “street” theme––no disrespect intended). With little money to go around these days, perhaps the charitable organizations have been the biggest victims. Some companies have realized this as an opportunity, not just for generosity but for profitability too.

Saturday night, we went to Ruby Tuesday’s with some friends. At the end of dinner, the server solicited a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank through the purchase of a half-dozen cookies. I was familiar with the name of the organization from a story about the shrinking support of charities caused by the worlds economic mess. Earlier in the day, we drove through a shopping center parking lot that was hosting a media-sponsored food drive for Second Harvest. So as you can imagine, my heart was being softened for an organization that is apparently starving for resources. Upon further questioning though, it turns out that the cookies cost $8.99 with only 10% (or about $0.90) going to Second Harvest. WOW––what a lame way to be charitable.

Who would I really be feeding by buying those cookies? $1 to “feed” the hungry and the remaining $8 to feed six cookies to a “healthy” couple still full from a $40 meal. Something about that just didn’t seem right. We did make a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank but it wasn’t through buying cookies (I need a cookie like I need a hole in my head). Through another corporate donor, Harris Teeter (a grocery chain), we purchased two $5 gift cards that will go directly to Second Harvest to be used at their discretion. Here’s how it all adds up:

Option 1:
$40 meal + $10 cookies = $1 donation (or 2% of total cost)

Option 2:
$40 meal + $10 gift cards = $10 donation (or 20% of total cost)

Did we make a good deal? Yes, we made a very good deal! To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). God wants us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, the man who made the most of what was given him was rewarded generously and the one who did nothing, neither spent it nor invested it, received nothing. Are you making good “deals” with what God has blessed you with?