Directly Helping the Poor and Needy #TimCard #Charity365

That awkward moment… when you see a panhandler at the intersection as you’re driving your daily commute to and from work. Each and every day, the same man or woman for a few days or weeks at a time, then maybe a different person for a while, there most days of the work week, and most days you hope to avoid them or to avoid eye contact, at the least. A few more intersections, then you’re home free – for one more day…

‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ -Matthew 25:37b-39

That awkward moment…

…when you see a panhandler at the intersection as you’re driving your daily commute to and from work. Each and every day, the same man or woman for a few days or weeks at a time, then maybe a different person for a while, there most days of the work week, and most days you hope to avoid them or to avoid eye contact, at the least. A few more intersections, then you’re home free – for one more day…

And you feel a little guilty, but it quickly fades away once you reach your warm home, familiar family and friends, and your safe bed, and your peaceful sleep…

Until your next commute…

Continue reading “Directly Helping the Poor and Needy #TimCard #Charity365”

Money is a Test

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The following is an excerpt from James McDonald’s “Found a Faithful Steward” blog from June 23, 2014. It hit home with me because it started at basics and progressed beyond to some things we don’t often consider in how we think about and use our money.

Jesus said,
“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also”
Matthew 6:21

Money is a test of your:

Work ethic: While not universal, generally speaking, if your wallet is empty, you ought to look closely at your work ethic. How hard do you work? How diligently did you work, save, and invest in your twenties and thirties? The test of money hints at the longitudinal arc of your work ethic.

Self-control: You’ll never experience financial victory until you spend less than you make. Some people spend more than they make for years or decades. They’re failing the test, which often leads to financial bondage, tension, and misery in their homes.

Integrity: How did you get what you have? Did you cut corners or twist the truth to win a deal? Withhold taxes? Neglect tithing? Jesus taught, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The money test demonstrates your integrity—or lack therof.

Love for people: When you’re able to meet someone else’s financial need, do you? Can you recall people you’ve helped? Perhaps no one knows. Perhaps you didn’t get a tax deduction. You simply helped and loved others. If so, you’re passing the test.

Love for God: Jesus said more about money than He said about heaven and hell combined. Not because it’s the most important subject, but because until God gets hold of people’s finances, He doesn’t truly have their hearts.

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Found a Faithful Steward, James McDonald

 

How can I give charitably? #Charity365

‘God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Acts 10:30-31

Recently, I checked off a to-do I’ve been meaning to-actually-do for some time: I added two local organizations to my charitable giving to complement my regional and international charitable giving.

I say this with some trepidation because I don’t want to attract praise for doing so–“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”–but what I do want even more is to encourage everyone to consider starting to give charitably so that we can help out those who really need it on an even bigger scale. We are wildly, fantastically rich, in all ways, in first world countries, start giving now and you will begin to see all kinds of personal benefits.

Start anywhere. Really, don’t sweat it.

It’s so easy to start. I started giving $10/month to three charities – less than one percent of my income. As I continued, and realized I could give more, I started increasing my giving and expanding the scope of those I was donating to.

This time around I want to focus on the immediate how-to because it’s so easy and so convenient and is so rewarding to know that, yes, while you are incredibly blessed in your country, you do want to help others and you are trying and you have tangible actions that show your heart is in the right place.

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Jewish Passover and Good Friday

Jewish Passover falls on Good Friday this year. Passover remembers the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt during which God told the people to kill a “lamb without blemish” and paint their doorposts with the blood. God said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you“. If they did this they were saved from the plague of the death of the firstborn. Every year the Jewish people would sacrifice again for the sins of the people. More than a thousand years later, God’s Son came down to earth as the man Jesus Christ, “a lamb without blemish or spot“, and He died a final death, a final sacrifice for our sins, and rose again in “victory over sin and death.” This Good Friday remembers the day Jesus, God’s firstborn, was not spared and was sacrificed for your sins so that when Jesus’ blood covers your sins God can say again “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Selah. Today, “if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.#TheShepherdIsTheLamb #SoliDeoGloria

Sanctus Valentinus: Behind the Verse

Oh, Saint, to your name, thereof,
My question is this, what is love?

On a warm summer’s day, sunshine beaming down on country fields, and in the vibrant spring of my life, many, many years ago now, I once spoke these fateful words to a certain girl I liked very much: I don’t know what love is. What precipitated this sad half-truth was a silly conversation, strewn with longing undertones and yearning unsaids. Half-truth, I call it, and still do, even from the moment the words slipped from my mouth. I knew I could love, I believed I had been doing it for some time, but with such an abstract term, complicated by our overuse, I still wondered at, and was haunted by, the question: What is love?

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Lives of Quiet Desperation

Henry-David-ThoreauMy father, on more than one occasion, has referenced this quotation in various discussions on purpose and meaning: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation“. I’ve been thinking about that lately. So, I Googled the phrase this evening and came across this enlightening write up, entitled Quiet Desperation, on the words, the man behind them, and where those thoughts can lead, either for good or for ill. Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste,

One night very early on in a life, a young boy lay back on the rocky New England soil, contemplating the heavens,  “looking through the stars to see if I could see God behind them.” This quest became one of the primary motivators of his life — one might say he never stopped looking into nature for the ultimate truth.

But what did Henry David Thoreau mean by his famous observation, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”?

You may have seen those Facebook/Twitter/Instagram memes, the ones that say something to the effect of “Everyone you meet is battling inner demons that you known nothing about.” It’s so true. As much as we want to be open and free with our feelings and emotions with friends and family there are some things too deep, too subtle, too sensitive, to speak openly about. I think of the late Robin Williams. A man of laughter but a man of surprising inner turmoil to the point of ultimate desperation. If you don’t have a friend you can talk to, know that you have a friend in Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16,17

Soli Deo gloria

Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.

So, the latest intra-Christian controversy to blow up is popular Christian worship act Gungor’s denial of the ‘literal’ reading of scripture, particularly Genesis, the creation account, Adam and Eve, and the Flood. This of course triggering the day before our traditional day of worship when Christians come together to worship God their saviour in spirit and truth. This, of course, all comes on the heels of the Tim Lambesis story who allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to murder his wife. It’s hard to try to move one’s heart towards God when we’re distracted by emotional issues like these. Here’s a few of the articles circulating:

It’s saddening, frustrating, and distracting…

Continue reading “Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.”

Is this the ultimate Christian love song?

Ever since I made a concerted effort to explore the Christian music scene, and discover the “good music” that I knew was out there, I’ve been aware of the controversy of Christian love songs. Controversy? Yes, in between the awkward attempts and lame lyrics, there were a number of good sounding attempts (for their time), but I found, like many, they played on sophomoric sleight of hand with ‘God is my girlfriend’ lyrics. There are Christian songs that appear to easily swap out “Jesus” for “girl”, and vice versa, without harming the content in anyway. And if the lyrics stand on their own, some are so ambiguous as to cast doubt on who exactly is the subject of the love. Astoundingly, for a faith that holds love as the highest ethic and motive, there are woefully few good Christian love songs. Now, however, I think I’ve found a truly exemplary one: And, if you’re reading a blog like this, I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably already love it, too.

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Song of Songs

Recently, on a Thanksgiving road-trip out east to PEI, I listened to a four-part message from James MacDonald called Romantic Love. I then found my next bible reading book was Song of Songs which that sermon series was based on. I usually share select verses, ones that particularly strike me, on Facebook and I was wondering how I’d do that with the intimate and personal nature of Song of Songs. So, I set myself a challenge: Read one chapter per day and try to find one thing to share from each Song of Songs chapter – something that would be ‘family friendly’ and not so sentimental as to make me look (overly) strange. Here’s the series of verses posted over eight days that I think provides an interesting overview of the whole book.

We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. Song of Songs 1:4b

Happy Easter

So the LORD God said to the serpent [in the Garden of Eden], “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

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