Give To Those In Need

The temperature has plummeted here in the upper Midwest…as I write this morning the temperature is -29 and the “feels like” temp is -50.  Every day in every part of the world there are people in need…people who lack in some or all of the basics in life like food, shelter and water.  No one person can help everyone, however, one person can help one other person.  Don’t quit trying because the problem is too big…God loves every person in Creation…and every single person has something that can help at least one person, it is not all about possesions and things or stuff.  Take inventory of your life and surroundings, give thanks for the blessings you have and seek wisdom to understand what God is asking you to share with those in need right where you are…you don’t want to miss being a person who can provide for the need of another.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  Amen.

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“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 14:31

(This photo was taken in December of 2013 in northwestern Wisconsin…that is a picnic table on a deck)

Be Generous

To be generous is to be a giver, not just in terms of money.  There are far more valuable things in life than money to give.  A generous person has a certain mindset, an attitude and perspective about life and things.  A generous person focuses very little time on what they receive or if they will receive, as that often takes care of itself because they are givers.  Givers carry many of the characteristics related to the Fruits of the Spirit…they often exude kindness, goodness, gentleness, love, joy and patience.  They are generous with their time and focus very little attention on what’s in it for me.  To learn more about what it means to be generous, learn more about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ…you will find all you need to know in God’s Word.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  Amen.

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“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)

Give And You Will Receive

The messages we keep getting from all around us are “get more”, “take what is yours”, “protect it”, “mine”, “not yours” or “me first”…the world emphasizes selfish behaviors and attitudes and people wonder why there is so much conflict and suffering.  This is not how we were made to be.  When God created us out of His love He gave us free will because when we choose to give, it has such a deep impact compared to being forced to give and serve.  Let’s talk about our pets as a simple example…if you have ever owned a dog or a cat you may have experience in the joy one feels when our pets give love and affection freely versus when they choose to do other things…and often times the pets receive better attention and affection when they are givers rather then when they are demanding to get!  If you have never owned a pet I recommend watching the movie ‘Marley and Me’ to see this illustration.  The point is when we make a choice to help, to serve and to give we are showing the love of God through our actions and we will have no need to worry about what we receive.  May the peace and joy of the Lord be with you.

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing

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“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

(This photo was taken in May of 2014 on a lake in central Minnesota)

Looking Back…God Has Always Been Near

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As I continue to reflect on my faith journey, I have come to realize that God has always been in control and here I thought I had my hands on the wheel of life…bad things happen to everybody.  We all experience that moment of “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that, that is terrible” either something bad happens directly to us or to someone we care about or to a complete stranger.  We also all experience the “Why doesn’t anything go my way?” feeling at one time or another.

Here is what I have learned…the key to these moments is your perspective.  The more you think about “me” or “I” or “how this or that affects me” the more you may feel bad or negative about things.  Trying to focus more on how what has happened affects “him” or “her” or “them” and what can I do to help and support him or her or them will not only help others but also will help how you feel.  This is not an easy transition and just like faith you never completely finish working this part of life.

An example to demonstrate…

When I graduated from college there was nothing available in my field in business.  I worked in restaurants while continuing to search for a position in my chosen major, Human Resources.  This went on for 10 years before the first opportunity to work in my field presented itself as I was able to make more money in restaurant operations positions than in Human Resources.  Finally, a chance was presented and I was able to able to start my career.  I have spent the last 11 years working in my chosen field.

Here is what God was doing while I was focusing on “my career”…

In my first restaurant job after college he brought the woman I was going to marry and am still married to today into my life.  Early in our marriage when we moved to CO for a job for me he blessed us with our first child.  When we moved home to MN he led my wife and I to our church that we still attend now.  He also placed me in a job next to a Christian college that broadcasts a Christian radio station that I have listened to for the last 15 years.  He continues to guide and grow my faith and my family in many ways which I can only see if I am focusing on God and my relationship with him and others instead of myself.

The time period in my life described above is the same number of years…in both descriptions the only difference is the perspective of events.  If I choose to focus only on my work it is not very fulfilling or rewarding, in fact it is frustrating.  I now try to look at work through this perspective:

“Scripture adds a purely benevolent purpose to work: to earn money to provide for our needs and the needs of our families and then to give it away to others.  The overwhelming thrust of the Scriptures is that as God sees fit to prosper us, our abundance should begin to spill over and start benefiting others who, for a variety of reasons, are in need.”

               -Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, Men’s Devotional Bible

What ways can you start to change your perspective and try to find balance between focus on self and focus on others?