Tag Archives: sharing

Can giving change the world?

With all this talk about giving and stewardship, it’s important that we are not afraid to stop from time to time and ask ourselves – does all this giving making a difference?

We all give for a variety of reasons. People who are not religious may give to take advantage of tax breaks or just because they like to give. People of faith are often called and urged to give with a call to remember what God has done for them. (Although, a lot of us don’t mind the tax breaks either.)

Regardless of how much we give and why we give, the ultimate idea is that we make the world a better place through our sharing with one another. A person who owns two coats gives one to someone in need. A home is built with time and money shared by groups of Christians and neighbors. Ten dollars buys bags of rice and grain to feed a family in the midst of a drought. Giving creates a channel through which others are blessed.

Sometimes, though, our giving may not seem to leave an indelible impact. You may toss in ten bucks to help struggling families in some part of the world, and you may hear of their need again in a year. You may donate old clothes to a clothing ministry only to find out that more and more are needed. You work tirelessly with a local organization to end homelessness and discover that the numbers of homeless in your community continue to rise. The reality is that the world is complex – our giving is not the only solution to the broken systems that dehumanize and destroy people. We have a lot to learn and understand in that regard.

In the meanwhile, what sustains us is the joy that comes from our giving – a joy that opens doors to new ways of seeing and being in this world. Take it from Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution:

People who experiment in sharing may begin out of burden or guilt, but they are sustained by the matchless joy it brings. What delight it is to see others receive the gifts of God, especially when they have been deprived of them for far too long. One of the beggars in Calcutta approached me on day, and I had no money on me, but I felt a piece of gum in my pocket, so I handed it to her. I have no idea how long it had been since she had chewed gum, or if she had ever even had the chance. She looked at it and smiled with delight. Then she tore it into three pieces and handed one to me and one to my friend so we could share the excitement.

Every time you give, imagine that image in your mind – someone receiving with joy even the littlest blessing that you may offer and splitting it up to share with others. Giving can change our world by starting thousands and millions of these chain effects, ripples of sharing from person to person in need. Of course, you got to be willing to do your part, keep the change going by being a steward of what God shares with us in the first place. Are you willing?


Spirituality, not Religion

Are you a spiritual person?

Are you a religious person?

At one time in our culture, I don’t think anyone would accept that you can answer each of those questions differently. If you are spiritual, surely, you are religious. Or, if you are religious, surely, you have to be spiritual?

So many people in our communities have spiritual lives that may exist outside of a church or some other formalized institution. Spirituality can be a simple thing after all – finding connection with nature, spending time with the homeless at a local shelter, resting for an hour of silence in the corner of one’s home, hiking a long trail, digging up a flower bed in one’s backyard, cooking a big meal for family or friends, watching a moving film, and so on. All human beings are spiritual in one way or another, even if it doesn’t come with a sacred text, rules, or regular schedule.

For me, my spiritual life is connected to the time I spend with my family and time I spend with my imagination – reading books, watching movies, and playing games. I also deeply connect to God through music. Not only am I fed on a personal level, but I find my everyday spirituality strengthened and broadened from some of these activities.

How do you feed your spirituality? How do you connect the Holy in your life?

This Sunday, we close out our balance series by exploring our relationship with God as something that is part of our intricate balancing act in our lives. Join us!

 


I am only human.

Stand by for one of the great movie montage clips of all time – Teen Wolf’s big final basketball game.

I used this in the Table on Sunday as I gave my message as a fun way to look at the disciples’ transformation from imperfect, doubting, struggling, confused, frightened humans to imperfect, doubting, struggling, confused, frightened humans who God is using to do amazing things in the world. I likened it to a montage, the classic film making technique where an unlikely hero through the course of a pop song and a number of different scenes becomes good enough or skilled enough to “win in the end” (also the name of the pop song from Teen Wolf’s clip above). To look at the disciples’ various experiences around and after the crucifixion, it’s hard to believe they are the same people that would later be at the center of that Acts 2 church community that was sharing their possessions, praying together, eating together, and being a witness of God’s kingdom on earth.

I am reminded constantly that I am in the same camp of those disciples – I am not a perfect guy.

But the point of my sermon and of scripture is that it’s not about me getting my act together – it’s about God doing something through me. Peter didn’t suddenly quit screwing up – he kept screwing up long after he had denied Jesus. And even then, God used him for something far greater than he could have ever accomplished by himself.

This is a reminder to us that our faith is not a path to perfection but maybe a path of graceful surprises.

A few odds and endseven as I got sick this week, it was fascinating to see the reaction and storm following Osama Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US Special Forces. I continue to pray for peace. Also, I highly recommend Rev. Micah James response, both prophetic and pastoral, to this world event.


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