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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “Christian service”

Bottom Line

Have you ever given out of your poverty?

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” —Luke 21:1-4

I have pondered this.  Initially, I thought this entry would tell a story similar to this passage’s explicit scenario.  Nah.  That would be too easy, especially in this time when I am being pressed in a particular area.  Let’s reflect honestly.

Sometimes, financial giving is seemingly easier than the giving of your time and talents.  With so much hurt and pain in the world (in the nation, in your community, in your church), let us not continue to ignore the why in this.

  • Are you too “busy” to notice that your Brother or Sister (your neighbor) is depressed, suicidal, hungry…?  (Come here Elijah, Job, Jonah, and Jeremiah…I see you.)
  • Are you still feeling the sting from being rejected by the very people/person God continues to redirect you to minister?  (Long after the trend has faded, who continues to ask, “WWJD”?)
  • Have you stepped away from a difficult situation because your flesh said so, but His guidance is now saying, “Go back”?  (Moses, where are you?)

Hmmm…..I don’t think you are feeling the depth of these questions?  Have you ever been at the end of yourself, more than tired and exhausted, emotional spent, physically weak….just here, and barely that?  (Well, I can be a little dramatic at times but you get the picture right?  Anyway…)  It is at that point and place in one’s spiritual journey that I am signaling for recollection.  It was there, at that point of poverty, where I discovered, in a way unlike ever before, my bottom line.  I looked at the numbers—checked and double-checked the math, evaluated the equations, reviewed the formulas.  With great detail, I scrutinized.  I searched for answers, for comprehension.  Undeniably, I spiritually matured.

So, have you gotten to a point in life where you have consciously decided to truly become serious about growing in your faith?  Have you decided that if you have to live your faith all by yourself, you are all inAre you all in?

People do not always say it, but this faith walk is a continuous path.  There are so many things that could be shared, but are not.  Who knew a part of my journey would include discovering my bottom line?  It makes sense and was necessary, but who knew?  It was there that I prayed by faith for God’s blessings and protection of my life.  It was there where I began to have a deeper appreciation for the seriousness of ministry—of sharing my time, talents, and money.  How interesting?  It was there, where upon reflection, that I am able to see something that continues to amaze me.  Such awareness continues to press me.  In the midst of the delicate balance, between the breaths, the laughs, the tears, the ups, the downs…right there…in those moments…I still gave time, talent, and money.  Admittedly, in hindsight I can understand it better.  I can treasure and respect its symbolism.  Its lessons continue to empower me.  In my poverty, by faith, I gave.  Like the poor widow, in so many ways I put in all I had to live on.  I have an idea of what that feels like, and of what it means.  Do you?

Woman Praying

Once you know your bottom line, you understand what can be built upon it. 

Money, Money, and More Money?

Do you work for your money or does your money work for you?

So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.  ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’  —Luke19:13                                                                                                                      (*NOTE: A mina was about three months’ wages.)

Money is a tool, an interesting tool indeed.  People will sell their souls for it.  They will allow themselves to be mistreated for it.  People will mistreat others for it.

Possessing money could mean the difference between you eating at the table and you serving those who eat at the table, all the while your stomach growls.  Isn’t it ironic how people will despise a rich man, while simultaneously push you out of the way to shake his hand?  If I could only touch the hand that touches the money, then I can go back to serving the body that has the hand that touches the money.  Serving the body that has the hand that touches the money.  Serving the body that has the hand that touches the money. YES! Serving the Body that has the hand that touches the money.

money and woman

If I could only touch the hand, the garment, the heart—that touches, handles, has an effect on—the money, then I can go back to serving the Body, of which I am an extension, that has the Hand that touches, handles, has an effect on–the money.  Ah, through the process I would maintain focus on the Body and realize that money is not the controlling factor.  It is a tool, to be used to work.  It is to be multiplied, to create an overflow.  Service through the overflow…..now that’s what I’m talking about!

Lambs Among Wolves

Cronyism is defined (via wikipedia) as showing “partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications….  Often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority, and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer.”  Do you see examples of this around you?

“Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  —Luke 10:3

Yesterday, I saw a friend I had not seen in a year and a half.  We had an incredibly honest conversation while standing in the middle of a popular store’s Baby Section.  Interestingly, she began to share with me why she is not as involved with, as she terms it, “community obligations” as she once was.  Her experiences have caused her to re-prioritize her energies.

Mentor Needed

As she spoke, I could not help but to be surprised by how much I could relate to what she was saying.  On one hand, I was comforted by the bluntness of our conversation because it is not one I hear often.  On the other hand, I was sadden because, as she said, “People will see that you truly care for people and they will use that against you to stagnant your growth.”  Fortunately, everyone is not like this but there are far too many who–intentionally or otherwise—are.

As she spoke, I remembered how active she was in volunteer activities—rather they stemmed from her church, the result of her profession, or via her social interests.  One day, however, she realized that the people she was being surrounded by were likened to wolves.  They did not really care how she was doing.  They were circling her looking for opportunities to take—-to take her energy, to take her skill sets, to take her talents, to take her breath—but never offering her any real opportunities for advancement or enhancement.  Those favorable circumstances were being distributed amongst friends.  When she understood this, she was insulted.  Upon this realization, many are.

Today, I sit still thinking about that conversation.  In fact, it was the third one of its kind that crossed my path within the last two weeks.  They have led me to wonder the very real and detrimental impact cronyism has on communities across the nation and on the world as a whole.  These are things that are not being talked about….enough.  Young people hear, “We want you to get involved,” but like my friend stated, “Once we do, we are silenced because of cronyism.”  What a powerful observation!  More so, what a loss for the community….many times for the very community we are assigned (at least for a season) to serve!

When many think of Christians, they limit our workplaces to sanctuaries.  This may be true for some, but a much larger number of us are to GO out into the world and work.  Hence, we are lawyers and doctors, teachers and artists, customer service agents and nurses, police officers and janitors, writers and business owners, bus drivers and scientists, bartenders and cashiers, executive directors and staff, in the forefront and behind the scenes….the list goes on and on.  We are young and old, from a variety of cultures speaking a number of languages.  Our personalities are as vast as the audience we are to reach.

Yes, we are uniquely made to GO, however, we must be clear about and committed to our purpose in life and in situations.  Why?  Because we will be met with opposition and without knowing our purpose, we can be easily discouraged, frustrated, and/or led astray.  Spiritual warfare is real.  Don’t let cronyism bench you!

We have people to serve, people to help, lives to touch in positive ways.  We have been commissioned to be on a mission.  We are to accomplish that mission in love.  So, let us agree to remain focused on God.  Let us seek Him for understanding and strength, for clarity and inspiration.  Let us walk His way, according to His will for our lives.  Let us remember that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves.  Be careful!

Field Work

Societal ills are easy to spot, aren’t they?  From problems in education to failures in addressing mental health concerns;  From homelessness to hungriness, unemployment to under-employment—you name the category and within it will reside a laundry list of shortcomings waiting to be addressed.  It can be overwhelming, especially if you sincerely care for the wellbeing of others.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  —Luke 10:2

There was a time in my life when I had worked myself into utter exhaustion under the guise of community service…or dare I say, Christian service.  I was so tired emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually that I needed to put myself in a timeout.  Yes, I needed to go and sit in a corner, facing a wall and think about what got me here.  I needed to find a place where I was not being distracted by the work that needed to be done because I had just enough confidence to think, “I can do it.”  I needed to settle and center myself so that I could hear God’s voice.

Rest

Yes, within me He has stirred a genuine love for people.  Yes, within me He has placed a sizable amount of assurance.  During this time, however, He was developing within me a deeper understanding of what and with whom I am to work.  I, also, needed to be clear about where within His field He assigned me to work.

Prior to my timeout session, I would do things because I could.  If there was a problem and if I could help, I would.  An interesting thing happened, however, once I became depleted.  I prayed often and unapologetically for strength, clarity, and help.

Admittedly, it felt good being revitalized—so good, in fact, I needed to be reminded to get back in the field.  Just like I had learned to pray for help, others were praying for me to helpHave you ever showed up at a place and knew that somebody prayed for you to be there?  You may not know who prayed (—and they may not know that it was you who they prayed for—), but you knew somebody did.  Such knowledge confirms responsibility.

As a Christian, I understand that there is work to do.  I understand that I am a servant, a worker.  (Faith without works is dead. —Read James)  I understand that the Body needs all of its parts to function most efficiently and effectively.  It is my constant prayer for workers, for help, for Family to join me in God’s harvest field where there is much work to do.  We may not work in the same area, but looking across the valleys and plains, seeing and knowing that you are too working, not only makes things easier for me, but it also encourages my soul.  I can only hope that when you look over at me the feeling is mutual.  Pray.

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