Tag Archives: giving

Jesus: “…even greater things than these…”

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Usually when I hear folks mention this passage it’s with an attitude of “not sure what he meant, because that’s impossible.” I, on the other hand, seem to find Jesus’ words quite amazing and yet very believable. There are two reasons for this.

One, there are plenty of miracles occuring today. Most of us sitting in our wealth, independent society in the USA have not been privileged to experience the miraculous hand of God in people’s lives, quite the same as it was at work in Jesus’ time. The academics in our society have explained miracles away as a thing of the past, and for us with all our modern technology we don’t see much of a need for a miracle to occur here.
Take a short trip to a great many other places throughout the world and you’ll find out pretty quickly (whether you believe people or not is our choice), that miracles certainly seem to be happening today. I won’t go much into this, because I think we have some strong opinions on these things, but I would argue, there are a lot of folks out there that will testify to God being at work through physical miracles of healing and more.

Second, and this is one that applies to most of us, I think we have each been given plenty of resources to do “greater things” in our lifetimes. I’m not talking about dying on the cross, or literally raising someone out of a grave, but many of the other things are miracles we can help make happen through donation. You could easily feed 10,000 people a meal in your lifetime. You can provide healing treatment for lepers, donate blood or bone marrow so noblemen’s sons might live. We have a great many resources in our midst, let’s make Jesus’ words a reality.

10/5 Material Possessions and the Love of God

The daily podcast continues with some pretty harcore preaching on I John 3:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

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The Eikon Project: David’s traveling South Africa

At the beginning of 2006, I joined forces with my friend, Peter, to start an initiative to raise funds to help address the AIDS Crisis that is facing a small village in South Africa (and the rest of the world). The team now includes Josh & David. We are trying to make the needs of these communities available through video, pictures and stories. We want you to be able to see the needs there are and then pool your resources to address it and then see that need met.

It’s an exciting project to be a part of and I’d LOVE for you to subscribe to the Eikon Project Blog. Please visit the site and help spread the word.

Update Via email:

If only we all gave away this percentage…

One of the richest dudes in the world is giving away 85% of his wealth, if only we could all follow his example.

True I’m usually one to rant about our gross superfluous wealth in this country (and if you do the calculations, 15% of Buffet’s net worth is still a heck of a lot of money), but I figure I should try and take a more positive look at the moment.

Jesus gave the example of the women who put her two coins in and how commendable that was because it was all she had. That story can easily be trivialized because two coins really isn’t that much and (in our minds) she could probably find that much on the ground or begging for a few minutes. Regardless, Jesus uses that story to challenge us, and I think there is an opportunity to be challenged by this story as well.

Warren Buffett, and Bill & Melinda Gates for that matter, have been shining examples of stepping out against the values of our society, which argue that acquiring wealth and amassing your own fortune is the ultimate goal. They are making a statement that says something quite different, a hat tip to the pleasure and satisfaction one receives by giving to the needs of others. An acknowledgment that we were created to live in community and were created to serve the needs of one another. Maybe these big time philanthropist will spur others on to some more radical giving (and by radical I mean 99% of their fortune or something like that).

Gift Bags

In the past I’ve brought up the idea that we should be more giving and not use the excuse of what happens on the receiving end to justify our lack of giving. The response, not unexpected, that folks don’t want to give a person money because they might spend it on booze or drugs. Instead folks would like to give something else. Well, since I can’t convince them otherwise, I figured I should offer a more agreeable suggestion.

A sweet guy from Nashville gave a great suggestion about what to put in a gift bag you might give to a homeless person. Basically he suggests a paper bag with:

  • new or clean socks
  • nail clippers
  • a comb
  • tooth paste
  • tooth brush
  • deodorant
  • bar of soap
  • gloves (when it’s cold)
  • disposable razor
  • small candies
  • personal note or decorate the bag

The Homeless Guy: Gift Bags

Sometimes they will try to make you feel guilty so they can get more out of you. Be polite but firm. If you set, and hold to your limits, they will respect you for it. This is a great way of giving. I have received such packages myself – they’ve always been a blessing.

I’d like to add one final suggestion to thise gift bag idea. I still think you should put a few bucks in the bag. Money is a very useful and tangible resource, you can get whatever you might need with it. Take a couple dollars or maybe a five and put it in an envelope and seal it. Then write a note on the envelope. Write whatever it might be that you would like to say to a person about being wise about what they use their money for.

What would you write on the envelope?

Why I Ditched Dave Ramsey

I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio yesterday and came to the conclusion that it was time to officially say goodbye.

Dave Ramsey’s tag-line is:
“Live like no one else so you can live like no one else!”

I think for his given audience the first part of his statement is valid: Live like no one else. He means live on “beans and rice” and pay off your debts. The truth is half the world lives on barely beans and rice and has nothing but a life of poverty to look forward to. But I digress.

The thing that bothers me is the second half of the “live like no one else.” statement. The idea is that once you’ve paid off your debt and saved your money you can spend it on what you want to. Now most folks want to hear that and so they are happy to listen and hear what Dave has to say. I have trouble cause my Bible (and I’m pretty sure it’s the same one) seems to say we are to be sacrificial in our lives, regardless of how well we’ve saved, etc. And that we should be good stewards, and wise consumers no matter what income/debt we have.

So this is what bothered me: A lady called in yesterday with a question. It was quite simple, her husband and her are debt free. The question was which is better: their current minivan or trading it for an SUV of equal value? Her husband wanted an SUV, but she was opting for sticking with the minivan. What’s the difference? Gas mileage. The topic of the environment didn’t come up, just the cost of a couple extra gallons of gas a week.

Dave’s Response: This is a silly question that you should not fret over. It’s not a “Kingdom issue” It’s maybe $30 a month difference in a debt-free household. She’s being a “tight-wad” (Which Dave says is not a bad thing), and needs to loosen up a little and enjoy the money they have.

sponsored childAriah’s Response
: Praise God that she cares about the different cost of gas mileage. $30 a month could be used to sponsor a child and give life (a Kingdom Issue?). Global Warming is a serious problem and it should play a factor in what we purchase as well. She was not being a “tight-wad” she was being a wise steward, one that sees the money she has been given not as her’s that God “blessed her” with, but for her to use wisely as God entrusted her with it. They didn’t need the SUV, so it wasn’t the best thing for them to do with their current finances.

I fear too often there are Christians who have these feelings and leaders, pastors, mentors discourage those God-given feelings in people and allow them to fall away from those convictions. I pray this was less true then I think it is.

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Financial Clarification

This is the third time I am trying to write this post to clarify where my thoughts and views concerning my financial lessons come from. The reason I felt it was important to try and do this was because I feel like a few readers have misunderstood what I am saying and I want to try and make sense of it. Let’s just say I haven’t found the right words yet. Here is my third and final meager attempt.
I feel like some of what I have shared of views on finances have come across as a masochistic, vow of poverty, money is evil standpoint. That is not what I have intended by the things I have written.

I am not a masochist. I don’t like Pain. I don’t think Christ enjoyed pain either, yet for some reason he endured the cross. Like Christ there might be times we sacrifice at our own expense for the sake of others. When I say Christ calls us to give sacrificially I don’t intend 1) for that to be painful, nor 2) to do it for the pleasure of it being painful. If anything I am a hedonist. I believe God created us to love others and he has equipped us with the resources to do that in a lot of ways. I say we give sacrificially because we were created to.

I am not promoting taking a vow of poverty. Christ did say blessed our the poor, but I don’t think he meant we should all try to become poor in order to be blessed. I am not saying become poor for the sake of becoming poor. Yet, I should be open to the possibility that my following Christ call to love and give to the needs of others might result in my becoming “poor” by the worlds standards. Jesus did not tell the rich young ruler to “become poor” but he did tell him to sell all his possessions to meet the needs of those around him. I need to be willing to go there if I am going to carry out Christ call on my life to love those around me.

I don’t believe money is evil. When I say we should practice giving away our money with out so much concern for whose pocket it ends up in I don’t mean to do it because money is bad and you might as well stick it through a shredder. (I should have said buy a bunch of bottles of Root Beer and candy bars and leave them in odd places through out the town). Money is simply a means of trade. We should be sure not to elevate it too highly. God calls us to be a good steward of what he has given us, and I have every intention of doing so. God also calls us to love our neighbors and care for their needs, and I have every intention of doing that as well. These both involve money, but I don’t think they are in conflict with one another.

I’ll leave you with this word picture that hopefully will help you understand my perspective. One day your walking along and God shows up and says: “You are my child and you can have anything and everything in the entire world that you would like.” This is better then winning a million bucks, it’s better then getting a genie and three wishes, you can have ANYTHING. A couple of things to keep in mind though. God says you should love your neighbor as yourself and we’ve got 6 billion of them. He is also not going to make things out of thin air, what you choose is from what is available on the earth currently. The more I take the less that is available to others. And by the way there is a big line behind you (6 billion) of God’s children who are going to choose from what’s left when your done.
So what do you choose?

Jesus and Immigrants: The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437

My good friend Logan alerted me to this issue, via a NY Times article:

…H.R. 4437, a bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York. This grab bag legislation, which was recently passed by the House, would expand the definition of “alien smuggling” in a way that could theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor’s baby.

Logan writes further on his own experience and previous similiar legislation from two years ago:

At that point in time, Tom Tancredo Republican, Colorado was trying to tack on legislation that would deputize all municipal police forces as members of the Department of Homeland Security. This would require all police officers to ascertain residency and citizenship status with any case. In other words, give people with little protection a reason to AVOID seeking help from the police. In an earlier bill, he had wanted to deputize emergency room personel. All persons seeking help at a hospital would be required to prove their status – a mother and her children could be deported simply for seeking to save her children’s life by going to the emergency room. Thus, if you’re an illegal immigrant, you should avoid going to the police OR to the hospital. He was defeated. Unfortunately, similar ideas are gathering steam, as one can see by following the proposed immigration laws.

Hopefully these thoughts have given you some understanding as to why you should take a few minutes and look at the information below and call your Senators TODAY. (Anyone can call, but if your from IL, OH, KS, IA, WI, AL, AZ, CA, DE, MA, NY, OK, PA, SC, TX, UT or VT PLEASE take the time to call your Senators because they are on the Judiciary Committee)

(Email Below from Daniel Stutz of World Relief)

Please print this out, then call both your Senators this THURSDAY, March 9! Here’s what’s up:

The Senate began the debate on comprehensive immigration reform last week, and will report its final mark-up of the bill to the Senate floor on March 16. Given that Representative Sensenbrenner’s draconian anti-immigration bill (H.R. 4437) already passed the House in December 2005, any hope of safeguarding immigrants’ rights rest exclusively in what the Senate decides to do this spring.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 9, is National Call-In Day for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Please call tomorrow to our Senators’ offices and ask to speak with the Immigration aide.

Senator Durbin from Illinois is on the Judiciary Committee deciding first steps on this issue!

Call Senator Richard Durbin: 202-224-2152 Ask to speak with Joe Zogby

Call Senator Barack Obama: 202-224-2854 Ask to speak with Danny Sepulveda

If your are not from Illinois, check the list below to see if your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee. You can find the name of your Senators by typing in your zip code at www.congress.org. The Congressional switchboard number is 202/224-3121.

If the aide is not available, ask for the aide’s voice mail. Whether speaking to the aide personally, or leaving a message, here is what to say:

” My name is _____ (affiliations). I live in (name of town & state). I am calling regarding “The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006″ which is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced last week by Chairman Specter. I am concerned about provisions that will only worsen our broken immigration system which desperately needs reform. Please recommend amendments which would provide the undocumented population an opportunity to earn permanent residency, and, if they choose, citizenship. Also please support any efforts to strengthen worker protections in the new temporary worker program. Finally, please try to remove harsh provisions of House bill H.R. 4437 which are also present in the Senate Bill, such as the criminalization of undocumented presence; the denial of permanent residency to a refugee who commits a minor offense; and the criminalization of the use of a fraudulent passport even by asylum-seekers who cannot obtain valid documents from their governments. We are a nation of immigrants, built on the promise of liberty, opportunity and fairness. Undocumented migrants work hard, pay taxes, and seek a better life for their families. It is wrong to treat immigrants as criminals. Please contact me at ___ (your tel #) with your reply.”

Background on the issues follow below, with additional talking points you may wish to use in a conversation with your Senators. The names and contact information for each Senator on the Judiciary Committee are also below. Please first call Senators Durbin and Obama, and then call as many of the remaining members of the Committee as you are able to in order to strongly voice your concern. Each call will average only 2 minutes of your time, and could mean the difference between restoring a workable, sensible, just bill to the Senate, OR facing the end of two centuries of protection for immigrants and refugees.

Megan Nelson

Public Policy Coordinator

Gary L. Cozette, Director
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
Tel: 773/293-2964 mnelson@crln.org

Background :

Last Friday March 3, Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, unveiled his “Chairman’s Mark” on immigration, an amalgam of several different immigration bills that have been circulating in the Senate.


* Severely restrict judicial review for immigrants and asylum seekers (Title VII);

* Continue and expand the detention of non-criminal asylum seekers;

* Criminalize anyone who knowingly uses a false passport or immigration-related document, with no exception for refugees, asylum seekers, children, or other vulnerable populations (Title II, Sec. 208 and 209);

* * Criminalize anyone who is out of status, including asylum seekers, trafficking victims, battered women, and abused children who fall out of status while they are figuring out how to obtain protection (Title II, Sec. 206);

* * Create a positive temporary worker program, but would fail to provide a path to legalization for immigrant workers, and would require those who enter under the program to waive all rights to administrative or judicial review (Title IV and Title VI).

THIS BILL WILL IMPACT ALL IMMIGRANTS: children, asylum seekers, trafficking victims, battered women, refugees, the undocumented and lawful permanent residents. There is virtually no non-citizen whom this bill will not touch.

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW! The fate of the Chairman’s Mark could mean the most drastic and devastating overhaul of our immigration and asylum system since the 1996 reform bills. We have only one more week to educate Judiciary Committee members, impact what comes out of committee, and change the tide. Anti-immigrants are hitting Capital Hill in droves and we have to counter their efforts.

Talking Points
* You support comprehensive immigration reform.
First, we must make sure the legislation deals realistically and sensibly with people already living and working in our country without legal status. It is neither realistic nor desirable to round up and deport 11 million people. But the Specter proposal will exclude many undocumented from ever becoming part of America’s future, thereby perpetuating the problem of illegality the bill must solve.

* Undocumented persons need a legal process to remain working in this country.
Second, the Specter mark requires that future flow immigrant workers leave the U.S . for a minimum of a year after two three-year temporary visas. Forcing trained and established workers to leave the U.S. after six years will either disrupt businesses in the U.S. if it works, or result in a burgeoning population of workers who “jump the program” and remain illegally.

*Persons of faith are called to treat the immigrant with compassion.
Third, the Specter bill draws on some of the more problematic provisions of the House-passed Sensenbrenner bill ( H.R. 4437). It criminalizes immigrants without papers, which may amount to a backdoor effort to force state and local police to add immigration enforcement to their already full platter of duties. It also expands the definition of “alien smuggling” so that people who come in normal, everyday contact with undocumented immigrants may be criminally charged.

*All persons have a right to due process.
Finally, to even participate in the plan the Chairman envisions, undocumented immigrants must sign away access to judicial review, the ability to redress errors in paperwork, and meaningful appeals while seeking legal status. They could not appeal a future deportation ruling through the legal system, for example. The courthouse door will slam in the face of millions of immigrants hoping to put themselves on the right side of the law.


Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Phone: (202) 224-2152

Fax: (202) 228-0400

Mike DeWine (R-OH)

Phone: (202) 224-2315

Fax: (202) 224-6519

Sam Brownback (R-KS)

Phone: (202) 224-6521

Fax: (202) 228-1265

Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Phone: (202) 224-3744

Fax: (202) 224-6020

Herbert Kohl (D-WI)

Phone: (202) 224-5653

Fax: (202) 224-9787

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

Phone: (202) 224-5323

Fax: (202) 224-2725

Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Phone: (202) 224-4124

Fax: (202) 224-3149

Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

Phone: (202) 224-4521

Fax: (202) 224-2207

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Phone: (202) 224-3841

Fax: (202) 228-3954

Joseph Biden (D-DE)

Phone: (202) 224-5042

Fax: (202) 224-0139

Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Phone: (202) 224-4543

Fax: (202) 224-2417

Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Phone: (202) 224-6542

Fax: (202) 228-3027

Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Phone: (202) 224-5754

Fax: (202) 224-6008

Arlen Specter (R-PA)

Phone: (202) 224-4254

Fax: (202) 228-1229

Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Phone: (202) 224-5972

Fax: (202) 224-3808

John Cornyn (R-TX)

Phone: (202) 224-2934

Fax: (202) 228-2856

Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Phone: (202) 224-5251

Fax: (202) 224-6331

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Phone: (202) 224-4242

Fax: (202) 224-3479

Your problem with Giving is probably You.

Financial lesson #2: Giving

I think most of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, are quite selfish even in our giving.
When I give I want it to be on my terms. I don’t like a knock on my window when I pull up to the stoplight asking for some money for lunch. They should know the only change I have is for emergencies and this doesn’t qualify. I’m much more comfortable knowing that I commited to paying $30 a month to sponsor a child, and it will cost me just $30.
When I give my hard earned money I want it to go to a deserving organization. I want to feel good about it. I often want to be recognized for it. I mean, after all, isn’t this my money I’m giving away?
Many of the thoughts I mentioned above are perfectly okay, but there are a few reasons that sometimes they are not. You see, a major part of the call to give is to teach you that money is not your god or master.
Take Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler* as an example (I’m not a ruler, but I sure feel young and rich). Did Jesus ask him to give everything he had so that the needs of the poor would be met? That was probably one reason. Most of us recognize though, that it was very much about him being willing to let go, and follow Christ. I far too often hear the response to that passage being that we aren’t required to give everything away, we just should be willing to if God ever asked it of us (and lo and behold I know not one person who God has ever asked to give away all they had).
Well today is the day. It’s time to for you to open your tight fist and release your tight grip on money, so that you can grip easily the hand of God. Today we stop making excuses and being self-centered in our giving, instead we give because we NEED to give to release our tight grip on money; to acknowledge that money is not our god.

Your Assignment for the Week/month: Take $100 (For most people with an income that’s probably less then half your tithe each month) out of the bank in $1 bills. Over the next month: give to anyone who asks, drop bills in places they’ll be found, try to give a dollar to a random stranger, hide them in findable places at work, drop them out the window at a school bus stop. Have fun, and give with no expectations or qualifications on your giving.