Give>Receive

Give-Receive

Every time my mom comes to visit she enters the door with brown paper grocery bags hanging from both arms, a 13×9 pan tucked into one arm, and she’s also got my dad loaded down with full sacks and random items. Inside the bags are things she’s seen at the store that she, “just knew one of us would love,” clothes she doesn’t want anymore that she thinks I might like, and miracle creams from the Estee Lauder counter that came free with her make up purchases. The pan in her arm is always filled with “Baked Fudge,” her special dessert that my husband and boys love.

 

I used to attend church with my mother-in-law, when we lived near them. She never entered the church house empty handed. She always had a homemade peach cobbler for someone who’d recently had a baby, or a pot of chicken and dumplings for an elderly person that had been sick, or a sack of groceries (You know, extra things from her pantry – wink, wink.) for a struggling family, or new coats that she just happened to find on sale for people she’d noticed needed them.

 

A very dear friend of mine opened her home to foster kids a few years ago. Now, her family of three suddenly has seven, with beautiful kids of all different skin tones calling each other brother and sister, being raised together in a home filled with lots of love and hilariously crazy adventures.

 

There are a lot of takers in this world, that’s for sure. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on that. We think about the co-worker who stole our idea, or the family member who doesn’t do their fair share, or the people who you do, and do, and do, and do for and they still don’t seem satisfied. But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers . . . the servicemen and women who’ve given so much to our country, parents or grandparents who’ve poured love into our lives over the years, church pastors and leaders who’ve loved us and shown us the way, or maybe you’ve been blessed with friends or neighbors or co-workers who have proven themselves to be givers.

 

But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers

 

And let’s also focus on the Lord, the ultimate giver. John 3:16 says that God loved us all so much that He gave His one and only son for us. God is certainly the supreme giver, and aren’t we supposed to be like Him?

 

We’ve all heard it said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive . . . the joyful feeling that accompanies giving, the rewards from the Lord when He sees our giving, the satisfaction of knowing we are imitating our God when we give . . . these are all evidence of that fact.

 

Perhaps the best way to help us to give cheerfully is to remember that everything we do we are really doing as unto the Lord. Once I heard Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, talk about a sign that hung in her kitchen. The sign read, “Divine Service Conducted Here Daily.” Ruth explained that sign reminded her that every meal she cooked should be done as unto the Lord. Wow! What an awesome perspective! This perspective is an eternal one, and when we look at things through eternal eyes, we will understand that the life of a giver is truly blessed life.

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Morning people, bald men, and naked guy . . . what?

Ever read a scripture and thought . . . what in the world does that mean? I truly believe that all scripture is inspired, even the weird and confusing ones. I believe they all have a deeper meaning and life application, but I certainly don’t have them all figured out. There are several verses that I feel that way about. Here are a few –

Mark 14:51-52, “Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body and the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” What is happening here?

2 Kings 2:23-24, “Then he when up from there to Bethel, and as he was going up the road some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead! So he turned around and looked at them and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.” Can you imagine? Why did this happen?

One of the verses that I’ve never fully understood is –

Proverbs 27:14, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” I never understood any deep meaning in this verse beyond don’t talk loudly in the morning, and I’ll be honest – I’m a morning person, and I talk a lot in the mornings, and my husband has repeatedly been irritated with me for talking so much in the mornings. I’m the annoying person who wakes up singing to everyone in the house, but I recently I had a lightbulb moment with this verse. It’s all about motivation. Why would you loudly bless a friend in the morning, unless you were really trying to irritate him?

Let me give you an example. My son Kale is a champion antagonist to my son Keaton. I have been trying to get Kale to stop this, and he’s getting better, but he still has a long way to go. He knows just what to do to make Keaton yell and hit and inevitably get into trouble. What he is doing isn’t necessarily mean, like just smiling at him or just saying, “Hi Keaton,” but he knows his real motivation, and Keaton knows Kale’s real motivation, and it makes Keaton crazy. I feel Keaton’s pain, because my sister did the same thing to me!

When I started thinking about motivation, I remembered those scriptures about the way God judges. In Jeremiah 17:10 God says, “I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind.” He is the perfect judge. He goes beyond the action and tests the motivation behind the action.

118H     Lord, purify my heart. Make my motives right. I don’t want wrong motives to cause my good works to be a waste. The most horrible ending to my life would be for Matthew 7:23 to happen to me. After a lifetime of working for the kingdom for the Lord to say “depart from me, I never knew you.” What a terrible, terrible thought. How could that happen to someone? To me? Wrong motives. Working to build man’s kingdom and not the Lord’s, working for wealth or fame or earthly rewards. Lord, judge me now, so that I can escape judgment then.

I resolve to check my motives and intentions more often, and to remember it’s not just about my actions but it’s even more about the motives behind my actions that only the Lord sees.

Truth in My Fiction

You may have heard it said that you should be careful around a writer, because they just might make you a character in their book well . . .

In my young adult book, Cool Springs Girls, the main character Sarah Grace has a friend whose mom is sick. When Sarah Grace’s mom, Lisa, finds out about it, she calls a lady at her church named Michele Thomson who arranges for meals to be brought to Sarah Grace’s friend’s family.

So, here’s the truth in my fiction – Michele Thomson is an actual person. We go to church together, and she leads a meals ministry that takes meals to families that are going through difficult times. Michelle and her team take meals to ladies who have just had a baby and to people who have recently had surgery or sickness or other issues.

Michelle

Michele – you are a hero in my book! (Literally and metaphorically)

When I asked Michele why she has worked so hard in this ministry for so many years, she said, “I just don’t want anyone to feel like no one cares. I want them to know that the people in the church care about them and want to help them.”

I love it. Helping people who are hurting any way we can – I think that is exactly what Jesus wants us to do, don’t you?