February 7 – Giving For a Living

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Most people think in terms of money when the word giving is mentioned. However, true generosity involves much more than a few dollars and cents. It is a lifestyle. In history, we find examples of individuals who grasped this reality.

Recently my family came across such a lady. She lived in the 1800’s and exemplified a life of giving. During the Civil War, this little lady decided she would go on to the battlefield and dress the wounds of the fallen soldiers.

She realized that many men could possibly bleed to death in the field from injuries that could be treated, before they could ever get to a hospital. She was denied access by the general several times, but she would not give up! Although the sentiment of the day was that the battlefield was no place for a woman, the commanding officer finally surrendered!

This woman was willing to put her life on the line so that others might live. That is the spirit of generosity. So whether it’s in the form of money, time, or talent, we would all do well to develop such character in our lives. Ask the question before the Lord right now, “What can I give?” As you wait for Him to reveal His will to you, reach out and do something really simple for those right around you—your family!

Here are the five “I Will’s” from the Character First curriculum:

I WILL share what I have with others

I WILL recycle

I WILL not expect anything in return for my generosity

I WILL give of my time and talents

I WILL praise the good I see in others

By the way, this precious, persistent lady was not only known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” but after the Civil War, she went on to create the American Red Cross. Her name was Clara Barton. What a great example to follow!

Biblical Meditation: Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

 

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January 3 – Mighty Mites

 

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One of my dearest friends in the whole world and his precious wife have found themselves in a tremendous battle. To some, their situation looks pretty tough. But I tell you, there’s nothing like hard times to bring to light those who truly love you and stand with you.

My buddy’s the sort of guy that served his country, paid his dues, and wouldn’t ask anybody for a single penny. He believes in hard work and helping others. So, when he found himself swimming upstream and holding on to his wife’s hand for dear life, it was all he could do to keep his head above water.

Well, out of the blue, people from where he works started strategizing on how they could get involved and help remove some of the financial burden. They started collecting change in mason jars! Now, I am told that a pint-sized mason jar might hold $30 or more of random change. That doesn’t seem like a lot when you are talking about serious medical bills.

But it is an extravagant amount when you consider why people would give. My own children, when hearing about the jars, filled their own share. All because they, like everyone else involved, wanted to let my friend and his wife know they were not in this fight alone.

After the fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about the power of the widow’s mite in Mark 12. Often, I viewed this passage as a plus for the “have not’s” and a minus for the “haves.”  But that all changed for me. No, I began to see that Jesus was showing the disciples the power of “from the heart” giving.

The widow didn’t have a lot of surplus when it came to money.  But her heart said, “It’s the least I can do to give what I have to the Master for His service.” And it is that spirit, I am convinced, that I have witnessed in these precious souls pouring out their change for my buddy. So, today, may you and I be most encouraged. Whether our giving is big or small, when it comes from the heart, it is extravagant in the eyes of God.  

Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins-a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave  what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford-she gave her all.” Mark 12:41-44 (MSG)

Biblical Meditation: Mark 12      

March 3 – Middle of the Road

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:7-8 NIV

Having an abundance of anything increases heightened awareness. Awareness of people, places and their things, or lack thereof.

Being always responsible for making sure motives and maneuvers are above board can promote paranoia and allow bitterness and self-preservation to set in. And sad to say, this has happened to many a man who didn’t have a dime.

Too much time, too much praise, too much chocolate, whatever! We don’t do “too much” very well. One very wise and wealthy soul once shared with me his secret to a well-balanced and prosperous life.

“Lorenzo, when I feel like grabbing, that’s when I start giving by the boat-load. Because when I don’t, stuff and status get in the way of what matters most, i.e., the ones I love.”

I have no idea where today’s good word finds you. But chances are, you have amassed a wealth of something. Let God help you be honest about it…quit denying it, for crying out loud. Then, devise a plan to get back to center.

It’s ok to be loaded with good things. But it is unhealthy to be “bloated” with the weight and the worry that too often clings to those “things.”

Happy traveling!

Lorenzo

September 30 – Show Me the Money

My fruit is better than gold, yes, than refined gold, and my increase than choice silver. Proverbs 8:19

My granddad had a collection of special money. He kept coins that are now considered valuable today because they are not in general circulation. One day I got to look in his “money chest.” As he gave me a wheat penny for a job well done, I saw a few stacks of two dollar certificates, a few jars of Eisenhower silver dollar pieces, some buffalo nickels, a bunch of Kennedy half dollars, and more wheat pennies than I could count. In my ten year-old eyes, my “big daddy” was rich!

My goal that day was to one day follow suit; I would have my own money chest…like big daddy. And as time progressed, I was well on my way, hustling odd jobs at a very early age and cultivating a healthy shrewdness about my spending habits. But the more I made, the more attention I paid to the meticulous caretaking of my earnings. That in itself wasn’t all that bad, but I found myself thinking almost exclusively about money or the ability to make more of it. Something was out of balance.

That’s when God and wisdom stepped in and began to guide me toward the ageless balance between God, People, and Things. Money is a wonderful tool of assistance in any of the three areas. But if it ever becomes the master of any one, it will wreak havoc for the whole. And without Godly wisdom, the soul who possesses it has no way of knowing if the money and the power it wields is taking possession of him or her.

One of the best things wisdom taught me is the act of giving. Instead of looking at the money I make as mine, I view it as a harvest God has allowed me to help him steward. Therefore, He gets the first slice as a token of my appreciation and then wisdom gladly helps me administer the rest.

I still like the special coins and I do have a few here and there. But my highest hope is that the treasure I’ve laid up resides mostly in heaven. And never would I have imagined how rich that kind of money management could make me feel. So grateful!

You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
 truth-ready minds will see it at once. 
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
 nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. Proverbs 8:18-19 The Message Bible