One of Acts of love that churches in Asia do to show God’s love to their communities is helping with funerals. This is a tough time for the family of the deceased person, not only have they lost their loved one but they are also under tremendous financial pressure. As is custom, they have to kill one or two cows to feed everyone, provide alcohol, and pay those who help carry the coffin as well as the witch doctor who charges a very high fee. All these rituals force families to go door to door begging for help from members of the community. Continue reading
I have a friend who has a very wealthy brother, and at Christmas each year the gift giving is a little awkward. My friend gets a huge, lavish gift from his brother but he does not have the means to reciprocate such a gift back to his brother. So my friend gets a $200 electronic item and his brother gets a $25 Kohls necktie. My friend has mentioned a time or two that he knows his brother doesn’t care, but that he always feels a little sheepish about his minuscule offering.
Have you ever felt like you have so little to give compared to others? How about in the area of financial tithing? My heart wants to put another zero on the end of that check, but I just can’t—my account doesn’t allow it.
“You sold your boat?!”
I wasn’t sure that I had heard one of our TCT trainers correctly. He had said it so frankly, with not a trace of regret or sadness in his voice. It was December 2012, just a few months after violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims had ripped through the area. One particular village of believers was painfully caught in the middle of it. Seeing their desperate need, the TCT trainer had sold his boat – his primary means of transportation – so the village could have food.
A thousand questions raced through my mind. Was it a wise choice? How would he manage to get around? There had to have been a less costly way to help the village. Continue reading
Peter had every right to be cynical that morning. He had labored the whole night and caught no fish. He was irritated and tired. He wanted to go home and sleep, if possible without facing the disappointed looks of his family.
As Peter stood on the shore washing his nets, he looked up and noticed Jesus a short distance away. Jesus was preaching again, and a whole crowd of people had followed him from town to listen. They crowded around him eager to hear every word. Jesus saw Peter and approached him and asked to use the boat. Relieved for an excuse not to go home yet, Peter agreed. Jesus sat down in the boat and asked Peter to put out a little from shore.
As Jesus taught the people from the boat, Peter was distracted thinking of what he would say to his family when he got home. How would he explain that he hadn’t caught a single fish? Exhaustion seemed to engulf Peter.
My husband and I have been talking about what it would mean for us to downsize Christmas. We aren’t unique. It seems like there are a lot of voices advocating for this lately. And for good reason. The day that is meant for celebrating the birth of our Savior has been hijacked.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by four or more sets of parents, stepparents, grandparents and in-laws expecting “quality time” in one day.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by gift-giving. And by gift-giving, I mean parking lot wars, Black Friday mobs, must-have toys, and credit-card debt.
For the past month, my pastor has been doing a sermon series on “money myths.” When he first announced that we were doing a series on money, and more importantly giving, I rolled my eyes. It didn’t hit me until last week that his timing for the series was probably not a coincidence. It fell right before the beginning of Advent, right before Black Friday, right before the biggest time of spending for Americans and many others around the world.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from this series is the importance of giving. The series focused on 1 Timothy 6:17-19: