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Posts Tagged ‘Tithing’

Just saying the words, “New Year,” breathes hope into the heart and soul that the next 365 days will be different than the last.  We hope that there will be new opportunities of course.  But it is much more than that really.

What we want is not just more “new” of the same kinds of things.  Deep down, I believe, what most of us want is “new” different kinds of things.  We want new beginnings – fresh “start overs”.  We want different results from for our efforts and hard work in the professional and personal realms.  Some may want a new job (personally, that is on my short list since I have been gainfully unemployed now for over a year except for a few weeks in construction and a short writing assignment).  Some may want a new lifestyle or way of living.

hooked on phonics

When we say “Happy New Year”, then, we may not really know what we are wishing upon the persons we greet.  New more of the same kind?  Or, totally new of a different kind than they one they knew and experienced?  I have a sneaky suspicion that most people really want a new of a different kind.  I may be wrong and would readily admit it.  Perhaps this is born out of my own experience and constant dissatisfaction with the status quo.  I’ve never been happy with the stagnant, same ‘ol – same ‘ol.  I like to see progress and movement forward in my life.

However, I do not think that I am unique in this manner.  I think many people want their lives to be different.  I offer up as my evidence the perennial “New Year’s Resolutions”.  Most lists that I have examined, besides my own, consist of how things are going to be different in the New Year.  It may include lifestyle changes – lose weight, stop smoking, attend all my AA meetings, go to the gym more often, keep the kitchen clean, start and maintain a savings account among other things.  It may include spiritual changes – pray regularly, read the Bible everyday, start tithing, give monthly to missions, lead a small group, journal every week among a host of other things.

We want our future to be different. That means that we must become different, right?  Yeah, most of the time.  However, I do not think that any New Year’s Resolution will create a new me or new you.  What we really need is not more different but more of the same but right things in our lives.  All the ingredients for a Happy New Year are already in the cupboards of our life.  We just need to focus upon those ingredients and have more of them added into the daily mix.  In other words, we might not need a different recipe but just use what we have differently.

Want a New Year? Then add more of what is already available to you.  You already have God in your life?  Then add more of him in it by increasing his presence through prayer, praise, worship, and fellowship with like-minded believers.  You already have church fellowship and friends in your life?  Then add more fellowship and friends in your life be intentionally involving yourself in a serving or leadership role.  Already have family in your life?  Then add more through personal presence with them and heart-to-heart communication.  Already have a good job?  Then add to the joy of your work by doing it well and learning to be indispensable to others.  I could go on, but you get the picture.

As 2009 closes and 2010 opens to us, the one thing you can determine for this next year is how much “happy” and “new” you will have in it.  Sure, there will be trials and disappointment.  There may even be a major set back or two.  But remember, all the things you need for this New Year to be brand new and joyous may already be in your possession.  So, with that, I wish you a “Happy New Year”!

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

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A surgeon was speaking to a small group of university students about his work in the Gaza Strip. He was reminding the students that we North American “fat cats” knew nothing about gratitude.  Nothing!

On one occasion, he had stopped at a peasant hovel to see a woman on whom he had performed surgery.  She and her husband were dirt poor.  Their livestock supply consisted of one Angora rabbit and two chickens.  For income the woman combed the hair out of the rabbit, spun the hair into yarn and sold it.  For food she and her husband ate the eggs from the chickens.

The woman insisted that the missionary surgeon stay for lunch.  She insisted on showing her gratitude to him this way.  He accepted the invitation and said he would be back for lunch after he had gone down the road to see another postoperative patient.  An hour and a half later, he was back.  He peeked into the cooking pot to see what he was going to eat.  He saw one rabbit and two chickens.

The woman had given up her entire livestock supply–her income, her food, everything – to say “thank you.”  He concluded his story by reminding the students that, as Americans, we know nothing of gratitude.  He wept unashamedly.

Old Abandoned Truck

Old Abandoned Truck ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg (2009)

There is another incident concerning gratitude that will never be forgotten.  It is about a woman who poured costly perfume over our Lord’s feet as she wiped them with her hair.  Make no mistake–the perfume was expensive, three hundred denarii, a year’s income for a laborer in Palestine.  Enough to keep a family alive for twelve months.  Also, in that culture, a woman’s hair was among her most precious personal possessions.

Some, who witnessed that event, including Jesus’ closest disciples, objected to such an extravagant display of affection in view of personal need – or even need of others.  Jesus asked a very pointed question, “Who loved more – the one forgiven much or the one forgiven little?”  Obviously, the answer was – and still is – the one who was forgiven much.

In view of what Christ did for us, how can we be stingy in our worship, our praise, our tithes and offerings, our time in his service or in fellowship with his body – the Church.  The vivid portrayal of Christ’s extravagant sufferings for our sins in Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” should move us to be just as extravagant in showing our gratitude and worship to our Heavenly Father and Savior, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  And yet, according to the surveys made by Barna Research, the average Evangelical Christian gives only about 3% or their income to the ministries of their local church.  Americans spend more on dog food annually than on giving to charities or mission work!

Perhaps it is time some of us got more extravagant in our worship.  It is about time we got radical in our display of gratitude for all that God has done for us and ‘sold the farm’ or ‘broke the bank.’  After all, how much do we really love Him?  How thankful are we?

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

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