Friday, November 7, 2008

For the Least of These

Something I am thankful for about this election season is how it has challenged me to stand stronger on God’s Word, and most importantly, to do better at living and acting according to it. Our small group study this past week was in James 1:22-27, and I know God is convicting me about that scripture.

A big issue this election was helping the poor and needy. I have debated with others that I think it should never have become the government's job to provide for the sick, homeless, needy, etc. As Christians individually and Christians as the church body, we are to be providing for those needs. When we let it fall on the government to do those things, we become lazy (I know I do!) and we lose our testimony as the hands and feet of Jesus. We also destroy opportunities for people to come to know Christ through that testimony. If people who don't know Jesus can get what they need through the government, then how much harder is it for them to ever see their need for the Savior?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I keep thinking that if every Christian and every church gave as much as we could with a biblical attitude, we should have no need for government-run programs to help people in distress. The Church would provide for people’s needs, give testimony to the Bread of Life and the Living Water, and serve Jesus Himself, all the while storing treasure in heaven rather than here on earth. Doesn’t that sound awesome and impossible all at the same time? It sure doesn’t seem like the “numbers” would add up with all the needs in the world today, yet God took five loaves and two fish and fed the five thousand, with basketfuls left over!

Anyway, I guess I’m just dreaming, and I’m not sure I think it’s God’s will for this dream to come true. But I believe He wants us give as if it could come true, and it starts with me to try to make a difference.

So, what in the world does this have to do with my job as an editor and you writers who read this blog (if you’re even still with me at this point)? Well, I believe God is challenging me and wants me to challenge you as well. With Christmas fast approaching, I keep asking God to cleanse me from my selfish desires and to show me how to want less and give more. One thing among many that He has brought to mind are the Christmas gifts I receive from authors thanking me for working with them on their books. These gifts are so nice and fun to receive, but I don’t need them. And even though my selfishness hates to tell you this, please don’t send them to me. If any of my authors reading this have planned to send me a Christmas gift or card or anything at all, (which you certainly don’t have to, and I certainly don’t expect you to, but just in case…) take whatever money you planned to spend, if even just fifty cents for a Christmas card, and give a gift to someone who really needs it. Drop the change for a card in the nearest Salvation Army bucket or give to a crisis pregnancy center or find an organization like Samaritan's Purse or something much more local or whatever. There are endless opportunities for Christians to give for God’s glory to those who really need it. Reread Matthew 25:34-46 for inspiration and motivation.

Please join me in this challenge to want less and give more and be an amazing testimony for Jesus Christ.

9 comments:

Mary Connealy said...

Okay, JoAnne, I'll take your extra large fruit cake to the Open Door Mission. :)
They'll probably start crying when they see it. And it WON'T BE TEARS OF JOY!!!!

Seriously, this is nice. I usually give every time I walk past the Salvation Army bucket and to other personal choices this time of year. I'll throw in a few dollars more with you in mind. God bless you for suggesting this.

Margie Vawter said...

Excellent post, JoAnne. I've been challenged similarly this year.

Debby Mayne said...

This is a great idea, JoAnne. A church-run food bank in my area is always in need of food, money, and volunteers. I helped out last year by bringing food and spending half a day helping unpack the bags of food and organizing it on the shelves. I'll do that again.

I agree that churches should be responsible for helping those in need. When the government handles social needs, the money often gets filtered through so many hands, there's very little left for the cause. However, when churches do it with volunteers, more of the resources go straight to the people who need them. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things people can do--especially when done with a Christian attitude.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hi JoAnne,

Thank you for the post, and I full heartedly agree; however, I also feel very strongly that we are to encourage our brothers and sisters in the Lord. So...how 'bout a compromise. :-D The money I would have spent on a gift will go to help others, but I will still send you a card of thanks for all you do.
How's that! :-D

Jennifer

CHickey said...

What a timely post. Thank you! Our little church has started work at the local food bank which was alot more rewarding then I thought it would be, and we pull a name from the Angel Tree every year, but I know there is more we can do. Thank you for opening our eyes to this.

Becky said...

Great post, JoAnne. I'd been thinking similar thoughts, but my selfish nature hadn't let me say them yet. :)

Mary Connealy said...

I've got a question you ladies could talk about.

How does Amazon work?

If I order a book on amazon, does that order come to Barbour and you ship the individual book to me?
Amazon can't possible keep books in stock, so they're just redirecting the orders to you, right? Or are there bigger distributors somewhere in a middle man capacity.
And if you ship them personally, how big of a logistical chore is this for you?

Susan Downs said...

Mary,

According to our VP Mary Burns, Amazon does keep a small inventory on hand in their warehouses. For orders that they don't have in stock, they will acquire through a middle-management company such as Ingrams. Wouldn't you like to take a tour of THEIR warehouse?!

Janice Thompson said...

JoAnne, I'm JUST NOW reading your post. (Embarrassing, right?) Anyway, I think it's lovely! I happen to belong to a church that does a great job reaching out to the community (and people around the world), meeting needs. I've always been into outreach as much or more than in-reach. As for your Christmas gift, I'll send you an email. :) I'd thought about sending you a big container filled with cotton candy (guess why?!) but couldn't figure out the logistics of how to send it. :)