Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Greatest Gift

It's hard to escape the fact that December, at least in the US and the West, is a time of giving.  We exchange gifts.  Stores ask for donations to spread the cheer.  We give and receive Christmas cards as well as a multitude of end-of-year letters from NGO's and people like me. 😉

I think it's good to have a season of giving especially when our society continues to convince us that we need things that our predecessors happily lived without.  But I'm reminded that as God Himself said in His Word, the greatest gift to give is love.

As I read over its definition in 1 Corinthians 13 for this morning's Bible Study, I was sobered as I am every time I read this passage.  It's not just the fact that I see a lack of these qualities in my own heart and life, but other spiritual merits including generosity, are basically canceled without love at the core.  I think I can sometimes deceive myself that my spiritual gifts, faith, or generosity can override a bit of impatience of irritability, especially toward those who offer the same.  Of course, this is not so, according to the One with the right to judge.

Thank God He is not just a righteous Judge, but also merciful.  He Himself is our source of love, so we can confess our waywardness and selfishness and humbly ask for His love to replace our less-than efforts.

I'm thankful, too, that our God is constantly calling us to His love and in His divine wisdom and power can so arrange that today's lesson in Spirituality of Fundraising would reinforce the call to love as first and foremost.  I'll end with a quote on one of four ways to commit to wholeheartedness.  Perhaps it will encourage you as it has me to be rich in love, both giving and receiving.

Most of us want to give and receive love and to experience joy and peace.  We want to get along with people and to be patient and generous.  We hope to have adventure, quality relationships, and lots of laughter in our lives.  None of these things can be purchased.  Once we have created a personal picture of what wholeheartedness means for us, we can commit to that vision.  When we stray from our vision, we can return to God as the place of our security and the source of love that will fill our heart. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

'Tis the Season to Be Waiting :)

Speaking of waiting, so sorry for the long delay in writing.  I went to SE Asia and was incredibly busy without secure Internet, so chose not to write.  In fact, I will most likely end this blog, but figured I could and should still use it to communicate for now, so I'm back. :)

I'm limited with what I can share and will use this to very briefly catch you up.  The trip was very good, helpful, and informative.  I suppose it's appropriate that Advent began yesterday as I'm very much in a season of waiting.  Waiting on details, waiting on timelines, waiting to go!

I'm reminded that Advent is a time not just to wait with boredom, passivity, distraction, or impatience, but with purpose and preparation.  I'm grateful for a book I recently purchased at the recommendation of the New Wineskins' workshop speaker: Henri Nouwen's A Spirituality of Fundraising.  Raising support (aka finding ministry partners) is also the season that I'm in.  Going through this book is part of my personal preparation to work on my heart and mind during the waiting while transforming me in the process!  I really like his insights, approach, and example of prioritizing loving people over the task (not just of fundraising, but of ministry).  That's a way that you can pray for me. :).  

May all of us guard against the distractions and plain busy-ness of the world's view of Christmas and embrace the sweetness that comes with bringing our unfulfilled desires to the One who will fulfill them with eternity in mind, the One who is the Beginning and the End.  We wait for more than a day on the yearly calendar, but a day unknown to our calendars when our Lord will return and satisfy our longings with Himself.  Happy Advent, y'all!