Monday, September 30, 2013

Giving in the Bible Part 2: Attitudes & Thanksgiving

This is Part 2 in a 3-post series on Giving. You can check out Part 1 here.

Giving and Our Attitudes
1 Chronicles 29:17...We are to give willingly
Psalm 37:21...righteous people give generously
Proverbs 3:27-28...Don't delay in giving
Proverbs 21:26...The righteous give without sparing
Matthew 6:1-4...We are to secretly give to the needy.
1 Corinthians 13:3...Giving is meaningless, without love. 
2 Corinthians 9:5&7...Gifts should be given generously & thoughtfully...not grudgingly or reluctantly.
Luke 14:33...We are to give up everything to be Christ's disciples.
Thanksgiving
We are to give thanks to God. See multiple places in Scripture like: 1 Chronicles 16:34-35, 1 Chronicles 29:13, Psalm 7:17, Psalm 9:1,Psalm 119:62, (and many more Psalms I'm not including)
Jesus gave thanks. See Matthew 15:36, Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 8:6, Mark 14:22-23, Luke 22:19, Luke 24:30, John 6:23.
Romans 14:6 Give thanks for food.
1 Thessalonians 5:18...Give thanks always

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Giving in the Bible Part 1: God and Giving

Recently, I became curious about what the Bible had to say about giving and generosity. It turns out, there are over 1,500 "giv" (i.e. give, giving, etc) in the Bible.

Instead of summarizing all 1,500+, I decided to find and write on some of the most applicable ones (i.e. the ones related to money and a few other topics). I split the verses into 5 main categories: 1) God/Jesus & Giving (& Others). 2) Giving Relating to God & Man.  3) Giving & Our Attitudes. 4) Thanksgiving. 5) Giving & Humanity. I didn't want a crazy long blog post, so I'm posting this as a 3-blog-mini-series. Enjoy!!

God/Jesus & Giving
Genesis 1:29-30 and 1 Corinthians 1:4...God is a giver.
Exodus 16:29...God gave us the Sabbath.
Deuteronomy 6:6...God gave us His commands, decrees, and laws.
Matthew 11:28...Jesus gives rest.
John 11:22...God will give us what we ask.
John 14:16...God gave us the Holy Spirit
John 14:27...Jesus gives us peace
Romans 8:32...God is our giver.
1 Corinthians 15:57...God gives us victory
2 Thessalonians 3:16...God gives peace
James 1:5...God gives wisdom generously
Acts 20:35...It's more blessed to give than to receive-Jesus

 Giving relating to God & Man
Exodus 13:12...We are to give God our firsts. 
1 Chronicles 29:13-14...Our ability to give comes from God
Matthew 19:21/Mark 10:21/Luke 18:22...Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff & give to the poor.
Matthew 6:11/Luke 11:3...We are to ask for our daily bread.
Matthew 6:31-33/Luke 12:29-34...God knows we need food, drink, & clothes, but if we first focus on God's kingdom, He will give us what we need. We are to sell our stuff & store treasure in God's kingdom
Matthew 7:7-11/Luke 11:7-13...We are to boldly ask God for our needs & He will give them to us. Men give good things to their kids, and God gives so much more because He is perfect.
Matthew 23:23/Luke 11:42...it's important to tithe (give 10% to God), but it's also important to practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Variation of Living Below the Line

How does it feel to live on $1.50 a day (for food expenses)?

It's one thing to be told how those in poverty suffer. It's another thing to voluntary experience it for a week. There's an organization called Live Below the Line. It challenges people to eat on $1.50 a day for 5 days to walk in the shoes of those who are below the poverty thresh-hold and to raise money to combat poverty.

I learned of this challenge through facebook and opted to do a variation of their challenge. If I was doing it properly, I would only use ingredients that I had bought using my $7.50 (total amount of money for food for 5 days), but I considered had several items at home that I wanted to use and I was doing this informally.

Using the lentils, oatmeal, milk, beans, rice, apples & other staple ingredients I had at home, I went shopping and only bought $7.50 worth of food for the week.

I got yogurt ($2), cheese ($1.80), tomato sauce ($0.60), spaghetti ($1), lettuce ($1), and bananas ($0.52)=$6.92

My main dishes were beans & rice, lentil soup, spaghetti, and oatmeal. Even though I had a well-stocked pantry (and freezer full of emergency soups), I kept finding myself thinking of food. The food I had made didn't always sound especially appetizing, but after enough glances in the fridge (hoping something else would magically appear??) I would get some of my nutritious yet boring food and fill my stomach.

The money I would have spent on the week's groceries for two people (minus what I did spend on the challenge) was donated to fight world hunger.

I was surprised at how important food became in my thoughts. I thought I had chosen filling meals that would last for hours, but I kept glancing at the clock, hoping it was another meal time. I am blessed because it isn't often that my belly is pinched with hunger, so I was surprised at the decrease in my concentration due to hunger. I had enough protein, dairy, fruits, & veggies, but there was no money for snacks or treats.

What can you do to help fight poverty? What does God have to say about poverty & the poor, and our duties? Search the Bible for guidelines and instructions!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Idle Thoughts on Idols

Sometimes I move too quickly. I have a list of tasks and I won't stop until they're done. People take a backseat to the tasks on my almighty list. Of all the idols before me, I have worn down the paths to worship at the feet the idols of Busyness, Productivity, and the List the most.
Yet Jesus is my Rest. Jesus is the Carer of the Lost Sheep around me.

Sometimes I am paralyzed with indecision, fear, and hesitation. Typically when I play video games, it's very easy for me to get caught up in the timing and forget to move. I'm trying to time my run to correspond with a high jump of my enemy mushroom (Commander Keen 4) and I just count & watch. I don't play. Sometimes I am too cautious. I creep forward, save, creep forward, save, etc. In these instances, I cower at feet of the idols Caution, Fear, and Indecisiveness.
Yet Jesus is my Strength. Jesus is the Holder of My Hand.

Sometimes I sit empty and drained. I have spent all of me that I thought I could give. I look to the idols of Entertainment, Social Media, and Mind-Numbing Noise to fill me.
Yet Jesus is the way to Abundant Life.

There are many idols available for worshiping, such as the idols of Money, Relationships, Power, Prosperity, Careers, Technology, Hobbies, and more, yet they are a pale comparison to what Jesus can offer in our lives.

The prophet Isaiah pointed out the foolishness of crafting an idol and then worshiping it. We may not make things specifically to worship, but how we spend our time, thoughts, and money shows who we really serve. If we don't serve God, we are against Him. Chose today who you will serve.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reviewing the "How to Keep Your Husband" Apron

I've discovered a new apron and I felt compelled to read it's tips. It's called "How to Keep Your Husband". Many call it politically incorrect and focuses too much on the man. I decided to read its advice (and I could thanks to this blog here) and categorize the advice as good or bad. I found most of the advice to be very good...if you apply it to both in the marriage). Granted, some of the images are not politically correct (for instance the image with the solid advice "show him and tell him you love him" is a man relaxing in a chair while his wife serves him food from a plate, while on her knees), but that doesn't negate the importance of the advice. You can buy it here if you wish.

Bad advice:
  • Always look innocent! (I value honesty in marriage, so if you did something wrong, own up to it please)

Good advice if both follow it:
  • Watch your weight! (It's a double standard to expect the woman to keep her weight at the newlywed level, but not the man to do likewise. Watching your weight can allow many more happy years in the future.)
  • Kiss him often! (A marriage resource recommends a minimum of one passionate 15 second kiss per day.) 
  • Have dinner ready! (I view this as a simple way to show that I love my hubby and am thinking about him.)
  • Get up for breakfast with a smile! (It's a personal rule of mine to not start up my computer until after my hubby leaves for work. The 30 minutes we are both awake and at home before he leaves for work are the only minutes I get to see him for 9 hours. I try to send him on his way with a positive note.) 
  • Don't open his mail! (If I do this, without permission, I'm being nosy and show a lack of trust.) 
  • Don't nag! (My hubby doesn't appreciate nagging and is more willing to do necessary tasks without nagging.) 
  • Don't go thru his pockets! (Again, if I do this, without permission such as laundry day work, I'm being nosy and show a lack of trust.) 
  • Don't gossip over the phone! (This is just good manners.) 
  • Don't get mad or jealous! (I view anger and jealously stemming from a lack of trust as dangerous. My hubby never yells and when I'm angry, I go off to another room until I cool off and can rationally discuss what I'm feeling, why I'm feeling it, and what needs to change. Anger rarely solves the problem in our household.)
  • Let him read his paper in peace! (My hubby needs 30 minutes of "detox" time or time to unwind after work. There is plenty of time after these 30 minutes for him to hear about my day and for me to hear about his.)
  • Encourage his hobbies! (Spouses need encouragement and dreams & hobbies should be encouraged.)
  • Praise his in-laws! (Criticizing my spouse's parents causes him to get defensive. It also puts my husband in an awkward situation: does he choose his parents' side or his spouse's side? Another book I recently read noted that if there is a big problem between you and the in-laws, your spouse should also see it as a big problem and be willing to talk with his parents. So choose praise, your spouse will appreciate it.)
  • Don't be a know-it-all! (I was taught that "no one likes a know-it-all." Sometimes people need to learn things for themselves. Sometimes there are other acceptable ways to reach a solution.)
  • Don't go over the budget! (If you have a budget in your marriage, which I recommend, both of you should stick to it!)
  • Don't look sloppy over the breakfast table! (Women, we dress up to see the world and we wear our comfy, yet not dressy, clothes at home. Our husbands should get to see us dress up for them, like we did when we were dating. Putting effort into our appearances says, "We care about pleasing you.")
  • Don't boss him around. (Husbands are the God-ordained head of the house. It's hard for them to fill that role when there is a dominating wife who refuses to give up the headship position. My hubby taught me that if I'm filling the leadership role, he's just going to relax...it's already covered, you see.)
  • Show him and tell him you love him. (Spouses should be shown and told of your love for them. Often. Consistently.)
So when I read this 1950s style marriage advice, I found myself nodding my head a lot, for I agreed that these were good words to keep a marriage happy if both spouses applied them to their lives.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Minimalizing out of Love

Sometimes it's hard to get rid of stuff, because we're attached to it. It has memories and sentiment covering the item in question.

For me, it's easier to give away such things to a good home.

I knew that when my hubby and I go into missions, there are a lot of things we won't be taking. One of them was the dog pictured beside the adorable little girl in her first big girl bed. (The platypus Lucas and I won during our honeymoon is going with us to another country). I didn't want to store the puppy for many years until we had kids or grandkids to love it. I wanted someone to love it now.

Here I am in my first big girl bed, with my puppy.

And so, I asked a sweet and wonderful gal with a little munchkin if the munchkin would like it. Then I gave my puppy away. It's in a good home now. The munchkin will have many years and many memories with the puppy and I am able to fondly remember my memories with the puppy.

It's easier to give away precious items to someone you know. It's easier to give away precious items to someone with a need.

Sometimes we aren't ready to part with items and that's ok. Sometimes we aren't ready to donate items to a thrift store and that's ok. Sometimes it's easier to give to a friend with a need.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Far From the Home I Love

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, one of the main character's daughters leaves her Russian-Jewish family to move to Siberia to marry the man she loves. "Far From the Home I Love" is the musical number that she sings to her father, explaining why she is drawn to go to Siberia and how home is wherever her love is.

Lucas and I are going far from our homes, the state we were born in, and our country. We are going in obedience to God to where He has called us. Yet we are leaving our family, friends, and home.

We've been packing up, storing, and giving away our possessions. Our house is virtually empty. The walls now echo when we sneeze or cough (not that we're sick, mind you).

We've been saying goodbye to family, co-workers, and friends. Sometimes for the long-term, other times until the next time we get online to chat.

Yet, from prior mission trips, we learned that where the family of God is gathered, that is home for us. So in a way, we are going far from the home we love to a new home we will love.

(you can check out www.LucasGentry.com for more details)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Unplugging for Sanity

If you are like me, sometimes you get fed up with the internet and computers. They are wonderful & great...but they can be time-sinks and a consistent plan de-railer. I got fed up after one too many times of planning a full, productive, and necessary task-based day, only to fall prey to the internet and my "5-more-minutes" mentality.

So I had my husband change my computer password and his computer password for what turned out to be a 17 day experiment. Each day during the experiment, while he was at work, I had a chosen & preferred internet-free time. When he got home, he was more than willing to log me on, so I could do my computer-based tasks, such as writing church lessons, budgeting, visiting sites, and of course, checking facebook.

I've learned that there are many tasks that need a computer or other technology (like my plan to make a pdf of my loose recipes using a scanner & my computer, or my plan to declutter my computer files, or my plan to email a few friends), but I have other things that I can and should be doing during the day that don't involve a computer.

I'm enjoying having less computer time. I settled into a routine with less multi-tasking and more productivity. I've found time to read books for pleasure and to declutter (another joy-causing activity). My sanity has enjoyed this experiment.

Computers are necessary, but sometimes I forget that computers aren't nearly as vital as I sometimes treat them.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Life of Our Dreams

What life do you dream about?

Having more wealth? Having more stuff?
Being surrounded by friends and family for the rest of your life?*

For me, my dream is different.

I dream of doing ministry where God calls us (which is currently Costa Rica).
I dream of living a life with minimal stuff, due to an influence by Miss Minimalist.
I dream of packing lightly on trips, due to the site One Bag.
I dream of community, complete with gardens, shared washers, dryers, snow-blowers, lawn-mowers, and neighbors who talk and share.
I dream of fellowship over meals.
I dream of homemade, nutritious, and mindful cooking.

Now for the hard question...what am I doing to reach the life of my dreams?

We are preparing for Costa Rica, what we will take, what we will leave, what details need addressed, etc. We leave in less than 2 weeks!!
We clean out our closets & possessions. We donate items to thrift shops & shop there ourselves.
I choose lightweight clothes that don't wrinkle easily, no make up or hair care (beyond a brush, shampoo/conditioner, and scrunchies/headbands).
I think of what kind of life we want once we put down roots and how we can achieve it (this is strongly in the dreaming stage).
I invite company over.
I research and plan good healthy meals that are also delicious.

What are you doing to reach your dream life?

*while I love being near friends and family, my husband & I are called to ministry and that can mean a lot of moving, but with technology, we can still stay in contact with our family & friends.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Peace of God

As I prepare for ministry in Costa Rica, I am wracked with anxiety. I know this is where God is calling us for the next 3-12 months, but anxious thoughts roll around in my brain, especially in the mornings and evenings. 30 days before our trip, I was physically sick with nerves. The next morning I decided to dive into the Word of God to see what is says about peace. There are 249 verses on peace, but 45 I deemed especially relevant to me. These words are becoming my prayers when anxiety grips me.



May God give me peace. Numbers 6:24-26

A name of the Lord is “The Lord is Peace” (aka Jehovahshalom [that is, The Lord send peace]/Jehovah Shalom/“The Lord makes peace.”/“Adonai-Shalom”/“The Lord Calms Our Fears.”/the Lord's peace/The Lord Calms/Yahweh Shalom/“Yahweh is peace.”/“God’s Peace.”/“The Lord is on friendly terms with me.”/Hashem Shalom/“The Eternal One is Peace.”) Judges 6:24

God makes me dwell in safety and I can lie down & sleep in peace. Psalm 4:8

God gives his people strength and blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11

God promises peace to His people. Psalm 85:8

Those who love the law have great peace & nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

Wisdom’s ways are pleasant & her paths are peace. Prov. 3:17

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Those whose minds are steadfast/unwavering/determined/trusting in God will be kept in perfect peace by Him. Isaiah 26:3

God establishes peace for us. All our accomplishments come from God. Isaiah 26:12

The fruit of righteousness is peace & its effect is quietness & confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

If I pay attention to His commands, I can have peace like a river. Isaiah 48:18

Christ’s suffering brought us peace. Isaiah 53:5

God won’t remove His covenant of peace. Isaiah 54:10

Our kids will be taught by the Lord & have great peace. Isaiah 54:13

We will go forth in joy & peace. Isaiah 55:12

God extends peace like a river to His people. Isaiah 66:12

God will let us enjoy abundant peace & security. Jeremiah 33:6

Jesus leaves His peace with us. John 14:27

Jesus taught us so we could have peace. John 16:33

Those who do good will have glory, honor, and peace. Romans 2:10

The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

May God fill me with joy & peace as I trust Him. May I overflow with hope. Romans 15:13

The God of peace will be with me. Romans 15:33

Live in peace, seek restoration, encourage each other, be unity, and God of Love & Peace will be with me. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Grace & peace to me from God & Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3

God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

Part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Galatians 5:22-23

Don’t worry, but pray. Tell God my needs and thank Him for what He has done. Then I will experience God’s peace, which pass all I can understand. His peace will guard my heart & mind. Philippians 4:6-7

Put into practice what I have learned & the God of peace will be with me. Philippians 4:9

May the peace of Christ rule my heart. We were called to peace. Colossians 3:15

May the God of peace sanctify me all through. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

May the God of peace give me peace at all times & in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

May the God of peace, through Jesus, equip me with good things for doing His will. Hebrews 13:20-21

Grace and peace be mine abundantly. 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peace to all who are in Christ. 1 Peter 5:14

Grace & peace be mine in abundantly through my knowledge of God. 2 Peter 1:2

Grace, mercy, & peace from God. 2 John 1:3

Mercy, peace, & love will be mine. Jude 1:2

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.