December 29, 2010

2011 - A Year of Giving

It is our shame & disgrace today that so many Christians...go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet them) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor it is the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The words slice my heart deep and I catch my breath. I wriggle in my seat, squirm at the conviction. Seeing yourself in words is uncomfortable sometimes.

The pain of realization is fresh. I know what I must do. No excuses, no rationalizations.

I'm setting aside the theme I had planned for next year.  A new one calls urgently, unrelentingly.

2011 will be A Year of Giving.

Each month, my family will consciously seek to share Jesus in practical, life-changing ways. We will look for opportunities to give of our time, money, and talents.

Even though our income has been drastically reduced.

Even though our spare time is in short supply.

Even though we don't overflow with talent.

The goal is at least one project a month, but I am praying that we will be stretched to give more, to love more. That we can help change lives but, more importantly, that our lives will be changed. That we will be more aware of our blessings. That we will come to this time next year with a deep appreciation for what we have been given, and a burning desire to continue giving to others. That giving will become second nature, a way of living.

This theme is different from the others. It's shifting our perspective from what we can gain to what we can give.

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
- Luke 12:48 (ESV)

Will you join us in A Year of Giving? Pray that the Lord will open your eyes to new opportunities to give and share the love of Christ with others.  In God's kingdom, the heart of the giver matters more than the size of the gift.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
- Luke 21:1-4 (ESV)

holy experience



jenmom said...

I too want to look intentionally this upcoming year for ways I and my family can give to others! We live in an area where the housing/job crisis has hit very hard. We ourselves are thankful for my husband's job and his ministry that provides for our family...we live tight sometimes that I fall back into that anxiousness and worry that I know displeases the Lord. He has been so faithful this past year to provide and take care of us in some absolutely flooring ways!

So, yes I want to look for ways to bless others in practical ways as so many have done for us this year.

Praying you and your family have a blessed New Year!

Lisa notes... said...

Excellent, Melissa. I love your new theme! Isn't it neat how God gives us our themes? I originally started out with "Gifts of Grace" and God kept paring it down to Depend & Delight as the core theme. As I depend on him and delight in what he gives me, I want to give his gifts of grace back to others.

So this will be a great year for me to read your blog again! Thanks for giving already.

His Girl said...

*holding your hand, taking a breath, and diving in*

We're doing much the same here at the HisGirl home. Can't wait to see what happens!

Unknown said...

It is not even Jan 1st and I feel so remarkably blessed by all who have entered the challenge. The opportunity for growth is tremendous. Have a blessed day.

Alana said...

Sounds like a great goal for the new year! Many times giving has nothing to do with money or resources! I know you will be blessed as a result!

Nikole Hahn said...

Sounds like a great theme! Don't burn out. Balance your time. He likes a cheerful giver, not a bedraggled, exhausted and resentful giver. :o) I'll be following to see how it is going.

Angela said...

The year of giving. I like that. I've made notes to do the same thing this year. Can't wait to check back through the year to see how it's going.

Carrie said...

It will be very interesting to see where this year will take you!

Jenny said...

It's shifting our perspective from what we can gain to what we can give.

Well put!

Debra said...

This is beautiful Melissa!
So much more blessed to give than to receive. No matter what form the giving takes, the heart of Christ is best shown through the spirit of sacrificial giving.
May the new year ahead bring us all ever closer to Him, the greatest Gift of all.

Kelly said...

I love this. I am reading Radical by David Platt and it is shedding light on so many ways I focus on self. THis inward focus prevents looking outward and seeing and responding to the needs of others.

tonia said...

Oh my heart is with you so much Melissa. We too are focusing on a different giving area each month. I so want to live a life that gives and gives....but it is terribly easy to become too busy, too stingy, too worried about my own needs and find that generosity shriveling up. I love that you are building your whole year around this focus. I will be learning and watching with joy and joining you in the journey!

Craig said...

Hi, I found you from Ann’s. I know I’m late, but I began reading all of the words, way at the bottom, and worked my way up – and finally have gotten to you today.

I heart your year of “giving”. To make this a year of giving, precisely when you have less to give, that makes God smile I think.

I have prayed for your “giving” year. That he be there strong to help you seek and find chances to give of time, money, and talents. That he lead you to where he wants you used, and that you, as a family, stay willing to being used.

My word was “connecting” – praying for you is a humble start :)

May God richly bless you, and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Amy Nabors said...

What a wonderful way to live this year. God will use your willingness.

Sheryl said...

I'm looking forward to reading your updates on the Year of Giving.

Bonnie Gray said...

"That giving will become second nature, a way of living."

This is so beautiful, Melissa. To hear you envision where this word will carry you next year. Thank you for sharing this first step onto the journey. Very special. So happy to have you in the jam!

Katie said...

Last year my theme was Giving Back... very close to what you describe here. I pray for your journey throughout this year of giving.

Unknown said...

So beautiful that we can have "deep appreciation" along with a "burning to desire" to give.

I'll join you in "looking for ways" by being open to God's leading.

God bless you in your year of giving.