Thursday, December 5, 2013

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

The Countdown to Christmas Party is going strong, but I would be remiss if I didn't take time to share a little more about what the Lord is teaching me about giving right now, especially here at Christmas. I'd love to hear your thoughts, too!

There’s always a lot of talk about giving around Christmas. It makes sense. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift in all of history. So giving is at the very heart of Christmas!

Sometimes, though, I’ve wondered if we wait all year long until it’s “time” to give.  As if because it’s Christmas, we’re suddenly supposed to open our wallets and start doing for others and giving more. But what if we didn’t wait until December 1 to start giving? What if we made it a lifestyle? So that every month, every week even, we gave to somebody, somewhere. Hubs and I have tried to make giving a priority throughout our marriage, but we’ve recently been challenged to dig a little deeper … give ‘til it hurts. I don’t know what that looks like or how that will play out, but it’s something we’re praying through right now.

Today it’s December 5, just weeks away from Christmas. Sometimes it feels like the needs are just … more … right here at Christmas. As I've thought about it, I think there are three "types" of giving ... especially at the holidays. 
  • Giving financially to those in need ... directly to people we know or through trustworthy organizations. This can be straight up donations or there are lots of cool ways that you can give in honor of someone.
  • Giving gifts that help others ... you know, gifts that people we love can use and enjoy but that help fund something bigger than simple capitalism.
  • Giving by doing ... showing our love for others by helping, doing, giving our lives for the sake of others.
Let’s start now. Let’s do this. Let’s give ‘til it hurts. Feel the pinch. Feel the tug on your heartstrings. Feel your heart breaking a little more for those in need. Let the Spirit speak to you and tell you where to give, who to give to, and how much to give. And then obey.

Don’t know where to start? There are lots of ways to do this. Here are a few suggestions of ways to give financially to those in need …

Your Church: This seems so simple, but start here. Give faithfully to your local church. Is your church collecting a special offering this Christmas? Give to it. Is your small group buying gifts for a family in need? Participate!

Ministries or Organizations in Your Community: There are so many needs, and my guess is that your community has lots of organizations that are trying to meet as many of them as possible. Ask them what they need. Here are a few places to start: Department of Human Resources (or other organizations that care for foster children in your community), children’s homes, homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes/retirement centers. You get the idea. Love on somebody!

Compassion International: Surely you know by now how special Compassion International is to us. If you can swing it, sponsor a child. It’s $38 per month, and it is life-changing. Let me just tell you. If you already sponsor or can’t commit just yet, check out the Christmas Gift Catalog.

Hope International: Hope International serves people around through microfinance. Basically, individuals can request a loan, start a business, and provide for their families. And the best part is they work through the local church! I have seen them in action. They are the real deal. Check out their catalog for some really unique ways to help families around the world start businesses so their lives can be forever changed. (P.S. Someone in our family will be getting a GOAT for Christmas this year!)

Samaritan’s Purse: Samaritan's Purse provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. They are often one of the first organizations to assist in disasters worldwide and help meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Check out their gift catalog for a huge variety of gifts … and quite a few for $15 or less if you’re on a tight budget.

Operation Christmas Child: Over the past 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has provided Christmas gifts to more than 103 million children around the world. This is a simple, tangible way to show the love of Christ. National Collection Week has passed, but you can now build a shoebox online!

International Mission Board: 100% of the International Mission Board’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes to support international missionaries as they share the gospel overseas. Your gifts will help start churches and ensure that people hear the gospel … many for the first time.

Door of Hope: Door of Hope is an orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa. They help rescue and care for abandoned, aborted, abused, and orphaned children in South Africa by providing a temporary home while seeking a forever family for each child. This ministry is so dear to me, as I volunteered here for several months after graduating from college. DOH meets a tremendous need in this community.

International Justice Mission: International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems - police, courts and laws - effectively protect the poor. Be part of this important work through IJM’s Gifts of Freedom Holiday Gift Catalog.

Gospel for Asia: Gospel for Asia is committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with lost men, women, and children throughout South Asia. Check out their Christmas catalog to see how you can be part of training, equipping and sending out laborers to share the Good News. Your partnership will impact the spiritual and physical well-being of those in desperate need.

That’s a starting place at least! So let’s get to it!
Put your money where your heart is!

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