Tag Archive: generosity


community

What a birthday!

Started with breakfast with tbV [aka the beautiful Val, my lovely wife] and our former housemates from Oakland, California, Aaron and Sarah at Martin’s, a local bakery/restaurant just down the road from us.

It finished with Continue reading

Advertisements

mapula1

There is a vicious rumour going around that you can’t meet people on the internet. That is completely true and some of my best friends at the moment are people i have engaged with online and never [or only recently – hi Trevor Black!] met in real life… Sindile, Linde, Felicity and so many more of you can attest to that – while real life is better by far, until you get there, it is possible to have real and meaningful conversations, challenges, shared insights and more.

Which brings me to the place of introducing Mapula Continue reading

DSC01290.JPG

On Wednesday it is my birthday.

i am turning 42 which, according to ‘The Hitchkhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Douglas Adams is the answer to the question, ‘What is the Meaning of Life?’ That’s right, i am literally going to be The Meaning of Life… years old.  Continue reading

generous

i LOVE that description of Generosity – being open-handed.

We experienced that this week. tbV had a conversation with one of the car guards down the road from us and found out that he had a baby daughter and some issues with getting formula for her. She stuck up a question on Facebook for her paediatrician friends and had a whole host of answers and suggestions [and volunteers of assistance and even resource-gathering] within the hour.

The day before we were seeking a chess set for her gran. We managed to get one from my folks but offers of sets via Facebook were also fast and furious.

My friend Kari shared an article on my Facebook wall today titled, ‘Expanding your Circle of Care in which someone started a Facebook group to buy an old man who frequented Subway in the States a sandwich every day as thanks for his participation in World War II.

And obviously tbV is working for Common Change and if you haven’t yet considered whether that might be a great way for you and some friends to experiment with doing Giving in a different way, then you should connect with her and invite her out for coffee. [Slash sushi!]

i like the idea the article lays out about expanding your circles of care to include those who don’t look like you – finding creative ways to extend generosity across race and culture lines in a way that doesn’t promote co-dependence but rather mutual upliftment, feels to me like one of the ways forward as a country. And especially a practical way for people who have benefitted from previous injustices to act towards redressing the wrongs and working towards greater equality and balance.

Thoughts? Ideas? Any ways you have experienced this working in the lives of those around you?

worshipmoney

When it comes to money and using it well, i believe this is something that relates to everyone, not exclusively Christ followers. But, writing as a Christ follower, i will give Biblical backing for the things i am wanting to share here, as i believe they are rooted in God’s heart for humanity which looks very different to when we just let mankind get on with it by themselves.

Two powerful stories comes to mind when i wrestle with the question of ‘How to follow God well in a way that involves my money.’

And interestingly enough they both come from chapters 21 of their respective books:

First up is a story in Chronicles where King David has given in to the temptation of the devil and disobeyed God and the nation of Israel is being punished severely as a result. The story ends with David making an offering to God and the plague is halted. You can find the whole story in 1 Chronicles 21, but look at these three verses near the end:

22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to theLord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”

23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Then in Luke 21, Jesus is hanging in the temple with His followers and this little interaction occurs:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

i like how Jesus sums up the attitude of the rich, when He says, ‘All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth.’ The Message paraphrase says it like this: All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”

Offerings they will never miss vs. All she had to live on

And David sums it up with his statement of, I will not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

In fact, the same story exists in 2 Samuel 24 and this time David says, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

We see a similar story acted out in Genesis 4 with the offerings of Cain and Abel. Abel gives of his absolute best while Cain gives a less enthusiastic offering. The story ends in murder. And interestingly enough it is the one who kept the best for himself and not the one who gave of his best [and thus had less for himself] who ends up doing the killing.

Does our giving cost us? There is Trust involved in this. There is Sacrifice. There is Community.

Or do we ensure that we are comfortable first and have everything we need [and everything we want] and then see what is left and give a small portion of that? Or none at all?

I will not offer worship [sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings] that costs me nothing.

For those of you who are part of a Sunday congregation church, is this possibly a question that could be extended to the community you worship with? Are you at the place you are at on a Sunday because of what it does for you, or because of what you can offer the people there? Or possibly a bit of both. This might be something to think more deeply about [especially if those people all look like you].

Let’s give good and generous gifts. 

[For more thoughts on Money and God and Life, click here]

 

one of the worst things for me about Christmas is the excess.

when it comes to food i have a saying that goes, ‘Gluttony is its own reward’ and it’s true… and i need to be intentional before i sit down at a Christmas meal laden with yummy foods to calm down and have a decent meal but not go overboard. which is why Val and i have taken on a tradition both our families taught us to do, which involves inviting people who are likely to be by themselves to join us for a meal which we usually do on Christmas Eve.

but when it comes to gift-giving and spending money you often don’t have on things people often don’t want or need often [although not always] because of the feeling 0f compulsion [they are going to give me something so i have to get them something, or i am expected to get something for so and so] and that just makes me sad and irritated and bleargh.

but this post is not about that [trying to do more shining light and less pointing out poo in my life these days]

it is not even about this incredible video which really inspired me both by the incredibleness of a village in Malawi being able to obtain clean water for the first time ever [and how we can be a part of funding that] but more so just by the heart and life and community that exudes out of these people [who the majority of us blog-reading types would probably consider poor – although it looks like they have so much to offer us in terms of living well and appreciating each other].

this post is suggesting a gift idea that you might want to consider [especially, but not exclusively, if you are a married couple] giving to a couple you know to send them the message that you are cheering on their marriage [which let’s face it, is an institution under much stress and attack these days]

i don’t think i ever would have been thought such a thing if it hadn’t been done for us…

in our time at the Simple Way in Philadelphia, our schedule was pretty hectic [morning prayer at 8am then work from 9 to 5 then something on most evenings and in ‘our spare time’ the idea of connecting with the locals and building community on Potter Street] and we also lived in intentional community with 3 other people [and not the thickest of bedroom walls] in a house that was the centre hub of all the local action with food distributions and after school programs and community potluck meals and so time was a scarce commodity. also with people around all the time our bedroom was both a place of intimacy [remember those walls?]and conflict as it was the only place we really had to be alone – not the most conducive for growing healthy relationship.

and we were in the middle of a voyage of discovery as far as finances and living simply and a mindset that had just moved from South African rands [small] to Americanese Dollars and prices of things in dollars which seemed very daunting once we multipled them by 9, then 10, then 10 and a half…

[enter Lisa and Jacques, stage left]

now to set some context, Lisa’s parents are family friends of ours [who just happen to share the same last name as us but are not officially related although quite possibly more related than mere blood – they have played a huge and encouraging role in the life of our family] and at that point i had never even met Jacques and possibly seen Julie last ten years previously or something… this came out of nowhere.

dATEand i’m not sure if i am remembering this correctly, but i feel like it might have come as a once off gift and then was quickly followed by a note that said, ‘actually we are going to be doing this every month for the next year’ – but the point is this – they committed to giving us a gift of a date night once a month for a year.

 

such a powerful and surprising and effective and life-transforming gift

what was great about it was that it was money given to us to specifically ‘waste on ourselves’ – we don’t have to make any decisions on if or how we could spend it, because they had designated it to be spent for date nights and so once a month [and it was a generous amount so often stretched to more than once] we could head out and find some respite and space for us to just spoil ourselves and be able to date each other.

i don’t know that this is true for every couple, but i do know that we have found marriage to be hard. add into that mix moving city [and country] three times in the four years of being married and having to figure out and then live in the new transitions that life has dealt us and it has not always been easy to give each other the focus and love that we should. having a year’s worth of Date Nights from the Pieterse’s was an absolute gift.

so, if you are a couple who is doing alright financially, that might be one way in which you could really encourage another couple. maybe it is a young couple in their first year of marriage; maybe it is a couple who have just transitioned into a new place or season or work situation; maybe it can take the form of offering a night of babysitting to a couple with children so that they can get out for the night; maybe it is a couple you know who have been struggling a bit in their marriage and could maybe use a bit of a boost.

start by doing it as a once off. anonymously or with a note [i like the idea of identifying yourselves so that you can send the message of ‘we have your backs’ – ‘we are cheering you on’. and then possibly commit to doing it for a year or even just six months and let the couple know what your commitment is so they can be planning for it.

and if you decide to do this, i would so love to hear who you chose and how it goes…

christmastime approaches

bringing with it good cheer

peace and joy to all mankind…

or something like that

 

but who is this ‘all mankind’

this christmastime is bringing its good cheer to?

is it to all those who receive a bonus check

that will enable them to stockpile gifts their children want

but certainly don’t need?

is the cheer on tap for all those who will lie cursing

their overflowing bellies

having made the trip back for the overflowing plate of thirds

they promised they would not eat this year?

or for those returning gifts to the store the day after

in order to get a totally different thing they wanted

that nobody had the decency to think of getting them?

 

or could it perhaps be

that this christmastime

there is the opportunity

to get it right?

 

what would it look like I wonder

if instead of no rooming it in this inn

we decided rather to extend an invitation

to the young pregnant couple we just heard knocking at our door?

 

who might that couple look like to us?

who might that couple look like to me?

 

and who might be the ‘we’ we could invite

to be a part of this transformational Christmas delight?

might it be friends or family, a combination of the two?

might it look like members from my sports team of colleagues from my job?

what manner of creativity could I dig into,

to figure out who this year’s co-conspirators might be?

 

and I do say ‘this year’s’

 

because I am well aware

that if I could extend my personal reach

to look beyond myself,

gather up some fellow plotters of goodness

and throw the dinner to end all dinners

for someone or ones most unlikely

to be the recipients of this any other way…

that this would not be the last time I would choose to celebrate this way

 

and maybe, if I dug even deeper still and found a way for them to be involved

in preparing the food

or perhaps being a part of the entertainment for the evening

of sharing in both the creation and break down of the day

instead of simply sitting off to the side somewhere

as I casually toss a leftover coin from my purse into their hat

well then, who knows the possibilities?

 

awkward? possibly.

uncomfortable? likely so.

a bother to pull together? oh absolutely.

 

so if you’re wanting to receive what you have always gotten

if you’re wanting to achieve what you have always seen

the trick would be putting all of this out of your memory

making as if you’d never come across these words

uttering a silent curse at the one who brought them across your path

and putting it all down to guilt tactics

or condemnation

and “I don’t live in condemnation” you will say

quite loudly and quite often

so as to try convince yourself

of the very opposite you know to be the very Truth…

 

you are trying so desperately to hide from:

 

I was hungry

I was thirsty

I was naked or sick or imprisoned or alone

And you…

 

you turned up the merry Christmas tunes

and poured yourself another glass of wine

and said a lovely prayer of Thanksgiving to God

to thank Him for all the blessings He has showered upon you.

Merry Christmas!

And to all?

%d bloggers like this: