Tag Archive: generous


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?

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a friend of mine is in serious need of dental surgery… another friend who has a really tight budget has a car that is in serious need of tyre replacement before something goes horribly wrong… someone else i know has their house taken down by the latest hurricane to hit the states and are just needing a bit of a boost to pay a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment for them and their child… a couple who are having quite a tough time due to the regular circumstances of life could really just use a bit of a weekend break away to be able to focus on their marriage…

as someone who is operating on a fairly tight budget, what do i say to these people? what can i do?

“I’ll pray for you.”

Not that praying for someone is wrong or bad, but if it is all i am able to do, then it does feel somewhat inadequate.

Especially if i can do much more. And the book of James in the Bible seems to suggest that we should:

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. [James2]

Enter Common Change… the non-profit tbV and i work for… and the group we have been a part of for about a year and a half.

The needs mentioned at the start of this post are all ones that have been met by the group we are part of. Although not necessarily all personal friends of ours, we got to play some part in empowering their friends to walk alongside them as some or all of their need was met.

Here’s how it works:

# you register to Common Change and then either create a group [with a bunch of mates, work colleagues, small group at church, indoor hockey teammates] or join an existing group and start contributing usually a monthly amount to the group common pool.

# when someone in the group knows someone [one degree of separation] who has a need they present the need to the group on behalf of their friend.

# members of the group then respond by giving creative suggestions or asking deeper questions to try and figure out the best way to get involved in meeting the need [so drawing on the wisdom of the group]

# when the group has weighed in, a gift is sent to the person in need and the person who shared the need with the group is encouraged to walk the journey with their friend

it is that easy… and it can start small [ten people each giving 10 dollars suddenly have 100 dollars to be able to put towards a need] or be really huge [some people give fixed amounts, others give a percentage of their salary]

the aim is to eradicate economic isolation – instead of simply throwing money at needs or at organisations we are committing to get personally involved in relationships we already have where need exists and hopefully be part of making a long-term difference in someone’s life.

sound doable? interested in learning more or getting involved? email me at brett@commonchange.com and we can get this ball rolling…

Also, if you like the idea it would be great if you could share this link via your social networking vibes… thank you.

cchange

i was listening to someone the other day describe how being part of a non-profit organisation would guarantee them tax benefits and it made me both sad and angry.

kind of like i feel about ‘Worship Song of the Year’ awards and sports stars [and others] who are paid ridiculous amounts of money…

moneytax

don’t get me wrong [well maybe do a little bit cos it makes for a more interesting comment section below] i am not saying that i have a problem with the fact that in many countries you get some sort of tax break when you give money to charities and non-profits and maybe even religious institutions still… my problem lies in using ‘tax benefits’ as the main, or even a major, pull in trying to get you to give.

 

because, if you are giving to something because of the money you get back, you are not really giving. not if that’s your motivation. then you are just using the organisation.

whereas if you give to a thing you have decided to give to and then at the end of the year the government gives you some money back then whoohoo, bonus… if the amount of money you gave to the charity/non-profit was the amount you had chosen to give them, then you should give them the tax back money as well, right?

give to the thing because you think the thing is worth giving to. don’t miss out if there are benefits to be had [and as mentioned maybe add that to give extra to the thing] but let your motivation be that you really believe in the work that you are supporting.

[or better yet, become a part of Common Change and collaborate with a group of people to give towards people you already know who are in need and so add relationship to the whole aspect of giving – let’s make giving personal!]

i would love to get some discussion going on this, and try not trip over the fact that i still think it’s a travesty that this club paid 40 million pounds to that club to get that football player.

Be the change you want to see...

many of you may know that the beautiful Val [tbV] and i flew over to Americaland just over a month ago to start working in Oakland, California with a non-profit called Common Change [formerly known in parts as Relational Tithe] and i wanted to just share a little about that because we are hoping that the grand launch is going to be in a few weeks time, so it is a good space for you to start thinking and engaging with people and wrestling and plotting about this and potentially getting involved…

tbV and i have been part of Relational tithe for coming close to a year now and have seen people helped with medical funds and procedures, a few start up businesses given impetus, prayer and encouragement given to the sick and dying and those journeying with them, support to friends who were pushed out of their job and had to leave the country, and a woman who lost her house in Hurricane Sandy among other things. so when we were invited to be a part of seeing this simple strategy and tool that had worked for a group of about 50 people experimenting for the last 6 to 8 years we didn’t need much convincing – we have seen it in action.

the idea is simple – if you have a group of people [which can be from as few as 3 people although 6 to 8 households seems to be the sweet spot] ready to embark, you sign up [as soon as the site goes live, which as i said is looking like being really soon] and make a commitment to give ten percent of your earnings into a common pool on a regular basis. at any point, anyone in the group is able to share a need for anyone that they are in one degree of separation from [must be someone they know and are in some level of relationship with, so not a friend of a friend’s gardener’s dog for example]. the group discusses the need and shares their wisdom on how best to meet the need [sometimes money, sometimes networking, sometimes alternative ideas] and then when a certain amount of support has been given the need is met and the person who shared the need gets to walk alongside the person they shared the need for and meet the need through relationship.

sounds very simple but quite exciting, right? think about it, ask questions if you have, why not bring it up at a dinner table or meeting this week and see what other peoples thoughts and ideas are… and then head to CommonChange.com and watch the short intro video and if this feels like something you would like to know more about, sign up to receive our latest news or keep an eye here so you can see when we launch…

Common Change is coming soon… are you?

for a sneak peak at the site, with the intro video and a chance to reserve your spot for when it opens, click here…

yesterday at the Simple Way we had our very first session of Conversations at the Simple Way which three of us had largely been working on pulling together for a while – 15 people signed up to hang out with us as we did a couple of different sessions including one on intentional community, a practical serving the community aspect, a story over lunch from someone in the neighborhood who is involved in doing some really life-giving stuff within Kensington, where we live, and a sharing and question time around a specific theme – this one being ‘how to serve God with your Time, Treasures and Talents’ – it really was a great day and a few lines of thort or concept struck me as different people were sharing and i wanted to be able to pass those on:

Coz is a friend of ours from Australia [i know!] and he shared a little about being a good steward of your Treasures [so money and things] and one thing he said which really stood out was that “You can’t outgive God!”

now, maybe to some of you that will seem like an obvious thing. But i think to many of us, and even perhaps a lot of us that ‘know’ it as ‘an obvious thing’ we often don’t really believe it. i mean, not really. Rather our picture of God [whether stated or not, and usually not] is that of this long-bearded fellow sitting on a cloud with his lightning bolt waiting for the second we step out of line so that He can absolutely nail us and make sure that we behave better [which is possibly why we as the church have ended up so often focusing on what we are against and trying to avoid than what we are for?

but it is so true that we cannot outgive God – God is so completely generous and Loving and kind and compassionate and opportunity-giving and the list just goes on… we just maybe need to realign our minds [and our actions] to the fact…

it reminded me of this passage in Luke 11:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Coz spoke about it in terms of putting the focus on our giving. Trusting God and at times risking what might seem ridiculous in terms of being generous to others with the idea in mind that we cannot outgive God and so God will constantly supply our needs and how much more so if we have held loosely on to the things He has entrusted us with before. Those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

How are you doing on the scale of generosity? [money yes, but also time and things and energy] And would it help you to be a little more generous if you truly believed that you had an uber generous God watching over you?

to read about “no technology time” head over here…

so, in the divine way that coincidences seem to work at times, this last week i heard from my new friend matt about a guy called peter rollins and then a day or so later my tag team buddy sean posts a comment to me in the facebook ‘worshipping community’ group about peter rollins…

i really liked the provocativenessity of it so thort i’d share it…

Peter Rollins retells the parable of Jesus and the feeding of the 5000 like this:

“Jesus withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place, but the crowds continued to follow Him. Evening was now approaching and the crowds, many of whom had travelled a great distance, were growing hungry.

14 Seeing this Jesus sent his disciples out to gather food, but all they could find were five loaves of bread and two fishes. 15 Then Jesus asked that they go out again and gather up the provisions which the crowds had brought to sustain them in their travels. Once this was accomplished there stood before Jesus a mountain of fish and bread. 16 He then directed the people to sit down on the grass.

17 Standing before the food and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks to God and broke the bread. 18 Then he passed the food around his disciples and they ate like kings in full view of the starving people. 19 But what was truly amazing, what was miraculous about this event, was that when they had finished the massive banquet there was not even enough crumbs to fill a starving hand.”

which is quite controversial and touching on blasphemous i guess if that is all it is – but when you read the explanation it lights up the dynamite and sets the challenge…

‘Rollins’ ending is not intended to raise questions of Jesus—but questions of us. If we consider it scandalous that Jesus and His disciples would hoard food from the hungry crowd, do we consider it just as scandalous if we do the same?

While Jesus provided generous food for everyone, I’m often consumed with making sure there is just enough for me. I can’t say I follow Jesus if I hoard God’s generosity for myself.’

[got this from an article – on ourdailyjournal.org which you can find here – http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/2010/04/08/enough-for-me%5D

day 4 of the live below the line saw a bit of a stodgy jungle oats breakfast [not enough water, oops] which was microwaved and very easy to make… bit of margarine type substance to give it some flavour…

lunch was leftover soup/stew val made the other day – very tasty and yum cos of all the good veg in it…

then supper was REALLY nice – roasted veg:sweet potato, carrots and leftover butternut and then two pork sausages sliced and fried to add for taste and it was really a winner meal, best all week i think

ate well today and pretty tasty stuff – getting a bit of a better hang of it – don’t know that i have any lessons that came out of it and if you haven’t yet i would go and read my friend lisa’s comments on the whole week’s experiment which i link to over here.

i guess actually the one thing that stood out today was the friend vibe – it’s been a theme this week that a bunch of people hear what we’re doing and are “cool, we’ll take you out to eat” which in the context of this week defeat’s the object a little bit, but the idea of community being so much more important if a bunch of individuals don’t have much because pooling a small amount for a larger amount of people always works better – i remember as a bachelor trying to cook meals for one and it gets quite expensive or wasteful, but when there are four of you say throwing your R12 into the pot, then if you did that for a whole week you could get really creative and everyone would have enough.

the second aspect was the idea of inviting people round to play a game and not being able to offer snacks, drinks etc – fortunately in tonite’s scenario the one guy brought food and so we weren’t going to make them not eat it for the sake of our challenge so the three of them partook [what a word] but the idea that if you are living in a poor context, inviting people around for a meal probably holds less ampedness because of what you can’t offer… you’d think that at least but in my experiences in Kayamandi and Umtata and Malawi and Botswana [when i went as a child] and the Spanish community i visited in the States when i was there it was always the opposite – those with nothing always offer so much – they always give of their best – they are always completely generous – i have experienced this so many times in so many ‘poor’ contexts that i know it to be true…

so ja, one day to go, hopefully we have learnt some stuff – definitely been made aware of a bunch of things and going to give the money we would normally have spent on food to someone who needs it a lot more than us which is great. i think it has been good. but what lisa wrote is true. it’s nothing compared to what can and should and needs to be done.

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