Tag Archives: Giving

Help without words

I helped an old man with the Bible yesterday. Honestly, I was caught completely off guard by his question. He walked in with his Android phone and I asked what I could do for him.

“How do I work the Bible button?”

At first, I thought I had misheard him as there is no Bible button and I’m sure there would be mass protests in the streets if Motorola attempted such a thing. I had to ask him again to be sure I had heard correctly and when he said it again I was positive that I was mishearing something. So upon receiving his phone I saw that he was in fact referring to a Bible app that had somehow been grouped with another app. My initial thought was this must be the problem and uncoupled the apps for his ease of use. Then I opened the app and to make sure he was able to use it.

“Hold on!” he protested. “I forgot something.”

The old man ran out to his car and came back with what I immediately recognized as scripture readings from any given Sunday. I didn’t get a long glimpse, but I don’t think he was Baptist as they didn’t resemble any of the formats that the Baptist churches in I’ve been to in my area. It appeared to be a bit more traditional from my estimation. I suppose I could’ve asked him his denomination, but politics and religion are generally frowned upon topics in the workplace. Especially when there are other customers around.

Anyhow, I tried helping him with the app and even searching the scriptures he had brought out from his car. I say tried because whoever designed the app did a very poor job. There seemed to be no real logic to it and even had buttons that didn’t function. I suggested he let me put a better app on his phone which he agreed. So I installed the app that I recently started using in my personal phone and it was such a verse showing him how to use it. He was thrilled with all the functionality of it. That is until I showed him how to switch between translations (the default being KJV).

“I don’t NEED any other version! ” he snapped angrily.

Okay, definitely not Lutheran.

Suffice to say, he was very happy that he could now use the scriptures on his phone. Judging from what he brought in, this was going to be a big help for him in church. While I’ve never been able to get behind the King James Version (I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not the same language), I’m glad to have been able to help someone in their Christian walk. I think perhaps something that we as Christians don’t always consider is that we can help people in their walk with Christ even when we’re not in a situation where we adequately talk to them about it. The tools we have at our disposal in this day and age are astounding. Sometimes we just need to give someone the right tool.

I honestly don’t know how he’ll be using the new app I put on his phone, but he left me with an impression that the app is going to help him be more involved in the word and his church.

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What’s in a good work?

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Often times, a good work is mistaken for doing something beyond one’s everyday vocation. Volunteering at the local food pantry. Giving blood. Clothing the poor. Feeding the hungry. Don’t get me wrong. These are certainly wonderful and good works and those who do them are doing great things which are not to be downplayed at all. But a good work isn’t necessarily these great things nor is it some great act of heroism or what have you. A good work is also the mundane. The boring everyday stuff we take for granted. The things that no one bats an eye at and no one ever notices until that work stops. A good work is often simply doing your vocation.

The mother who changes dirty diapers is doing a good work. The trash man who drives by your home every week and takes away your garbage is doing a good work. The hairstylist who keeps her customer looking professional for his job is doing a good work. The cashier who sits behind a register ringing in peoples groceries is doing a good work.

These all seem so mundane and insignificant, but if anyone of them were to stop what they were doing, someone’s life would be more difficult. Maybe not a lot, but a little. These are all good works that benefit and help people, even if they don’t recognize it.

I think this excerpt from another blog sums it up quite nicely.

So what is a good work in God’s sight?  Quite simply it is something that God has prepared in advance for us to do.  It is something that we have done out of faith and love for the Lord our God.  It is something that is pleasing to the Lord our God because it is something done according to his Word and his will. 

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You can’t accept a gift

An argument I hear from my from many of my Christian Brethren is that you have to accept Jesus to achieve salvation. I take issue with that because it puts salvation on something we do instead of something that Christ does. The reasoning I often hear used is that salvation is a gift and you still have to accept the gift to receive it. To that I say, “Then it is not a gift.”

If one has to accept it, then it’s not a gift; it’s a transaction. Here’s the crazy thing about gifts. You don’t get to accept them. They are given to you whether you want them or not. It’s yours and you have it. You had no choice in the matter. Now, if you want to take that gift, set it on fire, and kick it at the giver’s dog after the fact, that’s your prerogative, but as far as accepting it, you didn’t even have the option. Let’s use an example.

Say your home was a dump because you’re lazy and roaches do your bidding. Now let’s say I come over one day and clean your house so that it looks better than the day you bought it because I’m an awesome friend and I wanted to do something nice for you. I then turn to you and say, “This clean house is my gift to you because you are my friend.” I cleaned your house as a gift and you couldn’t accept it. I just did it and now your home is clean. Whether you choose to thank me because I cleaned your house or curse me because your roach minions are no more is completely irrelevant.

Salvation works in much the same way. You don’t get to accept Jesus’s forgiveness and grace because it is a gift. He just gives it to you. Now, should you fall away after the fact, well that’s your prerogative, but when you were given faith, you had no part in that.

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Putting holidays in their place

What would you say if I told you that there was a Christian holiday in December that is celebrated by the giving of gifts? And what if I told you that it’s not Christmas? You’d probably give me a mildly confused look, but I’d be telling you the truth. Christmas, contrary to the culture, is not a holiday celebrated with the act of gift giving.  In fact, it’s not even a single day.  It’s twelve days.  And despite what The Twelve Days of Christmas may say, it’s more like twelve days of feasting rather than twelve days of gifts. So if that is the case, than what is the Christian holiday in December that is celebrated with the giving of gifts?

Why, that’d be St. Nicholas Day on December 6th named after none other than St. Nicholas.  He was a third century Christian who has become synonymous with generosity.  In fact, is what our tales of Santa Clause come from.  He’s also where we get the Christmas tradition of hanging stockings to be filled with presents from as well.  I’m not going to go into his story, many other sites have done that far better than I ever could.  While I doubt this will sway many Christians, I want to say that I really enjoy the thought of having St. Nicholas Day as the day of gift giving.  You can still have all of the fun family events that you would do on Christmas every year and a few weeks sooner to boot.  But then, something more magical happens because of this.  On the twelve days of Christmas, you’re not distracted by all the gifts and what have you because that happened a few weeks ago.  So Christmas becomes a more special time.  A time for Jesus Christ.  I appreciate Christmas a lot more than I used to and it’s wonderful.

So this Saturday, I want you all to have a very happy St. Nicholas Day.  My wife and I celebrate with our daughter by exchanging our gifts and watching a Nicholas Cage movie with homemade eggnog.  I’m thinking this year she may need to finally see Con-Air.  😉

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