Seems the time between my posts just keeps getting longer and longer. Will try to do better. Lots going on lately...
The Beth Moore study that we're doing in our Monday night ladies' Bible study continues to be a blessing. I truly enjoy it...I'd heard before that she was good...I just had no idea how good she really was! Listening to her lessons is helpful because they just seem so practical! With this lesson series, she spends a week of video on each of the three main Jewish feasts. Unfortunately, I had to miss the one a couple of weeks ago on the Passover. But my friend Jenn assured me it was incredible. She said she'd bring her notes for me to look over sometime soon. Also, I may try to see if I can borrow that DVD to watch that lesson that I missed.
This past week, however, was the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. She talked at length about how this feast was a time for remembering former bondage. We also discussed the idea that it was a time for great generosity. It's interesting to me how the two of those go hand-in-hand. The phrase that Beth used that stood out in my mind was "Once you 'get' it, you give it." Once you realize the bondage from which you've been delivered...the GRACE that you've been given...then can you show that grace to others. So this Jewish feast was a time for both generous grace and generous giving.
Generous giving is a discipline that's been on my mind for awhile now. This past January, my church did a month-long study on giving, using Randy Alcorn's book entitled "The Treasure Principle". The book is divided into a 4-week Bible study that we conducted church-wide in our Sunday morning classes. Our minister also preached on the topic for the four Sundays in January. Towards the end of 2008...before I found out that we were going to be studying this topic in January...I'd already kind-of decided that this was something I needed to work on.
I know that there is not a place in scripture that commands us to give a certain amount. It is up to each person to decide in his/her heart what they can willingly and cheerfully give. I had decided long ago what I, personally, felt that amount should be for me. Confession time: I have NEVER in my adult life been able (willing) to do so. Part of the difficulty for me in this, I believe, is that as a single person, there is no accountability in this discipline, except to myself and God. There are many spiritual disciplines that we, as Christians should work on, and many of them, we can do with each other. I've got Christian brothers and sisters that I can study the Bible with and that I can pray with. Giving, on the other hand, is one of those things that is considered a little bit more personal and private...we don't talk about the specifics of what we're doing...and rightfully so. After all, Jesus Himself said "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Even so...for those who are married, it's safe to assume that giving is something that you at least do with your spouse. For me...that's not the case. Not my parents nor my friends nor my family...nobody but GOD ALONE knows what I do with what He's given to me. So when the lack of accountability or any seemingly obvious consequences comes into play, the temptation becomes larger and larger to write that check for a little bit less....or to perhaps not put that check in there this week...it is a constant struggle.
But it's one that I've decided to tackle this year, with a lot of prayer and...well, giving! I've decided that being just a little bit more responsible with my budget will probably go a long way in helping me reach my goal. I started all of this at the very end of last year, when I made what I thought was going to be a small, one-time gift to a charitable organization of my choice. I followed that up in January by meeting my goal as far as what I wanted to give to my church. I've been able to do that...to give to my church what I've already purposed in my heart...every month so far this year. However, as I said, it's a constant struggle, and it's only March. So I continue to pray about this effort.
But also...above and beyond that...I've so far been able to continue to give a small monthly gift to that charitable organization of my choice. I'm not sure why, really. I just know that for me, there's an ever-increasing amount of respect for the godly people who run this organization and the work that they do. And there's an ever-increasing desire in my heart to help them accomplish their goals, which mainly involve reaching people who might need to hear God's message of hope in the midst of struggles. In all of this, I'm feeling an effect of what we talked about in Alcorn's "Treasure Principle" study. I was reminded of this last night, when I was watching the movie "Fireproof" with some of the girls from church. In one of the scenes, as Kirk Cameron's character is trying to save his marriage, the book his dad has written to him suggests to him that he buy something for his wife--spend some money on her. After all, "it's hard not to care about something you're investing in." Randy Alcorn would word it as such: "My heart always goes where I put God's money." This case with me would be no exception. I find myself visiting this organization's website a lot more frequently, just to see what's going on. I find myself praying for the success of this organization in accomplishing their goals. In short, my heart has followed where I've invested this money, and my desire is to do even more. There's something inside of me that is truly excited to be able to give to them and that can't wait to get that next paycheck in order to be able do so!
I'm not sure what all of this means for me or where it will lead...or rather, where He will lead me...but hopefully it is on a journey to being a more disciplined giver of His blessings. I just share all of this so that you may pray for me as I continue to work on this...constantly. And the line from "Fireproof" last night was just an incredible reminder of this. It was a great movie, even for us single girls, who had a little bit of a girls' night last night! If you've not seen it, I'd highly recommend it. We had a blast watching it last night while doing girl stuff...such as manicures, pedicures, facials, and makeovers, and even a bridal fitting for one of our friends who will no longer be single in a matter of weeks! These girls are incredible and I love spending time with them...and really with all of my brothers and sisters in my community of believers at PV. They're an incredible family of believers that God has given me.
Speaking of the family of God...I had the opportunity on Friday night to go w/some more incredible people from my church to the Gaither Homecoming concert here at Alltel. Seems this friend of mine ended up with a few extra tickets. He asked me if i knew of any other singles that would be interested in joining them. I called around, but had trouble getting in touch w/some folks last minute. Some were outta town. A couple were interested but just unable to make it. But I figured, "I love music...of ALL kinds...and I love Jesus...and I love the McClanahans..." It was a no-brainer for me! I had a wonderful time, listening to some GREAT, GREAT music with this great family that I adore!
So it's been a great weekend for me, full of worship music, movies that remind me of the spiritual disciplines that I am practicing, time spent with brothers and sisters that I adore, excellent worship this morning, and a Bible study class this morning that I am ALWAYS blessed to learn something new from! And now I get to prepare to go back to worship this evening! Hope you have a blessed week as well! Much love in HIM!