Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gratitude is great, but generosity is better

Gentle readers...

I hope this time has been one of inspiration for you, as it has been for me. As you know from reading past posts, I have been overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude for all with which we have been blessed. Without the ongoing assistance of family and friends, we would have long been homeless and hungry. An "attitude of gratitude" is wonderful. But, this week my spirit was pricked with the idea that gratitude must give way to generosity.

This past Sunday, our regional elder was visiting our church. During one of his prayers, he prayed that we might allow our gratitude to compel us to generosity. How true! God doesn't simply bless us to have us hoard that which He gives. God blesses us that we may bless others, my friends.

For example, even though our funds were short it was not uncommon for people to come up to us and ask for money...$5 or $10. Now, I'm not one to just give money away. But, how odd that during this time of blessing we should have so many people asking for help? I say it was God teaching us that giving is better than receiving. And giving with gratitude for God's blessing and our ability to help is even better.

I've learned that, even though I must be wise in giving, I also must accept that it is up to God to sort out who is honest and who is a con artist. The Holy Spirit who lives inside us will teach us and lead us how to share that with which God has blessed. That's part of the Holy Spirit's job (for lack of a better word).

It never failed. God never failed. When I shared what small amount I had with others, God blessed even more! It's akin to the principle of tithing. Some would say they can't tithe or increase their offerings because the money just isn't there. I would challenge you that in honoring God by increasing your giving, even a small amount, you will find that God provides so much more than you give. I've seen it in my own life over and over again.

I'll give you an example: One Sunday we went to church with $5 in our pockets. That was all we had for groceries and gas that week; just $5. We took a step of faith and put it in the offering plate. Guess what happened next? A gentleman in our congregation turned around and handed each of us a $50 bill. That's $100, dear friends. God turned our $5 widow's mite into $100, which gave us food and gas for that week (and then some). As we continue to honor God's desire that we be generous, God blesses all the more.

I would challenge you today to find ways in which you can take the blessings of God and use them as opportunities for generosity. Not only does it honor God, but it frees your spirit to experience the wonder of a generous spirit.

Dear God, turn our hearts of gratitude to ones of generosity and in so doing bless the world around us.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Exciting Conference Opportunity

Hello gentle readers...

I wanted to share with you a wonderful opportunity. Whosoever, an online ministry for gltbq folks is having a magnificent conference this year. I've posted the link so you can check it out. Also, below is the invitation from the editor:

Whosoever made history in 1996 by becoming the first online magazine for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. Now, Whosoever is making history again, marking ten years as the premiere resource for millions of GLBT Christians seeking spiritual wholeness.

To celebrate that landmark, Whosoever will host a conference at Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 14-15, 2006. The "Reaping the Spiritual Harvest" conference will feature many inspiring workshops and keynote speeches from Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign's faith and religion program and Candace Chellew-Hodge, founder of Whosoever Ministries, Inc. who now lives in Camden, SC and serves as the assistant pastor at Garden of Grace United Church in Columbia. Renowned lesbian Christian singer Marsha Stevens will give a special concert.

The "Reaping the Spiritual Harvest" conference will give GLBT Christians and their allies a chance to reap the benefits of this movement as they come together for a time of spiritual renewal and community building. Workshops will focus on such topics as spiritual self-defense, coming out to family and ways to reclaim the scripture as a source of joy and inspiration for GLBT Christians.

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.whosoever.org/conference or email Candace at editor@whosoever.org.

I hope all of you will take advantage of this opportunity. Whosoever has given me support for many years. I have been more than blessed by this ministry. It is my great pleasure and honor to recommend this conference and the Whosoever ministry to you. Check them out. And if you are able, register for the conference and join us in Atlanta for a wonderful time of revelation, worship and fellowship!

Many blessings,

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Years Resolutions...and other things....

Happy New Year, gentle readers....

The picture at the left is of a rushing river in Ireland. Many of you know that my family history is Celtic and I've been fascinated by all things Celtic lately. But while looking at this photo, I was reminded of how our lives are like a rushing river. Each year marches on without fail. Some months feel as though the river just crawls along. But in the final analysis, it is rushing by.

We have all been through so much this year. Personally, in our house we have faced the aftermath of my partner's deployment to Iraq, the constant fight with the Veterans' Administration over their responsibility to her, the fear of Hurricane Katrina and all of the stress of trying to overcome the losses from that storm, the loss of jobs and loved ones. The list goes on, as I'm sure it does for you.

But, just as the river rushes forward so do our lives. This is a new year with new promises and...new challenges. The cold, dark winter will eventually lead us to a bright, colorful springtime. We can be comforted in knowing that seasons of despair lead ultimately to seasons of joy and promise. We can be assured that above all things our God has our very best interests at heart and will never let us fall.

My partner and I have learned this lesson this year. Our God is bigger than any earthly difficulty we face. Our lives have truly become about "but God." In our humanity we struggle and triumph, as well as struggle and fail. "But God" in the spirit realm works for our good in all things. Our needs have been met this year in ways of which we could never dream. God has used people we didn't know to meet needs we had...and always at the time they were needed! Just this month, one of our customers at work called and asked to speak to the girl from Bay St. Louis. When I identified myself, they asked how long I would be working that day (it was Christmas Eve). They said to wait for them and they would be there shortly. Two wonderful folks walked in and handed me a Christmas card with a $100 gift card to Wal-Mart/Sam's Club. These are people completely unknown to me, but well-known to God. Their obedience provided us food and gas for the last week of December when we didn't know where to turn.

These incidences occured all these months. To show you all of them would take pages and pages. My point is that God knows us. God knows what this year will bring, both good and not so good. When we submit ourselves to Him, He works on our behalf to meet all of our needs. Remember the scripture that says, "...my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

My dear friends, you can know in your heart (as I do in mine) that regardless of what you face in 2006, whether good or challenging, God will be your strength and your provider. So go forward into this year with great confidence. The river will continue to rush, but God will be the guide through the rapids!

May God richly bless you this year. I thank you for reading and sharing time with me through this blog. You have honored me with your time and your comments. I am looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you.