"Need money for rent and bills". (part 3)

PART 3

I have been stewing over this for quite some time and have come to some highlights, conclusions and solutions to this string of posts inspired of those who have held the cardboard signs pleading for help throughout my small world.

1. We are all in need of each others help, some more than others. Some are actually brave enough to ask.

2. We are blessed beyond measure and it’s our priveledge to be able to pass along that blessing to those who may benefit. If you can help, do so.

3. We are typically quick to judge but the real Judge is quick to extend mercy and grace. We need to always remember this unbelievable gift.

4. We need to adopt the love of Christ and and love others not excluding those we don’t typically feel comfortable around or associate with. “Rich white people are not the only people who need Christ!” –Matt Carter

5. There are ways to help those in need even if you do not have money to pass out to those who request it. Here is one example:

Last night, our community group was blessed with the opportunity to help serve dinner at the East Texas Rescue Mission. An organized mission to help those without food and a place to stay. This place is legit. Centered on mission and equipping men to learn and grow in Christ and get back on their feet again. This mission is supported by people who volunteer. Some help with maintanence, some with cleaning, teaching and food. Many churches and other organizations help and often those who stay at this mission do when no “outsiders” show up to lend a hand.

We arrived around 5:30 yesterday evening, was instructed on how our team could help distribute dinner and got to “work”. Some helped with drinks, some with spooning dinner and distributing side items, and some with cleaning. I was the hot food transporter. Within 1 hour all 95 men were served and dishes were clean and ready to go for the next day. 1 hour!

1 measly hour of our selfishly, overly-complexed life was set aside and was of value to those who cannot pay us back. It’s great to help serve food but the real mission here is to connect with hurting people. People who have experienced heart-ache, loss, bad decisions, loneliness, and despair just as you and I have. I am not as outgoing as some of the other guys in my group who were able to sit and chat with these men after the meal but hope to be more assertive in this regard one day soon.

When leaving the mission last night I told Traci that I actually felt kind of lame at how easy and effortless it was for us to help. I think my real disappointment was the feeling that there is so much more we can do for our fellow citizens. It’s a shame that we are so centered on ourselves that we don’t even begin to think of ways to consistently do things like this. Think about it. When was the last time we searched for a way to serve then followed through actually serving someone that we don’t know and can not pay us back? Even is we can not show up at a mission to help, we can point or even lend a ride to the brave cardboard holding brothers and sisters in distress to these types of missions.

I really believe that this was a valuable lesson for me and many from our group. One small step into something bigger. I am excited to see where it leads as God moves us in this direction of servanthood and am thankful for the opportunity to have a closing thought and attitude to this series. Sanctification is a word that I never really grasped as a child or even in my earlier years of adulthood. It does now.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!‘ – Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:40)

"Need money for rent and bills." PART 2

PART 2:

As an alleged believer and follower of Christ it’s hard to write (and read) statements like I those made in PART 1.

First of all, I have no money and never cash. Secondly, I have worked very hard for the very little that I do have. I went to school, learned, got jobs, moved on to better jobs, eat on as little money as possible, spend literally nothing every month in our budget column labeled “fun”, sell prized possessions online just to pay for diapers, have picked myself up after layoffs and take on side jobs whenever they are presented. I tend to get very frustrated when I think about the fact that I do and have done far more than the listed and I work all week and even some evenings because I too “Need money for rent and bills”.

If you’ll notice in my type, when I begin to think this way it’s all about I, my, me which is perfectly normal and perfectly wrong. Are any of the things that have come to pass in my life, good or bad, accomplished on my own power? Absolutely not. As we learn through the life of Job, God’s even allows tragedy for us to look inward, upward , and outward. We especially can not claim ownership of the good stuff. James reminds us (1:17) that every good and perfect gift is from our unchanging God. A gift, not a reward or earning for being “good” or “a hard worker”. A gift just because He cares. So when I look at my life and my pocessions, there is no way that I can justify not sharing with those in need. We are all in need.

Throughout the Gospels Christ continually responds to the needs of others. Often the needs of the social outcasts, the hurting, the beggars. He always responds with overwhelming compassion. Doing so, He doesn’t agree to only meet the temporal needs, He busts through it and exceeds the requests with total healing, both physical and spiritual. A perfect example of His excessive provisions is in Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding with a wine shortage. He not only met the need, He produces 180 gallons (900 bottles) of most likely the best wine EVER, in record time, and out of water. He dramatically meets our needs in excess… all the time. If we claim to live as a Christ follower, shouldn’t we do our part to meet the needs, whether big or small to those we encounter?

Even in understanding the proceeding truth we can still be hesitant to give to people claiming need. “What if they use the money I give them something malicious or counterproductive to their ultimate need?” It’s very easy to slip into questioning “What if they use it for drugs?” and rationalize my attitude with past stories I’ve heard. I’ve even known acquaintances that had friends that seriously made a great living off of begging, swindling susceptible givers. So maybe I shouldn’t give any of them anything, right? The problem with all of this speculation is I end up pre-judging these people. I can assume this and that but if I give (like God gives) to these humans in need, then they are responsible for what they do with it, not me. Just as it’s my responsibility to listen to the still small voice and give from what He has given me. That’s it. For me it’s about being obedient and sacrificial to my Master. Obedient and sacrificial. Not pre-judgmental or pretentious. Interestingly, we often beg God for even piddly things and often squander His provisions.

Wow. Processing these revelations have been so good for me. We all are in need of God’s provision and He directs others to bless my life, so maybe He’s directing me to help the needs of the corner paupers. So how do I apply this truth to my life, to this daily opportunity that I have driven by for months now without doing anything at all?

…To be continued.

"Need money for rent and bills." PART 1

Recently I have seen quite a lot of beggars around our part of Tyler. There is a block that we travel though all the time to church, school, work, our grocery store and basically anywhere in South Tyler. Two men specifically are very dedicated to their efforts. On my way to pick up the girls after work I pass them both; holding battered and marker scribbled cardboard signs stating, “Need money for rent and bills.”

There are basically two ways to respond to this multiple-times-a-day scene. #1 Give them money or #2 Don’t. I usually respond with the latter option and when I process this it’s very easy for me to justify my decision.

First of all, I have no money and never cash. Secondly, I have worked very hard for the very little that I do have. I went to school, learned, got jobs, moved on to better jobs, eat on as little money as possible, spend literally nothing every month in our budget column labeled “fun”, sell prized possessions online just to pay for diapers, have picked myself up after layoffs and take on side jobs whenever they are presented. I tend to get very frustrated when I think about the fact that I do and have done far more than the listed and I work all week and even some evenings because I too “Need money for rent and bills”.

So what’s the difference? Am I wrong for feeling this way? I mean sure, I don’t know these guy’s circumstances. They may have just experienced their own tragedies. Broken, sad, desperate, lonely and possibly embarrassed beyond anything I have ever or may ever experience. But capable bodied men standing on the corner all day to collect money for rent and bills? Really? I have seen signs that say “Will work for food”, “Stranded and need a ride”, “Need money for gas”, “Hungry and need food”, etc. I even saw a sign in Austin once that said “Don’t need food, just want beer”. All of these in some way seem more compelling that the one’s that have me so baffled and inspire this string of posts.

*Please bare with me here. This is the beginning of a revelation of which is developing in me and I will deliver in future posts.