Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

What was once a relatively novel idea seems to have caught on this Christmas.

People are giving goats as Christmas presents!

The Samaritan's Purse has a suggested gifts catalogue that includes dairy animals, livestock, chickens and more. World Vision's Internet homepage has Alpacas and Pigs as suggested gifts.

I'm not quite sure when this type of "alternative" Christmas gift giving started, perhaps someone will inform me but I just think it's a grand idea.

For years, many families, extended communities and employers have tried to take the opportunity of gift-giving and Christmas to really bless those in need. I remember years ago at my first job, someone suggested that we change our office Christmas gift exchange to something that would be more beneficial to families in inner-city Detroit. Over the years, I've witnessed many families that very intentionally take their children out shopping for gifts and toys for others in order to encourage a spirit of giving in their children as well as help others.

The work that many organizations (I mentioned only two that are well known and also ECFA members, but there are hundreds that are doing similar work) are doing in places like Africa, the Middle East and around the world, is truly life changing. These nonprofits have found that providing animals to rural people so they have essential products like milk and eggs – not only helps improve nutrition, but the animals become an economic engine as the dairy products are also sold to provide a primary source of the family’s income.

The better charities also know that it takes a larger investment to really provide assistance. For example, it may cost only $30to buy and vaccinate one animal. However more funds are needed to cover the cost of teaching a farmer how to raise healthy and productive animals.

I've seen a few articles and posts that have been against giving animals to families in Africa. One blogger suggested buying stock in any multi-national company as they do much to improve the lifestyles of the people as they provide economic opportunities. Also, there were a number of negative articles coming from Great Britain. Seems like the charities in England are stuck in some eco-catch22 as livestock consume scarce resources including water and animals foraging for edible vegetable material could even be a further cause of global warming.

Seems like some would like to take all of the joy out of giving.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Crowns Do Last Forever

The International Olympic Committee probably needs to take a clue from the NFL. When the NFL adapted the "Instant Replay" in 1999 to certain referee calls, they made certain that there were limits to the method and the timing of the reversals.

For example, the referee has only 60 seconds to review the actual play and determine if there is "indisputable visual evidence" to reverse a call. The game by the way is STOPPED while that call is being reviewed so that things don't get all out of whack.

The IOC in stripping Marion Jones of her five Olympic medals has tried to make a stand for integrity and against athletes doping. I'm certainly not a fan of cheating nor steroids so I'm not at all displeased with the ultimate reversal.

At the same time, both Marion Jones and the IOC have caused all kinds of problems for both the Olympic fans and athletes. For example, what about the other members of Jones' relay team? Did they all now lose their medals? What about those that finished 2nd or 3rd? Do they move up? What about the commercial endorsements that Marion Jones made as a result of her notoriety? Does Niki get its money back? How about the people that bought Niki shoes? Do they get a partial refund?

What is really interesting to me is how accurate the Apostle Paul was when he wrote in 2 Timothy 2:5 "If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules". Human Growth Hormones and anabolic steroids were unknown to Paul at the time but the idea of athletes competing for a crown and the type of effort and commitment that was required was not unknown. That is exactly why he used the analogy of an athlete a number of times in his writings.

Paul also said that "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; be we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Cor. 9:25)

Paul knew what Marion Jones only recently found out.....that these crowns, gold medals and other rewards don't last. The only things that really last are rewards that we have sent on before us into the heavens. Jesus said that when we see someone hungry and give them something to eat, when we know that someone is thirsty and we give something to drink, when we entertain the stranger, provide clothing to those that are naked and look after the sick and those in prison, we store up true rewards. These heavenly rewards are true crowns that can't be taken away from us by the IOC or anyone.

God is able to judge the intentions of our hearts and His judgment doesn't get reversed.

WHY A NON-DENOMINATIONAL EVANGELICAL CHURCH?

Our small Christian non-profit ministry recently requested and received approval from the IRS to be re-classified as a ‘church’.      ...