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Yes, Mike, I'm all for your suggested type of gift giving! Or vice versa - how about asking for those gifts when people ask if there's anything they can get us for our birthday/ Christmas?

Oxfam have a similar gift giving scheme. (See www.oxfamunwrapped.com.) Last year someone in our office organised that instead of spending money on Christmas cards for each other, we'd donate our £2 to Oxfam, and we ended up being able to buy a few goats and a cow and some chickens. I thought it was a great idea.

This year I think I might order alternative gifts to help "fight Bible poverty", eg the Bible in audio, on a Megavoice player for a blind person, or Bible story books for Sunday School children in Russia. I have a catalogue from Bible Society, www.bibleresources.org.uk There are some good ideas, if you want an alternative to giving a goat! (UK)

Strange image in Lamentations 4:3

"...my people have become heartless
like ostriches in the desert." (TNIV)

I wonder what it meant to the writer.

I guess ostriches in the desert become mean, heartless, (maybe dangerous) creatures through lack of food and water.

Hi. I am brand new here. This was my first time reading the blog. I just wanted to respond to your question about our favorite charitable organizations. I worked with Convoy of Hope for the huricane Katrina relief...and they were really great...I have also had some experience with World Vision...as our local Christian radio station works a lot with them.

PSALM 103 (English Standard Version)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

He initiates and we respond. God loves to make the first move. Scripture says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” Only God can love God. It takes God to love God. Only God can love God. What does He do?

He sends out His Love to us. His Love comes to us, it changes something inside of us, and we end up giving back to God the very thing He gave us—Love! We love Him because He first loved us!

Whatever God wants from you, He intends to give you! So all of the commands of God are actually the desires of God.

What God wants from you, He intends to give you first!

So when He asks you to give Him the preeminence in your heart, what place do you have in His heart?


God loves you as if you were the only person in the world. It is that personal. He loves you like you are the only person in the world. That is how great He is.


Thankful that God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love!

Billy graham has suggested that some two thirds of Christians will not make it to heaven. The famous story of a man on his roof as the flood waters rose who prayed to God for salvation while ignoring the people God sent to save him also reminds us that prayer alone will not likely provide salvation or solutions to our problems. Alas, a Christian that prays is often worse than an Atheist that doesn’t as prayer is often only a tool that is itself worshiped (as Gideon did in Judges 8:27b or just as the inerrancy doctrine worships the Bible over God). There are many things one can do that are in effect doing less than nothing. An important real-life example is how political scientists have long concluded the greatest reason why there is such great hunger and violence in Africa is exactly the support efforts by Christian relief funds (movies like Lord of War like to suggest the reason is guns even though there is eight times more guns in America than all of Africa) that are trying to help (an effort so great as to equal 10% of the continent’s GNP) – good intentions are NEVER enough! When food shipments stop and doctors fighting disease go home even more children die as it is just like removing morphine injections from the body of an addict. African governments are generally less than three decades old and they are far more violent and poorly organized today specifically due to the addiction we have caused by giving fish rather than teaching them to fish. Most third-world groups respond to offers of help with, “Please, don’t send money!”

Nouwen has said (in a 1993 book Mike said was one of the most important in his life and so asked us what we thought of it, but we were all too busy being relevant to respond), “For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required” -- that we must remember that it is more important to love Jesus than to be relevant. Robertson Davies adds that there is nothing more pitiable, nothing more pathetic, and nothing more irrelevant, than a church that tries to be relevant. We regularly read books and attend conferences that are supposed to help us and our churches become relevant, do something / anything remarkable, and lead boldly. Christ’s first temptation, however, was to be relevant: “turn stones into bread;” the second was to be spectacular: “throw yourself from the pinnacle of the temple and allow the angels to catch you in their arms;” and, the third was of power: “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.” Kevin Miller also reminds us to “pause and reflect on the fact that Jesus regularly refused to do miracles on demand (John 6:26-31), that he asked many of the people who did receive his miracles not to talk about them (Mark 5:41-43), that he said some things almost certain to drive people away (John 6:53, 60, 61). And ultimately he was led away, like a lamb to the butcher.” For a society that normally measures success in terms of individual effectiveness, Nouwen offers a counter suggestion of “communal and mutual experience.” (p.40) He reflects on the success of Jesus’ disciples who were sent out in twos (like the paired, mature, autonomous workers of the IT’s Extreme Programming System Development Life Cycle Model) to proclaim the good news as all Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, in their own body as well as the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit. (p.48)

Alas, if Rapture had only occurred thirty years ago, Africa would be a much better place today as Christians only curse our world (as they tithe less and divorce more than even atheists). We would likely do better focusing on the largest English speaking missionary field – America. Whatever, we need to wait on God’s answer and if we don’t hear Him speak… wait some more. François Fenelon said, “How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak” and Amy Carmichael added, “If you have never been hurt by a word from God, it is probably that you have never heard God speak.” Mark 16:17-18 states: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Paul did all these things… can you?

I didn't mind your tangent on the World Vision/Chistmas gifts. I think we all need to reminded once and while to GIVE! Thanks for all that you do.

A great supporter of World Vision is AIDtoCHILDREN.com.

AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a dual-purpose site for building an English
vocabulary and raising money for under privileged children in the most
impoverished places around the world.

Check it out at http://www.aidtochildren.com

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