Who’s Behind That Bucket?

GGBlog

You’ve seen them, heard them and may potentially be one of them… a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. I’ve made a deal with myself this Christmas that every red bucket with a volunteer ringing, I will give whatever I have in my coin purse.

C’mon, don’t judge.

If you shopped as much as me, you would understand that this is frequent and generous – and if I am still empty from my last gift, I give a $1 or $5 – especially if there are kids ringing or they are subject to the harsh, cold winter elements.  Sure, I could tell you about the great and amazing things that the Salvation Army does with those donations, but you can read that online. What I want to do is to give you a perspective.

Who is that standing behind that bell, apron, bucket or Santa hat? For some reason I’m paying attention this year. I usually would drop money in, a few times a season, just to give to a good cause, but I keep thinking of 1997; 10 years ago. Back then, I worked for a staffing service. One of our laborers was injured on the job so under workman’s comp we had to give him some “light duty” work until he was cleared by his doctor to return to full duty. In just a few weeks, he was caught up on filing, cleaning, organizing and purging so being the season of bell ringers, we enlisted him to ring bells – paid! He didn’t want to, but if he refused, he was in essence refusing work ,and therefore, voluntarily terminating his employment. So reluctantly he set out daily for his eight hour work day of bell ringing. I really felt bad for the guy, I really did, but he was getting paid, and he was performing work, that was within his physical capability, so it was a win-win, right?

As a result of this, I am now much more sincere, appreciative and outspokenly thankful for those who elect to ring. I know most of bell ringers are not standing there out of obligation, but what if one is? Let alone eight hours of obligation? Could how we treat those people behind the pail be a ministry in and of itself? Maybe my poor laborer would have been more willing to set out for a day of being generous and want to serve in this capacity if people were kind and thankful. Unfortunately, that is not always true.

I have witnessed first-hand what it is like behind that little red kettle. Some people pretend you don’t exist. I always wondered, “How can you ignore that incessant ring?” I have even observed people literally going way out of their way to avoid the door that the bell ringers are in – using the Enter door as the Exit door as if to avoid that Grinch-like encounter. As believers, followers of Christ, let’s rally to thank everyone who is giving their time to serve. Why not? Shouldn’t we thank people for going above and beyond and for showing their support of such a great organization and worthy cause?

It’s so neat, now that I have decided to lean in and thank each volunteer for serving and expressing that gratitude by putting money into the pail, as almost to give a gratuity for their gesture, and showing genuine interest in the fact that a human being is bringing life to that lonely red pail. If any of them are there by force, maybe we can turn their hearts to feeling appreciated and cared for; not condemned, obligated or forced.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the responses that I have received from the bell ringers this year; it’s positive, refreshing and in a way, loving. It has given me a wonderful Christmas season attitude. I petition you to try it. See for yourself what a blessing it is to be nice, go above and beyond and express gratitude.

Tag! You’re it!

1 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

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An Extra Seat At The Table

GGBlog

I crack open my bible to the book of Matthew this morning and in reading chapter 21, I read about Jesus’ triumphal entry on a donkey. Prophecy is being fulfilled, he’s revealing himself as more than a prophet, he’s a King! It’s purely awesome. Being “just” Thanksgiving today this story hits me – Where is Jesus today?  Christmas is flashy with the lights, trees, nativity scenes and stockings hung by the chimney with care. Easter gets the bunny and eggs and pastel decor and the remembrance of the cross and crown of thorns, but thanksgiving is nothing religious per se; it’s just a day of food and family and a lot of it. Granted, we do – and should – pause and give thanks by counting our blessings. I, for one, actually do an mental inventory of all that I am thankful for, but where is Jesus?

Of course he’s here. He’s always here, but do we make a place for him at the table? Do we invite him to fellowship with us and make this day Jesus centered?  We should! Yes I am thankful for a roof over my head, good health, a closet full of clothes, running water, beautiful children and adorable dogs, but all of this pails in comparison to what Jesus did on the cross for you and me. My sins have been abolished, I am given the assurance that I will spend eternity in heaven with him AND above all, He died for me.  My sin caused separation from a perfect and Holy God, He took it all onto himself and died. I’m so undeserving and today of all days I cannot take that for granted.

So I pledge, as I sit at the table today, I will pull up an extra chair to honor Him and to make Him a part of my Thanksgiving day. Today is an important and significant day to say thank you to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
    flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
    because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
    that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
    and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
    by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
    made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Day Perspective

Thanks

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 27

What is better?

  • When someone does something for you out of obligation or does something for you out of generosity?
  • When someone does something because you tell them to or because they want to?
  • When someone does the bare minimum or goes above and beyond?
  • When someone does something and brags about it or something that has been done and is a mystery as to how it happened?
  • When someone gives you something because you asked for it or someone who gives you something because they want you to have it?

I think you will make the same choices as I would – they seem obvious. As I was reading the 27th Chapter of Leviticus it seemed as though this chapter was out of place. Then I realized that in all of the preceding chapters of this book, God had mandated laws, while in chapter 27 the laws given are voluntary – It’s like an addendum that God is saying, “Not because you have to, but if you want to.”

It’s Thanksgiving morning and I am reflecting on all of the blessings that I have in my life. Then I take all of my blessings and correlate what God is trying to teach me in Chapter 27. Here is my conclusion…

We aren’t bound by those same laws because we live Leviticus Chapter 27 kind of lives.

  • God gave us His son to die on the cross for our sin; not because we we told him too, but Jesus is God’s gift to us.
  • We do not nor should we live our lives out of obligation, but because we love Him.
  • We live by the law, not because He commands us to, but because we want to honor Him for what He has done for us.
  • We can go through the motions of living a Christian life or we can live humbly, as if we don’t deserve what Jesus did for us on the cross.
  • We can surrender our lives as an act of worship and live each day in gratitude and thanksgiving or we can work hard at living a perfect life, only to fall short and grow defeated.

On this Thanksgiving day, as you are taking an inventory of all of your blessings, please don’t neglect to recognize that loving God and how we love God is voluntarily. He doesn’t command it – it’s optional, just like the laws in chapter 27 are optional. We do it because we want to, choose to, and desire to.

May God bless you and your family abundantly on this day of Thanksgiving.