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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More “You” and Less “Me”

Humility

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 12

A short chapter that is packed with teaching, but my favorite is found in verse 3 “(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)”  Not only are the words themselves saying something, but the fact that they are in parentheses gives it extra attention and emphasis.

So we’re kicking off the new week with humility. I think that is an excellent way to start. As we approach our work, families and trials that we face (and any number of them that could be), I think it is a great place to enter the day and week.

My family has a Christmas tradition. Every December we read a chapter a day in the book of Luke. There are 24 days until Christmas and 24 chapters of Luke. I love this yearly reminder of the story of Jesus – his birth, life, and resurrection. It truly brings the meaning of Christmas to the forefront of the chaotic season. Sure, this is a random tangent, but I do have a point. My point is that we just read Luke chapter 14 and the majority of the chapter is about humility – taking the lowest seat at the banquet table, the cost of being a disciple and verse 11 says it best, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

So how can we be humble today. To me, humility means to esteem others not yourself. To make everyone around you feel significant, valuable, appreciated and accepted. Using the word “I” less and “You” more. Serving others and seeking ways to meet their needs rather than your own and giving credit, not taking credit.

The bible has a lot to say about humility and God clearly loves humility, especially in Moses as taught in Numbers chapter 12. I think the fact that Moses was recognized for it is for us to know that it is a character trait that God wants and we need to be. Let’s proceed confidently into the day with humility.

Sex God Detests

Love Hate

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 19

Now I have your attention right? Sex sells – will it increase readership of my blog?

Well that is certainly not my motive. I have blogging on this site since early July 2013 and it just so happens that my scripture today is getting my Monday off to a eye-opening start.

God detests is a pretty strong, straight forward, uncompromising word and there are several instances that He uses that word through scripture. The word itself means to feel abhorrence of; hate; dislike intensely. That’s as direct as I think God gets about certain sexual acts. Leviticus 19 spells it out clearly and as I was reading I was not in disagreement with Him. Part of me thinks He doesn’t even need to spell it out in such detail, it seems pretty obvious. Then again, if he wants to get His point across, I guess it makes perfect sense that God doesn’t want to leave any margin for misinterpretation. Do you agree? If you do, then I will complete this post with that assumption.

I get all the don’t have sex with brothers, sisters, father’s, mother’s, aunts, uncles, etc., but in light of today’s controversy – of the 30 verses in Leviticus 19 – there is only one time that God uses the word, “detestable” and that is verse 22 ” ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

I have friends who are homosexual. I can say with all of my heart I love these people. They are the funniest, friendliest, heartfelt people, but their lifestyle is not of God’s design. I see this no differently than I would see adultery, polygamy, or any other lifestyle that exists outside of God’s will. The thing is that our government isn’t being petitioned to legalize adultery, polygamy, incest, or the like.

So I’m not going to continue on with a sermon and my intention isn’t to stir up a debate, but I will say this… God is very clear on how He wants us to conduct ourselves sexually and this chapter sums it up pretty well. With a burden on my heart I pray that all people would seek to understand why God feels so strongly about this lifestyle and honor Him.

I also say that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to love people. We are all sinners in God’s eyes, one sin isn’t different from another and since we are not perfect (Romans 3:23), we have no right to judge the way others live. However, God sent His Son, Jesus, to seek and to save those who are lost. Let your lives model the goodness of who God is and love others as yourself – inspiring others to rebuke this detestable sin.