Uninhibited Volunteering

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My girls have recently become involved with 4-H, which means, I have recently become involved with 4-H!  LOL.

It’s ok, I enjoy the company of other people, and gravitate toward others, rather than always being alone.

The girls volunteered for offices within the club, and I am now the proud parent of a Reporter and Health & Safety Officer for our local 4-H club.  I’m really proud of them, though they almost bit off more than they (or I!) could chew.

So far, the girls have (combined) volunteered for:  offices in the club, livestock showing, photography, forestry, community service of course, being on the Christmas Committee, and a few other things.  Now, I don’t mind all that, as long as they remain devoted to whatever endeavors they choose.  For instance, forestry will be very challenging for my oldest, only 10, but has the potential to develop into something wonderful.  I’m excited about the possibilities they have available.

Tonight,my 10-year-old volunteered to be the leader of the Christmas Committee, which will be in charge of delegating for the club party in November.  She is the 2nd youngest, next to my younger daughter only, yet will be heading up this committee.  This is a great leadership learning opportunity for her, and will give her another chance to serve others.

So, it all got me to wondering.  (And we all know what happens when I start wondering!)

How often do we volunteer OUR time as adults?  Do we jump in and offer to provide a service for someone less fortunate, or for a friend who simply can’t do it?

I’m not hounding, and I’m not advocating that you become someone who cannot say, “No.”  But, as I look at my own life, I wonder how much I put my own selfishness in the place of serving someone.  God commanded that we work 6 days and rest for only 1.  Yet, I feel cheated if I have to “work” on the weekends.

I’m a person who doesn’t like to feel that everything is scheduled….our homeschool is very much a “go-with-the-flow,” and reflects our lifestyle in a good way.  But, God has been showing me that some structure is not bad.  It doesn’t mean I have to schedule everything, but simply have a basic guide.  And, I’m learning something else….

When I have that basic guide, I can schedule in some volunteer service.

If I can know that my own personal work will be accomplished by a certain time, then I know I can offer my time to another.  And, if my own work is done, it is selfish of me not to offer my time.

My goal over the coming months is to schedule some volunteer work as a family, and perhaps even individually.  John has been wanting to serve dinners on Thanksgiving for years.  Perhaps this is the year.  I’ve always said, “But, we don’t know where to go?”  Well, isn’t that taking the easy way out?

I want my children to know that there are others who are much less fortunate than we are.  That even though we are not rich, and may never be, that serving others through volunteering is a way to serve the Lord God Almighty, and to show the love of Jesus Christ His Son to those who may not yet know Him.

Here’s hoping you’ll volunteer, too.

Happy serving!

Toni

Sharpen Your Sword (week of 11/30/08)

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Ok, let me be perfectly honest here. 

I was going to write about James 1:13-14 today.  In fact, I had it written and was just adding a few supplemental verses at the end. 

But, I came across something that stumped me, and realized I may not have it exactly right, yet.  So, I’m going to pass over that one for now and go on to one of my favorite verses.

John 8:32   And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

Are you in bondage?  Are you a slave to someone or something?  Work, drugs, sex, alcohol, money, anything?  Are you a slave to sin?  Are you a slave to religion?

Did you know that you have a Redeemer who has come “to set the captives free?”  It’s true!  And, it’s amazing!

Ask anyone who has been rescued from a life or death situation, and they will tell you of the immense relief they felt.  No, relief is too light a word.  Honestly, I’m not sure how to describe that feeling.  And, yes, I have been on the receiving end of such a rescue. 

About 4-1/2 years ago I was in a position where I thought I was “hooked up.”  I mean, I believed in Jesus…that’s all it took right?

Wrong.

**NOTE:  Reading further is probably going to anger some.  That is not my intention.  My intention is to reveal the Truth of Christ’s love for the church through the example of some of my own experiences.

I thought that as long as I didn’t commit the “Big 3” sins, I was ok – you know, murder, theft, and adultery.  I was told that going to church and confessing to a priest was necessary for forgiveness.  I was encouraged to pray to saints and to the virgin Mary.  (No, I am not knocking Catholics here….but, this was my experience and this is what I learned from it.)  And, there was more, but I won’t get into the rest.

I did go into that cubicle and confess to the priest.  He told me to go have a good weekend.  WHAaa???  Needless to say, I was confused.  Wasn’t there more to it than that?  Didn’t I need to say some Hail Marys, or something? 

Well, God is so gracious.  He sent me someone I had never met (and still haven’t met in person!  Hint hint!) to point out to me the error of my ways.  I learned that I was right to question the need to confess to a priest once a year, or, at all.  In fact, I learned the truth that the only One I needed to confess to – the only One in fact, who could absolve me of my sin anyway – was Jesus!  I learned I was right to question praying to the dead – ie, saints, Mary, etc.  

It was not until this revelation that I began my life anew as a true, repentant believer in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  And, the truth of being set free creates a euphoria that cannot be explained and never fades.  I was saved….and my chains were gone.  The ransom – PAID.

Slavery comes in many forms, and I was very close to accepting the chains offered to me that would have placed me in bondage (and kept me in bondage to previous unconfessed {to God} sin).  I am so grateful to God that He chose to intervene.  My rescue from God came via email!  At least the first installment.  It’s kind of like I was hanging from the edge of a rocky cliff, and was held onto long enough (the email) to allow someone to tie a rope (the Bible) around my waist.  The rope pulled me to safety, and prevented me from getting close to the edge again.  

Now, I am not saying that the Catholic church is a rocky cliff to jump (or be pushed) off.  But my experience was that the legalities kept me from experiencing true Christianity.  Religion, yes.  Christianity, no.  There is a difference.  Religion = legalities/rules/regulations = BONDAGE.  Christianity = FREEDOM IN CHRIST.

And it was the Word – the TRUTH of God that set me free. 

Jesus came to set the captives free, and wants nothing more than to draw you to Him, and rescue you from the edge of whatever cliff you are desperately hanging onto today.  Grab hold of His hand, and let Him pull you to safety.  Let Him pull you close and keep you from the edge.  He wants to rescue you – after all, you are His creation – His child. 

Other than the sin we are in bondage to before we are born again as believers, there are various ways Satan chooses to keep us in chains:

Drugs

Alcohol

Sex/pornography/homosexuality (there are TONS of things in this category…but I’m sure you understand)

Money – wealth/debt – Material things

Work

Marriage/Children/Family (If we place these relationships ABOVE our relationship with Jesus in our priority, then we are, indeed, in bondage to them.)

Success/fame/personal glory

Gluttony

Vanity

Lies/deceit

Hate/anger

Religious legalities

Abuse – emotional/physical/sexual

Impure thoughts

And the list goes on….

I encourage you to find a fellow believer if you are in bondage today – ask them to pray with you that your chains will be lifted and that you will be freed by the Truth that is Jesus.  Even now, before you accept that new-found freedom, read your Bible everyday.  There is so much truth in it, that you can’t help to remain free with God’s grace!

May all God’s children experience true Christian freedom.

Psalm 51:10,

Toni