Warning: In this post, I intend to call a spade, a spade. Which means there will be strong words that don’t normally appear on this blog. My use of these words won’t be excessive, but if you find such language offensive, it might be best to skip this piece.
There have been several reports in the news lately about states that are seeking to place further restrictions on their food stamp programs (called SNAP). The argument is that welfare recipients shouldn’t be able to buy certain items or shop in certain stores if they’re receiving government funds. Aside from the fact that these new limitations will only serve to further deprive and humiliate the poor, SNAP fraud is already the lowest of any government program, at less than 4 percent. The little bit of fraud that is committed usually occurs on the retailers’ side. Continue reading
As you may recall from my last post, I mentioned the verse in Malachi that talks about God’s desire for food in His house. In modern times, many pastors have portrayed “food” in a figurative sense, meaning spiritual sustenance on the level of a sermon or discipleship. When we take a closer look at the scriptures, however, a more literal application comes to light:
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the…foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied…(Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
We also see Jesus himself feeding people. In Matthew 14, he feeds a crowd of over 5,000 men (not counting their wives and children) with only five loaves of bread and two fish. In Matthew 15, he feeds 4,000 with seven loaves and a few other fish. Jesus obviously cared about people’s physical nourishment. Still does.
Then we read in John 21 about his command to Simon Peter: “Feed my sheep.” Again, this verse has been interpreted to mean that Jesus was calling Peter to preach the gospel. To be clear, I think this is a reasonable interpretation. After all, Jesus called himself the “bread of life,” and said that whoever “eats this bread” will live eternally. But I think ministers have unfortunately been too quick to separate the physical aspect from this spiritual command. Continue reading
Lord, I promise–next time!
Several years ago, I was sitting in church listening to my pastor ask the congregation if there were any needs the church could pray for. A woman stood up and confessed that her husband had recently lost his job and they were struggling to pay their mortgage that month. The pastor asked those sitting around her to stand and pray that God would provide the employment and funds needed for this family to get back on their feet. As two men rose from their seats to lay hands on her, I noticed something interesting in their back pockets. Anyone care to guess what it was?
Fat wallets. The provision for this woman’s need was less than arm’s length away. Continue reading
Every month, my church does a homeless ministry called “Love in Action.” We take a hot, home-cooked meal to an abandoned farmer’s market in the poor section of our city and serve it to whomever comes. Sometimes, we serve as few as a dozen; other times, as many as 100. I decided to get involved with this ministry several months ago, and in that time I’ve learned some interesting things about homeless people: Continue reading
As the insanity of Black Friday shopping winds down, I thought I’d post some thoughts on giving. I imagine many people would say they give often. Christmas. Birthdays. Baby Showers. It seems opportunities and obligations to give crop up every few weeks.
But giving–real giving–is more than just buying a department store item and wrapping it up in a big, pretty bow for a friend. Giving is both an attitude and an act. If you have one without the other, it’s not really giving.
Let me explain: Real giving has a sacrificial aspect. It’s supposed to touch the recipient in a meaningful way and provide him or her with something of value. Needless to say, some people live their entire lives without ever engaging in true giving. Continue reading