Volunteering in Your Community

It is good. It is necessary for a healthy community. Someone needs to do it.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction… (James 1:27)

Some have volunteer opportunities everywhere they turn. Others have limited circles and no known connections. If you want to help others, how do you make it happen?

Know your calling. Why do you want to do anything? What, in a broad sense, are you called to do? Remind yourself of your motivation so that you can serve from the heart and not just off the checklist.

…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Know your availability. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you aren’t free 20 hours a week, don’t sign up to work 3 days a week at the neighborhood thrift store. Before you make any decisions about what you will do to offer a cup of cold water to anyone, know when and how much time you can offer.

Know your gifts. What are you good at? If you love nothing more than serving dinner to the entire block, a soup kitchen is probably a good fit. If you are an extrovert and communicate well, leverage those people skills on a one-to-one basis or as a group leader or teacher. If you prefer limited small talk and being outside, check into a list of houses needing yard work or repairs from a local church or agency. Habitat for Humanity is a lot of fun as a group project and serves great needs. I am by no stretch of the imagination a contractor, but I have enjoyed several years of builds with that program.

Know your possibilities. Start asking. Talk to friends. Let people know you are exploring options. Get ideas. Research local agencies. Call places and ask questions about need. Brainstorm. Pull together a list or pool of what might work. Now you have what you need to make a choice.

Enjoy! Put your heart into it and be blessed.

Meat or Manna?

Count your blessings. It’s all over — on coffee mugs, pillows, bumper stickers. It comes up often around Thanksgiving. We know we need to do it more often, even if it seems cliche.

We need to count our blessings because we have so many, enough that any count we do can only be a start. God provides all His children need for life and godliness. Most of us have been blessed with luxuries far beyond that as well.

In one convicting sermon I remember, we were challenged by the preacher to think about how often we “scream for meat while manna falls softly on your shoulders”, just like the Israelites. Ouch.

In this holiday season, the manna is falling. Every day. Daily bread. We have what we need in delicious plenty.

At the same time, in this materialistic world, the siren call of the meat is everywhere. Our wants are being highlighted and tickled. What do you want for Christmas? Bright shiny things on display in every store. Sales are everywhere. I want things I don’t have. I want it. I need it.

So where is your focus? Let’s live today in gratitude for God’s gracious provision.