Do we really need to give to anyone who asks?

thirsty thursHappy 4th of July everyone!

Today for Thirsty Thursday I am drinking an Orange Spice Iced Coffee with Soy from Starbucks. I received a Starbucks gift card, and I am putting it to good use. Although… when I ordered this drink, the woman apparently did not know they served anything “orange spice”, so I am guessing this drink is not as popular as it should be. So I am doing Starbucks a favor now and letting all of you know that it is a good investment. Go order yourself one today!

Now that you have your fancy drink, let’s get on with the rest of our post…

Last week my church conducted something called “Compassion Sunday”. This is a day when our church members go out into our surrounding community of Roseland on the far South Side of Chicago. Some pray with people, some give food, some provide a service, others visit shut in members or sick members, and some hold services in the local shelters or hospitals.

This particular time, I was in charge of a clothing drive. The process involved collecting clothing donations from the church, sorting them, organizing them into nicely folded piles, and then spreading the word!

The spreading the word was probably the most fun. On the Saturday before the Compassion Sunday Clothing Give-Away, I snagged a neighbor girl along with 40 fliers, and we hit up Michigan Avenue (between 107th and 115th  street, not the Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop).

During our jaunt down the block, the two of us just wandered, looking into the famous Roseland Doughnut Shop, watching with several others as men made giant globs of apple fritter. We stopped to talk with a family of 5 who were parked on the side street and eating melting popsicles with open van doors. We tossed out granola bars to men sitting on the side of the street, claiming that they had the “munchies”, and complimented a girl on her nice dress and intricate nose ring.

We stopped to hand one man a flier, and asked if he wanted a granola bar. He said yes, reached in the bag and pulled out two handfuls. My face must have shown surprise, or perhaps even disapproval, because he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Can I have a few? I’ve got some kids down the block…” I nodded my head and smiled.

“Of course. Take as many as you need.”

My neighbor squinted her eyes; she has been trained (and trained well in my opinion) to be distrusting and wary, especially of men on the street. “You know he was prolly lyin’ right Claire?”

“Oh I don’t think it really matters.” I say, but really it’s not me whose speaking, because…well, me? Well, I’m thinking the same thing in my own head. It was the voice of the Holy Spirit inside of me who spoke, and I was reminded of Jesus.

To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:29-31

Jesus’s instructions are clear. We must give to who ever asks. Even if that man had taken all of our granola bars, I know Jesus would instruct us not to ask for them back, just as this passage teaches.

I was reminded of this yet again during Compassion Sunday. A woman’s hungry eyes were darting all over the clothing racks and tables of purses, belts and shoes. I handed her plastic bag after plastic bag, and she took as much as she could carry.

My natural, judgmental instinct would be to glare at her, ask her if she really needed all of these clothes, and request she think of others rather than herself and to please save some items for the rest of the people.

But Jesus is pretty clear. This woman was asking for more.

It was not my place to judge whether she needed more; it was my job to give her more, and to not even withhold the clothing off my own back from her (if she for some reason wanted to put my shirt in her bag too)!

It is the same with the Gospel. We are to share it– to give it to others. What they do with it after we give it to them is on their own conscious, not ours. In the same way, our job is to simply give to those who ask, never denying anyone. After we give, it’s up to them to decide how they choose to use the gifts. 

Jesus is the joyful giver. He is the Spirit of giving, and He gave his life for us.

How are we reflecting His precious gifts to us by giving to others who ask? How are we using our own gifts from God, including the gift of giving?

The First Thirsty Thursday

thirsty thursAs this is my first post for Thirsty Thursdays, I thought I’d explore an appropriate verse as well as explain what Thirsty Thursdays’ posts will generally be about.

If you’re in college, you might know “Thirsty Thursdays” to be completely different than what might be found on a Christian blogger’s posts. According to Urban Dictionary, Thirsty Thursday refers to “a term normally found on college campuses, the title becoming popular when many students did not have early morning classes on Fridays, allowing them to drink and party on Thursday night”.

Well, this Thirsty Thursday is quite different for several reasons:

Number one, I’m no longer a college student, but I do, in fact, have early morning classes on Friday (I’m a High School teacher), so late night partying is not really something I could do even if I wanted to.

Number two, alcohol and raging parties is just kind of not my thing anymore. And if it still were, would I be blogging about it and glorifying it on a blog that’s suppose to be glorifying my Lord and Savior? Um, no.

So usually, what I will do for Thirsty Thursdays, is I’ll be drinking something. Usually coffee or tea, but sometimes I guess I’ll be drinking Naked juice or Diet Pepsi or a glass of red wine (because drinking alcohol is not a sin, but being drunk is)…. or water. Water is always good. Anyway, I’ll be drinking something and I’ll probably tell you about it (because I know you care!). Then I’ll blog about Jesus.

Why about Jesus, you ask?

Well, number one, because He’s awesome, and He totally deserves a weekly blog post. And so much more.

Number two, because just like I need water to satisfy my thirst and keep me alive, I need Jesus to satisfy my thirst and to give me life.

In fact, this leads me to my verse of the Thirsty Thursday:

… Living Water, that is.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

That first part: it’s it so true? I swear, there are days (usually hot summer days) when I cannot seem to drink enough water. I’m always thirsty, always wanting more.

Water is an earthly substance. Indeed, planet Earth is iconic because of it’s water sources. It means that life can exist.

Our bodies are made of 60% water. We need it.

But, like all earthly things, we can never be fully satisfied with it. Just because we have water to drink, or water near us, or water in our bodies, it doesn’t mean that we’re truly alive.

Here’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus is alive. And because he is alive, we can be alive too!

The Living Water is different than regular water….. but how?

The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was “living” (moving or running) water. During the times of Jesus, water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still, dirty water one might find in a pond or well; it was cleaner, clearer, fresher, better. The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the always-moving Holy Spirit. The Spirit part of the trinity is the Living Water, the one who moves us to action and inspires the divine works in our lives. This “water”life makes us a new creation in Jesus Christ.

The Living Water of the Holy Spirit satisfies our deepest desires, thirsts, and longings for God. It is better than any earthly remedy. Like water, we need to drink in the Spirit everyday, multiple times a day, or we will become dehydrated, lethargic, and sick.

Now that you know what Thirsty Thursdays are all about, I will leave you with one deep theological question:

If earthly water makes up 60% of our body, what percentage of our body should consist of the Living Water that Jesus speaks of?

Oh, and also, I’m drinking home made iced coffee from our french press. No big deal.