Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


In keeping with my new-found sense of adventure, I went out on my first kayaking trip of the summer. My first thought was, "Why am I so horrible at this?"  I've only been in a kayak a few times before, but I didn't remember ever having such a terrible time going straight. I'm pretty sure I traveled twice as far as anyone else did as I zigzagged around the lake. I tried to keep my focus on a fixed point, but despite my best intentions my kayak kept pointing me this way and that; basically anywhere except where I wanted to go.



About halfway through our trip my friend Mary said, "Maybe you have the broken kayak."

You think?

The kayak looked fine to me so she went on to explain that one of the rudders was missing. Without that stabilizing force the kayak moved erratically despite my best efforts.  

Do you ever find you're working twice as hard as anyone else just to keep up?  Are you wondering why your focus seems to be everywhere except where you want it to be? Could it be you're operating without your stabilizing force, Jesus?

"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths." ~ Proverbs 4:11

Without engaging with God through worship, prayer and His Word, our lives become unstable. We may think we're too busy to take time for God, but the truth is that we're too busy not to. I used to think that I always had to have something to show for my time, but I've come to realize that while my time spent with God may not show, the lack of it certainly will! It's impossible to keep our focus in the right place without His assistance. 

Lord I thank you that you are always with me and willing to direct me in straight paths.  Please help me keep my focus on you so I do not go astray.


Lisa



I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Inspire Me Please, Feathered Nest Friday, What Have You Redone, Home Sweet HomeThrifty Things Friday, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments

Our society today is all about being "politically correct."  Don't call me short, I prefer "vertically challenged;" it's not my fault when I get lost, I'm just "directionally impaired."  Those things can be corrected easily enough with a step stool and a GPS, but it seems as though today politically correct labels are used to avoid taking personal responsibility or calling sin a sin.  (Could it be I get lost because I'm not good at paying attention when someone is giving me directions?)

Obesity is becoming an epidemic and there are many able-bodied people content to sit back and allow others to provide for them, but when was the last time you heard someone mention the sins of gluttony or sloth?  Killing unborn children is not called murder but "a choice," and acting on homosexual desires is not called sodomy but an "alternative lifestyle." (And I have even been corrected on that; being questioned as to why homosexuality is called a "lifestyle" when everyone else just has a life.) 

Live and let live seems to be the motto of the day.  I do what I want and you do what you want.  I have my truth and you have yours.  It's all fine and dandy except for the fact that it flies in the face of everything our holy God says.  I have long believed that our country is headed for God's judgment if we don't turn to Him and repent, which begins with recognizing our disobedience and calling it what it truly is: sin.  The idea that our actions don't affect anyone but ourselves is a lie straight from satan.  Over and over Scripture records the entire nation of Israel punished for the sin of an individual such as with Achan and the battle against Ai (Joshua 7) or David counting his fighting men (2 Samuel 24). 


I was looking for a novel to read at the cottage last week, so I brought "The Harbinger" because it came highly recommended.  Little did I know this book is far more fact than fiction.  "The Harbinger," subtitled "The Ancient Mystery that holds the Secret of America's Future" is a fictional story wrapped around the prophecy God gave the nation of Israel through the prophet of Isaiah.  The prophecy warned Israel of coming judgment and records the nation's defiant response.  What's really eye-opening are the parallels between ancient Israel and modern-day America. Both nations were dedicated to God at their inception.  At both dedications it was said that as long as the nation followed God it would be blessed, but that blessing would be lifted if God ceased to be revered.

September 11, 2001 was the warning of our coming judgment; a glimpse of what it's like when the hedge of God's protection has been breached. Unfortunately America's response to the attack was eerily similar to that of the nation of Israel. Rather than turning back to God in humility, both nations were defiant. Author Jonathan Cahn artfully unfolds the events of 9/11 and the stock market crash of 2008 and seamlessly weaves them together with their ancient counterparts. It's eerie how even the little known details of these events line up with the ancient prophecy. This fascinating book is riveting and definitely a must-read for every American, especially Christians.

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance, defiance and ambivalence.  Open our eyes to your truth and give us a spirit of repentance, that this great nation would once again submit to you.

Lisa



I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Inspire Me Please, Feathered Nest Friday, What Have You Redone, Home Sweet HomeThrifty Things Friday, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

How are you at memorizing Scripture?  Unfortunately this wasn't something I did as a child.  It's too bad, because I hear it would've been much easier had I done it back then. Thankfully, it's never too late. Really! God says we should, and He always empowers us to do what He's called us to! 

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." ~ Colossians 3:16a


Now before you say that you can't memorize Scripture, let me tell you that if I can do it, anyone can.  Thirteen years ago, I had a closed-head injury that left me with little short term memory. (So if I don't remember your name the first twelve times you tell me, it's nothing personal.)  Sometimes I even forget things that I've known for a long time.  Like today, for example.  I went to the station to fill up my vehicle and forgot how to pump the gas.  Seriously!  I couldn't remember how to turn on the pump.  Then after it started working (I think they turned it on from inside the station) I realized I hadn't slid my card through, so I did that, which then immediately stopped the pump. Finally I went inside and was told I'd have to put the nozzle back and start over.  I replied that I had already done that, only to walk back outside and find the nozzle still in my vehicle.  All this to say, if I can memorize Scripture, so can you!

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." ~ Psalm 119:11

The first thing to remember, as with all of the things God commands us to do, is that we can't do this on our own, nor does God expect us to. The key is to always ask God to help you memorize His Word.  It's one of those prayers He loves to answer.  How you do it isn't important; the important thing is that you do it.  

"Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you will be careful to do everything in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful." ~ Joshua 1:8

God has enabled me to memorize a fair amount of Scripture through the years. My problem was that once I learned it, I had no idea of how to retain it.  I'm so excited to share with you the answer I found for this dilemma! 


All you need is some index cards, a box to keep them in and some index tabbed dividers (either 34 or 41)


The first thing you need to do is to label the dividers with the following:

Daily

Odd

Even

The days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) - I didn't have enough dividers so I skipped this step.

Numbers 1 through 31




Next, transfer the verse you'd like to memorize onto an index card.  This will go behind the "Daily" tab.  I find just writing the verse out helps me commit it to memory.  I like to place the verse wherever I happen to be working so that every so often I can read through it and begin to memorize it.  Learning the reference (book, chapter and verse) is the hardest part for me, so I write that on both sides of the card.  

Once you've learned the first verse, move that card behind the "Odd" tab and insert a new verse behind the "Daily" tab.  Once this second verse has been learned, move it behind the "Odd" tab, take the verse that was behind the "Odd" tab and move it behind the "Even" tab, then place another new verse behind the "Daily" tab. Continue this process of moving each of the verses back a space every time you have learned one and are ready to start with another.  

I was in the habit of writing the verses I was learning on to index cards, so I collected all my cards and began to go through them.  If I knew the verse well, I put it behind one of the numbered dividers.  If I knew it somewhat, I put it between the "Odd" or "Even" tab, and I chose one I didn't know well at all to put behind the "Daily" tab. All the other verses I didn't know I placed before the "Daily" tab, so as I learn a verse I can continue to just move them each back a space.  

Now you have a way to keep refreshing your memory as you learn verses by going where the tabs direct you.  For instance, if today is Tuesday, August 20 you will work on the "Daily" verse, the "Even" verse (since the date is an even number), the "Tuesday" verse (if you included the days of the week) and the verse behind the date (in this case, 20).

Note: I have the verse side of the cards facing forward while they are behind the first three dividers - "Daily," "Odd," and "Even."  For all the verses further behind that I have the reference side facing forward.  That helps me to connect the reference with the verse.  

I am amazed at how quickly I've been able to recapture those verses I thought I had forgotten once I began reviewing them on a regular basis. I've even been able to memorize verses that I've never learned before but were quite familiar without much difficulty. Hide God's Word in your heart, memorize Scripture and really listen to what God is saying, and I guarantee you will be blessed!  I can't tell you how many times God revealed something in His Word to me only after I had gone through the verse umpteen times.  

Don't know where to begin?  Why not start here with an alphabetical list of verses to memorize?  Just the fact they each start with a letter of the alphabet helped prompt me to recall which verses I had learned.

God, I thank you that through you all things are possible.  I thank you for your Word, that it not only speaks to us in a general sense, but by the power of your Holy Spirit you speak directly to each of us as individuals as well. Thank you for giving us the capability of memorizing your Word and for the abundant blessings that come along with it.

 Lisa

I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Inspire Me Please, Feathered Nest Friday, What Have You Redone, Home Sweet HomeThrifty Things Friday, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

I was backing out of the garage, minding my own business, when I heard a terrible sound.  You know, the one that can't possibly mean anything good.  I looked to my right and sure enough, there was the boys stroller, slightly mangled.  Ugh!



The stroller that started out just inside the garage was now just outside of it with one wheel bent at a very unnatural angle.  In a hurry to reach my friend's house before she had guests, I decided to continue over there and assess the damage to the stroller when I returned.  

Not. A. Good. Plan.

I was near the location of my closed-head injury, not a quarter of a mile from my house, when I started hearing another not-too-good sound.  I pulled into the nearest driveway and got out to take a look.  I thought it sounded like I was dragging a branch, something not unusual when you live where I do.  

No such luck.  

I made my way around the car when I came to the corner that caught on the stroller...

Great.

That thing I heard dragging was my wheel well.  It was caught under the tire, which was wearing a hole through it.  Uh oh...



I knew enough to immediately turn around and get back home, where I could further assess the damage.


Oh, this was so not good.  The quarter panel was now separated from the piece that goes all the way around the front.  The stroller was now the least of my worries; this was looking like a big deal.

I began to think back to try to figure out what happened.  (I had several long hours to think about it before I had a chance to mention it to my husband.) The stroller was always up against the wall and I always backed straight out...  

"Maybe I turned my wheel too soon," I thought. This is definitely a possibility (probability?) since there's still a small pile of gravel in the driveway (left over from our new fire pit) that I needed to avoid. Then just as quickly, I remembered what happened the day before.  My daughter came over with "Dude" and "Bubba" so we could take them for their first visit to Lake Michigan. 


As they were getting into my car, Mama mentioned that Dude had helped himself to the cereal puffs that I kept in the stroller for "emergencies."  (I've learned most "emergencies" one- and two-year-olds suffer from can be remedied with either a new diaper or cereal puffs.)

I am a horrible, horrible grandma, because the next thing I thought of was, "Dude did it!"  Really, what kind of grandma puts the blame on a defenseless two-year-old? While it's very likely he moved the stroller when he was getting the puffs, I was the one driving and I was the one old enough to know I should always be watching where I'm going.  



Does your mind do this too, always look for an out? 

Do you think, "This certainly can't be my fault, which means it must be someone else's,"  even if that someone else is a two-year-old?

An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. ~ Proverbs 14:5

Our society isn't big on taking responsibility or telling the truth, is it?  Everything is always someone else's fault. We may think we're fooling everyone when we're being dishonest; sometimes we're so convincing we fool ourselves.  But God is never fooled.

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. ~ Daniel 2:22


Truth always matters.  If you're not telling the whole truth then you're telling a lie, and satan is the father of all lies.
 
Where do you struggle with the truth?
  • in taking responsibility?
  • in filing your income taxes?
  • in your resume?
  • in how you spend your time?
  • in reporting your age/weight?
  • in giving your whereabouts?
  • in telling about that fish you caught?

God is the Truth and He wants us to tell the truth, every last bit of it.  While it was disappointing that the thought of blaming Dude for my mishap even entered my mind, I'm thankful I recognized it for what it was and didn't act on that impulse, even if no one would have known, because God always knows. 

Father, I thank you for the great patience you show to me.  I thank you that you never give up on me but continue to transform me into your image.  Purify my thoughts and intentions, so that in times of distress my first response will be pleasing to you.  

Lisa



I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Inspire Me Please, Feathered Nest Friday, What Have You Redone, Home Sweet HomeThrifty Things Friday, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

Tips for Tuesday

I was cooking the other day and I needed two tablespoons of tomato paste. Of course, all I had was a 16 ounce can.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I mentioned this to a friend at the gym and she said she feels bad about wasting a whole can when just a little is needed.

Waste?  

Who said anything about waste?  

This is one of those things I've been doing so long that it never occurred to me that other people don't know about it.  Whenever I have contents from a can left over, I freeze the remainder in small quantities to be used later.  In the case of the tomato paste, I used an ice cube tray.  


I filled the tray with the leftover tomato paste.  I measured water in one section and discovered each cube is about one tablespoon.  



I put it into the freezer until frozen, then removed the tomato paste cubes like I would ice cubes.



Finally, I placed them in a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer.  Now the next time I need tomato paste, I'll just take one cube out for each tablespoon needed.  Viola!  No waste!  


I do the same thing with leftover chicken broth.  I use a cupcake tin to freeze this. To remove them after they're frozen, I set it on the counter just until they become loose around the edges. Each "cake" is just shy of 1/2 cup, so when I need some, I know how much I have.  


I also freeze extra onions and peppers this way.  I love having them chopped up in the freezer and ready to go at a moment's notice.


Lisa


I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Inspire Me Please, Feathered Nest Friday, What Have You Redone, Home Sweet HomeThrifty Things Friday, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 12 comments


Being do-it-yourselfers (is that a word?), we enjoy our projects not only for their function, but because of the "sweat equity" we've invested.  Bob and I spent the last two months constructing this fire pit (you can see the project step-by-step here) and while we already have memories from its construction - such as the stump that took three weeks to remove! - it's also special because of the story behind the blocks used in its construction. 

Bob and I live on property that has been in his family for nearly a hundred years.  While heavily wooded today, it actually was farmland for a time and had been used as a gravel pit as well.  Bob's great-grandmother Carrie, an amazing woman of faith, came to live here after her husband died.  Nick was a soldier who fought in the Philippines during the Spanish American War in 1900 and then afterwards was shipped to China to fight in the Boxer Rebellion. 


Nick became ill in the Philippines and after a few years back in Iowa he moved his family to Montana in hopes that his condition would improve.  It did, but he was still a very ill man, having been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB).  This disease proved to be devastating for Carrie's family.  Nine month old Marie died in April 1916.  A year and a half later, in October 1917, 5 1/2 year old son Cornelius passed away.  Seven months after that, son Leonard died in May 1918.  This was just two days after his first birthday and three days before Nick succumbed to the disease.  Can you imagine losing four immediate family members in less than two years?

Since their deaths were so close together, Nick and Leonard were buried in the same coffin to help save money.  Funeral expenses came to $62 and it took Carrie nearly a year to pay for it.  The funeral service was delayed pending the arrival of relatives from the East.  Carrie's father Gerard and brothers Peter and Leonard Sinke may have been among these, for they extended an invitation to Carrie to come to Michigan and live near them.  Just a month after Nick's death, Carrie boarded the train with her four surviving children, ages 13, 12, 10, and 8, and headed to Michigan to join her father and brothers, as well as her brother-in-law Neal Koster who had married her sister Pearl.

Before leaving Montana, Carrie dutifully notified the Pension Bureau of Nick's death.  She quickly learned the government terminated a pension far more quickly than it initiated one.  Only two weeks after the notification, Nick was dropped from the rolls and his $8 a month pension check stopped coming.  Destitute, Carrie immediately filed her application for a widow's pension and was promptly rejected.  It would be a year and a half of submitting affidavits and jumping through hoops before she would finally be approved. 

One of these affidavits testified that Carrie's means of support since Nick's death had been from 3 cows which she bought on time, and some poultry.  She and her children had planted and cultivated a few crops that summer but they had been a total failure.  She had sold her house and lot in Montana for $500, but all the proceeds were used to pay doctor bills, funeral expenses and other debts incurred there. 

Finally, in January 1920 she began receiving her widow's pension of $12 per month plus $2 per month for each child under age 16.  Her income that year was $240.00.  In sharp contrast, the average family income was just over $1500.00.  Even at the time of her death in 1953, Carrie's annual income was only $620.00.  Yet she was a woman of strong faith, which was made evident in this moving letter to her son Clarence in 1942.  He was in the U.S. Army and was soon to be sent to fight the war in Europe.  Following is an excerpt from that letter, which Clarence kept for the rest of his life:

"Do you see and realize that the times are very dark indeed and that we need One who goes with us as we go on through the vale of tears and sorrow.  O Clarence, please remember it does not matter how things go if we only know we have Christ as our Saviour and Lord.  Dear son, do open your heart's door to Him if you have not done so yet.  He is waiting to receive you.  Do try to find a little time to read your Bible.  You know, dear Clarence that in the hour of death the Lord will be more precious to us than anything else.  Learn to trust Him more and more if you should have to go into the battle.  Before long dear Clarence you will need Him more than ever.  You read Psalm 62.  That is such a nice Psalm where it says the Lord is my refuge and my salvation.  O how I pray that you may know Him, that you may know you have been bought with a price - the blood of Jesus.  And that He will never forsake us if we are to call on Him.  I want to tell you dear son, if I did not have a God to go to and tell everything to I could never stand it, but I trust and know whatever comes or happens I am His and He is mine.


Psalm 62
Truly my soul finds rest in God;

    my salvation comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault me?

    Would all of you throw me down—

    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.[b]
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;

    my hope comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,

    the highborn are but a lie.

If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,

    two things I have heard:

“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”

What a tremendous testimony from a woman who suffered so much loss and struggle in her life!  But what does this have to do with the silo blocks?  Carrie's brothers ran a business called Sinke Tile in this small Michigan town, using cement to make drain tiles, silo blocks and the like.  They set their sister Carrie up on the land which we now live, and since she was unsuccessful in farming, they began using the gravel found here for their cement business.  People remember Carrie directing dump trucks as they came to pick up loads of gravel. 

Nick's brother Neal, who married Carrie's sister Pearl, went on to have a family and one of their daughters, aged 90, is still living in the nearby farmhouse she moved to when she married.  This farm had a silo, which had been torn down years ago.  Given the fact that her relatives produced silo blocks, and that they were the only company in town to do so, it only stands to reason that her silo was built with blocks from Sinke Tile, who made their cement with gravel that came from our property. 

 This is the farm house where Carrie's niece still lives.


I had a hard time understanding how she could have over a thousand silo blocks and not know where they were located. 

 

After a considerable amount of time searching for them, I now understand.  We parked as close as we could, but still had to walk through the tall grasses, along the neighbor's field and down to the trees to find them.  Then we had to carry them back to the truck.  If you look closely between the trees on the right side of the photo above, you can get a glimpse of my husband, who looks like little more than a speck. 


Again, Bob is the speck to the left of the tree in the foreground.  This gives you an idea of how far we had to carry these blocks just to reach the truck. Note I use "we" in the collective sense.  Bob handed me a block and I quickly informed him that the block and I wouldn't be going anywhere, since it was so heavy I couldn't move!  


We made three trips to pick up blocks since our truck can only carry 2000 pounds.  Lucky for us, our son Steve was over in time for the last trip.  He said the blocks probably weighed 40 pounds each, and while Bob was carrying them one at a time, Steve was able to carry two.  (Where was he the first two trips?)


My job was to arrange them in the truck bed so they'd all fit without breaking.  That, plus being the "official photographer" was all I could handle.  Oh, and did I mention that the temperature was averaging 94 degrees while we were doing this?



Here's the finished product.  Now, whenever we look at those tiles we remember Carrie's story and amazing faith.

Father, I thank you for this wonderful example of faith lived out despite a difficult life.  I praise you that I too can say, "I trust and know that whatever comes or happens, I am His and He is mine."  May I be the example for the generation following me that Carrie was for hers.

Lisa



I've been known to link up with: Living Proverbs 31, Soli Deo GloriaInspire Me MondayTitus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me TuesdaysCourtship Connection, Into the BeautifulGod Bumps & God IncidencesWord-Filled WednesdayWinsome WednesdaySimply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Inspire, Thrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday, Weekends are for Fun
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 10 comments

Tips for Tuesday

"When Helping Hurts - How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself," is a book that anyone concerned with giving and helping others should read before sending another dime.   

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." ~ 1 John 3:17-18

Yes, Jesus calls us to give and to serve others, but we must do so responsibly. Each chapter of "When Helping Hurts..." begins with "Initial Thoughts" - questions that encourage you to think of and define your beliefs - and ends with "Reflection Questions" which help to clarify and apply your thinking based on what you've just read.  Many of the questions seem simplistic, but after reading each chapter I realized my thinking changed. For instance, I initially defined poverty as a lack of assets, but those who are poor themselves had a very different definition, regardless of whether they were living here in the U.S. or in other parts of the world.  

We often send money in response to poverty, which is correct in cases of a lack of material resources, such as following a natural disaster. Most of the time, however, a lack of resources is just a symptom of another underlying problem.  Treating the symptoms is not going to help anyone in the long run, and may actually harm them instead.  

It's also helpful when on mission trips, even to the unreached, to remember "we are not bringing Christ to poor communities.  He has been active in these communities since the creation of the world, sustaining them "by His powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3) Hence, a significant part of working in poor communities involves discovering and appreciating what God has been doing there for a long time."

The authors are very honest about mistakes they made in ministry, mistakes that don't appear as such in our western way of thinking.  One of the mistakes mentioned was bringing large quantities of goods in to poverty-stricken areas. While it may seem like the generous thing to do, it can actually flood the market and harm those trying to make a living selling those items.  

While reading this book showed me some mistakes in our ministry to Kenya, it has also shown us what we're doing right, such as providing education and encouraging people to invest in their own future rather than relying on us.  

Regardless of whether you are doing mission work or contributing towards it, I highly recommend reading "When Helping Hurts..." so you can do so responsibly. If you're currently not doing either, reading this book will open your eyes to the true source of poverty and what we are called to do about it.

Lord, we thank you for your generous provision.  Forgive us for those times we confuse our wants with our needs, and when we selfishly hoard your blessings for ourselves rather than using them to bless others as you have blessed us. Thank you for books like this, that open our eyes to the true problem and help us discover practical solutions.


Lisa



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