Why I Sponsor Children

“I’d like to help, but …”

photo from Unbound.org

We fill-in-the-blank with a wide variety of things for a whole host of reasons, but today I want to talk about giving to charities. I saw a discussion on an INFJ Facebook group several months ago asking which charities other INFJs support. INFJs are considered one of the “save the world” personality types, as evidenced by the fact that two of the most famous INFJs were Mother Theresa and Gandhi. Many of the INFJ profiles you’ll read online talk about how INFJs often find work in non-profits and support charities. But even among a group of INFJs, there were plenty of people talking about the fact that they never donate to anything.

Now, there are perfectly understandable reasons for not giving money and I would never suggest you donate money that you don’t have. But if you have the means and desire to help, excuses like “I don’t trust charities” or “I don’t have the time” don’t hold up well in my mind. You can donate your time and money within your own community so you can see exactly what effects your efforts are having. There are also charities with good reputations who use their money wisely — you just have to look for them. And after that initial time-outlay of finding a charity you like, getting online to send money takes about a minute.

Personally, I like to sponsor children. I use Unbound, but as far as I know Compassion International is a great option as well. This is the perfect fit for me for several reasons:

  • I’m making a difference now, on an individual level for this child and their family
  • I’m affecting the future, because children become the adults that shape their countries
  • I get to build a relationship with the people I’m helping, through letter-writing

I guess the main thing I want to do today is encourage you to think about the impact you’re having on this world for good. It can be in any number of ways — serving in our church groups, going out of your way to make someone smile, donating money or food stuffs, volunteering your time, sponsoring a child … the list just goes on and on. I want to leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis that convicted me to start finding more ways to give, though I still think I fall short by these standards.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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You’re Invited (Trades of Hope)

Next Thursday evening (August 7th), I’m hosting a live Facebook party for a company called Trades of Hope. This company works with women around the world to help them provide for themselves and their families. Some of the women whose products are sold through Trades of Hope have been rescued out of sex slavery, are living in poverty, are single mothers (some with handicapped children), live in war-torn countries, or have AIDS. The artists are from countries all over the world, including Uganda, India, Guatemala, Haiti, Peru, the Philippines, the U.S.A, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Trades of Hope products
I’m wearing the Deep Aqua Layered Necklace and the gold earrings from Mumbai Earring Set

You don’t have to shop to join the party and learn more about Trades of Hope, but if you do choose to support these artists you’ll know you’re buying fair-trade products that directly help the women who created them. We often talk about how we want to be helpful to and supportive  of other people, and here’s a chance to actually do just that. I’ve bought several Trades of Hope products, and I’m so impressed with the quality and design, and also with the women who made these beautiful pieces.

Most of the products are designed for ladies, but gentlemen are also welcome to join us and shop for themselves (because everyone needs a mango-wood trivet, right?) or someone else.

The party starts at 8:00 p.m EST on August 7th and goes until 9:00. I hope you’ll be able to make it then, since we’ll have a live chat going so you can ask questions and stuff, but if not you’ll still be able to access the page for a few days after the party is over. Click here to go to the Facebook page and join this event. If you don’t have Facebook and still want a link to the shop after the initial party, let me know.

Goats for Guatemala!

Slightly Bad Leah

As I mentioned last week, I recently finished reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ Bad Girls of the Bible series. Slightly Bad Girls, the last book, is a slightly different format than the first two. Higgs only covered five women’s stories — Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah — which allowed her to spend more time with their stories.  The fictional accounts span at least two chapters for each character, which allows a longer story-arch for each woman than in the two previous books.

Leah

Leah’s  story was the one I found most interesting. There is so much we don’t know about her. For example, we know Jacob was livid when he woke to find Leah in his bed instead of Rachel (Gen. 29:21-24), but we have no idea how Leah reacted to her father switching brides (or what Rachel’s opinion was for that matter).

I wonder what Leah was thinking. Was she so scared of her father that she didn’t dare disobey when he “brought her to Jacob” (Gen 29:23)? Did she want to get out of her father’s house so much she would have married anyone? Was she trying to steal Rachel’s husband? Perhaps she was in love with Jacob and hoped he would return that love once they were married (I don’t have much experience with relationships, but I’m pretty sure impersonating your unrequited-crush’s bride on their wedding night is not the best way to make him fall in love with you).

God’s Love

One of the most interesting verses in Leah’s story is this:

When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved … (Gen. 29:31)

Setting aside for the moment how terrible it was for Leah to be unloved, let’s think about how incredible God’s compassion was for her. He saw her and He  “listened to” her prayers (Gen.30:17). Isn’t it comforting to know that even when people who should love you don’t, God sees everything and cares deeply for our pain? It makes me think of my favorite Psalm.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. (Ps. 139:1-3)

We serve a God who is powerful enough to do anything, and He chooses to let His attention and His compassion rest on us. For Leah, God’s care took the form of blessing her with children.

Leah’s Children

I hadn’t thought about it before, but Higgs points out that what Leah says when each of her sons was born reveal that she had a deeper faith in the God than we often give her credit for.

So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing. (Gen. 29:32-35)

Leah recognized that her sons were a gift from God, given to comfort her when He saw Jacob did not love her. She realized that she was heard and loved by God, and by the time she named her fourth child, Judah, she was able to offer praise to the Lord without even mentioning her hope that Jacob would learn to love her. (As an interesting side note, this is the first time the word “praise” appears in the King James translation.) I doubt Leah moved past her desire for her husband’s love, but perhaps she reached a point where her relationship with God gave her the peace needed to accept her life.

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11-13)

God’s Feelings

Two days ago I was asked the question, “Does God have feelings?” I responded, “yes.” Of course God has feelings. But when called upon to back it up with scriptures, I pretty much drew a blank. I hadn’t really studied the subject, and only had generalities to mention like Jesus Christ experiencing human emotions and yet not sinning.

So, I sat down with e-Sword and we started doing word searches and found a huge long list of scriptures. Then I Googled “God’s emotions” to see what other people had written and found even more scriptures. This isn’t even an exhaustive study — it only took a couple hours — and there’s already too many scriptures to use them all in a blog post. I’m going to do my best to condense it into a manageable article.

Jesus Christ’s Emotions

"Jesus Wept" John 13:35When He “was made in the likeness of men,” Jesus Christ experienced being human (Phil. 2:7). As we know — sometimes all too well — being human involves experiencing emotions. For Jesus, this also meant exercising perfect emotional control (1 Pet. 2:23).

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:15-16)

Not only did Christ experience what we go through, but He can still be touched by our feelings. And not only sympathize, but help. “God is the strength of my heart,” He gives not just physical aid when we are in need, but emotional help as well (Ps. 73:26).

One of the ways we can see God’s emotions and character most clearly is looking at the example of Christ. There is ample evidence in the scripture to show that Jesus felt deeply. In His time on the earth, Jesus Christ experienced a myriad of emotions. He felt joy (John 15:11; 17:13; Hebrews 12:2). He was moved with compassion (Matt 9:36; Luke 13:34). He was grieved and in agony (Mark 8:12John 11:38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46). He got angry (Mark 3:5). He cried (John 11:35; Luke 19:41). He loved His friends and the people who came to Him (Mark 10:21; John 13:1; John 15:13) [the Greek words are forms of agape — a Godly love that expresses compassion]).

God’s Reaction to Sin

The sin of man is a source of grief for God. It hurts Him when we turn away from Him because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). We are instructed to pray for all men because God wills that “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4)

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. (Gen. 6:5-6)

For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! (Psalm 78:37-40)

Because He is a God of mercy, He is patient and “slow to anger” (Psalm 103:8; 145:8), but He does get angry. The fact that He is just and righteous means that He will not overlook sin. Jealousy and anger is the response described when His people consistently turn away from following Him.

And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him. (Is. 30:18)

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies.The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. (Nah. 1:2-3)

Mercy and Joy

For those who turn from evil to obey and love Him, there is a far different response from God. Jesus Christ said, “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Long-suffering, mercy, and compassion are key attributes of His personality.

For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away His face from you, if ye return unto Him. (2 Chron. 30:9).

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Ps. 86:15)

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:11)

Those who love and obey Him faithfully are told that Jesus “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). Of those who, like Abraham, live by faith it is said that “God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16). God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and He wants to share that love with everyone.

“Does God have feelings?” The answer is a resounding yes. He has feelings, and He can sympathize with what we are feeling. He is not an impersonal God. He is grieved by our sin and joyful when we choose life by following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.