True generosity is measured not by how much we give away but by how much we have left, especially when we look at the needs of our neighbors.  We have no right not to be charitable. – Shane Claiborne

FEAR…fear – No matter how big or how small our behaviors are driven by it.  A fear of heights keeps us from seeing God’s beauty from above.  A fear of crowds keeps us from meeting new people.  A fear of snakes…okay well you get my point.  A fear of failure and not being able to provide financially for my family has driven or controlled  me most of my life, but that same fear takes away from my total dependence on God.  Isn’t that what God wants for us, to totally depend on him?  He promises us he will provide our daily needs, which like most people, I think I get that line blurred with my wants.  Unfortunately, I think society/man has created such a FEAR around money, or lack of, it drives or controls most of our lives.  One thing that I have found over the past year to be extremely freeing is to be more giving.  Not just financially but with time, possessions, and being available to listen.   I don’t want to sound pompous so don’t get me wrong, I am still a HUGE work in progress, but I feel much more purposeful with my life when I’m giving of something.  Before I started hanging out with the poor, I went to work each day, came home, paid bills and started the routine again.  Usually a little more tired and worn out than the day before.  Trust me when I say, I’m still not at a place in my life that if Jesus told me 21 “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matt 19:21 (NLT) but I sure admire those that are.  So why does our fear stop us from doing things like that and becoming totally dependent on God?  How do we overcome it?  If you have those answers please let me know.

As we enter this month of Thanksgiving, I began to ponder about the verse in Mark 10:29-30.  I think there is a lot of misinterpretation of this verse 29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News,30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. Mark 10:29-30 (NLT)  A lot of people like to focus on the “will receive now in return a hundred times” part but did you notice the – “along with persecution” part?  I don’t believe we can read more into it than what’s there.  Amy and I give a lot of our time, yet we haven’t received 100 more hours in a week so why would people think they would receive 100 x whatever money they give?  What we have received is 100 times more blessings of meeting people, seeing God alive, and some serious heart therapy that includes compassion, sympathy and love.  As you go into the holiday season and contemplate what organization to give to, do it with a pure heart and  not of what it will “return” to you.  Isn’t it God’s money to begin with anyhow?  You may have worked for and earned it, but didn’t God bless you with that ability?

Since we’ve been talking about giving.  We’ve had some wonderful donation pledges come in for Shania.  We are up to $600 so far.  Many of you asked why she can’t qualify for Medicaid.  I really don’t know all the details, apparently it is a complicated issue but as of now she can’t.  I’ve attached the estimate of the dental work to be completed.

We are still struggling to get all the items for the 250 “care bags” that we would like to provide at the 2nd Annual Love Your Neighbors Thanksgiving Dinner.  (See attached flyer)  Thanksgiving Dinner Flyer (Thanksgiving Dinner Flyer) We are still in need of blankets and toiletry items, except for soap and toothbrushes, toothpaste.  If everyone that reads this would provide “something” or  if you don’t have time to gather the items, you make a $10 donation we’ll purchase the items for you, you can do this through PayPal on our website.  You can drop the items off at the CenturyLINK store on 248 in the Gretna Plaza.

Please pray for our good friend Elton Jones.  Elton has been a volunteer with us almost since the beginning.  He has been a dedicated servant on Thursday evenings as well as a cook at some of our BBQ’s.  Elton is a recovered addict/alcoholic and a devoted follower of Christ.  His mother passed away this week and I know it’s a very difficult time for Elton and his children.

We will pass the 9000 meals served mark this Thursday night.  What an amazing testament to God that he can take the most unlikely, dysfunctional individual/family, and organize a group of fellow gypsies of Christ to serve our fellow men, women and children in our community.  We’ve had such an outpouring of volunteers to decorate our meal bags.  This is such a great load lifted.  Thank you to all.  I have also received email after email about offers to serve at our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  I would like to share with you some of the stories from last year.

The people and their stories were incredible.  I had never witnessed such gracious, appreciating people before.  They were so thankful for the meal, the service and the clothing.  One family I spoke with had lived in a tent behind Wal-mart with their 1 year old for 2 weeks before the husband received his first check and they were able to move into a motel.  Another gentleman had put his last dollars into his car for gas and didn’t know what he was going to do for Thanksgiving.  Afterwards he made the comment he had to leave before he started to cry.  We were able to help another lady with not just the meal but her rent as well as she told someone she was desperate and didn’t know what to do.  I’m sure everyone had a story that was there.

To be part of God’s amazing work on Thursday’s, I invite you to “come and see”.

They just found out this morning, about the same time the email went out, that Medicaid will not make them jump through all the hoops to get the work done as was needed before.  Praise God.  What incredible timing….hmmm.  See Dawn’s email below:

From: Randy and Dawn Sipes
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 12:31 PM
To: Bryan and Amy Stallings
Subject: Shana’s Dental Work—–PAID!!!!!

Thanks be to our Mighty, Good God! Shana’s dental work is taken care of! This is the Blessing of Tithing into the Kingdom of God through spreading his word, helping others and having unshakable FAITH! Please let everyone know.

And Bryan I just saw that you all had raised some money for it. Maybe, the people who have donated would be okay with you all using that money to go for others in whatever way is needed.

It doesn’t matter how little you have you should still do what you can to Tithe (not just money) I know so many people believe that when you are talking about Tithing your talking about money but that is so NOT true. We Tithe constantly…we pray for others, we give others food, we have given others a floor to sleep on in our little Motel Room, we invite others to Church all the time. These are forms of Tithing too and I believe they mean more than anything.

Thank you, thank you, thank you God and everyone out there doing his work!
Randy and Dawn Sipes

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