Saturday, January 26, 2008

Giving or Bribing?

I never cease to be amazed by the number of conversations I've had over the years with people who have given a gift to someone or some organization and are disappointed or offended by the shortage of new influence the gift has purchased. Millions of us appear to give with strings attached. We expect something in return. Isn't that called a 'bribe'?

Why do we give? Is it to bless or is it to improve our standing? One is noble, the other is a form of greed, not to mention self centeredness.

I can't count the times I've heard, "After all I've given, he still......" or "I gave her __________ and she hasn't even..... how ungrateful is that?"

What am I supposed to do with comments like that? Sympathize?

I would like to submit that those kinds of comments demonstrate a weakness in the giver more than the recipient. Giving with expectations is not giving at all. Call it a loan. Call it an investment. Call it a bribe. But what ever you call it, if it has strings attached, it is certainly not a gift.

If I understand the Bible at all, I understand that the blessing we receive from giving comes entirely from the giving and is not impacted at all by the appreciativeness (or perceived appreciativeness) of the receiver.

One time, Jesus encountered 10 lepers on the roadside. He immediately had compassion on them and healed them. Nine of them went happily on their way, totally absorbed in their good fortune. One was compelled to return and thank Him. Was Jesus less blessed because 90% of those healed simply kept walking? I don't see any indication of that? His satisfaction came from their new found healing. The fact that one came back was merely icing on an already tasty cake.

I wonder how many of the people shouting, "Crucify Him!" at Jesus' trial were among those multitudes who feasted on His bread and fish miracle by the lake some months before? Did Jesus threaten to skip Calvary because of their lack of appreciation? No, their need, our need, drove Him to keep giving despite potential, and often real, rejection.

Giving is about blessing others. It's about showing our appreciation. It's about many things, but it's never about getting. Whether it's my tithe, a Christmas gift, a card in the mail or helping someone carry a bag of groceries, I always want to check my heart and motives. And when I start feeling aggrieved by the lack of appreciation I'm being shown for all I do, it's time to check MY heart rather than the motive of those to whom I give.

The Lord still loves a "cheerful giver".

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thanks for your patience

Thanks everyone for being patient during these last couple weeks of silence. Brittan and I have been in the process of moving from Maine to Georgia and there has been little time to do any website maintenance. We didn't have web access until two days ago, so even if I'd had time, it would have been impossible to update.

Speaking of is it ever expensive! Besides buying a house, all the stuff you need just to get set up is outrageous. Fortunately we started planning early and have had the cash to take care of everything. Back in the old days it would have created credit card payments for years to come.

Georgia is very nice, but winter seems to have followed us down. It was in the teens last night. Brittan and I were feeling really chilly until we checked the weather report for Maine and saw that it's -11 there with wind chill of -28. Brrrrr! Makes me realize that even cold weather in the South is warm.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Resolution and TV Scams

Have you noticed all the usual diet, fitness and financial solution TV commercials? Tis the season. It's hard to separate the legitimate ads from the scams.

Millions of people look at New Year as a fresh start and want to lose weight, get fit and/or put their financial houses in order. And... most of us need some help. Enter the wolves.

As a fatty, I won't comment on the diet and fitness products at this time, but I will certainly add my 2c regarding the companies offering to "fix your credit", "wipe out your debt legally" and the like. Most of them will do much more harm than good. Besides, they don't do anything for you that you can't do yourself for far less money. And isn't saving money part of what we're trying to accomplish?

ATTN: Shameless product plug ahead!

Most of the "fix your finances" companies on TV will either charge huge fees (sometimes up front, sometimes well hidden in the fine print), or will really just stretch your payments out over a longer period causing you to spend MORE in the long run. That just doesn't make sense. Before you sign up, please research the company thoroughly. That's what search engines are for.

IOU NO MORE, on the other hand, will cost you about $10 (About $30 if you buy the whole kit). Inside, you will find everything you need to get started eliminating debt. The plan works. Brittan and I are living proof.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Murphy Time

Talk about Murphy's Law! Ol' Murph has taken up residence in the Burton household the last couple of weeks. First, the refrigerator went out and we had to have a repair man come and fix it. The ink wasn't even dry on the check when the heater went out on my truck. We had to get a new thermostat and assorted other repairs. The very next day, a latch on the car door went bad and a whole new unit had to be installed. In the midst of these annoyances, our snow blower broke down. And in Northern Maine that's a bad thing. The warranty was up 10 days before the problem. We had to get it repaired on a Saturday during a snow storm. Now, the battery in my truck is dead!

Any one of these things is a nuisance, and has the potential to be a budget buster. But all of them together would have spelled disaster just a few short years ago. But, thankfully, we have an emergency fund and they were just a pain in the tootie.

While I will never look forward to these little blips on the radar, and while I will always hate spending money on repairs and inconveniences, because we've planned ahead I don't have to panic.

Please, start the new year right! Get on the IOU NO MORE plan today. Read the book. Start an emergency fund. Begin a spending plan. Make 08 great!

Happy New Year to all. Except Murphy.