Charity. Generosity. Stewardship.

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Today’s quote is from Francis Quarles, an English poet who was born May 8, 1592 and died September 8, 1644: “Proportion thy charity to the strength of thy estate, lest God proportion thy estate to the weakness of thy charity. Let the lips of the poor be the trumpet of thy gift, lest in seeking applause thou lose thy reward. Nothing is more pleasing to God than an open hand and a closed mouth.”

These are powerful statements, each of which is corroborated by the following equally powerful Scripture passages:

Luke 6:38: Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you … For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

1 Cor. 13:3: Paul wrote, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

Luke 21:2: Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 18:9-14: The Pharisee boasted about his tithe but the tax collector dared not to lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

2 Cor. 9:7, 11: “God loves a cheerful giver … You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.”

God bless your generosity through charitable giving, demonstrating your faithful stewardship of the blessings he has entrusted to your care!

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Fishing, ISIS, Waco

FishingThat’s a seemingly strange title for a Perspectives article. I chose it because it reflects activities in which I was involved or which caught my attention this past week.

Fishing

The past two years I have been the recipient of a special Christmas gift from our daughter Angie and her husband Todd: a guided striped bass fishing trip on Lake Buchanan in central Texas with their son Kolby and their daughter Kayla, who just happen to be Terry’s and my grandchildren.

This year’s trip took place last Friday. My lucky catch was a 34-inch striped bass weighing 16.25 lbs. Our guide said it’s the largest such fish he’s seen taken from Lake Buchanan in the past 6-7 years. All four witnesses wanted me to mount it, which I was considering until I heard the cost: $18/inch. Do the math. Guess what I told the guide: “Clean it!”

To see the fish (before it was cleaned and eaten) go to: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=860028237406000&set=a.860028470739310.1073741825.100001964954873&type=1&theater

ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Over the weekend, ISIS militants seized the key Iraqi city of Ramadi. An Associated Press report said: “The contested city of Ramadi fell to the Islamic State group on Sunday, as Iraqi forces abandoned their weapons and armored vehicles to flee the provincial capital in a major loss despite intensified U.S.-led airstrikes.”

“Bodies, some burned, littered the streets following mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians. Humvees, trucks and other equipment sped out of Ramadi, with soldiers gripping onto their sides. More than 250 civilians and security forces were killed, including police and others shot dead in the streets or their homes, along with their wives and children.”

Waco

Monday’s Austin American Statesman reported details of what first appeared on Sunday’s newscasts: “A chaotic shootout Sunday between rival biker gangs that also involved Waco police left nine dead and a city on alert for further violence.

“The shooting erupted at the Twin Peaks restaurant just after 12:15 p.m. Sunday during a ‘Bike Night’ event police had sought to shut down. Waco police said they had feared the large gathering of up to 200 bikers from at least five different motorcycle gangs would turn violent after tensions had risen in the past month.”

How strange that while deadly manifestations of ungodly greed and childish pride erupt around the world and places closer to home, in this land of the free and home of the brave I spend a morning on a lake catching a big fish. I am blessed! And so are you! Don’t take those blessings for granted. All of us are blessed to be a blessing!