Totally worth stealing, these ideas are weekly challenges to live life with a “big picture” attitude.
52 ACTION IDEAS
1. Show gratitude this week—Thank someone who works hard to make your day possible or easier (Psalm 5).
2. Pick up a random piece of trash you see this week and throw it away (Genesis 2:15).
3. Find some one to give a Bible to: your postal carrier, the babysitter, the nice person who bags your groceries (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17).
4. Find a soup kitchen in your area to volunteer with sometime this month (Isaiah 25:6-8).
5. Research something you don’t know much about—hunger, malaria, sex trafficking, orphans,—and find one thing you can do to help (educate others, make a one-time donation, volunteer, etc). (Ezra 7:10)
6. Take a displaced person out for a meal (Isaiah 58:10).
7. Next time you fly, make sure to help someone else get their luggage into /out of the overhead bin (Psalm 68:19)
8. Hold open the door for everyone you can this week (Acts 28:2).
9. Volunteer to tutor at an under-served school in your area (Exodus 18:20).
10. Practice patience and let someone in line in front of you in a store or in traffic (Ecclesiastes 7:8).
11.Contact the person in charge of mission/volunteer activities at your church and find something in your local commnity that you can do with a group or with your family (Psalm 72:12, 13)
12. Consider sponsoring a child.Go online to read about it and the pray about it with your family (Luke 18:16).
13. Find out how to start a Bible study at the local jail or prison (Matthew 25:36)
14. Volunteer to collect usable clothes or toys from friends and neighbors. Donate them to a church or serving organization (Nehemiah 10:37).
15. Pick a nation to pray for everyday this week. Pray that God’s glory be revealed in a big way to its people (Psalm 18:49)
16. Find out how you can help a neighbor (Luke 10:29-37)
17. Pray for your nation’s elected leaders everyday this week. Pray for God to guide their deciions (Psalm 2:10).
18. ORganize a bake sale, yard sale, or car wash to raise money for a church youth group or children’s ministry (Luke 10:21).
19. Clean out your closet and donate gently used clothes and shoes to a local homeless shelter (Proverbs 28:27)
20.Volunteer at a hospice (Isaiah 53:4).
21. Memorize Bible verses that encourage social action (Psalm 1:2).
22. Buy several $5 gift cards from a fast food restaurant and hand the out to the homeless that you see on your daily commute (Proverbs 10:21).
23. Create care kits to keep in your car to hand to those in need. Include a comb, a new pair of socks, toothbrush/paste. a granola bar, a fast-food gift car, and don’t forget to include a Scripture verse that communicates God’s hope and love (Leviticus 19:10).
24. Donate a bog of toys to your local children’s hospital (Matthew 4:23)
25. This week, find a nursing home that you can volunteer with sometime this month. You can simply volunteer to visit with people or do something as formal as organizing a bingo night (Luke 9:6).
26. On your next trip to the grocery store find a senior citizen and help take their bags to their car (Acts 2:46)
27. Write a letter to your congressperson about an issue that concers you (Isaiah 30:8).
28. Make a donation this week to a cause/organization that you are passionate about (Nehemiah 10:39).
29. Contact your church to see if there is someone in the hospital you can visit with and pray for (James 5:14).
30. Pray every day for the needs of others (Genesis 20:17).
31. If you don’t already, start recycling what you can as a way to help care for God’s creation (Romans 8:22).
32. Find someone this week that you can share about Christ with. Start by telling them your story of what Christ has done in your life (Acts 10:42).
33. Volunteer to babysit for a new neighbor fore fre one night, giving the parents a night off, was a way to demonstrate God’s love for them (Exodus 2:5-7).
34. Find a small charity in your area. Support them with your time, talent, and finances (Deuteronomy 15:11).
35. Get training to answer phones at a crisis call center (Proverbs 31:9).
36. Organiza a cookout with your neighbors, as a way to get to know them and build relationships. To make it low cost, everyone can bring their own meat to grill and side dish to share (Luke 14:13).
37. Support orphan care. Find a family who is in the adoption process and volunteer to babysit their other children for a night while they get important paperwork done, or contribute to their adoption fund (James 1:27)
38. Contact your church to see if there is a family that has experienced a birth, death, or a surgery that you can take a meal to (Matthew 13:33)
39. We are commissioned to care for widows. Ask your church for the address of a widow and send them an encouraging card this week (Deuteronomy 14:28).
40. Help start a card ministry at your church where people can sign up to send cards to those going through difficult times (deaths in the faily, job loss, sickness, etc) (Colossians 2:2).
41. Volunteer to fold clothes at a thrift sotre (Job 36:15).
42. Send a hand-written note or card to someon that needs encouragement this week (Acts 11:23).
43. Buy only what you need (Psalm 72:4).
44. Send a card to your pastor or Bible study teacher this week, thanking them for what they are doing (2 Timothy 1:3).
45. This week, at a fast food restaurant or coffee shop drive-thru, pay for the car behind you. Leave a simple note with the cashier to give them that expresses Christ’s love for them. Be sure to include an applicable Bible verse (Philemon 1:4).
46. Express appreciation this week to someone that you might normally overlook (2 Thessalonians 1:13)
47. Spread happiness. Smile at everyone you can this week. Smiles are contagious (2Thessalonians 2:13).
48. Introduce yourself to someone this week that you regularly see but do not know their name. Learn it and be ready to greet the by name the next time you see them (1 Timothy 1:12).
49. Volunteer to be a crisis child care worker (2 Corinthians 12:14).
50. Find out what mission trips your church is organizing for the year. Earnestly consider going. Pray about it to see if it’s something God might be calling you to (Romans1:1).
51. Give up buying coffee (or lunches out) this week or month and donate that money saved to an organization that feeds the hungry (Romans 12:20).
52. Invite someone to go to church with you this week (a neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, etc.) (Matthew 9:9)
(the other 46 ideas tomorrow when I’m not so sleepy)
A small group Bible study on discipleship
Life is short no matter how long we live. If there is something important we want to do, we must not put it off for a better day. Ask yourself, “If I had only six months to live, what would I do?” Tell someone that you love him or her? Deal with an undisciplined area in your life? Tell someone…
by Matt Kaufman
The other day I gave an elderly woman who has no car a ride to church. It took only a tiny bit of time from me: just leaving home 5 or 10 minutes early. But it was huge to her. It meant she could hear God’s Word and be with His people.
God does that all the time. He takes…
Your God is beyond question the God of all gods. Daniel 2:47
On a scale of 1 to 10, his stress level during that first year had to have been least 20. He had just conquered a nation. And with that conquest came the aggravation of dealing with a strange, stubborn and difficult people who were now his reluctant subjects.
I imagine by the time the new year rolled around, Nebuchadnezzar had his physician, shrink and masseuse parked outside his bed chamber to attend to his stress-induced condition. Insomnia probably plagued his constantly. And when he did fall into short bursts of deep sleep, he dreamt troubling dreams that left him paranoid during his waking hours.
So it is no wonder that Daniel spends an entire chapter describing Nebuchadnezzar’s obsession to discover the meaning of his dream. Finding the meaning of the dream meant finding the peace his soul so desired. Whatever would lead to the discovery would, therefore, be his salvation. That’s why when Daniel’s God lets the King in on the meaning of his dream, the king declares Daniel’s God the only true god. Nebuchadnezzar finally found the source of truth and peace and understands the power of God.
This should have been the turning point of Nebuchadnezzar’s life, the climax of the history of his new kingdom. But, it wasn’t. The very next chapter describes the next big event. Here Nebuchadnezzar has proclaimed that he should receive all respect and worship reserved for the gods and demands that every one bow before him.
What a change in attitude! And how quickly! It is not possible that he forgot what had happened just a little while earlier. But it is possible that his discovery of the true God during his bad-dream phase was a just another fact added to his bank of trivia and details. It was not an experience of conversion. The knowledge had not traveled from his head to his heart.
Learning about and acknowledging God has no long-term effect. For God to have any relevancy and positive change in your life, you need the lessons learned of God to reach into your heart and make you a new creature.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known. Psalm 78:2-3
Psalm 78 is the story about telling stories. Asaph, the storyteller, says before you start going off on how bad you have it, remember. Before you dump God for something else, remember. Before you start wishing for more out of life, remember. Before you start forgetting, remember …
Remember the past. Remember where you’ve been, how you survived. Remember the blessings, remember the miracles. Remember how your God has been with you.
Every time the Israelites lost sight of their history, they can to a bitter standstill—questioning themselves, one another and even God. So Asaph tells them to never forget their stories.
It is in the stories of our past that we find hope. In sharing our stories of faith with one another, we find strength to endure today. From the mistakes of the past, we find direction for the future.
God’s name be ever blessed. Job 1:21, The Message
I was there to listen to Bruce sing again in the quartet for the first time in three years. To compensate for the loss of salivary glands, he took long sips of water between songs. And on one of his water breaks, he shared his testimony. He began, “Three years ago I got the blessing of cancer.”
It was a time when nothing seemed to be going right. His health was in crisis, his marriage was falling apart and his business was struggling. A man of faith, Bruce turned over his problems to the Lord. He prayed, he meditated on God’s Word, he exercised faith at every turn, he surrendered to God’s will. But he couldn’t shake the heaviness of his problems. It hovered over him. Then one day while praying, he realized that it wasn’t enough to turn everything over to God. He needed to find a way to praise God for his problems. He needed to live like he really believed that “all things work together for good to them who love the Lord.” And that’s when his problems took a back seat in his life. And that’s why he is able to say his cancer was a blessing.
There’s the kind of faith that helps you to stoically wait for God’s plan to unfold so you can see in hindsight that everything that happened was meant to me. Then there’s the dynamic kind of faith that does more—It is an active agent that enables you to laugh and live and rejoice during your trials. Most all Christians have the first kind of faith; but those who have the second kind live every day with the rush of contentment and peace. It was this second kind of faith that allowed Job to chastise his wife with the words, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)
He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. John 1:27, NIV
To be posthumously remembered as a disciple comes with accolades and praise. But the real, everyday life of a disciple is anything but prestigious. A disciple does more than learn the ways, teachings and philosophy of his master. If the master says leave your nets, your job, and follow me, you do just that. If the master says leave your family and go on a missionary journey, you do just that. If the master says forget about the rules, go break the law and fetch me some grain on the Sabbath Day to fix the rumble in my tummy, you do just that. If the master says he’s got to go now and you need to take over at the risk of being stoned to death or crucified upside down, you do just that.
There is no glamor in being a disciple. A disciple in Jesus’ time was one who followed a master and did his bidding. The master had the right to ask pretty much anything of his disciple. Anything. That is, anything except the tasks of a slave. Menial tasks like untying the laces of a dirty pair of sandals and washing the dusty feet of the master was the job of a slave, not a disciple.
But there is more to the difference between a disciple and a slave. A slave is owned by the master; he has no choice but to do whatever the master asks of him. Whether the master asks the slave to take of his shoes or to die for him, the slave has no choice but to obey. The disciple, on the other hand, chooses to—wants to, of his own free will—obey the master. The slave does what he does without questioning the master; the disciples does what he does with understanding of and belief in the master.
When John the Baptist said he was unworthy of even untying Jesus’ sandals, he was saying Jesus is all that matters. Who I am—disciple, slave or nobody— is unimportant. Whether I act in understanding, faith or just obedience is of no significance. What is important that I point the way to Jesus.
William Barclay says it best: “[John the Baptist] is the great example of the man prepared to obliterate himself in order that Jesus Christ may be seen. He was only, as he saw it, a finger-post pointing to Christ. God give us grace to forget ourselves and to remember only Christ.”
They even spoke against God himself. Psalm 78:19 (The Message)
The Israelites had a major case of are-we-there-yet: The journey was long, the scenery boring. They were tired of eating the same fast food from heaven every day, of sleeping in the same dusty tent every night. And so they did what we all would do. They complained: They complained to one another, they complained to Moses, they complained to God.
But, when their frustrations and complaining led them to question God and speak against God, they had crossed the line (Numbers 21:4-7). The consequence was the onset of poisonous snake bites that sent thousands on their way to an agonizing death.
This incident is often cited as an example of how God punishes the disobedient. Every version and paraphrase of verse 6 says that God sent the snakes. Even the notes in my Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale) say that God punished the Israelites with the snakes. I ‘m not a theologian and I don’t claim to more than Tyndale and the Bible translators. But I have a problem with the idea of God punishing the disobedient: Death for disobedience? Really? That too, from a grace-abundant God? Seems incongruent, don’t you think?
Complaining is a human thing. God gets that, but He draws the line at rejection. God cannot bend our will to either obey Him or love Him: He knocks, but we must open the door. He offers salvation, but we must meet Him at the cross. To the Israelites He offered direction and protection for the journey from Egypt to Canaan, but when they rejected Him, He could not force his direction and protection on them. They gave God no choice but to step away.
It’s not like the snakes weren’t in the desert before this incident. Since the beginning of time, the desert was their home, the sand their breeding ground (Deuteronomy 8:15; plus I learned that on Planet Earth). Throughout their journey, the snakes were there. It was all there: the snakes, the heat, unavailability of water, the lack of food. It was God’s presence, His loving protection that kept the snakes from biting, that brought water gushing from a rock, that towered a cloud to block the sun, that showered the sand with manna. In spite of all the positive experiences with God, when they began feeding off one another’s whining, they forgot the past. When Israel rejected God, they forced God outside their camp, out of their lives.
When I shut out God, I shut out everything that comes with God—His protection, His grace, His love, His guidance, His Word. I can’t have it both ways; It’s simply illogical and completely unfair: I can’t reject God and expect to have His blessings. I can’t slam the door on God and expect to feel His presence in my life.
It’s my choices that punish me; not God.
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet…
So you’ll realize that there is no God like our God. Exodus 8:10
I imagine they felt like I would if I were promised a satisfying career and life if I’d move from beautiful Southern Oregon to the Arctic Circle. Perfect Life versus Perfect Place. Like them I would spend a lot of time thinking and talking about it—praying, researching, questioning.
However, if I were to wake up one morning and find my kitchen sink full of blood and writing on my window that said Go into the freezing tundra. I will be with you, I imagine I’d start packing. Right away. No questions asked. No more doubts.
But that’s not what they did. The entire stretch of the Nile turned to blood, and the Egyptians still had doubts about the power of God and the truth of the promised land. I imagine Egyptian friends of the Israelites had heard many stories of the promised land and wanted that life for themselves. But the thought of crossing a desert to get there was daunting. To give up the familiarity and comfort of Egypt for the unknowns of Canaan was frightening.
The purpose of the plagues was just as much to assuage doubts as it was to prove the sovereignty of God. If God can control nature, can He not protect us in a desert storm? God never expects us to follow in blind faith—We may not know what is going to happen next, we may not have all our questions answered, but, for sure, God always gives us ample reasons to trust Him.
The problem is that we choose to barely survive on our own rather than live in abundance through surrender to God. When there’s blood in our sink, piles of stinky dead frogs around the house, lice and flies in the air, it’s time to wake up and read the writing on the wall. God’s saying, It’s time for another faith walk. We should response, Let’s go.
Instead we often ask, Are you sure, while we pick up a shovel and try to clean the mess ourselves.