With Love...and other lessons
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With Love..A lesson in Offering and Obligation

by Steven Skelley


As I came into my house, my wife handed me two envelopes and said, "Happy Birthday! These came in the mail for you." I looked at these two envelopes and could immediately tell that one was a store-bought birthday-card. The other was in a longer envelope with the address written in the uneven lettering of someone just learning to write.

The store-bought envelope contained a store-bought card wishing me a happy birthday and signed "With love, so and so" from an organization I had some contact with. I opened the other envelope to find an unevenly folded piece of purple construction paper. It had "Happy Birt day" misspelled on the front and a stick drawing of a man playing a guitar on the inside with the words, "This is you!" underneath the man. Under this, it said "I love you," and was signed "Brittany." Brittany was a good friend of my daughter.

Looking at these two cards taught me something I will remember forever. Both people sent cards. Both people made some effort. The difference was...that one card came without any thought or imagination, just a quickly scrawled ending. I was just another name on the long list of birthday names that came up on their calendar. The card was sent out of a sense obligation. The second card, though less professional, touched me so much more because it was sent, not out of obligation but rather as an offering...an offering of love from someone who truly cared.

Our offerings to God work in much the same way, I think. We give offerings of worship, and finances, and service. We can give out of obligation, because we feel it is the right thing to do...or we can give in an offering of love that truly comes from our hearts. Which do you think God desires more? Offerings of love or obligation?

II Corinthians 9:7 tells us that each one of us should give as he or she has decided in their own heart, not with regret or out of a sense of duty. For, it says, God loves the one who gives gladly.

Choose to give to God. Give Him yourself first by accepting His offer of salvation and right-standing through Jesus. Then choose to give your gifts of worship, finances, and service as an offering of love and forethought rather than just because you feel you have to.

You Don't Have To Walk Alone

By  Steven Skelley


It has been a devastating month. We’ve seen another hurricane devastate a number of cities and endanger millions of people. On a more personal note, I received word that a young man whose wedding I had participated in had been killed in Iraq.


People all over the world are suffering in many different ways. One of the worst things about suffering is the feeling of helplessness and loneliness. “Where is God?” we wonder.


Punk-Pop music group Green Day recently won nearly a half dozen music video awards for their latest album. The album contains a song about loneliness called I Walk Alone. Take a look at the intense, picturesque images in their words.


“I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known. Don't know where it goes but its home to me and I walk alone. I walk this empty street on the boulevard of broken dreams where the city sleeps and I'm the only one and I walk alone.”

“My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me. My shallow hearts the only thing that's beating. Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me. Till then I walk alone.”


Green Day is singing that they wish “someone” out there would find them so they don’t have to face the world all alone.


Mother Teresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.


The Bible’s book of Philippians was written by a guy named Paul and was actually a letter. He writes this letter as he is sitting in jail. He’s been beaten, arrested and locked up for telling people about God. Soon, he will be executed for the same reason. Paul had every reason to feel alone. He had every reason to feel that life was unfair. Instead of being lost in despair, Paul writes that he is fine and even joyful.


Paul shares his secret with us. He says, “I don’t know if I am going to live or die but I am not worried. No matter what happens, live in a way that brings honor to God. Don’t worry about your troubles. Instead, take them all to God in prayer. Tell Him everything. When you do that, He’ll give you a peace that is far beyond anything we could ever understand. That peace will soothe your troubled heart and mind.”

“God is near. He’s never left you. Choose to think of life’s good things. Put your faith into practice and God’s peace will be with you.”

Dorothy Bernard said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.


Life is not always easy. It may seem like we’re walking alone on a boulevard of broken dreams. The good news is that we never have to walk alone. God is near. He invites us to talk to Him in prayer. He promises to give us a peace in spite of all that’s happening around us even if the thought of being peaceful in hard times seems illogical.


My prayer for you this week is that you’ll remember you’re not alone.

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