He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pride? or Dignity?

Do you remember the neighbor I spoke about in another entry who the LORD used to teach me a lesson on giving??..If not
read about it here

Well, He's at it again...using the same neighbor!! I am so convicted and encouraged at the things that are revealed about my heart...
it gives me great confidence that the LORD is at work in me and that His promise to complete that good work that He began in the beginning is real, and it's TRUTH

As many of you know, in our first year of marriage I was in hair school, so of course ya girl has skills when it comes to the curling irons and such..lol
I was talking to Kevin the other day, explaining to him the story about our neighbor whose hair I take care of, missed her appointment this past week with me. I went to visit her to find out what happened and to offer my services to cover the time that she missed. She then went on to explain to me how she didn't have any money at the time; but, she did want to reschedule her appointment with me just closer to her pay day. I then explained to her how she didn't have to pay me, and that even if she didn't have the money I would be more than glad to do her hair for free.. She says ,"No"...I want to pay you"... Then I respond again with ,"you are very kind, but really it's ok...you don't have to pay me." to make a long story short, we go back and forth about her paying and me not wanting her to...
Clearly, after that conversation, I start to feel a little convicted..those of you who know me well know that the "biblical counselor" in me stated to come out..(you know, that little person in me that wants to be the next Lou Priolo or Martha Peace..lol)
SO I started praying asking the Lord," LORD, what is it? is she being prideful? why is it such a big deal for her to pay me..i think its pride Lord"...
As I was going over this in my mind, it hit me "nicole, that isn't always the case, remember what your husband has been teaching you about dignity"

oh snap!! that's it...

Let me share with you a little something I've come to learn about our neighbors...They are HARD working people who want to provide for their family just like the next person, this is not a family who is looking for handouts. When they have a need and you give to them, they accept it as a blessing..but they don't like to feel like a charity case. For me, to be honest, when I thought about us ministering to the poor I was thinking we are coming to give, and that may be true in some cases, BUT most importantly we are here to EMPOWER a community. We are here to give the resources we have to empower them to provide for their own families, so that they are not robbed of their dignity or made irresponsible by a workless welfare system. We have a biblical example of helping the poor in Lev 19:9-10 where God said to leave the corners of the fields uncut so the poor could have food. But the grain was not cut, bundled, processed, ground, bagged, transported and delivered to the poor, provided they were able, the poor were to go to the fields and do the work themselves. The Bible teaches empowerment, not dependency, and this is what I see in the heart of my neighbor who was created in God's image; resulting in her inheriting dignity.

I once read a quote by Bob Lupton; who is the President of FCS Urban Ministries, which says..
"”Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day, teach them how to fish and they will eat for a lifetime; if they have the skills to access or own the pond. A commitment to empowerment moves us to create an atmosphere where men, women, and young people in under served communities can grow to become contributing members of society. Instead of giving people hand outs and focusing on trying to make people’s lives ‘better’, empowerment focuses on creating opportunities for the poor to break out of poverty and dependence, so that they can provide for their own needs and the needs of their families."

Its amazing what the LORD has taught me through one missed hair appointment.. In the end I discovered I was the one with the Pride issue

PLEASE click here and read this thought provoking article on empowerment by Randy Alcorn entilted "Helping the Poor and the Homeless"..and please continue to pray for me as I learn more and more about myself as we serve on staff with common ground

much love!