Are you a giver or a taker...
I am going to hit you with an in your face question: Are you a giver or a taker? Now immediately we say, "I'm a
giver, through and through!" That's fantastic! So, you won't mind taking the giver/taker test will you?

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put
into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  Luke 6:38

Take a second and reflect on these questions:
Am I grateful for things that are done for me? Or do I have an entitlement mentality?
When asked to do something, or to serve, does it have to be on my terms?
Do I give expecting the receiving party to reciprocate in some way?
Do I find that those who around me tend to be takers?
If you said yes to any of the above you, you may be a taker. Takers are ungrateful. You can never do enough
for them. Takers want things done their way and on their terms. Takers always have an ulterior motive when
giving. And takers tend to attract takers. On the other hand, givers are the most appreciative people on the
planet. Givers will do whatever it takes to meet a need or to serve. It is never about them. Givers freely give,
without expectation or reciprocation, because they understand the concept of grace. And because in life we
tend to attract those like us, givers are blessed, happy and fulfilled people because people are pouring into
their lives.

How did you score? Remember you are never more like God than when you give? "For God so loved the world,
He GAVE His only begotten Son..." Pour yourself into someone today. You'll be glad you did.
Excerpts from Messages From Pastor Todd, First Altamonte Church, Orlando, FL:
Click here for: An Essay on Christianity by Trista Snyder - excellent!
Several years ago Trish and I got turned on to this new Japanese restaurant in Mount Dora. The food was
good and the price was great! We told everybody we knew about this new find of ours. We wore that place out!
Here's the point- we found something that was enjoyable, satisfying and of value to us and we wanted to share
it with others. Listen to what God has to say about sharing,

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as
well, because you had become so dear to us."                          1Thessalonians 2:8

"Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to
share."                                                                                                         1Timothy 6:18

"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is
pleased."                                                                                                        Hebrews 13:6

We get so excited about the most trivial of things, don't we? A good restaurant, a great play on Sports Center,
a heart warming movie on Lifetime (for you woman!). We love to share these experiences with others. Yet when
it comes to sharing the things most precious to us, our faith, it becomes difficult to share. I wonder why that is?
When was the last time you went up to someone and said, "Let me share with you this nugget of truth I got from
reading God's Word today." Or, how about slowing down long enough to share your time with someone who
just needs someone to listen to them talk out their problems. Sharing goes much deeper than giving of our
money, it's giving of our lives. Yes, you have a lot to share, don't keep it to yourself!
Point to Ponder: What is exciting in our hearts flows out our mouths!
Question to Consider: What good thing in your life can you share with others today?
God is a paradoxical God. He tells us that whoever wants to be the greatest must become the servant to all. If
you want to save your life you have to first lose it. In giving we get. And, when you are at your weakest, God's
strength is the strongest in our lives. Hmmm? God tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10,

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so
that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in
hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

We are a strength driven society. Big dog gets the bone. Survival of the fittest, yada, yada, yada. But the
principle here is that God shines in the midst of our struggles. God's power is manifested in our powerlessness.
...Often times in our blessing of strength we suck up the glory that He alone deserves.
Cleaning House...
Have you ever noticed how much we clean up when people we value or esteem come over? When the
mother-in-law comes into town, we clean the house. When you have an important meeting in your office, the
desk gets tidied up. Strange how that works. Believe it or not, there is a spiritual principle here, and it is found
in 1 John 3: 2-3,

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that
when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him
purifies himself, just as he is pure."

We have a meeting with the Creator of the universe. He is coming into town. Not quite sure when, but He's
coming. The question is, how will He find our house (lives)? Will it be clean or in need of some touching up?
The Bible says that everyone who has the hope of His return purifies himself (gets clean). For some of us,
maybe we just need to freshen up a bit, others may need to have an all out cleaning spree, others maybe an
extreme home makeover! What is it in our lives that we would be ashamed or embarrassed about if Jesus
suddenly decided to show up today? The free, inviting life is one that continually keeps itself clean through
daily reading of the Word and confession of sin. When we clean up daily, there never is a big pile of mess to
tackle! Well, Jesus is coming, so let's go clean the house!
Give God your all...
Jesus was always observing. Nothing got past His eyes and no teaching moment went unused. Such is the
case in Mark 12:41-44,

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money
into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very
small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth,
this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she,
out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

As the disciples and Jesus were watching people put their money in the offering, no doubt they were impressed
with the size of contribution some were giving. Then comes this little widow woman putting in her tiny little
offering.  Jesus tells the boys that she gave more than anyone.  Seeing their shock Jesus teaches the deep
principle of giving; it's not the size of the gift, it is the size of the heart giving the gift. True giving emanates from
the heart. All the others were giving what they could afford, she gave all she had. Did you hear that? She gave
all she had. When you offer anything to Christ, whether it is time, talent or your treasure, He wants your all into
it. Let's give God our all today!
Who won't you talk to...
Jesus loved breaking the rules- in a good way! On several occasions, Jesus broke the man made Sabbath rule
of doing nothing by healing someone. This ticked off the religious leaders of His day. In John chapter four,
Jesus is once again redefining how people are to live. Let me set the stage- the Jewish people could not stand
the Samaritans, and the feelings were mutual. Jewish people did not converse or associate with Samaritans
and Jewish men certainly did not talk with Samaritan woman. So you can understand the shock of the disciples
when they run up on Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. Let's pick up the conversation in verse nine
through fourteen,

"The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a
drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who
it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. "Sir," the
woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you
greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his
flocks and herds?" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks
the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up
to eternal life."

There you go, Jesus once again is redefining the social code of His day! Let's get straight to the point- who is it
you have considered taboo to talk to about Jesus? I know we would say, "no one", but is that really true? Would
you talk to the skin head, neo-Nazi, tattoo covered, body pierced, foul mouthed individual who stands against
everything you believe in? Tough question- even for me! But, it is a question that must be asked- and
answered! Did Jesus really die for everybody? And if He did, doesn't everybody deserve the opportunity to
hear about His amazing love and unbelievable offer of salvation? (For the record, that was a rhetorical
question. Jesus did die for ALL mankind!) Who is He going to use in the lives of those around us? Jesus has
this drink called the Living Water, one taste and you'll never thirst again. I love Jesus' use of imagery here.
Once you have truly had a dose of Jesus, there is no need to go back to anything else. He satisfies-
completely! He is a one stop satisfaction shop! So, drink up!