Jonathan’s Birthday List

My birthday is fast approaching (Feb 4) and I’ve already been questioned about what I want for my birthday. My reply was the same as it is for most things birthday or Christmas related, “I don’t want anything.” For the most part I get what I want, if I can afford it and it is a priority to me. So there isn’t much that I really need in the way of “stuff”. I had this idea last year, but I wasn’t quick enough to respond. So this year I would like to supply a list of alternate birthday gifts that anyone can get for me in lieu of “stuff”.

The Gift of Charity

Instead of giving me things that I don’t need or may not like or may like but could really do without, I would like to request that anyone wanting to buy me something for my birthday donate to a charitable cause. Here is a list of charities (mostly Christian based) that allow you to give the gift of donations.

The Voice of the Martyrs – this organization (persecution.com)  does not necessarily have any “gift of donation” or “gift card” options, but it is a very noteworthy cause. They are an inter-denominational Christian organization dedicated to assisting the persecuted church worldwide. Did you know that it is illegal to possess a Bible in many countries? Did you know many Christians worldwide must worship God, pray and read the Bible in secrecy? Did you know that Christians are killed for their faith today!? Consider giving to this cause to be the “hands and feet” of Christ and assist these brothers and sisters around the globe.

MustHaveGifts.org is a Christian organization in the UK that provides charity gifts by supplying real world needs to people in need all over the world. Some examples are Mosquito Nets to prevent Malaria, Scholarships to help educate children in Cambodia or vaccinations for people in Somalia. Don’t you think that these people could use your dollars instead of me?

Present Aid (presentaid.org) is another organization like MustHaveGifts that provides real world needs. Some examples of gifts they provide are a goat for a family, help pay a community doctor’s salary or meals for malnourished children.

TisBest Philanthropy is another provider of “gift cards” for charity. They are not specifically Christian but have “faith based” charities that you can donate to.

Send A Cow is a Christian charity that helps families and communities in Africa by providing education in farming and livestock care and providing essentials for growing crops and even livestock.

JustGive.org – this website has a pretty extensive list of charities that you can donate to. They are not specifically Christian, but they have Christian organizations listed. They provide gift cards and allow you to pick from several designs and either send an E-Card or print a card to send. They also have a Charity Wedding Registry which is a pretty cool idea.

Personal Charities

No, I don’t personally maintain, administer or benefit from the following charities but they are close to my heart.

Aarons Hands – This is actually a very good friend of mine that I’ve known since high school. She had aspirations early on of becoming a doctor, which I’m confident she could have been, but God had something different in store for her. Now she is a part of the Thrive Africa ministry who’s goal is to disciple believers, equip leaders and strengthen the Church in South Africa. She doesn’t have any “gift” type options but I’d be very appreciative of any donations you made to her ministry.

Laura Holmes – This is another dear friend of ours who ministers in Africa, in the country of Lesotho. I don’t have a website for her but you could contact Grace Community Church for instructions on donating to her ministry, which would also be greatly appreciated.

Summary

Well, I guess that’s a good enough birthday list for this year! The point is… give towards a great cause, not just to fatten my pockets or add stuff to my already swelling office. Not only that, but you can take these ideas and extend them to giving for your own family and friends.

NOTE: Some of the above charities are in the UK and the amounts listed on their sites are in GBP (British Pounds), so make sure you do the conversion to know exactly how much you are giving.

2010 New Year’s Resolutions

This year I am posting a much smaller New Year’s Resolution list. Last year proved to be a failure for all of my goals except for one. That’s not to say that having them was worthless; I actually worked on quite a few which helped me make progress last year. However, this year I am narrowing the list down so that I can really focus. So here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010.

1. Work on my relationship with God

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kindgom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Do I really seek God first in my daily life? I can answer a resounding, “no!” The bible says to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” How well do I do this in my life? I don’t think I do it very well at all. So how do I plan on improving this situation?

  1. Ask God’s help. I can really do nothing outside of His will, grace and guidance. So that is the first step.
  2. Reading God’s Word. My wife and some of her friends did a “read the Bible in a year” program last year. I am going to follow along with them this year as a discipline to get myself into God’s Word more every day.
  3. Scripture memorization. This is a rollover from last year. I basically want to finish that resolution and memorize the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John (John 13:31 – John 17:26).
  4. Daily prayer. This should go without saying, but so often there are other things that I fill my life with instead of talking to the creator of the universe.

2. Work on my relationship with my wife

The most important person to me on this entire planet is my wife. She is my mate, my best friend, my comfort… I am entirely in love with her. Yet so often I allow that relationship to become just another “thing” in my life. I’m not entirely sure how I am going to tackle this one so I’ll have to do some prayer, research and brainstorming. The end result is this… I want to love my wife as Christ loves the church. That is how I am commanded to love my wife in the bible (Ephesians 5:25-27).

3. Be consistent with my children’s music training

I have started (many times now) to teach my older two children piano. I really want to get on track with this and invest the time and energy to give my children a solid musical foundation. It has been a large and positive part of my life and I want to give them the best opportunity to make it a part of their lives.

4. Run a marathon

I trained last year and ran my first half-marathon. This is the year of the full marathon! … I hope. I have found an 18 week training program that I think matches with my schedule and style and I really believe that if I work hard I can obtain this goal. Not only has running been a great source of achievement in my life these last few years, but it is also a large source of fitness.

5. Pay off debts

The slog through the mud of debt continues. And while it continues I am in bondage to the creditors and am unable to invest into the kingdom of God as I would really like to. I keep making this resolution every year, but every year I get closer and closer. I’m sure I won’t be entirely debt free at the end of 2010 (unless God performs a miracle), but I would at least like to eliminate everything except for my student loans and one car payment (yeah, we don’t have a mortgage… renters still).

So that’s it for this year. Just five, but I think they are five fairly large goals. I tried to center my resolutions this year (at least the first two) around the priorities that I would like to have in my life. We’ll see how it goes!