Charitable Giving

Today, I found some very interesting tidbits about our presidential candidates and democratic vice presidential candidate, in the area of charitable giving. Sarah Palin’s tax return has not yet been released to the public.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s tax return indicated that the most he has ever given personally to charitable causes was 5.8% – 6.1%.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Bidens has been “amazingly tight-fisted” in his charitable giving.  Despite income ranging from $210,432 – $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given 0.06% – 0.31% of their income. In 1999, the Bidens gave just $120 to charity. It blows my mind that a couple earning over $200,000 per year would give just $2 per week to charity.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s tax returns show that he gave 27.3% – 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007.  During the same period, the Obamas’ tax returns show that they gave 5.8% – 6.1% of their income to charity.

I know this is not a deal-maker/breaker, but I think it speaks volumes about a person’s character. I believe that the amount of giving reveals the degree of self-centeredness of the individual. Do they really care about others or do they really just love themselves?

So where is your heart? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Women of Faith Conference

Sponge. My mind was a like that of a sponge the last couple of days. I attended the Women of Faith Conference, and I was blown away by so many truths that were spoken to so many women. I don’t know how many women actually “got it,” but I walked away from it being not only refreshed but blessed, challenged, and changed.

If you haven’t heard of Women of Faith, it is a 2 day conference to that speak to the hearts of Christian women. The conference teaches and encourages women through several main speakers, various guest speakers, powerful worship, skits, dramas, etc. Worship led by Nicole C. Mullen was incredible, and I was moved to tears of joy! We took the MARTA the first day, and the subway was packed full of women! There weren’t any men in sight for miles, it was hilarious! The Philips arena was also packed with women in various stages of spiritual walks. I prayed that they would “get it” and be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This year’s theme was “Infinite Grace.” I cried, I laughed my head off, and I learned a great deal of what it means to be totally fulfilled by God’s grace. I learned so much about faith and was deeply inspired to use my faith to make a difference. They spoke a lot on faith, but the greatest thing that I experienced during the conference was POWER. I witnessed God’s power in the Word. I saw God’s power in people, as they spoke, shared, and sang. I felt God’s power in me.

I was drenched in amazement by God’s power and grace.

Your Perception

Everyday, we see people’s behavior and can judge a person. Sometimes, you see somebody in the act, of which you don’t approve. You may see someone drinking. Or flirting with someone. Or cutting someone off the road. In virtually every aspect you can think of. The thing is, when we see an act, we just see that action in the moment, and in many times, we don’t understand the context. We try to understand, ‘why did someone act that way’? We can even ask ourselves, ‘why did I do that’? We tend to look for reasons to explain a person’s behavior. In the process of trying to understand the people around us, and oftentimes, very quickly, we develop a perception of that person. And this gets in the way of the relationships we have, or can have, with others.

There are two ways in which we can explain a person’s behavior. In psychological terms, the two terms are called personal attributions and situational attributions. With personal attribution, you believe that a behavior is caused by an internal factor, in essence, their characteristics. The other type, called situational attribution, explains that a human behavior is a result of an external factor, such as the setting, event, or other people in the environment. Here’s an example. Your classmate came to class very late to the final exam and was unable to take the test. With personal attribution, you can simply think that she had overslept and perceive that classmate to be very careless in their character. In other words, you connect that event to their personality. On the other hand, with situational attribution, you may think that something circumstantial happened, whether she was in a car accident or someone had died in her family, Basically, it was a result of something that happened that is not directly related to their character.

Ultimately, when looking from the outside, you have no idea what the real story is. When something happens to you that isn’t positive, you blame it on the situation or your environment, but when it happens to someone else, it’s easy to attribute the situation to their character. Leave the judging to God because that’s not our job and we don’t do the best job interpreting, anyway. Don’t be quick to judge based on your perceptions. Rather, just focus on building relationships and don’t let those perceptions hinder us from doing that. God entrusted us with relationships, and we can be good stewards of those relationships by treating people the way we want to be treated.