What Makes a Good Work ‘Good’?

One of my best friends and I have an annual laugh.  It seems that every year at Thanksgiving his church has a program we call “groceries for God.”  They pile groceries all over the stage and make a big show out of their “giving” to the poor kids at a nearby orphanage.  Everyone goes to the store and puts their bags of groceries on the stage, and people feel good about themselves.  

Unfortunately, my friend is the guy that gets stuck actually loading the groceries into his truck and hauling it out to the recipients.  Usually the place is closed for the holidays and a local caretaker has him stack it “with all the rest.”  Most of the food goes to waste, because all the local churches seem to do the same thing.  Each year my friend points out that this is a giant waste, that they’re giving to someone who already has more than enough … and they all look at him like he’s a mean, ugly, evil man who hates children, thanksgiving and charity.  It cracks me up every year to get the call from him telling me his annual story.  

“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways”?  - Proverbs 1.22

God is compassionate and wants people cared for … because they have a need - not merely to ease one’s conscience or put on a show for their fellows at church.  Jesus said that we don’t do good works to be noticed by men. (In the sermon on the mount, Matthew 6.1)  In other words, these people dragging groceries onto a stage in front of everyone are actually doing exactly the opposite of what their so-called Lord (Master) told them to do!  But it makes them feel better about themselves and assuages the guilt of the wealthy, so my friend needs to learn to shut up and not be such a kill-joy.  

Here we try to do better.  We do better by actually making it our ambition to follow Jesus’ instructions to the letter.  We do what we do because we are God’s servants, and as such we give things that are actually HIS gifts, not ours.  The only reason we even have so much is because God gave them to us to distribute in the first place.

Second, we don’t give to make ourselves feel better … but because we want to help others who might actually starve without it.  This isn’t merely feeding a fat person, it’s allowing someone to live another day!  It isn’t about helping a lazy person, or benefiting someone who could care for himself.  

So…we are selective about who we give to!  That means we have to do some research … to make sure we’re not naively giving to someone who doesn’t really need it, just because it makes us feel good about ourselves.  

Third, we try to be open to criticism.  If someone believes we’re being wasteful or not giving to the most needy first - we are interested in hearing that criticism and making adjustments.  We are not perfect!  So if someone knows how to do it better, we’re all ears.  

Fourth, we’re not interested in glory for ourselves, for Godwor, or for some church.  We are interested ONLY in being compassionate to the needy.  And if they want to thank someone, then (like Jesus, our example) we must insist that they thank God - and only God.  

The Levels of Help

The first level of help is (for example) to feed a starving person.  

The second level of help is to help the starving person feed himself without assistance.

The third level of help is to empower the person to teach others how to feed themselves.  

Each community has leaders within the community (or tribe, or village, or whatever term you choose to use).  It is our belief that Jesus taught us to teach and train this person, and then for that person to use his/her leadership skills within his own group, so that we can move on to another.  For instance, no one knows the plight of the homeless in Costa Mesa like another homeless person.  We may try to help, and even do some good - but the person who is a part of that community is far better at sorting out those who can be helped from those who are playing the system.  This happens to be true in every tribe/village/community - in Southern California or in Zimbabwe or Cambodia.  The locals know local culture and communications and leadership styles better than we’ll ever be able to understand.  We use a term we borrowed from Jesus: “the person of peace.”  Within each group there’s one or two natural leaders.  We try to find them, train them and empower them to help their own.  

As it turns out, Jesus knew what he was doing when (for instance) he sent a Gerasene back to the other Gerasenes rather than allowing him to follow Jesus (Luke 8.38-39).  That’s because Jesus was more concerned with helping people than with having a big following (like modern churches and preachers).  

   What we do is try to rescue people to become rescuers.  

Working with existing, non-church charities

Some people like to start their own thing.  Have you ever done research to see how many groups are trying to give clean water to everyone in the world?  It must number in the hundreds.  Everyone from the UN on down to small groups are all trying to do the same thing.  Instead of starting our own thing, we prefer to find someone who’s already doing it, and doing it wisely and efficiently.  This takes a bit of work and research, but it’s better than doing the same stupid things others are doing and have it fail.  Failures among non-profits are VERY common, but seldom publicized.  Like my friend, if you’re negative about a charity, you may be labeled a ‘bad’ or ‘mean’ person.  But let’s face it - many or most of these charities suck.  They’re absurdly inefficient and all about making the participants feel good about themselves.  If most charities were businesses, they’d be bankrupt.  

Then there are the religious groups.  They do lots of good work, but sadly they usually do so in the name of their own particular church or ministry or denomination.  Very few do so purely in the name of God.  Everyone wants credit.  We don’t believe in a person getting credit.  We want to be anonymous.  First, because that’s the way Jesus said to do it; and second, because we want no one - ever - to be able to say that we’re only trying to bring glory and/or money to ourselves.  It’s all about helping people … not about making ourselves feel better about ourselves.  So, we try to find groups that aren’t promoting a particular religious movement.  We won’t exclude someone for that, but we are very wary of anyone who broadcasts their denominational religious affiliation.  

Explanation of the category

HEAL 101 - Overview

Wisdom according to Godwor



Regularly Give Blood

If you are qualified and in good health, set up a schedule to give blood regularly.  Once you get started and know the drill, invite a friend or two or three … start your own personal blood drive! (Reproduce)

Other Physical Gifts

Are you listed as an organ donor?  Do you know about the bone marrow registry?

Helping Seniors

Sometimes older people need companionship, other times they need help with household chores or finances or …?  Learn about the needs of seniors in your area and help out where you can.  


Visiting & Caring for the sick: Dos & Don’ts

Some of us want to be more active in visiting and helping those who are ill, but don’t know exactly what to do or how  to do it.  There are lots of resources on the web for this, and we hope eventually to put some together here so it’s easy to find and follow some simple steps.  If you are willing to do that research and share your findings here, it would make God smile - and when some sick person gets a visit because you helped give someone else the training and courage to do those visits … it’s a blessing to the sick.  So please help.  

Lindsey found one such site and shared it, so here’s the link.  Check it out, for it is a great example of how to care for the families of kids with cancer:


Lessons Topics

Start Here - Good Sam

Ready to start “healing”?  Click here

Good Samaritan Prep

Start & Maintain a list

Changing habits is hard.  If we want to be like Jesus, we’ll have to change some habits.  One of Jesus’ best qualities was that he didn’t think of himself - he was always thinking about others.   He didn’t just behave selflessly for the sake of self-sacrifice, but rather he was so focused on others that he ‘forgot’ himself.  We use the term: “otherfulness” to describe this condition.  You’ll see it sometimes in, for instance, super-attentive mothers … they’re so consumed with their kids, and caring for them they forget themselves.  

The trick for us is to start moving in that direction.  One cannot simply become “otherful” in one minute … it takes time and effort.  The way to do that is to start by making a conscious effort.  It’s like learning to drive a stick shift - at first it requires concentrated effort, but after a while it’ll become second-nature and happen without thought.

The best way to start this is to have a list or several lists.  It’s all about training yourself to focus on others.  You start writing down names of people you meet and things about them.  Make a note of people who you might like to ask to join you in your teach/heal/reproduce work, and names of people who have needs.  Then pray for these people every day.  After a while your lists will grow long and varied, and you’ll probably only pray for certain people on certain days.  

The cool thing is that if you really start working on this, it will change your life.  You’ll begin to see the world much differently, and you’ll start trying to help people more often.  It’s just human nature.  Also, you’ll begin to see God at work in the world as a result of your prayers!  It’s amazing, but it works.  God will bless you with greater strength, compassion and gratitude while you begin to “heal” others and then they’ll love and respect you more and more and want to be like you … and they’ll praise God for you!  

It all starts with a list … and a will to persist.  

The second most important command in the bible

(and perhaps the most often ignored command)


“Love your neighbor as yourself”