Hello Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today, as I write this, is the first day of Fall and we are getting a lot of rain. I have even heard that Amboy, MN has received 10½ inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Over the past two weeks I have observed the start of harvesting. Fall is also a time when we watch the seasons change from the heat and humidity of summer to the sub-zero temperatures and the feet of snow of winter. We watch the leaves of the trees turn color and drop. Hunting season is here and we pray for the safety of all the hunters. We also adjust to our children being in school, some of whom have left for college. Personally, I am looking forward to my daughter wedding in October and my father’s 80th birthday in November.
Fall is also a time when I begin to think and talk about church matters. Advent and Christmas are soon upon us. Church Conferences (GEUMC) and Annual Meetings (PUC) are around the corner and we need to nominate people for different committees, set salary and produce a budget for 2011.
Which brings me to another Fall subject: stewardship. “Oh no! He’s going to talk about money!” you may be saying to yourself right now. Yes, I will be saying something about money, but stewardship is about so much more: our homes, our environment, our food, our faith, and our money. I want to touch upon faith and money.
Have you been a good steward of the faith God has given you? Do you reinforce and grow that faith so that you can share it with others. You should be reading the Bible a little each day with no other intention but to let it soak in. You should also be praying. For some people, a good 10-15 minute session of prayer is refreshing twice a day. For others, a whole bunch of 30 second prayers throughout the day is good. You should also be involved in some sort of organized study of the Bible. This might be a daily individual study such as you might find in a devotional or this may mean attending a weekly Bible Study. You should also be attending worship services regularly. If you haven’t been for a while come join us this week. If you come once a month, double it to twice a month.
Another aspect of Faith Stewardship is giving. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught that faithful Christians should 1) earn all they could through hard, honest word; 2) save all they can by living frugally and only spending on what was necessary: food, clothing, shelter, and transportation (which meant horses in his day); and 3) give all you can, meaning just about everything you saved. When he first started his traveling ministry he was living on a stipend of about 35 pounds a year. He calculated his expenses at about 12 pounds and he gave away the other 23 pounds to those in need or to fund his health clinics, schools, and chapels. When his stipend went up to 50 pounds, his giving went up to 38 pounds. He hoped all his followers would do the same. He was sorely disappointed. We were good at #1 and #2 but deficient on #3.
What about you? How was your giving in 2010? I know that the miserable economy has affected many, but that does not negate the need to give. If you are not now tithing, that is giving 10% of your income to your church, why don’t you try it in 2011? If you are not tithing and tithing seems too big a step, why not try stepping up your giving? For instance, if you make $50,000 a year and only give $1,000 in 2010 (2%), why not try 3% ($1,500) or 4% ($2,000). You are not tithing, but you are stepping up. Our churches can only do the ministry that your offering pays for. Just imagine what we could do to make disciples and transform the world if everyone tithed. Just imagine.
Imagining the Growth of God’s Kingdom - Pastor Gary