Our church just finished a stewardship conference, I heard this story, and I had to share it with all of you along with some of the things that have really touched my heart because of the conference.
A Grandfather has his grandson for the afternoon and while they are running around grandpa decided to stop by Mc Donald’s. The little boy only wanted some fries and grandpa does not want anything. Therefore, they get the fries and set down at a table. After a little while, the smell of the fries and all the food gets to grandpa and he decides that he would not mind a French fry. Therefore, he reaches over to take one out of his grandson’s fries but his grandson grabs his hand, moves it away, and says, “They’re my fries!”
At first grandpa was shocked. He thought “How dare he tell me they are his, I bought them for him. Therefore, technically they are mine. All I wanted was one, there’s a lot more. I have a twenty in my pocket, I could go buy twenty bags of fries and bury him in fries.”
That is when it hit him; this is just like God. All God asks for is a tithe back, just as the grandpa just wants one French fry. God gives us everything and all he asks is that we give back to Him just like the grandfather. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills he could drown us in blessing just like the grandfather thought he could bury his grandson in fries. We actually block Gods gifts by not giving back to Him and showing Him, we are good stewards of His gifts. God could do so much for us, but we refuse to give back to Him like the grandson with the one French fry.
The big thing about stewardship is when people hear that word they think “oh no, here they go talking about money again,” and this is not it at all. Stewardship is much more than money. Stewardship is time, talent money and even more importantly, the wise use of these three. In fact, stewardship is the wise use of your time, your talents, and lastly, your money. For example, we have a friend who is very cautious because of so many products that come out of China have been found to have lead in them. She will not buy anything made in China and has stopped going to a major chain store because they have such a high amount of products from China. This is Stewardship; she is thinking through her purchases and trying to do the best for her family. This is what God asks us to do, be good Stewards, to think through our purchase and be wise about it. Now get this that makes every purchase something we should be praying about because we are being stewards of what God has given us. As I said before, God gave it all to us, He wants us to use it wisely, therefore, He wants to be involved, and that is why we need to pray about every purchase.
You know I am very practical kind of guy; my whole master’s thesis was about how to teach your children about God. Therefore, let me give you some practical advice, when spending your money try to use Christian businesses. We have been doing this for quite a while. We started with our auto mechanic at least 15 years ago. Since then we have been blessed with this relationship with our mechanic. When we were dirt poor he fixed it so we could get on down the road as cheaply as possible, I am sure those first few years he did not make much money on us. As we got more financially stable he told us to get different cars, some he even sold to us, one time he had a car dealer friend bring us three cars he approved of to test drive, then the guy gave us an incredible deal on the one we chose. The last one is very special to me, we had a van that we had gotten from one of his friends and we ran it all over the US and Mexico and it was going to need some major overhauling. He told us to get a new van, and again, he told us exactly what to get and we did it. He kept the old van and did a lot of the work to get it saleable and then put it on a friend’s lot. Well, with the tough economic times it took longer than all of us thought it would to sell. It finally sold, but it was the last deal of the car dealership because of the economy. Our friend called us and told us the van sold and after everybody took what he or she had put into the vehicle, there was approximately $750 left from the sale price. Our mechanic also explained that the car dealer had lost his business and wanted to know if we could spare the money to help the car dealer. We had a bill due that this was a Godsend for us, but it was only $600 so we told him please give the rest to the Christian car dealer. It was amazing to see how our relationship had come full circle from him helping us out to him knowing that we would help someone else out.
We now have a man from our church who does all of our AC and house repair. He has also been a blessing to us, for one thing, he gives us a good price, but he also does an incredible job. Something I would like to propose to all churches is that they consider getting a Co-op list together of all the Christian business in the church so church members can frequent them. This is like the early church of Acts 2.
44And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
This is the early church and they shared everything almost like a commune. I am not saying we should go back to this, but I think God wants us to use our money to help our fellow Christians, even though they might be a little more, you would be helping a fellow from your Church.
I know when I said Co-op every pastor said “no way.” I can understand why, because he sees that he will end up being referee between church members when something goes wrong; and believe me it will. I have even had a bad experience using a fellow church member, but we talked it out, insurance covered part of it and we went on. Even Christian businessmen have to hire non-Christians and accidents do happen. Satan would have loved it if we had allowed that to drive a wedge between us, but we did not. We are still friends. What you have to realize is, this person is your brother in Christ and you must not break fellowship with this person, you must deal differently with them than a normal business man. For this to work, you must remember that this is a brother in Christ and treat him as such. Fellow Pastors, I encourage you to pray about this, but I believe this is what God is calling us to do.
I have written all of this and spent most of it on money, but I also want to give some practical ways to use your time, talents, and possessions for God. Talent is one thing that is just under used. God has given everyone special abilities and He wants you to use them for His kingdom. Sometimes people do not see them, but why don’t you ask someone close to you what they think your talent is. In the Vietnamese church I work at, there is a handicapped boy who cannot talk and has trouble walking. Most people would say he has no talent that he can give the Lord, but he does. This boy has the most wonderful smile and is always smiling, he loves to greet people as they come in and he walks up and down the hallway leaning up against the wall just waving hi and smiling. He is the best greeter our church has. As I said, everybody has something. I remember when we first decided to have Sharon stay home, we were going to a little church, and we wanted to help out. Therefore, we talked with the Pastor and she became the volunteer secretary from our house. The church bought an attendance program, she put it on the computer and kept up with church attendance, and the program even would print out cards and letters for absentees. While she was at the house they would forward the phones, so while the pastor was out of the office if someone called they would get a live person and the end of the day she would give the pastor his messages, now of course he only lived down the street. I say all of this because what you do for a job my also be the talent you have for God. I really cannot encourage you enough that you need use your talents for God. In seminary, I learned what they call the 80/20 rule. It say that 80% of the work of the church done by only 20% of the people. Please move to the 20%.
The last thing I would like to point out that we need to use for God is our possessions. For example, our biggest possession is usually our house. Some of my favorite stories are about having after school Bible hours. What this is, is after school someone opens up their home, and feeds the kids a small snack and then they gather the kids around the TV and they put in a Veggie Tale movie, Bible story on tape, or an Adventure in Odyssey. There are thousands of them out there. You could do this once a week or work with several other moms in the area and you could have it at a different house everyday or at one house and take turns with the snack. This could change the lives of so many kids.
You could have a Bible study in you home. You say, “I can not teach.” With technology, that is not a problem. They have CD series with Bible studies; all you have to do is pop in the CD and maybe supply the cookies and coffee or juice.
Since Sharon has been laid up with a broken leg and cannot drive, she has seen the need for a ministry to help people get to their doctor’s appointments. Sharon is working with the church while she still has the broken leg on getting the details worked out so she can do this when she can drive.
The one that I remember most is a food ministry. This is where someone is in the hospital or someone passes on. The church comes together and a different person takes them a meal each day. When Sharon’s mom passed, I remember how important this was to us. We had been at the funeral home all day until 9 pm. It was in a little town that pulled up the sidewalks a 5 pm. We were tired and hungry and there was nothing in the refrigerator. We came home and by the back door, there was fried chicken, a casserole, and some incredible brownies. You can tell how important that was to me, I still remember this meal after 15 years. Something little like this really ministered to my soul.
I have just touched the surface of ideas. I encourage you to be creative and come up with some ideas of your own.