To Think About & Discuss

Stewardship

02
Dec

A Gift of Value

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

In Mark 14:3-9 we find an event described in the last week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus: His anointing at Bethany.

Mark tells of an expensive gift of pure nard used by Mary to anoint the head of Jesus at a gathering in a local home.  With his disciples and others in attendance some start to grumble at the waste of this valuable gift on the head of their rabbi. Anointing with Nard

However noble their reasons for objecting (it could’ve been sold for money to help the poor), they missed the importance of worship and giving our best back to God in that particular moment.

Certainly this perfume was very valuable – 300 denarii, a year’s wages in those days.  We might view this as contradictory, love for neighbor versus love for God, but the lesson here is that God receives gladly the gifts we value.

As you pray about your pledge to First Presbyterian church, meditate on the fact that God owns all of creation.  He gives us abundant resources to steward and one way we show our gratitude is to give back to Him those things that we highly value.

May we be willing to give up what is valuable to us for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Some material taken from Tabletalk Magazine, October 2016

03
Nov

Stewardship Update

By Barbara Macczak
The end of the year is quickly approaching. To date, we have been blessed with more than $155,000 in Pledges. As Allen Moyer has presented, we must examine our hearts to determine what soil we are most like. We should ask: What is my heart like? Where will my heart lead me as I consider how best to use my money and my talents, essentially my gifts from God?

Please read these thoughts from Kim-Marie Coon. When I read this, I was reminded of Matthew 13:16-17. “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

-Barbara

When I Said I Wanted to Start Tithing

by Kim-Marie Coon

When I said that I wanted to start tithing, someone asked me if I was tithing on my gross or on my net income. Well, net… I don’t actually get the other part; the government gets it. Then they asked me if I wanted to be blessed on the gross or on the net. Dang.

That is a surprisingly hard question. Of course I want to be blessed on the gross, but I don’t want to have to give up any more than I have to. It’s mine. I need it. Then just as I was fretting that answer, a check came in the mail. It was a refund from the IRS six months after tax day. It seems my accountant dropped a zero on my withholding. The difference in what I owed and what I paid was substantial.

Now the question became more pressing. Do I want to take money from a God who blesses me, or do I want to send it out and bless others with it? Do I want to take the grace God has shown me and show it to others, or do I want to hoard it for myself?

To me, this is what the parable of the sower is saying when it talks about the seed thrown on the bad soil not sprouting into grain. We’re the soil, God’s grace is the seed.

Some people don’t even notice God’s grace when it’s been given – those people are the hard path, the grace gets carried away without ever making an impact.

Some people notice, but don’t acknowledge that it’s from God: “Well, that was a lucky break!” Those people are the rocky ground. Something sprouts, but not enough to take root in their lives.

Some people receive God’s grace, but don’t reflect it out into the world. “I deserved it, you don’t.” Those are the sprouts that get choked out by the weeds of the world. God says I should know better, but the world says I earned it, it was for me and me alone.

Then there are those who receive the grace of God and feel every tiny seed of that blessing. God has given me a good life. I love my life and I love my God. God would want me to share some of my blessings with others as he shared those blessings with me. Those are the people who bless the world “one hundred, sixty or thirty times as much.”

God looks out for me. I feel every tiny seed and I want to be the fertile soil in which it grows. Pledging isn’t as hard as it seems. I have mine set up automatically so I don’t even notice that it’s gone. I don’t have to write a check. I don’t have to think. I don’t have be tempted to take it back because it’s mine. It’s not mine. Everything I have been blessed with was a gift from God. All I have to do is give a little of it back.

20
Oct

What Are You Learning from the Parable of the Sower?

By Barbara Macczak

Do you bear good fruit for Christ? Or, do you spend your time, talent and treasure constantly acquiring more toys, clutter and junk. Our time, our talent and our treasure are gifts that God has given us. What we do with them is our gift back to God.
sower

We are all called to graciously give back to the Lord in proportion to the blessings we have been given. This means everyone isn’t called to give the same amount, but is called to give equal sacrifice. No amount is too small or insignificant! Open your heart, how is God calling you?

A person’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart. Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the gospel. May our faith and our lives exemplify the “good soil” in the Parable of the Sower.

10
Oct

Thoughts on the Parable of the Sower and Stewardship

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

The Parable of the Sower is found in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8.

Let’s review where the seed falls. Some fell on the path and the birds came and ate it. Some fell on the rocky soil and while it grew quickly it withered away because it couldn’t grow roots. Some fell among weeds and the good plants were choked by them. Some fell on fertile soil and produced a hundred-fold yield.

Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
Let’s now add some context to this story. Most Galileans, like most people in the Roman Empire, were rural farmers. Many ancient sources speak of plowing fields before sowing, but others clearly speak of sowing before plowing and Jesus chooses the latter in presenting this parable. Much of the soil in the Holy Land is rocky. There is thistle (thorns) that is common around roads and can reach more than three feet, typically in the month of April. The average yield of seed in ancient Israel was probably between seven and a half to tenfold. Finally, ancient legal sources show that feuding, rival farmers occasionally did sow poisonous plants (called darnel) in one another’s fields.

Jesus explains this parable to his disciples. This parable pertains to the individual’s response to the Word of God. One hears and doesn’t understand, and the word is snatched away. One hears and initially responds with joy but only for a little while. One hears but clings to the things of this world. One hears and understands and a harvest is produced.
So what does stewardship have to do with this parable?

Sowing seeds starts the process of growth and we all should be good stewards of God’s Word as we sow this seed in the kingdom here on earth.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” A biblical understanding of stewardship rests on the foundation that God is the creator and owner of all things. We really don’t own anything. What we have comes from the Lord. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We belong to him.
1 Chronicles 29:14 says, (David prays) “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” We can however, return to God a portion of that which is God’s and we offer this portion not out of duty, but as a response to God’s gracious love for us.
Stewardship is not a particular once-a-year church activity. It is a way of life that puts God first in all things. Jesus is the very model of stewardship. He used the gifts God entrusted him with to teach, preach, and heal.

When we listen to appeals for better stewardship of our money, our hearts may be like one of the soils. Some hearts may be likened to the hard path where the seed of the stewardship message can easily be devoured. Some hearts may be like a rock that at first allows the appeal for stewardship to gain a brief but rootless hold on our hearts, but which later results in shriveled support for faithful stewardship because of the temptation of other uses of our money. Some hearts may be the thorny “plants”, i.e. concerns, riches, and pleasures that choke out the good fruit of faithful, committed stewardship. Some hearts may be like good soil that provides fertile ground for spiritual growth through faithful stewardship of our money.
We should ask: What is my heart like? Where will my heart lead me as I consider how best to use my money and my talents, essentially my gifts from God?

08
Dec

Stewardship is about GIVING GIFTS

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Biblical scholars have long had varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of each of the gifts given to the Christ child by the Kings from the East. These gifts of value were standard gifts for a king: gold as precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

IMG_0757There’s also a deeper spiritual meaning as well specific to Jesus himself: gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming.
In our culture today gift-giving often takes a back seat to gift-receiving when we think about the holiday season. But to truly grasp the meaning of Christmas to a saved sinner, we need to focus on both receiving and giving gifts.

The birth of Jesus is the ultimate supernatural “gift” God gives to us – this little child, God in the form of a man, coming to our world with the express purpose to save us from our sin-tangled lives. This is the gift we receive each and every day, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

That very fact should bring us to our knees and cause the most joyful celebration in our hearts, and it’s in that celebration of what God has done for us, that we find our motivation to give back to God and to others. The gift we give back is ourselves.

May you and your family be blessed by the joy of this Christmas season.

02
Dec

Stewardship is about SUPPORT and SACRIFICE

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Mark Allen Powell suggests in his book, Giving to God, that faithful giving within a church is of two different types:

  1. Providing support to the congregations of which Christians are a part, with reasonable contributions proportionate to their income and circumstances
  2. Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
    Allen Moyer
  3. Christians usually moved by Scripture and the Spirit who go beyond providing support to give up a further portion of their money as a sacrifice

The good news of stewardship is found in the arena of sacrificial giving.

Why should you consider extending your financial support to financial sacrifice? Powell has three suggestions:

  1. Giving away our money is a definitive act of worship – we take something of value and give it up as an act of devotion to God.
  2. Giving away our money is a demonstrable way of expressing our faith, of acting on what we believe.
  3. Giving away our money is a spiritual discipline that frees us from the inevitable pull of materialism that would draw our hearts away from God and from the things that matter most.

As we head toward the home stretch in our stewardship campaign, I again want to urge you to give prayerful consideration to pledging your financial support to First Presbyterian Church – We are about 40% toward our commitment goal. If you haven’t pledged yet, I’m asking for your support of our church’s mission in the coming year.

There are crucial times ahead for our church, and if you’re one who is hesitant about committing financial resources until important decisions have been made and questions resolved, realize that it’s important that the work of the church continue even through difficult and challenging circumstances.
Thank you for your financial support and sacrifice.

16
Nov

Stewardship is about NEW BEGINNINGS

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
Allen Moyer

I had the privilege of attending a Sunday afternoon worship service in our own sanctuary on November 15th – I’m speaking of Emanuel Fellowship Church, who began holding afternoon services this past Sunday at First Presbyterian Church.

Walking into the church I felt myself a visitor amongst a small, but vibrant congregation and often I had to remind myself that this was taking place in our own church building.

I was warmly welcomed by all who attended and while my Spanish is woefully lacking, I was able to follow Pastor Valentin’s sermon from Genesis 6 – The story of Noah and his family.

He spoke particularly of New Beginnings – God working in this righteous man and his family to renew his creation – And certainly in this fledgling congregation with which we have recently partnered.

Opening our doors to Emanuel Fellowship Church is a new adventure for First Presbyterian Church, but I can’t help thinking its good stewardship to use our God-given resources in outreach ministry to foster New Beginnings among our Christian brothers and sisters regardless of differences in culture or language.

If we as a congregation believe we see God’s hand in the creation of this new relationship, we need to seriously consider the importance of our individual role in providing the financial resources necessary to continue our ability to serve in this way. Prayerfully ask God to direct your decisions about pledging financial support for our church.

I will not soon forget Pastor Valentin’s excitement in our conversation after the service, about the potential to grow his church in this “new” location – Praise God for this opportunity to be part of a New Beginning at First Presbyterian Church and Emanuel Fellowship Church.

10
Nov

Stewardship is an EXPRESSION of FAITH

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
Allen Moyer
In the Bible there are many examples of “good” and “bad” stewards. (See Matthew 21:33-43, 24:45-51, 25:14-30 and Luke 16:1-10) – Good stewards are described as being faithful, wise, and trustworthy.

Bad stewardship is not just a matter of negligence or carelessness but often a fundamental misunderstanding or false claim regarding ownership – Sometimes we forget that the property entrusted to us is actually not our own.

We all live in this world as stewards of God, entrusted with caring for all that God so generously allows us to use. We own nothing but manage everything.

God trusts us in a way that we are reluctant to trust each other (or ourselves) and places confidence in us beyond anything that our record thus far would seem to warrant. We should at least realize what a high privilege it is, to be stewards of God.

We offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us – ourselves, our time, and our possessions…

Paraphrased from Giving to God by Mark Allan Powell.

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