Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stewardship Thought From Jack Crawford

Legs swinging in the pew. Clothes scratchy. Clutching a quarter, sometimes two, which Dad just handed out. Prayer ends. Dr. Wymond’s hands start waving. Dr. Patterson is about to preach. Watching eagerly, the plate soon passes - - plink, plink. Sunday after Sunday (of course with some skips). Year after year. Dad and Mom subtly emphasize to my sisters and me the importance of giving to the Church.

In 1983, with my parents’ encouragement, I went on the youth group’s mission trip to Mexico led by Ed Norton. I had never seen people living in cardboard boxes. At the “market”, there were dead chickens and other animals hanging on sticks. In one area of town, with no plumbing, sewage just ran down the middle of the dirt lane. Poverty governed with a wide spread and firm grasp. From this experience, in the mist of the self-engrossed teenage years, I was truly humbled by the incredible monetary and biblical blessings that we have in the United States and at First Pres. as well as at home.

Six years later, as a counselor at Alpine on Lookout Mountain, days before the campers came, I remember struggling with my overwhelming sins compared to Christ’s love and forgiveness - - and realizing that I was truly forgiven. Honestly, from there after, it became and remains a great joy and desire to freely give to Christ’s work.

In addition to the memories above, I remember occasional comments from my parents like “we can’t afford that” or “we choose not to spend our money on those things.” And as the years progressed, I remember discussions about tithing to the church, about supporting various missionaries or supporting RTS. Looking back on it now, I see that there were healthy restrictions on our family’s spending as an outgrowth of my parents’ giving to the church. Now that I am a parent of four children, I appreciate more than ever and am motivated by those healthy restrictions.

So giving 10% of our income the Church, well honestly, that comes naturally, because . . . memories really do encourage a future response. So, are you tithing to the Church? Or are your personal pursuits more important? Do you consider pledge cards a bother or an intrusion? In my house and likely many of yours, there are a bunch of little eyes watching and waiting to emulate their parents every move. And memories - - likely memories of untold future generations - - are all being formed. May they be ones that honor and uplift Christ - - not ourselves.

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