Devoted to Generosity

As I write this, there is a family text chain going around that promotes an article entitled: “Science Says Decorating for the Holidays Early Makes You Happier.” There are several in my family for which this is all they need to sneak the red and green in with the orange of Halloween. As tempted as I am to tell you there are only “X” number of days left before Christmas, I won’t. Instead I want to suggest that we have a lot to celebrate in the month
of November!

November is the month of thanks-giving! It is a time to pause and reflect on all that God has blessed us with in our lives. As part of our reflection, for the first three Sundays in worship, we will be focusing on the stewardship theme: Devoted to Generosity. This focus will end with a dedication of the financial pledge cards at the November 17th service. It will be a great day of celebration as we join with our Cambodian congregation for a joint Thanksgiving service. You will be receiving more information in the mail to remind you of this special focus. But now is the time to reserve the 17th for our Thanksgiving service and dinner.

If you are like me, you may find yourself getting weighed down by the everyday news. It seems that every day we grow further and further apart and away from being the people God would have us be. So, I thought I would share a good news story with you.

A few weeks ago, I was called down from my office to meet with one of our regular guests from the drop-in-center. Someone that is well known to the staff and well liked. As we sat down to talk, he shared his story with me. He had put his bank card into the cash machine at his bank and evidently did something the machine did not like and it kept his card (I have had this happen to me!). When he came to us, he had spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the bank to issue him another card but was having no luck. His rent was due, and you know the rest of the conversation – could we help him out with his rent? I asked how much he needed. As I have told you before, one of the personal priorities I set for our Fellowship Fund is to help keep people in their housing and off the streets. When he told me the amount, it was well above the guidelines that have been set for the Fellowship Fund. I informed him that I could not make the decision on my own to pay that amount but would have to talk with the Executive Committee. He said he understood and that I should tell the committee that it will be a loan and he will pay it back. I laughed and said to him, “I have to tell you, everyone who wants financial help tells me they will pay it back.” To which he responded, “I will!”

To make a longer story short… I was so impressed by the generous spirit of the leadership of this congregation. They gave me permission to cut a check to the landlord for the rent that would keep him in his place for another month. He was happy and I was happy because of the church leadership’s willingness to demonstrate such a generous spirit. When I informed him that we would be able to help him I told him that we did not consider it a loan. I said that God has blessed us, and we have been called to bless others
when we can.

Oh, one more piece of the story that you should know. Recently I had a call to come down to the reception area. There stood the person we had helped, cashier check in hand for three-fourths of what we had given him, and the promise to bring in the remainder amount once his banking account is straightened out.

God is good and you have chosen faithful leaders! Thank you for your past generosity and for your continued willingness to support the ministry of First Baptist. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. See you in worship if not before.

— Pastor Sam Brink