Trust You Can Bank On

Trust You Can Bank On

General
A bank manager was asking questions to get the information he needed to process a loan. “Do you have any outstanding debts?” he asked the woman making the application. “Any loans that you are paying off?” “Yes. I have a commitment to my church.” “What I meant was, are you making payments on furniture or a car, for example. Do you have any other loans to pay off?” “No. I don’t have any other indebtedness—only my tithe to my church.” She mentioned the amount per month that she had pledged. “Well, that’s fine. But we don’t have to include that on this loan application. It’s not a legally binding obligation.” “It may not be legally binding, but it is a personal commitment.” “Well, the reason I don’t have to include…
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Stewardship and the Economy of God Reprint Available

Stewardship and the Economy of God Reprint Available

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Stewardship and the Economy of God by John H. Reumann has been reprinted and is now available through Wipf and Stock Publishers. Originally published in 1992, Stewardship and the Economy of God traces the history of stewardship in biblical and historical contexts. Author John Reumann, now deceased, was a professor of New Testament Studies at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Reumann was intrigued by the concept of Christian stewardship from his student days through his educational career. As he notes in his introduction, the book represents "forty years of attention to the Greek word family that gives us 'steward' and 'stewardship' in the New Testament and subsequent Christian usage." Not only does the book explore past understandings of stewardship, but also gives theological insights into the role of stewardship in…
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From “Doing Enough” to Experiencing Jesus

From “Doing Enough” to Experiencing Jesus

General
For many years as a leader in an Episcopal congregation, I had been talking up the need for people to be more giving of themselves. I always seemed to do my part. I was serving on vestry in the role of rector’s warden. I would bring food for our homeless guests who stayed with us every seventh week through the Interfaith Hospitality Network ministry. I was at church for all the special events. I was actively participating, and on the surface this looked good, but I was not challenging myself to move more deeply and directly into the social ministries of the Gospels. I realized, through much prayer and reflection,that it was time for me to lead more by action and less by words. Thus, I was off to Uganda…
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Heavenly Motivation

Heavenly Motivation

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The story of the widow’s mite is a familiar event in the life of our Lord. A widow gave all her money in a temple offering and thereby received the praise of the Master of Life himself. The actual amount given was a pittance—less than one penny in today’s money—but the extravagance was that it represented all she had. The story is generally perceived to be about giving. Clearly that element exists, but there is another we might fail to see. Jesus also had been watching the Pharisees give. They gave big bucks and were quite open about it. Everyone knew their giving record; indeed, they made certain it was known. Seeing the Pharisees, Jesus pointed to the widow. Imagine Jesus sitting with the temple leaders—the Sadducees—observing people as they…
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Registration Opens for Stewardship in Scripture Online Course

Registration Opens for Stewardship in Scripture Online Course

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Registration is now open for the online course Stewardship in Scripture that begins September 5. Stewardship in Scripture is jointly offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center (ESC) and transformingthechurch.org. Rev. Bruce Barkhauer, Minister of Faith and Giving for the Center for Faith and Giving of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is the instructor. Stewardship in Scripture features four video lessons that students can view at their convenience, and three live conference calls on September 15, 22, and 29. With the understanding that stewardship encompasses more than money, Stewardship in Scripture students will gain a rich and diverse understanding of biblical stewardship principles. Topics include theology of abundance, the importance of generosity, stewardship as transformation, stewardship of the Gospel, and more. .7 CEUs are available. Stewardship and Scripture is one of…
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Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds

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We cannot do everything. God's reign is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our seeing and knowing. We plant seeds, knowing that they hold hope for the future. We lay foundations that will need further development. There is a sense of liberation, however, in realizing that. We can do something, and we can do it very well. We can take that first step knowing that we may never see the end of the road, the results of actions, the recipients of our giving. We receive and offer the gift of hope. The harvest will come. I am a dirt gardener. Many of my days are spent "growing dirt," preparing the soil for future plantings. That is an act of hope. We know that we are only workers, not…
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Faithful in All Things

Faithful in All Things

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I have two friends who, in different cities, lead intentional communities: persons who live under one roof, share space, share income, and try to minister in their neighborhood. They do this because they understand all things as a gift from God. They do this because they are trying to live in solidarity with their neighbors who are poor or homeless. The early chapters of the New Testament book of Acts tell us of a similar community, with some episodes (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 4–5) that seem pretty harsh to us. However, we do not find this pattern of Christian life in the rest of the New Testament. But such communities, both in the first century and now, remind us that we are responsible, as stewards, to be faithful, to use…
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Navigating the Jungle of Wedding Gifts

Navigating the Jungle of Wedding Gifts

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Faith influences many of our decisions in life: how and where we live, what jobs or careers we pursue, and what we buy. At least that is our hope. As we were preparing for our wedding earlier this fall, Shawn and I reflected on our desire to live simply. By living simply, I mean that we want to bike, walk, or bus instead of drive, read a book instead of watch TV, cook together instead of eat out, and engage in any number of other “slow” living practices. We do this as a way to have a richer experience of life, to tread more lightly on our Mother Earth, and to live out our faith by generally attempting to counter our culture of haste and thoughtless consumption. We thought about…
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“Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity” Stewardship Theme Emphasis Now Available in Spanish

“Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity” Stewardship Theme Emphasis Now Available in Spanish

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A stewardship resource based on the theme "Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity" is now available in Spanish. The “Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity” theme uses 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 as its Scripture reference. This 18-page digital resource includes an easy-to-use plan for creating a four-week stewardship emphasis based on four sub-themes: “Giving Our Day”, Giving the Sabbath”, “Giving Our Spiritual Gifts in Service”, and “Giving Our Money”. Four Bible studies, four devotionals, sermon starter ideas, and a children’s story are also  included. The cost for the Spanish Stewardship Emphasis is just $7.99. It can be ordered online in the ESC Web Store, or by calling the ESC office (toll-free in Canada and the US) at 855-278-4372, or via e-mail to office@stewardshipresources.org. Discounts are available for distribution of this digital resource to multiple recipients.…
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I Was Sick and You Visited Me

I Was Sick and You Visited Me

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Parkinson’s-induced dementia was the diagnosis. Whatever the doctors called it, we just knew that our mother was gone, and in her place was a confused and sometimes difficult elderly lady. Slowly, Mom had lost her ability to walk, to care for herself, and finally to speak. She lived out her final years in a care home. My father, my sister, and I divided up the week so that Mom would have a visitor every day. My “shift” was Wednesday and Sunday evenings. I wish I could say that I always joyfully looked forward to those times. Although she recognized me, Mom could not call me by name. She did seem to enjoy hearing the news of my days, so I learned how to make conversation that didn’t require a reply.…
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