When I was growing up, my family and our community taught me…by their example … how to give generously to the Lord. I never actually saw their “Sunday offering” ... I didn’t need to … I saw their example … I saw them give of their time, their talent, their treasure. And when it was time to build a new church building I saw one person buy cinder blocks, another drive to Houston for a truck load of sheetrock and others provide the necessary labor. Everyone gave of themselves. Their example of sacrifice and stewardship is one that remains with me to this very day.
As a child, each week I eagerly gave my offering at church and with that offering, I worshiped God. However, that offering was not mine to give. It came from my parents. It was never mine until I had my first “paying job.”
And that happened in 1960 when I entered an internship with the Baptist Hospital and received a stipend of $25.00 a month! Not exactly big bucks, but … it was my very first … my very own “earned” income. Then I was able to give a portion back to God of what He had given to me. By giving a tithe, I was trusting God, and … God was trusting me to obey. It was a “win-win” situation.
Elton and I have been married for over 50 years. Sure, there have been times when giving our tithes and offerings was difficult. We are no different than any of the rest of you. Things happen…people get sick, they work on commission, they lose their jobs, they take on unforeseen responsibilities … the list goes on and on. Sometimes it just isn’t easy, but God honors our obedience to Him. I know that the tithe belongs to the Lord. I have always known that. But it is the offerings we give above and beyond the tithe that we give joyfully. This is when that we give out of grace.
In our fellowship hall is the “Cloud of Witnesses” painting by Shawn Kingston Bridges. In it I see the faces of many people from Baptist Temple during the 70’s and 80’s. But, I am also reminded of that great “cloud of witnesses” at Baptist Temple who had struggled through the depression of the 30’s, were facing a second world war and yet they built this very sanctuary, not just for themselves but for us and the generations to come. Everywhere we look, in every building we have, we are surrounded by tangible evidence of their sacrifice and stewardship.
I am reminded of a poem … “The Bridge Builder.” It tells of an old man walking a lonely highway who came to a deep chasm filled with rushing water. He crossed it without fear and immediately turned to build a bridge. An observer asked him, “Why? Why would you bother to build a bridge here? You are old. You are never going to pass this way again.” The man replied, “A young person will follow me someday and this chasm may prove to be too difficult. I’m building this bridge for him.”
Our campaign is about continuing ministry for future generations. I think of it as “building a bridge for that young person who will follow us.” We are prepared to make sacrifices to make that happen.
I challenge you to be a “bridge builder”, too. Please pray about your participation in our “Heartstrong for CHRIST” campaign.