Jesus is the greatest gift, and He never stops giving

On October 6th we experienced a marvelous worship service celebrating the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking to build the “new” Nardin Park church.   To express their appreciation for 50 years of ministry, we received over 100 contributions in the amount of $5,256.  In the photo are people who were a part of the Nardin Park congregation at the time of groundbreaking.

The groundbreaking was the start of a new journey for this congregation.  Our thanksgiving for the 50th anniversary is not simply an act of appreciation for brick and mortar, but a deep gratitude for the women and men who were striving to be active disciples of Jesus Christ.

This Jesus has been with me for a lot of years.  He is with me every time I stand in the pulpit and try to share his Word.  He is there as I stand over graves and try to offer understanding and hope.  He is there as I stand before young couples dedicating their lives to one another in marriage, or when they are presenting their child for baptism.

I don’t know what I would have become if Christ had not come into my life.  He is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive, and he never stops giving.  Every gift I have given and every gift I will ever give is just one small way of saying thank you, God, for caring enough to come to me and never leave.

My heart is filled to overflowing when I hear how people experience Christ at Nardin Park, whether it is in the nursery, or the classroom, or the choir room, or a mission event, or a worship service.  I know that healthy churches are in the business of changing lives and making the world a better place.

Recently, I read about a pastor who started a youth group from scratch by going to the local middle school and high school and extending an open invitation to a Sunday night dinner with hot dogs and soft drinks.  The first night, he had 10 kids.  The second night, he gave 20 kids sloppy joes.  On the third Sunday night, some 30 kids enjoyed pizza.

A month later, the pastor received a phone call.  When he answered, a lady said to him, “A number of us have noticed the church is not nearly as clean as it once was.  We have to scrub down our kitchen at least once a week.  We want a rule passed that says that no youth shall come to our church on Sunday evenings whose family is not a member of the church.”

The pastor responded, “Why don’t we try to look at this like Jesus might look at it?”  When he said the name Jesus, she immediately responded, “You leave him out of this!”

In a healthy church, we can never leave the name of Jesus out of anything we do, including our stewardship.  Healthy churches see money as a tool for mission and ministry; unhealthy churches see money as a regrettable burden upon the congregation.

On October 27, we begin our 2013 Stewardship campaign with the theme, “Hearts on Fire.”         I invite us to grow spiritually with our finances.   I invite us to follow the biblical model of tithing (giving 10%).  Susan and I have never regretted holding up the model of tithing as our standard of giving to the church.

I am grateful that so many people express their thanks to God by giving to Nardin Park.          Thank you.