As part of tour Annual Stewardship Campaign, temple talks were given by members of the congregation. What follows is the actual text of their talks.
Temple Talk—5 October 2014— Sharon Cody shared with us “The Promise of God’s Blessings”
Before Jack and I retired to Bend and joined this church, our careers had kept us living in various parts of our country and around the world, connected to our Christian faith mostly through military chapels. Eager to help our new community and church, we found ourselves on the Stewardship committee without even the faintest idea of what that meant. Gratefully, the indexes in our study Bibles were spilling over with dozens of passages that linked stewardship with giving, and linked giving with blessings.
In the home in which I grew up, we did not learn to give or to be generous, so when I went to college I had to learn from those around me.
My roommate, Judy, was a born again Christian who tithed at church and who worked two jobs all summer, getting two hours of sleep a night, in order to earn enough to get through the school year. Yet when a mutual friend needed clothes, Judy reached into her closet and gave her some of the new woolens she had bought with her earnings. In horror, I cautioned Judy not to give away what she had. But Judy’s heart was happy—she gave without any concern for herself. An hour later, there was a knock at our door. It was Candy from upstairs who had outgrown her Pendleton skirts, cashmere sweaters, and warm woolen winter coat.
Now Judy and I were the same size, but Candy went straight to Judy and offered these gorgeous outfits to her. How was Judy so lucky while I got left out?! I, too, worked each summer and during the school year to help pay for my education. What I did not yet know is that God blesses those who give, and who give with a cheerful heart. God’s principles worked perfectly: Judy had little but gave freely and joyfully and was rewarded with abundance. I gave nothing and got exactly what God had promised: NOTHING.
Throughout college, then my years in the Air Force, I began to emulate the kind and generous people around me but without any awareness that the Bible has a lot to say about joyful giving and about how God wants us to prosper. The following passages elucidate on the otherwise abstract relationship between giving and blessings:
Genesis 15:18 explains that the ancient Israelites, around 1900 B.C., believed that God was, and is, the ultimate owner of all the land and all that it produces. God gave Abraham, in the Abrahamic covenant, the land of Israel. The Israelites were disobedient to God, lost their land, and entered into bondage in Egypt. Later, in the Mosaic covenant, God restored that land to the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt. During the Exodus, Moses frequently reminded the people that God was giving them this land with the requirement that they must give back to God one tenth (a tithe) of the “first of the fruit from the ground”, that is their crops, as an expression of their gratitude. God promised to reward their obedience with abundance.
Note the word “gratitude.” When we give gifts to others, we are gratified when they write or call to thank us. How inclined are we to continue to give gifts to those who are ungrateful? By the same token, God does not have a telephone number, a street address, or an E-mail to which we can send Him a thank you note for the 100% He gives us. But God sees what we do and tells us that He will notice our giving ten percent of His gift to others. That is our thank you note to Him and the trigger for Him to give us another 100%.
Deuteronomy 26:10 says: “I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.”
Malachi 3:10 says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (the temple), that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’.”
Proverbs 3: 9-10 says: “Honor the Lord with your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (An apropos message for this fall season)
Proverbs 11: 25 says: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Luke 6: 38 says: “For if you give you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.” (Do the math on this one!)
Note that God’s abundance is not finite. He has an endless supply of blessings for those who honor His guidelines.
2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 says: “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In Genesis, the currency of the time was food which God exhorted His faithful to bring to His storehouse. The currency of our time is money, but stewardship is not about money. Yes, money is involved. But God’s message to us is about giving with a generous heart. He gives us 100% and asks us to return 10% so that he can bless us with another 100% which then makes our 10% even larger, and so on. God blesses givers. It is that simple. Sir James Barrie told us: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” So may you continue to bring your sunshine to others, as you have done so generously, and may God shower you, our church, our community, and our country with abundance and prosperity. Amen!
On September 22, 2013 a very inspiring Temple Talk as part of the 2014 Stewardship Program was given by Amy Nary – she wants to share this with you:
What’s YOUR Story?
My name is Amy Nary and we have been coming to GFLC since January 2009. I did not grow up attending church. I was baptized Catholic and my mother was excommunicated from the Catholic Church after my parent’s divorce when I was 7 years old.
My mother grew up in a home where the local priest had the final word and Catholic schools were a must. She not only grew up with the infamous Catholic guilt, but she used to entertain us with tales of the nuns. You had your run of the mill beat with rulers and threats of going to hell, but Joyce was so stubborn that she got the next level. In third grade she was locked in a closet and forgotten about and she had to climb out a window after dark to make it home. She was so miserable that she enrolled herself in the public school at age 9 saying that her mother was dying and couldn’t come to the school in person. It was the best day of her elementary career until the priest showed up to retrieve her. There were many more stories, and they grew in power and details as family stories do when repeated. With their growth, my disdain for organized religion grew. I came to think that anyone who was entrenched in organized religion was a sheep who couldn’t think for themselves. Then I had a realization that these stories I was hiding behind were my mother’s story, not my story. It was time that I figured out MY story.
I started seeking on my spiritual path throughout my 20s to figure out my own personal beliefs. I felt that there was a higher power but had never really studied the bible and was self conscious about my ignorance regarding religion. I had a few angels guide me along my path who helped me dispel my myths and hang ups regarding religion:
1) Myth #1- Praying is something you only do in church
My angel came in the form of a co-worker named Dahlia in the NICU at Georgetown Hospital. She was born in Egypt and had a father who taught her God is everywhere. You can thank him, pray, ask for help anytime and anywhere. This was a totally new concept to me. She was so solid in her faith and it really struck me- rarely would I meet a person right out of college who would talk about their faith and God so comfortably and freely. I was aware of my emptiness and no longer had my old knee jerk pattern of trying to disprove religion. I was a clean slate eager to understand more.
2) Hang up #2- Why do I have to go to a building to be a believer? If God is everywhere, can’t I just say hello while I’m in the mountains, after all, nature is God’s playground:
I was given a book called the Purpose Driven Life. I had tried and failed to read the bible on my own. But this book was readable, engaging, and thought provoking. Now that I was open to accepting God, I liked the fact that I could talk to him on a beautiful hike, which was really more convenient for me than attending church. But then I remember reading a chapter about community. And quite simply, in order to have a community of faith, one must actually commune with each other. It spoke of the benefits of being part of a community of faith in order to maintain and grow.
3) Hang up #3- Church shopping- I met my husband Jeff in my mid-20s. He grew up in a conservative religion, but that is his story. We often talked about trying to find a church that was conservative enough for Jeff to relate to given his experience and liberal enough that I felt comfortable. We tried the Episcopal Church in Jackson, WY. People told us it was lighter than Catholic, but there was still too much incense and Latin for us to understand and feel connected. When we moved to Bend and started a family, we decided to kick our church shopping into full gear. We braced ourselves for the dreaded tour, fearing we would run into places where you had to be perfect or you were going to hell. We joked about starting close to our home and working our way outward from there.
When we walked into Grace on our first stop, it struck me that the people were not only nice, but genuinely seemed like they wanted to be here. The very first thing I read was the welcome, which started, “There are no perfect people here….” We have that going for us. Heather McBride brought us an activity bag for Calvin, our then 2 year old. And then Pastor Joel gave a sermon that I actually understood and he didn’t even mention going to hell. We immediately felt a comfort in this church that I had not expected. In the orientation class, Pastor Joel admitted he actually WASN’T closer to God than us. He even brought personal accountability into play and said that he would guide us, but that we were responsible for our own relationship with God.
Hang up #4) Churches just want your money- I used to bristle when I heard people getting pressure to tithe to their church. When I first started coming to church I wasn’t comfortable with the concept and never knew quite what etiquette was in terms of giving. In reality, all churches need money to run well. My thoughts have shifted over the past few years and I don’t bristle at the idea of giving. I realized when a church starts to feel like your family of faith, then it feels more like giving and less like obligation.
Over the past 4-½ years, our community of friends and faith here at Grace has become an integral part of our family life. Jeff and I feel that sharing a common faith has become a corner stone in our marriage, providing a base from which we can be thankful for our blessings as well as guidance to weather the tough times. My son Calvin comes home from Sunday school knowing more about the Bible than me. And our little man Gabe treats church as a normal part of life and a special place he gets to see his buddies. Our together in Christ group is a family support, but also a place where I can both learn and question the teachings. I feel so blessed that I was open to God, that I had angels to guide me, and that I ended up with such an amazing church family here at Grace.
So that is MY story. What’s YOUR story?
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