Friday, April 24, 2015


Tabitha and I bought a bike last weekend, and it was awesome. But it wasn’t us. The bike was for our foster kid. So I spent the weekend remembering my first big kid bike (i.e. one without training wheels). As I recall, Dad and I were in the garage, when he (maybe Mom was there too…) presented me with a red and black BMX. I probably squealed or jumped or otherwise expressed the bursting triumph I felt welling up because now I had…A BIKE OF MY OWN!

Dad said, “Give it a ride.” In retrospect, bad decision, Pops. I mean, it makes sense he’d do that, encourage his kid to use this new bike. But, well, let me describe my old street. Our home was at the apex of a cul-de-sac whose roadway sloped downward toward a busier street. So imagine a boy still learning to ride standing atop his (rather steep) driveway, looking down the asphalt, cul-de-sac hill, feeling barely containable joy, impatiently anticipating all the speed and glory he’d soon obtain.

Also, I didn’t yet know how the brakes worked.

That became a problem as I zoomed down my driveway, past my buddy’s house, approaching the big street I knew I wasn’t allowed to bike in. I was going fast. I needed to stop fast. So…I leaned to the side, and fell. I was wearing shorts. Then, leaving the bike behind, I ran- hopping and holding my skinned knee- back to my father, still waiting, probably struggling with both pride in his gift and worry that I’d hurt myself. I returned for the bike after several Band-Aids, and hugs.

May it be our little guy doesn’t fall so painfully soon! But he’s not worried about that; he’s just loving his very own bike. And I can’t describe the exuberant pride I feel in having provided that gift to him. It’s a great feeling, amen?! This parental joy in “providing.” That it’s a boy’s bike, of course, means this feeling is also about my childhood. Maybe I’m just reliving old memories. But more interesting than that, I think, is me experiencing one kind of giving my parents modeled for me years ago.

What are your models of giving? There’s the “provider” model that parents (hopefully) show their kids, you providing what’s needed for another’s well-being. There’s the “condescending” model of you giving to someone you deem pitiable in an attempt to highlight your supposed-magnanimity (I don’t recommend this…). And there’s more. Lots! So which do you look to for making decisions about your finances, resources, time, dreams, commitments? I’m assuming you give. We all do, in various ways. So what supplies you guidance and inspiration?

May will include our annual four-week Stewardship Campaign. We’ll ask you to consider your giving to the church for the next fiscal year (June 2015 to May 2016). On May 24, or before, we’ll ask you to turn in pledges, if you pledge. But donations to church operations aren’t the whole point. Indeed, I’m hoping you’ll use these weeks to ponder how stewardship impacts your entire life.
After all, how we use resources is a daily concern that transcends church donations, even monthly bills. At the grocery store, on-line, during tax season, we put our money where our priorities are. Therefore, we can consider these transactions as more than reasons for stress or shame, but rather as opportunities to practice and grow our devotion. That’s why I look forward to this month annually. It’s a ready-made excuse to ponder the practical side of faith.

And to frame that discussion this year, we’ll look to scripture for models of giving. We’ll find there more than one that’s useful and achievable. Hopefully, that’ll help you breathe easier, remembering there’s no one way to do it right, while offering tools and insights for growth. So join us for this practical, maybe challenging, hopefully inspiring journey in May (and invite a friend!). And until then, think about the models of giving that have inspired or helped you. If you have a chance, even, thank them for it.

Grace and Peace,

PS- Thanks Mom and Dad for helping me learn to give joyfully!
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