Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Last part of last weeks sermon: Loaves and fish

A newspaper reported a story of a young boy in a Presbyterian church in a Texas community that illustrates exactly how God is still doing this loaves and fishes kind of work. Here is the story from the August 5, 2006 edition of the San Antonio Express-News:

Jackson Rogers, ten, raised enough money to put up a house for the homeless. The young entrepreneur said he took on the fund-raising project for Habitat for Humanity in February when he accepted $100 and a challenge from his pastor at First Presbyterian Church.

“My pastor gave me a hundred dollars and told me to do something good to help someone,” said Jackson, one of several congregants who accepted their pastor’s challenge. They were told to use the money for good and then report on what they did.

At first Jackson’s father was hesitant about letting his son take up such a daunting task, but Jackson was determined. “I was discouraging him from volunteering because I didn’t know what the pastor intended. But he pulled away from me and ran down there,” the father said.

Jackson knew he wanted to help a homeless family. But he wasn’t sure how to do that, so he asked his dad. What they came up with was a letter-writing campaign asking for donations to raise $50,000 to build a house through Habitat for Humanity. Jackson then wrote a letter in his own handwriting on notebook paper. “I used the hundred dollars to buy stamps and paper,” he said. He then sent out letters to friends and family.

One woman was so touched by his letter that she passed it on to several of her friends and colleagues. Soon, people from Tennessee, Virginia, and Idaho were sending in checks. The 170 people who responded contributed a total of $43,000. When the congregation at First Presbyterian learned the little miracle-worker was $7,000 short of his goal, people chipped in the rest.
“A little person can do something really good. You don’t have to wait to be an adult,” said Jackson’s mother.

One hundred and ten years ago this church was founded by men and women moving to this new town in the Colorado Frontier. They came from places like Missouri—I hear there were a lot from Missouri—and other places further east. They bought land and planted crops. And they decided that there needed to be a Baptist church. So they started one.

Somewhere in the process folks decided to build a building. Interesting thing was that the church wasn’t established enough to get a loan on its own. So folks started taking out loans in their own names on behalf of First Baptist Church. Why did they do that? Why take such a risk? I think it is because the church believed that God was a God of abundance and not scarcity. They believed that if they set the loaves and fish of their credit in Jesus’ hand, that Jesus would multiply that into abundant ministry.

The Lord certainly did just that. How do I know that? I know that because the loans were paid off in short order. This is true. But I also know it is true because 110 years later we are still worshipping in the same building in this same town. We built an addition when the church was bursting at the seams in the middle of the century.

Many of us can remember years where church attendance was in the teens. Some of us can remember when church attendance was in the 100s. Through the times of success and failure, joy and grief, we have seen that God has took whatever resources this church has had and multiplied them for his glory.

God is still doing it. He is still multiplying whatever we will offer him into miracles. He still multiplies our giving into ministries of love. He still multiplies our time into the good news of God’s saving grace getting out to the masses. He takes our half-hearted efforts and our reluctant participation in his kingdom and makes them into beautiful ministry.

And that starts when we offer him our very lives. Maybe you have never offered your life to Christ. You have never accepted him as Lord and Savior. Believe this, no matter what mistakes you have made, God can use you. No matter how hopeless and useless you may feel, God can do great things through you. He can make your meager loaves and fishes into a feast.

Maybe you have been running from God. Or ignoring him. Turn back. God can still use you.

So come to him. Bring yourself as your gift to him. You will be amazed at what God can do with our meager offerings.

No comments: