Book rec and priority check

bread close up artOur congregation decided this year to use the stewardship program “Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” by Adam Hamilton. I ordered one study guide and the program book, and I have been thrilled with what I’ve seen so far.If you’re looking for a program for your church, whatever the size,I highly recommend this one.

The $10 study book is a concise, easy to read collection of what I assume are sermon manuscripts, filled with personal examples, relevant supporting information, and thought-provoking discussion/reflection questions. The program guide, which I purchased at the above link for just over $23, is filled with great resources and information, and comes with a DVDrom that knocked my little worship and program planning socks off: powerpoint templates (that I’ll tweak), pre-written letters that you can make specific for your congregation, quality clip art, gift resources that you can print out or order online in glossy form, and video clips for use in worship services. Did I mention that was all for less than $30?

But what I like most about this program is the approach itself. Adam takes the entire thing from the perspective of inviting people to change their relationship with money. The program encourages tailoring the letters for recipients based on where folks are in their journey toward tithing and supporting the church’s ministries with their time and talents. The sermons focus on financial health and looking at finances from (gasp!) a spiritual perspective. The central message in both the program and the study guide is to live into one’s life purpose to serve God and love one another and use our money and resources to achieve that purpose. From the study guide:

“Each of us is called to be a blessing for others. We have a life purpose that is greater than our own self-interests, and how we spend our God-given resources reflects our understanding and commitment to this life purpose or mission.”

Adam also reminds the readers of Christ’s statement that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. I got a reminder of that myself this week. Yesterday, when I tried to get a little cash back from a check I was depositing, I learned that my bank account was overdrawn by $900 and still falling. Somehow, while we were in Montreal last month, someone was able to clone my debit card. Although I still have my ATM card, hundreds of dollars were being withdrawn from various ATMs in Montreal. Over the course of 48 hours, in five transactions, my account was robbed to the tune of $1800.00. Now of course, I’m sure it will all be put back in the account once the bank gets through my dispute paperwork, but that’s going to take a couple of weeks, especially since it’s an international crime.

Now, this stinks, and makes paying rent and daycare at the beginning of the month a little rough. It’s a nasty, icky feeling, too, and does make my stomach a little jittery at the thought of negative quadruple numbers in my checking account. But. But. It’s just money. It’s not really even my money, because that’s why banks are insured, right? Of all the things in life, it’s the one with the least value. I’ve had about a half a dozen people offer to lend me money, which I really don’t need, but I know that if it were stolen for good there are people who would help us out. Everyone is safe, and my biggest regret was that I didn’t have cash on hand to help buy some extra pies for our church dinner.

So, Adam Hamilton and your “enough” program, and faceless Montreal crook, thank you for the reminders that our money only means as much as we let it, and is only as important as the people and ministries we support with it.

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