But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:4-9

Say Yes To Jesus | Stewardship 2018

To make your pledge online, please complete this Online Pledge Form.

Submitting a pledge is a tangible sign of our personal commitment to obediently and joyfully return a portion of that which God has provided us.

Dear 1st Pres Friends,

Each year in the life of the church presents a new opportunity to consider how we use our time, talents, and resources to say “yes!” to Jesus. For the past few months, we, the members of the Stewardship Committee, have wrestled with this question.

During our discernment process, we found clarity in
Ephesians 2:4-9:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Using our time, talent, and resources for the benefit of 1st Pres ministries certainly has made us feel alive in Christ. We are humbled by the incomparable riches of God’s grace and constantly reminded that it is through His grace alone that we are saved.

We know that our annual financial pledges are critical to the ability of 1st Pres to fulfill its mission to invite all people to say “yes!” to Jesus with their whole lives. However, our request today may be surprising:

Pause Before You Pledge.

We invite you to prayerfully consider your personal response to God’s grace and mercy. With your family, we ask that you pray about how our church family can reflect the kindness expressed to us in Christ Jesus.

Our hope is that the next two weeks will serve as a discernment period for all of us. We have found a collection of stewardship devotions to be a valuable resource in this process. When the annual pledge card arrives, we want to be prepared to say “yes!” to Jesus with great confidence and clarity. Please let us know how we can support you in this endeavor.

Yours in Christ,
The 2018 Stewardship Team

Brett Eaton,   Heather Egan,   Eric Hoyle

Chuck Hobbs,   Layla Manning,  Ann Marie Sears

 

 

A Message from Peter Barnes

In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown relates a story of great personal failure. In a moment of insecurity, Greg prioritized work over family. He writes:

To my shame, while my wife lay in the hospital with our hours-old baby, I went to the meeting. Afterward, my colleague said, “The client will respect you for making the decision to be here.” But the look on my clients’ faces did not evince respect. Instead, they mirrored how I felt. What was I doing there? I had said, “yes” simply to please, and in doing so I had hurt my family, my integrity, and even the client relationship.

How many of us, like Greg, have said “yes” to the wrong thing? I know I have. This is one of the many reasons I have embraced the mission of 1st Pres to invite all people to say “yes!” to Jesus with their whole lives. I find that the more I say “yes” to Jesus, the less likely I am to say “yes” to the wrong thing. It sounds much easier than it is.

Jesus doesn’t call us to do something because it is easy, or comfortable. In fact, the opportunities to say “yes” to Jesus while sitting on the couch watching television are few and far between. Declaring ourselves to be Christians, acting consistent with our faith, and following Jesus where He would lead can be downright terrifying. But it also leaves little opportunity for someone or something else to determine the priorities in our lives.

Say Yes! to Jesus is also our stewardship theme this year. It is time to make your financial pledge in support of 1st Pres’s mission and ministry. Making your pledge by the end of October allows our church elders to accurately build our budget for 2018.

As important as it is for our church to practice fiscal responsibility, we should make our pledge with an even greater priority in mind. Ephesians 2:4-9 suggests that responding to Jesus with a resounding “yes!” is how we are made alive in Christ.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

When I reflect on these verses, Greg’s story, and my own instances of saying “yes” to the wrong things, I have to wonder if there can be a higher priority for our time, talents, and resources than to reflect the kindness expressed to us in Christ Jesus.

Thank you for prayerfully considering your pledge to 1st Pres.

Peter

Stewardship Questions and Answers

What is “stewardship”?

Stewardship refers to the care of the things that we’ve been given. As Christians, we believe that God created our world and has entrusted us to care for and use the gifts of creation in ways that bring honor to Him. These gifts include the resources of the earth, our finances and material goods, our natural and spiritual gifts and strengths, and our time.


If I only give a little, does it matter?

Absolutely! Jesus reminds us of this in Luke 21 as He observes a widow put two small coins in the temple treasury and commends her gift. How much we give matters, but not as much as how we give. The widow reminds us that God desires that we give from our heart rather than simply out of our excess.


What if my financial circumstances change during the year?

In our current economy, we know that things can certainly change quickly—for the better or for the worse. Our pledges to the church are commitments that we make in the face of this reality. If someone loses their job or has their income reduced during the course of the year, we all know that hard decisions have to be made. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate to call or write the church business office and explain your situation. If on the other hand, you are fortunate enough to find a windfall during the year, consider giving a thank offering or a contribution to the building debt reduction program.


What is a tithe?

A tithe is a biblical principle of giving 10% of what you have to the work of the church. It is an Old Testament practice that God commanded and employed to help His people understand what it meant to have the heart of God. God is a giving God who at every point in human history has given generously even before we as individuals are willing to acknowledge, much less love, Him. At its heart, the tithe is about heart giving. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and teachers of the law for keeping the tithe even down to the spices they used in their food, while missing the true heart of faith –justice mercy, and faithfulness.

Giving a tithe is something we should all strive to make as part of our regular faith walk. Why? Because it reflects the heart of God and leads us into a deeper relationship with Christ. For some the tithe might be the starting point for their giving. For others it might be a goal that can be worked toward through faithful perseverance. In any case, it is a means to deeper transformation in our walk with Christ.

Is stewardship only about my money?

Stewardship is about every single part of us. With our culture’s focus on money, we often only think of stewardship in monetary terms. However when viewed biblically, stewardship is really about our possessions as well as our time, natural skills, passions, and spiritual gifts. Again, stewardship is a heart matter. Someone has said that to really gauge where your heart is, look at your checkbook and your calendar. Where we spend our time is just as important as what we do with our money. God’s kingdom is incomplete without each one of us using our strengths and gifts in ministry. We are all called as part of stewardship to discover and use our gifts in ministry here at First Presbyterian or in any of the many ministry opportunities in our community.

I don’t know what my strengths or spiritual gifts are—how can I find out?

Talk with a pastor. We have a variety of ways to help you discern what gifts God has uniquely gifted you.

If God is really interested in my soul, why does the church talk so much about my money?

The short answer is that the church is seeking to reflect Jesus and be obedient. In Scripture we find Jesus time and time again addressing the role and influence of our money and possessions on our life and our spiritual development. The Bible makes it clear that we can’t live a life fully devoted to Christ and at the same time wall off our finances from our walk of faith. Remember, stewardship is a heart matter as much as it is a money matter.

Why is it important for me to submit a pledge card?

While recognizing that there may be times when personal circumstances keep us from pledging, it is important to recognize that submitting a pledge is a tangible sign of our personal commitment to obediently and joyfully return a portion of that which God has provided us.

As important, knowing the overall level of financial support that has been committed through pledges enables our pastors and Church leadership to do a much better job planning for the many ongoing and new ministries of the church for the coming year.