Check all sections. It is very hard to define what is a stewardship story and what is not!
Many years ago some farmers operated on the theory that they could eat all of their big potatoes and keep the small ones for seed. They did this for some time. They ate all of the big potatoes and they planted the small ones. A new understanding of the laws of life came to them when they realized that nature had reduced their entire crop to the size of large marbles. These farmers learned through bitter experience that they could not keep the small things in life for themselves and use the leftovers for seed. The law of life decreed that the planting would be reflected in the harvest. Planting small potatoes is a very common practice. We will take all the big things of life for ourselves and plant the leftovers. We expect that by sme crazy twist of the laws of nature our selfishness will reward us with unselfishness. We cannot eat all of the big potatoes and still expect to harvest more year after year. Planting small potatoes simply means that this is what we are expecting to harvest. What size of potatoes have you been harvesting? It says in Galatians, "Do not be deceived; God is not fooled, for whatever people sows that they will also reap.
There was once a rich man who was dying. "God", he pleaded, "please let me take something with me. I have worked so hard for it all."
"you have been such a faithful steward", God replied. "OK, but just one suitcase."
Quickly the man ordered that his assets be converted to gold and placed in a suitcase. The next day he died.
"God told me I could bring one suitcase", he told St. Peter at the pearly gates. He looked through and sure enough the streets were paved with gold.
"Fine, but I'll have to take a look". He looked in the suitcase and exclaimed, "Good, you brought pavement."
One day a rich man of a rather miserly disposition visited a rabbi, who took him by the hand and led him to a window. "look out there," he said. The rich man looked into the street. "What do you see?"
"I see men and women and children."
Again the rabbi took him by the hand, but this time led him to a mirror. "What do you see now?"
"I see myself"
"Behold, the the window and the mirror are both glass but the mirror is also covered with silver. No sooner is silver added than you cease to see others and only yourself."
A certain minister was introducing the offering. "Last week I went to a Chinese restaurant and this was the message in my fortune cookie, 'If you look in the right places, you can find some good offerings'." When the laughter had died down, the minister said, "I think that this is one of the right places".
A woman was becoming very worried because her husband had gone golfing early in the morning and had not returned by suppertime. Finally his car appeared in the yard and he walked into the house and put his clubs in the closet. "What happened", she asked.
Oh, it was awful. Harry had a hard attack and died at the third hole!
"Oh, my! How terrible!" sympathized his wife. "You're telling me! he replied, "For the rest of the eighteen holes it was 'hit the ball, drag Harry', 'hit the ball, drag Harry', 'hit the ball, drag Harrry again!'
A minister was visiting a couple one day just prior to their 65th Wedding anniversary. They had not always had an easy time and the man was quite ill much of the time. The minister asked if they had ever considered divorce. The husband replied, with a twinkle in his eye, "No she hasn't, but I'm sure murder crossed her mind a number of times!"
The following assessment of the qualifications of the twelve disciples, by a modern management company was given somewhere by Dr. Helen Reesor.
TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafter's Carpenter Shop, Nazareth.
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants
Thank-you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for manegerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each one of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. It is the staff's opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommens that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capacity.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of anger. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definately have radical leanings, and they registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business sense and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your treasurer and 'right-hand man'. All of the other profiles should be self explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
James, son of John.
A tourist whose car had broken down on a desolate country road was staring helplessly into the engine when, to her amazement, a cow wandered up. The cow stood beside the motorist, chewing her cud and also staring into the engine. Then she stopped chewing and said very casually, "Maam, it's your carburettor that's the problem."
The woman was so surprised that she ran off down the road as fast as she could go. She came upon a farmer leaning over a gate. Breathlessly, she told him the amazing story of the speaking cow. He looked at her with a puzzled look on his face and then asked, "Was she a brown cow with a silver cow bell?"
"Yes! Yes!" replied the motorist excitedly.
The farmer replied, "Well I wouldn't take any notice. That's Bella, and she don't know a darned thing about cars."
from Rev Mark Dunn firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently we hear these words as an accusation against the church. On the contrary, in fact, those words can be a very high compliment!
I'm glad my church needs money. If it didn't, it would mean it wasn't interested in spreading the Good News and had no hope.
I'm glad my church needs money. If it didn't, it would mean it wasn't interested in teaching children, in inviting in those who do not have a faith community, of welcoming new folk and thus had no future!
Yes! I'm glad my church needs money!! The fact that it does need money means it has not forfeited it's zeal, compassion, concern, evangelism and future. The vision is still there searching for the places God is calling us forward to be.
My church needs MY gifts and I'm glad. I wouldn't want to be a member of any other kind.
Let's respond generously, and pray fervently that our gifts may be used wisely and well in the furtherance of the Love, Peace, Joy and Justice of Jesus. Amen!
Apologies to the author of this story. I remember reading it but don't know where.
A man was helping his church with the annual stewardship visitation. A couple on the list complained that the church was always asking for money.
He replied, "You know, when my wife and I were married we had great plans. God blessed us with a fine son. That son was well-behaved, got good marks and was handsome, BUT he cost us a lot of money. Every year he grew and needed new clothes, new shoes, a new bike, new scates, hockey fees, moeny for school lunch and a crib for his room and later a bed and later gas for the car and spending moeny so that he could go out with his friends. It cost us a lot of moeny to raise that chiild. Then one day our son was killed by a drunk driver. He doesn't cost us any money anymore! You know why the church costs money? Because it's alive, that's why! that's why I give to the church and that't why I think you should too!"
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 19th century English poet reflected on the power of ancient Egypt. These were people determined to make a name for themselves and to be remembered forever. One of the Pharaohs named Ramses II, not only fathered over 100 sons but also commissioned countless colossal statues of himself and numerous ostentatious monuments to his victories all over the kingdom. Some of these statues were over 60 feet high and survived for thousands of years, long after his kingdoms had ceased to exist of course. Shelley understood the "edifice complex". or the desire to attain immortality through the amassing of fame and fortune, much better than many do today. No doubt he was reflecting on the impressive statue of a long dead and almost forgotten Ramses II when he wrote the poem Ozymandias:
I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor, well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Credit: E-mailed to me from A.M.Allen Cabri-Hazlet-Pennant Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada.
A group of ministers were returning from Presbytery together when a group of satanic worshippers (also known as pagan worshippers) jumped in front of the car and stopped them..... the driver... a fairly youthful person asked the more expereinced minster in the backseat what they should do... the answer came from the back seat....."show them your cross !" At this advice the younger clergyperson leaned out the car window and said in a loud angry voice: "get away from the front of this car you idiots!"
Credit: From Mark Whittaker, vis the PRCL-L preaching list.
A court jester, was overcome with grief. His world was at an end. For years he had served the Caliph of Baghdad and his Court, keeping them amused whenever they called upon him. But in a moment of thoughtlessness he had displeased his ruler who ordered that he be put to death. "However," said the Caliph, "In consideration of the merry jests you have told me all these years, I will let you decide how your are to die."
"O most generous Caliph," replied the jester, "If it's all the same to you, I choose death by old age."
Few have a chance to decide how we will die, but we all have the opportunity to decide how we will live.
There is an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this: "If you wish to be happy for an hour, get drunk. If you wish to be happy for three days, get married. If you wish to be happy for eight days, kill your pig and eat it. If you wish to be happy forever, learn to fish."
Used the following this morning as a general Lenten reflection. I realize it's off topic, but perhaps could be helpful to someone . . .
As we enter more deeply into Lent, I want to tell you the story of a man I know. As he entered into what we might call early middle age, that is, when he turned thirty, he had what I would term a crisis in faith. Some might call it a mid life crisis. This was a successful, middle-class man. A craftsman, who worked with his hands. A carpenter, as a matter of fact. He was respected, modestly, in his community. His work was sought out for its quality. He enjoyed his work, and got real satisfaction out of shaping the wood, and giving it a kind of life. But he d been thinking, for some time now, that there had to be something more to life. Something seemed to be missing. He couldn t put his finger on it. But he knew it was there. Maybe being a bachelor contributed to this feeling. So much of life seemed to be set up for couples and families. But that really didn t seem to be it.
When he was honest with himself, and he generally was, he suspected that the lack he felt had to do with God, somehow. Mind you, he went to church. He was active in church. He served as a lector. He attended regularly. In fact, he tithed. And it wasn t that his church connection was all institutional and public. He read scripture and prayed regularly on his own. He had the sense that God was present in his life. It affected how he dealt with his customers and his neighbors. It just seemed, somehow, that there should be more. He was sure of it. He d heard that a revival was coming, and setting up by the river outside of town. And not just any revival. This guy had a national reputation. And what s more, they were related. Cousins of a sort. At one time, as boys, they d even played together. So he figured it was time to do something about this yearning. Maybe, even, it was a sign from God. Yet at the same time, he was hesitant to shake up his life. It was a good life. He liked doing what he was doing. The idea that his life might change was a bit scary.
But, if he did nothing, he might never act. That s how he felt, anyway. He might never know the fulfillment that he sensed was possible. He might end up less than God meant him to be. He might regret it for the rest of his life.
I don t know if you identify with the restlessness in his life. But I certainly do. I remember what it was like to be a programmer. I was pretty good at it. I enjoyed the work. It was productive work. But there was still something missing. I needed something more.
Well, this man went down to the river to hear his cousin. And he was moved by what he heard. So moved, in fact, that when his cousin finished up with a series of baptisms in the river, he went out to be baptized too. And the most amazing thing happened. The heavens opened! The Holy Spirit came down upon him. God claimed him as his beloved son. His life was never the same afterwards.
Now, you might think it s a dirty trick to talk about Jesus baptism as though it were your baptism or my baptism. But that s the point. It s the prototype for our baptism. Believe it or not, when we were baptized, the heavens opened. The Holy Spirit descended upon us. God claimed us as his beloved children. And our lives can never be the same. Or you might think it s disrespectful to talk about Jesus as a human being, who had to search out his path like every other human being. But we believe that Jesus was fully human, as well as fully divine. I think this means that he had to have questions and doubts, just like you and I do. He needed to learn to let God work in his life. His faith was tested as surely as ours is. Actually, my biggest reservation in telling this story may have been calling Jesus middle aged. Because in the society of his day, he had already exceeded his life expectancy! It might have been more accurate to call him "mature" -- or even old. But wherever we are in our life, the fact remains that none of us are finished yet. Whatever spiritual strides we may have taken, there is always further for us to travel. I don t know what your restlessness is in your life. I am only beginning to figure out what s going on in my own life. But I know that I continue to have unfulfilled yearnings. I know that I continue to experience a restlessness in my own life. I m pretty sure you share my experience in this. And I m confident that this "holy" restlessness comes from God. God loves us without qualification. But God also wants us to become more than we are today. Our lives have possibilities and potentials that we may not even be able to imagine today. But God can see them. And God calls us to fulfill them. Jesus himself faced the same thing. So this season of Lent, I urge you to take time to experience your own restlessness. I encourage you to reflect upon what God might be calling you to do. I urge you to look at how you might let God s Spirit kindle your life and make it new.
I'm told that there was once an older couple who had been married for almost 60 years. They were sitting on the verandah watching the setting sun.
"You know, Abe", said the woman."
"You know, we have sat together on this verandah every night and watched the sun set for almost 60 years."
"Yes, I know!"
"But you know, there is something that's bothered me ever since we were married!"
"Well you never tell me anymore that you love me."
"Well, Jen I told you that the day we were married. If I ever change my mind, I'll let you know!"
A candidate applied for ordination. The board asked him what his qualifications were. He replied, "I sleep on the ground. I eat whole grains. I pull heavy loads. "
The committee took him to a nearby farm. A donkey was running around the pasture. The chair of the committee said, "Look young man, this animal sleeps on the ground, eats whole grains and pulls heavy loads. It looks as if you are no more qualified for ministry than this here ass!"
One Sunday a woman woke up with the flu so she sent her young son to church by himself, with strict orders to listen to the sermon.
When he came home she asked him, "What was the minister's sermon about?"
"Oh, mom, it didn't make a bit of sense!"
"Well tell me anyway!"
OK. It was 'don't worry, you'll get your quilt!'"
No amount of quizzing could deter him from insisting that this was correct. To answer her curosity she phoned the minister. After the minister assured her that the child was indeed very well behaved the mother asked what the sermon had been about. The minister wanted to know first of all why she was asking. When the mother told her what the son had said the minister burst out laughing. When the minister told her, the mother understood her son's confusion. It was, "Fear not, your comforter will come."
This is supposed to be a true story passed on to me by the person's father, and he's a minister of the United Church of Canada, so he wouldn't stretch the truth now, would he?
There was once a correspondent for a major Canadian television network on assignment in China. It so happened that it was the time of student unrest and the massacre in Tienamen Square. All foreigners were suspect. This reporter was out for a drive one day and encountered a checkpoint with a very young guard, with a nervous trigger finger. Asked for ID the man was reluctant to give his passport or even his press ID so he handed over his American Express card. You know what one of those looks like I'm sure. Lettering on the top, name on the bottom and in the centre oval what appears to be a roman SOLDIER. Well this member of China's army looked at the card and looked at the reporter and looked at the reporter and looked at the card and his eyes widened in fear or surprise or something. The correspondent became worried. Then all of a sudden the soldier returned the card to him and waved him through.
The reporter's reaction, "Don't leave home without it!"
You've all heard of Q. Well this is your new Q souce. Send stories and I'll post them. If they are lectionary based send them in time for others to make use of.
I like good (clean) jokes.
PS If you have seen one here before it got eaten by angelfire's computer. Send it again please.!