Good Stewardship, It’s Not What You Think

“Our house is paid off!” I overheard a Mom say, gleefully. I was happy for her, really, I was. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Our house wasn’t/isn’t paid off. I wasn’t measuring up, once again. Hubby and I had taken financial classes at church and gotten all our our ducks in a row. We had no credit card debt. Then our ducks got shot down, one by one. Massacred is more like it.

I am a mother of seven and a Christian, both of which make me a cultural anomaly. Our family living is costly, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Let’s focus on the physical for a moment.

Seventeen years ago, husband Jerry and I internationally adopted a sibling group of four to add to our three bios. A family of nine is not cheap, no matter how you slice it. I had seven children watching me and my reactions to financial stress.

I often teetered on the tightrope of guilt and shame. At night, all of my decisions lined up in a row to harass me. What had we done wrong? Why weren’t we on track? For years, these thoughts haunted me. Finally, Jesus reminded me through His word, financial security is not the measuring stick used to get you into heaven. It’s great if you have it. If you are financially secure and use your money to bless others and invest in the kingdom, go YOU! If you aren’t, you’re storing up treasures you can’t take with you. Stewardship may not be what you think it is.

We invested in our children by attaching (time), feeding, clothing and housing (money) and spiritually (time and prayer). We could have skipped adopting in order to be more financially stable or waited until we had all of our financial ducks in a row, which probably would have been the day after never.

Some would say the Guires haven’t been good stewards of our money. As I said, our home is not paid off. We have paid off cars, only to start all over again. We’ve lost businesses. Started over multiple times. Barely scraped by. Applied principles of major financial gurus and still hit rock bottom financially.

This isn’t an article about being destitute. It’s about stewardship. As, I said, some may say that we are terrible stewards, but it is just not true. We are good stewards, just not in the loads of money in the bank sort of way. When we see a need, we feel compelled to meet that need and be the hands of Christ. Being a good steward means adopting orphans, feeding the hungry, healing the broken hearted. When we walk in the mindset of Christ, the bank account reflects it.

Jesus had no place to call home during the time of His three years of earthly ministry. He walked dusty roads and was more concerned about the needs of humans than He was His own physical comfort. He wasn’t rich and didn’t preach the American cultural idea of being financially secure, buying stocks and bonds or preparing for retirement. Jesus said to store up your treasure in heaven. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. What is your treasure?

With that said, God doesn’t believe in scarcity, He believes in abundance.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10

Abundance doesn’t always mean money. Let’s not take the gospel and twist it into what it’s not. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. That’s abundance. An overflowing well of joy and peace in knowing you are in right standing with God. In His will. Serving His purpose. Sometimes doing His will drains your bank account.

If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters]. I Timothy 5:8

If we do not meet the needs of our own family, we are worse than a heathen. If your brother asks for a shirt, give it to him and your coat. If he asks you to walk a mile, go two. Jesus doesn’t ask us to give until it hurts, He asks us to give until it heals. Meeting someone’s physical needs often opens the door to meet spiritual ones. I’m not saying the Gospel can be bought and paid for with money.  I’m pointing out that service requires sacrifice. Sometimes (not always) that service involves draining your bank account.

Adopting children costs money. Feeding, clothing and housing them is a worthy investment of capital. They are worth the investment. Money is a means to ministry. If making money and financial security is your primary focus, then you are serving mammon.

For example, hospitality costs money, but it’s an investment into the lives of people who come into your home. Our homes are ministry tools. A giant welcome mat that says, “You Matter! You ARE LOVED!” We are being good stewards of our home if we use to bless others. If we use our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards.

If we our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards. (2)

 

Most of the sold out for Jesus, living on the fringe culturally, are not the ones with full bank accounts. They have full faith accounts, instead. They have to. While I do believe we should live disciplined lives and have great work ethic, there is not always a financial reward for these in kingdom living. Sometimes, God calls us to do something valuable and worthwhile for free. God calls us to serve, open our homes, make a donation of our time and talents (which He gave us) to build His kingdom. When He asks this of us, we must trust that He will supply the means to do so.

If you are reading this and you don’t have your house paid off, money is in short supply and you’re living your heart out for Jesus, don’t despair. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has all their finances in order. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. I’m not advocating running up debts. God doesn’t always supply our wants, He does supply needs. Being a good steward means using your money, time and talents to fulfill His purpose. Whatever purpose He gives you: homeschooling, adoption, running a food pantry, starting a Bible study, writing, teaching, making baby quilts, feeding college students, ______________(fill in the blank).

I have watched many Jesus followers go through a Job syndrome after they stepped out into ministry. Often these people are judged. Ministry is gritty, tough and expensive work. It requires all the stewardship you can muster. It is good, soul-satisfying work. The rewards are not of this world. Being a good steward may not mean what you think it does. Being a good steward means using everything you have for kingdom work and trusting that God will supply the means.

Why the Church Needs to Adopt/Foster Children

The Orphanage

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow to adopt a sibling group. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

The Emotional Burden

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

The interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend to adopt someday. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate “to care for widows and orphans” while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

The interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance.

Orphans are humans who need connection.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on. Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs – connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t exist.” Abuse says, “You don’t matter”

Every life Matters no matter what Politicians say.

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have  Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life. The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The Church should be adopting orphans and/or fostering.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying life. That is the enemy’s work.

We must first recognize our own value.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints. We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God.

We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wandering lost, looking for acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

Go into all the world.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans.-those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

 

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch suffering on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it.

Five Things You Can Do to Help an Adoptive/Foster Family Part I

Ever wonder what you can do to support adoption/foster care? Maybe you don’t feel as if you can take a child into your home. Maybe you already raised your children and you aren’t ready to start over. It may be that you have a heart for adoption,but it’s not time for you to walk the adoption road, a few more things may need to fall into place. The good news is, you don’t have to adopt/foster to support it. You can support those who do and it’s not terribly difficult.

 External religious worship [[b]religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit andhelp and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.” James 1:27

  1. Host a shower for the foster/adoptive family.shower plate

There are many much needed items when a family welcomes a newborn home. Many of those material needs are filled at a shower or for baby two or three, a sprinkle.

Adoptive/Foster parents often wing this alone (especially when welcoming older children). Foster parents often get a call in the middle of the night that children are being delivered. No warning.

International adoption is trickly too. Parents can wait for years of the call. Nither of the secenarios means the family has what they need. The family’s money may be tied up in lawyer’s fees, birth mother care, travel and in some cases, a home addition to accomodate the newbies.

This is where you come in if you want to help, throw a shower. It doesn’t have to be huge or fancy. My church body threw a small shower for us after the four new Guires came home. I asked specifically that it not be a ‘toy’ shower. Instead, it was household items, which helped me immensly- bulk paper towels, toilet paper, cleaners, some no perishable food items- all of these saved me from running to the store every other day. Seven kids go through a lot of toilet paper, paper towels, clorox wipes and snacks!

A good friend of mine took found John Deere comforters and took it upon herself to buy three sets, including sheets! What a blessing!

These sorts of gifts of ordinary, every day items are priceless to the Mama and Papa who are parenting a new set of children. It is caring for orphans in a tangible way without adopting yourself. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to care for orphans. Hosting a shower for adoptive/foster families is a simple way to do just that!