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.

Should You Attend the Empowered to Connect Conference?

Remember that old commercial, “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!” That rabbit never gives up, he keeps trying to capture his share of the sugary cereal.

That’s the same scenario that plays out when people see the banner, post or tweet about the Show Hope’s Empowered to Connect Conference (April 8th and 9th) They think, “Silly me, that conference is for foster and adoptive parents!” It’s not just for for adoptive/foster families. It may be for you:

 

If you counsel  families and children….

 

If you are a teacher…

If you are a judge….

If you are a psychologist, teacher, therapist, have a special needs child, have a specialization in child development, work with children on the spectrum or work with children on a daily basis, this conference is for YOU.

If you are scratching your head, wondering what T.B.R.I. (Trust Based Relational Intervention), watch this intro video and share!

If you are interested in attending the Show Hope Empowered to Connect Simulcast and you live in the Fairmont, Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Morgantown (WV) area, you can find more info here. If you would like to attend and live elsewhere, click here to find a location near you. Hope to see you April 8th and 9th at the Empowered to Connect Conference!

*For CEUS, make sure you register here. This is a separate registration than regular attendance and MUST be done online.

The Case of the Missing Brownies

Last night while I organized my baking drawer using my cool new Ikea dividers, Ania made gluten-free brownies complete with semi-sweet chocolate chips.  YUM! I haven’t been eating sugar this month, so I was excited about taking a break from my sugar fast.  I ate a fresh hot gooey one.  Later in the evening, another brownie called to me.  I slapped brownie two on plate and added a spoonful of peanut butter.  The first two rows of brownie were almost gone.  Three-fourths left.  I went to bed.

The next morning
Groggy and in need of coffee, I headed down to the kitchen.  The brownie pan sat out on the counter-Glaringly EMPTY!  How can this be?  Who would steal three-fourths of a pan of gluten-free brownies? Certainly not the gluten eating, non Celiacs of the family.  Surely, they would save my precious brownies for ME!

A friend told me I should wrap my gluten-free goodies in foil and label them broccoli before putting them in the freezer.  Oh, but hope springs eternal, or stupidity reigns forever?

Don’t worry, I’m  not having a brownie breakdown.  I’m not upset at all.  It just got me thinking.  Why would I leave something valuable out for others to take freely?  No, I’m not talking about brownies anymore.  I’m talking about my peace, my joy, my Bible reading time, my writing time.  As a Mom, I sometimes feel as if my time is a commodity that is not mine.  I too freely and frequently let all of it be used up without counting the cost.  How often I hear other Mothers say, “I don’t have time for Bible reading.  I don’t have time for myself.  I just lose my patience.  There is just not enough time in the day for ______.”

God has been challenging lately to stop giving my brownies away, so to speak- without the right intent of my heart.  If I am doing something that I resent doing, what kind of offering is that to the Lord?  If I say ‘yes’ to something with my mouth and my spirit is whispering ‘no’ then I feel as if my brownies are being stolen.  I lose my peace and my joy.  The truth is God has given each of us a calling, something that is unique for us to do and if we do whatever anyone in the body of Christ expects us to do, we deny our mission.

“Only, let each one [seek to conduct himself and regulate his affairs so as to] lead the life which the Lord has allotted and imparted to him and to which God has invited and summoned him.  This is my order in all the churches.”  I Corinthians 7: 17

Lead the life which the Lord has allotted to me.  If my life is a pan of brownies, how am I spending it? I don’t want to wake up one day at the end of my life, my strength waning and realize all of my brownies are gone and I didn’t complete the mission that God has given me because I was too pressured by those who thought I should be doing something else.

How about you?  Do you feel you don’t have time for the important things because you spend your time on temporal things?  Do you have a desire to write, organize, sew, organize a food-pantry, start a women’s Bible study, homeschool your kids (or grandkids), invite neighbors over, etc…?  Are those things that God has put on your heart on the back burner because you feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing? Have you lost your peace and joy because of it?  Are you suffering from the case of the missing brownies?

Guest Blogger- Melissa Hoskins

This post is written by friend, Melissa.  I asked her awhile back to share some news about her Romanian adventures.  God is doing such a wonderful work through her.  Her testimony is a perfect example of Romans 8:28:
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.  
God has taken the wounds and shame from an abortion (as a teen) and turned her ashes into beauty.  She ministers God’s grace and healing message to those who suffer unfathomable guilt and remorse from past abortions.  Melissa also proactively counsels pregnant women through the Pregnancy Resource Center of Marion County where she serves as Center Director.  She carries God’s message of forgiveness and healing to our sisters in Romania.  Read her inspiring account, keep her in your prayers and remember God turns ashes into beauty.  He loves you!  
Here is a summary of my trip:
Summary of my trip to Romanian May/June 2013
When I arrived in Romania, my work started immediately. We arrived in Arad with just enough time to drop off my things and eat a light dinner and make it to the local Christian radio station for a live radio show. Lucia and Mary shared about MAMI and the Pregnancy Resource Center. I shared my testimony. Praise God that He gave me clarity and a clear mind as I had not slept in about 48 hours. There were several people who called in with questions that night.
We traveled the next morning to the Pregnancy Resource Center Staff conference. I was a surprise for the ladies. They didn’t know that I was coming. They asked Lucia for the months leading up to the conference if she was bringing anyone and she said no, unless God provides. At the last minute, God did provide! All praise to Him!!! It was an amazing time with the ladies and the Lord. We spent an hour and a half every morning worshipping the Lord together, praying together, and sharing from God’s word together. It sounds like angels singing when these women are worshipping and they pray with a passion and fervor that I have rarely seen in the U.S. Listening to and sharing what the Lord has placed on their hearts was priceless. These are true women of God who love the Lord and this ministry with all of their hearts. I was blessed and honored to just be in their presence. I shared my testimony and experiences with Pregnancy Resource Centers. I also shared about the PRC of Marion County…what we do and my work there. They had a lot of questions. It was interesting to see the similarities and also the differences in our ministries. One thing I noticed is that they have a lot more freedom to share Christ and the ugly truth about abortion than we feel we do here in the US. I think one reason for that is that abortion is so prevalent (3 out of 4 pregnancies end in abortion in Romania). The ladies also shared their testimonies of how they were called to this ministry. It was amazing how God handpicked them to be a part of His amazing work!
When the conference finished we traveled back to Arad, just in time to drop off our things and go to dinner. While we were at dinner, the pastor who came to the conference to do communion with us called and asked if we would come and speak to his three churches the next day. We said yes, so he traveled an hour and a half to get us and we were off again. The next day we began at 10:00 am and we finished at the last church at midnight. Lucia (President of Mercy’s Action Mission Inc.- MAMI) shared about MAMI and my vision for Ploiesti and I shared my testimony. It was a wonderful time of ministry and fellowship.
When we arrived back in Arad, it was sort of a day of rest. We met together and discussed my vision and heart for planting a Pregnancy Center in Ploiesti. I believe that God connected me to Lucia and MAMI for a specific purpose. It is my desire to be the connections person and fundraiser, but to open the center under this ministry. They are already established and have done this many times before. They know much better than me how to open a center, so it is my desire to do everything I can to help them do that. I shared that with them and we are all praying for the Lord’s will to be done.
When we traveled to Ploiesti, we met with many people. First, we met with Becky, an American who runs an orphanage in Bucharest. This meeting was mainly Becky sharing her experiences and encouragement, wisdom and prayer. It was a wonderful time and I appreciated her wisdom very much.
We then met with the Hope In Action Romanian team leaders, Marius and Roxana. It was a wonderful reunion for us. Lucia and I shared our hearts and vision for the Center in Ploiesti and they will pray and support us in any way they can. They are willing to set up meetings with others to talk about this opportunity when I come back.
We met with Gabi, the head nurse at the hospital in Campina, which was very informative. She said that they have about 10 abortions a day at her hospital. She is willing to refer women to the Center who are post abortive or in crisis pregnancies. Maybe even have a satellite center that the staff would travel to meet with clients.
We also met with the pastor of Nehemiah Church in Campina and his family. They are very supportive of this vision. They would like to take the training when we schedule it as they counsel and they want to be prepared when dealing with these situations.
We spoke on Sunday morning at SOS Ploiesti church. I shared my testimony and Lucia shared about MAMI and the vision. We were able to pray with several women. There were 7 women who are interested in the ministry and training. This is a message I received from one of the women I prayed with:
“The truth is that until this day that I first got to confess my sin for the first time, I thought that I have to pay for my sin the rest of my life, only with pain and suffering. I wasn’t able to be happy about anything good that happened in my life anymore. I thought that is the correct way to pay for my sin- through pain and suffering for that aborted child….he was a boy. After my daughter was born, I was afraid of everything. If she had a cold, or if anything bad was happening to her, I thought that God wants me to pay for my sin, through my daughter’s suffering. Again, I thought that I don’t deserve anything good in my life. I started to withdraw from everything and everybody. I never thought that I’m ever going to be able to talk about this with anybody. But then I confessed to Melissa and then again to my pastor and he told me that God is a God who forgives and that He is a faithful God who forgives and He is a faithful God and that He wants to set me free and wants to heal me. Today, when Melissa hugged me, I felt like I have known her my whole life. I look forward to seeing her again in September.”
This same lady emailed us and said that her husband was also touched by my story and he wants her to start looking for a location for the center in Ploiesti.
The Pastor at SOS is very supportive and recorded my testimony and aired it on the radio on Friday and Sunday. He has also offered to do radio spots for us when we get to that point to get the word out.
Sunday night we spoke at the First Baptist Church in Ploiesti. There were 4 women who want to be involved. The pastor’s wife is an inspector for the public schools and she said she has many connections and if we ever want to speak in the schools, she will help us. The pastor was also very supportive.
Praise God we went from step one to step four of opening a center in one day! The next steps are to raise the $10,000 we need to fund opening the center and find a location, then we hold the training and open. Please pray for these next steps.
The three older kids and I will return to Romania in September for the Hope In Action Missions trip. Please pray for wisdom for me to know if and how to use this trip to work on this opportunity as well.
I continue to pray for favor and open doors and the Lord has been faithful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support
Contact me @:  melissa.hoskins@rocketmail.com

Guest Bloggers- Heather and Timiy West

The sun was at the highest point in the day and was
determined to challenge us with its heat. We had traveled
several kilometers into the bush of Zambia, Africa on foot,
carrying only a Bible, a bottle of water, and a sandwich. We
were searching for someone to share God’s word with. The
paths before us were dirt and rock and flanked by briars and
tall grass. Green was a color unseen, and brittleness had
consumed every piece of vegetation. The terrain was unlike
any we had seen before and as we walked along, we tried to
envision all that surrounded us as once being full of life. The
riverbed that we had crossed was void of water, not a single
drop to be seen. The fields had been picked of their crops
and now stood void. The “shell” of this place showed no
sign of life. But as with each shell…there must be contents
in which it encases. In the distance we could see a hut and
the scent of burning filled our nostrils. What looked to be a
deserted home proved quite different, indeed.

     We were invited into this home as if we were family,
and treated so kindly. Our hearts were so overwhelmed
by the generosity of these people and the words that God
had given us to share with them. As we knelt at the feet of
the people, praying earnestly for salvation, healing and
direction, tears began to flow and drop one by one to the dry
earth below us. The tears of hope and joy now moistened
the earth, which was before void of life. New life was
promised to these beautiful people, by the one that created
them. As we to our feet and wiped the dirt from our knees,
we realized that God had called  us do this work for HIM,
to take HIS word to the nations. You see… there is no soul
that will go without hearing before God returns, and he has
commissioned us all to go. Some will stay close to home
and others will travel to the “Ends of the Earth”, but each will
go with Faith in knowing that HE has gone before and has
prepared the way.

      On May 7, 2013, our family, Tim and I am and our three
children Ethan, Mia, and Jordin, will board a plane and
begin a new journey in our ministry of missions. We will be
working with Overland Missions to reach full-time status. For
three months we will be trained in AMT (Advanced Mission
Training) which are courses that teach us  survival skills,
biblical theory , and evangelism. Upon completion of AMT,
we will then be able to step out full-time and return to Africa,
leading teams and claiming souls for the Kingdom of God.
God has called us to this foreign land and now we must fix
our eyes on HIM and GO.

       Please keep us in your prayers, as we are on this
journey. Please pray that each person, who hears the Word
of God, accepts him as their Savior.

Tim and Heather West
searchmyheart@gmail.com

To learn more about Overland Missions, click here