Each year my church, Round Grove United Church, has a stewardship program where member’s of the congregation speak for a few minutes on the meaningfulness of the church and how giving has been meaningful. This year I was asked, and this was my testimony.
Round Grove’s yearly stewardship campaign focuses on the need of the giver to give.
Christ said in Matthew 7:16-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
Jesus was saying that Christians, all Christians, are the good trees — must be the good trees. And if we are the good trees we cannot help but bear good fruit.
As I look over this congregation, I see mentors who have showed me, showed all of us ways of bearing the good fruit here at Round Grove:
My wife Trish – who demonstrated the joy of teaching Sunday School over a decade ago when I hung around at the beginning of her Sunday School to “help out a little”. Now I have been teaching here at Round Grove for over ten years.
Grady Quick, my friend who has showed me how to deal with difficult situations with perspective and humor.
Past and current members of the Board of Trustees and the Deacons, whom I have heard some call “do nothing”, but who painstakingly set priorities and did more with far fewer resources than most people will ever know.
Our own Pastor Wells, who has demonstrated personal sacrifice time and time again. I will never forget several years ago when he offered to defer his own salary when Round Grove was low on cash. I will never forget.
Those who show up every week — in very hot robes as I discovered a few weeks ago — and shared their gift of Music with the congregation.
Those families whose example of years of selfless service has amazed me: the Lennerts, the Littrells, the Howells, the Murphys, and many more.
Bud Keil, who showed up at church last week, not even missing one Sunday after a heart attack. Amazing.
So much good being done here at our Church. So much more than I have time to mention (I promised Byron to limit myself to 3 minutes…sorry Byron).
I think this “good fruit” was what attracted my wife Trish and I to Round Grove many years ago. We joined because we felt the welcoming Christian Fellowship that Round Grove offers.
We have continued to be a part of the Round Grove family because we wanted to help in serving God by working side by side with you, our brothers and sisters, to build things up, and to be built up ourselves, in a world that seems to celebrate tearing down, negativity, and hurting others.
1st John 3:11-18 says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
I’d be a hypocrite if I left you thinking that I feel I measure up to these words…I don’t. But I do know that I love you all here at Round Grove and I am awed and inspired by you. You have challenged me to strive harder by the example of your dedication and loving service.
It is humbling, yet a privilege, honor, and blessing to be a part of this congregation.