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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"She put in all she had..."

Now, one might think from the title, that this going to be a story about poker...an "all-in" bet of sorts...but those who know their Bible, know something else about this phrase...and it just so happened that I saw it once...long ago...in a big-city congregation I once served...

Another pastor and I rotated preaching on Sundays every other week...she was one of the most gifted preachers I've ever had the pleasure to hear...and her words at times were some of the most poetic musings on life and God...but it was my turn to preach, and I looked up and saw a few rows back from the front a friend of mine who was visiting that day. He had recently received a promotion at his law firm, and we were going to have breakfast after worship...on him. (He did get the big raise after all!)

Now, sitting next to him was a woman whom I knew pretty well. She had been a widow for these last twenty years, and she was a retired school teacher, and her health was not so good anymore (she has since died.) Anyhow, the worship service went as planned, and my friend joined me in my office as I was arranging things for the week, and Chris and the girls were getting their coats. He leaned into me and said, "You know Scott, I got kind of embarrassed at church this morning."
"Why? Did you forget to cross yourself during the benediction or something?" (With many Lutherans that's always a hit-and-miss type thing.)
"No. It was during your offering. All I had was 20s."
"OK." (Nothing to get too committed to here, I had two daughters and was starting a family, all I had in my wallet was debt.)
"Well, I gave you a twenty, but I felt embarrassed, so I kind of slipped it under the other envelopes."
"Why, be embarrassed about a twenty?"
"Well, it's sort of over kill, isn't it?"
Here's where it gets interesting. You see, unless you make less than $200 a week, $20 isn't overkill. It's average. "Did you see the woman sitting next to you?"
"Yes," he said, and by my tone I'm pretty certain he knew he was in for a lecture. (I am known for that.)
"Well, I know for a fact that she's eighty-six, retired school teacher, and that every week she puts a $100 bill in the offering plate. I'm sure when she saw your twenty, she wasn't embarrassed for you, she probably felt sorry for you, and if she was stronger she'd have probably invited you to lunch because you obviously couldn't afford it."
My friend nodded, and in apology reminded Chris, and me, and the girls that lunch was on him. As we entered the restaurant, I whispered to the girls to be sure and order dessert...

Living with the God of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit is not about how much money but about how much heart you have...and as I learned long ago from Maybelle, in the end it's only your heart that matters to God.

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