This is Dan Goeckel. We have been at PUMC now for about 16-17 years. And yet, it seems like just a short time ago that our family arrived at the doorstep of our Lord -- with Darragh, almost 4 at the time, and Regan on the verge of turning 2. Time flies by, doesn’t it? As we stood on that doorstep, nervous would be an understatement of how Kacy and I felt. What would going to church with Regan look like with her challenges? Would we be welcomed? But, after a short while with God in our lives and a church family to support us, we began to see how God had entrusted our very lives to us and how he was going to help guide our steps, both personally and professionally.
Speaking from experience, I feel as though I let God down time and time again over the years. But the longer I try to live out his word, the more I understand that he knows this, sees this and still loves us and wants us to keep trying. There is an Ash Wednesday card that I keep in my car; I don’t know how long I have had it. The card is covered in dirt, smudged with fingerprints, and framed with frayed edges. On this card is written: “God does not wait for us to become perfect and in possession of only high, pure thoughts and mixed motives before moving through us. God waits only for the sign of faith.”
During these flying times, we have transitioned from not understanding how the church “works” to having a very good understanding about how we can serve our church’s goals and ministries. As we are all reminded, our church’s mission is to make new disciples of Jesus Christ in order to transform lives, families and our community. We work together to connect to God and each other so that we can grow in His love, and better serve one another. Our church family values compassion, acceptance, and collaboration of community services and commitment. These ministry services include large scope community efforts such as Backpacks for Bellies and the Portland Community Food Bank down to some smaller services such as canning applesauce for the food bank. There is a wide range of ways to help our surrounding community.
In order to accomplish these goals and ministries in caring for our community, the term stewardship arises. Yes, stewardship often refers to money. We all know that money is an essential item to getting things done. But, stewardship is more than that. When we joined the church, we were timid in terms of involvement and our support of the church financially, because we saw it as supporting just the church building. Now we understand, stewardship carries a much different meaning than that of money management alone. Stewardship’s formal definition from Merriam-Webster is “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
We have been entrusted by God to extend his love to others in both tangible and intangible ways. We can understand stewardship even better through “The Parable of the Bags of Gold”, Matthew 24:14-30. To sum it up, when you do nothing what is the expected return? Yup, little to nothing. But if you do more, or more than what you think you can do, you get greater returns in life and in business! Why? God blesses those who care for others. Numbers 18:29 states “You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and the holiest part of everything given to you.” To underline that, Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Stewardship is about the care of what you have been given, whether that be children, home, car, job, health, money, or you name it. Stewardship is an opportunity entrusted to us from God. We honor God by giving back to others. Hence, the stewardship challenge is proving to no one else but ourselves that God comes first in our lives.
We are asking you to grow with us and create something great here at PUMC! This is our family, largely due to the love and acceptance Regan has received and in turn Kacy, Darragh and myself. We know that life and its financial struggles are hard, but we also know that sometimes success is only one more step away. If you stop one step shy, you might never get to feel God touching your heart in ways that cannot be explained. Seeing and hearing things that others will call irony, but we call faith!
Prayerfully consider what growing looks like in the coming days and weeks. Prayerfully consider your personal stewardship. Call and ask me questions. Call and ask any member questions. I am an open book as are many others in our church. The more you know the easier a decision it becomes. Prayerfully, Dan Goeckel