Let Me Tell You A Story About A Girl…How A Church Changed Her Whole World!

Posted: May 6, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 21:1-4 — Two days ago, we talked about rewriting or ignoring Scripture when it comes to putting God first in our finances. Yesterday, we talked about honoring and trusting God when it comes to our finances. Today, we conclude our look at this passage. Today, let’s talk about participating in God’s ministry here on earth when we place Him at the top of our priority list when it comes to money.

Let me tell you a story. There’s a young, single mom. She sits at the table wondering how she is going to go to the grocery store and buy groceries with the money that she has left. It’s over a week to her next paycheck. She looks at the pictures on the refrigerator of days gone by when things were better. Her husband left her for a girl with no kids. He now lives in another state and doesn’t seem to care that he has living, breathing children. She cries. It is always something. It’s doctor visits. It’s having to pay for this and for that at school. And then there is day care. It’s so expensive. It makes her wonder why she works at all sometimes. She feels so lost and life just seems and endless sprint between paychecks and personal happiness seems a distant memory.

As she finally works out how to buy what they need at the grocery store on what they have left in the bank, she loads up the her 6 year old and her 3 year old little girls in the car. Just doing that is a chore because getting kids into the car is sometimes like herding cats. It is a chore that sometimes makes her not want to go anywhere. Finally, all buckled in and they head to the Bi-Lo grocery store in Lyman. On the way there as they are approaching the store, she sees a sign from that church on the hill near Bi-Lo. She chuckles at times when she passes that church because it looks more like a Harley shop than a church. But, the sign says something about a Harvest Festival. The thing that catches her eye is that it says that there will be games, rides, and food and that it is all FREE. Man, she thinks, wouldn’t that be cool! Finally something fun to do with my little girls without it costing me an arm and a leg.

Fast forward a couple of days. Still broke. Still lost. Still worried as to when life is going to get better, she sits on the deck of her apartment wondering how to entertain those sweet babies today. There is nothing left in the bank and its still three days to payday. She is so depressed. It’s this way every month. Nothing has changed. But she remembers seeing that sign about a free day of food and fun at LifeSong Church. She goes through the long routine of getting two girly girls ready. And then there’s the herding of the cats into the car. Two hours have passed but she relaxes a bit from the getting ready to go anywhere routine as she drives. As she approaches the church from Lyman, she sees the big inflatables behind the church and there looks like a lot of people there. She chuckles a bit again as she passes by the church. Vroom. Vroom, she thinks. Harley shop! As she turns into the parking, there are guys pointing her to where she should park. They are smiling. She reverse herds the cats, I mean kids, out of the car. One of the parking ministry team members, greets her and tells her he is glad she is here and directs her where to go. She thinks wow, a parking lot guy is glad I’m here. Man, if he only knew how desperate my life is.

Next, she comes to the registration desk and she is greeted friendly people that ask her a few questions and tell her about what to expect. They say they want her name, phone, and email so they can get in touch with her later. Seems weird but OK. They tell her that right beside them is a prayer tent if there is anything she needs prayer for. Boy, does she! She sits down with a girl who asks her how she is doing and what he can pray for her about. She tells him everything. It just kind came spilling out. She didn’t know why she told her all of that stuff. But the prayer person seemed genuinely interested in her. They pray. They cry together. They prayer warrior prays the blessings of Jesus Christ upon her. She feels uplifted and hopeful because someone actually cared about her pain. There is a temporary bounce in her step. Wow, she smells hot dogs. The girls love hot dogs.

They approach the wienie wagon. After waiting awhile at this popular attraction. Food draws a crowd! When they get there, she asks for three hot dogs. She asks how much. They tell her with a smile that it is free. Free? Yes. Free! What kind of church would do that? Even they have banks of ketchup bottles, and mustard bottles, and relish. Man you can have a real hot dog! Oh the chili is so good. She and the girls smile and laugh as they get mustard and ketchup on their faces. The girls see all the rides. They see all the booths with games being put on by some groups called life groups. Must be some church lingo. She doesn’t understand what a “life group” is. She approaches one of the booths and all the people seem like they are having the time of their lives putting on games for kids. Their laughter is infectious. She asks one of the ladies that seems like she is her own age and asks her what “life group” is. The young single mom that is in the booth tells her it is where we do life together. She tells her that they study the Bible together. They have fellowship together. They do projects for the community together. They just do life together. They started out as strangers and now are the best of friends through thick and thin

This young mom is intrigued by that. She has been to church before. People acted like they didn’t even know she was there til finally she wasn’t and nobody noticed. Here, she was noticed from the parking lot til now. People greeted her. Ask her for her phone number. Prayed for her. Talked to her. Man, and this church people actually like each other. She goes over to the inflatables and it is being manned by men from something called Ironmen. They treat her with dignity and respect. They are so helpful and they make over her kids like they are the most beautiful girls in the world, like princesses. This makes her smile to see men that are actually enjoying being around her kids. So different from the men she’s ever known. She goes by a booth that says something about Elevate and they tell her that its a women’s ministry and women’s struggles and about how to be a woman of God. She thinks I have heard of being a man of God, but a woman. It intrigued her. More free food. More church people just talking to her. She has a great time and she begins to pry the children away from the rides and the games. She takes them home and all three of them talk all night about there wonderful time at the church. She asks them if they want to go to church there tomorrow. They say yay!

The next day the routine of getting two girly girls is repeated. But today it seems less stressful. She doesn’t know why. The herding of the cats into the car seems less stressful too. She doesn’t know why. It all took just as long as days before but she didn’t yell at the kids for being slow and sloppy and disorganized as she usually does. She gets to LifeSong and again there are those guys helping her park. They greet her again. Two of them recognize her from yesterday because they worked the festival. She can’t believe they remembered. She smiles. She comes in the atrium. She is greeted by a jolly Mexican at the door. She asks him about child care. He directs her to the greeters. They welcome her as if she is a visting diplomat. One of them grabs and takes her to the kid registration desk and walks her to Kidzlife, the church for kids. She gets a identification tag for each of her children. She is told that it must be matched up to the tags she is given for her to be able to claim her kids. She sees a security guy with an earpiece in his ear standing nearby. It all made her feel so safe about leaving her kids with these people. When she gets back to the atrium of the worship center, at least 5 or six people that don’t seem to be serving just greet her and love on her. She walks over to the cafe and gets a cup of coffee and the people behind the counter just seem so interested in her and offer her pastries and love. She then goes into the sanctuary. She is handed a bulletin by another smiling face. Wow, look at that glossy bulletin. Man, there is a lot going on her almost daily. She seems confused as to where to sit. An usher notices and tells her that she can sit wherever she pleases and escorts her to what seems to be the best seat in the house.

Then, the music starts. Wow. This band is awesome. They are so professional. The lights and the videos are all perfect. Man, this is a professional team that puts on this worship service. Then, Pastor Jeff, as he is called, comes on stage and just blows her away with the Word of God in his sermon. He feels like Jeff is talking straight to her alone. She feels the Holy Spirit in her soul stirring her. Jeff makes the invitiation to become a child of Christ. She comes forward and cries weepingly in Jeff’s arms about that she needs a Savior. Jeff tells her to ask Jesus to come into her life. She does. She feels the Holy Spirit wash over her. She feels changed. He tells her how to get connected and stay connected so she can grow in Christ.

Fast forward a year later. She is working a booth with her life group at this year’s harvest festival. Her life group. These are her people she thinks. She loves them to death. They love her too. This group of people help her with the kids. They are just the most awesome people. She has learned so much about being a Christian woman from the girls in the group and she has learned so much about what a Christian man should be from these men. A haggard looking single mom with two little girls approaches the booth. She looks at the family and she remembers. She engages the young mother in conversation and tells her as the young woman’s two girls play the games that she was just like her. She tells about how Jesus through this church changed her life. She told her about the kids program on Sundays. She told her about how Celebrate Recovery changed her life for the better and helped her get beyond her anger and how friends there actually helped her find a better job. She told her about how this life group of hers was the best thing that ever happened to her. She tells her how she still struggles with being a single mom but how it is different with Jesus. She invites the young mom with the haggard and harried look to come to church with her tomorrow.

And the process is repeated. But if we just give our leftover $20’s to the church. Cancel this story. It doesn’t happen. Or it may happen. But it doesn’t happen often enough. How many single moms at the end of their rope are out there. How many lost souls are out there. But we can’t arrange our lives so that we can give freely to our church according to God’s commands. When we hold back our money, we hold back the ministry. When we give sacrificially to the church, we actually do reach people for Christ with that money. You get to participate in that. You get to participate in the miracles of Jesus Christ in the hearts of lost souls that we otherwise would not reach.

Do you really wanna give God your leftover $20 or give Him your best, your tithe, your firstfruit. We expand the kingdom when we are obedient to the tithe. Otherwise, cancel the story I just wrote. It doesn’t happen. But meanwhile you do have your boat, your new car, and your new house….

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