Dear Fellow Stewards,
The old year and the new continue to offer me the challenge of stewardship of all the Lord has given us as His servants. In so many ways the Scriptures affirm that we are responsible and will give an account of what He entrusted to each of us. Those aspects of trust differ in two ways as is seen in the parables the Lord Jesus gave.
In one parable He gave each of His servants a “pound” (Luke 19:13-ff). In a separate parable recorded in Matt 25 each of the three slaves got a different number of “talents.” The messages are similar in that stewardship is the primary outcome of receiving the Master’s possessions. Accountability for what we are given is a hallmark of Biblical literature.
What is interesting is the breakdown of the responses of the servants each one offered as an account of their stewardship. About 30 plus years ago I taught the parables of the gospels which included most of the accounts of the Lord’s messages to the disciples as well as the leaders of Israel. I came across a summary I had written after a reenactment of the parable of the pounds. After I taught the parable I proceeded to give every adult in the meeting a two dollars bill as a stewardship to see how we would react to what the Lord had done in His parable in Luke 19.
There were sixty three adults on that Sunday and each got a $2.00 bill. I chose that denomination because the exchange rate at that time was $2.00 US to one British pound. (Just a random thought!) My instruction was that in 77 days each one was to turn in the result of their stewardship over the ten week period. I let them know that any increase would be sent to missionaries known to the family of God at Community.
On the tenth week we had a special service and gave each one an opportunity to give a report of what they had done with the $2.00, how they had “invested it” and what the outcome was. Many interesting stories were told and a record was made of the results. On that momentous day 28 people responded with their story which collectively amounted to $400.01
The tally was very interesting. 56% did nothing! One person put the $2.00 bill in an envelope with a note and just about gave a word for word report from the Parable! “Here is your $2.00 bill I kept it” it said etc. 11 returned the identical $2.00 bill with no explanation. The least return was about 59% of those who increased the amount. The biggest return was about $250.00.
Some of the inventive ways of multiplying the funds were curious. Some made cookies and sold them. Some bought gas and moved lawns. Collected bottles and cans and redeemed them. Potted plants and sold them. Made bookmarks and sold them. Took pictures, made cards and sold them. “I” gave to the church $126.00 and 77 days later they brought back for report $400.01. A number gave back cash and gave no explanation of how it was turned from $2.00 into $4, $10, $12, or $23 etc. Thirteen returned what they had gained and explained how the increase was accomplished.
It became known as “The Great 77 days.” Some in the fellowship were profoundly affected by the exercise and the lessons from the parables. A good number were amazed that the results were almost exactly the same as it was told by the Lord 2000 years ago. Several were challenged to give more to the Lord. The idea of having to give an account impressed a few and drove them to actually do something to increase the amount that was under their stewardship.
Perhaps we do not often consider our appearance at the Judgment Seat of Christ when we will give an account of our stewardship. Even that may not impel us to be concerned with what we are stewards of today or with what was given to us yesterday or last year. Our account of our stewardship of time, money, possessions etc may explain the text that says we may “be ashamed before Him at His coming.”
The past month has suggested that exercise regarding the stewardship of some of these things. The Lord continues to give us good health. Of that we must give an account. Jenny’s knee surgery is satisfactory and she is scheduled to continue to do PT on her own over the next six months to return good use of that joint. The finances we have been entrusted with by the Lord and His people offer us the opportunity to share with others in the field as well as taking care of our expenses of travel and life in general. The damage from Hurricane Matthew has largely been rectified. A few details remain to be repaired. Much of the cost was covered by insurance.
Our family continues in the spheres of activity that has required their attention over the past few months. As for the Grandchildren; one is in High School and is choosing a college. Four are in college. Two are gainfully employed. Two are married and gainfully employed. Many of our prayers are being answered day by day in their lives for which we are grateful.
The stewardship of this year is reflected in the schedule of ministry the Lord has given us which has already begun. It is listed below. Many of the churches are the same as recent years with a few new commitments. Your prayers for all of these are one of the greatest investments you can make in our service to the Lord and His people. Paper copies of our schedule will be sent on request.
We are very appreciative of the many cards, letters, emails, texts and calls offering Christmas and New Years greetings. We were with 2/3 of our family for Christmas and were alone for New Years. We know you did not hear from us during these holidays but, as has been our practice, our letter for the New Year is after you have finished your holiday celebration, put away the ornaments and sit down with enough time to read our lengthy missive. Thanks!
This year marks the 50th year we have lived and served in Florence and around the world. Though we do not make 4 month trips as we used to we are blessed to be able to serve both in the US with occasional trips out of the country.
Our literary efforts continue to be useful in many lives. “Blessings All Mine…” is now in five languages with about 25,000 in print. Translation is being worked on in Italian, Portuguese and the language of Orissa in India. A few are exercised about seeing it in Canada as well. These efforts need to be underwritten to make it a value that can be afforded by folks in India.
We know not what a day or this year will bring to us but we are confident that there are no surprises to the Lord who continues to orchestrate our lives. We are courageous enough to leave it with Him. But concerned enough to be good stewards of all He has entrusted to us as we continue,
Serving the greatest Master
Fred and Jenny Kosin