As I have mentioned before, I'm grateful for the beautiful, good, precious memories of childhood. One of the things I've been thinking of lately from my childhood days is a thing we called "Faith Promise" which is a simple covenant (contract; agreement) between God and myself -- he will provide and I will give.
Good stewardship indicates we give a tithe or 10 percent of our paycheck to the church to be used to provide a salary to the pastor and to keep the lights on in our church building and to provide Sunday School curriculum and many other things for the various ministries.
If I recall correctly, the concept of faith promise was that we trusted God to provide "found money" above and beyond our earnings and promise to give it for a designated special project at church. As a little girl without a regular paycheck to tithe from, this was something I eagerly anticipated being able to do. I walked around for years looking down at the ground hoping to find pennies to give. It wasn't until my teen years that my folks could afford an allowance for us or I could earn money by babysitting or mowing yards for neighbors. In fact, there was a special emphasis that this money could not be worked for, but had to come from unexpected sources. That's the faith part. I recall many testimonies about people finding extra cash in their pockets or purse that they didn't remember having or being given non-birthday gifts of money without a designated purpose or getting a check in the mail for overpayment on a bill or finding change in the bottom of the washing machine or dryer. It may have seemed silly to give so little at the time, but God can take a little and make a lot, such as in the story of 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed a crowd of five thousand.
"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
"How many loaves do you have?" he asked, "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish."
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand." ~ Mark 6:34-43.
So last weekend, I found a quarter in the parking lot at Walmart which to me was a bit unusual.Usually I see pennies (from heaven), so I thought it would be a good thing to designate it my Faith Promise. So I slipped the quarter into a giving envelope last Sunday and gave it in the offering labeled "Faith Promise. May God increase." I'm taking it on faith that God will provide miraculous sources of income for our congregation this year.