|A very special $3 Christmas gift|
|Friday, December 13, 2013 9:21 PM|
I’m writing this letter to you to let you know how God used the $3 you gave me to put in the offering for you this past Sunday to touch me in a very special way.
I remember the service was over and most people had left the sanctuary. I was walking down the center aisle toward the lobby when you got my attention by saying something like, “Pastor, can I still put my money in the offering?” I remember saying something like, “Sure Zack, I’ll make sure it gets to the people who are counting the money.”
You began to reach into one pocket after another trying to find your tithe/offering. I was in a little bit of a hurry because I was supposed to meet someone in my office after the service and told you to take your time looking for your offering while I walked toward or perhaps into the lobby. However, you quickly found your offering, walked over to me and handed me three dollar bills which were tightly rolled up. Each of them had a green ribbon tied around it. I thought that was neat but was in a hurry so see if the people I was supposed to meet were in my office so I walked quickly away holding the $3. Unfortunately, the folks I was looking for had already left and I discovered that the tithes and offerings had already been counted. I saw the church treasurer, handed her the $3 and asked her to put them in the safe so they could be counted with next Sunday’s tithes and offerings.
About 4am the next morning I woke up and the first thing I thought of was those three one dollar bills that were rolled up with a ribbon tied around each of them. I thought of you and how you were searching in your pockets for your offering and how eager and excited you were to give it to the Lord. I don’t know if I can explain this to you the way I want to, but God began to speak to me about your $3 offering.
He reminded me that while a pastor and his family are meant to be a gift from God to the church, the individuals and families that are part of the church are God’s gift to the pastor. It’s like God increases the size of a pastor’s heart so he has more room to love the people that God calls us to minister to. That’s a wonderful thing but when people leave the church (no matter what the reason is) it’s like they take a part of your heart with them.
Sometimes we as pastors, who want to liked, respected and successful in ministry, can get frustrated and disappointed because there are so many hurting people and we want so much to help them and to be like Jesus to them but we can’t make everyone happy no matter how hard we try. Your mommy and daddy, as well as your Grandpa and Grandma Hanes (perhaps others in your family), have served in ministry in local churches and they understand what I’m trying to say.
Anyway… God continued to speak to me and remind me of all the hundreds of people that Janie and I have been privileged to share our lives with during our lifetime as well as the past 23 years in the ministry. He reminded me that while there are some bad days and difficult days, there are also many joyous and wonderful ones! He reminded me that just because some people don’t receive the love that we want to give them we need to keep on loving them just like He loves us and never gives up on us.
As I lay there with tears in my eyes and thinking of how blessed I am to know people like you, Zack, I began to get an idea. I wanted to remember your $3 offering and how special it was to God and is to me. I’m not sure if God gave me the idea but I hope you are OK with what I have done. I couldn’t sleep, so I went to the basement and began to look at (on CDs) some of the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken of church events and special days over the years. The first CD I put in the computer to look at was labeled “Pet Sunday 2011.” The first picture that came on the monitor was one of you! (I’ve enclosed a copy of that picture). I felt like God was confirming what He wanted me to do with your $3 offering.
Later that morning, I put $3 in an offering envelope, wrote your name on the envelope, gave it to our church treasurer and explained to her why I wanted to replace your $3 with mine. I have a lot of Bibles but I have one that I use the most. It is called a “PASTOR’S BIBLE.” I am using each of the dollars as a bookmark.
The first one is placed in my Bible on the page where Luke chapter 2 tells about the birth of Jesus. The second dollar bookmarks Matthew 27 and 28 where the story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, His resurrection from the dead and His giving us The Great Commission is told.
The third dollar bookmarks John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
I placed a copy of the picture of you (just like the one enclosed in this letter) as a bookmark of Mark 1:17 “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” That is the scripture I used as my chosen verse on the night that I was ordained as a pastor in the Assemblies of God.
I’ve carefully taped inside my Bible each of the dollar bills (with the ribbon still tied around them) and your picture in the places I’ve just referenced so they won’t fall out and be lost. Every time I look at my Bible, I will see the green ribbons. I’ll open the Bible to each of the special bookmarks (including the picture of you) and I’ll remember a special Sunday morning in December when a little boy named Zack Brown gave God and me a very special $3 Christmas gift!
Love, Blessings and Prayer,