|
Coming Soon

Stewardship, Week 1

The Earth Belongs to the Lord

Psalm 24:1

Remember, everything belongs to God.

Amos Finnegan ran a hand over his nearly bald head as he scooped one level spoonful of brown sugar into his oatmeal and counted out exactly 23 raisins. He peered into the nearly empty box.

“Already? Hmph,” he groused. “I’ll have to go buy more.”

For fifty-one years, Amos had gone grocery shopping together with his wife, Mary. Now she was gone, and he didn’t like going to the store by himself.

Sighing, he glanced out the window. His wooded lot was wild and full of brambles. Only the grass right around the house was neat, mowed by Ilsa, a college student who came to help him out every Monday. As Amos turned to look out the front window, he was surprised to see a moving van in front of the dilapidated house next door.

“Someone must have bought the old Randall place,” he said, surprised. But his thoughts were interrupted by laughter and the sound of voices from behind the house.

“Now what’s that?”

Grabbing his cane, Amos hobbled through the kitchen to look out his back window. An untidy apple orchard grew at the back of his lot. Though it was usually peaceful, now he spotted three children—two boys and a girl—scrambling up the trees.

“Those rascals!” he exclaimed.

Amos barged out onto the back porch, waving his cane. “You! Get out of my orchard!” he shouted.

The oldest boy swung down from a low branch, a half-eaten apple in hand. “But there’s no fence or anything,” he pointed out.

“It’s mine, you miscreant,” Amos thundered. “Leave it alone!”

“Okay, okay. Sorry,” the boy said quickly. He rounded up his siblings and they trotted back toward the house next door.

“Rapscallions,” muttered Amos.

A dark cloud of irritation followed Amos for the rest of the morning. He was even short with Ilsa when she arrived to clean his kitchen and vacuum the floors.

“Do you have to be that loud?” he grumbled. When she was finished, he sank down in his armchair. “Finally. A little peace and quiet.”

But the stillness was interrupted by the sounds of a barking dog and shouting children. Amos grabbed his cane and rapped it on the floor. “Those scalawags are back!” he exclaimed. “I warned them.”

Heaving himself up, he stalked to the back door. Ilsa followed close behind. As Amos shoved open the door, he could see a large, spotted dog bounding through the orchard, the three children chasing after.

“Git,” called Amos. “I told you to git out!”

“We’re only trying to catch Scooby!” the girl shouted.

“He chewed through his leash,” the younger boy explained.

The oldest boy finally got a hand on the dog’s collar. “We’re going, okay?” he said. The children scurried away, dog in tow.

Ilsa watched them leave. “They weren’t doing any harm,” she pointed out.

“That’s my Mary’s orchard!” Amos told her. “I won’t have anyone tearing it up.”

“Well, of course, it’s a special place,” Ilsa agreed. “But Mary let anyone come pick apples. And
you know how many apple pies she gave away.”

“No one made apple pie like my Mary,” Amos reflected.

“That’s right,” Ilsa prompted. “She knew God gave you both this beautiful place and all those
apples—to do amazing things with.”

Amos nodded slowly. “You sound a bit like she did.”

“I know you miss her very much,” Ilsa said gently.

Cooling down, Amos headed back into the kitchen and picked up the well-worn Bible on the counter. “This was hers,” he told Ilsa. “She was always going on about our place, how it was a gift . . .”

The Bible fell open to the Psalms. One passage stood out, highlighted. Amos read, remembering: “The earth belongs to the Lord. And so does everything in it. The world belongs to him. And so do all those who live in it.”

Ilsa smiled as she pulled ingredients from the fridge. “I like that. And I really hope you like this pot roast I’m leaving in the oven for your dinner.”

After Ilsa left, Amos stared out his back window at the tangled orchard. The twisted branches hung heavy with ripe fruit. At last he picked up a burlap sack and made his way down the back steps, whistling.


A short time later, Amos arrived on the front porch of the house next door, heavy bag in hand. The door stood wide open. Boxes were stacked everywhere inside, and he could hear thumps and footsteps from somewhere inside in the house.

“Hello?” he called out.

A woman wearing overalls and a kerchief over her hair appeared from the living room. “Hi,” she said, hesitant.

“I live next door—” began Amos.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” the woman exclaimed, her face reddening. “The kids, I know they’ve been bothering you—”

“No, no. Not at all,” he assured her. “I’m Amos.”

The woman held out her hand. “Molly Wright. My husband Patrick is around somewhere, and you’ve seen the kids.” She paused briefly and then asked: “Is it just you, or—?”

Amos smiled. “If my Mary was still here, she’d have brought you the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted. But it’s just me, so this will have to do,” he said as he handed over the bag of apples. “There’s McIntosh in there, and Gala and I don’t know what all.”

“Thank you!” Molly exclaimed. “You didn’t have to . . . ”

“No good keeping ’em all for myself,” Amos told her. “You come pick them any time. And tell your friends.”

Molly smiled. “That’s very gracious.”

Amos caught sight of the kids, peeking down from the top of the stairs. He winked. “And tell those young’uns they’re welcome to do all the fort building and treasure hunting they’d like in
the orchard.”

“Well . . . if you really don’t mind,” Molly said. “They’ll be so excited to use your place.”

“Oh, it’s not mine,” Amos noted. “Not really. You could say . . . it’s on loan.”

Amos waved goodbye and headed back to his own home. As he let himself inside, he found himself smiling for the first time all day.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Share with each other your three favorite things that you own or use.

It might be a toy, a game, a gadget, or even a place. Whatever you listed, there’s one thing true about all those things: they all belong to God. He created the entire world and every person in it. Sure, He may not have directly made your tablet, but He created all the resources that go into it and gave individuals the creativity and intelligence to invent them. Whatever you’ve got, it’s like Amos said—it’s on loan from God. How does this change how you view your “stuff”? How does it change how you treat your things and what you choose to do with them? Together, ask God to remind you that everything you have is a gift from Him—and ask Him to show you how to use it.

Coming Soon

Stewardship, Week 2

Teach Us to Number Our Days

Pslam 90:12

Use your time wisely.

At first, Destiny was excited about the video game her parents bought for her birthday.

“MountainCraft?” she exclaimed as she ripped open the paper. “This looks really cool.”

“I researched online,” her mom explained, “and it’s great for teaching math and problem solving skills.”

“Oh,” Destiny said, suddenly a lot less thrilled about the game. She set MountainCraft on her nightstand and forgot about it—until the afternoon her friend Brianna was supposed to come over but got sick and had to cancel.

The girls had planned to walk to the park. But Destiny didn’t feel like going alone. As she set down her phone, MountainCraft caught her eye.

She shrugged and picked it up. “Why not?”

The game setup was pretty simple. “So, I’m building my own mountain kingdom . . . ” she murmured as she navigated the opening phase. “These graphics are pretty amazing . . . ”

Soon, Destiny was lost in her own world. Literally.

“A maze!” she decided, deftly wielding her game controller. “If I turn this side of the mountain into a maze, I’ll completely confuse the Mud Worms when they invade.”

At dinner, she was distracted. And afterward she returned to the game until her mom checked in. “Time to go to bed, sweetie,” she told Destiny.

Destiny reluctantly turned off the game. But once she was in bed, she thought of a brilliant new way to create an escape chute out of ice. So she crept back downstairs and snuck in an extra 45 minutes of game play . . . which made it tough getting out of bed in the morning.

“You look tired,” her mom said at breakfast as Destiny rubbed her eyes.

“What?” Destiny searched for an excuse. “Um . . . maybe I’m getting strep like Brianna.”

Mom shook her head. “I hope not. Don’t you have that big math test tomorrow?”

After dinner, Destiny picked up her books and headed for the family room. She meant to study for the math test. She really did. But all she could hear in her head was the MountainCraft soundtrack.

“Mom even said that MountainCraft teaches math,” Destiny told herself. “So it’s kind of like studying, right?”

That night, Destiny stayed up even later. And the next day at dinner, when her dad asked how her test had gone, Destiny hedged. “We don’t actually get our grades back until Monday,” she told him.

“Tomorrow will take your mind off it,” her dad noted. Most Saturdays, Destiny went with her dad to help serve breakfast at a nearby shelter. “Ms. Robertson texted they’ve got a new griddle,” her dad added. “We’ll be able to crank out some serious pancakes!”

Destiny stared at her plate. “I . . . might not go tomorrow.”

Dad looked surprised. “And miss your bacon fix? I know you love making people grin when you hand out all that extra bacon.”

“I’m just . . . a little tired,” Destiny explained.

Her parents exchanged a worried glance, but Destiny’s mind was already on her incredible game world. As soon as she was up Saturday morning, she got back to taking over a second mountain and fortifying the base with an imposing ring of pine trees and quartz caverns.

Later, Destiny begged off going on a bike ride with her parents and younger brother Anthony. While they were gone, Destiny discovered a game tool for altering gravity. She was so absorbed she didn’t notice her dad standing in the doorway—until he cleared his throat. Loudly.

Destiny jumped. “How long have you been there?” She turned off the game console—but not before saving her position.

“Looks like MountainCraft is a pretty fun game after all,” her dad pointed out.

“It’s okay,” Destiny said.

“From what I see, you’re doing some pretty complicated things,” he said.

Destiny crossed her arms. “It’s not just a game. I’m learning stuff.”

“That’s great,” her dad agreed. “But you’ve only got so much time in a day. Your mom and Anthony went to get pizza. Dinner in ten minutes, okay?”

Destiny nodded. She restarted her game after her dad left, but what he’d said about time stuck in her brain. It reminded her of something from her small group leader at church.

“Where was that?” she wondered, scrolling through the texts on her phone. She vaguely recalled a verse sent out last month to encourage everyone.

“Ice cream . . . roller skating . . . ” she murmured. “Oh, here it is.”

Destiny found the verse at last, Psalm 90:12. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Destiny tried to think back through the last few days. They were kind of a blur. She’d been so buried in MountainCraft she hadn’t paid much attention to the minutes and hours—much less days. It was a cool game. But it was also the only thing she’d been spending her free time on.

Just then, Anthony bounded in. “Hey, you totally should have come biking!” he exclaimed. “We saw these two fat squirrels get in a fight. And Mom says dinner is ready. And hey! Is that MountainCraft?”

“Yeah,” Destiny said. “It is.”

“Carlos says it’s the most awesome game ever. Can I play? Will you teach me?” Anthony reached for the controller, but Destiny grinned and clicked off the console.

“Sure, I’ll teach you,” she said. “Sometime. But right now I smell pizza. And after that, I think you and me should shoot some hoops outside to get you ready for tryouts.”

Anthony lit up. “Really? Will you help me work on my free throw?”

“You bet.”

Destiny clattered into the kitchen with her younger brother, leaving the game behind. Sure, it was fun building imaginary worlds. But it was even better spending time with her friends and family in the real one.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of family you come from—you’ve got the same amount of minutes in a day as everyone else you meet.

Time is an amazing gift from God! Take a few minutes of that time and think through what “extra” time you have in your week. It might be a half an hour between school and dance class. Or Saturday mornings. Or between the time your homework is finished and bedtime. Now share with each other what you think it looks like to use those times wisely, rather than wasting them. You can even brainstorm suggestions for each other. Then pray for each other—ask God to help you pay attention to the time He has given you and ask Him to help you find creative ways to use it wisely.

Coming Soon

Stewardship, Week 3

Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

Use your things wisely.

When Jesus wanted to explain something to people, He often did it in the form of a story. One day He told His closest friends about a rich man with three servants. If He told the story today, it might sound something like this . . .

***

There once was an inventor who built a car that ran on vegetable peels and sunshine. He called it the Tin Carrot. Millions of people bought the inventor’s spiffy car, and he was soon quite wealthy. One day he requested to see the top three managers of the Tin Carrot company. We’ll call them Red, Huck, and Sunny.

“I’m taking a road trip in my Tin Carrot to travel the whole country!” announced the inventor. “And I’m leaving the three of you in charge of the company. I want each of you to try out a new business venture for Tin Carrot, Inc. while I’m gone.”

“A brilliant move, sir,” said Red.

“I aim to do the job right!” exclaimed Huck.

“What, you want us to work on this for free?” grumbled Sunny.

“Of course not,” exclaimed the inventor as he pulled out three brightly-colored cards. “Red, here’s the access code to my platinum business account with 500,000 dollars.”

“A sound financial choice,” Red noted.

“Huck, I’m giving you the PIN to my gold account with 200,000 dollars,” said the inventor.

Huck grinned as he took the card. “I’m just rarin’ to go.”

The inventor handed the third card over to Sunny. “Here’s the password for my silver account with 100,000 dollars.”

Sunny frowned at the card. “That’s great. Unless the bank fails while you’re gone.”

“I shall return by the end of this carrot harvest!” exclaimed the inventor. “Or later. Perhaps when the sweet potatoes are planted.”

The inventor hopped in his nifty Tin Carrot car and took off.

Red immediately pulled the funds from the platinum account and got to work. “I’ll breed a new kind of carrot that’s all peel for fuel,” he announced.

Huck quickly invested his money, too. “I’ll design a trailer for the Tin Carrot so folks can drive a small car and still haul their big dogs and livestock and such,” he enthused.

Sunny also withdrew the funds from the account he’d been given. He sat at his desk with the money stacked between fast food wrappers and Blu-ray® discs. “If I try to do anything with the money, I’ll probably just lose it, and everyone will be mad,” he grumbled. “Plus, I won’t have time to watch all the newest movie releases at the Blue Box.”

So Sunny took the money and hid it at the back of the office supply closet, among all the old file folders and paper clips that no one ever cleaned out.

After a long time—two sweet potato harvests later—the inventor returned.

“Red! Huck! Sunny!” he called out.

“A pleasure to see you, sir,” said Red.

“Right good to have you back,” grinned Huck.

“Didn’t you just leave?” groused Sunny.

The inventor took a seat behind his massive desk decorated with golden baby carrots. “I wish to know exactly what you’ve done with what I left for you,” he stated.

Red stepped forward and displayed a deeply wrinkled, bright orange carrot on a silver platter. “I took your money and bred a carrot that is entirely peel,” he explained. “Half an acre of these specimens can fuel a Tin Carrot car for a lifetime. You trusted me with 500,000, and sales have accumulated 500,000 more.”

“Fantastic!” declared the inventor. “You have been faithful with what I gave you. I will put you in charge of even more. Come and be happy with me! Now what about you, Huck?”

“Just cast yer eyes out that there window,” Huck said, pointing. “See how many goats I got stacked in the trailer behind my Tin Carrot car?”

The inventor hopped up to take a look. A dozen goats lined up side by side in the trailer behind the car, looking quite pleased with themselves.

“No kidding,” murmured the inventor. “Quite impressive.”

“Now anyone can drive a Tin Carrot, whether they gotta transport horses or canoes or a dozen kids,” added Huck. “You left me with 200,000 dollars, and I’ve made 200,000 more.”

“Well color me orange,” chuckled the inventor. “You have been faithful with what I gave you. I will put you in charge of even more. Come and be happy with me!” He turned to the third manager. “And Sunny? What have you done?”

Sunny skulked forward carrying a big recycling bin full of bills. He dropped it at the inventor’s feet. “Here you go. One hundred thousand smackeroos.”

The inventor raised an eyebrow. “That’s what I gave you to start with.”

Sunny crossed his arm. “I didn’t lose any of it, did I? I knew that you’re really smart with money. I figured if I tried something and it didn’t work out, you’d get mad. So I just, you know, hid it. And here it is.”

The inventor’s eyes narrowed and he stood again, towering over Sunny. “You foolish man! You knew I was smart with money? Well, you could have left it in the bank, at least, so it would earn interest.”

“There are some paper clips in there,” pointed out Sunny. “That’s worth something extra, right?”


The inventor turned to Red and Huck and gestured to the bin full of cash. “Take this away from Sunny. Red, I want you to invest the money in your All-Peel Carrot. Those who take care of what they have will be given more. And those who don’t? Even what they already have will be taken away.”

“Little harsh, don’t you think?” protested Sunny.

“Take him away!” ordered the inventor.

“Hey! Does this mean I’m out of a job?” Sunny asked.

Red and Huck escorted Sunny out the door—and he never again set foot inside the offices of Tin Carrot, Inc.

***

The story that Jesus told certainly didn’t include carrots or cars. But it did make clear to His friends that God expects us to use the things He has given us to do greater and greater things.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God has given us all “stuff.” For some people it’s a lot of possessions, and for others it’s very few.

Chances are, you live in a place where you have a lot of stuff, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you. Together, make a list of things that you, as a family and individually, have. How long is the list? Bottom line, it doesn’t actually matter how much you have—what matters to God is how you choose to use those things, whether it’s your home, the food in your refrigerator, or your collection of LEGO® blocks. Brainstorm some ways that you could use the things on your list wisely. It might be inviting another family over for game night, packing a lunch for that guy on the corner who’s asking for help, or even just sharing your new game with your little sister. Pray for each other, that you will remember throughout each day to use the “stuff” God has given you wisely, to show love to God and others.

Coming Soon

Stewardship, Week 4

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Use your money wisely.

Thomas and his friend, Daniel, hopped off the bus on the corner as usual. Daniel lived just a few buildings down, but Thomas had five blocks to get home, and he was already tired and thirsty. He eyed the large bottle of water Daniel had just pulled out of his backpack.

“Hey man, could I have a drink?” he asked.

“You can have the whole thing,” Daniel told him, and handed over the bottle.

“Aren’t you thirsty?” Thomas wondered.

Daniel shrugged. “I’ll be home soon enough.”

“Thanks!” Thomas exclaimed. He quickly chugged down half the bottle, grateful. “You didn’t have to give me the whole thing.”

Daniel just grinned. “I wanted to,” he said.

It made Thomas think of his great-grandmother—and what she always said. He could see her bright, dark eyes and hear her voice in his head as she recited her favorite verse: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.”

Daniel’s voice cut into Thomas’ thoughts. “Hey, you coming or what?”

As the two boys started down the street, Thomas’ phone buzzed. He pulled it out to check his new message, but the cracked screen went blank. “Not again,” he groaned.

“You really need a better phone,” Daniel said, holding up him own brand-new model.

Thomas sighed and shook his phone until the message reappeared. “Mom can’t get me a phone this month ’cause our rent just went up,” he noted. “But I’m gonna buy one myself. Mr. Salazar’s paying me for trimming all the bushes and pulling weeds and stuff around the building.”

“Your landlord?” Daniel asked.

“Yeah, I’ve been working on it all week,” Thomas said. “Every afternoon.”

When Thomas finally made it home, he spotted his older sister Camila’s car parked outside the building. Just then Camila emerged from the entrance door, lugging Sofia, Thomas’ 18-month-old niece, on her hip.

“To-mas!” Sofia giggled and toddled over to him, arms outstretched. Thomas scooped up his wriggling niece as Camila tossed the diaper bag in her beat-up Toyota.

“Mom says you cleaned up all the bushes and stuff out here,” she said. “Looks great!”

Thomas surveyed the neat beds and trees around the building with pride. It did look pretty good. “It was a lot of work,” he pointed out. “Just look!” He displayed the scratches on his arms.

“Well, you deserve a good paycheck, for sure!” Camila agreed.

Camila took Sofia and bundled her into the car seat. Sofia’s curly head nearly reached over the top and her feet kicked the seat in front of her.

Thomas frowned. “Sofia’s way too big for that seat, Cam.”

Camila tried to clean a handful of Cheerios out of the seat, but they disappeared through the torn cover. “She can hold out a couple more months in this one. The toddler seats are so expensive we just can’t do it right now.”

“Oh.” Thomas sighed. There had to be a way to get Sofia a better seat. He waved goodbye to Camila and Sofia and headed for the door—just as Mr. Salazar rounded the corner of the building.

“Thomas!” he called, waving an envelope. He jogged over and handed it to Thomas. “Here. You did good.”

Thomas eagerly took the envelope and waited until Mr. Salazar had disappeared to check inside. There were five wrinkled twenty-dollar bills.

“One hundred dollars!” Thomas exclaimed. That meant a new phone for sure. Thomas bounded inside and up the flight of stairs to his apartment. He threw open the door.

“Mom!” he called.


Thomas’ mother turned from the stove where she was cooking dinner. “Did Mr. Salazar find you?” she asked. “I’m so proud of you. All that work.”

She smiled, and for a moment, Thomas saw his great-grandmother in her face and heard her voice once again in his head.

“God loves a cheerful giver.”

Then Thomas pictured Sofia, bouncing around in her too-small car seat. He thought for a moment, then smiled back at his mother.

“Yeah. Mr. Salazar found me,” he said. Thomas pulled out his phone and did a quick online search.

“You gonna get your new phone now?” his mother asked.

Thomas shook his head and explained. “I saw Camila leaving. Sofia’s about to bust out of that car seat.”

As he spoke, Thomas found what he was looking for online: a brand-new car seat, perfect for an active toddler. He showed the picture to his mother and asked, “Can we order this for Sofia?”

Thomas’ mother took a quick look and shook her head. “I wish we could, Thomas, but rent is due tomorrow.”

Thomas took a deep breath and held out the twenty-dollar bills. “We can use this.”

“Oh, Thomas. Are you sure?” his mother asked.

“My phone still works okay,” Thomas pointed out. “And Sofia really needs a new seat.”

Thomas’ mother beamed. “I don’t know what to say, but . . . thank you. Camila will be so happy.”

Together, they studied the choices, and Thomas picked out a pink seat cover for his niece. Sure, he still wanted a new phone. But for now, he had a better use for the money.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Parents, share with your kids examples of how you use your money wisely for things like giving, saving and spending —or how you would like to use it more wisely.

Kids, think about the money you have, whether it’s an allowance, money for doing chores, birthday money, or even just spare change you’ve found. Now together, brainstorm ways you could wisely give, save, or spend that money. Choose at lease one thing to do this week. Then together, ask God to help you make wise choices in how you use the money that He has given you.

Coming Soon

Stewardship, Week 5

Treasures in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-24

Live like you know what really matters.

Jordan sighed as she pulled into an employee parking spot at Potter’s Pizza Palace. Her tiny car with peeling paint and missing hubcaps looked especially ratty next to Mr. Potter’s brand-new red sports car.

“Next year, that’ll be me!” she promised herself.

Jordan had been saving every penny she could spare to buy a new car. It was tough fitting in extra shifts at the Pizza Palace between her college classes, but she was determined.

“It’ll be so amazing,” she murmured, “flying down the road with the top down and the wind in my face.”

Inside the kitchen, Jordan grabbed an apron. Mr. Potter called her over to where he was manning the brick oven, a hairnet over his wild, gray mane.

“Ray’s out sick with the flu,” he told her. “Can you fill in the next two evenings?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Potter!” she exclaimed.

“You sure it won’t cut into your studies?” he worried. “Don’t want you missing class, young lady.”

Jordan was studying to be a nutritionist. “Someone’s gotta be here to make you kale and flax seed pizza,” she joked.

Mr. Potter pretended to gag. “You bring a single sprig of kale around this place, and you’re fired!” he snapped, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

The next day after her chemistry class, Jordan took a few minutes to check her savings account online. Despite all her hard work, the total still seemed to grow so slowly.

“I gotta work even more hours,” she muttered, “or I’m gonna be driving a beater car forever.”

Her thoughts were interrupted by Professor Watkins, who was approaching her seat. “Jordan?”

Jordan quickly shut her laptop and jumped up. “I was just leaving.” Professor Watkins smiled, “Actually, I was noticing your jersey.”

Jordan glanced down at her red and gold soccer jersey. “Oh. Thanks . . .”

“Do you play soccer?” her professor asked.

“I used to,” Jordan told her.

“I’m coaching a team of fourth grade girls, and we could really use an assistant,” her professor explained. “Would you be interested?”

Jordan had loved playing soccer, and she really missed it. “Wow!” she exclaimed. “That would be cool.”

“We practice Tuesday and Thursday evenings with games on Saturdays.”

“Oh.” There was no way Jordan wanted to give up the money she could be earning at work those times. “Sorry,” she said. “I’ve got work.”

Jordan scooped up her books and headed off across campus. As she approached her next class, her phone rang. Jordan checked her caller ID and answered.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Hi, sweetie, how are you?” her mother chirped.

Jordan checked the time on her screen. “Fine. Busy. Almost to class.”

“I’ll make it quick,” her mother promised. “You know I volunteer at that women’s shelter? Well, the food is kind of terrible, and I was thinking, since you’re studying nutrition . . . would you be willing to create a new menu for the shelter? Meals that are nutritious and taste really good, but aren’t too expensive.”

Jordan beamed. It sounded like a great challenge.

“That would be fun!” she began. Then she considered just how much time it would take and quickly backtracked. “But, um, I’m really busy with class. And work. I can’t.”

“Oh.” Jordan’s mother sounded disappointed. “I see.”

Jordan took a deep breath. She’d have time for other things after she finished saving up for her brand-new shiny car.

As she drove to work that evening for her extra shift, her phone rang once again.

This time it is was Jordan’s younger sister, Libby, who had been having a difficult time adjusting to high school.

“Lib,” Jordan asked. “What’s up?”

“Hey, your fall break is the same time as mine, right?” Libby said, her voice strained. “I really need a break. Like a real break. Can you take me camping in the mountains?”

Jordan’s family had gone camping every fall when the girls were younger. She loved the crisp evenings around the campfire, talking late into the night. But she couldn’t imagine taking that time off work right now.

“I gotta work, Libby,” she pointed out.

“It’s only for a couple days,” Libby begged.

Jordan sighed. “Sorry. Just got to the Pizza Palace.” Jordan ended the call and drove around to park. But as she pulled in beside Mr. Potter’s car, her eyes widened.

The passenger side of the red sports car was bashed in, and the front fender had been torn off.

Jordan hurried inside to find Mr. Potter sliding an extra-large bacon-and-mushroom pizza out of the brick oven.

“Mr. Potter!” she exclaimed. “Are you okay?”

Her boss nodded. “Thank the Lord, yes. Happened while I was pulling out in the theatre parking lot. I’m fine.”

“But your beautiful car!” Jordan said. “You can get it fixed, right?”

Mr. Potter slid the pizza onto a tray and smiled ruefully. “Ah, there’s the rub. The other driver didn’t have insurance. So I’d have to pay quite a lot. I think it’s time for me to let the convertible go and get something more sensible.” He smiled at Jordan. “Like your little car.”

Jordan gapes. “But that’s not fair! Aren’t you angry?”


“I’ve enjoyed this car,” Mr. Potter admitted, “but it’s hardly treasure in heaven.”

“Treasure in heaven?” Jordan wondered.

“One of my favorite verses,” Mr. Potter explained. “Goes something like this: ‘Don’t gather . . . riches on earth. Moths and rats can destroy them. Thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, gather . . . riches in heaven. . . . Your heart will be where your riches are.’”

“That’s in the Bible?” Jordan asked.

“Sure is,” Mr. Potter said. “Just means that when you focus on possessions, well, they can get beat up. Makes more sense to spend your time on what really matters.”

Jordan thought for a moment. “Like . . . people instead of stuff?” she mused.

“That’s the ticket,” Mr. Potter agreed. “Speaking of which, we’ve got a family waiting on this.”

Mr. Potter handed Jordan the pizza. She grabbed the tray and started to head for the dining room. Then she stopped. “Would it be okay if I stop taking all those extra shifts?” she asked.

Mr. Potter nodded. “As long as I know ahead of time.”

“Thanks,” Jordan said.”

“Any particular reason?”

Jordan smiled. “Just some things I want to do. Starting with a camping trip next weekend.”

Mr. Potter smiled and Jordan felt a weight lift from her chest. It would be fun to get a new car some day. But right now she had more important things to do with her time and money.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

If someone followed you around for a few days, they would start to see patterns—things about the way you use your time, stuff, and money that show what really matters to you.

Maybe you love to get a good night’s sleep. Or you always make sure you’ve got time to play your favorite video game. What do you think your life shows about what matters to you? If you’re not sure, ask your parent (or kid!). Now, what do you think matters most to God? Hint: Jesus makes it super simple when He summarizes it like this: Love God, and love others. Together, brainstorm ways that you could better use your time, stuff, and money to show love to God and to others. Then pick one specific thing to do this week. Together, ask God to continue to make you good stewards of all that He’s given you.