Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where is your treasure?

What does it mean to be generous? Does it mean a $10,000 check to the church? Does it mean giving to a noble cause? While these are worthy ideas, Jesus measures generosity by a zealous new standard – the condition of the giver’s heart. In Matthew, Jesus said “For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also” (6:21).

If your treasure is in gold, there your heart will be also. If your treasure is in material possessions, there your heart will be also. If your treasure is in the Lord, there your heart will also be.

Giving is so much more than an obligation for followers of Christ – it’s an opportunity to put your heart in the Lord and your treasure in eternity. After all, Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give then to receive” (Acts 20:35b). Yet statistics show that U.S. Christians give proportionately less than we did during the Great Depression. Today, like no other time in history, God has positioned people with unprecedented wealth and opportunity to glorify the risen Christ by mirroring the Lord's generosity.

Will you put your treasure in the Lord? Will you continue to be a generous giver and lay your treasures in eternity rather than the fleeting? Will you glorify the Lord by mirroring the actions and words of God?

--Tracy Wood, Web Coordinator, Stratgeic Marketing and Research Team, United Methodist Communications

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lent and a java jolt

Lent is quickly approaching this year. I use Lent as a time of meditation and self-reflection. Others use the 40 days as a time of cleansing and self-renewal. One common bond of those observing Lent is the denial of something important to them. For instance, chocolate, TV, smoking, gambling, etc.

Each year I struggle with Lent. There are many things I could give up, but what would make the biggest difference in my life? Chocolate? My waistline might shrink a little, but in the grand scheme, it’s not that big of a deal. TV? Yes, that would be very difficult, but again, it’s a molehill among mountains.

This year I have been meditating on what it is that God wants me to deny myself. And I think He’s shown me. Starbucks. I admit I am a Starbucks junkie. I just can’t turn down a Mocha Light Frappuccino.

But in the meditation, God pressed upon my heart the need to make a difference through my denial. How I asked? God showed me that I could make a difference if I put aside the money I would have spent at Starbucks and gave it to The Church. Yes! That’s it – I can make a difference through One Great Hour of Sharing.

One Great Hour of Sharing is coming up on March 22 and I plan to donate the money I would have spent on my java addiction to the offering. I can help provide refuge for people who are displaced around the world. I can help advocate for peace and help develop leaders in Christ.

Will I suffer caffeine withdrawal headaches? Yes. Will I long daily for my java jolt? You bet. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


It’s all about Hope.

It’s a word we’ve heard a lot in the past year. And it’s a word we need to hear even more this year.

In the midst of a turbulent economy, people are being shaken to the very core. For many of us, the loss of a job is not just the loss of an income, but the loss of self and purpose. And the loss of a home – is anything scarier than that?

Has the world ever needed the church more? Has the message of Jesus that God is able to care for every need ever been more than relevant than today?

We United Methodists are in the hope business, you know. That’s right. Locally and globally, we give hope. To children who are victims of malaria-infected mosquitoes; to students who need a little help to make their college costs; to the young mother who needs daycare for her child and English lessons so she can get a better paying job. The list goes on and on, far too many to list here.

We have been in the hope business a long time. Through economic upturns and down turns, through floods and fires and famine, through war and peace, we have been there. The people of The United Methodist Church. The people of hope.

So don’t give up now. Don’t get scared, don’t run from the challenge. Keep the hope coming. Let this be hope’s finest hour.

--Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Director of Communications Ministry, United Methodist Communications

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'll sacrifice my asparagus...

What does giving mean to you? Does it mean obligingly putting money in the offering plate each Sunday? Does it mean reluctantly giving a dollar to the homeless man? Does it mean volunteering to help on a mission trip? Does it mean giving your coat to the woman shivering on the street?

The other day, I was watching a movie with my daughter. In this movie, two very poor sisters just experienced devastation to their family business and home. All they had was their clothes, blankets, jam and bread. They go in search of more and as they are, the pass an elderly lady who looked hungry and tired. Even though the sisters were just as hungry, one of them offered up her sandwich of bread and jam to the elderly lady.

Sure, it was just a movie, but that, to me, is a type of giving. Jesus teaches us that our love for those in need shows our identity as children of the generous Creator (1 John 3:16-18). The elderly lady was in need and the sister reached out to her and sacrificed her lunch so that the woman could be nourished. Sacrificial giving nourishes our Christian soul and spirit. It brings us closer to God and shows our devotion and gratitude to God's will.

I discussed the movie with my daughter afterwards and explained how their giving is how we strive to be. Of course, then she offered to “sacrifice” her asparagus for her sister’s nourishment. I don’t think so my child!

~ Tracy Wood, Web Coordinator, Strategic Marketing and Research Team, United Methodist Communications. A "not so new" mom of 2 adorable and well nourished girls.