Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Connecting from afar

I just got back from vacation – we had a great time, thanks – and while we were gone, I wondered where we would go to church. We’ve never been to Virginia Beach before and didn’t have a clue about the area. My solution: Find-A-Church. I was able to access this directory and find a quaint little church to attend this past Sunday.

But, while at church, I was presented with the dilemma about giving. Do I give my normal tithe to a church I have never been to? Do I save the tithe and give it to my regular church of worship? I prayed to God about this before the offering was taken. And God answered my prayer rather quickly! In the bulletin was an offering envelope for One Great Hour of Sharing. I put my tithe and offering into the offering envelope knowing that from afar, I was connecting with my local church as we all celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing.

That’s what I love about The United Methodist Church. We are all connected to a larger church. As individual churches, we can accomplish small tasks. But as a connected church, we can accomplish mighty tasks. I hope you had the opportunity to celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing this past week. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) relies on your offerings to help those who are hurting find refuge around the world.

If you didn’t have the opportunity, you can give online at any time by visiting our secure e-give site.

--Tracy Wood, Web Coordinator, United Methodist Communications

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where is the Value?

There is a TV show called “Dirty Jobs” which I’m convinced owes its popularity to the need we all have to see someone whose working conditions are worse than ours. Maybe we should apply the same principle to our feelings about the slumping economy.

Consider that recently Zimbabwe, suffering from inflation clocked at 231 million percent, recently dropped 12 zeroes from their currency. In one day, one trillion Zimbabwe dollars became the equivalent of one dollar. Talk about a change in fortune? I was at a dinner for supporters of the United Methodist-related Africa University and the Interim Vice Chancellor, took a two billion dollar note out of his pocket and gave it away. “There really is nothing we can buy with it.”

As we reflect on the economy, maybe we need to use another yardstick for our wealth than just the number of dollars in our pocket, purser, or bank account. Do you still have a home? Can you and your family receive healthcare? Do you have transportation? Did you get enough to eat yesterday? Did you have clean water to drink?

After all, it is all about the value we put on things. Whether it is the piece of paper on which is printed the words ‘One Trillion Zimbabwe Dollars” or the face of our child who was able to get amoxicillin for their sore throat and will never have to know the threat of malaria.

Where is the value in your life?

--Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, United Methodist Communications

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Renew and Grow

Spring comes and the days are long and everything has the chance to bloom and grow again. Does springtime affect your soul? Do you allow your soul a chance to bloom and grow again? Do you let a rebirth occur? Do you let in the fresh air and the spirit of God to cleanse the cobwebs in your soul?

My prayer for today is that you’ll let springtime come into your soul and allow it to blossom and grow into what it is that God wants. That you’ll let God come and sweep out the old and allow the new to be ushered in. Allow the cleansing power of God to refresh and renew your faith and soul.

Speaking of growth, did you know that you can help grow Native American churches at any time? You can by giving to Native American Ministries Sunday at any time by visiting our secure e-give site.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Living a Generous Life

As I was searching for a topic for this weeks blog entry, I stumbled upon this article for 85 Broads. I think it is very fitting and also very challenging for all of us in this economic turmoil. Remember, God has so richly blessed us and only asks a small portion of what has given to us. By making tithing and offerings a priority in our lives, God will continue to bless us with all we need.

Here is the article:

The playwright George Bernard Shaw said, "The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not to react".

In 2008, the world saw a lot of economic reactions. From the fall of Wall Street and the near collapse of the U.S. economy, many of us reacted by pulling our purse strings tighter and deciding to "hunker down" until the end of the recession.

As 2009 approaches, you and I have a unique opportunity to put aside reacting and put action front and center. Taking action will help the world recover and rebound. However, action without heart and connection to the greater good could get us back where we started. To guide you in taking your action in the new year, I offer you a tool that never fails: leading with generosity.

What does it mean to lead with generosity?

According to Webster's Dictionary, generosity is "the habit of giving." But as we leap into a new year filled with new possibilities, let's add to it "the habit of giving... especially when it feels terrifying!" Now is not the time to give less. Now, especially in these tough economic times, is the time to give to your fullest potential.

We cannot create the possible until we practice what feels impossible. In 2009 I urge you to take a leap like you've never taken before. What do you have to lose? Be as generous as you can in anyway that you can in every moment that presents itself. By doing so, you will develop a habit of giving that will transform the world. It will also transform you.

Being generous does not mean making a charitable gift that you cannot afford. However, being generous does mean writing any size check, even if you're worried about money.

Being generous does not mean overextending yourself to a point of fatigue and burnout. However, being generous does mean revisiting the priorities you set and ensuring that the material does not supersede the spiritual.

Being generous does not mean allowing others to take advantage of your talents and gifts. However, being generous does mean offering your talents and gifts without expectation of return.

We cannot ask of our business and political leaders that which we do not practice and model. Someone has got to illustrate what generosity and giving look like.

In 2009, have that someone be you.