Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giving Generously

We were invited by the seminary, at their expense, to tell the professors and administrators what they were doing well and what they needed to improve. I kept looking for the hiding of agenda.

I did not find it. They were authentically looking for the opinions and feedback from bishops and conference officers about the job they were doing. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that they were not defensive when we ceased to be nice and polite and told them exactly where they were messing up and really needed to change if they were going to be effective in providing a quality theological education that would equip church leaders for the next twenty five years.

One simple statement struck deep cords of affirmation from both the seminary professors in the room and the conference leaders from across the Jurisdiction. "A theology of money appears to be missing from your graduates. They fail to demonstrate any significant integration of their understanding of God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, and salvation with the use of their personal resources and finances." Finances and the use of money has been separated from the living of the Christian life.

I quickly reflected back on my theological training and realized that theological reflection on money and personal finances was not a recent omission. This lapse is not a new phenomenon. Many pastors refuse to discuss money, the use of money, or a Christian understanding of money. Occasionally, I hear a sermon near the annual financial campaign about the importance of tithing. I confess I rejoice when I hear such sermons, but it is often pathetically devoid of a solid theological foundation. The preacher quotes a few passages of scripture on tithing, but little, if anything is proclaimed about the use of the other 90%. It appears that God is totally unconcerned about how a majority of our money is expended each month.

One of my outstanding laity was fond of saying, "God owns all the hills and the cows upon the hills." It was a short hand way of saying that nothing belongs to us. We are the trustees, the stewards of all we "think" we own. It really belongs to God and one day, it will no longer be "ours". The issue confronting us is, "How faithful will we serve as a trustee of God's resources?" Most farmers quickly realized "their" land was a non-renewable resource. If they failed to care for it, we would all go hungry. The linkage is not as evident in the use of our money, but just as factual. It does not belong to us. Our money belongs to God.

John Wesley had a wonderful philosophy of money-earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can. He lived this philosophy. When he died, he had enough left to pay for his funeral. All of the other resources were gone. They belonged to God.

The question for most disciples needs to be, not how much are we giving, but rather how are we using and spending what truly belongs to God. If we are not generously giving, perhaps we need to closely examine our spending. Remember, it all belongs to God.

Grace & Peace,

--written by Karla Abernethy-Thetford

To read more blogs by Bishop Whitfield click here.

God Is Still in Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer



Monday, January 23, 2012

Philosophy of scarcity or abundance?

Do we live a philosophy of scarcity or a philosophy of abundance? The difference became apparent to me when I learned of the difficulty that missionaries faced in Bolivia in the late 1960's. The farmers harvested their "potato" crop long before the "potatoes" matured.

They feared their neighbors would arrive in the dark of night and steal their crop. Neither the farmers nor their neighbors believed there was enough for everyone. Therefore, they harvested their crops prematurely and there was insufficient food for everyone. Their fear induced behavior produced the results they anticipated.

Fear and anxiety hang over many people in this country. The global recession caused many individuals and companies to collapse. Some congregations suffered from the same malady. They made bad decisions, assumed they would experience significant future growth, and these new members would be very generous contributors to the church's desired future. The recession hit and their response was to cut ministries and focus their energy on finding sufficient money to meet their financial obligations instead of concentrating on God's mission and calling.

God promises to meet our needs, but not our wants and wishes. God provides sufficient resources so that no one needs to go hungry, without shelter, or deprived of an education. God provides, but God assumes that we are willing to take only what we need and share with those who do not have what they need. God expects us to keep our eyes and hearts focused on our mission instead of allowing our fears and anxieties to lead us into acting as if God is unable to provide for our needs.

Several years ago a congregation invited me to consult with them about designing strategies for their congregation's future. It became obvious that the leaders were unable to envision big hairy audacious goals. Everything was restricted by what the leaders believed they could afford. Even when I urged, begged, and pleaded with them to allow an awesome God to use them in ways they had never known before; they were unable to shake off the philosophy of scarcity. They did not have enough money and could not imagine carrying out the ministries without the infusion of far more money than they had ever known before.

This philosophy of scarcity is contrasted with another congregation in the community that believed God would provide. They dreamed of doing ministries that some thought were impossible. They refused to allow the lack of financial resources to curtail their assurance that God would transform the lives of individuals in their communities beyond their wildest expectations. They learned to do many of the ministries without additional money. They became the resource people instead of hiring individuals to do the ministry for them. They learned leadership skills they did not know they possessed. Those big hairy audacious goals became a reality.

We worship and follow an awesome God. Our God provides for our needs. As Eugene Petersen paraphrases Paul in his letter to the Church at Corinth, "Just think-you don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale" (I Corinthians 1:7).

Grace & Peace,

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The line was long as people moved toward the altar to leave an offering.Some put in large , impressive amounts of money. One poor widow stepped forward and gave two small copper coins. Jesus declared to His followers that the two copper coins from the poor Widow was more than anyone else had given.

Wait a minute! How can two small cooper coins be counted as more than the other offerings? Wouldn't a check for $500 be counted as more than two copper coins in your offering plate?

Jesus says everyone gave out of their abundance that day except the poor Widow. Everyone gave from a heart that said, "out of all that is mine I will give this to You God." Everyone except the poor Widow. She gave from a heart that said,"all that I have belongs to You God. Take what is Yours and I trust You will take care of me."

Stewardship is the act of managing faithfully things that belong to someone else. Followers of Jesus believe that everything belongs to God. When it comes to money, it too belongs to God. We have simply been chosen as stewards to manage varied amounts.

Each week, many of you wonderful followers of Jesus at Union, the Church at Chelsea Park, demonstrate faithful stewardship. Your faithfulness makes ministry happen in your community and around the world through our system of apportioned connectional giving! I continue to be amazed by your stewardship efforts and the way God takes care of you.

"Lord Jesus, thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for trusting us to manage things that belong to You. Give us the faith to always put in Your two cents worth. Amen."

This article was written by Ron Schultz. Ron is the District Superintendent of the South Central District in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer


Monday, January 9, 2012

Wesley’s Sermon: “The Use of Money”

Summary: Wesley uses this sermon to outline the proper use of earning, possessions and wealth with a very articulate statement: “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” He uses this as an opportunity to insist that we are not owners of our assets, but stewards.


  1. There will be an accounting of our management of resources.

  2. Money can be bad, but it can also be good. It can become the eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.

  3. It is one of our highest concerns to know how to use this valuable gift.


  1. Without paying more than its worth; or at the expense of life or health

  2. Without harming our minds

    1. Lying, cheating, practices that are not in good consciences.

  3. We must never harm others.

  4. Not gain more by harming our neighbor’s bodies.

  5. There are unscrupulous medicine “professionals” and it is clear that they are doing to others what they do not want done in return.

  6. These ways of gaining money comes at a high price.

  7. Cautions and restrictions

    1. Gain all you can by honest industry and diligence

    2. Make the most of your time

    3. Work with all your might.

    4. Do your work as well as possible and in a timely manner.

  8. Use common sense.


  1. Don’t throw your precious gains into the sea

  2. Don’t waste it on desires of the flesh.

  3. Don’t waste on desires of the eye such as fine clothing, houses, paintings, decorations gardens.

  4. Don’t spend to gain the admiration or praise of others.

  5. When we cater to these desires, they only increase.

  6. Don’t buy your kids everything and the best of everything.

  7. Don’t leave the kids money to squander. Don’t set traps.

  8. Leave your money to the child that knows the value of money.


  1. Don’t stop with gaining and saving all you can. You must give all you can.

  2. The sole ownership of everything rest with God.

  3. Provide for your basic needs; provide for your family; give the rest to the needy.

  4. How should you spend upon yourself?

    1. Am I acting according to my character?

    2. Am I giving this money in obedience to God’s word?

    3. Can I offer up this action as a sacrifice to God?

    4. Do I believe that I will receive a reward for this work at the resurrection?

  5. If your conscience says that this pleases God then you have no doubt that it is right and good.

  6. In your living and dying, waste nothing on sin or foolishness for yourself or your children.

  7. We cannot be wise or faithful stewards without managing the Lord’s goods in this way.Lead a life worthy of the dignity of your calling.
Lead a life worthy of the dignity of your calling.

by revjohnhill

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer