Meditation Monday: Ministry of Finance

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Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury …” Mark 12:41 (NIV)

Ministry of Finance

Most people think “boring” when they hear the word “accounting.” They also think “judgmental.” Here at GCFA we think “ministry.”

GCFA takes seriously its fiduciary responsibilities of “receiving, disbursing and reporting of funds” as written in the Book of Discipline. However we never lose sight of the fact that these funds are more than just finances. Funds are for ministries and they are placed into the offering plate by faithful givers.

We know not only are we accountable to God but also must supply assurances to the people that their blessings upon the Church are spent for their intended purposes. Everything from the widow’s mite to the corporate sponsorships at General Conference is in support of the good work of the Church, whether that be to end malaria, or supporting the pensions, healthcare, and education for clergy.

GCFA tries to do as Jesus teaches us in Mark 12:41, to sit down with a critical eye on the treasury. Unlike the Temple treasury during Jesus’ time, the UMC is a dynamic presence in this world, giving as much, if not more because of God’s multiplying grace, than it receives. We are truly humble to be a part of that process of ensuring that God’s blessings are flowing to where God would have them go.

Dear God, help us to be a blessing to one another. Let us help one another to do the Church’s ministry. Thank you for the many blessings You have given to us. You are indeed, Emmanuel, God with us. Amen.

Meditation Monday: Refugee Relief

 

Photo of Syrian refugees coming ashore on the Greek island of Lesbos that accompanied the Guardian‘s editorial (9/3/15) condemning “the refusal to intervene against Bashar al-Assad.” (photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/Getty)

 

Matthew 25:35b: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

The refugee humanitarian crisis in Europe has given me pause to ask the question, “What can I do?”

As an individual Christian I can pray. Pray for the refugees who in seeking to do better by their families, are often victimized on the journey to freedom from hunger, tyranny and violence. Pray for those caring for them. Pray for an end to the wars that are causing these refugees to flee from their homes in terror. I can also, through my local church, provide financial support by giving to the Advance projects directed to aid people in the most need.

As General Secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration, I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the process of connecting United Methodist annual conferences, districts, local churches, and organizations, as well as individuals and families to those agencies, missionaries and affiliated groups who are in the trenches, serving persons displaced by the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

GCFA, through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) processes the gifts that come into the church and sends it to those in need. One hundred percent of all Advance giving goes to the chosen mission project or ministry.

Refugee Relief

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If you would like to take part in this ministry, contributions to UMCOR’s ongoing work with the refugee relief in Europe and the Middle East should be made to the International Disaster Relief Fund, Advance #982450, at www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Search-for-Projects/Projects/982450. UMCOR has allocated $2 million to provide the basics of life to persons displaced in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey.

 

Prayer:

Lord, Jesus having been found a stranger in his own hometown, we know you as the God to the outsider, the migrant, the ones who find themselves in a foreign land. As you once walked in the cool of the garden with Adam and Eve, help us to also walk with those who have been displaced by war and violence as they journey to somewhere safer, Lord. Bless the gifts of food, time, and finances that are given throughout the UMC connection and all people of faith that strive to keep your commandment to love one another as ourselves. Amen.

Meditation Monday: Peace Of God

God Of Peace

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 CEB

Recently, I was asked about the UMC Plan B Revised, which lays out a possible reorganization for the Church. Having given a report to our Board regarding the plans, I reassured them that GCFA had studied the plan and knew of its various budget implications. It was up to General Conference now to decide how to proceed.

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Meditation Monday: Words Matter – How to Use Your Words for Good

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Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

How to Use Your Words for Good?

The apostle Paul teaches us how best to communicate to each other in this passage.  How do we know what impact our words have on others?  How do we react to the words others speak to us?  How do we know when we have offended someone by our speech?  It could be the body language after words are spoken.  It could be the verbal response given back after words are spoken.  An “Amen” or applause usually signifies that something was said that people like.  Silence may indicate that something was said that people do not like.  With all of this knowledge of our words, how do we become assured that we use our words to lift up, not tear down others?

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God’s Amazing Creation

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Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

It is amazing to think of our denomination as a global organization of like-minded people who are focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We go about that work differently when we work for the church each day, pray constantly for our people and our ministries, worship throughout the week, or sing praises to God. Sometimes we take a break from that work.

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Meditation Monday: Faith In The Midst Of Hardship

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Psalm 10:14

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals may never again strike terror. (NIV)

We hear a lot of bad news. Some of it affects others. Some of it affects us personally. We hear of children being neglected and abused, civil strife in “civilized” nations, deadly diseases and corruption in businesses and corporations. All of these are things that sadden us and make us ask “why?” 

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..and Let It Begin with Me – Preventive Health Care

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1 Corinthians 6:19, 20b

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Recently, the health benefits provider for staff and bishops of The United Methodist Church shared some thought-provoking statistics about rising healthcare costs. In a nutshell, even if we remove the data about catastrophic illness treatments for cancer and other extremely serious ailments, the per-person healthcare costs are rising because we are caring for illnesses versus caring for wellness.

This concerns me on two levels.

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Where do we go from here after the Charleston shooting?

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Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

There are times in our lives when we have more questions than answers.  The recent shooting incident in Charleston, South Carolina is one of those times.   

How can we adequately express that our hearts are heavy with sadness at the loss of brothers and sisters who were gathered to praise the name of God?  How do we move beyond the frustration of knowing that just for the color of their skin, the people of Emanuel AME were targeted?  How do we express that we truly believe that in the 21st century such actions should be part of our distant memory?  There are truly more questions than answers.

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Where Do I Go, Lord? Biblical Wisdom in Making Wise Decisions

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This year has started out well for the ministries of GCFA.  We are excited about the year to come and look forward to serving the United Methodist connection in new and improved ways.  I praise God for the ministry of administration.

 One of the highlights of this year so far was the GCFA board mission trip to the Philippines and our local mission endeavors through local churches in the Nashville area.  We thank God for these opportunities and the heart for mission that the staff and board members have.

 As I ponder the rest of the year, I am drawn to one area that breaks my heart.  I am always disheartened when I hear of situations where people have faithfully and graciously donated funds for ministry and we find those funds are not being used as they were intended to be used by the givers.

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