Journey of Generosity

June Good $ense Newsletter: Journey of Generosity

Good Sense partners,

Have you ever been to the “World of Coca-Cola” in Atlanta? I sampled over 100 different soft drinks that Coke sells all over the world when I visited there recently! I particularly enjoyed a soda sold in South Africa. It was sweet and delicious. However, some of the other sodas sold in other geographical areas were so bad to my taste that I had to spit them out. Yuck!

On the same Atlanta trip, I was also trained by the organization Generous Giving to be a “Journey of Generosity” (JOG) facilitator! During this time, six core messages were emphasized:

  1. Giving is a heart issue. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
  2. God gave first. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. (John 3:16)
  3. God owns it all. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1)
  4. We’re called to seek God’s kingdom first. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
  5. Heaven, Not Earth, is our home. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
  6. Giving brings blessing. Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. (Acts 20:35)

Have you, like me, had times were your stewardship journey was delightfully sweet and refreshing to yourself and to God (much like the soft drink I tasted from South Africa)? Perhaps you, like me, have also had some times where your attitude wasn’t quite Christ-like when it came to generosity and the six core messages listed above. Above all else, the message of generosity is a message of joy. As our hearts grow in generosity, we are blessed in ways we recognize in the moment, in ways you realize over a lifetime, and in ways that are revealed only in eternity. May God use you in your stewardship ministries, to release people into a life of greater generosity that enables them to live in the joy of a “life that is truly life”.

May God bless you as you continue on your own journey of generosity toward Freed-Up Financial Living! Please know that all of us here at the Good $ense Movement are cheering you and those you serve on toward transforming finances to transform lives. Good Sense resources are found here and you can reach Good Sense at 1-844-Freed-Up (1-844-373-3387).

May your summer be a time of refreshment and a time with loved ones!

Sid Yeomans
President, Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

Avoid Skyrocketing Energy Bills!

(as posted in POPSUGAR Smart Living.)

Although the electricity bill probably isn’t one of your biggest expenses (compared to your rent or mortgage), it’s definitely an expenditure you can reduce. It doesn’t take that much effort to be more energy efficient, so why not learn to be more eco-friendly and shrink your electricity bill at the same time? Before you start implementing these minor changes, be aware of these things that can be causing your energy usage to skyrocket:

  • Not cleaning out the lint. Make sure you always clean the lint filter after use so the dryer runs efficiently. Every six months, take the trap out and wash it with soap and water. While your clothes are drying, the lint in the trap hampers the flow of air in the heated dryer. This makes your dryer work harder and expend more energy than it needs to.
  • Not buying a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a good investment because you’re able to save energy by programming the thermostat to control the heating and cooling when you’re away from home or asleep. There are programmable thermostats for about $35.
  • Leaving electronics plugged in. It’s easy to be lazy and leave your electronics plugged in because you figure you’ll be using them soon. Electronic items still suck power even when they aren’t turned on. In fact, they draw five percent of the energy in American homes, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The amount of energy wasted is equivalent to the output of 18 power stations!
  • Having a dirty air conditioner. Clean or replace the filter in your air conditioner; a dirty one can take up five to 15 percent more electricity.
  • Using inefficient light bulbs. Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs is an easy way to save the environment and money. Be sure to do your research before buying or asking help from a salesperson because energy-efficient bulbs can differ greatly in how much they will help you save.
  • Not investing in a clothesline. Hang your clothes to dry whenever you can instead of throwing them in the dryer. This not only will help your clothes last longer, but it will also cut down usage of the dryer.
  • Relying on central heating. Investing in a space heater will save you a lot of money on your heating bill. Just heat the room you’re using and not areas you’re not around. You can also consider buying an electric blanket to keep yourself even warmer.
  • Washing clothes in hot water. Opt for the cold water setting when doing laundry to save money and energy. Ninety percent of the energy used in the washer is utilized to heat up the water, so by skipping the hot water, you’ll be saving a lot of energy.

Stewardship as a Vocation

by Catherine Malotky:

Like you, I am a stewardship leader in my congregation. Sometimes I wonder why we work at stewardship in congregations. Of course we have to pay the congregational bills, and for a long time, stewardship fell under that umbrella. The stewardship conversation has evolved over time, something scholars have brought to our attention, and our family memories can recount. As the church’s identity has changed, so has stewardship. For example, church is no longer the center of community life as it was when our ancestors made their way as immigrants to a land that was new to them. Social services around us are not born exclusively in churches these days as they once were. There was a time when the money given to church was all about making the community a better place. We could see and touch this. We lived next door.

In some ways, we are asking foundational questions in the church right now. What is church for? What does it have to offer those who choose to affiliate with us? Of course, the gospel plays a central role, but what does the gospel look like on the ground, once it moves beyond the telling of Jesus’ story and becomes incarnate in our day-to-day lives? What makes being a Christian distinct and noticeable? We generally don’t hold hell over people’s heads, though certainly there are Christians who do. How do we “be church” so we attract rather than coerce?

Simultaneously, stewardship has been changing too. In a world that bombards us with messages about who, what and how we should be, almost always with strong profit motive in the shadows, how should we think about stewardship? In a world where we are running into the limits of our naivety and facing really, really serious problems with long-term implications (think climate change, for example), little is simple and clear. How do we equip each other to engage in the critical questions of our time, and not hide from them? How do we engage in that complexity as Christians?

Perhaps the church can help us learn to think of ourselves as stewards, choosing a management perspective rather than a consumption perspective. If we are merely consumers, we don’t have to engage in questions about whether what I consume will impact my grandchildren’s well-being. That’s simply not a part of a consumer’s world view. A consumer is solicited, procures and uses to his or her own benefit—very child-like. However, if I instead think of myself as a steward of the earth, my communities (faith and civic), my own body, and my family, then I have moved into a different point of view, one that assumes a long-term perspective and demands some kind of agency from me. I need to be an adult.

Business conversations sometimes ask that you move to a higher altitude to see the problem before you. A steward would do such a thing, primarily because a steward’s calling is to manage the life s/he has been given on behalf of someone else, and for the sake of someone else. A steward is all about the vital business of the world, because the well being of the world God loves depends on it.

Might the gospel have something to add to these kinds of conversations! I think so! Is it a bigger conversation than just money, but is it also money? I’m quite sure! Might a faith community be the perfect place to help sort out the paths each of us are on, to help us focus our lives on something broader and deeper than ourselves? Let’s try!

June 2014 Transforming Truths

“But just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
– 2 Corinthians 8:7

Certainly the economy continues to have an impact on

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giving, which is precisely why Paul’s words written 2,000 years ago are as relevant as ever. Paul encourages the Corinthians to help support the Jerusalem poor who had suffered from persecution and famine. When he wrote about excelling in giving he had the Macedonians in mind as his example.

Although the Macedonians were experiencing extreme poverty, they demonstrated rich generosity, giving “beyond their ability”. They did not give out of compulsion, but on their own, even pleading for the “privilege” of sharing their resources with fellow believers. We see their motivation in 2 Corinthians 8:5, which says they gave themselves first to the Lord. So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not let their economic situation prevent them from taking part in the Lord’s work.

Paul emphasizes the attitude of the Macedonians–their joyful, willing, and earnest attitude–which led them to give sacrificially. The example set by the Macedonians, both in attitude and action, was an encouragement to the Corinthians. It serves as a powerful example for us as well of what it means to “excel at this grace of giving.”

Discover the Value of Your Stuff

News You Can Use: Discover the Value of Your Stuff

by Savvy Living’s Jim Miller:

I inherited a large number of antiques and unique art from my great aunt and I would like to find out what some of these items are worth. What resources can you recommend for finding the value of these items?

There are a number of resources currently available to help you find the value of old and unique items. Here are some tips to help you proceed. Many people use local antique shops or collectables dealers to determine the value of old or unique items. While this may provide you with a general estimate, it is a good idea to find a certified appraiser to value your item. A certified appraiser acts as an independent third party in valuing the property. In fact, it is a violation of professional ethics for an appraiser to offer to buy an item he or she has appraised.

A professional appraiser will provide a written report that includes a full description of your item and the procedure used to estimate its current value. You can expect to pay either a flat fee or an hourly rate of $200 to $400 per hour depending on the appraiser’s expertise and location. Make sure to avoid an appraiser who asks for a fee based on a percentage of the item’s appraised value.

If an appraiser believes the likely value of an item does not justify a written appraisal, then he or she may recommend other resources to arrive at a value.

To locate an appraiser you may search online at one of the three professional appraising organizations: The American Society of Appraisers (800-272-8258), the International Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of America. The membership of these three organizations is about 5,000 members, 900 members and 700 members respectively. There are a number of websites that utilize the services of a professional appraiser or other expert to value property. You take photos of the property and upload those photos along with a description of each photo to the website. The photos and descriptions are reviewed by a professional appraiser or other expert and the appraiser sends you a valuation of the property. This process typically takes about one week.

Two websites that offer this service are Value My Stuff and WorthPoint. Value My Stuff charges $10 for one appraisal, $25 for three or $75 for ten appraisals. WorthPoint charges $30 for one item or $75 for three items. You may also pay $20 per month for unlimited access to their antique and collectables valuations.

Another resource is Kovels (800-829-9158), which offers a free basic membership that gives you access to its online price guide. You can purchase one of Kovels’ premium services for a price ranging from $39 to $60 per year. In addition, Kovels sells the “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2014” for $28. This guide reports recent prices paid for 35,000 items in more than 700 categories at auctions, shops, shows, flea markets and online.

Finally, you may be able to determine the value of your property by searching similar items on Ebay or Craigslist. Both of these sites are free to search. If you are interested in any of your items, you can find out the tax-deductible value at free valuation sites available year-round by tax-prep companies such as Turbo Tax. The Salvation Army also offers a valuation guide.

Stories of Transformation