October 2014 Good $ense Newsletter: Saguaro Sense
As I write this, I’m in Arizona where the saguaro cacti stretch their arms skyward, the sun is hot and the brown of the desert landscape yearns for a refreshing drink. Did you know that saguaros have a relatively long lifespan? They may grow their first side arm any time from 75-100 years of age. The arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity (more apices lead to more flowers/fruit). However the growth rate of saguaros is strongly dependent, as you might expect, on precipitation. Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater. The cactus will visibly expand, holding in the water. It conserves the water and slowly consumes it, with some living more than 150 years and growing to 40-60 ft tall!
So when I was invited to golf on an amazingly maintained and lush course in the Arizona desert, the transformation of the desert to beautiful green fairways vividly reminded me of our stewardship journeys….yours, mine, and those we serve. From The Message translation Colossians 3:12,14 says:
“Chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline… and regardless of whatever else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Maybe this is a reminder to us as we teach and train and coach others? We should challenge all those in our stewardship ministries deeply but always in the spirit of love. It’s one of the reasons “grace filled” is a core value we’ve built into the Good $ense resources. Similar to the desert to golf course metamorphosis, people will only be transformed if we let them know that we love them and our ministries are about what we hope for them – not what we want from them. As we are about the business of transforming the way people relate to their money so that their lives are transformed I pray we are providing the loving “rainwater” to the “saguaros” in our sphere of influence so that the “desert brown” of their current financial realities can be slowly transformed into green and growing masterpieces with many “arms” and much fruit!
President, Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!
News You Can Use: Stewardship on the Web
Generosity is about much more than the offering plate. It’s about the hearts of God’s people – hearts of compassion, of joy, of obedience. Hearts that reflect God’s heart.
This is the thesis of generouschurch.com, a website dedicated to helping churches raise the bar on generosity among their congregations. This website can help your church’s leadership:
- Assess where your congregation stands when it comes to generosity
- Lead your church to be more generous
- Infuse generosity into your church’s DNA.
The site contains several resources including an online generosity assessment, resources for preaching on generosity, and ideas for small groups and generosity campaigns, videos and white papers, and an interactive blog.
News You Can Use: Credit Card Conundrums
We’ve recently become aware of yet another major security breach at a high-volume retailer. This time, the victim was Home Depot, which recently admitted that as many as 56,000,000 credit and debit cards may have been compromised. But the real victims could be the customers who used those cards, who could suffer anything from unauthorized charges on their cards to identity theft.
Nola.com recently published a helpful article listing 5 ways individuals can protect themselves from the effects of breaches such as these. (For the entire article, go to http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2014/09/home_depot_data_breach_5_ways.html).
- Use other payment technologies, such as Pay Pal or the Apple Pay app. These technologies store your credit card information so that it’s not available to the retailers. Some stores also offer pre-loaded cards that you can use instead of credit cards (of course, you pay for these up front).
- Process cards as credit rather than debit. Using your PIN to complete a debit card transaction potentially exposes that PIN to hackers, who can do more damage with your PIN than without it.
- Watch for e-mail scams. This is a prime time for phishing, which is the practice of sending e-mails with the intent to capture personal information such as credit card numbers, etc. These e-mails may offer free credit monitoring to “protect” you from breaches such as the Home Depot breach. Never click on links in these e-mails, as the act of clicking on the link can install malware on your computer that could potentially capture and relay your financial information to a hacker.
- Reconcile your statements. Check for charges you didn’t make, even small ones. A credit card thief will often try smaller amounts to see if you’re watching, then go for larger amounts later. Regularly retrieve your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Use cash. Any technology is ultimately vulnerable to a good enough hacker. Envelope system, anyone?
October 2014 Truths That Transform
Abram had been victorious over the kings who had defeated the king of Sodom and his allies and had taken captive Abram’s nephew Lot. He had returned from this victory having recovered all the people captured by the enemy kings and all the spoils they had taken.
Melchizedek’s words had rung true for Abram – he knew that the victory was actually God’s, and he responded by giving a tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek, who was both a king and a priest of God.
At the same time, Abram met up with the king of Sodom, whose people he had rescued. Overjoyed by the recovery of his people, the Sodomite king offered to let Abram keep all the spoils from the battle. After all, Abram had earned this reward, taking the risk of going into battle against the Eastern kings.
Abram had a different perspective, however: he was less concerned with wealth than he was with the reputation of God. Concerned that God be honored as the source of his wealth, he refused the king’s offer so that the king would never be able to claim that he had made Abram rich. Abram wanted to be sure that God was always honored as the source of all he had.
Already blessed by God with significant possessions, Abram’s head wasn’t turned by this offer of new wealth. He knew how to say “enough is enough”, and he placed a higher priority on God’s honor and on his relationship with God than he did on material possessions.
Abram’s treatment of wealth reflected his spiritual priorities. He gave to God out of gratitude for all God had provided, and he turned away from wealth that might have detracted from God’s honor in his life. What does our treatment of material resources say about our spiritual priorities?