The Best Christmas Gifts

December 2017 Good $ense Newsletter: The Best Christmas Gifts

Dear Good $ense Friends,

In the midst of this season in which the value of relationships is most clearly brought to our consciousness, one can’t help but be saddened by how much of our behavior works against the deepening of those relationships. We over-busy ourselves and over-spend ourselves – two sure recipes for relational neutrality, if not disaster. We further complicate things by giving and receiving more ‘stuff’ that we really don’t need and often don’t even have the space for. And that feeds a vicious cycle.

The cycle begins with our accumulation of things which, because of the time spent maintaining, protecting, storing and worrying about them, robs us of relational time. The isolation felt as a result of the decrease of relational time leads us to seek solace in acquiring more things – which the culture says will fill the void we feel. This, of course, further decreases the time available for relationships and fuels the feeling of isolation and… well, you get the picture.

So I encourage you to ensure that your actions this Christmas contribute to deepening relationships – both human and with Him whose birth we celebrate. Something I read will be a help to me – and perhaps will to you as well.

It’s not your birthday, it’s Jesus’ birthday.  So why don’t you give the gifts Jesus would most like?

Those words impacted me. Jesus declared in his ‘inaugural address’ (Luke 4:18) that he had come to preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and set free the downtrodden.

He probably would appreciate a donation to a ministry to the poor in a friend’s name as our present to them. Or maybe giving a child a sum of money – with the stipulation that they decide how it can be given to someone in need – would be a gift Jesus would like. What each of us is called to do is varied. But passive capitulation to the messages of our culture will not result in actions or gifts Jesus would “most like.”

This Christmas may you be the giver of gifts that are true gifts of love (Jesus will like all of those!) And may you also receive nothing less than God’s ultimate gift of love – His Son.

I hope this has been a wonderful year for your ministry and that 2018 will see it taken to new levels of participation and effectiveness. What you are doing has eternal value!

 

Sid Yeomans

Good $ense Movement
www.goodsensemovement.org
Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!
(844) Freed Up/ (844)-373-3387 x701

 


A Second Look at a Familiar Passage – Philippians 4:13

A Second Look at a Familiar Passage – Philippians 4:13

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

How often have we heard this verse quoted in the sense of overcoming, living victoriously, achieving great things, etc.? And yet, a closer look at the context reveals that this is not a verse so much about achieving as it is about abiding.

This passage starts in verse 10, where Paul thanks the Philippians for the gifts they sent to him by their messenger, Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25). Paul goes on to emphasize that he doesn’t consider himself to be in need, because he has learned the secret of contentment – “whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (verses 11-12). It’s in this context that we see the oft-quoted verse 13.

In context, this verse is about contentment, not achievement. It’s about a mindset of abundance that comes from a close, abiding relationship with God and doesn’t depend on external circumstances.

What a message for Christ-followers in the Christmas season! At a time of year when our minds and hearts should naturally turn to our Savior – when we should rejoice in the greatest gift ever given – our society encourages us to be discontent with what we have, desiring more and more of this world’s things (and often going into debt to pay for them!).

How do we, as stewards of God’s resources, think of ourselves in this Christmas season? Are we “in need” of all the things on the TV commercials, or are we content with what God has already provided? Are we focused on the “riches” we don’t have in this world, or on the riches that all believers have in Christ? Where is our treasure?

 


News You Can Use

News You Can Use: ‘Tis the Season

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. How quickly we move from Thanksgiving to a shopping frenzy!! No longer content to open their doors early on Friday, some chains even opened at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day to begin their Black Friday sales. Not even a full day to focus on what we’re thankful for!

Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3:1-2 to fix our minds and hearts on things above, not on earthly things. But how do we do that while we’re barraged with consumeristic messages, overwhelmed with demands on our time, and caught up in the busy-ness that this season always brings?

Emphasize Events and Relationships rather than Things

One way to help focus our minds and hearts can be to emphasize events and relationships over things. Christmas concerts, family gatherings, and special meals can be opportunities to reframe our thoughts (of course, they can also add to the stress if we overschedule!). Special church services, family time around Advent calendars, and even the sending of Christmas cards can be opportunities to remember and to share the true message of Christmas.

Focus giving on “the least of these”

Much of our giving around the Christmas season is directed toward family members, who often already have all they need. Giving is one of the five major love languages according to Gary Chapman, and there’s nothing wrong with expressing our love for family through giving. But many families have found special meaning in focusing their giving outside the walls of the home.

In 2012, the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation started “Giving Tuesday” in response to all the commercialism and consumerism of the holiday season. Several for-profit and non-profit organizations joined as founding partners, including technology organizations Mashable, Cisco, and Skype and charitable organizations such as Heifer International. According to Wikipedia, in 2016 (the most recent year for which estimates are available), total giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was estimated to be between $168 million and $177 million. (1)

There are always many opportunities for giving, of course. Many churches sponsor giving and serving initiatives in their communities, such as projects with local food pantries or homeless shelters, partnerships with organizations such as Salvation Army or Angel Tree, or special events for those in need. On a global scale, organizations like World Vision provide catalogs of gifts that can be given to those in poverty around the world to provide sustainable food and/or income. Others, such as Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs, provide ways to support those who are persecuted and imprisoned for their faith.

However you choose to experience God and express your gratitude this Christmas season, we at Good $ense wish you a blessed and joyous remembrance!


(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giving_Tuesday, accessed on 12/3/2017


Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 6

Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 6: Stewardship in Context

Some ministries in a church have specific target audiences and other ministries cross audiences. The stewardship ministry falls into the latter category, as stewardship is a relevant topic and area of discipleship for all believers.

Integrating stewardship teaching and principles into other ministries is one way to help spread the stewardship word. Here are a few ideas that might help you partner with other ministries in your church to grow your congregation’s stewardship quotient.

Small Groups. The small group ministry is a great place for stewardship training. This is especially true because of the accountability already built into many small groups and the relationships developed. The small group environment can encourage deep sharing and prayer for group members in the context of stewardship. A class like Freed-Up Financial Living or other general stewardship training is a good place to start for small groups.

Targeted Ministries. Some churches offer small groups or other ministries based on stage of life, such as young parents or older adults approaching (or in) retirement. In addition to a general stewardship class, more specific training can often help people in these ministries – classes like Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids or Freed-Up in Later Life can help your congregation think and pray through stewardship issues specific to their stage of life.

Other ministries might target specific audiences with new financial situations, such as newly married couples or recently divorced singles. Financial realities often change rapidly and significantly in circumstances like these, and training in stewardship can be an invaluable way for your church to come alongside people in times of significant life-change.

Church Libraries. If your church has a library, consider stocking it with some good stewardship books, such as Money, Purpose, Joy by Matt Bell; God and Money by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer; or Your New Money Mindset by Brad Hewitt might be a good place to start.

 

This year, we’ve covered several ways to spread the stewardship word in your church, including:

  1. Church communication vehicles like bulletins, website, and facebook page
  2. Stewardship classes
  3. Individualized stewardship coaching
  4. Establishing a year-round stewardship ministry
  5. Getting informed with good stewardship resources
  6. Integrating stewardship training in small groups and church ministries

What would a next step in your stewardship ministry look like? We at Good Sense are praying alongside you for God’s clear direction in 2018.


Stories of Transformation