Charitable Contributions

I saw online someone suggesting that people should contribute quick (to NCTM, in this case).

My response:

Yes, we should contribute to NCTM’s Trust. However, I think “charitable deductions will be treated very differently in the coming year,” is misleading. It is my understanding, with the new tax bill, that charitable deductions can still be itemized as they have been. The ‘argument’ that has been put out (by the media also) is that with a higher *standard deduction* there will be some who won’t be ‘motivated’ to give to charitable groups, because they aren’t going to itemize deductions. Ugh! People need to give to NCTM, the Salvation Army, churches, etc. because it’s the right thing to do — now out of greed of what they’ll save on taxes.

IN FACT, with the government giving less and less to schools, communities, and social services it is MORE important that people to make charitable donations.

At some point, we need to Make America United Again

(written Jan. 21, 2017)

It was a very strange election year, for many reasons. (I didn’t feel that either party, during the election, put up a viable candidate.  OK, that can happen from time to time.)

The thing that concerns me is how divisive many have become.

I don’t believe that tearing down and ‘throwing gasoline on the fire’ are ways to make things better.

I think a strength of our country, since it’s inception, has been our ability to work together, to sit down together, and work things out.

A Story

One of the most important things I learned as being a member of Delta Kappa Pi (DKP) at Doane University was the following process our group used:

  1. We would disagree on a topic,
  2. We would discuss and debate the topic,
  3. We would vote on the topic and come to a group decision,
  4. All, on both sides of the issue, would get behind the decision, and make it work.

This process worked well and kept us united. We learned to:

  • Actually sit down and discuss, not argue.
  • Agree to disagree, as needed.
  • Agree, for the purpose of moving forward.
  • Put our differences behind us.
  • The balance of debate and agreement. Yes, debate. Yes, eventually come to consensus.  This balance may be what it all comes down to.

This year, since the election in November, significantly more (what, 3 orders-of-magnitude) people have taken license to protest and therefore be divisive to our government and our country.

This attitude of my party, my group, individualism above all is damaging. I don’t just point the finger at the demonstrators in the streets, but also to our politicians themselves. We all need to learn the process and lessons I learned while in DKP.

I feel we should back the president, whoever they are. I feel we should use the structures and mechanisms that are in place to have peaceful debate and resolution of difference.

We seem to be on a path of anarchy.

I think we need to always look to build community and teamwork.

(I think we need to work from an attitude of love – but that may be another topic.)

Donal Trump  won the election. His slogan was Make America Great Again. (I’m not here to discuss the pros or cons of that slogan or President Trump)

My hope that, in the next election, we can focus on Make America United Again. After all, we are (supposed to be) the United State of America.  I think being united is a precursor/prerequisite to many things when it comes to moving forward in a positive manner.

Thank you to DKP for teaching me an important lesson I have used for my whole life.

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Ten Practical Ways To Take Your Ministry To The Next Level

This is a very good post by Tim Price.

Ten Practical Ways To Take Your Ministry To The Next Level – Click here

Does look toward taking it to the next level, but also about building foundations, intentionality, and sustainability.

Under Document Your Ministry he has a good list:

Vision; Culture; Process; Main Thing; Fully Involved; What To Delegate

Throughout he emphasizes leadership and community.

Establishments and Institutions

Sermon idea: 

I like institutions (look up definition). They exist to carry out a needed duty.

‘The establishment’ on the other hand seems to mainly be there to maintain itself. 

In Yancey’s ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ book he says, on page 197, that Jesus posed a genuine threat to the establishment in Jerusalem.

More later (e.g., pg 203). It was very ironically, the supposed church of God that had Jesus killed. As an establishment, they had spiraled far away from God.

The institution that Jesus was proposing was to  love your neighbor sacrificially. This was certainly difficult to comprehend and to grasp by even the disciples. But the institution of loving one’s neighbor sacrificially proposed a threat to the good-ol-boy establishment. Enough of a threat that it got him killed.

Loving one’s neighbor sacrificially is the opposite of an establishment, which is inward looking/self-centered. 

An institution, by definition is outward looking/other-centered.

We, as the church, need to be careful that we don’t turn from an institution to an establishment.

—-

Fun to look at the words

establishmentarian 

disestablishmentarian

antidisestablishmentarian

In divisive times, who will lead? Who will Heal?

Very nice piece by @MJGerson 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-our-moment-of-division-who-will-lead/2016/07/11/1a8232fa-4798-11e6-acbc-4d4870a079da_story.html

Gerson gives a good analysis of the current (decisive) political situation. 

He sees a need (as do I) for politicians who do not “immediately fall into partisan ruts, or post Facebook banalities.” 

Another good quote is:

In fact, there are people on the left and right who benefit from encouraging just enough division, just enough fear, to motivate their supporters, without tipping them over into violence. They are playing with fire in a parched and withered land.

Near the end of the piece, looking for potential solutions, Gerson points out that an important foundation of the civil rights movements of the 60’s was the church (MLK was a pastor – and scholar I might add). 

[My comment: the slogans of ‘Make America great again’ and ‘Stronger together’ are nice platitudes, but we are not going to have one America again (like, for example, WW II when every 5th grader saved the foil from a Juicy Fruit wrapper for the war effort).]

There is hope (for leadership and healing) in medium-sized* institutions, such as the church. (*’medium-sized’ is my word).

Quote:

Even if we cannot, as individuals, hope to change systemic racism, most of us have the ability to defy our times and reach out across lines of race and religion. And religious people have a particular calling in this area. 

While Hillary or Trump probably will not be able to do much for our divided country or the disadvantaged of Detroit, MI or Macomb, IL, for me and my house I believe that churches, such at Wesley UMC and Walnut Creek, can make a positive difference in this parched and withering land.