Sunday, March 25, 2012

E-Devotional-Week 7

Biblical Stewardship Truths (Part 2)

By: Barry G. Allen

Part 2-Week 3 My Testimony (continued)

Both my father and my mother used to tell me never to spend everything I made. They taught me always to have some money set aside for emergencies, special purposes and unexpected opportunities. To do that, I had to learn to save on a consistent basis, and to defer the pleasure of certain things I wanted. In his book, Taking the Stew Out of Stewardship, Paul W. Powell, stated “if your out-go exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” It’s simple, but true.

What does the Bible say about money and possessions? (continued)

Biblical truth #12: Live beneath your means and save for a rainy day. Once again Solomon advises us in Proverbs 21:20: “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Dr. Paul Powell reminded us (a) the most nerve wracking place on earth to live is just beyond your means and (b) it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

Biblical truth #13: Be aware of the trap of indebtedness. The Psalmist stated in 37:21 “an evil person borrows and never pays back; a good person is generous and never stops giving.” And Solomon warned in Proverbs 22:7, “the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” These are warnings about the self-imposed bondage of debt. In a day of easy credit, we Christians must be willing to defer having certain things until we can afford them. The Apostle Paul also warns us in Romans 13:8, “owe no one anything, but to love one another.” We are forbidden from incurring debt, which cannot be repaid.

Prayer focus: Pray for the discipline to save and the contentment and good judgment to avoid excessive debt.

Next week: My Testimony (continued)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Givers and Giving

By: Barry G. Allen- President & CEO

As challenging as it has been over the past few years, charitable giving continues to be a key component of the American fabric.

According to Giving USA 2011, total charitable giving in 2010 (latest available) was estimated to have been $291 billion, a slight increase from 2009 after having dropped from $308 billion in 2008. Individuals contributed 75% of the total given; foundations gave 13%; bequests represented 7%; and corporations gave 5%. For the past 56 years religious organizations have received the largest share (35%) of charitable gifts; education-related organizations were second (13%); foundations were third (11%); human services organizations were fourth (9%); and health organizations were fifth (8%). As a percentage of the gross domestic product of the US, charitable giving was 2%, which is the level at which it has been, with a few exceptions, since 1956.

At the end of 2010 there were 1,280,739 not for profit organizations registered with the IRS under IRC Section 501(c)(3), a 22% increase over the past five years and a 56% increase over the past decade. This does not include most churches, which are not required to register.

A recent issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported the top 50 givers in the US last year. Their combined gifts were $10.4 billion; the largest was a bequest of $6 billion, the smallest was a current gift of $26 million and the median was a gift of $61.9 million. A total of 66% was given via 10 bequests; the remaining 34% was via current gifts. By far the largest direct beneficiary category was foundations (75%).

While I was fascinated, delighted and inspired by the generosity of these top 50 givers and all of the benefits that will be derived from their gifts, I was struck by the lack of direct giving for the benefit of religious organizations. Only two (20%) of the 50 gave for the direct benefit of a religious organization; those two totaled $100 million, less than 1% of the $10.4 billion total given.

May the Lord raise up those who have the capacity to make transformational gifts for the benefit of their churches and the church-related organizations of our larger Kentucky Baptist family. To the extent we can be of assistance in facilitating such gifts, please give us that privilege.

For more information, please call us at (502) 489-3533 or toll free in KY at 1-(866) 489-3533

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

E-Devotional-Week 6

Biblical Stewardship Truths (Part 2)

By: Barry G. Allen

Part 2-Week 2 My Testimony (continued)

I started to work for my father in his automobile business when I was in the seventh grade. Not only did he teach me all about operating an automobile dealership, but he also taught me the importance of hard work and honesty in my relationship to Christ and to my fellow human beings. I like what Paul W. Powell said in his book, Taking the Stew Out of Stewardship. He said good stewardship involves how you earn what you get as well as how you spend what you’ve got, and it involves being honest. These Biblical truths are based upon Dr. Powell’s observations.

What does the Bible say about money and possessions? (continued)

Biblical truth #10: Work hard at everything you do. Solomon writes, “If you do your job well, you will work for a ruler and never be a slave.” In addition to teaching us values and helping us to prosper, hard work brings a measure of satisfaction to our lives. Remember the Smith Barney slogan? “We make money the old fashioned way, we earn it.” That’s God’s way as well, and it should be ours.

Biblical truth #11: Be honest in all your dealings. Solomon advises, “It’s better to be honest and poor than to be dishonest and rich.” Dishonesty is rooted in greed, and if left unchecked, makes you susceptible to get-rich-quick schemes, schemes which almost always end in poverty. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never let greed cause you to be dishonest. You cannot live according to God’s stewardship principles and get things the wrong way. In God’s sight, it’s better to grow rich slowly than to grow poor in a hurry.

Prayer focus: Ask the Lord for a full dose of discernment about the importance of working hard, being honest in all of your dealings and patiently allowing Him to bring satisfaction to your life.

Next week: My Testimony (continued)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

E-Devotional- Week 5

Biblical Stewardship Truths (Part 2) 

By: Barry G. Allen

Week 5- My Testimony (continued)

In her book, Dare to Be Stewards, Norma W. Gaskill defined stewardship as “the call to be faithful in handling whatever we are given by God.” How fortunate I was to have parents who taught me at an early age about being faithful as one of God’s stewards. In this lesson listen to what the wisdom writer of Proverbs has to say about the giving aspect of stewardship. It’s made a difference in my life, and I trust it will in your life as well.

What does the Bible say about money and possessions? (continued)

Biblical truth #8: Demonstrate your dependence upon and dedication to God through your giving. In Proverbs 3:6, Solomon wisely teaches us to “Honor the Lord with your substance, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Biblical scholars tell us the root meaning of the word “honor” is “heavy,” or “to weigh.” It suggests God is to have great significance, or literally, to weigh heavily in our lives. We are to demonstrate that significance by how we give. The word “substance” is an all-inclusive term. It includes our bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance, retirement assets, real estate, etc. Most Christians have never considered tithing our of their “substance.”

Biblical truth #9: Resolve to use a generous portion of the possessions God has entrusted to you to help those less fortunate. Proverbs 14:31: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Also, Proverbs 19:17: “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

Prayer focus: Seek the will of God in how you can use the assets He has entrusted to you to honor him and to help those less fortunate than you.

Next week: My Testimony (continued)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Low Interest Rate Environment Charitable Giving Opportunity

By: Laurie Valentine-COO & Trust Counsel 

The current low interest rate environment has increased interest in charitable gift plans that use a factor tied to current interest rates to value the gift to charity. When interest rates are low, the value of the charitable portion of those plans is higher. One such plan is a gift of a remainder interest in real estate.

To give a remainder interest in real estate, you simply deed property to a charity while retaining for yourself the right to full use and enjoyment of the property for a term of years or the rest of your life. At the end of your retained interest, the property is immediately owned by the charity.

The income tax deduction for your gift is available in the year you deed the remainder interest to charity, not when your interest in the property ceases.

This type of gift plan allows you to take action now, but continue to have use of the property for whatever period works for your situation.

For example, Martha and John Smith, ages 58 and 60, own a primary residence and a vacation home in Kentucky. The vacation home has a current value of $50,000. Martha and John plan to sell both homes and move to Florida when John retires in 5 years.

The Smiths’ church is in a 5-year capital campaign. If they funded their gift to the capital campaign by deeding the vacation home to their church now, retaining the right to use it for the next 5 years, the value of their remainder interest gift to the church would be $44,050, if the interest rate factor used to value the charitable interest is 1.4% (the March 2012 factor).

Martha and John’s gift may provide over $11,000 of income tax savings, if they are in the 25% tax bracket and itemize deductions. They have 6 years to use the full $44,050 deduction amount.

At the end of the five years, their interest terminates and church will then own the vacation home outright. It can sell it as the capital campaign is coming to an end.

Real estate remainder interest gifts…a gift plan that provides income tax savings to the giver now and a significant gift to charity in the future.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Deadly Love

By: Barry G. Allen- President & CEO

We all want more of what we love. It’s a universal principle. It applies to every living person.

Another universal principle is what we love most we have the most fear of losing. And, since we love the things of this world, we naturally want more of them and we fear the loss of them because we find security in them. Chuck Bentley correctly describes this human circumstance as one of Satan’s favorite schemes.

This is a spiritual battle that requires each of us to make a profound decision. Jesus summed up this decision in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Here Jesus warns us money is a power unto itself not because of what it can do but because of what it can become, namely, a personal master, just as God can. By loving and becoming devoted to money we attach ourselves to the ultimate fate of money. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus stated plainly, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Jesus understood the power of materialism in our lives.

The Apostle Paul added his warning in 1 Timothy 6:9-10,” People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil….” I think J. C. Ryle’s observation is instructive at this point: “It is possible to love money without having it, and it is possible to have it without loving it.”

Therefore, do not love money, for to do so is to be condemned to follow it in its ultimate destruction, disappearance, annihilation and death. Instead, “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

For more information, please call us at (502) 489-3533 or toll free at 1-(866) 489-3533

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

E-Devotional-Week 4


By: Barry G. Allen

Week 4- My Testimony-Continued

I am one of those fortunate Christians whose parents began teaching me and holding me accountable at an early age about the importance and the role of Christian financial stewardship in my relationship to Christ and to other human beings. Most everything I know and do in the Christian discipline of financial stewardship can be traced to my parents’ examples. The Bible was their source, and God’s Holy Spirit was their strength and guide. Here are some additional Biblical principles that have made a difference in my life. I am confident they will make a difference in your life as well, if you abide by them.

What does the Bible say about money and possessions? (continued)

Biblical truth #6: Shift your priorities to let God, not money, be first in your life, so God can work in your life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom (kingly rule) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Most Christians have not seriously wrestled with this challenge. There is a sense in which if we do not seek His kingly rule “first,” we do not seek it “at all.” As worthy as all other concerns may be, the moment they become the focus of our efforts, they become idolatry.

Biblical truth #7: Learn to exchange what you cannot keep for what you cannot lose. Do you remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-21? “Do not store up for yourselves treasurers on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasurers in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus stated quite clearly wherever you find your treasure, that is exactly where you will find your heart also. He understood the grip materialism would have on our lives.

Prayer focus: pray for the increased desire to seek the kingly rule of God in your life, and in so doing discover how to exchange what you cannot keep for what you cannot lose.

Next month: Biblical Stewardship Truths (Part 2)