February 25 - March 2, 2008



Here is an archive column from 2005. Enjoy!
The Real IT!

A friend has been pretty successful in business, but restless - changing companies every couple of years. As he was talking about the latest change, he shook his head and looked down. "I don't know. None of this really is IT." By IT he meant a work that gives him a sense of joy and fulfillment.

Spiritual emptiness. It's the human race's number one problem - the root cause of war, addiction, crime, oppression, greed, gluttony, selfishness and on and on. But in the United States spiritual emptiness takes on a particularly ironic expression because as a nation we are wealthy enough and educated enough to have multiple options for almost everything - and we often choose the one that will give us spiritual emptiness.

We choose spiritual emptiness whenever we opt for something we want today, even though we know it will bring us unhappiness in the long term. 

--For example, some people choose unwise sex because it's what they want now, but then they live with unwanted pregnancy (or abortion) and a life sentence of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex is not IT.
--Others choose to eat lots and lots of fattening food because they want it now, only to live with the consequences of obesity: shorter life, higher illness, more misery. Food is not IT.

--Still others - like my friend -- choose careers because they pay well, only to endure emptiness and questioning. Money is not IT!

The Bible, of course, gives us the answer. In Isaiah 55:2, God asks, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" Why DO we, indeed?

All of this, of course, is a stewardship issue. In every area of our lives, we need to expend our energies and talents and time on those things that are "bread," that is, all things that are good and nourishing of body, mind or soul. And that which truly satisfies -- satisfies our spiritual hungers. Things like church. Humility. Charity. Generosity. Teaching. Caring for yourself and your family. Loving God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself. And that, friends, is IT!

-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for local, nonprofit use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2005, the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission."

New This Week

Why the Devil Takes Visa
Christianity TodayIf you read only ONE article on stewardship this Lent, then read this one. The subtitle says it all: “A Christian response to the triumph of consumerism.” In this classic essay, Rodney Clapp discusses the history of Western economics and the emergence of the current consumer culture that includes the “deification of dissatisfaction.” A lot to take in. Digest it. Savor it. Click here for “Why the Devil Takes Visa,” from ChristianityToday.

Tuck AakerFinding Positive Solutions
Stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker says too many congregation members think of the church “budget” too narrowly. “The budget is an important tool in helping the congregation grow, but --- that the real goal is the mission and the focus has to be on strengthening the ministries to bring Christ into more lives and reaching out to help others.” Click here for “Finding Positive Solutions,” by Tuck Aaker, from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

UMCTithing: Law of God or Gift of God (Part 1)
Probably no other concept is so controversial – or so misunderstood in Christian Stewardship. This article attempts to clear the air a bit. “Tithing becomes a benchmark for the modern-day Christian. Since few regular worship attenders have achieved the giving mark of tithing, how might pastors and church leaders encourage congregants to strive to tithe?”  Good reading, with helpful links. Click here to read “Tithing,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Plant a Tree at Easter
How about celebrating new life for the earth on Easter by planting a tree? It’s not a new idea, but one that has new urgency because of all the new data showing that global warming is even worse than scientists thought. Click here for “Plant a Tree at Easter,” posted on the website of the Green Belt Movement.

Stewardship from the Lectionary
Your ChurchLooking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help -- a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts. Click here for "Stewardship from the Lectionary," from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

logo Joke of the Week!

Last Week's Resources:
(We had problems with the newsletter last week, so we're catching up now. -RB)

Crumbs from the Table: Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman
The story is one of the most moving in the Gospels -- a woman denied a blessing from Jesus argues that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table (Mark 7:24-30).. This two-part Bible study is great for exploring the stewardship implications either in a group in your personal devotion. Click here for Part 1, "A Feast of Crumbs." Click here for Part 2, "Crossing the Boundaries." From Women of the ELCA.

Sharron LucasIn her year of simplifying her life, our columnist faced a perplexing problem: What about the books? As part of my make-do pledge, I find that I’m also questioning the value and use of items I presently possess. Staring at shelf after shelf of beautiful, bountiful books provides an eye-opening experience." Click here for “Ex-Lucas-Libris," from The Rev. Sharron R. Lucas.

The Stewardship of Our Talents
We know that stewardship involves the best use of our time, talents and treasures. But for the devout Christian, it's not just using our talents that's required. "We are called to not just maintain and protect our talents, but we are to develop, grow, and increase them. Sometimes this requires measured risk taking." Click here for "The Stewardship of Our Talents," from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Kokomo, Ind.