April 20 - 26, 2009




That Elusive Feeling of Wealth
The main breadwinner of the family is a surgeon, and they live on more than $250,000, which puts them in the top 2 percent of Americans. The problem for the Parnell family featured in the Wall Street Journal last week (click here to read the story) is that they don't feel particularly well off. "I thought we were just good old middle class," Ellen Parnell told the Journal. "Our needs are being met, but we don't have a load of cash to cover wants."

The family is hardly alone. It's the problem of many (most?) in our country, Despite a good or very good income, despite living in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, despite being able to pay for everything they need, they still feel poor. Do you know people who are in this situation? Are you one of these people? I know I myself have been in that boat at times. It's relatively easy.

Blame it on the incessant advertising and media that encourages us to gratify our every want, and never to be satisfied with what we have. Blame it on our culture that values celebrity and glitz over substance. Blame it on the churches that fail to teach their people, as Jesus did, to be wary of the seductive power of money ("You cannot serve God and wealth." Matthew 6:24)..

When people who really have sufficient money feel poor, several things may result.

One is they may not see the things in their lives as a blessing. If I feel poor and desire a 2,500-square-foot house in a new upscale neighborhood, I may not see the blessing I have in my perfectly good 1,800-square-foot house in my safe, established neighborhood. The spiritual problem is that people who do not see the material blessings in their lives may also be blind to the spiritual blessings God is giving them.

Second, they may not believe they are in a position to give generously to the church or to the truly needy, who are the people whose incomes do not cover their basic needs. The Bible teaches us that we are to give generously to support the church, the widow, the orphan, the hungry, etc. But if I feel I am poor myself, despite a decent income, I'm less inclined to help others, or to do so generously.

Part of the cure is for churches to teach people to challenge the values of our insatiable consumer culture that has skewed the very idea of what wealth is. In America we tend to think of the wealthy as only those people who have money to satisfy all their wants -- the dream house, the dream vacation home, the fancy imported cars, etc.

But in fact, from a biblical perspective, the materially wealthy person is anyone who can readily afford decent, adequate housing, sufficient food, clothing, transportation and other necessities. for living. That person is blessed. If we see this reality in our own lives and help others to see it as well, we can feel wealthy and be grateful to God for what we have. 

-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

Reprint rights gladly given to faith organizations. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2009, Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission." Inquire for other uses: rcblezard@embarqmail.com.

New This Week:

Preaching When Times Are Tight
Preaching when times are tightIn hard times, people look to their pastor for leadership, which means preachers have the opportunity to reach people in a way they don’t in a booming economy. “Tight times cry out for good news. And as the proverb says, such news from a distant but precious place is like ‘cold water to a thirsty soul.’ ” Click here for “Preaching When Times Are Tight,” from Crosswalk.com.

Lectionary Reflection: Tell the Story
Sharron LucasLike the eyewitnesses to the resurrection, we are to pass along the amazing story of Jesus. “Because the story was real, because the story was such life-altering good news, the story of Jesus Christ spread and was told and retold. From the eye-witness to the life-witness, the greatest story ever told continues to find voice and work its way into the most unlikely of places and hearts.” Click here for “Tell the Story,” this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Review: Two Books on Stewardship
Circuit Rider ReviewsLooking to expand your stewardship library? Here are reviews of  Maxie D. Dunnam’s Irresistible Invitation: Responding to the Extravagant Heart of God and J. Clif Christopher’s Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship. Both are published by Abingdon Press. Click here for “Two Books on Stewardship,” appearing in Circuit Rider, the United Methodist Church’s magazine for clergy (which is also published by Abingdon).

New! "A Stewardship Minute"
- a new article every month about stewardship, from Parish Publishing, LLC. What opportunities are you overlooking or missing? Just at the point when we think all is lost and nothing is going to improve, God surprises us with a new opportunity! Click here to read the rest. . .