Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Where History Invites Opportunity

www archive.stewardshipoflife.org

SOLI/Update
Free Newsletter

Links to the latest weekly resources, plus a special message. Review past newsletters in the archive. Click to Subscribe!

 

SOLI Update
2006 Newsletter Archives

For 2008, Click Here
For 2007, Click Here
For 2005, Click Here
For 2004, Click Here
For 2003, Click Here
2006

Dec. 26 - Now's the time to say 'Merry Christmas'. As I write this, the 25th of December ended less than 24 hours ago, and already you can see that the world has shifted gears and is now heading full-speed away from Christmas. How strange that after doing all they can since Halloween to pump up the spirit of Christmas, ad nauseum, the commercial interests abandon it so quickly. ” Click here for this latest essay by webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Dec. 11 - What Then Should We Do? “John the Baptist tells us that in the Reign of God, possessions and money are for us to earn honestly and fairly regardless of our occupation. There is no room for personal gain at the expense of others. And once earned, we are to share with those who are in need. Not merely to share generously, but sacrificially.” Click here for “Victory in the War on Christmas?” by webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Dec. 4 - Victory in War on Christmas? Ho, Ho, Ho!  “Now that Wal-Mart and other retailers have relented, instructing workers to greet holiday shoppers with the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays,’ pundits are declaring victory in the ‘War on Christmas.’ And they are SO wrong. ‘Peace with honor,’ perhaps. But not victory.” Click here for “Victory in the War on Christmas?” by webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Nov. 13 - Isaiah: Prophet for our time.  Although some Scripture verses, especially from the Old Testament, lend support to the notion that God blesses righteous people with prosperity, these references are overwhelmingly outweighed and outnumbered by other verses that call for God's faithful people to be extremely wary of money and the lure it has to draw them away from God. Jesus was particularly clear on this point. Click here for “Isaiah: Prophet for our time,” by webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Nov. 6 - Stewardship of your life - now more than ever. "For too many of Jesus's followers, the end-times hype promotes a kind of fatalistic hunkering down, a disengagement from the world and all its problems. Why care for the poor? Why fight injustice? Why look for an end to war? Why worry about global warming? All those problems count for nothing if God's big clock is about to run out anyway." Click here for this archive column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Oct. 30 - The Gospel worldview. "There's a tool that transforms grudging people into the cheerful givers Paul talks about. It's called the Gospel. Those whose lives have been transformed by the power of the Gospel not only give cheerfully, but they also exhibit all those counterintuitive behaviors we read about in the New Testament." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

 Oct. 23 - Why did Jesus want the rich man to sell his stuff?  "Perhaps the rich man was sad because he knew he would NOT take Jesus' prescription. He would keep his possessions. And for the rest of his life he would endure doubt, guilt and speculation about what his life might have been. ... Or, perhaps the rich man was sad  because he knew he would, indeed, bite the bullet and follow Jesus' instructions." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.
 
Oct. 16 - E-Giving Removes Hassles and Surprises.
"We have been emphasizing the Simply Giving program in my church, but so far very few people have signed up. One reason may be that many people are reluctant to reveal that they 'only' give $10 a week. Perhaps they wish they could give more and don't want the church to know they give that amount, or perhaps they feel guilty and don't want to admit it to themselves." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's SOLI/Update.


Oct. 9 - Giving is a Spiritual Discipline. "We are working hard to make it an exercise in discipleship that will invite our people to venture more deeply in their faith walk, and NOT play into their sense of guilt or shame. Sure, we could probably wring out a few extra bucks by making people feel bad, but that's not going to create any of the 'cheerful givers' that Paul talks about. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

Oct. 2 - A budget is a statement of faith. "Is your church's budget a menu of the hopes, dreams and missionary ministries your congregation wants to accomplish in the year to come?  Or is it a life-support prescription for how the congregation expects to pay the staff, keep the lights burning, the sanctuary heated and the grass mowed? " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

Sept. 25 - Swinging on the  Blessings of God. "In the rite of baptism in The Lutheran Book of Worship, we reject the Devil and all the Devil’s “empty promises.” In our consumer culture, we are especially vulnerable to the Devil's empty promise that it is our possessions and consumption that will make us happy. We reject that empty promise when we take our deepest happiness from the simplest gifts of the hand of God." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Sept. 11 - More labor daze. "OK, it's getting scary now. Yet another Labor Day has passed with dismal news for middle class Americans and those who earn lower than middle-class wages. These are the people who have been losing ground in the struggle to pay the day-to-day bills while also putting a little aside for retirement and the kids' education." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Sept. 4 - To whom much is expected, much is given.  "Faced with shrinking congregations and dwindling resources, many Mainline churches have relaxed their expectations of members.  But instead of drawing people to our churches, the easy approach unwittingly does just the opposite. It sends a bad message: 'Membership at our church doesn't  really mean very much. We're just glad you're here. Please come back!'" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Aug. 28 - Deep down, people want to give. "Imagine the stewardship opportunities that would await your congregation if you knew for sure that six out of every 10 of your members saw themselves as full-time servants of God, AND if you knew for sure that 90 percent of them considered themselves generous givers. Surprisingly, those figures are true!" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Aug. 21 - Simplicity is a moving target.
"There's nothing like a household move to reveal your true relationship with worldly possessions. Take it from me, in the midst of moving from the duplex where I've lived since 2002.  See, four years ago brought me a new start in life, a fresh beginning. I imagined centering my new life on the principles of simplicity, non-consumerism, prayer and discipline.  It was kind of Henry David Thoreau meets Thomas Merton. I vowed not to clutter my life or my little house with things that would distract from the spiritual life. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Aug. 14 - Miracle lessons for every Christian. "John's account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes has been stirring in my heart ever since we read it as the appointed Gospel a couple Sundays back. In particular, Jesus's actions just before feeding the multitude and just afterwards. In a miracle that handily demonstrates God's abundant providence, Jesus models two important stewardship principles. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Aug. 7 - Who is up to the task of stewardship? "Against the deceptions of our self-absorbed culture, churches proclaim the Gospel truth of God's Reign breaking in all around us every day. God's Reign happens whenever the promise of God's love and salvation is proclaimed, heard and believed. The Gospel alone has the power to transform hearts from greed to generosity, to reorder our priorities and clear our vision." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update,

July 31 - The law's tithing versus the Gospel's free generosity.  "Next time you're at a church social function, go up to groups of people who seem to be having fun and start talking about tithing. Most will run for cover faster than vampires at dawn.  But the ones who remain may have an interesting story to share. That's because a wide majority of churchgoers believes giving a tenth of their gross income is utterly impossible and totally unrealistic." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

July 24 - Every church's security nightmare. "At First Lutheran Church in Bend, Ore., a man entered the kitchen and demanded money from a church worker. When immediate assistance was not forthcoming, he grabbed a knife from a drawer, stabbed her in the abdomen, then fled. This kind of risk has been growing in recent years." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition.

July 17 - Why didn't Adam & Eve tithe? What was the original sin that Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden so long ago, and why should we be thinking about it in a stewardship column? I've been thinking about this for two reasons, the second of which is that Disney's movie Pirates of the Caribbean raked in a record-breaking $132 million on its first weekend." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition.

July 10 - Our editorialist was off, but this week's SOLI/Update, contained many great resource worth checking out.  Click here to subscribe.

July 3 - Bicycling pastor models good stewardship.
"A pastor I know is a great stewardship role model for his congregation, his fellow pastors-- and everybody who sees him pedal down the street. He rides his sturdy bicycle almost everywhere he needs to go. The pastor is making a statement and also setting excellent examples of good stewardship on a number of points." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition .

June 26 - The Bedrock of Stewardship. "A colleague in ministry attended a conference on evangelism and came away rolling his eyes. All the programs and earnest ideas seemed like gimmicks, he said, compared to the simple evangelism strategy he read in the above passage from Acts. I’ve been mulling it over and think it may apply to the fund-raising and budget making aspects of stewardship as well." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from a 2005 edition of SOLI/Update.

June 19 - Don't forget the Dads! "Is your church doing something special to honor the Dads this Sunday? It should, In fact, congregations should be doing everything they can to get Dads and other men deeply into the life of faith. Why? Because fathers who are active in church are much more likely to raise children to be churchgoers than mothers who are active in church. It's true." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from a 2005 edition of SOLI/Update.

June 12 - Stewards must pay close attention. "It's amazing how quickly we adapt to a changing reality that we fail to notice even profound changes, so long as they happen slowly enough. Such has been a problem convincing many people that environmental problems are real. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

June 5 - Is your church contributor-friendly?  "A smaller percentage of church donations comes via the traditional check-in-the-collection-plate. In fact, a growing number of people (I am one) do their banking electronically and simply loathe writing checks. Others would rather give their via credit card. Does your church give them guidance?" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

 May 29 - The happiness factor. "OK, Pastor. You preach the gospel in its purity and administer the sacraments with fidelity to the Scriptures. You see evidence that the Word of God is working in your congregation. Good job! So now what else can you do to help your congregation members live better, more fulfilled lives? Help them to be happy. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

May 22 - Go in Peace! Serve the Lord! Thanks be to God! "The words above, familiar to millions of Lutherans as the sending prayer to conclude weekly worship, shine brilliantly in their simplicity and power. The prayer captures the essence of our discipleship response to the Gospel:" Click here for this archive column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

May 15 - Stewardship lessons from $3-a-gallon gasoline. "Pastors and finance committee chairs have long known that when it comes to giving to their congregations, many members look at their contributions the way they look at their gasoline bills: What's the least I have to pay?" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

May 8 - Stewardship lessons from poets and prophets. "More than us ordinary people, poets and prophets recognize that beauty and divinity are all around us all the time. In some ways, the principal work of the Almighty is to open the eyes of God's people. Jesus, God incarnate, came and dwelled with us that we, too, would see that we are loved by God, and free to open our eyes to the beauty and wonder of our lives as it unfolds moment by moment. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

May 1 -
Has Earth Day's time arrived at last? "Maybe it's the mounting evidence of global warming -- the melting ice caps, the ferocious storms and tornadoes, the lengthening growing season, the migration of tropical insects into temperate zones, etc. -- that is causing people of faith to take the environment seriously. But then, maybe it's gas at $3 a gallon." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard

April 24 - Easter: Now that was a Sabbath! "Our oh-so Christian nation reveres the Ten Commandments, and yet it turns a blind eye to the widespread sin of not keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The full text of the commandment spells out clearly that cessation from work is how God wants us to keep it holy." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

April 17 - Stewardship Lessons for Holy Week. "It comes down to this: We are the inheritors and stewards of God's movement to intervene decisively in worldly affairs, to reconcile and save humanity and all of creation. We are stewards of the bold message that through the unlikely person of Jesus of Nazareth, a ragamuffin rabbi from a no account backwater of the Ancient Near East, God has come and announced the Good News for all people until the end of the Age." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

April 10 - In giving, our values become abundantly clear. "We are saved by grace and not by works -- thank God! -- but the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 or Luke 19:12-27) certainly implies that God is not indifferent to how we use the abundance with which we are blessed. Yet statistics show that Christians do not give very much to support their churches financially." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

April 3 - Paul's brilliant stewardship appeal. "St. Paul was a genius who possessed multiple gifts. An enthusiastic evangelist, he was also a brilliant thinker, a great writer and -- surprise surprise -- a superb motivator. All these things are apparent in the 9th Chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians. The chapter could stand alone as a stewardship appeal letter, and it ought to be studied by every congregational finance and stewardship committee." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update

March 27 - Getting rid of 'all the crap'.

"I have friends who only half joke that they need a bigger house to hold all their crap. Funny thing is, after a while, we don’t even see how much stuff we have. Relatives who are selling their home of 35 years were advised by the real estate broker to get rid of a lot of their accumulated junk. They were shocked." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

March 20 - Take a day off - that's an order! "Our economy thrives on teaching people to focus on what they do not have. Unhappiness motivates people to work harder and consume more. When they still are not happy, they do not challenge the false premise that consumption can bring happiness. Instead, they believe they simply have not consumed enough." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

March 13 - Gratitude and gaining your life.  "Our economy thrives on teaching people to focus on what they do not have. Unhappiness motivates people to work harder and consume more. When they still are not happy, they do not challenge the false premise that consumption can bring happiness. Instead, they believe they simply have not consumed enough." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

March 6 - Lenten sacrifice for grown-ups. "Doing without a favorite food provides a Christian the opportunity for reflection, discipline and strength. But although foregoing treats is a great way to introduce Lent to the kids, I wonder whether giving up ice cream is a sacrifice worthy of a mature walk of faith." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Feb. 27 - Ash Wednesday: When stewards take stock "The words and gesture express our lowly condition as human beings: Time will and destroy us, despite the defensive ramparts and barricades we construct with our money, our fame, our beauty, our power, and so on. So if death and dust are inevitable, Ash Wednesday asks us, why do we human beings build our silly defenses as if, as if they will protect us?" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Feb. 20 - Obesity is a symptom, not a disease."As a culture, we Americans medicate and pacify ourselves with consumption. And not just food. Because it’s not only America’s waistlines that are getting bigger, but also the mini-mansion houses we’re building, the overstuffed cars and light trucks we’re putting on the road, the increasingly ostentatious wedding receptions we’re throwing, and on and on." Click here for this archive column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Feb. 13 - The lessons of 'financial fasting.' "By doing without I learned how little of what I consume I actually need for nutrition. I saw the degree to which my incessant nibbling and snacking arose out of pure habit, and not real hunger. As an experiment, I expanded this to my consumer life, setting aside “financial fasting” days when I would simply buy nothing." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Feb. 6 - Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer at 100. "Feb. 4 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the remarkable German Lutheran pastor and theologian who opposed Adolph Hitler. For stewards, Bonhoeffer offers insightful teachings about commitment expressed in action, as well as an example of a God-given life well-used. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Jan. 30 - Give your congregation the 'Malachi challenge' "Preaching one week on Malachi 3:10, the pastor simply dared his congregation to do what God asks -- to put God to the test by giving a tenth of their income to the church and see whether God would not 'open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.' The pastor challenged the congregation to try it for just a month and see if their lives would not be blessed." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Jan. 23 - The next stage of King's 'Dream'. "In recent years, wages for working people have barely kept up with inflation, while income for CEOs has skyrocketed. The Christian Science Monitor reports: 'From 1990 through 2004, CEO pay at the top 365 firms increased 319 percent, the S&P 500 238 percent, and profits 87 percent, while average worker pay rose 4.5 percent.' " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.

Jan. 16 - A lesson in being left out. "The 10:45 Sunday service at the big Lutheran church where I belong generally draws a couple hundred worshipers, but two baptisms this past week brought lots of extra folks. By the time I arrived, a few minutes late, there were no bulletins left and little choice of seating. I wondered if I was getting a taste, just a taste, of what it was like to be disenfranchised."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Jan. 9 - This year, pray for your own Epiphany.
"The Magi looked at the stars and determined that a new king had appeared on the earth. Following the star, they arrived at Bethlehem and were the first to acknowledge Jesus as King, thus giving the world a great Epiphany. Now as we remember that first Epiphany 2,000 years ago, what lessons can we take from those wise men?"  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.


Jan. 2 - The good but 'compassion fatigued' Samaritan. "The columnists and commentators are calling 2005 the "Year of Disasters," beginning with the cleanup from one of the worst Tsunamis on record and continuing on with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and then the earthquake around Pakistan. And relief agencies from big international charities to local food banks are talking about "compassion fatigue" and "donor fatigue" as their usual benefactors and supporters say they are overwhelmed and overextended in the charity department. "  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update.