The existence of evil and suffering are, without question, the most common reason people claim not to believe in God, or at least in a loving, just, and personal God. As one commentator says, “It is not merely a problem, it is the problem.” And John Stott reported, “The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith…”
We sure see enough evil and suffering. Tornadoes, floods and fires in recent weeks alone have caused—and are still causing—untold grief and misery. And we all know someone, perhaps it’s even you, whose personal world is broken, shattered.
How we view God, especially in times of great trials and disappointment, is central to our faith and enables our endurance. It is our view of God that determines how we respond to suffering. Do we believe He is loving, just, faithful, merciful, caring, engaged, and in control? Most importantly, does He really work all things for good?
So, how do we walk worthy when our world is broken?
- It’s okay to cry out to the Lord. The psalmist says in Psalm 10:1 “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
- We can still choose to trust Him. Even in the worst of suffering Job could say, “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.” As her dear husband was losing his battle with cancer, my sister Ginny would whisper to him, “Remember, we are broken, God is not.”
- Choose to believe God; He works all things for good. Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
My encouragement to you today: Whatever your circumstances, fix your eyes on Him. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (fixed) on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3 NASB)
Matt Weidler, an ECCUemployee, was awarded a $10,000 check for having a brilliant idea — accessing ATMs using a cell phone. Matt was announced the winner of the CO-OP THINK prize on May 17 at the annual THINK Conference in Anaheim, CA.
Read more about Matt’s winning idea by going to the CO-OP THINK website and clicking on 2011 Winner.
What do you think of Matt’s idea?
What does it mean to “hurt” another believer? I’m not talking about hurting someone’s feelings, or even causing physical pain.
If you look at Romans 14, specifically verse 15 (“For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love.”), you see a definition for “hurt” that means causing people to be spiritually weakened by your example. Tempting them to violate their conscience. Causing them to stumble.
Even among Bible-believing Jesus-followers, there are distinctions in personal convictions. And, clearly, not all convictions are absolute. Some seemingly important issues are “non-essential.” In fact, it is possible that we might actually be wrong on some things that seem really important to us. This passage is not talking about vital non-negotiables of the faith (such as the virgin birth, salvation by grace through faith, or clear commands of Scripture).
While Romans 14 speaks of close personal relationships, especially in the family and in the church, the passage also applies in a Christian workplace. So, how can we protect the convictions of fellow believers in our work environment?
- Recognize that sincere, faithful Christians will differ on some important issues. No matter how strongly you may feel, be careful not to judge. Be as fully convinced as you can based on clear scriptural principles and wise counsel. Don’t let your emotions run away, and allow room for differing opinions. (Again, this is in regard to non-essential issues.)
- Seek to be sensitive to the convictions and feelings of one another. Even be willing to give up your right to engage in some activities that you are fully convinced are acceptable before the Lord for the sake of fellow believers. Do not let Satan use such an issue as a wedge.
- Be especially careful to set aside your Christian liberty when there is a possibility that others may choose to engage in the behavior you model, and in the process violate their own conscience. In the Bible, this applied to eating meat offered to idols. Today, we could liken this to abstaining from alcohol around those whose convictions keep them from drinking.
- Avoid asking anyone to violate his conscience. Do not ask any employee to engage in a business activity that violates a sincerely held, biblically based conviction. If a faithful volunteer believes Christian rock isn’t, well, Christian, maybe you don’t ask him to help out with your next concert.
- Finally, recognize that there is a limit to this responsibility. We cannot modify our behavior for every conceivable situation, nor can we please everyone or avoid every potential offense.
Have you ever laid aside your Christian liberties to protect the conscience and convictions of a fellow believer? We’d love to hear about it.
ECCU loves to make ministries more effective. For years we did it primarily by financing their facilities, but we also recognize that sometimes buying may not be the best option. This is one reason our ministry development officers consult with ministries—to look at their needs and help them determine if they are better off buying or leasing. From those discussions, here are a few reasons that always top the list when leasing wins out:
- Save a buck or two. Sometimes, it’s just plain cheaper to rent than to own.
- Financial Freedom. The advantage of not being leveraged is considerable financial freedom. This freedom allows ministries to focus more wholly on ministry opportunities and enables them to change course as new needs arise.
- Adaptability. Ministries with a strong emphasis on their community and the world at large may be less inclined to spend a lot of capital (money and energy) on a permanent facility. Renting creates more flexibility to change and respond to community and missions needs.
- Imperviousness. When the economy gets ugly, renters are often better positioned to withstand the blow. Ministries that are more leveraged—and in some cases over-leveraged—have considerable constraints when attempting to adjust to tough economic times. They are beholden to the debt they carry. I recently read about a church that took on debt to relocate in a new subdivision. Then came the economic crash, and the church lost it all. Had this ministry weighed the risk appropriately ahead of time, they may have realized that leasing a space was a wiser option.
Of course, there’s a long list of pros for buying as well. My advice? Seek the Lord, wait upon his timing, and consult a trusted financial partner for wisdom about what is best for your ministry.
How about your ministry? What have you found to be pros and cons of leasing and buying?
We all know that whenever corporate officers or signers change, we need to update our account agreements with our financial institution. For many churches, this often becomes an annual exercise when board members change.
However, as a banker, I can tell you that it is not uncommon to come across organizations that don’t really know who’s been given authorization over accounts and services. And many of these accounts have significant balances or transaction capabilities. While organizations typically remember to update account agreements with new signers, they often overlook accounts or services established in the past. They believe they’ve given authority to trustworthy individuals, but the potential for fraud increases when they don’t pay close attention to managing these accounts and services.
My suggestion is to review—at least annually—all authority granted by your organization to individuals. I’ve found that using a tool called “authority granted” is especially helpful. It lists every relationship the organization maintains with the potential of financial transactions. It then also identifies who in the organization has authority and to what extent. By reviewing this each year with your board, you will ensure that everyone understands who has authority, as well as the level of authority. Plus, by reviewing this in relationship to all your accounts and services, you can also begin to see if there are areas where there aren’t adequate internal controls (separation of duties or dual custody). Once reviewed, verify the information with your financial institution. Ask them to make sure their records match what yours. You can also ask them if there are any other agreements in place that you are not aware of. It is not uncommon to discover services or accounts that were opened years ago, not currently in use, but still with users eligible to execute transactions.
When I first became treasurer at my church, I went to my financial institution and asked them to conduct a full review of our accounts and their records. To my surprise, I found that there was a gentleman still authorized on our accounts for a service we hadn’t used in over ten years. While there had never been a problem or issue, it exposed an area of inadequate controls.
So now, every year I review, update, and have our board approve a new authority granted document. Then I go to our financial institution and have them compare it to our accounts and services.
How do you make sure who has authority on your accounts?