FMF Financial Services encourages you to join us in spending some prayerful time checking out the resources offered by the Justice Network of the FMCUSA. Their worthy mission is “to extol and deepen the Free Methodist Church’s historic commitment to oppose oppression and restore God’s wholeness to those who have been disenfranchised both in society and within the church.” What better time than now to join in these efforts to truly be Kingdom people involved in God’s work of redemption and reconciliation on earth!
Click here to learn more about the Justice Network and browse helpful videos, position papers, and more. You can also find them on Facebook by searching for “The Justice Network of the Free Methodist Church”.
Life during the pandemic has changed in many ways. We have all made adjustments to the “normal” way things are done. Some of the changes have been uncomfortable or inconvenient. Others have resulted in creative solutions to everyday tasks we wouldn’t otherwise have discovered.
Charitable giving has not been excepted from the effects of the pandemic. Loss of income and the current market downturn have made it difficult for some to continue giving at previous levels. We recently worked with a donor who came up with a creative solution to this situation.
In 2006, a family set up a scholarship fund at one of the Christian educational institutions we serve. With the current market conditions, the family was not able to continue giving to the scholarship at the level they desired from their investment accounts. They decided to gift a piece of real property to the school. When the school sells the property, the proceeds will fund the scholarship at the desired level for two years. The family is hopeful that these two years will provide the market time to recover so they can continue their giving as before.
This is just one story among many of people being generous despite the pandemic. In fact, we have had churches report their giving has actually increased and allowed them to serve their communities in new ways during these difficult times.
Our God is not limited by a pandemic. He WILL provide. Will you allow Him to use you?
**UPDATE – We have learned this property will be a CASH sale for $20,100 more than expected! Isn’t it just like God to provide over and above our expectations?
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work …. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
We are excited to share PART 1 of a video series we have been working on! The series will focus on several concepts of estate and gift planning, including wills and trusts, powers of attorney, and joint ownership. Families often avoid discussions about estate planning because they can be uncomfortable, or they don’t feel knowledgeable on the subject. We have developed these videos to provide a fun format for you to explore these important topics. Watch for yourself or share them with family and friends!
PART 1 introduces the mission of FMF Financial Services and explains what we mean when we refer to estate planning and gift planning. Click on the image above to view this short (2:36) video.
If you have any questions about the ideas presented in the videos, please feel free to contact us! Your regional representative would be happy to have a conversation with you. CLICK HERE for a list of our regional representatives and their contact information.
CLICK HERE to view other videos available in our library.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for the premier of PARTS 2 – 5!
1. Give thanks for your freedom and favor. What a blessing it is to enjoy the freedoms we too often take for granted and the blessings that attend us in this country.
2. Pray for those who protect our freedom. Remember those who fought and died for our freedom in the past and those soldiers, sailors, and those whose service protects us today.
3. Pray for our nation’s leaders. Paul, the early church leader, wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3, niv). If he were writing today, Paul would probably include not only the president and other national officials but also members of Congress, governors, judges and others in positions of authority both locally and nationally.
4. Remember those in oppressive or disadvantaged circumstances. As we express gratitude for our freedoms, we should also remember those who live in different circumstances where war, oppression, discrimination and injustice divide and dominate. We have recently been reminded of this in our own country. Even as you rejoice in your blessings, cry out to God for those who suffer.
5. Find new freedom in forgiveness. There is no bad time to forgive someone but there are few better times than on a day when we celebrate freedom. Take a moment to consider whether there is someone you can forgive or something in your life that you can let go. Or perhaps there is someone you need to ask forgiveness from. Why not include in this year’s celebration a new level of freedom by shaking off the shackles of unforgiveness or regret—perhaps even seeking God’s forgiveness or forgiving yourself, and experiencing the truth of Romans 8:1-2: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, niv).
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.I Timothy 6:7
Everything we have belongs to God. I was reminded of this stark reality recently as I stood in my yard and watched the house across the street suddenly burn – a total loss. My heart is heavy as my neighbors work through the process of grief and rebuilding their lives. The flames engulfed their home so quickly that nothing was able to be saved except the clothes on their backs.
We can easily find our lives focused around the accumulation of possessions. But the reality of life is the Kingdom of God is the only thing that will last for eternity. It is what really matters. My neighbor’s perspective is good. As I conveyed my support, her response was, “I couldn’t take it to heaven anyway.”
After significant trauma, our perspectives for life are often reset. Every day as I look out my window, I have a visual reminder of the tragedy. I can’t help but ponder, “What am I doing today that is going to make a difference for eternity?”
All that we have, all that we are, all that we can do is a gift from God, given to accomplish His purpose in the world through us.
Sarah Granger Marketing Consultant The Free Methodist Foundation
Early in our marriage, my wife and I dreamed about having some land and enjoying country life. Thoughts of fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetable gardens, and flower beds were merely a hopeful desire. Eight years ago we moved to Brockport, New York, into a home with great potential and started working toward the dream.
It has been quite a learning process. The deer ate the blueberry bushes during the second winter; the third winter they browsed on the fruit trees. We had a hard frost the next June that ruined everything. My work schedule kept me away quite a bit, and the weeds overtook new plantings. There were times when the work made the dream seem more like a nightmare.
This spring things are looking different. The apple trees have more blossoms than we have ever seen; the asparagus is producing more than we can eat; and we are enjoying the harvest as we experiment with new rhubarb recipes! It reminds me of Paul’s words in Galatians 6:
“ So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”
Paul is talking about a different harvest – the fruit of a life focused on sharing the love of Jesus with those around us. In an unexpected way, the past several months have tested our patience, endurance, and even our faith. But when we look with spiritual eyes, we see that the Lord has been doing what He always does … working in us, for us, and through us to accomplish a long-awaited harvest!
Recently our churches have been experiencing the reality of doing nearly all ministry outside the four walls of a building. We’re creatively taking advantage of technology to expand ministry in practical and relevant ways like never before. As a conduit of the love of Christ to our communities, we have personally begun to care for people (sometimes folks we don’t even know) in practical, innovative ways.
Through the wearisome, dark times of this crisis, the light of Christ has shown through, and the fruit of the labor is beginning to bud. People around the world are seeing the need for something beyond self-sufficiency; individuals are yearning for the hope and security that only comes from Jesus; communities are honoring people who serve them; companies are sacrificing profit to increase charitable giving; and leaders are acknowledging ministries as essential to the wellbeing of our nation.
God is doing something new, and He isn’t finished yet. The blossoms are spectacular. I can’t wait to see the overflowing harvest!
Rev. Steven “Mac” Macaluso Regional Vice President
FMF Financial Services believes all that we are, all that we possess, and all that we can do, is a gift from God, given to accomplish His purposes in the world through us. Simply put, everything we have is provided by God and we are His stewards.
Part of being a good steward is knowing about various tax strategies that can maximize your giving. Representatives at FMF Financial Services consistently keep track of these ever-changing strategies and are happy to help you understand how they might apply to your personal giving.
A client recently called me with great news … he had reduced his income taxes for 2019 from $13,000 to $7,000! This client took advantage of a tax strategy known as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). Available to persons 70 ½ or older, the QCD allows you to give to qualified charities from your IRA. These gifts (up to $100,000) count toward satisfying your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year AND reduce your taxable income. Instead of giving from his bank account, this client used the QCDs from his IRA to pay his tithe and make his annual gifts to charity. (Although the recent CARES act eliminated RMDs for 2020, you can still make these gifts from your IRA to ministry.)
The CARES Act gave us another valuable tax strategy for 2020. It allows donors to deduct up to 100% of their income in 2020 by making qualified contributions of cash to approved charities.
Your regional representative would be happy to talk about these tax strategies and many more to help you maximize your giving. As you can imagine, there is quite a bit of “small print” that applies to these tax strategies. We would be happy to help you wade through all of it to make sure your gift will qualify. Contact us today to begin the conversation and find a strategy that works just right for you.
Article by Scott Drury, FMF Financial Services, Regional Representative.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…. (1 John 4:18, NIV)
In 2014, Ebola swept across three West African nations like a scourge, terrifying and deadly. Fear gripped the world not unlike today. Millions suffered through quarantines. The media echoed with similar calls for travel bans, border closings, and anger over missteps by world leaders and health care officials. Although Ebola and COVID-19 are not similar as viral diseases, the responses to fear remain sadly the same—riots over quarantines; attacks on those trying to help; rumors of geo-political plots.
I was in Liberia on July 27, 2014, the day it was globally reported that Dr. Kent Brantly and his SIM colleague Nancy Writebol had contracted Ebola. That was the day fear came. Traveling with a gospel team, we had made a significant connection with leaders of a remote, unreached Gola village to bring clean water and show the Jesus film. Standing on the border posing for photos, we received texts of the news and shortly thereafter were escorted from the gates. We returned to deserted and fearful streets of Monrovia.
In the days that followed, I struggled with real anxiety, but was able to complete my project and return home to twenty-one days of social distancing and daily temperature checks. Writebol simply struggled to survive after putting her life on the line to serve the Liberian people. Many vilified her for taking foolish risks and advocated for the isolation of West Africa, tacitly advocating for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But by God’s grace those voices did not prevail. Writebol and the spirit of perfect love she represented did. Lives were saved and an even worse catastrophe was averted.
In 2017, I met Writebol and shook her hand. It isn’t often you get to meet a hero of the faith. She was back in Liberia serving God and the people she loved. I was there among thousands of Gola people to celebrate clean water and hundreds of new believers. Love had driven fear away in a miraculous way and God was blessing us with a wonderful harvest.
Perhaps you are feeling discouraged, anxious, and maybe even a little angry these days. Don’t lose heart. Let me encourage you to embrace Writebol’s example. If you can’t serve on the front lines of the pandemic now, embrace and support this next generation of Writebols who are. No matter what the circumstance, you can choose to be part of God’s miraculous story of love and redemption. A harvest awaits.
The people refused to enter the promised land, for they wouldn’t believe His promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord. Psalm 106: 24-25
During these unprecedented times, it may seem like we are in a wilderness. Like the Israelites, we would rather grumble and complain instead of trusting God to care for us.
I believe sometimes God takes us on a journey to a new place – one that requires us to close our ears to the voices of doubt and to TRUST Him. Sometimes God will ask us to climb mountains. He may take us to places where we feel unsafe to help increase our TRUST factor. The climb can be higher and harder than expected. At times it may even seem impossible or depressing.
I was able to live out this lesson as I climbed Mount Sinai to see the sunrise on a recent trip to the Middle East and Holy Land. It was there I learned that sometimes God has me climb in the dark, TRUSTING Him to light the path bring companions who will journey with me. I also learned that once I reached the top (what I think is the destination), the journey wasn’t over. It really had just begun. I also needed to climb down the mountain to deliver the story God had given me to share.
What does your TRUST factor look like? Are you TRUSTING or grumbling? Are you equipping yourself for the journey God has you on through good stewardship of your heart, mind, and soul? Are you sharing your story?
Commit EVERYTHING you do to the Lord – TRUST Him – and He will help you. Psalm 37:5
I will TRUST in Him and not be afraid – the Lord God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. Isaiah 12:2
Recently two separate reports came my way and I thought it was so interesting to see how God’s work continues regardless of the time, place and issues at hand. The first is an excerpt from an East Michigan Conference (EMC) report that was included in their 1919 Annual Conference Minutes:
“During the first part of the year we were greatly handicapped in our work by the dread disease, Spanish Influenza. Nearly all of our churches were closed for weeks and not a service was held. This had a depressing effect on the spiritual condition of the work. But, notwithstanding all we have had to encounter, almost all of the preachers have held special meetings on their charges and with some result and in our judgment, we think the work is on the upgrade… It is with a sense of pleasure that we close the year’s work and take a retrospect and see how the Lord has blessed by giving us grace and physical strength to execute the work assigned us.” (From the Marston Memorial Historical Center; see more HERE)
Second, Superintendent Tom Dougherty (North Michigan Conference) shared the following encouraging words despite not being able to hold their Annual Conference last weekend as originally scheduled:
“The North Michigan Conference is looking forward, even as we minister today from homes and empty church buildings. Most of our churches have increased their presence online. We are discovering new friends while ministering to our church families through new and old fashion methods of connecting. We are positioning ourselves for great cooperate worship relaunches while engaging in new ministry processes that will continue when we are free to worship together again . . . . We are fully involved with the realities of the here and now and looking forward to a year of expansion.”
God is at work in Michigan and around the world!
Chris DeBacker Regional Vice President
Do you have a report of how God is blessing during these unprecedented times? Reply back to us and tell us your story!