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The Intersection of Grace, Gratitude, and Gifts, (Part 2)
by Uzziel Maldonado

Generosity and graciousness are character traits that God has, an outflow of His love.  He provides for the fish and fauna, birds, and creeping-crawling critters (Matthew 6:26).  The sun shines on the just and the unjust, not dependent on our actions but on who God is (Matthew 5:45).  Conversely, we are naturally egotistical and proud.  We usually continue in this condition after we are taught better by our parents and schoolteachers.  Unfortunately, we remain short-sighted and selfish even though we are taught better, even after water baptism, even after coming into fellowship with Christ!  Such was the case with the disciples.
 
Evidence of the disciples doubting, stubborn, deep-rooted, hardhearted tendencies abound.  Think of the time James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven after the Samaritan village rejected the Savior and them (Luke 9:54), or the time their mother and they requested the two highest positions in the kingdom only to infuriate the other disciples (Matthew 20:21).  Judas betrayed Jesus because he realized the Kingdom of God that Jesus was providing would no longer benefit him monetarily.  How about the time Peter, James, and John fell asleep after Jesus had expressed His intense sorrow and presence during prayer (Matthew 26:38).  Or the time Peter, swung the sword and cut Malchus’ ear and abandoned Jesus to save himself soon after vowing he would never deny Him (John 18:10).  But praise be to God that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20)!   

Acts chapters one and two record the turning point, when the disciples’ stubborn hearts were finally broken.  It was after they realized how hopeless they truly were and patiently waited on what Christ had promised that they finally receive what they needed most, namely the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  They were not disappointed!  They received God’s grace “in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38).  Together they accepted God’s generous gifts of forgiveness of sins, righteousness, acceptance, and the promise of the long-awaited inheritance.  They could not, would not keep it to themselves.   Hymn 290 captures it well, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  They were in one accord, sold their possessions, gave, and met needs (Acts 2:45). 

 
END OF YEAR CHARITABLE GIVING & TAX STRATEGIES
by Lynette Ecord
 
Many people wait until the end of the year to decide on how/what their special (beyond tithe and offerings) charitable giving will be, taking into consideration any tax advantages that may maximize those gifts.
 
The CARES Act, signed into law this past March, presents special opportunities for charitable giving. Here are some highlights:
 
  1. Consider using the 100% AGI limit for charitable deductions if you received a windfall or sold appreciated assets or a business in 2020 and are facing a large capital gains tax in 2020.
 
  1. Create life income for yourself or your loved ones by establishing a charitable gift annuity with cash and using the 100% adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation.
 
  1. Explore more flexibility in charitable giving for IRAs, such as a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA if you are age 70-1/2 or older (even if required minimum distributions are suspended).
 
  1. Establish a “stretch IRA” by directing retirement funds to a testamentary charitable remainder trust or charitable gift annuity.
 
  1. Use the $300 above-the-line tax reduction if you do not itemize on your tax return.  This is a new deduction for donors who do not itemize when filing their tax returns. If you do not itemize but make a gift to the ministry, you will be allowed to take a special tax deduction, up to $300, to reduce your tax liability.
 
There are several other ways to give as well.  For example, naming the Texas Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists as the beneficiary, or a partial beneficiary, on a life insurance policy.  If you’d like to learn more about how you can help to continue the many areas of ministry within the Conference, including your local church or school, please contact us at (817) 790-2255, Ext. 2105, or email
trust@txsda.org.
Christmas Humor
What did Adam say the day before Christmas? “It’s Christmas, Eve!”

How did Mary and Joseph know Jesus’ weight when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger!

What athlete is warmest in winter? A long jumper!

Why are Christmas trees so bad at sewing? They always drop their needles!

How many letters are in the Christmas alphabet? Only 25, there’s no L!

What do snowmen have for breakfast? Snowflakes!

What do snowmen eat for lunch? Icebergers!

What do snowmen eat for dinner?  Brrrr-itos and Chill-e

For more click
here.
“Stewardship is a total lifestyle.  It involves our health, time, talents, environment, relationships, spirituality, and finances.”  Below you will find a story from within the Texas Conference of a member who is doing her best to be a faithful steward.
East Texas Stewardship Hero: Maureen Wanami
 We look forward to the day when there will be no more tears or pain. In the meantime, we are called to be the body of Jesus, meet needs, provide a message, and hope.  That is why we continue to express gratitude toward our healthcare workers like testatrix Maureen who serves the Houston community as a pharmacist.  She was born and raised in Kenya, then completed her education in Houston, Texas, where she continues to be a great asset in the Houston International Seventh-day Adventist Church as a deaconess and active young adult.  In her spare time, she enjoys visiting neighborhoods with Reach the World Next Door where a large number of refugees reside with the hope of sharing the gospel.  She enjoys writing as a penpal to nursing-home "shut-ins" who have had limited contact with friends and family due to COVID-19 restrictions with the Houston West Seventh-day Adventist ChurchThank you Maureen for being so active and a great example of an active Christian steward.
Here Today, Here to Stay!

“Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, and “Cyber Monday” are all invitations for Americans to open their pockets and “support their favorite business”, which is to say, spend, spend, spend!  Discounts and reduced prices are strategically announced on the TV, internet, print and radio.  No effort is left untried to entice more “consumers” into stores and “shop till you drop” in preparation for Christmas.   It works!!   All that marketing gets people into stores and those sales help companies end the year “in the black” with gains rather than a loss.  In response, non-profit organizations in the year 2012 also came up with “Giving Tuesday” to remind the public that supporting a charity is also a way to give this season. 
Coaches Needed! 

This month many who are in the Adventurer Club (along with many Pathfinders and Master Guides) are preparing for Bible Bowl and have been committing to memory a portion of the books of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter.  If possible, take time to encourage your local club participants or volunteer with the club director as a coach or question master.  They will appreciate it so much!
December 2020
Below is a list of awareness events taking place this month.  Some may encourage to visit a health professional for a procedure or check-up, others may encourage you to have the home inspected or have something installed, and still others may encourage to send a card or express gratitude to a friend or loved one.  We hope this may serve as a friendly reminder, a gentle nudge, and a source of inspiration for ministry opportunities as plans are made this month.  Happy December!   

Texas Conference Offering Schedule
December
  • 5: Local Church Budget
  • 12: Adventist Community Services
  • 19:  Local Church Budget
  • 26:  Texas Vision

North American Division Calendar 
December
  • 5: Bible Sabbath
  • 12: Prison Ministry Sabbath
Professional/ Relationships
  • Hanukkah: 10-18
Home/ Homestead
  • Giving Tuesday: 1
  • Christmas: 25
Health
  • World AIDS Day: 1
  • National Handwashing Awareness Week: 6-12
  • Drunk Driving Awareness Month
May our good God inspire and guide us as we consider ways to serve Him!
Life is uncertain for anyone. Don't wait till the last minute to have things in order. Protect your property and your family. Get started on your Last Will and Testament today. We can help!
Click here to reply
Important Documents to Have...

Perhaps this is a good time to have your important documents in order...

  • Have you moved to Texas and need to create new documents?
  • Do you need to name a legal guardian for your minor children on your Will?
  • Are your children grown and financially independent and you would like to change the distribution of your estate?
  • Do you need to add or remove beneficiaries on your Will?
  • Would you like to include a gift to the Lord's Work in your Will?
If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, then it may be time to review and update your Will.

Contact the Texas Conference Trust Department to update your documents at 817-790-2255 ext. 2105 or reply to this email.

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