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Steward of the Mysteries of God: When Your Neighbors Are In Doubt, Help Them Zoom Out
By Uzziel Maldonado
 
 “
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1,2 NKJV

 
Vera Lytovchenko,  a Ukrainian woman, called by some the “Cellar Violinist” plays her violin from her apartment basement in Kharkiv, Ukraine.  A musician by trade, Lytovchenko, sought shelter in the closest bunker when the bombing began.  Even though she, like her neighbors, was caught in the cross-fire, Lytovchenko decided to share her gifts and put on a nightly concert.  Some of those attending pulled out their mobile phones and began live streaming to share with their close friends and family.  Her virtual audience grew nightly as she continued to soothe with her music.  When ABC News shared a story about Lytovchenko the news anchor said, “thousands around the world now tune in to hear her bunker recitals offering a bit of a balm for the broken-hearted.”  Lytovchenko says, my videos help [my audience] to not be so alone, to feel more strength, to be able to distract for several minutes and not just think about war, to think about something better."  Watch her story here.  As terrible as this war may be, however, suffering, injustice, trials, and difficulty abound around the world. 
 
As I read my news, besides the war in Ukraine and polarization due to the slap at the Oscars, I also find a frustrated American consumer.  Some are frustrated due to the interest rate hikes;  some feel the pressure at the pump, supermarket, and home improvement store; couple all of this with a struggling stock market and 401(k)s that are tanking, and it is easy to understand why people are searching for relief.  This is when we turn to experts to give a reason for the trouble and truth to soothe the restless heart.

Financial gurus and economists alike try to provide this "balm" by inviting their audience to “zoom out” to gain perspective.  For example, Robert Kiyosaki, a seasoned financial guru, will take you to 1972 when President Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard and how the Federal Reserve is negatively impacting America.  Kiyosaki has been forecasting a financial crisis due to inflation and encourages to invest in "God's money," which is to say precious metals, as a hedge against inflation.  For Kiyosaki proper preparation through reallocation of assets is the balm.   Dave Ramsey, a Christian financial guru,  will invite his audience to look at the stock market’s life.  Ramsey will share the crash but encourage you to look at how the tendency is for American businesses to find a way to survive and the market as a whole will eventually thrive.  Ramsey recommends mutual funds.   Though not foolproof, Ramsey thinks they are a solid way of keeping ahead of inflation.  For Ramsey patience, "lots of cash," and hope for a better time to come are the balm.  Other economists invite their audience to a more critical zoom out of what caused the market to crash and the subsequent Great Depression of 1929.  They will point to excess speculation, risk, and inflation and also warn of a financial crisis to come.  They will encourage investors to consider "alternatives" such as fine art as a hedge for inflation.   Still, other economists who are commenting on the war between Ukraine and Russia will invite you to zoom out to understand the significance of Ukraine in the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s part in selling uranium ore to nuclear power plants around the world.  Zooming out helps the viewer gain perspective and a more balanced understanding of the matter and insights that provide a balm of truth to soothe. 

Prophecy is God's way of helping His people "zoom-out", understand things to come, and grow in faith and trust, and soothe.  One learns that God himself holds time in His hands.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8).  Do you remember when the King of Kings helped Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon,  zoom out by giving him a mysterious dream?  Nebuchadnezzar was so anxious that his sleep was lost and then frustrated that his experts were stumped by his request.  Daniel knew God had a solution for Nebuchadnezzar's dilemma “the secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: 29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. 30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.  Daniel 2:27-30.  Explaining prophecy to the troubled king soothed his restlessness and was part of his eventual conversion.  


Don't underestimate the power of sharing prophecy and God's Word with others!  Like the American spiritual and hymn reminds in song, Christ is the Balm of Gilead that soothes the sin-sick soul.  Prophecy, when done right, is a Revelation of Jesus Christ himself.  After the disappointment of October 22, William Miller wrote: "Although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged. . . . I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light,--and that is Today, TODAY, and TODAY, until He comes, and I see Him for whom my soul yearns."--The Midnight Cry, Dec. 5, 1844, pp. 179, 180.  He had been disappointed but he had Christ and Christ was enough.  To listen to William Miller's words in song click here.
  
Dear newsletter recipient,

I’m sure you’ve been wondering, as have we, what has happened with The StewPot publication that we were receiving on a monthly basis.  The StewPot is a publication of the Pacific Union Conference and was overseen by Elder Bernard Castillo.  Yesterday I was finally able to find out why we haven’t been receiving the publication at all this year.  Apparently, Elder Castillo accepted a call to pastor a church sometime last year.  Up until the end of 2021, he was also continuing his responsibilities at the Pacific Union Conference.  As of this time, they have not found a replacement for him.  We are uncertain as to when, or even if, the publication will be continued once a replacement is in place.  I’m sorry that we will not have this resource, at least for the time being.  We will, however, be continuing to send you our new quarterly Stewardship publication, The Smart Steward. 

Sincerely,

Lynette Ecord 
The Smart Steward is our new quarterly publication produced by your Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Stewardship Department and is emailed to pastors, treasurers, and stewardship directors. Find this quarter's publication along with our archived publications on our website here.  
Three Types of Charitable Contributions and How to Identify Them

Charitable contributions to a charity or non-profit organization are either unrestricted, temporarily restricted, permanently restricted. 
  1. 1.Unrestricted Funds:  Donations the nonprofit organization may use for any purpose. Unrestricted funds usually go toward the operating expenses of the organization or to a particular project that the nonprofit picks.
  2. 2.Temporarily Restricted Fund:  The donation can be used for a particular purpose for a specific period, or it must support a specific program or campaign.  When the time is up, or the project is done, the funds become unrestricted or stopped.  Examples include a grant, the graduation of a scholarship recipient, or the completion of a building project.
  3. 3.Permanently Restricted Funds:  Permanently restricted funds never expire.  Usually, this means that the charity invests the gift and then uses the interest and investment returns in perpetuity.  Permanently restricted funds often go into an endowment fund that supports a particular activity or the organization in general.  Examples include a worthy-student endowment fund.  
The proceeds from the DETERMINED Cycling Tour will help to create a $1.5 million endowment for Adventist Education in the Texas Conference.  We want to provide Adventist Education for all students who desire to attend but may not be able to afford it. 

For more information click here.  To help support our very own North Texas Trust Officer, Uzziel Maldonado click here or Text TexasRide109 to 71777.
Counsels on Stewardship
by Ellen G. White
 
Their best friend is Jesus. He did not withhold His own life from them, but for their sakes became poor, that through His poverty they might be made rich. He deserves the whole heart, the property, all that they have and are. But many professed Christians put off the claims of Jesus in life, and insult Him by giving Him a mere pittance at death. CS 326.3

To continue reading this chapter click here.
Gift Options

Every month we include a different estate planning option to advance the Lord's work.  This month we are discussing gifts of appreciated stock.  
Why Is Donating Shares of Stock To The Church A Good Idea?
by Lynette Ecord
 
The simple answer is because you can give more by donating the stock than by selling the stock and making a cash donation.  Why is that?  When you donate stock that you have owned more than a year to charity, there’s no capital gains tax.  If you sell the stock, you must pay a 20% capital gains tax.  By donating the stock to charity instead, you increase your gift by 20%!  By the way, you can also donate mutual funds or bonds.  This is one of the most tax-smart ways to give, because it saves you money and increases the gift to the charity. 
 
If you have stocks that you would like to donate to the Texas Conference to help build a bathhouse, open-air pavilion, summer camp cabins, or any of the other needs at Lake Whitney Ranch; or if you would like to support the ministries of Evangelism, Community Services, Disaster Relief, Christian Education, a local church or school project, or any of the other areas of ministry within our Conference, contact your investment advisor and let them know what you’d like to do. Then have your advisor contact us and we’ll be happy to work with them to facilitate your gift.  (See the Giving Menu on our webpage to see current needs and projects within the Conference). 
Stewardship Heroes
 
Stewardship is a total lifestyle."  It involves our temple, time, talents, truth, testimony, and treasure.  Below you will find two stories from within Texas of Adventists doing their best to be faithful stewards.
Testators Maria & Peter Weber
North Texas Stewards:  Maria & Peter Weber
 
Peter Weber 's parents were originally from Germany.  After their marriage, his father accepted to serve as steward/ manager of the prime minister of Peru.  It was in Lima, Peru where Peter and his two siblings were born.  Peter and his siblings attended the most expensive and elite schools in Peru.  Unfortunately, Peter’s parents divorced.  After the divorce, Peter, his siblings, and his mother who had previously known opulence would now learn about abject poverty.  In her distress, Peter’s mother, originally a Lutheran, looked for help and truth at the local churches.  Eventually, they would all attend a three-month-long evangelistic series that would lead to their baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

 
Those who were baptized were then invited to start a church plant.  Peter says, “our first Sabbath, eight of us attended the church plant but the church grew.”  In that church is where Peter would meet Maria, his loving wife.  That same evangelist would once again be sent to Peter at a “fork" in his life.   Peter says, “after finishing high school at the age of seventeen, I was ready for the next adventure.  I had wanted to be a priest as a child but that changed in high school.  At that point, I wanted to study chemistry.  I had already signed a contract to be a tuna fisherman and travel the world on a large commercial boat.  The night before I embarked on my year-long adventure,  the evangelist who baptized me came to visit our home.  God's timing is amazing!  I told him of what awaited me the next day.  Instead, he invited me to go with him to an Adventist University.  He promised that I could work my way through school.  Not having a suitcase I packed all of my earthly possessions into a cardboard box.  I had two chemistry books, two physics books, one change of clothes, and some undergarments.”  God had not given up on having him be a fisher of men.  On campus he was willing to do any work.  On Sundays, Peter would work going door-to-door selling fresh whole-wheat bread.  During the weekdays he was assigned to be one of the school's painters.  He would flip his garments inside out to paint and then reverse them before going to classes.  Every summer he served as a literature evangelist going door-to-door now sharing the Bread of Life.  Peter continues, “it was here where I saw a life transformed before my very eyes.  A drunk man, who accepted Bible studies and would attend inebriated would grow to attend church sober.  Soon he and his entire family were at church on Sabbath serving.  I saw God's power at work and He impressed my heart to give my entire life in service."  Their graduating class motto was “consumed in service.”     

In their fifty years of ministry, he and Maria by his side, Peter served as publishing and literature evangelism director in several missions in Peru and in the Texico Conference;  ADRA Peru, associate director;  pastor in several districts and missions in Peru, California, New Mexico, and Texas.  In the Texas Conference alone they served in Grand Prairie, Edinburg, and McKinney for a total of twenty-five (25) years.  Peter says,  “I have been blessed to serve in multicultural settings.  God created diversity.  Consider the fish, flowers, birds, and other creatures.  Imagine if they were just one type of color or scent.  Variety makes it more beautiful, richer, and valuable.”  When asked about his life he said, “the best things in my life have been to become an Adventist, to attend an Adventist School, and to marry Maria, an Adventist.”  Thank you Maria and Peter Weber for being a steward of the Lord and for your life of service. 
James Harris volunteering at Lake Whitney Ranch
North Texas Steward:  James Harris

James Harris was born and raised in the Waco, Texas area.  He grew up "in the country" at the family ranch and from a young age developed a strong love for horses and country living.  While he was young he and his two sisters would attend his great grandmother's Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Her spiritual influence on his life was strong and he would be baptized into the church at the age of twelve.  His parents were Baptist and his father loved football which eventually rubbed off on James as well.  In high school, he was a talented football player and was given an athletic scholarship to attend Texas Christian University.  His sisters attended Southwestern Adventist University.  In college, James was also a good player and was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders.  But James took a step back before he accepted this offer.  He reasoned that because he was drafted in a lower round perhaps his NFL career would be short, with potential injuries, and/or spiritually unhealthy.  James said,  "I decided to stop right there and thank the Lord for my injury-free football career and for the opportunities it provided.  I would not pursue the NFL."  Instead, James worked for six years in the oil business. 

  
When the oil business slowed down James was invited by his high school mentor to work as a high school football coach.  So he returned to school to get his teaching certification and worked as a teacher for twenty-nine years.  His principal and football staff respected his request to not work Friday evenings for his convictions regarding Sabbath.  Eventually, the tide turned and some of the football coaches held it against him and complained that the workload was not fair.  His next stop was to work at an elementary school without having any coaching duties.  "I knew football got between me and God, so I stopped football." James retired from full-time teaching in 2013.  James thanks God that he was spared the physical injuries as a player and the subsequent injuries that many NFL athletes end up having after their careers.  "Football is rough and leaves some injuries afterward.  I was fortunate enough not to get tied up in that."       

James continues to ride horses and raise cattle which helps keep him active and fit.  He works part-time for the Crowley ISD teaching outdoor industry and agriculture classes (organic gardening, healthy diet, farming, etc) and tutoring for an after-school program for suburban students.  He is also a parade marshall for the country's premier stock show, the Fort Worth Stock Show.  He volunteers as a wrangler at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Texas as well as a wrangler at Lake Whitney Ranch in Clifton, Texas.  He attends the Grace Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and serves as the associate head deacon.  "As deacons, we are the keeper of the house. We help make sure everyone is comfortable and safe.  We get our hands dirty and make sure things get done."  When asked why he serves so much James shared "I believe my gift is the gift of helping people."  He continued, "God takes care of me.  Whatever I need, He provides me with.  He even helps my old truck keep going."  When asked why he volunteers at Lake Whitney Ranch if he is a member of the Southwest Regional Conference he said, "we are part of the same family.  So whenever they need help we get together and help each other out.  I am glad to do it."   

James is married,  is a proud father of one daughter, and has two wonderful grandchildren.  James' favorite scripture is Psalms 121 and his favorite hymn is Amazing Grace.  Thank you James for being a faithful steward and a great role model.
April 2022

Texas Conference April Offering Schedule 
  • 2:  Local Church Budget
  • 9:  Hope Channel
  • 16: Southwestern Union Conference Education
  • 23: Texas Vision:  This offering is divided evenly between the following Texas Conference Projects: academies, Lake Whitney Ranch.
  • 30:  Local Church Budget
April Dad Jokes
by Chantelle Grace


What does a shark like to eat with peanut butter?  A jellyfish.

What happened to the dog that swallowed a firefly?  It barked with de-light.

What kind of key opens a banana?  A monkey.

Why don't dogs make good dancers?  Because they have two left feet. 

Who's the penguin's favorite Aunt?  Aunt-Arctica.

What did the farmer call the cow that had no milk?  An udder failure.

What do cats eat for breakfast?  Mice Crispies.
Additional Online Resources
 
Texas Conference Website Stewardship Section: click here
  • 2022 Sunset and Sabbath Offering Schedule: click here
  • 2022 Sabbath Offertory Reading:  click for English  Spanish
Texas Conference Stewardship & Planned Giving Website:  click here
Southwestern Union Stewardship Department:  click here
North American Division Stewardship:  click here
General Conference Stewardship Department:  click here
Life is uncertain. 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!
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Important Documents to Have...

Is it time to update your documents?

  • 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.
Email Lynette: Trust Services Director & Association Secretary and Stewardship Coordinator
Email Sofia: Administrative Assistant
Email Claudia: Administrative Assistant
Email Deyvy: South & Central Texas Field Representative and Area Stewardship Coordinator
Email Marshall: East & Greater Houston Field Representative and Area Stewardship Coordinator
Email Uzziel: North Texas Field Representative and Area Stewardship Coordinator
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