Understanding Donation Receipts

 By Janet Marcel

‘Tis the season of hustle and bustle for non-profits – the community events, donations to needy families, winter clothing drives, special holiday services – it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!  And after the new year, when the rest of us relax into our warm winter hibernations; non-profits are still experiencing the chaos, this time it’s the hectic domination of paperwork.  “Donation receipts” is just one thing on that list.  Because of the complex rules involved, it’s worth taking some time to make sure you get it right.

In order for a family (or company) to claim a tax-deduction for a donated gift, there are very confusing rules the IRS has imposed.  To help make sense of it all, there are a few IRS publications that are worth reading if you are in charge of issuing donation receipts; in addition to a website that guides you through the process with useful videos and articles at www.stayexempt.irs.gov.  All churches are subject to these IRS rules regardless of their tax-exempt status because all churches are automatically qualified organizations for the purpose of accepting donations even if they’re not a 501(c)3 charity. 

Most people don’t need a donation receipt for tax purposes.  Only companies, or people who itemize their deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) can take a deduction for their charitable contribution.  However, it is a very good practice to send receipts to every giver each January for two reasons.  First, so your ministry is on the forefront of your donor’s mind.  Some donors aren’t members but occasionally send a donation or sponsor an event.  In that case when they get a donation receipt, it immediately peaks their interest to visit the website or to donate again.  Second, people donate to ministries and organizations that seem organized and healthy.  If a donor feels confident that every year he or she will receive a receipt early and doesn’t have to remind someone or call a million times, or substantiate the receipt with check numbers or amounts; they are more apt to donate again and pass the word along to more affluent donors. 

So, the IRS now says that for any donation amount, a taxpayer must support the deduction with something like a bank statement, a cancelled check, credit card statement or a receipt from the organization.  But if a single donation is $250 or more, they must obtain an acknowledgement from the charity to claim the deduction (a bank statement is not enough).  Now, both of these obligations are the donor’s responsibility to obtain, not the organization’s to provide.  So, don’t let anyone scare you into thinking it’s a law to send receipts or you will go to jail.  The only thing that is a requirement for a charity to provide involves a different type of donation.

Contributions are only deductible to the extent they are gifts and nothing is received in return.  A donation made by a donor in exchange for goods or services is known as a “quid pro quo” contribution, and only the amount that exceeds the fair market value is deductible.  (“Quid pro quo” is Latin, and it means “this for that”.)  So, if a charity issues a concert ticket with a fair market value of $40 in exchange for a $100 donation, that $100 is not fully tax-deductible because the donor received something in return.  The IRS says that charities are required to provide a written disclosure when they accept a quid pro quo donation larger than $75. 

The IRS doesn’t provide any template or form for these receipts, so you can use your own creativity if you are in charge of issuing them.  However, it is best practice to have consistency from year to year to help establish the organization’s brand.  You can issue a postcard, a form, a sales receipt, a letter, an email, a certificate; any format you’d like, provided

it has the following.
The name of organization (tax id number or social security number is NOT required)
The amount of cash contribution
Statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization in return for the contribution (if that was the case)
Description of non-cash donations (but not the value)
Quid pro quo donations need to have an estimated value of the goods or services provided in return for the contribution

Many people enjoy giving their time and money for charitable causes especially this time of year.  Instead of looking at donation receipts as just another “task”, use it to express a heart-felt “thanks!” to your fellow supporters.   

Janet Marcel is the director of Paper Trail of Western New York and has been assisting non-profits for over 15 years.  For more information about professionally-crafted donation receipts, visit her website at www.wnypapertrail.com.

5 Questions with Pastor Jim Ruddy

Pastor Jim Ruddy
Senior/Executive Pastor
The Tabernacle
Orchard Park, NY

1) Tell me about your decision to move to Buffalo to pastor The Tabernacle. Was it something you struggled with or no? 

Our decision to move to Buffalo wasn’t arrived at quickly; in fact it was several years in the making.  I came into relationship with Pastor Tommy Reid and The Tabernacle about 10 years ago at a time when the Holy Spirit was enlarging my understanding of the Kingdom.  Pastor Reid extended an invitation to come to Buffalo and spend some time with him in the Scriptures. That initial visit brought about a deep heart-connection and an eventual invitation to serve on The Tab’s Apostolic Oversight Council, part of the Church’s accountability structure. For a number of years I walked with Pastor Reid as he prayerfully considered how the Lord would have him transition the leadership of the Church. At one point I had to wrestle with the question if God was calling me to be his successor ; a question that was not easily answered, especially in light of the fact that my wife Mari-Lee was sensing the Lord’s leading to Buffalo. After a long season of prayer we both agreed that while God had something for us in Western NY, I was not the man to receive the baton from Pastor Reid. It’s hard to express how delighted I was when Pastor Reid selected Dr. Robert Stearns as his successor. First, because I’m convinced that God has uniquely graced him with the capacity for such a role, and secondly, because I thought I was off the hook (Smile). Now, these many years later, Mari-Lee and I are amazed at the way the Lord has brought about the perfect scenario for us to find our rightful place at The Tab.

 2) You talk about being the number 2 man at The Tabernacle now, under Bishop Robert Stearns. Is that an easy adjustment for you coming from a Senior Pastor role in PA?

Actually, the thought of being part of an Apostolic Team is one of the themes the Lord used to capture my attention – sort of like a burning bush – causing me to turn my heart toward what He was doing at The Tab.  Again, because I’m fully persuaded that God has appointed Dr. Stearns as Bishop and Senior Leader of The Tab, I can gladly fill my role as the Five-Fold Pastor, giving my attention to the day-to-day life and ministry of the Church.  Recently Pastor Darius Pridgeon ministered at The Tab, and after seeing how I sort of filled in the gaps, he pulled me aside, smiled and said, “Every church needs one of you.” I liked that. 

3) Can you talk to me about the transition process with Bishop Emeritus Tommy Reid. As someone who has pastored The Tab for more than 50 years, what is his role now at The Tab? 

We can only imagine how challenging it would be for any of us to entrust our legacy to another, especially if we’ve invested more than half-a-century in building it. I’m glad to say that this transition wasn’t handled haphazardly but there was a tremendous amount of dialog regarding the various roles each of the team members would fulfill.  Although Bishop Reid has released the oversight of the Church, he is still fully recognized as the spiritual father of the House and we are thrilled that he has his rightful place of honor at The Tab. Along with this he has resumed a most aggressive travel schedule ministering outside the Church on a regular basis; something that has always been an important part of his calling.

4) What is your vision for The Tab, say 5 years from now? 
Well now you’re touching on a challenging topic. The last time I asked God to give me a well-articulated vision of what He was doing with the Church, He took me to Revelation, Chapter 1 and told me, “Your vision will not be of the candlestick, but of the One who walks among the candlesticks!” I’m sure you’d agree that one thing that has hurt the work of God has been when a new leader arrives in an established Church and tries to force their vision to bear upon the congregation.  I believe the vision is resident in the House, and for The Tab that means being what we’ve always been – a House of His Presence focused on
intimately knowing Jesus and passionately making Him known throughout the region, the Nation, and the World. Bishop Stearns and I, along with Pastor Aimee Reid and the rest of the team, are committed to seeing this vision comes to full fruition.

5) Coming from the outside in, what is your perception of the opportunity for the Gospel in Buffalo? Is it ripe for harvest so to speak or hard ground? 
First off, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the cooperation that exists between the pastors and churches throughout the region. I’d only been in Buffalo for a few  days when I was invited to sit with a group of dynamic leaders from across denominational lines who are committed to winning this City. While some may choose to go it alone, it’s clear that there is a Spirit-led coming together of Kingdom-minded leaders who are seeking God for His strategy to reach Buffalo. In the same way that God met Joshua and shared his plan to take Jericho, I believe He will answer those of us who are willing to lay down our egos and logos in order to see the Gospel bring renewal and restoration to this region. For me, I’m glad to be just one more voice that is getting ready to shout, “God has given us the City!”

Perspectives Starts January 20

-A different LIVE instructor every week from diverse ministry & cultural backgrounds- pastors, professors, bible-translators, missionaries, businessmen, church-planters.
-Every class is an interactive learning experience- including dynamic prayer, diverse worship, creative demonstrations, cultural experiences and group discussions.
-Anyone can take the class for a certificate but Undergraduate and Graduate level credit also available.
-This class is life changing and you won't be disappointed. Be one of the 130,000 people  world-wide that have taken the course so far.

WHAT is Perspectives?

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is a catalytic course designed to equip the people of God to partner with Him in His mission to reach all peoples, tongues, tribes, and nations. It presents the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic aspects of fulfilling the Great Commission. We encourage anyone who is serious about gaining a deeper understanding of God’s ultimate purpose in the world to attend this course.

Perspectives seeks to reveal the nature of God's heart to be worshipped by all nations, and that we are called to be a part of HIS purpose regardless of whether we feel called to serve overseas, at home or in our own work place. It's about a deeper understanding of who God is, what He's about, and how we are ALL called to be a part of it. Throughout the 15 weeks, students will learn about God’s nature, His purpose, and how He uses ordinary people like us to bring the glory to His name.

Giving Tuesday is December 3

After the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and more fad away you have an opportunity to give back this holiday season through Giving Tuesday a relatively new movement to put giving back in the Christmas season. We all know Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now we have Giving Tuesday, an opportunity for you to support your favorite charity. Read more about the movement here.

Unite is division of Prayer Collective, Inc, a non-profit ministry of Prayer and Missions. To make a donation visit www.prayercollective.com

800 Show Support for Israel at The Tabernacle

photo provided by Eagles' Wings
By Joel James

“The support for Israel is just overwhelming!” said Jewish community member Linda Steinhorn, as approximately 800 people, Jews and Christians, gathered at the Tabernacle in Orchard Park, New York, for “Buffalo Celebrates Israel!” coordinated by Eagles’ Wings. Christians from more than 25 church congregations attended this fourth annual gathering in Buffalo, which raised over $11,000 to feed those living in poverty in Israel.

The event is becoming an historic partnership between Jews and Christians in support of Israel. “Today we must recognize that there is more that unites our two communities than that which divides us," passionately 
declared Eagles’ Wings Executive Director and Bishop of the Tabernacle, Dr. Robert Stearns.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, for what you do for Israel, and what you are doing for Jews around the world,” said Mr. Michael Wise, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo.

The event featured Congressman Chris Collins, (R-NY-27), along with pastors of leading congregations and leaders of the Buffalo Jewish community. Representing Israel was Consul for Public Diplomacy, Mr. Gil Lainer, and a Druze Community leader from Isifiya on Mount Carmel, Mrs. Magda Mansour. “As a minority [Druze] living in Israel, I have received respect, honor and dignity from the State of Israel,” said Mrs. Mansour, pointing out the rights and freedoms she enjoys as an ethnic, cultural and religious minority in Israel.

On many people’s minds was the international agreement reached earlier in the day regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Dr. Robert Stearns said, “It cannot be a (spiritual) coincidence that this agreement with Iran was signed on this very day as we gather here to voice our support for Israel. “

“Israel wants a diplomatic solution….but it must include the dismantling of Iran’s centrifuges and goals to obtain enriched uranium,” said Consul Gil Lainer. Congressman Collins emphasized the unity within both houses of Congress and both major parties to increase sanctions on Iran, “Now is the time to double down on sanctions to put an end to their [Iran] nuclear power once and forever.”  

Referencing the upcoming celebration of Hanukah, Rabbi Perry Netter of Temple Beth Tzedek said “throughout history, when it would seem that the light of the Jewish people should have gone out, time and again the oil has been refilled and the light is still burning.  After the holocaust, when a third of our people were murdered and burned, Israel has refilled the oil and now brings its light to the world.” Stearns added, “May we (Jews and Christians) keep oil in our lamps to burn brightly in a dark world.” 

Buffalo Celebrates Israel! is a Christian expression of love and support for Israel and the Jewish people and is one of many similar Celebrate Israel! events coordinated by Eagles’ Wings in cities across the U.S. Eagles’ Wings efforts also include the global “Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem”; The Israel Experience College Scholarship; and the Watchmen on the Wall training and pilgrimage programs. 

8 Questions with Robert Stearns

By Kyle Patterson

Congratulations on your new role as Bishop of The Tabernacle. As if you didn't have enough to do already right as Executive Director of Eagles' Wings? (kiddingly)
Hey thanks! I do have twin six year old boys (in addition to my ten year old), so I am accustomed to loving and caring for different people equally and individually, simultaneously!

Did you ever expect to be leading a local congregation when God has given you a worldwide ministry?
To be honest, the Tabernacle is not a typical local congregation. Under Bishop Tommy Reid’s amazing 52 years of leadership, we have planted well over a dozen churches and social service ministries throughout WNY. We have established a missions base and orphanage in Honduras, where I have ministered about 8 times. We have a missions base we have planted in the Phillipines, which now oversees Filipino churches literally around the world. Benny Hinn began his ministry at The Tabernacle, as did Marilyn Hickey. Pastor Aimee Reid-Sych has a major global television program, and leads worship and preaches at churches and conferences everywhere. So, the DNA of The Tabernacle is to have a vital connection to the bigger picture of what God is doing regionally and globally.  That’s why this really is a God thing and a great fit.

What are you believing God to do in this next season and this new position?
I absolutely believe this is the hardest season the Christian church in America has ever been in, as well as the most opportunity filled moment we have ever had. If the Church is to truly survive in this nation, we need to begin asking some deep questions about what it means to be a believer, how we relate to one another, how we relate to people different than us, and how we serve others with respect and dignity. I don’t believe that superficial affiliations and services will keep people “in church” anymore. We have to go deep about what it means to have a commitment to Christ and to one another.

Is Eagles' Wings a part of the Tabernacle now or vise versa, or will you manage the two separately?
Well, Eagles Wings started at the Tabernacle, with our first East Coast Conference there in 1994. That really is what gave Eagles Wings our national launch. And, over the years, we have cooperated on many things such as the missions to Honduras, regional conferences, CovNet (our Leadership Network), just to name a few. So, I believe this will continue and probably increase to some degree. But one piece of advice I received when I became the father of twins was to always make sure Daniel and Michael were both affirmed in their individual identities, and not lumped together as “the twins.” So – I think that is great advice and will carry through on several levels!

So you have brought on Pastor Jim Ruddy to manage the day to day pastoring of the Tabernacle, which is a unique approach I haven't seen in a lot of churches. Can you comment on this?
Honestly, I would love to take credit for this brilliant move, but it really was just a God thing. It was so hard for several months because I knew the Lord was leading me into this position at The Tab, but also knew that something – someone – was missing. There needed to be that pastor and administrator for the day to day realities that a church of this size faces. In reality, those things are not my gifting. I am a big picture, vision, values, structure guy. I am not great with day by day items. I try – but it is not my area of strength, which is why I thank God for Steve and Veronica Jenks, Wendy Miller and the rest of the incredible administrative team God has given me at Eagles Wings. I would be totally lost without them. So – the Lord just “appeared” this incredible ministry couple, Jim and Mari-Lee Ruddy, onto the scene, and I was like “Hey! Are you the guy who is supposed to do this?” and he said “I think so!” It really was that quick – the whole thing was clear in about 3 conversations. Which I love – when God just arranges things, rather than reviewing 30 resumes and appointing a search committee! God is the best head hunter there is! The Ruddy’s are going to be an amazing blessing to all God is doing in WNY, and again, we are blessed to have them here!

Can you tell me about your relationship with Pastor Tommy Reid, what you learned from him and how you plan to carry on his legacy?
The absolute truth is that I don’t think Pastor Reid understands how much I watched him and modeled him, especially in the first ten years of my ministry. He mentored and discipled me just by his actions and presence. I would study every word, every action, every nuance of his, because there is such grace, such depth, and such authority that he walks in. I really don’t think WNY understands the gift that he is to this region. I am hoping in this new season of his ministry that many of the churches in this area can have the privilege of having him on a Sunday. When you are with Pastor Reid, he makes you feel as though you are absolutely the most special and important person in his world at that moment. And it is not an act. He genuinely values people and the story of grace their lives are telling. I need more of that in my life, and I am trying to still learn from him.

What do you sense God is saying to the church in Buffalo during this season?
Well, you’d have to be living under a rock to not sense that unity is what God is bringing us to! The Good Friday service was epic. The quality of leadership that is across the city – Roderick Hennings, Jerry Gillis, Darius Pridgen, Pat Jones, Marty MacDonald, Daniel Nieves, Al Warner – these are amazing leaders. I have always said that Buffalo is a very “winnable” city. It is compact and accessible enough that if we genuinely partner together, we can make a difference in a profound and lasting way in this city.

Can you talk about your work in Israel, what is happening, what do Christians need to be aware of during this hour?
The current instability in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the whole region is inconceivable. It is a boiling volcano and it makes me crazy that those of us in the West seem to not understand the ripple effect that this region has already and that it will have increasingly. Every single Christian needs to become educated and involved in this region in some way. Right now, we are focusing at Eagles Wings on praying and supporting our Christian Arab brothers and sisters who are going through serious persecution and martyrdom in that region. We have to wake up and rally around this issue. It is not going away, and it is going to impact us locally in a profound way.

Buffalo City Mission Cuts Ribbon For the KeyBank Skills4 Life Center

Stuart Harper, right, Executive Director of Buffalo City Mission and Marie Hare, left, VP of Philanthropy KeyBank
KeyBank understands that the most direct path out of poverty is education—and underscored their support this week with a $20,000 investment to launch the KeyBank Skills4Life Center.

Recently a New York City study found that half of all homeless parents have not earned their high school diploma; limiting them at best to low-wage, dead-end jobs.

With the most current economic downturn, those without a GED lost their jobs at double the rate of people with the degree, and more than ten times the rate of college graduates. With the unemployment rate continuing to rise, an education is crucial in obtaining and maintaining jobs.

The City Mission understands the need for education well. The Mission’s dream is to provide an opportunity for all clients to live in safe affordable permanent housing working towards a living wage job while walking in God’s light. The goal is that everyone who leaves the Mission is enrolled or has enough training to get a good job they can build a life on.

The Mission’s dream is predicated on the fact that certain pieces must be in place before individuals and families can overcome their homeless condition. This is where partners like KeyBank and ECC are critical.

“We thank KeyBank for their vision,” stated Stuart Harper, Executive Director of the Buffalo City Mission. “Their generous gift will give mission residents the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty.”

In related research, the State Department of Education identified that the GED programs that succeed are those that focus on the GED as a stepping-stone to gain acceptance into college. This lends much credence to the Mission’s present approach.

Last December, the Mission coordinated an innovative program to provide GED training and pre-collegiate studies to residents of the men’s community center and its women and children’s shelter, Cornerstone Manor. The “College For The Homeless” was launched in partnership with ECC, enlisting instructors to work with Mission residents with the goal of enrolling residents at ECC for a one-year certificate program or two-year degree that could ultimately lead to employment. Residents begin by taking GED classes, and then move into pre-collegiate studies. KeyBank has signed on as a major collaborator to this project.

This week, KeyBank announced that their funding would be directly channeled to this educational initiative, redesigning a classroom space with new computers and workstations at the men’s center. The KeyBankSkills4 Life Center will be open to all residents of both the men’s and women’s centers.

It is a great privilege for KeyBank to partner with the Buffalo City Mission in such a significant way”, said Marie E. Hare, Vice President of Philanthropy & Civic Affairs for KeyBank. “The KeyBank Skills4Life Center will be the ideal place for individuals whom the mission serves that is seeking further educational opportunities, GED, pre-collegiate studies, career readiness, workforce development and other skills necessary to obtain meaningful employment.”

About KeyBank Foundation

KeyBank Foundation, through its philanthropic investments, corporate contributions, and volunteerism supports organizations that foster economic self-sufficiency, principally where KeyBank operates.
As a corporate neighbor, KeyBank advances economic self-sufficiency through their funding priorities, which help communities and individuals prosper: Financial Education – Fostering effective financial management and understanding of financial services and tools; Workforce Development – Providing training and placement for people to access job opportunities and Diversity – Promoting inclusive environments by employing systemic changes to improve the access of individuals of diverse backgrounds

About The Buffalo City Mission
The Buffalo City Mission, founded in 1917, is a not-for-profit organization that provides preventative, emergency and long-term recovery services to thousands of people who are homeless or impoverished. The Mission includes: Women and Children’s Shelter (Cornerstone Manor); the Men’s Community Center; the Mission’s Vehicle Donation Program; and their Dick Road Thrift Store Location to better serve our community. For more information, please visit www.buffalocitymission.org or call 854-8181.

Gifts of the Magi

Family Life will present two dinner theater performances of the dramatic musical, Gifts of the Magi, November 21-23, at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Williamsville. Audiences will be treated to a comfortable and relaxed dinner theater atmosphere with delicious food and dessert served before the live theater show.

Drawn from two short stories by O’Henry, Gifts of the Magi is a charming musical about the prevailing power of selfless love, the kind of show warmed by sentiment and humor - perfect for the holiday season. The plot opens on Christmas in the city, but for Jim and Della, two newlyweds in love, the prospects are bleak, as both are out of work and penniless. To afford nice presents for each other, both secretly part with their most precious belongings to buy the perfect gift.

Della loves her hair as a prized possession. However, she desperately wants to buy a Christmas gift for her husband, Jim, but with only $1.87 to her name. To solve her problem, Della cuts her hair and sells her precious locks to buy a watch chain for Jim, a gift he would truly cherish for his heirloom pocket watch.

Jim is also in a bind while shopping for his wife’s Christmas gift. They're poor, so he can't afford to get Della what she deserves. After walking through the marketplace, he sells his pocket watch to buy her a beautiful comb. On Christmas morning, they are both shocked to learn of the ironic outcome.

In addition to Jim and Della’s story, there are glimpses of various city folk going about their holiday business, and the hilarious plight of a cheerful bum named Soapy, who wants only to get arrested so he can spend the night in a cozy cell. The tuneful songs are neatly tied together by a newsboy-narrator, Willy, who adds his own melodious contribution and informative observations to the delightful proceedings!

Tickets are $32.50 in advance and include a full course dinner and live theater show. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. nightly, with dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. To order tickets, call 800-927-9083 or visit www.fln.org/tickets. Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church is located at 8445 Greiner Road in Williamsville.

Darren Litz has been Director of Performing Arts at Family Life since 2002. A music educator for 16 years, Litz previously was the director of the Vocal and Music Theater Studies program at Bradford High School in Pennsylvania. Litz has produced, directed, and choreographed numerous productions for public schools and community organizations in the Bradford area. He also has served as guest conductor and clinician for music festivals across New York and Pennsylvania.


About Family Life Ministries, Inc.

Family Life Ministries is devoted to strengthening individuals and families through Christian radio broadcasting, concerts, educational and social programs, counseling, and the performing arts. Headquartered in Bath, N.Y., Family Life was founded in 1957, and provides various activities and programs for youth, singles, adults, and seniors.

Family Life owns a Christian radio network of 22 stations and 50 translators broadcasting in regions of New York and Pennsylvania. Established in 1983, the radio network is a listener-supported broadcaster currently reaching a potential listenership of 3.8 million.

For more information on Family Life, visit www.fln.org.

Quote of the Day

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-- especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:10


[pahrt-ner] noun

 A person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor

Will you consider partnering with Unite as a church, individual or business to spread the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ, strengthen the very Body of Christ and see Western New York touched by the Spirit of the Lord? We need your help to reach our city and nation for Jesus Christ. Please consider becoming a partner today. Every dollar counts and propels our mission forward of encouraging, strengthening and facilitating prayer and missions in and around Western New York.
Unite is a division of Prayer Collective, Inc. a non-profit ministry of worship, prayer and outreach. Make a donation today at www.prayercollective.com

Editor's Note: September 2013

Reaching Western New York for Christ will take all of us—every church, every denomination, every believer. I love what Revelation 7:9 says,

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

The beauty of heaven can be seen when believers work together to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. When we share the love of Jesus with our own families, neighbors, co-workers and communities right where God has planted us, we are  sowing seeds of the kingdom that our Lord will water, make grow and turn into something beautiful. That’s what Paul taught us in 1 Corinthians  3:6-7,

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Every one of us doing our part to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ, makes a community ready to flourish with the kingdom of God. Thanks for doing your part.

Kyle R. Patterson

10 Reasons to Eat Right and Exercise

BY Robbie raugh, rn

1) Taking care of ourselves honors God.   Your body is his temple and our “earth suit”.  We have a responsibility to take care of it.  It is also difficult to be a light to others when you are sick and tired.  You want to be able to not just make it through the day but to make a difference in the life of those around you!  It’s also dishonorable to be consumed by anything other than God.

2) It leaves a legacy of health for your children and grandchildren.  Your health and lifestyle habits will affect your child’s health directly and indirectly.  Good health means free of disease.  And we can prevent most major diseases by taking care of ourselves.

3) You have fun and do something healthy and social with friends.  Everyone wants to know about healthy eating and exercise!  And you tend to pick up the same habits of the people you hang out with.   So to surround yourself with people who care to live and be healthy – start exercising - and you can have fun together!

4) To have a positive self-image and confidence.  When you feel good you look good and visa versa! It’s a fact that people who work out and eat right have a higher level of self-confidence, they are more comfortable with their bodies, they feel great, they look great, they reach their goals, they get things done.

5) To increase your energy (energy produces energy)! You need energy to go out and help others!  And if you are too tired to work out, it’s usually because you are eating poorly or you have not exercised!

6)  To feel great, look great.  Who doesn’t want that?   It’s an added bonus to taking care of your health!

7) To cut the cravings!   You eat what you crave and you crave what you eat, it’s as simple as that.  It’s not rocket science but there is a science to it!

8)  To be a good role model for your kids (kids do what you do, not what you say).  If you are eating donuts, they will eat donuts.  If you are cutting up vegetables for your lunch, they will want them in their lunch.   It’s that simple.  And by the way, children want to be proud of their parents and the habits their parents have.

9)  To reduce stress.   We all have stress – but we need to learn how to manage it through prayer, exercise, mind body activities etc..   Prolonged stress leads to diseases as it decreases your immune system.   It’s not if the storms will come but rather when the storms will come.   Be prepared and bath yourself in God’s word so you have an armor of protection and are grounded.

10) To prevent disease.  You will spend the time and the money either way. You will either spend the time and the money preventing disease by eating better and exercising or you will spend the time and the money treating disease.

There are way more reasons than these to exercise and eat right – but hopefully these will motivate you to get started eating right and excercising!

Don’t forget to check out my summer detox and fall 12 week Healthy Eating Program.  Info on my web site at www.robbieraugh.com

Robbie Raugh, RN is a Board Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Practioner. Don't forget to tune in to the RAW TRUTH Health and Fitness Every Saturday at 11am on 99.5FM WDCX.  Also sign up for her free newsletter at www.robbieraugh.com and check out my new Exercise DVD’s!

In All Thy Getting, Get Wisdom

By Ed Turose

If we needed anything in this season, it is wisdom! In fact the Apostle Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 1 is for God to grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation so the eyes of our heart will be opened for us to understand the hope of why He has called you to be a son in His Kingdom cause.

Ephesians 1:17-19 says, “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength.” (AMP)

In these days of recession and uncertainty, we can release our faith for Isaiah 33:6 that declares, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (KJV)

In fact wisdom can build your life, your home, your family and your business! Proverbs 24:3-5 says, “Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], And by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (AMP) A wise man is strong and is better than a strong man, and a man of knowledge increases and strengthens his power.

Just recently, I was going to my largest customer and as I was praying I heard the Lord tell me that they are looking for solutions. I sell juice products and their category was declining and they did not have any solutions. I asked the Lord how I needed to lay out the presentation to them and what I heard was Godly wisdom. I put on the left side of the presentation the issues they were dealing with and on the right side I put in my solutions or recommendations.

I met with two other individuals that I manage with this customer and shared with them the way we needed to set this presentation up and that we needed to address their issues with solutions that would help stimulate and grow their juice category. The solutions we came up with were a win/win for both companies. But they had to give us concessions on the cost to run our products within their weekly ad and take those funds and put them into a lower everyday retail cost on two of our orange juice brands.

In essence, we would reduce the everyday retail cost to you the consumer and sell more orange juice. They reduced their charge to me in running an ad in the weekly flyer by 58% and we took those hundreds of thousands of dollars and reduced the retail of the orange juice brands and it has helped grow their category.Rarely in my business will a customer concede these types of dollars since these dollars we spend on getting our products featured in their weekly circular are a profit center for them as they run weekly ads and charge us for each ad.  In fact, these solutions were so dramatic that the results were touted within my company all the way up to the Vice President of my division! I got the solutions from Godly wisdom and then received favor from upper management in my company. 

So how do we get this wisdom? We spend time in God’s presence. Proverbs 4:5-13 says, “Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth. Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)!”

James 1:5-6 tells us, “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). (AMP)”

Every day when I get up I cry out for wisdom and confess the seven fold Spirit of Christ on me from Isaiah 11.2-3: “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD. (KJV)

I challenge you to start crying out for wisdom on a daily basis. I need wisdom for innovations, new concepts, how to execute my plans and to find the right solutions to have influence in my world. If you don’t ask, you will not receive. Begin today to ask God for His wisdom and you will see greater results in your life! Check out more information at www.focuscoach4u.com.

 Ed Turose has over 30 plus years of business experience as a people manager trainer, and strategic planner for two Fortune 500 Companies, Uni-Lever and the Coca-Cola Company. Utilizing the gifting of exhortation and empowerment, Ed bridges the gap between the workplace and ministry. Ed Turose is President of Focus 40, a marketing, training, and strategic planning consultancy serving corporate, government, and nonprofit clients which offers strategic business solutions that will increase profitability, productivity and efficiency. He has authored a book and workbook series entitled, “The Focus Fulfilled Life” which helps individuals to get focused to achieve better and greater results and many other marketplace resources. Website: www.FocusCoach4u.com Email: eturose@zoominternet.net

5 Questions with Miguel Smith

Miguel Smith
West Side Community
Founder of In God’s Hands Ministries

What is God doing on the West Side?

God bless you. I will say that the problems the West Side has is with the young people. I think we need to focus more on unity between all the churches to reach the young souls, especially those on the streets. I am doing my part to advance the kingdom of God here on the West Side doing different activites for the youth.  I run a basketball league where I have a guest speaker everytime we meet for basketball and I invite different guys from churches to come and play. One of the rules I have for everyone from our church is you have to bring a guy who doesn’t know the Lord. It’s working. I am grateful to God for how he is working and so far we have five souls who have accepted Christ as Saviour. One of the problems on the West Side community is the young people and we need to target them and take them off the streets and show them there is hope in the Lord. I am working with churches to join together to help the community.

Is progress being made on the West Side?

Yes, I see progress in different areas. I have been seeing many churches getting together for tent revivals and a lot of outreach events. I have seen a lot of people from the West Side who do not know the Lord accept the Lord in their lives. I am a witness to that. I have seen churches and pastors starting to get together. I am happy for what I am seeing this past summer and bringing families to know the Lord. We need to continue focusing on the area.

Tell me about how churches are working to reach the community?

They are targeting the community and using different tools to bring the children to the Lord. Once you reach the children, they go back and get their parents to come. So churches have been growing. I also continue to do my part in reaching out through music. I run a music program for the kids and churches are working together to do outreaches.

 Tell me about your call into ministry.

I had a good foundation at a United Methodist Church in ministry and organizing people. Pastor Gonzalez on Niagara Street has a heart to reach out to the community and she taught me to do the same. I have had a heart to reach out to the young people through basketball and I have been doing it for almost 15 years now. God continues to open doors. My wife and I work together as one and we work together with different ministries in the city and my wife and I go to serve. God is using us as a bridge in the community. Some of the churches on the West Side don’t have the advantages of the larger churches but I just go and ask and I said, ‘Wow God, your awesome because I just ask and I receive.’ I have been seeing the hand of the Lord on my family, my son is a musician and God has been opening great doors.

How are you connecting with the community through music?

God uses us as his instrument to bring people to him. Especially for young people it helps them feel connected with the church and gets them involved. Music is something that gets their attention, especially the young people. When they say, I have never played an instrument in my life, I say, ‘In Jesus name your going to learn to play,’ and they do. They are learning and they are playing and they are serving the Lord. We do it every Wednesday and don’t charge a penny. 
    I am blessed to bless others. I leave everything in the hands of the Lord, that is the name of our ministry, In God’s Hands. 

Robert Stearns Quote

I absolutely believe this is the hardest season the Christian church in America has ever been in, as well as the most opportunity filled moment we have ever had. If the Church is to truly survive in this nation, we need to begin asking some deep questions about what it means to be a believer, how we relate to one another, how we relate to people different than us, and how we serve others with respect and dignity. -Robert Stearns 

Our next issue

Our new issue features Q & A with Robert Stearns, plus columns by Rev. Shawn Dewey, Robbie Raugh and Ed Turose. Look for it starting next week at a church near you.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Lou Perez

Luke 17:33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
It takes more energy to hold on than to let go.
In the science fiction movie Contact Jodi Foster plays, Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen by earth to make first contact. In a climactic scene Dr. Arroway is placed in a pod designed by the aliens but built by humans and then dropped through a wormhole where she would hurl through unknown space . Interestingly the Aliens did not design a chair for the pod so to be safe Earth's engineers installed one. During one of the most intense moments of her drop, the pod begins quaking uncontrollably with Dr. Arroway strapped in and holding on for her life. She looks in front of her and sees her medallion that had floated off her neck hovering effortlessly in front of her . The suspended medallion was the only thing not tied down on the small craft, and the man-made seat was the only thing shaking. she made the connection and un-buckled herself from her chair becoming as light as a feather. The intense agitation stopped turning a frenzied scene into tranquility. She then witnessed as the chair detached itself violently and like a screw being pulled by a powerful magnet shot to the top of the pod.

Had she instinctively played it safe, and held on to the chair she would have perished with her instincts and missed all the mysteries awaiting her. Counter intuitive to her senses she found that letting go of what she knew was the only way she would survive. As long as Dr. Arroway held on to what she knew, her life trembled out of control.

Millstones or Milestones
According to the online dictionary a milestone is a “stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.” Symbolically Milestones mark specific points of the journey.

On the other hand there is a Millstone which are “a pair of round stones used in a mill for grinding grain.”. In life journey a millstone is a heavy weight or burden.

Peter made allusion to this when he said “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?”. Acts 15:10 NIV 2011

He was referring to the teachers of the law who took the milestone of the (ten commandments) and turned them into millstones by adding hundreds of additional laws to them.

In life the very things that once served as our anchors of trust can become the shackles that keep us from our next milestone. The very landmarks of our past season become burdens that keep us going in circles grinding the same grain day after day. Milestones are markers indicating a straight path forward, while millstones (used to grind grains) never go anywhere, but round and round.

Could it be that the thing you once trusted in - the wharf you once tethered all our hopes and dreams on has padlocked your life into a cyclic loop going nowhere? Instead of discovering new markers of wonder on the journey your life has simply stopped. This instinctive “clutching” for our familiar milestones keeps us from discovering the marvelous mysteries God has for us.

We hold the past milestones in a death grip denying God the right to “blow our minds” by not allowing Him to do something we’ve never seen or heard before. Yet God loves doing things our minds have never conceived.

Isa 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. NIV 2011

Playing it safe can be fatal.
It is said that the pioneers settled the West. They were the risk takers who braved perilous lands and weather to colonize a new world. Many became “settler’s while some continued westward. The settlers dug in and shot down roots while the pioneers with a voracious appetite for discovery moved on.

There is a clear difference between a pioneer and a settler.

Pioneers are explorers, who seek to go where no one has gone before. They welcome danger, adventure, and discovery. Like David Livingstone they want to brave the harsh places or die trying. Settlers are far different. The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines a Settler as simply “one that settles”. © 2013 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

Settlers prefer safety over adventure, the mundane over mystery, and comfort over insecurity. They are like Tolkien’s Hobbits who favor their warm and cozy underground dwellings to seeing the world.

Safety first?
“Safety first” has become a cornerstone of American industry. In 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

With safety as its motto, OSHA continued to create training programs, and grants designed to reduce work place hazards. In short, Osha created a culture of safety. http://www.osha.gov/about.html

When we become “settlers” we form an unspoken rule to place safety at the top of importance and risk at the bottom. We tend to insulate, isolate and, insure ourselves against potential harm of any kind. We stop taking risks, stop gazing off at the horizon in an effort to conserve what we have.

By all accounts it would appear that the settlers are the ones guaranteed safety while the pioneers are promised a tragic finale. In the culture of God the opposite tends to be true.

When God calls you to move into the “West” of your life being a settler can be the most dangerous thing you can do because every new thing God has for you requires the spirit of a pioneer, not that of a settler. It takes the courage of a pioneer to let God reinvent you, and change paradigms and procedures that have become millstones to you.

Lou and Louisa Perez both grew up in New York City and met in the first Church Lou pastored in Schenectady, NY. In 1999 they started Destiny Christian Church in Niagara Falls with the vision of taking Church outside the four walls. Visit their website at www.destinychristianniagara.com.