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Ministry Moments Blog
A devotion by Chris Chan, ABCS Assistant Executive Director
"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." – Daniel 3:17-18
The story of Daniel’s friends and the fiery furnace has all the components of a good story: good guys, bad guys, conflict that builds to a climax, and of course, a happy ending. Often overlooked in the drama of the story is the attitudes of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego stated in Daniel 3:17-18. In the face of persecution, adversity, and uncertainty, they praised God for His limitless power and ability to deliver them. They also acknowledged that He may not. For whatever reason, God may not deliver them. Even so, it would not change their identity and their commitment to God. They would not bow down and worship anyone else.
While our daily trials and sufferings pale in comparison to being executed by fire, the fact remains that we face trials all around us that challenge our faith and identity as Christ-followers. Political leaders who oppose Biblical values. Friends who pressure us towards immoral or unethical choices. Conflict that creates division in our families and churches. It’s natural to feel fear and anxiety, and it’s easy to pray to God for deliverance. But the possibility that God may not deliver us tempts us to plan our own way out. We begin rationalizing our actions or making compromises with our beliefs to avoid undesirable outcomes.
Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego are my heroes. They didn’t blame the king, they didn’t compromise, they didn’t rationalize and try to justify disobedience to God. Instead they remained committed to God’s standard and left the rest to God, ready for any outcome. To be like them, we must ask ourselves:
Lord, in the trials and suffering of today and this week, give us the strength and conviction to do what is right in Your eyes, according to Your Word. Whatever the outcome, help us be ready, and may You always be glorified.
The end of the year is a time when many of us start thinking of ways to reduce our tax liability before the year finishes. But sometimes it’s confusing knowing what all the terms mean. Many times the terms tax deduction and tax credit are used interchangeably when they are actually separate things. Here is a simple distinction:
Tax deductions reduce the amount of your gross income that is taxable while tax credits are applied directly against the amount of money owed in taxes.
For example, let’s say you are in the 15% tax bracket with a gross income of $50,000. Your tax liability (the amount you would owe) without any deductions would be $7,500. However, if you could take a deduction of $800, that would lower your tax liability to $7,380. In this case, your $800 deduction would decrease your tax liability by $120.
In the same scenario, if you could claim an $800 credit, you would reduce your tax liability by $800. This is why tax credits are described as “dollar-for-dollar” because your tax liability is reduced by the exact same dollar amount as you give toward the credit.
Although the tax credit provided a greater impact in this scenario, you will want to consult with your tax professional to determine what deductions or credits are available to you and which are best for your particular situation.
Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries (ABCS) is a Qualified Foster Care Organization, which means all gifts to ABCS qualify for a dollar-for-dollar Arizona state tax credit of up to $400 for singles and $800 for married couples. Gifts to ABCS can be claimed as a federal deductions and state credits, which allows you to take advantage of the financial benefits of each.
Visit abcs.org/donate/taxcredit for more information and answers to some frequently asked questions.
One day at the resource center, a man named Jose* came to us flustered, upset and barely speaking English. I asked him the usual set of questions about what resources he needed but he denied all of my offers for food, diapers and clothes. He was looking for something different. Jose then began to explain to me his unique situation and why he decided to come to us. He and his family are from El Paso, Texas. His daughter was in an accident and was flown into Tucson for surgery. The surgery was successful and she had to go back home that day because the hospital could not keep her there any longer. The problem was that she needed to be on an oxygen tank. The hospital wrote a check for Jose to get one but they did not give enough to cover the 27 dollar security deposit with it. He explained to me that he was a poor, hardworking man without much money and could not afford to get back to El Paso and pay the security deposit as well. He said that he would not normally ask for money but he was desperate. I told him that I would see what we could do and we would try to help him out as best we could. I went into the office, talked it over to the two other employees and compiled 23 dollars. I met back with Jose and told him that this is all we could gather between the three of us. I then asked if we could all pray together for his daughter and his family. He very graciously accepted and the two other employees and I gathered with Jose, held hands and prayed that Jesus would help his family during this time, give his daughter a smooth recovery and that he would find the remaining four dollars that day. He left with a thankful smile and handshakes to all of us with tears with his eyes.
(originally posted 7/20/16)
The following was written by a resource center staff member.
On Monday I helped a new client, Donna*. Donna came in for a food box with her granddaughter and sister in law. As I helped them to the car I asked Donna if I could help her with anything else. She nodded. Her sister in law said that Donna had recently been kicked out of her daughter’s home and did not have anything but a mattress. I led Donna back to the clothing room to see what else we could help her with. She looked through boxes of clothing and began opening up to me about her life. Donna pointed to a book on a shelf and asked if it was a bible. I told her it was and asked if she would like to take it home. Donna smiled and thanked me. She told me she has been trying to pray to God about her life. As she was looking through clothes told me in detail about her abusive ex-husband and how she tried to take her own life. Moments later she picked up the first shirt out of the bin, Donna said, “Oh, I like this. It will be great to sleep in.” I smiled and told her to turn the shirt around so she could see the front, which had a cross and said “Live Free”. I told her, “You can live free. That is the hope we have in Jesus.” Her eyes filled with tears as she hugged me and said, “Thank you for pointing that out.” We continued our conversation and I asked if I could pray for Donna before she left. She cried as we prayed before hugging and thanking me. I was able to offer her information about New Life Transitional Program in the hopes that she will continue to encounter Jesus on her journey toward healing and living free.
*Name has been changed.
Needs list: Food Baby Food Baby Formula Volunteers
On Tuesdays, volunteer Faye meets with clients who come for pregnancy tests and material assistance at the Tucson New Life Pregnancy Center. She can be seen wearing a small gold pin with the words, “I VOLUNTEER FOR LIFE.”
During her time at the center, Faye has the opportunity to talk with clients, learn how the center can provide help, and many times has the opportunity to pray with clients. She recently met with Anne (name changed) who moved to the United States from Asia a few years ago.
Anne is a believer but has had a difficult time connecting with other Christians in Tucson. She and Faye began talking about God, and Anne asked if she could come back weekly to meet with Faye one-on-one for Bible study. Faye happily agreed! They recently finished their first Bible study together on the book of John. They have already planned to begin another study soon, and Anne hopes to bring a friend of hers who is not a Christian.
Many clients like Anne visit the New Life Pregnancy Centers simply to receive free diapers and clothing for their children. As they meet staff and volunteers who care to meet these physical needs, doors are opened for God’s love to also be shared to meet their deeper, spiritual needs. We are so thankful for volunteers like Faye who are committed to sharing God’s hope and care with clients!
(originally posted 7/11/16)