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“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”

treasures in heaven, Christian Aid Minstries

A grocery shopper stands crying in a store aisle. She has stood for hours waiting to get into this store. She needs supplies for her family, but the shelves are basically empty.

A man at a drug store lays his merchandise on the counter. A bottle of shaving crème, a razor, and a stick of deodorant. Ignoring the shuttered credit card machine and cash register, he carefully counts tiny chips of gold from a folded napkin into the digital scale on the counter.

A haggard-looking mother at a pharmacy begs the cashier to sell her a vial of insulin for her diabetic son, tearfully waving a fistful of large denomination bills. The cashier shakes his head. It’s not enough money and besides, there is no insulin available.

A father roots desperately through piles of garbage on the curb looking for something, anything edible, to take home to his ten-month-old baby. Nearby a street artisan weaves a beautiful handbag out of 800 pieces of large denomination banknotes.

The money is worthless. Welcome to Venezuela.

It wasn’t always this way. Venezuela used to be the wealthiest country in South America, with the highest standard of living. It has abundant natural resources and the highest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. Yes, even more than Saudi Arabia. It has gold, minerals, and fertile land, but its people are starving.

The money in Venezuela was not always worthless. In August 2012, ten Venezuela bolivars were worth 1 US dollar. In 2021, it took 4.1 to 4.2 million to equal 1 US dollar.

What if you lived in Venezuela before the crash? What if you had substantial holdings of Venezuela bolivars while they were still valuable?

But you knew the crash was coming. Thankfully, you had a friend. An utterly reliable friend who offered to borrow your money and pay it back to you in gold after the crash. Your money would be safe. Wouldn’t that be a deal?

That is the deal we are offered. The crash is coming. Someday, these American or Canadian dollars will be worthless. But we have inside knowledge. We have a perfectly reliable super-investor who offers a secure deal. Loan him our money now and it will be safe though any circumstance no matter what.

God has made us that offer. It is sound. It is absolutely safe. He has warned us that the crash is coming. He told us in His foreknowledge that this world is not a safe place for our valuables. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” Matthew 6:19

He gives us a safe alternative. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Matthew 6:20

He tells us how to make Him the loan. “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” Proverbs 19:17.

—Darryl Derstine, CAM Foundation staff member


Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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Why order matters in Estate Planning

distribution, Christian Aid Minstries

Everyone can and should do estate planning, whether your estate is modest or complex. Estate planning requires taking control, making informed decisions and then implementing those decisions. One of the ways that you can make informed decisions is by learning more about the distribution process of your estate.

The distribution of your estate property to your heirs will happen by one of three processes. These three processes are: Distribution by Operation of Law, Testate Distribution, and Intestate Distribution. One question that often arises during estate planning is what the meaning is of Operation of Law distributions. These are terms used by many estate planners and attorneys to describe specific sectors of estate planning.

Estate settlement is a facts-based process and one fact that is often misunderstood is that Order of Operation determines the distribution of an estate’s assets. Having the Order of Operations different from what you are intending can result in the distribution of your assets occurring in a manner that was not your intent.

Suppose for instance that your unmarried Aunt Susan had made you, her oldest niece, the personal representative of her Last Will & Testament. The Will states that she intends for fifty percent of her assets to be equally distributed to her nieces and nephews with the remainder to be given to a local charity. During her lifetime she has also named her youngest brother John as the sole beneficiary on her bank account. In the latter years of her life she sold her home and held all of her assets in this bank account. Will your Aunt Susan’s assets be distributed at her death in accordance with her stated wishes?

Order of Operation will dictate that Operation of Law obligations be satisfied before the next step, Testate Distribution, can be applied. In this instance, your Aunt Susan had a valid contract with the bank to give all of the assets in her bank account to Uncle John. Because all of her assets have been distributed by Operation of Law, the next step, Testate Distribution will not apply. In this instance you would find yourself to be the representative of an estate with no assets to distribute and quite possibly some difficult family dynamics to negotiate.

Unfortunately, situations like this occur far too often and many times because the Order of Operations is misunderstood or misapplied. Let’s take a brief look at the Order of Operations for estate distributions.

  1. Lifetime Gifts. Lifetime gifts are distributions that you have made during your lifetime and are not considered to be part of your estate.
  2. Operation of Law. Operation of Law distributions take place because of legally enacted deeds or contracts that you have made during your lifetime. These types of distributions often come in the form of beneficiary designations on bank accounts, IRAs, Annuities, and Trusts. They can also take place through Survivorship and Transfer on Death Deeds.
  3. Testate Distribution. Testate distributions happen because of directives that you have included in your Last Will and Testament.
  4. Intestate Distribution. Intestate Distributions are distributions made by State directives and come into effect if an individual dies without any legal documents guiding the distribution of his estate.

Understanding the correct Order of Operations is important because if your assets have someone’s name on them as beneficiary, partial or secondary owner, or someone has a binding contract on assets named in the will, these assets pass by operation of law, superseding the will which has no power or control over them.

For these reasons, it is important that you seek legal counsel to not only write your will or trust but to also coordinate what you own with how you own it so that it passes to those people and ministries whom you have chosen. Are your plans in order? Do they follow the order that you are intending? Why not take the time to review them or have a qualified adviser review them for you?

—Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member


 

Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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A steward’s first role

steward, Christian Aid Ministries

What is the best use of assets? What is wise? What is prudent?

Ask a dozen advisors and you’ll get a dozen answers. The accountant says one thing, the attorney another, and the tax planner something else. What to do?

Sometimes a story helps.

Imagine a man named Jim coasting into a Texan oil town in a dilapidated brown truck. He’s hungry. He’s broke and he’s out of gas. He’s desperate to get home to his family, miles away.

Somebody sees him sitting despondently by his truck.

“Do you need help?” they ask. “Go to that building over there and ask for the boss. He is very generous. He will help you.”

Surely, I cannot go in there, he thinks. It’s a high-rise palace.

But he needs help, so he goes.

In the lobby, priceless oil paintings adorn the walls. The floors and walls are polished European marble.

He asks for the boss.

The secretary wrinkles her nose but sends him to the top floor.

He stands uncertainly outside the door marked “The Boss,” cringingly noting the gold chandeliers and deep oriental rugs.

He taps and is called in.

The boss listens, warm and sympathetic.

“I know just how you feel,” he nods. “I’ve been broke too. Go down and my stewards will give you generous help. They will feed you. They will give you money for your trip. They will put gas in your truck.”

Jim stumbles out of the boss’s office, awash with joy at his benefactor.

He stops first at the financial steward’s office and hesitantly murmurs, “Uh, the boss sent me down.”

The man frowns but begins a check for $500. He strikes it out and starts one for $50, then strikes it out and writes one for $15.

Jim, shaken, pockets the check and turns for the cafeteria. At least he can get some food.

The smells are overpowering. The finest fruits, spices, and delicacies money can buy are laid out behind crystal cases.

He tells the attendants the boss has sent him. They scowl and fork a scrap of bread from the garbage, flipping on an over-aged hunk of cheese. They push it over to him, along with a half-eaten bowl of soup.

Minutes later, still weak with hunger, he pushes his old truck up to the pump. With gas he could at least get closer home.

Somehow, he wasn’t surprised when the attendant stopped pumping at a quarter tank.

Puttering out of town, he wonders, Is the boss really so good and generous if those were his stewards?

Those stewards may have thought they were frugal and wise with their boss’s resources but that was not their first role. A steward’s first role is to use the master’s resources as the master wants them used. And so, with us.

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? —Luke 12:42

—Darryl Derstine, CAM Foundation staff member


Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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Stewardship Musings

God has given many commands to humanity that reveal His desire for our well-being. Jesus said that if we love God we will obey these commands. And He made it simple for us to comprehend when He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).

These two commands are bound up within each other and for the most part, Christians understand that loving God with all of their being is of utmost importance. However, the command to love our neighbors tends to take the backseat at times to our own desires and ambitions.


A wise steward recognizes that the heart of stewardship is found in love.


Many times, Christians tend to think of stewardship as relating to financial and material resources and forget that stewardship also includes loving and caring for the people God has placed in their lives. Many times, Christians struggle to love the people who they disagree with or people who have sinned against them. However, true love isn’t about how we feel toward others but rather how we act toward others. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 says it this way:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Our feelings are fleeting, but God expects us to act with love toward others. God calls us to be patient, kind, selfless, humble, and longsuffering with even the difficult people in our lives.

A wise steward recognizes that the heart of stewardship is found in love. If we love God we will love the people He has created and we will keep His commands. A wise steward understands that loving others includes sharing compassion with the poor and blessing them with the resources God has placed in his care. In doing so, a wise steward completes the virtuous cycle of love by giving back to God in an act of worship that brings glory to his Creator.

—Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member


 

Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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Owner or Steward

Stewards, Christian Aid Ministries

There are many examples of stewards in today’s world. Another way we might think of them would be as managers. One such individual would be your banker. Your banker doesn’t own the money he controls. He only manages it. You understand that and your banker understands that as well.

Stewards, including bankers, have some restrictions. For example, stewards are accountable to the owner. This means that the owner can take back or take away wealth from the stewards if the stewards do not seek and follow the owner’s directions. Stewards are also responsible to provide an accurate report of their activities.

Stewards also have some rights. For example, stewards can and should invest and put to good use the wealth they manage. Many stewards also have the right to keep some of what they manage for their own use.

Let’s take a look at what Jesus taught us about stewardship.

In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus taught us several important truths about stewardship. Let’s notice a couple of important things about this parable. First, Christ does not condemn the farmer for having wealth, nor did He condemn the wealth itself, the plentiful harvest. Christ simply said, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully.” Also notice the fact that it was the ground that produced this bounty, not the rich man himself.

So remember that wealth, including money, is not good or bad. Wealth is neither moral or immoral. Wealth in itself is not pleasing or displeasing to God. It is our attitude about what we have and the choices we make with what we have that are either pleasing or displeasing to God.

Now let’s look at the attitude of the farmer. What did he think when he saw the bountiful harvest? “Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and that’s where I’ll store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, take it easy and enjoy the fruits of my labors.” Do you see his error? He didn’t think of himself as a steward or manager. He thought of himself as the owner. When that large crop came in, he didn’t have a use for it. But notice, he didn’t ask, “God, why did you entrust all this to me, what do you want me to do with this great harvest that you gave?” No, he considered himself the owner and planned to store it ALL away for his own enjoyment. He took the position of owner and was condemned by God.

Let’s also notice that he failed to give value to that which had the greatest value in God’s eyes. The soul God had given him was of exponentially greater value than any bumper crop he might have ever harvested in his lifetime. In fact, he could have gained the whole world’s wealth and still have had less than the value of his soul. And it was this soul that God required of him that fateful night. By failing to abide by God’s value system and acknowledging God as the owner, he entered eternity a destitute and condemned man.

We can apply this parable to us today. We are “rich” when we consider our wealth from God’s perspective. We have “good crops” such as church communities, jobs, family, and time. But I wonder, if we were to stand accountable before God today for the quality of our stewardship, would we fare any better than this farmer? Do we treat God as the owner and seek His direction for how we should manage all this abundance? Or do we try to act the part of the owner and plan to store it away in our “barns”? True, many of us don’t have barns. But we do have checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, homes, cars, clothing, etc. If we choose to be stewards, God blesses. If we choose to try out the position of owner, God condemns.

What is some evidence of good stewardship today? How can we know if we have the right attitude before we stand accountable on “that day”? Here are several things to consider:

  • Do you understand “wealth” from God’s perspective?
  • Do you acknowledge His ownership?
  • Do you accept your responsibility as steward?
  • Does your wealth add no sorrow to your life? Or are you encumbered with the stress and sorrow of ownership? See Proverbs 10:22.

Develop the attitude of a steward, a manager. Leave the ownership to whom it belongs, with God.

–Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member

Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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Giving Back God’s Earth

tax dollars, Christian Aid Ministries

A way to channel would-be tax dollars to kingdom work

Twenty-five years ago Jacob bought a farm for $200,000. Now his children are grown and have all left home. Jacob and his wife want to sell the farm and move to a smaller place.

Jacob knows he has several options:

Option 1: Sell the property and give a cash gift.
Today the fair market value of Jacob’s farm is $1,100,000. This results in a capital gain of $900,000. While he has tithed regularly on the income earned each year on the farm, he also wishes to give 10 percent of this gain in value to charity. Jacob’s combined federal and state tax bracket is 35 percent and his capital gains tax bracket is 23.8 percent, which results in a capital gains tax liability of $180,000 when he sells the farm. After paying his capital gains tax and gifting 10 percent of the gain, he has a net amount of $848,500 left over in the bank.

Option 2: Gift a portion of his property to a charitable organization prior to the sale. (See diagram.)
If Jacob makes a gift of 32 percent of his farm to a charitable organization prior to a sale, he reduces his capital gains from $900,000 to $612,000 and his capital gains tax liability from $180,000 to $122,400. But by making this gift, he receives a charitable deduction of $352,000, the fair market value of his gift to charity, resulting in a tax deduction of $260,000, based on his tax rates. This tax deduction more than offsets the $122,400 capital gains tax on the sale of the farm. This way, Jacob ends up with $748,800, rather than $848,500, but is blessed by having redirected a substantial amount of tax dollars to fund the Lord’s work instead. While he has $99,700 less in proceeds from the sale, he has been able to leverage his giving and fund the Lord’s work by an additional $262,000.

For many of us, the opportunity to make a gift to charity beyond our regular cash giving may occur only once or twice in our lifetime, generally when we make the sale of a major asset. Often these sales are highly appreciated properties where substantial capital gains tax is due. While cash gifts are essential for ministry, real estate and other kinds of property may also be donated to charity. Usually, a ministry cannot wait for the sale of a piece of property to fund systematic expenses. But when making one-time gifts, there is generally enough time to plan properly to take advantage of the tax savings made possible through a charitable gift.

While gifts of appreciated property provide significant tax benefits, saving taxes alone should not be the reason for your giving to charity. True giving is an expression of worship from the heart that loves God and cares for the needs of a lost and dying world. But with proper motives, a planned gift to maximize funds for charity by using tax laws available is good stewardship.

Capital Gains Tax—what exactly is it?
When you own property that has appreciated in value and you sell the property, you must pay tax on the difference between your tax basis in the property and what you received from the sale. This is the difference between what you paid for the property plus improvements, less depreciation, if any, and the sale price. This tax is called a capital gains tax. The capital gains tax rates range from 15 percent to 23.8 percent, plus state tax, if you held the property for one year or more.

Capital gains taxes are “optional”
Many are often not aware that capital gains tax is an optional tax, or at the least it can be minimized. There are three options when dealing with capital gains tax:

OPTION 1:
Pay the tax. Naturally, this is the most tax expensive option.

OPTION 2:
Postpone the tax. This can be accomplished through an exchange of real estate, under a special section of the tax code, or through an installment sale. Initially, this can be a way to reduce taxes. But the day of reckoning will come.

OPTION 3:
Avoid the tax. Capital gains tax can be avoided in two ways:

  • By transferring the property through your estate at the time of your death. This is a heavy price to pay for the avoidance of any tax.
  • By gifting all or some of your property to a charity during your lifetime. Gifting the entire property to charity prior to a sale completely avoids capital gains taxes. Or you could gift a portion of the property to charity, and sell the balance. Any buyer would then purchase the property from you and the charity. The deduction you receive from the gift to charity would offset all or part of the capital gains tax on the portion you sell. This is made possible by gifting property prior to the sale rather than cash after the sale.

What is the difference between giving property or cash?
When you transfer all or part of appreciated property to a charitable organization prior to making a sale, your charitable deduction is based on the fair market value of the property at the time of the transfer. However, if you sell the property and then make the gift to charity, you will be taxed on the appreciation, and owe capital gains tax to the government. But that tax is reduced or avoided when you gift all or part of appreciated property directly to the charitable organization prior to the sale.

Donor advised charitable gift fund—a way to distribute the proceeds from your gift
If you make a planned gift of this type to Christian Aid Ministries Foundation, the proceeds will be placed into a donor advised fund with us. This will enable you to distribute the proceeds from your gift to your church, to Christian Aid Ministries for use in our programs, or to other charities you wish to support.

Some things to remember
In this newsletter, it is not possible to cover all the specifics relating to taxation of gifts of property. But there are some general rules to remember:

  • Gifts of cash or non-appreciated property may be deductible up to 60 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). But if you make a gift of appreciated property, that deduction is limited to 30 percent of AGI. However, if the deduction from your gift exceeds the amount you can deduct in one year, the balance of the deduction can be carried forward an additional five years, and used to offset taxes in subsequent years.
  • Even though a property has appreciated in value, it must have been held one year or longer, or the deduction will be for the cost basis, rather than the fair market value.
  • Other types of property, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and certain tangible personal property may also be gifted with the same effect.

Do you want to know more?
To learn more, contact Christian Aid Ministries Foundation at 330-893-4915 before you make a sales agreement. Individual situations and tax brackets vary, producing different results. We will gladly review your situation and calculate the percentage you would need to gift to charity to offset your capital gains taxes. You will not be under any obligation to make a gift. We do recommend that you also consult with your accountant and tax advisor.
NOTICE: These materials have been prepared for educational and informational purposes only. They are not legal advice nor legal opinions on any specific matters. You will need an attorney from your state to draft and execute your documents. You should also seek the counsel of your accountant or tax advisor.

 

Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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From your storehouse to those in need

noncash assets, Christian Aid Ministries

DID YOU KNOW you can help the needy by donating noncash assets to support CAM’s Coronavirus Crisis Care project or any CAM program? You can gift almost any marketable possession.

Here is how it works:

 

Step 1

Gift non-cash assets like grain, cattle, collectables, or
real estate to CAM Foundation.
Contact us before you begin this process.

Step 2

After you transfer ownership to CAM Foundation, we
generally sell the gift through your usual channels. The
proceeds then come to CAM Foundation.

Step 3

Funds are then channeled to Christian Aid Ministries
to provide much-needed food, Christian literature, and
other emergency aid for people affected by the economic
fallout of COVID-19 lockdowns. You can also choose to
use the funds to support other CAM programs.

For more information, contact CAM representative Jon Stoltzfus at:

2412 Division Hwy., Ephrata, PA 17522 | Phone: 717-575-7361 | Email: jstoltzfus@campenn.org

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Donor Advised Charitable Gift Fund

Charitable Gift Fund

WHAT IT IS

A Donor Advised Charitable Gift Fund is a way to make tax-deductible gifts that enable you to support your local church, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM), and other charities of your choice, while protecting your privacy and simplifying your giving. There may be significant tax benefits in contributing real estate, securities, commodities, or mineral interests. You may also give cash or anything upon which a fair market value can be placed. CAM Foundation receives your primary gift as the sponsoring organization. As the donor, you may recommend to CAM Foundation when various smaller gifts from your Donor Advised Fund will be distributed to your church, CAM, or other charities who are in agreement with CAM Foundation’s statement of faith.

HOW IT WORKS

You donate cash or other assets with a fair market value to CAM Foundation. For example, the sale of a farm or business may produce unusually high income in the year in which the transaction is made. A cash donation will help reduce your taxes for the year in which you earned your income, but allow you to postpone distribution to charities until later. Or if the sale will generate significant capital gains taxes, you may consider contributing a portion of the farm or business to CAM Foundation prior to the sale. The buyer then purchases the farm or business from both you and CAM Foundation. The tax deduction from your donation may offset a significant portion or all of your capital gains taxes. In this way, proceeds from the sale that would otherwise go toward taxes are redirected to charities you wish to support. You may also generate a tax deduction by donating a portion of an oil and gas lease bonus payment, or you may assign royalties and in some cases mineral rights to a Donor Advised Fund.
Your gift represents an irrevocable contribution to CAM Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, and is not refundable to you. CAM Foundation establishes and maintains a separately identified fund in the name you designate and manages the investment of your gift. These funds will be available for distribution to your church, to CAM, or to other legally registered 501(c)(3) charities. You may recommend disbursements at any time you wish throughout the year(s).
Please note that assets contributed to your Donor Advised Fund become the property of CAM Foundation, and the donor retains no legal control over the gift. Instead, you have the privilege to give non-binding advice to CAM Foundation concerning the distribution of the funds. Because CAM Foundation is a public charity, you get a tax deduction for the year in which you make the gift, even if not all of the funds are disbursed during that year.

WHAT IT COSTS

Generally CAM Foundation manages Donor Advised Funds without charge. In cases where it requires an unusual amounts of time or expense to receive or distribute, some costs may need to be covered by the Donor Advised Fund.

ADVANTAGES FOR DONORS

Flexibility—You can give a wide variety of assets: cash, real estate, business interests, securities, commodities, mineral interests, or anything upon which a fair market value can be placed. The fund can accommodate either a one-time gift or multiple gifts over time.
Simplicity—CAM Foundation takes responsibility to liquidate non-cash assets and to manage gift proceeds.
Reduce or eliminate capital gains tax—When appreciated real estate or securities are donated, the donor may not need to pay a portion or any of the tax on capital gains. This leaves more money to go to charity.
Tax benefits—CAM Foundation will issue a tax-
deductible receipt or an acknowlegement, depending on the type of gift. If your gift results in a federal income tax deduction, it may be applied against your taxable income, in some cases up to as much as 60 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Unused portions of the deduction may be carried forward up to five successive years.
Option of “gift bundling”—With higher standard deductions for taxes starting in 2018, some individuals are choosing to bundle their giving in order to continue giving at the same levels as before. This means donating two or more years’ worth of giving at one time, claiming the charitable deduction that year, and then waiting that period of time to donate again. One way to bundle is by utilizing a DAF. This gives the person the option to bundle the donation to their DAF the first year and then continue to support their charity or church every year from the DAF.
Privacy­—If the donor wishes to give anonymously, CAM Foundation can act as a screen between the donor and recipient charities.
Charitable gift reserve for emergency needs—Enables you to maintain a charitable gift reserve, so you can designate funds to charities for emergency needs that come up from time to time.
Accounting information—You receive a quarterly statement of your fund activity showing opening balance, amounts received, disbursements, and closing balance. More frequent statements may be requested at any time.


In 2019, CAM Foundation distributed funds to:

Churches — $653,859
Christian Aid Ministries — $737,484
Various-approved charities — $190,000


CASE STUDIES

Scenario one
John and his brother James own a manufacturing company and make charitable gifts from their business. However, they are unable to make monthly donations because they serve a seasonal market, so they calculate the amount of their gift at the end of the year. Since it is an annual lump sum, they wish to divide it out over the following year in smaller gifts to various charities. They split their annual donation into separate Donor Advised Funds and then each partner can make personal gift recommendations throughout the following year.
Scenario two
Jacob decides to sell the farm he purchased 25 years ago for $100,000. Today the fair market value for the farm is $500,000, which results in a capital gain of $400,000. He desires to give 10 percent of the gain to charity. John’s combined federal and state tax bracket is 35 percent and his capital gains tax bracket is 22 percent, which results in a capital gains tax liability of $88,000 when he sells the farm. After paying his capital gains taxes and gifting 10 percent of the gain ($40,000), he has a net amount of $372,000 left over before income taxes.
If Jacob gifts 35 percent of his farm to charity prior to the sale, he reduces his capital gain to $260,000 and his capital gains tax liability to $57,200. But by making this gift, he receives a charitable deduction of $175,000, the fair market value of his gift to charity, resulting in a tax deduction of $61,250 (based on his 35 percent tax bracket). This more than offsets the $57,200 capital gains tax on the sale of the farm. This way, Jacob ends up with $329,050 before income taxes, rather than $372,000, but is blessed with the satisfaction of having redirected a substantial amount of tax dollars to charity. While he has $42,950 less in proceeds from the sale, he has been able to leverage his giving and support God’s work by an additional $135,000.
Individual situations and tax brackets vary, producing different results. We will gladly review your situation and estimate the percentage of your farm or business that would need to be gifted to offset your capital gains taxes. You will not be under any obligation to make a gift or open a Donor Advised Fund. We recommend that you also consult with your accountant or tax planner.
These materials have been prepared for educational and informational purposes only. They are not legal advice nor legal opinions on any specific matters. Please consult your tax advisor.


Click here to view “Biblical Stewardship Services Updates”

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Stewardship in a Time of Change

Time of Change

Today God’s stewards find themselves in a world fraught with disease, fear, social upheaval, economic turmoil, and continual change. An unprecedented number of people have been abruptly limited in their activities, travels, and employment. How then, should God’s managers or stewards think and act? Has God given us guidance for the age we find ourselves in?

First, God’s people can take comfort and be grounded in the fact that the Lord our God is an unchanging God. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Psalm 102:27 assures us “But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Yes, even as change and turmoil sweep the globe, God remains the unchanging I AM.

In many ways, these changing times afford God’s people an opportunity to evaluate their priorities and discern the essential from the frivolous. We have an opportunity to reaffirm the values that are deeply intrinsic to being a child of the King. One of those values is the idea that a child of the King is called to be a manager of the gifts that he or she has been given. So, let’s look again at the foundational elements of this call to stewardship. As we look at these principles we realize that stewardship is rooted in the very nature of who we are.

In Genesis 1:26–28 we read, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

” Consider the following points about the responsibilities God has given us. We are:
  1. Image Bearers: As a reflection of the Master Creator, every person has within their essential nature the call to create and be productive. Whether in submission to God’s purposes or in rebellion, all of humanity is predisposed toward creativity and productivity. So we have a choice—bring glory to our Creator by utilizing the life and talents He gave us, or oppose Him with the work of our hands as we seek our own glory in defiance of the Creator.
  2. Regents: The second command given to Adam and Eve was to have dominion over the earth. God installed Adam and Eve as His vice-regents to rule over all of creation. It’s not that God granted ownership of the planet to humankind. It remains His possession. But God called Adam and Eve to exercise authority over the animals, plants, and the environment. They were not to exercise authority like a reckless tyrant, for God didn’t make Adam and Eve owners of the earth. He made them stewards of the earth, who were to act in His name for His glory.
  3. Keepers: God created a lush and gorgeous garden and placed Adam and Eve in it. In Genesis 2:15, He commanded them “to dress it and keep it.” This command to work and keep is key to understanding the responsibility given to human beings. The mandate God gave to humanity was for people to reflect and mirror God’s stewardship over His creation. This involves far more than mere religion or the church. It has to do with how we engage in scientific endeavors, how we treat each other, how we do business, how we treat animals, and how we treat the environment. This dominion over the earth is not a license to exploit, consume, or destroy the earth; it is a responsibility to exercise stewardship over the earth by “dressing and keeping” it. Dressing and keeping means preventing it from falling apart, keeping it orderly, maintaining it, preserving it, and making it beautiful. God didn’t say, “From now on, all your food will fall from the sky.” His desire is that we work with Him in being productive: dressing, tilling, planting and replenishing.

In changing times may God’s people be faithful image bearers. May we continue to steward the life, relationships, and resources He has given us. And, as any good gardener knows, changing seasons provide windows of opportunity to sow and cultivate truths that will bring rich harvests to the glory of God.

—Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member

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Five Biblical Principles related to estate planning

Biblical Principles, Christian Aid Ministries

In this issue, we want to look at five Biblical principles related to estate planning. We trust you will find this study to be of interest and value, as you review or plan your estate. The principles are as follows:

  • God is the owner of all.
  • We are responsible for those dependent on us.
  • The motivation for all giving is love.
  • People are always more important than dollars.
  • It is required of a steward to be found faithful.

When you think of estate planning, do you think of wills, trusts, probate, taxes, and property ownership? All of those are important issues. But without a Biblical foundation for the development of the estate plan, the mechanical process will mostly be in vain.

What does it profit us if we avoid probate, eliminate taxes, and distribute without delay, if that distribution:

  • is contrary to God’s plan of stewardship for our estate?
  • is used for purposes that do not reflect our Christian lifestyle?
  • results in harm rather than good, in the hands of personal and charitable beneficiaries?

Through the study of these five Biblical principles, we trust that we can determine God’s plan of stewardship for our estates. Let’s review the Biblical principles that affect a Christian’s estate plan, and then look at how we can find God’s plan of stewardship for our estates.

Principle 1:

The foundation on which a Christian’s estate plan is built is the recognition that God is owner of all.
The cattle on a thousand hills, houses, land, silver, gold—all are rightly God’s. In fact, the earth in its fullness belongs to God.

Principle 2:

We have a responsibility to those financially dependent on us.

To family:

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8) It says nothing about prospering them, nor does it say anything about those who have grown up and left the household.
To other believers:
There were few financial needs among the believers in the early church, because those who had property used it to meet the needs of other believers.

To the poor:

Probably more is said in the Scriptures about giving to the poor than any other giving.

II Corinthians 9:8-9 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.”

Principle 3:

Love must be the basis of all giving.

“God so loved . . . that He gave . . .” sets the pattern for our giving. In I Corinthians 13, we read that if a man gives all he has to the poor without love, he gains nothing. Love makes a person a cheerful giver, and God loves a cheerful giver.

Principle 4:

People are more important than dollars.

People are often more concerned about avoiding probate or taxes, than they are about the effect of dollars upon beneficiaries.

The parable of the prodigal son illustrates how distribution of wealth can change a lifestyle. It can also create conflict. Even when the son returned home, the family was split over one ring, one coat, one calf, and one pair of sandals. Household goods and personal effects, guardianship of minor children, personal representative of the estate, and the management of property in case of incompetency are areas where families often have problems. A lot can be done to reduce the potential of conflicts between the beneficiaries of our estates.

Principle 5:

It is required of a steward to be found faithful.

If God is the owner of all, we as stewards have a responsibility to find His plan for the distribution of the property He has entrusted to us.

How do I find God’s plan of stewardship?

Step 1: Make a list of all financially dependent individuals—husband, wife, aged parents, and minor children. You may wish to also include charitable organizations in this list.

Step 2: Make a list of individuals to whom you will give because of love.

Though they are not financially dependent, you can give what you have out of love, if that is God’s plan.

Step 3: Make a list of all your property—what you own, how you own it, when you bought it, how you paid for it, and what it is worth today.

Step 4: Reduce those values to cash. Forget the fact it is houses, land, stocks, bonds, insurance—assume it is cash. This will help you understand its impact upon your beneficiaries.

Step 5: Make a plan today. If death had occurred last night, how would you want the “cash” divided among the people listed previously?

Step 6: Before you give it away, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His plan of distribution.
God is the owner of it all, so why shouldn’t He guide its distribution? He is the only One who knows what impact dollars will have upon the people to whom we want to give . . . whether it will make them stronger, or whether like the prodigal son, it will destroy a lifestyle.

Now it’s time for the tools, taxes, and techniques.

Once you have found God’s plan of stewardship, it must be placed in writing to guarantee it will be carried out. We call it an estate plan. It is important that we distribute the property God has entrusted to us, to the beneficiaries He has revealed to us, with the least amount of costs and delays. We can now work with some of the tools, taxes, and techniques to accomplish this. To help you begin this process, or to assist you in reviewing your existing estate plan, we offer an Estate Planner. Please use the enclosed response coupon to request your free copy today.