• Fred's Blog

    Five Challenges Families Face

      If you sometimes feel the joy of giving is elusive, you are not alone. Over the past 20 years we’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of individuals, couples and families working with the issues that affect their philanthropy. While each individual and family’s situation is unique, we have found the following five challenges to be most universal. Time. The source of the most frustration for giving families is the lack of time to commit to the giving process. Good giving is work and takes a commitment of time and energy. Most donors have not given their philanthropy much thought and do not know what their focus needs to…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Carried into Exile

    Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, recently used the word “exile” in his address to the General Assembly of the PCUSA  to describe living faithfully as “a minority in a setting where we worship a peculiar God and do peculiar things.” In the current issue of First Things, Carl Trueman makes a case for reformed Christianity being the best place to ride out the imminent exile of cultural irrelevance. He is not writing of a geographical resettlement, and I agree with Trueman that we are not to be in isolated Amish-like communities – or “enclaves of the past” as described by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock. I am more frequently…

  • Bible Studies

    The Bronze Snake

    1.  Read the passage: 4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” 6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the…

  • Fred's Blog

    Earthquakes in Diverse Places

    I’m in Los Angeles this week serving as one of several mentors for a group of 12 organizations that are a part of Praxis, an accelerator program for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Similar to Echoing Green or the incubator Y Combinator, Praxis provides mentors, networks, seed funding and a year-long program to help faith-motivated social entrepreneurs who have, as Dave Blanchard and Josh Kwan put it, “committed their lives to cultural and social impact, renewing the spirit of our age one organization at a time.” At the end of the program, three top organizations will be selected to share the prize money of $100,000, and I am delighted that…

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  • Fred's Blog

    An Unremarkable Life

    If all I knew about my grandfather was what I read in his 1952 diary I might think he was a man whose life was a monotonous string of colorless days. My grandfather, Bunyan Smith, was a pastor in one of the poorest sections of Nashville, and I knew enough about his life as a preacher to expect that his diary would not likely be thrilling. However, I was completely unprepared for how unremarkable it would be. His first entry on January 1 begins with, “Up about 7:00 a.m. Family worship at breakfast. Dressed for the day. Went to church to pray. Studied. Visited the sick. Wrote letters. Ate supper. Retired.” His…