Category Archives: church finances
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This is the Valley Boy Pastor’s best strategy to pry his kids away from Santa Monica.
When God called me to Van Nuys (in the HOT San Fernando Valley), I was gung-ho. My kids? Not so much so.
It turns out, they kind of like the sea-breezy cool, upscale Santa Monica. For six years, we’ve called the city of my church, the Lighthouse, home. Now I’m re-activating in my calling but the barrio isn’t quite as nice — at least in terms of ritz. It’s been hard to convince Rebekah and Robert to come along. They keep trying to find ways to stay on Boardwalk and Park Place.
So these are my big guns. Eventually, I’m figuring, my kids will get hungry. And what better way to pluck them away with premium hamburgers?
I may be trying to win the hearts of men for Jesus, but first I need to win the hearts of my kids. Fire up the grill.
Finances are a dreary necessity that underpin the true joy of saving souls. I don’t believe that God’s main purpose is to bless His people. Yes, we are children of the King, but the Child of King didn’t have a home, much less a bank account.
Having disavowed the prosperity gospel heretics, I would wish to proceed with a balanced exposition on finances. I was struck by this reading Ruth: Let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glen them. (Ruth 2:16).
Boaz is a picture of Christ because he redeems her from deplorable poverty. Gleaning was a back-breaking job: 12 hours under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal. Boaz makes the decision to improve her lot significantly.
We can, therefore, ask God in prayer to drop “handfuls on purpose” for our ministries.
I call it the money mantra. We are continually being reminded that money makes you happy. And more money makes you happier. And so, lack of money is just plain old misery. It gets said so often that it’s widely believed.
Just look at all the fancy homes in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills. Inside there is divorce, unfaithfulness, drug addiction, alcoholism, arguing. They must be happy.
Judas decided that he had gamed Jesus long enough and that it was time to cash out on his confidence. The Saducees wanted Jesus dead. Judas had access. He could lead them to arrest Him. And they paid him handsomely for this little piece of intelligence. He must have been happy.
But then something happened that doesn’t fit into the money mantra. Judas hung himself. Well, let’s forget that because money makes people happy.
Or maybe there are things in life worth more than money.
The Israelites were experienced with deserts. For forty years, they tramped to and fro until their bodies lay scattered across the Sinai wasteland. Elijah and John the Baptists headquartered their ministries in the desert. Some people actually think brown is beautiful.
But the rest of us are enchanted with lush paradise, a pine-covered mountain cut by a waterfall, a Hawaii island with rich volcanic soil great for growing pineapples. God promises to turn brown into green.
Jehovah Jireh promises to turn the unproductive land into a championship garden. If your ministry is going through a financial desert, God makes the waters flow. He fertilizes and transform sand into loam.
Where sand swirls in dirt devils today, a gurgling rush of water will empty into a pool ringed by greenery. Pray and believe towards that end.
Many historians say it was not the Russians or the Americans who won World War II but it was the Greeks. After all, the trouble they caused to the Nazi War Machine mired them down and slowed their blitzkrieg into Russia.
It’s not worth to live by cowardice. Make a brazen move to live for God, and stick to your guns. Don’t just let the evil powers dominate your life, your ministry. Stand up and fight — in prayer! Are we not fighting for people’s freedom (from Satanic domination)?
For his bravery, Santas was condemned but never caught by the Nazis. He was canonized as a hero, not only for the Greeks, but for freedom-fighters everywhere. Dare to stand for what you believe. You can run away from troubles until you die, but history belongs to those who act.
Crisis reigns in Israel. Not only have they lost the Philistine war, the ark of the covenant, Israel’s one great treasure, has been captured. Now, it lies deep within enemy territory, in their temple, a tribute to their god, a mockery to the one true God. True believers are in disgrace.
But when there is absolutely no hope, God’s not panicked. Instead, He uses the hopelessness to glorify Himself. The first night His holy ark is in a pagan temple, he makes the idol Dagon bow before it.
When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. — 1 Sam. 5:3 NIV. The Philistines don’t get. They think it’s a fluke.
But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. — 1 Sam. 5:4 NIV.
Things are about to get worse, and the Philistines grow terrified. The message is clear: You don’t make a trophy of the one true God to honor false gods. That is what the Philistines learn.
The Israelites learn that God can act alone, without any human intervention. At the end of the story, the Philistines send the ark back to Israel voluntarily. There is no military raid to recover it. No high-level diplomatic negotiations. No agreement to exchange war prisoners. To the Israelite perspective, it is starkly an Act of God.
Maybe you need an Act of God for your desperate circumstances today. Instead of wringing your hands, fold them in prayer. Instead of anxiety, let quiet trust reign in your heart.
God doesn’t need you. He needs only your prayers.
Now, greatness is sharing the Word of God over breakfast at Fromin’s Delicatessen in Santa Monica with a few early risers. It is a privilege.
Your view of greatness is your vision for life.
Hannah bore the misery of powerlessness. Childless, she cringed under the withering scorn of those around her and even doubted the love of her husband. There was nothing she could do about it — no fertility doctors back then. In prayer, her lips quivered so bad that the chief priest mistook for a drunk woman.
Powerlessness is the story of salvation. We are absolutely powerlessness to fulfill the law and earn our way to Heaven. So Christ came down from Heaven to do it for us as a man. Powerlessness, then, is the essence of Christianity.
So don’t be overly distressed in a moment of utter powerlessness. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong — 2 Cor. 12:10 NIV. Powerlessness is the stage call the Powerful One. He will appear on scene and vanquish all things that have cornered us and deprived us of our dignity.
Hannah’s prayer got answered. Silencing her rival, she gave birth to Samuel the prophet — and a few more kids afterward. Her rancor turned to rapture.
Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter your educational level, the economic level of your city, how supportive your spouse is, what side of the railroads tracks your on, or even what color of pajamas you wear at sleepy time. God can prosper you irregardless.
The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master — Gen. 39:2 NIV. Joseph prospered in SLAVERY. (I doubt your circumstances are so bad.) The key was God, not all the accouterments that we commonly attribute to success.
Since God is no respecter of persons, anyone can have Him. You just need knees. In other words, bend your knee to cry out to God in prayer. God can prosper you anywhere, anytime, anyhow, anyway, any whatever. If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep praying. It will.
If a slave could fly high, so can you! God can bring lushness to the most unlikely of places!
Contrary to pulp flicks, being brave is not a matter of being feisty, having an untameable shock of flaming red hair and shooting arrows. No, being brave has to do with being in ministry without any finances — and staying in ministry.
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. — Psm. 27:14 NLV. When you can’t take your kids out for even an ice cream, you gotta be brave to get behind that pulpit. When their shoes are worn out… When the last date you had with your wife was when her hair wasn’t turning gray…
The Bible exhorts patience — and bravery. Did you ever think patience was bravery? Well, it can be. Be still, trust, wait on the Lord. He will be your deliverer.
So don’t just laugh watching a princess be brave. Be truly brave in what is no laughing matter.
Big, small, horrible, terrifying – all kinds of problems led to all kinds of miracles. The bigger the problem, the bigger the miracle. The worse the problem, the better the miracle. The more desperate the problem, the more glorious the miracle.
Are you going through tough financial stuff? Start by praising God for the shortage. That is faith. Praise Him for the problem because a BIG miracle is coming. Today you are anguished, tomorrow you will laugh with joy. Start laughing today, rejoicing in what God will do tomorrow.
You can’t see how God will answer. If you could it wouldn’t require faith. And the people of the Bible couldn’t foresee answers either.
Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a HUNDREDFOLD, because the Lord blessed him. — Gen. 26:12 NIV (capitals mine). The prospect of this verse thrills the heart. You can a hundredfold increase, if and when, God moves.
Make no mistake with the math. That is NOT a 100% increase. A 100% increase is a “twofold” increase. No a “hundredfold” increase is 10,000% boon. TEN THOUSAND PERCENT.
Wow! That’s a lot. For every seed, Isaac planted, 100 grains grew. Normally more than one grain grows per seed — but not a hundredfold. This is the moment that Isaac got rich. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy — Gen. 26:13.
Let me make the following observations. This multiplication didn’t happen every time Isaac planted. He spent many years planting and reaping a regular harvest. But he kept at it, kept believing, and one day without warning, God super-blessed him. It was a sovereign miracle of God.
Which leads us to the following conclusions: God can bless you sovereignly at any surprising moment. Maybe you have been slogging along, faithfully serving the Lord for years (like Isaac), and when you least expect, He’ll drop a blessing bomb — and you’ll be sleeping in the cash. You’ll be preaching to the multitudes.
So today pray for a hundredfold multiplication. Look for it expectantly. Persevere until you receive it. Never stop believing.
When Abraham vanquishes with 318 men the entire armies of four kings, he is met by the king of Sodom, a figure of Satan. Revealingly, the king says, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” — Gen. 14:21 NIV.
Sound simple enough? You deserve a reward for bringing back my people. Keep the money. Actually, that is a wrong interpretation.
The true interpretation would be: I don’t give a fig about the money. Give me the souls, because I am leading them to Hell, and only they are valuable. Remember, the king was responsible for promoting all the sin of Sodom.
Can we learn something from the devil?
As you strain under the financial pressures in ministry, buoy yourself with thought of what you’re doing it for: the souls of men. The souls of men are true riches. Satan knows it. Jesus knows it; he bought our salvation with his agony on the cross.
What is at risk are pastors and ministers. Do we know the true value of souls? Every time a pastor cashes in and trades ministry for a secular career, the devil howls with delight.
This blog is about praying with faith for finances. You can see great breakthrough, as I saw in Guatemala. But you also need to maintain the right perspective. Money doesn’t matter, what matters are the souls of men.
But God doesn’t measure success by finances. He measures success by souls — and just ONE SOUL is incredibly important to him. Now as far as finances go, if you have barely enough to scrape by — and you are ministering to at least one soul — then by Bible standards and by God’s standards, you are a success.
So stop bumming over worldly comparisons that intrude and impose on the church. Jeremiah certainly didn’t have a lot of “members in his church.” And Paul knew how “to be in need… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” — Philippians 4:12 NIV.
Cheer yourself up! As you pray for finances, believe and wait. God will provide enough — maybe just enough — in His timing. As long as you have one soul in your church, you are providing a valuable service, and you’re a hero for Heaven. May scoffers shut up. God doesn’t measure by worldly (American) measures.
Elijah called down both fire and rain from Heaven. You call down finances.
Into the drought, Elijah brought rain through his prayers. Onto the water-saturated sacrifice, Elijah called down fire to consume it. Later when his life was threatened by an enemy army, he prayed fire down from Heaven in self defense.
Into the drought of recession and shortage, call down finances. Onto your sacrifice of praise, call down the fires of revival. In self-defense against the devourer, call down the all-consuming God.
Phillip explains the impossibilities. Eight months wages would be needed to feed the multitude. It’s as if he’s telling Jesus, who’s moved to compassion again, to NOT be unreasonable with his desire to feed hungry thousands. Then in direct contradiction to his colleague, Andrew dares to venture a crazy idea: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” — John 6:8.
Andrew risks the ridicule of his fellows. He risks rebuke from Jesus for his unreasonableness. Why mention something that is obviously not a solution? Andrew risks with faith, and in the end avoids both ridicules and rebuke. Instead, it’s as if Jesus congratulates him.
Though tentative and unsure of himself, Andrew hits success. People are willing to risk for business. They risk for sports. They risk getting an STD. They risk addiction and alcoholism in the name of fun.
Why not risk for faith? Why not dare to begin to believe. You might be surprised to find you please Jesus and He takes up your venture of faith as His own!
Here’s the difference that prayer makes: When I first went to work as a missionary in Guatemala, I worked HARD. But nine out of 10 things went wrong; only one went right. I assumed this was the norm for a pioneer work.
After years of toiling thus, God changed the make-up of my day. He got me praying more — more time, greater intensity. I was frustrated with spinning my wheels. I realized that working so much was yielding so little. So I kind of gave up on my workings and asked God to work instead.
The result? Nine out of 10 things worked, only one went wrong.
Then I got my Big Dream — to buy a large church building that also housed the school. That never would have happened under the old scheme of me working — even if I labored intensely for a couple more decades. No, this came about suddenly, powerfully — you could say, effortlessly. Why? Because more effort now went into prayer, less into wearing myself out with human activity.
Don’t get me wrong now. I’m not talking about lazy pastor sipping soda in a hammock. I’m by nature a workaholic, and there was always plenty of work for me to do. I am saying that I wasn’t skimping prayer in favor of a needless workload. Prayer became my priority, not just an accessory to ministry.
So, do you want nine out of 10 successes or failures? Do you want your Big Dream? Then let your knees hit the ground and pray.
Sarah laughed at Abraham. A generation mocked Noah. No doubt, the other prisons gaped incredulously at Paul and Silas as they sang hymns while their fresh wounds dripped blood. These were all dumb to believe.
Lord, give us dumb faith. Grant us to believe — in the face of scorn.
Of course, there’s a difference between “dumb faith” and just being unwise. Grant us the ability to know the difference. Without balancing this teaching, I want to extol “dumb” faith.
Sarah gave birth at 90 years of age. Her laughter of unbelief turned into laughter of joy. Noah spent 100 years building an ark and telling people the reason why was that it was going to rain and flood the Earth. It had never rained previously. The Earth was watered a mist that covered the land. No wonder they didn’t believe him. He was dumb to believe.
Paul and Silas look out of their minds. Their wounds evidently hurt. And they’re there singing away happily. Did they appear to be drugged up?
Dumb faith is the answer to ministry’s greatest frustrations. It keeps you giving up hope, when any “reasonable” person could see clearly. When finances lack and obligations loom, dumb faith gets the miracle of money. When challenges are staggering, dumb faith keeps you from despair. It is quiet and childlike.
So let others laugh. You are good company — in company of Biblical heroes. They believed when it appeared to be dumb to believe.
So it was natural that the Israelites would complain: Why did you bring us out here in the desert – to die? There was no identifiable source of food out there in the God-forsaken desert. Just scrub brush, sand, rocks, sun – lots and lots of sun. Wind. Where were they going to get grub from? Slavery in Egypt was bad. But dying of starvation was certainly worse.
But God is NOT practical. He operates outside of our dimensions. He is NOT limited to logical sources of income. When he provided manna for the Israelites, he manufactured it — out of thin air. Einstein taught E=mc2. The equation tells that material can be converted from energy and the speed of light. I don’t know if God used Einstein’s equation. But when he brought angel’s bread, he conjured it out of nothing.
This is the kind of miracle we need. We need money for ministerial urgencies now. Where is going to come from? Out of thin air. Don’t be discouraged about impossibilities. God will bring in the money you need, and you needn’t worry about the origin of the money. He can make it out of thin air.
What do you do when God appears to say no? Bartimaeus kept asking. In fact, he yelled all the louder (Mark 10:48). The Canaanite woman didn’t get mad. She said, “Yes, but…” Jesus tested her strongly. First he didn’t even talk to her. Then He mistreated her. She kept insisting. Even the “dogs” get crumbs off their masters’ tables. This impressed Jesus. “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted,” he said (Mat 15:28).
It’s hard to know when “no” is truly and definitively “no” from God. So if what you are asking for doesn’t contradict the Word of God, keep asking and patiently believing. You could ask for something that God won’t give you. But the other extreme is worse: you could lose heart and faith and stop believing.
With 10 years of literary worked planned ahead, Fyodor Dostoevsky got into argument his sister over their aunt’s inheritance, he burst an artery in his lung, and within a few days he died. He had just completed his masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov, a 1,000-page novel that confirmed his genius and earned him financial stability, for the first time in his life.
Then he lost his cool — over money — and lost his life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Money is small stuff. It ONLY helps you do what you need to do: Eat, drink, pay rent, buy clothes, pay for gas, continue in ministry. Don’t stress over $$$.
If you have lost in this recession, relax. In Sierra Leone, Christians eat only one meal a day — because they can’t afford more. Life expectancy is 30. Recently an American doctor saw a Gambian with body aches because he walks 5 miles to and from work. The doctor told him: “You need to buy a bike.” The man replied, “I don’t have money to buy a bike.” If you are reading this, the simple fact that you have access to Internet says you’re doing much better than many Africans.
So count your blessings, don’t regret your losses, don’t stress about your debts, enjoy life, employ wise stewardship, pray for more finances, continue to pay your tithe, don’t lose your focus on ministry, and CHILL OUT about money. Money’s not worth dying for.
Certain defeat changed into the spoils of victory. SO MUCH TREASURE IT TOOK THREE DAYS TO GET IT ALL? SIGN ME UP!
Jehoshaphat feared the vast advancing army of allied nations. But God prophesied victory, so the Jewish King deployed the praise worshipers first for battle. When they came to the enemy camp, treachery had divided them, and they destroyed each other.
Jehoshaphat and his men didn’t even have to raise the sword. All they had to do was swoop on the spoils. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount … more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. — 2 Ch. 20:25 NIV.
Pray for God to turn your crisis into celebration, your lack into luster, your shortage into glut, because this is what He does. Pray and praise — and watch God bring the turnaround.
He rebuked the religious leaders aplenty, BUT his strongest and most frequent rebuke TO THE CHURCH was for its lack of faith. Over and over again, Jesus is reprimanding, not the disciples’ fleshliness or lack of spirituality, but their lack of faith.
There is a different focus here! While we denounce lukewarmness, Jesus is losing patience for shortness of faith. Re-read the Gospels and decide for yourself if our message coincides with Jesus’ — if we give the same amount of time and space to what was of interest to our Lord and Savior.
Now I’m certainly not saying we can’t rebuke sin. But what I am saying is that probably we don’t give enough emphasis to having faith. What percentage of the Gospels (stuff directed at the disciples, not the Pharisees, Sadducees and other bad dudes) is eliciting greater faith? It almost looks like the greatest sin (for Jesus) is to come up short in the area of faith.
In truth, there is a profound lesson here. We need to have more faith. Focus on increasing your faith. When you pray, don’t whimper. Proclaim with faith, ask with boldness.
How to discern between need and want? Your Father knows what you NEED before you ask him. — Matt. 6:8 NIV (my caps)
Undoubtedly, finances are the fuel for ministry. You will be limited in outreach opportunities by lack of resources.
But where finances have lacked most, the gospel has spread most. The church in China exploded in the 1980s and ’90s with growth while they had precious few pennies.
A leader needs great wisdom. And he needs contentment with what God has granted. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with praying for more finances for ministry.
My son yesterday told me we need a shed. We need it for the bikes, and now for a beginner’s surfboard. Bikes were stolen out of our backyard, so we are stowing them inconveniently overnight in the church. But we’re renters without a lot of money, so a shed may not be the best option.
We Americans always “need” something else. The new IPad. A new car. New clothes. I used to be a missionary on a shoe-string budget. Sheer lack helps to distinguish true needs. When are “needs” in truth only “wants?”
Are we blinded by despair? The resource was there all along. Hagar cast her son under a bush in the desert and wandered off howling. She refused to see her son die. God responded with mercy. He didn’t CREATE water — say, out of a rock. He simply SHOWED her the water that was right under her nose, so to speak.
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. — Gen. 21:19 NIV
Is the resource you’re desperately crying out to God for, right under your nose? It may very well be. You are driven to despair and can’t see any way out of your problem. The compounded frustration blinds you to the solution. You have the resource — God has provided. But you can’t see it.
Don’t pray today for resources. Pray that God opens your eyes to see the resource you already have and are not using.
Hagar’s son, Ishmael, was saved. He went on to become a great nation. And contrary to condemnations from all sides, he was blessed by God. Somehow, he formed part of God’s plan. His descendants, the Arabs, need salvation just like every other sinner in the world.
Droughts are painful. Droughts can bring death. Nobody likes those times when finances are short, attendance is down and trials outnumber blessings. We can whine, complain, blame God and even quit ministry.
During the times of drought, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: Droughts DON’T and CAN’T last forever. Just pray for the end of the drought and hang on.
Joseph oversaw seven years of grain distribution in Egypt during a drought. Those seven years came to an end. Elijah prayed for three-and-a-half years of drought. They came to an end. The early church’s persecution came to an end.
The devil tries to get you to quit in a season of drought. He reminds of a time when your wallet was flush with cash, when you weren’t doing ministry. He wants to get you to sell out on the Almighty God in search of the Almighty Dollar. Don’t quit. Hang on until the end of the drought. Rain will come. God will prosper you again.
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. — John 6:6 NIV
Lack is only a test. We need to learn to get an A.
Multitudes are coming, and Jesus casually asks Phillip how they’re going to feed them. Phillip failed the test. He said eight months wages wouldn’t buy enough food. Phillip saw the lack with human eyes — not with eyes of faith.
How do you see your need? You pass the test when you see your need with eyes of faith. Thousands were fed as Jesus multiplied food miraculously. Don’t despair with your circumstances. Jesus can multiply whatever you need. As missionaries in Guatemala, we scraped by month to month. We always had just what we needed. Don’t doubt God. Your crisis is just a test. You need to pass the test. You will keep receiving tests until you learn to pass it.