Tag Archives: church finances

Finances for your ministry: a Vacation Bible School boon

finances for your ministryI don’t like expensive church activities, so when Brenda Bowen announced a $10/week vacation Bible school, I was overjoyed.

Brenda Bowen

Trained in utter poverty of African missions, Brenda Bowen delivered ministry that excluded no one from the salvation message.

There would be hardly any money for the snacks, the crafts and all the activities that were to be done. I was drafted for a couple of skits, one of which was clowns with my son and another boy. What fun!

But since God is great, the project finished with $80 extra — not the shortage I imagined impossible to avoid. This is God’s provision for His ministry.

If you are working to save souls, you can expect God to take care of you. Like Peter who hauled in a net-wrenching haul of fish when there were none in the lake, so God will multiply and make something out of nothing. When you pray for finances, believe and wait expectantly.

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Don’t expect the expected

No joke! This is what it’s like.

For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).

I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.

It wasn’t new, and it didn’t come wrapped up like this.

I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.

But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.

From the least expected place. God brought water — out of a rock.

When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.

The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!

Turn brown to green

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.

He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD
— Isa. 51:3 NIV.

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.

Leftovers!

You’ll like these leftovers! They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over — Luke 9:17 NIV.

The most overlooked detail is the leftovers. Five thousand men were fed with only five loaves and two fish. But don’t miss the detail that they wound up with more at the end of the meal than what they started with. In mathematics: 12 baskets > 5 loaves + 2 fish.

That’s God’s provision — more than enough. He gives you for the journey afterward. We marvel at the 5,000 fed; we tend to miss to cache of grub to be stored away in the refrigerator.

When you pray for finances today for your ministry, pray for enough for your needs and then some leftovers for future needs! That’s the kind of God we serve!

When you reap what you didn’t sow

Money is a problem for us, not for God. We quote to our kids that money doesn’t grow on trees or appear out of thin air. But for God it does. He can make money appear from nowhere.

I harvest crops I didn’t plant and gather crops I didn’t cultivate. — Matt. 25:26. Many know God as the “God of the Harvest.” But do you know that He is also the “God of the Harvest that He did not Cultivate” and the “God of the Harvest You did not Cultivate.”

He can bring a windfall at any time — usually just in time (it always seems late). The word “windfall” is derived from the Middle Ages, when peasants were forbidden to chop wood for cooking. When a wind whipped up, it often blew down the necessary firewood. It was called a “windfall.”

God’s Wind, his Holy Spirit, will blow finances your way. Just pray. God’s harvest of unknown origins will be reaped into your barn. Just pray. Don’t chafe under the mounting bills. Trust and keep working for souls.

Early flailings

I first started praying — really praying — when I got involved in the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica. They had 6:00 a.m. prayer for an hour every morning. I went because 1) it was expected of rising disciples, and 2) in theory, I knew prayer was effective.

However, my first prayings, I am ashamed to admit now, lacked faith. The first real answer to prayer surprised me. I was praying for Blanca, the middle of three sisters, who was in the world. I prayed six months for her to get saved. When she walked into the church, my jaw dropped to the floor. In my head, I said, “Blanca, what are you doing here? I thought you wanted to be in the world.”

To which, the Holy Spirit responded: “Weren’t you praying for her? Why now are you surprised by the answer?”

That’s when I stopped going to prayer out of obligation. From then on, I went because of conviction. I knew that prayer worked! Since I have seen thousands of similar answers. I am addicted to prayer like the junkie to drugs. I only wish I could help people to get the revelation for themselves. That is the purpose of this blog.

Surprise!

I make plans for God. I pray for Him to do what I want, when I want. Then He does something totally different, and it’s always much better. It’s a miracle that I could not imagine. This pattern is Biblical: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV

Go ahead and pray for the good things you want. But be prepared to wait for His timing. Be prepared for His answer, which may be very different — and inevitably better — than what you hoped for. We are praying to a God who surprises us. He pulls the most amazing things out of His hat.

Surprise me today, God. I bring before you my desperate needs. Don’t give me the answer I want. Give me the surprise You have for me. God´s surprise makes being a Christian a lot of fun! I imagine God our Father being very much like a loving earthly father, who is thrilled to see his son/daughter delighted by a surprise gift.

How Magic Mountain helped develop the Stealth Fighter

Very few people know this. Engineers at Lockheed’s secret projects Rye Canyon facility shot a radar at Magic Mountain’s Sky Tower, a rotating hexagonal compartment that ascends and descends for a panoramic view. The surprise? The tower was invisible to the radar.

And that is how engineers designed the Stealth Fighter with small flat triangular panels, all reflecting off into the atmosphere in different directions. If it had a rounded surface, the radar would pick it up.

You’ll be surprised what get when you shoot off into the heavens. When Lockheed engineers shot radar across the valley to the Valencia recreation park, they got something that could be incorporated into sophisticated military technology. When you shoot a prayer up to Heaven, God may give you more than you bargain for.

Risk with heart

from the movie "Secretariat"

Even her brothers and husband turned against Penny Chenery Tweedy. Confronted with a $6 million debt to the IRS, the family saw selling their racehorse stable as the only option.

But Penny had other ideas. She banked on a young thoroughbred named Secretariat, who though untested possessed promise. Her brothers tried to talk “sense” to her. It was a risk that would send the whole family into financial ruins if the horse didn’t deliver against incredible odds.

Penny was willing to take the risk. She prefered to face the consequences of failure over regretting not even trying. She decided to follow her instinct and gamble on Secretariat. It was her passion, her dream, her calling, and she wouldn’t go to the grave with a “safe and secure” life that left her wondering what could have been.

The real Penny Chenery

Secretariat became a racehorse legend, winning in 1973 the Triple Crown for the first time in 25 years. Some race records set by Secretariat stand unbeaten today. Profits flowed to Meadow Farm. Her doubters — those who told her to cash in and drop out of the risky venture of horseracing — were flabbergasted by her success.

Don’t be afraid to follow you call, your passion, your heartbeat. God will grant the resources. Detractors will arise; remain firm in your conviction. Serving God may be “risky,” but the payoff at the end will astound your doubters.

When Vicky married Mr. Trials

We want victories. We want to avoid trials. But victories are inextricably intertwined with trials. Do you wish to serve Jesus? You will have horrible trials that make you wish to return to the quiet life of before. But at the same time, you yearn for Holy Spirit revival. Gold comes out of the furnace.

After Job suffered unimagineable sorrow, he was blessed beyond measure. Jesus first had to be crucified in order to be resurrected. To triumph over death, He first had to die. They don’t teach this at seminary. But this is the path of ministry.

So don’t pray to avoid or even get out of trials. Pray for the victory.

Are finances short? Praise Him. Chances are that victories are just ahead. Pray for victories. When it comes to couples, they say opposites attract. I say that Vicky married Mr. Trials.

The worst year

We spent almost 16 years in Guatemala as missionaries. There were good and hard times. But it´s easy to remember the hardest year. It was the year I scrimped on prayer. No coincidence at all: I prayed less, and God moved less.

Somehow, I decided that I would help the kids with their homework during morning prayer. Bad decision.

What was once an hour of prayer because a few minutes. I thought I was doing a good thing helping my wife help the kids with their homework. But my priorities were wrong. I should have found ANOTHER time to help my kids without cutting down on prayer.

At the year´s end, things looked bleak. In hindsight, I scanned the shambles and assessed the problem: prayerlessness.

In later years, I wound up adding to my prayer times. Those were bumper crop years.

So are things not going well for you? Maybe you´re overworking —  to little or no avail. Keep in mind that when God works, things work. I know He works all the time, but it sure seems like He works MORE for us when we are praying. You might shoot me down in the realm of theology, but no one can shoot me down in the realm of practice.

Too much?

Prophet Nathan rebukes David for adultery with...

Image via Wikipedia

And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. — 2 Sam. 12:8 NIV

Honestly, I would NOT have expected God to say this. The Lord is enumerating the many blessings He gave to King David, including many wives. Why, He says through the prophet Nathan, did David take another man’s wife? David got Bathsheba pregnant and then arranged for the death of Bathsheba’s husband so that he could keep her.

Honestly, I would have expected God to be severe. But God is not overly severe with David. He makes room for grace. And what He says to David means blessings for you and me. I WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU MORE.

If only you would ask. If only you would go through legitimate channels. If only you would believe. God does not reproach us for requesting more. He doesn’t scold us to be grateful for what we have already. He freely offers MORE, if only we would ask in prayer.

The devil aims to discourage you. Mr. Red Suit bombards you with a continual rant of “stop asking for more.”

But God says, Ask for more. Ask and keep asking. When do we have too much? Apparently, it didn’t occur to God to declare that David had too much.

When do we have too much? When everyone on Planet Earth is saved. In the meantime, ask for more without fear that He will deny your request.