The Testing (and Strengthening) of My Faith through Support Raising


So as I'm sure by now y'all know, back in October we announced that after lots of prayer and counsel and careful consideration we really sensed the Lord directing me into ministry at our church, Midlands. In order for that to happen though, I would need to raise support...$45,000 to be exact. That $45k would serve as my family's primary source of income. Vanessa and I (and more so Vanessa) will also do real estate on the side to bring in additional income for us to be able to meet our normal annual budget we've been living by over the past years, as well as hopefully bring in some extra money as we continue working towards financial goals we have set for our family.

Other than sending financial support to family, friends and acquaintances over the year I don't have any other experience with support raising...especially trying to raise it myself. (Well I've done the whole raise a few thousand dollars for some summer youth mission trips but those certainly pale in comparison to this type of support raising). With that said, by the Lord's might, and power, and grace, and mercy and kindness, since I started raising support back in October, as of today, I've raised around $30,000 (in one time gifts, plus people committing to give money on a monthly basis, or in the near future). From what I'm being told by people who have lots of experience raising support, that's amazing to raise that much in roughly a 3 month period. Again, this is my first time personally raising support of this magnitude, so I don't know any different. But I do know and have seen how hard and long those friends have worked to raise support over the years, so I'm inclined to take their word for it.

I'm of course blown away by God's provision. But I've also been blown away by the generosity of so many. All the support I've received so far has been mind boggling. Some support has so many zeros at the end that it's hard for me to even comprehend, while other support has come from people that I know has meant they are having to tighten down financially in other areas in order to give their financial gifts, and some support has come from people I either barely know or honestly don't know at all. It truly has been humbling and astounding.

Because of the support I've raised so far, I've had enough to allow me to go ahead and begin working at Midlands from November through January. And I've loved it. I love being in this environment. I love the people I work with. I loved working at The Mather Company for the last 6 years, but think that was more so because I loved that I got to work with my best friend pretty much every day, and it was fun experiencing building a real estate company from scratch to eventually having employees and agents in a large building in prime location in downtown Columbia. But working at Midlands Church is different. I feel like I'm in my element here. I truly believe God has wired me for an environment like this.

Over the years when I've talked with people about what I want to do with my life, inevitably the question comes up 'What do you love and how can you make money with it?' When we get to that point of the conversation my standard response (more like a joke) has been "I love Jesus, my family, music and Gamecock athletics, and I don't really know how I can make a living with those things". But honestly, here at Midlands Church I'm getting to satisfy 3 of those loves.

I love that throughout the day at the office we talk about Jesus. We talk theology. And not just in an academic sense, but in a personal sense. We share with each other and encourage each other to pursue Jesus and grow in a deeper love for Him. We also do a lot of planning throughout the week as we discuss church events, programs, etc. And it's not in a numbers sense (how many people can we get there and say that got saved), but how those things will 1) edify our church body and help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, and 2) reach our local neighbors with the gospel of Jesus.

As Director of Family Discipleship my job is to be thinking through how our church can help train and equip the parents in our church to disciple their children. We firmly believe that God calls every Christian to be a discipler. We are to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. But God also specifically calls on parents to be the primary discipler of their children. In our society it's really easy to lose sight of that one...especially when churches take that responsibility on themselves (and therefore take it away from the parents). So sadly kids Sunday School classes and youth groups often times end up becoming a place that parents view, not just as free childcare, but where the primary discipleship and training of their children takes place, rather than in their own homes. And really that's the churches fault. As church leaders it's our job to 1) show parents, through God's Word, that discipleship of their children is their primary responsibility, and 2) train and equip the parents so that they actually feel ready to take on that responsibility. In doing this 2 things have happened. 1, I've realized how poorly I've been leading my family, and by God's grace it has lit a fire under me to strive to lead them better. And 2, a deep, and honestly viscous, desire is growing within me to see healthy and godly family units.

Family discipleship isn't just doing some devotionals together at night throughout the week. Family discipleship is living and modeling a good, godly and healthy marriage to your children. It's demonstrating, yes on a smaller and broken scale, what it means for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves the church, and for a wife to respectfully submit to her husband. It's demonstrating repentance to your children. When you screw up, own it and confess your sin to your family and pursue repentance. Show your children you must be willing to do whatever it takes to kill sin in your life. It's showing them an unconditional love, even when they screw up, so that they can get a glimpse of the truth that there is nothing we can do to cause God's love for us to diminish. While also lovingly disciplining them so they know there are consequences for their actions.

Since taking on this position a fire is growing inside of me. I passionately want to see the city of Columbia, my city, filled with family units that are brightly displaying the light of the gospel. When trials and hard times present themselves to families, rather than responding like the world does and fleeing from the trials, I long to see families faithfully walk through the fires and storms knowing that God will sustain them. I long to see husbands and wives remain committed and faithful to each other. I want to see children growing up in homes where their parents joyfully embrace the call to disciple them.

As Director of Worship I get to be around music, and I love it. I love each week being able to devote time to reading God's word and selecting the songs we will sing each week. I love trying to find songs each week that lyrically connect with whatever the text is that will be preached each Sunday. I love that with this position I'm able to pull out my guitar and work on music. And of course I love seeing it all come together on Sunday mornings and getting to play music with other really talented musicians, who all have a similar heart and desire to want to see Jesus increase and us decrease.

So as you can see, I love what I'm doing. So what does the title of this blog post have to do with what I've just been talking about? Well, as I mentioned earlier about my support, I have enough raised at this point to ensure that I will be paid my full monthly salary for January. But that's it at this point. And that's honestly a scary feeling.

So the purpose of this blog post is 1, to ask those of you reading to support me financially. I only have roughly $15,000 to go. If 150 people each gave $100 that would get me to $15k. Or if 15 people gave $1000 that would also get me there. I need $15,000 to get me to my goal so that I can continue serving at Midlands Church full time. Of course I covet your prayers. So please keep me and my support raising in your prayers. But if you are financially able to support me, I really need that help as well.

The other reason I am posting this is because I wanted to share this blog post I read last night. Even though I knew my current support was beginning to run dry, yesterday I was reminded of that. And to be completely honest, I was pretty down after that. The doubt started to get in, and I was beginning to question the Lord's plans. Writing this blog post has done good for my soul. It has forced me to remind myself what God has done up to this point, and I'm just reminded again that this is absolutely where He has called me to, and if this is where He wants me to remain then He will allow the remaining support to come in. But back to yesterday. Like I said, I was beginning to feel down and discouraged. I ended up coming across this article and through it the Lord encouraged me.

With the dawn of the new year I decided to do one of those read through the Bible plans. So the other day I read in the book of Exodus, and specifically it was the actual exodus part, where Moses and the Israelites finally left Egypt for good. Interestingly, when they leave it says that God didn't lead them through the land of the Philistines because the Israelites would change their minds if they saw the war (Exodus 13:17). If you didn't know, going through the land of the Philistines would have been the most direct route. But instead God led them around toward the Red Sea (Ex 13:18). God then reveals to Moses His plan saying for the people to encamp in front of the sea. Doing that will lead Pharaoh to say the Israelites are lost and he will decide to pursue them (Ex 14:1-4). And of course we all know what happens next. God performed a miracle by parting the sea, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground, and then drown the Egyptians.

So I read that the other day, but at the time didn't really connect the dots. But last night the Lord connected those dots. God led His people on a route that didn't make sense. But He did it in order to test and strengthen the faith of His people. The writer of the article I read said:
"His ways are not our ways, are they? His ways are higher than ours. And they’re wiser than ours. And they’re better than ours (Isa. 55:8–9). Remember this, child of God: our Father often acts unconventionally. He likes to choose the unseen path for his people to walk. But he always has a way to save. Sometimes it’s through the sea. He’ll always provide, but often from sources we would never suspect (1 Kings 17:8–16; Matt. 6:25–34). God is faithful, but he’s rarely predictable."

I was really comforted and encouraged when I read that. The reality of it is, God could allow the remainder of my support to come in in the blink of an eye. But perhaps the reason He doesn't do that is because it might be the equivalent of me going through the land of the Philistines. The Israelites were terrified by the report of the spies they sent into Canaan, and that was after experiencing some pretty amazing things (Red Sea parting and God allowing them to defeat some enemies while wandering in the desert). So if that terrified them, can you imagine how much worse they would have likely responded coming face to face with the armies just after leaving Egypt? They absolutely would have ran back to Egypt. So who knows. Maybe if He let my support come in all at once, I might end up losing sight of Him? Or maybe (and probably likely) He wants to continue stretching and strengthening my faith for what He has in store. I don't know. But I am sure of this. His word tells me that He is good, He knows my needs and promises to always meet my needs (and often times exceeds it), and His ways are not my ways but His ways are so much better for me. Even though I want to doubt, as I look back over my life, and even the last 3 months, I'm reminded that God is not a liar. He has never not once fulfilled what He promises to His children. I'm sure it was scary for the Israelites feeling trapped between a sea and the Egyptians. But I also can't imagine the awe and wonder they felt as they passed through the sea on dry ground, and then the exhilaration and relief they likely felt watching their captors be utterly destroyed and washed away.

I don't know how God is going to provide. But I am certain He will. Maybe it will be some crazy miraculous way, or maybe it won't. But I know He will provide, and through his provision He will display his glory.

You can read the article I referenced here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.