shifting numbers and our great unchanging God of grace

16 02 2012

Sorry for my relative absence here of late.  Last week I attended the truthXchange Think Tank 2012 (http://truthxchange.com) in sunny Escondido, California, after a weekend exploring San Diego, worshiping with believers at Harbor Presbyterian (http://www.harbordowntown.org), and standing in awe at the beauty of a city nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  On the way home I stopped in Rochester, MN, for half the L’Abri conference, and to visit good friends and a few Ukraine supporters.  I arrived home Monday, thankful for a good trip, and for numerous reminders of the overwhelming goodness of God’s grace for us in Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, MTW was revising my support budget for 2012.  Previously, I’d raised 60% of my monthly support, and 80% of my one-time; in their new budget, the amount of monthly support I have to raise has increased slightly, and the one-time amount decreased.  So I currently have 57% of my monthly support, and 87% of my one-time support.  I now need to raise $1,672 in additional monthly pledges, ($201 more than before).

Its tempting to be discouraged when I see my monthly support numbers shifting from 60% down to 57% due to having to raise an addition $201 per month.  But God hasn’t changed, he knew this was coming, and he will provide in his time and through your prayers.  My calling and task remains the same: reminding you that God builds his kingdom everywhere, by his grace.  Thank you for giving, for praying, and for participating with me in the work of making Jesus known to Kiev, Ukraine, and the entire earth.

The truthXchange Think Tank centered around the good news that God our Creator, who is separate and distinct from his creation, hasn’t abandoned it but actually came down, entered into creation in the Incarnation, and has made a way through the cross of Jesus that we might be re-united to God.  God is lovingly working to bring all things under the lordship of Jesus, and I believe that he will provide all my needs, according to the riches of his grace.

(The video below explains what truthXchange is all about.  Watch it, and then if you’d like to hear more the audio from the Think Tank is available on their website, http://truthxchange.com.)

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why giving matters

2 04 2010

Some people I’ve had conversations with about my being a missionary raising support for serving overseas have questioned whether individuals should give to support others in missions. There are lots of reasons why giving matters, but I want to look at just one: how giving benefits the giver.

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me … Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:10, 17, 18.

Paul is excited because he sees the Philippians’ gift as a sign of their spiritual growth. He understands that our hearts follow our treasure, and opening our wallets often indicates what we really value. Follow the money. Paul sees that the gift they sent indicates they are partnering with Paul’s ministry to make Christ known where he hadn’t been proclaimed: they are excited to see God’s kingdom growing, and their giving demonstrates their partnership in the gospel.

Two quick observations:
(1.) The fruit increases to their credit. Giving in response to Christ given for us in the gospel increases our joy in Jesus. Paul sees that in a real sense, the Philippians actually benefit more in giving than Paul in receiving.
(2.) The gift is offered to God, not to Paul. It is “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” As Paul followed the Lord’s call in his life, his real needs created opportunity for the people of God to offer gifts back to God by giving to meet Paul’s needs.

So, what does this mean for me as I invite you, my friends, to partner financially in sending me to Kiev? This time of support raising is ministry, not simply fund raising. I am seeking to give you and others the opportunity to grow spiritually and increase your joy in Jesus by giving to support his work in Kiev. I am providing you with an opportunity to worship God with your wallets. So pray and consider giving to support me in Kiev.

Because people are ultimately giving to God, not me, I am free to tell you about the opportunity to partner with me in the gospel and not worry about whether you’ll “reject me” or not. After all, its not about me, but about what God is doing. Perhaps you’re giving to some other ministry–great! God gets the glory. Perhaps you are not able to give because of pressing family needs or job loss- that’s ok, but please let me know so I can pray for your real needs. God works all things for his glory and for your good, if you love him. I have the joy of reminding you how Paul closes the passage above:

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Philippians 4:19,20.