Responding to Whispers

My wife and I have been on a spiritual journey within the last few months. It has involved an amount of faith and expectancy that we did not know we were capable of displaying. This journey has been one pertaining to our finances.

If you know me well, you know that I love to talk about finances and how the real blessing comes from putting our full trust in God. For the most part, I feel like we were able to do this pretty well, but like any other ordinary hypocrite, it seems that God did not have full control of our bank account…he only had the authority to periodically audit when necessary. As a result of this, we have been struggling to get by, but failing to see that minor changes needed to be made. They were not big changes, but ones that have kept us falling short on a regular basis.

A few months ago, my wife and I set out on a journey to learn more about finances and to start the process of being better managers of God’s money. Since then, He has been prompting us to make hard decisions that would have not otherwise been the first choice on our list. We stopped putting our hope in credit cards, and started believing that God’s ideas were better than ours.

At first, God’s suggestions came as a small whisper (stop eating out as often, be more disciplined, you don’t need it just because you can afford it, etc), but I realized, the more I followed God’s whisper…the louder it became and the more I began to think like Him.

As we followed basic principles, prayed over our budget, developed discipline, and made a strategy for our life, my wife and I began to see overwhelming blessings in this realm. The bills began to be paid on time, anonymous checks showed up, unexpected refunds appeared, and we began to experience a peace that we have never encountered. I really feel as if God had been waiting until we learned how to manage His resources before major blessings would occur. I don’t care how good the theology is on that last statement…for me it has proven to be correct.

Well, my wife and I are still in the same income bracket…but what I have found is this… I would rather live in poverty with Christ than to be a millionaire without Him.

Somewhere wrapped in God’s small whisper…abundance is waiting to surprise you.

Respond to it.

-Landon DeCrastos

Fear Shaped Living

Why do we give God the credit when things go well? Do we think, for some reason, he orchestrated the event? Or, is it possible we feel that He heard our prayer and provided us with mercy and resources? When things do not go well, we pray that God will make it all better and say we trust in Him to get us though. In all these scenarios, we act as if God has some sort of power, and even loves us. This can’t be true… Why? Because sometimes my fear feels like fact.

Obviously, there is a level of sarcasm in the previous paragraph. There are not many people I know that would state these things out loud. An informal survey among people who call themselves church going Christians would yield great answers concerning the work of God. One would hear the amazing stories of how God has brought people through addiction, divorce, the loss of a family member, and even financial difficulty. In return and overwhelming majority would agree that God can be trusted and should be followed. They may even regularly talk about their pastor’s sermons and how he/ she has challenged them to give their whole self to God. There would be no disagreement with this…until it comes to actually doing it.

Here is the problem with following God. He has brought us through so much, has provided for us, and has even shown us miracles, but sometimes it is not convenient to trust Him. We love seeing the impossible made possible, but we would rather not provide the space for Him to do more than we could even ask or imagine. This occurs most often when we talk about finances. We acknowledge that God has given us these resources in the first place, but our behavior states that we cannot trust Him with them. Fear overcomes.

In today’s culture, the average Christian gives a little over 2 percent of their income to God’s kingdom. This is usually after all the bills are paid and it is deemed possible by our standards. In the same regard, we will pray fervently for God to bless our finances. How can God bless something we never hand over for Him to bless? It is like asking the mechanic to fix your car but never allowing the mechanic to look at it.

Truly trust in God today. Test Him to see if He actually keeps His promises.

-Landon DeCrastos

A New Standard Pt. 2

Missionally, churches exist to be a beacon of hope and a safe place for the community. One could look at the church as a spiritual hospital. Those who have wounds can come and their wounds can be bound. What happens, however, when the wounds a person carries was created by a church? I have heard stories of people who flee from churches because of the treatment they received because of their divorce, lifestyle, past, or even because the perception of being “money hungry”.

Let’s face it, churches ask for money regularly. For some, it is a concept that is second nature. Whether it is a bonus check at work, an inheritance, regular pay check, or any other source of income many people choose to give a portion of that money to the church. Others are not used to this idea and are even offended to think that this could possibly be an obligation.

In my other job as an office administrator for a church, I receive 10-15 calls a day asking for money for those who are behind on bills. I also receive the same number of calls from telemarketers wanting to sell me a new service or product that will enhance my life. As a Lead Pastor, I am also approached by people needing help…which I am glad to take part in.

In today’s culture the average Christian gives a little over 2 percent of their income to God’s kingdom (church or other charities).

What’s my point? If the Old Testament legalism says 10 percent, then aren’t we glad that the New Testament was written to get us off the hook? Wait a minute though…if what we learned yesterday is true, and Jesus gives his followers a different standard (care for the widow, orphan etc) then this would mean a different level of responsibility, right? Do you think Christ would say “still continue to trust in God, but not nearly as much as you used to…”?

The church may talk about money a lot…but so does every department store, infomercial, telemarketer, car salesman, shopping mall and magazine ad you come in contact with. Mission shouldn’t need a commercial.

Give extravagantly.

My next post will talk about what I eluded to earlier…a new standard for the way a church should welcome people…people with wounds and imperfections.

-Landon DeCrastos