04 Jun, 2013 What is God’s provision?
What is God’s provision?
This project has been helpful for our reflection on on this because we have, thus far, had a remarkable absence of donations from wealthy individuals. I have no explanation for this, other than God’s orchestration for a purpose. But what purpose?
[One…] One is that this leaves our finances as a reflection of how many believers at the grass roots have donated. If the average donation is about $200, the level of actual support can be gauged. As such, while some churches have come behind this strongly, a great many continue to sit on the sidelines either not seeing it as a part of their responsibility and mission, or continuing as sceptics. There is a lot of support, but not yet enough for it to be said that God’s Church in NZ have corporately backed this. We continue to pray, believing this project to be something we could all stand with to witness before our nation to God’s presence and hope. Our ideal scenario is many smaller donations, like those we are receiving.
[Another…] However, there is another possible reason why we don’t have many larger donations yet. Maybe God has more things planned for we who are involved in putting this together, and thus wants to teach us a few things through this first experience. Specifically, what is GOD’S provision? This is a comparative statement, comparing to the provision that can come by human means and efforts, which might be God’s provision, but equally could be the result of humans with generous hearts being inspired by inspiring individuals.
[A protest from my heart]
One of the ‘protests’ in my heart has been that finance cannot come only as the result of motivation leadership combined with expertise in leadership techniques and perspectives… This is not to demean expertise in leadership. Those who know me will know that I believe we must do our very best for the Lord. However, I think there is human element here that is worthy if reflection. I look at comparisons in provision, such as a mission work that helps a great many, struggling to find $50,000, then compared to a small church that does very little for those outside of its walls that operates on an annual budget that is greater. We have thousands of churches, and very few ministries sharing the gospel of hope with New Zealanders, and ridiculously limited funds in some of those few ministries. I am unconvinced that the provision in the local church is always God’s provision, as compared to the humanitarian or gospel effort that falls over due to lack of funding. I wonder if human perspective and dynamics are at play as much as Divine provision.
[The protest continued]
As another example which is maybe more telling, consider the many tens of millions spent annually on our church buildings. The buildings are needed, and every organization in our nation needs buildings, so this isn’t wrong. But consider a church constructing a building for $2m, yet struggling to raise more than $10,000 for mission. Certainly 90% or more of most churches funds are spent in-house (I don’t think I know a Church yet – outside of the non-pastored Brethren – who gives away more than 10%). Churches also protect their givers, and rightly so. There are many people who’d love to raise funds for many things. Boundaries are needed. But the discernment regarding which needs are brought to the awareness of donors could also be human. Such things are unavoidable in this world, and little is gained by dwelling on them – except for the self reflection of church leaders with regard to how our own influence is directed.
So, what is Gods provision?
It is, very simply, that which comes from God. Put differently, it is that for which we trusted God, as compared to trusting our communications, promotions, and inspirational motivations to get people behind it. This is made most clear when funds are looking to fall short, and we’re being encouraged to run at great pace chasing possible funding sources. Is our trust in the sources, or do we have peace and rest in our souls because our trust really is in God? I am not saying we should not use leadership skill that we have, or give efforts to fundraising. Rather, to caution us to look at our hearts. Where is our hope and trust? With good communications, promotions and motivations many churches can raise money they need for their projects without God. This is worthy of consideration. In taking a faith step, we may not realise how little faith we have. We may feel stretched only because we’ve not raised such an amount before, when in reality what we are doing is not far removed from what is humanly possible. Secular organisations raise large sums for things too! What would faith in finance look like if this human dynamic were appreciated? We take care of our buildings and salaries first, and missions only after that. What if we were to do this the other way around, so that – after everything has been spent – the shortfall affects our buildings and salaries? Neglecting to give money away as a Church is easy – we just say, there wasn’t enough. Justifying what we do is always also.
(To give you a vision of something great, brethren churches in the past had no pastors. As a result nearly all donations went to Christian work and mission. Would it be possible to structure churches such that 50% could go to works beyond the church and it’s own ministries? What if we saw ‘moderate’ building renovations as ‘part-and-parcel’ of Church life – achievable within the normal generosity of a people with vision, and ‘saved’ our faith to raise similar amounts for outreach work? 50% is a high and difficult ideal – but a worthy kind of vision!)
[Application, as it relates to me]
For us with the Hope Project (www.hopeproject.co.nz), we are reminded through our journey that God’s provision is Gods provision. Even if all others were against us, if God were for us, the provision would be there. (…noting the exception where God might respect the choice of His people to see a project like this fall over if they choose that through choosing not to give. However, this possibility now stands in contrast to our prayers, which are for it’s success because people outside our churches need this).
Our efforts and trust are not in our communications, or our promotions through the Roadshow, or our ability to be motivational, capturing the hearts and imaginations of donors… Our trust is in God who can make springs rise up in the middle of deserts, and trees to grow where there were only dessert sand. He can cause provision to come from any direction, with or without His people. As the Scriptures say, He stores up the wealth of the wicked for the righteous. Even without gifts from His own people He can still fund the things we stand in faith for, fitting HIs will. If He is for something, no plan or effort of man can thwart it. If He is allowing us to choose, then our actions determine the outcome (which may often be the case). And if He is against something, no effort of man can make it succeed.
Lord, we look for Your favour to see every home in our nation hearing a clear message, because this is our mandate, because the possibility of this is remarkably before us, and because a great many have not heard this message in words they can understand. We surrender all our efforts – which have yielded many smaller donations, but not yet the amount needed- and leave our trust with You. While we will seek to walk in wisdom, we will not become flustered by the various things that people suggest we should do, or should have done, because we have genuinely sought to walk its wisdom. We trust that our best efforts, combined with faith in You, will prove sufficient, because Your provision really is Your provision. Thank You that we do not have to be concerned. Our deadline looms. You do not call us to be rushed or flustered. Our hope is in You. Amen.
Amazing Scripture of promise
“The poor and needy week water but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them. I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and rivers in the midst of valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree. I will set in the desert the cypress and the pine, and the box tree together that they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.”