A Deluge in the Bucket
“I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 4:18-19
At the end of a deeply encouraging appointment with a dear brother/friend from our church family last week, he reached into his pocket, handed me a folded check, and shared how he and his wife wanted to partner with the church in this season. As he shared his heart, he ended by saying, “I know that this gift is just a drop in the bucket, but we just wanted you to know how much we love our church family.” I promise to finish this story (major testimony), but first let me review our journey over the last year.
Next month will mark our being in our new church property on Townsgate for one year (April 23rd is our anniversary). Over these past twelve months we have witnessed several areas of new life, growth, breakthrough, and celebration. We have seen the Spanish Church blossoming as they moved to a larger room on Sunday mornings; the Youth ministry is thriving since moving to Sunday evenings and incorporating a focused format/program; we launched a new Women’s ministry which has had two highly attended and successful gatherings (earlier this month they had over 50 women at a fellowship brunch); we introduced Jessica Hinckson as our new Missions Director, as we look to make a greater impact in and beyond our city; we hosted over 150 people for the Newbury Park High School Boys Basketball Banquet; and of course and of most importance, we have had several individuals/families join us and become planted here at Shepherd’s House Church.
In all of this, one area that has not grown “yet” has been in church giving/finance. When we moved we believed that there would be an increase not only in attendance, but in the monthly offering, which is needed to cover the very real financial demands that come with a larger facility. This is not to say that we made a mistake, didn’t hear from God, or have any regrets. In fact, part of the evidence for our taking such a “faith step” was based on the abundant giving that increased our savings account literally one hundred-fold in a six-year timespan. Talk about a bountiful reaping and blessed confirmation! What a glorious thing that our giving over those years signaled us to the God heart and work of “Moving us BEYOND Oak View”.
As I briefly shared about the church finances in a recent message, let me state again that the next three months are quite crucial as we are believing for the Lord to provide abundantly. In this season of need we (myself, the staff, and our church council) have taken several diligent steps to be the best steward of the church resources: we have found places in the budget to lower monthly expenses (i.e.- printing/bulletins, healthcare packages, events with meals); we have sought counsel from other pastors/mentors; we have put in new systems to better track all expenditures; and most importantly we have humbly and fervently been seeking the Lord in prayer for direction and provision. Our job is to be DILIGENT, it is His job to DELIVER! Many times my prayer has been something to the effect, “Lord, we are bringing you our loaves and fish, may you multiply them. Lord, will are bringing you are empty vessels, will you fill them with oil. Lord we are bringing you are water, transform it to wine. Lord we are bringing you our need, send Manna from heaven and water from the Rock!” As 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things and at all times, having all that you will need, you will abound in every good work.”
I am sharing this reality again as I did on that Sunday, because the Lord is calling each of to do our part of contributing to and be a part of the celebrating in His miraculous provision. There are some who need to begin the practice of regular giving. For some there will be a move from giving to walking out the obedience of tithing (10% of your salary/income). For others there is a call (and ability) to give an offering that exceeds beyond the tithe. While for a few, there will be a call to give an extravagant gift that the Holy Spirit puts on your heart, as the Early Church did in Acts 4:34-35 describes, “For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” No matter where you fall on this list, I feel stirred that each one’s giving in this season is to make room for a “Bigger Townsgate”. Now back to the story…
As I left the restaurant and returned to the church, I opened the check to find a gift of $5,000. I don’t know about you, but being a pastor for over ten years, that is not a “drop” in the bucket, it is more like a “DELUGE”! What a moving gesture, what a generous gift, what a great sign of what the Lord will do! It is moving to me not just because of who gave the gift or because of the present need we have, but due to the fact I had thought the provision would come in a different manner and source. I am so glad God works in ways that are beyond my definition and expectation. So, as we move through the next three months, know that the Lord has already been stirring in hearts, providing for our needs (the last three months the giving has already increased), and will be faithful to His promise to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)