God is Creative: With Each Individual on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10 (NIV)

Comparison to others can destroy how we see God’s beautiful creativity in us. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had most of my life is with low self-esteem. Regardless of the circumstances of why, having the wrong sight to who I was in Christ held me captive to not seeing how God could fully use me. I saw the creative workmanship of God in other people with their gifts and talents, but would personally have a woe-is-me attitude, feeling as though God had forgotten me. That is obviously Satan’s lie, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t destructive and hard to overcome.

When you are on the support-raising journey, it means you are working toward the goal of being used by God for the works He has prepared in advance for you to do. This is an amazing thought. God has known all along where and how you are going to be used by Him in particular ministries and is equipping you to do them. We may have to fully rely on Him, but He doesn’t leave us unprepared. Think about the passions and the gifts you have that led you to do what you are doing. Even for spouses, who may not have an official title, God gave them special gifts and talents to glorify Him. God never forgets even the smallest details.

This is an important truth to reflect on, because the support-raising journey is a great avenue to worship for how He has created you. Conversations and speaking engagements give perfect opportunities to share with others the handiwork of God and how He is using the gifts He has given you. This attitude helps to combat the feelings that Satan throws our way of “maybe I’m not good enough” or “look at how God is using someone else.” This allows you to truly discover beauty in the details of His craftsmanship and give Him praise.

  1. List the specifics gifts, talents, and desires God has given to you.
  2. Prayerfully offer them to God to be used for His glory.

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God is Jealous: For Our Attention on the Support-Raising Journey

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

The jealous are possessed by a mad devil and a dull spirit at the same time. Johann Kaspar Lavater. This is a fascinating quote that shows the human perspective on jealousy. Quote after quote that I read about this trait showed it in a negative light, and apparently all we are supposed to do to cure this ill-fated curse is to throw in a little love. The reason why we feel this way is because human jealously tends to consist of coveting someone’s belongings, positions, beauty, etc., which usually ends in some kind of anger, bitterness or betrayal. This makes it hard to understand the purity of God’s jealousy.

My daily Bible readings have been taking me through the stories of the Old Testament. I believe one of the qualities of God that always strikes me the most as I read through the details of the offerings and cleansing ceremonies is His holiness. Our defiled bodies can’t even be in His presence without a sacrifice of atonement, yet He always provides a way for us to be cleansed. Hence why we needed Jesus. God knows that our greatest joy can only be found in Him. Therefore, God is jealous for us to experience Him to the fullest. That is an honor.

I think God’s jealousy is not often thought of on the support-raising journey, yet the distractions are great—busyness, laziness, lack of funding, pride. How ironic that money and deadlines take top priority and become the all-consuming force on our path to be used by Him. When this happens we become very inward focused. Our prayers become self-serving—Lord, help me to get the money fast. Our motivation in conversations is to see how much money we can get and are disappointed if it doesn’t go our way. It isn’t because we are worshipping ourselves when this happens, but we’re certainly not worshipping God either.

God is still jealous for our attention no matter what we are doing. It is for our own good, and we are to seek Him above everything. He knows when other things pull our focus off of Him, then we become stressed and begin to doubt. We must trust God in the path He has laid out for us and glorify Him. That way, no matter the outcome, our eyes are on our trustworthy God who loves us enough to do whatever it takes to get our attention.

  1. List ways to keep your focus on God and practice it when you find yourself becoming stressed.
  2. Trust God who loves you and who is jealous for you to experience His goodness in all areas of your life.

God Wants Our Prayers: To Saturate the Support Raising Journey

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV).

Our world has become more or less a people who’ve forgotten how to pray. One-liners and quick passing thoughts have become the norm, yet in our selfishness, we want God’s immediate response in our favor as soon as we need something. The things happening to the fabric of society are in direct proportion to how we are praying against the enemy’s schemes. We’ve resorted to a people who want God as our back-pocket buddy to whip out when it’s convenient, as opposed to being alert and praying in the Spirit as we trust a loving God who desires an intimate relationship with us and knows what’s best—even if it hurts—for His broken people. This type of relationship only comes by being in the depths of the truth of Scripture and prayer.

As society is saturating our churches—which should be the other way around—the way we view money is also affected. We want quick fixes. Look at all the Christian self-help books about raising support. You need money, so get it now, and here are the steps to do it. Money is obviously the need when we’re raising support, so we storm ahead with worldly approaches and concepts to make sure our needs are met. However, have you stopped to pray for the need of money to do your ministry? I mean really prayed, not just—Well, I know God knows my need, so I’ll offer up something to cover that base—then go about with the business of trying to persuade people to give to you.

If Christians got on their knees to pray again, think of the difference it would make in our nation, families, churches, and while raising support. We don’t have to resort to coercive tactics and making conversations uncomfortable. We have a Daddy who knows our needs and is waiting for us to give our full attention to him as we ask for what He already has for us, So as we pray, we must always remember that He has our best interest in mind as He uses our circumstances to transform us into the likeness of Christ.

  1. Truly pray and fast for God to lead you to the right people to join your ministry.
  2. Look for opportunities to praise God as you see Him moving in your life and support-raising journey.

*First posted on Godandelephants.com on January 5, 2017

 

God is Our Gift: Our Reason to Celebrate While Raising Support

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).

Christmas is definitely the time of year when materialism reaches its peak; however, the more monetary abundance we have as a people, the more we have an “I-want-it-so-I-am-going-to-get-it” attitude. Throughout the year people have a hard time passing up sales even if it’s for things they don’t really need, and many go into debt over things they assume they want. This microwave, immediate mentality has made us forget what it’s like to receive the blessings from a true gift.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds were given a glimpse into the spiritual realm as a whole host of heavenly angels were revealed to them, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. The angels knew the magnitude of this event—In one moment, with one baby, the world would never be the same again. Praise God!

This same celebration of the angels continues to this day as people encounter God’s gift He so willingly and lovingly gave to us. Luke 15:10 says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” God may never open our eyes to the celebration that’s happening in heaven like He did for the shepherds, but His impact on lives is seen everywhere.

May we not get sucked into the “must-haves” of this world—many of which can, ironically, interrupt the support-raising journey. We may have thought that God would bless us with a lot of money so we wouldn’t be in want. We may have thought we would be further along in our ministry, or even that we wouldn’t have to suffer. All these things come from a human perspective that can blind us from missing the true Blessing. Let this season that celebrates the birth of Jesus re-kindle our desire to take the true Gift to the world no matter the cost.

  1. Thank God for your supporters, because they are on this journey of carrying God’s gift to the world with you.
  2. Don’t grow callous, but stay in tuned to God’s impact in the lives of people. Remember, angels are celebrating.
  3. Be satisfied as to where God has you.

*First posted on Godandelephants.com on December 13, 2016

God Wants Our Prayers to Saturate the Support-Raising Journey

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

Our world has become more or less a people who’ve forgotten how to pray. One-liners and quick passing thoughts have become the norm, yet in our selfishness, we want God’s immediate response in our favor as soon as we need something. The things happening to the fabric of society are in direct proportion to how we are praying against the enemy’s schemes. We’ve resorted to a people who want God as our back-pocket buddy to whip out when it’s convenient, as opposed to being alert and praying in the Spirit as we trust a loving God who desires an intimate relationship with us and knows what’s best—even if it hurts—for His broken people. This type of relationship only comes by being in the depths of the truth of Scripture and prayer.

As society is saturating our churches—which should be the other way around—the way we view money is also affected. We want quick fixes. Look at all the Christian self-help books about raising support. You need money, so get it now, and here are the steps to do it. Money is obviously the need when we’re raising support, so we storm ahead with worldly approaches and concepts to make sure our needs are met. However, have you stopped to pray for the need of money to do your ministry? I mean really prayed, not just—Well, I know God knows my need, so I’ll offer up something to cover that base—then go about with the business of trying to persuade people to give to you.

If Christians got on their knees to pray again, think of the difference it would make in our nation, families, churches, and while raising support. We don’t have to resort to coercive tactics and making conversations uncomfortable. We have a Daddy who knows our needs and is waiting for us to give our full attention to him as we ask for what He already has for us, So as we pray, we must always remember that He has our best interest in mind as He uses our circumstances to transform us into the likeness of Christ.

  1. Truly pray and fast for God to lead you to the right people to join your ministry.
  2. Look for opportunities to praise God as you see Him moving in your life and support-raising journey.

God is Our Gift: Our Reason to Celebrate While Raising Support

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Christmas is definitely the time of year when materialism reaches its peak; however, the more monetary abundance we have as a people, the more we have an “I-want-it-so-I-am-going-to-get-it” attitude. Throughout the year people have a hard time passing up sales even if it’s for things they don’t really need, and many go into debt over things they assume they want. This microwave, immediate mentality has made us forget what it’s like to receive the blessings from a true gift.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds were given a glimpse into the spiritual realm as a whole host of heavenly angels were revealed to them, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. The angels knew the magnitude of this event—In one moment, with one baby, the world would never be the same again. Praise God!

This same celebration of the angels continues to this day as people encounter God’s gift He so willingly and lovingly gave to us. Luke 15:10 says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” God may never open our eyes to the celebration that’s happening in heaven like He did for the shepherds, but His impact on lives is seen everywhere.

May we not get sucked into the “must-haves” of this world—many of which can, ironically, interrupt the support-raising journey. We may have thought that God would bless us with a lot of money so we wouldn’t be in want. We may have thought we would be further along in our ministry, or even that we wouldn’t have to suffer. All these things come from a human perspective that can blind us from missing the true Blessing. Let this season that celebrates the birth of Jesus re-kindle our desire to take the true Gift to the world no matter the cost.

1. Thank God for your supporters, because they, too, are on this journey of carrying God’s gift to the world with you.
2. Don’t grow callous, but stay in tuned to God’s impact in the lives of people. Remember, angels are celebrating.
3. Be satisfied as to where God has you.

God Exists in Community: Our Example on the Support-Raising Journey

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22 (NIV).

 There is a pain in my heart over the friends we have lost while on the support-raising journey. It’s the awkward avoidance of our phone calls or never returned emails because they think we’ll be asking for money. Sadly, most of time we’re contacting our friends just to get together, but they’ve become so fearful that we’re going to put them on the spot that it’s easier to avoid us than to continue the friendship. Although Jason and I have never made high-money demands in conversations and have only let our need be known, we still wish we had a different mindset when we first started fundraising—one that was more concerned about creating an environment of worship than one set on the philosophy of speed. Since we changed our way of thinking, it has made our conversations more glorifying to God, and He has still brought us the money needed to do the ministries He has called us to do—with our relationships intact!

Since we’ve been on this journey for over nineteen years, we have realized that the real focus of raising support isn’t about our needs being met. This statement probably makes you think, “Um, Heather, the whole reason why we raise support is because we need money in order to be used in a particular ministry.” Of course you have monetary needs, and they should be made known and goals worked toward. The error comes when whole philosophies are written with the premise that we build relationships and make high-money demands in order to be fully funded and make it to our ministries as quickly as possible. Therefore, raising support becomes all about us, and as I’ve experienced, this can have a devastating impact on relationships—the opposite of what God intended.

In John 17:22 Jesus declares through His prayer that the reason for being in complete unity with one another is “to let the whole world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Obviously, believers are to unite as one in our spiritual communities and in our church families so that others can see Christ’s love in us; however, there is no asterisk by this verse with a footnote that suggests that the support-raising journey is supposed to be any different. In fact, I find it fascinating that this entire journey is set up as a team effort where we are to work together for the purpose of letting God’s love be known here and around the world. This means that our needs should not be what drive this journey. They are only a secondary purpose that God holds in His hands. A greater purpose is for us to grow as one in order for His glory to be known in the world. We accomplish this by leading people into worship and providing opportunities for them to join God in His work.

God exists in community, and wants that for us as well. He has provided everything we need for this to happen—His glory. Therefore, instead of making our needs the primary focus, let’s not miss the opportunity to let Jesus’ prayer be ours during this time. Let’s be one, a reflection of who God is, in order for others to know the truth of Jesus’ love.

  1. How can using this prayer as your own change the dynamic of your support?
  2. Pray for God to take your focus off yourself during the support-raising journey, and look to Him to accomplish His work through your team.

 

God is Omniscient: As He Takes You on Your Support-Raising Journey

You have searched me, Lord, and you KNOW me. Psalm 139:1

One of the most intimate words in the Bible is the word “know”—God knows me—yet so often I take that for granite. I know a lot of things, or at least I think I do! However, because of my own limited knowledge of the future or of even of everyday things, I unconsciously project that lack of control and fear onto God.

When God asks for our obedience, He rarely gives us the sequential steps until we’ve taken the plunge of trust. It’s obviously not because He doesn’t know what is ahead, but too much knowledge of our future can be a detriment. If I had known we weren’t going to be able to move to Tanzania after our support-raising effort, I would’ve never begun the process in the first place. He holds the steps, shielded in His hands, in order to position us where we need to be, not so that we can take a peek and get what we want or expect. It forces us to trust, so that we can be used by God and have the greatest impact.

The beautiful message of Psalm 139 is that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. However, the support-raising journey has left me, at times, feeling like my life was out of control, like I was abandoned, and even like God really didn’t know what was best for me. Of course none of those things are true, but anxieties arose simply by not trusting God.

God created us with specific talents, passions, and dreams to be used by Him, and often these desires and giftings are what drive our choices. The great thing about God is that He designed it that way, so we can delight in Him all while be used for His glory. However, there are times when we obey, yet it feels as though God missed the mark as we are left floundering in a place that doesn’t seem at all like He knows what is best for us.

What we have to remember is that God doesn’t just know us intimately in the moment. He knows the future us and is continually molding us into the image of Christ. All the circumstances He takes us through fit together like one big dot-to-dot puzzle. Whether we obey or go astray, God is connecting each blip, until we one day stand before Him as His completed masterpiece. This beautiful, eternal picture is how intimately God really does know us. So, let’s look past our circumstances, see ourselves for who we are in Christ, and trust an all-knowing God with each of our steps.

  1. Make a list of your talents, passions and dreams, and praise God for how He created you.
  2. Be willing to sacrifice those talents, passions and dreams for Him, knowing that He knows you so intimately that He is shaping you to be like Him.

God is Our Provider: Our Source of Contentment on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Contentment is the foundation for understanding the truth that God is our provider. One day I was watching Fixer Upper, and when the show got to the “big reveal”, I actually found myself tearing up—not out of joy, but out of jealousy. We live in a home that’s almost a hundred years old and is in need of some fixing up. I imagined what an additional $50,000 dollars could do—money we don’t have—and the more my mind wandered down that path, the more discontent I became. In that moment I wanted to trade places with that couple and understand what it was like to have all my house dreams fulfilled. Needless to say I have to greatly limit my HGTV consumption in order to combat house envy!

By no means do I think people shouldn’t fix up their houses. That’s between them and God. However, I do know that contentment can be hard on the support-raising journey and our perspective on God’s provision can often become skewed. On the surface this journey seems pretty black and white—when you get money quickly, God provided for your needs. When you don’t get the money, you probably did something wrong; therefore God isn’t going to provide the money until you get it right. Well, maybe people don’t say it quite that bluntly, but when someone works hard and the money still doesn’t come, then you can only imagine how a black-and-white formula can rattle that person’s trust in God as the Provider.

So, how do you stay content on the support-raising journey with the demands of dollar figures and deadlines? During the difficult times my husband and I have had while working hard raising support, God provided in ways we never expected. We just had to look past the traditional thought of how God provides for our needs, which taught us to look past the dollar figures, in order to see what God was really doing in our lives.

As you work hard to meet an overwhelming schedule, take the time to recognize God’s true provision. Maybe it comes in the form of lots of money quickly—I hope so! However, it may come as food and shelter provided by in-laws (that’s what happened to us) or a free car or even a deep conversation from a friend at the exact needed moment. God shows up and takes delight in giving His children gifts. We just have to notice them for what they are. Instead of setting our minds on what we think we need, allow God to provide for our true spiritual needs. You can’t help but to be transformed when you recognize His goodness!

  1. What are some non-traditional ways you’ve seen God provide on your journey? Praise Him for those things.
  2. Pray for contentment no matter what circumstances He is taking you through.

 

God is Unchanging: In the Ever-Changing World of Raising Support

 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews13:8 (NIV)

My prayer has always been to make myself available to be used by God in whatever way He chooses. For me personally, He has given me a path that consists of a lot of change. Maybe as a result of living off support for over nineteen years, I’ve often dreamed of what a life of stability must be like. I have friends who have grown up in the same area, gotten a job right there with a steadily growing income, and haven’t moved in over twenty years. Most of their kids and grandkids will more than likely do the same thing. Boy, I think to myself, wouldn’t that be nice! In the twenty-one years that my husband and I have been married, we’ve moved twelve times, a lot of them being major moves and to five different ministry settings.

Our last move literally about did me in. Through lots of prayer, I knew it was the right decision as God orchestrated all the events to jumpstart us in that direction, and then provided miraculously for our support. However, it didn’t make it any easier to pack up our house once again, say our goodbyes, and be uprooted after settling, I thought, for the last time. Being used by God isn’t necessarily easy.

I’m sure that just about everyone on the support-raising journey can attest to the fact that raising support doesn’t feel like a very stable endeavor, as its whole reasoning is based on change. You are giving up a regular income in lieu of one provided by others as they are directed by God. Whether you are physically moving or not, you are preparing for a new ministry. You’re growing in the role of being a worship leader as you help others see the need to join God in His work. All of these things, even if they’re good, can be stressful.

If this is the case, then what does God’s immutability mean for us in the ever-changing arena of raising support? More than anything, I believe it keeps us grounded in an eternal perspective. Because God never changes, we can trust Him to hold our ups-and-downs and keep us persevering toward the bigger picture. All the moves I make and changes that come my way are nothing in comparison to eternity where I get to be with an ever loving-never changing God. Whatever path God gives you, you can trust that all things will work for God’s glory.

  1. Worship God for all His unchanging attributes.
  2. Pray for God to continue to use you no matter the changes.
  3. Pray for the grace to trust Him through all the changes that will come your way.