God is Truth: Our Lifeline on the Support-Raising Journey

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matt. 14:29-30 (NIV)

Do you truly believe, like Mary, that nothing is impossible with God? I am actually more like Peter in the fact that the thought of God’s miraculous power over the impossibility normally lasts for about a second—long enough to get out of the boat, but not long enough for me to walk all the way to Jesus. As soon as I recognize the storm I just hopped into, I flounder and whine, leaving Jesus to say, “You of little of faith. Why do you doubt?”

Raising support requires us to jump out of the boat, and staying on the journey requires us to maintain our focus on Jesus the entire way. The unfortunate irony of the support-raising journey is that we’re often conditioned to keep our focus on the money aspect. However, this is like telling someone to stare at the impossibility of the waves, instead of trusting that God is the One who called you into the storm and has power over our circumstances. One of the things we learn from Peter is that we sink when we take our eyes off Jesus.

The way I keep truth in the forefront of my thoughts is through a practice of praying back God’s attributes when Satan lies to me. When I doubt that God is listening to my plea, I pray back verses like 1 Jn. 5:14 or Ps. 116:2. When Satan tells me that I’m abandoned or alone, I pray back the truth of Deut. 31:8 and Heb. 13:5-6. Whatever storm comes your way, the truth of God’s character is found in Scripture. Declare that over the situation.

God asks us to not only to get out of the boat but to also keep walking on the water. In order to do that, we can’t let anything take our focus off of Him. Trust in His truths today, and allow Him to make the impossible happen.

  1. What lies are you believing? Look up verses that tell the truth of God’s character.
  2. Allow God to strip away the areas of your life that take your focus off God.

God is Our Healer: The Story of Glory on Our Support-Raising Journey

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ John 9:1-3 (NIV)

The Pharisees were focused on the wrong thing. They saw a blind man through their own eyes, and with this human perspective, they clung to a false narrative. It was one that spoke of pity for lack of sight and blame for the punishment of being born blind. Their own sight was clouded and kept them in ignorance to seeing a greater picture. For you see, the world needed healing from their blindness, and God chose a blind man to be an instrument for His glory. What irony!

This picture of healing is not necessarily hard for me to understand on the surface, but actually a little uncomfortable when I have to put it into practice. On the surface I say, “Praise God for His miraculous healing!” While putting it into practice, I say, “Poor blind man, he grew up without sight. Think of all the things he missed seeing for all those years. Why did God have to do that?” The truth is, God often has us walk hard paths in order for His glory to be revealed.

The world doesn’t understand the support-raising journey. Sure, we give to charities, we help people out for the betterment of living, and some people even tithe to churches—sadly, the world often uses giving to make them feel better about themselves. But when it comes to people asking them for money to do ministry, it is increasingly becoming a foreign concept.

The support-raising journey is not a punishment from God because we couldn’t get a better job or even a sad burden for us to bear. Sure, it’s a hard path to have to walk, and we can take a woe-is-me attitude; however, the world is blind to missions and the work God is doing right among us. Have you ever thought of it as an instrument to display God’s glory?

  1. What false narrative are you walking on the support-raising journey?
  2. What ways can you display God’s glory on the support-raising journey?

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.

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 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 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 Praiseworthy: As You Lead Others on the Support-Raising Journey

“And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” Isaiah 6:3 (NIV)

 I have several aunts who have no money but who faithfully pool together whatever change they can find and send us a check every several months. It may not be a huge amount, but it’s always the biggest blessing received at our exact moment in need. Inside the gift they always offer words of encouragement and thank us for allowing them to be a part of God’s work. They get to be a part of something that is much greater than what we do. We are just a receiver of their earthly gifts as they praise and worship God our true Provider.

Worship is meant to be a corporate act. Yes, we can certainly worship God by ourselves, but the richness and depth of it is felt in community. That’s why I feel it’s so important to teach those who are raising support to be worship leaders. God has given each of us a team of people who are worshipping God through their prayers and finances. Therefore, this journey is not about us at all. It’s about God and what He is accomplishing through us.

With this knowledge taken to heart, I think we all need to examine our focus while raising support. Is it on money or on God? If all of life is an act of worship, because God is worthy of our praise, then that means worship doesn’t stop when we are in need of money. In fact, I would venture to say that raising support gives us an even greater opportunity to worship because of the people God has gathered around us and the magnitude of the job He has ordained us to do.

This scene in Isaiah 6:3 has always baffled my mind. Creatures I can’t fathom even with Isaiah’s description are shaking the thresholds and doorposts of the temple with their shouts of praise. It’s amazing what happens when our eyes are fixated on the holiness of God and unite our voices in worship of Him. All hell will shake and tremble as people fall to their knees in awe of our Father. We have an opportunity to do just that!

Use the support-raising journey for God’s glory and bring people in praise to the One who is worthy.

  1. Be in awe of how God has created you for your ministry.
  2. Lead others into worship out of that awe.

God Listens: As He Accomplishes His Will on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (NIV) Psalm 34:17

Twice I have felt God convicting me to take life-changing steps of faith, and when I obeyed, neither one of them turned out like I had expected—at all. When I found myself in difficult circumstances, I called out to God and questioned whether he heard my cries, or even if I had heard Him correctly. I fought, trying to get back any semblance of the life I had given up. I felt abandoned when I couldn’t piece my circumstances back together. It wasn’t until I changed the way I prayed that I began to understand that He had something more.

Jesus prayed in the garden, “Your will be done” (Matt. 6:10). He recognized that, although God was listening and deeply caring for His circumstance, it didn’t mean that God’s sovereign plan wasn’t the best and only way. In the end Jesus was obedient unto death for us. Throughout all of this, He never questioned whether His Father was listening to His hurts by saying, “Hey, now, why are all these people coming at me with swords and whips and such?” His sweet communion with His Father gave Him peace to do God’s will even in the midst of the storm.

Everyone should always pray for the Father’s will to be done, but honestly, I was missing the mark on that one. I wanted to be in the center of His will and tried my best to obey, but when my own expectations weren’t met (where everything turns out rosy), I got upset. This led me to question God as to whether He was really listening. Now I’ve learned to change my prayers to “Lord, help me to understand Your will.” That way, when I know I am in the center of His will, I can withstand anything. This takes communing with God on more intimate levels, which in turn, leads to deep-rooted trust to persevere through His plan. God is already listening. He is asking me to listen back.

The support-raising journey is a big step of faith to follow after God’s will that is often full of unexpected twists and turns. While we should work hard toward our goals, there is truly no way for any of us to predict how it will turn out. God simply asks for our obedience as He works out His plan. Know that He listens to our desperate cries every step of the way whether things are turning out the way we expect or not.

Fast forward a few years from my steps of obedience that didn’t quite look the way I wanted. God used those circumstances to put me in a greater position to be used by Him that was far more reaching than I could’ve ever had expected. My vision was narrow while His saw the entire plan. We might not understand the pieces to the puzzle in the moment when things are in disarray, but God really does care as He uses everything for His glory. Obedience, trust, acceptance—that’s what He wants from us as He continues to cradle us and listen to our every plea.

  1. Whether for the good or bad, are there things on the support-raising journey that have not turned out quite the way you expected?
  2. How have you seen God at work during this time?
  3. Expect God to do amazing things with you through your obedience to Him.

 

God is Faithful: Throughout the Bumps and Jumps of the Support-Raising Journey

 

“Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.” Psalm 119:90 (NIV)

The book of Hosea depicts Hosea, a loving husband, in pursuit of his unfaithful bride. God chose this poor prophet to literally play out His passion for Israel by telling Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute—that had to be a tough assignment.

Imagine the heartbreak of having to buy back your own wife, the one to whom you pledged your undying love, from the hands of someone who was using her for his own pleasure. Anguish is the only word that can capture the depth of that feeling, and it is out of this agony that, verse-by-verse, this stage is used to display the burning passion of God’s love for His people.

The Israelites were rebellious. Their ways were fickle as they chased after fleeting pleasure. When God satisfied them with blessings, they became proud and forgot Him. God poured out His anger and wrath against them, not because it was a lover’s petty tantrum but because it was The Lover’s way to bring them to repentance. He knew what was best for them, and even in His wrath, He stayed faithful in His covenantal love.

That same passionate and burning love continues for us. That’s why He grafted us into His covenantal love and strips away everything that distracts us as He continues to pursue us. In His love, He will be faithful. His ultimate desire is to grow in us a heart of obedience and devotion, because when we are obedient to God’s commands, it is a picture of our own love for God (John 14:15).

Here is when we often fail to understand God’s faithfulness. We have to realize that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our earthly assumptions of Him or our circumstances. The way God proves Himself faithful is through the fulfillment of His covenants, His promises. Therefore, while fundraising we need to learn to separate our hope of receiving our wants from the actual promised covenants of God. There is a vast gulf of difference between the two. If we put our understanding of God’s faithfulness in our assumptions, then we will always be frustrated and disappointed.

Understand that every path God leads us down, including raising support, is designed for us to witness and be shaped by His passionate love—thank goodness God didn’t put us into Hosea’s shoes! Therefore, God remains faithful even when support runs low. He remains faithful even when deadlines pass. He remains faithful when the money comes quickly and we leave sooner than expected. If we understand this, then our world will not be rocked and God’s faithfulness questioned when our expectations of what we think He should be doing aren’t met. Use the support-raising journey to grow in this truth and allow God to break you in order for God to fully use you. Because if you continue to be obedient, God will certainly use you.

  1. Notice how God is faithfully guiding your support-raising journey no matter the path and receive His love.
  2. Praise God that He is faithful to keep His promises.

God is Our Strength: Our Continued Promise on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28 (NIV)

Jason and I sat helpless in the hospital room in North Carolina where our ten-year-old son had been in-and-out of for three weeks. His symptoms were gradually getting worse, and as the days wore on, the doctors had more questions than answers for his condition. The more tests they ran, the less everything made sense. At that same time, Jason was making phone calls to some of our biggest supporters to reconnect with them and to let them know how to be praying, only to find out that each of them had changing household circumstances. That meant that in the first three phone calls we found out we were losing a big chunk of our support. Here we were sitting in a hospital room. Our medical bills were climbing, our support-account was dwindling, and two weeks prior to my son’s hospitalization, I had felt God’s leading to turn in my notice at the mission agency where I was working to help fill the shortfall of our support account.

Even if it were out of well-meaning intentions, if someone would’ve quoted Philippians 4:13 or Isaiah 40:29-31 to me at the time, I would’ve either cried or punched them—preferably only the former. I was exhausted, broken and confused. God’s strength felt elusive to me. However, I think that’s the problem with how we define God’s strength. His strength isn’t a “feeling” like you get with a caffeinated shot of espresso that wakes us up so we you can motor through our circumstances. It’s a promise that we have to claim, especially when we’re weary and worn out from life’s struggles. His strength rests in our eternal hope, not our immediate circumstances.

When you’re doing God’s work, whatever it looks like, you’re on the playing field taking direct shots from the enemy. No matter how short or long you’ve been on the support-raising journey, it’s certain you’ll have times when you’ll feel like you can no longer go on. Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Only when we’re still during the raging storm (Psalm 46:10) are we somehow bolstered by an unnatural strength that’s not our own.

I made it through that difficult season of my life. I literally cried out to God many consecutive nights and fasted until I was weak. However, somehow finding His strength when I had absolutely none of my own, drew me closer to Him. That is the same hope for you.

  1. Allow yourself to be real with God and tell Him how you really feel about everything you’re going through.
  2. Take the time to be still and discover a strength that’s not your own.