It is that time of year heading into November we will meet to adopt a budget for 2010. Your ministerial & support staff, finance committee, and church counsel have a system in place for the stewardship of God’s resources here at Calvary. We have done a thorough job of preparing our budget for 2010. This is a detailed and lengthy process of review and revision that began back in June of 2009 to be ready in time for our November Church in Conference. The product of these hours of labor is included in this edition of “The Way” newsletter. You may be like me and when you see the bottom line, your heart begins to race, palms may begin to sweat, and some panic begins to settle in on your frugal soul. Your first thought after you catch your breath might be something like: “What in the world are they thinking? We’re not meeting our budget now!” If you don’t have that thought, check your pulse or brain to make sure you are still alive, if those check out, then ask the Lord why you are not more concerned about His church. See that’s the thought I had in all honesty and I was involved in the process! Once my heart rate goes back to “normal” (whatever that means) and I got over my little wave of panic that I’m the one who has to stand before the church to ask for approval of this budget, the Lord was quick to remind me of three things…battles, blessings & budgets.
First of all, the Lord wants you and me to remember the battle we’re called to wage each day personally and corporately. It is a cosmic battle against Satan and the forces Hell to win souls and to make disciples of them for the Lord Jesus. That is our mandate, it is our mission and commission directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave everything He had to secure the final victory over Satan and his crowd, and we have been given the awesome privilege and responsibility to be about the Master’s business to go and make disciples. When we remember the reason we’re doing what we do, the battle if you will, we have a cause like young shepherd David who went out and slew the giant Goliath. As we think about the stewardship of God’s money in 2010, we must remember the cause, the battle for souls and disciples.
Secondly, we must remember the blessings. You see God’s financial program of the tithe and offering makes no sense whatsoever from a rational point of view. But God has ordained a system that the first 10% of our income, the tithe, is commanded to be brought to God’s storehouse, the church on the Lord’s Day. This tithe (10%) is non-negotiable and was the minimum requirement in the Old Testament. God’s people also regularly gave “offerings” on top of their tithe because of gratitude to God for His blessings. New Testament giving is “grace giving” routinely over and above the tithe out of gratitude for the Savior. What a believer is saying when they give the tithe and the offering is they trust God with their finances and they are dependent upon Him to supply. The good news is God has promised to bless His children when we obey in this spiritual discipline. In Malachi 3:10, God promises “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” I’ve learned in my lifetime, God is faithful to His promises and I cannot out give God. So remember not only the battle, but remember the blessings of God’s promises and provision for His church and your family’s support of God’s work.
Finally, we must remember the reality is that a budget is nothing more than a goal, a target that we’ll aim at in 2010. It in no way means that we’re actually going to spend all of that as we never spend more than we receive and just because we have resources doesn’t mean we spend it. For example, if we plan to have to replace a copy machine that we use to send you this newsletter, but the thing just keeps working, we don’t spend that money. This is evidence of the next verse in Malachi 3:11 “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes…” In other words God is saying if we’re obedient with our tithe, He’s promised to stretch our resources further! The other thing to remember about a budget for church is that it is our vision of what we’d like to be able do to further God’s kingdom. If the money is God’s and it is, then what we’re saying with our budget planning is “Lord, this is what we’d like to do for the kingdom this next year, will you provide this for us?” It is a faith budget for sure, but through our many different processes to arrive at this budget, we believe we’re being realistic with it.
I pray these thoughts on battles, blessings and budgets will be helpful, from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church