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February 2, 2017, 11:11 AM

The Time We Started Giving Less to Church

           Confession time.  There was a time Nicole and I decided to give less to the church.  I felt terrible because it was recently, and I was the Senior Pastor, and I felt compelled to set a good example of giving even if no one knows what I give.  (Giving at BSLC is kept confidential).

            But we had good reason to give less.  It was May 2015 when, by our own choice, we became a single-income household.  Nicole quit her job as an RN to “stay home” (which really means “to work around the clock at home”).  We decided to sacrifice her income to gain better family time and to better manage our life.  That’s a tough balance for every family to find, and we can certainly relate to the joys and struggles of both a two-income family and a one-income family.  Maybe that’s a great topic for another time.

            When we made the decision, we had to do some number crunching first to see if we could make it work.  We recouped much of her lost income by deleting childcare from our budget.  We found we could hack our restaurant spending, which is shockingly high for anyone brave enough to add it up.  We ditched cable, which was a blow to our (then) 10 year-old Royals fan.

            Because our income was going down, and because the numbers still weren’t quite balanced, I wrestled with the amount of our giving to BSLC.  Nicole was not absent from the conversations and final decision, but she acknowledged that this should be my call.  But I vacillated back and forth.  If God calls us to proportionate, firstfruits giving, it makes sense that if our income goes down, our giving goes down proportionately, right?  But I’m supposed to set an example of faith.  What to do?

            We had to make it work for the family.  Plus, I knew that the important thing wasn’t the amount given, but rather that an offering is 1) an act of trust, 2) a sacrifice of thanks, 3) a firstfruits gift, 4) proportional to income, and 5) for the sake of the work of the Gospel.  So, I asked God to provide, prayed for forgiveness if this was the wrong choice, and then reduced our giving to BSLC at first.  I vowed to myself I would raise it as soon as I could.

            It was sooner than I thought!  After only a couple months of reduced giving, I saw that we were making it work and we were doing ok.  In casual conversations with people about the change in our life, I would tell people joyfully, “We’re still paying all our bills!”  It wasn’t easy, and Nicole works very, very, very hard at finding deals, and saving money while still providing everything the family needs (she’s a true Proverbs 31 woman!).  And so, we decided after only a couple months to put our giving back to where it was before.  We have increased it from there, especially when we made our pledge in 2016—a pledge of regular, firstfruits giving to BSLC, and a pledge of over-and-above gifts to the “Growing up in Every Way” project.

            Now, the van broke a few times, and we fixed it.  The furnace broke a few times and then died altogether.  But we got that fixed/replaced too.  The boys outgrew their clothes and we had to buy more.  And they keep eating and eating and eating!  But God is good, and he amply supplies all we need.  We haven’t missed out on anything, really.  Even our Royals fan is fine.  Our life is as full as we could imagine.

            Two lessons we learned in the process: 1) We should have been giving more before.  We could have afforded it, easily.  We could have made a few more sacrifices and we wouldn’t have missed out on much.  We could have had a greater joy in giving earlier.  2) When God says he’ll take care of you, he truly means it!  I’ll share this detail with you, not to gain attention but in order to challenge you to believe it is possible: we are giving more now (in percentage and amount) than when we had two-incomes.  And we are glad to do so for the glory of God and for the furthering of the Kingdom.

            Friends, please take this in the way I mean it.  I am not boasting, except to boast in the Lord.  And notice that I did not share even a hint of a dollar amount, because that’s not the point, and that’s only between you and God.  If all you can give is one dollar, it is a beautiful gift to the Lord.  (Recall the story of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44).  With that one dollar, you can say “Lord, I trust you will provide.  You have richly blessed me.  I want others to receive help, and especially to hear the Good News of Jesus.  Please receive this humble offering of thanksgiving.”

            Do you dare to believe that all things are possible with God?

 

Still learning these joyful lessons,

 

Pastor Jon


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