Budgeting Radically

I’m taking time away from reading a book that has started to shift the way I think about stewardship to write about how it has already begun to impact my life. As I sit in my comfy bed with a bunch of fluffy pillows and cotton sheets I realize just how blessed I am. Not only to have my needs met, but to have an overwhelming abundance of excess. I have never been the best at “saving” my money, in fact some have said I have always had a “hole in my pocket”. I have spent my paychecks on wasteful things such as, an Xbox, IPhone, Macbook, my first car, etc. I always knew the value of a dollar because I always had to pay for my own stuff, but, I didn’t know the power that stuff had over my dollar.

In April of last year I felt God pulling me away from my cushy job at a bank making nearly $2,000 a month, and the training for my impending raise was less than 3 weeks away which would have increased that total by another $400 a month. I knew that God was calling me to do something greater, something that also had to do with investments but these would be far greater. Ones that would last forever. I knew when the words, “devoted christians don’t wait, they just go” were muttered from the preachers mouth that Sunday God had placed him there as an instrument to get my attention, and boy did it. I went in to work the following day and out of the blue told my boss I had to quit. I explained what I felt God had called me to do (full time youth ministry) but in all reality I couldn’t even begin to explain what God was doing with me, not only because I couldn’t verbalize it, but because I didn’t fully understand myself. I still don’t but I sense a new part of it unfolding before my eyes.

When I left the bank the first week of May the reason was that I wouldn’t be able to work with youth over the summer like I knew God had called me to. I had many opportunities to work with youth that summer and I wouldn’t have been able to do so if I had still worked at the bank. I didn’t know how I would be able to get by with my budget being cut by 80% or more but God did. I didn’t go through this time without worry, there were even times when I contemplated going back to the bank just to be more financially stable. Each time worries crept in God provided work opportunities through fellow church members at FBC Edmond, literally every time. In this time I invested in lives for the kingdom of God, I went on many camps, D-nows, and retreats and shared my story of how God had impacted my life in February. As I invested in lives I felt like I didn’t have money to save but I could function with less and that God would provide.

As I went on various retreats, camps and D-nows I got to meet kids from many cities and walks of life. In doing so I was asked to sponsor at a camp for First Baptist Moore, I had never done anything with them and wasn’t quite sure how they got my name at the time, but I willingly said yes. I went to camp and shared how God had started the change in my heart and life and it was incredible to meet all their youth and hang out with them that week. I started to build friendships as well as relationships with the youth and staff. That experience led to being invited to their fall retreat in October, once again I got to hang out with their students and form stronger friendships and relationships with their kids. Now I could lie and say that every second of my summer was spent living 100% sold out to Christ and His work, but I’d be lying. I can say however that it was the closest I have felt to God EVER. He empowered me to get rid of  snares that previously had engulfed my life. The time after the retreat in October was a pretty slow time, not much going on. I had been praying that God would open up a door for me to serve at my home church in Edmond and it had become a burden. I prayed God would open a door without me having to open it, not out of laziness, but I wanted it to be of no one else’s power but God’s. As the months passed I began to realize that a job in my home church wasn’t where God wanted me.

That December, the day after I publicly went down to tell my church family of the way God changed my life in February I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize, I got back in touch with them the following day and it was Scott Newton, the Youth Minister at First Baptist Church Moore asking if I was interested in a youth intern position that had opened up. I didn’t tell him this at the time but in my mind I was yelling, “of course I’m interested!” as the days followed I prayed that God would give me a peace about the decision and that if it wasn’t HIS WILL that I wouldn’t go. I remember sitting through the last Wednesday night youth service at my home church crying, I knew that this was God’s will to leave but my heart was heavy. As I took the job as student ministry intern I thought that it would be me pouring into the kids and doing crazy random things around the office, which, for the most part is true. But not only that, but God has begun to reveal a massive blind spot in my walk.

When I was making a nice amount of money I found it easy to tithe but when times got tough I began to cut back, so much in fact that I stopped all together. The past 4-5 sermons have been about finding financial fitness, and as I read “Radical” by David Platt I see such a missing emphasis on the way I serve God’s kingdom through my budget. I thought that God would be happy with my time and effort that I poured out over the students at FBC Moore, but that’s not all He wants. He wants obedience in everything! Especially the “hard things”. I certainly don’t make a lot of money but as I sat in my bed thinking of all that I do have I began to tear up as I see this masive disconnect between my budgeting practices and those that Christ calls His followers to adopt in the new testament. He calls them to abandon “all” not just when convenient, but also when it hurts. I have seen how carelessly I throw my money around on pointless things. I see that my wallet shows where my heart is and neither lines up with the mouth which I profess the love of my Lord.

So heres where I stand: I don’t have much, but I don’t have little. I can’t say I don’t have excess because I do. I have a company that doesn’t bring in lucrative profits but it brings in more than I need. In his book, David says, “God didn’t give me excess so I can have much, he gave it to me so I could give much”. God has graciously given me excess, He has given me the ability to work, to breathe and to live, I could go on and on but the fact stays the same; He deserves it all, His kingdom deserves it all.

All that’s great but the fact of the matter is what is God calling me to do with my resources, and will I be obedient to trust that He’ll take care of me as I do? I feel a passion for the homeless in the Oklahoma City metro, I want to start a foundation of some sort to reach those people’s physical needs but reach their spiritual needs also. Financially I have felt God call me to tithe 20% of my income. For my company, which I want to be firmly founded on Christian principles, I feel God has called me to support local and foreign mission projects with 50% of it’s yearly gross profit. It’s not big, but it’s what God has called ME to give.

 

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for He cannot deny himself.-2 Timothy 2:13

 

    What God calls you to do is much different than what He calls me to do. There is no rivalry here. The focus is understanding what God asks us personally, then trusting Him that He will provide, and being obedient in the Good and especially the Bad.

 

-God Bless

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