“It’s time to tighten things up.”
“Show me a new budget with only the needs, not the wants.”
“How can we save money on technology this year?”
If I were to poll, I wonder how many of you working in churches have been hearing questions and statements like the ones above? Based on emails I’ve received and countless blog posts I’ve read, the common theme is a reduction in expenses across most church ministries. Yet I’m also hearing and seeing church leaders requiring budget reductions without the required reduction in expectations to match the new, lower budgets.
“It’s the economy, stupid” are now famous words by James Carville, the former campaign manager for the Clinton administration. So much of the American psyche is built upon such phrases as consumer confidence and market fluctuations. We’re conditioned to think along the bull or bear market concepts and act accordingly.
While I’m all for being responsible and conservative as a general rule of thumb, I also can’t stop reading story after story and truth after truth in God’s Word how He is Jehovah-jireh, or “God the provider”.
Possibly my favorite lesson in God’s total provision was in taking care of the entire nation of Israel as they wandered the desert.
According to the Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1,500 tons of food each day (which is 3,000,000 lbs!). To bring that much food each day would require two freight trains: each a mile long – which is a lot of donkeys back in that day. So God provided Manna in the morning and Quail to fly in and then simply die in the afternoon, ready to be cooked!
Also keep in mind that they were out in the desert, and sand doesn’t make very good cooking material, so they would have needed firewood to use in cooking the food. This would take about 4,000 tons of wood and a few more freight trains, each a mile long, just for one day. And just think – they did this for 40 years (146,000 days).
They would also need water. If they only had enough to drink it would take 11,000,000 gallons of water each day. Add some more freight trains with tank cars spanning a few miles, every day. God had Moses strike a rock with his staff to make water burst forth – in a desert!
One more thing: each time they camped at the end of the day, a campground two-thirds the size of the state of Rhode Island was required. That’s a total of about 750 square miles, and they somehow all were able to have daily access to food and water.
(paraphrased from Lane Palmer – website link no longer active)
And in all of this, there He was: Jehovah-jireh.
The first lesson is this: We rely on God. Alone. Period.
Our second lesson is this: Plan and look at ways to be wise with the monies God has entrusted your ministry with, but also plan on God showing up and meeting your needs. Set a budget and stick to it as much as you are able within your spending and planning. But don’t take God out of the equation.
The final lesson is this: Don’t worry. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”