That Time When God Bought A Van

This week we found out that there was a need for a family in our life group at church. They were having vehicle problems and some other frustrations were thrown in to cause this to be a really big deal for them.

One person  felt like they should present the need and opportunity to the rest of our group.

Within just a couple days, enough money was gathered to buy a van for them from another family in our church getting ready to go back to the DR as missionaries. They just happened to have two vehicles that they need to sell before they leave the country.

People gave and God blessed. I can’t fully describe it with my words. To God be the glory, great things He hath done!

Thankful: Unexpected Provision

I am thankful for unexpected provision.

Nathan had two random consulting jobs this week. One of them was for a client whose site he set up. She still gets stuck from time and time and requests help. The other one was for his former employer. While it wasn’t ideal for them that they ran into some server issues that they couldn’t figure out, Nathan was able to work with them for a couple of hours. I really think it’s amazing that Nathan can get a call at 10:00 pm about servers he hasn’t had to think about for a very long time and he can troubleshoot it as if he had been working on it recently. He is REALLY good at troubleshooting. I don’t think that is an easy thing to learn. It’s part of how his brain is wired.

We took a step in faith this fall in deciding to be more generous in our giving. Honestly, I’ve had several times when I questioned if this was the right time and wanted to “postpone” this idea. Every time I wondered if we could afford this, God has shown Himself to be faithful.

This is unrelated, but Audrey’s warts are gone! We had been treating them and praying about it for over 4 months (she had these warts for over a year, I believe and they were taking over- on her mouth, her cheek, her fingers. . .). We are really happy and thankful. Audrey wants to have a party!

On another unrelated note, the couple that looked at our house two weeks ago and were interested are still interested. They have looked at several houses and they like ours the best. Our realtor called and told us that they were in the middle of working with a mortgage company/bank to find out what they could be approved for. We have no idea what their financial situation is or what they will be able to offer us. It’s possible that they wont be able to afford it, but I guess there is still some hope. I was seriously shocked at the message from the realtor.  Regardless of the outcome from this couple, God is in control. Please pray that His will would be clear.

Conspiracy

As Amy has explained, God had been moving in her heart for some time now. I was aware of some of it, though the bits of books she read aloud to me and through some of the discussions it was all leading to. But, much of it was still catching me by surprise…

Apparently, it takes a bit more to get through to me…which brings us to October’s ‘divine conspiracy‘.

  • 5 weeks ago: In our Sunday evening life group, we covered how to have financial margin and as part of that how having such margin frees you to be more generous.
  • 4 weeks ago: Stan Mitchell, a local pastor and regular speaker for our weekly devotionals at work, spoke on II Corinthians 8 and how we should not wait until we have “enough” money to be generous with it.
  • 1 month ago: our church begins a capital campaign, encourages the church to fast something and pray about how we could increase our generosity and sacrificially give toward reducing the church’s debt and future ministries.
  • Every Sunday since — poignant messages on tithing, generosity, and trusting God to provide. 2 of which were ALSO on II Corinthians 8.
  • 4 weeks ago: Someone at church donated copies of Gordon MacDonald’s book, “generosity” so every life group and sunday school group could use it. We did so that first Sunday of the campaign.
  • 3 weeks ago: Amy and Audrey helped at the Feed My Starving Children mobile pack. I couldn’t go, but I was so proud of my two favorite women going and helping to pack the 25K+ meals that were packed during their shift.
  • 2 weeks ago: One of the staff members brought a video to the weekly staff meeting for us all to watch. It was about generosity.
  • Last week: Shaun Groves, singer/songwriter and awesome advocate for Compassion International came to Lampo Devo and spoke on…wait for it…generosity and the importance of living simply so you can be generous with what you have beyond what you really need.

Yeah.

By the time Shaun Groves came, I was pretty sure I knew what the message was going to be in devo before I even knew who was speaking…

I may be pretty slow when it comes to these things, but even I figured out this trend! And bit by bit, God has been changing my heart as well.

The Treasure Principle

There are two ways I can do this blog post.

1. Tell you to go and buy/borrow/check-out the book The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and leave it at that.,

or

2.)Tell you about the book and how it impacted me and encourage you get it yourself to read later.

I’m going with option 2.

We were given this book from the church we were attending last spring. It was part of the “discovery” class for newcomers. There are six principles mentioned in the book. I want to mention two. I wish I could talk about them all, but for the purpose of our story, I’m going to tell you about the two that made the biggest impact.

*My heart goes where I put God’s money.

Here’s a quote from the book, “By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, “Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement and your receipts, and I’ll show you where your heart is.”  That statement has slowly started to make a change in how we set up our budget.

My bank statement proved me a liar. I said I believed that Christians should be giving to those in need. My bank statement said I didn’t care about the poor.

Randy Alcorn went on to say that when we invest our money in something, we always become more interested in it. “Do you wish you cared more for eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Watch what happens.”

I cannot overstate how true this has been for us.

The next principle that has made a HUGE impact is this:

*God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

This principle changed my thinking more than anything else in the book. I started thinking, what if we actually lived like that? What would that look like? So, I went to Nathan and said, “What if we committed to living on a certain income and EVERYTHING above that we gave away?” 

Poor Nathan! I don’t think he’s going to let me read anything that he isn’t also reading anymore. I think he was surprised at the question, but he agreed that we need to decide what is “enough”. It was the start of a long conversation that’s still happening.

We don’t know the answer. The cost of living goes up from year to year. Health insurance premiums keep skyrocketing. It’s hard to set a hard and fast amount of money that would be enough to live on 40 years from now. For us, right now, God is telling us that he wants us to live on a certain percentage of our money. It’s less than we’ve been living on. I don’t want to be too specific because I don’t want this to be about us and how much or how little we give or live on. It’s just the story that God is writing for us and this is the chapter we are in now.

I’m a bit giddy about it 🙂 What if we could increase our percentage of giving every year?

Tomorrow: Conspiracy

Previous Posts:

I Don’t Know When It Started

Meet Shelly

A New Motivation

 

Meet Shelly

It’s partly Shelly’s fault my reasonable plan for our money changed.

Shelly had a burden on her heart to bring the Feed My Starving Children ministry to Franklin, TN. So, she quit her part-time job and made it her full-time job to find a place to host the event, advertise, find workers and raise funds.

Shortly before the day arrived for the mobile pack, I found out that Shelly was still working on raising funds to cover the costs involved. At some point I asked, “What happens if all the money isn’t raised?” Her matter-of-fact response was, “I’m responsible for it.”

Did you get that?

“Responsible”= Shelly is going to write a check out for any shortfall in fundraising.

How can that not cause me to evaluate my own priorities? Lots of people call themselves Christians, but the Bible says that one of the things Jesus is going to ask us is what we did when we saw hungry people.

My reasonable plan was: 1)Pay off debt, 2)Increase giving. But this isn’t about being reasonable. This is about kids that are hungry today. It also got me asking, “When have I ever given money to hungry kids?”  I had always just trusted the money given to our church eventually got to places like that, but I didn’t actually know that to be true.

Because of Shelly’s step of faith, 108,864 meals were packed. That will feed 298 children for a year!

My friend Shelly is a lot like me. She’s not wealthy or well-connected. She has 4 growing boys at home. They don’t have a lot of financial margin. They don’t own a home. Yet, on November 21st, she and her husband are prepared to use emergency savings to cover the remaining need.

I want to be like Shelly!

You can find additional information about the Nashville mobile pack event & how to support it Here

 Part 3

I Don’t Know When It Started

Have you had an experience like this? For several months Nathan and I have been in situations where we have heard the same message over and over again.

It’s about our stuff. It’s about possessions and money and how we use them. So, I’m going to share our story and what this theme is that keeps following us everywhere we go!

I have a love-hate relationship with blog posts like this. Sometimes I read them and get inspired. Other times I just feel judged and defensive.

So, here is my disclaimer:

I’m going to write about how God is working in our hearts in this area and what He’s saying to us. I don’t know what He’s saying to you. It’s not a suggestion to follow what we’re doing. It’s just our story.

Long story short:

Two years ago, we were spending our money on frivolous things, we saved very little and our giving became inconsistent. We hit a wall and decided we needed to make some changes. So, for the last couple of years, we’ve been listening to what God has been saying to us about our money and He is saying: “Live simply. Give Lavishly”

I guess I just spoiled the ending 🙂

For the month of November, we’re (maybe Nathan will chime in too) going to spend time telling the story of   how God is moving in this area of our lives. More to come. . .

Part 2

 

BIG news

We could not have made the math work on this on our own.

Only because of God’s provision and to His glory, our remaining consumer debt was paid off just a few minutes ago.

It feels good.

God did all of this. It’s all His money. We are grateful and humbled.

Generosity

God has been speaking to Nathan and I about the issue of generosity. It’s really been hitting us from all sides. Yesterday Nathan’s workplace showed this video for one of their meetings:

 

I Like Car from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

What if we changed our perspective on the money in our back accounts? What if we saw it for what it really was- God’s money?  It’s all His and He has given us the privilege of managing it. When He asks me how I managed His money, I don’t want my report to be that I hoarded it for myself.