Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ministry Update

Dear Friend, This past summer, we presented a three-part series on the clash between the kingdom of Babylon and the Kingdom of God. In this issue, I want to share with you how the Lord has led our family to apply this important message.

MOVING IN HIS KINGDOM

Several weeks ago, we sensed God leading us to sell our home. This was no small issue. We had lived in our house longer than any other residence in our 32 years of marriage. We had a huge attic where we had stored old clothes, several sentimental items, and just plain junk. It would take a lot of effort just to organize a move.

Despite the potential problems, I wanted to be objective. I had to admit we didn't need a 2,600 sq. foot home any longer. Martha and I were now empty-nesters with both Molly and Dan gone with families of their own. We had also accumulated considerable debt, primarily because B.U.D. had failed to meet its annual budget the past three years. But the turning point came when God revealed to us how a materialistic, pleasure-loving value system had penetrated the Western Church - rendering it impotent. I was determined to be a part of the solution not the problem. If I wanted to see first century Christianity then I needed to embrace first century values.

I contacted a realtor who explained to us the current market conditions. Unfortunately, our suburb had been hit the hardest in the Twin Cities housing market. She told us that over 700 homes were available in our suburb alone, with half of those being foreclosures! This had driven the prices way down and extended the length of time it would take to sell the home.

We knew this would be an incredible challenge. If we priced too high, we wouldn't be able to sell. If we priced too low we wouldn't be able to pay our bills. We decided to price it higher than a "quick sale" recommendation and pray for divine intervention. Well, it didn't take God long. We sold the house in the same month we put it on the market. The sale price was very close to our asking price and the proceeds would retire our debts.

I have never been to a real estate closing that felt like a worship service. The presence of God came down while we talked openly with our realtor about the goodness of God. The new buyers wept and gave us a gift in appreciation of the work we did to prepare their new home. It was awesome!

We have now moved into a four-plex unit where we will be renting for at least the next year. Interestingly, some of our urban pastors have also decided to sell their homes. The circumstances have varied but there is a general sense of God getting us ready for something new. We feel we are entering a fresh season of ministry that is in response to the current culture and its measurements of success.

Our house closed on the day that Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went down. I feel I have been delivered from a broken system. As you know, the financial markets have continued to rock back and forth. It appears that our country is being systematically weaned off of our addiction to money and a materialistic lifestyle.

Many Christians have been praying for revival in this country. Unfortunately, our society has resisted any deepening dependence on God. Rather, our material prosperity has fueled an independent attitude towards His Kingdom values. The current financial crisis is a wake up call for all of us. Beyond punishing those who have failed the public trust, we need to proactively challenge the values of our current culture. I see a potential desperation rising in this country for God's intervention and a willingness to make all His Kingdom values our own.

I am not an economist or even a financial advisor. I am not suggesting we all sell our homes and live in caves. But I do feel we are entering a critical moment in our country's history. As a result, I believe we need to prayerfully consider the following changes:

1) Simplify our lifestyle. Get rid of extra stuff. Enjoy the blessings of giving our stuff to others in need. Get out of debt. Financial pressures can greatly hinder what we are able to do for God. We need to free ourselves from being a servant of the lender (Prov. 22:7b).

2) Make our home a sanctuary of God. Pray as a family often. The more we experience God in our homes, the more we will receive His strength in these troubled times. We must make certain we have enough spiritual oil for the days ahead (Matt. 25:10).

3) Become a change agent. We must demonstrate Kingdom values by our life and words. We need to challenge our society's fallen values and reach out, in love, to those facing frustration and fear. This is the time for the spirit of the first century Church to reemerge!

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John (16:33).

Urban Prayer Event! Prayerperation IV

On October 10th B.U.D. will be joining with several urban pastors and ministries for an evening of worship and prayer. We will be meeting from 5 pm until midnight at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church located at 1901 Portland Ave. / Minneapolis. Please join us and be a part of what God is doing in the urban core!