When we began planning this month’s issue about how the pandemic (and other 2020 perils) have impacted church and parachurch finances, I figured this would be our “bad news” issue.
O me of little faith.
When I asked leaders to write about this topic, several apologized for having little or no bad news to report. A recurring theme through these articles is how much God blessed their ministries, how he opened doors like never before during the pandemic, how giving actually increased (exponentially in some cases), how God worked for the good in all the struggles to do what only he can do.
One of the best things the pandemic did was remind us who is Lord.
When we face trials, God often shouts to us, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5), a reminder he repeated to his struggling people at least seven times in that one chapter. Like the Israelites, we need to be reminded over and over that he is God—not the organization we’ve built, not our successes, not our meeting places, and not our metrics. We are too easily prone to create and bow down to other gods. How foolish of us.
I need God’s reminders—and I presume you do, too—about the true state of reality rather than the limited viewpoint of evening news anchors and Twitter. We need God’s ultimate perspective on his world.I need God’s reminders—and I presume you do, too—about the true state of reality rather than the limited viewpoint of evening news anchors and Twitter. Click To Tweet
We need to remember: God’s arm is not too short, nothing is impossible for him, he will not grow tired. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. He is for us (so who can be against us?). He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He will never forsake us, and he will be with us to the end of the age. He loves us with an everlasting love. Even if the mountains are shaken and the hills removed, his unfailing love for us will not be shaken and his covenant of peace will not be removed. I could go on and on, of course. God’s Word is replete with these kinds of reminders because God knows how much we need them.
The people in our spheres of influence need to remember these truths as well. It’s our responsibility to remind them.
I realize some churches and parachurch ministries experienced bad news during 2020. Many of the Bible passages that point to God’s sovereignty and power were written to God’s people and his church in the midst of bad-news circumstances. Through Old Testament prophets and New Testament disciples, God addressed people who felt abandoned, faced ruthless enemies, were in captivity or at war, were persecuted, and seemingly had no hope. They desperately needed reminders that God was still God . . . and so do we.
I want to remind you that Jesus is still building his church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. He may cut off branches that are not bearing fruit and he may prune fruit-bearing branches so they will bear more fruit. I believe our Gardener-Father was putting his pruning shears and chainsaw to good use through the events of 2020 and he will continue to do so in 2021. He will also plant new seeds and send new workers into his harvest fields, both in the United States and internationally, and we must continue to ask him to do so. He will continue to do his part and we must continue to do ours. Remember, he will not do it without us, and we cannot do it without him!
God’s Word excels at giving us the perspective we need—God’s perspective—regardless of earthly circumstances. It reminds people who look at their adverse financial status, difficult relational situation, or other ponderous life challenges that with God there is hope, that he can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.God’s Word excels at giving us the perspective we need—God’s perspective—regardless of earthly circumstances. Click To Tweet
It is an incredible blessing to hear and read stories like the ones in this issue of God’s power and provision. Each one is another real-life reminder of the truth that our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
P.S. I want to let our regular readers know that we are planning some exciting new steps at Christian Standard this year. A common theme last year for churches and other ministries (and all types of organizations, for that matter) was the need to “pivot” as we discern how to understand the times and know what we should do (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:32). As times change, we as a Christian media company must also pivot to remain relevant, effective, and fruitful. We will continue to be steadfast in helping the church carry out its mission to make disciples in biblically sound, financially prudent ways. Please stay tuned in the upcoming months as we share our plans.