My dream is for all to be nice and good, no problems or stress, my needs (and a few wants) met, and for everything to remain that way forever. At least that has been a fantasy of mine. Now I would be quite content if it could be that way for ten minutes. God obviously knows this about my nature.
It seems He goes out of His way to create for me...no, to summon from the far reaches of the universe itself...as much change as possible. Perhaps to keep me on my toes, reminding me that only He is constant and He is where my focus should be. Maybe, at times, it's just to mess with me, as a loving father with His child.
Still, I usually don't like change. But apart from God and His love for us, there's one thing we can certain of. We live in a time of great change...life altering, career moving, family disrupting, friendship losing, even God questioning...change. And He not only allows us to change, He requires it. But have we?
For almost 30 years I've had the privilege of helping churches and ministries form, grow and succeed in their calling. Several years ago I was advising a group about their tax exempt status and a thought occurred. If we could no longer treat contributions as tax deductions, would we continue to make them?
The law in other countries may be different, but in the USA we can deduct contributions made to a church or ministry. Taxable income is reduced, so our taxes are less. I've recently remembered that thought because there is an effort to remove this tax benefit. And, sadly, now I know the answer.
Current studies show donations have dropped significantly. This is true for most non-profits, but especially for churches and ministries. We don't really need these reports, just look at the mail and emails that come every day. Regardless of the size of the congregation or organization, they're hurting.
Our ministry is like most others. We are able to do what we do in the way we do it because of the giving of God's people. Oh, you may think I've become a wealthy lawyer over the years and fund all of this but, no. On occasion I've explained to God I would be an excellent Christian millionaire, but so far, nada.
But Ciloa is unique from some other ministries I know. You see, we don't want your money. We want God's. Get the difference? If you want to give us a million dollars but consider it yours, we want no part of it. Even if you consider it God's but haven't made certain how He wants you to use it, keep it.
All this has to do with the change that God requires for each of us. Jesus once told His disciples, Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:3) What did a little child own? Nothing. What was a little child given to survive? Everything. This is a very deep passage with much to teach us, but one thing is very clear. We must change.
We must turn from how we naturally feel, think, and behave and toward a very different life Christ has called us to live. Regardless of deeds, titles, and paychecks, it is a life where we earn and own nothing for ourselves. It is a life where all things belong to God, where He has provided all that we have, and where we use, share, and save all as He specifically directs.
That, my friend, is a real, deep, and committed change that will completely rock your world. When we change in this way, nothing will ever again be the same. Whether we buy, sell, rent, lease, trade, or give away, we will do as God chooses, understanding that we are only caretakers of what belongs to Him.
I appreciate any tax deduction I can get, but for those who follow Christ, it makes no difference whether or not we get a deduction. Only one thing matters...what God wants us to do with what is His.
Suzanne Necker, a French woman who lived in the 1700's, once wrote, "Fortune does not change men, it unmasks them." The same is true of us, and once we are unmasked, what will God see? A changed, humble people, or those who remain ultimately devoted to themselves?
If my people would but listen to me... Psalms 81:13