Jon Bon Jovi sang it well, “Living on a Prayer,” although probably not realizing the beautiful declaration it truly is. Living on a Prayer is exactly where Kristine and I have been finding ourselves over the past two years and especially within the past ten months.
I have been cautious about blogging on my own personal finances but have arrived at a place now that I believe what I am about to share can be huge encouragement to many who may find themselves in the same place.
We are a people who feel a false security in lives that are financially secure. We seek, pursue and wage war to have financial stability…but have no idea what that really means. Having a “little change in my pocket going jingalangalang” creates a facade of safety in our lives. It is fleeting and will soon be consumed and will demand a higher pursuit of gathering more to feed the proverbial monster, which causes our focus to be moved from sharing Christ with others to keeping the change “jingling.”
And the cyclone continues.
In this church starting journey God has us traveling on he has constantly pushed us, encouraged us, and strengthened us. It has, from day one, been the biggest financial stretch God has ever placed us in. We left a city where we had financial security and a long standing job in ministry that was growing and wouldn’t go away and arrived in a city with zero financial security and job that wasn’t.
From month to month we watched as many faithful partners helped fund the ministry here in Seattle; as God gave us property and increased our vision for this city; and we watched as last January came and the money disappear and our pay checks cut in half and then vanish all together.
The reality of having no paycheck is, the bills continue. So God placed our family in the epicenter of a renewed shocking realization that we are living on his security not financial security. Literally we have gone months without any money coming into the Carpenter family household. The money our partners and tithing Body of believers here at Epic Life is going to continue ministry, starting the church and taking care of bills we are responsible for as a church.
But…God is still taking care of us. We are stretched to the point of breaking, but not breaking, because he doesn’t give us more than we can handle and at the same time we literally have no income. Its so crazy.
Three years ago I had many people who asked me about the wisdom of leaving Winona, MN and the security that it represented and moving to something like starting a church and the intense insecurity it represents. One person said to me. “What are you going to do when you are in Seattle and you don’t have a church around you to ‘bail’ you out?” And, there were many who said that it just wouldn’t work. Others who tried to stop it all together. Were they right?
The fact is…God called us to start a church, a movement, a visionary journey of creative discipleship and reconciliation that will change a city. So in the long run it really doesn’t matter if there is money available to live on or not, we will do what he has called us to do. Period.
Please don’t feel sorry for us. Feel sorry for yourself if you have never been taken to brink of disaster and taught to lean on Jesus in greater ways. Sure our family doesn’t have the money to keep up with our bills, we don’t have the money to take a family vacation or set up a retirement and savings program or buy the latest flat screen TV or go to a movie or buy gas for our cars. But we do have Jesus and he tells us not to worry about our clothing and food…He will take care of us.
Honestly, I don’t see it yet. I just told a gentleman here in the Green Bean coffee shop that I feel like a cliff jumper and I am falling through the air and my hand is on the rip cord but God is saying, “wait for it,wait for it,” and I am waiting for his signal as the ground approaches at a wild speed.
Many of you who read this blog have been God’s answer to prayer. Two of you have sent us huge gifts, taking care of our mortgage. Many of you sacrificially give on a monthly basis allowing God to stretch you. Most of you spend time praying for my family, Epic Life Church and the massive influence God is giving us here on Aurora in North Seattle as we encourage life transformation by finding an epic life in Jesus Christ.
I am confident in these points.
- We are in exactly the right place at the right time in the History of Seattle.
- God will provide in miraculous ways. He is Faithful!
- Epic Life Church will continue to grow and thrive on Aurora.
- God has provided the perfect leadership for Epic Life.
- Our Faith in Christ is solid.
- My wife is confidently by my side.
Now I believe it is time to write the book about the success of God’s church in Seattle before it is. We are doing more than living on a prayer we are living on a calling.