Posts Tagged ‘finances’

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?

No.

Yes.

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.

  1. We are in exactly the right place at the right time in the History of Seattle.
  2. God will provide in miraculous ways. He is Faithful!
  3. Epic Life Church will continue to grow and thrive on Aurora.
  4. God has provided the perfect leadership for Epic Life.
  5. Our Faith in Christ is solid.
  6. 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.

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Sunrise

I love the sunrise, to see it you must get up early. Many people miss the sunrise because it forces you to go out of your way to see it. Those of us who have seen it know the beauty and will find ways to be present when this miraculous event happens.

I see the world around me in the same way.

I have recently gotten to walk with Ben Carlson along Aurora and introduce him to what God is doing on our street. Ben is visiting us from South Africa where he works with the Navigators and is a professional coffee taster. He has a lot of vision for life and future, and talking with him gives me a huge shot of encouragement.

As we walked from the AXIS to the garden space along Aurora and I got to introduce him to business owners and homeless men and women and show him where we minister, sparks started to fly as we praised God for his greatness. We entered the garden space and started envisioning the space green and with a small stage for music and tables and chairs and umbrellas for conversation and a coffee cart where we could sell or give away java to the “customers” of the Space.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if this space was where we held a Bible study for whoever may be walking on the street? Maybe very late at night or really early mornings. That gives me the chills just thinking about it. How about small concerts just for the purpose of bringing music to Aurora? Maybe some vegetables that are growing and people have the freedom to snack? Then Ben says, “Maybe this is your coffee shop that you’ve been dreaming about? It doesn’t even need a building!” Maybe? Oh yeah! What if the tattoo parlor next door actually started partnering with us and looked forward to us being there? Or opened up their back “yard” space to join up with the garden space for a larger venue?

The “what if’s” are huge, when you allow God to push it…

So…on another note but not really, we are at a place financially as Epic Life Church where we are living in the negative, you know – the red numbers. This is a scary place to live, that is strengthening our faith and resolve. But just because we don’t have the finances and resources to pull off dreams doesn’t mean the dreams stop coming. In fact if anything the dreams are growing and God is asking more of us. So we are trusting him in our poverty and owning this new Church as a community in greater ways than if we hadn’t found ourselves in the negative.

Praise God for people like Ben and the business owners who may not even have a personal relationship with Christ and those who are walking Aurora and those who are on our Finance Team with beautiful gifts and leaders who are moving forward even in difficult times and for a church Body who know what they are here for and vision, pure God-driven, life-infused, transformational vision.

“To see North Seattle transformed by finding an epic life in Christ Jesus.”

Find ways to “see” the “sunrise” in your world. It is beautiful and miraculous!

Launch

It’s the end of July already and Kristine and I are on the last days of our two week vacation to Minnesota that has been all but a vacation. We have enjoyed being here with family and friends; it has been a huge blessing and wonderful catching up with everyone, but we are going need a few days off to catch up on sleep when we get home.

It hasn’t been a vacation. I have put on over 2,000 miles on Joyce Jarvinen’s Honda Pilot and every night has been very late and most mornings very early, along with speaking at five Sunday services.  God has opened doors to five new churches that are becoming partners in one way or the other too. Please pray with us that they would catch the vision and partner with us in one or more of the following ways.

  1. Prayer – Which is powerful and effective.
  2. Financially helping us reach our goals laid out below.
  3. Traveling and working along side us with teams from their home church/city.
  4. Advocacy – Telling others the Epic Life story and helping us expand our network.
  5. Relocating- People who would love to be living on the Edge and move to Seattle to help the Church planting process.

On October 4th we are planning on publicly launching Epic Life Church. This will be big stuff and is setting up a couple of very busy months. I have put together a list of things we will need to make this work.

Sound system and Lighting  –  $8,000
Children’s ministry – $4,000
(2) Video projectors  – $4,000
Covering rent for a year  –  $12,000
(2) new computers – $4,000
Marketing/Advertising/Branding – $10,000
Signage and printed materials – $2,000
Food and Coffee – $1,000
A Saturday Carnival – $8,000
A website – $1000
Windows in the acquired building – (6) at $1200 each
Prayer as we personally touch thousands of homes and 40,000 people in some way throughout the month of September with many community focused events, advertising, gifts and blessings.

I believe that we are the road to seeing hundreds of people show up on the 4th of October. I feel like the area of Seattle in which we are ministering has an incredible void of Christian influence, so much so that when we “open” Epic Life publicly it will be like a vacuum. I am believing God for very big things.  Will you pray with us as we increase our faith together?

Thank you.