Joshua 13:1-7 (Part 2) – Knowing Where You Want To End Up (Dreaming God-Sized Dreams)!

Posted: June 25, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 13:1-7 (Part 2 of 2)

The Land Yet to Be Conquered

 

One of the mantras of organizational planning is to decide where you want to end up and then work your way back to now. That means that we must decide what our target is for the future so that we measure all our steps from now on how to get to that target. For example, on a personal level, if you want to retire at age 62 (instead of 67) and you are in your mid-fifties now, you must plan now how you are going to do that. You must take the necessary steps to acquire sufficient wealth to allow you be retired five more years than would normally be the case. You must plan on living on less social security each month because you will be retiring five years earlier. The social security folks do that so that you benefits will last five additional years. There are other steps that each of must take now to retire and live in a manner that we desire. You can’t just keep living as if you are not going to need money when you retire regardless of how old you are. So many people do not really plan for retirement and thus struggle mightily to adjust to their new financial picture when they do retire. As in all things, God knows our future but we have to participate in it by doing what we need to do be prepared.

 

The same thing is true for me when comes to the financial future of our church. We must understand where we want our ministries at church to be five years from now so that we can plan now on how we are going to get there. Our senior/founding pastor at LifeSong has challenged us over the next six weeks to identify what we think our ministries will look like in five years. We need to dream the dreams that need dreaming. We must figure out where God wants our ministries to be in five years. We must pray. We must seek His will. We must say why not when our typical response is that it cannot be done. We must see the mountain that needs to be climbed. We must believe that God will provide us the way to get it done. For me, he has placed a dream in my heart for the financial/administrative ministry of our church and I want to dream it even if I am like Moses and not there to see it come to fruition. We must all be like that in our ministries. We must dream the dreams for the ministries not for ourselves. We must make sure that our ministry has the fuel to get the bus there regardless of whether we are there or not.

 

What are my dreams for the finance/admin ministry of the church. It all hangs off of one broad statement that is a place I see our church in five years. Everything that I will be doing and planning for the next five years will be in support of that one broad statement. That broad statement is that I want to position our church in a way that it is only 50% dependent on member contributions for its annual revenue. We are not talking reducing tithes in any way but creating new, additional streams of revenue. Right now, our church is 98% dependent on the tithes/offerings and other donations of our members. That other 2% right now comes from bookstore sales and rental income. Thus, this goal of reducing it to 50% is a mighty large goal because we want to grow our tithe/offering donations at least 5% or more each year so to reduce that overall 98% to 50% will take some doing. It will require us doing things that we currently do not do. God has given me a glimpse of how we are to do that but I have got to trust Him and do the individual steps that He knows I need to take to get there.

 

Why is this even a goal? We want our church to survive and thrive in the future. We want our pastors to teach and preach the Word of God without fear of it costing us donations. We most of all want to be able to spread the gospel to the farthest reaches that God leads us to spread it. We want to be able to have the money to do the big dreams that God gives us. We want to send people around the world as missionaries. We want to plant churches in towns where God leads us and give them the support those first 3-5 years that will make them successful. We want to develop ways to reach children and teens with the gospel in new and unique ways. We want to help people in our communities in ways that we cannot currently because of financial limitations. We want to be able to finance helps ministries that we currently cannot. In it all, we want to dream the big dreams and fulfill God’s intentions for our church. We must glorify God in our community and nation and world in the way that He has intended for us.

 

So, it’s about glorifying Him and doing what He leads us to do. This is the plan that He has put on my heart for our church. God is leading me to take the experience that we gained (through a lot of work and hard knocks) in developing our financial reporting structures at LifeSong and export that to other churches. We will be providing benefits mainly to small and medium sized churches that are now simply operating their churches out of checkbooks. Before we developed our financial reporting systems at LifeSong, we had no clue as to where we were or how we were performing. Budgets were stabs in the dark because we had no clue what we were spending on what. God is leading me to help other churches develop financial reporting systems that are meaningful to their own church. There are packages out that churches can buy that churches have to adapt to but what we did was center our financial reporting structures around the main ministries of our church. Everything revolves around the main emphases, or four stakes of ministry of our church (Missions, Discipleship, Children/Youth, Sunday Morning Worship). It was a pretty massive undertaking that I won’t bore you with here, but these were necessary things to identify the assets and liabilities of the church and to have a starting point for the financial records. We are now able to manage the church’s finances with a precision unexpected in a church. We want to be able help other churches gain control of their finances and thereby create (1) transparency in church finances and (2) demonstrate that we are good stewards of the resources that God has given us.

 

Another way that God has borne this desire in me is to create a separate corporation, a for-profit corporation in which the church is the sole shareholder. In this way, we can do a couple of things. We can (1) create for-profit businesses that are consistent with the goals and desires of the church but that will make money all of which after reserving funds for capital can pay dividends of the net profits back to the church. An idea of business like this would be to create, say, a local coffeehouse that can be used to be a local business selling coffee and such but also be a meeting place where people can bring their friends that might be intimidated by the church itself and take them there to hear contemporary Christian artists, have biblically based discussion groups and so on, but at the same time it would be a viable for-profit business. The profits from this and other for-profit enterprises could then be paid as dividends to the church and the church could then use the proceeds to fund national missions such as church planting.

 

Two (2), we can create a separate 501(c)3 community development corporation where we can seek donations from corporations that will not give directly to churches and then use those donations to meet needs in our communities in such a way that hopefully we could fund all of our local community outreach activities through these donations – which would then all tithes and offering to more enhance the other three stakes of ministry at the church.

 

These are all pretty big dreams for a church that cannot afford to have a full-time finance guy at the moment, but 5 years ago, we were managing the church just out of checkbooks with no real clue how much we were spending on what. That was a big dream just to get our financial reporting systems in place. So, the big dream are not insurmountable when we have God who is giving us the dream and we just obey His leading. He will always give us new land to conquer.

 

That was the thing that struck me when reading this passage for a second time before we move to the next passage in my next blog. That thing was God was already giving Joshua the vision of where He wanted Israel to be down the road before the land was completely conquered to begin with. What? That’s pretty bold. God was already instructing Joshua on dividing up the land before it was even fully conquered. That’s the thing God will give us vision for the next thing before He leads us down that road, but we have to listen, obey, and execute. God will give us the target, it is up to us to shoot. Here is what the passage, Joshua 13:1-7, says:

 

13 When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.

 

2 “This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites, 3 from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron; the territory of the Avvites 4 on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek and the border of the Amorites; 5 the area of Byblos; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath.

 

6 “As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, 7 and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”

 

Here in this passage, we see that much of the land was unconquered at this point, but it was God’s plan to go ahead and include the unconquered lands in the division among the tribes of Israel. God’s desire was that it would eventually be conquered by the Israelites. God knows the future, and as He leads you He already knows about the victories that lie ahead. But just as the Israelites still had to go to battle and fight, we must still face the trials and fight the battles of our unconquered lands. What are your unconquered lands? What are the challenges that you face? What are the dreams that God has placed in your heart?

 

God has unconquered land for you. We must listen to Him and seek His will. Without seeking His heart, we have no vision. When we do not earnestly seek Him, we will have no idea where to take our ministries. When we do not seek Him, our ministries become about us. The book of Joshua shows us several times what happens we God’s people do not seek His will. Where do you want your ministry to be in five years? And I am not talking about those of us who head up ministries at churches. God has a ministry for each of us. What’s that going to look like in five years? If you don’t know where you are going (having the dream and vision), you will never get there because you will take wrong turns that delay or derail your efforts. Dream the big dreams about what your ministry is for God? How can your turn your job, your hobby, your neighborhood into ministries. What would you do for a ministry if you were not scared? Seek God’s will for your ministry and then dream the big dreams.

 

For those of us who head church ministries, God has a vision for what you are doing? Are you scared that it will take you beyond your comfort zone so you don’t dream? Seek God’s will for your ministry and think about it from a perspective of that it is God’s dream not yours and think about in the frame of mind that you must do what is best for the ministry and not necessarily because of what your strengths or limitations are? Seek God’s will for your ministry. Then, dream the big dreams. God has unconquered land for your ministry. He really does. All we have to do is be willing to listen and say why not, Lord? Let’s do it! Lord, this is all probably beyond what I can do right now but I am trusting you to show me how, what, when and where. When we are submitted to Him totally, He will give us the big dreams. He will give us the next thing. He will give us unconquered territory and the vision to see what it will look like after we have conquered it.

 

Let us be ready. Let us be willing. Let us be submitted. Let us dream God-sized dreams. Let us see Him glorified in the dreams that we dream. Let us plan. Let us execute. Let us already have an idea what the unconquered territory will look like after it is conquered. God will give us the way. God will lead the way. God will make dreams that only God can accomplish come true.

 

What is your unconquered territory? Is God calling you to conquer it? Dream God sized dreams and depend on Him to show you the way.

 

Amen and Amen.

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