Inspiring True Stories


 

Sacrificing My Isaac

 

In the mid to late 1970’s we were an established denominational church in the baby steps of the Neo- Pentecostal Charismatic Renewal.  It was truly a “season of glory”[1] and so many awesome things were happening, it was hard to keep up with all of them.  People were spiritually hungry and determined to seek out and find a way to deepen their relationship with God and their fellowship with Jesus.  I have never experienced such a time of God’s Visitation in all the more than sixty years of my preaching and pastoring ministry.

Home Bible study and prayer meetings were springing up everywhere.  It was my great privilege to be invited to minister and teach and then pray for individuals who attended.

The results were miraculous.  Many were healed.  Some were Born Again.  And multitudes received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  It was the Book of Acts all over again.  And it was awesome.   Bible Conferences, Seminars and Camp Meetings were happening all across the nation.  Denominational walls were crumbling.  It was no strange thing for members of all these different and traditional groups to attend these meetings where Jesus was the subject and the Holy Spirit was in charge.  Catholics, (priests and nuns as well as parishioners), Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and others from all denominations, came together as one.  And God showed up.

In the aura of this miraculous visitation, God began to deal with me about some issues that, I thought, were not all that important.  I had, to the best of my ability, tried to follow the Calling on my life.  I had gone to college and seminary, got my degrees, began pastoral ministry and sort of felt that I had all my ducks in a row.  God had supernaturally led us into the main stream of the Charismatic Revival and our small church began to explode in growth.   Things were looking good.

Then one of the speakers God brought to our church preached one night on “Sacrificing your Isaac.”  The “Isaac” being the one thing most important in life.  It was the thing I held tightly to and trusted in for the welfare and support of my family.   It would be the one thing that stood in my way of totally trusting God.

My “Isaac” was financial security.  In the early years of my life, our family had struggled to make ends meet and I had been deeply influenced by how much hardship Mom and Dad dealt with because of a lack of adequate income.  They were totally committed and worked very hard, but because they were denied the privilege of education and training, they were locked in a life-struggle with finances.  And this created a visceral fear in me that drove me to find and maintain a level of financial freedom that would always be sufficient to support a life of relative comfort and security.

So I had become more dependent on my weekly pay check than I was on God’s promise of provision.   That check was my “Isaac.”

I was preaching a strong message of faith in this season of our spiritual growth.  But the message was falling on deaf ears.  People were kind and sincerely interested but most were unwilling to take any risks that would put them out on a limb for God.  We were in tremendous need for consistent financial support in order to subsidize our growth and plans for new and larger facilities.  So “money” was a big deal for us at this time.

And “money” was a big deal for me in my quest to support the needs of my growing family.  It was precisely here that God challenged my faith.  If I was going to preach faith and teach faith, l would need to live by faith.  Totally.  Completely. Not a weekly pay day.  I was going to have to sacrifice my Isaac.

In the mid 1970’s I announced one Sunday morning that I would no longer be a salaried staff member.  In great “fear and trembling” I took the leap and accepted the risk of living without a salary from the church.  If any money came into my hands it would come through those to whom God would speak regarding our needs.  A small box with a slot in the top was placed in the foyer of the auditorium, and this box would be the Source God would use to supply our financial needs through free will offerings.

The first week of living “by faith” was disastrous.  My income dropped by more than 90%.  It was looking like it was going to be impossible for us to survive and I was wondering if I’d made a catastrophic mistake.  But God….

I know this will sound spooky to some, but money began showing up in unusual places.  Often I would find twenty dollar bills in my desk drawer.  I even discovered money hidden in the pages of my Bible.   I even found a small unsigned, folded up, hand-written note lying on the ground outside my office.  When I opened it up it read:  “It’s not as bad as you think it is…”

Then God began to supply supernaturally supply all our needs and also reinforced my “faith message.”     When people actually saw us “living by faith” they caught the vision.  Not only did our ministry finances increase, but our personal finances began to grow, exponentially.  It was not many weeks until my tithe on what God supplied was greater than the total of my old weekly pay check… before I “sacrificed my Isaac”

We lived over forty years from that faith leap (as long as I was Senior Pastor) without receiving a salary from the church.  God super-abundantly supplied our financial needs and allowed us the privilege of sowing literally tens of thousands of dollars into various mission causes around the world.

You can Trust God.

 

Just ask me

[1] Dick Braswell, A Season of Glory  (Xlibris Corpration, 2010)

 

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