Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Believer's Budget

I've never lived on an actual budget and we're still not really because I haven't figured out how to do it yet. The result is that I watch our bank account pseudo feverishly out of the fear I might have underestimated or forgotten something.

One result of my paranoia paid off today. A week or two back I sent an email to our local power company asking if there was a way to average our monthly utility bills for the year and therefore make it simpler for the mathematically challenged to budget expenses. It was one of those passing thought, shot in the dark emails. I sent it because I was paying bills and the idea crossed my mind. It took all of 10 seconds to find an email address and dash off a note. I had actually forgotten I had even done it.

Today the power company called and said, "Sure, no problem." The net result, at least for the next year, is that our power bill is going to be static at 116 bucks a month. Astounding. Something for which I can actually plan knowing we're not going to get hit with a 400 dollar bill and have to scramble to keep the lights on.

Knowing what to expect is nice...but that's not how life usually works.

About a year ago, some months after Gordon realized Amy and I had discovered his then secret blog life, we began conversing a bit about the frightening aspect of him having such a popular blog. I did my best, as always, to keep him humble by pointing out that his blog often came in behind a blog called "World of Crap" and barely beat out another entitled "The Devil's Excrement" ( they may be fine blogs, but I've never been to either...part of me rightly or wrongly senses I've already had my fill of both).

Anyway, what was really on Gordon's mind at the time was the way Real Live Preacher had taken on a life of its own. He expressed feelings of being out of control and somewhat frightened. My sage advice (I still have the email, although I'm modifying the language some) was "Face it God is using you...God has given you a real chance to reach people who thought themselves unreachable. In fact, from my perspective, it seems more like God is giving you an order.
Scared? No ...um...kidding, who wouldn't be? Know anyone else God is personally kicking in the butt?"

We've talked many times since then about how Real Live Preacher has turned into a Real Live Ministry and these days I believe Gordon is much more at peace with it, maybe even a little anxious to see where God shoves his rump next.

Some folks have lately left kind comments here saying they don't know how many people read this blog, but they're glad they've found it. To be clear, a tiny fraction of the people who read RLP read my musings, but the number is growing. What's also increasing is the number of very heart felt emails I've received. I've had great discussions with fellow bloggers about shared hopes and failings. Some people have taken the time to tell me of the gut wrenching and extremely personal battles they've endured. Still others have written to me of great loves...and grievous losses. Almost all of these people took the time to write, to Amy and myself, simply because they wished to provide encouragement and personal prayers for strength.

I have also corresponded with new Christians I met through writing who've taken huge, often frightening steps...like going to church for the first time or buying and actually reading a bible. Others have written to tell me they still don't trust church, but they're starting to trust God again after experiences that shattered their faith.

I've also gotten to know new friends who have decided to face themselves honestly in the mirror for the first time in far too long. It's truly been exciting and amazing to be a small part of this admittedly unorthodox and varied community of faith.

The other day I forwarded Gordon an email which I thought was applicable to both our lives, sent to me from a woman I never met along with my response to her. He replied, "I guess we'll send each other emails now that you've started your own online ministry, one that was just as unintentional and now unavoidable as my own."

That was very flattering. I never considered this blog a ministry; I certainly didn't intend it to be one.

Then again, what is a ministry?

Throughout all of time, God has asked of us really only one thing - utilize the gifts He's graciously bestowed upon us to help Him have a true and loving relationship with humanity.

The means and the opportunity are already in the budget...all we have to do is stop underestimating Him.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. - 1 Corinthians 4-5