Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Giving and generosity are at the heart of who God is. Since this will be the last Bethlehem Star weekly newsletter before the end of the year, Executive Pastor Sam Crabtree has asked me to provide an update on our end-of-year finances in the context of Christmas giving.
Christmas is one of the best times to remind ourselves that we have a generous Father who loves to give good gifts to his children out of the overflow of his abundance, and that he calls us to generously steward—as his money managers—the many resources he provides and to wisely invest these resources in heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:19–21).
This year, as we ask God for grace and a spirit of cheerful generosity to meet the needs of Bethlehem’s remaining 2011 Church & Missions expenses, let’s go beyond our own needs and consider a special Christmas gift to other kingdom-advancing ministries. Let’s pray, and give, so that God’s faithfulness in providing for Bethlehem’s finances during the remaining two weeks of December might overflow in blessing to Bethlehem’s other ministry partners.
2011 Church & Missions (C&M) Budget Update
Giving of our tithes and offerings is included as an integral part of our worship services. As stated in our Church Covenant, “We engage … to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.” We strive to honor the Lord with the “firstfruits” of all our labor.
With two full weekends left in Bethlehem’s 2011 fiscal year, we need about $1.4M by December 31 to meet anticipated C&M expenses of $9.1M. Your gifts help to fund over 100 Global Outreach partner families, cover operating costs for all facilities, pay staff salaries, and support a myriad of other ministries.
Thank you for your faithful support throughout the year! If you’d like a brief reminder of the eternal impact that our C&M gifts have to advance God’s purposes throughout the world, review Pastor Sam’s July 12, 2011, Star article, “A Temporal Milestone Toward Eternal Impact.” For more information on giving options at Bethlehem …
- See the article on “Giving at Bethlehem” for other options for making your contribution.
- Refer to the Bethlehem Updates Blog each remaining week in 2011 for an update on progress toward meeting 2011 C&M expenses.
Treasuring Christ Together (TCT) Update
In the past month, since Pastor John’s “Celebrating 140 Years of God’s Faithfulness” Star article, (November 8, 2011) God has enabled you to give almost 2/3 of a million dollars ($635,239) to TCT’s multi-faceted strategy of fulfilling our mission statement by establishing campuses, planting churches, and caring for the world’s poor through the Global Diaconate.
Please continue to pray and give toward our $1M goal to accelerate pursuit of a 24/7 South Campus, and be encouraged that God’s faithfulness in the past gives us strong warrant to trust him with our financial future:
- Since TCT’s Building One People was first “soft-launched” in September 2010, God has provided nearly $2M toward our $18M goal.
- Since TCT fundraising for the North Campus began in early 2004, God has enabled you to give over $10M to TCT, with nearly $1M each going to both church planting and the Global Diaconate.
Bethlehem Ministry Partners
Did you know that each of Bethlehem’s ministry partners raise most, if not all, of their operating funds independently from our C&M budget? Each of these ministries overseen by our Council of Elders has a unique focus, and each is also in need of funds to finish strong in 2011.
- Bethlehem College and Seminary:
See BCS’s opportunities for prayer and financial support, and “A Strategic Investment.”
- Bethlehem Urban Initiatives:
See BUI’s two matching grant opportunities (expiring 12/31/2011).
- Desiring God:
See “Desiring God Mission Update” from Pastor John.
- Training Leaders International:
See TLI’s “End of Year Update”
If you’re not yet personally invested in one or more of these, might this December be the time that God calls you to “adopt” (prayerfully and financially) a Bethlehem ministry partner—beginning now and continuing on into 2012, over-and-above your regular C&M financial commitments?
As we give gifts to each other this Christmas, let’s remember that the Greatest Gift ever given said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and prayerfully consider how we can each increase our joy by giving back to God a generous portion of what he’s given us to steward for his glory and our joy.
Lead Pastor for Operations