I accidentally ran across a phrase several weeks ago that I’ve never heard before. It caused my wheels to turn as it validated what I have felt for some time now. The phrase is “cost benefit analysis”. Before I go there, I would like to share something with you. I have been sensing for the past few years an area that is monumentally out of balance in the body of Messiah. I made a video a few years ago where I put forth multiple reasons why a movement had become irrelevant. After recent conversations with several friends of mine in the church, they are, for the most part, saying the same thing about the church. Especially in the specific area that I will touch on.
When I feel the Creator is speaking to me about something, I bounce it off others examining if it is from me or the Creator. Lately I’ve been talking to several people in the body of Messiah about what I’ve sensed for some time now. The brothers and sisters I’ve chatted with aren’t from one specific denomination or movement. They come from all different flavors. Most of them are ministers or leaders so they are well versed on this matter also.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
In every one of these conversations, we seem to end up talking about the current condition of the body of Messiah. In these conversations, the word apathy has surfaced multiple times across many areas; especially in the areas of giving and making sacrifices. Hopefully we can quickly make the proper adjustments in order to bring balance and encouragement to others.
What is cost benefit analysis? This phrase means you look at the cost of investing in something verses the benefits you receive from that investment. If the benefits outweigh the cost, then the project or investment will probably move forward. If the cost is greater than the benefits received from the investment, then the project or investment will more than likely be cast away without giving it a second thought. That phrase is usually used with business matters, but it also applies to things in our everyday life. I’ve talked at length in the past about temporal values verses eternal values, and this cost benefit analysis ties right into that. We are very familiar with the American way of doing things when it comes to ‘investing’ in something. The least amount of responsibility, sacrifice, time, energy, effort, and money I have to invest in order to acquire the greatest gain, the better. In some cases, this isn’t wrong. It’s smart business. On the other hand, when it comes to our spiritual lives and relationship with the God of Israel, what about spiritual cost benefit analysis? Are we investing in the Kingdom using the American way? Are we even investing at all in the work of our King and ruler of the Universe? In my opinion, keeping a feast, a commandment, or specific day isn’t an investment, it’s our duty as covenant people. Those things are actually easy to do.
Y’shua (Jesus) spoke about the cost of following Him in many parables and not one place did He speak of giving a little or sacrificing some. Matter of fact it’s very clear in scripture what He demanded in order to become a true disciple.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? Luke 9:23-25
What I’m about to share isn’t coming from a place of anger, offense, bitterness, or being critical. I’m sharing my experiences over the years, my heart, and an enormous need with the few of you who personally know and follow C.L.M. I’ve very seldom asked for monetary help during my fifteen years in full time ministry. That has only been by the grace and mercy of the Almighty. I’ve asked on behalf of others here in Central America, but maybe once or twice for personal reasons. Prosperity pimp preachers make my stomach turn and have done great damage to those who are out there truly building the Kingdom of YHVH.
As some of you know, I work a secular job in Alaska on a commercial salmon seiner. This job allows me to fund 60-80% of the ministry depending on the type of season we have. Without that job I would not be able to do just one of the following: ministry, put food on my table, or pay my bills with the current offerings the ministry receives. I work and don’t expect to live high on the hog off of others hard earned money. I’m an independent minister that preaches the gospel to the whosoevers mentioned in John 3:16. I don’t have an organization that pays me a yearly salary of 60-80K with benefits where I go preach somewhere once a month and take a few pictures and send them back to the States to drum up more support. Let me be clear, I’m not complaining or being critical, but I’ve never shared this openly until now.
What is extremely frustrating is something I’ve seen and experienced over the last few years. Believers willingly and cheerfully giving to something where they obtain something in return, cost benefit analysis, while leaving those who are laboring with all their strength and might out in the cold to fend for themselves because there isn’t really anything we can give to them. The following is only one example. Next time you are at a big ministry conference, watch the merchant tables verses the ministry tables that have teachings. Nine times out of ten the merchant tables that sell shofars, organic foods, health supplements, prayer shawls, jewelry with Hebrew motifs, soaps, and essential oils are jam packed. The tables of ministers who have teachings for sale have fewer people than the merchant tables. If folks want to sell oils and Hebrew trinkets, that is their business. I’m not saying I’m against those things because I own several of those things. The point I’m making is many believers have become unwilling to give to something, someone, or a ministry where there isn’t an instant gratifying return. And we wonder why we aren’t seeing the book of Acts come to pass in our day and age? I’ve seen this with ministry projects that I’ve done here in Costa Rica. Over the past several years there has been a tremendous decline in the monthly offerings C.L.M. receives. We currently have five faithful monthly supporters. I appreciate these brethren more than they will ever know. People ask me all the time what do you need in ministry? What is your greatest need in ministry? The answer is simple. Faithful monthly financial supporters that I can count on. This will enable the ministry to commit to more projects.
The hardest pill I’ve had to swallow lately is having people and very well known ministers make financial vows only to never fulfill them. I don’t know the reason why some start and stop shortly afterwards or never even begin to go through with their commitment. I’m not sure at all, but I must be honest it’s very frustrating and lets me down. When a person comes on board becoming a monthly supporter, I usually commit those finances to a new or current ministry project, helping a widow, helping someone in need, or helping fund the ‘free’ training center, which really isn’t free for the ministry but is for the participants. When those offerings stop or never come in, I’m left with two choices. One being cancel the project and renege on my word to others, thus tainting my witness as a representative of Messiah to those I’ve committed. I’ve done this in the past, and it has caused some brethren to accuse me of not doing anything in the ministry. To that false accusation I respond, “You are more than welcome and invited to come walk with me and do ministry with me here in Costa Rica.” Those accusations usually come from folks who have never personally met me or have never been to Costa Rica to work with C.L.M. Lastly, I can personally pick up the slack and take money from my secular work in Alaska that’s been set aside for my family and use it to fill the void. I’ve done this in the past but it’s getting tougher and tougher to do as of late. Please hear my heart, I’m not complaining or trying to shame anyone, but I wish folks would come walk in my shoes. It’s time for believers and ministries to refrain from just talking and teaching about doing acts of justice and righteousness and start DOING them! How can you do your part and help meet a big need C.L.M. has? By becoming a faithful monthly financial supporter, and helping us to continue building the Kingdom of the God of Israel in Costa Rica. Souls await on the other side of our obedience. As a friend said to me recently, “The bottom line is we are religiously programed to give, to get back in return, that’s not what Jesus said about giving.” I couldn’t agree more. We make a living by what we earn, but a life by what we give. Blessings.