$202.24 offering & I want to buy bullets

note: As I mentioned before and will do so here for the last time, these post are my reflections on the past, musings on the future and confessions from the present. I pray that as you will read all of these weekly blogs, beginning with the first one to understand them in context. These are my thoughts, my mind and my individual transformation from who I used to be to what God wants me to be. God is good all the time, and sometimes when things aren’t how you want them…it’s exactly how God wants it.

Our church AC had just died, the fan would kick on and then kick off. The auditorium was smoking hot and if you have ever done any amount of public speaking you know how hot it can get while on the platform without air movement. It’s Sunday morning about 15till morning service is to start, my wife and my son are the only ones here…know the feeling?

The building is smoking hot because in Michigan, on certain days in August, global warming is real on Sundays. No joke its probobly 95 degrees outside and we have opened the doors to let that heat in because our old building (which is more like a tin can on a hot pavement) is cooking me alive inside like a frog in a kettle.

People start to show up which is great, late of course – they’re baptist. It’s 2008 summer and what seemed like a easy church replant was not taking shape like I had thought. I remember asking God why the furnace would break, why the fan would break, why the people were late, why I was sweating so much thru my suit that my entire body felt like a fish in water and why I just couldn’t understand all this. I knew I was obeying God, and I wasn’t questioning God’s providence or control or plan – just trying to figure it out before I was cooked to death in my own church building like a hotdog on a grill.

The day before I had been out door-knocking from 830am-6pm. I had passed out so many gospel tracts that I didn’t feel like going to church. Blisters on my feet, pants muddy from people not having sidewalks, my head was burning from the sunburn the day before and my loving wife was still nursing and caring for our newborn…so I hadn’t slept in weeks. After hundreds upon hundreds of doors, countless people promised to visit…but being the pastor’s kid that I am and understanding the depravity of man, I knew a lie when I heard it.

It’s 11:05am on Sunday and there are 9 people in church. Here I am. A Seminary Bible College graduate in his first pastorate. My first church plant. My first ministry…and it was not what I expected. I expected the textbooks to be right…preach about Jesus & love, hand out thousands of flyers, put up balloons, hang a fancy sign, print nice worship guides, have awesome music…and the thousands will come. Thousands in Detroit resonate to that of 9, 3 of them were my family.

I preached that morning on a sermon entitled “Think BIG.” I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind for some time but during the whole sermon I couldn’t get another thought out of my mind that over-ceeded the sermon…”How can I tell these people to believe something I am struggling with.” Don’t get me wrong…those first months were crazy…we had crack dealers come to church and offer me great deals on drugs (tempting at times lol). We had drug deals go down in the parking lot, we had police raid our neighbors for illicit sex trafficking, we had old evil church members come back to just rat out other old evil church members, I had a lady who would interrupt me every time I would get up to preach, sing or talk. We had bills come in the mail from previous decisions made by past pastors that I would have to work for months to pay off and now today the AC don’t work…I was being tested.

The Sunday ended, the offering was $202.24. I had put in $200, do the math. My wife had made a great dinner for lunch but I could hardly eat, all I wanted to do was go buy bullets and shoot the devil. I knew what was going on and I just didn’t want to admit it. This was my Mountain. This was the first of many tests. Would I trust God and obey or quit…worse than quitting would I start doubting? It was then there, half asleep in bed wishing for bullets and praying for God to allow me to strangle someone to get my rage out that God spoke to me. No I am not charismatic and no I didn’t hear a voice…but you could have fooled me. I jumped up from my bed and ran to my little desk and folding chair I bought on credit from Target in my make-shift office and starting writing everything God was telling me.

That night God gave me think BIG. That night what I preached about now had a specific plan & vision. It didn’t make any sense…how was I supposed to do this with $2.24? How was God going to pay off the debt? Where were the people going to come from? Why would anyone want to come to my church when we have nothing to offer program wise? All these questions came…and here was God’s reply…think BIG.

Every year in March I preach for four Sundays about think BIG. Think BIG is not what you might be thinking it is…it’s us thinking BIG about God and letting Him change us. Think BIG is the plan God has for me, for NBC and for Detroit. I am three years removed from that Sunday morning, this past Sunday morning our early service had a good group attending and the Bible Class had 8! Our Sunday morning worship was fantastic and the auditorium was well over 3/4 full. Our church is growing. We have seen people saved, baptized and join the church. God has saved crack dealers and they are now ushers, we have grown from 9 people on a hot August morning, to a membership of 80 with 50-75 averaging weekly with high days near 100. God has paid off the debt and blessed the church and built the church and saved people and changed me. I can’t wait for the next mountain.

This past Sunday the offering was $553…and I still want bullets.


let the redeemed speak louder,

pastor jon



Filed under Lessons from life

2 responses to “$202.24 offering & I want to buy bullets

  1. Thank you for this! I have been there (and am there) myself. Looking forward to temps warmer than single digits and cases of our new church invites for our Spring/Summer community blitz. May God grow His church here in Northern Wisconsin. Your testimony of God growing His church is health to the soul. God bless you friend!

  2. Nathanael Lindqist

    What you talked about here is one of the reasons I left college. I was used to sitting in a church all my life with no air conditioning, hard wood benches, (west Africa) so on any given day these Moslem’s would be more than happy to off me and my family. Often there was barely anyone there. In my dads 22 years of full time ministry at the time, he could boast MAYBE a total of 62 accepting Christ as their savior and when we left we still did not have 10 faithful. Then when I was in college spending money for tuition the final straw that broke the camels back for me was sitting in a class that was requiring us to take notes on… “if the kids are this height, then the Sunday school chairs should be this high, but if they are this height, then the chairs should be this height instead.” WHAT?! You have got to be kidding me, I thought. I don’t have to reiterate but I was paying money for so much “Christian fantasy” that I was about to have a heart attack. Lets face it. Christ rarely even had the chance to talk in his own fathers house. He constantly wandered the deserts of Israel and in Matthew 5 hiked a mountain, sat down and preached… only to later down the road have a large group of his audience help crucify him. Praise the Lord your hanging in there. He that is faithful in little will also be faithful in that which is much… and if one looks closely, the time of much is NOT referring to now. It is referring to when all is over and it’s time to come back to earth and reign. A subconscious but foul message that is unspoken but taught is… “If you do a good job for God, then you’r success for God will be evident.” Wrong! at least not now. And I become very leery of Christian ministries that are massive successes by viewable standards. It is worthy if a man be found FAITHFUL not successful. A wise man falleth seven times and riseth yet again… but it didn’t say he succeeded. It just says he keeps getting up. I’m glad to see your trusting in God and that you keep plodding on. As Hebrews states, we just keep wandering the earth, searching for a city whose builder and maker is God… and that wandering will not end till we get to THAT city!
    I’m with you about the hot church building as well, the west end of the Sahara was a blistering hot place, and the dirt storms made it detestable. lol I’m not even there and the memory is still stuck in my mind.
    Hope that is some sort of encouragement.

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