I’m learning that a steward responds to a word rather than reacts. A steward will plant his Master’s word in his own heart and make the changes needed to carry the word. Today’s steward lives within his means or makes the changes needed to do so. Today’s steward lives from foundations of honesty and integrity and builds to the sky with the tools of self-control and deliberate intention... Bethel Church was commissioned on February 25, 2007, again. The hectic conference surge retreated into our normal church rhythm. Our guest speakers lingered to share with the Bethel family. Larry Randolph opened Sunday morning with his good humor and sharp wit. Throughout his message, he provoked and encouraged our Bethel family to cross over the "River of Promise." His words stirred deep feelings and memories of old prophecies about salvations and parades of healed people. Bethel Church guards a rich history of these promises. And Larry kicked the beehive of imagination for bringing in a billion souls. He said, "We must cross the river and not flinch, not stagger, not blink." Larry said God is doing something again about "building big." Brick and mortar are on Gods mind. God has always moved men to build places to house His people--from the Tabernacle of David to Solomons Temple, from the early church cathedrals to the stadiums and mega-church buildings of today. For Bethel Church, Larry was clearly whetting our appetite for building with vision and courage. "We must not just build for our needs, but for the needs of the nations. God is looking for nations." That same evening, Bob Jones commissioned the Bethel Church leadership and church family to "build for the nations." Bob said God is telling many leaders to design their building plans for His review. God is looking over these plans so He can approve or disapprove the design. If God approves the plans, He will multiply the provision by a hundred. Bob explained, "The excess provision is necessary to deal with the influx of the nations, to handle all the people." The thought of a hundred-fold provision rolls through my mind. I ponder the idea of a billion souls saved. I imagine what worldwide revival looks like when it touches my neighbors. I look back and recognize how God has been crafting steward-hearts and steward-minds in men and women over months and years. I see it everywhere now and marvel at the wisdom of Jesus, our Master and Commander in Chief. I'm learning that a steward responds to a word rather than reacts. A steward will plant his Master's word in his own heart and make the changes needed to carry the word. Today's steward lives within his means or makes the changes needed to do so. Today's steward lives from foundations of honesty and integrity and builds to the sky with the tools of self-control and deliberate intention. God is requiring personal financial integrity in His stewards. He wants stewardship to first affect our private lives, where no one else sees. He wants us living within our means and giving generously to His purposes. Many of tomorrows stewards are living beyond their means today. Many are encumbered with debt and are bound to their jobs owing to overextended lifestyles. But those of us who are struggling need not be discouraged. Giving up is an entitlement of the lost. As children of God, we've been promoted to His Kingdom of Light. We carry a promise of help from the Author of faith Himself. We are princes and princesses, and compromise is not our option. Recently, I read a powerful story of a family who fled Fidel Castro's new government. The year was 1960, and Julio was only twenty-one years old. His father made plans for Julio, the eldest son, to fly to the United States and "establish a beachhead for the family…." Once Julio found a job and a place to live, he would send for his wife, his father and mother, his two sisters, and his younger brother. Together, they would begin their new lives as Cuban immigrants. Julio flew away carrying a commission and thirty dollars in American money hidden in toothpaste tubes. This story is so similar to where the Church is today. The Father is sending us, as stewards, to prepare a beachhead for His family. We carry the currency of Heaven, but it is hidden within our personal belongings. We need to learn the ways of commerce in this new economy, and we've got to be available when the flight takes to the sky. Julio concludes his story with one of the wisest statements I've ever read. Julio writes, "Dads last words when he took us to the airport were Julio, para atrás, ni para tomar impulso—Julio, never take a step back, not even to gather momentum." I dream about our stewarding roles. I feel God leaning into our agreement. I know that a steward will respond to His commission with generosity, and a steward will fight his way to availability. We each will decide how to walk out this commission. In Bob Jones words, "The time to march is now. Submit your plans!" 1 Tim. 6:17-19 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. __________________________________ 1 Tim Russert, Wisdom of Our Fathers (New York: Random House, 2006), 243.