First Things First

So what happens when donations fall behind budget, Tim? Great question. So glad you asked. Fortunately I haven’t been in this position much due to careful management and consistent donations. During the first couple of years of joining InterVarsity Staff, everyone works at building up enough budget to make longer term ministry sustainable. If you run ahead of what is being spent out of your budget, it positions you for a possible pay raise. But if you run behind, you carry your deficit till donations rebound, you recruit more donors or you cut expenses (usually a pay cut).

As I’ve been hinting, Covid has taken a bite out of what already is a faith-stretching challenge. Every year the basic goal in my case is to find enough giving units to cover a $102K budget and add on top of that the resources I need for developing new ministry in my territory. Without Covid, I started 2020 with no deficit and with a need to find about $12K in new support. With Covid, I’ve needed to find an additional $7-8K.

First things first, I need to close my “covid gap”. InterVarsity is helping me with a matching grant to make up the deficit as quickly as possible. The match began on November 1st and will be in effect till Jan 31st, 2021.

What does the match really mean?

For NEW support dollars I find between Nov 1st and Jan 31st, 2021, InterVarsity will match dollar for dollar up to $7,000. This will kill off my deficit and help me find new amounts of sustained support. Till now I’ve been reaching out to selected individuals to see if they’d like to help. I’ve found $3,900 from 6 sources! I’m over half way there (Pickto Chart)! The remaining $3,100 I hope will come in from another dozen or so people I’ve asked (as well as response to this blog post).

How could I help you?

First, I’m hoping and praying that if God has placed you on my support team, you’ll continue giving as you have been. My 80-ish active donors are basically keeping me in place, enabling me to do ministry and be paid for it. I’m so grateful for the core of my team who are just rock solid! I THANK YOU. MY FAMILY THANKS YOU!

There are two ways you can further help if you are one of those rock solid supporters and you have the ability. 1- any additional one-time amount you give on top of your usual donation will go to the covid relief match. 2- if you increase your monthly or annual amount that you are able to give, the difference will also be matched dollar for dollar.

I’m pretty sure the covid gap will be going away by the end of Jan 31st. I’ll still need to keep building my budget on top of that. Getting rid of my covid gap means that I’ll get out of deficit and back on my way to building my long-term ministry budget.

If you are an informed ministry partner, reading the blog and praying for me, but have not been able to donate, now would be a great time to jump on board if you’re able to help.

Click here to be taken to Tim’s donation page.

Thanks so much for what you do to make it possible for me to lead and serve in Graduate Faculty Ministries. Hope you and your family will have have a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving. If you have any questions about helping out please email me at this link:

Be blessed and stay well!

Are you a Naomi or a Mara?

Last week I had the best night of IV staff work I’ve experienced since the pandemic began! A group of Creighton OT2 students invited me to teach their small group in Oct/Nov. I brought them the story of Naomi (aka the book of Ruth). It’s the perfect pandemic narrative.

What’s with the loops?

This is one way to look at the story-line of the book of Ruth. I learned it as the Lowry Loop waaaay back in Homiletics lab. A character is moving along minding her own business, then out the blue something drops from the sky that threatens life. In Naomi’s case it was a famine. But it wasn’t just an isolated threat – it became a Quadruple Whammy!

Just like covid, an unwelcome antagonist unleashed multiple waves of undeserved punishment. Have you ever wondered why trials never happen as singlets? They always come two-for-the-price-of-one or in a convenient four-pack (like Costco uni-sex, one-size-fits-all underwear).

Naomi’s family lost their livelihood to a famine. They moved to a neighboring country with a foreign language and a very foreign god. Then things really got interesting… Naomi’s husband dies. Naomi has to marry her two sons off to Moabite women (what Jewish mother in her right mind would do that). Then her two sons die one after the other. And she’s left literally with nothing that would give a Jewish woman a hope or a future.

Are you sure this was a great pick for your group?

The students I’m studying Ruth with are Occupational Therapists in training. These are the people who put you back together after you have a stroke or some other accident or medical disaster. These students already know the book of Ruth when you stop and think about it. Naomi found herself after Lowry Loop #3 in a paralysis, stuck in a living situation she would have never picked for herself. Waiting for a vaccine.

There were a total of 9 of us who studied the book of Ruth. Here’s our group when we did chapter 4. A few striking pandemic-relief realities we found in the lives of Naomi and Ruth:

  1. Trials will always come. Just count on them. Not if… When… they come will you hold life loosely enough to let God move you through them? They will hurt. You will lose things.
  2. Will hardship mar your identity? Or will character pull you through the pandemic and make you a better person on the other side? Naomi’s name means “pleasant”. When she crawled back to Bethlehem after her humiliation she said, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara.” Mara means “bitter”. She blamed God for her losses and was ready to let her pandemic redefine her personality. Is anyone reading this?
  3. God provides the redemptive turn. It may take a while. God’s goal isn’t your paralysis. Your plot-line will bend back in a redemptive direction.
  4. There were 6 redemptive turns (at least) in the Naomi and Ruth’s story. Moab DID provide food and stability following the famine. Ruth and Orpah WERE good women for Naomi’s sons. The grain harvests DID return to Bethlehem. Etc…
  5. God’s favorite redemptive turns come in the form of people. God is never interested in just giving you the stuff you need. It’s so much more fun for him to give you the PEOPLE you need. Naomi needed Ruth and Orpah. She and Ruth needed Boaz and his good favor. Naomi needed her friends back in Bethlehem (even if they were tempted to gossip about her). Ruth needed Boaz. They all needed baby Obed at the end of the story!

So, how’s your pandemic going?

Are your losses still dogging you? Are you still in pain about anything? How do you feel about God letting this happen to you and those you care about? What’s interesting about Naomi’s story-line is that in spite of her crappy attitude, God doesn’t allow her to change her name from Naomi to Mara. Don’t let covid wear your personality down and change you from a Naomi to a Mara! Ask God to show you WHO you need and don’t be so worried about not having WHAT you need. At the end of the story when little Obed is peeing in her lap, Naomi’s girlfriends are laughing at her with joy. “Naomi has a son.” (Naomi, you do know that’s Ruth’s baby…)

When you think of my ministry, first of all, pray for these terrific Occupational Therapy Doctoral students! They are working incredibly hard to one day put themselves in a place of skilled healing in the lives of countless wounded people. They’ll be God’s people in a place of redemptive turn. They’ll get to see God use them to move life forward. Pray for their training. Pray for their relationship with Jesus to grow during these years of intense work. Pray for them as they each deal with their own pandemic antagonists.

Working on finding more donors….

Secondly, when you think of me, pray for God to bring more supporters to my ministry. I’m currently trying to address a deficit that has been developing since early last spring. As of October 31st, I need to resolve an $11K budget deficit! In posts to follow I’ll update you on how I’m doing with closing the Covid Gap. Between now and the end of the year I’ll be asking everyone supporting my work to let me know how they plan to partner with me in 2021. Please reply me when you get those posts!

My God bless you and keep you. Have a terrific and safe Thanksgiving!

Click here to donate to Tim’s work.