Twice in the past two weeks I was told about Julie & Julia, a movie that had its roots in blogging. This was how Mark Aranal, director, Crown Ministries trainer and our personal friend, encouraged me to blog about our Crown experience.
But God seemed to have written our particular curriculum differently. We were all dressed to go before 4pm (no babysitter, so kids come along), when “Dare You to Move” suddenly rang in the house. My cellphone was ringing.
It was the first time ever I got a call like that: voice-over talent needed, recording at 6pm. Leave now!
Having a background in production (I was a film major), I knew that the 3-4minute script would probably take an hour of takes, because this was the first time they would be hearing me.
And they insisted on taking me to dinner.
So Irl and the girls went to the Biblical Financial Studies under Mark, while I was chatting with the talent manager in the taxi on the way to Megamall, next door to CCF St. Francis Square where the seminar is being held for the next 9 Mondays (first session done).
No other thing to do, except to ask Irl to write about it. Here’s his report (highlights mine):
Our first session today was a little bit of an introduction to the whole course again, because Direk Mark repeated some information that he had mentioned in an introductory session 2 weeks ago. He mentioned again that churches teach about the 10% tithe, but they don’t talk about handling the other 90% responsibly. In fact, they usually shy away from talking about money matters. He also mentioned that there are over 2,350 verses in the Bible that talk about money, while other “more spiritual” topics like faith and prayer have only around 500. Finally, he mentioned that because of many people’s ignorance on these matters, giving to the work of God has been decreasing in the States, and children are also unable to handle money.
Direk then started the session material. He talked about God’s part in our finances, and then our part. When he talked about God’s part, he talked about God owning, controlling, and providing for everything. First, it is important for us to fully understand that we don’t own anything. GOD OWNS EVERYTHING. And that includes all of the money in our pockets. So when He says “Put this money here”, guess what? We do it. We’re just managers. If the store owner tells you, the store manager, to sell this line of goods at half price and give the proceeds to this organization, what’s that to you? You just follow the store owner.
And yet so often we act like we’re the owners of the money.
Then he talked about God being controller. He clarified that this was not about manipulating, because oftentimes that connotation accompanies the word “control”. He explained that the idea is that God is in control of everything, and bad things happening does not mean that he had lost control of the situation. In fact, he mentioned Joseph (aka the Dreamer): sold as a slave by his brothers, put in jail on a false charge, forgotten by a fellow inmate he helped. Yet after everything, he became prime minister of Egypt. When he met his brothers again, he told them that while they had planned this to harm him, God had planned everything for good.
Finally, he talked about God as provider. HE is our provider, not us. He hoped that all us control freaks listening would take that to heart (I admit I am one). We don’t have to worry about our financial provision anymore because He has promised to take care of that. We also don’t have to worry about the how because he has both predictable and unpredictable ways at his disposal. Direk then mentioned several examples of how God gave miraculous and mundane provision for certain people, citing Cora Chan, the current head of Crown Financial Ministries in the Philippines (should I try to get her story for this blog series? –Ditas).
After that, he talked about our part. He emphasized the attitude of faithfulness as being central to our role as managers and stewards. The Tagalog word he used was katiwala, a person that you put in charge of your affairs or your estate. First, we have to be faithful with what we have. The amount of faithfulness needed in handling P20 is the same amount of faithfulness needed in handling P20million. This led to his second point: you have to show yourself faithful in little things before you can receive the big things. Many times we don’t get the big amount we pray for because we aren’t ready to deal with it yet. We haven’t shown that we are faithful with the little we already have. Direk also explained that if we receive the big amount before we’re ready, it might actually harm us. Finally, he talked about being faithful with other people’s possessions. Do we take care of the things we borrow? Do we return them in good condition or break them? Do we replace them if we break them? Then he brought it closer to home. Do we throw away our candy wrappers properly when we’re out on the street? Or do we add to the already great mess that’s out there in Metro Manila? Direk stressed that something as little as that is used to measure our faithfulness in handling other people’s – or in this case, PUBLIC – property.
Direk Mark assured us that it is usually easier to talk about the concepts than to do them. With some people the process might be quick, but with others it could take longer. The important thing was to do it and make it part of your life. After this, he talked about homework requirements, and fielded questions on the lesson and the course. There was free coffee (and snacks!) so we all enjoyed that. Finally, we closed with a prayer on our knees (a Crown Ministries practice), and then we had small talk afterwards. Many people asked me why my wife Ditas wasn’t present, and I told them that she was called to a last-minute voice-over project in Makati.
And so there you have it: the session I missed, yet somehow didn’t. Irl says that while he was learning it in the session room, I was living it in a recording studio: God’s unpredictable way of providing.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a missionary, and I did a lot of volunteer work in ministry organizations and a couple of local churches. I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in providing for need. Sometimes I would leave the house with only enough money to get me to the place and back, and yet I’d come home with more money in my pocket!
But it’s a different story for a husband and father. No amount of testifying to my husband about my money adventures when I was single would cut it for him. I had to shut up and pray, and wait for him to open his eyes to that particular truth: God IS the provider. Not Irl. And it seems that finally, after reading Howard Dayton’s book Your Money Counts and the first session of Crown Ministries Biblical Financial Studies, he’s starting to believe it!
If you’re in Metro Manila, Philippines and would like to join us for the next nine Mondays, we’re meeting at Christ’s Commission Fellowship St. Francis Square, room 403. It’s right behind Megamall (there’s also a way through Podium). We start at 6:30pm and end at 9. Hope to see you there!