Why We Ask - Not Business as Usual
|Not Business as Usual-
Bill Martin's Take on Sharathon
It's not business as usual.
After 30 years of Helping You Find Joy, Sharathon is kind of status-quo, you'd think, business as usual, raising almost 2 million dollars in listener donations to fund the operation of our 3-state media network. We've existed on direct appeals to enthusiastic listeners for 3 decades. It's supposed to work this way, and we can count on it working like this every time we ask, right?
Having participated in every fundraiser for 30 years here, I've come to realize The JOY FM is a fragile thing. Don't take it for granted that we're solid just because we're strong. We are dependent on your generous support like a body needs air and water. Without it, we dry up and suffocate. Thank God for consistent giving from the hearts and hands of listeners like you for 30 years. You have given freely and given often, but your giving is fragile too.
The nourishment of listeners' support is their economic situation. When times are good, people are generous. Lean times mean less giving, though our most faithful givers hang with us despite an occasionally undernourished economy. Another nutrient is freedom. In a free society, philanthropy thrives, people are not overburdened with taxes or regulations. Have you looked around lately? Freedom feels more fragile than ever, I would say. Sadly, we can't take a steady diet of faith-freedoms for granted these days.
These conditions, political and economic, are the context in which The JOY FM's listener-support model flourishes. More than these, transcending them, is the spiritual fruit borne from the work we do, and that work is anything but business as usual. It's kingdom business.
In Romans 14:17 (ESV), Paul writes, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. When it comes to business, our products are spiritual, not material--though I don't want to radically divide those realms. Kingdom business centers on people. When people hear a song about God's grace and become aware of their faulty pursuits of righteousness and the free gift of salvation obtained exclusively by faith in Jesus, that's kingdom business. When men or women, tormented by appetites or behaviors that constantly suck them into chaos find the peace of God that surpasses understanding, that's kingdom business, and when hearts full of light break into dark places--into car speakers and earbuds--and drown out dark voices of hopelessness and condemnation, that's the kingdom's product: JOY, the fruit of the Holy Spirit!
This is not business as usual, it's kingdom business.
To be sure, the JOY FM is a business. Your support provides salaries and employment costs for almost 50 employees. It keeps the lights on, so to speak, for 16 separate transmitter facilities across Florida and Georgia, all of which require regular maintenance. (If you could see the power bill!) Offices, computers, licensing, fees, promotions, advertising, transportation, events, mailings, etc. That's the business of radio. But that's not our business, strictly speaking.
Our business is kingdom business. I never want to be so focused on the status quo that I miss the bottom line of ministry to people. That's the kingdom business God has called us to. If business conditions become tight, if the context of political freedom and economic prosperity changes, those shifting sands don't negate the calling we have to do the work of the kingdom. If we fail to do the work of the kingdom, then and only then will we pack our bags and turn out the lights. May that day be distant. May this fruitful season be long and abundant.
So when we ask, we're asking you to partner with us in kingdom business. That's why we ask. And maybe that's why for 30 years, you've answered with, "Sign me up!" You are just as much part of this kingdom business as the employees of The JOY FM. You are literally helping people find joy and doing the work that leads to kingdom righteousness and peace in their lives. Every gift given in faith promotes the business of the kingdom and leads to productive ministry that God can use to change lives and glorify His Son.
One more thing. As important as you are, The JOY FM is not ultimately dependent on you either. The idea of a radio station with a mission and business model like this one simply looks silly on paper. It shouldn't work. The fact that it does is evidence of providential calling and care. We are utterly dependent upon God and God alone. Just like you, our hearts beat and our lungs fill because of the Giver of life. And life is fragile. When it's over, it's over.
Let's not take this season for granted. Let's be about the business of the kingdom.
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