All In – A New Building

Let’s begin with the scripture that describes what a church building is supposed to look like.

God gave specifics on the ark Noah built, Genesis 6:14-18,
the tabernacle during Moses’ day, Exodus 26,
the temple Solomon built, Exodus 25:10-22,
even the ark of the covenant, 1 Chronicles 28:19.

But nothing about a church building!

  • ekklesia was the word Jesus used for the church in Matthew 16:18 which means a gathering or assembly
  • kirche began to be used in Europe, sometime around the 4th century, emphasizing a building, denoting a place for Christian worship

Romans 16:3, 5

The church is not a building. It might meet in a building, but isn’t limited to buildings for worship.

John 4:21

The building is nothing more than a tool.
– It is not the holy of holies.
– It is not more holy than a civic center.
– It is not venerable.
– It is not to be idolized, honored nor receive our undying devotion.
– It does not need protection from other activities.

   It’s just a building!

What makes a building special is the way the building is used by the church!

How 29:11 will utilize this building…

Rules

Matthew 23:1-7

The defining characteristic of man’s religion? An overabundance of rules!

But let me be very direct! Rules are good, beneficial, required, etc

But rules are elementary steps or stages of relationships.

1, We need to mature past just doing things because of rules

2, And no one wants a relationship that has devolved into a list of rules!

Spiritual disciplines:
Bible
Prayer & Fasting
Worship, Gratitude
Fellowship, Gathering
Stewardship


Asking what is the least I can do to get to heaven isn’t a relationship, it’s a religion of rules!


Imagine your spouse is away for a week. But they leave you notes, send texts and make phone calls but you ignore them, put off reading or answering.

       1, we miss help to make our lives better

       2, we seriously damage our relationship with God

In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks didn’t find even one Bible in all those boxes!

1, without the Bible I have to work harder to maintain my relationship with God!

2, the Bible helps my relationship with God get deeper, stronger!


So don’t read, pray, gather, worship and give because it’s a rule. Read, pray, gather, worship and give because it’s who we are and it deepens our relationship with God!

Loopholes

Religious people use loopholes to both get out of laws/rules we don’t agree with, (ex. That’s the Old Testament, or Jesus didn’t really say or mean that) as well as hold others to a standard we don’t hold ourselves to.

Jesus called the Pharisees out for this. – Matthew 15:1-9

When we understand that Jesus didn’t use any loopholes when it came to forgiving us, we realize we can’t use them against others. Instead Jesus challenges us to repay this “debt of love”. Pay all that you owe, whether it is taxes and fees or respect and honor.

Romans 13:7-9

Matthew 22:34-40

In light of these scriptures that lay out love being the lenses we see God’s law through, our question is no longer, “How much do I have to do?” But rather, “What does love require of me today?” How can I repay the debt of love that I e received?

Losing MY Religion

Moral compass – Without something pointing us north (like we need to be pointed toward God) our focus becomes inner, self focused. So whatever makes me happy is best, right, acceptable.

Without a moral compass we can justify anything.

My greatest concern with pastoring an independent church…

Jesus had that moral compass. John 7:16-18


This isn’t a mere call to follow Jesus better just for the sake of obedience. It’s also encouragement, mentoring, pastoring, to say if we want to have impact like Jesus then let’s stop doing it our way and try doing it His!


Three truths about Jesus and personal interactions:

  1. Jesus was only rude to a very few people.
  2. Jesus wasn’t rude to people just because they disagreed with Him.
  3. Jesus was rude to those who were supposed to be leaders but were breaking the law.

If my religion tells me to be rude, attack verbally, etc, it’s probably not Jesus’ religion.


We often must decide if we want people to hear our personal message or our Jesus message. Because they usually won’t listen to both.

Proverbs 15:1

Matthew 10:16

Look at IMPACT Jesus’ way. Not political, no personal axe to grind. Some great examples are John 7:15, 46, Matt 7:28, 13:54, 22:33, Luke 2:47, 4:22, 32, Mark 1:22, 6:2

What was so amazingly different?

Living water, the Spirit, for those thirsty, John 7:37-39

Parables of two sons, evil farmers, the great feast – a common moral that it’s not what you say but what you do! Matt 21-22

Yet Matthew 7 is the best insight into what amazed so many people:

  • Don’t judge others
  • Be careful finding fault with others while ignoring your own faults!
  • Don’t waste your efforts where you know they won’t be received!
  • Keep on asking & receive… seeking & find… knocking & doors will open
  • God wants to give good gifts
  • The Golden Rule
  • The path to eternal life takes effort, as opposed to the path to death
  • Be careful who you listen to
  • Activity is not enough, not the goal, but doing God’s will is

Jesus’ teaching, His way, is a rock to build your life upon. Our religion is shifting sand!

When we share our God-given passion with Jesus’ words and in His way, lives and hearts are changed!

Jesus has given me passion AND direction on how to share it!

Responding in Difficult Times

The first part of 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…”

Don’t respond in fear!

The Greek word used here that we translate to fear means “cowardice or reticence”

There is paralyzing fear and there is the fear that is just over-concern. Either one, fear is not from God!

So is what follows in that verse the opposite response of fear? In a way.


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power…”


There is peace in strength, especially His strength. If I know I can handle it then there is no need to fear.

It’s not just that God gives us power but He has given us a spirit or an attitude of power!


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love…”


Same as above, not just the command to love but we have been given a spirit, an attitude of love.

Love – perfect love casts out all fear. Fear keeps us from one another, physically and emotionally.


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”


Sound mind – peace, calm, sober, level headed, not stirred, not shaken by circumstances, not over-reactive!

We are merchants of peace, purveyors of His peace! This world needs what we’re offering!

Respond in confident power,
in a spirit of love,
in a calm, level-headed way.

An Invitation to Dream Again

Jeremiah 32:6-7

Why this is even worth noting in the Bible…

  1. Judah was not following God, not walking in blessing – verse 23
  1. Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonian army – verse 2
  1. Jeremiah was in jail for preaching, because his sermon wasn’t popular – also verse 2

But God gives a promise through Jeremiah’s message: It was going to get worse before it gets better.

The Bible is full of the promise of restoration!

Joel 2:25, Isaiah 61;7, Job 42:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Genesis 28:15, 48:21, Psalm 126:1, Deuteronomy 30:3

Haggai 2:9

And to Jeremiah God says land will again be sold and purchased! verse 15


Christianity is about hope!


Context is always important…

This new building is not a traditional “church” building nor the Civic Center. So things will be different, the way we use it, what we can and will do with it.


If God has led us here, then God is leading us to something different!

The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted our nation, communities, the way we work and shop and play – and church. What things look like in the future is still unknown. But we all agree things will change. And when things change, businesses that don’t adapt (like sell online) and churches that don’t adapt become irrelevant, inaccessible and extinct.

And I believe God is leading each of you to do something that you’ve never dreamed possible!


Have you ever thought about Jesus’ Dream?

Jesus dreamed about people following God’s will! Luke 22:42, Matthew 6:10

Jesus dreamed that we would love one another! John 13:34

 And Jesus had a dream of unity! John 17:20-23

According to a recent survey of pastors, unity is the #1 concern of pastors right now! It’s easier to be rude, hurtful, critical when you aren’t face to face. And it’s harder to have great, meaningful conversations.


Recap…

We cannot fully realize our dreams without pursuing God’s dream!

The dream is bigger, and deeper, than we often imagine!

So dream! This difficult time doesn’t dictate the dream!

An Invitation to Forgive Again

Our emotional responses, like criticism, cynicism and unforgiveness, often backfire on us.

If you’ve given up on trusting people because too many relationships have ended badly, it’s time to wipe the slate clean, and let people in.

 

WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

Forgiveness is a choice.

Forgiveness doesn’t take time or special circumstances. It is immediate, instantaneous. So…

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  • Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
  • Forgiveness does not take away the pain, it is not healing, but can begin the healing process.
  • Forgiveness is not deserved or earned.

We forgive those who don’t deserve it because we don’t deserve it.

Forgiveness is dropping the rock. It is no longer demanding someone be punished for hurting you.

In John 8:3-11 Jesus’ immediate response was forgiveness!

Forgiveness depends solely on the forgiver.

It is an error to say “I don’t have to forgive someone until they apologize.” Jesus’ example in Luke 23:34


Here is your invitation to bless someone

Romans 4:7


Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. Proverbs 19:11
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

An Invitation to Gather Again

Some have enjoyed this isolation… but it’s time to gather again.

We were not designed for life alone! We were designed for community!

Just because you CAN make it alone doesn’t mean you SHOULD!

There are perks to doing church online … but it can never really be a true replacement.


This is a reminder for all of us to see why gathering is so important and a call to embrace the full scope of what it means to BE the church not just go to a building.


The Church in not kirche, a building, but ekklesia, a gathering of people united by identity and purpose!

The New Testament never describes a building as a church.

Acts 2:42-47


Five things you miss if you don’t gather!

Worship
Ephesians 5:18-19

But I also believe there is a theological reason why your singing along with the television isn’t the same thing as your experience on Sunday morning. And I hope we remember this and carry it with us even after this thing is over. You and I are meant to “sing to one another” and you cannot do that as well with worship at home. It’s hard to live out Ephesians 5:18-19 in your living room. To only sing vertically is to forget that we were saved into a people. It isn’t just me and Jesus. My relationship with God is intimately connected to the vital companionship I share with my brothers and sisters. So we need to sing songs together. And to one another.
– Mike Leake

Encouragement
Hebrews 10:24-25

Missions
Isolation breeds selfishness – article

Spiritual development
During online church, most people handled it one of two ways:

  • They either let someone do their worship for them and got weaker in faith and further from God’s dream and planned blessings for their life, or
  • They felt online wasn’t enough and they owned their growth! They went deeper! They took advantage of opportunities. And the spiritually rich get richer.

Connection
We are a body. We’re not independent but interdependent. We are a family and someone needs you!


An Invitation to Gather Again

We Can Do More Together

There is great power in unity!

Gideon’s story in Judges 7:15-25

Joshua leading Israel around Jericho in Joshua 6:8-16

Nehemiah 4:6

Formula One pit stop

But we live in a time of individuality, we don’t need anyone else. It’s a consumer-oriented time where spectatorship is higher than ever.

We have come to believe that we are truly part of something by simply watching it.
Casey Cockerham

The Bible does not encourage us to spectate!

Ephesians 4:7-8

Ephesians 4:11-12

You are God’s gift to your communities!

Everyone has something awesome to do for Jesus!

In the last 4 months:
Food banks have probably fed more people than ever,
landlords have forgiven rent more than ever,
companies have delayed and forgiven payments more than ever,
families have shared food with other families perhaps more than ever.

But all this is normal for Jesus’ church.

The church isn’t perfect but the majority of the good in this world has been led by the church!