We are so thankful for this day, for this this moment.
I want to thank all of you for your sacrifices.
So many of you played such a significant role in getting our church to this moment.
Many of you made significant financial sacrifices to generously give to this project.
Many of you dedicated so much of your time and energy to make this building what it is
I want to say a special thank you to our Staff who put in so much work.
A special thank you to Zach Foty & Kiah Ortman who deserve so much of the credit for the look and feel of this place.
Along with our architects from Cuningham Group
A big thank you to Ryan Speck, Rachel Cheney, and others who put so much time and many late nights in to preparing this place to open
As I know so many of you were here until 1 in the morning every night the past few weeks getting it ready.
Thank you to our building team who made so many hard, complex, and big decisions over the past few years.
And I want to say a special thank you to two people from our church who put in, maybe more time than anyone else over the past 6 years.
In fact, I’d like to invite them on stage right now.
That’s Brian Prunty & Ben Riechers.
Both of these guys have been serving the church in this endeavor since they joined our original “Land Search Team” back in 2014…and they have done so the whole time as volunteers.
They served for 3 years on our Land Team, and then continued on to join our Building Team starting in 2017.
Ben is a former CFO, and he has used his financial expertise to lead our church’s building project finances so well during these years.
Back in 2014, he created financial modeling for what our church might be able to handle in 2021 and beyond…
He also managed the finances on this multi-million dollar project this past year.
It’s not as easy task, and our church has been so blessed to have him.
And Brian, who is an architect in his day job, has skillfully led our Building Team through this process.
Not only has our church been incredibly blessed by his vast knowledge and experience, but also by his intense dedication.
Brian put in an incredible amount of work on your behalf, and on behalf of those who will come to know Christ here in the future.
I swear there were days where this probably felt like a full-time job for him.
But He did it, and both of these men deserve your honor and appreciation.
So let’s honor them now.
And thank you to ALL of you for your work and dedication.
But there is one who deserves more credit than anyone else, and that is our Father in Heaven.
Despite our dedication and hard work, there have been at least 3 times since we started looking for land back in 2014…that I was fairly convinced that we would never get to this moment.
And yet, here we are.
And every time we thought hope was lost, God moved in miraculous ways.
And this morning, I want to look at a story in the Bible where God also moved in a miraculous way, and show you how the people of God uniquely decided to remember what God did for them.
I’d love for you all to look at this with me
You can do so by using the Renovation Church App (Bible/Weekly Verses)
Or, if you like, you can grab a Bible from underneath the chair in front of you (or under your chair if you’re in the front row)
Because of our social-distancing aisles, you might need to get some exercise here, but it’ll be worth it.
We’ll be on page 147
This is a story from the beginning part of the Bible…called the Old Testament.
So, it takes place before Jesus came to earth.
Most of the story of the Old Testament is the story of the Israelites
At one point, God delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, and led them to a land He had promised to them.
And our passage today is the story of how they miraculously entered that Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River, and the method they used to remember that moment.
The chapter right before the one we’re reading today, says that God told the Israelite priests to walk into the Jordan River…
and as soon as their feet touched the water of the Jordan River, the water upstream stopped flowing and the river dried up where they were, and they could all walk across…into the Promised Land.
And this was such an incredible moment, that God didn’t want anyone to forget it…so, here’s what they did:
(Joshua 4:4-7) - NIV
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
God did an incredible thing.
And the people are to remember it forever.
So God tells Joshua to set up a monument of these 12 stones they picked up from the bottom of the dry river bed.
And in the future, every time the Israelites walk by that monument, they will remember the miraculous thing God did on their behalf.
And friends, I want you to know that likewise, this building…is a monument to God’s miracles.
And every time you drive by it, or walk in it, I want your heart to remember what God did.
And so I think it’s important, that on our very first Sunday here, we take a look back…at what God did to get us here.
STORIES OF FAITHFULNESS
It all started back in 2014.
At that point, we had been meeting at Northpoint Elementary School in Blaine and were a growing church.
We started to look for land, but knew we would need a significant down-payment to purchase anything.
And so we set a goal to raise a half a million dollars in pledged money that would come in over 3 years.
But it all felt a bit too scary…a bit too impossible for such a young church.
I remember telling my wife, “I’ve run the numbers a hundred times, and I don’t think we’re even going to hit $350,000. It’s just not possible.”
And then, 4 days before the day people were supposed to turn in how much they were giving, when I was already writing my speech in my head for how I was going to tell the church that we came up $150,000 short…and maybe we should just stay in the school…. I received an email from a 23-year old woman in our church.
She informed me she had just recently acquired a permanent and salaried position, and it was a pretty significant change of income for her.
She wrote to inform me that after a really long conversation with God, she felt led by God to give her entire pay increase towards the land.
And this 23-year-old gave $50,000 towards our land purchase.
I VIVIDLY…VIVIDLY remember reading that email from that young woman…like it was yesterday.
In fact, I was in a room full of a people when I read it (probably socially awkwardly reading my email)…
But I excused myself from the room, went to a different room, dropped to my knees, and just cried.
Which for me is a big deal…I’m a “cry once every 3 years” sort of guy J
And then I got up and walked outside, and I looked up at the sky, and I said, “God, you’re just going to do this. I don’t know how…I don’t know when…but I NEVER could have predicted this email, and I can’t predict how it’s going to happen, but you’re just going to do this!!”
And I believed that He would…until the next big obstacle.
That’s life as a human, right?
Our faith needs regular injections.
We need to pass by some monuments once in a while that remind us of just how powerful God really is.
While we were all excited in the Fall of 2014 when we raised enough money…the hope began to wane as the months went by.
See, I had hoped we’d be able to find a piece of land, by the end of 2014, or early 2015…
But when 2015 turned to 2016, my hope was quickly fading.
In reality, there wasn’t much land available, and what was available…wasn’t right.
It was too small, or too hidden, or too far away.
So once again, we went to God, saying, “Help us…please…we can’t do this on our own.”
We prayed, and even gathered together for a church-wide night of prayer just to pray solely that God would find us land
And shortly after that night of prayer, in the Fall of 2016, God turned our attention to this piece of land we’re sitting on right now.
We saw it was for sale…
Now, when the price for Commercial land is discussed, it’s usually talked about in terms of “price per square foot,” so I’m going to use those terms.
The sale price of this land was $6.00 / sq. ft.
We offered $4.25 / sq. ft. for 5 acres of land.
By the way, that offer is so low, that would be like, if you were selling your house at $250,000, and someone offered you $177,000.
You might just not even answer that person back…
But the seller was gracious…and listened.
And they said, “We’re selling it for $6.00 / sq. ft., I know you offered $4.25, but we can do $5.00 / sq. ft.
It was at this time where God did some interesting work.
God was determined to not let us get the credit in this process either.
After we received their counter-offer, we realized that we had been told the wrong ratio for “people to parking lot size,” and we learned that 5 acres wasn’t going to be enough land (we actually needed 6)
But we could never afford 6 acres at that compromise price of $5 / sq ft!
Listen, I pride myself in my negotiation skills…and we had some incredibly smart people around our table…but God wasn’t going to let our pride take credit for this…
So we had to come back to the seller and say, “Yeah, um, I know we asked for 5 acres of land at $4.25 / sq. ft., but we actually need another acre of land, which means that we can still only afford it at $4.25 sq. ft. J
And they said, “No thanks.”
So at that point, we were advised to walk away from negotiations…because it was the only thing we could do.
And for me, that was an incredibly painful moment.
Another moment where I thought that this day (today) would never come.
But my friends, with God, all things are possible.
God can change any mind He wants to
Just 4 days after we walked away, we got a call, and the Seller said, “You know what, we’ll take your deal.”
And on top of that, they said, that for them, 6 acres, actually left them with an odd sliver of land leftover next to our property
And because they wouldn’t be able to sell a parcel of just a half an acre, they, very generously, gave us that half acre for free.
So in summary, the land was for sale for $6.00 / sq. ft., we offered $4.25 sq. ft., and a few months later with that added bonus of a free half acre, we were able to purchase the whole thing at $3.85 / sq. ft.
Saving $600,000 off the list price in the process.
That’s just God moving!
We never could have gotten here any other way!
And just like our passage in Joshua 4, when your children ask about this building someday, I want you to tell them these stories.
After we purchased the land, we knew we had to raise money for the building.
And in the Fall of 2017, we raised over 1.3 million dollars in pledges for this building.
And God continued to amaze us each subsequent Fall after that with more generous donations coming in.
And everything seemed right on track again…until the Spring & Summer of 2019.
We had been steadily working on our building plans for quite some time, but construction prices began to rise exponentially in 2019, and thus the price of our building kept rising & rising (although not yet quite to our budget cap)
Our General Contractor assured us things would be fine and that after they did some more estimation work, they would come back to us and the price would be well under our budget cap.
However, they came back and it was $100,000 more than we could afford.
We were really disappointed, but we felt like the only way to get that price lower was to just keep working on more detail with our architects, and everyone was optimistic the price would go down.
However, when we met again in July of 2019, instead of being just $100,000 over budget, our General Contractors informed us that they were now $900,000 over our budget
That may have been the worst day of my life.
Have you ever worked for something with all of your heart for 5 years only to feel like it all evaporated in front of your eyes?
Honestly, I just wanted to walk out of the meeting and go hide in my bed. I’m dead serious.
We spent the remainder of the meeting talking through what our future options might be…and it was painful.
We were almost a MILLION dollars short, and we began to discuss if it was time to just sell the land…and just stay in the school
Maybe sometime in the future we could fix up a warehouse or something.
I went to bed that night about as sad as I’ve ever been, but the next morning, I woke up with an idea that I just know that God had put in my mind.
It occurred to me that one of the only options we had left was to put our architect drawings out to other General Contractors to see if we could get a lower bid.
The chances of getting a bid that was 1 million dollars lower was next to nothing, but at least there was a chance!
It would at least give God room to work.
And so we put our architectural drawings out to bid. We got 2 more companies to bid on the project
The first bid came back 2 weeks later.
And this one, instead of being $900,000 over, was 2 million dollars over our budget.
It was so painful, it was funny.
You know what that’s like?
As we were waiting for the final bid to come in during August of 2019, I can remember driving in my car and telling God that He was good even if it was going to take us 10 more years to get to this day right here…
…and that He was good…even if we never got here.
Then, later that same afternoon, the final bid came in.
It was from Brian Baas of BJ Baas Builders, who’s a man of strong Christian faith, whose company has built a few churches before…
He called to say that they could build our church, and their price was not only within our budget, but $600,000 under our budget cap.
That’s God moving.
That’s God directing our steps, finding a way!
And that’s how we’re here.
By the hand of God.
And I didn’t even mention the story of where we realized we were short about an acre and a half for future expansion here someday.
So we prayed and prayed and prayed and we called up on the God who can do the impossible…
And then we called the man who owns the land between here and the daycare…
And we said, “We don’t have the money, but would you consider donating your land to our church for free?”
And he said, “Okay”
Listen, I want to tell you something:
God is alive.
He is real.
Christianity is not just a bunch of rules and religious services.
We follow Jesus Christ who died on the cross, and 3 days later, rose from the dead.
He is alive and moves today.
And this building is a monument to His miracles.
And I pray that every time you walk in here, you remember what He did.
And if you’re walking into a Renovation Church service for the very first time, I pray that you’re hearing of a God who is REAL…and POWERFUL…and is ALIVE.
And I want you to know that this God we’re talking about, He loves you.
Let me tell you what we believe.
It’s really simple. It’s the basic and core teaching of the Bible.
You and I will never be good enough to make it to heaven on our own.
The Bible says it this way:
(Romans 3:23) – NIV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
None of us are good enough for heaven. We fall short of it. We sin.
And later it says:
(Romans 6:23) – NIV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you know what that is saying?
It’s saying that the wages (what we earn/deserve) for our sin, is death.
It’s separation from God…it’s not heaven, it’s hell.
But there is a gift that Jesus Christ offers you.
And it’s this:
(John 3:16) – NIV
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
See, God loves you SOOO much, that even though He’s seen all of your mistakes, all of your sin…He sent His OWN Son Jesus to die on the cross in your place.
Jesus was literally taking the punishment that you deserved on the cross.
And the Bible teaches that if you believe in Him (that He died for you), and you surrender your life to Him, you will be saved from the punishment of eternal separation.
And instead, God will be with you in this life, and you can be with him forever in Heaven.
That’s the gift He offers you.
It’s been slid across the table towards you today…and you get to decide if you want to open it.
Friends, I assure you that God is real.
I’ve seen His power over and over again with my own eyes these past few years.
And I’ve seen not only how He has gotten our church here, but I’ve seen countless people (in this very room with you right now), make this same decision.
And God has absolutely changed their lives…for the better as they accepted that gift and started a relationship with Him.
And so today, I want to give you an opportunity to do that
Let’s just have everybody bow their heads and close their eyes…for just a minute.
If you want to make that decision to believe that Jesus died for you, and let Him into your life…to be forgiven … in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, I believe only you can save me, and I want to surrender my life to you”
This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision.
Without making this decision to believe in Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, we are dead in our sins…we will pay for our sins…not Him.
Listen, NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you and you’ve never done this before.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him for the first time, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are. (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME.
If God himself is prompting you to do something right now, don’t disobey that.
Stand up. God is talking to you!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
This is not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment
I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, I’m going to pray, and when I pray, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head back towards the lobby where it will be quiet.
I’m going to go meet you out there in a second with someone from our Follow-Up Team…and I want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.
Walk them out.
All right, I’m going to pray now, so you can head out there.