I actually kind of liked my hair, so I don’t know why you all were laughing.
It’s been 10 years. 10 years since we launched this church.
And God has been good.
It was dream of Lindsey and mine to launch this church, but we didn’t do it alone.
Before we had our grand opening in October of 2009, I spent months meeting with, what felt like, every person I had ever known, and asking them to join a launch team to help me start this church.
If we were going to reach people in Blaine and beyond, we were going to need, not just someone to teach God’s Word, but greeters, and folks to teach the kids, and worship band members and so forth.
And so there were 82 of us on our original launch team.
Now, the traditional stat in the church planting world is that 50% of your launch team is gone by the 18-month mark.
As church planting can be messy & hard work.
But by the grace of God, 37 out of those 82 people are still here. Almost half…10 years later.
And plenty of those people not here anymore…have simply just moved to other states in the last decade.
If you were one of those original Launch Team members that worked so hard to get this church off the ground 10 years ago…(and you’re in this service this morning) would you just stand where you are, so we could honor you today?
(you can have a seat)
You know what’s amazing about that original group?
We were all so young…especially our leadership
I was 27.
Zach was 23.
Ryan Speck was 21.
Rachel Cheney, who would join us shortly thereafter was 20.
There are plenty of prospective church planters that I meet with nowadays, and I always joke that if someone came in my office and said, “I have a team of 4 leaders, and we’re 27, 23, 21 & 20…”
I feel like I’d hypocritically say, “Get out of my office”
But thankfully, God doesn’t look just at the outward appearance, does He?
And by the grace of God, God worked, despite our youthful mistakes…and here we are today!
You know what else is fascinating about that group of 37 people who are still here from our original launch team?
Because so many of them were SO young back then, in the 10 years since…plenty of them have since gotten married, and had a whole lot of kids.
In fact, if I add back in the people they’ve now married, and kids they’ve now had, that group of 37 people, has added 33 more people to their families, for a total of 70 people. J
And God has been really faithful to use that small group of people to reach hundreds of people for Christ here.
And thousands more through our church planting and missions endeavors.
In fact, today is an important day in our church’s history for a number of reasons.
I love this…
The weekend in which we are turning 10 years old, is the exact same weekend that our church plants have now surpassed us in size.
Meaning, since our latest Church plant, Transform Church, is launching in Andover this morning, there are now more people worshipping God in our church plants than there are here at Renovation Church.
That’s a powerful thing!
And one of things that I really want you to see today is that God, for ten years now, has been SO faithful to this church.
He is the reason that this church has been so blessed and so fruitful.
There are no worldly things to which the credit can be given.
It’s not because we were all the perfect age, or had the perfect environment (we meet in a gym)…
God has just been faithful to this church.
The GODS OF THE DAY WILL ONE DAY FALL
This morning, as we open up the Bible together, we’re going to look at a passage that illustrates God’s faithfulness to His people.
We’re going to read a passage from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament
We’re going to look at a prophecy that Isaiah gave in the 700’s BC.
And it’s a prophecy that would actually be fulfilled in the year 539 BC…so almost 200 years after Isaiah said it.
(Isaiah 46:1-2) – NIV - IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, GET ON ONE SCREEN AND LEAVE UP UNTIL NEXT VERSE
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low;
their idols are borne by beasts of burden.
The images that are carried about are burdensome,
a burden for the weary.
2 They stoop and bow down together;
unable to rescue the burden,
they themselves go off into captivity.
Okay, what is Isaiah talking about?
He’s talking about the Fall of the Kingdom of Babylon…
And Isaiah’s words would eventually be an important encouragement to the Jews
Because 100 years or so after Isaiah says this, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, will come, demolish much of Jerusalem, destroy the temple, and exile the Jewish people off to Babylon….
So, who then, are Bel and Nebo, these idols that Isaiah is talking about?
They are actually the main two gods of the Babylonians.
And Isaiah is saying, “Don’t worry my friends…soon enough those statues (for that’s all they are)…are going to be stooped down” and carried away on carts…on the backs of beasts.
And Isaiah was totally right.
In 539 BC, Cyrus, the Persian King conquers Babylon, and the supposed gods, the statues of Bel and Nebo would have been carried off on a cart… pulled by animals…
And many of the Babylonians would be carried away right along with them …unable to be rescued by their powerless gods.
GOD WILL CARRY YOU AND SUSTAIN YOU
But the one true God…is not a statue…he’s not an idol.
Let’s keep reading:
(Isaiah 46:3-4) – NIV
3 “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Now look at the difference here.
In verses 1-2, the people have to carry their idols…because their idols couldn’t carry them…and come through for them.
But in verses 3-4, we see that God will carry us!
In fact, He tells His people quite a number of things:
He made them.
He has carried them since birth
He will continue to sustain them.
And He will carry them and rescue them even to your gray hairs and old age.
And I think this is a fitting passage for our 10th birthday.
Because the truth is…God has carried this church…in His Faithfulness to it.
I could tell you endless stories of times where He has come through over the past 10 years..
But perhaps one of most obvious places He’s been faithful to this church has been through the response we’ve seen from the sharing of the Gospel.
As we have faithfully….and boldly declared God’s Good News for 10 years now…God has been SO faithful to this Church.
We saw God’s faithfulness in January of 2010, when Jasen Fontaine was the very first person in this church to respond to the Gospel and give his life to Christ…and God has done tremendous things in his family.
We saw God’s faithfulness in Haiti in 2013, when the very first person from a different country responded to the Gospel message from someone in our church.
And we saw it on a whole new level in 2018, when over 3,000 people responded to the sharing of the Gospel from Renovation people in Rwanda
We see it every time we boldly share the Gospel here at an event…like at Easter.
I talk to pastors all the time, who say to me, “Wait, you actually require people to come to a service FIRST at your events, and they come?!”
Yes, 2,500 people did at Easter!
The world is hungry for truth!
And some of you in this room met Jesus that day!
God has been SO faithful to us…particularly as we’ve been faithful to trusting in Him and His message.
We believe SO strongly here in being faithful to God and His Word…not only because God has continually proven His faithfulness to this church, but also because both scripture AND history show that it is GOD that is the unchanging and the unfailing one.
I want you to think about this:
If you had gone to Babylon in the height of its prime, what would you have thought?
It was the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time.
And most powerful city in the world.
You would have seen its enormous walls and its vast army, and you would have been in awe.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were there…one of the seven wonders of the world!
They had the best leaders, the best artists, the best thinkers.
And you would have thought…
How could I disagree with this culture?
You might have even thought…
Perhaps I should give up on my ways and just acclimate to their ways.
Read Daniel Chapter 1…many did just that.
You would have felt like such a religious minority.
And, as an ancient person, you might have thought…
Surely the worship of the Babylonian gods, Nebo and Bel will last forever.
And yet, when trouble came to Babylon, when new ideas came…
…And when the now more powerful Persian army invaded…the gods of Babylon were carried out…on a cart…left to the back pages of history.
And friends, here’s where history is important.
Because this isn’t just the story of the Babylonian gods…it’s the story of anyone who rises up against the one true God.
What about the Roman empire and its fierce opposition to Christianity and its views on how to live your life?
So what about the powerful Roman gods of Apollo and Mars?
Discredited. They’re just mere stories.
What about how the ancient Greeks mocked Christians for their exclusive claims of truth and said the Greek gods would win out?
Where are Zeus and Poseidon?
Relegated to the myth section of your local library.
What about how the Soviet Union was going to spread atheism to the countries of Eastern Europe for all of time?
That ended…in 1989…
Even our own friend Ben Pierce…was spreading the Gospel to thousands in Ukraine just this summer
What about how, in the late 60’s, Chairman Mao brought about the Chinese Cultural Revolution…and they were going to stamp out Christianity out of China once and for all.
That’s yet another failure…as there are now more Christians in China that people in the US.
My friends, we cannot, and we will not, cater to the current cravings and pressures of the culture…and adapt God’s word.
Hear me…before you know it, these same idols of the culture that we feel the pressure to bow down to right now, will be carried off on a cart…proven to be worthless.
Even today…you can see the cracks in the ground on which our culture’s idols sit
“The culture of the past 20 years that has insisted we are all free to do anything we want, has now led to a generation of people lacking in direction, struggling to find meaning, and many are now ending their life in suicide at an unprecedented level
Their gods of freedom ended up being statues of emptiness.
And before you know it, those gods will be carried out on a cart too.
GOD WILL BE FAITHFUL TO THIS CHURCH
And so, we’re going to take the long view here…and we’ll keep teaching the old truths of the Gospel …we’ll keep believing in God’s faithfulness to sustain us.
The power is in God’s word…not in us adapting His word to some culture that won’t even exist in the future anyway.
If we adapt our teaching at this church to better suit the culture, you can carry this church out on a cart in a decade or two.
Listen, since Jesus ascended back into heaven, thousands of different cultures have come and gone, but God’s Word remains!
And so we will continue to trust in God to carry us through
He has carried this church the whole way.
I think back to 2014, just 2 weeks after we celebrated our 5th birthday, I stood on this stage and announced we were going to begin raising money for land.
God was calling us to a new land, but like Abraham, we didn’t know where we were going.
And the incredible people of this church, began to give generously in faith of God’s faithfulness, even though it would be almost 3 more years until we secured the amazing piece of land we own.
But God knew where He was taking us.
And we believed, that in God’s faithfulness, He would carry us there
And we also believe that God knows where He’s taking us next.
He was faithful then, He’ll be faithful again.
In light of that, I want to bring some needs to you this morning and ask you to join our leadership in prayer.
It has certainly not been an easy process to get to where we are today.
I can tell you there has been nothing harder that I’ve ever done than work on this building project for the past 5 years now.
And yet, the difficulties are a blessing, because they’ve merely been an opportunity for God to prove His faithfulness over and over…
Especially as we have sought Him in prayer.
We thought we could never afford the land we have, and yet after we all came together in prayer, God came through with a miracle.
And we got our land for $600,000 less than it was worth!
And now we have another big moment in front of us.
On Friday afternoon, we sent our latest round of our architectural drawings to an appraiser.
If you’ve ever purchased a home, you know how this process works.
If you don’t, let me explain:
Let’s say you’ve been house shopping for months, and you find a house that’s listed at $250,000.
Because you’ve already looked at 100 houses online, let’s say you feel very confident that $250,000 is a fair, if not great price for this particular house you’re interested in.
So, you put an offer on it for the list price of $250,000.
But, before you get a loan, they need to do an appraisal on it.
And an appraiser will come out to the house you’re trying to buy.
And, here’s where many people have had their hearts broken.
Even though you may be convinced the house is worth $250,000…
If the appraiser says the value of the home is $225,000, the bank is only going to give you a loan based off the appraiser’s number of $225,000…
But if your house still is going to cost you $250,000, you might not now have enough money to get it.
We’re at a similar moment.
Our Church Building Team, and we have some incredibly talented people on our team…
We have a retired CFO, a financial specialist, an architect, a civil(land) engineer, a contractor…
Our Building Team feels that our valuation of both our church property and future building …should absolutely support the loan we need.
We especially feel that our land has really good value based on everything that is happening around that corner…
However, it’s out of our hands at this point.
Over the next 30 days, an appraiser will be combing through our building documents and studying our land…and at the end of 30 days, we’ll get an appraised value of our property and building.
And that appraised value will be a massive factor in determining what we will have left to raise if we still want to break ground…just 5.5 months from now in late March.
Unless you’re new around here, it’s not news that we have been planning for a long time that we are going to raise more money this November/December…no matter what happens with the appraisal
Mostly because there are 80-100 of you that are new in the last 12 months…and we want you to be a part of this with us…just as almost 100 of you joined us last year in this when you were new.
Part of our financial plan all along has assumed that due to both the financial need (and because there are so many new people coming each year)…
…that we’ll need to be able to raise money in November of 2017, 2018, and finally November of 2019.
So in mid-to-late November, we’re going to begin a few week process of acquiring new or revised financial pledges for this building
And the appraised value will be THE massive factor in determining what our new pledge goal for this November is.
“As we’ve planned for this appraisal in our calculations, our team has structured our plan based off us getting back what I would call a conservative to middle of the road appraisal.
If that happens, and we raise what we had always been planning to raise this November (which is quite doable)…then we should be right on track for March.
But if the appraisal comes back really low (which as some of you know, can happen)…
We’d have to do a serious re-evaluation of our timeline for starting construction in just 5 months…and it would require, most likely significantly more money to be raised.
So, listen we need to pray.
We’re not just going to sit and do nothing.
We need to seriously pray.
We don’t know what God’s plan is…
And our leaders and Building Team have been steering us on a really smart and wise path for a long time…
But we’re just at a point where we’ve done all we can do (up to this point anyway), and now we really need to pray.
So here’s what we’re going to do
(30 days of prayer slide)
Starting tomorrow, I want our church to engage in 30 days of prayer for this appraisal.
We want at least 3 individuals or groups of people out at our land, praying for God’s help with this appraisal…every day.
And we’re going to do this for 30 days…starting tomorrow.
There is a sign-up in the hallway to go pray out on our land…
Which is the long strip of land on the SE corner of Lexington & 125th…immediately south of where the Shell gas station USED to be.
You can drive in on the frontage road by Qwik Trip and park.
And by 3 individuals or groups a day, I mean…if you’re driving home from work, and you can stop at the land to pray…that’s 1.
If you are at home with your kids…and you all stop to pray there on the way to the park just down on Lexington…that’s 1.
We want to fill 3 slots a day.
You can go whenever you want.
For those of you with kids…this is great for them too.
Get them out there calling on God to move.
It will be a blessing to them when we see this future building start to go up in March, Lord willing… just 5.5 months from now!
This is a massive moment in the life of our church and we need to seek God on it.
Do you remember, in the book of Exodus…when Pharaoh finally relents and lets the Israelites leave?
There’s a small part in that story where it says that “God made the Egyptians ‘favorably disposed’ towards the Israelites”
…to the point where they are just giving the Israelites their silver and gold as they’re leaving.
We’re going to pray that God makes the people doing this appraisal, favorably disposed toward our ministry.
That God would continue to be faithful to our church and what He’s calling us to accomplish for His name and His Kingdom.
And so our goal is that there would be many of us (90 slots should add up to well over 100 people)…out at the land, crying out to God, EVERY DAY, for the next 30 days.
Praying that God would move…and this would not be a roadblock to what we’re aiming for.
Remember, what I’ve been teaching you from God’s Word this year…
The power is not in our ideas, or our strategies, or our systems…
The power is in prayer.
God has brought us this far.
We are so close!
He was faithful then, we believe He’ll be faithful again.
Let’s call upon God together.