Our church is growing! We are averaging over 525 every Sunday morning and are starting a 3rd morning service in the fall to accommodate the crowds.
On February 3rd, only 50 days ago, I stood before our church and asked God to do a miracle for us by allowing us to raise $250,000.00 in 7 weeks to begin construction on our new church building – (watch it here: www.nextstepoffering.com/next-step-presentation/). We were very specific, a quarter of a million in 7 weeks. However, by the end of March 24th, we had missed our mark by over $100,000.00.
We actually raised $146,234.00 in cash in 49 days, with additional pledges of $96,476.00, bringing our total to $242,710.00. This is an amazing miracle, and we celebrated as such (here: www.nextstepoffering.com/the-reveal/). But the fact of the matter is, we did not receive what we asked for. We asked God for $250,000.00 in 7 weeks to immediately begin construction on our future facility.
Some of you have questions. For our church family, I’d like to use this as a teachable moment.
I. Pastor, are you disappointed?
No. I am not disappointed in the slightest. I am not disappointed with our church. Truthfully, what we have accomplished is amazing. The fact that a little church in Las Vegas, only 8 years old, while keeping budget and giving $100,000.00 a year to missionaries, was able to raise this much money without any grants or major donors is miraculous. Many families gave until it hurt, sacrificing unto the Lord what they willingly offered. I am proud of our church family and the great many steps of faith we have taken to arrive here. You all amaze me!
No, I am not disappointed with our church and neither am I disappointed with my God. How could I be disappointed with the One who has given me eternal life? How could I ever be disappointed with the One who created me, loved me, redeemed me, and forgave me? Disappointed? No, His grace still amazes me!
II. But God didn’t answer your prayer!
Yes, He did! He said, no. We asked for $250,000.00 to immediately begin construction on our future campus, and He said, “no”.
A Few Things:
God’s allowed to say no. It doesn’t make Him any less God. It doesn’t make Him any less powerful. It just means He said no. I’m OK with that. It doesn’t shake my faith. It doesn’t make me doubt God’s power, plan, or calling. Some of us are just not used to being told no; therefore, when we pray and God says no, we are really thrown for a loop. Remember the Apostle Paul? He prayed greatly about his illness to be healed, yet God said no.
II Corinthians 12:8-10 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
It was in the “NO” that God was able to teach Paul more of His perfect grace.
God knows what He’s doing. If I was in charge of the church and the universe, I would have given us the money necessary to build right away. I’m not in charge. Probably a good thing. I’m not God, and I’m OK with that too. You see, He has a plan that is much more detailed than mine and will likely be more successful than mine or yours.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I’m still going to pray. But God said “no” to you, pastor. Yeah, so what? I cannot tell you how many times a day my little Scarlett (age 4) asks to play with my iPhone. “Daddy, can I play with your phone? I like your phone. Can I play with it? It’s a nice phone. Can I play with your phone? Can I play the bird game? Can I play the running game? Can I play with your phone?” My responses include, “no, nope, uh uh, don’t think so, never, buy your own,” and occasionally, “yes.” You see, for Scarlett, it doesn’t matter how many times I say no, because she knows that a yes might be just around the corner. Jesus told this parable about prayer:
Luke 11:5-9 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Jesus here is giving the secret to prayer, it’s importunity. It means to KEEP ON ASKING! When something is worth asking for, then keep on asking for that something. I’m going to keep praying until the $250,000 is all in. And then I’m going to pray in the rest of the funds needed!
III. Pastor, I’ll bet you’ve learned your lesson. You won’t be doing something like that again, will you?
I certainly will! As long as I lead this church, we will press forward by faith! We will do as the great missionary William Carey suggested and, “Attempt Great Things for God, Expect Great Things from God.” If you are looking for a more moderate church, one that is calm as a cemetery and comfortable as a coffin, then you may want to look for another place. We are pilgrims on a quest, warriors in a war, and disciples on a mission.
We walk by faith and not by sight! We, the men and women of Southern Hills, will keep fighting to advance the kingdom of Christ until our last dollar is given, until our last tear is shed, until our last breath is exhaled, until the last soul is saved. We will never give in to fear, fright, or failure. I’d rather be sinking in the waves, having attempted the impossible, than safely in the boat with the other disciples. We believe strongly in our God and will continue to attempt the impossible until this preacher lies cold in the grave!
By the way, had we not attempted to raise the full amount, we wouldn’t be 146,234 steps closer to fulfilling our NEXT STEP!
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
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