All of you play a great part in leading the vision of Grace Church. You have invested countless hours serving and caring for Grace Church. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!
As we end 2010, our last service is tomorrow night @ 5:00, and head into 2011 I have been fervently on my face before God asking him to speak clearly about His call to us for the next year. I keep hearing God say that we are to radically walk, act and live on audacious and strong faith. God has called us to step out and be a beacon of hope and guardian of the Gospel at ANY cost. It means will will have to reach out of our comfort zones, it means we will have to serve more and it means we will have to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have to trust the Holy Spirit far more than the wisdom and ideas of man. We have to follow the vision and mission He has placed before us. God has taken me repeatedly to 1 & 2 Corinthians were Paul challenges a hurting, struggling and messed up church that they have no other path but to rearrange their plans, their traditions, their structure and their desires to follow God with reckless abandon. We have spent 3 long, hard years pursuing what we believe to be right, but in 2011 we need to be on our knees before God asking Him to show us His path, His plans and His desires. And, when they seem crazy and they seem impossible, we are called only to trust and follow Him no matter the "wisdom" we believe we have.
1 Corithians 3:18-21 says, "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it iswritten, He catches the wise in their craftiness, and again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile. So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,"
Guys, no matter how much we have learned, experienced and know...God has higher, greater and more spectacular plans than we could imagine. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says that the "foolishness of God is wiser than man..." So often, I think we all approach life believing that we have the right answer. The result is fewer and fewer time spent on our knees begging God for His answers. We don't have the answers...He does!
As we approach 2011 I am asking that we all commit to seeking God with all of our hearts. We need to constantly be taking time out of a wild week, wild day and wild season to seek His plans. We all need retreat and quiet time to hear form God. It may require some of us to create that extra time early in the morning or sometime during the day. It is a time where we sit quietly, patiently and expectantly listening for God’s voice. Without that practice in our lives, it will be impossible for us to lead Grace Church where God has intended and serve people with God's heart.
No doubt times have been tough, money has been tight and decisions have been painful at times. But, I know that when we invest greatly in what God is doing, the return is far greater than the results of pursuing our goals, staying safe and keeping ourselves comfortable. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 challenges us that we are to give all we have….100%. It tells us that when we do that, that God is able to make grace abound that we would have sufficiency for ALL that He has called us to. We often miss the "God is able" part, and rely on the power, money and time of men. All God asks us to do is be faithful to Him with all we have and He will take care of the rest. He has it, and we don’t! So often we hold on to the things God asks us to surrender in a call of wisdom or convenience...That's not what God has called us to do! Paul ends his passage here saying how grateful he is for the inexpressible gift of God…Jesus. If he gave all, we are called to do no less.
Ultimately, in 2011, if we are going to see God do AMAZING and INCREDIBLE things, we have got to be fully invested in what He has called to do at Grace Church. Our calling is to put EVERYTHING we have into making sure that Grace Church is a place where people far from God can discover life in Jesus! The reality is that when we pursue what seems right to us, it eventually dies. But, when we pursue God’s will and God’s calling, it will last forever. 1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away with its desires, but whoever does the will of God goes on forever!”
I want Grace Church to leave a legacy that goes on forever. Are we going to be bold enough that decades, generations and centuries from now, people will see the legacy of Grace Church. If the Bible were being re-written today, I am sure our story of boldness would not make the cut. (A great challenge from Francis Chan when it comes to living in Faith!) But, that should be our goal. Our goal should be to lead a church that is so bold, that generations to come will see the legacy and we might have a chance at making an impact God would want to perpetuate for eternity. He has placed that in my heart, and confirmed the vision He has burning inside me. I am praying He places that very thing inside of you all as well!
Pray with me that 2011 will be a year far beyond our imagination. That we will not be able to explain what God has done. It will require hard work, sacrifice and boldness. But, it is what God has called us to do, and it is what God has always done. He never called us to be safe, comfortable or simple….He called us to be bold and faithful even if it costs us everything! (He never called anyone to serve Him and guaranteed them ease, comfort or their lives!) We want Ephesians 3:20-21 to be our story for 2011…The year where God did far more than we could ask or imagine.
What are you asking, what are you dreaming. If it’s not big enough you know God is the only way….Then it’s too small.
Looking forward to a year where we will grow, be challenged, stretched and amazed far more than any of us could prepare for, imagine or ask for! Let's see Grace Church grow to 1000 people, and see hundreds meet Jesus. That will require us to all believe it and stand in faith that God can do it. If we can't believe it 100%. We will not do what it takes. That's where we are headed, that's what we'll do. I pray that you guys will go with me as I lead. I pray that God will stir your hearts to act on faith, make decisions on faith and truly believe that God can do it. We need to live out and believe Matthew 19:26 "With man it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible." For us to say, think or believe it is impossible for this to happen, is to have little or no faith in the God we serve to be who He promises to be.
This year I am asking you as the leaders and influencers of Grace Church to follow me, stand with me, give generously and sacrificially, serve with abandon and pray without ceasing(1 Thess 5:17). It is going to be a year of incredible proportions. If we seek God on our knees together and you'll follow me completely as your pastor; we will see God do incredible things in 2011.
I love you all…..Pastor Michael