It is five o’clock Sunday afternoon, March 10. After this morning’s service at Northwestern I came home, ate some of Noël’s world-class spaghetti, and went to bed. I have just gotten up from that nap.
What a morning the Lord gave us! Outside the sky was clear and the sun was shining. Inside the breakfast was tasty, the mingling was warm, and Jesus was there. When you shouted, “Worthy is the Lamb,” I thought I had been catapulted into heaven. I am sure that’s the way we will do it when Jesus comes.
I really meant it when I said that seeing you all together in one place filled me with a sense of longing to make my SPAN III commitment all the stronger and all the greater. I really look forward to worshipping with you together in one room—at least for a little while. I believe something special will happen in those months—like the kind of good things that can happen at a big family reunion. We hope we can be together by the middle of May (but that cannot be set as yet).
Before I even know what you committed to pay for the new worship building I want to thank you all. My whole approach in these weeks was to try and win your commitment to a vision not a building. In the cluster meetings and the two Sunday morning services leading up to your commitment, I spoke of longings (prayer, care, dare, share) and of our part in a great global movement of God, and of four kinds of people I pray we will become. People . . .
- who bank their hope on the inevitable triumph of God;
- who will not oppose a genuine movement of God but seek to promote it and improve it according to truth; (for example, a Christian denomination may be blessed by God and yet have some room for doctrinal correction)
- who find joy in the tribute of being dishonored for the name of Jesus;
- and who don’t give up but keep on commending Jesus in the face of discouragement and danger.
I believe that what motivates God-honoring, God-pleasing giving is helping people be passionately committed to a vision of God and what he plans to do. That has been my goal.
Now may I say two more practical things before I even hear how the financial commitments have come in?
First, please don’t fail to make some kind of commitment to help pay for the new building. It is there for your blessing and for the extension of your blessing to others. You don’t want to presume upon others to carry your part in paying for the place you will worship.
Second, trust God to help you give money you do not have. Noël and I pledged thousands of dollars we do not have and will not earn from Bethlehem. Almost all of us have ways that we can earn extra money for the Cause of Christ. Most of my pledge will come from honorariums and royalties. I know you don’t have that possibility. But have you asked God to give you a dream of where money you don’t have could come from? It is not too late.
I thank God for you. I am thrilled at what God is going to do in that new building. It is an awesome privilege to be a pastor at Bethlehem.