Feb 21, 2021 | Greg Johnson
Vision Sunday - 6 Year Anniversary
Joshua 4 gives us framework to remember the past 6 years and look at what we believe God has for us in the few years.
In the Old Testament, there was the practice of erecting altars in places as spiritual markers to always remember a specific event that happened in that place – today, we may erect statues or create trophy cases, but back then, they would gather a few stones – it was less about beauty and more about function – here are a few things I have in my office to help me remember: the 80s song trivia I won on a cruise a couple of years ago, the piece of wood Brent Parker took from our land to make something for me to remember when we moved onto our campus, lots of New York pics to remind me of the adventure Jesus and I are on together, a statue of me and Yvonne at our wedding, a pic of a river trip I took with a group of men in 2002, a pic of me worshipping on the African plain this time last year, a pic of several of us gathered around my SIL Dee in early 2016 in the Bearden’s pool after I baptized him – these are all stones of remembrance for me, reminding me of God’s faithfulness throughout the years
Noah built first recorded altar in Genesis 8 post-ark to commemorate God’s faithfulness to save them - In Genesis 22, Abraham built an altar to commemorate the moment God spared Isaac’s life on Mt. Moriah, Gen. 26, Isaac built altar at Beersheba to commemorate the covenant God made with him, his son Jacob in Gen. 33 built an altar to commemorate reconciliation with his brother Esau
I want us to look quickly at another altar that was built by the Israelites in Joshua 4
Just some quick context – the Israelites were rescued from slavery in Egypt about 40 years earlier – remember the Red Sea was parted in Exodus 14 and they walked on dry ground to their safety while the enemy was swallowed up by the water. Then they entered a 40 year period where they learned to depend on God – you know, cloud by day and fire by night, manna in the morning as means of sustenance – and God gave them the law while in the wilderness, a set of guidelines on how to follow and worship God – during that time, Exodus describes the ark of the covenant – which represented the presence of God – in it was the law of God (10 commandments), the provision of God (jar of manna) and the direction of God (rod of Aaron) – it was built to very specific specifications, and was carried with them on their journey as a reminder of God’s presence – but this journey wasn’t without gut checks along the way – I believe 2020 was a gut check for all of us
In Numbers 13, the Israelites are finally close to entering their land of promise, and they send spies into the new land to see what they are up against – the spies return and tell Moses and the people that while the land is flowing with milk and honey, the people are huge and the walls to the city are high, and their recommendation is that they stay put – in the next chapter, the people rebel, and begin saying, “we should’ve stayed in Egypt! Let’s elect a leader who will take us back to Egypt!” When given an opportunity to exhibit faith in the God who provides or shrink back, they chose to shrink back – as a result, God told Moses that none of that generation would ever see the promised land, and systematically took them out
Here is why I’m setting up Joshua 4 this way: we all have a choice to make during tough seasons – either you can let your situation dictate your faith, or you can let your faith dictate the situation – the Israelites, just like you and me, were constantly letting their current circumstances define their faith, and it cost them big-time
But, after 40 years, the Israelites are finally positioned to possess the land God had promised them as described in Joshua 3 under Joshua’s leadership, and as the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant reached the banks of the Jordan River, the waters held back and they stood in the middle of the river bed while the Israelites crossed
So, God holds back the waters in Exodus 14 to rescue them from slavery, and now he holds back the waters again to usher them into the land he had promised them years ago - Joshua 4:1-9, 21-24
V1-9 – the Israelites were instructed to grab 12 stones from the bed of the river and bring them to Joshua to be used as an altar, or spiritual marker to God, one stone for each tribe of Israel
But if you jump down to the end of the passage, Joshua explains why this altar is important:
1. This moment was for future generations. V21 – “when the kids ask what this is about…” – this is what legacies are made of – for generations, people would remember this event
2. This moment was a testimony to extraordinary God-activity. V22-23 – “God dried up the Jordan…” – God provided a way, both on the front end and the back end – it was God that parted the waters and provided the path to the life they always wanted
3. This moment was to proclaim the power and presence of God. V24 – they built this altar so ALL PEOPLE of the earth would know the power of the hand of God.
I want to remind you of why it is important that we remember the last year:
1.This year was for future generations. This was another year of building for future generations – In the middle of an unprecedented Pandemic that functionally shut the world down, here is what we were able to accomplish in our 6th year:
- last February, we had 150 men at Men’s Advance
- in March, We dramatically improved our online presence – we had to, from mid-march to mid-may
- We fully opened our doors on June 7th and have remained open since then
- We hired Josh Agnew, our first Executive Pastor to help us get our financial house in order and assist in coaching our staff team
- we hosted Peak Week, our preteen camp in July with record numbers, over 150
- we held Zoe Mazi in August, with over 50 students in attendance
- We held our women’s retreat in October with over 100 in attendance
- Women’s bible study grew to over 100 women in weekly attendance
- Student Fall retreat had 100 students in attendance
- Student ministry grew to over 100 in weekly attendance
-YA averaging 75 in weekly attendance, Sam McCabe now leading
- 50 couples went through ReEngage over the last year
- 27 Life Groups, 14 of them at capacity
- Powerful worship at every gathering, as Tanner and his team have continued to take us deeper
- 10-15 new families every week since August
- over 200 families and individuals have gone through DNA (Newcomer’s process) in the last 12 months
- An average of 50 people daily attending 6am prayer gatherings during this year’s 21 day fast
- almost doubled our OTW giving and increased involvement
These aren’t just numbers, but benchmarks of the foundation that was laid in the middle of a pandemic – EXTRAORDINARY!
2. This year was a testimony to extraordinary God activity. God has taken our yes to walk in obedience, and has clearly done the extraordinary with it – it ALWAYS begins with YES! From January 2020, which began with a 21-day fast to current, just coming out of a 21-day fast, God has used our dependence on him to do the extraordinary in people’s lives - Just watch all of the stories that we’ve told via video this past year, and you see God’s fingerprints all over them, people saying yes to Jesus (Blairs, Lynchs, many others) – in addition, and this will blow you away, God allowed us to have our best year financially (Josh quickly share) – You said yes, but God ultimately gets the glory for his extraordinary work
3. This chapter was a testament to the power and presence of God. 1 Peter 2:4-5 - You are the stones that are building the spiritual house. It is God’s presence that has propelled many of you into your Ephesians 2:10 calling – you are a testament to God’s power and presence – when people look at your life they see God’s power!
As we enter into year 7, Here are a few things we want to see God do in 2021:
1. Pay off this building. We owe just under $2M. We have some God-sized dreams to finish expanding this campus, but in order to expand, we feel that God wants us to clean the slate before moving forward – if we all participate, we will get this done by the end of the calendar year
2. Identify church planter and move toward planting a church in the area by end of 2021. We are currently working with 3 church planters with the hope of at least one being ready to plant by the end of the year.
3. Be ready to break ground on expansion by this time next year. This will be extraordinary God-activity for sure, but we want to be worshipping in a new worship space by Easter 2023. Let me show you a quick video of what we envision our future expansion to look like.
God has been faithful this past year, and he is creating a foundation, our aircraft carrier to launch ministry all over the planet – this year, it’s all hands on deck as we continue to build on the foundation that has already been laid – let us help you discover your EPH 210 calling, and be released in your full potential in the Kingdom of God.