Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Perfect Day

{Sunday night entry}

Have you ever thought about what, for you, makes "a perfect day"?  One of those days when you think your guts are just going to spill out of your belly for joy?  (Well, that's how it feels for me, at least.  Joy just radiates right out of my bellybutton!) . This happens when joy and happiness coincide.

What do I mean by that?

Happiness is a feeling produced when external circumstances are benevolent, when things are "going our way".  Joy, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), is the sibling of peace.  They are interrelated!  We can dig deep into the Spirit and praise God even in adverse circumstances to tap into holy joy, because joy is ours as co-heirs with Jesus Christ.  Both a gift and a fruit, joy transcends circumstances.

But, wow....when joy and happiness crash right into each other...that's some good stuff right there!
Today was one of those days for me.  A "Soli Deo Gloria" Day.  Today's story is just too good not to share.

The Latin phrase Soli Deo Gloria is one of my favorites.  It means "glory only to God".  I am the most joyful when God is getting all the glory for something He has done.

About 16 months ago God dragged me and several of my friends away from a group of people we dearly love; and, over a series of 4 months, called us to start a new church, one with a heart for evangelism.  During those four months, we prayed and sought God for answers which, frankly, were not very forthcoming at the time.  We thought we were looking at an unmitigated, hopeless disaster, at first.

It was hard, Y'all.
But, in our seeking God He made His will known, calling us to step out in faith to start a church in a community which required several of our group to drive more than 20 miles to the church's temporary home.  Not "ideal" but ... #godscalling.  So, off we went.  "Uncharted Territory".

Yet, from the very beginning God's hand has been plain in these circumstances.  He has opened door after door for this little fellowship of believers.

Yesterday, we celebrated our one-year anniversary as a church.  After a wonderful sermon we celebrated the Lord's Supper together, then enjoyed a delicious BBQ meal, and finally listened intently as a "next steps" plan was presented.

God has kindled the heart of these people to spread the gospel and to also serve one another.  Giving is strong, a hallmark of our group.  Furthermore, because God is growing our church, a few months ago, we found ourselves in a position to need to look for larger and more permanent venues in which to meet.  Our pastor formed a committee called the "Next Steps Team" (henceforth referred to as NST) to investigate options.  A large (imaginary) box was drawn around our general vicinity, with the pastor's charge to find options within that geographical area.  Those wonderful committee members walked all over various property options, with their work taking 4 months.  Accordingly, God opened two doors of possibility.  Both were incredibly wonderful options, so that it was very hard to hear God's voice as to which one should be presented to the congregation as THE one.  As time went on, with fervent prayer and fasting, though, it became clearer and clearer where God was leading.
Now ... behold what God has done.  Soli Deo Gloria!

One of the two options was a good-sized piece of property in a prime location (right in the middle of the "box"), with topography showing all the property being usable.  Asking price was $1.275 million...obviously beyond our meager means.  The committee deliberated and deliberated, prayed and prayed, and finally determined that it was worth at least throwing out a (ridiculously low) offer.  So, they did . . . an offer just over half of the asking price.  Shortly, we got a call from the realtor saying the owner wanted to visit our church and meet with us.  The owner lives in California.  Imagine our amazement!  This man, whom we later learned is a fervent Christian man of wealth, flew all the way from Cali to attend one of our services.  He met with the NST and the pastor for hours.  We found out later that God had placed in this man's heart and in his family's heart to sell this property to a Bible-preaching church!

So, a deal was proposed, the deal put before the church today, the deal the church will vote on in a couple of weeks.  The price is within just a few dollars of what we initially offered.  The owner is going to finance the sale for us (because churches > 3 years old can usually not get bank funding); AND, the interest paid will not be paid to the owner but will rather be paid to a missions organization that has been steadily evangelizing India for the past 40 years!  If our church members approve the deal, our little church plant will become a church planter, in the country with the largest number of people groups who've never heard the gospel message.

Are you saying, Soli Deo Gloria! yet?

1Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
2For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 117 (ESV)

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