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 The Future

Jeremiah 29:11

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)

 At my Pastoral instillation service on October 10, 1999, I told the congregation that assembled that day a brief story that I’d like to retell this morning.  A dignitary was touring a construction site when he asked one of the workers what he was doing, the mason looked up from his work, wiped the sweat from his forehead using the shirt sleeve of his trowel hand and  replied, “I’m laying bricks.”  Though he didn’t say it, his attitude communicated, “What does it look like I’m doing?”

 Later the dignitary encountered another brick mason and asked him the same question.  This time he got a different reply.  The young man, stood up straight, looked him square in the eyes and said, “Sir, I’m building a cathedral.”

 Two men.  One job.  But two radically different perspectives.  The point I made that day is that if masons could build a cathedral by laying bricks, then we are building the Kingdom of God when we do our church work.  We aren’t simply preaching sermons, singing songs, teaching children, feeding the hungry, operating the electronics and babysitting little ones—the work we are doing has a far greater significance than the humble work we do—it is Kingdom work.

 I knew very little about the ministry of our church on that day, but I knew that if we would be faithful to do the little things, our work, combined with the work of others, could change the world.

 I remain steadfast in that conviction.

 Over the past six years, we’ve laid a brick or two.  In the midst of this mission field, we’ve faithfully proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we did this morning, we regularly enter into the baptismal waters to celebrate the life changing power of the gospel.
  
 We have a vision for providing quality spiritual care for those who live on the Peninsula fulltime while welcoming military families into our church with open arms.  We are their hometown church away from home.  Of course, that isn’t to say that we are exactly like their church back home.  For one thing, Lighthouse Baptist Church has a track record of welcoming young adults, who’ve demonstrated strong Christian character and a responsible spirit into the circle of leadership.  Most churches require a person to be middle-aged before a man can become a deacon or a person can direct a ministry.  Not here.  We welcome the young.  We believe we are doing kingdom work by helping to train our young to be servant-leaders.  It is a huge part of our vision.  But that isn’t all that is unusual about our ministry to the military.  Most military churches are either officer churches or enlisted churches.  Not us.  We have both.  At times, there is more of one than the other, but we always have both.  Because we are faithful in this ministry, we are sending missionaries out around the world to strengthen other churches and do the work of God.

 Our ministry has not been limited to locals and the military. When I arrived, we were also ministering on a monthly basis to the homeless through the I-Help program and on a weekly basis to the hungry through our food pantry.  Laying one brick at a time, every month, we open the doors of our church to homeless men who need a step up, not a hand out, and we do it with excellence.  Our workers don’t just do the minimum requirements; they go above and beyond the call of duty to provide tasty meals and comfortable accommodations.  Our food pantry ministry is expanding to unbelievable proportions.  We used to help a dozen or so families a week, now we’re exceeding 40 families some weeks.  God is blessing us with the chance to minister in His name to the hungry.  But remembering the words of our Lord, we know we aren’t just doing this to them.  Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40 NASB)  A few years ago, we launched another ministry to the downtrodden, where some of our members prepare a hot meal for the homeless and others go to preach a message to them.  Our Park Ministry continues to flourish as these faithful people lay one brick on top of another.

 We also took the bold step of reaching our Spanish-speaking neighbors by sending our Pastor back to School to learn the language.  Now we are one church that has two congregations.  Members of both congregations serve on our committees and contribute to the welfare of the church.  As you know, I preach once a month to the Spanish congregation and am training some of the laymen how to preach in a monthly workshop held in conjunction with Emmanuel Bi-lingual Baptist Church in Salinas.  With the help of their good pastor, Joel Jimenez, we have services on a weekly basis and are reaching the neighborhood with the gospel.  In this case, we needed some help laying these bricks and our sister church is helping us.

 We’ve participated in other mission projects, like remodeling a cabin at Jenness Park, which now by the order of the Executive Board of the California Southern Baptist Convention is called “Lighthouse Lodge.”  We’ve also participated in the “Feeding those who Feed us” project and gave new school clothes to children of migrant workers and food to their families.  This is on top of Christmas-time projects like Samaritans Purse or Operation Christmas Child and our support of special Mission offerings through our denomination.

 Our brick laying hasn’t been limited to mission work.  We’ve remodeled or refreshed practically every square inch of our buildings and have chiseled our debt down from over $300,000 to around $35,000.00.

 Brick by brick.  We’ve done each of these things, brick by brick.  At times the work is hard.  Never is it glamorous, but all of it is Kingdom work.  We’re not just laying bricks, we’re building a cathedral!  So what does our future hold? 
 
 I don’t know.
  
 I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds our future.  Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)

 We’ve done what we’ve done in response to our understanding of God’s will for our church, and we will go forward with that some conviction.  We will continue to build His Kingdom, one brick at a time.

 Very soon, we need to expand our staff to include a Youth Minister and build some new buildings for office space and onsite housing for staff.  I also believe that in the short term, it is God’s will for us to do three things:  Recommit, Rebuild and Renew.

 Today, I ask you to recommit yourself to the vision.  Make your service to the Lord a top priority in your life.  Attend.  Serve.  Give.  Without your faithful attendance, Spirit-filled service and cheerful giving our church could not complete its mission.  Will you make that recommitment today?  What a great New Year’s resolution!

 Second, we need to rebuild.  We’ve already begun two new Sunday School classes to help us to expand and will launch The Gathering on January 29th.  We’re encouraging all our military families to distribute “Cheryl’s list of Good Stuff” to the new people moving into their neighborhoods and for everyone to help spread the news about Lighthouse Baptist Church by word of mouth.

 Third, we need to renew.  I am praying for personal and corporate revival.  Down the road, you will hear more about our plans for renewal, but for now, let me say that while I don’t know everything that God has planned for us, I know that He is in charge and wants to do great things among us.  Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to see that happen?  We’re not just laying random bricks.  We are doing it together, according to God’s blueprint.  So grab a trowel, we need your help.

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