SouthPoint, the church I pastor, will be 10 years old this January, and as I look around at all that God has done in our church I am blown away by his goodness and faithfulness. SouthPoint has become a church for the disenfranchised and marginalized people in our area. A place where anyone and literally everyone is accepted and loved. With such an amazing variety of people gathered I one place we have had some incredibly interesting moments. Some of those moments have been embarrassing while others were uncomfortable, but all of them pail in comparison to the amazing stories of life change and Godly transformation.
None of that would have ever happened if I would have settled. In our launch phase of the church, we were meeting in my living room and it was great. It was a small group of people all loving each other, and worshipping together. The Sunday before our big launch in a movie theater, I had a lady form our team come up to me and say, “Craig, can we just stay here? Do we really have to turn this into a church? I mean this is just so wonderful and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for so long.” She was right! It was awesome, and we could have settled right there, but if we would have settled then we would never have stepped into the promise that God had placed in my heart.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)
We can miss the new and the best, by settling for the here and now.
Sometimes God is so good to us that we just want to stay right here. That’s why so many people don’t like change, they don’t like change because they say, think or feel, “Well what’s wrong with this?” “Why can’t we stay here? I mean after all didn’t God give us this and do this for us?” And that’s the kicker because God did bless you with what you have and where you are and once where you are becomes comfy and blessed we are tempted to become staythiests. Once we settle into a groove or a routine and things are good we don’t want our apple cart upset right? We’re good. We find ourselves in situations where church makes sense and we know how things work and operate.
We want to live and stay where we can understand it, and handle the process because we like being in control. Once your family, your church, or your job, gets controllable, once one of those areas gets blessed and comfy, we want to just shrink wrap it and pause time, and just have everything safe and the same.
Our culture has created an ultra-safe environment. Everything is seat belts and helmets, and if any harm comes to anybody then somebody needs to be sued. If course, I struggle with that mindset since I was raised in a time where cars came without seat belts, and my seat as a toddler was in the front middle, on the flip down armrest. I needed to be higher I guess so I could be catapulted through the front windshield!
We want control in situations, and if we can’t have control then we at least want some guarantees that difficulties will be diminished. We want things safe, and that is not real life, and that is not church life.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. - John 10:10 (NKJV)
Jesus didn’t come to keep us safe. Part of the salvation process is not to be wrapped in bubble wrap and given guarantees that everything will be rainbows and unicorns. And when we do find moments in life where it feels like it’s safe and wonderful with rainbows and gumdrops we want to stop there and set up camp. When we do that, we miss out on the best. We mistake a rest stop for a final destination.
This happened to the children of Israel on their epic trek through the wilderness. God promised them this land. It was full of amazing things. They had already sent spies in. They knew there was still a fight to be had, but it was theirs! God promised them the victory in the battles, and then the towns of the giants would belong to them!
Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock, the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Nebo, and Beon, the country which the Lord defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.” - Numbers 32:1-5 (NKJV)
Great things were promised, but these two groups of people wanted to settle. They wanted to just take good enough. They even said, look we have cattle, and this land is suitable for cattle. So let us just take what we can see, understand and control. Too often as church leaders we don’t want to move on in faith we want to settle in familiarity. We get tired, or burned out. We get to a point where we have fought so hard for so long that we are just tired and really what we are experiencing right now is okay. The bills are paid and nobody is fighting in the aisles, so this seems like a great place to settle, even if it is short of the promise of God that is in our hearts.
Look at what these two tribes said:
The country which the Lord defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” - Numbers 32:4 (NKJV)
God did this. He conquered this land too! And that is true, but just because God did this much for you, he did this much for your church, does not mean that he is done doing. He has not run out of blessings or ideas, and the promise is still to come! Keep walking forward because, the flow of God’s blessings matches the stride of the people. God gave a promise to Moses and repeated it again to Joshua.
"Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours:" - Deuteronomy 11:24 & Joshua 1:3 (NKJV)
So in other words, God told Moses, listen as far as you go, as much as you believe, you can have it. And then the couple of groups settled, and God says it again to Joshua, remember big fella, these folks settled. You can settle you can stop anytime you want to but there’s more. There is so much more. I don’t want you to settle. I don’t want you to stop because you haven’t seen anything yet! And as you go forward you are no longer going forward just for you, you are going forward and taking ground for the generations that will follow you. Your kids and your grand kids will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
God conquers and blesses as far as we are willing to go.
God has blessed SouthPoint Church. I could have settled and stayed in our living room like that lady wanted, but if I would have done that then I would have never gotten to lead an atheist to the Lord in the middle of a movie theatre and that was awesome! I could have settled there, but if I would have, then I would have never gotten to lead a 56-year- old Agnostic to the Lord in the middle of a High school cafeteria. That was an amazing life change moment for an entire family and we could have circled the wagons, had plaques made to commemorate the moment, but if we would have settled there then I would have never gotten to lead a 38 year old Mormon to the saving grace of Jesus Christ standing in the lobby of our new facility. We could settle. We could stop right here and just say, “Well, we’re tired. We’ve worked hard and now we are just going to settle where we are.” Don’t settle because you have not stepped into the fulfillment of the promise that God placed in your heart all those years ago. It was real. It was vivid. It was God, and it still is God.
Let me encourage you today to not settle at a point of refreshing, but push on in the promise of God and step into the promise that he has set aside for you and your church.