|Building our walls of hope|
The public House sg published an article "Why build million dollar churches" which should have read "billion dollar" since any small shop lot would have cost a million dollars making the question redundant. It obviously meant "billion dollar" since the article mentions a church being built as a shopping centre as well. We may not be called to build billion dollar churches but certainly million dollar ones.
On reflection, its important to have a house of our own if our Christian ministry is unique. A place is a stepping stone for growth and expansion, for it can represent a monument and focus rather than temporary housing. We should plan to be here to stay. People come to a tangible house of God. A church should have walls before it can be a "church without walls".
(Ezra 9:9 NKJV) "For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
In the sermon I heard last week, the pastor recalled how he gave twice his monthly salary to CHC more than 10 years ago. God made it possible through a miracle for the money to come when he stepped out in faith. I recalled giving a huge amount to the CHC building fund by faith. We were young and full of fire and faith for God (some say naive!). I thought perhaps I should have invested it in stocks! But God is no man's debtor.
As if God was teasing me, later that day, a friend from a CHC linked church asked me to sell him my guitar as it was being extensively used for his cell group worship! It was an expensive guitar. I ended blessing the friend with the guitar knowing that as I sow into his ministry, my own will be blessed. It's always good to bless rather than to receive. I ended Sunday with not much belogings! God I have nothing in life I complained! even my guitar you took away!
It is easy to believe and be optimistic when young, but as we get older, the harsh realities of life bites us. May God give us that simple heart to believe and expect good things once again when so much harm have happened. Help us to trust You again and not be stumbled by the leaders or churches who had dissapointed or harmed us badly.
A SGD 1 billion dollar "church" in Singapore will apparently be ready next year, an innovative deal with costs shared by a developer to build a shopping centre and an entertainment centre. It is more a "venue" rather than a traditional Anglican Cathedral type building of dedicated church use. Instead, it is a multi-functional facility with the revenues going back to sustain the church rather than paying hefty rental. It is good economics.The church would be a lasting legacy and monument for the ministry and a platform to expand the churches' ministry.
The criticism against large church buildings sounds familiar to those criticising the prostitute for spending her life's earnings to annoint Jesus with special perfume - a waste of money. Why not spend it on the poor we lament just as Judas protested. God sees the heart of our giving. It is our worshipping of God which is sacred and we should not judge others willing to sacrifice so much in building a church or ministry to expand the Kingdom of God. If we want to give to the poor and the outcasts, let that be our ministry and calling but let us not impose this on others.
We are in no position to judge rather understand that it was grace who provided for this church for the funds came in effortlessly without the normal hounding and arm twisting/pleading from the pulpit. God is big enough for both a 1 billion church and resources for the poor. If it was the house that God builds, who are we to attempt to blow it down!
I am vary of pastors hounding the congregation to give a certain percentage to the ministry, forgetting that the desire and passion to give must come from within stired by an attractive proposition and inspired vision. The mega churches are able to build big churches because those who attend can see a vision of expanding the Kingdom of God, a growing church with people coming to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
We are reminded of Jesus chasing out the money changers from the temple of God and we do have plenty of conmen even within the House of God. But this should not be confused with the building of the churches or using businesses to support the running of the church. Here, Jesus was against those who made use of God to cheat people. The costs for the animal sacrifices were exorbitant and overcharged. They were cheating and stealing from people and making use of the passion and heart for people for God to make money. The church is not a business where the Pastor is the CEO rather it is a place where God's love, presence and work is manifested often in very humble settings.
29:1 NKJV) Furthermore King David said to all the assembly: "My son
Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced; and the
work is great, because the temple is not for man but for the LORD God.
The temple of God in Jerusalem was an expensive affair. King David himself gave much gold for the House of God. He gave 3,000 talents of Gold. A talent is 75 pounds or 1200 ounces.
1 ounce gold = USD 1641 (22 Oct 2011)
1 talent of Gold = 2 million (ie your million dollar church)
100 talents of Gold = 200 million
300 talents of Gold = 600 million (sgd billion dollar church)
3000 talents of Gold = 6 billion dollars.
King David gave 6 billion dollars of Gold from his special treasure of gold and silver for the house of God.
We build of own large houses as Nehemiah reminded the Jews in his return to see the broken walls of Jerusalem, but how often do we consider to build the House of God. In Singapore, a typical house would cost SGD 500K. If a congregation of 30,000 put in a sum of 5% of the value of their house over a series of building funds, it represents each person contributing 25K or a total of 700 million.
The question is not whether the money would be better given to the poor whom we seem to always have with us, but the passion and the vision stirred amongsts the congregation to give freely to what they see as the work of God. Is the vision and the work worth it? Are people coming to know God through the ministry?
In Eze 9:9, we are reminded that the Christian Gay community are like slaves released from bondage, liberated to worship God in an authentic and truthful manner in our own small Jerusalem. We have returned to Jerusalem, where we were once far off vary that Jesus had rejected us. We have come back to our place of worship, slowly beginning to reconcile our faith and sexuality.
God has made a way for us to return to Jerusalem, to worship God again, and to understand that He loves and accepts us just as we are. We had thought that being gay was an issue with God when it matters little. Instead God had wanted us to embrace our identity which has been intertwined wonderfully by His creation of our inner most being.
We had continued on our lives and built our own houses, when there is a call of God to build protective walls where we can return and safely worship God without fear and not be disturbed. The walls can only be built when we have more and more gay christians coming back to worship God.
The Jews could never have built Jerusalem with the small remant. They needed help outside of the city that Nehemiah had brought, the additional resources, and the prophetic ministry of Ezekial. The help came by grace, and totally unexpected from King Artaxerxes who give them free passage and resources. They didn't pay for it.
Nehemiah was a Eunuch who could not enter into the temple and his enemy Shemaiah tried to trick him from doing so in order to discredit his ministry, but failed. So you don't hear of his sons and daughters. Yet, he was used by God to build the walls and the temple.
In Singapore, the building of the 1 billion dollar church by the mega churches nears its completion. They have aleady large monuments at Suntec, and Expo. In the shadow of such large structures who had often come against the GLBT community in Asia, it is time for the GLBT Christian ministries to start having a permancency, to built strong permanent walls of legacy and hope.
(Neh 1:3 NKJV) And they said to me, "The survivors
who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great
distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and
its gates are burned with fire."
We have to first build walls in our lives, and a temple of worship and praise within. God is calling us to have a passion for the GLBT Christians who have strayed away from God due to the strong condemnation from the church, society and family. It is in disarray and they could not return to their Jerusalem.
It is time for building - a viable place of worship and praise towards God. A place where the presence and annointing of God attracts the people back to God. It start with the thick walls of protection. The remant in Jerusalem didn't pay for the walls. The materials came by grace. It is by grace that the walls will be built one day for the GLBT Christian community. If Nehemiah who was an Eunuch rejected by the house of God can do it, so can we because we worship the same God, who is well able to perform a mighty miracle.
Nehemiah didn't have a household of his own yet he re-built the City of God for his legacy that the Jewish nation would have a home. In his passion for his scattered people, God used his passion to build a nation and a lasting legacy.
The walls are now fallen, and the GLBT Christian people scattered. Arise O Lord to build up the walls of your ministries for the GLBT Christians. It's time to start building for God will bring the wealth and resources to build the walls of our ministries.