King David wanted to build a house for God in Israel. He wanted to have a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant. After years of worshipping in tents and tabernacles, David had it in his heart to build a temple in Jerusalem.
God said no. Not now.
You may remember the story. David had completed and was living in the King’s palace. But his conscience was troubling him. He called his friend and advisor Nathan and said “This isn’t right. I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.”
David was ready to move forward with his plans, but God intervened. He came to Nathan and told him to go back to the King with news that the project was being divinely postponed.
David’s son Solomon eventually built the temple. It became the center of Jewish worship until it was destroyed during the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in 586 BC. When God’s people came back to Jerusalem following fifty years of slavery in Babylon, after they had rebuilt the city wall and their own homes, they turned their attention to rebuilding the temple. Centuries later, King Herod renovated and expanded the temple and grounds. The Romans ultimately laid the temple to waste in 70 AD.
As I told you on Sunday, the elders met this past week and unanimously voted to break ground on a new home for our church. We have asked those of you who are members of our church to click this link and to take a minute to let us know if you affirm the elder’s decision. If you’re a member of our church and you haven’t clicked the link above, let us hear from you.
I have a lot of thoughts on my heart as we continue to move forward with our building project.
First, we all need to keep in mind that a church is not a building. A building is a place where the church meets. You are the church. You are the living stones that are being built into a spiritual house. The building is a gathering place. But the building is not the church.
At the same time, as we set apart a meeting space as a local church, we are setting it apart for a special purpose. As we gather together for worship, for prayer, to hear God’s word preached and for fellowship, our omnipresent God has promised that He will be with us in a special way during that time. So, while there’s nothing special about the wood or concrete we’ll use to build the church, we are setting the land and building apart for kingdom purposes. It is consecrated, holy ground.
Our new building means we’ll have a lot of new neighbors to serve. God has put it on my heart to start praying for the people who live in the Water’s Edge subdivision. And the Woodridge subdivision. And the Kenwood subdivision. These are just some of our new neighbors. As we move near where they live, I’m praying God will give us many opportunities to serve and love and care for these neighbors. I’ve gone to pray4everyhome.org and entered in the street address for our property (11480 W. David O Dodd). And I’m getting emails now every day with the names of our new neighbors. I hope you’ll pray too. You can pray for neighbors by name or simply pray for the neighborhoods by name.
I’m also starting to pray for the 300 children who attend David O Dodd Elementary School, and asking God to give us wisdom in knowing how we can serve the students, teachers and administrators there. I’m praying for Melinda Modica who is in her first year as the school principal. I’m praying that as we bring a gift of school supplies to the school in the next few weeks, that gift will open doors for future ministry opportunities.
And I’ve been reflecting on the fact that in King David’s day, the building of temple inspired all of God’s people to give sacrificially. 1 Chronicles 29 says “The people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD.” In Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, the people shouted for joy and wept as the foundation of the temple was laid.
I hope this season in the life of our church will be a season that brings a fresh focus along with fresh opportunities for ministry.
As we were concluding our elder’s meeting last week, after we’d voted to move forward, Tim Friesen shared with the rest of us that there is a part of him that would rather not press into all the work that is ahead for us in this transition time. But he is motivated by a desire for many more people in Little Rock to begin to experience the kind of life giving, life transforming work that he and Debbie have experienced being part of Redeemer over the past ten years.
I hope that’s your motivation as well. I’m convinced that there are many people who faithfully attend church each week and who still haven’t experienced the joy and peace that comes when you begin to get your heart around grace and the good news that your identity as a child of God rests on the finished work of Jesus, not on some righteousness that you try to conjure up. Truth really does set us free. And understanding and embracing God’s grace changes everything.
One final thought. We should not be surprised over the next several months if the building of a new church home stirs up some internal conflict or division. I believe this new building is something God is going to use to expand His Kingdom in central Arkansas. If I’m right, the we should expect the enemy to seek to bring strife or disunity.
In God’s providence, the passages we’ve been studying lately warn us to avoid quarrelling and judging one another regarding secondary issues. I’m praying that through this process, God will do what He has done in our midst for more than a decade – and that is, to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We hope to have an updated artists rendering of our church pretty soon. For now, here’s a pretty close proximity of the new home that Lord willing, we’ll be breaking ground on soon.
This Sunday night, we’ll have a one hour evening prayer and praise service starting at 6:30. We’ll sing together and pray for one another. We’ll pray for issues in our city and in our country – for our leaders, our freedoms, and struggles as a society. We will pray for our missionaries and for the Gospel to bear fruit all over the world.
Prayer meetings are often a low priority for church members. I hope that in our case, all who are in town and available will make this time a priority.
If you have prayer requests that you would like to have included in our time you can email Matt at email@example.com.
A couple of August dates to get on your calendar.
Saturday, August 11 we’ll be having our next new members class for anyone interested in becoming a member at Redeemer. There are some things to watch and a couple of books we ask you to read prior to attending the class. Contact Matt Gurney if you’re interested in attending. Mattgurney77@gmail.com
And Tuesday night August 21 is our make up date for our summer swimming pool party. I know it’s a school night (yikes!), so we’ll make it our special end of summer, back to school bash. And once again, free pizza.
We’ll wrap up our study of Romans this Sunday with a final word about unity. And we’ll see how God can be a God of peace and still crush the head of the serpent! We’ll also have a special presentation from some of the kids who have been part of the Kid’s Summer Fest activities.
Oh, and one final note. Don’t look for a weekly e-newsletter for the next few weeks. After a decade of writing these weekly emails, I’m taking a two-week sabbatical. I’ll have a lot to share about our fall church plans next time I write to you.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!