This week Pastor Jon continued the series, “Taking the Land.”  Jon reminded us that one of the biggest catalysts of change that we can participate in is when we move from believing lies to believing truth.  He reminded us of the truth that the same blessing that was promised to Abraham is now on us, Son-ship.  Using this story, Jon revealed his main thesis for the message. Moving from selfishness to Love: becoming givers rather than takers (Genesis 14 & 15).  To further illustrate his point, Jon invited Joel and Emily Ruddy to share their experiences with giving.  From an early age and with guidance from his parents, Joel discovered that giving was rewarding.  One summer he saved up $800 to buy a car and in a worship service he felt the LORD prompt him to give it all in the offering.  After doing so he expected to hear God’s voice audibly - after all he just gave away his life savings.  Alas, he did not, but at the end of the service someone came up to him with an envelope.  In this envelope was a key to a car!  A car that he wouldn’t have been able to afford.  On top of that, the giver of the car had stashed about $720 (90% of his donation) in gas money throughout the vehicle. This story, among others confirmed his belief in giving and led him to be transformed into a giver.  Jon closed his message by ziplining across the church.  He reminded us that we don’t have to give - we get to give, and that “Taking the Land” begins with a “leap” of faith. 

Chris Parker based his sermon off of the teachings found in Matthew 5:38-48. He conveyed the idiom that ideas have consequences. He also explained that the values that are passed from one generation to the next are often transferred through stories, or narratives. One narrative that Chris has noticed in his life pertains to the church’s stance on masks, or how people who go to church act while they’re at church. The culmination of this point is that “it’s okay to not be okay”. Matthew 5:38-42 states: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Chris explained the fact that there were political undertones with each of the requests that Jesus has in this scripture. The concept of “overconciliation” was also introduced to the congregation as an alternative to either retaliation or doing nothing in response to wrongdoings that people do against us. Chris concluded his message by playing a video of a man who killed a woman and a child and was serving a life sentence in prison, but his heart was set free by the mother of the woman, who forgave him of his actions.

While Moses is up the mountain before the Lord, Israel “sinned a great sin” (Ex. 32:31) by molding and worshiping a golden calf. Israel now faces a significant crisis of uncertainty: Will the Lord’s presence remain with them? Initially, the answer is bleak. God says, “I [the Lord] will not go up among you [to the promised land], or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Ex.33:3). In this precarious place in Exodus 33, Moses intercedes for Israel and the Lord changes his mind (vv. 7-17). Based on this text, Pastor Ted taught on the influence of intimacy.

In the first service, Pastor Ted emphasized that intimacy with God is contagious. Everyone likes to stop and watch a fire burn. When people are intimate with God, others will stop and notice. We see this when the Israelites see the pillar of cloud descend at Moses’ tent. They would stop and watch, each person rising and bowing down at the entrance of their own tent, as God “spoke to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Ex. 33:11). And as Moses spoke with God, he used his intimacy with God for the sake of the people (see esp. 33:16). We too are called not only to a deep, intimate relationship with the Father, but to also exercise the influence that comes with intimacy for the sake of others. The influence Moses has ultimately leads God to renew his covenant with Israel in the very next chapter.

In the second service, Pastor Ted focused on Joshua in this story of Moses’ intercession. When Moses spoke with the Lord, his “young assistant, Joshua” would accompany him. When Moses left the tent, the text says that Joshua stayed (v. 11). The influence of Moses’ intimacy brought Joshua into Moses’ tent where he could see God talk to Moses. From this, Pastor Ted made the point that there is great responsibility in our intimacy with God. “The next generation is watching, listening and posturing themselves like Joshua around what we say and what we do.” Pastor Ted concluded the second service with a corporate prayer over the Church and over Pastor Jon and his family, whose intimacy with God has significant influence in the life of the Church.                 

Building on the message from last week (Pastor Ted Howard, The Influence of Intimacy), Pastor Jon addresses how we can move into a place of prayer and of God’s presence, just as Moses did in Exodus 33:1-24. In this passage, as Moses regularly entered the “tent of meeting” to pray and encounter the presence of God, his intimacy with the Lord influenced others to worship as well. Pastor Jon believes that God is calling us into a deeper place of prayer this season. God wants us to pray more and enter into his presence more, but how? Pastor Jon suggests begin by: (1) worship and (2) evaluating and changing our “dwelling place.”

 Michael Bonning was also invited to share his experience starting the prayer furnace, and three things about the process prayer he discovered during this process:

  1. Engaging with God – By describing the characteristics of God and identifying who God is, we begin to align ourselves with Him.

  2. Receiving revelation – As we begin to gain a deeper understanding of who God is, we also begin to gain revelations about the heart of God.

  3. Declaring on earth as in heaven – After receiving revelation, our prayer begins to be a declaration of his heart and mindset.