From One Thriving Church to Two Hiving Churches

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At our All Church Summer Conference, I was going to share the story of the Hive, when Evergreen Baptist Church became Evergreen SGV and Evergreen LA. As I was preaching, I realized that I would have to edit the sermon and decided to leave out the story of the hive. For this blog, I am going to share the genesis of the hive.

There were two important Bible verses in my life as a pastor. In 1 Samuel 3:9, the High Priest Eli instructs Samuel to listen to the Lord after Samuel hears someone calling to him at night. Eli tells Samuel to say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.”

I have always attempted to listen to the Lord regarding our church and my life as a shepherd.

After listening, there was a second step that Samuel learned about listening to the Lord found in 1 Samuel 15:22, which says, “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’” After hearing from the Lord, Samuel always attempted to obey the Lord’s voice.

The Bible teaches that “to obey is better than sacrifice”. Sacrifice was perhaps the single-most important act in Israel’s relationship with God. Yet, Samuel understood that obedience trumps sacrifice. Over the years, the Lord has spoken to me and I needed to obey.

In 1995, Evergreen was confronted with the challenge of outgrowing our campus. We were beginning to experience sociological strangulation. Sociological strangulation happens when the physical facilities cannot handle more people.

The symptoms of sociological strangulation are when 80% of available parking spaces are used, seating capacity in sanctuary is at 80% or more and classroom space is 80% utilized.

We looked for remedies. We tried to purchase additional adjacent property. We prayed about moving to a larger site or starting a satellite church.

In 1995, while at a conference, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Split the church”. When I returned from the conference, I began to share about the possibility of planting a church with either Ken Fong or me leading the plant.

No one was in favor of the idea at first. But, I knew that if it was from the Lord, it would happen. Gradually, the church family warmed up to the idea as they began to see the benefits of such a venture. Rather than calling it a split, we coined the term “hive” for the venture from the Lord.

In 1997, after about two years of prepping the church family, we hived the church and Evergreen SGV was given birth. The rest is history.

Listening to the Lord and being willing to obey has resulted in incredible blessings as we moved forward as Evergreen SGV, and with every blessing, may God be glorified.

How is God speaking to you? Are you willing to obey?

Something to think about…

Enough Is Enough

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“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Have you said something to the effect that “Enough is enough!”?  In other words, you have had your “fill of it”, you are “stretched to the limit”, you are “taxed to death” or it’s time to “walk away from it”. These are all expressions that enough is enough.

It’s like a sumptuous ten-course Chinese banquet. Dish after delicious dish is spun around to you on a circular table on top of a circular table. You start strong, but fade fast. When the fried rice is finally served, you cannot eat another bite… enough is enough.

Back when disco was king, Donna Summers and Barbra Streisand sang a song subtitled, “Enough Is Enough”. The song is about being a bad relationship that was going nowhere and it was time to leave it because enough is enough.

The Apostle Paul had an “enough is enough” moment in his life. He was struggling with a thorn in the flesh issue. No one is exactly sure what Paul’s malady was, but suffice it to say that it was plaguing him.

Paul prayed at least three times for the Lord to heal and relieve him from his pain and suffering. He then received a life-changing realization from the Lord. Through the trials and tribulations of this life, through the pain and suffering of a world gone cold, Jesus is enough.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” He came to the realization that God’s “grace is sufficient”. God’s grace is found in Jesus. In other words, Jesus is sufficient; Jesus is enough.

Whenever we are experiencing the hardships of life and we are having an “enough is enough” moment in life, remember that Jesus is always enough. When this becomes a reality in our lives then will come the understanding that when we have had enough, then it is time to make the enough of Jesus be enough.

Something to think about…

Four Things That Never Change – Final

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We are taking a look at four things that will never change no matter how simple or challenging a life change may be. We saw that in the midst of change, God never changes and that God’s Word never changes. Now we will take a look at a third thing that never changes.

In the midst of change, God’s plans never change.

1 Samuel 15:29 says, “…for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” The Psalmist wrote, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11

God’s plans do not change because they do not have to change. They do not have to change because of the following: God is omniscient or all-knowing. He is omnipresent or ever-present. He is omnipotent or all-powerful. He is sovereign.

Why do our plans change? Proverbs 19:21 states that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.” Our plans change because we don’t have the perspective and we don’t have the power.

Our church family looked to property for ten years. We look at hundreds of sites. We put bids in on several pieces of properties. We purchased one parcel, drew up plans, submitted drawings and then sold it. But all of our plans failed to materialize. They kept changing. But, we knew one thing: God had a plan for us and His plan was never off track.

It gave us great comfort to know that in the midst of our plans constantly changing, God had a plan that was rock-solid.

And finally…

In the midst of change, God’s love never changes.

In Romans 8:38-39, Paul states, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Bible says that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

When we look at the list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God, we notice that the list is all-inconclusive. It covers everything. It is God’s way of saying that His love for us never changes.

So in the midst of life changes, remember that God Himself, God’s Word, God’s plans and God’s love will never change.

Something to think about…

 

Four Things That Never Change – Part Two

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We are taking a look at four things that will never change no matter how simple or challenging a life change may be. These four things are truths we can cling to in the midst of change.

We saw that in the midst of change, God never changes and how God’s consistency adds confidence in our lives no matter what. Here a second that never changes.

In the midst of change, God’s Word never changes. The Scriptures speaks for itself regarding this truth. Isaiah 40:8 states, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Psalm 119:152 says, “Of old I have known from Thy testimonies, that Thou hast founded them forever.”

In Mark 13:31 Jesus declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

God’s Word never changes. It is inerrant. It is perfect. There is no need for it to change. On the subject of change, Charles Swindoll has written that “Many evangelical churches of this generation are making a grave error. Afraid of change, they have somehow connected yesteryear’s methodology with the timeless truth of the Scriptures.”

How can the timeless truth of Scripture help us in times of change?

The truth can prepare us for times of change. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” To be adequate and equipped means to be prepared for whatever comes next.

The truth can also guide us during times of change. The Psalmist wrote, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. Indeed, the truth of the Scriptures serves as a guide and a light as we live life.

One of the things that have helped me over 41 years of ministry is the timelessness of the Bible. When I began, I had little idea of what to do as a Senior Pastor. However, God gave me ten verses of Scripture to teach and inculcate into the fabric and culture of our church family. Those verses both prepared me for what I was to do and guided me in the doing.

I also had extreme confidence in what I was doing because I knew that the Scriptures never change and were as dependable in 1977 as they were when they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and still dependable today.

Are you depending on God’s Word as much as you should? Remember, it never changes and is therefore, the reliable source of truth.

Something to think about…