The Lord has given Colonial Heights a 4-part vision: Know Our People, Love Our Community, End Our Debt, and Reach Our World.
Today, I want us to spend some time thinking about the third aspect. Needless to say, the topic End Our Debt may not have the same level of excitement as some of the other points, but it is a crucial step in our ability to fulfil the vision of Colonial Heights.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is slave to the lender.” We know that paying off our debt is a desire we should seek both as a church and in our personal lives. But oftentimes we find ourselves in a position where we cannot see a clear path to freeing ourselves of the burden of debt. It may seem obvious that getting rid of debt would free up significant funds for ministry, but the path to get there can seem almost impossible. We must remember, God’s Word reminds us:
“With God all things are possible.” (Mark 19:26)
To begin, I want to paint a picture of how we got to where we are today in regards to the burden of debt at Colonial Heights. I do want to be careful and not create a feeling that I do not fully support the decisions in the past that got us where we are because I do! We believe God made it very clear (now almost 20 years ago) we needed to relocate. To do that, we had to step out in faith and do some very uncomfortable things, including take on debt for capital expenditures. While I fully believe the move was based on direction from God, that does not mean that I do not, quite frankly, at times feel like we have been facing a mountain that we could not climb.
So how did we get here?
In the 1990s, God led Colonial Heights to relocate and, through multiple avenues, made it clear this land in Ridgeland was where we should be. After purchasing the land and completing construction of the worship building (including parking lots and furnishings), we closed on our loan in the amount of $11,525,000 in February 2005. Soon after, God sent a church to purchase the campus on Old Canton Rd. With those proceeds, we were able to pay down some of the debt. We continued our monthly payments which total almost $750,000 per year. By 2012, the church debt was below $7 million when God led us to build the education building. At the time we were spending over $100,000 per year to rent space on Pear Orchard Rd for our Student Ministry and to maintain six portable buildings on campus that housed our Children’s Ministry. Completing that building took our total debt back up to $10,000,000 in February 2013 but decreased our monthly expenditures. Today we have a total debt of $5,554,801.49. I won’t lie, even typing that number causes me to break out in a sweat. There are times I struggle to believe that we will ever be free of this mountain of debt.
In our very first meeting with Pastor Chad, he asked the staff what our dreams were for the church, and I boldly said, “debt free in 2025!” Honestly, I felt dumb even saying it out loud, but I felt God’s conviction and sometimes just have to say things out loud for the accountability! Now a few years down the road, I can see how God has faithfully provided, and we have been able to pay down our debt at a much faster rate in the last 3 years than in the years prior. But I still see limits and barriers in the path of that 2025 goal. How can we realistically pay off over $5 million in the next 4 years?
Something I have to acknowledge and confess as a sin in my life, and you might have the same one, is that I have a tendency to limit God. If I’m not careful, I put Him in human form with limits and barriers and lack. Sometimes I forget, or at least decline to acknowledge, that He is God, and He owns it all. Everything is His, and He can use it at His will! But sometimes I get too focused on the problem and forget how big He is.
I want to look at some ways that I tend to limit God, some ways that maybe some of you struggle with too. Together, we can repent and run to God for forgiveness!
I limit God by lack of trust.
I am a numbers guy…I need things to balance, tie together, and make logical sense. I trust things I can see, things I can put in a spreadsheet, things I can control. If God gives me total assurance something will work out, then I am quick to trust. I don’t jump out of airplanes because there is not a parachute packer on this earth that I trust to do their job right. I have this crazy need to be able to see what is coming if I am going to jump head first into something. But life isn’t always like that! Oftentimes I just need to completely and fully trust that God knows what is best and will use all things for His glory. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” When we don’t trust God to move on our behalf, we are taking the power from Him to move mountains. We are missing the full power of God in our lives and in the life of His church!
Lack of trust limits God and limits us from being Debt Free in 2025.
I limit God because I fear sacrifice.
I know what the Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:16 – “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
But let’s just all admit it, we often fear God is going to ask us to do something that we really don’t want to do. We have those conversations in our heads. If I really surrender it all to God, He may ask me to change jobs, to move, to give up some of my time, to give up some of my money. And, frankly, we don’t like those thoughts! So we limit God because we are afraid of what He may ask of us. We are selfish people. One thing that often happens to selfish people is we end up isolated and alone because we hold back and never fully give to anyone around us. What if Christ had acted that way? What if He didn’t want to be bothered with those who were sick and needed healing? What if He didn’t sacrifice for our salvation? Where would any of us be without a Savior? He deserves our sacrifice. He has earned it!
Our fear of sacrifice limits God and limits us from being Debt Free in 2025.
I limit God because I lean on myself.
Remember again what the Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5 – “lean not on your own understanding.”
I hate to ask for help. I hate to feel like I cannot handle everything all the time without missing a beat. It is difficult for me to accept that I am incomplete and ineffective without God. If I could do it all, I would not need the Holy Spirit speaking to me every day. For that matter, I would not need a Savior because if I could do it all, I could save myself. It is so clear and yet so hard for me. If I am struggling with this, then I feel like some of you may be struggling as well. Let’s be honest, maybe the church is also.
Things are going really well at Colonial Heights right now. People are joining the church, even during a pandemic. People are getting baptized. At Student Camp this summer several students acknowledged Christ as their Savior and Lord. People are surrendering to full-time missions work. We have college students all over the world right now serving the Lord. We have 12 family units who have committed to follow God by serving in full-time missions around the world. Our financial giving is up. The 2020-2021 financial year will end up being one of the top 5 highest giving years to the budget in the history of Colonial Heights! It would be really easy to pat ourselves on the back and say, “look at us!”
But instead, Church Family, we must say, “No, look at our God! Look at what He is doing!”
Maybe, just maybe, He is waiting for us to fully lean on Him to really show us what He has in store. What if we all fell on our faces before our Holy God, gave our all to Him, willing to give up whatever He asks? What if He is waiting for that to pour His blessing on us like never before?
Leaning on ourselves limits God and limits us from being Debt Free in 2025.
I limit God because I lack expectation in prayer.
Do you doubt God will answer your prayers?
Luke 11:9 says “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
But do we really believe that? Do we pray expecting God to answer? If we don’t, then we are placing limits on Him, and we may never fully experience the abundance He wants to give. John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” When we doubt God will answer our prayers, we are being a thief to the life He has in store for us. When we pray, we have to pray with expectation that He is going to answer our prayer. We need to pray God-sized prayers for what only He can do. We cannot be debt free in 2025 without the supernatural provision of God in His Church, and we need to call out to Him for that provision!
When we lack expectation in prayer, we limit God and we limit ourselves from being Debt Free in 2025!
I limit God because of sin in my life.
Each one of the ways I limit God is sin. Lack of Trust - Sin. Fear of Sacrifice - Sin. Leaning on our own understanding - Sin. Lack of expectation in prayer - Sin. I could add some other sinful ways I limit God (as I am sure all of you could). When we have sin in our lives, it interferes with the power of God in our lives. This includes His power in the life of the church. If the church has a lack of trust in God to provide, that is sin, and it will interfere with His provisions. If the church has a fear of stepping out in faith or a fear of sacrifice, that is sin, and will interfere with His power in the church. If as a church, we believe way too much in ourselves and don't exhibit a need for the Holy Spirit to work among us, that is sin, and we will miss out on the blessings of God. If the church does not pray with expectation that God is going to do something amazing, then we will miss out on all He has in store, and yes, that is sin.
Sin limits God and will limit us from being Debt Free in 2025.
So, what now?
We as humans have limits, but our God is limitless. I read this today written by Billy Graham:
The world’s millions could come down to the beach and reach out their hands to be filled with sea water. They could each take as much as they wanted, as much as they needed—and still the ocean would remain unchanged. Its might and power would be the same, the life in its unfathomable depths would continue unaltered, although it had supplied the needs of every single person standing with outstretched hands along its shores.
So it is with God. He can be everywhere at once, heeding the prayers of all who call out in the name of Christ; performing the mighty miracles that keep the stars in their places, and the plants bursting up through the earth, and the fish swimming in the sea. There is no limit to God. There is no limit to His wisdom. There is no limit to His power. There is no limit to His love. There is no limit to His mercy.
I want us to recognize the limits we are placing on God in our own personal lives and in the life of the church. I want to call on us to pray for God to pour out His blessings. I want us to pray with expectation that God will use His people to End our Debt in 2025. You know what? He could do it in 2021 if He chose to. So, let’s pray He will end it as soon as possible.
I want you to just dream for a moment. If the church were to free up $750,000 in debt payments each year, what kinds of ministries could be funded?
We could plant churches locally and globally. We could fund ministries that are taking the gospel to the unreached all around the world. We could fund ministries who are saving children from human trafficking right here in the metro area!
Just think of what our limitless God can and will do through us as we are faithful to pray and to give until we are debt free!