God of Impossibilities
Impossibilities are all around us. We experience them everyday and truly, what is considered entirely impossible, improbable and unfeasible has in many ways become part of our everyday lives. Man flies. Impossible right? Bees fly. That one’s even scientifically impossible right? You can be very present with someone on the other side of the planet, and yet remain right here in Colorado. Impossible, right? You can run 50 MPH while sitting in a comfy chair. Impossible…right? Someone said it was.
A pair of brothers once looked up into the sky and purposed to touch the top of the clouds, and many stood by and said…not possible. A man once dreamt of traveling a days journey in an hour without having to board a train…and as the design of the automobile was described…many stood by and said, not possible.
And all of those folks that stood by and saw the difficulty rather than the power and promise of a sovereign God…all of those folks, were entirely right. It is indeed impossible for man to fly. It is indeed impossible for a person to be in two places, or three, or four at once. It is indeed impossible for a person to run 50 MPH while resting comfortably in a cushioned seat…but Jesus looked into the eyes of His concerned disciples once and He said to them, “With men, truly this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
You see we serve a God that takes what is impossible (in the power and perspective of man) and He brings it to pass for His glory. Sarah conceived in her old age at the promise of God. Joshua beheld the mighty walls of Jericho crumble at the promise of God. Rahab, the prostitute entered into the lineage of the Messiah…Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel…the Bible is full of wondrous stories of God crossing out the word impossible in the hearts of those that would believe Him.
Mary was told the impossible by Gabriel, the angel…that she would be found to be with child but not by a man…but by the Holy Spirit…and that child would be the Messiah. And the Bible says in Luke 1:37 that Gabriel talked with her and when she appeared concerned and confused, he reminded her, “Mary, with God nothing will be impossible.”
Her response, “Behold, look upon me, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word!” And by that impossibility, all men behold the glory of God on High!
Moses knew about impossibilities. He was left in a river as a baby with the hope against hope that he would be found and cared for…and he was. Later in life he was called by God to free his people. An insurmountable impossibility…especially when everything seemed stacked against him, the situation so bleak and hopeless…well…Turn over to Exodus Chapter 14, Verses 5 through 31.
God accomplished the impossible…when the Egyptian army was behind them and the vast Red Sea was before them…right when they were out of routes, out of options, void of all hope…God made the waters stand as walls and once His people were safe, God washed away their enemies. You see we serve a God that reigns over all impossibilities…your situation, my situation, our marriages, our careers, our church…
Before Christmas this past year, 2012, we had a visitor at the church. A visitor that came when no one was here and completed a task that no one had scheduled. We received a letter at the beginning of January notifying us that the city had concerns regarding the use of this building as a church and they had been informed by the Fire Marshall that the building was not up to code for our use.
Now when we moved into this building, we accepted it as is…meaning we did not require the owner to make any alterations and that we would utilize the space as it was currently laid out…however what was not completed at the time of taking possession was a code inspection. And so, ok…no big deal…we enlisted the support of an architect and we analyzed the space per the Fire Marshall’s request and we concluded that the wall separating our unit with Nick’s next door was not rated correctly for Assembly use. It is a one-hour demising wall and per the code it needs to be a two-hour demising wall…very costly, but required…
And so we updated the drawings for the space noting the change in order to meet code and we submitted to the city. Very shortly thereafter, we received a several page rejection letter noting several additional concerns by the city…
You see in the time that we had taken to meet with the landlord, the architect and the general contractor…the city had pulled the International Building code and conducted a full assessment of this space for “Assemby Use.” Their new letter to us included adding a bathroom, a utility sink, a water fountain…and a sprinkler system. The cost to alter the wall was estimated by our landlord to be around $15k total and now with these new requirements, the bill was most likely 10 times that.
Now we would not be responsible for all of it…just the alterations to our space, but still, approximately half of that is on us…and so we prayed. I reached out to a few of my pastor friends at other churches, filled them in, and asked them to pray. We started to look around just in case we received a cease and desist notice from the city.
April and I looked at 20 places…warehouses, schools, gutted retail spaces, we even looked at vacant churches that were for sale. But after speaking at length with an agent I learned that a bank will not lend to a church unless we put 40% down! So that wasn’t an option at all…and all of the spaces we looked at…nothing was right, not even close.
And so, we prayed man…and continued to serve the Lord and seek His will…One day Lezli sent me a brochure for a building that is not too far from here…much larger, already coded for a church and so I contacted the listing agent…they wanted upwards of $10k a month including rent and common area fees…I didn’t even go and see it…I simply replied, thanked them for their time and told them that if they’d take half of that, we would be willing to come see the property. They immediately declined and that was that.
Meanwhile, God was working wonders in this place! Not only was church just going so well and such a blessing and so alive, but He was adding to the church…many of you have only been coming since the beginning of the year! What an encouragement from God to keep going…walk by faith man! I’m with you! I’m always so encouraged when someone brings their neighbor or their co-worker…
God was also working in the heart of the gentleman at the city and even bringing alongside of us wonderful servants from other churches. God provided a great friend and brother to me, a man by the name of John Kauffman who attends Calvary Castle Rock…he is a very astute general contractor and he and I went and met with the city to address their letter and find out if there is anything we missed…well there was…if we could get the occupancy down below 300 people then we wouldn’t have the requirement to install sprinklers! Boom! A way forward! The sprinklers were by far the bulk of the cost! So encouraging!
And so John and I went to work with the architect and together we devised a floor plan that changed our “Waiting Area” to an “Entry Way” and thus dropped our occupancy count to less than 300! Awesome! I felt like Moses raising his staff before the Red Sea man…I was preparing to see the water part and for the entire nation of Calvary Cherry Creek to go forward! I was pumped!
And so we redid all of the plans. Adding the bathroom, changing the wall, adding the sink and the water fountain and changing the waiting area to an entry way…and we submitted to the city! I hand delivered them I was so psyched! Man just celebrating.
Meanwhile, I had met with the Embassy Suites over here right down the street and man God gave us such favor in their hearts. Just in case the city wanted to shut us down, the Embassy would be happy to have us…they have beautiful large great rooms and several smaller meeting rooms…it would work just wonderfully! They were so awesome that they even opened up their lobby and common area and said, “hey, just worship right here!” Man this was awesome. Not only did we have a clear way forward for our current space, we also had a backup plan that was great! I slept well…
Then a few weeks ago, I got a call. The agent for the space that Lezli found, in an unexpected and unsolicited action, called me up to tell me that they’d accept my offer…I was confused…this was odd…well, we aren’t interested…we’re staying right where we’re at…it was a voicemail and I purposed to return their call the next day and decline their acceptance. Then I was like, “God, You’re so good…You know me so well…how fearful and worrisome that I am…You’ve even given me a backup plan to our backup plan…thank you, Father…”
The next day, I receive a letter from the city. They rejected our resubmission. Their response was that they cannot allow the waiting area to be called an entry area due to the bar walls…the only way we could do that would be to complete the half walls in the back of the sanctuary, making them full walls…and oh by the way, once you do that…there are a whole new set of concerns regarding ventilation…in fact….there’s a whole new set of concerns anyway regarding plumbing, electrical and ventilation already before your resubmission.
My heart dropped. The city was again requiring sprinklers and we were sunk. The waters didn’t part. I looked back, the Egyptians were getting nearer. My heart dropped. And so, we prayed. April, Scott and I went to the space that Lezli had found…huge, setup for a church, several classrooms and offices, large sanctuary…and my faith failed. I said in my heart, “God, don’t let me get my hopes up…” and you know what He said to me…”let them rise...”
And so, we prayed. Now our prayers turned to our current owner. You see we’re in a three-year lease. We’ve only completed one year. And the owner would be looking forward to the next two because our payments escalate each year…that is how we negotiated this lease so that we could afford it…and so we prayed. For us not to have to do all of this work we’d either have to buy out the lease for about $100k plus a personal guarantee that I signed to incentivize the owner to lease to us…or they’d have to release us…It’s kinda like you owe someone over $100k, and you ask for them to forgive the debt…at this point, I’m again standing as Moses in front of a very raging Red Sea.
And so we prayed. The staff prayed. Pastor Andy at Antioch and Pastor Mark at Antioch, they prayed. Pastor Sam Park at Calvary South Denver Prayed. Pastor Dave Love, Pastor Ed Taylor, our lawyer Sam…even Cody…praying for God’s impossible provision.
And God told me to talk to the landlord. I laid it all out. All that God had done, all that we had faced and finally our humble request, to be released…and his response was simple and short…put it in writing and I’ll get the owner involved. And so I did. I laid out all of the issues, all that we had done but most importantly I sincerely apologized for all of this…our desire has always been to be faithful stewards of what God has provided. We’ve paid every bill in full, on time…we’ve sought to not just abide by our lease but exceed the requirements by serving our neighbors, our landlord and owner and caring for the facility as unto the Lord…
I sent the email. The response, short and sweet. “Matt, the owner would like to discuss this with you.” I trembled. I began to prepare. Should I write it all out…what I would say, mix in some Bible verses and work on voice inflection so that I may come across correctly…God said “no.” He reminded me that the just shall live by faith…and that I am to walk by faith and not by sight…and so I rested and I prayed…full of fear and wrought with worry…I’m so weak man…
Then the owner called. “Matt, I am wrecked by your email. Your heart blows me away and I wanted to tell you that in person.” I’m like “what”!? God calms me in the first moments of the conversation.
We had been praying for God’s impossible provision, God’s favor in the situation and also for God to give us favor in the heart of the owner…He delivered much more. The wind began to stir the waters…and they began to part.
The owner of this space that we worship in this morning…is a Christian. On fire for the things of God and a strong brother in the Lord. He ministered to me man…God is so good. And finally he said, “whatever your church needs, we will do. You are released!”
The waters parted man…we prayed for a house, God provided a mansion! Even when all of this was just stewing, I said to April, if God does this…we will have no reason at all to ever doubt Him in this ministry…this situation is IMPOSSIBLE…but man so easy for God! Your situation today…IMPOSSIBLE but man with the pinch of faith of a mustard seed, the mountains move, the water parts!
We will finish out May here and then beginning June, we will be meeting less than 1 mile west on Arapahoe in a facility that is absolutely amazing. A place that we can stay in and grow in…no problem!
The Lord says in Habakkuk 1:5, “look, watch and be utterly amazed for I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told!” For sure God! For sure I believe You! And as I look back to December when all of this began, I would have done everything that I did…all the planning, all the meetings, all the praying, all the seeking, all the writing…I believe faith has feet and as faithful stewards we ARE to do all that we can do…but man I would have done it all with so much less fear…God is our leader, not me. God is our Father, not me…He is so good and so compassionate, ready and willing to save and all He asks is for us to follow Him.
We will follow you God. You are wondrous. Your ways past finding out. Your provision is impossible yet you provide richly and abundantly to anyone who would turn to you. This church turns to God. We will trust Him. We will not waver. We will fulfill His will for this ministry and no matter the worry, the fear, the fret, the anxiety…all of those things are suffering…no matter what we are to suffer…WE WILL FOLLOW…through the red sea, parted on both sides, into the promised land of His will and presence…
Rejoice with me! In Jesus’ name!