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Finish What We Started

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Many people begin projects and hobbies, but then walk away and never finish them. As the body of Christ, we do should not have that mindset!

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Let me ask you a question this morning, “How many of you have ever started something in your life, (like a hobby, a home project/renovation, a self-help group, reading a book, or maybe, going back to school to better yourself through higher education) and yet you find that you never complete these things that you started out to conquer.

Thinking back to when you first took on, or decided to begin this new thing, this new venture, this new project in your life, you had a desire, a passion and fire within you to go at this “new” thing, this new venture, right?
I mean, to go out and start buying the amenities that were going to be needed for whatever it was that you were starting and the newness of it all; it was so exhilarating! Do you remember that feeling?
The smell of the new lumber as you hauled it home and began laying out your design and the unwrapping of all of the new power tools you got for this project, or the books and DVD’s that you just purchased to go through and the excitement of that first step being accomplished and getting you on your way to VICTORY!
You had GREAT intentions to finish this task, this goal, this project, or whatever it was!
And then, days, weeks, months or even years later, after you started out, the fire had turned to smoldering embers at best and the newness of the task or project had completely worn off.
Now, as you look around, you see that half finished shelving system in the garage and the only thing that it can hold are the cobwebs hanging from it, or that flower bed and landscaping project in the front yard that, in your mind, was going to make the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, look like an aftermarket sale in the close-out section of the garden center at the local Walmart.
You notice those books stacked up that you were going to read and those self-help videos collecting dust by the DVD player.
That little fort that you started off building for your kids or your grand kids in the back yard, has now become a safe haven for a variety of rodents and bugs that just happen to dwell within the backyard, (or what your wife now likes to call the “neighborhood Serengeti”, due to another project that you started the year before and didn’t finish with the yard and which now has all of the appeal of the Australian outback!)
These things may have started well, but were either not finished, or were finished poorly, RIGHT?
Can any of you relate to what I am talking about?
I can see some women with that look like, “Um hmmmmmm, I know exactly what he’s talking about!”
And many of us just walk away and forget about these projects, these ventures. That is, until one of several things happens: the bills start flowing in and you are pain painstakingly reminded of the cost for that “great beginning” that you had with your project, or your local neighborhood council issues you a warning to fix the mess or get out, or even worse, a search and rescue team was sent in to retrieve small children and neighborhood pets that never came out of the garden project that you started and abandoned, or even still worse, a H.A.Z.M.A.T. team was called in to close off and quarantine your property until the septic system problem could be fixed from where you decided to dig and install your own “in-ground pool” and in the process, thought that you had struck oil! No more needs to be said about that project!
The point is, people are notorious to start things with a great amount of zeal and excitement, but then, they either never finish them, or they finish very poorly!

Today, I want to talk to you about this very subject; starting something but not finishing it, or finishing it very poorly!

Now there are various reasons, of course, as to why we may not finish, or even to be able to finish certain things once we start them and I think that we can all agree to and understand this, right? There are circumstances that prevail!
I mean, ladies, there are legitimate reasons why the project that your husband started has not been completed yet. (I mean reasons even more important than the NECESSITY of college football games.)
You see ladies, the male brain is a highly advanced and complicated vessel, capable of amazing amounts of work and design, and yet it is also something that cannot be pushed or rushed, else it might cause a disruption in the flow of greatness! It is really too hard to explain in such a short period of time!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand!
Modern psychology studies tell us that we are interrupted, on the average, about every three minutes while working on something.
Well, what is even more interesting about this stat, is that they all also say that, roughly half of these interruptions are self-imposed.
And if I may take this one step further, they also report that one quarter of the adults around the world, are PROCRASTINATORS!
And in studies about “procrastination” psychologists say that there are several basic reasons as to why people may procrastinate so often.
The fear of failure
The fear of success
And also procrastination can come from someone being a perfectionist and not willing to move without the absolute assurance of the task being done with the utmost of perfection!
Regardless of the reasons for procrastination, the result is almost always a seemingly endless cycle of anxiety, avoidance and shame.
They tell us that a person procrastinating can never really enjoy things in life, because that GUILT of the thing, or things, that are left unfinished, hangs over their head and brings about constant stress.
For instance, if you are out on the lake fishing on a beautiful day with the knowledge and understanding that there is a project that is supposed to have been completed and it isn’t, then the guilt and anxiety and stress of the project prevents you from enjoying that time fishing, or any other thing.
And this is a perpetual cycle for many people’s lives!
What I have just been talking to you about, are things that relate to our natural/physical lives and of how we start, but never really finish what we have started. And this is the subject that I want to talk to you about this morning, but from a completely different arena
I want us to look at finishing what we started (WITH EXCELLENCE) from the kingdom perspective!

How many of you read the email that I sent out yesterday, about being here this morning?

If you read it, then you know that I mentioned that there would be an announcement this morning about the church that would forever change the course of Cumberland Worship Center, right?
Well, that was actually just a cheap tactic to get you in here!
All joking aside, my wife and I, as well as the rest of the leadership here at the church, have decided to move in a specific direction for the future of our church body.
It is a direction that we feel we are being prompted to move in and one that is accordance with the move of the Lord.
How many of you know and understand enough of the kingdom of God to realize that it is not static and that it changes, in accordance with the will of God?
In order to effectively serve in His kingdom, you must be willing to let go of some things in order to embrace others, right?
Our church was formed and started, just over 18 years ago and throughout these past 18 years, we have seen much change; pastoral changes, leadership changes, layperson changes. Brothers and sisters going home to be with the Lord and God blessing the church with new life in all of the babies that have been born into our church family!
And in the midst of all of this transition, we have witnessed the most important change that should ever take place; lives being transformed and changed from death to life through the miracle of salvation from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ and the confirmation of it by water baptisms!
We have celebrated together over the years, laughed together and cried together.
This church building and the people within it, have witnessed much together over the past 18 years, some good and some painful and some just plain bad.
And the culmination of all of this has happened to bring us right here, right now, in this season, for such a time as this!
But that was all a chapter, a time, a season in our part of the body of Christ.

And so here we are, having started our race, we must turn our faces and thoughts and our prayers and full attention towards the Lord, now, more than ever and press in and seek His guidance and His will, so that we may finish this race and finish it with excellence!

And having said that, I will now announce to you the direction that we are moving as a church family. (POSSIBLY HAVE THE LIVE FEED TURNED OFF. IF SO ANNOUNCE TO THOSE VIEWING THAT WE WILL RETURN IN A FEW MINUTES.)
Four years ago, when Dee and I stepped into the position as senior pastors of this church, we held a leadership meeting at that time. In that meeting, it was discussed that we would evaluate after the first year, the plausibility of selling the church and moving, or staying at this location.
After the first year had lapsed, nothing seemed to indicate that we should even consider the possibility any further of moving and so that thought was pushed to the proverbial back burner.
Now, flash forward three more years, to current day and that dormant thought has now resurfaced.
And with it this time, has come the unction and urgency to move in the direction of change!
I made the statement at the closing of 2017, going into 2018 that this year would be a year of NEW and CHANGE. Do any of you remember me saying that?
I had no clue as to what that statement meant and even today, as I stand before you right now, I do not really know the length, or depth or width of that statement. I only know what I am sharing with you at this exact moment!
We are moving forward, at this time, in listing the church building on the commercial real estate market, with the expectation of either moving into a facility that is much more equipped and adept to meeting the needs of where we are going in the future as a church, or, building a brand new facility that will meet our needs and in a MUCH MUCH MORE EFFICIENT WAY!
First and foremost, before I say anything else at this point, let me assure you that what I am saying to you right now, is being said in all joy and confidence and assurance that this church is in fact, moving into a NEW season and a positive direction and this decision is for the service of the kingdom of God in every way!
This is not a doom and gloom thing guys, but rather, it is one of POSITIVE change for the good of our church, but even more so, it is for the good of and the service of the kingdom of God and for His glory!
Now, having said that to you, I want you to be excited as we are excited and to embrace this new season and change and begin to look forward and not back (as Pastor Desirae talked about last Sunday), so that we can begin to see the potential of what and where, God is calling us into.
We have shared with you, the church body, in the last year, the financial obligations that come with this building and the burden thereof.
In order to just keep the doors open to this building every month, it costs between $21 - 23,000!
That is without anything breaking down or needing renovating or any other large expenses.
In other words and for a more clear and large picture for you, we are spending $250,000, each and every year, just to have our doors open for services and operations!
A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS every year, just to be here!
We do not use a large percentage of this facility and its over 27,000 square feet of space and yet we are spending the churches monies to repair it and heat it and cool it and keep ALL of it going!
With what we would save in moving into another facility, it would begin to free up and allow us more finances and room to do more outreach and evangelism and discipleship to our community around us!
The main driving force behind this change is to give us the breathing room to begin to do what we are here to do; EVANGELIZE AND TO MAKE DISCIPLES.
Guys please hear my heart on this. This church has been home to my wife and myself from the beginning!
This is the only church that I have ever been a part of since I first moved to Crossville, TN!
Desirae and I were married by the original Pastors of this church 18 years ago and we have raised our daughters in this church!
This church is our family and all that we have known as a church family since the start of our lives together!
And yet, this church is NOT defined by the building that it meets in! The structure around us, that we are sitting in right now, is NOT Cumberland Worship Center!
(EVERYONE RAISE YOUR HANDS) You and I are CUMBERLAND WORSHIP CENTER and wherever we meet, that is where our part of the body is.
The church (the ekklesia) of Jesus Christ is not, nor has it ever been confined to, or limited to, or defined by a geographical building! IT IS THE PEOPLE within it!
I say this to you to encourage you to look forward with us and the future vision for this church and not try to hold on to the past.
Just as Pastor Desirae taught on last Sunday, there is NO FUTURE IN THE PAST!
We cannot move forward in the kingdom of God if we are holding onto where God was and what He did at some prior time in the past!
The past might be good for nostalgia and memories, but the Great Commission calls and commands us to look and move forward, never going backwards!
This is what I am hoping and praying that you take from this and begin and to embrace in your hearts and agree with us in prayer on; that we move as a body and as a family into this new season of growth!
That we do so with all enthusiasm and encouragement and joy so that when people in the community begin to ask questions, and they will, you and I will be able to look at them with zeal and excitement exuding all over our faces and say, “Man this is so great! We are moving from the old and into the new! We are making the necessary arrangements and steps, to allow us to begin to effectively make disciples of people reach out to those around us in Cumberland County, as never before! Hallelujah and amen!”
When people see you and I begin to answer them with kind of excitement, it will spread like wild fire!!!!
So, before we switch back over to the live feed, is everyone clear on what we are doing and why we are doing it?
I want, we want you guys excited about the prospect of a new and opportune future for our church family?!
Who knows how far this will go?!!!
Are you with us?!!!

If you are tuning back in with us again, please allow me to apologize for the break, but we needed to take a few minutes and discuss with those in the house today, what will be made known to everyone soon enough and in the right way, amen?!

Would you all, both in the house as well as on the Facebook live feed, please bow your hearts and heads with me as we agree that God’s perfect and Holy will be done in and through our part of the church body here at Cumberland Worship Center. Let’s just be real guys, if a church is not operating within God’s will and what He wants for that particular part of the body versus what they want, then they will become ineffective in the kingdom. This is His church and it is ran by and under His authority and His will! (LET’S PRAY!)

I started off talking with you about people who begin something and then either never finish, or they finish weak and poorly. Although we look at this and rationalize and marginalize why it happens in the natural state and in our lives, there is no acceptance of this in the kingdom and in our relationship with the Lord! Our service to Him is to be complete and total!

Listen to what Jesus says to the church in , “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.”
Jesus has issued a warning to His church from the closing of the Word and it still stands, with even more emphasis now, than ever!
The church must WAKE UP and strive with all diligence to finish the calling that He has assigned us to do!
I read of one exhaustive study in the Bible on leaders as found in the Word. There was sufficient information available on only 49 prominent leaders out of about 1,000 which were analyzed on how they finished their course.
Surprisingly, only 30% of leaders in the Bible finished well.
Basically then, about 70% of the leaders fell short of God’s plan for their lives.
Great men who started off well, but then, because they turned their focus away from God and onto sin and their own way, their race slowed down, to a paltry walk, versus a run. Great men like, David, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah.
Then were those who had trailed off even further from their race and assignment and barely limped across the finish line; men like, Gideon, Eli and Solomon.
Still, there were those who clung to the instruction and will of God for their lives and ran the race with excellence; men like, Abraham, Joshua, Daniel, Paul and Peter, clung to the will of God for their lives and finished the race with excellence!

I would like to share something with you this morning. In all of the things that go on and preoccupy my mind and thoughts and attention, I honestly never once looked at, or ever even thought about the day that we said that we were going to announce this change! It just came out of my mouth, “We need to move and get this to the body ASAP, so if things go well with my presenting it to all of the leadership board and they embrace the vision then I am going to announce before the church body, that very next Sunday” and I said this with no clue as to what Sunday I was announcing it on! What I am trying to say to you, is that I promise you I never once, ever considered that today, of all days, this announcement would be going forth before you; it just happened this way!

Some of you are like, ‘What is so special about announcing the plans on today”, right?
Well, let me share a brief historical fact with you. 2,000 years ago, on this same day, a little event took place in Jerusalem in a upper room, that we like to refer to as PENTECOST!
Today, the day that we randomly picked to announce the new vision and the new “birth”, if you will, of our church body for Cumberland Worship Center, is the exact same day that the church of Jesus Christ was born 2,000 years ago and it is the exact same day that God poured His Spirit out upon the church to EMPOWER it to run the race with excellence and not back down or turn away!
I received a message earlier this morning from Pastor Clyde, encouraging me on this Pentecost Sunday and that was honestly the first time that I realized what today is and what we were doing on this day?
This is no coincidence, I have not missed a Pentecost Sunday, but it was if my eyes were blinded to this one until on the very day and time in which it was here!
Acts 2:1–4 AMP
AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

Guys on the very day that I was going to deliver to you a sermon about FINISHING WHAT WE STARTED, RUNNING THE RACE WITH EXCELLENCE, on this very day, the very source of what we need in order to be able to RUN THE RACE WITH EXCELLENCE and FINISH WHAT WE HAVE STARTED, was given!

Holy Spirit was poured out upon the new church then, to empower them and I believe that He is going to be poured out anew on us again!
In this new season, this new chapter of our church body, we need as never before, the fire and power of Holy Spirit flowing through us!
The very thing that spawned and birthed this change for our church body to begin with, was the unction and desire within me to begin to evangelize and make disciples of people, which is the very thing that Jesus, Himself commissioned us to do before He ascended and He and His Father’s plan to equip us for this task, was the outpouring of His Holy Spirit!
It doesn’t matter how you have started the race, it only matters how you finish it!
We need, now, more than ever, to be like Paul was in , where he said,
Philippians 3:12–16 NLT
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
We must look forward and not back! We must press on to that perfection that Jesus prepared for us and reach the end of the race to receive the heavenly prize of to which we have been called; JESUS IS THE PRIZE and He is awaiting us to stand before Him at which time He is going to give us an appraisal of how we ran the race!
How do you want to go out when the time comes? Having barely finished the race by skin of your teeth, or finishing it in excellence?!

Listen to how Paul closes his last letter before he is martyred. These are his last recorded words and the very thoughts that are going through his mind, as he writes to his young spiritual son, Timothy, in the epistle of ,

2 Timothy 4:5–8 NLT
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
Cumberland Worship Center, this is it; this is the new season and the final stretch of our journey as a part of the body of Jesus Christ!
How do you want to FINISH THE RACE, weak or strong and with excellence?
What say you to this question?
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
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