Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reliance Insurance Company Check


I was standing and worshiping this past Sunday when Karen slipped what appeared to be a letter into my hand. She rarely interrupts our time of worship so I knew it was important.

As I read down the page I soon realized there was a check attached. The check was made out to the church for $402,000. The long awaited check from Reliance had arrived.

Ministry is not about money, but it takes money to maintain a ministry. This check has multiple implications for NorthPoint at this key point in her journey! It was also a tremendous gift after ten years of struggle. Sadly, it is not the full $1,300,000 we are owed. But 30%, with the possibility of another disbursement down the line, is a blessing indeed.

Isn't it interesting that we leased and left our facility, and cut our expenses to the bone, balanced the budget, and then the check arrived? I think it is.

We will be able to repay church members who have covered mortgage payments, pay of the condo, repay a loan incurred to make the final payment to teachers at the school, and bring staff salaries current. Members who generously supported our ministry in faith will be "made whole." Sadly, approx 3/4 of the money will go to repay debt. Joyfully, we will be debt free save for the mortgage on the Sierra Way property, and we will have money in the bank.

This money in the bank will allow us to think pro-actively, rather than re-actively, about where God is leading us! For almost three years our Board has been putting out fires and reacting to problems over which we often had limited control. Our new Board will actually be able to take a breath of fresh air, without panic, and ask God what He wants us to do!

There is a special gift that we have generously received each month that has been helping cover salaries. The Board directed that for the next three months, this money will be used to cover the outstanding payments on my D. Min. at Golden Gate Seminary. The money was directed for that use, but with the donors permission has been helping cover salary. Bringing the payment current will be a significant factor in allowing Paul to re-engage his degree that has been on hold this past year. Stepping out from under the constant financial stress of this past year will be another key component of re-engaging the D. Min. Re-engaging the D. Min. project is going to force me to focus on the next need of our church.

An Important Perspective:

This money can be a great springboard to move forward. It must not become an excuse for maintenance! I would invite the prayers of all our people as we move forward from the powerful event of our Shepherds Retreat, with this very timely financial blessing!

I believe this check is going to send a powerful message to some undecided people. Over the past year we have heard anxious people ponder the future of NorthPoint. People have asked, "Are we going to make it?" The combined message of the Shepherds Retreat and the Reliance Check is.... "OH, YEA!" NorthPoint is going to more than make it! Under God's mighty hand, we are going to be just fine!


Let me speak a sincere thank you to each and every one of you who have supported the NorthPoint ministry with your prayers, finances, and hard work! We have truly turned a corner. And now we are going to see what God has for us in the coming year. I believe it will be very amazing.

We love you,
Paul, Karen, Chris, and Shannon

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shepherds Retreat

Dear NorthPoint Family:

What an amazing time we had last weekend with almost all of our Children, Spouses, Interns, Shepherds, Board, and Staff! This was a special and wonderful time of playing, praying, dreaming, and waiting on God.

Our prayer going in was that God would speak to us. I personally wanted to hear from our leaders, and see what they sensed God saying to them! Several leaders shared that they wanted to hear what others were thinking. Many desired a deeper relationship with the brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday night I spoke about Vision. Saturday morning Chris and Michael spoke about Mentoring. Saturday evening I spoke about Outreach and Chris spoke about Multiplication. Sunday morning I preached about the call of Gideon.

Many important things were said and done over the course of the weekend. I would like to share some key moments, and their significance with you.

On Saturday evening Chris was teaching and God showed up. In the midst of his message he became very focused, anointed, and challenged us to stop thinking of NorthPoint as an 86 year old church. Stop thinking, planing, and evaluating based upon the past. Those of us listening had a strong sense that someone above and beyond Chris had spoken to us!

We are a church plant.
We are a new beginning.
We are not what we were...
we are a new thing!

Then, on Sunday morning in the middle of worship, the second God moment happened. Doug Jr. shared, "When you begin a church plant you commission your pastors." In the midst of the worship service the congregation took over and laid hands on Karen, Shannon, Chris, and I for a time of prayer and commissioning. The spirit of the moment was very strong, and clear. We are a new work, we are a church plant. This is truly a new beginning. Interestingly, several others in the congregation had a sense that this needed to be done before Doug spoke up! The spirit was speaking to the congregation.

There are several powerful components to what happened.
Things that were spoken to us in the past suddenly connected with the present.

First were the words of Pastor Deon Robert spoken in Waco, Texas back in June of 2009. He challenged us to go home and kill our church. He challenged us to go home and die. This was not morbid heresy... it was directly from God's word.

Galatians 2:20 (NASB)
20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer declared:
"When Jesus Christ calls a man He bids him come and die."

We can't build a church, but God can! We must be willing to die to our agenda, that Christ's life might flow through! God has taken us down paths that I never would have imagined or planned!

Then, the words of Harold Weitz came ringing back from Waco. This pastor/prophet from South Africa stopped our group in a hallway and said to us, "You are in a nine month pregnancy, and you will deliver!" I have pondered his words since that time but never sensed a fulfillment.

Sunday afternoon Doug Jr. made the observation that it was nine months from the time we left the Sierra Way property until our retreat at Forest Home. We checked the calendar and learned an amazing thing! Our first services at the Elks Lodge took place over the weekend of June 11, 12, and 13. Our Shepherds Retreat took place over the weekend of March 11, 12, and 13. This was exactly nine months to the day!!!

I have spent the past week reflecting upon many things. In October of 1995 I came to Calvary Baptist Church to win souls and make disciples. Over the last 15 years we experienced arson fires, bankrupt insurance companies, the demise of a very selfish toxic church culture, the implosion of a school that was on our property, a financial meltdown, and the transition to a Life Group based ministry model!

It is safe to say that God has killed a church, and this pastor. I no longer see myself as the leader who will "build the Kingdom." I now see myself as fortunate to be a part of a grand experiment. What now excites me is the willingness of our Interns, Shepherds, Coaches, Board, and Staff to submit to one another, and to God. The decades old spirit of "us against them" has been killed! It is dead! It is gone!

Ralph Neighbour has taught me that there is a profound difference between a man formed, and a God formed movement. In many ways Calvary Baptist Church was man made! NorthPoint Christian Fellowship is in the process of being God made! I can feel the difference!

Last Sunday truly was a birthday for NorthPoint! The church born in anger and rebellion 86 years ago is dead! The work that was born Sunday March 13th is alive. We are going to humbly seek God's face, His will, and His plan for His church! I am happy to be dead, and agenda free!

I am ready to join with the NorthPoint family and see what God has for us! My prayers, love and blessings are with each of you whom God has called to take this journey! Only He knows what He has called us to be!

See you Sunday,
Pastor Paul