************ Ground Breaking Speech on Ephesians 3:20-21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This ground breaking speech was delivered on April 26, 2005
CVC Chapel Ground Breaking Ceremony
As I was thinking about this speech, I looked through my Bible for building projects. None of them seemed appropriate.
First, there was Noah and his ark. Now, Noah's wife must have been the world's most patient woman because it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. If this chapel building took as long, it is my great, great, great grandchildren who will be attending the dedication ceremony.
Next, there was the Tower of Babel. But this project was never completed and the people working on it couldn't understand each other and got mad at each other and couldn't work together anymore. Not the kind of image we would want for this project.
There were the Egyptian store cities – but they were built by the slave labor of God's people. And, they were ordered to increase production while supplies were cut. Imagine members of the board standing here with whips in their hands while the rest of us did the work.
Solomon built the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Actually, there were three Temples in succession, those of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod. None lasted all that long. The inside of Solomon's Temple was paneled with cedar, floored with cypress, and inlaid with gold throughout. We want a beautiful building but I doubt if anyone here would want it inlaid with gold and paneled with cedar.
During the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jerusalem and its walls and gates were rebuilt. But everyone had to work with a tool in one hand and a spear or a sword in the other hand so they could fight off enemies. Can you see the image of us trying to work that way?
In the New Testament we are told about the Tower of Siloam – during construction it collapsed and killed 18 workers. We are told about the rich man who built more and bigger barns – and the day he was finished he died. Not pretty pictures, are they?!
Tomorrow is Administrative Professional's Day – what used to be known as Secretary's day. I asked my Administrative Assistant what kind of flowers she would like. "Flowers are nice," she said, "but they get thrown out after a week or so. I would like something more lasting." So I went and bought a nice gardenia and flower pot for her patio.
"I would like something more lasting." All those Bible projects I mentioned – the ark, the Tower of Babel, the Egyptian store cities, the Temples of Jerusalem, Jerusalem itself, the Tower of Siloam, the rich man's barns – were all of limited duration. In fact, every single human project has a limited life span.
"I would like something more lasting." So, what is more lasting? How do we avoid the problems of all the building projects mentioned in the Bible? By focusing on the glory of God.
We are gathered together this evening as a Christian covenant community. That means our starting point is God. And, not just our starting point but our ending point and every point in between as well. As a Christian covenant community we want to focus on God and not just ourselves. We want to bring glory to God and not glory to man.
We are at the beginning of a momentous building project. Monies have been raised. Plans have been drawn. Committees have met. Decisions have been made. But for this project to endure, for this project to be lasting, for this project to avoid the problems of those projects mentioned in the Bible, our focus needs to be on God.
Let me read again those two verses from the Bible that I read earlier – from Ephesians 3:20-21:
(Eph 3:20-21) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul talks about the power of God. Paul's main point here is that this power of God is beyond measure. It is a great and awesome power.
It is the power which made heaven and earth and everything in them. It is the power which made a virgin conceive and give birth to a son. It is the power which raised Jesus from the dead and brought Him into heaven. It is the power used by Jesus so that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor (Mt 11:5). It is the power that plants new life in fallen hearts of stone. And, at the end of time, it is the power by which God makes a new heaven and a new earth.
What a great and awesome power!
I want you to notice something important about God's great and awesome power. I want you to notice it is a power "that is at work within us." By "us" Paul means followers of Jesus Christ.
The power of God that created heaven and earth and raised Jesus from the dead is at work within us. This means that we are more than able to do God's work within the church and kingdom and here at CVC. This means we can do anything. This means no goal is too high. This means nothing is impossible or beyond reach. Remember the words of Paul: I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Phil 4:13).
Think of what this power "at work within us" can do. I want you to stretch your mind for a moment about this school. What is the greatest thing you think this school can accomplish? What is the wildest dream that you have about CVC?
Paul says God can do immeasurably more than we have asked Him to do and immeasurably more than we have even thought of asking Him to do.
(Eph 3:20) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us ...Do you know what Paul is saying? Paul is telling us to take our hopes and dreams and multiply them by ten, and then by one hundred, and then by one thousand.
We tend to think small. And, we make God small like us. But God is BIG and He wants us to think BIG.
CVC started in September, 1979. It was so small back then. Just a little baby. More than once along the way our faith has wavered. We have questioned whether we were on the right track. We have wondered whether the projects we started could be finished. Look around you at how it has grown over the years – in enrollment, in buildings, in staff. Do we praise ourselves? Do we pat ourselves on the back? Do we single out some tremendously generous donors? No. No. No. We bring praise to God, glory to God.
We think so small and our faith is so small. But God is big and "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." Some 26 years ago we thought we were starting a two or three room Christian School. But God was starting something with a 1000 students, 70 or 80 staff members, and a beautiful campus.
"To him be glory ..." When we focus on God and His glory, then we are building something that lasts, that has value, that endures.
"To him be glory ... him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
I want to end with a litany. Your part is very simple. I will say different things. Every time I motion to you I want you to say, "To God be the glory ..."
God is at work within us ...
God does immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine ...
God worked in us 26 years ago when this school was founded ...
God has blessed us with growth ...
Plans have been made ...
Committees have met and decisions have been made ...
Monies have been raised ...
Contracts have been signed ...
We are starting construction on a building ...
It will be used for chapels ...
It will be used for fine arts ...
It will be used for musical programs ...
It will be used to educate God's children ...
To God be the glory ...
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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