So on Sunday we launch a new series on the Book of Haggai. But before we get there, I am just wondering: what did you think of the service last Sunday? Did any of you decide to go watch the movie because of our service?

I am taking my staff through an exercise that is helping us think long and hard about what it is that makes our church UNIQUE. One of the questions we are asking ourselves is: what can we do that 10,000 other churches cannot do? Well, last Sunday was an example of that, but there is so much more, I believe, by way of hidden talents, untapped potential, and doors that could literally burst open for significant ministry in our community. Please keep praying for clarity for us and bring your contribution to the table of uniqueness.

By the way, if you missed the service, you may still catch it here.

Back to Haggai. He is the first of the post-exilic prophets. That means that he wrote after the people of Judah had returned from 70 years as exiles in the land of Babylon. He is also one of the 12 minor prophets (the first 9 preached before the people went into captivity and the last three, Haggai, Zechariah, who were contemporaries, and Malachi, who lived 100 years later, preached after the people returned to Jerusalem).

Though historically far removed from us, the word from these prophets, and especially Haggai, is especially relevant to the masses yearning to breathe free from what I call the “tyranny of stuff.” By the time Haggai started preaching the people had been back for about 18 years. They had laid the foundation of God’s house about 16 years earlier, then they stopped, claiming that “it was not time yet” to build the house of the Lord. Meanwhile, they were busy building their own little palaces. God tried to get their attention to no avail.

I once heard a story of a north American pastor who went to China on an underground trip to visit Christians who were involved with the “illegal” house church movement. This trip was the biggest eye-opener of his life and ministry. As he was getting ready to return, he asked one of the Chinese pastors who had spent many years in forced labor camps for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel, “How can the people in the U.S. pray for the persecuted church in China?” The answer hit him like a tsunami, “Isn’t it more like how we can pray for you?” The Chinese pastor asked. Then he added, “It seems that we have handled persecution better than you have handled prosperity.”

Now you may say that the Chinese pastor was being a bit arrogant. You may say that he was suggesting they didn’t need prayers. You may say that he was bunching everyone together in the same material-loving pot. As for me, I take that injunction humbly and try to learn what it means to me living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. And I make mine the words of the prophet — consider your ways!

This Sunday we will understand more clearly what are the potentially catastrophic consequences of choosing not to put God first in all our affairs. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in our midst as we study this little book together.

See you on Sunday!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade.