Who knew there were so many fans of the show—if you’re new, Fixer Upper is a home renovation show on HGTV starring Chip & Joanna Gaines. A husband-&-wife team from Texas—he’s the Contractor muscle & she’s the Creative Genius. Together, they take dumpy, old homes that are Fixer Uppers—and demo… rehab… reno… transform them into elegant homes with beautiful design! I had someone text me this week and ask if Chip and Joanna were preaching this weekend. Sorry to disappoint you… They were a little busy today.
Chip & Joanna are committed Christians who have helped ignite this D-I-Y Revolution. You know what D-I-Y stands for? Do It Yourself! And if you’re like me—you prolly watch shows like Fixer Upper that make it look easy. You think, “Man, that’s not so hard! I could do that myself!”
This is whole tribe of people I like to call “Weekend Warriors” or some D-I-Y superheroes! This is a group of people who have decided that they too can be professionals. They tackle some of life’s challenging situations and in a weekend save the dilemma of home maintenance. You know, the leaky shower head, or the toilet that is always running. There is no project that this masked crusader can’t handle. And then again, maybe not.
Picture 1: Lady staining the floor
Picture 2: Drawers that don’t open
Picture 3: Toilet paper fail
Fixer Upper is not about home improvement, but life improvement. In many ways, life itself is a Fixer Upper—we all have stuff in our life that’s broken & could use some TLC.
Last week, I asked the question: What’s broken in your world that needs fixing? I talked with one couple last week after service that said, “WHAT DOESN’T NEED FIXING?” I thought, that’s pretty honest! I’m going to let you in on a little secret… Okay? Hope City is filled with imperfect people. People who make mistakes, people who are trying hard to hold it together. No one here has it all together. So, if you’re new here today, and you feel like, you don’t have the perfect cookie cutter life, you’ll be just fine! This is a place for you. Let me just say it, Welcome home!
The trouble is sometimes when we try to fix it on our own it ends up looking like this: IMAGE. But here’s the other thing about Hope City that I love. While we may not be perfect, and we may have hurts, habits, and hangups that we don’t want anyone else to know about, we believe that God can help us overcome them! We have Hope because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. We believe that God’s Love is the most powerful force on planet earth and that He can renovate any broken heart, or derailed life. Whether that’s a financial situation, or a broken marriage, or the foster care crisis… God can redeem anything! Amen?
So, What’s broken in your world that needs fixing?
At Hope City we want to keep it real and talk about how faith factors into real life. We want the things we talk about on Sunday to impact the way we live on Monday and every other day. Last week we said for 52 days we’re going to be praying, and asking God to help us rebuild our world step by step.
In this series we are studying the OT book of Nehemiah, a true superhero, to discover God’s blueprint for rebuilding your world in 52 Days! If you’re just joining us, let me catch you up from last week: Nehemiah is just an ordinary, everyday guy who’s going about his business one day… when he hears some disturbing news:
The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. Nehemiah 1:3
Jerusalem—the city of God’s people, the Temple—is broken… a pile of rubble! King Neb & Babylonians sacked Jerusalem… tore city apart… Jerusalem isn’t a Fixer Upper… it’s a Down & Outer! A trainwreck! This was devastating news for the people of God! Why’s that a big deal?
Because a city without walls is defenseless they’re vulnerable to attack! It was tragic- The wall had been broken for 140 years at this point!
And when Nehemiah hears this—it hits him emotionally! Verse 4 says:
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. Nehemiah 1:4
Jerusalem is broken—and it breaks his heart. Last week, Nehemiah’s response taught us a foundational step in rebuilding a broken world.
Q: Who does God use to change the world?
God uses leaders who will SIT DOWN AND CRY. Leaders who are willing to face reality– open their heart & let the pain in! What’s broken in our world that breaks your heart? (ie: Human Trafficking; The Foster Care Crisis; Racial Injustice) The truth is: Your biggest BURDEN is often the doorway to your biggest BLESSING! If you wanna change the world, I dare you to pray a Dangerous Prayer: “God, break my heart with what breaks yours!”
After Nehemiah sat down to CRY… he took the next step. He KNELT down to PRAY.
For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Before he tried to fix anything… Nehemiah took time to bring his burden before the Lord! And say, “God, you’ve gotta do something about this! If you don’t intervene with your mighty strength, I’ve got no chance!” And he prayed a very heartfelt prayer of confession inviting God into the mess. Remember: The strongest leaders are praying leaders!
Let me tell you that the one of the greatest things you can do is to not only face reality, but feel reality. Feel the weight of what’s going on in your world.
Guys, life is not a DIY project—you weren’t created to do it yourself! As a man or woman saved by Christ, you have FULL ACCESS to the power of the Holy Spirit—and your Heavenly Father longs to pour out His Power in your life and HELP… if you’ll seek His presence & ask Him to help you!
I’ve been praying and asking God to break my heart for what breaks His. And I keep thinking of all the kids and students that we have the privilege of being involved in their lives. I have a burning desire a burden to be (Image)#FORtheNextGeneration. To see a whole generation of kids that grow up knowing God, loving their peers, and changing the world in Jesus name. Can you imagine what would happen if we equipped this next generation to follow Christ? What would change in our city? Our state, and even our nation? I can’t do this alone though. I’m going to ask you to join me in praying for this next generation.
We can’t do it alone. We’ve got to bring our Burden before Him: this is why we are going to be PRAYING for the next 52 days for God to do some incredible things, some supernatural things! That’s how long it took Nehemiah to rebuild the Wall of Jerusalem… with the power of God behind him!
Let’s open up our Bibles to Nehemiah, chapter 2, that’s page 330 in the bible’s around you, and let’s see what action he takes. In chapter 1, after Nehemiah sits down to cry… kneels down to pray… in chapter 2, he STANDS UP TO ACT. Leaders who change the world act boldy. Nehemiah gets super practical here in chapter 2. Let’s look together.
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” Nehemiah 2:1-2
Last week, I intentionally left out one little detail that may change your perspective. I never told you—who Nehemiah was? He was not a King… Prophet… Priest… What did Nehemiah do? Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king. Do you know what a cupbearer did? They tasted the kings wine to see if it was poisoned. His job was to die in the place of the king. He was expendable…. He had no power, no prestige, no position, He was a glorified butler! But he’s smart. He’s in the presence of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. And when he brings the king’s wine, Nehemiah lets his feelings show. He wears his heart on his sleeve. And Artaxerxes is like, “What’s wrong? Why the sad face?”
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, (Notice Nehemiah is always praying. This is not a formal prayer—this is like a flare prayer… He shoots it up!)
5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Nehemiah isn’t powerful—but he knows someone who is. So he makes a Very Big, Very Bold Request of Artaxerxes! He says, “King, my hometown is in ruins. The walls are broken down. And my heart is breaking! And if you have a heart… Will you let me go rebuild it?”
Q: When God gives you a Fixer Upper—and inspires you to take action what does an ordinary Change-the-World Leader do? Her first action step is to: 1. Define the Vision Clearly. Vision is just a clever way of saying seeing beyond the immediate problem. Vision sees beyond what is and sees what can be. It sees the future opportunities over the current realities. Vision sees what could be when God gets involved. Nehemiah says, currently Jerusalem’s walls are broken down, and it is a pile of rocks and ashes…. BUT after I get through with it, the walls will be strong and tall, and beautiful. A symbol of strength. God’s people are protected… their families are safe… and God gets the glory! King, let me go to Jersualem and REBUILD the WALL! That’s Nehemiah’s Vision. It is clear… it is concise… it is compelling!
Understand: There were 1,000 things he could’ve done in Jerusalem. He could of said: I wanna help improve the economy… I wanna get rid of corrupt politics… But he was laser-focused: I’m going to REBUILD the WALLS!
Last week, I asked you: “What’s broken in your world that needs fixing?” This week, let me ask: “What are you gonna do about it?” Better yet: What is God calling you to do?
I want you to define the Vision very clearly. Don’t be broad or general… Focus it down to something very, very specific. A powerful VISION is clear, concise, and actionable.
Last summer I said, We are going to be #FORtheNextGeneration. We need to create a space for our students to explore their faith and make it their own. I saw that we had a dozen or so middle school students already. And I knew that was just the tip of the iceberg. I said, we need to hire a full-time youth pastor. So we got serious about it. We didn’t have all of the resources to do this, we didn’t know how everything was going to work out, but we were burdened with a vision. So, we got practical about it. We interviewed dozens of potential candidates, narrowed it down to just a few, and after prayer and fasting, God brought us to Justin and Amanda. And this fall we are creating space for Middle School and High School students to connect with God and one another.
In fact, check out this video of what’s happening here at Hope City Youth.
YOUTH VIDEO UPDATE
I’m so excited for this fall! We are leveraging everything we have for the next generation. We want them to know Jesus and walk with Jesus. We are taking a step of faith with this, we are going above and beyond. Tiffany and I have prayed and increased our giving to see students’ lives changed by Christ. I want to ask you, would you be willing to join Tiffany and I in increasing your generosity here at Hope City? As Pastor Justin said, the best is yet to come.
See: If you can’t define it… you can’t do it! And leaders who change the world: define the vision clearly.
So let’s say your burden is rebuilding your life after the divorce. A Weak Vision statement is: I wanna move on with my life! What’s that mean? It’s not clear, not specific… What specifically is God calling you to do? Here’s a Stronger Vision: I’m going to take a Grief Recovery class & go to counseling for 6 months before I start dating again. That’s clear. That’s measurable. That’s focused.
You can’t do what you can’t define. Nehemiah shows us, a leader who changes their world… Defines their Vision clearly! That’s the first step of action. The second thing she does is she… 2. Make Plans Carefully.
You’ve probably heard the old saying: If you FAIL to plan… you PLAN to fail!
Nehemiah says: Here’s WHAT I’m going to do (the Vision)… Here’s HOW I’m going to do it (the Plan)! In verse 6, he tells the King: The Dates he’ll be gone… the Time it’ll take… the Resources he needs. Look with me.
6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah?
8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” – Nehemiah 2:6-8
Nehemiah makes 3 Big Requests of the King:
Building slides: 1) Can I have time off? To go build the wall! (Notice: He did his homework—he set a time!)
2) Can I have Letters to the Governors? = so he’d have Safe Passage. Nehemiah had no power, so he asks the King to leverage his to protect him!
And then, this is the kicker: Nehemiah was such a strategic planner, he requests…
3) Can I have Resources for the work? = Will you give me TIMBER (wood) to rebuild!
You’ve got to give him this: Nehemiah may have been a little cupbearer… but he was a Man with a Plan! His planning met opportunity… He knew exactly how much wood he’d need to rebuild the wall. And he was able to make the ask.
See: People who change the world define their Vision clearly. Then they make plans carefully. Sometimes Christians will say things like, “I don’t need to plan. I just follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t want to run ahead of God. Planning doesn’t seem very spiritual.” I think that this is the craziest thing ever. I’m convinced that the more we plan, the greater impact God has. Make your plans.
I’m utterly convinced that the best way to care for people is to prepare for people. This is why we have brought Justin to Hope City in the middle of summer so that we can have a great Fall launch. We have been spending the last 5 weeks PLANNING AND PREPARING for what is going to happen in September. Too many of us try to boil the ocean with a blow torch. We feel burdened for a problem that is so big and fail to create a plan that is actionable. We need to ask one simple question: “What is my next step?” Last week you identified your burden. Today, let’s take a step.
Maybe for you, you’re burdened to increase the intimacy in your marriage. Well the first step isn’t to rush into the bedroom and expect everything to change. The first step could be to sit down with your spouse and have an honest conversation about it. To put a plan in place of spending more time together that allows for increased emotional intimacy that leads to physical intimacy.
Maybe you’re burdened to get mentally healthy. You’re tired of living under a cloud of depression and you want to see that change. Well put a plan in place, take a step today by reaching out and finding a Christian Counselor. We have a counselor resource list in our lobby at the next steps booth. We want to help you take that next step today.
Make a plan. And then work the plan one step at a time.
But there is one more thing that Nehemiah did that we all need to do. It’s worth mentioning this morning. And that is 3. Find your Cheerleader. Nehemiah was before the king and he laid out his Vision, and His Plan, and the king said, I’ve got your back! Go do this. Nehemiah made three requests of the king, and look at what verse 8 says,
“Because of the gracious hand of my God was one me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.” Nehemiah 2:8-9
Nehemiah had found his cheerleader. Don’t miss this! A Pagan King gave Financial, Political, and Military support to rebuild the Wall of Jerusalem! That’s called… FAVOR! You’ll be surprised sometimes where your cheerleaders will come from!
Everyone needs a cheerleader. Everyone needs a person in their corner. Find Your Cheerleader. Any good builder is going to set out with a team of architechts, and site planners, and carpenters, and many other people who say, you can do it! You develop a plan, and find those who cheer you on.
The other day, I woke up to a fellow church planter who announced the launch of his “leadership podcast”. He was developing a platform to share what he’s learned about leadership and church planting. It was like a shot to my gut. I instantly felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I was like, why haven’t I launched a leadership podcast? Why aren’t I doing more?
In this moment of doubt and discouragement I went back to my cheerleaders, to my leadership team and I shared the screenshot and told them exactly what I was feeling. And do you know what I heard back?
Dude, don’t think about that for one more minute. You are working hard on launching a youth ministry. You’re doubling down on the efforts to be #FORtheNextGeneration. You’re focused on seeing a generation of students take their faith seriously, and leading a growing staff team to do that. Stay Focused.
This was so clarifying. It brought me back to the vision and burden that God has given me and our church. It fought back the temptation to wander away from the hard work and to do what was MOST IMPORTANT FOR ME!
A good cheerleader doesn’t do the work for you. A good cheerleader CHEERS YOU ON when you’re tempted to quit. A good cheerleader keeps you on track, and your eyes focused on what’s important. Everyone needs a cheerleader and a coach. Who do you have in your corner?
You may be tempted to say that’s great for you Peter. I’m glad that you can do what you’re doing. But what about me? I’m not that special, not that important, or any number of other things that you’re tempted to believe. Let me remind you who Nehemiah was. He was a cupbearer. His job was to take the fall for the king. LISTEN TO ME… In order to make a difference, in order to see your world change you don’t have to be the best, you just have to care the most.
What has God burdened your heart with? Today, what Step is God asking you to take? These are courageous moments. These are moments where you feel like you’re putting yourself out there. You’re letting someone in on your dream, or in Nehemiah’s case you’re letting someone in on what is burdening your heart.
You don’t have to be the best at it… You have to care the most. You don’t have to be the best spouse, you just have to care the most about your relationship. You don’t have to be the best parent, you just have to care the most about your kids. No one is perfect, but anything is possible with God!
You can be an ordinary, little cup-bearer who just happens to care more than anybody else & says: ‘Somebody’s gotta do something about this, it might as well be me.” Stop waiting for someone else to do something about it and get going on it yourself.
So let me ask you again… What step can you take this week?
With God’s help, what can you do today to rebuild your world?