New Hope Notes
Pastor Jon Burgess
It’s good to be back from The Philippines! Several pastors from Oahu, including Pastors Aaron Cordeiro, Pat McCall (Hawaii Kai), and I, recently returned from Manila where we met some of the most amazing leaders of the church who are at the forefront of breaking the poverty cycle there! These amazing leaders, however, would fall into the category of underdogs—the long shot, the black sheep, the one passed over or overlooked—the ones that God specifically chooses to turn the world upside down!
From the beginning, the New Hope movement in Hawaii was also built by underdogs. It seems that God usually puts His team together with those that are overlooked by others because He sees something in each one of us that others may have missed!
Luke 3:1-3 NIV says, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high?priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the [palace, courtroom, place of philosophers and highly learned? No.] wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
How interesting that when the Word of the Lord finally came to somebody after 400 years of silence (when God didn’t talk to anyone), He bypasses all the high and mighty and goes for a crazy guy that eats bugs and honey, wears camel’s hair and lives in the wilderness—God chooses John the Baptist, an underdog.
The New Hope movement also started with underdogs. One day the headquarters of the Four Square International Church (our denomination) called Pastor Wayne from his pastorate in Eugene Faith Center (Oregon) to go and close the books on a little church in Hilo, Hawaii (the Big Island), because the pastor is gone, with only 23 people in attendance, and the church is $17,000 in debt!
One day while Pastor Wayne was sitting on a bench in Liliuokalani Park (Hawaii), eating his lunch, God spoke to him very clearly, “You are not to close down the church. You and your family are moving here, and you’re going to pastor the church.” So instead of shutting down the church as headquarters told him to, Pastor Wayne decides to obey God!
In the last 22 years, the New Hope movement has planted 132 churches around the world; it started with Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, himself an underdog because of his island roots. From the beginning, God has been saying to New Hope, “Find those that everybody else is passing over and let them know how I feel about them.”
1. Underdogs See Others Through The Kingdom Equation.
I + E = T (Inviting + Equipping = Transformation)
You are the ones that God will use to turn your generation towards Him because you're no longer overlooked. You are the world changers that will turn the world upside down! God equips and shows you how to do what He has designed you to do from the beginning. This is God’s MO. After Jesus was baptized, He says in…
Luke 4:18-22 NIV, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. [If only it stopped there, but it doesn't because the next sentence says,] ‘Isn't this Joseph's son?’ they asked.”
The people all spoke well of Jesus. They were amazed at His teaching but they never saw Him
for who He was. They missed that He was God's Son because all they could see was Joseph's son—the son
of a carpenter. There are people in your past and present that have missed your potential,
but not Jesus!
I Corinthians 1:27, 28, 29, NIV says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
The church is not filled with perfect people. In fact, from the very beginning of New Hope, we came as the broken, the oppressed, the blind, and the wounded, and God meets us in this place and heals, invites, equips, and sends us out transformed!
The world can't find transformation anywhere else but from the Spirit of God and the people of God.
2. Underdogs Value Character Over Giftedness.
God always looks at character before He looks at gifts. Peter was a professional fisherman but caught nothing after fishing all night. Then Jesus shows up and tells Peter to cast the nets on the other side of the boat and they catch a massive haul! Peter was just shown to be a fool in the place where he is most gifted and experienced. How do you respond when God reveals a place of pride in your life? Look at Peter’s response:
Luke 5:8-11 NIV says, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ [Now he knew that he was in the presence of someone holy. He knew that this man that he didn't know yet knew more about fishing than he had learned in his entire life, that this man had an authority that he had not learned yet. And he didn't even want to be near Him because he felt so convicted in his sin.] For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.”
Peter saw his own limitations and pride and, in that, Jesus saw his limitless potential—character over giftedness. If we're not careful, our gifts become our gods.
Let me share a great story about character. I met Pastor Angel in the Philippines living in absolute destitution and poverty but reaching people for Christ. Pastor Angel preaches the gospel from a cave-like structure with concrete floors, no doors, windows, or chairs for the people to sit in, just a simple table and chair he uses to study and prepare his sermons. This struck a chord with me. I was feeling that New Hope has been blessed with so many gifts when it coms to its church facilities compared to Pastor Angel’s facilities (or lack thereof) in the Philippines.
God reminded me that if Pastor Angel can reach his world from a place of destitution and poverty, what is stopping us from reaching those around us? We have no excuse. Are we playing it safe, liking our comfort, and are not willing to take risks?
Character starts on our knees. We should lay down our pride, gifts, accomplishments and reputations and just say, "Okay, Lord, I'll be obedient. I'll do what you've asked me to do."
3. Underdogs Risk It All For Relationships.
Underdogs understand we didn’t deserve this relationship with Jesus in the first place—a relationship that has changed and transformed us. Therefore, we are driven by passion to make sure that no one ever misses out on a chance to know the same Jesus that changed us!
Luke 5:27-32 NIV, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. [Everyone hated tax collectors because many took advantage of the people, slipping a little extra money into their own pockets. And yet Jesus builds his world?changing team with the one that everybody hates. Jesus sees what everybody else misses.] ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”
Jesus saw in this underdog Levi someone who was willing to risk everything to reach the relationships in his life. What if we did the same? Underdogs, it's time for us to rise up to God and reach as many people as possible for Him. Can you see people through the Kingdom Equation—Invitation and Equipping lead to Transformation? Can you see that God is looking at your character regardless of your gifts, and He is inviting you to His team? Are you willing to risk all for the relationships in your life because that's what Jesus did for you?