Our Vision

Posted on 05/27/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.



What a mighty God we serve
what a mighty God we serve
Angels bow before Him
heaven and earth adore Him
What a mighty God we serve!


He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
O, He is the King!

His name is Jesus, Jesus
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prison door
And He's able to deliver evermore!


Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You



*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

Well, I'd like to take just a moment to let you know how much we appreciate you. When we moved to OSGrid, we lost about 2/3 of the congregation. While I hope and pray that Linden Labs doesn't take TOO long connecting to the hypergrid so they can join us again, this transition has forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate some things, including our ministry vision and the direction in which we're going.

Of course there are those of you who are listening via our podcast -- last I checked the stats, there were over 100 of you who listen every week. Then there are those who go to the website to listen, or either on Sunday, right now, or throughout the week in Second Life. And we appreciate you, too.

But as I said, this time in which there are only a few "visibly" faithful people has created the perfect atmosphere for reflection. And today, I'd like to talk about our vision, and the direction I believe this ministry is going.

I tried to write a single sentence that would summarize our purpose here and what we are endeavoring to do, and it is this:

"To break through religion and man-made traditions and doctrines so the Body of Christ can develop deep, intimate, unobstructed and unbroken fellowship with God, and to do so in an environment that breaks through physical distances and is engaging, immersive, personal, and as free from distractions as possible."

*** read again ***

The first "ALM CyberChurch" services were held in old fashioned text-only chat rooms. I know it's hard to imagine, but we made it work. And while distractions are certainly possible here, and during times when I'm droning on too long or I'm talking about something that some people find boring, I expect some people to be Instant Messaging or doing something else; in fact, once when we had a service in voice, someone who didn't realize their microphone was turned on was watching TV.

But compared to other forms of Internet meetings, the virtual world beats them all hands down. It's more immersive. It's more personal. And it's relatively less susceptible to distractions because of those two things.

Our ministry slogan, if that's the right word for it, was written by a dear friend of ours, and it is this: "Pioneer Missions in Online Worlds."

I believe we had come up with something that included the title "Second Life," but he saw something we did not.

Here's the definitions of "Pioneer" from Dictionary.com:

1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.

2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.

3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads, dig intrenchments, etc., in advance of the main body.

When we first started having services in Second Life, there were no active churches or ministries. As far as I know, we were the first. At that time, there were actually less people in Second Life than there are right now in OSGrid.

But OSGrid is NOT the new frontier. Rather, the new frontier includes the hypergrid, and where it's going in the near future, which I believe is toward a much greater reach than Second Life. And we will be doing our part to push that forward.

Consider AOL. In their early years, they were growing very rapidly, similar to the growth rate a few years ago of Second Life. And just like Second Life, they offered a closed system. You could access content only from their own content providers.

Don't worry, this isn't a just an Internet history lesson, we ARE getting to the spiritual side of things.

Of course today, anyone can create a website and instantly open their doors to anyone anywhere. Not too many years ago, that wasn't the case.

And do you remember how exciting it was when 56k modems came out? Wow, talk about blazing fast! (Okay, so I'm dating myself now.)

But the point in all this is that there are still frontiers in the Internet, and pioneers will always take risks in an effort to push growth forward.

We're looking for ways to team up with the community to "encourage" Linden Labs to not leave the hypergrid on its back burner. The virtual world is the 3-D web of tomorrow. And I fully believe that it won't be too much longer before all of you listening in Second Life who, for whatever reason, have no interest in creating another account so you can join us here, will be able to just login to Second Life and teleport here just like you used to teleport to Truth Island.

That being said, I hope you won't wait for that to happen, because it could take a lot longer than I'm hoping it will. Just take a few seconds to register for an account on osgrid.org, and come join us. We miss you!

Or, join any grid you like that is connected to the hypergrid. We're working on a list of those grids. And we're also working on creating a presence in as many grids as possible to reach people who, for whatever reason, won't ever join Second Life or be there long enough to find us.

We're also reaching out to churches and ministries, and those who catch the vision of this type of outreach, we'll be setting up here. The more that's going on, the more people will be attracted. And won't it be a interesting to attract lots and lots of workers into the harvest in this small beginning of what could be one of the "next big things"?

So today we're talking about vision. And you know, it's so easy to become complacent. To forget where you're going. To forget why you're going there. And sometimes things need to get shaken up a bit. Actually, they HAVE to get shaken up so they can change.

In Habakkuk 2:2-3, God gave some very important instructions which still hold true today.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NASB)

2 Then the Lord answered me and said,
"Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
3 For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Now, we could sound really spiritual by saying that our vision is to do whatever God says when the time comes to do it. But that's an attitude, not a vision.

I'll repeat the sentence I read a few minutes ago, which is the summary of our vision, which is:

"To break through religion and man-made traditions and doctrines so the Body of Christ can develop deep, intimate, unobstructed and unbroken fellowship with God, and to do so in an environment that breaks through physical distances and is engaging, immersive, personal, and as free from distractions as possible."

And connected with that is our mission to help other biblically-sound and Christ-focused churches and ministries to do the same.

I'd like for us to take just a few minutes breaking this down.

1. To break through religion and man-made traditions and doctrines.

Why is this important? Well, let's start with religion. Of course James 1:27 (KMV) says this: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

But we're not talking about TRUE religion; instead, we're talking about the religious spirit. The religious leaders in Jesus' time on earth were prime examples of the religious spirit. Today, people depend on religion, on traditions, and on man-made doctrines and practices to make them feel holy or justified or spiritually secure. But the religious spirit doesn't draw people closer to God; instead, it pulls people farther away.

And it encompases man-made traditions and doctrines. God has already told us in His word what we need to do to be right in His eyes, how we need to live, act, and interact in this world, and how to walk in intimate fellowship with Him. But that's a little too raw and personal for the religious spirit; so it adds stuff God didn't say, or changes what He DID say, or takes it out of context.

It also is best friends with pride, and it speaks through Christians all the time with statements such as, "Our denomination is the only one that gets it right." Is it really? Well aren't you clever and super-spiritual to have joined the right denomination, while everyone else is just not on your level.

Religion, or the religious spirit, just plain stinks. But it's everywhere. And that's why our vision statement begins with the words, "To BREAK THROUGH religion and man-made traditions and doctrines." If you're doing anything at all in ministry, you're going to come up against the religious spirit. And you can either let it stop you, let it consume you, or break through it and move on to where the Lord has told you to go.

2. ...so the Body of Christ can develop deep, intimate, unobstructed and unbroken fellowship with God...

That's the reason we want to break through the religious spirit and the man-made traditions and the doctrines of men; it's not because we want to be rebels; instead, it's because those things slow down or stop our spiritual growth; they are bounderies to our having deep, intimate, unobstructed and unbroken fellowship with God.

After all, that's ultimately all the matters. I mean, just think about it for a moment:

Do our relationships with others matter? Yes, they do; but the better our relationship is with God, the better our relationships will be with other, and vice versa.

Is it important for us to work hard and provide for our needs and for the needs of those God has put in our care? Most certainly; and if we're not doing what we should in that area, then we are not obeying God's word; and if we're not obeying God's word, then our relationship with Him is not where it should be; but as we get closer to Him, we will find ourselves obeying what He says, and we'll also find ourselves hungry to study His word so we can know and obey Him better.

And this last example carries over into everything else -- so much so that we can confidently say that as we get closer to God, more and more things in our lives come into line with His perfect will for us, while as we get farther away from Him, the things in our lives veer off that path.

And the third part of our vision summary is this:

3. ...to do so in an environment that breaks through physical distances and is engaging, immersive, personal, and as free from distractions as possible.

Of course this part is in the context of the Internet. Naturally, going to a physical location would be the best as far as being engaging, immersive, personal, and more free from distractions than the Internet potentially can be; however, the first part of the description of this environment is that it "breaks through physical distances."

Not too many years ago, people from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, and the U.S. wouldn't have been able to instantly go to a place where they could meet together and study the Scriptures or spend time in worship or have a time of fellowship.

But today, the Internet makes that possible. And in my own personal opinion, the virtual world is an incredible way to break through that physical distance in a way that is engaging, immersive, personal, and as free from distractions as possible.

Well, I hope this gives a clearer picture of what we're doing, how we're doing it, and why. And if that vision touches something inside of you, if it connects with your spirit, then pray about what part you play in connecting with our vision, running with it, and making it a part of your own.

In closing, I'd like to encourage you to consider what the vision for your own life should be. Do you know where you're going? Do you know how you're going there? And do you know why?

If not, then you're going to just flounder around where you are now, and you really can't hope to ever do much of any consequence or move past the same old stuff in which you've been stuck for years.

So start praying about it. Ask God to bring something alive in you -- to reveal to you a vision, something you can write down and make plain, something to which you can return time and time again, so that when you start growing stagnant, you can re-focus on your vision -- GOD'S vision -- for your life.

Let's go ahead and close today's service with a time of worship, prayer, and ministry.

You're all invited to get out of your seats right now and make your way to the front.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message one of us. If you're in Second Life or listening elsewhere and you want to join us here, just take a few minutes to do so.

Come, and let's seek after God and His vision for our lives together.

Lord God, we thank you for your word, and for speaking to us in so many ways and through so many things. I ask that you would stir up something in each person under the sound of my voice; that you would make your vision for their lives clear, and that you would remind them to write it down and to make it plain.

We thank you that you will continue to lead and guide us, and that in the end, we will win the prize -- to be in your presence, face-to-face with You, forever.

Thank you Lord.