First up to the plate at this year’s Gathering is Albert Tate, senior Pastor at Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, CA. I caught a few of his youtube videos before heading to the Gathering and am anxious to hear more! Read on for more details from today’s talk.
Albert greeted the crowd with a hearty “What’s up?” and shared that he was “peacock proud” to be at the Gathering. Within the first few minutes, I know that Albert’s chat was going to be exciting and refreshing, especially when he referred to his wife as the “sugar in his kool-aid”. Now, that’s true love.
For tonight’s passage, we took a look at Exodus 32 , which is ironic since that’s our lesson tonight at Kids for Christ back at my home church in Erie! In this passage, Moses is on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments while the Israelites are below building themselves a new god, a golden calf.
The Israelites are struggling because God has not shown up when they think He should. Maybe you’ve been there too. You’ve prayed and asked God to show up at a certain time, to make things happen a certain way and He doesn’t comply. Or maybe it wasn’t a prayer at all… maybe it was more like instructions for God and now you’re frustrated because God doesn’t seem to be listening. The Israelites were wondering what had become of God. They had lost their vision. Just like a cable connection that breaks up at the climax of the movie, they lost their connection to God. They were searching for a signal and decided to create their own solution.
They were longing for God, but instead they reached for gold. They reached for the thing that was familiar from their Egypt home. They reached for the familiar at the expense of who is faithful. Are we doing the same? Do we know the difference between what we’re longing for and what we’re reaching for? Maybe you’re reaching for money, but you’re really longing for security. Maybe you’re reaching for titles but what you’re really longing for is an identity that’s solid. Maybe you’re longing for a Savior, so you reach for marriage. (He’s really preaching!!) Only God can really satisfy the deepest longings of your soul… but we distract ourselves by reaching for stuff or relationships or status.
Albert really brought it home with this comment: “Maybe you reach for ministry when you’re really longing for an experience with God” He explained this one is tricky because it’s drenched in nobility. It’s drenched in righteousness… but sprinkled with self-righteousness. Ministry is rewarding and gratifying, but it can quickly become an idol. Who’s glory are we working for? Are we trying to honor God are we trying to wrack up “Heaven Points” for ourselves? The danger is that we can do ministry all our lives and still miss the beauty of the gospel. We did all the work, but we might miss the heart of God.
In closing, Albert gave us a creative retelling of Max Lucado’s book, “You are Special”. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of the book when I read it about a month ago, but when Albert retold it — it was pretty good! It was a beautiful reminder that in the presence of our Creator, the blemishes and the gold stars of this world do not dictate our self-worth.
Therefore the gospel…. it demands our response. It’s not our performance. It’s the reclining of our hearts.
The Israelites idol was so obvious…. but our idols can be just as dangerous. If you get good in ministry — you can look so successful but completely miss the gospel and not even know it. The Gospel is the celebration about what God has already done! The celebration that God, the Creator, wants to spend time with a wretch like me.
That demands a response.
Perhaps it’s time to surrender and reach for the one True God. Reach for what you’re really longing for.
Albert Tate is the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, CA. From Sweet Home Church of Christ Holiness in Mississippi to Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA, Albert brings many years of ministry experience in a variety of strategic leadership positions. A dynamic and gifted speaker, he has a passion for unleashing community to live out the transforming power of the Gospel message with justice, grace, mercy, and humility.