Unless the Lord Shall Build the House

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Psalm 127:1 states that, "Unless the Lord shall build the house, the weary builders toil in vain." Upon completion of the building of the United Church of God new home office facility, we must strive to make sure that the toil we do in God's service, is not in vain. God must provide the foundation and the direction for all that we do.

It was very exciting to see the videotape. I think we all really appreciated all that went into that and all that was contained. I know there was a lot of effort put forth by Peter Eddington to put it into that type of a presentation and it was exciting for many of us who saw the construction — some of us saw it day by day, week by week — and now we are here. And so it’s very thrilling to be here. I think it has special meaning to the Church as a whole and to all of us, but most importantly, to God the Father and Jesus Christ. And here we are able to be meeting together today in this facility.

So, what is the furthest scripture from your mind after seeing the video? That might be a little bit of a strange question to ask, but especially after hearing comments made throughout the ceremony, comments made within the prayers to God the Father regarding this building and its use. What scripture is furthest from your mind? Maybe it’s the furthest. Maybe it should be or maybe it shouldn’t, though contrast sometimes brings greater emphasis to what we learn, and perhaps we can use that as well today. Ecclesiastes chapter 1, verse 2. I think we’re all familiar with this scripture.

Ecc:1:2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What a sharp contrast this statement has with what we’ve just seen and heard and where we are today. And indeed, what a great blessing it is to see what God has done - and is doing as well - through the United Church of God and to be a part of it, to be members of the Church and to be contributing to the Work in a variety of ways.

Vanity of vanities: what most throughout history have experienced - and throughout the world are experiencing today — whether they know about it or not. And also, again, vanity of vanities: what does not apply to the most important work taking place on the earth today in preaching the Gospel and preparing a people.

Having the opportunity to work with the architect, with the construction firm and different workers throughout the building of this facility made many scriptures and principles come to mind. Quite a few of them were "Why, O Lord!" But I won’t go into those this afternoon. With all building projects there are frustrations and surprises and you get past them.

But after the decision was made to go with this design, it became more and more evident that the architect saw this building as ‘his baby’. It was very special to him and he was very excited. He almost had a passion, you might say, for seeing it take shape as he had it pictured in his mind. But that made a scripture come to mind — let’s turn to Psalm 127. Again, we are dealing with contrasts here such as with vanity of vanities. Ps. 127 and the heading or verse 1 in your Bible may read: ‘A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon’.

Ps:127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

Verse 2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Now there is a familiar hymn to all of us: "Unless the Lord shall build the house, the weary builders toil in vain." And looking into Hebrew of this first verse, it states they labor in vain who build it: the Hebrew word for labor means ‘to labor until you are weary or worn out, to work diligently, to strive to do a work.’ But unless the Lord builds the house, those who are working so diligently are performing meaningless work, it is only through the work that God does where there is significance and the contrast to vanity of vanities. Without God all is vanity or meaningless! And that’s an important principle for us to keep in mind as we see the world around us knowing that all of it shall be wiped away before Jesus Christ returns and establishes, builds the Kingdom.

It also reminds me when I read these verses of an old song some of you may remember: "Work your fingers to the bone — what do you get? Bony fingers!" That was an old song that many appreciated or understood the reality of to one degree or another. But how much more do we see the reality of that without God being in the picture, thanks to the calling that He has given to us? We know that through our calling we are God, the Father’s, babies — literally, not only figuratively. We are His loved ones, His children, whom He has called and is working with to become as His Son, Jesus Christ, is - to become His eternal sons and daughters. And God takes great pleasure in seeing us grow, build and develop to become what He has called us to become.

Now this Psalm, interestingly enough, is looked upon more in reference to Solomon than by Solomon. You will notice, ‘A Psalm of Ascents. Of Solomon.’ Jewish scholars state that it is actually not written by Solomon, but about him, the same man who was 'the Preacher’ who wrote, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity". And it is in reference to the building of the temple, they say, because here he was going through the process of the reconstruction of the nation of Israel and the building of the temple. This is a very interesting principle for us to look at today as it was referring to a time of reconstruction that’s similar to what the Church has been going through over the past seven years and continues to do. And I’m sure we are very inspired to see what God is doing and that it is becoming more and more obvious that this is the Work of God and not of men. It is not something men can take credit in. It is a time when perhaps more men and women are involved in elements of the Work than they were in the past. But still, the glory is to God because without Him, it is meaningless.

Getting back to the building, there are many components, many of which are essential and there’s one that you can’t live without: the foundation. As we are aware, the foundation is the first part of the building that must be completed. Without it, there is nothing to build upon, no stability. And we saw a foundation that wasn’t able to be completed here and had to be torn out and redone from scratch. I still remember as if it happened yesterday - I was going to say the exact time period that happened, ‘I remember it as if it happened eight months, six days and fourteen hours ago’ — but I didn’t have the time to calculate that. But it’s so vivid in my mind, the morning that the foundation was to be poured. As it was to be poured, it was pouring rain and we were joking in the office. I remember us joking with each other saying, "So, do you think the foundation’s being poured today? Ha ha ha." Yes, it was. And that was a shock to us! It was devastating. Also, the project manager, I talked to him after they had stopped the process and he told me, "We had to stop. We had to stop. It wasn’t as much: we wanted to stop. We had to stop when the big trucks couldn’t make it up the hill because they were sliding in the mud." They still wanted to complete the foundation. Why? Well, believe it or not, if the rain had not had a great deal of impact upon the top surface of the concrete, the foundation might have been okay. And we were told — I was told that it might have been okay even after the thunderstorm - even with the damage that had been done to the top surface — that it still might have been okay. And there was discussion regarding whether or not the foundation would be torn out and redone. And we consulted with different architects and engineers and decided that it had to be done. But they were saying that it might have been okay.

Let’s turn to 1 Kings chapter 5 where we will read a little bit about foundation.

1 Kings:5:13 Then King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel; and the labor force was thirty thousand men.

That was a big number. I remember seeing the weekly reports where they would report how many men were on duty at this building per day. Sometimes it was five, sometimes three, sometimes twenty-five — but often it was three or five and here, thirty thousand men working on this important project.

Verse 14 he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts: they were one month in Lebanon and two months at home; Adoniram was in charge of the labor force.

Verse 15 Solomon had seventy thousand who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains,

Verse 16 besides three thousand three hundred from the chiefs of Solomon's deputies, who supervised the people who labored in the work.

Verse 17 And the king commanded them to quarry large stones, costly stones, and hewn stones, to lay the foundation of the temple.

"Costly stones" stands out because it shows that they had to be of high quality. That he saw the importance of that foundation being high quality, being sure - and there being no ‘maybes’ about it — that maybe this will be all right. "How about this rock, Solomon?" "This might be okay." No, they had to be large, costly, high quality and hewn stones as well. And it’s very interesting to look up the scriptures regarding the foundation of the temple, which you might be interested to do because there are quite a few scriptures and some interesting principles that tie in with them. The foundation is so important that its successful completion and durability rely on the foundation.

Let’s now turn to Ephesians chapter 2 where we see a spiritual principle, a spiritual principle regarding foundations. In Eph. Chapter 2 and verse 19, speaking to the Ephesians, speaking to you and speaking to me as well.

Eph:2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Verse 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

Verse 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Verse 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

We stand on a foundation, or are to stand on a foundation, that is the highest quality, which is solid, which is firm and which is eternal. No ifs, ands or buts, no maybes about it! Very solid!

Two of the problems — or actually three — which we faced with the foundation of this building that we are in right now: the first was, could we trust it? Some said yes, it might have been okay. And many rely on a foundation or more than one foundation that is not sure or that is not solid, whether they know it or not. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. And that would have been the second difficulty also, dealing with more than one foundation. Two-thirds was laid and the other third still needed to be. And it could have been very solid. The one-third that still had to be built could have been so solid and secure that it could have been, without a doubt, an excellent foundation to build upon. But the building would have been build upon two different types of foundations due to the weather, due to the water content and also due to the surface of the concrete and other elements as well. What would the building rely on if different troubles were experienced? How stable would the building have been with two different types of foundation if any trouble arose? And many people in this world today have either no foundation, an unsure foundation or multiple foundations that they rely on at different times and can easily shift from one to another when troubles occur. They can feel sure, they can feel fine until problems become evident to them and then they can change gears in a twinkling of an eye.

I was surprised when I was in high school, some friends and I in a study hall were discussing creation and evolution and one of the individuals who, of course, did not believe in creation gave his explanation of how it all happened. He said, "This is what I believe." And he said it strongly, confidently as if he had no doubts in his mind. Well, we started going around the table and another individual who did not believe in creation, but believed in evolution, said, "Well, this is what I believe." And he said it strongly, confidently, without hesitation. And you know what the first guy said? "Hmmm, that sounds good to me." Immediately he changed. What he apparently stood upon as his belief - however strong it was, I don’t know — but how quickly he changed just because something sounded better.

And how many people in the world do that today without having steady footing, without having something firm that they do rely upon? So that when questions arise, so that when problems befall them, they know where to go, they know the foundation that they need to stand strongly upon. We see that so much in the world we live in today and need to be on guard of it ourselves.

In Mystery of the Ages we read "Civilization, as we know it, was built not on the foundation of God and His direction, but on man’s self reliance under the deception and sway of Satan." And Satan sometimes gives mankind some things that he can firmly rely on and other times gives him things that he cannot rely on (or in his mind cannot rely on) and can easily be swayed in different directions.

It’s important to have one foundation and it is important that that one foundation be solid. But sometimes no matter how strong and how firm a foundation is, the foundation itself is futile (pronounced fu-TILE as the Cyborgs like to say). The foundation, no matter how strong and solid, may be meaningless.

A building that was started in 1173 A.D. that took nearly two hundred years to build because of different delays - one of which was one hundred years - is a building you probably never would have heard of, but that everyone knows about. And it would not have been known about unless a big mistake was made. And the name of the building itself would not be what the name of the building is now because it was given its name because of a fault that existed with that building. And it is one almost all of you have surely heard of, the Leaning Tower of Pizza — Pisa. Guess I’m a little hungry, sorry about that. But the Leaning Tower of Pisa — it’s a fascinating building. How many of you know what it was built to be, what the purpose of the building was? Many do not because that’s not what it’s known for. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built to be a bell tower for the Catholic cathedral right next to it. It was meant to be a belfry, a bell tower, and most do not know that because that’s not what it became as things progressed in the building of it. It holds bells - the largest of which weighs three-and-a-half tons - but those bells do not ring. After about three to five years of construction, three of the stories or levels were built and it was then realized that the tower was evidently leaning in one direction. ‘We have a problem, Houston. What are we going to do?’ It has not been totally recorded what they decided to do or not to do, but nothing happened with that building for one hundred years. Then it began again. And they decided that this building, which still had its purpose of being built as what you may refer to as a holy building, a bell tower, one that had great meaning in the church, the Catholic Church that stood next to it. They decided to continue building it, but they knew they could not repair the foundation. The foundation was fine. It was the land they built upon. Interestingly, the name Pisa means marshlands. The soil was a mixture of sand and clay and was not solid enough to hold that foundation, no matter how solid, level. So when they began to build again, they decided ‘what we must do is build not in the same direction this building was going or it would fall. What we must do is to attempt to build the next stories — and, perhaps, the remainder of the building - to be level with the ground and not level with the foundation.’ The building began to lean in another direction. There were many different things that went on and, again, the building was not completed until more than two hundred years and they still had confidence, even though the building was obviously not looking as it should have. It didn’t have the structural soundness even though it had a good foundation that wasn’t upon a rock, you might say. They put the bells in the tower — seven of them — all tuned precisely and put into the tower. And they rang the bells until they started being worried that ringing the bells might cause vibrations that would cause the tower to crumble to the ground or fall over. Now, this building that was built, that was designed, that was intended to be a bell tower is now an oddball building that people go to see without any knowledge of its original intent, but because it is strange and attracts attention and brings a lot of business to the city.

Vanity of vanities all is vanity. Though things may have meaning, though things may have foundations, that can be meaningless ‘unless the Lord shall build the house’, unless there is a rock upon which that building, that foundation, is laid. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, here we read a scripture that is a foundational scripture to us. It is something that we believe. It is something that we stand upon.

1 Cor:3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We have to stand firmly on that belief. We have to stand firmly on the fact that we know who Jesus Christ is. We know who He was. We know what He is doing and what He is going to do when He returns. This is the foundation that we stand upon. We know that Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the living Word of God. And we know that we have His word, the Word of God that is inspired by Him, breathed by Him, and that we are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. This is the foundation that we stand upon. We must stick our noses in the Bible, if they’ll fit. But we need to have our minds there on that solid Rock, on that foundation, absorbing what is there and living it so that we become living as the Word of God - that we become living as Jesus Christ - that we have that solidness of our being and of the building we are a part of.

Some stand on a foundation sure and solid, but do nothing more than that. Let’s turn to Matthew, chapter 7 beginning in verse 21. In Matt. 7, a part of the Sermon on the Mount, this was instruction that Jesus Christ was giving laying a foundation of what His teachings were all about, what they meant, what their purpose was, where they were going, what they were to mean to us, to all mankind.

Matt:7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

This brings to mind a recent conversation I overheard where an individual was asking someone that they heard talking a bit crassly, a bit grossly, who had been talking about her church. And then all of a sudden she started using language that seemed in contrast to what she was just talking about. And this one individual said to her, "So, do you talk like that at church? Do you act like this at church?" And she said, "Well, yes. I do. I have to be the same way in church as I am out of church or that’s hypocrisy." Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. It’s amazing that some think that. But that shows that it is God’s Spirit that has given us understanding that makes us laugh or cry when we hear things like that knowing what our lives are to be all about. We are to be growing and developing and following the lead of Jesus Christ.

Verse 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'

Verse 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

Verse 24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

Verse 25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Verse 26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand... and clay, intermixed together to hold nothing substantial. Well here, it says, of course... built his house on the sand;

Verse 27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

Verse 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching... This is powerful, what he was saying?

Verse 29 for He taught them as one having authority, not as the scribes.

We know of many who have built buildings along the coast. In Southern California we would see that — how they would build them way up high overlooking the beautiful coast and then the sands, because of the tide or because of rains, would be washed away and the buildings would fall into the ocean. And some of them would see the sand disappearing from a bit of a distance because they were far enough from it to feel comfortable, but then, year by year it kept coming. And you know what? They had a hard time selling those homes because people saw what had been occurring. They saw what was going to happen and knew what might happen to those homes that were not built upon anything solid. And they might be fine if there’s no rain, if there are no storms, if there are no high winds, if there are no troubles, they may stand fine, but when those things occur, they’re gone, they’re history. Vanity of vanities.

What a blessing it is to know the importance of God’s Word; to know the importance of the foundation that we stand upon; to know what God’s plan is for this whole world and for us, His children, His babies, as outlined in His Holy Days and in the Sabbath that we are here celebrating today. We know the importance of our calling. We know the importance of our being called together as we are here this day honoring God, praising Him and focusing on His Word.

Let’s go back to Eph. 2. There’s a lot in this passage and we touched on one element of it and we’ll look at a couple more now. We are so blessed to be together. We are so blessed to know that we are called to be a part of a body, that we are to be growing together. And we are here today as a part of that plan and that purpose.

Eph:2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners... if you don’t know each other, you are strangers... but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household... not households, but the... household of God,

Verse 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone... the mainstay, the Rock upon which everything else depends.

Verse 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together... a process of being joined together... grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Verse 22 in whom you also are being built... again, a process... together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

How good and how pleasant! This emphasizes God’s goal for us as His children. And what a blessing it is that we can be meeting together on the Sabbath, on the Holy Days and on other days knowing what life is all about, knowing God’s plan, knowing His purpose, and going on in the same direction.

God gave Solomon some very interesting instructions regarding the temple. Let’s turn back to 1 Kings. This time, we’ll look at chapter 6. Now isn’t it obvious that Solomon built the temple for the right reasons, for the right purpose, with the right instructions, with the right plans, with the right goals in mind. Isn’t that obvious? It was his and his father’s dream to build the temple in honor of God and for the purpose of worshipping Him and having His presence near. But God gave him what you might call a reminder that was very important and applies in a related way to this building, not directly, but in a related way. It applies to the Church. It applies to each and every one of us today.

1 Kings:6:11 Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying:

Verse 12 "Concerning this temple which you are building... which he had done for the right reasons with the right goals. God said... IF you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, THEN I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David.

Verse 13 "And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel."

We know what took place with Israel. We know, too, that we have been called to stand on the right foundation, to grow, to overcome, to become like Christ. The building process is continual. We need to always have that in mind not only for ourselves, but also for all the other brethren with whom we are to become closer as a family and as the household of God. And the Sabbath, the Holy Days and the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles give us excellent opportunities to do so.

The architect of this structure, again, considered this building his baby. He took pride in it. He dreamed of what it would become. He was excited to see it grow from the basic constructs to an almost finished product. Paul, the apostle, had a similar perspective. We read that in Philippians, chapter 2, as he wrote this letter to them.

Phil:2:12 Therefore, my beloved... words we can often read over quickly, but it’s an endearing term he used with them... Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Verse 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure... unless the Lord builds the house.

Verse 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,

Verse 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Verse 16 holding fast... grasping... the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

He saw those people in an endearing sense and had hopes and aspirations for them. They were, you might say, as children to him. And as Paul touches on, in verse 13, how much more does God relish our growth and His children, His babies who are to be developing, maturing, growing onward and upward as individuals, as a body, as the Church, as the Work. That depends on what we do, how firmly we hold onto the foundation of Jesus Christ, how much we drink in of what He has given us in His Word, and hunger for His righteousness. And how much we rely on God to work in us, knowing that of and by ourselves all is vanity. But if God is with us and is working though us and is helping us to grow, all things are possible.

Again, even if a building has the right foundation and the right structure, it can still go awry or the project can be abandoned. We read about that. We are warned about that as all of us who go through baptismal counseling and, hopefully, all of us who study God’s Word about our profession — what we profess, we are — what we are growing to become, what we are building upon as Christians. In Luke chapter 14 - I will read this to you — verse 28 through 30.

Luke:14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -

Verse 29 "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him,

Verse 30 "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

I remember riding home from school and seeing a basement with a roof on it — every day, coming home from school. A man had built the foundation to a home and could not complete the building for years. And I do not know if it is completed to this day. So, what he did was he put a roof on it — just a flat roof — and lived there. And we, as school children, not every day, but when it would be brought to our attention we would usually laugh and say, Ha, look at that building. Never finished. Even though we weren’t intelligent enough to be too derogatory, but we were derogatory, of course, because it looked like foolishness to us.

And this is something we always have to keep in mind as well knowing that God is working with us and strengthening us through His Spirit. Again, of and by ourselves, we cannot finish the work that God has begun in us, but that He wants to complete it and is working with us for that purpose. And that's, again, why we have been taught through the years to stick to the trunk of the tree, to go back to the basics as God instructed Solomon and instructs us. That’s why Solomon was inspired to write after all his dilly-dallying around in all sorts of areas, he began the book of Ecclesiastes writing, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." And he ended the book stating — well, you know, but let’s look there again. Ecc. chapter 12. In a way, he ended as he began. In a way, he ended having been brought to the understanding as was referenced in Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor, no matter how much work they’ve put into it, it is all vanity, it is all meaningless.

Ecc:12:8 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity."

Verse 9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs.

Verse 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright - words of truth.

Verse 11 The words of the wise are like goads... anybody have a goad? It’s not a commonly used term, is it? It’s like a prod; like a stimulus... and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd... solid, steadfast...

Verse 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.

Another translation states something along the lines of: ‘of sharing of opinions there is no end’. There are so many different opinions that you’ll never run out. But what does that mean? It means, basically, nothing.

Verse 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all...

This is what it’s all about. It’s the bottom line and we have been brought to that understanding. We have been called to that truth.

Verse 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

That’s what our lives are founded on — the knowledge of God’s Word, the knowledge of His will, the knowledge of the foundation that He has laid for us that we are to stand firmly upon, that we are to build upon as well. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy, chapter 2 as he was giving instruction for those that Timothy was teaching, something that directly complements what Solomon wrote regarding opinions or many books. And do we see that happening in our day and age? Do we see it happening where there are so many different philosophies, that so many are going in different directions in the world we live in. And sometimes, among those whom God has called that go off on a branch and go far out on a limb instead of sticking to the trunk of the tree, instead of holding fast to the foundation, the solidity that we have been given. Paul wrote to Timothy,

2 Tim:2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

Verse 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing... or handling... the word of truth.

Verse 16 But shun profane and idle... meaningless... babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

Verse 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,

Verse 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

Verse 19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

Verse 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.

Verse 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

We have taken some time today to reflect on the construction of the Home Office Building which is very exciting, which is a great blessing and is not yet complete. There are several little things that still have to be completed before the building is done. And also there is the fact that this building was constructed so that it can expand, so that it can become more than what it is now, but still serving the same overall purpose. And we’ve also reflected on the one foundation that we are to be firmly footed upon. As most of you know and as Mr. Pinelli mentioned, we have outside the front of the building a rock — how appropriate — and it was given to us by this year’s ABC class with the statement, "The Word of God is the Foundation of Knowledge". On a rock. How interesting! We are to stand firm on that. We are to stand firmly on the foundation of Jesus Christ. And we are to be growing, expanding, developing as the household of God, as His children, as His babies in whom He takes great interest, great affection and has great aspirations for each and every one of us.

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Without God, yea, barely, but with God, no way. God is building His temple, His spiritual temple, and we have the honor of being a part of it. Let us remember the importance of the foundation, the importance of the building, the importance of the purpose, the importance of the plan God has for all mankind beginning with you and me. And in the important work He has called us to be a part of in preaching the Gospel and in preparing and being prepared as a people, as His people, the people of God.


The United Church of God, an International Association began an ambitious project in the year 2001 — construction of its own Home Office facility. The Church had been renting office space for the past seven years. But on June the 4th, 2001, groundbreaking began on a two-story, multi-use office building located in Milford, Ohio just outside of Cincinnati.

Employees as well as many of the local Church brethren were on hand to dig the first ceremonial clods of earth.

"One, two, three."

Meanwhile, excavating began in earnest under the direction of Fru-Con Construction. The building was completed over the course of the next eleven months. Dedication of the premises took place on May the 4th, 2002.

Please enjoy this brief time capsule of construction of the new building including a one-minute time-lapse shoot of the building going up. Then, listen in to the dedication ceremony attended by four-hundred-and-twenty-five brethren including one hundred elders and their wives in town for the annual General Conference of Elders.

The Church will benefit greatly in having a facility designed specifically for its needs, enabling the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God to be preached more effectively and efficiently, and the brethren to be served in a even greater way.


Well, good morning, everyone,

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you very much for being here and sharing the day with us — the morning. And we do appreciate very much having as many different nations and peoples represented because, of course, with many of the international ministers coming in: we have people from South Africa and the Philippines and Peru and Chili and Mexico and Germany - and Texas. So we do appreciate having all the people from everywhere — all the other churches everywhere — and do thank you and appreciate it. We need to get started with the rest of the morning and so I’ll ask Dr. Ward if he will come up for the invocation.


Our Father in Heaven,

We come before You now to give You thanks and praise for the great blessings that You have given us. Father, we come humbly before You realizing that it is through Your grace, Your love, Your mercy that we are here today and that we have traveled a long road to be here. And, Father, we just thank You for the great blessings that You have bestowed upon us. We thank You for Your love and mercy and all the labor of love that has gone into this special occasion.

We thank You for the peoples that have gathered here from all over the world and for their participation in this historic event. And, Father, we just thank You that You have been gracious to us and You have allowed us to come through the trials and troubles and tribulations of recent years and to stand before this magnificent edifice here today.

So, Father, we ask Your blessing upon the activities here today. We ask it all be done in Your honor and to Your glory and we commit these ceremonies, now, into Your hands, through Jesus Christ, Amen.

ANTHEM: Great is the Lord

Great is the Lord, He is holy and just,

By His power we trust in His love.

Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true,

By His blessing He proves He is love.

Great is the Lord and worthy of glory,

Great is the Lord and worthy of praise.

Great is the Lord now lift up your voice,

Now, lift up your voice.

Great is the Lord. Great is the Lord.

Great is the Lord, He is holy and just,

By His power we trust in His love.

Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true,

By His blessing He proves He is love.

Great is the Lord and worthy of glory,

Great is the Lord and worthy of praise.

Great is the Lord now lift up your voice,

Now, lift up your voice.

Great is the Lord. Great is the Lord.

Great are You, Lord, and worthy of glory,

Great are You, Lord, and worthy of praise,

Great are You, Lord, I lift up my voice,

I lift up my voice!

Great are You, Lord, Great are You, Lord.

Great are You, Lord, Great are You, Lord.

Great are You, Lord.

ANTHEM: A Journey of Faith

The church of God has stood through all the ages,

a source of strength to all who gather there;

a place for all who seek God’s love to join in worship and in prayer.

We honor those who bravely came before us,

who learned by faith to lay their fears aside.

They walked in grace and served with joy

for they trusted the Lord to be their guide.

Their faith in Christ would not be broken

as they walked in the light of His Word;

and with the love and grace they found in this place,

They went forth to serve the Lord.

The church of God will stand through all the ages,

a light of hope to shine so all may see;

a place for all to share God’s love and find the comfort that they need.

And as a faithful family of believers,

we stand as one, united in His name.

We’ll place our trust in Christ our Lord,

and His praises we loudly will proclaim!

Our faith in Christ will not be broken!

We will walk in the light of His Word;

and with the love and grace we find in this place,

we will go and serve our Lord.

Faithful servants forever, we will go forth hand in hand

facing challenges together as we follow God’s command.

Our faith in Christ will not be broken!

We will walk in the light of His Word;

and with the love and grace we find in this place,

we will go, we will serve our Lord.

Serve our Lord!


We were very dubious about what this day was going to bring in terms of the weather. We were prepared to go ahead and cancel everything here and move back down to Eastgate. We thought we might have rain and we were worried we might have sun — at least, hot sun. So, it worked out real well. A nice, cool day and yet having the sun to warm everybody up from the back and we do appreciate the fact that God has granted us such a great day.

Today is an exciting and, I hope, an inspirational day for United Church of God and for all the church brethren. A little over two years ago we had begun to look for a place to build a new church building and I happened to be driving around the area here and saw a sign off on the side advertising this portion here to be for sale. So I drove up on the property to take a look at it and it didn’t look like much. It was rocky. The topsoil had all been scalped off of it to be used in other places. It had a mound of dirt in the back about fifteen feet high, clear across the back of the property, which we had a little problem with later on, but we took a look at it. It also had a little pond right out here with two ducks swimming in it. The Realtor, when we talked with him said, "Don’t tell anybody that there’s a pond there because someone might call it a wetland and then you are in trouble." So we didn’t tell anybody the ducks were out there. But anyhow, it wasn’t a great deal to look at, but we began to talk with the people that owned the property and decided that we would like to make a bid on the property. We asked them if they would be willing to entertain our bid, which was considerably less that what they were originally asking — which they also accepted graciously — and so we began to do our planning.

Now, the architect, Mark Bredemeier — we talked with him as well as the construction company — and Mark picked up some of the thoughts, some of the ideas and he saw some of the pictures that we have of past buildings and so on. And he picked up some of the thoughts and ideas. I think he did a beautiful job of incorporating some of those ideas into the building that we now have.

We had two construction companies that were offering a bid for us. They gave us two different elevations. The first one we looked at was very utilitarian. And none of us, when we looked at it thought, well that’s what we want. And the other, Fru-Con, came up with the other one and we all decided that was exactly the kind of thing that we’d like to see. So we went ahead and entered into our negotiations. There have been problems with the building in that we were going to move all of that dirt that was in the back out over the area here where the parking lot is. And once they got into it and started moving it, they found it had a great deal of vegetation in it — vegetable material, I should say — in it. Of course, that wouldn’t compact well, wouldn’t do well to build over the top of it and have the vegetable material all begin to decay. So we ended up having to haul off a lot of that mound — sixty thousand yards of it that we had to haul away in order to go ahead and get everything going. So there have been ups and downs.

Of course, when they began to construct the building the first thing we did, the foundation was gotten ready and the contractor doing the foundation decided that he had to get it in right away and it looked like it was going to rain. So he thought, well he would beat it, he would come out here at 3 o’clock in the morning and pour the foundation and he’d be all set. The only problem was, he got part of the foundation poured and then it rained and with what they were going to be doing as far as the other construction, they couldn’t use that concrete. So they had to go back and tear up the whole foundation, rebuild it, re-pour it and get things moving along at a different pace. So there have been ups and downs.

Now, I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to bring the building about as far as bringing it to completion. Tom Kirkpatrick worked long and hard with the construction company in dealing with them. And Dave Evans had sort of a daily thing in meeting the building contractor and the foreman to see how things were going along. Peter Eddington has done a very great job as far as the latter days in doing all the work he has to do as far as electronics in his area. And, of course, the same with Richard Kennebec doing everything that he needed to do. And then, obviously, the rest of the staff have been very supportive, very helpful. They didn’t have as quite an immediate hand in it as these other men did. And then this past week, we looked around and we were planning on our landscaping and we were encouraging them to hurry up. So most of these trees you see here, most of the plantings you see have been done in the last three days. So, you know, it has taken a lot of effort and a lot of work. Of course, Sarah Kirkpatrick has sort of ramrodded that. She’s a gardener and likes to work with that kind of thing so she’s worked with the landscape architect to help bring that about. So we do appreciate that very much and, as I said, all the rest of the employees that had their part that they played — their part is more played from now on. And these others will have to be playing their part from now on, as well.

But we’re here to dedicate a new office building to the service of the Great God. And today we are going to be dedicating this building not as a church or not as a temple or anything, but we are going to be dedicating it to do the Work of the Great God, all of the work that needs to be done. Now, inside we have not just administrative offices or ministerial offices, but a growing and vital mailing office. In this past year, we have mailed on an average of 40,000 pieces of literature per month out of this building, which is excluding the 500,000 Good News magazines that went out. The mailing office is continually swamped and, of course, all I can say is we hope that they get into a whole lot more trouble, are much more swamped as time goes by. We trust that’s going to happen. So when I say it’s a vital and growing mailing office, which very certainly is true, we do appreciate the work that goes into making that office function. It’s necessary in order to provide all the mail that goes out and all the pieces of literature that go out to people everywhere around the world - more in the United States as far as we are concerned - but at the same time, we do a lot of mailing to the offices in the rest of the world.

And in order to handle that, of course, we have also had to put in a much-needed warehouse. Now, when you have the opportunity to go through, you will be able to see it. Our warehouse is now five times the size of the one we had outgrown, but it has eight times as much space. So the floor space is five times as great, but it has much more space because it has a twenty foot limit as far as what can be put inside.

And there are also broadcast and dubbing studios for the ever-increasing video and sermon tapes that are going out. And those new studios will certainly enhance the work that needs to be done in carrying some of the tapes out to those who are handicapped, those who are not able to attend services as well as all of the other functions that there are. Thousands, literally thousands of audio and videotapes are sent out each month to the people of God, wherever they may be.

The Assembly Hall was intended to begin with for the use of Ambassador Bible Center and we had intended and put it into the planning that we would have room to go ahead and have an assembly hall that would seat up to 100 students. This year we have just over 50, but we can go ahead and plan on growth up to 100 students there. But as time went by, we began to realize, of course, that there is also the need for the church here at Cincinnati East. We began to look at it and realized that, well with as much space as there was, we could go ahead and also plan on using it for the services of the Cincinnati East Church. And, of course, Cincinnati East Church has been around a long time. The church was first founded here in Cincinnati in 1963 and so it’s been around a very long time. We’ve seen lots of ups and downs, backs and forths and, as we’ve been here for the four years, we’ve been first one place and then another and then another, so it will be nice to have a permanent place. Our only problem is, we can seat about three hundred in the hall and at the present time, the services are running about 230 to 240. So it won’t take a whole lot of growth to go ahead and outgrow that. Next year, students if they increase as they have in the past two years — we started out with twenty-four students, the next year we had forty and this year we have over fifty. So if it continues at that rate, we would certainly fill the church in a very short time even if there are no other people that begin to attend.

But if you look at our past history, you might wonder just how long this building is going to provide housing for God’s increasing work. We do have room planned and room built in for expansion. There are currently three to five empty offices — now, I haven’t looked today. We had to pass the word out that any empty space is sacrosanct. Nobody can begin to move in and take over and so on. So I think we still have three to five empty offices that are all prepared, ready to go. We have an additional area where we can construct up to an additional six offices, if need warrants. And then, of course, the way the plans are put together with this tilled up construction, in time, if the need should arise, we can take down the back wall back there and move out another additional forty feet — and add another additional forty feet to the building. So we certainly think there’s enough room to go ahead and expand for a while. I certainly hope that in time we also outgrow this building and have to end up dedicating another one somewhere, but we’ll have to wait and see how God blesses in that regard.

So here we have a building that has four major functions, and yet, they’re separate functions. They don’t necessarily blend together real easily — they do and they don’t, you know the different kinds of things that have to be done. There are:

    * the administrative offices for the growing work

    * there’s a major mailing office

    * there’s a warehouse

    * and then the studio and classroom space

And that’s all behind the walls of this building. Those of you who haven’t had a chance to go through yet, I hope you do have that opportunity in the next couple of days because it is certainly enlightening to see what all can be done inside there.

So, I say, this building has certainly met and, I think, exceeded our expectations and I’d just like to thank all of you that are here as well as all the rest of God’s people, wherever they may be, for their help and thoughts enabling this to come about. We do understand, obviously, that that’s under God’s direction and as a result of His blessings, but at the same time, all of you and all of God’s people have had a part in praying about it and asking for direction and asking for help and in providing funds. And Christ has very generously blessed us in the last four years. I’ll have a little more to say about that tomorrow. But He has very graciously blessed us and provided us now with a physical building, a tool to go ahead and provide for a spiritual building — the Church of God. So we do very much thank you for being here. We hope that you’re going to have an opportunity to go through and see it. And to go ahead and complete our things today, I’d like to ask Mr. Holladay if he’d come up for a dedication prayer and then we’ll have the ribbon cutting and then go on with the rest of the day.


Almighty, Great God in heaven, Father, we, as your people, gather before You to acknowledge your supremacy, to acknowledge that You are truly our Father, that we look to You for guidance and for direction. Father, we come to You today with the dedication of this building realizing that You are the one who has provided it for us and, Father, we thank You for this. We realize that this building is here, as Mr. McCullough just mentioned, to serve a function, to be able to do the Work that You have so graciously allowed to continue. Father, seven years ago we wondered where we would be, what we would be doing, and we thank You so much that in Your love and Your kindness that You and Jesus Christ have continued the Work that You have started here in this end age and that the Gospel is going out. Father, here is a building that we dedicate to You, to Your name, realizing that You provided to do the Work that You want done at this end time. Father, it’s a building to serve Your people, Your Church, to serve all of those that might come in contact with Your Work through the printed word, the Internet, TV, radio, every means whereby we communicate. And, Eternal God, it’s a building to serve Your church. So, we thank You for it, Father, we dedicate it to Your service, to the service of Your people and we realize that this is not a temple, but it is a building that is dedicated to help to build the spiritual temple, Your Church. So, Father, thank You for Your graciousness, for Your love in providing this. We certainly thank all of God’s people who’ve by their support through prayers, tithes and offerings have certainly been a big part of this. So, Father, we commit this day, this service into Your hands. Thank you for it. We do dedicate this building in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ. Amen.


The church of God has stood through all the ages,

a source of strength to all who gather there;

a place for all who seek God’s love to join in worship and in prayer.

We honor those who bravely came before us,

who learned by faith to lay their fears aside.

They walked in grace and served with joy

for they trusted the Lord to be their guide.

Their faith in Christ would not be broken

as they walked in the light of His Word;

and with the love and grace they found in this place,

They went forth to serve the Lord.

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