Leon Fontaine - Welcome Home
If you've been here for any length of time, you will have heard me say, "I hate religion". I don't say it to be cute. I absolutely detest religion. You need to know that. Religion is a bunch of manmade rules that people add. It's about judging one another and creating a culture that is sick but that wasn't Jesus. And so it was our purpose to create a culture where you come as you are, as messed up, or as perfect whichever you thought you were in between you and God. He go to work on you because a person can't change another person. Married couples find that out second year. But so many people look at church, and they use the word loosely. When I use the word church, I will mean every person who is born again and loves Jesus, okay? And then when I talk about organ... I don't mind organized church at all. I don't want to be a part of an organized church.
People always say, "Well, I hate organized religion". I say, "I do, too". But you're a pastor. Yep, that's why I hate it. Now, I love organized church. I don't want to know that my 3-year old's in class that's unorganized and securities unorganized. Hello! But church is something that is alive but it radically changed me. It's changed our family, our church. It changes everyone that will just begin to come and sit under the ministry for a while, as they begin to recognize the only hope for the planet is the church of Jesus Christ. I want good government. I want good leaders. I want good everything. But without the church of Jesus Christ, there is no way to change the hearts of people, and that is the area that is so crucial.
I heard a story when I was a young man, about a guy who left the church from, to go to Africa for a while and labour there and minister there. He went out for a few months and helped out with meetings, and they laid hands on the sick. God began to do miracles. Thousands of people made a decision for Christ. And so he, this is, you know, way back before there were planes. And so he got on a ship to come back to America. And he wondered, he says in his memoirs. He wondered if people would have heard about the miracles, about the church exploding, about how many people, you know, leaving witchcraft and self-centeredness and becoming followers of Christ. And so as he got close to the dock in the American coast, he saw a ton of people and marching bands and ticker parades and he said, "You got to be kidding me".
And so as he's walking down the gang plank, he found out it wasn't for him but the president of the United States was on the ship, too. And he'd shot a lion and everybody was there for him. He said, "Well, oh, well, when I, when I get home". He said, "Maybe, maybe my church and the Bible school there will have, will have heard of the great things that God has done in Africa". And so as he got on the train and he began to make his way in all the different stops, he looked out the window for his hometown. And, you know, back in those days they'd created this great big stage, you know, where you get off on the train. And he saw crowds of people and he thought, "Wow, they've heard about what God was doing. Then we're going to celebrate. This is going to be awesome".
So he gets off the train and he found out that the president's car was attached to the back of the train. He was heading home. They were here to greet the president, to make matters worse, they'd forgotten to come pick him up. He's walking home down the old roads back then. He says to God. He says, "God," He says, "Eternity was determined for thousands of people. The church of Jesus Christ advanced". He says, "We laboured. We suffered to get it done". He said in there, "There's nobody here to celebrate this". And he said God spoke very clearly to his heart and He said, "Son, you ain't home yet". You see, according to the Bible, there are going to be two judgments at the end of this age. The first one I won't be at, but I hear about it through the Word.
If you know Christ as your Savior, you won't be at it either. It's called the great white throne judgment in Revelations chapter 20. There it says that all the dead will be gathered together at the end of time. Both great and small. People the world would call insignificant and people the world would call great. Maybe Genghis Khan, maybe Napoleon, Hitler. All leaders that evil or good were considered great will line up before the great white throne judgment. They're not going to be checked on anything except did you make the Book of Life. It says here if they don't make the Book of Life, if their names were not written. They are cast, hurl into the lake of fire.
Now, if you know Christ as your Saviour, you won't be at this judgment. You'll be at a second judgment. And this judgment, it's called the judgment seat of Christ. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Romans chapter 14, 2 Corinthians chapter 5, it repeatedly talks about a judgment. But this judgment would be different than the great white throne. Great white throne will be their last chance to look God in the eye. None of their works good or bad will get them into heaven, only the accepting of Christ as Saviour and Lord. But at the judgment seat of Christ is a different kind. It is a rewards judgment. This is where He will meet, everybody in heaven is going to be a part of the judgment seat of Christ for the rewards ceremony as Jesus hands out the rewards for every person that helped to build His church. Which was reaching this lost, touching these nations, getting on television, building churches, feeding the lost, the hungry.
All the things the Word of God says. He's going to meet and it's going to be the great... I mean, if you think the Emmy's are incredible. If you think you've seen an awards ceremony where all of our famous people in song or theater, where they all, you know, applaud each other. And they try to decorate it and spend millions and tens of millions as, you know, they pick their people and put... Jesus is going to do something that they won't be able to touch. And it's going to be a reward ceremony called the judgment seat of Christ. Now, some people have taught on this and made it look as though Jesus' going to look you in the eyeball and say, "Leon, you missed so many opportunities". He slaps me across the face and goes, "You did a little bit. Okay, fine. But anyway here's a little bit a reward for you". No, that's not the heart of Jesus.
And this reward ceremony will be like the Olympics. And I like to liken it to maybe figure skating, or, you know, where they're judging and they hand out golds and bronzes and silvers. They don't take the guy in seventh position and have him skate or so that the judges can tell him off. You were pathetic. Dude, like practice a little bit. Don't even embarrass yourself by getting on the ice. That that's not the heart of Jesus. This is a reward ceremony. And it's going to be the greatest thing you've ever been a part of. But don't think for a moment that the Bible isn't saying clearly there are those who live for themselves and there are those who live for His cause, and He will separate them. It says and I know, I refused to teach on things the Bible's not clear on. Sometimes on certain topics the Bible will mention things but it doesn't clarify.
And so it's enough to know the truth. You don't need to go at all your own, you know, self-made doctrines. But it says that there is going to be awards that are passed out. I just don't know what those awards are. I know that heaven is a place with society. It's a place of streets and banquets and homes. It's a place we're going to spend eternity and billions of people will be there. Okay? It's going to be incredible. For eternity we're going to be helping Jesus whatever He wants to do. If He wants to keep creating the universe, designing. It's going to take Him forever just to show us His unique and His majesty and the world and it's just the first part of it. We get to be a part with Him in eternity.
So I don't know what that looks like. I don't know what it means as far as Him handing out rewards. But there's going to be a reward ceremony. And the Bible says here in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and 2 Corinthians chapter 5, that He's going to test what we've done for two things. Your motive, and then did it have any eternal value. Oh, I built skyscrapers that covered the sky, as far as the eye can see. Cool, awesome! Did it have any eternal impact at helping people escape eternity without Christ and make heaven? Ah, no. It made me a lot of money. Did you use the money, any of it to advance the cause of Christ? Well, no. We had to keep using it for the next thing.
So we, that's just the way corporations work. It had no eternal value. Someone else might have built the same amount of skyscrapers but had a way of impacting and bringing Christ in and helping orphanages and churches and doing things that mattered for eternity. I don't know exactly. All I know is, it says in the Word that each one stands alone. And that each one will have their motives and what they have done for Him. Tested. Now some people automatic will, "Oh, great Leon. You're the senior pastor. You're going to have like wooo"! And I'm going to have like this little... Actually it's the other way around. The Bible teaches there are some who get rewarded down here for what they do. And the Bible actually says those who are called to be pastors and teachers of the Word, the five-fold ministry, have a greater judgment.
And so they need to be careful. But then He's not judging you and I on the basis of who accomplished more. It's what He's asked you to do. And so I can see someone standing in front no one even knows who they are and stunning things as they laboured and loved and did things for the cause of Christ. This Book of Work, see, there's a Book of Life, where you can even make heaven without being in there and knowing Christ. But the Book of Works is talked about where even if you put a cup of water, it was recorded. And I don't know who it was that put that glass of water there. So I can't even thank them. But the Book of Works did not miss that glass of water. He who gives a cup of water in the name of the Lord will not lose his reward.
And so I want to challenge you today. That we must live our lives with the gifts and the abilities He's given us, marriages, homes, careers, whatever area that you're called to be and go for it! Succeed, rise up. God is into success. He is just not into you worshipping it, following it, or it determining what you do with your life. Jesus said in Matthew 6, we got to put His kingdom first. And this is where it's really crucial. In 1 Corinthians 3 it says, "Do you not discern and understand that you are God's temple His whole church, and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you, to be at home in you individually and collectively as a church. If anyone does hurt to God's temple or corrupts it with false doctrines or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy and sacred to Him and that temple, you the believing church are, and individually are".
That's kind of a sobering New Testament verse. How crucial and important His church is. I want to challenge you today. That when I begin to teach on this and I begin to unpack and go to the scripture with our church. I remember the first Sunday, we had 470 people who put their name on a list to begin to train, to be volunteers, to work with kids, and cameras in any area. And since then we've always tried to make this teaching which is from God's Word a part of our culture. That it's not a church of professionals where, "I'm the professional and you're all the rookies". No. It is a church where we all are the church and every one of us are called to use in two areas. You are called to use the gifts and abilities you have in the world. Which is the mission field for all of us. But then it also teaches in multiple places that especially the household of faith, His local church.
This is where we labor and we love and we look after one another. And that these two areas are crucial. Some prefer to do their career come to church and just be looked after. But they miss out on the best friendships. The most incredible sense of purpose. This ability to be a part of a home. If I come to your house for tea or coffee, and I sit on the couch and you serve and look after me. It would be an honor to be there. But if I get to walk into your kitchen and grab the cream myself. If I get to go into the cupboard and grab the cookies myself. It means I'm at a level far higher in your world. I'm a close friend, or a family member. And in the church of Jesus Christ, until we begin to volunteer especially for the household of faith. Someone said to me, "Leon, well, Jesus loves the whole world".
Of course, He did. He died for them. But then why does it say, "Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church"? The church has a very special place in God's heart. I'm not talking about the religious junk that's out there. I'm talking about the true church of Jesus where Jesus is raised up. And I want you to know that if this is your church, and this is where you'd like to put your roots down. That you need to give your life to Christ because He'll never forced Himself into your world. Freedom came from God. He'll never manipulate you, never make you serve Him. But when you choose Him, He comes into your life and into your world in an incredible way. And you have to understand that. Then volunteering, or saying God.
You know, people can say, "Well, you know, God's going to really enjoy me. I mean, here's my credentials. Technically, I have this many degrees over here. And I want you to know that everybody thinks I'm talented. Here's a list of my gifts. And I want you to know as well that this here is what I feel I'll be good at and I want to come to you". See, the church of Jesus Christ, Jesus didn't say He was looking for gifted people. He said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers".
Now, as we all get together and flow together, who is gifted in what area we find. I mean, they won't let me play guitar. I tried. They won't even give me a mic to sing in the band. I tried. He makes crows and chickadees and I fall into one realm or the other. So and we don't let people handle the camera. They can't even hold it steady. We don't let people do... so all of us learn and grow in our gifts. The Bible says that a man's gift makes way for him. It doesn't say make way for your gift. Instead we are to come together as a church, as a family. And hold our gifts in an open hand and say, "Jesus, I'll just serve anywhere and labour. But so here's my gifts. I'm holding with an open hand. Whenever you feel I should use them or not. But I want to be a part of your family".
Last story I want to share with you comes from a bit of my history as a, in my late teens I began to work in a hospital. I was a part of a paramedic program trained in the hospital. And so I worked at the OR's. I worked at resus rooms for years. And I got a chance to look at hospital protocol. And we have doctors in our church so I'm going to tease you a little bit. Just love me anyway. But, you know, a doctor would park his car right in the spot with his name on it. As he walked down the first hallway, he'd be walking by garbage on the floor. He never bent over to pick it up. He's a gifted surgeon. He's on his way to the second floor OR's and he's going to be doing surgery there. So he walks right past the garbage.
Now, on the first floor as well was hospitality and the cafeteria. They're short on cooks and people that clean dishes. But he doesn't stop there even though it's just pandemonium. He gets on the elevator, goes to the second floor, walks right by the nursery and the babies where they're short of nurses today. And so babies are crying and they're not being bottles. They're not being changed. They're short staffed there. He doesn't stop and help out the nurses. He doesn't help out in any area. He's a doctor. He's gifted. He's called. He's on his way to the OR. He walks in the OR's. He scrubs up with special sponges and gets different things so he's clean. And then he puts his hands out and they come and dress him and put his gown on. They'll put his gloves on, and they walk in into surgery. And, you know, he just says, "Clamp". And right into, and they have a certain way and a certain finger. He grabs it and he put, and if he's got his hands in the, in the incision and he has an itch.
Well, nobody wants a doctor to have an itchy nose while he's cutting in your stomach. So he will say, "I have an itch on my nose". And a help will reach over and... you never know where he's going to have an itch. And I've seen this in pretty bad places, where just help this poor guy out. He's got surgery to finish. When he's done his surgery, they literally help him undress. He throws it in the garbage. And he walks out to his car, helping nobody else and he heads home. When he gets home, he parks his car in the garage. And he notices no one brought the bins back from the road. So he takes the bins and puts them in their proper spot. He sees the garbage on the walkway and he bends over and picks up the garbage and throws it in the trash. He notices the hose. It's still unwound from when they're watering the lawn. He winds it up. Puts it back in its place.
As he gets to the door, the door opens and his wife hands him the baby and says, "Could you change her? I got to finish up supper". He grabs the baby and he goes and he changes its bum. Then they sit down and they eat. And then she hands him the dish rag, "Could you just finish? I'll go feed her and put her to bed". So he does the dishes. Then they'll vacuum the carpet and help his wife out. So they can have some hours together that evening. You kind of go, "What in the world is the difference"? Here, he won't do anything but his gift. But over here, he'll do anything. Well, over here. He's home. These are the women he loves. And when you're home, nothing is ever too low to help out, reach out, pick up some garbage, change your baby's bum, park cars, work with kids, make a latte. It's family.
And I want you to know that here at Springs, we're not trying to determine people's giftedness and careers. We're just trying to say to everybody, we're home. When we're at home, we grab a towel, we grab a baby. We help out somewhere. And it's in that kind of an atmosphere that you will find a sense of belonging, a sense of love, where you'll make your best friendships. And I want to challenge you today. That I don't know where you're coming from even if you're new here. You've been here for a few weeks. You've been here for years. But to come to a church and just be kind of a member is kind of the most unhappy way to do church, to be a ministering member where you roll up your sleeves and say, "I just want to help out. Where do you have a need because this is home. And I don't mind helping out everybody here that, you know", and that is where your heart will grow and you will sense this incredible joy and love and belonging.
And then as you do that in a church that is a life-giving church, Psalms 92 says put your roots down until it affects your generations. Psalms says your kids will be like olive trees planted around you. That for generations you'll see the blessing and the favour of God. There is something about the nuclear family today. As you just pull up roots and keep moving around, I get the fact that we need to be a part of a church that's doing something. That is filled with the presence of God. But once you find to put down roots. You're never going to find a perfect church. That's why you can go. And nobody in the church is going to be perfect including the pastors.
So you got to kind of have a little attitude. That's why we say, "Love, accept, forgive". It's for each of us, for all of us. But they're together. We can build a team like I said we'll touch the nation. The messages, the things that are built here. The leaders who were raising up. The kids finding out who they are in Christ. People, this is like a hospital. Where people come wounded and hurting and broken. Broken hearts, broken bodies, broken relationships, and Jesus heals and He makes them whole. It's a neonatal unit where people who are new in the things of God, find out who they are, and they begin to change the beliefs of their heart. So they can rise up and be everything God designed them and made them to be. Church is the most beautiful gorgeous thing on the planet when you understand what it is and you do it right.