grateful idea (1)

We live in a world at war. We have incredible value but life has torn us a apart and we have concluded that we are bad. Think about where you work, do you see the battle? Think about the community you live in, do you see that battle? Think about your own marriage and family, the battle is intense isn’t?

This past weekend I was a part of a golf tournament at Penn State. A group of us left really early to for the 9 am tee time. I only knew one of the guys. None of the others knew I was a pastor which was awesome because they were themselves. All these guys were grown, professional, wealthy men.

I actually really enjoy those moments. I feel comfortable because the guys around me really were good guys and there isn’t a fake bone in their body. All I want to do is build a relationship with them. As we got to know each other, it really hit me, these guys need to know how much God loves them. These guys just don’t see how valuable they are.

We live in a world at war. Scripture confirms what we face every day.

This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.  Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Ephesians 6:11-13

You really have an enemy who is here to shred your life. In our culture, the primary way he is coming to shred you is with distractions to keep your focus off God and business to keep you tired. If he can keep you focused on things that don’t matter and tired, he wins. Think about it, if we are focused on other things, we won’t see the war and if we do see it, we are too tired to care. We don’t see it as war, we see it as, “I’m just busy but it will get better later.”

Not only do you have an enemy, but you have a redeemer. You have a Lord and Savior who has come to redeem your soul.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. MSG Romans 3:23-24

We are a spiritual train wreck so God came to restore us. Please hear me. We are living in a world at war. It’s your life experience. Scripture confirms it. The question you should ask is, “Why doesn’t God do something about this world of pain and struggle?”

God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. MSG 2 Peter 3:8-9

Let me give you an example. God was going to hit the reset button last week and end everything but He didn’t. Why? The guys I golfed with, haven’t fallen in love with Him yet. Until the end comes, we will continue to live in a world of sin and pain. Again, we live in a world at war.

So what do we do? What is the point of church? What is my purpose? I want to talk about those questions today. Now before I move on, I have to give this disclaimer, what I am about to share with you is my personal experience with God and scripture. I’m over the top passionate about it. That being said, Godly people can read the bible and come to different conclusions and that’s okay. I think the kingdom of God is better when there are differences.

How do we do church?

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” MSG Luke 15:1-7

I read this story that Jesus shared and it inspires me out of my mind. Before we planted MRC, we literally dreamed of a place that was filled with mature, unapologetic, passionate people who said, “I’m a part of the 99 who don’t need saved, it’s not about me, it’s about the 1 that is lost!” I would give up my life to be a part of that. It bores me to think I would have to keep 99 sheep from biting each other. Ugh. Can you imagine how lifeless that would be? Please hear me.   We live in a world at war. The people around you don’t need perfect theology, they need God’s love through you. Theology is good but people need love.

Let’s think about church for a second. Do you see church was a battle ground or do you see it as a place that is comfortable and entertaining? Here is the problem. We are in a battle. MRC on Sunday is a battle ground. But we don’t see it. We see lights, movie clips and a band. Because the battle is spiritual, you don’t see that people’s lives are shredded and they are holding on for dear life.

So when someone asks us to greet, serve coffee or teach the kids, what do we think? Ugh, don’t do it. The time, the energy, the back ground checks – awful. What is happening? We don’t view church as a battle ground. We don’t see the war. We don’t see our value. We are comfortable coming late leaving early to get to the next thing. If we aren’t careful, we can become a consumer of church. A consumer is someone who just attends for the comfort or entertainment value. Or even worse, we can be religious. That’s when we sit back and weigh and measure other people’s holiness.

We live in a world at war. My bible tells me that the 1 lost person is the priority over me. So we do church for that 1 who got away. Every Sunday we face a spiritual battle.

So how do we live personally?

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. MSG Romans 12:1-2

Give your ordinary life to God. Every day, embrace, focus on what God has done for you. You have faith every day that says, “God has removed my label of ‘sinner’ and I am now ‘righteous.’ You will be so grateful.

The thing you stay away from is the spiritual sickness of our culture always dragging us down to focus on things that don’t matter. When that happens we get tired and worn out. Negative emotions follow. Jealous. Angry. Fear. Compare ourselves with others. Etc.

Couple practical things we should do.

First, always keep what God did in front of you.   Always remember, you need Christ today the same if not more than the first day you accepted Christ.

Second, understand church is a battle ground. It’s a spiritual war so you won’t see how shredded everyone is. In the invitation to serve at church isn’t about being a Walmart greeter handing out stickers, it’s about men and women saying, “We will come early, pray and prepare a place who need Christ today.”

Last. I think the greatest thing you can do outside of loving God and your family, is to be a friend to someone who doesn’t know Christ. Go biking with them. Go kayaking with them. Go to a baseball game with them.

If you struggle with that, be a volunteer and help people in need. Serve at New Hope Ministries. Serve at the Youth Impact Project. Be a coach of a sport.

I want to be very honest with you. If you don’t engage, you don’t need the Holy Spirit and your Christian experience can become about consumerism. Church will be that weird thing you go to only the weekends you serve. Life is about living every day the way you want and you try to add God to it now and then. You end up creating two worlds, your real world and the fake one when you get around church people.

The guys I golfed with, need a relationship with someone. They don’t care about my theology.