Brian Welch I am Second video.
Do you know what I see and hear in this video? There is a world full of people who have been torn apart. They are in deep pain and they have no idea how much God is over-the-top in love with them. They have no idea about how God can redeem them. They have no idea about being in God’s presence. Please hear me tell you, many of them are soft hearted, kind people who made some really-bad choices. And now, they are in the middle of a huge life-crises. Pain. Addiction. Confusion. Many of them are crying out for help so they go deeper into the very painful behavior that put them into addiction. The one thing that will radically change their lives when they experience God – experience God like the prodigal son who goes home and sees his dad running to him to hug him.
Can I ask you something? When you watch that video, does that break your heart? Does it bring you to tears? Does it inspire you to want to do something? Does it open your eyes to the world you don’t live in?
As of this past summer, here in Dillsburg we call our summer months the rain season or monsoon season. Did you know in York county PA in 2018, as of this past August, there were 70 deaths because of heroin and fentanyl, and 28 suspected deaths in addition to that because of heroin and fentanyl. That’s about 25 more than in2017. Source: WGAL news.
Did you know that as of this month this year of 2018, there have been 27 human trafficking convictions in Pennsylvania? 29 ongoing cases. And an additional 14 cases that have been moved from the state to the federal level. Source: York Daily Record.
Jesus clearly told us,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. NIV John 10:10
That’s exactly what happened with Brian. That’s exactly what’s happening in our region through drugs and sex trafficking. The thief is here to steal, kill and destroy. And it almost worked on Brian. But the enemy lost because of the local church; Brian gave his life to Christ. How cool was that?
I want to ask you another question. How cool would it be if the local church was focused on reaching out to people who are torn up in this world? How cool would it be if the Christians who worshipped God would join together and ask the question, ‘How could we be better in reaching people far from God?’ How could we reach the guy with a needle in his arm? How could we rescue the girl in a tractor trailer on Rt 15? How cool would it be if attending church wasn’t about banging out a religious event? What if church was bigger than a Sunday morning event? Instead it was about you bringing your best to reach people who have been torn apart?
What do you think church is? A place where you have to come to get into heaven someday? A religious event when we try to behave and not cuss for an hour?
Have you ever thought that church might be bigger than that? You stand in the presence of God. You give God time to redeem you, heal you, so that you can go back into this world to make a difference.
Jesus told us.
If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. NLT Matthew 16:25
Do you know what that means? If you stay in your own world, if you never join a local church community, if your only concern is your retirement, comfort, safety and security, your life will be very small. You will have less passion. Less meaning. In other words, you lose your life. You can still go hunting and get that buck you always wanted. You can still get to the retirement you always wanted and have comfort. And maybe you drink it away at the VFW if you want, they have discounted wings on wings night. You can even get Penn State tickets, get really excited or really upset if they win or lose.
I took my mom and dad to a Penn State game a couple of years ago and we had a blast. We were sitting there with over 100,000 people and my dad said, “Do you know what I think about when I am in a stadium like this?” Of course I know what my father thinks, I grew up with him. I didn’t say a word, I just listened. Dad said, “I wonder how many people in this stadium will go to heaven. Can you imagine if people would give their local church the money they are giving today what the church could do? Can you imagine if they were this excited about worshipping God on a Sunday morning?”
You know, he’s right.
You can grab everything in this world for yourself and you will have lost what matters most.
But, if you give your life to Christ, Jesus told us, your life will have meaning. In that process of giving your life to Christ, you will find everything you have been looking for – true life. Your life will never be the same. What do most people conclude? They think that’s impossible. I could never give my life to Christ. I must hold on to it. I would never go ‘all in.’ As they hold on to their life, Jesus says, they lose it.
I also believe, the worst thing you could ever do with your life is continually loop in a cul-de-sac of Christian activity. That means, going through all the religious motions. Attending Bible studies, gaining knowledge, never able to find the time to apply what you learned. Always standing on the side lines waiting for others to get involved. That’s when Christianity becomes like paint-by-the-numbers kind of art. It’s easy and predictable and generic.
Jesus said it like this,
24-25 These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit-but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27 But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. MSG Matthew 7:24-27
Living in a cul-de-sac sac of Christian activity leaves you always defeated but never having the time to address why. Always showing others how happy you are, but inside you know you feel broken and sad. Always learning new spiritual things but never stopping and surrendering to Christ and applying what you learned. Doing Christian activity so appear unselfish but inside our hearts we are secretly prideful and angry when we are not validated. Always seeking success, but at the same time never building others up. Always claiming Christ is in your life, but never giving Him control of your life. The cul-de-sac sac of Christianity is the constant looping of activity and it’s defeating an exhausting. That’s not church, that’s religion.
Please, please, please hear me. If you want to awaken spiritually, it starts when you surrender to Christ. You allow God time to love you, redeem you and bring you to life again. The proof that you have surrendered to Christ is when you love your spouse and family first. The proof is when you give your life to Christ and say, I want God to work through my life to make a difference in my church, in my community.
I want to tell you what the bible says about you.
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”. MSG Romans 15:1-2
If you don’t think you are strong. If you think you have nothing to offer, you couldn’t be more wrong. Your story, your life, can bring joy and purpose to someone else.
Jesus told us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” NIV John 10:10
So how does the thief come to steal and kill and destroy? Look at your community and see what is happening, that’s how. Destroyed marriages. Deeply wounded kids. Make men feel bad for being male. Make women feel bad for being female. Offer alcohol, drugs and sex as an option for relief from pain. To others, have them believe that the more successful they are, they will find relief from pain. To others, get them stressed, worried and busy. Get them so worked up, they think it’s insane to slow down to be with God. And whatever you do, pull God out of our culture. It’s as old as time.
We can see how the thief is coming to steal, kill and destroy. But how does Jesus give life and give it to the full today?
Through the Holy Spirit in the local church and in you.
I want to close today with a few questions for you.
How cool would it be if the local church was focused on reaching out to people who are torn up in this world?
How cool would it be if the Christians who worshipped God would join together and ask the question, ‘How could we be better in reaching people far from God?’
How could we reach the guy with a needle in his arm?
How could we rescue the girl in a tractor trailer on Rt 15?
That is what we are doing at MRC. And how effective we are, depends on you. We don’t view church as a cul-de-sac of Christian activity. We see it differently. We believe something bigger is going on. It’s a mission.
If we ask you to surrender to Christ, it’s because we love you and want you to fully experience Christ. If we ask you to give 10% back to church as an act of worship back to God, it’s because that’s what the Bible taught and it enables us to reach into our community. If we ask you to serve, it’s because it matters to people who visit. If we ask you to lead, it’s because God’s kingdom needs leaders.
Let me close with this last question to think about.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the local church focused on people who have been torn up by this world?