Welcome to our series on mental health called ‘Soul Care’.  Truth is we live in a world that is being torn apart and it is deeply impacting people.  How?  It is showing up in mental health issues.   Issues like discouragement, depression, anxiety, self-worth, sin, more.  It makes you wonder, where did the mental health issues come from?  It seems like it has exploded in the last few years.

Here is what we want you to see.  As our culture pulls away from God, it is doing immeasurable damage to our souls.  Am I saying mental health is 100% spiritual?  No, but this is what we know.  Our culture is pulling away from God and we are seeing a dramatic and immediate increase in mental health issues.  We must make the connection.  God created us which makes our souls spiritual.  And only God, who is spiritual, can bring rest, healing, and joy to our souls.

Remember what Paul wrote his letter called Romans?

18 God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. 19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.

21 Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. 23 And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men. TLB Romans 1:18-25

In his letter called Ephesians, Paul put it this way.

…no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. MSG Ephesians 4:17-19

Do you see it?  Do you see the connection?  If we pull away from God, if we personally don’t have time for God, if we get God out of our communities, our schools, our government, even churches, and our workplaces, we do immeasurable damage to ourselves.  Last week Sam said it perfectly.  If your soul feels restless and empty, it is telling you something, it’s sending you a message.  What is the message?  Your soul wants to be with its creator.

Let’s quickly review where we have been.  Discouragement is how our soul processes the circumstances in our lives.  Depression is how our soul processes regret.  Anxiety is how our soul processes fear.  Our self-worth is how our soul processes God’s love and acceptance of us.  Sin is how our soul processes who we trust.

If you were with us last week, you heard Sam make a transition in our series.  Moving forward, we are talking about how we restore our souls.  We want to answer questions like, how do we heal our souls?  What do we have to do to have a healthy soul?  How do we model for our children what it means to have a soul that is filled with healing, courage, and joy?

Sam last week gave us the secret in one word.  Ready?  Worship.  We restore our souls when we worship.  Everything our souls are looking for is found in worship.  I want to slow down here and ask you, what do you think about that?  When I say, everything your soul is looking for is found in worship, do you agree with that?  Do you think, ‘That sounds like something a preacher would say but it has nothing to do with real life.’  Do you think, ‘What does singing a song have to do with my soul – that sounds dumb’?

The problem is we don’t fully understand worship.  Let’s go back to the letter Paul wrote.

They knew about him [God] all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. TLB Romans 1:21-22

Do you see it?  They knew God but wouldn’t admit He was God.  They wouldn’t worship Him like He was God.  They didn’t even thank God for caring for them.  Basically, they ignored God, they didn’t focus on God.  Did you see what happened when they ignored God?  It sounds like today, doesn’t it?  Their minds became dark and confused and they claimed to be wise but became utter fools.  I love how the Message Version treats Ephesians when it says, ‘They lost touch with reality and they couldn’t think straight anymore.’  Have you noticed today as our culture pulls away from God what has been happening in our culture?  People do seem to have lost touch with reality.  We do claim to be wise, and we are making things worse.

What it means to worship God is this, we admit He is God.  We focus on God and treat Him like God.  We thank Him for caring for us.  In other words, we do what Jesus said.

Sam explained this last week.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. NIV Matthew 22:37-38

Everything your soul is looking for is found when you fully surrender your life to God and wrap your life around God.  How do we live this out practically?  How do we worship God practically?  How do we restore our souls?  Scripture makes it crystal clear.

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 [other translations say, ‘worship’]. 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

Did you see the word, ‘ordinary’?  That means it’s ordinary.  The way we live out worship for God is ordinary.  We bring the ordinary moments of our lives and fully surrender them to God.  Did you know that was worship?  We bring all of our lives and offer it to God.

You see some struggle with this because they compartmentalize.  That means they divide their lives into different subjects.  When I am at church, I act like a church person.  When I am at work or school, I act like others around me.   When I am with my family, I act the way I want.  When we compartmentalize, we think church stuff is for church and real life is my life.  The two are separated.  To the person who compartmentalizes, worship is a song we sing at church, but worship has nothing to do with the rest of my life.  And they are wrong.  Worship, according to scripture, is when I bring all those ordinary moments in all the areas of my life and offer them to God.  I act the same in all the areas of my life.  That’s called integrity.

Let’s talk about how we worship God.  To do this, I created three principles.  I did this in hopes that the principles would stick.  I hope these principles stick with you this week and hopefully long after this week.

How do we bring our ordinary lives to worship God?  Principle 1: the Hero Principle.  The Hero Principle says, we have a hero in our faith, and it’s Jesus.

Jesus was given to die for our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God. NCV Romans 4:25

Our hero is Jesus.  Why do I say this?  Because some want to be the next hero of the Christian faith.  They build themselves up and try to put themselves in front of others as proof that the local church and God needs them to build His kingdom.  They constantly look for bigger, better, more.  Their idea of success is how the world defines success.  They seem to have self-diagnosed themselves as the super mature go-to people when they can struggle to live out the simplest teachings of Jesus.

The opposite is true too.  Others feel bad because they aren’t a flashy hero type of person.  They feel lesser than others.  They can walk through life feeling like they will never add up, so they just go through the religious routines.  They struggle to see their value and understand how they can deeply impact others.

When I say the Hero Principle, do you see what I am saying – the two extremes?  This hero stuff has done tremendous damage in the Christian community.  Many Christians have the wrong idea that everything has to be amazing, huge, bigger, better, more, flashy, and on and on.  Where does this come from?  Pride.  The pride in people makes us want to appear like go to people – a hero. People have a way of seeing the exciting parts of scripture and concluding, that’s what they want.  At the same time, they ignore the rest of the story we read in scripture.  The pain and struggle that comes with the exciting parts.

For example.  I have heard people say they want to be like Paul.  Well, if you read the exciting parts when God moved through Paul to heal people, sure.  But they don’t bring up the pain Paul walked through.  He had no money, so he worked and preached.  He was beaten, whipped, stoned, cold, and naked at times.  How did it end for Paul?  He was executed.  That doesn’t sound successful.

I have heard people say they want to be an Act 2 church.  Well, if you read the exciting parts, they were eating together and sharing things, sure.  But they don’t bring up what happens after Acts 2.  After the Holy Spirit comes, Peter and John are arrested.  Ananias and Sapphira lied and then their friends had a funeral service for them.  The people in the church started fighting.  Stephen, the next great leader, is stoned to death.  That doesn’t sound successful.

Even today, people say things like, my testimony isn’t really dramatic like others, so they discount themselves and stay quiet.  We just have a way about ourselves that we either build ourselves up to be a hero of the Christian faith or feel bad about ourselves because we can’t be a hero.  Both are wrong.  Please hear me, we have a hero in our faith, and it’s Jesus.  We don’t build ourselves up and we don’t walk around feeling like we don’t add up.  We simply fully surrender our ordinary lives to God.  That’s worship.

Jesus taught,

Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. MSG Matthew 23:11-12

The Hero Principle.  We have a hero in our faith, and it’s Jesus.  Our job is to surrender our lives to Him.

How do we bring our ordinary lives to worship God?  Principle 2: the 5k Principle.  If you want to run a 5k, you must prepare.

Race day reveals what we have been doing or not doing.  You don’t ignore the race and then jump into your tights and run.  If you ignore the lifestyle of training, when the 5k gun goes off, you will be walking, limping, gasping, complaining, and making excuses as to why you have nothing to offer.  Does that sound like some Christians today?  Race day reveals if you have been training consistently.  Training when no one is around.  Training when you don’t feel like it.  Training when others are sleeping or watching Netflix.

Because life can feel so busy, what do many people conclude about living for God?  They conclude I don’t have time to give my life to God now.  It doesn’t work out for me to center my life around God, ‘maybe later’.  So, I will do the church thing now and then.

The problem with ‘maybe later’ is that we think we will be ready to face any crisis that comes our way in the future.  We think we have no time to read the Bible or pray but when life happens and when a crisis comes, you know – race day, we will rise to the occasion and we will be ready.  The truth is you won’t be ready, you will crumble.  You will be walking, limping, gasping, complaining, and making excuses as to why life and people are so terrible.

Scripture says,

When the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. TLB Galatians 5:22-23

All of those qualities are placed inside us when we give control of our lives to the Holy Spirit.  They grow and develop over time.  And they are the same qualities you need when you live life and are hit with a crisis.  When a crisis hits, it reveals what we are made of.  It reveals if we have been walking with God or it reveals if we have been ignoring God.  It’s in the private moments with God, over time, when God shapes you.  God molds you and fills your heart with the Holy Spirit.  When a crisis hits, and it will, you will be better prepared to walk through it.  And believe me, it will still be painful for you to walk through but you will be better prepared.

Jesus taught about this.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. TLB Luke 16:10

The question we have to wrestle with is, what have we done with the little things, the little moments, in our lives?  Have we been walking with God?  Have I been thinking, “I will take God seriously – ‘maybe later’?”

The 5k Principle.  If you want to run a 5k, you must prepare because race day reveals what you have been doing or not doing.  That means life and crisis are coming so we must be walking with God to prepare.

How do we bring our ordinary lives to worship God?  Principle 3: the Fire Principle.  A fire can be ordinary but it can have an extraordinary impact.

If you have a fire in your backyard fire pit, it’s normal.  If you camp, you have a fire in a fire ring before going to bed, it’s normal.  It’s probably something everyone has done.  It’s ordinary.  However, you know, and I know that an ordinary fire can have an extraordinary impact.  If it gets out of control, it can rage.

The point here is this.  Living like Jesus taught is anything but ordinary.  We can wrongly think that offering our ordinary lives as Christians means we are invited into a flavorless, mediocre, and weak life.  And it’s not.  Think about the simplest of Jesus’ teachings.  Ready?  Love your enemies.  Forgive those who hurt you and when they hurt you or disappoint you again, forgive them again.  Jesus told us in Matthew 23, that we should tithe.  Here’s why.  Give so you can store up money in heaven and when you give, give quietly.  Pray quietly, don’t be a show-off.  Fast but don’t let anyone know you are fasting.  As you live life, don’t worry about tomorrow.  As you live with people, don’t judge them.  Jesus explained a people principle to live by, treat others the way you want to be treated.  Now let’s stop here for a second.  Imagine if people made the choice to surrender their lives to Jesus and follow the simplest teachings of Jesus.  It would change everything.  You would have an extraordinary impact on everyone around you.  Imagine the impact you would have on your spouse, your kids, your workplace, and even your church.

I have to add this.  One of the biggest challenges Sam and I have faced has been how people respond to what Jesus taught.  We have experienced people who are disappointed in us because when we talk about what Jesus taught, they say we are simple and that what we say, ‘they already heard that’.  What can people do without realizing it?  While ignoring what Jesus taught, they want the deeper more complex more detailed teachings – whatever that is.

Do you see what I am saying?  We are to bring our ordinary lives to God, all of it, while at the same time living as Jesus taught.  And when you do that, like a fire, you will have an extraordinary impact.  Imagine living like that.  Imagine what would happen if a couple or family decided to live like that.  Imagine if a church lived like that.  Imagine if all the Christians lived like that.

Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees and Jesus had to explain where the kingdom of God is located.

Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?” Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.” NCV Luke 17:20-21

The kingdom is God is not seen with your eyes because it’s in you.  Well, more specifically, it’s in people who surrender their lives and live out the simplest of Jesus’ teachings.  And when you do that, you have an extraordinary impact.

The Fire Principle.  A fire can be ordinary, but it can have an extraordinary impact.  That means when we live out our ordinary lives, as we follow the simplest of Jesus’ teachings, God can have an extraordinary impact through us.

Let’s close with this.  Let’s make this talk even more real.  If you have been impacted by God here at MRC, I want you to think through a couple of questions.  Do you know the people who helped start MRC so you could come, not be judged, and experience God?  Do you know where they live or what they do for jobs?  Do you know the kind of car they drive?  Do you know how much money they sacrificially gave so you could experience God’s grace in a real way in a new church?  If you have kids, do you know the name of your kid’s Sunday School teacher today, or the Children’s leader?  If you got coffee this morning, do you know what is happening in the lives of those who gave you coffee?

Why do I ask these questions?  All these people had or have an extraordinary impact for God.  They weren’t trying to be heroes but they saw their value and they were consistent.  Like prepping for a 5k, they walked with God so God could grow and develop them.  They were or they are ordinary people but when put together, look what God did.  Like a fire, there is extraordinary impact and you were impacted by God.

That’s a picture of worship.  I bring the ordinary moments of my life, all of them, and fully surrender them to God.  And when I worship like this, God restores my soul.

What is worship to you?

How is your worship?

Does your worship inspire God?  Does God feel deeply loved by you?