(Turn: Genesis 12)
Happy Father's Day
The happiest of father's day to all the dads out out there.
I've been a father for almost 3 years now. My daughter loves to come in to the bathroom when I pee and flush for me and scream "Bye pee! I love you Pee!" - Always entertaining, especially in public restrooms.
Grateful to our Pastors leadership through all this
You know I see a lot of Pastors right now taking the bait. It's really to get all hot and bothered about stuff and make it us vs. them.
To in a time like this to have Pastors who can lead us, not by their emotion, but into the way of Jesus. I think that's something really wonderful.
There are so many things going on it the world right now, and I know there's people who are wanting to hear from me. I AM planning on talking a little bit about our current climate but NEXT WEEK.
Is it ok if for this morning I just teach the bible? Like, is there still a place for that in the world we find ourselves in?
Title : Father Abraham
Jack Hermit Lakes
So my parents have a dog, he's a large weiner dog, named Jack who we all really love. Well years ago my grandparents had this cabin in Colorado that the family would sometimes go to. It was in this secluded valley surrounded by these mountains, it was really beautiful. Well one year we took dog the wiener dog Jack up with us. And I was expecting his to roam the fields and chase after birds, and jump into the lakes and have the time of his life.
Well that didn't happen. See, jack was afraid that we were gonna leave without him, that's our guess, so when we'd go on all these adventures, he'd just sit by the door of the door and do nothing.
It's one of the most beautiful places in the world and he missed it because he just stays by the door.
Fear kept him on porch. And for so many people, fear ends up keeping them living a big life.
And as I've talked to people, I hear so many people that feel like they're not sure who they are yet in this new world.
And the millions of unanswered questions swirling around in all of our heads.
I have a daughter who's about to turn 3 years old. What is school going to look like for her generation? Many of the positive changes schools have made over the lawt 5 or 10 years was getting kids to interact with each other, and playing together, and putting their hands on stuff together. So now are all the kids gonna have to sit 6 feet away from each other?
Or you think law enforcement. As most of you know, my best friend is a cop for APD. He says it's an impossible job right now. He says he gets treated like absolute garbage everywhere he goes. And that should surprise no one. So the question then becomes, what does policing look like in the future? Where do we go from here?
Or think about the church, this church and most churches are very much in a season where we're not sure what comes next. You know what I mean? What does baptism look like? Communion? Laying our hands on people to pray for them. Community groups, grow classes, there's just a million question marks right now.
I feel like the misery stew that has been the last 3 months for society has left us all wondering what comes next.
I keep getting this sense of people being uncertain. Uncertain about the future and uncertain about what God would have us do in this next season.
If you identify with that at all, will you through your masks say "Yes."
This isn't a new challenge:
The initial forming of the people of God.
Center around the patriarch of our faith - Abraham and his wife Sarah (Abram and Sarai). Gen 11 ends with the fact that Abraham and Sarah are barron and unable to have children. This isn't some sort of judgement on them by God, this is simply a matter of being old.
Abraham is 75 years old. / Sarai 65
And then in Genesis 12, the story shifts and a story about barrenness becomes a story about new life and resurrection.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse whoever curses you; and all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
World Blessed through You
God says - I'm going to bring the world back into order - I'm going to heal the world - and I'm going to do it through you.
They got this amazing promise "all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.” This promise is given again and again and again.
God makes it clear that his people are here so that all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
Have we always lived up to that calling? Far from it. HUGE missteps and mistakes.
But broadly speaking, have the people of God been a blessing to the world? Of course.
Remember Hurricane Harvey? 2017. 80% of relief contributions came from Christians.
70% of hospitals in impoverished areas of the world are run by Christians.
Why? Because 4000 years ago, God called us to be a blessing to the world.
So God gives Abraham that promise, but it's also instruction. What does God tell Abram to do? Let's look again at v1:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)
Amazing, the only instruction God gives is "Go". Leave your country, leave your fathers household. There is no clear destination, there is no GPS, there is no map, there is no 'Turn left at the dairy queen.' - It's just "go". Doesn't tell him how to get there, he just simply says 'Go'.
And look at Abraham response
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. (Genesis 12:4)
He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. (Genesis 12:5)
Abraham's response to this big, vague, open-ended invitation of God is 'Yes'. Abraham says yes to God.
To a modern audience, that sounds unwise.
"Hey everybody I'm leaving! Nice knowing you!" "Where are going?" "Not sure! The Lord will reveal it to me." - I'm trying to think, as a pastor, what my response would be to something like this. Let's say Pastor Brad came to me and said "David I'm leaving. Me, Chloe, and Clive, Forrest. We're going." "Where to?" "Not sure. Bye."
But the Bible is filled page after page after page with people who are taking these exact kind of steps of faith.
Where they don't have all the answers, where they don't have everything all figured out. They just know the word from the Lord is 'Go', so they go.
The reality is that real faith usually looks like the faith of Abraham. Where you don't have all the answers, you don't know exactly where you're going and you wouldn't even know if you've arrived. All you know is that you can't sit still.
And so it's funny and maybe a little tragic that Christians have spent so much effort making a religion that is safe, and predictable. For the majority of the people in the bible, following God led them to a life that was anything BUT predictable.
Picture yourself in Abraham's shoes, and what you would do. Abram is living in the lap of luxury. Relatively speaking, this is 2000BC, it's not like they had iphones and flat screen tvs. He was rich in livestock and had both servants and admirerers.
And then one day God says - "Yeah it's time for you to leave everything you've ever known and travel to a new land, so start walking, and I'll tell you when you get there."
And Abraham, amazingly, says yes.
Paul tells us in Romans 4, that's one of the few noble things Abraham does.
In Romans, Paul is teaching us that we are justified by faith in God and not by works.
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, (“according to the flesh” simply means that Abraham was an ancestor of the Jewish people. He is also, in a spiritual sense, “the father of all who believe” as it says in v11) discovered in this matter? (Romans 4:1)
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. (Romans 4:2)
Paul is saying that Abraham didn't have anything to brag about when it comes to good works.
What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
Abraham wasn't the holiest person that ever lived, he wasn't the strongest, or the bravest, or the most full of faith. But when God said 'Pack up and go' he says 'Yes'. That's why he's listed in our NT as this hero of the faith. Not because he was some brilliant thinker, or the most moral man or anything like that, it's simply that he didn't even know where he was going, but he says 'Yes'.
Can I tell you my experience? Your experience might be different and that's super cool but this is my experience: Almost never does God tell someone exactly where they're going. Almost never is following God a super clean, straight path. There's almost always winding road involved.
Which is why it requires faith.
If there's not risk, if there's not danger, it's not faith.
When everything is safe and comfortable, you don't NEED faith.
It's not faith until there's risk.
I don't want to be too basic here: But faith is evidence for things you can't see.
John 3 we see this awesome encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. Let's read:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. (John 3:1)
So Nicodemus is a Pharisee - the most strict Jewish sect. They separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed the jewish laws down to the letter.
He came to Jesus at night and said, (John 3:2a)
Of course the classic riff on him coming at night is that he's doing it out of fear. He's afraid of what people would think of him or do to him if they saw his coming up to this controversial messiah.
And I think that's totally true, but on the other hand, there's something really genuine about the people who come to Jesus at night.
If you'll remember, there's lot of people who are following Jesus because he's such an amazing teacher, and he's performing all these miracles. And people always want to be recognized BY Jesus as a way to jockey their own position. Well Nicodemus, because he comes at night, we can be sure that his motives are pure, because there's no other reason to come to Jesus in private than actually MEETING Jesus.
He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (John 3:2)
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)
Of course, we who have read the rest of the book know that he's talking about Spiritual Birth.
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)
Nicodemus thought Jesus was referring to a physical rebirth.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5)
Interesting phrase - born of water and the spirit. Most commentators believe that being born of water is your physical birth - the water being amniotic fluid or maybe semen. Welcome to church.
And born of the spirit of course refers to spiritual birth that takes place at conversion.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:6)
You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:7)
And now listen to v8. But really think about it:
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
So here Jesus refers to Christ followers as people 'Born of the Spirit' and his analogy for the spirit is the wind that blows wherever it wants. You hear the sound, but you don't know where it comes from, or where it's going.
And amazingly, this is the spirit that we follow.
Please note that Jesus doesn't say IT doesn't know where it's blowing, he just says YOU don't know where it's blowing. Which is an unsettling idea. B/C there's a certain comfort to standing still. Jesus is saying that we follow the wind, and we don't know where it comes from, and we don't know where it's going.
Baby Grace Carried around
Grace - never has any idea where we're taking her. I think about my daughter Grace, when she was a little baby, she was a church baby, so that means that she's always being passed around for person to person, this person taking her here, this person watching her for that, and I was thinking the other night, how she must have no idea where she's being carried off to 99.9% of the time. And I thought, man sometimes I feel like that. But I choose to believe that God knows what he's doing even when life doesn't make sense to me.
Which I hope can be a comfort to you in uncertain times, that as the world changes, you might start thinking, 'Uhh… God, are you sleeping? We could use a little help down here.' - To learn to trust that God is always working, always bringing hope and healing and restoration. And even when it feels like everything is just totally out of control, I have to tell you, God is still working.
I talk to a lot of Christians, who if I'm just being honest are super scared of the way the world is going. And I don't want to act all high and mighty over here, but I'm not scared.
Me : Pastor : Nobody saw coming
I think one thing that's so funny about me being the pastor here is that I grew up in this church and NOBODY saw it coming.
When I was in 7th grade, attending the youth group of this church, I actually got kicked out of youth group. I was too disrespectful. And I remember sitting in the back row when the sermon was happening with my headphones on listening to the band Pantera as loud as I could to drown out the insufferable sound of the sermon. Also I had blue hair. Did I mention that?! - Nobody was looking at me saying 'Yeah I think that guys gonna be one of the people who will lead this church into it's future.' - And I'll tell you, one of reasons that God has been able to do some pretty ok things through me is simply that I have consistently said 'yes'. I'll be honest, growing up there was many people who seemed like they would be a better fit for the ministry. But when all of them were saying "Oh I don't know, I just really feel like I should focus on myself right now." - I just said yes.
You know how they say that 90% of successful parenting is just showing up.
I think that's true for following God too.
And for me, like many of us, our life began to change when we started following the spirit. That looks and something FEELS like following the wind. Because I don't always know where it's going.
There's a certain wildness to following Jesus.
And it makes me think of that initial call to Abraham, "Go." - "Don't worry about where you're going, or when you'll get there, go!"
Anne Lamott who's a really interesting author she says that she believes all prayer boils down to these 3 words: "Help Thanks Wow" And I love that. I think that's brilliant.
If I'd just be able to add one more word to the list it would be this prayer: "Yes"
So much of prayer, and so much of the Christian life is learning to say yes to God.
The wind blows in a lot of different directions and a lot of things happen and we don't always know exactly where that's going to land for us.
"The world feels really confusing for me right now and I'm not sure where this whole thing is going, but I'm just trying to say Yes."
"It's hard for me to say where I AM right now much less where I'm GOING but I'm trying to say Yes."
We're always scared of the yes because the yes always means the same thing: Uncertainty. It means leaving the things we thought we comfortable and safe for us. I'm not saying that's easy.
But it's just the cold hard truth that for the vast majority of us, following God has brought us to new and different places. Places that for many of us, we never thought we'd be.
Here's what's so counter-intuitive about the Faith of Abraham
We think that having to leave and march forward is the thing that's going's to kill us. But the truth is: To stay where you are, THAT'LL KILL YOU.
So long as God is moving and you're not, dead ends are the only thing you have to look forward to.
If the comfort of standing still is the strongest force in your life, you'll always miss what God is doing.
Disclaimer When it comes to church:
We recite the apostles creed. We study the writings of our early church fathers. I'm not saying 'We've got to throw out the old faith and come up with a new post-modern 21st century faith. I'm not saying that.
If anything, I'm one who advocates a return back to our parents faith, and our grandparents faith, and our great grandparents faith.
It's all about following that same Jesus. But I'll tell you what: Following that Jesus will inevitably lead you on a road with lots of twists and turns.
The Good News:
If we have the courage to follow God like this, God is always doing something new, God is always opening up new opportunities, God is always bringing an opportunity for new life.
When you're truly following Jesus, there's no dead ends.
Jesus is like Houdini. Chain him up, put him in a box, throw the box in the ocean, throw away the key. There's nothing that he can't get out of.
So I just want to encourage you, if you feel like the world is spinning out of control: THIS IS WHEN GOD DOES HIS BEST WORK.
So we don't have to figure out how everything is going to work out, how everything is going to play out. That's what God's for.
2 artists paint Peace
I remember reading about 2 artists that were asked to paint a picture of 'peace'. One painted a quiet, still lake nestled up to the mountains. The other painted this huge raging waterfall and out of the waterfall was this branch, and on this branch was a nest, and sitting in that nest was a bird, just as happy as he could be.
Which do you think is more realistic?
The peace God offers in not dependant on circumstances. And isn't that what you want? Don't you want a peace that stays with you even when circumstances change?
It's father's day today. And so of course we didn't want the opportunity to pass us by without praying for the dads here and watching online. So in a minute John Woods will come join me on the platform and we'll pray for dads.
But before that, I wanted to say for all of you, certiainly dads but everyone here and online that God would help trust him even when the world feels out of control. Let's pray.
What we have to do, is just say yes. Which isn't always easy.
God have mercy on us and forgive us.
Help us to trust.