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 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 and do nothing.
It's one of the most beautiful places in the world and he misses 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.
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 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)
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'.
Very common - The Bible - that 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.
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. "This is my land. This is my country. I'm not concerned with what's going on out there. I'm just concerned about my area right here."
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.
Abraham's response to this big, vague, open-ended invitation of God is 'Yes'. Abraham says yes to God.
Paul tells us in Romans 4, that's the only noble thing Abraham does.
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, 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)
What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
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 says 'Yes'.
Almost never does God tell someone exactly where they're going, and it's this 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 believing things you can't see.
John 3 we see this awesome encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. We don't know much about Nicodemus, only that he's a religious ruler of some sort, and we know that he comes to Jesus at night.
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 that actually MEETING Jesus.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. (John 3:1)
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)
“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)
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)
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)
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 yet 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 of 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. My daughter grace is 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 really goes against the way some people want to see Christianity. As this thing that creates a safe, stagnant, predictable life.
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 that meets in this room, 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 lead this church someday.' - said no one! But I honestly think God knew.
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!" And it's this exact wildness that we're always trying to protect ourselves from.
Never think that following Jesus will result in a safe life.
Following Jesus is always going to require trust. We desperately want a religion where we don't have to trust.
Anne Lamott - "Help Thanks Wow" (Prayer)
Anne Lamott who's a really interesting author she says that she believes all prayer boils down to one of those 3 words: "Help Thanks Wow" And I really like those words, 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 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.
So much of the Christian life is learning to say Yes to God
"Life 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.
Many of us hate that. "God I'm happy living on yesterday's faith so long as it means I don't have to get up and leave this spot." Here's what's so counter-intuitive about the Faith of Abraham - We think that having to leave and march forward is the think 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 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. And our instinct will always be to tether down where we are, even if it kills us, we want to stay HERE.
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 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.
What I have to do, is just say yes. Which isn't always easy.
My favorite line in the entire book of revelation: "They follow the Lamb wherever he goes."
And so I need to tell you about some changes that are happening here at the church that are going to affect you. Not immediately, but in the next 6 months.
I believe I'm called to Pastor of a great church. I haven't always believed that. In fact many people believed that ABOUT me before I ever believed it. But I do believe it. And not just any church, but this church. And the pastors of this church who you guys met - Marshall and Cindi believe that about me and my wife Jordan as well.
As so even as we started Outlet, the question was always 'what would ultimately happen to Outlet when it was time for me to Pastor the church as a whole?' And honestly many of us thought that Outlet would go away because it would become unnecessary once I take the church over. So it would be something that's separate from the church as a whole, and would have a hard end-date.
Well what I didn't expect was how important Outlet would become to me and how foundational it would become to the way I see the church.
So now - plan has changed. - Grow INTO church.
So now instead of Outlet just ending at some point in the future, I believe Outlet needs to continue on and grow into the church. And that requires that we make some changes…
(Phase 1 / Phase 2)
I'm not going away. In fact, just the opposite. I'm putting roots down. I don't want to just be your pastor at a bible study you go, I want to be your pastor for 30 years. I want to pastor a church that you raise your kids in. So nothing about this has anything to do with me leaving. This is me doubling down.
Instead of this being a bible study that you go to, this can be a church that you raise your family in.
2. This Community
This Community - Part of what this is all about is knowing that what we've built here is too beautiful. But I knew that eventually we were going to have to either end it or invest in it. So that's what we're doing.
As they pass : Spend a minute thinking about:
The center of your life - Is it Jesus? Or maybe do you need His help rearranging?
That's what his grace does. It fixes broken things. - Broken ways of thinking / acting. It's so easy to say that "Jesus is Lord" and yet so easy to wander off and make something/someone else Lord.
Tonight: as you take communion, I want you, in your own way, to say to Jesus "You're my king. You're my Lord. And I'll go where you say to go.
(Invitation) / (Pray )
Remember death Proclaim resurrection Await return
(Prayer for the Poor)