How many of you have been to the hoover dam?
A few years ago, my wife and I took a road trip, we went to the Grand Canyon, Scottsdale Arizona, Las Vegas, and the hoover dam.
For those of you who don’t know, hover dam is this MASSIVE concrete dam that’s right between Nevada and Arizona. It’s in the ‘Black Canyon’ of the Colorado River.
Hoover dam is 726 feet high and 1244 feet wide.
Hoover dam is 45 feet thick at the top, and 650 feet thick at the bottom. That’s more than 2 football fields thick.
It took more than 10,000 people to build the damn and more than 100 people died during it’s construction. Many of them by falling off the 726 feet high dam.
Hoover dam consists of nearly 4.5 million cubic yards of concrete. This is enough to build 3000 miles of full sized highway. Enough to span from one end of the United States to the other.
Additionally, the dam required about five million barrels of cement, nearly equaling the total quantity of cement used in the US in the previous 27 years.
The dam’s energy helps keep the lights on for customers in California, Arizona, and Nevada and creates enough power for 1.3 million people.
Human accomplishment It’s really a pretty amazing thing seeing this huge human accomplishment that cost people their lives. An accomplishment that cost many people everything, but didn’t cost ME anything.
Backstory: God is preparing to bring his people into the promised land.
When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, (Deuteronomy 6:10)
houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, (Deuteronomy 6:11)
be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:12)
So what’s going on here is that God is going to bring these people in the ‘promised land’ and there they’re going to live in cities that they didn’t build, wells that they didn’t dig, vineyards that they didn’t plant. They will live in a reality that they didn’t earn. And God is telling them to not forget how they got there.
That idea of coming into something I didn’t build, that really resonates with me.
Me : 3rd generation Christian
Lutheran / Quaker Oats
I am what you’d call a third generation Christian. Well actually, likely much more than that. Both sides on my family have Christians rolling back as far as I know.
On one side on my family, I have a rich tradition of Christians committed to the Lutheran tradition. And the other side Christians committed to the quaker tradition.
For those of you who don’t know, the Quakers are a peace oriented Christian movement. – Picture the nice man on the front of a Quaker Oats tub.
My great great grandfather ‘Charles Whitely’ was a quaker minister and missionary. (PIC)
So Christianity is in my bones.
I grew up in church, THIS church as a matter of fact. For as long back as I can think.
I’ve been attending this church since before I was born.
Born into faith structure ≠ choose.
And so I was born into this faith structure that I didn’t choose. It was chosen and built for me.
And one thing that’s amazing: I’ll go back and look at photos from 20 years ago when I was in youth, and I’m shocked and I think “Where the heck are all these people?”
75% percent of churched high schoolers drop out of the church—permanently—by the time they graduate from college.
If you’re thinking “I don’t like that statistic! Just imagine how it feels as someone who was a youth pastor for a decade.
And what’s really crazy is that it seems like the people who we’re born into a life a faith like I was, were the ones LEAST excited about God and church.
I truly think that one of the main reasons is that they never CHOSE Christ, Christ was chosen for them.
We have 3 chairs.
So this morning we have these 3 chairs. And I want you to try and visualize which chair you’re sitting in.
(1.’s – stand up)
You’re the people that represent people sitting in:.
The Committed Chair
NOT just talking about people who were the first in their family to follow Jesus, but these are people who have personally really gone after Jesus with their whole heart. It’s not a ‘have to’ thing, it’s a ‘get to’ thing. They’re passionate, they’re alive.
(2.’s – stand up)
You’re the people sitting in :
The Casual Chair
These are not bad people, they’re our brothers and sisters, they’re gonna go to heaven when they die. But somethings different. Because for these people, their relationship with God is on cruise-control. And if I’m being honest, I think that most people in the church today, are sitting in that second chair.
(3.’s – stand up)
You’re the people sitting in:
The Confused Chair
These are people who are not sitting in the committed chair, or even the casual chair, these people are honestly not sure WHAT they believe.
“Which Chair are you in?”
Chair 1 – Personal Experience
Chair 2 – Secondhand Experience
Chair 3 – No Experience
Chair 1 – I know God
Chair 2 – I think I know God
Chair 3 – I don’t know God
Christianity degenerating – generations.
Christianity has this way of degenerating through the generations. Where someone is committed and passionate about God. And then they have a kid, and that kid occupies the 2nd chair – the casual chair. And then they have a kid and that kid occupies the 3rd chair, the confused chair.
You can actually see this pattern in the bible.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
1st Chair – The man sitting in the first chair, the committed chair, is a man named ‘Abraham’. Abraham knew God first hand. He spoke with God, he sought God out.
2nd Chair – The man sitting in the second chair, the casual chair is Abraham’s son, a man named ‘Isaac’. Isaac (and I’m over-simplifying here) really in a lot of ways, rode on the coattails on his dads relationship with God. He was on cruise control. But still said his prayers. He was DECENT.
3rd Chair – The man sitting in the third chair is a man named ‘Jacob’. We call him ‘Jacob the deceiver’.
So you can see over 3 generations, how the relationship with God begins to get less and less important.
Nation of Israel
This is true not just for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but actually the nation of Israel as a whole, too. You can see as their story goes on, the language begins to shift.
1. “Israel knew the Lord and knew his works.”
They had real, first hand knowledge of God and firsthand knowledge of the things he did. They saw him deliver them from Egypt, they saw him part the red sea.
2. “Israel knew the Lord and knew OF his works.”
They still knew God, but they had just heard “ABOUT” the things he did.
3. “Israel knew not the Lord and knew not his works.”
This was a generation that was completely confused about God. They had honestly no idea.
- King David – David lived for God.
- Solomon – Solomon lived for himself. (At least for huge portions of his life)
- Rehoboam – Rehoboam never learned how to live. His life was awful.
David beautiful heart for God : Fizzle – generations. You could see this beautiful heart for God in David (the Bible describes David as a man after God’s own heart) you can see it slowly start to fizzle out as the generations go on.
“Which Chair are you in?”
You’re in one of these chairs. Are you in the committed chair, the casual chair, or the confused chair? Don’t get the idea that being the first Christian in your family is the only way to sit in this first chair. It’s about being committed to God personally, and not through someone else.
B/C the people in chair 2 and chair 3 don’t last long in the Christian faith. Briefly talk to the people in each chair.
Chair 1. the committed chair.
And I especially want to address the people who have been serving God for a long time and are now thinking about their faith passing on to the next generation.
Courageously support the next generation having their OWN experience with God.
Don’t force or expect the next generation to relive your experience.
And let me just say to you parents who are passionate about God and don’t understand why your teenager doesn’t seem to care about God at all. Well it may be that they’re trying to live off YOUR experience.
It’s not gonna work. They’re gonna have to have their OWN experience. And it might look very different than yours.
One of the ways to keep you child in the casual seat is by insisting that they relive YOUR past.
Whitecross – (Video) When I was younger, my favorite band in the whole word was Whitecross. Does anyone even remember Whitecross? There’s actually a part of me that still thinks that’s awesome.
But now imagine that what I want to do is pass on my love for music to my daughter Grace. And let’s say I insist that her music looking like whitecross. I’m going to handicap her love for music.
There’s nothing wrong with me loving whitecross. And my intentions are good. But one of the ways that I can insure that she WON’T love music is by insisting that she relive MY past.
Pentecostal church Some of you might think that’s funny, but for some of our older brothers and sisters in the room, I could show you a Pentecostal church service for 30 years ago, and you’ll get slain in the spirit all over again. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just like there’s nothing wrong with me loving whitecross. But each generation has their own identity and style and flavor. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.
We don’t nuke the old way, we build on the old way, but it will look different. And my encouragement for you christians that have been following God for a long time, is to not becoming so dogmatic in the expression that you pinch off the next generation from having their OWN experience.
Me : OMS : Parents @ concerts. My parents coming to my concerts, doubt they loved weird alternative rock played by teenagers, but they were there cheering me on.
The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua … (Judges 2:7)
Joshua … the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. (Judges 2:8)
… and another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)
A generation died off, and another one raised up in their place but they didn’t know God.
If you stop trying to relive the glory days, you might be surprised at how open and eager young people are to include you in their lives. You have something important to give. Don’t take yourself out of the game by being stubborn.
Chair 2. The Casual chair.
It’s time for you to experience (or re-experience) God for yourself.
For some of you, you’ve never really had a meaningful experience with God and so you are literally running on fumes.
Me : brainy As I’m sure most of you know, I’m a pretty brainy guy. And I love thinking, and understanding, and studying. But I’ll be the first to tell you that understanding God with your head will not sustain you. Time and time again when I find myself confused by the world or confused by the Christian faith, it’s my personal experience with God that gets me through.
Let’s read Deuteronomy 6 again:
be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:12)
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
When the Israelites were having unbelievable adversity, God told them to REMEMBER their past experiences with God. But for some of you, there’s nothing to remember. And you can’t live off your parents’ experiences.
For others of you, you used be in chair 1., but if you’re being honest, you’ve slipped into chair 2. It’s the easiest thing in the world to drift to that middle chair.
No one can tell.
If I’m being honest, me, Pastor David, all-star Christian, I’m going to be real honest here and say that there a lots of times in my life where I slip back into the casual chair.
Spiritual slumps are a lot like a great bed. They’re easy to get into, but real hard to get out of.
You never stop fighting to stay in the first chair.
Chair 3. The Confused chair.
Maybe you’re here this morning and you have no idea what you think about the whole God thing. And if that is you, then we want to say gosh we’re so glad you’re here. Maybe you’re here and you think all this ‘spiritual experience’ talk is weird and spooky and you just want to get out of here.
I have some advice you that at first might sound simplistic, but I have many friends who used to be atheists and almost all of their journeys into faith started with this first step:
Focus on Jesus alone
Jesus is starting point for the Christian faith. But Jesus is the centering principle. Everything else is going to radiate from that.
We live in a culture where everyone is screaming their opinion and the Christian faith is no different. And especially when Christians start taking shots at each other, the confused among us have no idea what to hold on to. And the answer to that is the life and teachings of Jesus.
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
For those of you in chair 3 that are coming to Storm my prayer and our belief is that you will leave Storm uncomplicated, uncluttered, in simplicity, rooted in God’s love for you.
So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham. (Genesis 26:15)
Isaac dug again the wells which were dug in the days of his father. (Genesis 26:18)
So the wells that his father dug up, got filled in with dirt. So Isaac came and redug his own wells. This is a second generation christian, digging his own well.
I think for some people, this is a week for you to redig your own well. To experience God for the first time, or the 1,000th time.
Closing Statement: Which chair are you in? Are you in the committed chair? Maybe the casual chair? Or perhaps the confused chair.
For those of you who has sat in the first chair, the committed chair for years and years, remember that you have an crucial part to play in helping the next generation of Christians. But they can’t do it through your experiences with God. They will have to dig their own wells. Don’t be a discouragement to them. Encourage them to follow after God with their whole heart.
For those of you sitting the second chair, the casual chair, it’s time for you to have your own experience with God. To know him personally. To experience him personally. Get your butt out of cruise control and start following after God with commitment.
For those of you sitting in the third chair, the confused chair, spend this week focusing on Jesus alone. In a world of highly argumentative religion, just put the blinders on and focus on Jesus alone. When you do that, the confusion will start to lift.
No matter what chair you’re in, remember that you alone bear the responsibility of the condition of your heart. So stay watchful and vigilant, guarding your heart and fighting for the committed chair.