The Power of "NO"

 


April 6, 2014, Pastor Chuck

 


May 4, 2014, Pastor Chuck

Breathing life into people is a choice we make daily. What I mean is that we will meet individuals who are hurting, searching for significance, trying to break the cycles in their lives that are draining them, and who need to encounter the love of Christ.  I receive calls every week at the church from those in need of assistance; many are people I don’t know who are just totally desperate.  In serving and loving someone, frustration can sometimes follow.  At some point the realization hits that we cannot take the place of Christ in the life of another person.  We can love like Him, we can encourage like Him, we can help take care of needs like Him, we can give guidance like Him, but we can’t transform their lives like Him.  They have to choose to allow Him to do that. There have been moments over the years that I have been devastated by people in whom I invested my love and time, only to have them go right back to the place from which they came. It breaks my heart because I see that they want to live a life for Christ but not to the point that it can make a difference for them forever.  They treat a relationship with Him as if they are putting a Band-Aid on an open sore.  Once it stops bleeding they take the Band-Aid off.Chuck experienced the same kind of frustration just a few years ago. From the outside looking in, Journey was thriving and at the top of its game.  Our numbers were through the roof, and that included nearly 100 college students.  We were the cool church in town.  God did a lot of great things at our little church in Howard, Ohio.  We had an amazing staff who thought up effective strategies and programs for bringing more people in on Sunday mornings.  Journey Church was fun…plain and simple. Chuck gave relative teachings and principles to live by, and the worship team rocked just like they do now.  Journey was very “seeker friendly.” You might be asking what is so frustrating about that scenario.Frankly, we had a lot of people come and go. The reality is people are not transformed by just listening to a good Bible teaching and trying to apply it.  They will come up empty if the application is not Holy Spirit driven and a result of living in His Presence regularly.  Transformation doesn’t come from cool strategies and being “relevant.”  It doesn’t come from going through the motions of being a Christian. Following Jesus in America can look like “I will follow Him as long as:  it’s convenient; I don’t have to sacrifice things; I can get what I want; I don’t have to deny myself.  The Gospel message is about HIM.  In America we make it about people.  The rest of the world is not caught up in the “me, me, me” mentality of entertainment and consumerism, in other words, the gospel of ME.The scripture Chuck unpacked on Sunday is Revelation 3:14-22 about the Church of Laodicea.  This is a picture of the Church in end times. Laodicea was a very wealthy city and was known for its banking industry, manufacturing wool, and a medical school that produced eye salve. But the city had always had a problem with its water supply.  At one time an aqueduct was built to bring water to the city from hot springs.  But by the time water reached the city, it was neither hot nor refreshingly cool—only lukewarm.  In the text, Jesus gives the Church of Laodicea a reality check that they are becoming as flavorless as the tepid water. They are so distracted with wealth and other things that they are maintaining their faith in a half-hearted way.  They were indifferent to the things of Christ; passionless, if you will. From the outside looking in, the Church of Laodicea looked like the cool place to be; full of wealth and luxury, a place for people to be comfortable.  The problem with getting too comfortable is that it can lead to complacency.During this major growth time at Journey, Chuck began seeing some things that the rest of us wouldn’t be privy to. People who came to Journey struggling and appearing to make positive changes in their lives began to revert back to their old lifestyles. It was good to go to church on Sunday, but they wanted to live their own way throughout the week.  They heard all of the principles Chuck was teaching and took advantage of some of the programs offered, and yet they remained lukewarm to the things of Christ. Journey had become a social club for many who walked through the doors.  It was at the peak of Journey’s success that God spoke to Chuck about the value of living in His Presence for true transformation.Chuck was very straightforward on Sunday when he said that Journey Church cannot be the way we used to be because Jesus said we have to be more concerned with the things to pursue more of Him. We can still have a great worship band, donuts, coffee, a good kid’s program, etc. The difference comes in the motivation of our intentions:  Are we serving the wants of people or is our focus on worshipping and increasing our intimacy with Him?This is Chuck’s vision for Journey now…

  • We want you to be uncomfortable…

-          Jesus calls the shots to the point of us being uncomfortable-          If money is a problem in your life He’ll tell you to give it away – whatever rules over Him in our lives, He will tell us to get rid of it.-          God is drawn to our hunger-          Although some people at Journey are uncomfortable with the intimacy in worship and the experience of expression, it is necessary for us to focus on the hungry. We understand that there are those who are not ready for this kind of experience.-          We can have the most of the Kingdom as we want, but He can only transform the parts of our lives that we give Him.-          Our worship is to encounter intimacy with Him-          We love each other in spite of our differences

  • We want to offend your way of thinking…

-          God doesn’t want us to follow Him because we know everything He’s doing.  God is good all of the time.

  • We’re going to push you to take risks…

-          Jesus said If you believe you’ll see more of Him—Peter walked on the water-          He calls us to get out of the boat

  • We’re going to talk about money…

-          Journey hasn’t taken an offering in the past, but Jesus talked about our stuff and generous giving-          We are keeping people from God when we are afraid to offend others and our hearts are not about giving

  • We are being asked to sacrifice…

-          Jesus wants to be Lord our lives not just the Savior-          We have to allow Him to set our course-          He wants us to get out of our seats and DO SOMETHING! God isn’t interested in our perfection and performance. He wants us to honestly pursue an intimate relationship with Him, knowing full well that we are going to mess up.  Our journey is about progress, not perfection. As we understand more about whom we are in Him and what He did for us on the cross, transformation takes place in us; sometimes in areas we never knew needed transformation.

 

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