Subscribe to Graceway’s podcast

Video Podcast
Audio Podcast

Previous messages from this series

Okay, get in your Bibles to John 16:33. If you don’t have a Bible, I’d encourage you to download the Bible app. It’s called the YouVersion Bible app. Not just for this space, but for your daily time with God. It’s a great app. If you don’t have the app or don’t have a Bible, we’ll put it up on the screen behind. We’re gonna talk today about forgiveness. And because of the weight of the topic, I’m gonna pray. God, we love you. Thank you for what you’ve already done. Thank you for what you’re going to do. God, meet us exactly where we are. God, I could never possibly know let alone speak well to every circumstance in the room but you can and so we need you. Give me wisdom, give me grace, give me clarity. Give us all a receptive and humble heart. And we thank you for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen. John chapter 16 in verse 33 says this. “I have said these things to you, “that in me you may have peace.” This is a wonderful thing about God, that when you have a relationship with God, you have access to transcendent peace. The Bible actually says to peace that passes understanding. It’s not by reading a book. It’s not by understanding something. It’s not by any certain practice, meditation, lifting weights, walking, eating gluten free Keto diet, right? Those aren’t the things that give you peace. Getting you peace is who you know and who you need to know if you’re in here today, and you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, is you need to know that Jesus is the only one who is big enough to give you peace regardless of what you’re going through.

– [Congregant] Amen.

– Important for you to understand. That, “In me, you may have peace.” That’s what Jesus says. “In this world you will have tribulation.” Come on and say amen to that, right? In this world you will have difficult things. Don’t you love that God knows you’re gonna bump into things and I know what it is and I know how to help you in it. God’s not surprised by the news. God’s not surprised by what the doc said. God’s not surprised that you’re sideways with your spouse. God said, “In this world you will have tribulation. “But take heart.” Take heart. “I have overcome the world.” God says if you wanna know peace, you gotta know Him. God says I knew it was coming. And God says I declare victory. I declare victory. He offers us hope. The question is how do we lay hold of it? It’s interesting to me, you get on Amazon and just punch in forgiveness. And you will have hundreds of thousands of books that come up. Hundreds of thousands of courses. Hundreds of thousands of podcasts, TED Talks, all those kind of things saying bitterness and anger and unresolved hurts are bad for us. And yet, everybody knows it’s bad for us, but we don’t know how to let it go. We don’t know how to, and this is the title of the sermon. We don’t know how to handle hurts God’s way. And so God says I knew the hurt was coming. God says I’m here for you. God says I declare victory. So how do we lay hold on that? So I wanna talk to you today just about two very simple things. You’ve been prayed for, every seat in this auditorium has been prayed for. I’ve prayed for you over and over again. I’m praying today that whatever you walked in with, is still in that seat when you walk out. Okay, I’m praying that God can free you right on the spot. And what I’m gonna try to do is shed some light on some of the ways that we mishandle our hurts. Some of the ways that we mishandle our hurts and then I wanna just tell you how to handle hurts helpfully. It’s not that you can avoid hurts. It’s that God’s bigger than your hurt. Are you with me? Okay, so I’m gonna have the guys bring something out. I got a couple props today, all right?

– [Congregant] Yay!

– Yay, she says. Okay. And we’re gonna talk about how three ways that we mishandle our hurts today and you’ve heard these before. But I wanna give you kind of a visual illustration on all of them so that you can hopefully kinda get it into your head a little bit more. Mishandling our hurts. Give it up for the three handsome, muscular gentlemen. All right. Okay. Let’s see here, what’s under , okay, we’ll start over here. The first way that we tend to mishandle our hurts is that when we get hurt we tend to blow up. All right, we tend to blow up. That’s your blank. We tend to blow up. And it’s interesting because in the Old Testament God gives a way to His covenant people, the Israelites to handle hurts and injustice in Leviticus 24:20. Here it is. “Fracture for fracture, “eye for eye, “tooth for tooth. “Whatever injury has been given to a person “shall be given to him.” Now, I’ve read that many, many times and there’s really three reasons that God gives out. The first is so that there’s an element of fear that if I punch you in the nose, what do you get to do back to me? You get to punch me in the nose as well, right? There’s an element of equality there that we, if something happens to you, you know that that’s gonna happen back to them. But I think there’s another thing that’s interesting about this. That there’s also an element of restraint in this. Now what do I mean by that? I just want you to picture a small pocket knife. A small pocket knife. The Bible talks about our tongues have the ability to give and to take life. That they have the ability to burn things down and build things up. They have the ability to cut surgically and provide healing. Or to cut violently and provide harm. And so I just want you to imagine that somebody cuts you with something that they say or with something that they do and I want you to imagine that you’re bleeding a little bit and that you’re hurting. And that you have this thing that happens in your heart that you want retribution. You want God to do something. You want someone to stand up for you. Here’s what I’ve noticed many times about how we wanna deal with knives. We wanna use sledgehammers. Have you ever noticed this? There’s a reason that God says eye for eye, fracture for fracture, tooth for tooth. Because lots of times when you punch me in the eye, I wanna hit you in your face with this sledgehammer. Now before you laugh, some of you, I just described your marriage. Some of you, I just described your relationship to your kids that when your kid bumps you or your spouse bumps you, that your natural response isn’t equality and restraint. Your natural response is you hurt me, I’m gonna kill you. So I get this sledgehammer. And I asked the guys what I could get to hit just to make the point, right? We talked about watermelons or something I could break down. They all agreed that that probably wasn’t a good idea. But the reason that blowing up never works is because number one, even though it feels cathartic and feels good, it’s never fair. It doesn’t work. It creates more damage in our lives. It creates more damage for those around us. Because I don’t often have the emotional capacity or spiritual health to just respond to you at the level that you respond to me. And so what happens? You say something to me, and I say something to you, and you say something to me, and I say something to you. And you say something to me, and I say something to you. And you say something to me, and then, oh my gosh, out of the blue, we’re getting divorced. No, not out of the blue. You’ve been using a sledgehammer for a long time. You’ve been using the sledgehammer for a long time. That’s why God says Romans 12:19, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, “but leave it to the wrath of God, “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay'”. Truthfully, equally, fairly, helpfully, says the Lord. Do you know the reason that I pick up a sledgehammer? Because I don’t trust God to take care of it on my behalf. And because I wanna put you in a position where you can never do it to me again. And so i debilitate you. That’s what’s in my heart, right? I keep you, I damage you so badly that you’re afraid to come back and cut me. Does it ever work?

– No.

– It never works. It never works. And our relationships fall apart around it. And our culture falls apart around it. You wanna go on Facebook, you know what you see? You see a lot of sledgehammering. You wanna look at Congress, you see a lot of sledgehammering. You wanna look in the church? You see a lot of sledgehammering. Number one, blowing up is mishandling our hurts. Number two, we pass it around. We pass it around. So I got another thing for you here. Let me see what we got up under here. We got a lawn spreader. All right. Now, what is a lawn spreader? My wife and I have a good size yard and the people we bought the house from didn’t take that good of care of it. And so I looked out on the yard and I saw a bunch of stuff and so I went to Home Depot and I purchased poison. And I put a bunch of poison into this spreader and I walked around my yard intending to kill certain things so that other things could grow. Are you with me?

– Yes.

– Okay. Can I tell you what gossip is? Gossip is taking poison, typically from hurts, and spreading it around because we think that the person that we are gossiping to will be with us in it. We want to create some level of acceptance or affirmation or agreement, right? You don’t ever gossip to somebody that you think’s gonna argue with you. Amen.

– You only gossip to people that you think are going to agree with you. And it makes you feel good, but all you’ve done is covered that person in poison. Can I tell you one other thing about this? I wanna help you. If someone’s gossiping to you about somebody else, it’s just a matter of time before they’re gossiping to somebody else about you. You see, we think that if I can invite other people into my hurt it will spread out my hurt and it won’t lay solely on me. And so I pass it around, but all that I do is I damage other people. And have you ever felt better in the long term from gossiping to anybody? Never. Never. Never. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. That’s why Proverbs 16:28 says “A dishonest man spreads strife, “and a whisperer separates close friends.” You say, what do you mean a dishonest man? Here’s what’s dishonest about it. Because gossip is telling one side of the story like it’s the whole story.

– That’s right.

– Hello. Gossip is me telling somebody else my side of a story as though it’s the whole truth. And it never is. It never, ever is. Have you ever asked somebody who was gossiping kind of a clarifying question? Well, why do you think that they would do that? That doesn’t make any sense to me. And here’s what they say back to you. They say, “Whose side are you on?” Because gossip is intended to invite you over to my side with a partial truth that damages the other person. It’s amazing to me, in church world, how much gossip is allowed to go on. It’s amazing to me how many partial truths. It’s amazing to me things that you’ll say about somebody that is just your perspective on it. I’m not even talking about me. I’m talking about anybody in this church, that you get bumped, and you take a sledgehammer and a lawn spreader, not just to that person, but to our church. You spread poison over our church. So that you can build a little consensus agreement on your own. So how does the Bible tell us to handle it? It says, “If your brother sins against you,” go to?

– [Congregation] Him.

– Go to him. With his fault, between you and him?

– [Congregation] Alone.

– Alone. “And if he listens, you have gained your brother.” Here’s what’s interesting. We tend to think about gossip with people as commodities. Like I just need to tell you my perspective so that you’ll be on my side and know that I’m right. But God always thinks about conflict in the context of family. What does it say? If your brother listens to you, you have gained your brother. This is, we’re talking about family here. Listen, it’s amazing to me the amount of times that people get sideways in a church and leave and never tell anybody in the church why. Not anybody that can do anything about it. You get mad at something that I said and you won’t come and say, “Hey Pastor Tim, I don’t like when you said.” And sometimes, I just have said a stupid thing. There have been times where people come to Guest Central, “I don’t like when you said,” and I’ve had to say, “You know what, you’re right. “I shouldn’t have said that way. “I didn’t mean it that way. “That wasn’t my heart. “But I’m sorry for the way that I said it, “and I’m sorry for the thing that I created in you.” And then what happens? We’re good. But you’ve got people who will leave a church, or I’ll just, leave this church and talk junk about people in this church and nobody knows that you were sideways until the person you gossip to gossips back to us. This is the thing that’s amazing to me. Is the amount of trust that gossipers have in their audience.

– That’s right.

– Listen, if you’re gossiping to somebody and they are listening to you, they’re about to tell somebody else. I can’t tell you the amount of times that someone’s been sideways with me in the church and somebody other than them has told me. And I had to go back and chase the person who wouldn’t come and talk to me. They just wanted to all over my reputation, all over whatever relationship we used to have, all over the church that we’re a family in. Come on, somebody, lost your mind. Never works, it never works. Listen, I know it’s intimidating sometimes to say, “You hurt me, I didn’t like that.” But there is greater health on the other side of that candor than of you spreading nonsense.

– That’s right.

– And it doesn’t only hurt, it doesn’t only hurt the person that you’re upset with, it hurts you because eventually people figure out that you’re not honest.

– That’s right.

– And then they won’t be honest with you. You isolate yourself, you isolate yourself. Number three is we stuff it. We stuff it. Jeremiah 16:14, “They have healed the wound “of my people lightly, “saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Some of us, this is our life verse. Some of us, this is our heart. Somebody says something, man, it hurts. It hurts that you said that, man. It hurts that you did that. It hurts that you were gossiping around me. Or, ’cause we’re tough, we say, “I don’t care. “I don’t care about that, I don’t care about you.” But a hurt is a hurt whether you care or not, right? And you know pain doesn’t have a shelf life.

– Amen.

– Uh-huh.

– That’s good.

– Come on, come on.

– So you either deal with it or it just stays put. And what does Jesus say in John 16:33? You’re gonna have, you’re gonna get bumped. You’re gonna get hurt. Uh-oh. From people who said they loved you, from people who said they were your friend. And some of us, you know, the older you get with undealt with hurts, the more full your heart gets, and then one day, out of the blue, it comes pouring out. We say what happened to Tim? He never dealt with his hurts. He just stuffed ’em. He dealt with his hurts lightly. Listen, some of you, you don’t need a Band-Aid, you need surgery. Here’s the way the Bible says it. Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one fails “to obtain the grace of God.” How do I obtain the grace of God, Lord? I want that. So “that no root of bitterness springs up “and causes trouble.” Not in them, in you. “And by it, many become defiled.” If you’re in a season of bitterness, you’re hurting your family. I know you’re hurting, but you’re leaking on us. I know you’re hurting. But the overflow is coming out on the people that you love. The overflow is coming out on your friends. The overflow is coming out on your family. The overflow’s coming out on your church. The overflow’s coming out in your relationship with God. Y’all can take this table of illustrations. Thanks, fellas. These are the ways that we handle it and they, man, they never, ever work. We blow up, we pass it around, we stuff it. And so, how do I handle hurts helpfully? How do I handle hurts helpfully? Number one, realize that it affects your relationship with God. Realize that when I am not dealing with my hurts, it’s not ultimately, on the surface, it’s about the person that hurt you, but ultimately, when I refuse to deal with it, when God says “Take heart, I have overcome the world,” you’re saying “I don’t believe you.” When I’m not dealing with my hurts I’m saying to God, “I don’t believe you’ve overcome. “I don’t believe you offer freedom. “I don’t believe you’ll take care of it “in your time and in your way. “I think that I need to deal with it now. “I need to spread it around. “Or I need to stuff it.” Listen to what the Bible says in Luke 6:37. Listen to the relationship that we have horizontally that affects vertically. “Judge not and you will not be judged. “Condemn and you will not be condemned. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. “Give, and it will be given to you, “good measure, pressed around, shaken together, “running over, it will be in your lap. “For the measure you use will be measured back to you.” Now this isn’t about math. This is about the acknowledgement that my horizontal relationships, both reflect my relationship with God and affect my relationship with God. They reflect in this regard. God says I want you to forgive your spouse, your parents, your friends, your boss, your pastor.

– Yes.

– Come on.

– The church you used to go to or the church you come to now. I want you to forgive. Why should I do that? ‘Cause I forgave you.

– Amen.

– ‘Cause I forgave you of stuff that you both know and don’t even know about. I forgave you for stuff that you have done, are doing, and are gonna do. And I forgave you enough that I changed your eternal destiny, that I made you entirely pure. You’re a new creature. In me, I forgave you through the blood of my Son, and so I want you to reflect our relationship with those that you have relationships with. The other thing though is that it affects, my relationship with God is affected. Here’s one of the ways that we stuff hurt. Is we get religious. A bunch of hurting folks not willing to walk to the second section to have a conversation with somebody that hurt them 15 years ago. Or, a conversation with the person they’re sitting next to that they were yelling at on the car ride here, okay? Watch. 1 Peter 3:7, “Make sure that deal with your sin, men, “because your prayers will be hindered “if you’re fighting with your wife.” So you’re telling me that if I’m disrespectful to my wife, if I’m dishonoring to my wife, if I’m rude to my wife, that God is less prone to hear and therefore answer my prayers? Yeah.

– [Congregant] Amen.

– Yeah, that’s what I’m telling you. Matthew chapter 5 says, if you have a big old offering, if you go home and you write a huge check, and you put Graceway on it, I’m gonna give this big old check, it’s gonna be awesome. And I’m gonna get a letter from Pastor Tim saying thank you for your generosity. Everyone’s gonna know my heart. It’s gonna be incredible. I can’t wait to do this. That bucket comes, here’s what God says. As the bucket passes, right as you’re about to put it in, you remember that Johnny, here’s the word that it has ought against you, Johnny’s sideways with you. What does God say to do? Just drop that thing in, and everything will be fine? No, He says put that thing in your pocket and go talk to Johnny.

– Amen.

– Matthew chapter 5, I would rather that you go have the conversation with somebody that you’ve been sideways with for two hours or 20 years, than drop that big. Listen, this is the pastor talking, okay? Keep your check.

– That’s right.

– Set up coffee.

– [Congregation] Yes.

– Remember, I tell you all the time, I don’t want something from you. I want something for you. Beyond any of that, listen. You have people who are dominating your prayer life. You pray about them every single day. They’re dominating your worship. You come in, you start to worship God and they pop into your head. They dominate your Bible reading. Mm-hmm. You know that’s you. Talking about the fool, talking about the scorner. Mm-hmm. You don’t see you in the Bible, you see them in the Bible. That’s a dangerous spot to be, my friend.

– Amen.

– Yes.

– It’s a dangerous spot to be. They’re taking your joy, they’re taking your relationship with God. They’re taking your praise to God. They’re taking your prayer life. Can I tell you, if anybody’s popping into your head right now, the enemy’s winning in your life?

– Whoo!

– Come on.

– Now, you might use a sledgehammer. You might use a spreader. You might use the stuffer. I know you’re using one of them. You’re using one of them. But I just wanna ring the bell that you can’t compartmentalize hurt. It doesn’t go away. And you can’t put it in a nice, neat box that you only go to. It spreads into everything else. That’s the reason that the Bible talks about it as a root. Have you ever tried to dig the root of a large tree out of your yard? The tree is right here and the root is over, how did that thing get all the way over there? That’s the same thing your bitterness does.

– [Congregant] Yes.

– This is affecting your relationship with God. Doesn’t have anything to do with them.

– [Congregant] That’s right.

– This is affecting your relationship with God. And so I want you to do three things, okay? I want you to remember who God says you are. Remember who God says that I am? Why does that have anything to do with it? Because if you really just follow the layers all the way down, hurt is ultimately, any kinda hurt is ultimately a symptom of the sense of rejection. Pastor Tim, I didn’t like, oh I’m a bad pastor. Oh, I’m a bad leader, I’m a bad husband. I’m a bad dad, right? We always go to the character bomb in our heart. That’s what hurt does. And rejection is capable of reshaping your identity. So you come in and you say, Pastor Tim you said blah, blah, blah, and I hear I’m A. Not you did. We don’t hear, you did, we hear, I am, especially if we don’t deal with it over time. That’s what bitterness does. It goes from the action to the motivation to the identity.

– Yes, sir.

– And so part of the thing that we need to do is that when we’re experiencing hurt, yes, you need to realize that it affects. Yes, you need to realize spreading and pitchers and sledgehammers and all those kinda things, but the thing that you ultimately need to do is you need to get back to who God says that you are.

– Yes.

– 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen race, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” Listen, “a people for His own possession.” Hurt creates rejection. They didn’t want me, I’m not good enough. God says, I want you, I chose you, you’re mine, and I’m yours.

– Amen.

– And no matter what they say, I’m with you and I love you unconditionally. Let me give you another one. 1 John 3:1 to 2, “See what kind of love “the Father has given us.” Rodney’s sitting in the back. People getting baptized, people being set free, on Wednesday, people getting saved, reconciliation. See what the love of God creates in us. This is the reason that you need to be a part of a church. Because when you’re in isolation, the totality of your experience is just as far as you can reach. And you need to be in a room with other people and you need to see other people getting saved and other people getting healing, and other people having their prayers answered. You need to see that God is still with you and still has you. “See what kind of love the Father has given us, “that we should be called the children of God,” and here it is, “and so we are.”

– Amen.

– I love that. I love that God’s like, this is what I wanted, and since I wanted it, it is.

– Amen.

– Since I wanted you, you’re mine.

– Amen.

– Since I sent my Son to save and to reconcile and to resurrect, it happened. You know when God wants something, it happens.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– Let me give you a little bit longer one here. Paul just goes on a rant, in Ephesians chapter 1, about all the things that God has done, and all the things that He is, and all the things that He’s given us. Just let it kinda roll over you here. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “who has blessed us in Christ Jesus “with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation “of the world.” God wanted you before you had done anything for Him. “That we should be holy and blameless before Him. “In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself “as sons through Jesus Christ, “according to the purpose of His will, “to the praise of His glorious glory, “with which He has blessed us in the beloved.” When God says your name, He says beloved, you’re my beloved, you’re my boy, I love you, I’m proud of you, I got you. “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, “we have forgiveness of our trespasses, “according to the riches of His grace, “which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom “and insight, making known to us the mystery “of His will, according to His purpose, “which He set forth in Jesus as a plan “for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, “things in heaven, and things on Earth. “In Him, we have obtained an inheritance, “having been predestined according to the purpose “of Him who work all things according to the counsel “of His will, so that we, who are the first to hope “in Christ might be the praise of His glory. “In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, “the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, “who’s is the guarantee of our inheritance “until we acquire the possession of it, “to the praise of His glory.” This is who you are. Listen, I know they cut you. I know you’re hurt, but don’t lose yourself in the middle of it.

– That’s right.

– Listen, I know they said it about you, I know they spread poison all around you, but this is who God says that you are.

– Amen.

– Amen.

– The most healing thing that you can do is know who you are, and in confidence, go to them.

– Amen.

– That’s right.

– This isn’t about how they’re gonna respond, or what they’re gonna say, or, this doesn’t have anything to do with them. You’ve given them more power, you’ve given them undue power in your life, and it’s time to take it back. Listen to what Charles Spurgeon, my man Charles Spurgeon says. “If a man could know that he was loved “by all of his fellow men, “if he could have it for certain “that he was loved by all the angels,” so everyone you know loves you, all the angels love you, “yet these were but so many drops, “and all put together, could not compare “to the main ocean contained in the fact “God loves me.”

– Yes.

– Amen.

– Listen, I know they’re sideways with you. I know they’re mad at you, I know they said bad things about you, I know it hurts your feelings, I know it’s doing damage. If they loved you perfectly, and everyone you knew loved you perfectly, and everyone you’ve ever met loved you perfectly, and all the angels loved you perfectly, it would still be a raindrop compared to the Atlantic Ocean of how much God loves you.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– Come on, get your shoulders back, get your chin up, get some confidence. Get some wisdom, get some proactivity. Come on, just. This isn’t so heavy that you can’t stand up.

– That’s right.

– The love of God is so powerful that it pushes us up, right?

– Amen.

– Hallelujah.

– So some of us, we need to remember who God says that we are. Number three, I want you to get help. I want you to get help. Listen, there’s a reason that we do small groups. And I’ve said to you a million times, small groups, you can’t go to Malachi 3:2, “Do small groups.” It ain’t in there. But you know what is in there? James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, “and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

– Yes.

– You say, what do you mean, sins? I’m the one who was sinned against. Yeah, and you’ve been harboring it for far too long.

– [Congregant] Come on.

– You’ve not been taking God at His Word for far too long. You’ve been living beneath your privilege for far too long. You’ve been living beneath victory for far too long. You’ve been letting it spill onto other people, you’ve been smashing people, you’ve been spreading things around. Listen, hurt begets hurt, and for some of us, the thing that you need to do today is decide, no, I’m gonna get well.

– That’s right.

– How do I get well? I ask God for forgiveness and I ask you to pray for my freedom.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– The prayers of a righteous person have great power as it is working. Can I tell you, I want you in a group, ’cause I want you to have friends, because if you have friends, you have the opportunity to be free. You need somebody who has a different perspective than you. You need somebody to ask you that clarifying question. You need somebody to say, “Doesn’t God say “you should set up coffee, “and doesn’t God say that this is who you are?” You need somebody to come alongside you, know that you’re hurting, and minister to your needs in a way that you cannot on your own.

– That’s right.

– That’s good.

– A couple months ago, I had a little surgery on my ankle. I had a spot I needed to get removed, and they dug a big old hole in my ankle, and they said, “You need to come back in a couple of weeks “and take the stitches out,” and because I’m a man, I was like, I’ll take my own stitches out. You should’ve seen me trying to get these stitch, like I need a, can you, I had a mirror and tweezers, and I’m like digging, it’s bleeding everywhere. Do you know what I had to do? Babe, can you come help me? ‘Cause if I just keep digging around on my own, the way that I think is best, I can’t see it as well as she can, and I don’t have the clarity that she has, and until you call somebody over to your hurt, you’re just gonna keep digging in it, and doing more damage. You say, but I don’t have, I don’t really have any friends. Let me, this is as practical as I can be. Get in a group, get in a group, you’re gonna watch the game anyways, so you’re gonna eat barbecue anyways, just get in a, you’re gonna go to a movie anyways, get in a group, and then find a counselor. Find a counselor? What do you mean find a counselor? I ain’t sick. Yeah, you are. Yeah, you are. You say, going to a counselor’s for messed up people. Well, I got three. And I’m not kidding. I got three. I’ve got counselors, coaches, mentors and friends, why? ‘Cause I got hurts. ‘Cause I have hurts. Listen, it’s not strong to keep silent or keep it a secret. You are only as strong as your secrets. It’s not weak to ask for help, and let me just help you. The hardest part, the hardest part will be the initial ask. It will. The hardest part will be for you to come down at the end of service, and say to a pastor, “I need to talk to you.” That’ll be the hardest part. The hardest part will be sending the text, “Can we please get dinner?” The hardest part will be coming and saying, can you help me find a, that’ll be the hardest part, and then, you’ll get into it, and you’ll question why you didn’t do it a long time ago. I’m trying to help you. Come on, get well. Come on, get healthy, come on, get strong. Come on, God’s got purpose for you. God’s got good things for you. God loves you, God’s on your side, God’s got your back, and you’re letting the enemy steal it, ’cause of something somebody said, ’cause of something somebody did. I’m not trying to minimize that, but I’m saying, God’s bigger, He’s overcome, take heart, okay? Lastly, and this is a big one. I want you to go first.

– [Congregant] Whoo!

– But they hurt me! I know, and they still are, but you’re gonna have to, you’re gonna have to weigh this. This is affecting your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your church, your relationship with your future, your relationship with your spiritual authority, your relationship for the things that God has for you, and wants to do through you. It’s affecting all of those things. It’s poisoning all of those things. This is creating a new identity in your heart that God says is not true, that is from the pit of hell, you’re believing things that aren’t true, you’re creating a new identity around it, you’re isolating yourself, thinking that you’re strong, and it’s actually making you weak, and I need you to not wait for them to make the right decision for your benefit.

– That’s right.

– Come on.

– It’s amazing to me how much we will say, “I will give you the controls to my future.” I ain’t giving you the controls to anything, man.

– [Congregant] That’s right.

– What God has for you is worth too much. Listen to James 3:17. “But the wisdom that is from above,” you say, “I just don’t know how to do it, “I just, I need wisdom.” Okay, here it is. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure,” it means I don’t have ulterior motives, “and peaceable. “It is gentle, it is open to reason, “it is full of mercy and good fruits, “it is impartial and sincere.” You wanna know how you need to prepare your heart before you go to coffee, before you make that text? You need to go down through it and say, “God, let my motives be pure, let my heart be peaceable, “let my tone be gentle, let me be willing to listen, “let me be full of mercy, impartial. “Let me be sincere, and then produce good fruit of this. “A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace “by those who make peace.”

– Yes.

– Amen.

– Can I tell you, if you’re pursuing peace, you won’t ever be wrong.

– That’s right.

– If you’re pursuing peace, in a peaceable way, what does God say? That’s wisdom.

– Amen.

– Matthew 5:9, “Blessed,” what does blessed mean? Happy, happy, “are peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

– Amen.

– Listen to me, please. What I’m about to say to you is worth the price of admission. Choices lead, feelings follow. Choices lead, feelings follow. You got it backwards. Your feelings are leading, and you’re waiting until you feel like it to do it. That’s the reason that I say go first, and you’re like, oh, snap. I don’t know about that. I don’t know how I feel about that. I know how I’ll feel when they reject me, and I know how I’ll feel when they continue to do it to me. I know, I know, I know, no, you don’t, you don’t. What does God say? Don’t be confident of tomorrow. You don’t know that you got it. You got today. I need you to make a choice today. I need you to make a choice today. I need you to go first, I need you to be peaceable, I need you to reclaim your identity, I need you to ask for help, I need you to realize how much this is actually costing you. And I need you to say, God, by the strength of your Holy Spirit, by the wisdom of your Word, I’m just gonna take you at your word, and I’m going to do my very best, as much as is in me, to be peaceable with this person.

– [Congregant] Amen.

– And I’m gonna go first. I’m not gonna wait for them I’m not gonna expect them to do something that I’m not willing to do. I’m gonna put the sledgehammer away, I’m gonna put the lawn spreader away. I’m gonna stop letting wounds be poured into my heart and letting them overflow on those that I love.

– [Congregant] Yes.

– And I’m gonna decide. Right now. Hey, Pastor Tim here. I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you, or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email at amen@visitgraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life, and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there. And if you live in the Kansas City area, I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit. We’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together. Let us know how we can be of help to you, and I hope to see you soon.

Let me see if you’ve heard this one before. Three Christian boys living in a monastery come to the priest at the end of the week and say, “Priest, it’s been a good week, “none of us had sinned one time this week.” And the Priest says, “Wow, that’s pretty impressive. “Well, since you haven’t sinned one time, “I’m gonna give you one freebie, all right? “I’m gonna give you one bad deed to go do, “you just gotta come back and tell me what it is “and we’ll deal with it, “but since it’s been such a good week, “you just go ahead and take that freebie.” And so the first boy goes out and he breaks a car window, right, and he comes in and he says, “Father, I smashed a car window with a brick,” and the Priest says, “All right, well, I want you to say your prayers, “I want you to go back “and I want you to take a drink of “that holy water in the back “and then get back to your good week, right?” The boy says his prayers and does whatever he needs to do and goes back and drinks from the holy water and good to go, dial back in. Second boy comes in, he says, “I got in a fight “and I punched another boy in the face.” Priest says, “Okay, well, I guess, “I didn’t really put stipulations on the freebie, “and so I want you to say your prayers “and confess and go back and drink that holy water, right? “And then I’ll need you to get back “to trying to serve the Lord,” and boy says his prayers and goes back and drinks from the holy water and dials back in. Third boy comes up and says, “Father, I need to confess my sin.” He says, “Go ahead, my son.” He says, “I peed in the holy water.” Come on, that’s funny, I don’t care what you say, all right? Hey, it’s important for us to laugh, because the joy of the Lord is our what? Is our strength, amen, amen. Even when you gotta talk about the topic we gotta talk about today, which y’all asked for. We’re gonna talk about death, okay? We’re gonna talk about death. I just felt like I wanted to get us started off with a good laugh before we talked about something that can feel very heavy, depending upon where you are on proximity to it. But I want to give you the bible’s version of how we can observe death, and because of the complexity of it and because I don’t have any way of knowing where you might be in relationship to it, we’re gonna pray. God, I love you. I thank you that you are a God of joy and of peace and of grace. Thank you that you are God who is transcendent, who is above and beyond what we could ask or think, above and beyond different factions, above and beyond this temporal life and the eternity that is to come. And so God, we come to you, and we need you to speak to us. God, I know that there are people that just the very mention of the word death elicits very difficult feelings because of something that just happened or somebody who’s sick and God, I just need your holy spirit today. God, I can feel a lot of spiritual warfare around this and so we proclaim the name of Jesus and victory. We say that the enemy is not welcome here. We say that your narrative on this topic is better and that we need to hear it from your mouth, certainly not mine, and so would you use me today for your glory and for the grace that we need and we’ll thank you for it. In Jesus name, Amen.

– [Audience] Amen.

– So let me give you a couple of principles here just around Bible study. If the Bible says something clearly, this is a church that believes it. We believe it out of hand. We take God at his word, and so if God says it is so, we say that it is true. Come on, say amen to that.

– [Audience] Amen.

– There are other times where the Bible is a little bit less direct, doesn’t overtly speak to certain topics. The Bible says that he gives us everything that we need for godliness, but there are some things that aren’t specifically articulated. So if you say, “God, should I rent this apartment “for this amount of money?” You can’t turn to Ezekiel three in verse 14 and find a yes or no. And in those instances, we rely on biblical principles. So if God says it, we believe it. If God is a little bit less direct, we take what we do know to be true and we make wise decisions in accordance with biblical principles. And there are other things where the Bible appears to be silent, and on those things, because we are a part of a family that is now almost 2000 years old called the church, not a family that we are outside of, but we are glad to be a part of. Now there are people who have walked with God in different context and traditions and cultures who give us their perspective and their opinion on certain topics. We have the benefit of community and the benefit of community around those, but those are simply opinions. They’re not authoritative. So if the bible says it, it’s true, it’s authoritative, we gratefully say yes, Lord. If the bible is a little less direct, we go to biblical principles and surround the topic with the truths that we do know. If the bible is silent, we can go back into the community called the church and get opinions and from that do our very best. Here’s the reason that I say that: the bible does not have an incredible amount to say about death. It feels like a topic that God should probably be a little bit more overt and a little bit more direct on, but if you go to First Corinthian chapter 13, in verse 12, the bible actually says this: for now we see in a mirror dimly. Now, in my physical body, when I try to look into the future and ascertain definitive truths about what heaven or hell will be like, I’m looking dimly. I can see figures and I can see principles, but there are certain things that I can’t see. But he says, but then, we will see face-to-face. Now I know in part, then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. It’s interesting that God, when he describes what he knows of you, he talks about you in glorified sense. He talks about you in fullest potential sense, he talks about what you will ultimately be, and he says here’s the thing, I know that there’s mystery and grief and some fear around this topic, but there are certain things that you’re not gonna know until you’re here then. Now, if you’re in here today and you say, “but I really would like to do “a little bit more study “and a little bit more understanding on this,” let me give you a resource, you can just jot this down. There’s a book by the name of Heaven by an author named Randy Alcorn. I would highly recommend it. It’s a very good book, very biblically sound and helpful. But the bible itself falls more in that slightly less direct and in some cases, entirely silent, but there are certain things that the bible is very clear about that I want to give you today. The first is that when we look at death, death was never God’s intent. Death was never God’s intent. So if you have a bible, go to Genesis chapter two, in verse seven. Genesis chapter two, in verse seven. If you don’t have a bible, stop in the Next Steps desk, we’ll give you a bible. Another thing that I want to just get in front of you is if you have a smartphone, I would highly encourage you to download the YouVersion Bible App, you can get into a small group, read through different bible plans together. I’m in a group like that. We have about 30 people who are reading through the bible through the year together. It’s a great, great thing. But in Genesis chapter two, in verse seven, look at what the bible says about. Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground. Okay, so God starts with the external. He forms man of the dust of the ground and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man becomes a living creature. The opposite happens when you die, right? God forms the external, it goes first, and God breathes into man the breath of life and man becomes a living soul, a body, a soul and a spirit. If you pass now, the thing that goes away is the thing that God began with, the body, right? We put a body in a box, and over time, that body goes away, but you were created to be eternal in the future sense. And so God’s plan was always to create man with this eternality of life and he puts in Genesis chapter two, verses 16 and 17 this statement. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You might surely eat of every tree of the garden, “but the tree of the,” what’s the next word?

– Knowledge.

– The knowledge. The knowledge of good and evil, I don’t want you to eat that, from the day that you do, you will surely die. So God puts in front of Adam and Eve this opportunity to know things that he never intended them to know. He never intended us to know certain things that we know on a regular basis right now. God never intended us to understand or deal with the complexity of cop’s getting shot in gas stations. God never intended us to live in a community that was divided socioeconomically, racially, generationally, all of these things that are happening, God said I never intended you to have that knowledge, have that experience, have that understanding. And really, the undergirding of all of that is God never wanted us to know sin and then what it affects, death. It was never a part of God’s plan. God never intended you to experience a funeral. God never intended you to experience loss. God never intended for you to experience grief. Adam and Eve choose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They already knew good, and so they had this relationship now with evil and they immediately realize, I know something that I didn’t know before. And it immediately shows up in their family when their firstborn son murders their secondborn son. I was thinking about this week, just what that might have felt like, not only to say goodbye to your secondborn son, but to realize that your oldest son murdered him and that your choice to know something that you thought would be good but was actually evil is what made it all possible. Can you imagine whenever Eve draws her last breath, what went through Adam’s body in terms of guilt and grief and pain and the understanding that God never intended this. We’ve moved a little bit away from the guilt of I caused this when we go to a funeral and now we just have grief, right? God never intended any of it to be the case and so these ideas of why would God do, why would God allow, why is God doing this to me? I need you to understand the bible is very definitive. Never a part of God’s plan, never a part of God’s plan. The second thing that’s good news is that even though Adam and Eve put the world on a course to experience sin and ultimately death and all of the things that you watch on the news are under one of those two categories, right? The things that we see that are broken and the things that we see that are hurting, the things that we see that are divided, fall under sin and are some version of death and the world has been on that course. First, Adam and Eve and then Cain and Abel, and then you read the Old Testament. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Old Testament, but it’s a depressing testament, isn’t it?

– [Audience] Yes!

– It’s a depressing testament. People always dying, people always mad, people always rebelling, people always going to war. That’s the nature of knowledge that God never intended us to have. Never intended us to have. And so before the foundations of the Earth, here’s what God says. I knew that we were gonna find ourselves in this place and so I planned to send my boy into that situation, not only to be tempted with sin and death, be exposed to sin and death, but come on somebody, defeat sin and death. All right? Jesus comes into our neighborhood, moves into our neighborhood, watches our news, has the same feelings, the same temptations. There’s times in the bible that actually, the shortest verse in the bible, Jesus wept, Jesus is at a what? He’s at a funeral. Jesus knows what it feels like to be living in a reality that God never intended us to have, but Jesus moves into this, not to condemn the world, but to save the world from sin and death. Romans chapter five. I’m gonna run you through a bible study here and then I’m gonna make it as practical as I can, so hang with me. Romans five verses 19. For as by one man’s disobedience, who is that one man? Adam. The many were made sinners and so by one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous. Who’s that second man, that second Adam? It’s Jesus. So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness, leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God never intended the world to be broken. Man chose it, chose to know something on the assumption that if they knew more, they’d be like God and only found out that it put them farther away from God and farther away from that they hoped. We’re living in this reality that’s broken, but Jesus comes into our reality and makes another way possible. Jesus introduces himself in John 11 verse 25. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, eventually, death and taxes, you get it? Though he die, yet will he, what?

– Live.

– Yet will he live. This is the promise of the gospel. Here’s another one that I love. Hebrews two verses 14 and 15. Since therefor the children share in flesh and blood, that’s one of the things that all of us share in, no matter where you come from, where you grew up, how much money you have, how you voted, we all share in flesh and blood. That is the commonality of the human race. He himself likewise took part of the same things. Jesus experiences flesh and blood that through death, he might, watch it, destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil. Jesus moves into our neighborhood, partakes in flesh and blood for the purpose of kicking the crap out of the devil. Amen. Amen, absolutely. And, I love this. Delivering all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Don’t let that pass you by. Jesus not only theologically and conceptually defeats sin and death and Satan, but he also, what does it say? Frees you from lifelong slavery that is the fear of death. Wow. If we lay whole to what Jesus says that he did and who Jesus says that he is, we have a different perspective on death than anybody else. It’s not that I’m looking forward to it. It’s not that I don’t have some nerves about how I might die. It’s that I’m not ultimately afraid about what comes next. It’s that I’m not ultimately afraid about what my eternal destiny will be. Why? Because Jesus defeats the devil, defeats sin, and defeats death and gives us freedom and different perspective around all of those. What is that perspective? Here’s the next point. In Jesus, death is temporary. In Jesus, death is temporary. First Thessalonians 4 verses 13 through 18. But we do not want you to be uninformed. That’s my heart today. I want you to know what the bible says about death, because there’s a lot of things that are going on out there, and a lot of things that are being communicated out there that are being attributed to spirituality or different religions or even the bible, that don’t help us. God didn’t give it to us to help us and so what does God actually say? I don’t want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep, that you might not grieve as others do who have no hope. Can I tell you I’ve done a lot of funerals? I hate doing funerals. But there’s two kinds of funerals: there’s funerals that you feel sadness and grief, but underlying peace, hope and celebration. And there’s other funerals where those things are absent, and I’ve done both and you can feel it as soon as you walk in the building. Here’s what Jesus says. I don’t want you to be uninformed about death, because I don’t want you to experience it the way that those who have no hope experience it. Why? ‘Cause you do have hope. ‘Cause you do have Jesus, right? So here he goes on. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again. Amen.

– Amen.

– Even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend with a cry of a command, with a voice of an archangel, with the sound of the trumpet and the Dead in Christ will rise first.

– [Audience] Amen!

– Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the air with them and the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Listen to this: therefor, encourage one another with these words. Now, let me show you how different the bible talks about death than the way many of us do. The bible seems to indicate that when you’re having a bad day, have a conversation about death. When’s the last time, you know, I’m just having a rough day. I just need some encouragement. Awesome, let’s talk about dying. You see the difference? There’s something that God wants us to lay hold to. There’s something that God wants us to believe that transforms our perspective on death and in the here and now, I can say, look, I’m not looking forward to it, right? But I’m also not afraid of it. And when I do bump into it, because the world is broken and because the down payment of the blood of Jesus has not been brought to full fruition at the second coming, in the in-between, I’m going to operate with the perspective of death that is different than those who have no hope. And so Jesus lets us know some information. That there’s coming a point that Jesus is going to come back. Come on, let’s skip the Chief’s game and get right to it, right? And here’s what God says. If you believe this, he doesn’t say you won’t grieve, he doesn’t say you won’t miss them, he does say you’ll do it differently because you understand that death isn’t permanent, it’s temporary. The bible, over 50 times, refers to death as falling asleep. Now, how many are freaked out to go to bed at night? You’re like, I’m dying to go to bed tonight. Ahaha, see what I did there? Yeah, I can’t wait to go to bed. Here’s what the bible says. That death is like taking a nap. And in the bible says that for some of us, we will never take that nap, Jesus will come back. You will never face physical death, that you will enter in eternity from this temporal body into your glorified body and you’ll sing like my sister did right here, right? Okay, yeah. And the bible says that when Jesus comes back, those who have fallen asleep first, in other words, those who have passed, and their bodies are still here, you go and you put flowers on their marker, they will go first. And Jesus will call them home first and then second, those who are alive at the time of the second coming will go, and we will be with the Lord, what?

– Forever.

– Always. I love that it’s not even forever. It’s just like this perfect present, just always. It’s temporary, it’s temporary. The bible calls death falling asleep. In Jesus, this is another one, death becomes powerless. First Corinthians 15. When the perishable puts on the imperishable. You know, right now, what you see is all perishable. This, perishable, these, perishable. What’s under them, perishable. This will eventually go away. If God sees fit to take me home before he comes back, you’ll paint this like a clown, put it in a box and let it go, right? I’ve actually said to my wife, if you paint me like a clown and leave an open casket, I’ll haunt you for the rest of your life, right? Don’t do that to me. Because I ain’t in there, okay? Because the perishable has put on imperishable. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be incredibly good looking there. But just a little bit more. Try to wrap your head around that, right? Here it is: and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written. Now, I want you to read this in your head with the moxie, with the cockiness, with the mocking attitude that’s intended. Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory, right? Oh death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Victory, what’s the power of death? Fear. I got victory over fear. I got victory over hopelessness. I got victory over permanence, right? A Christian funeral is very different. They’re just falling asleep, and before they know it, really before I know it, we will be with the Lord together always, right? The victory of death, the victory of Jesus over death is so profound that God talks trash to death. Now, let me just stop here. I know, depending upon your age and your experience that this might seem close or far. Okay, that you, drawing that last breath and that your perspective on it might be different, but let me tell you the way that the bible talks about death. It’s one of two very simple things. You either face death with Jesus or on your own. It’s as simple as that, friends. I either face death with Jesus, who faced death for me and transformed my perspective on it and in that perspective, it’s not that I’m looking forward to dying, its not that I’m looking forward to how I might die. When I was a kid, I watched a movie and in it there was a giant octopus and I was terrified of being sucked into the ocean by a giant octopus, that would not be a good way to go. I would not look forward to that, right? Listen, there are certain ways that I don’t want to get sick. There are certain things that I don’t want to have happen with me. I hope if I could have it my way, that I will be at a ripe old age, extra chubby, laying next sleepily to my beautiful wife as we’re old, wrinkly and more in love than ever, that we both fall asleep and not wake up with Jesus. However, if it doesn’t happen that way, because of Jesus, I don’t have to be afraid of it. I don’t have to be afraid of what comes next. Because of Jesus, I don’t have hopelessness if my wife goes first. Why? Because I’ll see you again. Because in Jesus, there is no permanence to death. There is no permanence to sin and death because Jesus has squashed it. And so if you’re in here today, one of the great benefits, one of the great and many benefits of being a follower of Jesus Christ is the understanding that I face those things with Jesus, who faced them before I got to it. And I want to invite you with everything that I have today. Listen, this isn’t about I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna go to hell, this is about I want to understand death this way versus the way that I see it in Hollywood or on the news. And Jesus says, if you will believe in him today, the resurrection and the life, he will not only save you in the present but secure you for eternity. And so if you’re in here, and you’re terrified to die, if you’re in here and there’s hopelessness in death, if you’re in here and there’s permanence to death, if you’re in here and you’re afraid of all of these myriad of things, can I tell you, you can be free on the spot today? Call out on the name of Jesus and give your life to him. Now, let’s just assume that everybody in here said yes, and laid whole to the victory over sin and death. I hope that that’s the case. I hope that if you walked in here today far from God, you walk out of here free from fear and victory over sin and death. But here’s the last point that I want to make, this is where we’re gonna spend the rest of my time, of our time. The bible says that death should be planned for. If all of these treaties have been laid hold of, that death should be planned for. Death should be thought about. Death should be meditated on. There’s an old philosophic and really Christian liturgical practice that’s called memento mori. It’s a meditation on death. It is the Latin literally means remember you will die. It’s to sit in a room while I am still well and cognitively coherent and to think about the reality that I will forever be paying and probably increasingly paying taxes and that I will one day, if Jesus does not see fit to come back, draw my last breath, and the meditation is on the sobering reality of it and the plans that I intend to make while I still can of what that day will be like for those who are left behind.

– [Audience] Yes, yes, yes.

– And so I want you to Ecclesiastes chapter seven with me. Ecclesiastes chapter seven. And we’re gonna learn from the gentleman that the bible says is the wisest man who has ever lived. And I want to give you two principles and two practices. Two principles and two practices from a man by the name of Solomon. Solomon is the son of King David, and Solomon, whenever God says what would you like me to give him? Solomon doesn’t say I would like you to give me money or power. Solomon says I’d like you to give me wisdom. And God says, that request is a wise request and I will not only give you wisdom, but I will give you power and money and he becomes the wisest man who’s ever lived. When you read through the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes, you are reading the wisdom of King Solomon and in Ecclesiastes chapter seven, in verse one, King Solomon says this: a good name is better than precious ointment. The word name and ointment in Hebrew is almost identical to another. There’s literally one letter that is different, and so King Solomon is doing a wordplay between name and ointment. I like cologne, it’s actually one of my pet peeves. I don’t like to stink, right? And so, I have multiple bottles of cologne and here’s the thing about it: I have to put it on how often?

– [Man In Audience] A lot.

– Every, you’re like, I don’t know, yeah. Every day. I put it on everyday. And why do I put on cologne? That’s the word, ointment means cologne. Why do I put on cologne every day? Because what does it do? It fades, right? Because it fades. I mean, I’ve had cheap cologne and very, very, very nice cologne and both of them wear out by the end of the day. Solomon takes cologne, which fades, and your name, which doesn’t. And says a good name is better than smelling good and having it fade away. So here’s the question: if I am free from the fear of death, free from the hopelessness of death, free from the permanence of death, if death is just falling asleep and if I can plan on what I want my name to conjure when I’m in that box for those who are left, what would it be? If when I draw my last breath, and there’s a picture of me and a closest casket beside it, right? And I am with Jesus but my body is here, when people walk in and say the name Tim Dunn, what do I want them to think of? The man what I was, the husband that I was, the daddy that I was, the friend that I was, the pastor that I was, the preacher that I was, the activist that I was, the things that I was. What do you want your name to conjure? And here’s what Solomon says: plan on things that last, not things that fade. When you’re thinking about death, memento mori, think about what you want your name to conjure. And he gives us two principles that are very different, than especially our American mindset thinks about. Here’s the first principle: Ecclesiastes seven, in verse one, the day of death is better than the day of birth. What? Now I have three kids, and I’ve been in the room all three times that my wife has exhibited the greatest act of physical strength that I’ve ever seen.

– [Woman In Audience] Yep.

– I’ve watched men squat 800 pounds, I’ve never watched the amount of strength that my wife exhibited, not once, twice, but three times giving birth to three little human beings, eternal souls, and I held them in my hands and as I looked at them, I felt two things: I felt overwhelming and hopefully unconditional love, and I felt dreams about their potential. You are going to be, right? Birth is all about potential. It’s all about what could be, it’s all about what’s coming, it’s all about what might be, it’s all about what we hope for. Death isn’t about what could be, it’s about what was. One is subjective. Hopeful, optimistic, but subjective. One is objective, it happened. And so Solomon says the day of death is better than the day of birth. One is about potential, the other is about fulfillment. And so here’s the practice. Ecclesiastes seven, in verse two. It is better to go to a house of mourning, we call that a funeral, than it is to go a house of feasting. We call that a party. Solomon says it is more wise, more life-giving, more helpful for you to go to a funeral than it is for you to go to a party. Now your American mindset, or your wherever you come from mindset is going what? Let me tell you why that’s important. There’s nothing wrong with a good party. Come on, somebody, right? I wish church folks enjoyed more parties than we actually do. I want you to laugh and have a great time and enjoy one another, but do you know what you always do? We went to the lake yesterday, had a great time at the lake, you get to the end of it, and you look at one another and you say, this was awesome, when do you want to, what?

– Do it again.

– Do it again, right? Some of you, this is your life. Every Friday, what do you wanna do? We should throw a party! You get to the end of that party and you say, what do you wanna do next Friday, right? And it’s great and it’s good and I’m glad that you have it, right? But a funeral, listen to it, a funeral isn’t about what’s next. A funeral is about what was, and so here’s what Solomon says: you grieve at a funeral, but you also grow at a funeral. Because you think thoughts at a funeral that you don’t think at a party. Whenever I’m on the lake, yesterday I’m having a good time, the sun is shining, it’s wonderful. But I’m just thinking about the next party. I’m not thinking about what I want my kids to say when they put me in a box! But when I make plans to face my death, I do that at a funeral, don’t you? I think about what that person was and what I wish was true about me. And so let me just tell you a couple of mine. I know we’re running a little bit short of time. This is what I hope happens, all right? I don’t want to pass young. I want to grow old and I want to see my boys fall in love with somebody and get married and make babies. Come on, somebody, right? I joke that I don’t want to see my daughter get married at least until she’s 50, but the truth is, the truth is, I want her to fall in love with a man who adores Jesus and her. A man who provides and protects and nurtures and in every way points her to Jesus and I also want them to make babies so that I can get old and wrinkly with my wife. We’ll probably still bicker a little bit, but it will be out of love, ’cause at that point, we’ll have been doing it for so long that I’m already gonna know what she’s gonna say next, right? And past the age and past the wrinkles, I’ll see a beautiful countenance, right? And we’ll have memories together and we’ll have seen God show up together. 17 years now, 57 years then, and we will spoil our grandbabies rotten and milk our kids for their resources. Right? These dog’on kids are wearing me out, they’re expensive and I’m gonna get my revenge. I want the guys who know me to say Tim was a good friend. Tim told me the truth, Tim was loyal, Tim showed up on the mountaintops and in the valleys. I could trust him. I believed him when he said something. I want my church to say our pastor wasn’t perfect, but he loved Jesus. And he did everything that he could to serve us and to point us to Jesus and we’re gonna miss him, but we love Jesus more because he was in our lives. Can I tell you I’ve never thought about any of those things at a party. I think about them when I consider the end. And I can consider the end because I don’t have to do it afraid. I can consider the end because I don’t have to do it hopelessly. I can consider the end because if God’s been faithful to me from zero to 42, I trust that he’ll be faithful for me, I’m 41, not 42, I just added a year. From 0 to 41, I trust that he will be faithful for me from 41 to 82, right? And that he will bring to fruition the things that will bring him the greatest glory and so here’s what the bible says. Stare death in the face. Don’t be afraid of it! Don’t be hopeless about it! It’s temporary, it’s a falling asleep. But consider what your legacy will be when you’re at the end. And what you need to do is not spend time chasing temporal good times, but to stop and consider what you want your name to mean when you have no more breath to give. Here’s the second principle, we’re almost done. Ecclesiastes seven, in verse three. Sorrow is better than laughter. What? Solomon! For by sadness of the face, the heart is made glad. It’s better for you to be sober than for you to be giggly. It’s better for you to be thoughtful than for you to be having a great time! Why, because at the end of your great time, what do you want? When’s the next great time? And you can get to the end of your life chasing great times and temporal things and at the end we say that dude was fun, but now he’s gone, and no dent was made. Or you can have times when you laugh, be grateful for them, but spend legitimate time with stone and sober face saying what are the plans that I need to make now so that the things I just said to you can be true. Here’s the practice. Ecclesiastes seven, verses four and five. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better for a man to hear a rebuke of a wise man than hear the song of fools. Can I tell you, here it is. Here’s three things that I want you to take from. You don’t have to be afraid of death. Death has no power in Jesus. Death is temporary in Jesus. There’s no hopelessness in death because of Jesus. There’s no permanence in death because of Jesus. I want you to plan your death. I don’t want you to pursue things that are temporary, they might be fun, but they don’t add any lasting value or legacy to your name or those that you love. And then I want you to surround yourself with people, not who are having a good time, but who will look you squarely in the face and say not good enough. There’s two types of friends, you know that, right? Hey, they’re good, don’t miss this, okay? There’s two types of friends: one is the friend you have a good time with, right? Man, I just need to blow off some steam, I’m gonna call. And I hope you have friends like that, I have friends like that. Friends who just make me laugh until I dry heave, and I love them for that. But I have other friends, if they aren’t with me on a mountaintop, they’re with me in the valley. And I have friends who will look at me and say, this isn’t how you want to do this because this won’t take you where you wanna go. And so I love you enough to tell you the truth now so you can finish well then. So I don’t want you to be afraid. Listen, grieve. Miss, be sad, but don’t be hopeless. It’s not permanent. It’s temporary. And because you can face death in a mocking way, plan. Think about what you want your life to be. Think about what you want your legacy to be. Think about what you want your name to be. And then surround yourself with people who love Jesus and love you, not just at the party, at the funeral. And at the funeral that they’ll be at, and who will get you to that place loving Jesus more, more whole, more truthful, more wise, more fruitful, because they were in your life. This is why we do small groups. To give you an opportunity to find friends who will tell you the truth. To give you an opportunity to think differently. To give you an opportunity to finish well, to give you an opportunity to leave a legacy, to give you an opportunity to make a difference, not just now, at the end, when it matters the most. Hey, Pastor Tim here. I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email at amen@visitgraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there and if you live in the Kansas City area, I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit. We’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together. Let us know how we can be of help to you and I hope to see you soon.

– So I knew that this talk was coming. It doesn’t always come up, when we do, you asked for it. But it did this year, and it’s interesting because any time that money comes up you can kinda hear a collective either or, right, there’s always this awkwardness around money, there’s always this awkwardness around finances and the church. And I just sat down, I started writing all the notes that I could around why do we feel the way that we do around our money? Why is it such a sensitive topic in the church? And I think there’s a handful of reasons. One is that I think that sometimes the church over talks about this, right, sometimes you feel like every time I come in you’re talking about money, every time I come in you’re asking for money. That’s why we work so hard to steward the funds that you give us well. That’s why we work so hard to never have to put a thermostat on the wall, that we just try to live within what God’s provided for us, it’s an important thing for me. But I also want to say to you that sometimes the thing that we are most sensitive about is the thing that we’re most slave to. Hello?

– [Audience Member] Amen.

– Yeah, sometimes we have some anger over some abuses around what we see in our culture. Doesn’t it feel like the worst people have the most money? Doesn’t it feel like the system’s rigged? Doesn’t it feel like all the good folk are the poor folk, right? And sometimes there’s just some angst about abuses. Sometimes there’s angst about how much we talk about it, and, sure, sometimes there’s angst about how we handle money in the church and we feel some of this hypocrisy. Let me tell you another one that I think is legitimate. I think that most of us feel, have some shame over some struggles that we’ve had within our finances. I think that most people feel like I should be doing better with my money, but it’s really difficult, and I made some really significant mistakes. Anytime money comes up, the groan is either here we go again or I don’t want to feel badly about myself. And I think that it’s important for us to understand that when the Bible talks about money, God never talks about money in terms of currency. He never talks about it in terms of green paper with dead dudes on it, he never talks about economic systems or generation, no, he talks about spiritual realities that show up in the way that we think about and the way that we handle our money. What God would say is this isn’t about your stuff, this is about your strongholds. This isn’t about your stuff, this isn’t about where you live or how much you have or how much debt you’re in or how much you’re giving or any of those, money is just a way that where your strongholds show up in an objective way. And so what I want to do is I want to talk to you today about our strongholds around money, and I want to tell you just on the front end, I don’t need anything from you, okay? There’s no ask at the end. I don’t want anything from you, I do desperately want something for you. And what I want is for you to be free in a context and in a culture where a lot of people are just flat out slaves to green paper with dead guys on it. We’re absolutely slaves to it, and so in Second Corinthians, chapter 10, verses three through five, listen to what God has to say about it, for though we walk in the flesh, in other words, even though I’m made of flesh and bones and this is temporal, we’re not waging war against the flesh. Ephesians chapter six says a similar thing, that we don’t war against flesh and blood, we war against principalities and powers. In other words, that person that you’re sideways with, they ain’t your enemy, it’s the spiritual forces behind, it’s the things that are being drawn up through those interactions. We gotta get this through our head as a church and as a people of God that the battles that we fight aren’t in the temporal flesh and blood, not when it comes to people, not when it comes to culture, not when it comes to cash. We do not wage war against the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare, they aren’t of the flesh. In other words, they aren’t intellectual, they aren’t how strong you are, how much power you have, right. But that have divine power to destroy what? Listen, I know it’s raining, all right, but come on. Divine power to destroy what?

– [Audience] Strongholds.

– To destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. Here’s what the Bible says, strongholds are arguments. Maybe another word to say would be strongholds are lies and arguments and pretensions, some translations say, that the enemy whispers into our ear over life and across our culture. He pitches arguments that are spiritual arguments, and those arguments, listen, produce beliefs. The lie produces a belief, and the belief produces a thought, and the thought produces a behavior, and the behavior turns into a habit. Watch, the lie, the argument produces a belief. The enemy says this, And you say, oh man, that’s true. And you take a step into your thought life and you being to think things and you begin to believe things in your thought life, you begin to have self-talk that is based on a lie. And that lie produces thoughts, and your thoughts produce behaviors. That’s why when the Bible says anything that comes out of your mouth is started in your heart, right? Anything that comes out of your mouth, it started in your heart, your behavior produced habits, and some of us have habits around our stuff and around our money that’s tied to a belief that’s tied to a lie that makes us slaves. And that’s why whenever we talk about money, not to step over abuses, not to step over talking it all the time, I think a lot of the reason is because it’s like, man, I don’t know how to get this thing beat, I don’t know how to step into freedom around this, and you talking to me and telling me the church needs money, it makes me feel worse, doesn’t set me free. Are you with?

– [Audience] Yes.

– Okay, so here’s what the Bible says, you don’t need more discipline to get free. You don’t need better connections. What you need is spiritual weapons to destroy Satanic lies in your life.

– [Audience Member] Yeah.

– You need spiritual weapons to destroy Satanic lies in your life that produce all of these things. So let me just tell you my motivation. My motivation today is twofold. It’s on one hand to expose three lies. And then on another hand to put in front of you three ways to get free that, listen to me, God said will always work. Now, listen, if you don’t get free of the lies, you ain’t gonna believe God when he says that they work, that’s the problem. And so I need to expose the lies and I need to put three things in front of you that will increasingly set you free if you will take God at his word and believe what he says is true. And if you’ll do those things, you will not only see more clearly, but you will be more free. Here’s what I’m hoping, I need you to understand that when you are in bondage to it, it controls you. Okay, watch, some of you guys, you have a time of the month, it’s around the first part or the middle part or the end part, every two weeks, depending upon how that your stress, your cortisol goes up, right, your stress goes up, your worries goes up, your prayers change, you start trying to manage things, how are we gonna do this, why does this keep happening? Listen, it’s controlling you. It’s controlling you. When you get free of it, you control it. When I’m in bondage, it controls me. When I’m free, I control it. And what I want to teach you today is how to get free so that you can control it, and so that you can see money and currency for what it is. It is green paper with dead people on it that is tied to belief systems that produce thoughts and habits that put people in bondage, that’s what the enemy wants. God wants us to look at it as a blessing that can be used for his glory and kingdom. Are you with me?

– [Audience] Yes.

– You’re awfully quiet today, okay. Let’s talk about three money lies. Three money lies. So money lies, and here are the lies around money. These are arguments that the Devil makes around money that I believe affect us every single day, every single day. The first one is this, this will make me safe. This will make me safe. I think one of the favorite tactics of the enemy is to tempt around fear. I think that a lot of us, if we were honest, the things that come out are just symptoms of fear that we feel. And I think a lot of times we’re afraid of missing out, we’re afraid of being insignificant, we’re afraid of not having enough, we’re afraid of God not providing. It’s interesting, because I want you, how many guys are gonna watch the Chiefs today? Yeah, all right. Watch the commercials. Watch the commercials. And as you’re watching the commercials think about the message under the message. It’s never about the truck, right? It’s never about the restaurant. It’s about, you don’t want to miss out on this. You don’t want to be somebody that doesn’t look like this. Just watch the commercial. Listen, you don’t want to be the kinda guy that is in a $4,000 suit holding this beer. It’s amazing how much marketing is fear-based. So look what the Bible says about this, Hebrews 13: five and six, keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, watch, God says, don’t love money, why? Because God said, I’ll never leave you or forsake you. Isn’t it interesting that God gets to the heart of, you aren’t alone, you have a provider, you have a protector, you have a father who loves you, so you can be at peace and you can rest and you don’t have to be afraid. So we can say confidently, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man, even if he might have a little bit more green paper with dead guys on it, even if he can make it rain, right? What can man do to me if God’s on my side? You see, the enemy says you’re gonna miss out, and the enemy says people are gonna think. The enemy says you’re not gonna have enough, the enemy says all of these things that are based in fear. And God says, you are never alone. This was never up to you, I’ve got you, I’m with you, you can be at peace, you can be at rest, you can be confident that no matter what happens, you aren’t in it on your own. No matter what happens, this isn’t up to you. Here’s another one in the book of Matthew that is so practical and it’s so good and it’s so easy, you can think about this through your week. Therefore I tell you, this is Jesus speaking, don’t be anxious about your life. Come on, raise your hand if there’s been times where you’ve been anxious about your life. Yeah, the rest of y’all need to be anxious right now ’cause you’re liars, all right? Jesus says don’t be anxious about your life. Well, that’s easy for you to say, Jesus, right? Don’t say, what will I eat or what will I drink or don’t worry about your body, what you’re gonna put on, is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? The commercials you’re gonna watch today, they speak comprehensively about temporal things. Look at the birds of the air. I want to encourage you to do this this week. Look at the birds of the air, they don’t have a farm that they go to to get their bird seed, right? They don’t sow, they don’t reap, they don’t gave in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Think about this, when’s the last time that you walked by and you saw a dead bird and you’re like, oh, that poor guy is malnourished? Never, you’ve never, now, there’s some birds that I wish that I was the case, right? No, God says they don’t have like a place they go to get with that, I take care of all of them, right? Are you not more valuable than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your lifespan? I mean try that this week, just, Pastor Donivan’s talking about his friend who’s in hospice that if his friend just worried more, his life wouldn’t get longer. In fact, most psychologists say the more you worry, the shorter your life gets, right? But how many of us think, if I just squeezer harder, this will get better? Does that ever work? Has that ever worked for you? No, you’re just strangling it, you’re squeezing the life out of it. And why are you anxious about your clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil or spin, you’ve never gone by a field full of lilies and heard. You’ve never heard that, it’s effortless, right? Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, here it is, O you of little faith? What’s the opposite of faith? Fear, right? Therefore, don’t be anxious, don’t say what are we gonna eat or what do we drink or what are we gonna wear, but how many of us, how many of us on the way here were like, what are we gonna eat during the game? Well, I don’t know, and get in a, well, I want this, and you’re arguing with your wife, right? How many of you were stressed out about what you were gonna wear? Maybe not today, ’cause you’re coming to church, but maybe tomorrow, we spend so much time worrying about, what am I gonna eat, what am I gonna wear, what am I gonna drink, how am I gonna get it, what’s gonna happen, I don’t know. God says let’s just all take a deep breath. Let’s just all relax. The enemy is speaking spiritual truths into your life that are opposite of what God says is true. How would your life change if you just stopped listening to the enemy who says you always need to be afraid and started listening to God, who says, I’ll never forsake you? I’ll never ever forsake you, that’s the first. The second is this, this will make me significant. First, this will make me safe. The second, this will make me significant. This is another temptation of the enemy, it’s around our identity, it’s around, if I had this, people would think something about me. Watch the commercials, watch the commercials. Why don’t they ever put ugly people in the front seat of their car? Have you ever noticed that? Why do they always put the best looking person you have ever seen in the front seat of the truck they’re trying to sell you? What’s the message? If you had this, you would look like that. And how many of you know there ain’t a chance in heaven that’s true, right? This fear, this desire to look a certain way, this desire to be perceived a certain way, this desire that if I had this, I could buy this, and then you would think I’m that. And the enemy says, the only thing that you need for people to think you’re successful and powerful and valuable is a little bit more. Have you ever noticed no matter how much you make, the enemy keeps saying you’re almost there, you almost got it, just a little bit more? I read a study a few years ago that at every single bracket in a salary, they did a poll and said, if you can make any number above what you’re making, what would you like to make? And every single quadrant said 25%. Millionaires, just 25% more. $10,000 a year, just 25% more. Where does that come from? That doesn’t come from physical things, that comes from spiritual lies that the enemy says, just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, and then, and how many of you know, how many of you have gotten the job and realized that it’s never just a little more? ‘Cause it’s not a fiscal issue, it’s a spiritual issue. It’s a spiritual issue. Luke 12 and verse 15 he said to them, take care and be on guard against all covetousness. Wow, isn’t this hard? I’m just trying to watch the game, right, and I’m getting all of these spiritual messages put in front of me, ooh, that looks, oh, I would so, ooh, they would think, oh, it would be, if I just had a little more and could buy that, here it is, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. The enemy says if you just had a little bit more people would think, and God says you aren’t your stuff. You aren’t your stuff. You aren’t your stuff. Can I tell you some of the worst people I’ve ever met in my life had the most stuff, am I lying? Some of the best people that I’ve ever met, they didn’t have two pennies to rub together. What does God say? God says, you’re significant where you stand because of Jesus. And how would your life change if you could get off of that, if I just had just a little bit more then, if this, then that? That’s the enemy. And if you woke up each day and reminded yourself through the holy spirit of God, I am valuable because Jesus says that I am. I am worthy because Jesus says that I am. Do you see these lies that get said, these lies that produce thoughts, these thoughts that produce behaviors, these behaviors that produce habits, these habits that put us in bondage? Number three, this will make me happy. This will make me safe. This will make me significant. This will make me happy. And here’s the temptation, entitlement. Come on, we’re all right, you’re in church. You’re safe. Can I tell you, let me tell you what entitlement looks like, temporary fun. Right? Come on man, you’ve been working hard, you deserve this. Come on man, they got it, you work harder than them. Come on. What if you went to the grocery store and there was no price tags on it? And you got up and it was like, how much is this gonna be? I don’t know. You know that’s what the enemy does, right? You should buy this. How much is it? Oh, I can’t tell you that. And it’s always more expensive than you thought it was gonna be. Listen, fun is not sin, don’t misunderstand me. And sin is sometimes fun. Can I get an amen? Okay, let’s be honest. The problem is the timestamp on it. Sin is fun for this long, and I gotta live with it for this long. And I bought it over here on credit, and now I’m paying for it for the rest of my life. How many of you guys, you have something that you’re like, man, nobody knows, I deserve this, I’m gonna buy it, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna take it. And it’s temporary enjoyment often based on I deserve this. Often based on if I got this, I would be. Often based on, I just need it for a little bit and then I’ll give it back. That’s what credit is, y’all, that’s what credit is. So the enemy loves to tempt us on this, Ecclesiastes five and verse 10, he who loves money, it can’t be any more simple than this. He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. This is also empty, vanity. Listen, if you love money, you can never have enough. If you need it, your income’s never going to be high enough. Here’s the actuality, this is the truth. Romans four and verse seven, blessed, in Greek, happy are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Happy is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. Watch, the enemy says, come on, man, you deserve this. The Bible says even if you get it, it won’t change anything. Let me tell you what will change something, for Jesus has saved you from your sins by his grace, that’ll change something. For you to wake up every day knowing that I’m forgiven and I’m free, that I’m restored, and that I’m whole, and that even though I did put a bunch of behavioral stuff on credit and I’m paying for it, Jesus paid for it on the cross and my ledger is clean. How many of us though, if we were honest, the decisions that we’ve made around our stuff were toward, I want to be safe, I want to be significant, and doggone it, I deserve it, man? All lies, all lies. And so let’s talk about overcoming financial strongholds. And I’m trying to be as practical as I can with you here today, because I think that a lot of us. If I were to poll your theology on freedom, okay, if I were to say, tell me what the Bible says about freedom, you would probably answer correctly. I think most of us have good theology on freedom, the problem is we have terrible behavior around freedom. This is why I say all the time, if you’re new to church or not a Christian yet, church folks and not church folks have the same struggles. The difference between church folks is that we’re ashamed and we hide it. It’s the only difference, in my experience. If you’re new to Graceway, you don’t need to feel out of place, you don’t need to feel uncomfortable, I don’t need you to wear a jacket or get a haircut, right? This is just a hospital that a couple of us beat you to. And my hope for the culture of our church is that we don’t have to hide our sin but that we can step into relationship and find freedom from our sin together. That’s my hope. Because most people, they know the verses, they’ve memorized the verses. How many of you guys have ever had someone say, if you’re struggling with something, just memorize five verses and God’ll set you free? Has anyone done that? Can I tell you, no. Listen, I have issues in my life, I know 50, 100, 150 verses, but my theology is fine, it’s my behavior, and it’s the things that I’m believing that the enemy keeps whispering in my ear. And how many of you know, the enemy never shuts his dirty mouth? He’s always whispering these same things. My kids and I were watching Remember the Titans, have you seen this movie, with Denzel Washington? He has his playbook, right, he’s got three plays in it. And they’re like, you only got three plays. He’s like, that playbook is like novocaine, just keep doing it, just takes a little time, it always works. That’s the enemy. This will make you feel safe. This will make you feel significant. This will make you feel happy. Three things, and we keep falling down around it while we’re memorizing verses. I’m not saying don’t memorize verses, okay? Memorize verses, but there are some things that we need to do. This is the reason that I teach you the way that I do, is because I want you to know, but I also want you to have certain behaviors, okay? One of those behaviors that I say all the time is that your choices lead and your feelings follow. Choices lead, okay, I’m making a choice based on a truth, I’m making a choice based on what God says is true, and I’m gonna choose based on what God says is true. I’m gonna choose certain behaviors based on what God says is true. You’re not always gonna feel like it, ’cause you’re conflicted because the enemy’s whispering in your ear, right? And so I want to give you three choices to make around your finances that God says are based on truths. And I’m not asking you to feel like doing it, I’m asking you to take steps in faith. You understand what I’m saying?

– [Audience Member] Yes.

– I know you already know, and some of you are like, oh, he’s gonna say this, this, and this, okay? This isn’t about good theology, this is about faithful behavior. Are you with me? So we can get free. The first is this, return the first. Return, return the first. Here’s the text, Deuteronomy 14, 22 and 23, you shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain and of your wine and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you might learn the fear of the Lord your God always. Now, this is interesting to me, because a lot of times people make this a theological argument. And we say tithing isn’t a New Testament thing, and tithing isn’t, we make it a theological argument. So let me just say it to you this way, so I’m gonna beat you to the email, okay? Do you, under the covenant of grace, are you required to tithe? No. But is the principle in place and does the blessing follow?

– [Audience] Yes.

– Yes. Okay, so if you want to argue with me about which covenant and which dispensation and do I have to, I already got you. You don’t have to, but with the promises that God gives you around tithing, why wouldn’t you? In fact, whenever the Apostle Paul is talking to the Corinthians he says, listen, under the law, they had to tithe, and we always say this 10% thing, right? It was more like 30%, if we’re gonna be theological. 30% tithe. And we’d say, nah, that’s not for us anymore, and Paul says, but they didn’t have the blood of Jesus applied to their life, they didn’t have the grace of God applied to their life. They had the law. We have grace. We’ve been given all these things. We’ve been set free, we’ve been forgiven, we have our eternal inheritance in Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t you, why wouldn’t you, why wouldn’t you step into this practice? Okay. So let me say it to you this way, tithing is not giving, tithing is returning. This is an important thing. My language changed around this a couple years ago, because I always thought, man, I’m giving, I’m giving my 10%. No, God doesn’t talk about it that way, God talks about tithing as returning. The word tithe means tenth. God says return to me a tenth, because I gave you 100%, right? Now, watch, this church believes in tithing. In fact, we give about 20% of everything that comes in goes straight out the door. Because, do I have to do it? No, I want to do it, right? Because of what God has given me, and because the principle produces blessing. And I want this church to be blessed, and I don’t want to act like we earned all hundred percent, so I’m quick to say return, return 10%. Your pastor does this, okay? My wife and I return a little more than 10%, and then we give on top of that. Your pastors do this. You say, you know what the pastors do? Yeah, because if the pastors aren’t doing it, the church ain’t gonna do it. And so your pastors are tithers, your church is a tither. By the way, you’re doing it right now, you’re tithing with the first day of your week. That’s what church is, right? Coming to church is, it’s many things, but a lot of you say, I’m going, and I’m going on the first day of the week to give it to God on the first part of the day. Now, I know a lot of you came to the first service so you can get home and watch the game, all right? But that’s fine, okay ? I have taught you and I ask you to tithe the first part of each day and give it to God, okay? Don’t get on your phone and start checking your email, start checking, just get to it. Get up, and give God at least the first 15 minutes, and spend five minutes talking to God, spend five minutes reading, and spend five minutes worshiping. Just the first 15 minutes. And you’re saying to God with your week, God, I give this week to you. You’re saying to God with your time, God, I give this day to you. You’re saying to God with your money, God, I return this 10% to you, it was all yours, it’s all for your glory, it’s all by your grace, and as an act of worship and surrender, I’m happy to do it. I’m happy to do it. It’s funny to me, church people, we love to go, when Paul is talking in Corinthians about cheerful giver and they say things like, man, but I’m not cheerful, so I don’t gotta give. Talk about adventures in missing the point, right? It’s rhetorical, the idea is, of course you’re cheerful because of everything that God gave you. And if you’re not, that’s called lacking gratitude, come on somebody. Okay, now let me be real with you. I have learned the blessing of tithing the hard way. I grew up, my folks split when I’m 13, we were not well off in any way, shape, or form, and so when I started to make money, I had a mindset of scarcity. And when I’m 19 years old, I go to one of my pastors and I say, I can’t afford to give 10%. And this is what he says to me, I just want you to understand that God expects that you return 10%. And I say, maybe you’re hard of hearing on this side of your head, right, I can’t afford, and he just kept saying back to me, all I can say to you is. And so I was like, I was mad, but I was like, okay, so I started to give 10% when I was 19 years old, I’m 41 now, have never stopped. My wife, this is a huge value for my wife, okay, my wife has the gift of giving, that’s why we’re on the legacy team together. But 10%, 10%, 10%, we’re returning it. I will tell you when I first became a pastor not only was I weak on it theologically and practically, personally, but I was weak on it when I was a pastor, and I would let people come into positions of authority and I would give people influence who had not yet come to a full understanding of the principle of returning a tithe. And let me tell you what I saw, I saw two narratives. I’ve seen it in my own life, I’ve seen it in the church. I’ve been doing this now for over 20 years, and it’s always the same two narratives. One is this, I tithe and God provides, and I don’t really know how. It’s like my money goes longer. I don’t know why, I don’t know how it works, I don’t know what the math is, but it’s like when I give God that 10%, something. Okay, here’s the other narrative, pastor, you don’t understand, I can’t afford to tithe. Okay, listen, I come from a single parent home, I totally get it, but please listen to me. I love you, I care about you, I want you to experience freedom. If that’s where you’re stuck, you’re never gonna be able to afford it. You’re never gonna be able to afford it because this isn’t about your stuff, this is about your strongholds. And because whether the lie is I’m afraid, whether the lie is significance, whether the lie is I deserve, I don’t know what it is, but if you’re stuck at I can’t afford to, I promise you, experientially and I believe theologically you’re never gonna be able to. Okay, so tithing, the Bible, we just read that verse, teaches us, it teaches me about my heart. And so if you’re in here today and you’re like, man, I don’t want to or I can’t, what is that saying about what you believe, about your heart? What is that saying about your desires? What is that saying about your faith in God’s provision? What is that saying about your belief in blessing? Does God bless obedience or does God bless fear? Listen, I know this is uncomfortable, but my heart is to help you experience freedom. Tithing declares something, it declares God is here. That’s what Deuteronomy says. The place where his name dwells. I return 10%, why? Because I want God to dwell here. I want God to dwell over my life, over my marriage, over my kids, over this church, over your life. I want God to dwell in this place, and so I return 10%. This is so strong in the Bible, guys, that I want to challenge you. In the book of Malachi God does something very outside of his character, he says, bring it. He says, test me, test me around your tithing and see if I don’t open up the windows of heaven. Okay, there are many times in the Bible where someone tries to test God, and God’s like, you must be outside of your mind. Have you read the Book of Job? Job’s like, why, why, why, and God’s like, for real, ’cause I’m God and you ain’t. Malachi, God says, I’m gonna come down here and I’m just gonna say, just give it a shot. And so here’s what I want to do, I want to challenge you for the next calendar year, choose to take God at his word. Choose, I know you’re not gonna feel, I know there’s fear, I know there’s significance, will you just choose 10%, return it to God. And see what changes, see what changes. Return the first. Second, steward the rest. Okay, so watch, and this is the, I listened to sermons, I read books, these are the best ways that I know and the simplest ways that I know. Return the first, steward the rest. If you return the first and act like a knucklehead on the other 90%, you’re still in bondage, okay? And so I return the first and I steward the rest. Pastor, what do you mean by that? I mean I need you to get on a budget. 90% of Americans, 90% of Americans do not have a budget. Now, what is a budget? A budget is telling your money where to go before you have it. Come on somebody. Being in slavery, being in bondage, is always making decisions and you’re money telling you how to do it. Having a budget is being free of it and say, I’m gonna spend this before it’s in my account. Proverbs 21 and verse five, the plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Listen, how many of you guys have ever been in the store and you made a hasty decision? Checking the account, I don’t know if that’s cleared, that’s good, yeah, whatever, I deserve it. Right? And I have, you can ask my wife, hundreds of times, okay? My wife’s a saver, I’m a spender, I’m like, come on, we deserve this, make it rain. You need a budget, you need a budget, you need a budget, return 10, so I have 90. If God gives you 10 bucks, gotta give you a dollar. I’m living on the other nine. Let me give you a couple, snowball your debt, okay? You got five spots of debt, this is simple Dave Ramsey stuff. Five spots of debt, take your smallest, pay it off, take what you would’ve used to pay it off and start on the second and just get some momentum. Because a lot of you, your debt is caving in on you and you don’t know, and we say I’m gonna go to the biggest one first. No, you need some wins. Snowball your debt, get an emergency fund. Dave Ramsey, I don’t love absolutely everything that he says, but I do love this, you need an emergency fund, ’cause how many of you know Murphy always shows up? It’s amazing to me, the more stuff I have, the more stuff breaks. Have you noticed that? It’s weird, it’s a weird thing. And so I would say if you need to, just save up 500 bucks. So, God, I’m returning 10. God, I’m working to save 500 bucks. God, I’m working on a budget, and I’m paying off debt, okay? And then here’s the biggest one, the biggest one, the biggest one, find a friend to do it with. Find a friend to do it with. Have y’all heard the story of the guy, his house floods, and he goes up onto the rooftop and he starts praying, God, will you save me? And a guy comes by in a boat, right? Hey man, hop in the boat. No, no, no, God’s gonna save me. Okay, fair enough. Hanging out, water’s coming up. God save me, God save me, God save me. A ship comes by. The captain yells down, sir, we’re gonna send the dinghy down, I’ve always wanted to say dinghy in a sermon, all right? We’re gonna. We’re gonna send the dinghy down. Nope, God’s gonna save me. Okay. God save me, God save me, God save me. Helicopter comes by, we’re gonna send the rope down, sir. No, no, God’s gonna save me. Guy drowns, he dies. Gets to heaven, comes to St. Peter, and says, Pete, why didn’t God save me? Pete calls God and says, yeah, the moron you sent a boat, ship, and helicopter to is here. I’m not calling you a moron, I’m calling the belief system a moron, okay? Listen, you can’t do this alone. If you could, you would have. Okay, so let’s just be honest with one another. You need a friend, so let me just tell you, this is the reason that we do groups. I looked it up, we have a financial group. It’s on Tuesday evenings. A financial planner leads the group. I don’t got time for that. No, you don’t want to be free. ‘Cause some of you are so in debt and so in bondage that the idea of it not working on your calendar is like you telling a helicopter God’s gonna save me. God is saving you, get in a group. Get help, be honest. Man, I don’t like people being up in my business. Do you know slavery and secrecy are tied to one another? You’re talking about strongholds right now. You’re only as free as your secrets. Everybody in there is in there to get free. Everybody in there is in there to get help. Everybody in there is gonna have to say, yeah. And we’re gonna get free together by the grace of God. Come on, my wife and I, when we first got married I had a little bit of school debt, bought a car, and we had debt. And do you know what we went through? Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Why? ‘Cause I want to be free. Well, I got stuff on Tuesday. Move it! Seriously, figure it out friends, figure it out. Let’s be free, let’s be free. Why? So, number three, we can focus on true wealth. We can focus on true wealth. This is a intense story, Luke 12, 16 through 21, and he told them a parable, saying, the land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, what shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? And he said I’ll do this, I’ll tear down my barns, I’ll build bigger ones, and there I will store all of my grain and my goods, and I will say to my soul, soul, it’s funny when you’re talking to your soul in third person, right? Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, just relax, eat, drink, and be merry. Now, watch, that’s the American dream, isn’t it? Okay, American dream’s in the Bible, look at God’s response to it. But God said to him, fool, this night your soul is required of you, and the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. I’m gonna say it to you this way, God never mishandles what you give him. God never mishandles what you give him. You see, you don’t understand what you’re asking me to give up, you don’t understand what you’re asking me to do, you don’t, I don’t, but I understand who you’re giving it to. And God is worthy of what you give him. God is both worthy and never mishandles, and so my heart for you around your finances, listen, I said it at the beginning, I don’t need anything from you, I don’t. You guys, we’re a generous church by God’s grace, but I know for an absolute fact that we have people in here who are in bondage to a spiritual stronghold called money. And I what I want to declare over your life as simply as I can is that Jesus died to forgive you and to set you free, and that he’s worthy of your stuff as much as he’s worthy of your soul. And that whatever you give him in faith of what he says is true, he won’t fumble it. He’ll bless you, he’ll show up, he’ll provide for you. I can tell you that as a testimony in my own life. But in order to do it, we gotta stop believing the enemy, and we gotta start taking God at his word. Are you with me today? Hey, Pastor Tim here, I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email at amen@visitgraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there. And if you live in the Kansas City area, I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit, we’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together. Let us know how we can be of help to you, and I hope to see you soon.

– I wanna talk to you today about family and Foundations of a Strong Family is the title today. And maybe you’re in here and you’re like, man I don’t have a family, I don’t even have a spouse. I really actually want you to listen, this isn’t a spot for you to check out. I want you to really dial it in because as you’re developing your convictions, those convictions are gonna be formative in your relationships that are gonna turn into your marriage, they’re gonna turn in to your family. But like Let me tell you why I think this is important. I think that my family who I love is one of the most clear intersections of the gospel in my life. And here’s what I mean by that. There’s a space between what I want to be for my family and what I am. Okay, can I just be vulnerable with it for a minute?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– Oh, it’s gonna be like that today, huh? Okay, all right, all right. Come on, does anybody else feel that? And I love my family more, I have a wife and three kids; Ashley, Noah, Emma, Isaiah. Ash, I have been married 17 years. Noah as 12, Emma is 10, Isaiah is six. And I would do anything for them. Whenever I met my kids, whenever I got married to my wife I understood the gospel a little bit more. The willingness to give everything that I have for their blessing. But how many know no matter how much I love my wife, how much I love my kids. There are things that, my failings show up the most in my family. Are you with me?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– I love my kids more than I’m able to articulate, my wife more than I’m able to articulate. Maybe this has happened to you that you’re having that conversation with your kid. And you realize that what you’re looking at is a little version of you, right? Like, how dare, oh man, that’s me. I gave that to him, my bad. And so marriage and family is this point of disparity. What my intent is versus what my capability is. And so when you get frustrated in those spaces, this is a chance for you to be reminded that you need a Savior and his name is Jesus. To be reminded, don’t get frustrated at them. We don’t battle against flesh and blood, not your wife, not your kids, not your husband. There are principalities and powers that are at play here that we need to submit ourselves. Marriage and parenting an incredible place of need, and an incredible place of hope. If you’re a Christian in here today, let me just say to you this way, the promises of God are greater than the problems you’ve created. Come on, that’s a great spot for an amen.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– The promises of God are greater than the problems that you have in fact created. We’re all broken, we all make mistakes, we say things we wish we hadn’t said. We do things we wish we hadn’t done. The promises of God are greater than my mistakes, make space for his miracles. And so a Christian isn’t somebody who says, work harder you gotta be perfect. Or somebody says, God is perfect, I’m not God shows up when I’m the most broken and does for me what I can’t do for myself. The Book of Romans says, where sin abounds, come on, can you admit it? In your marriage there’s some stuff you wish was different. That if your husband’s not shaking his head right now you can go to the next steps desk instead of a counseling appointment, all right. Come on, we all got something. Don’t we all have things that we wish we were a little better parents. We wish we hadn’t said it that way. We wish that weren’t true about us, where sin abounds, grace does. Come on, talk to me what does it say, grace does much more abound. And so this is a spot of great hope for us. It’s a spot of weakness in need, but it’s a spot of power and promise and hope. The Bible says this, Proverbs 24 and verse three, by wisdom, a house is built. By wisdom a house is built. My understanding it is established, I’ve got a lot of things in my heart that I want my home to look like, that I want my legacy to look like. That I want the generation of the Dunns to be established in this kind of way. But what’s what happens in your mind when you read by wisdom a house is established? But I don’t have it right, I don’t have wisdom. And so we go to the book of James chapter one and verse five and it says this, if any of you, if any of you feel like there’s some stuff that you could be better at in your marriage. You could be a better parent. You can be a better husband or wife. You don’t know how to do it, let him ask God. Let him ask, I don’t know how to do this God or I do know how to do it but I can’t consistently get it done. Who gives generously to all without reproach. In other words, God’s never like, “Come on really? “You don’t already know that? “Come on really, you’re asking me again?” God never does that. Ask and it will be given to him. And so this is really, if you went home today, you really do have everything that you need. If you can look at both of these things, and be honest and say, “Man, there’s some areas that I want to, “but my capability is less than.” And you can be humble about that, you’re on your way. You know where to go and who to ask, you know that God will never mock you when you ask him. God says he’ll give generously when you ask and that where sin abounds, grace is much more abound. What I’m trying to say to you is if you walked in here today, and you’re feeling a little banged up, you’re feeling a little despairing, you’re feeling a little discouraged. Come on, there’s hope, there’s hope in Jesus. There’s hope in Jesus. In fact, we kind of wanted to come alongside this and in January 24 and 25th we’re gonna do a parenting conference. Guy by the name of Kirk Martin who runs an organization called Celebrate Calm. Come on, won’t you love to celebrate calm and your house? Celebrate Calm, he’s going to be here, Friday night and Saturday morning and then Sunday morning just giving us some wisdom. Some practical wisdom around what does it look like to be good and godly parents and not lose our mind in the middle of it? Come on, right are you with me? And so if you sign up before October 31, we’ll give you the early bird discount, 15 bucks. Okay, that’s as cheap as I know how to make it. Okay, you can’t even buy a Starbucks coffee for 15 bucks. It used to be, that’s one Starbucks coffee, and now it ain’t even a Starbucks coffee. Okay, listen, please sign up for that. Sign up for that and get some of that wisdom. I hate it, whenever I go to church and I have need and I have intent but I don’t know how and pastors talk over my head with macro theology and hypothetical scenarios. So I’m gonna try to live on the ground today with you. And I’m gonna be honest with you about some of the things that Ash and I have done well, and a lot of the things that I have not done well, you see what, see how that went right there? Ash and I well, Tim not so well, okay. So I wanna talk real practically, I want you to take good notes today, I got a lot of content for you. So I’m not gonna be able to go very slow. But I do think that God has a good word and God says to ask us for wisdom, so let’s do it right now. God, we love you and we need your help. We need your help to be godly sons and daughters. We need your help to be good followers of Jesus. We need your help to be healthy husbands and wives. We need your help to be the parents that you created us to be. The privilege that it is God to oversee a life in its forming years. And at the same time we wanna be humble enough to say some of us were struggling. Some of us are struggling in specific areas, and God we need help. And so we come to this space humble, honest, asking, trusting that grace is going to abound. Trusting that wisdom is going to be given. And so we ask that you would give us ears to hear and eyes to see. That we would walk out of here with God given tools for your glory and our joy. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen, amen. I wanna talk to you about family essentials, and family practices today. Family essentials and family practices. And the practices is actually just one, family practice. I’m gonna again, try to be as honest and helpful as I can today. The first essential and this is probably the most essential essential is that if you’re going to have a strong family, you need to have an authentic and observable faith. An authentic and observable faith. Y’all asked about marriage and parenting I hope that you know your relationship with God shows up in your marriage and your marriage shows up in you kids. And so we’re gonna talk through this holistically. Here’s the text proverbs 14 verse 26, in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence. What an interesting way to say it, right? In the fear of God, this kind of overwhelming, oh my goodness, you are big and powerful and strong and holy. Whenever you see God in the Old Testament, you see people keep falling down in front of him, right? Just this overwhelming presence of God. In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence. If you fear God today, you have a confidence that God’s bigger than your problems. That God’s promises are bigger than your problems. That God’s miracles are more available than your mistakes, and his children will have a refuge. Roll that back, if you don’t have that your kids don’t have a safe spot. And so this fundamental essential that if I’m going to provide my kids a refuge, I don’t want that to be in me. ‘Cause I’m limited, because I’m flawed, because I have weaknesses and brokenness. I want that to be in him. I want them to see God for who he is through me and have a confidence and a safety in who God is. Here’s another one, Joshua 24 and verse 15. If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, isn’t it interesting in our culture right now? I feel like it used to be that just the Christian faith was the punch line, but now isn’t it just faith in general? Right just it oh, yeah, you’re one of the, and look, this has always been going on. If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day who you’re gonna serve Joshua is saying, look man, I get it. I get that there’s lots of options. I get there’s lots of vernacular and philosophies and pads. Whether the gods of the father served in the region beyond the river beyond the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me in my house, come on somebody, right. As for me in my house, we are gonna serve the Lord. You see what Joshua was doing there? Joshua has this authenticity, this declaration, this confidence that is both authentic and observable. This is one of the spaces that I wanna be honest with you that I’ve made mistakes. God saved me on October 18th, 1994. And really, I’ve had dry seasons, but no seasons where I haven’t really been in love with God. God’s been unbelievably faithful to me. I’ve done my best to walk with him. But the mistake that I’ve made is that sometimes even with my family, even though it was authentic, it wasn’t always observable. I don’t mean in my behavior, I mean, in the practice of me walking with God. I mean that my kids have had seasons where they don’t see me even though I was reading my Bible praying, worshiping. All the things I tell you to do, they didn’t see me doing it and can I tell you they need to. They need to be able to observe the practice and observe the behavior that comes with it. I’ve even had seasons with my wife where I would spend time with God. And I’d hear from God and I, but I wasn’t doing it with her. I wasn’t doing it with her parents, your kids need to see you walking with God. And this is a challenge because I read my Bible, sometimes I read in this thing, but most the time I read on this, but I do other things on this, right? I do work on this, I watch shows on this. I do all kinds of things. So sometimes I’m spending time with God and my kids think that I’m on Netflix. And so I just wanna encourage you in the real tangible practice, even if it’s the second time that you spend time with God to do it in a spot that your kids can see dad is spending time with God right now. Dad’s praying right now. Your kids need to be able to observe and connect dots in observable practices of the God that you follow. This isn’t showboating for you to do this, this is teaching, okay. And so I would pick a spot that is well trafficked, especially in the morning. I would pick a spot that when your kids come down the stairs or up the stairs or out of their room, mom and dad are at the wherever, at the table, at the fireplace, on the couch, and they’re spending time with God. It doesn’t have to be some big church service. It just needs to be that your kids see, I regularly walk with God because I want to, okay. Because I want to, here’s another one. I want you to tie what they love back to God. And this is a big one, because most of us tie the Bible back to rules and correction. Are you with me? Is that just me? Maybe that’s just me, yeah. We really bring out the Bible when they’re in trouble. And we don’t understand what we’re saying at a macro level about God to our kids. God only shows up when you’ve done something wrong. So whenever my little girl, I was looking at pictures of my little girl her name is Emma and she’s not so little anymore. She’s riding skateboards and playing in plays and doing all that thing. When she was little had this squeaky voice, had to have glasses so we bought her, I bought her these hipster glasses. These like real thick rim red glasses and the squeaky voice and my little girl love pink at the time. Everything pink, room pink, clothes pink. If she can make it pink, she made it pink. And everything that I’m giving you today I’ve either just flat out stole or I’ve been taught by someone or I’ve learned it the hard way. So I had someone say to me, “Take the thing your kids love and connect it God.” So I went home and I was like, “Hey Emmy guess who made pink?” And she’s like, “What do you mean?” In like this real squeaky voice, “Who made pink?” And I was like, “Yeah, who made pink.” And she goes, “The crayon company?” And I was like, “No baby, not the crayon company.” And she was like, “Then why does…” We got off track right? No, no, I’m trying to teach you about God come on, right. And the crayon company and that the school and then the grocery store. No, “Well then who made think God made pink?” “God made pink, God made pink.” “God made pink?” “Yeah isn’t that cool that this thing that you love, “that you like looking at that God made that.” My oldest boy Noah loves fishing catch. Can I tell you I don’t know a doggone thing about fishing. I don’t know anything about fishing. I don’t have any desire to go fishing. None, none. But you know my kid he brings home fish and he’s showing me this fish and he’s smiling ear to ear. And I’m always like, “Dude, look at that fish “that’s beautiful like compared to…” And I’m trying to remember the other fish so that I can be, “Look how creative God is. “Look how, ain’t that cool that God let you, “they give you a sunny day.” The other day we got down to a food service because we’re kind of busy and they brought the freezer and it’s full of food. And I opened that freezer door and I call my kids out and the freezer stocked top to bottom. I’m like, “Look at how faithfully God provides for us, man.” Listen, there’s been times my kids say, I’ll get crying in the grocery store ‘Cause I grew up in a single parent home. And I know what it’s like to not have enough money to fill up that grocery cart, right? And I’m driving through and I got stuff that’s good for my body and other stuff is good for mouth, come on somebody, right? And it’s overflowing and I’ll get crying in the grocery store that God would see fit to pay my bills, and feed me. Not only what I need, but what I want. And I always try to take all the things that my kids really enjoy and say, “Isn’t God awesome?” Right, now are there other times that you need to correct? Yeah, are there other times that you need to say God says and so we do? Yeah, but most of the time, you want your kids watching you knowing and enjoying God. Authentic and observable, authentic and observable. I say to my kids, when they were little, “Who loves you more than me?” And they’d be like, “Nana.” “No, Nana doesn’t love you more than me!” Oh gonnit! Right. And so then they would be like, “No one.” And I was like, “That’s not true. “Who loves me more than you? “God does.” And so you ask my kids now, “Who loves you more than your mom and dad?” “God,” “Then who?” “No one.” Trying to build these things in, authentic okay. If you wanna do devotion time, great do devotion time. You want to take them through studies, great take them through studies. But you you want them to watch you walking with God. Are you with me? Number two, set an intentional pace. Set an intentional pace. What’s the key word in that point? Intentional, intentional. All of us got a pace. We all got a pace, I mean we’re back to school sports are starting, pace is a legitimate thing for. So I want you to set an intentional pace. Here’s the text, Psalm 39 and verse six. Surely a man goes about as a shadow, you ever felt that way at the end of a day? Right, you just kind of collapse into the bed. Surely for nothing they are in toil, man heaps up wealth and does not know who’s gonna gather it. Got all their stuff don’t know how I’m gonna organize it. Don’t got a budget, don’t got, my house is a mess. It’s just, I’m just going from thing to thing to thing. Here’s another one Ecclesiastes four and verse six. Better is a handful of quietness and all the parents in the house said, amen, for the love of god please stop talking. Right, please stop knocking on the door, please stop asking me for, please stop talking back, please stop bickering between. Better is a handful of quietness and this is my life verse right now. Than two hands full of toil and a striving after the wind. God says listen, all of these things you’re going to and these things that are happening and you’re so busy and so let me just help you on this. I want you to set a pace toward presence. Set a pace, so that you can be present whenever they are proximate to you. Now why is this important? Because how many of you, you go out on family dinner. I was watching a restaurant a couple weeks ago. And I see this all the time now, four family members sitting at a restaurant table all of them on their phone. You see, you know I’m talking about? And here’s the thing that happens in the house too. And what is it? It’s that my pace is crashing into my present time. I got so much going on that even though I’m with you physically, and that’s the only way that I’m with you. Can I tell you, your kids, they don’t care how much money you make it. I don’t think they care how big the house is. They care whether or not when you are with them and they are with you, you’re paying attention. And can I also tell you, your spouse doesn’t care. Listen, I’ve gotten a raise and it’s cool for about a month and a half. And then it’s just normal, right? It’s cool for the first vacation that you can stay instead of a two and a half star. You can stay at a three star, you know what I’m talking about? Look at us, yeah, but can I tell you eventually, that three star isn’t gonna make up for when you’re in the room with her you’re on your phone instead of listening. Listen, if you can’t be present, you don’t have a presence problem you have a pace problem. Your pace is going into and so here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take weekly dates, take weekly dates, family time together. Ours is Friday night, we’ve done movie night, we’ve done game night, we’ve done pizza night. We do anything that we can to bribe our kids to enjoy spending time with us, right. And so far, they still do, and I’m grateful for that. But the point is just that we do it. And that when we do at mom and dad, our phones are off, and our attention is present. The thing that your kids are going to remember, isn’t the Netflix show that they watch with you. Listen I’m trying to be helpful. The thing that they’re going to remember is the drive time that Pastor Dunn in the summer. Something I need to say, and also not watching Netflix while you’re driving ’cause I’ve seen y’all out on the road. It’s a scary thing right, no just paying attention, being present. And so I want you to set an intentional pace so that you can be present when they are in approximation to you. Leave work at work, I’m too busy to do that. No, you’re not, you’re not. You don’t know what I do, I know. I know that I don’t know what you do. But I know that I never get to the end of the day and go got everything done. That’s never happened to me, ever. What do I have to say? I’m gonna take off this hat. And I’m gonna put on this hat. And when I don’t, it’s not because I don’t wanna be present. It’s because my pace is dictating my presence. Okay, so authentic, be intentional about an authentic and observable faith. Be intentional about my pace and then number three, I want you to protect relationships. Protect relationships. Here’s the text Proverbs 13:12, whoever walks with the wise becomes what?

– [Congregation] Wise.

– Becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Let me be real practical with you, I’m gonna give you some on the ground stuff. I think that you need to have regular planned check-ins. I think you need to do it with your spouse call it whatever you want. Call it a date, call it a business meeting. Not that kind of business you know I’m talking about? All right, no. But maybe you need to do that too. Come on, don’t be shaking your head, no, yes. Planned times together. So my wife and I we do Friday morning breakfast, we close the office on Fridays, ’cause it’s a work day today, all right? And so we always on Friday morning, we go out to breakfast and we do our best to turn off the phones and we talk about what’s going on. For a while we had so much going on, we first moved here lots of moving pieces, lots of moving parts. So we would do Friday morning breakfast and Sunday night business which was calendar and budget and all those things. And we separated those two because how many you know a date that turns into a business meeting turns into a not fun day? So separate them, I don’t have time to do that. Yeah you do, yeah you do. This is about you understanding what’s going on and what you need to be investing in. Can I tell you need to do same thing with your kids. My kids call it daddy dates. “Dad when we go on daddy date?” And I take them over to Panera or someplace with better coffee than Panera, right. And we talk and we listen. And and I’m listening for their hearts around what’s coming up. But I gotta do that on a regular basis. So regular check-ins. Can I tell you you need a culture gauge? ‘Cause the culture pastors you kid. I hope you know that. It’s amazing to me how little parents know about the voices that are speaking into our kids lives. So maybe even more, you need to know the music the kids are listening to. Okay, if what your kids are listening to could not be spoken in your home, they ought not be listening to it. Okay now just saying it, I’m not talking about like, I’m not trying to make this weird and religious, I listen to everything. But I listened to everything partially because I enjoy most of it. And secondly, ’cause I’m a listen to it for my kids do. Okay, and if they’re saying stuff, that I would be very unhappy with them saying to my wife, or about somebody else, they ain’t gonna listen to it. I don’t care what the beat is. Secondly, what are they watching? What are they watching? It’s a whole new world right now. It’s a whole new world. Listen, I had to work to watch terrible things when I was a kid. Now, we give them a phone and it comes to them and we never check. We never check what they’re watching. We never check the theology that’s being spoken over their life. The relational advice that they’re giving and who’s giving it to them. The videos that were what, come on YouTube for real? Right? It ain’t even about the video that they’re watching it’s about the 90 on the side that they can scroll and click to. And you don’t know what, can I just give you my opinion on one more, video games. You know, I play video games with my boys but, and my girl but we don’t do the shoot ’em up games. ‘Cause I ain’t trying to teach you how to sniper rifle someone’s head off. Come on somebody. Come on, we’re Christians. We believe in the value of human life. Now I’m not trying to be prudish. I’m not trying to be religious. This is my perspective, not yours, but here’s what I am saying. You better know and better be intentional. And you better have a plan okay. Here’s another one monitor your kids’ friends. Monitor your kids’ friends, know who your kids are hanging out with. Know where they live, know where they live, right? If I gotta show up at your house, I need to know how to get there, right. No, listen, know where they live. Talk to their parents. Know what’s going on? Let me talk to you, especially teenagers right now, Second Corinthians 6:14, Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or fellowship has light with darkness? Listen, I don’t know how this turned into something that was subjective or prudish, okay. Listen, I’ve done an incredible amount of counseling with people who used to think they were cute, the cute went away and now I regret that we’re together. I can’t tell you the amount of heartache that I can save you if you’ll just simply take God at his word. Now I get it, he’s so handsome. He looks so great out on the field, She looks so, that will go away. Trust me, come on, can I get a good amen. That will go away, all right. And then you’re left with what they are. You’re left with whether or not they love Jesus. And here’s the other one that drives me crazy. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 10 years, and they got saved last night, and so now we’re good. Stop it with that, okay. Unequally means we’re not going to the same place. We don’t love the same things. We don’t hear God the same way. We don’t have the same vision. It doesn’t just mean they prayed a prayer last night. And believe more about what God has for you. Value yourself more to say, if you wanna get connected to this, you got to be some kind of special thing. I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care how popular you are. I have a calling on my life that comes from Almighty God and you gotta show me that you’re worthy of that before I’m gonna spend any time with you. I don’t care what you said to Jesus last night. Come on, value, value. And parents who you kids crushing on? Well I don’t know, why? How can you not know that? If they’re crushing, the next thing is they be dating and after they be dating, they be married. That’s how it works, you don’t ever get married to someone you haven’t first dated that you first had a crush on. So what I’m trying to say is don’t be arguing about it when they want to get married, be arguing about it when they be crushing. Are you with me?

– [Congregation] Yeah. Be involved, be involved. And then lastly, pray for other voices, why? ‘Cause I’m not the wisest dude that my boys are ever gonna run into. I will tell you, God’s been really kind to me, in this regard. Come into grace way I prayed for men, good men who love Jesus to speak into my kid’s life. One of them sitting in this service right now. He comes in, he picks up my boy and I trust him. They both like the same thing. And while that guy’s caring for my boys heart, he’s talking to him about Jesus. And I would pay everything that I have for that guy doing that, right? And so it’s not only who’s speaking passively and it’s intentionally, who am I asking to speak into my kid’s life? Okay, so you go up to somebody and you say, here’s a $50 Bill, would you take my kid to lunch in the next three weeks? Why? Because I need multiple voices in my daughter’s heart telling her about Jesus. Telling her that she’s more worthy of it than that. Telling her that that show and that video game and those things that her heart is desiring, she doesn’t know what to do with, that Jesus is greater than. Protect relationships. Number four, are you still with me?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– Live in purpose, live in purpose. In the Old Testament, this is called the blessing. You see it, you see fathers who are At the end of their life and their family is brought in and the father gives each kid a blessing. Remember Jacob and Esau, Jacob steals the birthright, the blessing and Esau freaks out, right? You see Jacob with his sons, he goes through and he gives them each a blessing. It is a statement of I love you unconditionally. It’s a statement of you’re valuable where you sit for who you are not for what you do. It’s a statement of you have unique purpose and I’m committed to helping you get to it. The Blessing is about the future. The Blessing is about your belief in your kid, or your belief in your spouse. I have a personal experience with this. I’m 19 years old, my folks go to court, I go with my mom knowing that if I go with my mom, my relationship to my dad is over, and it was. It was for the majority of my life. I haven’t had a relationship with my dad because of this event. And one of my father figures his name was Dick Bradley did three things. Number one, he went to court with me. Didn’t have to, love Jesus and love me enough to take his time to show up, intentional. He gave me a $20 bill and he gave me a book called “The blessing”. That book still in print written by Gary Chapman and John Trent talking about what is the blessing. Talking about how even if your earthly father didn’t give you one, your heavenly Father gives you one, right? He said, “Here’s 20 bucks. “I’m gonna drive you to a coffee shop “and you’re going to sit there “and drink this $20 worth of coffee. “And read this book cover to cover.” I’ve read that book 50 times now. This understanding, one, that my heavenly Father says those things over my life. And this understanding that I don’t wanna fail in giving my boys, my daughter, my wife the blessing that can only come from me. Listen, you have weight in your spouse’s life, women to men, men to women, parents to kids, that cannot be replaced. Cannot be replaced. And it’s talking about what I see in you. It’s talking about how God uniquely created you. It’s talking about your commitment to get them there. That’s why it’s important for you to monitor what’s going on. That’s why it’s important for you to have a pace that you can be present. That’s why important for you to be hearing from God so you can speak into their life. Paul says it this way, Acts 20 and verse 24. But do, but I do not account my life has any value nor is precious to myself, if only that I might finish, what’s the next word? Is it up there? My course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of grace. Paul says, I have a ministry. I have a ministry based on how God has put me together. It’s part of God’s blessing in my life. This is what have for your future son. This is the ministry and listen, if you’re sitting in here today, God has a blessing on your life. This is who you are. This is what I feel about you, this is your value. This is the gifting that I’ve given you. This is the ministry that I have for you. This is the future that I have for you and I’m committed to getting there with you, that’s what a blessing is. So watch what is, living in purpose. And this is one, this is probably, I think these are all essentials. Saying to your kids listen, you don’t gotta be good at everything. It’s crazy to me how much pressure we put on our kids. We, okay you don’t gotta be good at everything. But God did create you to be incredible at a couple things. Right God did, and parents you need to know what your kids are and spouses you need to know what your spouses are, okay. So my wife is a builder. My wife is generous. My wife is hospitable I got a kid that’s autistic, I have a kid that’s got a mind, right, for math and for science. I got a kid who’s granola and crunchy and commonsensical and a cuddler and nurturing right. And I’m collecting information as I’m watching them. When they’re coloring and drawing and writing in school. I’m just collecting okay God is that it? Is that it? Is that it? How do I speak into that? How do I encourage that? How do I build that up in them? I do the same in my wife but here’s the thing you gotta be careful of and here’s why. As you’re speaking into that, you have to be careful that you’re not tearing down on the other side. Okay, so Ephesians four, let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion that it might give grace to those who hear. This is about how they hear it, not what you said. So, let me help you on this. One of my wife’s gifting, this is around hospitality. That is not my gift, come on, right. I’m really, I’m good at two things. I’m good at leading and talking. And I can teach you to do both. But hospitality when we got married early on and I failed, because hospitality takes time and I’m like, “Come on we gotta go. “Come on, come on, come on.” And what I was doing was I was tearing down gifting. Are you with me?

– [Congregation] Yeah.

– It ain’t your gift, because it ain’t about what you hear. It’s about me speaking into something that God uniquely put in her. I got a another kid, he’s orderly and organized. And he’s always asking questions. He’s a smidge high strung, but he’s just got a brain that’s always going. And when I get impatient, right, . What am I doing? I’m tearing down, tearing down. Can I tell you almost all of my regrets in my marriage and with my kids happened right here. I told you, I’m good at running my mouth. I talk fast, I talk passionately, I talk with conviction. I fill out a room, which is who God has made me to be. So I can build you up and I can tear it right back down. And I have to know that and you have to know your purpose, and you have to know their purpose so that you can bless it. So that you can bless it, it’s important. You need an authentic faith. So you know, God loves you, and God has plans for you and purpose for you. You gotta have a pace so you can listen. You gotta monitor ’cause the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy. And then you wanna encourage and live in and build up and come alongside what God is doing. Okay, those are the essentials, those are the essentials. Family practices is one thing, it’s one thing. It’s to practice what we’re gonna call amazing grace. Can I tell you, ain’t nobody got time for regular grace. I don’t need regular grace, I need some amazing grace up in here. I need some amazing grace up in here. And so let me say it to you this way. And this is going to fly over your head. So I’m just gonna, I’m gonna say it a couple times. If you will not serve, you cannot succeed. If you won’t serve your spouse, you can’t succeed in your marriage. If you won’t serve your kids, you can’t succeed as a parent. You say, well, where are you getting that? James 4:6, but he gives more grace. Therefore it says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Okay, there isn’t a person in your life that doesn’t need grace from you. And the closer they are to you, the more you need from them and the more they need from you. Listen the purest view of who you are, happens in front of your spouse and kids. And you need grace from them. And they need grace from you. And you need to practice it every day. Meaning you need to do it every day and you need to get better at it each and every day. ‘Cause it’s difficult, it’s difficult. But can I tell you you’re never gonna regret showing grace. You know, talking about? You’re gonna regret dropping the hammer. You’re gonna regret reciting the rules, you’re gonna regret micromanaging. You’re gonna regret being on, and but you’ll never regret being gracious. And we need to practice this in our families. How do you do that? Number one, you gotta be comfortable with acknowledging in your mistakes, man. I had a conversation with a buddy of mine on our patio. His kids are grown, my kids are not. And we’re just talking about being a dad and just, it’s hard, man, it’s hard. We said we were talking about what’s, if you would boil it down what’s the thing that has be in place? And I think it’s one thing, I think it’s humility. I don’t think that your family can overcome pride and arrogance. I don’t think your marriage can overcome pride and arrogance. I think that your spouse needs to hear you say, I was wrong and I’m sorry, please forgive me on the regular. Why? Romans three and verse 23, for…

– [Congregation] All.

– That includes me, I have sinned, and I fall short of the glory of God. And even if I don’t wanna admit it, they already know it. And so part of grace as a practice is the willingness to humble yourself before your spouse and your kids. To look at the log in your own eye as you’re trying to discipline the speck in theirs. Come on, I don’t think your family can overcome, dads I don’t think your kids will overcome self-righteousness. I’m not talking about how much you know, I know how much you know. I know how much you memorize. I know how much you read but if they never hear you say I’m sorry, it’s incredibly difficult to overcome. If your spouse never hears you say I was wrong, I shouldn’t have said it. I shouldn’t have said it that way, please forgive me. And some of us we need to practice this and we need to lastly apply God’s grace to our relationships. How do you apply God’s graces, two things? I gotta abandon, revenge. You say, “I don’t revenge.” Yeah, you do. “What do you mean?” You always got to have the last word, right? Even if I don’t get the last word, I do the silent treatment. Or I say, “You can make your own dinner.” I just got to get my last jab. And here’s what God says, beloved, what’s the next? Never avenge yourselves? Leave it God for it is written, “Vengeance is mine.” I’ll take care of it, I got it, okay. But being a grace filled family is the practice and it’s practice and some of us need a little more practice, you know what I’m saying, right. I’m gonna let it go. I’m not gonna have to have the last word, I’m gonna have to be ready. I’m gonna say that I’m sorry, without expecting you to say it back. And then I’m gonna forgive, it’s two things, quickly. Come on, the Bible says don’t let the sun go down on your anger. And you can over systematized that but it’s amazing to me how long some couples will go multiple days, if not weeks, mad at each other and not think they’re putting bad seed in their relationship. Come on what is really that big of a deal that you can’t get to the end of the day and say, my part in that is my bad in that. And I 1,000% own that and I love you and I love this and I’m grateful to what God has given us. And I’m not gonna go into tomorrow letting bitterness or anger or frustration, or any kind of mistrust, get planted in our hearts toward one another.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– Forgive quickly, and then forgive quietly. They’re not gonna ask for your forgiveness for you to give it to them. Then I’m gonna say a certain thing for you to say it back. Why? Because because we’re Christians, friends. Because we’re Christians. And because God loved us first. First John four says, in this love, not that God, not that we have loved God but he loved us and sent his son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, shouldn’t we love one, shouldn’t you love your wife back just similar? Shouldn’t that be aspirational? That I wanna go first in love. I wanna go first in forgiveness. I wanna go last in revenge. I’m gonna go last in getting that last word. here’s here’s the way that this works. Once you pack up stuffs you can listen here. In the Bible, there’s this practice in the book of Genesis that were introduced to a guy by the name of Laban. And Laban and has two daughters and this guy wants to marry his his daughters. Jacob wants to marry his daughters and they get sideways on this and Jacob tries to split on Laban and Laban chases him. And the night before he’s about to catch him, God says to Laban, “And that thing “that’s in your heart to do to him, “you better not do it.” And so labor and comes and kind of humbles himself before Jacob and they create a pillar of stone. And in this practice, it’s a covenant between one another. And here’s how it works. It’s, you said that, and then this happened. And then I said that, and then this and then you said that again. And some of us, our marriage has turned into kind of a pillar of resentment and bad memories, are you with me? And then and then and then. Here’s what a Christian is. A christian is, and then God did that. And then he filled up the freezer. And then he gave me that little girl. And he gave me this wife with these gifts. And my boys, he’s forgiven me. Called me, then this, then this. And there’s this covenant between you and I, that is this heap of stones, not on what you did, and then what I did, but on what God did and what it makes us. In a Christian family, it isn’t a perfect family. We started with the Gospels, you’re not perfect, but Jesus says, and so he makes you perfect through his blood. A Christian family is a family that has a covenant of, I’m gonna get better at grace each and every day. I’m gonna practice on you, why? And so we’re gonna go into this opportunity to respond. And I’ve gone long today, I felt like there was a lot that God put on my heart. But I wanna end it in this way. As we sing this song of praise, I want you to just do that practice just, and then God. That’s what praise is and just comes out of your mouth in a melody. But it’s the practice, of a heap of gratitude, of a heap of phrase that we offer to God. It’s a covenant between us and him. And then in that time of prayer, I want you to consider the heap that you’ve been taking care of in your heart towards your wife, towards your husband, towards your kids. I wanna ask you to ask God to forgive you. And to start taking that thing apart. You see the first step in you having a strong family isn’t for you to go home and look at the calendar? It’s for you to come to God and say, God, I’m sorry that I was unwilling to give to the spouse who I say that I love something that you gave to me first. The first step is to maybe go home and say to your kids, “Daddy was wrong. “Daddy messed up. “God forgives daddy and I’m gonna ask you to forgive daddy.” Listen, do you know what will happen in your kid’s heart if you’ll do that? Do you know what will happen in your spouse’s heart if you’ll humble yourself? God will come alongside you. But if you go home with that heap of stones in your heart, of anger, resentment, God says I oppose you, I oppose you. And so what I’m asking you to do in this time is just to gather up the stones of God’s provision to release the stones that are burdening your heart and your family and your marriage. That bucket comes by, yeah man, of course, I’ll drop in ’cause I got that freezer story. ‘Cause I got that time the bills got taken care of, ’cause you’ve been that good. Of course, I’m willing to do that. But the work that I want you to do is the foundational work, what’s God saying to you? Now you’re gonna be willing to do it. Hey pastor Tim here, I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email it amen@visitgraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there. And if you live in the Kansas City area, I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit. We’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together. Let us know how we can be of help to you and I hope to see you soon.

– Talking about end times today and let me just throw out a couple words to you that I think get thrown out when it comes to end times. Things like the second coming. Things like the rapture. Things like the tribulation, the apocalypse, Armageddon, the Antichrist. Right, and it’s always interesting to me when these topics come up in church because there’s all kinds of different perspectives and all kinds of different understandings and some of them, not all of them, but some of them are backed up in scripture and so we want to come to this topic open-handed, open-hearted, humble, and trying to understand god’s intent for us around the things that he does and doesn’t say to us. Obviously there’s some books in the Bible that God seems to talk about what we’re gonna call the end times, the largest amount, the book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, get at some of these topics. I hope that you’ll understand that for me to give you a full-throated comprehensive understanding of end times in 35 minutes is gonna be a little bit difficult, but let me do just frame this up for you as best as I know how to do it and really I spent a lot of time over the last couple weeks just saying God, what’s the most important thing for us to understand when it comes to end times? And so here’s what I wanna do this. I want to talk about when is Jesus coming back, when is Jesus coming back, right? And here’s a verse that God gives us in Matthew 24:34-37 love for you to get over there, if you don’t have a Bible we’ll give you one. If you have a smartphone download the YouVersion Bible app. It’s a great app. I use it literally every single day of my life, but want you have a relationship to this book. In Matthew 24:34-37, here’s what it says, this is Jesus speaking. “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away “until all of these things take place.” Jesus has just gone through a litany of events that will occur, he says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, “but my words will not pass away.” That’s an important thing if you’re a person of faith, if you’re not a person of faith for you understand that God says all this that we’re all worried about, that we’re all stressed out about, this is all going away. This, this remains. And so if you want a firm strong foundation in your life, let me encourage you do not spend a lot of time down the rabbit hole of what’s coming, spend a lot of time with Jesus and what’s here.

– [Audience] Amen.

– Come on that deserves a way better amen than the two people that were like amen, all right. Are you tired today? Come on help me out here, talk back to me today. We’re talking about end times, help a brother out, all right? But concerning that day okay, the day that Jesus comes back in the hour, what’s the next three words? No one knows. That should frame the entire conversation for us moving forward. Jesus says, “The day that I’m coming back nobody knows.” So if any preacher or any pastor stands up and says, “I got a word from God and God said he’s coming back.” that pastor is a what?

– [Audience] Liar.

– He’s a liar, okay? If there’s an overabundance of certainty around these things. The framing that Jesus gives this is not absolute comprehensive certainty. There’s a lot of uncertainty around this. Here’s what he says, “Concerning that day and hour “no one knows, not even the angels heaven, nor the Son.” Jesus says, “I don’t know.” “But the Father only”, here’s the clarifier, “For as were the days of Noah,” the context of the days of Noah, “So will be the coming of the Son of Man.” So let me give you in the midst of a lot of speculation, a lot of opinion, a lot of different controversy, really around this, let me just give you four things to be absolutely certain about. Are you ready? Number one and most importantly, Jesus is coming back. That should be enough of an end times eschatological theological hermeneutic for you to go home and sleep like a baby, okay? Jesus is coming back for absolute certain. Jesus in bodily form in a day that he says, “I don’t know what it is, “but the Father’s gonna let me know.” Today’s the day big boy, let’s go do it, right? I’m going to come back physically to this earth and when I do I am going to set foot on my creation and I’m gonna take the whole story back, right? I’m gonna take everything that’s broken, I’m gonna take everything that’s gone sideways, I’m going to reconcile, restore, and resurrect everything according to my will, why? ‘Cause it’s mine. Right? I’m coming back to get what’s mine. Y’all been renting it, you’ve been tearing up, tearing up my house, I’m gonna come back and take my house back, right? Might have to do a little work to it. Jesus is coming back the New Testament teaches that Jesus’s return has drawn near. Hebrews 10:25. It has drawn near. In revelation 22:10 it says that it is near. In Romans 13:11 it says it’s nearer then when you first believed. In other words, look, this is happening sooner than you think it’s happening. It is an absolute certainty the specifics of his return, Jesus himself, this is another certainty, says, “I don’t know.” And so we can all just take a deep breath, okay? If Jesus don’t know, you don’t need to know. If Jesus is like it’s really up to him, it’s in his mind, it’s in his heart, and he’s gonna let me know and I trust him to let me know what I need to know when I need to know it, we can probably just take a deep breath and put all of the stack of eschatological books down at Barnes & Noble, okay? Just everyone take a deep breath. The bible does tell us what the world will be like when Jesus returns, okay? Jesus is coming, Jesus says he does not know when, the Bible does tell us what the world will be like and here’s the thing that’s most important for you, the Bible tells us how to prepare for his return. The Bible tells us how to prepare. Let me be honest with you. I could take the next 30 minutes of your lifetime that you will never get back and tell you what I think the specifics of the end time will be like. I can go through and I say and then this means that and this number means that and this type means that and I can do all that, I’ve done all that work. All that’s well and good, but can I tell you? That and a quarter won’t buy you a cup of coffee. I want to help you today because I know that some of you are like woo-woo, he’s gonna talk about who’s the Antichrist, I bet it’s Trump, right? The rest of you are like nah, it was Obama, right? And the others of you are like nah, it’s the pope. Stop, stop, stop. It’s the European Union. No, just stop, stop, just everyone calm down around this. Okay? I don’t think that that’s going to help you. I actually have a significant caution for you, if you’re a follower of Jesus. I had a buddy who said to me one time, if you want a big church, speak on one of two things. Talk about sex and talk about end times and so I want to introduce our new series, sex and end times. After wisdom and word, we’re gonna scrap wisdom and worship, sex and end times, it’s gonna be awesome. Invite cards out there for you. But it’s interesting to me because I think that Christians get enamored with the details of end times and I just want to say really how helpful is it to you? How helpful is it to you to always be wondering what this one means and what’s happening in the Middle East and who’s the president and what’s going on with Congress and why did the your European union vote for that and why is the moon that color and I just want to ask you how has that served your heart? Has that warmed your heart to God himself? Has that warmed your heart to the plans and purposes of God or has it made you cynical, skeptical, and worried? And I just wanna to ring the bell that if God wanted us to have the specifics of what’s going to happen in specific order and all the symbols and types and this and that and all those kind of things, I imagine that when he saved you he would have taken you to heaven, given you a glorified mind, and let you know the whole story, but he didn’t. So many of us in this room, God saved us many, many years ago and you’re still here and let me tell you why you’re still here because God says, “I’m leaving you here with something to do “and I will be with you to the end of this age.” God says, you got a job to do, I’m with you to the end of this age and I just want to say to some of us, who get really enamored with this, don’t worry about that age, worry about this age. Be dialed in to what God’s doing in this age. The Bible talks about end times for absolute certain. There’s a lot of different opinions, a lot of different ways, but there is perfect clarity when the Bible talks about living prepared for Jesus to come back and part of it is for you to help others prepare for Jesus to come back. And I think that sometimes we get neck deep, eyeball deep, over our head deep in opinions about things that God appears to put less than perfect clarity around at the expense of loving the presence of God and loving people that God says he left us on this planet to prepare for his return. We’ve got to put this back in the priority fronts. We got to put end times really where it’s supposed to be. The responsibility for events then are in the heart and mind of God. Where they should be. The responsibility of preparation is in our hands right now. What’s happening? That’s up to God. When it happens, that’s up to God. In what order, that’s up to God. Who did it, who done it, who’s gonna do it? That’s up to God. God already said the great commission, that’s up to y’all. Now I’m gonna be with you to the end of this age, but there’s some work that you need to do before I choose to come back. So the Bible calls the period before the return of Jesus, there’s lots of names for it, calls it the last days, calls it the end of the age. Let me get nerdy with you for a little second around this and just free you up from some of this. The Bible never says how long the last days will be. The Bible never says how long that period is and so I just want you to think about, picture this corner being the first coming of Jesus, when Jesus come we celebrate the Easter and in Christmas Jesus comes, lives for a little over 30 years and then goes back to the Father. We’re in this age, lots of people call it the age of grace, the church age, whatever, right? Jesus is gonna be coming back here. Some theologians say the last days is the last part of that age. Are you tracking with me?

– [Audience] Yeah.

– And some theologians say there are, specific things are gonna happen in this little sliver of time that’s going to predicate the return of Jesus and at that point woo, be paying attention baby because big things are about to happen. Now watch. Other theologians say that the last days isn’t the last days of this age, but it’s the last days of the whole thing. Are you with me? The last days of the whole thing means that Jesus came at this spot maybe 21, 2,200 years ago. That pales in comparison for how long the story is the end of the age that God began in Genesis 1:1. And so some theologians say it isn’t this little sliver of time over here that things are going to go crazy but it’s actually the space between when Jesus first came and when Jesus is gonna come back. Here’s the reason that I say this to you. When you read the New Testament if you don’t come to it with any type of preface or pre bias you get the very strong impression that Peter and Paul and James and John thought they were living in the last days. And so I also just want you to take a deep breath, okay? This is worse than it’s ever been. Jesus is gonna come back. Listen to me okay, do a little bit of history and look at the lives of Christians in the early church. Do a little bit of history and look at what’s going on in the world right now for people who believe what you and I believe and the price that they’re paying, I bet that they think they’re living in the last days if not the tribulation. So I think we just need to take a big step back and we just need to think about this from a macro spiritual biblical godly perspective and say, there’s a lot of things that are gonna happen. I don’t know if I’m in this spot or in this spot, but I’m absolutely certain that Jesus is gonna come back. And I’m absolutely certain that when he comes back I want to be a 100% ready and I’m absolutely certain that when he comes back I definitely don’t want to be alone. Because he told me that the reason that he left me here was to make sure that heaven is more full and hell is more empty when he comes back, whenever God chooses for that to be. Are you with me?

– [Audience] Yes.

– Okay, so here’s the question. Are we living in the last days? And all I wanna do is I just want to describe for you what the Bible says the last days will be like. Whether it’s this sweep of time or this sweep of time, let’s just let the Bible speak for itself and let’s just see if we are living in the last days based on your understanding of what’s happening in our culture. Here’s the verse, 2 Peter 3:3-10. I’m going to read God’s Word to you because I want you to get clarity from him not from me, come on somebody, all right. “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come “in the last days with scoffing.” I like that verse. Scoffers will scoff and that’s what they do, right? Scoffers scoff. So in the last days they’re gonna be scoffing. “Following their own sinful desires. “They will say where is the promise of his coming? “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, “all things were continuing as they were “from the beginning of creation. “For they deliberately overlooked the fact, that the heavens existed long ago “and the earth was formed out of water “and through water by the word of God “and that by means of these the world that then existed “was deluged with water and perished.” I love being able to say deluged in church, all right. “But by the same word the heavens in the earth “that now exists are stored up for fire “being kept until the day of judgment “and destruction of the ungodly. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, “and a thousand years as one day. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness.” It’s like God going, look, I know you feel like this is taking too long. I know that you feel like just come back and fix all this for the love of you. Just calm down, okay? “But it’s patient toward you not wishing “that any should perish, “but that all should come to repentance. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, “and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, “and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved “and the earth in the works that are done “on it will be exposed.” Here’s three things that you need to know about the last days. People will be distracted with life. People will be distracted with life. Here’s our text back to Matthew 24, “For as were the days of Noah, “so will be the coming of the Son of Man. “For in those days before the flood “they were eating and drinking, “and marrying and giving in marriage, “until the day when Noah entered the Ark, “and they were unaware until the flood came “and swept them all away, “so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Here’s what God says about the last days. Whether the last days are this entire age or this sliver of time right before he comes. In those days people are gonna be real worked up about everything that’s going on right here. Not just the bad stuff, not just politics and conflict and war and this and that. We’re just gonna be all caught up with just what happens tomorrow morning. What am I gonna eat today? Where am I gonna watch the game today? I wonder if the Chiefs are gonna win today. The answer to that is yes, okay? Tomorrow morning I gotta get up, I gotta go to work, I wonder if my car’s gonna start, I wonder what I’m gonna wear when I come home, I wonder what I’m gonna eat. Hopefully my wife and I don’t get into an argument, not mine, yours, okay that’s a different conversation. I hope that my kids do well in school. I wonder what we’re gonna do this weekend. I wonder if I can find someone to loan me their boat. All of these things that aren’t good or bad or right and wrong they just are. And how many of you know that you can just get into the routine of life as it is and lose complete track that God exists, that he’s got plans and purposes for your life, that he loves you, that he calls you to a great ministry to fulfill the great commission so that not only you are prepared, but everybody you know is prepared when Jesus comes back. Let’s just be honest and don’t raise your hand. When’s the last time that you put good thought and intention into the fact that Jesus is coming back? I say Jesus coming back and all the church people are like, woo-hoo, yeah, hallelujah! When’s the last time you thought of it not sitting in church? Be honest. Be honest. Here’s what God says, in the last days you’re gonna have a lot of stuff going on, you’re gonna forget. You’re gonna forget that I’m coming back. You’re gonna forget this is my house, you’re just renting it. You’re gonna forget that I got plans and purposes for you and the world around you is going to be living as though once their part is done, it’s all done. Just get it while you can, stick up for yourself, like you are you with me?

– [Audience] Yeah.

– Do you feel like that’s happening in our world today? That’s happening in our church today. It’s for sure happening in our culture today and so this question of are we living in the last days? Check, yes. People are distracted. Number two, people will forget God. People will forget God. Same text Matthew 24, “And then many will fall away “and betray one another and hate one another. “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. “And because lawlessness will be increased, “the love of many will grow cold.” It’s interesting to me on social media right now we’ve got a couple prominent Christian leaders who are like yeah, I don’t think I’m a Christian anymore. And everyone’s like what? God’s like I told you. I told you that was gonna happen. I told you people were gonna fall away. I told you that people were gonna be like yeah, I decided not do this anymore. I told you that hate was gonna go up, division was going to go up, conflict was going to go up, and love was going to go down. I told you we weren’t gonna be able to get along. I told you that it was gonna be unequal. I told you that it was gonna be a mess and I told you that there was going to be more and more and more a mess the closer that it came to the time that I was going to come back. The reason is because you’re renting my house and whenever you’re taking care of something, you always break it. People will forget God. Are we living in a time where you feel like people are forgetting God?

– [Audience] Yes.

– Yes. Let’s be honest with one other. People in the church forgetting God. Before we get to hoity-toity and judgmental and profoundly hypocritical, people in the church. Only time you spend time with God is when you walk into this room. You’re forgetting. The only time that you think about the great commission is when you walk into this and oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re forgetting, you’re distracted. You got things going on. We’re living in the last days, so the first two, the first two clarifiers, the first two certainties, people will be distracted, people will be forgetful, check-check. Living in the last days. Number three, people will not be ready. People will not be ready. Same text Matthew 24, “Then two men will be in a field; “one will be taken up and the other one will be left. “Two men will be grinding at the mill; “one will be taken up another one will be left. “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know “what day your Lord is coming.” You don’t know what day here’s another one, 1 Thessalonians 5:2. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day “of the Lord will come”, how? “Like a thief in the night.” Like a thief in the night, whoa! It’s here before you know it. The Bible says it’s near. It’s nearer than you think. It’s nearer than when you first believed, look around, be aware of what’s going on, be ready. Listen, now preachers we love to to pitch this deal. I don’t want to guilt you, but I just want to make the point. If Jesus showed up right here, right now, to make inventory and assessment of your life do you feel like you’d be like phew, or you’d be like oh? Be honest. We’re not ready. Many times we’re distracted, many times we’re forgetful, many times I’m talking about the church, I ain’t talking about the culture. The culture has put, we hadn’t even put God on the shelf man. Put God out in the backyard. I got stuff going on man, I’m busy. It’s silly to have faith and here’s what God says, it’s absolutely certain I’m coming back. It’s absolutely certain that I’m gonna take back what’s mine. It’s absolutely certain that many folks are living their life like it ain’t gonna happen, but it’s an absolute certainty that it’s going to happen and people are not going to be prepared. That’s what the last days look like. You say, but what about 666? What about Blackhawk helicopters? Stop, stop, stop, stop. What about the European Union? What about the Catholic Church? Stop. Are you forgetting, are you distracted? Are you ready? If the answer to all those is well, don’t you worry about Blackhawk helicopters and the European Union. Are you with me? Come on, let’s think clearly here. Let’s think clearly here. So if we are living in the last days, simple question, how should I live? If we’re living in the last days, whether that age is this entire age or the back half of that age, whichever it is, we have a pretty clear understanding biblically. I literally just read the Bible to you, yep, that’s where we are. So based on that how should we live? Here’s the text that I want you to see, 1 Chronicles 12:32. “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, “to know what Israel ought to do” You do this during your day. Oh man, I didn’t realize it was that late. I need to go do something. Here’s what God says. There’s a clock, it’s a spiritual clock. It’s God’s clock. It’s the clock for all time and ages and generations and last days and all those kind of things and here’s what God says, “If you know what time it is, you’ll know what to do.” So we’re gonna go to God’s word again, I’m going to read it to you and I’m gonna give you four simple things. The first is this, I need to think clearly. Number one, I need to think clearly. My thoughts come from my beliefs, my thoughts produce my behaviors, my behaviors produce my habits, my habits produce my legacy. I say that to you as many times as I can. here’s the text 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; “therefore be self-controlled and sober minded “for the sake of your prayers.” Here’s what God says, if you know what time it is it will change how you pray. So think clearly, think clearly. Here’s another one. Philippians 3, “For many, of whom I have often told you “and now tell you even with tears, “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly.” Come on. The Bible says, there’s going to be a time where folks, their God is what they put in their mouth. Man if we aren’t living in that time, I don’t know, if we’re not living in that country I don’t know what is. We are the most obese country in the history of the world. Fact. “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, “they glory in their shame.” Listen if you just take the Bible for what it says, you got everything. Don’t don’t worry about, I don’t know what that means. Okay, what do you understand? They glory in what God says they should be ashamed of. Watch the news, watch social media, read anything about current, it’s no longer right and wrong. It’s this is mine and I’m proud to be what I am. God says, why? I want you to be what I say you should be. I want you to be what I created you to be. “With their minds set”, where? Right here, on earthly things. “But our citizenship is in heaven, “and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus “who will transform our lowly body.” Can I get a good amen on that, right?

– [Audience] Amen.

– “To be like his glorious body. “by the power that enables him even to subject “all things to himself.” Could it be any more clear? No, so let me say it to you this way. At the beginning of this series y’all said, “Let’s talk about death.” I said, “Okay, fair enough.” King Solomon says, “If you want wisdom you should think more “about the end of your life.” I think that the Bible would say, if you want wisdom, if you want obedience, if you want perspective, you should not only think about the end of your life, but you should think about the end of time. Because it gives you perspective. Because it changes the way that you think. Listen, it’ll change the way you think about your bills. It’ll change the way you think about your time, it’ll change the way you think about your relationships. So let me say it to you this way, I want you to imagine that out in the lobby I’m like hey, psst. Come here. I gotta tell you something. So I’ve been tinkering with the stock market. And I got a hot tip for you. You’re like, you don’t say? I do, come on. And we go into guest central back in the corner I put my arm around you and I say, “Here’s the thing that’s great about this tip “that I’m gonna give you. “All the money that you put in, you’re gonna lose.” Trust me, I’m a pastor. You’re gonna be like, pastor Tim, I don’t think you know how this works. In the stock market what you want to do is, you wanna put money in, you want to get more money. No, no, no, listen. All the money you put in, gone. You’re gonna be like pastor Tim, I don’t think you’re thinking clearly about this. Why? Why wouldn’t you invest the most amount of your assets into something that provides no return? Uh-oh. See y’all got locked into the story, you didn’t even see it coming did you? You didn’t even see it coming. Why wouldn’t you invest in something that just goes away. That has no value past the end of your nose. Why wouldn’t you take the largest amount of your assets and put it in something that clearly is going to rob you of all wealth, value, and purpose? I think that sometimes when it comes to end times God wants to call us over and be like, I need you to stop worrying about algorithms. End times algorithms. Put the book down, let’s just make this real simple. I told you where to invest, please do that. Please think clearly. Please, please understand. So let me give you three places that God says to invest. This is all out of the same text. Number one, I need to focus on relationships. What’s eternal? People are eternal. Your house ain’t eternal, you know how I know? Because you’ve had to fix it up. Your car ain’t eternal. Your clothes ain’t eternal. Your money ain’t eternal. Your 800 inch TV, not eternal. “Above all”, 1 Peter 4:8-9, “keep loving one another earnestly, “since love covers a multitude of sins. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Now here’s what church people do. Hospitality, hey you wanna come over to my house, so I can be hospitable? That’s not what the word means. Hospitality is that you have people in your house far from God. This ain’t a small group. This is God saying this house I gave you, I want you to use it for eternal purposes. So make a little chili, put the game on, and invite somebody over who doesn’t know me and focus on that. Come on, stop, please stop with what does 666 mean? Stop. Until you are practicing hospitality, focusing on relationships, investing in what is internal, who cares who the Antichrist is? I’m not trying to be glib, I’m not trying to diminish, it’s not that I haven’t done the work and so I’m trying to get up here. Listen, I’ve got lots of opinions, but they’re just that. Here’s an absolute certainty. The people at your workplace, God created them to be eternal. The people in your family, God created them to be eternal. People in our city, eternal. Focus on those things. I’ll be honest with you, I really sincerely think that it’s a ploy from the pit of hell to get you in the weeds about things that God says you’re not really going to understand this at the expense of things that God clearly says are eternal. I really do. I’m not saying don’t read a book every now and again, I’m not saying don’t have a conversation, I’m saying don’t spend your time on stuff that’s already in the heart and mind of God, he doesn’t need your perspective, he doesn’t need your opinion, it’s gonna happen whether you understand it or not. Don’t go to a church that’s like they agree with everything that I think about the end times and this and that and that we create these cult-like churches around stuff at the expense of loving people far from God. And we invest our cerebral and intellectual assets into things that God’s like, I got that, but I gave you the great commission. Listen, trust me, I’ll take care of what happens at the end. I need you to take care of the person that I put in the office next to you. I need you to take care of your family members. I need you to take care of your neighbor. I need you to focus on what’s eternal and number two, I should make a difference. I should make a difference. Same text, same text. Here it is 1 Peter 4:10-11. “As each has received a gift,” what’s next two words?

– [Audience] Use it.

– See I was all excited and then you’re like yeah. If you’ve received the gift what?

– [Audience] Use it.

– Use it, why? “To serve one another, as good stewards of “God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, “as one who speaks oracles of God; “whoever serves is one who serves the strength “that God supplies, in order that in everything “God might be glorified through Jesus Christ. “To him belongs glory and Dominion for ever and ever. “Amen”, let it be true, let that be so, okay? So here’s what God says. Please don’t invest your time in pursuits that are temporal, anecdotal, and irrelevant. Invest your time in loving people and loving God and in making a difference with those that he’s put around you. It’s that simple friends. You said, “I thought this was gonna be about end times.” This is 100% about end times because the way for you to be prepared when you stand before Jesus is not for you to know, I knew this was gonna happen. God’s gonna be like good, but you got a stack of books and you’re alone. You got a stack of books and Kansas City was still a mess. You got a stack of books and people were dying and going to hell in your office building. Great, you knew what 666 meant. Great, you figured out great, great, great. You’re alone son. You invested in the wrong thing. You invested in the wrong thing. I think it’s distinctly possible, this is my opinion take it for what it’s worth, that the coming of Jesus, the second coming of Jesus is directly tied to the fulfillment of the great commission. Why? Because God’s not willing that any should perish and because he gave the commission to us to bring to pass his heart for the lost. This is why one of our favorite partners, Seed Company, translating the Bible into every language. We literally just sent them a check for $50,000. Your money, thank you for that, but why? Why? Because that’s part of the great commission. Because how do people know if they can’t hear? How do the people know if no one tells them? How do people know if they can’t understand in their heart language? And so Seed Company says I think we can get it into every language by 2025 and I say put our name on that. Put our name on that. We want to be a part of that, why? Because that’s eternal. Because that’s eternal. Here’s the last one. I should receive God’s grace. Here it is, Isaiah 55. “Seek the Lord while he may be found;” come on, time is short, “Call on him while he is near; “Let the wicked forsake his way; “And the unrighteous man his thoughts, “let him return to the Lord, “that he might have compassion on him and to our God, “for he will abundantly pardon.” Come on, let’s be real right now. Some of you it’s a terrifying thought for Jesus to come back with your life being what it is. Come on, some of you, some of you, you’ve been living your life for temporal pursuits and for temporal means and for things, you’re investing in things that have zero return and here’s what God says, time is short. Come to God while he may be found. Come to God while he extends grace. Come to God, you say I prayed a prayer when I was, are you walking with God today? Don’t worry about when God’s coming back. Is God the most important today? Is God the highest value today? Is God worthy of your life today? Has God done great things? Is he the king of glory? Listen, today. It would be foolish of me to talk to you about end times and not say today is the day of repentance. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day that God is near. Today is the day that God loves you and has plans and purposes for your life and wants a relationship with you. No matter what you’ve done, he doesn’t need you to get wiped off, he just wants you to come home. And so if you’re in here today and you’re saying, I prayed a prayer, I’ve been around Church, but I haven’t been walking with God, come on. Come back, why? ‘Cause Jesus coming back. ‘Cause we got work to do. Because we need you and you need us. Because we want to be ready together and if you’re in here today and you’re like, I never heard any of this, hear this. God loves you where you sit. God doesn’t need you to be moral, doesn’t need you to be ethical, doesn’t need you to be righteous, he’s got all that. He says, if you’ll just trust me. If you’ll just believe me, if you’ll just take me at my word, not only will I take care of your end times, I’ll save you today. Hey pastor Tim here, I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email at amen@visitgraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there and if you live in the Kansas City area I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit. We’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together. Let us know how we can be of help to you and I hope to see you soon.

– Here’s how I wanna do this. I wanna talk to you about the two significant challenges really of your life, two pursuits that I want you to consider here, and I’m gonna set up just the rest of our time by telling you what they are right now. The first is just for you to come to clarity in finding yourself. For you to come to clarity in finding yourself. Mark Twain popularized a quote that says this: “The two most important days of your life “are the day that you’re born “and the day that you find out why.” Now, who am I to disagree with good old Mark, right? But I think that there’s a third day that I wanna talk to you about. So let me just explain it to you this way. Obviously, it’s a big deal today that you were born. Obviously, it’s a big deal, but you, you didn’t have any control over it. You weren’t there. Nine months previous, you wouldn’t have wanted to be there, let’s be honest, and you didn’t really have any control over it, and so it’s the beginning of your story but you don’t really have any way to get out. The second, the figuring out why am I here, I’m gonna teach you how to know that today. I’m gonna teach you literally in the next 33 and 41 seconds how to do that. The third day that I wanna talk to you about is something that God is gonna have to do in your heart. The third day, I think first, you gotta find yourself. In that third day, that second principle is you gotta lose yourself. This is the tension of purpose that I have to find clarity around why and who and what God has for me, and then I have to connect myself to something bigger than me that reaches farther than me, that has more influence and is more significant. I have to find myself and stand up in confidence in my unique gifting and personality and background because God sovereignly ordained it, but then I gotta lose myself in something bigger than me. And that’s what I wanna invite you into today. I wanna invite you into something that is bigger than you. I wanna invite you into something that’s greater than you. I wanna invite you into something that maybe you’ve never thought of this, that’s more generational than you. I think that the gifts that God gave you are, for this time and place, praise God for it. I think that the gifts that God gave you are for the people that you currently know, your spouse, your family, your church, your community, your neighborhood. But I think the gifts that God gave you are intended to transcend generations. In other words, I think that your impact can be more than just here and now. But if it’s ever going to be that, you gotta get yourself connected to something much, much, much bigger than you. Let me tell you what this looks like. I have a buddy right now. He was working for a company and the company made some financial mistakes and the company dissolved. He was one of the first ones that they let go, his sales guy, and they said, “We’re gonna let you go first “because we think that you’ll find a job “easier than the rest of us.” Thank you, I guess, right? And so my buddy and I, over the last two months have been texting, poloing, calling literally every single day. He gets up in the morning, sends me a polo just about how he’s feeling. I don’t if you ever lost your job and not knowing where you’re gonna get your next job but it can be a pretty tense spot. It can be a pretty anxious spot. And if you’re a Christian, you can start to assign some of those emotions to why God and what are you doing and how are you gonna. And so I was trying to kinda try to pastor him through all that. He was looking in multiple cities and multiple jobs and talking to a headhunter. And last week, he calls me, and he’s like, “Hey, man, I just got off the phone with my recruiter.” And this is probably the 50th time we’ve had this conversation. And I said, “Oh, that’s cool. “How’d that go?” And he goes, “Well, we were just talking “about the offer that I’m gonna get.” But then he started telling me about just his life and telling me about how he’s going through a divorce right now, he’s been married to his wife for 32 years, and he’s an alcoholic and they’re just really struggling, and he starts talking to me for the next 20 minutes about how he got to give his recruiter the gospel. And he’s excited and he’s like, dude, it was so awesome. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that. I’m like, that’s awesome, man. Hey, can we go back to the front of the conversation? Did you say you got an offer? And he’s like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m like, what do you mean oh, yeah, yeah, yeah? We’ve been talking every single day for the last 60 days about God giving you a job. You’ve been crying and fussing and whining to me about God not showing up and then you just throw on the end, oh yeah, I got an offer, but I got to give this guy a gospel! That’s what losing yourself looks like. My God doesn’t know that it’s weird for him to after that whole season be more excited that he got to give his recruiter the gospel than that he got a great job offer. That’s somebody who’s found themselves and understands how to lose themselves. Here’s the text, Matthew 16 in Verse 23. “For whoever would save his life,” and some of you are in the process of doing this right now. You’re trying to control everything, manage everything, this is the why you need coffee in the morning and help going to sleep ’cause it’s stressful to try to save yourself. It’s stressful to be your own savior. It’s stressful to try to run just your life. You put a spouse and kids and a job and a mortgage and debt on top of that, whoever would try to save his life will what?

– [Audience] Lose it.

– You’ll lose it. And that could be lose your life or just lose it. You know what I’m talking about? Okay. But whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. Here’s what God says. If you’ll just let me be in charge, I’ll turn your life into something that you couldn’t possibly imagine. Now, here’s the thing. I’m gonna help you find yourself but then you’re gonna have to be willing to give me control of some things, but if you’ll do that, I’m gonna give you things that I can’t give you if you insist on being in control. Here’s what it says in Mark Chapter 8. “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, “he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me.'” Anyone, anyone? If anyone would come after God, loves you, wants to save you, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him for whoever would save his life, here it is again, would lose it but whoever will lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Here it is. For what does it profit you to gain the whole world, to get the salary, to get the car, to get the girl, to get the guy, to get to this, to get to that, and forfeit your own sanity, your own soul, your own relationships. This is the significant lie of the enemy that the tighter I squeeze, the more control that I have. Not true. The tighter you squeeze, the more it oozes in between your fingers. You know what I’m talking about? Here’s what the Bible tells us. God wants you to get clarity on who he says that you are and then he wants you to commit yourself to him and to his purposes, and in finding yourself, you lose yourself and give yourself to something that extends far beyond you, far beyond your imagination, far beyond your wildest dreams. We call that church, by the way. And so I wanna teach you how to do that today. I wanna teach you how to do that, and if you’ll take good notes and if you’ll just get with God around the things that I’m gonna talk to you about today, I promise you you’ll be helped and you’ll leave here with greater clarity than you walked in. So here’s the question, how do I find myself? How do I understand who I am? And it’s three simple words. You need to discover your purpose. You need to discover your purpose. You say, well, if I knew how to do that, I would have already done it, so I’m gonna help you today. It’s tied to four things. Number one, it’s tied to your design. It’s tied to your design. Here’s our text, Jeremiah 29 and Verse 11. God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you.” Now watch, God says, I know how I feel about you. I know what I’m thinking about you. I know the plans that I have for you, not the things that I would have for you if you would only. God says I know the best future that I have for you declares the Lord, their plans for your welfare, for your good. They’re not for evil, to give you a future and hope. Some of you, the reason that you’re struggling is that you don’t have hope or optimism about the future. God says if you just give me, if you would just go according to my plan, I’ll give you all of those things. So here’s how the Bible says in Proverbs. If you want to see someone’s future, look at their friends. If you wanna see someone’s destiny, look at their design. Look at how God put them together. You were raised in a family, you had certain experiences, you have certain mentors, you have certain training, you have certain background, you have things that make you uniquely who you are. You can take personality tests, Myers-Briggs, DISC, Enneagram, all of those kinda things and you can start getting your head wrapped around God, who have you uniquely made me to be? Secondly, it’s tied to your desires. So I’ve got this design, I’ve got the shape that God says he sovereignly ordained in my life. And in that shape, I have desires that come out of it. So here’s the question I have. What are the things that you’re passionate about? I don’t mean church things, okay? I don’t know, I’m passionate about Jesus. Yeah, yeah, I’m glad. Don’t be a weirdo, okay? I know. What are the things that you just love doing? I have a friend, he’s a basketball coach. Loves basketball! Dude, it’s just a ball, you bounce it, throw it in a hoop, whatever. I know it makes a cool sound, but passionate about basketball. I have friends who love fishing. I have friends who love business. I have friends who love cooking. I have loved friends who love eating that person’s cooking. That’s me, all right? And here, let me tell you why this is important. Because I think that sometimes in church, especially churches that have a high view of God in their scripture like this church, we think that if I want it, God probably doesn’t want it for me. I don’t if you’ve ever been in that spot. I have another friend and he’s kinda sorting out what does God have for him and I always say to him, what do you wanna do? What do you wanna do? He always gets frustrated. What do you mean what do I wanna do? I wanna do whatever God wants me to do. And I always say to him, why are those two things different? And I think that we have this conception that if I wanna do it, it’s probably not a good thing. Now, are there desires that you have that aren’t good? Of course, there are. But there’s this understanding in the Bible in Psalms Chapter 37 and Verse 4, I’m gonna read it to you and I just want you to take it at face value and hear what God has to say to you. Psalm 37 and Verse 4, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” This is our primary value here at Grace. We want you to know and enjoy God. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he,” what’s the next word? Did anybody in this room understand what they just said? And he what? He will, not he might, not if you say the right words, not if you only want, not if you have a certain, no, and he will give you the desires of your heart. I have heard pastors do incredible calisthenics with this. Well, if you delight yourself in the Lord, then your desire is God and he’ll give you. Is that what it says? That’s not what it says. God says if you love me most and if you’ll give your life to me, I’ll give you, I’ll give you the things that you desperately want. Some of us, we have a scarcity mindset when it comes to God. I really, really want it so I probably won’t get it. God says if you’ll follow the rabbit trail of the desires that I put in your heart, you’ll start to figure out the thing that makes you unique, the things that I wanna use. My friend who’s a basketball coach says that his ministry is what? His basketball. He’s a men’s basketball, he’s investing in young men with the gospel, using his walk to invent. Listen, you have something that you love to do that when you do it, we love when you do it, and it points us all to Jesus. So what are your desires, what is your design, number three, what are your gifts? What are your gifts? Let me talk to you about spiritual gifts because if the stats are correct, 85% of you don’t know what they are. 85% of Christians do not know the things that make them uniquely, spiritually empowered to be used by God. God says that when he saved you, he saved you by his grace. And that in that same grace, he gave you gifts that make you distinct that he wants you to use for the blessing of others. Now, let me just help you on this. Your spiritual gifts aren’t your talents, your natural abilities. What I’m doing right now is a great example of this. I have some friends who are great public speakers until you put a Bible in their hands and then they’re stuttering and stammering and nervous and sweating and it’s awkward for all of us. I know other people who are wallflowers, don’t wanna talk, shy, looking down, put a Bible on their hands, and it’s like, where did that come from? That’s a spiritual gift. I know some pastors who get paid to be pastors who ain’t. Know what I’m talking about?

– Yeah.

– And I know other people who get paid, do taxes, and run businesses, and they’re as pastoral as anybody on the planet. Spiritual gifts. These aren’t your natural talents or abilities, but here’s what God says that he gave us a grace that he wants us to use. 1st Peter 4 in Verse 10, as each of you, what’s next word?

– Receive.

– Receive!

– I don’t know what the public schools are doing, but. I read up to you, say what’s the next, just literally the next word, all right? This happened in the first service too, I was like, multiple choice. As each?

– Has.

– There you go! All right, all right. Hey, I went to public school, don’t send me an email, all right? As each of you has, not as each of you will, not as each of you might. If you’re sitting in here today and you’re a follower of Jesus, you have spiritual gifts. If you’re sitting in here today and you’re not a follower of Jesus, you need to become a follower of Jesus so you can understand what your spiritual gifts are. Here’s what it says. As each of you has received a gift, what’s the next two words? The next two words?

– [Everyone] Use it.

– You can’t use what you don’t know you have. You have gifts, use them to do what? To make yourself feel great, to make everyone think you’re awesome, to have people say that’s the greatest message or the greatest song. No. Use it to serve one another. Use the gift that God gave you out of his grace to bless other people as good stewards of God’s varied grace. What’s your gifts? What’s your gifts? Are you using them to bless who? No, I know the verse. I’m asking you rhetorically now. See, now you’re getting overzealous on me. So how do I know my purpose? I gotta figure out my design. God, who am I uniquely? I have to figure out my desires. What are the things that I want. I gotta figure out my gifts, and then number four, they’re tied to your frustrations. I don’t think church folks talk about this enough ’cause we’re afraid of conflict but let me just say it to you this way. What are the things that drive you crazy when they happen or when they don’t happen? I’m gonna tell you a story, during the 14 days of prayer, I had somebody come up to me and she was obviously upset and she said, “I’d been watching this church “for six months online.” That’s why every Sunday, I say what’s up to you. We’ve got thousands of people who watch our church online. Said, “I’ve been watching the church online.” and she was, “I’ve been in the building eight times.” I was like, “Oh wow, thank you so much.” She said, “And no one ever talks to me.” And I apologized profusely because that should never happen. Amen?

– Amen.

– Okay, so after I did that, I said, “Man, I’m very sorry to hear that.” She said, “I don’t wanna be at a church “that I’m not welcome.” This is what the enemy does. The enemy says they’re doing that for a reason. They’re doing that to exclude you. Can I just tell you, hear it from me, if you’re in here and we failed you in any way, shape, or form, that’s not a representation on God and we’re trying to do better. We’re glad that you’re here no matter what. So we prayed together and I just said, “Man, would you give us another shot?” She said, “I’ll pray about it.” which is a Christian way of saying buzz off. And so it’s interesting, a couple weeks later I see her in Growth Track. And in Growth Track, I say, “Let me tell you one of the ways “that I’d like you to think about your spiritual gifts. “I’d like you to think about the things “that hurt you or drive you crazy about church.” What’d she think of? She thought of the story that she had told me. And I said, “And then I want you to go volunteer “in that position.” A couple weeks later, she comes in to guest central. She’s got some guests behind her and she comes right up to me and she goes, “I took your advice!” I give lots and lots of advice. I don’t know what you’re talking about right now. She said, “You said take the thing “you’re most frustrated about and help.” and I said, “Great, what did you do?” and she goes, “I’m a greeter!” Come on, there’s wisdom in that. There’s wisdom in that. There’s a reason that certain things drive you crazy. There’s a reason that it bugs you. There’s a reason and there’s nothing worse than a lazy critic. Churches are full of ’em, man. Listen, don’t send me an anonymous email. Go to Growth Track, get on the Dream Team. I’m telling you, I’m not gonna read it. I’m not! If you can’t even sign it, I ain’t gonna read it. But part of the thing that’s bugging you is tied to your gifting. Part of the thing that’s bugging you is a way that you can help. Part of the thing that’s that’s getting on your nerves is because God has made it obvious to you and easy for you and not to us. We have a saying on staff, criticism is volunteerism. Complain away, baby, as long as you’re on the Dream Team. And so I want you to think about God, how have you designed me? I want you to think about God, what are my desires? I want you to think about God, what are my gifts? And I want you to think about God, what are the things that are bugging me? What are the things that are sticking out to me? And my friend who is now a greeter, filling in a gap that we had until God provided her. Listen, for this church, the thing that you are, we need. ‘Cause this is a big church, we got lots of people. This is a big city, lots of people are dying and going to hell. We need you. And so don’t be frustrated on the sidelines, you hear me? Don’t be grumpy on the sidelines. Don’t be critical on the sidelines. Don’t be a an armchair quarterback. Get in the game, I’ll give you the ball, start slinging that thing. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it together. Why? Because we’re better together and because you have something that I don’t, and I need you, and I have something that you don’t and you need me. That’s what the church is. That’s how you discover your purpose. So here’s the big question then, how do I lose myself? That’s how you find yourself, how do you lose yourself? And it’s very simple. You gotta give yourself to something bigger than you. You gotta give yourself to something bigger than you. Let me help you with a frame here. When you’re bigger than your purpose, when I’m bigger than my purpose, I have a career. Here’s what a career is defined as. It’s something that I walk out of and I walk into. You don’t take work. It’s just a job, man. It isn’t life-giving, it isn’t soul-enriching. Here’s the distinguishing factor, you’re really just doing it so you can do something else. I really just do this job so that I can pay my bills. I really just do this job so I can do the weekend. I really just do this job so I can buy a new truck. I really just do this job so I can get, even if it’s a good thing, whatever this thing is is the thing that you’re really passionate about. And so some of you, the reason that you’re not connected to anything bigger, it’s because you’re investing a maximum amount of time and something that doesn’t build up your soul that you don’t really care about, that you’re walking in of and out of, it doesn’t make you better or us better, you really have something else that you’d love to be doing but you haven’t figured out a way or been intentional or prayerful about how to get into it most often. Are you with me?

– [Audience] Amen.

– So when your purpose is bigger than you, when you’re bigger than your purpose, it’s a career, when your purpose is bigger than you, it’s a calling. It’s a calling. So here’s the text, Ephesians 2 and Verse 10. For we, you and me, are his, God’s, workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works. You were created by God, designed by God to do good works. Now, here’s the thing. Everybody in this room, if you’re a follower of Jesus, we have certain good works that we all have to do. We’re all commanded to fulfill the Great Commission. That’s not just my job, that’s our job. We’re to go into every tongue, tribe, and nation to spread the gospel, to make disciples so that everybody hears about Jesus. Gotta do it. We’re all commanded to fulfill the great commandment, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t have an out on that. There’s no pass go, you can’t get a note signed by your parent. We’re all in on that. But all of us have certain things that you were uniquely designed to do. You have specific gifts that you do that thing the best. You do that thing exceptionally well. Some of y’all, I put you in a room full of kids and you turn into the Pied Piper. Some of y’all, I put you in a room full of kids and someone’s going to jail. Don’t sign up for Sky Kids. You have something, that it’s a calling on your life. You take it with you. You don’t walk in and out of it. Listen, this thing that I’m doing right now, I love doing this. I would do this if nobody wants to in this room. Do you know how I know that? Because I’ve pastored other churches. No, listen, I love studying the Bible. Do you know how I know that part of my gifting is around teaching? Because I studied the Bible before I had a stage, because I would do this whether you were here or not. Now, I’m so honored and I’m so surprised that you’re all here but it wouldn’t change a doggone thing if you weren’t, because I take it with me! Because I love leading things. When I talk about my frustrations, I hate when things aren’t led well. Hate it! Drives me crazy! Because it’s tied to my gifting. I hate whenever preachers aren’t helpful. How many times have you heard me say, look, I’m trying to help you? I hate when preachers talk over the church’s head, and here’s a bunch of knowledge that won’t affect anything in your life! Congratulations! I hate that! So every time I stand up, I’m doing it right now, I’m trying to help you, I’m begging you, please be helped, what do you think drives Pastor Brandon crazy? Bad music? What do you think drives Pastor Donovan crazy? People signing up who don’t wanna hang out with kids. Are you with me? I can’t take that out of those leaders. Wherever I see them, I had someone say this to me a couple weeks ago. Listen, I got a lot of things that are funky about me. A lot, a lot, a lot. I need a savior, I got messes, but here’s the thing, I’m very clear on my calling. And what that allows me to be is me in whatever room I’m in. I’m just me in whatever room I’m in. You shouldn’t say that! You shouldn’t do that! I know, whatever. All right? I’m more honest with you up here than I should be. Why? ‘Cause I know I’m standing where I’m supposed to be standing. And for some of you, the reason you’re always nervous and the reason that you’re always stressed out about what they think is that you still don’t know who you are. You still don’t know who God’s called you to be and you’re always trying to be somebody else in a different room and you’re spending all this energy, figuring out what the room is so you know what you oughta be instead of just walking into that room like, here I am! I’m trying to help you. I’m trying to set you free. A calling, you take it with me, a calling blesses me while I do it. I love it when I do it. Hopefully, it helps you when I do it and it works when I do it. It is, in itself, the reason that I do it. Are you with me?

– Yeah.

– What is it that you do it just for doing it? Say not for what you get out of it, not for what anyone says about it, that you would do it if nobody. This is a great purifier for you. What would you do if nobody ever told you good job or knew that you were doing it? Whatever the answer to that is closer to your calling than some of the other things that we do. And so when I’m bigger than my purpose, I got a J-O-B. When my purpose is bigger than me, I’ve got a calling, and it goes with me, and God gave it to me, and God gifted me according to it. And I have frustrations and design and all those things around it but I’m living in clarity. That’s what I want for you. Let’s talk about success then. Success is when I add value to my life. When I add value to my life. Listen, we say this all the time. Oh man, that guy’s really successful. Really? Why? Have you seen the car he drives? We make these anecdotal look at all the things that he has, look at all the things that she has. Now, here’s the thing about that kinda success. It’s limited to me and who I know. Do you know how I know this? Telemarketing and MLM companies who say if you wanna be successful, you gotta build a huge what? Network. You gotta expand your reach. This is how the world identifies. But the reality is that success in this way is limited to you and who you know. It’s limited to you and who you know. This is why success can be empty because when it occurs outside of calling, it doesn’t really mean something. Have you ever met somebody who is great at making money but doesn’t care? Yeah, yeah, it’s fine, it’s fine. Great at making money and their life is a wreck. They just know what they know but they don’t know how to connect it to the design that God has on their life. Success can be profoundly detrimental if it’s not tied to calling. If it’s not tied to calling. Significance, okay, success is when I add value to me, and significance is when I add value to you. Success is when I add value to my life, significance is when I add value to your life. Here’s the text, Philippians 2, let each of you look not only to his own interests. Doesn’t say don’t look to your own interests. It says don’t only look to your own interest, but also to the interest of others. Have this mind, this is about how I think, how I view the world, in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus who emptied himself, took on the form of a servant, and was born in the likeness of men. So watch this. Significance is when you are impacted by it without being impacted by me. Watch. Pastor Tim, you preached a message some time. I don’t really remember what you said, I don’t remember the text, I don’t remember the words, I don’t remember what you were wearing, but God told me that significance. This is not significance. Pastor Tim, that was the best message that I’ve ever heard on said topic. The end. That’s not significance. Significance is when you fade away and what God’s trying to do through you becomes the foremost thing. So what’s that thing that when you do it, you love doing it, we love when you do it, and when you do it, I forget you and remember Jesus. What’s that thing that comes easily and naturally to you because it’s tied to your design, into your giftings, because God gave you that grace, that the impact, the significance that you have on somebody else, you don’t even gotta be in the room for it? This is why when the Bible talks about significance, it talks about seeds. The seed of the gospel. A seed is just this tiny little thing. You put it in the ground, you don’t see it anymore, it literally goes away, and this is left. That’s what we want for your life. That’s what I want for my life. This little seed of what God has given me to be put in the ground and this to go away and this to remain. That’s what we actually want in the church. Listen, this ain’t about you, this ain’t about me. You’re awesome, don’t get me wrong. I love you, you’re significant, you’re valuable where you sit but let’s take all of those, let’s put ’em together in this thing called Graceway, let’s put it in the ground, and let’s watch what God blooms out of it. And listen, I want Graceway to have impact in the here and now. You know that, right? You hear me talk about that all the time. I wanna affect this city in the here and now, but can I tell you something? I’m as interested in three generations from now as I am from now. I’m as interested in my kids, kids, kids coming to this church and loving Jesus in this church because of the investments that we, by God’s grace, have made today. If we’re in pursuit of success, that ain’t gonna happen ’cause I can only reach the end of my life. But I’ve learned if we are in pursuit of spirit-filled significance. Listen, you can reach not only across generations but into eternity, but you gotta be clear on who God says that you are. You gotta be clear on what God’s called you specifically to. You gotta be clear on the good work that God created you for. And here’s the thing, you gotta be low control and low credit. You gotta be glad. Hey, this aint even my own show, man, I’m just trying to do a girl told me. And you gotta be glad when God gets credit and you don’t. That’s the win. That’s the bullseye. Significance is when I add value to you and you praise God for it. That’s what we’re looking for. So what are your next steps? Let me make this as easy as I can, as helpful as I can, as practical as I can. Number one, I need you to get curious. I need you to get curious. I need you to dream a little bit. There’s a reason we call it the Dream Team, and it has nothing to do with a 1996 NBA Olympic team, all right? I want you to get curious about, I wonder what my gifts are. I wonder what would happen if I knew what my gifts. I wonder how God would use me. I wonder what difference I can make. I wonder what my family would look like. I wonder what my neighborhood. I wonder what… You see? I wonder, I wonder, I wonder. Some of us, the reason that the Christian life is boring to us is that it’s all right here. The whole thing’s right here. My worries, my bills, my stuff going on, my job, my career, my success, my this. Here’s what God wants us to do, come on. Come on, let’s look further. Come on, let’s look across generations, look into eternity. Yeah, of course God wants to reach your neighborhood but he also wants to reach our city, and of course he wants to reach our city but he wants to reach our country. Of course, he wants to reach our country, but there’s lots of countries in the world that we have the opportunity to invest in where we fade away and only Jesus remains, and people know Jesus because of this little church called Graceway in Kansas City, Missouri. Come on, get curious about your part in that. Don’t get critical. You’re falling for it. Don’t get critical, get curious. God, what are you trying to draw out of me right now? Number two, please go to Growth Track. This is the reason Growth Track exists, to introduce you to God, to introduce you to the church, to introduce you to your purpose so that we can make a difference together. You say, well, it didn’t work the first time. Go again. Seriously. You say, well, the kickoff’s at noon. Look, I know when the kickoff is, I know what you got in your crock pot, I’m talking about generations in eternity. I’m talking about making a difference in your family after you’re gone. I’m talking about making a difference in our city that we don’t even know about. I’m talking about God birthing a forest of trees from the seed of the design, of the desires, of the gifts, of the frustrations that he has sovereignly put in your life for his glory in places that you’ll never see until you’re in the kingdom. Nothing’s more important than that. Number three, I want you to be intentional. Be intentional with what? Being intentional with putting your best time in your most gifted areas. Some of you need to create some margin. You’re going too fast. You don’t have time to be curious. You don’t have time to think about what God might be doing. You don’t have time to think about what God wants to do in your life, let alone organizing your schedule so you’re spending the largest amount of your time in those spots. Do you know where my buddy who feels called to be a basketball coach should be? He should be in church! No, he should be on a basketball court. Now, of course, I want him to come here, but I want him to spend his best time doing what God put him on the planet to do. Some of you business people, you’re like, man, I haven’t been a church, I’ve been traveling. Hey, you’re doing the thing that God called you to do, put you on the planet to do, to bring him glory, to make his kingdom more full, to make heaven more full and hell more empty. Yeah, I am trying to do that. Man, then do your thing. Do your thing. Let’s do it together. Let’s reach together. Let’s be intentional with our time. And then number four, you gotta get to know God. You gotta get to know God. If you wanted to know everything that there was to know about this iPad and you could talk to anyone in history, who would you talk to? Would you talk to Steve Jobs? You talk to Steve Jobs ’cause nobody knows about iPads more than Steve Jobs ’cause Steve Jobs designed ’em, ’cause Steve Jobs sacrificed a lot to create this thing. This was his imagination and his vision. He paid quite a bit to be able to present this to people like me who use it every single day. You wanna know about your design, you gotta spend time with your designer, a designer who, it’s out of his imagination, it’s out of his vision, it’s out of his heart for you, it’s out of his sacrifice to present to you restoration and redemption and purpose and value that he says that you have right now, and if you wanna know what it is, listen, don’t spend time with anyone else but your designer. Somebody in here right now, the thing that you need to do is you need to become a follower of Jesus, maybe for the very first time. You gotta lose yourself in something bigger than you. And some of you, you gotta get intentional about getting to know and enjoy God, surrounding yourself with people just like that, figuring out the reason that God has you on this planet, and committing yourself to something bigger than you. Listen, you won’t get all the credit but God will get all the glory. You don’t know what God wants to do with your life. God says he’s got plans and I want you to experience all of ’em. Amen. Hey, Pastor Tim here. I hope that you enjoyed our service. If it was a blessing to you or God spoke to you, I hope that you’ll let us know. Shoot us an email at Amen@visitGraceway.org. We would love to hear what God’s doing in your life and how we might be able to help you in it. If you’d like to support our ministry, you can support us by giving right there. And if you live in the Kansas City area, I hope that you’ll stop by and give us a visit. We’d love to shake your hand, buy you a cup of coffee, worship Jesus together, let us know how we can be of help to you, and I hope to see you soon.