Summary: A sermon exhorting listeners to hospitality and service to one another.

And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

You have been born again because your life did not come from something that dies. It’s from something that cannot die.

All right. Turn in the bible to—your bible, or a bible that you’ve stolen or borrowed, to 1 Peter Chapter 4; 1 Peter Chapter 4. And we’re going to continue walking through this very important book in the New Testament, and the title of the talk this morning is 'Pray, Love, Eat'. I think there was a movie or a book with a similar, I don’t know. I didn’t see it. But Pam saw it, but 'Pray, Love and Eat'.

Now, the reason I titled it this is because Peter is beginning to talk about the church. He’s beginning to talk to a group of people who are going to read this letter and he’s—remember the church is very young at this point. Maybe 30 years old at best; 25 to 30 years, these people have been meeting together, but it’s the very first church. There’s a lot of problems, a lot of young believers are in this group, and Peter begins to say, listen, I want to tell you today what’s really important. What’s really important that we get down deep in our soul. And in this morning, New Life, I don’t want to overdramatize this, but I really think that this morning is going to sound simple. But what I’m about to tell you is extremely important for us to get. I believe that we need to get this deep in our soul today.

Now, I've never had an ambition to lead a big church, and I can sincerely, honestly, say that I’ve never had a dream or an ambition to lead a big church. I never once grew up, growing up with my friends or with all my family, I never said, “Hey, one day I want to lead a big church”. I never have. Honestly. In fact, for most of the years that I’ve been a pastor, I’ve been trying to talk to God out of it, of me being a pastor. I tried to argue with God. But God put me in this position and I said,” Lord, I don’t care how big New Life ever becomes.” I really don’t. I don’t care. It’s God’s business. God builds the church. God grows the church. I don’t have any desire to see it grow or whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. But what I do have a desire is for us to be a family.

I’m so tired of church being an event that we attend, and not a family that we belong to. I don’t want Sunday morning to be some event that’s on our calendar, although I’m fine if you put it in your calendar. I don’t want New Life Church to be some event-driven place that we just show up, and go through the motion, and sit in a chair. I have no—I will get so frustrated with that if that’s what we are. I do want us to be a family. Families take time. Families take time to blend, and become, and love, and I know that. But my ambition for New Life Church is for us to be a big messy family. And I don’t apologize and I know the word “mega church”—I don’t know if that’s one word or two words—but that phrase “mega church” has—you know, when you say that to people, what most people think is some monolithic corporate entity, some big thing, big events, big buildings, whatever you might think, I don’t apologize for being big. It’s almost like a family that has six kids as opposed to a family that has two. The family that has six kids shouldn’t have to always apologize for driving a 15-passenger van and not a minivan. You know what I’m talking about? So they have six kids. So they’re a big family. That’s great. We have two kids. I don’t apologize for having two. You shouldn’t apologize for having two. You shouldn’t apologize for having eight. You take whatever God gives you. He’s the one that fills our query, right?

So I don’t apologize for being a big church, but I will apologize to people for being an unfriendly church. I do that. If I find out that we’re not being friendly, warm, and welcoming, that’s a problem with me. The size of the church doesn’t matter. The friendliness of the church, the warmth of the church, the hospitality of the church, that’s something that bothers me. And I do think you’re hospitable, and I think you’re friendly, so today is not a rebuke and it’s not—I’m not trying to tell you that you’re not. But can I tell you the difference between the Bible belt where I grew up in Colorado? Can I tell you what my observations are now in three years? Here’s the difference from where I grew up, and let me just say this, I am from the Deep South. I was raised in Louisiana, and Louisiana’s on the bottom of all the good list, and at the top of all the bad list. They really are. That’s the way I grew up. But with all of its weaknesses, there’s some strength about the Deep South where I grew up. And one of the strengths that is there is the friendliness of people. Yet, if you’ve ever spent any time in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, where they talk normal, this is [laughter] they’re friendly.

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