Summary: In this standalone sermon, Dave discusses what it means to follow Jesus for life.
Following for Life
August 2, 2009
Hey, good morning everybody. Welcome to our first Sunday service in 69 weeks. I mean, if you don't count last week. Are you all awake this morning?
We've just come off a 10 week series on spiritual formation, and really the sermon I preached at the camp last Sunday was also on spiritual formation, so really we've been on that topic for eleven weeks. Does that cover it? I mean, I've told you we need to be spiritually reformed in Christ and I've told you we must have the vision for transformation, the intention to pursue that vision, and the means for actually doing so. I've told you that trying is not enough, but that we must train. I taught you about lectio divina. I have been encouraging you to memorize scripture, and now I'm encouraging you to get away and be silent for a few hours. I've given away quite a few books on this topic over the past couple of months and find that people are hungry for it. We're tired of being dogged by the same old sins year after year and we're hungry for change. I know I am, are you?
So what do we do now? Just move on to other things and assume you're doing this? NO WAY! This is a journey I have been on for years and I'm still really struggling with basic things like scheduling my life around spiritual practices, being faithful in the use of them, etc. I know I can't just get up here and tell you what's wrong and tell you how to fix it and that you ought to, and then expect to move on to other things and have you start a new way of living behind the scenes with no further encouragement. That's not gonna happen. So I want to warn you about something. This spiritual formation thing we've been talking about - that's the main thing . I mean, that's what it's all about. That's what's gonna change us. That's what's gonna form us into the image of Christ. That's what's gonna give Wildwind Community Church something amazing to offer to the community -- not programs and ministries and buildings, but changed and changing people who go out into the world and can simply be Christ in a world that needs Christ perspective and Christ presence and Christ power and is only gonna get it from Christ people. We can build a 10 million dollar building in Grand Blanc tomorrow and without changed and changing people, it's just a building. We can launch 150 new ministries in our community next week and without changed and changing people, we might as well be the United Way - Wildwind branch. We can have the greatest worship band, the most amazing and talented teachers, the most sincere leadership, the most delicious coffee, the nicest greeters, and the best-looking preacher's wife on the planet (which of course we do). But without changed people, we're just slick. There are a lot of slick churches around that can offer you the finest of everything. Their goal is to be fine, and they are fine.
That's not our goal. My friends, I have never been more passionate about anything than I am about the need for the people of God to live in ways that speak powerfully to our world. How can we preach sermons about the evils of pornography and gambling and divorce and domestic violence and addictions when every statistical indicator shows that we in the church are just as mired in all of that as non-believers? What credibility do we have in telling others what God can do in their lives if we don't have powerful stories to tell about what he has done in ours? When was the last time you were able to say that's the last time I did that? Know what I mean? How long has it been since you have been able to identify something sinful or toxic or unhealthy that you used to do that you don't do anymore? Are you regularly finding yourself able to say, "I laid this down," or "I quit doing this," or "I'm now free from this or that thing that was dogging me."
Let me tell you something, and we'll call it an open secret. (Because it has been a secret, but now it's gonna be open.) I realize it's not kosher for pastors to share stuff like this, and I realize it's sensitive, but so what? Let's talk about the sensitive stuff, because it's the sensitive stuff in our lives, the stuff that's too embarrassing or awkward to talk about, that's dragging us down. I realized something a few months ago that was devastating to me. I had just lost my temper about something and said something to Christy I immediately regretted saying. And I realized that I had been doing that all my life with her. Saying something stupid that I shouldn't have said, then regretting it, then saying I'm sorry. And I really was sorry. But what I realized - what hit me like a ton of bricks - was that I had never made the decision to STOP doing that. I had never said, "You know what, that's the last time you're going to talk to her like that again," and decided that I was going to walk away from that behavior, that way of talking, that way of being.