If you have your Bibles, would you go ahead and grab them? We’re going to start in 1 Corinthians 6. We’ll move over to Romans 15 from there, but we’re going to start out in 1 Corinthians 6. Let me just start by acknowledging that I know we’re kind of all over the map in here today. What I mean by that is there are those of you who love the Lord very much and have been following him passionately. I want to say I’m glad you’re here and we get to get together as family members in the faith and worship the Lord together.
I know there are those of you who maybe are not there, maybe in process in some way. I want to say to you, welcome. I’m glad you’re here, and I pray that maybe some of the things we see from the Word of God would edify and encourage you. I know some of you are here and aren’t believers at all and don’t know what to make of us and don’t know what to really make of the claims we have about Christ and our view of the world and how the Bible would unpack for us human flourishing. I wanted to say to you that even if you’re maybe hostile to what you see and understand as to the Christian faith, I’m glad you’re here also.
You’ll find we are not a place that is nervous about or afraid of your doubts, concerns, questions about the faith. If we can help and serve you in that journey in any way whatsoever, we would love to do that. Maybe the answers you’ll get from us will just further what you believe about us, if you think we’re maybe ignorant and backwards, and I believe we can hold up under that weight, but we would love to have that conversation with you.
I grew up the bulk of my life… Some of you are looking at me like, “You’re 15. What do you mean, the bulk of your life?” I grew up in my early days very confused about what the Christian faith was, who Jesus Christ was, and how his death could possibly have anything to do with me. I grew up with a fundamental misunderstanding in what I perceived to be a serious amount of hostility on God’s part toward me.
That was rooted really early on in my life when a friend invited me to vacation Bible school. I’ve told this story here multiple times. I went to vacation Bible school, and we did a little craft. Then it came to singing time, and we sang a song about how God hates liars. Really, as odd as this sounds, I was probably 8 around that time, about the age of my son now. I remember that was the first time it registered that if God hates liars, then God was wasn’t a fan of mine. God did not want to hang out with me, because if God hates liars…
I know me. I could lie. If it was a sport, I would have lettered. In light of God hating liars and me being so good at lying, it became evident early on that this God, this Christian God was probably not for me, that I needed to find another way. I was always kind of a spiritual guy. I found the thinking of, “There is nothing out there but us” to be… Maybe this means I’m weak-minded, but I just couldn’t come to the position, even as a younger man, that all that love was was synapses firing off in my brain, and all beauty was was synapses firing off in my brain.
It just felt (I know that sounds weird) like that couldn’t be right. I was very much drawn to there being some type of deity, but I didn’t know what that was. It couldn’t be the Christian God, because he hated me, because I was a liar. Really, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is a great passage, because it kind of walks me through my own experience with the Lord and helps me get clarity on what the gospel is. From here, I want us to pan out and look at what this means globally as opposed to just individually. Let’s look at this. 1 Corinthians 6, starting in verse 9.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” That’s what I heard early on. “Absolutely. I’m a liar. God doesn’t like liars, so I’m not going to inherit the kingdom of God. God’s big plan of renewal and reconciliation for the world around to make all things new, to make all things right, I’m outside of that. There is a group that’s inside of that. That group is not me. It’s a bunch of Ned Flanders with tucked-in shirts and perfect lives who grew up with very few difficulties. That’s who gets the kingdom of God. They haven’t been drunk. Shoot, they don’t even drink. They have never been to a party.”
They generally, in my experience, were not very happy people. They get to inherit the kingdom of God, but guys like me… No. Not like me. The text continues. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” That just reads like a list of who I was hanging out with on the weekends. Now it’s not just me who isn’t going to inherit the kingdom of God, but now these people I love, my friends, the crew I’m running with are out too.
Now you have this kind of “in crowd,” these kind of Ned Flanders, “Hi-diddly-ho,” don’t watch rated-R movies unless it’s about Christ being crucified. Then you have my crew, and they’re incompatible. “Do not be deceived…” “Don’t be fooled. Your crew, Chandler, they’re not inheriting the kingdom of God. Your friends and you are out looking in.” In my mind, there was this group of very clean, very well put together people who were very different than me, very different than the background I was coming from, and this is where I had this disjoint of who Jesus was and what in the world the death of Christ was all about.
Why would Christ come and die for people who starch their pants and then leave the rest of us out there to damnation? There was just quite a bit of confusion, but this next line helped me with some things. If you write in your Bible, this is a great verse to underline or highlight. If you color out into the margins, draw a line out into the margins and write the word, “wow.” Here is what verse 11 says. “And such were some of you.”
In an instant, my understand shifts, because now church folk or those who are inside the kingdom, those who are inheriting the kingdom of God, this fullness of life that is found in Jesus Christ, weren’t just born into Ned Flanders-type homes, but actually were, at one time, all of these things. Now, in my head, Christians are those who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. They are those with those testimonies. “I used to be a drunkard. I used to be addicted. I used to walk in these ways, but now no longer do I.”
That was a testimony that was often celebrated when I would stick my head in church. They would give their story, “I used to get drunk ever weekend, would just pound a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, but then I met Jesus, and I haven’t been thirsty for it since.” Everybody would applaud. That dude would be signing Bibles down front afterward. There was this celebration that he pulled himself up. He straightened himself out. Still, now, even in this moment, you have the anti-gospel. That’s not the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ that you and I celebrate as believers in Christ is not that we’ve pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. Actually, we celebrate what is next in the text. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is where things click. I’m going to ask you a question about the English language here. He says, “…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…” In that sentence, are you the active agent, or are you the passive agent? Yeah, you’re passive.
This means you didn’t wash you; you were washed. You didn’t justify you; you were justified. You did not sanctify you; you were sanctified. Now, the message of Christianity starts to come into focus for me. It’s not that we’re born in good families with good backgrounds, and we never party. It’s not that we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but rather that by the Spirit of God, our hearts are awakened to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that in Christ, we are viewed as perfect and spotless before him, not by any merit of our own, but by the merit of Christ alone.
If Christians kind of wig you out in our celebration of God, in our love of God, and in our passion to live in such a way that we line ourselves up with how God has unpacked human flourishing, this is why. He washed us clean, he justified us, and he sanctified us. Also, if you’re a believer in Christ, this text should really help you on how you view those who aren’t believers. We are not better than, but we are out of, which means we view those who have not been pulled out of with compassion and empathy and mercy and not in harsh judgment.
Our enemies do not wear flesh and blood. Are you tracking with me? This is what you and I have. This is our story. God saved you from the party scene, or he saved you from empty religion, but there isn’t anyone in this room who was not washed by God in Christ, justified by God in Christ, and is being sanctified by God in Christ. He is the author and the perfector of our faith.
In fact, just a few weeks ago we saw a ton of testimonies about just this. Men and women got in the baptistery, and this is what they testified. “I was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see. Here’s what he pulled me out of. Here’s what he has done in my heart. He has transformed me in these ways.” We kind of celebrated that God saves.
Now, this is kind of a myopic view of our faith. It’s an awesome one. I just don’t think I’ll ever grow weary of celebrating the fact that God found me. Why did he come and rescue me? I was not looking for God. C. S. Lewis famously said it’s a terrifying thing to be an atheist because you never know when God is going to show up. He wrote that because he was a professor of medieval literature at Oxford and Cambridge.
His favorite medieval authors were all believers. He kept coming across the gospel in medieval literature. That’s why he said it was a scary thing to be an atheist. You just never know when he’s going to pop in. You just never know when he’s going to show off. In this, we celebrate the saving work of God on our lives. We can celebrate this and stay here and rejoice in this.
I don’t think I’ll ever get weary of the fact that I was not looking for God, and yet he came and found me. I simply wasn’t after him. I was after some ladies at the time. I was looking to use my intrinsic gifts at that time to go into law to get a sweet ride and a nice house. That was the trajectory of my life, to be rich, to be powerful, and to have an extremely attractive wife and babies who were either obedient or went to boarding school. That was kind of what I was looking at.
In the middle of that, with all these doubts of what Christianity is, all these skepticisms about the Word of God, about Christians, about their worldview on everything from sexuality to other pieces of morality, God just invaded all of that and opened up my heart without even answering my questions. That’s one of the things I’ve marveled at. Apologetically speaking, God did not, in those early days, go, “Well, here’s how the Bible works. Now believe in me.” It just really didn’t work that way. He was like, “Believe in me.” “Okay.” “Now let’s approach the question differently.” That’s really how he rescued me.
From here, let me tell you where I want to go. In cinematography there is a way of shooting that’s called extreme close-up. An extreme close-up is a shot in film that has only one detail in it. It wouldn’t be like a shot of a face close-up. That’s just called a close-up. An extreme close-up would only have one detail of the face. It would be a shot, probably most likely used in movies, that would be just the iris of an eye. Maybe you hear breathing and hear some drama, but you don’t see anything but an eye, maybe kind of darting or moving. Then it pans away, and you get to take in the rest of the details.
That type of shot is called an extreme close-up. It is extremely effective in regard to building tension and drawing in the watcher, but it does not make for good full-length feature film. Three and a half hours of you just staring at a guy’s mouth or at an eye or at eyes or at just a nose does not make for compelling story. No one has even tried it. Not even the artsy films have tried this, two hours of extreme close-up.
It’s an aspect of storytelling that can draw in and is effective, but you must eventually pan out in order to see all the weight of the story. Yes, Christ has saved us. Yes, Christ has sanctified us. Yes, Christ has redeemed us, but there is something much bigger than just you and I being called unto God going on here. I want to show you some of what that is. Now flip to your left, and let’s go to Romans 15. We’re going to pick it up in verse 18.
“For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.'”
Now I want to stop there, and I want to kind of paint… I wish we could do like a two-hour message here. That’s not wise or good, so we’ll just kind of stick in our tracks. Let me paint a picture for you of what we see. We see, back in early Genesis, God telling Abram, “I’m going to bless all the families on the earth.” Throughout the Old Testament, the claim of God through the prophets, through the psalmist, and through the law is that all nations will be glad, that all nations will hear of the great and mighty works of God, and then at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit of God falls.
Peter preaches a very un-seeker-friendly message, and 3,000 people are saved. You have the firstfruits of the Christian church, although I would argue strongly that really the Christian church began back when God called Abram. In Genesis 12, you begin to see the firstfruits of post-resurrection, ascension Christianity taking roots in Jerusalem, first of all. From Jerusalem, it begins to spread.
Saul of Tarsus is converted to Christ supernaturally on the road to Damascus. He’s not a seeker. He’s not reading Tim Keller’s books. He’s not into apologetics. God kicks him off his horse. The Son of God reveals himself to Saul of Tarsus. One of the most educated, brilliant Jews of the day converts to Jesus Christ and then begins to plant churches all over the ancient world. What Paul would do is he would go into a place that had never heard the gospel. He would preach the gospel. Men and women would come to know him.
You can read all about this in the New Testament, the book of Acts, Chronicles, and all the writings you have of Paul in the New Testament are actually letters written back to those churches that he planted. He didn’t go and become the next pastor of First Baptist Jerusalem. That’s not what happened. There were no believers. He reasoned in the synagogue, sometimes for years.
In fact, the book of Acts tells us he was in the city of Ephesus for six or seven years, and he reasoned daily in the hall of Tyrannus. What he would do was as men and women came to know Christ, he would disciple them, empower them, raise them up as leaders until they were established. They had their own elders, their own teachers, their own established church.
Then he would move on to the next place that had no church, and he would plant another church while simultaneously, believers from the church he just planted would actually go out also and plant another church. This is how Christianity spread throughout the ancient world, so much so that historian Rodney Stark says that by AD 350, 51 percent of the Roman Empire confessed Christ as Lord. Historically, that means Constantine did not make Christianity, but Christianity made Constantine.
This is how it spread. Paul’s conviction was, “People who have never seen will see, and people who have never heard will hear.” He’s testifying to the power of the gospel to rescue men and rescue women from their sin, to call out from among the revilers, to call out from among the mockers, to call out from among the liars, you and I, to pull us out, to call us out, to wash us, sanctify us, and justify us before God. Then he continues in this text.
“This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.”
Once again, you’re just getting a picture of how the gospel spread through the ancient world. Now, what you have happening here is he’s saying, “Listen. There is no more work for me to do in this section of [what was then known as Asia]. There is no room left. There are churches in almost every city. Either I’ve planted a church or guys from the churches I have planted have gone and planted churches. What I feel called to is to go where they’ve never heard and to preach the gospel.
In fact, I’ve been wanting to come see you in Rome, but you already have a church there that was established, not by me. I want to come see you, but I’ve been planting churches all over here. Now, there is no room for me to work. That is a marvelous idea. There is no room to work here. The gospel is just known, and being embraced, and being preached everywhere. It’s driving me crazy. I have to get out.
Here’s my plan. Apparently in Spain, things are pretty dark, so here’s my plan. I’m going to swing by and hang out with you in Rome for a little while. I want to encourage you, and you can encourage me, and then I’m heading to Spain, where they don’t know Christ. When I get to Spain, I’m going to do what I did back here. I’m going to preach the gospel. Men and women will be saved. I will build up churches that build up churches that build up churches. From there, I’ll run my race until God calls me home.” He has a detour he has to make on the way to Spain through Rome, starting in verse 25.
“At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it…” Now, listen to this. “…and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings…” The church in Jerusalem. “…they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” Here’s what’s happening in this text that I think is marvelous and really will help you understand how we do ministry here at the church.
When all is said and done, he’s saying here that we are, we exist, the churches in Macedonia and Achaia exist because the church at Jerusalem was faithful to send out missionaries, to send out church planters, and to make sure they didn’t hoard the blessing of God in Jerusalem but rather participated in God’s plan to rescue and redeem from among every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth. We owe them the spiritual blessings we have enjoyed. Let me paint a picture like this.
The guy who started to share the gospel with me shared it in a football locker room. I was not a good athlete. I know you’re having a hard time believing that. I just tried really hard. I wish I had the story that I was a great athlete but I blew my knee and then didn’t get a scholarship. That’s not my story. I didn’t have to blow my knee to not get a scholarship. I just needed to be me. I was uncoordinated and lanky. It was really awful.
In the locker room, after practice, the guy walks up to me and says, “Hey, I need to tell you about Jesus. When do you want to do that? I’m going to let you decide where we do this, but it is happening. When do you want to do it?” Then from there, he invited me to church with him. In fact, I remember it clearly. He said, “Hey, we do this thing on Wednesday night called JAM. Would you like to come?” I said, “JAM?” He said, “Yeah, Jesus And Me. Would you like to come?” “No, no, I don’t think I would.”
Then what he did in that moment is, preaching the gospel to me with his mouth, he brought me to church and let me see in many ways the gospel with my eyes. Here’s what I mean. The story I began with about my doubts, my concerns, kind of figuring out how this kind of thing worked, all that worked itself out as I was going to JAM, singing awfully corny songs and spelling words with my body. “Our J-O-Y.” Right?
As I’m doing that, what I’m learning is, “These are imperfect people. Some of these people are more train wrecked than I am. There are legitimate issues among these folk. These folk are far from perfect, but they are pursuing. They are seeking. They do want to love the Lord. They do want to bring their lives into greater submission to this God they serve.”
Whereas Jeff’s mouth spoke the gospel to me, the church he pulled me into, First Baptist Church of Texas City, in many ways, showed me the gospel. Here’s the truth. Here’s the historic reality of First Baptist Church of Texas City. Somebody planted that church. Somebody planted the church that planted that church, and somebody planted the church that planted that church that planted that church.
In fact, if you have been ministered to in any way in this congregation, in our localized, covenant community of faith, if you’ve been ministered to in any way, we are in many a way indebted to those who before us sacrificed time, energy, preference, and money to plant a church in an area that was perceived to be un-churched or under-churched. There were men and women just like you, just like me who sacrificed time, energy, and really gifts and talents to plant a church so the gospel might be known.
In fact, the whole Christian growth globally has been done through the missional work of church planting. It has been what God has done since day one. He calls Abram to be a…what? A people, a nation, a covenant community. What does he do at Pentecost? He just forms the bride of Christ, the church, a covenant community of people. Let me tell you why this is so important.
God has called us to a localized expression of the kingdom of God. You and I are localized. We live in a time, in a location, and we are dedicated to one another in that location, but we must not lose sight of the whole in our celebration of the localized expression of the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is much bigger than that, and God is doing much greater things out there than simply what he’s doing in our place, and it becomes imperative for us to know this and grasp this and get this.
If you get myopic, if you go extreme close-up in your understanding of our faith, there are a lot of residual issues that come with that. There will be an immense amount of worship in glory about Christ and not much else. There will not be a lot of praise songs sung about localized congregations. There will not be celebrations of this church or that church or what this church did or how this church over here fared. There will simply be a celebration of the covenant community of God all pulled together in the glories to make much of Jesus Christ. I think many of us will be surprised who all is there.
What we want to be about is the mission of God. Do we want to be serious about our own community of faith? Absolutely. Do we want to live in such a way that says there’s something of greater importance than just us and our gathering here? Absolutely, we do. I don’t know whether you know this or not, but we are a part of the church-planting Acts 29 Network. If you know your Bible, and you’re like, “Well, wait a minute. Acts doesn’t have 29 chapters.” Yeah.
What we’re trying to communicate by calling it Acts 29 is that what God did in Acts 1-28 he actually continues to do, which is to push the gospel forward around the globe by the heralding of the Word of God and by planting churches everywhere. Acts 29 is a network of churches that plant churches that plant churches that plant churches. Let me tell you a bit about our network. There are 468 churches in our network, 18 denominations represented in Acts 29.
There are Baptists. There are Presbyterians. There are EV Free. I’m not going to list all 18 of them. There are Acts 29 churches in 61 countries on six continents. In fact, I’m fresh back from a trip to the UK, and it was spectacular. Our big event there was in Cardiff, Wales. We had close to 400 men and women from all over Europe gather in Cardiff. We had a large group from France and a group from Italy and a group from Norway and a group from Germany and then from Iceland. Who knew? I didn’t even know there were people in Iceland.
It was being translated into all these different languages. I was preaching my normal clip and pace and seeing these poor guys panicking in the corner, trying to translate into German very quickly into headphones, into other people. What we got to see was that the gospel is global. Here’s what I’ve found in my recent trip to Europe. God knows nothing of hard ground. God knows nothing of difficult countries. I witnessed firsthand young, passionate men and women worshipping Jesus Christ and replanting churches all over Europe.
I know. “Well, the cathedrals are empty.” Yeah, they are. They are historic landmarks, but I got to preach down on Piccadilly (their Broadway) in a theater that holds the musical Grease and got to preach to a packed, not a seat open, theater of 20-somethings worshipping Christ passionately, celebrating Communion and baptizing new believers. On top of that, there are 142,932 people who worship every weekend in Acts 29 churches. Last year, there were close to 19,000 people who came to know Christ in our churches.
Currently, we have 656 church-planters in training. You can see we’re set to exponentially grow over the course of the next two years, depending on how that training ferrets out. Last year, we planted 171 churches around the globe (and here’s what’s interesting) in all kinds of locations. A great deal of our plants are wanting to get into urban centers.
If you know history, there was a season in which our parents fled out of the city to create the suburbs. What they did is they kind of just took the church with them. Now what has happened is 20- and 30-year-olds are moving back into the cities, and you have what I believe to be a spectacular melting pot of backgrounds, colors, and creeds. We have a lot of guys who are wanting to plant in those urban centers so there might be a viable gospel witness back in the urban course.
We have guys planting in suburbia, and we have guys planting in rural areas, as those are places that are shrinking and dying, and churches are shrinking and dying out there. You have guys heading into rural areas of the country and of the world to plant very biblically serious, gospel-loving, Christ-exalting churches, and this is what you and I are a part of. Some of the money you give goes to this. We want to spend our lives in this way to make much of Christ by not making much of us.
There is going to be a certain level of comfort here that we just don’t go past. I’ve said since day one, I’m not going to make you a coffee shop. I want you to drink coffee. I want you to stay awake, but we want to be mindful to engage the world around us with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so go and pick up your latte, and know your barista, and walk kindly and compassionately with those around you. That would be our preference.
We want to spend our lives making much of Jesus and being serious about God’s plan to establish little localized communities of faith that reflect well his glory to the world around them. Imperfect people striving toward maturity, stumbling and bumbling along the way, all covered by the grace of Jesus Christ. With this in view, I want to ask you to consider a couple of things.
First, I want to ask you to consider praying along these lines. In Matthew 9, I’ll pick it up in verse 36. The Bible says, “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”
What we want to pray for, what we want to ask God for, as our localized congregation, we want to pray that God would raise up men. We want to pray that God would raise up those who would go out and plant churches that we might disciple, encourage, and train in such a way that there are those even in here today who are excelling in business, who are excelling in another field, who become convinced by the Spirit of God that God would have them actually plant one of these little candles in the midst of a dark and depraved generation.
We want to pray that we might see among Acts 29 churches, men raised and trained and launched out to plant churches any and everywhere on planet Earth. I want you to begin to take seriously this call to pray for this, to ask God to raise up these men. Like I already mentioned, you can see how many guys we have in the queue right now, or in our training program. I’ve just gotten back from the UK now, so queue is kind of in my vernacular right now. I’m trying to get it out, but it’ll take a little bit of time. I want you to start to pray with me.
Here’s something else I want you to consider. I want you to consider going. Here’s what I mean by that. More and more, you’re going to hear, “Hey, we’re looking at planting a church here. We’re looking to plant a church here. Out of our church, we’ve already planted, even in the immediate vicinity, a church in Frisco. We’ve planted a church in Keller. We’ve planted a church in Coppell. These are all within 20 or 25 minutes of us.
Each time we’ve done that, we’ve said, “Hey, do you live out there? Maybe you should check that out. Instead of driving past that to us, why don’t you check this out?” Where we’ll go from here is, “Hey, does anybody want to move to Chicago? Santa Barbara, anyone?” I’m thinking about going to that one myself. We want to encourage you to join a core team that’s going to launch into a city and plant a church.
Would you consider going? Maybe that just means going to another church locally that we plant, or maybe that involves you moving because you have that type of flexibility to be a part of a plant, but it does mean you’re serious about how the gospel pushes out and hits the ends of the earth.
Here’s the last thing I want to put before you. I’d also like you to consider and pray about giving financially to Acts 29. You got a card when you walked in the door that has some of the statistics of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not a believer in Christ, you can right now hit pause if you want. I don’t want you to feel like we’re after your money at all. In fact, you can just keep your money.
For those of you who are believers, when all is said and done, A29 is not getting wealthy. For all you see here on that little handout we gave you, Acts 29 has three full-time staff members. I’m the president, and my annual salary is $0.00. If you pile up all the cash I make for leading this thing, it’s invisible. It’s an empty table. In the end, would you consider giving toward this?
Here’s how it’ll work. This is happening at every Acts 29 church in the United States. We just call this weekend Church Planting Sunday. Of the money raised, 40 percent of it is staying at the church, so 40 percent of the money we raise this week and moving forward will be spent on church planting here in our context and our city, how our church does church planting. Then 60 percent is actually going to Central to help fund some of the training, some of the staffing needs, some of the central needs of this network.
Would you consider and pray through maybe supporting? You can do that in one of two ways. You can give today. The information is there on your card. Or you can give in the coming days. Again, the information there is on your card in regard to how to get online and do that. I want you to consider financially supporting the work of Acts 29 and church planting globally, because I really believe this is the heart of God.
Let me kind of close us out like this. It struck me probably about the time my daughter started interacting with the world around her. I’m 38, so I’m not an old man, but I’m not a young man anymore. I’m in just what I’ll call the cruising altitude of life. I’m up here. There is no more climb. We’re just there. All that is left is the descent. Don’t get upset about that. It’s true. “That’s not true!” Okay. Why are you cramping up from sitting down for ten minutes? All right. It is. Hit the cruise.
Here’s what I know. The world my children are growing up in is nothing like the world I grew up in. Maybe you don’t categorize me here, but when I was a kid, televisions did not have a remote control. I know that because that’s what I did. I know they didn’t, because my dad would say, “NBC. And turn it down.” Since there was no such thing as time out, there was a holy fear that had you get up and go turn the television like you were asked. There wasn’t, “Sit on the step and think about that.” You were just going to get smacked around a bit.
There was no remote control. That’s why people were having kids. I could go on and on and on with this. The world is just very, very different. Now I watch my kids interact with the world, and here’s what’s really kind of spectacular to watch. There is more to do for my children than there has ever been made available for any human being ever. Literally, they could download a new game today because they already got bored with the game they downloaded yesterday.
I took my son out for just a little… We call it a “man date.” We went out for a little man date. I got a cup of coffee. He got a soda. We just sat at Starbucks and caught up on life. He was kind of chronicling his week for me, which was fascinating. I kind of chronicled mine. Then we were driving home from Starbucks to my house, all in all about a five-minute drive. In the car on the way home, he sighed.
“What’s up, buddy?”
I was like, “How can you be bored? We literally walked out of there. You’re in the car. It’s a five-minute drive home.”
“Can I use your phone?”
“No, you cannot see my phone. Look out the window. For 100 years, we’ve stared out the window, and we’ve turned out just fine. Look out the window. You can’t have my phone.”
You have the most entertained generation the world has ever known. Look at me. Something is gnawing at us. We’re bored. You have a ton of young men who like to play war and none who actually want to go to it. You have a ton of men and women who are drawn to great themes and dramas but don’t want to participate in the greatest one the universe will ever know.
Has it not struck you that it’s strange that our culture is driven toward movies that embody sacrifice and service, yet those two things are things that are hard to find in most modern men. “I’ll sacrifice, and I’ll serve.” See, what you and I are being invited into is what our hearts were created for. If you do an extreme close-up on the Christian faith, and all it is about is you getting better and you improving morally, and you never pan out of that extreme close-up and see all God is doing and join God in the mission of God to herald his name to the ends of the earth, then you will be stunted in your development and your maturing into the fullness of Christ.
You will miss out on the sanctification that occurs when you give yourself over to who God is and the gospel and the mission of God in regard to planting churches. Will you pray and consider and go and give and be a part of what God is doing? There will be a day where history is rewritten. There will be new heroes, new celebrities. There will be a new timeline of how history unfolded, and my hope is to give my life and have it wrung out for the one who will echo throughout eternity and not the one who will be purged and burnt up upon the return of Christ.
As a church, in regard to structure and leadership, we’re going to be more and more serious about church planting. We’re going to give more and more money to church planting. I’m asking you outside of the organizational component, but as the organic component, to also join us in our seriousness about how we want to do missions globally, which is primarily through church planting. Won’t you get in the fight and leave the boredom behind? Let’s pray.
Father, I thank you for these men and women just believing and trusting that you’ve drawn into this place those you would have be here today. I pray that you would encourage our hearts. I pray that we would be reminded that you saved us, called us to yourself, and that we would marvel at that. I also pray, Father God, that you would help our hearts, minds, and eyes pan back off of just us and our salvation and pan off of just this church and all you’ve done in this church, God, and that you might lift our eyes to the ends of the earth.
I pray that you might stir up our hearts to be prayerful, you might stir up our hearts, many of us, to go, and that you would stir up our hearts to the man to give, not under compulsion or heavy-handedness, but God, just out of an overflow of our gratitude in our salvation and in the hopes that you would do in others what you have done with us. Would you open up our wallets and open up our checking accounts so others might hear, others might know, and others might get to rest in the marvelous, matchless grace you have lavished upon us. It’s through your beautiful name I pray, amen.
Love you guys.