The Radical Experiment, 6 November 2011

Big Idea: the conclusion of our Radical series offers five next-steps for knowing Jesus more deeply.

Opening Video

We are concluding our series
Radical based somewhat on the book of the same name by David Platt.

  • Last week I issued two cautions. One was that we would not take Jesus’ hard teaching seriously, rationalizing them away. The other is that we turn them into a legalistic to-do list that will get us to heaven or make God love us more.

  • Nothing you can do can make God love you more. Nothing you can do can make God love you less.

  • What I’m about to share with you has an additional caution—apathy. Jesus’ brother said simply...

  • Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22

  • It’s easy to hear challenging teachings and nod our head or even compliment the preacher at the end, but what matters is not merely what we know but how we respond. Jesus was not merely a good teacher, He came to be LORD. Action is a natural response to love.

  • We have celebrated communion together, remembering all that Jesus has done for us. Anything that we do in obedience to Him is nothing more than a response, a privilege! The amazing thing is that when we obey Jesus, we are blessed. We experience what it means to be fully human. We encounter a depth in our relationship with our Creator that we can discover no other way. We are filled with joy and peace and satisfaction found nowhere else.

  • Today I want to invite you to The Radical Experiment. There are five parts to the Radical Experiment and they are just that, an experiment. These are five things that I believe will draw you closer to Jesus. They reflect His heart, His passion, and His commands. These five things are not magic, but I believe they can change your life, our church, and ultimately our world.

  • Pray for the entire world

  • This week the 7 billionth person entered our world. Billions have never even heard of Jesus. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, Jesus said in Luke 10:2. “Ask the LORD of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.”

  • We can join God in His mission on our knees. Our denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, states in its Core Values

  • Prayer is the primary work of God’s people. (Philippians 4:6-7)

  • OperationWorld.org will be our main tool for praying for the entire world. They have a book, a website, and other resources where you can learn about a different nation each day and pray for them.

  • We want God to bless America, but also all of the nations of the world. John 3:16 says that God so loved the...world! The first step in being a blessing to the nations is to pray for them.

  • Read through the entire Word

  • This relates to another value of the Christian & Missionary Alliance:

  • Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. (Joshua 1:8)

  • We can’t know it if we haven’t read it. Spiritual warfare is real. We need to know the Truth of God’s Word. The purpose, again, is not to perform a task but to know our Father.

  • Steve Jobs asked Walter Isaacson to write a biography of his life so that his children could know their dad. That makes me so sad, yet it would be even more tragic if his kids had no interest in reading it!

  • Our Father has given us not only information about Himself, but also wisdom for living, exciting stories, history, poetry, prophecy, and so much more. I want to challenge you to read through the Bible in 2012.

  • You may be saying, “2012? It’s not even December 2011!” You can use the next several weeks to practice or get a head start. We have a tool for this, too.

  • Dr. George Guthrie (www.readthebibleforlife.com) developed the Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

  • This plan takes the material of the Bible and organizes it to flow in chronological order. Since exact dating of some materials or events is not possible, the chronology simply represents an attempt to give you the reader the general flow and development of the Bible's grand story. Some passages are placed according to topic (e.g., John 1:1–3 in Week 1, Day 2; and many of the psalms). There are six readings for each week to give you space for catching up when needed.

    In addition to the website and book, free apps are available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch and it is fully compatible with the
    YouVersion website and apps. You can listen to the audio, read the book, visit online, or view the app. However you do it, we want to read through the entire Bible...together.

    Imagine what it would be like if you told a friend about what you read that morning and they said, “Hey, I read that, too!” As a church family, we will all be able to read the same chapters each day and grow together. We’ll even build some of our Sunday morning texts from the reading plan.

    In addition to the verses, ReadTheBibleForLife.com offers podcasts and videos with Michael Card and others that will help you read, understand, and apply God’s Word.

    Sacrifice our money for a specific purpose

    Everything that we have belongs to God—not 10%, not 50%, but 100%. As we have noted, every person in this room is financially rich compared to the other 7 billion people on the planet. What would happen if we committed to free up resources for urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world? Do you think God would honor our generosity if we take what is from Him and sacrificially use it for His purposes?

    Instead of asking how much we can spare, what if we asked, “What will it take?”

    The needs of our world are so overwhelming. Bob Pierce, the former president of World Vision said,

    "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything."

    Each of us can do
    something, whether it is to skip a meal, cancel cable, increase the percentage of our giving, sponsor a child with Compassion International, or even make a micro-finance loan through Kiva.org.

    It has been said that Christians spend more money on dog food than missions! Seriously?

    Everything we have belongs to God; we are His stewards. (1 Chronicles 29:14)

    The world is not our home. Let’s stop living like it is.

    Give our time in another context

    I challenge you—and myself—to spend 2% of your time—or one week—in another context. This could be a missions trip to Africa or a week next summer in Detroit. We’ll be presenting opportunities in the coming days for youth, individuals, and families or you can create your own.

    Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. (Luke 19:10)

    Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. (Matthew 28:19)

    That means you!

    Commit our lives to a multiplying community

    Be a committed member of a local church, here or elsewhere.

    Following Jesus is a team sport. We need each other. God created us to be interdependent. Just as the Father, Son and Spirit exist in community so we are to, also.

    In 2012 we are going to pray for the world together, read the Word together, give together, and serve together.

    The point is not to follow Christ but to follow Him together.

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
  • - Acts 2:42-47

    Do you see it?

    They were radically committed to the Word of God and the apostle’s teaching.
  • They were radically committed to fellowship together, in public and in homes.
  • They were radically committed to prayer, experiencing miracles.
  • They were radically generous, giving to anyone as he had need.
  • They were radically committed to one another, meeting together daily.

  • This was not a perfect church, but it was a radical one. I cannot imagine a more compelling vision for Scio—a group of normal but radical people, passionately committed to loving Jesus, one another, and their neighbors.

  • It doesn’t just happen, though. We can’t wish it into reality. It requires total surrender, but it’s worth it.

  • You might ask why we’re talking about 2012 in November of 2011. As I said with the Bible reading, this will give you some time to experiment. I urge you to prayerfully consider the challenge, especially as we head into the crazy holidays.

  • Finally, let me say once more that we must avoid legalism, thinking we need to follow man-made rules or even God-given commands in order to earn salvation or approval before God. Nothing you can do can make God love your more/less. God’s favor in your life is not based on your performance but on Jesus Christ and what He did for you. That’s what we celebrated earlier with communion. That’s also why do serve Him. We love and serve Him because He first loved and served us. This is our response.

  • Concluding Video

  • You can listen to the podcast here.
  • Radical Abandonment, 30 October 2011

  • Big Idea: Jesus abandoned everything in heaven for you and for me. He invites us to radically abandon everything on earth for Him.

  • Mark 10:17-31

  • If there is one key verse for the series, it is Luke 14:33 where Jesus says,

  • …any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

  • For those of you looking for a loophole in the Greek, the word for everything—pas—means “all, everything, whole, always.”

  • Jesus demands radical abandonment—of everything: our time, talent, treasures, relationships, future, education, work, dreams, spouse, children, family…He wants it all!

  • Jesus’ teachings are filled with paradox. They defy conventional wisdom and political correctness. They are the polar opposite of the American Dream that says our highest aim in life should be the pursuit of happiness.

  • Look what Jesus said a few chapters earlier in Luke 9:24

  • For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

  • A few chapters later, He repeats a similar thought

  • Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)

  • He wants all or nothing.

  • Today’s text is found in Mark’s biography of Jesus.

  • As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

  • “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

  • “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” (10:17-20)
  • Maybe you could say this. You’ve been a good boy or girl. You have lived a good life, never killed anyone, played by the rules, avoided speeding tickets, been a devoted Michigan football fan…!

  • Where did Jesus get this list of commandments? From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Let’s review them together:

  • 1. No other Gods (Exodus 20:3)
  • 2. No idols (4-6)
  • 3. Do not misuse the name of the LORD (7)
  • 4. Remember the Sabbath (8-11)
  • 5. Honor your father and mother (12)
  • 6. Do not murder (13)
  • 7. Do not commit adultery (14)
  • 8. Do not steal (15)
  • 9. Do not lie (16)
  • 10. Do not covet (17)

  • How did you do? Most people that I’ve met would say they are pretty good—after all, they haven’t killed anyone! To be honest, I struggle daily with the first two. I find myself putting my desires above God’s, longing for health and wealth and happiness and doing just about anything to be safe and comfortable despite the needs around me. I look at my favorite idol every time I stand in front of a mirror. But that’s just me!

  • This man was a good man. He obeyed all of the commandments. He probably could’ve been a pastor or elder himself. He had arrived…almost.

  • Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (10:21)

  • Was that in God’s top ten list? I missed that!

  • At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (10:22)

  • Wait! Let’s go back to those first two commandments.

  • 1. No other Gods (Exodus 20:3)
  • 2. No idols (4-6)

  • Do you see what happened?

  • Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (10:23)

  • You are rich. Across the country at this very moment there are people occupying Wall Street and other public venues with one slogan. What is it? We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.

  • Here’s the truth, though: I’m in the 1%. Many of you are, too. No, we’re not among the richest 1% of USAmericans, but we are among the richest 1% on the planet. If you earn $48,000 or more, you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. $32,000 places you in the top 6 %, and if you only earned $12,000 you’re still in the top 13%!

  • The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (10:24-25)

  • Why? It’s all about need. It’s about dependence upon God.

  • The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

  • Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (10:26-27)

  • Many of us know this famous verse—all things are possible with God. Look at the context, though. It’s about salvation. Jesus is saying that we can be saved despite our wealth and idols.

  • I recently heard an interview with a highly educated Muslim man talking about his Islamic faith. When asked if he had any certainty about his eternal destination, he replied that God only knows. He is spending his entire life trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor in hopes that he will pass the test on judgment day and go to heaven rather than hell.

  • Maybe some of you are like that. You’ve been trying hard to be good so God will love you. You have more in common, perhaps, than Muslims. The religion of Christianity has said we must behave a certain way in order to believe and ultimately belong, but Jesus came to abolish religion. He came to offer grace, allow the unworthy to know God, invite sinners to heaven, and provide joy and peace and love to the unlovable.

  • The amazing thing about Jesus is grace, unmerited favor.

  • This past week I had a dear friend call me. We hadn’t talked in many months—maybe even years—but he was concerned that because he had turned away from God in the past, he was destined to hell despite his desire to follow Jesus again. I had him read the end of Romans 8 to remind him that nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even the terrible things we do.

  • That’s grace! If we want God, He will always welcome us with open arms as did the Father in the prodigal son. That’s the good news! That’s the Gospel! It’s not about what we do, but what was done on the cross for us. None of us can be saved—not rich or poor—apart from Jesus and the cross.

  • “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.” - Dallas Willard

  • Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

  • “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (10:28-30)

  • What does this say about those who radically follow Jesus? It will be worth it.

  • Jesus then concludes with one of His most famous paradoxical statements:

  • But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (10:31)

  • Play now and pay later or pay now and play later. The choice is yours. You can cling to this world, or invest in the world to come.

  • We use a lot of words to describe God. Jesus. Teacher. Savior. King. Son. Prince of Peace. Father. Perhaps the most challenging is LORD. He gives us commands, not considerations or suggestions. He’s not out to get us, though. He knows that if we lose ourselves, we will find. If we give, we will receive. If we surrender, we will discover freedom. If we die, we will truly live.

  • The Apostle Paul, arguably the most important figure in the New Testament after Jesus, said

  • I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

  • Paul is either insane or he is saying that by dying, he can experience resurrection and new life. When we die to ourselves, God can begin to recreate us. As the prophet Ezekiel wrote,

  • I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26

  • You’ve got to let go, though.

  • Never Alone

  • This is a challenging message. This has been a challenging series. I’ve been reminded each week that I need to die, and just when I feel like every part of me has been surrendered, I discover another place where I’m holding on. Death can be scary, especially when everyone else around us is living their normal lives.

  • This is where the Church becomes so vital. We are a family. We are a community. We need one another. We need to encourage one another. We need to mentor and disciple one another. We need to spur one another on toward our own death and Christ’s life.

  • Perhaps the most graphic description of this is found in the second chapter of the book of Acts.

  • They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

  • Do you see it?

  • They were radically committed to the Word of God and the apostle’s teaching.
  • They were radically committed to fellowship together, in public and in homes.
  • They were radically committed to prayer, experiencing miracles.
  • They were radically generous, giving to anyone as he had need.
  • They were radically committed to one another, meeting together daily.

  • This was not a perfect church, but it was a radical one. I cannot imagine a more compelling vision for Scio—a group of normal but radical people, passionately committed to loving Jesus, one another, and their neighbors.

  • It doesn’t just happen, though. We can’t wish it into reality. It requires total surrender, but it’s worth it.

  • We are not alone. He is not only with us, He has given us one another to encourage each other. This world is not our home. We are just visiting this planet...together.

  • Radical abandonment is about giving up anything that gets between us and God’s leadership. Do you trust Him…with everything? 

  • Jesus abandoned everything in heaven for you and for me. He invites us to radically abandon everything on earth for Him.

  • You can listen to the podcast here.

    Radical Giving, 16, October 2011

  • Big Idea: We have been blessed to bless others.

  • Luke 16:19-31

  • Last week we said that we must have a radical urgency for the things of God and the two things He cares most deeply about are the lost and the poor. The Bible is jam-packed with God’s heart for the spiritual and physically needy.

    I believe the primary reason why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not taking root and flourishing in our nation is our lack of need.

    Think about it.

    Do we need healing? That’s what Advil and the doctor do.
    Do we need daily bread? Most of us have a pantry full of food plus a refrigerator and maybe even a freezer.
    Do we need education and knowledge? We have more information in our pockets than could fill a library 20 years ago.
    Do we need relationships? We connect with our deepest friends at bars and on Facebook.

    Friends, our world is filled with needs, and God wants
    us to meet them. That’s our purpose. That’s why we’re still here and not zapped up to heaven after begin to follow Jesus.

    Last week we focused on urgency for the spiritually needs and today we turn to the physically poor. Today we’re talking about radical giving.

    I want to begin by saying we are not in a building campaign. We are not fundraising today. In fact, we already took the offering! My hope is that at the end of our time together your heart will beat more in sync with God’s heart and recognize not only the needs around us but also how you can change the world, one life at a time.

    If you have your Bible, either paper or electronic, please turn to Luke 16. Luke is one of four biographies of Jesus, written by a doctor who paid great attention to detail in his account.

  • “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. (Luke 16:19-21)

  • Do you identify yourself as the rich man, the beggar, or the dogs?

  • “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ (Luke 16:22-24)

  • Quick tangent: does Jesus ever talk about Hell? How is it described? Why did the beggar go to Abraham’s side (or heaven)? Why did the rich man end up in Hell?

  • “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ (Luke 16:25-26)

  • “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
    (Luke 16:27-28)

  • I never noticed this before but the rich man wants the beggar to evangelize the rich man’s brothers. Why didn’t he ask to go himself and leave Hell?

  • “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ (Luke 16:29)

  • “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ (Luke 16:30)

  • This is an interesting point made by the rich man. Is it true? Has a once-dead man ever appeared to people? Jesus did! Did everyone that saw Him repent? No!

  • “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31)

  • I want you to remember two things today. First, God responds to the needs of the poor with compassion.

  • Listen to just a few verses about the poor. Keep in mind that many religions despise the poor.

  • The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him — may your hearts live forever! - Psalm 22:26

  • My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” - Psalm 35:10

    I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. - Psalm 140:12

    There are so many more. Now let’s look at what Jesus said...

    The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” - Luke 4:17-19

    Jesus came for the spiritually and physically poor. He didn’t come for the religious people. His mission was not to help the rich gain greater wealth. His purpose was not to create a safe, comfortable life for Himself and His friends.

    Perhaps the most famous statement ever made about the poor came in a passage known as the Beatitudes.

    Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. - Luke 6:20-21

    Notice Jesus doesn’t say wealth is bad or wrong or evil, though He did make it clear that it can become an idol. The root of all evil, after all, is not money but the LOVE of money.

    We play now and pay later or pay now and play later.

    I believe that God responds to the needs of the poor with compassion because they are in need, they are broken, they are humble, they are not too proud to beg, so to speak. This does not mean that every poor person gets an automatic ticket to heaven, but it does mean that God cares for them and so should we.

    We hear about the poor all the time, don’t we? Politicians talk about the poor. Guilt-inducing statistics are shoved in our face through various fundraisers and infomercials.

    I often judge the poor. I’m not proud of this, but I sometimes look at the exit guys—the beggars at the exit ramps—and think to myself, “Go get a job!” I look at bums downtown and think, “Quit drinking and smoking and do something with your life.” It’s easy to get callous toward the poor, especially when you hear stories about con-artists that make five or even six figures panhandling or addicts that take your cash right to a drug dealer.

    There are many reasons people are poor, but globally it is rarely the result of their choices.

    I thought about rattling off a barrage of statistics on poverty to help you see the needs of the poor in our world, but you’ve probably heard them already. I will share with you two.

    Nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 per day. That’s $730 per year.

    Today 50,000 people will die due to poverty-related causes.

    Behind every statistic is a face, a friend, a family member, a person formed in the image of God.

    God responds to the needs of the poor with compassion.

    The second thing I want you to know is
    God responds to those who neglect the poor with condemnation.

    We are the rich man in the story. Yes, I’m talking to you. Most of you children have more wealth than billions of people on this planet. Billions!

    We are dressed in fine linen inside a building that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. We will soon get into hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cars to go to homes worth millions of dollars combined. Meanwhile, there are poor at the gate, both across the street and across the planet.

    Many of you know about the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The term sodomy is derived from their behavior. Nevertheless, it was not their greatest sin.

    “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
    - Ezekiel 16:49

    God has blessed us with great wealth...to share.

    Have you ever prayed for God to bless the poor? He probably responded by saying, “Go for it!”

    Have you ever prayed for God to provide for starving children? That’s our job!

    Again, wealth is not bad—unless it is hoarded. Followers of Jesus should be the most radical givers. We should be known for our generosity.

    The rich man was sent to hell not because he had money, but because money had him. He neglected the poor.

    Are we throwing our scraps to the poor while we indulge in our pleasures. Is our giving like an extra chicken for the slaves at Christmas. This is not what the people of God do. Regardless of what we say or sing or study on Sunday morning, rich people who neglect the poor are not the people of God.

    Even the world knows this.

    “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” - Stephen Colbert

    One of my dreams for Scio is that it if we ever closed our doors, people would miss us. They would miss the positive impact we made. They would miss the way we lived modest lives and gave abundantly.

    There is good news. Even though we can’t control famines or oppressive governments or other factors that lead poverty, we can make a difference.

    Are we willing to ask God if he wants us to sell everything we have and give the money to the poor? Are we willing to ask and wait for an answer instead of providing one of our own or justifying our ideas of why he would never tell us to do this? This seems a bit radical, but isn’t it normal and expected when we follow a Master who said, “…any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

    That means our wealth. We are not supposed to give God 10%. It ALL belongs to Him! One day we will stand before God and have to give an account for how we used our wealth. This is not only money but also our time and talents.

    What is true and acceptable religion (James 1:27)? We are all so rich, which is not a bad thing. We need to be conduits of blessing to our communities...and the nations.
    One man said the goal of every follower of Jesus should be to make as much money as possible and live off of as little as necessary. To whom much is given, much is required and we have all been given so much.

    So what now? Here are a few suggestions:

    1. Visit www.ONE.org
  • 2. Sponsor a child with Compassion International
  • 3. Donate and serve with Hope Clinic
  • 4. Fast in solidarity with those who are hungry…and pray for them.
  • 5. Skip your Starbucks for a day…a week…a month…a year!

  • A story is told of a starfish.

    One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

    "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." - Bob Pierce, former president of World Vision

    David Platt notes,

    “We look back on slave-owning churchgoers of 150 years ago and ask, “How could they have treated their fellow human beings that way?” I wonder if followers of Christ 150 years from now will look back at Christians in America today and ask, “How could they live in such big houses? How could they drive such nice cars and wear such nice clothes? How could they live in such affluence while thousands of children were dying because they didn’t have food and water? How could they go on with their lives as though the billions of poor didn’t even exist?””

    Jesus said...

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:19-21
    Radical giving is not rooted in guilt, but in the Gospel. It’s a part of following Jesus.

    “So how do we care for the poor in a way that glorifies God? Be captivated by Christ. Long for the new creation. Set aside empty promises and earthly ideas of success, and trust that Christ will do what he has promised as we, with thankful hearts for the mercy that God has shown us, extend mercy in word and deed to those who so desperately need it, whether they're down the street or across the globe.” -Aaron Armstrong

    We have been blessed to bless others.

    Where is
    your treasure? Where is your heart?

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Radical Urgency, 9 October 2011

  • Big Idea: The time is now to share our story and fulfill our mission. Our days are numbered.

  • John 4:27-42

  • Introduction

  • We are in the middle of a series called Radical, largely inspired by the David Platt book of the same name. It’s really an attempt to fulfill our church’s mission:

  • We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

  • - serving our communities
  • - sharing our story
  • - sending disciples to bless the nations

  • so that God is glorified.

  • This week’s message title—planned many weeks ago—is Radical Urgency.

  • I was deeply moved by an event that occurred this past week. Our generation’s Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, passed away. I don’t think a more influential human being has died in my lifetime. As many of you know, I’ve been an avid Apple user since 1994. I love Pixar films, too, a company that Jobs launched.

  • As I was reading a tribute to Jobs in USA Today, I was gripped by two sentences. The first one said

  • Jobs was a Buddhist.

  • The second one said

  • After a stint as a video-game designer at Atari, Jobs trekked to India in 1974, where he embraced Eastern culture and religion.

  • At age 19, Steve Jobs was searching for meaning and truth and he encountered Buddhism.

  • I have great respect for Buddhists. Our dear neighbors open their home each week for Buddhist services and are wonderful people. However, Buddhism will not lead you to heaven. In fact, they don’t even believe in an eternal heaven.

  • Here’s my point: what if Steve Jobs encountered fully-devoted followers of Jesus at age 19? What if a friend introduced him to Christ as a teenager?

  • I told Heather that of all of the people I have never met, I hope Steve Jobs is in heaven. God only knows where Steve will spend eternity, but the Bible makes it clear that without Jesus, it won’t be pleasant.

  • Platt tells of a conversation with two friends.

  • I remember sitting outside a Buddhist temple in Indonesia. Men and women filled the elaborate, colorful temple grounds, where they daily performed their religious rituals. Meanwhile, I was engaged in a conversation with a Buddhist leader and a Muslim leader in this particular community. They were discussing how all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different. “We may have different views about small issues,” one of them said, “but when it comes down to essential issues, each of our religions is the same.”

  • I listened for a while, and then they asked me what I thought. I said,“It sounds as though you both picture God (or whatever you call god) at the top of a mountain. It seems as if you believe that we are all at the bottom of the mountain, and I may take one route up the mountain, you may take another, and in the end we will all end up in the same place.” They smiled as I spoke. Happily they replied, “Exactly! You understand!” Then I leaned in and said, “Now let me ask you a question. What would you think if I told you that the God at the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are? What would you think if I told you that God doesn’t wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us?” They thought for a moment and then responded, “That would be great.” I replied, “Let me introduce you to Jesus.” This is the gospel.

  • This is the gospel, friends. It’s a gospel that Steve Jobs needs. It’s a gospel that you and I need. It’s a gospel that the world needs.

  • We don’t have time to waste. Our days are numbered. You can be a world-famous, creative genius billionaire and your days are still numbered.

  • We must have a radical urgency for the things of God and the two things He cares most deeply about are the lost and the poor. The Bible is jam-packed with God’s heart for the spiritual and physically needy.
  • The Gospel demands radical urgency. It is something we are all given the privilege to share. If you have encountered Jesus, there’s no way you could remain unchanged.

  • One of my great frustrations as a pastor is the myth that you pay me to do ministry. The reality is we are all Christ’s ambassadors. I get paid to equip you to do ministry.

  • A related myth is that you are unqualified to do ministry. Since I’ve been to seminary and you have not, I’m the expert and you don’t know enough.

  • Radical urgency does not come from what we know; it only comes from who we know.

    There’s a great story of Jesus encountering a woman at a well. She is a Samaritan woman, a group despised by the Jews. Jesus had a radical disregard for the prejudices and hatred of men. His radical urgency transcended tribal boundaries. As I said a moment ago, you cannot encounter Jesus and not be changed, and this woman was no exception.

    John 4:27 begins

    Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” (John 4:27)

    Did I mention not only did Jews not talk to Samaritans, men did not usually talk to women, certainly not alone, and certainly not rabbis. Jesus’ radical urgency for the lost person trumps all of our cultural and religious traditions.
    Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30)

  • She shared her story with everyone she knew. How long was she a follower of Jesus? Minutes! How long did she attend seminary? Zero! She was not even a righteous woman, yet God used her.

  • Have you ever felt too ordinary to be used by God? Have you ever felt unqualified? Check out this video.

  • In the next verses, Jesus has a conversation with His disciples about food.

  • “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (John 4:34-38)

  • We often think that no one is particularly interested in hearing—let alone responding to—the Gospel, the good news.

  • This week I met a woman who told me after 38 years, she knew nothing about Jesus. At age 38, here in the United States, someone finally told her the story. His story. The simple story that God created, man destroyed, Jesus restored, and He is returning to establish a new heaven and a new earth. That’s it. That’s the story. It’s not good news, it’s great news! We’re not worthy. He is. We deserve death for our sins. He did it for us if we believe and accept the gift of His life and follow Him.

  • What does Jesus say here? The fields are ripe for harvest now. This is an appropriate time of year to talk about harvest. Last week we noted that harvest often refers to judgment, but here Jesus is clearly saying some plant seeds, other water, and others bring in the fruit. We all like to pick the fruit, but each person in the process is critical. You don’t just stick a seed in the ground and eat its fruit the next day. In the same way it’s unlikely that your first conversation with someone will lead to them dropping to their knees in surrender to Jesus. Then again, it might happen if others have been planting and watering the spiritual seeds in their life.

  • In today’s scripture, Jesus does not go into a town, have a revival meeting, and count the conversions. A despised, sinful Samaritan woman is a vital part of the process. She is not guilted into sharing her story. She doesn’t take a class. She is overjoyed to let others know what Jesus has done in her life. She simply invited people to meet Jesus. Should we also be just inviting people to encounter Jesus? What would that look like for us? What would that look like for you?

  • Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. (John 4:39-41)

  • They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

  • God used a woman—a rather sinful woman, at that—to bring the Gospel to her town. It had nothing to do with her education. It had nothing to do with her character. She encountered Jesus and had to share her story.

  • What’s your story? Earlier this year we developed two-word stories. Of course, it helps to have someone to share it with.

    This week I was reminded of radical urgency. My days on earth are numbered and when they end I have to give an account of how I spent them. There is a radical urgency that I do not waste a precious second.

    Those around us are also going to face judgment someday. One conversation be all that is needed for their eternities to be transformed. Most of us live as if we’re indestructible with at least 80 or 90 years before we reach our expiration date, but some may die at 70 or 60…or 56.

    This week you might encounter a 19 year-old searching for meaning and purpose in life. They may choose to follow Jesus because of your conversation or they may choose an alternate path, change the world, and spend eternity apart from God.

    Steve Jobs, in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, said some timely words about his life and ours.

    "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

  • Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

  • We must serve our communities NOW.
  • We must share our story NOW.
  • We must make disciples to send to the nations NOW.
  • Tomorrow may be too late.

  • You can listen to the podcast here.

    Radical Compassion, 2 October 2011

  • Big Idea: The Gospel demands we sacrifice our lives for the sake of people who do not know Christ.

  • Matthew 9:35-10:42

  • Introduction

  • For the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring our annual theme, Radical. Jesus said

  • …any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

  • I am going to make some huge assumptions—that you’ve encountered Jesus Christ, experienced His presence and power and love and forgiveness, and you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You believe the Bible to be true and are committed to following it, including the radical teachings of Jesus.

  • In a word, we are to die! I know that doesn’t tickle any ears, but I want you to understand what is at stake.

  • Our world needs us. Seriously. Let me rephrase that: our world needs Jesus! There’s just one problem—He isn’t here. In case you didn’t notice, about two thousand years ago He passed the baton to us. We’re it. We’re His ambassadors. We’re His representatives. There is no plan B. Look around the room. We’re it! Say to the person next to you, “We’re it!”

  • There are two ingredients of Radical Compassion:
    - Supernatural awareness of the condition of the lost
    - Sacrificial obedience to the commission of Christ.

  • Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)

  • Jesus was interacting in a region of about 3 million people. How did Jesus encounter the people? He saw the crowds. He had compassion on them.

  • There are crowds all around us. Nearly 7 billion people. 1/3 claim to be Christian. That leaves 4.7 billion people.

  • Jesus saw their size, their sin, and their suffering. Do we? We often see sin, judge, and shun.

  • Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (9:37-38)

  • Harvest is used as an image of judgment in places like Isaiah 17:10, 11; Matthew 13 (wheat and tares) and Joel.

  • This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7)

  • If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

  • You cannot follow Christ and receive some words and ignore others. Do we believe Jesus? If so, we need to ask God to open our eyes to see the lost.

  • Do we care?

  • We need God to move us from natural affections to supernatural affections.

  • Jesus didn’t say to pray for those who were lost. Instead he told the disciples to pray for the church.

  • When Jesus looked at the harassed and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the lost would not come to the Father. Instead his concern was that his followers would not go to the lost.

  • Then Jesus sends them out.

  • I pray that God would send out workers in this room to businesses and schools and homes across Washtenaw County and ultimately to the nations. I pray for people to leave Scio…and go to the nations.

  • God delights in answering prayers like this.

  • Jesus says pray and go. We’re not in a position to ask questions and express opinions. We are to obey orders.

  • In this chapter, Jesus is giving specific commands to specific disciples, but the application is universal in different ways.
  • Go To Great Need

  • These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:5-8)
  • “preach,” the Greek word means to to preach, proclaim, tell, often urging acceptance of the message, with warnings of consequences for not doing so.

  • Go to the sick, not the healthy.
  • Go to the dying. Spend time with those near death.
  • Go to the diseased and despised.
  • Go to the demon-possessed.

  • Jesus sends them to the people of greatest need.

  • Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. (Matthew 10:9-10)

  • As you go to the needy, you will have to trust God’s provision.

  • “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (10:11-16)

    Jesus tells them to go to the dangerous.

    What does the shepherd do? He protects sheep from the wolves. Why does the Good Shepherd send the sheep to the wolves?

    Be as foolish as sheep but as smart as snakes. Go without reservation into areas of danger and be wise.

    We do not need the power of God to live comfortable, safe lives.

    “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:21-23)

    The Kingdom of God is divisive.

    When you are persecuted…not if.

  • “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34-36)
  • At this very moment there are men and women around the world choosing between Jesus and their families. I had an acquaintance in college who was a new Christian. He said if he returned to his Muslim family, they would disown him if not kill him. Some of you heard applause when you accepted Jesus but for so many it involves death, socially or literally.

  • You may be hated to the government, by your family, or even by religious people. They will hate us because they hated Jesus, not because we are evil.

  • The danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship and identity with Christ. Don’t follow Jesus if you want an easy life.

  • Persecuted. Betrayed. Hated.

  • USAmericans are among the few that don’t understand this. It’s easy to be a Christian here. We think that the more we mimic and appeal to the world, the better. The more this church becomes like Christ, the more difficult they will get.

  • A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

  • Does that scare you? It scares me!

  • Do we really want to be like Christ?

  • Jesus is saying this is dangerous.

  • “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:26-28)

  • What really matters?

  • Fear God, not man.

  • “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

  • Why is this so hard? There were 3 million people back then and today there are nearly 5 billion people that don’t know Jesus. They don’t see Christ today.

  • What’s best for me? What’s best for my family?

  • We have a Gospel that demands radical compassion.

  • Lose yourself. Lose your life. Die! Then you will live!

  • This message and this series is all about life, satisfaction, joy, and the ultimate reward. It’s not just about you finding Christ, but others, too.

  • “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42)

  • David Platt writes,

  • You know that in the end you are not really giving away anything at all. Instead you are gaining. Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. So with joy—with joy!—you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for. This is the picture of Jesus in the gospel. He is something—someone—worth losing everything for.

  • The reward of the American dream is safety, security, and success found in more comfort, better stuff, and greater prosperity. But the reward of Christ trumps all these things and beckons us to live for an eternal safety, security, and satisfaction that far outweigh everything this world has to offer us.

  • This is more than just storing up treasures in heaven, though it is that, too. It is finding true freedom by letting go of your life and truly letting God take over.

  • The great theologian Jonathan Edwards said

  • I claim no right to myself - no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither do I have any right to this body or its members - no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears, or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him. I have given every power, so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience. I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of my life. I will adhere to the faith of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be. I receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me. This I have done. I pray God, for the sake of others, to look upon this as a self-dedication, and receive me as His own. Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own. I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God, or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business. If I murmur in the least at afflictions; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I revenge my own case; if I do anything purely to please myself, or omit anything because it is a great denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me; or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God's. I purpose to be absolutely His.
  • - Jonathan Edwards, The Works Of Jonathan Edwards

  • You are not your own. If you belong to Jesus, you are to sacrifice everything for the sake of those who don’t know Christ.

  • Prayer. Make us a church that sacrifices everything for the sake of the lost.

  • Note: Many ideas borrowed from David Platt and his book Radical.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Not A Fan, 25 September 2011

  • Big Idea: Jesus is looking for fully-devoted followers, not mere fans.

  • How Much Is Jesus Worth To You?

  • Seriously. We’re starting light this morning! Maybe we should be begin with, “How much are you worth to Jesus?” You know that answer, right? Everything! What more could God do for you?

  • Last week we began our series Radical. We asked the crucial question, “Do you believe the Bible?” As a church, we have concluded that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It is true. It is truth. All of it. I don’t have the final word around here. In fact, if you ever hear me speak something inconsistent with the Bible, PLEASE call me out! I do my best each week with fear and trembling to present God’s Word, but Scio is not about me, it’s about Jesus and His Word.

  • If you haven’t bought into the Bible as truth, you’re still in the right place. We are all at various places in our spiritual journey. I believe after thoroughly testing the Bible you will discover, as I have, that it is historically reliable, theologically sound, logically consistent, and best of all it works. It makes sense. It is relevant and reliable.

  • The Bible is not, however, easy. Last week we looked at Jesus’ challenging words:

  • In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

  • That sounds radical…because it is!

  • Luke 14:25-35

  • Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

  • Jesus was attracting large crowds. Human nature often says that bigger is better. Conventional wisdom says that if you have followers, you want to grow your fan base, right? This is true if you are a musician, an author, or a blogger. “Build your brand,” the so-called experts say.

  • Why were large crowds traveling with Jesus? He was different. His message was fresh. He provide free medical care and sometimes free lunch, too. He was a celebrity.

  • Rather than building his audience, He seemed to do the opposite. He raises the bar and separates the casual observers from the truly committed.

  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

  • Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. That’s a lot different than admit, believe, confess, and repeat this prayer!

  • Some of us bought into a lie. We were told that all we need to do is pray a magic prayer, feel good about heaven after you die, and just live like everyone else. Jesus is a free gift to accept and enjoy. It won’t cost you anything.

  • That’s a lie! Jesus is saying that following Him will cost you everything—but it will be worth it. You cost Him everything! Think about it.

  • This verse does not, of course, mean that we are to hate—ourselves or anyone. God cannot contradict Himself so when He says to love one another and love our neighbors He’s not making hate an option. Our love and commitment to Jesus should make all of our other desires and affections look like hate in comparison. One’s loyalty to Jesus must come before loyalty to family or even life itself.

  • I have a good friend who regularly leaves his family to travel the world as a foreign missionary for weeks and even months at a time. I once asked him if he was neglecting his family and he replied, “Soldiers leave their family to serve and fight. I’m a soldier engaged in spiritual warfare, a battle of even greater consequence.” I was deeply humbled by his response.

  • The expression “carry his cross” is foreign to our culture, but obviously to carry one’s cross meant to prepare to die. It was a public act that declared that the Roman Empire was correct in their death sentence. Carrying our cross is a public display for others that Jesus was correct.

  • Some of you may remember the classic line in the film The Princess Bride.

  • Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

  • In a much more serious way, Jesus is telling his audience that if you want to follow Him, you must prepare to die. This was NOT a metaphor. Many of His followers then and now have died as martyrs. In fact, all but one of His twelve disciples were martyrs…and John was boiled alive!

  • Are you prepared to die? It’s easy to be a Christian in our culture. We are blessed with tremendous freedom and liberty. Although many signs point to our faith being in decline, I doubt any of your lives have ever been in jeopardy while following Jesus in the United States.

  • Of course, the whole point of Jesus’ message is that we must count the cost. He requires total devotion. Jesus can’t just be your homeboy, your buddy, or even your BFF. Kyle Idleman’s recent book and website say it all.

  • Video

  • It’s all or nothing. HE continued…

  • “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

  • If you’ve ever driven to the state of Ohio, you’ve no doubt seen the house along US 23. What was envisioned as a huge, beautiful home sits as an empty, abandoned structure because someone did not count the cost. To quote Jesus, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” Tragic.

  • “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

  • There we see last Sunday’s verse. We cannot be a disciple of Jesus if we do not count the cost and give up everything we have.

  • How many of you have ever played on a sports team of any kind? You likely heard the coach say to give 110%. Of course there is no such thing because you cannot give more than 100%, but this is the root of what Jesus is saying. All in or all out. Give 110% of your heart, soul, mind, strength, hopes, dreams, time, talent, treasures, and relationships or go home.

  • One of my biggest fears is that I put Jesus in a box, I make Him safe, and I keep an arm’s distance away from me. To be honest, sometimes I’m afraid He’ll ask for something I don’t want to surrender so I get real busy, so busy and noisy that I can’t hear His voice.

  • The question is not, “What is God’s will?” but “Will I obey His will?”

  • What if He wants my….

  • Jesus concludes…

  • “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

  • What an image! That’s a description of fans rather than followers. Which are you?

  • “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  • The Benefits

  • You may be thinking, “Why in the world would I surrender everything to Jesus? You don’t understand my life. You don’t know my situation. I don’t want to do anything, uh, radical. Jesus couldn’t have meant everything. What does that leave me?

  • It leaves us with Jesus.

  • To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. – David Platt

  • Before the children's encounter with Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Lewis has Susan, who is always a bit too concerned with her own well-being, ask Mr. Beaver whether Aslan is safe. "'Course he isn't safe," the Beaver replies. "But he's good."

  • The reward of the American dream is safety, security, and success found in more comfort, better stuff, and greater prosperity. But the reward of Christ trumps all these things and beckons us to live for an eternal safety, security, and satisfaction that far outweigh everything this world has to offer us. –David Platt

  • The great songwriter Graham Kendrick wrote in his song Knowing You,

  • All I once held dear, built my life upon,
  • All this world reveres and wars to own;
  • All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
  • Spent and worthless now compared to this.

  • Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
  • There is no greater thing.

    We do not have time to waste our lives living out a Christian spin on the American Dream. – David Platt


  • God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him. –David Platt

  • We have a mission that involves blessing the nations, changing the world. Seriously? If we are willing to radically sacrifice everything for Jesus, there is no limit to what He can accomplish through us.

  • I dream of our baptistery filled with new believers proclaiming their devotion to Jesus.

  • I dream of people being sent from Scio all over the world to bless the nations.

  • I dream of our youth becoming contagious, dangerous, influential Christ-followers.

  • There is no limit to what God can do…if we allow Him. If we open our palms, as we said last week, so that He can take away but also give.

  • Jesus is worth the risk of following Him!

  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

  • Jesus is supremely loving.
  • Jesus is worthy.
  • Jesus is loyal.
  • Jesus is faithful.
  • Jesus is good.
  • Jesus sacrificed everything for you.
  • Jesus is our reward.

  • Next week we’re going to get specific about being radical, but this morning I wanted to give the Holy Spirit one more opportunity to reveal to you your next step. What are you clinging to? What you need to surrender in order to be fully available to God’s work?

  • How much is Jesus worth to you? You are worth everything to Him. Everything. The more radical your sacrifice, the more you will discover that Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience and enjoy.

  • Note: David Platt quotes are from his book Radical.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Here’s a bonus:

  • Followers vs Fans
  • from Brad Lomenick by bradlomenick

    Follower vs. Fan.Is there a difference?
    1. Followers are committed. Fans can be fickle.
    2. Followers trust their leader. Fans trust in their leader only when it benefits them.
    3. Followers want a vision. Fans want a show.
    4. Followers ask “what have i done for you?” lately. Fans ask “what have you done for me lately?”
    5. Followers are in for the long term. Fans are in for the short term.
    6. Followers have an intrinsic connection; it’s not about wearing a t-shirt. Fans have an extrinsic connection; it’s ALL about wearing a t-shirt.
    Are you a follower or a fan?

    A Radical Command, 18 September 2011

  • Big Idea: Jesus demands everything—and He can be trusted.

  • The Bible

  • When I was a young boy, we used to sing this song called The B-I-B-L-E. The lyrics were, “The B-I-B-L-E/Yes that’s the book for me/I stand alone on the Word of God/The B-I-B-L-E.”

  • One of the core values of our tribe, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, states

  • Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. Joshua 1:8

  • Do you believe this book? It’s so much more than just pages of stories or wisdom. It is God’s precious Word. It is our guide for life. As some have said, it is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

  • For thousands of years people have been studying the Bible, seeking to know, understand and apply it. As Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel following Moses’ death, God told him

  • Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

  • Did you catch that? It is a command with a promise. I don’t know about you but I don’t like random rules. I want to know why! God promised Joshua prosperity and success if he read and obeyed the written Word.

  • So again I ask do you believe this book? Maybe you’re still not sure it’s trustworthy. After all, it’s thousands of years old and surely it’s been changed over time, right? The science of textual criticism evaluates manuscripts based upon their written date, the time span from the earliest copies, and the number of copies. No ancient book is even close to the Bible in terms of its preservation and authenticity.

  • The Bible is true. It can be trusted. There is nothing like it on the planet. Don’t take my word for it, though. Billions of people for generations have not only studied and obeyed it, many have given their lives to preserve and share it.

  • The All-Important Question is do we believe this Book?

  • If the answer is yes, the next several weeks will be challenging. See if you don’t believe it, you can ignore what it says and comfortably enjoy our weekly family reunions together. Belief, however, demands action.

  • A few weeks ago I told the story of the Great Blondin - the man who invented the high wire act. He crossed Niagara Falls again and again; blindfolded, carrying a stove, in chains, and on a bicycle. Just as he was about to begin yet another crossing— this time pushing a wheelbarrow—he turned to the crowd and shouted, "Who trusts that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow?" Every hand in the crowd went up. Blondin pointed at one man:

  • "Do you trust that I can do it?" he asked.
  • "Yes, I trust you can." said the man.
  • "Are you certain that you trust me?" said Blondin.
  • "Yes" said the man.
  • "Absolute trust? Absolutely certain?"
  • "Yes, absolute trust, with absolute certainty."
  • "Thank you," said Blondin, "please get into the wheelbarrow."

  • True faith requires action.

  • Do we believe this book? Do we believe what it says about the church? The cross? Mission? Decisions? The lost? The poor?

  • Our passage for this morning is very short. Jesus said to His followers

  • In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

  • You can look at the original Greek, examine the context, and do whatever you want to twist it, but you can’t really change the message: following Jesus requires giving up everything. No buts. No excuses.

  • That’s radical! He demands total devotion.

  • My wife demands total devotion. An occasional affair is unacceptable! Should God demand any less?

  • David Platt notes

  • Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples—“Follow me”—contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them. He was calling them to abandon their careers. They were reorienting their entire life’s work around discipleship to Jesus. Their plans and dreams were now being swallowed up in his. Jesus was calling them to abandon their possessions. “Drop your nets and your trades as successful fishermen,” he was saying in effect. Jesus was calling them to abandon their family and their friends. When James and John left their father, we see Jesus’ words in Luke 14 coming alive. Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation.

  • When we gather in our comfortable church building to worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.

  • Video

  • Is it all about you? When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die…so he can truly live.

  • Francis Chan illustrated this idea of comfortable Christianity like this. He said, If I ask my daughter to do something (“Rach, clean your room”), I am not satisfied if she come back later and says that she has memorized what I said, or that she got her friends together to discuss what my request means or what it would look like if she cleaned her room, or that she made a poster or needlepoint with my command on it.” Commands are to be obeyed.

  • John Stumbo of the Alliance writes,

  • Have you wondered why the Church in places like China and Vietnam has grown rapidly and vibrantly, even in the face of terrible persecution, while many churches in America struggle just to maintain the status quo? In China and Vietnam believers have few resources and even fewer trained pastors. Most congregations have no facilities, and members often are persecuted by hostile government officials. There are not even enough Bibles for every Christian. Yet the Church moves triumphantly forward.

  • In the West it is a different story. We do not lack resources. There are millions of dollars available to build spacious buildings and to fund evangelism and discipleship training. Bible colleges and seminaries train thousands of students every year, and many congregations have two or more well- trained pastors. There is no dearth of Christian literature, and every Christian home contains not one, but many, Bibles.

  • I am firmly convinced that the reason for our spiritual impotence in the midst of material affluence is simple. We have been discipled toward knowledge, believing that a mature Christian is one who knows a lot about Christ and the Bible. Christians in places like China and Vietnam have been discipled toward obedience. In their paradigm, a mature Christian is one who obeys all that he or she has learned of God’s Word and of Christ.

  • Are you pursuing the American Dream of Jesus’ dream for your life?

  • What do you have?
  • Do you really have it?
  • Does it have you?

  • Pearls

  • This is a very heavy message. Who wants to give up everything? It all begins with our understanding of God. He is not out to ruin your life, but instead He wants you to experience the most abundant, exciting, joy-filled life imaginable. Really.

  • The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

  • "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

  • As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. James if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

  • Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere - Sunday School, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

  • Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

  • "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

  • "Then give me your pearls." "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess - the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

  • "That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night."

  • And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

  • "Daddy, you know I love you."

  • "Then give me your pearls." "Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

  • "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

  • A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

  • Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

  • With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

  • Jenny's father is like our heavenly Father. He also is waiting for us to give up our dime store stuff and seek Him first ... so He can fling open the windows of Heaven and pour us out such a blessing that we will not have room enough to hold it.

  • Next week we’ll look at the context of this radical verse and see that Jesus literally wants us to give up everything.

  • Treasures
  • Time
  • Talents
  • Future
  • Relationships

  • What do you most fear right now? What can’t you surrender? There’s a good chance that it is an idol in your life. God wants it, not because He wants to rob you of your joy, but so that He can BE your joy.

  • Take My Life

  • The word “consecrate” means to solemnly dedicate to God or sanctify.

  • Frances Havergal, at age 36, received a book called, "All for Jesus", which stresses the importance of making Christ Lord over every dimension of one's life. On Advent Sunday, Dec. 2, 1873, she saw the blessedness of consecration and made a full surrender of her all to Christ. Not long after she was visiting ten people in a house, of which she writes: "I went for a little visit of five days (to Areley House.) There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted, but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, 'Lord, give me all in this house!' And He did just that. Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying; then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced; it was nearly midnight. I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished wit h'Ever, Only ALL for Thee!'" (Havergal Manuscripts)

  • Chris Tomlin said of the hymn “Take My Life,” “This hymn sums up what we all want to say to God: Take everything about me…take all I am and all I own—it’s yours Lord. Louie and I penned these simple four lines of refrain to amplify what we felt the writer was wanting to communicate, and to give us the chance to step back from the numerous lines of the song and voice our all to the Father.”

  • As we sing, I want to challenge you with two things. First, I invite you to lift your open hands in front of you, offering everything to God. Second, pour out your heart to God. Tell Him your hopes and dreams. He’s not out to get you. He’s out to bless you, but when we are clinging to what we have, there’s no way He can give us anything. When we surrender, we lose, but we also gain. Like baptism last week, we must die in order to be resurrected. He gives and takes away.

  • Conclusion

  • This week I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you whatever is holding you back from being completely surrendered to Jesus, a fully-devoted disciple.

  • I also challenge you this week to get into the Word. Read through the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

  • Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

  • We all want to prosper and be successful. Let’s get into the Word and discover all that He has for us.
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