We are all looking for meaning in life, for something to hold on to. God isn't bothered that we seek after pleasure and purpose, but He does care when we seek it wherever we can get it. God wants us to worship Him by being in relationship with Him, and He created us for that purpose.
Living Life on Purpose - Week 5
Living Life on Purpose - Week 4
Living Life on Purpose - Week 3
Living Life on Purpose - Week 2
Living Life on Purpose - Week 1
Take a look at this little video. It's actually a commercial that you might've seen on TV before. It's a FedEx commercial. They're kind of making fun of what it is that this one guy's life was all about. Then we'll pick it up from there. Just watch this short little clip.
Male 1: Come on. I need an answer.
Male 2: If you're shipping internationally, you have to use FedEx.
Male 1: Brilliant, Al. You're a real lifesaver.
Male 2: So then I said, "If you're shipping internationally, you have to use FedEx."
Female 1: You're so smart.
Male 2: So I tell these guys, "If you're shipping internationally, you have to use FedEx."
Male 2: These guys have nothing, so I say, "You ship internationally, you have to use FedEx." That's what I told them.
Male 4: I think we all remember the time when Al here said…
Announcer: If you're shipping internationally, you have to use FedEx.
[End of Video]
The reason I show you that is that whole little commercial, that whole little scene, was written about the way they wanted you to know if you're going to ship internationally, ship FedEx. The advertising agency that made that would be very thrilled that we had that pounded into our head again this morning.
The point is what they showed in that is this became the defining moment in this guy's life. He was in this meeting, and the guy said, "Come on. I need an answer. What are we going to do to improve business?" And, "Well, if you're going to ship internationally, ship FedEx." The guy said it almost offhand, and it became that which gave him meaning and purpose and greatness and value throughout the rest of his life, where he talked about it to get a woman to marry him, where he was talking about it even when his child was born, where it talked about it when he was at the old folks' home, and they talked about it when he was buried.
They use humor like, "Wouldn't it be sad, wouldn't it be awful if that's ultimately what your life is defined by? That in one meeting at one time, you came to the right answer that made the man go, 'Yes, thank you so much. Great insight." This guy really felt like, "Wow, that was a great way to live my life. I could talk about that the rest of my life. I was the guy who came through with that statement."
FedEx is poking fun at the fact that we all want more meaning than being the guy who ultimately says, "I know what it is that should help us save some cash the way we ship internationally. They know we are wired and we are built to have, ultimately, a great yearning for… As we said last week, man is a stubborn seeker after meaning, and FedEx folks know that if all you understand about life and what gives you meaning is knowing how to ship internationally, you've lived a pretty sad life.
Yet, what they're trying to do is say, "You want to get ahead in business? This is not a bad thing to remember because it'll help you do good in industry." I'll tell you what. Even if you make that comment, and you work your way up from the mailroom to become CEO of that company and that's all your life is about, I think FedEx would say, "That's probably a sad way to make meaning out of your life.
It reminds me of one of my favorite stories. I use it a lot of times when I'm talking to parents specifically about their kids. You probably have heard it before. Just humor me if you haven't. I'll make it quick. It's about a small group of guys who are an airplane flying along. There's a pilot, there's a Boy Scout, there's a man who had a long relationship with the Lord in ministry, and there's the world's smartest man.
All of sudden, there's a little sputtering, and the pilot walks back and says, 'Guys, I have some terrible news. This plane is about to go down." They got worse news on top of that. "There are only three parachutes. I strapped one on because I was the first to be aware of our coming problem and impending doom. I have three kids and a wife. I can't really hang around to figure out with the other two, but I'm gone," and out of the plane he goes.
Right away, the smartest man in the world stands up and starts to up on this other parachute. He looks this at pastor, he looks at this young man, and he says, "Let me just tell you something. I am on the brink of figuring out this whole cancer deal. I've been working with world economists to get rid of poverty in third-world countries. There's way too much in this brain for me to go down right now. We're too close to too many things, so I can't stay on this plane. I'm going to take this thing," and out he goes.
With that, the guy who loved the Lord and served in ministry for a while looked at this young boy and says, "Son, I've lived a long, fruitful life. I'm satisfied with what I've done, and even more importantly, I am confident and secure in what will happen when this plane impacts the ground. I want you to take this last backpack. I want you to remember my offer of sacrificial love for you, and what that's a picture and illustration of. You take this last parachute, son. You jump out of this plane. You live a long and fruitful and faithful life."
The Boy Scout was kind of doing this the whole time the pastor was talking. The pastor goes, "What are you doing that for?" He goes, "Well, that's really not necessary, because the smartest man in the world just jumped out of this plane with my knapsack." When I hear that story, it makes me laugh because I think about how many times kids, specifically, are looking for meaning in life, and they're looking for something to hold onto.
They're trying to grab onto things that will allow them to float through the awkward adolescent years, their young adulthood as they move into manhood, as they try and find meaning, significance, value, and dignity in life. They're grabbing onto things a lot of times that they think will make them valuable, that they think will make life worth living. A lot of them are grabbing knapsacks when they think they're grabbing parachutes.
The thing about that is I'm not talking today about why we need to invest deeply into our high school, in college age and junior high age young men who are around it. I'm talking to y'all because it wasn't that long ago when we were right there. Some of us have impacted a few times with parachutes that didn't open and deploy the way we thought they would, or we're sinking at a rate that we didn't think that this choice that would give us life, that would keep us afloat from this crash into meaninglessness…
We get a little further in our journey, and we start to go, "Have I grabbed a knapsack, or have I grabbed something that will give me life? I mean ultimate, real life." That's ultimately what we're talking about in these five weeks that are here today. We're trying to offer to you is a parachute, not a knapsack. Not something you think will give you meaning and life and dignity and purpose, but something that is tested and sure.
I want you to know, and we are desperate for you to understand that we think God has no problem with our longing for that. In fact, there's our very first blank this morning. Just as a reminder, if you weren't able to be with us last week, the thing we gave out last week is available to you on the web. You can go and the actual filed out sheet we had you can get right through our website. It's just watermarkcommunity.org. You can go right there, you'll see the Men's Breakfast handout, and you can go from there.
Just starting today, I want you to know this. God isn't bothered that we seek after purpose and/or pleasure. This is really a pretty significant deal. So many of us have a view that God, especially on the second one… We might know that God wants us to live for an ultimate purpose, but we're not really sure that God wants us to enjoy the purpose that he wants us to live for.
In fact, we have this idea that unless you really suffer, unless you pray 10 hours a days on some hard wooden floor, leave comfort, move to some small village in Africa and live in a hut and identify with people who don't speak the language you speak, you don't really love God, and that's the ultimate purpose in life.
That is a way too narrow view, a skewed, perverted view of one way that you can find what your purpose might be. See, the Lord doesn't begrudge us at all that we are looking for meaning. He doesn't begrudge us that we're looking for purpose, and he doesn't begrudge us that we long for pleasure. But, as I've written down right there, he does care that we seek it where we can get it.
That's Psalm 16:11. It's just a simple psalm that says, "In his left hand is every good thing. In his right hand are pleasures forever." Where God is is every good thing and our pleasures forever. That little reference there, the other one you can go look at later if you so desire is Psalm 106. It talks about a group of people who God has been initiating with and reaching out to. He was trying to show them, "This is what I want to call you into a relationship with me for. To give you meaning and purpose, to reveal myself to you, to let you be a light to the nations."
It says that they forgot who this God was. It says that they turned away from him in the wilderness, and they craved after other things. It says that after a while when they kept wanting some other things (this is what is so great about God), the Lord allowed them and gave them the desires of their heart. But then in verse 15 of that Psalm 106, as you went back and looked, it says, "But he sent leanness to their souls."
In other words, he says, "If that's the parachute you want to grab, which is something other than a trust/faith relationship with me, you take it, you go, and you leap. But I'm going to love you enough to experience the consequence of your choice." What we're going to talk about today…the way I'm going to start, and I'm going to end up with that very idea.
God loves you enough to let you choose what it is it's going to give you meaning in life, what's going to allow you land safely at the end of this journey in a way that you want to land with a ride that was pleasant and not horrifying, not with this awful sense of dread. I will just tell you, if you jump out of a plane without a parachute, you can have a good time for a significant amount of time.
One of the things I did, like many guys in this room I'm sure, enjoyed it…thought about that being a good idea and being a lot of fun. I've done that. I've done an accelerated freefall class where I got to jump out of a plane from some 14,000 feet. For about 60 to 90 seconds to just have a good free fall, just come flying down there like that. It's a lot of fun. But I can assure you, I was glad when that adrenaline rush was over and I could find out that I was also going to land now rather safely so I could continue to live life a different way.
What I would tell you is that you can find momentary success and have a pretty good ride without God. You can do it. But you're not going to have a sustained pleasurable ride without what we're talking about today. Let's jump ahead.
Here's what I want you to know. The Scriptures and what God is trying to do in calling us into this relationship that we started talking about last week is that he wants us to experience life. He wants us to experience a quality of life that we're not going to get any other way than in living in the context of how he created us and how he designed us to experience life.
In fact, there's a great little section of Scripture. It's one of my favorite metaphors in this book that God has used to explain to us how we're designed and how he wants to live in relationship with us. He talks to a group of people who lived in a rather arid region where water supply was a very valuable thing.
What he used to do to get to their water supply is they would sometimes dig holes in the ground. They were called cisterns. They would plaster them sometimes with the most solid stuff that they could find, but just pack down plaster of some kind in this hole they dug in the ground. They would hope that it would rain, and water would come trickling down off that mountain over the mountain goat feces and everything else. "We just want water to come down here, and make its way into our little cistern, so we could have some water."
God says in this little illustration, "What have you done? You have forsaken me, this one who has called you into relationship. You've forsaken me, the fountain of living waters," which when you're in an arid desert region, the most valuable thing you could have, the most necessary thing for life is a continual freshwater source.
He said, "You have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and you've hewed for yourself cisterns." He said this. "Instead of having fresh spring water, you take what comes running down off the mountain during a rain, and you hope it gets into this little basin, so you have a water supply. Worse than that, you've hewed for yourself cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water. You don't want to trust in me. Come drink where I am.
So you make your own water supply system, and what you find out is it's not as good as mine to begin with, and secondly, it's broken. It's not reliable. You can go to bed, there might be six inches it. You wake up in the morning, but because there's a crack in that cistern, you go to draw water out, and you find yourself thirstier than you wanted to be."
God says, "Has there anything been like this before? Why would anybody do this? It doesn't make sense?" The reason we do that as men isn't because we are stubborn seekers after meaning, it's because we are stubborn, and because we have a hard time trusting that anybody really has our best interests in mind.
What I want to share again today is that God has our best interests in mind, and he goes to no small effort to prove that. God does not begrudge us for longing after purpose. He doesn't even begrudge us for longing after pleasure. In fact, because we're made in the image of God, we're designed to experience pleasure. The Scripture talks about how God delights, God loves, God enjoys, God laughs.
This is your next little blank right there if you choose to fill it in. God will never let us meet a legitimate need that he's created us and designed us for in an illegitimate way. The next blank is kind of like it. I just want to say it a different way. He (meaning God) will never let us meet a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way.
Again, there will be momentary successes, but there will not be sustained joy in meeting this God-given desire. You'll find, "I'm satisfied right now. I'm not wanting. I'm not lacking." But when you get alone in the quietness of your world, and you sit still, apart from a deep and abiding relationship with your Creator, there's always going to be that voice saying, "You're really not happy. You really don't have enough. You're really not as secure as you think you are, and you know it."
What a lot of us do is we suppress that and busy ourselves with some other form of activity or believe it's just because we haven't gotten where we need to get yet so we can quiet that voice. Or we medicate ourselves out of having to deal with that reality. What God is saying all the time is this. "There's another option. That is to deal with that reality, know that those desires that I've given you are to train you towards truth, not to drive you deeper into rebellion against me."
This time of year, with the Super Bowl coming up and all that, I think about different stories. In Dallas, with a group of men this median age, a lot of us remember certainly the Super Bowls of the 90s. Many guys in this room remember the first Super Bowls that Dallas teams went through. We think about guys like Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters are now celebs who are old guard who have written new books that have come out.
One of the stories that Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters tell is that after they had won their very first Super Bowl, they were in the locker room, and they looked at each other and said, "I hate to admit it, but this is kind of depressing." Most of us hear that, and we go, "How can that be depressing? They just won their first Super Bowl?"
The game is over. The challenge is over. They looked at each other, and they said, "Is this all there is? It's a little depressing. Now, we've gotten to the top of the mountain, and there's no other mountain to climb. Our meaning and purpose were coming through the way we were going to climb this mountain. We just reached the pinnacle of heights that men can climb."
Guys who have been to the top of Everest will tell you the same thing. "Is it a rush? It is a great accomplishment? Yeah. But now that I'm one of the few men who've been to the top of this mountain, okay, but my life still might lack some meaning and purpose." So there are momentary successes, but not that sustained joy.
This is a classic illustration of this. Those of you guys who get Sports Illustrated and are fans of Rick Reilly, who writes that last little page… He wrote a great little story not long ago on one little guy that not long ago was the darling of the NFL. I'm talking about Kurt Warner. I can remember when the Rams came through right after they won the Super Bowl. They played a game at Texas Stadium, and I went out and did the chapel for the Rams.
I will tell you of all the pro teams or college teams that I've had the chance to spend some time with, there was something different about that group of men. There was a real depth and integrity to that chapel service with that group of professional athletes. There were many of them who were at the pinnacle of their career success.
Warner was there. He was one of the most humble among them. In fact, he was one the first guys in the room, and we had a little conversation. You couldn't tell at all that this guy was just the Super Bowl MVP, the league MVP. The coach, Martz, came in. It was actually his first season. Vermeil had retired, and Martz was there. Again, a very humble guy, if not undiscerning about when to kick and when to go for it, but a nice guy.
There was a difference about that team. Each guy that came in, from the lineman right on through the defensive backs, had a depth to them and kindness to them and a strength to them. They were the darlings of the NFL at the time. This is was Rick Reilly writes right now.
He said, "Sports stink. Sports can be crueler than a bald man's winning free blow-dries for life." Some of you guys can understand that more than others, I'm sure. "Sports will lift you up in front of the whole assembly, crown you king, and then give you a wedgie. Take the case of Kurt Warner. Two years ago nobody in sports sizzled more than the St. Louis Rams' quarterback. He was Elvis in a chin strap. […] He could throw a spiral through a cuff-link hole. He won two MVPs. He won a Super Bowl, and two years later he nearly won another.
He remains the highest-rated career passer in NFL history. He hung with Leno and Letterman. He wrote a book. He got his own segments on two TV shows in St. Louis. Destiny kissed [Kurt Warner] at every turn. Then, for no damn reason, destiny decided to ralph all over him. After two years of hand and shoulder injuries, plus his third concussion, he appears to have literally lost his grip.
In the season-opening loss to New York Giants he fumbled six times and lost his eighth straight start. He hasn't played since. The spirals that came off his hand like spun gold two years earlier suddenly seemed to come off like frozen hams. Now, he's the backup to Marc Bulger. […] He spends his weekdays as the world's only $9-million-a-year scout teamer. […]
Once the cool couple in the NFL, Kurt and his wife, Brenda, are getting scratched like instant lottery cards. […] 'For three years,' Kurt says, 'everybody wanted my wife to come here, come there, come speak to their groups. Everybody wanted the inside scoop on the Warners. Now, there's this: 'Well, he's not playing well. What do we need her for?'
What curdles his milk is his belief that he can still be the best quarterback in the league. 'I know I can still play in this game as well as anybody ever,' he says. Why, then, did he do what he did three weeks ago during a game in Chicago? St. Louis coach Mike Martz saw Bulger drowning against the Bears, so he turned to Warner and asked, 'You ready to go in?' But instead of clamping on his helmet and warming up, Warner said, "Coach, to be honest with, I don't think that would be the fairest thing to do to Marc. He deserves a chance to fight through it.' So Martz stayed with Bulger, who came back to win that game."
It talks then about why he did that, and then it goes on to say, "Even if Warner has lost the mojo as fast as it came, if the salad days are wilted [for Kurt], let it be said that he's never changed—biggie or bagger, celebrity or calamity. Never changed his values or his manners. In fact, for this piece, he returned my phone call within 20 minutes. 'It's Kurt Warner,' he told my answering service. 'Kirk Warren,' the operator said. 'No, Warner. Kurt Warner.' 'Hold on, Mr. Warren.'"
"Sports is heartless," is the way Reilly ends that article. Is it troublesome? I'm sure it is to a guy like Kurt Warner, who's a competitor, not being able to be out there competing where he thinks he can compete. Yes. But it's the guy who, at least by the testimony of Reilly and from the short interaction that I've had, I can tell had a purpose and meaning in life that surpassed being able to throw golden spun spirals and being the darling of the NFL.
There are a strength and depth there that's going to get this guy through even when the parachute that is success in the public eye quits opening. There's a different parachute that this guy lives under. Is it wrong to drive and to try and succeed and win? Absolutely not. But to make that your parachute, to try and have a legitimate need for meaning and purpose and greatness, to meet that legitimate need in an illegitimate way, God will never let us get away with it. He'll always leave that haunting ask. "Are you sure?"
"God loves you," my next little blank says there, and he wants you to experience life, and he wants you to experience it abundantly. Let me just tell you what it says in the Scripture about this God who's calling you out and saying, "Listen. If you come into relationship with me…" In fact, if you flip it over, you'll see that little Psalm 23 at the very top. This talks about when God shepherds somebody through life.
It says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows." That which I need for life, I'm not lacking. It's overflowing, the life that I need. Not just a partial amount, but everything I need to satisfy me is coming right there in my life. That's what Jesus said.
It says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…" To steal ultimate peace in your life, to kill your self-respect, to destroy your sense of hope. "…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." God wants us to have life. God wants us to experience a purpose and meaning and a strength and passion for life that is consistent with who he created us to be.
Now, skip that next blank. I'm going to come to it secondly. I'm going to make this observation right there. "However, to be separated from him…" Do you see where it says that? "To be separated," is the blank. "…is to be separated from life." That doesn't mean, again, that there are not momentary successes, but there's not that sustaining life.
It's like being really thirsty, and you grab yourself a Coke, and you get that drink, and it just tastes so good. It does, for a second, satisfy that thirst. But when you drink sugar water, what happens? You become only thirstier still. It's like being in the middle of an ocean surrounded by water and options, right?
Those of us who are familiar with that kind of scenario and story, what do you die from when you drink salt water? You die from dehydration. It's just a cruel irony that the salt in there makes you crave for the real water that will give nourishment to the body that God designed in you. Even though you're surrounded by an ocean of options, if you don't have the life that you were created, the water that was created to give you life, you can drink all day long, and what you will die from is the thirst you seek to satisfy apart from that which God destines you to need.
This is really what goes on in the garden. Early in this book, where God is revealing his love for humankind, his love for man, and his desire for man to have a full life is he said, "Look, I'm going to call you into relationship with me. I'm going to put you in a place," and he describes it as a garden. The garden is a place that is bountiful, with every position, every need that is met. We call it Paradise.
He said, "You can stay here in Paradise where I am, in my home, in and my boat, with you on this earth, as long as you trust and believe that relationship with me is what gives you the significance and provision." God, right away, called men to a faith relationship with him. He said, "I'm not going to make you love me. I'm not going to make you trust me. But I'm going to tell you this is good. It's very good, in fact, to use my own words.
There's one thing I don't want you to do right here. You don't need it. It's not going to make this a better place. In fact, it's the one thing that will drive you out of this place. I'm going to call you to trust me and have faith in me and to believe in me and believe my word. Don't eat of this one particular tree."
What happened, as we know that the Liar, the Deceiver, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, showed up and said, "You don't have life. This isn't as good as it can get. In fact, why would you want to, man, limit yourself to life the way that God who created you says you should find meaning in life? You need this to have meaning in life. Don't trust God's word. You need to eat of the tree of knowledge so you can yourself know the difference between good and evil, so you can decide for yourself what you want."
What we were not told is that in knowing now the difference between good and evil because we are not like God, innately good, when we can choose between good and evil, we will not choose that which is good. God knows no error; he knows no darkness; he knows no sin. There is no corruption in him. That's not true with you and me. You give you and me the opportunity to choose between good and evil, we're not going to always choose good. God will.
What happened in the garden is when man said, "I'm not going to trust God. I'm not going to live by faith and believe in him. I'm going to find meaning and significance. I'm going to decide what I want with my own life…" What happened is we lost that life that God called us into. You were driven. Don't think of being driven out of a garden in the sense that you're being driven out of a place where there's a bunch of flower shows. As guys, we go, "What's the big deal about that? Give me the wilderness. Give me adventure. Give me the seas."
No. In the metaphor, in that picture…It's more than that; it's a historical event…of leaving the garden, to be thrown out of a place of provision and have to fight for that which God wanted to provide for us, we started to lose life. In fact, the judgment was death. "When you separate yourself from me, you will not have what I alone can provide."
That's a little reference to John 17:3. "This is life, to know God, to know Jesus Christ. Apart from him, you will have momentary feelings and illusions of life, but you're not going to have the life that you were created to experience." That's all that says right there.
What God says is this. "Those of you who have understood that the God who created the garden, the God who created you is a God who makes provision for you to come back into relationship with him until that day he restores this to a paradise. When you know that, that God will be most glorified in you who know that, when you live as if you're most satisfied in him.
In other words, you ought to go out and compete like crazy to be the starting quarterback on whatever football team or whatever metaphor that represents in your life. You ought to seek to be whatever it is that you think you want to be in your profession, in your community. You ought to, as you seek to fully use your skills and potential, whether it's athletic or intellectual or whatever it might be, God says, "You do your best, but if your get handed a bad deal or something happens where all of a sudden you're not throwing those golden spirals, don't cave. That's not ultimately what your life is about.
It delights God and glorifies God when we use our skills, and that if it puts us on a national stage, that's great. But we should not say, "I'm only significant and as meaningful as what I can do in terms of the world saying I'm great." So go ahead and work your best. There's nothing wrong with prosperity through hard work. There's a responsibility with how you steward that prosperity in light of who this God is and the gifts that you've been given.
At the end of the day, God says, "You run hard after those things on this earth, but don't think that makes you essentially great. You make sure whatever you do…" I think Kurt Warner is having a chance to live this out right now. "…you show that you're satisfied in me, Kurt. That you're not satisfied in me because I have you throwing golden spirals through cuff links."
All of us, as men, can say, "I love you, Lord, whether or not there's fruit on the vine. But when those times come, when the health isn't there, when the business isn't turning over like we want, when relationships are tough, if your life squelches in joy like those who don't know God, then you have to really go back and evaluate what it is that makes you satisfied. Is it the God who was in the garden?"
Repentance, men, then is simply this. One of the things we're going to call and ask some of you guys to consider is to repent of that which you have grabbed thinking it was a parachute, but it wasn't a parachute that God designed. It was a knapsack. To repent of this idea that your cistern is where you can get your thirst quenched.
All repentance is (that's the blank right there) is letting go of something that feels life-giving. That's the best definition I can tell you of repentance. When God calls you to repent, what he's saying is this. "Trust me again. I know you think you're going to find life separate and apart from me, but I'm asking you to reconsider that."
One guy said this a long time ago. He said, "Sin is where we take a perfectly natural loving ambition and we desperately try to fill it without God." God says, "Turn from that, man. Come back. Work hard. Do all you can in industry and life, but know that your meaning and significance… Don't try to do it without me. No matter what kind of success you experience in this world, it is fleeting at best."
I have a little question down there for you. It just simply says this. Something to chew on this week. "Since God knows what it is best and has your best interest in mind…" He wants you to have ultimate purpose. He wants you to experience true pleasure. "…what do you need to let go of that feels life-giving to you? Where can I glorify God more by showing satisfaction only in him?"
Let me go back up and fill that one little blank that I missed. This now gets to the heart of some of the application of today and what you're going to be reading this next week. That is simply this. God wants you to worship him, and he created you for that purpose. Now, before that bores you to death, I want you to look down underneath that second application where it says, "God seeks." The blank up top was, "God wants you to worship him, and he created you for that purpose." You go, "What do you mean? Why would he call me for the purpose to worship?"
Don't think worship the way you have been programmed to think of worship. I'm going to tell you why God created you to be a worshiper. Here we go. That blank is this. "God seeks worshipers for the same reason that God seeks the lost." Why does God seek the lost? Because he wants those who are lost to find their way. He wants those who are not in the midst of experiencing life to find their life in him.
When it says that God created you to worship him, and he created you specifically for that purpose, what he means is that God created you to be in relationship with him, the author and giver of life. To separate yourself from that is a slow death in terms of meaning, purpose, satisfaction, and peace, and ultimately a greater death.
Let me just explain this idea of worship to you. We go up now where it says, "If you think…" Do you see that? "If you think Sunday when you think worship, you need to think again." A lot of you guys, when I tell you, "God created you for worship, and he created you specifically for that purpose, and God seeks worshipers," God does not seek guys who will make him feel good by funneling into buildings with crosses on top of them.
When you hear me say worship, if you think, Sunday, I want you to think again. Worship is everything you do all day, every day, constantly. Let me just take that a little deeper. If you think musicwhen you think worship, you need to think again. If you think any form when you think worship, you need to think again.
Did you know there were no rights, no forms, no systems at all in the first several chapters of your Bible, and yet there was worship that was there? It was about relationship and believing that God is all that he said he was, and that we are created to be in relationship with him, and that ultimate joy is being in a relationship with a God who created us and loves us. Don't think music. Don't think forms. Don't think an hour. Think about a relationship with God.
Now, we're going to go in order the rest of the way. If you go back down to underneath where it says, "God seeks worshipers." I'll just tell you this. God doesn't want us to pay a spiritual tax. He wants us to worship in Spirit and truth. What God is looking for, the kind of worshipers that God seeks, the Scripture says… In two different places we find out what God is really wanting.
When you talk about what God wants from you and me, he wants people who worship him and Spirit and truth. That's a reference to that John 4 passage if you want to go back and look at it later on the back of your sheet right there (verses 23 and 24). These are the kind of worshipers who God seeks. Those who worship in spirit, meaning with their heart, their soul, and in truth, who worship God for who he is, not a God that they've created him as. They have a desire to know God as he's revealed himself.
Jesus was asked one time, "What's the greatest commandment?" He said, "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." Isn't it great that God's great commandment fulfills God's greatest desire? Isn't it great that God's, who always has our best interest in mind, greatest desire, which is us to worship him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, meets our greatest need?
There was a time when Moses said to God, "Would you show me your glory?" I think what Moses thought is what most of us would think. We would think, "God, just crack this mountain. Rip this mountain apart. Let the heavens part and lightening come crashing down. Turn me into a newt and turn me back to Moses again." I don't know what he thought. "Show me your greatness."
God said, "I'm going to show you my greatness." The story in Exodus 33, what God did is he said, "Moses, you can't see me in all my glory right now because I haven't given you the grace and provision to be able to do that. But I will give you enough grace to catch this about me. You're about to see my glory." What God showed Moses when he showed him his greatness and his glory is God showed Moses his attributes and his character. You can sum up God's attributes and character in the main two things that everybody on this earth longs for ultimately.
What do you think those two things are? What does everybody on this earth cry out for? "This is a lousy place because we don't have enough love. People don't love each other. No one loves me. There's not enough love in this world." Specifically, we cry out because those who don't love, who are evil and perpetrate harm on others need to have consequence to it. What do folks cry out for? "Where is justice?"
This is what God said to Moses. You want to see who I am? Then I'm going to pass before you, and I'm going to declare who I am." God said, "I'm a God full of lovingkindness, mercy, and truth. I extend my kindness to generations, but I, by no means, will let the guilty unpunished. You want to know my greatness, Moses? In me is the satisfaction for everything you and everybody created like you longs for. In me, is perfect love, and in me is perfect justice. Both of those will both perfectly be accomplished one day."
God doesn't want us as a group of people to pay some spiritual tax. He wants us to worship in Spirit and truth, and he wants us to worship him with all of our heart. Don't think Sunday. Think everything you do. Next blank. "If you want to worship God, stop trying harder and start trusting more."
Let me give you a quick illustration on this. I purposefully left these last few ones to go quickly because they're what I want you to understand. I want you to settle in on these ideas. Watch this. Stop trying harder to worship God. Start trusting him more. That's what worship is. Say, "God, I'm going to trust you in every aspect of the day as I go to find significance, meaning, purpose, and peace in life. As I go to treat other people, I'm going to let you inform how I should do that."
A number of years ago, I took my two oldest girls to a candy store (like a 7-Eleven). We were on a bike ride, and we stopped on this bike ride. We walked in, and I said, "You can have any one thing you want." My oldest little girl at that time (this was a number of years ago) was about 4. The other one was 2.
The 4-year-old walks right in and looks at all this candy (that wall of candy), and she looks up at me, and she says, "Dad, what would you get?" My 2-year-old is looking about 18 inches high, hunched over like this, and she locks in on the first bright package. The first bright package that she locked in on happened to be a Fireball. She put her hand on it, and she had found life.
The 4-year-old knew me better. The 4-year-old had a different amount of revelation about what kind of dad I was, that I wasn't looking to buy the cheapest thing. I was really looking to give them the greatest joy. I introduced Ally to the wonder of tropical flavored Skittles. There's a whole bag of individual pieces of candy that will last you a long time.
I said, "Ally, I think you would really like this, this purple bag of Skittles. Kirby, I think you would really like this if you're asking me." She goes, "I'm not asking you. I have the Fireball. It's right here where I can see it. I don't need what you can see. I don't need your experience. I don't need your perspective. I have the Fireball. Look how bright it is compared to that pale SweetTart in pastel colors. I have the Fireball."
I said to Kirby, "Kirby, I'm going to let you get the Fireball." She's 2. You might go, "If you're a loving dad, you would've intervened right there. Let her cry for a moment, but given her the Sprees, given her the Skittles, and let her be happy." No. I thought this is a great opportunity for her to learn to trust me. I said, "All right, Kirby. That is hot. It tastes no good. This is life. That is a Fireball."
I went up there. I dropped my $0.06 for her Fireball, and my $0.69 for her Skittles, and I put them back there in the back of my bike, and we started riding. Immediately, there was joy and anguish. I have my water bottle, and I'm going, "I can't get it to you now. It's going to be a long ride home. I told you." No, I stopped, and we took care of the Fireball.
I want to walk you through this. So many of us would go, "I don't want your perspective, God. I'm not going to trust you. I know what I can see right here. I don't need any other revelation on the other side. I know where life is. I have my hand on this. Don't tell me it's going to sting my mouth. This thing is wrapped so nice. It looks like it's going to be fine. It looks like it's going to taste good. I even like the daring little flames that are on it because I'm a man."
We put that sucker in our mouth, and it's not long before we go, "Ew." We spit it out. Do you know what we do? We go back to the candy store again. Most of us don't start to do, "Hey, what would you get, Dad?" We grab another piece of candy.
The whole time, God is over here with a pack of Skittles saying, "When you're ready to trust somebody other than you, if you want to experience all of these candies before you settle on the one thing you're built to be satisfied by, you can do that, but you're going to waste a lot of money, a lot of time, and have a lot of pain. Or you can know that I love you. I delight. I want you to have pleasure. I'm giving you the bag of Skittles."
Here's progression right here. What should happen is the older my kids get, the more they should look at me. This is the way it should start. As a young child of faith, they should say, "Dad, what would you do?" Then a little bit later, as they get to know me, they should say, "Dad, tell me why you chose what you chose? Why did you choose the Skittles and not the Fireball."
I start to teach my child now, the moral why, not just the moral what. It's not legalism. It's not just that Skittles are where life is; it's the principle of what is in Skittles as opposed to the principle of what's in a Fireball. I explain to them why this candy would be good. My point is this. Watch this. When you train a child in the way that he should go, you don't just always tell them, "You can eat this candy. You can watch this money. You can drink this stuff. You don't drink that stuff. You don't do this stuff."
What I start to do as they get older is I start to say, "You tell me what you think you should do. What should you choose? Why should you choose it?" The progression should be, "Dad, what should you choose? Dad, tell me why you chose that? Dad, do you think this is a good choice?" Then all of a sudden, because of the love relationship, and they know I've trained them up in a way, and I've never steered them wrong because I have their best interests in mind, I always want them to enjoy themselves, they should start to go, "I'm going to choose this, just like my dad taught me to love this."
See that? That's where I'm at in relationship with God. Those of you who don't understand what it means to worship God, God is not making me eat stuff I don't like. He loves me, and he wants me to trust him. Sometimes, there are some candies that are well wrapped on this earth. I go, "I'd like to taste that." He said, "Todd, it's packaged extremely well, but you don't know that the dead are there. Trust me."
I can either say, "I'm going to go ahead and taste this one. I'm going to go ahead and run after this one for a few years," or I can say, "I'm going to trust my Father." Often now, as we get a little older, we can start to see. We've had a few Fireballs in our mouth. But all it does is it should drive us right back to where he is.
Here we go. I'll just put this down. God doesn't expect you to be perfect or even mature, so we can love you. He loves you, so he wants you to become more perfect and more mature. That's why God has given us his Word. That's why he calls us into relationship with him. He gives us a Bible.
He says, "Become more like me. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you might prove what the will of God is. Read my Word. Understand my Word. Apply my Word. Be more like my Son. Become more perfect and more mature. And don't just know what to do; know why you do it."
Guys ask me all the time, "Todd, do you drink?" They want to know, "What do folks who love God do? Do they drink?" You know what? I'm not going to answer that question for you because it doesn't matter. You have to understand this. It doesn't matter whether I have a beer or not. It doesn't matter if I have a glass of wine or not. What matters is why I would or why I wouldn't.
There are probably some guys in this room who have this perverted, legalistic idea that if they drank a beer that God somehow wouldn't love them more, and the best thing you can do is have a beer. There are some guys in this room who have a beer to an excess, and they need to realize, "I should think about what I'm doing and how it affects other people. I should take my liberty, not for my own sake, but factor in others in the context of that. My family, my kids, those who look to me for influence."
You can drink for the wrong reasons or not drink for the wrong reasons, but as you become more perfect and mature and think like God in all things like that, you begin to have a heart and a life that reflects him. The last blank is simply this. "You are free to choose what you want to worship, but you're not free to choose the consequences of what you choose."
You can grab whatever candy you want off the shelf of life, but you're not free to choose what that's going to do to the inside of your mouth or your stomach when it sits there. What I would tell you guys, some of y'all who are still not sure that this God who wants you to have life… I want to remind you again. He wants you to experience life. If you like what you have, keep doing what you're doing. But if you keep doing what you're doing, I'm going to tell you, you're eventually not going to like what you have.
You might be in the middle of some momentary success, but I'll tell you, it's not going to last unless it is tied to the Lord. What we're going to talk about these next three weeks is what your life would look like if you would choose to begin to go, "Dad, what would you do?" Father who loves me, who has my best interest in mind, who wants me to have pleasure, what would you have me choose? That's what we're going to talk about these next three weeks.
Father, thanks for these men, for the chance that we had to gather, enjoy each other, enjoy good food, and consider you. I pray that you would not let us off easily, dealing with the idea that you have our best interests in mind, that you want us to be worshippers. Not because you want us to file into a church, but because you want us to trust you. Not try harder to please you. To be more diligent to trust you and let you speak into our life, so we might experience life as you wanted, so the garden can seep back in even in the midst of a desert of a world that is polluted by wrong choices.
I pray for the friendships that are here, that they would deepen. If we read the next seven chapters in this book Lord, you'd use them to remind us of what we considered today, and that you'd bring us back here next week, so we can begin to say, "Okay, Lord. As I stand before the candy shelf of life, what would you have me choose?" We could honor you, not by trying to do more things but by trusting you more, and we would know what that is. In Christ's name, amen.
Have a great week.
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