Massinger Celebration of Life
Celebration of Life for Lauren Madeley (Full Celebration)
Watermark Family Prayer: Reconciliation, Unity, and Action
Dee Elliott Celebration of Life
Sherrard Celebration of Life
Celebration of Life for Austin Silva (Message)
Celebration of Life for Austin Silva (Full Celebration)
Jennifer Clouse Memorial Service (Message)
Jennifer Clouse Memorial Service (Full Celebration)
Police Sgt. Michael Smith Funeral
Not very many 17-year-olds can stand up here and have said about them what we've already said about our friend Austin. It's amazing how many people go through their whole life and never leave anything behind that anyone is going to really remember. They've never invested in the eternal, the Word of God and people, who are going to be resurrected either to an everlasting judgment or an everlasting life.
It's an amazing thing and a tragic thing that a 17-year-old could live a fuller and more complete life than most 77-year-olds who have never, ever had somebody say, "That person is the reason I know Christ. That person has built into me what really and ultimately matters." There is another high school student who has died this year who has become rather infamous, probably the most famous high school student to die this year. She's named Hannah Baker.
Hannah Baker is the subject of a book called Thirteen Reasons Why, and I couldn't help but think about the Netflix series and how it swept across our country and caught a lot of people's attention. People have dabbled in it and learned a lot about this little girl, fictitious but representative of so many, who took her life when she was in high school and sent some cassette tapes out to 13 different people and talked about how their life affected hers and ultimately led to her decision.
As I was walking away from Austin's grave on Tuesday and thinking about our time together here, I just said, "You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to take 13 reasons why you ought to be like Austin Silva." You're going to find out really quickly this isn't about Austin Silva. As we talked as a group of family and friends before we came in here, we said that today is not about memorializing, lifting up, celebrating Austin.
This is really about celebrating Austin's Savior. It's what made Austin worth celebrating. Austin, in the very last words he wrote on earth, just minutes before God began to move him toward him, said, "Lord, I want to show others the kindness and the grace that you have shown me." I know what Austin would want to do if he was here, so here are 13 reasons why you ought to learn from this 17-year-old.
1._ Because your story is going to end just like his did, and the time to prepare for it is right now_. I don't know if you know it or not, but there have been 108 billion people who have lived on earth, and the statistics for death are overwhelming. It's been pretty successful in affecting every single person who ever lived. If you're curious, there are a couple who made their way out: Enoch and Elijah. If you want to say you're number three, go for it.
There's another one who conquered the grave for good, and it's because of that one who conquered the grave named Jesus, who defeated sin and gave us a way that we could escape what is innate to all of us, which is the curse of death, because we have rebelled against God and left him… We think we can build a résumé that's going to be impressive enough to God, only to find out that God says, "No, no, no. You don't understand. My standard is perfection. If we're going to be intimate, if you're going to be near me, you have to be perfect."
Austin understood he wasn't perfect. Therefore, he took the provision God gave him. Here's the first reason you want to be like Austin Silva: your story is going to end. We have Austin's story in the little program we handed you when you walked in, and it has an end, earthly speaking, and so will yours. The wages of sin, of being a person who's part of the family of rebels against God, is death. Because your story is going to end, you'd better prepare to meet the one you are accountable to.
There's a guy named J.C. Ryle who had the privilege of loving people about 150 years ago. He was an incredibly insightful student of the Word of God. He said, "I shall have what is good for me. I shall live on earth till my work is done, and not a moment longer. I shall be taken when I am ripe for heaven, and not a minute before. All the powers of the world cannot take away my life till God permits. All the physicians on earth cannot preserve it when God calls me away." I have no idea when your story is going to end, but mark my words. You will fall in line with most of the 108 billion.
2._ Because you don't even know if your life is going to end when you're 77 or 17_. Your story is going to end, and you don't know when it's going to end, so you'd better get ready today. Austin, if he was here, would say, "Hey, Todd, this is what I want you to tell them. I want you to tell them what I have been told. I want them to know what I have known. I want them to have the peace that passes understanding. I want them to be at a place where their young friend says to them, 'You have surgery tomorrow. Doesn't that make you kind of nervous?' and they go, 'No, man. The Lord is going to take care of me.'"
The Scripture says in Psalm 90:12, "Lord, teach us to number our days, so that we might present to you a heart of wisdom." One of the signs of the foolishness of humankind is that we always believe we can deal with it later. I have said repeatedly that God does offer forgiveness to us for our repentance. When we repent on going our own way, trying to find life apart from him, trying to build up a résumé that will make us good enough for a holy God…
When we leave all of that, God offers us forgiveness to our repentance, but he does not promise tomorrow to our procrastination. Somebody in this room today has not yet done what Austin has done, which is to prepare for the grave, but you need to know something. Austin didn't just prepare for the grave. Austin knew the God who makes provision for the grave can make provision for a life all the way through.
3._ Because you are alive today, and you may as well find out how to make the most of it_. Too many people have this small-minded idea that all Jesus is is some insurance for the grave. That is not what he is. He is an assurance of the goodness of God, and because he's the assurance of the goodness of God, you ought to get to know God right now.
Austin would tell you that he grew up around people of faith. Austin would tell you that for a long time he was largely indifferent to the faith, indifferent to his God. Never a rebel in a classic sense, but he was never somebody who began to abide with Christ until his freshman year. In his freshman year, he decided to make that faith his own. In making that faith his own, he began to pursue the God who made provision for him.
I know now that Austin listened to Taylor Swift when he was in the car. Because he's a guy, I assume at some point he watched Braveheart. Did he ever watch Braveheart? Yeah, I see the nodding of heads. Of course he did. Well, William Wallace is the guy who said it most famously in this generation that we would quote because of the Gibson movie. He just said, "Every man dies, yet not every man lives."
You think about what most high school kids are involved in: drugs and sex and rebellion and taking advantage of weaker people. You think about all of the folks around Hannah Baker. If you know anything about the story… I don't recommend or commend the Netflix series to you. Just go read the Wikipedia page if you want to. You can find out all about the characters in Hannah's life.
If any one of those individuals was in Austin's shoes today…not Hannah, but any of the 13 who affected her…you can be sure their funeral would not be the same. People would say, "If I could tell you the truth today about this person, they didn't bless me; they hurt me. They never really lived. They were looking for life, and they tried to find life at my expense." That's not what you heard people say about Austin. What an amazing gift to us.
The third reason, as I've said, that you should learn from Austin is because you're alive today, and you may as well find out how to live. Jesus is not just for the grave. When he said, "I've come that you might have abundant life," he's not just talking about quantity; he is talking about quality. I will ding that point again in a moment.
4._ Because you are a sinner in need of grace, just like Austin was_. It's crazy to stand up here and act like Austin was the third guy that a chariot was going to wait for, like Enoch and Elijah. Austin was not on that trajectory. Yes, it is true, according to my friend Will, that he was a leader and a servant, a trustworthy friend, and a brother in Christ. Humility and joy marked him, but he was also an annoying brother. He also had his moments where he said, "I was disrespectful to my parent."
Here's Austin's testimony. He shared it with his high school group of friends right here. He says in the midst of his little testimony, "I lived with a desire to please others. I lived as a slave to pride. I had a selfish attitude." Austin Silva knew he needed a savior. We're not here today celebrating the perfect high school kid. We are here celebrating the fact that this imperfect high school kid came to realize he was imperfect and needed a relationship with the God who loved him.
You should imitate Austin because you're a sinner. You're a son of Adam and Eve, and you are separated from God. You're without God and without hope in this world, and apart from grace, even if you have an enjoyable life, you will not have an enjoyable moment when you meet your Creator, because all of us must give an account before God.
5._ Because people-pleasing creates nothing but insecurity, anxiety, and despair_. Austin was a young man who talked a lot about the fact that people-pleasing was something he struggled with. He wrote this. This is his testimony. He actually shared this. We typed it up. "From junior high to the beginning of high school is when I especially felt the need to be liked by everyone." Don't we all?
"When I was younger, I watched the way people respected guys older than me and decided, 'That's what I want. I want to be thought of the way I think about those guys.' I tried to be friends with everyone I could. Even though God had already given me a lot of great friends, I wasn't satisfied with them, and I always needed to be accepted by a new group of people. Having as many friends as I could made me feel validated. It comforted me knowing that other people liked me," he said.
"Very few times during these years did I ever turn to God for help with my gross insecurity." Implying, "When I served others, it wasn't to serve them; it was to get them to like me. Instead, I saw ways to build myself up. I became prideful when they liked me." He said it was a trap. Austin learned that people-pleasing creates nothing but insecurity, anxiety, and despair.
Austin learned and wrote in his testimony Galatians 1:10. "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.""What am I doing? The God of the universe loves me." I know there are a lot of high school students watching this.
One of the things that those of us who have been through high school and have moved on will tell you… It's amazing what we do during the high school years to try to get people that we're frankly not even going to know… Probably there will be one, maybe two, high school kids who are even in your cell phone favorites or, frankly, in your contacts 10 years from now, but this isn't just about high school.
How many of us need to be constantly admonished that the fleeting opinions of men are so vain? We would do well to learn from Austin to not have that define our lives. Charlie did a great job of reading that last day when Austin sat and spent time with the Lord. "Why would I look for success the world's way? Why would I make that my focus? I have to learn to be content. The God of the universe loves me."
6._ Because anxiety and despair ruin your life_. Worry does not in any way empty today of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. You can find the size of your God by looking at the size of your worry list. Austin learned to go, "I'm not going to be concerned." That's the reason he and his buddies were studying Job. Job had a lot of things taken from him, but he had the one thing he needed.
If you guys are curious, Job was content with the fact that he had a God, a Redeemer who lived, but what he didn't understand is how his Redeemer operates. God is okay with us telling him, "I'm not really sure why you do what you do." That's what Job did, but Job took it to an unhealthy extreme and demanded that God explain to him why he did what he did. That's where God had a problem with Job.
So after listening to Job for 37 chapters rail on him that he didn't get this right and that he needed to stand before Job and give an account for his sovereign actions, God said, "I'll tell you what, Job. You have one question for me. I'll answer your question, but you just have to answer a few questions for me first. If you can answer these, I will trust that you'll be able to handle my answer to your question."
Then he just walked him through a tour of biology, animal husbandry, oceanography, meteorology, a tour of all of the sciences men are studying to this day. Things we still don't have answers to, God asks Job, "Can you answer these questions? Surely, if I'm going to talk to you about eternal purposes, you must understand how I'm working in finite ways right now." Job right away understood, "Okay. Mistake."
God said, "Sit back down. I have a few more questions to ask you." So he spends an entire other chapter saying, "Hey, listen, Job. Do you want to know why I let things happen on this earth? Then you'd better understand how the earth works." Job said, "Okay." Worry is believing that God is not going to get it right; despair is believing that God got it wrong, and I refuse to do either. Austin was learning to live that way.
Austin had chosen to say, "I'm not going to let it ruin my life." America is more medicated than ever. We are more slaves to prescription medication than we've ever been, more prone to abuse controlled substances than we've ever been. It is ruining our lives. You ought to learn from Austin. He just said, "I'm not going to go there. The Lord will take care of me." Put that on my tombstone. Put it on Austin's, because those were his words.
7._ Because Austin understood that he had a loving heavenly Father who wants to care for him_. "An Unlikely Duo." That was going to be the name of your lawn-mowing service? I love that. That's pretty good. Let me tell you a more unlikely duo: the righteous, perfect, eternal Son of God, and a sinner like Austin. Yet to the glory of God they came together for the good of Austin Silva. He knew he had a loving heavenly Father.
He knew that when Jesus said, "Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," he meant it. He knew God was gentle and humble in heart, and he knew he was going to be burdened and heavy-laden if he didn't turn to him. He knew God would give him rest for his soul, so he found the yoke of walking with and being a partner in life with Jesus… He found that burden was easy and that yoke was light, a lot lighter than taking all of the routes Hannah Baker and her friends took.
8._ Because there are others around you who need you_. One of the amazing things is when you stop worrying about yourself and being obsessed with yourself, as Austin shared that he was for most of his life, you start to have an opportunity to look at other people. There are other people around you who need you. They don't need to be impressed by you.
They don't need to validate you, because their validation will never satisfy you. They need to be loved by you. Your validation of them will never satisfy them, but your love for them, done as a servant of Christ, can be a means through which they can be brought into relationship with the one who loves them. The reason you ought to be like Austin is there are others around you who need you.
There is a reason Austin was here. Austin was not here to eat, drink, and be merry, because he was going to die. He was here to serve, to be a trustworthy friend and brother. The reason this kid had 13 men on this stage is because, as a 17-year-old, as a 16-year-old, as a 15-year-old, he learned that life is better when you give it away. Wouldn't we all do well to learn that?
9._ Because there are others around you who need Jesus_. High school kids, let me just tell you something. You are not supposed to survive high school. You are not supposed to go and get your wild years in. Go listen to my message at The Porch last week. Some bad advice is "Get it while the getting is good." When you try to get something apart from the good Father, it is never good. It has a backlash.
"Treat yo' self." That's the phrase. No. Die to yo' self so that you can live. Not only so you can live really and truly but so that others might live. Austin understood there were people around him who did not know what he knew. I have to tell you if Austin knew there could be several thousand people in a room hearing about the love he was shown and he had to give his life for that, I think he might have made that trade. I think he really might have.
I think it would have discouraged him to no end if people would have gone, "Blah, blah, blah. When are they done?" and looked down and kind of moved on, like whatever the reasons why Austin died had nothing to do with them. I'm going to tell you something about my crazy God. I'm not saying this is why it happened, but it's possible that the reason the Lord took his servant home is so you would be here today or watching online so you would hear that there is a God who loves you, who cares for you, and wants you to be reconciled to him like Austin was.
The Lord took care of Austin. He wants to take care of you. He's not mad at you, Hannah Baker, buddies, parents who don't disciple your kids. He's not mad at you, high school kids. He just wants you to know he loves you. He wants you to be reconciled to him. Austin said, "God, I want to show others what you have shown me."
God is just crazy enough that he would make that little girl never get to know her brother's wife and that little guy to never get to have an older brother who is his hero, so you could meet the hero of Austin. To whom much is given much is expected. How do I know that? Because God already did that. God gave his own Son, eternal and perfect, for you. You would do well to imitate Austin in embracing Jesus.
10._ Because the good life is found in Austin's Lord. Not in Lake Highlands, not in Highland Park, not in Las Vegas. The good life is found in walking with Jesus. That's what this Book says. I love this Book. In Psalm 84, it talks about how "God is a sun and a shield. He gives grace and glory. No good thing does he withhold from those who love him." _Nothing. No good thing does he withhold from those who love him. You would do well to imitate Austin, because Austin wasn't looking forward to going to college and having his decadent years.
He wasn't looking to go and get out from the oppressiveness of his community of faith and get away from his small group and get away from his parents and have a little freedom so he could light it up, because he already knew the Light of the World. He wasn't trying to find it in a cute little suburb like Lake Highlands. He wasn't trying to move up to some other suburb, and he wasn't trying to get away to Vegas, because he had come home to the God who gives grace and glory, and you would do well to imitate him.
11._ Because Austin knew that what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas_. It just doesn't. Don't buy the lie. Sin easily entangles you. Austin, who was by and large a good kid, began to flirt with and try and play with the things the world says are the ways to happiness, and he said, "This is a trap. It's not making me stronger. I'm not just taking a little bit of this and still dabbling over here with Jesus. As I take a little bit of this, it begins to control me…this selfishness, this pride, this need to be validated by others."
He saw the black hole that was there, and he couldn't just move into that and then move back to his small group. He saw it entangled him. You see, what you do in Lo-debar, that low, barren place, what you do in Las Vegas, what you do when you think no one is looking, is affecting you. There's a sign up in Alaska…
Especially as it moves toward the winter months, when you leave certain communities and drive to another community, the snow, as you begin to drive through it, begins to freeze a little bit, and it creates ruts. Literally, what happens out of circles you drive around… You can go to different communities in Alaska from that little circle that we often have in different communities, and it would tell you what part of the circle to exit to go to this town or go to that town.
All throughout those little circles in the community, there are signs that say, "Choose your rut wisely. You will be in it for the next 60 miles. You'll be in it for the next 200 miles. You'll be in it for the next 64 miles." There is no turning around once you get in that rut. You are going that direction. Austin understood that the rut to jump into was not a rut at all but was a road to life, and you would do well to imitate him.
12._ Because what happens for the Lord stays with you for eternity_. Do you guys understand? Austin had 17 years to serve his King, and he got after it really these last three. A sweet young man for a lot of years, always, but he got after it these last three. This is what it says in the Scripture. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation…" There is no foundation, you're going to find out, other than Christ.
"…and another is building on [my foundation]. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." What Paul is saying is, "Hey, I laid the foundation for you by telling you about Jesus Christ." Austin decided the foundation of his life was going to be Jesus Christ. Then it says…
"Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss…"
Not he himself, it says, if the foundation is right, but all the work he did, all the living for fleeting things will be gone. Austin understood that what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas and what you do for the Lord isn't burned up either. What an amazing thing at 17 to show up before the Lord and say, "I didn't survive high school; I thrived. I wasn't trying to be validated by high school students; I was on mission at my high school."
You have to get out of this little small-minded thinking, if you're a high school student, that you have all your life to figure out who Jesus is and that, if you know Jesus right now, you're just supposed to not be bad, not drink on the weekends. No. God saved you for a purpose: to show others what you have been shown, to be a source of light. You don't need Vegas, the city of lights. No, it isn't. That's why there are more people who hide in shadows in Vegas than anywhere in our country. It's not the city of lights; it's the city of death. I know it's attractive, and you would do well to learn from Austin to find where life really is.
13._ Because Austin understood all of this life and his life was better because he understood who Jesus was_. Yours will be too if you imitate him. The thirteenth reason you ought to imitate Austin is because Austin isn't here to live anymore. Austin can't love Lake Highlands High School this year. You boys can. Austin can't be a godly husband. Some of you guys in this room can. Austin can't be a good big brother. Somebody in this room can.
Austin can't share Christ with anybody. Some of you people in this room can. Austin can't be generous with his life. Some of you can. Austin is the last person in this room we need to be concerned about. Austin is fine. The Lord has taken care of him. I talked to David and Suzanne the other night, and I just said, "Let me just tell you something. I know you prayed, 'O God, put me in Austin's place. Let me go.'"
God granted David and Suzanne their request of letting them live the more difficult life. Austin is with the Lord. He is free. There is no more struggling with his flesh. There is no anxiety. There is no concern for fleeting things. The deceitfulness of riches can't touch him. Do you know what's really hard? To honor the Lord in the land of the living.
God has given you more years. You said, "Lord, let me live the hard road." He's going to say, "Go live it. Don't you worry about your boy. I've got your boy. I didn't need him. He was just done." Those were the days appointed to him. The reason you should imitate Austin is because Austin isn't here anymore to imitate Jesus Christ, and we are. This is our moment.
There's going to be a day when we're going to get to stand before the Lord and hopefully get to have people we led to Christ and we discipled and that we didn't give ourselves away to stupid things the world tries to sell us are going to give us life, when we all know they won't give us life. You should imitate Austin because Austin isn't in here.
Are you missing him? Don't miss him. The closer you get to Jesus, the closer you're going to get to Austin. You just serve faithfully so that when you see Austin again you guys have stories to share, where you lived similarly in obedience to Jesus Christ. This was not a perfect kid. He had a perfect Savior. He did a lot of really good things because he denied himself and lived for Jesus. This is a high school kid you ought to imitate. You ought to send his tape to everybody and say, "Learn from him."
God is the God of the living. Psalm 23 is the most misunderstood psalm in all of the Scriptures. We often quote it around a grave. Psalm 23 was not written when David was on his deathbed, sleeping with Abishag, using her as a blanket to keep himself warm. That's not when Psalm 23 was written. It was written when David was a young man who was being threatened by the greatest powers on the face of the earth and he wasn't sure he was going to live.
He had faced giants. He had faced lions. He had faced bears. He had faced enemies. He had faced criticism, and he wrote Psalm 23 when he was just out of high school. You would do well to embrace it. It is the psalm of a young man. David knew, "The Lord is my shepherd. I'm not going to freak out. I'm not going to give way to anxiety. I'm not going to need prescription meds."
The reason some of you guys are on prescription meds, the reason some of you guys are struggling with anxiety is because you're listening to the advice of the world. That's only going to increase your anxiety. Of course you should be anxious if you're trying to find life where there's no life at all. That psalm Paul read, Psalm 115… You're serving gods who don't have eyes or ears. They're dead. They were never alive. That would make me anxious. Why trust in that?
Why don't you learn to trust in the God who does what he says he's going to do and not want? He will make you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside quiet waters. He'll restore your soul, that anxious, guilt-ridden soul. God is there. This isn't what happens at the grave; it's what happens when you're 15, when you're 25, when you're 35. He will guide you in the path of righteousness. That's why you're alive: for his name's sake. That's what he does.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of 2017, United States of America, I'll fear no evil, for my God is with me. Even though I'll walk through imperfect procedures, even though I'll walk through imperfect chemical makeup, even though I'll walk through imperfect everything, I fear no evil, for God is with me, and he is sovereign. No doctor can take me and no doctor can save me.
"Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the midst of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil. My cup overflows." Austin knew this, and you would do well to imitate him. He knew God and said, "God, no good thing do you deny those who love you. Surely, Lord, goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all my days." You ought to imitate Austin so you can look, like David did, with confidence and say, "I will dwell in the house of my God forever."
Are you ready…not to die but to live? I mean, really live. What a gift you have. You have a young man who wasn't perfect but who lived in a way that folks go, "We need more young men like that at Lake Highlands." Well, he's gone, and we need a godly girl at Lake Highlands. We need godly men at Lake Highlands and in Highland Park and in Las Vegas, and we need them in your office building and in your home and in your neighborhood.
You ought to imitate Austin because he isn't here to do it. Build on the foundation. First of all, lay the foundation. Put your faith in Christ, and then walk with him. Enjoy him. When you don't do it perfectly, do what Austin did: confess it. Let's get busy being a means of grace.
Father, we thank you that because Austin knew you and you're the God of infinite goodness we could have gone on for hours on ways we should have imitated him, because we could have gone on and on about how we should live when we live in relationship with you. You are a good and infinite God. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow us as we learn to follow you. Lord, would you forgive us that we try to find life all the time in every place other than in you?
Thank you that you have. Thank you that you've made provision for our stupidity. Thank you that the cross is worth focusing on, singing about, and clinging to. Thank you that the cross isn't the only part of the story, that death was your provision and you made it known that the provision of Christ is satisfactory to defeat the curse of sin, because you raised him from the grave. Because Jesus is alive, he can still bring healing, he can still bring life, he can still bring comfort, he can still bring power into our lives, the way he did Austin's.
Lord, we thank you that Christ was there to greet him and welcome him and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Thank you that there were rewards that Austin got to lay at your feet. I pray, Lord, because you have given us a few more days than Austin, it looks like, that we would get busy living for you for the good of others, that we might lay down things at your feet in a humble expression of thanksgiving.
Thank you, Lord, that we today got to go into the house of mourning, for this is the end of every man. Let us not sing the song of fools. Let us be people of faith who say, "Though you slay me, yet I will praise you," because there are going to be some tough days ahead for those of us who stay here and walk through this valley of the shadow of death. Help us to praise you and focus on you. Thank you for Austin's example. May we be that to others. In Jesus' name, amen.
That's not a song Austin wanted sung at his funeral. It's a song his parents and his siblings wanted sung at his funeral. "Though you take from me, still I will worship." "Lord, I can't understand why you do what you do, but I know that you're good. These are my days to take advantage of your grace and to have your strength magnified in my weakness."
If you're here and you don't even know how to have a relationship with God, you just have to say, "Lord, I don't have a relationship with you. I understand why all of humanity pivots on one person, because you're a gracious God, and you wanted us to know that this one life matters, this one life that said no one took his life, but he laid it down and took it back up again."
Before the Common Era, something very uncommon happened. God came to earth and gave himself for you. If you've never dealt with your sin, what you have to do is just say, "Lord, if you're there and you're that good that you would give yourself for me, that you would slay yourself for me, I will worship you. I admit that I am a sinner. I admit that I'm separated from you, and I ask for Christ's blood to be given for mine, that we could become an unlikely duo, that I would be an heir of Christ.
Lord, I don't want to just take grace; I want to live in it. The God who gives grace, would you give me your glory as I walk with you, abide with you, and I don't try to survive earth; I thrive in it. I don't try to have my needs met on earth; I give my life away like Jesus did." Find a community of faith. Get discipled. Be a discipler. Declare Christ's sufficiency. Walk with him. Austin is fine, and he wants you to be rightly related to God by faith.
Father, if there's anybody here who needs to do business with you… We all do, but if there's anybody who has never genuinely not just known the story but made the faith transaction, I pray today would be the day. If there are people, Lord, who know who you are and are squandering their life in foolish living, singing the songs of fools more than walking the life of faith, I pray they today would just go, "Nope, Lord. I'm going to get my life back on track today."
That they'd make the decision later this afternoon and first thing tomorrow, later in the afternoon, the first day of school, second day of school, that they would decide, "I'm going to be your man, your woman these days, because my friend Austin isn't here to do it, so it's my privilege." Father, would you help us by your grace and glory? Thank you for your provision for our sin. Would you give us also provision in our living? In Jesus' name, amen.