There are many paths we take throughout our walk of life. During our walk, there are moments when we can feel God's presence. We can see Him moving, answering our prayers, opening doors, making our lives flourish abundantly. There are other times where maybe He's meeting us when we need Him the most, taking us from the valley to the mountaintop and showing His power and victory in our lives. But, what about the moments when God seems silent? It may seem as if this in between path lasts forever. How do we stay faithful when everything is still? It may be easy to live for God when He's speaking to us, and it may be easy to live for God when we've been fulfilled, but what do we do in between?
Well, good morning to everybody and also to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We welcome you as well. We're in a six-week series called "In Between" and this is week number three. So, what I like to do at the very beginning when I usually preach is to bring everybody back up to speed as to what we're doing. Maybe you're new and you're thinking, "Oh, it's a six-week series. I'm in week number three. Am I going to know anything? What's going on?"
Let me put you at ease. I'll bring everybody back up to speed. Maybe you missed a week or whatever. So, let's all sort of reconvene here and sort of revisit what we're doing.
In this particular series, we're talking about the area in our life that we live the majority of our life in, which is in the in between. I'll give you an example. Just a human example. You know, many of us go to school and we live in between getting in school and graduating from school. Maybe we live in between being single and getting married. Or maybe we live in between having a relationship that we want to get right and it getting right. But, we live in the in between. Most of our life is lived there.
Spiritually speaking, it's the same way. Many of us could think about if you were asked to and somebody brought you a microphone right now, which we're not going to do. But, if we brought you a microphone and said, "Could you tell us about a time when God was really real in your life?" You probably could say, "Yeah. Let me tell you about this time. It was awesome and God was real and it was easy to worship God. It was easy to really be excited about God."
Or maybe you think of a time where maybe God answered a prayer or maybe He'd spoke to you at some point to do something and that got accomplished in your life and you're like, "Yes, God. That's awesome."
Those are times that we have, but the majority of our life is lived in the in between. It's in between stuff. And it's the in between that really eats our lunch. Because, as most Christians, when you're in between, you don't feel like there's a lot of things you can do. It's just like, "Okay. It is what it is." And there's not a whole lot. "I've prayed, I've read, I've done this stuff and nothing's really moving."
It's like a really, really big ice breaker trying to break up that ice and it's just not moving. And that's where we live. And what we want to do at church and what I want to do as your pastor is I want to give you tools for your toolbox so that you can live in the in between and live the abundant life that God has called you to live. So, that's what we're doing. So, last week, we talked about recommitting to prayer in the in between. That we needed to learn to be people of prayer. The week before, we looked at Psalm 73. We talked about the need to reorient. So, this weekend, we're going to revisit our connectedness or what we would call maybe our intimacy with God, because when we're not connected with God in the in between, it is really tough.
So, to do that, here's what I'm going to do: we're going to do an exercise. Not physically. We're going to do a little mental exercise here. Does anybody remember their first crush? Anybody remember their first crush? Come on now. Some of you are thinking, "I visited here and we're going to talk about crushes? I thought we were going to talk about Jesus."
My first crush was Mary Lou Retton. Y'all remember her? Yeah. Mary Lou Retton. Like, 1984 gold medal and she was cute. And, man, I had this great big crush for her. There was just one real issue: she didn't know I existed. And that was a problem. But, I think all of us can remember. You know, some of you all are younger than me and so you've got those cool watches now that you can put your finger on and it sends your heartbeat or you can draw on it and all that stuff.
Back when I was a kid, we had these little things that you would do like this with an it'd be like, "Pick one and do you like me? I know I have zits on my face, but I love you with an everlasting love and I just want to hold your hand."
Or do you remember the little thing where you would say, "Do you like me?" And you would draw a square and it would say "yes" or "no." Do you remember those things? We all remember those things, don't we? And here was the darnedest thing about your first crush: if they didn't have the crush back on you, it didn't work. Right? It's just like you really wanted to hold their hand or you thought they were cute or you were always thinking about who they were and, if they didn't respond then they just didn't respond.
And we laugh about that, but what happens is we learn something in life very quickly that happens later on in life that in our marriages and with family and with friends, unfortunately – and let me say up here at the beginning that I am not trying to draw up a bunch of bad emotions on anybody, because this is not where I'm going. I just want to make a point here so we can sort of move on in this message. But, here's the deal. As I pastor, I get to talk to people. You know, you have married couples that come in and they're like, "You know, Chip, listen. You know, we love each other and we're committed to each other. But, we're just not connected anymore. Something has happened to our connection."
You see it in families where a mother will come in and say, "I just really want a relationship with my daughter, but she doesn't want a relationship with me."
And we learn that we can have all the greatest intentions to connect and relate and to be intimate with somebody, but if they don't want to do it back, there's not a whole lot we can do about it. So, as we go through life, and whether it's in our marriages or our family or our friends, we know this to be true. Many of us are in relationships where we want to be connected again, but there's just no connection. Or we have a friend that moved away and we don't feel that connection. We would like to be that connection, but we just don't feel it.
So, what happens is we learn to cope. When we can't connect and when we can't be intimate with somebody, we learn to cope. And one of the ways we learn to cope is to just leave. And this is very popular in our society today. If there's no connection, there's no intimacy, you just leave. You just get out of the deal and move on and that's just what you do. Some people decide to stay but fight all the time and be miserable. And we've seen those. I mean, unfortunately that's a tough one as a pastor when you have people that are like, "We're going to stay together. We're not going to leave. We believe in that. But, it's just miserable."
And your heart goes out for them. So they just decide, "Well, we're just going to fight all the time and that's just what we're going to do."
And they get comfortable fighting and people go, "Wow, man. That's all they do is fight. Somehow, in their misery, they find comfort."
But, the one that's really tough is this one. It's when we learn to respect them, but we're not connected. And you see this coming up like in Thanksgiving. You know, many of you all will get together with a family and that family you don't talk with at all during the year. There's no connection at all. There's no intimacy. But, you show up for Thanksgiving and everybody starts to do the role play. They respect each other. You know, you haven't talked to each other for a year. There's no connection. But, you show up and you hug each other and you smile and you say, "No, no, no. You get the carrots first. No, no, no. You go ahead and get the turkey first."
And everybody puts on this great game and everybody respects everybody. There's a total amount of respect. A total amount of roleplaying. But, there is absolutely no connection whatsoever in any way, shape or form. It's really tough when you get a husband or wife that comes in – and it's usually the wife – and says, "You know, Pastor Chip, I don't understand. You know, we sleep in the same bed. We share the same account. We have kids together. We got roles. We respect each other. I mean, we're not going out and abusing each other. We're not cheating on each other. You know, we say prayer every once in a while together. But, we're not connected. We're not intimate. We respect each other, but we're not connected."
And what happens is although we totally get this in these relationships – I mean, all of us at this point are like, "Yeah, that's true. You're right. You made your point. Let's move on because I don't want to think about it anymore. Some of this is really not exciting for me." But, we know that to be true. But, what we don't think about very often and what we need to think about very often is that with God it's the reverse. He wants to have a relationship with you and me and, oftentimes, we respect Him but we're not connected.
I mean, we do the talk. We come to church and we put the fish on the back of our car and we're like, "I'm not quite sure what those Greek letters mean. I don't know what an iota is or a [garbled], I think it spells 'icthus' or something."
You're like, "I don't know for sure what that means. I like it."
And then we've got people that have, "God's my co-pilot," and people are like, "Man, He better be your pilot." And you're like, "Yeah, you know what? I think He should be."
We've got all these things that we do. We respect God, but we're not intimate. And Jesus, in the Gospel of John – and people who teach John or if you study John, you'll realize that chapter 14 through chapter 17 sort of form a unit, and that unit starts of with Jesus saying He's going to go away. In other words, He's talking about the fact that He's going to die and they're not going to have Him around anymore and He's using sort of a Jewish wedding type of scenario where the husband would go away and get the house ready and then come back and get the bride and all of that stuff. He's using that type of imagery.
But He says, "Listen. I'm going to go but I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm not going to leave you by yourself. I'm not going to leave you where there's no connection."
He says, "I'm going to send the Spirit of God," – and He calls it, in the original language, the "Paraclete," which is one called alongside to help. Some of your translations use "advocate," some use "comforter," some use "helper." But, the point is that Jesus is like, "Listen. When I go, I'm going to send the Spirit of God so that you can stay connected."
Then, in chapter 15, because He's sort of moving through this thing and it's all tied together. Unfortunately, we sort of sometimes miss it by starting at chapters. He says, "Listen. I'm the vine. That's who I am. I want you to be connected to me. I want you to get your life from me. You're branches and, if you're not connected to the vine, then you don't have the flowing life that comes out of the vine. And, as a branch, if you're not connected, then what you do is you wither and die and you're no good for anything other than to be thrown into the fire."
He's like, "Listen, I want you to be connected. I want you to be with me because I'm going to ask you to do something that's going to be very difficult to do if you're not connected to me. I'm going to give you a commandment to love people."
And it's not going to be like loving people like we love people. You know, I love you because you love me and because I scratch your back and you scratch my back and if you do good to me I'll do good to you. It's not going to be that type of love.
"The love I'm calling you to do is to love like I loved people. I want you to love like I loved. Which means enemies. It means turning the other cheek."
Isn't it funny, honestly, how you get Christians in a room and they'll go, "Let me tell you what the book of Revelation says. This crown means this and this beast means that."
And, if you're honest, you're going, "This is total gibberish."
I mean, let's be honest. I teach this stuff and I'm going, "It's gibberish. What does this mean?"
And then we go to turn the other cheek and somebody goes, "That's not what it means."
And you're like, "Hold on. Hold on. You think you understand Revelation? That's as clear as it can be to turn the other cheek."
But Jesus says, "Listen, if you're going to love people, you better be connected. Because, when you start loving people the way I want you to love people, there's going to be people that don't like that and it's going to be religious people that respect God but are not connected."
Then He says, as He rolls into chapter 16, He says this: "I've said all these things. Going away. Comforter. Vine. All this stuff. I've said all these things to you to keep you from falling away."
I would have probably thought that He would've said, "I've said all these things to keep you connected," or, "I've said all these things to encourage you."
He says, "No. I've said all these things to keep you from falling away."
In other words, I don't want you to lose your connection. I want you to stay connected. He says, "Because, here's the deal: they – these are not pagans. These are not non-believers. These are religious people. they will put you out of the synagogues."
Now, what's interesting is when we read the Bible – and let's be honest. Most of the time we don't go, "Hey, could I be a 'they?' Is it possible that I could be a 'they?' No. No. I'm a 'them' is what I am. I'm a 'them.' I'm good. But, could I be a 'they?' Is it possible that I could be so respectful to God that I thought it was the right thing to do to exclude and push people away? I'm going to kick you out of the synagogues?"
For you and me it would be a church.
He says, "Not only that. The hour's coming that whenever someone kills you they will think they're offering a service to God. They're going to be so into their respect, so into their way that not only will they push you out of the synagogues, but they will think, in killing you, they're doing God a service."
And then He tells us this somber note: "And they will do these things because they've not known the Father nor me. The reason they will do them is because they're not connected. They're not with me. They have a respect for me. They show up. They go to church every time it's open. They pray prayers the way they're supposed to pray. They've memorized Scripture. And they think they're right."
And this is a tough one for all of us. This is a tough one for every single one of us. What if what you thought about the world, what if the things that you thought about the way things are, what if you were wrong on many of them? Mostly we think we're right and everybody else is wrong. Can I get an amen on that? I mean, let's be honest here. Okay? You know, people on the internet are going, "That's right."
Y'all are having a little bit of a harder time getting it this morning. But, I'm telling you, you will get it. Most of us go, "No. This is the way it is." And we believe so much the way we believe because we put it out there on all kinds of social media and everything else and tell everybody the way we think.
And Jesus says, "Listen. These people are doing the thing that they do. They think they're right. But the reality is is that they're not right and they're not connected because they haven't known the Father nor me."
Now, here's the way it works. Listen to me. This is really important. When you and I get into what I call a "role relationship" with people or we get into a respect somebody but we're not connected, there's things that happen – and this is really important that we get. This is so important that we get this, because it's imperative that we get it.
The first thing is when we lose that connection, when we're out of that intimacy with a person and with God, we move into what is called a formula relationship. The way it works is this. I mean, I've sat so many times with a husband and a wife and this is the way the conversation goes. The husband will go, "I go to work and I do all the stuff and I fund the project and I do dishes every once in a while and I talk to her every once in a while and I take the kids to the movie. I don't know what she wants. I just don't know what the deal is."
See, that's a formula. Because, what you've got is you've got your formula that you think people should work in. We do it in the church. We get a formula and we go, "Oh. Went to church. Check. Got it. I'm good. I read my Bible every once in a while. Check. I'm good. I said a prayer, 'God is great, God is good,' one time at Carrabba's. Check. I give the right amount, whatever that is. But, I see issues a certain way and the way I see the issues are the way they are and nobody else that could believe God or anything else could believe that way."
And you see it all over the place. Everybody's got their formula. And see, that formula, when you get that formula and you get it good and going, what happens is it gradually becomes about me. It's the husband that's sitting there going, "Listen, I do this and I do this and I do this. You should do this back for me so it works. I'm doing all of these things."
And then what happens is we do it with God. We say, "Hey, God. Because I'm doing all the right things, I believe the right way, I've got all my P's and Q's together, then You're going to bless me and I'm going to be one of Your people and I'm going to be one of the few that goes and all these other people that got the formula wrong, they're not going to go. It's all going to be good."
And then the formula becomes the standard by which you can judge other people. They're wrong because they don't have my formula. "I've got the right formula, and the formula looks like this."
And you see it all the time. "They can't be in. They can't do this."
And you see it in relationships. They husband will look at the wife and say, "I do all these things. This is who I am. This is how I act. I cannot believe that you don't respond. The problem, Hunny, in this relationship is you."
And we do that with God. We create a formula when we respect Him but we're not connected. So, Jesus writes to seven churches in the book of Revelation. We're not going to do a verse by verse exposition of the book of Revelation this morning, I promise, or anything like that. People ask me all the time, "Are you pre, mid, post?"
I'm pan. It's all going to pan out in the end. Okay? That's the way it's going to work. That's just what I am. And I teach this stuff, so there you go. But, here's the deal. He writes some letters to churches. Now, this is important. These are not unbelievers. These are not pagans. These are churches. These are people that say, "We believe in Jesus."
The first church He writes to is the church at Ephesus. And He says, "Man, you guys have got your doctrine right, man. You don't tolerate certain people. You've got your doctrine right. Man, you guys have got the formula down. The problem is is that you're not connected anymore. You've lost your first love and that's a problem. There's a problem here. I mean, I know you guys gather. I know you meet together. I know that you sing songs and stuff. You've got your P's and Q's right, but you're not connected."
And oftentimes in the ancient ways that people would right, they would tie in two things. The first church and the last church have a lot of similarities in certain ways. It's called an inclusio in the academic world. It's like a bookend. It sort of makes sense. It's the church at Laodicea. You may not know a lot about the church at Laodicea, but it's the seventh church that is written to, and I think you'll enjoy this.
Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D. Like, absolutely destroyed. Here's what's so awesome about Laodicea. They were so wealthy that they rejected Roman funds – rejected the funds of Rome – to rebuild the city. Just everybody in the city had enough money to rebuild the city on their own. Check that out, huh? I mean, they're just like, "We don't need your money. We've got plenty of money. We're going to rebuild the city."
They rebuilt the city all on their own. I mean, they were people that had it together. They were doers and they had money and they had all that stuff. On top of that, they had what was called a "black wool." This black wool was from the sheep and it would sort of discolor the wool and they would make these fabrics that were sold all over the empire and they became very wealthy selling these types of garments. On top of that, third thing, they had a medical school at Laodicea. And what they did is they made an eye ointment there that they could put on the eyes of people that would do some healing for some of the eyes. And that's really important as we look at what Jesus says to this church, because that's sort of what was going on.
And remember this: the Bible was not written to you and me, it was written for you and me. But, it wasn't written to you and me. It was written to people at a specific time and a specific place. So, when we listen to what He says to this church, we're going, "Whoa, man. This is pretty incredible stuff."
This is what Jesus says. He says, "You say..." – this is what you say as a church – "...that I am rich and I have prospered and I need nothing."
Now, I've heard a lot of preachers take this and go, "Look how arrogant they were."
I'm not downplaying the fact that there was probably a lot of pride in that community, but I think what Jesus is saying is that they believe, as a general rule, things are pretty good. I mean, they've got it together. They've got money, they've got a nice environment, they've got a nice city. Things are pretty good. They're well to do and they've prospered and so things are well. And they really don't need a whole lot of anything. They're not saying, "I don't need You, God."
They're going to church. He's writing to a church. These are people that believe in Jesus, or at least they say they believe in Jesus. They're showing up for church. He writes this and He says, "This is what you guys say. This is what you say about yourself. This is the situation. But, what I want you to do is I want you to see what's going on. Because, really, if you really want to know the truth, you're really wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. That's really what you are. I know that's not what you think, but that's really what you are. When I look at you, that's what I see. I don't see what you see. You see a certain thing."
And man, that's a scary place to think that we might be looking one way and God's looking at us as another. Can I at least get an amen? It's an uncomfortable amen, but can I get a little bit of an amen on that, because that's a tough place to be?
He says, "This is what you are. So, here's what I want you to do. You guys have got money, right? You've got the money, Hunny. You said you do. You said you're rich and all that good stuff. So, here's what I want you to do. I want you to take the money you've got. I want you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich. I know you think you're rich. You've got plenty of money. But, you're not really rich."
Because, if you don't have the gold that's refined by fire – and this is a metaphor for someone who's been in the furnace of God's relationship and been molded and shaped by God – He's like, "Why don't you take some of that and get some gold refined by fire with some connection with me so that you really can be rich so that you can truly live out this thing. And I know you guys sell that garment stuff. So, what I'm going to do is I want you buy some white garments from me. I know you have the black garments that you all sell. Why don't you buy some white garments from me that you may clothe yourselves and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen."
They're like, "We're not naked."
Jesus is like, "You're naked. You don't see that you're naked, but you're naked."
They're like, "No, no, no, no, no. I'm good. I live in Lakewood Ranch, baby. It's all good. I mean, it's fine. I mean, there's a pizza place right down there on Main Street and it's good. It's called the Trattoria, Bennett. It's like Italian. Cool place, man. And a Mexican and Japanese. It's all good, man."
And Jesus is like, "No. I know that you've got Tommy Bahama on. I know that you go to Joseph A. Banks. I get that. But, the fact of the matter is that you're naked. Oh, and on top of it, one more thing. Why don't you get some eye ointment from me? I know you all have eye ointment. But, why don't you get some salve to anoint your eyes so that you may really see."
Like, "Whoa, man. He's taking them to task, isn't He? Like, man, what time's lunch?"
So, He's taking them to task here, He's doing His thing. And then He says what is the most important part of this little passage; this little letter that He writes to the church at Laodicea. He says this: "Behold..." – it's an emphatic.
"Behold! I stand at the door and knock."
He's like, "You guys are having church. You're in there singing about me. You're talking about me and I am at the church door knocking. I'm not in there with you all. I'm knocking. You're having church. The problem is I'm outside. I'm knocking. I'm standing at the door knocking. And, if anyone in there hears my voice and opens the door I'm going to come in and eat with him and he with me."
In other words, "I want to be connected. I want to be in a relationship with you. I didn't come to start a religion. I didn't come to start a check mark. I didn't come to start something where you go, 'Let me tell you how I'm right and you're wrong.' I came and paid a high price so that I could be connected with you. And what I want to do..." – and He says it in a way that the first century would have understood it. If you really wanted to be intimate with somebody, if you really wanted to get to know them, what did you do? You would eat with them. That's why David, in Psalm 23, says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."
David could see fellowship with God, but not with his enemies because they were away. But see, a greater than David has come and He spreads a table where His enemies are welcome. And that's why the religious people had all kinds of issues with Jesus. "You're eating with all the wrong types of people, Jesus."
Luke records nine instances in his Gospel where Jesus eats with people. You don't usually pay attention to that when you're reading that Gospel, but that is absolutely incredible at that time. If you would have been in the first century you'd have been like, "Man, this guy's hanging out with all the wrong people."
What Jesus wants with you and me is He wants to have a relationship. He doesn't want a performance; He wants a relationship. Now, I know it's been a little heavy. So, let's all take a deep breath. We're going to be out of here in just a few minutes. Okay? It's all going to be good. You're still going to go to your car. It's going to turn on. The air's going to come on. You're going to walk out and put your sunroof on. It's going to be gorgeous Sarasota weather. You're going to forget that Chip preached a convicting message and you're going to come back next week and love me. It's all going to be good. Okay? I promise you. You know, nobody's going to jump on your back on the way out or anything like that.
But, since we're in here and this is a real message and it's something we all need to deal with, let's get practical here, because I think we want to get practical. Let's talk about the steps to intimacy. How can I become closer to God? How can I get more connected with God? I'm glad you asked. Okay? Here's what we're going to do.
First one. And this is important. You have to want it. Remember Mary Lou Retton? She didn't know who I was. I'm positive if she would've known who I was she would've had a crush back. But, the fact of the matter is she didn't. But, the deal is this: you've got to want it. See, here's the deal: God is coming to you. You're not here by accident this morning. You didn't just show up by accident. God is speaking to every single one of you and He's saying, "Hey, listen. I have a note that I am sending through a very imperfect pastor to you that says, 'Hey, I want to have a relationship with you that is very real. Do you want to? Yes, or no?'"
Because, see, you have to want it. God wants it. In fact, you want to know how much God wants it? He sent His Son to die on a cross so that you could have that relationship with Him. That's how bad He wants to have a relationship with you. You've got to want it. Everybody knows Bonnie Raitt, right? The one with the little silver thing in her hair, you know? Sort of looks like a skunk or something? You know what I'm talking about? I mean, I don't mean that in a bad way, but it's just sort of like that thing there. I mean, I seriously don't mean that in a bad way. I'm just trying. You'll probably think, "Oh, yeah. That's right."
Now, forever, you'll be going, "Oh, here's the lady that looks like a skunk."
So, I didn't mean to say it that way. But, scrub that out on the internet, because I don't want to meet Bonnie Raitt one day and she'll be like, "Oh, that's the preacher who called me a skunk."
Anyway, here's the deal: Bonnie Raitt wrote a song that's so appropriate for what I'm talking about. She says, "I can't make you love me if you don't. You can't make your heart feel something it won't."
And here's the deal: God wants to have a relationship with you. Do you want to have a relationship with Him? Because, here's the deal: it's tough. It's a lot easier to just respect God and do all the God things and tell everybody what you think God looks like and live in the formula world because, when you start to connect with God, what happens is you have to start getting brutally honest. Because, if you really want to connect with God, then you've got to get brutally honest and transparent with God.
See, here's the deal: every one of us, we really want to believe deep down inside that there's somebody in this world that could look at everything that we are and everything that we've ever thought and everything that we've ever done and all the evil things that have gone on in our heart and evil things that we've thought about people and said about people. We want to believe that maybe, just maybe, is there one person that could know everything that I am, everything that I've thought, everything that I've bombed and could actually love me?
And that's why we don't want to get transparent with God, because we think, "Man, if I told God what was really going on in my heart, I mean, if I'm out on University and I'm driving and somebody pulls out in front of me and this rage comes out in me..." – and it's a rage and we know it's a rage, we just say, "You know, God, if you could just be for them and calm me down or whatever," rather than saying, "Hey, God, there is a rage inside of me that is not of You. There is something so deep in my heart that is so nasty and I know it's not of You. And God, this is who I am and I don't want to be like this, God. I want to connect with You."
See, that's where it starts to become brutally honest. It is so much easier to respect Him than to go there. Some of you need to pray some PG-13 prayers. Y'all are laughing. Some of you need to pray some R rated prayers. See, you get this once. I have to preach this four times. And I have to prepare for it. And I have to think through it. And I have to process through this. I found myself – and, look, the reality is this: I do care, at one level, that you like me, because I'm a human being and I want to be liked and I want to be loved. But, at one level, as a pastor, I'm not really so concerned that you love me or like me. Because, what I want you to do is love and like Jesus and I want to point you to Him more than me.
So, I was in here this week and I was doing my prayer that I do, you know. "God, be with my family and be with me kids and whatever."
And God's like, "Okay. Are you done respecting me? Do you want to get honest now?"
I was like, "Man. Yeah. I guess I do. Not really. Yeah. I guess. You know, God, I prayed for my kids. I love my kids. But, God, I'm going to be honest. Sometimes I'm not the best dad. And I'm not going to candy coat it, because sometimes I'm just not. Sometimes I'm busy and I'm a type A personality and my kid gets in the way and I don't want to stop and then I go to school for my kids and I treat somebody else's kids with all this respect and I've got time for them because that's what I'm doing and then I go home and don't do that. God, I absolutely stink at this sometimes and I am sorry, because that's not the dad that I want to be. And God, I don't want to talk about just loving my wife. She deserves time. She deserves to be listened to. And sometimes, I don't do that. Because, God, that's who I am sometimes."
And God's like, "That's great, Chip. Let's talk about that. Because this is the stuff that I want to work with you on. This is the stuff that I want to help you with."
And He wants to do it for you. See, here's the deal. And we think about, "There's no way I could tell God that. There's no way I could share that. There's no way."
He already knows it! It's not like He goes, "Oh, man. Wow! Do tell. I thought you were doing pretty good there, Champ. Didn't see that one coming."
It's time to get honest and transparent with God. If you really want to connect, if you really want to have more than religion, this. And third, this is the roughest one of all, this is the stinger: we need to allow Him to move from Savior to Lord. See, we like the Savior part. And listen, I'm not pushing down that part. God's a good God. He loves us. We love that stuff grace and love and everything. God's good and all that stuff. And all of that is absolutely true. All of it's true. But, He's not just Savior. He's also Lord, and that's the rub.
Because, see, when we respect God, we can just let Him be our Savior. But, when we connect and get intimate with Him, He has to be our Lord, and that's tough. Because it's easy to go, "Hey, you know what? I know that He says that seventy times seven and whatever. He's just going to forgive me and give me grace. It's all good. I really don't want to do that because, when somebody does me wrong I want to get back. I mean, that's just the rage in my heart. And, for You to be Lord would mean I would have to deal with some of that stuff and talk about it and I just don't want to deal with that stuff. I just want to respect you. I don't want to be connected."
See, it's tough to say "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." That's tough. "God, what would it look like for me to be someone that Your Kingdom came in their life and Your will was done in my life? It'd look a lot different than what I am right now. And I don't know that I really want to do that. I don't know that I want to get that honest. I don't know that I want to get that brutal. I don't know that I want to get that transparent. I would just rather respect You than connect with You."
And God is saying to every single one of us: "I want to connect with You. I don't want it to be about coming to church. I don't want it to be about a building. I want it to be about you and me connecting and letting you see what I can do in your life if you'll just trust me."
Because it's a lot easier, isn't it, to sit in the boat than to get out of the boat. Ain't it a lot easier to go, "Man, I'm going to just hunker down in the boat rather than get out and walk on the water with Jesus. I mean, I don't know about that stuff. That seems crazy. I'm in the boat and it's safe right now and that's where I want to be. I'm out here. You told me to go row. I'm doing the Jesus thing, but I'm not doing the Lord thing. I'm not doing the 'get out of the boat,' because that would be uncomfortable for me. That would put me in a position that I feel out of control."
And God's saying, "Hey, you want to connect and you want to have intimacy with me? Then you're going to have to give some of that stuff up and you're going to have to trust me."
And here's the deal. Listen to me. You trust God and it'll be the best thing you ever did in your entire life.
Dear Heavenly Father, I love every single one of these people here at Grace. I love the people that are watching via the internet and mobile app. God, this is a real message. It's one that we all have to look in the mirror at, because it's really easy to respect You. It is a really difficult place for us to be transparent in such a way where we're so brutally honest that we connect and get intimate with You.
But Lord, I pray right now that Your Spirit would hover over this sanctuary, would hover over these people that You love, hover over those that are watching via the internet and the mobile app. And I pray right now, God, that they would hear Your voice saying to them. I pray that they would hear their name, God, saying to You, "I want to have a relationship with You.
"I don't want you to respect me. I want you to connect with me in a real way."
God, I pray that every single person at their chair right now would make that their alter and, Lord, they would just have a real moment with You and say, "God, I want to connect. I want to be real. I don't want this to be a religion or a performance or a formula, I want it to be real."
So, Lord, I pray that as hopefully everybody's making that commitment, maybe those that have walked with You for a long time and maybe somebody for the first time, I just pray, God, that You would give us the ability to see that following You and being close to You and being connected with You is the best place we can be. So, Lord I pray that as we walk out of here today that You would lead, guide and direct us. Watch over us and protect us. I pray that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again and I pray, Lord, that not one person would leave here today without being at least confronted in their mind and in their spirit about how much You want to connect with them.
And Lord, I pray that You would help us to be a church that, in the in between, connects with You, because we desperately need it. We love You, we praise You, we honor You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. See you soon.