Risk Week 1: Front Row Seat

Sermon Transcript

Well, good morning to everybody and also good morning to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. Isn’t there something in every one of our hearts that we see something like that, we hear the music and we just go, “Man, there’s got to be something more.”

We’re all intrigued by that. We love the fairy tales. We love those stories about doing something great. And, ultimately, all of those things, at some level, require taking a risk. So, we’re starting a new series this weekend. If this is your first time with us at Grace, you hit the proverbial church jackpot starting off on a brand new series. So, we’re glad you’re here. Or maybe you’ve been coming for a couple of weeks. This is also a great time anytime we start a new series.

But, what I want to do is I want to ask you a question. When you think about risk – I’m probably the anomaly. I was sitting in my office months ago when we were putting this thing together and I was thinking, “Okay, if I was playing a word association game and somebody said ‘risk,’ what would I think of?”

I said, “The board game.”

Probably nobody else would be thinking about that but me. I’m weird. But, anyway, the deal is all of us know about risk. I mean, we had to take a risk at some point to maybe go off to that college that we went to. Or maybe we took a risk to walk across the room to see that girl that we wanted to ask out. We all know that. And normally when we think about risk, if I were to say, “Define risk for me. Tell me what a risk is,” you probably would define it in some sort of risk versus reward.

“Well, I would maybe do this if the chance for this.”

Or you might define it even in like an insurance way. You know? Risk loss. Risk aversion. Risk mitigation. Those things. Like, “I’ll do a little bit of risk, but maybe not so much risk.”

So, really, if I were to sit down and ask, “What does it mean to risk?” I think we really, genuinely, would get hundreds of different answers. So, what I want to do is I want to bring us all up, maybe, to sort of the same sheet of music. Listen to what the dictionary says about the definition of risk. It says, “A situation involving exposure to danger.”

Most of you probably are thinking, “Well, yeah. I’m not quite sure I want to go that far with my risk. I like maybe going across the room and saying hi to the quite girl or something like that. But, I’m not sure that the exposure to danger – I’m not sure that I would go that far with my risk.”

Because, typically we judge risk in terms of what’s the reward and I’m going, “Eh, that’s a little too far.”

Or how about this one here? “Possibility of loss or injury.”

Like, “Okay, well, I don’t know that I really would want to lose anything or injure anything.”

This particular definition reminds me of a tourist that went to Europe to see a monastery. He had done his research and he really wanted to see this monastery. Well, his research wasn’t that great because when he got there he realized the only way to see the monastery was to be lifted up in a basket a couple of thousand feet along a rock cliff and then you could see the monastery that was perched way up into the mountain there.

So, he gets there and, all of a sudden, this basket comes lowering down and there’s a monk in it. And he’s got to make the decision. Do I want to take the risk here to go up and see the monastery? So, he gets into the basket with the monk and he looks and there’s four ropes on each corner of the basket that go up to one major rope. He gets in and they start going up. He looks at the monk and he says, “This is a little crazy. How are we being hoisted up?”

The monk says, “Well, the 21 other monks that are up on top of the cliff are pulling us right now.”

And he’s like, “Oh, man.”

He’s too far up now. And there’s no intercom to say, “Please stop the ride. Stop the ride.”

None of that stuff. So, he’s thinking, “Man. I have really taken a risk here on some loss and injury.”

So, he’s sitting there, he’s looking around and he looks up at the rope that’s holding the basket up and it’s tattered and frayed. He’s like, “Man, this is not a good gig right now.”

The bad part is he knows that even if he gets up there he’s still got to come down. So, he’s looking around and he’s like, “Hey, I’m not trying to be the tourist or anything. I don’t want to be negative. But, man, that rope is in bad shape up here. When do you plan on replacing the rope?”

The monk’s like, “When it breaks.”

So, I don’t know that if you guys really want to go that far in your risk or not, but you probably are saying, “Okay, that’s a little bit too far.”

But, before you dig in saying I wouldn’t go as far as danger, exposure or all of that stuff, let me ask you a question: What would you risk for your kids? See? All of a sudden it’s like, “Well, okay. Maybe I would go a little bit further than not.”

Some of you are going, “I don’t have any kids.”

Well, pretend that you do. Play along with Pastor Chip. I mean, please. Sometimes you’ve just got to play along with the pastor here a little bit. Okay? So, what would you do for your kids? How about a chance? How about a chance at that one thing or that one person? What would you do? How far would you go? What would your risk be? How about a job? How much would you risk for your job? There’s people that are in law enforcement that potentially put their lives on the line every day. People in the military that potentially put their lives on the line every day. How far would you go for your job?

How about for a Klondike Bar? What would you do for a Klondike Bar? Right? Like, one of my friends says, “What would I not do for a Klondike Bar?”

How about your spouse? What if somebody broke into your house? What would you do? Would you put yourself out in danger or for injury? How about your freedoms? How far would you go? What would you do to protect those things? What would be your risk?

So, all of a sudden, you’re going, “Well, yeah. You know what? Maybe I would. Maybe at some points I would risk a lot more than I thought I would risk. Maybe you’re right.”

Well, as your pastor, I have to ask this question because this is what I do and this is the one where it might get uncomfortable. What would you risk for Jesus? How far would you go? Many of you are thinking, “Well, yeah. Maybe I would go overseas. Maybe I would do the Philippines trip.”

No, no. Listen. Before you get off on those tangents, I want you to listen here and listen to me. This is so important: What if I could inform you today, what if I could convince you today that every single one of us in this room, no matter what background we come from, no matter what countries we came from, no matter what denominations we grew up in, no matter if we were sprinkled or if we were dunked when we were baptized, no matter any of that stuff – what if I were to tell you that there is one thing above all things that God has asked each one of us to take a risk with? And everybody in here is on the same playing field. Everybody in here has the same call. Everybody in here has the same movement to take a risk that there’s one thing that God genuinely wants us to take a risk for in our lives and it’s applicable to every single person no matter where you’ve come from or where you’ve been.

Let me explain that by tell you a story. I grew up and I was a child of the 80’s. I was born in 1970. I grew up and my favorite band was Van Halen. I loved Van Halen. I was a strong proponent of letting my friends know about Van Halen and I played guitar and, believe it or not, I had hair at one point to about my waist. There’s a few of those pictures that are still out there in the wild. I rebuke them in the name of Jesus. But, they’re still out there.

I played guitar. Well, I had a buddy named Mark Putterman. Mark would come over to my house and we’d go to concerts together and he’d listen to me play guitar. I played him, I think, every Van Halen song I could ever play him and all of those good things. So, me and Mark were pretty good buddies. Well, somewhere along the way, around 17 or 18, I became a Christian. When I became a Christian, I can’t tell you why, I genuinely – the best way to say this is I can’t tell you why. The first thing that I did when I became a Christian is I went to a bookshelf that my mom and dad had in the house. On the bookshelf, there was a book that said “The Book of Revelation.”

I pulled that off and it was a commentary. And I just got so intrigued in reading that book. Now, listen: Don’t try that at home, because I was a professional. Okay? I’m just kidding. I was an idiot. So, I’m reading this book and I’m reading about beasts and the sea and crowns. So, I’m going to school and I’m telling everybody about the book of Revelation. Well, some of my friends too were like, “You are weird.”

And I said, “Well, I’m just suffering for Jesus.”

I was weird. The deal was is I’m doing the book of Revelation and telling everybody about Revelation because that was sort of my deal right then. As the kids say, that was my jam. So, I’m doing the book of Revelation. One day, I come to high school on a Monday. Some of my friends, I could tell, were really down and out. And I said, “What’s up?”

And they’re like, “You haven’t heard?”

I’m like, “No. What happened?”

They said, “You haven’t heard about Mark?”

I’m like, “No. What happened?”

“Well, Mark got really, really, really, really drunk this weekend.”

That wasn’t an abnormal thing for me to think that Mark would do.

“But, he wrapped his car around a tree, drunk, and he died this weekend.”

All of a sudden, I realized what the main thing was. I had never shared Jesus with Mark. Man, I’d talked about the book of Revelation. I talked about things about Jesus. I talked to him about Van Halen. I’d showed him my guitar. I’d gone to concerts with him. But, all of a sudden I realized, man, there’s a main thing and that main thing is the main thing that every single one of us, no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, are called to be people that live an invitational life. We’re called to let people know about Jesus and we so easily get distracted from that.

It was all about the book of Revelation. And I had that moment where I realized that’s the most important thing is that I let my friends and people that I love know about Jesus. But still, over time I would get distracted and it would be something else that would be the thing that I would lead with or something else. So, what I want to do in this series is I want to try to keep the main thing the main thing. Because, sometimes we forget what that is or we lose sight of it. And we all know that. We all know that it’s so easy to get distracted off of the main thing and sort of think that the main thing that we’re talking about is the main thing even though the main thing that should be the main thing isn’t the main thing. And we take a risk sometimes for the main thing that really isn’t the main thing and, even though we take that risk for the main thing, it’s not the main thing.

Are you following me on that one? Okay. So, why do we get so easily distracted? Why do we get so caught up in other things? Well, first of all, we’re often peekers rather than connectors. Let me explain what I mean by this: To connect with people, you’ve really got to know them. We’re peekers. Now, you’re probably not going to want to raise your hand, but that’s okay. But, this is the way it works in America today.

80% of the people in America don’t even know their next door neighbor’s name and where they’re from and how old they are. We live in gated communities. We shop on Amazon rather than going to the mall because we don’t want to deal with people. What we do is we meet somebody at church – and you don’t have to raise your hand, but you know this is true – and the first thing you do is you type in their name on Facebook, because you’re a peeker.

“Let me see what’s going on.”

I know. I mean, come on.

“Ooo. Their kids are ugly. Oh my goodness. She’s got a tattoo? Can’t be a Christian. Oh my goodness. They were at the bar? Gluttons and sinners.”See, what happens is when we’re peekers, we don’t have to get involved in anybody’s life. And when you don’t have to get involved in anybody’s life, you can push them away with things like, “Well, they live that way. They do that. They didn’t do this. They don’t agree with me on this position.”

But see, if it’s a family member or if it’s somebody that’s close to you, they can do something dumb and you’ll defend them. Why? Because you’re connected. So, so often we get distracted and we’re doing all these other things rather than telling people about the main thing because we’ve become peekers. What I’d like to just say is it’s not just about inviting someone to discover our faith. That’s what you do as a peeker. Just come on. But, discovering how we can be invited into someone else’s life.

See, Jesus didn’t meet people just at wells and in the middle of being caught in adultery. Jesus was involved in people’s lives and we need to learn how to do that. We need to learn how to not be peekers. We need to learn how to be connectors, and we’re going to talk about that over the next several weeks.

The second thing that makes it really tough for us today to keep the main thing the main thing is being more me-minded, we become less kingdom-minded. Let me explain that, because here’s the way it goes. A lot of times, people will say, “Chip, let me be me and you do you, because I’m going to be me and you can be you and that’s the way it works.”

And everybody’s doing I want to be me. Just let me be me. That’s what I want to be. I want to be me. I want to be me. Well, the problem is that me and the kingdom clash. See, Jesus didn’t come so that you could become a better me. Jesus came so you could become more like Him. Oftentimes, me and the kingdom, they don’t work together. And what we do is whatever our “me” is – and we’ve all got our “me.” Everybody’s got their “me.” Whatever their “me” is, and it may be a million different things. We tend to do this as well – especially if we’re Christians: Whatever our “me” is, when we read Scripture, we find the Jesus that fits our “me.”

So, what we do is we end up creating a Christ in our image to support me rather than being someone who’s a servant of the kingdom. How this works is this: We all have these pyramids in our lives. I mean, they’re not like pyramids like overseas or anything, but they’re hierarchies of things that are – you know, this is the least important thing in my life and this is a little bit more important and then this is a little bit more important. But, this right here, that right there is the most important thing in my life, and that’s me. That is me. People always say to me, “Man, up on top of your pyramid? You just must love children with all those kids that you have.”

I just love my wife. So, anyway, the deal is that we’ve got all this stuff going on here and everybody sort of stacks this thing up and then there’s their “me.” And that’s their “me.” Now, if you’re in here today and you’re not a Christian or maybe you came and you’re not even sure about the church stuff, this is really not at you. Just sit back. You probably will agree with me. You’ll be going, “I’m glad somebody said that.”

But, for those of us who are followers of Christ, we call ourselves Christians, this is what we normally do with our pyramids. Because, everybody’s going to have their “me.” So, what happens? Somebody comes along and says, “Okay. Here’s what needs to be happening in the church. This is what needs to be happening. We need to be discipling people and we need to be educating people, because that is the most important thing that we can do. That’s my ‘me.’ And I’m going to tell you about my ‘me’ whenever you meet me.”

Somebody else comes along and says, “No, no, no, no, no. It’s fine here, but really it’s all about getting our worship on. That’s what’s important to me. I want to come and get my worship on. And I’m okay with your discipling. You can be you. But, I want to be me. I want to do my worship thing.”

Somebody else comes along and says, “No, no, no, no. The most important thing is that we go out and see justice and social transformation in the lives of the community, because Jesus did that type of stuff and that’s what we need to do.”

Somebody else comes along and says, “No, no, no, no. What we need is more community. We need more small groups. We need more stuff like this and everything.”

And what happens is everybody then at church, everybody who’s a follower of Christ has their pyramid. And they have, at the top of their pyramid, their “me.” And it’s usually one of these or something like this. Or it may be their ministry.

“I’m going to do it. God’s called me to do something.”

I get people all the time that come in – I don’t even know them – and they’ll be like, “Here is my ministry and I am ready to now unleash it on your congregation.”

I’m like, “I don’t even know you. Why am I going to put you up front and let you unleash whatever that is? It might even be the beast that you’re unleashing. You know?”

I mean, it’s funny that people are like, “That’s me.”

And then if you tell them no, they get mad because it’s their “me.” That’s their “me” and if you offend their “me,” that’s not good. You can do you, they can do me. But, when me and you don’t agree, it’s not pretty. So, what happens is this is what goes on in the church all the time. Two people come together with two different pyramid structures and it looks something like this. And all of a sudden they go, “Well, this is my main thing.”

And they go, “Well, that’s my main thing.”

“Well, your main thing’s not my main thing.”

“Well, your main thing’s not my main thing and I don’t know that I like you that much.”

And what happens is these pyramids like to go be with these pyramids, because it’s easier to get along with. And that pyramid we just want to push over here and do this. And that’s why there’s 40,000 denominations in America. And then what we do is when we find out “me’s,” we get together and we create a church that’s built around me. And it’s a country club. And we wonder why when this one walks in they don’t feel welcome. Because, “me” is not you. And since you’re not me and my main thing’s not your main thing and your main thing’s not my main thing, we just sort of can play the game of, “Ah, you do you and I’ll do me, but I really don’t want to hang out with you that much because you’re not like me.”

Right? But, listen: Every single one of us up here and up here, if we’re kingdom people, our number one concern is what’s Jesus’ number one concern? Because, the “me” isn’t about me. The “me” is about Him. And does Jesus have a main concern that’s above all the main concerns? Is there a reason why He came? And He says, “Yes. I came to seek and save the lost. That’s why I came.”

That’s your “me” now. Your “me,” number one above all things, is to seek and save that which is lost. Can I give you just a revelation here? There is no discipleship in the Church, there is no education in the Church, there is no worship in the Church, there is no community in the Church, there is no justice or social transformation in the Church until somebody moves from lost to found. And when we make those things the most important thing, what we forget is the most important thing. And the main thing is no longer the main thing, although we will risk all of it and we will do everything that we can to support the things that we feel are the “me.” When, in reality, if we are followers of Jesus, our “me” is to seek and save that which is lost. It’s to not sit around and wonder what happened to Mark Putterman.

So, what I want to do this weekend is I want to invite you to what I call front row seat living. I’ll do this with an illustration. Back in 99, I worked for Land Rover and they came up with this thing that you could win X amount of money if you would do a video walk around on one of their cars. So, I did what I would normally do. My wife calls me her little overachiever. I hired a professional studio to come in and record me. Well, they got all the videos in and they called me.

“Hey, Chip? Yeah. Your video is like way, way, way better than everybody else’s.”

I’m like, “Of course it is. I’m a winner. That’s what winners do. We win.”

I was a winner before Charlie Sheen was a winner. You know? I’m like, “I’m a winner. That’s just what it is.”

They were like, “Well, yeah. But, it’s so good that it’s just so bad how good it is.”

And I’m like, “Well, I’m winning.”

They’re like, “Well, okay. Here’s what we’ll do. We need to let this other guy be the winner, but we’re going to give you front row seats to the Super Bowl in Miami,” which was 1999 because they’d taken an ad out. The first time, and the think the only time, Land Rover ever took an ad out at the Super Bowl. So, I was like, “Man, front row seats? That sounds like a pretty good gig at the Super Bowl.”

So, there I was. Front row seats with my dad. We drove down. It was the Atlanta Falcons versus the Denver Broncos. And, for those of you all who know Tom Jones, that’s the only other time that the Atlanta Falcons had been in the Super Bowl. Both times they lost. Okay? He’s a lot bigger than me. I need to watch out. So, anyway, it was awesome. I was like, “Evander Holyfield is my new buddy. Tony Robbins was my friend. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right behind me.”

You know? It’s like I was right in the middle of all of them. It was like front row seats, man. And you know what it did? It scarred me for the rest of my life. I don’t even want to go anywhere anymore to a concert if I’m not on the front row. It’s like, “Man. Why would I go to that thing? I want the front row. How much is that on Stub Hub? Man, I want to be on the front row.”

But, man. It really did. It changed my life. And what I want to do is I want to convince you that there is a life you and I can live, being an invitational person, that we can see such an incredible life if we’ll just simply do the things that God has asked you and me to do and risk that for Him.

So, what I want to do is this: I want to show you how that works in the first century. Everybody knows the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul and Barnabas and his group, they sailed into what is called Pisidian Antioch. You could look it up. It’s Pisidian Antioch, or sometimes it’s called Antioch of Pisidia. When they rolled into that city, there was probably about 50,000 people there. Paul, as his custom was, would go into the synagogue, he would wait for the people to teach, and then they usually would ask him, “Would you like to say anything?”

They saw he was a visiting person and he would get up and he would talk. I want you to hear his sermon and I want you to feel the weight of his sermon and I want you to listen to this sermon as I sort of try my best to preach this sermon that Paul would have said. We’re going to join it sort of in the middle here.

He says, “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.”

They’re like, “Oh. Salvation, man? I want to hear about this. I’m leaning in.”

He says, “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, recognizing neither Him [Jesus] nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these [words in Scripture] by condemning Him.”

Now, isn’t this interesting? These are people that know Scripture. These are people that want people to know Yahweh. These are people that want people to live a better life. These are people that want to see people become more than they are. These are people that understand rights from wrongs. But, they missed the main thing completely. The very book that they were reading, they missed the main thing. Not only did they miss they main thing, they didn’t recognize Him when He walked among them. They didn’t even realize that the Scriptures that they were reading were all about Him in the first place. Oh, they were about things. The Scriptures that they read were about things and those things were main things to them and they took risks for those main things. But, they weren’t the main thing.

He says, “All these leaders, they blew it.”

Everybody in there’s going, “Man, this is going to be good. Nobody’s ever come in here and ripped on some religious leaders. They probably need to be ripped on a little bit. Nobody is bold enough to say it. Man, this guy is bold.”

He says, “And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilot that He be executed. And when they had carried all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”

I wonder how many times we as Christians and we as churches have put Jesus in the tomb to not be found because we didn’t understand the main thing and we were doing things that we thought were biblical, saying things that we thought were right, taking risks for those things, but we just simply weren’t doing the main thing?

“But, God raised Him from the dead.”

See, that is the main thing. Everybody in there’s going, “Whoa, man. This guy got up from the grave? Man. Whoa.”

He says, “Oh, yeah. And for many days. Not like one. Many days. He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. He walked with them all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem for many days. And these very ones are now His witnesses to the people. They’re the ones that now talk about the main thing. They saw the main thing, they know the main thing and they share about the main thing.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the Greek word for witnesses is the word we get our word martyr from?

“And we preach to you the good news. We have good news for you.”

Everybody in that synagogue is like, “Man, this is awesome, man. We’ve been doing the bulls, the goats, the blood and the fire. Man, I need some good news in my life, man. This is good news.”

He says, “Listen: Let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. You can be forgiven, guys. And through Him, everyone who believes is freed from all things from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses.”

They’re going, “Man, praise God. I’ve been doing all this work and all this effort. Man, you’re telling me I can be forgiven? You’re telling me that I can be freed? Man, where can I sign up?”

And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people begged them that they would come back for another performance the next Sabbath. I hear Christians all the time going, “We preach the Bible. We need to run people out of the church.”

Folks, when the Gospel was preached, as a general rule, the people that needed to hear it, the people that were on the outskirts of society, the people that were the prostitutes, the tax collectors and all those people that were looking for something in life to tell them that they had value and dignity, they responded to the Gospel like a bull out of a cage. Just kicking and bucking and so excited that it was good. It was the religious people that didn’t like to hear the good news.

“I want to run some people off.”

How about running some people in? He’s begging them. Begging them. “Dude, come on. You’ve got to come back. You have to come back. You know why? Because we’ve got people that need to hear this.”

This group of probably 150-200 people, look what happens. The next Sabbath, nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 50,000 people were in Pisidia. Do I think 50,000 people showed up? No. But, do I think thousands showed up? You betcha. They didn’t know what to do. Because, everybody’s going, “Man, I’ve got to go drag somebody in to hear this message, because this message will change your life.”

What’s your book of Revelation that you lead with? Or do we lead with Jesus or do we get distracted? So, here’s what I want to do. I want to just simply ask you this: Do you understand that these people drug everybody back to the synagogue because they heard the main thing from people who knew the main thing was the main thing? That’s what I want to do over the next few weeks with you all. I want to help equip everybody to have the tools in their toolbox to live an invitational life and not get distracted.

So, briefly, all I’m going to do is this. You don’t need to write these down. I just want you to think about this. These are some take home questions that I want you to just say to the Lord this week, pray to the Lord this week these things. This is it:

What obstacles do I have in my life that interfere with the main thing? What do people know me for? What do I yell about? What do I push on people? What do I tell people they should do and how they should live and all of this? What distracts people from the main thing? What obstacles, God, do I have in my life that interfere from the main thing?

Second thing: Am I willing to be uncomfortable at times to take a risk? Everybody’s been uncomfortable some time because it was worth it. This is the highest stakes game in town. This is why I say all the time that I don’t want anybody – I mean anybody – to have an easy time going to hell in Lakewood Ranch. I want to make it difficult for anybody to go to hell. Because, we’re out doing the main thing and telling people the good news.

“Hey, God’s not mad at you. He wants you to come home.”

Third thing: Who’s welcome at my table? Only the people that see the way you see? Only the people that like the things you like? Only the people that think about the issues the way you think about them? Or is everybody welcome at your table? And I’m going to ask you a question: Who was welcome at Jesus’ table? Everybody. If we’re going to have the table like Jesus, then we need to figure out how to get past some of this stuff.

And the last thing is this: Am I willing to commit this series to prayer? Am I willing to go home and pray about it? To take action in my life? To really say, “Hey, this is serious stuff,” and make sure I’m ready and willing to learn each weekend?”

I want you to just take this home. Because, over the next several weeks, we’re going to really talk about living an invitational life and we’re going to get some tools to learn how to do that. And it’s not going to be as difficult as you think it is. It’s really not. God gave us the provision and the power to be witnesses. We just need a little help and a little encouragement. And that’s what I want to do.

Because, I believe with all of my heart – and I’m not a prophet. I love Amos. He says, “I’m not a prophet, nor am I a son of a prophet.”

Chip Bennett can say, “I’m not a prophet and I’m the son of a dentist.”

So, that’s the way it is. I believe with all of my heart if we as a church can put the main thing as the main thing and we can learn to live invitational lives, I believe thousands of people over the next several years can be brought into the Kingdom of God. And you want to have a life change in your life? It’s when you are instrumental in being used by God to bring someone into the Kingdom of God. And you go out there with us and we get that horse trough out there and we put them under those waters of baptism. You will have an experience of a front row seat living that you never, ever, ever, ever thought that you could live.

And I believe if we can keep the main thing the main thing, I believe God can do some incredible things in our midst. So, let’s do that.

Let’s pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, I commit myself, this church and all of us to You. And I pray, Lord Jesus, that over the next several weeks we would really come to learn how to live an invitational life and, Lord, we would truly learn to keep the main thing the main thing. Lord, I pray that in Lakewood Ranch we would be a church that doesn’t have to show up on a Monday morning like I did and wonder what ever happened to Mark Putterman.

God, we have a change to seize the opportunity that You’ve given us here. A church that’s growing, a church that’s outreach focused, a church that’s in the community. Lord, if we can keep the main thing the main thing, Lord, it is probably incredible what You can do. So, Lord, we draw to You, we cling to You. Lord, we want to be a church about Jesus. And Jesus, we really want to lift You up because we know that when we lift You up and we proclaim Your praises, Lord, You draw people to You.

So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us. I pray that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord, that some of us would decide that we’re going to reach out this week and we’re going to drag some people back in and maybe we’ll have another Pisidian Antioch experience where we won’t even know where to put the people because they want to hear the good news.

We love You and thank You for it. In Christ’s name, and everybody said, “amen.”

Give the Lord a big hang clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.