Archive for the ‘Fellowship Church Grapevine’ tag
But Jesus said, “If you had the faith of a mustard seed, that’s all it takes.” And some of us have had that mustard seed faith and we’re like that man who had flown that plane one or two times. And we put our mustard seed faith in the right object—Jesus Christ. And we’ve made it from San Diego to Dallas Fort Worth.
Some of us are like that woman. We have about that much faith and we put our faith in the right object, Jesus Christ, and he’s taking us from San Diego to DFW, too. We got there, too.
Some of us here have frequent flyer faith. I mean, we’ve flown a lot. We have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles under our belts. And turbulence doesn’t bother us. We still get from San Diego to DFW.
We all have different amounts of faith; yet, we get where we need to go if we trust in the right object. All of those three passengers put their faith in the right object, this 737. And it got them where they needed to go. But I will tell you, Mr. Frequent Flyer had the most enjoyable flight. Why? Because he put his faith and trust in planes all over the world.
So when you’re in doubt; when you’re suspended between belief and non-belief; when you’re in two minds, don’t just stand there.
You know, it’s kind of like my father. I used to go to football games with my father, and Dad loves to yell at the referees. He doesn’t cuss at them; he’s just very competitive. And here’s what he would say to the referee’s, “Move around! You’re killing the grass!”
As a little kid, I was thinking, “What’s he talking about?” And the ref would look up like, “Isn’t that that pastor in a local church?” I’d sit there with that “He’s not my dad” look.
One time we went to a place where a friend of mine said “you gotta go to this place”. You, you can rent this house on the beach; it’s awesome; it’s incredible. We show up at this house and this house is so tiny with 4 of us in there, we’re just like this. (Ed gestures) Man, it was, it was just insane. And at the time, it wasn’t that fun. You know water just dribbling out of the shower; one shower. We just throw the kids in and okay you’re through; the other one, okay you’re through. (audience laughter) And now we look back and we talk that wheels off trip more than any. The rude people we encountered, we laugh at that now, now at the time we didn’t laugh. But now we laugh. God’s smiles at that though, isn’t that cool? He does.
When I was a kid I wanted this, this, this toy called Tiger Joe. Mom and Dad please if they’d give me Tiger Joe for Christmas, please, please, please. Woke up Christmas morning, there was Tiger Joe. (Ed gestures) You know it was off the hook. And, I noticed, and I remember this as a kid, that my parents were enjoying Tiger Joe more than I was. And I thought, man, that’s kinda weird. But now I’m a parent. I understand. They were enjoying me, their son, playing with the gift they had given me. God has given us this gift called (Ed hits symbol on drum) rest. He wants us to recalibrate and re-prioritize and refresh our lives physically, and spiritually, and emotionally. And God smiles when we enjoy this gift. Six and one; six and one; six and one; do you feel it? (Ed beats drums to that rhythm)
(Ed leads in prayer) I’ll see you next weekend.
Well, here is the question: Would the story be a tragedy like, “Ouch, man, what were they smoking here? Why did they do…?” Would it be a tragedy that talked about a waste of money or a comedy? Because see as a believer, as a coast-to-coast follower of Christ, the story written about your checkbook and mine should be a comedy.
It should be like, “Hahaha, I can’t believe they’re writing that check, man. Haha, this doesn’t make sense. This is just totally off the chain, man. Look at that.” What does scripture say? God loves a cheerful giver. Do you know what the word “cheerful” means? In the original language it is pronounced hilarious. We get the word hilarious from it. “Hahaha, I can’t believe I’m returning 10 percent of what I make to the local church. Hahaha.”
You know, I have known some people who have tithed, who have brought, who have returned 10 percent to the house for a long, long time. And I have never met one who said, “You know what, I have tithed for a couple years, and I quit. It just didn’t work.” I have never met someone like that, ever.
Now, I have known a lot of people who have tithed for a long time, like myself and Lisa, and have gone through difficult seasons where it so tough to write the check. We had to just sit back and die laughing, “Have we lost our minds? Hahahaha.” I’m serious. And I’m not saying it is easy for us. It is a struggle, like with anyone else. We discovered a long time ago that we’re blessed to be blessings.
You’re thinking, “This guy’s going to probably rip it off. I’m not going to give it to him!”
Maybe your son or daughter says, “Hey Dad, can I borrow your iPOD? I promise to give it back.”
You definitely don’t let them borrow it, because you’ll never see it again! Maybe, though, your spouse asks you, “Can I borrow the iPOD, honey?”
“Yes.” I mean, hopefully you trust your spouse. Your spouse is where it is good, and you can count on your spouse’s promise!
Well, when God makes a promise, he boldly backs it up. When God says things, he does things. We serve a God who does what he says and says what he does. God wants the promises to be operative in our lives. He wants us to walk in his currency. He wants us to stand secure on his promises. Come hell or high water, we can stand on the promises of God. Broke, busted, and disgusted, we can stand on the promises of God. When rogue winds hit, we can stand on the promises of God. When your best friend disses you, you can stand on the promises of God. When someone walks out the door, you can stand on the promises of God. When you get the phone call, you can stand on the promises of God.
What is a promise? A promise is simply a declaration assuring that a person will or will not do something. We live in a culture of the empty promise. We have so many people just kind of cruising through, floating around. But talk is cheap.
My parents got me a John boat when I was a kid. It was an old green, aluminum boat, a cheap thing. They gave me one paddle.
The church is a table, thus it should serve the food in a creative and compelling way, but to get to the table, right, you’ve got to walk through the door. Usually you’ve got to walk through a door to get to the table, to sit down at the table, and to break bread.
Jesus said, “I am the door.” What’s the door for? What’s the door for? A door demands a response. We need to cross the threshold of the door to get to the table and to dine on the bread of life.
I have an opportunity to travel a lot. Just recently I’ve been to Seattle, I spoke there several times. I’ve been to Lakeland, Florida. I spoke at a University there. That was cool. Then I went to the southeast. I was in South Carolina, spoke there several times. Then several days ago I was in St. Louis doing some speaking, and I usually talk to a lot of leaders about a lot of things, but one of my favorite things to talk about, of course, is an Acts 2 prevailing creative church.
And usually I will talk about the table because the table, man, that’s where it’s at because we serve the food in a creative and compelling way. We’re giving samples of the savior, the bread of life to masses of humanity filing by, and we need to walk through the door to get to the table. And, I will describe these chairs to leaders, and I’ll talk about the different chairs and the ecosystem.
And invariably after I finish talking, and this has happened to me for years and years and years, leaders—men and women—will come up to me and they’ll go, “Hey Ed, you know what? There was a chair that you talked about and this chair is the chair that challenges me. Sometimes it messes me up. Man, what do I do with that other chair, like the fifth chair??
Look at Acts 2:42, a huge verse, “They were continually devoting themselves…” Remember, spiritual maturity is intentional. They devoted themselves, read here, “They committed themselves to the Apostles’ teaching…” Okay, let’s call teaching, feeding just for now. “…and to fellowship…” That’s a good name for a church, isn’t it? A bunch of fellows rowing a ship in the same direction, I love that. “…to the breaking of bread…”
Now, the breaking of bread is cool, because this meant they shared regular meals together. Also, it meant they shared communion together. Now the Bible never tells us how often to celebrate communion. It doesn’t say once a day, once a month, once a quarter, or once a year. It doesn’t say. It just says do it regularly. But notice the fellowship, the connectivity. And the word fellowship, do you know what it means? To be in common, to have something in common. What’s the common denominator? Jesus.
So they devoted themselves: to teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread. [The verse continues] “…and prayer.”
Let’s call fellowship walking and let’s call prayer, talking. So we’ve got feeding and walking and talking. Say it with me, feeding, walking and talking.
Feeding. We’re to feed on what? The Word of God. Infants have to feed on the Word of God. Because when someone is born again, you watch, the enemy will put some bogus believer or somebody with some faux, funky faith in their life to try to keep them stymied and stagnant, to try to keep them off the path of going on to spiritual maturity – especially in North America where you have so many different movements and different false teachers out there.
That’s why spiritual parents, the mature, we have to get into what kids and babies are into. Because the great parent know the hottest DVD’s, they know the lingo, they know the Sesame Street Band-Aids, they know the great restaurants, and they know it because they’re parents.
When I eat the tithe, when I discard the seeds, I’m disagreeing with my nature. I’m living contrary to my nature. When it comes to generosity, it’s all about God. God is a generous God. It’s woven into the very fabric and framework of who he is.
Number two: Generosity is all about lifestyle. It should transcend everything we do, say, touch and feel.
I helped start Fellowship Church 16 years ago and it’s been just an incredible ride. Over the years people come up to me and they’ve said this to me, “Pastor, you know I have a deal that’s going to come through in about six months and I’m going to tell you something, it’s going to be big time. And I want to tell you when this deal comes through, Pastor, when it comes through, then I’m going to step up and I’m going to do the stuff that you’ve been talking about and the Bible been talking about. I’m telling you. I’m going to step up and be a player. I’m going to be a heavy hitter, Pastor, you can count on me.” And someone else, “Hey Ed, listen man, I’m involved in this deal and when it closes man, I’m talking millions, dude. And I promise you when it closes, then I’ll probably be your number one donor.”
Now I’ve heard that countless times. The when and then people, that’s what I call them. I’ve never seen one dime from them. Never. I look at who gives what and who robs God. I know. That’s part of what I do. That’s part of what our financial team does. It’s part of what our Board of Directors do. I know, I have never met one to come through, so don’t give me that weak stuff. Especially don’t give God that weak stuff. You’re eating the tithe.
My instincts are for self. I want to take care of Number 1. I want to do what makes me look good, what makes me feel good, what gives me pleasure. That’s the name of the game. Look at verse 4 in Philippians 2. It says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”. The Bible never commands us, I think it’s very interesting, to look out for ourselves. It doesn’t. “Thou shalt take care of number one”. It doesn’t say that because it’s a natural thing. It’s a supernatural thing to really put other people’s concerns above our own, to treat other people like bona fide VIPs, bona fide celebrities. That is when the action starts. What am I talking about? Do you realize Philippians 2:3 is one of the best definitions of love that you could find anywhere? Regard one another as more important than yourself; and this definition of love is crystallized in today’s section of Scripture, John 3:16.
Take your Bibles and turn there. John 3:16, a popular verse, a verse that most all of us recite. In fact, you watch NFL football games, after the extra point, there is a banner “John 3:16″. You usually see that rainbow head guy waving. He’s the one that makes all the banners. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. Think about that. God, I’m talking about the sovereign God of the universe, loved you, loved me, self-centered me, self-centered you, so much that He put our needs above His needs and He stepped down the staircase of heaven with a baby in His arms, and His Son, the second person in the Trinity, died on the cross for all of our iniquities, for all of our transgressions, for all of our failures,
So no, as a believer, I never judge. I never condemn; nor should you. But, we point people to a God who does. If we roll the dice and say, “I saw…I thought…I felt;” If we say, “Yeah, Lord, I did obey you,” but we’re not really doing the real deal, we are out in the elements and we can get pelted by rain and hammered by hail. Now some of you are thinking this… I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, “Okay man, what if someone in authority over me asks me to do something that’s illegal, immoral or against God’s word? What about that?” Now, that happens about five percent of the time. Don’t focus on the five percent so much that you miss your own Micmash, that you miss your own Amalekites, okay?
But let’s do talk about the five percent of the time. Because here’s what some people have told me over the years about their boss or manager asking them to do the wrong thing. One of the deals goes something like this: “Hey, Ed, my boss tells me I have got to take my clients to gentlemen’s clubs. I’ve got to entertain them there, because that’s where we do real business. And if I take them to gentlemen’s clubs, we’ll make more money and we’ll have more clients. What should I do, Ed?”
I go, “Man, that’s easy. Just take them to Hooter’s!” No, I’m kidding. I woke a couple of guys up, “What?” No, don’t take them there. What do you do as a believer? That’s a good situation? Or, what if your boss says, “Lie about the product. Tell them the check is in the mail. Kind of exaggerate a little bit.”
Have you ever thought about how much time we spend getting ready? We get ready for a trip by packing. We get ready for a test by studying. We had better get ready for the Second Coming by dressing. Here is what Jesus did. He talked about a wedding. A wealthy homeowner had a bunch of servants working for him. Jesus described the man going off to a wedding feast. And while he was away at this feast, which might last 7 days in the Jewish culture, the head servant got all the other servants together. He said, “Listen, guys. We have got to get dressed in readiness. We have got to be ready for our master’s return.” So the Bible says that they girded their loins. Back in Biblical times they wore long, flowing robes. When people girded their loins they would take the back part of the robe and tuck it in their belt. It kind of compares to us rolling up our sleeves. They would get ready to work because they had no clue when the master would return. But the chief guy said that they had to get ready for his return.
Now I have got to stop and ask you a question. Are you dressed in readiness? Are you really dressed in readiness? Because I believe if Christ were to come again right now, some of us would be raptured. Some of us would be snatched away but others, quite frankly, would be left behind.
Last week I was out of town. Wednesday evening, late into the night, I found myself preparing and studying for this series. I had my Bible open, my legal pad out since I am kind of computer unfriendly, and a big old mug of coffee. I was in a quaint dining area just trying to write this stuff down.