[00:00:00] Well, hi everybody. And I would just want to begin by saying it is so good to get to bring the message today to get to preach. And I want to begin by just saying welcome. And I just want to thank you. And I say this over and over again, but church, you are phenomenal and man you have just done so many good things throughout this pandemic, and I, I'm just so proud of you.
[00:00:17] And I'm also so proud of our staff that have filled in for me while I've spent some time kind of doing, getting away and being with God, but the team that stepped in and preached the summer. I honestly just can't say enough good about them. And if we were all in the room, I would just insist, we give them a standing ovation, but the truth is each and every week, I couldn't wait to hear what they were going to say.
[00:00:42] And to hear the message and I couldn't believe the way, and it was commented on several times that God orchestrated kind of a theme throughout our summer. And it just kind of wove through the different messages and just became really clear folks where to love and where to care and where to serve and where to get involved.
[00:00:58] And as I just listened to [00:01:00] this, I just thought, my goodness, the spirit of God is so good. And something else wants to tell you is, you know, it's hard because we have so many good communicators on our staff. And every year, you know, I rotate some of them in during the summer months. And, there's others that are really good
[00:01:15] they just didn't get a chance chance to preach this year. And I just go, God, thank you. Thank you for having such an incredibly deep bench and thanks for Central. So thanks for you. And I'm glad to be here. Now, I want to say this at the beginning of this year at the beginning of 2020, and none of us imagined that we would have the 2020 we've had, I mean, this one is just totally come out of left field and had no idea what was in store and many would suggest even that the changes that we've seen in our culture and all that's happened is possibly just the beginning of what's actually coming. Now that's an ominous statement. And yet the point is we're in the midst of something that we just realized, this is changing a bunch of stuff and it's messing with us. But the reality of it is we are now, as people [00:02:00] incredibly stressed out, we're stressed out.
[00:02:02] We're stressed out because we're tired of a pandemic, we have Corona fatigue. We're tired of this. We're stressed out because of all of the racial tensions that are going on in our country. Probably go all the way back to the sixties to come even close to similar to what was then is what's happening now. We have economic fears and worries, and we have an election coming up
[00:02:24] that some are saying it's going to have the biggest consequence in the history of the United States. I heard recently, like you gotta go back to the revolutionary war, the civil war to begin to understand what's at stake at this election. And folks, these are just difficult, difficult times to be living through. And what's happening to all of us in our culture is there's this spirit of vitriol that has been unleashed and we are lashing out and we are angry.
[00:02:53] Now, the question is, why are we this way? Why is this happening? Well, I don't know why the pandemic's [00:03:00] happening, but I know why we're lashing out. Folks, we're stressed out. We are absolutely stressed out. We are at the end of our rope on so many things. Some would argue that our culture is at the breaking point.
[00:03:14] And what happens when you're stressed out. Well, when you're stressed, you know, you let loose, you, you lash out and you release emotion. And so emotions are being released and because people are stressed, you're seeing anger like you've never seen it before. Not in a long time. You're just seeing anxiety cut loose.
[00:03:34] You're looking at fear that is just running a muck. Personally, I think people are incredibly lonely. Community has been taken away from them. That's led to a sense of depression. And then there's this general sense of a loss of control. Like everything is just like, I can't reign anything in. And folks I've always said, you know, control's an illusion.
[00:03:58] But, we've [00:04:00] lost the illusion of having any control. Now, if all of that were just the problem, that would be a big problem, but that's not all the problem. The problem is bigger because through all of this, we've also really struggled to come to an understanding of who we can trust. Who can you trust?
[00:04:16] Who when they tell you something you go, that's true, because I know so-and-so said that and if they said that they know what they're talking about, that's true. Who can you trust? Can you trust the news outlets? Let me just say something, we've fallen a long way from the days of Walter Cronkite.
[00:04:34] Now I know that Walter Cronkite, some of you've never heard of. Walter Cronkite. In fact, here's who he is. Walter Cronkite was a newscaster in the sixties and the seventies, and he had a way of telling the news. When he got done telling the news, you just go, I believe this guy. He was cited and considered the most trusted man in America while he was a newscaster.
[00:05:00] [00:05:00] And he used to conclude his broadcast with, then that's the way it is. And if he said, that's the way it is, you knew, that's the way it was. But these days we don't have that. Again, I'm going to give it a simple illustration. Please don't take offense to this. Just listen to
[00:05:18] what I'm trying to say. Nowadays, what happens is we have, we have news that's not so much just trying to inform you of what happened, but they're trying to coach you in the way you should feel about what happened. It's not just, he used to tell you the facts and you had to sort it out. Now they'll tell you what they tell you.
[00:05:37] And then they'll tell you what you ought to do, which is why people get so stressed anymore just even watching the news. So let me just say this though. If you were to watch, let me put two opposites. Okay. If you were to take Fox news over here and CNN over here. You realize, unless you're the most unaware of unaware people, you realize that their point of view and their point of view are radically different points of view.
[00:05:54] And if you're hearing this, this one tells the event that happened, and this one [00:06:00] tells the event that happened, you would hear amazingly divergent stories, different narratives of what exactly is happening. And we're all aware of this and it's making us incredibly uncomfortable. Again, it's not what you got to know.
[00:06:15] It's what you ought to feel about what we just told you. And it's leading, it's leading to this question. Is truth so incredibly relative that we can just interpret it any way that we want to interpret it. It seems like truth is now up for grabs. It's become elusive. It's become ethereal. It's out there in the clouds and you can pretty much choose to believe whatever you want to believe in.
[00:06:37] And you'll find people who agree with you, and there's all kinds of conspiracy theories, so you can find a crowd, but does it make it true? Who knows anymore what to believe. But here's what I can tell you. Whichever, wherever you on the bandwidth and there's other news agencies, I can promise you that your views and your narrative is being shaped by who you're [00:07:00] listening to.
[00:07:02] Because, we were made to trust people, it's in our nature. We want to have somebody tell us the truth. That's your problem man cause I'm not listening to any of those. I'm not into any of the network news. I don't watch cable news. No, I get all my news through Facebook. I get all my news through Twitter or Instagram.
[00:07:20] TikTok that's where I get all my news from TikTok. Can I remind you that the biggest scandal of the last decade or certainly one of the biggest scandals of the last decade was all around the potential misinformation that was fed us as a public that involved a presidential election. Folks were in trouble.
[00:07:39] So now we just have come up with what we call fake news. It's like, that's just fake news. Because it isn't true. So we have a dilemma. We can't trust the cable. We can't trust the television. We can't trust social media. We go for me it's my family, man. I just listen to my family and whatever they say. How [00:08:00] many of us if we were in the same room together?
[00:08:02] If we took a poll would say we're in harmony with the family of origin, our family of origin. We all agree. And some hands would go up and you know what, I've also asked how many of us are estranged from our family over these sorts of issues that we've been told, many hands would go up as well. Go in my family
[00:08:19] we haven't talked since the last election. We go, well, that's too bad for you because I just have friends. And I get my information from my friends. Here's the problem though. Okay. Many of us have learned how to curate our friends. Like we curate our news. In other words, I only run around with people who see the same things.
[00:08:38] I see. Say the same things I say and understand it's called confirmation bias, and it's really easy for us to just surround ourselves with the people who just tell us what we already believe. It makes us comfortable. But folks, the reality is is that our circles are getting smaller and smaller and the world is shrinking.
[00:08:57] It's closing in on us. [00:09:00] Because we aren't able to sit with somebody who sees something differently than we might see it and actually learn anymore. So where are we going to, where are you going to find truth anymore in the world we're living in?
[00:09:14] Can I suggest one source that is beyond any hint of corruption or bias? One source who's going to tell it the way it is. And one source that you can actually set your clock by. Folks, I'm talking about the word of God, the word of God, this perennially fresh forever true forever faithful testimony of God.
[00:09:38] You know, Jesus said this about the word of God. He said, sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. This is a prayer to his Father. God, this is truth. This can be believed. This can be counted on. And Jesus said set them apart by that, you know, it wasn't just Jesus, this is a theme all throughout the Bible. And of course, for the sake of time, I can't [00:10:00] walk y'all throughout the Bible.
[00:10:00] Let me show you a couple of passages out of the Psalms. The law of the Lord is perfect. Refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple, you can count on this. That was the point. You can count on this. You can believe this. And then Psalm 1:19 said this, all your commands are true.
[00:10:19] Long ago, I learned from your statutes that you establish them to last forever. God's word is not on a whim. It doesn't come and go. It doesn't sometimes say the truth. And sometimes it's in a bad mood and it doesn't tell you the truth. Folks, the word of God is true, but here's the question. We put it out here.
[00:10:36] Let's just wrestle with this. Since this is true. All right. How much influence is the word of God having on your life these days?
[00:10:49] How much influence, how much time are you spending in the word being informed by God, through the word and through prayer [00:11:00] compared to what you're spending time on, any of these other outlets, how much influence are you allowing God to have over your life right now? Can I suggest that probably the thing that would take away a lot of stress in a lot of our lives is if we would simply turn off
[00:11:15] the TV, turn off Netflix, get off your computer. Get on your couch, and open your Bible. Get in your chair, open the word and let the word speak into your heart. Now, I just want to say this for it's been exciting to watch what's happening in our church. And I know you don't see this. You're not aware of it, but through this pandemic, because we've been forced to rely so much on, you know, the whole online experience, the scope and scale of the church has magnified. And so many more people around the world are involved, are hearing the messages. And I welcome all of you by the way. The thing that's fascinating is as this is happening, we start to realize that we, [00:12:00] you know, this church has, this church has been built on a bedrock and there are certain things that if you've been around here, you just know, but if you haven't been around here, maybe we didn't cover any of this
[00:12:09] maybe the summer. But I want to just in this message, I want to walk you through some stuff that is really important to understand who we are. You see the bedrock verse that this church is built upon is Luke 9:23. And if you've been around or you've heard this so many times but Luke 9:23 was Jesus's own qualifying what it takes to be one of his, if you want to sign up and you want to be a Jesus person, he said, let me tell you what the requirements are.
[00:12:31] And look, what he said, whoever wants to be my disciple. That means to be a follower, whoever wants to be in my camp, whoever wants to be in my entourage, whoever wants to call themselves by my name, they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. And I said this many times, this is the least preached verse in the New Testament because it's so incredibly un-American and so hard.
[00:12:53] It's so challenging. In fact, so let's just do this, which of these is the hardest to do. Okay. Which of these is the hardest to do. To [00:13:00] humble yourself? Okay, that'd be really hard. To die to yourself. Oh man. That'd be crazy hard. To follow Jesus. Humble yourself, die to yourself, follow Jesus. What? These are my choices and Jesus, didn't say you can pick one of the three.
[00:13:16] Jesus said here's what the cost is to be one of my followers. You humble yourself, you die to yourself and you follow. It's hard. If we ever thought, or if anyone ever told us that signing up to be a follower of Jesus was going to be easy and it was going to make life comfortable and simple. Folks, we were duped.
[00:13:34] You were duped. Somebody told you something that's simply not true. This is a hard life to live. If we're followers of Jesus, we can't expect the path to be easy. It wasn't intended to be easy. It was tended to be challenging. And I believe with all my heart, this is the most challenging thing you'll ever attempt.
[00:13:52] And let me put that in context, no matter how hard, however hard your job is. How ever hard your marriages, however hard it is to parent. [00:14:00] That's not the hardest assignment you were given. The hardest assignment was to stay close to Jesus. Follow him, humble yourself, die to yourself. Follow is hard stuff, but it begs a couple of other questions I want to wrestle with.
[00:14:16] Okay. A couple of other questions. How far behind Jesus can I be and still be considered a follower? I mean, how far back can I be? I mean, I'm not even close. I'm so far back, but I'm following Him. How far behind can you get before somebody goes, you you're not even ballpark, like His ideas are so radical to you.
[00:14:39] You say you're following, but you're not. And then a second question that plays into that. How far behind do I prefer to be? I mean, like, where am I most comfortable? Like how far back behind Jesus. Can I suggest something about those of us who want to be followers of Jesus? I think this is an important thing to understand.
[00:15:00] [00:15:00] If you're following Jesus and you're serious about being a follower of Jesus, it doesn't concern you what the final destination of anything is. All that matters is where's He going? And where's he leading. All you gotta do is pay attention to Him. Not the destination. You don't have to understand where's this all go.
[00:15:17] What's it all mean? How's it all going to end? You don't need to know that all you need to know is just follow Him. Just follow him wherever He goes. Follow Him. I have been spending time with God and just going, God, I want to listen. I want to hear You. And, every summer, I re-calibrate, which again, that's a whole nother tradition in our church that for years and years now we've done that, but it gives me time to just quit doing so much and obviously really difficult time to try to listen to God right now with all the screaming and clamoring, but trying to listen to God and going God,
[00:15:54] what are we doing? So I have questions that [00:16:00] have become my prayers that I have just prayed through these last several months and just said, God, I need to know this. And, and really let me just kind of walk you through. God, where do we go from here? Okay. Where do we go from here? This is chaos. Where do we go from here?
[00:16:14] Which really kind of breaks it down into some other questions. Number one. Where do I go as a person? Where do you go as a person. God, where do you want me to follow you to? What does this mean for me personally? What do I do? That's kind of a question we've got to wrestle with. Here's another one. Where do we go as a church?
[00:16:31] God, what are we, what do we become? What do we start doing that we're not doing? What do we stop doing that we've been doing? What should we be doing? What should we not be doing? These are all the questions I've wrestle with. And then the simple question, what should be our agenda? What should be our agenda as a church. Now, I want to point out something and I want to make this very clear.
[00:16:54] Our agenda as a church, is crystal clear in one very real sense. This is not what I'm [00:17:00] referencing. Our crystal clear agenda of the churche is that we are to help people discover who Jesus is. And then raise up, help them become fully devoted followers. And the idea being, you know, that they are owners of their faith.
[00:17:13] So we'd help them discover and help them own their faith so that they walk consistent. That's our goal for all of us as a church, but what should be the priorities this year? This is what I'm referring to. When I say the agenda, what should we be about, what should we start or stop?
[00:17:30] What should we begin? What should we, those are hard questions to answer. And as I prayed this prayer, I feel like the spirit of God is pressed into me on this. And three words can sum it up. This is what I've heard from God. This is what I have had confirmed over and over again. Three words, say it all. You might go, well, those would not be my three words, but I'll tell you what, this is what I heard from God.
[00:17:52] Let me show you the three words. Number one, Jesus. It's gotta be about Jesus first and foremost, it's gotta be about Jesus. It's gotta be about [00:18:00] Jesus. Not about a bunch of thousand of other things that are issues gotta be about Jesus. Never forget. It's about Jesus. Number one is Jesus. Number two is it's gotta be about loving people.
[00:18:10] Love. It's gotta be about love and I can't get around that. And I'll explain this in just a moment. And third it's gotta be about unity. These are the three words that God has just pounded on me. It's got to be about Jesus, it's gotta be about love and it's gotta be about unity. Now, often what we want to do is we want to pick. Okay.
[00:18:31] Alright. So what are my choices, Jesus, loving, unity., I'll take Jesus for 500. The idea being, you know Cal, I really dig Jesus. He's awesome. Okay. Yeah. A little bit of love, a little bit. Unity, that's way too hard to get to. So let's skip that. Or maybe we'll pick two. I like Jesus and unity, but the whole love that's not my thing, or I like Jesus and love but unity or, hey man, I'm all for love and unity, but skip over Jesus.
[00:18:56] These words are so fascinating because if you notice them [00:19:00] there there's two qualities about these words. I find interesting that number one, they're independent of each other. In others. I can tell you about Jesus. And I can avoid using those words, but I could adequately tell you about Jesus, even if I chose not to use those words. I can tell you about love.
[00:19:15] Love is a separate subject. We can talk about love. Never mention Jesus never mention unity. And I could tell you about unity and we can never talk about love. And we can never talk about Jesus because they're independent words they're independent thoughts, but they're also intertwined because they become their best reference to each other.
[00:19:32] They best explain each other. So that, in other words, if I want to tell you about Jesus. Oh man. Let me talk about love. And I'm talking about unity. The best explanation I can give you. It's about love and it's about unity. If I want to talk about love, I got to tell you about Jesus. And if I'm going to tell you about where Jesus is gonna take you and what he wants.
[00:19:47] I want to talk about unity, if want to think about unity. Oh, let's talk about Jesus. Let's talk about love. And folks you've got to understand what this means is this is the agenda of our church. This is what I believe God has told me to tell you. [00:20:00] Church, three things we have to do. We must number one, lift Jesus up.
[00:20:07] First and foremost, keep your eyes on Jesus. I know it's so tempting to put your eyes on so many other things and trust so many other sources. Trust Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Lift Jesus up. Number two, we've got to lean into love. Folks, I don't know how to tell you this, but if the church, not this church, certainly this church with the church at large, if the church would just simply lean into love and we could so permeate the culture with the kind of love that God wanted us to have.
[00:20:36] I'm telling you, we could end the chaos of so much of what's going on, lean into love and third press toward unity. Unity is a difficult destination. There's a thousand things that can blow the church apart, Satan, wants no more than to divide and conquer the church it's always been a strategy. You have to pursue unity.
[00:20:57] You have to press into unity. You have to [00:21:00] preserve it. It's a, it's a difficult thing. But I feel like this is exactly what God wants us to do. Now, let me say something to you of all those words. One word, again, I want to focus on it now, but I'll focus on it each week. There's one, there's just one message that I think defined Jesus.
[00:21:21] And it was one of those three words. He said this thing over and over again, He demonstrated it over and over again. He lived by it. He died by it. It was His defining truth. You, you could say very clearly it was the calling He called His followers to follow. It was a calling He called His followers to follow.
[00:21:45] What is this thing? Folks, this thing is as relevant today as it was the first day He ever spoken. He said it over and over again. Let me just for the sake of time again, I can't show you everywhere He said it, but let me just walk you through this, a new command I give [00:22:00] you love one another. You know, there's nothing new about that.
[00:22:03] Oh yeah. As I have loved you. So you must love one another. What, what do you mean? As I have loved you? How did he love us? He loved us when we were so unbelievably unworthy of being loved. Romans 5:8. When we were yet sinners, he died for us. He loved us when there's absolutely no justifying why he would care about us.
[00:22:24] There was nothing attractive about us. As I have loved you. He loved us so much that He died for us. He laid his life down for us. He goes, as I have loved you, this is my command. For those of you who want to be a follower, you want to be a disciple of mine. In John 15. Said it again. My command is this love each other, as I have loved you. It's crystal clear.
[00:22:53] It's not hard to understand. Jesus, I'm a little foggy here. No, none of us are. We know what He said. Here's another one. Just a couple of verses [00:23:00] later. This is my command. Love each other. Can I point out what He did not say? I think it is so important we spend moment listened to what he did not say. He did not say this is my wish.
[00:23:13] This is my hope. This is my plea. This is my dream. This is my aspiration. This is my suggestion. That's not what He said. This is my command. If we call Jesus Lord, he's only the Lord of our life. If we put him as our Supreme authority. Only Jesus can be Lord. And He can't be Lord if we won't follow. It was the defining mark of every true believer Jesus said by this.
[00:23:46] Literally the world will know that you are one of mine. By this, all men will know that you're one of my disciples. One of my followers, it's going to be the proof. The evidence will be in the living and the evidence will be in the loving [00:24:00] and people will see it. And folks, I need to explain that this is a pass fail test.
[00:24:05] This is not. Hey, man, are you going to curve, you know, grade on a curve and kind of get like a C minus. This is you pass or you fail. And I don't think sometimes we get it as clearly as the early church got it. You see, they heard what Jesus said. They heard it loud and clear. The apostle John said it this way.
[00:24:24] He said, we know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. No equivocating, it was crystal clear. This will be the mark. If you love one another, if love is that which defines your life. Then you can say, I'm a follower of Jesus. He went on to say this, whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
[00:24:51] How did Jesus live? Well, he was a walking demonstration of what it means to put other people ahead of yourself. You see if you, if you [00:25:00] flunk the love one another command. You flunk. This is bedrock. This is foundational. This is the 101. And the problem is, we want to skip the 101. Get through the 201 and the 301 and the 401 and all the fringe things it's like, Jesus goes, no, no, no.
[00:25:20] So who who's going to be willing to love people like Jesus loved. Who's going to be willing to follow that. Well, let me point out a couple of things, only those who are serious about being Jesus followers, only those who were taking seriously their commitment. Only those whose greatest desire is to be faithful.
[00:25:43] Is that you, is that me? God's got to search our souls on that, but can I just state the obvious and be honest and many are going to take a pass. Many are going to go. That's just crazy hard. Many will take a vain [00:26:00] attempt at it. Yeah. Well, I tried man. And to make some excuse about. Others will just talk about how incredibly difficult it is and absolved themselves of all responsibility and go
[00:26:11] yeah, He couldn't seriously have meant that. Reminds me of something GK Chesterton once said, which I've shared with you before, but it always bears repeating. He said the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting it has been found difficult and left untried. Oh God, I can't love one another like you're talking about here. I can't love like you loved, this is my command. Wow. Which brings me to, as I'm wrapping this up, I want to get the big idea out here. This is the idea. A truth learned, but not applied, is not a truth learned. Folks, this is as basic to Christianity as it gets. This is as elementary of teaching.
[00:26:58] This is as foundational as the [00:27:00] foundation can possibly be. And many of us have not got it. We demonstrate we don't have it because our lives don't align with the values and the heart of Jesus, because we are spewing things. And we're reacting in certain ways, and our anger is geting the best of us and our behavior is being justified.
[00:27:24] A truth learned, but not applied is not a truth learned. So let me just challenge you here to think about this. The question then becomes, how far will you go? How far will you go? How far will you go? I mean, will you go like so far to Jesus, like that whole know second mile thing, when somebody wrongs you if they ask you to go one mile, go a second.
[00:27:51] You know, will you go a second mile? Oh no, I'm not doing that. How about that whole turn the other cheek? That was the one when you're wrong to [00:28:00] turn the other cheek and you go, no, no, I'm not turning the other cheek. How about that thing about, you know, when somebody wrongs you, you need to forgive them over and over and over.
[00:28:08] You need to forgive them. How about that one? No, I'm not going to do that. How about that whole idea that he taught about, you need to treat people with the same respect you expect to be treated with? Well, I'm not going to do that. That's way too hard. You see what it really begs us to understand, is you can't do those things.
[00:28:35] Listen to me, church, you can't do those things. If you don't pass the level one another test, you can't. If I don't take seriously what Jesus meant as far as what I need to do to learn how to love one another I am not going to turn the other cheek and I am not going to go a second mile and I am not going to forgive.
[00:28:53] And I don't care if I mistreat people. I got to pass this one to [00:29:00] prepare me for the harder things. And I can't pick and choose. You see the problem for so many of us church, please listen to me. What's wrong with us is that we say, we say to ourselves and we say to God, God, I believe in You, but I'm only willing to go this far and we draw some line out here. We go this far, God, I will only go this far. I won't go any further with you. I'll go this far. Where is the, this far point for you that no passing that point. You absolve yourself of responsibility. When you draw that line, where's the line? Because here's what I want to tell you that I believe that God is telling us, I want you to go that far.
[00:29:47] And then I want you to go beyond, I want you to love that far, and then I want you to love beyond that point. Love beyond. What do you mean? Well, let me give you some things to think about, like for instance, [00:30:00] we're gonna have to love beyond our fears. See so many of us will go to the edge of our fears and we'll go no
[00:30:06] I'm scared. Okay. I'm done. How about loving beyond our comfort? I get really uneasy God when you want me to put me in those situations and you expect me to say and do and be, and I get it, I get a little edgy you about that. Love beyond our differences. Loving beyond our differences. Folks, we cannot reconcile racism issues in America
[00:30:27] if we cannot love beyond our differences, we can't get there. Jesus never gave us the option of only going that far. We got to keep going. How about this one? Love beyond our politics. You've got to kidding. Love beyond our politics. No way. Folks, Jesus never said love up to the edge of your politics and then stop loving.
[00:30:47] And how about this idea of love beyond your certainties. Get to where it's really uncomfortable. Get to where it's really uneasy. Love beyond! Don't [00:31:00] stop, where it gets uneasy love beyond. As I've wrestled with this idea of love beyond I need to say a couple things. Number one, I really do believe that has become the heartbeat of our church.
[00:31:13] That's what it means to live out Luke 9:23. It means to love beyond. Some have referred to this as a just cause. It's the most compelling idea that holds this church together. God, if we could just become a people that would do that love beyond, and it explains so much of what we're trying to do as a church and what we're striving for and reaching for. Love beyond.
[00:31:38] That's why we exist. By the way, these are also just so you know, a little heads up. These are the titles because of the messages that are coming in the following weeks. Next week, I'm going to talk about loving beyond your fears. Don't stop when you're scared. Keep going, go further. The week after that I'm going to talk about loving beyond your comfort. I'm sorry. It's uneasy, but you know, it's not going to stay uncomfortable if we'd start going there a little more [00:32:00] often. Love beyond your differences. Okay. I know you and I are not alike, but we're going to find a way to be on the same page. Number four, we're going to love beyond our politics.
[00:32:08] Don't miss that week. That's going to be spicy. And love beyond your certainties. You see, these are going to be the messages. Why are we doing these messages? Folks, because we've got to lift up Jesus. We got to lean into love and we got to press towards unity. And that's the price to be faithful to Jesus.
[00:32:32] Now, I want to tell you about something. I have a friend who is a pastor in the West Valley of the Phoenix area. His name is Ryan Nunez. He pastors Palm Valley church, wonderful guy. He and I run in the same circles and we spend time together. And he wrote a book he's called it The Great Challenge. Living.
[00:32:55] a love that reconciles. We spent all summer reading books. Maybe have one more in you. I'd [00:33:00] encourage you to pick up this book and read it. Living a love that reconciles is how we're going to take this about Jesus seriously. Now I'm not going to preach from this book. I am going to use illustrations from this book.
[00:33:13] And I'm going to tell you the same sort of stories he's told in this book. Cause I was with him. We were together. We did that. But I'm telling you this would be a great accompaniment to the series. We're gonna to learn how to love beyond. So make a note of that. Now, let me also remind you if you're wondering. I get no royalties.
[00:33:32] Okay. This is not, this is not what this is. Alright? All right. Now I want to close. I want to tell you a story that I have never been able to forget. I heard this probably in 1975, when I was doing an internship long time ago. I got it out of a book I was reading that really rocked me. It was about a
[00:33:51] church down in Argentina and the pastor was a guy, Juan Carlos Ortiz. And in his book Disciple, he [00:34:00] talked about this thing he did with his church. And so he wanted his search to take seriously, these commandments of God, about learning how to love. And so he put together the best message he could put together.
[00:34:11] The most simple, the most clearly easy to communicate. The easiest to grasp. Maybe very similar to what I just did here. And he taught his church that on Sunday morning. And then on Sunday night, it was back in the day when you'd have church in the morning and a different sermon with the church who would regather in the evening and have a different message.
[00:34:29] And in the evening he preached the exact same sermon he preached in the morning. And that was weird because he never did that. The people kind of noticed that he not realized what he just did. Maybee he'd just losing it. He preached the exact same sermon the following Sunday. He preached the exact same sermon again. He preached the exact same sermon three times in a row at three different gatherings of his church.
[00:34:49] About this time that people getting a bit perturbed, hey, we're paying you pastor to preach, not to preach the same message over and over. And they basically said, when are you going to put preach in that message? And the answer he gave that I've never forgotten is [00:35:00] I'll quit preaching that message when you start practicing that practice. Don't make me preach the same message next week. Folks,
[00:35:10] we got to move on. We got to grow up. We got to get past the 101. We've got to build on the foundation that Christ's laid. And I just need to make sure you understand it's just a simple concept, but a truth learned, but not applied, is not a truth learned. You begin at the beginning and you build from that point on, and then you go beyond and then beyond., nd then beyond. Folks, we're going to learn how to love beyond. And I'm excited about this. I'm anxious to see what God does in our church. I think our best days are coming, stay with us. Let me pray, and we'll pick this message series up next week. Bring somebody with you by the way. It will be good for all of us, okay? Let's pray.
[00:35:56] So God, we give it to you. We trust You. We love You. We [00:36:00] want to learn how to love with the love You've loved us. God, we have to confess that we have failed miserably as a church to do this. I certainly mean this locally, but I'm more mean it globally, we've just so poorly demonstrated what you so clearly demonstrated.
[00:36:23] God, I just pray that you get us to see it. Move us beyond. God we got to love beyond. It's got to become an irrational irresistible kind of love that snaps people out of their stress out of this incredible disequilibrium we're living in right now that snaps us back to reality as to who we ought to be and how we ought to live.
[00:36:55] So bless us father to that end. I pray. And I thank You. In Jesus name. [00:37:00] Amen. Bye now.