September 17, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey
Praise the Lord, O my soul. All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion. He satisfies your desires with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagles. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. 6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (Psalms 103:1-6, NIV)
So there it is, the Bible said to praise the Lord.
So we’re going to give you, this is how good we are to you people. We’re going to give you the opportunity to do that with music corporately. Isn’t that nice of us? It’s a man, a nice church. So we’re going to sing some songs and music, we’re going to talk about this later, music is not worship but it is a great tool for worship.
So use this opportunity to turn your affection to Jesus tonight, alright? Turn your affection to Jesus. He’s not that hard to find. He’s not that hard to find. So the goal of this life is to get to know him.
To know Jesus, to know Christ, and to make Christ known. And don’t make the mistake that the goal of this life is to know Bible information about him. It’s to know him. And so the Bible, an invaluable book, the Word of God, I believe the infallible and errant Holy Spirit inspired Word of God is not meant just to inform our brains with facts about Jesus and the Father sent in the Holy Spirit. It is meant to lead us into an encounter with a living person.
And tonight that living person invites us to share in this meal as an appetizer to the marriage supper with the lamb, to our wedding feast. I’ve talked about this before, one day you’re going to meet Jesus face to face, that is inevitable. I think that vision is going to blow me away, but I also think it’s going to heal me. I think those eyes, like nothing this world ever could, is going to make me whole. Looking into those eyes, looking into that face for as long as I could stand it, which might be a nanosecond before I hit the ground, and then kind of crawl myself back up, I don’t know.
But I do believe that that vision will be life everlasting. That’s where you’re headed dear ones. Not only that’s where you’re headed, but you know that person next to you who you got irritated at today? That’s where they’re headed too. That’s where they’re headed too.
And you know what our dad wants us to do? He wants us to forgive them. And he wants us to receive his forgiveness. So do that as you come to this table. Before you come to this table tonight, forgive anything you have against anyone in this room or outside of this room.
And believe, dare to believe that the God of this universe loves you personally more than you can fathom at this point. Will you do those two things and then come to the table of Jesus. Holy Spirit, fill this food with the life of Jesus that as we partake in this simple meal, we may mysteriously partake in your life. Feed us with Jesus. We ask it in his name.
Amen. Thank you Father for the hymn of heaven. Thank you for that day. And thank you for giving us a taste right here. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Thank you for letting us experience your presence even here. And experience one another even here, our eternal brothers and sisters. Thank you Lord for your goodness. Alright, good things come in threes.
Good things come in threes. Father Son, Holy Spirit. The Firehouse Church is based on 2 Timothy 1 6:7, for you have not received the spirit of timidity but of three things. The Holy Spirit brings us power, love, and a sound mind.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7, NIV)
We talk about that the Christian embodies power, love, and a sound mind when filled with the spirit. Isaiah and I read a book not too long ago about three traditions in the church and that they all kind of belong. The evangelical tradition which focuses on the word, the Pentecostal tradition which focuses on the immediacy of the spirit, and the sacramental tradition which focuses on God’s mysterious presence, his eternal realities spoken to us through very simple things like bread and wine and water. So good things come in threes.
Tonight I want to talk about what is it that churches do. And guess what? It’s three things. You might think churches do more than three things. We got youth groups, we got children’s ministries, we got outreaches, we got worship services, we got Sunday school classes, we got Bible studies, we got lunches, we got community involvement.
We can do a lot more than three things. Now we do three things. That’s all we got to do is three things. This is simple. It’s often been said that theology is taking God’s simple concepts and making them complicated.
So we’ll try to make it simple tonight. And surprisingly these three things are found in a verse or in a section of scripture that has mostly been used just to talk about one of those three things. And that’s Matthew 28 verses 16 through 20 famously subtitled the great commission. The great commission. So Matthew 28 verses 16 through 20 mentions all three things that churches do.And so, this is Jesus telling his disciples, giving them what we call the Great Commission.
It says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some doubted.”
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV)
Just an aside here, the human capacity to unbelief is unbelievable. Let me say it again, the human capacity for unbelief is unbelievable. Jesus chastises his disciples often for hardness of heart.
Alright, here’s a dead guy who got up. The disciples know this. He was crucified. He was dead. He got up.
He was being here and they met there and they worshiped him. But some of them who were worshiping were like, “Well, is he really who he said he was?” It is amazing. Our hardness of heart. Be more concerned over the possibility of your hardness of heart than the possibility that you’ll be deceived.
I think in a rationalistic society, we’ve fallen off the wrong side. We’ve fallen off that side of the horse. I think one of the great deceptions of our day stems from our fear of deception and so we reject what God is doing because we’re not quite sure. Be more eager to believe and less eager to doubt. Dallas Willard says critical thinking has become the hallmark of what it means to be smart.
He says this is not true. He says in fact, you can be as dumb as cabbage so long as you doubt and somebody will think you’re smart. So, don’t be dumb as cabbage. Some of them doubted. Alright.
That’s not even in my notes. That was a freebie. Alright. That’s like going to a baseball game and getting extra innings. Free baseball.
It’s great. Alright. That was on the house, people. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you. And surely, I’m with you always, to the very end of the age.”
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)
God, may the words of my mouth, the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, our rock, our strength, and our redeemer.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14, NIV)
So, the three-legged stool of the church. A three-legged stool will always be balanced. You ever sit down on a chair and one of the legs is short and you just kind of click, click, click, click, click, click. But if you ever got three legs, all three of those legs will be on the ground. They’ll be balanced.
So now, you might be cockamamie if one of the legs is too short, you might be sideways a little bit, but all three legs will touch the ground. And the three-legged stool, these are the three things that churches do. And they’re all mentioned in this passage. When the disciples came together, they worshiped. Number one.
Then Jesus tells them to go. Number two. Number three. Make disciples. Make disciples.
That’s it. That’s what we do. We worship. We go. We make disciples.
The world will criticize us or doesn’t understand that. I remember when I was in rotary, people just treated me as kind of the leader of some benevolent society. “Hey, we have got some extra socks. Can we give them to your church because we know that your job is to help the poor?” That’s a part of our job.
That’s a part of the go. And the world will always, at least this culture, will celebrate if we do that. They will celebrate us giving money away to poor people and giving stuff away to poor people and helping poor people. They’ll celebrate that. But that’s not our only job.
And the world won’t understand a lot of the rest of our job. And that’s okay. The Bible says they won’t understand. Some of it will make them angry. And that’s okay. It’s not our job to make the world happy. It’s our job to love the world. When you’re a parent, if you’re a good parent, it’s not your job to make your children happy.
It’s your job to love your children. Sometimes that will make them happy. Sometimes it will make them grumpy. My, you know, my kids, they’d say, “I’m mad at you.” Water on a duck’s back, baby. I don’t care. You’re still going to bed. Why? Because I love you. And you don’t know that you need sleep, but I know you need sleep.
You still won’t get ice cream for dinner. Why? Because I love you. And you think ice cream for dinner will make you happy when ice cream for dinner ultimately will give you diabetes. So, it’s not my job to make you happy. It’s my job to love you. Parents, if you live for the emotional support of your children, you will destroy their lives and destroy yours as well.
The same is true with our relationship with the world. And so, these three things we do, regardless of anybody else’s opinion, these are the three things God has commissioned us to do. And so, I want to take them in order. First, we worship. We worship. Matthew 28, they worship. Now, dear ones, do not dumb down worship. If you’ve been to the Firehouse Church long enough, you’ve heard this lecture. If you’ve ever been a worship leader in my presence, you’ve heard this lecture. And it just is, it’s a pet peeve, alright?I’ve got pet peeves.
Here’s my pet peeve: Singing songs about Jesus equals worship. Singing songs to Jesus equals worship. No, no, turn to somebody and say, “We just finished the singing part of worship.” Wow, you’re an obedient congregation. I like you. My worship leaders, who I’ve had for years, they’ll always say, “I know, pastor, the singing part of worship.” We have dumbed down worship. People say it all the time. It’s a shorthand in our culture. And I get it.
Shorthands are useful. It’s like when people say, “I’m going to the church,” they mean the building. And of course, theologically, let’s be correct, the church is not a building. The church is the people. The building is the place where the church meets. And so I let it slide when people say, “Oh, I just love the worship part of the sermon or the service, but the sermon and the offering and the rest of it was boring.” Worship is a bowed down life. Worship is humbling ourselves before God and acknowledging that God is God and we’re not. Worship is a reorientation of our lives, stepping out of the center of the universe, which our self-consciousness, which is the center of the universe, is the center of the universe. Worship is what Job did after he complained for 30 chapters until God finally answered part of his prayer.
Job said, “I want a face-to-face encounter so you can explain to me what happened here.” And God gave him half the answer and half the answer was good enough for Job. “I don’t have to explain nothing to you, son, because I’m God and you’re not.” And Job said, “Gotcha.” And he worshipped. The word literally means to assume the position that Muslims assume when they face Mecca with the nose on the carpet and little tocas in the air, you know? Boom. It is a posthumous position. Boom. It is a humbled and bowed down life.
I’ve been going to church since I was born. I was always raised and going to church. And we’ve never sang a song about Kev. We’ve never sang a song that it’s all about Kev. It’s always all about Jesus. And here’s what self-consciousness does. We all live in this little trap, this little box, where we are only conscious of our own life and experiences. You understand? I woke up this morning with a sore, not on my back, but my side. Kind of goes to the back.
It’s just kind of a thing with me. And you know, I’m overweight, I’m old, you know, I blame myself, but you know, it’s like ah, ah. You know, I have no idea how Iko woke up this morning. I have no idea if she was grumpy or happy or hurt or was, you know, just fuming because Ah snored all night. I have no idea about any of that. That is her experience. I just had my experience. And we all have that. That’s how we all live our lives. And so we tend to think we’re the center of things.
If you’ve raised a two or three year old, they are very naturally putting that to the test. “I think I’m the center of the universe.” And they’re like, “No,” and you know, good parents are teaching them not so. “You’re not the center of the universe.” And that’s why we call it the terrible twos and the terrorist threes. And then they tend to mellow out for a few years and sometimes it resurfaces in the torrential teens. That’s a very natural thing to think that the world revolves around me because that’s our experience. But worship is that which reorients us to the truth. The creator, the savior, the sustainer, he’s the center. And he made himself known in Jesus.
And so we sing our praises to Jesus. And we focus on, and it’s entirely appropriate to focus on Jesus during worship. The father does not get jealous. The father’s not out there going, “Hey guys, pay attention to me.” He’s three in one. Jesus though, when we focus on Jesus, he actually takes us to the father. And we don’t have to necessarily focus on the spirit. The spirit’s job is what? Getting us to focus on Jesus. And so both the father and the spirit are more than happy.
The spirit’s like, “Yay, I did my job.” And the father’s saying, “Yep, that’s my boy.” I was at a soccer game once. My son was playing soccer. My son was a good athlete. I was an athlete as a kid, but not a good one. My son was better than me. At any sport you pick, he was better than me at. And I was jealous and envious of good athletes that I grew up with. When I tried harder than they did and they still got to play more because they were just better athletes, man, it frosted me.
I was jealous. But when I watched my son play and recognized very early in every sport he was better than me, there wasn’t an ounce of jealousy. What was there? “My boy.” In fact, I’ll never forget this a moment etched in my memory. He was playing soccer. And he kicked the ball from a pretty good distance. High arching, bent, had some spin on it. The goalie jumped, reached up right over the tip of his hands into the back of the net. Beautiful goal.
It’s just one of the most pretty things.I ever saw a nine-year-old do in my life. And the people in front of me, they said the best words, “Wow, that was something. Whose kid is that?” I didn’t say a word, but if there was ever a beam, man, I was like, “It’s my boy. That’s the father. Wow. Died and rose again. Whose kid is that?” Jesus, we adore you as the visible manifestation of the everlasting God. We bow down before you.
We use music as a tool of worship. In fact, the Bible says that’s what it was created for. That is the primary purpose of music. That is the primary purpose of music as a tool to help us turn our affections to God. Because music runs through different tracks. Your brain is now on a different track listening to me. You’re on a logical, discerning track. You’re sorting information or you’re daydreaming, one of the two. But when you sing, that kind of goes out the window. And you’ll notice this.
People will sing things they never will say. Right? “I surrender all. I surrender all.” If somebody said, “Say that,” you know, “I try to surrender all.” We’ll just sing that with gusto. And so it’s a great tool. Use it as a tool.
Just don’t say the dumb thing. All right? Just don’t, in my presence, don’t say, “Oh, when the worship is done, that’s when the preaching starts.” If you’re paying attention now and your heart is humbled before the Word of God and you’re thinking, “Come on, God, help him. I’m going to hear a word from you from Balaam’s donkey tonight. You know, every week something comes out of that mouth that’s from you,” then you’re worshiping. If you put money in that box, that’s not paying to keep the institutional church alive.
That’s an act of worship. It’s an offering made to God. If you serve the poor, if you come and receive this meal and meet Jesus, all that is worship. All right. A bowed down life. We turn our affections toward him. He’s real.
He’s alive. We encounter him, not just learn stuff about him. All right. Then he says, “Go. We go into all the world.” Second thing churches do. We go.
Yeah, there’s a very interesting thing in our culture. This is the thing that the devil really, the devil doesn’t want us to do any of these things. The devil doesn’t want us to go. He doesn’t want this thing to spread. He doesn’t want to give up ground. And so he’ll use all kinds of means. In some cultures, the means are just violence and hatred.
But our culture has been so impacted by Christianity and revival that that level is not what we’re experiencing right now. We may experience it in the future. We may be coming down the pike. It may not. I’m not a prophet on that. I don’t know. But I do know that there is resistance to us not giving money to the poor.
Everybody likes that. There’s not a resistance to us doing mercy. There is a resistance to us doing justice when it calls the cultural values to task. And there’s a big resistance to us witnessing to our faith in order to convince people to bring revelation to people that they might follow Jesus. The world doesn’t want us to. In fact, one of the interesting things is just in America in our in the Constitution, amendments to our Constitution, it says we are free to practice our religion. But have you ever noticed how people use that phrase?
They don’t use that phrase. What do they say? You have freedom of what? Worship. What do they mean when they say that? That’s not what the amendment says. You know, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think we’re free to practice our religion.
Freedom of worship means go behind your doors into your little stained glass buildings, do whatever you do, but don’t come out and tell me about it. Leave it there. Nope, that ain’t my religion. My religion says go. Go tell people about Jesus. Share the gospel when necessary. Use words.
Share the gospel. Share the gospel. We go. We go. We go in mercy. Absolutely. Jesus came and he demonstrated mercy.
He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. The Bible is man. There are very few things that are repeated more often and more are more clear in the Bible than God’s care and concern for the poor and the responsibility of the halves to at least share some of the halves with the have nots. It is very that is abundantly clear in a Bible. If there’s nowhere in your life where you’re helping a poor, change that today. Now, in fact, if you give to this church, there is an area in your life where you’re helping the poor because some of our missions giving goes toward mercy.
Goes to a feeding program in the Dominican Republic. Goes to Africa. Goes around. Goes to Peru and Paraguay. Goes to Nepal. And it helps the poor. But we ought to be involved in that.
Listen, unless Jesus tells you, you don’t need to give all your money to the poor. I mean, he told one guy that, we know at least. Probably told more throughout history to do that.
Probably told, I think St. Francis did that to start his life in ministry. So some people may get that specific instruction. Give everything. Give it all away. Give it all to the poor and come follow me. But if you haven’t received that, you have received this: Give to the poor. He who despises the poor, despises their maker. Guilty.
I did it just the other day. God called me on it. It was good. The story ends well. But I was coming out of Bible study, right? All holy. And I’m tired.
End of the day. I want to go home. I see a couple of guys in the parking lot next to our parking lot. And I just knew. You know, sometimes you know. They look. You catch an eye.
He’s coming in for the ask. He’s going to ask me for something, right? I didn’t want him to ask me for anything. I want to go home. So I ignore. I drive my Camaro out. The guy walks alongside my car.
I roll down the window. Very Christian. Full of compassion. Good pastor man. What? What? “Hey man, could you jump my car for me?
My car won’t start.” Guess what? I am not Mr. Handyman. I do not carry jumper cables. I carry the phone number to AAA. They will jump my car but they won’t jump yours on my phone number. “I don’t have cables,” I say.
He goes, “I do.” “Do you have them with you?” I ask. He goes, “No. They are not with my car. They are with my van which is up at the homeless encampment up on 6th street. Will you give me a ride there so I can get my cables?”
Now it’s not just starting to jump your car. Now I have to do something else. You might smell bad getting in my car. I don’t know who you are. You might be dangerous getting in my car. “Man, I don’t know you. I don’t know if I want you in my car,” I say.
He goes, “Oh, I understand.” He was polite. Humble. Sweet guy. “I understand. Do you mind if I run up to 6th street and get them and run back? Not to waste your time but as fast as I can so you can jump my car.” A little bit now I am starting to feel like a jerk. A little bit.
It’s like, no, I don’t want you to run and you are not going to let me off the hook. So get in my car. We get in my car and you could tell this guy had heard a hundred times, “Why don’t you get a job, man?” Which I did not say. He said, “Here’s why I need my car jumped. I have a job. I deliver newspapers for the Kitsap Sun.”
And it was plausible. It’s right across the street. It’s the Kitsap Sun parking lot where he was at. He said, “The editor of the Sun fixed my car for me so I could take this job. And he is taking a little bit out of each paycheck to pay back to fix the car.” And boy, did conviction come on me.
The editor of the Kitsap Sun, those liberal press people, is more of a Christian than this pastor. And I just got hit by a Holy Ghost. And my attitude shifted. His name was Dylan. “Dylan, that’s great you got a job.
Let’s jump your car. Let’s jump your car.” We got the cables. We went back. The Camaro is kind of hard because the battery is in the trunk underneath the spare tire. It’s like you’ve got to dig through.
I had to do extra work and stay extra long. And you know what? Dylan’s car got started. He was there with another friend. The friend came to church two weeks in a row after that.
And here’s what the Lord kind of told me afterwards. I apologize. I said, “God, man, sorry. I should have been, I should have been, ‘You bet I’ll help you.'”
He said, “That’s right. If that would have been a young mother with two little kids in tow, you would have put on your knight in shining armor costume right away. Right? ‘Oh, of course I’ll help you, dear.’ You know?” And I did what the Bible says don’t do.
Don’t be a discriminator of people based on appearance. Sorry. Not perfect. I know, some of you, I just came off the pedestal right now.
But we go. We extend mercy. Just say a prayer. Say, “Lord, help them do better next time.” Alright.
We do justice. We go and do justice. Listen, not everybody is called to be deeply involved in the political process, but my goodness, if you’re a Christian in this culture and you don’t vote, man, that’s worse than calling worship the singing part. That’s another pet peeve. Vote.
Vote. Alright? I don’t want to get melodramatic, but there’s a whole bunch of crosses on a beach in Normandy that ought to tell us vote. Vote. Do it.
Let your voice be heard. Let your voice be heard for the unborn. Alright? Let your voice be heard for the children who are being trafficked into the sex industry. Let your voice be heard for the unraveling of corruption that always hurts the poor and wickedly empowers the rich.
Let your voice be heard for righteousness and justice and peace. Live that way and live to the level of your calling. Some of you are called to be very active in that arena. Good. But we’re all called to seek justice and promote justice.
And by the way, well, I’ll get to it. Never mind. I’ll get to it. And finally, evangelism. Everybody’s favorite subject next to tithing.
Evangelism. What does evangelism mean? It means be a messenger of good news. Why is that? Be a messenger of good news.
Why is that so hard? Be a messenger of good news. If you see a good movie, you tell all your friends, “Oh, I saw this movie. It’s awesome.” If you hear a new band, “Oh, man,I love this band, all right?
If you saw a good ball game, you’d say, “Oh, man, that was a great game. I hope you recorded it. You got to watch it.” By the way, the Seahawks game today was a great game. It was very exciting, winning it over time.
Great game, all right. You share good news. You know, “Hey, I’m getting married. Hey, I just went to this new restaurant. Oh, man, the food was so good there.”
You share good news. Well, guess what, world? We got great news. Your sins are forgiven, and the God of all the universe wants to fill your life with himself so that you will live in joyous bliss for all eternity. That’s good news.
That’s good news. Share good news. “Oh, but, pastor, what if they have questions? I don’t have all the answers.” You don’t need to have all the answers.
Nobody comes to faith, or hardly anybody comes to faith, through somebody who has all the answers. They come to faith through loving family members and friends who invite them to encounter Jesus and who, in some ways in their life, have exemplified the life of Jesus, if not perfectly, at least enough for them to see it. Listen, still, the number one leading evangelistic tool across our culture, and I think worldwide and I think historically, is this: “Hey, you want to come to church with me?” You can do that. “I’m afraid, I’m scared to tell them about Jesus.
I will. You pay me. I’ll do it. Promise. You can come say, ‘Kevin, here’s my friend.
I said that you had something to tell them,’ and you wink, and then I’ll know. Oh, the Gospel. I’ll tell them the Gospel. And it’s not that hard. The God of all the universe loves you so much that he sent his Son so that your sins can be forgiven, and he wants to fill you with his life so that you can live forever in joyful eternal bliss with him.
And here’s how to unpack that gift. Believe it. And give up control of your life to him. Repent. You’re not in charge anymore.
How are you doing, by the way, being in charge? Yeah, you’re a mess. I got it. I got you. Me too.
That’s what we do when we’re in charge. I’m no better than you. One beggar showing another beggar where there’s bread. I’ll tell them. I’ll share the Gospel with them.
You just bring them. All right? Promise. And you know why I’ll tell them. If you’ve been around the firehouse long enough, you know exactly what I’m going to say next.
I will tell them because I’m paid to be good, and you guys are good for nothing. I’ll tell them. You’ve been good for nothing for a long time. That is. That is.
I tell you what. I realize in church, there is a room full of men that you can tease. And there’s a rare woman that you can tease. Now, my sister, I will tease her until the… Yeah, if she was here today, every shot I have, I’ll take at her. But yeah, typically, I don’t go after the women too much.
Oh, she doesn’t need your help. No. She holds her own. All right. So we go. We go. And then finally, we disciple.
We make disciples. We teach them. We teach them everything that Jesus taught his disciples. We grow up into the faith. When Jesus called his disciples, he didn’t say, “Hey, repent, believe, say a prayer, and you’ll go to heaven, keep fishing.” When Jesus called his disciples, he said, “Here’s what you’re going to do now with the rest of your lives. Follow me.
Play a game that every child knows how to play. Follow the leader. When I lay my hands on the sick and pray for them, you lay your hands on the sick and pray for them. When I cast out demons, you cast out demons. When I multiply food to feed the hungry, you multiply food to feed the hungry. What you see me do, you do. When I lay down my life for my beloved, you lay down your life for your beloved.
What you see me do, you do. You don’t need a degree in Greek and Hebrew to do this. Just follow Jesus. Follow Jesus. Become a disciple. There are disciplines that the church has used for 2,000 years that help people follow Jesus. They are disciplines we all can do.
When we think of the word discipline, disciple, we tend to think discipline is a negative thing. “Oh, I got disciplined. I got spanked. I got sent home from school. You know, I got chewed out.” That’s not what discipline is. Discipline is, sometimes that’s what discipline is.
Sometimes discipline is a correction that is painful. But what discipline really is is an intentional effort to achieve a goal. I’m a big sports fan. I love baseball, basketball, and football. I follow them. I know stats. I’m a nerd.
And I pastor two little churches. And there’s none of me out there. It’s like, “What’s going on with that? There are no baseball nerds. I mean, there’s baseball fans. But I mean, you know Roberto Clementi’s lifetime batting average? Yeah, see, I’m just saying.
All right. So it’s 317. All right. But now you know. And so I’m just this… And I tell people, you know, when a team in February wins the Super Bowl and holds up that trophy, I say, “You know when they won that Super Bowl? Yeah, Sunday afternoon.” I said, “Yeah, in one sense.
Yeah, they won it this Sunday afternoon. “But they won it in July. They won that trophy that they’re holding up in February and July. When they studied their playbooks, when they were doing two-a-days, when they were doing grueling workouts, lifting weights, 100-degree heat, coach – big, sweaty, ugly coach – yelling at them to do more, that’s when they won the Super Bowl. It was in the film study. You know why Tom Brady was… I know these sports analogies.
You know why Tom Brady was the greatest quarterback? He didn’t have the strongest arm. It was a joke about how he wasn’t that athletic, how he was slow. He spent more time in the film room studying the other team’s defense. So when he got to the line of scrimmage, he knew what receiver would be open. Other quarterbacks don’t know what receiver is going to be open. Why?
Discipline. Disciple. Disciple. What do we do? Well, you know. Right? You’ve been told your whole life you’ve gone to church.
Read your Bible. Say your prayers. Have a quiet time. Give your money to the poor. We already talked about that. Give your money to the poor. Worship corporately.
Fast. Pray. These things, now these things are deadly when we treat them as ways of earning God’s favor. Then they become a religious death trap for us. So the things in themselves are not the merit. They’re not the river. They’re not the river of God’s love.
But they are the way that 2,000 years of Christian history and the Bible teaches us they are the ways to step into the river. This is how we lift weights. You know, people have been Christians 30 years and they say, “Well, pastor, I just don’t know my Bible that well.” Well, you had a minute to learn it. Learn it. Study it. Study it.
John Wesley was very well read. He was a brilliant man. Oxford scholar. But he said, “I’m a man of one book.” What did he mean by that? Not that he didn’t read other books. He read lots of other books.
But he said, “Oh, there is a book that will show me the way to those blissful, eternal shores.” He said, “Give me that book at any price. Give me the book of God.” We’ve got the book of God. And I’ll tell you what I tell people all the time. You don’t have to read it, but you get to. You don’t have to say your prayers, but every morning you can get up, get out of bed, turn your attention to Jesus.
And the creator of the universe is right there. I was praying on my way to church this morning and Jesus was in the passenger seat of the Camaro. He was right there next to me. And I said, “Jesus, it’s amazing. It’s amazing that there are 8 billion people on the planet and yet you still have the capacity to one-on-one be with all 8 billion of us at the same time. You really are an infinite, awesome, powerful, wonderful God.” And sitting right there in the Camaro next to me in that right, he said, “Yeah, I am.
You got that right, son.” But he was there. Or I’m crazy and was talking, you know. Actually, I just want to say, I’ve said this before, those are not mutually exclusive. He could have been there. I could have been talking to him. And yet I still could be crazy.
All right. We are disciples, disciplined learners. We become students of Jesus. We get baptized. We get initiated into this thing. We have an initiation rite. All right.
We have, you know, you meet a girl. It’s like, “Man, I want to spend the rest of my life with that girl. That girl is amazing. She’s an amazing girl. She is so pretty and she is so funny and she is so smart and she is so wonderful and she makes me so happy. And I love dating her and she kisses good. And, oh, boy, I just want to kiss that girl.
I just want to be with her the rest of my life.” And if that girl has an ounce of sense, she says, “Well, you can, son. Put a ring on it.” That’s what baptism is. “I want to be with Jesus the rest of my life, the rest of my journey. You can, son. Have your sins washed away.
Rise up to new life. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Get initiated into the church. Baptized. Teach. Disciple.”
That’s what it means. All right. So those are three things. That’s all we do. All right. We go. We leave this place.
We carry Jesus. We give our missions money away. That’s another way we go. We extend through our offerings, you know, at least close to 20 percent of the money that you give us. So 20 percent of the money that you give the Firehouse Church goes to missions that aren’t the Firehouse Church. It goes. All right.
And so it’s not quite 20 percent, but it’s higher than 10. It’s somewhere in there. So anyway, it goes. All right. All three of these things are necessary. And I’m going to tell you what happens if you only do one of these three things. And I’m going to tell you what happens if you exclude only one of these three things.
All right. So if all you do is worship. And by the way, I used to prioritize. I used to say these three things are must-dos, but here’s the priority. And in my early Christian life, I prioritized evangelism. But here’s what I found. When you prioritize one above the other, there’s a danger that you ultimately don’t end up doing the others.You just do the one.
In the middle of my life in ministry, I began to prioritize discipleship. Probably in the last season of my life, I’ve really prioritized intimacy through worship. But here’s what I found. This is to show you can change your mind if you’ve been a Christian for 46 years. I now am not going to put any one of these three first. I’m just going to say these are the three things we do. Because here’s what I found: when I prioritized worship, discipleship and evangelism began to slack off.
What I found is that led to a feeling-driven church that was addicted to the adrenaline of his presence. There is a very real presence of God when you worship him. It can be powerful. It can be addicting. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with that. The goal of worship is to enter into his manifest presence. But when that’s all you do, you ultimately become an adrenaline seeker instead of a disciple.
I’ve seen it now as I’ve hung around charismatic renewal folks for the last 20 years. Many of them are beautiful, wonderful, full-orbed disciples of Jesus. The majority are. But I’ve seen experienced chasing junkies. “Oh, I went to this conference.” What happens is people start following esoteric teaching. They start following weird teaching because they’re not grounded as disciples in the Bible.
People start elevating experience over the quality of someone’s character. It’s like, “Well, if you just experience this and if you just experience this and if you just have this vision.” They treat it as a shortcut to growing up in Christ. You understand what I’m saying? Let me tell you something. I am for all those experiences. I am for dreams and visions.
I got no problem with people falling down into the power of the Spirit. In fact, I think it’s a sign of God’s presence. I think people who question it are actually, there’s a hardness of heart there. I mean, I was at this one church and there was a whole slew of people who came forward and just collapsed as we prayed for them. This young man came up and he said, “How can I know God is real? How can I know God is real?” It’s like people don’t do this.
People just don’t collapse on the floor when somebody says Jesus over them normally. But man, okay, that’s not everything. But if that’s not something to you. That’s not something. Look, I used to watch Benny Hinn on TV. Benny Hinn got caught up in some esoteric teaching. I think he’s humbled himself and he’s come around a long way.
But one of the things I would say, he would like wave his coat at the choir and two thirds of the choir would fall. And I’d hear people say, “Oh, that’s the devil.” Well, when he waved his coat, he said, “Jesus, glory to Jesus.” That’s the devil? No, that’s psychosomatic. It’s like, you know, I’ve been hanging around people a long time and people just don’t drop like that. You know what that was?
That was the anointing of the power of God. And that ought to perk your curiosity. If your first reaction to that is criticism, check your heart. Now, there are things he taught that I was critical of. He’s repented of some of those things. But I had this mixed relationship with Benny Hinn. I already did.
I watched him on TV and I go, “Man, that is something.” And then I go, “Well, that’s kind of weird what he’s saying.” But I’m telling you, that stuff is real. But it’s not the whole meal. It’s not the whole meal. In fact, what it is, is it’s an invitation into discipleship. I had a guy come up to me one time out of a Mormon background.
He had a broken collarbone. I prayed for him. The power of God came all over him. His collarbone got healed. He picked himself up off the ground. He said, “What was that?” I said, “That was Jesus.
That was the real Jesus.” And he said, “I’m going to follow him.” That’s what it is. It’s an invitation. But if all you do is focus on that, you miss out. You become shallow. You get into esoteric, weird teaching.
All go. Hey, it’s all about either social justice or evangelism. You’re actually shallow. You become shallow. And you become, if you’re all about social justice, and you don’t worship and have intimacy with Jesus, and don’t have depth in discipleship, you actually become mean to everybody who doesn’t commit themselves to your cause at the same way you do. You become kind of mean. The mainline churches did this.
They committed themselves wholeheartedly in the 20th century to social justice, to the social gospel. And they excluded evangelism and discipleship. Not only did they get mean, but they also got deceived and began to pursue justice in areas that were evil. They began to call wrong right, and they’re still doing it to this day. All in the name of justice. What happens if you’re not discipled? If you don’t know Jesus and encounter Jesus, you go off the rails.
And then if your go is evangelism, here’s what happens. Here’s what happens. Evangelism, you already heard me.It’s great to do evangelism. But if that’s what it is, just getting people into the building to hear the gospel, you’ll actually begin to compromise the gospel for ears. Or for what I call BIP, butts in pews. And you’ll begin to soften the message and live for the approval of men. Because you so desperately don’t want to offend them, you will take the offense out of the gospel.
Therefore, you water down the gospel. Make no mistake about it, there are seeker-driven churches that are great churches that do all three of these things. But they’re very conscious of unchurched people. And that is good. I’m not criticizing that whole thing. But I am saying, this is where it gets off the rails. And you know what?
I know, I’m a pastor, all right? I get this. And men, our identity is not based on our family, not based on our relationships. Our broken identity is based on what we do. And how successful we are at it. So if you’re in my position, here is the measure of success that everybody uses: How big is your church? Right?
So the temptation of BIP is strong. But you can sell out. You can. And I’m not saying all of them do. I’m not saying every big church and every secret church. Hear me, I’m not saying that at all. I don’t want to criticize people who are doing a great job. There are people who are doing a great job with this. But I’m saying that’s the danger of it.
And I’ve been there. I’ve told people I would do anything so that people will hear the gospel. Well, you know what? There’s some things I won’t do so that people will hear the gospel. Right? I won’t sin so people will hear the gospel. It’s like, I’m going to cheat on my wife with this woman so I can share Christ with her. No, I’m not going to do that.
That’s not an evangelistic method that Jesus approves of. All discipleship, all teaching, all truth, no worship, no go. Now that will make you mean. That will make you argumentative. That will make you legalistic. That will make you divisive. That will make you a heresy hunter. Man, just go on the Internet and look up discernment ministries if you want to lose your dinner. If you want to barf.
They’re the worst. That’s my discernment on most discernment ministries. Straw men taking things out of context. Thundering truth. We have thundering truth. And we equate thundering truth and correct doctrine with compassion. They are connected but they’re not the same. How many of you people, how many of you, Jesus dealt most harshly with this crowd in his day? He said, you know your Bibles, but if you really knew your Bibles, you’d know me.
So that’s what happens when we put one of these first and we end up excluding the others. If we exclude any one of these things, we go awry. If we’re, let’s say, well, I don’t like all that worship stuff and that intimacy with Jesus stuff, but I believe in going and I believe in discipling. Listen, if you have no worship, if you have no intimacy, if you have no turning your affection to Jesus, you’re not going to be able to do anything. If you have no intimacy, if you have no turning your affection to Jesus, you end up with performance driven Christianity.
How many people have we saved? How many people are in church? How many Bible verses have we memorized? And you’re in danger of hearing the scariest words ever uttered, “Depart from me, I did not know you.” I mean the goal is to know him and to love him. We are going to be his bride, by the way. We are going to be his bride. It’s very interesting that the Bible doesn’t use the word wife.
It uses the word bride. On your wedding night you have a bride. The rest of your life you’ve got a wife. Okay, just saying. We’re the bride of Christ. We’re his lover. His beloved. We’re his bride.
No go leads to an ingrown church. And an ingrown church ultimately loses its faith. Why? Because it never does the scary stuff. Out of all three of these, the scariest is to go. It’s great if you’re of a certain ilk to come in and sing love songs to Jesus and experience his presence and go away weeping. But man, it’s hard to do face to face and take on these issues of justice and actually do acts of mercy and to share your faith. These things are hard. But these are the things that build our faith.
It’s the hard. That’s when we depend on God. It’s very interesting that at the end of the Great Commission we talk about knowing Jesus and his presence and worship. But you know where Jesus says “I’ll be with you always to the end of the age”? When we go. So sometimes when people say man I just am having a hard time experiencing God’s presence. I don’t say sing four more songs. I say go talk to somebody about Jesus.
You’ll be so desperate you’ll know his presence. Help! Holy Spirit help! And when he comes and helps you go wow his presence was with me. You know his presence in the going. The meat, John Wimber used to say, the meat is in the street.And so, we go. No go, ingrown. We lose our faith.
No discipleship. No teaching. No instruction. No growing up. No discipline. Then, we end up falling away into undirected, wasteful activity. Esoteric teachings. What do I mean by esoteric teachings?
I mean, instead of just teaching what the Bible says, we find all these like hidden mysteries and Bible codes and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Instead of the main and the plain. We’ve got to be grounded in the main and the plain. And so, dear ones, that’s three legs. We worship. We go. We disciple. Alright.
Now, people say that they never remember sermons. Actually, that doesn’t matter as much as you think. If you act on the sermon you heard, if it just kind of gets in there whether you remembered or not, if it shifts your behavior in any way, it’s done its work. Alright. But here, I’m going to help you remember this one. Turn to somebody next to you and tell them the three things that churches do. We worship.
We go. We disciple. I said it loud for your benefit in case you forgot one of them.
We worship. We go. We disciple. Got it, Sophia?
Got it, Sydney? Alright.
Sydney, we worship. We go. We disciple. Got it, Sydney?
Okay. Then, Sydney, I say this to you and everybody else in the room. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you his peace. And what do I say after all of that? Go. Go in his peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen. Amen.