Thursday, July 15, 2010

"You Are God's Means & Method For Accomplishing His Work On This Planet

I have a story I want to tell you today. And if you listen carefully you might catch
some similarities to something you’ve seen, heard or even experienced before…

"On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude, little
life-saving station.

"The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat. But the few devoted members
kept a constant watch over the sea.

"And with no thought for themselves, they went out
day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted
to become associated with the station and give their time, money and effort for the
support of its work.

"New boats were bought and new crews were trained.
The little life-saving station grew.

"Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building
was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place
should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

"They replaced
the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.

"Now, the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and
they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a
sort of club.

"Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life saving missions, so they
hired a life-boat crew to do this work.

"The life-saving motif still prevailed in this
club’s decoration, and there was a symbolic life-boat in the room where the club
initiations were held.

"About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in
boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some
of them looked different than the club members. The beautiful new club was in chaos.

"The property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club
where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a
split in the club membership.

"Most of the members
wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities because they were unpleasant and a
hindrance to the normal social life of the club.

"Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out
that they were still called a life-saving station.

But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the
various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their
own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

"As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in
the old one. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded.

"History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit the seacoast today, you will find a
whole bunch of exclusive clubs along that shore.

"Shipwrecks happen all the time in those waters, but most of the people drown."

Think about how sad this story is!

A life-saving station becomes a club. And the
saddest thing about this story is that it describes what happens to some churches!

They lose their purpose and go from being a life-saving group to a social club.

has to be one of the greatest sins we can make as Christ-followers. I don’t want
that to ever happen to our church. But if we’re not careful it can happen to us!

For the next 2 Sundays, we’ll be doing a new series called, “Your Great Purpose On
This Planet And How To Fulfill It”.

In this series, I want us to take a new look at what
the Bible means when it calls the church “The body of Christ”.

As we go through this series, we’ll discover what our great purpose on this planet is
– both individually and as a church – and you’ll discover how to fulfill your purpose!

Today, in this first talk, we’re going to begin by looking at God’s Primary Means And
Method For Accomplishing His Work.

God's purpose for saving you was to save others.
And you weren't left alone to do this.

You were made to be a part of the church, which is described in God’s word and
Christ’s "body" on this planet.

I think many of us have heard that phrase so many times that it’s lost it’s meaning and

Think about this for a second.

Christ came into this world to do one thing: to do God’s

And God’s will was, and is, to seek and save the lost! In Luke 4, Jesus was in
the temple and handed one of the scrolls to read from. He opened the scroll to a place in
Isaiah and read out loud to the people gathered around him.

Luke 4:18-21
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news
to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight
for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of
everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them,
"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Do you see/hear Christ’s mission in these words? He mission was to…

• Preach good news to the poor
• Proclaim freedom for the prisoners
• Recovery of sight for the blind
Release the oppressed
Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor!

And the cool and amazing thing about these things is that they include both actual and
figuratively poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed.

This is such an amazing life-mission
and purpose!

Do you realize this?

We the church are called Christ’s body. That means that Christ's
mission is now ours! YOU are God’s primary means and method for accomplishing
His work on the planet.

But there’s more to our mission and Matthew 28:18-20 - "All authority has been given
to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching
them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the
end of the age."

Do you hear it in Jesus’ words here?

The disciples, and all of us after them, are told to do
what Jesus did while he was on earth: make disciples of all nations, baptize people, and,
teach them all Christ taught.

Jesus’ mission has never ended!

He now just wants to use all of US to accomplish it.
And there’s one more shocking thing about this mission he gave us.

He reveals it in
John 14:12 when he says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what
I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the

Jesus is saying, “If we believe in him and trust in him, then we’ll do what he did.”

then he adds the shocking part… We can end up doing even greater things than Jesus did
because he’s going to the father and will send the Holy Spirit to work in us and through

Can you imagine doing greater things than Jesus? It’s hard for me to! But Jesus
wants to do greater things through us – his body.

You want to know God’s purpose for us as a church called, Pathway?
You want to know what your purpose is individually?
  • It’s to seek and save the lost!
  • It’s to preach the good news to the poor.
  • It’s to proclaim
    freedom to people who feel trapped.
  • It’s to help those that are blinded by the things
    of life to see.
  • It’s to help release the people who feel oppressed.
  • It’s to go around
    proclaiming the amazing news that NOW is the time where God wants to show his
    favor to the world!
So many of us are looking for a great cause to be a part of, but can you think of a
greater cause than this? Those of us who were lost and have experienced salvation
get to help others to experience it.

We now get to join God in the redemption of the

Some Christ-followers seem to think we’re just supposed to help people get to
heaven and that’s it. But our mission is so much more!

It’s to help people in the here
and now: by bringing good news, freedom, sight, release and realization of God’s

Why did people flocked to Jesus and want to hear about how to live in this life and
how to have eternal life?

They did this, because he showed them love and helped take
care of the needs they had now! That’s what Jesus wants us to do as his body.

altogether is our great purpose on this planet!

But how do we achieve this?

I don’t think that we as a church, or individually, are
doing as much of living this out as we wish we would. If this is our great purpose on this
planet, then how can we live this out more?

I think the secret is in this passage of scripture I want to look at for the rest of our time
together today…

Ephesians 4:11-13 11 - "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to
be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare
God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until
we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become
mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

God gave the church gifts.
What were the gifts?

They were people
who could be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Did God give us those people so they could do everything and help the church grow?
No! The reason he gave us those people as gifts was for your benefit!

The purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to help you grow!
It’s to give you tools to help fulfill God’s purpose through your life.

That’s how bad
God wants you to grow!
That’s how bad he wants you to become a person he can use!

He gave you people whose main job is to help make this happen.

Someone described what this passage is talking about once like this…

"Imagine that we are TV sportscasters standing on the sidelines of a football game to give
the play-by-play.

Scene #1: The team nearest us is standing together, heads bowed in prayer, with the
coach in the center. Suddenly they give a great cheer, and the coach trots out onto the
field by himself.

The players go sit on the bench. "What's going on?" we ask as we stick a
microphone in front of a 250 pound guard. "What's the coach doing out there?" "Oh, he's
going to play today." "All by himself?" "Sure, why not? He's had a lot more experience
and training than the rest of us. We've got a lot of rookies on this team, and we might
make mistakes. Anyway, they pay the coach well. We're all here to cheer and support
him--and look at the huge crowd that's come to watch him play!"

Bewildered, we watch
as the opposing team kicks off.

The coach catches the ball. He valiantly charges upfield,
but is buried under eleven opposing tacklers. And he's carried off half- conscious...

Do you think this is a crazy sounding story?
For a lot of people that’s how they see the
job of a pastor.

They think a pastor’s job is to do the ministry of the Church, but in reality a pastor’s
job is to help people to use the gifts God’s given them so they can become the
ministers God created THEM to be.

So you are as much, if not more, the ministers of this church as I am!
I really have one
job as the lead pastor of Pathway and that’s to help you grow and become all that he
made you to be, so you can do what God’s made you to do.

My job is to be a body builder!
To help us, as Jesus’ body, to become and do what
he has for us.

My job is NOT to get you to do my work. My job is not to do your
work. My job is to prepare you for your work – what you were made to do, what God
created you to do.

My job is to encourage you, equip you with knowledge and give
you the opportunities to serve.

I’ve been realizing something more and more about this fact recently.

Our church will
never become and be able to do all that we can if me and Brett try and do everything.
If this church’s ministry is based on only what Brett or I can do, then our influence
and impact will always be small!

If we try and do everything, then we’ll end up being
defeated and carried off the field like the coach in that story.

But if this church ministry is based on what each one of you here can do, then our
impact and influence will be exponentially bigger!

Ministry will go from being about
me and Brett about being what happens here on Sundays to being about you and
being what happens wherever you go!

That kind ministry has a force and the reach that can’t be compared!

This church
will have some of my and Brett’s influence, but it should really be flavored and
based on your strengths, talents and personalities, because you are the church!

The types of ministry we do or don’t do should be based on you.

God wants us all
TOGETHER to grow more and more like Jesus! As we do, what we become known
for as a church will based on your passions and gifts!

Where does ministry happen?

Some of it happens here, but the majority of it happens anywhere/everywhere but
That’s cause that’s where you (the ministers of God’s church) spend the majority
of your life!

What is ministry? Or, What does ministry look like?

It looks like the traditional way
you’d picture it, but it goes way beyond that!

Maybe your ministry is that you regularly walk your block and pray for your
neighbors and you look for ways to just help them, love them and bless them!
Maybe your ministry is that you gather groups of us together to have fun and
hang out so that we can grow closer to each other and really can BE the church.

There are as many different ways to minister as there are needs!

Anywhere you see
a need and fill it for Jesus, in the way he would, is ministry! Do ministry is doing his

It could be a word of encouragement to someone, a word of truth to someone, it
could be helping someone, it could be protecting someone, it could be showing love to

Everyday God’s looking for someone to be his hands, his feet, his voice and to
minister to the needs that are all around us.

When you do that you’re doing ministry!

Sunday Gatherings – Weekly Huddle
I want you to see these Sunday Gatherings (LG & SG times) as a time out from your
week – like a time out in a football game.
We huddle on Sunday in these different modes and then we go out on the field to play!

Sometimes we huddle for encouragement, sometimes it’s for training, or teaching or
maybe it’s to help us get refocused or recharged.

But AFTER the huddle, the real game begins. That’s when the real ministry happens!

The purpose of the huddle is only to help us win the game. THAT’S the purpose of our

Growth will happen when w
e begin to all do our share and fulfill our purpose we will grow as a church
numerically and individually.

It will happen numerically because we’ll be able to reach more people, more
effectively with more people serving and using their gifts for the common goal.

grow individually, because no one will be stagnant.

We’ll all be active and this will cause us as it says here to grow together in faith and
in knowledge of Jesus. We’ll all begin to reach a new level of maturity. This is the
only way we can gain the full measure of being like Jesus individually and as a body
accomplishing his mission here.

But something else amazing will happen in us and our church…

Ephesians 4:14-16 -
"14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here
and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their
deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up
into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held
together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part
does its work."

We’ll stopped being knocked around spiritually in our lives and tossed back and forth b
y every teaching, trend and fad that comes along.

Instead this working together and
serving together and serving each other will cause us to speak the truth to each other in
love and this will cause us to grow up into Jesus - the head of this body that we make up.

Don’t miss this important fact.

Christ is the head. God has called me to be the
pastor of this church and to lead and guide us, but I’m not the head of this body.

I’m not the one who you get your direction from.
Each of us must be connected with the
head. That way you can know personally when what I’m teaching is true and what God
wants us to do.

That way you can know if you are supposed to be a part of what God has called us to be
and do as a church. That way you can know what you should and shouldn’t do as a part
of this body. That way you can hear your calling of service and begin to do it, so we can
support you in it!

I can be your encourager and help lead us, but Jesus is the head of the body.
Your growth in life cannot come from me. It can only come from and through Jesus.
Your strength can’t come from me. It can only come from and through Jesus.

I’m here
to prepare you for works of service, but your works are ultimately for Jesus not for me!
We each need to be connected to and become more like Jesus who we’re supposed to be
the body of!

How many of you have ever hear of a guy named Charles Atlas?

His most famous ad featured a weak 97 lb scrawny, weakling kid who decides to bulk
up after getting sand kicked in his face at the beach. The ad sold a workout method he
learned and used.

But some of you might not know the story behind it all…

Charles Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano in 1892 and immigrated to the U.S. from Italy
in 1903. When he came to the U.S. he changed his name to Charles. He really was the
kid who got sand kicked in his face at the beach.

He decided to do something about it,
and got the idea for his special kind of exercises while watching lions stretching at a zoo.

After building his own body, he saw a statue of the Greek god Atlas at Coney Island
and decided to change his name to “Atlas” to reflect his new image. Several years later,
he met entrepreneur Charles Roman and the two designed the formal exercise program
(and its advertising campaign). Atlas died in 1972, but his company is STILL selling
the instructions today on the internet!

And just what do the instructions say?

The core of what Atlas is teaching would now be called "Dynamic Tension". Dynamic
Tension is a self-resistance exercise method which pits muscle against muscle. The
practitioner tenses the muscles of given body part and then moves the body part against
the tension as if a heavy weight was being lifted.

You want to know how well does his techniques work?

In 1922, the publisher of the magazine Physical Culture dubbed Charles Atlas "The
World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" in a contest held in Madison Square Garden.

He was chosen by a cross-disciplined group of health and medical experts, educators,
anthropologists, scientists and medical doctors who viewed Atlas as the "perfect male
body" and placed his physical measurements in a time capsule.

I’ve actually been doing this recently and you can see it’s had similar results of
perfection with my body! :)

But the reason I tell you this story is because, to me, this story is an example of we
help each other grow!

Look at verse 16 again…

16From him the whole body, joined
and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as
each part does its work.

When one of us begins to do God’s work it pushes another
person and that causes that person to grow… and back and forth. And what happens?

We build each other up! It’s spiritual dynamic tension!

When I used to lift weights at my house I needed a spotter for two reasons: to
protect me and encourage me. We need each other for the same reason. Someone
to help us when our ministry becomes too heavy and someone to cheer us on to keep
going and not give up.

This is the new way I want you to see any and all of our gatherings.

We’re ministering
TO each other when we’re together. But that’s just to prepare us for when we go out
to minister to others.

We need each other! I need you to help me grow! You need me. The people here
sitting around you need your gifts in their life. They need your help, your push, your
protection and encouragement.

When that happens we’ll begin to personally, and as a
church, look and act more like Jesus.
We’ll begin to fulfill our purpose on this planet!

But notice again how it happens:

It starts with our spiritual exercise: works of service.
The results: we become spiritually buffed – we reach unity in faith & knowledge,
become mature.
And that causes us: to be tossed like infants/grow up into him who is the Head, that is,
Christ. This is the only way to become and do all God wants us to!

WE are God’s primary means and method for accomplishing his work on this planet.
There are amazing things God wants to do here locally and around this world and he’s
looking for people who will be his hands, feet, and voice in doing these things.

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves:

Will we be these people? Do we want to be a part of the greatest cause and
purpose on the planet?
• Do we want to help free people, change their lives for the better, and give them
• Do we want to help save people to a better life in this world and the next?
Or do we want to settle for just being a social club that comes together to learn
and talk about things?

If you want to be a part of the greatest cause and purpose, then you need to begin to
pray ask God what are the works of service he wants you to do among our church, this
local area, and the world.

Next talks: We’ll continue this new look at what it means to be the body of Christ.

• I’ll give you some questions you can begin to ask to uncover what Jesus wants
your personal works of service to him to be.
• We’ll discover how being a part of this body can help you to become more of who
you were meant to be.
• You’ll see how it can help you to accomplish your individual purpose in this life.
• We’ll see how we each gain things we need to make it through life by being a part
of this body.