Will you risk pursuing Jesus with all your heart despite what the world may think of you?
Series: “Lost & Found”
Title: “Risk the Pursuit”
1. CHURCH PLANTER Q&A
1. (Lost & Found series Slide)
2. Morning. How are you doing?
1. I’m David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
3. If you’ve been coming here for any amount of time, you know that we’re serious about starting new churches.
1. Although we believe God is going to do A LOT directly through Renovation Church, we also know that our goal is not to “grow the Kingdom of Renovation, but more importantly, grow the Kingdom of God
1. And thus, back in 2012, we set a public goal that by 2022, we ARE going to plant 10 new churches out of our church, in 10 years.
4. And this morning, we are going to be unveiling our FOURTH church plant.
1. Before we do that, let me also tell you this about church plant #4.
1. Every time we plant, we always partner with another church to parent a church.
1. We partner in finances, people, and coaching.
2. And this time, we are partnering with Cornerstone Church of Blaine, which is an Evangelical Free Church.
1. How cool is that?
1. Two churches in Blaine, two different denominations, working together to start a new church!
1. I love that!
5. Well, without further ado, let me welcome to the stage, Mark Allen, who will be starting Pursuit Community Church at the Mounds View Community Center in Mounds View.
1. QUESTION ONE: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do before this? Your family?
2. QUESTION TWO: Tell us why you feel called to plant a church? And why in Mounds View?
3. QUESTION THREE: What is Pursuit Community Church going to look like? What kind of church do you want to start?
6. If you look under your chair right now, you’ll find an interest response card for Pursuit Community Church. Go ahead and take a look at one.
1. There’s a number of ways you can respond if you have some initial interest.
1. You can join Mark’s prayer team, give a financial gift to help them get started, OR…
1. We are looking to send 15-20 people from our church (that includes kids) to go with to help start this church for a period of 9 months.
1. And then, maybe you come back, maybe you stay.
2. But for at least 9 months, you go, you serve, you give, you join a small group, you do whatever it takes to help get a new church off the ground and reach even more people for Christ.
1. If you’re just even a little bit interested in that adventure, would you write your name down, and stick it back under your chair.
1. We will come by and pick it up after the service.
1. Or, if you prefer, you can hand it to a greeter on your way out.
1. Either way is fine.
2. All right, thanks Mark, you can have a seat.
1. Ok. Let’s get started in our message today.
1. Most of us want to follow Jesus more closely.
1. We want to be more like Him…and give more of our lives to Him.
2. Even if you’re just checking out church for the first time in a long time (welcome, by the way), my guess is that you want to know more about God.
1. And yet, I find, that most of us find ourselves just halfway there…
1. We like Jesus. We want to give more of our lives to Him.
1. And yet, we don’t.
1. And How do we?
2. I believe there are some answers to those questions in God’s Word today as we continue to study the Gospel of Luke in our Lost & Found series.
1. (Page 835)
2. (Renovation App)
1. Last week we saw Jesus call his first disciples, and now we’re going to see him perform another miracle.
3. (Luke 5:12-16) – NIV
4. 12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
1. I want to, for a few moments, do something a bit different and actually work backwards in this passage…before we get to its main point.
1. Look at Verse 16:
1. We see that even Jesus, the Son of God, often withdrew to isolated places…and spent time with His Father God.
1. Jesus is a man of both service and solitude.
1. You need both.
2. Some of you need to get in the game, go out in the hallway after the service, and sign-up to serve.
3. Some of you that serve all the time, need to rest too.
1. Not quit. Rest.
1. Take a sabbath.
2. Be serious about refreshing yourself in God.
1. Imitate Christ.
2. Ok, Look at the second half of verse 14 now.
1. Why is the leper, after he’s healed, supposed to go show himself to the Jewish priest and offer sacrifices?
1. Well, for one, remember the NT hasn’t been written yet.
1. These people are living under the Old Covenant.
1. And the Jewish Law, in the Book of Leviticus, commands that believers were supposed to show themselves to the priest if they were healed.
1. And Leviticus 14 tells us that the priest would offer a certain sacrifice.
2. The priest, then, after 8 days, would officially welcome that leper back into the community.
1. So Jesus is doing this man a favor…he’s helping him officially be accepted back into his society.
1. Plus, this is going to be a testimony to the establishment, to the priests, of Jesus’ power.
3. And then one more note.
1. One of THE most common questions I get asked about the Gospels is this: “Why does Jesus (like we see in verse 14) sometimes tell people NOT to tell anyone what He just did?!”
1. There are a couple of possibilities here.
1. For one, Jesus didn’t want to be known as just a miracle worker, but as the Son of God…the Savior.
2. But I think perhaps the best answer is that Jesus has a lot He needs to do and teach in 3 years of ministry.
1. Jesus knows that if word spreads too quickly, they are going to kill Him too quickly
1. The Jewish leaders might have killed him at the one year mark instead of the 3 year mark.
1. So in a sense, he’s managing the time of his death.
3. THE RISKY RUN TO JESUS
1. So let’s start thinking about this leper.
1. If you’ve been around church for a while, you may have heard some teachings on leprosy before.
1. If you haven’t, 2,000 years ago, leprosy wasn’t just a skin disease, but a death sentence in every way possible.
2. Certainly, this leper once had a normal life.
1. We could guess that, based on his time and context, he was maybe a farmer.
1. Probably had a wife. Maybe 4 or 5 kids at home.
1. A good, normal life.
1. But at some point, he contracted leprosy.
1. He began to notice the changes in his skin, the weakness in his joints…and when he went to ask the priest about it…he would have been declared a leper…and banished from the city.
2. Couldn’t even give his own kids a hug good-bye.
1. Could only shout from afar.
3. His farm that he had worked for years to build up, all that was gone now.
1. And he would be banished outside the city, in the leper colony…
1. His wife would have come and dropped off his things at the colony…maybe some bread, some clothes.
1. But there would be no kiss goodbye…no final embrace.
1. As he would have stepped towards her, she would have stepped back...in fear.
2. And as the years went by, his children (even his wife) would have visited him less and less…for they didn’t know how to talk to him anymore.
1. And besides, as his leprosy would have advanced, his fingers, his toes, would have begun to fall off, and he would have been incredibly difficult just for them to look at
2. See, lepers didn’t just suffer physically, but socially, and emotionally.
1. They were outcasts in every sense of the word.
1. They couldn’t come into town…ever.
1. Banned from attending worship services.
2. Banned from the temple.
3. Banned from the community.
1. If they were even walking on the country road, and someone came by, they were forced to shout, “Unclean! I’m unclean!”
3. But this man, this particular leper, has had enough.
1. Somehow, he’s heard that Jesus is in the nearby town.
1. Look at verse 12 again.
1. I’ve read this 15 times before, and never noticed this until this week.
1. That’s why we keep studying Scripture!
2. (Luke 5:12a) – NIV
3. 12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.
1. Jesus is in a town.
2. The Scripture is VERY clear.
3. Luke mentions that seemingly minor fact on purpose
2. Because where’s the one place a leper CAN NOT go?
1. Into town!
2. This is going to be an absolutely incredible risk for this man
1. He knows that to get to Jesus, he’s going to have leave his leper colony, walk through the city gate, down the crowded streets, and somehow through the massive crowd around Jesus in order to get to the Savior.
1. But he takes the risk, and starts walking towards town anyway.
1. He thinks, hopefully, out of horror and fear, people will just move out of the way.
1. But this is a huge risk, because what would usually happen in the cases where lepers tried to enter towns, is that the lepers would be stoned to death.
1. People couldn’t risk coming near them, so they would pick up stones, and kill them from afar.
3. But somehow, someway, he’s able to get close to Jesus.
1. And as he falls at the feet of Jesus, you can imagine children ducking behind their parents, and adults stepping back.
1. But as everyone steps back, Jesus steps forward.
1. Towards the man.
1. He could have healed him with just a word.
1. He’s going to do just that in the very next story in Luke 5
2. But Jesus, very intentionally, reaches out, and touches the man who hasn’t been touched in years…
1. And He heals him.
1. The man was lost, and now, he’s been found.
4. WHY WE DON’T RUN
1. This is a man that’s willing to risk everything, because he knows nothing else will work.
1. He’s willing to risk everything, because He believes that Jesus can change everything.
1. We need to learn that same truth.
1. It’s the end of the line for this guy.
1. The Greek actually says he is FULL of Leprosy at this point.
1. He knows, that apart from Christ, he’s a goner.
2. But is it any different for you and me?
1. I mean, honestly, is it?
1. Can you save yourself apart from Christ?
2. Can you find the life you’re really looking for apart from Christ?
3. And yet even knowing that, too many of us are afraid to risk the pursuit of Jesus.
1. For some of you, maybe that’s turning your life over to Jesus for the first time.
2. For others of you that already know Jesus, you’re afraid to really chase after Him…especially publicly
1. It’s not all that popular any more.
1. And so, many of us are more like Nicodemus in John chapter 3, we’ll come to Jesus at night when no one’s looking.
1. But to really risk the pursuit of Him, in public…
2. To run hard after Jesus, all day long, and risk people saying, “What’s wrong with her? Why is she talking about how great God is? Why is he trying to talk to me about reading the Bible together. Seriously?!?
1. We fear, not the physical stones, but the verbal stones that might be thrown our way if we were to risk the pursuit of Jesus with all of our lives.
3. We don’t want to rub the culture the wrong way by how we talk, live our lives, our even live out our schedules…
1. We just almost never want to go against the grain.
1. In all these things, the risk of the all-out-march-through-town-while-the-world-watches-pursuit-of-Jesus…that risk, that scares us.
4. For many of us, we don’t want to risk fully giving our lives to the Lord because we just cannot stop convincing ourselves that we are fine on our own.
1. Surely, there is a better answer than throwing my life down in front of Jesus (and everyone else), right?? RIGHT?!?
2. This sort of self-deception is brutal. I feel this in my own life.
1. My sin never wants to stop trying to convince me, that I don’t really NEED Jesus THAT much. I just need a little Jesus.
1. There have been entire churches full of people in America who’ve fallen for this lie.
2. My sin tells lies to me that I’m mostly fine relying on myself most of the time.
1. I’ve got my education, my smarts, my wisdom…my…my…my…seriously, what do I even bring to the table that isn’t from Him?
2. I bring nothing. Nothing. Nothing worthwhile anyway.
1. Look at the words of Christ
2. (John 15:5) – NIV
3. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
5. Risk the pursuit of Jesus again…
1. Don’t be okay with just relying on yourself and settling in with the status quo
1. Maybe for some of you in this room, a way that you do this, is to dare to ask God, “Lord, speaking of pursuit, is it your will that I join the launch team of Mark Allen and Pursuit Community Church for 9 months”
1. Listen, we’re going to hit 10 churches in 10 years, and then even more.
1. 25 years from now, I believe the entire Twin Cities Metro is going to be a different place because of the people that have been sent out from this place.
1. This is an epicenter of a movement!
1. But it starts with people who risk the pursuit of Jesus.
6. A person is willing to risk everything if they believe Jesus can change everything.
1. A person is willing to risk everything when they realize they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
1. This is what the leper figured out.
1. He realizes that he’s basically on his deathbed.
1. Just like when someone’s given a month to live, their priorities suddenly become clear.
1. The man has already lost his farm, his relationships with his wife, his kids, and he’s about to lose his life.
1. So he risks the pursuit of Jesus and starts marching into town.
2. And so listen carefully to me.
1. You won’t leave the leper colony…you won’t leave the lifestyle of just blending in with the rest of the culture…even if it’s not glorifying to God…until you realize you’re on your own spiritual deathbed.
1. That apart from him…you can do nothing!
2. That the only thing that saves you, is a relationship with Jesus.
1. And the only thing worth truly living for is a relationship with Jesus.
3. Too many of us are back in the leper colony…pretending we’re just fine.
1. And we’re able to lie to ourselves that we’re fine, because we look around at everyone else around us, and when everyone you see has leprosy, you don’t feel too bad about having it too.
1. And as crazy as this is, I tell you the truth, most Christians would rather just say they’re saved, and then rot from the effects of sin than truly risk the pursuit of really running to Jesus day after day.
1. As Midwesterners especially, it’s like we’re terrified of turning heads, or doing anything differently…
4. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, “Rescue Dawn”
1. It came out a little over 10 years ago, and is about the true story of Dieter Dengler, who was an American Pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam War, taken captive, and made a prisoner of war.
1. Right when he gets the camp, Dengler starts thinking about how he’s going to escape.
1. And he spends months trying to convince the other prisoners to escape with him, but most of them don’t want to escape.
1. “It’s too risky,” they say.
1. They’d rather stay in their familiar misery of the prison camp, then risk something worse happening during their pursuit of freedom.
1. And that’s how too many of us feel
7. But look at me, if you haven’t started following Jesus yet, he is absolutely worth the risk.
8. If you are already a follower of Jesus, and yet you find yourself, in certain areas of your life, back in the leper colony…back in sin…
1. Risk running back to Him.
2. Risk giving this sin up to Him.
1. RISK THE PURSUIT
1. I guarantee you it’s worth it!
2. Oh yeah, it’s still a risk to leave and walk through town.
1. They could have stoned the leper.
1. If it wasn’t a risk, every leper in the colony would have come out to see Jesus.
3. But only the wise will take the risk to pursue Jesus with all of their heart.
1. Because only the wise realize this truth:
2. (Philippians 3:8 – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)
3. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
1. He’s the only one that can change everything.
1. You’ll get nowhere by settling for the familiarity of misery.
2. You won’t find him if you just stay outside of town…thinking about running to Him.
1. Risk the pursuit
4. Jesus is always calling you out.
1. He’s calling you to let go of running your own life, or finding your own life.
1. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said,
1. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
9. When that leper leaves the colony and starts walking towards the city gates, he’s said in his heart, “Give me Jesus or give me death,” but either way, he’s said goodbye to his old life.
1. It reminds me of the great missionary James Calvert
1. Calvert was a famous missionary of the 1800’s who was among the first to take the gospel to Fiji.
1. As they were getting close to the Fijian islands, the ship’s captain tried to persuade Calvert to not go…as the Fijian people were known as cannibals in those days.
1. The captain said, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.”
1. To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”
1. Can you say that about your life?
2. They put to death the part of them that wanted to just please themselves, and started living for Christ
1. Historical note: Jesus moved so mightily through James Calvert (who put his own selfish aims to death), that before his time in Fiji ended, even the Fijian King gave his life to Christ!
10. That’s what being a Christian is.
1. It’s not, hanging out in the leper colony and visiting Jesus on Sundays.
1. The leper doesn’t shout at Jesus from his leper colony and say, “Jesus, while I’m hanging out here, looking like everyone else, could you make me a bit more comfortable here? Perhaps take away the itchiness?”
1. Following Jesus isn’t about asking him to make you more comfortable where you are, it’s about leaving the colony behind; it’s about risking the pursuit of marching into town and asking Jesus to take all of you. ALL of YOU
5. ONE YEAR TO LIVE
1. Let me ask you an important question: If your heart starts feeling funny tomorrow, and you go into the doctor, and they tell you, “You have one year left to live”
1. How would your faith look different this next month?
1. How would you act differently at work? At home?
1. What would you do differently?
1. Take the rest of the service, the last song, this week, and answer that question!
2. Answer that question, and then, live that way, now…for the next few decades!
1. Because we’re all going to die…and so we oughta die now, we oughta die to living in the leper colony like everyone else.
1. There’s no life there anyway!
2. There’s no life in a leper colony!
1. Die to it.
2. Die to looking like everyone else.
1. It’s diseased.
2. Stop worrying about what people around you think (co-workers family), walk out of there, risk the all-out pursuit of Jesus again.
1. Die to it, and live!
1. I promise you it’s worth it.
2. I promise you that you will come alive!
1. Start walking. – LET ME PRAY
Copyright: David Sorn (or whoever the speaker is that week)
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN