Why do so many Americans put off finding God? And why is waiting for God to just show up not the best strategy? What should we do instead?
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Morning to you.
My wife and I have 3 kids.
And when we first started having kids, I made a promise to myself that I would always try to answer every single question that my kids ask.
A promise I now regret. Just kidding.
But I’ve been trying to live this principle out…within reason…because I want my kids to be incredible question-askers…because that’s how you learn.
But my 4 year-old-son…man, can he ask questions.
A couple of days ago, in the midst of a question-asking-flurry, he said:
“Daddy, did you use to have one of those old phones that people used to hang on the wall?”
“could you Facetime on it?”
“Daddy, that’s sad”
And he asks a ton of questions about God too.
“Daddy, is God nice?”
“How do we get to heaven? Like, who brings us there and on what?”
“Will there be Tigers in heaven?”
“Can I make cookies in heaven?”
And on and on…all day long…
A lot of us start out that way as kids.
We’re curious about God.
But for a lot of Americans…something happens along the way.
Maybe in high school…or in young adulthood.
Something happened. Somebody did something or said something.
Or maybe even you just slowly stopped thinking about God and asking questions.
Maybe you even had a question that no one could answer.
But somehow…the God thing still keeps popping up in the back of your mind every once in a while.
Is He real?
Should you be following Him?
And maybe nowadays, you’re not even sure who to ask your questions to anymore.
MOMENTS WHEN WE SENSE HIS PRESENCE
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself religious or spiritual, most Americans have these moments where God seems to somehow pop into their lives…
Let me give you 3 different categories where I see this happening.
1) The joyous milestones.
Like getting married.
You’re at your wedding…and maybe you don’t even think about God all that much…but you find yourself thinking about Him
Maybe, “Wow, thank you God for this person.”
Or, maybe, “Wow, what have I gotten myself into God”
Having a baby is a great example of this too
Plenty of people who don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about God, have their first kid…and all of a sudden they’re thinking:
“ This is a gift from God”
Until you get to your 3rd or 4th sleepless night, and you look up at Him and say, “Did it come with a gift receipt?”
Or perhaps lately you’ve been thinking that maybe you grew up in the church…and even though you don’t go to church anymore… what about them?
You’re wondering, “How will they learn if God is worth finding or not?”
And you find yourself thinking about God again.
2) A second place we find ourselves suddenly thinking of God again, is in tragedy.
You’re in a car accident.
Or the Doctor says you have cancer…or your father has cancer…
And you find yourself saying, “God, I know it’s been a while, but could you help me?”
When people reach heights higher than we thought we could (in the good times) or reach lows lower than we thought we would (in the bad times), we instinctively reach out for something greater than ourselves.
God made you that way.
So we would find Him when life takes us beyond ourselves.
3) A third place that a lot of people find themselves thinking of God again…is outside…in nature.
You watch the beauty of a sunset, you go out West and sea the majesty of the mountains, you head to the coast and watch the waves coming in on the ocean…
And you find your mind drifting to something higher.
Last year, I got asked to officiate a wedding right next to Glacier National Park in Montana, and our whole family went out.
Two days before the wedding, we went into Glacier National Park, and took our 3 kids (at that time, a baby and two 3-year-olds) on a 1 hr boat tour on beautiful Lake McDonald in Glacier
Worst idea of my life.
I kind of thought it would be just a boat ride where the kids could walk around the deck and look around.
Instead they sat us all down below deck in rows, and we listened to a tour guide monotonously tell us about different types of trees for 60 minutes.
My kids thought that was cool for about 15 seconds.
But after the boat ride, we went to the beach on that same lake…
(I brought you a picture)
(Show Glacier Family Photo)
And it was one of those moments where you just look out at the mountains and think, “Man, God is real.”
Even though this hippy guy right behind me is playing out of tune Eagles songs really loud on the beach right now, God is real.
God meant to reveal Himself that way…through his creation.
He says so in his book…the Bible.
(Isaiah 40:26) – NIV
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
In the early 1900’s, it is said that when President Teddy Roosevelt entertained diplomatic guests at the White House, he was fond of taking them out to the back lawn at the end of the day.
As the president stood gazing at the night sky, all eyes would eventually be cast upward, as his were.
In those days, the vast array of stars were not dimmed by all the city lights (nowadays I’m not sure if my kids even know that there are stars!)
But back then the magnificent display of God's creation would overcome the party.
After a long moment, President Roosevelt would often say, "Gentlemen, I believe we are small enough now. Let's go to bed."
WE WANT IT, BUT WE DON’T SEEK IT OUT
And it’s in those moments…the highs of life, the lows, or in nature…where we’re given the gift of God’s presence.
Maybe even in that moment, you think, “I should start praying again.”
Or “I should get back to church”
Maybe you feel a longing for more.
But if you’re like 90% of us, we want it…but then we don’t seek it out.
Why? Why is that? Why do we do that?
A couple of reasons, really.
For one, we get busy, right?
If we are anything, we are busy.
And God, for many Americans, sort of joins a list entitled, “I should do that, when I find the time” along with other items on that list like “working out,” “saving for retirement,” and “finding a hobby.”
We want to do it, but we just never seem to find the time to do it.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about having your family try church again for the last 5 years.
It’s something you’ve always meant to do…but somehow 1 year turned into 2 and turned into 5.
Whatever the case, we’re just glad you’re here.
This is a church of flawed people who know what it’s like to want to do something, yet we don’t do it.
A good percentage of this church just started following God even within the last few years.
For other Americans, they’re putting off their search of “Finding God” because somebody burned them in the past.
Maybe a former pastor…or a priest…or a youth pastor…or even a well-intentioned, but overbearing co-worker.
But God doesn’t want you to give up your search of Him just because a few of His representatives did a pretty poor job of representing who HE really is.
Christians aren’t perfect, but Jesus is.
Look at Him.
And thirdly, for a lot of Americans, I think they put their search for God on hold because they have unanswered questions.
Literally, twice in the last 10 days I read national articles about people who walked away from Christianity because they had hard questions as a teenager (or college student) and no one answered them for them.
We’ve tried to create a different culture here at Renovation Church.
A place where people can ask questions.
Like I told you that I tell my own kids…asking questions is how you learn.
I always tell the people here, “If God’s not real…if His teachings aren’t true, then I don’t want follow Him, and you won’t see me following Him.”
I follow Jesus not only because I believe in Him, but because I believe following Jesus is actually the most logical thing I can do with my life”
And maybe that sounds like a funny thing to say.
That following God is the most logical thing to do with your life.
How could following something you can’t even see be logical?!?
Well, first of all, keep in mind that “just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t logical or that it doesn’t exist.”
Can you see Oxygen?
Is it still logical to believe in?
How about the LTE cell phone signals floating around us right now?
Can you see gravity?
Even the leading scientists of 2017 can build mathematical models about gravity’s effects, but they still can’t tell you exactly WHY gravity works
Nor can they see it.
You of course can see the EVIDENCE of it! (DROP WATER BOTTLE)
But you can’t see “gravity” itself
And although I can’t prove to you that God is real in the same way I could prove to you that my wife is real…
I have faith that He’s real.
But my faith is different than the faith of someone who says, “I have faith I will win the powerball.”
This is a faith based on evidence.
In fact, the Bible even describes faith in these terms
(Hebrews 11:1) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!!!!!!!
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
Everybody has faith in something.
You either have faith that God is real or you have faith that He’s not real.
Both positions require faith.
Neither side is 100% provable.
I tend to believe that it actually takes A LOT more faith to believe that God is not real…than it does to have faith that He is real.
And by the way, the majority of Americans kind of shrug their shoulders on this question, (they’re not following Jesus daily but they’re not atheists either)
But to shrug your shoulders…is to take the position of, “God, maybe you’re real, but until I get some more convincing evidence, I’m basically going to live like you’re not”
A lot of us live like that.
We’re basically saying, “God, if you’re real, and you want me to give my life to you, than you better prove it! Show up here right now… with 43 angels and a Big Mac…and prove your existence!
But that’s sort of a silly way to go about life if you step outside of it.
Think of it this way.
Let’s say it’s years ago, and I’m just about to ask my wife out on our first date.
I’m intrigued by her…drawn to her. I think she’s beautiful. She seems smart and kind.
But I don’t REALLY know because I don’t yet really know her…I’ve just seen her around
If that were the case, I wouldn’t send her a note that said, “Lindsey, you seem amazing, and nice, and intriguing…now PROVE IT TO ME.”
No, I’m going to try and get to know her and find out.
And I think too many people look up to God and say, “Prove it to me!”
Imagine you’re God for a moment…
No wait, don’t do that…bad idea.
But what if you were God and you created all of these people, and this world, and this universe…
And you were looking down at earth, and all of the little people you created were saying back to you, “PROVE to me that you’re real, and you’re great!!.”
What would you be thinking?
You’d think, “Prove to you?!?…I just CREATED you! And those mountains! And gave you that last job! And your spouse and kids!”
God is great…but you own’t come to really know His greatness by waiting for it to fall in your lap…
You’ll find Him by seeking Him out…just like you would with anything else in life.
And by the way, He IS seeking you out.
That’s why He keeps popping up in your life at those key moments.
It’s why He has you here today.
(Psalm 139:7) – NIV
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
Wherever we go, God is there.
And He’s pursuing you…because you’re His creation…and He loves you!
Did you know this…He wants a relationship with you! To be a part of your life.
Where you talk every day.
Where He guides you.
Where you can know His unconditional love.
The bible also says this:
(Ecclesiastes 3:11) – NIV
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
He has set eternity in the human heart.
He put this thing in your heart when He created you that keeps bringing you back to this question, “Isn’t there more than this?” “Shouldn’t life be better than this?” “Is there more after this?”
That’s eternity…in the human heart.
SEEK HIM OUT
And so if God keeps popping up in your life…even if you’ve been trying to ignore Him…seek Him out.
The Bible says:
(James 4:8a) – NIV (NOTE: This is a partial verse)
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
I didn’t grow up a follower of Jesus, but when I was 18, I picked up a Bible and started reading about Jesus.
Because…I was always curious, and I wanted to know for myself.
I was at a spot in my life where I was intrigued by God, so I started to seek Him out.
And you know what, when I started to look for Him…He revealed more of Himself to me.
More and more I started to notice Him working in my life…until I finally I surrendered my life to Him and became a Christian.
He doesn’t force himself upon us, He doesn’t always answer to our shouts of “prove yourself,” but the Bible does make the following promise (This is God speaking)
(Jeremiah 29:13) – NIV
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Start a journey of seeking for God…not just waiting for Him to show up in grand fashion, or in nature, or in crisis.
One of the things I want to challenge every single person to in this room today, is to take our 3-week challenge.
(put up 3-week challenge slide)
We’re challenging everyone here to come here 3 weeks in a row…
It’s a very practical step to this journey of seeking out God.
You’re already 1 week in! 2 more to go!
What if you said, “You know what…It’s time for me (and my family…my kids) to start this process of finding God again…”
And I want you to try this…
I promise you…because the Bible promises you…if you draw near to God (you seek Him)…He will draw near to you.
You will find Him.
Let us help you.
This is an amazing place to be.
So many people who are just getting started in their faith.
And plenty who have been following God for a long time… are here to help guide you and answer your questions.
Whether this is your very first time in this church…or you’ve come to Family Fun day before, or Easter here before…
Would you think about not just coming for an event…but seeking God out?
Would you take the 3 week challenge?
Think about it.
And there are some of you in this room…right now…where God is finding you TODAY.
He’s doing something in your heart…right now.
You know what I’m talking about?
Showing you He’s real.
And when you find Him, and you find out that He’s real, and He is good…there’s only one logical thing you can do:
And that is surrender your life to Him.
To do anything else, is crazy.
Think about this.
The God of the Universe…the universe…is taking time to show YOU (1 of 7 billion on this planet) right now, that He’s real.
Do you know why He’s doing that?
Because He loves you.
And He tells us very clearly in the Bible, how we can know Him:
It’s through His son Jesus.
But there’s one huge obstacle to us knowing God
It’s our sin. All of our wrong choices.
And we have a lot of them. We all do.
And because God is perfect and Holy…He must also be just.
He must be fair and not overlook our wrongdoing.
So therefore, there must be justice for all of our sin.
We’ve sinned against Him our whole lives.
I spent 18 years basically ignoring Him…even mocked the people who followed Him.
If God is just (which obviously He is), there must be punishment for our sins.
But God wants nothing more than to be with you.
And so He sent His own Son, Jesus, to earth, to grow up, and die on the cross.
Why did Jesus die?
He died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins.
And the Bible says, that if you believe that God sent his son Jesus to die for you, and raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…forgiven.
(Romans 10:9) – NIV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The punishment for your sin will have been paid for.
You will be “not guilty” in God’s eyes.
And you can know Him!
And have this amazing relationship with Him.
The Bible says when you make this declaration of faith that Jesus died for you, and you want to follow God, that He will send His Holy Spirit (who is God) to live within you, and begin changing you.
God wants to change your life…He wants to come in your life and give you a peace and love that you could never imagine!
Do you want that?
Do you want to know Him and be forgiven?
To spend eternity in heaven with Him?
That’s what happens when you believe?
We don’t go to hell.
We go to heaven, forgiven!
I gotta believe there are some people in this room that are ready to make that decision today…and I want to give you the opportunity to do so!
In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If that’s you…and you do want to tell God for the first time today that you believe God sent his son for you, and that you want to start a relationship and follow Him…in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, today, September 10th, I want to start following you. I believe you died for me.
This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision.
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are. (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME. If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment
I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe in any scenario, that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, one of our leaders is going to come up and pray, but right before he does that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.
I’m going to go out there with you…(w/ some members of our follow-up team), and we want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
I promise you’ll be able to sneak right back into the service & back into your seats in just a few moments.
One of our Leaders is going to come up here now and pray…
But for now, would you please had out there with me.
Go ahead. We can all go together.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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