Tiny God, Tiny Life

Most of us don’t really have much control over our tongue. The Bible calls the tongue “a spark that can start a fire!” Thankfully James gives some good advice that even Smokey the Bear would love!

Transcript

RWANDA SEND-OFF

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.

This is an exciting week in the life of Renovation Church as there is a lot going on.

For instance, on Friday, we will be sending a team of TEN people to Rwanda…in Eastern Africa.  

At this point, I’d like to call that team forward

Brian Fulcher

Marcus Kramer

Tricia Carlson

Michael Barrett

Luke Wiersma

Scott Fredericksen

Emily Stroud

Chris Blatchley

Kristen Blatchley

And I will be going on the trip as well.

We leave on Friday, when we will begin around a 24-hour period of flights and layovers until we arrive in Rwanda Saturday night.

Then over 8-9 days, we will be working with an organization called SHINE (led by a great friend of our church, Sammy Wanyonyi who has spoken here before), and we will be sharing the Gospel everywhere we go.

In Churches, in parks where people hundreds will have gathered, door to door, on the streets, through children’s ministry, and through Sammy’s Outreach (where 10’s of thousands of people are expected)

Please, please pray for us!

On your way out today, you’re going to get handed a prayer postcard with our prayer requests.

Please put it on your fridge or counter these next two weeks and be praying for us!

At this point, I’m going to ask ______, one of our elders, to come pray for the team, and for the team members to step down.

If you’re a friend or family member, would you come up, and lay your hands on us in prayer.

That’s a way of commissioning people in missions that we see in the Bible. 

(Elder prays)

 

STORIES FROM A DIFFERENT WORLD

Well, as I get ready to travel halfway around the world in just 5 days, my mind has been thinking a lot about the Christians I’ve met in other parts of the world in the now decade since I started going on international missions trip.

And I’ve met a lot of people whose faith looks just like ours.

But I’ve also met more people abroad, than I have domestically, who have just absolutely wowed me with their faith.

I remember on our third trip to Haiti, we were building a roof for a church there, and the lumber for the roof was delivered the day before we got there.

We were told when we arrived the next morning that a bunch of men from the church slept overnight in the church (without a roof) with the lumber…because they were afraid it would be stolen.

And I thought wow!

I know another man in Haiti who is a spiritual leader in his community…a person that many look up to.

People in his community, when they’re starving and out of food, will often come and knock on his door…and ask for food.

And he’ll give them his food…even though he has children of his own to feed.

And he just prays that God will provide for him.  

Do we look even remotely like that??

The median household income in this city is $59,000 a year.

In this zipcode, it’s $92,000 a year.

That’s more money than almost every Haitian will make in an entire lifetime.

And yet most of us get bothered when the offering happens or some charity is asking for money….

Because we think…we NEED it!

There’s a man we’re going to see in Rwanda next weekend who works tirelessly for African Evangelistic Enterprise (the group that helps us on the ground there)

He makes a meager salary by working for them…doesn’t have a whole lot extra money beyond what it takes to feed his family.

And yet, as he learns of widows or children without homes…he lets them stay in his house.

He’s at times had had up to 20 people staying in his house at once.

SO they can have a bed…and a meal.

In a house that’s maybe about 1/5 of the size of a typical American house.

David Platt, in his Book Radical (which you should read if you want to see a serious look at what Christianity can and should look like)…in his book he describes many of his experiences in churches overseas.

Let me read you two of them:

He says, “Imagine all the blinds closed on the windows of a dimly lit room. 

Twenty leaders from different churches in the area sat in a circle on the floor with their Bibles open. 

Some of them had sweat on their foreheads after walking for miles to get there. 

Others were dirty from the dust in the villages from which they had set out on bikes early that morning.

They had gathered in secret. 

They had intentionally come to this place at different times throughout the morning so as not to draw attention to the meeting that was occurring. 

They lived in a country in Asia where it is illegal for them to gather like this. 

If caught, they could lose their land, their jobs, their families, or their lives.    

Later, David Platt talks of attending not just gatherings with leaders, but basic house church gatherings in a different place in Asia. 

He says church there is usually at least 3 hours, and happens late in the evening when it’s dark.  He writes:

“The Asian believer who is taking you gives you the instructions.  ‘Put on the dark pants and a jacket with a hood on it. 

We will put you in the back of your car and drive you into the village. 

Please keep your hood on and your face down.’…

With your hood over your head, you crawl out of the car, keeping your face toward the ground. 

Finally, you round the corner and walk into a small room. 

Despite its size, sixty believers have crammed into it.

They are all ages, from precious little girls to seventy-year-old men. 

They are sitting either on the floor or on small stools, lined shoulder to shoulder, huddled together with their Bibles in their laps. 

The roof is low, and one light bulb dangles from the middle of the ceiling as the sole source of illumination. 

There is no sound system.

No band.

No guitar.

No entertainment.

No space to move around

No heating or air-conditioning.

Nothing but the people of God and the Word of God.  

For much of the 20th century, the underground church in China looked exactly like this

And out of that environment…it absolutely exploded with growth.

Christianity looks almost nothing like that in America, and it’s shrinking here every year

And so, here are some of the questions I’ve been wrestling a lot with for the past 3 months or so (when I decided to do this message…)

Why does God seem to have so little impact on our lives here?  

Why, for a lot of us, do we do so little for God?  

We come to church…maybe 1 or 2 times a month (when it’s convenient)…we volunteer (serve God & others)…maybe once a month…but even that feels like a lot to us…and a few times a month we remember to read our Bibles.  

To most of our co-workers and friends…our lives don’t look hardly any different from theirs.    

And so most of the people around us aren’t interested in Christianity, in part, because to them, the God that we’re displaying to them through our lives looks pretty tiny

…and not worth their time…because we’ve essentially subconsciously said to them, “He’s not worth my time”

Where in countries where Christianity is exploding…friends are asking, “Tell me about this God you’re sneaking out to worship?!  Tell me about this God who inspires you to feed all this people?!”

Where do people look at your life and say, “Tell me about this God that inspires you to ______? 

And it all begs the question…Why does our faith, for many of us, have such a small impact?? 

 

 

YOUR VIEW OF GOD SHAPES EVERYTHING

This may surprise you, but it all comes down to what you actually think of God.

And I’m not talking about what you can write down on paper.

I’m talking about in your heart of hearts, when times are hard, what you actually think of God. 

The prolific writer, A.W. Tozer, says this is his book, The Knowledge of the Holy…right on page 1:  “

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” – A.W. Tozer

We can play this out pretty easily by thinking through two different paths.

For a lot of us…although we say God is God and big and majestic…in reality we think of God more like a personal administrative assistant…or maybe a personal genie in a bottle.

When there’s something we can’t figure out on our own, he’s someone we can call on…and He can give a little boost to our plans.

But if that’s what we think of God, what’ll happen is we’ll run most of our lives completely in our own strength.

Which will be painful, ineffective, and will result in tiny change and tiny impact.

In contrast to that, if we truly think of God as the God of the Universe (who can do anything He wants)…and by the way, also saved your life! 

You’ll surrender to that kind of God often because

1) You know what He can do!

2)  You know that you are on earth to serve Him.

He is God and you are not.

And when you live like that…like God is big…not tiny…He’ll have a big impact in and through you.

It reminds me of a little known story from the Old Testament in Judges chapter 7.

(page 196) 

(Renovation app)

After the Israelites, “God’s chosen people” in the OT, have been in the promised land for a little while, they start to fall away from God again.

But God continually raises them up leaders, called Judges, who lead them back to God.

The context of this story is that an enemy nation, called the Midianites, was oppressing the Israelites.

However, God raises up a leader named Gideon who raises up an army of 32,000 Israelites to fight back against Midian. 

Here’s what happens next:

(Judges 7:1-7) – NIV

Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’”

So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 

A number of other things happen (I encourage you to read the chapter this week), but Gideon gets the idea to have the men hold their torches in one hand and all 300 of them hold & blow trumpets (that were left behind) with the other hand.

And their enemy, the Midianites, confuse it for 300 divisions of men (not 300 men), get in a severe panic, start running and even turn on each other with their own swords.

But here’s the thing:

We’re told in the next chapter that the Midianites had 135,000 men! 

Over 100,000 more men than Gideon & the Israelites

 Yet, Gideon was promised by God (in chap. 6) that he would have victory against the Midianites.

And his men would have known this.

However, when the men are told, “If you’re afraid, go home…’”

22,000 of them run away.

For 22,000 of them, their picture of God was way too small.

They only saw the worldly details.

Those men that ran home probably believed in God. 

But for them, apparently God couldn’t handle those odds.

How you act…all depends on your picture of God…

How BIG is your God?  

And see these men who left…they missed out.

Can you imagine being the ones who stayed…better yet…one of the 300 chosen to go to battle?

Because of your faith…you get to see God to a tremendous thing.

You get to be a part of SOMETHING big…because you believed in SOMEONE big. 

Big God, Big life.

 

 

MAGNIFY HIM AND SEE WHO HE REALLY IS

Your view of God is the absolute most important thing of your life.

And so one of the best things you can do is get a better look at WHO He TRULY is.  

Look at Psalm 34

(Psalm 34:3) – NIV

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

The word “glorify” is sometimes hard for us to understand because it can have a lot of meanings, and we don’t use it a whole lot in every day language.  

You don’t tend to say, “I’m going to go online and glorify White Castle with a nice Yelp Review”

Actually the OLD King James version, believe it or not, sheds some light for us here.

It says, “Magnify the Lord with me”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I love that!

Magnify!  Which mean, “To make something appear greater…even though you’re not actually making it bigger.

God is as big as he can possibly be…we unfortunately see him as about 1/100 of his true size and power.

Magnify the Lord! 

Take a closer look in your life.

He’s enormous!

I can’t encourage you enough…Get in God’s Word, the Bible, every day…talk with Him every day.

Magnify the Lord…take another look. 

 He is so big…SO in control…so wise….so powerful.

The Bible is constantly using language like this to get to us try and Magnify the Lord.

(Isaiah 40:12-15) – NIV

 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
    or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

God is so big isn’t He?!

Let me show you something.

(Put black-dot image on screen)  - LEAVE UP TO NEXT PHOTO

Tell me what you see! 

No, look harder.  What do you see?

We all see the black dot, but we don’t see is the white space!

We do the same thing with our lives.

We see the black dots in our lives…

We see our problems, our trials, our weaknesses, our limitations…

But God in your life is the white space…He’s enormous.

Magnify the Lord!

Magnify the Lord…and it will change your life!

The bigger your view of God, the more impact He’ll have on & through your life

What if I were to show you a picture of the cross in just a second here?

What would you think?

Some of us think….“Oh pretty, I love hanging pictures of the cross in my home…painted with pretty sunsets in the background?”

(Show picture of the cross)  - LEAVE UP TO VERSE

What does this mean??!

It means everything.

It means that I should have suffered that death.

It means that I should be paying off my sins in hell for eternity.

But Jesus Christ, the son of God, looked at my pathetic excuse for a life, and came and gave His life for mine…paying his life as a ransom to set me free.

(Matthew 20:28) – NIV

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

You know what a ransom is, right?

It’s how you buy back someone who’s been kidnapped…or a prisoner…or a slave.

He bought us (set us free) with his blood on the cross.

(1 Corinthians 6:20) – NIV

you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

But we’re not going to do that until we realize how much He really paid.

One of the phrases that God keeps putting on my heart lately is this:

We deserve hell way more than we’ll ever realize…and yet, we’re loved way more than we’ll ever realize (2x)

What if we could understand that better? 

What would change??           

 In my morning Bible reading lately, I’ve been listening to the Book of Acts as I drive into the office.

And I keep thinking, “How is it that these disciples of Jesus are beaten and whipped for their faith…and right when they get out of prison…they rejoice about the fact that they were just whipped for Jesus…and head out immediately to go tell more people about Jesus?”

How can they do that?

Your view of God is the absolute most important thing of your life.

These men saw Jesus face to face. 

They saw the miracles. 

They saw his love for them

TO them, God is ENORMOUS. 

So full of love.

And beyond powerful…

And because they believe He is SO big…He does BIG things through their lives.   

But for many of us, we believe in a tiny God, and thus, we’re stuck with a tiny life…with little to no impact. 

We focus our lives inward like the black dot.

Spending our time worried about having the perfect house…instead of helping those who don’t have a house

Spending all of our time focusing on everyone liking us rather than focusing on them liking Jesus.

But you can change that!

Magnify the Lord.  Magnify Him!

He’s bigger and more powerful and more loving than you ever dared imagine!

Let’s start living like it.

 

 VOLUNTEER

My prayer is that God is putting some real specific things on your heart that you can change if you magnify Him.

Things that He can do in your life…if you would only see Him as bigger

And let me tell you something, this starts with us getting outside of ourselves.

And starts with getting off the throne, and putting Him back on.

Did you see what Jesus said in Matthew 20 when he talked about being our ransom?

(Matthew 20:28) – NIV

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 He starts by setting the great example…he serves.

When you serve others (like all of those stories I told of those people overseas in the beginning), you invert the story.

People don’t see another black dot…but a whole lot of white space.

And God can start to move from their periphery into their line of sight.  

Every Christian has to start there…serving others.

If you’re not serving here yet…make today absolutely the day that that changes…at minimum

When you walked in this morning, on your chair was a list of ways that you can serve God and others here…to serve God the one who served us by giving his life.

Read that over sometime this morning.  Find a place where you can carry this Biblical principle out..  

God is doing absolutely amazing things at this church…we’ve seen SO many come to Christ and grow leaps and bounds in Him.

And we want you to serve with us…to be a part of that with us.

I want every single person in here, many of you have done this already, to find a way to get on board with this.

As we say here often, “Renovation Church is not a cruise ship…it’s a row boat…pick up an oar.”

Today.  Seriously.  Don’t leave here without Magnifying the way you look at God and taking some steps forward.

Let go of every excuse.

“You’re too busy.  You’re tired.  You’ve got kids.  You’ve got...”

That’s black dot sort of thinking.  

If you feel like serving for an hour on a Sunday morning is just picking up your cross too much for Jesus…I would ask you, “Who is God to you?”

Whenever I hear that kind of thing, I always think, “Do they know?  Do they know who you are Jesus?”

That you gave EVERYTHING for them…including your life. 

That you are just obsessively in love with them.

And that you have SO many great things in store for them…

If they would just magnify you…and take a closer look at who you REALLY are. 

And serving at your church is just the beginning.

I say it, because it’s a foundational start.

75% of you already do.

And for you, I pray God is beckoning you deeper.

Serve more.

Open up your home to people in need.

Start sponsoring a child.  (WWV)

Start doing some sort of Foster care with Safe Families or another organization.

Adopt

Sell all of the stuff that’s been sitting in your closets for the last 5 years, and then pray and ask God where he wants you to give the money to.

When God is big, it gets you off the couch to start living a bigger life.

 

 

LAND

And before I step down this morning, I think I would be remiss to not apply this message to where we are at as a church right now.

As most of you know, we’ve been trying to find land for our growing church for 18 months now…and it hasn’t happened yet.

As we run into obstacle after obstacle I sometimes feel like God is doing the same thing He did with Gideon. 

Whittling down our army.  

Not that we’re losing people…quite the opposite in fact!

But I feel like He’s causing us to lose our self-reliance and determination to do it via our own minds and ideas. 

I’m just absolutely convinced that God wants…and is going to get…the credit for this when it happens.

And so this week, as a body of believers called Renovation Church, what most of us have been doing when we have been praying for the land, maybe unknowingly…is Magnifying the Lord  

When you pray, you’re bringing Him closer…taking a closer look…and saying, “God…YOU CAN DO THIS…this is not too hard for you!”

And tonight…as we culminate this week of prayer at our Prayer Event…we want to Magnify Him together.

We’re going to believe in a Big God…who delivers Big impact.

So as we finish this critical week of prayer tonight…

As your pastor, I beg of you, please join us…

Prayer is everything.

This is SO important to the future of our church.

Come and pray with us.

And listen, as we magnify Him, as we put our trust in Him, and we see just how BIG He is…He’s gonna do BIG things.

Let me pray.


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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