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This document contains: • Part One: The Change Process • Part Two: Grow • Part Three: Serve
MOVEMENT: connect, grow, serve Part One: The Change Process By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 9.12.10
Welcome to a new ministry year here at Cedarbrook! Our children’s ministry is kicking off their new programming today. Our youth ministry is kicking off their programming on Wednesday night and our Mom’s small groups are starting a new book study this week plus I’m starting a new series today. It’s an exciting time of the year. Some of you are brand new to Cedarbrook and it’s great to have you with us. Some of you have been in and out for the summer and you are back. Some of you are students and you might be brand new. And some of you might have been dragged here by a friend or family member so thanks for being a good sport about it! To start I want to give you a little background on our church. If you’ve been around here for a while you may have noticed that we changed the tagline that goes with our logo. When we first started the church our tagline read, “come and be refreshed”. I liked that phrase because it communicated that we weren’t going to cram religion down your throat. We are on your side and church can be a good experience. But after about three or four years we wanted to convey more to people than that we wouldn’t do them any harm. We wanted to communicate to people that Cedarbrook is a place of change… Cedarbrook is really a place of transformation. We wanted to raise people’s expectations on what they can expect if they come here. And so we created a tagline that wasn’t so passive but showed movement. Now it reads “connect, grow, serve”. We want people to understand that we have an agenda here. We aren’t hiding anything. You are welcome to be as passive as you’d like here but you should know that our agenda is to help you grow spiritually and so I want to talk about that for the next three or four weeks. I’m calling this new series MOVEMENT; connect, grow, serve. If you are new here and trying to decide if Cedarbrook is the church for you I hope you’ll come back for a few weeks to hear what I have to say about each one of these words. These three words, together, tell the story of what we want to see happen in everyone’s life that comes to Cedarbrook.
You know, some people would never associate the word “movement” with “church”. In their mind church is a sleepy little gathering of people that meets on Sunday. Nothing changes from week to week. Nothing moves. It’s always the same. And it doesn’t require anything from you. Some people like that. You can be entirely passive. You don’t even have to talk to anyone. You can just slip in and slip out. You could say that the goal of this kind of church is to simply maintain the status quo. The people that attend this kind of church tend to have the same goal. They aren’t looking to change or grow spiritually. They are content to simply believe in God and check in at church from time to time. What they really want is just a place to baptize, marry and bury their family. But they aren’t looking to change. They don’t want God moving in their life. Well, I’m here to tell you that God doesn’t work that way. God is a god of movement not maintenance. And that means that church is a place of movement not maintenance. When you encounter God his goal is to move in you and through you to impact others for good. The Bible tells us that… It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 God moves inside of you to change the way you think to align with how he thinks and then he motivates you to act on what you believe. The minute you open your life to God he comes into your life and starts to shake things up. Have you noticed that? God is not passive in his approach to you. He’s active. And he’s got a plan for your life. He’s got a purpose. And that plan involves moving you…changing you…making you into the person that he’s always wanted you to be…the person he created you to be. So if you are new here I just want to make sure that you know that this is not a sleepy little church that has low expectations on God or for what God wants to do in your life. I mean, strap on your helmet when you come in here and prepare for the ride of your life because God wants to take you some place! The Bible tells us that God’s ultimate plan for you is to shape you into the image of Jesus… to RECREATE you with the character of Jesus. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. Romans 8:29 (The Message) That word “shape” here means to mold or fashion something into the likeness of a model. The word was used at times to talk about how people hammered metal into a desired shape or a sculptor fashioned clay into a piece of pottery. The point here is that God’s agenda is to take you and form you into the image of Jesus. Now, let me ask you this… based on who you are and who Jesus is…how much work do you think it will take to chisel you into the image of Jesus? A lot of work, right? To get you to where God wants you to be is going to take significant movement. So don’t kid yourself thinking this is a casual investment of your life. It takes everything you’ve got.
I mean, it’s like that monument they are creating of Chief Crazy Horse in South Dakota. Has anyone been there? They are having to blast away tons and tons of rock to bring that image out of the rock. That cliff is being shaped to look like the model. If you’ve been to the Visitor’s Center they have a large model of what they are attempting to achieve in carving the cliff. And that’s exactly what’s happening in your life. God is blasting away all kinds of things to shape you into the image of Jesus. Maybe you thought this Jesus thing was going to be a piece of cake. You just pray a few prayers and hear a few sermons and presto… you are brand new. But it’s going to take more than that to effect the change that God has in mind. You might say, but Remy, that’s not the deal. That’s not why I’m here. I’m not looking for God to do anything in me. I just want a little religion. I just want enough religion to make me feel good…enough to comfort me through hard times…enough to make me not worry about what happens when I die. I’m just here to give my kids some kind of religious training but that’s it. I’m not looking to grow spiritually. You know, if that’s all you want…I’m not going to push you. I can’t make anyone go deeper with God. But I just want you to know that God has an entire renovation project prepared for your life and when you are ready, he’s ready. He’s waiting because he’s a God of movement. And I am here and we are here as a church to help you in that process. So, let’s just imagine that you want to engage with God in that process. What would that process look like? Well, that’s where our three words come in: connect, grow and serve. CONNECT simply means to engage with God’s people. If you want God to move in your life you need to move out of isolation and comfort and connect with other people seeking God. I’ll talk about this in a minute. GROW means to intentionally take steps to know God better. I’ll talk about that next week. And SERVE means to lay aside your agenda to help others. Jesus never taught that the goal of church was to get as many people in a building to sit in rows and listen to someone talk. Many some church leaders think like that but not God. The goal of church is to create a community of people who lay down their lives for others just like Jesus did. That’s what God had in mind when he sent his Spirit into the world. He wanted to empower a community of people to replace the ministry of service that Jesus had on earth. Imagine a community of people this size that allowed God to rewire them into serving others on a daily basis and then these Sunday meetings were merely meant to encourage you in your ministry. They were a rally to pump you up to go back and serve more in the name of Jesus. I think that’s the kind of church that God is looking for. I think that’s the kind of church that the world is waiting for. So our mission at Cedarbrook is to help you connect to a growing relationship with Jesus and we believe we can help you do that when you connect, grow and serve.
So let’s take a look at this first word…connect. Connecting is really the easy part. And it’s amazing what simply connecting can accomplish. Think of it this way. Look at this tire. This tire, all by itself, is just a hunk of rubber, right? Very unimpressive. But attach it to a wheel and put that wheel on an axle and suddenly that tire is a part of a car with all kinds of potential. It can take a family on vacation, it can transport food across the country. It can rush a heart attack victim to the hospital. This tire is transformed by simply connecting to the car. It finds meaning and value in being connected. And think about it…that tire doesn’t even have to do anything. It just sits there and spins as the car powers its way down the road. My point is that this hunk of rubber only has significance when it is connected to something greater than itself. Apart from the car it can do nothing. It has no purpose or significance. But it finds both significance and purpose when it is connected to the car. You could say that about a lot of things. You could say that about this microphone. It’s just a wire and some plastic but connected into the system it plays a powerful role in communicating good news. Or how about the lights? Disconnected they are just wire and glass. They are worthless. But connected into the system they can light this room. In the same way, we find our purpose and significance when we connect to Jesus and his band of believers. Let’s look at what Jesus called his disciples to do. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22 The first thing Jesus asked of people was to connect…to follow. I love that. It’s so simple. Anyone can follow. It doesn’t require anything from us but our time. Jesus said, if you want to find purpose and significance it starts by being with me and my group of followers. One of the most spiritual things you can do is simply show up…connect…follow. Choose to be a part of what God’s people are doing and not just living by yourself and for yourself. You know, a lot of what Jesus disciples did was follow and watch, follow and watch. Over time they got more involved but not at first. I like what the Bible tells us about Matthew being called by Jesus. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth."Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. Matthew 9:9-10
What’s the first thing Jesus did after Matthew joined his band? Have a Bible study? Go to church? Sing some hymns. Go on a mission trip? Feed the hungry? No, the first thing they did is go to Matthew’s house and hang out together. My point here is that if you want to become the person that Jesus called you to be…if you want to see God move in your life and change you… then the first thing you need to do is connect with God’s people. It’s that simple. Coming to a worship service on Sunday is a start. You did that! You get a gold star for the day. But it’s more than that. You know, it’s easy to come here, not talk to anyone and then go home…having never really connected. But connecting involves taking steps outside of this meeting on Sunday. Take your bulletin and flip it over. Look at that last page. I just want to show you some of the ways you can connect here. • Cedarbrook 101 once a month for newcomers to the church.. • Small groups • Men’s group • Mom’s book study • Volunteer here on Sundays or through the week. So the first step change is to simply engage. Show up. Participate. It’s more spiritual than you think. I used the example of a tire and a car but the Bible uses another metaphor. The Bible often talks about the church in terms of a body. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 1:27 Now, when do members of a body have life? When does my arm have life? When it’s connected to the body, right? If my arm was detached from my body it wouldn’t live too long, would it. That’s the image that God wants you to have of yourself apart from his church. As long as you are attached you have life and purpose. As soon as you disconnect you lose that life and direction. You lose your significance in terms of God’s kingdom. So if you want to grow spiritually, if you want God to move in your life then make sure you stay connected to the body. I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking…but the church doesn’t need me. I don’t have anything to offer. I don’t know anything. I can’t do anything. But listen to what the Bible says about people like you… The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… 1 Corinthians 12:21,22 I’d underline that word “indispensable” in my Bible. No matter who you are, you matter to God. Your involvement makes a difference. Your involvement is a game changer. The sad thing is that most people don’t realize that and so most churches operate at half capacity.
Imagine if half of your body parts decided to not engage tomorrow morning. How effective do you think you would be? IF you are my age or older you know what I’m talking about! You see that’s what most churches are like. They rarely function at 100% because so many people choose to not engage. They don’t think they are important. So I want to leave you with a challenge today. I want to challenge you to connect here at church between now and Christmas. (And if not this church then at some church). I’m talking just over three months. Okay? Some of you have never done anything for three months. Now’s your chance. Some of you have never connected to a church for that long. But the funny thing is I think you are the people that are often wondering why God never moves in your life or why you don’t feel close to God. You fail to understand that connecting to God’s people is a big part of connecting to God. It’s like a microphone that cuts in and out. It never accomplishes its purpose. It actually defeats the purpose of communication by causing a distraction. But that’s what so many people do spiritually. They float in and out based on their schedule or their stress level. They lack consistency and it stunts their growth. If you connect here for three months…not just on Sunday but in at least one other way during each week, I’m betting that your life is going to change for good. God will move in your life and you’ll see some changes. And I predict that as a result you are going to like yourself better. You are going to feel closer to God than you’ve ever felt. And if you don’t, then you can come tell me you wasted your time and I’ll buy you a movie ticket to make up for all the good movies you missed while you were make your connection here at church. What’s one thing you can do to engage at Cedarbrook? Take the feedback form and sign up for something… anything but get involved and watch God move. Prayer: Father, we don’t want to be like this tire… all alone and lacking purpose. Help us to draw on you to find the courage to connect and stay connected. We want your life to flow through us so we can find our purpose and be used to impact others for good. Amen.
MOVEMENT: connect, grow, serve Part Two: Grow By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 9.19.10
This morning we are in my second of three messages that I’m calling Movement: connect, grow, serve. Those three words, connect, grow, serve are the tagline in our logo. I’m talking about this because I know that there are many new people here at Cedarbrook and they are trying to figure out if Cedarbrook is the right church for them. So I want to make sure that everyone understands who we are and what we are about. It’s really the big picture of what we believe God is doing here at Cedarbrook. You see, if you grew up in a sleepy little church that saw its purpose in life as simply providing you with a weekly religious ritual…that’s not us. That’s not what we are about because we don’t believe God is interested in helping people to simply be religious. Religion has more to do with pleasing us than pleasing God. But God is interested in changing your life. Nothing pleases God more than a changed life. He wants to take you from where you are today and shape you into the image of Jesus Christ. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him into the image of his Son. Romans 8:29 So, church isn’t just a place to get baptized, married and buried and have a few potlucks in between. Church is a community of transformation. At least that was God’s plan. It’s a place of movement where God first moves in us and then through us to touch others It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 This tells us that God wants to work in you so you think like he thinks and you act like he acts. I think that’s pretty exciting! That might seem a little intimidating…like it’s too lofty of a goal. But God expects a lot more out of us than we do, not because he is a slave driver but because he knows our potential. God wants us to live up to our full potential but we only do that when we allow him to move in us. Connect – Grow – Serve Last week I introduced the process that God uses to make us like Jesus with three words; connect, grow and serve. I used a tire as an example of what it means to CONNECT. I said that
a tire is just a useless piece of rubber until you attach it to a car. But when you attach it to a car it suddenly has value and purpose. In the same way when you connect to God and his people you find value and purpose. You become part of something bigger than yourself that is doing good in a world that desperately needs good to be done. But there is more to our life with God than simply connecting. He wants us to GROW. I’m going to talk about that in a minute. And then ultimately God wants us to SERVE. I’m not just talking about doing acts of service…like if you volunteer for some project every week that you have arrived spiritually. I’m talking about you taking on the life of a servant. The Bible talks about it by saying Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… Philippians 2:5-7 This means that your new identity isn’t rooted in your personal success but in being a servant. Your identity is now tied to making other people successful. I’ll talk about that in two weeks. But there’s a big gap between connecting and becoming a servant…don’t you think? So in between connecting and becoming a servant is growth. Growth moves you from connecting to servanthood. So the question is… How do you know if you are growing? How do you know if you are moving toward servanthood? What Growth is Not We often get this wrong. A lot of people think that growth is just RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY. They think that if they come to church that’s growth. Or if they read the Bible or pray that that’s growth. Or if they go on a mission trip then they have definitely grown. Well, maybe. Doing those things might be a sign of growth inside of you. But not necessarily. You can do these things and not have the same attitude as Christ. Growth is more than doing things. Other people think that growth happens when they acquire INFORMATION. They can quote the Bible or Mother Theresa or Billy Graham or Shane Claiborn. These people deceive themselves into thinking that the volume of books they read or sermons they listen to or conferences they go to automatically causes growth. But we know that’s not true. We’ve all met well versed Christians who have significant character issues.
Other people think that growth comes with AGE. They think they are wise simply because they are old. They think their experience automatically translates into wisdom and character. But it doesn’t. What Growth is If activity, information and age don’t qualify as growth…then what does? Jesus said it had to do with fruit. We know when we are growing when we start to see fruit in our lives. The Bible tells a shocking story of Jesus cursing a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit (Matthew 21:19,20). It seems kind of harsh. You see, Jesus wasn’t impressed with how tall the tree was or how many leaves it had or how old it was. If there wasn’t any fruit then what purpose did it have? John the Baptist said something similar… Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:8,10 Now cursing a tree or cutting it down might sound pretty harsh but Jesus and John didn’t say anything that any farmer doesn’t already know. If your plants don’t produce a crop they are worthless and you get rid of them. I had this experience just this summer. I planted some radishes but I made the mistake of planting them in the shade. They grew long and spindly and when I pulled them up there was no radish, just a long thin root. What do you think I did with them? I pulled them up and threw them in my compost heap. They were worthless. That’s what farmers do with crops that don’t produce. Jesus and John didn’t say what they said to scare us or condemn us or make us give up. They said it so we would consider the purpose of our lives. So many people spend half their life trying to survive and the other half entertaining themselves. Isn’t that true? But Jesus and John said life has a bigger purpose than survival and entertainment. Life is about producing fruit so we should start to orient our lives around that goal. Jesus and John put things in very graphic terms to make their point. Now what is considered fruit? Fruit is the character in us that moves us to love and good deeds. I used to think of character in passive terms. It’s just a quality that you hold. But that’s not right. Character is a quality that positions us for action. Character is the quality that causes us to serve others before we serve ourselves.
I created this definition of fruit after reflecting on something the Bible says. …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23 Think about what it’s like to be around someone with these qualities; love, joy, peace…etc. Each one of these qualities naturally causes you to be a blessing to others. These aren’t self-serving qualities. These are qualities that produce a generosity of spirit and move you to action on the behalf of others. So, what produces this fruit? A few years ago I was listening to a call in program for gardening and a typical question was…my plant isn’t growing, what can I do? The expert would always ask the same question…what’s your feeding program for your plant? And that always stopped the caller cold because the thought never occurred to them that the plant probably wasn’t growing because they weren’t taking care of it. They shoved it in the ground and threw some water on it and expected it to produce fruit! Unfortunately we often have the same thought in regard to our spiritual growth. We think if we ask Jesus to come into our lives and pray now and then and go to church when it’s convenient that we’ll have this incredible harvest of fruit in our lives. But that’s not how it works. We have to be much more intentional than that. Just like plants we need a feeding program to keep us healthy and fruitful. A Feeding Program for Growth The Bible shows us three things that are needed for our feeding program: The first is Truth. If we want to grow we need massive amounts of Truth in our lives. Truth is the fertilizer that leads to growth. We need Truth to counteract all the lies and falsehood in this world. When you think about Jesus’ ministry at least half of it was characterized by teaching. He knew that if he wanted us to grow that we need to see life through different eyes. We need to look at life from God’s perspective (the Truth) not the world’s perspective. The Spirit is what gives life; your will power means nothing. The words I have spoken to you-they are full of the Spirit and life. John 6:63
And so, if you want to grow…if you want God’s life in you…fill yourself with Jesus’ words – his Truth - because they have Spirit and life. Thankfully, the bulk of his teaching has been preserved for us. Psalm one makes a connection between God’s word and the production of fruit in our lives. It says… Blessed are those whose…delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-- whatever they do prospers.…Psalm 1:1-3 It’s telling us how being submersed in God’s word causes growth which produces fruit. That’s why in the Old Testament God said… These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Growth is like most things in life. You get out of it what you put into it. So I can’t encourage you enough to expose yourself to the truth of the Bible. In three weeks I’m going to start 31 week series where I teach my way through the Bible. I really hope that you’ll seize this moment and read along with me and join a small group. This could be a once in a lifetime chance to read through the Bible with a whole church full of people. So Truth is important but if you really want to grow you need more than Truth. You need to practice the truth. You need to put the teaching into practice. That’s why Jesus always ended his teaching by challenging people to obey his teaching. This is how Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27 I was reading about how Tiger Woods has a couple weeks off before the Ryder cup and he is thankful because he wants to practice his putting and chipping. I don’t get that. I figure… how good can your putting get? Don’t you think that over the past 30 years that Tiger has practiced
enough? But clearly he understands that there’s room for growth. He hasn’t arrived and he is relentless in maximizing his potential through practice. If Tiger Woods feels that way about golf…how much more should we feel that way about producing fruit for God’s kingdom? Don’t you think we should want to maximize our full potential for God by developing the most character we can? But instead, what do we say? I’m pretty humble. I think that’s good enough. I’m pretty loving. I think that’s good enough. But, do you know what? We’ve all got a looooooong way to go with our character. Truth alone won’t change us. We need to practice the truth. • Every time someone irritates you you have a chance to practice humility and love instead of telling them off. • Every time you have to wait for something you have a chance to practice patience instead of complaining. • Every time you are offended you have the opportunity to practice forgiveness instead of seeking revenge. Whenever Jesus taught he expected his disciples to put his words into practice. You see, whenever you practice the truth you grow spiritually. The last thing that helps us grow is Coaching. Jesus knew that truth alone doesn’t make us grow. Even practicing truth is futile without the support of a coach because we tend to practice the wrong things. The Bible talks about three kinds of coaches to help us practice the right things. The first coach is the most important. It’s God’s spirit. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 The word “advocate” means someone who comes alongside of you to encourage. That sounds like a coach to me. But the Spirit of God does more than teach and encourage you. It empowers you to live out the teaching. The second kind of coach is a pastor or some kind of minister. Paul wrote to the Colossian church about his role as their coach… We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:28-29 The third kind of coach are your Christian friends. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 13:3
God wants us to encourage each other in our faith. We need each other if we want to grow spiritually. Well, I hope I’ve helped you see how you can take some steps to grow spiritually. Don’t be casual about your faith. Don’t be passive. If you want to grow then you need to make it a priority and take intentional steps to change. There are a couple things you can do right now to put this sermon into action. First, you can buy The Story. Second, you can sign up for a small group and be reading to go on October 10 as we start reading through the Bible for the next eight months. Prayer; Father, we are honored that you think so much of us that you are willing to take the time to shape us into the image of Jesus. Clearly you have a plan for us if you are willing to go to all that trouble. Help us to see what you see in us. Help us to be as passionate about maximizing our potential as Tiger Woods is passionate about maximizing his golf game. You deserve our best.
Going Deeper: Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with family, friends and/or your small group. 1. What stood out to you from this message? 2. Have you ever been frustrated or disillusioned about not growing spiritually? Have you ever confused activity, information or age with growth? If not you, someone you know? 3. Read Galatians 5:22,23. Which of the fruit listed is missing in your life? 4. Read 5:24,25. What do these four verses tell us about the Spirit’s role in producing fruit? 5. If spiritual growth results from teaching, practice and coaching then which of these three are missing in your life? What steps can you take this week to change that? 6. Read Matthew 7:13-29. Note what stands out to you about Jesus’ words. 7. Pray for your group members to take the necessary steps to grow spiritually.
Communion I’ve heard from people how communion has often been a time of exclusion in past churches. They were excluded for a divorce. Or excluded for having a child out of wedlock or just having a questionable reputation in general. That’s too bad because communion should be just the opposite. It should be a time of inclusion. We do this celebration every month to remind each other that our relationship with God has nothing to do with how good we are and everything to do with how good God is. It has nothing to do with what we’ve done and everything to do with what he’s done for us. The Bible tells us that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us or exclude. He came into the world to include us. The Bible also says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. I don’t see any qualifiers behind the word “everyone”, do you? It seems pretty all inclusive to me. So if you would like to be included in the “everyone” then I invite you to join us this morning.
THE STORY Next week we are starting a new sermon series and it’s significant. We are going to take 31 weeks to work through the entire Bible using The Story. We’ll only take off two weeks before Christmas. Some people have asked me about The Story…if it replaces the Bible or undermines the Bible in any way. That’s a good question. No, The Story doesn’t replace the Bible. But it will help you to understand the Bible. The Story takes the main stories of the Bible and puts them in chronological order in thirty one chapters. My guess is that The Story is about 80% of the Bible. It cuts out duplicate stories and information that doesn’t add to the story line. But what it helps you do is understand the big story of the Bible without getting you bogged down in some of the confusing parts. I hope you’ll consider doing three things. First, buy the book. It comes in Adult, Youth and a Child’s version. If you don’t have the money, just tell us and we’ll give it to you. We don’t want anyone to miss out on this experience. Second, I hope you’ll join a small group. You can pick up a list of small groups on the information table. They meet just about every day of the week. But if you can’t find a small group then why not start your own with your family or some of your friends? And if that doesn’t work or you don’t feel comfortable in a small group then join me for a classroom study either on Wednesday nights (6:45 – 8:00 p.m.) or for men, on Saturday morning (8:30 – 9:30 a.m.)
And finally, I hope you’ll invite your friends. You’ll be surprised how many people are interested in reading through the Bible. Not a replacement for the Bible. It’s an edited version that puts the main stories of the Bible in chronological order in 31 chapters.
MOVEMENT: connect, grow, serve Part Three: Serve By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 10.3.10
Have you ever said this or heard it said… I don’t need church to worship God. I can worship God right here in my_______( fill in the blank)… in my boat or in my tree stand or in my bathtub or in front of the TV watching my favorite TV preacher? You know, I appreciate what they are saying. That makes sense but it tells me that they haven’t had a very good church experience. For them, church is just a big waste of time. They would ask, Why get dressed up and leave the comfort of my home on a Sunday morning, no less, sit on a wooden pew, subject myself to songs that I don’t like and don’t make sense and a sermon that is too long and has nothing to do with real life? How does that show God worship any more than from my boat or living room? And, do you know what? …I totally agree. If the sole purpose of church is to simply thank God or acknowledge God, they are right. There’s no need to leave the comfort of your home. You can thank God anywhere and save yourself the discomfort of a bad church service. But what if the purpose of church is bigger than simply to acknowledge God and it went beyond Sunday morning? What if God wanted to use church to change your life in a significant way? But more than that…what if God wanted to use you in the church to help change the lives of other people? Then maybe sitting in your boat or your bathtub isn’t enough. You see, we often think of church in such passive terms. We think of church as something we observe more than something we participate in. But what if God wanted you to take some action? That’s why I’ve called this current series “Movement” because God doesn’t want you to
stay the same month after month and year after year. He wants there to be movement in your life and I’ve summarized that movement in three words: connect, grow and serve. Let me just recap here a little. The first thing God wants us to do is connect to other believers. The Bible uses the metaphor of a physical body. The church is like the body of Jesus. Each one of us is a member of this body. But Jesus is still the head of the body. He tells us all what to do. Now imagine that you are a foot in this body. As the foot, you only have life and purpose as long as you are connected to the body, right? If you were severed you would not only lose your life you would lose your purpose. So it’s very important to stay connected. And that was my first point. We need to take some steps to get connected here beyond Sunday. But just connecting isn’t enough. You and I need to grow. We need to mature. we will … grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15 The picture here is of a mature head with an immature body…like a man’s head on a child’s body. If we want to fully represent Jesus on earth then we need to grow up. We prove that we have grown up when we don’t just quote the words of Jesus but we live the words of Jesus. And what does that look like? The Bible tells us that we look like Jesus when we live a life of serving others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… Philippians 2:5-7 So we connect. We grow and as a result of growing we serve. Just to be clear…this is our agenda for everyone who comes to Cedarbrook; to help you connect, grow and serve. And I don’t just mean serve like serve in the nursery. I’m talking about having a servant’s heart…an attitude of humility that puts others first rather than yourself. An attitude that is committed to doing what Jesus asks us to do. You see, success for us as a church isn’t to fill all the seats here on Sunday. Success happens when people are consistently becoming servants as a result of our ministry. A few years ago I read a book called Change or Die that I think summarizes the process of connect, grow, serve. The author also used three words but his three words were; relate, rehearse and reframe. He said that the first thing you need to do to change is relate to someone…you need to connect to a person or a group of people that will help you change. You can’t do it alone. But beyond
connecting,what’s really important is that you connect to either a person or a group of people that you like. In other words, if you don’t like your counselor or your doctor or your pastor or your small group, you are less likely to change. So you need to connect but connect with someone you like and trust. The second thing you need to do to change is rehearse your change. This means that you need to fill yourself will knowledge about the change you want to make and then practice it. And you can’t be casual about it. If you want to lose weight you need to study healthy eating habits and put them into practice. If you want to learn a new language you need to study the new language and practice it over and over again. If you want to grow you need to not only know what Jesus taught but you need to practice what Jesus taught. And finally, if you want to change you need to reframe how you look at your world. Change can happen incredibly fast if you just see things from a different perspective. Let me give you an example of what he means by reframing. I was teaching one day at the local treatment center and someone was lamenting how they felt like such a loser being in treatment. I just smiled because I saw things from a totally different perspective. I said…if we did a house to house search of everyone in western Wisconsin to find who needs to be in treatment how many people do you think we’d get? He said a lot. And I said, thousands. If everyone came to treatment that needed to be in treatment we’d need to meet in a stadium. And so I said, Look, you aren’t a loser. The losers are the thousands people who are refusing to admit they have a problem. You are one of the few people smart enough to admit you have a problem and you are doing something about it. And then this guy smiled and his eyes got big and he said, Wow, I never thought about it that way. That really makes me feel good. Now, nothing about this guy’s situation had changed. He was still sitting in a treatment center but he went from feeling like a loser to feeling like a winner just because he reframed his situation. I mention that because if we want God to move in our lives then we need to reframe how we view church. We’ve got to stop thinking of church as a duty we fulfill on Sunday to keep God happy. Instead, church is a community of believers that God is shaping to BE Jesus to the world. Let me show you a verse that I’ve been quoting throughout this series…
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him into the image of his Son. Romans 8:29 Each time I’ve shown you this verse I talked about God wanting to shape YOU into the image of Jesus. But that’s not exactly what it says here. Who is God really shaping? Take a look…God is shaping “The lives of those who love him”. Do you see that? This verse isn’t talking about God shaping individual people. It’s talking about God shaping a community. God is shaping US into the image of Jesus. That means that no one person can take the place of Jesus. But we - as a community working together - take the place of Jesus. We stand in his place in the world. Now, how do you think church would change for you if we reframed it this way…that is, that it’s not an event on Sunday that we do to keep God happy but church is a community that God is shaping to look like Jesus? To me, this is exciting. If church is just a meeting…I don’t have time for another meeting. But if church is a community that God is using to be Jesus to this world…wow. I want to be a part of that. And I want you to be a part of that because the more people we have – and the more diverse it is - the richer our community is…the more we have to offer the world. And that’s why I put in the notes that every member needs to be aligned and functioning. You see we can’t afford to have you sitting on the sidelines. Every one of us is significant. Think about it this way. Your car has a lot of parts to it. Some are major and some are minor. What if I came to you before you left today and said… by the way, I took off five parts from your car. But don’t worry. They were insignificant. I’m sure they won’t affect anything and everything will be fine. I bet that wouldn’t make you feel too good, would it? When a car is going down the freeway at 70mph every part is significant. And that’s true for you in the church. No matter how insignificant you might feel you are still indispensible. You know, I just love watching what is going on in the lives of people in this church. We have so many people serving in so many ways…in the church, in the community and beyond. I was just so proud yesterday at our Run for Water event to raise money to dig wells and then the week before that with our Thrift sale to benefit earthquake victims. And then this week a small group of guys are heading down to New Orleans to continue helping a church down there. I’ve never been a part of a church where people understand what it means to serve like you do here. You see, none of us can do these things alone. But we can do them as a body of believers when we commit ourselves to connect, grow and serve.
Now here’s the key to being a servant. Jesus said… Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 A true servant gives up their agenda in favor of their employer, don’t they? There’s something about giving up our agenda that just seems wrong, doesn’t it? But what if your employer took better care of you than you took care of yourself? What if your employer loved you more than you love yourself? What if your employer had better intentions for you than you have for yourself? If we are honest, some of us would have to admit that we haven’t done such a great job of finding our life and so giving up your life to someone else wouldn’t be the worst thing. In fact, it could be the best thing. That’s what Jesus is saying here. If you insist on finding your life. you’ll lose it because you don’t know what’s best for you. But if you submit your life to God, you will find it because he’ll do what’s best for you. I realize that some of you here today are brand new to church and maybe Jesus’ words are way over your head. You might need to think about this for a while. And others of you here have such bad experiences with church that you have no intention of ever getting involved beyond Sunday again. I understand that. I appreciate that. I’ve been there. But let me tell you, God is calling you back to the church. Be careful not to use your hurt as an excuse to disengage forever. I really believe that God wants you to connect, to grow and to serve in the church. I mean, just imagine a church where 500 people chose to lose their lives in order to serve others. Think of the children that could be helped. The families that could be restored. The brokenness that could be healed. Think of the lives that we could impact not just in Wisconsin but throughout the world. That’s the kind of thing that really gets me excited about church. I want to be a part of that. I don’t want to settle for just spending all my time and money on my personal survival and entertainment. You know, the world is waiting for a church that will follow in the footsteps of Jesus. That’s the kind of church that I want us to be. I hope that’s what you want too. If that sounds attractive to you then I want to invite you to connect, grow and serve here at Cedarbrook. Prayer: Father God, thank you that you are not passive toward us but you want to move in us and through us. Thank you for inviting us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and be Jesus to our world today. Help us not to settle to merely talk a good game. Might we long for nothing less that being true servants; to our families and roommates, to our co-workers, to our friends and to the world. Amen.
Going Deeper Use the following questions for self-reflection or to discuss with your family, friends and/or small group. 1. Share a time when you “reframed” something and it helped to change or feel better about a problem you faced. 2. Reflect on the “Change or Die” model of change: relate, rehearse, reframe. Do you see these words as part of the change that you’ve experienced in your life? Explain. 3. Share your understanding of church today and in the past. Has your view changed? Has reframing the idea of church made church more meaningful to you? Explain. 4. Read Ephesians 4:15,16, Colossians 2:19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-22. What is the metaphor that Paul is using and what role does Jesus have in the metaphor? 5. How does Paul say that the Body of Christ grows in Ephesians and Colossians? What is the implication for your involvement in the church? 6. Read 1 Corinthians 12:22. What is the one word that Paul uses to describe people who think that their involvement doesn’t matter? Describe some things that are rendered useless without the functioning of a seemingly insignificant part. For example: a car and a spark plug. 7. Read Galatians 2:20 and Matthew 10:38,39. Can you identify with what Jesus said about people who seek to find their lives? How have you tried to find your life outside of God? Are there areas where you have lost or given up things to honor God that were once important to you that actually led to a happier life? 8. Describe the difference between a church where people have “lost their lives” to one where people seek to “find their lives” outside of God. In other words, describe a potential scenario of these two churches. What do they look like? What kind of “fruit” develops from these two different churches? 9. Ask God to help each member of your group to connect and grow so that they might serve effectively in God’s church.
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