Ignite: Any Cost

This sermon was prepared and preached by Pastor Mike Rose at First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, May 25, 2008. Copyright © 2008, First Federated Church

Two weeks ago we held our 2008 missions conference and the theme was: Ignite: Anywhere, Anything, Any Cost. I remember when John Porter showed me that theme it made an immediate and positive impact, so much so that I knew we would return to it to dig deeper into its communication. Let’s begin with this question: What does this theme communicate? The word “ignite” means to “light aflame,” to “catch fire,” to “set ablaze.” This would be in contrast to “snuff out,” “quench” or “extinguish.” So the desire of our Missions Ministry Team was that our conference, guest speaker and interaction with missionaries would ignite a passion in First Federated Church for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, they were hopeful that we would be “set ablaze” to such a degree that our corporate heart would cry out, “Lord, I’ll be your witness. I’ll give anything, go anywhere, pay any cost to see your gospel made known to all men.” We are now two weeks post-conference. We made a sizable investment of time and resources to bring Mark Job here to minister the Word, as well as our investment to host missionaries, create displays, make cool signs, etc., etc. Are we “ignited” for the cause of Christ? Is the cry of our heart, “Lord, I’ll be your witness, I’ll give anything, go anywhere, pay any cost to see your gospel made known to all men?” Or was it just another week, another speaker, another cool sign and we keep on with the same-old, same-old of life? What I’m asking is: does the communication of our 2008 Missions theme ring true with us? Is it something we are going to work at making a reality, or not? In the winter of 2006, I purchased a book by Andy Stanley titled 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. It’s not the Bible, but it had a profound impact on my thinking and practice of ministry. One of the memorable quotes is a challenge that Andy makes to church leaders about their mission statements (statement describing the purpose for an organization’s existence). You’ve seen mission statements, haven’t you? They’re usually framed and hung prominently on a wall so that people will know what the organization is about. Andy challenges church leaders with this question: “Is what’s on the wall, really going on down the hall?” In other words, is your statement of purpose just a statement, or are you actually doing concrete, measurable things to fulfill your mission? First Federated has a mission statement – it’s not on a wall, it’s on banners that hang throughout the building. I wonder if anyone, who had nothing to do with its creation, can tell me what that statement is?

Ignite! Any Cost | FFC | 05.25.2008

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Here’s one of those banners. There are two statements, one side reads: “Equipping God’s People for Global Impact.” The other side says “We’re (First Federated) Changing People to Change The World for the Glory of God.” To very good statements – noble, Godly, biblical. but I ask, is what’s on the wall (in this case on the banner) actually going on down the hall? • •

How are we transforming – “changing” – people to change the world? How are we “equipping” God’s people for global impact? How are we bringing fuel and spark together to “ignite” a passion for the cause of Christ in our church family?

I don’t expect an answer right now, nor am I going to give an answer, but I do want you to carry away an important truth concerning these questions. Changing people to change the world, equipping God’s people for global impact, igniting a fire of passion for the gospel of Christ all come at a COST! Anything that “revolutionizes” the way things are, to a more preferred state of being, requires that a COST be paid. This being Memorial Day weekend, I can’t help but think of the tremendous COST that’s been paid to create and maintain a nation that is free from the tyranny of despotic rulership. What we so often take for granted in the United States, didn’t just rise up from the ground on its own – men and women of principle, passion and perseverance paid a COST to give birth to this nation. Consider the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 56 in all, from age 26 to 70. They drew a line in the sand that was more than mere words. Together they declared: “… we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Inspiring statement, but let us ask, is what’s written on the wall going on down the hall? Oh yes! The words they penned were not just words. They back them up. • • • • 5 of the 56 serving in the Revolutionary Army, were captured and tortured by the British. 12 of the 56 had their homes ransacked and burned to the ground. 2 lost their sons to the war for independence. Several lost their fortunes because of the war.

The point is this: The Declaration of Independence was not just a nice piece of rhetoric created to look good in a frame hanging in a government building. It was a preferred state of being that those who put their names to it were willing to pay the COST to make a reality. This being communion Sunday, I can’t help but think of the tremendous COST that was paid to provide a bridge between the wrath of God for sin and the need of man for forgiveness.

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After the fall of Adam & Eve, God made this statement to the serpent/Satan found in Genesis 3:15 “15And I will put enmity (hatred) between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” These were the first words of the “mission statement” of the Son of God, Jesus. His was a mission to bear the shame and reproach of our sin by giving His life as payment for it – the bruise on the heel from Satan. Jesus more clearly defined His “Mission Statement” in Mark 10:45, NASB - 45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” So we see what’s written on the wall. Did it take place down the hall? – Philippians 2:5-8, 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, (laid aside His privileges) taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The mission of reconciling man with God had a COST, and that COST was paid as Jesus gave His life for our sins. This morning I’ve set before you two great examples: the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and Jesus, the Son of God. Both embarked on a “mission,” both willingly paid the COST. Their “mission statements” were not empty words, but were backed up by concrete, verifiable actions that made their respective “missions” reality. As the church of Jesus Christ, we’ve been given a mission. The foundation of that mission is found in Matthew 28:19, 20 and Acts 1:8, NASB Matthew 28:19-20 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. Acts 1:8 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. Taking the combined communication from these two passages we find that beginning where we live, then moving out into the world, we are to be witnesses of Jesus, teaching those who trust in Him His Word, so they can go and do the same. It’s not complicated, actually quite simple in its scope. But there is a COST associated with its implementation. What is that COST? Everything you have, everything you are, everything you hope to be. Jesus said it like this: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 (NASB) What does that mean? It can mean a lot of things. For me, on the big scale, it meant laying down 13 years invested in a military career, with only seven years left to retirement, to train for and engage in full-time, vocational ministry. It meant leaving a
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church I loved and served for 13 years and saying good-bye to being a active part and help in the life of my retired parents to come to Des Moines to pastor First Federated Church. On a smaller scale, it requires me to be regularly be in God’s Word so it can shape my thinking, which has bearing on my actions. It means making time for prayer so God can direct me in the paths He wants me to walk in. It means being faithful to God with my time, talents, temple (body), testimony and treasure. It means laying down my kingdom for His, my desires for His, my thoughts of right and wrong for His. From the human perspective, it all sounds quite negative, but actually it’s quite positive. You see, I’m discovering that true life, joy, contentment, significance and fulfillment are found in Jesus and walking with Him. Seriously! It’s not always easy, nor in the moment is it always fun. In fact, it can be downright gut-wrenching at times. However, when I follow the example of Jesus and release myself to the will of God my Father, I find that He exalts me and gives me a peace that’s greater than the stress that surrounds me. But there is a COST for that peace: •

My total trust in Him My total willingness to live as He calls me to live, do what He calls me to do, go where He calls me to go.

First Federated Church, we were challenged during Missions Week to ignite, to be set on fire for Jesus. We were challenged to give anything, go anywhere, pay any cost to make the gospel of Jesus known to all men. My question is this: Is this just a cool theme for a mission conference, OR, is it a call to action that we will step forward with concrete, measurable steps to seek to fulfill?

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Answer the call: • • •

Engage in the word and prayer. Wednesday corporate prayer, June 11, Room 108. Be available to be equipped for ministry. Take the next S.H.A.P.E. class. Reach out to our community. Summer ministry flyer distribution, 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 4. Take It to the Streets. Select one of the many ministry activities taking place out of our building, off of our property and beyond ourselves.

The First Federated Church copyright, above, is for the sermon itself, not for any items quoted in the sermon, unless otherwise stated. All quoted items are done so in good faith, and the source is attributed when it is known.

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