All right. Good morning again. Keep doing this.
So today we’re going to kind of revisit the idea of comfort. And today our class is called the Uncomfortable Church. And really, this kind of hit home because I am an uncomfortable person.
I spend most of my life uncomfortable.
Now, I used to be more uncomfortable. I used to not fit in my clothes. Now I fit in my clothes.
I’m still uncomfortable.
I’m fidgety, and I’ve shared this. I mean, I’m moving around. I get in trouble. My wife does not like it. I get elbowed all the time. It’s embarrassing to hang out with me.
But that’s all right. But it’s not all bad. One of the things that I appreciate about living outside of the United States. For almost 15 years is the fact that every day of those 15 years, I was uncomfortable because I didn’t fit in. I didn’t look like the people around me. I didn’t sound like the people around me. I had a target on my back all the time because even though I was a missionary and if they would have seen my bank account, they probably would have deposited money into it. I was a Gringo, so I was a target. And so I had been assaulted at gunpoint, at knifepoint. I was assaulted at gunpoint one time with a bump and run in a car that was as old as Moses.
But it’s one of those things that it was like, this is kind of where you’re at. Every day, my life reminded me that I didn’t fit in. And I don’t know about you. Maybe you are uncomfortable. Maybe you are uncomfortable in social situations because you feel like you don’t fit in. And a lot of credit or a lot of time is spent on trying to fit in. I mean, Instagram is an entire platform on people trying to make their lives look perfect. And that’s one of the things I love about meeting in a cafetorium where we have to set up and half the time, things don’t want to work because we are far from perfect. This is an imperfect place for imperfect people to worship a perfect God. So this is all good things. But how does the idol of comfort undermine the mission of the Church?
Because we are here for a purpose right?
And I don’t know about you, but a lot of times the desire to get comfortable gets in the way.
And I know we’ve had a very. Difficult, I don’t know, week, year, month, decade. Life is hard. My heart is breaking.
I can’t watch the news. It feels physically impossible to watch the news because your heart breaks for everything you see. But a lot of times we get caught up into the I’m going to make a difference. I’m so fed up with the way. And we get on social media and we talk about what needs to change, as if we are surprised that there is violence and war and crisis and housing crisis and economy crisis. There’s race issues, there’s social issues, there’s justice issues, as if this is something new. See, I think Church, we forget that we live in a fallen world. I think we forget that the normal status for the world is crisis, chaos. And God has come through Jesus to allow us to offer relief. But so many times we get caught up in all the wrong things. I don’t like what I see. And so instead of offering Jesus, I offer my opinion.
I’ve given up giving opinions on social media.
You know what? We can give a solution.
You and I have a solution for the crisis the world is going through, whatever that is. We have a solution for school shooting. We have solution for gang violence. We have a solution for social injustice. You and I have the solution. It’s in this room, but we get sidetracked because we’re uncomfortable with the fact that we’re living in crisis. You name your crisis and your crisis is going to be different than the person sitting next to you.
I guarantee you it doesn’t matter. We are not experiencing the exact same thing. And what affects you does not affect the person next to you. And what affects them does not affect you. Praise God. Somebody can help us. John 16, verse 33.
Says, I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
So I want to take your goggles off and remind you it is not surprising, whatever you see that’s happening. It is not surprising that there is trouble in this world. There is not surprising that there are problems around us.
So as Christians, as disciples of Christ, as the light of the world, as living water to the community we live in, we have to decide that we’re not going to be surprised by the evil that’s around us. That doesn’t mean that we’re not hurt by it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t sympathize with it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize it, but we can’t be surprised by it.
Jesus said, you will have trouble in this world. So if you are looking for a comfortable place to be, you’re in the wrong place. Elon Musk is probably I mean, there’s trouble in the world, he wants to get off the world, go somewhere else.
But Jesus says there’s going to be trouble now. Trouble, God always saw opportunity.
Because what happens when you’re in a low spot? You tend to look for answers. I’m grateful. During the pandemic, several of us were able to, through the American Association of Christian Counselors, take a mental health coaching first responders class. A few of us went on to do master’s certifications in that. Orlando has actually started a mental health coaching Ministry.
And we have about 20 active coaches that are actually spending time with people.
Not only in our congregation, not only in our city, Christians and non-christians, but it’s reached churches all across the United States.
There have been people who have contacted because they’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, they’re dealing with major life crises. And thanks to this partnership, we have a Ministry that is prepared.
And if you are going through a hard time, I would like to encourage you to go to our website and you can actually go to Orlandochurch.org and you can look up mental health coaching. And there it is. And you can actually sign up right there to have coaching sessions.
But the American Association of Christian Counselors is actually coming this Thursday and Friday to interview and film a documentary of our mental health coaching Ministry, which is amazing because we did not have any idea what we were doing. Eddie and Lepatic Francis, an elder in the church and Lepatic, is a licensed clinical social worker.
And they reached out to the American Association of Christian Counselors. We had 60 people sign up for the course, and some are still doing it, but we’ve had 30 people graduate the course so far, which that impressed the American Association of Christian Counselors.
They’re like, how did you get 10% of your Church to do this?
And then they’re like, and how did you get half of those people to graduate? And so we’re emailing them and we’re talking them. And how do we launch this as a Ministry?
And they’re like, we don’t know. We haven’t done that yet. But your brothers and sisters, we figured it out.
And so they called us and they said, hey, we like to interview your church and figure out what you’re doing.
It’s amazing to see that major organizations recognize the work of a few people that say, let’s put our head together and figure it out. We know people are hurting. We know there’s a need. What can we do?
And I share this because a year and a half ago, two years ago, when this conversation about mental health coaching started, everyone was like, sounds great. What do we do?
That’s kind of every Church project. I get uncountable emails and text messages telling me all the things the Church should do. Great. One guy over here. You know what we can do? Do something. And that usually is okay, we should do that. That’s great. Could you look into that, please?
That’s an uncomfortable conversation. I tell you, if you come to me and tell me you know what the church should be doing, that will be an uncomfortable conversation for you.
Because you just added something to your to do list. But how do we do that? How do we get people who are volunteers to do things that they don’t have time or money to do?
If you figure it out, that’s my job. So I got to let me know.
How do we motivate? I mean, JJ has got to figure out. If he gives you a T shirt, he’ll get you do all kinds of crazy stuff for a T shirt.
Speaking of JJ, Today well, it’s Memorial Day weekend, and I thought, you know, there’s probably no better organization, worldly organization, getting people to do things that they should not want to do than the armed forces. And if you served in the armed forces, we recognize you and thank you for your service.
If you guys would stand up, I know we have, thank you for your service to Our country.
I look at and I said, I wish we had the structure. No, we’re not going there. But the efficiency, some people, you value the efficiency, get things done right? Some people say we never get anything done. It’s like, yes, but you don’t want to go there. Maybe you do. But one of my best friends in Chicago, he is a retired Marine and I asked him one time, his name is Estaban Delgado. And I said, how did the Marines get you to do things that you should not want to do?
He had two responses that were pretty clear and made me think. One was, they teach you that the mission is greater than yourself.
So he said, I would run to the front because I know that what we’Re doing is more important than my life.
So even though I value my life, I value the mission more than I value my own life. And he said, the second thing is I was taught to just do my job.
Those are two things we can learn. I don’t think we need all the top down structure, but I do think we need to learn those two things.
Because I think we do have a mission that’s greater than ourselves. But selfishness and comfort are the enemies of the mission. When I start thinking, I just don’t really want to do that.
And you can name what that is for some people that showing up on a Sunday. I don’t want to do that.
I got something better to do, really. Maybe you need to redefine what better is. See, the problem is if I’m at that spot, my mission is not that great. I’m not that excited about what I’m trying to accomplish. So Church, I want to challenge us to take some time to re envision our mission. What are we truly trying to accomplish? Am I just trying to make my neighbors think I got it all together?
I mean, sadly, that is a lot of the goal for a lot of Christianity. I just want everyone to think my life is together. I just don’t want to look that crazy. I don’t want to be the religious nut, but at the same time, I want things to go, okay.
And then what is your job? What is my job? I love this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Says, Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. I don’t know what your life’s work is, but I know you should do your best. But sometimes we get into trouble. Bill Belichick is famous to saying, do your job. Now, it could be seen a couple of different ways, but what Paul says here is I planted the seed, Apollo’s watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So Church, we need to learn to do our job. Paul didn’t do Apollo’s job, and Paul and Apollo did not do God’s job. See, our job as Christians is simply to plant and water.
That’s all we’re responsible for. God makes it grow. I had a really good conversation with a brother this past Wednesday. Who was in a very difficult headspace because he had put on himself things that were not his job, things that he can’t control. And I think that’s what happened to a lot of us. We think, oh, I gotta be fruitful for God. I have to be productive. Well, your productivity is not in your hand. It’s in God’s. Now we are responsible for doing the things that will allow God to work through those.
My grandparents, my great grandparents, my great grandparents were all farmers. And every summer I had the privilege to go and work on the farm.
If you have never worked on a farm, I would encourage you to just do that for a minute. Farmers are the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and they’re not nice about it either. But one thing I know is that my grandfather never expected to harvest something he didn’t plant. Why is the Church not growing? Well, have we shared our faith? Who do you talk to about what God is doing in your life?
And I think what happens is we’re not that excited about what God’s doing our life because we have crisis.
And we think that if God were in our lives, we’d have no crisis. And because we have crisis, God is not present. But if we read our Bible, God was always present, especially in the crisis.
Not especially in the crisis. He was present all the time.
But you see him doing more work in the crisis because we have to throw our hands up and say, I can’t do this. I can only do what is required of me. Sometimes we think our job is that of the Holy Spirit.
Let me do the Holy Spirit’s job. John 16, verse eight. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. And we think, oh, it is my job to convict others about where they’re at with God. Actually, that’s not true.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict others about sin and righteousness and judgment. It’s the Holy Spirit job, not my discipleship partner’s job, not my mentor’s job, not my preacher’s job to convict myself. Personally, to be convicted by the Holy Spirit about sin and righteousness and judgment.
But sometimes we take it upon ourselves to do the Holy Spirit’s work, and we get upset when people do not have the right conviction. Has anyone ever gotten frustrated and given up on a person? You know why? Isn’t your job.
Your job is to continually present the person to God. Your job is to continually bring the scripture forth. Your job is to give opportunities to work the soil so that the Holy Spirit will actually convict the person about wrong.
But we get frustrated. And I don’t know about you, but frustration. Frustration leads me to bad places.
I become an unbearable person. I also become introverted when I’m frustrated.
I think one of the things that happens is a lot of us just kind of give up, and that’s what and we have plateaus. Have you ever experienced the spiritual Plateau? Oh, I’m just not growing. I might as well just give up. Well, that makes sense.
It’s bad. Let me just stop trying so it gets worse. That’s what we do. We have plateaus. So I’ve shared a little bit about my health journey. I tried to get healthy about seven or eight years ago. I was pretty sick of where I was. And I don’t know, Wendy thought would tell me I was running too much because I would go every day and run about five to 7 miles. I would run half marathons. It was winter in Chicago. I would stop running. And then it was kind of cool because the steam would just come off of you. I said it was called the Angry Bench. That’s where people went to go cool off outside in our yard. It was just kind of one of those park benches. And so that was the Angry bench. It was famous in our neighborhood.
So I would sit on the Angry Bench and just watch the steam come off of my body.
I would run 20 to 30 miles a week, count every calorie I had, and could never get below 225 lbs.
You know what I did? I stopped trying. You know what happened? I made it to 265 lbs.
We do the same thing spiritually. Oh, this is hard. I can’t do it. I’m not going to do it and then it gets harder and worse. Because we stopped doing our job. That’s a sad situation. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. We get stuck and we have to figure out how to get unstuck. If you feel like you’re not growing in your faith, that’s okay. I love Paul because Paul says it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. When he writes, Timothy, let everyone see how you’re progressing in your faith. He says nothing about being perfect in your faith. It’s just one foot in front of the other.
But this guy’s never going to get right side up by himself. And that’s why we talk about Cypress. That’s why we talk about Covenant relationships. That’s why we talk about mentorship, because we can’t do it on our own.
But how many of us are by nature lone Rangers. I am naturally an independent person.
I kind of like the way I do things. Pretty sure I know the best way to do it almost all the time. And I’m right almost none of the time. Love you too, baby. It ain’t easy, but we’re doing it. Philippians three, verses 13 and 14, brothers and sisters. I don’t consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. You know, when we were taking the mental health coaching course, one of the things that one of the things we spent a lot of time on was defining the role of a mental health coach.
And one thing was things that are important is to put limitations on what you can and cannot do, because as a coach, you are not a licensed professional, so you cannot do certain things.
And one of the professors said it this way. The difference between coaching and counseling is coaching is future focused. Counseling is past focused.
I think Paul was a pretty good coach. He’s like forgetting what’s behind. I don’t know about your yesterday, except for the fact I know you can’t change it. You cannot change what happened to you yesterday. Now, I’m not discounting the need for counseling in situations, but that being said, you cannot change what happened. You can change how you process it. You can change how you deal with it, but you can’t change what happened. There’s a lot of Christians that live in the past regretting the things that happened. I appreciate that Paul didn’t.
Paul had trauma in his life. First of all, he murdered people. I think there’s trauma there. He was a violent man. Even once he was a Christian he was an impulsive man.
I mean, do you remember in Acts? They’re walking around and this demon possessed woman starts shouting behind them. These are the men. These are prophets of the most high God. And she’s telling the truth, but she’s annoying the heck out of him. And he basically just turns around, would you be quiet? And then cast the demon out. Like can’t deal with you.
She was telling the truth. And then he ticked off the owners because that’s how they made money. It was a mess.
His friends abandoned him. His brothers on all sides wanted to kill him. He was shipwrecked. I mean, he had a lot going on.
Crisis after crisis after crisis. It doesn’t matter where I’m at today. What is gone is gone. But I can forget that and strain towards what is ahead. What’s ahead for us? What’s ahead for us individually, what’s ahead of us as a Church? I want to encourage us to really catch a vision. I know we have a vision conference, so maybe we feel like that word is a little overused right now since the conference has gone on and on and on. But do we have a vision? Vision for what God can do in our lives? Do we have a vision for what God can do within our Church? Do we have a vision for what God can do within our community? We should probably dream about those things and we should probably continue to press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ. I think sometimes we get sidetracked. I don’t know. I get sidetracked. I’m pretty sure I have ADHD because I will start a project and then 3 seconds later, you know what? This looks good too.
I will start reading a book and as I’m reading the introduction, go and find another book. That is not healthy, but that’s the way my brain works. I need brothers and sisters that will help me to press onward.
You need brothers and sisters that will help you press onward. We need to get a vision.
We have a vision statement. We’re going to be living water for Central Florida.
What does that even mean? Where do you live? What’s your neighborhood? Do you know your neighbors? I annoy my neighbors. Every time I see them, I make them talk to me. Sometimes I’ll go take the trash out and Wendy will call me, where are you at?
Brian was outside. Talked to Brian. We have to continue to press forward. So if you’re stuck, maybe you’re like the little tortoise. You need somebody to give you a hand. I love tortoises. They’re as slow as I’ll get out. I can relate. They need lots of help.
They get in a bind, they are the most useless animal. I know, PETA is going to come in. I’m going to get in trouble. It’s bad.
We got to go to the beach and help them because they got problems. I can relate.
I like it. Today my challenge is get a vision for what God wants to do in your life and be willing to be uncomfortable so that you can get past any Plateau you’re in.
And if you’re visiting us and you’re like, what in the world are you talking about? Why don’t you come and study the Bible?
Because I think what we have learned is that it’s not about the really cool concert experience. It’s about building community of faith and having people that you can count on. I love we were at Steve Eaton’s birthday party last night and we were talking to Pam. And one of the things that she said that was really great to Wendy, she’s like, you know, we love how Nathan and Holly’s girls love you guys. You’re like extra grandparents to them. Okay, I have to grow the beard out. But it’s like we are family and that’s great. I mean, I love Bill and Laura. They are parents to me. I lived in their home. When I was a teenager, I had no idea what was going on in my life.
I was 20, I had no idea what was going on. But those are relationships that are provided. What I want to encourage us to is are you willing to get uncomfortable? Are you willing to do the things that take you out out of your comfort zone and move you towards the vision that God has for you, for your family and for his Church? God bless.