Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I’m a decently big fan of board games
Probably just because I’m super competitive, and they give me a way to compete as an adult…but I like them.
However, when I play them…I like to know what I’m doing.
If you’ve ever played a board game with me before, you’ve probably seen me do this.
I like to be the “directions guy.” I want to make sure everyone knows how to play and knows what they’re getting into.
And if it takes 20 minutes to go over the directions…so be it.
And the worst for me is playing a game that I’ve never played before…and somebody skims over the directions
Then you’re like 15 minutes in…and someone says, “Oh, you can’t do that.”
“WHAT?!? You never told me that.”
“Oh, sorry. But you can’t do that.”
Only thing worse is if I were to then say, “Well, good thing is a practice round.”
“Yeah, sorry about that too. This is for real. And you’re losing.”
Nothing worse than losing in a game where you don’t really know the rules and you don’t even know you’re losing in the first place…
We are finishing our Call of Duty series this morning…
The point of this series is to stop the wussification of God’s church
To help us stop living inward, pointless, selfish lives and teach us to be Heroes in God’s eyes.
If I can, I want to take you back in history for a few minutes and show you something amazing.
Often when we read the Bible, because you and I didn’t grow up in the Ancient Near East in the 1st Century, there are things that are “duh” moments to those readers that you and I would never think of.
Great MN get-together example
I want to point out one of those moments to you if I can.
In the year 3 BC, there was a city built about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee called Caesarea Philippi.
It was built by Philip the Tetrarch in honor of Tiberius Caesar
The city was located at the mouth of the Jordan River, which is the most important river in Israel.
The river itself, in that day, actually flowed out of a cave carved in the rocks
PICTURE OF CAVE/ROCKS (leave up until Bible verse)
100’s of years before they built Caesarea Philippi, there were other people who lived in the area, and those rocks were known by everyone as “the rocks of the gods”
Here’s why: See, people said, the cave was the pathway to the underworld
People believed that if you walked into the cave, you would walk into hell
In those days, one of the most common gods that was worshipped was called baal, and people believed that every fall (when the dry season started), that he would go into the rock of gods and would go into the underworld
Then, every Spring, he would come out and spread his seed over the land and cause it to rain
After Alexander the Great invaded the area (roughly 300 or so years before Christ), the people started worshipping the Greek God “Pan” and they claimed that he did the same thing
Every Fall, into the rock of the gods and into the underworld, and every spring, out to water the world
In fact, they called the rock, “The Gates of Hades” (Hell) because that’s what they literally thought it was
When they rebuilt the city and called it Caesarea Philippi in 3 BC, the city was centered around this god “Pan”
Pan was the “god” of procreation. He caused things to grow.
He was half man and half goat.
The people set up a shrine to Pan outside the “Gates of hell” at the mouth of the Jordan…and people would come from all over in the Spring to worship him there. (Because they wanted to incite him to come out)
Historians estimated that by the time of Jesus around 100,000 people would come in the Spring to worship Pan there.
And they would come and “worship” him so he would help their crops go or help them have kids since he was a fertility god
And what happened there was beyond explicit…
We’re in church, so I’ll try and tone it down, but it’s not easy
On the day they worshipped Pan, the priest and priestess would start the ceremony off by copulating in front of everyone
And then for 24 hours, as “worship” to their god pan, the 100,000 people would engage in mass sexual acts. With everyone. IN front of the “Gates of Hell”
Since “Pan” was half man and half goat, bestiality was involved as well
This place was Woodstock on steroids.
And the Jews…they refused to have anything to do with this city (Caesarea Philippi). They wouldn’t go within miles of it.
Now, I want to read you a passage in the Bible that may surprise you. Maybe you’ve even heard it before, but never seen it this way…
(Matthew 16:13) – NIV
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
Wait…What did that say?? Jesus…just brought his disciples to where? Caesarea Philippi
Jesus took his disciples to a place worse than the Las Vegas strip, worse than places in Bangkok, worse than the red light district in Amsterdam, worse than you can imagine…
The last we heard of them, they were on the Sea of Galilee, and now Jesus takes them on this 25 mile Journey north, just to this city…to this city to have an important conversation.
And what were the disciples thinking? “What if the religious people see us?” “Probably never talk to us again.” “We shouldn’t be here”
Are you believing this?? Jesus took them to this place. Hey guys…take a walk with me…I want to take you somewhere.
Now watch what he says to them here… Because they’re not just in the city…they’re probably where you think they might be…
(Matthew 16:14-18) – NIV
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it.
So most likely, standing in front of what people called “The Gates of Hell” themselves…or at least somewhere close to it…Jesus says, the church will not be stopped.
So what does Jesus build his church on?
Well for one, it’s what Protestant theologians have said forever, “he builds it on Peter’s statement…the confession and believe that Jesus is the Son of God”
But secondly, we can’t escape the imagery here.
He takes them on this 25 mile out of the way journey to show them…that here…in the darkness…in vilest place on earth at the time…here’s where we will build our church
And not even the gates of hell can overcome it!
See, Jesus doesn’t run away from dark places, he runs TO them
Christ followers don’t run from dark places, we run TO them. And help pull people out.
We don’t run and condemn and throw stones from far away. We run AT the people getting stoned…and pull them out
THIS is where the church belongs. “The church is always at it’s best when we are closest to hell”
Don’t fear. Don’t be afraid. Don’t run. Come close. Trust your savior.
Build your church here. Nothing can overcome it. Be light. Be salt. Reach out.
The church is at it’s best…when we are among the prostitutes, the drug addicts, the depressed, the self-righteous, the you name it…
When you invite people this week, don’t try and determine who will and who won’t respond.
God can reach anyone. And God wants to reach everyone.
What if you decided to be that kind of hero? Not that one that stayed safely behind the compound of your Christian walls, but one that was willing to risk everything to reach out and grab someone closest to hell itself.
(Mark 2:17) - NIV
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
But you might say, “David, we live in Blaine, not Las Vegas”
Doesn’t matter. You can’t quantify how far away people are from God
Whether people are stuck in drug addiction, sexual addiction, hate, depression, obsession w/ their money, or their own self-righteousness, what does it matter?
All that matters is do they know Jesus or are they currently being drawn into the gates of hell?
And if you’ve been a part of this church for any length of time, you’ve heard us talk about Blaine…and how unchurched it is. You know the stats.
And because the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of people in this city do not know Jesus…here’s what we absolutely can not do:
See, churches in general must never go to a place like Caesarea Philippi, and set up and church in city and then gather only their church friends to come to it.
That’s like setting up a hospital in the middle of a battle field and only inviting the healthy people to come sleep in the beds.
Jesus didn’t come for the healthy
And what WE absolutely can’t do is set this church up in the middle of an incredibly unchurched city, and than become the next big “Christian thing” in town and all invite are Christian friends from the surrounding towns to come see it.
If we do that…we’ve failed.
We’re trying to invite the people are stuck at the gates of hell… Stuck worshipping some false god that they think will give them pleasure or make their life work out.
We come to them and we try and bring life
“Hey…get out of the mud…there’s more to life…I need to tell you something incredibly important…”
It’s like the board games from the beginning. There are far too many people who are just drifting through life…and losing…because no one ever took the time to explain to them how to play. How to win.
But there is no practice round in life. So time is of the essence.
Whether your friend, or family member, or coworker, or neighbor, or whoever you’ve been praying for…whether they’re just skeptical of God in the first place OR they’re caught trying to find life in rebellion OR they’re trying to find it in success and ignoring God OR they’re just down and out and hurt….
The reality is…the truth is… the one we as Christians fear actually acknowledging out loud…is right now…they are trapped right outside the gates of hell
But…we shall not fear…
For there is yet still time…
And we serve a God who makes anything…ANYTHING possible.
FAITHFUL IN THE LITTLE THINGS
So what will you do about it? Can you trust Him to make you into a hero?
There are some people in this church who have just developed a boldness for talking to people about God. Some of them just go out and do it…some of them have great conversations w/ their friends, and some of them prefer to just invite their friends to church and let them start to ponder God… all good things.
And for instance, let’s take the third group (inviters). I don’t want people to misread me in this series. Evangelism isn’t all about inviting people to church.
However, there are opportunities that come along once in a while…and it’s ONE great method that CAN be used in evangelism…
That’s partly why we’re focusing on it now. Because God has given us a neat opportunity seven days from now.
You know, there are some people in this church that have been amazing at just inviting friends. And some of those people…their friends now come with them to church…AND, they’re now going to sit next to them in eternity as well.
They met Jesus at Renovation Church!!
But here’s what the inviters would tell you if you asked them: Their friends who came, and met Jesus…they came, after the inviters had already been turned down by 5 other people….and then 5 others turned them down, and then, someone else came.
But most of us, we’re so afraid of stepping out like that…we don’t do it. We think…I’m happy with 0 for 0. I’ve never missed. Do you know what your batting average is in baseball if you’re 0 for 0. It’s 0. Not 1,000. It’s 0.
You can’t get on base without swinging the bat.
You’re going to miss once in a while.
But trust God. Maybe He wanted you to miss a few times.
Maybe it was the third pitch he wanted you to swing at anyway, and you never would have had the courage to swing at it if you didn’t swing at the first two!
TRUE SPIRITUAL GOAL
But we have to remember our call of duty. Why we’re really here.
See, I worry that we’re gonna get to heaven, having accomplished so much in our spiritual lives, and yet so little.
Many of us will have read the Bible multiple times. Maybe you’re gonna read it 30 times before you die.
Many of us will have done countless church retreats…and gone on a missions trip even.
Many of us will have helped the poor.
Many of us will have taken maybe even a theology class once or twice by the time we die.
Many of you will have read your share of Christian books….
You read a book about grace, and you read a book about Christian love.
We’ll have gone to Christian marriage seminars….and went to a 10 week training on how to handle our finances in the Christian way….
But my greatest fear is this: I worry that SOME of us are gonna get to heaven, arms full of books we’ve read, hands full of certificates from seminars we went to…but our friends and family won’t be there w/ you.
And I ask you: Then what’s the point?
If heaven and hell are for eternity…what do you think you will be thinking about your unsaved friend or family member 1,000 years from now? 10,000 years from now?
Live your call of Duty now…while you can
Do whatever it takes. Be bold. Trust God, not yourself.
All of those things I listed off above are only worthwhile IF they are changing us TO CHANGE the world
THE 3 L’S
So, we go out…on a rescue mission. And we go out and we try and LOVE, LISTEN, and LEAD
Please don’t go out and bash people over the head, “GET TO CHURCH…SINNER!”
There’s enough of that already.
Drive them so crazy with Love and Kindness that they’ll listen when you talk.
And before you talk…listen to them. Friendship is relationship.
Love them. Listen to them. And then Lead them.
If you wait for them to ask you for directions, they probably never will.
When movies really take off at the box office…Why does it usually happen?
It’s because people lead other people to it! They talk about it.
Women, when you buy clothes that are in style…why do you buy what you buy? Is it just because you see an ad, and think, “I HAVE to have that?”
No…it’s usually because you see someone you know wearing a certain style…and you can be like, “Where’d you get that?”
Or guys, let’s say you get a new gun or fishing rod or even golf club?
DO you just see an add for a fishing rod and say, “That’s the one!”
No, you’re usually out with another guy who says, “Man this thing is awesome…”
And that’s your challenge this week. We have a unique opportunity coming in 7 days
And we need everyone to say, “Man, this thing is awesome”
“What God is doing at my church…is awesome…come check it out. Seriously”
And there are a number of ways you can do that. I’m a super practical guy and we’ve been fairly theoretical the last few weeks, so I’m gonna get as practical as you can possibly get right now.
IN FACT, I’m going to give you TEN ways you can invite your friends to hear about Jesus next week. TEN. Are you ready???
1) Just talk to your friend. Be real. Don’t be awkward. Just be yourself.
“Hey…I think it would be great if you came and checked out my church. I think you would love it. It would mean a lot to me if you gave it a try. We could go at 9:30 or 11:00. Your choice”
2) Give them an invite card like we gave you on top of your chair
It’s often the easiest way to start a conversation rather than “So…um…so…like”
Our BOLD challenge to you is 7 invite cards for 7 days. I know some of you in this room can do that! If not 7, 4 or 5.
Put them in your purse or wallet
3) Send a postcard we gave you last week. They’re so unique…that people respond to them. We’ve seen it happen.
If you don’t have one or want more…they’re at the table in the hallway
4) Send your friends an event invite on Facebook (we’ll create the event tomorrow) It’s often an easier way to invite people… I’m not sure if it’s as good as a personal touch, but you can also reach even more people this way…maybe if you won’t see them in person
5) Use facebook in other ways. We’ll give you tons of ways to use facebook this week. Just look for updates. You can post one of our virtual postcards, or share a video promo of our disCONNECTED series we are starting on Sunday, or even just post our website in your status and invite your friends.
In fact, if you haven’t “Liked” Renovation Church yet on facebook, do it before the day is over
6) Maybe you’re not a facebook person, but you’d still like to invite a friend in a way where you could have time to think through your words better. Consider emailing someone and inviting them. It’s a great way to express how you really feel.
7) How many people in this room right now have a cell phone on you? Hold it in the air if you have one. I’ll wait.
Okay, if you “TEXT” keep it in the air.
Okay, put it down.
You want an opportunity to be bold right now? Would you text your friend and invite them if you had the right thing to say?
How many of you think you would do that?
“Hey. I was just wondering if you would go to church with me next week at my church. I think you would really love it! Would you be interested in going?“
8) I don’t know if you know this, but the #1 way people come to our church (besides an invite from a friend) is from a seeing a street sign
We are looking for 20 people to put one of our new 9:30 & 11:00 signs in their yard for just 2 weekends. The 9th-11th and the 16th-18th?
Could you do that? What a sweet way to get the word out to your neighborhood?
20 people. If you want to help in that way, take a sign in the hallway on your way out. Seriously.
9) Speaking of signs, we are going to put 80 signs up in Blaine the next 2 weekends. We want to saturate the town w/ Renovation Church stuff.
Maybe you can’t put a sign in your yard, or you don’t live close, but you can drive a car, and you can serve.
We are looking for 8 people to help with our Street Signs Blitzes to put those signs out the next 2 weekends
If you can help, stop by the street signs table.
10) Pray and Fast.
IN May, we did a whole message just on the power of fasting, and how it is the most powerful form of prayer.
You can watch it on our website if you want more information.
But this Sunday is going to be the most important Sunday in the history of our church so far, and we NEED TO PRAY
So, if you are willing to join me, I want to encourage you to fast with us from Wednesday at 6pm to Thursday at 6pm.
I have once again rented the Party Room at Davanni’s in Coon Rapids, and on Thursday at 6pm, I will be at Davanni’s breaking fast.
I encourage you to pray with me. Fast with me. And then come and break fast together…and we’ll celebrate in advance what God is going to do.
Why do all these things? Because it’s our Call of Duty.
And not only is it our Call, we have to realize that our enemy is unbelievably focused. Hell is unbelievably focused.
Unbelievably strategic on ruining families and keeping people away from God.
Hell is everywhere. Every tv station, all over the internet , in every village, in every town on planet earth.
They are ready and willing to ruin every life on the planet…and if we don’t decide to stand up and reach out and change the world with God…then hell will win in this city.
You might think…David that’s a little strong. Doesn’t God win in the end.
In the end, yes. The book of Revelation, yes. But Christianity has disappeared in places before. In the early centuries of Christianity, northern Africa was a hotbed for Christianity. What is it now? Not Christian.
Why? The people lost sight. They lost focus. They forgot their mission. Their mission turned inward. And for their friends and their family members…and their future family members…hell won.
The church of Jesus needs to start acting like the warriors God called them to be.
Because right now, people stand in front of the gates of hell.
But that’s exactly where Jesus called our churches to invade.
To be an invasion force.
An invasion force against evil. A rescue mission from the gates and clutches of hell. The war isn’t over yet.. Even though they may sit at the gates, people can still be rescued.
Because the people are not evil. They are not hell. Absolutely not.
But evil is real. And it wants to take the hearts of the people.
But so does our God.
And I Believe that if we trust in Him…and our church is willing to invade places we are afraid of and willing to talk to people we’re scared to disappoint and willing to be bold for Him…then…THEN…there’s no telling what God will do.
Go with God!
You can have a seat.
I know I normally don’t come back up here at the end of the service, but this is a special week for us, and I wanted to do something a little special.
We did this the week before Easter as well
But I wanted to commission you on your way out today
To pray that God would use you…THIS WEEK to do life-changing things.
To make bold moves that will potentially lead to eternally-changing things.
Let me pray.
God, we pray that as we leave this place today that you empower us to bring light into the darkness. That you would enable us to speak boldly.
God, we pray that you would exchange our worries and our fears for boldness and for courage.
God, use us in a way we’ve never experienced before, and allow us to be a part of lives being changed for eternity.
May God be with you. Amen.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.