Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
I rarely ever do this, but I need to communicate a few things to you before we start this morning. Usually we can leave this sort of stuff for announcements, but there were a few things I wanted to talk to you personally about this morning
If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us talk about our Haiti Missions Team.
In just 3 and a half weeks, our team of 17 people will be on the ground in Port-au-Prince Haiti.
We’re attempting a couple of things with our missions strategy at Renovation
One, is to be focused. Churches are notorious for having maps with 45 missionaries each with their own pin, and nobody in the congregation has any idea what’s actually happening with missions in their church.
So one, we want to be focused and strategic
And two, by being committed to that, we want to involve our WHOLE church in the area of world missions.
We, AS A CHURCH, want to make a difference in Haiti, the poorest county in the western hemisphere… not just our team of 17.
And we’ve wanted to give you a couple of ways to participate.
Firstly, a few weeks ago, we had exactly 100 people from this church participate in packing meals at Feed My Starving Children.
Meals that our team will get to see on the ground in Haiti.
And now, secondly, we want to give you an opportunity to financially be a part of what our church is doing.
In a sense you already are, in that part of our church budget goes to missions…but there’s something special we want to ask of you.
Our Team of 17 is going to be working at a Children’s Home in Haiti (which is essentially an orphanage…the only difference being you can’t adopt a lot of the kids because their parents are still living. They just dropped them off there because they were too poor to feed them) (SHOW “CHILDREN’S HOME PICTURES 1 -4)
We are going to be the first group to work w/ this Children’s Home in person, and they need A LOT of help.
These kids are hurting for a lot of things.
They just got beds last month. Beds.
And they don’t have hardly anything else.
They have only a tent for storage, few adults to work with them, a major shortage of books, and basically no toys whatsoever.
Our team of 17 has already personally paid (w/ their trip fees) to help build a playground / swing set for the orphanage, and we will be constructing it while we are there!
However, there’s another major problem with our Children’s home that they need some serious help with. (Start SHOWING LAND PICTURES 1-2)
The center of the property has a very large lowland area where water tends to puddle/pool for long periods of times following the rains in the rainy season.
The huge pool of water not only limits a place for the kids to play, but here’s the real major problem:
The huge pool creates a haven for mosquitoes.
And not only are these kids miserable w/ the mosquitoes for 3 months (it’s not like they have bug spray), an increased level of mosquitoes in Haiti, means that the risk of contracting Malaria significantly increases
Malaria is super risky for children in Haiti, and many children die each year in Haiti due to the lack of proper treatment and access to proper health care.
We, as a church, want to make a long-term investment in this Children’s home, and part of that means keeping the children, healthy, safe, and alive.
So priority number ONE for us is to get rid of the massive malaria risk that’s sitting on their property.
So here’s what we want to do as Renovation Church: Our goal is to raise $5,000 in one day.
That’s a lot of money for a church our size to raise, but we serve a big God. I know we can do it.
If everyone gives $20, we can do it. And some of you can give more.
And here’s the cool thing. This is not just giving money to some huge organization. WE’RE going to do this.
Our team will be a part of this while we’re there if we can raise the funds. We’ll bring you back pictures. We will do this.
It’s such a cool part of YOU personally making a difference around the world. Really cool.
So, for the first time EVER, we are going to take a special offering NEXT week at the end of the service.
So, this week, be praying about how God might have you give to help change the world through Renovation Church.
So, we’re gonna do this next week. And God’s gonna use this little two year old church to keep doing an amazing things like changing the world
FAILURE IS NORMAL
And now…today’s message
We are continuing in our “Despite…” series this morning. And this morning, we’re talking about “Despite…Failure”
Who here loves to fail? None of us. In fact, as Americans, we LOVE success.
If any book stores were still in business, we could go there and find shelf after shelf of books on how to achieve success.
And many of them would wisely tell you that failure is on the path to success.
Henry Ford, who humbly named a company after himself, once wisely said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, but more intelligently.”
I think we at least intellectually assent to, and intellectually understand that failure can be a good thing.
We can do so partly because we see it over and over in this country
It’s kind of a part of our American fabric and our American dream story.
We know that for a person to achieve success, the road is often littered with failures along the way.
There’s no shortage of stories of famous people who were rejected time and time again before the succeeded.
R.H. Macy started seven failed businesses before finally starting Macy’s
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper cuz “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
It took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts to make the light bulb and 10,000 to make a successful battery storage
Steve Jobs fired from his own company…went on to Pixar and then back again to Apple
Michael Jordan was cut from his HS BB team
We KNOW these stories. We love ‘em. It’s deep in the fabric of our “you can’t COUNT us out” culture
“And yet as much as we love the stories I sometimes seriously doubt how much we really believe in their truth for our own lives.
Because failure, is not something that many of us do well with.
Because we all fail. All of us. Some of us A LOT.
And the question is…what do you do with it? So you failed. Now what?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, what is failure anyway? How would you define failure? Is failure sin?
Failures can sometimes be of our own making. Our fault.
Sometimes outside circumstances cause us to fail.
Sometimes failure is just us sinning. It’s us sinning against God.
Sometimes it’s not.
Failure is just essentially being unsuccessful.
Your business or latest idea can fail. Is that sin?
I don’t know. Usually not.
Does it still hurt? You bet.
Does it still affect how you relate to God?
Marriages can fail.
Is there usually sin involved in that failure?
Yep. All different kinds right.
We can fail in our obedience to God in something.
He asks us to do something. We don’t. Failure.
And we hate failure. We live in a success-driven land.
WE are a TASK-focused culture much more than a relationship focused culture, and thus we crave success.
WHAT IS SUCCESS
But be careful to define what success is
I mean, what are you trying to accomplish in life? What are you living for?
And what is success? How do you define success on this earth?
Who would you say is successful?? How do you become successful??
Is it getting to a certain level of money?
If so, than Jesus might have been a failure.
He didn’t have a lot of money.
Is it getting an established job?
The apostle Paul wandered around from town to town and people supported him. Sometimes Paul had to make tents on the side just to have some extra coinage.
Was he a failure?
I think sometimes as parents we just want kids to grow up and be successful.
But what do we mean?
Get an established job and make an acceptable amount of money?
Let me ask you a question: What if your kid grows up, DOES THAT, but doesn’t’ love Jesus?
Is that okay with you? Is that success?
What is success?
As one successful business leader turned Christian wrote, “I climbed the ladder of success only to discover that my ladder was leaning against the wrong wall!”
What’s the Biblical standard of success?
Glorifying God. Following your King. Obedience.
Before we get to anything else today…ask yourself, “How does GOD want me to succeed?”
A STORY OF FAILURE
So the first thing we can do is live for what true success really is.
But then, what happens when we fail? How does God look at us?
I want to point you to one of the biggest failures of the Bible.
It’s the story of one of Jesus’ closest friends, Peter, denying he was indeed a follower of Jesus
As they were finishing up the Last supper, Jesus tells all of his disciples that they will all fall away on account of Him, to which Peter replies the following…
(Matthew 26:33-35) – NIV
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Then later, Jesus is arrested and brought to Caiaphas the high priest. Peter follows him at a distance and is out in the courtyard while the “trial” begins. Then this happens:
(Matthew 26:69-75) – NIV
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
And even though Peter has this opportunity to do the right thing and stand by Jesus, He fails.
He DENIES the messiah. The one he followed “religiously,” no pun intended, for the last 3 years. He failed. Failure.
HOW DO WE RESPOND
But here’s the thing. Failure is unavoidable in your life. You are going to fail.
You’re not perfect. You’re going to fail, sin, you name it.
The question is…what are you going to do about it when it happens?
“See, Jesus, knowing what would indeed happen, gives Peter some words of advice before this all happens. We see these words in Luke’s account
(Luke 22:32) – NIV
32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
And WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED BACK…
He’s telling us the key to failure. When you fail. Turn back to your Father.
DESPITE…what you’ve done. DESPITE your failure, turn back to Him.
And we should know this, right? It’s what we talked about at the beginning.
That’s supposed to be our culture. If at first you don’t succeed, try , try again!
But here’s the deal…you won’t try again…you won’t get back on your feet…if you don’t know God’s response to your failure.
Whenever I give a message, I try and ask myself some hard questions about the topic.
And I tried to search my soul on this during the week. Because…I think I’m afraid of failure. I’m NOT a risk-taker. I’m safe. I’m afraid of failing.
But why? Why am I afraid of failing?
Great question. One I’m still processing pretty hard.
For most of us (myself included), our fear of failure comes down to two misunderstandings about God.
And they’re things we can intellectually know. But we don’t KNOW it in our hearts.
GOD CAN’T DO IT. IT DEPENDS ON ME
Let me show you how the first one plays out.
When we fail, our natural tendency is to say, “Ooooo, I won’t go there any more. That hurt.” So, we put up a barrier…a proverbial note to self, “Don’t’ go there. That hurts. Don’t risk.” (maybe it’s love, maybe evangelism, maybe school, maybe work, maybe friendship, could be anything)
And then we fail again, and we put up another barrier. Don’t go there. And another.
And what happens is we hem ourselves in to such a degree that there’s no space for God to use us for anything great because we’ve already declared to Him that so many areas are off limits.
And what’s happening, is we begin to operate under a fundamental misunderstanding of life and God.
We’re making it about us.
I can’t go there. I can’t do it. I will fail.
Yes. Yes. And yes.
You can’t. But HE CAN!
He can do it…through you. He can help you love again. He can speak through you. He can do great things through you.
But when we box ourselves in due to the pain of failure, we mistakenly are ALSO telling Him we think He’s a small God.
But he’s NOT a small God. He can do amazing things through you.
And He wants to do amazing things through you. Let Him.
And you’re going to fail along the way. And that’s okay. He’ll use that.
All things work together the Bible says.
But if you’re afraid of failure…or can’t admit you fail…then God’s work in your life will be limited.
Because the degree in which you can understand your own brokenness and failure before God, is the often the same degree in which He can use you.
If you know you’re a broken, messed up person, with a lot of failures, He can probably do a lot through you.
But if you think you’re without failure, or the opposite, afraid to do anything because YOU couldn’t do it…then…those are both great limiters to God’s work in your life.
“I’m A FAILURE” – YOU’RE NOT!!
Here’s the other fundamental misunderstanding about God that leads to us stuck in failure rather than learning from it.
So many of us, when we fail, we feel like we’re no good. We feel like failure means we’re a bad person. You feel that “YOU are a failure”
But here’s the truth: “Failure is an event, not a person.”
You are not a failure.
Maybe that’s how this world has looked at you. A failure. A mess-up.
Maybe that’s how your parents looked at you. When you messed up, you failed.
But your Father in heaven looks at you quite differently.
Let’s look back to Peter.
I’m guessing no one has failed to the degree of Peter in denying Christ during his trial.
And yet, God restores him.
He even tells him before he does it that “when you turn back…”
He’s saying. It’s okay to come back. I love you!
This is just one small verse of the Bible, but it sheds some light on what might have happened to Peter
(1 Corinthians 15:3-5) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter[c] and then by the Twelve.
Jesus appears to Peter first and has a one-on-one conversation with him.
What he said, we’ll never know. But I can guess what they talked about. And I imagine he forgave Him. DESPITE his failure.
Because Peter goes on to live a life fully in love with Jesus.
He’s a man that knows deeply that God loves him DESPITE.
And God does. He loves YOU.
DESPITE…despite your failures.
It’s why he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for you and offer you the gift of eternal life.
That’s the theme of this series and our theme verse is this:
(Romans 5:8) – NIV
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
That DESPITE knowing all of your failures AHEAD OF TIME, he still decided to come down and die for you
So listen, when you fail…and even when you fail BIG TIME…you’re not rocking God’s world. He already knew about it.
He knew about your big mess up thousands of years ago, AND STILL sent His son to die for you.
He loves you DESPITE your failures.
Failure is an event, not a person.
You’d be a failure if he didn’t come to die for you, but HE DID!
If God can forgive people like Peter, he can forgive people like us.
And he wants to forgive you. That offer sits on the table in front of you.
And let me make an important point about Peter.
Peter’s denial was a temporary failure of his faith. But not the ending of.
He failed. He screwed up. But the important thing is, He dusted himself off, got back up…and changed the world…literally.
But He could have sat in failure. Wallowing it. But He didn’t need to. He knew God loved him DESPITE.
And he took his failure, he learned from it, and got back up.
In the 1929 Rose Bowl, Cal played Georgia Tech.
During the 1st half, a man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for Cal, became disoriented and accidently ran 65 yards in the wrong direction until he was tackled by one his teammates on the 2 yard line.
In the lockerroom during half time, the players sat quietly on the benches, while Riegels put a blanket around his shoulders, sat in a corner, put his face in his hands, and cried like a baby.
They spent most of the half in silence until the coach said, “The same team that played the first half, plays the second half”
The whole team sprinted out except Riegels who didn’t budge.
His coach said, “Roy, did you hear me? Get out there. You’re starting!”
Roy looked up w/ wet cheeks and said, “I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.”
Then the coach put his hand on Roy’s shoulder and said, “Roy, get up. Get back in there. The game is only half over!”
And Roy Riegels went out to the field and many have said played one of the best halves of football than any man has ever seen.
And here’s the deal. The first half is over. It’s in the past. It’s forgiven.
Now make the most of the rest of it.
(Philippians 3:13 – NIV)
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
We don’t need to wallow in failure and the past because we’ve got a God that loves us DESPITE it.
The Bible gives us more truth about failure
(Psalm 37:23-24) – NIV
23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
You will stumble. But you won’t ultimately fall. God is with you. For eternity.
Listen, this world might tell you that you’re a failure, but you tell them that you don’t care what they think because the King of Kings and the Creator of the Universe loves you anyway!
Despite it all.
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.