Five Smooth Stones
Since the church I currently attend doesn't have service until 2:00 pm on Sunday, I've tried to make an effort to find other ways to spend my Sunday mornings in the Lord's presence, usually reading the Bible, praying, reading a Christian non-fiction book or listening to a sermon online.
Last Sunday, I listened to Eric Ludy's sermon and it spoke so much to my heart that I just had to share it on here. Over and over, I would hear a phrase or idea in this sermon and just scribble it down in my journal in excitement. It's like God was speaking to me directly through this sermon and explaining so many things I've been questioning about my faith and the faith of people around me.
It's a lengthy video (almost 2 hours), but please take the time to watch it, even if it's 20 minutes each day as you're getting ready in the mornings.
Some of my favorite parts if you'd like a Cliff Notes Version:
The return of the Irish Elk
The Irish Elk is an extinct species that stood 10 feet tall with an additional five feet high antlers sprawled twelve feet wide. Today, we're so used to the regular elk we see that if we see one while driving, we'll pull over and admire the elk that stands five to seven feet tall. "Did you see that?" we'll ask in admiration. But, what about the 15 foot elk?!
"True Christianity today has been lost. We have a dwarfish, little version we're impressed with. We stop on the side of the road and say, 'We've seen Christianity.' Are you sure you've seen the triumphant Christianity of history past? We've been shortchanged and we want to see the return of the Irish Elk."
This part of the sermon at the very beginning put into words what I've been thinking about so much lately. I look around me and see so many church satisfied with comfortable Christianity - with routine and a happy, comfortable life.
But, where are the miracles? Why aren't my prayers healing people? Why have I not brought a single person to God? Why am I not lifted up in prayer with the Holy Spirit for hours on the behalf of the church? Why is my life today so different from the lives of the first Christians and apostles as described in Acts?
We've settled for good enough, for the regular elks. But, our God hasn't changed. He's still the same today as he was when the apostles walked this Earth. It is we who have changed and it breaks my heart so much to realize this.
Humility that is only surface deep
One of the greatest challenges in my spiritual life is humility. Every time I feel like I've truly humbled my heart, something happens and I realize there is still a whole lot of "Look at me!" inside my heart. I like how Eric emphasizes the importance of disciplining yourself in humility by serving the Lord in ways that would normally get you lots of attention in our society, but doing these things anonymously so no one knows you're doing it ("The cocoon of anonymity). It's definitely got me thinking about how I can implement this exercise in my daily life.
Growing from a novissionary to a missionary
Eric's whole sermon referred over and over to the general theme of how a young Christian grows into a Christian leader. I especially enjoyed how he separated the novissionaries from the missionaries and laid out the different phases (at about the 1 hour mark) that transition you between the two.
So many people today jump into leading ministries shortly after coming to the Lord and although that passion to serve Christ and bring others to Him is amazing, too often it can be a stumbling block both for the leader and his followers. As young Christians, we must know our place within God and the church through humility, respect and obedience before our elders. So often we reject the things our parents, grandparents and church elders tell us - "Things have changed," we say disregarding tradition and the old-fashioned way. How wrong we are to turn away from the wisdom of those grey heads that line our church pews!
Always take the lowest place
"Restrain to always take the lowest place, and never presume a higher one."
A lot of Eric's sermon towards the end was about David's process of becoming King. I like how Eric emphasized the fact that although David knew from a young age that he is anointed to be King, God first put David into multiple roles and occasions where he had to serve others over and over again. If you know you've been called to a great ministry, opportunity or leadership position, yet you're still in school or just not able to live out your calling fully just yet, it can get frustrating to wait.
Maybe you feel called to move to Africa and take care of orphans, but you're still in high school and unable to move quite yet. Maybe you want to be a doctor and save lives in undeveloped nations, but you're still working through your pre-reqs at your state university. Maybe you want to start a shelter for homeless youth, but just don't have the resources or opportunity to do so right now.
That's okay. God has you in this place of waiting for a purpose, so embrace it. Bloom where you are planted. Accept the lowest possible place wherever you are and serve God and the people in your life with your whole heart and life. Then, one day, in His time, you'll grow into your calling. I promise.
What was your favorite part of this sermon?
Happy Tuesday, lovelies!