Allen Jackson - You Are Designed To Lead
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And when I think about coming back outside, it seemed like an appropriate time to try to understand where we are a bit. I was given some counsel many years ago, and I think it's appropriate as we begin this new series in our fall festival, they were three lines. I was in a difficult place in my life and there seemed to be no easy choices, there were no choices where I liked the outcomes. And the advice that was given to me was this, to do nothing is to make a choice. Silence in the face of evil, is affirmation, and if you fail to respond, you will increasingly be overcome until you're totally subjugated to what you've been standing against.
The spiritual turmoil in our world continues to gain momentum, now that's the reality in which we're living these days. Daily reports of evil and wickedness are both unsettling in scope and in their frequency. You can look away, you can put your fingers in your ears, you can pretend not to notice, but what we're watching is not typical. Our world is changing. There are many, many expressions of that and because the time are limited to a couple, and I'll choose one from the secular arena and one from the church world, those are the places I'm most familiar with. We've heard a lot this week about gender confusion being promoted amongst our children.
Not only is there curriculum in our schools which promotes these destructive ideas to children, but the reporting this week across our nation, at least in some circles, revealed that many of our leading healthcare providers, have been sponsoring the mutilation of our children for several years. Didn't begin with COVID. Vanderbilt, a place from which we have all benefited or most of us have benefited began planning a clinic to address transgender health in 2016, and it opened in August of 2018. Wasn't something that emerged since the pandemic. Medical practices were being based upon thought leaders, not clinical research. Minors have been subjected to life altering surgeries provided by Vanderbilt, because it was understood to be profitable, their words not mine.
We're told there's nothing to see here because parents have agreed to the procedures. And for the most part everybody's been silent, but I'd like to pose a question, if parents agreed to let their minor children drink alcohol, get drunk, and then sent them to the school in an altered mental state, there would be repercussions, and there should be, that's bad parenting. Surely we can acknowledge that gender reassignment for minors does not reflect wisdom. Now, may I suggest that we all have to use our voice, not in anger, not in belligerent, certainly not in violence, but use your voice, talk about it when you're at the ball fields watching your children play. Talk about it when you're with parents, interacting with other parents or when you're going into the schools. Talk about it at work, your opinion, your perspective, your voice on this matter is important, especially if you work in healthcare.
We can't just look away. I told you we had thousands of pastors on campus this week. I traveled a bit this month to do pastors conferences in Texas, so I've been listening to a lot of pastors and the reporting from churches, and I can tell you the church in our nation is struggling. About 30% of the people that we're participating on campus in worship services Pre-COVID, have not returned. And to most of the pastors that are struggling with that, that feels very much like rejection. They didn't make choices that ushered in COVID, people just found more comfortable lifestyles, we'll turn on a stream. I talked this week through a pastor from Washington State, his church had to sue the state of Washington in order to have his church be allowed to open. He said, in the city of Portland so many churches have closed, never reopened, that there's dozens of churches for sale across the city of Portland.
On top of that, there's a falling away within the church, those that still participate, those that are leading in churches, denominational apostasy, and apostasy in general, is flourishing at a rate I have never seen in my lifetime. We have leaders in institutions dictating policies and practices, to those that are serving under their authority which are not orthodox against scripture. They're forcing churches and leaders to comply or leave. That's not freedom of speech nor freedom of choice. Church leaders demanding that language be used by pastors and other leaders, which is inclusive. If that's a little blind to you, it means they don't want anyone referring to God as Father. Such statements are no longer deemed acceptable in many of our training institutions for church leaders and in many of our organized religious systems. Free speech has been limited even within the churches.
Now, here's the awkward part, we've continued to be silent for the most part in the face of censorship, deception, and immorality. We've spent months together since we first gathered outside for COVID. I've walked with you through the principles of big trouble ahead, how we can flourish in a season of deception and fear. Our objective together was to identify a personal pathway through this season of disruption and we considered the private responses to protect against destructive currents that have become so prevalent. We talked about the condition of our hearts, our personal choices. Week, after week, after week, hundreds and thousands of people knelt in the grass and on the pavement, repenting in humility before the Lord, we understood we had to change.
I have repeatedly reminded you that our problems at their root are spiritual, they're not economic, they're not political, they're not in the industrial corporate world, they're spiritual. Therefore, you and I as the people of God are empowered to be difference makers. You're not irrelevant, you're at the center of the discussion. God is watching us, he will move in the earth in response to his people. It's a principle of scripture. Leading with faith is an action plan for mobilizing effort in the kingdom of God. Once you begin to make some personal adjustments, we have to begin to consider our responsibilities beyond ourselves.
Now, I know that's an adjustment. Most of our faith has been given to us in terms of personal salvation, and I believe in that, I believe in conversion. Being born again, salvation, whatever label you use for that initiation into the kingdom of God, but once you've established that, there's a broader assignment that comes with your faith. Does anybody here ever flown on a commercial airliner? Looks like about ten of you, is that really all? How many of you have flown on a commercial airliner? That's a little better, thank you for your honesty. If you just completely ignore me and eat ribs, that's rude, but there are some good ribs out there I'm just saying. Well, if you've been on one of those commercial flights, you have been told repeatedly, ad nauseam, what to do in case of an emergency.
"If needed, an oxygen mask will appear from above you. Pull down on it, don't jerk it out of the roof just pull down on it, to be that the cord is be sure the cord is not encumbered, then you secure it around your own face and mouth". Has anybody ever gotten that instruction? Yeah good, I got the right group, me too. "Secure it around your own face and mouth before you consider helping anyone else. Even if you're traveling with small children before you can help them, you have to secure the oxygen around your own face and mouth". However, if you secured your oxygen flow, and you looked around yourself on the airplane and you saw that all the seats immediately adjacent to you and the rows in front and the rows behind were filled with children, and you didn't help any of them, you just watched them struggle, and watched them move into oxygen deprivation, but you had your mask on. "They're not my kids, I'm not their parent, I'm not sure I have permission. Should I say anything? Should I raise an alert, what should I do"?
If you just sat there with your oxygen flow un impeded, breathing deeply and watched the children around you be subject to that, it would be evil. It wouldn't just be negligent. Well, may I humbly submit it, I've been a part of this, this is my watch too. We've been way too silent while 60 million children lost their lives. It was awkward, it was uncomfortable, it was inconvenient, we didn't know what to say. I can barely, I really struggle to comprehend that there seems to be some anticipation that there'll be so many people angry about the Supreme Court saying abortion shouldn't be celebrated and giving the states the opportunity to make the decision. So many people think that's a heinous thing, that it could change the elections this year. I can't believe there's not more Godly people, people aware of the privilege of the sanctity of human life and the responsibility we have to defend it they would speak up.
Well, God has intervened on our behalf in that arena. Not because we voted or we campaigned, but once again, our children are being sacrificed before our very eyes, and once again we're tempted to be silent, while the children in our cities and communities in our states are mutilated. We cannot, use your voice, pay attention, don't be angry, don't be belligerent, use your voice. Lead with your faith. You've been designed to lead, not to sit in church and sing your favorite chorus and wait for the trumpet to blow. We will give an account for our watch. We will be asked how we did with the message with which we were entrusted, and we'll be asked to do more than parse Greek verbs, or to defend our eschatology whether we were adamantly, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib or no-trib. We have been coached and I've lived in the system, I'm not casting stones. I'm telling you, God is awakening us to a different engagement in the world in which we live.
Let's decide we're gonna lead with our faith in new ways. I would submit to you that you are designed by God to lead. Look at Revelation chapter 5. It's a picture of heaven and the people gathered before the throne of God and it said, "And they sang a new song. 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.'" Who are they singing about? Jesus. You purchased people from God, from every nation, tribe, language, race, "And you have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth".
Jesus's redemptive work was to give you the authority to serve as a king and a priest in your journey through time. You've been entrusted with authority, spiritual authority, not political authority or economic authority. You may not be a person of great influence in the social media, you may not know how to turn the social media on, but you are a child of the King, and the redemptive work of Jesus was expressed so that you and I might be representatives of that authority in the earth. It's how Jesus taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," that's our assignment. We go into the classroom to bring the will of God into those places. We go into the marketplace to bring the will of God into those places. We sit at our kitchen table so that the will of God can be expressed within our family systems, that's our assignment. You are designed to lead.
Look at Jeremiah 1 and verse 7. "The Lord said to Jeremiah, 'Do not say, 'I'm only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them for I'm with you and I will rescue you". That's a scary little assignment to me, God says, "Don't be afraid" 'cause he is afraid and then he says, I'm gonna rescue you, which means you're gonna get into places where you're gonna need supernatural deliverance. Go anyway. Accept the assignment anyway. Don't say, "I'm only a child". Stop giving the reasons you can't, you shouldn't. We're not interested in the reasons that we imagine were disqualified. Do we have the courage to lead with our faith?
God gives each one of us a realm of influence, every one of us. Sometimes we don't like the assignment. We just don't like the assignment we've received. It's not that we're not aware, that we don't comprehend it, we just choose to ignore it. It's inconvenient, we're not sure we would like the consequence, so we've just acted as if we didn't understand. It's a new season. Look at 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 19. "God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us".
You see, the message God has for our generation isn't coming through an angel. Stop praying for pastors to be more anointed, start becoming a bolder advocate for Jesus of Nazareth. I believe the pastors and the churches across America would find more courage when the people that are in their churches find courage. Would you prefer the pastors to lead? Sure, but we don't necessarily have that influence or that opportunity, so let's decide to become the solution. Let's stop pointing our fingers and waiting for somebody else to have a change of heart, or a new boldness, or a new courage, let's become those people. It's time to lead with our faith.
Says, "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God". You're ambassadorial material. They may not know it in Washington, but they know it in heaven. That should make you sit up a little straighter. You don't necessarily have to fly the Christian flag on your car when you drive through the community, but a Jesus is Lord magnet wouldn't be bad. You're ambassador, you've been designed to be an ambassador. I can say that word. Look in 1 Corinthians 1. "So that no one may boast before him. 'It is because of him that you're in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God, that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.' Therefore as it is written: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord".
We don't lead because of our specialness, or how unique we are, or our IQ, or the power that we've managed to garner, or the accolades that we have achieved, we lead because of what Christ is doing in us. What's been done on our behalf. There's no room for boasting on our part. This isn't about selfish ambition or selfish promotion. Our creator designed us with these capacities, and Jesus has made the sacrifices that were required, so that we might actually achieve our potential. Without his sacrifices, we had no hope of that. So our willingness to lead with our faith begins from a place of humility. It's not our strength or our ability, the best I have is my God's story, let me tell you what God has been doing for me. Let me tell you how he's forgiven me, or helped me, or redeemed me, or changed my heart, or he's changed my want-tos, or reordered my priorities. In spite of my brokenness and my frailty he's helped me, and I think he would help you too. We've compromised with the darkness for too long.
Now there's some objections that are pretty frequent, I hear them often. I put 'em in kind of two buckets. We object to accepting our leadership with our faith, because of some things we don't have, and then we object because of some things we do have. We say, "You know, I can't lead with my faith, because I don't have an audience. Nobody cares about what I think". Well, I would encourage you to say that a little differently, in reality, we don't appreciate or respect the audience that we do have. We think, "Well, I would only be bolder or have a voice if I had a different audience, I don't wanna speak to my peers. I don't wanna have to speak into my professional world. I don't wanna have to bring a God perspective to bear there, they'll think I'm a crackpot or a cook, or one of those people".
Sometimes in our selfish ambition, we imagine that we should only respond to larger audiences. We believe we're destined for more than small beginnings. Well, in my life experience, until you honor the beginning point, until you're willing to begin with the influence God has given you, and with boldness and compassion, and mercy, and courage, bring your Jesus story to bear there, you are not trustworthy for a larger audience. We have to begin with the audience that we have. You do have an audience, there are people who care about your opinion. There are those that will roll their eyes, but there are those who will listen.
And then I hear people say, "Well, I don't have any resources". With increased resources, I promise will come increased expectations and responsibilities. Learn the lessons of being an advocate for Jesus with the resources that are currently available to you. Greater resources would not give you greater freedom, until you become comfortable with the resources you have today. And then, people will say to me, "Pastor, I don't have all the necessary gifts. You know it's easy for you, you're good with words or you like to talk in public," or some people just think it's easy, people say to me, "I know you read your Bible but it's just easier for you". No, I used to go to sleep reading in the Bible every day. I don't think that's true, but it's easy for us to project that onto others. I believe you're a design masterpiece. I believe the Creator of heaven and earth designs you to be an ambassador for him, in this most pivotal time in the unfolding of human history, and self-awareness is needed to lead us into that.
If you'll begin where you are and garner the experience, begin to move, learn, grow, accept responsibility, listen, you'll be amazed at what God will do with your life. And then there's another bucket of objections. People tell me what they have, that are reasons that they really aren't, they can't lead with their faith. "I have too much baggage Pastor, my past disqualifies me. People know me at work or in my neighborhood or in my family, I've been such a good pagan, they would just laugh at me if I talked about Jesus". Well, most of our heroes in the Bible, their biographies are littered with some tragic circumstances.
The redemptive work of Jesus is adequate to provide forgiveness for you, I promise. And when people remind you of your past, just smile and say, "God's forgiven me and he would forgive you of your past as well". It's a part of the good news we have to deliver. And then sometimes we just have too many responsibilities, "It's not a good life season for me. I'm busy, I'm in college and there's a lot I wanna get done. We're young parents, we've got small children, life's crazy, I don't have any free time. I'm retired and this is my time in my life. I've worked all these years for others, and now these are my days and I wanna do what I want to with them".
I'll give you the quick survey, there's no perfect season. There's no time when the responsibilities of life, or the challenges of aging, or the circumstances of your journey, will be so easy that you'll think, now's the time. We have to begin tonight and accept the assignment to lead with our faith. And then I met people that say, "You know pastor, I know that's a legitimate thing and I'm glad you've done that, and I'm glad God calls some other people to do that, but to be just candid with you, I have my own dreams, I have my own wants, I have my own aspirations, and candidly, I don't really wanna accept any outside assignments".
Well, I understand that to be real and I think it probably flourishes even within the church. But I would remind you of the fundamentals of this relationship, Jesus is Lord, and he is either Lord of all of our lives, or he's not Lord at all. Once you accept Jesus as Lord of your life, it's no longer your time or your calendar, they're not your resources, and even the dreams that we shelter and protect and we foster so carefully, they need to be informed and directed by the Lord. I could give you character, after character, after character from scripture, where God wrote for them a new future. In Hebrews, it says to us, "He's the author and the completer of our story". Do you have the courage to let God write a story for you?
Hey, we are living through a leadership crisis and it's not just in Washington DC, it's all around us. You know, stop worrying about who's leading in the White House and start leading in your house. That's the change we've got to make. We're way too heated up about others, and we're not recognizing the opportunity God has put around us. I wanna make an announcement. God created you to lead. He's invested you with the things that you need to make an influence for the kingdom of God in this generation. You may not have the influence you would like or be leading in the place you would prefer, but God has given you influence and if you will exercise that on behalf of the kingdom of God, he will multiply that influence. I have lived that out, I know it to be true. I wanna pray for you that you'll have the boldness to become an outspoken ally of Jesus of Nazareth.
Father, forgive us for when we've been quiet, when we've been or reluctant. Give us the wisdom to know what to say and when to be silent. Give us a boldness from your Spirit, in Jesus's name, amen.