Chris Hodges - Building Healthy Emotions
Hey, church, thank you for joining me today. Welcome to week number two of a series that we've simply called "The New Normal," which I'm trying to still get used to. I am standing in front of a completely empty auditorium. I'm in my place. Where are you? And I thank God for the miracle of technology that we are able to gather still without being in these buildings. But I can't wait for the day that we get back together. And that's a question I'm getting a lot lately. People have been texting me. The staff is wanting to know. Everybody's wanting to know when are we going to get back together as a church? And the answer is I don't really know. We're kind of taking it day by day because this thing is changing day by day, and I know there's a lot of talk about reopening the country and doing it in phases. And we've been in communication with the federal government.
In fact, I was on a phone call this week with some other faith leaders, with Attorney General Barr, and the Surgeon General, and just discussing what that looks like, and they're giving us a lot of support, by the way, which is encouraging, and been in contact with our governor. I've talked to our mayor. So, we're coordinating with them, and we really don't know when it's gonna all happen, but we're getting prepared for that. I will tell you, if you make me guess about when it might happen... and please don't hold me to this. It's kind of dangerous to even throw out a date, but I'm thinking the earliest might be May 31st, honestly. I think that might be the earliest. It might be much later than that, but we're preparing for both scenarios.
I do want to tell you, though, what I do know, and that is our attitude is we don't want the church place to hurt the workplace. I think right now the priority is our economy and our businesses. And I say that because I do think we're an essential business, by the way. I think the church is an important part. But to be honest with you, we're functioning pretty well in this new reality. I'm actually speaking to more people than ever before. We're probably more connected than we ever have been before. Your giving has been very, very generous, more than it ever has been before. So, we're doing really, really well. And I don't want us to be selfish right now when we're doing well. I want to make sure our economy gets back going, and I would never want the church place to hurt the workplace.
And so, we're going to do it carefully, cautiously, and as soon as we can. I give you my word. But we're in a new normal, right? So, this series, the thought of this series is what's different? Like, how do we live out our faith differently? We know how we did it when we were all gathering and we were in small groups. But how do we do it in this reality? What does that look like? And our theme verse that Pastor Mark gave us last week, I thought it was so brilliant and just kind of got us started on the first step of this. It's found in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, where it says, "May God himself, the God of peace..."
So, let me stop right there and say that everything we're going to talk about is ultimately to get you to a place of peace: spiritual peace, emotional peace, peace in your family, in every way. So, that's the theme, and that's the goal. So, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through". And here's the focus, and this is the reason why it's three weeks. "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".
So, for us, that we're trying to figure out how to live in this new normal, we think you've gotta figure it out spiritually. You've gotta figure it out in your soul. And your soul's your emotions, and that's going to be our topic today. And then you also have to figure it out just in your body. Like, how should I live differently? And how do I take care of myself differently in this? And spiritually, we know that we teach you this, that we think that spiritually, we say four things. That you know God. That's the first step in your spiritual journey is just to know God, right? It's to be in a relationship with Him, and we do it well in this building, but we don't have to have this building to do it.
In fact, like I said earlier, we're actually communicating the gospel to more people, getting the Word of God to more children, helping more people at probably 400% increase, honestly. So, we know, as much as we liked the old normal, we can still know God in the new normal. We can also find freedom in the new normal, right? So, freedom means we can work through our issues. And we obviously do that best when we're gathering together in groups, but I'm going to give a shout out to all the small group leaders, who are continuing through the semester. Say, look, we don't need to stop right now connecting as small groups. In fact, we even had a virtual freedom conference.
So, we didn't gather for it, but we had a virtual freedom conference. So, we're still finding freedom, but doing it in a new normal. We're still discovering purpose. In fact, right now, I'm here to tell you that we are developing a brand-new online version of the growth tract. So, if you've ever wanted to go through the growth track, or go through it again, in May we're going to unpack, unveil that for you. It's going to be awesome. And, of course, my goodness, this last one is probably happening more now than it ever has happened. We make a difference best in the context of a crisis. And huge shout out to the Dream Team, I mean, you guys are making me look so good, way better than I am honestly, your innovation, creativity, and service at every campus and every city is blowing me away.
And if you just want to see some of it yourself, if you're not connected to all that, maybe you're just checking out Highlands for the first time, can I tell you just go to any of our Church of the Highlands Instagram pages, go to the Birmingham Dream Center, or the Christ Health Center, or the Montgomery Dream Center, or any of those places, and see what the hands and feet of Jesus, the capital C, Church, really, really looks like. Now, today, I want to help you with that second one, right? So, we're going to be kept blameless in our spiritual life, our emotional life, and in our physical life, and this one's very important because we all know what coronavirus is doing to people's bodies.
I think we're completely underestimating what this pandemic is doing to people's souls. I think on the other side of this, churches, pastors, counselors are gonna have their work cut out for them, because I think there's a huge emotional and psychological toll that is happening on people's, just their insides, of how it's affecting our minds, how it's affecting the way we think about things. And I want to walk you through that in a new reality. Now, I'm not trying to oversimplify this at all, but basically emotions have a progression or stages, and you're probably in one of these three, and I want to just simply it by saying usually what happens is, first of all, our emotions get out of order because we experience some type of shock.
So, it could be the sudden death of someone. For me, I still can't... I still sit on the couch and look at Tammy, like, "Is this a dream? Are we really all shut down? Am I really quarantined? Is this really happening? Has the world really stopped in this kind of way"? And it's disorienting because when you're in this phase, you can't see correctly. You're not seeing things right. It's hard to see in the middle of something, the end of something, which, by the way, God cannot be shocked, because he already knows the beginning from the end. So, he's not going, "Oh, my goodness". God has never said, "Oh, wow, I didn't see that coming". God never... now, we do. And for some of you, you're still in the shock of this.
Here's the problem. When we can't see correctly what's going on, our emotions rule. They kind of take over our lives. So, we'll say things like, "Oh, these are unprecedented times". Can I tell you something? These are not unprecedented times. In fact, if I hear that phrase one more time, "Well, this is unprecedented". Every time they say that, they're keeping us in an emotional, "Oh, my goodness, no one's ever been through this before". Well, guess what? Yes, they have. In fact, if you study pandemics just in the last couple of hundreds years, there have been many much worse than this. And I'm not trying to downplay this one. I'm just here to tell you we've been through this before.
And if I just tell you, for some of you it's like, okay, and the world went on, and the people lived, and it was okay. I read a story of the pandemic that took place in the summer of 1854 in London, and this pandemic was a... I don't even know how to... cholera, I think that's how you say it. Anyway, it's where the water gets contaminated, and people were dying. In fact, in a very short period of time in London, 23,000 people died from this outbreak, and there was a great pastor, a young pastor, kind of an inexperienced pastor at the time who would end up becoming very, very famous, a guy named Charles Spurgeon. He's kind of known now as the prince of preachers. He was one of the greatest orators of his time. And many today still study his communication skills. But when it first happened, here's an actual quote from Charles Spurgeon. He said, "I became weary in body and sick at heart".
So, now, he didn't have this disease. Physically, he was okay, but look at what was happening to him emotionally. He says, "My friends seemed to fail one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those". So, he wasn't sick, but he thought he was becoming sick. Does that sound familiar to any of you? He says, "I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it". Now, this is a pastor who, again, would end up being one of the most famous pastors. And he was experiencing the emotional shock. In fact, at one point, he was dong a funeral, ready for this? Every day. He was burying someone in his church every day. And he got so discouraged.
And as the story goes, he was walking home one day from a funeral, and he saw on the window of a shoemaker Psalm 91. "Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy inhabitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling". And one Scripture on the window of a little shoemaker in London flipped him out of that emotional state. And honestly, I'm so glad you're in church today because I'm hoping for some of you that are in emotional shock, you're still in this, "Ah, what is going on stage," you can't see that just the reading of God's Word and the smile of a pastor who's looking you in the eye right now and saying, "We're going to get to the other side of this".
In fact, we're one day closer to having all this behind us. And when he read that Scripture, here's what Charles Spurgeon said next. He said, "The effect upon my heart was immediate". I love that, and I'm hoping today, you say, "Oh, it's gonna take me a long time to get over it". No, it doesn't have to. "The effect on my heart," Charles Spurgeon said, "was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality". Don't you like how they talked back then? "I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit. I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm". And that's what can happen. So, our emotions have this tendency to "Ah"! Shock.
Now, shock not dealt with goes to the next stage, and that is we begin to feel sorrowful. We feel sorrow. Now, God cannot be shocked, but God can experience sorrow. You're going to see that. You're going to see where Jesus experienced sorrow. Sorrow comes from when we've lost something. So, for some of us, we're sorrowful because we've lost a graduation. For some of you, you've lost a job. For some of you, you've actually lost a friend, who succumbed to the disease. There's all these moments of sorrow because you've lost something. And again, I want you to know your God understands because we see throughout the Scripture that Jesus was a person acquainted with sorrow.
In fact, in Isaiah 53, and I loved how we had that verse, Isaiah 53, during our worship time today. It says of Jesus, prophesied by Isaiah, that "He was despised and rejected by men". Look at this. "He was a man of sorrows". Let me tell you why I'm reading that verse to you. It says because your God understands. Your God understands when you've lost something. I mean, we even know that when Jesus lost one of his dearest friends, Lazarus. Shortest verse in the whole Bible: "Jesus wept". Because he lost something. And that is common, normal, and even healthy to grieve the loss. So, when someone in your family passes away, or you've lost something, it's okay to cry.
Let me tell you what's not okay. What's not okay is for us to become overwhelmed by that sorrow. And that's what the enemy of your soul wants to do. The devil wants to take your natural, normal grieving, that is actually healthy, and bring it to a place that overwhelms you. And that's why the psalmist David said in Psalm 61. "Hear my cry". I am crying right now, God. "Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I cry out to you. When my heart becomes overwhelmed..." And for some of you, that's where you are. And if it's not dealt with the right way, your emotions are going to go to that third phase, and I don't want you to end up there.
And I'm just giving you the emotional stages: shock, sorrow because I'm overwhelmed. And he said, "Lead me to a rock". And by the way, I'm going to give you that rock. I'm going to give you what you can anchor your life to so that your sorrowful, natural, grieving of a job or a, you know, for some of you it's like you were preparing to go do this thing, and now it's been stripped from you, or whatever it is we can't be overwhelmed by that. We've gotta grab hold of something solid. I'm gonna give that to you today. Because if we don't, let me tell you what's going to happen, and that is we begin to struggle. And for some of you, you're struggling. So, your emotions are out of control, and so usually what people do is they create a coping mechanism.
So, for some of you, you turn to alcohol, or drugs, or even something that looks so innocent as Netflix binging for hour, upon hour, upon hour, and you're doing something to medicate yourself to escape. That's what people do is they escape, and here's what the problem is. You usually end up alone, and you usually end up ruminating, they call it. Psychologists call it ruminating. Ruminating is where you sit and think. Now, let me tell you something. If you sit and think, you're probably not going to come up with the best answer. In fact, when you're sorrowful and experiencing emotional, an emotional disruption, you're your own worst counselor. You should not be listening to you.
And even great people in the Bible, I mean, there are prophets saw God, saw the future, prophesied like Jeremiah, and he went through a hard day, a hard time, and he starts doing the whole "Why"? thing. "Why? Why? Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow and to end my life in disgrace"? Well, none of that happened, but he was there ruminating, thinking about it. And by the way, that's natural and normal. Even Jesus, on the cross, "My God, my God, why? Why is this going on"? Rumination is the focused attention on the symptoms of your distress, opposed to the solution.
So, in other words, you're sitting there, you're thinking like, "This has gotta be somebody's fault". And you'll either do one of two things. You'll either blame someone else or try to validate yourself in some kind of way. Why you had the excuse to drink that, take that, do this. "I deserve it". And you end up in a very bad place in your struggling, and I don't want you to struggle emotionally. Now, if I had you in this room, I could pray for you, and I could get you in a small group where you could talk about it. We're not in that normal. That normal is gone. We're in a new normal.
And I want to show you, as I close this message, that if you're emotionally struggling on how you can take care of your emotions in a new normal... I want to build it around a metaphor that Jesus taught. I'm going to give it to you out of The Message. Matthew chapter 7. So, Jesus said, this is very end of the most famous sermon in the whole wide world, it's called the Sermon on the Mount, three chapters, Matthew 5, 6, and 7. And Jesus said, "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life". I love that. Notice the next word. "They're not homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words that you can build your life on".
And then he brings in this metaphor of a house, and he says, "If you work these words into your life, you're like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock". So, here's the metaphor. I'm going to try to teach you how to build your life like a house, your emotions like a house. We're actually gonna use that metaphor. Because if you do it right, rain... let's just insert the word coronavirus. Let's insert the word loss of a job. When that happens, and the river floods, and a tornado hits, nothing moved the house. And that's what I want for you. I would love to tell you I could make all this go away. Can't. But what I know I can do is help you be solid in the middle of all this. And I want it for you physically, but honestly these bodies are going to come and go. Thank God, thank God for the body. And we spend so much time trying to keep the body alive.
Listen to me. You need to keep your soul alive. Jesus said, "Don't be afraid of the one who can kill your body. Be afraid of the one who can kill both body and soul". And I want to help you with that today. 'Cause if that happens, man, you're a solid rock 'cause you fixed yourself to some rock solid principles. So, let me give you three, and I'm gonna use this metaphor. Actually was in a conversation this week with a friend. Who is a clinical psychologist. His name is Dr. Henry Cloud. And he was teaching me this, and we were talking to some other pastors on a Zoom call, having some fun with that. And he said every person's emotions or their psychology is built just like a house is built.
So, a house has, first of all, a foundation. So, if you build a house, the first thing they do is they go down deep, pour something that you're never going to see again. It's a rock solid foundation. And then if you've ever seen a house being built, then they frame it up, right? And it's ugly. You can't even imagine that that house would ever look good. I mean, if you've ever seen just the frame of a house, it's just all this intricate pieces of lumber, and all these things there just to hold things up, but then you put on sheet rock, ultimately pictures and furniture and make it beautiful. I'm going to follow that same metaphor and teach you how to build a rock solid emotional life.
Here's the first. The foundation of your life, like secular clinical psychologists will tell you this, that the foundation of every human being is relationships and connectedness. Now, this is why this is a problem. This is a problem because this is what has been stripped from us. We've been told by our officials... I hate this phrase. I've never liked it from the first day I've heard it, and you hear it now a thousand times a day: social distancing. We're going to social distance. We're social distancing. I've always thought that that was the most horrible way to describe the fact that we need to be physically 6 feet or more, or in some places quarantined altogether. But we do not need to be socially distant. Physically, yes. Socially, no. Because the foundation of your life is your relationships and your connectedness.
And if you're struggling emotionally right now, and maybe even medicating, and you're crying yourself to sleep, and you're secretly not doing okay, I'm gonna tell you what you need to do. You absolutely must connect with God and with God's people, and you must do it every day. And I'm telling you this is the first step. In fact, we can't even build the rest of the house. The other principles are important and very, actually maybe even a little easier to do. But you will always be an emotional wreck until you take at least five minutes. I recommend 15 minutes or more to spend time with God. And I'm telling you, first part of the day my little routine is every day I get up, get my coffee first.
I know there's a verse somewhere that says that's what you should do first. I get my coffee, and I go down to my ugly old chair down in my basement I've had for probably 30 years. It's got holes in it. I'm gonna do an Instagram live sometime and show you my old ugly chair that I sit in every day. And I sit there and worship (three things) worship, read God's Word, tell Got what's on my mind. And I'm gonna tell you, all's well that starts well. It's not all's well that ends well. I get my head on straight first thing every day. And honestly, I spend about an hour there in that chair. Got my guitar there, got my journal there, and I just get my head on straight.
And the Bible says that if you'll do that, if you'll connect with God and think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy... by the way, who's the only one that's praiseworthy? That's God, worship. If you think about that, the peace of God will be with you. I'm gonna tell you, your holy emotions. 'Cause you don't have to distance from God. The Bible says that if you'll just spend time with him, his presence is there, and you need that. And not only with God, but I encourage you to pick up the phone. We can't meet in groups right now, but you'd better still have a small group. By the way, small groups are not a meeting. Small groups have a meeting. Small groups are a set of relationships.
Right now, none of my children are around me, but I'm still a dad. If I grab my phone and talk to them, they will receive from me as a dad. My family is not a dinner. We have dinner. And you need to find a set of relationships. Ephesians says, "From him," Jesus, "the whole body is joined, held together, supported, growing, and building each other up in love". You've gotta have that. This week, to be honest with you it was about, I think it was Thursday. I had a little rough day, to be honest with you. I just had a "I'm done with it".
Have y'all had that day yet? I am done with this. You know, and I was having one of those moments, and I texted Dino. I said, "Bro, we just need a... like let's just get, let's get some of our Cajun buddies on a Zoom call, and let's make one rule. We don't talk about this virus, and we don't talk about church work. Let's just get on and tell jokes and reminisce, and cut up". And y'all, we got on the phone and Zoomed with some of my Cajun buddies, some of the art guys, and we laughed and laughed, and picked on each other. And "Bro, you've gained weight, man. You know that"? Had so much fun. And in one hour, my soul was kind of put back together. And I want that for you.
Please, please, please initiate connection. That is the foundation of your life. Your relationships are the foundation of your life. And then the second thing, now we're going to frame the house. We're gonna put the wood up, right? The framing of the house is the structure. How is my life structured? My life is structured around two things: my purpose and then how I live that out, my routines. And for some of us, that's been stripped from you. You can't go to job, can't go to school. But guess what? You still have a purpose. And you still can create some routines. And again, secular psychologists who say, "If you want to be healthy in this new normal, you'd better grab a hold of your purpose and then put some structure to your day". "Well, I can't do that. I go to work".
Listen to me. Your daily profession is not your calling. Your calling does not come from your compensation. God has plans for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. That does not go away because we can't go to work physically. You need to understand that your life still has purpose, and the happiest people I know, honestly, and I'm pastoring people in the middle of all this pandemic, the happiest people I know are the ones who realize that that's true. I can take these lemons and turn it into lemonade and have some fun with it. This week, on Thursday night, this past week, was the NFL draft.
And I'm very close to the Tagovailoa family, and they're members of our church, and I'm just gonna tell you, guys, Tua and his family are just delightful in every way. They really are. And I've had the privilege of baptizing his dad. And anyway, it's great. So, I was actually planning on going to Las Vegas with them to be a part of the draft. They'd invited me to come. And, of course, that all got canceled. And they're doing this virtual draft in their homes. And so, I texted the parents, and I said, "Hey, I'm just praying for you today". And they said, "Hey, Pastor, can you get on a Zoom call before the draft starts? And just let's have a time of worship and prayer". I said, "Absolutely, I'd be happy to".
And so, about two hours before, 5:30, the draft starts like 7:30, I got on the Zoom, and Tua and his family. And so, I asked him, I said, "Bro, are you nervous? Are you nervous about what's going to happen"? He goes, he said, "PC, honestly, no. I'm not nervous at all". I said, "Why"? He goes, he said, "'Cause I know what my life's all about. I know God is in control of my life". He said, "I am not even stressing about which team will pick me because I know God's got me". And I remember hanging up thinking, "This is a family that is so centered because they have this innate belief and true", they put their fingers around a rock that says, "God's got me. I have purpose". And that's why Proverbs says, "If you don't have that..."
Those are the ones that are medicating. Those are the ones that are perishing. Those are the ones that are laying in bed and wishing this whole thing would be over. The NIV says it this way. "If you don't have a revelation of what God's doing in your life right now, it's like, 'Well then, I don't care anymore. I cast off restraint.'"
Listen to me. You can't do that. Frame your emotional house that I have a purpose. You know the happiest day of my life this week is? Yesterday when we did prayer, today when I'm doing church. I'm telling you I've been a little low this week. If I'm honest with you. And I have come alive. Just driving onto this property and standing in the spot, even though this room's empty, has put a little fire in my belly because I'm doing what I was called to do. And you need to do the same thing. You need to, here's the genius of this one. You need to discover your purpose and make a difference. That's what you need to do. This is what your focus of your life. This is the framing of your house. And I tell you that now because we need more people to work. I tell you that because it's going to help you.
Let's close the message. So, the foundation is my connectedness, God and others. The framing of the house, the structure of my house is that I'm called. I can make a difference. But now we're going to put sheetrock, pictures, furniture. We're going to beautify it. We're going to decorate our lives, our emotions. How do you make my emotions beautiful? The beautifying of your emotions comes from two things: trust, self-control. Let me say it another way. Trust, trust is I'm going to surrender what I can't control. Self-control is I'm going to only do the things that I can control. This is very important. Some of the most peaceful people I know are the ones that are like, "Mmph, God's got this. I'm a Christian, I can't lose. The worst thing that can happen to me is I go to heaven".
Let's trust. People worry about dying. What in the world? This is a mist. God's got this. If my God's not nervous, why am I nervous? But what I don't want you to get into is what they call in psychology a learned helplessness. So learned helplessness is when you've been beat up so much that you give up. No, I give up what I can't control, but I dive into what I can control. Again, I was on this call with Dr. Cloud to speak with all these pastors. And he said this, and he was telling this to pastors. And some of you might need to do this. He says make a list of everything you can't control.
So, I can't control the vaccine 'cause I'm not a scientist. Can't control when we go back to church because we're letting our officials make some of those decisions. He said, "And make a list. Like, literally make a list". And then this is hilarious to me. He said, "And set a timer for ten minutes and worry yourself to death". And he goes, "No, seriously, do it. Just worry yourself to death". He says, "'Cause then you'll really realize, 'There's nothing I can do about it.'" There's nothing I can do about it. And he says, "And then open your hands and give it to God". And I thought of this verse. "Trust".
You want peace today? Trust. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to him. He's going to take care of your tomorrow". Go read Matthew 6. Don't worry. God's got you. And then I get involved in the things I can do. So, what can I do? Well, I can control my attitude. And I can go serve at the Dream Center. I can go help somebody else. You know, when I listen to all these stories of the people that are serving in our Dream Centers and, you know, our Christ Health Center, the doctors, the nurses, the Highlands Dream Teamers that are out there turning lemons into lemonade, you ought to see how happy they are. Why? Because they just decided to control what they can control.
And when I thought about this... I'm going to close the service with this. I remember this old prayer that's called the Serenity Prayer. It was written by a... he's actually an American, but he has this German name, Reinhold Niebuhr or something like that. This theologian wrote this prayer decades ago, and it simply goes like this. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, and the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". I feel the peace of God right now. Give me the serenity to accept the fact that I can't heal this virus, but I am going to focus on what I can, and give me the wisdom to see the difference. "Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace".
Now the Bible says that, Romans chapter 5. Suffering produces character, character hope, and hope does not disappoint us. It goes on to say this, "Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is". I don't like it. But you know what? If I complain about it, it'll destroy my emotions. But you know what? Let's jump right into the darkness and do something about it. "I'm going to take this world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you, God, will make all things right if I surrender to your will, so that I might be reasonably happy in this life". And by the way, I know faith would say, "No, we've gotta..." Let's just, let's be honest. That's not true. "The best we really can get on this earth is reasonably happy".
Listen to me. I'm going a little longer than I should, but I feel God in this moment right now. I feel his presence. If you even put all your hope in earth has to be as perfect as you want it to be, you're setting yourself up, man. "God never intended earth to be heaven. Heaven is heaven. It's the only place where there's no more crying, no more sorrow, no more struggle. It's the only place", and that's why I like this prayer, "so that I might be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen".
You want to read it with me? Here we go. Say it with me. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it", come on, say it out loud with me, "trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will, so that I might be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next". And say it with me, "Amen". Close your eyes.
Father, thank you for every person who's in church today, not in a building, but we still are the church. We've gathered, we've worshiped, we've prayed, we've studied your Word. And God, I pray right now that the full effect of your Word brings peace to every soul.
Come on, open your hands right there and just receive it. God is in your living room right now. He's in your car. He's wherever you are, your bedroom, he's there. Receive his peace today, in Jesus's name. Would you look up at me? I normally say close your eyes and bow your heads, but it's just you there, right? Do you need Jesus in your life? Are you really a Christian? Have you surrendered the control of your life over to him? And that's all that Christianity really is by the way. It's letting Jesus be in charge. The Bible in Romans 10 says it this way, "If you'll make him Lord of your life", I mean, just give him the control. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you're letting him direct. You'll be saved. For it is with your heart you believe and are justified. It's with your mouth that you confess and are saved. So, let's confess with our mouth. If that's you, say this prayer. Say:
Jesus, I need you. Forgive me for living my life without you. Save me. Change me. Give me your Holy Spirit to become the person you want me to be. (Now make a confession. You ready for it? Say) I believe that you are the Son of God, that you died, you were buried, and you rose again, and today I put my faith in you, and I give you my life. In your name I pray, amen.