Leon Fontaine - A Volunteer Spirit
The Bible says in Proverbs 2:8, "God protects the paths those who pursue Him. He watches over the lives of those who keep faith with Him". And Sal and I have to say that is so true. The call of God is upon each of us. There's so many books that talked about your unique skills, your unique giftings, and what you're going to do with your life, and where you're going to go, and what a... just throw that all away. I just think that's caused more distress to Christians than I've ever heard. What's my call? What am I meant? What's my anointing? Where am I going to go? What should I do? Am I called? Am I called there? What if God's... Just quit and just say, "Your call is to follow Jesus". Is to follow Jesus.
Stop worrying about what great things you're going to do with your life because even that says that him who desires to be great is to be the servant of all. You'll never miss what God has called you to do, if you just make a decision to serve people. Carrie Chapman Catt says this, she goes, "Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture in life". So many think that it's their career's going to make them happy. Finding out their giftings and using it is going to make them happy. Fulfilling themselves where they're supposed to be. I'm supposed to be with the mic. I'm supposed to make the whole world sing.
I don't know anybody that keep that as their goal that today is happy. Their lives end up on a junk heap if they don't make a decision. I follow Jesus and I serve people. And wherever God wants you to the heights of business or Hollywood or to the complete unknown. None of it will matter, if you follow Jesus. In Luke 6:31, it's kind of cool how, it tells what it's like this heart of a volunteer because that's what I want to talk about. You see, some beautiful things were said about Sally and I. It's awkward. I know. Thank you. But it's just so awkward listening to that because we feel like a couple of turtles on a fence post. You never got there on your own. That's for sure. And the more that we see happen and the greater things go and we just look around and we just see nothing but beautiful, amazing, wonderful people serving and loving and laughing and it's just something about their heart.
This is what the heart of a volunteer is, listen to this. In Luke 6:31 in the Message Bible it says, "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a miracle or a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never, I promise, regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind. You be kind".
People often wonder what great title or position they can hold in church. I always tell them that, you know, it's got nothing to do with position. Ever notice that when you clean your house at home there's no positions? I have a mom. Everyone just pitches in. It's family. When you hear the word offerings in the Old Testament like all these peace-offerings, offerings for water, offerings, there's different kinds of offerings. It literally means freewill. You see, we all have a freewill. God will never force you to do anything. You get to believe what you want, act out what you want, live how you want. But you're going to get the, what goes with your beliefs and your actions. You can't get away from that. But if you choose to have a volunteer's heart and it's something that you choose to do.
Do you know Jesus was a volunteer? Jesus said in John, He said, "Nobody takes my life. I give it. I have the authority to lay it down. I got the authority to lift it up. I lay it down freely". That's a heart of a volunteer. Mother Teresa says, "Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough. Money can be got but they need your hearts to love them. So spread your love everywhere you go". A Greek Proverbs says, "A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit". I firmly believe that all of us are building something. We're building people and buildings or just where it's at, and when we're gone that every generation will rise up and take the technology and the buildings to wherever it needs to go. I don't just think about in my lifetime.
Did you know, that king David when he was just a boy, there's an incredible story that everybody knows about him killing Goliath. But we missed kind of interesting part of the story. It says he was bringing cheese and bread to his brothers. Why was he doing that? Because did you know that to be in the Israeli army, you volunteered. You're never paid. And not only did you volunteer. They didn't feed you. Your family came and fed you. And the young David as a teenage boy in the backside of the wilderness looking after the sheep. His job was to gather the food together as his mom and dad would put together and they get it to the battle scene, and they get it to his brothers, so they had sustenance. Why? Because to be a soldier in Israeli army was to be a volunteer.
It's an incredible story in 1 Chronicles 12:18, as David grew up and he wasn't king yet. He was actually running for his life from an evil king. That a group of thirty men who were stunning fighters. They later became his mighty men. But at this point, they were kind of criminals, crooks, you know. So in 1 Chronicles 12:18 it says they came to David and David met them and he say, "Woo, if you're here to turn me over to my enemies. If you're here to do anything other than", he says, "God's going to deal with you". It's kind of cool because Amasai, it says, verse 18, "Then the Spirit entered and came upon Amasai, the leader, the chief of this thirty mighty men and they said, 'We belong to you. We are with you, son of Jesse. Success, success, peace and prosperity to you. Success, peace to those who help you because your God helps you".
So David welcomed, received these men. They became leaders and captains and fighters and raiders. You see, it just requires leadership. But leaders are just people, okay? They can't do anything by themselves. And so God gives the same vision to everyone. Notice that when these thirty mighty men came, and they want to check out David. The presence of God hit them. And he spoke as a very prophet of God, as a spokesman of God. You see, this vision for Springs and what we've done and where were going. It's not my vision. It's not Sally's vision. It's not a Fontaine vision. We just happened to be these leaders that kind of showed up. But He gave everyone of you a vision.
This is where I connect. This is where I need to be. This is where I'm going to labor. This is where I'm going to give. This is where I'm going to roll up my sleeves because this is the culture. This is the spirit that I want to be a part of. Peter Abelard says, "God consider not the actions that you do, but the spirit that you do it with". Edith Draper says, "Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways to do it. But where it's unwilling, it will find a thousand excuses". Florence Luscomb said, "There is no end to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit".
I look around at people and, you know, encouragement is one of the greatest gifts I think there is. All of us need to be encouraged. But to be encouraged you've got to hang with people. You've got to get around people. You can't sit at home and expect you're going to be encouraged. You can't be a part of, not be a part of a team and go, "I'm just sitting here and hoping someone will encourage me". You will die there. Getting on to a team of volunteers. Getting to a church like this and say, "I'll hold the door. I'll park cars. I'll pick up garbage". It's no assignment of how valuable you are. At your house you do that. Why can't we do that at God's house?
The heart of a volunteer is precious. And we've learned, you know, to encourage. I've got encouragers. You know, sometimes I think like, I need to really start telling some problems because people think that my life is just tiptoeing through tulips and God has some kind of special anointing that I don't get down. I don't have any problems. I don't have issues. Are you kidding me? Man, I need encouragers. And the last 25 years, the only reason I'm standing here is because men and women encouraged me. They got up and picked up the load with me. They took over an entire department or ministry and they just showed me. I'll learn it as good as you, and I'll help you, and I'll pick up, and I'll lift your hands, and I'll go do this.
People would meet me in hallways when some seemed to know when things were down. I mean, the most amazing encourager in my life is my wife. Everybody thinks I married this cute little blonde. I got to tuck away back somewhere, and I dragged her all over the world. And they don't realize that warrior princess is kicking my butt, hugging my neck, and believing there's a whole ton more that we can do. Encouragers. Those are the things that encourage one another with. We roll up our sleeves. We say, "Hey, we can do this".
I look at people like my own kids. You know, my own kids encourage me. I always thought I'm going to have to encourage them. But I don't know how many times they would walk into my life and say, "Dad, that was awesome. You were so good here. Yeah, you'll fix this". But, you know, they're encouragers. I look at the staff. You know, staff can be hard because a lot of times you wreck a good volunteer when you hire them, because they lose the heart of the volunteer and they just become a paid staff member. But I thank God for staff that maintain the heart of a volunteer.
I look around at the pastors that are here. You know, you don't even know who the pastors are. You know, most of them don't preach on stage. You know where they are? They're on the trenches, the hospitals, the intensive cares, the homes with people who've committed suicide, and families that are broken. They're counseling with rapes and abuse and dealing with legal issues and all the stuff behind the scenes. It may take that entire load off Sal and I because we're going so hard directionally. And I look at men and women like that and I just thank God that they're there. That they're carrying the load. You see, the heart of a volunteer, it's volunteering. It's stepping up. It's greater.
Someone said to me, "How much do you expect from your volunteers? You can't really expect them to be on time. You can't expect them to not miss their shift". I said, "That's, you know, of course there will be some. But that's not the issue with the heart of a volunteer. Volunteers step up and when they step up, they go further and better and stronger because they don't have to be here. They chose to be here". I have the heart of a volunteer. I'll just tell you. I do. Sal and I have never stepped out and done anything that didn't scare us. Getting up and moving our family to Calgary while keeping this church going was just... Are you kidding me? Going to locations and building buildings. They'd say we don't have any money. We're going to raise millions. And, you know, all the things that go on from the death threats to the lies and the blogs and the constant barrage and the attacks and everything. I just finally recognize that I don't have the talent and I don't have the skill. So when God says, "Who's going to go away"? I just volunteered.
Isaiah 6:1-8, let me read this for you. It's about a prophet named Isaiah. Isaiah wrote a book named after him that literally prophesied of Jesus is coming and what He was going to do. I want to read to you his call or God saying, listen to this verse 1, "Holy, Holy, Holy! In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master, the Lord sitting on a throne high and exalted! The train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, because they shouldn't look in to the face of God. With two wings, they covered their feet, as a form of humility, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other, 'Holy, Holy, Holy is God of the Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth.' While the foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, then the whole house filled with smoke. And I said, this is Isaiah speaking, 'Doom! It's Doomsday! I'm as good as dead! Every word I've ever spoken is tainted blasphemous even! And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate. And I've looked God in the face'"!
In those days they all believed you looked God in the face that meant you're going to die. "The King! God of the Angel-Armies! Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said, 'Look. The coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out'".
You see, never does anybody feel like you're available and ready to do something for God. Here's Isaiah, one of the most incredible prophets and as soon as he sees and then God's kind of waken him up. He gets a look in to heaven and the throne room and angels and smoke and lights and all that's going on. And angels that are singing so powerfully, harmonically, that foundations are trembling. He knows he's not qualified. He knows he's not able. He knows he doesn't have the gifting. Listen, I did not say yes and say, "Okay, Sal, I will go do this and because we thought we could".
We just heard about an assignment from the presence of God and we stepped up and volunteered. Here it says, "The angels says to him, 'Your sins are wiped out'". And Isaiah says, "I heard the voice of the Master: 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' Isaiah says, 'I spoke up and I said, send me'"! This very guy that says, "I'm foul. I'm blasphemous. My word stink. I'm a sinner and all my friends are, too". He hears His call and he says, "All right. Send me if that's the case". He knows he's not qualified. He knows he's not capable. What are you going to do for the rest of your life? The call of God is on you. I don't care what job. I don't care what career. I don't care where you are. Everything that you do with your life. Don't ever forget that God is still calling, and He is saying, "Who will go for us"?
Now, you might say, "Well, God's going to make a way". No, He just made a call. Well, someone will. When God shows me how and when. When I've got the talent to do, I'm going to do it. You're never going to have the talent. I never have. He just said, "Who's going to go"? God's presence is still calling you today. He's not asking you if you can. He's not asking if you're clean enough. He's not asking if your life is pure enough. He's not asking if you've dealt with enough issues in your life. He just saying, "Hey, who's going to go? Who will I send"? And all Isaiah said from his complete feeling of uselessness and ungifting and everything else says, "Here I am. Send me".
That's what I want to say to you that there's no difference between me and you. I'm not this multi-gifted people think, that are you kidding me? I just hear calls at times. Half the time Sally hears Him first. But this is what we need to do next and we hear this and we just volunteer. And we know we're not, I don't know how we're going to do it. He better show up. He better give us the people, the talent, the artistic, the gifting. He better send us the money, the volun... He better. We'll just volunteer. And God, the rest is up to You.
I want to challenge you today. This is how Springs has gotten to where it is. And this is why I admire and love so much. All of you who roll up your sleeves and labor somewhere with us with the heart of a volunteer. But I want to say to the rest of you, you're going to be a directionless. You're never going to know the joy. You're never going to know the excitement of being on a team rolling up your sleeves and go, "I don't know but I'm volunteering. Put me where you want me". And that entire thing of picking up garbage and parking cars. Playing in a band or whatever gift you've got that can be used. Or you can just volunteers saying, "Well, where you're going to put a giftedless person"? That's why most of us volunteered. We'll find a spot and you'll discover that you are multi-gifted.
Let me say about serving God is exciting. Everyone wants to have a cute little Christian life where you can tiptoe through the tulips. I was watching a movie one time truth be told. And, you know, movies are cool because they always got music at the right spots and the speeches always written by somebody else. So, man, they can be dynamic. But I watched this part where the president or this general was speaking to some tough soldiers and he needed them to do an impossible task. And he said to them, "I need volunteers. And when you volunteer, I'm going to put you in harm's way". He said that line.
And of course, this incredible people volunteered. And something hit me, deep on the inside of me. God speaks to me at movies. Sorry. And I knew that I would never have to worry. You can only do something great when you take a chance. You can only do something great when you take a risk. And I knew then that everything's God got for us. He's going to put us in harm's way. Just a minute. Listen, listen. It doesn't mean that you're going to be some toasted little turkey that's going down fast, because He also says that this is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith. He also says I'll never leave you and I'll never forsake you and I'll take you through the storm. And you'll walk through the... Stop it. You're going to make it to the other side.
So it's not an admission of, "Oh, it's going to be hard". No, no, no, no, no. It's just that, hey, just being a pastor. I mean, death threats I've had. They burnt our house. We've had people trying to kill us, hostage taking, SWAT teams. But I haven't enough time to tell you the stories. Just being a pastor puts me in harm way. Just being my wife puts you in harm's way from talking, laughing, death threats. You name it. So yes! We're going to stand up. And it might say, "God, wants you to speak up at your job".
Well, it might lose your job. Well, please do it well. But if you do, it's for a pretty good reason. Or I might lose my friend if I speak up. Well then speak up with excellence and do it with incredible love and value the guy. But to say nothing because you might lose a friend or a contract. Get up! Yes, there will be times you're going to step into the harm's way or you're going to walk a path that might hurt, or it might take from you or it might not be comfortable.
But there's something about the heart of a volunteer that says eternity is forever. And if eternity is forever, if you haven't got there yet, I promise you. I've been by the bedside of probably a couple hundred people from being a paramedic to a pastor and I watched them die and I've spoken with them as they have. And I promise you, if it's not something that will rattle your cage and take up a little arrogant out of your life and go, "Life is short". And the world suddenly happens quickly. And so I want to make sure that my life counts for something. I don't mean that I'm doing and being great. I mean, just loving people, serving people, loving my wife, loving my kids, my spouse, my church, my friends. That's what I'm taking about. What are you doing?