Levi Lusko - Don't Give Up the (Mother) Ship
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I want to begin with a question. And the question is, would you be willing to do something crazy if you knew it was a part of your calling? Don't answer that, just think about it. Would you be willing to do something deemed by people around you at large, and even in your own heart, that felt crazy if you knew it was a part of your calling? The truth is that as we look at history and we see pioneers that pop up, they oftentimes are dark horses who were deemed dumb by the, quote unquote, "experts". They were called crazy in their time. A few examples. On the screen is Theodore Geisel. Theodore Geisel had written a book. The book title was, I think, And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street. And he wanted to get his book published, and so he went to publishers, as one does. And the publishers read his book and said, eh. Your book's stupid.
In fact, literally one of the letters back he said, your book is rubbish. Your book is rubbish. And he kept trying. His book was rejected by publishers 27 times. The pluck it took for this man to continue to submit his manuscript to the publishers who were telling him, you're crazy, you're not an author, go back to whatever it is you used to do. And he unbelievably kept turning it in. And it's a good thing he did because Dr. Seuss has done all right for himself. Seuss is his middle name. Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss, has sold 500 million copies of his books. He ties with JK Rowling as the ninth most successful author in all of history. This is just unbelievable to even fathom that there were publishers who called his books, quote, "pure rubbish".
Interestingly enough, when he graduated from college, his classmates voted him least likely to succeed. I'm sure there has been a chuckle or two exchanged by whoever is collecting those royalty checks about the fact that, Oh, The Places You'll Go has been certified the number one most given graduation gift in human history. Least likely to succeed. Who's laughing now? How about this fellow? Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison, we all know he figured out 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb, right? We get it. We've seen it on Pinterest. Very inspiring. Very exciting. Proof of concept, though, the light bulb is done. He finally cracked the code and has invented a light bulb. Well, guess what the experts thought about it? A British Parliament committee note from 1878 said, and I quote, "Edison's light bulb is good enough for our transatlantic friends in America, but unworthy of the attention of practical scientific men". The light bulb. No use to real serious scientific folks.
And then there's Henry Ford. Henry Ford, of course, we know, he didn't invent the automobile, but sought to bring it to the masses. He kind of came up with the Walmart version of the automobile. And in 1899, this is what he was up against, though. You have to understand what he was up against that caused him to say, I don't ask people what they think. If I asked people what they want, they would tell me a faster horse. I'm giving them what they don't know they need. And what he was up against in his day was 1899 Literary Digest Magazine published this quote on the automobile. "The horseless carriage" is what they called it. The horseless carriage is a luxury for the wealthy. And although its price is surely to fall in the future, it will never, of course, become as common as the bicycle. The automobile.
How about Wilbur Wright? We know the story of what happened at Kitty Hawk. Orville and Wilbur Wright, these two boys who refused to stay on the ground. They were willing to fly in the face of the fact that so many people were telling them they shouldn't or that they couldn't or that they can't. They were told stuff like, if God wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings. Their own dad, who was a pastor, said, and I quote, "boys, men will never fly because God has reserved flying for the angels". And yet they pushed through and tried it again and tried again and tried again. And they failed so many times, this is not commonly known. Even Wilbur Wright, who knew they were going to succeed, didn't think that they would for about 50 years of trying. He thought it would take them 50 more years to get it right. In 1901, he was quoted as saying, "we're going to get there, but it will take us 50 years to do so".
Well, it did not take them 50 years. Two years later, December 17, 1903, they flew 100 feet. And the world has never been the same. And you would think the whole world was like, yay, good job, you, for doing this. No. In fact, again, the experts thought it was crazy. In 1911, this man, Ferdinand Foch, French general, the Allied Commander during World War I said, and I quote, "airplanes are interesting toys, but are of no military value". We'll just let that sit there Ferdinand, all right? No military value? And then there's, of course, Walt Disney. Walt Disney, who was fired by the Kansas City Star newspaper, look at this. Look at this, for not being creative enough. Yeah, really a dud when it comes to imagination that one, right? He was fired for not being creative enough. Well, Disney had the last laugh.
In 1977, ABC purchased the Kansas City Star newspaper. And as some of you know, like everything else in the world, the Kansas City Star was now property of Disney. Because ABC is a part of Disney's clutches. I mean, portfolio, right? All right, so what's the moral of the story? Here's an organizing quote for this message. Never forget, ladies and gentlemen, amateurs built the ark, but professionals built the Titanic. Amateurs built the ark, but it was the professional experts, the real scientific folk who engineered the ship that God couldn't sink. Today, we are going to look at someone who, by faith, pioneered in many different ways, including, as it happens, in building the ark. We're going to meet the amateur who did so. His name is Noah, and this is his story. Hebrews 11:7, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith". "Don't give up the ship".
These were the immortal dying words of Captain James Lawrence of the United States Navy during the war when Britain couldn't get the memo. The War of 1812, where they hadn't learned their lessons, so they attacked us a second time. Well, there was, of course, so much happening in naval battles in that era, and James Lawrence was the captain of a ship called the USS Chesapeake. And in the Boston Harbor, he went up against the HMS Shannon. And he and his men lost. And the ship was about to be taken. He was mortally wounded and being taken down below deck to be given aid by his men. And his final words that he spoke to his men before being taken down below deck was those words, "don't give up the ship". Don't give up the ship. These words that came out of his mouth were his way of saying, keep fighting till you die. Come on. Keep firing the cannons. Keep going. No matter what you must do, don't give up the ship.
That was commander's intent as he passed off into eternity. Well, just moments after he died, his men in fact did give up the ship. And both they and their vessel were taken captive by the British to their headquarters for the War of 1812 in Nova Scotia, Fairfax, to be precise where they were in captivity until the war ended just a few years later. But word spread of Laurence's fateful last words. Now I've talked to our team more about that exact phrase and his exact story. And the reason I have that flag that you saw a moment ago up on the wall in my office is as a cautionary tale to me on to not be the kind of leader that he was that ended up with this story happening as it did. But I love the life that the phrase took on. The phrase became bigger than the sum of its parts because Lawrence's good friend, Commodore Perry, heard about it. And Commodore Perry kind of used it as a rally cry. He asked someone, could you sew it onto a flag? And when he went up against an entire British squadron on Lake Erie, he raised these colors up to the top of his mast.
Don't give up the ship. It became the sort of rally cry to his men and to everybody around them. And he became the first person in US Naval history to ever defeat an entire British squadron by himself. So he was a tactician. He was a genius. He was amazing. And these words have just gone down into the heartbeat of the US Navy. In fact, if you visit the US Navy Academy, that exact flag that hung at the top of Commodore Perry's mast, don't give up the ship, is there on the wall, as it has been since 1849. But I want to borrow and I want to (for our purposes today) amend what it reads on that flag.
Don't give up the ship. And I wanted to preach to you a message that I'm calling, Don't Give Up the (Mother) ship. Come on, moms. Don't Give Up the (Mother) ship. And what could be more appropriate than a message title inspired by an instruction that was completely ignored by those who heard it? Hello, moms. Isn't that just a glimpse into the life, is anyone listening to me? Those under his authority did not listen to a word he said. They immediately zigged when they should have zagged. A mother ship is a large vessel, if you look it up in the dictionary, a large vessel that serves smaller vessels. One of the phrases you'll hear in Star Wars movies is, how are these little fighters out here? They can't be out here in space so far on their own. They're not. There's a Death Star. They're not. There's a giant cruiser. They're not. There's a bigger ship out there. There's a... what's the word? Mother ship out here.
Where you see little ships, there's probably a big ship. The origin of the phrase came, interestingly enough, from the days of whaling. If you've seen Avatar The Way Of Water, you see the scene of trying to get this big old sea creature, and there's a big boat. And then they're using the little ones to go kind of around. And of course, they're all being supported. None of those little dinghies could be out there so far unassisted. They need the big ship to be safe on the giant ocean waves. They need the big ship to have enough fuel for them. They come and go on their various missions supported and strengthened by the mother ship. Mom, you have such a vital role in your home. You have such a vital role in this world. Such a vital and appreciated and needed role in the body of Christ. To give support, to give fuel, to give safety to many in the waves of this world.
Is not our own Savior, Jesus Christ, famous for using the love of a mother to describe the love that he has for us? "I would long to gather you under my wings like a mother hen gathers her chicks". When He wanted to just get across for us the emotion of his love, He chose the love of a mother who takes care of her little baby chicks. And you even see them at this time of year, you see the geese out there. They have the big vessel and the little babies following the mother ship. They come and go from the safety of the mother ship. I love that. Noah did many things right. And much has been said, and I've preached much on the flood, I'm not preaching about the flood today. I'm not preaching about the ark, and was it impossible. I've done that before.
Today, because we're in Hebrews in this pioneer series, we're talking about faith today. We're going to talk about Hebrews faith today. And I want to show you that all those other things, all the ark stuff, all the huge stuff, all his accomplishments, all of the little things he did that are so amazing that we could easily go down the rabbit trail of focusing on, they were all those little boats made possible by the mother ship. What was Noah's large vessel that allows all of the details of his story to be real, to survive the ocean, to be there for us to learn from? I submit to you, Noah's mother ship was worship. Worship is the mother vessel. Worship is the mother ship. Let's read our text one more time. Look at it. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved", here it is, "with godly fear".
The fear of God. Being so in awe of who God is, being so blown away by what God has done that all you want to do is to live to bring him praise. That all you want to do is to live to please Him. That you, in your heart and in your mind, everybody else has nickels, but God's got $100 bill in what He has to say. His words just weigh more. He's a consuming fire to you. There's no sense of flippancy. There's no trite. There's no glib. There's no, oh, yeah. Well, you know, God's got it. It's in God's hands. When we say that, we're like no, no, no, no. It's in God's hands now. The sense and the gravitas and the weight. Noah moved with godly fear. And then all the things, did you see them? All the things flowed out of that. He prepared an ark, his household got saved, he the world, he got to preach, he got to be an heir of righteousness. But you see what I'm saying? It's all, look at the last phrase in the text one more time, which is "according to faith". It's like what Jesus said. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. And all these other things get to get fuel from the mother ship.
Where am I going to eat? Where am I going to go to college? How am I going to pay the bills? All these things. Jesus said, the Gentiles seek after those things. Who's the most famous? Who gets the best seat at the party? He said, you can't add one inch to your height or change one color of your hair from gray to black by worrying about it. So don't focus on the things that everybody else in this world are clamoring after. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And all these other things get to be fueled by the mother ship. Trust in the Lord, the wisest man who ever lived once said, with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, worship Him, acknowledge Him, fear Him. And what will He do? Take care of all the other little boats. "Make your path straight" is the direct quote from Proverbs 3:5-6, which I was just paraphrasing.
Noah, here's my sermon in a sentence, did what people could see because he believed what he couldn't see. The mother ship was faith. The mother ship was worship. How does someone do something so crazy, preposterously crazy, end up in the Bible crazy? He did so by faith. He pioneered by faith. And so can you. Genesis 6 says, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". That's a big deal. Because that's the first use of the word grace in the entire scripture. The first time grace, by the way, there's something called the rule of first mentions. So any time anything shows up for the first time, it's significant and there will be many callbacks to it in scripture. And so something as big as grace, hello. What's grace? It's been said, it's God's riches at Christ's expense. God lavishly giving to you what you don't deserve because Jesus dealt with what He didn't deserve, i.e. the wrath of God and the consequences for sin.
So Noah got grace. How did he get grace? The same way anybody gets grace, through Jesus. But hold on, Jesus hadn't come yet. Ah. But He's the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. So by credit, God could save people the same way you and I are saved looking backwards at the cross. Only they were looking forwards at the cross because God sees the end from the beginning. And He always is able to do what He sets out to do. So Noah got grace because he believed. Noah got grace because he had faith. Noah got grace, as we have said throughout this series, because the just shall live by faith. And so Noah pioneered by faith in obtaining God's grace. He also is the first person ever, the word righteous is used in scripture to describe. Sort of a big deal. Oh, and how about this one? The first thing he did when the flood was over, and a year later, he got to come out of the ark. And you know those boys came hot out of that ark. They were... We are cooped up. We have been in here for a hot minute. We are out of here, right?
And what happened, Noah, Genesis 8:20, first thing he did on the first day coming out of the ark. What did he do? What did he do? He built an altar. This is the first use of the word altar in all of the Bible. Altar is synonymous with devotions. You have two things. You have gathering together as God's people, the assembly. And you have individual seeking of God, that's building an altar. So translation, Noah had quiet time and family devotions the moment they got off the ark. All right. Now, why did I say, if he can do it, so can you? Here's why. Because Noah lived during a time of darkness unimaginable to us. Unimaginable. That is literally the best way I can theologically describe the day he lived in. Because Genesis 6:5 says, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually".
I know we love to talk about, no one's known troubles like I've known. No one's seen such a dark world as I've seen. But to think that there was nothing as God looked at the world, except for in this one family, there was nothing but evil continually. There was nothing but evil only. All they ever did was imagine new acts of wickedness to turn from God. And yet, Noah, in this darkness, shined bright. And he did so by faith. And out of that mother vessel of worship came all the other ships, all the other boats. And what are they? Well, I, through the text, jotted these down. There's workmanship supported by his worship boat was workmanship. Workmanship is what you do with your hands, what you actually build. And by the way, God wants you to see what you do with your hands, mechanic. What you do with your hands, nurse. What you do with your hands, PE teacher. What you do with your hands, doing laundry professionally at a dry cleaner, to see that as worship.
To see whatever you do, doing it unto God. You are his workmanship, Ephesians 2:10, "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should", what, "walk in them". So God's got a plan. It's a vocational calling. It's a relational calling. It's an evangelistic calling. It's a spiritual gift component to it, how you serve within the church. But what you do out in the world, rubbing shoulders with people with your hands, God wants to use that. So that's to come out of, to be supported by. Seek ye first the worship. And the other boats, now including the workmanship, come out of that. And Noah's calling from God was to build a really big boat. We're going to need a bigger boat. And Noah's was like, all right, check. First question. What's a boat? The answer is, yes, God. FYI. So now what's the question. Guys, I have a question for you. Yep. Well, it's going to rain. Awesome, love it. What's rain? Noah lived 100 miles from the nearest ocean.
And so far as we can tell from the Genesis account, it had never rained before in the history of the world. God caused sort of a mist to come up from the ground that rained on everything. Sort of like through misting. It was like a giant greenhouse. And there's lots of theories about why the Earth was so warm and uniformly warm. And why the moment the flood ended, life expectancy went down. It could be we were protected from a lot of the UV rays. It was sort of like this cosmic sunscreen around the world that made it all tropical and wonderful and warm and balmy. Sounds terrific, by the way. And always Christmas but never winter for everybody. And then the moment the flood ended, you have life expectancy dropping. So that's all very, very interesting. Not super pertinent. But to me, I find it fascinating that Noah, unprecedented, believed all things that God spoke to him despite the fact that it sounded nutty.
What is the first thing you do when someone says it's going to rain tomorrow? You nod your head and you slyly check. You nod your head and you slyly check. It's interesting you say that. I bet you I know something you don't know. My Google might know more than you. What is that about us? We cannot help but constantly fact check. We shouldn't have Google. It's a problem. Interesting. Oh, interesting. It is going to rain today. And now all of a sudden, OK, I believe you. You before were a liar, but now you're not because my Google says the same thing that your Google says. God told Noah it's going to rain, and Noah started building a boat.
Hebrews 11, by faith, in The Message translation, he "built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn't see, and acted on what he was told". He took God at His Word. Why? Because he was using, in the right way, what everybody else in the world was using in the wrong way, imagination. They were using their imagination to create evil. He was using imagination to see as fact what God spoke as promise. Faith is what our hope stands on. And Noah stood up on imagination and pictured what seemed impossible, what seemed unlikely, what seemed inconceivable. And through worship, his workmanship came to pass. Second boat served by the mother ship is stewardship. Stewardship. Stewardship is how we conduct ourselves with all that we have, all that we are, all that we contain, and money, and in opportunity. Everything that's ours, every breath that we have, if we do so as those who will give an account one day, that's called stewardship. The opposite of stewardship is embezzlement. It's pretending that something is yours when it's not.
And the Bible says, you are not your own. You were bought at a price. The price is the blood of Jesus. And when we stand before God to give an account, He's going to ask us, what did you do with what I entrusted to you for a season called your life? Did you use it according to My mind? Like imagine if you found a stockbroker and you're like, can you invest $1,000 for me? And they're like, super, super can. Total yes. And then they went to Las Vegas for the weekend and bought a hotel room and bought room service. And then a year later, you said, how are my investments doing? And they said, well, as it turns out, I sort of spent it on me. You would say, that wasn't what I had in mind when I gave you what was mine. That will be, for some of us, what it's like to stand before God and give an account for what we did while we were in the body. Because we didn't prioritize His Kingdom.
We prioritized ourselves. It will be a hard conversation. But not so with Noah. From what we can tell, from the moment God spoke to him about the impossible plan, he spent every waking hour for the rest of his life doing so until it was done. To build a boat that's longer than a football field, 75 feet wide, as tall as a four-story building. And as best as I can tell, still to this day, its dimensions have not been beaten by modern oceangoing vessels. Figures. God knew something about pioneering the building of a boat. A six-to-one ratio. It had the cargo capacity of 522 railroad cars. It's unbelievable. And he had to take along everything he needed, not only for him and his family, but for all the animals that were needed. The whole deal. So what did he do? He had to get trees. He had to use resources. He had to finance this project somehow. But he did so with a sense of stewardship to live out his crazy calling that God had put on his life that made no sense to other people around him.
Oh, and by the way, in his spare time, apparently, he was a preacher. Because the scripture in II Peter 2:5 calls him "a preacher of righteousness". And it would seem, for the 120 years it took him, yes, that's what I said, to build this boat, he also was preaching and telling all the people in the world, who are only using their imagination for evil, that the danger was coming. That wrath was coming and that they could be saved if they would trust in Jesus, like he had. And this, of course, is a part of the larger scope of God waiting the full 969 years of Methuselah's life from when the prophecy of the flood coming was given to Enoch. And God waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting too long, waiting too long, waiting too long, waiting too long. But why God, why? Why God, why are you waiting so long?
II Peter 3:9, because "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness". He didn't get lost on the way to coming back to this world. But He is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance". And Noah gave every breath he had until the day the ark's door closed, which it was closed by God's hand. It was so big there was no way Noah could physically close that door. And God told me to tell somebody, it's not your problem. If God told you to do something, you go, but I can't build a door this big. How will I ever be able to shut it? I can't launch this thing. How will I ever be able to do it? I can't sing this song. How will I ever be able to sing it? If God told you to do it and you are thinking of objections, that's not your problem. You do what He called you to do. You let Him deal with shutting that door.
He, when He is good and ready, will shut the door. I'm afraid there's some people who have been kept back from their callings because of what you don't know. But if you knew everything, you wouldn't need faith. So pioneer anyway, and let God shut the door. Come on. Where are my faith-filled people at on this Sunday morning? He condemned the world, the Bible says, Hebrews 11. The only part of the text I really had to puzzle over this week was, He condemned the world. Because that doesn't seem Christlike. It doesn't seem Noah-like. He seemed like a super nice guy. I don't see him out there, saying, you're all going to burn, well, drown. You're all going to hell. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I don't think Noah stood up with the message of hellfire and brimstone. He's the first person we're ever told obtained grace.
So I'm pretty sure he preached grace. I'm pretty sure he preached anybody can come. This is a big old door, big enough for elephants, it's big enough for your bohiney. You can get up in here. I think condemnation was how they took it because his message pricked their conscience. Didn't the author of John's gospel say that light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil? You know how you feel when the lights come on in the movie theater at the end of the movie, and you're like, got to get out of here. You were so comfortable eating all your Milk Duds. It was like your little home, your little womb. It was dark. But the light came on, now you're like, I feel dirty. I feel wrong. What have I done? The light shows and exposes the bad decisions.
And so the light came on. And so they didn't like how they felt when Noah preached, when Noah lived the way he lived, when he used his imagination like they could have for the benefit of others, not just for themselves, for the gratification of their flesh. And so their response was to lash out at Noah, which leads us to our third ship Noah navigated well, which is hardship. Y'all, you had best have you some worship if you're not going to be destroyed by your hardship. Noah, for 120 years, would have been jeered at, would have been laughed at, would have been mocked at, would have had thrown stones thrown at him. There would have been people who were cruel to him. Because what he was doing seemed absurd. But it also made them feel guilty because they were being convicted by the Holy Spirit.
And so their response, instead of giving in to the conviction, was to try and stop the source of conviction. And if they could shut that light bulb out, they might feel better about their scientific minds. Because men were not meant to fly. And clearly, the light bulb is stupid, and you're not creative, Walt Disney. Well, Mickey Mouse says something different. Anybody with me on that one? It would have stung for him. It would have hurt for him to face this. So how did he get through his hardship? And how are you going to get through yours? You must listen to what people say about you, but believe what God says about you. Hear me. Noah is the first person ever in the Bible described by God's lips as righteous. But hear me. Living righteous will open you up to ridicule. So you need to turn the volume up on what God says about you. And la, la, la, la. I can't hear you, when people speak about you. Because as Paul put it, you cannot please God and men at the same time. You cannot please God and your mother-in-law at the same time. You cannot please God and Facebook at the same time.
So we have got to decide, once and for all, whose opinion weighs the most. Whose opinion matters most? I'm not saying be rude to people. I'm saying be courteous to people, honor people, smile and wave, like the penguins of Madagascar taught us, to people. But let God's words over your life matter the most. You are not going to die and stand before an Instagram panel to be judged. You are standing by Jesus Christ with his nail-pierced hands who said, I gave everything to get you here. Are you going to care more about what's popular? Are you going to care more about what's comfortable, about what's normal? Or are you going to live a crazy life in the eyes of people to live out the calling that I put on your life when I dreamed you up before the foundation of the world? Noah handled hardship because of his worship. And you can too. And wisdom is justified by its children.
What he did made no sense until five minutes after it started raining. What he did made no sense until the floods came. And then everybody thought that he was the smartest man around. Fourth and finally, and we're done. Noah and his leadership. Leadership. Lots of different things I could wax on about. But the most impressive to me is the way Noah led the way that you need to lead in your own home, Mom. In your own home, Dad. In your own home, Son. In your own home, Daughter. If ministry doesn't begin at home, it quite frankly doesn't matter anywhere else it goes. It has been said commonly, and you find it in commentaries, and you know the thing about commentaries, they're books about the Bible, some taters are more common than others, all right? One of the things that people love to say about Noah is he preached for 120 years with not one single convert.
So don't give up. I beg to differ. He had seven converts. Three sons, three daughters-in-law, and his wife got in that boat. And that is the most impressive, to me, of any ministry anybody could ever do. Those who knew him the closest and the best got in the boat at his invitation. Those who knew him the most and the best, they were willing to. They had a choice. They didn't have to believe. They didn't have to get on that ark. They could have scorned him. They could have joined the crowd. They could have done the popular thing. But they listened to their father. So that tells me that Noah might have preached good sermons, but he lived an even better life. And his life, in a larger sense, really showcases something that we should all be gathered around today on this day, Mother's Day, the power of legacy. Because Noah stood on the shoulders of genius. It's been said, if you don't recognize who came before you, you could have been born on third base, but think you hit a triple. Noah hit a triple in his own life, in his own right.
But let me tell you something. He was also, in a very real sense, born on third base. Having had as a grandfather an amazing man of God named Enoch who walked with God. He had a tremendous father, Methuselah, who, best as we can tell, walked with God. And Noah received that legacy as they pointed him to board the ark. And he lived out that legacy pointing his wife, pointing his sons, pointing his daughters-in-law to board the ark. Never underestimate the power of a Christian testimony to touch a family. The gospel always seeks to infiltrate the household before it goes anywhere else. In fact, I could even say it to this, I don't know. I've been wrestling with God about saying it. But I'm just going to do it. If you are a Christian and you have friends and family close to you who you have not sought the chance to share your faith with, have not attempted to bring them along to board the ark with you, you are outside of God's will.
If you can think of one person close to you who you have not sat down with over coffee and explained why you gave your life to Jesus, and giving them at least a space and time, a hear me out kind of moment, you're not in God's will. Because it is not His will that any should perish. And the mechanism for salvation is to one another's. So if we, each of us, are happy just to go to church every Sunday and get our little blessing, go our way without seeing church as a rescue mission, that evangelistic opportunity, every time you hear that invitation, if you think of one person in your life who could be sitting beside you, but you didn't take that step of faith because you... what are they going to say to me? Oh, I can't. I go to Fresh Life. I go to the... I get. I get it. I get it. OK, we've all been there. I'm a leader here. I understand better than most. And eventually, we just sort of back it off. And the COVID energy, and it's going to devolve into some mask or no mask, vax or no vax. Which side are you? You know what? I'm telling you something. This is a blood issue.
This is a Jesus issue. This is a salvation issue. This is a heaven issue. And if we let any of these lesser distractions keep us back from the confidence that we need to point to the heavens and say, the sky is falling, death is coming. There's heaven, there's hell. And the only way to be saved is death. Death? Yeah, do you know that the word "ark" is an Egyptian word for coffin? Six-to-one ratio. It was a coffin. It had no steering wheel, it had no rudder. Getting in this thing, it stopped when God said stop. Where did the ark rest? When God decided the ride was over. It's a picture of dying to board the ark. You can't be saved except through death. The death of Jesus on the cross for you. To board the ark, to open up your life to a life following Christ is to give up control. There is no rudder. There is no steering wheel. It's in His hands.
So we must choose to either board the ark by faith, not like, well, what about... what about... what about... look, that's not your problem. You're going to die though. And Someone stepped in front of that bullet. What are you going to do about it? And are we willing to be uncomfortable enough, church, to be that invitational, invite everybody, bring somebody, I just am so excited to know Jesus. I want to tell you about it. Regardless of the blowback and the pushback and the demonic attack. And just to continue to be in people's lives in a loving way for the long haul. And believe that God will use our faithfulness over time. There are two questions I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to ask you as we close this message. The first question is, who holds your house? I love the word household. Household. Household. Household. Who holds your house? What holds your house? Does money hold your house? Do grades hold your house? Does getting a bigger house hold your house? Does cleanliness hold your house? Does control and comfort hold your house? Or does God hold your house?
Second question, what does your house hold? What crazy, God-sized, we can fly like the angels, sing like the bees, create like Disney. What does your house hold? And how can you foster faith to do crazy things following your Savior for you and your kids? Who holds your house? What does your house hold? Noah was called a perfect man. Think about that. Now, if you read Genesis 6, you're going to be confused. If you read Genesis 7, and 8, and 9, and 10, you're going to be perplexed. Because you're going to see a man who imperfectly followed God. Imperfect could be his biography. In fact, the final story in Noah's life involved him so drunk he passed out naked. He had bad days, like you do. He struggled with sins, like you do. Be a perfect man, because when God saw him, He didn't see any of those imperfections or sins. He only saw Jesus, because he was in the ark, in Christ. You were saved from the flood if you were in the ark. You died in the flood if you were not in the ark.
The Bible says, if he does not have the Son, he does not have life. I John 5:12. But if you have the Son, you have life. It's as simple as that. Noah was seen as perfect because in God's eyes, salvation is an either/or issue. Either you are in Christ or out of Christ, in the ark or out of the ark, in control or under God's control. And up until the moment the flood came, what were people doing? Matthew 24. "Before the great flood, everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark". They were in grave danger, they just couldn't see it yet. Let's end where we began, with Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss. What was he doing the day his manuscript finally got accepted by a publisher? He was walking down Madison Avenue in New York City on his way to burn his book. He was way ahead of the times. Haven't been canceled lately, figured I'd give it a try. I hear they're giving out punch cards, and the sixth one's free, so I'm excited about that. The amazing story is true. He had given up hope. The book will not be published.
So he was on his way, physically holding his manuscript to burn it when he bumped into on the street a fellow Dartmouth grad named Mike McClintock. Who he wasn't really friends with, but they knew each other. Mike, in fact, voted him least likely to succeed in the election. Mike said, what are you doing? I'm actually on the way to burn my book. Burn your book? What? I've tried 27 times. It's just, no, I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. Mike said, you're not going to believe this. Three hours ago, I just got hired at a publisher. What's your book about? He said, it's a children's book. He said I just got hired as the head of a children's publisher.
Let's go sit down. And that, as they say, is how the cookie crumbled. Dr. Seuss liked to say in interviews that had he been walking on the other side of Madison Avenue that day, he would be a dry cleaner and not an author at this moment. And no shade on dry cleaners. God wants you to use your workmanship. But a chance encounter changed his life. I tell you that to ask you this question. Is it possible that you and I being here having this conversation at this moment is not a chance encounter for you? That God drew you here? Oh, I know you came because your mom wanted you to. You came because your wife wanted to. You're here because you clicked the link on Facebook. But is it possible that we're sitting here on this side of Madison Avenue just going, hey, this is crazy, but I believe God loves you?
I believe God has a plan for you. And there's this big old coffin that Christ died in. It's an ark. It's made out of gopher wood, which by the way, in that day was what they made coffins out of. Christ died for you. He died as though He were you so that every sin you ever committed could be forgiven, and so that you could walk out a God-sized calling. I'm not painting a rosy picture. It's going to be hard. In fact, the more God does through you, the more the enemy will throw at you. But Heaven's at the end of it all. And in the middle, we have His Spirit, we have His people, we have His Word.
So Father, we thank You now for this moment. What I believe to be the divine encounter that for someone, we're going to get a letter, someone's going to tell us, this was this was an appointment. Every word I've been speaking felt like it was directed straight to their situation, even down to some very weird, bizarre details that they can't quite even get their head around at this moment. But we are aware, Father, that You are working in the world. That's why Jesus hasn't come back yet. That's why the end hasn't come, because You are such a patient God. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It is not Your will that any should perish.
Don't hear this flood story and go, oh, that's just what I thought God's like all along. No, no. That's the inevitable result of darkness and sin. God's holding it back. God's holding back judgment because He wants the rainbow of His grace to shine over your life as you build your altar to him. But it starts with you trusting Christ. It starts with you taking the faith to do something crazy and get aboard that ark. Saying as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. If that's you I'm describing, and you would say, Levi, I want to open up my heart to Christ, I'm going to let Jesus shut the door on His way in. I just feel God just right now doing such a powerful work. We just thank you, Lord. If that's you I'm describing, say this with me. It's a simple prayer, but it's powerful to save:
Dear God, I can't fix myself, can't change my life. But I believe You can because of Jesus. So I trust You. I put my faith in You. The cross, the resurrection, these are my confidence. Thank You for new life. I give You mine.