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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - My Trauma Is Not My Template

Levi Lusko - My Trauma Is Not My Template

Levi Lusko - My Trauma Is Not My Template
TOPICS: Trauma, Behavior

You've chosen to not let your trauma be your template. And I said, I never thought about it that way, but I sure as heck am going to steal and preach that this weekend because that's exactly what these people have done. They have allowed their trauma to become their template. And the hard thing that happens, you don't trust any man because a man walked out on you. You don't trust anybody to come close to you because at one point in your life, you let someone get close to you, and it stung. You don't trust any left pockets because there was a left pocket at one point in your journey. How have you let your trauma become now your template, where you live in constant and chronic fear of the thing happening again to you? And if you do this long enough, you will become dysfunctional but comfortable in your dysfunction, because you're afraid of being disappointed in the future.

And I want us as we open our Bibles to bring the right emotional tone to our reading of the Book of Haggai. And the right tone for this book's impact to be felt in our hearts and lives would be the sensation you feel when you're stuck. Can you think of a time in your life when you just felt stuck? It's a terrible feeling. I remember one time in a snowstorm, I got off the road somehow in my own neighborhood and ended up in a little gully, in a little ditch. Like, I could see my house, but I was stuck. I was trying to get to work, could not do so because now I'm stuck, and I had to call a tow truck to get me out. No one was going by to pull me out, and so I called the tow truck. And they said, hey, I'm so sorry. Before we can come pull you out, the standard operating procedure, we have to call the police. And the police has to come and clear it to make sure you're not intoxicated, because apparently people end up in the ditch when they're drunk.

And so I have to sit there humiliated, waiting for a police officer to come be like, hey, where do you live? I'm like, right there. Where are you going? Church. And it's like, I could tell he was just kind of, how intoxicated? Right, maybe 7:40 in the morning. I'm not drunk at all. And so he clears me and then gives the go ahead and gives me the chance for the tow truck to pull me out it. I felt terrible. I couldn't move. I couldn't budge. I couldn't go anywhere. I was, what was I? We've all been there, and habits, stuck in a habit, stuck in a mindset, stuck in a toxic relationship, stuck in a financial pattern where you just you can't seem to get ahead, stuck in the claws of an addiction, stuck in grief, unable to seemingly move through the stages of grief to healing, stuck in unforgiveness, stuck in a job that feels like it's a dead end, stuck in bitterness or in progress towards some goal, whether it's getting healthy or getting your budget.

It just feels lousy to feel stuck, like you're not moving forward as a human being. And this perfectly prepares us for what's going on in the Book of Haggai in a message that I'm calling, "How's That Working Out for You"? How's that working out for you? I think that's a really important question to ask ourselves because we can get so trapped in what we're doing that we don't ever stop to ask ourself or consider, am I doing something that's moving me toward to where I want to go? How is that working out for you? And that really could be what you boil down the Book of Haggai to. There's a phrase that's repeated four times throughout the book, and it's some variation of, consider your ways. You know, it's possible to be so busy in your life that you never stop to consider what's going on with your life.

And I think one of, honestly, the most helpful things that comes in a weekly appointment with a sermon from God's word, whether you're in person or watching this online, is to be able to just sit down for a second and step back and just consider our ways. Because we're moving towards the end of our lives, and we should just stop to ask ourselves, how's that working out for you, that thing that you keep doing that you maybe feel stuck in? That's Haggai's favorite word. Consider. Consider. Consider. Consider. We find it in Haggai chapter 1, verse 5. Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. How's that working out for you? You've sown much. I see you doing a lot. But notice, you're bringing in little. You eat, but you don't have enough. You drink, but you're not filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages earns wages to put into a bag with holes.

That feel like your financial planning at the moment? It's like, I keep putting money into this account, but where does it all go? Right? There's a hole in the bottom of this bag. Have you ever actually had a hole in a pocket? I have a favorite pair of shorts. I call them my adventure shorts. Lennox and I have the exact same, I think it's from Father's Day, and she bought him a pair too, these matching Patagonia shorts. And somehow, I ended up with a pocket that had a hole in it. And more times than I care to admit, I put my phone in it to have it go "thunk" down the bottom on to the ground. And it really is an easy fix here, but I keep wearing them because I like them. And I went into a Patagonia store one time where I was in a city where they had one, and I've heard they have a very good repair policy.

And so I brought them in and said, hey, I hear you can repair stuff. And the guy, I mean, he was like, he acted like I had just put like a blood-stained cloth on the counter. He's like, oh, whoa, we don't touch bathing suits. I'm like, I realize it's technically a bathing suit, but it's shorts. I have a hole in the pocket of the shorts. And through his three masks, he was like, get that out of here. Get that out here. Get that out of here. I was like, yeah, but I hear you have a really good policy. No, no, no, we'll give you money. We'll give you new shorts. We'll give you, I'm don't want new shorts. I want these shorts. They match my son's shorts. He goes, there's tons of shorts over there on the wall. You can pretty well pick out a pair. I was like, no, no, no, you don't offer the ones with the alligators on them.

Lennox wants me to match with him when we wear our adventure shorts together. You don't understand. I'm in a club with my son. I want these shorts but without a hole in the pocket. He said, we can't help you. And you know, here's a funny thing. Daisy has a sewing machine. I bet you Daisy would sew them for me. Jennie knows how to sew. I could even try to sew them myself. I might die, but I could probably fix it. But I haven't. I just keep wearing them, but there's a solution. I never put stuff in my left pocket. I skew right, when things need to be pocketed. And I've noticed I will go to put my phone in my jeans left pocket, and I'll pull back like I've almost been bit by a snake or something. Oh, no, no, no, no. I've just learned to what? To live dysfunctionally. Dysfunctionally.

And that's what the children of Israel are doing. They've chosen dysfunction over the possibility of disappointment. They have had something fall through the pocket enough times that they've just chosen to start putting stuff in a different pocket because they've been disappointed before. Same thing as seen in Haggai 2, verse 16. When you hoped for a 20-bushel crop, you harvested only 10. When you expected to draw 50 gallons from the wine press, you found only 20. I sent blight and mildew and hail to destroy everything you worked so hard to produce. Even so, you refused to return to me, says the Lord. You're not getting the memo. I'm trying to get your attention. So He's saying, you're just choosing to live dysfunctionally, not at full capacity. You're living in a two-pocket world but only with one pocket.

I want to bless you, but you're not getting from life what you're meant to. You're limping along. So what He's saying, He's saying, hey, hey, hey, how's that working out for you? Now, a little context would probably be helpful. The year is 520 BC, and the Jewish people had come back to live in the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey in the year 536 BC. OK? So before zero, it goes down. Then when AD is at the end of it, Anno Domini, the year of our Lord, it goes back up. So 536, they come into the land, and now it's 520. So math experts, how long have they been in the land? 16 years. For 16 years, they've had one purpose, and that purpose, as Zerubbabel led the contingent to come into the promised land with 50,000 individuals, 50,000 Jews, who from Babylon said, yes, we will come with you, let's go back into the land with you, what are we going to do? Well, first and foremost, we're going to rebuild the temple.

Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC had, with his army, torn down the temple, stolen all the gold cups, all the gold candle wick trimmers, all of the gold utensils for the temple. Everything had been taken back to Babylon into his treasure vault. And along with it, he took the nation captive, and there they had been since 586 BC. But in 536 BC, a remnant, a contingent of 50,000 had been given approval to come back in to rebuild the temple. And they were very excited, as you can imagine, to be fulfilling prophecy going all the way back to Abraham, that God's going to in this land bless them. In this land, it would be a place where he would be worshiped. It would be in this land the Messiah would eventually come, so they were very excited. They had all that new year, new you energy. Right?

Brand new Peloton, going to get on this thing every day. You know? I can really feel this. This is the one, Marv. This is it, silver tuna tonight. They were so excited. And so what they did right away was they put an altar up. Have you ever bought bought a new lot with your family, and you're all excited you bought some land? You're like, we're going to build it. And you couldn't wait till the house was built, so you had to set up a tent and sleep there one night. You know? It's terrible, but it's just, we're just seeing all the potential, you know? That's what they did. They set up an altar where the altar would roughly go if they could ever get this thing built. And you see the joy. You see the worship. And they have sacrifices there, but then everybody else gets the altar out of the way, and let's actually build the foundation because literally it had been even torn down so there was no slab at all.

And so with the rocks, there they're building the slab. They're getting it all in place. And then the people around them who did not want God's people to prosper began causing problems. And then something even bigger happened. Cyrus, the Persian who had actually given them permission and funded this, and in order for the money to be in place for this to happen, he dies. And so everyone back around them realizes, hold on a second. With Cyrus dead, we have an opportunity here. They write back and say, has this all been authorized, this work that's being done? And now with Cyrus dead, there's some question, and so there's a court order that the work would stop. And it needs to be looked into as to whether this can happen.

And Darius, who's now in control of the Persian Empire, gives the order, yes, it's OK. The work may proceed, but it took a while for that to get sorted out. And they felt a little bit, you know, like you feel when you hit a setback, like you feel when you hit the first little bit of resistance on the way to this great new dream, this great new idea, this great new project, this great new way you're going to reform yourself. Oh, my gosh. Maybe it's not going to be as easy as I thought it was. Maybe not everybody in the world loves it for whatever reason. And so here's what's happened. It's been cleared up. The court order says, you may proceed. But 16 years has gone by, and there has been no progress. There's just a foundation and an altar. They are living dysfunctionally because here they are in the land, not making progress at the reason they are in the land. Why? Because they're once stung, twice shy.

I'm going to need to explain that. We had a worship night this week. It was awesome, pop-up worship night in Kalispell, the last of this little tour we did. It was amazing. And then the next morning, myself, my daughter Clover, my son Lennox, and I got on a plane at 5:00 in the morning. If anyone from Delta is listening, that's awful that you would have that be a flight time. We were heading to California because we had a speaking engagement in California. But the day before, a friend of mine had a death in the family and so couldn't honor a preaching commitment that he had engaged to take in Arizona. So the conference said, could you come do this session? We looked at it. We found out I could land on our layover to get to California for three hours and do this. So the plane lands.

Again, 3:00 in the morning is when I woke up. The night before was our pop-up. I've got two children and me, OK? And so, it's, I mean, landed at 10:20 AM. I was in the pulpit preaching at 11:30. We pulled in as the worship was going on, did the message, and was wheels up at 3:00 PM to get on to the next thing. And so it was all crazy, and these kids were unbelievable, going with me through this. You know, they were so sweet. And so we wanted to reward them, so we found this amusement park area thing. And when we were walking up, I was like, they have this bumper car thing that everyone really likes. And Clover was like, oh, no. I did a bumper car once, and I got stung by a bee. I felt the trauma so fresh. Like, when was this? She was like, years ago, but I remembered it.

And it was like you almost could feel the bee sting so fresh in her system walking up to a bumper car. But she was so big. She takes a deep breath and goes, it's time to conquer this fear. You know, let's just, and she rode the bumper car. I'm telling you, I was so proud of her. When I got off, I said, did you get stung? She goes, I didn't get stung at all. And you laugh, but how does this show up in your life? Once stung, twice shy. And you can get this in your system where it's traumatic, right? I mean, the odds of ever getting stung by a bee again, I mean, you would have to ride this every day for the rest of your life to ever even see a bee. You know what I mean? To much less attract the attention of it.

So we know it's irrational, these fears we have. And yet, when are the traumatic things that we go through that get lodged into our amygdala and into our memory response and our olfactory system and the smells and all of that ever rational? But we can get to where we're walking up to bumper cars in life, afraid of the bee sting that's never going to come. We can end up carrying in our system the trauma from the traumatic that we now feel is going to happen, however unfounded that might be. And 16 years later, they're so scarred by the setbacks that came when they tried to do something and got knocked down that they decided just to live dysfunctionally. Hey, how are you doing? Good. What are you here for? We're going to build a temple. How's that working out for you? Well, we got the foundation over there and all this building material over here.

You see what I'm saying? They got this pocket that's perfectly good if they would just sew the hole in the bottom of it, but they would rather live dysfunctionally than risk the disappointment. And we can actually get to a place where we will sabotage our own selves, hurting ourselves before someone else has the chance to do so, ruining our chances at a healthy relationship, even potentially ending up in a dating relationship with someone we know that is no good for us, is a toxic person. But we don't think we deserve any better. Remaining in a job or a season of life that we've outgrown, fearing that something painful would be repeated, lashing out and hurting other people before they have a chance to hurt us, running the moment someone gets close, armoring up to protect ourselves because of something someone else did that's no longer even in our life anymore.

Jennie and I were in a Zoom this week on Monday, I think it was. It was a week, girl. And this was a Zoom we had been asked to be on with people who were grieving the loss and the death of someone in their life. And they said, would you two talk about how you move through grief when your daughter Lenya went home to be with Jesus? And of course that's an emotionally draining, taxing virtue going out of us thing, these hours we get up. It's the end of a workday because East Coast time for them. And so, you know, we do this thing. And they kept asking the question, what does grief feel like? What does grief smell like? What does grief taste like? And so we're reliving all of that and talking about, how did you move through that? How are you still married today 19-plus years later? How are you still in ministry, pointing people to the goodness of God when five days before Christmas, your daughter was taken from you on a day where you were writing a sermon? Because I got triggered.

You want to talk about triggers? Every time I write a sermon, that's a trigger. I spent a whole day that ended up being one of the worst days I've ever lived on this world writing a sermon. There's an association. Oh, and how about Christmas? Christmas is kind of everywhere. I don't know if you realize that. And it shows up with the subtlety of a freight train pulling into the station, and it's the most wonderful time of the year. But it brings back for us all of those memories. And you have examples of that everywhere. Date nights, how about a date night? Married people, take a date night? It was a Thursday, our date night, and we were on a date when Lenya first started having her asthma attack. So again, the year after that, the months after that, how do we go and take a date night on a Thursday when there's all of that association there?

And the girl doing this named, her name is Deborah Fileta. She's an incredible author. She's spoken here at the church. She's a licensed counselor. And she goes, what did you do? How did you do that when it was so hard? And what I told her was, one of the things we just kept saying to ourselves was, we need to run toward the roar. The roar makes us feel afraid of Christmas, makes us feel afraid of date night, makes us feel afraid of whatever we associate this traumatizing experience with. But we're not going to live our life running away from things that scare us. We're going to run toward the roar, and if it kills us, so be it. At least we don't have to live terrified anymore.

So even if it's hard, even if it's scary, we're going to embrace it. And we cried. We cried into oatmeal on our first date morning. We couldn't take a date night. It was baby steps. Then we moved it eventually back to a date night. And Christmas, the first Christmas after Lenya was in Heaven, we could have thought, decorations, all of that, too much. We chose to put twice as many lights on our house, running toward the roar. And then Deborah said, it sounds to me like what you're saying is, you didn't let trauma become your template. And I said, that's not what I said. That's better than what I said, but I sure as heck will steal and preach the heck out of that. Because for me and for my house, our trauma wasn't our template. God's truth was our template. And if God's truth is our template, then the bee sting doesn't get to keep us from the bumper car.

And I refuse to be putting on a beekeeper costume every time I show up at the state fair, out of fear of something that might not ever happen. And you don't need to either. We can sew the hole in the pocket and not walk in dysfunction, fearing a disappointment that even if it does come, God will get you through if you keep walking with him. Oh, come on. Take a moment and reorient yourself away from the trauma and the difficult and the painful and the loss, being, oh, I can't do that. My anxiety would flare. Or I can't go over here. That would trigger me. Come on, let's trust God. Let's make His word, His salvation, His healing, the center of our lives. Their template for building a temple was now oriented around how hard it had been the first time. So we better not try again. We'll just live dysfunctionally in the promised land without a temple, seeing an altar sitting on a slab. But there's a second thing that Haggai came to call into question, and that is that they were living in comfort over calling.

Comfort over calling. They had found their way to focus on not their call, the call of God, the call of God. Why are we coming in? The call of God, the call of God. And they now, Haggai says, had chosen comfort. Haggai 1, verse 3, then the word of the Lord came by Haggai, the prophet, saying, is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins? Everyone say, ouch. Thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, but indeed it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away.

Why, says the Lord of hosts. Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore, the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands. Comfort was what they had chosen now to focus and fixate on instead of the call of God that was on their lives. And this might hit close to home for you. And if it doesn't, it probably should because every one of us, present included, loves the idea of comfort. Because with comfort comes the illusion of control. And so because they were not living in the call of God, the wild and the pure and the free call of God on their life, this dream of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, let's rebuild Jerusalem.

What does Jerusalem mean? Peace. City of Peace. Jeru salem. Shalom is at the root of salem. So the idea of Jerusalem being built was never about them. God told Abraham, I'm going to build you up as a people to be a blessing to all the people of the world. So this kind of bigger-than-ourselves idea of, let's live for the world, let's live for others, that was the whole dream. But when they stopped the work of building up the city of peace, they started to look for peace in other places. And when we're not finding the peace of God where he knows it is, we'll look for it somewhere else. And so for them, you know, at first, they were camping. And let's get the temple built, and then we'll get to build our houses. Well, now, the work's not going. So what did they do? They drifted into this kind of consumer living of, let's build up our houses.

And then the houses are done, but, ooh, now some Wainscoating would be good. And I was watching on Magnolia Farms, and they said we could panel them with cedar in this way. And their houses just were getting more and more and more extravagant, but God caused there to be a drought on peace. That's what always happens when we drift from the call of God. Now, hear me. There's nothing wrong with them building a house. There's nothing wrong with them then paneling their houses in wood. The problem was, first things weren't being done first. The nation of Israel had gotten evicted from the promised land and ended up in Babylon for one very specific reason, a failure to observe the Sabbath.

That was what God said. He counted for 490 years that they had neglected, that got them in Babylon in the first place for a 70-year period, one year for every seven where the Sabbath had been rejected. Now, you're like, this doesn't make sense because it doesn't apply to us, Levi. We're not under the law. Hello. Hold on. Sabbath predates the law. We don't point to the law of Moses as to why we would have the principle of Sabbath in our lives or the principle of first in our lives. Why? We actually look to the week of creation where God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day rested and created rest. And Adam was made on the sixth day. So imagine his surprise when he wakes up bright and early on the first Sabbath, his first technical day on Earth, and says, all right, God, what are we going to do today?

And God says, we're going to rest. He says, rest? I haven't done anything yet. I'm not tired. He goes, exactly. You're going to rest in what I've done. You're going to begin by resting and looking to me as the finished work, by honoring and giving that to me. And the whole principle of first comes from the beginning, from the garden. There was a tree, first of all, he's going to not take from and honor God. Every other tree, but not that tree. The first tree was God. The first day was God's. The idea of God gives us anything, we give the first and the best back to Him. That's where the principle of tithing comes from. It's a way of saying, I honor you. I recognize you as the source and the giver of all good things, the giver of all good gifts.

And lest I look to a created thing, a creature comfort to give me what only you can, I'm going to, every time I receive any monetary blessing or any brand new day, I'm going to dedicate the first and the best to You to remind myself and to remind You that You are my God. You are my creator. You're the only one who can give me peace, the peace inside that I crave. So while they were not walking in the call of God, they got rejected, and they got kicked out to Babylon for this period. And they've come back, and now they are repeating the exact same thing. It's a brand new season in the land, but they're walking in the same old mistake. The same pattern is still present.

Now, again, it wasn't like they were doing bad things it wasn't like, they left the work of God to go create crack labs. No, they're building houses. So they weren't bad people. They were just busy people. They were distracted people. And whenever you or I end up not putting God first in his rightful place, it's almost always because of a distraction of priorities. Right? We sit down. OK, I'm going to have some devotions. And we make a cup of tea or a cup of coffee, and we get our YouVersion plan, and we're all ready like, this is going to be great. I got 23 minutes before the next thing. OK, I'm going to spend some time with Jesus. And then you get a text, and it reminds you of the thing you had to buy on Amazon.

And so you're on Amazon just really quickly. And then when you're about to switch apps back to YouVersion your demonic phone, I don't know how it happened, it went to Instagram instead. You didn't mean to, but then you're like, oh, that's interesting. That's what she's up to. And then you are what? In the feed. And we wonder why we don't have any peace. We're eating, but we're not satisfied. We're drinking, but we're not, we're not quenched. We end up looking to things to give us peace that simply cannot, looking to relationships to give us what they cannot on this Earth, looking to comforts to give us what they cannot. We're not bad. We get busy. We get distracted. And soon, it's like our lives get raised up to this level where we have to work at a pace that's crushing for ourselves, for others in our life, for our spiritual life.

I would go to church, but there's the thing. And it's the soccer thing, and it's this other work thing, and I got this side thing. And my kids need it, and we're totally going to get around to that. And soon, God's been put on the back burner. And then we're wondering, where's that spiritual dew? Where's that refreshment? We can't walk out of the peace of prayers that weren't prayed. We can't walk out of the revelation that we weren't there in the room to participate in. We can't see the blessing on an offering of faith that we sacrificially give that we didn't make. Because we were bad people? No, we were busy. They're just simply focusing on comfort over their calling. And God's word says, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all the other wood-paneled rooms will be added.

You see what I'm saying? Whatever God wants you to have, it's going to, it'll happen on its own after you put him first. Hey. I'm going to interrupt myself there really quickly. I promise we'll get back into God's word in a second. But we just wanted to really quickly say that if you watch these messages every week, we invite you to participate in our Fresh Life Church yearly end-of-the-year offering, that this year is called Firebrand, as we're all considering, what does it mean to be marked by God, marked by his love, and what an honor and opportunity it is to see that reach more people. And that's really the heartbeat of our Firebrand offering. Yeah, it's such a joy to get to join our faith together and give and see what God will do.

And so we just encourage you to pray about and consider what that might look like for you. Amazing. Yeah, you can at any point between now and the end of the year really put your brand out there to see God use it at, or just click the giving link there. And you can then select Firebrand from the year end offering, and somehow, someway, above and beyond be a part of what God is doing to reach more people. Yes. Well, now we're going to jump back into this teaching from God's word. And then He says, how's that working out for you, that whole putting fear over faith thing? Because that's what they're doing. They're putting fear over faith. Can you show that to me in the text? I would love to. I'm so glad you asked. It says in Haggai 1, verse 2, thus speaks the Lord of hosts saying, this people says, and then notice the quotation.

So he's directly quoting something they were commonly saying, the time has not yet come that the Lord's house should be built. They commonly were saying this thing back to each other for 16 years. It's just not time yet. When it's time, it'll be time. How will we know it's time. I'll just know it's time when the Lord shows me it's time. Right? What, are you going to get to work? I'm praying about it. No, you're not. No, you're not. If you did, it would be a very short prayer time. Lord, should I read my Bible? Yep. Lord, should I go to church? Uh-huh. You don't even kneel. Care about hungry people? Yep. Should I give? Uh-huh. Should I be about your kingdom more than about this earth? Yes, you should. The time is just not yet. Oh, the Lord and His timing. He'll nudge me when it's time. I haven't felt that prophetic unction yet.

You know, we got an altar, we got a slab, but it's just not yet time, brother. You know what I'm saying? He's like, it's not time yet? You keep saying it's not time. No, no, be honest. You're afraid. You're afraid because you were trusting in Cyrus. You were like, oh, we have Cyrus back in. We're good. No one can stop me now. Right? They're all excited. But guess what. Cyrus dies. Now, their backing is gone. Now, whoa, whoa, it's going to be scary. Now, the reality and the grittiness of faith now. Oh, you had this great idea of this thing you were going to do for God. Now, you're getting into the reality of it. Just be honest. Say you're afraid. You're scared. And He goes, you don't need to be scared. Cyrus is dead, but I'm not. Cyrus is gone, but I'm here. Haggai says multiple times in this little two chapter book, the Lord is with you, so don't be afraid. I am with you. I am with you. I am with you.

Come on. So have the faith to take that scary step. Have the faith to take that scary step. Because you'll just keep procrastinating. It's already been 16 years. You know what that means? Their kids could have grown up in the midst of a move of God. I want you to hear me. These little 16-year-olds are basically adults now. And these mums and dads got to look back and go, wait a minute, what could my kids have grown up in the midst of? And I'm afraid that sometimes we so prioritize other things, but we tell ourselves, well, one day, I'm going to do all this. And maybe you will, but at what cost? Because the devil is probably not going to whisper in your ear, get a 666 tattoo. OK, I won't. I won't do it. I won't do it. The devil wants you to think you're going to grow in your gifts and tell people about Jesus and prioritize your kids being a part of small groups and you leading by example, being in small groups, and you being on a team, and sacrificial generosity.

The devil wants you to think all those things are important. He just wants you to do it tomorrow because it's not really a good time right now, you see? Like, there's a couple of things I'm going to start now. I'm going to... Shimina-shamana. And then I'm going to. You see? And then I'm going to. And I'll meet people and they'll tell me, hey, I would go to Fresh Life in Bozeman, but the Student Ministry isn't quite there yet. But, man, I love this church, love this church, love this church, and the vision and the dream and the grit. Love it. And if this can get really cranking, I'm there. Call me when everybody else does all the hard living to get it perfect and when the water is 103, not 101 because I don't like it so chilly, not 105 because I don't want to scald my baby skin. When it's 104 or 103, maybe then I'll come be a part of the church.

If everybody else could give their lives to get it off the ground, then I want to come in. I want to skeetch in and get all the spiritual goosebumps. I just am afraid. Just be honest. And God will say, but I'm with you, so let's go. I'm with you, so let's go. I'm with you, so let's build. Let's dream, let's fight, and let's have all the memories that we gave ourselves to something and got to be a part of it. And we get to laugh and look back and see all the scars from the nicks and bruises and bumps and cuts along the way. But they chose fear over faith. And then lastly, we're done here, past over present. They chose the past and glorified it above what God wanted to do right there in the present.

How crazy is that? That means, then, that the barrier to them seeing God do something awesome was that God had previously done something great. And so it often is. I want to show this to you. This is really important for you to see because we find the thing under the thing. Counselors always talk like that, right? It's not just this thing. Why is this happening? So if you can be curious when you're looking at some crazy emotion and ask yourself, what's the thing under the thing, because the thing is probably not about what you think it's about. It's something else that's causing it. All right? So if we look at the thing, which is the nation of Israel for 16 years not building a temple they had moved their entire lives to come and build, there's likely a thing that's under the thing.

And we find it in Haggai 2, verse 3. He calls them out and says, hey, guys, I have a question. Who among you is left who saw the original temple that Solomon built that got torn down by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC? Who among you that's here now to build a new one remembers the former glory? Because if we take that verse away for a quick second, Solomon's temple, whew. Solomon was the wealthiest king that nation of Israel ever had. And he walked into it with David, his dad, having laid up building materials for him for years and years and years and years and years. And Solomon was so wealthy that in his days, silver became like our aluminum foil. It was like, oh silver, how cute. Right? It wasn't gold plated. Everything was gold in Solomon's temple. It's estimated that at the height of his kingdom, he owned in the kingdom half of the gold that was in circulation in the entire world at that point.

And the temple was just like, it shone in the sun because of the Bruno Mars 24-karat everything that you would see as you approached it. And there were people with Zerubbabel, with Nehemiah, with Ezra, with Zechariah, Malachi in this day who are old enough that they as kids remembered that temple. And they got carted off to slavery and were a part of the 50,000 that said, yeah, I remember that temple. It was amazing. Let's go build it. In their minds, they're chasing the glory of Solomon's temple. They have a very specific picture in their mind of what it's going to look like when God works through their efforts. And He says, who among you is left 16 years of not doing anything on this slab that remembers what the old one used to look like that sat on this exact spot? Some hands go up.

I remember. I saw it. I've never seen anything like it. He goes, follow-up question. And how do you see it now, this temple? Not the one you remember, the one that's getting built here. How do you see it now? Look at it. In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as, say it with me, nothing? You have completely despised what is because you're enamored with what was. This is the word of God for somebody. The glory days mentality, just got to recapture. This is what it was really like when God was really working. And you compare everything God is doing, which will never measure up because, newsflash, these 50,000 Jews do not have Solomon's budget. So yeah, this does seem pathetic as it starts. Now, newsflash, as time would go, Herod would embellish this temple that they're building.

And by the time everything in the dust had settled, the second temple would be actually two to three times larger than Solomon's temple. But that's not how big things start out. It right now looks little. It looks pathetic. It looks like it's just, they've clawed something out from the garbage. And how could it ever get to where it's meant to go? They are paralyzed by nostalgia. And I'm going to be completely honest with you. Jennie and I came up here to start this church in 2007, and we are currently right now in our 16th year of ministry in this church. 16 years. And there have been some difficulties. There's been some hardships. There was a period of time, it was the weirdest thing. I don't know why I thought of it this week. I mean, there are so many, right? But I think about the time when someone just kept coming by our church and smashing the windows. They would just throw bricks at it it, just smashed the windows.

So we'd call the window guy, and we'd get the windows repaired. I don't think I've ever actually told the church that. And they would come and repair them, and it would happen again. And they would come repair them, and it'd happen again. And then the window guy got saved and started coming to the church, so that was easy. He'd just come do it, and that was great. God's redemptive plans I guess, right? I was thinking this week about how we give out stickers. Everyone here has a sticker. Drive safely, drive responsibly. Here's a sticker. Put it on your car. Drive safely. Just advertisement right around town. People are looking for a church, right? What's Fresh Life? And so I put one on my car as an accountability measure to sanctify my level of driving.

And then I remember on Easter one year, I had this terrible Easter hangover the next morning. And it wasn't because Easter was terrible. It was because it went great. And I started thinking about next year's Easter sermon, and I started hugging myself and muttering. I was like, you need to go out on a walk, buddy. I gave myself permission to just go up into the mountains and take a long walk. And while I was up there, I was like, God, I'm just going to trust you for next year's Easter sermon because, hang with me, I've given 16 of them. You know what I'm saying? And the story arc is eerily similar at all of them, OK? Creatively, I'm here to tell you, he saw his shadow, OK? But finding a fresh expression can be creatively depleting, and so I'm not just walking trying to like, God, I trust you for next year. It's just a funny little thing. Like, I trust you. It was hard for me, though.

And I'll trust you for next year's Easter and the one after that. I'm just going to be faithful. And I was crying now. Make me a vessel. Make me an offering, whatever you want me to be. By the end of this walk, man, I am walking on sunshine. And if I'm lying, I'm dying. I get back to my car, and I find someone had taken the liberty of adorning the Fresh Life sticker. I took a picture of it just to show you. This is what they put above it. And I stood there for a hot minute, and I thought about the sacrifices my wife and I and our family have made in our years of ministry to build a church that could give away millions of dollars of outreach grants and see people come to life in Christ. And I had this moment where I just was like, and this is the thanks that I get.

So yeah, there's been discouragements in 16 years of seeking to see a slab turn into a house for people to experience peace. But nothing has been weirder than the little setbacks that just are discouraging and violating. The thief breaks in. You mean that metaphorically? No, I mean really. The thief breaks in. Here's actual CCTV footage of a meth addict kicking the door into our creative offices. There's the kick, and we blurred his face, and walking through and stealing, I think the total was $60,000 of computers and lenses and all the things. And of course, later on he gets caught trying to pawn some of it that was identified. And he's in prison right now where, let me just say this. When you come back, you can use the front door. You're welcome. Come on in to the front.

We'd love to have you at church, and I do hope and pray you're able to watch this at Deer Lodge and get help and get whole. You have people around here saying, hey, we forgive you. We're not mad at you. You know, we got some of it back. For whatever reason, the stuff that was stolen from my office did not get returned, which I had some personal effects that can't be replaced in this Earth. There were gifts from people to me that were there. So yes, there's been obstacles. I'm not here to be like, no, ministry is amazing. Go reach the world, and they're going to give you a big hug for it. You know, they killed Jesus. We're following Jesus.

This is par for the course and sort of the deal. We signed up for this, right? I'm not here to give you my sob story, but what I told you all of that for, which does not scratch the surface of the weird challenging, difficult, painful of 16 years of ministry is to tell you that nothing has been more challenging personally for me then dealing with the theme of dark thoughts in low unguarded moments that my best days of ministry are behind me, and that whatever on the day I choose for it to be in my flesh is the high water mark of whatever, that that now will never be exceeded. And I can in my low moments despise and miss out on what God's doing in front of me because it seems pathetic compared to whatever form or glory that I'm hoping to recapture as lightning in a bottle, because I think getting back to that and staying on the trajectory of always further up and to the right is going to somehow give me peace.

We can be paralyzed by nostalgia and choose the past, anchor ourselves in the past over the present, and miss out on what actually God wants to do in the future, which might not be bigger. Post-COVID whatever for your business. Post-COVID for whatever for the numbers. Like that if we just fixate on something from the past to get back to as a goal. The truth is, God might want to do something in your eyes that actually by numbers numerically smaller than what was before it. The feeding of the 4,000 came after the feeding of the 5,000. And if I'm Matthew writing all the numbers, I'm like, that technically is not the right movement, Jesus. You know? It's like, we want to go 6,000. We want to go 7,000. Right?

But there were only 4,000 people to feed that day, so that was what was needed. The issue isn't, how does this stack up to whatever in your mind the benchmark is you're wanting to now exceed? It's not about bigger. It's about glorious. It's about, what does God want to do right here that might get to two to three times, may get bigger than whatever? But it's not about all that. God says, here's the deal. And this is what was meant to cure their issue here. He says in chapter 2, verse 9, the glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place, I will give peace. It's not about numerically bigger. It's about glory, and this is a place where God's glory is meant to be God's glory in your life.

It would be this second temple that these ragtag 50,000 Jews would eventually get to build that Jesus would come to. Not Solomon's. Not Solomon's and all of its gold and all of its bling. It would be this crude, stark temple that God took pleasure in sending his Son to, first as a baby in the arms of Joseph and Mary to be circumcised, then as a teenager when he gets lost on a family vacation and ends up leading a Bible study for all the Jewish leaders in this temple that Zerubbabel fought for and Haggai preached all the way to the finish line.

It would be in this temple that Zechariah had to give him a vision of Joshua, the high priest, in his dirty clothes and then clean clothes to help him to see and to feel that they are a brand plucked from the fire, and God brought him from the furnace of Babylon to bring them to Jerusalem through 16 years of setbacks and the death of Cyrus to get them to a place where they would trust Him enough to keep going in the midst of setbacks, that he would please, be pleased to see Jesus come to and preach and heal and minister and then to die outside of while God the Father reached into this second temple and tore the veil in two from top to bottom to say to the world, there's peace for everybody because my Son has come. Oh, take a moment and thank God that he wants to do a new thing.

The present is what God wants to work in, not your past. So let go of what's behind you. Forget these former things, for I, the Lord, am going to do a new thing. And to the degree that you're weeping over how what God is doing in the youth of our church and in this next generation doesn't look like your spirituality, well, when I was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We went to youth group Wednesday and, how did that work out for you? Well, youth group should be this way, and this should be this way. I'm telling you, young people of Fresh Life Church, we are going to watch you do something that's different than what God did in our lives when we were teenage, and we're going to champion you all the way to the finish line.

We're not going to weep over how what God's doing today looks different than our preconceived notions of what it ought to be, and miss out on the chance to watch God do something glorious inside of your life. We're here for the glory. Come on, tell your neighbor, we're here for the glory. We're here for the glory. We're here for the glory. Haggai 2, verse 23, we're going to close with this. I need some need some keys so I'll actually close. I need some beautiful soothing music to play under me so I will stop talking. Haggai 2, verse 23 says, in that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the Lord of hosts, the Lord who's speaking, and look at this. Here we go. Here we go. This is why I wanted you to read this.

This is actually the last thought in the book of Haggai, whose name means festive, by the way. That's what Haggai means, festive. Some people think he was born during a feast, so he was named Festive. But he's trying to cause the Jewish people to party over what looks terrible, to say grace, grace over what's just rubble right now. In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you. A signet ring, like a ring a king or a leader of a business would wear in that time, like the Prodigal Son was given from his father. It's not just a decoration. It was basically power of attorney.

You see, you could write a document in the name of and seal it with the signet ring that spoke of the name, and that which you would have to, you could only put into wax by melting it with fire. And then when you marked what had been melted by fire, you were putting your brand into the document. And He's saying, I'm going to give to Zerubbabel because of his spirit and heart to see this happen. I'm going to make him like a signet ring, and God the Father, who is speaking through Haggai, is saying, God's name is going to be seen, and there's going to be a mark of God in this world because of what he's willing to do here and be a part of. And you know, the fulfillment of this? You've read it. You probably didn't even realize it. You skipped right past it, didn't you? Because you had this noble idea of reading the Bible in a year.

And you open up Matthew, and you're like, what's with all the phone book at the beginning of all this? And so-and-so is the son of so-and-so. Why do I need to know all this? Let's get to the good stuff. And you would skip right past the genealogy of Jesus Christ, in which Zerubbabel is included as a part of the chain that led to the Messiah from this moment. Zerubbabel got to be made into a signet ring to help bring Jesus's name into the world. I guess the question is, will you? Will you? Will you and I step into God's invitation to choose a calling over comfort, to choose the risk of disappointment over dysfunction, to choose a life of faith, even if it means we have to run right into what scares us to death, and to choose to embrace the present, as little as it might, as pathetic as it might, as tiny as it might feel?

That in God's eyes is actually even more impressive than Solomon's gift. I think just the slab in this tiny little temple was actually more impressive because it represented a huge sacrifice to this group of people. Solomon had half the gold in the world, so he could build the biggest temple that there ever was. But it didn't cost him much, did it? Jesus looked at a little old lady given two copper coins once into the offering box, and he pushed Peter over. He said, bro, did you see that gift was huge? He's like, the copper coins? What do you think the temple is going to be able to buy with that?

He goes, it doesn't matter. I own all the silver and gold. It's all mine. The whole world's mine. Everything's mine. It ain't about all that. I'll do it with who I want to do it with. But her faith it took to give that because she doesn't have very much, and all of these big shots give him big gifts that everyone is impressed by and wants to come over and eat prime rib with and glad hand with. Oh, what a big gift. He's like, fine. It doesn't take faith. So will we let God make us into his signet ring to put the mark of Jesus into this world by living a life of faith?

And so, Father, we thank You. I even right now invite Your spirit to work in our hearts, work in our lives.

And if you're here and you would say, man, I just, I needed to hear this because I've allowed something traumatic to become my template, I have not put something in that left pocket in a minute, and I'm wearing that beekeeper's uniform to the bumper cars, in some way small or large, and I want to make God's truth the template for what I build. If that's you I'm describing, could I just ask for honesty in church? Everyone's praying with heads bowed and eyes closed, but just raise your hand up. I need help. I feel stuck, God. I'm stuck in this pain. I'm stuck in this grief. I'm stuck in this addiction. I'm stuck in this toxic friendship. I'm stuck. And the Spirit is whispering as he celebrates over your surrender and your submission, he whispers, you are free. You are free. You were only handcuffed in your mind. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Just lean into that freedom. Lean into that fear. Lean into that calling. Lean into that wild wonder He wants to open you up to.

Thank you, Jesus, for your healing. Thank you, Jesus, for your touch. (Those of you watching this on YouTube, you can put in the comments how God has touched you.) We're responding right now, Lord. We see you. We sense you. Thank you, Jesus.

You can put your hands down. I want to now invite those who have not made a decision to trust their lives over to Jesus's care to make him the owner, the Savior, the Lord of your life. He died for you on the cross. He rose from the dead. He wants to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins and give you Heaven and not hell, and peace and not strife, and love and not hate. But you have to open the door up and invite Him in. So I'm going to extend that invitation by giving you language for you to pray. This is between you and God, not you and me. Pray this. Say this to him. God will hear you, wherever you are, every location, church online. He'll hear you. Say this to God:

Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix or forgive myself. But I believe you can. Please come into my life. Make it your home. Thank you for the cross, for your resurrection, and for my new life, in Jesus' name.

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