Levi Lusko - Make Up Your Mind
Keep doing what you done, you'll keep getting what you got. And if you want something new, we're going to need to try something different. I say, we think different. Anybody with me in the house today? I was talking to my daughter Clover on FaceTime a few days ago. And I was asking her, catching up on life and how everything was going for her. And I was asking her specifically about tennis practice. I know they had gotten in to play some tennis. And they have a couple different coaches who will do different clinics and different gatherings of different young people learning to play tennis. And so I knew at one point she had been with Brad for a long stretch because the coach Jeff had gone back to Minnesota to spend some time with family. And so she had been with Brad a bunch of times. And each coach has a different personality and temperaments.
And so the clinics kind of tend to go different or the lessons go different. And so, but I knew Brad had then gone on a long hunting trip and was gone for a couple of weeks. So it was back to Jeff for a while, and so it was kind of like back and forth. And so I was catching up with her, I was like, well, who is leading in tennis today? And she said, well, it was Coach Jeff today. I go, how was that? She goes, Dad, I'm honestly, I don't even know. I go, what do you what do you mean, Clover? She said, well, when it was Coach Brad week after week, he was telling me this about my serves and this needed to change, and to serve, I needed to do this differently. And so I really felt like I was getting good at that serve technique. And then Brad went away, and it was Jeff back. And Jeff watched me serve for a while and said, Clover, we got some work to do on the serve.
What's this whole thing? It was the whole thing Brad had just given her, right. And she said, so she just kind of stood there for a while like, y'all need to get on the same page up in here, right. And I just thought, how funny to have two sources of input coming into your life, telling you that what you're doing, based on the other advice, is completely wrong. What Clover was feeling is what I feel like God would say to all of us today, make up your mind. Make up your mind. Being told two different things here, the title I'm taking for these weeks of this collection of messages, though it really in truth is just one message that will break up over multiple weeks. And I hope you can do everything for your soul to be here for the four weeks of this series because God would have us to stop hobbling back and forth between two opinions. Like the prophet Elijah said to the nation of Israel at one point, if the Lord is God, follow Him. But if this other thing is the most important thing, if bale is God, if career is God, if your GPA is God, if skiing is God, then just go all in on that.
But let's not be messing around back and forth here, serving one way on this week and a completely different way, approaching it different on this week. God would say, make up your mind. God is saying to us, the time has come to decide. Make up your mind. Make up your mind. Colossians, Chapter 3 is our launching off point in the weeks that will be on this theme. And I've always loved how Paul says, if then. He's talking to the Church at Colossae. Now keep in mind, it's the church he did not start personally. They are his grandchildren in the faith. You see, he led some people to the Lord who went on to start this church. And so Paul feels like a spiritual papa. He feels very much, I care about you, not because you came from me and my faith spiritually, you aren't my sons in the faith. But you're kind of my grandchildren in the faith. And he knows that they were getting kind of like messed with.
What they were specifically dealing with in the church at Colossae is a false way of relating to God called gnosticism, that basically says Jesus is good. That's good that you started there. But now let's get on to the deeper truth. We need Jesus plus this, plus that. Plus, you're going to have to add in some of this over here. And Paul's like, are you kidding me? He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. All things exist through him and for him. He is the firstborn from the dead. The church, it's his. He's the head of it. If he is who has raised you, the Christ, if you were raised with Christ he says, seek those things which are above. Don't look at Him as kindergarten and then move on from Jesus. Seek the things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the Earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
And Lord we pray that you would help us to see the reality of the Resurrection that is responsible for the new life in our hearts, and that we've been given the spirit that raised Christ from the dead. And I pray God that in having that revelation, just getting a glimpse of what is really taking place in our hearts, we would see that there's no need to ever go anywhere other than Jesus, for it will take all of eternity to even begin scratching the surface of who Jesus is. And I pray that instead of thinking God, we would need something else. We would actually truly live like we have been raised from dead to life in Christ. If you have been raised, seek the things that are above. I pray you would help us to do just that, setting our minds on things above, to make up our minds. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Those who study such things say that we, on average, have 500 intrusive thoughts per day, each one lasting more or less than right around 14 seconds. If you do the math, that adds up to about two hours per waking day. We're on average sleeping 6 to 8 hours a day, right, some of you less, some of you more. Who's on the less than six hours side? OK. I'll pray for you. You need to go to bed. And who's on the more than eight side, so we can be jealous. Well done. Well done. I heard that LeBron James sleeps like 10 hours a night, right. Unbelievable how much power there is in resting. They say sleep really is a superpower. But if you sleep six to eight hours a day, that means you're awake for 16 to 18 hours. And if out of 16 to 18 hours per day, you're battling intrusive thoughts for a full two hours. We spend a lot of time thinking about things that are trying to rob us of our joy.
And by definition, an intrusive thought is not one that you welcomed in. You were like, I would love to just picture myself falling off a cliff, for just a couple minutes per hike. You know, like, these thoughts come into our mind. Like they call that staring into the void. Have you have ever been on a random hike, and you weren't suicidal. There was nothing like, no like death wish in your mind. But you're just like, you can picture yourself falling off the cliff. And you kind of like take a step back because you're worried you might jump. You're not weird. You're human. Right. It's called staring into the void. It's actually a phenomenon that just occurs. It's partially because there's just a deep seated fear that would happen, that your mind starts going, well I wonder if you're crazy enough to do it. Intrusive thoughts! Some of them are innocent enough, but others are far more destructive and evil.
And we start to think that we're messed up because we have these messed up thoughts. But two hours of every single day, what does that add up to in a year, in a decade, in a lifetime? How much of our lives' joy and God's glory, is the enemy who comes to steal and to kill and destroy, taken from us through our thinking. This whole collection of messages is in one sentence is that, the kind of people we're going to be will be determined by the kind of thoughts we're going to think. Jot that down. The kind of people we're going to be will be determined by the kind of thoughts we're going to think. Now again, we can't stop an intrusive, invasive, destructive, selfish, anxious thought from popping into our head. But we do get to choose, out of all the thoughts that occur to us, which ones to think on. Martin Luther put it well when he said, you can't stop birds from flying around your head.
But you don't have to sit still long enough to let them build a nest in your hair. So you are not the thoughts you think. You are not the thoughts that you think. That's one thing that's helpful is to sort of separate ourselves from it. Just because they popped into my head, does not mean that that's who I am. But neither do you have to think on what you think about. In the Scripture, from the beginning to the end, makes clear that we do get to choose what to think about, what we get to dwell on, what we get to meditate on. And the whole of 2024 being in front of us, as much as God in his wisdom and in his will, will allow us to see, wants us to understand the path to victory that comes not through mind over matter.
Don't mistake what I'm saying here. Or manifesting the Mercedes, that's not what we're talking about here. That's not the sermon. But what we are trying to understand and what God is pleading with us to see, and that is what we allow into our mind, hear me, really does matter. Lest we make the foolish mistake of just loving God with all of our soul and our heart and our body, but not our mind. What does it mean to love God with all our minds and to let the transformed life that God wants us to live come through not conforming our thoughts to the pattern of this world, but having our minds transformed, the renewing that can happen when we shape what we think through what God has spoken, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Because the truth is, whatever you've done up until this point, you've already gotten to experience it, right?
And here's a mind blowing thought. If you keep doing what you done, you keep getting what you got. And if you want something new, we're going to need to try something different. I say, we think different. Anybody with me in the house today? For too long, have I both felt I'm worthless and felt I'm terrible and felt I'm awful, and God couldn't love me because man my mind is full of some scary, my mind is a scary place, man, right. If you ever have a chance to come into my mind, bring mace, right. Don't come without a flashlight. You might get lost. Leave breadcrumbs, right? I'm just telling you, my mind, I feel my mind, so often, not just a bag of cats. I feel like a bag of cats full of rabies. Like, it's like, what is going on? And the work it's going to take to get our minds into the kind of shape for us to walk, like Paul says here, truly raised. Don't you love that he says, if then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above.
Set your mind. Do you hear that? Set your mind. Set your mind, like you would set a clock. I came home from this trip, and my alarm clock by my bed was blinking 12. So at some point, there must have been one of the brownouts or blackouts or power outages that happens, right? And so here's this clock. What did I have to do? I had to go set it. I just sit down and remember the sequence of steps to go through to get this clock to tell the right time. But then, right before I went to sleep, I remembered, oh, I need to also change the alarm settings because they got reset, too. And so that's what I'm hoping, that's what I'm praying, entering into this year, that God would help us to see it's our job to do. Because he doesn't say, if you were raised with Christ, let God do all that setting for you. He did all the hard work, guys.
The cross, the tomb, he has given us his spirit. He's given us his word. He just says, OK, now will you set your mind based on what I've revealed, based on what I've spoken. Will you focus your thoughts up? Will you make up your mind? And not any other thing because the kind of people we're going to be, will be determined by the kind of thoughts that we're going to think. So if you've truly been raised, if you've truly been seated, if you've truly been sealed, if you could picture the marriage supper of the Lamb, the initial feast, once everybody who's gonna get to heaven is in heaven. The Bible talks about this marriage supper of the Lamb. Why would he call it that? Because there's not a greater, more joyous occasion that any of us can think of than the wedding feast, right.
When you get together with all of your family and every single person, not that wedding that you're dreading. I'm talking about the one that you can't wait because you love all your people. You know what I'm talking about, right. There are times where we're just, like, oh my. I was at a wedding once where they had like so much food and so much ridiculousness and shenanigans and dancing and people are getting raised up on chairs in the air. And then at midnight they announce, the chicken and waffles are here. I had eaten like 4,000 calories because it's a wedding, you know. This is how we're all going out. You know, it's like, this is just joyful. Yeah, calories don't count at wedding parties, right. We get to watch grandma get down with the ring bearer on the dance floor. Everybody's, everyone's acting a fool. And you're just, you're looking around, you go, I haven't seen these people all year. I haven't seen some of these people in many years.
Will I ever on this earth see this gathering of this many people I love? And think about God saying, like, I want you guys at the wedding feast, every single one of you. And he's saying, if that really is in your future, because I know we build up death as this awful thing. But it's like, on the other side of it is that? In Christ? Death is still our enemy, but it's a defeated enemy. So it serves His purposes, not the devil's purposes. If that's what we have to look forward to, what kind of thoughts would you think daily? How long has it been since you just sat down and thought about heaven? Thought about the glory and let that motivate, how much does that influence and inform your day to day lives? Your financial decisions, your social media posts, your conversation over a beer with the bros, right, how much is this really working down into the actual stuff that is your life?
And even like your kids and what you hope for them, how easily we can go from, like, God and kingdom to like, no, no, no, no, my kids, they have to have this. And they have to have that. And I have watched so many people try and mold their kids into what led them to misery and emptiness and sinfulness. But even in Christ, we still somehow think our kids need to experience, how would that work out for you? And we're somehow still, the actual thinking of our lives, comes back down to earthly thinking. You know why? Because Earth has something working for it that heaven doesn't have: gravity. Apparently in heaven, gravity is optional. I don't know. Jesus just be flying and stuff. You know what I'm saying, like. So in heaven, good news, bad news. You get to fly. Good news, bad news, when you get to fly, you're defying gravity. This earth, got some gravity. Could prove it to you. See it? Pulling me down. Nope! Yeah! Just keep sucking, keeps pulling, keeps getting ya.
Gravity's powerful, man. Gonna call on Isaac Newton to help me preach the rest of this sermon. Why would he say, set your mind on things above and not things of the Earth? Because the earth just naturally pulls you down. Your attention and your focus, the Earth is just always pulling at us. It's got centrifugal force because it's spinning as it flies. But heaven, we have to fight against gravity to look up, to think up, to live up. But if we've truly been raised, seated, awakened, called, commissioned, if we really did say, here am I, send me after the coal from the altar touched our lips. How differently would we think? How much more would up be what we make happen in our minds? And I guess God just was whispering to me as I was praying about this.
Part of the problem is, we've believed the lies that Satan has told about heaven. And that has caused us to cling with nail prints into this earth, into this life. We don't really believe that heaven is better than this world. And some have said so, quite specifically. I was reading in the Los Angeles Times a while back, a column that was written by Joel Stein. And he wrote heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp, it should be somewhere you can't wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century. But heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by, simply because they only have to be better than hell. I applaud his honesty. Randy Alcorn said, Satan need not convince us that heaven doesn't exist. He need only convince us that heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence.
If we believe that lie, we'll be robbed of our joy and anticipation. We'll set our minds on this life and not the next. And we won't be motivated to share our faith. Why should we share the good news that people can spend eternity in a boring, ghostly place that even we're not looking forward to? For the record, we need to see this for what it is, an attempt from the enemy to get our thinking based on a lie that will neutralize us of all that God intends for us to do, which is to live freely and lightly on this planet, with open hands and a light touch, able to enjoy blessing here and now, absolutely, but not so thirsty. God wants us to be hungry, but not thirsty, hungry for what he has for us, but not thirsty, walking around hoping the next trip, the next year's vertical you can get on your ski pass app, is somehow going to make up for some deficiency inside of you.
When will we wake up and smell the overdoses to see that there is not pleasure on this planet that can fill the hole in the human soul? If possessions and accomplishments were enough, we would expect the ultra wealthy, ultra famous to be the happiest people out there. And the rehab rate, overdose rate, divorce rate would be next to nil. But instead, we see Anthony Bourdain's Ecclesiastes journey repeated ad infinitum, that living like Bacchus, the God of wine, telling us to, somehow makes us more miserable than it does bring us satisfaction. And so the boring heaven myth is a strategy of the devil. So we need to think deeply and often about all that we have to look forward to. Because when we realize our true life is in front of us, it takes all that pressure off of this life and positions you to be on mission, hungry for the will of God, hungry to do the work of God, eager to see God do the next thing. And then when a blessing opens up, well look, God gives all things richly to enjoy.
So we get to enjoy them, but we do so with the mentality that it's like that pre-game Thanksgiving meal you eat, when you're just trying to stretch your stomach out a little bit. You just don't want to go into it like a novice, super fasted. You need that thing all stretched out. So you just you pregame a little. Anybody with me on the pregame? Just pregame it, right? Everything on this life is just pre-gaming. There's joy to come. We're not needing this to be the feast. C.S Lewis talks about why we're so moved by myth. The movies we watch, the idea of the world being under a spell and being pulled out from it, someone heroically laying down their life. All of these movies, these themes that really move us have in common, the elements and the ingredients of the gospel. And the stirring scenes that we see in cinema and in story, of animals talking and of a Willy Wonka like existence where you get to eat the cup after you drink the tea, all of that, he says, the reason that pulls on you like it does, and which cannot be explained by Darwin, can it?
All of these yearnings for what shouldn't be true, if there's a world full of devoid of any meaning, and we should just give in to the despair. And what does it matter if we help our fellow man? If it really is all black and lights out the moment any of us die, if there is no eternal life, if there is no forgiveness, then why are we so moved by someone laying down their life for their friend? Why are we so stirred by a vision of a world without a curse? And so he writes, if we truly believe that God will one day give us the morning star, which is by the way, a promise God gives to you in scripture, and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, not just watch the sun and feel the warmth of the sun, but put the splendor of the sun on. Hello. You think a luxury hotel can compare to wearing the glory of the sun? Then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. Everything you've ever felt that made your heart leap is what's to come, prophecy.
And this explains why... have you ever felt sad when you got to the end of a hike you were waiting to do for years? Not sad because it wasn't beautiful, sad because you wanted to pull the beauty into you more than you could. Heaven talks about a day where we won't just see a beautiful sunset from the top of a mountain, but we'll do so in a way that we can drink it in deeper. And then the trees all around will start clapping at the accomplishment and at the glory, right? Heaven being a downgrade, a lie. The truth is glory unimaginable, for in his presence is fullness of joy. And at his right hand are pleasures evermore. So come on, let's make up our minds. How, of course, is a pretty good question. Are we going to do that, Levi, when we got two coaches? Because we do. And I want to talk to you in this inaugural message, and we're almost done here, about dealing with the two coaches that are warring for our attention, trying to tell us how to do our serve. We got both the flesh and the spirit. And if we're going to really truly set our mind on things above, we need to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh.
This is Galatians now, another letter Paul wrote, Chapter 5. And I'm going to read to you starting in Verse 16. He says, I say then: walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. And those are contrary to one another. So that you do not do the things that you wish. You're like, this explains so much. Because just deciding isn't enough, he's saying. I'm not going to sin anymore. No. 2024 is my year, no more sin. You do not do the things that you wish to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.
That's not even an exhaustive account of the kind of things one coach wants you to live out this year. What we're seeing, as we hear this, I want you to just see all of 2024 in front of us. And I want you to ask the question, how much of this do you want to characterize the next year for you? Because you have a coach inside of your head who hopes that this is what your 2024 looks like. I want some idolatry in July. I want outbursts of wrath to mark August. We're hoping contentions and sorcery can just, let's just call that all of quarter three. We want fornication. Let's call that Valentine's Day. We're hoping some adultery, when is my wife due? Probably some adultery postpartum, some lewdness come... Come on, Levi. That's what your fleshly coach in your head is hoping for in your coming year.
"Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." How many of you would like your other coach to walk you in? How many of you want some goodness in June? How many of you want love to characterize the entirety of not just next year, but between now and heaven? Because love is the singular Fruit of the Spirit, that if it takes root in your heart and life, will lead to all of these other things. For joy to be our journey in this coming year, we must set our minds on things above.
John Phillips, a commentator and Bible teacher who went to heaven a number of years ago, who was and is one of my favorites to read on books of the Bible, and I loved him so much. I just thought, God, I want him to know a young man in Montana is really blessed by his teaching. So I wrote a letter to him, handwritten letter. Thank you for your commentary. So I don't know if he's ever going to get it. His daughter wrote me back and said, my father is deathly ill on his deathbed. And I just sat with them in hospice and read your letter to him, and it brought tears to his eyes. And so as I read this quote to you, I do so from the vantage point of knowing he is in glory now. And he doesn't wish he could get back down to this broken earth. But he sure is hoping that we will not waste a moment we have between now and then. He said, the old man, the flesh, watches sleeplessly for an opportunity to seize control of the body that it once owned, for yet another fling.
Pause right there, your attention please. When you came to know Jesus, if you have yet come to know Jesus, you have the Spirit of God within you. And the Spirit of God quickened and brought to life your spirit inside of you. You died to this world and were given a citizenship in heaven. And your spirit, which is the part of you capable of interacting with God in his power, came to life, but it was a newborn. I took a newborn baby boy into my arms last week. And I thought to myself, how pathetic. He literally can't do anything. I, being a strong full grown man in the prime of my life, in phenomenal shape, am so much stronger than him. When you got saved, your spirit was a baby. Your flesh has had 40 years to be very good at calling the shots. Your flesh is the ally of the enemy within you. He has had his head cut off at the moment of salvation. But like a snake that can continue to infect you with his head cut off, he very much still can hurt you.
He's not in control of you, but he doesn't want you to think that. And your muscle memory is so honed to jump when he says jump, that even with your spirit alive and your name in heaven, your flesh will still be like, do it. And you're like, I'm going to do it. Wait, I don't have, you're not in charge of me. So he wants you to go for one more fling. He is like some sleeping vampire of a horror story. He lies there in his grave, a denizen of the darkness, waiting his chance to seize us by the throat and slake his horrid appetite and thirsts. We must drive the mighty stake of the cross of Christ through his hellish heart. We must deny him access to our members and reckon him dead and remember Calvary.
Oh come on, let's give John Phillips some thanks in glory for reminding us that we got the stake in our hands of the cross of Jesus Christ. And we are under new management. So our old boss is still there. And he's still telling us to do all these things from one list, but we are opened up to the possibility of life in the new list. But every day, that stake must go in the heart again because it resets like Groundhog's Day at midnight, or at 2:00, or at 4:30, I don't know. But every day, like, again I got to walk? Yeah, you got to walk it out. And we would love to think that the longer we've walked with Christ, the more immune we would be to his schemes. But it isn't so. We need him every hour. We need him every second. And the answer, he makes clear, Paul does, in Galatians, isn't going to be more rules, but a closer relationship. Because our tendency would be to say, well then, there we go. Well then, no, this after this, this after this, and I am going to just legislate myself to Holy living.
See also, the entire reason Paul wrote the book of Galatians. If you're in the spirit, you're not under the law. So more rules is not going to be your saving grace. A closer relationship, however, will be. So as the team prepares to come, as Solomon comes to minister through music, let me tell you what Colossians, Chapter 3 continues to say to us. To move us into the walking with the Spirit, which is what Paul says is the difference maker between the works of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit, the works of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit, the hinge is walking with the spirit. Eugene Peterson, in the message translation says, it's living a freely, lightly animated and motivated life with the Holy Spirit of God inside of you.
So it's not Moses's Ten Commandments. I'm going to carry these around and never sin again. You won't make it till Thursday. You're probably sinning right now, you know. But to take part in the dance of the Trinity, light on your toes, energized and motivated, why would God not just take away? Because then you wouldn't have to have humility, the humility it takes to keep walking with him daily, keep showing up for that and using the means of grace we've been given, which are... all right, now Colossians, 3. And let, someone say let. Let Everybody say let. Let. The word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing... someone say: one another. In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.
What four things will help us to not need more rules, but to have a closer relationship and produce the Fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh? These four: Scripture, siblings, singing, and the Savior. We need scripture to guide us. We need siblings in the family of God to motivate us and to hold us accountable. We need songs, the singing, melodies, psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, and then that other music that just is the music of your own devotional life, light and energized, motivated, and dancing with the Holy Spirit in you. And doing all the things your hands, your little hands, put your hands up. Think about your hands. What are they going to do this year? What will they touch this year? If you do it all, if you say at all...
In the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, well Lord, what could possibly, at the end of this year be something we did that we'll regret, if it was done in your name. So may we, as your people, at the outset of this new year, be guided by your truth, be protected as a part of your family, have the soundtrack of praise, all with our eyes on Jesus. That's my prayer of your people this year. And I pray that if even one person listening to this doesn't have a relationship with you, hasn't become that new baby, is just in the flesh only, has no promise of heaven, in fact, has the promise of wrath and hell, which for all of us, is where we head unless we've been saved, I pray for a radical work of your spirit to bring to life those today.
If that's you I'm describing, I'm going to pray a prayer because the Bible says we confess with our mouths, we believe in our hearts. And if you would like to trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross and in coming from the grave, and then not look to that next party, that next high, that next thing that cannot bring you joy, I want you to pray this with me. Church family, pray it with us.
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner and can't fix myself. Please come into my heart, make it your home, help me to follow you, to walk with you. Walk with you. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for heaven. Thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus' name.