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Levi Lusko - The Kick


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The series is called Once a Man, Twice a Child if you're just jumping in now. We're talking about the seasons of life and what to do about them. I heard that there are three stages to life, three phases, you could say, that really summarize all of life with the sweeping brush stroke. Here's all of life in three phases. Are you ready? Are you sick of these yet? No. All right, three phases of life: number one, when you're young. When you're young, the good news is you have time and you have energy. The bad news is you have no money, right? Then the second phase of life is middle age. The good news is you have some money now and you have energy still. The bad news is you don't have any time. Third and final phase of life is when you're old. When you're old, you finally have money. You have time, only now you have no energy.

So that is really the conundrum of life. And we're going to look in Joshua chapter 14 as someone who, no matter what season he found himself in, he knew just what to do, and the same principles that guided his life are there for you too. Title of my message is The Kick. Just to get into the spirit of the talk, could you kick somebody besides you? Just lovingly, in Jesus' name, just give them a little kick. In case they didn't know what the title was, they'll now know with a bruised shin, the kick. And here's what we find in Joshua 14, jumping in in verse 6. So I'm going to say "Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh".

You're probably wondering what people group was he from. He's a Kenizzite, said to him, "'You know what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was 40 years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land, and I brought him back a report according to my convictions. But my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord, my God, wholeheartedly. So on that day, Moses swore to me the land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever because you have followed the Lord, my God".

Say the next word out loud with me, "whole-heartedly. Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for 45 years since the time he said this to Moses while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, 85 years old. I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out. I'm just as vigorous to go to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified. But, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just like he said.' Then Joshua blessed Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and he gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, whole-heartedly. Hebron", this is a parenthetical now, just details on details on details, "used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Annakites. Then the land had rest from war".

And Father, we're grateful for what is contained here for us to be able to read and to read about and to imagine and to picture. And we know Your word says clearly two things, that everything contained in scripture points us to Jesus and secondly that everything in scripture is for our learning. So we're meant to find Christ in it, but we're also meant to see our lives out of that light so that we could avoid the pitfalls and walk according to the promises for those who exercised obedience and faith and integrity. And we thank You for this amazing man, Caleb, and his example to us, and we pray that the power of Your spirit that guided him and gave him energy in that day would help us here in this moment. These same principles he lived out of would be a blessing to us as we follow after You like he did. And we ask that if anyone coming in today without God, without hope in this world, hurting, searching, empty, frustrated, not finding meaning in this life under the sun, we pray that because of what You have done for them when Your Son came to this world they would find what they're looking for, what they've been searching for all their lives, and they would leave different than they came. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.


The year was 1972, and the Olympics that summer were held in Munich, Germany. And the legend, the icon Steve Prefontaine, the Eugene, Oregon track star was finally competing in his first Olympics. He had set so many records here all across the country from coast to coast, many that stood for a very long time, and the world was watching with bated breath to see how he would do against the rest of the world. The 5,000 men's final was the big race, the big storied match for him, and he was definitely thought for sure by our entire country to be the one who was going to be wearing the gold and hearing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and all of that. And yeah, that's not how it went down. As you can see on YouTube, Steve Pre, as he was called, he kicked too soon. You see, a race is made up of three stages.

I guess you could boil it down to any number of stages if you include stop eating Doritos like six months out, like that's a stage. But you have essentially these ingredients in a race. You have to start, you have the route, and you have to kick, the start, the route, the kick. It's important that the start is clean, that you get off to a good start. And a good start, they say, is one that's not too fast. Apparently it's incredibly difficult to not take off at a pace that you can't sustain because of the fact that there's the adrenaline, of course. And if it's a marathon you're running, you're surrounded by so many people, maybe people who are in better shape than you who plan to do different mile times than you are. And so it's important to find groups and have a plan, and they say an iPod playlist that has a beat per minute at the rate you actually want to start out. So you want a good start, and it probably needs to be slower than you would like.

Then the second is the route. The route is where you're doing the bulk of the run. This is where you're going to run your race. The route is where you need that consistency, whatever it is you know that you need to do to leave enough stamina from the start and now the route to carry into the most important, arguably, stage of the race. Because at the end of the day, what is a race if not getting across the finish line before anybody else? So the final stage would be the kick. The kick now is where you've got out, hopefully, and didn't go too fast, make that beginner's mistake, and you've run your race in your lane. You've battled the squirrels in your head, #IDeclareWarBook. And you've not gotten into the paralysis that comes from overanalysis or any of the other things that can cause high-performance athletes in critical situations to choke. But now you finally, hopefully, within kind of the final piece, the final bit, you could say, homestretch of the race, you're now going to kick it in to high gear, the kick. This is not Inception. It's not the chair falling down. This is a different kick. It's the kick that now says, OK, now let's use what we saved.

Let's use what we saved to kick it into high gear and step it up. Whether that means even shaving 10 seconds off your mile time for the final few miles in the marathon or whatever it is, now we're going to go a little bit faster. We saved something in the tank. We have some more to draw on from the muscle fibers. We're going to hopefully feel the rush of adrenaline and the release of the happy dopamine, and the runner's high is going to help us mask the difficulty we're having continuing doing this. And so now it's the kick, and it leads to, the ultimate expression of the kick would, of course, be that sprint to the finish where you say shut up nervous system. Don't tell me anything. Just don't even talk. We know. We know everything. Everything's screaming, but in the last bit of the kick you just get that body across that tape. Life's a little bit like that. We in the series have talked about why it's so important that we get off to a good start. Seek now your creator in the days of your youth. Everything that comes to life that you're building, it only can rest on the foundation that you lay. The seeds that we sew when we're young, they will reproduce after their kind in our lives.

Don't make the mistake of building your life on sand. Build it on solid rock. And as you're doing so, it's probably going to feel slower than you think because these wonderful things that God wants to ripen and mature, the enemy will always try and get us to see shortcuts to them. I should be going faster than this. I should be going faster than this. You'll hear it in your head in the excitement of being young and thinking you get a pass on these young years, and I've got to sow my wild oats, and look what they're doing, and this is the party I was invited to. But no, just slow and steady, that consistent, this is the plan that I got to carry out. This is the call that God's put on my life. I'm going to honor him. I'm going to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. You've got to get off to a good, clean start. Get out of those blocks. Trust your spikes. And then the route, run that race. Run that race. Run that race. Day after day, day after day, we're going to trust God. We're going to seek God. We're going to gather together with God's people. We're going to be in community. We're going to take God's word. We're not going to walk in the path of the wicked or sit in the seat of the scornful or stand in the way of, we want to do life with those who are thinking and looking and valuing the same way that we are.

This is the plan. We got to stick to the plan. But all of it is moving forward to the time when it's now, man, if there's any go-go beans left, let's eat them. If there's any coal to be shoveled into that fire, let's do it. We were going to kick. Now let's kick. Back to Steve. Back to Pre, Steve Prefontaine. He notoriously was an athlete who could gut it out, and he loved pain and he loved inflicting pain upon people. He had this habit of just setting a blistering pace, and he was just extraterrestrial in his ability to take it and to smoke people. And this worked for him time and time again, and in the men's 5,000 meter final he thought it would work for him once again. And so you saw him almost kicking it up, kicking it up, kicking it up. And then there came a point when it just broke him. And he, in escalating again, was competing against athletes that saw his move and raised him another. You have to understand Pre. They called him the athletic Beatle of the day. The way there was the Beatlemania and craze, there was this cult of following Pre. The stadium was full of people wearing shirts that said go Pre.

And tragically three years later, he died in a car accident right close to the campus where he ran under the coaching of Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike there in Eugene. And you can go, and it's all very much still sad and still fresh and still appreciation for the wild spirit of this amazing man. But on this day, his kick came too soon. And at the end of the race when it was critical, he had been out in front so much of it, and yet at 200 meters to go, the time when he should have been kicking now and accelerating towards the finish line, he had no answer for what the men around him were doing. And so he crossed the finish line fourth by this much and missed out on a medal because he kicked too soon. I think it's an apt analogy for us in what we want to avoid spiritually. For don't we see the exact opposite exhibited by this man Caleb who is at a time in his life when so many people would just be saying ride off into the sunset. 85 years old, it's time for you to go solve a good puzzle. And yet here he comes dragging his oxygen tank. You can almost hear it. And what does he have to say as he leans Yoda like upon his cane?

Point me in the direction of the fight because I've got some giants to take down. Give me my mountain. Here he is at the homestretch of all homestretches, and what did he have, precisely what God wants for each of us as we near the end of the finish line, a kick to kick it into another high gear and to sprint towards the finish for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus on our lives, not to phone it in the end but to give it all we got all the way until the end into the final chapter. And Caleb is certainly an inspiring example of what it looks like to have that kick still when it counts. I think it's interesting that we as a nation are living longer and longer. They say the life expectancy now is 78.7 years old for us as Americans. We're living longer and longer, and yet we are retiring younger and younger. Did you know that 118 years ago, the year 1900, the average age that a person retired from work in this country from the workforce was 74? 74 years of age is when you would say, looking at your career, I'm ready to hang up my spurs. At 74, that was the average.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the average age for retirement today in America is not 65. That's what we think of. It's 63. 63, on average, is when we say, you know what, this is it. We're hanging it up now. We're retiring from the workforce, from this career at 63. So we're living longer and longer, but we're retiring younger and younger. But according to TD Ameritrade in a survey done amongst millennials, oh us millennials, right? Always like there's a gasp when you... Amongst millennials, 65, that's not young enough. 63, what's the average today, that's not young enough. According to millennials, on average when asked when do you want to be retired by, the consensus seems to be 56 years of age. The average millennial looking forward to their life. They think I am ready to be done with my job by 56, which of course begs the question, and then what, and then what, and then what? Because you're already kind of like wanting to work freelance and you're already kind of wanting to be able to stand up at your stand-up desk and you're already wanting to be able to sit on a yoga ball and you're already really put out if you're asked to, I don't know, work and if there's not gummy bears and if your mom can't come to the job interview.

I know there's already like so much that's hard about the job that it's just an interesting thing to think, OK, so once you've got that job on your BOSU ball, now you want it to be done with it at 56. I'm having fun, of course, but that is what is happening in our culture today. At 56 I want to be retired. OK, but since you're going to be living so much longer than previous generations, I mean, there was a time not too long ago when the average life expectancy for a new baby, you hold a baby in your hands. On average, how long is this baby going to live, and the average was 50 years old. There was a time in this country not too long ago when 50 was the life expectancy. We got 78.7. But out of that 78.7, I don't want to be working for more than 56. Now would you like it to be 73 degrees or 74 degrees in your perfect world? But this is our culture. This is where we are at. Why? Listen to me very carefully. Because the culture we're living in wants you to kick too soon and settle for far too little of a reward. Because when the kick comes too soon, I'm using all I've got now towards this.

Let me tell you something. It's a false finish line, and the reward is not the true reward that you actually are hoping that it would be. And that's what we need to have our eyes opened up to. If we're going to live as Jesus followers in the midst of this world, we have to see the gods that people in this world are worshipping. They wouldn't use that language, but what their valuing what their master passion is, what their priority and ranking is. And we have to say if we're Jesus followers, what are we wanting of our lives? What are we looking forward to, and what do we want? Because the two, let me tell you something, are very different. What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that the attitude God wants you to adopt is the opposite of what the world says you deserve. The attitude that God wants you to adopt is pretty much the exact opposite of what the world is telling you you deserve, and you're living steeped in this culture now where the pervasive mentality says I should only have to work for as little as possible before I retire and hang that up so I can do whatever I want.

That's the ultimate, of course, expression of retirement. I don't have to go to work. I don't have to be somewhere where someone says I have to be. I don't have to do things I don't want to do. That's what we want. We want emancipation. We want autonomy. We want no one to be the boss of us. We want to be completely the master of our fate and the captain of our soul and to go where we want to go and sing where we want to sing and wear Chacos all year round, and chia seeds will rain from the sky as we go around all the national parks in our vans. It's this idea of I'll do anything. I'll do everything. I'm going to Europe. I'm going abroad. I'm going to retire from this ball-and-chain horrible mentality that we have about what work is so I can be retired. Man, when I'm retired, when I can just retire, that's the god of our generation I think, early retirement, early retirement. If I could just retire early, but let me tell you something. This idol that we are as a culture worshipping and we're being fed, and there's a massive marketing machine built up, billions and billions and billions of dollar implications to sell this to us that work is somehow some terrible thing, and if you could just retire, life would be good because you'd be able to live your dream and do whatever you want.

Let me tell you something. This is a counterfeit finish line. And you'll kick too soon to get to this finish line, and it leads to a false Eden, this perfection, this image, this Garden of Eden that we associate rightly with what we actually wish life was like. And we have in our heads what evil's like because we somehow know as we look out at the world and the pain in it and the horrors in it and the darkness in it and the corruption in it, and we do see heartless corporation and we do see evil and we do see injustice, and so we're rejecting that because of what we're longing for, but our solution does not fix the problem. Because to reject, well, if I just didn't have to work, then I'd be good because then I could be nice to all the kittens that I see and I could do whatever it is you would say that would somehow bring you back to Eden and help you create the world that deep down your heart yearns for. But it's a counterfeit Eden. It's a false finish line, and it cannot deliver the reward that you're hoping that it will give to you. A sermon in a sentence, when you stop taking new ground, you go in it.

Death is the only reward for not taking that new ground that God wants you to take that we see here exhibited in Caleb where there's this pioneering spirit. There's no thought of if I could just retire, if I could just stop doing whatever someone else tells me to do. Here he is reporting back to God, reporting back to his commanding officer, who actually was his friend. And how hard is that at times to work for a friend of yours? At one time you were equal but now he's over him, but he comes with humility. He comes with deference. He comes with respect. He comes with honor. He comes with aye, aye, sir, and yet there's this fierce determination to walk in all the promises that God had for him. And what did that look like for Caleb? A little bit of context would help. Jot it down. Number 13 would be a great read this week. As you see Joshua and Caleb, it's almost like a movie.

Flashback. They were back, just young men now, and they were both serving under Moses, the great man of God. And they were a part of a 12-man contingency sent in to scout out the Promised Land, to scope it all out before all the rest of the Israelites came in to take what God had brought them out of Egypt to enter, fulfilling hundred-year-old promises given to Abraham that this was going to be the place where Israel was established, where ultimately Jesus would die and rise and ascend to heaven so that there could be a blessing given to every people, every tribe, every tongue, every nation forever. So there are heaven and hell implications to all of this that was going down that day. So they were told, go in and check it out. See what the fortifications were. Bring back some produce if you can because we'd love some fresh fruits and vegetables, and also tell us what it's like there.

So they all come back, and Joshua and Caleb, two of them, they give a good report. They say it's amazing. It's better than Moses, Moses, you don't even know. It's better than that. God said it was flowing with milk and honey. This place is like Willy Wonka on steroids. There's Oompa Loompas. There's a river of chocolate. Literally they're like, what are we even talking about? Let's just go take it. And they said, but is any bad guys in there? Is anybody fighting? They're like, oh yeah, there's some. Now to be clear, there were enormous giants living everywhere and tons of people, and Jericho is a walled city and all of this. But Joshua and Caleb, they weren't fazed by that. The other 10 were. The other 10 spies were like, no, we shouldn't do it. There's all kinds of, it's going to be too much work. Let's just go back to Egypt.

And Joshua and Caleb, are you kidding me? Does anybody remember the power of our God, split the Red Sea, brought us out with plagues, drowned horse and rider in the sea, fed us with bread, water from a rock. Are we talking about the same God here? What's a giant when there's a god? Man, let me ask you the question. Do you look at the obstacles or do you see them as an opportunity to trust God? And so here's 10 going our hearts melt before them, and here's Joshua and Caleb saying God's going to make their hearts melt before us. And so they say, let's do it. The people sided with the 10 and rejected the testimony of the two and said let's kill Moses and go back to Egypt. And when Joshua and Caleb objected they said we're going to kill you too. And God intervened and spoke up and said, OK, you don't want to go in? None of you will. You're going to march around in exile until you all die one by one in the desert. I won't make you go in my promised land. You don't have to. Just go march around until you die.

So they did, all of them. But they had said, God, what about our kids? You don't care about our kids bringing us into a place we don't... So God said, you'll all die but your kids won't. I'll bring your kids in. You won't get to see it. And the only adults that would get to go in with your kids will be Joshua and Caleb. So 40-year holding pattern, they march in the desert until an entire generation perished. Now Joshua and Caleb are old men themselves, and they and they alone get to lead the nation successfully into the country. And there's campaign after campaign after campaign to take out and fight and to take what was given to them by God. And at the end of it all, they've taking so much of it, Caleb remembers a prophecy God had spoken to him through Moses that when they got in at the end of the day, this was going to be the specific area he would get to live in.

And here he is. He's fought all these battles. Every right in the world tells him to just build a nice little house somewhere and just go drink some warm milk or something, dig his teeth out at night, and not Caleb. Caleb says I feel as strong as I ever have, and I'm ready to trust God for another fight. He kept taking new ground. That's how he was forever young, I'm telling you, because he kept taking new ground. He kept taking new ground, They weren't putting this boy in the ground because he had something to live for. He had fight in his spirit. He that is always being born has no time to die. And every day was a new day of birth for him. Every day was a new day to trust God again and to trust God and fight again. The guy had more fight in him than 20 guys half his age, 85 years young. I've been trusting God all these years he says to his best friend from way back when. He says so Joshua, sir, give me my mount and point me to the direction of where the giants are. Maybe he's even a little bit seeing. He said, just point and tell me where. I'll go find them. I'll go gum them to death. I'm not scared. I'm coming through.

And you just look at this and you just see the guy. He had the kick when it counted because he knew where the real finish line was. And the problem with being fooled by a false finish line and craving a counterfeit Eden is you might just get what you hoped for instead of deep down what you were born for. And a life without purpose, when you don't have a purpose to live for, there's not a purpose to living. A life without meaning, a life without purpose is a life without life. The book's called 12 Rules for Life. The author's named Jordan Peterson. And on this subject I read a quotation about retirement, and you talked about kind of what we're talking about, this idolization in our day of retirement. If I could just retire early, be young and retire. He said this, quote. "One 40-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self", of course perpetuated by this marketing machine. "'I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach drinking margaritas in the sunshine.' That's not a plan. That's a travel poster. After eight margaritas you're fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense you're bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year or less, you're pathetic. It's just not a sustainable approach to later life".

What is he saying? He's saying that's not a plan. That's not purpose. You see, not doing something is not doing something. What are you going to do when you don't work? Oh, , whatever I want. It's going to be great. Our culture is basically telling us to treat the backstretch like it's the homestretch, but then when we get to the actual homestretch we have nothing to give because our culture is telling us that what we should be doing on what is the actual homestretch, the twilight years, the golden years of life before it all ends is to, when you feel the homestretch, you should be sprinting. You should be doubling down. You should be asking for your next mount. What are you doing? Oh, it's just travel and wine and fishing, and it's grand. So we're sauntering down the homestretch with our wine collection and our fishing boat and our days filled with beaches that we lie on and trips that we're planning, and this is what we're hoping can handle the weight of our soul, but it's a counterfeit Eden. It's a false finish line, and it leaves us without a kick when we actually need to be accelerating.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, and didn't nail that one. He said, "The mystery of human existence lies not just in staying alive but in finding something to live for". Here's what God knows that you need to know. Your fastest pace should be at the end of your race. Your fastest pace should be at the end of your race, because by then you have all the accumulated wisdom, all the strength, all the pain you've gone through, all the trials you've walked through, all the friendships, all the scars. You know where some of the landmines are, so now you should really be hustling. By now you should be really hitting your stride. By now you should really be elongating your pace a little bit, hustling, tunnel vision on that finish line. That's our goal all the way through, all the way into God's presence. Come on, let's be a Caleb. Let's be a Caleb generation. Let's go live in the hill country. Let's go fight some giants. Let's go take some new land. And that's what he shows us that there's hope for us to actually do.

God also knows that when we're not moving forward, we start getting in trouble. When we're not moving forward, we start getting in trouble. I mean, ask Noah. We need a cause. We need passion. And listen, this message isn't the antiretirement message. This message is to live in the will of God. That's this. And if God calls us to retire, we don't stop working. What we need is a theology of work. What we need is to understand that God never built us to work for the weekend. That's a lie from the devil to get you to buy a lie, that somehow it said somewhere that Monday's got to be drudgery. And if only we can get to, oh, Wednesday's the hump day. But Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, that somehow if we could just get to, oh TGIF, it's Friday. Wow, man, now it's, and somehow that that's more life filled than what God intends there to be every single day of your life. Come on, believe God for a vibrant Monday. Come on, let's trust God for His Holy Spirit to be honest on the Wednesday. Let's trust him for a sanctified Thursday and for miracles on Tuesday.

And you know what, when it does get to Friday and then it moves us into the weekend, hello, it's only a Sabbath when the day before it wasn't. It's only a day off when you're resting from something. It's just slovenly if that's just every day. And that's how we get this theology of work. But first, Noah, because I brought him up, so I should finish. He had this amazing cause, this epic quest, this God-given call, and as long as there was a mission, something bigger than himself, the guy was unstoppable. Doesn't care about haters. Getting animals from every nook and cranny of the earth, right? What about the dinosaurs? Way to go, Noah. You forgot them. Like the Christian jokes, right? But the guy is on fire until he doesn't have a cause.

Now maybe God would give him a new one if he'd asked for it, but apparently Noah just took it upon himself during some of the lonely days on the ark to plan out his retirement a little bit. I'm going to put a vineyard over here and a vineyard over there, another vineyard over here. Uh oh, right? Read Genesis. You'll see. It didn't go well for Noah. He ended up drunk and naked at the same time, not a good look on anybody. His son found him. It was so embarrassing. Why? Because a hobby in your week, fantastic. But when your entire day every day is nothing but hobby, train wreck, because we were meant to work. We were built to work. And whether God calls you to retire from a career or not retire from a career is irrelevant. You were created to work. Listen, you've got to have a proper theology of work, so let's do that. F-I-R-E, that's what we're going to spell. First is it's fulfilling. Work is fulfilling, and that's why it was a part of the original order. Before sin entered, work was there. In fact, the Bible begins with work. "In the beginning, God created". What's that? Work, and everything we do, we've said in this series, is meant to be a creative assignment.

So work is fulfilling. It was there before there was sin. Adam and Eve were tending the garden. God would show up at the end of the day, really the beginning of the next day because the day began at sunset, and they would talk about the day behind, talk about the day in front of him. What did you do today? Well, I named him rhinoceros. Well done, Adam. And he was working. They were working. God modeled it by taking that day off. After six days of work, he rested from his labors, and it stood apart. If your whole life's just a holiday, you don't have a holiday. If your whole life's a vacation, there's no vacation. So we work and then we rest from our work to trust God and to honor God and to recharge our batteries. And it's a beautiful thing, but it's fulfilling. It's not just a part of life before the fall. It will be life after the curse is removed. I'm going to need to see a verse for that.

All right, objector, hypothetical, but objector. Look what Revelations says on the subject. "No longer will there be any curse, and his servants shall serve him". Work. There's a service responsibility you're going to have in the kingdom. Work in the Garden of Eden, the actual one, work when heaven is restored on this earth again. Why? Because we were built to create. We were built to work. We were built to put what God into us, to see it coming out of us. F, fulfilling. We're spelling FIRE. What does I stand for? I don't remember. I stands for identity. Identity is who you are. And listen to me. Your work should not be your identity. It should be because of your identity. This is why we have midlife crisis. This is why post-retirement depression. This is why so many people when they lose a job, they tank in their morale and many times take their lives as well because their identity got wrapped up in what they were doing when that was never meant to be. Who you are was never meant to be about what you do.

Your identity should be just what we just said, servants of the Lord, and what flows out of that? What do we do? What does a servant do: whatever the master tells him to do that day. So if we're doing this here, if we're doing that, I'm in this career, if it's time to hang that up, the only time you should step away from a career, though, is because God's telling you to step forward in your calling that He has on your life. And we'll talk more about that next week. What does that actually look like? How do you actually accelerate when you don't have that energy physically? What does that really mean? We'll talk more about that next week as we come to the finale of the series and it all crests and it's going to be very powerful, but the mentality is we're going to continue to work and serve God how we can and how He's called us to all the way to the end because our identity is servants, and servants serve. We all work. We all are going to do what he's called us to do, because just to sit around all day is to die on the inside. When you're not taking new ground, you go in it. So we're going to continue to advance. We're going to continue to fight. We're going to kick towards that true and proper finish line.

R stands for reward. The reward awaits us, and this motivates us. So a runner runs knowing there's going to be a medal. We should run knowing there's going to be an awards ceremony because there will be. You get to heaven based on Jesus. How you're rewarded in heaven is connected to how you serve him on this earth. And you've been given gifts and you've given abilities, and Jesus said to not use them is to bury them in the ground. And that is to have Jesus come and say, well, what did you do with all that I gave to you and you be able to say golf, a lot of that, unless you're working as a golfer, different sermon. That's awesome. But you see what I'm saying, that we're not presenting to him our hobbies as an answer for what we did with this life that he gave to us. Reward and not expecting him to reward that. E stands for eternity. Eternity, that every one of us are all the time conscious of eternity, reminding and recalibrating our hearts that this world, this life is not our true home. This is a temporary thing.

So I'm not going to lay up treasure here. We're going to lay up treasure in heaven, and we're going to use that treasure to see it leverage to depopulate hell and advance God's kingdom. That's the theology of work. Then it takes on new meaning. Money takes on meaning. Work takes on new meaning because we have the opportunity as we work and create, as we do these things to be bumping into and be around and be in situations with people who desperately need the life that's in our lives. So we're on assignment. Now there's new purpose and dignity, isn't there, in every assignment? Picking up a broom, riding on a rocket ship, no difference in God's sight if it's done to the glory of God. Next, I just encourage you when you show up to work in whatever capacity: you're a nutritionist or you're a physical-fitness trainer or you're working at a software company and you're crunching code all day, say to God reporting for duty, reporting for duty today. Say it to your boss too. They'll fall out of their chair. Your boss, she will just die on the spot. Reporting for duty, that sweet spirit.

I'm just telling you, there's just something about, I don't do it so she'll die. But God, you've sent me here. What is it for, and not just the dignity of actual work itself and how good it is and how sweet it is and how pure it is and how it's a part of answering prayers? What do you mean? Give us this day our daily bread, you're praying someone has a passion for baking. You are. You're praying someone opens a grocery store. You're praying someone feels a purpose in driving a truck to do deliveries all day. You're praying for shipping and receiving and farming and agriculture and water, all these things that are involved in answering such a simple prayer as give us our daily bread. Vocation is honorable. It's powerful. It's a calling of God in your life, but also the mentality that says if I don't feel specifically called to retire from this career, if I can stay in it and create wealth for the kingdom, that's an assignment too.

And many of you will feel the call of God on your life to go into business, go into Wall Street, to go into whatever it is you're doing, real estate or investing, and you'll be able to create wealth for the kingdom. That's a way you can serve God that's valid and valued by your Heavenly Father as you work in such a way shrewd and good at business and you can do perhaps for others can't and see what others don't in speculation, and you're able to create wealth not just for this life. Your family will be blessed. You'll walk in God's blessing, but to say and see God do more with it, to touch people, to expand the borders of his kingdom and reach more lives, people, as we as this church are always going to have more vision than resources. So the opportunity for people to say I could lay aside a career and take that early retirement, or by staying in it I can compound and exponentially grow a resource that can be then used to feed the hungry and see the gospel preached to the poor.

Then that's the calling of God on my life. It's a purpose. It's something to get up for that's going to keep me fighting new giants. And I think it's an incredible thing when we can partner together, all of us, in what God has uniquely called us to do to see his kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven. Now why did I choose FIRE as my acronym spelling this out here for this? You maybe know, maybe don't know. It's actually one of the big schools of thought in early retirement kind of dream. They call it early retirement or FIRE early retirement, and it's kind of this movement to get people to see that you can retire by 30 because 74 was too old and 65 was too old and 63 was too old. So there's actually among many millennials, the 56 is what they're saying, but even many are younger are saying, no, no, let's retire by 30. All you have to do is get a million dollars by the time you're 30. And there's websites. Mr. Mustache will tell you exactly how. And I'll tell you, actually a lot of the things and techniques and tips on there we can use for kingdom good as awesome things in our lives.

However, the goal is retire by 30, say goodbye to your career. Then what? Do whatever you want. The New York Times did an article on one man who did exactly that. He was a pharmacist, made $150,000 a year. That was his salary. And he managed, using some of these techniques that so many hundreds of thousands are adhering to, and they're all over the dark corners of Reddit giving each other tips and tricks on how to get there faster. Get your million so you can cash out and just go be your own boss and blow like a tumbleweed around the world doing whatever you want to do. And The New York Times did this story on how to be 30 and a millionaire, and they asked this particular gentleman who, at the age of 38, is retired and doing whatever he wants to do because of how terrible the pharmaceutical industry was, and he didn't like being a pharmacist because drugs are evil and people are evil and everything was terrible and he hated every single minute of what he did.

And so they said, OK, well, what are you doing right now? And for a couple paragraphs he talked a lot about Rubik's Cubes and getting his marathon time down to a sub 3 hour and some great stuff in there, some good hobbies in there that's he's taking up and cooking and ironing and some trips that he's done. He was on some beaches in Florida. And they said, OK, but break it down. What did you do today? And he said, I read this to you with a heart broken. He said, "Today I woke up on my own. I didn't have any alarm clock telling me I had a responsibility. Then I read the news online for 30 minutes, went on a seven-mile run. I took a nap, but then I lied there watching the ceiling fan spin around for a while". He said he's watching movies from a website that ranks the best thousand movies ever made, and he's taking a lot of his time to watch all of them. He's watched 600 of them so far, so he has a lot of work to do. He said, and I finish with this. "My life is so much better than it was before. I just hope everybody can find this kind of peace".

And I hope and pray that this man finds true peace. But imagine standing before God. You were given this life. You don't deserve it. He gave it to you. And when you went astray, you didn't deserve reconciliation. Jesus bought it for you with His blood on the cross. You are not your own if you're a Jesus follower. This resurrection power was given to you and a great commission to share and to steward and deliver the glory of God so others might know Jesus. And you have this one little life, and imagine standing before God to give an account for the deeds done on the body and offering him the thousand films you watched and the Rubik's Cube you finally figured out. Thank you for bleeding out on the cross for me. I can do this Rubik's Cube with my eyes closed. That is a tragedy. Average is OK unless you're destined for greatness, and then average becomes a colossal tragedy. We have one life, and it is racing by. And the finish line will be here before you know it, and only what's done for Jesus will last. May we have the heart to follow the Lord steadfastly like Caleb. In Jesus's name.
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