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Levi Lusko - Choose Your Own Adventure



This is week four of our series of messages Mad About The House, where we're caring for what Jesus died for. And if you have a Bible, Mark 4 is where we're going to be. That's appropriate. Mark 4, week four. Title of my message is "Choose Your Own Adventure". "Choose Your Own Adventure". And let's read from scripture. This is Mark 4. We're going to read two different parts of this chapter. It say, "And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea".

This geography is significant, and so Mark's making sure we understand the picture in our minds. "Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching". And now we're about to read is, probably, the most famous of the parables. It says, "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some 30-fold, some 60, and some a hundred. And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear"!"

Now a little bit later, the disciples got Him alone and they said to Him, what did you mean when you said that. And they were honest there. I guarantee you when Jesus was teaching, they were all standing around trying to look really important, like, yeah you idiots listen up. This is good stuff here. He's like, sower went out to sow. And they're like, yeah, exactly. That's how I would've put it exactly. Sower went out to sow. And then later on, like, hey, I'm asking for a friend. What did you mean by that? Because, just curious.

I love the honesty when you finally would get it. Like, there was one time when Jesus was telling his disciples, you know exactly where I'm going, because he was going to leave this world, you know where I'm going, and you know how I'm going to get there. And he looked around. All the disciples were like, yes, we do. Trying to look deep, like, yes, we know. And when he finally got to Thomas, he looked at Thomas. Thomas goes, actually, we have no idea where you're going. We have no clue how you're going to get there. And Jesus looked to the rest of the disciples, and they were like, yeah, that's actually true. We were just faking.

But I love Thomas's honesty, because it gave occasion for Jesus to go ahead and give us some of the most important truth about haven't we ever get in John 14, about it being a place of many mansions and all the rest. Anyhow, so in this instance when the disciples asked what did He mean by it, Jesus said, here's what the deal is. Verse 14. "The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness".

One translation says tons of joy. But they have no root in themselves, so they endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some 30-fold, some 60, and some a hundred.

My childhood was spent obsessed for years with the idea of choosing my own adventure. I didn't just like books where I would read them from beginning to end and I would get exactly where the author wanted me to go. I really liked a series of books called the Choose Your Own Adventure series. How many of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? This is some children of the '80s action up in here. This is where you would read a part of the story, and you're following a guy scuba diving, you know? And he's in a submarine now. He's not a scuba diver anymore. Now he's in a submarine. He's a submarine guy, and he finds bubbles coming out of a crack in the core of the Earth. And it's like, do you explore the fissure and take a closer look, or do you keep going. You turn to page 7 if you want to explore. Turn to page 23 if you keep going.

And so you explore. You go in there, and all of the sudden lava's coming out. It was like, you die a terrible death. I liked it. I loved it. I collected all these books. I would read them, and I loved all the different endings. I love the idea that I get to choose my own adventure, where this plot goes. I get to be a part of the action. There was also a hotline you could call. There was a day, kids, when if there was a surge of power and all your clocks went out in your house, you'd have to set the clocks. So what did we do? We turned to our phones. And you're like, yeah, because there was a clock at... no, there was not a clock on the phones. You would use your phone to call time. This was a thing. The US Naval Observatory still does it. You can call to get the time.

But back in the day, every city had a number you'd call to know what the time was. At the tone, the time is. And then once you found out the time, you could set the clocks in your house by using your, you would call the time. This is, I know. It was like when dinosaurs were ruling the Earth. But where I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on the phone number you would call to call time, after the time it would also give you the weather. And after the weather, it would say press two to hear the joke of the day. And you could hear the joke of the day. But I wasn't interested in the joke of the day, because it would say, press three for today's choose your own adventure story. And so now, I would always go to three.

Oh, yes. I didn't care about the time. I didn't care about the weather. I didn't want some joke of the day, right? Some knock knock dad joke. I wanted the choose your own eventually. It's like, OK, now, some scenario. It was, like, you're in a cave. I'm like, oh I'm in a cave. You know, I'm seven years old. It's 1989. I'm in a cave. And you see a vine that you could use to swing. And you grab the vine. Do you press two to grab the vine? Press three to try and jump. You know, I grabbed the vine. Turns out it was a snake. You got bit in the face. You died. This is why I'm so messed up, you guys. This was my upbringing. But I loved the idea of choosing my own adventure. And that, Jesus says, is exactly what happens every time you encounter the preaching of God's Word. You are choosing your own adventure.

Now imagine the scene, because it will help you to understand what's happening. Jesus is in a crowd, and the crowd is pressing Him. The crowd is thrusting upon Him. It's estimated that there were as many as 15,000 people in this area at this time. And a crowd can crush. And a crowd can press. And we've seen Black Friday stories in our recent time where people have been crushed to death by crowds. It actually happens a lot all over the world. Many crushings that occur happen at religious festivals. Yearly, there are people who are crushed to death trying to get to religious observances in Mecca.

A few years back, hundreds of people were crushed in a crowd in Cambodia trying to get there. There was, I think, 75 people killed in Sheffield, England, at a soccer game when they were trying to press to get into the arena. There was a Pearl Jam concert once. Nine people were killed in the press trying to listen to Pearl Jam. That was their first mistake, trying to listen to Pearl Jam. There was 11 people killed once at a The Who concert, just trying to hear the soundcheck, trying to get closer.

Now, when we think about being trampled by a crowd or a stampede of people, we think of falling over and then all those mindless people marching over you. But I found out, did a little research, that a majority of the people who are killed in a stampede die standing on their feet. Because the crush and the press actually can become such a thing to where you're lifted off the ground, and you actually get all of the oxygen squeezed out of your lungs, out of your chest, while you're standing there. Sometimes, people get blown out of their shoes by the press of people that all of a sudden happen.

Now, it's not usually running away from something, it's running to something. More people die when the crowd is trying to get to something. So it's not the panic of getting away, it's trying to get to something. Like the Brooklyn Bridge. Did you know that when the Brooklyn Bridge was opened in May of 1883, 12 people died seven days after they opened it because nearly 20,000 people, at one time, were trying to stand on this incredible thing, the Brooklyn Bridge? And 12 people were crushed to death by trying to get to something, to see the Brooklyn Bridge.

And I guess someone had yelled fire at one point. A lot of bad things happened. But I'm really passionate about the Brooklyn Bridge, so talk to me later. I'll tell you all about. I've got a whole leadership talk I did for our staff at one point on the Brooklyn Bridge and making connections, and it's just fascinating. But Jesus would attract lots of people. And the Bible tells us at one point, so many people tried to get around Jesus to get a healing. Or to get free lunch. Or to listen to what He had to say. Or because, you know, someone tweeted that He was with Kanye at this thing. And everyone just showed up there. It was a joke, people. Settle down. Right, it's like, Kanye, I didn't know that.

Jesus walks, it's true. They were there together. But they would just show up there where He was. If they heard He was there, he wouldn't even be there. They would just show up there. And there a point when Jesus literally thought someone was going to get crushed to death because so many people were trying to get into this one area. And so what He did here in this moment was: He knew if I got into this boat, I'd get away from the people. They wouldn't crush any more, because they would see I'm out in the water. And I could preach a sermon to them from the water. It would be good for their safety, but He was also leaning into the acoustics of what would be a naturally occurring amphitheater. His voice would bounce across the water and cascade up the hillsides.

And so all these people, he was leaning into technology, y'all. This was Multisite before there was Multisite. He didn't have a microphone, but He was creating a natural occurring area where more people could hear Him than could be heard. And there, he began to broadcast the story. Now when we think about broadcast, we think about what we're doing on Hillsong TV right now, Fresh Life. We think about what we do when we send our webcast out to Church Online. We think about broadcasting the message to our podcast or to a radio show. But the actual use of the word, originally, was an agricultural term that farmers would use. As they would grab a bag of seed and begin to toss it, they were broadcasting.

This was the original ABC, y'all. Broad, always be connecting. Sending out the seeds. Sometimes they would put a big sack on the back of a donkey and poke holes in it, and then send the donkey walk, broadcasting seeds out, and the seed would land in different places. What Jesus is telling these people is that as He's preaching, He's broadcasting the message to them. But then He gives us the ability to look at the crowd through his glasses and see what was happening on the heart level as they each heard the message.

Now, crowds can do lots of different things. You think about the power of a crowd. Of course, we talked a minute ago about some bad things, the dangers of a crowd. Losing your life to try and get a deal on a Vizio does not seem like a good deal to me. But you think about how a crowd in our day can be sourced. Something can be crowdsourced. Something you could never do yourself can be done by a crowd almost effortlessly, a.k.a. Wikipedia. In our day something can be crowdfunded. You think about Kickstarter and Indiegogo, how you can get a crowd of people to work together cooperatively to finance something. There's also a way to please a crowd. It's called nachos. That's a crowd pleaser.

Never go wrong with Mexican food. But Jesus is offering us not crowdsourcing or crowdfunding or crowd-pleasing. He's offering us crowd dissecting. He's allowing us to dissect a crowd and to see, from his perspective, that every single person who hears the message does not walk away with the same experience. Two people can experience the exact same atmosphere, hear the exact same message, and walk away completely different in what they take away from it. Same seed, different soil. And what I want to do is, maybe, challenge how you view coming to church. I want to challenge how you view listening to a Bible study on YouTube. I want to challenge, maybe, how much of it lies, the onus of responsibility lies on the part of the person on stage, here we are now, entertain us, and how much of it lies, actually, on you to drive and determine what you get out of it.

The adventure that you get to walk away telling a story. But now, of course, I'm not saying it's not my job to faithfully preach the word of God and to do a good job of presenting to the whole council of scripture. Of course that's the case. But when the same message, faithfully delivered from God's word, hits two different people, I'm telling you, it has everything to do with the heart condition of the person hearing the message. So it's not just on Louie Giglio to inspire us. It's not just on Carl Lentz to fire us up. It's not just on Andy Stanley to help us become better leaders or Beth Moore to help us see something in Galatians that we didn't see before. It's not just on Chad Veach to encourage us with the goodness of God. It's on you to have the heart that's good soil that can receive the seed. With a mentality, listen to me, not just to know, but the mentality is to grow.

That I want to take what's deposited in my heart and do something with it. I don't want to just be a hearer of God's Word, I want to be a doer. Every time you listen to scripture, you're taking a test. And the test is, what am I going to do with what I've been given. Now this all, of course, comes to us in the series that we're in, Mad About The House. Let's fire ourselves up for, let's have a crazy passionate love for what Jesus died for, the local church. And we've been using the analogy of the house, as is often employed by the New Testament. This idea of the church is a house. We're planted in the house. We love this house. The idea of church has a table, where we all get to invite people in to enjoy the relationship of son and daughter to the King. And this idea of church as a feast, and we love that.

Now we're kind of shifting gears, you might say. You're like, wait a minute. I was a brick. Now I'm dirt. What's the deal? First I was a brick, now I've got, well, you know, they do make bricks from dirt, y'all. And so we're all right. Plus, the New Testament does shift almost effortlessly between the two like in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul, what did he say? We're God's fellow workers. We're his field. We're his building. So we're a field, and we're a building, which is true. They're both true. And here's where we're going, big idea of this message. The best thing you can do to protect the soul of your church is to protect the soil of your heart. If you will protect the soil of your heart, you're protecting the soil of this house. And I believe that God wants us all to see us as all having a part to play in our hearts being good soil to receive God's word with a mentality of multiplication.

I want to grow something beautiful in my life, whenever God deposits something in my heart. It's not just the job of the preacher, whoever's preaching, any of our pastors, my wife or I, any of the guests in here, but that we're saying, I'm ready to receive. I'm ready to do something with it. I want to act, and I want to live this out beautifully in the world. It's no good for us to come in here and have a good Sunday if we live ugly Mondays. I mean, we need to live beautifully out there in the world, and do our part to live it out.

All right. I want to talk to you just for a minute about some barriers to fruitfulness. Because if it's God's desire for us to be fruitful and multiply - that was the first command ever given, be fruitful and multiply. Every time we say open up our Bibles, what God's really saying is be fruitful and multiply this. What are the barriers to fruitfulness? And Jesus presents three. Three barriers to fruitfulness, the first of which is hard hearts. When your heart is a hard ground, Jesus described it as being like the sidewalk, the pavement, the wayside. That ground that's hard, the seed can't take root. And so what happens? The seed bounces across it, and then eventually sits upon it - where what happens? Here it is. Hear it? Ca-caw. Swoop. And the birds are able to swoop in and eat what doesn't get down into the earth, because it's just resting on top.

So when your heart's hard, what happens? You get robbed. Your hard heart robs you of the opportunity to receive the richness of that word. Now of course, there's a number of ways that hardness could manifest. The first, of course, would be the obvious. Defiantly hard. Stubbornly hard. I know I'm wrong, I don't even care. This is where God speaks to you about something, and you're just like nope, try again. No, no, no. We're not we're not dealing with that. Try again. Got to convince you about this, and you just straight up say no. And you almost treat God like it's a slot machine. If I just pull it again, I'll see a different combination of numbers on the screen. We've all been there. And God does something in you, and you're just like, wow, yeah. I'm not prepared to address that.

So next hard, stubbornly hard. He says, that guy's not good for you. This business deal, that's not for you. You should not be getting involved in this. You should not going there. And you just say nope. You put the armor plating down, and you just say I'm not deal with that I'm not listening to that. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la. Stubbornly hard. And the enemy is able to swoop in and steal that word. It never got to take root and build the beautiful thing in your life that God wanted to, because you were being defiant. We've all had those, because we think we know better. Because we're deceived in that moment. Because we're infatuated with the joy of sin in that instance, or we're just afraid of the cost of what it's going to take for us to change in that minute.

And so we just hold onto it, and we just grow. And eventually the conviction does go away. Why? Because the bird stole the seed away. And with it, the chance to change. But that's not the only way we can have hard hearts. We can also have a hardness in our hearts through listening to the sermon through someone else's ears. And that's a hardness of heart, as well. Jesus said, whoever has ears to, hear let him hear. And the idea is listen for your own change. Listen for your own transformation. But we've all been there. You're to a message, like, wow, that's convicting. Wish my sister heard this talk. Because man, she really needs that message. And we shrug away the conviction to the person sitting beside us or to the person who's not listening to this message.

Listen, God's got your sisters phone number too. He called you because he wants to change you. He wants to touch you. He wants to work in your life. So don't send the podcast to your brother-in-law. Don't think to yourself how bad your boss needs to hear the message on the temper or whatever it is. When God's speaking to you, the hardness of heart that says someone else needs it more than I do is a way for the enemy to swoop in like a bird and steal the seed that was meant to grow something beautiful in your life. There's another way we can have hard hearts, and that's through the hard hearts of tomorrow. You're right, God, but I'll do it later. You're right, God, but I'll change tomorrow.

That's totally true, I'm definitely going to get around to that. God speaks to you. That's for you, you need to sign up for that team. That's for you, you need to step out in faith and join one of those small groups. That's for you, you need to start giving. And you go, you know what, you are so right. You should be God. And you are. And I've just got a couple of things I'm going to straighten away, and then it'll be a good time to do that. Let me just tell you something. Let me just save you a decade. You'll be saying that 10 years from now. There will still be some things you need to get around to. There's still going to be some reasons why it's not a good time with the schedule. There's still a reason why, with the soccer schedule, and with the lacrosse thing, and with this thing, and with that thing, and the other things. It's always a good time to put off to tomorrow what we should do today.

And the enemy comes in and swoops up that year. And he'll swoop up the next one. And pretty soon, you'll be looking back on a life full of regrets because you never actually just ponied up the courage to say, today, I'm going to obey. And today, I'm going to do it. Right now is the right time to do the right thing. It takes faith. It just says, OK, I'm going to do it and then figure it out. I'm going to do it and then work. I'm going to give God the first. I'm going to just trust him in this. I'm not putting this off to tomorrow. I'm not going to live a deathbed full of regrets looking back on my life and realizing I just kept putting it off. And the enemy was so happy just to get me to procrastinate. As it's been said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And so this idea of the hardness of heart through putting off to tomorrow.

All right, that's the first barrier to fruitfulness, hard ground. But there's a second Jesus presents, and it's the shallow ground. It's this ground that has an inch of soil, but then there's all these rocks. And so the seeds that landed there, they were able to jump up real quickly because they did find a little bit of oxygen. They found a little bit of hydration. They found a little bit of, well, I don't know. Seeds don't eat oxygen. You don't overthink the analogy. But these seeds were able to just be like, yay, God's good. They just had a little bit of the message, and they sprang up. But then, you know, they found out real fast life is tough. Life is tough for all of us.

I relate to Ernest Hemingway, who once said, famously, that "the first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last in it and not be smashed by it". But the reality is, a lot of people have given their lives to God and then found out life can smash you. Life can smash you relationally, financially, in your health and your career. You get smashed by life. And I think, sometimes, people, they have a great zeal for God starting out. We've all known people who just, for a little while, had this great zeal for God, and then life smashed them in the mouth. This went wrong.

And all of the sudden, they're looking to God confused, like, wait a minute. I thought I was going to follow you and I was going to get the front row parking spot at the gym. Why do we want the front row parking spot at the gym? We're there to workout. I will circle the gym parking lot for a half hour to get a good parking space. I'm not going to get exercise on the way to exercise. I don't even have my earbuds in yet. This would be totally inappropriate, you know? But we almost just think because why. Because we misunderstand the nature of Christianity, and we confuse it with karma. That if I do good for God, God's going to do now good for me.

When I first got saved, someone told me something that's always stuck with me. They said imagine you are sitting on an airplane, and the flight attendant was coming by and she was saying, hey, would you like peanuts. Would you like Coke? Would you like, and let's say halfway through that little speech she gives, she said, would you like a parachute. And you're, like, wait. Peanuts, Coke, parachute? Why do I want a parachute? Oh, every one of the flights wearing them. And you look up, and sure enough, half a dozen people in front of you have parachutes on. One guy's really well dressed, and you're like, yeah, I'll take a parachute. She goes, oh, it'll make your flight much more enjoyable.

You're like, that's great. You strap it on, and you're like OK, now I've got my little Coke and I've got my little, like, three peanuts and my parachutes. And eventually, you're going to just start shifting in your seat because they give us so much room. And you're going to, man, this is really bulky and uncomfortable. And so you're going to recline, and that's not going to help much. And because you chose to fly the Greyhound of the skies, Allegiant. You're eventually going to realize this is not helping me out at all, and you're going to throw it off to the ground. And you're going to laugh at yourself for ever being so foolish to take something on that did nothing for the quality of the flight.

But then, I was told this, I was a freshman in high school when I heard this originally. They said imagine if it was different. Imagine if the flight attendant came by. She said, you know, hey, we have peanuts. We have Coke. We want you to have enjoyable flight. We also have parachutes if you'd like one. And you said, why would I want a parachute. And she said, well, we estimate somewhere during the flight the plane's going to go down. We're not exactly sure, but it's going to. We don't have enough fuel to get where we're supposed to go. So it's going to crash. And when the plane ditches, it'll be really convenient if you have a parachute on. We're all wearing them, and I would recommend you wear one as well. The nearest exit are, want me to do the safety briefing again?

You're like, I will take notes this time. I'm not going to have my iPhone out this time, I'm going to listen. And what I was told as a new follower of Jesus was this. When we talk to people about what it means to follow Christ, there are certainly blessings like peace and joy that God wants to give us. You're going to find those all over the Bible. Read Psalm 23. He's a good shepherd. He does want to prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies and cause your head to be anointed with oil and your cup to overflow with wine. And yes, all those things are true because God is a good God. He's for you, not against you. He wants to prosper you and has plans for your life.

But the reality is, that's not the ultimate reason Jesus came to this world. He came to this world was because we have a sin problem that leads to a death problem, and all of us are headed towards perishing. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish. Belief on one side, perishing on the other. The parachute is for the perishing. The reason for the Jesus thing in our lives is because we're dead on the inside headed to hell, and Jesus came to fix that problem. This plane of this life is going down. It's not if, it's when. We're all going to die and stand before Him. That's why Jesus died on your behalf on the cross.

And so when we ask Jesus to come into our life, it's to fix a deadness problem, not just to enhance the flight and make life a little more enjoyable. And so when we take Christ into our life, we're actually taking in something that's going to make our life more complex, not less. He said the world hates me, it's going to hate you. So if we don't properly equip people to understand, there's going to be pain in this life. There's going to be suffering in this life, and God is a healer and can heal you. But ultimately, you are going to die. And He came to solve the biggest problem of your life. And that is the moment that you stand before Him that you're covered in the righteousness of Jesus. And that makes sense then when life is hard and difficult.

We're not just going to shrug off this Christianity thing because we popped up in an inch of soil but we hit that bedrock. We want our roots going deep down that living water of joy and true relationship with God and understanding those things. So we don't want to be shallow, because then we'll easily become disillusioned. Disillusioned. I thought you were going to bless me. I thought you were going to help me. And I think that, oftentimes, is the story of people who we knew that followed Jesus at one point, but they grew dissolute. Oh, that God thing? Wasn't for me. Didn't seem to help me. Didn't do much for me. Because they came to God as blesser, not as savior. They came to God as sugar daddy and not king. And the honest admission of someone who's saying, eh, I trusted God but he didn't answer when I prayed. Not when my mom was dying in the hospital.

Now, when I was standing in the emergency room with my daughter, I prayed. He didn't help me then, so you know what he can keep his salvation for himself. What we're saying is, honestly, and I'm trying to be tender here because I know this represents a lot of hurt, is that we're saying, God, I want you to be a part of my kingdom. Not I'm willing to be a part of yours. But when we come to Him as Savior, when we come to Him as Lord, we're not we're not worshiping the things that the sun destroyed. We're worshipping Him. And whether He gives or takes away, we're saying I'll bless the name of the Lord. That's a kind depth. That's a kind of strength. That's a kind of power that can weather the storms of this life. And I talk in my book, Through The Eyes Of A Lion, about how God wants you to live on tiptoes. And a tiptoe life, I'm really passionate about our students who are going off to college. Going off on your tiptoes. Not just, well, God's good.

And then what do you do when life's bad? But I mean, that's being on your heels. One little shove could knock you over. But when you're on your tiptoes and you say, you know what, my God can take the worst things we face in this life and bring good out of them. Look at the cross as proof. Look at the cross as proof. That's a robust theology that can protect you. And you can believe God is good, even when life is really, really hard. So we don't want to we don't have shallow hearts only looking for what can I get out of it. We want to live for God's glory and not our own. Neither do we want to have crowded hearts.

That's the third kind of heart condition Jesus presents, a crowded heart. Problem with a crowded heart is that there's so many things that will distract you. You'll be perpetually distracted. Not focusing in on Jesus. Not growing the crops that He wants to in your heart through the seed, because there's weeds. And this ground was weedy. And so where the weed went in, it popped up. And it was good soil, the problem is there were so many other things growing up. The care for money. The care for other things. The desire to have the things that this world has and value the things this world has. And those things distracted this seed, and it was never able to get to what it should have been because it was suffocated. It was choked out. It was like the rich young ruler. This young man who came to Jesus. Wealthy and successful and connected and highly religious. Had everything from the world's standpoint you could have, but he came to Jesus.

That tells you everything you need to know. He was still empty. And isn't that just the truth if you think about it? Every time you ever achieved something you thought would bring happiness, it just brought a desire for a new level. A new opportunity. Happiness always seems to be out of reach on this Earth. And why do people overdose on drugs? Looking for that original feeling they had at the beginning. Always thinking the next high is going to do it. The next party's going to do it. The next person you sleep with is going to bring it. And it just brings more emptiness and more sadness, and that desire is still there to find what you were made for. That brought this man to Jesus. He said, well, yeah, cool. Follow me. Leave all you have. Give to the poor, and let's go. I'll answer. Jesus called him out on this moment.

And this guy, you just saw the conflict because he knew he wanted that, but these weeds crowded into his heart. And the Bible says he left sad. He left sad, unwilling to separate himself from the weeds that were growing up in his heart in this moment. It's so easy to live distracted and not focusing on God like we, at the end of the day, really know we want to, know we should. Now what all three of these grounds represent is the inability for the seed to take root. Root. Neither the seed on a hard ground or the seed on the birdy path or the seed that was there full of weeds was able to get the roots down like it should have. And that's the strength. That's the position we want to.

Really, the heartbeat of this Mad About The House series that we put roots down. And we wouldn't be so transient. And I hope you come back next week, we're going to talk about what happens when our dreams are shattered. What do we do in church when even our dreams of what church should be like get shattered? What do we do in those experiences where we get hurt? What do we do when what we hope it would be like at church is fractured in some way? And I really hope you'll be here for that message. But we want to talk about having a sense of permanence.

That we feel like God's called us to this place, and we're going to put some roots down and we're going to grow. We're going to really make a go of it as a family here. We're going to raise our kids together to know and love God. And we're going to have dreams for the next generation. And we're going to sow in the legacy. And we're going to give for people at church campuses that were never going to even attend. And we're going to have a heart to do things through our outreach partners all around the world. And really, what can happen when we all come together like bricks, when we all come together like a field as we're supposed to. Because like David said in Psalm 92, those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God.

The enemy's design is for you not to be planted. And he'll use weeds. And he'll use birds. And he'll use rocks, if he can. And he'll use all of the above to keep you from putting roots down and to say I'm going to be in the church. I'm going to be in the house. I'm going to faithfully be here. We're going to be together and experience what God has. We're going to do this life together in the house and see what God can do in our lives. I'm telling you, when you build up God's house, you will watch Him build yours. I'm living proof of that. We're watching it happen, and I'm the result of that as well. Well, that's the first thing. Barriers to fruitfulness. But now let's get into this little last portion of the scripture, where Jesus gives us an invitation to abundance. An invitation to abundance.

And I'm so excited. And God's just been lighting this up in my heart this week, because I've seen things in this past that I've never seen before. Because all of the above, I've preached before. I've gone through the birds and the rocks. It's good preaching. It outlines so pretty. But what God really got me excited about was this verse 20 stuff, where the passion translation says, "the seed grown on good soil represents those who open up their hearts to receive the Word and their lives bear good fruit". Now, look at this. "Some yield a harvest of 30, some of 60, some even get to a hundred times more than was sown".

What God showed me that I never saw before was that there's not four adventures to choose from, there's actually six. It's not just birdy, weedy, rocky, or good. It's birdy, weedy, rocky, or 30, 60, 100. And so wherever you're at on the spectrum, I just hear God speaking to you. There's more room for you to grow. There's more cultivation for you to do in your heart. There's more cultivation for you to do in your life. What I'm trying to get to see is, God's calling you to abundance, not to a poverty mentality on what's possible. Whatever your dreaming up for your life, whatever your dreaming up for your family, whatever you're dreaming of for victory and for strength.

I'm telling you God's dream is exceedingly, abundantly beyond what you could ask, or you could think, or you could imagine. God wants to tug at the borders of your imagination. He wants to call you to new levels of wonder and whimsy. He wants to do more than you could ask. More than you even possibly could understand. He wants for you to prosper. I love Jeremiah 29:11. "I know plans for you," says the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and not a future". 3 John 2 says, "Beloved, I pray you would prosper in all things". Someone say all things. All things. "And be in health, just as your soul prospers". He's saying your soul's doing really good, that's the most important thing. But now I'm praying your health prospers.

Now I'm praying that your finances prosper. Now I'm praying your kids prosper. I'm praying your grandkids prosper. I'm on an intramural softball team. I'm praying your intramural softball team prospers. I pray that you would prosper in all things as your soul prospers. Now, a lot of people in this world are trying to get their softball to prosper, their business to prosper, their kids to prosper. And they're forgetting about their soul. But I'm telling you, when you get your soul to prosper, if you'll just seek the Lord, you'll watch him add all things unto you. And even in hard times, even in lean season, even in sick times, you'll watch God do a beautiful work in your life. You'll see him send you into a hospital. You'll see him send you into a season of sorrow with a purpose.

Like Joseph in a pit, you're praising this guy. In Potiphar's house being lied about. And yet, we're just a still magnanimous spirit, as God works all things together. As you watch God bring you from the 30 to the 60. The 60 to the 100, which, by the way, all three of these are impossible. Agriculturally speaking, they say eight to one is a phenomenal return. 30 to one is Impossible. 60 to 1 is supernatural. 100 to 1, only God could do it. And let's just say, God, do it in my life. God, I want you to do even more than you've done. And so I believe in this passage, God wants us to see every acorn for what it is. As something that could either cover the surface of the earth in trees, or be crushed underfoot and never come to anything. That's an acorn.

And when you start to see a seed as a forest in disguise, you'll never take for granted the chance to receive something precious from God's Word. Every time God speaks, every time the Word of God is opened in your life, every time you have YouVersion app devotional open, every time you show up for a Fresh Life worship experience, God is about to deposit a forest in disguise. Something that could cover the Earth in trees, or something that could be crushed underfoot, eaten by a bird, snatched away, never to materialize. And when you start looking at it that way, it changes your perspective. Now all of a sudden, you're willing to do anything necessary to eliminate those things that would stop the seed from leading to the fruitfulness in your life. To do that, you'll need tools. Can you agree with me?

You'll need tools. I mean, for number one, if you're going to keep the birds at bay, you'll need a tool of creativity. Creativity. I got to thinking about how creative you can be to keep birds away. This is awesome and kind of creepy. Whoa. Hey. Whoa. Hey. There's a little exorcist action going on. You can put an owl in your garden, and the bird that comes in will see this thing and think it's going to eat its head off. And so it will stay away because the wind will work this. It's awesome. I was thinking about how the Bible says the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus at his baptism like a bird.

And how if we want to keep the bird away, we need to have the ultimate bird installed in our lives. We need to have the Holy Spirit helping us out. I wonder if you open up your Bibles by asking God's Holy Spirit to speak to you. When you show up at church, what if as you walked in, your weren't saying, I hope it's good. I'm ready to give it a B-plus or, you know, I got four goosebumps last week. I only got two this week. Or if you say, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart. Change my life. Change my situation. I'm praying for the person around me. During the invitation when not closing your Bible up, getting ready to go, thinking about where you're going to eat, you're begging for God to touch that one person at the Deer Lodge campus who doesn't know Jesus, who walked in here empty, who walked in here broken.

You're praying, God touch a teenager who's thinking about taking their life. You're saying that young girl who's anorexic who doesn't understand her beauty comes from God, her identity. You're saying, Holy Spirit, you installed the Holy Spirit to be vigilantly watching over your heart. But you can be even more creative than that. Because you can now, you can install these in your life. I had a low moment this week, church. I got into a really big war with a robin. And I don't know, man, this thing was a demon possessed Hugh Hefner-like robin. He built seven nests under my porch. Seven. The same year. I watched him build seven nests. I don't know what swanky soiree he had planned. I wanted no part of it.

I'm telling you, I'm only interested in monogamous birds. Seven nests. I watched him. He was like, yeah, this has got me growing now. I'm like, bro, you need to read Swipe Right is what you need. You need a revival up in your bird's nest. There was no eggs, I checked. So I got rid of all these nests at night. 7:00 at night. Next morning, they were all rebuilt. I'm like, this is scary. Someone said you should get a pellet gun. And I did. But I couldn't bring myself to shoot him, so I would just scare him and he'd fly away. And then I got brought to a low place, and I did shoot him. But it didn't kill him, it just dinged him. And he looked at me, but then he just came back defiantly and stared at me, like, you have to sleep sometime.

And I was, like, oh no you didn't. This is a true story. It's raining. I'm standing there in the rain with this pellet gun. The bird's standing in the middle of the street holding a mouthful of leaves. And so I got me some of these spiky things, and I installed them all over the place. And guess what? I don't have to keep the nest from being built, because now he can't even land. And I just wonder in your life, what are you doing that's making your heart so hospitable to the birds? I mean, tell me. What kind of negativity and grumbling and criticism is there that just attracts the enemy and attracts that darkness? What are you watching? What are you reading? Who are you spending time with that's making it easy for the birds to land? Don't you need to install some spiky things? That you never have to fight away a bird that can't land in the first place. Creativity will help keep the birds away.

Well, what about this rocky ground that you need to get the rocks out? Well to do that, you need to go deep. For the plants to go deep, there needs to be no rocks. Well, let me tell you something. To go deep, it takes effort. It takes effort to go deep. I've dug a trench. All right, you're listening now, you're like, oh, he's got a pickaxe. Yeah I do. I should always preach with this just casually resting on my shoulder. Every one of you just sat up straight. The work that it takes to dig. I was in Juarez is on a mission trip once, and our job was to clear a whole trench full out of rocks. I'm telling you, I've never experienced such backbreaking work. It takes effort if you want to get rocks out.

So I'm saying there are rocky places in your heart, there are rocky places in my heart. Are we willing to engage the kind of effort it's going to take to get those rocks out, to "plow up our fallow ground," to quote the Old Testament, so that God can get the things down into our lives that he wants? It takes effort to go deep. And how about pulling weeds? Well, pulling weeds, there's no easy way to say this. It just takes good old fashioned persistence if you want to pull weeds. And the weeds in your heart, and the weeds in my life, these other things that strangle up our passion for God. These things that at times are good things, that cause us to miss out on the best things. Because we just, in a season of our lives, are mowing our lawn. I hope Chris mowed his lawn after hearing that appeal. But you think about this.

Here's the thing, it's impossible to pull weeds standing up. For some of us, the reason we have weeds in our lives is because we just haven't been on our knees in a while. And I'm almost cold enough to just say, sometimes you just need to get down and let the posture of your body reflect the posture of your heart. And let there be the kind of humility that would say, God, what are the weeds in my life right now. What is grown up? And maybe what was a weed in one season isn't a weed in another season, and what wasn't a weed in that season is a weed right now. But it takes persistence. You got to get them up by the root.

Come on, just one thing at a time. Let's just get those weeds out of our heart. Those weeds out of our lives. Let's pull them up by the root so they're not going to grow back. It takes persistence and continual recalibration and reflection to hear from heaven. What's choking up our passion from God? What's keeping us from living on track towards heaven? What's tripping us up into becoming like Lot's wife? Jesus one time, shortest sermon he ever preached, he said, "Remember Lot's wife". She was supposed to move forward, but she turned backward. And he said, "Remember Lot's wife". Remember what happens. Remember how salty you can get when you're looking backward trying to run forward. Let's dig up those weeds. Let's keep our hearts set on heaven. Let's keep living our lives as a mission for King Jesus. If we'll take care of the soil of our hearts, God will take care of the soul of this house.

Now these are all tools. Creativity, persistence, effort. But there's no tool like each other. You know, there's a word that we used at the beginning of the sermon, crowd. Crowd. We talked to a crowdsourcing. You could also surf a crowd. You could please a crowd. You can fund through a crowd. But did you know that it's also to push things along through a crowd? And if you actually look into the origin of the word crowd, the old English word that forms are word for crowd, it actually is the word wheelbarrow. And you think about a wheelbarrow. Wheelbarrow's a great thing because you can pack up so many different things into a wheelbarrow. I get my Bible. I'll give him all my spiky things. And get my phone in there, my handkerchief in there, get my Bible in there.

And here's the cool thing about a wheelbarrow. With a wheelbarrow, you can push some things along. A wheelbarrow pushes. That's the word crowd. Because a crowd literally is something that pushes you along. And let me tell you this. The crowd that you do life with is pushing you along somewhere. It's going to sweep you off your feet somewhere. And we can either, towards good or towards evil, be pushed along in life. God intends for us to be a people coming together to push each other along towards righteousness. To spur each other up towards good works. And that's God's part for the house.
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