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Levi Lusko - In The Same Boat


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If you have a Bible, we're going to actually look at two passages of scripture. We're going to start in Jonah. So if you have a copy of the Bible or if you have an app where you can do that, look to Jonah chapter 1. And then we'll jump into another part of scripture in the New Testament in just a minute. The title of my message is In The Same Boat. In The Same Boat, like, right? Like did you do your homework assignment? Nah, I'm in the same boat because I didn't do mine, right? The same boat.

Come on. Someone say, in the same boat. In the same boat. We're going to look at two boat stories in the Bible. The first is from the Old Testament. The second will be from the new. Here's what Jonah says. And of course, if you don't know, if you didn't grow up in Sunday school having this story depicted by VeggieTales type situations, there is this guy named Jonah who got asked to preach. Actually, he didn't really get asked. God doesn't much ask. He sort of just tells us what to do and just leaves it there, right? And so He says to Jonah, I want you to go and preach to this people.

Now, context wise, it was a terrible assignment. I've had some rough ministry assignments in my life where God just really puts in my heart, like, you need to go do this thing. Because I'll get asked to go preach places, asked to do things and pray through it. And you know, it's like I never get asked to go preach in Fiji. You know what I'm saying? But if anyone's out there, right? Like I've had your water. It seems great, right? But and you know, sometimes God just really puts into my heart, even if it's not convenient, maybe sometimes especially when it's not like this is something for you. And I can't do everything that's asked.

And so we have a kind of filter we run it through. And prayerfully we'll take assignments were God just really impresses on our heart, yes. This is something you're supposed to be doing. It's a good use of the time. And anyhow, there's been times when I'm like, no. I don't want to do that. And God's like, yes. And it happened recently. I felt God really calling me to go preach something. I would probably traditionally say no to this. And when I got there, it was just like thing after thing after thing that just showed me, this is why you said yes. This is why. Not even so much the preaching. It was this moment right here, you see?

And anyhow, Jonah was told, go preach. And he was like, nah, I'm good. Nah. Nah, I'm good. 'Cause he happened to hate the people he was told to preach to. That's tough, right? It's tough. Sort of the love mercy thing's kind of important, kind of a big deal, you know, preaching. And he was like, nah, I'm straight. And so what he did was he got into a boat. And he went in the exact opposite direction. And so now Jonah is in a boat. And the Bible says that as he sat there, so I'm just going to sit here in my boat. It says in Jonah chapter 1 verse 4 as Jonah's in his boat going in the exact opposite direction, mind you. God was like, I want you go to Nineveh. He was like, you know what sounds great? Spain. That's where I want to be. It's nice this time of year.

So Jonah's headed to Spain. Verse 4, "But the Lord". Someone say, but the Lord. But the Lord. "Sent out a great wind on the sea. And there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship was about to be broken up". Y'all, I would not want to be in a storm on the sea in this boat. That would be Bad News Bears, right? "Then the mariners were afraid. And every man cried out to his God. And they threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him and said to him, 'What do you mean, sleeper? Arise. Call on your God'".

Like they're like, calling all gods. Like, we don't even care. Like, we're not being picky. Like, are you a Buddhist? You a Muslim? Whatever. Get out here and do something, right? Just we're calling all gods. "'Perhaps your God will consider us so that we may not perish.' And they said to one another, 'Come. Let us cast lots that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.' So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, 'Please tell us for whose cause has this trouble come upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?'"

Someone say awkward. Awkward. Because now he has to say, I'm kind of a pastor and I'm sort of from Israel. And my God is sort of the one who made the heavens and the earth. Right? It's tough. Verse 9, "So he said to them, 'I am a Hebrew. I fear the Lord'". Yeah, we can see that. You really, obviously are really great at that. "'The God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.' Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, look at this, "'Why have you done this? Why would you not obey God?' For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he told them". You gotta respect that. Hey, I'm a preacher, but I won't preach. I ran. I ran. That storm is because of him. "Then they said to him, 'What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?' For the sea was growing even more tempestuous. He said to them, 'Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know this great tempest is because of me'".

Translation, I'd rather be dead than preaching in Nineveh, right? Verse 13, "Nevertheless, the men rode hard to return to land but they could not". They don't want to have his blood on their hands. "For the sea continued to grow even more tempestuous against them. Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, 'We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man's life and do not charge us with innocent blood. For you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.' So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea".

We're in a series of messages called Mad About the House. And in this collection of talks, we're examining our care for what Jesus died for. We're trying to stir up our passion for the church and all that. And this week, what I really have on my heart for us to see is, what we do when we're out of the house reflects on the house. What we do out of the house, because we spend our lives coming and going from the church, right? Like David said, I'm jealous of the birds. The birds get to live in the church all the time. But that's not God's plan for us. God's plan for us is that we would come and go from the church, come and go. That weekly we would come and go, coming to gather on the weekend so we can scatter into our lives and love people. Coming and going, always seeing ourselves in the regular rhythm. Not missing the opportunity to gather and always staying in a scattered formation. For when we're always in a scattered formation, we can't have the power and strength that comes from the gathering. But neither are we supposed to all, and you can err on the other side, too. Where everything's just, all you're ever around is Christians.

So what we're trying to live out is this rhythm of coming and going, gathering and scattering. Being a part of the large groups, getting together with each other in the small groups, all so that we might be strengthened and equipped to do what God has called us to do in the world. Because we can't reach a world we've abandoned. So we come together so we can go out and scatter. It's this regular rhythm. And whatever we do, someone say, whatever we do. Whatever we do. We do so seeing it as a mission for King Jesus. That's our heart, that whatever my job is, wherever my neighborhood is, whatever's going on with my kid's gymnastic thing, I'm seeing it as a mission for King Jesus that I'm here, a part of this in this moment.

And so what we're trying to be aware of, because we spent the first several weeks of this series really talking about the power of the house and power of what God's doing through the local church, His bride. And just this idea of the church as this earthen vessel that's imperfect and marred. And yet full of the knowledge of the glory of God and the face of Jesus Christ. And if you missed any of the messages, you can catch up on YouTube. But now I want to talk about what happens when we scatter. And specifically, what happens when we're not a good representation of the house as we go. GK Chesterton once said, "By far, the most powerful argument against the truth of Christianity are Christians".

And the reality is that studies have found that for many people, one of the big barriers to becoming followers of Jesus isn't that they don't believe in God or what the Bible says about God. But their big objection to Christianity is that they don't believe what the Bible says about the church. And that they don't believe in this idea of the church, because they've met people who call themselves Christians and live like Jonah, whose lives don't match up to their lips. And we hear it said as, the church is just full of hypocrites, right? And what we want to try and face up to this week is the fact that at times, tragically, for all of us, that's true. That's true that we at times can be like Jonah, causing collateral damage. That's the first heading I want you to jot down.

When we don't walk the talk, when we come in here and worship but then we go and our worship stopped at the door. Because our mentality should be that we want to live a life of worship. Worship is not less than singing, but it's certainly more than singing. When we raised our voices a moment ago and sang out those beautiful songs and the bands were leading us, that is worship. But listen to me. As we gave a minute ago, that was worship. And hopefully, that's just the beginning. That we're propelled out of life, even right now as we receive the word with eagerness, we can do that as a spirit of worship. But we should also, as we raise our kids, see that as worship.

As we love our families and take them on a vacation this summer, see that as an act of worship. As we love our neighbor, seeing that as an act of worship. As we show up for work, we can in the parking lot say, reporting for duty. I see that as an act of worship. And when we don't do that, to the degree that we don't do that, there is always collateral damage. And the collateral damage for Jonah was that, here's these men who were in his boat. And he brought his disobedience into the boat. But you're never alone in a boat. There's always other people in the boat. There's always other people in the situation. Always other people in that public space for having your meltdown and your tantrum and hissy fit.

Because, what? You didn't get a table. Because, what? You're not going to get a seat on the plane or whatever it is. In those moments when we're not representing what we say, I believe in God, the God of the Bible. All you fools with your lame idols. I believe in the real God. Well, why are you not preaching somewhere? I don't know. I don't do what he says. Right? It's like, wait. Wait a minute. You believe in God? This is the person with the sticker on their car driving badly. This is the person who leaves an invite to church in the billfold at the restaurant with a crappy tip, right? Ouch, right? I'm going to preach it real up in here, right? This is the person who says one thing, but then everyone's seeing you yell at your kids. Everyone's seeing you bad talk and gossip and do a bad job.

What happened? There's collateral damage. And the image of what it means to follow Jesus suffers because of tragically, at times, how we live like Jonah, off mission. Listen to me. When we're off mission, other people suffer. When we're off mission, other people suffer. Here's all these sailors. Now, they're about to get killed in this storm. And it's not a storm of their doing. They were in this storm because of what he was doing. They just had a great trip on this boat right across the bay. They'd have had a great time going to Spain to sail.

Now they're throwing their cargo off. Other people are suffering as a result of his selfish living. We need to own that. I think we need to own that a little bit. We need to personalize that. It's easy to go, well, there's other churches... How about the hypocrisy in all of our own lives? Heaven help us to see and have our eyes open to the ways in which we're not living what we know is real, right? The world knows what Jesus preached. He preached love, right? Love God, love your neighbor, love people, care for the poor. These things, the way we spend our money. All of these things should reflect what we say is true. And tragically, at times, it's not the case for all of us. Let's all own that. Let's all say, hey, God. Show me my heart the way that I'm not living this out. I want to do...

When David was involved in this adulterous affair and cover up and this whole thing, there were lots of consequences, lots of things he was told, lots of things that happened. And it haunted him for a long time. I think the most painful thing that he heard was when the pastor told him this. In 2 Samuel chapter 12 he said, "'David, you've given by this deed great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme'".

And what a thing to think and what a thing to carry. Let's live with that in our hearts. I love to think sometimes when I'm praying in the morning and having my devotional life, God, help me not do anything today that would give people occasion to not believe the truth of the gospel. Because the problem's never the gospel. It's never a product problem. It's always a PR problem. And the PR is us, right? And so, heaven help us to not give anyone a reason to not believe in what they need, what will ultimately help them, and that is a relationship with Jesus.

Fortunately, though, it's not just that there can be collateral damage. Here's something positive. What's true for evil can always be true for good. So when we do walk the talk, OK? Now let's flip it, when we do walk the talk, there can be blessing by association, blessing by... see, you've heard of guilt by association? Right? You're implicated because you were in the car. You didn't do anything. But you were just there when that crime was committed. Guilt by association. Well, how about blessing by association? How about what happens when someone is with a pure heart. Not perfectly, that's never going to happen. I don't want you to have an unrealistic expectation. You are going to blow it, right?

We're all going to have bad days. The Bible says, if someone doesn't get caught up in sin, he's perfect. And there is approximately zero perfect people short of Jesus Christ Himself, OK? But the goal is that we're going to follow Christ with a pure heart. We're going to follow Jesus with everything within us. We're going to seek to live a life of worship and honor and generosity and kindness. We're going to stir those things up in our hearts, call those things out in our lives. And when we do that, here's what I believe. It's not just going to bring blessing to us. It's going to bring a blessing by association. What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say, here's how I wrote it down.

When we are on mission now, because we talked about what happens when we're off mission. What happens? Other people suffer. But when we are on mission, the favor on our life is infectious. When you live a life on mission and you show up tomorrow morning at work and you say, you know what? I'm on mission, King Jesus. Reporting for duty. Here's my assignment. Fill me with Your spirit. Give me that strength. Have something in your heart that's there for the hard moments, right? Like do you ever get hangry in the church, right? I mean, I get hangry. So I know that I get hangry. And so I bring in these little packets. I bring in these little things of nuts. What am I doing? I'm getting ahead of it.

I know I can break glass and do this. I could break glass and eat this. I'm thinking through hydration, right? I get cranky and headache-y when I'm dehydrated. I get cranky and headache-y when I don't have enough caffeine. So I've got stashes of caffeine. I think through coffee. I'm like, is there going to be coffee? I need a coffee on the way to get coffee. I need a coffee on the way to get the coffee that's going to be tiding me over till I get the coffee, right? It's like, you want coffee? Yes. Yes. And like, want to go to get a coffee? What, you're getting coffee now? Yeah, but I get coffee on the way to the coffee. I'm just like, this is my pre-coffee coffee, right? And so I just think about, I'm getting ahead of it. I'm getting ahead of the dehydration.

And so I wonder if in your spiritual journey you're aware of the times when you're susceptible to the attacks of the enemy. When do you get snippy? When do you get depleted? How can you get ahead of it by putting a verse in your heart? Don't be rushing off into your day with Instagram open. Come on. Get a scripture up in your heart. Open up that little Bible app on your phone. Come on. Throw that little Beth Moore devotional on. Put some worship music on. You have that angry co-worker? Well, drive in doing some inoculation. You got to get your vaccination on. You've got to throw some Fresh Life worship up in your spirit. So that into those moments you're ready. So it's ready to spill out.

Imagine yourself honoring Jesus. What does that look like? You think about the time that you got irritable and you got cranky and you cut someone down. See yourself doing it. Think about how you didn't like how that reflected on Jesus. And then instead of that, visualize what you're going to do different next time. When they say this, maybe you're just as simple as, oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. You know, here's the cool thing about closed mouths, they can gather no feet. And someone said one time, it's better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you're stupid than open your mouth and dispel all doubt, right?

So sometimes it's just nice to say nothing, right? Mama had it. Mama said it best. If you've got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. So when you live in that way, there is a favor on your life. Read the beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed. And when there's blessing on your life, listen to me, it drips on other people who get up in your boat. So the people in your boat, what's that going to look like? Well, let me show you in Acts 27, OK? Great story.

Now here's the exact opposite scenario. Why was Jonah in a storm? Because he didn't obey God. Paul the Apostle one day ended up in a storm because he did follow God. God told him to preach. And he got arrested for preaching. And he ended up in a bunch of jail cells. And finally he got sick of it. And he said, I appeal to Caesar, because he was a Roman citizen. So he knew how to work the system. Listen to me. God wants you to trust Him for what He can do. But He also wants you to do what only you can do. And so he said, hey. I know my rights. I appeal to Caesar. And he did what he needed to do.

As a church, we value something called being a snake bird. Because Jesus said be harmless like a dove, but also be cunning like a serpent. And so what does that mean? That means that we're going to trust God but keep our powder dry, like they said in the Revolutionary War. We're not going to pray for a job but not apply. We're not going to ask God for a wife but then not brush our teeth. You see what I'm saying here? I'm not going to ask God to bless my marriage but then not take my lady out on date nights. You see what I'm saying? I'm going to do what I can do but trust God for what He can do.

Some of you today, you're praying for something that God has put into your capacity to control the outcome of the situation. God will never do for you what you can do for yourself. So you need to be doing what you can do. Appeal to Caesar, but then trust God for what only He can do. So Paul ends up in a Boat. I'm on a boat, Mom, right? He's headed to Rome on a boat. But now he ends up in a storm, not because he did something wrong, but because he did something right and because some other people did something wrong. OK. We're going to read a bunch of selected verses from Acts 27 now. This is great. This is the best. This is better than Indiana Jones. This is better than anything.

Paul, I'm telling you. This is Paul of the Caribbean, y'all. This is Paul. Just, this is great. Paul comes to the captain. Now, he's a prisoner on a boat because of his obedience to God. And he comes to the captain, verse 10, saying, "'Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss. Not only of the cargo and ship but also our own lives.'" Imagine that. God spoke to Paul. There's a storm and they need to listen to him. And so he tells them. The centurion, though, verse 11, "Was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul". Why? Because Paul was a prisoner. And this guy, the people he was listening to were experts.

So he denied Paul's advice. Said, thanks for, and I'm sure Paul respectfully gave it. They said, we're not listening to you. We're going to press on. Paul was saying, we need to stop. We need to weather the storm out. We do not try and push through it. This sucker is going to be fierce and it's going to be bad. And the guy turned to the captain and the owner of the ship. And, what do you guys say? Oh, we can make it through. Oh, yeah. We're great. With this thing? Oh, this old Bessie, Bessie's going to get us through. This is going to be great. Oh, no. We're fine, right? Not great. Verse 14, "But not long after, a tempestuous headwind rose called Euroclydon".

Y'all, when they give a name to the storm, not good. Not good deal. They name the thing. That's bad, bad, bad. Verse 18, "And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship". Now they're throwing stuff overboard. Verse 20, "Now, when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days," this is a long ordeal, "And no small tempest", don't you love that Luke the doctor can't just say, a big tempest? He has to say, no small tempest, right? Leave it to a doctor writing your biography. That's what's going to happen. "No small tempest beat on us. All hope that we would be saved was finally given up".

Now listen, Paul's story's being written by Luke. And Luke here says, we gave up. That's a bad deal when the biographer says, biography's over. It's done, right? This is Acts 27. There's not going to be an Acts 28 is what he's saying here. This is over. We've all given up, right? Paul sees Luke. He's crossing himself, putting a life jacket on, ready to jump into the life raft. He's like, where you going, right? Where's the faith? Verse 21, "But after a long absence from food", you can't eat when you're tossing around in a tempest. They were probably getting seasick, puking everywhere. It's like one of those Royal Caribbean, you know, advertisements. They're awful.

I never got the appeal of a cruise, man. People like, you want to go on a cruise? I'm like, no. It seems like prison but at the ocean. "Then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, 'Men.'" But it's all you can eat. That's the problem. I'm already going into bathing suit season with some all-you-can-eat that I've helped myself to all winter. "'Men.'" I'm on a boat. "'You should have listened to me.'" Don't you love that Paul starts his speech in the middle of the storm by saying, "Men, you should have listened to me"? Sounds like my wife. All right. "'You should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. But now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship'".

You're like, Paul, how do you know that? How do you know that? You can't give them false assurance. You can't give them false hope. Verse 23, he shows his math. Oh, by the way, math. Mad about the house. Paul was mad about the house. Now he's going to show his math. And here's what he says. "'For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.'" I know it seems outrageous, but an angel stood by Paul's head and whispered things to him while he slept. That's awesome. "'Saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul'", Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul. Because always reverb when it's an angel. "'You must be brought here before Caesar. And indeed, God has granted you all those who sail with you.'"

I'm going to stop right there. You're going to get to Rome. You're not going to die in the ship. But they're not going to die because they're with you. Blessing by association. I'm just telling you, when you're doing what God's called you to do, your life becomes magnetic. It attracts blessings. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house. I'm telling you, when you got the good math and the good math is mad about the house, all of a sudden, there's just a favor on your life. All of a sudden, there's a blessing on your life. I'm not saying everything is going to go good. There's still going to be storms. But in the storms, you can know that everything's going to be OK, that God's got this, that He's got, man, this is a tempest.

I'm riding the waves here. I'm just telling you, even when there's waves, even when it's bumpy, even when it's difficult, even when you're in the hospital, even when someone gets laid off, even when someone's sick, I'm just telling you, you can just know God's with me. Come on, He's going to send his angels to watch over me. He's going to tell me it's going to be all right. But there's going to be a blessing that's going to spill on over to those who I work around.

I'm telling you, when God blesses me, I'm going to bless those around me. I'm going to show kindness. I dare you to get up in my life. I'm going to bless you. I'm going to pray for you. I'm going to encourage you. I'm going to make it my goal that you feel your worth and you feel your value, that you sense that God loves you. Just get up around me when God showed me something in the Word. I'm going to show it to you. I'm going to tell you what I learned in my quiet time. I'm going to get excited about a song. I'm going to tell our worship team, our whole church needs to sing this song. Why? It lit my heart up. We need to sing this song. Why? There's a blessing by association.

When you're part of the house, one part suffers, we all feel it. One part's blessed, we all feel it. I'm just telling you something. Like Paul, you get in a boat with someone who's blessed, there's a blessing that touches you. Why? Because a rising tide lifts all those who are in the ship. And that's the second point. Third thing, jot this down. I'm going to get seasick preaching this sermon. I'm not done with that point yet. God loves the people in your life so much He put you in their path. That's how I just want you to have on the whole new permission. When you show up in your scrubs, reporting.

I was eating breakfast the other day. A guy comes in in scrubs. This wire's in my way. Whenever my back gets sweaty, the wire sticks to it. TMI, I know. When I watched him eat breakfast, I just thought about, he had his ear buds in and he was, you know, eating a breakfast burrito or a bagel or something. Had his coffee. And I was just looking at his scrubs just thinking about, he's a doctor or he's a nurse. He's an orderly, whatever. Maybe he's going to wheel people in to get X-rays all day. I don't know what he's going to be doing. But I just got to thinking, here he is in the moment before he reports for duty. And I just wonder, if that's your perspective, that everybody you're going to encounter today, everyone you're going to encounter this week, that there's a divine assignment on that, and I don't know what it's going to be.

It's not always going to be like, that you're going to have the chance to share scripture. Maybe it's just, you're going to just be kind and be present and take a moment and care about them. Just enough time to just let that be a little bit of sunshine in their life. This world's hard. People are beat down. People are going through hard stuff. It never ceases to amaze me how many hardships people are facing and what they're going through. And we are God's bride. We are His body. Come on, we're His people. Let's live on mission. Let's believe for a blessing by association. Let's go to scripture, not just stuff that we need for us.

God, here's my needs. Let's say, God, fill me up. Fill me up with enough for other people. God, would You put some hungry people in my path today? Put some tired people in my path today. I'm going to pay for the person behind me at Starbucks and tell them, that's from someone at Fresh Life. We'd love to, I don't know what it's going to look like. Let's be creative. Let's be inventive. As we give in our offering, let's not just so to reap enough for our family. Let's give, believing for God to bless other people in this church, to expand. Come on, let's pray for margin. I just want to say, I have a great sense of creativity and passion. Let's believe that we'll be able to expand the reach of Fresh Life television. It takes resources to reach people.

Let's pray that we'll be a part of that. Come on, I'm praying for some people to have a kingdom mentality as they approach their business maybe with a mentality to grow it. Now, but you're not like, well, I'm doing all right now. I've got a vacation thing here. I got this over, I'm not saying for you. But I'm praying for some specific people to have a mentality to create wealth as a heart position that would say, I want to resource the vision. I'm going to grow this business. I'm going to create this income over here, not just for me, not just to eat the seed, but to sow the seed, to plant the seed, that it might be able to do more.

I wonder if there's someone in our church even now that's got the wherewithal to apply yourself at business with a mentality like a king to say, I'm going to bankroll the kingdom. I'm going to grow more, not just for me. I'm going to grow more for more people to know Jesus like He knows me. It's just a mentality that says, there can be a blessing by association. And then thirdly, let's see this fact is also an awesome privilege. It's an awesome privilege. Because now we've seen the negative and we've seen the positive. We've seen that people can get in our boat and suffer because we're having an off day. And they're around us and they're like, wow. Great Christian. Wow. Oh, cool. Oh, wow. Oh, OK.

Well, oh, I thought you were a Christian. I thought you loved God. And you're just like, ugh. And then that can be the opposite, that because of the way we approach our spirituality and we approach Jesus and this relation, it just so overflows our cup. And if there's an overflowing cup, it's going to get on some other people, right? That's the good and the bad. That power, that's an awesome privilege. Here's what I want you to write down under this heading. The brand is in your hand. The brand is in your hand.

Now, before you're like, write me an email about how the church shouldn't be a brand and we shouldn't have a logo and we shouldn't be an organization and that's the problem, it's going to be a great email. I can feel it. Before you tell me all about that, I looked up the dictionary. And one of the definitions for brand is just a name. And they use the example of Jordan, the Jordan brand. And Jordan, Michael Jordan has his brand on shoes. But they don't just put those on any shoe. They're shoes that line up with the Jordan brand. He's one of the greatest basketball players to ever hold the ball.

And so now there's this brand and it's got his name on it. I think that that's a really good picture of what we're a part of. Not only as those who are part of Fresh Life, this particular part of the worldwide church. But just bigger, just as Jesus' followers. The brand, listen to me, the brand is in your hand. Come on. Show someone. Tell them the brand is in your hand. And when I say the brand, listen to me, I'm talking about the name that we carry. The name of Jesus and specifically, as part of this church, the name Fresh Life. The brand is in your hand. You're just like, that's on you, preacher.

You better preach it good next week because I'm bringing my unsaved friend. Right? OK, no pressure, right? The brand is in all of our hand. Right. All, if we're bricks in this house, if our absence in faith, if our absence in serving, if our an absence in intensity and in generosity is going to cause the church to become Jenga and we're going to be a brick removed and then all of a sudden it becomes wobbly, because if that's true, listen, the brand is in all of our hands.

I was listening to a business podcast. And it was an interview with someone who had a relationship with the former president of Coca-Cola. And his name's Don Keough. And in the podcast I was listening to, this is great if you run a company or any kind of team. This is just really good business stuff. But also, I think it applies to the church, too, as so many things do, right? So he said, when he asked him what were some of the secrets from your time? He's now passed away. But at that time, he was the president. And he was being asked, you know, what were some of the secrets to what you did leading Coke? Imagine being the CEO of Coca-Cola. It's like, it's a massive thing, you know?

And what he said was crazy. Here's what he said. He said, "I always want the answer". This is the secret to him leading Coca-Cola as he did. He said, "I always wanted the answer to this question to be yes when I'm driving home each day. Did I polish the Coke brand just a little bit today"? Did I polish the brand? He said as CEO, the brand was in my hand. And his goal was to polish the brand just a little bit every day. And the guy that as listening to the interview said, what do you mean? And he said, it could be the smallest thing. And usually was the littlest thing. If I was driving home and I could think of something I did to polish the brand up a little bit. Maybe it was a lunch with a co-worker. And I spoke the values and I talked mission.

What are we trying to do? Rot everyone's teeth. Joking, joking, joking. Whatever. That's disrespectful. But you see what I'm saying. Like, he was saying, maybe as a conversation with a co-worker maybe it was a letter I wrote. He said, maybe it was a meeting I led. My goal was, with my whole heart, to do just a small little thing to polish up that Coca-Cola brand a little bit every day. And I just wonder if you're aware of the fact that one of the synonyms for being a Jesus follower, because that's what we're talking about. When we say, I follow Jesus. I'm a part of the church. I'm a Christian. I'm a Christ-follower. I want my life to be a little Jesus, a little picture of heaven. I want to be a little part of that, a brick in the wall.

What we're saying is, I want to be an ambassador. In fact, that's how 2 Corinthians 5 puts it. To be a Jesus follower, let's look at this. "You are His ambassador, an ambassador for Christ, as though God were pleading through us, we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God". What does that mean? He's saying, we're God's royal representatives. And that when we talk to people, we should picture it like God's trying to talk to them through us. Wow. So our feeble attempts to love people well should be with this in mind. God help the interaction, however that looks in the moment.

Maybe it's just me doing a really great job and so thriving in my position that I have respect and platform, that people want to listen to what I have to say, that people will crave an audience with me. They'll want me to be featured in their Fast Company article or on their leadership podcast. Because I do so well at whatever I do. Like, that would be our heart. And I pray that, as a part of this church, you would just excel at what you do in whatever that looks like. And that's a wonderful thing to want to see happen. And yet, you're in your mind in all of it saying, God, bless me and use me in such a way that through me, people would be being communicated to.

You can be restored in your life. You can be restored. You can be reconciled to God. You can have the broken parts in your heart filled. You can have the hurt parts in your life healed. Be reconciled to God. I'm just telling you, there's a lot of people in this world who are looking to drugs to fill that void. Looking to free sex to fill that void. Hoping that next party, that next high, why do you think people use words like home to describe heroin? The high from heroin, many people have said, it's a feeling of home. And that just for a fleeting second, they feel home. Why? Because we're all looking for that home.

And here's what we have in Jesus, we have true home. "In my Father's house are many mansions. I've prepared a place for you. This is my Father's house". That's what Jesus said. So there's this sense of being reconciled, of having what's empty filled, of having what's broken healed, of having what's torn mended, of having the parts of your life that are full of thorns turn into to vibrant, fresh, and flourishing, healed, and whole, worthwhile parts of your, that's what God's trying to communicate to us. So we have to see ourselves as His ambassadors. An ambassador is a royal representative. An ambassador is someone sent sovereign into another place to prepare things for His arrival.

That's what we're doing. Heaven's coming to this world, y'all. There's a date it's coming. Heaven's going to come down adorned like a bride, covered up in the righteousness of Jesus. Heaven's not in a cloud forever. It's here on this earth, a brand new, renewed earth. This is where we're going to live. This is where we're going to love. This is where we're going to serve Him. This is where we're going to celebrate. This is where the party is going to last forever and ever and ever.

And we're getting things ready. We're trying to help people be ready for that day, helping people see that they're wanted on that day, that Jesus died for them, that He rose for them. We're His representatives. We're on mission. We're here to do that. And that's a privilege. That's a unique and awesome privilege. And listen, the brand is in your hand. The brand is in your hand. The brand, the brand is in your hand. And how we live causes people to think about Jesus one way or another. William Barclay put it this way when he said, "Here is the Christian's proud privilege and almost terrifying responsibility, the honor of Christ and of the church are in the hands of each one of us. By every word and action, we can make others think more or less of our church and more and less of our master".

It's an awesome privilege. I bought my girls... my wife bought them. I put it together and tried to get it to work. And it didn't work, a toy, and here's a picture of it. This is a bubble volcano. The promise that was made to me was up to 100,000 bubbles in a few minutes. Big, massive, enormous, lots of bubbles. Look at the picture on the top. Look at the wonder of these kids. Look at the things they're saying. Amazing, fantastic. That's a lot of promises made. And here's what it looked like in reality. Not pleased. Do you think that when I see that company logo in other products they make, my heart's going to leap to see this for our kids? Womp womp. I don't think so. I don't think I'm going to be very excited because they didn't live up to their promise.

And I hope that, as we represent Jesus, that's not the reaction the world has to what Fresh Life is and to what Jesus is because of their time around us. In Jesus' name, you receive that? It's a privilege. But it's a terrible thing in a sense. Now, let's wrap this all up. Because we're, I said, imperfect, we're earthen vessels and we have this treasure in earthen vessels. So none of us are going to get it right all the time. And I know part of the hearing this is like, gosh, maybe I shouldn't tell anybody I'm a Christian, right? I just think of all the ways I haven't lived up to this. I think of all the times I haven't done well.

And I want to end with this. I want to end by charging you, when you fail, and you will fail as a ambassador, just make sure it's a spectacular failure. Just make sure it's a spectacular failure. And you're like, no, Levi. That's the problem. It was, actually, a spectacular failure. No, no. I'm saying that the spectacular part comes after you fail with what you do next. And here's how I wrote it down. I'm just going to say it like I wrote it. Even our low moments can be salvaged if we choose humility and vulnerability. Even our low moments as ambassadors can be salvaged. Look, I'm going to just be real.

I feel so often times like my Christian life is a dumpster fire. And there's just moments where I come to my senses and just see for a moment I've just been so selfish. And that's just what it means to be an earthen vessel. God's chosen to wrap up the knowledge of the power of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in frail, dirty packets. And He could've picked angels, and they're actually confused as to why He didn't. But He picked you and me, that He might get the glory when He uses us. And so it's not that we're always going to get it right. It's how we choose to respond when we blow it in Jesus' name. And what does that mean? Humility and vulnerability.

I was at a conference in Chicago recently and I was listening to a restaurateur give a talk on how to lead restaurants. And he said, look, we're going to get hairs in food and we're going to mess the orders up. And we're going to blow it and double book a table. He goes, it's not if, it's when. I run all these restaurants. It's going to happen. So he said, we teach in our team the five A's of making mistakes well. The five A's of making mistakes well. And here they are.

He said, you number one, be aware of the mistake. Number two, you acknowledge it. Number three, you apologize for it. Number four, you act on it. And then number five, he said, you apply additional generosity. And so I think that could be in our perspective. We're going to blow it as Jesus' followers. But come on. Let's fail well. Let's fail spectacularly. Let's make sure that we, that was not right. Shouldn't have done that. I blew it. And let's, in Jesus' name, live a life that anyone up in our boat is going to receive a blessing because we're mad about the house. Wait. There it is. There's the madhouse in Jesus' name.
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