Levi Lusko - Helter-Skelter
We're starting up a new series of messages this weekend. We'd like to do what we call a series which is a collection of talks. It's really one sermon broken up over multiple weeks. And so we invite you back as we just continue this dialogue. This collection is called Morning, Noon, and Night. And if you have a copy of the scriptures, make your way to Luke chapter 10. That's where we're going to be. We're talking in this series about the rhythms of a healthy soul. Morning, Noon, and Night, the rhythms of a healthy soul.
And we're going to begin with a talk that I'm giving this title today for my message, Helter-Skelter. Shout out to the Beatles for a little help for my sermon title this week, Helter-Skelter. Rhythms of a healthy soul, Morning, Noon, and Night. Luke 10 says in verse 38, now as they went on their way (this is Jesus and His disciples) Jesus entered a village. It's called Bethany, by the way. And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. Whose house was it? Martha's house. And she, Martha, had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.
And she went up to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me". But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her". Would you pray with me just for a moment?
Father, we thank you for this time and your words. Thank you even just for the reading of your word and how we feel that settle us, how we feel that just sweep over us like a comforter, like an ocean wave. It's so different from any other words, we will hear, or words we will read, words we will digest and process today. Because your words give us life. We care and think a lot about the kind of things we eat. We're worried about how much avocado we can get our hands on if we're trying to stay in ketosis. And we think about whether our 16-hour time-frame. Has been met when we're trying to fast intermittently. We give thought to whether we're eating paleo or whether our carbs are too low or too high, but we forget so often that the kind of words that we need are the words that come from above, the words that come from your mouth. Help us to be at least as aware of our spiritual needs as we give thought to our physical needs. We pray, God, that you would help us to care more about having a healthy soul. And we ask that if anyone has come into our gathering as it plays out across these four states and different locations and devices. We pray that you would, if anyone listening has come in who's hurting, who is without God, who's without hope in this world, we pray you would draw them to yourself through your spirit and we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Now what exactly is happening here in Luke chapter 10 that has caused Jesus to celebrate one sister and to sort of publicly shame another one, right? I mean, He was really shaming her but she got a tsk, tsk for sure, right? "Martha, Martha". Two Marthas? Any child knows, mom rolls out the middle name, not a good sign. You get your last name involved in it, it's a real bad day. But the doubling of your name is no compliment. It's, "Martha, Martha. Whomp, whomp, whomp". This is not a good day. So what is it that has Jesus so happy about what one sister contributes and so disappointed with the other? Well, let's be clear. He's not highlighting one personality type above another. This isn't an enneagram issue because there are Mary people and there are Martha people by design, as God has put within us.
That's why one of the things we do when you want to volunteer and join one of our teams is, as we go through the crash course journey with you, we take you through a personality test. We want you to figure out who you are. We want you to figure out who God built you to be. We're going to give you a spiritual gifts test to sort of figure out what God packed into your heart. The Bible talks about different gifts and the Bible says that God is given every single person at least one spiritual gift (in many cases, several of them) and to try and navigate that. Sometimes it's process of elimination. You travel around and go, you know, that wasn't really my sweet spot. We want want to figure that out and we want that to be on a journey that we're going on with you.
So we're not saying one makeup is better than another. Because Mary people notice the colors. Martha people have the compass. God bless Martha people. You want to go on a hike with someone who is a Martha person. "Isn't it beautiful", Mary says. And Martha says, "We're a long way from the road. We need to get back. The sunset is coming. We don't want to be out here". The Mary person is like, "Did you see the flowers"? And the Martha person says, "This way's north". You know what I'm saying? You want a Martha person in every team. You want a couple Martha people, all right? And so Jesus isn't shaming her because of how she was built. He built her ENTJ, y'all. He knows her Myers-Briggs. He's got her number and He loves that.
In fact, regardless of whether you're a Mary type or Martha type, every single one of us should have the heart to serve like a Martha. In fact, Jesus put that very clearly and very explicitly, didn't He, when He said in Mark 10, "But among you it will be different". Because in the world, it's all about power. But, "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be a servant". You want to be first? Be the slave of everybody. For even the son of man came not to be served but to pull a Martha and to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. So Mary is not better than Martha because she wasn't serving and Martha is not worse than Mary because she was serving. Martha's problem was not what she did but how she did it and what she missed out on because of that.
What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say Martha didn't do a bad thing. She did a good thing in the wrong way because she lost her center. She lost her heart. She lost her why. Eugene Peterson puts it this way. When he says in a message he gave on this text, he said, "Martha was distracted with much serving. Distracted means not paying attention. It means not having a center or an anchor, being pulled this way and pulled that way by whoever and by whatever".
If you're a leader in a business setting or if you're a leader in an educational setting, whatever way you find yourself seeking to motivate a group of people, it's incredibly important that you don't just focus on the what but you also focus at least as much amount of time on the why. When you gather the unit, when you gather your company, when you gather the staff, when you gather the people, we just this summer not only had an amazing Movement Camp but we also had what we call our staff advance. This is where we pull in every single person who works for the church, and we take a couple days, and we really just talk about the why. We try and get our heart beat synced up again. We try and get our core strong. We try and get focused in. We're not just going to talk about the program.
Here's what we're going to do this year, and here's the things that are happening, and you need to hear some things that... why are we doing this? Why should we sacrifice? Why does this matter? It's all about that why. When you lose your why, you always lose your way. And Martha, it's clear, has lost the why. Now if she hadn't been the way she was, there would be no gathering for Mary to sit at Jesus' feet, right? It's like, "Oh, Mary, how great. We should all just be more like Mary".
OK, well, I'm thankful that Martha got the guacamole. So Mary with all of her how beautiful everything is didn't buy any food, OK? So it's good that Martha did this. She just lost the why. She got so wrapped up in the party being perfect, she forgot about the guest of honor. This is the dad who's so good to plan a vacation and get the family to Disneyland, but they're like, "You didn't have fun? Do you know how much this costs"? It's like, "Well, yeah, great. We're having the best time of our lives. Thanks a lot". It's like, if you lose the why, you lose the way. Why are we here?
She got so wrapped up in her party she was planning for Jesus, she forgot about Jesus. She forgot about just simply being present with Jesus. And when we do that, when we lose the anchor, when we lose the center, when we lose the heart, when we get wrapped up with the distractions that easily set in, what happens? Well, you're headed for burnout. You're headed for resentment eventually. You're headed then, strangely enough, for jealousy. And finally, you can end up in the dangerous position of trying to correct God. Because not only did Martha now start to feel a sense of what's Mary doing and how Mary should be living, which is easy to do. When you've burnt out, when you've lost your core, you then look at other people and begin to critique them.
Well, they're not doing what they should be doing because you're not right. Things aren't right for you. You've got things not good in here. And so what you do is you project out your issues on other people and you start to be an expert in how other people should be living their lives. She knew perfectly how Mary should be Mary, which was to try and become a little bit more like Martha. Yeah, because that's going so well for Martha, right? But after that, she makes the audacious step to begin to chastise Jesus and to tell Jesus how Jesus should be Jesus. Because notice, they're sitting at the table. She invited Him into the house. She threw a lavish party for Him, but she's gotten so wrapped up in the what and forgotten about the why and the who that she not only is angry at Mary but she actually interrupts Jesus' message.
Can you imagine? "Excuse me. I'mma let you finish in a second". But she says, "Jesus, tell my sister she needs to help me. Why do you not care"? She's accusing Jesus of not caring. "Don't you care about my party that I'm throwing for you? Don't you feel honored? Are you not entertained", she's saying. "So stop your preaching and tell Mary to get in the kitchen because I'm burning the potatoes at present". Sermon in a sentence time. If the things we are doing for God aren't fueled by the time we're spending with God, we will eventually begin to think that we're God. We're going to act like we're God. We'll begin to, in the situation, forget that there is a King and it's not us, that there's someone on the throne. It's not meant to be me and it's not meant to be you.
Martha has gone helter-skelter. She is a hot mess in this moment. But the point of this message isn't to shame Martha. It's to learn from Mary so that we can rise up and serve with a heart like Martha, served with the skills that God's given to us. But when we miss that moment, when we missed that purpose, when we miss that beating heart, what ends up happening? We get distracted with many things and then inevitably we end up, from the mouth of Jesus, anxious and troubled. Anxious and troubled when we're not getting that time with Jesus like we're supposed to, we end up giving ourselves over to anxiety and trouble.
Now it's not just the dinner party that fuels this. I think in our day, it's also the device that we're trying to look at while we're planning the dinner party. Because we're on Pinterest, looking at the epic thing that's got to be the thing, and then we get to get for the thing. But we also have to have the YouTube running because that's the video we were watching, telling us how to cook the stupid thing. And YouTube Red allows us to be able to minimize it, so the video can be in the background now if we pay for that subscription. So now we can have the YouTube video continuing to narrate while we look back to Pinterest to see how much better that picture was than actually what we've thrown together. Meanwhile, we're on Instagram. Oh my gosh, my friend successfully pulled it off. And look who's there, but I didn't get invited to that thing.
And now we're not even liking our thing because we couldn't be at the thing because we were having a thing, but we're mad because we're not at their thing. Oh, and there's something I need to buy on Amazon because it's not here. So now I'm on that app too. You ever get to that point you're like, I need another device. Siri, where's my other device? And so now you've got the iPad propped up over here and you get this over here. Luckily, the iPad, when you minimize the video, it actually shows a little box there. So you got that over here. Where can I put my laptop? Could I have that over here? And then we get to a place where, what happens? We end up distracted. We're not in the moment. We're not engaged. And then inevitably, distraction leads to anxiety and trouble.
And soon, we've lost our way because we're so divided. We're so pulled in every direction, we're not giving much of ourselves to any of the multitude of things that we're trying to do on any given moment. Not just the dinner but the devices. 1,617 is the number right now. On average, Americans touch the screens of their phones 1,617 times per day. There are only 1,440 minutes per day. Just so you know, we are touching our phones on the average day more times in the day than there are minutes in that day. Four hours per day of phone usage. Now some of you have apps that monitor it and you're like, "I beat that all the time". That's not a good thing. Four hours is average. But that's not including TV consumption, which is another four hours.
So what does that mean? That means in the day that we're living in, distraction is a full-time job, as many of us spend 40 hours per week given over to a pull, a compulsive pull, a distracted pull. Apps here, watching this, but then thinking, "Oh, I need to go over here". And frustrated at Netflix because it won't continue playing in the background so we can quickly jump over here and do something else. And what does it lead to? Anxiety and trouble. Did you know a 2014 study found that the rates of anxiety people feel can be directly correlated to the amount of TV news they consume?
When the Boston Marathon bombing happened in 2013, they actually did a sampling and they found out that if people watched six hours of coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing that they found out that they exhibited more PTSD symptoms than the people that were actually present in the crowd for the bomb that day, actually feeling a sense of trauma from watching nonstop coverage of these never ending crises that take place in our day. Americans were asked last year, "Do you feel more anxiety than you did at this time last year"? And 39% of Americans say, I feel more anxious right now than I did a year ago.
Isn't it interesting that our attention span is shrinking, our time on these devices is increasing, but so with it, so level of our distraction, comes what Jesus called anxiety and trouble. Now why is it so hard not to open these apps back up? Because I think deep down, we know in our heads, "I need less screen time. I need more fresh air. I need more time talking to people face to face". Because they've proven that social media is actually not social and that we actually need that time with other people face to face. So I think, deep down, we know that. So why is it so easy to just pull it back out again? Even though it diminishes our productivity. They actually have found it takes exactly 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back full-force into whatever you are working on after a distraction.
So every time you pull that back out, "I'm just going to, for one quick second, refresh this. One quick second, check the images. One quick second, I got that ping. Just one quick second", they actually found it's about 23 minutes and 15 seconds before your mind can fully get back to whatever you were working on before. So there's a cost for that distraction, not of the actual time that was spent consuming the thing, but actually now the time that your brain has to slowly but surely get back into the deep place of work. But some of us never get back to that because we'll never go a full 23 minutes without refreshing. Oh, are you kidding me? There's only 1,440 minutes. I've got to get my 16, 17 swipes in. I can stop at anytime I want it.
Just one more time and then I'll be done. Anxiety and trouble. How is it so easy to spend so much time on these devices and how is it so hard to stop? Because some of the smartest people in the world have designed these apps to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to make it as easy as possible for you to go back into it. A study was done with pigeons and in this study, they had a lever that if the pigeons pecked it, they got a pellet. And they found that the pigeons, once they discovered this, were happy about it. And they would push the lever and get the pellet. And then they would sometimes come back to it and sometimes not.
And the novelty soon wore off and eventually they didn't care too much about the pellet. They would just get a pellet whenever they needed it. They saw this as a delivery vehicle for pellets. But then they toyed with the system and they designed it to where if they push the lever, sometimes they got a pellet and sometimes they did not. And Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism, he uses this study to talk about how once they made the system irregular, spontaneously, it would work. Sometimes it would not. They'd push it for a little bit. He talks about in his book how once that change was made, the pigeons became full-fledged addicts to this. And they would sit there, pushing it, not knowing if they were going to get it or if they weren't.
And they would actually sit there and pecking it until it destroyed their health. They couldn't be convinced to leave the lever because there was a novelty to whether they were going to get a pellet or not, much like a slot machine, which by the way, more money is put into slot machines than is spent on the entire film industry and Major League Baseball added together. And people sit there like pigeons because they don't know if they're going to get a reward. Sometimes I get a reward, sometimes I don't. And your brain just keeps saying, will this be the time, will this be the time, will this be the time? Which is the same technology in place in many apps.
If you have an app on your phone that you didn't have to pay to install, they're getting money somehow. And the money they're getting is, in many cases, from advertisers who, they need to show to the advertisers if you buy these ads, here's what value you're going to get. And what value is it? You and me, little pieces of our souls at a time. So it's in their best interest to make us open. They are tracking every time you open it. They're tracking how long you stay on there. They're tracking how many times you swipe and they're doing everything they can to make it as probable that you'll spend as much time and open that app as frequently as possible. And one of the things that whistle-blowers have admitted that they do is they withhold likes and they cluster them so that not every time you open up that app and refresh it, you'll get a couple likes.
If you get it every time, your brain will eventually go, don't care about it anymore. But if sometimes you get likes and sometimes you don't, and sometimes you get told you got tagged and sometimes you don't, your brain is going to go, I wonder if this is the time. And you'll have to compulsively refresh it like the pigeon pushing the lever to see if this time is going to be the time. Now, now, hearing all this, this isn't the anti-Instagram, destroy your technology, let's all build butter churns. That's not the message. We're preaching a sermon on the technology that God's given to us, and we're happy to be doing so.
This is the sermon saying, let's use technology and not be used by technology. Let's realize the system is rigged and not in our favor. Let's get our souls back. Let's not be given over to what is leading us to higher levels of anxiety and trouble. This sermon series, Morning, Noon, and Night is my response to things that God's been whispering to me. Every summer when we bring guests in for a season, I'm able to take a preaching break and just really give some time over to hearing from God. And this is the result of things that God has been speaking to me and things that I've been putting in place in my life. And this is now my chance to share with you some things that have been helping me. I'm on journey just like you, but God's growing me and I'm excited about what He's sharing with me.
And one of the things that He's really just been speaking in my heart is rejecting the idea of, I have to be busy, rejecting it. I cannot tell you how many times in casual conversations with friends and people I've just met alike the word busy is used in conversation. How you doing? Super good just crazy busy. Doing great. Summer's awesome. Just super busy. And even people ask me too. They go how you been? Doing good. You've been busy? Just been crazy busy, like the rest of us? Summer been busy, just mad busy? And so I just started going, no, I'm not speaking that over my life. I'm not busy. You want to know why? I'm just standing right here, talking to you right now.
And then I'm going to go do something else. Do I got responsibility I got to carry? Absolutely. Do I got a lot on my plate? Uh-huh. But I also got the Holy Spirit who's giving me strength. I'm not busy. I'm just right here, right now. I got stuff to do but I'm not busy. You see, being busy is a choice. Being busy is a state of mind. Being busy is a lie that you can get trapped into, where you've got to jump over here, and then you got to go over here, and you got to be here, but be secretly thinking about the other things you need to do. But we've got to learn from Jesus who said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me". Jesus wasn't crazy busy. Weight of the world bearing down on Him? Uh-huh. Came to save all of humanity? For sure. But He was going to weddings and stuff. You just see Him cruising around.
What are you doing? I got invited to this wedding. It's awesome. Oh, they ran out of wine. I'll be right back. Cabernet. It's like, wait. What are you even talking about? Don't you need to go die on the cross? Yeah, probably. But God will let me know when it's time. My time's not yet come. You can't be pushing me to make me a king. You can't be pushing me into being busy. You can't be pushing me to being stressed. Someone tapped me. I got to heal him real quick. I'm present where I am. I'm choosing to be here in this moment. I'm going to look you in the eyes. Here, look, there's other stuff happening in the world, but we're right here right now. This is all we get, this moment, this instance. God is here.
You are here. We're never getting this moment again. I'm not going to be here and simultaneously be there. I'm not going to be trying to live my life while secretly being jealous of your life or what God's doing through you. I'm going to be present. I'm going to be focused. I'm going to be right here right now. I reject the notion and the push and the pull to be busy. I'm going to breathe. I'm going to drink deeply of this life that Jesus died for me to live. Where do you want to be? Who do you want to become? What do you want life to look like in 10 years?
Came across a Chinese proverb a while ago. Ancient Chinese proverb is probably worth reading, right? It's like, Chinese proverb... all right then. Any young, aspiring preachers in the room, just throw a Chinese proverb every once in a while in, every third sermon, and you'll just, wow, that Chinese proverb, huh? Yeah. Chinese proverb. I must read it to you exactly like it occurred. "If you don't change your direction, you'll end up exactly where you're going". If you don't change your direction, you'll end up exactly where you're going. So my question to you is, with the life you're living right now, where is that going to take you? Where will you be in five years? Where will you be in 10 years? Will you be full of peace or will you have higher rates of anxiety and trouble?
The single most valuable currency you have to spend is your attention. So what are you paying attention to? "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society", one philosopher said. So as we look at what we're doing and we go, I'm not happy and I'm not peace filled, but that's OK because it's normal. It's normal to live that way. It's normal to live this way. We should reject the idea and the notion of normal if what's normal isn't healthy, if what's normal isn't what God's called us to. Let's live a life based on calling and conviction, not normalcy and addiction. Let's do what God's called us to do. Let's hear the voice of our shepherd, leading us to the still waters, leading us to the green pastures, leading us to the table He's prepared for us in the table of our enemies. It's possible to gain the whole world wide web and lose your soul, but God wants our souls to be healthy.
If we want to have a healthy soul, we have to learn to do what David did. David said in Psalm 131, "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother. Like a weaned child is my soul within me". You have to learn to calm and quiet your soul if you're to have a soul that's like a weaned child. And what's a child that's not weaned? That's a child that's still being breastfed. You ever seen a child that's ready to get breastfed trying to tear his mother's clothing off? He can't enjoy being with her because he wants something from her. That's Martha in this moment. So you're with Jesus. But I want something from Jesus. I want you to tell her what to do.
What are you doing through this person? With Jesus but missing it because all you want from Jesus. Mary is like a weaned child. She now can just simply, having been well-fed and given a meal, now she can just snuggle up to her mom, snuggle up to her dad. I don't want anything from you. I just see the benefit and calm of being with you. If you want to be like a weaned child, so your soul within you able to just find pleasure in being with God, not needing anything from God, not striving but just appreciating His grace, appreciating His presence, and learning the art and cultivation of that practice, of those deep, beautiful, sweet things that lead to the life that we want. Because that's what I want.
As I look into the future, I want to be healthy and your pastor 20 years from now. I want to be the husband of my bride 20 years from now. I want to be in meaningful relationship with all of my children 20 years from now. I want to be looking into the next season. I'm looking into the future and I want to steer. And I see some things in me that I see taking me away from where I want to go, and I declare war on those things that would cause me to not have a calm and quiet soul.
So I'm like, David? Where are you, David? How'd you do that? Great, I've calmed and quited myself. That's amazing. I need that. I would love that. I got itchy fingers right now. It's been 20 minutes since I've touched my phone. How did you do that? Because David was up against some stuff. You want to talk about anxiety and trouble? Lions be attacking him. His father-in-law attacking him. His crazy life. One time he had a crazy wife who was mad at him for worshipping. I mean, just David's life, right? So how did he do it? Actually we're in luck because David told us how he put in place a trellis for the vines he wanted to grow. It takes a framework, you see. Vines can't grow up without something to attach themselves to.
So the life he wanted to grow, y'all, you could say the Fresh Life he wanted to see inside of his heart, he knew what you need to know. There needed to be a trellis so that vine could climb. And he tells us exactly what he did. He was something quite rigid, in fact. He said in Psalm 55, verse 16, "I will call on God and the Lord will rescue me morning, noon, and night. I will cry out in my distress and the Lord hears my voice". That's what David did. David didn't just say, well, I'm going to have my quiet time. I'm not just going to have my time that I set aside with God.
I like to call it a pregame. You have your game, which is your day. You have a pregame, where you prep for the day, where you train for the trial you're not yet in, where you learn to put your war paint on. You choose to speak some things over yourself. You choose to get ready to go out there. You're not ready to face the game without your game face on, y'all. You're basically the equivalent of being in that locker room with Rudy and the rest of the Notre Dame. Whatever that is, we are essentially saying to yourself, I've got a lot on my plate today. I want to love some people today. I want to be present today. We call that quiet time. That's great.
I think it's so important. But I've found that that's not enough because a couple hours into my day, I start to get crazy. Couple hours into my day, I start to get restless. I start to be squirming like that unweaned child. I start clamoring and getting cranky. I start getting fussy and selfish. So I realized that David was smart because he realized that wore off, that quiet time. So he said, I'm going to need me some morning, and some noon, and some night. And it doesn't mean you're going to go take an hour. It could be as simple as a quiet two-minute break for water, a couple deep breaths in. It could be just saying the Lord's Prayer or saying Psalm 23, quoting back to yourself a verse that you remember from that morning time with Jesus. It could be a simple worship song. Just throw those ear buds in.
Throw your phone on airplane mode. It could be getting up from your desk and just taking a walk around the block and really being conscious of a deep breath. It could just be as simple as just a quiet moment where you shut your eyes just for a minute, and you just say the name Jesus, and you thank Him for His presence, and you see yourself quieting and calming your soul. These have been some things that I've really been finding in my own heart combating anxiety, combating the strife, and the stress, and the desperation that sometimes we feel, and letting Jesus give you that strength. Now no one of these prayers is the breakthrough. No one of these powerful moments is the one.
At Movement Camp, I was talking to the students about Daniel and the lion's den. And we'd all love to think that if Christianity were outlawed, stop praying or you're going in the pit, that we would all have the fortitude to pray anyway. We'd all love to have faith when it counts. And I told the students, if you want to have faith when it counts, what you have to do is demonstrate that faith when it doesn't count. Because it's the private discipline that leads to public victory. You want to know how Daniel got the strength to go into the lion's den? Well, Daniel 6:10, he knew the writing was signed. It was now illegal to pray. He went home and he went to his upper room with his windows open toward Jerusalem. He knelt down on his knees three times that day. Y'all, you could say he prayed morning, noon, night. Just want you to see where the sermon series came from. Like, where do you come up with this one from? Just the Bible, y'all.
So it's all I got. I can't juggle or anything. He knelt down (actually I can kind of juggle a little bit) and he prayed, and he gave thanks before his God. But here's the big part. As was his custom since his early days... Daniel learned to pray as a teenager and when he was 16, he developed some disciplines that were benefiting him all the way to when he was 70 in the days of King Cyrus. His faith from a childhood nascent state led him all the way through three kingdoms in the most powerful, prolific, prophetic book that we have in the Old Testament. Daniel's faith as a child is what carried him through his entire life and a powerful ministry. It was these disciplines, it was these rhythms, it was these small things done in secret.
And over time, it's no one prayer session, it's no one worship song, it's no one saying the Lord's Prayer that's can do it for you, but it's the cumulative, freight train-like effect of when you do it, and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, and you do it. Is it working? I don't know. Are you doing it? I was really blessed. I came across a book written by a guy named Alan Stein, whose a performance coach who wrote a book called Raise Your Game. It's mostly for athletes. But he talks in the book about a time when he got to meet Kobe Bryant at the top of his game. And he asked permission of Kobe to watch him train. They were doing event together for Nike and he said, can I watch you practice? And he said, yeah. I'll be there at 4:00 if you want to watch. And he goes, we have an event at 3:30.
How's that going to work? He goes, I mean 4:00 AM. He's like, oh God, you're Kobe freaking Bryant. I'm going to work out at 4:00 AM. So he shows up. He's got himself some coffee. He's in the practice gym. And he says, "For 45 minutes, I was shocked. For 45 minutes, I watched the best player in the world do the most basic drills. I watched the best player on the planet do basic ball handling drills. I watched the best player on the planet do basic footwork". Thinking it was going to be something sizzling hot, flashy, he says, nope.
"I watched the best player on the planet do basic offensive moves. Granted, he did everything with surgical precision and superhero intensity, but the stuff he was doing was so simple. I couldn't believe it. Later that day, I went over to him. 'Thanks again,' I said. 'I really enjoyed watching your workout this morning.' 'No problem,' Kobe replied. Then I hesitated, not wanting to sound rude (or worse) condescending. But I asked him this. 'You're the best player in the world. Why do such basic stuff?' He flashed that gleaming smile of his and said, 'Why do you think I'm the best player in the game? It's because I never got bored with the basics.' He knew that if his footwork was not razor sharp, then the rest of the move would never be as good as it could be. He knew that the only way to do that was through sheer repetition. If someone at Kobe's level needs to commit hours to practicing the fundamentals, then so do all of us. Kobe taught me a pivotal lesson that morning. The basics are simple, but not easy. If they were easy, everyone would do them".
Y'all, I think sometimes we look at our life and we think of what we would need for us to get to that next level. We think of what God would need to do and we think it's got to be some breakthrough altar call. It's going to be some powerful thing that's going to happen. We think it couldn't possibly be as simple as just reading the Bible and praying. It couldn't possibly be as simple as just showing up for church week after week, not missing the chance to gather together with God's people. It couldn't possibly be as simple as joining a small group. We hear everyone talking about, you got to be on a team, and you got to tithe, and you got to pray. And you go, that's great, but isn't there an essential oil that I could find? If I could get the right one and defuse it in my home, I'd be less stressed.
I saw that they actually just found a new bush in Utah and this one has the effect on your life of not needing your phone as much. How did you hear about that? On my phone. But if you just pray for me, Pastor Levi... no. Listen, you just got to do the reps. It's about the footwork. It's not the fancy stuff. It's another layup. It's another three-pointer. It's another wind sprint. It's watching what you eat. It's spending less than you earn. It's given your first and best to Jesus. It's rising while it's still day. It's finding a lonely mountain to pray on. It's trusting in God. It's honoring Him, it's integrity, it's character, it's compassion, it's seeking first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added onto you.
It's not some magic silver bullet. It's not some 1-900 call of... it's just trusting in Him. It's reading His word and putting it into practice, and then waking up tomorrow and doing it again. Morning, noon, night, it's quiet in my soul. Martha wanted to tell Jesus what to do. Mary wanted to listen to what Jesus said He was going to do. Do you see the world of differences there? It's as big of a chasm as my will be done and thy will be done. Mary discovered that when you sit at Jesus' feet, you know things other people don't know. How do they know that? How do they act like that, such confidence?
When you sit at Jesus' feet, you know things other people don't know. When you get to John chapter 12, there's a party. And Jesus is sitting there and Mary comes out. She pours out this precious anointing oil on His feet. It was worth, like, two years' salary. She pours it out. And the people were like, what the heck? And Jesus is like, stop it. She knows what I'm about to do. No one else knew Jesus was about to die on that cross, not even His disciples. They were surprised. Mary wasn't surprised. She saw it coming. He said, she realizes this is the only anointing my body's going to get before I do the work of the cross.
How did she know to do that? How was she there at the right time? How did she know to invest in that stock just before it went gangbusters? Because she sat at His feet and she listened to what He had to say. And the Bible promises it could be that way for you too. Why? Because the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him. As you're sitting at His feet, you'll be His confidant. He'll trust you with things other people won't hear. You won't miss out on that chance to hear what He wants to do in the world and you'll get to be a part of it. In Jesus' name. You receive it? Yes.
Father, thank you for this time and your word. Help us to have that Mary heart and that Martha work ethic. Help us to sit at your feet, to calm and quiet our souls. We don't want anything from you. We just want you.
As we're praying and responding to the Holy Spirit moving in our midst in this moment, if you're here and you embrace that life of quiet, if you're here and within you, something says, I need that. I don't want this anxiety and trouble of this world. I want the perfect peace that Jesus promises. Can I just ask that you'd to raise up a hand in the air? All across the church, God, quiet and calm our hearts. Give us your spirit. Give us your strength. Give us resolve to not try it for a couple days and then get weary, for those thousands upon thousands of reps, those thousands upon thousands of layups, those 4:00 AM wake-up calls, doing today what no one else is willing to do so we could do tomorrow what no one else will be able to do.
You can put your hands down. Maybe you're here today and you've never given your life to Jesus. We want to extend an invitation, an opportunity, an open door for you to make that decision. We want this to be a church where you can belong before you believe. But maybe today's the day for you where you would cross over that line and say, hey, I've heard enough. I sense God moving in my heart. I want to give my life to Jesus. I want to give my soul to Him. If that's you I'm describing, I want to say a simple prayer. I'm going to ask the church family to say it with us so that we're showing you we have your back. We accept you into this party. But I want you to pray this prayer out loud with your lips, believing it in your heart, meaning it to God, your Father. And He will hear you and He will heal you as you make this your faith declaration. Say this with us.
Dear God. I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But I believe you can. Because of what Jesus did on the cross. And rising from the dead. So into your hands. I commit my spirit. In Jesus' name I pray.
Now every head bowed, every eyes still closed. If you just made that decision, just gave your heart to God, that was your day of salvation, your moment of rededication. I'm going to count to three. And when I get to three, I want you to shoot your hand up in the air so you can have as an act of the will a moment in time where you nailed this down, where you said, I am a child of God. I am the new creation. I have been set free. I've given my life to Jesus. When I get to three, just shoot your hand up. Church online, there's going to be a link you can click as well to digitally raise your hand. When I get to three, you just shoot that hand up. One, two, three. Shoot your hands up. Praise God all across the church.