Levi Lusko - I Woke Up Like This
I recently preached to our students on this passage of scripture and I just felt like this is something that we need to live in, as a whole church as well. So Genesis 28, as we begin, I'm just curious if you have any sort of peculiar, unique way that you like to begin every day. It seems like, whenever I talk to successful people, in any sense of that word, one thing that they have in common is there is a unique way that they've figured out how to craft sort of their own masterpiece morning routine to get what they want out of each day by launching into it on the right foot. It's possible to salvage a day that's not going well, I want you to know that. It is possible to take a day that has steered itself into the ditch and do some corrective action on it. But why? If you don't have to. Why not begin a day the right way?
I think a lot of times, we end up hitting exactly what we aim for. And if you aim for nothing, listen to me, you'll hit it every single time. So by developing a morning routine, it's possible, this is the reason I spoke this to our young people, is because, as I look back at my life, and if there been anything I've done right that God's been able to bless, one thing has been, there's been a morning routine that I've gone through ever since I gave my life to Jesus. There's something involved in how I begin my day, that starts it on the right foot. Now I've become a student of this, a little bit. And I just love the eclectic, funky, bizarre ways that many high performance individuals choose to start their day.
And so when I listen to interviews or read books by people that I admire or I've seen, the world has seen do things, I always perk up a little bit when I hear them talk about how they begin their day. Oprah Winfrey, for example, she wakes up every day around 6:02. Like bing! 6:02, she wakes up. You know, what's weird about that is that she doesn't set an alarm clock, she doesn't believe it them. She just says to herself before she lays her head on her billion dollar pillow or whatever it is, 6:02, and that's when she wakes up. She then takes her five dogs on a walk, has an espresso, reads truths that she stores in truth box, she pulls five of them out, reads five truths, then she exercises, and then she eats breakfast. And she says without planning it, or working for it, she almost always, as she looks at the clock, is eating breakfast at 8:30 AM. On the dot. As Oprah.
Benjamin Franklin had a famous morning routine. You can Google it and look into what was in it. It was a three hour long way that he began every day. And I won't bore you with all of it, but what is interesting is a part of it was him pausing long enough to ask himself this question, what good shall I do today? That would be a pretty dope thing to incorporate into your morning, wouldn't it? To ask yourself, just sit there with a journal for a quick second, and write down that question, what good shall I do today? What if you put that on your mirror, in lipstick or something. What good shall I do today? What if you didn't touch your phone without first asking yourself the question, what good shall I do today? I can hear someone in our church scheduling a tattoo appointment, even right now, right there on your wrist, all Kendall Jenner style, all little, right? What good shall I do today?
Teddy Roosevelt, y'all, if you've been part of the Church for any length of time, you know I have a serious man-crush on some Teddy Roosevelt. He's amazing. Youngest person to ever hold the office of president. But even on his busiest day, as commander in chief of the United States of America, he read three books per day, minimum. Because I know whenever we talk about reading, everyone's like, I know but I'm so busy. Like, you're not the president and stuff. He always read a minimum of three books per day. And you go, how do you how do you even do that? He said, well, I always read one before breakfast. So that's how you get that done. You read a book even before you have breakfast.
That's why they put Teddy Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore, by the way, right? And not me. Mark Wahlberg, he one day posted his freak show morning routine on Instagram. I had to screen capture it before it went away because it just seemed too crazy to believe. He wakes up every day, get this, at 2:30 AM. He has time for prayer, first thing, then he has breakfast, then his first workout of the day, then he plays golf, then he does cryo, and it's just 10:30. And then he has his whole day in front of him, at that point. Jane Austen, famous author, she would wake up and immediately play the piano, make breakfast for their family, then she would sit down for that day's writing. And she would do nothing else until that creative writing time had been done. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, she starts her day, every single day, with a one hour long tennis match at 5:45 AM.
Famous self-help guru Tony Robbins jumps into a 57 degree cold plunge. That's the first thing he does and he has one of these installed at every single one of his houses around the world. And he explains that it's better than coffee, you are wide awake, 57 degree water. So he gets out of bed, disrobes, bam! Jumps in the water. And he also says it's likely to be the worst thing that happens to him every day so might as well get it out of the way, right then and there, and from that moment forward, anything is an improvement. My personal favorite though, is Winston Churchill. Churchill woke up every single day at 7:30 AM but did not get out of bed until 11. And while lying in pajamas, he would have his breakfast served to him in bed, he would have his mail brought in, along with all the national newspapers, and he would lie there in bed working.
Different secretaries coming in and out and him just continuing on. At 11, he would finally saunter out of bed and probably while on his fourth cigar, he would take his first bath of the day. You're saying, Levi, first bath? Yes, because after now having his day, he would then take a nap and then a second bath. He even had a special bathtub installed on his train car so no matter where he was moving about, he could have his second bath. And the reason he did all that was because he found out he was freshest after he woke up right, right away in the morning. So by having a nap and another bath, he got two mornings for the price of one. So I don't even know what to make of that. And I don't know what of that you want to pull, if anything, into your schedule because I don't know necessarily what it's going to take for you to wake up your body. But here's what I'm here to ask you, what does it take each day to wake up your soul? I want to preach to you a message that I'm calling I woke up like this. I woke up like this.
You see, Beyonce taught us to downplay how much work we've done in our whole vibe but just lying and telling the world, I woke up like this, right? It's like, you and your 30 stylists helped you wake up like this, Beyonce. We're so funny, people are so funny, you compliment someone like, oh you look great. It's like, oh, this old thing? Like pretending like, yeah, this whole thing is like your fourth outfit choice, right? This old thing. I woke up like this. We're going to see someone in scripture who had a powerful encounter with God one morning. That woke his heart up, that woke his soul up. And the world has never been the same. Genesis, chapter 28, starting in verse 10. If you are new to the whole church scene and you don't have a Bible with you, you're not going to feel out of place at all because we're going to put the scriptures up on the screen for you. So you'll arguably have the biggest Bible of us all.
It says in Genesis 28, verse 10, "Now Jacob went out from Beersheba". Someone just woke up, beer what? Is that a place? Can I go there? Is that like an Oktoberfest thing. "And went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and he put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: 'I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.'"
"So Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. And he was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!'" "Then Jacob rose early". Here's his morning routine now, are you ready? So he's had an encounter with God, now it's going to change how he begins days. He rose early in the morning. He took the stone that he had put at his head, he set it up as a pillar, and he poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place, Bethel, which literally translated means "the House of God".
But the name of that city had been Luz previously, but he didn't know that because when he got there it was dark and he just was at a certain place. He's like, I have no idea where I'm at. Not a good camper. He was using a rock for a pillow, guys, right? He's not good with directions. Verse 20, "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set up as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.'" Let's pray together.
Father, we thank you for your word, for the written description of this encounter with Jacob, and how powerful that is. But more than that, how it shows us what we are capable of experiencing, for just as you were with Jacob, in his desert season of the soul. So you are with us here today. There's not a single high schooler, there's not a single mother, there's not a single family, a single person, here today, who's alone. You are with them, and you will be with them wherever they go. I pray you would open our eyes to see that. I pray that you would radically change our hearts, change our lives, and help us to radically change how we begin our days. And I believe that one tiny tweak, could change so much for us. I pray this asking that you would also do what only your spirit can do. And that is change people who don't know you, who are without God, and without hope in this world so that they come to a saving relationship with you that alters everything in their life. I pray this all in Jesus' name. Amen.
There are four different ways that the Bible uses the term sleep. So if we're talking about waking up like this, like Jacob did, it would be good to at least just sort of get an overview of what the Bible means when it talks about sleeping. So, it's a good song. Pretty good. It's pretty good. I like it, it's good. So there's four different ways that the Bible, highly, highly distracted. Easily, easily, easily distracted here. Have a quick sip, recalibrate. It's fine. So four different ways to talk about sleeping. The first is, of course, just the normal way. The way that we talk about sleeping. Like if someone goes to sleep, they just, you know, how many of you know that you snore? Anybody here? Like I know I snore, I've been told I snore. Yeah. Do you ever wake yourself up doing it? I don't always wake myself up snoring though my wife tells me that's a thing. But I do this weird thing where I'm kind of falling asleep, where my lip seal gets broken by a puff of air.
And sometimes if I'm like kind of napping, or catnapping, or like, I'll wake myself up. I was driving from Nashville to Alabama recently and a couple of our staff members were there. And I was so tired, I just preached, and the event was just high stress because the band that was supposed to be playing, they couldn't show up last minute because of the American Airlines variant. I can't call it the Delta variant because I'm a loyal Delta customer so I call it the American Airlines variant. But. So anyhow, I'm all tired, I just preached, we're driving, and I kept waking myself up. And then I was so embarrassed and self-conscious thinking about this weird breathing thing I was doing in front of them. Anyhow, when we talk about sleeping in the first sense of the word, we're just talking about that, right? Where all the weird things happen. You're sleeping physically, taking rest biologically. The Bible does use that term because it says Jesus slept in a boat. And of course, it means that his physical body that he was in, being God, yet coming into a human form to be one of us, to be as us, to die for us, He fell asleep. Awesome.
Instance number 2 of the use of the word sleep, is someone who has died. A person who has died, at times in the Bible. And it's always for a Christian, it's never for an unchristian. When a Christian has died the Bible uses the word sleep to describe that person, right? One example would be in 1 Thessalonians, when Paul the apostle is asked, like what about Christians who have died? Did they miss the Resurrection? Did they miss it because they've already died and and Christ hasn't come in glory yet, so did they miss out on the Resurrection because they're dying? And Paul says no, actually, they're in an enviable state, if anything, because they didn't just die, they fell asleep in Christ. A Christian who dies, the Bible just goes, they just fell asleep, which is pretty awesome. Jesus is the one who introduced such language when his friend Lazarus, who believed in him, had died. The disciples were like, we should go.
And at first, Jesus wasn't urgent at all because he's like, no it's OK, it's OK, it's OK. Then Lazarus died, but then Jesus said we should go now, and he's sleeping, and I'm going to wake him up. And they were confused because they're like, if he's sleeping, he'll get up on his own. But he says no. This is John chapter 11, he says, no, we need to go because our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I'm going to wake him up. And then they were like, wait if he's just sleeping, there's no big deal. And he goes no, Lazarus is dead. They were just highly confused because Jesus is switching back and forth between these metaphors. Why would Jesus call a Christian who has died as someone who's fallen asleep? He wants us to be able to see death the way he sees it, as a temporary arrangement. Y'all how encouraging is it that it's not the end of the road for him. That he doesn't see it as terminal, he doesn't see it as fatal, he doesn't see it as final.
Jesus sees someone who has died as asleep and that's because it's something that he can overcome and bring them out of. And what Paul told the Thessalonians is that every single person whose a believer in Jesus who dies, is not going to stay dead forever in physical form, there is a Resurrection. When the trumpet is sounded, and the angels come down, and Jesus returns in glory. I'm telling you, every single, ain't no grave going to hold that body down. Yeah, I'm telling you. We're going to rise. So if anything, if we would say, wait I know, I love someone who's died, I feel bad for them. He goes no, early to bed, early to rise. The dead in Christ shall rise first. And so, they're not missing out on anything. They will have a front row seat to the physical Resurrection.
But you say to me, Levi, what about in between? If that's what their body is doing because when you attend a funeral of a Christian, you can just see that as a seed going into the ground. A temporary thing. They fall asleep physically, they will rise. Ultimately, an eternity, but what about now? What about in between? In between, we can believe that their true self, their soul, who they are on the inside, has gone to be with Christ, in heaven, between now and then. Which Paul said, and here's my favorite two-word description of heaven, are you ready for it? Far better. To be with Christ, in spirit form, is far better even than what we experience here on this earth. And so we can have a great peace. I know it's still sad when a loved one dies, but we can have confidence, and we can have comfort, we can have hope.
And this fall, at Fresh Life Church, I'm going to be preaching a whole series just on what it does to have hope in your heart going through challenging, difficult, even brutal times. So I want us all to be thinking and praying as we move towards that. Right after Labor Day, we'll be kicking this off. Who we can reach out to in life who has suffered some difficulty or catastrophic loss or is going through a painful season, who we can in courage to come with us, and then we can experience this together because there is such a great power in having hope going through hard times. Amen. Amen. So those are the first two, someone who's actually sleeping, someone who is dead as a believer.
The third way that the New Testament uses the word sleep is to describe somebody who is not a Christian at all. Their state on the inside is essentially asleep, meaning they could wake up to know who God is. They could wake up to no longer be lost. It's that whole Amazing Grace. I once was lost, but now I'm found. I once was blind, and now I see. To be blind and to be lost, the Bible describes such a person as asleep, meaning they're not responsive to who God is, but they could be. And that's why Jesus came. Ephesians invites those who are lost to experience the power of salvation using this language. It says, therefore he says, "Wake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". This is one of the first telling of the gospel stories that we find in scripture as the New Testament began to understand what had been given with the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit. It's this opportunity for people who are lost, people who are dead on the inside to no longer be sleeping, but to be awake.
And then the fourth and final use of the word, if you were asleep but now you're awake is to no longer be going through the motions as a Christian. For the fourth sense in which sleep is used as a metaphor in the New Testament is to describe someone who has passed from death to life, is a Christian. Maybe you said a prayer in vacation Bible school in the third grade. Maybe you knelt by the side of your bed and your mother or father led you in a prayer to give your heart to Jesus. Maybe you responded to an invitation like we'll have at the end of this worship experience. And you did give your life to Jesus. But as time went on, you drifted and your passion began to cool somewhat. And now you're asleep at the wheel of your Christian life. You know Jesus. You're not in any danger of going to hell, but you're not making an impact like you could for heaven right here. You've sort of become a sort of a chameleon, and you blend in to every situation. You don't really ever stand out. You've lost a little bit of the saltiness, like Pastor Tim taught us that we're meant to have, that impact that we're meant to have. You're no longer that peculiar people, that chosen, you're not living like that.
You know Jesus, but you're not living for him or shining brightly. There's sort of a lukewarmness to your walk with God, sort of a tepidness. Are you a Christian? For sure. Yeah. But there's not that zeal. There's not that power. There's not that strength or that vitality. And the tragic thing about this is that this is I think what the enemy wants for us the moment we come to know Jesus. If he can't keep you from getting saved, he wants to keep you from making the impact so that you're not a threat to anybody else that he wants to keep under his grasp. So he wants the church to be asleep and to be full of sleeping people who are not taking it so seriously, who are not so crazy enthusiastic and and over the top about it all. And he would love for you just to sort of be asleep until you die. And then you'll wake up and realize what you could have done while you were still here on the Earth.
It is in this sense that Romans chapter 13, verse 11 uses the sleep metaphor when it says this, "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". What is Paul saying? Paul saying this life is racing by. And the full final extent of our salvation will be realized when we stand before God in heaven. And then you will look back, many of us will look back on this time that we had here and realize, dang it. I missed out on the chance to help and to heal and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You can't share your faith in heaven. You tell someone, do you know about Jesus? Like, yeah, he's right over there. He's actually having a Slurpee. Right. Ah, where's a homeless person in heaven? Not any. They all got mansions. Where someone who needs comfort, there's not a single person. Where's the volunteer firefighter crew in Great Falls that needs new equipment?
Y'all, there's no wildfires in heaven. This is our time to shine. This is our time to engage. This is our time to share our faith. This is our time to stand up and to be willing to be counted as a follower of Christ, whatever it costs us, however difficult it might be, whatever we're ridiculed as. I'm telling you, this is our time. The night is coming. And while it shines, we got to make, hey, this is our chance. So let's not be sleeping at the wheel. Let's not be not paying attention. The hour has come for us to wake up. This is your wake up call. Yeah, I get it. Your body wakes up every day. But what does it take for you each day to wake up your spirit, to wake up the inner person, to wake up that person that is capable of receiving power from God so that you can give it out all day long? I think there's a lot we can learn from Jacob because of his masterpiece morning routine he went through the moment after he encountered God. And arguably, results matter. I mean, scoreboard matters.
So let me just tell you, this that Jacob put into place, simply put, it worked. It worked. What he did here, the motions he went through, I know going through the motions gets a bad rap, but if it's the right motions, it can safeguard your future to where you want to go. Jacob put some of the right motions, the right rhythms into place here. And as we look at his life from before this encounter, this morning moment, to after, he's a completely different person. He even goes by a different name. Now, Jacob, let's deal with the elephant in the room. What does it mean? It means cheater. It was a name spoken over him by his parents, because when he was born, he was born holding onto the foot of his brother, Esau. He was one of two. They were twins. And when Esau came out, Jacob was holding on to his foot. And he hitched a free ride, like Marty McFly style on the back of the Jeep, right? He hitched a ride on out of the womb. And everyone was like, what a little cheater. Little cheater. Dirty little cheater. That was his name. What a name. Thanks, Mom. You know what I'm saying? Thanks. Heel catcher is what the name means, but it was a picture of what, he would live up to that name.
And a lot of times, things end up becoming exactly what we speak over them. So he was called a cheater, and he lived up to that, always swindling, always looking to get ahead. And that's how he ended up in the middle of nowhere on this night, where he went to sleep with only a rock for a pillow. He had cheated his brother Esau one too many times. And finally, Esau decided, I'm going to kill my bro. And everyone's like, ha, ha, ha. His mom was like, actually, I think he might kill you. You need to get out of here. What do you mean, Mom? Because Jacob was a smooth skinned man. He was European, all right? So he did not go camping. He did not go on the hunting trips. He was more comfortable at Neiman Marcus. This cat did not belong in the Bob Marshall wilderness, OK? So when all of a sudden, he's out camping, he's just completely out of his depth. And he has no one. And he has nothing. And he realizes it's all, the chickens have all come home to roost. He made this bed. And now he has to sleep in it.
And God, encountered, he encounters God with all of God's goodness and all of God's glory. And from that moment forward, everything changes. In fact, down the road, as he keeps seeking God and keeps calling on God's name, and some of these things he keeps putting into practice in his life, the right motions, day after day after day, guess what? It makes a big difference and God continues to reveal himself to Jacob. And one day, God says, you're no longer going to be called Jacob. You're going to be called Israel. Israel means governed by God. And it changes when you say, God, I want you to govern me. I want you to rule and reign in me. When you say, every day, not my will be done, but thy will be done. I'm telling you, if you speak that over yourself, you are governed by God.
What good does God want me to do today? Things begin to change. And where he once was penniless and broke as a joke, living in the desert with nobody, as he began to slowly but surely make good decisions and God-honoring decisions, God began to bless him. And he got some animals. And the animals grew. And he got more and more livestock and more and more livestock. And he began to do right things and good things in honoring God. And he would make mistakes, all right? Multiple wives, different sermon. Not a great plan. But as he honored God, he began to watch God bless him. Now flash forward many years later in a prayer, Jacob biographically tells his story. Just in one sentence, he sort of writes his own biography. And here's what he says to God. He says, "I'm not worthy," Genesis 32, verse 10. "I'm not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant," because back then when I woke up in Luz and changed the name of it to Bethel, house of God, I had crossed over with only my staff. He had nothing but a stick to his name. But now, "I have become two companies".
What was a part of these two companies? Well, Genesis 30, verse 43 says this man became exceedingly prosperous. He had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels, and donkeys. So much, he had to separate it into two contingents. He became one of the most successful people in that land, not just financially, but prospering in every sense of the word, because there's a lot of people who have money but not peace. Jacob was being blessed financially, but mercy and truth were guarding him on the inside and keeping that prosperity from turning into idolatry. Now if you would interview old Jacob or Israel, say, hey, tell us your morning routine. Tell us what you do. What do you do? How'd you get so, he would laugh because he would remember who he was before he encountered God. And he knows that you and I would be looking for like, tell me 10 things I got to do.
Can't you give me like a Grant Cardone book? And I want a 10x jet. And what do I need to do to hustle and sell or be sold, right? And he would just laugh and say, it wasn't something I did. It was someone I met. I woke up like this. I went to sleep a sinner. I woke up a saint. I went to sleep alone. I woke up. God was with me. It wasn't something I did. It was someone I encountered. You might say that the foot catcher met the foot washer. And when that happens, everything can change. When you're no longer just trying to get ahead and trying to one up and trying to put yourself out there and trying to manipulate circumstances and outcome and you meet Jesus and you choose to become governed by God and now you seek to serve, you seek to make a difference, you seek to do what God has called you to do, it just changes everything. And that's what happened to Jacob. He was humbled by the circumstances of life and by the goodness of God. And you can be too.
Four things I see that were a part of this amazing encounter that changed everything for him that apply to us as well, first of all, Jacob walked away amazed. You should walk away from your time in scripture, your time in church amazed if you're doing it right. Amazed because the point is always to lift up God and always to glorify God. We don't come to church to be told the next 10 things we need to do so we can go out that week and do them and feel really good about it. Wow, look how many times I prayed and look how many quiet times I had. And look, I don't smoke or chew or run with girls who do. I'm amazing. It's like awesome, right? People tend to focus on the wrong things. Like, well, if I stop smoking, maybe God will love me more. Someone asked me one time, Pastor, can I smoke and go to heaven? I said, of course you can. You'll even get there faster.
So there's plenty of reasons to smoke, to not smoke and all of those things. But how God feels about you should never be at the center of anything we do for him. Like, if I don't do this, somehow God in heaven is going to be pleased with me. And Jacob realized to put religion in terms of what we do makes it all about us, and that's not going to amaze you. That's going to exhaust you and eventually cause you to throw your hands up in despair. Or you just will sort of compartmentalize and become a hypocrite and sort of think, I do these few things over here, and then it justifies me to do these much more worse things over there. So that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for a true God encounter, which will amaze you because it will always open your eyes up to see how wonderful he is. The gospel only has room for one hero. And friend, you are not it. Amen.
Genesis 10 is where we get the language of the gate of heaven. Did you notice how Jacob said, this is the gate of heaven. This is the gate of heaven. That's language pulled from Genesis 10, where there's a word that runs from Genesis to Revelation. And it's sort of an all encompassing word that describes man's attempts to fill the hole in his soul apart from God. You know what that word is? Babel. Babel. Babel directly translated means gate of heaven. You see, God has always told us what we need to do to fill the hole inside of our soul. All of us have a hole in our soul. Doesn't matter how much money you get, experiences you have. There's always an emptiness.
This is why Tom Brady's asked, which is your favorite Super Bowl ring? You know what he said? The next one, because even with a whole handful of rings, there's still something inside trying to, nothing ever is enough. It's like, oh my God. That high was so great. I will never need heroin again for the rest of my life. That one high filled the hole. No. There's always going to be, I need another hit. I need another thing, sleep with someone else, and more pornography. No, there's always a sense in which we're trying to fill up that hole. And religion works the exact same way. That's Genesis 10. They're trying to build a ladder to heaven, a stairway to heaven at Babel. Let's see if we can get to heaven using our man-made means. And the materials of choice change from day to day, from culture to culture, from person to person. But this one thing does not, our need for something transcendent to give us immortality, to help us to have peace, to help us to overcome our guilt, to give us a purpose. It is insatiable.
And so we turn to Babel. Maybe I can get to heaven this way. Maybe I can get to heaven this way. And Jacob lived in a day when everyone thought, if I do this, if I sacrifice my child to the gods, if I give this blood sacrifice, if I do this, maybe God will be pleased with me. None of it worked. Then he goes to sleep, not seeking God, doing unethical things, doing bad things, removed from his family, removed from everything he ever knew. And he falls asleep a failure. He falls asleep a cheater. And then God says, you're ready for me. And the heavens open up and a ladder comes down. And Jacob sees the ladder with God at the top, inviting him to participate in heaven, inviting him to participate in wholeness, inviting him to walk in shalom, that sense of peace, that sense of wellness, that sense of promise, that sense of purpose, that sense of destiny, that sense of everything I've ever been looking for. That's what it was. This is, he says, the gate of heaven, not me getting up. It's God sending the ladder down.
And friends, the ladder has a name. And his name is Jesus Christ. And he came to this world 2,000 years ago accompanied by angels. And he came down so that you could go up. He came down so you could have the hole inside your soul filled. He came down to give you purpose. He came down to forgive your sins. And he is not waiting for you to get a few things in place. He's not waiting for you to get yourself together. You never need to feel like, I can't go to church. The roof would fall down on me, like people tell me sometimes when I invite them to come. I say, look, I get on the stage 40 weeks out of the year, and it's never fallen down on me. And I guarantee you, you're not a worse thinner than I am. But it's not about how good we are. It's about how good God is and what he did and sending his son, a ladder who came down. And that ladder died on that cross. And that cross has become a bridge. And through that bridge, we can get across the chasm so wide that no one can ever jump across it. And we can be reconnected to our creator. We can wake up from the deadness of sins and be all of a sudden, see the world in a brand new way, through the lens of salvation and forgiveness and purpose and mission.
And my encouragement to you is to do something every day as you start your day just to remind yourself how amazing it is to walk with that God, how amazing it is that he loves you. And when you read the Psalms, you see David just basically being blown away. Oh my gosh. Look at the dolphins. Right? When I see what you've made, it's amazing. How good is God? That God loves me. I'm amazed. We have to fight to stay amazed because you can get desensitized. Secondly, Jacob realized how powerful it is that he got to be included. You and I get to be included in the story. God didn't say, I'm going to reach the world, so you please just stand over there and don't make a mess of anything, right? He said, no, I'm going to bless the whole world through your seed, through your family. And so Jacob realized there was a power not just on God's goodness, but now an importance on him being a part of it and participating. And he said, through your seed, through your family.
So you watch Jacob imperfectly approach being a parent. You watch him imperfectly approach raising his 12 sons, Reuben and Issachar and Naphtali and Gad and Simeon and Benjamin and Asher and Levi and Dan and Joseph and Judah and Zebulun, all these kids. His goal is to pass on the promises to his children and to include them in the story. His goal is for them to know God's plan. Even to his deathbed, he speaks life and speaks faith and speaks God's goodness over his future generations through him. And so my goal as a parent, hopefully your goal as a parent, your morning routine not just to wake yourself up and be amazed at that, but to realize my family's included. And as you spend some time in quiet or in prayer each day or reflecting in a journal, what can we do to bring our family into the story? What can we do to speak life and to speak faith and to pray over our children, but also our children's children and to tell how faithful God has been to our sons and to our daughters? By far, we are included. We're included in the story. And to rock this city time, it's time for us as a family to serve. As we give, it's a chance for our children to participate in the building of God's kingdom.
We're amazed. Secondly, included. Thirdly, and I love this, because, at this point, he doesn't even have kids yet. He doesn't even have a wife yet, but the kids are already a part of the story. So you single people, now is the time to begin praying for your children. Now is the time to begin praying for your grandchildren and to be asking God to create in you the kind of person to be a rocking grandfather, a rocking grandmother, a pillar for your kids to depend on and your grandkids to look to and aspire to be like. Then thirdly, he gets invested. The last verse we read is him vowing to God, no matter what resource you ever put into my hand, for the rest of my life, 10% of it, the first 10%, I'm putting back into your hands. And here's a, look, there's no there's no Moses yet. There's no law yet. There's no stipulation on tithing that's put into the law. This is a guy who's been touched by God. And what's his immediate response?
Well, I want to put some skin in the game here. Why? Whatever your heart has fallen in love with, passion flies towards. Right. Passion flies, Resource flies, rather, to what you're passionate about. What I'm trying to say is if you let us put your Bank of America debit transaction log on the screen here, all of us would be able to see what you're passionate about, hunting or paddleboards or travel. I like how everyone's like, oh, jeez, help us all, right? Your Amazon account, right? We would all get, because you don't have to, it's not hard to put resource towards what you're crazy about. You're like, you spent that on that? Yeah, but do you know what it does. And if you're crazy excited about it, if you're super obsessed about it, it's going to make sense to you. And your wife will never understand a $700 fishing pole. She's just not ever going to understand that. But for you, it's like, no, but you don't understand. The way it's balanced, it casts like a dream. The line goes out, because, you see what I'm saying? Resource going towards passion makes sense.
Jacob's now passionate about God. So he's like, well, yeah, of course I want to get some skin in the game here. I want to get invested in what I care about. But Jacob, that's going to be a lot of money when you're super wealthy one day. He's like, yeah, but I'm passionate about this. Do you know what God's done for me? I want other people to experience this, so I'm going to give towards the house. I'm going to give towards the vision. I'm going to give towards the kingdom. I was telling our youth at our conference about William Colgate. Anybody here use Colgate toothbru, tooth, tooth, toothpaste? That's what they call it. It's been a few weeks. I've been out of the game. My bad, all right? How about Crest, right? Eventually, I do hope to see every hand go up, by the way. It's like, there's not that many brands. Who uses like some hippy toothpaste like Tom's, right? Gross. Who makes your own toothpaste out of like kombucha and charcoal, right? That's weird, right? That's why we have mints in the bathroom. Oh. Just for you.
The story of William Colgate building this massive now multibillion dollar cosmetics empire is pretty fabulous. He's a young man who had a dream of building a soap company, that's how it started out, in New York City. And he knew Jesus. His Mom had made sure he was raised in the church. And so he set out. You know, he'd been taught how to make soap. And he's on the ship heading towards New York City. And the ship captain befriended him. Hey, what are you up to? They both soon found out that they each love Jesus, and they became fast friends. And I was telling our students how cool it is, because if you know Jesus, other people who know Jesus, who you have nothing else in common with, you're now family with them. And it's really an incredible thing.
And so this guy, while they were on the ship, he was sort of investing in him and mentoring him. And he said, I'm going to build this soap company. And here's my dream. I have this recipe for making soap. And he just said, look. He said, someone in New York City has to be the number one manufacturer of soap. And that might as well be you. If it's going to be anybody, it might as well be you. But make the best product that you could ever make. Never cut corners on your product. And then he says, secondly, if you sell someone a pound of soap, make sure you always give them a pound of soap. And if it's going to be wrong on one side or the other, make sure it's more than what they're buying and not less. Don't ever scrimp. Always be a man of your word. And then he said the third thing. He said God's going to begin to bless you if you do these first two things. If you get a reputation for excellence and integrity, your company is going to grow. There's going to be a greater demand on your life than you know what to do with. Just remember who gave you the gift of making soap. Just remember who allows you to have the ability and the air in your lungs. So any time you ever get paid, honor God's ownership in your life by taking the first 10% of whatever he hands you and give it back to the kingdom.
Well, Colgate took all that to heart. And he made a great product, and he always was a man of his word. And every time he got paid, there was always that little urge to sort of reinvest everything back into the company. And I'll get around to it later. Right now, I'm just getting started. I can't be generous right now. But he just remembered the ship's captain's voice was ringing in his ears. And he took the first 10% and gave it to God. And he found out that as he gave, God blessed his business. And as he gave, God continue to bless. And what he soon realized was, I'm not giving enough away. And so he upped his giving to 20%. And he was giving 2/10 of everything came away. And God blessed it even more. He was making even more money. And so he opted to 3/10 and then 4/10. Now he was making so much money, he was able to think about what passion projects he could give towards. And above and beyond just his local church, he was helping fund the translation of the Bible into different languages. Then he fully funded opening up a Christian college to train ministers on the East Coast.
By the end of his life, he was giving away 50% of every single dollar that came into his life. And he said, in his words, the more I gave, the more successful I became. Or as Jesus put it, seek Ye first, the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you. And I just want to encourage you that if you have it in your head that I'm going to be generous one day or when I'm a millionaire, then I'll really get to be generous, I told our students this. You will never be able to send $100,000 wire transfer or write $100,000 check and give it away if you can't do it with $10. And if you can't be faithful with 100, if you can't start small, if it can't start right here, this is why I love it that Jacob is, right, he's penniless. He's got nothing, but he says, God, if you give me anything, I'm going to give the 10% of it back to you. He didn't say, once I'm rich, I'll do it. It started small. It got bigger with time. I'm talking about morning routines. I'm talking my life change.
This is the chance, Jennie and I had come together in the mornings. We just did it this last week, we get paid. We ask, how do we give? How do we put first fruits first when an investment matures when some unexpected blessing happens? Our first instinct, our first priority, we've put it into muscle memory. It's routine now. Wake up at 6:02 if you want. That's fine. But I'm just telling you, if God blesses you with anything and you prioritize heaven and you prioritize the kingdom, you will have a greater passion for God. And you will have the confidence of God's blessing on your resources. There's not an amount you could ever pay me not to give, because I've met a lot of people who have told me over the years they can't afford to die. And I've met no one ever who's told me that they tied and they're not walking in God's blessing. I've never met anybody who has consistently tied and just like, I'm walking in God's blessing. You cannot give God.
So I'm not a smart man, but I'd rather walk in God's blessings than not be able to afford to give. Anybody with me? All right, fourthly, Jacob walked away from this thing dedicated. You just see the obvious evident sense of a man who's dedicated to God. He even went through a little symbol to show this. And what did he do once he put his pillar up? He poured oil on it. You can't unpour oil. When you pour oil out, he was saying, no, my life is poured out for you, God. I once had a thing that I wanted my life to be. And I threw that plan away. New plan, follow God wherever he takes me. New plan, honor God. He wants to do through me, I am dedicated. Have you had a moment in time, I realize many of you have had a Jesus moment, where you got saved. No longer in hell. Amazing. That's where it starts. But if you had a moment where you've just said, God, here am I, send me. Want my life to count towards your kingdom, whatever that looks like. Here am I, God. Send me my life support out.
What does it take to get there? Well, you have to sacrifice comfort. Jacob took his pillow and turned it into a pillar. And that's, a lot of times, the separation between where we are, and maybe what God wants to do through us. There will be things at times that aren't comfortable, that don't make sense, because God's weird. I know, I know. It's not like a real theological way to describe it, but I read the Bible a bunch of times and I've been a pastor for a few minutes, and I just have walked away with this conclusion. God is weird, all right? And I think he's proud of that. I really do. I mean, when he wanted to take down a giant, he chose a little boy with a slingshot. Conventional wisdom says a soldier. A weird person says, let's pick a cheese-delivering shepherd boy. That'll be great. The foolish things of this world, right? That's what God loves to use, the weird things in this world, the peculiar people. You see our calling brethren, not many wise, not many strong, have been chosen. God has chosen the foolish things of this world. Goes up to the desert to get someone who has alienated himself from everybody. And that's the guy he's going to build his nation of Israel through.
We need someone to write 13 books of the New Testament and plant churches all across the Roman Empire. I know. Let's find someone who hates Jesus. That's weird. Might just work, right? And in your life, there are things that God wants to do that are going to amaze the, whole world but they're going to feel weird. You've to put yourself out there. You're going to have to quit being a chameleon. And I think what it's going to take is that sense of pushing that oil out, taking that comfort and saying, no, no, this isn't a pillow anymore. This is a pillar. It's a part of the house of God and so am I.
Stephen Ambrose is one of my favorite authors. He had the chance to interview Dwight D. Eisenhower at the end of Eisenhower's life. And he asked him this question, Ambrose wrote one of the definitive books on D-Day, the Normandy invasions. And he asked Eisenhower who, out of everybody involved, do you attribute having played the greatest role? Who in Word War II really and especially focused on D-Day, who is the person who it couldn't have happened without? And without skipping a beat, Eisenhower said Higgins. Higgins. Higgins, he said, is the man who won the war for us. Ambrose was taken aback. He didn't mention Patton, Churchill, Roosevelt, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur. He didn't, I mean, could have said you're, looking at him? His title in the whole thing was supreme commander of the Allied forces, right? Who's the most indispensable person to World War II? Eisenhower's like, cough, cough, you just met him, right? Higgins, he said.
Stephen Ambrose did some researching, and it turns out this is who he was talking about. This is Andrew Jackson Higgins. Not even in the military, by the way. Not a soldier, not a marine. He was a businessman, a boat builder by trade. He specifically, since he lived in New Orleans, built these boats he called Eureka votes that solve the problem of how do you get around in the swamps, get out and do trapping, get out and do hunting, get out and make moonshine during Prohibition in the woods. He sold a lot of boats to moonshiners. These flat bottomed boats that had encase propellers and ramps to drop down could beach themselves. Successfully navigating in as little as a foot of water, and then you could drop the ramp, get out, do whatever you need to do in the woods or the bayou. Then you could back out and go quickly on to the next place. They were just kind of a passion project of his. He had 100 employees, a little factory in downtown New Orleans. But this boat, this Eureka, boat solved the problem we didn't even realize we had. And that was as D-day began to be planned, Operation Overlord has been called one of the most significant moments in Western history.
June 6, 1944, 77 years ago when 150,000 brave soldiers landed on the five beaches of Normandy, many of them lost their lives, to take back France and eventually wrestle Europe out from the clutches of Adolf Hitler. But the big problem was, how do you get 150,000 soldiers from the massive ships they came on onto the shores of the beach? You certainly can't park these big ships and big boats on the shore. They require big docks and all the rest. And you couldn't unload them quickly. And by the way, this all happened in six foot, raging seas that morning. But the answer, they realized, was this little boat, that this guy had made in New Orleans could be used to get 36 soldiers at a time. That's exactly what happened. Here's a photo of the Higgins boat loaded. You've seen this if you've ever watched Saving Private Ryan. That's what they started calling it the Higgins boat. This was the perfect vehicle to get soldiers from the big boats to the beaches, because it could be loaded with 36 men or 12 men and a Jeep or a small tank.
And then, if you look at this next photo, it would ram up on the beach, and the ramp would drop down. And the men could rush off. And because it had an in propeller, even in a foot of water, it now could safely back out and go back to the ship and get another batch of men. And on D-Day in the waters off of Normandy, 1,500 Higgins boats. You can see the. There's, as far as the eye can see, look at the next photo. You just see them out there and just continually just doing resupply missions all day long. Pretty cool story. What was amazing about it was to go from one little factory to building all these boats that were needed, he had to scale up operations. And that's where Higgins was a mastermind in process and hiring people. He quickly opened up 8 factories all around New Orleans. And he went from 100 people to employing well over 20,000 people. Hitler so feared him he called Higgins, the new NOAA because he was just creating boats like crazy.
Here's a photo inside one of his assembly plants, where he's building these Higgins builds. You're going to see them being built like crazy. The sign in the back makes me laugh. The guy who relaxes is helping the axis, right? So don't settle down. Keep going, keep going, keep going. He was famous for putting in the bathrooms a photo of Adolf Hitler with a bubble above his head saying, take it easy. Because even after Normandy was over, they needed more of these boats, because the whole Pacific theater needed them for all the islands off the coast of Philippines and around Japan, where there were soldiers who had been basically taking control of these little islands. These boats were used. By the end of World War II, there were 20,000 Higgins boats in operation, all because of this one man that Eisenhower said. It's the man who won the war and the Higgins boat has gone down in history as the boat that won the war. I also love that Higgins was the first person in New Orleans and one of the first in the country to hire a Black person and hire a white person and pay him the same. To hire a man and hire a woman, and pay him the same.
Now, I'm not trying to preach him into heaven. He drank a whole bottle of whiskey a day and cursed worse than an Irish sailor, all right? But he was a man who Eisenhower says wasn't in the military, but this is the man that won the war. Here's my question to you. Jacob, who saw the Vision of Heaven and realized how heaven actually works, his instinct was to be a part of it. Why? Because he realized he was positioned to be a blessing to the whole world. In other words, he woke up to see that God wanted him to be a part of the latter. And my question to you, just like These Higgins boats that ran back and forth from the big ships to the shore, from ship to shore, from ship to 0. Those boats became a ladder.
Will you let God use your life as a boat? Will you love God do what Peter did who let Jesus stand on his boat and push off to sea and preach from the boat to get the word to the people? Do you realize that when you Jacob, pour out oil on top of your pillar. And say, God, you shall be my God. And today, all this in front of me wherever I go, whatever I do whoever, I bum into on the trail whoever. Whoever is serving me food at the restaurant, who I sit next to. And second period, come this fall God. God, will you use my life as a boat. Yes. You got life. You got healing. You got salvation, and you want to get it to all these people on the Earth. So I'm not satisfied just being a Christian myself. Use my Instagram story as a boat. Use my Facebook page as a boat. Got, here am I, I am awake to see that I am participating in the plan. I'm dedicated. And I wonder what this world could look like if we had a whole church full of people who said, hey, I got a boat. You got a boat. Let's use our boat. Let's pool our boat let's. Give our resources to the people far from God, like Colgate, to the ends of the Earth, could know his goodness. Where does it start? Because, you like, that's a lot, Levi.
Now I have to see my life as a boat and as a ladder. And the metaphors all over the place. I need to switch toothpaste brands. And this is what I said to our students. Here's where it starts. It's so much more simple than maybe you think. We saw where David started. Ready? Psalm 5, verse 3. "My voice you shall hear in the morning. Oh, Lord". In the morning, I will direct it to you. And I will look up Fresh Life Church. Let's not let a day go by that doesn't start with God hearing our voice. Right. Lots of people are going to hear your voice all day, but it's always going to be better if the first person you talk to is Jesus. Amen?
Father, thank you. Thank you for the life-changing morning routine of waking our spirits up. We wouldn't want to talk to someone if we didn't brush our teeth first or comb our hair first or figure or what to wear first. So, Father, help us to not be people who encounter other people that we're meant to bless with unwashed souls.
If you're here today and you would say, I want to take my pillow and turn it into a pillar, I want to pour some more oil out, and dedicate my life to seeing what God sees, to inviting Jesus to come into my boat. I love that Higgins wasn't a general. He wasn't a lieutenant or any soldier at all. He was a businessman. Could you say, God, I want my business to be your boat? If you are saying that today, could you just raise up a hand to God.
God use me. Use my ability, use my real estate practice. God you've give me some gifts, you give me some ability. I want to use it to make the kingdom bigger. Thank You, Father. Would You bless these? Would You shine Your love upon them? Would You fill them with Your Spirit? And tomorrow morning, when their voice rises up to You with a cup of coffee, with or without the 57 degree cold plunger, the Churchill's cigar, I pray You bless them and meet them there.
You can put your hands down. I want to give an invitation out for anybody who's here today, and you've not yet given your heart to Jesus. You're still trying to build your own Tower of Babel. But today's the day for you to realize that God sent a ladder down. You don't have to build your way up. He already came down to save you, died on the cross for you, rose from the dead triumphantly on your behalf. And now He stands at the door of your heart waiting to call you out of your casket. If you give Him the word, He'll come in and make you new, forgive your sins, and give you the hope of heaven, and participation in the great mission that is this life. If that's you I'm describing, I'm going to say a quick prayer. It's going to be short and sweet and I would love for you to join with me, saying to God the words that I'm going to supply you, like giving you a line here. This is your encounter with God. Make this your moment with Him. Say this. Church, say it with us, no one praying alone.
Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm lost. I'm broken. I can't fix myself. But I believe that You can. Please come into my heart. Make it Your home. I give my life to You. Thank You for dying for me. Thank You for Your Resurrection. Thank You for new life. I give you mine.