Robert Morris - What I Did on My Summer Vacation
I'm going to share What I Did on My Summer Vacation. That's the title of it. I got this because I remember when I was praying about what to title the message. I remember in school, you'd come back and the first day of school you'd get homework. And the homework would be, write an essay: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. Did any of you ever do anything like that? Do you remember that? Okay. So the first time it happened to me was third grade. So I, she said, "Write what you did on your summer vacation". So I wrote it, went up, put it on her desk, was very proud of myself. I was the first person finished. I wrote one word, played. That was my essay. She said, "Robert, you have to fill the whole paper, the whole paper".
So I went back and wrote, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played, played. And of course she explained to me, no, I want to know how you played, what you played, where you played when you played. I want you to write the essay. So, but that's where I got the title: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. So, three points. You probably know that, number one, I rested. That's first thing, I rested. Genesis 2:2-3 says, "And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had done, and He rested on the seventh day".
Now let me just say one thing before we go on, this is the word shabbat, where we get our word sabbath. We don't see it, this is a form of it, and this is actually the verb. Sabbath is on noun. So we see that in Exodus 16 and Exodus 20. Exodus 16 about the manna. Don't gather it on the seventh day, for it is a Sabbath day. So it's referring to a day. And then in Exodus 20, which that's the 10 commandments, so in the fourth commandment, Remember the Sabbath day. It's a noun there, here it's a verb. So God Sabbathed. That's what this actual Hebrew word is. God rested on the seventh day. "...from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it". That means, set it apart. "...because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made".
So there's this principle of resting. So I've written on it. I preached on it. So I'm not gonna preach on that. Okay. I'm not going to talk about it. I just want to bring it in as a principle. We started the principle of sabbaticals the very first year of Gateway. We talked about pastors in full time ministry will need a rest every so many years, just like a missionary does. And so I have received, not taken. I receive. I'm under the authority of the elders of the church. I've received. They gifted me, given me a sabbatical every five years. So 5, 10, 15... This was after 20 years of the church. It was already planned. It was on the books, but why did I take it when we were in a pandemic? Well, it's very simple. Two words, trust and obey. If you remember the old hymn.
So I trusted you, trusted the staff, trusted volunteers, trusted members. I trust, but also obedience. Did God know when we planned the sabbatical that there was going to be a pandemic? Of course he did. We actually though postponed it a month. It was supposed to start in May. So that could be in the pulpit one more month during that time. When COVID hit, by the way, the elders began meeting weekly on Zoom calls. We normally meet monthly. We began meeting weekly because things were changing so quickly. Within the first few weeks we set aside literally millions of dollars, because we are the storehouse. So we saw, Hey, we need to take care of the people.
So we set aside for our congregation, for churches hurting, for people in our congregation hurting financially, maybe losing their jobs, for churches that were hurting, and then for the community. So we gave, I can't even remember, but I know it was hundreds of stimulus packages before the government did, and I'm glad the government did what they did and they should have done what they did and do more even. I'm for more. But we did that as a church. Hundreds of families got $3,500 from Gateway Church. That had lost their job. So we set aside to give to congregation, then churches, small churches. This was before the payroll protection plan. We started helping them get payroll protection plan.
So we help churches do that. But there were some churches related to us that couldn't get, it had difficulty maybe in a small town trying to find a bank, but we helped churches financially. And then the community. Most of you know what we did for area hospitals. We bought them equipment. We provided meals for those working, even for first responders, police, firefighters, nurses, doctors, hospitals, and we bought those meals from local restaurants to try to help them. So you did that because of your giving, but here's something I want you to know. We had an X amount in savings when we started this, and when we finished it we had more in savings, after giving away millions of dollars during this time. So God just looked down from heaven and said, I'll just take care of that.
So, on my sabbatical, our attendance, not in-person, 'cause we were online for most of it, but our attendance and our giving went up. It reminded me of my first sabbatical that I ever received after five years. Right toward the end of it, one of our elders said to me, "I've got good news and bad news for you. While you've been on sabbatical. Our giving and our attendance has gone up. That's the good news. The bad news is, we'll let you come back if you promise not to mess it up". So I guess I mess it up about every five years and they send me away and then everything works out. So you might have that question.
The second question you might have about why I still, when I was on sabbatical, I came off of sabbatical for one day and hosted a round table for African American clergy and community leaders with the president, Secretary of Housing Ben Carson, and Attorney General William Barr. The White House called, asked me to do that. I felt like because I was on sabbatical, I said no. No, I'm on sabbatical. When I got off the phone. Holy Spirit number two said to me... Holy Spirit number two, Debbie. Debbie said to me, can I present something to you? And I said, sure. She said, well, you teach on sabbatical. You teach on sabbath, you've written on it, but you teach based on Jesus' teaching, that if your ox is in the ditch you should pull it out. And she said, I think that our nation is the ox and the ditch is racism. And you have an opportunity, Robert, like few others, I've been working in this area for 30 years, racial reconciliation, and you can bring the president and these leaders, these community leaders together like probably no other pastor.
So I think you need to do this. It's only one day. And so then I asked Holy Spirit number one if he agreed, and he said, I always agree with Holy Spirit number two. So that's why I did that, if you wanted to know. So the only other thing I wanna tell you about I rested was that I was very tired in the spring, but I found out in the first month of sabbatical that I had severe sleep apnea. I was falling asleep... Debbie and I have property outside of the metroplex, you know. She had to drive because I'd fall asleep while I was driving. When we were on family vacation in June, before I'd taken this test, the sleep test. I fell asleep in mid-sentence, talking with all my family around. I was telling a story and fell asleep in mid-sentence. James, my son, videoed it on his phone. So I confiscated this phone. You know, honor your father. So, but I just, Debbie was starting to sleep in the other room. She started with earplugs, then ear pods and had Bose ear pods, would turn the music up or the ocean or something. Finally, she was moving to the couch.
It's amazing how many people I'm seeing nudge people right now. I'm seeing some ladies nudge their husbands and say, Okay, the pastor did something about it. You do something about it. So anyway, I took the sleep test. I was waking up 87 times an hour. So no sleep, really. Very exhausted. My blood oxygen levels dropping to 74, which is really bad for your health. And, so it was just difficult for me. So I started the C-PAP in early July and it's just changed my life. I'm so rested. I'm so refreshed. I'm so ready to go. The other day, and this is horrible to tell you, but I was walking by the bed, walking by the bedroom and walking by the bed in the bedroom and saw my C-PAP machine. And I said, I'll see you tonight. So I'm sorry, but I really look forward to going to bed now, so, okay.
So I rested. Here's number two. I recovered. Now what I did was I didn't know I needed to, but I needed to recover from nearly dying two years ago. I had recovered physically. It took over a year to recover physically. I was under anesthesia for so long. Some told me that it takes one month for every one hour you're under anesthesia. I was under anesthesia for 14 hours in two different surgeries and a different, another procedure. So it took a long time to recover physically. But what I found out on sabbatical with the Lord, when I spent time with the Lord all the time on sabbatical, but I found out that I needed to recover emotionally and mentally and spiritually. I was actually a little mad at the Lord, because I've told you before I experienced heaven in that helicopter. And then when I came back, or whatever it was, I was disappointed. And I couldn't understand why God would do it to me either.
And I know you say, well, God didn't do it to you. That's true theologically. But people would say, well, even if the devil did this and attacked you, which I think he did, why did God let it happen? Why did God allow it? And that messes with your mind. And I had two different people say to me, just think about this. They weren't meaning anything wrong, but just think about how it hits you. They said, Wow, man, the devil really attacked you and God let him do it. They said, you're like a modern day, Job. And I thought, No, I don't want to be Job. Say modern day Elijah or Paul, but not Job. I don't want to be Job.
And so I, and obviously I didn't go through anything like Job did, but so I had to get over this. But on sabbatical, the Lord showed me something. And I want to share it with you because I think it will help you the way you think about death. It was difficult trying to share it with my family when I came back because they didn't understand until God showed me this revelation. They were like, you know, when you talk about it, you were like, you talk about how joyful you were to go to heaven, but it doesn't seem like you had any regret leaving us.
And we're just being honest. We're a very close family, so we have great conversations all the time. And I didn't. And let me tell you why. There's no regret in heaven. But let me tell you why there's no regret. When we get saved, Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is what kind of life? Eternal life. Eternal. Do you know what the definition of the word eternal is? Because see, I do as a theologian, and then when God spoke this to me, all of a sudden all fell in place. Let me give you the definition from the Strongs Concordance. Eternal means without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be in other words, eternal means always existed. God is eternal.
So I want you to think about this for a moment. God gives us the gift of eternal life. Do you know, God chose you before the foundation of the world. So how can he choose you if you didn't exist. Well, we'd think, well, he knew. He knows, but God always existed. But when you get saved, he gives you the gift of always existing. Now listen to me because this is deep what I'm about to tell you. Ephesians tells us that we're seated in heavily places right now. Right now your seated in heavenly places, and he raised you up. Up. And made you sit in heavenly places, which is where Christ is as well. So what's in heavily place right now. Okay. Right now, wherever you are in a building or at home, or a car, wherever you are, your body is there and your soul is there right now. So your body is seated somewhere in your soul is inside your body. Where's your spirit though. Your spirit's in heaven, your spirit's in heavenly places already.
So see, I told my family, I said, the reason I didn't miss you is because I knew I was about to see you. Well we were all thinking in time. You know, that it wouldn't be very long, because see in heaven there's no time. It's eternal, eternity. But it wasn't just time. This is what I really believe God showed me on sabbatical, their spirits were already there. I was just going to turn the corner and see my family. That's why I wasn't missing them because their spirits are there. See, everyone that's gone to heaven is not missing you, but we're missing them. You follow me? We miss them on earth, but they're not missing us because God gives us when we get saved eternal life. So our spirits are there. So I wasn't missing them. Everything you can think about on this earth that you enjoy is there, but it's better. A thousand times. That song, I Can Only Imagine, we sang that at my mother's memorial service.
And thank you by the way, for praying for our family and for my father who's here today. Thank you for continuing to pray for us. But I Can Only Imagine, I asked Michael to sing that at the service. But I'm going to tell you something, because of what I went through two years ago, I can imagine a little better. I mean, it's hard to explain to you because I've been somewhere that you might not have been yet. Everything on this earth that's good spiritually is there. Like when you got saved and you experienced that forgiveness, that's there. When you walk, when you enter the presence of the Lord in corporate worship, the presence of the Lord, is there, stronger. 'Cause he's actually, he's there. I mean, his presence is really strong there. Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there. Whatever spiritual thing you can think of is there. Everything in the natural that you love, for instance, family and friends, they're there. Beautiful scenery there. Banana pudding there.
Now I don't have a scripture on that one, but I'm believing it. The Dallas Cowboys always win in heaven. And we do need to have, let's just pray and fast all day Sundays during the football season. All right. It's there are you following me? So, that's why, so God had to take it me and literally heal my heart because I was sad that I didn't die, but God has shown me why I'm still in this earth and why you're on this earth, because we only get to live on this earth one time. We only get to win people to Christ on this earth. We're not going to win anybody to Christ in heaven. We only get to help marriages here on this earth. We don't, no marriages will be helped in heaven. See everything that's good is there. By the way, everything that's bad is not there. There's no COVID in heaven. No sorrow, no tears, no pain, no sickness, no disease, no death. None of that's there. So I actually... This is going to sound strange. I would like to get y'all excited about dying. Now not now. I mean, we don't have Kool-Aid in the lobbies or anything like that, so not now, but I just want you to look forward to it.
So I rested, I recovered and here's number three. I renewed, I renewed. Now, really, because I'm trying to follow a format to my point, but really this would be God renewed me. He renewed the call of God in my life. When God spoke to me to plant Gateway Church, he took me to Genesis 35 verse one, "God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel.'" Anytime you see Beth- in the Bible, it means house. Bethlehem, house of bread. Bethpage, house of figs. Bethesda, house of mercy. Bethsaida, you know, house of fish. So whenever you, it's just Beth, when you see Beth, that means house. Okay? So then look at the el, E-L, Elohim. So it means House of God, Bethel means the House of God. Okay. So I'm praying about whether to start a church, and he says, go to Bethel, go to the House of God, "and dwell there; and make an altar there to God". Well make an alter is a church. It's a place where people meet with God.
So that's the verse God gave me. And then, Debbie said, I think we need to move to that area, Southlake, Keller, Colleyville, Grapevine, somewhere in that area, because we know that's the area we're supposed to start the first campus. But I had left where I was, Shady Grove, which is where now our Grand Prairie campus, and was traveling and speaking. And she said, I think we ought to go ahead and buy a house. Well, we hadn't sold our house. And so I just thought, well that's the craziest thing, you know, and no we're not going to do that. And then the Lord said to me, read Genesis 35 again, but read it in the New Living Translation. You know what's amazing, how well God knows the Bible, and he knows what every translation says. I'm shocked. Okay. So Debbie's saying, I think we need to move up there. And I said, no, we don't need to do that, and the Lord said, read Genesis 35 in the New Living. "Then God said to Jacob, 'Get ready and move to Bethel.'" So we did, we bought a house and then we sold our house in two weeks. We had a bidding war. So God, just to care of it.
So this summer, the Lord said to me, read Genesis 35 in The Message version. This is what it says in The Message. God spoke to Jacob, "Go back to Bethel. Stay there and build an altar to the God who revealed himself to you". So let me tell you something the Lord convicted me of, and I've already talked to the elders about it. God began to take me in the last 10 years, 15 years on this ministry to the body of Christ. And I know I have a national and international platform to the body of Christ, but we had, we've got to find a balance. So if I'm supposed to be here 90%/10% or 80% and 20% to the body or whatever it is, But it had gotten to be about 50/50, I think. And the Lord said to me very clearly, "Robert, you're not called the body of Christ. You're called to Gateway Church, but you will affect the body of Christ through the pulpit of Gateway Church".
So what I'm telling you is I'm back. I'm back. So if you've got any doubt about it. I'm back. I'm here. And I know it because I know it's what God's called me to do. So he renewed the call. Now I'll still do some things out, because that's part of building the kingdom of God. That's part of even being the pastor of Gateway Church and the influence that God's given us. So I'll do some things. For instance, two weeks ago, I did the prayer march with Franklin Graham. The National Park Service, the National Park Service estimated that we had 75 to a hundred thousand people there praying. They told us at the White House that for every one person that shows up like that, there's another thousand that are in agreement. So if we had a hundred thousand people, it means a hundred million are in agreement with that movement.
So think about that, a hundred million people. And I'm sure we had a hundred thousand, 'cause I've spoken at the mall many times at the, in Washington, and I've gauged crowds before. And, so when the park service says 75 to a hundred thousand, they always estimate low, especially for a conservative Christian group. So I'm sure we had at least a hundred thousand. So I brought a few pictures just to show you here. There's Franklin and I at the Lincoln Memorial. That's Governor Huckabee and he was doing the interview with Sissy. That's Franklin's daughter there on the right. There, look at the crowd. So all these people that are praying. And then this guy showed up here, the vice president. And there's Franklin and I marching. We did seven different places where we prayed. I think the, and then there you go. There's that one there. So that just kind of shows up toward the Lincoln Memorial when we started. So we did the prayer march.
Here's what I want you to know. God hears prayer. So this wasn't to show a big crowd. This was to pray. And we prayed. And God said, if my people will pray, then I will hear from heaven. No doubt. And I will forgive their sin and I will hear their land. So I'll still do some things like that. We didn't think we were going to go to the White House, but the president then said he wanted us to come and pray with him. And that's nine of us. And so we, we did go and we were able to pray with him, but I want to tell you something that happened. So they sent a secret service agent to pick me up to go to the White House. I've been many times, obviously. I don't talk about it much from the pulpit. It's very controversial. I know you have strong feelings one way or the other, so I'm not saying that. But I don't care whether it's a Republican or Democrat. If they ask me for biblical counsel, I'm going to give them biblical counsel.
So anyway, so I'm in the vehicle with the secret service agent, and we pull up to this place where they've got about three blocks blocked off, where we'd have to go way around, and I'm on a pretty tight schedule. And so the secret service agent pulls right up to the where the where the police there are, the park police. And of course the guy walks over and says, "Sir, this area is closed. You can't go through here" He said, "I'm a secret service agent. And I'm taking a VIP to the White House to meet with the President of the United States". And the guy said, "Yes, sir". And he said, "You'll follow that vehicle right there". He said, "We have a VIP going the White House to meet with the president".
So I brought a little video. So this is me in the, I'm in the car with the secret service agent. And that's the escort just taking us right through these streets that are closed. And of course all the windows are blacked out. So, you know, they think somebody that's important's in there, you know. But here's what the Lord said to me. We're in a new season in the body of Christ. You're in a new season personally. I want you to hear this very, very clearly. We all have roadblocks in life. Here's, what's going to happen though, at these roadblocks that all of us have, raising our kids, family, work, business, all the things.
Here's what's going to happen. There's going to be a roadblock. And your guardian angel is going to say, I have a child of God and she's on her way to the house of God to meet with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And we're going to go right through. I know that something has happened that's changed from the first 20 years of Gateway Church to the next 20 years of Gateway Church. And God is going to do something in the body of Christ, and you're a part of it. So the prayers you've been praying, the breakthroughs that you've been asking for, I'm telling you, we are on the verge of seeing those breakthroughs.
I want you to just close your eyes for a moment, and I want to pray with you, every campus, online, and if you feel comfortable, if you want to just turn your palms upward, you don't have to lift your hands. Just turn your palms, like someone's about to put a gift in your hands because I want to pray. I received on sabbatical a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. There's no doubt in my mind. It's a fresh touch. But it's for all of us, whether you're attending a service or watching online, it's for all of us. So I want to pray for you.
Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters. And I thank you, God, that even though we're in a battle, according to the Word we go from victory to victory, and you have to have a battle before you have a victory. So Lord, there are thousands of battles represented by everyone listening to this message right now. And God, I thank you that the battle that I went through, you brought me through to victory. And I thank you for that. And I pray that for every brother and every sister right now, and I pray for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. And we say we receive it in Jesus' name, amen, and amen, and amen.