Steven Furtick - Do I Have What It Takes?
Well, I want to give you a list of all of the movies that have made me cry. I went back through my life, and I thought about the first movie that made me cry. It was called Follow that Bird. It was a very emotional experience for me to see Big Bird ostracized and alienated, trying to find his way back home. The second movie that made me cry (I maybe should have reconciled this list with my mom's memory) was I remember crying for this movie called Harry and the Hendersons. When they were slapping Harry, I knew it was for his own good, but I just couldn't take that. Then you mature a little bit in life, and it takes more. You develop emotionally and stuff, so that kind of stuff doesn't make you cry anymore. Then the movies that make you cry change. The next movie that made me cry, of course, was Rocky II, followed by Rocky III and Rocky IV while we're at it. A movie that still makes me cry every time I watch it to this day…
If this movie does not make you cry, I question your compassion and your Christianity. In fact, I question your humanity and your ability to feel at all. I think you might be a sociopath if you can watch the movie Rudy and not cry or at least have a lip quiver. I don't know if you have any passion. I don't know if there's a reason for God to leave you on this earth, and I think you're probably going to go to hell when you leave this place. It gets me every time. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when I would normally be heading in to prepare for church, but I had a guest speaker, and it afforded me the real privilege and opportunity to take my two sons to see a movie. I was not expecting that day to be wrecked by the movie Wreck-It Ralph, but it happened.
When they put that girl on the screen called Vanellope, and she was stuck in a video game where they were supposed to race, but she couldn't race, and they called her Glitch Girl because there was something wrong with her programming and pixilation. She wanted to race, but she couldn't race. It was because of her glitch. The movie kind of takes a few turns. At one point in the movie, I was watching Glitch Girl glitch. She wanted to race. I started crying in the movie, and I told Graham, "Shut up," when he asked me, "Are you crying, Daddy"? It just got me, thinking about all of the ways that my glitches have caused me to miss God in my life and thinking about how many people would go further faster if they knew how to deal with their glitch. Just remind your neighbor again. They're not going to be offended because I made you say it. Just remind them one more time, "You have a glitch". Just make sure they're well aware of that fact.
Well, I didn't say to give them a whole paragraph of evidence. We preach things sometimes that are easy to accept but a little harder to apply. I understand that writing this book, how God uses broken people to do big things, is two parts. One is just convincing you that God uses broken people to do big things. I bet you don't believe that to the level you should. All of the efforts we have made to convince you, but sometimes they fall short. We can tell you all of the Bible characters. I'm trying to pull this thing up, just one I found online about how God doesn't take the ideal candidates for the offices he appoints them to. One guy put it online. I've seen this before. Maybe you have. He went through a list. He said, "Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah wasn't very good-looking. Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem. Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair". We all know God can't use you with long hair or tattoos. "Rahab was a prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was suicidal. Isaiah preached naked".
You know, I've done a lot of things to get attention. I'm going to skip that. Point at the stage, someone, and say, "Miss me with that, Pastor Steven". I don't know what I would say. "God told me to". "Jonah ran from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went through bankruptcy. Peter denied Christ. The disciples fell asleep while praying. Martha worried about everything. The Samaritan woman was divorced more than once. Zacchaeus was too short. Timothy had an ulcer. And Lazarus was dead". Now touch your other neighbor and say, "What's your excuse"? The question isn't, "Can God use broken people to do big things"?
I wonder, would you put my book title up, not my sermon title, my book title up one more time just so you can see. I want to focus for week one on this one word, how God uses. I want to talk about how he does that. Of course, we could have no better consultant than Paul. I didn't put him in the list I read because Paul is more known for his gifts. He was very gifted. Paul was very gifted. We know he was gifted because God chose him of all people to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He was the first one to take it beyond the original Jewish converts along with Barnabas. He was very gifted. Paul was very gifted in debate and in reasoning as well as philosophy because he had studied under Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a part of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and he was known as a guru.
Paul had that kind of pedigree added to the fact that he was a Roman citizen, which gave him entrée and prestige into places that common people could not go. It makes sense that God would chose him then to preach in Europe and northern Africa and parts of Asia and to establish churches in the most strategic cities of his day. We see him in Rome, and we see him in Athens, and we see him establishing churches in Philippi and Galatia and Ephesus and Corinth, just to name a few. In 2 Corinthians, we watch him writing back to the church at Corinth, and he's having to do something you would never imagine Paul would have to do at this stage of his life in ministry, considering his accomplishments. He's having to defend his credentials.
How could a man that learned, and how could a man whose life had meant so much to so many find himself in a spot where he's having to defend his credentials? In fact, I don't think of it as much of a dilemma as I do as an encouragement to know that even Paul, at this point in his ministry, was still answering the question, "Do you have what it takes"? I put that out there because if you thought that question was going to go away when you hit 40 and it didn't, if you thought that question was going to go away when you graduate high school and it didn't, if you thought that question was going to go away when you got married and it didn't, if you thought that question was going to go away when you first started making six figures and it didn't, if you thought that question was going to go away when you finally proved to your ex that you could get somebody too and it didn't… Paul is at the pinnacle of his ministry effectiveness, and he's still dealing with people who are calling him unqualified. He deals with this question, and he confronts this challenge because what he has to do in his life is too important for him to leave these issues unconfronted.
Now, I want to say that over your life today, whether you believe it or not, that what God has purposed for you to accomplish is too important for you to leave your issues unconfronted. Touch somebody and say, "Confront it". Sometimes, you have to take a stand for what you know God has called you to do, and sometimes that means standing against what others say, and sometimes that means taking a stand within yourself against yourself. Paul said, "You can't strip me of my credentials. You can't take away from me what I know God has placed on me. I'm confident of it". He said, "The reason you're getting into trouble, and the reason you come to the conclusion that you don't have what it takes, and the reason you're spending so much time trying to impress people is because you are judging by appearances". There it is. That's the number one problem with our world today, I think. That's the number one reason we get ourselves in trouble, and that's the number one reason potential is unfulfilled, because we judge by appearances.
Touch your neighbor and say, "There's more to me than what you see". Turn to her and tell her, "There's more to me than what you see". So don't judge me by what you see on the surface. Don't judge me by what I look like right now. That's what Paul was saying to these super apostles who had permeated and pervaded the Corinthian church that he had established, and now they were claiming superiority over him and threatening to undermine the work he had established. He wrote back to the church, and he said, "You need to take another look". I wonder how many things in our lives would look differently if we looked beneath the surface, if you got past your first impressions.
I want to preach a sermon one day, and I may preach it next week, and I may preach it in three years. I want to call it The Estimation Game. I haven't quite figured out everything I'll put in it yet, but it's just this idea that most of us vacillate between wildly overestimating what we can do without God and underestimating what we could do with him. We look at it at the surface. Just in honor of the sermon I may preach one day, I just want to give a little illustration or something like that. I want to play a little game with somebody right over here. I'm going to play it with him. I like his hat. Yeah, come on over, man. Why not. Just a little game. You know I like to do stuff like this to keep people from falling asleep during the sermon. I have some money. Do you like money? I have a little money. I'm going to show it right here for everybody to see. I have a little roll, a little something. It's not much, but if you can guess how much it is, I'll give it to you. Do you want to feel it? Do you want to hold it?
Male: I see blue, so there's $100 in there.
Steven Furtick: He said something. I've done this in all of the other worship experiences, but he's the first one who did what he was supposed to do. He did what he was supposed to do. He said, "I see blue under there, so I know there are some hundreds in the roll". I don't know what you do recreationally to make money, but touch somebody and say, "Look beneath the surface". See, he got it right. If you judge this stack by what you see on the surface, you are going to underestimate, but if you peel back and look… Come on. I'm preaching, and y'all don't even realize it. If you peel it back, you're going to see that there is more to the stack than you can see on the surface. That's my message. I wanted to let you know… Are you videoing? I'll preach to your iPhone. I don't mind. There is more to this stack than you can see on the surface.
Touch somebody and say, "I have layers. What you see is not all there is to me, and what I see in the mirror is not indicative of my ministry, of my life, of my potential. Take another look at me". Take a look at me now. Something is happening beneath the surface. I'm kind of struggling right now. I'm trying to get some stuff in order, but there is something inside of me that is greater. What I'm wrapped with is not indicative of what I'm made of. There is more inside of me, and if you'll notice, I walked away from him before he could guess the amount because I was scared he was onto something. That's why the Devil has been fighting you, because he knows you're onto something. You're starting to see yourself in a new light. You're starting to see yourself in a divine... Look beneath the surface, and it will give you confidence when you do. Confidence. That's what we're all trying to project into the world. Often, we're trying to project something we don't possess. Talk to me. Often, we're trying to project the confidence we don't possess because we see our cracks, but Paul said that if you're confident that you belong to Christ, you should consider that I belong just as much as anybody.
Now, I want to make an announcement. This is in the book, and I'm going to say it right now, and I'm going to say it to everybody who ever felt like you couldn't come to church because of your conflicts. I want to say it to everybody who ever felt like you didn't fit in a church because everybody was so pretty and so perfumed. I want to say to everybody who has ever felt like the presence of God is the last place you should be because of what your clothes smell like, because of who you've been hanging out with. I want to say to everybody who came into church with a religious pretense that is much more impressive than your actual performance. I want to say to everybody who feels like there are too… There are no second class citizens in the kingdom of God. It took the same blood and the same beating of the same Savior to get me in that it took to get you in, so I'm confident. It's believing that I belong.
Watch this. True confidence is a byproduct of belonging. True confidence, the kind that will just run up in my green room between the 9:30 and 11:30 and barge in and say, "Daddy, can I get a Sprite Zero"? The only person bold enough to run up in my room and ask a question like that is my 10-year-old who knows he belongs to me. Do you know that the Bible says you can come to the throne room boldly and look for grace in your time of need? But you don't pray like this. You keep associating your confidence with your conflicts. Because you're conflicted and because you're cracked and because you're screwed up beneath the surface and you know it, you don't come to God boldly. You don't run up and get in his face and tell him that you need him on the level that you really need him. You don't walk with your head held high like somebody who has been redeemed. But the moment you realize, "You know what? I belong here. Not necessarily because of my behavior, but my admission price was purchased".
This does not speak well in a self-help oriented culture. I believe in helping yourself, but I also believe there are some times when you can't. The essence of church needs to be restated. We've made the church so much like a country club that it's a wonder they let us keep our tax exempt status. Do you know what I mean? We've made the church so exclusive. We've made the church such a place that you have to become something in order to belong somewhere. That might be church, but that's not the gospel. The gospel is not, "You can belong when you become". The gospel is, "You belong so you can become," because nothing will change you like realizing, "I have a Father". Nothing will change you like realizing, "Before I take my first breath, he loves me". Nothing will change you like realizing, "I belong here". Shake three people and tell them, "I belong here". He purchased my right to be here. He gave me access into his throne room, and nobody can strip my credentials because nobody gave them to me but Christ.