HOC6 2004: A Year to Look Forward To

Most of you will not read this, because it is so long, but this is my sermon outline from two weeks ago. Sorry about the formatting…I just can’t seem to get MS Word into html format that works with LJ…

“HOC6 2004: A Year to Look Forward To”
January 25, 2004

1. Introduction
a. Does your family ever rush to the airport? Imagine that you packed last minute, rushed to the airport, barely make it on the plane, get seated, feel that sense of relief and find out over the loudspeaker that you’re on the wrong plane!
b. Sometimes, which church, we don’t care where it is going, if anywhere at all
c. Our church is not just a static meeting place
i. We are going somewhere
ii. We are on a mission
iii. And this year, we are pursuing one stage, chapter, leg of that mission.
1. We looked at where God is already leading us, and decided that that is the direction our church should take…we are bound to succeed!
d. Goals where God is already showing us:
i. Becoming a church of servants trained for contemporary ministry
ii. Becoming a church community that is involved in society as Jesus’ ambassadors
iii. Becoming a church where individuals grow into mature disciples of Jesus

2. Training for Today: Becoming a church of servants trained for contemporary ministry;
Focus is on Understanding.
a. Emphasizing the terms:
i. “servants” – not just leaders, not just non-leaders; everyone is a servant; everyone needs to get involved
1. the pastor and the leaders are not “designated drivers”
2. it is more like tandem biking; or white-water rafting
ii. “trained” – we train because people are drowning in a sea of sin and hopelessness out there.
1. It is foolish to just push ourselves into the water and pray that we will swim, but if we sink, then may God’s will be done.
2. It’s more like going out, failing and succeeding, coming back to reflect and learn, and going back again…repeat.
3. we need to do more than just have mental training, but practical training
iii. “for contemporary ministry” – we need to understand our world as much as we understand the Bible and the Gospel; our focus will be learning about the breaking-of-age postmodern culture (e.g., being spiritual, but not religious; there are multiple ways to the ultimate truth; my personal experience defines what is true, not what others tell me, etc.)
1. Moving to ESA hotel:
a. What are these people like?
b. What are their needs?
c. What are their beliefs?
d. Would they want to come to church?
e. how would they respond to Jesus?
f. How do we need to take the unchanging message of God and bring it into the colors and language that these people can understand and relate with?
b. Why?
i. Paul modeled it.
1. 1 Cor 9:19-23 “19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
2. Paul was the great missionary and this was his great missionary method.
a. He learned the culture
b. Made himself part of the culture
c. Spoke their “language” and “lingo”
i. E.g., the missionary in Davis to Muslims…knows the Koran…not just from a Christian perspective, but from a Muslim perspective. When challenged on his knowledge on the Koran, he gained respect when he had a command of their Scriptures.
ii. A village man who became a Christian went to the surrounding villages to preach the Gospel. Every village violently kicked him out. He finally collapsed under a tree because his feet were torn up from all the walking. All the elders of the surrounding villages approached him, he thought he was going to die. They said, “We had come to kill you because of your message, but now we have seen your blistered feet and we know you are a holy man. We are ready to listen.” Having blistered feet spoke to the people in ways that regular words could not.
ii. Such is the method for missions? Why not for home?
1. In most churches, “missions” is a department or a ministry of the church; for us, missions is what our church is all about.
2. The primary method of God was crossing barriers to communicate the Good News of his kingdom. Jesus was the embodiment of God becoming like us, a man, even bearing our sin.
3. We are realizing more and more that our society is really divided…so the need to understand the culture of the people we are reaching is becoming more and more important
a. E.g., youth ministry – we can’t just assume that they think like we do, like what we like, etc. For example, concept of a good small group.

3. Service for Society: Becoming a church community that is involved in society as Jesus’ ambassadors
Focus is on Activity.
c. Emphasizing the terms:
i. “involved in society” – not just social action, not just evangelism; we must practically engage ourselves in society; find out what our neighbors, our city, our schools need
ii. “Jesus’ ambassadors” – not as just good citizens, but because we represent Jesus and his hope to a dying world; we need to appear as if we were Jesus himself
d. Why?
i. Jesus said it was the mark of his messiah-ship or kingship.
1. Luke 7:18-23 “18John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ ”
21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.””
ii. James said it was the mark of true religion.
1. James 1:27 “27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
e. Implications:
i. My dad used to criticize me and my church because all we did was just have meetings and retreats…there was no charity work. His criticism stemmed from his understanding of the church when he was in HK. I defended what we did, but now I realize that he was right.
ii. A church that does not impact and change its society is like fat-free cookies, diet cola, decaf coffee, non-alcoholic beer…looks good, but no buzz/effect…what’s the point??
1. The church was the impetus against segregation and slavery (MLK); the church is one of the primary forces of change in Iraq (Samaritan’s Purse);
2. Because of the flack that the church gets for taking stances on high profile issues such as abortion, homosexuality, abstinence, etc., many Christians decide to hide from societal issues altogether. Instead, what we should be doing is agreeing with our fundamentalist brothers and sisters, but say that we cannot stop there! We must also be firm about helping the poor, defending the victims of abuse, etc.
iii. God is invisible, but when we do his work, God becomes visible through us
1. Gary Haugen’s example – (see appendix)
2. How do I know my mom is home? If I see her car parked in the driveway, the kitchen light is on, and I can smell dinner cooking. The point is that people will look at us and what we’re doing, stop and say, “God must be real.” They see the reality of our faith, and see that as evidence of our God.
iv. We are the salt of the earth: we preserve and add flavor to the world. We are agents of God’s kingdom, set on a mission to keep the world from becoming uglier and uglier, but not to stop there…we need to make it more beautiful, more colorful, a more worthwhile place.

4. Living for the Lord: Becoming a church where individuals grow into mature disciples of Jesus
Focus is on Lifestyle (or the way we live).
f. Emphasizing the terms:
i. “disciples of Jesus” – not just Christians, but people who follow Jesus in his way of life…Jesus-groupies who are constantly mimicking him;
1. However, involved we are in the world, we must still be distinct…we cannot be indistinguishable from the world.
a. We need to relate to the world, but be different at the same time: a paradox
i. get hookers to feel safe with you, but be sexually pure;
ii. bar-hopping with drunkards, but be the designated driver;
iii. smell like weed, but pass on grass
2. True discipleship, while in the world, is not of the world. Sometimes we focus on one to the detriment of the other.
ii. “individuals” – Christianity is more than just fellowshipping with each other, it is making an individual response to the person of Jesus
1. It is not enough to be affiliated with good Christians or to attend a good church.
2. “Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are,” is still good wisdom, so it is still important to hang out with good Christians and a good church and to avoid being influenced by crowds that will tempt you to compromise or abandon your faith.
3. Still, affiliation does not equate with identity. Just because you hang out with people, doesn’t mean you become one of them. (e.g., ppl who try to be black by hanging out with black people and donning gangsta attire, etc.).
g. Why?
i. Jesus set the standard for following him.
1. Luke 9:22-25 “22And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
2. Focus on singulars: anyone; his cross; daily; self.
3. Jesus’ mission on earth set the example: one of sacrifice and valuing what is eternal vs. what is temporary
ii. “Christians” was a derogatory term, hinting that these people were so obsessed with Jesus.
1. Acts 11:25-26 “25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
2. Similar to “Moonies” or “Branch Davidians”
a. There is s sense of people being obsessed or being extreme about a person
b. We are followers after their sensei (e.g., Van Damme was identified as member of the Tanaka clan in the movie, Bloodsport, only after he could demonstrate the trademark Tanaka karate chop)
iii. Paul told people to look different from the world.
1. Romans 12:2 “2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
2. Lots of times we try to know God’s will, but we weave ourselves so tightly into the pattern of society that even if God tells us what he plans for us, we’re in so tight with how the world works, we either don’t understand him, get confused, and conclude that God hasn’t spoken, or we hear, but have no way of following him because we’re so entrenched.
3. We need to orient our lives away from
a. the dream of living in a certain kind of home,
b. driving certain type of car,
c. hearing people say certain things about us, getting certain types of jobs, etc.
4. We need to orient our lives towards Jesus and the establishment of his kingdom, not ours.
a. Haggai condemns Israel because they live in paneled houses while the house of the Lord lies in ruins.
b. Seek first the kingdom of God; You shall have no other gods before me; Choose this day whom you will serve; he who does not hate his father and mother and brother and sister for my sake is not worthy of the kingdom – Jesus is serious about discipleship, and so should we.

5. Application
h. Watch where you step & ask lotsa questions.
i. Imagine you are at school, at work, at home, at the shopping mall…
i. What are these people like?
ii. How can I change this place to reflect the beauty of God?
iii. What would Jesus do?

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