A few recent sermons about helping those who are hurting

04/15/12 “Who Adopts?” (Beth Guckenberger)
04/08/12 Easter “Stained Glass Savior” (Chad)
04/01/12 “Who Provides?” (Chad Hovind)
03/25/12 “Who Cares?” (Doug Daily)
03/18/12 “Who Remembers?” (Chad Hovind)
03/11/12 “Who Feeds?” (Chad Hovind)
03/04/12 “Who Sees?” (Chad Hovind)

Many of us are looking for a light to follow. Especially in the dark. The darker the night   becomes, the more we squint to see -even the smallest of lights.   Our community has endured a significant amount of darkness this month.   Two teenagers died…sudden shocking darkness.   Our children, our friends, and our neighbors are stunned -as are we- by the darkness of it all.   We are hurting as a community.  And when a community is trapped in the darkness and hurting, they are longing for comfort.  There is something so powerful about love, comfort, and a community drawing together in the darkness.   That love and concern becomes a light in the darkness.

We know the Bible gives us freedom to grieve.  Freedom to be angry. Freedom to mourn.  We are reminded that we were never made for a world with death, disease and tragedy.   If you are not sure what you believe, but the idea of a young life plucked out of his prime rocks your world…God tells us that He “mourns with those who mourn.”  He draws near to those in pain. He is an “ever-ready help in tight places.”  Our student pastor was with students during the tragedy a few weeks ago and was with the family this week in Indian Hill.  She told me about the tears, the questions, and the struggles.    She spoke of the students who experienced the Simple Light of comfort in times of pain.   FRIENDS ASK ABOUT THE MOTIVATION OF PEOPLE WHO ENGAGE IN ILLUMINATION.

When you see someone engaging in giving their life and light away…

  • When you see folks who give large percentages of time, treasure, and talents to others, it grabs your attention. You want to find out what’s the motivation for all this illumination.
  • When someone goes through cancer, but has a almost supernatural peace and strength, you see light in a dark place… and you ask about it.
  • When you see a friend get their heart ripped out, but choose to forgive… the light of that forgiveness illuminates the darkness of betrayal and you ask, “What’s your motivation for this illumination?”
  • When a church mobilizes 100’s and 1000’s of people to give of their time and money to feed starving children, offering light to the darkness of starvation…  People… even people who don’t believe what you believe, start to ask, “What’s the motivation of this kind of illumination?”

ASK YOURSELF, “AM I  GIVING OFF MUCH LIGHT?”  A great question we should all ask ourselves is this? “Am i giving off much light?”  Is there a rich, selfless aroma to my life? Is there a servanthood glow to the way I live? When people see me talk to my spouse, my k ids, my employees, my clients, my suppliers, do they see anything “light giving?”   In the darkness of questions and doubts in tragedy, am I making my mere presence available to those who are hurting.   Why would anyone want to “check their light meter?”   It proves your credibility.

Last year, many neighbors and friends came pack meals for starving children.  Many who were skeptical of God and church were delighted to come along with Church going friends to help bring light into a world of starving children.  Conversations erupted with friends who wanted “to know the motivation” for people who engage in “illumination…”  Tell us about what you believe.  Tell me about what you are doing.

Everyone is interested in finding out more when you see a radically others-centered lifestyle! So radical. So others-focused that it is UNcommon sense. It grabs people’s attention.  And it’s attractive… Like Nordstrom.  It is known for it’s outstanding customer service.  People pay more because Nordstrom makes shopping so much more pleasant.  For the company strategy to work, they must transform normal employees into customer service zealots. Most come to work with a schema that says, “Get customers in and out the door as fast as possible and try to smile.”  Nordstrom teaches a different philosophy, “Make customers happy even at the expense of efficiency.” They teach employees how to do this through unexpected stories. They highlight “nordies” who embody this others-focused care.  Here are highlights of stories they share

  • The Nordie who ironed a new shirt for a customer who needed it for a meeting that afternoon
  • The Nordie who cheerfully gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy’s
  • The Nordie who warmed customers’ cars in winter while they finished shopping
  • The Nordie who refunded money for a set of tire chains (even though Nordstrom doesn’t sell tire chains.

This grabs our attention doesn’t it?  We are used to bare minimum, only what benefits me type living, but this kind of lifestyle is attractive. It gives us a hearing.  We gain credibility. We  gain a sense that we are “practicing what we preach.”  This is real. This is mobile and on the ground type practical living.   Many of you are hear today at Horizon because of this.  You’re not sure you believe the message.  Not sure about the exclusive claims of Jesus or the trustworthiness of the Bible… but you met a friend who had a peace, a love, a lifestyle that was full of “illumination” and you came along to church with them because they said God’s grace was and is the motivation for their living.  You come in our doors weekly and feel genuinely cared for, loved, welcomed by our greeters. You sense that this message is real… at least to the ones giving it….   And we hope we have gained a hearing, a credible window to  share our motivation with you.   The lifestyle Jesus calls us to increases your credibility… The lifestyle of “religious,” pious, proud, “look at me” living loses credibility.. which is why many of us….have a bad taste in their mouth.

Jesus delivered a message called “the SERMON ON THE MOUNT,” where he says the same thing. “When you engage in illumination, people will ask about your motivation.”

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

When you are humbly patient (meek) and treat people accordingly… When you don’t pay people back, but instead give them mercy….  When you work to make peace, instead of stirring up trouble… When you are beat up for doing good things and have your motives questioned, but keep doing good to others… Something is extremely attractive about that kind of life.  That type of life LIGHTS up a room.   And if you ask God to forgive you of a self-centered life, and instead ask him to come live within you, you will find HIS life and HIS light flowing through you…


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