I Want to Quit

Bedroom Confession #3 “I Want to Quit”BC_Facebook_Cover

From Mountain Lake Church Dawson’s Sermon Series, “Bedroom Confessions”
View the service online at: vimeo.com/dawsonmlc

Is love enough? I guess that depends on how you define love. We love pizza, love our jobs, love vacations and love our spouse.

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that “love never fails”. If that’s true, why do so many relationships and marriages still fail? To have a love that never fails as it says in verse 8 we need to look back to verse 7 to see what it takes to get to a love that never fails:

It [Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

To have a love that never fails in our marriage we must be willing to put in the work and effort on the front end. When we have a love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres we will have a love that never fails.

As we look at practical ways to always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere to develop a love that never fails…understand always means “in all things”. That means that in all things love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres…in good times and bad times.

Love Always Protects

To protect means to provide, care for, defend. It is the image of covering to protect from potential threats. It is putting your personal safety and desires aside for the good of someone else, in this case, your spouse.

Gardenia vs. Daylily
If you are gardener you understand what is required to care for different plants. There are some plants that demand more care than others. Gardenias are beautiful plants known for its fragrant white flowers. Due to their beauty they have become a gardening symbol in the southeast. But to be able to enjoy the beauty of the Gardenia you must be willing to put in the effort. Gardenias demand very specific care from the time of the year they are planted, temperature, sunlight, watering, placement, soil type and so on. You cannot plant a Gardenia in your backyard and expect to sit back and watch it blossom.  A Daylily on the other hand is in many ways just as beautiful but is capable of blooming and growing without the tedious care and attention.

Each spouse has a duty to protect, to care for, the other…always! A love that always protects means that each spouse knows what it takes for their spouse to grow and blossom into the beautiful man or woman that God intended them to be. A gardener can’t get upset at a gardenia for not growing if he doesn’t provide the correct care. God has given husbands and wives the duty to protect, to care for their spouse…paying careful attention to their specific needs so that they can grow into their full potential. It is the responsibility of the spouse to be the gardener of their husband/wife.

Side Note: We get the word “husband” from the term “husbandman” which is someone one cultivates the land…aka farmer. 

Know the Needs: Do you know what it takes for your spouse to grow and blossom? If not…find out! (this is a process…sometimes a process of trial and error)

Do the Deeds: Once you know what it takes to protect your spouse so they can grow, do it! There is a large gap between knowing and doing. Set time aside to do what it takes to protect

Be a Defender: Just as a gardener does many things to protect his plants from insects, frost, too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, etc…We must be very aware of anything that poses a threat to our spouse. Are any of the following a potential threat: Toxic Relationships (family, friends, coworkers, neighbors), Financial Pressures, Stress, Temptations, Media, etc…

Remove Sarcasm: The word “sarcasm” literally means “to rip flesh”. When we allow sarcasm into how we talk to our spouse we are doing the opposite of protecting

Love Always Trusts

In order to always trust the relationship must be safe. Security in a relationship is developed through honesty not perfection. Honesty includes apologizing and forgiving. This doesn’t mean we necessarily forgive and forget but we choose to forgive and choose to not hold grudges against our spouse. Always Trusting means we think the best of the other person and always assume the best in the other person.

Apologize: Be quick to apologize. Ask your spouse if there is anything you still need to apologize for. You may be surprised what you need to apologize for that you didn’t even realize hurt your spouse.

Note for husbands: When you apologize to your wives it is important to be aware of your demeanor. We are naturally louder and more animated when we talk which can be perceived as intimating to our wives. To effectively apologize to our wives (which we should probably be doing on a daily basis) we need to soften our voice.

Forgive:
 Forgiving keeps our emotions from dictating our love. Forgiving doesn’t take away the hurt but it begins the healing process. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting rather forgiving is choosing to love always and in all things.

Love Always Hopes

Love that always hopes is not a love that just wishes things will get better. This is not “wishful thinking”. A love that always hopes has confidence. Confidence that even though things may not be good right now…we are committed to each other and committed to work hard, put in the effort and things will get better.

Joy over Frustration: Joy is different from happiness. There can be joy in the midst of troubles. As a couple, choose joy over frustration. Choose to see how things are growing and be joyful for the progress you are making, no matter how minimal it seems. Marriage is a journey…it will be more enjoyable walking it through together…even if the road is difficult. Hope does not expect immediate results but has confidence while being joyfully patient.

Picture It Often: Too often we get caught up in what is instead of what could be. As a couple take time to hope and dream together. Talk about what your ideal life looks like five years from now, ten years from now. The more you talk about the ideal and picture it together the more you will find yourself moving towards the ideal together.

Love Always Perseveres

To persevere means to stay, to remain, not to retreat. In our marriages we fail to persevere because we don’t feel like it, it seems too difficult, requires too much effort or just too tired. Love is a commitment not solely an emotion or feeling. To have a love that always perseveres you must be willing to commit to one another…always and in all things

Commit to taking divorce off the table! Take time this week and go over your wedding vows again. Take notice of the commitments you made to one another and take an honest evaluation of how you each are doing living up to those commitments.

Love Never Fails

Love never fails = in all things protect, trust, hope and persevere!

To grow the intimacy within your marriage both spouses must be willing to grow and cultivate that love.  When your marriage is based on the love that God has for us, which is the only love that truly never fails…then yes, love is enough!

Our love should be a reflection of the love God has for us

As a spouse, does your love for your spouse reflect the love God has for you?

[Husbands and Wives] Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

I’m Doing It My Way

Bedroom Confessions #2 “I’m Doing It My Way”

BC_Facebook_Cover

From Mountain Lake Church Dawson’s Sermon Series
View the service online at: vimeo.com/dawsonmlc

My Way

We love our freedoms and our independence. We want to do what we want, when we want, the way we want. Culturally speaking, our entire lives are oriented towards achieving the goal of being self-sufficient, self-reliant, completely independent and free. Understand there is a difference between independence and selfishness. Independence is not always a negative in our day and age but making our personal freedoms and independence the top priority is selfish and leads to unhealthy relationships.  The problem we will continue to run into is when we value our independence and freedoms above what is best for our relationship with God and others.

When replying to the church of Corinth Paul writes, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Paul is helping the early church (and us) understand that yes we have the right to do anything…but that doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean it is always beneficial…Especially in our relationships!

God’s Way

God has given us very specific standards to live by FOR OUR PROTECTION and for our benefit. These standards are the Ten Commandments. When we choose to “Do it our own way” instead of “God’s way” we invite pain, hurt and consequences into our lives and relationships. However, that means in order to live within God’s standards we are required to give up certain freedoms that we may want to hang on to. We still have freedom…but it is freedom within the standards of God.

Self-Control Protects Intimacy

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

Selfishness destroys intimacy and our capacity to be intimate whereas selflessness rebuilds intimacy. At the root of selflessness within a relationship is self-control. We all have desires and temptations and we have a choice to “do it my way”, to choose to exercise my freedoms to benefit myself OR “do it God’s way” and practice self-control by not giving into the selfish desires. Self-control is intentionally choosing not doing something just because you want to or feel like it. When we are able to consistently practice and show self-control within our relationships (as singles or marrieds) we increase the capacity for intimacy within the relationship.

Fast Food & Porn

The lack of self-control is the easy way out…it’s lazy! Within our culture, we celebrate and glorify instant gratification: it has become a norm and even an expectation. We go through the fast-food drive thru because its fast, easy and convenient compared to planning ahead, going to the grocery and making dinner. We use porn because it’s instant and more convenient compared to developing an intimate relationship over time through selflessness. The lack of self-control becomes very dangerous within relationships and sexuality. When self-control is not a standard, there can be no standard on what is or isn’t acceptable which leads to pain, problems, heartache and the death of health and intimacy within the relationship.

Side Note: Our circumstances and situations do not determine our capacity for self-control. If we are unable to practice self-control in the seemingly small and insignificant areas what makes us think we can have self-control in other areas!? If porn is a self-control issue as a single…it will still be an issue when married. If sleeping around is an issue now…it will still be an issue later! Changing our relationship status does not automatically change our ability to have self-control

Pure Sex Challenge

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

We gave this challenge to our church this last week…The 7 Day Pure Sex Challenge! (let me explain…) For singles and marrieds, this is a challenge to practice self-control over the next 7 days, to not engage in selfish sexual relations or acts. That means: no porn, no masturbation, no sexual relations outside of marriage, no affairs (physical or emotional). To commit to practice self-control in what we think, say, wear and do! To commit to “Doing it God’s way” instead of “My way”…to live within the standards God has set

For marrieds, that does not mean sexual abstinence…that means to pursue intimacy at a higher level (to selflessly serve one another and meet your spouses needs more). That may mean MORE sex, MORE date nights, MORE conversations and pillow talk once the kids are in bed…Take a reality check of your marriage and together determine which areas of intimacy do you as a couple need to increase and press into.

The Body Follows the Mind

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15)

Committing to self-control, especially within the context of sex, is easier said than done! James helps us understand how we can set ourselves up for success! It starts with our mind’s desires. When evil (evil = anything outside of God’s standards) consumes our minds we will be tempted. And even though the temptation itself is not a sin…if we continue to dwell on that desire it is eventually going to “drag us away”, as James says, and lead us to sin and eventual death. Death here does not refer just to a physical death but a spiritual death, the death of intimacy, the death of relationships.

As we find ourselves living outside of God’s standards we must begin with our mind. What we think about, what we allow in our mind. If we change what is in our mind…eventually our body will follow.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

God’s Grace Restores Our Intimacy and Refines Our Desires

Of course, this is not something we can do on our own! Ultimatly we must give up our independence and rely on God, become more dependent on Him, trust His Ways are better than Our Ways. When we are unable, God is very able and that is the truth we must lean on in our lives and our relationships!

King David knew that in order for him to change his lifestyle and desires he first had to ask God to change what was in his mind and heart: asking God to do what he couldn’t do! A great starting point in asking God to restore intimacy and refine desires is to pray as David prayed:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Upon Jesus’ arrival he was received with many different people welcoming him in different ways. One thing everyone had it common was they were unable or unwilling to see what Jesus was really doing. They were blinded by their own hopes, assumptions, expectations and plans.

The Crowd: Misunderstood Jesus (John 12:12-13)

When Jesus entered the town people celebrated and honored Jesus! They declared him king of Israel and gladly welcomed him! However, the crowd misunderstood Jesus. The crowd assumed and expected Jesus to be their military messiah…the one who would save them from their political oppression. Jesus did come as the messiah and did come to save…but he came to serve and to be sacrificed to save us from our sins not raise up an army to overthrow the government. The crowd had their messiah but he was not the messiah they were expecting! This misunderstanding led to the crowd shouting “Crucify” instead of “Hosanna” just a short time later. Many times we become blinded by our own assumptions, hopes and expectations. May we pray, “Open our eyes to see Jesus as He is and not as I want Him to be”.

The Disciples: Didn’t Understand Jesus (John 12:14-16)

As Jesus rode into town scriptures tells us that his disciples didn’t understand why all this was happening. In Luke 19:28-31 we get a more detailed account of what Jesus asked of his disciples.  It was obvious that his disciples were confused. “Why do we have to go find a donkey?” “Why does it have to be one that has never been ridden?” “Why do we have to be the ones to go get it for you?” “Why do you have to come into town like this?” “Why…why…why?” We make the false assumption that upon becoming Christian we all of a sudden know everything. That’s just not the case! But there does come a point when we do get IT…and so did the disciples. The disciples had their “Ah-ha” moment, scripture says, after Jesus was glorified. So AFTER everything happened and Jesus was glorified THEN they understood. It’s much easier for us to gain understand afterwards rather than before. The disciples were blinding by their lack of understanding and in some ways their lack of faith. We need to be ok not knowing everything…but trusting in God and having faith! May our prayer be, “Give us the eyes to see what Jesus is doing and faith in what we cannot see”.

The Pharisees: Didn’t Believe Jesus (John 12:17-19)

Ignorance is bliss (just read this story: click here). It is easier to ignore or deny reality than it is to adjust to reality. The pharisees had two choices: 1) to accept that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore change and adjust their traditions, beliefs, teachings, etc… or 2) deny that Jesus is the Son of God and remove him as a threat. We know the story…they chose to deny Jesus and plot to arrest and ultimately kill him. Many times it’s not that we don’t believe but rather we don’t want to believe. We don’t want to face reality; we don’t want to change. The pharisees were blinded by their own wants and desires and were unwilling to change. My our prayer be, “Give us the eyes to see reality”.

For further reading and study: Read 2 Kings 6 and pray for your eyes to be opened like Elisha and his servant!

Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Palm Sunday”
April 13, 2014

Pressing On

When we find ourselves in the midst of hardship and struggles it becomes more and more difficult to press on. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to hardships and struggles. As mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; 11:23-28 he experienced: troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, riots, hunger, dishonor, bad reports, imprisonments, poverty, hard work, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger, sleepless nights and regarded as an impostor! But even in the difficulties Paul pressed on. So what was he secret to Keep Calm and Carry On?

VISION (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Paul gives us a great image of running the race with our eyes on the prize. When we have a vision we have something to aim for. But the vision isn’t enough. “Vision without implementation is hallucination”. vision-egg and bird paintingPaul speaks to how to implement a vision through strict training and focus. He also mentions the importance of taking care of self. As a Christian, we quickly think “Love God, Love Others”…but what about ourselves. Jesus is clear in Matthew 22:34-40 that yes we should first and foremost love God and secondly love our neighbor as yourself! If there is no love for self then there can be no love for others or for God. Loving yourself has many cultural connotations so we need to understand the Biblical view of loving yourself. To go more in-depth into the Godly way to love yourself checkout my blog on the Replenishment Cycle.

ENDURANCE (2 Timothy 1:6-8; 4:5-8)

2 Timothy is regarded as Paul’s final letter and his final words to his apprentice he gives very specific instructions and encouragements. To paraphrase, Paul is telling Timothy to endure but in order to endure you need discipline. Endurance comes from discipline. Be disciplined in doing what you were created and made to do. Be disciplined in keeping your head in all situations. Be disciplined in doing the work God called you to do. Be disciplined in bringing others along with you instead of doing it all alone. Endurance is not something that we just muster up or find deep within us. It seems like that is how it works but the reality is our endurance comes out of our discipline. If we want to be able to endure the hardships we must remain disciplined in the off-season and throughout the season.

DEPENDENCE (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Even the Apostle Paul was begging for relief! We don’t know what the “thorn in his flesh” was but it was bad enough to beg God to remove it three times! Jesus’ answer is not the answer of relief that we may hope and wish for. He answer’s Paul’s plea by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you”. Paul understands that he is strong and able to endure the more he becomes dependent on Jesus. When we face hardships we say things like, “How did I get here and how am I going to get out of this!?” postturtle-1fr1wp3Paul gives us more insight into this kind of dependence in Philippians 4:12-13 when he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”. When Paul says “content” he is not referring to being well-pleased, gratified or happy but rather the definition of content here is “independent of external circumstances”. Keep Calm and Carry On by being independent of circumstances and dependent on Jesus!

Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
April 6, 2014

Surviving the Storms

We encounter trials, tests, hardships and storms of all kinds throughout our lives. How we respond and interact with these inevitable storms will determine our quality of life and the quality of our relationships. By looking at three storms mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew we can better learn how to respond to the storms of our lives.

The Storm of Surprise (Matthew 8:23-27)

Storms always seem bigger and scarier when we don’t see them coming. Sometimes we can predict the path of a storm and prepare for it. The ones that come up quickly and without warning are difficult and devastating. When this sudden and furious storm came upon the boat there was obvious fear and probably panic, even for experienced fishermen. I would also think the disciples had feelings of abandonment and loneliness – that during this major, life threatening storm their Teacher, their Leader, the One they followed was asleep and uninvolved in their efforts to stay alive! When they could take it no more and had run out of options they screamed at Jesus to wake up and save them. Jesus’ response had to have taken them back, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid” (Matthew 8:26) and then the Son of God calmed the sea. Jesus’s response gives his follower’s a reality check; that he was always and will always be there with them. When a storm surprises us, when we get blindsided and caught off guard, may we remember that our Savior WAS, IS and WILL BE there! Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Storm of Struggle (Matthew 14:22-33)

Unlike the Storm of Surprise, this storm didn’t seem to be immediately threatening their lives. This storm is described as one that was constantly beating against the boat. “[the boat was] buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matthew 14:24). The disciples were in a battle, trying everything to stay afloat and the wind and waves seemed to have it out for them. The more they fought against the storm, the stronger the storm seemed to fight back. Exerting mass amounts of energy to just remain topside up. It may not have been a sudden and furious storm…but it was nonetheless a relentless storm. When Jesus comes to them walking on water he gives them the key to surviving this storm: Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On! Even though they are fighting what seems like an uphill battle, Take Courage! Keep Fighting, Don’t Give Up! Then of all things, after Peter’s response to Jesus walking on water, Jesus calls him out of the boat and into the storm. Literally, to stand and walk on the water in the middle of the storm! Jesus didn’t calm the storm. Instead, he called Peter to stand in the middle of it! Peter had courage and stepped out of the boat…his faith allowed him to walk on water but upon seeing the wind and the waves his faith dwindled and he began to sink. As Peter cried out to Jesus, Jesus immediately caught him and brought him back to the boat! It takes courage to step out of the boat but it takes faith to walk on water! When Jesus doesn’t calm the storm remember that He is there, standing in the middle of the storm with you! He will give you the courage and faith to survive. And when we begin to drown He is there to catch us! Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On to Jesus! (See Joshua 1:9)

The Storm of Instability (Matthew 7:24-29)

If we are not careful we will live our lives as a balancing act: trying to manage all aspects of our lives. Without realizing it our end goal has become balance. When we focus on managing everything we tend to neglect our foundation. When we have an unstable foundation and then try balancing our life it won’t take much to throw us off and bring everything crashing down! Jesus gives a parable at the end of The Sermon on the Mount that explains the importance of a strong foundation and the consequence of not having a firm foundation on Him. In other words, your foundation determines your survival. If you want to have any hope of surviving the storms you must have your foundation on Jesus! (See Psalm 18:2)

In Your Storms

Notice the commonalities between each of the storms:
1. Jesus led or directed his followers into the storm. Jesus never promises to keep us from the storms but He does promise to be there with us and help us during the storms. You will have storms. Be ready, be prepared, have a strong foundation! A storm is coming…
2. He was always there and within reach. Even when we feel alone, abandoned, helpless and hopeless Jesus is right there with us! Sometimes He is there to clam the storm. Other times He is there to stand in the storm with us. He is always there to catch us and keep our head above the water.
3. After the storm passed, people were in awe and amazed at Jesus. It is difficult to be amazed and in a “worshipful” mood in the middle of a storm. But once the storm passes we will be amazed at how our Savior came through! May we always remember to thank and worship Him after the storms!

Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
March 30, 2014