Where to Find Me.

Before I get to my heart, let’s start with God’s heart for his people in Paul’s letter to Rome:

Romans 12:9-21 “9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people in low positions. Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “it is mine to avenge; I will repay”, says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I hope and pray that this scripture passage can be pertinent for all of us here on how to live in community with one another, and how to love with pure and sincere hearts. I want to talk with you this morning about some of my current struggles and failures on how I am not living out this scripture very well.

Now unlike many of you who grew up in the Methodist Church, I am still getting used to the idea of having multiple meetings each and every week. And in fact I had a retreat for our Shalom Zone yesterday that I helped facilitate for about 5 hours. I don’t mind a passion-filled, productive meeting, but I often struggle with the talking instead of doing aspect of this many meetings. And I came to a real place of exhaustion last night.

I am tired. I have been working full time in the church for the past 8 ½ years and I am tired of dabbling in community. I am tired of dabbling in outreach. I am tired of dabbling in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth only to be pulled away to another meeting, or another task or deadline that has to be done. I am not sharing this for pity this morning, I am sharing this because perhaps there are others here that want a more rich experience with this thing called church as well. Perhaps there are others here this morning that instead of dabbling in the Kingdom Life want to live in it fully.

Now in re-writing this message last night, I couldn’t help but feel like Jerry Maguire writing his late night memo to the world of Sports Management and other Agents that got him a swift kick to the curb. So I hope this last minute change doesn’t mean that you won’t have me back here at Centenary in the future. This “memo” does not have all of the answers on living the Kingdom life for you, but it is a call for me, and perhaps you as well to slow down; to rediscover our passions, and to run after God better trained to finish the race that he has set before us.

I want to share with you a few things that I have been learning lately. The first is that although I think all of us in this room are living busier lives than we would like, this does not mean that we have to live hurried lives. Jesus often lived a busy life. He was constantly on the move and followed by large demanding crowds. But here is the thing, he sought out time alone in prayer, he shared meals with friends, he was busy, not hurried as he took his time to arrive at the grave of Lazarus before he raised him from the dead.

I want to share with you a story that I am pretty ashamed of, that only happened about a month or two ago. Currently at Central I am helping to lead our casual service, and I usually arrive around 8 a.m. to ensure that the worship space gets set-up for our worship team, and then I get ready for my other responsibilities. Well, I don’t know about you, but Sunday mornings in our homes are not always the smoothest. So I left a little bit late, and as I was driving down Read Street to get to my church I passed a man digging through a dumpster. I say I passed a man, because I am embarrassed to say I didn’t stop to seek out his needs. I was running late for “church,” so I could worship, and I could lead others in worship, that I ignored one of God’s children in need. I was a hurried man, and I missed out on the blessing that God had in store for me that day.

I miss Africa for two main reasons right now. One is that nothing happens on time because people are more worried about each other than they are the sacred clock, and the other reason is because of the pure joy that is evident in so many lives.

And joy has been something I have been struggling to maintain lately. Another thing that I often find myself dabbling in! How sad is that it. When I look at my family, my two sweet healthy boys, and my beautiful loving wife, and a loving savior, how dare I be without joy, and yet I find myself in the pit of despair all too often. My friends, joylessness is a sin; and I am afraid it is a sin that we let slide on a regular basis here in church-land. So much of my struggle with joy has been my “grass is always greener on the other side perspective,” and my ability to let my expectations of others affect my attitude and my focus.

When I look at life with an eternal perspective, I am able to allow things to dissipate without stealing my joy. I am able to focus on my own service and obedience to God, rather than on others faults and the expectations that they are not currently meeting. I am able to find peace in my sons little giggle and patience in his crying. I am able to live in the land of contentment instead of want. I am a blessed man, it is not hard to see if you spend just a few minutes in my shoes, and yet His grace alone should be sufficient. My correct focus steers my Joy while my incorrect focus steals it.

So it has been the combination of the lack of joy, living a hurried life, and lastly enduring the many yeses in my life that have lead me to this place of exhaustion. The last thing I want to talk about with you is simply to let your yes be yes and your no be no. One of the main reasons I found myself in the land of exhaustion last night is simply because I have said yes to things that I am not passionate about, that I do not care deeply about, and that I am not gifted for. So often in the church we think our obedience means that we have to say yes to every committee, sub-committee and request for our service, time or talents. My young life leader in high school, Brooks Kimmel, saw in me a kid that thought he could conquer the world through service and meeting the needs of everyone at the same time, and he forced me to say no on many occasions. I have needed his advice in my life recently!

Often times working in the church, we find ourselves saying yes out of necessity, because there was no one else to step to the plate. But I have come to the realization that one church ministry done well by a group of committed, passionate people far outweighs twenty outreach programs done by partially committed, somewhat interested warm bodies. What do you love to do? Do you love to sing? Do you love to fish? Do you love to listen to others and pray for their needs? Do you love to serve in the trenches?

Do these things, make these things your ministry, your gift to God.

Saying no to the wrong things frees us up to say yes to the right things. I am convinced that we are so over-committed at times that we miss out on things we have no knowledge of. As I think about these three areas of struggle that I am facing right now, they are most likely struggles that my boys will face as they grow into the men that God is calling them to be, and perhaps they are the very struggles that some of you in this place of worship are wrestling with right at this very moment.

May we learn to slow down in our busy lives and not be so dictated by our schedules that we miss out on the opportunities that God places in our midst to serve, to listen or to love. May we all learn to live the joyous life that God desires for us all, and may we learn that often times by saying no to things, we are sometimes in essences saying yes to God. My prayer for myself and for all of us this morning is that our love would be sincere. And if it is possible, as far as it depends on us, that we would live at peace with everyone.

June 20, 2011 <> Mike Warneke

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