Sunday, June 17, 2012


"I’m delighted you’re here," Brad said in greeting in greeting us this sunny summer day. Up at the front is a large red plastic 4x4 truck that will undoubtedly serve as an object lesson. And our theme this morning has to do with this question, “Who’s driving the car?”

It’s been a big week. Tuesday we bore witness to the Gospel with Peggy Wargin’s funeral service. It’s also been a big VBS week. First, a big “Thank you” to everyone who helped make VBS 2012 a huge success. There were 85 kids impacted this week, and only 43 come to our church, so it was a really great experience for the community. They also raised $460 to support missionaries. Brooke shared several great testimonials

There will be a Council meeting Tuesday at 7:00 and Wednesday the 27th we’re having an important meeting with the Church Council and Building Committee.

And finally, it’s Father’s Day, and some of the women of the church made pies for the fathers.

Chuck, Darlene and Ken opened the worship with “Heaven On My Mind.” Brad then dedicated the service to the Lord and the worship team followed with “God Is Good.” As the offering was being taken the trio sang “Somebody Touched Me.”

The Scripture reading by Vicki was from Mark 3:20-34.  

“Let’s turn our hearts to God in prayer this morning,” Brad stated after taking the pulpit. Many requests for needs and praise for the good things that have been happening, including Lillian’s 90th birthday this coming Tuesday.


Brad pointed to the big red plastic vehicle at the front of the sanctuary and said it was given to them by Angela. He said that when his kids go to ride it, you can guess which seat they fight for. It's always the driver’s seat.

Brad then read the passage in Matthew 16 where Peter privately rebukes Jesus for saying He would be going to Jerusalem soon to suffer at the hands of the priests and then be killed. Jesus rebuke’s Peter in response and says "Get thee behind me Satan," then proceeds to talk at length about denying yourself.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

When it was time to bring our first son home from the hospital, we put him in the car seat, wrapped with blankets, and he looked so fragile. It was a scary day. The next scary day will be when he turns sixteen and I hand him the keys to the car.

It’s a big moment when you hand someone the keys. Right now, I drive… but if I let someone else drive you have to trust that person. Sometimes I drive and someone says, “Why are you going this way? It’s the long way.” And I have to remind them that it’s my car, my keys.

I mention this and am reminded of the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Everyone was shouting to him to help them, heal them… Everyone cheers Jesus when He is doing something for them.

We all like Jesus when he is in the passenger seat. But Jesus came to drive. It’s His agenda, His life. My wallet is His wallet. My mouth is His mouth that must be used for His purposes.

Whose driving your life? Is Jesus in the car? If so, is He in the driver’s seat?

Jesus said, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matt 10:39) And in another place he said, "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24)

In several other places Jesus said "Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me."

This does not mean you just have a que sera sera attitude or passively resigned "it is what it is" approach to life. Surrender is “the glad and voluntary acknowledgement that there is a God and it’s not me.”

There comes a kind of Copernican moment for our souls when we realize that we’re not the center of the universe. (Copernicus was the scientist who proved and announced that the sun, moon and stars did not revolve around the earth.)

Some Christian messages play well in any cultural context. “No matter how much you mess up, God loves you.” Or how about, “Come to me who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The general populous hears the comfort in these words and is not averse to being told God loves them. But some messages have a bit more bite and aren’t quite so exciting. “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me,” is one of these.

Brad shared his own personal story in this regard. He was a class president, and did many leadership things, but was covering up how internally insecure he was. He felt a need to project leadership and confidence, but the greater the gulf between his internal feelings and how he thought he should be, the more weight it placed on him so that the role was not a joy but a burden. The burden became great and he brought it to the Lord where he said he was willing to give up being a leader. He put it on the altar and gave it to God. It was hard, and painful, but on the other side of that cross was joy and freedom.

Though now in a leadership position, it is no longer need-based.

Unless that you trust that Jesus has your best interests in mind, you yon't turn everything over to Him. But there is no other way to freedom. Death to self is like discarding a useless shell to that the real person you are and were meant to be can thrive. Surrender.

Brad brought up the example of Alcoholics Anonymous and their twelve-step program. AA doesn’t say “Try really hard to not drink.” Nor does it say, “Try to quit.” No, the will fails. The solution is surrender.

Step one: Admit that you are powerless over your addiction, that your life has become unmanageable.
Step two: Believe that a Power greater than yourself could restore you to sanity. Step three is a decision to turn our will and life over to the care of God.

Surrender is the path to victory, not just with alcohol and addictions, but also with habits and sin in general.

Why does the will fail? Because our minds are crazy and will mess us up. We are unable at certain times to bring into our minds the suffering and grief that we felt even one week ago.
Temptation is a form of temporary insanity. But there is a path out. Surrender. “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny himself and take up his cross daily…” Paul puts it this way. “Offer your body as a living sacrifice…” This is an ongoing surrender.

Surrender is when I say, “I will seek to handle this in a way that honors You.”

A lot of times it takes courage to do what is right or required of us. It's not an inner feeling, but usually involves an external action. Brad shared another personal anecdote to illustrate this point.

Who’s driving? If you live with a divided heart it will result in a miserable existence. If you keep Jesus out of the driver’s seat it will knot you up inside.

In point of fact, the life you gain is way better than the life you lose.

“I have been crucified with Christ. That old false self lives, but Christ lives in me," Paul wrote to the Galatians.

Jesus was relentless with this. Whatever it takes… Your wallets? Your relationships? Maybe it’s a grudge or a habit or an attitude….

Jesus took this approach in the garden before going to the cross. “I don’t want this burden, this pain, this ordeal." But He ended with "Not My will but Yours be done.”

Maybe you’ve surrendered before and you need to surrender again. This is our day…

The service ended with the hymn Take My Life and Let It Be.

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