Pastor Terry Inman
How many of you are going to watch the Super Bowl today? Who watches it just for the commercials? Who watches it just for chips and guacamole? Did you know we Americans are going to consume 158 million avocados during the game? How many don’t really care about the super bowl at all?
Do you think God cares about football? Apparently one third of Christians polled think Jesus picks the winner of the super-bowl. I’m not sure the winner is decided in heaven but I do think God cares about football. He cares because he loves the people, the players, the coaches, and the fans.
There will be an estimated 120 million watching this year’s sibling rivalry. Jesus may not have a 49’s jersey and a 56” flat screen but he is very interested in what we are doing because he is very interested in us!
Carrie Cecil wife of the Rams Defensive coach prays through every game. “I understand that genocide, hunger, wars, diseases and human suffering are all on God's plate, and it may seem trivial to pray for a field goal with the clock running out, but to not believe God hears the smallest desires of my heart -- along with everybody else's -- is to underestimate vastly the power of God.”
Speaking of field goals. This year’s super-bowl could be won or lost between the uprights. Niners’ kicker David Akers could use some prayer. He is amazing kicker but as had less than an amazing year. He is also a brother who could use some amazing grace.
He has been in six pro-bowls but would love to earn a super-bowl ring. Every game day he has the honor of leading the 49er’s into a spiritual huddle before coach Harbaugh gives his motivational speech.
He is a graduate of the Assemblies of God Global University. Following the season I have been asked to meet with him to talk about getting his credential as a licensed A/G minister.
Today his task is to get the ball up and through the goalpost. He will need to focus. He will need balance. Win or lose, He will need to draw on his talent and his deep and tried trust in Jesus Christ.
Balance in life with all its ups and downs is hard to achieve. It’s a challenge to keep life centered in the uprights. In the mid-eighties imbalance took its toll on me. I was working incredibly hard, to turn around a troubled church. I was managing some conflict and crisis.
I was not spending enough quality time with God. I was not adequately attending to my marriage and family. I was not even paying attention to my own needs very well. On the surface I was performing well. Preaching good and pastoring the best I knew how but inside I was hurting.
It took a very painful crisis to get me on track and learn about balance!
Did you know that not talking a day off is as bad as adultery and murder?
Keeping the Sabbath is not about which day you go to church; it’s about needed rhythm, rest and re-creation in our relationship with God.
We have set some goals this year to be more effective at RESCUE. We want to guide more of our families, friends and co-workers though their storms and into a safe harbor in Christ. We have identified six objectives to accomplish this vision. It sounds like more work and it is, but I am also convicted by this passage.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11.28-30 (NIV)
We want to rescue many but not at the expense on balance. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8.36 (NIV)
A couple weeks ago our Pastoral team introduced a very simple tool for spiritual balance that we hope will become part of our Harbor Light culture. Mike Breen a discipling coach developed the Life Shape. It’s a triangle that symbolizes three dimensions of our life. (1.) UP-ward toward God (2.) IN-ward toward God’s community and (3.) OUT-ward toward the world/pre-Christians.
We are called to live three-dimensional lives. The four purposes of our church ore based on Jesus great commandment and great commission.
The great commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10.27 (NIV)
The great commission: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matt. 28.19-20 (NIV)
These two directives shape the three dimensions of our life in Christ. Love for God is our UPward life. Love for one another is our INward life. Love for the lost world is our OUTward life.
If we live in only two of these dimensions we become flat. Three-dimensional life conforms us to Christ. Jesus lived this way. He lived in relationship with his Father. He lived with a small group of disciples and with them he reached out to His World.
Packers Quarterback, Arron Rodgers the MVP of the 2011 Super Bowl says, "I think it helps to have a pretty good knowledge of the way that Jesus spoke and taught and interacted with people in the New Testament. He cared about people, He spent time with people, He cared about relationships, and that's kind of my leadership style."
Luke chapter 6 is a good backdrop for this triangle of relationships. Jesus, as he often did, went up the mountain to pray. In this case he stayed “UP” all night talking to his father. The next day he selected His “IN” team from the people who had been following. “He designated the twelve disciples as Apostles. “sent ones”. “OUT”
Mark 3.14 says. “He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.
The bible says he went down with them to a level place, where a huge crowd from all over the region came for his teaching and healing. Luke says, he was healing diseases and freeing those troubled by evil spirits.
People tried to touch him because power was coming from him. Then looking at his disciples he said, “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.” The rest of it we know as the beatitudes or blessings. It’s all part of His Sermon on the Mount. Luke 6:12-20 (NIV)
He spoke with authority and healed with power because of time spent UP! I love it that Jesus liked to hike up mountains to get close to God. I took this photo of the eleven thousand foot peak in front of our cabin in Montana. I feel close to God just looking at it!
During his UP time with his Father Jesus received revelation about who his IN people were. He told them. “You are going to be my small group we are going to serve together. Jesus needed a small group and so do we.
With his small group around him he healed the sick and raised the dead.
I believe we are going to see more of the power of God, more healing and freedom. This will attract the un-churched. They will come to our groups.
Let’s talk more about UP. Jesus was always looking UP to His Father. He called him (Abba) Daddy. He was always investing in that relationship. He spent time in prayer and praise in solitary places. He had a dialog going all the time. He said I only do what I see the Father doing.
UP is a commitment to intimacy with God. Speak to him as daddy. Jesus’ disciples heard him talk to his father a lot. The most common way to pray then was to pray out loud. So they said, “teach us to pray”. He said, do it this way, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, rite here on earth as it is in heaven…”
Life is like a landscape of mountains and valleys. Daily life is like a topographical map but below the strata is a lot of energy. When we connect with God we access the power just beneath the surface of life.
Jesus said, God’s spirit lives with you and will be in you. John 14.17 (NIV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, John 7.38-39 (NIV)
There are three ways Gods presence surfaces in our daily lives. Sometimes there is a spontaneous ERUPTION of his presence. He just breaks out on the surface. (Old Faithful every 44 minutes)
In Luke 10 Jesus broke out in spontaneous praise to his father when his team reported their successes. “Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Luke 10.21 (NIV)
You might have an outburst of God’s presence while watching a sunrise, reading scripture or listening to music. It’s an upsurge from deep within, of God’s powerful and loving presence. It could be insight or inspiration. It may be very emotional or it may physical but it will always be spiritual.
Tim Tebow of the New York Jets became a lightning rod for both fans and critics in his first season quarterbacking the Denver Broncos. He began kneeling on the field to pray after scoring touchdowns, and praising God during post-game press conferences.
He said, "My relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life. So anytime I get an opportunity to tell Him that I love Him or am given an opportunity to shout Him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity.''
That’s ERUPTION. We need to give vent to the presence of the Holy Spirit!
EROSION is another way we experience God. To expose what’s below the surface sometimes we are required to follow the path of erosion. Erosive even abrasive experiences of life help us find the gold.
Adversity strips away the insignificant layers of life to reveal the valuable. James says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1.2-3 (NIV)
David Akers knows hardship and heartbreak. Shortly before a wild-card game when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, he found out that his 6-year-old daughter, Halley, had a cancerous tumor. He missed two field goals amid the distractions, and the Eagles lost by 5.
Akers knows that life can be unfair — a trusted business partner and friend nearly bankrupted his family when the man swindled them out of $3.7 million in a Ponzi scheme between 2007 and ’09. Akers was in court during the preseason, testifying in front of a federal jury.
Akers also knows the unwavering power of faith, which is why his teammates sit on the floor to listen to him before the game. It may also be why Coach Harbaugh sticks by him when even when his performance has been mixed. Some things are more important than winning.
Akers leans on this scripture. In a recent huddle he quoted Rom. 5:3-5
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
We also experience God by EXCAVATION. If I told you there is gold in the parking lot we would come to church with shovels. There is something more precious below the surface in our lives, but we have to mine for it. Bible study, prayer, fasting, meditation, worship, these are tools - spiritual disciplines or exercises that help us connect with God and His glory. (glory-hole)
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is one of the hardest hitters in football. He is known as the playmaker. He is also an Eastern Orthodox Christian and his wife is a former Muslim. He has some unusual spiritual disciplines. He is a soft-spoken contemplative. He keeps a journal called “Counsels From the Holy Mountain''. He climbs Mt Atheos in Greece.
How do you best connect with God? Some of us are extroverted, we relate to God best by doing something. We need to stay active. Some us are more introverted, we like to be quiet and alone. Some pray for hours. Some of us are very disciplined some of us are very spontaneous.
This year Kicker Jay Feely put the Arizona Cardinals into overtime with a record 61yard boot through the uprights. He says a prayer before each kick. Once he's lined up his kick, he takes a short moment to be with God and remind himself of the strength and confidence the Lord gives him every day of his life.
What do you like to do? Ask God to join you. Bike riding? Invite Jesus to go for a ride. Jesus let’s go biking. He’s your best friend. Try having coffee with Jesus. Bring your own bible and notebook.
I like to walk or hike. I like to take photos of creation. I enjoy listening to worshipful music or scripture. I enjoy God’s presence and His pleasure. What do you do to connect with God? Invite him to the super-bowl!
You won’t get bored or burned out if you keep UP with Jesus this year! How to do UP? How is your UP time going? Talk to your neighbor now.