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Built Different

By Jon Buchholz

July 23, 2023

Gracias por leer este sermón. Si lo que escucha lo conmueve y se encuentra en el área de Boston, ¡considere visitarlo en persona!

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Good morning, Boston Church of Christ. It's great to be with you guys this morning. If you didn't catch it already, my name is John Buchholz. My wife and I you'll hear from Rachel in a few minutes. We live in Milan, Italy, but it didn't start that way. I know some of you guys don't know us, but we were sitting in these very seats like 14 years ago when we were college students when we were getting together and falling in love. Kevin and Melissa were helping us and training us and guiding us through that troubled time. I'm not going to tell the whole story, but what I did want to say just as we get going here is I think it was Stewart. As we went to fellowship, 40 seconds, whatever, the question was asked, what does family mean to you? I turned around, I saw Austin Fiador, and Austin's like, good to see you. And he's like, oh, maybe we should answer the question. I was like, all right, well, I'll answer the question for you. My answer to that question, family for me is a home you can always come back to. And that's what you guys are for us.

The Boston Church, for me and I think for many disciples around the world, is a great light, a light of generosity, a light of inspiration and faith. What you guys are doing here, maybe you're here for the first time today. You're like, I don't know what you're talking about, John. Just trust me. You don't know me, but I hope I have a trustworthy face. Trust me for a second and let me just tell you, this is a place that you want to be. This is a place you really want to invest your heart in because God is going to do amazing things in your life if you do. We don't have all of the time that I would want to take. But I do get to speak in English today, which means I get to speak faster than normal and maybe a little bit more focused than normal. So this is good. This is to our advantage. I talked to Stuart this week, and we chatted when he asked me if I'd be willing to come down and preach. And I asked him, hey, what topic should I preach about? He said, oh, man, just preach about something that you already know, like something you've already done before.

It's going to be great, no worries, whatever. And I thought, okay, I have just the sermon, so let's start right there. "Speaking Italian" See, that's what happens when I speak Italian. I get confused and you get even more confused. That was the first problem right there. As I went, I got this sermon in Italian. We need to translate this title, but it's not going to translate quite correctly. So I sat there. I spent almost the most amount of time on this sermon, trying to figure out what to call it here in Boston, and I came up with a few ideas. I had a life built to last. It's pretty cool. Building on the Rock sounds cool as well. But then I knew what it needed to be called. And this one is for the YouTube thing that's going to go out and for anything else. This sermon is called Built Different. Built Different this week, as many of us do in our free time. I was, like, checking through my messages and I saw one of my friends had put in our Imessage chat this video of a running back who plays in the NFL named Nick Chubb doing his offseason workouts.

Or maybe it was Derek Henry, I can't remember which one because they're both incredible. And he was doing his offseason workouts. He had a squat bar on his shoulders like this. And the squat bar had like 600 pounds of weight on it. And below the caption just said, Built Different. And this guy is like, squatting like this, right? He's squatting so much weight that the bar is like this. I can assure you that has never happened to me. The bar is like this. So I went to the gym last week. I went to my dad's gym. A lot of guys like my dad, older guys just kind of in the gym. I was like, Anytime fitness, let's do this. So I went with my dad to the gym. I got in there, I was like, I'm going to squat some weight. I put some weights on. I went, let's take some weights off. That's better. Put it on my shoulders. I did my squats. Raph and I are about Raph is my brother-in-law. If you know Raph and Kat, this is my dear family, and we're happy to be here with them. This morning I was talking to Raph about this, and he was like, yeah, I did squats too, man. My knees got some problems. I just getting started again. 180. I was like, I'm with you, man. 180, maybe 150 or 160, I don't know. And so I did it and I did my whole workout, five by five, feeling good, no problem. I was like, Next week I'm going to do more weight. It's going to feel great. This week, the same thing. I'm built differently. Putting it on my shoulders, going down, and immediately my knee started killing and I was like, no, squats this week. Not built so differently. That's what it is. I'm 35 years old, I think I look to my wife for confirmation. I get confused very easily about my age, I'm 35 years old. I think I'm at the cut-off for being able to use this phrase. So I'm going to use it. If you didn't like it, or if you're older than 35 and you're like, what does Built Different even mean? Just take one of the first two titles I offered. They'll be totally fine. It's not going to change anything that we have to say. So you know me at this point. But I hope that you know that this is a worldwide family that you're a part of when you come into this building.

That this sacred thing that's happening on a Sunday morning, to get together and remember the death and the resurrection of Jesus and get together with other believers and worship God and look at His Word. This practice has been going on for thousands of years, and it happens all over the world in fellowships and congregations just like this. The church in Milan got together this morning and in Italian, worshiped God with some of the same songs and read from His Word. That's what we're going to do. And I think this is a holy, sacred moment where we take the word of God. I know some of us got our iPads or whatever. It doesn't matter. We take the word of God, we open it up and we look to Him. And this is important because there are so many things in our world trying to capture our attention at any moment. And I hope for the next 36 minutes or so that you can just try to peer intently into the Word of God and see exactly what it is that he would have you here this morning. And with that, I want to open to Matthew, chapter seven.

We're going to read verses 24 to 29. These are some of the most famous words of Jesus. After preaching for three days, he comes to his conclusion. And he concludes this way after three days of teaching. Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law. This is a foundational understanding that we have to have when we want to open the Bible and read God's Word together when we want to learn from Jesus, the Master, the rabbi, and the teacher.

If we're going to come before God's Word this morning, then this is absolutely crucial that we understand this. Hearing these words will make very little difference in your life. Putting this word into practice, and building your life upon its teachings, will make all of the difference. When we're talking about being built differently, if we want the church to be built differently, if we want our lives, our marriages, and our families, to be built differently. And what we mean by that in modern slang is incredible, amazing, special. Something that is worthy of imitation that the world would look at and go, wow, that's amazing. If that's what we want for our lives, then Jesus just tells you right here, put what I'm saying into practice. I know you're all, yeah, yeah, great teaching. We can put our Likes on Facebook or Instagram hearts or whatever you do on TikTok. I don't have that one. You can do all of that sharing and all of that liking and all of that nodding your head, but when the storm comes, what is your life built on? Are we building our lives on integrity? On reconciling with our brothers and sisters?

On putting into practice the hardest of Jesus's commands? Loving our enemies? Praying as Jesus prayed we could take any one of his singular commands and go, wow. Am I building my life like this? Jesus makes us a promise here and you can trust this promise. Why? Because it's coming from God. If you build your life like this, it's going to go well for you. And so this morning, as we're going to shift to a different passage and we're going to look at some different aspects, I want us to keep this in mind. This isn't about words and this isn't about a great sermon, John. Applause thank you so much. This is about what our lives get built upon. I wasn't supposed to touch the mic and I accidentally did, sorry. What are our lives being built upon? Let's look at another passage. We're going to move to 1 Corinthians three. We have three short points for you. Not like Kevin or Stuart's points. Three short points for you all coming from the same chapter in 1 Corinthians. So, Corinthians, just a couple of books further. It's a letter that Paul wrote to a church that he loved very much, but he had some important things that the Spirit put in his heart and in his pen to write to this church in Corinth because the church in Corinth had some different problems going on.

And so Paul takes it upon himself to write this letter. God's Spirit puts on his heart, you need to write this letter, inspires this letter to be read. Now, I don't know about you guys. I like delivering good news much better than delivering bad news. I like hanging out and building up and encouraging my children more than I like disciplining my children, teaching them, and training them in righteousness. I mean, one, it just feels better at the moment than the other. Just like eating candy feels better than eating the things that we should be eating, whatever that means to you. I know we all have different diets these days, but for the church in Corinth, there were some hard things they needed to hear. And Paul's like, well, the Holy Spirit's like, well, the church has got to hear these things. And this is actually my personal study. Right now. I'm studying all of the letters of the New Testament to understand, okay, like, Jesus came, like the gospel was spread in the Book of Acts. And then you have all these churches all over the place. What did God say to these churches? How did he want to build these churches when they were already at some built state, some building stage?

They've been there ten years, 20 years, 30 years. Okay, these churches are here. What does God want to say to them? Are there any course corrections? What are the themes? What does he want from me? What am I supposed to do in this building process? So I'm using this kind of thought, this kind of lens to study all of the letters. And I started in Corinthians. So the first thing we're going to talk about, we're going to read verses one to ten. And the first thing I'm going to talk about is building with care. Building with care. Let's read together from 1 Corinthians three. We're going to read the first ten verses. It says, brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you are not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You're still worldly. For since there's jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, I follow Paul, and another, I follow Apollos, are you, not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos and what is Paul?

Only servants through whom you came to believe. As the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed. Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are god's Field. God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. The first thing we're going to talk about is building with care. When we look at this passage, Paul addresses one first primary problem in the Corinthians. They're worldly is what he says. Right? But what does he mean by that? If we look more closely at what he says, it becomes very clear that as they look at the church, as they look at one another, as they look at their own lives, they're still looking at it from a worldly perspective. They're still using worldly like those new Apple Vision goggles.

They don't have those. They just have their normal regular goggles they're still looking at the world. Because if you look at someone else and they have a nice car, a nice boat, or they have a job better than yours, and you go, oh, man, can't stand that guy. I wish I were in his position. I deserve that. You're still worldly if you're looking at the church and you're like, man I can't stand the way that Stuart preaches. I wish Josephus would preach more. He's a much better preacher. I like the way he explains stuff. Then you're still worldly because you're looking at the world, your relationships, your job, your life, your family, the church, the preaching. You're still looking at it with worldly goggles and you're interpreting it from a worldly perspective instead of seeing what this is about God. And this is the first most fundamental thing that we have to understand after we already understood it. We're going to put into practice what we learned today, right? But this is the first thing we have to see is, hey if you want to build, you got to be careful how you do it.

You have to build with care. What does that mean, build with care in Italian? It's something that we talk about a lot. Like if you're saying to do something with care, you say concura. But the word for care is similar in English, too, but it's also the word that you would use to take care of your infant care for someone. Right? So when we say be careful, we might hear that as some bad warning or something like that. But in reality, it's the same care that you have as a mother for her baby is the way that Paul is looking at the church and going, hey, guys, be careful. We need to have more care in the way that we're building here, the way the church is going, and the way we're living our lives here. And that's what he's addressing here. And so the difference is one way of living would be just to live according to our motions, live according to whatever the world is telling us at that time, live according to our desires, according to all of the latest psychology or behavioral science that's out there. That stuff has value. It's true to some extent, but there is no God in it, innately.

And so if we're talking about building, the first thing we have to make sure of if we're taking care, if we're caring for our lives, for our families, for our church, as a mother to her child, is that we need to take care that God is the one that's building that we're seeing things from a Godly perspective and not from our own worldly perspective. And this plays out in any number of different ways. But this careful building rings to me in a certain way because I remember the most building I've done, to be honest. I'm not much of a builder. I've never built, like, with my hand built a house or something like that. Some of you guys have. But there was one summer when my parents looked at me and my brother and they said, guys, you're 16 years old. You have your driver's license. You can go out on the road, you can do different things. If you want to borrow the car, that's fine. But what you're going to do is you're going to borrow the car so you can drive to your job, make some money, and you're going to pay for the gas.

And they were teaching us carefully what responsibility looks like to a 16-year-old, which I really appreciate at this point, even though I did not appreciate the 6:30 wake-ups in the middle of the summer between my sophomore and junior year or whatever it was junior and senior year. This was not something I liked at the time. But now, when I look back, the fact that my dad sent me out to work and who did I work for? This guy is named Tim Collete. Some of you guys might know him. Anyone who's been around the church for a long time and knows people from around might know it. He's this big burly guy. He looks like he should play, like, fullback. That's what I think when I see Tim Collete. He's a guy. Not Tim. Brian Collete. Tim is his son. More of you may know his son than Brian, but Brian owned his own business and still owns his own business. And it was a business where they built lockers that would then be installed either in schools, police departments, fire departments, anywhere lockers go, those big tall lockers, someone's got to build them and someone's got to install them.

And Brian is that guy, and he has his own little sweatshop, I mean, a workshop that he runs all summer. And that's where my dad sent us to work for the summer. So we go there, and I remember them teaching us the way to do it and all this. Now, the people that were really experienced in the company were the ones that went and installed these lockers. The ones that had no experience. They never left the workshop sweatshop. They stayed in the workshop all day and listened to whatever Brian's sons put on, usually some kind of Led Zeppelin or something like that going on. And we would just build these lockers all day. And at first, generously, he pays you by the hour. But when you get to a certain point and you figure out how to build the lockers, then you get paid for the number of lockers you build, because you make more money that way. And I was excited about this once I realized, wait a second, if I work hard, I get paid more. I'm going to work super hard. Not only that, I'm going to be the fastest, best locker builder in this whole place because I'm going to work here for two months.

I'm going to get my money's worth. He thinks he's paying me $10. Now he's paying me 20. He's paying me 25. I'm building these lockers. So I start building and building and building. The problem was, I wasn't building carefully. So what ends up happening? After a week or so, Brian goes out to install a locker somewhere. The locker doesn't quite fit right. He starts looking at it, and he starts opening the doors, and he it's put together the wrong way. He looks at the back, and the back is where you sign the name of the person who built the locker. And I also, because I was competing with myself and everyone else in that place was writing the amount of time it took me to build that locker. 34 minutes, a new record I wrote on this locker. So instead of installing that locker that day, Brian has to haul the locker back to the workshop, unload it from the truck, put it down in front of me, and say, John, tell me what's wrong with this locker. And we pour over it, and I realize, oh, I missed the step. Oh, I missed the step.

Oh, I did this. I didn't tighten this enough, something like that. And he says, okay, well, for the rest of the afternoon, you're going to take this apart, you're going to put it back together the right way, and when it's done, you can go back to building lockers, but I'm not paying you to take apart this locker and put it back together. I already paid you for this locker. And so instead of making all this money and just kind of being able to, I don't know, go to Wendy's and buy eight things off the dollar menu, instead, I was sitting there sweating, listening to music I didn't like, uninstalling and taking apart this locker so that I could put it back together and not get paid for it. And it was completely my fault because I was not careful, and I was not building according to the design of that locker. My lack of care in what I was doing then had grave consequences for his company and for me because I wanted money, I wanted to do the job, and instead, I felt completely humiliated at this job. And maybe you guys have had similar things happen to you in your life.

It's one thing if it happens when you're 16 years old at your job, but when you think about the way you're building your family, the way that you're building your spiritual life, the way that you're going about your job, your school, everything that you're doing and the goals that you have and the things that you're excited about, you have to ask yourself the question, am I building with care? Am I keeping a godly perspective? And am I building in a Godly way or not? At this point, Rachel is going to come up and share a few minutes.

Hi, I'm Rachel. So building with care. As Murvy and Mari said, we live in Italy, and I often feel like my heart and my brain and my time and energy are being pulled in 5 million directions when we're there. Being a foreigner means we are constantly needing to do more paperwork and more documents, and learning a new language, even if I'm fluent now. Every time our kid's school sends out a new notice, I'm there with Google Translate trying to figure out what is that random academic word that I've never needed to know before. In Italian, at least. As Mari said, we don't have a car. We bike everywhere. And so something that would be a 15-minute car ride is a 45 minutes bike ride. And if it's raining, then it's okay. Get the kids packed up. Get myself packed up and I show up at the pharmacy or the doctor all disheveled because I'm a mess because I've been biking there, and my brain is trying to focus on, okay, so when I go in what is the name of that medicine? Let me make sure to say it. And then I say something, and everybody's looking at me like, what are you talking about?

And I just feel disheveled and crazy half of the time. Trying to also make sure that our kids still have a great relationship with our whole family who still live here in Boston. We serve in the church in Milan. So trying to make sure we're taking care of the needs of the whole there. There's somebody who's just graduating from college and starting her new job. And then there's somebody who's retiring. And then there's somebody who's breaking up with her boyfriend. And there's somebody who is now just becoming a grandmother. And there's somebody who is losing their father to cancer. And there's somebody else who's losing their husband to cancer. And there are so many needs all over the place. And I can often just feel like, where do I go with my time and energy? And as Mari said, I am an extreme extrovert. And so by nature, I'm like, where are the people? Boom.

I want to be there, but there are people everywhere. And Italians love to talk, and I love to talk, and all I have to do is step outside my door, not even outside my yard, outside my door, and there are three neighbors. And then I've spent 45 minutes talking about I don't even know what because I missed half of the words. And I'm like, what was I supposed to be doing? I don't know what I was supposed to be doing right now. And I realized a couple of years ago that one of the best ways for me to be the mom that I want to be, the wife, the minister, the follower of Jesus, just the person that I want to be in all of this chaos is intentionality. And to build with care and intentionality, I need to be very intentional with how I spend my time, how I spend my energy. I'm learning that when there's a frustrating situation in the country or in my kid's school, everybody starts grumbling and complaining and getting upset about it. And Italians are very emotional, and when they're frustrated, they love to be frustrated and they want to be frustrated.

And I realized everybody's all frustrated, but nobody's actually really listening to each other. And so I can be frustrated, too, but I also, at that moment, can intentionally take a pause and be someone who's listening. And instead of inserting my own angst into the situation, I can listen and be a source of peace and offer compassion to people who are frustrated. And it's amazing how when a bunch of people are frustrated, if you come in if I come in and I'm like, oh, my gosh, me too, then everybody is boo boo, boo, boo. But if instead I'm like, wow, man, that is really hard. It sounds like you're really stressed. I'm so sorry that you're so stressed. People are like, yeah, I am. And it's a whole different kind of conversation, I realized, asking people how they're doing. Again, Italians love to talk. And so ask them how they're doing during school pickup, and really mean it when I say, how are you doing? And they'll tell me how they're doing. So I now set aside 2 hours after I pick up my kids from school, when I don't have anything else planned, and I am ready in case somebody wants to talk.

And somebody always wants to talk, and sometimes it's just chatting, but when I do that enough. Somebody says, oh, it's a tough day. And I'm like, oh, tell me about it. And then you start hearing people's life, and you hear their pain and you hear their stories. You find out that their father is in the hospital. You find out that one of our daughter's friends was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. And this mother is terrified of losing her daughter every time she gets a fever because it's very dangerous. And so when I set aside the time to sit and listen, then I find myself in these conversations where I'm just weeping with somebody as we talk about what they're going through. And that's a moment when then they want me to pray with them. They know why I'm there. They know I'm a minister. And so they ask me to pray with them. They ask me to share scriptures with them because now they're open and they need they have needs. And I'm in a position where I can help meet those needs because I was very intentional with how I chose to spend my time.

When the war broke out in Ukraine, we were like, what can we do? We're near proximity-wise. We're closer than the States. What can we do? And so we set up our basement, our finished basement, to maximize our ability to host families and then just let people know we have space. And people started coming. Lots of people started coming. And so we talked to our church, and we talked to the families in our kid's school, and we got people to bring meals, and we got people to bring linens. And I started doing freezer meals so that I would be ready if somebody came last minute, which they did, I would be ready and then again, set aside time. And I just sat there and I just listened to people and cried with people. People who left their homes and their families are just weeping. And they just need a safe place to mourn the loss that they're going through. But I had to calm the quiet and crazy in my life intentionally so that I could care for those people at that moment. We're also intentionally trying to care for our kids, raise our kids, teach our kids every day, teaching them scriptures, teaching them songs, praying with them, and repeating mantras.

You're beautiful. You're amazing. God loves you. God loves me. God made you wonderful. God makes me wonderful. God makes you smart, beautiful, and kind. And I go through these things every day with them. But as a mom, you really never know what's actually sinking in, because they're like, yeah, God, make me okay, bye. And then they're off playing you never know if are they actually getting it. But we're trying to be intentional. And so I keep doing it. And one of our campus girls was at our house one day, and she made a comment about herself, oh, I'm so ugly today. And my daughter whips her head around and goes, you are not ugly. God made you beautiful. God did not make you ugly. We do not call ourselves ugly in this house. And I was like, oh, it's working. Okay, so great. And then she came home from school a couple of days later, and told me, you know, Mommy, my friend Claudia said, Rory, Pueba la dime. Rory, I'm so ugly. You're so much more beautiful than me. And I told her, Mommy, no, God makes you beautiful. You are not ugly. God makes you beautiful.

And I was thinking and realizing just the day before, I had been sitting with this mom, the mom of this daughter, and she was talking about how terrible she feels about herself, about how ugly she feels like she is, about how insecure she is, all these things. And the way she was saying it, I could tell. And her daughter was in earshot. Her daughter hears these things about her. She's not saying them about her daughter, she's saying them about herself, but in the earshot of her daughter. And I was struck with realizing, wow, no matter what I think I'm doing, I'm always building with my kids, with the people around me. I'm always building something. And I want to build what I'm building intentionally. I want to choose what I'm building. If I'm going to be building something, I want to be careful and intentional about it. And then a few weeks later, my daughter's teachers told me, you know, there's this weird thing happening now. We think Rory started it. Her and all her friends. Now they just keep chanting, diomiea fatobello, diotia fatobello tusebella yosurobella. God makes me beautiful. God makes you beautiful. I'm beautiful.

You're beautiful. And they've all been saying this in both languages, which, if you can just imagine little Italian kids, I've heard them a few times, god makes me beautiful. And it's just you just could melt. And I just realized that everything that I'm doing, I need to do with care and intentionality, because it builds not only in my kids but also in the people around me. And so I really want to build carefully and intentionally. Thank you for letting me share.

Let's get back to God's word. We're going to pick up in verse eleven, we're going to talk about building with cost. It says in verse eleven of 1 Corinthians 3 if you're still with us. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one. Escaping through the flames, that's less encouraging. Paul is just laying out the reality of the building. He's just laying it out for them. Hey, listen, there's a lot of different ways to build. The foundation is Jesus, and on that foundation, you're going to pay a price to build the spiritual character that you need to stand up for the convictions that you have in God's word, to live a life worthy of his kingdom.

There are prices that are paid, prices of time, money, job sacrifices, and lots of different prices that are paid to really build in this way. And of course, he's talking about, like, building in the church and building the church in God's kingdom and all of that. But we can think about what we know about building. The way building projects typically go, especially here in the United States, is that there's a job that needs to be done, and the companies come in and they bid for that job, and the company that bids the lowest gets the job. The one who can charge the least is the one that is chosen to do the big dig or build that bridge or build that road. That's amazing in a way, and it's also amazingly stupid in another way. But that's not how everything has been built. If you look at this picture right here, this is a picture of the main church. It's called the Duomo. But Duomo just means church. There's a Duomo in almost every city. Next time you talk to someone about Italy, you can drop that fact and they'll be like, oh, wow.

You know what you're talking about. Duomo is this type of church. It just means a big church. And this church right here is one of the most amazing buildings that's ever been built in all the world. It's, like, way up on all the lists. It took nearly 600 years to finish this work. What you see there is a result of centuries of churches being built and burning down because they were made out of wood. Again and again, these buildings would fall, they would be lit on fire, and they would be gone. And so in, like, the 13 hundreds or so, 14 hundreds, they go, you know what? This is dumb. Why do we keep building these churches like this? Let's build different. And so they do. And what they choose to build this from is from Marble. This entire thing. And I can't even describe to you how ornate it is. You just have to come to Milan, come to visit us at church and go, See, this is a ten-minute walk from where we have church on Sunday. You walk here, you go look at this church, and you go, wow, this is incredible.

Centuries and centuries. I mean, I think about, like, whoever the marble workers are or whoever the steel workers back then, that was the family business, right? How many generations of Giuseppe Danton or whatever worked on this? I mean, you're talking like you and then your child, your children's children, your children's children's children. I mean, down how many generations is 600 years? Somebody smarter than me can figure that out real quick. I mean, it's like 20 generations or something. It's unreal. The marble was the problem. They had to get the marble, which they found up near the lakes, like up in the lake regions, which is the north in the mountains. That's where the marble came from. So they would cut the marble out of the mountains and then they got to get the marble all the way to the city. And there are no big trucks or anything to do this. So what did they do? Well, there's a big river, I was about to say Fume. There's a big river that goes called the Dada and it goes right through from the lake all the way down. So you can follow this network of rivers but then at a certain point you're talking about 50, 60 km from Milan, no more river.

So what do they decide to do? They decide to build a canal structure. And this is the canal that I bike along almost every day, called the Martezana. They build a canal structure for trading goods. But then when they want to bring the marble, they go, oh wow, this marble is super heavy. We're probably not going to be able to go up and downstream the way we want to. We got to figure out some way to bring this marble uphill on water. That's kind of difficult, right? So they hire a consultant. I listened to your sermon from last week, Stuart, about the consultants in Silicon Valley and following their advice, still good advice, go back and listen to that sermon on YouTube. But they get a consultant, his name is Leonardo DA Vinci. Not joking. They consult with Leonardo and he designs a lock system to be able to move this marble uphill on water and get it down this canal. And those canals are still being used to this day. I mean, they had to build a river just so that they could get the marble there. But that's not the way we build anymore.

We can barely build a road. My parents have had potholes along their road and my dad is the kind of guy that calls the guy who's in charge of the potholes and then calls their boss, and then calls their boss and he's working his way up through all the town and state politics to try to find out who's in charge. And eventually, he'll find them and he'll become his best friend and then he'll have every pothole. So if you want, you can call my dad about potholes. He's figuring it out. I trust him. He's figuring it out. But why? Because the way we build stuff today is about what it looks like today and tomorrow and who can we impress? If I want to be a great chef, I can just hop open TikTok, find a TikTok recipe, screenshot a few things and I'm at it. Forget going to school, forget learning from my parents, forget family recipes. You can just, hey look, I can make pizza now instead of going to the old Italian men in Napoli that have had like, eight generations of pizzaioli. That's just all they do is make pizza for their whole life.

We ignore all of the wisdom of God that has been passed down through spiritual people, and instead, we allow the world to penetrate our thinking. Instead of building something like this, we're more apt just to build the fastest, quickest structure that we can build so that it can look good to everyone else. But in this type of building, what happens? It's the same thing that happened in Matthew, chapter seven, when Jesus says, when the storm comes, the house falls down. Because we were foolish. So let's not build that way, but let's find the precious stones, the word of God, and convictions that come from it, the advice and help and training of spiritual people around us. Not a random pastor in Milan that you don't know. Don't come to me for how to help your family. That's not a good idea. Wow, Rachel, that was amazing what you shared. Can you become, like, my family counselor? No. You don't know us. You've never been in your home. She could have said anything. And because she said it with an Italian accent, that was amazing. Who are the parents right here in this room that you respect the most?

Those are the people that you need. Those are the costly stones, and they're going to tell you things you don't want to hear. One of the reasons why your kid's kind of all over the place is maybe because you're kind of all over the oh, that's not what TikTok said. That's not what my Instagram reel said. My Instagram reel says you're doing great if you're a mom, I'm all for assurances and getting help, but that's not real help. That is just something that's meant to get as many clicks as possible so that person can live off your likes. That's the whole game, right? We got to come to a finish here. And I refuse to get off the stage until we read the last four verses, so we need to do that. It says in verse 16, says, don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he's wise by the standards of this age, he should become a fool so that he may become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, he catches the wise in their craftiness. And again, the Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile. So then no more boasting about men. All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future are all yours. And you are of Christ. And Christ is of God. This is like where the whole veil is, like, peeled back, and he's like, don't deceive yourselves. And it can sometimes feel good to deceive ourselves. The last thing I'm talking about is building with caution, don't deceive yourself. We live in this world where if you have an opinion, you can find a whole community of people that agree with that opinion and will give you all the reasons you should have that opinion and give you all the reasons you shouldn't accept the opinion of anybody else about what it is you're talking about, whether you're talking about pizza, parenting, sex, identity politics, anything you can find some random group that will fully agree with you. And then you feel, oh, wow, this person gets me.

They understand me. We understand each other, but all we do in those cases is just allow ourselves to be completely influenced by the world. So the question in those moments is not what does TikTok say to me? And I know I'm speaking to a particular segment of people right now, but this is a growing and important segment. The question is, what does God think of this? What does he think of me? What does he think of how I'm going about my day? And we need to hear what Caleb said earlier. God loves you. I guarantee god loves you. Infinite time. More infinite times more than the person on TikTok telling you you're doing great. Ignore everybody else. That person doesn't love you. That person doesn't know you. God knit you together in your mother's womb. He made you beautiful. He gave you value. He sent his son to die on the cross for your sins. He raised from the dead so that you could be redeemed and reconciled, so that you could be brought in as a son or daughter with this relationship of sonship, this adoption, this abba. Father, if you don't know what I'm talking about, please read Romans seven.

Read the whole thing. Read it four times. Get someone else to help you understand it, because it's something that needs to be fully embraced amongst us. But be careful how you build, because there is great danger going on all around us. You guys have probably heard about some of this artificial intelligence stuff, right? Chat, GPT. I said it right that time. I didn't mess it up. Dolly is the one that does the pictures. You can type. Oh, I want this picture in this way. The self-driving cars. It's funny, the self-driving car thing is really interesting to me because we've already figured out more or less how to make cars drive more safely than us. That's pretty actually easy to do because we don't drive very safely. Newsflash. I mean, we drove here from my parent's house 40 minutes away. I saw at least five potential accidents. I mean, it's happening all the time, so it's not that crazy that a car can figure out how to drive better than we can. The problem with the AI is not that. The problem is this, we as people, don't like when the AI drives more safely than we do.

We want to get there fast, so the AI can make us drive there fast, but then we don't feel safe. So what do we do? We engage. They do these big projects with all of these AI companies, tesla is one of them, where they're trying to figure out this self-driving car thing. And the first thing they had to figure out is what is the feedback. What are we trying to optimize? Are we trying to make the safest car possible? They tried that, but it didn't work. People didn't like it. Are we trying to make it fast? That's a really bad idea. So what are we optimizing for? And what they figured out is, what they're optimizing for is the least amount of users taking control of the wheel. If the user isn't taking control of the wheel, it means they're happy with the way it's driving. So every time the user takes control of the wheel, that for them is negative feedback. And they try to figure out, oh, why did they take control? Did they not feel safe? Was it not moving fast enough? Did it drive in a way that's not human? Basically what we want as humans is someone to drive the exact way that we drive.

We just don't want to have to do it. Did you know that Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, be real of them? Their main goal, the thing that they're trying to do is they're trying to get you to stay on as long as possible. The entire thing is optimized to just try to keep you on. So anytime someone logs off, they try to figure out, what did we do wrong. They want to waste your time. They're trying to give you as much pleasure as possible through the screen in whatever random assortment of videos and pictures they can come up with. And it's working. They had to put limits. If you're under 18 in China, you have to have a unique ID to be able to play video games. And after 2 hours, no matter what game you play, it shuts off and you can't play anymore. Because people, these kids were wasting away because they were just playing video games all day and could not stop. This is the world that we live in. It's optimized to make us happy, to drive the way we want. I mean, this is what's going on. If you want to know what worldly perspective it is, it's telling you you're awesome, you're amazing, don't change a thing.

Anyone who disagrees with you is completely wrong. Now pick up the bible and read three chapters and tell me, did something you read disagree with an opinion that you held before you started reading it? It happens to me every single day. So if the Bible were an AI, it would have been rejected long ago. If it were a social network, it never would have worked. If it were a business, it would never work. We as a world are moving away from God. And so who will be those that build their lives on the rock? I want to finish by sharing about don't put the picture up yet. I want to finish by sharing about a man named Nick Weller, I wish his name were like Nicolo, but it's not, because of his dad's English. So his dad's English, but he grew up in Italy, he's Italian, for all intents and purposes. He just has an English name, a British name. But Nick is someone who came to church. The first time he came to church was the year that Rachel and I came to Milan. He actually got there before us early that year. That was nine years ago.

Nick started coming to church, and he liked church. He would stick around for a few years, and then Nick would start studying the Bible and you'd start talking to him about his life. And he went through a lot, and he had a lot of different things going on. But the moment it started getting intense, Nick, are you willing to build your life on these truths? Nick would disappear, and sometimes he'd be gone six months or, like, a year or two years, and then he'd show up again, and then we'd start doing the whole dance again. And this happened a few different times throughout these nine years until last year or the beginning of this year. Nick came back and he looked me in the eye and he said, John, I'm ready. This time I was like, what do you mean, Nick? And he's like, I've tried to build my life my way. In the past, you've tried to help me, but I wasn't ready to do it God's way. I still wanted to do it my way, and that's why I disappeared. But this time I want to do it differently. And so we study the Bible, and this is someone where we've already done all these studies before.

So it's not typical Bible studies that we're doing. We're talking about him. We're, like, laying out this is what Jesus said. Are you willing to do this? Like, teaching by teaching, verse by verse? And Nick, to his credit, would often answer me and go, I don't know yet. I don't want to just say yes, because that's what I've done in the past. Let me go home, and next week we can talk about this again. And so, painstakingly slow, we studied the Bible with Nick, and he continued to wrestle in his heart with, what does God say about how I should build my life? Murvy came over to Milan and he was in one of these Bible studies where we talked about at the end of the day, you cannot know for 100% certain whether the decision you're making to get baptized and become a disciple of Jesus is the correct one and all of the different things. At some point, it is a question of faith. If God has not demonstrated Himself faithfully to you, then you shouldn't make the decision. But if you've seen in your life that every time you do things God's way, things go well for you and things go the way that they should go in your life, then you need to make the plunge.

But it's on you, bro. Time to step out of the boat. That's the study that we oh, Murvy's back here waiting for me to stop so he can come to sing a song or something. But this is the conversation we had with him. Murvy and the crew left, and that next week. Nick comes back around, and he goes, I'm ready to step out of the boat. He actually calls me from Switzerland. He's up there with his family and says, hey, John, I realized I need to get baptized. I don't think I should wait a second. Will you come to Switzerland, and we can baptize me today or tomorrow? I said I love that. I love your heart. Please come back to Milan, and we'll baptize you here. First possible opportunity. We've waited nine years for you. You can't go somewhere else and get baptized. You got to come back here. He said, okay, yeah, you're right. You're right. You're right. And even that was actually the moment that I knew Nick was ready because, in the past, Nick would have done his own thing. He would have got baptized. He would have come back. He would have shown me a picture.

Look, John, I got baptized. This time. Nick said, no, I don't trust myself. I trust you, because you're a man of God, and I need your help. So if you tell me that this is better, then it is better. And this is a picture from his baptism. That's Nick Weller in the middle. That's Tristan Sleeper, who many of you guys know, and that's Nick's sister and mom in the middle there. And the incredible news with this picture is not just Nick, but now his little sister has started studying the Bible, and his mother's really interested in church. This all happened because Nick started to really understand that he can't continue to pretend, and he can't continue to build his life the way he wants to, but he decided to start building his life on the rock. His life has completely changed. He is a full-hearted disciple of Jesus and your brother in Christ today because of these decisions, and I want to leave you with this. I don't know where you're at with your walk from God, but if you're anywhere close to where Nick has been over the last nine years, I'm imploring you right now on Christ's behalf, to be reconciled to God hand over the autopilot. Let him drive and he will never steer you wrong. Amen.


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