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The Truth Behind the Vision

John 1:14

by Mike Van Auken and Valdur Koha

December 4, 2022

Obrigado por conferir este sermão. Se você se comove com o que ouve e está na área de Boston, considere visitar pessoalmente!

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It's good to be together this morning for a teaching day and the joke I make if a preacher brings a banana, you ought to be concerned, because that may be an indication that he's going long. However, that's not the point. And you'll find out in a moment why I brought a banana with me this morning. But it is good to be together for a teaching day. And a good brother friend of mine said a few days ago, why is it called Teaching day? It should be called Learning Day. And he's making a good point. There is no teaching if there is no learning. And so I want you all to have a learner's spirit. Put on your learner's hat, take out your notepad or your iPad or whatever you want to use. And on a serious side, let the Holy Spirit teach you. It is my prayer that what you are hearing here from myself, from Janice, from Mike, from Mari, will be communicating. What God wants you to hear. Will be from the Holy Spirit. And so let's pray for that together.

Father, we come together before you this morning. Father. We worship you. We honor you, Father. We recognize you as the true God. And we pray, Father, that our worship here together would be first and foremost pleasing to you, that it would be a sacrifice worthy of you as our Father and our King. And be with us, Father. Be with us to hear Your voice this morning loud and clearly, and have the determination, Father, to walk away and decide, Father, how we want to change our lives. We thank you and we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Hear His Voice

All right, so let me see if my clicker works. Kind of, kind of not. All right. Okay. It does. As Stewart said, the truth behind the vision, the truth behind our vision that we all heard on October 9. And I want to encourage you to go back. It's recorded on the website. Listen to it again. But the teachers, together with the evangelist and the elders start it would be a good idea to focus with the teaching day on the vision that was presented. We want that whatever is our vision, whatever is our strategy, we want it to be based on God's world. We want to make sure that whatever we do is based on the Bible.

And so hearing his voice, proclaiming his name and allowing Him to guide us in writing the future is what is important to us. And I want to begin by talking about hear his voice. And then Mike will talk about proclaim his name and write the future. Hear his voice is incredibly important. And if you don't hear his voice, we cannot proclaim his name. If you don't hear his voice, we shouldn't even try to write the future. And I want to say that, I want to express the fact that I'm very, very grateful for the Boston Church. I'm very, very grateful for God that he picked me and Irene my wife in 1985, kind of out of 80 million Germans to come to Boston, what seemed to be a job transfer, and then to have a sister invite Irene to a Bible discussion group. Irene and I were atheists, agnostics, worldly prideful Germans. And we came here not for a job. We came here to become Christians. In my family that you see on this picture, it is actually incomplete because you see 20 people on the picture. But we are in the meantime, 21.

We have eight grandchildren, and not only seven, but my family, all my six children became Christians here in the Boston Church. And I'm deeply, deeply grateful for that. Amen. I always say the Boston Church is not a perfect church, and I know that very well. I function as a teacher here and as an elder. We have lots of problems. Part of these problems I created. But it is a great church. It's a church that allowed us, Irene and me, to become Christians and to learn how to live a Christian life and allow us to help our children to do the same thing. And I'm deeply grateful. But I'm also a bit concerned because those grandchildren on this picture, I want them to have the church that we had. I want them to hear God's word and God's voice in the church. And I'm concerned that we are actually not as good anymore hearing God's voice as we should be. We are not good, I would say, to hear God's voice. And to repeat what Larry Reid said on October 9 our Bibles are not open. They are not open as much as they should be. We are not praying as much as we should be. We are not listening to God as much as we should. And many of us, to use Larry's words, are Sunday only disciples. And if that is true, then my grandchildren will not find the church that they need. They will not find the church that Irene and I had that will help them to become the disciples that I want them to become. Because a consequence of this problem is that. We have lost our concept of truth. Many of us are chasing the lives of the world instead of immersing ourselves in God's truth. And it's a vicious cycle. The more you allow the world to teach you, the more you fail. You lose the ability to hear God and to understand what truth is. And I want to begin by the basic question of what is truth in its most basic sense. And I brought a banana here because I want to ask you the question, is it true that this is a banana? Is there anybody in this room who says, well, this is a banana for you, but for me it's an apple? Please raise your hand. We have a doctor in the church and he will help you guide you where you need to go to recover. It's ridiculous. This is a banana. Right? I even have a picture of the banana on a slide if it works. Here we go. All right. Where's the banana? This is a banana. I look at it. Why do I think this is a banana? It has the color of a banana. I can see it, right? It has the form of a banana. It's not round like an apple. It has clearly the form of the banana. If I open it, it smells like a banana. It must be a banana. I can peel it and let me see. Yeah, this is a banana. It looks like a banana. It smells like a banana. It tastes like a banana. It's a banana. And that's absolutely it is a banana. There is no discussion. And you are a fool if you think this is anything else but a banana.

Why do I say that? Because the way we deal with the truth can be as silly as saying, this is not a banana. Because the truth, in its most basic sense, is reality. The truth is a description of reality. And of course, it is the scene, the reality that we can experience with our senses. But of course, it includes the unseen reality. Think about it. I will say often, think about it. Because I want all of us to learn to think better. At the age of 67 years, I have flawed thinking going on. I can learn to think better. You all I know for a fact, because you are human beings like I am, can learn to think better.

So a big piece of this morning's teaching is simply about thinking better. So think about it. What is reality for you?

I cannot see gravity. But if I throw one of my grandchildren out of the window and expect anything else to happen but them getting hurt, I'm a fool. The truth of an unseen reality is as much truth as the reality that we see. The problem is when we don't get the truth right, we live in a fantasy world. We live in a world that is not real, that makes us feel comfortable maybe. It may look true to us, but it is not.

And so I want to begin with the most basic statement that there is, which is, God is truth. Right? When Jesus was standing before Pilate. He said to Pilate when Pilate said, Are you a king? "Jesus said, you say that I'm a king? In fact, Jesus said, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth." And then he said, Everyone on the side of truth, listens to me. He said to Pilate what is Pilate's response? What is truth? That is your truth. You are claiming you are a king. You think you know the truth. My truth looks different than yours. I'm not a Jew. The interesting thing was the truth was standing in front of Pilate. And Pilate said, what is truth? The truth he did not know. The truth did not command Pilate's judgment. Pilate's question is inescapable. And non question is more fundamental than the question, what is truth? And God is truth. It's true that this clicker is not perfect.

"The world became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory and the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth." John 1:14. John 1:17. "For the law that's given to Moses grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
God Is Truth
"And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The spirit of truth. Jesus witnessed to the truth. The spirit is the spirit of truth." Our Father in heaven is truth. "But when that spirit but when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."

Can we hear the Spirit within us? We have the truth sitting within us. When we talked about the Spirit, the Holy Spirit one of the questions I raised was is the Holy Spirit who lives within you? If you are a disciple this morning, no matter how you're doing, he lives within you. Do you hear the Spirit within you? Or does he live in the basement somewhere down there where you cannot hear him?

"This is the one who came by water and blood. Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies. Because the spirit is truth."

God is truth. This is basic. This is simple. This is straightforward. It's unbelievably profound. Meditate on that question. God is truth. That means you say you love God. Means you love the truth. Loving the truth means to be truthful, right? That means you love true sayings. You love, if somebody says the truth, you hate lies. And I have to say, often in my life I actually manipulate the truth to make it fit my personal needs. And that's flat lying. That is not saying the truth.

What's the nature of truth? Number one, truth is singular. There are not many truths. There's not Vardo's truth and Joe's truth and Irene's truth. There is only one truth. The only person who has the right to say my truth is God. God is truth and it is singular. Truth is absolute. Truth has nothing to do with what I believe. I cannot believe something to become true. I can believe the truth, but I cannot make something the truth that is not. Truth is absolute. It is the same anywhere at any point in time. Truth is the matching up of a concept with reality. When you think truth, you need to think reality. Because God created truth for you and me to understand reality better. If you and I don't understand reality, which is the truth then we fail to live the lives that we should live.

Truth is the intrinsic divine reality. Everything that has to do with reality is truth. That's why it's called God is Truth. Everything in the unseen and seen world that has to do with reality is truth. And you know it's simple and it's straightforward. But truth is singular, truth is absolute and truth is the intrinsic divine reality.

I want to give you three calls to action today. We are coming to the first one. You got to go away. Please go away. Putting these three calls into practice. The first call is to pray. Pray to God for wisdom discerning the truth. Because you and I and I'll talk about that in a moment are attempted, are not even realizing at times that what we believe is not the truth. The first thing goes to God. God, you are truth. Help me discern your truth. Like it says in James 1:5-7 pray for wisdom. Pray for wisdom. And as James says, believe it. Because if you believe it, God will answer that prayer. The problem we have, you and I, is that we are often deceived. We are living in a world of lies and that's a fact. Because this world is governed by the prince of this world who is the evil one.

If you are a visitor this morning, we believe in God, we believe in Jesus. That automatically means we have to believe that there is an evil one, even if we don't want to believe that or if we don't see that there is an evil one. And the evil one is just the opposite of God. The evil one is the father of lies. He's also a father like God is a father. But the evil one is the father of lies. The evil one wants to deceive and he lies. And he sits next to you and he will have a voice if you let him speak to you. And he often speaks through the world. God's truth always has been and God's truth still is under attack. And the world's deception, I call it the world's deception of what we call the world, the deception is very powerful and Paul knew that already back then. In Romans 1:21, he wrote:

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. But they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were dark and claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal men and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them over. God gave them up in the lust of their hearts to impurity, to dishonoring of their bodies among themselves because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worship and served created things rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen."

We are all surrounded and influenced by a deceived world. You and I are surrounded and influenced by a deceived world. Well, you may say Valdo are we not living in a Christian nation here in the US? Are not most people around US. Christians and have the same worldview that we have?

Just very quickly, a few statistics on that. My clicker is not my friend this morning. All right? 65% of Americans claim to be Christians. Now, what does that mean? You have to ask the question, how many of them have a Biblical worldview? And there's a little list of a worldview, of a biblical worldview. We don't need to dwell on it, but it's kind of a reasonable description of what a Biblical worldview looks like. Bama. I'm quoting here from Bama and Pew research. Those are two really established and solid research organizations. And the fact is, based on them, that only 17% of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly hold to a biblical world view. 17% of the Christian. And that basically means that those two organizations estimate that 6% to 29% of Americans have a Biblical worldview. Those with a Biblical worldview are a small minority among Christians. Right? That's even among Christians, leave alone among Americans. That means there are worldviews out there that are non biblical, that are very strong. And one way to describe them is secularism. secularism is a world view. I'll come back to that. Of course, atheism is a worldview. And I would also submit to you that everyone has a worldview. A worldview is your understanding of reality. A worldview is what shapes your thinking, consciously or unconsciously. Everybody has a worldview. You have a worldview. The question is, where does that worldview come from? The question is how do you shape your worldview? Your worldview determines how you decide what's good and bad. Your worldview has to do with what you decide to do. A worldview is your or my understanding how things look like. A worldview is a way of seeing all reality. And secularism is one of the strongest, it actually is the strongest worldview we are exposed to in the US here in America.

One of the most defining parts of secularism is that the tie that functionally binds the world views of millions of people together is the authority of the self rather than the authority of any given religion and its gods. That's secularism. So when you remove the authority of a religion, you are left with the authority of the self. And we are all surrounded and influenced by this incredibly powerful worldview of secularism. Right? Secularism doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. If you again you look at statistics, you can see that a lot of Americans have a very spiritual perspective on life, but it's a secular view of God. There is not a lack of spirituality in Americans, but the vast majority don't view the Bible or any other holy book as authoritative in their lives. Right? Secularism can readily accommodate a generic God who requires nothing. But it cannot accommodate a specific God who requires everything. Any God that may exist has not given us any kind of reliable, binding revelation. If he exists, he remains comfortably in a distance, content to lead us to the authority of ourselves. That is secularism.

Why is secularism so powerful? Why is secularism so influential? The major reason secularism is so influential is that it appeals directly to the desires of our fallen nature. It reinforces the desired authority of the self. This is really important to understand and to think about, because it creeps into our own thinking, as I said before. And how does secularism achieve that? There are four elements of secularism, and you and I are tempted to think like that. Four elements that are absolutely foundational to a secularist worldview. Number one, feelings are the ultimate guide. Number two, happiness is the ultimate goal. Number three, judging is the ultimate sin. Number four, god is the ultimate guess. That's what a secularist view has. And you and I are tempted to take some of this stuff into our worldview, and we must not do that. But it's worse than that. Secularism has a very aggressive perspective on committed religious people. Blind leaps that religious people take are inevitably harmful to the rest of society. That's a secularist perspective. So it is in the best interest of the world to eradicate the superstition of religion all together. Confidence in the truth of any specific religious worldview is unfounded, the secularist would say.

And why is this worldview so attractive? Because we all share a nature that desires self-rule. See, the authority is the problem. The authority of any religion is the problem for a secularist. Not what you think, not what you feel, not what you like to do, but that there is an authority in your life that hello may extend to their lives as well. And that's why there is an aggressive stand against any religion that has authority as part of what it teaches.

Secular messages are influential in large part because they speak to what we want to hear. And do not say, that's not me. It's like commercials, like watching commercials and say, I'm not influenced by it. Then you go to the refrigerator and pull that Coke out of the refrigerator because you just saw something. Don't do that. You are exposed to this, and you and I are influenced by this. And that's my call to action. Number two think about your thinking. Identify in your thinking patterns that are informed by the world rather than by God. Discuss it honestly with a brother. If you have no clue that you may have secularist thinking in your brain, go to a brother or sister and say, do you think I have secularist thinking in my brain? Do you think that's part of my worldview? And then, if he or she knows you well, let him or her tell you what you should do, because Paul said in Romans twelve, verse two, that we should always change the way we think. We should always think about not to think like the world, but to renew, that's his words, to renew our thinking so that we get away from the patterns of thinking of this world. Right? That's a word spoken or written to disciples. It's written to you and me.

Now, where does that leave us? God is truth. The world's deception is very powerful. It brings me to point number three, which is the Scripture is the source of all truth because God is truth. And if you and I believe that his world is his revelation, then it is the source of all truth. And just very quickly, the Bible has five attributes, five characteristics that you got to begin with that you got to look at the Bible as what it is and really treat it as that. I have lots of books. I just moved, and Irene knows the many books that I have in my library were a major effort to bring them from one house to another. There is one book that is totally different than any other book. As much as I love books, as much as I love to read books, there's one book that is absolutely different, and that is God's word.

God's word has five attributes

The authority of God's word basically says that all words in Scripture are God's words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. Think about that. Inerrancy of Scripture means that the Bible always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. The Bible doesn't talk about everything, but what it does talk about is true. The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it, seeking God's help and being willing to follow it. Think about that. A scholar who pontificates very intelligently about the Bible but is not willing to follow the Bible, will not understand the Bible.

The necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the Gospel, for maintaining a spiritual life, and for knowing God's will. It's not necessary to understand that God exists. That's what Paul says in Romans, verse one. But the Bible is essential to live the life of a disciple. Then the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly.

Right? And the question so did the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn't have the New Testament. Did they have a Bible that was fulfilling the sufficiency argument or the sufficiency criteria? And the answer is yes. At that moment, Jesus said to them, you are so foolish. You haven't immersed yourself enough in the Bible to understand what is going on. It was always the challenge that people would take God's word seriously.

And you know, this really means that we actually indeed can hear God. You and I can hear God walk away with nothing but that. You and I can hear God. I find that incredibly inspiring, incredibly encouraging, incredibly comforting. But I need to open my brain. I need to open my thinking to the Bible. I need to immersing myself in the Bible. Immersing means I let my thinking be shaped by the Bible. I know the Bible well. I know all the books of the Bible. I know it well. I read the Bible spiritually. And just a quick comment here. When I say read, some of us prefer to listen to God's word. That is perfectly fine. There's no question if you should have to read or not read. However the principles apply. You gotta hear. You got to read God's word, spiritually. God, show me what you want me to see in this word. God, help me to understand you. Take it home. Maybe you talk to a brother and sister. You try to find the spiritual truth behind what you're reading. You expect a spiritual truth to be coming out of it. You can't do that by picking a verse once a day for two minutes. You have to read. Read, listen, listen, read God's word. Immerse yourself in God's world. Not two minutes, not five minutes. Turn your TV off, turn your Netflix off, go to your Bible, read it, immerse. You want to hear God? Read the Bible, listen to the Bible.

You know, Bible study is hard work. Any students know that it doesn't come easily, right? It means you have to put an effort into it. It really means you have to expect that it is hard work. And yes, there are days where we are tired. Yes, there are days where it's not so. If you do it every day, it's not a big problem if you have a day where you are just tired or overwhelmed or whatever. But if you do it consistently, then you will be immersing yourself in God's world.

You know, the half truth is that Bible reading is hard work and it's boring. The first part is true. The second part is not true. It is boring because we are not really going after it the way we should. Fall in love with God's word again. Enjoy it, see what it says. I have read the Gospel of John in the last weeks, maybe six or seven times, and I'm fascinated by it. The more I read it and I've been a Christian for a long time, and the contempt for the familiar is something I have to struggle with at times. But reading it in a different translation, reading it with a new eye.

"In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God." You can just sit there and marvel at that sentence. That's an incredible sentence. That's a stunning sentence. That should be poetry at its best. That should be literal, but at its best, that is the most fascinating sentence I have ever, ever read in my life. And you know what? In 1985, when I began to study the Bible, the Book of John was what caught my attention. I thought this is fascinating. I have no idea what it says. I have no idea what this first sentence says. It's really hard, but this is fascinating. And develop this love for God's word.

And then Richard Foster, in his Spiritual Discipline book, he said, the four things in Bible reading that are important is repetition, concentration, comprehension and reflection. Do it well, what you are doing. Don't do it lightheartedly. It's not a Netflix movie. It's God's word. You have access to God's word. We don't worship God's Word, but we worship a God who has revealed himself through his word. Repetition, right? You have to reread things again and again. You have to memorize things, right?

Memorize God's word. What a beautiful way to immerse yourself. When you memorize things, you have to build bridges and you forget. Oh, I forgot again. The whole process of memorizing is fantastically immersing you in God's work even if you don't remember it. The problem is not that you have to go to an exam and demonstrate that you have memorized 25 lines in God's Word. It's the immersing, it's the thinking, it's the wrestling with it. Concentration. You have to be undistracted. You have to stop being distracted when you read God's Word. You have an audience with God. You are sitting there with God's revelation. What in the world are you interested to text you? What in the world are you interested what's going on in the Internet? Who cares if the patriots are ahead or behind? You have God's Word in front of you. Don't get distracted by anything else.

And then you have to comprehend it. You have to understand and you have to be careful to read it well. And we don't have time to talk about Bible interpretation. But secularism creeps also into Bible interpretation. It's called progressive theology. Be careful to interpret the Bible well. Don't let your secularist tendencies be part of your interpretation. Read it well and comprehend it well and then reflect it. Don't walk away from Bible studies without the desire to reflect. I got to think about this. What does this mean for me personally? What am I going to do with it?

And I'll let Geneive Rankle share here for a moment. Genieve, She's a Bible student. She's a disciple for 34 years. She was converted in 1988 in the Harvard ministry. She has degrees from Yale and from Harvard. She's a smart person. She's a very smart person. She was part of the New York church daytime ministry, she was a professional dancer. She's married for 16 years now to Steve Rankle, and they have two teenage daughters, 13 and 15. She's a director of financial aid at Buckingham, Brown and Nichols. She's a very accomplished person. She's also a student of God's word. I'll let Genieve share.

Genieve Rankel

Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity just to share something that's so deeply personal. Most of everything I can't see and have my glasses on because I'm at a certain age, right? So just bear with me, okay? I'm going to be mostly in 1 Corinthians, chapter one. Verse 19, it says:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."

I remember being a junior at Yale when I was 19 years old, and I was looking at my bookshelf. I was a philosophy major with a concentration in mathematics and French, and my bookshelf had Heidegger and Kant and Hume and Descartes and all those German philosophers. And then I held my Bible and I said, seriously, every single answer, everything they pondered, argued, discussed can be found in this book. I couldn't believe it. It was mindblowing. I said, I have got the truth. Every religion, every philosopher talks around the truth. Only Jesus says he is the truth. That's the only way you'll ever find it. And we know that because of John 14, right?

Going on in verse 19, it says:

"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since the wisdom of God through the world, through its wisdom, did not know him, god was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believed. Jews demand miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. A stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are being called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than God's strength."

I can't tell you how many papers I have written through the decades proving that Jesus is the Christ from the Hebrew dah dah dah dah. My most recent in 2008 when I was getting my masters at Harvard and we had to study the psychologist through a lens of something we knew. And so I said, I'll either do Steven Sondheim or the Bible. And my TA said, you can't do the Bible. Nobody ever does it. Nobody ever gets it right. And if you know me, don't challenge me. Don't do that. I did it, and I got a great grade. I did this whole exegesis on Galatians and Circumcision, and it was way too much fun with my six month old baby at the time. But whatever. It was a lot of fun. I love it. I love to write out verses, right? Because Hebrews Twelve says the Bible is living and active. It works. Now, 2000 years later, the reason it works because it talks to the heart. It doesn't talk about social justice as America thinks about social justice. It doesn't talk about the isms, right? It gets to the thing that causes the isms and social justice. When I was getting I got through many struggles, right? Being married after 18 years of being a disciple, birth of two children, I had cancer.

My husband has MS. We have had a whole lot going on in these 34 years. And I remember on the table for one of my cancer tests, every single scripture came flooding through my veins, and I said, It's go time, right? I've been rehearsing all these years. Now is the time. And I was so grateful. I remember this reading habit that I developed when I was an undergrad. And that same reading habit translated to me as a single woman in New York City trying to figure it out and think about my future. And that same reading habit translated to when I was a mom with two young kids and I had to train them, that Mom's time for reading was Mom's time for reading. And you're going to have your alone playtime, right? Now. That same reading habit translates to now, as I am a personal chef and a personal secretary and an uber driver to my two girls. And my life gets snuffed out and it gets threatened. My reading habits get threatened, right? I cannot love my husband. I cannot love my extraordinary daughters. I cannot love my coworkers, my neighbors. I cannot love anybody. And when I say love, I don't mean that ooey-gooey nonsense. That secular ridiculousness. I mean straight up real love, if I don't have the word of God.

I am the closest thing. I am the closest thing to Jesus so many people will ever see. And it is my job to make sure I know what this book says so that I can save their souls. Finishing up. Finishing up. Sorry, I'm trying to go fast. I'm really trying. I'm really trying. Don't be mad"

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many of you were influential. Not many of you were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things." And get this, "the things that are not so that, right? To nullify the things that are so that no one can boast before Him." And it says, "let anyone who boasts boast in the Lord."

God could care less about my LinkedIn profile, right? He ain't interested. Sorry. I'm thinking about a time when I was working and this not ugly human walked into my office and gave me far too much attention, right? And I remember trying to reach out and have the brothers and sisters help me out with it. And one of the married sisters pulled me inside. She goes, is that him? And I said, yeah. She's like, ain't right. It's just not right. And I remember so many times at work when someone says something stupid and I want to take them out, right? You all have been there and repent before communion. I would do that, but then I said, I know what the Bible says, and I'm going to hold and I'm going to wait and I'm going to listen until God reveals. And God always reveals. And when he does, it's extraordinary. And if I don't hold, you know what happens? I'm left with a counterfeit imitation that only leaves me empty with a lot of pain.

I'm going to close with this before they give me a cane and like, pull me that way. You know what I'm saying? The world gives me 100 million messages a day, and it tries to wash me with its wisdom. I got a counteract this by being washed by God's wisdom. I want to be God washed, right? And the only way that happens is establishing the habit of spending time with God. That's the only thing. Make sure you have good coffee, but spend time with God. Thank you so much for letting me share.

Amen. I think Genieve is hearing God's voice. We all need to hear God's voice. We can and must hear God's voice through the noise of secularism. God's word is that voice. We can and must grow, each one of us in our Bible literacy. This brings me to my third call for action before I wrap it up. The first one is to pray for wisdom. The second one is to analyze your thinking and purify it from secularist tendencies. And then the third one is to get your Bible study on the next level. Make a plan, make an inventory. How much do I really read the Bible? How often do I read the Bible? How much do I read the Bible? Do I love God's word.

Do I immerse myself into it.

Do an inventory and then make a decision that you want to bring it to the next level?

I suggest to you make a daily decision to do something every day, like reading one chapter in the Bible. If you read one chapter in the Bible every day, you're doing a really, really good job moving along and you will get a lot out of the Bible. And then if you decide once a week you memorize a scripture, memorize one scripture a week. Do it the old fashioned way or the new fashioned way. Put it on a little card or put it on your phone. And when you have two or three minutes, just memorize that scripture. It puts you in a mode of wholesome thinking, and you hear God's voice.

There are three resources I want to encourage you to consider. The first one is faithfully different by Natasha Grain. She has a lot of what I touched on in terms of worldviews and secular worldviews and how we are influenced by that worldview. If you want to know more about that, you may want to read her book.

The second book is The Truth About Lies, and Lies About the Truth by David Tackle. David Tackle has made its name. Many of you may know him from his Spiritual Formation Books. This is a really good book that speaks about how you can protect yourself against the lies of the world. And if there's one book that out of the three that you want to only pick, pick the third one. Pick Steve Kinnard's book. Getting the most from the Bible. It's a small booklet. It's an easy read, full of wisdom and full of creative ideas of how to read God's word better.

They want to come now to Communion, and if you don't have the little cup with the juice and the bread, raise your hand. The ushers will help you. But I want to encourage us, as we take the time for Communion, to think about God's voice. Are we hearing God's voice in the next minutes? What is God saying to us? What is it that we, you and I personally want to take from this discussion this morning? Let's pray together. Father God we come before you. And Father, we are deeply grateful about even the concept of truth, that there is something like truth that we can trust, that we can rely on, Father, that gives us confidence and security to live our lives, Father, the way you want us to live.

Thank you for being the father of truth, for sending Jesus to witness to the truth and then living the life that Jesus lived. That allows us even to simply stand before you right now, pure and blameless and righteous in your eyes. We thank you, Father, for your word. We thank you that you love us so much that you would communicate to us everything and more than we need to know. Father, we love you. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Proclaim His Name

Good morning. It's great to see you guys this morning. There you go. Yeah. If you wonder why the lights are a lot brighter right now than they were while Valder was speaking, that's the difference between going first and going second. But it is great to see you guys this morning. My name is Mike Van Ockin, and I get to be a part of the ministry staff here in the Boston Church of Christ. I'm so grateful for that. My wife Scarlett and I, we went on staff 32 years ago as a dating couple, and we're so grateful to be with you guys here this morning. We really, really are. I'm grateful for we've served, for the most part, of course, as evangelists and women's ministry leader almost entirely, certainly most of it in the metro region. Yes. Metro. But it's a great thing, and I love working with the evangelists in this church, and I'm really grateful for the Hislops and the Campbells and the Mains for carving this out. It's not a small task to put an event like this into your calendar in the midst of a semester, and I'm really grateful for that.

At this point, Scarlet and I primarily work amongst the eldership in the Boston Church, and so we get to be partnered in so many ways with the Moes, with the Owens, with the Cohas, with the Kobes, and of course, with the Astroskis. It's so great. These regions are very well led, I can tell you that right now, that's for sure. Amen. And it's been cool. Baldwin and I have now we're completing our tour of the Boston Church. We were in the northern regions a few weeks ago, the southern regions a little bit ago, and now here. And the Spanish is having a similar event right this minute in Arlington. And I love working with Valder, and I think Valder and Genieve did a phenomenal job. Can we give them another round of applause? Amen.

But it's good to be home. This is it. These three regions, for sure, are where all of my roots are. It was something like 34 years ago that I became a disciple in a group that we now would identify as a central region. That's where I became a Christian, where I fell in love, where I got married, where Scarlet and I went on staff. These groups met together back in the 2008, 2010 time frame on Sunday mornings. That was a lot of fun. I certainly enjoyed that. I don't know if everybody else did, but I had a good time doing that. We see each other oftentimes on Honeypot at marriage retreats. My kids, my sons came through the downtown campus as students at Emmanuel. This is home. And of course, metro region we've been a part of for these many years.

But this is truly home right here for me. This is my family. Our picture is slightly less populated than the Coha picture, but nonetheless, it's near and dear to my heart. The young man standing behind me in that picture is our 25 year old son Daniel. He lives and works and worships in Manhattan, part of the Manhattan region of the New York City Church. Ryan and his incredible wife Sarah are there at the far end and they volunteer in our teen ministry here in the metro region. And of course, in the middle of it all, as she always is, is my amazing wife Scarlett. Amen. Yes. And that is the Van Ockin family.

But you know, as disciples, if I can stop looking over my shoulder. They switched clickers for me and so I don't have to look over my shoulder the way Valder did. It's all working. But as disciples, we live by the truth. As disciples, our goal, our purpose, we're striving to do and how we regulate our lives and the standard by which we live is the truth. It's God's word. And we cast a vision for this church back in October. And for that vision to last, for that vision to make it, there are many things we will do. We will remind ourselves time and time again that our vision is to hear his voice and proclaim his name and to write the future. And we'll say it all together, some of those times as well. And we'll have events and we'll have sermons and all those things will happen. But for this vision to last for the next eight years, it cannot be grounded in slogan and it cannot be grounded in excitement. Although we should be excited about it. We will have some catchy things to say. It needs to be grounded in the truth. It's only the truth that's going to make that work. It's only the truth that's going to help us to see us glorify God the way that we intend to glorify God between now and the end of the year 2030.

And Jesus was never, ever shy about the truth. In John chapter six, he said he was the true bread. In John chapter 15, he said he was the true vine. In John chapter 14, he said he was the truth it's very self. Jesus was never shy about the truth. It's sometimes true for us that we can be shy about the truth. It's sometimes true for us that we feel a little bit uncomfortable. That in a world that feels and is, I think, so divided, that to walk into your classroom, walk into the cafeteria, walk into work, walk into the neighborhood or your son's or daughter's soccer field and say, I know the truth. Feels like you're likely to create even more division, when in fact, it's the answer. It's where we can find our unity is in the truth.

Perhaps Morpheus can give us a little bit of a perspective here. I never said it'd be easy, he says. I just said it would be the truth. And that's what we want to do. We want to make sure that we are comfortable with the idea that as disciples, not because we're so smart, not because we're so righteous, but just because we've striving to follow God in his word and we are hearing his voice that we can and do know truth.

And that not only do we know it, but we can know it. And we need to know it in a way that's loving and that's respectable, respectful and respectable, but respectful and shareable. We can know the truth. We're going to build on the truth over these next eight years and beyond, of course. But as we build this vision and as we work to put this vision into practice, we're going to work out of the truth of God's Word.

Let's say a prayer and so we can learn together today. Let's pray. Father, thanks so much for the way that you do take such great care of us. We're grateful that in a world that is so secular and with fallen natures that we have that want so desperately to rely on ourselves and to please ourselves, that we have Your truth that calls us out and calls us to become more than we would ever dream of. And, God, we want to become that which you dream for us. We want to become people that are like Jesus. We want to become people who are increasingly like Jesus. We want to help other people become like Jesus as well. We love you, God, and we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.

Our first point here is to proclaim his name. So we're talking about hear His voice. We're going to talk about proclaim his name and write the future. The second part of our vision is to proclaim his name. And what I want to focus on this morning is why? Why do we need to proclaim his name? Why? Not so much on the what and not so much on the how and not so much on the when? Because those things tend to shift. But the why that we need to proclaim his name does not shift. We need to proclaim his name because the world needs Jesus. And you knew, you knew walking in here this morning that the world is letting Jesus slip away. You knew before you walked in this morning that Jesus is becoming less and less of an influence on this world. And then you saw Valder's statistics in that you know for sure, for sure now that Jesus is having less influence on this world than he used to have and for sure than he needs to have. But Jesus knew, and Jesus was never shy about the thought that the world needed him.

The world needs Jesus. In John, chapter eight, verses 23 and 24, Jesus says this:

"But he continued, you are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins. If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins."

I suspect the crowd sounded just like this when Jesus said that. Jesus knew that the world needed him. Jesus was certain that the world needed him. He is the difference between dying in your sins and living forever. That's Jesus. And he said some other hard things there in John chapter eight. And he got down, not even towards the end of the sermon, down a little bit further on. And this is what happened in John chapter eight, verse 31 32 to the Jews would believed him.

Now stop there for a moment. Believing that Jesus was the difference between dying in your sins and living forever is not now and was not in the second year of Jesus public ministry. A most common response. These are some pretty good guys and women. These are some pretty good people. They get it to some degree, for sure. But Jesus isn't satisfied with just understanding. Jesus isn't satisfied with just acknowledging. Jesus goes on, Jesus says:

"If you hold to my teaching, you're really my disciples, then you'll know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

God is trying to change the world. This is God invading the world. This is the Word invading the world. And God's striving to change the world that he made because he loves the world that he made. This is God striving to get people to move from what I think about and what I sort of believe between my ears, to actually obeying what he has to say, and that's the difference between understanding and not understanding. It's whether or not we're going to obey.

I'm so grateful that in the early part of 1989, somebody decided to proclaim his name to me. Back in the early part of 1989. It's February, January, February, somewhere in the early part of 1989. I was 28 years old, nearly 29 years old, and I'm just here to tell you I had it going on. It's just true. It's not bragging if it's true, you know what they say? By that time, I was 28 years old, and I had graduated Boston College several years before that. Yeah. Go Eagles. I'd worked as a disciple, as a consultant. I;d gone to Stanford University and got my MBA there. I had my own company. I had money coming in. I was living with my girlfriend in Arlington Heights, and I felt like I had it going on. And then my girlfriend came home one night and she said, hey, I've been studying the Bible with some friends, and everything here is just about to change. Now, I know she said, Why have we got a two bedroom place? That was a lively conversation that didn't end the way I hoped it would. And she moved into the second bedroom. And then the next day, she said, hey, do you want to go to church with me? And I said, no, I don't want to go to church with you.

But I went. And she was working at Harvard, and she had been invited by basically a work study student, an intern working in her office. We went with the Harvard MIT campus ministry. Yeah. And we met in one of the Harvard dorms, the basement of his Peeperty Terrace. Sound correct? Basement of Peeperty Terrace, I think it was. And Genieve was probably there. This was February of 1989. It could be that a twangy young graduate architecture student John Martin was there. But I was there, and I'm just going to tell you, I hated that service. My girlfriend was crying. It was terrible. I couldn't believe I was there. And over the course of the night, I thought I'll never go on back. Over the course of the next week, my girlfriend was often out of the apartment while I was in the apartment, and I picked up her Bible, and I read it a little bit, and I thought, now, that's interesting. And so I went to church the next week, which I know because I've got some invitations, was February 12, 1989, and I decided I was going to study the Bible. And so that Wednesday, which I know to be February 15, 1989, I met with Mark Schump, who's Alexis Snell's dad, now an elder in Los Angeles, and a brother by the name of James Lloyd, who had been an alignment in NCAA football for Wake Forest, I think it was. Wake Forest. Yes. And we went to the old Coffee Connection in Harvard Square, and James leaned on the table, and the table started to tip and everything, and he said, Is your relationship with your girlfriend pure? And I knew my life would never be the same again because somebody was willing to proclaim his name, somebody was willing to call me to obey. Somebody was willing to make sure that I would understand the truth of God's Word.

And I'm just here to say, I know some folks here are studying the Bible now. If you're studying the Bible now, and for you, it's just not quite connecting. It's not just not quite making sense. I'm here to say that's probably because you're not obeying yet, and you need to figure out what it is that you need to do to start to put it into practice, that stop swearing or stop flirting or cut out porn or start to reconcile a relationship somewhere. And if you're not sure what to do, the person sitting next to you for sure, he or she, knows what you ought to do. And it's when you start to obey that you will understand there are many, many conversions in the Bible. The longest conversion in the Bible took three days. February 15 is the first day I studied the Bible. March the fifth is when I got baptized, about two and a half weeks later. If you've been studying the Bible longer than three days, congratulations. You're making biblical history. Good for you. You can do this. You can become a Christian before Christmas. Amen. You can do this.

We need to proclaim his name because the world needs Jesus. We need to proclaim his name because we know Jesus. Because we know Jesus. The first time that the Apostle Paul, at that moment called Saul, met Jesus, it was in act chapter 26, verses 16 to 18. And Jesus said this to him. He said:

"now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from young people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

I love this passage. I love this passage. I love this passage so much because this passage talks of transformation. This passage talks of change. This passage means that as soon as you know Jesus, you get to carry forth a message, a message of light, a message of forgiveness, a message of God. You get to carry a message, a message that will break cycles and change family trees. You get to carry a message that brings hope, hope to a hopeless, hope to a fallen world. That's what's going on right here. That's who we get to be. The world needs see us. We need to proclaim his name because we know Jesus as disciples. We know him, and God changes the world when we proclaim his name.

God changes the world. These are several of the baptisms in the metro regions this year. Now, back in October, if you were in the Low auditorium, you heard how Jim Mo met Jamie. Now, Jamie is a 26 year old Hispanic girl sister now, and Jim Mo is demographically about as far removed from that as you can possibly be. But Jim Mo met Jamie, and that doesn't stop, the story, of course, doesn't stop there, and it won't stop there for a long, long, long time. But in the lake right there, you see Jamie baptizing her friend Samantha, because Jim Mo proclaimed his name to Jamie. Amen. That's what happened.

And down in the lower right, you see two ladies there and Riley, the younger of those two, she got baptized. Now, Riley, when she was three years old, she attended the preschool that the Silverhird Lady runs. Fast forward 17 years later, and Riley came to Jean's preschool, this time to work, and Jean proclaimed his name to riley. And 17 years later, this little girl who become a grown woman, became a disciple and your sister in Christ. That's what happens when we proclaim his name. Amen. The world changes.

It's a fact that every baptism and every restoration is an amazing spiritual victory. It's a fact that every baptism and every restoration means that the kingdom of light is pushing back. The kingdom of darkness just another couple feet. Everything, it just brings amazing glory to God. Every baptism, every restoration.

But let me share this with you. That's not what it takes for you to please God. Because it's God who makes things grow. Our role is to scatter seed. It's just to scatter seed. Our role is to go out and let them know. Every time we scatter seed, God says, that pleased me. Every time we share our faith, that's so pleasing. Every time you invite someone to class, that's my daughter, listen to her. Every time you invite somebody who's at work, that's my son. Listen to him. Just scatter seed. That's our role. God prepares the soil. God prepares our hearts. God brings the increase. It's not to our credit when the soil is soft and it's not our fault when it falls on the path.

You know, back this fall, earlier this fall, in September, the evangelist several times now just what we do, we set ourselves some evangelism goals and we went out and shared our faith. And a month or so later we all came back together and we were sharing good news. It was amazing the ways God had moved. And I forget all the different details of most of them, but like, Glenn Petrusie had set up like twelve personal Bible studies up there at ULoL and Larry Reid, Larry Reid was one of my very close, close friends. He came back and he said that he had shared with a guy who turned out to be a manager of a hotel. And then they got into a great conversation, which always happens with Larry Reid. And Larry prayed for him right then there and that guy gave Larry and Kim Reid a free night in his hotel. I got a bad phone number. Now, I know how we all think you're more impressed with Larry than with me. I'm more impressed with Larry than with me. But God's not more impressed with Larry than with me because we're all scattering seed. That's all we're trying to do is just scatter seed. Amen. That's all it takes.

And when we do go, we got a plan. We scatter seed and we find the people that God has prepared and they come to church and they study the Bible and they get baptized. And then they carry forth a message of light and of hope and of God and of forgiveness. And here to share a little bit about her heart for that is Mari Salamura.

Mari Salamura

Well, thank you, Mike, for everything you've preached so far and thank you for the opportunity to just share today. But in line with this point to proclaim his name, I consider it such a great privilege that God even decides to pluck us out of the darkness. Let us preach his precious good news, that we even get to be associated with Him, that he's like, not embarrassed by us, and that we get to play a part in watching hearts change right in front of our very eyes. It's my conviction that proclaiming his name should not only be second nature to us as disciples, but that it is one of the biggest blessings we get to partake in.

In Mark One, we read about a man with leprosy spreading the news about Jesus healing him, despite specifically being told not to by Jesus himself. In John Four, after an encounter with Jesus at the well, a Samaritan woman forgets about her water jar and runs back to her town to tell the people, come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Stephen, in face of opposition, never stopped speaking about Jesus", and he became the first martyr. Upon Lydia's heart being open in act 16, she baptizes her whole household and fresh out of the waters of baptism, it is recorded that Paul in Acts Nine at once began to preach in the synagogues.

This consistent pattern of events and the sentiment behind them is summed up in Acts 4:20 after Peter and John are persecuted. And they say, as for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. That is totally the heart behind evangelism. And we see over and over again in the Scriptures a drive to proclaim Jesus's name and our brothers and sisters in the Bible. And all these people had one thing in common, and it's that their hearts were transformed by Jesus. And there was no room for second thought, hesitation or deliberation. It was their natural response to go out and give others the same chance to be transformed as well. And God used these changed people to go out and change more.

Now, if we're disciples in this room, this is true for you too. Remember that at one time you two were in the darkness without hope or mercy, looking for answers until you found God, and most likely through somebody explaining to you and the Scriptures and sharing their lives and faith with you. However long ago it was that there was a mission team from this church that went out to Tokyo, Japan and met my dad in a bookstore. Ancient times. And that's how I even got to grow up learning about the Bible. And it's amazing the chain reaction that happens.

Yesterday I spent around probably like a solid 5 hours in the Chickfila near here where all good things happen. I was there the first time in the morning with four amazing women in our campus ministry. Three of them Olivia, Vanessa and Danny, who were merely strangers to me just a year or two ago, but yesterday they were there sharing their testimonies, their convictions and their encouragement with our friend who is right at the cusp of getting baptized. They opened their Bibles that were clearly used to sticky notes of scriptures that got them through as they wrestled with the decision to make Jesus Lord over just a year ago. Yeah, pretty cool. It is truly exciting and inspiring how somebody can change in just a few weeks, a few months and years of knowing Jesus and experiencing in salvation. Later that day I was back at Chickfila with my boyfriend, spending time with my friend Kensley, who just got baptized just a month ago at BU. We just met her earlier this semester and her boyfriend actually also ended up studying the Bible and getting baptized in our northwest region just last Sunday. So God is amazing and does amazing things. And so if you've been keeping your faith to yourself, you are probably robbing yourself of your faith being built, your heart softening, your personal convictions being strengthened, the joy, the absolute joy of partaking in your purpose, the gift of fellowship with new believers and so much more. But more importantly, you may also be robbing another person from a chance at everything I just listed. If you've been stagnant in your faith, growing complacent, being critical towards the church and those around you, or being combative towards God in his word, it may be because you're grieving the spirit by not living out what you were created to do as a disciple. And that is to proclaim God's name out of an overflow of gratitude in your own relationship with God.

You may also say that the only important thing in one's Christianity is focusing on one's personal relationship with God. However, if you are prayerful behind closed doors when no one is watching, truly in step with the Holy Spirit and reading the Bible, really any part of the Bible every day, it would be very difficult to not be compelled to evangelize with those around you.

Peter and John said that they couldn't help themselves and that's how we would feel too if we were truly close with God. Loving the Lord our God is the most important command for us to follow and I find that when I am following that first commandment well, I am more motivated and in love than ever with showing others the Scriptures also. There's nothing I love more than sitting across from somebody to show them how much God loves them and showing them while there's so much more to life and there's so much more that you can be doing with your life and the impact that you can be having.

Ultimately, we do not give our hearts to people with guarantee that our hearts will not be broken because we will be disappointed at times and we do not proclaim God's name for our own benefit. We are totally unworthy servants. But how incredible it is that God allows us to and graciously, lets us be part of something greater than ourselves, and that he gives us the joy of having an internal impact on somebody else's life. Thank you for letting me share.

Write the Future

Amen. Awesome job, Mari. Awesome job. So we need to proclaim his name. Our second thought here this morning for me is we need to write the future. That's the third part. A third leg of our stool, if you will, of the 2030 visions to write the future. And our goal as a church is to win the next generation. That's our goal. And what I mean by that is all of the young people, whether it be campus students or young professionals or young marriage or young families walking through those doors to help those people become disciples. And for sure I also mean the children of the Boston Church, the children who are growing up in this church. Our goal is to win the next generation. And again, why do we need to do that? Why do we need to write the future? We need to write the future because we are the family of God. Because we are the family of God.

Look at Psalm 78, if you would. Verses three through seven. Saw the classic next gen passage says this,

"Things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us, we will not hide them from their descendants. We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his powers, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born. And they in turn would tell their children that they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds, but would keep his commands."

We need to write the future because we are the family of God. The family of God. God's people have always been family. The Israelites moved as community. They always did. If you think about that story of Jesus in the temple when he was twelve years old or so, his mom and dad didn't know he was missing until they'd been traveling for a day. That's because they moved as community. Everybody's okay here? We went to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. I knew who was in the car before we left, but they moved as community. And in the New Testament, there are many ways that God describes the church that we are as the army of God and all kinds of different things, but a building, et cetera. But family of God is overwhelmingly the metaphor, the comparison that's used in the Bible to mean us.

And I understand, and I know it's true, that not every parent has yet had their prayers for their children, all their prayers for their children answered yet in terms of becoming disciples. I want to make sure to underscore what Kevin said back in October. And that is that the parents and the families who hang in there who hang in there in their faith and hang in there in their faith in God and in their children through all those different difficult seasons, that you are heroes to us and you have our respect and you have our appreciation and work with you all the way. Amen.

And I want to say this. The Boston Church never ever gives up on her children. The Boston Church never gives up on her children. It takes all of us to win the next generation. The metro region, we talk a lot about seeing our adult children become disciples. It matters to us that our adult children become disciples. Sometimes they're becoming disciples in other regions, in other parts of the country. And sometimes our kids are becoming disciples in the metro, and sometimes in the metro, adult children from elsewhere are becoming Christians. These are four that this year have become disciples in the metro. These are adult children, Greg and Aaron and Mario and Elena. It's never time, there's never a moment to lose faith, there's never a moment to lose hope that our adult children are going to become disciples no matter where they're at right now. Amen. Never that moment.

We need to write the future because we're the family of God and we need to write the future because that's Jesus example. Jesus was always thinking about the future. Jesus was always about that. The twelve apostles were surely men in their teens and in their 20s. When Jesus gave us a peek under the hood, it was Matthew chapter 16. He said, I will build my church. And for three years of public ministry that we have recorded in the Gospel, he poured himself into those twelve men so that through them he could indeed build his church after he'd gone back to heaven, after Jesus rose from the dead. After Jesus rose from the dead. Luke records what Jesus was doing for the 40 days between his resurrection and his ascension.

It's acts chapter one, I think. It's in verse three it says that what Jesus did was he spoke about the kingdom of God. Of all the things that Jesus could have been doing for those six or so weeks, of all the things that people could remember about Jesus during that time period, it was that he spoke about the kingdom of God. It's Jesus example that he focuses on the future. And our plan, our goal, our expectation is that we will write the future. We will win the next generation here in the Boston Church.

And I want to say this here, it matters what happens in these three regions. Overwhelmingly, and not just because of downtown, but in the metro and in the Central as well. Overwhelmingly, the young people of the Boston Church are here. They're in these three regions. It's got to work here. It's here that the young people need to reach out to other young people. It's here that older people has happened so many times in Metro this year and I'm sure elsewhere as well. But it's here that we need to make sure that we remember the next generation as we share our faith. It's here that older generations and younger generations of disciples need to work well together. It's here because this is where it can happen. And this is a spot right here that will build the faith of the rest of the Boston Church. This is a spot right here that has the opportunity and I believe has the God-given role to show the way for the Boston Church on writing the next generation.

Will we do it here at church? Will we do it here at church? We need to do it here. It needs to absolutely happen. Let me say this to younger people. 1 Timothy four, verse twelve. It says this, it says:

"don't let anyone look down on you because you're young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

What does he mean? He doesn't mean have an edge. He doesn't mean going, hey, hey, don't you look down on me. No, no, no. He says instead of people looking down on you, let them see your example. Instead of people seeing your youth, let them see your example. Your example, younger people, your example needs to outshine your age. Your example of kingdom convictions needs to be what matters most, needs to be what people see before they even see how old you are or are not. That they see kingdom example. That they see convictions to say my relationships, my priorities, my career, my housing, my finances, I determine what I do based on what's right in the kingdom of God, seeking first the kingdom rather than seeking for self. That's always going to be the choice. The choice will always be between kingdom and self. Now we call it secularism, that's fine, but selfish works too. And that's always going to be our choice. And when young people walking in that door and when young people growing up amongst us see you, what they need to be able to say to themselves is, I could be that. I could be that right now, I could be that tomorrow. I can be that by Christmas. I can be that right there. I can be somebody who has something going on that I've never seen before. Because you have that kind of example to your peers and those coming up behind you. That's what it matters. It matters for younger people.

It matters for older people too. It matters for older people that we follow Jesus example. We need to write the future because that's Jesus example. For the older folks, for my peers, and for those who are, yes, you can be younger than me and still be an older person these days. But our race is not over and our role is not done. Our race is not over. Our role is not done. We've proven we've been around long enough to know we're not going anywhere, but we also need to get going in some ways. Back in early 1989, I was studying the Bible, and before I got baptized, I had looked at the guy, the ministry staff person who was studying the Bible with me, and I'd never seen somebody who had so much potential. We have so much impact. And I said to him, I want your job. Less than two years later, I was on staff, and just back in September, I passed on my job. But I'm still in the race, I'm still part of Metro. I'm still there.

And here's what's going on. In 1 corinthians eleven, I'm going to stand with Paul and I'm going to say, imitate me as I imitate Christ. I want to call on the older generation to take that stand and say, imitate me as I imitate Christ, to have the kind of confidence in your example that you can say, imitate me as I imitate Christ. What does that mean? That means you're going to keep growing. That means you're going to keep changing. That means you're going to stay zealous. Caleb said that he was just as vigorous at 80 years old as he had been 40 years previous. We all know he was wrong about that, right? If you've got 80 inside, you know that wasn't true. But you do know that you can be just as zealous. You do know that you can be just as committed. You do know that you can change just as much. You do know that you can keep going. You need to have younger people looking at you. I need to have younger people looking at me and say, I could become that one day and not I could be that, I could be that. No, I could become that one day. I could become somebody who's still so full of life and so obviously full of the spirit that younger people are attracted to Jesus as a result. That's the goal for the younger, older people.

And we got to keep changing. Yeah, grow up, whatever. Keep changing. Keep growing. If this church, I love to change. I do. I love to change. I love to grow. It was several years ago, it was probably five, six, something like that, years ago, that Doug Arthur challenged me to become more nurturing. The reason he challenged me for that is because I wasn't very. I think there was a lunch on a Thursday. On Friday night, I told my d-group, but I told the Graces and the Jamesons and the Bushwicks. On Sunday morning, I told the region. On Tuesday, I told the staff, I said, I'm gonna become a nurturer. I spent the next three years with everybody in my life, knowing what I was working on and calling me out day by day, oh, that wasn't very nursing. Oh, that was nursing. Nice job. But I changed. I changed. I grew. I mean, I'm not the best, whoever was. I mean, there's a whole lot of people who are better than me, but man, I changed.

We had a sharing time for Scarlett and myself back in September as we passed the role on to the Campbells of leaving the metro region. And they're just doing phenomenal. But so many people I'm so encouraged because so many people shared about me that I had changed so much. One of the brothers got up and said, it's like you went through sensitivity training. I wasn't totally sure what to make about that, but whatever. I guess I changed.

And now I'm going around, now I'm going after, I'm going to lean in. I'm going to become increasingly comfortable in awkward conversations. And as of this moment, the entire Boston Church, other than the Spanish speaking ministries knows that's exactly what I'm working on. I've got 1800 people holding me accountable now to how I'm going to grow.

How are you changing? How are you going to change? Older people, we're still some 60, 70% of this church. If this church is going to be a church where older and younger people, but especially younger people, can become disciples and flourish as disciples and live out their lives as disciples and build their families as disciples, it's going to be because we set that tone. That's on us, guys, let's make sure we do it. That's us.

My torch is still lit. Your torch is still lit. We need to decide to write the future. Our best days are ahead. So the truth behind the vision I believe in this vision. I hope that's come across. I trust this vision, I really do. Not because I think it's such a cool set of words, although I do think it's a cool set of words. Not because it appeals to me emotionally, although it does that too. It's because it's rooted in the truth of God's Word. And I believe with all my heart that the next eight years are going to be a lot of fun. I believe with all my heart that the next eight years will truly glorify God. I believe that the next eight years next eight years will be the best years so far that the Boston Church has ever seen because we're going to devote ourselves to hear his voice and we'll see how we change as a result. We will be sure to proclaim his name and lives around us will change as a result and we will write the future and see God's heart for the next generation. Thanks very much. It's great to be with you guys today.

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