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The Trust Factor, Week 4 — The “Double By-Pass” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Began in Monroe, North Carolina, Tega Cay, SC, and the human heart;
  • Borrowed liberally from the thinking and teaching of Alcoholics Anonymous;
  • Included this a photo of my daughter, Taylor, at age 2 (see below);
  • Landed at this bottom line: You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
  • Also led to a “pledge card” moment for those people who call Good Shepherd home.

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A lot of you know that for nine years I lived in Monroe NC when I was first pastoring. And some more of you likely know the momentous news involving Monroe from this past spring: the opening of the Monroe By-Pass (AV). Yes! A new freeway (low tolls!) that connects Charlotte essentially to Wingate and in so doing every beach goer in the history of the world now gets to skip what used to be known as Independence Blvd., Hwy 74, Stallings, Indian Trail, and even Monroe itself! It’s like magic! You no longer go THROUGH, you now go AROUND and it’s VOILA! You go from point A to point C and never have to go through all the traffic and the sprawl of point B! Beach in no time. It’s the way it is with by-passes.
Closer to around here, I JUST RECENTLY FIGURED OUT that there’s a new cut through from the Tega Cay Wal Mart over to Gold Hill and you never even have to get back on 160! Who knew? Not me. It’s a wonderful by-pass that gets you to a good place going AROUND stuff so you don’t have to go THROUGH it. By-pass. And way closer to home for some of you, I know that you’re alive because of by-pass. In your heart, surgeons stopped the blood from trying to go THROUGH where your plaque was built up, they did grafts going AROUND it and now you’re as good as new. By-pass. You get the blessing of around without the mess of going through.
And so since by-passes work so well in so much of life, we consciously and subconsciously apply it to the realm of faith as well. Especially with a promise like the one we find in the concluding words of Proverbs 3:5-6, this diamond we have been gazing at for four straight weeks now: READ OUT LOUD & TOGETHER:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight.

Look closely at how it ends: “and he will make your paths straight.” Well, who wouldn’t want THAT? A life that is smooth, relatively free of drama, avoiding more crises than you’re having to manage. You assume those straight paths might have some bumps along the road but nothing that you can’t handle on your own. So we’re talking about trust and the verses and the series ends with a promise of straight paths, smooth sailing, contentment and purpose in this life and then heaven after you die and most of you are like “sign me up!”
Except that’s not what this promises. Not even close. Straight paths come at the end of the promise, and there’s stuff that comes before it and the whole mis-reading of Proverbs 3:6 reminds me so much of what my friends in recovery call The Spiritual By-Pass. By that they mean those folks who, say in the case of alcohol, want to go from addiction to sobriety LIKE THAT (finger snap). From drunkenness to free from even the desire to drink overnight. As if sobriety and serenity from any addiction happens in ONE GREAT LEAP. And for every one time it works that way, there are probably 500 where it doesn’t. It’s why it’s called a Twelve Step Program and not a One Leap Program. Yet whether addicted or not – and we’re all powerless over something – the same idea applies to the rest of life. We want to go AROUND the process instead of through it and arrive smack dab in the middle of the promise. Which, in the case of Proverbs 3:6 is the straight paths.
Maybe for you it’s that financial health. And you sure would like to read the tea leaves better, you’d like to know the secret better, you’d like every financial blessing Jesus could possibly provide, and you’d like it yesterday, please. Or for others of you, Lord, could you just snap your fingers and give me that marital health that seems so elusive. Flip the switch! And then others of you, it’s a pre-marital blessing – Lord, make me someone that someone else is interested in and then make that someone else both rich and good looking. Please! Or even just the malaise and near depression so many of us suffer from. Can’t I go to church this Sunday and God will be so happy that my path to feeling better will be straight and sure? Wherever you are, you are doing for life what others are doing for recovery and it is a spiritual by-pass, around the process rather than through it, and while that may work for highways it’s terrible for you and for me.
Because look at the first phrase of 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him …We get tripped up over the English word “acknowledge.” We think it’s like when you pass someone on the street or in the hall and you KIND OF know who they are so you nod at them. I acknowledge you. Or you tip a hat to them if you’re a hat wearer. Or it’s like that guy I used to know in NJ and he was pretty well known fella and he kept saying Hey Buddy to me. And I was like, “this is cool! Marty thinks I’m his buddy and he’s somebody so one day I will be somebody!” Except then a guy told me, “Oh Marty? He just says ‘hey buddy’ to anyone whose face he remembers but name he can’t.” That’s acknowledging in our minds. The lowest common denominator, the most surface level of familiarity.
Which is the opposite of what Proverbs 3:6 is talking about. It actually is the ancient word YADA, which to know deeply and surrender completely. What acknowledge makes me think of this is this guy:

A clerical error sent a supply clerk with the 82nd Airbone out the door on his first parachute jump without any training. Army Spc Jeff Lews, 22, who landed unhurt, said he was just doing what a good soldier is supposed to do when he made the jump: Follow orders. “The Army said I was airborne qualified,” Lewis said, “And I was going to question it.”

READ Jeff Lewis, Perfect p. 196, Army said I was airborn qualified and I’m not going to question it. That’s it! You know who gives the order, you trust who gives the order, you saturate yourself with and delight in those orders, and that’s how you acknowledge the Lord. What he says about you is more true than what you think about you.
And that acknowledging? There are no short cuts. You’re not complacent one day and then BOOM then next day you’ve got. Acknowledging is the opposite of a bypass; instead of going around the process of knowing Jesus better and surrendering to him more, you go through it. And it can be painful. Dying to yourself always is. It can even be tedious. It can be slow going. But it is always worth it. Why? Because of that promise of the straight paths. You don’t get there via the by-pass; you get there through the stuck traffic on the old Independence Blvd.
Here it is. Here it is because I don’t want any of you to miss the promises and favor of what Jesus so desperately longs to give you: You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus. Right! There is no payoff in your life or in mine, whether it’s recovering from a compulsion or establish a household of love, that comes without the process. Trusting God may start in a moment but it never stays there. The moment creates momentum so you will continue to trust and learn and saturate yourself. There is no bling without the burden. Now listen: getting saved? Easy. Like that. Jesus you have my life. Living out that salvation? The task of a lifetime, rarely easy but always worth it. You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
See, God will not sacrifice his character to provide your blessing. Those straight paths? They’re not about making things right. They’re about making the right things clear. And desirable. Guess what?
God will not bless your adultery.
He will not baptize your greed.
He will not anoint your gluttony.
He will not favor your complacency.
He will not abundantly pour out himself all over your “I’ve done enough for God.”
He will not honor you “but he’s part of my life!” when he has rightful claim to BE your life.
You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
See all this is why affairs lead to unhappiness and greed leads to misery and why unforgiveness is like drinking the poison and waiting for the other person to die. We wonder why the abundant life Xns talk about seems so elusive when we’re expected to get there with half-hearted – if that – surrender to Jesus. You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
I love how this is true not only at the micro level but the macro level as well. In recent years, we’ve had a number of churches and movements – some of them Methodist – decide they know better than Jesus and Paul on a wide range of issues, ranging from heaven & hell to the Virgin Birth to sex. They have edited the Scripture and begun to give the world a compromised Gospel. But you know what? God is still on his throne. And those churches and movements with the compromised Gospel that’s been sexually revised? Way down in numbers, down even more in dollars. Go figure. God refuses to make wrong things right. And so when the church modifies the Word to satisfy the world, it doesn’t win more converts. It only earns more contempt. They wonder why they don’t have Jesus’ blessings and he is wondering why he doesn’t have their surrender! I just want to make sure he has ours. You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
Because here is the great thing. The GREAT THING. God loves to be trusted. Loves it. This is one my favorite pics. Our daughter Taylor, now 30, was 2 and near the end of her aunt’s wedding was DONE.

Exhausted, tired, over it. Where did she find solace? In her pillow (1) and in my arms (2). My happiest moment as a dad (OK, I was prolly done with wedding too!). I loved it loved it loved it that that was where she turned for nourishment and peace.
And so does God. He loves it when you trust him in the crisis and he loves it EVEN MORE when you trust him in the calm! The calm can be so seductive, getting you to think “I got this” when you got nothing of the kind! When you trust him in the calm with the same desperation as you did in the chaos, Jesus LOVES IT. When he has your surrender to keep you out of messes in the same way he did when you got in them, he LOVES IT. When you realize that a living relationship with Jesus Christ doesn’t happen miraculously, doesn’t go AROUND, but goes through, in MASSIVELY SMALL STEPS EVERY DAY, he loves it. He wants to make those paths straight but he loves you so much he won’t do it until you acknowledge him deeply and desperately and daily. You’ll only have the blessings OF Jesus when you have surrender TO Jesus.
Seems like a small thing – and perhaps late to the game – but I stopped taking the paper about a year ago. And began starting every day in the Word instead of the world as a result. I know less about murders and corruption in CLT but I know more about the letters of Paul and the wisdom of Solomon. Can you give us a month to try it, too? Not the rest of your life. Just close out 2019 with a promise that every day starts in the Word and not the world. We’ll resource you to do it. Come up to make that promise ….

A clerical error sent a supply clerk with the 82nd Airbone out the door on his first parachute jump without any training. Army Spc Jeff Lews, 22, who landed unhurt, said he was just doing what a good soldier is supposed to do when he made the jump: Follow orders. “The Army said I was airborne qualified,” Lewis said, “And I was going to question it.”

Comments ( 1 )

  • Wayne says:

    Great sermon! The Barley’s & I were discussing it after the 11:30. And it’s amazing how much Reilly looks like you did then in the picture.

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