Yesterday’s message …
Began with a “mini-point” that was a stepping stone to the major point. I think that’s allowed under the Simplify The Message method;
Pointed out that adrenaline may make you stronger but it does not make you smarter;
Included a testimony from a pilot from the beginning of his 43 year career;
Led to this pointed point: Trusting God is a mental decision that protects you from emotional delusion.
I want to start out this morning by telling you something about DECISIONS that you very likely already know in your gut but haven’t had it phrased exactly this way. Now: this is NOT the thing I’m going to tell you today – that BIG and it’s COMING and I CAN’T WAIT TO TELL YOU THAT ONE but I know you’re not quite ready for it yet – but this thing right now is a stepping stone to that. Ready? Here it is: decisions you make make in the heat of the moment are decisions you come to regret. Got that? Those choices you make IN EMOTION and BY EMOTION are the choices that after the fact you wish you could have a DO OVER. You know this. Almost every decision you ever made when the adrenaline was flowing in full flight are decisions you wish you could take back.
You’re not alone. Like these guys who wanted to get a close up view of nature: AV, Buzzfeed. Or this product that developers really, truly thought of: AV Chocolate Pringles. Or this one involving ink, which I know a lot of you have & most of you like, but I suspect this guy would like a mulligan: AV No Ragrets. Yep, maybe you don’t have THAT ink on you but you know all about decisions made EMOTIONALLY. It’s whey when you hit SEND on that email or PUBLISH on the FB post and you felt so righteous and so vindicated … and now you just feel unemployed. Because you are. It’s why when that guy cut you off in traffic YOU passed him on the right & gave him half the peace sign … and YOU got the ticket. It’s why arguing with the ref at SCAA got YOU escorted out of the complex. It’s why returning that flirt or answering that text ultimately led to your separation & divorce. It’s Custer at Little Big Horn (AV), Napoleon at Waterloo (AV), or Michael Scott leaving Dunder Mifflin (AV) and you all know that emotional decisions are unreliable decisions. Emotion doesn’t cloud your judgment; it erases it. Adrenaline might make you stronger; it rarely makes you smarter.
So in light of all that, we’re looking at a Scriptural diamond this month at GS; a biblical gem. Exploring these incomparable words –
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.
READ Prov 3:5-6 out loud & together – from a variety of different angles. And that word “trust” there is so interesting. We saw a couple of weeks ago how trust has everything to do with what you put your weight on or confidence in (clip of 11.3.19 sermon where OHS footballer stands on 2 x 4). Trust in the Lord with all your heart. So comprehensive, that notion of trust.
And here’s what most of us do when we think of trusting God – assuming you’ve gotten to the place where you actually believe in God. We get in a dilemma, in a fix, in a mess, in a situation dominated by emotion (!) and then we say, “Help me Lord! I’m falling and I can’t get up! I trust you!” When have you “trusted” God at more than any other time? When the boss & the HR guy call you in for a 4 p.m. meeting on a Friday. When you see the blue lights flashing behind you in the rear view mirror. When you don’t know where the rent is coming from. When you’re in the ambulance with your own child on the stretcher beside you. That’s trust. And there’s emotion, and thank God for it.
But that’s not Proverbs 3:5 trust. Nope. Proverbs 3:5 trust is a DECISION, not a REACTION. It’s not made when you’re stuck in the quicksand; it’s made before you fall in to begin with. It’s a decision of your mind and not a response of your heart. And more than anything, trusting God is this liberating decision of your mind that you make in a season of calm. It’s the kind of decision that not only gets you through the chaos but makes sure there is less of it in your life. It may be a decision of a moment, but that moment generates MOMENTUM to govern your life over the long haul. It recognizes the fiercest opponent to your happiness is YOU and the least reliable advisor you’ve ever met is YOUR OWN GUT! Really, it’s the kind of long-term, living relationship with Jesus that ensures you never make Chocolate Pringles to begin with.
Here it is, here’s the real trust factor: Trusting God is a mental decision that protects you from emotional delusion. It learns the lesson from THIS & THIS & THIS (3 photos that opened the sermon), recognizes my own inherent unreliability, and says I’m putting my life and my choices in God’s hands according to Gods’ word and even when that seems to make NO SENSE, I’m following it anyway. He knows what’s best way better than I do. REFRAIN
What I’m talking about is a little bit like what it’s like to grow up with a first name like Talbot. Now: I don’t know if my parents made THAT decision in emotion and by emotion or not. They did have about nine months to mull it over, didn’t they? Since they’d already had seven kids & I was #8, did they just run out of normal names? Probably. Or did they think, “we’ll if we name him THIS, we’ll ensure that from an early age he’ll deal with people calling him BUTT? Or teach him to spell it a lot over the phone?” I dunno. All I do know is that when I started dating a girl in college and trusted her enough to tell her that I found this first name …. PROBLEMATIC … she interrupted me and said, “Oh no. I like that name. It suits you.” And what did I decide shortly thereafter? I am marrying that girl. And so I did! That’s what I’m talking about. Trusting God is a mental decision that protects you from emotional delusion.
Or what I’m talking about is like my friend Mike, a pilot. Listen to this:
I was a young Aircraft Commander on an Air Force KC-135 enroute to conduct a night time aerial refueling over the North Atlantic off the coast of Iceland. The sky was clear and the Aurora Borealis was spectacular that evening, lighting up the horizon. The scheduled rendezvous for the refueling with a flight of four F-15 fighter jets was in 30 minutes so I decided to turn off the autopilot and hand-fly for proficiency. The horizon, which I was using as a reference point, was suddenly lost as I entered a bank of unexpected clouds. I continued to hand-fly and my plan was to maintain “straight and level flight” until I exited the clouds. After a short period of time my Co-Pilot cautioned me that we were in a slight bank and a descent. “Impossible,” my physiological senses told me. I am wings level and at a steady altitude! This young Lieutenant doesn’t know who he’s flying with…The Ace of the Base, Captain Mike McGovern! Fortunately my hubris subsided enough for me to look at my instruments to verify the situation. He was right! I was in a descending turn. How could that be? But I had been taught to overcome the intense objections from my senses and trust my instruments, therefore I made the necessary corrections, climbed back up to our altitude, returned to my original heading, thanked the Co Pilot, and engaged the autopilot. The aerial refueling was uneventful while taking place on the most beautiful evening of my 43 year aviation career!
Trusting God is a mental decision that protects you from emotional delusion.
Or even what I’m thinking of takes me back to my early days as a pastor in Monroe. And a very wise, savvy business owner in that church was telling me one day about his own approach to generosity. And he said, simply, in a quote I’d never heard before but have heard many times since: you can’t outgive God. You don’t make that kind of decision as you’re headed to bankruptcy court. You make it in the early days of starting that biz and I strongly suspect it keeps you out of Chapter Eleven to begin with! REFRAIN.
I’m really not telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m reminding you of some vital things you have likely forgotten. AND I am inviting you to look at life NOT as a series of isolated incidents but instead as a thread in which every decision builds momentum for every decision that follows. And that you make your most important decisions in a time of relative strength so that you will have the perspective and faith and deep seated, built in routine of obedience that will get you through any potential time of weakness.
You know who really, really needs this? And I’m so glad we have this population at our church? People just starting out. Married or single. The 22-25 crowd. The 18-28s even. Where you look at the life ahead with sober – literal and figurative! – judgment and declare: My feelings will NEVER be my guide. My emotions will NEVER be my governor. I will never fall for conventional wisdom. And maybe more than anything else, “what all my friends say” will never never never be my source of wisdom if I know what they SAY contradicts what God has SAID.
It’s why I loved that engaged couple I was speaking with awhile back. They were engaged. And they’d already bought a house. But they weren’t living in it. Closed on it and everything. But let it sit idle for a month. $900 mortgage payment unused! Why? Keep the marriage bed pure. “We’re not cohabitating because it’s not God’s design for us.” Guess what: $900 is a small price to pay for obedience to God and the long term blessings that follow. The best part of all? All their friends thought they were so stupid! That’s crazy! You gotta practice married life before the real thing! No. Hell no. You don’t. Praise God for young people who are so unconventional, so counter cultural, so … BIBLICAL. The friends may have said “you’re crazy” but I have an idea that God said, “well done, good and faithful servants.” And please know: that’s a decision the couple makes in the calm, not when in a compromising position. It’s a sober decision to trust a serene God. REFRAIN.
Because here’s what so many people do: they follow a pleasant path to certain destruction. They listen to friends, to conventional wisdom, to Facebook, to Insta, to higher education, NOT REALIZING that our delusion is collective. And it’s been going on from the very beginning! What was the first temptation in the garden? To be like God. To be the rule makers, the table setters, the know betters. It’s the kind of wisdom that sounds so smart, so loving, so sophisticated, and is ultimately so deadly. Please don’t fall for it. The road God takes you on might be bumpy – ok, it WILL be bumpy – but towards the end of it your record of obedience will make so much more sense. You’ll see that God’s every command, each NO and all the YESes are for your good, your blessing, and your health. And I just want you to make the kind of decisions NOW, when the heat’s not on, that will serve you well when it is. REFRAIN
Here are a couple of ways it has worked for us here at GS. We actually have a Staff Code. You sign it before you begin work here, not after you get in trouble. And in it, you agree to some things that may sound restrictive but are in fact liberating. No car rides alone with opposite sex. No meal alone with opposite sex. No counseling opposite sex in an office without a window. Sounds restrictive. No! Liberating! Because we’ve made the decisions with our minds that prevents exactly the kind of mess that your heart gets you into. I mean I love old TP (RIP) but she’s gonna listen to her heart, it’s gonna show her what to do is quite likely the worst advice ever. Your heart is a liar and a deceiver. Lead it, don’t follow it. REFRAIN
The result of all this? Where does it all lead? A full confidence in the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Talk about making a decision IN ADVANCE to embark on a course that he knew would be bloody before it was blessed; it was costly before he was named king. Yet because the one who bled is the one rose, he is also the one who empowers. You can’t make these kinds of decisions, you can’t live this kind of trust on your own. But he whose name the grave could not contain … he can. And he will.
Because I absolutely long for the day when all the people of Good Shepherd are so resting in his wisdom rather than trusting their own that in that place of deep trust, they sound almost like this: PURRRING sound bite. Ah, that’s trust, that’s peace, that happens when you REFRAIN.
I was a young Aircraft Commander on an Air Force KC-135 enroute to conduct a night time aerial refueling over the North Atlantic off the coast of Iceland. The sky was clear and the Aurora Borealis was spectacular that evening, lighting up the horizon. The scheduled rendezvous for the refueling with a flight of four F-15 fighter jets was in 30 minutes so I decided to turn off the autopilot and hand-fly for proficiency. The horizon, which I was using as a reference point, was suddenly lost as I entered a bank of unexpected clouds. I continued to hand-fly and my plan was to maintain “straight and level flight” until I exited the clouds. After a short period of time my Co-Pilot cautioned me that we were in a slight bank and a descent. “Impossible,” my physiological senses told me. I am wings level and at a steady altitude! This young Lieutenant doesn’t know who he’s flying with...The Ace of the Base, Captain Mike McGovern! Fortunately my hubris subsided enough for me to look at my instruments to verify the situation. He was right! I was in a descending turn. How could that be? But I had been taught to overcome the intense objections from my senses and trust my instruments, therefore I made the necessary corrections, climbed back up to our altitude, returned to my original heading, thanked the Co Pilot, and engaged the autopilot. The aerial refueling was uneventful while taking place on the most beautiful evening of my 43 year aviation career!