September 16, 2018
Updated - Bear Fruit
Fruit - 09/16/18
A few years ago, we were decorating Roger's room and we made this thing out of pallet art. Have any of you done the pallet art stuff? Then you know what I’m talking about. So I made this shark. I cut it out and it was really cool, man. I might put that on Facebook. It’s the one creative thing I've done in my life, but it was awesome. We made this thing and we were going to hang it on his wall. The problem was it was basically a pallet and so it was really, really heavy. So I decided that in order for it to hang on the wall, and this is the not very creative part of me, that we needed to use sixteen penny nails in our wall to make sure that it stayed up there. And, of course, it needed to be in studs.
So Natasha and I go down and get the nails and we’re up in Roger's room. This is about the time or right before my parents moved out. They actually were in the process of moving out. They lived with us for about a year when they first came to Carrollton. I remember they were there and Natasha and I were upstairs. Natasha begged me when we got started saying, “ I'm begging you, please, don’t just tap on the wall to find a stud.” You know what I'm talking about. A tap on the wall. Why do we tap on things? That's just weird now. Guys tap on fruit in the grocery store, like watermelons. I don't get that, but there's just something in you. When I walk by things, I’m like, what is that? I don't know what that's about, but it's something. I don't know if that's something that's created in the image of God thing that just makes us do that. I don't know.
Anyhow, I told Natasha no, we'll just tap on the walls and I can find where the studs are on the wall. Natasha begged me, BEGGED me to go downstairs and find the little battery operated stud finder and use that. I said, “Babe, you are a stud finder. We're good. We don't need that thing.” So I went about my thing and I knocked on the wall. I’m like, tap, tap. See, there’s no problem. Give me the nail.” Tap, tap, thump” The nail goes all the way in. Hopefully, y'all know what I'm talking about, right? Y'all HAVE done this, right?
I'm like, “Okay, I know this does here. I heard it. Did you hear it, baby?” She rolls her eyes at me as she says,” Yes, I heard it.” I'm saying, “It has to be right here. So I'll just slide the nail over a quarter of an inch. I had to have just barely missed it.” Tap, tap, thump! I'm at this point, oh, junk, right? Y’all know where this story heads, Natasha is begging me at this point, “Just stop. I don't want a thousand holes in Roger's wall. I'm begging you, please stop.” But no! I have a point to prove at this point. I know there is a stud in this wall and, obviously, this is faulty construction. It cannot be my problem, and I'm going to find this stud. So long story short, if you go to Roger's room today, there's probably about eight holes lined up about an inch apart from each other. But I did find the stud, ultimately. I found this stud and I remember it, vividly.
Have any of you ever done that and been in a situation like this with your wife where it gets a little tense? Anyone? Awesome. Are any of y'all liars? Anyone a teetotal liar in here this morning? So we're up there and at this point it’s battle on, right? At this point I am thinking, “I’m the man. I know how to find a stud. I know how to hang pictures. Woman, you just sit there." She's over there thinking, “You’re the man, huh, you’re an idiot. You obviously know nothing.” It's just tense at this point and we're not really saying mean things like that, but that's in our head. There's the tension of (Natasha) “I told you to just go get that stud finder.” (Shannon) “I told you I can do it right.” Anyone? Y’all ever been in similar scenarios? Yesterday, maybe this morning. So we're going through that and it was just this intensity of “yuck” that you don't like to feel in a conversation. We both wanted to win. It was ugly, it was nasty and you could just cut the tension with a knife in Roger's room.
Just about the time that it's escalating and we're about to let it explode with each other, my mom yells up the steps that they’re leaving. They would come over to pick up some stuff and leave and head over to their house. I remember my mom yells up the steps and she goes, “Hey guys, just want to let you know we're leaving.” And Natasha goes from “Pffft, pffft” to me, and turns and yells sweetly to mom, “Ok, love you!” And I'm like “What the heck happened just now? You were like this angry person and then all of a sudden you were all sweetness.” Now I need to say this. Natasha knows, I tell these stories. She actually, this past week, was joking around and said, “I cannot wait until I get to preach.” She said, “I'm just going to tell story after story after story.” So Natasha will never be preaching. Sorry, babe.
But in all seriousness, you guys know that, I mean. I literally had to go back three years to find an instance like this. There's plenty of stories about me but we won't go there. But what happened in that moment? What took place in that moment? Seriously, what was going on? Natasha and I are at each other. We're doing our thing. My mom yells up the stairs and says, “Hey, we're leaving,” and Natasha goes, “Okay, love you. Bye.” What happened? I'll tell you, Heart change happened. You guys are going, “No, that’s not heart change. That was being fake.” No, no, understand heart change happened. You guys help me out. This is a classroom setting here. What did I desire? What was I desiring? I'm hammering nail after nail after nail into the wall. Somebody help me out. What do I want? I want to be right. I want to be right! I want to. I want a wife that respected me, right? My heart craved, my heart was longing for a wife that would think I was amazing. A wife that thought I was a stud. A wife that goes, “Yes sir, you are. You are wonderful. You're never wrong. I bow down to your authority.” Right? Of course, I'm not saying that, but the reality was in that moment up in that room, that's what I wanted. I wanted a wife that adored me. Now, is anything wrong with that? Anything wrong with that? No, but, man, when it becomes my prime concern, when it becomes what I want more than anything else in this life, in that moment, it reeks havoc. So then you turn to Natasha and you're like, “Oh, poor Natasha, she's got an idiot of a husband. Of course, she reacted that way because she just wanted to honor the Lord with her life.” No, I'm telling you, she's wicked, man.
Then in that moment, what did Natasha want? She wanted to be right. She wanted a husband, that wasn't an idiot, that would respect her opinion, that would listen to what she'd have to say, that she wouldn't have to argue with, that she wouldn't have to debate with. She could actually go, “You know what, I remember I did have a much higher GPA than you in high school and college. I'm much smarter than you. I’ll even be willing to walk down the stairs and get the stud finder. If you'll just please, please, please, please do what I ask you to do.”
Is there anything wrong with that? Anything wrong with that? No, there's not, but when that becomes her primary concern in life! But you’re going, “That's not her primary concern in life.” Oh, but you better believe in that moment…! See, the Gospel takes place in the everyday mundane moments of life. We wonder why we can't handle life when all of a sudden something like cancer hits us upside the face, or we lose a child, or a loved one, or lose a job, or our finances go haywire, or a spouse cheats on us. When we can't live out the gospel in everyday mundane conversation, then that’s when the Gospel need to take root.
So that's what we desired and that's what we wanted. In that moment did Natasha become fake with my mom? No, it was heart change? See, the object of her worship genuinely did change. Did it change to the right thing? Somebody helped me out. You're going, “Ah, I don't know. It seemed like she responded correctly. It seemed like that her heart was pure in that and all of a sudden she was sweet, loving Natasha.” Y'all know what I'm talking about? Have y’all ever been talking to somebody getting chewed out by somebody, and then they answered the phone. Have you ever done that? You ever done that? You're onto your kids and the phone rings. You tell the kids, “You DON’T go anywhere!” Then you answer the phone and go sweetly, “Hey” Y'all come on now. Y'all know. Yeah, that's heart change. That's worship. It's not the correct object of worship. But in that moment, what did Natasha want more than anything in the world? She wanted me to listen, but then all of a sudden when my mom broke into the conversation, her heart shifted. Her heart changed. What did she want then? She wanted approval of her mother-in-law. See, I'm terrible at hiding my feelings, but in that moment, Natasha desperately wanted to measure up and be the sweet daughter-in-law and get the approval of my mother. Again, is it wrong to want approval of your mother-in-law? No, but again, when that's what we crave more than anything, when that becomes the object of our heart's affection, when that takes the place of God who is supposed to be who we bow down, who we worship, who we glorify, it wreaks havoc. It wreaks havoc!
James will tell us it's a heart issue. We're going to be in James 4. We're going to talk about briefly, this morning, how do we genuinely change our heart’s affection. We talked about last week, understanding our identity in Christ and who we are in Christ, and that is key to being able to humbly come before Jesus and who we are. Who are we? What is our identity? Somebody help me out. What's our identity, Church. Christ! When our true identity is Christ, when we truly understand that this person that I am, this guy that wants to knock holes in a wall so he can prove he's right, or this woman who wants to argue with her husband so that she can prove she's right, and be god of their own kingdom, the reality is that's my behavior. Scripture tells me that's not who I am, that I am the righteousness of God, that Christ is now my identity. We talked last week, because of that, we can humbly come before the throne with full confidence and understanding of what we've been given in this grace that God has given us, and we can repent. So this week, we'll look at, “How do we change our heart’s affection?” How do we begin to worship what we’re truly meant to worship so that ultimately our lives can bear fruit and be the abundant life that God desires for us to have? James 4 is where we're going to be. I'm going to pray and then we'll get into it.
God, thank you so much for your Word. God. I thank you for your grace. I thank you for your mercy above anything this morning. God, I pray that folks that come in here today understand that you are a loving, incredible, gracious Father that would go to no ends to bring us back to you, and so, God, we love you for that. We thank you for that and we submit our lives to you for that. God, as we open up your Word this morning, I pray that you would just speak to us. God, I pray that your Word will become clear, that the Gospel would become alive in our hearts and ultimately alive in our families, our workplaces, in our schools and neighborhoods, and our churches, so that a world can see who you are and you can receive the glory that you deserve. So God speak to us now. Get me out of the way. In Jesus' name. Amen.
So James 4 is where we're going to be in. James is writing to the church again. Remember we looked at James 1 a few weeks ago and James is writing to the persecuted church here in Jerusalem that is going through it and he says, “Listen, now. Here's what we want to do, because it's really easy to point the finger at everybody else.” James 4:1 says, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?” If I asked you that question, what's our general response? Somebody help me out. If I say, "What's causing the quarrels and fights among you?” What's your response going to be? Yeah. The reality is we want to point at everybody else, don't we? We want to say, “Well, of course you were to blame, you moron. If you wouldn't put seventeen holes in a wall, than your wife wouldn't respond that way. You're the problem, right? If my kids would act the way they're supposed to act, that's what causing the quarrels. My neighbor just doesn't listen. My neighbor just keeps doing that same old thing. They won't shut their dog up. It's driving me nuts. It's my neighbor's fault. That's what's causing the quarrels and fights among me.”Let me go down the list of life, in the workplace, my boss, my coworker, my husband, my wife, my kids and we touched on this last week. James says, “What's causing the quarrels and fights among you?” Don't they come from what? Evil desires! And they are at war within you and James goes, “You know what? Quit pointing the finger at everybody else again.”
We talked a few weeks ago about the water in the bottle. We want to look at everybody else and we want to go, “Well, you know, Shannon, you deserve what you get. Natasha is justified to act that way.” Let's be real careful how we use that word justify, because there is one God who can justify. His name is Jesus Christ. There is one God who can make us right, who can make us holy, and His name is Jesus Christ, and we cannot be Him.
Well, we want to point at everybody else and say, “Shannon, if you wouldn't do that thing, if you wouldn't tip me, then water wouldn't come out.” The problem is, and this is the beauty of the Gospel, is that we have a God who allows us to go through suffering, who allows us to be married to a wife or a husband, or to have kids, or to be in the workplace, or to have neighbors, or to have family, or to get cancer, or go down the list of live trials. We talked about this a few weeks ago, that Jesus promises, “Listen, you WILL have trouble in this world. You can't avoid it. You will have trouble, but take heart. I've overcome the world and what I want to do is I want to give you an abundant life, a fruitful life in the middle of a broken world, and one day you will be with the Father in eternity, but for now God wants to do a work in you, our future hope. He's promised that He's started this work in us, and he will complete it. He will not stop, and so God looks at me and He says, “Shannon, quit pointing. at your wife. Of course she tipped you. Why? Because she's human.” I answer, “But I deserve… I deserve… I deserve…”
God goes, “What? You deserve what? Romans is clear, what you deserve is death. What you deserve is condemnation, but I love you so much that I gave my Son. This is the Gospel. You ready? I love you so much that I chose not to give you what you deserve. Before time ever began, I knew I was going to have to pay this price and I gave you my Son and He lived a perfect life that you can't live. He died a death that you're not worthy to die, and He rose from the dead.” We talked about it a couple of weeks ago in Galatians 2:20. It is because of that, that I have now been crucified with Christ and it's no longer I who live. It's Christ who lives in me. He's my identity.
Then James goes on and He says, “You want what you don't have, so you scheme and you kill to get it. In other words, I want the respect of my wife. I want my wife to tell me I'm amazing again. Is that a bad thing, Church? No, but when I want my wife to think that I hung the moon more than I want anything else in this life, it is a wicked, terrible, sinful, destructive thing. And James says, “So you manipulate, you kill, you scheme.” I put her in positions where she can't win, so that she has to respect me, so that she has to love me. I argue and I debate and I back her into a corner until she has to admit that I'm right. Why? Because all I want… Do you hear the language we use? “All I want right now, all I want. I just want you to listen.” Even the language we use as we're talking about this, I just want you to listen. I only want you to listen. Do you hear that. It’s wrong. It is. Is it a bad desire for me to want my wife to listen? No, but when that's what I want more than anything in the world? I talked about it last week, Brad Bigney says, “We do what we do because we want what we want.” When I care more about my wife's admiration, my wife's respect, my wife's adoration for me more than anything. It wreaks havoc.
James says, “You are killing yourself. So you scheme and you kill to get it. You're jealous of what others have, but you don't get it, so you fight and you wage war to take it away from them. You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.” Then we take this verse and we're like, “There it is. I just need to ask God for the respect of my wife. If I just want a godly husband, or a godly wife, or a godly kid, or a godly workplace, whatever, then I just need to ask God for it and then James says, I'll get it.” Then James goes on. He goes, “No! you still are missing the point. That's not the point.” James says, “Even when you ask, you don't get it.” Why? What's he say? Because your motives are all wrong, and again, here's the Gospel. The Gospel is “I'm broken. I need a Savior. I've tried to find worth in my entire life and everything else, but the one reason I was created was to find my worth, my hope, my value, my meaning, my everything in God, the Creator and I chose to be god of my own kingdom, and so I keep trying to live life that way., So even when I go before the Father and say, “Father, I just want a godly wife. I just want a wife that loves the way a wife is supposed to love, that honors you.” At the end of the day, the reality is more times than not, the real reason I want that is because I want my kingdom to be what I want my kingdom to be. So God looks at me and says, “So what are you really trying to find your hope in, Shannon? What are you really trying to find your worth in?”
See, the reality is, as Christians, we talk a good talk. I think I mentioned it last week, we try to take an apple tree and rip the apples off of it and staple pears to it and say it, “Look, now I'm a pear tree.” But the reality is when life hits, when a new season rolls around, your heart will show. I think James would say it this way, as he goes on. I think he would say, “What is it that you really want, Shannon?” You can't fake that. You can't. You can't pretend. What does your heart really desire? Have you truly crucified yourself? Have you really laid down your life and said, “Lord, I can't do it on my own anymore. I want you more than anything. I want you more than I want my wife, more than I want this healthy life, more than I desire finances, more than I want kids that honor you with their life, more than I want security, more than I want this church. Lord, I want you more than anything. I want to honor you with my life.” James would say, “What's your heart really desire? What's your heart really worshiping? You can't fake that. Can't pretend you're an apple tree, when you're a pear tree. You’ve got to dig it up from the root.” So how do we do that?
We got to visit this little place out in Griffin a couple of weeks ago. Y'all check out this video.
(Video of Shannon visiting and feeding rescued grizzly bears at Noah’s Ark in Griffin, Georgia. Transcript following is from video)
Hey, what's up, SoHills? We are here at Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary in Griffin, Georgia and we're going to meet some bears.
Hi, nice to meet you, Allison.
Hi. Welcome to Noah's Ark. So, first time here?
It is, thank you for having us here.
You want to see some bears?
That's the deal. We're going to see some bears.
Well, we have eight bears here. They're all rescued. We're an animal sanctuary. We have about two hundred fifty acres with over fifteen hundred animals. Most animals come from pretty rough situations. People had them as pets or they were from roadside zoos or circuses. So let's go up and I'll introduce you to some of the bears… Alright. So we are here. We are outside Annalou’s enclosure. This is where the normal public walks when they do their self guided tours. We have a big sixteen foot fence and then the animals are behind an additional one.
That's a good thing!
Yes, it is. So you get special privileges, special VIP access. We're going to go inside of the perimeter fence and meet Annalou.
(Allison gives Shannon some food to feed the bear through the inner fence.)
When bears are hungry, they get up. Hold it up high above her head. There you go. Are your hands shaking?
Yes, it’s a bear! Oh my goodness. Yes!
(Shannon is given some other food to feed the bear, including grapes.)
That was really amazing. Thanks so much, Allison. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat and I will definitely be letting people know you guys are here and appreciate what you did.
Glad you made it out with your ten fingers.
So, that was pretty intense. I think this might be a little more my speed right here for real guys. (Looking at a small turtle.) Allison was awesome. I highly recommend if you get a chance, it's worth the drive to come out here to Griffin and check this place out.
So yeah, for real, that's a really cool place to go to. Noah's Ark out in Griffin. It's really cool what they're doing to rescue abused animals. We had a really cool time. I don't know if y'all could tell that those were grizzly bears. That first one, the claws on that thing were like that big and the fangs on it, you couldn't see them, were about the same. She gave me a grape, and literally I'm shaking because she said, “Give it a grape.” I was like, “How do I feed it a grape?” The other stuff I was shoving it in because the teeth are like huge on it. And she said, “No, just hold it up there and it'll suck it out of your fingers.” It like wraps its lips around my fingers and goes “Slurp” and just sucks it out. I was terrified, man, I ain't gonna lie.
I asked her, “Do you guys ever go into the cages?” And she said, “NO, we don't go into the cages!” I asked, “Why not?” She said, “Because it's a bear!” And I was like, But they’re tame. You feed them.” She said, and listen to this, “A bear is a bear at its core. It's a bear. There's one thing that a bear wants.” Well, what's a bear want? Anybody got any guesses? “Food,” she said, “There's one thing a bear wants.” I can't remember how much food she said it ate per day, but it's ridiculous. She said, “Right now that bear is doing what it needs to do to get that food from you, and make no mistake, you walk in there and if that bear decides it wants food, it's going to do what it needs to do to get food from you.”
So what's that mean for us, Christian? Here's the thing, we're not playing games with this. I'm talking to you believers right now. Really and truly ask yourselves what is it you really want? I mean, have you truly laid down your life and said, “Lord, none of this other stuff I want.” Make no mistake. I mean, well like, yeah, that bear is all cute behind the cage, but it's going to do what it needs to do to get what it wants. And as human beings outside of Christ, that's who we are. That's what we do, but here's the beauty, man. We aren't bears. We have a soul. We are created in the image of God and our heart can change. So how does that happen?
Romans 12, Paul says it this way. Flip over to Romans 12. I encourage you guys, Romans 12:1-2, highlight and underline it. Circle it, glue it on your wall, whatever you've got to do, man, this is the Gospel at its core. Paul gets done with Romans, chapters one through eleven, explaining the Gospel, and then he says, “Now that you understand this, and so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you, give your bodies to God. Why? Because of the Gospel, because of what he's done to you” And then he goes on to say, “Because of all He’s done for you, let your bodies, let your life be a living and holy sacrifice.” What does that mean? That means when my wife doesn't honor me the way I want to be honored, I lay down my life, I lay down what I think I deserve. I lay down my rights and I sacrifice and I love her anyway. When my husband is a jerk, wife, when I'm not getting what I desire, Paul says, lay down your life. Let your life be a living and holy sacrifice.
You go, “ No, you're taking that out of context.” No, I'm not. Read Ephesians 5 before he gets into husband and wife talk, he says, “Listen, submit to one another.” What we like to say is submit to one another out of reverence and love for each other, but Paul doesn't say that. He tells the Church at Ephesus. “Further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” not because your spouse deserves it, not because your boss deserves it, not because your buddy at the workplace deserves it, not because you deserve it. You lay down your life, you give up your rights. You crucify Shannon so Christ can live for no other reason except reverence for Christ. What's your heart’s desire? What are you really worshiping? It'll come out, I promise, so how do we change that?
Then Paul goes on. He says, “Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he'll find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and the customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person.” Well, how do we do that? By what? What's it say next? By changing the way you think? See, we think life's about us. News flash! It's not. A guy gave me this bracelet this morning, Paul DeMent. He said, “Here, wear this.” It says, “It's not about you.” That's the gospel. Life's not about us, but we think in the flesh and we go, “No, it is.”
When I got married, I said that we were going to commit to each other. We're going to love each other, that we're going to speak each other's love languages and blah, blah, blah. But the reality is no. When I got married, I chose to say, my life is no longer about me. I lay down my rights, we have now become one in this covenantal union with each other, and so I'm going to serve you even when I don't feel like it, even when you don't deserve it. Why? Not because you deserve it, but out of reverence for Christ and then that transfers to every aspect of our life.
Let me show you how this practically plays itself out. I used to think life was about me, and this was several years ago. I go to bed early on Saturday nights because I get up early on Sunday mornings. The kids know this. They're like scared of Dad on Saturday nights. I mean the house turns into a ghost town around 8:30 and they'd had some friends over on a Saturday night. We don't normally do that. We've got a movie room up above us and they had gone upstairs. I don't even remember who all was up there, honestly, but it was three or four guys and they were upstairs. I don't know, it was probably 9:30, 10:00, and all the sudden we hear boom, boom, boom, boom. Natasha goes up there. She's like, “Remember, you know, dad's grumpy. He’s got to get up in the morning, and let's be quiet.” Then fast forward about 11:30, midnight, something like that. All of a sudden we hear boom, boom, boom, boom, right above me again. This time Dad comes up out of a dead sleep, right? An ogre, Dad heads upstairs. It probably took me fifteen seconds to get from my room to the other end of the house to upstairs, back to the other end of the house. Sling open the door and you can see the kids eyes like, “Oh, gosh, we've awakened the giant!” Right? It's on. I unleashed on them about how disrespectful they were and about how important I am and what I have to do in the morning. When you guys do this, all of these people are not going to go to heaven because of me and because of what you did. I just unleashed on them and I tell them how terrible they are and how horrible kids they are. That's the summarized version. But that's basically what I did for about ten minutes. You know what? I got sleep the rest of the night. I got peace and quiet. They were quiet, but you know what they didn't get. They didn't understand who Jesus was and what He wants to do in their life in that moment. I was actually going through this study at the time.
Fast forward a few months later, exact same scenario happened. I got out of bed. I go, thankfully though, I began to change the way I think and remember, “Oh yeah, my life isn't about my kingdom because my kingdom sucks. My kingdom wreaks havoc. My kingdom brings death and destruction. I was never meant to be God.” So as I'm getting up the stairs, I'm going, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing? What am I doing?” I opened the door and the kids had the same look on their face. We've done it again, but this time we spent about forty-five minutes talking about why it's important to honor this time on Saturday nights in a loving grace filled way. Now, here's the beauty of it. My kids actually understood who God is and His grace in that moment. Ultimately, I got some sleep. It actually cost me forty-five minutes more of sleep but I had a loving, redemptive God centered grace filled conversation with my kids and they understood the gospel more and more.
Fast forward to last night, you're not going to believe this. This totally was not planned, but Micah comes in the room last night about 9:00 and he's like, “Dad, aren't you preaching tomorrow?” And I said, “Yeah, but I'm good.” He's say, “Okay.” You know, Micah is the only one at home now, so he's quiet. I get up this morning and I could tell he had cooked something in the microwave and it was in the sink, but he didn't wash the dishes on Saturday night because it'll wake me up. The kitchen's right beside our room. I looked at the microwave when I'm leaving and it was stopped at one second. You know why it was stopped at one second? Because when that thing goes off, it goes “beep, beep, beep.” Now here's the beauty of this. I didn't tell Micah to do that. I didn't. I didn't go, “Hey, you better because this is my kingdom.” Because I learned that God did not give me His grace to build up my little kingdom, but God gave me His grace to invite me to a better kingdom. See, now my kids understand that it's important that they respect their father. Not because I'm anybody, because I'm a sinner and I'm a loser. They understand that they need to respect their father because they serve a God.
They love their father out of reverence for Christ. I love my wife out of a reverence for Christ. I serve those who I don't want to serve out of reverence for Christ. That's the Gospel, man. It's life changing, Church and I'm begging you, I'm begging you, if you can wrap your head around that and say, “You know what? I'm done living for me. Crucify me. I want Christ to live.” It's a game changer. You'll never be the same. It's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control, and it's life, and life to the full.
So what do you want? Some of you guys need to take that first step today. I encourage you to do that. We've got somebody in just a minute that's going to be baptized. That's saying, “Yes, I'm in. Let's do this.” We got people over here that would love to pray with you. I would love to talk with you. Maybe you need to go and talk to your wife, talk to whoever you need to. Trust God and the Gospel and His promises.
God, we love you. We thank you for your grace. We thank you for your mercy. God, we thank you that you are so patient with us and you do not give up on us. Most of all, we thank you for Jesus Christ, for living a life that we're not able to live, for dying a death, that we're not worthy to die, so that we could have life, so that I might be the righteousness of God. We thank you for that truth. Now may we walk in that truth and may the world be drawn to you because of it. In Jesus' name, Amen.