June 10, 2018
Well, good morning everybody. How's everybody doing? Excellent. Excellent. We're going to jump right into this second week that we are in this series. This morning I get to talk about passion. Being passionate is definitely something that I struggle with myself. That was supposed to be funny but nobody laughed. It's too late now. We're going to talk about passion this morning and what keeps you up at night?
When I was a kid in high school and fifteen years old to be exact, I'll never forget I was sitting down in front of a teleprompter for the first time ever in my life knowing that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My dream as a fifteen year old kid was to be a journalist, a TV journalist. As a matter of fact, I had a business card that I would give whenever there was an event in our town. If the news crew came to town, or if I was in Atlanta and I saw the news people, I had a business card that I would give anybody and everybody that had anything to do with journalism, because I wanted to sit them down for lunch and hang out with them. On the business card, it said, Keith Trollinger, the next Dan Rather. That was my dream!
There's some pictures that are going to come up. That was my dream. My dream was to be a journalist. I wanted to live in New York, across the street from NBC. I wanted to do “NBC Nightly News with Keith Trollinger.” That was my goal. So as a kid growing up, to tell you that I loved journalism is an understatement. It's pretty much what I spent my life doing up until about the age of twenty. I got to interview a ton of people. One of my highlights was Bill Clinton, who obviously was a president that term. I got to be a part of the White House press corps. This is a picture of me. I interned at Georgia Public Television right before I went into ministry.
I was at Clear Channel. I did national sports on the radio or national news on the radio and I did a football show on Friday nights. I worked with the Atlanta Falcons, and a lot of post game interviews and stuff like that. This was my dream. This picture that you see right now, sort of epitomizes where I wanted to be. This is the news desk at CNN. I was eighteen years old. My passion and my love! I wanted to cycle back around to this desk ten years later in my life. I was eighteen in this picture. So in ten years, I wanted to own the news, lead the news as an anchor. Whether it was CNN or NBC or whatever, it was my dream.
I was passionate about it. As a high school kid and going into college, this embodied everything about who I was. When I was graduating, there was this kid in high school who gave me a napkin. This was my senior year, last week of school. He asked me, “Sign this napkin.” I asked, “Why?” He answered, “I want to be the first person that has your autograph.” That was my dream in this picture at CNN. Epitomizes where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. This was my passion.
Psalm 37:4 says this, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Listen to this video of Jesse Pirkle:
VIDEO: If I go back a few years ago, I was in school at West Georgia studying psychology. I really had this desire to understand people and counsel them so that they could live happier lives, better lives, communicate better, all the normal stuff. Really, I guess from stuff that had happened in my childhood, I really wanted to understand people and to understand myself. So the natural counsel and wisdom I received from people in school all the way back to high school was go to school for psychology. So that's what I did. I devoted myself to that. I'm really enjoyed what I was learning there. I bought into what I was learning about people, and why they do the things they do, and some of the things they do. I started to shift around in my life, got engaged in college, but then my grandfather passed away the day after my engagement, which was a pretty, pretty hard time.
I was with Shannon, who was bringing me back home to meet my family since my grandfather passed away. We had been on a youth trip with my life group of students. Shannon was really listening and asking good questions about what I was passionate about. He knew I was in school for psychology, wanting to counsel. He invited me to a Biblical counseling training conference. I committed and went. While I was there, a lot of things happened. God really began to change everything, my world view, what I believed about people and the Gospel and about God. I really think that is where this happened. What verse six says. God said, “Let your light shine out of darkness as shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
I think at that conference in particular is where God said to my heart, “Let there be light.” What I began to see in the Bible and particularly in the Gospel was that our biggest problem was that we'd rebelled against God and wanted our own glory. That and I began to see in myself that I was really seeking my own glory in the disguise of wanting to help other people. I think at the most basic level, what has changed my passions has been my desires to glorify God rather than myself. So I was no longer out to make a name for myself in the counseling world, but to be an ambassador for Christ. The way Paul says it, is to plead with people to be reconciled to God.
The most immediate cost was when I was sitting in classes at the university really beginning to see things differently. There were some classes that I sat through that were just such a burden for me to sit in and listen, knowing that the other forty people in the room were really buying into something that falls short. So I was really burdened for my classmates. I was burdened for my professors who happily taught those things that they believed. It cost me some grades as well, as I began to write differently for classes. I had a lot of family members telling me that I was not going to make any money doing this. They would say the Biblical counseling you're talking about, you’re not even charging people for that. How are you going to survive? How are you going to support your wife, because by then we were married. So as I weighed the cost then, and by the grace of God, I made the decision to look to where I am now.
There's no doubt in my mind that I would make the same decision. I would make it even sooner if I could, because God has become the foundation of my joy, and foundation of my peace. The foundation of my purpose in life is now to glorify Him in everything that I do Obviously, I still care about people being happy, living good lives, and communicating well in their marriages, but I think the only way that's going to happen for the course of their lives is by desiring God. So maybe your story's a little different than mine. But the way that I already had some kind of passionate to help people, God just flipped it to doing it His way. No longer living for myself. Maybe you're thinking that you don't really have that kind of passion. You just don’t. You wouldn't even know where to start even if you did. Out of your love for Him, out of your desire to glorify God, serve people, work hard, don't complain. In Philippians, Paul says that if we don't complain and grumble, we’re going to shine like stars in a crooked and twisted generation.
So in the video this morning, Jesse nails it, man. He said two things. One, he wanted to make a name for himself and two, it was for his glory. He went into making a name for himself. I'm not going to say this about everybody, but I think a lot of us when we start out in life, especially as kids, we dream with an imagination. We think,“I want to make a name for myself.” Then God flips that. He takes our passions and when we delight in Him. They become His passions. “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ultimately, as you delight, as you take pleasure in Christ, in God, your desires become his desires and everything is flipped. It's a miracle in and of itself, honestly, how God flips everything in our passion to become His passion. God can take our uniqueness and how He created us to passionately bring glory to Him.
So, that’s what we're talking about this morning. Passion. Let me jump into this. This is in Philippians 1, where we're going to be. I'm going to start in verse twelve. Read through this. And then dude, we're going to unpack this morning. So let's go. Philippians 1:12. “And I want you to know my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that's happened here to me has helped us spread the good news for everyone here, including the whole palace guard, who know that I'm in chains because of Christ. Because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear. It's true. There's some who are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry, but others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preached because they love me, for they know that I'd been appointed to defend the good news.” Verse seventeen. “Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me, but that doesn't matter whether their motives are false or genuine. The message about Christ is being preached in either way, so I rejoice and I will continue to rejoice for I know that as you pray for me in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, it helps me.” That's significant right there. “This will lead to my deliverance. I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ as I've been in the past and I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ whether I live or die.” To me, this is the kicker. Living means living for Christ and then it says to live is Christ and dying is even better. Verse Twenty Two. “But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ's passion, so really I don't know which is better. I'm torn between the two desires to go and be with Christ, which would be better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live knowing this. I'm convinced that I’ve remained alive so that I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.”
Let me pray and then we'll break this down.
Lord, thank you for this morning and God speak in us. If our passions have been about serving us, God, may you transform it to be your desire and your passion and that God, you would use our creativity, and our uniqueness and our giftedness to take the Gospel exactly where we are. In your name we pray. Amen.
So what does Godly passion look like? That's the first question. What does Godly passion look like? The first thing is that Godly passion looks like conviction. In this text we see that Paul is convicted when you read in verse eighteen, and in verse sixteen. I'm going to be skipping around a lot in here, but in verse sixteen, he says, “they preach because they love me, for they know that I've been appointed to defend the good news.” Paul has the conviction that he has been appointed to not only preach the good news, but to defend it. There's a conviction that Paul has and Godly passion produced this conviction.
So the first question that we could ask ourselves this morning is, What conviction do you have about where it is that you live? Is the gospel a part of that system or that culture or that environment? Are you convicted that there are lives who are not being changed or formed by the Gospel? The good news, the message. The first thing that we learned is that Godly passion produces conviction. Do you have a conviction? Do we have a conviction in our hearts that Christ is supreme? This happened with me from journalism to ministry. There was a day where I was on the back deck at CCF, at West Georgia, and I'd been living the dream in journalism and Shannon called me one day and said, “Keith, I want you.” I was living out here in Carrollton, and he said, “Hey man, I just want you to consider working with our middle school kids.” I'm thinking, Alright, I could come out on Wednesday nights and help out. That sounds easy to do. In one season, in one moment, God radically begin to transform and change my heart. I remember being convicted by that and standing on the back porch at CCF crying my eyes out. I remember saying, I literally, vividly remember this. My hands were in the air and I'm was looking up on the back porch. I said, God, I will do whatever you want.
Conviction. Do you have conviction? Godly passion produced conviction of a really good friend of mine. He's a principal at a school and a very short time ago, he was faced with a decision that was going to create a lot of conversation. By the way of the world, there was a correct response, but by the Gospel there was a different response. He was willing and ready to respond with the message of Christ. Why? Because he is more convicted about Jesus Christ than he is about his system. Because of that, because of his passion for students, his passion for the Gospel, his passion for his school, he had already resolved in his mind that he was going to stand firm on the Word of God and the decision had been made regardless of the consequences. Why? Because he was convicted, he was convicted.
The second thing is that Godly passion produces risk. This is what we were created to do. We were created to take risk, and Godly passion produces risk. Look at verse twenty, Paul is literally dependent on Christ because of risk. “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but then I will continue to be bold for Christ as I've been in the past and I trust that my life will bring honor to Jesus whether I live or die." Risk. Godly passion produces risk and we know how it turns out for Paul and all of the disciples. They risk their lives. They were willing and ready to give up their lives. My friend, the principal, was willing to give up his career because he was going to make a foundational decision based on the Gospel. He was willing to take the risk. Godly passion produces risk. Often times I hear people say, “I don't bring up my faith in work because I don't want to offend people.” That's the opposite. You are removing yourself from the gospel of Jesus. The Gospel produces passion. Godly passion produces risk and, yes, it's dangerous. It's dangerous, but they need to know Jesus. Where are we taking risk in our life? Godly passion produces risk.
The third thing is Godly passion produces cost. It's going to cost us something godly. Passion produces cost. Verse twenty one. “For me, living means for Christ and dying is even better.” Paul knew this. You can go back and look, and we don't have time to look at it this morning, but we see Paul, he was a stud of studs, a Hebrew of Hebrews. He was an intellectual genius when it came to Hebrew and Greek and when it came to understanding and what it meant to be a Jew during the culture in that town. He considered everything. What loss he considered to all of it. He lost all of his accolades, his resume, where he had been. What have you done? All the pain that he had gone through. He considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ Jesus, showing intimacy with Christ. He considered it all the loss. Why? Because he realized that Godly Passion produces cost. Are we willing to cost? It's going to cost you something. Let's go ahead and realize that. Guess what? Loving Christ is going to cost me something. So tomorrow when we get up, and we go to work, it's going to cost me something. That's a guarantee. Guess what? That's okay because we can trust Jesus. We can trust him. It's going to cost you something.
The fourth thing is that Godly passion produces fruit. Verse Twenty Two. “But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ, so I really don't know which is better. To stay here, or depart and be with Christ, but what I do know is that if I remain, it's going to produce fruit and this just isn't normal fruit, eternal fruit, Godly passion, producers and eternal fruit that affects and impacts eternity.” Guys, when we're at work or at school or wherever we're at and we're having Godly conversations with our employers or our employees, that are impacting eternity, it's shifting the trajectory of that person's life or our life. So Godly passion produces fruit. Think about it in the context of where you work and where you live. Are we bearing fruit? Are we literally? Are we impacting? Are we the environment? Are we changing the culture? Are we changing individuals with the gospel of Jesus Christ that produces fruit?
The fifth thing is that Godly passion produces joy. Godly passion in the midst of conviction, in the midst of risk and opposition, in the midst of costs, in the midst of bearing fruit, it produces joy. You would never think that we would receive joy when things cost us something or if there's risk or even an opposition, because where do we find Paul? Here? He's in prison, so he's clearly facing opposition, but it produces joy. Go back to verse eighteen. He says, “Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message of Christ is preached either way, and so I'll rejoice and I will continue to rejoice.” There's joy. He's in prison, but he's seeing the gospel advance through people, and so there's joy. There's joy in Paul's life. Verse twenty five. There’s courage, there's competence, there's peace, there's excitement in Paul's life. Godly passion produces joy. When it doesn't make sense to everybody around us, his passion produces joy.
I want to say this is it. I think this is an interesting thing and I don't want us to gloss over this. I had this hit me the other night as I'm laying at night, which is when I often think about my passion which is, of course, student culture and student ministry. There's a lot of costs. There's a lot of opposition, there's a lot of risk, there's conviction, there's fruit and there's joy and often times at night, that's what I think about when I’m laid up in bed at night. I'm just constantly thinking about how do we reach students? How do I get students to make disciples? How do I reach administrators on their campus? How do I reach coaches, and people who influence students, What more can we do? What more can we do? So as I'm thinking about this at night, man, this hits me. Circumstance. This whole scene hit me. This word “circumstance.” Paul is in prison. His circumstance has changed dramatically. Circumstance never dilutes Godly passion. It only increases. It's concentrated and when applied, it has dramatic effects. The passion of Paul only increased while he was in prison. It didn't decrease. It didn't dilute. The concentrate got stronger. As you see through this text that it doesn't matter whether pure or bad, mostly pure, the bottom line is the gospel is being taught, the effects are dramatic, and oftentimes our circumstance dilutes our passion.
Think about that. Our circumstance dilutes our passion. Godly passion is never diluted based on the circumstance that you are in. In fact, it should increase you. Go back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What happens when they're told that they're not to worship, the statutes in the Old Testament? Their passion for God only increases. Judge for yourself. We will honor God. Their passion only increases. Circumstance should never dilute Godly passion. It should heat up. It should grow in us. If we moved this physical building seven thousand miles with all of us sitting in this room, if we literally moved this physical building seven thousand miles to the east, what we're doing right now would have dramatic consequences, and my question is, would we even be here? If we literally took this building, lifted it up in the air fluid, seven thousand miles east, how many people would be sitting in this room this morning? Circumstance increases passion, godly passion. You see it all over China, India, and the Middle East. We don't hear about it because the news is not going to report it, but the Gospel is always growing. There's a cost, there's a risk, there's an opposition, but it only increases.
So for Paul in this text, Jesus has become the deciding factor for him and his choices, and Christ is the supreme of his worship. Much like what Jesse was saying in the video and in my life and journalism, my life was about me. I was the center of my worship and my desires, and Jesus transformed that. He flipped that on its head and they ultimately became his desires. My desires became his desires. Jesus transformed me and what I wanted ultimately was what God always wanted for me. It’s the same for us.
So real quick, what does Godly passion do? That's what Godly passion looks like, but what does it do? Godly, Christlike, Biblical passion pleases God. It pleases God. Last week I was with a student and we were at Loco Max after church hanging out. Steven, who is a 10th grader now at Carrollton and I were just sitting there. He asked, “Keith, what do I tell my friends at school when they ask me why I don't do what they’re doing?” He plays sports. He continues, “Because they’ve asked me. They’re doing things and I don't want to do those things, but when they ask me, what do I tell them?” I just lean back and I said, “Steven, you tell me what you tell them.” He came up with a list and then said this. “Keith, I want to please God.” I said, “Steven, you nailed it because that's what you tell them.” Godly passion pleases God, Sixteen year old kid. You know it, it pleases God. Godly passion glorifies God. It's for Him. It's for Christ. It's not our glory. It makes Him look good. It makes Him famous just like Jesse was saying, I wanted it for my glory. I wanted it for my glory, but Godly passion glorifies God. It makes God famous.
Then the last thing is that Godly passion brings liberation. This is probably the biggest one for me because we see this happening all throughout the New Testament. Godly passion brings liberation to others and to ourselves from sin and the passions of the world. Church, that’s the gospel. How amazing is it to think that you and I are liberators, that God has called us through the Godly passion inside of you and me, that God has called you to bring about liberty to this generation. Wherever you are, you are liberating the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in me. This is for Jesus. Don't think for a second that if you want this Godly passion and you're willing to take risk and face opposition, that I'm going to withhold from putting you in a place, a position where through me or through you, I can bring about liberation to my people who need liberation. It's going to happen. How amazing! Well, just think about that. God wants to use you to bring about liberation. Just settle on that thought. That's an incredible task, That's the gospel.
So what prevents Godly Passion? The first thing is selfishness, self preservation. When we are consumed with ourselves and in protecting ourself, then there's no room for God and we're all about ourselves. This has been a constant struggle for me in this whole transition from where we are, to where we're about to be, just because of some pride issues in me. I shared about it the last time I preached, but just some fraud issues and control issues and trying to determine the outcome. There's no room for Godly passion because I make it about me, and so when we're trying to protect ourselves and preserve ourself, there's no room for it. What kills Godly Passion? Sin. Sin kills Godly passion. In Ephesians 2:1-33, and you can read this on your own time, sin kills the ideals, the dreams that you and I have. Sin kills the dreams and sin kills the will. Remember, all of us were innocent, right? We were young, innocent kids, and some of you, you are still somewhat innocent. What took away the innocence? Sin kills. For some of us in here, we just stopped somewhere pursuing Godly passion along the way. Age sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one. We just stopped and we're just moving through life because sin kills passion.
So how do I get it? How do I get passion, Godly Passion? One incredible verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” We have to see God. We have to be able to see God. So what does this mean? It goes back to the words and language that we've been teaching and it scares a lot of us. God, search me and know me. See if there's anything offensive in me and lead me. That scares a lot of us, but I think a lot of us need a walk through a season of purification, a season of repentance where we're just getting on a notepad and a pen and confessing. We’re just working through it. We're confessing and we're meeting. Get some of our school students on Wednesday night for accountability. Get across from somebody that you trust, and you just confess and confess and say, “I just need to purge myself. I need cleansing, Lord, and I confess so that I can see you, God.”
Psalm 37:4 where you just were says that we begin to seek his will and then we see God. We began to seek his will and in the process of seeking his will, we develop a plan that we need to seek the will of God in our family, and in our workplace. Realize, understand and be prepared for opposition, risk, all of those things, but we need to seek God. It's not science. We know how to see God. We see God. Jesse said it through serving. We see God through the Word of God, through the worship of God. We see God through prayer. I mean this is not new to a lot of us in this room, but then we genuinely authentically begin to seek him in our pursuit of Godly Passion and in that man God gave us. He opens up our eyes. He let's us start to see things. We start taking risks. We start having conversations. We start saying things to people that we naturally wouldn't have said before, but we're trusting in God to lead. We're trusting God with the outcome and that's exactly what Paul did here. He trusted God with the outcome.
Maybe this week is a start for you. Maybe you need to say, "God, give me a place where I can just trust you with the outcome. Give me a position where I trust you with the outcome. Give me a circumstance that I trust you with the outcome." That's Godly passion. Paul's passion was Christ's glory. It was what Christ could do through him. Christ was the beginning, the end, and the inspiration of Paul's life, and I love this. Nobody says this. The writer Elliot says that Paul is saying, “My body will be the theater in which Christ glory is displayed.” Is your body a theater of Godly Passion? Is Christ’s glory displayed.
Remember these three questions to ask yourself? Has your Godly passion been diluted because of circumstance? Has your Godly passion died because of circumstance? Has your Godly passion been killed because of sin? Is your passion what Christ can do through you or what you can do through yourself?
So I would encourage you this morning to wrestle with those three questions. How do I get passionate purification, man seeking the will of God and getting ready. Write out what God tells you to do and act on it. So this morning, if you need to speak with somebody, Shannon, or some of our soul care counselors, we’ll be over here. It's free If you're thinking, I just need somebody to help me in this season of my life, to love me, encourage me, speak wisdom. That's what we're here for. So let's do it. I'm going to pray and then we'll finish up.
Lord, thank you for this morning. God, speak to us about our sin or circumstance. God, may we desire Godly passion and may this week we begin looking differently when it comes to trusting you with the position where you put us. In your name we pray. Amen.