Consult the Circles
April 23, 2023 Speaker: Ken Jensen Series: Guest Speaker
Topic: Trust Passage: Proverbs 3:1–8
Consult The Circles
Guest Speaker: Ken Jensen
(UNEDITED - THERE WILL BE MISTAKES IN TRANSCRIBING)
Well I stood there at the beginning of church and we went through our
worship time. I found myself thinking, I hope everybody hears the sermon from the worship time.
We're really blessed here at Grace with a crew that really owns the worship time.
I often have the blessing of being here when they practice, and I'll tell you that their
hearts in it just as much as when they're practicing as it is when you all are here.
I'm grateful for you guys and I'm grateful for the message that God wove through the
songs this morning.
I would encourage you to lose yourself and worship.
Forget about the week, forget about your kids, forget about the job.
Close your eyes and listen to God as we worship together in the morning.
There's a whole bunch of stuff I want to say before I get to what I was supposed to say.
So I hope you're ready to be here a while.
It was alluded to here.
If you don't know me, my name's Ken.
I'm the other elder here, like we have a real elder and I'm the backup, I guess.
Ellen is with North Baptist Church just a couple of miles from here.
And to sort of refresh the connection with North, we've done a number of things together
to include "Steal Each Other's Pastors."
John Bennett has spoken here a number of times and he's the pastor over there and so Alan is now
returning the favor and speaking at North Baptist. I'm excited about the opportunity today.
I hope to communicate with fidelity something that God's laid on my heart
and we'll see how that goes. I wanted to give you an update so many of you have asked about and
prayed for Kelly and I as I've been on this journey to become certified as a biblical counselor.
So we're just over three and a half years into that journey and I am, I can
see the finish line now. We are 12 sessions from being ready to be certified
by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. And what that means is
is there'll be half as much work every time I have a counseling session.
So I have a counseling session and I have to do that session, but I also have to do,
the kids know, I call it homework.
I do homework afterward because I have to report to my supervisor after the session
and then we interact over the session.
He provides me advice and help and stuff and then we kind of move on there.
It's been an incredible journey and sometimes the question that I get asked is, "Well, what's
next and the truth is I have absolutely no idea that's honest I don't know what
God's gonna do with it down the road but I have this confidence it has drawn me
closer to him and made me more usable and if that's all that's ever
accomplished I'm cool with that. I like, I enjoy now, I didn't when I was younger
but I enjoy now the sense of adventure that comes with not knowing what God's
got next for you so I'd encourage you in that. I'm gonna start with a little story
Sorry, it was several weeks ago now.
My wife and I were going through our normal Saturday morning.
And I think probably everybody here has some semblance of a routine, right?
Usually Monday to Friday the routine is pretty solid and you can't repeat the same routine.
Our Saturdays, I'm famous for asking my wife, "What's going on tomorrow on Friday?"
I literally have no idea. She keeps me where I need to be and allows me to
embarrass myself the least amount possible. So we're going through our
morning routine and I start to pick up on the fact that something's on her mind.
Now if you've been in a relationship for any period of time you recognize that
that stuff grows over time. Kelly and I have been together it'll be 33 years this
summer and then we dated for three before that, so really long time, longer than most
of you, some of you have been around. Not you. So we're just going through our stuff,
our Saturday morning stuff, and I notice that she's bothered. And so I ask her two or three
times and I get sort of a dismissal type of response.
And I know by now that my role is to push, but don't push too far.
Everybody, yeah, I see some heads nodding, right?
You can push a little, but if you go too far, you've blown it.
So I pushed a little bit and she stopped.
I can still see the scene.
We're in our bedroom and she's standing by the corner of the bed and she stops.
And she goes, "You know what?"
And she goes on to relate that not too long before that we had been here on a Saturday
for the conference that we held in connection with Family Life Ministries.
And it was heavy.
It was all about abuse and abuse within the church
in primarily sexual abuse.
Right, that's a super, super heavy topic.
And she was carrying that.
And then she said,
I've noticed over a few of my times at work,
this little boy who comes into the launch line
And you don't need to know his backstory to know he's not very well taken care of.
To know he's not getting what he needs at home in all areas of life.
Not just emotional and spiritual support, but just physical support.
Like he's not getting enough to eat.
So that's what she relates to me.
Her heart was heavy.
for really good reasons, right?
Pray with me.
God, you know me well enough to know that in this forum,
as we attempt to talk through your scriptures
and understand them better,
apart from that Holy Spirit river
that we just sang about.
Nothing gets accomplished here today,
and we wanna trust you with my words, my heart,
and our hearts together.
I can't deliver anything meaningful,
and we can't receive anything meaningful
without you meeting with us.
Lord, we wanna recognize our need for you.
We want to hear from you and we want to leave this place closer to you.
Would you grant us that?
We ask in Jesus' name.
So you see up here on the overhead.
Oh, by the way, if you're watching online and I never know which camera to look at
because there's no lights, just so you know, um, if you're watching online, I
apologize ahead of time for the quality of the graphics.
I did not get the graphics to the video team in time for them to adapt them for the live
So we're going to do our best.
Chip's going to do his best to focus on the screen when he needs to, and that's on me.
So I've been working on this message for quite a while in my head.
And as I approached trying to put it together in a somewhat accessible format, I couldn't
and decide on a title.
So you see what we have up there.
We have consult the circles or trust and obey.
I'm gonna let you all decide
what the title of the message should be.
You've got the next three hours to figure it out.
No, I'm joking.
I do, I wanna hear what you have to say
when we're all done about what you think
the title of the message should be
'cause I truly am torn.
Why am I doing this? As I alluded to, I didn't allude to, I told you a little bit ago, I've
been counseling for a little over a year now. And what I want to try to convey this morning
has been universally received in my counseling as beneficial. I've shared this with almost
every counselee I've had.
And while the reaction to the truth has been different
for each person because we're all unique,
everybody has said, you know, I get that, I see that.
So that's why I'm doing what I'm doing.
It won't be a classic message, as you can see already,
right, it's gonna be more teaching than a typical message.
But we'll try to get through this.
And trust God to deliver what it is he intends.
We're going to focus in on Proverbs 3 verses 1 through 8.
I want to present to you that I believe that the illustration
we're going to get to is an illustration that takes into
account overview, our overview biblical principles
throughout the entire book.
But this passage, which is one is likely familiar to almost all
of us here, if you've been around the Bible much, sort of gets at the core of
what I want to show you today. The proverb was authored by King Solomon. So
not King David, as many of them are, but King Solomon. King Solomon, David's son, and
and thought of by a lot of biblical scholars
to be the wisest of the individuals
who lived on the earth,
but also interacted with the scriptures.
And Solomon is writing basically a letter to his son.
This is how to be successful in life.
How many of you in this room are parents?
Okay, how many of us in this room are children
or have ever been children?
Early on in my parenting career,
and if you're young parents,
don't sweat trying to get it right
because you'll learn your entire life how to parent.
But one of the things I learned early on in parenting
which has turned out to be true is,
if it's right, just keep repeating it,
and in three decades they'll get it.
Solomon does a little bit of that in this passage.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments
for length of days and years of life,
and peace they will add to you.
Son, do not forget my teaching.
Don't do something, but let your heart keep my commandments.
Do do something.
Son is repeating the same truth,
once in a negative and once in a positive.
Son, please pay attention.
I've got something to say that you might need down the road.
He does this multiple times through this passage, and so I just want you to pick up on that,
that he is actually repeating the truth that he's trying to get across.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you.
Bind them around your neck.
Here we transition in verse three from,
let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you.
If you think about those qualities,
steadfast love and faithfulness,
that's inner life stuff, right?
Steadfast love and faithfulness.
And then the next phrase is,
bind them around your neck.
So this advice and its application, it starts inside.
It starts with who we are on the inner person.
And then wear 'em around your neck.
Wear 'em as jewelry.
Adorn yourself with these things.
But it's important to recognize that
Solomon's message is we start with the inner person.
Find them around your neck
and write them on the tablet of your heart.
You see that repeat?
He's back to now inward.
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Later on in the Gospels, Jesus talked about the Pharisees.
And when he talked about the Pharisees
in one particular part of his teaching,
he called them white washed tombs.
You remember that phraseology, that illustration?
What's a white washed tomb?
Looks great on the outside and dead on the inside.
Solomon wants to dispel with that idea.
Right, you can't look good on the inside
if you can't look good on the outside,
if you're dead on the inside.
Let's start with the inside and let that
naturally flow out to the outside.
you will find favor and good success.
It really means you'll have a hard earned reputation
for fidelity between your words and your deeds, right?
Your words and your deeds, they match.
That's the promise of living the way
Solomon is asking his son to live.
And then we move on to sort of the clincher.
And these are the verses that are absolutely
gonna be familiar to most of us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not lead on your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge him
and he will make straight your path.
Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord,
and turn away from evil.
And then it ends with a promise, this section.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
So remember the author, the author Solomon,
the guy who so many agree is one of the wisest
to have ever walked the earth,
and he says,
Don't lean on your understanding.
A guy who knew it really well, right?
He was a wise guy.
Not in the mafia sense.
Not everybody got that one, sorry.
He was very, very wise.
He understood scripture.
He understood its interaction with life.
And he's the one issuing this caution.
Don't lean on your own understanding. It's a caution, right? Hey, this opportunity is
coming. Don't lean on your own understanding. If we stop at somewhere around verse 4, it's
a pretty humanistic approach to life. It's all about what you do and how you are. And
And then he makes sure that we focus our efforts, our eyes back on God.
What I found interesting as I was reading through this and studying through this, that
last section, trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding
and all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.
"Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord,
"and turn away from evil."
Solomon wrote those words.
And those words would have convicted Solomon
at the end of his life.
Like Solomon went off the rails at the end of his life.
And yet God gave him the opportunity
to write the very words that would later
provide a contrast for how his life ended.
It gave me chills when I thought about that.
And it also makes it very intimidating to stand in front of you all when you think about
Solomon wrote these words, but the end of his life did not mirror these words.
And then that last phrase, "It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."
that is meant very literally.
And you can look at scientific journals
and the medical field, and you will see that phrase proven
true, that when we live in a place where we're
willing to trust God with that which is outside of our control,
We're just physically healthier.
Gonna illustrate this a little bit.
At the beginning, we look at these commands.
Keep my commandments, love and faithfulness.
Let not love and faithfulness forsake you.
To summarize that, it's really if you obey.
And then we have the reward sections, the ones in the blue.
What do you have?
Length of days and peace, favor and good success.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
And then there's the section that's most important for us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him
and he will make straight your path.
Be not wise in your own eyes,
fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
All right, here's where the title of the message comes from.
Consult the circles.
I want us to draw into this idea
that all of life fits into one of those two circles.
I see nods.
All of life fits into one of those two circles.
We live in a weird and turbulent time, don't we?
It seems like anger and angst and fighting
and disagreement and hate is running rampant.
All of those things, the stuff that makes us angry,
the stuff that makes us sad,
the stuff that rightly challenges our hearts,
all of it fits in one of those two circles.
There's gonna be a temptation to dismiss
the ideas here is too simple.
If you're tempted that way,
I would simply challenge you to try it.
There's some really cool principles here that I think will help add health and refreshment
to your bones.
The question I often ask when I'm going through this to an individual is what happens when
when we spend all of our time in the circle to your left?
What's the net effect of spending all of our time
thinking about, praying about, doing about
things that are not in our control?
I see heads nodding.
Our life, 1 Corinthians says,
there's nothing that is overtaking you
except that which is common to man.
What that means is we all walk out the same stuff, right?
What happens when we spend all of our time
messing around in the circle to the left?
I hesitated then because it's kind of my right,
so I have to turn around and look at it
so I know which direction it is for you all.
So the answer to that question, what happens
when we spend all of our time in that circle,
the things that I cannot control?
Politics in America is a mess.
Let's dwell on that for a while.
When you're done, how do you feel?
There's a verse up there which probably online
you can't see at all.
But this verse comes out of the conversion of Paul.
And Jesus says to Paul in his conversion,
Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
Is it hard for you to kick against the goats?
Jesus kinda said to Paul, hey, look at the circles.
Is it hard for you to kick against the goats?
Jesus asked us that question as well.
Where are you spending your time and your energy?
Are you spending it on things you can't control?
Here's a clue.
If you're spending time on things you can't control,
the stuff you can control that God wants you to do is not getting done.
I said you that whole time, I mean me too.
I promise you that if I stand up here and I start to raise my voice or whatever,
I am pre- it's reflecting right back on me.
I am frustrated with my own way through life.
And the truth is I spend way too much time
over in that circle to the left.
It's a time waster.
It saps our efficiency.
I sort of discussed the concepts in this illustration with my eldest, my firstborn,
getting kind of hearkening back to my joke about parenting.
And I wasn't doing a good job. Like he wasn't hearing me. And then he said to me,
"So what you're saying is stay in your lane, dad." And I went, "Son of a gun! That's good!
Can I borrow that?" Right? God's advice is stay in your lane.
The things you can't control, that's your lane.
The things you can't, that's his lane.
But as humans, we struggle with that.
I thought for a while, and in one version of this sermon,
that circle to your left was full of ideas, suggestions,
and I struggled with that, listing out a number of ways
in which this truth applies.
And I can't say for sure I made the right choice,
but as I prayed, I just decided
I didn't wanna be the Holy Spirit.
One of the things we do as Christians sometimes
is we look at the pastor's list of things
and we're like, "No, not on that, we're good."
I don't want that to be the outcome today.
I don't want you to look at the list and go,
"Eh, I don't hit any of those, so I must be good."
Because I think there's a principle here.
No, I know there's a principle here
because it helps me daily.
And we'll talk a little bit about that in a minute.
I want to avoid the idea
that the principle doesn't work
if Ken didn't come up with the example that fits my life?
What happens when you operate in the other circle?
Harkening back to our reading in Proverbs three,
that's what Proverbs three says, right?
In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.
There's not a question mark at the end of that statement.
And the result is peace and freedom.
So what's the answer with the things we can't control?
And what's the answer with the things that we can control?
Now you see the two titles, right?
And that's why I was torn. I love the nostalgia of trust and obey
But I want to tell you that this phrase and it's not always the same but consult the circles put it in the circle
It has become a part of conversation
God just allowed me at work to begin using this illustration there with my co-workers
We have a co-worker who has really had a rough go of it over the last several years.
And this co-worker is a rock star, like a super productive human being.
And sometimes super productive human beings are really good at closed fist living.
I'm in control.
So we were talking one morning and God's prodding me,
you should probably use that illustration.
And I'm like, nope, I don't want to.
No, you should probably use that.
She keeps talking and it's like,
there's a neon sign blaring,
you need to talk to her about this.
So I'm like, okay, I'll try it.
And we talked it through,
it's been a part of our conversation
since we had that conversation.
To the degree that last week I was engaged in a conversation with another coworker and
just talking about normal life stuff, but stuff that really kind of got under her skin.
And the other coworker and I both said, "Which circle does that belong in?"
And she said, "I hate the circles."
I understand that response, right?
Because who we are inside, especially when
our self-directedness is at the forefront,
we don't like being told that.
But it was fun, right?
And I love the fact that we've developed
that interaction at work, because we'll often
curse the circles at work, because it corrects us.
It reminds us that this thing is completely
out of our control. One thing that I think is incredibly important to say at
this point is that the act of asking this illustration questions about what's
going on in my life? It's pure outworking of faith. Right? It's faith to say this is
not mine, it's God's, God is trustworthy. You agree? It's not mine, it's God's, God
is trustworthy. This is the point where I look at my clock to see if I have time
to do what it is I wanted to do. I'm going to slide over to Hebrews chapter
11. You don't need to turn there but if you'd like to feel free. Hebrews chapter
Chapter 11 is generally known as the faith chapter.
Listen to the beginning of chapter 11 in light of what we've been talking about.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Faith is assurance of things hoped for.
You pick it. Whichever of the things that you're holding on to that you have no control over,
over, faith is the assurance of things hoped for. And the conviction of things
not seen. There's a lot of contrast in that verse. How can you have conviction
about something you haven't seen? By faith, right? It isn't, faith is an active
of choice to trust God with the stuff that's God's.
And we don't like to do that.
It's against our nature.
Verse seven says, "By faith, Noah,
"being worn by God concerning events as yet unseen,
"In reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.
By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by
The world of Noah's time was a mess.
The world of our time is a mess.
Can you fix it?
Was Noah going about his daily routine stewing
about how God was gonna fix that messy world?
Right, Noah's human.
Would Noah have predicted that God was about to wipe out almost everybody he knew?
What's the point here that we can fret and rightly, like we're right when we point out
how messed up our world is,
or whatever the other thing is that we wanna grasp onto.
We're right about it,
but being right about it doesn't fix the problem.
And God's got an answer.
And if I took that statement, God's got an answer,
out of this context, you'd all agree with me immediately.
And then we walk away and we try to wrestle things
out of God's hands and do them ourselves.
That's what we do.
By faith Abraham, there's so many here,
Hebrews 11 is a great chapter, that's your homework.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called out
to go to a place that he was to receive an inheritance.
And he went out not knowing where he was going.
So another one of these situations where
if Abraham needed all the facts,
he would not have obeyed, would he?
'Cause God didn't tell him where he's going.
That's what I love about Hebrews,
it lays it out so clearly,
these acts of faith that happened with real people.
"Hey Abraham, I want you to go."
And Abraham's like, "Is that statement finished?"
"Are you done, God?
"I'm waiting for where?"
God didn't tell him where.
He just said, "Go."
That's hard for us, isn't it?
God, just tell me where and I'll look it up on Google Maps
and I'll be there as soon as I can.
I might even break the speed limit.
Shh, don't tell anybody.
Right, that's our disposition.
And God said to Abraham, I want you to go.
And he went.
That makes us uncomfortable.
That makes us uncomfortable.
A couple of things.
Let's rewind all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the interaction between Satan
said, did God truly say? Satan's influence on our lives works to make us believe
that obedience is oppression. And God says obedience is peace and freedom.
Read Proverbs 3 again. If you start to feel like obeying what you know God
wants you to do is oppression, consult the circles. It's not true. But it's
an argument I've heard lots of times and gone, "Yeah, that feels like oppression."
Eve did. Adam did. Hmm, here we are. God says obedience is peace and freedom.
Don't get stuck. I hope most of you were wondering when I was going to finish the
story about my wife. I'm going to finish it now. We're going to analyze it a little
bit. So I picked up on the fact that she had a heavy heart and I probed and then
she told me why she had a heavy heart. In that story, is there anything my wife did
wrong? She was sad. She grieved over bad things. The fact that sexual abuse exists
within the church. The fact that there's a little boy who's not getting what God
designed for him to get. Anything wrong with that? Grieving over that? Here's what
I want you to hear. We said we talked through the circles. Why? Because you can get stuck
there. You get it? You can get stuck there. You can stay in your grieving. How effective
are you going to be if you stay in your grief?
What's the solution?
Trust God and obey, right?
You and I cannot fix all evil in this world.
But you and I can fix the exact amount of evil
God wants us to.
Don't get stuck.
Even when you're right, there's going to be a temptation to get stuck.
Remember who you serve and remember that you are a role player.
You have a role to play.
You're not the king.
get stuck. Stay in your lane. Thank you, Marcus. Do what God just called you to do.
I truly believe that my wife got a job because God's got people that he wants
her to touch. She can't get stuck. You got to trust him and do what he asks you to do.
So I had some technology issues this morning. I was going to pull up a video that came across
my Facebook feed this week. I don't know how many of you heard, but one of the luminaries and
Christian scholarship and pastor pastoral ministries died this week. You got his promotion,
Charles Stanley, did you all hear that? Okay. So I'm reading through my Facebook feed and
Max Lucato wrote a nice tribute to Pastor Stanley and then they posted a reel of one of his
interviews and he talked about obedience and his punchline was, "Through all the trials
travails of life, I've learned to obey God and leave the consequences to him. It
seems simple, doesn't it? Right? The ideas seem simple. But here's a man who served
God. She was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta forever. Probably
almost as long as I've been alive. And he had some stuff in his life. And as he
He looks back over his life.
He's able to boil it down to trust God,
obey him and let him deal with the consequences.
Isn't that freeing?
Okay, I gotta go back now.
Peace and freedom.
Isn't that truth freeing?
To truly leave the stuff with God that's God's
and recognize I'm a role player.
there. I don't have to fix it all.
Several weeks ago, the former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, had announced
that she was running for president in 2024. In her previous job, she was an ambassador.
Does that mean that she was the president?
What's her role as the ambassador?
To represent the president.
There was this angel, one of the best and brightest angels that God created.
His name was Lucifer.
And after a while, Lucifer thought, "I don't like my job.
I want his job."
That statement, that truth makes me uncomfortable.
Because sometimes, "I don't want my job.
I want his job."
that tendency, it's within us.
I don't mean that as a negative, because I think when you're aware of something, it's
easier to deal with it.
But recognize that we have that pull to get out of our lane.
And it didn't work out too well for Satan.
He tried to graph something that wasn't his and it didn't work out well.
So this is just kind of funny.
Beware of boomerang truth.
As I shared kind of this illustration with my coworkers, boy it sneaks up on me all the
I'll be talking about something and complaining and somebody will shoot back very quickly
Did you consult the circles?
Which circle does that belong in?
So as you start to talk about this in your families,
and I hope you do, be ready,
'cause it'll come back at you.
And I appreciate it, right?
So, so much of the Christian life
is building godly habits.
And I appreciate the fact that this has become a habit.
It seems simple, but it really is helpful.
Every day, with every circumstance,
you start to feel yourself getting upset.
Which circle does it belong in?
And what would God have me do about it?
What is it I can do while remaining in my lane?
I think I just covered that.
Yeah, this is a point I made in a limited way earlier,
but I want us to understand this.
Practicing is an act of faith.
Trusting God with every outcome.
It's an act of faith.
You see me smiling?
I'm speaking these words to myself.
It's okay to need to practice.
I'm grateful that that's okay.
'Cause I'm not there.
And that seems clear to me every morning when I wake up.
I'm not there.
It's okay to need to practice.
When we're walking out life,
There's lots of stuff that can distract us,
pull our attention away.
What's everybody gonna think of the message afterward?
I hope I didn't lose anybody this morning.
Did you really wear that jacket
with the patches on the elbow?
What can your brain do when it's doing that?
It can't do what God intends for you to do.
We worry so much about what people think of us.
We. I don't mean you, I mean we.
When we're doing that, we are not doing.
the thing God would have for us to do.
That's what I mean by limited bandwidth.
There's only so much we can do in life.
And if we're focused on what are people saying about us?
What did they think of that outfit I wore to church?
We're not thinking about the other things.
Practice is a decision to trust God daily with everything.
You mean what people think about me?
What do you think people thought of Noah?
They thought he was crazy.
You gotta leave that stuff to God.
I have learned throughout my life, Charles Stanley,
to obey and leave the consequences to God.
Really good words, really sage words.
Last night, I've got to find this passage.
Last night, we'll see if I can do two things at the same time.
If I keep just muttering, then I won't be doing two things
at the same time.
Last night, we had friends over to dinner,
which we do on a regular basis.
At least half of the Saturday nights,
we have friends over to dinner.
And this group of friends, we've been doing it for--
it's funny, I was thinking about it this morning.
three years plus. And what that's allowed for us is the ability to go past water cooler
talk. You know what I mean? We've become close enough, we've shared enough of our lives,
that we're kind of starting to do life together. And last night one of our guests asked me
how things were going with my health. And without getting into all the details, over
the last two or three months, there have been sort of a cascade of weird health things going
on. I don't really have an explanation for it. We're working through it with the medical
staff. That's not the point of the story. The point of the story is, you know, our little
group knows I've been going through it and each time we get together they'll ask for
an update and so I provided an update. And this is what happens with good friends. They
ask you questions that you can't really get around really easy. And so this friend of
said, I'm still mad at him, he said, how are you feeling about that? I didn't like the
question. And in polite company I would have said, oh, I'm fine. That would have been my
response. I couldn't in this company. These are people that we're honest with. These are
people that we do life with. And so it took me aback and I had to think for a
while and the honest answer was I'm mad. That's the truth. I'm mad. Why am I mad?
Because I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to be doing to be healthy. Come
"Mom, God, we had a deal.
"If I worked out every day, I wasn't gonna get sick."
See how easy it is to forget which circle stuff belongs in?
I love that friend for pushing me
to practice what I preach.
Um, God's never met a health concern he can't use.
I get angry at stupid things I shouldn't get angry at.
But each and every time we choose to practice faith, God's honored.
And at the end of the day, isn't that what matters?
being honored. I can't create that, can I? I can obey and he can use that to his
honor and glory, right? I would just encourage us, you know what, I am going to
do this. I debated whether we would end with this but we're going to end with it.
One of my favorite authors of all times is C.S. Lewis.
And his super famous books are the Chronicles of Narnia,
This is my favorite book of, this is an excerpt
from my favorite book of his,
which is called Screwtape Letters.
Screwtape Letters is a book that is a chronicle
of conversations between a senior demon
and his younger nephew, who's just learning
how to be a demon.
That's the context for this quote.
Now I'll read the quote for you.
This is Screwtape speaking,
giving advice to his younger demon nephew, Wormwood.
You will say that these are very small sins.
And doubtless, like all young tempters,
you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.
But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man
from the enemy.
Oh, that steps on my toes.
Because every time I choose to grab something that's outside my lane, am I moving closer
to God at that moment? But do remember the only thing that matters is the extent to which
you separate the man from the enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided
that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the light and out into nothing.
Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.
This is why I love C.S. Lewis.
Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.
Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one.
The gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, and without
That subtle stuff in life.
wants us to be good ambassadors by leaving the stuff that's his with him. Now
if I had started this the message with that statement you'd be like duh I hope
today we've learned and drawn closer to the fact that we struggle with that more
than we think we do. I hope so right I hope I'm not alone but as I practice
this principle I realize how frequently either I say it in my own head or my family or my
friends tell me, "Which circle does that belong in?" Let's endeavor to practice faith by trusting
him with the things that are truly his and then preserving all of that energy we would
spend in the wrong circle and use it in the right circle to obey. I promise you
you're gonna see cool things happen if that's the way you execute life. That's
a promise I can have full confidence in. I don't know how your story is gonna
work out. I don't know if God's gonna call on you to build an ark, but the
promise I can make is if you stay in your lane and you obey in the instances
that he gives you every day, you're going to bring honor and glory to him and
there's going to be peace and health in your bones to one degree or another,
right? This is not a health and wealth thing, right? We all have struggles in
this world, but peace, you can have peace through the worst of storms and that's
the promise. So let's stay where he has us and let's obey and let's leave
the stuff that's his to him. Pray with me.
Father God, as we depart this place, as we go off into our Monday to Saturday, as
as we stare down opportunities
where we have a choice
to recognize our role and stay in it
or waste a bunch of time trying to do your job.
Would you give us the grace?
Would you give us the wisdom and the insight and the grace?
To be good ambassadors, to not overstep,
to not want your job.
God, our hearts are fickle and we know it.
But God, your promise is that honor and glory
comes through us obeying you.
Would you teach us in your patience and your grace
to stay in our lane,
to lean not on our own understanding,
but to lean hard into you
when what we feel is turmoil?
Regardless of the source of the turmoil,
we all know that feeling.
God, give us the ability to turn those things over to you and obey.
Because we love you.
Because we want to see your name made famous in the world around us.
And we know we're not capable of that.
Love you, Lord. Thank you for this time together.
Bless Pastor Ellen and his ministry and give us a week that we have
opportunities to honor you. In Jesus' name we ask, Amen. Thanks everybody have a great week.
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