Patrick Payton begins a series on our struggle to be transformed, and this week Patrick spends time on the enormous power God has.
Patrick Payton begins a series on our struggle to be transformed, and this week Patrick spends time on the enormous power God has.
Well, I hope you’re getting your students, your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews signed up for camp. Just an ongoing word of thanks to so many of you who even in times like this are contributing the financial resources for kids to be able to, students to be able to attend on scholarships. It’s a difficult season right now, but thank you for that.
It’s just an incredible week any way you cut it. Even when you don’t want to go and your student, even you as an adult, are a little bit apathetic. “I don’t want to go another week.” There’s always something the Lord does when you’re away at camp. When they get off that bus in Glorieta, or they get off that bus in Glen Rose and we take their phones from them and they stare at their hands for a good day. They don’t really know what to do and they keep grabbing their backside, something’s going off back there and they don’t know what do to.
Then parents, you don’t know what to do either because you text as much to them and you’re trying to figure out what to do. It’s a great time though if you saw the zip-line there in the middle of the auditorium, it’s terrorizing, terrifying. I have yet to do it, and won’t. But it’s a great time and I hope you get your students signed up. There’s an area in the lobby there to get more information.
One other note before we kind of dive off into this message this morning, and that is just a little bit of a building up date. We told you we’d keep you up to date as to where we are. Another word of thanks, you know people have asked us before, “Are you aware of how bad your timing is to do a capital campaign with the way the economy is right now?” Actually we’ve done this three times. This will be a third time, and we’ve never done it when the economy was good. I think most of the time churches do capital campaigns when things are good then they get overextended and end up in debt forever.
It’s been exciting to see the Lord continue to provide through you, and I want to continue to encourage you in our Odessa campus and North and here to continue to just be faithful to your giving above and beyond ties to the building project.
We are training ourselves to stop calling our Odessa campus Graham’s. Every time we refer to it, we say “hey do we need to run over to Graham’s?” I think it’s a throwback or something to something we remember, but they have finished the demolition on the inside so it doesn’t look anything like the last time you were there if you remember when that was. I will tell you that when we were walking through it in the early days of just seeing what we’d gotten ourselves into, they have all these, I know most of you have never been in one of these places so I’ll just describe it to you. They have all these neon signs and beer signs and all kinds of whiskey ads and posters and stuff like that. Everybody was saying how bad that was and I just can’t wait until we get rid of that. I was going to tell you, I walked through there and I thought, “You know what I should do is I should rent a trailer and I should take all these beer signs and posters down and I can go to college after college and I can auction these off to all the fraternities and we will have paid for this building. Anyways, I only made it as far as Tech, they bought them all up. I just, we threw in a dozen tortillas with every purchase. Anyways, I couldn’t resist.
I hope all of you, if you have any questions about all that, not the beer signs, but if you wanted to buy one, our elders and others are going to be in the lobby, both here, North, and in Odessa, I’d love to answer any questions or clarify why I would even talk about the beer signs. If you want to ask anybody, that’s great. I hope you received one of these cards when you came in with the funky looking tree that’s purple on one side and green on the other. If you did not receive one of these and you want one, would you please raise your hand so our ushers can come down the aisles and get one to you? Raise your hands as high as you can in all of our campuses and they’ll get those to you.
We’ll be following this all the way through April and the first couple of weeks, basically through Mother’s Day is how long this will take us. Some of you have heard us teach through some of this material. You’ve been here long enough to hear us go through it, but as we spent time, our teaching team spent time with our elders to talk about what we wanted to be teaching. Given the economic situation, the hardships many people are in, the trials and tests that many of us face, the elders just ask if we would go through this teaching again. We’ve called it many different things. Years ago we called it the War of the Wills. One of the phrases that has stuck is this idea of a struggle for transformation because God is working in all of our lives and transforming us all the time, even though you may not think that He is.
This began about 2001 when John Mabee, myself, and Mike Goeke. We’ve just been counseling people and counseling and we were in our offices on and all of this just came together one afternoon and said “What in the world is going on in people’s lives and how can we help get to some resolution and get towards some answers?” So we sat down in a conference room that had orange upholstered chairs, so apparently those were bought in the seventies. We had whiteboards all around us and began working through what became known as the struggle for transformation. This morning, I’m going to basically lay the groundwork. If you look at that chart, just to kind of give you an idea of where we are, we’re going to be at the very bottom where it says needs and circumstances and choice, we’ll get no further than that this morning, and then next week we’ll come back and we’ll start moving. If you’re looking right at the chart, we’ll start moving to the right. We’ll kind of cover the bad news first and then we’ll cover to the left in the weeks that follow.
Let me begin by referring you to a passage of scripture we looked at last week if you were here for Easter Sunday. By the way if you did not come at the 10:30 hour last week, thank you very much and we appreciate that. We had over six thousand people here for Easter, so it was a fascinating just a great time.
Let me take you to Acts Chapter 17. If you have a copy of the scriptures with you, you might want to open it up. It will come up on the screen, but I’d love for you to use your bibles and look this up. In Acts Chapter 17, as we read it last week we talked about this story of Paul talking to the group in Athens. I wasn’t a church, it was just a bunch of gathered people listening to this guy named Paul speak. There were two verses in particular, and I want to read those with you here this morning. It goes something like this. I’m just going to read it from the screen because I don’t have my glasses so I can’t see my bible. Anyways, “The God who made the world and everything in it.” We believe God created the world, He created the universe. “The God who made the world and everything in it being Lord of heaven and earth.” These are very important words coming up here, so just make sure you get this. “He’s Lord of heaven and earth. He does not live in temples,” we would say this, “He does not live in churches, in church buildings made by man.” He doesn’t stay here during the week while we go to work, okay?
The next verse, verse 25, says, “Nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything.” Very important we understand that He needs nothing from us. So he is not even … I know we talk about serving the Lord, but be careful. When we say that we’re serving the Lord that we don’t assume that we add something to him, or if we do not serve we take something away from him. “Nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything. Since He himself gives to all mankind, life and breath, and everything.” We’re not going to look it up this morning, but if you are taking notes and you want to look at some other scriptures, I would encourage you to read Psalm chapter 50, about 10 through 15. You can just read the whole chapter if you’d like. You’ll see as well the Lord saying, he’s talking about offerings that we read about in the Old Testament, “I really don’t need those things. I need nothing from you, but you need everything from me.”
Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because we need to understand that there is nothing you and I can do, last week I told you that there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more or love us less. Biblically, there is nothing we can do that adds value to God. You and I by coming to church this morning did not add to God. You and I not coming to church does not take away from Him. No nation or nations or leader or leaders add to or take away from God.
In the weeks ahead, or later on in the spring and summer, we’ll do a series on theology and we’ll talk about God and the theological world that’s called theology proper. You will learn that God is self-sufficient. He is all He needs in himself. He needs nothing. There is nothing that can be given to him that makes him better. Nothing can be taken away from Him. Now why am I speaking so slowly about this? Well it’s very important that you and I understand the magnitude of who He is because when God decided to create mankind, He did not create mankind because God needed the Fellowship. He did not create you and I because He needed something from us. He created us in order to bless a creature with who He is.
Let me go a little bit deeper with that. When He created us, and we know He created us in the beginning through Adam and Eve. When He created Adam and Eve, He created them as needs-based people. I’m saying that slowly so you get that because that has translated, even to us, before the fall and after. God wired you and I with needs that He intends to meet. We don’t like this next phrase, but it’s true and it’s been designed into us. We have been designed to be needy creatures whose needs are met by God for His glory and our joy. But the fall happened and this needs issue, something happened and this needs issue, now we’ll get to it later on, but please understand this. In our needs, well I’m not even going to say that yet, but let me teach you verse. I’m going to teach you a verse. Let’s go like we’re up in the children’s area in Quest 56, okay?
There’s a verse in the New Testament Philippians 4:19, this is my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. Please understand this. God created you, a needs-based individual, and He intends to meet your needs and He’s made a way to that through Jesus Christ. Let’s learn a verse together first. Okay, ready? Are you ready class? To learn a verse? Odessa, we’re waiting on you, and North campus wake up. Here we go. I’m just going to quote it and then you just repeat after me kind of like you did at your wedding that one time. “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Now say it back to me.
And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Y’all are slow. Philippians 4:19. Now, let me keep pressing into this needs issue. Let me say it, and I’ll say it a hundred times this morning. Every test and trial and every issue you face is rooted in a need. Every single one of them. It’s a need God designed into you and intended to meet for you. Now we’ve told you this before, for many of you this is repetition. Repetition does us all good, Dr. Kathy Koch has walked us through this many times. Let me show you again. What we teach as a church oftentimes are the five core needs wired into you and I. We can take you in more time through these and show you where these are biblically. Let me show you these five core needs, and you might want to jot them down on this chart that you have because they are at the root of where the enemy comes after you, but where God is working.
Let’s talk about these, core needs. Now, if you wanted to have a visual, I would flip this and make it a pyramid, you know what I’m talking about? Larger to smaller to smaller and security would go at the bottom, so if that helps you if you want to draw that. For you and I, our first and most important core need is the need of security. I want to know who I can trust. Some of you think this is paralleling Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but it doesn’t. You can go back and study that and see that it’s quite different. Security asks the question, Who Can I Trust? Every one of us in this room probably have trust issues. Those started a long time ago. Those started with learning that you couldn’t trust a particular individual growing up or a parent or a pastor or a teacher or a coach or a friend. The enemy works on trust issues early and often.
We’ll see next week when we look at the right side of the tree that you have on the chart, that’s exactly where the enemy went in the Garden of Eden. He called into question whether or not Adam and Eve could trust God. With questions like this, did he not say, did he say, and he called those into question. The enemy did the same thing when he tempted Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. He called into question whether or not Jesus could trust the Father. He is always working on trust issues. He is always pounding away at security. That is a basic core need he works on in our lives all the time, but God wants to meet that need that that’s where the enemy attacks. Security, who can I trust? We’re all asking that question. By the way, it’s always, and every time I say this I feel like I’m reading a Dr. Seuss book. It’s always a Who not a What. We want to know who we can trust, not what we can trust. All of us know that when we begin to trust a What, it’s empty. We are always looking for a Who, like Horton. Anyways, let’s keep going.
Identity, second one. Who am I? I want to know who I am. Now identity’s a buzz word in today’s church world, and oftentimes it’s shallow in its definition. But every one of us, according to scripture Psalm 139 in particular, Genesis chapter 9 as well, every one of us have been intentionally created by God, uniquely and intentionally created by God regardless of your cause of origin. I’ll let you figure out if that speaks to you or not. Regardless of how you got here, God designed you with a very unique purpose. As I told our seniors last week or the week before, He designed you with a unique purpose that only you can uniquely fulfill. There is not a substitute on the team for your unique purpose. There’s not a bench to fill in when you get out of the game. Only you have been designed to be you by your creator who knows you and has a purpose for you and wants you to know that you can trust him to define who you are. The enemy will come after you. That’s the second issue. All of us want to know who we are.
Third, belonging, who wants me? Very very very important language. You’ve never heard us say this any differently, but it does not say who needs me? Story, quickly. My hot water heater goes out the other day, true story. I know it happens in Midland about once every thirty seconds. And in Odessa all over. So my hot water heater goes off and so what you do, and by the way, I called someone to do that, I know some of you people you know how to do that, I don’t care. I don’t want to to know how, so when we leave here, don’t come up and say “I’ll show you,” I don’t want to know. I just I don’t. Let that go. From now on you’ll be thinking, “I’ll show him how to do that. Har har har.” It doesn’t matter to me. Anyways, so I call someone because I need them to fix the hot water heater. I didn’t want them to be there. Nor do I want them to stay. I need them to serve a purpose for me and get out, okay, and overcharge me in the process. Whatever I just, that’s what I need.
Listen, many times, we say “I just want someone to need me.” No you don’t. You want someone to want you. That’s the allure of social media. Because we rarely know anymore if anybody wants us. That is the belonging we’re longing for. That’s where the enemy attacks at a real core need. Especially if all your life you have suffered rejection, you don’t know who you can trust, you don’t know who you are, and then you begin looking for ways to be needed rather than trusting that God will meet the need of the one who wants you. Let me tell you where this is tough. Well, I’m not going to tell you yet.
Okay, purpose. Let’s keep going. Purpose. Why am I alive? Why am I here? It’s pretty simple. Pretty simple question, but it’s a core need. I want to know why I’m here. I alluded to that just a minute ago. You have been uniquely created for a unique purpose that only you can uniquely fulfill. There is no bench player to take your uniqueness. You’re here for a purpose. You may not understand it yet, and, or, you may have it tied into your career which is a false foundation for it, but you want to know why you’re alive. That’s a real need God created into you. You can read through Genesis one and two and God gave all these things to Adam and Eve.
Last one, competence. What in the world do I do well? We want to know what we can do well. Everybody in here has been given many things that God has given them that they do well. Some people have talked down to you about those things, but there are things that you do well. Let me give you a couple of quotes. Okay, we’re going to go through some things on the screen and walk through some things. I’ll show you back to the chart and then we’ll be done for the morning.
Here’s the first thing, God intends to joyfully meet every need in our lives for His glory, the good of others, and our joy. Please leave that up there. Let me show you this again because I want you to understand something. God intends, there’s only one person who stands in the way of God meeting your needs. That’s you. It’s me. There is no other person or thing standing in the way of the opportunity for God to meet your real needs. But remember, well I haven’t told you this so you can’t remember it, these needs arise in circumstances. I’ll press back into that, so press pause on that thought. I want you to see something. God intends to joyfully meet every need in our lives. At no point can you show any place biblically where God cannot stand meeting your needs. There’s no point where he says, “Oh my goodness, I’m so tired of meeting Patrick’s needs.” He designed me with needs for him to meet.
Now, you got to be careful, and I’ll show you here, I’ll show you this a little bit later and I’ll show you as we keep going through this time. The reason many of us are repeating destructive cycles in our lives is because we have yet to see the real need behind the destructive cycle and we keep repeating the cycle and God keeps trying to teach us something about the real need behind it. That’s why you keep repeating issues. We’ll have to get to that. God intends to joyfully meet every need in our lives for his glory so people see how great he is, the good of others, so people are blessed through what God is doing in our lives and for our joy. So we receive great joy through God meeting our needs. Our greatest joy will never come ultimately through a change in our circumstances. It always comes through needs being met.
Let’s keep going. Let me give you some more and I hope you’re memorizing these or writing them down. Here’s the next one. Every test and trial I face, is rooted in a real need that God intends to meet through Jesus Christ and one another. I don’t care what phrase you use. You can call it trouble, you can call it issues, whatever it is. Every test and trial you and I face, and all of us face different tests and trials, they may be of different magnitudes, of different degrees. The heat might be turned up in your life in one area more than it’s turned up in mine, but all of us have tests and trials we face. Some of them are common: economic issues, job issues, family issues. Some of them are deeply private. But every test and every trial that we face is rooted in a real need. I’ll show you this as we continue to press through. And God intends to meet that need through Jesus Christ, but here’s the important part, through one another.
A minute ago I said I was going to say something and I stopped, and I’ll say it now. My good friend, Laura Cotton, who’s been part of our church since day one, single lady, never been married. One day we were having a conversation and we were talking about how God meets your needs. It’s very easy in the church and the Christian world to tell someone, “Hey God’s going to meet your need.” But this is what she said to me. She said, “I want you to understand, I believe everything you’re saying.” Remember she’s single. She’s been single all of her life, never been married. She said, “I believe what you’re saying, but God has never hugged me.” You know what, she’s right. You can already begin to work in your mind what she’s talking about because it really just works in the church world and it helps us just offload responsibility when we say “God’s going to meet that need.” But there’s a reason all throughout the scriptures, especially the New Testament, so many it’s almost impossible to count, how many times the Bible speaks about one another.
The reality is that God has designed us with real needs, but I would tell you more often than not, He will meet the real need in the midst of the circumstances through relationships with others. Here’s another reason why we know that to be so true: Because the enemy has been working on you and I to cause us to doubt that we can trust people. To cause us to doubt that we have belonging except in the sufficiency of ourselves, so we become self-sufficient because we have been deceived and/or hurt.
When God intends to meet needs through the body of Christ, the Bible says it this way: If one member hurts, all hurt. If one member rejoices, all rejoice. Many of the reasons why we have relationship issues and relational issues with other people is because the enemy has been doing a work to cause us to push away and shut down and no longer trust, but needs keep coming up in the circumstances of our lives and God intends to use others. You must understand. He will always, almost always, use others to meet needs in our lives. To quote Laura Cotton: “When you’re lonely, God will probably not knock on your front door, step in, and hug you.” But he will show you that you can trust him and you belong through someone who will hug you and give you grace and meet the need. For some of us, we shudder at that thought. Not because we don’t like touching, but because the enemy has been doing a work on our trust issues for a long time.
Let’s go to the next quote. Again, just kind of building things up. In every test and every trial that unfolds through life’s circumstances. Now I, this is the Zig Ziglar moment because I know some of you have been in all these things and you’re like, “I don’t live under the circumstances, I live above them.” Okay, I get that. It’s a nice poster, but just life is filled with circumstances, okay? If you want to call it the events of your life, if you want to call it life unfolds in the rhythms of life, whatever. Just don’t get hung up in the speech of “We’re not people of circumstances.” Yes, you are. It just sells books, but it’s a lie. When you go out there, you’re surrounded by circumstances, okay. It’s just what it is. When you, when the cop tells you which way to turn, you can call that a rhythm, you can call that an irritant, or you can call that, that’s just circumstances, that’s what it is.
Life unfolds, okay. As life unfolds, I make a choice that’s directly related to my trust. I’ll show you this here in just a minute. Let’s keep going. This choice will set in motion either God-centered transformation or self-centered tragedy. Now look at your chart that you have. The little miniature poster that you have, and if you’ll look it shows you at the very bottom in black this circumstances in needs things. Now, some of us are artistic, some of us are not. I did not draw this chart. The original chart if you’ve been with us for a long time is very linear and very circular and very non-computerish. I drew that. This was done by Joe Aylor and his team and it’s really cool. What you need to think about is your circumstances and your needs are really kind of the unseen world of the soil of your life where things are happening, okay.
You encounter circumstances and in the midst of the circumstances of your life, needs are uncovered and revealed. I’ll show this to you some more next week when we go to the right side of the tree and we’ll see it in Adam and Eve and we’ll see it in first John Chapter two very clearly. Whatever circumstances you’re going through, I’m not even going to try to give an example because you’ll think we’re talking about you. Whatever the circumstance is, underneath it, behind it, and around it, are questions of trust, questions of belonging, questions of identity, questions of purpose, and all these things.
For instance, I can give you this example because it’s fairly relevant in our culture. If you have no idea what’s going to happen at the office tomorrow, or you have no idea what’s going to happen in our two cities in our region tomorrow because of the economic issues, those are circumstances. You can call them rhythms, but it’s not a very nice music. Whatever you want to call it, rhythms, whatever. In the midst of those circumstances of our economic world, needs are being uncovered. Security is a huge one. Identity is a huge one. Who wants me is a huge one. What do I do? What am I good at? What am I doing here? All of these things are called into question. If you have a high school senior working through the circumstances of trying to figure out where to go to college and they don’t get accepted in the schools they’re applying for, those are circumstances, and where that’s affecting them is, well can I trust this, who wants me? Where do I belong? They don’t want me here. They don’t want me here. That plays into all these things.
If you’re in a dating relationship, and all of a sudden the dating relationship and the circumstances is going south and you’re wondering what’s happening, needs are being exposed because God intends to meet your needs. But oftentimes we forget he is the one meeting the needs and using the circumstances to show us the needs. Now this is going to become more important as the weeks go by. Every circumstance that you step into, that is a test or a trial will present you with a choice. It’s the most powerful thing you and I have. Anytime someone says I do not have a choice, they are lying. We have a choice in every circumstance, and the choice is one that we will either live in a God-centered way where God meets our needs, or quite simply, we will live in a destructive, self-centered cycle. Now let me say this one more time, then I’ll give you one more quote and we’ll call it a day.
Many of us in this room are repeating the same struggles over and over and over again. It’s just the same song and forty-fifth verse. Same relationship struggles, same employment struggles, same marriage struggles. If I may say it this way, we are repeating the same circumstances. We wake up and we think it’s groundhog day in our lives. The reason for that is because there’s a need that keeps coming up God wants to meet. You and I have yet to see him much less allow him meet the deeper need. We hijack the process through our own choices and manipulation and then we repeat the circumstance again and again and again and again. It’s never a circumstantial issue. It is always a need issue and God designed you and wired you a needs-based person so he could meet those needs for his glory and your joy. As a matter of fact, he’s so committed to it, he gave his only son to die so we might live, even in the midst of circumstances.
Let me give you this last quote. Transformation takes place. This is the last one for the morning, and then Dustin’s going to give you some last words here. By the way, God is transforming you. You may not realize it, you may not feel like it, but he is committed to your transformation. Here’s how you know, and you’ve heard me say this before, here’s how you know God is through transforming you: You die. That’s the reality. You are not here wasting time until God comes back around in his heavenly orb and goes, “Haha, I forgot about you. Let’s take you home.” No no no no, Psalm 139 says your days are numbered and they are numbered for transformation. My friend, you woke up this morning because there is yet still transformation God intends for you. Transformation takes place by the gracious gospel-rooted. All that means is your transformation is rooted in the life, in the death, in the resurrection, in the ongoing work of Christ in your life. That is the good news.
Transformation takes place by the gracious, gospel-rooted work of God meeting my real needs through the tests and trials of my life. As you have learned this morning, and through others. I’m excited about the journey we’ll take. I hope you will come next week and learn more about this.