A few weeks ago, we held our quarterly youth-led service.
It’s a great time for our students who have committed to our ministry team program, to use those practical services to the body within the context of Sunday morning worship. There are a number of areas to serve, such as worship, sound, media, greeting, ushering, Offertory, announcements, etc. All of this within the ministry teams models that have been laid out with spiritual gifting in mind.
One of the new experiences we had this service, was a student who wanted to preach. This particular teen is a soft-more and a Student Leader within our youth group. I have been discipling this student for a number of years now, and I truly felt he was ready. So, we met for a coffee a few times and gradually worked out the sermon so that he would preach first, then I would follow him up with the remaining content. It worked out pretty well and we had great feedback! Feel free to listen to the message at www.PeninsulaGrace.org/Current-Series or read the manuscript below.
By Jeremy Norton & Tim Hills
Over this semester, our high school students have been working through a teaching series by Francis Chan titled “Surrender”. Within this series, Francis uses Biblical evidence and student testimony to promote the surrender of four key areas of our lives: Our Stuff, our Status, our Sin and eventually, our Self.
As Jeremy said, the first section of our Surrender series that we went through was “Surrender Stuff”. During this section, I thought to myself, “Why are possessions so important to us?” As I was pondering this, it became somewhat clear to me that our Western culture greatly influences our view of possessions. Every time we turn on our TV, there are commercials on telling us we need to buy something or need to get some sort of service in order for us to become our better self or person.
The worst part is that advertisements like that are everywhere! They are on the radio, in town and even on our computers. We, as Americans, are pounded so hard with advertisements about having the most and best possessions. We become convinced that this is the best possible thing for us. Our desire and opportunity for things and possessions are one of the main things that make Western society different from other areas of the world. It seems like a country’s advertisements affect what people of all ages, especially teens, value.
Now being a teen and being around teenagers a lot, I see and understand how they can get consumed with possessions and having stuff. One thing I noticed that a lot of teens get consumed with is clothes. Its like kids have to wear certain types of clothes, like Hollister or American Eagle, or else they will get made fun of or not be accepted by certain people. I notice in myself that I get consumed with this also.
Sometimes when I go to school, I see people with cool clothes like Hollister and American Eagle, and usually I don’t care about this kind of thing, but sometimes I feel ashamed of what I wear because it’s not what everyone else has.
But you know what Christ says about possessions? Let’s turn to Luke 12:15. Luke 12:15. (15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”) He basically says to be aware of any feeling of greed or jealousy that you may have toward other peoples’ possessions because our lives’ aren’t about having things, even when we have a lot. This verse was so convicting for me because even though God may have blessed me with crazy amounts of stuff, those things are not what it’s all about.
Turn with me to 1 Timothy 6:17-19. 1 Timothy 6:17-19. (17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.) Here Paul is giving guidance to Timothy on how to instruct those who are rich. We see that they should have hope in God and not the riches that God gave them. Also, they should share what God has blessed them with because our purpose is to glorify God with whatever we have and that includes surrendering our possessions.
Even if we don’t have a lot to offer, we need to give back whatever God has given us even if all we have to offer is our lives’. In Romans 12:1, Paul writes to the church, “1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” But presenting ourselves as living sacrifices doesn’t only include surrendering our riches and possessions; it also includes surrendering our status to God.
Surrendering status to God isn’t easy, especially in the teen world. Teen culture is all about being accepted by other people and being looked at as cool because teens, like everyone else, are desperate for attention and love. Teens will go so far to get attention and love, that some will even dress and talk a certain way. It is so easy for me to ignore other people’s needs or interests and to fall into the teen culture attitude.
For example, one day in P.E. class we had a day to just shoot hoops and hang out, and one of my friends asked me if I wanted to play bat mitten with him and some other people who weren’t really considered “cool”. I REALLY didn’t want to, but my reasoning was completely selfish. I thought to myself that bat mitten isn’t “cool” to play and shooting hoops is. He could tell that I didn’t want to play with him, but I did anyways, partly because I felt convicted for almost saying no. But God doesn’t call us to look out for our own interests and desires.
Turn with me to Philippians 2:3-5. Philippians 2:3-5. (3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:) This is such an awesome passage because it tells us how much we need to love other people vs. ourselves, and it also describes Christ’s attitude toward Himself and other people.
The attitude described in this passage is completely opposite of teen culture. Teen culture says that I’m number one and I need to look out for myself. But Christ calls us to surrender everything we have, including our status. When you think about all our attempts to gain status and stuff it’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s like we are all working to gain other peoples’ approval for something because we feel empty or that something is missing in our lives that has to be filled with other peoples’ respect and status.
Every Tuesday morning, a few of us guys meet with Jeremy for discipleship and accountability. Last year, as well as Scriptural reading, we went through a book by Donald Miller titled “Searching for God Knows What”. In his book, Donald Miller makes an excellent point in regards to status. He calls his status-analogy the Lifeboat Theory.
He starts off by suggesting that are lives are often like being in a life boat, just floating about on the open ocean. All of sudden we feel the need to convince everyone on the lifeboat that we are worthy of staying on the lifeboat. Maybe we can offer the people something, or somehow be important by their standards.
I was blown away by this analogy because it is so closely related to actual life. The life boat represents the high status and social ranking we are given by people. If we don’t impress the rest of the people on the lifeboat, then we are to be thrown out of the high-status lifeboat. But what is really amazing about this analogy is that the lifeboat isn’t going anywhere! It’s full of insecure people floating aimlessly through the open ocean
But then, all of a sudden, Jesus shows up! He just walks up to the lifeboat with an open hand, and tells everyone that there is a better way and that only He can offer it. The unfortunate part is that some people are so comfortable just sitting in the lifeboat, that they deny Christ and in turn, deny rescue. The question to ask here is, when God picks us up out of the “lifeboat”, will we be willing to walk on the water with Him, or settle for the lifeboat? This may be a challenging question, but I will say that I am not willing to settle for what my peers and this world may have to offer me. I have been there and choosing a devotion to Christ is so much more fulfilling than what this world has to offer. But I challenge you today to surrender your stuff and your status for Christ. I assure you that it will make a difference in your life. Thank you.
The next are that we want to look at is Surrender Sin. For most of us who attend church regularly, we’re not going around intentionally sinning. Most of us truly have a desire to live the way God has laid out for us in Scripture. However, this is typically only true in public settings. Pastor Chuck and I were discussing this week about the number of Christians who lead very different lives behind closed doors. The sin that happens when no one is around is the toughest to surrender.
The obvious thoughts move to lust, which would be a great place to camp given our current culture. But these secret sins can often be in other areas like bitterness, pride, envy, deception, greed and a multitude of other temptations that we can easily keep private. It may look very different on the outside, but we all have our area of temptation. We all have our area of sinful desire.
In James 1, we read “14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” These areas of sin often start small and quite controlled, but soon enough they overtake every part of your mind. These sins are often the most destructive to the ones we love most.
In Galatians 6, we hear Paul reminding the church of the destructive nature of our sinful or fleshly desires. “7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
You see this where we’re mistaken in thinking that a couple of times a month or a week will have no affect on us. This Scripture is clear that if we sow any time, even secret time investing in sinful activity; our lives will eventually reap the consequences. In the same way, if we spend that private time sowing spiritual things, kingdom-minded things; our lives will reap rewards! But what if you’re sitting there today and thinking, “You don’t understand. I’m in too deep now! This sin is consuming every second on my free time. I can’t be changed now!” If that were true, than we’d have to throw out a lot of Scripture.
For example, In 2 Corinthians chapter 2, Paul quotes the Prophet Isaiah, “2 For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” If you are sitting there thinking that your secret life is too terrible to let go of, you’re just plain wrong. It starts with crying out to God and inviting Him back into your private life. Then, the road to restoration begins. It may well include detailed confessions to friends and family and that can be terrifying. But with great risk comes great reward. Trust the Holy Spirit that resides in them; to look past the offense and see the repentance. Then the real work can begin. And no matter how hard the road to recovery may be, it’s worth every step!
Maybe for some of you, you don’t have an obsession with Stuff, you don’t have a desire for Status and you really aren’t living any sort of secret Sin. Unfortunately, that settled place of comfort is the ultimate test of Surrender; the Surrender of our Self. The surrendering of self is not so much about avoiding a certain behavior or choosing a higher standard. Surrendering self is a purposeful movement towards something greater than ourselves. And this isn’t a single movement; this is a movement of one’s entire life into a daily concentration of kingdom-minded actions and speech.
Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 10 “39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” I don’t know about anyone else, but that verse unsettles me. Sure many a preacher has quoted it before, but is it really possible? Am I really able to purposefully put myself in uncomfortable situations, for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel? I’d like to say I would, but I’m not sure if I could.
What about this verse; Matthew 16:27? “27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” What? Is this really true? How’s this going to work? Am I really taking EVERY earthly opportunity to invest in my eternity?
There were a number of ways to close out this Surrender message. But, considering this is Youth Sunday, I feel it only fitting to close with a few students who are beginning this Surrender process. Through the following videos and testimonies, you will see young people who are taking series of steps that most of us adults have yet to take. May they be an example of what we should be showing them. Let’s pray.
What area do you need to surrender; Stuff, Status, Sin or Self?
I know I’ve been throwing this Surrender promo video up a lot lately. But if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it now!