Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses 1 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 10:24-25, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 1:7 Downloads & Resources God's Family: Are You Training to be Godly? Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/9/2003 I love our church, but I wonder what people think about our meetings and services. Do people see our gatherings as beneficial? Are they eager to participate? Do they trust our message? Do they believe that genuine life change is taking place, or do they fear that we could relapse back into our old ways at any moment? This past week I came across a great clip from the movie "Finding Nemo." Watch as this well-intentioned shark named Bruce requires intervention because at the first scent of temptation, he relapses back into his old fish-eating ways. (Note to reader- a video clip from "Finding Nemo" was played.) What a pledge Bruce makes! "I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food." In this world the Church is the living presence of Jesus Christ. I think it is time for us to change the image of the Church and of Christians in general. The Bible says that the Church is the living body of Jesus Christ on earth. The Church is the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Church is the presence of Jesus Christ, reaching out to the world with God’s unconditional love, his irrational forgiveness, and his radical generosity. The Church is Christ’s mouthpiece, his hands, his feet, his ears, and his very touch. By showing our love, all people should know that we are Christians. We are a window into God's heart, his character, his glory, and his very nature. People are to develop a hunger for knowing Jesus Christ wherever they encounter the Church. Whenever they see Christians here, at our homes, in our workplaces, or in our neighborhoods, they should see the face of Christ. In Matthew 5:16 (NIV) Jesus tells us that if we get it right, "they (people) will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." The first step in relationship with God's family is experiencing Jesus Christ in us. Last week we talked about the first step we take in relationship with God’s family. The first step is that people experience Jesus Christ in us. Colossians 3:3 says that Christ is our life and that we have died. Through faith, confession, repentance, and baptism, we chose to die to ourselves and offered our bodies to God as living sacrifices and as instruments of righteousness. Jesus Christ is the head of his body, the Church, and therefore he is the head of our bodies. We surrendered our lives. Jesus governs our lives. He is our head and we have the mind of Christ. His Holy Spirit controls us and allows Jesus to live in us and through us. The first obvious step anyone would take in relationship to God’s family is to experience Jesus Christ living through us. It is that someone might bump into us and say, "You know, there is something different about those people from Lakeside. They reflect something of the character and qualities that I want in my life. I need to figure out what makes them tick. I need to know the God they worship. I need to know this Jesus Christ. I need God’s Holy Spirit working in my life. I need to put my sinful nature to death and become an instrument of righteousness." And this is exactly God’s vision for this Church! He wants to be exalted in our lives at all times. They will praise God to the degree that Christ is gloried in our lives. They will stop singing "Where is the Love?" as we increasingly show them the love. The second step in relationship with God's family is training for godliness. This morning I want to talk about the second step we take in relationship with God’s family. The first step is experiencing the love of Christ flowing through the members of Christ’s body, the Church. The second step is to begin training for godliness. In the first step, we are drawn to Christ by the godliness of others. In the second step, we ourselves train to become like that which we experienced. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV) says, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Training for godliness is all about becoming that which attracts people to Jesus Christ. We become godly by entering into a unique relationship with Christ’s body; with one another. When I was in seventh grade my school had one of the best basketball teams in the state. Our team easily beat every school in our region by double digits. In eighth grade our basketball team promised to be even better. Dozens of guys signed up for the team, all hoping to be part of the excitement and to suit up for the games. Signing up was the easy part. Trying out was an altogether different story. Many of the players who tried out wanted something easy. They wanted to wear that green and gold uniform with those glowing white high-top shoes. They wanted light practices and they wanted to go home early every night. They wanted to sleep in on Saturdays and binge on food. They wanted all the accolades without any of the serious commitment. Needless to say, most of them didn’t make the cut. The "great" players set their aspirations on making the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight and the State finals. They ran hard and pushed themselves. They stayed after practices, sharpening their skills and shooting extra hoops. They got up early on Saturday for conditioning. They enthusiastically disciplined their bodies and watched their diets. They welcomed the accountability of their teammates. They gladly received the instruction and training of their coaches. That year those players took our team farther than any team in the history of our school. Are we willing to train, be accountable, and discipline ourselves? I am telling you to praise the Lord that you have experienced Jesus Christ living through his people, Christians. Praise the Lord that you are excited about the body of Christ. The question is whether we are willing to enter into a unique relationship with the team. Are we willing to train, be accountable, and discipline ourselves through practice? Too many of us want to be Christians in name only. We love running out on the field on Sunday mornings with the whole team. We love sitting on the bench, or pews, cheering on the cause of Christ in our world. But we want to sleep-in spiritually Monday through Saturday, avoiding any serious commitment. We want to run light in practices and go home early, if we even choose to go to practice. We want to be winners without ever changing our priorities, schedules, or behaviors. So we chronically avoid any serious accountability with our teammates. We shun the training, instruction, and discipline of our spiritual coach. We make excuses. The Church’s image problem rests in the fact that we don’t properly train for godliness. Anyone can take the first step in relationship to God’s family. Anyone can be on the receiving end of Christ’s love, forgiveness, and generosity. But it’s the second step of training that will transition us from receiving to living. For the remainder of our time I want to describe what training for godliness looks like. I want to explain why every one of us should intentionally take this second step. Training for godliness involves accountability. One big key to unlocking life change involves you and me giving people permission to hold us accountable for our spiritual growth and maturity. This is what Church membership is all about and why we push for it so often. When you become a member of a church like Lakeside, you are giving our congregation and our leadership permission to oversee your spiritual growth and maturity. When you become a member, you are inviting the body of Christ to pay attention to your life, to speak the truth in love, to teach you, to correct you, to rebuke you if necessary, and to train you in righteousness. When you refuse membership, you are posting signs like, "Do Not Enter", "No Trespassing", and "Do not Disturb." One of the most important principles of spiritual growth that I have discovered is that we grow in direct proportion to the depth of accountability in our lives. This worship service provides extremely low accountability. People often sit in church services their entire lives without ever changing a single belief, priority, or behavior. In contrast, our Deeper Life groups provide higher accountability. Every week someone is asking you, "How is your Bible reading going? How is your prayer life? How is work? How is your family? How are you? Can I pray for you?" You cannot participate in a Deeper Life group without growing more consistent in some basic habit like Bible reading, Bible study, scripture memorization, prayer, devotions, sharing your faith, or all of the above! Training for godliness involves encouragement. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching." One of the primary reasons we meet together is to encourage one another. It is so easy for any of us to grow weary in "doing good." The world saps our strength and drains our resolve to live a godly life. The world encourages divorce, selfishness, greed, promiscuity, fornication, pornography use, euthanasia, vulgar language, workaholism, self-worship and vanity, coveting, lust, instant gratification, and hundreds of other sordid qualities. It is so easy to get swept away by our culture. It is more important now than ever before, to consistently meet together so that we can encourage one another to stay the course. No one offers the kind of encouragement and inspiration the Church offers. In the Church you are encouraged to speak wholesomely, to manage your emotions, to look beyond yourself, to listen, to serve others, and to meet people’s needs. In the Church you are encouraged to work things out with your spouse, to be reconciled, to take the high road, to communicate, and to never give up. In the Church you are encouraged to forgive, to show mercy, to be generous, to do good to those who hurt you, to trust God, and to tell the truth. To be kind, compassionate, considerate, humble, gentle, patient, and peaceful. The one thing I love most about the Church is that we champion godliness. We celebrate any progress a person makes toward becoming more like Christ. We spur one another on toward love and good deeds. We lean on each other for support and inspiration. Contrast what the Church does with what happens in your peer group at school or in your work environment. One of my favorite passages on the Church is in Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV) because it expresses the positive impact our ministry and encouragement has on each other. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." As the world tears us down and seeks to destroy us, we build one another up in love. Training for godliness involves discipline. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Proverbs 1:7 (NIV) says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Jay loaned me two high school textbooks from the 1940's. As I flipped through the books I found that there is a section that explains the goals of the course. I couldn’t believe the kinds of things they were asking high school students to do! They were expected to read the entire Bible cover to cover. They were expected to memorize serious chunks of scripture. They were expected to know and be able to define difficult ideas and concepts. They were expected to sit down and summarize the lives of Bible characters, New Testament events, and more. As I read the list the thought entered my mind, "What if we expected high school students to do this kind of serious Bible study today?" This is stuff I wasn’t even expected to do in many of my Bible college classes. Yet high school students were doing it in the 1940's! What is the difference between kids today and kids in the 1940's? Are high school kids today less intelligent? Do they not have the same intellectual capacity? I’ll tell you what the difference is. We do not value the disciplines. We do not expect our children to read their Bibles. We do not expect them to be familiar with Bible themes, history, characters, stories, terms, and theology. We do not expect them to memorize scripture, to learn how to teach, to pray, to share their faith, to resist temptation, to fast, to serve God, or to be a minister or missionary. Instead, we despise discipline. We steer clear of any and every thing that might seem unpleasant for our children. We want them to be happy, to like us, to play Nintendo, to watch television, to listen to their CD-players. We want them to have what they want. To be entertained and to avoid boredom. That is what we value. We are teaching our children to value instant gratification over the harvest of righteousness and peace that comes through a disciplined life. A disciplined life comes through things that are unpleasant in the short term. Through discipline, we call out the best in ourselves and our children. We make them wise for their entire lives. There can be no training for godliness without discipline. Training for godliness involves opportunity. It only makes sense that every Christian needs an opportunity to train for godliness. At Lakeside, there are an abundance of opportunities to train for godliness. Let me share some of the chronological steps that you might take to grow and thrive spiritually. Attraction EventsWorship CelebrationGuest ReceptionNew L.I.F.E. GroupInvestigating Christ ClassInvestigating Membership ClassPeace Treaty Bible Study (one on one)Baptism and Membership TransferSpiritual Gifts ClassVolunteering and InvolvementMinistry TeamsDeeper L.I.F.E. GroupApprenticeship ProgramContagious L.I.F.E. GroupMinistry Community in-depth trainingEldership and Shepherding Training for godliness entails these components: First, accountability. Second, encouragement. Third, discipline. Fourth, opportunity.