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 Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 10:24-25, Matthew 5:16, Romans 12:20-21, Galatians 6:9-10 Downloads & Resources What is Our Purpose? Dr. Jon Morrissette - 8/1/2004 What is God's Purpose for Our Life?Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life has sold over seventeen million copies, making it one of the highest selling Christian books ever. The book seeks to answer the question, "What on earth am I here for?" Say what you want about the book or about Rick Warren, but he’s struck a chord. People are hungry to discover a transcendent purpose to life beyond mere existence. My dad sent me an e-mail this week. I don’t know where he finds this stuff! "On the first day, God created the dog. God said, 'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of 20 years.' The dog said, 'That's too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I'll give you back the other ten.' So God agreed." "On the second day God created the monkey. God said, 'Entertain people, do monkey tricks, and make them laugh. I'll give you a twenty-year life span.' The monkey said, 'How boring, monkey tricks for twenty years? I don't think so. The dog gave you back ten, so that's what I'll do too, okay?' And God agreed." "On the third day God created the cow. God said, 'You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a life span of sixty years.' The cow said, 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty and I'll give back the other forty.' And God agreed again." "On the fourth day God created man. God said, 'Eat, sleep, play, marry, and enjoy your life. I'll give you twenty years.' Man said, 'What? Only twenty years! Tell you what. I'll take my twenty and the forty the cow gave back and the ten the monkey gave back and the ten the dog gave back. That makes eighty, okay?' 'Okay,' said God, 'You've got a deal.' " "So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone." Beyond this, what on earth are we here for? What is God’s purpose for us? A Story of Purpose There was a young white teenager from a rural farm town in Iowa who was laying in his bed one night, talking to God, and pondering this very question. He prayed, "God, I want you to know I will do anything you want me to do with my life." There was a time in my life when I spoke these same idealistic words. It's not that I cannot or will not speak them today, but it's that I have discovered first-hand how seriously God takes them. If you dare pray these words and find your purpose in God, brace yourself. You are in for the ride of your lifetime. After graduating from college this same young man moved from a rural Iowa town to one of Chicago’s toughest, most impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. Wayne Gordon began teaching and coaching football at Farragut High School. Within their first three years, he and his wife’s apartment was broken into ten times. They found that they were victims of their first robbery when they returned from their honeymoon. Instead of running, Wayne and his wife Anne began praying and trusting God. Wayne got involved with a group called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and he began holding Bible studies in their apartment after school. He would teach kids about Jesus Christ and encourage them to get involved in a church. After a while, they moved into a storefront on Ogden Avenue which was located on Chicago’s west side. They lived in an apartment upstairs, but used the downstairs storefront for studies. At that time the local school was getting beat up in football by suburban schools. The inner-city youth weren’t as strong as their suburban competitors. The school lacked money to purchase weights and didn’t have an adequate sports program. So Coach, as he was affectionately known, worked with the kids and raised money to purchase weight equipment. The Gordons installed the equipment in their storefront and had players from the football team over. Every day kids from the school came over and lifted weights. Each time the Gordons would tell them about Jesus Christ and encourage them to get involved in a local church. The coach also worked with the Chicago Bears to develop an athletic program. In 1975 a core group of students and a mother of some of the boys approached Wayne Gordon and his wife about starting a church. They couldn’t find a church like what they talked about in their Bible studies. So with fifteen kids, the coach and his wife started a church right there in the storefront. The kids began inviting their friends and families, and things started happening. Lacking any money and resources whatsoever, the church got creative about meeting needs. You may laugh, but one of their first big outreaches was installing a washing machine and dryer in the back of the storefront for people to wash their laundry. Well the church couldn’t even afford a washing machine and dryer. So they got on their knees and prayed for God to provide. Some couple learned of their need and donated a new washer and dryer to their little church. Through faith and hard work, the church began growing. It grew from a handful of students to over five hundred people. They grew by building bridges into their community. If you drove down Ogden Avenue in Chicago today, you wouldn’t even know the church existed. There isn’t a church building, at least not in the traditional sense. But if you paid attention, you will notice dozens of buildings with green painted doors. As the church grew, they began buying abandoned store fronts, buildings, and apartments. Whenever they would reclaim a new part of the community of Lawndale for Jesus Christ, they would paint the door of that building or place green. In one storefront they have established a twenty-four bed facility to help men reenter society after being released from prison or after recovering from substance abuse. While there, the men are given foundational Bible teachings, job readiness skills, and encouragement through a faith oriented twelve-step support program. After three months in Hope House, the men may work at one of Hope House's partnering employers. They receive counseling in money management, savings, and Christian stewardship. Many of the men are reconciled to their spouses, children, and families. After a successful nine months the men may choose to move into the Nehemiah House, where they continue to be guided and discipled as they learn long-range planning and goal-setting. Other men move on to establish their own households. Over four hundred men have finished their program. One hundred twenty have recreated lives and are drug free. In another storefront the church has established a complete children’s and youth program. They provide safe recreation and foundational Bible teaching. They have a learning center where they provide mentoring and teach computers, literacy, and sex education. In one building the youth dug out a basement by hand and built a small gymnasium. The gym attracts youth off the street and gives them a safe place to hang out, build friendships, and learn sports. They established a "Hip Hope" worship experience involving spiritual dancing, break dancing, rap and freestyle sessions, dramas, skits, step groups, and preaching. In another storefront they have created a health clinic for families. They established a second health clinic across town in the old Sears complex. Dozens of doctors, some paid and many volunteers, give their time and expertise providing badly needed health care. They’ve gotten serious about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, and have developed a complete abstinence training program for local schools. They received a huge grant, and now have a hotline, educational materials, staff, and more. They have provided hundreds of units of housing and are networking with other churches to create ten thousand brand new housing units in Lawndale in next few years. In the inner city there are no grocery stores or restaurants. Instead, there are all these tiny stores which are run by Arabs, with barred windows, that overcharge for grocery items. So the church convinced a local food chain called Dominick's to establish a store in their neighborhood. They also convinced a well-known pizza franchise to build a store and donate the proceeds back into the community. They’ve established a number of small businesses to create jobs in the inner city. They’ve established a community development center to revitalize the inner city with middle class jobs, housing, and businesses. They’ve gotten serious about loving God, but also about loving people. Some little boy prays, "God, I want you to know, I will do anything you want me to do with my life." Look what happened! That was just one life! What is God's Purpose for Your Life? It’s ironic that millions of Christians across the United States are sitting around scratching their heads asking, "What on earth am I here for? How can I make my life matter?" There are many good things we can choose for ourselves. But God has a transcendent purpose for each of our lives. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Here is a thought. What isn’t happening that could be happening if instead of missing God’s good purposes, we embraced them? In his book The Church of Irresistible Influence Robert Lewis invites us to imagine. "Imagine the community in which you live being genuinely thankful for your church. Imagine city leaders valuing your church’s friendship and participation in the community—even asking for it. Imagine the neighborhoods around your church talking behind your back about "how good it is" to have your church in the area because of the tangible witness you’ve offered them of God’s love. Imagine a large number of your church members actively engaged in, and passionate about, community service—using their gifts and abilities in ways and at levels they never thought possible. Imagine the community actually changing because of the impact of your church’s involvement. Imagine many in your city, formerly cynical and hostile toward Christianity, actually praising God for your church and the positive contributions your members have made in Jesus’ name. Imagine the spiritual harvest that would naturally follow if all this were true." In that same book Robert Lewis spoke of churches being nothing more than "a sideshow along the interstate of the world’s real traffic." What a disheartening image, especially when we imagine all that we could be as a church. When we imagine our church completing all the good works God prepared in advance for us. If we walked into any of the neighborhoods surrounding our church and knocked on the door and asked, "What do you know about Lakeside Christian Church?", what do you think people would say? What good things would we be known by, besides our building? Our location? The fact that we hold weekly worship services? The fact that a lot of people come here? Are we anything more than a sideshow along the interstate of the world’s real traffic? And if we're not anything more, what do we do about it? 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 purpose God has for us gathering together each week is that we might spur one another on toward love and good deeds. A spur is a small spiked wheel attached to the heel of a rider’s boot. The spur is nudged into a horse’s sides to encourage it to go faster. It's great to imagine the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do, but we need one another’s accountability to give us that shot in the ribs that says, "Let’s get moving… faster…" Matthew 5:16 (NIV) says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Romans 12:20-21 (NIV) says, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV) says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people." This is what it comes down to. Are we going to get serious about being God’s workmanship? I want you to think about Wayne Gordon’s childhood prayer, "God, I want you to know that I will do anything you want me to do with my life." Do you have the courage to make yourself one hundred percent disposable for Christ’s purposes? What do you think God wants you to do with your life? Are you doing that thing? Are you making a contribution? What good are you doing in Christ’s name? There is nothing more exciting then being God’s workmanship. If you make yourself available to God today, he will begin showing you things and leading you into his purposes in a way that you can only imagine right now. In Lawndale God did remarkable things through a courageous church, and the church isn’t about one person. It is about hundreds of people encouraging one another to do good deeds in the name of Christ. One said, "I’ll donate a washer and dryer." Another one said, "I’ll raise money for weight equipment." And another, "I’ll teach children to read and write." And another, "I’ll talk to doctors about establishing a health clinic." And another, "I’ll teach youth abstinence." "I’ll establish a twelve step group for alcoholics." "I’ll begin a food pantry." "I’ll help prisoners re-enter society." "I’ll teach computer classes and job skills." "I’ll do a Bible study in my neighborhood." God wants to redeem our community. He wants to take it back. He uses people with the guts to pray, "I’ll do anything you want me to do with my life."