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Ben Fleming: Transforming the Will, Mark 14:32-42

May 10, 2022

Audio Recording

What we think is very much a matter of what we wish and seek to think, and what we feel is very much a matter of what we wish and seek to feel. In short, the condition of our mind is very much a matter of the direction in which our will is set.

Renovation of the Heart
Renovation of the Heart
Ben Fleming: Transforming the Will, Mark 14:32-42
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 So the will, we're talking about the transformation of the will last week. and some of this message will probably make even more sense if you go back and listen to pastor Dave, Daley's awesome message about the mind, the transformation of the mind, the mind, and the will go together. In this context, you can't really separate them. There's a, a push and a pull. And how I think about it is that if the mind, your thoughts and your feelings, let's say you're lost in the woods, your mind, your thoughts and your feelings are the individual steps that you take. But the will is the direction in which those steps are taken. So you need both. If you're making steps and you're staying on your feet while lost in the woods, but you're walking in completely the wrong direction, you'll still find yourself lost if you have the direction, but an inability to make each individual step to walk into that direction towards your destination, you will find yourself going nowhere the will and the mind have to work together in order to experience this overall transformation of becoming more like Christ.

01:15 So this is the goal of the will to create a single minded and joyous devotion. Excuse me, the, the, this is the goal of the Jesus father to create a single mind and joyous devotion to God and his will to what God wants for us and to, to service to him and to others like others, because of him is what the will transformed into Christ. Likeness looks like a joyous devotion to God and his will. Now the problem with this is that the human will naturally is full of duplicity. It's full of confusion, contradiction frustration. We prone to emotion. How many of you know that a lot of times we can be prone to emotion. And so our will, our direction can be hijacked and we can begin to make all kinds of steps, but because we've fallen victim to this crazy emotion and pulling of a culture war, or what have you, we will change our direction and begin to walk very passionately and excitedly in a direction feeling like we're making progress toward Christ likeness, but instead we've changed our will.

02:23 Sometimes even when we don't know it in worship or acknowledgement of something lesser than a good example of, of it is this conspiracy theory that I've heard of. Are you ready for my conspiracy theory? it's called birds. Aren't real. You ever heard of this? Birds are not real. And this conspiracy theory started at just a couple years ago. and it was, it was created by young college student who believe he had made the discovery that between the 1950s and the early two thousands, the us government had killed over 3 billion birds and turned them into animatronic drones in order to survey, not just the United States, but the neighboring countries so killed 3 billion birds so that we could install cameras into every single one of them. And so that the government could surveillance us. And this began to pick up steam that, so they had a few things that went viral and they even went to a few different sporting events and rallies where people were excited and energetic and passionate about a cause or a team or something at that moment. And the idea was that maybe we can use some of these crowds for our cause the birds are not real cause. And so in the middle of some of these rallies and these sporting events, all of a sudden the entire crowd has been commandeered for a chant like birds. Aren't real birds, aren't real. And even a callback chant of Ravens, not real Crow, oh, Crow, not real.

03:59 And all of a sudden billboards begin to come up and t-shirts, and the creator of the conspiracy theory found himself on 60 minutes and all kinds of different national news sources insisting, and having all the answers for all the questions. Well, how could they do this? And how could we develop this kind of technology so fast? And how do you think they killed over 3 billion birds? And how did they do all these things? He's got answers for every single one of these questions, but what it turns out is the entire creation of the birds. Aren't real movement is satirical. And the, the college student that began it was actually like, there is so much ridiculous information that people are willing to believe in this world. We're gonna show them how easily co-opted the human mind can be. If in an emotional and move in a passionate situation, we can even get people that we thought were reasonable to chant along with our ridiculous unformed, not real cause of birds.

04:57 Aren't real, I'm saying all this to you as evidence and to have a little fun, but as evidence that at specific moments in our life where we're particularly vulnerable, or we're particularly excited, our furs up, we're emotional, we're angry. Our will becomes vulnerable to those emotions. And before when we were like, man, we have a good cause we have a good, we're angry at we're gonna move in this direction. All of a sudden we've been pushed completely off course to follow something that was never the main goal in the first place. Now to discover this in our own lives, it takes a lot of work. I'll have you understand? I would highly recommend, continuing to find yourself in a community group. I think this is a good place to discover where our will actually is. I think a therapist is a good way to help discover where our will actually is.

05:52 I think asking questions to our family and to our friends is a good way of discovering where our will actually is because we might think we're headed in one direction, but because of trauma or past experience, we've now find ourselves taking serious steps without knowing that we've completely lost our north star and our main direction. So a good question to ask yourself today is what is my will do I feel like if I want to be a Christ follower today, which I would imagine most of you are already we're working toward this Christ likeness. I would ask yourself as my will intentionally being lined up with the will of God. Because if that is the desire of Jesus who came to earth, and that should be our will too. And sometimes when we ask ourselves the question, we discover that our will has actually turned toward just our personal safety.

06:46 Our will has actually turned toward just trying to quench this fear. That's been in our lives for so long. Now, all that can be part of the equation, but we wanna fall under the ultimate canopy of we wanna follow after our north star, the will of God. Now what we think the mind absolutely matters. What we think though is very much a matter of what we wish to seek and think the will and what we feel is very much a matter of what we wish and seek to feel the condition of our minds is very much a matter of the direction in which our will is set.

07:23 I love that Dallas Willard says this in his book. He says, we're created to be creators of good just as God is. He saw what he created. And he said that it was good. Now Jesus gives us a process. I believe in mark chapter 14. I've never quite seen it this way, but it jumped out to me over the last couple weeks. This is Jesus getting ready to go and be crucified on the cross. But first he stops in this garden with some of his disciples to pray. And it says in verse 32 of mark 14, they went to a place called GETE. And Jesus said to his disciple, sit here while I pray. And he took Peter, James and John, along with him, began to be deeply distressed in trouble. My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He said to them, stay here and keep watch.

08:10 I'm going a little farther. He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible, the hour might pass from him, ABA father, he says, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me yet. Not what I will, but what you will. And then he turns to his disciples and found him sleeping Simon. He said to Peter, are you asleep? Couldn't you keep watch for one hour, watch him pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And once more, he went away and prayed the same thing. And when he came back, he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. He did not know what to say to them returning the third time he said to them, are you still sleeping and resting enough? The hours come look, the son of man is delivered into the hands of sinner's rise. Let us go. Here comes my betrayer. So Jesus does five things. This is a, a list of five things to immediately following this service, adjust your will and your heart to the will of God, works 50% of the time, every time, okay.

09:13 I'm always a little leery to be like, here's a five step process, but I believe that Jesus does show us some things, five things that does that does help us understand how to arrange our will toward the will of gods. The first thing he does is this. He gives up his supremacy, even Jesus, God was skin on comes to this moment in the garden. And he says, ABA father, which is a way of saying, you are the ultimate in charge. Here you are the superior. You are Supreme. Now there's several different ways that we can do this, but no matter what, I would highly recommend you adding this to a little bit of the liturgy or the routine of your life, discovering a way to say you are God and I am not. Now, I want you to do this. I would encourage you to do this even begrudgingly, cuz there's a lot of days where I wake up and I go you're God and I am not. And that stinks cuz there are a lot of stuff I wanna fix.

10:21 And this part of the process is so difficult because we are conditioned to believe that if I just have enough willpower and enough belief in just myself, then I can do all things. Then I can accomplish whatever. And really I've noticed that my motivations, the things that I wanna do, the places that I go are often in service of this idea, that Ben can be the ultimate control person of my environment and of my life. But if we regularly rearrange our hearts to say he is God and I am not. Then we begin this process of truly submitting ourselves to the will of God. Another wonderful way to do this. That is so anti-Western culture is to rest regularly. There are two kinds of people in this world, the ones that see an opportunity for rest and they take it. And the other ones that see an opportunity for rest and they say, this is extra time to accomplish everything I wanna accomplish.

11:25 Look at this extra time. And some of you have gotten really, really, really good at this. Saturday comes around. You thought you were gonna have to work, but you don't. And the people in your life look around you and go, oh my gosh, we could do this and we could do this and you go, yeah, now's the time to catch up on that to-do list that I've been wanting to catch up on for so long. And you find yourself out in the yard, you find yourself working from home, come on. Some of you were like, oh my gosh, I can work from home. This is mean I can choose my own hours. And some of you were like, this means all the hours I can work. Now I can work 24 7. But when we rest, we don't just say the words out loud. We say he's God and I am not. I will not accomplish everything, but the God of the universe can, Jesus gives up supremacy. the second thing Jesus speaks his mind in prayer. I'm a big believer that a powerful prayer is willing to talk to God in an angry time, in a happy time, in a frustrated time, in a confused time.

12:28 And I'm even gonna say this. I think those who are strong prayers are willing to speak in plain language in their conversations with God. I think Jesus knew the task. He knew the assignment and still he comes up to the end of it. And he goes, this feels like a bad idea. God, if this could happen differently, that would be lovely. And some of us have been through pain and frustration and confusion. Some of us have lost family members. You've lost jobs. You've lost opportunities. You've found yourself in the midst of this incredible sorrow that Jesus is also feeling at this moment. And sometimes we feel like we have to temper those thoughts and those feelings. I want to tell you that one of the ways that you can begin to fall under that will of God is be open and honest and authentic enough to speak your full mind to God.

13:24 A lot of times, those moments encourage us to hear when we say out loud, what we're actually thinking and it helps move those thoughts and feelings toward the direction of God's will. The third thing Jesus does is he surrenders his will yet. Not what I will, but what you will not what I will, but what you will after he speaks his mind. The fourth thing is this Jesus finds, contentment says he goes and he finds the disciples. He goes back and he prays again. And in the middle of this, he finds contentment. He doesn't ask will God do what? I want his pain. Doesn't turn to bitterness. And his disappointment doesn't turn to paralysis. When we move into contentment and assurance that God has and will always do right by us. When we move into contentment, we receive the assurance that God has and will always do right by us. The fifth thing is this Jesus participates in the will of God. This is the simplest and most straightforward. And yet I believe the most difficult, so much of following God. I love to have exist in my mind. And in theory, oh, theory is lovely. Theory. Never has to put shoes on and walk outside in the rain. I've been, coaching my kids' little league team and coaching your kids' little league team sounds so romantic

15:20 And wonderful until you're actually with the children.

15:26

15:28 Oh, but you're not just with the children. You're with their parents. You're with their parents And other coaches. I am, I am coaching. I'm just gonna vent for a moment right here. I am coaching my kid's little league team. There's a play at the plate. These are seven year olds. I'm not an umpire and there's a play at the plate. It's super close. I was right on my call, but I called this player out and I hear, oh, come on. Ty goes the, And I'm like, oh, we're literally not keeping, Where are we? I thought this started with like crazy high school parents. We're losing our minds. So someone says, yeah, coach your little league team. It's like, oh yes, all the uniforms. And we're gonna have team photos. And then the people show up.

16:39 We're gonna surrender the will of God. We're gonna believe that he is Supreme. He's the authority. We're gonna speak our mind in these difficult moments to God. Even if it's difficult, we surrender to his will. After speaking our mind, we find contentment and then we have to participate. We gotta show up for people. We gotta do the difficult work of mining out with our community. And sometimes our therapist and sometimes our pastor with where is our will actually pointed right now because I might think it's in the right direction. But maybe I slowly got off course. As I felt lost in the woods. And I became fearful and I became protective of my own skin and I've lost the will of God somewhere along the way we have to participate. We have to participate with our city, your neighborhood, your family, this congregation, this community. We have to actually put the shoes on, walk out into the rain. We have to communicate. We have to struggle. We have to cry. We have to laugh. We have to participate. It will come with a dramatic and incredible and intense amount of pain. And it will come with an intense and incredible amount of victory and excitement where we have to participate.

18:05 I'll finish up with these last couple things. I'm gonna share with you a story I'm gonna share with you a quote, and then I'm gonna read one last section of scripture. I once asked my mom who I feel like I talk about my dad all the time. you know, I consider my dad my hero and my mom and I are almost the same person. My mom and I both love books. We love fireplaces. We love long baseball games. We both believe that the Oregon coast is meant to look at and not touch

18:37 .

18:40 As when I got married, we started going to the beach and she was like, well, we gotta get in. I'm like, oh no, we didn't do that. When I was growing up. no, no, no, no, no. You get a place where you get a view and then you watch the, sometimes you open the window and you hear the waves. Oh, wind and sand and oof, Ugh.

19:01 And my mom, my mom has done a lot. My dad has, has pastored ever since I've been born, he's been a pastor for 33 years and my mom has worked at a bank. She's been an EMT. She's been a teacher. she's worked for an eye doctor. She became a principal. She oversaw an entire district of schools. She essentially became a hospice nurse for my grandmother, her mother for the last year and a half of her life. My mom has left her jobs in the district, to spend more time at home and helping the church cuz my dad has contracted Parkinson's over the last several years. And so she looks after many, many things in that context.

19:50 I remember one time when I think I was in high school, I was asking mom as you know, I'm 16 or whatever I was I'm full of all this ambition. Right? And I said, mom, like you do like the teaching and stuff, but like, what's like the goal, where are you going? What's the big thing. And mom probably just looked up from her book, you know? And she looked at me and she said, I think my goal, if I was gonna have one is to think deeply to care for the things that many other people think are ordinary.

20:30 She likes to think about the trees she'd care for students. She cared for us, cares for us. And she communicated to me the importance of this depth of these things that everyone thinks are unimportant or too ordinary to have a desire to participate in. Maybe it's these small things where we actually discover the bigness and the greatness of God. As we talk about the will of God today, I want to encourage you to not fall into the trap of when I discover the will of God, I will find this big pile of treasure and then everything will change. I want you to know that discovering how much God loves us is like firing a, finding a big pile of treasure. Jesus even tells a story similar to that, but I want you to know to wait for this big dynamic moment, the next promotion, and the next job is that when you finally find yourself financially stable, when you finally find the one, the relationship, the person, the family, the city, the job. I want you to understand that more often than not the greatest evidence of the will of God in our life will happen in our handling, in our care taking of what our ordinary moments.

21:52 William law says this in a serious call to a devout and holy life, he says, would you know who is the greatest Saint in the world? It's not, he who prays most or fasts. Most it's not. He who gives most alms or is the most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. But it is he who is always thankful to God who wills everything that God will. If who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. I hope that we can find hope in understanding that the will of God is for all of us today. That there's a way to come into it. And I hope you also find hope in understanding that discovering the will of God to become more Christlike. Isn't intended to turn us all into Christian or west side zombies. We're not meant to just empty our brains and to throw away all of the giftings and the hard wiring that God has created us with.

22:59 I think sometimes we make the incredible mistake in church of talking to small children. And Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so, and when he created you, he created you with love and he knows all the hair on your head. And then somehow when our world turns into adults or even high schoolers, we often look at the people in it and we turn them into some kind of terrible, awful unlovable rich. But I know because Jesus said it himself, that God so loved the world that he made us with intention. And so while finding and discovering the will of God for our life, doesn't just empty our brains. Instead it amplifies and it magnifies the personality traits that God has given to you specifically all the giftings and the longings and the people that you think about God wants to use a uniquely you identity to continue to accomplish the will of God for his kingdom.

24:00 We definitely lose ourselves in Christ. And he is faithful to continue to use who he has made us to be in his will. Dallas Willard says this, and I'll finish with this. We'll read a scripture. It says it is the first time. Once we have fallen beneath the will of God, that our will is actually fully functional and not at war with itself, capable of directing all of the parts of ourselves in harmony with one another under the direction of God. Now we do not hesitate to do what is right, and to do wrong. We would have to work hard against ourselves if you're ever wondering what is a good way for me to remind myself that I need to fall beneath the will of God, the canopy of the will of God to live my life, to its fullest. Here's a simple prayer that you're probably familiar with. And Matthew six verse nine, it says this, this then is how you should pray our father in heaven. How it would be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts. As we also have forgiven our debtors and lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.