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Trusting God

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On June 16 2016 my life plunged into pitch-black darkness when my oldest son chase died in a car accident the death of a child is like having a bright light suddenly extinguished in the middle of the night and not being able to see anything until your eyes adjust to the dark it it takes time as little by little you begin to make out shapes and textures the death of a loved one or the death of a relationship and even the death of our dreams all can send us to the edge of losing our faith it's like a sudden shift from light to dark and only very slowly does one begin to perceive what was once familiar maybe loss or death has invaded your life in a way you didn't anticipate and you're trying to navigate your pain or that of those around you I've been where you are when life disappoints us and when you feel God has disappointed you it's easy to lose hope I wrote walking in the dark to help process the many questions I faced you won't find in the pages of this book me glossing over hard questions we all share you will find a longtime Christian struggling with truths I thought I knew about God about myself hoping to rediscover something solid to hold on - after my world came crashing down I've had to wrestle with God for myself for my family and even for my community but what I found is a God willing to listen to our cries and our questions and what I've come to believe is actually stronger and more sustained this book is not written from the place of pitch black that was my reality for many many months rather it chronicles my struggling my searching even my fighting to allow the light to slowly illuminate my path once again my hope is that you'll find a safe place to explore your questions and doubts or help a friend or family member do the same when life doesn't make sense and perhaps this book can act as a lamp for you it will not illuminate your entire path but it might help you take me turn myself on there I am hey everybody hey great to see you happy Father's Day if you're a dad in the house would you just raise your hand right now and can we tell the dads thank you so much for all they do for our community and and personally dads I mean of all the days that you could get a pass on Church and you're here that's a way to go I love that and just when I actually just want to pray for you right now all right let's say we do that Jesus I thank you for everyone that you brought together today and in particular Lord I pray for the dads here that would sense your encouragement in your favor and your love and your affirmation of them today and that and that you're with us and we thank you Jesus for the men of our community and that you would continue to help us walk with integrity in every area of our lives in Jesus name Amen man well as you can see over here I've got some swords so not just because his father's day but these actually hang on the wall in the in the living room of my house don't ask me how I got convinced my wife to let me hang a bunch of swords on the wall actually it's because of the story behind them I won't go into too much detail here but when my his sons turned 12 I have four sons when they turn 12 I gave them a sword we walked up the Souths sister kind of a hike to manhood and then when we got back down I each I gave them a sword and if you're familiar with the Lord of the Rings or tokens writings you'll notice that these are all from the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit and I'm a bit of a geek that way as you'll find out later in the message as well if you weren't here last week so these these swords are a constant reminder actually of God's faithfulness of how the decisions and the commitment that we made as men to walk together to live with integrity my sons and the decision they made to live with integrity in this life and so I'll come back to these in just a moment but I wanted to explain why they're up here so you weren't wondering the entire message why there's a bunch of swords on the stage last week we talked about wrestling with God if you weren't here it was a message of where my decision to get in the ring with God and I had questions that there weren't easy answers for I had doubts and I needed it to get in in into the ring with him and ask him some of those things and actually I demanded some answers I got some answers they weren't always the ones I wanted but I did get answers from him and today I want to talk a little bit about some of those answers when I went to Croatia on my sabbatical three years ago we've it was a place where we lived and I visited old friends and my dearest friend there his name's nebbish and he talked to me about another way of looking at life especially in times of hardship and he talked about how look at life like rowing a boat where you're still moving into the future because we're so future focused you know and sometimes at the expense of the past but he gave me this image of like rowing a boat through the waves and I'm still moving into my future but I'm doing it from a different perspective and that and in a season of hard times I'm looking backwards well Nikolas Walter store in his book lament of a son he wrote it after the tragic loss of his son he describes it this way we are to hold the past in remembrance and not let it slide away for in history we find God so I had to look back at the stories of God for myself the stories that I heard as a child and I had to wrestle with them myself and in the midst of suffering and loss this is what I believed that each of us must decide what we believe about God in those moments and I'll be the first to tell you it's not easy to follow God in those moments one he's invisible there's anybody who wish that he'd just show up and like oh that's why I believe in you you know because you're like amazing but he doesn't he's invisible so that makes it tough to he allows some pretty awful things to happen in the world and for a lot of people that's when they tap out and then three this relationship with God is based on this thing called faith and faith in an end of itself the very definition of it isn't necessarily based on everything you can prove everything and it's it's and I'm gonna talk more about how faith and doubt kind of coexist together but it says in those darkest moments of my journey that when I was on the edge of giving up my hope and my faith in God and I decided to keep looking I decided to keep searching and I found him again and and I want to tell you what I found let me ask you how many of you have walked the River Trail how many of you have walked the River Trail all right if you live in Bend and haven't walked the River Trail go ahead and move sometime okay you guys just you don't deserve to live here I mean no just kidding I'm cute but for those of you that are watching online or that visiting Central Oregon we have this River Trail around the Deschutes River flows right through Ben there's a three mile loop that's pretty easy but then there's also a large loop if you want to go a little bit further and and I can tell you you will never get lost on this trail for two reasons one the river is there so it's all you depending on which way you go it's either on your left or your right just keep that in mind and to I don't know how many thousands of people walk on this River Trail every year but it is well trodden it is a clear pathway and you cannot get lost faith in God following God is not that easy though even though we have 2000 years of history of people walking that path of trusting in Jesus Christ yet I mean why couldn't why couldn't trustee then Jesus be like trusting in the river Joe it's not and there's a lot of reasons why it's not you stub your toe and you're like I don't want to do this anymore storm clouds come in and you can't find it anymore culture rejects it and says there's better trails or whatever there's a lot of reasons we decide that it may not be the right path but but I decided to look back at 2,000 years of history and ask what what were the core beliefs of the people that chose to continue to follow Jesus even in the midst of suffering even even in the mince pie dove the hardships in life they chose to stay on that path and I wanted to find out why and through that three things just kind of kept popping up three things kept coming like this these were they were repetitive they were like the people that kept believing they were kept believing in these three things and so I so that's when I got in the ring with God it took months of struggle of questioning of doubts me and my wife fought not in a bad way but we were like argued about truths about God that we thought we knew and like I don't know if I know I don't know if I believe this anymore and these three ideas became they stuck with me eventually as things that I put my trust why I put my trust in God why I follow Jesus and here are the three things I want to unpack these a little bit today first God can be trusted because God has my world and the whole world in his hands - God can be trusted because God is for me and not against me 3 God can be trusted because God keeps his promises now obviously in 16 minutes 17 minutes that I have left on my countdown clock in the back there I can't unpack all of these I don't have time to unpack with these I just wish there was a book that did that anyway shameless plug there you go that's all I'm gonna say about that but what I want to do today is I want to look at this briefly look at the life of Jesus and how he embodies these three ideas how because of Jesus we can trust these three things about God so let's I'm gonna go fast so let's just hop right in first thing God can be trusted because God has my world and the whole world in his hands I wondered if Jesus trusted God that God had his world in his hands because in in Matthew chapter 26 in during the greatest trial of Jesus the greatest suffering of Jesus right before he's gonna go to the cross he's in the Garden of Gethsemane and he's pouring out his his heart to God and he says they praise these words my father if it is possible let this cup of suffering be taken away from me and then on the cross he prays a prayer which I think is the prayer of anyone who has suffered my God my God why have you abandoned me now at first glance you might think these prayers are prayers of unbelief or a lack of trust and I'm I would argue is the opposite that these prayers that Jesus prays only can come from a place of trust they can only come from a place where you have at one point in your life put your faith in God Jesus would not have prayed father if it's possible let this cup of suffering be taken away from me if he didn't believe that God could take the cup of suffering away so in he believed Jesus believed that God had his world in his hands God if there's anybody that can take this cup of suffering away it's you and then on the cross he cries out God why have you abandoned me which presupposes that Jesus experience of God was that he was always with him see these prayers come not from unbelief but from a place of belief I believe it's only when you affirm God's sovereignty and then life doesn't work out the way that you thought it would that these prayers then come from that place where you've believed that God is is he's got your whole world in his hands so I've come to believe something about faith that faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive they can be in the same person at the same time and they are not opposed to one another matter of fact I actually believe that my faith is a deeper faith because of my doubts that I've chosen to believe that God has my world and the whole world in his hands in spite of the evidence now you might think we'll see that's that's naive maybe it is and maybe I'm wrong but as I as I talk about in my book I'd rather be I'd rather have a faith in God and find out that I was wrong than have no faith in God and find out I was wrong that's just just think about that for a minute and you'll get it ultimately Jesus came to him fully embrace God's oversight of his life his involvement in his life when at the end of that prayer father if it's possible would you take this cup of suffering from me but but not my will your will be done it's a prayer of faith it's a prayer of trust that at the end of the day I put my life in your hands and I'm not saying this is easy it's not but this is the only place that that we that you can live with any chance of having trust in God is if you decide Lord I believe you have my world in your hands and I can trust you I can trust you with it we will always struggle I think with why God allows bad things to happen because our earthly perspective is limited we can't see beyond the death we can't see beyond the broken relationships we can't see beyond the financial collapse and so I think we'll always struggle with this idea even Jesus struggled with it but he held on to something and he just kept praying not my will not not my will but yours yours be done because at the end of the day I can trust you God because I believe you have my world in your hands second reason I think that we see with Jesus that God can be trusted because God is for me and not against me I'm not sure why God allowed my son to die by the way he allowed it if you believe in the first thing that God has your world in his hands then he had the power to stop my son from dying it's just it's just that's just the way that sequence goes and so I'm not sure why he allowed my son to die and from where I stood in the middle of my grief I could see nothing nothing but pain coming from his death but I just I see a light Donny and I see something of light in the distance and and and the reason I see is because I the the entire narrative of the Bible is pointing to this person Jesus and it's all about restoring and redeeming it's about taking old things and making them new it's about it's it's about reconciling us to God and the fullest expression of that is found in Jesus Christ see Jesus is front and center in the story of redemption in the story of reconciliation he's front and center in that story the author of Hebrews he writes this about Jesus he says that Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact say exact the exact imprint of God's nature think about that so Jesus is the radiance of glory God and the exact imprint of his nature which means that Jesus is the totality of God's goodness made manifest in humanity let me say that one more time that Jesus is the totality of God's goodness may manifest in humanity in other words you don't need to look anywhere else to know if God is good you don't need to look in the Old Testament you might find the goodness of God there I'm not you won't but you don't have to look there to find this goodness you don't have to look at creation to find God's goodness I think you'll find this goodness there but you don't have to look there to find it all you have to see is look at Jesus to see if God is good or not and over and over as you study the life and Ministry of Jesus you see him caring for the brokenhearted loving the outcasts caring for the orphans and the widows and the women who were not cared for in that culture over and over you see the goodness of Jesus even people who don't follow Jesus believed that he was a good man you can trust God because in Jesus you see that God who is the Jesus who is the fullest expression of God right the exact representation is good that God is for you and not against you you can trust God because in Jesus he has your world and the whole world in his hands in Jesus He is for you and not against you and the third thing that God can be trusted because God keeps his promises I don't know I don't know this was the last bastion just fall for me still to be honest there are days that I wonder his promises here's the problem I had I had this mixture of old and new testaments in growing up in the church that I believed that God would bless me if I obeyed his Commandments I believed that God would pour out his laws because that's what the Old Testament actually says that if God over and over says if you follow me if you do what I command if you obey my word then I will bless you and I will pour out a pour out upon you you know all of this kind of kind of language and and so of course when chase died it because I have this kind of mix-and-match of all the New Testaments in me I when chase died my first go to is like what have I done what did I do wrong to deserve this because I had this if-then kind of mindset and it was the and so this idea of God keeps his promises I was like yeah if you're good if you do what's right so I kept wrestling with this and I came to this place that I realized that if the promises of God are yes and amen if the promises of God are for me and my family and my life and for your life and for this time and air that we're living in if this promises are for today they have to be based on something more solid than if you do what he says he'll bless you because we don't do what he says that's the narrative of the Old Testament they gave the Ten Commandments and none of us can keep them all of the time so I guess I'm out of the blessings of God shoot see the promises of God has to be based on something more solid than if-then statements so think about this what if all of God's promises every single one of them in the old New Testament time in history from this day forward what if all of God's promises were fulfilled and will be fulfilled in a person in one man who came to set the captives free who came to reconcile the world to himself see Jesus is not only the fullest expression of God himself into humanity but he's also the fulfillment of every one of his promises CS Lewis writes at these rights it this way what reason have we accept our own desperate wishes to believe that God is by any standard we can conceive good doesn't all the evidence suggests exactly the opposite what have we to set against it we set Christ against it so God's goodness and faithfulness is not transactional and someone should say right onto that it is not based on what you do or what you do not do God is not God is does isn't good to some and and and mean to others because of how they live their lives he's just not and that might take some of you up because you wish that he'd be a little bit more mean to some of the people that deserve it that's another message for another time as nothing to do with today but what but God's goodness isn't based on transactional if-then type of stuff it's just not if you do certain things than God will do certain things is not part of the New Covenant it's not part of the way of Jesus Jesus shows mercy to all and I know this to be true yeah you can applaud that that's all good so again listen there are days I question and I doubt the faithfulness of God still but I'm learning to view all of life through the lens of what Jesus Christ has already done so what does Jesus promise what does Jesus what did what did Jesus promise that's an interesting question well the first thing what you say eternal life who it was that a child that said that or just a lady that sounded like it's all good you have a beautiful voice yeah so let me tell you I mean I just like just off the top of my head I was thinking what did what did Jesus promise and it would be a you should study this sometime so right I thought my head jesus promised that we would suffer he's kept that one alright so he promised that we would suffer but he also promised that he would be with us and never leave us or forsake us in the midst of our suffering and I can tell you from my perspective and what I've been through he's kept that one third third he promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us to walk with us to live in us to comfort us to to remind us of what Jesus taught in the way of Jesus and I can tell you from my perspective and what I've experienced he's kept that one and fourth thing I just immediately thought of was like he promised that to go and prepare a place for us and then one day we will be with him forever eternal life and I got to tell you because he's kept the first three promises I'm really confident is gonna keep the fourth I'm certain of it so so I'm learning everything in this life the good and the bad and the tragic in that wonderful I'm trying to see it through the lens of what Jesus has done that I can trust God because Jesus has my world and the whole world in his hands I can trust God because Jesus is for me and not against me I can trust God because Jesus keeps his promises but I didn't get there overnight and I and it took a lot of time and and I and I'm sure it'll take you a while I we developed a resource so Steven hacker a guy in our church and myself we worked on on a trust assessment and he does this in organizations around the world secular organizations and government what not about how do you trust the owners of companies how do you trust the people that you work with this kind of thing and he developed this assessment and so he and I we put our heads together we're like what if we did the same assessment but did it on God what that would look like and through everything who do you think you are crazy but we decided to create an assessment it takes about 15 minutes so you take it and it's it's like 25 questions it's not very long and you get a choice between you feel like God is this or this and you got to just choose one or the other whichever one you're kind of at and what what what happens is it after the end it shows you where you're at what just based on the simple assessment where you're at in your trust in God's capacity his his ability what you believe about does he have your world in his hands or not is his commitment to you is he good and his consistency is he faithful so I want to encourage you this is the only action I haven't given out of this message just go to walking in the dark dot org it's a website we created around the book and you'll see it up on the screen and take this trust assessment and and if you score really low on some of them I want you to things one take encouragement because I did too there were times where I was I scored zero down the line and and I just just don't give up like I said last week just don't get out of the ring to stay in the ring with God and to if you do score low on some of these there's some resources free resources that that get generated for you immediately after taking the assessments so check that out walking in the dark dot org all right band can come back up there's brain right there and I want to come back to the sores as we finish up today because I am at Lord of the Rings complete geek fanatic I am in love with the movies I love them there are three hours long that's each of them and so I understand why some of you haven't watched them but shame on you really I mean it's it's part of the culture of this church so if you want to understand most of my most of the illustrations I use Evan Mike you've watched it Mike Alexander hasn't watched him at all and he wants me to watch him with them but just sounds painful anyways let me come back to the source so this sort over here is I'm gonna geek out just a little bit this is focused it's the sort of Thorin from The Hobbit this is Spencer's sword my 12-year old now thanks now he's 15 so this was three years ago he got this sword this is Legolas is blades he's one of the elf one of the characters this Kincaid's this one is Hudson's it's the throat of sort or is that throat the sword of Frodo it's actually my favorite sources because of how prominent it is in the story the Tolkien wrote it's called sting this one here the big one is after I gave all my boys the swords my wife and my sons gave me this sort of Aragorn and it's a it's the kind of the King's sword and it's a really significant in this whole story I don't I can share this this week but it's it's I'm gonna share next week I actually have a tattoo of that one somewhere on my body I'm going to show you next week so a little bit of a cliffhanger there you can use your use your imagination this is the sort of Gandalf this chases sword this is the one that the first one chase turned 12 he and I walked up to the South sister and then we came back down I gave him this sword and told him to Oh there'll be a man of integrity and anyways the signatures of this sort today for me and for this message is it's a sort of Gandalf and Gandalf if you're not familiar with the movie is a wizard in that in the movie and he is a partner with Frodo and the others that are trying to do their mission and try to throw the ring of power back into the fires of Mordor anyways that's way too much information but this this sort is the sort of Gandalf who is the who's kind of the sage who comes alongside the The Fellowship in his office is always there and is always trying to help them and is always trying to get them to the other side encourage them and in the first movie Gandalf there the Fellowship all running through the dungeons and there's and they're being chased by this demon and it's called a Balrog and and they're being chased by this demon and and Gandalf stops on this bridge and as the rest of the Fellowship is safe and he and he and he takes his sword and he and he jams it into the end of the concrete of the bridge and at the Balrog staring right at the bar going to face this is you shall not pass and and he defeats the Balrog ends up the bridge collapses the Balrog with it and he goes down but in the end Gandalf also falls so then you have to wait until the version the next movie and watch it another three hours before you figure out what happened to the Gandalf because Gandalf didn't die but though everybody thought he had died but he doesn't die any and he's falling with the Balrog with the demon and the swords falling too and in the scene he grabs this sword it's epic it's like it was amazing and he has this battle with this demon and and and as Tolkien writes it was on the mountainside that he smote his ruin or whatever however he says it and it was it's a powerful moment the Gandalf but Gandalf story is not done he comes back to life and he comes back at the at the turn of the tide talking rides at the net to spent the point of greatest sorrow for the Fellowship of the greatest point of like they're not sure they can make it it comes back at the turning of the tide and any and he's more powerful than he ever was and I was thinking about this and he helps them complete their task I was just thinking about this in light of what Jesus has done for us because listens today I don't want this to be I don't want this to be about a book release I don't want today to be about about The Lord of the Rings I want it to be about Jesus because Jesus came and he stared death in the face and he kicked it in the teeth and he said that now we can have life forever because I've overcome this world because I've taken the keys of death and hell and I've overcome and now I give you the power and I give you the authority I fill you with my Holy Spirit to walk he came back from the dead and because of that I know that Jesus is good and for me and not against me I know that he has got my world in his hands and I know that he will keep his promises and because of that I put my trust because of him I put my trust in God but you close your eyes with me just for a moment and I believe that faith is a journey and it's not a one-time decision every day I get that I get up I reaffirm my faith in Jesus but I do believe there's a moment there's a moment when when we decide that I'm gonna put for the first time I'm gonna put my faith in Jesus I and you may not understand all of the Bible and you and you may not it may have questions about Christianity listen I don't understand all of the Bible and I still have questions about Christianity but there's something in you today that is like but Jesus Jesus I will follow Jesus I believe is the fullest representation of God that we have in humanity and and he's someone that I can give my life to and then I can put my trust in and and I'll follow that the day I die and I thought you you want to make that statement that declaration of faith for the first time today would you simply right now to lift up your hand and look up with me thank you Jesus thank you Jesus put our faith in Jesus the author and the finisher the one who began a good work will complete it to the end thank you Jesus we love you for those of us that have been following you for a really long time I just encourage you right now to reaffirm your faith in Jesus to reaffirm that Jesus I believe Jesus I put my trust in you Jesus I'm gonna follow you even if the world around me shakes I will not let go thank you for that in Jesus name Amen can we celebrate with those that made that decision this morning we're not we're not finished yet today we're gonna sing a song and then and then evidence gonna come up and give us some instructions and I believe this song is actually really important for us today as we sing this song Matt asked the prayer teams they're already made their way to the front over at the prayer wall as well and we're gonna do something a little bit different today and as we finish the service if you need prayer you don't have to wait until the very end I'd encourage you right now these next few moments as Lindsay begins this song to just get up out of your seat and go to the prayer team's wherever you feel comfortable and if you want to tell them why you're at the prayer wall tell them if you know I just can you pray for me and they'll pray for you and I believe that we can have an encounter with with Jesus

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