May - Jun 2020

Choose Life

Dave Rodriguez

May 24, 2020

They were right on the doorstep of the Next Chapter of their lives.

  • 10s of thousands of people staring across the river at their soon to be new homeland.

  • With them was Moses, the one who got them here, but would not cross the river with them.

  • Knowing his time was short he gave them his last shot...his final words before handing off the reigns to Joshua. We have those words captured in the book of Deuteronomy.

    • A series of history lessons, sermons, warnings, and pep talks.

Although it's ridiculous to even hint a comparison between Moses and me...his last words do help me summarize my last words to you. And I mean summarize in the most extreme way...just 9 words. 3 last week, 2 today and 4 on my final weekend.

  • Last week I led with these 3 words: Take the land! Bring about the Kingdom of God wherever you go by healing the 6 broken places of the world!

Today I want to focus on just two words that summarize another one of Moses' parting inspirations:
Deuteronomy 30:11-20
"This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, "Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?' 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ";Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?' 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. 15 "Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 "But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. 19 "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
It's that small part of Vs. 19 I want to hone in on..."Oh that you would choose life..." Or more simply... Choose Life!
That is what I wish for you, dear Grace Church friends!
What does it mean to choose life? It's summarized in verse 20: You can make this choice by...

  • loving the Lord your God

    • Jesus: with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

    • ... make God the focus of your devotion and your life !

  • obeying him

    • do the right thing - live obediently

  • committing yourself firmly to him

    • prioritize - God is first always and only

For sure I would agree with Moses on those three ways to choose life
Yes...Choose Life! But I want to go further... I want you to Choose your best possible life!

  • I'm afraid many of you are not. You are not living your best possible life. You sense feel ache for it...and have so for some time.

  • Let me today show you how to Choose life!

What I'm about to something you've heard me say a lot and as a matter of fact very recently.
Choose life by pursuing your destiny.
Everyone begins their adult life journey with great hope and expectation. They begin to climb the first mountain. Climbing this first mountain is all about achieving 2 goals:

  • Establishing your identity

    • Defining yourself

    • Managing your reputation

      • Am I well thought of?

      • How do I measure up?

    • Becoming who you think you're supposed to be

      • You do a lot of keeping score and comparing

  • Achieving the American Dream

    • Personal happiness and security

    • Nice home, nice family, nice vacations, good food, good friends

This is the life we all choose or seek...
But...and there is always a but... almost always something happens. You fall into the valley of bewilderment.
The fall happens because of...

  • Failure. You blow it. You make a huge mistake.

    • Suddenly life doesn't look like steady success.

  • Life-altering pain or tragedy - something unexpected, personal or in others close by

    • Death, illness, breakups,

    • COVID 19

  • Mid-life crisis

    • Is this all there is? There must be something more. Life is disappointing

    • You taste success and find it unsatisfying

Result: Bewilderment!

  • Great anxiety, Frustration, Second guessing.

  • Identity crisis - Who am I?

  • Sometimes much worse...sometimes it can feel like death - death of a dream

So, what now? What do you do when you find yourself in the valley of bewilderment?
How do you... Choose Life!

  • Some try to climb back up the first mountain...make changes to somehow reconfigure their first Mt. life - redefine their identity or grab more of the American dream...

    • Divorce

    • Move

    • Change jobs or careers

    • Get more stuff...

    • Get more religious

But soon they're bewildered again...
There is another choice ... you could begin to climb the 2nd mountain - The Mountain of Destiny!
The second mountain is "a further and fantastic journey". Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

  • He says that the 1st mt is merely the warmup act

On this second mountain... You are no longer interested in what other people tell you that you want or what you should be.

On this second want the things that are worth wanting

The first mountain is about acquisition. The second mountain is about contribution.David Brooks, The Second Mountain

The first mountain is about building up ego and defining the self. The second mountain is about shedding the ego and losing the self. David Brooks, The Second Mountain

The first mountain is about you. The second is about others.

On this second mountain you begin to live in response to a summons on your life! You live in pursuit of your destiny.

Now here's the question... If you Choose Life by beginning your second journey can a person actually discover this destiny?

  • Can you identify that one thing you were designed for?

  • Yes.

Your destiny can be found at the intersection of two massive, universal truths: One of these truths is awesome and the other truth is awful.

The awesome truth is all about you.

  • You are unique, wonderful and powerful

    • Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  • Before you were born God looked at you and gave you a calling!

  • God uses 4 aspects of your life to reveal your calling:

    • unique is your life story, your personality, your skills and your passions.

You are a masterpiece!
The awful truth - the world is needy, messed is broken,
Romans 8:22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

6 Broken Places:

  1. Separation

  2. Isolation

  3. Pain

  4. Hatred

  5. Injustice

  6. Decay

This is the awful truth of the brokenness of the world! But pay attention to where it intersects with the awesome truth about you.

  • Where these two truths meet, overlap, collide there you will find your destiny!

  • At the intersection of your powerful uniqueness and the worlds great needs is your destiny...your calling...your Why to Live For.

"Your destiny is not what brings home your weekly paycheck. It is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in nature." Vincent van Gogh
You were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. You are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is your destiny. Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
I've never had a conversation with someone about their destiny where there hasn't been great enthusiasm or hope even tears. People get all worked up about this!

  • They want to know it.

  • They know this will give them LIFE!

But let me warn you about destiny...

  • Because it involves others and moving into the broken places... it is inherently dangerous. It is not comfortable. It is not easy. It is expensive in every sense of the word.

1st Mountain living is way easier and most Christians would prefer it. Most American Christians are 1st mountain people.

  • They're more comfortable living for the American Dream with a little religion thrown in while they wait for heaven.

Most Christians are "waiting for soul rescue while living for fat city." Tom Sine

But that is not the life that Jesus would have you to choose...

Here's what Jesus had in mind... Luke 9:23 Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

  • When you pursue your God summoned you climb the second mountain it will cost you dearly.

For instance:

  • If you feel your calling is as an AMBASSADOR representing God in the broken place of SEPARATION think of the cost of that...

    • The relational complications as you try to influence a skeptic

    • The patience it takes to Get in the room and stay in the room.

    • The heartbreak of rejection.

  • If you feel your calling is as a NURTURER bringing love to the broken place of ISOLATION? Are you ready for the costs?

    • Adopt, foster parents

  • If you feel your calling is as a HEALER offering comfort in the broken place of PAIN? Are you ready to take up your cross?

    • Some of you are risking your life

    • Or the struggle helping a person with mental illness

    • Or the battle coming along side someone pain of demonization

  • If you feel your calling is a STEWARD caring for God's creation that is in DECAY?

    • The constant scorn and eye rolls you'll take from people who are threatened by your personal choices.

    • The uphill battle of standing against global warming

  • If you feel your calling is as ACTIVIST fighting against the broken place of HATRED? If this is your destiny prepare for battle.

    • Taking on the original sin of the United States will put you at odds with the haters.

    • Standing against discrimination

  • If you feel your calling is a CHAMPION engaging the broken place of INJUSTICE?

    • It will take enormous time and resources.

Here's the choice that our Father wants us to understand as Christians: Do we want to be brave or safe? We simply can't be both. Doing God's will in a fallen world is inherently dangerous. In fact, if following Jesus does not feel dangerous, we should probably pause and check to see if it is Jesus we're following. Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission
So know you must pursue your destiny...there's no going back but it is definitely not safe!

Grace family...this is what makes Grace Church such a unique expression of God's Kingdom!

  • We are trying to help you move into the exhilarating and dangerous world of your destiny.

  • It's not an easy church to attend. But there is no place I would rather be!

Donna Markova in her book I will not die an unlived life summarizes the ethos of this community with this poem:

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Dawna Markova, I will NOT die an unlived life.

Friends, you were made for more!
You were made to climb the 2nd take the further journey!
Choose this life!
It is there as you take up your cross you will find adventure...and pain...and joy and the most significance you could ever imagine!
"If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?"
- Stephen King