Seven Billion Reasons - Because future generations need to know!
May I also say! I am praying for a packed Venue 471! Buildings are tools. It’s what happens in the building that counts! Let’s dedicate this student ministry space for God’s purposes! Becky Medley presented some really cute baby pictures. Those babies are adorable. Well, I have some pictures too. Let’s play – NAME THAT KID! I will show you a picture and you name the person. Here’s kid #1.[i] Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, that’s Brian Hugh Warner better known as Marilyn Manson, Demi Moore and Greg Bondurant. Have you ever seen bigger glasses in your life?
We’ve seen pictures of adorable babies, but as we all know – with few exceptions - babies grow up. When my daughter Jeanna was born people would say to Tricia and I, “Enjoy these times – I’m thinking “enjoy sleepless nights and daily diaper changes” – again they’d say, “Enjoy these times because babies grow up fast!” My daughter has a t-shirt that says, Class of 2017! My son has a t-shirt that says, Class of 2020! Children grow up! One day their crawling and the next day their driving cars - YOUR CAR! How is that possible? Do I have any teens here today? How many see your teen years in the rear view mirror? Do you remember your teen years? Would you agree with Bryan Adams that “these were the best days of my life?”[ii]
Ehhh! I remember some good times. I remember some bad times. Some people say, “I would love to go back to my teenage years!” Not me! Once was enough. It was hard to be a teen then and it’s also hard today. Watch this 1989 Radio Shack commercial! You’re not putting THAT cell phone in your pocket! $799! I bet they sold maybe 8! It’s obvious – teenage life is different today which can be good or bad! According to the Beloit College Mindset List teenagers entering college this fall have this in common…… Harry Potter could be their classmate. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino. Grandma has always had wheels on her walker. Wayne Newton has never had a mustache. Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone. Soft drink refills have always been free. AND
WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.[iii] Last weekend Church Planter Ben Thompson helped me introduce a brand new series called 7 Billion Reasons to be Generous! Here’s Reason #1: People are lost and matter to God! Turn in your Bibles today to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. (Hand out – P & P & WARM) If you are not sure where Galatians is located go to the Table of Contents! Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul. Look at verse 1&2 in Chapter 1. (Read) Look at this map. Galatia is modern day Turkey. Paul planted churches in Derbe, Lystra and Iconium. Generous churches plant new churches. God ran to us. Paul ran to others. We also should run!
Have you ever been in a bad mood? What circumstances created the bad mood? What I am about to show you came from real resumes and cover letters and was reprinted in Fortune Magazine: Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year / Finished eighth in my class of ten / It’s best for employers that I not work with people. / Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details. / Let’s meet, so you can ooh and aah over my experience. / Please don't misconstrue my 14 jobs as job-hopping. I have never quit a job. / Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.[iv]
The Apostle Paul is miffed. These Galatians should be maturing, but they are bailing out instead. He is frustrated and agitated with these folks who were rescued from their sins but are now confused because false teachers called Judaizers have created doubts in their minds. Find verse 6. (Read 6-10) 7 Billion reasons to be generous. Here’s Reason #2: Future generations need to know. AND may I add - be reminded of what they know. Generous churches make students/teenagers a priority! Go back to verse 6!
When you read the Bible always think “then & now.” If you understand what’s happening THEN you can better grasp how to apply it NOW! What is the main message of Galatians? Turn to Galatians 5:1. FREEDOM! The “yourselves” are Gentiles like all of us. They accepted Christ as Savior. Rescued from their sins. Paul leaves and false teachers called Judaizers begin to teach doctrine instead. Find verse 2 in Galatians 5. The doctrine is Jesus plus. You are not fully Christian unless you are circumcised as well. Jesus isn’t enough – you also have to fulfill the requirements of the law. None of us can do that. We do well for a while. Outwardly we look pretty good but inwardly we are a mess. I would never murder a person in cold blood but I’ve murdered several people multiple times in my mind just by saying “I hate your guts!” Go back to Galatians 1:6!
What immediately comes to your mind when you hear the word Friday or Dessert or November 7 or “Gospel?” Good news right. Paul summarizes this good news in Galatians 1:3. (Read) “The blessing of the gospel is “grace and peace.” The source of the gospel is God the Father and the heart of the gospel[v] is our Lord Jesus Christ’s death who look at verse 4 - gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age…”
Who would want to turn away from that? But back then they were and people today are doing the same! A number of them are teenagers! Ken Ham wrote a book called Already Gone and he states that teenagers often check out mentally in Middle School and High School and physically in college.” It used to be George Barna, but now it’s David Kinnaman. Ken Ham writes, “Based on interviews with 22,000 adults and over 2,000 teenagers, Barna research quantified the seriousness of the situation: six out of ten 20-somethings who were involved in a church during their teen years are already gone.”[vi]
I want them back. Do you? And that statement is so puny when you consider God the Father saying, “I want my children back!” Generous churches do everything they can to reach and mature teenagers! The Galatians were turning to a different gospel. Sometimes different is good. Not in this case. The true Gospel is grace. A different gospel is legalism. The Galatians were deserting grace for requirements, ceremonies and standards![vii] What different gospel are teenagers turning to today? How about the Gospel of Opinion! Find verse 7. There’s always a some body! I am a youth minister at heart. I believe every person, especially teenagers, need a significant other. Who is that person? Someone other than their parents who will come along and guide them through the corn maze of life. Significant others can be people like teachers, coaches, counselors, ministers, family and friends. They can also be music, culture, technology, education, and philosophy. What I would guess Christ following parents want is their kid’s significant other to be influencing them positively and not negatively. What makes the difference? Go to verse 11! (Read 11 & 12)
What is Paul telling us? This book is no ordinary book! But many think it is and many are your teens “significant others!” I started reading the Bible at 16. I haven’t stopped. My prayer for my children is that they will come to love it as much their Mom and I do! I can’t wait for you to see Venue 471. This place rocks! But it’s not the building I’m most excited about. It’s what teenagers are going to hear when they are in this building. But it can’t stop there! Teens – parents – all of us! You stop reading this book and you are a spiritual toast! You will fall for ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. But if you read it, eat it, live it – you will become WISE! Which means you will see life the way God sees it!
Galatians is most likely Paul’s first letter. Can you tell me, Paul’s last letter? 2 Timothy! We can’t ignore this! Paul is once again dealing with false teachers. He said this in 2 Timothy 3:1&2! But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves… Paul reveals another gospel! Entitlement! Just what is entitlement? Maybe this story would help? David McCullough Jr, an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, gave the June commencement address to the Class of 2012 and here’s just a bit of what he said, "You're not special. You've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth … trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again …. You've been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie …. But do not get the idea you're anything special, because you're not. The great and curious truth of human experience —namely, that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.”[viii] Now that’s good news! This life is not about you or me. It’s about God! Is there a teenager in your life? Come pray for them!
Venue 471 Closing Thoughts & Prayer
The year was 1972. I was 11. How old were you? Most of you will come later – much later. This building was built in 1972. Why? To worship God. To see people repent and acknowledge that God is the creator of the world – their creator and savior of the world. To see people become followers of Jesus Christ – who is no ordinary person! This building has seen allot. Worship services. Tommy Oaks spoke here before he spoke in our FLC. Concerts – did you know that A-180 performed in this room? We know them better as Audio Adrenaline. You know AA – BIG, BIG HOUSE with lots and lots of rooms. BIG, BIG table with lots and lots of food. So much has happened here. Revivals, baptisms, funerals, weddings, VBS programs, and Christmas plays. We have celebrated and cried right here.
What’s going happen now? Some of the same but much more! Worship celebrations, a place to come after school and study or better yet - hang out! Concerts, large group, small group study, service projects. Our prayer is that hundreds of students will accept Christ maybe because of something they heard right here! A building is not a guarantee that people will come, but it can persuade people to come in. What keeps people are relationships. May countless relationships be formed because WCC loves God and loves students. Let’s pray!
[iv] Good Clean Funnies Email on 10/11/12
[v] The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, 825
[vii] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1658
[viii] www.preachingtoday.com / News That Illustrates, June 18, 2012 / www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/commencement-speaker-blasts-students/2012/06/08/gJQATvF1MV_blog.html