Guest speaker Blake Vandemark brings a spoken word, taking a step back to take a moment to be in awe of God. What would our lives look like if we live as an example of what life looks like in Christ?
larger than life. I’m here to tell you this morning that our God, our Savior, he is larger than life is he our Creator, he stood upon the precipice of time and space, and he flung stars across the canopy of night. And it’s a galaxy so vast that humanity has built telescopes and satellites to try to discover its limitations. But all they’ve ever been able to discover is just more information about how unsearchable is God’s creation. You see the earth. It’s just a grain of sand, in this expansive universe of meteorites and supernovas all held in the palm of our creator’s hand. But it’s not a cosmic fictional character with superpowers. No, he’s a very real deity not limited by minute, seconds, and hours. His creation emulates himself infinite, endless, and measureless. But he’s a God that thrives on relationships. So all that he’s created without you. It’s pleasure lists. And since the beginning of what we have known as time he has loved us endlessly with a love so magnificent, that we don’t have the vernacular to define or the ability to explain to the human mind because he is infinite. And you might think that the vast corridors of space are too difficult to comprehend. Well, what about an omnipotent, sinless God that seen all the mistakes you’ve ever made, and he still wants to be your confident, father and friend, because no man or Angel could ever stand in his presence, holy, holy, holy, or what the angels sing of his essence. And his grace brings us to our knees to the point that we can’t stand it. And then his glory draws on our hearts more than the gravitational pull of the planets. And yet still, people look to the stars for an astrological sign of Aries, Taurus and Pisces just to get a glimpse of the value of who they are. Why would you need a zodiac sign when Jesus says, just look at my hands, here’s the scars. And he’s more than your imagination can even fathom there’s nowhere to hide for his from his love for you. The deepest abyss, the highest Zenith, and the largest chasm couldn’t keep him from you, because he is infinite, Eternal Word synonymous with our Savior. But he’s more concerned about restoring your soul than he is about modifying your behavior, Alpha and Omega, he has no rival Lucifer is merely running around this earth scratching and living off rocks, hoping for survival, because the writing’s on the wall. And this generation is far from dying off, or actually on the verge of revival. You see our God, he’s a master chemists. He’s an engineer, and he’s an architect. That’s why you’re not an accident. He got your molecular composition perfectly correct. And he’s the reason why your heart is still beating within your very chest. And He’s the God that gave you a voice for you to have your very own dialect. Don’t you see it? Everything in this galaxy was planned out. And strategic. humanity can try to study astronomy, but God, he’s the one to teach it. And he’s created so many things that are humanized, will never even be able to see it. And we can try to pioneer in the space that’s trying to find its limits, but we will never reach it. So I’ll end with this. You know, the phrase about giving credit where credit is due? Well, I think it’s time that we give God his rightful credit to. Because God is in the business of making all things new. And here’s the truth. He wants you to know that he’s larger than life for you. Can I get an amen? Jessa Can I get an amen? I am honored and humbled to be able to speak to you guys this morning on this concept of fascinating faith. When pastor Thomas reached out to me He’s like, I want you to come and speak just on this fascination of God, the the intrigue in it, and how how intoxicating a relationship with God should be. And I was blown away that you want me to come talk on that, like you You got this row. You’re amazing you got but he I feel so honored to be here. And it made me begin to think of what does it mean to have a fascinating faith even that word itself fascinate when you actually look into its context and what it literally means it means to capture someone’s attention. The actual archaic original term means to actually deprive someone of their ability to look away simply by gazing at them. Think of that for a second. So I’ve got to ask you, this is your faith, that fascinating? That when people look at you, they can’t look away. That when people see your life, they’re captivated. When people see your routine and your habits and the expression of your intimacy with God, are they compelled to want to look like live like an act like you?
That’s the question we’ve got to ask ourselves Cuz Thomas and I were talking over lunch earlier. And this this concept, most people don’t think that Christianity is very fascinating. Because most Christians don’t have a very fascinating faith. Unfortunately, and I’m not here to be a Debbie Downer, I’m here to illuminate the fact that there is more for us to tap into. God has not done. He has an eternal supply. He has eternal resources. And so I want you to know this, you might have a low ceiling and expectation of yourself. But God is the barometer of where you need to measure your life by that’s how we can have a fascinating faith. He there’s a lot of things that are fascinating. You know, there’s, but fascination isn’t necessarily enough for transformation. Fascination is a good thing to give us inspiration. But this fascination wants you to want to change your life. Does it make you want to actually be a different person? I don’t know. What’s so sweet. Let me give you some fascinating facts. And then we can talk about it after this. Do you guys know that vending machines kill four times more people than sharks do on a yearly basis? Right. That’s a fascinating fact, isn’t it? That a vending machine is more ferocious than a great white shark? Are you kidding me? I just wanted to get a Snickers and I’m about to die for this. Here’s another one human shed 40 pounds of skin in their lifetime? Yes, that is gross, completely replacing the outer layer of skin every month, the average four year old asked 400 questions a day? Oh my goodness, I’ve got a five year old. So I’ve lived through that. That is a it’s it’s insane.
Humans, this one’s crazy. Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas. Did you know that? That’s pretty fascinating, isn’t it that a human shares 50% of their DNA with a banana. So now I realize it’s actually not insulting to say someone’s fruity because it’s in their DNA. Like, you’re allowed to say it’s not an insult. Yeah, I am a banana. I’m partially on par banana, whatever. Here’s another one. This one’s pretty crazy, too. In 30 minutes, the human body emits enough heat to bring water to a boiling temperature, that in 30 minutes your body can emit enough heat to bring water to a boiling temperature. These are some fascinating facts, right? You’re kind of like, wow, I did not realize a vending machine was a death machine. Right? You did not know that. But I guarantee the vast majority of this room is going to walk out of this room and at some point another within the next week, maybe two weeks, three weeks, he knows you’re not gonna look at that vending machine is terrifying, you’re gonna like that looks like a place for me to get a cold beverage that looks like somewhere from you get a bag of chips, I’m going to go to that vending machine, I’m going to risk it. Even though Blake told me this is more ferocious than a great white shark. I’m going to do this. Because, you know, a fascinating fact is not enough for transformation. And the fact that I told you that you share 50% of your DNA with a banana. I’m expecting that next chapel. I see you guys. You’re not gonna walk in here with banana suits on. Like, it’s there’s not going to happen. Am I right? So I’ve come to this understanding that information and education, they’re good to have. I’m sorry, Justin, I know I’m on an academic campus. And I know what I’m about to say, might get me never be able to come back again. Thomas, I apologize if you get flack for this, but education and information pale in comparison to an encounter with God. What I mean, here, let me let me so I know a lot of people that are educated about global warming, and processed sugars, like how many of you know like, Man, you shouldn’t have that much processed sugar cuz it’s bad for you, right? But how many of us in this room typically binge on some ice cream here and there, or we get some fast food here and there. And we, you know, we know that there’s risk but that that fascinating fact and information is not enough for me to have transformation. But you know what i found? I’ve encountered people that have encountered heart disease because of processed sugar. The fact itself wasn’t enough, when they actually encountered the debilitating disease when they actually encountered this. this. I can’t think of the right words when it when they actually encountered the difficulty in their life. That’s then when they made the decision. I’ve got to change things. Because the information wasn’t enough. The information wasn’t going to make someone’s life compelling enough until they encounter God. And I hear this all the time. Imagine what the disciples could have done with all the technology that we have today. Could you think of that? Could you imagine the Apostle Paul rolling around with an Instagram page? Just think of that for a second. Like, oh, hey, here’s my daily post motivation Mondays. Yeah, I’m out here and I’m healing this whole group of people from leprosy. Watch this. Can you hold this for me? I’m gonna get a selfie with him. And he’s named be healed, boom, he’s healed. Then you take a little selfie pic, they post it, it goes viral. And it was like, oh, my goodness, this is amazing. I want to know, the God that Paul serves. I want to know what he’s got. Who does he serve? And then you’ve got Peter, right, Peter was was phenomenal as well. Peter is like, I’m just walking down the street on this nice sunny day. And then all of a sudden, there’s a stranger that brings their their, their their disabled brother or sister into the street, and Peter shadow grazes over them, and then miraculously healed. That’s in Scripture, just so you know, Peter shadow could heal people. And he just said, they’re like, Oh, yeah, I’m just having a good day. Oh, you’re just walking the streets of Galilee? Hey, this is such a good time. Could you imagine the impact that that could have? But here’s a better question for us to have. Not so much. What can the disciples do with the technology that we have today? What could we do with what the disciples had, then
you see, the disciples had an encounter. The disciples didn’t need technology to create transformation on the globe, to expand the gospel to be all of his witnesses to the world. They needed an encounter. And I have found the most compelling agent to having a fascinating faith is not knowing a lot about God. It’s knowing God. You see, here’s the best example I can give to you to validate this in Scripture. with Paul, we all know that previously, he was known as Saul. And Saul was one of the most astute prestegious Jews in the region. Saul knew the law inside and out law he saw was one of the most vigilant, zealous leaders of the religious movement of that time, so much of the fact that he was actually killing Christians himself. I’m sure most of you have already heard this, and you already know this. But then think of this. He knows everything in God’s word. He knows it all. And then one day, he’s on this road to Damascus. And then he has an encounter. God shows up in Divine Providence and speaks to Saul and says, Why are you persecuting me. And then that moment, radical transformation happens. It was a process of transformation. But it all was started with the encounter. And I’m
very, very well informed that there’s a lot of Christians in this room that know a lot about God, but they don’t know. And thus, their faith is not very fascinating. Thus, their faith is not very fulfilling. It’s very obligatory and religious. And here’s what I also know that between the ages of 18 to 25 68% of people will walk away from their faith. Statistics, I said, let me just making that up statistics prove that 68% will walk away from their faith. And if that 68% that are walking away. How many more people that have never experienced God who experienced church are looking at that and saying, Yeah, that’s not very compelling enough for me. 68% and you know, one of the key reasons why 68% there’s, there’s numerous reasons, but there’s a top three, and I’m going to tell you one of them. One is that they’ve never had a personal encounter with God, themselves. They’ve been taught about God. They’ve been educated about God, they’ve been informed about God. They’ve had coloring books about Jesus, and Easter, and Christmas.
And they know the reason for the seasons, but they don’t know the person of God. And so my challenge for us in here today is When will our fascination move from fiction, to factual?
What steps do we need to take to make our faith more compelling? a better question would be, how can our lives prove the existence of Jesus to a world that is desperate to be fascinated by our faith? Because information is not enough to cause someone to have transformation they’ve got to have an encounter. And Scripture says that your life is a living epistle that your life is the manifestation of God. God’s Word made tangible, the same way Jesus was God manifested on Earth. We get to be the manifestation of God’s word, God’s truth, God’s life on earth for others to see. We’re a city on a hill, it says, we cannot be hidden. Don’t put it under a bowl. Don’t try to conceal it. But set it on the stand for everyone to see. Let them look at your life and be amazed at them be fascinated. Let them be captivated by what you’re doing, by why how you’re living. So I’m going to start, start here like, wait, that was the intro. No, I’m going to start at john chapter 14, verses 12 through 14, I’m reading out of the passion, translation, the Scripture is going to come up on the screens. If you don’t have your Bible, that’s fine. We’ve got technology to help you out. Verse 12, says this, I tell you this, this is Jesus speaking, I tell you this timeless truth, the person who follows me in faith, believing in me will do the same mighty miracles that I do that alone, we can almost stop right there. That is fascinating enough, within itself that if I can follow Jesus live, have Jesus inside of my life. I can do the same mighty miracles that he did. But then he goes on to say this, this is this is like, okay, geez, you got to stop right there. And I would have been completely okay. Like, you tell me, I could go to like SeaWorld and walk on the water. You know, you’re telling me that that’s a reality, I could do these things. I could feed 1000s with a happy meal, like, Are you serious? That thing is, but even greater miracles, the knees because I go to my father, for I will do whatever you asked me to do when you ask me in my name. And that is how the sun will show what the Father is really like, and bring glory to Him. Ask me anything in my name. And I will do it for you. So out of that passage, I want to give us three mandatory steps of how to move our faith from fiction, to fact, to make it fascinating, and tangible and real. These steps might sound simple, but they’re not easy. Because anything worth having in this life definitely does not come easily. So I want to make sure that you hear this is salvation is a free gift. But the manifestation of it in our life is a decision and a choice that we’ve got to make on a daily basis. So the first step, the first mandatory attribute that you’ve got to have in your faith is that you’ve got to discover your identity in Christ. If you do not know who you are, you will always be subjecting yourself to pleasing other people other than who God intended you to be your purpose in fulfilling who you intend to be. Knowledge of identity creates empowerment. That’s why he says anyone who follows me in faith and believing me and faith will do the same mighty miracles that I do. He says, our lives are now hidden in Christ, that when we confess that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of our life, our lives are now hidden in Christ. And Christ life is in us. There’s this beautiful exchange when our identity is no longer our own, that we have now taken on the sonship of Jesus, that we are now all considered sons and daughters of God. That’s why we cry out our father. That’s why we can sing songs like good, good father is because we are no longer orphans and abandoned and aliens. But we’ve been grafted into this family that God doesn’t look at us in shame and frustration and disgust. He looks at us looks at us in delight and happiness and excitement, knowing that he’s got a plan to prosper us to give us a future to give us a hope. Do you know your identity? Do you know who you were intended to be? Do you have the mindset that everything else is deemed worthless apart from a genuine revelation of who God is? And you’re like, like, this sounds really good. In a sense, but at the same time, it
sounds it sounds a little off to me, you’re telling me that I can access the power of God, the presence of God, simply through talking to him and praying with him and being intimate with him? Yeah. Yeah. It’s that simple. It sounds crazy, because the truth is so foreign. Because the lies are so familiar. The truth is so foreign to us. They you’re telling me that, that I usually have to strive and try to get people’s approval, I have to try to make sure that I get enough credits into to the system in order for them to actually value me and to be able to trust me or to believe in me or to advocate for me. No, no, no, Jesus already paid the price for the wages of our sin. That when we confess that he now sees us, he sees us as His sons and his daughter, God sees us as Jesus. And all we get to do is be intimate and through that intimacy, it produces an empowerment because that intimacy produces our identity. And that identity gives us permission to walk in that empowerment. Next one, I don’t want to go over I got five minutes. The next one is that you’ve got to define your priorities, your new creation, you discover your identity, then you’ve got to define your priorities. See, Jesus also said that in Matthew 633, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you. All the other things that you worry about everything else that the world and secular culture tries to pursue after that find fulfillment and satisfaction. If you just seek me first, I’ll take care of all those other things. Stop trying to seek the gratification and the and the wholeness and another person because you’ll find that in me and then you as you have found that in me, I’m going to provide for you the best mate the spouse that you could ever have imagined. I am a living testament of that I have married up I’ve got three amazing kids My life is amazing. Because I trusted in God to provide a not me trying to do it for myself. My identity as a father is what shapes my priorities. I know that I identify as a father I’ve got three boys bravery, Reese and Rumi. I just dropped my oldest off at kindergarten this morning before I came here. And here’s what you got, understand my priorities shift because of that identity. I wake up in the morning, guess what, I don’t cook breakfast for myself, I cook breakfast for them. You know, I wake up in the morning, I brush their teeth before I brush mine. I wake up in the morning, I get them dressed before I get myself dressed. I wake up in the morning and I and I changed my schedule to drop them off at school before I get here. And then I pick them back up, I make sure they get a nap I I changed the little ones diapers, I deviate all of my priorities, to adjust to the identity of who I am. Because typically our priorities are self sufficiency and we are self centeredness and we just want everything to be mee, mee, mee, mee, mee mee, but when your identity is shifted, that gives you the permission to be more of an asset to the world to change the world. That gives me permission to say, you know what, I’m not really worried about my hygiene this morning, my hair can be messed up, my teeth cannot be you know, I’m not worried about much money, I’m gonna brush your teeth, and I’m going to brush your hair. And I’m going to put your shoes on, I’m going to do this for you. Because I’m a father, and I want you to know that you’re loved and that you’re cared for. And you see that manifest out of that identity. Most of us can’t manifest the works of Christ, because we don’t have that identity. We don’t have the priorities straight. We want God to be that vending machine, sorry, for lack of a better term, but the vending machine where we can just type in, get whatever we want, and then walk away. Maybe we die, maybe we don’t who knows. But when you realize your position in God’s plan, it rearranges your priorities. You understand that rearrange priorities are fascinating to a hurting hopeless world. That if your priorities look drastically different than the world around you, they’re going to be curious to ask why do you live the way that you do and act the way that you act? That you don’t even have to tell them you don’t have to use your words to communicate to them. You simply can just live your life with rearrange priorities and people we will be compelled to say, Why do you prioritize church? Why do you go to that campus?
Why is it that you’re pursuing that as a career? Why is that happening? I’m kind of curious, can you do something else? No, I couldn’t, because that’s not who I am. That’s not who I was intended to be. That’s not what God intended my life to look like. And this is why I live the way that I live. And this is why I do what I do. And that’s why he says, live your life in such a way that people ask. Is Your Life fascinating? Is your faith demanding people to ask why do you live the way that you live? Do you know your identity are your priorities in order. And when that happens, we get to display God’s superiority. When we discover our identity, and we’ve defined our priorities in Christ, we get to display God’s superiority. When this is displayed the world will be fascinated. I’m going to end with this. My oldest two boys, they they have bunk beds together. And one night, I tuck them in. We say our prayers, we move on. I go through the rest of my routine for that night getting ready for the next day. And my wife and I we go to bed. Then about two o’clock, three o’clock in the morning, all of a sudden, my my middle son Reese, he just wakes up in terror, just crying sobbing in his bed. And as a parent, as soon as you hear the cry of your child, you you wake up from whatever you’re doing and you just move you operate, it doesn’t matter what’s happening around you. You’re just solely trying to seek out your child and where the source of that pain is coming from. So I run into the room and I see him just sobbing in his bed and
all the lights are off. We come to this realization that the electric went out so his nightlight was off in a sound machine was off and he was just in this utter darkness. He had no familiarity he had no comfort. And so then I run into this room, pitch black and I just speak to him like, racy, are you? Okay? I’m here, buddy. And I go into run over to him, and I grab them. And I hug him. And I start kissing his cheek. And like It’s okay. It’s okay. And as soon as I started comforting him, all of a sudden his whimper, turned into a silent. And that silence turned into rest. And that rest turn into fact that he just fell back asleep. Why am I telling you that? Because I didn’t change anything about the circumstance, didn’t change anything about the situation that was making him cry.
It was simply the presence of his father. That comforted him in the middle of that situation that gave him the peace, that past understanding. You see, in Philippians, it says, Be anxious about nothing but in all things that you do, be in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And then then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. If you want to display the superiority of God, and you want to have a peace that surpasses understanding, you’ve got to be anxious about nothing, but in all things be intimate with Christ. And then the world will see that you’ve got a piece that they cannot take away in a piece that they that they cannot give, and you have a faith that is fascinating to an anxious ridden world that is broken, looking for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus? Is your faith fascinating? Are you living a life that compels people to say? Why do you behave the way that you do? What is your belief that drives those behaviors?
So I’m gonna pray. We’re gonna pray for us to discover identities, if you don’t know who you are in Christ, and his plan that He has for what to pray for that if you don’t know your priorities, and maybe you know of God, but you’ve been living a life with rearranged priorities to please other people and not God, I’m gonna be praying for that. For the last thing, I’m going to pray that your life be a display of God’s superiority and his power and his love. Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes. God, we love you. I thank you for this amazing group of world changing individuals. I thank you, for the future entrepreneurs, I think you for the future people that are going to be operating in politics and government. I think for the people they’re going to be operating in medicine and health got, I think you for the people that are going to be operating in mission field, whether it’s in the local church, or in the global church. God, I’ve thank you for what you’re doing. So God, I pray that you give them clarity of their identity. Let them know that you no longer have to be slaves to this world in its opinion, let them know that they can be liberated in your love. God give them purpose and significance. Let them know that it can be found in you that it’s not just fictional, that it’s fact that God you are loving, you are compassionate that you are real. And God let them know that their priorities need to flow
through you that they need to seek you first to trust in you with all their heart, not the lien on their own understanding and all their ways they should acknowledge you God, and you’ll direct their paths. Give them comfort of knowing that they don’t have to be in control. They can trust you. You’re a good father, you’re the author and finisher of life and faith we can trust you God. And so God we asked with those things, make our lives a display of your superiority make our lives an example of what fascinating faith and life can look like in you. That this Bible that we read is not just fairy tales, and fiction, but it’s fact it’s what our life can look like that God we can be what Jesus said that we can do what he did, but even greater things can we do in his name? Help us not to be fearful of that God help us not to be intimidated by that. Let us embrace that call. Let us have a fascinating faith that compels the world to look to you. Jesus, we love you. And everyone said Amen.