Reckless Faith: Week #1

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July 18, 2020 • Beth Guckenberger

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Following God’s will doesn’t always look logical. It can sometimes look downright reckless. We need to use our brains and follow what’s considered wisdom, but we also need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and understand that discernment is more valuable than logic.

This weekend, Beth Guckenberger kicks off our new message series, Reckless Faith. In this series, you will draw inspiration from people who risked because God asked them to. They honored Him with their choices and their lives.

Message Transcript

Welcome back Vineyard Cincinnati family. It is so awesome to be together. Isn't that such a great word, together? We are so thankful that you're here. If you're online or here with us, we're going to worship that we have freedom in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hey, I'm J.R. Cifani, Life Steward's ministry director for the Vineyard. So glad to be able to share with those of you who are here today and those of you who are watching online. Well, there's so much that's happened, right, since mid March. And we just want to make sure that you all have the information about what's going on with our church as much information as we can share. And the reality is that since all this began in mid-March giving has been down for our church, but we get it right. I mean, jobs have been lost and small businesses have struggled in some cases, even closed it's difficult times, but we're so grateful for those of you who have been able to continue with your regular and faithful giving during this season of transition. I mean, it's really important. It's important what you're doing because it's in times like this, that the message of the gospel and the work of this church are critical for the people that need support and hope in this community.

So thank you for what you're doing. We also know that for those of you that are here today, some of you like to worship with your giving through giving cash and checks when you're here. Just know that we aren't passing any offering bags and there's no envelopes in the seatbacks for, for health reasons. So we encourage you to use the online resources that we have available to use. So really fast, uh, onscreen here, there are three ways that you can give, whether you're here today in the church, or whether you're watching online, you can go to You can text to the number on the screen, the amount that you want to give, or if you are here today and you do want to give with cash or checks, the way you used to, we just asked you use the giving boxes in the information areas as you leave today, there are four of them and oh, by the way, there are postage paid envelopes.

You can take with you if you want to give while you're on the road or when you're at home. So just thanks for continuing to support what God is doing through this church, through the season of transition. Now let's pray over our offering together. So father, we're just so grateful that in this season of change and transition, we still have the opportunity to give to what you're doing through this church and for the city of Cincinnati. Father, just help us to discern how you best want us to use the financial resources that are shared to fuel your work, your kingdom, your plans in your people. We trust you with it all. And it's in the mighty name of Jesus. We pray. Amen.

Hey everyone. I'm Adrienne Wiley of the Healing Center, whether you're with us in person or watching online, welcome to Vineyard Cincinnati church, where we believe small things done with great love, will change the world. If this is your first visit, text the word VINE to 97000. We'd love to get to know you. That's V I N E to 97000. Right now we want to take just a few minutes to let you know what's going on right here at the Vineyard. As we come back to the vineyard, you'll notice that we've gone paperless. You can get all the info you need right on your phone. Have you ever seen one of these before? Get your phones out and scan it or take a picture of it. It's called a QR code. By capturing this image, you will be taken directly to our website where you will be able to connect with us,

view upcoming events, serving opportunities, and there's even an option to give. This QR code can be seen throughout the building. Stay tuned for even more great improvements. This weekend, we're kicking off our brand new message series, reckless faith. In fact, here's Beth with some details about the series and a special invitation to go deeper in community here at the Vineyard. Vineyard family, we are delighted to share with you that we're going to be kicking off a new series called reckless faith. It'll be a six week deep dive into biblical characters who faced challenging storylines. And they were fully surrendered to what it was that God was going to do. They were expectant that he was going to move. I want to encourage you to join a small group. You can do it either online or in person. It'll be a place where you can process your own journey, where you can, together, feel challenged with applicable action steps and a place where you can grow it and talk about what it looks like for you to live your own reckless faith. I am really looking forward to seeing what God will do when we are faithful and available to his plans. For more details about anything you've heard today, visit, stop by any info area or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Hello, Vineyard family.

I really like our sound team and the folks that video, but they don't cheer when I say that when we're in, when we're recording it. So that feels really good, whether you're joining us at home at digitally, whether you're over in the big room or whether you're with us here in the auditorium. I just want to start by saying, gosh, what a privilege it is to be together with you all. I know that those of you that are at home, can't see what I see right now, but here in the auditorium and over in the big room, we have folks seated every other row, six feet apart, they all have their masks on. They're doing exactly what we need to do in order to stay safe. And I thank you for that. Before we jump into our message, I do have a little bit of family business.

I wanted us to talk about today. The first thing is I wanted to thank everyone who came out for the Unified Cincy prayer walk last weekend. There were thousands of you that came out. Yeah, it was such a great event. 60 churches in this city came together and it's just the springboard for ways in which we're going to continue to partner together with other churches to move the needle and the kinds of issues we've been talking about over the last couple of months, issues of injustice and disparity in the city. So stay tuned as I share with you more about what the Vineyard family will be doing in that. I also, in the course of those meetings, I met a pastor, who pastors a church in West Chester called New Life Chapel. And they had been meeting over the last period of time in one of the Lakota high schools and because of COVID-19, they weren't able to return to that school building.

And so I said to them, "Hey, you know what the Vineyard's really good at? We're really good at sharing. And we have some spaces here on our campus that we would be welcome for you all to use." So over the next couple of weeks, New Life Chapel, will be worshiping in our student union on Sunday morning. So if you see them on campus, make them feel welcome. This is what it looks like for the church to be the church in the city. And I'm proud of you all for it. I also do want to talk a little bit of it about a couple elephants that might be in the room tonight or in the room this morning or wherever it is that you're joining us digitally things that are have been hard since we were last together, they could be hard. You could be feeling the hard that you lost your pastor, and you're not even really sure why. You could be feeling like it's hard to be in the middle of a global pandemic and an economic turndown.

And you haven't had the fellowship or the company of your faith community. You could be thinking it's hard because we don't know what's coming in the future or because the city is divided. In some ways it could be like, there are all kinds of things that have made the last several months hard. And I don't want to pretend like it's anything other, so in surveys and emails and telephone calls, I've heard from you a cry for more transparency. And I'm going to give you some more information tonight today, information that help you put into context, some of the things that have happened within this body. I'm first of all, I really do want to honor the powerful teachings that Rob delivered from this stage and under which you grew. I want to honor those in all ways, but as the trustees told you at the beginning, that, that Palm Sunday, when we announced that he was going to be leaving, there's more to being a senior pastor than just delivering powerful messages. You, you, one of the responsibilities is to take care of the staff. And you saw over the course of the last five years, 70 staff leave this church now to be fair, not all of them left because of him, but he, he wasn't allowing others to flourish in their leadership style and he wasn't caring for the staff like he should. And so the trustees made a decision to protect them and the mission and vision of this


Second, I want to tell you that there is a search committee going on right now, and they're looking at high quality, really powerful candidates that we're considering and praying through to come and lead this church in the future. And I will not leave you until that person is identified. I will be here with you in that process, but that work is ongoing and they've made quite a bit of progress. And if you have some more questions about what, I'm, what I'm talking about, this family business we have going on here in our house, you have a couple of choices. When you pulled in. If you're here in person, when you pulled in, you saw a white tent in front of the building. After the services, we're going to have trustees out there, senior leaders, people who want to hear your concerns, want to answer your questions.

If you're joining us digitally, we want to hear from you too. You'll see these two email addresses. This is my personal email address, as well as our trustee email address, write us. We'll arrange to have a phone call with you. We'll answer your questions via email. We want to be in discussion and dialogue with you. I want the transparency that you're looking for, for you to be able to have. The other, other elephant in the room. You might be thinking tonight is like, wow, I can't believe we're opening up our building. I want, I want you to hear my heart on this, especially, I just want you to feel like you understand what our thinking was and the, and the process that we went through to make the decision, to be able to open up the building and join together tonight. Here's my heart. I already know church is different. Even here in the building it feels different. You know, we have masks on, we aren't, we aren't, as many as we normally are. So whether or not you're joining us digitally or whether you're here in the building, it's, it's different. But listen to me, church is not an experience that we have. There's no such thing as a diminished worship experience with God worship happens between your heart and the heart of the Lord. When we sing, when we pray, when we listen to the word, when we fellowship with others,

that, that's what ha that's what that's, it's not a show. So just because it doesn't

feel the same is no reason not, for us to not get together and it can happen safely, it can happen safely here. It can happen digitally in your homes, but we're not going to wait until things get better or normal. However you feel comfortable, I want you to feel like you can join us. We are going to be moving forward. I was studying Amos this week. I love the minor prophets. We might get a chance to talk about them. The minor prophets are these 12 stories at the end of your old Testament, where God sent someone to course correct. God's people that they were on a path, they were doing the right thing. Then they took a left turn somewhere, and God sends a prophet to remind them on how to go and return back to his ways. And in the fifth chapter of Amos, they were more interested in what things looked like or what things seemed like than what they really were.

And I typically read from the NIV later in this message, we'll study first Kings 18 out of the NIV version. But I think it's particularly powerful in the message translation. So here's the Amos chapter five. These are the words of the prophet, speaking for God. "I can't stand your religious meetings. I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and your goals. I'm sick of your fundraising, schemes, your public relations and image making. I've had all I can take of your noisy ego music. When was the last time you sang to me?" I just sat with that question. We just finished the Questions Jesus Asked series, so I'm looking for him now more in my Bible than I ever have. And in, through the voice of Amos, he said to the church, when was the last time you sang to me, this is about me and you.

This is not about anything else. And I just want you to know Vineyard family. We are, we are going to sing to him. We're going to sing to him. We aren't going to be looking left or right. We're not going to be looking at other churches and what their choices are. I don't want you to look at your neighbor. I don't want you to look at your brother. God wants your undivided attention. And we are going to sing and worship and pray and learn and listen to him and through him and for him. And that's all that counts. And because of that reason, this house is open. This house is open. I was [cheering] yeah

I was totally prepared to close it this week. If the governor told us to, because I have no desire to be rebellious, don't hear a one bit of that in my heart tonight. I have no desire to be rebellious. But man, I do want us to be bold. Proverbs 28, the first verse, it says the "righteous are as bold as a lion." And I get it. It's not right for all of us, all of you to come here and we honor that. But in this building, we're going to take care of you. We're going to make sure you sit in all the right places and are as safe as possible. We're going to sanitize and mask do all those things. And last week I told you to be taking care of each other. And I have friends internationally before all of this time with you all, I'm a missionary by heart.

Been a missionary over 20 years, we have friends all over the globe. Those pastor friends, when I think about the kinds of challenges they have, they go through, to have church. Listen to me, 60 minutes of sitting in front of a screen like screen fatigue has no reason not to go to church. We can sit through 60 more minutes. So we can go to church. The uncomfortability of masks is no reason not to come to church. Like we can sit uncomfortable with this little tiny piece of cloth over our mouth so that we can be together. And why do we want to be together? Because the Bible tells us to, right? Hebrews chapter 10 he says "we should not be in the habit of giving up, meeting one another." And that's frankly enough for me. So I know it's different. I know it's uncomfortable here. I know it's strange watching from home, but we are not going to stop. Church is not going to stop. We are going to be both. Yeah.

This new series. Oh yeah, Reckless Faith. We're going to be studying biblical characters who have been bold in their faith and to kick it off, we just want to give you a free gift to those of you who are here with us this weekend on your way out, we're going to give you a book that I wrote last year, a 40 day journal of, of challenges and biblical stories on how to walk out our faith and all the moments when we might feel it's most uncomfortable. Then for those of you who are joining us digitally, we have an opportunity for you to download digitally an ebook so that you can join us. And I wrote it to challenge myself to step out, but the truth is it's way more fun to do it with a friend, to do it in an e-group, to do it someplace where you can share your stories, where you'll have a chance to ask each other your questions.

And we wrote some very Vineyard like challenges to go along with the next 40 days of the Reckless Faith challenge. You'll find them either online or in a bookmark. We put inside of the books, things like giving out water and bathroom cleaning and picking up somebody's tab and inviting someone somewhere and serving when people are at least expecting it and praying when, asking someone to pray for them, those are things that this body has been doing for a very long time. Someone picked up the tab for my mother's breakfast with a friend this last week. And she said, "I never found out who it was." I said, "Oh, I'm sure it was a Jesus follower who was leaving a fingerprint on the earth that says, sometimes we get things we don't deserve. And may it make you curious about a God who does the same.

That's, that's what I want the next 40 days to look like. I want us to get challenged and to be bold and to reach out and to do things. So we leave fingerprints all over this city that God loves, loves them. And he's on the move. And stepping out is very Vineyard. This week, I had a phone call with someone in the body who was telling me about how they were at the airport and they saw somebody crying and they knew they had a couple of choices. They could walk by and act like they didn't see it. They could walk by and say a prayer for them, that was a little easier to justify because it felt like they were still doing something, or they knew that they could stop and ask the person what they were crying for and if, if they could pray and they decided to take that very bold third choice and to stop and pray for that person and ask them if they wanted prayer for whatever it was, that was upsetting them.

And the story that followed that, that God moment that followed, that's the kind of thing I'm hungry for us to have that prompting of that compelling of the Bible talks about the word. Well, it talks about love a lot and in the new Testament, which is written in Greek, there's three different words that we translate the word love from one of those words is a God, agape. Agape love. Agape has this long definition, but the part of the definition, I like the best is that agape love is compelled to act. I want us to be agape loving the city. I want us to feel compelled to act for people all over in our neighborhood, in our households, at our workplaces, in our communities. That's what I'm hoping happens in the next, the next 40 days.

But my reckless faith journey, it actually started on top of a bruise. I don't know if any of you are feeling bruised here today. I was a number 24 years ago. My dad died. I've told you all about that before and how it rocked my world because I had prayed for him to be healed and it didn't happen. I didn't all the ways my Bible told me to I did it where two or three are gathered. I did it after I fasted. I did it with oil that we anointed him with, but it didn't happen. And so after he died, I was so confused and I was disappointed and I assigned all that confusion and disappointment to God. I don't know if any of you are feeling on this day, disappointed or confused, and you've assigned any of that to God. But that's where I found myself.

And I, I did a, like a little workaround. I eventually realized that I needed to still be in relationship with God. It felt weird to be mad at him. So I worked around my bruise, but it was still there. And we, Todd and I moved to Mexico to be missionaries that very next year. And during that course of that year, we fell in love with two little girls that we thought we were going to adopt. I was crazy about them. We did all the paperwork we needed to make it happen halfway through that adoption process, that adoption got disrupted. And I was so like, Oh my gosh, here I am. Again, disappointed in thinking that what I thought was going to happen was going to happen. And it didn't really. And now whose fault is that anyway, and in the course of that first year, we were trying to adopt those little girls,

I got pregnant. I didn't even know I was pregnant for like months. I thought I just didn't agree with Mexican food. But it turns out, we went to a doctor to find out what kind of parasite I had, 'cause I was sick all the time. And we found out it was the nine month kind. I gave birth to my daughter, Emma there in Mexico. And we came back to the United States so we could get the ministry that we had just started that year, all organized into what today is back 2 back ministries. And we talked some friends of ours into trading us places while we came here to Cincinnati and got our funds raised and plans made. And I can remember the summer of 1998, we were driving back up through Texas back to Ohio. And it was 4th of July weekend. And I was pounding my way through Texas because even though I absolutely adore the newborn daughter that was in our backseat that I had given birth to, I was there in Mexico.

I was mad because I thought that God had planted these adoption seeds in my heart and I didn't happen. And I was like, how come you leave me sometimes some way? And it doesn't happen the way I thought it was going to happen. And we got back up to Cincinnati and Todd started a job as the assistant principal over there at CHC Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. And it was the first day of school. And he had been working really hard because he was kind of young for a job like that. And he was proven to everybody that he, he could do it. And it was the first day of school. And I got a phone call from my friends who had traded us places who were living in Mexico in our old house, keeping the ministry we had just started going. And when I picked up the phone, I could tell there was like all this chaos going on in the background, like they were screaming and I was like, what's going on?

And they told me this little girl that I loved and had been hit by a car, a car had come out of park and run over her. And I was, I was like shouting to them instructions, like go to his hospital and ask for this doctor. And they had only been there a few weeks. They were like, how do you say that? And how do you get there? And I could figure out all the answers in that emergency moment to their questions, except for how are they going to pay for what they needed for her. And so, I mean, I now know all about international wire transfers, but at the time I did not. So I said, you know what? There's a noon flight out of Cincinnati to Mexico. I'm going to, I'm going to jump on that with that baby. Todd won't even know I am gone.

He is so busy at school. I'm going to jump on that plane. I'll bring the money to you. And they're like, okay, great. I flew to Mexico. We went to the hospital, Ruth recovered eventually from her injuries. And then I got back to the real rental house we had lived in the year before my friends were in and the phone rang and they looked at me like, Ooh, you answer it. And 'cause we all knew it was Todd and I was going to probably have to like face the music, right? I picked up the phone feeling, I'm trying to feel as bold as I could, and it wasn't Todd, it was someone who was looking for me. It had been my house for a whole year and they were looking, it was an attorney who was networking, looking for some American family who has paperwork ready and interested in adoption because they had a little baby boy born that 4th of July weekend, just a few weeks before that who had crossed into a different Mexican state.

So his international adoption eligibility only had 72 more hours. So they were just networking and somebody told them about us. So I'm listening to this lady tell me about this baby who was like four States away from us saying the court, the court date would be tomorrow at noon. If you're interested in adopting this baby who, by the way is the exact same age of the baby. I just had you have to be at this courthouse at noon the next day. And I'm thinking this phone call home is getting more interesting by the minute, right? But then the Lord gave me this gift. He gives us when we have more questions then we have answers, which is feeling awful familiar these days, right? He gives us a gift. The Bible calls the peace that passes all understanding. It doesn't make sense, but he gives it to us

anyways. It's a birthright for us who are children of God. And as I felt his peace, I'm like writing down the directions to the Veracruz courthouse. And then, and then I hang up the phone and I called Todd. And part of that conversation is not totally appropriate for your pastor to tell you about on a Sunday morning, as I told him, so sorry, I left the country and took a bunch of money and forgot to tell you. And by the way, we're getting a kid tomorrow at noon. How do you feel about all of those choices?

But as he was processing, what I was telling him, man, the Lord gave him that same gift. That peace that passes all understanding. I said, okay, well, good luck telling your brand new boss, he'll be gone for an indefinite amount of time. Starting tomorrow. We hang up the phone. We fly down to the bottom of the country together to meet at this, this Veracruz courthouse. And they handed us our brand new son. And he was only seven weeks old. And I'd only been a mom for like a few months. So I didn't know tons of things, but I did know right away, something was really wrong with him. His legs were scissored and I couldn't get him to uncross from each other. His arms were all bound up and I couldn't get him to straighten out. He was in the rainforest. So he had this crazy fungus growing up his body that had grown into his mouth and made it difficult for him to eat. So he had lost some weight and it bloated his belly. And we were looking at our cross-legged fungus covered frozen arm, little brown baby. And we're like, Oh my gosh, isn't he's so cute?

Six weeks later, we were able to return back to the United States and I took him over to Cincinnati Children's Hospital. And there, after, a variety of tests I sat finally in the office of a neurologist and he said something to me that at the time sounded disrespectful. I now realize he was just trying to get my attention. But he said, "Hey, you look like a little whipper snapper, so listen up closely. I don't know what your big idea was thinking you were going to adopt a special needs child at the same time you're obviously trying to raise your own." 'Cause there they are sitting in a double stroller. He said, "but there are four degrees of cerebral palsy, mild, moderate, severe, and profound. And your son has severe cerebral palsy. He's not going to walk. I don't think he's going to talk. I doubt he'll ever live independently.

And the faster you get your head wrapped around that, the better for this baby it's going to be." And this doctor had no idea he was literally grinding his heel in my spiritual bruise, because I didn't even know if I could ask God to do anything about it because I'd asked him before. And he hadn't, and I didn't even know what that looked like. And all of our plans to go back to Mexico, went on hold because I went deep diving into the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. On Monday, we were there for occupational therapy and Tuesday we were there for, for physical therapy. And Wednesday we did this like magnetic therapy. Thursday, we did this like hot water therapy Friday, I went there for my own therapy. Like we were, we were busy, busy, busy trying to get healthy. And we did that for the next 18 months.

We were living in Warren County at the time. And at that point, someone from the early intervention program at Warren County came out to my house. She was a physical therapist who was supposed to show me what it looked like to use my natural habitat to help my son, Evan, learn how to manipulate stairs or spaces, but he hadn't met any of his milestones. He wasn't moving in the ways that he should be appropriately at that age. And everything was really hard for him. His muscles were hypertonic, which means they were really tight and it always, it always hurt him to move. And he cried all the time and she was watching my daughter, Emma, walk over and take his toy away from him and walk on the other side of the room. And she would watch me go over and go get that toy and rearrange his body and fix them and help him not cry.

And she, she said to me, "Hey, you know what? It looks like to me, it looks like to me, you are rescuing him too much." And I said, you can get out of my house. I'm like, what are you talking about? I rescue him too much. She's like, why, why don't you let him cry? I'm like he cries all the time. And he makes eye contact with me. And then I gotta do something about it. I'm like his mom. She's like, I think you need to let them struggle a little more. And I asked her, did her out of my house. A little bit later that afternoon, Evan was crying again about something. And I went over to help fix him and get him what he needed. And I heard her words in my head and I just sat down and decided to cry with him.

And at first I was crying about him and then I was crying about my dad, then I was crying about Mexico. And you know, when you decide to allow yourself the full expression of grief, you never know exactly what all is going to come out. So all kinds of things were coming out and I left the room for a minute. There's no problem, he's not going anywhere. And I heard from the other room, his cry kind of changed. So I came back to see what was going on and he was on his belly and it wasn't very pretty, but he was army crawling a little bit like, like moving. And so I got in front of him the way you do like a child, you're teaching how to swim. And I was like, Hey buddy, look at you. You're moving. And I'm just coaxing him backwards.

And he got far enough that I left the room for a minute to go get our phones. We used to have on our walls. Remember those and our video cameras that weren't on our phones. Cause I was going to video what he was doing to show his dad and call my mom to come over and see what was going on. When I got back in the room, I just dropped those two things right away. Cause he'd gotten all the way across the room. And he was now stuck on a couch up against this couch. We had this fabric skirt and he had his fists up on that skirt. And he was rocking himself and it wasn't very pretty, but he popped up to a stand. And when he popped up to a stand, every hair on the back of my neck stood on end 'cause I knew I was watching something that I did like supernatural.

And then he did what, what physical therapist called cruising. And he held onto that couch and he walked all the way to the end of it. And he got to the end and he pivoted on his heel and he walked over to my arms. I don't even really remember a lot other than I pick him up and I stuck them in car seats. I probably never buckled him in. I drove a hundred miles an hour to that Christian school to show their dad what was going on. He saw his office face the front of the school. So he saw me take out one of the shrubs as I came up on that circle drive. He's thinking what is on fire. And I just, I didn't even have words. I just stuck Evan on the ground. And Evan walked over to his dad and there, in that moment we had this conversation about like wedding aisles and soccer fields.

And I had, I was overwhelmed by what God had done. And almost immediately we moved back to Mexico and Evan began to play soccer for, 'cause you play a lot of soccer in Mexico. And when he was a preschooler and he would get a goal, I'd be on the sidelines, just sobbing and what God did in his body, totally healed no evidence of any, any cerebral palsy ever again. And then he got a little bit bigger, you know, and he would see me. He'd be like, Hey, you can't actually come to the tournament this weekend. If you're going to like cry. When I score, you know, 'cause I'm like 11, it's not cool. You know, when we were 16, we moved back to Cincinnati when he was 16, we moved back to Cincinnati and there, he learned how to play football at his local high school. And I remember the first time he caught a touchdown pass. I was glad how far away the stands were from the anxiety. Because I was up there crying. I brought a picture of him and his sister. He just finished his senior year at Taylor university where he ended up him and his sister where he played football for them. And because I'm his mom and I'm here tonight. I said, would you come out here so they could see you in person? So I had

[inaudible] and I got a chance

to share at his school a little bit about his story. And the students started to respond in the chapel the way you did, but just like an 18 to 22 year old version. And I stopped them when they were, when they were cheering for him. And I said, listen, I did not tell you this so that you now know something wildly personal about our family. I tell you this because we need to never, ever forget with God, all things are possible.


That's what we have to hold on in this season. We have no idea what's going to happen. There are so many unknowns about our future, but we have to absolutely remember without a shadow of a doubt, the same girl prayed to the same God, about two people I loved. And one of those stories turned out, nothing like I liked it. And the other story turned out way better than I even asked him for. And at the end of the day, the way that God taught me about a reckless kind of faith is I realized he's not a genie God. He's an Isaiah 43 talks about how we don't get to make him in our image. Instead we are made in his image. And if he is writing a particular story, we can trust him. It's for good. It's for good. And that faith is what I want us to hold onto in the season

that is coming ahead for us. And it's a faith that we can read. It's an, old, these are old stories. God's been doing miraculous things through his people for a very long time. The passage I'm going to close us with tonight comes out of first Kings 18. It's the story of Elijah. Elijah is very bold. He is a fun character to study and he, he comes against, he decides he wants to have a showdown against the Baal God, the Baal God that King Ahab had allowed his wife Jezebel to grow up in the, in the nation of Israel. And he wants to have this showdown and it happened to be in Sumeria. And in this time in first Kings 18, they were in an incredible drought and in a famine and he decides he's going to, he's going to confront him. And he goes up to King Ahab and he tells him like, I don't like what you've been doing.

And Ahab says like, why are you causing trouble for me? And Elijah says, I've not made trouble for Israel, but you and your father's family have, you've abandoned the Lord's commands. And you have followed Baals. The first, the first sign that someone is demonstrating a reckless kind of faith, is they have a boldness in the face of evil or, or opposition. He has what the Hebrew word is chutzpah and means utter audacity, gall, or nerve. He has some chutzpah and he, and he tells them, I want you to get 450 of the Baal prophets and 400 of the Asher prophets. And we're going to, we're going to have a little show right here. We'll figure out which God is more powerful, yours or mine. Elijah went down before all the people who were going to be watching on the front row, this showed out and he says, how long have you been wavering between these two opinions?

That word waver and Hebrew literally means to dance, to hesitate, to hop around. He's like, why are you dancing between two worlds? If the Lord is God follow him. But if Baal is God, you can follow him. And I think that's a question God's asking us right now on this date, 2020, are we going to waver? Are we going to dance? Are we going to hop around? Are we going to hesitate? Are we gonna decide that God is God? And that we trust him? It says the people said nothing. So Elijah tells him, go get two bowls. We'll build these altars. You build your altar and I'll build mine. Then you call in the name of your God. And I will call on the name of the Lord and a God who answers by fire. He is the true God. So they took the bull given and they prepared it and they call it on Baal from morning.

Tonight, Baal answer us. But there was no response. There was no one who answered. They danced around the altar. They had made at noon. Elijah began to taunt them shout louder. I said, surely he's a God. Perhaps he's deep in thought. Maybe he's busy. Literally in Hebrew, that means he's going to the bathroom. Maybe he's deep in thought, maybe he's going to the bathroom. Maybe he's traveling. Maybe he's sleeping and must be awakened. But nothing happened. Then Elijah said to all the people who are watching on the front row, come here to me. They came to him and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took 12 stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob to whom the word of the Lord had come saying, your name shall be Israel. With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord

and he dug a trench around it large enough for two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. And then he said to them, fill four large jars with water poured on the offering and on the wood. And I've read this passage many times. And until this last time, when I studied it, I finally asked myself, where did the water come from? They're in a drought. They're over a mile from the Mediterranean down at the bottom because they're at the top of Mount Carmel. Where did they get that water? You know, where they got that water? All the people had to give some of the own, their own water supply to collaborate, to participate in this, about what God was going to do. Sometimes God asks us to join in with him, to give towards the work that he's about to do.

He loves to involve us. He wants our faith to grow. And one of the ways that he does that is through asking us to be bold or asking us to be generous. You may only have like a few drops left in your water bottle, but I promise you if you give it to the Lord, you can't outgive God. He says, do it again to them. And they did it again. Do it a third time. He ordered, they did it a third time. The water ran down the altar and even filled the trench. That's how much the people participated in what Elijah was about to do. And at the time of the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Let it be known today that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant. And that you have done all these things at your command.

Answer me, Lord, answer me. I read that passage. I was when I was studying and I was like, answer me, Lord, answer me. We can talk to him like that. It reminds me of that. That's the passage we studied together and Psalm 85. When we asked him for a revival, when you're God's kid, you can ask him to answer you. He says, answer me, Lord, answer me. So these people will know that you Lord our God and that you are turning their hearts back again. And then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. And that fire is something that theologians call a Christophany and appearance of Christ, in the Old Testament. God often represents himself as fire, think burning bushes and pillars of fire and tongues of fire and fire pots. He came himself to demonstrate himself in front of them who asked him to come and be God. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried "The Lord - he is God! The Lord, he is God!" I just keep thinking. I think like an Amos. When is the last time that you sang to me? How long will you waver between two opinions? Answer me, Lord, answer me. The Lord, he is God. The Lord, he is God. He is begging

us, to put him on

display, to give him the chief seat in the house, to give him the opportunity to show us what he is capable of. With, with him, absolutely nothing is impossible. He can do all things through even the weakest of vessels, bruised that we are as we start this reckless faith series. I want you to ask him to move and to show and to heal and to provide and to give and to open up and to do everything that your heart's desire is to align yourself. Lord ask him. He is coming for us. Let's pray. Jesus. Oh, when was the last time we sang to you right now? We're singing to you. We're looking at you not looking left or right. Not looking behind us, not trying to get too far ahead of you we're right now in the middle of our bruises, in the middle of our questions. And we're asking you to come and demonstrate yourself. Come light on fire, come, come dwell in our presence. Come manifest yourself among us. We give you that, which is hurting and broken. That which we're confused about and that which we're afraid of.

And we ask you as our, as, as your children, as co-heirs with your son, that you would release an anointing on us, that you would give us a peace that passes all understanding. And as that fills us, that we would step out that we would be bold, that we would serve that we would be generous, that we would trust that we would move, that we would go forward with you. Teach us what that looks like as a church. And we pray these things in your Holy and precious name. Amen. As you leave today, just a few reminders for sure, make sure you grab a book on your way out or make sure those of you who are joining us digitally, get a chance to download that so we can share those stories and challenges together. If you're interested in talking to any of our leadership, they're out there in that white tent, and they're online waiting to talk to you. Um, all of us have been to a wedding before, and that's how we're going to dismiss this kind of wedding style. I'm going to invite the ushers to come and they're going to release your row, row by row so we can socially distance dismiss in a way that makes everyone stay safe. So thank you for your time with us today. We look forward to seeing you all next weekend. God bless.