THE REST OF JESUS

THE REST OF JESUS
DUANE SMETS

THE RESOLVED CHURCH

"For those of you who don’t know me…I’m not a bum the guys picked up off the beach this morning. I just haven’t had to be up in front of people in a while and since I’ve been gone I haven’t cut my hair and have maybe got a little too comfortable just relaxing and being myself. I promise next week I’ll look a little more presentable.

It’s funny how looking like a bum gets you no respect. I was at one of my favorite breweries the other week and I got carded for the first time in a long time and the guy looked at my ID for a really, really long time and then said, “Hey man, this doesn’t look like you.” I said, “yeah man, that was a long time ago. I don’t know what to tell you. You can look at all the other cards in my wallet, they all have my name on it, I’ve been married fourteen years, have three kids and am nearly forty years old.” He said, “Yeah right, but I’ll go with it…here’s your beer.”

So I promise I’ll look like a real pastor next week. I’ll cut my hair, give it to locks of love or something and wear a suit next week. Well, I don’t know about wearing a suit. That might be going to far, but I am kinda over my hair. I can barely stand to look at myself without a hat on. Plus my kids say I look like a girl. I keep telling them that Jesus had long hair but they don’t believe me.

Well, I’m the founding pastor and preaching pastor of this church. We started over ten years ago with like eight people in my wife and I’s apartment in Pacific Beach and by God’s goodness to us despite a lot of mistakes He blessed us over and over again to the point that we now have this amazing church with hundreds if people and kids.

And this is an amazing church. I went to a lot of different churches during the six months that I was out. And to be clear, we’re not in competition with other churches in the city…there’s a lot of churches who are doing a lot of good things….but I’ll tell you what…I love this church. Even if I wasn’t a pastor here I think this is still the church I would go to. Our community, our mission, our vision…we got a good thing going on here.

So I’ve been out, on this sixth month sabbatical. The word “sabbatical” means “rest.” In the Old Testament, the sort of bigger and older portion of the Bible, every seven years God gave the land and the leaders and other people sabbaticals in order to rest, recover, recuperate and then re-enter refreshed and renewed.

This sabbatical for me has been all of those things. The truth is six months ago I was pretty fried. Far worse than I was ready or willing to admit back then. But God has been gracious to me during this time off and so what I want to do today is to share a bit with you about it.

So I’ve titled my session today, “The Rest of Jesus.” Not the rest of Jesus in the sense that during my time off I discovered some secret hidden documents from Jesus or about Jesus and have this whole new theology or some BS like that but “The Rest of Jesus” in terms of the rest that Jesus provides for His people. I’ve been able to experience that rest during this time off, which all of you have contributed to in allowing me to have it.

I was running about 200 miles an hour for nearly 20 years straight doing pastoral ministry from being youth pastor to college pastor and then starting this church 10 years ago and I quite literally ran myself into the ground.

During this time off the elders of our church were very good to me in providing coaching and counseling with two former pastors who are now counselors with Ph.Ds that specialize in working with pastors who are in deep need of a sabbatical. They’re not here today (one way or another I’m going to get them down here to work with our leaders and our staff) but I want to publicly say today, “Thank you, Rich Plass and Jim Coefield, I feel as though I owe you my life.”

You know, when you’re a pastor and you are constantly giving and giving and giving and serving and serving and serving…one of the unhealthy things that’s easy to fall into is where you don’t have a pastor and no one is pastoring you. Rich and Jim have been mega instruments of God in restoring me to the wonderful life Jesus purchased and gives to us. So thank you Rich and Jim, I love you guys.

Also, I want to thank all of our leaders here at The Resolved, in particular Pastor James Martin, Pastor Ryan Buss and Pastor Dan Calvert. From what I hear they’ve done a pretty good job at keeping things together. Thank you, you guys. I love you. I’m immensely proud of you and grateful to now serve alongside of you as a co-laborer and co-equal in the ministry of the gospel through this great church. Thank you.

One more thank you. Thank you Amy, my wife who has been with me through it all and spent hours and hours caring for me and processing all kinds of stuff with me. And thank you to my kids. I know they are in Sunday School right now but the truth is our life looked a lot different for our whole family for the last six months and that wasn’t easy. So thank you to all my girls.

Just a little warning. If I’m a little more emotional today cut me some slack. One, because it’s a pretty emotional day for me not having preaching in over six months, I hope I remember how to do this. And two, because I’m learning it’s okay to be a little emotional. I know guys aren’t supposed to be…but that’s a lie. Just ask any dude who’s ever had his heart broken by a beautiful female…I promise you that guy cried like a little girl.

Alright. So here’s the interesting thing about today. There were basically three parts to my sabbatical in the coaching: rest, recalibration and re-entry. As we started finishing the recalibration stage to pre-pare for re-entry Rich asked me to put together 3-5 principles from the things I’ve learned that would serve as a new paradigm and base for me to operate from in coming back.

So here’s the four things I came up with:

“He’s With Me, He Loves Me, He Gives To Me and He’s For Me.”

And when I started thinking about preaching again and sharing those things with you guys, I started to think about the last time I preached and the last text I preached from. If any of you were here or have listened to or watched that sermon then you might remember it sprang from Galatians 2:20.

That verse was one of the things God used to bring me to a place where I recognized I was pretty broken and needed help. Which by the way is one of the things God loves to do and wants to do in all of us. He wants to use His Word, the Bible, to break us and to bring us to a place where we are ready to deal with who we are and what’s really going on with us so that we can receive His love and grace.

Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” God’s Word has the ability to break the hard rock of our hearts into pieces so that we are finally ready to receive His goodness to us.

Today, my hope in sharing my story and some of things I’ve learned and gone through in the last six months isn’t to just talk about myself and further put myself on some pedestal as some guy who now after this intense experience has finally figured it out…but rather to put God and His Word on display as the most powerful force in the universe.

Perhaps, it may be that today, there are some of you here…who’s hearts are hard and they need to be broken…because the truth is, underneath it all you are a mess and hurting deeply. I pray that the things I share with you bring you hope. My prayer is you would know that God does care and that there is healing for those who would humble themselves before Him and allow Him to begin His brutal and beautiful heart surgery to begin to take place.

It’s not easy. But it’s good. This sabbatical is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.

Okay, so here’s the interesting thing about today…when I went back and read Galatians 2:20, my last sermon, look at this…complete coincidence I swear.

Galatians 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ.” - Got destroyed, fried, burned out, end of myself…I’ve never felt more humiliated in my life.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” - He’s With Me

“And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me” - He Loves Me

“and gave himself” - He Gives To Me

“for me.” - He’s For Me

Pretty crazy that the four things which ended up being the most important and precious things I learned during this six month sabbatical were the very four things so prominently displayed in the text from the last time I preached.

And the funny thing is last time I preached and read this text I didn’t really talk about the text at all. I kind of did something I like to call “springboard preaching,” which is where you read a text and springboard off it, jumping to the moon or wherever and never come back to it. That’s why when I preached from it the last time I was here I didn’t stand up but sat on a stool and just talked…because typically I’m not a fan of springboard preaching. I believe that preachers are commanded by God to preach His Word…not their own great ideas.

So today, I actually want to talk about this verse and preach. I know the Galatians series is over and all, which I’m a little bit jealous of because I was really excited to walk through it and preach through it with all of you. I had laid out every sermon and text division in it a year in advance. God had different plans though, so I guess this is sort of an epilogue.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here so don’t know if you guys have still been doing this but let’s go ahead and do it. Let’s all stand, I’ll read the text, declare it as God’s word and pray over it, okay?

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Let’s look closely at this text together for a minute. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Let me ask you a question. What word occurs in these three sentences more than any other?

Need some help? Look at it now.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

See it now? The personal pronoun “I.” Now how about if we add in “I’s” brother “me” which is the other personal pronoun here that means the same thing.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I, I, Me, I, I, Me, Me. Seven times in this one verse we have direct reference to the individual person “I” or “me.” What this tells us at the most basic level is that this thing about Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, is directly an extremely personal thing! Do you see that?

What this verse demands of you and I is that whatever our beliefs are about God or His Son, Jesus Christ they must be extremely personal and direct things. If your idea or current experience of God right now is some lofty, detached, theory or idea and is not immensely and deeply personal than I dare say, you either don’t really know God or are like I was very numb to Him.

God. Our God. The God of the Bible…is a God who is very interested in you. He cares about you. He cares about all of the details and all of the stuff that has happened to you and made you who you are. Our God is a personal God.

So, just for a bit let’s take a look at each of these four things and I’ll share how God essentially had to blow me up and take a shotgun to who I was in order to show me how much He cared about me. He’s with me, He loves me, He gives to me and He’s for me.

First one…

I. HE'S WITH ME
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” - He’s With Me

I want to present an idea to you that nearly sounded like crazy heresy to me the first time it was said to me. “The goal of the Gospel is NOT the cross but God’s presence with us.” Think about that for a second. “The goal of the Gospel is NOT the cross but God’s presence with us.”

For us as a church the cross is extremely, extremely important. Not only because so many want to distance Jesus from it, but because it is the crucial place where we find forgiveness, covering for our sin, redemption, healing and all kinds of wonderful things. All those things flow through and from the cross. That’s why we focus on the cross every week here at our church in the partaking of communion, with the body and blood of Jesus as the bread and wine.

So don’t hear me wrong. I’m not saying the cross is not important or infinitely sweet and crucial but is it the goal of the Gospel? I don’t think so. Let me read to you something from one of the books my counselors had me read:

“The Old and New Testaments do not ultimately point toward moral examples, or to the church, but to God’s work of uniting his people to himself through a participation with a Trinitarian character: a participation in Christ by the Spirit, revealing the Father who adopts them as his children.

Through the Spirit believers are able to share with Christ ‘what he received from the Father, so that Christ could become ours and dwell with us.”

The argument here is that the goal of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, is not for Him to just come and die for our sins but for Him to come to be with us! The cross is what enables that.

Next week we start the month long Christmas celebration of Advent, where God initially sent the Son to be with us. God sent Jesus, as a baby, to be with His people. Then, later He died on the cross for His people because of sin which separates us from Him, right?

Alright. So once Jesus was crucified and we believe our sins are crucified there with Him on the cross then what? What’s the intended result, goal or purpose from there? For Him to be with us.

Here’s what Jesus said in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

In this passage Jesus is standing there in the flesh with His disciples and saying, I’m dwelling with you here and now, and soon (after the cross) He says He would be in them. Which is why now, part of the confession of our faith for those of who are Christians is as Galatians 2:20 says it, “Christ lives in me” by His Spirit that has been sent into our hearts."

Here’s why this matters and why it wrecked me so hard. I think we as people, as fallen human beings are very very good and making nice neat divisions between what is sacred and what is secular. We tend to think God is only with us either when we’re in church, singing songs, taking communion, praying, reading the Bible or just generally being good.

But God’s presence is not like that. God’s presence is a permanent presence.

Did you catch that word forever?

John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”

For-ever. Here’s another verse.

Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God’s presence is a permanent presence.

And if that’s true then you know what? It means God was there with you, suffering with you when you went through whatever you went through that was so painful and so hard. It means God is there with you outside of these walls when you go to the beach or the mountains to see and experience His beauty and wonder. It means God is there with you when for the life of you, you can’t see or sense Him at all. It means God is with us wherever we go, no matter what!

Listen to the old wise words of David who wrote most of the Psalms in the Bible.

Psalm 139:7-12 – "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you."

Here’s one of the things I said in my last sermon before my sabbatical. It was from something I had written down in my journal. “I need to learn what it looks like for me to walk with Jesus and for Jesus not to be my job.”

The truth is I had got to the point where the only time I could scarcely feel or sense the presence of God with me, was here in this building where I was either singing or preaching. The rest…I just felt numbness and anything I ever did outside of these walls I just felt at best, sort of blah…at worst, guilty and wrong. You guys ever feel like that?

We are so good at building up these sacred and secular walls and saying, God is with us here but not with us here. But God has promised to be with us everywhere. And that counts not only for Him suffering with us but in enjoying the life He created us for.

And that’s really important…the life He created us for. Let’s talk about that more in our next point, “He Loves Me.”

II. HE LOVES ME
“And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me” - He Loves Me

Now, I’ll be honest about this one. I actually have a hard time with love. I mean I get the romantic love thing where one person falls in love with another and it culminates in this committed relationship. I fell in love with my wife 18 years ago and I love her more than another other human being on the planet.

For a person like me who has wife who loves me and regularly tells me that…when a guy tells me that another guy loves me, it just kind of weirds me out. I’m not sure how to take it. But…I’m learning that’s probably because I’m not too good at intimacy with people in general which likely has a lot to do with that.

So here’s how this thing has hit me. Honest truth. Yes, I believe God is a God of love and yes I’ve believed Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. We sing it with our kids all the time. But in my heart…deep down in my soul, what I believed is Jesus only loved me for what He could get out of me, what He could use me for to do or accomplish.

One of the other verses that just crushed me and set me off at the beginning of my sabbatical was Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:26, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

For nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry I had been striving and fighting to make God happy and to do what He called me to do and I gave and gave and gave of my soul bit by bit by bit until I just hit this point where I had nothing left and had forfeited my soul in order to please God and gain His love and favor. It might sound warped but I really started thinking God only loved me for what He could get out of me.

And what I’ve learned about God in this sabbatical is that He actually does love me. Me. He uniquely created me as a unique person not just with different talents but with different likes and interests and quirks and He actually loves and cares about me as an individual person.

It’s weird. In Rich and Jim’s book, “Relational Soul” my counselors have this section where they talk about the true self and the false self that we tend to create where we separate ourselves from who we really are. I had to go through a hard process where I had to ask myself, who am I really? Who really is Duane? Here’s what Rich and Jim write,

“The false self is an image we create. Most of us create an image that is socially appropriate. As a result we receive affirmation and praise. Yet at its core, our construct is still an image, a facade. It is foreign to our truest identity as beings created in the image of God.”

And it was hard because nearly everything I looked at where I have defined myself has been either in reaction to something that has happened to me or aspiration to a become a person I thought I wanted to be. Does that make sense? You guys feel that?

Nearly everything I looked at as things which defined who I am had been either in reaction to something that had happened to me or our of an aspiration to a become a person I thought I wanted to be. So when I stripped it all down and I asked myself who is Duane? What is unique about Duane in how God has made me to be? I came up with one thing. I like the ocean.

That might sound silly. But stick with me…no sacred secular divide. From the time I was little I have been magnetized by the ocean. My grandma would take to the beach when I was small here in San Diego. I got my first surfboard when I was about 9 and have been surfing ever since. Well, until I hit sabbatical it had been nearly two months. Since I went on sabbatical I’ve been in the water surfing almost every day.

The ocean has been pretty significant for me. It was a happy place for me as a kid at my grandma’s. When I went to college here in San Diego in 1996 I became a Christian on the Sunset Cliffs here in SD looking out over the water. I accepted God’s call on my life for pastoral ministry at that spot. And then a few years later I proposed to my wife in that very same place.

So during my sabbatical I’ve spent a lot of time at that spot and in the water just re-connecting with the God of the ocean.

I’ve come to believe that God actually cares a lot about my individual personal soul, my person and my life. Jesus came to gives us life…but if we’re just working so hard or stressing so much that we never experience life, then we’re missing what God intended us for.

For me this one is actually number one on my personal list as far as principles go in coming back to pastoring. My individual, personal, spiritual, emotional and physical health is number one. Because if I’m not healthy I can’t really minister to anyone else and I’ll just end up a basket case again.

So connecting with who I really am and the things and the people that energize me has been a really helpful realization and it might sound silly but I actually think it’s one of the coolest things about our God…that everyone of us are different and He’s made us differently and He loves those things about us.

Maybe it’s just me but somehow it seems like the world and sometimes especially in Christian church circles that everyone wants to make everyone be this one certain way and if you’re not like that then you’re out. But God’s not like that. He has a great appreciation and love for all kinds of different people and those differences are okay and are good.

If you’re into sewing or rock climbing or fashion or biking or running or collecting vintage spoons like my 99 year old Grandma or hula hooping with that crew in OB on Saturdays…then do what you do. You need to do that. If it gives you life then don’t ignore that because if you do your soul will seep away. God loves you and has given you those interests and desires and means for them to be energizing to you. Do you get what I’m saying? You guys feel that?

I’ll say this too. It’s important to see those things as gifts from a God who loves you. Because when you have hard and difficult things happen to you in your life, it makes it hard to believe that God loves you. The thought is…if God loved me, then He wouldn’t have let that happen.

But we don’t have to go any further than the cross to find the God who did not spare His own son, a heinously hard and difficult thing, in order to express and extend His love to thousands. So that logic doesn’t really work. However, I don’t even think it’s logic we’re looking for. I think we’re looking for and longing for love. It’s just that love is hard to receive when you’ve been hurt.

I’ve been hurt a lot over the years. Far more than I’d like to admit or am ready to talk about. Through it somehow though, I’ve started to see God’s love, which I believe is birthing more grace in me. Or at least I want it to.

Let me explain that more in this next part, “He Gives To Me.”

III. HE GIVES TO ME
From our text we have,“and gave himself” which is a clear reference to the cross where Jesus gave up His life.

Romans 8:32 connects this for us. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” The not sparing his Son and giving Him up is God the Father sending Jesus to die up on the cross.

There was a day about half way through my sabbatical where I was sitting at those cliffs you saw in the picture a minute ago and I was thinking through some of the things I had been talking with Rich about in my latest counseling and coaching session about the need to operate from a place of grace and gratitude…and it was one of those moments where you are open enough to be really honest with yourself and I admitted to myself that I didn’t really like what he had said.

So I started thinking about why I didn’t like it. What I realized is that, for me, being thankful to God was just another one of those things that we are supposed to do all the time. Always and everything giving thanks to God the Father.

And don’t get me wrong. I believe God is sovereign over all things. Probably more than you. But I just don’t like it sometimes.

Anyway, I stopped and tried really hard to think about it and ask myself why I didn't feel gratitude nor like the concept of it? And what I came up with was that I didn’t really feel that grateful for anything.

I had some pretty difficult things I went through growing up that I had never processed and through the sabbatical counseling and coaching I discovered I had a lot of deep seated anger and hurt from that. And then when I looked back on the course of my life I felt like everything good that ever happened to me was because I worked really hard to get it.

I pushed through a very strange and difficult childhood, traveling on the road 90% of the time with my parents. I was freaking born in a trailer. Well, it was a hospital but I think the trailer was sitting outside the hospital and from then on I was constantly in and out of school, without every having any real friends growing up. But I pushed through all that.

After high school I turned my life around from alcohol and drugs. I got good grades. I went to college…three times…I got three degrees graduating summa cum laude. I have always worked hard at every job I’ve ever had to get money.

I won the heart of this beautiful woman and convinced her to marry me. I had three kids. I started this church. I worked my butt off to make it grow...

When I started to think about it, I couldn’t think of one thing good that has happened to me in my life that I couldn’t take just a little bit of credit for, if not most. Of course there’s salvation and justification by faith…but that’s all future right? I’m not in heaven yet to get that great reward I didn’t earn right?

You guys ever feel like that? That the only good things that happen to you are the things you make happen?

What I realized is that subtly and silently I had been playing the victim card for a long long time. And the funny thing is people who play the “poor me” victim card all the time really annoy me. I’m always like, “Ah…get over yourself.”

So here’s the ironic thing. I was surfing one day and when I was getting out of the water and walking to my truck I ran into an old friend and surfing buddy in the parking lot who was just heading out. I hadn’t seen him in years and so we were catching up and what not and he asked me how the church was doing and I said, “I have no idea, I’ve been out for the last 5 months” and explained to him that I was on sabbatical.

He was like, “Oh, cool man.” So was that something you decided to do or that your elders asked you to do?” I stopped and thought about it and then said, “No, neither really. The truth is God just did it to me…I pretty much had a major break down.”

You see guys. Things were actually far worse than I was ready to admit before I left. For those of you who thought I just had this six month long vacation…you have no idea. I mean we did a few family vacation trips, but overall this whole sabbatical thing has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I think I can say this now…there were times in the beginning where I would laying on the couch uncontrollably crying and shaking for like 20 minutes and Amy would just have to tell our girls to go to the other room and that Daddy was sick. I went to the doctor and he did all these tests on me. Turns out I was in perfect health but was having panic attacks. I had never had panic attacks before in my entire life…from what I understand they feel a lot like heart attacks. I wasn’t in a good place at all.

But you know what? God used that to force me to a place of humility where I pretty much hit rock bottom and was ready to listen and receive help. And now six months later I look back on this time as one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

And guess what? I did nothing to earn it. God just gifted it to me and decided to shut me down. This sabbatical has been such a gift from God. I’m grateful…truly grateful in the fullest sense of the word for it. I don’t think I’d still be standing or be a Christian if I wasn’t given that time.

So I’m not only grateful to God but so grateful to our elders and grateful to you who faithfully give financially to The Resolved Church. There’s very few companies much less non-profit companies who would let the main leader just take six months paid leave and on top of that pay for counseling during that time. I feel extremely blessed and am incredibly incredibly grateful. Thank you.

I realize now I’ve been so hard on so many people and lacked so much grace and compassion for others and I believe God has experientially shown me immense kindness in this sabbatical and I want to extend that to you and I want our church to be a place where that kind of grace is felt and known.

I believe God is a God who gives to us. He gave us His son and if He did that will He not give us all things? He will and He does.

Okay, one more thing and we’ll wrap this up. “He’s For Me.”

IV. HE'S FOR ME
This last one is a little shorter and it’s really about trust. I’ve been on an island for a long time because a lot of people have failed me and a lot of people have hurt me which has made it really hard for me to trust anyone. Both in my upbringing and in my pastoral ministry, at times it’s felt like the only thing I’ve learned is that people will fail you.

In the past I’ve kind of comforted myself with becoming jaded…like, “Well, people will fail you but God never will.” The problem with that is that God has designed to reach us and touch us, often through other people. And if you walk through your whole life without ever trusting anyone that’s a very lonely lonely thing.

If God is with us, then He is for us, despite what it may seem. If He’s for us then we have to learn to start trusting other people with our hearts and our lives rather than close them off and put up a front of having it all together.

If we believe that God is truly for us it frees us to start trusting other people. That doesn’t mean everyone. Some people are not good to trust. They are not safe. The kind that gossip and tell other people personal details of your life to use it to their advantage are cowards and moles and they shouldn’t be trusted. But those who prove their love and their lives toward you should be trusted.

I went to all our elders about a month ago now and apologized and said I’m sorry I never really trusted you. I want to trust you and believe I can. Not everybody needs to know everything. There’s a lot I haven’t told you all today. But I’m learning that I have the freedom to pick and choose who will be my friends and who will be closest to me and who I can trust and that’s okay.

For a long time I’ve felt the burden and the pressure to know, follow and care for all of your lives as pastor. But as God has blessed us with more and more people I started to feel like I was constantly failing because I couldn’t keep up with it all.

What I’ve come to know is that I don’t have the capacity for that and I’ve got to trust the leaders and the processes we’ve put in place. My best gift and the way I can best minister to you is through my preaching and writing. So that’s what I’m going to focus on moving forward.

That means less meetings with me. Less involvement from me on a lot of levels. I’m going to trust our leaders. Focus on the future of this church and hone in the gifts, calling and interests God has given me.

I’m more committed to this church than ever before. I heard rumors when I was gone that some said I might not be coming back. Whoever started that I have no idea. If that was you and you were trying to get rid of me…we’ll I’m back and by God’s grace I’m not going anywhere, so deal with it.

God has done a lot in me and I’ve got a lot of things I’m anxious to share with you in due time about what I think we can do and be for the sake of the Gospel in this city. I’ve got a lot of new vision and passion I’m excited about but I want to come back in slow and steady…a renewed vision and passion. So I’ll share about that stuff maybe after the new year when we as a pastoral staff get to talk and pray together over it.

I believe God is for me. Has my best interests at heart. And I believe is loves and cares each and every one of you and is for you. I believe God is for this church and I’m excited about being part of it moving forward.

Earlier we talked about enjoying the gifts of love God gives to us. Now we’re talking about the jobs He’s given us to do. God means for us to pursue them and fulfill them, because He is for us.

The first verse I ever memorized was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

I am more confident than ever that God is for me and will make both my path, your paths and our church’s path straight as we trust in Him and trust in each other. Amen?

Alright, the band’s going to start playing now as we get ready to experience the presence of God in Holy Communion.

CONCLUSION
I titled this sermon, “The Rest of Jesus.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

This six month "rest-a-battical" has been truly restful for me in the most deep and eternal ways. I’ve personally experienced the rest of Jesus found in His ever abiding presence, the rest of Jesus in His love for ME, the rest of Jesus in that He gives to me, and the rest of Jesus in that He is truly for me.

We talked about four things today, that God is with us, that God loves us, that God gives to us and that God is for us. Rest is found in knowing and experiencing those things from Him.

Today as we come to Jesus’ table know His rest. I believe Jesus intentionally designed this sacred ceremony to be a time where we uniquely touch, taste and feel His presence, His love, His gift, and His favor so wonderfully displayed in the cross.

So as you take the bread and dip in the wine, hear God’s Words spoken over you: I am with you. I love you. I give to you. And I’m for you.

Let’s go to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ll pray for our time.