Guest Speaker Jon Talbert encourages us to make a difference in our city by leaning into the momentum of what God is already doing.
Yeah, I do actually love this church. It is awesome to be here. I feel like I’ve said this to pastor Terry. This feels like my church, away from church. I live in the Santa Cruz area in a small little town called Soquel. Just to be able to come into the city, and to feel like, “Man, this is home.” If I lived here, this is where I’d go. Oh, there are people over here too. Hey, I didn’t even see you guys. That’s awesome. Then there are people at the Riordan campus, right? So I’m going to wave to them. Somebody’s waving to me. You’re not at the Riordan campus. So, how’s it going guys, glad you’re here. Good job. High five, somebody. Riordan! You’re us, we’re you. Sorry, I wanted to just do that. Then y’all over here in the Dog pound area. I love it. It’s great. It’s like the Arsenio Hall Show. I don’t know where I’m going with this.
I want to share something that I shared in the first service, but it was a big secret, I shared with pastor Terry before we started. Last year was my first year as a chaplain in major league baseball. I had been a chaplain in football, and professional soccer for years. Then I was asked by baseball to cover the Oakland A’s and I said, “Sure.” It was super fun to do. Just on Wednesday, I was asked to be the chaplain for the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants. I hope you’re applauding your team because I don’t really bring anything other than just, “Hey.”
What’s awesome with that though, it’s super fun to be involved in professional sports. Because last year when I came onto the team, I had a theme that I picked in spring training, which is that the gospel doesn’t affect how you play. The gospel doesn’t do it. The Bible doesn’t affect, like coming to chapel, baseball players are very superstitious, and the Giants are probably the same thing. I said, “Chapel doesn’t affect how you play, but the gospel affects culture always. So if you live out the practical principles of the gospel, the otherness of the gospel is to love one another, serve one another, bless one another, bear one another’s burdens, care for one another, come alongside one another, and forgive one another. That always has an impact on culture, always.”
The baseball team is no different. So, as we began every chapel, every time we met, every Bible study, we would go over that. Just one more time. Just remember, the gospel affects culture, live out the gospel. Culture eats any strategy for breakfast. You can have a strategy all day, but culture changes everything. You’ve been in a workplace where it’s been, “Man, it’s a great culture to be in.” So we just live that out.
Every time, all of a sudden, it didn’t affect how they won but watching them play and watching the A’s. If you followed the A’s last year, they had a crazy run. Watching the ballplayers, we had the largest contingency of believers on the team, watching them live out the otherness of the gospel. So I decided on Wednesday when they asked me, that will be my theme for the Giants. I’m not promising that anything will happen, but wouldn’t it be cool. I just thought I’d share that with you.
We’re in this series on All-In and I want to share a story. I know it is a super bowl Sunday. So I wanted to share a quick story about football. This is probably my first interaction in pro sports. My daughter, when she was four years old, she’s 33 now, she was in preschool. We lived in Southern California. She went to preschool one day, and at the end of the day, she came home and I said, “How was school, honey?” She said, “I got in a fight.” This is my four-year-old. Later on, I got a call from the teacher. Sure enough, she did get in a fight. What had happened that day was that it was share day for another kid. Share is an interpreted word, different things for different kids. For this kid, it’s interpreted as, “I’m bringing something to share with the class, to present.” She viewed share, as we would talk about it in our family, “You’re going to share that with me.” Obviously, a miscommunication of words. He was sharing his item, and she was trying to take it from him, demanding him to share and a fight ensued. To pushing, shoving, to where the boy finally said to her, “My daddy is going to beat up your daddy.”
Now I’m involved. She brought that up and telling the story. She says, “But daddy, I know you can take him.” I say, “All right.” I love the fact that she has that confidence in me. Right? So I said, “So who’s this? Who’s your daddy? Who’s your…” I’m getting all worked up. You know, “Who’s this kid?” His name is Matthew. Matthew Slater, this is a picture of his father, Jackie Slater. I kid you not, I am not making this up. Here are a couple of pictures. Let’s just scroll through what Jackie Slater looks like. I mean, this is him right here. Here’s another picture of him here. He’s a scary individual. Let’s just be honest. He’s about 6’5, maybe 3000 pounds. He’s a big dude. My daughter’s confident in her daddy, “Daddy you can take him.” I say, “You need to learn how to share. Because you’re going to get me killed.” We actually became friends through that whole circumstance. It was super funny.
Then, I was doing the chapel for teams that played in the super bowl, not that, right at the super bowl, but teams that year. Matthew Slater now plays for the New England Patriots. He’ll be playing today. You can watch him and pray for him. He’s a great kid. But the first time I did chapel for them that year, I brought that preschool picture, and I shared that story. The teammates were like, “You were picking on a girl.” I mean, it was awesome. Oh man, Wow. That has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but is everybody having a good time so far? All right. Woo! All-in.
Our service is about, “all -n”. Pastor Terry asked me if I’d join you guys. Every time I say, “if my calendar is clear.” Every time, because I just feel an affinity for this church. Because, it’s not just the people, the people are fantastic, the worship is great, and the drummer is crazy in the aquarium. It’s just awesome. I love it here. But the fact is that this is a church uniquely placed in the city, with a pastor that’s tenured in this city. It’s a strategic missional beachhead for what the gospel is intended to do in the bay area. Your church is primed for that thing. As the people of God, whether you are walking in your faith for a long time, you’re new to faith, or you’re thinking, “I’m not sure about this faith thing.” You’re here in the mix to say, “What does God have for this church?” Don’t deny that. Don’t think that. That’s kind of an underestimated thing. You’re part of God’s redemptive story for the city. It’s a big deal. So being “all-in” is kind of a big deal. For me, when I think about “all-in” I think about my college sports days. If you were in the last service, you can’t answer this question. But can you guess what sport I was in, in college? I played in the NCAA, for one year, division one sport. What are your thoughts? What do you think? Football? No, come on football. Baseball? I’ve never played baseball in my life. Basketball? No. Hockey? Wow. Southern California hockey. No.
All right. I’ll stop. I’ll stop before it goes into field hockey or ribbon dancing. I was an oarsman in college. I was on the rowing team. I rowed in the NCAA one year. It was probably one of the most trying years for me because I learned more about myself, and the limitations, expectations, and thresholds. I needed to break through, in order to go to another level. This was a team, known as they were, they were technical, the nickname was the Giant Killers because they wiped everyone out on the west coast. I rowed for one year. Just because you make the team, doesn’t mean you make the boat. Just because you make the boat, doesn’t mean you make the boat that’s selected for the race. Just because you made the boat that’s selected for the race, doesn’t mean that the day before the race, someone could challenge your seat. They call it seat racing. So they have the best, the prime, the most optimum boat, and chances to win. Their record proves so. For me, each time, I think, “I can make the team, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
It required an “all-in” attitude for me. It changed not just working out, because you think it just is working out. It changed my diet and my sleep patterns. It changed my GPA because I had to have a good GPA to be on the team. It changed my social circles because I couldn’t hang out with the friends that I wanted to hang out with at night because I had to be in bed at a certain time. It changed my mental attitude towards the things that I was doing. It changed the holistic person of who I was. I had to be all-in if I wanted to make the team, make the boat, make the boat that races, and make that seat.
All-in required something of me. When I think about “all-in” as a strategy for the church, or as a theme, it’s not just, “Hey, that sounds cool. We can make a cool logo and some shirts. Really, hey, it’s all-in.” It has something to do with the whole person, because as the church begins to say, “We choose to engage in this lifestyle, this relationship with Christ. We recognize that on an interpersonal level. With me individually, He changed my life. In my life, things have changed, things are healing, and things are happening.” Collectively as a church, it becomes what I called it earlier. A missional beachhead, against the forces of darkness, against the city that is wishy-washy at times, a lot of times.
I believe that as pastor Terry said to me, “We’re contending against the spirit of nominalism.” Meaning, kind of, I dabble. We’re contending against that spirit within Christian faith. He says, “We’re contending for a committed, joyful engagement in the way of Christ, on a personal level.” Because it affects you as an individual in your workplace, in your neighborhoods, in your social circles, in whatever you’re involved and engaged in. You become the embodiment of the Person and work of Christ in your life. Wherever you are, walking with Jesus for a number of years, I’m just really learning this stuff, and it’s kind of changing my heart. Wherever you are on that spectrum. I wrote this down when I thought about the message today. It’s this, “To be “all-in” is to fully immerse and align yourself in the person and work of Christ, His calling on your life, and His mission for the church, in the world.” Just that one more time to be “all-in” is to fully immerse and align yourself with the Person and work of Christ that is calling on your life personally, His mission for the church, in this world as.
There’s a passage in Jeremiah 29:7. It’s a pretty thematic verse for some that often, but I believe that this church is uniquely placed in a position in this city, for the sake of the city to flourish. Here’s the passage, in Jeremiah, chapter 29. “Seek peace and prosperity.” Peace and prosperity. Peace is translated, Shalom. Seek the Shalom of the city, the peace of the city, and the prosperity of the city. It does not mean just money. I mean, flourishing on all fronts. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city, to which I’ve carried you into exile.” Meaning, when the children of Israel were carried into exile. Seek the peace of this place. Then he says, “Pray to the Lord for if it prospers, you too will prosper.” I don’t mean this to prosper. I mean, flourish. As you are uniquely put in the city, from a macro perspective, all the way down to your specific workplace, it’s designed for you, as you seek to say, “How do we make this flourish? Because as it makes this flourish, it makes me flourish as well.” It’s a biblical principle across the board.
I think about that as it relates to what I call increase. The increase of influence in the city. Increase looks like this. If an increase happens in the parking, or the building space, or staffing here at the church, that’s not a real increase. The increase is advancing the kingdom of God, in your city. The increase is establishing missional beachheads, groups that advance the gospel in your city, like Riordan today. Increases attaching your health metric to the health of the city.
It’s a mindset that says, “If the city has a problem, we have the problem. If the city rejoices, we rejoice.” Increase is less about a number, and more about a Christ-centered influence over the city, because with godly influence comes gospel influence. That’s why we’re doing “all-in.” It’s not to have a really cool church, but it’s about you as an individual, living like Christ, wherever you are. Because when we gather here, and then on Monday we go to our places, that influence, that godly gospel influence goes to those places. That’s the whole point of it. We focus on what that actually means. As I was praying through and saying, “Okay, God, what do you want me to talk about?” I felt like, I don’t know why God does this to me, but I get random passages, weird ones.
I remember last time I came here, I spoke about two weird guys in the old Testament that I really never looked at before. Now I get this weird passage in Mark 5. In Mark 5, there’s this story where Jesus enters into the city and all this weird stuff happens. It’s in your bulletin. I’m going to read the story. But I believe that cornerstone, leaning into this new season of “all-in” has everything to do with working through the tension, and reality of the weird story in Mark 5. Let’s pray real quick, and we’ll ask God to bless our time in Mark 5.
God, thank you for the opportunity to open your Word. May it and may you illuminate our eyes to see. What it is you’d have us see today, here on this campus, at the Riordan campus, that you would allow us to interact with your Word, and it would change us, it would convict us, it would encourage us, it would sharpen our thinking, and cause us to live more intentionally for you, in Christ’s name. Amen.
Let me give you a backdrop to Mark 5. Before we jump into that passage, there are just four chapters ahead of it. Mark’s gospel isn’t what we call an action-packed gospel. Meaning it jumps from event to event. It doesn’t trace a lot of the old Testament connections, to prophecy or everything else. It just starts with Jesus getting baptized. It just jumps right into Jesus’s ministry. It jumps into Him collecting and selecting His 12 disciples that are going to follow Him. In chapter two, we see all of a sudden Jesus heals a paralytic. He heals someone with leprosy. He begins to heal all kinds of people. There’s a viral message that comes out about Jesus.
When somebody starts healing, crazy stuff like this happens, it becomes big. “Whoa, what’s going on over there?” There’s this momentum of what’s happening with Jesus in His ministry in chapter 2. In chapter 3 it says, more crowds were following Him, where Jesus is just trying to teach. He interacts. In chapter four, Mark gets to passages where Jesus is teaching about the kingdom of God, and the exponential impact of something small, like the gospel, something small, like living out Christ, and how it explodes. He gives a number of different examples. It talks about the seed that’s thrown on good soil that produces 30, 60, and a hundredfold. He talks about the mustard seed, which the smallest seed grows into the largest tree. He talks about a light, a nice little illumination light, that illuminates the whole room.
Jesus says, “This small impact, this small thing blows up. It’s crazy.” That was His teaching in chapter four. At the very end of chapter four, and He has disciples, they’re on tour, they get in a boat, and then they’re going to the other side of the lake. While they go on the lake, this is the end of chapter four, a big storm comes up with waves going on. Jesus is asleep and the disciples are freaking out. Jesus is woken up. They said, “We’re going to die. Don’t you care?” Jesus says “Haven’t I taught you anything? Don’t you have faith?” He calms the wind and the waves. They say, “Who is this?” They realize the things that He’d been teaching, the stories that He has shared, and the impact of all these people that are being healed. This is the guy.
Then they go into chapter five. That’s where we’re going to focus on today. These first 20 verses, and buckle up, it’s a weird story. Chapter five, verse one, “They went across the lake to the region of Gadarenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. He had often been chained hand and foot, but tore the chains apart, and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day, among the tombs in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted out at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me? Jesus, son of the most high God. Swear to God that you won’t torture me.” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit.” Then Jesus asked him, “What’s your name?” He said, “My name is Legion.” He replied, “For we are many.” He begged Jesus again and again, not to send them out of that area. A large herd of pigs was feeding in the nearby hillside.”
“The demons begged Jesus, send us among the pigs, allow us to go into them. He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about 2000 in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this to the town, and the countryside. The people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the Legion of demons sitting there dressed, in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man, and told them about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed, begged to go with him, Jesus did not let him go. He said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis, how much Jesus had done for him. And the people were amazed.”
Okay. Can we just agree? That’s just a weird, weird story. But in that story, when you begin to unpack it and go deeper into it, you realize, there’s something that’s in this story that draws me to this. Things that I observe, observations. That kind of changed my perspective, because if we’re a church, and we’re looking at it and saying, “Church is made of its members, and its members are made up of people that go into particular cities, in particular workplaces, and different things. The story has to translate into that a little bit. There are five things that I pulled from this story that I want to relate to you today that I feel like a part of our, “all-in” conversation. First, unusual issues are often mismatched with flawed solutions. Sorry, it’s a little wordy. Unusual issues are often mismatched with flawed solutions.
At the beginning of the story, obviously, they’re emphasizing it. Go back to verse three. He says, “this man lived in the tombs. No one could bind him anymore. Not even with the chain.” So that means they’ve tried it a couple of times. “It often chained hand and foot now, but he tore the chains apart, broke the irons. No one was strong enough to subdue him.” Did you catch that? Because it kind of repeated itself. What’s interesting in this story is that they’re trying to solve a spiritual problem, with a physical solution. The solution isn’t about chaining him or binding him up, it’s about delivering him. They’re trying their hardest to restrain him, and what he needs, is to be set free
I believe that’s what we see in our city all the time. We begin to see things that are happening in our city, that are problems, that are compounding, and the city is trying to respond and give it a solution that may be spiritual in nature. The city of San Francisco has so many issues, homelessness, crime, poverty, addictions, all kinds of things. What our city often does is develop a program, pass a law, or host another event about bringing some sort of solution, where the church should look at it and say, “Yes, tangible things, very important. But this seems spiritual.” I live in the Santa Cruz County area. Across from our church, there is the largest homeless encampment I’ve ever seen. Every week it gets bigger. The city can’t respond and sweep these people. What are you going to do? It just gets worse, and worse, and worse. What do we do? Try solution, after solution, after solution. When in fact, I think homelessness, the way it looks in Santa Cruz, it feels spiritual to me. That as the church we begin to recognize, “Yes, tangible needs are important. But is there something that is destroying mankind? That we’re trying to solve, that isn’t solved with a practical solution, but a very spiritual one?
I’m becoming more and more convinced that faith communities that want to have a real increase, a significant impact on the surrounding community, are ones looking to address spiritual depravity. Now that’s collective as a church. Let me take that right into the personal. You are in that same boat, in your workplace, and in your neighborhoods, as you see things. If it’s a recurring problem, pay attention. Because maybe it’s a prayer that says, “God, what is here that needs to be broken? I am here present and want to do something specific, but what can I do?” We begin to look almost through the problem, to see something that is spiritual. That’s the first thing that I see. If we want kingdom increase, we address the spiritual problems that lie beneath the surface, within the needs of our cities, our communities, and our own personal lives.
Here’s the second thing that I see. It’s what I call an unbelievable manifestation of Jesus, as magnetically powerful and attractive. Unbelievable manifestation of Jesus is magnetically powerful and attractive. Look at verse 6. It says, when he, this is the demon-possessed, “When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.” We’ll just pause right there for a second. Before I read the rest of it, when does a demon run to Jesus? That doesn’t make sense. What I think is happening, and this is just my interpretation, is this man, he has enough cognitive sense in his brain, even though he’s possessed, sees Jesus, and is desperately looking for something, other than what he’s got. When he gets there, he runs to Jesus and falls at his feet. Then the demon speaks, responds, and reacts. “What do you have to do with us?”
I believe, this is just me, the presence of Jesus, of Christ in you is this unbelievable, unmatchable, magnetic power, and attraction. You’ve been in a situation where you’ve met somebody, and you’ve got this connection. You know, you’re talking, and then later on you find, or you see that guy at church, or you see you feel this, I knew that guy was a follower of Jesus. There was something inside of you that says, “He has that same kind of spirit.” Have you ever had that? Am I the only one? You feel that. There is a magnetic quality.
There’s something when you live out the gospel like we were talking about with the A’s and the Giants. When you begin to live out the otherness of the gospel. It’s so countercultural that people begin to see Christ in you, and it is a magnetic draw. That’s what’s happening here. When you see the person, Jesus, in times of tension, in times of trial, in times of joy, ups, downs, highs, and lows, the presence of Jesus in you has power and attraction. Don’t deny that, it is real, kingdom increase is confidently living in the magnetic power and attraction of Christ.
There’s something called a Shalom. Shalom is peace in Hebrew. You are what we call a Shalom bringer, in your city, in your workplace, and in your neighborhoods, as a church. That’s the second thing I see. Here’s the third thing I see is what I call, “an unraveling of mankind.” Unraveling of mankind intentionally happens through the forces of darkness. Again, I’m just walking through this passage verse by verse and saying, “What do I actually see?” The unraveling of mankind intentionally happens through the forces of darkness. Look at verse 11, which says, “A large herd of pigs was feeding in the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, send us among the pigs, allow us to go into them. He gave them permission. The spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about 2000 in number, rushed down the steep embankment and were drowned.”
Now, first I think, “Oh man, that sucks for breakfast, no bacon, right?” That’s the first thing I thought, “Oh man, that really affects the economy.” Then I thought, “Economy, it affects the economy.” See, the demons were asked to leave the man. All I could think of is, their design, as demonic forces, this force of darkness, they have an objective, which is biblical. It says they’re to kill, steal, and destroy. They were working to steal and rob this city through this man that they held hostage. Because at first, “Why don’t they just kill him?” No, this man held that city hostage. They couldn’t deal with it. Jesus sends them out. They said, “We can’t leave the area.” Remember he says that in the passage. In the end, the demon said, “He begged Jesus again and again, not to send them out of the area.” That’s super weird to me. It’s like they had been assigned to terrorize this area to kill, steal, and destroy. If we can’t kill the man, if we can’t hold the city hostage, let us at least affect the economy. Because that’s a herd of pigs. Wherever the Jewish thing is, or whatever else, doesn’t matter. It’s somebody’s economic engine that was just destroyed. I believe that sickness, self-destruction, destruction of our identity, destruction of how we communicate. We’re offending everybody over everything. People being overmedicated. Personal morality is being challenged. Technology that is designed to allow us to communicate better, has imploded on us, making us communicate less. We’re divided, families are broken, gender roles are losing their God-given design. The reality of this story is that demons were on assignment, they had to destroy something.
It’s not just people. When we begin to recognize that in the heavenly, that dark forces are about destroying, and keeping the city from flourishing, that changes our role as a Shalom bringer. Present in your world, there are demonic forces at play in this city, on a grand scale. Their job is literally to unravel mankind, trap people through guilt, fear, shame, and addiction. Our job in Jesus’s name is to rebuke, deliver, restore, and increase, moving people from being in bondage to flourishing in Christ. That’s what I see in that passage.
The fourth thing I see is there are unreasonably misguided assumptions causing people to stay in the status quo. Unreasonably misguided assumptions, causing people to stay in the status quo. This is the interesting part of the story. This is the piece that bugs me most about this story. Here it is in verse 14, “Those tending the pigs ran off, reported this to the town, countryside. People went out to see what had happened. When they came, they saw Jesus and the man who had been possessed by the demons sitting there dressed, and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened about the demon-possessed man, and about the pigs as well.” In verse 17, this is what bugs me. “Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”
What? That doesn’t make any sense? Didn’t he just solve a huge problem for you? It was a massive, massive problem in the city. He just solved it. You’re asking him to leave. Here’s what I want the verse to read. He told them about Jesus, told him about the pigs, all this stuff, and the man in his right mind. All these people came to church, they go to church now. They all came to faith, and they’re in ministry today. That’s how I want the story to read, but that’s not what it does. It’s easier for us to stay in the status quo. I’d much rather stay in the status quo of how things are than acknowledge Jesus actually has the power to change lives. That’s what’s happening in the story, and that’s what’s happening in the city. “I would much rather.” This is the city speaking, “We would much rather stay, and keep where things are than to acknowledge Jesus has power.” That’s what’s happening.
People are stuck, Jesus brings the town from chaos into order, and they ask him to leave. I’m finding that in my world, in Santa Cruz, people are willing to live in the painful reality of where they are, even if they’re wrong. If it means I don’t have to admit that you’re right. It’s better for me to have a demon-possessed, unrestrained, crazy man, running around and terrorizing us, than to admit Jesus has the power. That’s insane to me. The reality of the world we live in is to look at it and say, “How do I recognize that this is what I’m up against?” This is what I love about the last point right here. This is because it connects to that reality. The undeniable message of personal healing and redemption is viral and contagious. Undeniable message of personal healing and redemption is viral and contagious.
Go back to the passage, verse 18. Here’s what happened. The man was getting into the boat and the demon-possessed man begged to go with Jesus. Jesus did not let him. Says, “Go to your hometown, go to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how much mercy He had on you.” I get it. The guy was just healed. This guy that was broken, he’s back together. Who doesn’t want to hang with Jesus? He wants to run with Jesus. But what happens is, he gets sent out. It says in verse 20. “Now the man went away, began to tell in the Decapolis, how much Jesus had done for him. All the people were amazed.”
The Decapolis represents 10 cities, which represents this massive area. All of a sudden personal transformation, and redemption, becomes this viral message of the testimony of Jesus, what Christ has done in your life. I was this yesterday, I am this today. I once was blind, but now I see. I once was lost, now I’m found. That testimony becomes the viral nature of what it means to be “all-in” to take the message of Jesus, and what He’s done for you into your places. And allow that to sit with people that say, “I want hope, joy, contentment, comfort, purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.” As you live into that reality. That’s what this message, this theme is about. As you live into that, it becomes a contagious piece that you can not stop talking about. That becomes the one thing that translates this whole story forward. The irony is, that the city can’t solve its problems by restraining it, but Jesus can by setting it free. He sets it free through His people, living out in the reality of the testimony, of what he’s done in your own life. That’s the message I want to share today.
One last thing. I wanted to leave you with this. I believe I, so Pastor Terry shared, met with pastors all over the bay area from as far north as Santa Rosa and Sonoma county, as far south as Monterey county, and everything in between. It’s 11 counties, 256 cities and towns, and 8 million people. I work with pastoral networks, pastors that lead networks around the city, pastor Terry leads one for San Francisco. We just relaunched a while back. These men, who are leading men, who are leading churches, all of a sudden, we’re seeing God do all this stuff around the bay area.
It’s pretty exciting. What I’m learning as a pastor, seeing all these different churches and that need, they’ve been revving the engine and working on the engine so much, they need to take the car out for a little test drive. You need to open it up on the highway because God has empowered you. It’s in Chronicles 16:9. It says, “The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth, that he may show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely His.”
As churches say, “You know what? The God of the Bible, the strength and the power of God Himself is behind me, as I continue to yield my heart to Him.” What I’m seeing are the church and its people, we’re used to just playing and dabbling in it a little bit. “Yeah, we’ll call it, we’re in faith, and we’re called of God, but you know what? We need to take it out for a test drive.”
On my property in Santa Cruz, Soquel area, I’ve got a big 14-acre property. I’ve got a pool on the property. Here’s a picture of my family. A couple of my kids, some of my grandkids. I’ve got six grandkids. We all lived together, four generations. It’s kind of cool. There are some challenges with that, but it’s pretty cool. So we all live together, and this is us in our pool having a good time. I think one of the things that I teach all my grandkids how to swim. Because this is the component of learning, how to swim, as you’ve all gone through. Where you learn how to hold your breath. You learn how to grab on the side, “I’m in the deep end, what am I going to do? You learn all that in the pool. Because we live just eight minutes from the ocean. We spend a lot of time in the ocean. My son and I surf. We have a good time. I have this vision of all my grandkids surfing with me. Not on the same board. But you get what I’m saying. There’s something about the ocean because the ocean has been moving before I got there, and the ocean will move. When I leave the motion of the ocean is happening, right? There’s stuff going, like waves, currents, and tides. You know, if you’re not paying attention, it’ll knock you out. I just love watching, kook slams on Instagram, people just wasted by the ocean. It’s crazy.
You have to recognize that swimming in the pool is safe, swimming in the ocean, not so safe. Here’s a surfing picture that I want you to see. That’s a real photo. That’s one of many photos of the big waves of the ocean. Think about this guy, what does he say in his mind? I want a little caption to say, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die, this is awesome.” You know, he’s having his moment, right? He’s just having this insane moment because he is partnering with the motion that’s happening in the water. Nothing you’ll do in a pool, similar things like I’m going to hold my breath. Sometimes you have to hold your breath when things like this happen. Things happen when you’re not partnering with the ocean properly. Here’s another example of not partnering with the ocean. That’s not me, so you’re all good. I don’t know if they ever found him. You know, it’s just one of those things, right? If you’re not intentionally partnered with the ocean, it can kill you.
When you are with the motion of God. It’s this thrilling, insane, almost terrifying, God is doing something through me as an individual, in my world for His redemptive purposes. I can’t think of a more insane place that needs that, than San Francisco. We’re God’s people. Those that are journeying to get closer to God say, “I want to be all-in because I want to be on that same ride.” That’s what I’m inviting you today, with “All-In.”
So please just join me in prayer. “Father, thank you for a chance to be with my friends here. Thank you for this church and what it means to the city. What it means to the bay area and what it means to the world. That just, the church represents so many individuals that integrate so many different parts of the bay area. Will you use them as they draw closer to you, to make your kingdom more known and make Jesus more known. In all things. Father, I thank you for the time to be with my friends here. Bless them this week, as they go into their workplaces, and into their life in their journey, that they’d be empowered in the personal work of Christ. We pray. Amen