Are you a fan or a follower?

March 6, 2011 – Eastside Christian Church – Michal Ferber

Luke 9:23

Fan:

Definition: an enthusiastic admirer

addict, admirer, amateur, buff, devotee, follower, groupie, lover, rooter, supporter

Follower:  

Definition:  person who believes

(Same as Fan) addict, admirer, buff, devotee, supporter

(Different than Fan) advocate, apostle, backer, believer, cohort, companion, convert, disciple, helper, imitator, participant, promoter, protégé, pupil, representative, servant, sidekick, worshiper

A follower is more than a fan.

Fan Follower
Shows up when it’s convenient. Seeks every opportunity.
Are excited at the game, and maybe for a while after the game. Builds excitement and maintains that excitement it before, during and after.
May switch sides after a few seasons. Switching sides isn’t an option to a follower.

Some of you have season tickets that you got a while back but you come to the game because you don’t want to waste your money, not because you’re seeking or looking to get anything out of it.

Many of you welcome this kind of talk, because you are ready to move to a different level of commitment. You’re ready to move past the casual and past the convenient into something more devoted, something more committed. So you’re ready for this talk.

Some of you are not, because you kind of like the set-up you have with Jesus. I mean, He is a nice guy and you like church—it gives you something to do on the weekend—and it’s awfully nice that we can chit-chat and gossip with friends while we’re here. You kind of like what you have going, and this idea of being more committed, this idea of taking it to a different level? You get a little anxious. Maybe you even go into the “fight or flight” response. But what we need to do is define our relationship. Where do you stand with Jesus Christ?

Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?

These pews aren’t meant to be filled with fans. And Jesus never cared about having fans.

See, I think we have a tendency to come together once a week and be fans of Jesus. We sit down in our seats and we open up our programs. We applaud at certain times and we leave somehow thinking that, as the fans, it was all done for us. We get in the car and we evaluate the sermon, and we kind of give the service and song selection a thumbs up or thumbs down. And we come back and do it again the next week. And I get the fact that some of you are really big fans. I mean, you’re really into all of this. You know all the songs and you don’t need the page number for the Bible. You know where to turn. You’re pretty fast, and you kind of look around to see how much faster you are than everyone else, keeping your Sword Drill abilities in shape. You’re big fans of Jesus. And being fans feel pretty good. We can feel pretty good about ourselves because we’re these great admirers of Christ, but He never cared about having fans.

So if we’ll be honest with ourselves, if we’ll really search our hearts and begin to define our relationship with Jesus, there are three questions for you to answer. The first is this:

Why Are You Here?

If you read through the Gospels, Jesus, at different points in His ministry, would draw a line in the sand and He would separate the fans from the followers. In John chapter 6, Jesus is in the height of His ministry and we read that large crowds were following Jesus. He was very popular. He was working the miracles. He was providing food from just five loaves of bread and a few fish, and a lot of people were in the crowd following Jesus.

John 6:41-59 Jesus defines what/how to be a follower.

The main reason the crowds were showing up was because of the spectacle. They didn’t care as much about the teaching, about the life changing lesson. They were there for the show. So, why are you here? What is your because? Is it because you like the free food? Is it because you like the chit chat? Is that why you’re here? I mean, that’s great for a while, but at some point let’s define the relationship. Why are you here? In that passage Jesus challenges the fans to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, and in verse 66 here is what we read:

John 6:66 “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

666 – Mark of the beast – God’s telling us something here.

Jesus says, “Let’s define what we’ve got here,” and what He offered isn’t what they wanted.

If you’re coming in more for the miracles, more for the show, more for what Jesus can do for you. You need to check up. He wants there to be a point where you define the relationship. Why are you here? What is your because why? For Jesus, his because is that He wants to have a deep relationship with you.

Are You All In?

Being a follower of Jesus requires complete commitment. A follower of Jesus will do whatever it takes to follow Jesus. They’re absolutely loyal, completely committed.

On the whole, we don’t do too well with absolute commitment, do we? I think that we prefer selective commitment. Simply put, we customize Christianity. Oftentimes, we look at our relationship with Jesus and say, “I’m going to follow Jesus, but I’m going to kind of pick and choose the areas in which I will follow Him.” So you say, “Well, I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t ask me to forgive the person that hurt me. I’m not going to let go of that resentment. I’m not going to let go of that bitterness. I deserve that.” And, “I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t talk to me about my money. I work hard for that money.” “I’ll follow Jesus but don’t tell me to abstain from these sexual desires. I can’t help the fact that I have these desires. Don’t ask me to abstain. I’m a follower of Jesus, but that won’t stop me from getting what I want.” So it’s this customized Christianity that says, “Well, I follow Jesus, but only in the areas that are comfortable, only in the areas that I agree with. I’m a Christian but I’m not all in.” Well, then you’re not a Christian. You’re just a fan. There is not an option of selective commitment. It’s not a possibility. There is no bargaining, no bartering, and no finagling.

When you decide to become a follower of Christ, you’ve got to go all in. And fans, they don’t like the idea of going all in. They’re not wild about having to make sacrifices, or about having to deny themselves of something they desire or crave. But if you’ve answered why you’re here, then it will be pretty easy to figure out if you’re all in. If you aren’t here for the right reasons, chances are you won’t be willing to go all in.

Have You Made It Your Own?

Many of us started going to church because of a parent. Mom made you. Dad said you had to. There wasn’t an option. Or maybe you started coming because of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a spouse. You came because they like it when you come. You came because it appeases them. For those of us who grew up in the church, or who attend church in order to appease a significant other or relative, it can be really easy to become a fan.

We keep coming to appease someone else, and pretty soon we get into the flow of things. We know most of the songs, and we even recognize the stories or the teachings, and we’re kind of fans of Jesus. But that can be the most dangerous situation to be in. If your faith isn’t your own, if you aren’t pursuing a relationship with Jesus, and you keep coming week after week and begin to create a “faith” that was someone else’s in the first place, you’re just numbing yourself to the real thing. You’ll become numb to real faith, comfortable with a few songs and a few favorite verses, none of which requires any sacrifice or personal change.

You have to make your faith your own. He’s not looking for a relationship between you, your wife, and Him. He’s looking for a relationship with you. That may be one of the reasons Jesus said these words in

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

This is not about your spouse. This is about you and Jesus.

So begin to search your heart and ask, “Are you a follower of Jesus, or are you a just a fan?”

Your Testimony

January 23, 2011 – Eastside Christian Church – Michal Ferber

Ephesians 1:3-14

  • Excuses – Mines not good enough, I wasn’t a bad person.
    • We have all sinned – So everyone’s testimony would be the same if it was about you.
  • It’s not about what you’ve done. – It’s about what he has and is doing in you.
  • Reference “The Purpose Driven Life” – The first sentence of the book reads, “It’s not about you,
  • Your Salvation changes your life; it’s the most precious present you will receive.
    • Why don’t we start the story here?
    • Your sins were why Jesus came to earth. So he could nail them to the cross.

Colossians 2

14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

  • Your testimony is an unfinished book.
    • For some it was just started.
    • For some it started long ago but nothing much has been written down.

Colossians 1

16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Definition of preeminence: the quality or state of being preeminent: superiority

  • Your testimony begins with your Salvation.
    • That’s when you allowed/invited Jesus to be your Lord, your Savior and the ruler of your Life.
    • That’s when you let God take over and allowed Him to use you for His good works.
    • We say a sinner’s prayer and then that’s it;
      • stop communicating; stop the dialog.

Definition of dialog: A conversation between two or more people.

 Ephesians 2

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

  • 2:1 – He made alive – He is a Living God
  • 2:8 – Not of yourselves – It’s not about you.
  • 2:10 – Created in Christ Jesus for good works. – He has a plan for your life
  • What are some more gifts he has given us?
  • Adoption

Galatians 4

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

  • We now have a Heavenly Daddy to communicate with/have a dialog
  • His Holy Spirit

Hebrews 6

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,

  • His Armor – Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

  • Spiritual gifts for some – 1 Corinthians 12
    • He has equipped you for a mighty testimony.
  • Thoughts to ponder
    • What are you doing to allow God to work in your life?
    • Is he living in you and at work in your life?
    • Think about what your testimony could be next week, month, year?

THE ROOM by Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked”. I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed”. The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read”, “Lies I Have Told”, “Comfort I Have Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed At”. Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I Have muttered Under My Breath at My Parents”. I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 16 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self- pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With”.

The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.

He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

By Rush Limbaugh – March 11, 2002

Love him or loathe him, he nailed this one right on the head…

By Rush Limbaugh:

I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don’t criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can’t let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the
entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you’re going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million.

If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there’s a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it’s not enough. Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF US, and they and their families know the dangers.

We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well.

You see where this is going, don’t you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It’s just really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense?

However, our own U.S. Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you don’t know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to being millionaires plus. They do not receive Social Security on retirement because they didn’t have to pay into the system.

If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who placed them in harm’s way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.

I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our sons and daughters who are now fighting.

“When do we finally do something about this?” If this doesn’t seem fair to you, it is time to forward this to as many people as you can.