Below is the written transcript of Rob’s message from Thursday, May 17, 2012…
A few years ago I started coming to FUSE. What I didn’t know when I first got here was that there was this guy who used to be a student at FUSE who had graduated and moved on to be an adult leader. When I arrived here he was off in India doing missions work. I heard Blake talk about him and he announced to everyone that he was keeping a blog of his travels. I read a couple entries and thought I had a pretty good idea of who this person was. He seemed cool, but probably too ‘Christian’ for my liking. I hadn’t even seen a picture of the guy, but I had already managed to decide whether or not I would like him.
Then he came back to FUSE one night and I got to meet Mike DeVore face to face. In an instant my opinion changed and I knew that this kid and I were going to be friends.
Tonight, I want to talk about friendship; about relationships, really.
When I was a sophomore in high school there was a girl in my geometry class who was a senior. We were all sitting around talking one day and she said something I never forgot. She said that when you are in 10th grade you meet and make your group of friends. When you are in 11th grade you hang out with that group all the time. But, by the time you are a senior, you are lucky if you have one or two really good friends.
Now, this was coming from a girl who was a senior, in a sophomore geometry class. It wasn’t gifted, or even honors; just a regular old basic geometry class. My first instinct was to write it off. What did this girl know about how my high school life was going to go? In my head, I figured that you just kept meeting new people in high school and so by your senior year you had the most friends you’d ever had in your whole life. This came from me, the 10th grader who just started in a public high school after 4 years in private school. I walked into high school knowing maybe 5 people, and most of those were because my brother had graduated from that school the year before.
As it turns out, that girl was right. I met a bunch of new people in 10th grade, and they all happened to know each other. Eleventh grade was awesome. We had a great group. We hung out all the time. We had our designated spot where we all met up after school, and we all parked around the same area so we could hang out in the parking lot. We knew each other’s families. We had car wash parties, and went jet skiing together. We T.P.-ed houses together, and snuck on golf courses late at night together. We went to parks on weekends to play football, or Frisbee, or whatever. We did all kinds of stuff. And then something happened.
A couple guys found girlfriends outside the group. A couple girls found boyfriends outside the group. A few people from the group started dating each other. Most of my senior year was spent with 2-3 people who I considered actual friends. By the time I graduated, I couldn’t stand to be around most of the people in that group.
What that experience taught, at the time, was that friends come and go. Relationships, many times, are temporary, which is true, but living life this way can also hurt relationships. If you can find those few people on this earth that you can spend year after year in fellowship with, then hold on to those people tightly.
Let’s talk about Mike some more.
If any of you have had the opportunity to spend any time with Mike you know that he is a little different. He has a different perspective on life, and the world, than most ‘normal’ people. He doesn’t respond to questions or comments like you would assume most people would. You know he has a huge heart for God. And you know that he is one of the smartest people you will ever meet.
And these are just some of the reasons why I like being around him.
I went to Mike a couple weeks ago to try to brainstorm ideas for what to talk about tonight. He asked me some questions that got me thinking in the right direction. We discussed a few ideas and it was clear that regardless of the ‘topic’ I chose, it was all going to come back to Jesus dying for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God..
As we were texting back and forth I was thinking about relationships. I was thinking about how God is in constant pursuit of a relationship with you and me because he loves us so much. I wanted to give you some idea of how God does this. I wanted to show you, specifically, how God is pursuing you. But I can’t, as Mike reminded me, because I’m not God. His pursuit of a relationship with you is unique to you. That’s how special you are to him. So, I kept walking, and thinking about all the things Mike had said in our texts. And then I started thinking about my friendship with Mike.
While Mike and I hit it off pretty quickly, it took some time to really get to know each other. In fact, we are still in the process of getting to know one another. But, because Mike is different than most people I have met (which is one of the reasons I like him so much), it took some time to ‘learn Mike.’
I could have gone off my original assumption of Mike and carried on with my life. But instead, I chose to learn about who he is, about what he has done, what he likes, what he dislikes, what he loves, and what he hates. I’ve learned his strengths, and his weaknesses. And, through all this I have come to know him, and to appreciate him for who he is. If I would have stuck with my original assumption about who Mike is, then I would have missed out on finding someone who has become a brother to me.
Likewise, I could have picked up a Bible and read a few pages in Deuteronomy and decided that this God guy was too strict. He asked too much of people. There were too many rules. It was too closed minded. It wasn’t for me. And, if that were my only exposure to who God is, then I would have completely missed the point. So just as we learn each other, we must also learn God. Fortunately, regardless of if you know God or not, you are still in a closer relationship with him than you are with most of your friends.
Why? Because God learned you already. In fact, he designed you to be just the way you are.
Genesis 2:7 (NLT)
7 Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
He knows every hair on your head. He knows everything you have ever done right in your life, and he knows every single mistake you have ever made. He knows every thought you have ever had. He knows your fears, your strengths; everything.
Psalm 139:1-17 (NLT)
1 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
He knows you pretty well.
And you know him a little bit too. You can feel him. Sometimes you hear him. Deep down, you know that he is out there somewhere.
Romans 2:14-15 (NLT)
14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
That’s why you are here, right? Because you know, in your heart, there is something about this God guy. There is something you need from him, but maybe you just can’t quite figure it out. And that’s ok. God is cool with that. He’s just excited you are seeking him out. When you seek God, you find God. So if you are here tonight and you feel like you know him, but you want to know him better, then you are in the right place. And if you are here tonight because you don’t know him, but you want to, then you too are in the right place. Or maybe you don’t want to believe in him, but you have this nagging feeling that he is there; you’re in the right place. And maybe you knew him, but you feel like he screwed you over somehow. He dealt you a crappy hand in life and you are pissed off at him. Guess what? You’re in the right place too.
By the way. Regardless of how much you think you might have pissed him off in your life, you’re wrong. He still loves you. He still wants to be with you. He sees you as his perfect creation.
We are all seeking truth in our lives. We want to know that our life means something. Sometimes we feel worthless. Sometimes we feel like we can do nothing but mess up everything in our lives. We are useless. We are failures. We are phonies. But then there’s that little tiny, distant voice in the back of our heads saying that there must be more to life than this. “I’m meant for more than this. My life should mean something. There is something greater out there for me.” We are seeking truth. We want that vision of something better, something greater, or just something different.
When you seek truth, as you all are. It will lead you to Jesus. Because Jesus is truth.
John 14:6-7 (NLT)
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit are one truth. And the truth is that God designed us in his image and wants to love us, and wants us to choose to love him. He is truth. He never changes. He never gives up on you. He will always forgive you – He has forgiven you. He has forgiven you for every wrong you have ever done and every wrong you will ever do. He will always accept you. He will always love you. That’s the truth!
Why is he so hard to find of some of us?
Because there is this thing called sin. And there is this guy called the Devil who Blake talked about a couple weeks ago. And the Devil hates you. And he wants to keep you from having a relationship with God.
Isaiah 59:1-2 (NLT)
1 Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.
When we sin, we push god away.
Satan will do whatever he can to ruin your relationship with God. Many times, he will do this by trying to ruin your relationship with the people around you. He will attack your relationship with your parents, your best friend, your boyfriend or girlfriend. He will do whatever he can to make sure you suck at relationships so that when you try to have one with God, it fails too. (And if you are wondering – yes. He tried to attack my friendship with Mike too.)
Satan has taken the time to learn you, but not out of love. He has learned you out of hate. He knows how to manipulate you. He knows what lies you will believe. He knows just what buttons to push to make you think you are stuck in the life you have always had, and that there is nothing you can do to change your fear, your pain, your misery, or your depression. He knows how to keep you down, to keep you from the truth that God is right there for you; that God can be the strength you need to overcome Satan. He cannot control you, but he can lie to you. He can plant ideas in your mind. That’s called temptation. And it is up to you to choose what to do after that. When you follow Satan, you give him strength. When you deny him, you take that strength away.
Satan cannot keep you from God. He can damage your relationship with God, but he can’t severe it completely. All you have to do is believe the truth. When you believe that God has healed you — when you believe that he died for you so you could have a relationship with him for all eternity; when you live your life the way God designed — then you are protected from Satan. You put on the armor of God. And, you go boldly into battle. That’s what you get when you accept God’s love. That’s what you get when you give God your love.
Romans 8:35, 37-38 (NLT)
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
You can hit the reset button on your relationship with God tonight. You can kick Satan in the face and tell him to go somewhere else. You’ve got God in your corner and there is nothing the enemy can do to beat him. The battle for your soul was already fought, and won. All you have to do is to accept the truth and live your life knowing that your God, the one true God, is victorious; now, and forever.
I’m not going to ask you to stand up, or raise your hand or anything like that. I want you to sit there with your eyes closed and think. I want you to listen to your heart; get passed all the stress from your life, the text messages that are waiting for you, and the facebook status updates. Forget about the homework you have waiting for you at home, or that thing with your parents that you are going to have to deal with. Forget about your boyfriend, or girlfriend, or that person you like that is sitting in here tonight who you want to talk to. This moment is between you and God. Clear your mind and answer these two questions. Do you want to have a relationship with your creator, God? And, are you honestly willing to take the time to seek the truth and learn God?
If you answered yes, then I want you to pray this prayer in your head. And, take the time when we are done tonight to talk to Blake, or myself, or one of the other leaders with whom you have built a relationship.
Lord, thank you for this day. Thank for this opportunity to hear the message you have for us. Please forgive me of my sins. Wipe me clean so that you may hear my prayer.
I come to you today, confessing that I am lost – that I have ignored your call, run from your embrace, and hidden myself from you through my sins. Help me to know you Lord. I choose today to begin a new relationship with you, to seek you, and to trust in your will for my life. Help me to give up my old ways of thinking, to ignore the lies that Satan would use to keep us apart, and to overcome my fears and doubts.
Lord, you promise that everyone who calls on your name will be saved, and I am calling. And, whoever confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their hear that you raised him from the dead will be saved, and I believe.
Today I choose you because you love me. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for humbling yourself, coming down to this earth, and dying for me so that I can spend eternity with you.
From today, forward I ask that you guide me to a closer relationship with you. And I commit to putting by faith, and my trust in you, and only you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.