Jesus expects his disciples to think different. Jesus was saying, Okay. They think their way. Who do you say I am? If I’m going to use you to change things I need you to think different. Do you think like the people in the past, or do you think different about what God wants to do?
By Pastor Delbert Young
Scriptures: Matthew 16:13-14, Matthew 16:15, Matthew 16:16-18, Luke 5:37-39, John 13:1, 2 Timothy 4:6
Are you a crazy one, a misfit, a rebel, a troublemaker? Are you a round peg in a square hole? Do you see things differently? Do you not follow the rules and have no respect for the status quo? Are you difficult to ignore? Have you changed things?
Do you think different and like it because you do? How crazy are you? If you are crazy enough to think you can change something, you probably do. Do you think different? I want my life to help change something in this world. It could be a lot, or it could be a little. I’ve always wanted my life to mean something and it has. I’ve given my life to something exceptional. I’ve gotten to do something few have done successfully.
I would have to say if anything set me apart and made me different it’s I think different than most preachers. There was a time we thought very different around here. And, you know what? We did change things. It’s time to do it again. It’s time for you to think different.
I love what Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason, so few engage in it.”(2) Will you engage with me for the next few minutes in thinking different? If you want a church capable of changing lives and matter, you must think different. You’ve already got a leg up. Your attending Life Gate already says you’re willing to think different.
What do you think? Was Jesus a “think different” kind of person? He was, and he wants you and me to think different. He can build something amazing if you think different.
Matthew 16:13-14 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Jesus asked what people were saying, what people were thinking about him. People were thinking in the past – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the past prophets. They were thinking about what God had done, not what God wanted to do. Then Jesus asked his disciples another question.
Matthew 16:15 “BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU?” HE ASKED. “WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?“
Jesus expects his disciples to think different. Jesus was saying, “Okay. They think their way. What do you think? If I’m going to use you to change things I need you to think different. Who do you say I am? Do you think like everyone else in the past, or do you think different and about what God wants to do?”
Matthew 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Father God can reveal things to people who think different. Jesus was already thinking progressive and different about worship and “church.” He was thinking something new as in New Testament new. He was thinking in the future, but what he was thinking would require people who could and would think different. Peter was one of those people. Peter was a progressive thinker able to think different. Peter wasn’t thinking in the past – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. Peter was thinking “out there.” Can you imagine how what Peter said sounded when he said it? It had never been said or thought before. Peter was a crazy one.
Jesus said, “Peter, I like how you think. I can build something eternal upon your thinking. I can build something hell itself cannot stop. If you allow me to build on you, I will give you special authority and privileges. I’ll give you keys to the kingdom. You can bind, and you can loose.”
It’s always been my desire to be someone Jesus could build a church upon capable of outliving me. I believe you are this way too. Certainly you want to be a member and part of a church remaining after you’re gone. I’ve always said if we were not going to be different and attempt to do something great then we needed to shut this down and connect with a church being different and doing something great. I still say this.
So, what would a church greater than anything we’ve yet experienced look like today? What would attending it be like today? How would the greatest most different thinking church this area has seen look? I can tell you one thing. It won’t look like the past.
Was anything wrong with the past? Was anything wrong with John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or any of the prophets? No, but the past is not what God is doing today. I think back about Life Gate Church. When we came to town God was doing something new, and he used me/us to do it. Did you know we were the first successful non-denominational charismatic type church in our area? Others tried, but with no real success and vision. We were the first to focus our praise and worship the way the Bible teaches with singing choruses, playing all types of instruments, dancing before the Lord, etc. It’s popular today in every church, but it wasn’t when we began, and our thinking greatly criticized. They criticized because we’ve never used hymnals, we have a live band, clap, shouted, and danced. We had a dance team. Talk about being criticized! The rumor got out we had naked dancers on the stage. I said, “Really! If true, there would be men from surrounding states lined up to get in!” I’d get voice messages accusing us of singing “that devil music.” Today, nearly every church has live band type praise and worship even if they have to put it in their basements. Several churches began dance ministries. Our daughter even went to a “first church” in town and taught them dance. Judy began an Easter Drama called “Arise My Love.” It was a Broadway type performance unlike anything ever done around here. We were out there. I thought different. We thought different. I thought progressive, and Jesus was building something progressive.
We were the first to use projectors and screens to help us not only with praise and worship but with teaching and television. “What? You read the Bible on a screen?” Again, it’s common today, but it wasn’t when I began it. “They took out the cross and put in big screens!” We didn’t take the cross out. We have a huge cross in here, but instead of one cross, I can show you five crosses at the same time. I was progressive. I could and did think different. We thought different.
We were the first to challenge traditional teachings and false doctrines concerning the kingdom of God in our area. We declared Jesus was King now, and his kingdom has come. I remember a float we put into a Christmas parade depicting “He’s not a baby anymore.” Someone told me, “I will never forget how you helped me take Jesus out of the manger, off the cross, out of the tomb, and put him on the throne.” We think of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of Lords… NOW! Isn’t this who he is? We did another float called, “Joy to the World THE LORD HAS COME.” Talk about persecution about our kingdom message, we got it! Still do. I think different. I’m sort of out there, but Jesus built something hell couldn’t stop for thirty years. The leadership gave Judy and me a thirty-year appreciation dinner. They all went around and talked about memories. One person said, “You taught us how to live.” I pray we were an example in life, but I think what I’ve done is teach you to think different.
However, it’s time now to realize something. What got us here won’t get you there. What got us here was good and even great, but I pray you want to go “there.” Jesus doesn’t want you to go back to John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or even Delbert and Judy. If you do, you will find he’s not with you the way you want him with you. Jesus is going on.
Today isn’t only a time of transition of Life Gate leadership and my and Judy’s retiring. It’s a transition time in church. It was thirty years ago when Judy and I came. It is again a transition time as Judy and I retire. God is doing something new, but to experience it you will need to think different.
Luke 5:37-39 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine WILL BURST THE SKINS, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine MUST BE POURED INTO NEW WINESKINS. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘THE OLD IS BETTER.'”
Notice the danger of experiencing the new isn’t only bursting the old skins. It’s also saying and thinking the old is better. I never thought I’d need to warn this church to beware thinking the old is better. The old isn’t better according to Jesus. It’s just old, and our taste is accustomed to it. You will never get to drink the new if all you drink is the old.
There is a flip side to the “new” coin. Just as important as knowing what “to do new” is, knowing what “to stop doing old.” I talk to a lot of people about why their lives never get better. Often people don’t need to learn something new to start doing. They need to learn what to stop doing, i.e. stop spending too much money, stop being lazy, stop drinking so much, stop doing drugs, stop eating so much, etc. Over the thirty years we began doing many things, but we also stopped doing many things. It’s when we stop doing something old we make way to start doing something new, but we often have such a taste for the old we can’t start enjoying the new. Thinking different includes asking which do I want to experience?
We are leaving you a completely debt-free facility. This building is one of the nicest buildings in this town. It is one of the most modern and innovative churches in town. God has allowed us and used us to touch so many lives. Anyone attending here to do church for any length of time was touched by God and learned to think different. Their lives changed. Their family changed. Their children changed. Their finances changed. Their praise and worship changed. They’ve likely understood more about the Bible than they ever did. There have been many who came to the Lord Jesus Christ. There have been many baptisms. There have been many filled with the Spirit, to speak in tongues, and to move in the gifts of the Spirit. I have gotten to officiate many marriages. There have been more baby dedications than I can remember. There have been too many funerals of dear, dear sweet saints. I have some of the most precious memories anyone could ask to have. I have some of the most precious friendships.
Judy and I went to her doctor’s appointment last Thursday. She hasn’t needed to in six months. Judy, as always with doctor appointments, was stressed. After blood extraction, waiting rooms, blood pressure, and temperature, etc. the doctor came in. After saying hello, his first words to Judy were basically “You are healed. Your kidneys are functioning perfectly normal. We both, as much as we could in public, expressed our happiness. She cried! It was a miracle. Within one year, she went from “You need special treatment to keep you alive,” to “You are healed, and I’ll see you if you ever need me again.” Coming home Judy said, “I’m going to miss the covenant we have here.” The thing Judy remembers when she was so sick is wanting to get back into this room where people believed and where she experienced covenant. We will move to a new location, but we won’t have there what we’ve had here with you. My point is you have covenant here. Perhaps you’ve come recently. I want to tell you. There is covenant at Life Gate.
John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
Jesus served his disciples by disrobing and washing their feet. I’m not planning on leaving this world yet, but I feel we have served you. Judy and I have disrobed ourselves many times in an attempt to serve you. Like Paul, it’s been a true honor to be poured out like a drink offering. However, the time has come for our departure. We love you. We love Life Gate Church and we always will.
I will end with reading an email from Judy. She proofs my notes I give you and often tells me I shouldn’t say certain things. After reading my notes last night she wrote me this:
“gonna be hard… There’s been things I’ve regretted, but never pastoring Life Gate….never …never regretted aching from finishing sheetrock or making costumes and props for dramas or cleaning bathrooms…this is where I learned to trust God and this is where I learned to hear His voice…this is the place God proved his faithfulness to me ……I love these people with all my heart…” This says it all.
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