FC TRUE FELLOWSHIP STORIES
April 1, 2001
A lot of statements that are made during our lifetime are pretty significant. They are packed with some serious stuff. I am going to play a game right now and I want you to play along. It’s called “Know Your Significant Statements.” Here’s how we play. I am going to read several impactful statements, give you a multiple choice, and in your mind you pick the person, you match the person with the significant statement. Are you ready? I can tell you are. Let’s do the first one, kind of a starter, and then we will get serious. Here we go.
“I have a dream.” Who made that statement?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Boy you are smart. That’s great, “b,” that’s the answer. Now it is going to get serious.
“Let’s win one for the Gipper.” That was made by either,
If you guessed “c,” you got it, Newt Rockney. You guys are on a roll, man. Here is another one.
“Say you want a revolution.” Who made that statement?
Stone Cold, Steve Austin
If you are thinking “c,” you got it, John Lennon. Here is another one.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
That was made by either,
Sasquatch, Big Foot
I think Sasquatch made that statement, didn’t he? No, that was Neil Armstrong, “b.” Let’s do the final one. I can tell you love this. You are probably saying, “Ed, I wish you had about 25 more.” One more.
“I am not a crook.”
All of the above
It’s “a,” Richard Millhouse Nixon. That’s right, he made it. No cards, letters or emails, please, we were just joking around.
Significant statements are packed with some serious stuff. I think we can all scroll back through our lives and remember those impactful statements that really marked us. For example, “Will you marry me?” For many here, that was a significant statement. Or maybe a statement like this, “It’s your father. He has had a heart attack.” Or maybe a statement like, “I’m proud of you, son, for who you are.” Or, “It’s a boy!” Or, “It’s a girl!” Significant statements.
Over the last couple of days, I had the privilege of talking to a young couple who made some very significant statements about their lives as well. Watch this:
(Video of Darryl and Sharlene Sydor)
Sharlene: We met in high school. We were sixteen. Darryl came to play hockey in the city where I am from and we met during high school.
Ed: Now what about Darryl, Sharlene? Why were you attracted to this guy?
Darryl: She wasn’t.
Sharlene: I wasn’t at first, actually.
Darryl: It took a lot of hard work on my part.
Ed: Oh, really? Okay.
Sharlene: Well, he was a hockey player and, at the time, I didn’t want to have anything to do with a hockey player, so I was kind of keeping my distance. But once I gave him a chance, I got to know him.
Ed: You guys, okay, you have been married how many years now?
Darryl: It’s going on six years. Yes, six in July.
Ed: Now tell me about your children.
Sharlene: They were born December 30, 1999. They came seven weeks early but they did all right.
Darryl: That’s kind of, obviously, when Sharlene, when we got pregnant, we wanted guidance for our children. I grew up in a Catholic background, Catholic schooling and I went to the Catholic church quite a bit. But when I started playing hockey, I started getting more busy and I kind of grew away from that. Then probably from the age of thirteen or so, I kind of didn’t go except if it was maybe Christmas time or special occasions, until just over a year ago.
Sharlene: A close friend of ours told me about Fellowship and her teenage boys loved it. It peaked my interest to see a church that teenage boys love to go to. I waited until he was in town. He travels on the road a lot. The first Sunday he was in town, we came to check out Fellowship and we walked up and it doesn’t look anything like a church on the outside. So we were kind of in awe. We got inside and it was a huge auditorium and we were just kind of in shock.
Darryl: We walked in and we heard the drumsticks going together and all of a sudden the curtains open, and U2 starts playing and it was kind of a…we both looked at each other kind of stunned. It was like, “Are we in the right place or what?” The message that came across after that was easy to understand and it was a good way to come across. It was very enjoyable.
Sharlene: I think that message was totally applicable to you. I know you hear a lot of people saying that, it was like speaking right to us. I think you were asking the people how you get to heaven. I remember sitting there and not knowing the answer, like I didn’t know in my head what the right answer was. I kind of panicking thinking I don’t know. I was watching the video when you asked a lot of the people what it took to get to heaven and they would say just to be good people.
We were good people, but being in church that day, and hearing the message, we realized that it takes more, that being good people is just not good enough. You went on to give the message and it was great. It was touching and you asked anybody to pray the prayer and ask Jesus Christ into their life and we both prayed the prayer. Then you said that you were going to do something that you didn’t normally do and ask whoever prayed the prayer to come forward and make their decision public.
Darryl: She was probably wondering what I was going to say and it was just a matter of something came over me and took action, took control of me. I just turned and said, “Would you like to go down there?” It was just a great feeling. I can say from that day forward, it has been great.
Sharlene: The best decision we ever made.
Ed: How have your lives changed since you made that commitment to Christ?
Sharlene: Just everything, day to day, your life is just better.
Darryl: I think there is a comfort. There is a comfort knowing that you have a relationship with somebody that is very very powerful. I always thank him for being our leader in our journey for the rest of our lives, that we are very excited to be in. Before every game, I pray a prayer. I always thank him for what he has done for my family and thank him for looking over my teammates for that game and to get us through it and be our leader, our guide that we can always go to.
Sharlene: We feel like we are still new in this journey and we are just learning everything. But the next step, we want to get baptized.
Darryl: Obviously, there are many steps. I have been baptized, and I would like to get re-baptized.
Sharlene: You want everybody to have what you have. Some people may take it that you are trying to force it or push it, but you just want everyone to have that feeling, just to have what you have.
Kerri Nelson: Darryl and Sharlene had been coming to Fellowship for some time and had expressed to me that they really enjoyed it. I was at the time going to a Catholic church closer to where I lived and I just wasn’t getting what I needed out of that. I felt alone and needed something different. So Sharlene invited me one time to come out to Fellowship and I did, and I have been coming here ever since. You had just said at the end of one of the messages about asking God to come into your life and to pray that prayer, and I just felt that something needed to change in my life. I wasn’t moving forward and I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live.
I made the decision at that point to pray that and to ask the Lord to come into my life and it’s made a huge difference. I have them to thank for that and in general for being just great people to hang around with. I feel very fortunate to have them in my life. I think we have grown as friends together in our journey and become more active in the church as Christians. I think we both talked about moving forward to become baptized and becoming more involved in some of the activities here at the church. It’s always nice when you have someone you can share that with.
Mike Modano: We seem like our relationship has grown stronger and stronger since he has been here. We have a lot of things in common. We enjoy traveling to a lot of the same places in the off season so he has been a good friend and we have been able to share a lot of things as we go through, on and off the ice. You just seem attracted to them because they are easy going, they are fun. They are very spontaneous as a couple and you just seem to have a lot of fun with whatever we are doing with them.
We have attended a few of the churches in Dallas and he has been talking about it for a long time. Every morning he comes in and explains what’s going on. So we decided to come out and see what it is all about. Just from the first time we stepped into the building, we just seemed to be attracted to it. We couldn’t wait for the next week and the next week. We just seem like we got so much out of the sermons and the explanations of the Bible and stuff that we could apply to our everyday life.
Ed: Would you mind telling about the decision you made recently in your life, if you wouldn’t mind saying that.
Mike: Well, I actually watched the sermon on the computer the other day and I got the point that you brought across with Mrs. Phillips. I knew that was, I think that was, me you were talking about.
Ed: It was.
Mike: Darryl mentioned that to me too. But it was just a feeling that, you know what, I knew exactly how Mrs. Phillips felt. Sometimes when you have a lot of success and things go well with you financially, you still seem like you are missing something. I still felt I was and, with that decision, hopefully things will get better and I will feel that I am getting a lot more out of my life.
Ed: Darryl, what is it like doing what you do professionally, as far as from a stress and anxiety standpoint, just on you personally?
Darryl: Well, it’s very stressful. We been through some very stressful and pressure situations of late with a winning team. I will never forget the year that we won the Stanley Cup. We went six periods to finally win it. We went until one o’clock in the morning, we were playing, and we’ve played two games. I think everybody was doing a lot of praying then, trying to get it over with. But that there is probably the biggest stress or pressure that I have ever had.
Doug Armstrong: Darryl is one of the most competitive players on our team. He loves to win. He loves to compete. He is a team player first and that is sort of what we have tried to build our organization around, people like Darryl, who always put the team ahead of their own personal goals. That is his greatest asset. He is a very skilled hockey player, that is his trait. He is an offensive player, plays on our power play unit.
Darryl: I was nineteen years old for a half a year there.
Ed: You are talking about the NHL?
Ed: You were nineteen playing hockey professionally.
Darryl: Thrown in playing with older people. It took a year. I didn’t really know how to deal with stress. The way I dealt with stress is I fell into an eating disorder habit. And now that you think about how we are involved with Christ, if we were involved then, where would I have gone? Now that I have faith in Christ and something that we can deal with stressful things, you just can only think of what it would have been like years ago.
Timm Matthews: We met them through some other friends of ours that play on the Stars. From the very beginning, they were very nice and friendly. Most professional athletes are kind of like everybody else, but some of them put on airs. But they never did. They are always just down to earth. Unless you knew hockey or you knew him, you would have no idea that he does what he does. Mostly, he is a smart player. I think above everything else, he’s not the biggest or fastest or strongest or any of those kinds of things that makes a great hockey player or great athlete, but he is very smart. He doesn’t make many mistakes at all. He is very team oriented. So he is not focused on himself.
Meshea Matthews: When Mike was pressed into the boards and it looked like a definite neck injury at the very least, game was over and it couldn’t have been more than a half hour, and Darryl and Shar were right up there.
Timm: The thing with Darryl is that he literally is sitting there in his suit, and his tie is kind of off like this and kind of cock-eyed and he just looked like he got the tar beat out of him. Darryl had a cut on his lip, his eye was all swollen, and he was black and blue.
Meshea: Yeah, he couldn’t see out of the eye.
Timm: It was just brutal, and what Meshea is saying is to think that he would be thinking of anybody other than himself at that point…
Meshea: We kind of promoted for them to come out this way and we kept kind of putting the bug in their ear because they would say, “Yeah, we are kind of looking for a church.” And every time they would say they were looking, we would say, “Fellowship. It’s right up there on 121, and you guys should just go up there and try it out. See if you like it.” They kind of came as a group the first time to check things out, then really liked it and it developed from there.
Timm: There was a game about two weeks ago and the Stars played on a Friday night. Darryl catches a blade in the face and it gets him right here, gashes his face, cuts nerves and everything and has to leave the game. That was a Friday night. Saturday, we come here to service and there is Darryl and Shar. He can’t feel his whole face and he says he won’t for several weeks, maybe even a few months because of the nerve damage, yet there he is at church. The next day on Sunday afternoon, they had another game. So it kind of shows you how not only dedicated he is to the sport, but that he knew, “I’m still going to be at church. I mean, it’s Saturday and I have got to go to church.” If he was a baseball player, just to relate to sports, he would be out for six weeks. If he was a sportscaster, he would be out for the next six months.
Ed: That’s hilarious.
Timm: And there he is the next day, can’t even really talk, wondering if he’s drooling, is everything all right? I’m like, “You’re okay. Nothing is coming out.” But he had no feeling, twenty-five stitches and there he was at church. You know, hockey lasts ten years if you’re lucky, fifteen if you are really lucky, but your relationship with Christ and your family last your whole life.
Darryl: You know the life that we live is a very fast life. We do a lot of traveling, myself anyway. We come and go and we’re away from our family but you can get caught up in a lot of things. I think it really keeps us grounded, to stay at home and understand the basics of life and the importance of life.
Sharlene: Yeah, to keep things in perspective.
Darryl: People might think that pro athletes are a lot different, but everybody is the same. It’s just a matter of what you want to do with it and, obviously, it keeps us grounded. It keeps us real.
Use your imagination with me just for a second. What if the most powerful people in hockey gathered together in Toronto for a series of clandestine meetings. I am talking about owners, coaches and former superstars. What if these men decided that the Hall of Fame, for example, is hopelessly outdated. What if they said, “Too many people are getting in. What’s so big about having your jersey retired in some dingy case in Canada? What if, through a series of discussions, they decided to form a new honoring system in hockey? What if they called this system, “The Hall of Perfection.”? What if they said, “You know, to get into the Hall of Fame, you don’t really get anything, but the Hall of Perfection, let’s make that good.”
So, let’s say this group said to get into the Hall of Perfection, right up front, if you make it, you get fifty million in cash, (that’s pretty good), unlimited endorsement opportunities, and also a thirty foot bronze statue of you in action. That’s what happens if you hit this Hall of Perfection. So, we are still thinking hypothetically now using our imagination, this group holds a big honkin’ press conference in Toronto. Everybody is there to check out what they are going to say.
As they announce their intentions about the Hall of Perfection, the press say they can’t believe it. They are hammering away on their laptops. They are scribbling notes. Flashbulbs are popping. Minicams are rolling. Then they begin to ask questions. Maybe Dan Patrick, for example, from ESPN, goes, “I want to ask you a question. This is great that you have this Hall of Perfection, but what do you have to do to get in?”
Let’s say, for example, that Wayne Gretzsky was a member of this elite board, because he was a decent hockey player. Let’s say Gretzsky looks down at some notes and he goes, in his smooth Canadian accent, “There are two requirements to make it into the Hall of Perfection. Number one, you have got to play penalty free hockey, no slashing, no high sticking, and no fighting. That’s the first requirement. The second requirement is you have got to score every time you shoot. Every single time. Furthermore, you cannot make one mistake on the ice, no errant shots, nothing.” Then Dan Patrick would say, “Now, wait a minute. Are you talking about, Wayne, the great one, perfect hockey? If you play perfect hockey, you can get into the Hall of Perfection?” Gretzsky and the board would go, “Yeah.”
A couple of days ago, I asked Mike Modano about playing perfect hockey and here is what he said:
Ed: Okay, Mike. Have you ever played a flawless game, a perfect game?
Ed: In all your career.
Mike: They are very few and far between. I don’t think anybody can be perfect out there. It’s a game of mistakes and it’s just the team who can make the least amount of mistakes wind up winning.
Ed: Mike, I know you are obviously one of the best players in hockey. I don’t know anything about hockey, but I do know that. I know too that there is this hockey Hall of Fame out there, right?
Ed: You could probably be a Hall of Famer. That’s great, man. Congratulations.
Mike: (laughing) Thanks.
Ed: Now, Mike, what do you have to do to get into the Hall of Fame?
Mike: Production is a big thing. Longevity is another thing. Obviously, championships have a lot to do with it. I think just players who have made an impact on the game, who have changed the game, get the most they can out of their career in the NHL, just making the mark in the game. I think that’s where players get into the Hall and, obviously, playing a thousand games, maybe approaching a thousand points, that has a lot to do with it. But the one thing we get the most out of is winning the Stanley Cups. That has brought a lot more joy in the game than we ever could imagine.
Mike Modano has never played a perfect game. You heard him. Nor has Darryl Sydor, nor has Joe Neuendyk, nor has Eddie Belfour. It’s not going to happen. So, if these players heard this new honoring system in hockey, their dreams would be dashed. They would know it’s a physical impossibility to make it into the Hall of Perfection. They would realize what the Sydors’ said in their video, that good isn’t good enough. Did you check that statement out? Good isn’t good enough.
The Bible says God’s standards are perfect. It says that God is holy, meaning he is unable to err. He tells us that we can make it into heaven if we do a couple of things. God says that we can make it into heaven if we perform perfectly in this one and only life, if, first of all, we never sin. God says if we live a sin-free life, no penalties in the rink of this existence, then you can make it to heaven. Also, God says, if we take advantage of every opportunity perfectly, in all situations, if we live a flawless life, then we can make it into heaven.
Good though, the Bible says, isn’t good enough. A lot of people, right now, think that if they are good enough, if they pay their taxes, keep their nose clean, throw a bone God’s way, if they are better than the guy at work, if they are better than the guy who runs the apartment complex, or this or that, somehow God grades on this cosmic curve, and at the end of our life, God will say, “You know what? Come on into heaven.” Word on the street says that good guys and good girls will make it in. Friends, word on the street is wrong.
Listen to these significant statements from scripture about our condition. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10). “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles at just one point, is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Let’s say a month from now, we had this goal. Let’s say that all of us would fly out to Los Angeles, California, and our agenda, our goal would be to swim from L.A. to Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s 2500 and some odd miles. Well, if we knew we had to do that, we would train for it, wouldn’t we? We would eat properly, pump the iron, try to hire the best swim coaches out there. How many in here think they would make it? No one would. I don’t care if we have some five time gold medallist in the house, no one here would make it. It’s a pipe dream, a physical impossibility. We might make it a mile, some of us, two miles, five miles. Maybe you are really strong. You can tread water and stay away from great white sharks and make it about fifty miles. That would be it. You could not do it. Yet, I see people trying to swim and thrash their way to God.
“Oh, God, I can swim better. I can make it. I can make up this sinful shortfall, this chasm, this distance that separates me from you because of my sin.” In God’s economy, L.A. to Hawaii is a short distance compared to the distance that separates us from him because of our sin problem. We have got a sin problem. We’ve got to own the fact that good isn’t good enough.
Darryl and Shar said something else, though. They said good isn’t good enough, but also they said, “something came over me.” They had not been to church in years and years. They walked through the doors of Fellowship Church and they felt that something came over them. What was that something?
So often I talked to people who go, “Man, I felt like that drama was reading my mail. Man, the words to that song just nailed me. That is just what I have been dealing with. Or Ed, what you said, have you been following me around?” I smile because I know it’s not us. It’s the Holy Spirit of God. God uses people and uses events as tools, as conduits to communicate his message. So right now if you feel like, “Whoa, I have been trying to perform my way in. Whoa, I have been trying to get into God’s Hall of Perfection and I realize, even after my best day, I fall miserably short.” If you are starting to feel that way right now, that is the Holy Spirit of God. Because if you think that being good, or being religious, or being pastorized, or homogenized, or being a Catholic or a Baptist, or a Penecostal will somehow get you into heaven, it’s not going to happen for you.
Maybe something is coming over you. Whenever you hear the word “gospel,” gospel simply means good news. I’ve got some good news for you. How many of you read US News and World Report, that magazine? US News and World Report, no one reads it? That’s nice. Wow. They have a section in there called “News You Can Use.” Let me tell you some news you can use. Good isn’t good enough. Something, I pray, is coming over you right now, because many of you are being convicted of your condition like the Sydors’ were. It’s simply the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit of God has brought you here to hear this message for a life-changing reason.
Speaking of significant statements, let me read some more from scripture. Acts, chapter 10, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message,” or you could say the good news. They applied the news they could use. We have this sinful shortfall, don’t we? This gap that we cannot make up on our own between ourselves and God. What did God do? Let me explain it this way. I’ll tell you what God did.
Monday, after shooting this video over several hours, it was about three p.m., I had not eaten a thing all day. So I stopped by a local Mexican restaurant, Cozymel’s, right across the freeway. I ordered a bowl of tortilla soup, without tortilla strips–you know, high in carbs, high in fat. I try to watch my diet. That sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? “I’ll have the tortilla soup without the tortillas.” Also, I had some of their great ice tea. They have this brewed mango type ice tea. I love that stuff. I was sitting there by myself just thinking about the great things God has done and is doing in the Sydors’ life, just thinking about this weekend’s message.
After a while, the waiter came by and dropped the check off at my table. I didn’t really look at how much it cost. I mean, how much is a bowl of soup and ice tea? No big deal. Then I saw the waiter kind of do this turn. He came back and just picked up the check. He looked at me and goes, “Hey, man, today is your lucky day. You don’t have to pay.” I said, “What?” He said, “You don’t have to pay. Someone has picked up your tab.” I said, “Sweet.”
That’s the gospel in a nutshell. We have a debt. We have a tab we cannot pay. But the good news is, we don’t have to pay and God, by sending Christ and through his amazing grace, has picked up the tab. He died on the cross for your sins and mine. Sin has to have a punishment. Earlier I read a text from Romans, “The wages of sin is death.” That word “death” means eternal separation from God. It means “hell.” If we got what we deserved, if we got our paycheck for sin, if we were rightly compensated, it would be death, isolation, utterly alone and separate from God. We deserve that. I do. You do. Every single person on this earth deserves it. However, God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and to make up the difference, and to rise again. That’s the gospel. We can’t earn it. We have just got to receive it.
A while back I was in Starbucks with my laptop, just doing some work. It sometimes helps me to change the scenery a little bit and get away. So I am typing and this guy sitting next to me had a palm pilot. He looked at me and goes, “Excuse me, sir? Does your computer have infrared on it?” I said, “What?” He said, “Does your computer have infrared on it?” I said, “Man, I can barely type much less do I know about infrared.” He said, “Well, your computer is trying to connect with my palm pilot.” And he showed me his palm pilot screen, and it said, “Waiting to send. Waiting to receive message.” My computer was trying to connect with his palm pilot. I thought that was kind of wild.
God’s Holy Spirit is connecting with many people right now, seeking up. Many of you are waiting for the good news. You are waiting to make this response, to make this decision. It’s up to you. You can do it.
The Sydors’ said another significant statement. I hope you didn’t miss it. They talked about Jesus being their leader, their leader. Let’s just be honest, you know. Prior to knowing Christ personally, we run our own show, don’t we? We forge our own future. We pave our own path, and we think, at least for a while, that we do a pretty good job of it. However, throughout this series, we have seen the futility of people trying to run their own lives, Roxanne Phillips, Henry and Kim Alayon, Darryl and Sharlene Sydor. Are you trying to run your own life? I think it’s time that many people need to make Jesus Christ their leader. You need to say, “You know what? You are God. I am not. You lead. You run the show. I want you, God, to infiltrate my life.”
Here are some more significant statements from the Bible, John 10, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” John 12, he says, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” In Romans 10, “If you confess with your mouth,” and the word “confess” means to agree with God, “that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So the moment in time that you confess this, you confess that you are a struggling swimmer, you confess you have been trying to perform your way in perfectly, you confess that that will not work, you confess the fact that you need the grace of God, that you need the forgiveness of God, that you need Jesus to come into your life, the moment you confess that, you are a Christ-follower. When you say that, this phenomenal, I call it cosmic, transaction takes place. All of your sin, your guilt, your junk, is transferred to the shoulders of Christ, and all of his righteousness, forgiveness, grace and mercy is transferred to your life. It’s a cosmic transaction.
Many of you need to make that transaction. So right now, I am going to give you an opportunity to do so, the same opportunity that Darryl and Shar grabbed hold of, the same opportunity that many here have grabbed hold of. I am going to give you a chance to confess it. “Well, Ed, how do I confess it?” You just say it. So, I am going to say how to make this deal with the Lord, how to receive this gift, how to become a Christ-follower. If I never see you again, or if you never hear anything from the Bible again, I want you to remember what we are talking about, because I am giving you in a nutshell what the Bible says about how to have a personal dynamic relationship with Christ.
I cannot do it for you. You cannot do it for me. I cannot force it. I cannot coerce you. You have just got to do it. If you are feeling any kind of pull right now, it’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit of God, so let’s get that straight, okay? I’m just telling you what the Bible says about how to know Christ. But if you want to make this decision, just look at me and say these words after me. Just say it out loud. Just say, “God, I realize that good isn’t good enough. That I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, I turn from my sins, and I ask Jesus Christ to be my leader. I give him everything I am right now and everything I ever will be. Help me, God, to understand the implications of this life changing decision. In Christ’s name,”
If you just said those words, you are a Christ-follower. It doesn’t get better than that. That’s it. If you said those words to the best of your ability, you confessed. “Well, Ed, I thought you had to pray.” It says confess. You just confessed it. That’s all you got to do. But all is the deal. It’s the most important thing you will ever do in your life.
The Sydors’ talked about a journey, too. You hear everybody talking about a journey? I thought that was cool, a journey. It’s a journey. You have heard me talk for years about running a marathon. Really, I barely walked through the marathon. But you know how you sometimes will brag. The older you get, the faster you have run, looking back, especially now that I am forty years old, I can say, “Man, I sprinted that marathon.” I didn’t, believe me.
When I ran that race, though, I paid the money to get in the race, bought the t-shirt, had my race number, but I wasn’t really in the race though, until I did what, until I took my first step and broke the plain of the starting line. Then I was in the race. If you confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he is your leader, that you have given your life to him, you have made the most important step in the journey. A journey is about walking. It’s about taking steps. This entire message, from all the music, everything you will hear is about walking. It’s about movement. But there are other steps out there. We don’t just make one step and say, “Okay, I have made the step, Jesus. That’s it.” There are many other steps, but if you have made the first step, that’s the most critical one, the most important one. You are a Christ-follower.
However, there is another step. Let’s see what the Bible says. Again, we read some significant statements, Matthew chapter 10, Jesus talking, he says, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” In Acts, chapter 2, verse 41, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Now these are great verses. These verses talk about the journey.
This verse, let’s look at it again, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father.” Christ is saying if you show people whose team you are on, I will tell the Father about that. “Look, they have shown people whose team they are on.” One of the ways that we show whose team we are on is by being baptized. The Bible talks about baptism time and time again. Did you see the progression in the verse I just read, Acts 2:41? They accepted his message. That’s becoming a Christian. Then they were baptized.
Many of you who prayed that prayer or maybe who confessed, maybe you have not been baptized. You need to get baptized. “Now, Ed, does baptism make you a Christian?” No, it does not. I mean, when I walk into MacDonald’s, I am not a hamburger. Baptism, though, is the litmus test of our life. It’s when we go public. It’s when we say, “I am ready to get out of the shadows and say I am making a public stance for Christ.” “Well, I have been baptized before, brother. I have been sprinkled, spritzed, poured.” Good for you. My wife was sprinkled as a Lutheran. That’s great. Maybe you were sprinkled as a Catholic. Good. But now that you are old enough to appropriate faith and to make an intelligent faith decision, which many of you just made, it’s time to go public and to liquidate, to get baptized.
Here is what baptism is. It’s a beautiful thing packed with spiritual significance. You go under the water, that represents your old life, your identification with Christ’s death. When you come out of the water, that is your new life. You are identifying with the resurrection. You are saying, “I am a new person.” We submerge people because the Bible says so, not because I say so, or this denomination. The Bible says so. We are submerged because all of our sins are covered by the shed blood of Christ. So, get baptized. Did you hear the Sydors? They said they were sitting in church.
(Ed talking to someone at random sitting in the audience)
“What’s up? What’s your name?”
“What’s up, Josh? I like that name, Josh. That’s a good Bible name, Josh.”
The Sydors said they were sitting in church and they realized good wasn’t good enough. They realized something came over them, the Holy Spirit of God. They were convicted. They understood about that. Then they made Christ their leader. Then they thought they needed to make this public. I gave them an opportunity to make their decision public, something I don’t do a lot. I said, “Okay, those who prayed that prayer, or those who said those words, confessed it, if you want to make that public, I am going to ask you do something. You stand and just make your way forward.” That’s what the Sydors’ did.
So in a little while, I am going to give you a chance to make that decision public. There is something about going public. When you go on record, it’s like, “Wow, I’ve done this publicly. I can’t turn back now. This is it for me.” Let me tell you something, if a professional athlete who has not darkened the doors of a church in what, ten or twelve years, will make his decision public, and you won’t? I mean, you are not Darryl Sydor. You have got to make that decision. You’ve got to make it public. I remember the day I made mine public. In the Bible, the public thing was baptism, but, today, I am going to challenge you, get in your face a little bit, between you and your make-up, close enough to smell your cologne, and say, “You know what? It’s time for you to stand up and say, ‘I am on Christ’s’ team.”
In just a few moments, I am going to ask you to come forward, and when I do so, only as God leads, I want you to get up and just walk down front like this. As you are walking forward, you are confessing Christ. You are acknowledging Christ before this church. I want you to face the front. We are not going to turn you around and make you talk, or call your name out. Don’t worry about that. You just face the front. Then, as people come forward, some others will come forward who will talk to you, who are part of our church.
After you walk forward, we will have you walk out this way, and we will spend maybe ten or fifteen minutes with you, just talking to you about the significance of this decision. It’s the best thing that you will ever do. I mean, give me a good reason, not out loud but in your mind, give me a good reason. You know, I use to have somebody on the front row of the church in the early days, when I would do a hypothetical rhetorical question, and they would answer me. I would say, “Give me a good reason,” and they would answer. I finally had to say, “Man, I understand, but just chill okay?”
Do you have any good reason why you should not do that? I mean, why? Don’t put it off. You just respond by coming forward as you say, “Good isn’t good enough. Something is coming over me and it’s the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus, I want to make you my leader and I’m ready to start this journey to accept Christ, to liquidate and discover the implications of a life of faith.”