GROWING THROUGH THE MOTIONS SERIES
A 3-STORY BUILDING
AUGUST 31, 1997
I have always looked forward to traveling to Laurel, Mississippi to see my grandparents. You know how kids are. After that ten-hour trip from the Carolinas we would finally pull into their driveway. We would jump out of the car and knock on their door. They would greet us with a barrage of hugs and kisses. They would pinch our cheeks. Then they would step back and say the words that my brothers and I would love to hear, “Look how much you have grown. It’s amazing.”
Then my grandfather, who was confined in a wheelchair due to a stroke, would take us back to the porch and get us to stand next to the doorframe. As we looked at that doorframe, we would see the names and heights of his children and his grandchildren. It was a great thing to be able to watch the record of our growth. He would take out a yardstick and meticulously measure our height. My grandfather got a blast out of seeing kids grow.
Listen very carefully. Our loving God, our transcendent God, wants His children to grow and that is why our God meticulously monitors and measures our spiritual growth. He is cheering us on. He wants us to develop. He wants us to go on to maturity.
Over the last three or four weeks we have been talking about Growing Through The Motions. I have discussed spiritual infancy, spiritual adolescence and spiritual adulthood. While I was preparing for this final message I thought to myself that it would be cool if we could bring out some members of our church and have them stand next to an imaginary doorframe to be measured spiritually by us. Well, several people are going to walk out on this stage and they will allow us to see where they are spiritually speaking. I am going to warn you, while you listen to their stories, you will be able to identify with them and really figure out where you are along this spiritual development continuum. I also believe that after this message, you will know what you need to do in order to move to the next level.
So let’s welcome our guests. First, let’s welcome Michael and Wendy Webster. Next we have Mike and Vicki Kettler. Finally we have Dave and Susan Roberson. This is not easy you know. I just picked them at random a couple of hours ago. No, just kidding. We gave them a few days preparation time.
ED. Tell us if you would, Michael and Wendy, about your spiritual pilgrimage, where you have been and where you are now.
WENDY. Michael and I have been married for thirteen years. We have been together since the sixth grade. We are self-employed. We have had some financial setbacks, along with some other problems, that had driven Mike and I and God as far apart as we had ever been. I was approached by a neighbor who is a member here and asked to come to the Fellowship. Also my six-year-old asked one day if we could go to church.
ED. So what you are saying Wendy is that one of your neighbors who is a member of our church took the time to invite you to FLC. Then your daughter also asked to attend church.
WENDY. When we started attending it was just me and my two daughters. I also began to attend a Bible Alive class. Being real honest, the days that I would get up to go to church I’d get real mad cause Mike wouldn’t come with me. I would kind of slam the door when I left. One day a lady sat next to me at the Bible Alive class and told my story out of her mouth. She said that she prayed and God told her that her husband was His and not hers and that He would deal with him in His timeframe. I prayed that same prayer and here we are today.
ED. You know Wendy, you said something very important. One of the most exciting ministries in our church is our Bible Alive ministry. We worship together in a large church four times a weekend, but also we have classes broken down for singles and marrieds in different age categories for Bible study. They are mid-sized groups. That is where Wendy met this girl who connected with her and her story. Now from that point, Michael, tell me what transpired. You were having difficult times. Wendy talked about the door slamming. How did the door finally open for you?
MICHAEL. Well, it began for me when my daughter got baptized here. I attended that service and went home that afternoon. God was really working with me. I went to my bedroom alone to think. My mother, who happened to be in town that day, came in and prayed with me. I accepted Jesus Christ into my life that day.
ED. This happened quite recently. And subsequently, you were baptized yourself. What kind of changes have taken place in your life.
MICHAEL. We still have the financial setbacks and struggles, day to day. We still have problems but with God on our team it is so much easier. My wife and I are falling back in love for the first time in thirteen years. There is nothing like it in the world.
ED. We are proud of you all. This is what our church is all about. I know who this person is who actually invited you all to church. Where is Dedo Mitchell? Dedo, stand up. There is a member of our church who loved her neighbors enough to invite them here. Because of that, Dedo, this guy right here is in the family of God and he will spend eternity in heaven. We thank you for that. I don’t want to speak for Dedo, but I know that there is nothing like bringing someone here and knowing that they can have a life change like this.
Now I want to switch gears a little bit. The next couple, Mike and Vicki, are a little bit different. They, more or less, spiritually speaking were kind of on the bench and not in the game. They were nominal attendees at another church. Again, another family in our church mentioned FLC to you and invited you to attend. Would you tell us your story?
VICKI. Well, we did attend another church. We didn’t go on a regular basis. Mike usually went on holidays.
ED. So he was kind of the lily, turkey and poinsettia attendee; Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. You know, we have a lot of folks who only attend our church three times a year.
VICKI. Well I wanted more for our family, especially after our daughter was born. I began to pray regarding how that could happen, how we could become involved. I spoke to that friend you referred to and she said that she would go with me to FLC any time I wanted to try it out. I talked to Mike about it. They met us at a Bible Alive class.
ED. Now this couple is also here in the church. Would Dennis and Sude Brewer please stand up? The Kettlers were believers but they were not involved in the church. They loved them enough to invite them. If you read about the New Testament church, that is how the church grew and developed, by word of mouth. Now go on, Vicki. What happened once you joined our church here?
VICKI. Mike got a call the week we joined. He was asked to become a member of the usher team. That was neat because it got him connected right away. He had a reason to be here every Sunday. I was asked to be a part of the women’s ministry, so I got connected, too. We also became a part of a home team that first month.
ED. The home team, just for review, is not like our Bible Alive. It is a small group of couples or singles that meets together at least once a month throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Mike, feel free to jump in here. You and Vicki had a very difficult situation occur with your daughter. Tell us about that and what how your home team was involved.
MIKE. We had a boating accident last summer. Our daughter was hurt badly. We actually had some church friends with us in the boat and they made an enormous difference. Our daughter, Tawny, fell out of the boat and was injured by the propeller. I jumped out of the boat without a life jacket on to grab her. I cannot swim very well, although I can hold my own for a little bit. The woman with us dove in also and took Twany from me. As she was getting her back to the boat, they were singing “Jesus Loves Me.”. It really helped to calm the situation. I managed to return to the boat on my own and tried to restart it. I could not get it restarted. We had to wait for help to arrive.
ED. So your seven-year-old daughter was actually singing a song about Jesus loving her with another member of our church who actually dove in and saved her. I was talking to my Mom, which I do every Saturday, and she was telling me that a friend of hers who recently died of cancer had a tough time memorizing scripture. She had told my mother before she died that as she was going through chemotherapy the scripture that she remembered was one which she had memorized as a child. So sometimes we think that our children don’t get it, but that just shows you, right there, what a little child can understand and apply in their lives. Then, of course, you rushed to the hospital. I want you to share what happened at the hospital that involved the people from the church.
VICKI. When we came out of emergency and Tawny was going in for her first surgery, two couples and one pastor were already there in the waiting room to be with us. The very next morning our home team leaders were there. The support from that home team never stopped for the entire week.
ED. That’s what the body of Christ is all about. Tell me some changes that you have seen in Mike’s life since he has been involved here.
VICKI. The accident effected him greatly. His faith grew much stronger. His love for the Lord grew stronger. One thing that is really exciting in our home is that he is becoming the spiritual leader. I did not experience that as a child. He prays for us and he prays with us. When we are out in public now, he even prays over our meals. I think that is such a witness to me and Tawny but also to others who are watching.
ED. Mike, we cheer you on. Last, but not least, the Robersons. It is odd even seeing them on stage because this whole family is in perpetual motion. They are always servicing, doing. They serve on the parking team, as greeters, as counselors for the new members. They participate in the movers and shakers effort which helps to facilitate our move into the high school each weekend. And take a wild guess where they live. Do they live right here in Irving? No. Do they live in Hurst, Bedford, Euless? No. Duncanville! So, I don’t ever want to hear any of our members say, “Well, Ed, it is just too far. When the church moves to Hwy. 121, then we will get involved.” These two people are among the most mature and active ministers in our church. And the reason I call them ministers is because the Bible says that once someone becomes a member of a church they are ministers. We equip our members for ministry. The pastors are the administers and the members are the ministers.
Dave, you and Susan have talked to me about your life. What actually attracted you the FLC? How did you hear of us? How did you get here?
DAVE. We were looking for a church like FLC, one that had dynamic worship, relevant preaching. We wanted a church in which we were comfortable so that we might invite friends. Equally important, we wanted a church in which our children would be comfortable. We have three teenagers and we wanted them in a church that they would like.
ED. And do they have great children. If you ever want any parenting tips, I recommend them highly. I just spent a week with one of their sons on our Beach Retreat. Also, talk about being busy now, they have a daughter in college and both of their sons are involved in junior high and high school athletics in Duncanville. And if you are from Texas, you know what that means. That is hard core, throttle to the firewall involvement. Any quick parenting tips?
DAVE. Rely on the grace of God!
ED. So you joined our church. How did you get involved? What did you do first to learn about FLC? We knew that if we got into a church and did not start using the gifts that God had given us, we would dry on the vine. So we were determined that we were going to get involved in ministry. Immediately we started giving financially. Then I got involved with the parking ministry. That involvement led us to participate in the greeting ministry.
ED. What, Susan, are some of the exciting things that you deal with in the greeting ministry? We have hundreds of people who just greet folks. We take that from a verse in one of the gospels that says, “warmly welcome those who visit.” That is why we have a greeting ministry.
SUSAN. I love meeting people. It is neat to see how people brighten up when you greet them. It can be just a simple, hi, hello or can I help you, can I show you where to go. It is very easy and takes no study, no preparation. You just smile and welcome them.
ED. And you will notice, too, as we are talking, we try to have three or four major ministries or areas of involvement where you can participate without having memorized the entire New Testament. We try to gear things here so we do not intimidate people or put them on the spot. The biggest fear that people have is speaking in public. In our Bible Alive classes, we don’t call on somebody arbitrarily to pray. That might be a very difficult thing for them. So we try to let people know first. It is important to have a variety of areas of service in which people can feel comfortable. Now, I have got to ask you this question. You are a mature believer. If you had to put it in a nutshell, what would you say real maturity means? Is there something that you do regularly that equates maturity?
DAVE. It is an ongoing process. It is using the gifts that God has given you continuously. It is not a sprint. It is a marathon. It is a lifelong process. You have ups and downs but by the grace of God you keep on going.
ED. What you are saying is that service is the key. That is something that I wanted to get into. I am planning on doing an entire series on service during this coming year. But one of the keys to maturing spiritually is service. It is getting involved in a local church. You can just see from their lives what all God has done.
Let me kind of go back and review. Some of you are saying that this is great. We have heard phenomenal testimonies, great life change stories but how does that effect me? I want to give you a few seconds to decide whom you identify with here. You might be in any one of the three categories. Maybe we have some here over this Labor Day weekend who don’t know Christ personally, who are outside the family of God. You could identify with Michael a couple of months ago. Maybe today is the day when you step over the line and say, “Jesus, I want to know you personally.”
But once you find out where you are, ask yourself this question. “What do I need to do to grow? How do I grow through the motions?” Well, if you are in this stage, the infant stage, we talked about three things. Acts 2:42. Simon Peter addressed a bunch of baby Christians and he said to concentrate on teaching, that is exposing yourself to God’s word corporately and privately. He said to concentrate on prayer, talking to God. And also he said concentrate on fellowship. Well, you heard the Kettlers talk about fellowship. There is nothing like getting together with other people who have Jesus Christ as a common denominator with you. So if you are in stage one, I challenge you based on God’s word to do those three things.
Now, if you are in the adolescent stage refer to Hebrews 6:1. The writer says to go on to maturity. What do you do? Well, we have to concentrate on relationships. We have to make our best friends, those who know Christ. We are still to know people who are outside the family of God. If Dedo hadn’t taken a relational risk, and gotten in touch with these folks, this guy would not be in the kingdom. So we have got to be friends and love those people who are outside the family of God. Jesus did, we are called to. But our best friends must be believers. There is a relational cost to growing. There is also a time cost. You talk to Mike and Vicki. They have rearranged their schedule in a lot of ways over the last couple of years by virtue of their development. There is also a financial cost. We have talked about giving to the local church. That is what Dave and Susan talked about.
I had a conversation recently with a guy who works out with me. He is a very successful young man. I looked at him, in love, and asked how much money it would take for him to really find the answer. How much? He answered. I said, wait a minute. I don’t care what the figure is, you are not going to find it through money. I said that the only way he is going to find fulfillment is if he comes to know Christ personally and gets his whole family involved in church.
So, many of us here are on this track of thinking that we are one deal away, one promotion away from the ultimate. I am here to tell you, it doesn’t happen until you understand what the Robersons have been talking about. You have got to get engaged in lifelong ministry. That is where real fulfillment and real joy takes place. And that is what I challenge you to do if you identify with them. Also, is it having a teachable and humble spirit. These people know God’s word, they are great parents. They have been in ministry a long, long time. They, however, have a teachable and humble spirit. I know them. They don’t walk around flaunting their maturity. They have servant hearts.
If you talk with all of these folks, they have gone through difficult times, times of testing, times of suffering. That has also perfected them, grown them up. So what is it going to take for you? God wants you to grow. He wants you to grow worse than your parents ever did. He wants you to grow worse than my grandfather wanted me to grow. God wants you to grow. He is constantly monitoring and measuring your course of spiritual development. So, your challenge is simply this. Grow through the motions. Grow through the motions and you will get in on the greatest experience and have the greatest ride in the universe.