Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Girls' night out

Well, not exactly. For homiletics (preaching) class this semester, I'm required to preach my sermons outside of class.

I just finished giving one of those sermons at girl's dorm worship this evening at 10:30p. I spoke for about thirteen minutes. I was only supposed to speak twelve minutes maximum, so I need to work on staying within my time limits.

Here's the outline of my sermon. I did not choose the text. I was assigned the text, so I had to struggle to make the text relevant to female college students.

INTRO
How do you respond when you get a raw deal?

What’s a raw deal? Examples.

It’s when…
  • You had that group project for class and no one did any work except you but everyone in your group got the same grade
  • You were picked on in high school by a group of mean students
  • You came home from school and your mom told you, “Your Dad and I have been having problems. I’m sorry, but we have to get a divorce.”
  • Your boyfriend broke up with you and then started a relationship with your best friend a week later
  • That guy told you, “I love you,” but later on you found out he was cheating on you
  • Your dad abandoned you and your mom for another woman
  • You were sexually abused in 2nd grade by a relative that you trusted
  • You get that phone call telling you that your close friend died in a car accident

Have you ever had something unfair happen to you? Then you know what it feels like to get a raw deal.

BODY
And my question to you tonight is…
How do you respond when you get a raw deal?

How do you respond when a close friend betrays you?
How do you respond when people you trust bails out on your life?
How do you respond to unfair events in your life?

Do you
  • Seek revenge on those who hurt you
  • Give up on God
  • Get depressed
  • Turn to an addiction to ease the pain (drugs, food, sex, romantic relationships, go shopping)

Or do you
  • Turn to God

I want to suggest to you that the best way to respond is to do these two steps:
  1. Allow God and other Christians to bring healing and support to your life
  2. Allow God to use your raw deal as a pathway to serve others

When you respond in these two steps, you will find true fulfillment, meaning, peace, and even joy.

My focus on this short talk will be the 2nd step which is allowing God to use your raw deal as a way to serve others.

But let me just quickly go over the 1st step.
Allow God and other Christians to bring healing and support to your life.
  1. Cry out to God for help. Pour your heart out to him. Be honest with him. Ask him to heal you.
  2. Find spiritually mature people to give you guidance and support. These people should be able to listen to you and pray for you.

So now, let’s focus on the 2nd step. Allow God to use your raw deal as a way to serve others.

Let me show you a Bible character who did this 2nd step.

The time is around 60 AD and two years ago the Apostle Paul was traveling, doing missionary work, preaching, and planting churches. But now he’s spent the last two years in prison. He’s in prison for preaching the gospel.

And in Phil. 1:12-14 he tells us of his experience in the last two years.

Phil. 1:12-14
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me…
  • Has caused me to give up on God (No, that’s not what the Bible says)
  • Has caused me to get depressed (No, that’s not what the Bible says)
  • Has caused me to hate the prison guards here (No, that’s not what the Bible says)

has really served to advance the gospel.

13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

Paul’s did not deserve to be in prison. He got a raw deal. However, he used his two year stay in prison to spread the gospel to the prisoners and to the prison guard. He allowed God to use his raw deal as a way to serve others.

Could it be that your unfair experience, your raw deal, will be a pathway to serve others?

Rick Warren, in his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life, writes “your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt. Who could better minister to the parents of a Down syndrome child than another couple who have a child afflicted in the same way? Who could better help an alcoholic recover than someone who fought that demon and found freedom? Who could better comfort a wife whose husband has left her for an affair than a woman who went through that agony herself?”

How about in a college setting? Who could better minister to a student whose reputation has been tarnished by gossip than a student here who was afflicted in the same way? Who could better comfort a student who was sexually abused than a student here who went through that agony herself? Who could better help a student overcome a painful breakup than a student here who suffered a similar breakup?

Ladies of Southwestern, your best ministry will most likely come out of your worst raw deal. And if you allow God to bring that ministry out of your broken life, you will experience His peace and joy.

What would it look like to serve out of your painful experience?
  • Maybe God is calling you to start a women’s support group
  • Maybe God is calling you to share your testimony in public
  • Maybe God is calling you to share your testimony to those who are struggling
  • Maybe God is just calling you to build supportive friendships with those who have gone through a similar situation like yours

My ministry
  • Public school (I was that guy who had low self-esteem and few friends)
  • I try to build friendships with those guys who don’t have many friends here at SWAU
  • To encourage them to see their worth as a child of God
How will you respond to the raw deals in your life?

Will you
  • Seek revenge on those who hurt you
  • Give up on God
  • Get depressed
  • Ignore the whole situation
  • Turn to an addiction to ease the pain (drugs, food, sex, romantic relationships, go shopping)

Or will you
  • Allow God and other Christians to bring healing and support to your life
  • And will you allow God to use your raw deal as a pathway to serve others

Choose God’s way. Allow God to heal you. Allow other Christians to support you. And allow God to use your raw deal as a pathway to serve others.

When you do these things, you will find true fulfillment, meaning, peace, and even joy.


As always, comments are welcome.

4 Comments:

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Jesse said...

the idea that life must be pleasant and agreeable causes more grief than joy. one only perceives life to be unfair when things are not agreeable to them, in other words for a person to maintain that life is fair implies that person to expect that life be agreeable and fair to their goals, needs, or desires. to expect or demand that life meet your expectations is absurd and irrational. Since when do we have that much control? do we really expect to have the capability to maintain a pleasant homeostasis in an imperfect world? we cannot control every circumstance or situation that confronts us. we cannot mold life to meet our wishes or strong desires. the only thing we can manage is our response to the adversities of life. we can be in control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. we are autonmous and independent from life situations. life does not manage us we manage life. sure life affects us but it does not control us, unless we let it, and for the person that let's life dictate his goals, desires, emotions and actions what a miserable way to spend the only waking opporunity that we have on this earth. one must learn to let go of this childish intrinsic demand for life to be safe and comfortable in an imperfect world. only then can one live healthfully actively, sanely, and joyfully.

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger deebarizo said...

I love the first sentence of M. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Traveled : Life is difficult.

I haven't actually read the book. However, I really need to read it, because I struggle with expecting life to be easy. I struggle with expecting life to treat me fairly.

I only need to look at Jesus' life to realize that, even for God, life was difficult and unfair.

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous jesse said...

i believe that there is an intense desire in every human for perfection and perpetual life. That is because God created us perfectly. However, each human being comes to the stark realization that this is beyond our capacity in our fallen state. Our consciences have been wrecked, that which leads to the source of life and connects us to our Creator has been manipulated. Our being yearns for harmony with life but the reality atests to the human struggle to attain this balance. As Christians i believe that in learning from Gods Word the truth of our fallen nature and Gods unweilding faithfulness and interest in us, brings the peace and strength of mind necessary to cope with the difficulties of life. When we look at life from this point of view we are able to approach it with clarity, reason, and faith.

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger deebarizo said...

I'm imperfect, mortal, selfish. I feel like the world should revolve around me. I'm the star actor in my play. I think about myself, my needs, my comforts, my wants, my goals. And my self-addiction feels like misery.

But when I serve Jesus and others, when I worship Him and think about others, when I meet people needs, when I take an interest in other people and actually listen to them, I realize that I find fulfillment. I find meaning in living for Jesus and other humans.

Most of the time, I don't feel like living a selfless life. I usually feel like living for myself.

Could it be that I was designed to live a selfless life?

And could it be, that somewhere in human history, humanity rebelled against God and instead of staying originally selfless and perfect, humanity became imperfect, broken, and fallen?

And could it be that God came as a human in Jesus to show me how to live as an imperfect human? and now offers to rescue me from my self-addiction through his life and death and resurrection?

 

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