Everybody likes a good story. In this message, we hear a unique word from four of our communicators.
Welcome everybody. Welcome in from wherever you are watching from on a very special weekend because this weekend we get to hear stories of what God has been speaking to some of our staff leaders here at Valley Creek. This is called an Insta Story Weekend.
Now God is always speaking and He’s always teaching and He’s always showing us through the Holy Spirit new and fresh things. And so this weekend, we get to hear from four of our staff leaders, four of our leaders who’ve been walking on a journey with Jesus and they’re concise and it’s powerful each one of these messages. But what I want you to catch is that it’s not just stories that’s for them, it’s actually a story that’s for us. That God has a story he wants to speak to each one of us through what he’s been doing in their lives. And so the Holy Spirit, His voice in our life, man, it is powerful, it’s profound, it’s important. So we honor the voice of God in our life and we honor the development of leaders just like this as they take a next step in communication. Come on, four of our staff leaders that walk in the character and the power of Jesus, let’s celebrate them with Insta Stories today.
So can I ask you guys a question and please be honest with me. Do you like doing the dishes? Like I mean we all know the dishes have to get done, but I don’t think there’s anyone ever on the face of the earth that has actually enjoyed doing the dishes. Like let me paint a scenario for you, this — I guarantee you this has never happened to you before. I guarantee you have never come home maybe after a long, long day of work or with the home with the kids or a long day at school, you’ve never come home and had the thought, you know what honey or mom, dad, you know what I’d like to do tonight? I’d like to get my hands into some really filthy plates that we just ate off of. Maybe the fish that we ate tonight, the eggs from this morning that we never really finished, the two-day old oatmeal, you guys — you guys know what I’m talking about, right? Like at this point the oatmeal is basically cemented to the bowl and there’s no chance of me actually scraping it out. And then it’s not just the washing of the dishes, it’s the smell.
Like who knew that the combination of fish and eggs and oatmeal could be so pleasing to someone? No, you have never had that thought, you have never thought through that I really want to do the dishes, what a Friday night. No, you’ve never thought that and so maybe you can relate to me doing dishes that our family has been like pulling teeth. And for me, it’s been such a struggle to actually step into serving my family in that way. And this year I came across a verse and it is a verse that really has like started to change everything for me. It’s Ephesians 5:1 and it says this, “Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters.” I read this verse and I realized I have been living my entire life as if I think I would like this verse to read a little bit differently I think. I would prefer it if this verse read, be imitators of God in some things.
No. How about, be imitators of God in the things you like to do? Or be imitators of God in the things you feel like doing? But no, be imitators of God in everything you do. And it’s like I heard the Lord speaking to me, “Eric, when you’re doing the dishes, imitate Me because it’s really — I think I made it really clear, I do not like doing the dishes, but you know what, I bet it wasn’t particularly easy for Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet. I bet it wasn’t particularly easy for Jesus to love the people that wanted to pick up stones to throw at him. Or how about I don’t think it was particularly easy for Jesus to step out of heaven to become a man that would lay down his life for the good of others.
But Jesus did the hard things. You see how you have to actually ask yourself a question at some point and go like, how did Jesus do that? Like how could Jesus do the hard things? And I think we actually see it in the back half of this of this scripture. I think Jesus knew who he was and I think Jesus knew he was a beloved son, that he had a good Father and so he could trust Him in everything that he did, even the hard things. And when I started to reflect on who Jesus is and what Jesus has done and who now I get to be in him, you know what happened? I started to realize that doing the dishes wasn’t primarily just for my family, it was for me. Like God was using the hard things in my life, things like sacrificing and serving and giving, things that I didn’t want to do to actually help me become more like Jesus.
And as I started to catch that the strangest thing started happening. You see before, whenever it came to be about 6:30 and I knew the dishes were right around the corner, my wife would often look up, where did Eric go? Because I have no — no more in my life have I all of sudden wanted to mow the lawn or read Go, Dog. Go! for the thousandth time or do just about any other chore than I was hiding from doing the – from doing the dishes. But as I started to pick up on this, I started to realize that I actually didn’t want to lean out of doing the dishes, I actually learned that the hard places are some of the best places to lean in with Jesus. You see I guess what I’m saying is this whole thing isn’t primarily about the dishes, it’s about the privilege that each one of us have to be imitators of God in everything that we do. Because it’s true, it’s true, you are a beloved son, you are a beloved daughter and you have a really, really good dad.
But you’ll only get to experience those truths to the level that you’re willing to let Jesus into everything you do, not just let Jesus into some things, not just let Jesus into the things you like to do. No, let Jesus into everything you do, even the hard things. And so I want to ask you this question. What’s that one thing for you? What’s the one hard thing that maybe you’ve been hiding from? Maybe it’s serving, maybe it’s generosity, maybe it’s inviting someone to sit with you at lunch, maybe it’s honoring that coach or that teacher or that parent that you just don’t feel like it? What’s that one hard thing that God has been inviting you to do?
And then will you let Jesus into it? Because when you do, you’re going to discover a little bit more about the beloved son or the beloved daughter that you are. You’re going to discover a little bit more about the Father that you have. You’re going to discover a little bit more about the Jesus that is with you. God is teaching me that He uses the hard things in our life to help us become more like Him. So hey, Valley Creek, it’s time to do the dishes.
Have you ever tried to teach someone to ride a bike? Like learn to ride a bike, that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for kids, for parents. It’s actually one of those moments in life that’s guaranteed to get shared with grandparents and posted on social media. But the lead up to that moment, well, now that is an experience.
See my wife and I were experiencing that right now with our youngest son. In fact, for more than a year we’ve been trying to teach him to ride his bike. And man, when we first started he was so excited, he was like all little kids, he couldn’t wait to put that helmet on and to hop up on that seat and learn to ride just like everyone else. He was confident, he was fearless. That was until he fell for the first time. And when he fell, he scraped up this knee and in that moment everything changed. See now we did what any good parents would do, we picked him up and we dusted him off and we gave him our best possible pep talk, which basically means we bribed him to get back on and try again. And as much as I wish that worked, it actually didn’t. See, he’s still not riding on his own and his parents were still stuck running behind that bike as he attempts to navigate those unfamiliar roads. Now it feels like with every turn he makes on that bike that there’s a new distraction, a new obstacle that just jumps out and destroys his focus.
You could say that his fear of what’s in front of him has actually caused him to lose sight of who’s right beside him, his parents. In fact, he’s so worried about what might happen that he fails to realize what is happening. That is that our hands are on him and we actually have a hold of that bike the entire time, right? In fact we have such a secure grasp on that bike that he shouldn’t have a care in the world, yet his worry is robbing him of the joy that lies ahead. And let me just say as a parent, it’s heartbreaking, right? We want nothing more for him to be free, free to play and laugh and explore and to go on all the adventures that every young boy is meant to experience on their bike. And the more that I’ve thought about this the more I’ve started to realize isn’t this a picture of how God must often see us? See, we may not be learning to ride a bike, but I think we could all acknowledge this past year it’s been hard.
Never before has there been a season with more uncertainty, more unknowns, just more unknowns about what tomorrow will bring. If ever there was a season that was ripe for negative thinking and being worried about the future, this is it. And I don’t know about you guys, but I know that I feel like I’ve fallen off that bike a few times along the way too and scraped up my knee in the process. But God tells us in Isaiah 41:10, He says, “Don’t be afraid, for I’m with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” See, this is the part I love, “I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” See, what I’m discovering in this season is that God holds our future in his hand. Instead of being focused on the distractions of this world and worrying about what tomorrow will bring, He wants us to know that He’s with us, right? That He’s a good father and he’s whispering in our ear, “don’t be discouraged, I will strengthen you and help you.” And just like the hold we had on that bike, He’s now holding our future in his hand.
So think about that, the same hand that laid the foundations of the heavens and the earth, the same hand that split the seas as he led his people out from Egypt. What I’m saying is the same hand that is before all things is now the very hand that promises to hold all things together. And me, well, I tend to be a warrior by nature. If you know me that may actually surprise you a little bit. Most people will tell you I’m typically pretty calm and collected. And while on the outside maybe that’s true, if you’re ever given a glimpse inside my head you’d see a different picture. What you’d see is a mind that never shuts off. It’s a mind that’s always thinking, that’s always going a million miles a second. And when it’s at its best I’m able to process things quickly, like I’m able to see endless possibilities. It’s actually easy for me to believe the best and to hold on to the truth that there is always more. But when my mind’s at its worst, when I’m worried, it’s a different story.
Instead of seeing possibilities, I see problems, right? I get stuck in what feels like this endless loop of negative thinking. Instead of believing the best, I actually start to anticipate the worst. And if that resonates with you, you know that’s an exhausting and a defeating way to live. See, I’ve learned that worry is actually fear of the future and it’s rooted in misplaced trust. It’s when we place more of our trust in the brokenness of this world as opposed to the goodness of God. And the reason that’s a problem is that our lives are always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts. You could say it’s kind of like that six-year-old learning to ride a bike who keeps running into the back of a parked car. Like seriously, like how does that always happen? But when we’re fixated on the thing in front of us that we fear the most, we can’t help but run straight into it. So let me ask you a question today, what direction are your thoughts taking you?
See the enemy would love nothing more than to gain control over your mind. He knows that if he can gain control over your mind, that ultimately he could claim victory over your life. He wants you to fear your future and he wants you to be worried about tomorrow. But Jesus tells us, “Do not worry for tomorrow will worry about itself.” And maybe for you it’s not even worry, maybe for you it’s getting on the bike of anxiety or getting on the bike of depression or maybe the bike of stress. No matter the source, we all have something, something that triggers a negative thought pattern, a thought pattern that causes us to assume the worst and to ultimately sabotage our future. But I believe God wants to say to us today, “I’ve got you. Like why are you so afraid? What are you so anxious about? I’ve got you.” See, no matter your age, no matter your season of life we all have a future. And remember, God holds that future in his hand. Hear me, the battle for our mind, it’s real. Things like worry and fear and anxiety, they don’t exist out there, they’re in here.
And they would love nothing more than to rob us of our peace and our joy. But in Jesus name, that’s a battle that’s already been won. Riding a bike for the first time, it can be scary. And like we said this year in a lot of ways it has been hard. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that somewhere along the way just like my son and just like me, you’ve probably fallen off the bike too. Maybe you’re afraid to get back up again. Maybe you’ve scraped up your knee too. But again, God’s telling you, “I’ve got you.” He wants you to be free. He wants you to go to new places. He wants you to embrace the unknown and live a life of adventure. Remember, God is with you. He’s telling you, “Don’t be discouraged.” He will strengthen you and help you. It’s not even just that He’s holding your future, it’s actually being aware that He’s holding you.
Alright, have you ever tried to leave your house and you can’t find your keys, your wallet or your phone? And this might be hitting home to some of you that may have happened today. And then you look around your house like frantically like in the counter, in the drawer, on top of that table and you start saying things like, “I swear I put them right there, why did you guys move them?” Just me, man, and then somehow some way a period of time passes when you’re already late to where you need to go and somehow you find your keys in a place that doesn’t make any sense. Like why in the world will my keys be in the dryer? Like I don’t know how everything in the world ends up in the dryer. And man that happens to me more often than I like to admit. But has that ever happened to you? Or how about this question, has that ever happened to you when you’re looking for God? Like in this season, have you found it hard to experience Him or find Him?
Like you know you want to find Him, you need a word of wisdom or a breakthrough and answered prayer and you feel like you’re playing a game of hide and seek with God? But what if I told you that the game we’re actually playing is a game of seek and find? See, because the truth is God wants us to find Him and that’s the lesson that He’s been teaching me in the season, that if I seek Him I will find Him, if I seek Him with all of my heart and all of my soul. See, God wants to be found by you. Check out what it says in Deuteronomy 4:29, it says, “But from there,” alright, pause. So from there, students, from there, in your school, in your classroom. Employees, in your workplace. Parents, in your neighborhoods. “But from there you will search again for the LORD your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.” That’s a good verse. Are you searching again for the LORD your God wherever you’re at with all of your heart and all of your soul? Because the truth is God wants to be found by you. But I think if we’re honest, in this season, like we’ve forgotten to search for Him in that way. Like we’ve gotten complacent with just looking for God with half of our heart and being okay when we don’t find Him.
You see that’s the place that I got too. I realized I was just going through the motions like I wasn’t doing everything to find Him with all of my heart and all of my soul. But then it hit me, like I was only going to find God to the level that I was willing to find Him. Like I was only going to find Him to the level that I was willing to look for Him. Let me ask you this question, have you ever seen a toddler look for anything? Like maybe you know a toddler, you have a toddler or you you’ve seen what a toddler looks like. So our youngest is two and he’s at a stage right now where he loves looking for things, kind of. Let me explain. The other day he couldn’t find his blue blocks, he loves his blue blocks, he couldn’t find him in the house. So he comes and finds me, he looks me in the eyes and he says, daddy, is my block at? For those of you that don’t speak toddler, he’s asking me if I know where his block is at. And I’m like buddy like I don’t know where your blocks are, but how about this, how about you go and look for them and I’m sure you’re going to find them. He’s like, okay, daddy.
And then I see my son go over to the kitchen table and he looks under it one time, comes back to where I’m at, looks me in the eyes again and says, daddy, is my block at? At this point I don’t know if I should be concerned or confused, but I did what any good dad would do. I grounded him. No, that’s not what I did. I said, buddy, like you only looked one time. Like you have to go and search for it with a little bit more intention, thinking that my son now is going to turn around and go look with a little more intention. He doesn’t. He looks me straight in the eye, he says, daddy, you find it. I’m like are you kidding me? Like isn’t that just like kids, they look for things for a hot second and they want you to find it for them. Every parent right now is saying, yeah, amen to that. But isn’t that just like us too? I mean think about it, we look for God for like a hot second and then when we don’t find Him, we want somebody else to find Him for us. Like think about that, we seek and find the things that are valuable to us if we do it with all of our heart and all of our souls.
So are you searching for God in that way? See, the more we want to find God, the more you have to seek him with everything you have, heart and soul. Like don’t give up just as you’re about to open the door to the dryer to find what you’re looking for. Like come on Jesus tells us the story of a woman who had silver coins. She had ten, she loses one. So what does she do? She’s like, “Oh well, that was just ten percent of my income, I don’t care about it.” No, she stops everything that she’s doing, she gets on her hands and knees and looks for it all over her house until she finds it. Why? Because that silver coin was so valuable to her. Or what about the shepherd who has a hundred sheep and realizes one goes missing? What does he do? He’s like, “Man, it has been a hot day. I’ve been walking a long time. That was a dumb sheep anyways.” No, the shepherd leaves the 99 goes and finds the one, doesn’t stop until he finds it and brings it back. Why? Because that sheep was so valuable to him. What about Jesus? Jesus, who came to seek and save all that was lost.
You. He sought you out with everything he had, heart and soul, stopping at nothing until he found you, even giving up his life then resurrecting so you can have new life. Why? Because you are that valuable to him. Man, that was Jesus, but what about us? We seek things that we value with all of our heart and all of our soul. And we know it’s true, things like making that team or getting that promotion or being a part of that friend group, but then we get frustrated when we don’t find God. But you got to ask yourself, am I looking under the table one time or if I’m looking for God with everything I have, heart and soul. Back to my toddler, at this point he’s telling me to go find his block for him and I’m just confused at what he just said but I looked back at him and I encouraged him, I’m like buddy I know you can do this, you just have to look for it with a little bit more intention, look in places you haven’t looked before and I’m sure you’re going to find it. So he says, okay daddy. He puffs his little chest up and this time I see him actually go and look for things.
And I see him look under the couch and he jumps up with excitement, he comes over to where I’m at, he puts the block right in front of my face, he says, daddy I found it, I found my block. Like you’re not a toddler and neither is the person next to you so don’t tell them they act like one, you’re a beloved son, you are a beloved daughter with a God and a good Father that wants to be found by you. He wants to be found by you. And just like that block when you find what you’re looking for that revelation, that word of wisdom, that answered prayer, you too are going to jump up with excitement, run into the presence of your good Father, look at Him in the eyes and say, I found it dad, I found it. And we did find it, we found everything we were looking for, we found him because we looked for him with everything we had, heart and soul. And that’s the lesson that God has been teaching me in this season, that if I seek him I will find him when I do it with all my heart and all my soul. So Valley Creek, let’s search for God with everything we have, heart and soul.
So isn’t it amazing how one little piece of news can like completely change your life? It’s happened to all of us. I can remember a long time ago when my wife and I first became homeowners, we were going to have that first thanksgiving at our house, like all of our family was coming over. My house was going to be full of food and football and family like all my favorite things all in one day. It was looking like it was going to be a great day for Trip. And then before it even got started my wife walks in the room and she has that look on her face, you know, the smile that you put on your face and squint that you do like when you have something you need to tell somebody but you’re not sure how they’re going to take it like. I was like what’s going on? Thinking we’re talking about burnt turkey or something.
And she goes, well, I’m pregnant. What? Hang on, I’m pretty sure I just heard you say I’m pregnant, like pregnant. Like seriously, like this was great news. I was so excited about this. We have been trying for a year to get pregnant and with two little words she changed my life. I’m a dad, just like that. Man, good news can completely change your life. So can bad news. That happened to me recently too. It was a typical normal work day like everything was going fine. I was up at church doing my thing and all of a sudden I got a phone call and it was from my mom. And as soon as I picked up the phone and I said hello, I could tell by the tone in her voice like something was really bad. She said, son, it’s dad and his blood pressure is way out of control. It’s way too high, we can’t get under control and I sent him to the doctors. There’s nothing they can do for him there, they’re sending him to the emergency room and they’re scared he’s going to have a stroke.
One little piece of news. I took a deep breath and I don’t remember the rest of the story or what happened during that conversation except for just saying, okay, I love you and I’ll be there as fast as I can. And I hung up the phone and as soon as I did, man, all the worst case scenarios started flooding in. All the thoughts of what if this really was a stroke, like what’s that going to mean for my dad? How is this going to take a toll on him physically? Like what’s this mean for my mom? Like how is she going to have to like take care of him? And what does this mean for the rest of our family? Like what if something even worse happens today? Like all those thoughts that were so awful that no one should ever have to face. Man, if you have ever been there, life’s going great, everything’s fine and then one little piece of news comes in and turns your life upside down.
And you have no idea how to move forward or what you can even bring to the situation to make it better. You just feel hopeless and helpless. That’s where I was. I jumped in my car with all that swirling around me and I just remember hearing two little words from the Holy Spirit, that still small voice. See, the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave Him to us to be our guide and our comforter. And He reminded me with two little words even there. Even there, Trip, even there. He brought back to mind this verse that has meant so much to me in my life. It’s Psalms 139:10. It says this, “Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.”
Even there in the face of something that I had no idea how to make it through, how — what I could even bring. Man, I didn’t have to rely on me because God was saying I’m right there with you. And even there I’m not just there for you, I’m there for your dad, I’m there for your mom. God was with us and the reality of that verse became true for me. See I grabbed hold of that in my heart and my heart began to settle, my faith began to rise. Because when God shows up – man, Psalms 139, it says that God doesn’t just show up and He’s not just with you, it says that He surrounds you. And when He’s there like His hope surrounds you and His peace surrounds you. And His grace surrounds you and He doesn’t leave. God was with us that whole time through. And for those of you that need a closure to the story, my dad is doing awesome and he’s actually here. Like God was with them through that whole thing. God brought us through that. He was there.
I want you to hear me, that verse is so powerful and it rings so true because it was written from a place of truth. David wrote that, he had total confidence in God that no matter what he was facing God was with him. David, he was the guy who killed the giant, who went from being a shepherd boy to being a commander in the king’s army and saw tens of thousands of his enemies fall at his feet. His life was going so great. Everything was going so well, he was so successful that even the king became jealous of him and tried to kill him and sent him on the run for years of his life. Yet even there, David had confidence in his God. See, David was always more confident in the God who was surrounding him than the enemy he was facing. He knew that even there God was with him. So what about you? What situation are you going to put before God?
Because I can tell you His answer. Even there. Whatever you bring, students your life is crazy right now. There is so much going that has turned your life upside down. You might be failing in class, you might be struggling on that team, you might be dealing with some relationships in your life that are just hard. Man, God says, even there. Mom, dad who have that student, you’re just overwhelmed at the end of the day even trying to raise your kids, God says even there. Maybe your marriage is ripped apart, maybe you’ve been single for a long time you just feel alone. God says, even there. Finances are a mess, you’ve lost your job, you’re facing that doctor’s report that have you wrecked. God says, even there. Listen to me, actually not even me. I hope you hear the Holy Spirit right now. That no matter what you’re facing this week, no matter what news pops up in front of you, no matter what you’re facing.
Wherever you find yourself that you can’t see your way through, whatever has left you feeling helpless and hopeless, the Holy Spirit’s whispering even there. My hand will guide you, my strength will support you. Even there.
So will you close your eyes with me, bow your head and let’s just take a second. Just ask the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit what do you want to speak to me? You see through these stories He’s writing a story in your life. He actually wants to speak to you also, he has an Insta story for you right now as we just say, Holy Spirit, what do you want to speak to me? He’s going to begin to speak to your heart. Maybe right now He’s just speaking to you and reminding you that you can do hard things. He can help you set your face forward to the future to walk forward with Jesus into whatever those things are. Maybe He’s reminding you, do not fear, I’m holding you, I’m with you. For somebody right now you can just feel him holding you placing a hand upon your life right now it’s the goodness of God he’s touching you, he’s with you. For somebody else it may be a season where you realize, man, I haven’t actually been searching for God. I’ve been searching everywhere else except for where He is, what He’s about, what He has for me. It’s time to seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.
And then finally maybe for you it’s just — just those two words even there. Even there he is with you. What’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you? Thank you Jesus that every word you speak is spirit and it is life. Thank you Jesus that we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony, these testimonies today speaking the stories that you’ve been speaking. We look to you God to guide us, we look to your voice in our life to give us life. We thank you for the stories that you’re writing in our hearts and in the Valley Creek family. And we continue to lean in with open ears to what you want to speak. Thank you Jesus, your voice is good, it leads us, it guides us and it fills our life with your life. We value your voice today. In your name, amen. Amen