Taking New Ground Together


This year, our theme is Pioneer. A pioneer is someone who goes into the unknown with God for the good of others and to bring glory to God. We will take new ground in our relationships, our finances, our spirits, our minds, our cities, our region, and our hearts. God created us to pioneer (Genesis 1:28). If we are not pioneering, we are not living out our purpose. God is inviting us to take ground to expose the giants in our heads and set us free. We can’t allow the giants’ roar to defeat God’s whisper.


Alright, hey everybody! Happy New Year! I am so glad that you are here with us at the beginning of a new year. Whatever campus you’re at, whether you’re in Denton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, the venue and extension site, watching or listening online somewhere in the world, can we just give each other a great big New Year’s welcome together? I am so glad that you are here with us at the beginning of the new year. And I hope you had a great Christmas, a great New Year. I hope you had time to rest, to get refreshed, to just enjoy your family a little bit, and to reflect on the goodness of God in your life. And it’s a new year, which means new beginnings, fresh starts, new opportunities, a new year of the freshness of the grace and mercy of Jesus for your life. And just like God carried you through 2018, He’s going to carry you through in 2019. It’s going to be a good year. And before we jump into the year, what I want to encourage you with is don’t allow yesterday’s disappointments to become tomorrow’s expectations.

As we start this new year, don’t take all your disappointments and all your frustrations, and all the things that didn’t go well last year and then project them into this year and expect them to happen. What I’m trying to say to you is don’t bring your expectations down to your experiences. Bring your expectations up to the goodness of God. Like start this year and expect the goodness of God! Expect God to be with you! Expect God to be for you! Expect God to speak to you, and love you, and provide for you, and be with you, and bless you! Expect God to be good to you this year. See, that’s hope. Hope is the confident expectation of the goodness of God, regardless of what I’ve experienced in the past. And the best way to start a new year is with hope. You see, Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you.”

It’s a great verse. We use that verse a lot of times in churches at the beginning of a new year. It says, put God first. He’ll take care of the rest. And we all kind of like that verse. And we kind of nod. We’re like, yeah, yeah, and this is going to be the year. I’m going to put God first. His leadership and His grace in my life, kingdom and righteousness. I’m going to position myself to receive God’s leadership and His grace. And we have these great intentions. But then we kind of get into the new year and it all gets wonky. We kind of fall off the tracks. We’re not really sure what to do and how to get back on. So what does it look like to practically put God first at the beginning of the year? Really simple. Here’s what I would say to you; just couple of really fast things. Number one is just join us on our reading plan. We got a new reading plan for you this year. It worked so well last year that we’re going to do it again this year, a chapter a day— A chapter a day, not to find out what you have to do for God, but to discover what Jesus has already done for you! And the beauty is you get behind, don’t catch up. Just start fresh on that day.

Second thing I would say to you is join us at our Tuesday night prayer. All through January and February, every Tuesday night for 45 minutes. That’ll be it; 45 minutes, and then it’s over. Come, and let’s put God first, and invite Him to move in our lives, and talk to Him, and listen to Him. The third thing I would tell you is if you practically want to position yourself for God’s leadership and grace in your life, is give on the first weekend of the year. Even if it’s a few bucks, what you’re doing is you’re saying, God, this year, money is not my god, you’re my God. And I’m not seeking that. I’m seeking you.” And then the last thing I would say is just decide in your heart today that if you’re in town, you’re going to be here. You’re like, but what if the Cowboys are playing? Or what if — you know, all those things. Okay, regardless of if the Cowboys are playing or not, if you’re sick or not, if you don’t feel great or you’re tired, or your kids have this or it’s been a long week, or you’re depressed or discouraged, when you make a commitment to say, I’m going to be here, what you’re saying is you’re saying, God, I want to know you, I want to be with you, I want to hear from you, I want to become like you, and I want to be on mission with you. And I don’t feel it today. But I got faith that if I show up, you’re going to do something in my life. That’s practically—

That’s practically how you put God first. Because I’ll tell you what, on most Sunday mornings when most of us wake up, it’s like, if you’re asking yourself, should I go to church or not, you’re probably not going to go! Make that decision before that question needs to be asked. You see, Romans 12:1 says, in light of God’s mercy, His goodness and His grace in our lives, let us offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. In other words, start the year by submitting and surrendering. Say, Jesus, I belong to you. Because here’s the deal, I believe this is going to be the best year in the history of our church. And if it’s going to be a big year for our church, it means it’s going to be a big year for you, because you are Valley Creek Church. You see, we start most years together as a church by talking about our theme for the year. Most years, we have a theme, a big idea of vision for that year that we build everything around. We spend a lot of time seeking God, asking for wisdom. As the year winds down, we start saying, okay, God, what do you want to do in that next year? And as we hear His voice, we build everything we do for the entire next year around that theme or that big idea. And when we have a theme or a word from God, there’s a special grace or a favor on it for our family, if we’ll lean into it. There’s a special favor on the word for the year that God gives our family if you’ll lean into it. I mean, just think about the Bible. When those letters were written to the church at Ephesus and the church at Colossae, and the Romans and the Galatians, there was a special favor on that word for that family. The truth applied to everybody. But in that time, in that season, there was a favor for that word for those people. And the same is true for us.

You see, Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Another translation says, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” So catch it. A vision is a revelation from God that constrains you. A vision is something that God reveals to you, a direction and area He wants you to focus on, that becomes like guardrails in your life that keep you from wandering to the left and to the right, keeps you moving in His direction, and it says there is a blessing for all who are willing to hear it and lean into it. And so this year, our theme for 2019 is Pioneer. Our theme for 2019 is Pioneer. This is the year we’re going to take new ground together. Now I have no idea what you think of when you hear the word Pioneer. When I say the word Pioneer, I’m just telling you there is something inside me that comes alive! I love pioneers! I love the concept of pioneering.

Maybe you think of Columbus who pioneered America. Maybe you think of Lewis and Clark who pioneered the West. Maybe you think of Martin Luther King who pioneered civil rights. Maybe you think of Neil Armstrong who pioneered space and walking on the moon. When you think of pioneers, they’re described with words like bold, adventurous risk takers, faith, initiative, courage, the unknown. You see pioneers, they go broaden the horizon, they go around the next corner, they’re willing to climb the highest mountains, go to the deepest oceans. They’re not willing to settle for what is. They want to go further and farther than those before them. They blaze new trails and they create the future. You see, they refuse to allow the disappointments of the past to become the expectation of the future. And so what they’re willing to do is go into the unknown, to discover new things for the glory of God. See pioneers’ favorite verses in the Bible are verses like this, “With God all things are possible.” Pioneers actually believe that if God is for us, no one can be against us.

They believe the verse when God says, “I will give you every place you set your foot.” They believe that we are more than conquerors through Christ, who loves us. You see a definition of a pioneer is simply this. A pioneer is someone who moves into the unknown with God, for the good of others, and the glory of God. That’s all it is. A pioneer is someone who moves forward with God, into the unknown, for the good of others and the glory of God. Like pioneers have in their heart the desire to see His kingdom come, His will be done. They want to see everything submitted and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. They’re willing to go into the unknown, so others can live in the known. They’re willing to lay down their lives, so other people can live in freedom. They’re willing to give up or risk what they’ve got, so other people can have a better life. And so this year, we’re going to pioneer. We’re going to pioneer and take new ground in our lives, in our church, in our city, and in our culture. And I know some of you are sitting here, you’re like, pioneer? This feels like history class. What does that even mean? Listen, to pioneer just means to take new ground, to move forward, to increase, advance, or expand. Don’t you want to do that in your own life?

Like we’re going to take ground in our lives, in our thoughts, our attitudes, our heart, our faith, our finances, our relationships. We’re going to take ground in our church. We’re going to move forward in our unity and our maturity, and especially in our passion and in our purpose. We’re going to take ground in the city by seeking the peace and the prosperity of the city. And we’re going to take ground in the world’s culture, by bringing God’s systems into worldly ways. We’re going to take ground together. You see whether you realize this or not, you were created a pioneer. Within your very DNA is the spirit of a pioneer because you are made in the image and likeness of the ultimate pioneer. See, everything in creation was pioneered by God. “In the beginning was God.” So everything that exists was pioneered by Him, the Sun, the Moon, the stars, the Earth, the plants, the animals; us. He pioneered us. And when He came down and scraped the dirt together, and put Adam’s body together, and breathed life into Adam, in that moment, He breathed the spirit of a pioneer into Adam. And then the first thing He told him is Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it [using its vast resources in the service of God and man].” He says Adam, pioneer! Just be fruitful, bring things to the fullness of their potential, multiply, reproduce the life of Me – the life that I’ve given you into the world around you.

Fill the earth, go beyond the Garden of Eden, beyond your comfort, beyond your convenience, to the ends of the Earth, with the glory of the goodness of God. Subdue things, bring order to chaos, bring hope to darkness, bring the light to the chaos that’s out there, and use what I’ve given you to accomplish my purposes in the lives of men. He says, Adam, pioneer! You see, you come from a long line of pioneers. You got to think about this. Noah was a pioneer, because He built the first boat in a desert before it rained. That’s a pioneer. Abraham pioneered, when He got up and went with God to a place, He had no idea where He was going. Joshua and the Israelites pioneered the promised land. David pioneered a New Testament relationship with God, in the midst of the Old Testament. The disciples pioneered life in the Holy Spirit, Peter pioneered the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul pioneered the gospel to the ends of the Earth. And Jesus, the ultimate Pioneer, pioneered your life!

Listen to this. Hebrews Chapter 2, it says, “For now Jesus towers above all creation, for all things exist through Him and for Him. And God made Him [Jesus], pioneer of our salvation, perfect through his sufferings, for this is how He brings many sons and daughters to share in his glory. Jesus, the Holy One, makes us holy.” Are you kidding me?! Jesus pioneered our salvation. You know what that means? He went out and took all the ground that needed to be taken; sin, shame, death, the grave, and separation from God. So we don’t have to pioneer our salvation. All we have to do is enjoy it, experience it, and embrace it. He went into the darkest parts of the world. And He brought victory for us to enjoy. And if you’re included in Christ, then everything that’s true about Jesus, is true about you. So if the Bible tells us “He’s a pioneer”, that means you’re a pioneer. It’s who you are. That’s why Jesus in John 20 says, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” I was sent to pioneer. Now you go and pioneer. That’s why Matthew 28, “Make disciples to the ends of the earth. Pioneer all around the globe.” or Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you’ll be my witnesses; you’ll be pioneers to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” In other words, if God sends you to pioneer, He empowers you to pioneer. And He’s given you a supernatural grace in order to take ground in the kingdom of darkness, in your life, in our church, in our city, and in our culture, for the good of others and the glory of God.

Now hear me. Until everything is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, there’s more pioneering to do. Until Earth reflects the fullness of heaven; until your life, my life, and everything in this world is submitted and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, there is pioneering work to be done. And that’s our purpose. So you are made to move mountains, to walk on water, and to fight giants. And the Holy Spirit wants to lead you into a great adventure. But if you’re not pioneering, you’re dying. Hey, you might be alive, but you’re not living. I mean, a great example of this is the story of the Israelites. Do you remember the story? Four hundred years of Egyptian slavery, God sets them free through some of the greatest signs and wonders ever been done on the face of the earth. And through supernatural grace, He carries them all the way to the edge of the Jordan River. And on the other side of the Jordan River is the promised land. Promised, it means it’s theirs, it belongs to them, all they got to do is go and take it.

And so they send in 12 spies to go check out the land, and they come back, and two of the spies are like, “It’s ours. Let’s do it.” But 10 of them are in like full blown panic. It says, “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there… Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” And so the people panic. They wanted to kill Moses and go back to Egypt. And they say, they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Like, are you serious, guys?! It’s the promised land! It belongs to you. All you got to do is go and take it by faith. See, God wanted them to go and fight the giants. So the next generation could spend their lives in peace. What you need to understand is that what we pioneer by faith, the next generation gets to enjoy by sight.

What we pioneer, the ground we take by faith, is ground that then the next generation gets to grow up in and enjoy by sight. You say, well, I’m not trying to take land in the Middle East. No, but you’re probably trying to take land in your life, for your next generation. So maybe you need to take some ground by faith, maybe it’s a healthy marriage. Maybe it’s a vibrant faith, maybe it’s financial freedom, or being committed and involved in one church. Or maybe it’s having a healthy home. Maybe it’s breaking all those dark generational cycles that have been repeated generation after generation in your family that you say, enough is enough. I’m going to pioneer it by faith, so my children can grow up and enjoy it by sight. The problem was – the problem was, they didn’t have the faith to take it because they forgot who they were. It says they thought they were grasshoppers. They are not grasshoppers; they are beloved sons and daughters.

But the problem is if you think you’re a grasshopper, you will never have the courage to pioneer. They forgot who they were. They forgot God was with them. So they had no courage to move forward. You see, if you think you’re a grasshopper, you forget that God is with you, you will never have the courage to take new ground, because who you are determines what you do. But if you believe you’re a beloved son or daughter, and the father is with you, you can’t help but pioneer and move forward for other people’s good and for His glory. Hear me. If you think you’re a grasshopper, you’ll spend your life getting squashed. If you feel like your whole life everyone’s stepping on you, you probably have an identity issue. But when you believe you’re a beloved son or daughter, you’ll spend your life squashing giants. So here’s the question: Are you getting squashed? Or are you squashing giants? Because that tells you exactly what you believe about you. Are you with me on this?

You see, you have to understand. In the promised land, yes, there were giants! There were real giants out there. But the bigger giants were in here. You see, the Giants we fight are not the Giants out there. They are the giants in here. It’s never those Giants. It’s these giants. The giants are pride, doubt, fear, insecurity, anxiety, stress, ungodly beliefs, impossibility. It’s the giants in here that keep us from living the life that God has for us out there. And it’s amazing how dormant these giants stay until you try to take a step forward. See, the Israelites didn’t even know they had the giants in here until they were supposed to take a step forward. And then those giants woke up and started to roar. Do you ever notice that in life? You can stay comfortable and convenient. The moment you try to move forward in anything, it’s like all the giants, R-O-O-O-A-R, like come alive.

You know what I’m talking about? Yeah, because they’re not going to give up their ground easily. So they start to roar! They start to try to create fear in your life. So you turn around and go back. And what’s amazing to me is God doesn’t need us to take the land out there. Like, you get that, right? But it’s done. That’s how fast He can do it. But He invites us to pioneer things out there. So He can pioneer the giants in here. He invites us to move forward to expose the dysfunction in here, so we can set you free. I mean, listen to this. Second Corinthians 10 says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.” The giants are out there, but the weapons – I mean there are giants out there, but the real giants are in here. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” It says the real battle is not out there, the battle is in here.

So how do you win the battle? Well, in here is the stronghold. You say, what’s a stronghold? A stronghold is anything that has a strong hold on you. It’s where the Giants live. In a stronghold, a giant is anything that is not submitted to the finished work of Jesus. So what thought in your mind is in rebellion to the finished work of Jesus? The way you defeat these giants is by refusing to agree with them. Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto me.” He’s already defeated all the giants. So then why does it feel like giants rule and reign in our life? Because we agree with them. You have to choose to agree with God’s whisper, more than the Giants’ roar, if you ever want to move forward in life. It’s not the Giants out there. It’s the giants in here that keep us moving forward. The giants that say, “I can’t, I won’t, I’m not.” And God whispers all the while, “But I am, I can, and I will.” And the quietest Whisper from God has more authority than the loudest giants’ roar in your mind. The problem was they listened to the Giants’ roar, instead of the Whisper of God. So they turned around and they went back into the desert, and they wandered for 40 years. The moment you refuse to pioneer, you choose to wander. You’re either pioneering or you’re wandering. You’re moving forward or backward, you’re taking new ground, or you’re giving up old ground; there’s no neutral. I wish there was. I hate to break your bubble. But the truth is you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward. And we were never meant to wander in dry and arid places.

Sometimes God will lead you through them on the way to the next mountain. But if you’re spending your life wandering in that space, you have to stop and ask yourself, this is not where God wants me to be. Unless He’s leading you somewhere, and you’re following. This is not the life, so am I not pioneering somewhere? Because if I refuse to pioneer, I choose to wander. And you see this with people all the time. God invites them to move forward in their marriage, their career, their calling, their faith, their belief, their generosity, whatever it might be. But because they refuse to move forward, they choose to wander. And they start to die. Because you’re dead without purpose. See the Israelites, 40 years in the desert, and then they dropped dead. But they didn’t die 40 years later, they died the day they refused to pioneer. They just had to walk the rest of that death sentence out. Can I tell you, some of you are living a death sentence, wandering in dry and arid places that God doesn’t want you to be! He wants you to move forward. You were never meant to retreat. You’re meant to increase and advance.

Like listen to this, Jesus says – He says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Here’s what He says. Jesus says He is the narrow gate that leads to a wide life. But the world is the wide gate that leads to a narrow life. Jesus says He is a very small gate, it’s very narrow. There’s only one way in through the name of Jesus. But then it’s an ever-widening life from that point on. The world is a very wide gate and says come one come all and the world gets you in that funnel. And then it becomes a very narrow and small life. So here’s the question. Do you feel at the beginning of this year, like your life is big, spacious, advancing and increasing? Or do you feel like your life is small and narrow, shrinking and you’re stuck? It’s one or two options if you feel like that. Either you’ve never gone through the narrow gate called Jesus, or you’ve gone through, and then you’ve decided to sit down. Because Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to an ever-widening life.

The kingdom is your inheritance, but you have to go explore it. So maybe, it’s time to pioneer. Maybe, it’s time to pioneer, again. Because maybe some of you, you were moving forward until your marriage fell apart, until your heart got broke, until you lost that job, until that sickness came. And the Giants roar, caused you to turn and start wandering. Maybe today is the day to say, I’m ready to pioneer, again. So that’s what we’re going to do this year. You with me on that? We’re kind of – we’re kind of excited! We’re not really sure. But there’s a favor on that, if you’ll lean into it in life. And so let me just give you some just kind of reference points, for here’s what this looks like to be a pioneer; couple of thoughts for you. First thing is this: Pioneers believe there’s always more. At the end of the day, pioneers are not interested in the status quo. They don’t hold on to comfort and convenience. They aren’t interested into keeping what they’ve got. They never believe this is as good as it gets. They always believe the best is yet to come. So can I just tell you something today? This is not as good as it gets. This is not. For your life, our church, this city, the culture around us. It’s not. In fact, here’s what I would say to you. To live in your glory days is demonic. Now, let me explain that to you. Some of you are like, Bro, that’s harsh!

Okay. You know what the glory days are, right. Like, oh, back when I played football, everything was amazing! Or, when I had that old job, life was so good! Or, when we used to have a church choir, the presence of God was always there! [laughs] Okay, time out. Number one, you probably weren’t all that good at football anyways. Number two, you probably complained when you had that job too. And number three, the Bible says, “Sing a new song to the Lord.” So maybe there’s a new thing. And here’s the deal; if you want to live in your glory days, what you’re saying is “God was good to me then, but he’s not good to me now.” That’s demonic. Your glory days are not behind you. They are in front of you. The Bible says, “The kingdom has come, but more of it is coming.” The Bible says, “We go from glory to glory, from victory to victory.” The Bible says that Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to an ever-widening life; that He wants to do immeasurably more than you could even ask or imagine. The problem is we get focused on the past, so we cannot see the future. This is why, Isaiah 43 God says, “Forget all that, forget all of the things in the past. It is nothing compared to the more I’m going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I’ve already begun! Do you not see it?” I don’t think most of us get focused on the negative of the past. I think we get trapped in the “what was” of the past. And He says, “The reason you can’t see the more I want to give you, is because you’re looking to what was, so you can’t see what is.”

But hear me. There’s more. There’s more. There’s more love to give, and life to experience, and grace to receive, and presence to encounter, and kingdom to release, and songs to birth, and books to write, and arts to create, and businesses to have, and friendships to create, and adventures to live, and mysteries to discover, and things to do, and places to go, and miracles to receive, and storms to come, and life to live. There’s more. There’s more. There’s more for you. There’s more for our church, our city, and our culture. But until you believe there is more, you will never move past where you are. Second thing is this; pioneers navigate by prayer. Hear me. This is hugely important. Pioneers take risks, but they are not reckless. Pioneers advance, but they have no selfish ambition.

Pioneers move forward, but they never go on their own. They are deeply connected to the heart of God. They don’t care what everyone else says or thinks. They don’t care what they want, what they feel. They’re not listening to the world. They’re asking, listening and responding to the voice of God. Like Jesus, they only want to go where they see Jesus, the father going, and do what they see the Father doing. They are deeply connected to God’s voice. You see, think of a jungle pioneer for a second. Imagine going to the Amazon. And you’re trying to pioneer through a jungle that’s so thick, you can barely see your hand in front of your face. How do you pioneer that? You need a compass, you set a bearing, and you say we’re just going in this direction, no matter what. And you just keep tracking forward. Okay, well, the question is, how do you pioneer in the jungle of this world? The jungle of this world that wants to sink you and attack you and overwhelm you and cover you. How do you pioneer? Listen; God’s voice is your compass. And the Holy Spirit is your guide. And He will help you navigate what ground you’re supposed to take.

Psalms 32, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” That’s a verse to hold on for a new year. You see, it’s in pioneering where you’re desperately dependent upon the Holy Spirit. And it’s right where God always wants you. And pioneers are willing to respond whether God asked them to take a bold risk, or a small step. Because he’s their navigation source. And so here’s the question. Have you asked God what ground He wants you to take this year? You should ask Him. Maybe it’s ground in your marriage, ground in your parenting, it’s ground in your education, in your calling, in your thought life, in your purity, in your holiness, in your finances, in your purpose, in your ministry. I don’t know. But ask Him. And I can almost guarantee, whatever ground he’s going to ask you to take, it’s going to feel like you’re facing an impossible mountain.

You’re like, can’t you make it a little easier, something else? No. But remember, you were created to move mountains. Mark 11, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what He says will happen, it will be done for Him.” Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it and it shall be yours. If He calls you to move mountains, He empowers you to move mountains. And so, ask God what ground He wants you to take, and then ask Him to help you take it. We discover the mountain, we climb the mountain, and we move the mountain with Jesus. And so this year, we’re going to move some mountains, in your life, in our church, in this city, and in the culture. Third thing is this; pioneers walk by faith. If you’re going to pioneer and expect to do it by sight, you’re sorely mistaken. At the end of the day, the whole concept of pioneering is faith, because you’re going into the unknown.

It took faith for Noah to build the ark, faith for Abraham to get up and go, faith for Moses to confront Pharaoh, faith for Jesus to go to the Cross. And it’ll take faith for you, if you want to take any ground. If you want to live by sight, then just make a decision to say, I’m totally content with the expansive nature of my life. Because if you’re going to go beyond the boundaries or beyond the borders, it’s going to require faith. That’s why Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is the belief that there is more of the goodness of God out there. Even though I can’t see it. And I’m going to choose to walk by faith, Second Corinthians 5, not by sight. Our problem is like the Israelites, we do everything by sight. We see the giants; the giants are real. No one’s denying that. We see the giants, and then we panic, and we go back. But if you’re always focused on the giant in front of you, you’re forgetting to focus on the God who was with you. I mean, pioneering and faith go hand in hand. Why? Because it’s about embracing the unknown by trusting in the goodness of God. And it’s in the midst of the unknown, where you most easily discover the God who wants to be known. See, if you want to know God this year, pioneer. You say, what? Yeah, step out of your comfort and your convenience, and your routine, and everything that you’ve got. Take one step into the unknown, you’ll be amazed at how fast you become like, Jesus! And God’s like, “Yep, this is where I’ve been trying to get you. So you’ll actually look at me.” Because guess what, when you’re a settler, you know where the fences are, you know how everything works, and you can control it all. You’re not actually in control. You think you are, which is silly anyways, because the giants could jump over that fence anytime, you know. [Gestures and makes sounds] That kind of thing. And then you’re like, I’m so surprised! What happened! And God’s like, “I know. I’ve been telling you for a long time. Let’s go kill those giants.” Okay, that’s how the whole thing works. Then He says, “But now you’re crying out to me. So now I got you back. So we’re good.” That’s a prophetic word for somebody—today, right?

You don’t have to understand to obey. It doesn’t have to make sense to move forward. It doesn’t have to be clear to follow. Pioneering is about following God off the map of your life. Off the map. So what’s the map? The map is what I expect, what I know, what I can control, what other people have told me, what the world says. But when you walk off the map, what you’re saying is God, wherever you’re taking me, it’s better than where I’ve been. And you’re never too young to pioneer, and you’re never too old to pioneer. Because who told you, you are too young to have an impact, and who told you, you are too old to have a purpose? This year, we’re going to walk by faith; in our lives, in our church, in our city, in our culture. And the last thing is this; pioneers are passionate about the glory of God.

At the end of the day, the only thing pioneers care about, is seeing “His kingdom come His will be done.” They want to see all things submitted and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. They want to see their lives, their homes, their neighborhoods, their governments, their friends, everything in their life. Because they believe all things were created by God and for God. So they’re willing to move into the unknown. Because remember what a pioneer is. A pioneer moves forward into the unknown for the good of others in the glory of God. So they don’t care who gets the credit. They want God to get the glory. Pioneers don’t have the selfish ambition. They’re not trying to build a personal brand. They’re trying to advance the Kingdom of God. And so if you’re sitting here, and you’re hearing me talk about pioneer, and you’re like, yeah, this is the year for everything I want, you’re really not listening to anything I’m saying. That’s another prophetic word for someone else here today. Why? Because pioneering is not taking ground for you. Pioneers are taking ground for them. Because pioneers are basically saying, I’m willing to give up my life so other people can have freedom.

Listen to what Paul says, “It is my honor and constant passion to be a pioneer who preaches where no one has ever even heard of the name Jesus, the Anointed One, instead of building on someone else’s foundation.” Staying in a place that’s already settled. As the Scriptures say, “Those who know nothing about Him will clearly see Him, and those who have not heard will respond.” Paul says, “It is an honor and a passion to take the name of Jesus to places where it has not yet received.” He says, “It’s my life purpose to bring the Kingdom of God to places where it is not yet wanted.” See, at the end of the day, pioneering is about bringing all things into submission and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. It’s about getting every wild, unruly, rebellious thing and bringing it under the Lordship of Jesus. So it will be fruitful and life giving. That includes your heart. I know some of you are sitting here, and you’re like, really? The theme for this year is pioneer? What about my life? What about my pain, and my brokenness, and my problems? Okay, I know! Me too.

Here’s the deal. When the people of God take ground together, the individuals of God find freedom for their own life. If you will take ground for other people to enjoy, you will find the freedom that you are so desperately craving in your own life. Think of the disciples. They were dysfunctional. And then Jesus invites them to pioneer with Him, and all of a sudden, they start taking ground for other people. And John goes from being the guy with the anger problem, to be known as the Apostle of Love. You got an anger issue, you don’t know how to get over, start taking ground for other people. You’d be amazed at what happens. Peter goes from being the guy you could never count on, to being known as the Steady Rock. You feel like you’re the drama queen at all times in your life. Start pioneering for other people, you’d be amazed at what happens. Matthew, the guy who loved money, became the guy who gave his life away. You feel like money is your God, an idol in your life, everything is about more money, more status, more success. Start pioneering for other people, you’ll finally get free of that idol, that God that’s trying to tear you down.

See you’re made to pioneer. You’re made to move mountains, to walk on water, and fight giants. And hear me; if you don’t move mountains, you will start to worship them. If you don’t move mountains, you’ll start to worship the insecurities, the brokenness, the addictions, the dysfunctions in your life. They’ll become your God. You’ll worship it, because you don’t move it. If you don’t walk on water, you’ll fall asleep in the boat, and life will pass you by. And if you don’t fight giants, you’ll make the people in your life giants, and you’ll start fighting them, because you were made to fight giants. Hear me; you’ll make your spouse a giant. You’ll make your kids a giant. You’ll make your boss, your friends, the people in this church. If you’re not fighting giants out there, you will pick the people in your life to – you want to have a better marriage, start going on mission together, because otherwise I promise you, you’re making each other giants. Listen to me. This is why people go into crazy brawls in the middle of McDonald’s! Like, what is happening?!

The human spirit is hardwired to fight giants. So if I don’t fight giants of darkness, I’ll make you a giant, and I will fight you. That’s how it works. See, you have to stop and ask yourself this question. What has been pioneered for you? Steve Jobs pioneered the iPhone. Bill Gates pioneered the internet, or maybe it was Al Gore; one of the two of them. You know! What else! I don’t know other things were pioneered for that one. [Laughs] Lewis and Clark pioneered the West. Columbus pioneered America. Martin Luther King, civil rights. Henry Ford, the car. The First Century Church, the Kingdom of God. Maybe it was a friend who pioneered faith for you, a family member who pioneered healthy finances for you, a coach or a boss who pioneered an opportunity for you. Someone in your life who pioneered spiritual revelation that then you were able to move in and enjoy. And the greatest thing that’s ever been pioneered for you is your heart. See, Jesus is the second Adam. Adam blew it. So Jesus came as the second Adam with the same commission. Only His Promised Land wasn’t a piece of ground, His promised land was this [Gestures to heart]. Be fruitful, Jesus came to bring your heart to the fullness of its potential, multiply. He came to reproduce the life of God in you. He came to subdue the giants of pride and fear and insecurity and idolatry and anxiety and lust and greed. And He came to use all of his resources, His life, to accomplish God’s purpose in your life. And just like Adam, when God breathed into Him, when the Holy Spirit gets breathed on you, the spirit of a pioneer fills up your lungs. And now this is your purpose. So what are you going to pioneer for others? What ground are you going to take for someone else to enjoy? If you’re confused by this whole thing, all it means is what are you going to clear out of the way, so it’s easier for other people to follow Jesus?

Dads – What ground are you going to pioneer for your family? What ground, besides money? Moms – What ground are you going to pioneer for your family? Students – What ground are you going to pioneer for other students? Group leaders, team members, mentors of the next generation – What are you going to pioneer for other people? Business owners, employees, people that work in the city – What are you going to pioneer? Where are you going to follow God, off the map, into the unknown? Take some ground, fight some giants, so that other people’s lives can be better. Because what we take by faith, they then get to enjoy by sight. Dad’s – you build this healthy spirituality in your life, that maybe your family never had. You’re a first-generation follower of Jesus, or your parents went to church, but it was lukewarm at best. You go and fight those giants, take that ground, and guess what – your kids start from that point. They don’t have to pioneer it by faith. They now grow up, and in 20 years, when they’re in church, they’re going to be like, I remember my dad actually raised his hands and worshipped Jesus in church.

Or they’re going to say, I remember my dad did this [arms gesture] and never wanted to go to church. So you’re pioneering something by faith. You’re either moving forward, or you’re settling and saying, this is the extent of the life I now want you to live. It’s – oh, I don’t have time. You hear what I’m saying? What we take, they get to start from. That is Kingdom living. That is a life of peace and purpose. Maybe I still don’t get it. Here’s all it means. Be bold, when you’re afraid. Take the next step that’s in front of you. Do the next right thing that’s sitting there, that you know you’re supposed to do. Give that thing away that you want to keep for yourself. That’s what we’re talking about. The greatest life you will ever live is discovering and demonstrating the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

The greatest adventures have yet to be lived. The greatest discoveries have yet to happen. The greatest miracles have yet to come to pass, the greatest pioneering has yet to be done. Why? Because Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to an ever-widening life. So we are all here today, because someone else pioneered a lot of this for us. We now get to pioneer, so the next generation gets to be even wider at their starting point than we are. So we’re going to pioneer. And the whole point of today is trying to position your heart to say, Jesus, give me courage and strength and grace. And help me move forward, this year. So Jesus, thank you, that you are the pioneer. You are the ultimate pioneer and you pioneered our heart. And so today, we say, we want to move forward. We want to be strong and courageous. We want to take new ground. We want to live a bigger, fuller life in You. Not just for us, but for the good of others and for the glory of God. So Lord, we tell you today, we want to move forward with you. Would you give us courage and grace and strength to pioneer? In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

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