Finding The True Riches of Life

Last week we talked initially about men’s desire for a life of significance. The fact that, at some point in our lives, we get to a point when we realize that we want more than just a successful career. That we want a life that counts for something more than just making money. That we desire for our lives to make a difference. That we desire for a life of significance. And we talked about the problem is, that most men never find that life. And the reason is because of the way our culture measures a man’s life. We talked about the fact that our manhood, in this culture, is measured by one criteria and that one criteria is how do you perform? What you achieve in this life. And so, what happens is, as men, we become driven to achieve. We become driven to perform. We become driven to win the approval of other people because, in our culture, this is how you measure a man’s life. To perform and impress the watching world. And what we concluded is this is the way most men, and this is where they get their significance in their lives, is by achieving and performing, and getting caught in what I call, “the success trap” or “the performance trap”. And then we talked about, and spent a good bit of time in talking about, how unhealthy it is to be caught in this trap. Because what it does, it leads to certain problems in our lives.

….we become addicted to impressing other men, other people. That our lives become so focused on impressing others. And what’s so interesting is we get focused on trying to impress people who, often, we don’t even like. 

And we looked at four of those problems, the first being is that we become addicted to impressing other men, other people. That our lives become so focused on impressing others. And what’s so interesting is we get focused on trying to impress people who, often, we don’t even like. We talked about the fear of taking risks, the fear of failing. And consequently, we often go through life, and we play it safe because we’re afraid to fail. And we talked about how elderly people, when they get to the end of their lives, that’s one of the great regrets that they have is, I wish I’d taken more risks in life. We talked about the devastation of what happens when you do fail. If you’re so caught in this trap, and you do fail, and we all will fail, one way or another, what happens to our lives and how devastating it can be, and we’re seeing that today, as businesses are struggling, as people are losing their jobs. All because we’re caught in this trap. This is where we get our worth and our significance from. And the last thing we talked about was the fear of rejection. And how this causes men to have such superficial relationships with each other, and I’m going to come back and talk about that again later.

And then we closed with a parable, if you’ll remember, and this is where I want to pick up this morning. And I’m going to read it again, because it leads right into what we want to talk about this morning. This is a parable out of the Bible. It’s about a businessman who was very successful. It’s probably my favorite parable in the Bible. It’s about, now I think what we did was, I told it, or retold it, in a modern setting. I’d heard a man share this, and I wrote it down because it was so effective, and even though it’s lengthened, because in the Bible, this parable is maybe five or six verses, but most importantly, this parable drives home the core point that Jesus is trying to make. And if you want to go back and read it yourself, it’s in Luke chapter 12, starting in verse 16, but I want to start this morning by picking up on that parable and then launching into the issue of what are the true riches in life.

This is the parable about a very successful man who owned a very successful business. Like many successful people, he was consumed with his work. He did what it took to get the job done. When he wasn’t working, his mind would always drift back to the business. At home, his wife was continually trying to get him to slow down, to spend more time at home. He was vaguely aware that the kids were growing up, and he was missing it, however, the kids had come to the point of not expecting much from their father. He would continually think to himself, I’ll be more available next year when things settle down. He, however, never seems to notice that things do not ever settle down. He continually reminds himself and his wife, I’m doing it for you and the kids. His wife bugs him about going to church, and he goes on occasion, but he prefers to sleep in because it’s the only day to do so. He would have more time for church when things settle down. One night, he felt a strange twinge of pain in his chest, and his wife rushes him to the hospital. He has suffered a mild heart attack, and his doctor informs him of the changes he must make in his lifestyle. So, he cuts down on the red meat and the ice cream, and begins an exercise program. Soon, he feels much better, and all the pain goes away.

Eventually, he lets things slide, reminding himself, I’ll get in better shape when things settle down. One day the CFO of his company comes in to see him. He is told by the CFO that their business is booming to the point that we cannot keep up with all the orders. We have the chance to strike the mother-lode if we can catch this wave. If we can catch this wave, we can be set for life. However, we need larger facilities, we need new equipment, and the new state of the art technology, and delivery systems to keep up with all the orders. So, the man becomes more consumed with his work. Every waking moment is devoted to this once in a lifetime opportunity. He tells his wife, you know what this means, don’t you? When I’m through with this new phase, I’ll be able to relax. We’ll be set for life. I have covered all the bases, prepared for every contingency. We’ll be financially secure and can finally take all those trips you’ve been wanting to go on. She, of course, had heard this before, so she didn’t get her hopes up too much. At about 11 o’clock that night, she tells her husband that she’s going up to bed and asks him if he was ready to go up with her. You go ahead, he said, I’ll be up in a minute. I have one thing I want to finish, as he sat in front of his computer. She goes up, falls asleep, and wakes up at 3 in the morning, and realizes her husband is not in bed.

She goes downstairs to get him and finds him asleep in front of the computer. She reaches out to wake him up, but his skin is cold. He doesn’t respond. She gets a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she dials 911. By the time the paramedics arrive, they tell her he died of a massive heart attack some hours ago. His death is the major item of discussion in the financial community. His extensive obituary was written up in all the papers. It’s a shame he was dead, for he would have loved to have read all the good things that were written about him. They have a memorial service for him, and because of his prominence, the whole community comes out for it. Several people get up to eulogize him at the service. One said, he was one of the leading entrepreneurs of the day. He was a real leader. Another said he was a real innovator in new technology and delivery systems. A third said he was a man of principle. He would never cheat anyone. It was noted by many that he was a pillar in the community, and was known and liked by everyone. His life was truly a success. And then they buried him, and they all went home.

And late that night, in the cemetery, an angel of God comes along and makes his way through all the markers and the tombstones and he stands before this man’s memorial tombstone, and he traces with his finger the single word that God has chosen to summarize this man’s life. And if you are familiar with this parable, you know what that one word is. That word is “you fool”. In fact, let me read you Jesus’ own words in describing this man’s life. He says, “You fool, this very night, your soul is required of you, and now who will own all that you have prepared. So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God, is not rich towards the things of God.” Or, as Jesus says in Luke 16:11, has not found the true riches of life. What Jesus is trying to tell us in this parable is that we are fools if all we do with our lives is have material success, but at the same time, are spiritually bankrupt.

So, this morning, what I want to do is to take a few minutes to talk about what are the true riches of life as identified by God. As I was preparing this, I read where Jonathan Edwards, a famous preacher, said this, “If you want to identify the true riches in your life, ask yourself this question, ‘What will be of value to you when you’re lying on your deathbed with only a few days or weeks to live?’” You know that question kind of cuts through a lot of things. The Bible identifies several treasures that God has identified as having great value. And I want to take a moment and talk to you about those this morning. And I guess I should say, as I introduce this, I guess it shouldn’t surprise anybody that these treasures have no dollar value attached to them. And I guess it really shouldn’t surprise you that they are treasures because of how much they will enrich our lives.

The first, I’m going to read to you from the book of Proverbs, the third chapter, starting in the 13th verse. “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver, and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” But I would focus on where it says, “nothing you desire compares with wisdom.”

You know, for so much of my life, the thought of being a person who acquired wisdom had great appeal, but I never really quite understood what is wisdom? What is wisdom? J.I. Packer, the famous Anglican priest defines wisdom as, “The power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goals in life together with the surest means of attaining it”. You know, if you think about it, wisdom is an ability to understand life in its complexities. Wisdom provides insight into the principles of life that God has woven into our earthly existence. And Proverbs 24:14 says, “Wisdom is thus for the soul; wisdom brings depth and substance to our souls which enables us to live a full and rich life.” Now, you can see why Solomon says, “Nothing you desire compares with the value of wisdom.” But, you know what’s unfortunate, guys, we live in a time, we live in a culture, we live in a modern world that seems to deemphasize the importance of wisdom. Primarily because of all of the distractions and all of the frenetic pace that we have, which doesn’t seem to allow for deep thought and reflection.

There was an article, a little over a year ago, in The Wall Street Journal, written by a guy, Anthony O’Hare. He’s director of Britain’s Royal Academy of Philosophy, and he wrote a real interesting article in The Journal, and the basic premise is this: modern man hates solitude. He says, “Whether it’s your television, your PC, your laptop, your Palm pilot, your cell phone, your Walkman, whatever it is, modern people are in a desperate search for diversion.” A desperate search for diversion. Diversion from what? He says, “So that they don’t have to reflect on the important issues of life.” And if you read the article, the bottom line, he says, is this. “Modern man leads shallow lives. Modern man leads a shallow life.”

A book that I read a couple of years ago by a guy named Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves to Death, is considered one of the great books written in the 1980s as a social commentary. In fact, The Washington Post says, “It’s a brilliant, powerful important book, but it’s a brutal indictment on our culture.” And the subtitle is “Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.” And he focuses on what has happened to our lives as a result of the television, the movies, all the videos, all the things that are forced into our lives, and, the best part of the book to me, ironically, was the Foreword, wherein the Foreword of the book, he contrasts two classics, both written as kind of futuristic novels.

One, that many of you were probably required to read back in high school, was George Orwell’s 1984, which was written in 1949. And, what they were predicting was that “Big Brother” was going to take over. You know, out of this fear that we had of Communism. And, he talks about another book that was written in 1932 by Aldous Huxley called Brave New World, which is also about the future. But the difference is, instead of being oppressed by “Big Brother” we would be controlled by pleasure. Now, let me read to you the Foreword. It’s fascinating.

In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain, but in Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

He says, “We were all keeping our eyes on that year, 1984. When the year came and prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. Communism had not taken over the United States and the West. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another, slightly older, slightly less well-known, equally chilling book, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common believe even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophecy the same thing. Orwell, in 1984, warns that we will be overcome by an externally opposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no “Big Brother” is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history.  As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that will undo their capacity to think and to reflect. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and self-centeredness. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. You know, ‘who cares?’ Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared that we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with how we feel. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain, but in Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” And then Postman goes on to say, “This book is about the possibility that Huxley, and not Orwell, was right.” He even goes on, ironically, to talk about the fact that we live our lives for entertainment and amusement, and then he breaks down that word “amuse”. In Latin, if you take “amuse” and break it down, “a” means “without”. Kind of like amoral, without morals. “Muse” means “to think”, and he says, “To be amused literally means to function without thought. And that is my great fear today is that we lead superficial lives, focused on trivial things, and we kind of function without thought.”

I read to our Bible study group some months ago this statement and I want to read it to you now. It says, “Shallowness means no depth. It’s an apt description of the modern American man. To be shallow is to live for the moment, without giving much thought to the legacy one leaves behind. It is to pursue the easy way in life instead of the road less traveled. The love of wisdom and knowledge is extinguished and replaced by the love of pleasure and comfort.” Blaise Pascal best describes the tragedy of the shallow man in that it is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. Ultimately, to be shallow is to squander the life God has given you. So, the question that I would pose this morning is, how important is wisdom in your life? I think it’s important to recognize this. When we talk about wisdom, it’s important to realize this: that God is the Source of all spiritual wisdom in this life. In Colossians, we are told, in Him, and we’re talking about Christ, “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In John chapter 1, verse 9, you’ll probably be reading it, or hearing this in your churches as we enter the Christmas season, where it says, Jesus was the true light, which, coming into the world, came to enlighten every man. So, again, let me ask you, how important is wisdom in your life?

The second treasure that God identifies, and I’m going to kind of group them together, he talks about the value of the marriage relationship. He talks about that special value between a parent and the children. He talks about the significance of having friends that are as close as brothers. The Bible is replete with verses that focus on the value of human relationships. The human relationship that God has given us. Because, you know, we are designed, guys, to be relational. That’s the way we were made. We were designed to have intimate relationships with others. You know, if that wasn’t true, there would be no such thing as loneliness. Loneliness would not exist. It would not plague us as it does, but, as it stands, so many people in this culture live lonely lives, which is a reflection of the lack of intimacy. You’ve probably heard this cliché. God made us to love people and to use things, and unfortunately, we’ve turned that on its head, but we have come to love things and to use people. Somehow, we’ve come to believe that things, and more things, is what will enrich our lives. But you know, the problem is, that they can’t enrich our lives because they diminish in enjoyment over time. I just read a book called Culture Shift, and in it, the author, in one of the chapters on “The World of Discontentment that We Live In”, hones in on this. It’s pretty interesting. He says, “Have you ever noticed that there’s a pattern when we buy something new? Whether it’s just a new CD, a new pair of hiking boots, a new suit, a new car, a new home. It doesn’t matter. It always happens the same way. When we first get whatever it is, there is this energy. We have this excitement. It wakes us up. It makes us alive. But then, after a while, usually a pretty short while, there is a kind of sleep dissatisfaction that comes over us. This new thing that we’ve bought doesn’t feel new anymore. And it doesn’t bring that energy anymore. It becomes familiar, normal, ordinary, and soon, it blends in with everything else that we own, and then we’re restless again, and we need to go out and buy something new.”

How do you make love stay in a relationship? What’s interesting is that God doesn’t desire and intend for love to stay. He intends for it to grow over time, in richness and beauty, and in intimacy, and in enjoyment and in love. That’s His desire. That’s why our relationships are such treasures of great value.

You know what it’s important to recognize, guys? There is only one thing in life that God ever intended to grow and increase in enjoyment and in richness and in love. And that’s relationships. And yet, what we’re finding today, is that long-term relationships, growing relationships, seem to elude us. Particularly with our spouses. And I know that for many people, probably, sitting here today, the love that you have for your wife is kind of slipping. Maybe it’s slipping away, slowly and gradually. You don’t know why, and maybe you never intended for it to happen, but it’s probably happening, and I’m reminded of that song that was so popular, and which I like very much, back in the 70s, late 70s, early 80s, by Dan Fogelberg. He says, and it’s entitled, “How Do We Make Love Stay?” How do you make love stay in a relationship? What’s interesting is that God doesn’t desire and intend for love to stay. He intends for it to grow over time, in richness and beauty, and in intimacy, and in enjoyment and in love. That’s His desire. That’s why our relationships are such treasures of great value.

“Why is it that we struggle so much in having really significant relationships with other men?” And then he says this. One sentence. “Because we think we have to be something other than what we are.” -Eugene Kennedy

Last week, or last month, we talked briefly about the importance of men having meaningful relationships with other men. And how that’s such a struggle. How it’s so easy, that we so easily have all these people we know, but don’t have anybody that really knows us. There was an interesting article in U.S. News and World Report, where Eugene Kennedy, a professor of psychology at Loyola University was interviewed on this issue of friendship. It’s something he spent a lot of time focusing on and studying, and he says, in this article, “It is very tough for many people to make good friends. There is a tendency in the United States today to emphasize surface qualities. The attributes you need for friendship go much deeper than that and usually require a surrender of self rather than the triumph of self over another.” He says, “There is a profound longing for friendship, a poignant searching for the kind of things that only close and lasting relationships give you. But people have difficulty knowing how to go about making friends because our society has told them that self-gratification will make them successful and happy. We have a generation of people who are working terribly hard to find things to do together, thinking that friendship comes out of that kind of frenetic activity, the sort of carousing good fellowship you see on television beer commercials. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not friendship.” And then he says, “Why is it that we struggle so much in having really significant relationships with other men?” And then he says this. One sentence. “Because we think we have to be something other than what we are.” In other words, what he’s saying is that people never know who you are because you cannot be who you are in front of them. But you know what, guys? There’s good news. God can truly transform our relationships as He transforms us. I’m not talking about religion. I’m not talking about going to Church. I’m talking about a relationship with God.

You know, the Bible tells us very quickly, love was His idea. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.” It says, “We love because He first loved us.” And so, it’s so critical in our relationships that we have the source of love at the center of our lives, and that’s why I contend when a man’s life is rooted in Christ and growing in that relationship, what we will find is an ability to love that we never knew we had on our own. And that we will find the power, and this is to me what is so critical, to be liberated from this addiction that we have to impress other people. You know, that is the most freeing thing in life, to get to the point where you don’t have to worry about impressing other men. But I contend only God can deliver us from that. From that slavery. That which we are enslaved to.

The third and final treasure that we’ll look at is in the book of Philippians. I’m going to read one verse. This is the apostle Paul. He’s sitting in prison writing this. He says, “I count all things to be loss.” Or, to be worthless, “in comparison to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For Whom I have suffered loss of all things,” I’ve lost everything I have, “and count everything that I’ve lost as rubbish. In fact, the literal translation is “dung”, “in order that I might gain Christ.” In order that I might know Him personally. You know, one thing about reading the apostle Paul, though he was penniless, he always considered himself quite rich because of this relationship. Back in May, we looked at the topic of finding purpose in life, and in that session, we talked about the fact that we’re designed by God to live in a relationship with Him. That’s why we’re here.  In Colossians, it says that “All things have been created through Him and for Him.” In Isaiah 43:21, it says, “The people who I formed for Myself.” I Corinthians 8:6, probably my favorite, it says, “We exist for Him.” And then, a verse that I just read the other day, in the Amplified Bible, it says, in I Corinthians 1:9, “We were called into companionship with His Son, Jesus Christ.” We’re called to live our lives in companionship, in fellowship, with God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament, David says, “As the deer pants for the water brook, so my soul thirsts for God.” My soul thirsts for God for the living God. What David is telling us there is, that just as our body thirsts for water, our soul thirsts for God. And this relationship with Christ, therefore, is our great treasure because it, and only it, can satisfy that thirst in our souls. And so, that’s why we’re told in Colossians chapter 2, verse 10, that in Christ, in this relationship, we’re made complete. We’re made complete as men.

And so, I would ask you to think about this. The three treasures that I’ve talked about. Wisdom, Growing Relationships, a Deep and Abiding Relationship with God. Guys, I would tell you this. I believe these are the pillars which a man should build his live upon, because, if you think about it, when you get to the end of your life, if you recognize that I have a depth to my being because of the wisdom of my soul, if I have deep, intimate relationships with other people that are marked by love and joy, and if you know God intimately, you will have found life’s true riches. You will be wealthy in the things that really count.

Now, this has been the sixth, and will be the final Breakfast that we have this year, and I just need a couple of minutes to kind of wrap this up, because I think this is important, because it’s where we ended last week. We’ve talked about our relationship with God, and how everything in our life flows, it flows out of that relationship. However, last week we talked about just the important of being right with God and being in right standing with Him. That’s important before we can know Him. Before we can have that relationship with Him. The Bible makes it very clear, though, guys. There is a problem with us just saying, all right, I’m going to go out and have a relationship with God. There is this barrier that exists, and the prophet Isaiah says it best. He says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not too short that it can’t save you. Nor is His ear dull, that it can’t hear you. But the problem is your iniquities,” our sinfulness, our depravity, “has made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.” In other words, he says, there’s something that separates us from God and it’s our iniquity. It prevents us from having a relationship with Him. And that’s the beauty at the heart of Christianity is the cross. It’s that symbol that you see. People wear it around their necks. It’s that great symbol, because the cross is where Christ took our sins on Himself. As Paul says, “Where God made Him, Jesus, Who knew no sin, to be sin, to take sin on Himself, on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So that we might be forgiven and cleansed. And we receive this forgiveness by faith. As John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become Children of God.”

We receive Him by faith. But, you know what I find? This is the one thing I find, is that this idea of coming to Christ by faith can be very confusing. I don’t know if it is for you, but for so many years, it was confusing to me. But, what I want to share with you as we close is probably one of the most transforming truths for my life, personally. It helped everything click and come together. It made sense of it all. And it’s this one transforming truth, and that is this. You know, I can believe in God, but not have faith in Him. Let me say that again. I can believe in God, but not have faith in Him. I can believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but not have faith in Him. In fact, I can believe all the right stuff, and even reject Him. And the reason I know that’s true is because I did that for so much of my life. Probably what helped me the most is to hear, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this term. It’s called “practical atheism”. It’s to believe in God but live your life as if God doesn’t exist. And that was so true of my life. I believed the right stuff. I joined the Church. I went to Church, but I lived the rest of my life as if God didn’t exist. He had no impact on me, but I believed in Him.

And, of course, everybody knows John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” What’s interesting, if you go back and look at that word “Believe”, you know, the New Testament was written in Greek. It’s important to go look that word up in Greek, which means, which is the word pisteúō, which means something altogether different. It means “to entrust, to rely on, to cling to”. This is more than believing. Believing is part of it, but it means to entrust, to rely on, to cling to.

And the best way I can explain this is one final illustration, it’ll take just a minute, but it really kind of comes together here. If you go and have a physical done, and your doctor comes back after getting the bloodwork back and says, you’ve got something wrong with you, and he sends you to a specialist, and this specialist tells you, I’ve got good news. We’ve caught this just in time. If we do surgery right away, if you take the proper medication and have the proper diet, we can save you. Now, I can go away all excited because I believe what the doctor has told me is true. But unless I go back to him and say, “I entrust my life to you, my life is in your hands,” he doesn’t have real faith in that doctor, does he? You see, that’s what so much of my life was about. I believed all the right things, but I never got to a point where I said, “Lord, I entrust my life to you. I surrender myself to you.” That’s what Biblical faith is. That’s what it means to come to Christ. To have faith in Him. To receive Him.

I heard Drayton Nabers speak about 15 years ago and he shared his story. Drayton, as many of you know, is the CEO of Protective Life, getting ready to retire, and I heard him share his story of how he went from agnosticism to being a converted Christian, and he said, “After I got to that point of conversion,” he said, “I read the whole New Testament. When I finished reading it, and I put it down,” and he said, and I talked to Drayton about it this week and he confirmed it again, he said, “I put down the New Testament after reading it from page to page, and I came to this conclusion. Either you are with Jesus or you are against Him. There is no middle ground.” And I share that with you guys, because, I don’t know about you, but for me, so much of my life, I wanted to be in the middle. I wanted to be in the middle, but there is no middle ground. Either you are with Him or you are against Him.

I want to read, as we finish, a couple of sentences from a song, that was written by Carly Simon. I don’t know much about her life, but from what I understand, she spent a lot of her time in her early years with her friends searching for meaning in life. She spent a lot of time in Cambridge, over in England, and near Oxford. Kind of the intellectual center of Europe. Searching for meaning, and then they moved down to the countryside. And then somehow, she became, she hit it big. But all of her friends that were with her, did what we did. They got jobs. They got married. They had children. And she reflects back on that time, and it’s so appropriate. It really resonated with me. She says, “Now you run a bookstore, and you’ve taken on a wife. And wear patches on your elbows and you live an easy life. But are you finally satisfied? Is it what you’re looking for? Or does it sneak up on you, that there might be something more?”

I had a guy that I met with after one of these breakfasts, and he said to me, “I have a great wife, I have wonderful children. I have a fantastic business. I am a member of one of the prominent churches in this town, but something is missing in my life. There has got to be something more.”

Guys, as we leave this morning, if you want a different outcome for your spiritual life, you’re going to have to make different choices. C.S. Lewis said, “If you’re spiritually going in the wrong direction, or really in no direction, it’s never going to become the right direction. Either you’re with Jesus or you’re against Him.” Before I close in prayer, I would love, at any time, to talk to any of you, about a deeper relationship with God. Or maybe you might want to talk to somebody that invited you. But there is no more important issue in this life. Either you are with Him, or you are against Him. There is no middle ground. Let’s close in prayer.

Father, we thank You that you are a God Who loves us, that You are a God Who wants to forgive us and cleanse us, and remove that barrier that allows us to know you personally, that allows us to find wisdom, that allows us to experience the type of love that we’re not capable of experiencing and giving out to others. Father, help us to find You. Help us to realize that it’s in relinquishing ourselves to You that we find ourselves. That we find life. Father, I thank you for the men in this room. I thank You for all the relationships that exist. We thank You for our community. We thank You for our families. We thank You Father, above all, for the Lord Jesus Christ. For it’s in His name that we pray, Amen.