At Gateway Church in Austin, we are in a series called “Legacy.”
Give God more than just Sunday mornings. Dive deeper with these Next Steps which help you apply today’s message to your life. You can find them at www.gatewaychurch.com/nextsteps.
To watch or listen to the message at the McNeil campus, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
Kenny Green, Central Austin and South Campus Serve and Recovery Pastor shared some of the following ideas at the McNeil Campus:
“It was Christmas Eve, 1910. General William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army in London, England was nearing the end of his life. His health was very poor, and he was going to be unable to attend the Salvation Army’s annual convention. Somebody wisely suggested that General Booth send a telegram or a message that could be at the opening of the convention – a message that could be read as an encouragement to the many members of the Salvation Army Church that would be in attendance that day. Booth agreed to do so.
In those days communication was by telegraph, and you paid for each word that you sent. Knowing that funds were limited and desiring not to use any more money than necessary so that as much money as possible could be used to help others, General Booth decided to send a one word message. He prayerfully searched his mind and reviewed his years of ministry, looking for the one word that would summarize his life and the mission of the Salvation Army, the one word that would encourage the others to continue on.
When the thousands of delegates met that day at the convention, the moderator announced that Booth would not be able to be present because of failing health. Gloom and pessimism swept across the floor of the convention. The moderator informed the delegates that they had received a telegram from General Booth. The moderator opened the telegram to read the one word message:
Signed, General Booth.
That was it! Just one word: “Others”
It’s as though Booth was saying, ‘for all the things we may get wrong at times, let’s get this right – to love and to serve others in the name of Jesus. Let that be our legacy.’
Booth’s charge to his church leaders left a legacy that continued long past the day he wrote that note. It’s a legacy that has changed thousands of lives – including mine! Because of the Salvation Army’s legacy of serving others, rather than having to serve time in prison for my multiple drug felonies, I was given the opportunity to go through a program of rehabilitation through the Salvation Army church. They loved and served me and even opened doors for me to serve others, and I’m very thankful for that!
I believe that a life and a legacy of loving God and following Christ is best demonstrated through loving and serving others.
When Jesus was asked the question: ‘which is the greatest commandment?’
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus is saying that one is synonymous with the other. One of the most profound ways that we express our love for God is to love others. Serving is a demonstration and an outpouring of that love.
Intellectually, we all agree that these are important things that need to be happening, yet what I find to be so interesting is that many of us are just sitting on the sidelines instead of getting in the game. Why is that?
Is it complacency? Are we too busy? Do we believe that someone else’ll handle it? Is it that we don’t care or that we lack compassion? Or is there something going on?
I believe that what may be keeping some of us on the sidelines is the belief that ‘I’m not the kind of person that God uses.’
You think to yourself: ‘I’m still working through my issues. I’m still exploring faith or I still have doubts. Or I’m new to this whole following-Jesus-thing. I’m still struggling with addictions. I’m angry. I’m healing from a divorce. I battle with depression. I’m a single mom. I’m already overwhelmed with life….’
Do you ever feel like that? I mean, whether you’re exploring God or new to faith or you’ve been following Christ for years, when you look at your life and you see all of your past failures and see the brokenness in your life today, do you ever think to yourself: ‘what difference can I actually make?’
Just because we think something does not make it true. Jesus tells us that there is an evil force trying to keep us from finding the healing we can find through serving. Jesus says:
The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. . . John 10:10
Because of these tactics, it’s no surprise to me that there’s this unhealthy thread that often floats through Christian sub-culture which is that you have to get your mess cleaned-up before you can follow Jesus and be used by Him to serve others.
But that’s just not how Jesus works!
The Bible is full of story after story of God pointing to broken and messed-up people and saying, ‘Yep, I choose you!’ People who had epic fails in their past and people that He knew were going to fail in the future.
In my life, even when I was in jail, God kept opening door after door for me to serve others, and it was in the midst of serving others that God was healing me.
I learned that God didn’t need me to get all cleaned up before He could use me, but instead, it was in the midst of serving others that God cleaned me up! I wasn’t disqualified for service because of my brokenness. Instead, God used my brokenness to help and serve others.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 is telling us that God can take the ugliest things in our lives and turn them in to something good for His purposes – to help and to serve someone else.
Some of you think God can’t use you for another reason: you’ve believed the lie that your story is boring. You think: ‘Well, I was never on meth so I can’t help addicts. I’ve never been divorced so I can’t help with divorce care.’
Here’s the truth: God can use all of us in powerful ways – way beyond what we can imagine! Just be willing to follow God’s lead. Remember when Romans 8:28 says that God cause everything to work together for good – that means everything – good and bad!!
I know my life is a miracle for what God has brought me through, but maybe your life is a miracle for what God has protected you from. Your life is what I want for my kids! If you think your story is boring: think again!
God honors us when we make good choices and says that ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ Your story is unique. . .and your story is very powerful!
Serving others is not something we do to earn God’s acceptance or to bring us into God’s good graces Serving others is simply a response to His love and the grace we’ve already received.
Gateway is a safe place to consider Jesus and exploring faith. If that is you, we will love you and serve you while you aren’t sure about God. Even if that is you, I believe that you will still get more out of your experience and grow spiritually if you serve while you are sorting it out.
At the same time, Gateway is not a place you can just sit around if you are a Christ-follower. The longer you are here, the more positive peer pressure you will feel to grow in your faith by investing in others.
Maturity isn’t measured by what you know about God. Maturity is what you are willing to do for God. Maturity is measured by the speed at which you are willing to do what you know God wants you to do.
Think about which neighbors and co-workers that you can be a blessing to.
B – Begin Praying
L – Listen
E – Eat
S – Serve
S – Share your Story
I – Inspire
N – Network
G – Group
Remember, when you think about serving others, don’t miss the ones closest to you! If you have questions about how to get involved with serving in your geography (your part of town), we have a Serve Team that would love to help you:
- John Short / Serve Pastor / CP,L,RR,PF
- Ruth Judd / Serve Pastor / NW
- Kenny Green / Serve Pastor / CEN,S
If you’d like to jump in and serve with Restore and Recovery:
- Brian Brunson / Restore Pastor
Maybe your next step is signing up for one of our teams going to Haiti or India. Contact Calla Parker our Global Serve Leader.
Some of us are ready for something far bigger than you’ve been thinking. The question is, are you willing to listen to God to hear from Him? Are you willing to do what He has prepared for you?”