See Sermon Transcript

Full Sermon Transcript

Chris Paavola:
Hey everybody. Good morning!

Good morning.

Chris Paavola:
Man, I missed you guys last week. I wasn’t here. My son had a parent-player hockey game, and when your twelve-year-old is like, “Dad, will you please play hockey with me?” I was like, “No.” Just kidding. So it was a Sunday morning though, and he’s like, “Dad, I know it’s a Sunday. Can you do this?” And I was like, “Okay buddy, we’ll figure this out. We’ve got more than one pastor here, but you’ve got one dad. We’ll figure this out.” So we did. And so thank you guys for letting me have a weekend off. It was good to school some twelve-year-olds and put them in their place and still got it. Anyway, so it was a good time, but I missed you guys and we tuned in, we watched online and everything like that and welcome to you guys online doing the same this morning. Good to be with you as well.

But last week we started off a whole brand new series coinciding with the season of Lent that we’re in. The season of Lent is this term that Christians have used for hundreds, I guess thousands of years actually, to describe the 40 days leading up to Easter and Christians have taken these 40 days to really go, “Okay, how am I going to prepare myself, prepare my heart to better celebrate Easter and celebrate the season and all that kind of stuff.” And so that’s what they did for 40 days, the church has done historically, and usually Lent, they give up something, right? That’s kind of what they do. They kind of remember the sufferings of Jesus. And again, to celebrate Easter. And so you give up things like chocolate or alcohol or red meat or whatever it might be.

You give up something during Lent, but we’re going to do the same thing we thought, but let’s make it a little bit fun. Instead of doing one fast for 40 long days, let’s do a separate fast from multiple angles. Let’s do a separate fast each week because honestly, there’s a lot of toxicity in the world and we want to find freedom from. And so we called it Soul Detox, and that’s a series we’re in and we’re doing a different fast each week. Last week we did a radio fast, so we said, no podcasts, no radios, none of that stuff. And you guys can customize it to your life, however it works for you. But man, how many of you guys who did the radio fast found it was harder than you expected it to be? Yeah, uh-huh, totally. Several times I was reaching for the radio dial and I’d be like, “Nope.”

But we’re not just, in this series, we’re not just stopping stuff for the sake of stopping stuff. We’re not just fasting for the sake of fasting. We’re stopping something so we can start something else in its place. It’s less for more. And so in that silence, we said, “Okay, let’s find God in that silence and that stillness where he’s promised to be.” And so we did prayer, we did readings, or just singing your praise song to God, making a joyful noise like that. And that’s what we did. We had a communion with God in the silence. And anecdotally, I’ve heard back from people who were like, “Man, that was a pretty sweet time with Jesus. I was really surprised by that.” So thank you and thank you guys for doing that. But you’re all done. You can blast music on the way home now like you’re a teenager again.

Just blast music and have at it because the radio fast is done. Today we’re starting a brand new fast. But before we get into what the fast actually is, you should talk about why we’re doing this particular fast this week because you and I live in a culture of consumerism. We are surrounded ever present, every day by consumerism and materialism and more, more, more. Like, just think of, look at anthropologically. Look at the phenomenon last Sunday of the Superbowl. How many of you guys didn’t watch and really care about the game? You cared more about the commercials during the game? Anyone? Anyone? Okay, that’s you. Yeah. And think about, okay, first of all, they’re spending millions of dollars for that 30 second ad because they know they’re going to recoup it in spades. They know it’s well worth it, and we will spend our time watching ads and product placement and then we’ll rank them like, “Oh, that commercial by Mercedes was funnier than that commercial by Doritos, and that commercial by Bud light was terrible.”

And we will spend time talking about ads that we saw. It’s crazy. And there’s an outside firm, a firm that did a study in 2017 and found that the number of ads you see in a day is 100, no, I’m sorry, 1,000, no, I’m sorry, 10,000 ads every day. You see every day 10,000 appeals to come consume this product. 12 of them is when you log onto Facebook and you’re just like ad, ad, there’s somebody’s post, right? You see ads all day long. You drive down 94, you see billboards. It is an onslaught and an assault on the senses of ads. You open a magazine, you watch a TV show. It’s normal for us to watch a TV show and there’s commercials. Just think about how ever present these ads are and then you start to think about what these ads are promising.

Watch any ad, watch any commercial, and they’re always showing people’s faces, not because they want to show you that people can use this product because they’re making the subtle promise to you that you’ll feel just like this person, when you consume our product, you’ll have the same sense of euphoria and look at their eyes dilate with joy. And in a rush of adrenaline and endorphins, when you wrap your hands around the leather steering wheel, you’ll be the successful man who gets the promotion. You will be the mom who can shower, take your kids and drop them off to school and go be a successful career woman if you just buy our minivan, that’s the promise they’re making to you over and over again. And if you think that you aren’t caught up in this culture of consumerism, I mean seeing a hundred thousand ads a week, if you think of the last time you made an impulse buy, think of the last time that you bought a pack of gum at the checkout line because it was there.

They’re just force-feeding you to consume. Think of how many times where you’re like, “Well, now that my phone is paid for, I can trade it in for a new phone. And this one, iPhone, 38’s got three cameras on it.” And we do it, we turn in our phone, not because the old phone is broken, but because we have to have the new model, right? Or okay, I’m not going to pick on ladies because guys, we do this too. You go up to your closet, you open it and you say, I have nothing. Say it like you would say it and you’re complaining in the bedroom, okay, I have nothing.

I have nothing.

Chris Paavola:
You scream it out, but your closet is full of clothes and you have shoes and you’ll buy new shoes. Not because you don’t have shoes on your feet, but because the ones you have are out of style. We are caught up in a culture of consumerism, over and over and over. The adage goes, right, we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like, right? It’s true. It’s true. We are consumers. We are consumers. And then you start to think about all of the damage this consumption and over consumption does on our planet just from a pure environmental perspective, this over consumption is a bad thing. You got landfills full of waste and over consumption.

But then think about how this consumer mindset affects your relationships. You approach people like people are something to take from. I can treat this person like a transaction. Think about how a culture of consumerism has affected your mental health. How much depression and discontentment can be traced back to, “Well, if I just buy one more thing, I’ll be happy now.” Do you really think we’re happier than we were 200 years ago? Really? And we have so much stuff.

How much of your physical ailments and your physical health can be traced back to a culture of consumerism? Just this untethered desire for more, more, more. And how much of your spiritual health can be traced back to this culture of consumerism? My friends, in the ancient world, they didn’t ask the question that we ask all the time. Is it helpful? Is this beneficial? That was not the question of the ancient world. The question of the ancient world was, is it true? We’re all tuned in to WIIFM. What’s in it for me? And we approach church the same way. If you’ve ever gone to church and thought, “What did I get out of that?” Rather than, “Was that true?” You’ve been caught up in a culture of consumerism and we’ve treated Jesus like another brand. Pepsi and Doritos and Gap, that’s consumerism.

And Jesus talks about consumerism, he does. But when he talks about it, he’s more concerned with the motive under this materialism and consumerism. That’s what his concern is for you, the motive underneath it all. There’s one time I was talking to a really large crowd of people, and in Luke chapter 12 verse 15, Luke 12:15, he says, “Watch out!” Like, “Look out! Beware!” In another passage he uses, when he is talking about the same concept, he used the word “Woe!” Not like, stop, whoa, but woe. W-O-E, which is a blend of anger, but sadness for you, like “Woe to you.” Watch out. Be on guard because it’s out to hurt you not to help you. They’re taking from you. They don’t want for you, they want from you. Be on guard, defend against all kinds of, say it, greed. All kinds of greed. For life does not consist in abundance of possessions. It doesn’t. And over and over again, Jesus teaches on money. And it’s so often tied to this warning against greed, greed, self-indulgence, me, me, me, me.

And why is that so dangerous to your faith? Why do you think Jesus is so concerned about greed for you? Well, think about it. It’s because of its consequences. There’s this parable he told one time, it’s a story and illustration. And in this parable he was talking about a sower, went out to sow, a farmer went out to sow seeds, and he’s throwing all these seeds on the ground and he’s basically like your heart is one of these types of soil. We’ve got good soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, soil, the path, that’s compact on the path. And he’s like, your heart is like one of these. And buried in the middle of this parable about the soil, is this. The soil of the thorns. Take a look, Mark 4 verses 18 through 19. The seed sown among the thorns are those who hear the word of God, because the seed is the word of God.

The soil with thorns are those who hear the word of God, but the worries of this life, the anxieties of my every day, the things that concern me and everyone else in the world, the deceitfulness of wealth, like wealth is so alluring, so appealing, but it’s dangerous. It’s deceitful. If it was obvious, it wouldn’t be deception. It looks good, but it harms you. The deceitfulness of wealth and the, there it is, say it. Greed. The greed, the desire, the lust for more comes in and chokes the word. It’s these thorny tentacles that wrap around, squeeze, and choke out the word of God that is planted in the hearts of people who live in a culture of consumerism. And it makes it unfruitful. It doesn’t reach maturity.

God’s word doesn’t blossom and grow and reach its fullness in you because of consumerism and the greed that drives it. Well, why would that be? Well, think of the teachings of Jesus. Sure, he is transactional. And there’s this consumer, I’ll forgive your sins. You can have eternal life. That’s consumerism. But then think of the rest of the teachings of Jesus. Once you’re in and you’re a follower, think of the rest of these teachings. They are counter cultural to a culture of consumerism. They’re incompatible. They’re at war with one another. Take a look. Deny yourself, not indulge yourself, no, no. Deny yourself. That’s what Jesus says. He tells his followers to submit to his yoke.

Not your own. Surrender your will, not my will be done, but your will be done. Surrender your will to his. Serve him, not yourself. Serve him. Make yourself last, followers. Make yourself last. Not first, not me, me, me. Not what’s in it for me. No. What’s in it for others? Make yourself last of the line. Become the least, not the greatest, not the person with the most drip, most bling, the person with the least. Lose your life, lose your life. Not surround it with an abundance of possessions and a closet full of things I don’t wear. It’s killing you and it’s killing the word inside of you. That is incompatible with the culture of consumerism. And so when you read these teachings of Jesus, it stands to reason followers of Jesus need to stop consuming to experience Jesus. I’m going to say that again. It stands to reason followers of Jesus need to stop consuming to experience Jesus.

And that’s why I’m so excited to announce that our week two for the Soul Detox series, our week two fast, is a shopping fast. We are going to buy nothing. Stop shopping, stop it. You don’t need it. Stop it for the next six days. Okay? And this is customizable just like the radio fast, okay? So you can do this in one day or you can do this in three days, or you can do this for all six days, go hard in the paint. But your challenge this week is to stop shopping. Stop it, get off the treadmill, get off the hamster wheel, step out of the matrix and stop shopping. All of you. Stop. Now, if you’re hearing me and you’re going, “Well, I’m not doing that.” Might I suggest that’s all the more reason that you need to actually do this thing. You want to find out how much control something has over you? Stop doing it and see what kind of temper tantrum your body throws.

See how quickly you become childish. You want to see how much control something has over you? Stop doing it and see how you feel. Remember, Jesus is the one who says, be self-controlled. Let nothing have mastery over you. Why? Because you have one master, one Lord, Jesus. Not things. That hit different, didn’t it? It’s so easy to call him Lord and maybe even master. But then when you think about all the things that master you, “Oh, oh, that’s what that means.” So stop shopping, okay? So this means no Amazon, online is not like a loophole. You’re already trying to find loopholes. I could hear it. I could hear your wheels. Okay. No, Amazon, no target runs. No getting coffee at four bucks. I mean Starbucks, none of that. That’s me. This is going to be hard for me with the coffee. That is my routine.

None of that, just stop it all. This is just freedom, okay? But if you remember, we said in this series, this is not just stopping something for the sake of stopping something. This is not just less. We’re doing less for more. It’s a stopping something so we can start something else. This is fasting for a purpose. Okay? So here’s what we’re doing for Soul Detox, and we’re taking a cue directly from Jesus because once we stop consuming, he tells us to do something else. We’re going to go back to Luke 12, the chapter we were just in. And look how he closes it. Take a look at this. Sell your possessions and, say it, give to the poor. Provide purses for yourself that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes in and no mouth destroys.

So give. Give, give, give. Jesus over and over, if you look at the teachings of Jesus, where he talks about money, he talks about giving, he talks about it a lot. It’s always tied to this thing of greed. And he knows nothing will pry the jaws of consumerism from feasting on your heart, quite like giving. Nothing will liberate you from materialism like giving. We see it over and over and over. And so we’re not going to just, for our shopping fast, we’re not going to just stop shopping, okay? We are going to stop shopping to give. Okay? We’re taking a step further. So think about, okay, so back to this thing about how many days are you going to do this and how much are, okay, so it needs to be both realistic. Say realistic.


Chris Paavola:
And challenging. Say challenging.


Chris Paavola:
You said that softer than realistic. Let’s try this again. It needs to be both realistic.


Chris Paavola:
And challenging.


Chris Paavola:
There you go. Okay, so you can do this. You can do this one day, three days, five days, six days, whatever it is, okay? But think about how much would you spend on yourself in that particular day? How much would you normally spend on yourself? 25 bucks? 50 bucks? 100 bucks? How much would you spend on yourself? Okay? And if you’re going to do the six days, by the way, you should probably go fill your gas tank today and go grocery shopping today. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time getting to work. So I’m just saying, but how much would you normally spend on yourself? Then your challenge is to give that money away. Now, I could be really manipulative right now and say, I want you to give that money away to the church.

I could. This could be either our next fundraiser, but that’s not what we’re doing. I am not going to try to grease the palms or anything like that. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. To show you my complete lack of self-interest in this, we don’t want any of this money, the money that you’re giving away, give it away. Give it away to other people, people who are in need, wow them with your generosity. We have a vision statement here at St. Mark. One of our vision statements is that we will be a church known for exceptional generosity. Not just like, oh, we think we’re a pretty generous person. No, we want others to look at us and know us as generous people. We want others to hear that we’re from St. Mark. And you’re like, “Oh, you’re that crazy church who gives away all that money?”

We want people to think we’re a little bit off and strange with how generous we are. Jesus said, right, “Let your light shine before men so they see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” So we want to be known for exceptional generosity to the world. And this is one way we can develop and nurture and live out that vision statement. So whatever day you’re fasting, whatever day you’re doing this shopping fast, that same day. So if it’s three days, if it’s five days, whatever it is, give money away. And my encouragement, you could go paper or plastic on this, but my encouragement is to go plastic, buy a gift card somewhere, I don’t care, $50 gift card to a restaurant, a hundred dollars gift card to target, whatever it is. And then just go surprise somebody. Put it in the neighbor’s mailbox. Go through the drive-through.

Don’t buy anything, but just put your hand out and say, I want to thank you. You do a thankless job. Here’s to just say thank you, thinking about you guys. Go up to your mechanic and say, here’s a tip. I’ve never given you a tip before, but I just wanted to thank you for all the work that you’ve done. Who can you wow with your generosity? Give them a gift card. And they won’t say no, I promise. They’ll say, like cash they’re like, “Eh, this is a little…” But just give them a gift card and they will say thank you. And you’ll see the joy on their face that my daughter saw yesterday. So for Valentine’s, we have this tradition in our house that we take each one of our kids, and we have so many kids, we have to spread it out over several days for a daddy daughter date or a mom son date, and it’s a date.

And teach them about their future spouse and all that kind of stuff and talk to them about love. And we just, it’s a good time. It’s just a good time to invest in each of our kids. And my 6-year-old wanted to go to Denny’s, and so we went to Denny’s and she doesn’t really get an allowance. She’s six. She doesn’t, I mean, right? But she got a dollar. And when it was time to go, so I ring the doorbell and I have a card and a teddy bear, and then I open the door and, “Hello, is Acacia here?” And we do the whole thing. But then she runs and she goes and gets her only dollar because she wants to give a tip at the restaurant. She sees us give tips all the time, but she just wants to know the joy of giving. And so she takes her only dollar and she goes to the restaurant.

And we’re at the restaurant and I tell the waitress afterwards, I’m like, “Hey, I’ve already paid your bill.” I’m pointing at the tip line, “I’ve already, you’re not just getting a dollar tip, lady. I’ve already paid your bill, but my daughter wanted to give you a tip.” And Acacia hands this dollar to her. And I want you to see the face that I saw in the waitress who is so blessed and so touched. Her smile was so big because of this dollar from a 6-year-old. And I want you to feel the joy in my daughter’s heart that I saw and her smile giving it away. I’m taken care of. My dad picked up the tab, your heavenly Father picked up the tab. You’re okay. You don’t need it, just give it away.

It stands to reason followers of Jesus need to stop consuming and start giving to experience Jesus. And this week is your chance to do just that. All right? You can do this guys. You can do this. Let me pray for you. Heavenly Father, I pray, first of all, a topic like this we should probably stop and just confess that we have indeed fallen short. We are greedy, we are selfish, we are self-centered, and we are sorry. We’ve been so tight-fisted, and so stingy with our money and so self-indulgent and self-interested in how we spend our money, that it has choked out your word in our hearts. Forgive us, Lord, we thank you for your mercy and grace that covers us even now and gives us a chance to try again.

And I pray for every person in this room, every person who hears the sound of my voice watching online or listening later on, I pray that you would show them how many days do you want them to stop shopping? And I pray that you would show them how much money do you want them to give to wow the people in their life? And I pray that you would show them who you want them to give that money towards.

Is it the firefighters, the hairstylists, a neighbor? Who is it Lord? And we thank you for this opportunity to just follow suit. You gave your son to us and we, in response are giving people. So make us a church known for exceptional generosity, King Jesus. And we summarize all of this by praying the prayer that your son taught us to pray as we say together, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.