HAPPY: Under Construction  Philippians 3:12-21

My wife Kelly and I met as backpacking guides for Young Life and we always enjoyed being in the outdoors. Before we had kids!  There’s a lot of things we enjoyed doing before we had kids!  We still love the outdoors, but don’t get out in the outdoors quite as much as we use to.  A number of years ago we climbing a 14er outside of Buena Vista, Mt. Harvard, which is part of the Collegiate Peaks.  It’s an absolutely breathtaking peak.  We started at the car in the early morning and we were walking towards this peak.  As the sun started to come up over the mountain…..we had been going for a few hours and it looked like we were getting to the end of the hike where we would finally stand on the top of this peak and be able to look out at a 360º view of God’s glory and God’s splendor and all those other 14ers you could see.  Just a beautiful part of our state.  As we got up to this ridge and I thought we were up to the peak, we stood on top of it and in front of us stood….the peak!  It was clear that we still had another hour or two to go.  I started to think, “You know, life feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it?” We push and we push and we push and try to get to a certain point, and when we get to that certain point, it feels like we’ve given all that we had and yet there’s still further to go.

It got me thinking—-Is life more about an adventure or is it about an arrival?  Is life about a destination or is it about a journey?  Is life about perfection or is it about progress?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit a lot of false summits in my life.  I’ve had times when I’ve thought I’d arrived and it turned out I had further to go.  I can remember graduating from high school feeling like I had the world wrapped around my fingers.  Then I got the shocking realization that there’s still a little distance left to go and I hadn’t quite arrived yet.  As a parent, we had our son Ethan and he wasn’t sleeping at all.  Finally, he started to sleep through the night.  We thought we were good parents; then he started to get teeth and we realized we knew nothing!  We’re back to square one. Some of you just got married and are coming off the honeymoon (phase) and think you’re at the peak.  I hate to break it to you, it’s a false summit!  There’s still a little bit left to learn.  There’s a journey left to go.  Some of you took this journey into retirement, maybe recently, and you thought you were standing at the top of the peak and had arrived and thought life was going to be a little bit easier.  There’s still a little distance left to go.  Life is full of false summits, isn’t it?  It’s full of recognizing that as far as we may have come, there’s still a journey left in front of us.  I can remember taking swimming lessons as a kid and having our swim instructor putting us all up against the wall.  She would stand out in the pool and tell us to swim to her.  With my goggles on, I remember swimming and looking at her feet.  As she was waiting for us, she was scooting farther and farther back.  I finally got to her and said, “That’s not fair! You didn’t stay where you were.”  What I’ve realized (and you may have realized this to) is that the further we go, the more we progress, the further we still have to go!  Anybody been there?  Where you feel that you’ve grown to a certain point and you thought—-maybe it was in your journey with Jesus—-that you had sort of acquired patience and then something came in your life that you had to be patient about and you recognized there’s still a little bit of journey left in front of you.  Maybe you thought anger was in the rearview mirror and then something came into your life for you to be angry about and you thought, “Okay, maybe God still has a little bit of work left in me.”  The question we have to wrestle with this morning is will we ever outgrow that feeling?  Will we ever get to the point, as human beings, where we think NOW! now I’m on the peak, now I’m on the mountaintop, there’s no more ground in front of me and I have gotten to the place where, as a follower of Jesus, I think God is calling me to?  Will we ever get there? NO! No, we won’t!

The Apostle Paul wants to write to us in the midst of recognizing that life is more about a journey than it is about a destination.  That it’s more about an adventure than it is about arriving.  It’s more about progress than it is about perfection.  It’s in THAT moment that the Apostle Paul wants to write to the Philippian church, and us as well.  Will you open your Bibles to Philippians 3?  It’s a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a church in Philippi.  About twelve years before the writing of this letter, he planted this church.  This was a church that he loved and knew well and fervently wanted to see succeed.  He’s writing to them from a Roman prison, on house arrest in Rome.  Here’s what he says in Philippians 3:12 — Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect…   Quick timeout.  He’s tying back into Philippians 3:1-11.  Last week, we said that Paul proposes this approach to life where we recognize not that we are called to achieve, but that we are accepted by the grace of God because of the work of Jesus.  That’s a new perspective for many people and Paul wanted the church to adopt that.  He went on to say that life isn’t primarily knowing ABOUT Jesus, but life can be summarized in the idea that we are invited as human beings to KNOW Jesus intimately.  He went on to say listen, everything else in my life I consider rubbish/garbage/trash just so that I can know Christ and be found in Him.  So when we get to verse 12, he says that was a great ideal, that was a lofty goal.  Not that I have already obtained this…. That’s a shocker if you know anything about Paul’s life.   The Apostle Paul went on to write roughly 31.8% of the New Testament.  He planted 14 churches.  Like you probably did, he had an encounter with Jesus where he was riding on the back of a donkey, blinded by a light, knocked off of that donkey, blinded for three days, walked into town, met a guy who knew he was coming who told him about Jesus.  It’s similar to your testimony, I’m sure.  He says that he was called up into the “third heaven.”  He had this ecstatic experience with God where he saw eternity and he was absolutely dumbfounded and absolutely shocked and he was drawn in.  This is a guy who gave his entire life for Jesus and at THIS point (in his life), he’s been following Jesus for 30+ years.  And he says:  Not that I have already obtained this….  I’m still on the journey.  It’s not about arriving this side of heaven, it’s about an adventure of walking with Jesus.

In light of all of that, I love Paul’s tenacity!  This recognition that after thirty years of walking with his Savior, of worshiping, of surrendering, of planting churches and building into people and giving his life for ministry, he realizes….I haven’t obtained all this, but…..I press on!  In the Greek it’s one word (diókó) that carries this meaning of fervent chasing after.  This word is used 45 times in the New Testament.  Thirty-two of those times the word is translated into English as ‘persecute.’  So in the negative it’s—I persecute; we chase after fervently.  In the positive it’s—I am going after it with ALL my might.  The word was used to describe hunters. Somebody going after an animal.  I’m not much of a hunter myself.  In fact, I’ve never gone hunting, but I married into a family of hunting.  My father-in-law was a high school principal; he used to zip his camo on over his suit before going to work, in case he saw an animal on the way that deserved to be shot!  You’ve got to always be ready.  That’s the picture Paul paints…..I am just chasing after, I am hunting after, I’m giving my life, to press on, to make it my own.  I don’t know about you, but I’m just going to throw it out there—-if the Apostle Paul, writing 31.8% of the New Testament, planting 14 churches, taking the gospel onto two NEW continents, can write, after 30 years of following Jesus, not that I have already obtained all this…..I’m going to throw it out there….you may never arrive either!  In fact, maybe that’s not what life is all about.  Maybe life is far more about a journey than it is about arriving at a destination.  Here’s what we’re going to circle around this morning—it’s the reality that the life of faith is more about embracing a journey than arriving at a destination.  John MacArthur, the pastor and author, says:  “This passage deals a devastating blow to the false doctrine of perfectionism that still prevails in some denominations and churches today.”   Perfectionism is that belief that you and I, as followers of Jesus, will get to a place where we are morally and spiritually perfect in this life.  The idea that we could “arrive” in this life.

The question I had as I was wrestling with this is, “Paul, why are you able to continue to press on?  Why is that your anthem?  Why is that your song?”  What gives you the ability, in the midst of, after thirty years of following Jesus and doing all these great things and having all these amazing experiences, to go on?  Everything in ME feels like giving up when I get to that false summit and feel like I’ve expended all of my energy.  Paul answers that question:  …I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  THAT’S the invitation from God—it’s to continue to press on, to continue to make progress, to continue to chase after Jesus with everything we have, not hoping that one day we will catch Him, but knowing that EVERY day He holds us. That it’s His action, that it’s Him stepping into humanity, that it’s Him saying I’m going to give my life for you, that’s the foundation and the basis for us to say, “I’m a work in progress.”  Every time I drive to and from church, I go past this area on Broadway and Dry Creek that I think they’ll be doing construction on until Jesus comes back.  They’re building a number of new homes and a few commercial areas.  Every time I go by it I see this sign that says, “DANGER!   CONSTRUCTION AREA    KEEP OUT!”  I thought that as followers of Jesus, as human beings, this is our sign, isn’t it?  Regardless of how far we’ve come, we’re still under construction.  Yet, because of the work of Christ, it doesn’t need to say “Danger!” it can say “Welcome.”  But you’ve gotta recognize that I’m still a work in progress.  I haven’t made it; I haven’t arrived.  Life is more about a journey than it is a destination. Apostle Paul had this sign up too—-I’m still under construction.  God’s still at work within me.  He’s still moving, He’s still changing me, He’s still challenging me, and He’s still growing me.  You’re a work under construction, too.

Paul says listen, Jesus has a hold of me, He’s not afraid that I am still a construction project.  He has promised in the midst of how dark it gets and how many times I fail, Philippians 1:6 says:  ….that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Your fails are not going to drive Him off; He is NOT afraid of them.  He is WITH you.  What Paul draws out in this passage is we live in this beautiful (what theologians call) ‘now, but not yet.’  Jesus HAS taken hold of us.  He HAS paid the penalty for our sins.  He HAS completed us.  He HAS perfected us and you and I are on a life-long journey of growing into the people He has already made us to be.  Welcome to being human!  You will encounter a number of false summits in your life. Sometimes false summits feel like pain.  Sometimes false summits feel like sorrow.  Sometimes false summits feel like ecstatic joy, followed by a valley.  The question is when we get to those summits, will we continue like the Apostle Paul to press on or will we tap out?  The future belongs to people who say, “I haven’t arrived; I’m on a journey.  My God is good; He’s holding me and I am walking forward with Him.”

The question becomes—how do we live life as this type of a journey?  Here’s how Paul says it:  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind….   The Apostle Paul knows that it’s impossible to press on, or to hunt or chase after Jesus, with everything that we have, if we’re living in the past.  So he says that there’s one thing I want you to do—I want you to forget those things that lie behind part of the DNA of a presser-oner.  We forget what lies behind.  If we’re living with our life focused on what’s behind us, we will never grow into what’s in front of us.  Did you know that the Enemy has a plan for your past?  That God does too?  The Enemy wants you to live in it.  The Enemy’s plan for your past is that it would define you.  That happens in two primary ways.  The pain of the past sinks our anchor into it, so we can’t grow any further.  That may look like an abuse that’s been perpetrated against you.  It may look like things that have been done to you.  Whenever you let your mind relax a little bit, you are immediately back there.  It might also look like some of the bad decisions that you made.  Some of the sins that you committed.  Think about the Apostle Paul—someone who commissioned the killing of Christians.  Someone who held people’s coats as they brutally, savagely murdered people in the streets.  You think of all that the Apostle Paul had to overcome to stand in front of the Philippian church and say, “You guys, if we’re going to chase after Jesus, we’ve got to leave the past in the past.  We cannot let it define us, because that is the Enemy’s intention with your past, that you would live in it.”

Did you know the Good Shepherd has a plan for your past as well?  The Enemy’s plan is that it would define you. Jesus’ plan for your past is that it would refine you.  The Enemy wants you to live in your past; the Good Shepherd wants you to learn from your past.  His idea about your past is that it would inform the person that you are becoming, that you could use the pain and could use the sorrow.  And the comfort that you receive from God could be given to others.  That’s part of His plan for your past.  That the false summits that you’ve hit and the bumps in the road would be used as experiences to pass on wisdom to the coming generations; that’s part of Jesus’ plan for your past.  So I think this idea that if we’re going to press on we need to forget, begs us to ask the question—is there anything that we just keep bringing up in our OWN mind that’s causing us to live in the past, rather than chase Jesus into the future?  We typically think of forgetting as a passive thing.  Oh, I forgot that person’s name.  I forgot that phone number.  The invitation Paul gives is an active forgetting.  It’s whenever that thing pops up in my mind, I’m going to choose to say, “That’s in the past and Jesus is at work in that and Jesus is at work in me and I’m going to press on towards Him.”  The Enemy wants it to define you, Jesus wants it to refine you.

Here’s the way Paul continues.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  In the Greek, the word ‘straining’ could be summarized as stretching or reaching toward a goal with all of one’s might.  That’s the picture of somebody who presses on.  They’re a strainer; they are straining toward Jesus.  Paul has in mind a picture when he writes this to the church at Philippi.  He has in mind a picture of either the Olympic games or the Isthmian games, where people would compete.  They would compete in order to win a prize.  One of the primary competitions was where they would gather in a long stadium and have a footrace of runners.  They would start at one end and they would give everything they had in running towards the other end.  When the winner crossed the finish line, there would be stairs they would climb and Caesar would put a wreath around their neck and they would be declared the champion.  It’s that picture that Paul has in mind of the Christian life.  Welcome to the tension of living under the banner that Jesus paid it all and the invitation to come and to strive and to chase after Him with all of our might.  For you, is the Christian life more akin to a walk in the park or a race in the Olympics?  Paul has a picture in his mind and what it looks like to recognize that we are called to press on.  He uses the same imagery when he writes to the Corinthian church. Listen to what he says (1 Corinthians 9:24-27):  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it. {Strive. Go after Jesus.} Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  Is that how you picture the Christian life?  It’s a disciplined, delightful pursuit of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

I saw this video this week and maybe this is a little bit what the Christian life looks like.  You’re watching two cross-country runners—3A Cross Country Meet—as they’re getting to the final stretch.  {The two female runners are struggling to stay upright and keep stumbling, falling and getting back up.}  You can see that they’re dehydrated to the core.  Look at how hard they’re pushing their bodies.  This is the picture I have in my mind about a follower of Christ—-that man, we want to chase after you in that type of a way.  What would it look like for you?  A.W. Tozer says it like this:  “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.  Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.  He waits to be wanted.  Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”  He writes that in his great book, The Pursuit of God.

The question is what is Paul striving after?  He tells us in Philippians 3:14—I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.    He said before:  I consider everything in my life rubbish/garbage/trash compared to knowing Him.  That Jesus isn’t the means to an end, Jesus IS the end.  He goes that’s what I want my life to be about, that’s what I’m pressing on towards — that I might know Him in the deepest core and fiber of my being, that I might be found in Him.

That’s the picture he has in his mind, but he also has a new perspective.  Listen to the way he says this in Philippians 3:15-16 — Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.   The Bible talks about maturity a lot.  It’s this multi-dimensional, multi-faceted word.  It will describe people who are mature as being people who understand complex doctrine.  The Bible describes mature people as people who live in the way of Jesus—they don’t just have a head knowledge, it actually gets out into their lives.  Here, the Apostle Paul gives us a new twist on maturity.  Implicit in the idea of being mature is the recognition that we’re on a journey.  We haven’t arrived.  Did you know it’s impossible to be mature and to think that God is done with you.  It’s impossible to be mature and to think that you’ve arrived and that God has someway made you perfect this side of heaven.  Paul goes no, no, no, no, no, let all of those who are mature think this way.  What way?  Well, not that I’ve already obtained all this and have been made perfect, but I press on.  Think THAT way.

Listen to what he says {This is awesome!} — …and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  {If you think differently than me, you’re wrong and eventually God’s going to show you!  Apostle Paul. Mic drop.  Out.  Right?  How bold!}  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.  Martin Luther, the great reformer, said: “Farewell to those who want an entirely pure and purified church.  This is plainly wanting no church at all.”  Why?  Because every single one of us has this sign {Under Construction} in front of us.  We’re on a journey.  We haven’t arrived.  God’s good.  God’s holding us, but you and I are under construction.  And we always will be.  If your expectation is that the people around you are to be perfect, may I just invite you to recognize that you hold this sign too and maybe, just maybe, you’re imperfect, so it might do well for you to extend grace towards other people if this is the sign that you hold.  Friends, we’re all on this journey.  {Will you look up at me for a moment?}  It can be frustrating to recognize the further in we go, the further we have to go. Don’t give up!  Press on!  If you’re frustrated with how slow you’re growing, press on!  If you look back and you’re standing on a false summit and you thought you were going to get rid of anger, or going to be more loving, or thought the life of Jesus was going to come out of you more and realize you haven’t attained all of it, haven’t been made perfect, haven’t reached your goal — press on!  Don’t give up!  Keep chasing after the one who says I hold you at every turn.

Paul continues to describe what this journey looks like.  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  Once again, Paul’s going to paint a picture.  This word ‘imitating’ would have been clearly in mind for those in a first century Christian context.  Coming out of Judaism they would have understood the rabbi’s words.  A rabbi would teach people to take on their yoke and that meant two things:  It meant that they would understand, in a sort of didactic form, what the rabbi taught about the truth of the world we live in.  But it would also be a rabbi’s invitation to come and watch them live.  To become like them, not just to hear what they say, but to do what they do.  This is the invitation that Paul is inviting followers of Christ to, because we’re all on a journey, we’re all pressing forward and one of the ways you and I chase after Jesus best is when we are surrounded by other people who are pursuing Him fervently.  He invites us to imitate because when we imitate we internalize and we’re transformed.  It’s the beauty, friends, of living in a community of faith with other people.  The Apostle Paul will say to the church at Corinth:  Follow me as I follow Christ. (1 Corin. 1:11).  Giving your life to a local church, being invested in community, isn’t just a good idea, it’s a God-idea.  It’s His invitation to say, “Come and let other people rub off on you, some people who are a little bit farther down the road.  Surround yourself with them.  Imitate them.”  It’s going to mean having a conversation with somebody you respect and going listen, I want to press on, so I need somebody to imitate.  Can we share life together?  I want to know what struggles you’ve had and I want to share some of mine with you.  I want you to teach me what it looks like to navigate the tumultuous waters of fatherhood, or of being a husband, or being a wife, or being a mom.  I need people around me who are going to say, “Here’s what the journey looks like.”

As a parent, I am always humbled by the fact that whether I choose to be imitated or not, I’m being imitated. Sometimes when my kids parrot back to me things that I say, or things that I do, or things that I believe, I go, “Oh, man!  I am certainly under construction still!”  I can remember watching a Bronco game last year when they were going through a difficult stretch.  Peyton Manning through one of those {ducks} that got intercepted. I said, “Man, Peyton Manning is garbage!”  The next day my son and I are at the park throwing the football and playing with some friends.  I drop back in the pocket and say, “Peyton Manning back in the pocket.”  Ethan responds, “Peyton Manning’s garbage!”  I’m going, “Uh, no, NO! No, he’s not!”  I was talking to him on the couch afterwards and said, “Don’t ever say that again.”  Right?!  They’re imitating us.

Paul says it’s really important who you’ve got in your view.  There’s some who are imitating the way of Jesus, but for many……he says in verse 18…..   For many, of who I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  He says that you have a choice who you keep in your view. Are they people who trust in the sufficiency of Jesus for the journey he calls us to walk?  Are they people who recognize that it’s only by faith that we step into righteousness purchased by the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior?  Are they people who recognize that life is a journey that we’re invited to walk with Christ, or do they live as enemies of Christ?  There’s two ways to live as enemies of the cross:  One is to say the heck with it altogether, I’m going to pave my own way and do my own thing.  More dangerous probably in our context, though, as followers of Jesus, people live as enemies of the cross when they say, in any way, shape or form, we’ve got to add, in order for our salvation, to the already finished work of Jesus.  Paul says those aren’t the type of people you want to have in your view.  I think he would say where you stand with the cross determines how you walk with God.

As followers of Jesus who are called to press on, who live in the ‘already, not yet’ nature of what it means to be a child of the King, we imitate, we strive, we forget….then he says this:  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He does NOT say ONE DAY our citizenship will be that of heaven.  He says RIGHT NOW, if you’re a follower of Jesus, your passport says ‘Heaven’ as your place of origin. That’s the passport you carry.  Paul is NOT suggesting that at some point in your life, after you die, you will go to heaven.  When he calls us ‘citizens of heaven,’ he has in mind that fact that we have dual citizenship.  We have a heavenly citizenship and we also live in Colorado.  As we live in Colorado, we need to live with heaven’s ethics.  We need to live with heaven in mind, with our Savior in mind.  We need to be a colony of heaven in Littleton, Centennial, Denver or wherever you’re from.  We need to pray, “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth, through us, as it is in heaven.” That’s what being a citizen of heaven means.  We’re a colony of the King in the midst of the empire.

Second thing he says is we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Don’t you love that picture Paul is painting?  Yes, we live as citizens NOW and we live in the ‘now, but not yet,’ and we’re looking for the day Jesus comes for his bride.  We long for it.  We hope for it.  Did you see when the Cubs won the World Series after a 108 years of their fans waiting?  How much joy there was when they finally held up that trophy?  I just got this picture as I was watching that happen—I want to want Jesus so much that when He comes for His bride, I am absolutely caught up with emotion and worship and praise of the one for whom I’ve been waiting!

He says, finally:  ….who will transform    I love it!  He doesn’t say, “He might transform our bodies…” or “There’s a good chance He’s gonna will transform our bodies.”  Paul is so confident.  It’s as though he’s writing it in a way where it’s such a sure thing it might as well already have happened.  He WILL transform our bodies, and that one day we will have a resurrected body like his.  That one day, those who have passed away in faith, He will breathe life into their dead, dry bones.  They will walk out of the grave and they will have the body that they’d always longed for, knowing we weren’t created for this thing that we call death.  We weren’t created to be temporal beings.  We KNOW that eternity has been placed in our hearts and ONE day, God will make true on the promise that you and I are invited to eternal life through Jesus.  One day, there will be no more crying, no more sorrow, no more tears.  The old order of things will pass away and behold, the new will come. (Rev. 21:2-4)  Paul says if you want to live as somebody who presses on it the midst of knowing you haven’t arrived yet, you have got to realize that we anticipate a day that WILL come!  It WILL happen, he says.  So as people who long to press on, we forget what’s behind, we chase after what’s ahead, we imitate those around us who live in the way of Jesus, and we anticipate the day when the groom comes for his bride, the church.

I love pastoring a church that has a spectrum of ages—of young people and young families, and of people who have walked the journey of faith way, way longer than I’ve walked it.  I call them our ‘saints’ and our ‘sages.’ They’re an encouragement to me because they know that they haven’t arrived yet, and yet they haven’t given up.  They keep pressing forward.  One of those people that does this so well and epitomizes what I want to be when I’m 74 years old is Carolyn Schmitt.  Every other week I spend time with her because I want some of her to rub off on some of me.  She has this wonderful perspective of life being a journey with Jesus.  Aaron sat down with her this week and asked her some questions and I thought his interview and discussion with her might be an encouragement to you.  She’s 74 years old and has been walking with Jesus for 61 years and she’s as passionate about Him as anyone I’ve ever met.

{Video Interview}

My name is Carolyn Schmitt.  Considering I was part of the old South Presbyterian Church from 1953 to 1979, it will be 64 years this coming spring that I will have been part of this congregation one way or the other.  I am 74 years old as of last August.  I had been in churches most of my life as a little girl, learning the stories and singing “This Little Light of Mine” and “Jesus Loves Me.”  It was the summer of my going-on-13th-birthday when I was at a summer camp that I walked forward and started a sixty-one stumbling, bumbling, fall-flat-on-my-face-and-be-picked-up-and-carried, getting to know the Lord journey. I wanted to spend some time alone with the Lord, I had hoped to get away last May and wasn’t able to.  I had hoped a friend could go up with me, but she wasn’t going to be able to, so this was going to be an opportunity the Lord gave to me to spend some alone time with Him.  So I was asking the Lord to tell me the truth about myself, because you grow in certain areas, you know change has happened, but you know that there’s more that needs to happen.  Unless the Lord enables me, I’m not going to be able to do any of the changing of it.  So I said, “God, I need to know the truth.  Father, will you tell me the truth about me?”  Back as clear as a bell came, “Okay, honey, what do you already know?” So, I want to learn to know God because He says He can be known.  Maybe not understood, because He’s far beyond my ability to understand, but He says I can know Him.  And I want to grow into like Him.  He’s so delicious!  I have learned things in the past, but I’m learning them now and I will be continuing to learn as long as He gives me life on this earth.  Then, I am convinced that we will never come to the end of learning to know God.  The only difference will be that I will not be tainted by the potential of sin, so I want to keep on growing while I’m here.  He’s brought me to love Him so.  I just want to know Him better.  He’s the reason, He’s the end result, I guess you could say.   {End of video}

When I’m 74 years old, Lord willing, I hope my anthem is the same.  There’s still more to know.  There’s still a journey that I’m invited on.  As C.S. Lewis writes at the very end of the Narnia Chronicles about this picture of the life of following Jesus:  Further up and further in.  That we just get to keep journeying with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Friends, life is not about an arrival.  God’s going to take care of that.  It’s about the adventure.  It’s not just about arriving at a destination, it’s about a journey with Him.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.  So, as followers of Jesus, I’m inviting us to echo the anthem of the Apostle Paul:  I press on! Jesus, you’re worth it!  I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me.

For two thousand years, followers of Jesus have been gathering around a table.  They’ve been gathering around a table to remember that the Savior of the world has paid it all.  It’s finished!  And yet, they’re gathering to remind themselves that they are on a journey.  That He holds them every step of the way, that He covers them by His grace and by His mercy, and that therefore, they can continue to press on.  So as you come to the table this morning, would you come as one who is known by the King of kings and the Lord of lords and who invites you “Come deeper!  Come deeper!  Know more of Me, because there’s more to be known.”  If you’re a follower of Christ the table is open to you.  If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I would invite you this morning to give your life to Him.  Confess your sin.  Repent and follow Him.  Surrender all of what you know of yourself to all that you know of Him and, by faith, step into a relationship with Him.  If you do that, you are invited to come and celebrate this King and this Lord.

{Communion begins}