Life’s too short to play it safe



Well, good morning again! So good to see you! Can we give it up for the staff team that taught in the month of July, and brought us the book of Jonah? What a great job that they did! Yeah, they did a wonderful job. So appreciate Micah, Bunch, Brooke, and Carla for delivering the messages in the month of July.


It’s good to be back with you. Right before I got up on the 9:30 Service, they handed me a note and said that the love offering that we took up for Eastern Kentucky, that we gave over $12,000 to help the relief fund in eastern Kentucky. Yeah. And we’re working with a town of about 12,000 some family members. Their family members are on the council or maybe the mayor of that little town. And so we’re working with them, making sure that the funding gets there and that it’s spent appropriately.  


But what I would like to ask you to do this morning is go ahead and take out your notes, take out your bulletin, take out a pen, take out a piece of paper. I’m going to ask you to do a couple of things for me this morning. And the first thing that I want you to write down is the year that you were born. Now, some of you were born so long ago that you don’t want anybody else to see that. So you might want to be discreet and hold your hand over that number so nobody else can see it. 


Okay. Now, every one of us in this room, we have a year that we were born. For me, it was 1966. For some of you it is 1970, 1980. For some of you it is 2000. I saw a new baby back in the worship center earlier today or before the service. And he was born, I think, a couple of weeks ago. So everybody has a different date. But we all have a date. We all have a date. We celebrate this day. We celebrate your day. And the reality is, none of us really have any input into the year that we were born. My parents didn’t consult with me and say, Hey, do you want to be born in March? Or Would you like to be born in July? Do you wanna be a Christmas baby? Do you want to be a Halloween baby? None of that. I was just born. Had no say whatsoever. But now we have a year since we were born. But we have a dash. And we all have a dash. And this is the life that we live. And we’re going to talk about that in a moment. But we also have a date that we are going to exit and leave this world. And I like to put 20–, because we don’t know that date, but we all have a day that we’re going to leave this Earth. And many of us, again, we don’t like to talk about that. We want to live in the now. And once again, we have very little control for the most part of when we’re going to leave this world. And so you can deny that you are on an exit date, or you can try to keep it out of your mind and suppress it. But here’s the thing that you need to understand. When you embrace the fact that you have a limited number of days here on this Earth, I believe that you begin to live with greater intentionality. 


Now, here’s the thing that you need to understand. Even though we don’t have control over the year that we were born, we have very little control over the year and the day, and the time that we leave this Earth. The one thing that we do have control over that represents our entire life is that little Dash. And in that Dash, we have to get everything in during that Dash. For example, if we must cram in all of our living, all of our loving, all of the battles that we’re going to battle, all the races that we’re going to run, all the learnings that we’re going to learn. We’re going to cram in there all of our friendships, all of our growing, all of our efforts, everything has to be combined into that one little dash. And the question that I want to ask you this morning is, what are you going to do with your dash? 


You have to understand that everybody gets one dash. Nobody gets two dashes. You only get one. And how are you going to use the Dash that you have? And the Dash that you have goes by very quickly. The older that you get, the quicker that life goes by. And this is the reason why Psalmist, the reason David gives us these instructions. Notice what it says in Psalms 9, and he notices how he says this is that “people are swept away in this sleep by death.” In other words, life happens very fast. Life goes by extremely fast. He gives us another picture of how fast life goes “there, like the new grass. In the morning.” So your life, you come up in the morning and by nightfall what happens is that it begins to be dry and it withers. It does. And so literally in the existence of eternity, your life is like one day it comes up in the morning; by night, it is gone. Notice what else? The Psalms say. He says, “Lord, teach us to number our days.” That there’s got to be a cognitive effect, that we have to understand that our days are numbered. And then he says, “that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So he says life goes by extremely quickly. Most of us take our days for granted! our days are numbered and we have to have our heart of wisdom. Now, can we just be honest? Most of us in the room today are talking about the Dash. We talk about our precious life. And most of us, we waste our precious one and only life on frivolous things. 


Think about how we waste our life. Most of you. You waste your life. Worrying about the future. Worrying about what other people think about you. Do you know how most people waste their life? Most people waste their life by doing this; they’re always on social media. You know why you’re on social media so much? Do you understand? I’ve come to a reality. And so I’m about a month away from deleting every one of my social media accounts. And here’s the reason why is because most people are not living their life. Most people are living the lives of others through social media. And here’s the thing, folks. God does want me to live my life through the social media of other people. God has given me a lot, and God wants me to step into it, and God wants me to live it the way that he designed for others. They pursue material possessions. They pursue junk and stuff that doesn’t bring any lasting satisfaction whatsoever. But most of all, people are consumed with themself. They are not able to see the beauty. They’re not able to see the beauty in other people. They’re not able to see the beauty of this world because why? they’re consumed with themselves, and they believe that everything revolves around them. And they buy into that myth that they are the center of the universe. And here’s what I’ve discovered, that every day someone comes to the end of their life. They come at the last moment. And when they come to their last moment, they look at their Dash and they understand that they’ve wasted their entire life and they don’t even know what they wasted it on.  

And so I would ask you again, what are you going to do with the Dash that you’ve been given? Are you going to come to the final date and wonder What you did with the Dash? 

Are you going to live your Dash for the glory of God, integrating your story with the story of the Kingdom of God? Or are you going to waste your one and only life? 


And today, we’re launching a brand new sermon series called Life Is Too Short, Too. And we’re going to fill in the blanks and we’re going to talk about four issues that we focus on that rob us of living the life that God intends for us to live. And today, I want to talk about how life is too short to play it safe. And I want to begin by asking you a question. And the question is going to come up on the screen. And here’s the question; what do you think is the most dangerous object in your home?  Now, think about that real quick. In your own mind, what is the most dangerous object in your home? 


On the count of three, I want you to yell out the most dangerous object in your home. One, two, three. All right. Well, yeah, all of those things, right? So if you said your spouse, I don’t know about that, but pray for that. But I don’t know if there’s any right or wrong answer about what’s the most dangerous thing in your home. But let me show you what I think is the most dangerous object in your house. 


Now. What do we called this? What do we call this? We call this a lazy boy, right? We call this a comfortable chair. Now, what are these? I need a volunteer. This may be the easiest job that you would ever volunteer to do. Do you have a volunteer? All right, Brian. Thank you, buddy. Come on. I got to call somebody. I know because I. Come on. Give it up for Brian. He jumped up. All right, Brian. So here’s the deal, okay? Now, your job is to get as comfortable as you can get, okay? 


And I’ve got some things to help you. Okay? Now, we’re going to set, by the end of this demonstration, we’re going to set a brand new standard for comfort for everybody. Okay? I mean, we’re going to go all out on this new level of comfort. Okay. And so what I like for. You, do I like for you to sit down in the chair? And I’ve got some things for you to help you to get more comfortable. 


So the first thing I’d like to do is take off your shoes if you don’t mind. And just set them off to the side. That’d be great if you do that. And then we have for you a brand new. Pair of house slippers. To slide onto your feet. 


Now, if you’re going to get really comfortable, what do you do? What would you do? To this La-Z-Boy? What would you do?  Yeah. Recline. Yeah. And you’re not going to go there, are you? You’re gonna go all the way back. Yeah. I mean, isn’t that wonderful? 


Now, if you’re in this type of chair, what are the things that you need is food, right? And what do we call the type of food that you need in this La-Z-Boy, what is it called? It’s called comfort food. Right. And I got some Twinkies here for you. Here we go. There are some Twinkies. There is a Twinkie. Nobody’s reaching for it. Here we go, Twinkie. All right. One more for this side over there. There we go. All right. All of those are gone. All right. So the last service that was all left in the chairs, nobody wouldn’t eat it. But so we get some comfort food, right? 


And if you’re going to be sitting in this chair and you’ll be completely comfortable, there’s one more instrument that you need in your hand. And what is that? Yeah, he’s got to have. What? Yeah. Yeah. A remote for the television. For the widescreen. 75-inch screen. You know, and since we don’t have a television, I thought it’d be soothing for us to play. A little music to help you get relaxed. Okay, so can you do that? Can we play some music? tech team? Oh, now, Just look at this guy.


Now, I want to ask you a question. This is a serious question. Does this look like somebody who’s ready to spring into action? Huh? This is like somebody during the spring action. No, I ask you another question. Does this look like somebody who’s ready to grow and develop into living the All In life for Jesus? No. But does this look like somebody who’s ready to bear pain and suffering for another person who’s in need? 


No. If God were to ask Brian to do a really difficult thing, do you think that Brian is ready? No. Right? Let me ask you to make it personal. If your love was primarily devoted to this chair, and this chair is to maximize comfort, and to minimize pain and suffering. If that’s the goal of your life, if that’s a primary purpose of your life, does that make your heart beat fast? Does this type of comfort cause you to jump out of bed in the morning and say, Let’s go do something great today God.  


And the answer is what? Absolutely not. Now, let me ask you one more question. Do you think, if we left Brian, in this chair with the remote, with this comfort food, with his slippers, and the music playing. Do you think Brian would stay awake for The entire message? No! So, Brian, you gotta get up and you got to leave. Okay. So you have to let it down. So let’s give it up for Brian for being the great prop for us. So, Brian, thank you. Now again, I want to share with you why this chair. Is so dangerous.  


What is so dangerous about this chair is not what happens in the chair. But what happens… What doesn’t happen outside of the chair? Think about this. It’s the relationships that are never built or deepened. It’s the people in need that you need to serve, but you never serve them because you never see them. It’s the great and urgent prayers that you never pray. It’s the noble thoughts that you never think. It’s the race that you never run. It’s the laughter that you never laugh. It’s the tears that you never cry. It’s the battles that you are made to fight, that you don’t fight. It’s the great adventure of life that you were created to live that you never live out. Because why? You’re living in the chair. And this chair may be the most dangerous chair in your house. Not because of what you do while in it, whether it’s what you don’t do while you’re in it.  


Now I want to talk about playing it safe. I’m not talking about your life is too short to play it safe. I’m not talking about that you go and get in the airplane, and you jump out of the airplane with no parachute. I’m not talking about that. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about that you work yourself to exhaustion and burnout, and you end up in a mental institution. I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about that you should forfeit rest and relaxation.  


When I talk about that, life is too short to play it safe all the time. What I’m suggesting is this. That you take your ordinary life and you become a partner with God. You develop a partnership with God. It is that when you wake up in the morning, you go, God, what would you want to do with my life today? God, how do you want to use me today? God, today is a new day. You’ve given it to me. I want to live for you. God, use me any way that you would like. And that’s what I’m talking about. What do you have for me to do today, God? That’s what I’m talking about. Life is too short to play it safe because we develop a partnership with God. Now, let me just say very quickly, if we’re going to develop a partnership with God, there’s three things that we need to understand, and that’s where I want to focus the rest of my time this morning.  

Number one is that. God still calls human beings to do his work. Now, folks, we have to understand, this is what we are made for. This is God’s chosen methodology. God could have chosen any methodology, any preference that he would have had to accomplish his will. He could have snapped his fingers. He could have spoken. He could use animals. He could use trees. He could use water. He could use rocks. God could’ve used anything that He wanted to use. But God chose to accomplish His will through ordinary people like you and like me. And so we have to understand that God has chosen to accomplish His will here on Earth through individuals. 


Now, at this point, I want to ask you another question. And here’s the question. When in the Bible does God interrupt someone’s life, call someone and give them an easy assignment? Now, how many times in the Bible do you find God interrupting someone’s life and saying, “Hey, Job. Hey, Noah. Hey, Moses. Hey, Abraham. I just want to interrupt you, and I’ve got an assignment for you, and it’s easy and it’s quick and it’s comfortable.” How often do you think that happens in the Bible? You know, anyone want to take a rough guess how many times it happens in the Bible? Anybody want to guess? Zero. Nil. None. It does not happen. There’s an entire chapter in the Bible where God interrupts one life after another life, after another life, after another life. And He gives them a long list of difficult assignments. 


For example, God comes to Noah and he says to Noah, “Hey, Noah I want you to build an ark. I want you to build a boat. It’s in the middle of the desert. It’s never rained before. But here’s what I’m going to have you do. You’re going to build the boat. It’s going to take 120 years. You’re going to be ridiculed, but you’re going to save the entire Earth, and we’re going to recreate the Earth from the people that are on the boat.” And what does Noah do? He says, “yes.” 


Then we take Abraham. And God says, “Abraham, I want you to leave your family, your friends, your familiar surroundings. I want you to go to a new country. I’m not even going to tell you where the new country is. But when you get there, I’m going to tell you that you’ve arrived. And when you get there and you get to the age of 99, then you’re going to give birth to a son and your son is going to become the new lineage in the history of the Israelites.”


God comes to Joseph and says, “I want you to be faithful to me, even when you’re betrayed. When you’re even thrown in jail and accused of things that you didn’t do.” 


God comes to Moses and says, “You’ve been a shepherd for the last 40 years on the back side of the desert. But I’m going to give you a new calling. You’re going back to Egypt where you’re wanted for murder, and you’re going to go back and you’re going to defy Pharaoh and you’re going to lead my people out of captivity, and you’re going to lead them into the promised land.” 


And God calls all kinds of people, but God never calls us to easy, comfortable lives. Here’s how the writer of Hebrew describes it in Hebrews 11. He says, “How much more good do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the story of the faith of Gideon and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and we see what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,” Here are some difficult assignments, “quench the flames of fire, and escape death by the edge of the sword. Their weaknesses were turned into strengths. They became strong in battle and put all whole armies to fight. Women receive their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.” 


You begin to get the picture. This is not an easy, comfortable calling. “Some were jeered at and their backs were cut open with whips. Others who were called by God were changed in prisons. Some were called by God. Were denied by those who died by stoning. Some were sawed in half.” And others who were called by God receive a difficult assignment, “They were killed with a sword. Next, Some went about wearing the skins of sheep and goats. Destitute and oppressive. Mistreated. They were too good for this world. Wandering over deserts of mountains. Hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” In other words, they were on the run. “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith. Yet none of them received all that God had promised.” Friends, reading through these words, you get the picture that when God gives you your calling, when God places a calling in your life, it’s never just something that is easy, comfortable and quick.  


It’s always difficult. It’s always something of greater value. See, we place a value on being comfortable. In fact, you know what the spirit, the dominant spirit of this age is? The dominant spirit of this age is the spirit of comfort. But you know what? That’s not even in God’s  vocabulary. Now Eastside, I’m just going to get real with you for the next few minutes, okay? I’m going to do it whether you agree to it or not. But if you agree to it, that will be easier. Okay? I am going to get real with you. God has a work for us to do in this county. God has given us a calling in Romans 11:28-29, somewhere along there. It says that “God’s calling is irrevocable. His gifts and calling are irrevocable.” God has placed a calling on Eastside. And we’ve made it very clear what the calling is. We believe the calling is for Eastside to push back darkness in Madison County.  


Because this is the way that God operates. God uses people. He uses his children. And God wants to push back darkness in Madison County. And God wants to help more and more people to live the All In love. And we believe as a church that God has called us to help 10,000 people, to get on the journey of living they’re All In love that God has placed, that calling upon our lives. And folks, let me ask your question. Is that quick? Is that easy? Is that comfortable? And the answer is what? Absolutely not. Folks, there’s no YouTube video on how to help 10,000 people to live an All In life for Jesus. There’s no book that will help you to navigate the waters of helping people to live the All In life. There’s no master teacher out there that will help you to do this. Folks, this is something that God has placed on our hearts and the staff has accepted this calling. We’re stepping into this calling whether you’ve stepped into it or not because we believe that this is the calling that God has placed in our hearts. And here’s the interesting thing about this calling is that I am surprised how some of you have shrunk back from this calling. I would expect some of you to step up to the plate and go, “You know what, pastor? I know that we’re going to want a second campus? I don’t even know what that looks like, but whatever you need me to do, you signed me up because I’m in it to make a difference. I’m in it to be used by God. I only have one and only life, and I want to make the biggest impact that I can.” 


I would expect some of you to start handing me a check for $50,000. For $500 for $10 or $100 or $500 or $5,000. You say, “Pastor, we know that this is going to be expensive. We know that this is a calling from God and we’re bought into it.” I’ve had people go to me and they go,”You know what? I guess that they are going to ask me to go to the new campus.” We’re not asking to do anything. We’re asking you to live the All In life and be on a mission with God, and whatever God is asking you to do, that’s what you should be doing. 


I would expect some of you to step up and go, “Pastor, I live on the north end of town. I need to start a home group so that we can start sowing seeds of growth in that community, so that when we open the campus is that we’re gonna have all kinds of people that’s going there.” 


Folks, listen to me. This calling that God has placed on us, it’s going to be grueling. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be difficult. It’s not going to be easy. But here’s the thing, my friends, is that I’d rather be on a mission with God doing the hard things and be having growing pains than having dying pains. You know what dying pains looks like? It is when we have to cut out children’s ministry. We have to cut out youth ministry. We have to fire staff members. We have to cut off part of the building because we don’t have electricity, or the money to pay for the electric bills and the utilities. Folks, I’d rather have growing pains than dying pain anytime. And here’s the thing. Some of you, you want the soft, easy, comfortable lot, and here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to give every excuse why you leave Eastside. You’re going to say; “You know what? I don’t like the fact that Pastor Virgil is not teaching every weekend, so I’m just going to go somewhere else.” That’s just an excuse for you being one in the lap of comfort rather than digging in, rolling up your sleeves, and going on mission with God and investing in the one and only life that you have. 


Please folks, listen to me. I’m not going to be around forever. We might as well get over that, and realize that I’m on my way out, either literally or retired. One or the other. It’s happening one way or the other. 


Folks listen to me, God is asking us to do the impossible. Because that’s what God always asks us to do. That’s what He always asks us to do. He never ask. And you can use excuses. You can make me the human punching bag. You can make whatever change that we’re doing, the human punching bag. Just go ahead and make us a human punching bag and leave. Because you know what? God wants people who want to be on a mission and invest in their one and only life. I think if you can’t give me an amen out that I don’t know how to get an amen. 


Number two, quickly, there’s always a response to God’s call. In almost every case the person God interrupts gives his or her response to the call that God gives to them. When God gives somebody a hard assignment in Scripture. How often does the person say back to God, something like this, “What a great opportunity. Defy Pharaoh, take on the Midianites, spend the night in the lion’s den, walk into a fiery furnace, marry a virgin who’s pregnant and claims that she’s still a virgin. Face jeers, beating, prison… What a great challenge! Sign me up, and can you super-size it for me? I would love for it to be super-sized.” Almost never do the people in the Bible respond to God that in that way. You know, they usually respond to God in fear. And we should have fear in our hearts, because this is a big assignment. 


Sometimes it’s the fear of inadequacy. Remember Moses and his excuses? Sometimes the fear is that of failure. Remember the scouts that Moses sends out into the Promised Land? And he goes, “Go into the land of milk and honey and find out what’s going on.” And they come back with these big grapes and they give this report that the land is flowing with milk and honey, which is their best description of the fruitfulness of the land. And then they begin to say, “But the people in the land… They’re bigger than us; they’re giants. We look like grasshoppers in their sight. And in fact, what we need to do, is it’s going to be too hard, we need a turnaround and we need to go back to Egypt and go back into captivity.” 


Sometimes people, they have their fear of God. Remember the story of the story of the master who took some money and he gave to it to three of his servants, three large sums of money. Remember this? And they take it. He goes, “Go out and double your investment that I’ve given you.” And two of them, they go out and invest, and they double the investment. And the third one says, “You know what, master? I know your heart, master. So, I didn’t do anything with the money that you gave me. I just buried it.” In other words, he was a lazy servant. He didn’t do anything because he was afraid, and he decided to play it safe. 


See some of you think that God would never. Call us to do something like this? You think, Well, why would God ever ask us to do something that we can’t handle? Because that’s what God always does. God would never ask us to do something that scares us to death. Yes. He always asks us to do something that scares us. See, folks, God’s pattern in the Bible. When he calls people to do something, there’s always this fear. There’s always this being scared to death because it’s bigger than us. We can’t do it on our own. Our initial response is always fear when God is asking us. He’s placed a calling on us to reach 10,000 people. What are we going to do with this invitation? Or we’re going to dismiss it, or slow play it. Are we going to neglect it? Are we going to run because we’re scared and afraid? God says, “I know that you’re afraid. I know that you’re fearful.” 


And so God gives us number three. God gives us a promise. But here’s the promise that we have to understand. That God understands that our response is resistance. God understands that we’re afraid. God understands that it’s bigger than us. And God knows that we’re scared. And so God goes, “You know what? I’m gonna give you some promises.” There’s all kinds of promises in the Bible. But there’s two that I want you to hold on to. 


The first one is Joshua one nine. God says “Heaven commanded you. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not get discouraged for the Lord. Your God will be with you wherever you go.” Folks, we have right here in this passage the promise that God will always be with us, that nothing can separate us from God. 


See, folks, I don’t know what the future’s going to look like. I don’t know how much it’s going to cost us. I don’t know how much pain and suffering we’re going to have to endure. I don’t know how many people are going to run. I don’t know how many people are just going to leave because we’re doing this. I don’t understand it either. But here’s what I know, whatever the future holds, God’s going to be with us every step of the way. And it does not guarantee success. We may fall flat on her face, but that’s not the issue. The promise is not to be successful. The promise is that God will never leave us or forsake us. But nothing can separate us from God. God will always be in our corner. Nothing can separate us from his love. And this is the reason why. Paul writes in Romans Chapter Eight, “For I’m convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 


Folks. God’s for us. Who can be against us? God’s owner, son. God’s looking for a people to step out and to live their one and only life fully devoted to him. And I believe that’s what God’s called us to do. I’ve stepped into it. I own it. I’m all in. But you have a response. You have a choice. Either you believe the promises of God. Or you don’t. Either you’re willing to sacrifice your life for the hard, difficult things. Or you’re going to sacrifice your life for the easy, comfortable things of life. The choice is yours. We can’t make that for you. But here’s what I know is that God’s calling is irrevocable. God’s calling is on us. And I pray that you step into it. I pray that you will embrace it. I pray that you would say, you know what, that one and only life that I have, that Dash, I’m going to live it fully for God because my days are numbered.  


Would you pray with me this morning? Father, thank you, for your calling. Lord, I’ll be honest with you, I’m probably the most scared in the room. I’ve never done this. I’m fearful that people will think that I’m all about numbers. And Lord, you know, my heart. I’m never about numbers, I’m about people. And Lord, I just know that every number represents an individual. And every individual, there’s a story, a story that needs to be heard, needs to be shared. And Lord, I just know that we don’t have to worry about your reputation because your reputation is covered by you. And the Lord that you have all this worked out. Father. Help us to see that life is too short to play it safe. I pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.