Go the Extra Mile

LOVE THE 937

October 01, 2017

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Chris Heckaman

When Jesus told us to go the extra mile, he wasn't telling us to work longer, stronger or harder. What Jesus knew - that we struggle with - is how to live the richest life possible; how to love in such a way that it changes us from the inside out.

Don't miss this weekend - sharing together in all things worship before we head out to LOVE the 937: Go the Extra Mile.

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Message Map

LOVE the 937: Go the Extra Mile

Matthew 5:38-42


On Humility

  • 2 Chronicle 7:14, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2

 

Step Into Their Story

 

 


The Extra Mile

  • 1 Chronicles 4 - The Prayer of Jabez

 

 

Who Needs Your Extra Mile?

 

 

 

See this week’s REFOCUS questions for deeper reflection.

Sermon Questions

Love the 937

REFOCUS QUESTIONS...


When Jesus told us to go the extra mile he wasn’t telling us to work longer, stronger or harder. What Jesus knew – that we struggle with – is how to live the richest life possible; how to love in such a way that it changes us from the inside out. Don’t miss this weekend – sharing together in all things worship before we head out to LOVE the 937: Go the Extra Mile

MONDAY: Matthew 5:41
What is your “go the extra mile” story? Who has gone that mile for you?

TUESDAY: 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Peter 5:6; Romans 12:3; Psalm 149:4
God said, “if my people humble themselves.” Starting with yourself, what are some areas in life you need to be more humble in? How can you begin to live with humility?

WEDNESDAY: Galatians 6:4-5
The Apostle Paul tells us to each shoulder our own load. Have you been carrying someone else’s responsibilities? Is there somewhere in your life you have not taken responsibility for what you should?

THURSDAY: Psalm 139:13-16
God knows your story from the beginning. Write out your story today. Spend time contemplating how you have become the person you are.

FRIDAY: Ruth Chapters 1-4
Ruth’s story is one of resolve and faith. Are there other people’s stories that inspire you? Why?

SATURDAY: Matthew 27:36-55
Jesus went the extra mile for all of us. What do you think and feel when you read that story? Does it inspire you to something more?

SUNDAY: Philippians 4:8-9
Today prayerfully consider what God is putting on your heart. Is God calling you to go the extra mile for someone or something? Why not take that first step today? What promise do you need to make and keep for yourself?

Sermon Transcript

Love the 937 - Go The Extra Mile

Pastor Chris Heckaman

Friends, I’ve been challenging us and continuing to challenge us as we love the 937 to pray a prayer every day at 7:14am and 7:14pm.  “O God, do the supernatural in me and through me.”

It’s based off of an ancient admonition found in II Chronicles 7:14 back in the Old Testament.

“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

The more I watch events play out in the news, the more I feel compelled to remind us of the first key condition for God to heal our land.

God said what? If my people what? HUMBLE themselves.

That’s right. It doesn’t start with God.

And it doesn’t start with everyone else getting THEIR act together.

It starts with us - you and me.

But in a way we would not expect or be wired to accept.

God doesn’t sit on the throne and just one day decides to heal our land.

No the Scripture says, “If my people, (FIRST) HUMBLE THEMSELVES.”

It’s the way of Jesus.

I love how Howard Thurmond, a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way even more simply: Lord, “give me a listening ear.”

Let’s pray that together as I read out loud: 

Lord, give me a listening ear.

A life that listens. A life of discipline.

In what we see and in what we hear.

May we learn to appreciate the expressions of life foreign to our own.

And not be afraid, letting resentment be sown.

Stimulate our lives. Lift us out of old ruts and established habits.

I may think I am protecting righteousness; I end up only protecting me.

And miss a beauty you, O God, want ME to see. Amen.

Truth be told, I needed to be praying that prayer over 25 years ago.

I. STEP INTO THEIR STORY

The first church I was privileged to pastor was called the Houston Congregational Christian Church. Though spelled the same, that’s Houston (Howston) and not Houston (Hueston) as in Texas. Started there with a whopping 13 people in average weekly attendance. I thought I hit the big time. God, you are entrusting them to ME??? I had just turned 23. 

I really couldn’t believe it. Four of the previous five pastors had lasted weeks or months. Voted out in a split second at a congregational meeting. Every weekend I bought a Sunday paper for the want ads just to keep my fallback options open.

My story involves 1 of the 3 key families. 1 of the 3 only families.

Two adults, their kids and a grandma figure that they had adopted.

They all lived in two modest houses at the bend of an old country road.

Their own little village.

GREAT people. Great leaders for our church once it grew larger.

They sat on the Board of Deacons and Deaconnesses.

They taught Sunday School and were at every activity.

And were RABID Kentucky Wildcat Fans. Emphasis on rabid. They may have needed shots.

The parents were each born and raised in Old Ken-tuck.

They bled Kentucky blue.

And they were SOOOOOO good to us. They had Lisa and I over on several occasions.

We really had such a great time serving alongside each other.

Except when we didn’t.

‘Cuz every now and then, we could get a little sideways with each other.

I realize now it was more me than them.

Way back when the husband was my fifth grade teacher and early on I thought he was still treating me like his fifth grade student.

I found it hard to believe the problem could be ME, just twenty-three years old and pastoring my first church, anointed and OBVIOUSLY knowing everything there was to know. 

They could be just as passionate as I was.

Well, we had one of our small disagreements. It had been a couple of days and my stubbornness was FINALLY BEGINNING to wear off, a little anyway.  J 

When they got word that their “Pappy” died. 

The patriarch of patriarchs.  Head of their kin group in Eastern Kentucky.

They quickly loaded up their van and were off.

I wanted to express condolences. I was their pastor after all.

Really felt sorry at a whole ‘nother level.

I struggled to know what I could do. Flowers? No. A card? Not enough.

It was then that I got the idea to just show up… for the funeral, 309 miles away.

Didn’t tell them I was coming. Worked it out with Lisa and took off.

To Pikeville, KY. Pronounced like Louisville. But in this case, Pikeville.

4 hours and 56 minutes, one way. 10 hours down and back in a day.

The last half of the trip spent on the Kentucky Mountain Parkway. Anybody been there?

On which you will pass the Hazard Spur and Bear Branch Roads.

The funeral home was located at the last 309th mile where the Parkway ended.

The funeral service was like nothing I had ever seen.

The preacher pronounced Jesus’ name with an extra syllable, JEE-sus-uh!

At any moment I thought he was going to jump right out of the pulpit, leap across the casket, and into my pew.  I was convinced the snakes were this close (hold up two fingers about an inch apart) from coming out. 

Nearly two hours later, after an hour and 50 minutes-worth of preaching. We finally headed to the graveside. Not in a cemetery. It was in a holler. Their home holler. That they shared with a family network or clan, spelled with a c and not a k, named one of either the Hatfield’s or McCoy’s. I can’t remember which. But seriously. The week before, a good ole’ fashioned hillbilly shootout. For real. With buckshot and everything.

The hearse drove in, stopped, but then I stood and watched as they transferred old Pappy’s casket, into the back of a four-wheel drive Suburban. I’m watching this wondering what in the world is going on. 

The Suburban backs up and makes a running start up the holler mountain, tires spinning, falling back a couple different times to see the Suburban rev its engine and spin its tires some more all the way up the mountain, literally a mountain mountain. Absolutely unreal.

Once it finally made it to the top we all began our procession up the mountain. No one wanted to get flattened by the Suburban if it slid back to the bottom. We climbed for about a mile. 

FINALLY made it to the top to view one of the most beautiful and pristine views I have ever seen. I felt like I was on the top of old Walton’s Mountain.

The pastor presided over a much shorter graveside, and then EVERYONE helped lower Pappy’s casket into the grave. No cemetery personnel. Each one then taking turns shoveling the dirt on top of Pappy’s casket.

309 miles and then one more. But the one made all the difference for ME. You see, I had a God moment on top of that mountain.

Oh. This is what you wanted ME to see God. Good people. Grand stories. In that moment my stubborn light bulb finally turned on. I realized everything has a reason. And everyONE has a reason.

All the things that had always befuddled about them in an instant I fully understood.

A Pappy was buried and a young man was enlightened - all on top of the mountain that day.

I realized how that family related to me was a microcosm of how they related to each other.

If you could shoot at each other and still be neighbors, you could feud with each and still be friends. 

EVERYONE was in everyone’s business because everyone literally, was in everyone’s business.

And that you can get up ANY sized mountain if you take a big enough running start.

Your tires spinning along the way of life, just added to the fun.

And most importantly, love can run deep NO MATTER HOW DIFFERENT.

God got ahold of my heart in a whole new way…

And gave me a glimpse of what could happen if we could go...

II. THE EXTRA MILE

Today’s text is just one simple, little line.  “Go the extra mile.”

Traditionally, Jesus’ words have been interpreted as our need to go the extra mile for the sake of others and thus demonstrate God’s love. And that’s PART of it.

But I also now know this: if I didn’t go the extra mile, I would have missed out for me. 

I had head-on one of the richest and most transforming experiences of MY life.

Sure it blessed them.  Our relationship was never the same in al the best of ways.

That small act of sacrifice meant the world to them.

From then on out, I had all the change in my pocket I needed to weather any storm. 

We were knit together, each for the other, for life.

But I was the one most blessed. 

When you and I go the extra mile for someone else, we’re not just adding an extra blessing to their life, we are adding a monster-sized blessing to our own. And THAT can be SO powerful.

When we go the extra mile for someone else we step into and can finally begin to grasp the sacredness and value of THEIR story.  How THEY dealt with, responded to, and overcame life’s challenges and sufferings.

EVERYONE HAS A STORY.

Your God is the God who created the world and everything in it.

There is nothing and nowhere God doesn’t already own.

Nowhere you can go that you don’t belong.

Nowhere that Jesus isn’t already waiting for you to step in.

And it’s all found in the extra mile.

This next week you may have:  A key conversation with an opinionated co-worker; A tough intervention with a family member; A not so happy conference with one of your kid’s teachers.

Listen to the story of someone from a radically different background and life experience than your own.

A million different twists and turns go into making each person’s story.

Each of our stories is unique, like the design of a snowflake.

Psalm 139 says it all started with God in our mother’s womb. 

But then life comes along and - remakes us all over again.

And, it all belongs.

The extra mile is waiting for you to discover!

We EACH are the way we are for good reason. Actually, lots of reasons.

There is a reason for EVERYTHING.

From what we believe and most value to how we act, react, and respond to life.

Each of us is put together a little bit differently.  Amen?

When we bump up against each other or encounter conflict, there’s a reason.

The trouble occurs when we don’t stop long enough to understand, let alone begin to appreciate.

How much time do you think it really takes to understand and get the full scope of someone’s story? Jesus said it would take about a mile.

It was called “The Prayer of Jabez,” a little book written by Bruce Wilkinson and published back in the year 2000.  It was about breaking through to a more blessed life via a little unknown prayer from I Chronicles chapter 4, way back in the Old Testament:

“A man by the name of Jabez cried out God, ‘Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.’"

Friends, this is how God does it.  How God expands our territory.

It’s not a point on a map or a new piece of real estate. 

The territory that gets expanded is in our own heart and soul for someone else.

It’s why we talk about changing the world one life at a time.

It starts with us.

When we step into someone’s story that is radically different from our own,

We open ourselves to a new horizon of God.

And in turn, a new horizon for ourselves in OUR one and only life.

III. WHO NEEDS YOUR EXTRA MILE?

Or, reading it from another angle, whose extra mile do you need?

Friends, the people of the 937 don’t need our answers or opinions or our know-it-all Bible interpretations.  5” on Google can cover all of that.

When we step into their stories we step into their LIVES.

Only fellow flesh and blood can do that.

And thus WE can begin to understand realities WE never knew existed, and levels of truth just waiting to be explored.

From skin colors to food loves and family habits. It’s a rich experience to walk the extra mile.

Somewhere along the line we lost the art of listening to other people’s stories.

Whether we’re too busy, angry or divided.

If we just took a little more time to walk the extra mile.

Today we have a ready-made opportunity to help each of us step into another person’s story.

A mission expo is taking place out in the lobby.

**Trips to El Salvador, Jamaica, Hurricane Relief and others that are being planned.

I’m scheduling as many mission trips as I can this next year too.

But it’s not just we can do for them; It’s what they will do for us.

Closer to home, and as a way to love the 937, you can also **sign up to serve on Serving Saturday with your family or life group on October 14 – to work in yards and homes but also to listen and learn…

Every one of us has a person that annoys the bajeebers out of us.

Yet in reality they may be the very one sent by God to open us to whole new horizon of God’s kingdom and purpose.

Friends, this is the heart of Jesus’ Gospel. Will you again pray with me?

Lord, “give me a listening ear.”
A life that listens. A life of discipline.
In what we see and in what we hear.
May we learn to appreciate the expressions of life foreign to our own.
And not be afraid, letting resentment be sown.
Stimulate our lives.  Lift us out of old ruts and established habits.
I may think I am protecting righteousness; I end up only protecting me.
And miss a beauty you, O God, want ME to see.  Amen.

SEND OUT

It’s currently one of the most popular AND provocative of books.

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. The subtitle couldn’t be a more fitting in capturing the reality of our day. A culture in crisis indeed.

It tells of one man’s story who grew up on one side of the tracks yet succeeded in making it to the other. In so doing he had to overcome the challenges of his Appalachian roots to ascend society’s ladder as a Yale University graduate and lawyer. 

In writing about his native kin he says, “Nearly every person is deeply flawed.  But I love these people, even those to whom I avoid speaking for my own sanity.  If I leave you with the impression that there are bad people in my life, then I am sorry, both to you and the people so portrayed.  For there are no villains in this story. There's just a ragtag band of hillbillies struggling to find their way - both for their sake and, by the grace of God, for mine.” 

Go the extra mile my friends. A God-Sized blessing awaits.

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