Speaker: Greg Griffith

From the series

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Go. Good morning, church. It is so good to be here. And before I begin, I do want to say this to you. Just know how amazingly awesome and privileged you are to have Tim Bolinger as the lead pastor here at this place. He is great and I get a chance to travel and to be with a lot of pastors across all denominations, and there are very few that have the care, the leadership and the ability to do what he does in such a great way and also be an awesome husband and an awesome father. So once again, give it up for Tim. God is doing amazing things for him. You are blessed. Hey, it is so good. It’s so good to be back in Michigan and it’s so good to be back in this amazing summer of Michigan. And we don’t have this in Nebraska there. And so I just am really relishing this moment and this time. But it is awesome to be with you today. And today. I just want to share with you for the next few minutes here. I just want to share with you about what it is that we see God doing through us as the perfect Heavenly Father, as a dad himself who also has a dad. I am always reminded that dads aren’t perfect and that we need each other and we need others. 

Not just dads, but people. And so I want to share with you today what it is to know that, yeah, dads, we don’t always got it all together, but at the end of the day, every single one of us does have a dad who does have it all together. And we have one father who has everything in store for us and who is a perfect father for you and for me, no matter what is going on in our life. And so today, I hope to just weave with you some realities of what it means to have a perfect Heavenly Father who gave his son so that we would spend eternity with our Father in Heaven and in that new heaven and that new earth. So what you’re going to learn today is a little bit about me and my own family history and where God has just shown up throughout my life. First of all, you’re going to hear a little bit about our family system structure. Everyone is a product of their family system. And your family system is how you parent. Your family system is how you husband or wife. And so you’re going to learn a lot about the Griffith family system and I remember when I was probably around ten or so, I was getting to where I wanted to do more and more with sports. 

And so I said to my mom and dad one day, as I said, You know what? I think I want to learn to play tennis. I think tennis would be fun. And so my mom said, Oh, this would be great. Let’s go and let’s learn. So we traveled down to the local high school and we began to to learn tennis. Now you have to understand my mom, whenever she does anything, she learns all of the history about it. She learns all of the things that happened and how it could in any way possibly connect to our family. So as we’re getting ready and on the court of the local high school, it’s my mom and my dad and me with our old wooden tennis rackets. And we’re out there and my mom is saying all the things about what the difference is between a clay court and a grass court and who began a grass court and actually did, you know, tennis began here. And our family history is part of the Spencer line, which is the Kings and queens of England. And so that day, probably we’re playing tennis here and I’m hearing all this stuff and I’m thinking to myself, I just want to play tennis. Like, I just want to go. 

So my dad, though, my dad is a person that says, if we’re going to learn anything, you’re going to learn it all the right way. And so he says, here’s what we’re going to do, Greg. He says, after we start, we’re not going to play with a tennis ball yet. I just want you to stand there and learn how to position and run forward and backward. And so we’re going to do it. I’m just going to pretend to volley to you and then you’re going to run up and I’m going to say it’s short and you run up and then you hit it back to me and we’re going to do this. And I it’s hot and I’m getting tired, right? And finally I’m sitting there and my mom’s in her third iteration of what the difference is and why a clay court isn’t as good as a grass court. And it wasn’t the original courts. And I finally go, Can we just play tennis? Like, can we just hit the ball back and forth? And my mom is so upset. She just kind of looks at my dad with this look of like, oh, our son doesn’t want to really do this. And my dad, my dad gets fiercely protective of my mom and he looks at me and he says, You know what? Forget it. And he slams his tennis racket down to the ground. It shatters because it’s wood and he storms off. 

And my mom looks at me and she just goes, Well, Greg, you got what you wanted. And then she walks off. And then our dog, Charlie Little Yellow Lab, just gleefully bounds off with his tongue hanging out. And I slowly walk back to the car and I get in to just deafening silence to never play tennis again. What I learned there is how important it is to know that we don’t know everything. We get into spots where we think we know it all. We think we have enough life experience. And whether that’s as a preteen or whether that’s as someone in my late forties or even whether that’s someone who’s lived and they’re in their 6070s or eighties. We never know everything. And this is where Jesus first comes to us, just like He came to the disciples and he said, Come and follow me. He wanted to be a mentor to them, and he wants to be a mentor to you. We are reminded today that we don’t have all the plans and know everything that there is, that we always must be in a posture of learning and of humility and a posture of patience. 

And that as we come to our God and to our Heavenly Father, we’re reminded that He is the only one who knows everything and is working everything for our good, even when we don’t see it, even when we can’t understand it, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when we hate it. Whatever life circumstance there is, God is still working for our good as our Heavenly Father. And I know that sometimes that’s really hard to hear. That’s hard to hear for us because we ask to call ourselves the question amidst some of the deepest heartaches. How can God work good out of this? But that’s where we trust that He does know everything, even in a greater span than what we can see or ever understand. And so as I went on in my childhood, it got to the time where I was going to go to high school and I went to an all boys Catholic high school and they had a non cut football team for the freshman year. And so I said to my dad and my mom, I said, I want to play football. And my dad just puffed out and he just beamed with pride and he said, Yes, that a boy. Let me tell you about when I played football. We didn’t even have helmets. 

We had leather leather hats that went on and we played. And he regaled his football career as a high school football player and told me all the stories. And he said, I know you’re going to be destined to be a great football player. And I was I was ready. I thought, I’m going to be the biggest, fastest running back there is and I’m going to be an amazing running back. Or maybe I’ll play both ways and I’ll be a cornerback and I’ll be jumping and taking the ball away on defense. And I said, I’m in, I’m signing up. My mom said, Oh, I don’t know. We’re not sure. Greg, don’t forget, you have one kidney that you’re not you’re not able to do everything that everyone else can do, because if you get damage to that kidney, there’s nothing we can do. And she said, I want to talk to the coaches and make sure that you’re fit to play. And now, as a teenage boy like this is my nightmare. Like my mom’s going to go talk to a coach like my mom and dad should never talk to anybody I know, regardless. How dare they? And I said, No, no, no, you can’t do this. And she said, Greg, if I don’t talk to the coach, you’re not playing. Isn’t that right, Larry? Yeah. And my dad, I could see the conflict, right? 

Like, yes, I want my son to play, but oh, my gosh, I have my wife and I’m loyal to her. So he finally relented. He said, Greg, we have to talk to the coach. So they set up the meeting to the coach and they talked and they talked about all the things I’ll need, that I’ll need that neck protector, because somehow if I break my neck, that will affect my kidney, Right? And so then then they’re going to have kidney protectors and all these things. So finally she comes. She says, okay, you can play, but be very careful. Don’t don’t get hit too hard and don’t hit anyone too hard. And I said, Mom, I’m going to be the star running back. No one’s going to catch me. Like, I’m super fast, right? I wasn’t, but I thought I was. So we get out for the first day and it’s the two days and it’s a hot August. I grew up in Sacramento, California. It’s 110 degrees, but it’s a dry heat, so it’s not that hot. And we’re out for two days. And I’m thinking, here we go. I’m ready. I’m ready for them to line me up. And all of a sudden we get out there and they say, okay, guys, here’s what we’re going to do. And it’s the morning session 10 a.m.. 

And he says, We’re going to start with jumping jacks and you have to do Jesuit jackets and they have to be in sync. And he says, We’re not stopping until everyone’s instinct. So there’s 100 freshman boys trying to get in sync. And it took us like an hour of just doing jumping jacks, so I’m dying. And then he says, Okay, now go run. And I’m thinking, when are we doing film session? Like, when are we sitting down? When are we actually practicing plays? And we just run? And he says, Start running around the track until I say, Stop. And so I’m running in this heat and we’re not even yet into any uniforms or any pads. And I’m running and I’m getting tired and all sudden my side is starting to hurt. And I’m thinking to myself, Oh dear Lord, my kidneys about to pop. My mom’s right. Like, what am I going to do? I’m just thinking. And finally the whistle blows and I think, okay, here we go. Film session, film session, this is it. And then he says, All right, guys, get down and do push ups. And so now we have to do all these push ups. And I didn’t know how to do a push up. And so he’s sitting there and I’m doing a push up and like, my knees aren’t getting off the ground. And the coach looks at me and he goes, Griffith, do a push up, like, use your legs. And I’m thinking, I’m trying. Like, I don’t even know if I can feel my legs, but we’re trying. 

Then he says, Everyone turn over and do sit ups. And so I start to do my sit ups and he comes over to me and he goes, Griffith, this is a sit up, not a neck up. You’re supposed to actually get all the way up, come on. And he’s yelling at me and yelling at me, and I’m just like, barely alive. My kidney is about to explode. My neck feels like it’s broken. I don’t know what’s happening. And finally they blow the whistle and they say, Get out of here. See you back at 2:00. We didn’t even touch a football. So my parents pick me up and we go out to lunch and I’m just dragging in to the car. And then we sit at lunch and my dad goes to the bathroom. My dad was wanting to hear all the stories and he was telling me about his first two days and how he just did everything. And it was awesome. And I’m sitting at lunch, my dad goes to the bathroom and I look at my mom and I go, Oh, I don’t want to go back. I think I need to retire from football. And she she looks at me and she goes, What? And I said, I don’t know how to tell dad this, but I hate it. I hated my kidneys about to explode. I haven’t even been able to catch my breath. We didn’t even touch a football. Like, I don’t think I can do this, Mom. And she says, I’ll take care of it. My dad comes back and she looks at my dad and she says, Honey, I don’t think Greg likes football. He goes, What? 

No, he’s destined to be a star. He’s going to follow in my footsteps. And she says, Honey, I don’t I think we need to listen to him. And he looks at me and I said, Yeah, Dad, I think I’m done. I don’t like this. It’s not fun at all. I really don’t want to go back. And he looks at me and he goes, You know what, son? That’s okay. You need to fulfill your dreams, not my dreams. And he said, And I know whatever dream you have, you’ll be able to do it. And then he quoted Philippians, and he said, Because with God, all things are possible for you, and you just have to decide where God’s leading you to do whatever is possible. And my dad poured some life into me in a time where I was hurting, where I wasn’t sure. And and so I learned from my dad. I learned not only do we not know everything, but then I also learned that there’s times where because we don’t know everything, we yield ourselves to what God is leading us to do differently. And this is why we get to be the body of Christ with each of us. Different gifts and different abilities. But one body. And today I still look at that and I think about how great it is that we’re not always and living out the dreams of our own, but instead encouraging people in the dreams and the giftedness that God has poured into them. 

And that’s the beauty of it. And that’s what we get to be as great encourager of what God is doing amongst us and around us and for us. Fast forward, fast forward to quite a few years later through college and into my early adulthood. I got married and marriage was great, enjoyed it, enjoyed dating. And then we had our our first kid we’re starting to have. And so my wife’s pregnant and we lived, we lived on 19 and Canal and these little condos back there, Clinton Grove Condominiums and my wife’s pregnant. And so it’s our first time going through that. And she’s talking about all the cravings she had. And luckily she had a craving that I loved. She loved ice cream. And like we had our ice cream and we lived we lived down the street from a Dairy Queen. And so we said, well, let’s walk. And we would walk every day to the Dairy Queen. And and so we would just kind of gingerly walk there. And she thought it was great exercise because she was pregnant. And I thought, Well, this is great exercise. I’m working off my large Dairy Queen blizzard. And so so it was awesome. Like, we loved it. And I learned, too, that I would gain every pound that she would gain. 

So like, I walked through the pregnancy together with her, like I experienced everything together with her except for all the actual pain and all the actual and comfort, all that. But but we grew together and it was awesome. But then it wasn’t awesome because she gave birth and then got back to her normal lifestyle. Mine didn’t. And I ended up getting to the heaviest I had ever been to about £265. And I just wasn’t healthy. I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t able to go upstairs without getting winded and it wasn’t a good thing for me. And as I looked at my child and was holding her one day, I thought, I’m never going to get to walk her down the aisle if I don’t make a change and I need to do something. And so that was then when I thought back to running and running and volleying at tennis and running and football for a day, and I said, I think I need to run. And so we bought a treadmill and I just started running slowly and started a path and a journey to run. And I started with running for 5 minutes. Then I started running for 10 minutes. Then I started running for 15 minutes and I got up to where I was starting to run a5k. Now I’ve run a few five KS and I like a5ka5 ks. Nice. And it’s easy. I don’t go blazing fast. I’m not needing to do that. 

But I just got a great pace and then I finish and I feel good. I’ve run to ten KS in my life and I hate them. Ten ks are stupid. Anyone that runs a ten K or more, you might be stupid. I’m a guest speaker. I can say that. I remember my sister in law told me, she said, Hey, let’s do a ten K together as my first ten K, And I said, okay, I’ll do it with you. So we’re running this ten K. She’s a little bit ahead of me, and all of a sudden, like there’s a spot kind of at the end at about 4.5, five miles, somewhere in there where you turn and pass each other. And so, like, she was a little ahead of me. She turns and she’s passing and I’m like, running. And I’m kind of thinking, what am I doing? Like, this was perfect. I should have stopped at the five K, I should have stopped 3.1 miles ago. And I’m going. And she passes me. She goes, Hey, isn’t this so fun? And like, I had all these ungodly thoughts that went through my mind and all these words I called her and all these things in my mind, and I just said, No, this isn’t fun. And I kept going, but I, I hated those. So I do five case and it helps keep me healthy and on track. But the important part isn’t that I just do five ks. 

I actually then have people that I accountable to. I have friends that they are the ones that I look at and say, I need you and I need your support. They’re the ones that I, I gather up and I send pictures of me running or posting pictures of me on a treadmill, or they’re the ones that I also come to and say, I don’t know what to do. They’re more than just my running buddies online. They’re also people that I come to and and that they uplift me and they encourage me and they support me because the truth of the matter is that whatever we’re doing in this life, we can’t do it alone. Men especially, I think, need to hear this. Men we want to be and do things alone and independent. We think it’s strong and it’s hard for us to build community. And let me say this You and I can’t do it alone. There’s a reason that Jesus called 12 disciples and then sent the 12 to go out because God came to show us that He is sending us to empower and encourage and uplift one another. Jesus said, as the Father has sent me, I am sending you and it’s to come alongside one another and to support and encourage one another, to love one another, to cheer one another on. I have a bone disease that I was born with. It’s in my navicular bone and it is. 

It’s the last bone actually in your body that will develop. And so it’s a rare disease. It’s called Mueller Weiss syndrome. And last September it flared up. And what happens is my foot swells a little bit. There’s severe pain on the top. And I actually forgot I had this. And so I, I thought, well, my foot hurts a little bit while I’m running. I thought I’m just going to run through it. Well, it got to a point where I couldn’t walk. One day I got out of bed and I fell and I. I went to the urgent care. They said, You have this Mueller y syndrome. And also my wife goes, Oh, yeah, Like our good friend, our doctor in Michigan told us, You have this. That’s right. And it’s like, Oh yeah, I forgot about that. And so then the doctor saw me and he said, he said, You know, this is something that you can actually get over. He said, Just with rest and encouragement and said, keeping your weight off. And he said, doing all the things that you know, you need to do, you can survive this. Matter of fact, there’s one famous person who also has Mueller wife syndrome. And I said, Oh, really? Who is that? And he goes, It’s the tennis star, Rafael Nadal. He has Mueller syndrome. 

And I looked at my doctor and I said, you know what? I was destined to be a star tennis player. But my dad got mad at me and threw down the racket like I could have been a star tennis player. And you know what it is? It’s a reminder to us that no matter what we have in this life, we need mentors that surround us, encourage us, that help us, that God has gifted us with things of our past, things of our present and things yet to come to do. Kingdom work for His glory. And the good news is you’re not alone with it.

And so today I just want to challenge you in two areas. First, I want you to be able to look and say that you have a God who has designed everything for you for good, even when you can’t see it, and even when that doesn’t make sense and it’s hard. God is still a father who only has good in store for you.

And second, I want you to also know that God has designed you to be in community with others men. If you don’t have three or four or five men that you can lean on, don’t go out it alone because God didn’t design you that way. And so today, find who you can reach. And all of us know that God has sent you to support and encourage someone to walk alongside them and to have someone walk alongside you.

So no matter what has happened, no matter what is happening and no matter what will happen, you’re not alone. Because not only is God with you, but God has given you others to be with you, to Amen.