Speaker: Tim Bollinger
Scripture: Mark 10:35-45

From the series Live Generously

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Good morning. It’s good to see you all this morning. Those of you have joined us in person, those of you that are streaming online, or maybe you’re watching later on demand. My name’s Tim. I get the privilege of being the lead pastor here, and we are glad that you are with us today, because we know and trust God has something for every single person today. if this is your first time here, let me just warmly welcome you once again and let you know that right after the service, in our west lobby. I would love to meet you. I’ll be out there, shake your hand and just maybe learn a little bit more about what led you here today. And thank you for joining us. If you’re joining online, you can jump into the chat. There’s people there to assist you and answer any questions you may have. As today, we are starting a two part sermon series, which is part of our vision statement here at Shepherds Gate called Live Generously. And what’s a little bit unique is that we’re actually going to be piggybacking off of where we left off last week. 

And so if you were here last week, I started by asking this simple question, what are your most valuable resources? And you all said and, and last week we talked about everyone’s favorite subject. See, you all took the message to heart. Okay. Money. So maybe you’re like, oh, man, I’m so glad I missed last week. If you missed last week and you call Shepherd’s Gate home, you need to go back and make sure you listen to the message. This week and next week we’re going to be talking about time, which I would argue is your most valuable resource. And so we’ve been asking these questions. How do we spend our time and how do we manage our money? See here at Shepherd’s Gate, it’s very simple. We believe that we exist to impact the world with the love of Jesus. That’s our mission statement. It’s been since January of 2020, and honestly, it’s because that’s what Jesus told the disciples to do. And the way that we live this out, the way that we make this practical for those who call Shepherd’s Gate home, is through our vision that we value everyone we meet, influence everywhere we go, and live generously with everything that we have. Now, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re thinking about being a follower of Jesus, or you have an opinion about people of faith, you would assume that people should probably value everyone. Like the first one should be easy to digest. 

Influencing everywhere we go is simply that we’re involved in our local community, and that God would open doors for us to go and to serve in other countries, so that we could proclaim the gospel. We’ll be talking more about that next week. So make sure you’re here next week. And this last one, this is the one that I think is the most difficult. This is the one that I think people struggle with. This whole idea of living generously with everything, not just some things, but everything which is our physical beings, our minds, our hands, the gifts and abilities that God has given us, that we would actually take time to use those to impact somebody else’s life, even if it means we get nothing in return. And so the two ways that we do that here at Shepherd’s Gate, it’s very simple. We step in and serve and we step out and serve. We step in and serve and we step out and serve. And we encourage our church to be part of both of these realities. We just believe, according to Scripture, that God has placed you. If this is the place that you call home at a time and a place that you would be a blessing to others who also call Shepherd’s Gate home. Amen. And not only do we get to be a blessing to each other like we’re all part of one big family, because that’s what he tells us. He calls us into his family, that we then get to go, and we get to serve those who are yet part of his family as we serve our community. Amen. 

But again, today, the focus is on stepping in and serving. These are kind of the major areas that we have here at Shepherd’s Gate. And you wouldn’t believe the incredible amount of volunteers that freely give up their time to serve, whether that’s in our adult ministries or in care, working with our communications, or how about even our facilities and grounds, people that will volunteer and they’ll come in and they’ll paint walls, or they’ll patch drywall or believe it or not, we even have people that will come and they will help do the landscaping of Shepherd’s Gate. And how many of you you want to sign up to help us do our landscaping this year? One person, Marlene, I’m trying to help you out this morning. You, this lady right here, she does anincredible job. She’s taking our landscaping to the next level. I’m always amazed. It’s like one of the hardest things to recruit for volunteers. Why is it some of you might be saying I can barely do a landscaping at my own house? And yet, here at Shepherd’s Gate, God’s house, no one owns this place. Jesus is the head of this place. Kids and students, special events. Maybe it’s the welcome team that the people that that are incredible at welcoming those that walk through our doors in this last one worship tech and set design. 

I mean, it’s absolutely incredible the amount of volunteers it takes to run our services each and every week, and especially now with all   technology that we have, the people that work behind the scenes in order for those to stream into our services. And when you know, every single Sunday I meet someone else that tells me we started at Shepherd’s Gate by watching the services online, and sometimes they’ll say, we’ve been watching for a month. Sometimes they’ll say three months. Some even say up to six months. And today is our first time being here in person. And so we’re blessed that we have the ability to stream our services and make that an opportunity to connect to people that are in our community. And so when you think of all the incredible ways that people have to  serve here at Shepherd’s Gate, and you think ofall the incredible ministry that goes on here at Shepherd’s Gate, and you’re here   because you love the church. You’re not here because you hate Shepherd’s gate, and you want to leave Shepherd’s gate. Otherwise, you’d be another church this morning because there’s plenty in our community.  What would you say is the percentage of people who serve? 

And do you think that number has increased or decreased since we hit that little speed bump back in 2020? Look how loud that is those online. It’s very loud that it’s a decrease. And now that it’s 2024, are we past that? Can we get past where you know all of this and get back to to serving and living generously with everything that we have? We’re doing another four years. Here’s the reality at nice. And I made this point last week when it comes to financially supporting this church. I want to be crystal clear on these percentages because this percentage is those that call Shepherd’s Gate their home, to the point that they have gone to our new member class, and they’ve stood in front of the church and they have said this is my church. I’m going to worship here faithfully. I’m going to serve here faithfully. I’m going to be involved in relationships with other people here. And finally, I’m going to financially support Shepherd’s Gate. So this isn’t a percentage based on our in-person attendance or online attendance. This is just those who have actually crossed over the threshold and made a commitment to this local church. And this is the percentage of people who are serving currently at Shepherd’s Gate. 

Okay. Does that surprise you? And so what’s happened is those that serve are serving more. Some of our ushers and greeters, kind of simple serving opportunities where their bench was really deep, has somehow been reduced because there’s people that just haven’t gone back to asking to be put on the schedule again or to serve again. Our kids ministry, student ministry, care ministry, so many areas of our church where there is a percentage of faithful people who are rolling up their sleeves and giving even more of their time. And today you get the opportunity to meet some of them. Today, right after this service in our former worship center, you can go and you can learn about all the ways in which you can use your gifts and your abilities to serve others. But here’s the reality of where we’re at here as a church. It takes 356 people to fulfill all the serving roles we have at Shepherd’s Gate on a monthly basis. So all the ministry that takes place from Sunday to Saturday morning, noon and night, all the different ways in which we minister to people the staff have figured out it’s 356 is the ideal number. You can see it here that we have 240 people serving in these roles. And so those of you that are good at math, what is the difference in these two numbers? 116 which the reason that we have our volunteer service every single year is because it kicks up about 100 new volunteers. 

And so today, that’s why we’re taking this time on our service. That’s why we’re talking to you, because we believe the Holy Spirit is going to stir hearts once again in the people of Shepherd’s Gate, that as the seasons change, that God is also going to change some hearts and lives and stir in you a desire to want to give back your time. See, in the church world, and especially with messages like this, it can be very lore heavy. In fact, there’s really two main messages of the Bible it’s law and gospel. And whenever you talk about, you know, resources, whether it’s your financial resources or giving of your time, people sometimes interpret that as guilt. Well, you’re just trying to make us feel guilty. I’m here to tell you that’s not our heart’s desire at all. We don’t want anyone to serve in any capacity because they feel guilty or coerced into doing that. It’s the same thing with your financial resources. We want people to gladly and willingly give back to their church, and as they do that, they’re actually giving unto the Lord. You might not realize this if you’ve never served before serving. It’s actually a joy to serve. Your heart becomes overwhelmed because you are beginning to work within the giftings that God has given you, instead of your life always being focused on yourself or focused on your little family, all of a sudden now you see this big, broad stroke of of opportunity that God opens up and he opens up your heart and he opens up your mind, and you begin to actually sacrifice your time. You sacrifice yourself. 

And in those moments, we represent Jesus.In those moments, we fully see what it is that Jesus has called us in as a disciple. And so when you think of this idea, well, why doesn’t everyone who call shepherds Gate their home do something? Like, imagine if you were here. I gave you the clicker. What would you say to yourself? For what would you say to me if I attend here? But I’m not using my gifts and abilities. Like flip the script and think about it from that perspective. What is it? What is the barrier that’s keeping you from using your gifts as part of this local community? It’s kind of interesting because if you were here last week, we we, ended with the story of Jesus having a conversation with a rich young ruler. You remember this, and he challenges this rich young ruler. He says, go and sell all of your possessions, give them to the poor, and come and follow me. And you couldn’t do it. So in fact, the scriptures tell us that he turned away and he was saddened because he knew something was missing deep down inside of him. But he couldn’t let go of his wealth. He couldn’t let go of what he had built for himself on this earth. Well, what’s interesting is the very next verse, Jesus is walking with his disciples toward Jerusalem, and he’s telling them for a third time how things are about to play out. He knows he’s getting closer and closer to his time on earth coming to an end. 

And he turns to him and he says this while they’re walking. He says, just do you know they’re going to take me captive and they’re going to beat me, and they’re going to spit on me, and they’re going to mock me, and they’re going to put me on a cross, and they’re going to crucify me. But remember these words, do not fear, because three days later I will rise from the dead, and I will prove once again that I am the Son of God. So you got the order here. Conversation with the rich young ruler. All the disciples hear what’s going on. He’s now telling them for a third time, this is what’s about to play out. We’re getting closer and closer, and this is the very next thing that happens in Scripture. Two of the disciples, James and John, come to Jesus and say, teacher,  we want you to do for us whatever we ask. That is a very dangerous statement to make. How many of you, you have people in your life that do this to you? I need you to say yes to what I’m about to ask of you, but I can’t tell you until you commit to saying yes. Does anybody have people like that in their lives? Do any of you your kids do this to you? What are they thinking? Jesus, knowing everything he still says. All right, well, let’s play along. See how this goes. 

What do you want me to do for you? Here’s their answer. Let one of us sit on your right and the other on your left in your glory. Wait a second time out. You just heard him talk to the rich young ruler and what he’s asking of him to do. He’s telling you that he himself is going to go to the cross and die and be mocked. And now you’re positioning yourself. You’re worried now about where you’re going to sit. And in their minds, they still haven’t seen it from an eternal perspective in their minds and in their hearts. They still think he’s going to overthrow the current government, the Roman government,  and that he’s going to become the king. And they want to make sure that their spots are secure on his right and on his left. What is their issue? Pride. The same issue that the young man dealt with last week. Jesus says, you don’t know what you’re asking. Can you drink the cup? I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? Let me put this in context for you, because in the early church in this time period, this was how they would describe martyrdom. And so basically what he’s saying is, are you so bought into me being the Son of God? Do you believe that I really am the Son of God, that I am the Savior of the world, that you are willing to die, that you are willing to have your life cut short on this earth. That means one more person gets to hear the gospel message. 

I mean, some of you watch that movie Braveheart, right? And William William Wallace is on his horse and he’s going across and he’s getting all the men all excited. And what does he say? They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom. This is Jesus saying the same thing. Like, are you really in it? At all cost? It’s not just asking for their finances. He’s not just asking for their time. He’s asking for their lives. And how did they respond? We can say they have no idea. Absolutely no idea. Jesus tells them this. You will drink the cup I drink. You are going to lose your lives. You’ll be baptized with the baptism I’m baptized with. But to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared. God determines those things. God is the one who has set things in order. God knows from beginning to end, from first to last. He will determine those things. Well, wouldn’t you know, there’s ten other disciples, and when they hear about it, they become indignant with James and John. Why are they becoming upset with James and John? There’s really only two options. And you just said one of them because they didn’t think of it first. Or maybe they’re rebuking them because they’re like, guys, what the heck, man? What are you doing? Why would you ever ask this of him? But Jesus, in his love and his grace and his mercy. Calls them together. Lean in guys, another teachable moment.

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them. The Romans and their high officials exercise authority over them. Look around guys, look at the culture that you’re in. Look how oppressive the government is. Look how restrictive it is for you. Is that what you want? Are you more worried about the seat that you that you sit in and kind of the public eye that you would have and the popularity that you would have? And he says these four words, he looks at him and he says this. It’s not going to be this way with you. Not so with you. Instead, anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first, you’re going to be a bond servant of all, which is another way of putting that. You would be the bottom of the serving pile. You would do the menial tasks, the worst tasks, the tasks that nobody else is willing to do. You are going to sacrifice on a whole nother level because you’re followers of me. And he brings him back to what he was talking about at the beginning, because even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. See this verse right here is the gospel verse in this passage, and I want you to hear me loud and clear. When it comes to the distinction between law and gospel, we do not serve because Jesus served. If that’s the case, then Jesus is reduced to a moral leader and we’re simply following in his example. We serve because of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross for us. 

When the Holy Spirit awakens faith in your life and you see the cross, you see the penalty that was paid for our sins. You see that he did for us what we could never do for ourselves. And we are brought to our knees, and we were brought in all of the fact that he is an all loving, gracious God that stretched out his arms and not only went through the physical torture that he went through, I would argue that it was even more painful, the mental and emotional and spiritual torture that he went through as all the sins of the world were placed upon him. And when we look at the gravity of our sins, when we realize how selfish we really, truly are in this life, and we look to the cross and we think, oh my gosh, I cannot believe that he willingly did that for me. I can’t believe he did that for my family. That he would allow the relationship that was broken between God and me to be restored. That when I’m done with my short time that I get to spend on this earth, that I get to spend eternity with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. That’s the stirring of the Holy Spirit that then says, maybe there is more to life. Than just making the next paycheck or buying the next purse, or pursuing the next business transaction, or whatever it is that we just keep chasing after day in and day out. God, maybe you are calling us to humble ourselves, to take up our cross and to follow you, and to serve in response to what it is that you have done for us. Amen. And so, in light of that, that’s where the question comes from in light of who he is and what he has done for us, how do we encourage people to serve? And I do believe there are some barriers. There are some things that maybe we just need to talk about today. 

We all know that times the number one reason. Thank you. But it’s I don’t have time because blank I don’t have time because I’m to what. But what else. It can’t just be busy. Tired. Thank you. So this is what you call corporate confession right now, folks. Okay. So selfish. Thank you. Overwhelmed. Stressed. Lazy. Got a lot coming from over here. I like this. Get it out. He already knows pregnant. He did not see that at the first one. But that’s a. Does anyone want to give the pregnant lady ladies a pass today? All right, all right, right. How about to committed. Tim, you don’t understand. I have ten children. Five boys, five girls. My five sons are in travel baseball this afternoon. We leave for Cuba. If we win that tournament, we will be on our way to Venezuela. If we win again in Venezuela, we’ll be on our way back to Costa Rica and ultimately back in Miami before coming back to Metro Detroit. And that’s just one of my children. My five daughters are all in competitive dance. We’re leaving for Paris on Tuesday. I mean, sometimes it’s just us. We just overcommit ourselves. Anybody feel like they’re too slow? Someone over here said lazy. How about this next one? This one’s tough. I kind of wrote it nicely on purpose. I mean, you all know what I’m getting at. Is it it interesting that Jesus, again with his disciples on the night he was betrayed, was sitting in a room at a dinner table that he had prepared, and his disciples were arguing about who should wash, whose feet. And while they’re arguing, he gets up from the table, takes out his outer garment, puts a towel around his arm, and one by one begins to wash their feet. 

And then he looks at them and says, what I have done for you, you are to do likewise. We know the story. The question is, do we believe that that was just for the disciples? And yes, the disciples should go and wash people’s feet, or do we actually believe that’s for us today? Are we willing to humble ourselves and maybe even do things that we think or we falsely believe are beneath us? Maybe there needs to be a breaking in some of our lives. Maybe signing up for something that that’s hard or difficult is exactly what we need to get our eyes off our self. How about being too upset? Any of you upset? Maybe a staff member upset you. Maybe you were volunteering and somebody else in our church family said something. And you’re dealing with that anger. If you remember, I posted this last week as well. Maybe it’s me. Maybe you’re upset with me. Something I said, something I did, something I didn’t do. I just tell you this being in a church, family is messy. I don’t always say the right things. I don’t always do the right things. I can become hypercritical to see, you know, not just critical, hyper critical. Sometimes I don’t always want to give people the grace that maybe they deserve. And if you’re upset, would you come and talk to us? Would you not let this go another day or a week or month or a year? If it means it’s keeping you from doing what it is that God has gifted and called you to do because guess what? Our local church is suffering because you’re not in the game. 

Our local church is suffering because you’re on the sidelines. And whether you’re on the sidelines with hands folded like this, or you’re on the sidelines and you’re and you’re just angry, or you’re on the sidelines with a whistle and you’re pointing out everybody else’s flaws and calling out all the other penalties. Whatever the case is, our church is losing out because of it. Anybody feel too old? Last Sunday, after the first service, this door right here, two of our members, mother and daughter, she has a walker, folks, and she positions her walker next to the trash can. And she’s holding on to the trash cans so she doesn’t lose her balance. And I say, are you okay? And she said, yeah, I’m just getting ready to greet people as they come through the door and. I was like, how can I take your heart and your passion for serving and multiply it a thousand fold? I think really the only one we can kind of give people a pass on is probably the next one right here. Two new. Which, by the way, you’re just getting an inside look at who we are. Sometimes the new people are the most excited, sometimes the new people are the ones who get involved right away. I can tell you this. Yes, Covid screwed them some things up. And yes, we’re still dealing with the effects of of all of that and all that’s transpired. But man, it’s 2024. And I just believe that God is stirring the hearts of local churches that are willing to push all of that aside and once again align their hearts and their minds with the Lord Jesus Christ and start serving each other and start serving our community. I just believe some of you that are watching online, let’s be honest, you’ve gotten into a right. 

It’s become easy to not take a shower and put clothes on and get in a car and come to church. I love you. But maybe serving might be what unlocks you. Coming back and being part of the community of faith here. Maybe you need to have a mechanism in your life. And so you’re going to volunteer for something and you’re going to want to fulfill that commitment. And so that’s going to be the way that God is going to bring you back here, so that the body of Christ can be the body of Christ. Because I can tell you this, this is the other thing that Covid screwed up is our relationships with each other. And it’s not because there’s a bunch of introverts, new introverts on the planet. We’ve always had a bunch of introverts, okay, everyone became hermits. That’s the problem. And that’s exactly what the devil wants to do. He wants to tear us apart from each other. It’s the reason that Jesus uses the analogy of sheep and bringing us together, that we invest in each other’s lives. And I can tell you this as someone that has served as someone that has been in small groups, the greatest way to build community with other people at a local church is to serve. It is not in a small group. I’ve been in plenty of small groups. I am nowhere near as close to the people I was in small groups with as I am with the people that I have been shoulder to shoulder serving with. There is something that happens to us when the attention is off of us and on to somebody else, and you’re literally on this mission and you’re moving the church forward and you’re moving a ministry forward where you’re watching other people’s lives be changed. 

Some of you in here, you know, your closest friends are the ones that you went on mission trips with. Why is that? Because you were forced to spend a whole week, some of you, even two weeks together, your time. You gave up your time to be on a mission trip. Some of you do it each and every week. It’s absolutely incredible. Those that that are serving, even right now in our kids ministry, week in and week out, the sacrifices that they make. Again, I’ll tell you, I just believe that everyone can do something right. Maslow Scripture says that can’t say to the foot, the ear can’t say to the hand, I don’t need, you know, we need all of us. And so let me end by just giving you some practical ways that you can do this here at Shepherd’s Gate. Maybe the way, if you’ve never served before, is to tip your toe when you’re in the water by signing up to serve at an event. Maybe you’re going to serve seasonally. Those of you that are snowbirds that are starting to migrate back to the north, or now we have this new thing here called summer birds, where some of you you go and you live it. Your cottages or your boats or wherever you have up north will figure out what that is for you throughout an entire calendar year. So many different ways to do it, the staff said. These are our greatest areas of need, and I know sometimes we will hear people say, well, no one’s asked me to serve or I’m just waiting for someone to personally ask me to serve. Can you all see my eyes? 

Can you guys all see me this morning? I want you to look at me, okay? Those of you watching online I am asking you to serve this morning. Here is your personal invitation. In fact, I’ll be over in our former worship center after the service. And I would love to connect with you and figure out what that is for you. How about this? How many of you are excited about our upcoming outdoor services? Our highest attended services outside of Christmas and Easter every single year. This was the blessing that came out of Covid. We would have never have known that our church enjoys being outdoors if we wouldn’t have been forced to do services outdoors. And here we are, working behind the scenes to try to figure out how we can continue to enhance our services. Because we know that you trust us, we know that you will invite your friends and your coworkers, and we know that our kids will have a blast, and we just get to come together as a community and be outside and worship our God and make connections with people. Here’s kind of what we have coming up, and I’m so excited about we’re going to be having our outdoor service on Father’s Day once again this year. And my good friend, Pastor Greg Griffith is going to be with us. Check this out. Our July outdoor service. We are going to combine with other area churches within our denomination, and we’re going to do one huge outdoor service July 21st at Knights Park in Pavilion on 21 mile and Van Dike. 

Because some of the pastors in this area just think we should stop acting like islands, and some of us should start acting like we’re on the same team and part of the same denomination. And so we’re going to bring everybody together in some big kumbaya fashion and have a massive outdoor service. How many excited about that? And then in August. So we bring our kids and our school teachers and administrators together and we pray over them. And then finally, thanks be to God, the Detroit Lions are now Super Bowl contenders. And again, just just a vehicle to bring people here to get to know us and to serve them. And so if you want to be part of this, this is an easy way, this is a first up opportunity to be part of what we’re calling the Fun Squad. If you enjoy the outdoor services and your family benefits from the outdoor services, would you just consider signing up to serve at one of the four services, one of the four services that God would put that on your heart plus   sound good? All right. Finally, here you go. Here’s the QR code, and then I’m done. As we leave today, we’re going to head over into the former worship center. These booklets are available. They have all of the serving opportunities, explanations in there, time commitment, all of those things. So we really hope that you’re able to stick around, do this with us, take this home and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide you. And just maybe, just maybe, the God’s going to open up an area of your life that’s going to change your outlook and draw you closer to him. Amen.