How we doing church? My name is Brian Morrissey and I am the Worship and Teaching Pastor here at Connect and I’m stoked to be bringing the message in this crucial series we’ve been in entitled Door Holders.
Throughout this series we’re exploring why it is so important for each and everyone of us to hold the doors open for people who need Jesus and we do that through telling our story to others. The very first week of this series, we talked about how important it is to hold the doors open because so many churches are closing them across the world, then weeks 2 & 3 we talked about the importance of sharing your story – how Jesus has changed your life and last Sunday we had some of our members here at Connect share their individual stories in a bold and powerful way. If you missed last week, you can check it out online at connect.cc
This morning though, we’re going to deal with an uncomfortable subject because we’re going to discover the thing or things that hold us back from telling our story. Most of us genuinely want to tell our story of how Jesus has and is changing our lives but there are feelings, and situations that become pitfalls for us in life and they prevent us from sharing Jesus with other people which in turn can prevent them from realizing the change that Jesus wants to bring to their lives.
When people aren’t determined and can’t suck up the courage to tell their story, then other people are robbed of the gifts that Jesus wants to bring to them. We have to learn to overcome these obstacles because as we’ll see today, Door Holders are Risk Takers.
I went to college in San Diego, California and I went to a local church about 10 miles from where I went to school and while working in the student ministry department at this church, I began to hear rumors of this girl that was away at college near Los Angeles and whose parents went to the church I was going to.
Everyone talked about her and said that the two of us had a lot of things in common and that we would probably get along really well. Not having a girlfriend at the time or really dating anyone, I became intrigued at the idea of meeting this girl.
So, one Sunday morning, I’m rehearsing with the Worship team before the service and this girl walks in and she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life. I asked my buddy Nick who she was and he told me that she was Cara, the girl everyone told me about.
And right there, I had a choice. I could take a risk and go talk to her, or I could play it cool and wait for her to notice me. So, I decided to do a little of both. I waited until after the service was over and then had my buddy Nick introduce me to her. Who says you can’t go to church to pick up on girls?
We talked for a minute or two and then we both decided to go out to lunch with a group of our friends. And I was loving it. Here is this beautiful girl, we’re sharing our stories with each other. We’re both Music Majors in college (even though we’re at two different schools) and we both like a lot of the same things, but most importantly, Jesus is the number one priority in our lives. And so I decided to take the risk of pursuing her.
Which was fantastic until my buddy Nick decided to tell me that she was almost three years older than I was. My plans crumbled. Doubt set it. Risk became a non-issue because I figured that I had no shot getting any attention from her because she would probably think me juvenile simply because of my age. Not only that, but since she was home for the summer, the single dudes in the church (who were some of my good friends, and who had talked to me about how much Cara and I had in common) began to circle her like vultures since she was an available attractive young woman.
Not only that, but I had to leave for the summer and go nine hours north to where my family lived. Needless to say, those factors set in and I decided to simply leave the risk off the table. The cost was too high, the risk was too great for me to attempt anything. Good thing God had other plans.
I came back after the summer break and Cara and I started talking. Since I wasn’t interested in taking the risk anymore, it became very easy to talk with her. We went on a youth retreat together as sponsors and we hung out as friends and sang and played on the worship team together and at that point, she was dating another guy in the church, so I left things alone, thinking I had no shot.
But then she began to show interest. She asked me at one point if I liked anyone at the church and that single question derailed my doubts and reignited my risk taking machine. I began to compete with the guy she was dating. He left a bag of skittles on her car windshield one night, I found out about it and left her a whole box. He got her a card for Valentine’s Day, I got her a bigger card.
Long story short, Cara and I ended up dating and the other guy won’t speak to me to this day. And we dated for two years, and I was having the best relationship of my young life. I realized it was time to take things to the next level and so I began to scheme on how I would propose to her.
We happened to be going up in the mountains for a church retreat/ white water rafting trip and while we were up there, I knew my moment had come. We’re up in the mountains, it’s night time and we’re under the clearest sky I’ve ever seen and the stars are everywhere.
I decided that it was time to take the biggest risk of my life and so I took her aside and I got down on one knee, grabbed the wrong hand (gentlemen, don’t do that), and after grabbing the other hand, I asked her if she would marry me. She said yes and the rest is history, but it wouldn’t have happened if I had let that opportunity pass my by.
Asking her took a big risk, with no guarantee of reward. I had a good feeling that she would say yes, but I didn’t know for sure. And you and I do the same thing when we take a risk to hold the doors open, and have the courage to share our story. In that moment we’re vulnerable to all kinds of things and that’s what we’re going to explore today.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.” (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9, NIV) These are the risks we take each day. You and I take a risk when we get out of bed every day. We take a risk when we get in our cars to go somewhere, we take risks when we talk to other people, we take risks when we work, when we play, when we rest. Risks are part of life.
When I was in elementary school, we played an incredible game of risk called link tag. The game was played on a soccer field with a goal at either end of the field (like soccer). In the center of the field was a line and players were divided evenly into two teams. The object of the game was to capture all of the members of the other team.
Play would begin by opposing teams crossing the center line and you could only be tagged out if you were on the enemy’s side of the line. Once tagged, you were forced to go to the goal at the far end of the enemy territory and your only chance to escape from that goal was that one of your teammates would come to the enemy’s goal and link arms with you. Once this happened, you had a free pass from the enemy’s goal back to your side of the playing field where you were once again safe. Now, it was your responsibility to go and rescue others that were trapped in the enemy’s goal.
And I remember loving to play this game because I was fast. I could avoid most of the people on the opposing team and get to their goal, but one time, I got tagged and I was sent to the enemy goal and I waited patiently for my friend Marc. Marc and I did everything together. Marc and I went fishing together, Marc and I played Nintendo together, Marc and I were in scouts together and I knew that Marc would be coming for me.
And I looked across the field at Marc who was safely behind my team’s line. And standing in between Marc and myself was De’Andre Murray. “Dee” as he was called by everyone else who ran away from him in elementary school was big and fast and mean. And Marc kept staring at Dee and he never, not once, crossed our team’s line to come and get me out of the jail.
The game eventually ended and the teacher blew the whistle to signal the end of the game and I walked out of the enemy jail and was furious with Marc. All Marc could say to me was, “I didn’t want to get pounded by Dee. I knew that if I tried to come and get you, Dee would’ve caught me.”
Marc didn’t want to cross the line and a lot of us don’t want to cross the line to tell others our story either. There are other people who are trapped in the enemy’s jail and we have the story that can set them free. We can run through the enemy’s territory to meet them where they are and rescue them from the enemy’s jail by linking our story with theirs and introducing them to Jesus. Then we can safely travel through the enemy’s territory together and both return to try and free others with our stories but in order to do that, we’ve got to take the risk to step over the line and share our story with others.
There’s a whole lot of Dee’s that the enemy puts in our way of sharing our story with others. A whole lot of reasons and excuses that stop each and every one of us from crossing the line to share our story.
Here’s a few for you: Shyness – sometimes people are introverted and it’s hard for them to share their story with others. A lot of people simply feel they are not prepared to share their story. They haven’t thought about what to say ahead of time, or they feel like they can’t answer everything.
Some people are just plain lazy. They don’t want to share their faith with others because that involves engaging people in conversation and investing time and energy in getting involved in other people’s lives and messiness. Other people are the polar opposite – they’re too busy or distracted by life to get involved.
Some people feel that holding the doors open to others with their story makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable. They feel that they’ll be unable to recover from that experience.
One of the biggest obstacles to sharing your story is fear. Fear of losing friends, fear of persecution, fear of being judged or labeled, fear of being politically incorrect. Sharing Jesus with other people is politically incorrect and that’s okay.
Some people don’t realize they should be a Door Holder. They don’t even realize that they have a responsibility to take a risk and cross the line to free others. They don’t act simply out of ignorance. Still other people feel like someone else should do it. They want the Pastor to call and talk to their friends and family about Jesus so that they don’t have to confuse or complicate their family relationships.
And we could go on and on about this, but the point is this, if you don’t take a risk and you don’t cross the line to be a Door Holder with your story, then you could miss out on some incredible blessings that God has for your life and more importantly, there may be people in your life that never hear about Jesus and that’s a really big deal because Jesus is the only thing that can set them free from the enemy’s jail.
Let’s tackle this through Scripture this morning. We’re going to spend some time in Genesis 14 today with a guy named Abram who would later become known as Abraham.
As we get into Genesis this morning, I’ll catch you up to speed. Genesis 1 and 2 is about creation and God making everything, making the man and the woman, and giving creation to us as a great gift to enjoy. Our response to that is sin, in Genesis 3. Because of that, the Bible moves then from creation to curse. We’re cursed, the world is cursed, we run from God, stray from God, disobey God, abandon God, and we’ve make a mess of everything good that God has made.
But God in his goodness didn’t allow that to be the final word. God moved from creation through curse to covenant. Covenant is God’s answer to the problem of sin and the curse. Covenant begins in Genesis Chapter 12 with a man named Abram who would later be called Abraham. Same guy. God comes to him and unexpectedly speaks to him, calling him by name and calling him to a life of faith.
At this time, the Bible tells us that Abram was a seasoned citizen, 75 years of age, and at this point in the book of Genesis, Abram is off to a good start obeying God, and learning to trust God more and more and more, and we’re not entirely unlike him. We sin. We make mistakes. We fail. but God continually proves himself to be faithful so that our faith is more justified and it is more secure in him.
So, we’ll pick up Abram’s story there. Genesis 14:1 begins the record of the first account of any war in your Bible. I’m sure there had been other wars previous to this, but the Bible makes note of this one specifically because it’s related to Abram.
Genesis 14 says, “At this time, Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer, king of Elam and Tidal, king of Goiim went to war” – don’t those kinda sound like the Lord of the Ring names? You’re expecting Gandlaf the Grey to walk out with the Fellowship of the Ring at any moment, – they “went to war against Bera, king of Sodom, Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah, Shemeber, king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim” – which is – “the SaltSea. For twelve years, they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert.” (Genesis 14:1-6, NIV)
Okay, so I did it, I said all those names. You’re welcome. Remember, if you’re ever reading Scripture out loud and you come to a word you don’t know how to pronounce, just blow through it really fast and everyone will think you’re super studied and literate.
Keep reading on, “They turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and there they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites, who were living in Hazazon Tamar.” (Genesis 14:7, NIV)
Now, let me set this up for you ‘cause you’re probably lost, like “What?” Here’s the deal. You have little clans and tribes that are governed by a king, and these kings would form alliances so that they could pull their wealth and their influence and their armies together, and then they could declare war against the other clans and tribes and their kings, and then that way, what you’re looking at is an ongoing battle for power and control.
It’s not unlike our day where different nations align themselves together to position themselves against their opposition, other nations. That’s exactly what’s happening here.
For 12 years, this confederacy of nations had ruled over this confederacy of nations, and then this confederacy of nations decided to declare war and try and overthrow those that were ruling over them, and a great conflict breaks out, peace comes to an end, and now there’s bloodshed for land and for resources to see who’s going to rule in that area in that particular day.
So, here’s what happened: “Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer, king of Elam, Tidal, king of Goiim, Amraphel, king of Shinar and Arioch, king of Ellasar – four kings against five.” What you’ve got here is you’ve got four kings going up against five. The five kings have the numerical advantage, and they were also fighting on their home turf, which is a great advantage because you are supposed to know the land, but it didn’t work that way.
“Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits” – good thing to know. Riding off to battle and, “Oh, there’s tar pits.” Now, the guys who live there apparently fell into the tar pits. I don’t know what kind of training they got in boot camp. Apparently, it wasn’t real good. Seems like military 101 would be “Don’t go in the tar pit. It’s easier to fight when you’re out of the tar pit. If you go in the tar pit, real hard to kill somebody because you die there.” So, the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits “and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into these tar pits, and the rest fled to the hills.” Real brilliant army here. “The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food and then they went away.” (Genesis 14:8-11, NIV)
Now, here’s why the Bible tells us this. Four kings defeat five, big deal, it’s not important. Well, it is important because it affects Abram. The Bible tells us in verse 12 how this is connected to Abram. Check this out. “They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.” (Genesis 14:12, NIV)
Now, this is where Abram comes in, the man of faith. Now, Lot was his knucklehead nephew, right? Lot was a guy who doesn’t worship God, doesn’t ever build an altar, doesn’t seem like a great guy. At this point in Genesis, apparently, he is a believer, not a real great believer, and he’s living where? Sodom.
Chapter 13 of Genesis tells us that the men who lived there were wicked and evil and doing terrible things, and Lot moved into Sodom. Not a good place to be, not a godly place to be. It ends up corrupting the sexual ethics of his daughters, and it ends up costing him his wife. This is a big, huge problem. He’s made an enormous mistake.
But what had happened now is, when all these kings, these four kings declared war on five, one of the five kings who was defeated was the king of Sodom, and when his troops got destroyed, the attacking armies stole everything, and they enslaved everybody that was living there, and Lot was living there. So, now Abraham’s nephew is taken as a captive in war, and now he’s the possession of some foreign king. So now, Abram has to decide, “Well, am I going to let it go because he lived there, he apparently didn’t fight good enough, he didn’t defend his family, he lost the war, they’re slaves, they’re hauled off as plunder. that’s the way it is. Or am I going to take a risk, cross the line and save my knucklehead nephew, Lot?”
And he decides to take the risk. He decides to saddle up and go to war. The first thing you and I have to do in order to defeat the excuses and fears that hold us back from being Risk Takers is we have to be determined to take the risk. Abram swallowed hard and determined that he would take the risk.
Remember, he’s at least 75 years of age. At least 75 – most people at 75 won’t get on a ladder but Abram is going to war. This is a guy who is pretty fired up for a 75-year-old guy, and I just imagine this cranky old William Wallace from Braveheart with paint all over his face, he takes out his best camel, he puts on his saddle and straps down his sword, and father Abraham is gonna go open a can down in Sodom. That’s where he’s going
Let’s pick up the story, “One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew.” This one guy escapes the battle, goes off to Abram and says, “I got bad news. They lost, and Lot was taken captive with all of his possessions and his family. Thought I should tell you what’s going on there.”
“Now Abram was living near the great tree of Mamre the Amorite,” – that’s where he built an altar. He was worshipping God there. This was his church – “a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram.” (Genesis 14:13, NIV)
Now, here’s the deal. These three guys are not believers. They don’t worship Abram’s God. They’re probably neighbors who live near him, maybe fairly powerful guys, maybe they’ve even got soldiers of their own. They decide to ride with Abram into war, which is great When Abram goes to war, these three men who don’t worship his God are not obligated to go with him. They go with him, risking their life, and in doing so, they show that they really love Abram.
Abram loves this because he’s saying, “We’re gonna go to war. I need tough guys. Guys with their own guns. I don’t even need to outfit ‘em with ammo because they’ve got plenty of it. They kill for sport, they drive around in their truck, and if I say, ’Hey, we’re gonna go kill people,’ they’re ecstatic about that”, and off they go to war, a 75-year-old man, Abram and his buddies, and that’s not all –
“When Abram heard his relative had been taken captive, he then also called out 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” (Genesis 14:14, NIV) The second thing we have to do to combat the excuses and fears that keep us from being risk takers is we have to have Courage. Abram had 318 of his own soldiers. These are like his bodyguard, hip-hop posse, big thuggish dudes. It’s his own personal army.
Wouldn’t you love to have your own army? Wouldn’t that be great? I mean maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it would give you a whole lot of courage if you had 318 people with guns on your side. You could get a parking place anywhere you wanted, you know? A whole lot of things would just go better.
Abram’s got 318 guys in his personal army, and they love him so much, they’re willing to go die for him. And so, they ride together, Abraham, the 75-year-old man, he’s off to war. They go as far as Dan. That’s about a 100-mile ride. Now, a 75-year-old guy on a 100-mile ride, when he gets there, I can’t see him being in real fighting shape. I can see a 75-year-old guy maybe riding 100 miles, getting off the camel, and dying. You can’t even see that guy holding his own, but apparently, Abram is pretty fired up about all this.
So, “During the night, Abram divided his men to attack them” – after a 100-mile ride, 75-plus-year-old man, with his three redneck non-Christian buddies and 318 guys from his own posse, they divided the men to attack at night. That’s brilliant strategy.
And that’s step three in combating excuses and fears when it comes to risk-taking. You’ve got to have a plan. Some people say, “Well, we just trust the Lord.” And? “And we sneak in and kill ’em.” You gotta have a plan, right? God not only protects you, he makes it dark so you can sneak in at night.
The point is this: Just ‘cause you trust the Lord doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. People do this in business all the time. “What’s your business plan?” “To trust the Lord.” Well, you’ve got to still have a plan. What’s your plan for your family? What’s your plan for your marriage? “I don’t know.” Well, you need a plan.
You say, “Well, I trust the Lord.” I trust the Lord to give me a plan. You’ve got to know where you’re going. You’ve got to figure out what your plan is, what’s your objective. His objective is “We’re going to route these guys. They’ve probably got more men than us, so let’s go at night.” They’ve just won a big victory, they’re not expecting anybody to come, military surprise, they’re never going to see it. “Wham! We’ll get ‘em. That’ll work.” What you’re seeing here is that God gives Abram wisdom for military victory.
And it’s because there are people trapped in the enemy’s jail that God does this. These people are now slaves of the enemy. All of their possessions have been stolen. You have women and young girls that are now captive in war. Can you even imagine what happens to a young woman who’s taken captive in war? These women get raped, they get forced into prostitution, terrible things happen. Sometimes the only way to liberate people who have been oppressed and harmed is to go in and to defeat those people who have enslaved them so that they can be liberated back into freedom.
Abram’s not a vindictive man, he’s just a man that knows that these people’s lives, including Lot, are going to be in grave danger and harm unless he takes a risk and crosses the line and so he does.
And it gets even better. He pursued them “and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.” That’s about another 100-plus miles. So, Abram rides in 100 miles, just routs everybody, wins this great war, and then drives ‘em out for another 100 miles. You know you got whipped when you’re 100 miles away from camp by the time they stop kicking you. I mean that is a beating. That is a severe beating. Which brings us to the last step in overcoming fears and excuses in risk-taking: you’ve got to pursue the risk. It’s not enough to be determined to take a risk. It’s not enough to have courage. It’s not enough to have a plan because the pursue step is where the action happens. The pursue step is where you actually take the risk and cross the line. The pursue step is where God can work in an amazing way through your story, through your willingness to be a door holder and He can set people free through your risk. Through your pursuit.
Verse 16 is the key to the whole thing: “He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.” So, the women are liberated. All of the people are liberated. The possessions are liberated. Abram wins a great battle, conquers these evil men and allows these people to move on with their life in freedom. All because he was willing to take a risk, cross the line and follow where God led.
You and I have to do the same thing. We have to be determined. We have to have courage. We have to have a plan of action and we have to pursue the risk. When we do that, when we cross the line, God sets people free because Door Holders are Risk Takers. Let me pray for us.
We’re going to give you an opportunity to be risk takers. Door Holders are Story Tellers and Door Holders are Risk Takers and we’re challenging each and everyone of you to do that. Our next series begins two weeks from today on December 1st. We’ve got one more week in this series and it’s going to be awesome, but we’re giving you two whole weeks to be risk takers. Our Christmas Series is called Presence and it’s all about Jesus and how we desperately need him in our lives because in the presence of Jesus, everything changes.
So, we are challenging each and everyone of you to cross the line and take a risk in sharing your story with someone who needs Jesus in their life. We’re challenging each and every one of you to put aside the excuses and fears and be determined to take the risk. We’re challenging each and every one of you to have courage like Abram did. We’re challenging each and every one of you to make a plan for how you’re going to take a risk to tell your story. And we’re challenging each and every one of you to pursue that person or family by taking the risk and crossing the line so that you can link arms with them and bring them to hear the Gospel during our Christmas Series.
We are prepping and praying for God to throw open the doors of this building through each and every one of you who are being risk takers by crossing the line and telling your story and we’re standing with you as your army to help you with whatever you need to take the risk.
I could not be more excited about this because it’s what Jesus was talking about in his final mission statement to us. Here’s what he said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a, NIV)
Connect, hear me on this, we’re a team and it’s our job to take a risk by crossing the enemy line to go and share our story with those who need Jesus in their lives. Again, and again, and again. You and I are here today because someone had the determination and the courage to take a risk by making a plan and pursue us.
And maybe that’s why you’re here today. Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard about Jesus and what he can do in your life. Jesus died on a cross so that you and I could be set free from the enemy’s jail and so that we could take bold risks to hold the door open for others that Jesus wants to set free as well.
Let’s all stand. The band is going to lead us in one last song and as they do, let me challenge you to take a risk and come to the back. Myself and the other leaders will be there. We’re ready to introduce you to Jesus. We’re ready to listen to what you have to say and help you seek the answers to whatever tough questions you might have.
For the rest of you, take the challenge. Be determined. Have Courage. Make a plan and pursue the risk by sharing your story with someone. You never know how many God can set free through the risks you take by sharing your story and being a Door Holder.