When Excuses Fail

In our Christian life we should surrender ourselves to God

Linn Winters
Jul 16, 2017    41m
In this part of the Exodus series, Linn Winters discusses surrendering yourself to God. Through the story of Moses and the burning bush, we learn that in our Christian life God will ask us to lay down being control of our lives and in doing this we are able to start living our lives with God in control. It is when we do this that he will have great things for us to do and accomplish. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn: 00:48 Hey Cornerstone. How ya doing? Hey I just want to start the day real quick with a shout out to everybody that's at San Tan, everybody that's at our Scottsdale campus, those are you that are in the venue, those that are going to be at 5:00 p.m, man just thank you for being part of what God's doing and just being in the room for the conversation. We're just glad that you're part of all of it God's doing.

Linn: 01:08 So we're, we told you last week, that we're waiting for an appraisal on the deal. The appraisal has not come back yet which is OK cause it gives you another week to pray. So I'm just going to ask you keep praying, keep praying, keep praying. And we told you we need to have a strong appraisal come back and we're just asking God would you consider doing that on our behalf.

Linn: 01:28 All right. So here we go. Second week in a study on the Book of Exodus and guys we we told you man, this is a rich book and the worst part about this study is we've only got five weeks to go through it which means we're going to be kind of a 30000 foot. And in order for you and me to get more out of it, the challenge we gave you last week is we said, "Hey would you read a chapter a day out of the Book of Exodus to fill in some of the gaps, get the context, get some of the rich stuff that's in this story?" And if you've been doing that then you already have read the story that we're about to do today and it's going to make hopefully a lot more sense. It's going to be easier for us to unpack this conversation together.

Linn: 02:08 Just to catch us up. We started Exodus last week and we started with the story of the guy by the name of Moses who is a little child when the story begins. He's born in Egypt, where his people the Hebrews are despised, and an order has gone out that says, "Hey we can't let these Jewish people that are living amongst us and Egypt become more than us. Bigger than us in population. So we're going to take all of the infant boys and throw them in the Nile when they're born. Moses his mother keeps him in secret for a couple of months and then puts him in a small basket launches him down the Nile. So technically she threw him in the Nile. He ends up being found by Pharaoh's daughter who takes him into the palace. And guys it, from our perspective looking back to thousands of years later, we come back and we go, "Oh well it's so obvious what God's doing. And he puts him in the palace and he's, he's letting them be educated and learn the customs and the knowledge of the most powerful nation in the world. It's just God is so clearly setting him up for a future.

Linn: 03:12 And yet we discovered last week that in impatience Moses said, "God you're, you're just not acting fast enough. We've, we've been in slavery long enough. You appear to be horribly passive right now." And we've all had that moment in our lives when we say, "God would you please heal my my kid who's in the hospital?" "God who would you please take care of my rebellious child?" "Would you please give me the job" and go "God look you're waiting way too long." And so Moses puts his own hand in he just says okay God I'm going to give you a nudge in the right direction. Moses's nudge is to murder an Egyptian who was abusing one of his fellow countrymen. And so now Moses finds himself a fugitive living on the backside of the wilderness.

Linn: 03:58 When we pick up now in Chapter 4 it's 40 years later. 40 years have eclipsed during this period of time and Moses has had to live the last 40 years with his decision in his life. And on this particular day God is finally ready to have a conversation with Moses, and so he, God takes a bush and lights it on fire. Now Moses's job at the time is to be a shepherd. He's tending sheep and so a fire is no small thing. So he looks off in the distance goes, " Woe, woe, woe is that fire moving toward the flock? Is the fire moving away from the flock? And as he watches it's doing neither. It's just a singular bush that stays burning for an inordinate period of time. And Moses says, "OK, that's curious." And he goes over to have a conversation with God here at this burning bush.

Linn: 04:48 Now here's why this is going to be critical. God is going to have a conversation with Moses about surrender and Lordship. And why this is a big deal to you and me is because it's a conversation, that if you are a Christ follower, God will eventually have with you too. This is kind of like the sex talk. If you're a parent you go, "OK. Somewhere, somewhere I've got to have the talk." Well if you're a Christian, I'm just telling you, somewhere the conversation that Moses has with God as he talks to burning bush is a conversation you will have eventually as a Christian and God is going to talk to you and I about surrender and Lordship. And you and I have the opportunity now to peek into this conversation and maybe, just maybe, just maybe, get there a little quicker than Moses does.

Linn: 05:42 So grab your bibles. We're going to go to Exodus Chapter 4 and join an incredible moment in Scripture. Exodus Chapter 4. If you're not familiar, if you go to the front of your Bible you work to the right, you're going to find this Book of Exodus, second book of the Bible. Let me set us up.

Linn: 06:03 The conversation has already started. Matter of fact we're midway through and Moses has offered excuse upon excuse up until this point. He says to God, "Hey wait a minute. Who am I? I mean I'm just a lowly shepherd guy. I'm a guy who's kind of screwed up his life. I mean who am I that you would send me back?" When God answers he says, "Moses I'm going to go with you. So whatever shortcomings you have, whatever liabilities you, it doesn't matter because I'm going to make up for that. I'll be with you." So Moses, his next question is, "Well, hey, wait a minute. The children of Israel have been in Egypt so long. They've been worshiping so many other gods. Which God will I tell them that I met with?" And God says, " You tell them I am, that I am. Which is simply put just says I am the God who is more powerful, stronger than, bigger than, any god they've ever worshiped before. Bigger than the cat's, bigger than the crocodiles, bigger than the snakes. I am that I am.

Linn: 07:05 It's at this point in the conversation when the conversation is going to shift. It's as if God says, "Look Moses Moses, Moses, you're just doing excuse, after excuse, after excuse. That's not the problem here. That's not the problem. The problem is you still haven't figured out who's the boss of you. Who's in charge of you."

Linn: 07:26 Because the reality is if you were to peek into Moses hardest moment he'd say, "No, no, no, no. I am the boss of me. I mean there is just no doubt about this. The only reason I'm here is because God delayed. If God would have been more proactive, I wouldn't have had to put my hand in and done what I'd done. And I'm just telling you I've spent the last 40 years being pretty upset with God that it turned out like this. And I'm just telling you I don't have a whole lot of regard for my own people who are back there suffering in Egypt because here is the reality. I put all in. I said, "Look I'm going to, I'm going to be in this big way. I'm going to, I'm going to commit the ultimate act. I'm going to murder a guy. And that was to encourage them to join me and take the rebellion and not one person stepped up. And so I'm just telling you I'm done. I'm, I'm done being a humanitarian. I'm done. I'm just going to live my life for me. I'm going to do my life the way I do my life. And that's my answer." And God is going to have a conversation with Moses about surrender and about Lordship and his life.

Linn: 08:33 So here we go. It's Exodus Chapter 4 starting in Verse 1. We began with Moses's third excuse. Here we go. Moses answered, "Hey, what if they don't believe me or listen to me and say the Lord didn't actually appear to you?" Then the Lord said to him, "What's that in your hand?" "A staff" Moses replied. Lord said, "Throw it on the ground." And Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake and he ran from it. Now this was interesting moment because look, look, look. Moses is a burly dude. This guy's been out in the wilderness taking care of sheep for 40 years. He has seen snakes. And so when he sees this snake his instinct is to go, "Dude. I am, I am getting as far away from this snake as I can." Chances are it was highly poisonous. I don't know what type it was. I'm just telling you it's enough to make a burly dude run. OK. This isn't a five year old girl. This is Moses. Alright. And he ran from it. And then the Lord said to him reach out your hand and take it by the tail.

Linn: 09:49 I'm pausing there because I've got a feeling Moses paused there. I know, I know the next sentence happens right away, but I'm just telling you if you got a big ole snake on the ground and I just ran from and it and God goes, "Hey you know grab that sucker by the tail." I'm like, and I'm thinking there's an hour and a half that goes by between this verse and the next verse if I'm Moses. Right? He says, "Take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took a hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. "This" said the Lord, "is so that you may believe that the Lord of the God of your father, the God of Abraham and Isaac and the God of Jacob has appeared to you.

Linn: 10:30 Now jumped down to Verse 10 because Moses is going to offer excuse number 4. Then Moses said to the Lord, "Pa, pa, pa, pardon your servant Lord. I, I've, I've, I've, I've never been eloquent neither in the past nor since you spoke to your servant. I am slow of speech and of tongue." And I've got a feeling whatever hesitation or impediment that he had at that point got a little bit harder. Right? You know just a little bigger. And the Lord said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouthes. Who makes the death or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go. I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "Look pardon your servant, Lord please send someone else."

Linn: 11:20 So now we've cut through all the fog. See this has nothing to do with hey I've got three or four legitimate reasons. He says, "Look look look. I don't want to go. My answer is no. Send someone else." And suddenly it clicks. This has been a conversation about who's the boss of you, Moses. And it says next then a Lord's anger burned against Moses. I'm convinced this conversation has nothing to do with the parlor tricks that are going to happen in Egypt and has very little to do with actually overcoming or navigating Moses's excuses. I believe this is ultimately a conversation about surrender and Lordship for Moses.

Linn: 12:11 Go back. Go with me to Verse 1. Moses answered, "Hey what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say the Lord did not appear to you?" And then the Lord says to him, "Hey what's that in your hand?" Isn't that an interesting place to take. "What's what's in your hand Moses?" And he cries "A staff." A shepherds staff. Now here's what you've got to get . Shepherding is an entry level job. This is McDonald's of the ancient world. Right? They have seen the recent advertisements of what McDonalds is doing. The best first job you're ever going to have. And that's what this is a matter of fact it was actually very, very common for children to attend the sheep. And here is Moses an 80 year old man, for all intensive purposes nearing the end of his work cycle and he is entry level. He's flipping burgers in the desert. And God says, "Hey Moses what's that in your hand?" and he goes, "It's a staff." And scripture doesn't say this and I'm injecting it but I've got a feeling God paused here for a minute. That he wanted Moses to think about what he just said, to realize that staff, that entry level shepherd's staff, that's everything I've made of my life up until now. Because I've been in control of my life up until now.

Linn: 13:47 And I think God what have Moses to realize what should have been in his hand, a septer I mean think back God had already placed him in the palace. He'd already put them in Pharaoh's house. He was raising them up. He was educating. I mean the storyline was pretty simple and pretty obvious and that somehow, and I don't we don't know exactly what it was, but you just got to believe that Moses was going to end up in some position of significant authority there in Egypt. He was going to be able to make a decision to release the people of God in the deal. And because he became impatient with God, because he decided that God didn't know what he was doing and in a moment in which he decided to be the boss of himself, he abdicates the throne. And what should have been in his hand is a scepter and instead what's in his hand is a shepherd's staff. And the answer is what's in your hand Moses, it's everything I've made of my life up until now because I've been in control of my life. And guys here's what I think God wanted to get in the moment. You realize that's less, that's less than what I had for you. And that staff represents loss because it's not what it should have been. It's not what it could have been. If you hadn't been so stubborn and if you hadn't been the boss of you Moses.

Linn: 15:12 Just recently Lisa and I took our adopted granddaughter to Disneyland. So some you've heard the story. Our granddaughter from Kenya came to live with us. We're worth thinking about hey, how cool would it be for a little 6 year old girl who just 30 days ago was living what you and I would call a shed with a dirt floor. And now she's in America. `I mean what would be more mind blowing to a little 6 year old than to go to Disney and I mean how cool would that be? And so Lisa and I we, we went big K. So we ended up getting three nights there at a Disney, like Grand Resort, the one that's right there by California Adventure side. And we got three days of park hoppers so you just go anywhere we want to do on either side for three whole days. We get there the first night and we're not supposed to go in the park till next day, but we were supposed to go there the first night, and Catalina looks out and sees the pool. Well the pools pretty cool. It's a neat pool and it's got these slides coming down, all this stuff. So next thing we know she says, "I don't want to go to Disneyland. I want to swim."

Linn: 16:21 "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Catalina. No, no, no, no, no. You can swim anytime. I mean we can arrange that any time but this is Disneyland. And we've got we've got park hoppers and the clock is ticking. And there are going to be done in three days. And every minute you spend swimming in the pool is moments you can't be in Disneyland." She goes,"I want to swim."

Linn: 16:41 And I'm just telling you this. This began a huge conversation. I mean she was convinced swimming was the thing. And so it ultimately came down to a moment we had a look at Catalina and say, "Catalina, look, you just gotta trust us right now because if you do your thing, see if you stay the boss of you right now, and if you decide hey I just I'm going to swim, and that's, you're going to miss Disneyland. And what we're going to ask you to do, look, look, look, we need you to trust Papa and Gigi right now. That what we're taking you, that whatever that is on the other side of that fence, that you haven't seen yet is better than swimming. And we just need you to have a little faith right now because if you stay and swim, you ready? It'll be less than what we had planned for you."

Linn: 17:32 And guys I think there's a critical moment happening in life of Moses when God says, "Hey Moses, what's that in your hand?" It's everything I've made my life till now without you being Lord. And guys, here's why it's so big because this was a conversation that God's going to have with every one of us. And if when God looks at you and says, "Hey, what's that in your hand?" and you have to say, "A staff. It's what I've made my life following my plans swimming in the pool." And God says, "You realize that's less. That's less. There's a loss."

Linn: 18:12 And look, look, look, you may be sitting here right now and you go, "Hey Linn I don't know cause my life's pretty good. I mean I've got this really, really, good marriage." And I'm going, "OK. OK. It's swimming in the pool and all but all I can tell you is this, that if Jesus had been Lord of your life for the last ten years your marriage would be better than that. It would be Disney Land." See some of us will go, "Hey Linn, No you don't understand. I'm climbing the corporate ladder and I'm doing pretty good and I'm all right. And I've been in charge of it. I haven't conferred with God at all." And I'm just going to go, "I don't know. I don't know. I simply know it's less. And that whatever you're experiencing right now is a loss compared to what it what it would be if God had been Lord instead of you being Lord. And it's why God says to him in that moment, "Moses, what is that in your hand?" "It's everything I've made of my life with me being in charge. And it's not, it's not anywhere near what it should have been."

Linn: 19:15 Back to the passage. The Lord said, "Throw it on the ground. Throw it now." And Moses threw it on the ground. It became a snake and he ran from it. And then the Lord said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." Now guys I just think this is a really intriguing exchange. Moses take everything your life has accumulated, take everything that you've made of it right now and throw it on the ground. You get that surrender right. You get that is God saying, "Look you're going to have to relinquish control. You're going to have to give this up."

Linn: 20:08 And then don't you think it's interesting that in the moment he throws it down it becomes a snake. And here. I think for the most for the first time Moses sees life the way God sees his life. He sees, he sees it for how dark it really is. And for the first time he goes, "You know it's gotten me here. It's my own stubbornness. It's my own resentment toward God for not behaving the way I wanted God to behave, when I wanted him to behave. It's my bitterness toward my own people because they didn't do what I expected them to do, when I expected them to do it. And it's my fear. It's my fear that if God was ever in charge that somehow it would be a mistake." And the reality is. It's dark.

Linn: 20:58 And then God says, "Pick it up by the tail." Now guys I don't know about you because my first instinct is not to pick up snakes, especially not poisonous viper snakes. Right? It's just not my first instinct. But here's what I'm going to tell you. If you ask me to pick up a snake I'm probably not picking it up by the tail. That just seems like the wrong end to me, right? I'm going to, I'm going to find a stick in the hold it and I'm going to take it up behind the head so I can control that booger and I'm just telling you the tail is the last place I'm grabbing on any snake. That feels like pinching somebody where you shouldn't pinch them. That's just the wrong thing to do in the wrong moment.

Linn: 21:37 But you know I think even that command is a huge thing. You ever think God's saying this, "Hey you're going to actually pick your life up again. You're just not going to be in charge of your life again. See I'm going to do something right now and I'm going to use you somehow right now. You're going to be the tail. And I'm going to be the head cause we can't get where we're going to get if you're still in control."

Linn: 22:03 How many of you have ever had a supervisor in your life? OK. Most of us. Aright. Two primary functions, not the only functions, two primary function supervisor. You ready? Delegate and fire. There you go, if you can master those two things you're pretty darn good supervisor. Alright because here's the deal, supervisors do this. They go, "OK look here's your assignment. This is what you're going to do. This is what you're required in order to fulfill your job. I'm going to give you some training in order to do that but I am delegating that to you and I'm expecting a performance. I'm expecting you to meet a standard that I have and if you don't meet the standard then I'm going to come back and review and going to put you on a 90 day performance plan whatever it that is. And if eventually you cannot get done what I have assigned for you to do on behalf of me is your supervisor. I'm going to fire you."

Linn: 22:53 The reason God says to Moses, "Hey throw it down. Take it up by the tail." It's cause he's saying to Moses, "Moses. You've been my supervisor up till now. And this doesn't work if you have veto power. This doesn't work if, if you only are giving me delegated portions of your life." Which guys is isn't it true? Is that how most of us navigator Christian walk. "Hey God look, you know what, I'll trust you with my dating life. I'm just not going to trust you with my finances." "Hey God, I'll trust you with my home and my marriage but I'm not going to trust you with my career." And we delegate portions of our life to God. All the while reserving veto power and the ability to fire god when he doesn't perform. And we're, we're never going to get where we need to get on that side of surrender. And you're going to have to take what's in your hand and lay it on the ground. And knowing that when you take it up you'll take it up by the tail. And not by the head. God cannot begin to use you until you lose you. And I'm going to say that again because that's is a big deal. God cannot begin to use you until you lose you.

Linn: 24:36 There's a great passage you don't have to go there if you don't want to. It's Matthew Chapter 10. It's Verse 39. It's Jesus talking about this very same topic. Here's what he says. "Whoever finds" Matthew 10 Verse 39, "whoever finds their life." See whoever says, "OK so this is the plan and you know I'm going to go to school here and I'm going to have my career there. And you know this." And you plotted it out. And even if you attain all that, if you make every single goal and you're wildly successful on your plan, whoever finds their life will lose it. And whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." God will never be able to use you until you lose you.

Linn: 25:43 Now I know, I know, I know some of us in the room, And you're going, "Hey here's the deal Linn, look I get it, I get it, and I get what my answer should have been. But you just need my, my life has progressed way, way past that. I'm just telling you. I've made so many mistakes. Man the backside of the wilderness does not even begin to describe it. And Linn, I'm just telling you I'm older now and I do I look back with a lot of regret and wishes. But I'm just telling you I probably, I probably spent too long in the pool. And I think Disneyland is closing on me and I'm just not sure."

Linn: 26:12 Guys did you miss the story? Do you realize who God is having a conver? God is having a conversation with a murderer. Talk about a guy who has screwed it up. And he's 80 years old when this conversation happens. I mean here's a guy who the vast majority of his life is already in the rearview mirror and God is saying, "Hey if you could figure this out, if we could get to surrender right now we could do something incredible. Because, because, because, you because you are ready for this? Because you and I serve a God who delights in using the ordinary, the washed up, and the mistake filled. That's just what he does.

Linn: 26:52 Think about, think about this. What does God use in this moment to have this incredible conversation with Moses? A bush. Think about, we're talking, ordinary. God uses a bush. God uses a bush because on the backside of the wilderness there's only two things present, sheep and bushes. And if God had lit a sheep on fire what would have happened next? You know Moses would have been like, "Whoa, whoa" or maybe what he would have pulled up a rock and said, "Alright when the barbecue is over I'll eat." You know, I don't know. So God says, "OK I'll light a bush on fire because there is plenty." Now look, here's the deal, if I was going to have a conversation with Moses, Moses is going to show up, "Oh I'm Moses, here I am." I'm not, I'm not doing a bush. I'm doing a much grander entrance. So here's what I would do if I were God. I would have had like angels coming down ahead of me and fireballs. And they would have like struck the earth and then big pillars of rock would have shot up everywhere they landed. And then when the dust cleared you'd seen an angel like posing on the top of the pillar type of thing. And then I would have come in in a grand entrance. I'd be like riding this heavenly chariot and in front of me there would have been like a hundred, mythical, never seen before, heavenly creatures pulling my chariot. And I would have been hanging onto the hundred reins with the tip of my pinky because I'm God. And then I would have taken my shirt off and shown my 12 pack, you know I'd be flexing on the way down. And I'd a had in my hand like some big hairy weapon of some sort. And I would have circled Moses three times going, "I am God" and Moses would have gone, "You are God." It would have been an amazing moment. I'm not going to use a bush. I mean think about that, "Hey God what do you got? A bush."

Linn: 28:37 And now he's having a conversation with Moses, he goes "Moses you know what are you got?" He goes, "A staff." We think about this. Every mythical god, Zeus has his lightning bolt. Poseidon has his trident. Achilles has those cool sandals with their little winged things coming out. No, no, that was, no, no, that was Hermes, Hermes. Right? Everyone, they got there thing. What's God got? A bush. Because. Because, you ready fo this? Because you and I have a God who delights in taking ordinary to begin and to do the extraordinary. "Hey Moses What do you got in a hand?" "I've got a miserable shepherd staff that's the sum total of everything I've messed up my life." And God goes, "We could use that."

Linn: 29:24 He's the same God who turns to a young shepherd boy says, "Hey what are you having your hand?" He goes, "Well I got this little sling for running off coyotes." And God goes, "Man we could kill giants with that thing." He turns to Samson and says, "Samson what do you got in you hands?" He goes, " Well I got a jaw bone of an ass." He goes, "Well you could kill thousands of philistines with that." " Wow, let's do that." He turns to the disciples one day while they're out and he says, "what are you guys get on your hand?" They go, "Oh we just have a net" and says, "Oh throw it over the side of the boat." Woohoo. He turns to a little boy, he says, "What do you have in your hand?" He says, "I've got five small fishes and two little loaves" and he goes "Man we could feed 5000."

Linn: 30:04 And he turns to you and me and he says, "Hey what do you got in her hand?" And you and I go, "I don't know. It's just like a wrench." And he goes, "Man I could use that. We could do great things for the kingdom with that. "What do you got in your ?" "Oh, I just got a spray gun." "That's right oh man. If you threw that down you don't know what we could do. What do you got in your hands? "I don't know, well I'm a teacher and I've got just a little red pen in my hand." He goes, "Oh that's cool because you can intimidate little children with that. That's a great thing to have. Right? And instead of like putting negative grades on there, instead you're going to write, you're going to write comments. You're going to go man you are so much better and you're improving and I can see so much effort. And we're going, we're going to use that." Which leads us to the moment which God is just saying to every one of us in this room, "What's in your hand?" And for many of us the answer would simply be, "It's everything I've made of my life till now being in charge." And God says, "You know if you would throw it down we could do something really, really, cool.

Linn: 31:12 There's this Cornerstone story. There's a Cornerstone story about a family in our church who simply did that. It's a gal named Billy who found herself in a moment just saying, "God you know I feel like I'm pretty ordinary. I'm just like everybody else. But, but the thing I do have is a burning in my heart to help people who are hurting, who it's been unfair." And she simply said, "God can you use that? And here's her story.

C.J: 31:40 "My life was pretty rough when I was younger. There was a lot of physical and emotional and just like so much abuse. My case manager called me and told me I was never going home and that my sister was killed and I won't be able to see any biological family ever again. When I was around 10, I want to say, it was pretty rough. I took care of 14 other kids other than myself. It was just like really hard on me because I didn't have much of a childhood. Looking back on it now I'm like, wow, like where did everything go?

C.J.: 32:25 It was like just like a normal morning. We woke up, we did our chores, we made breakfast, like, we were just doing our normal. We asked for a treat, like, a popsicle or something. My little sister allegedly, like, stole another one without anybody knowing and I guess, like, she got caught with it. She was being punished for the rest of the day for it. My cousin's husband had told her to grab the box that was outside. I heard that but I walked in my room, like, not thinking anything of it. I woke up the next morning and next thing you know, like, dozens of police are showing up, ambulance, fire trucks, like the news and stuff. So I was like, what the heck is going on? I remember asking if we were going home tonight and they said no and spend the night somewhere else. And then I remember getting a phone call, like, a couple weeks later and they told me I was never going home and that my sister was killed. And, like, I won't be able to see any biological family ever again."

Billy: 33:33 "I always had this, this need to do more and be more. So I went back to school to get my degree in human services and social work and try to see what I could do with that. But I was doing an internship with the CASA organization. Court Appointed Special Advocates. One morning I'm getting ready to leave the house and a news story comes on and it's the story of Ame Deal. And this, this child that was locked in a foot locker and I saw that news story and just something about it just called to me. It was the next day I was at my internship and that case came across my desk. And as I read through it my heart just ached and broke for Ame's siblings. So they assigned me the case. I got appointed by a judge to be on the case and started meeting with C.J. and her brother David. And so we talked about it and said, 'All right well, you know let's pray about this' and God really put it on our hearts to foster one, whichever one didn't get fostered first. Sure enough it wasn't a couple of weeks later and David got fostered. And so Tom and I said, 'OK well let's take C.J.'"

Tom: 34:58 "I knew that she's very passionate about this and I think God was working, you know working with my heart too, that if she wants this, we need to do this. It has to happen. When I finally met C.J. it took all doubt out of my mind. If there was a shadow of a doubt, it was all gone. And then he went to the group home she looked at Billy and said, 'Billy what are you doing here?' She goes, 'Well this is my husband Tom and you're coming home with us. Get your stuff. You're coming home.'"

C.J: 35:32 It took me probably, like, a good six months to realize that things were changing for the better. I started going to church, like, I mean that was, like, crazy. I was like what the heck is this?Things we different, and like, everything was like better and I was, like, forgetting about stuff I didn't want to remember, forgetting about my past, the best I could. I didn't have as many night terrors. So it was just like, OK so God is doing something. Life for me now is fantastic, like, I have a great support system. I love, like, I love going to church. I love working. One of my other high school teachers, Nicole, I've built a fantastic relationship with her and we're super close. I just love hanging out with a different variety of people. I love hanging out with my family and building relationships with them. So it's just, just it's great to have good relationships everywhere.

Linn: 36:55 I doubt that you're caught in the story, man, C.J. didn't just get rescued. Man, she is just an absolute on fire, passionate follow of Jesus Christ. She's in leadership in our youth. She serves all over this campus almost every hour, every single Sunday. Because somebody, somebody said, "God this is what's in my hand and I'll lay it down." And here, want something really cool. C.J. is here today. So C.J. would you stand? And Billy and Tom Moffitt are here today and would you guys stand? Aren't we in this moment simply saying to them, "Honor to you because you just reminded us what happens when we take what's in our hand and we lay it down." Grab a seat, man, grab a seat together.

Linn: 38:13 My guess in this room, my guest in this room is that there are some of us today, and today's the day of the conversation. And that God has been speaking to your heart and he's been saying to you, "Hey what is that in your hand?" and the honest answer is "a shepherd staff. It's everything that I've made of my life up until now with me in charge" and God is saying, "I can use that if you'll lay it down."

Linn: 38:42 There's a really, really powerful portion of Scripture in which this story ends. It starts in Verse 18. Watch this. Moses decides to say yes. Then Moses went back to Jethro, his father in law, and he said to him, "Let me return to my people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive." Jethro said, "Go,and I wish you well." Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt for all those who wanted to kill you are dead." So Moses took his wife and his sons and he put them on a donkey. And he started back to Egypt and, catch the best part, you ready? And he took the staff of the Lord in his hand. It was no longer Moses's staff. He had transferred ownership. Everything that happens next is what God can do when we surrender.

Linn: 39:45 Let's pray. My guess in this room is that there are some of us in this room who need to pray and just say, "God I'm done. I'm done being in charge of me. I'm done being the supervisor of me and this morning I took a look at what was in my hand and it's my life. It's what I've made of me. And I'm simply ready to lay that down and see what you would make of me. I'm done with the swimming pool. I want Disneyland."

Linn: 40:19 And if that's you this morning then I'm just going to ask you to pray a real simple prayer with me. It goes something like this. Dear God. If I'm really, really honest. I've been making me. And I've been holding my life and I've been holding the reins of my life in my hand. And what my life is up until now is what I planned for me up until now. And I think I'm seeing it for the first time for what it really is. It's less, it's less than what it would have been if you had been holding it in your hand. And so I'm simply gonna throw it on the ground. And when I take it back up I'm going to be holding the tail cause you are going to be in charge of me. I surrender. Your Lord and I'm not. In this we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286