Celebration Sunday • Gary Keith Retires

A Beautiful Example Of A Change In Church Leadership

Gary Keith
Jun 5, 2022    41m
Change can be scary, especially in our church family. As the senior pastor retires and the new senior pastor steps into the position it can be unsettling, but a change in church leadership can also be beautiful and inspirational. Watch as Life Bible Fellowship honors the past and looks forward to the future. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. We know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Gary Keith: [00:00:19] I am very thankful to be given this opportunity to share with you just a few things as I prepare to retire from LBF. And as most of you probably already know, I am not retiring from ministry, it's a time for me to hand this church to the next generation, but it's also time for me to continue on in the calling. I'm joining the ministry to meet the needs of pastors all across our nation called Standing Stone, you'll learn more about it if you come back at 1:30.

Gary Keith: [00:00:44] But I've been reflecting on these 41 years here on staff, and quite frankly, there's just so much that has happened day in and day out that I can't remember everything. I've been asked, what are your memories? What do you remember? I said I remember a couple of weeks ago, I'm not sure about 41 years ago, it's hard to remember. There have been some significant milestones, but even in some of those I go, Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Just last week I was at my grandson's promotion from eighth grade into high school, and after the whole graduation ceremony was over, this man who I recognized immediately came up to me and I remember him, and I don't remember when he left LBF, but I found it was about 25 years ago. But somehow God placed his name in my head, and I go, Oh, thank you, Lord, that's a biggie, you've got to remember his name, I even remembered his wife's name and she wasn't there at the moment. But he took a moment, and he says, I heard that you were retiring. And I told him what was going on and all that kind of thing. And he just went on and he told me how I had been an influence in his life. He told me about this very significant event in his life. And I go, I'm sorry, I just don't remember that. And it's kind of like, you know, you move on from one thing to another, and the longer you're here, the more memories are built, and so there's been so much that has unfolded over the years of my life here.

Gary Keith: [00:02:08] And with this said, I just want you to know just how grateful I am to God for the honor of serving him here. This church family is second to none, and I tell you that it's been that way and it continues to be that way from the very first day I came. Because you see, standing here today is a guy, who as Dan alluded to, never pictured himself as a pastor, especially not even a senior lead pastor of a church. I had a vocation, that was my dream, it was really a dream, and it didn't happen. But here I am 41 years and I just go, Thank you, Lord, thanks for the privilege. I've been blessed with a wife of 51 years who has been, she says, yes to all my harebrained ideas and thoughts, and it seems like every time I would change jobs, she'd be pregnant because we have five kids, and now we have nine grandchildren, and that's a blessed thing. But I'm a guy who looks back and I see God's hand now, as I've really paused and I've been looking at some of the pictures that they posted of me up there from days gone by, we're short shorts, you know, out on the park and all that kind of stuff. And I just say, everything that's gone on since that decision to join here April 1st, No Fools, 1981, has been God's hand in my life. I'm sure you have memories yourself of just saying yes to the Lord, and you can see the decisions you've made, whether it's in ministry or not, I mean, we all have an opportunity to to honor the Lord and to bring glory to him.

Gary Keith: [00:03:40] And so I see, as I reflect back, I see opportune times where God has protected this church from times where literally it could have closed its doors due to conflict and struggle and it didn't, God did not allow that to happen. You know, I was given the privilege of being the first church administrator, and then I moved to music and worship. And when some of my friends in the worship ministry used to connect with worship pastors in the area and they would say, you do business and music? Does that mean you use both sides of your brain? I guess more of my connecting tissues are working more than others. And to bring God's word here on the pulpit, the opportunity to go to school and and all that stuff, I've had the support over the years of people who are way smarter than me, more talented than me, I was never the best musician on the worship team. But we'd bring people together, and we'd work, and we serve the Lord on a team. I could never have done or been a part of all that I have been a part of if it wasn't for the teamwork of other people as we work together to honor the Lord. I'm extremely grateful, extremely grateful for the opportunity, and thankful to serve and to lead this church. I'm forever grateful that God saw fit to keep me here for these years, because back in 84, I put a resume out. I mean, one of those times of struggle, one of those times a conflict, I thought, I'm getting out. I got zero hits, that was God's message to say you stay, don't go, and so that's been where it is.

Gary Keith: [00:05:13] But God was very clear to me about four years ago, he says, time to pass the baton, four years of preparation to get ready for the next generation. I'm so thankful for the board of Elders. Listen, I've been a number two guy most of my life, and for them in 2011 to say to me, after not being able to find someone for four years, when Jeff and I were taking turns filling the pulpit and he would go down to youth ministry and I'd go back to worship and we'd do this kind of tag team back and forth, Gary, we'd like to have you do this. Whoa! So I've been to seminary, and I know how to put a sermon together, but it wasn't something I felt I could do every week. And they were really supportive, he says we want you to help organize this place the way that's best for you. And I go, what? Who tells you that? They've been such a blessing for 11 years.

Gary Keith: [00:06:07] So we came up with our mission statement, the restated mission, where we exist to passionately pursue life in Jesus, and lead our neighbors to do the same. That was a team effort, it wasn't me, oh, I got a brainstorm. No, it was a team who came together to do that. I'm so thankful for how we put the team together, we have a staff team that's going to continue on, they're going to continue to serve you just like they have been serving you. There are people who are very different from one another, but most of them like each other, and that's a good thing. You know, they're from different generations, they are a variety of generations, and they've learned how to live and work together on helping us accomplish our mission. They are people who know how to have fun together, recently we went to Topgolf, 25 of us. And some of them had never held a golf club in their entire life, and we were out there having a blast together and being real with each other, it was just a blast. They are people, the staff people, are more like family to me than fellow employees or fellow pastors, and I've been able to be a part of so many of your lives in so many different ways. I've been told sometimes, just recently I was told that I was like their father. I was like a father to them. I go, no, no, no, I'm a pastor, not a father, well. okay, we'll accept that role, or a brother. You know, there were people that just they wanted to tell me the news of their family and I'd go, okay, that's great. It's this relationship that we have in our church with one another, I don't know how unique it is because I came here from one church, I'd grown up in. This is really, after 41 years, what other church experience do I have, you know? I've enjoyed the wonderful and meaningful pastoral relationships I've had with many of you out there, some have been very, very special. Some of you are brand new, and you are going, who is this guy Gary standing up there? I mean, Dan is usually the guy up here, what are you doing? But I've had so many wonderful memories, and you have blessed me so many times. It's been a privilege, I've been encouraged to be a leader, to be an encourager, a pastor, sometimes a colleague in ministry, sometimes just a friend. I'm going to miss all of that, that's what I'm going to miss. People say, How are you feeling? What do you think? That's what I'm going to miss. The staff threw me a little party and they said, do you like preaching on Sunday, or do you like one on one? And I said, one on one. I really love spending one on one time with people and especially those that I'm leading. Each of you have been a source of encouragement in your own way, whether you really know it or not.

Gary Keith: [00:09:03] There is a season of time in this church where we would have these KIT cards, keep it in touch cards, not keep it, but keep in touch cards. And I would gather them together and make sure that all the comments, which were really sometimes strange and mean-spirited and all that. We haven't seen any of those cards for probably five years, people are here, and they want to grow and they want to serve. And that's you guys, and I want to thank you for being an encourager, not only of me, but of our entire staff at this time. And quite honestly, I don't know, many of you may have come from other churches, I came from a church that actually had to close this door through the sin of a pastor many, many years ago. You don't find what we find here that often, it doesn't seem like. I know other churches are successful and do well and have relationships, but there's always been, I've been told by others, there's something unique about this group of people, you, that's because we want to passionately pursue life in Jesus, so I want to thank you for that. I'm going to miss all of that as well.

Gary Keith: [00:10:10] It's been said that the only person who likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper. I've been told by some moms that's not even true 100% of the time, that sometimes babies love dirty diapers. But go with me on that analogy for just a minute. So, you know, today is a day of change and it's a day of transition, it's one that's been planned for. You don't give a two-week notice if you're in my role, you want to do well to take time to transition and to leave health and leave the next generation ready to go and take over. So that's been going on for the last four years. I still remember the time God spoke to me, I was in Cambria, and he said, Gary, it's time. I go, oh, okay, because I just love doing what I'm doing. Over those four years, this whole process of what has gone on behind the scenes has been prayed for over and over again by our board, it's been discussed over and over, it's been carefully thought through, there's been intentionality, there's been purpose, there's been seeking God for what's next. It's one where there's been opportunity to transition well, by taking time for me to spend lots of time over the last a little over a year with those who are taking over. And for all of that, I'm grateful for you, I'm grateful for you.

Gary Keith: [00:11:42] See, we serve an incredible God who has big plans for all of humanity, not just our church. It's a God who desires that every person alive gets the opportunity to hear about the name of Jesus and how Jesus loves them and has saved them if they will learn from him and respect him and accept him. So this transition that's taking place, I know this church will continue in spreading the good news and speaking the good news of the Gospel of Jesus, it's our only focus, it's where we will stay focused. In a world that continually seems to be moving away from God, and even when churches seem to be moving away from something that's solid, this church is not going to be doing that. I can tell you that very strongly and very emphatically, it's going to stand firm and we're going to enhance the name of Jesus by what? Passionately pursuing life in him, by loving one another the way God has loved us, by helping people see the real Jesus in us as we live our lives, whether it's on campus, whether it's in your schools, whether it's in your homes, whether it's in your neighborhoods. The Christian church, the church that keeps the name of Jesus central in its core and connected to Scripture will not only survive, it will thrive, And in our own way, we're thriving right now, church is a powerful force for good and the hope of the world.

Gary Keith: [00:13:09] Now I know what you're thinking, yeah, the church is flawed. it is when you look at the church around the world, but it hasn't, and it will not fail. The church is imperfect because people are in the church, right? You're imperfect. I'm imperfect. Right? But we can work towards loving Jesus, we are a living, breathing, body of believers, focused on the gospel, ultimately, it's not going to fail. I say that because in Matthew Chapter 16, when Jesus asked Peter, "Who do people say that I am?" You know what he said, right? The other disciples got it wrong, but when he asked Peter, Peter got it right, he says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And in Jesus's reply, he tells Peter on that message, on that, "On that rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Two things, Jesus is the one who builds his church, we are under-shepherds, that's how we look at ourselves, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.

Gary Keith: [00:14:19] When we honor and represent the name of Jesus, this church will grow beyond 50 years, I hope I'm around when it hits 75 years and celebrate that. I doubt if I'll be here at 100 years, but maybe I'll look from heaven and say a good job, I don't know, we'll see. See, it's all about who we say Jesus is, and this church says that Jesus is what Peter declared, he is the living Son of God, and this church is going to thrive because we're going to stay in that focus. And in this transition, that will not change. and do you want to know why? Because we all know that as Dan Franklin, who as he's taking, Pastor Dan as he's taking over the role of lead pastor, he is a man who God has prepared to lead this church into the next season of ministry. I've served with him for 11 years, he's the man who will keep us focused, first and foremost on the gospel, on Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God. Listen, we all know about how well he preaches the Scriptures, right? How he brings it alive, how he brings the application. I've listened to a lot of sermons in my life before I came here, and every time he preached, he takes a passage that maybe I've spoken on, or I've heard before. I go, whoa, I never saw that. How many times have you said that? I never saw that, I didn't want to see that because now it means change in my life, but I'm glad I heard about it, right. He can speak into the hearts that will change us and challenge us to live the truth. And in this transition, that is not changing, I want to reassure you, that is not changing, we're not giving him so much to do that he cannot preach the gospel to us. He lives the truth that he teaches. He not only speaks the Scriptures, but I've seen him live the scriptures. Not perfectly, but he honors the Lord by saying, yes, I want to live that. He's going to be leading the same team of staff members, and I believe this man is God's next man to be our pastor and shepherd because he loves God's heart and he knows this church and he knows you, and he's going to take it on to the next stage. He's a trustworthy man, I got to see him, not just standing here, but every day. In the office every day, with his family, as a father, as a husband. God has prepared him to lead us to the next step in the history of this church.

Gary Keith: [00:17:02] So, because of all that I've just said, the elder board unanimously asked him to be the fourth Lead Pastor of our church in the history of this church. And so at this time, I'd like to transition us into a time of commissioning of Dan with the Elders, and with Dan and his family. So guys and gals come on up. And Elders, if you could come on up, that would be great. And thank you for listening to my little bit of memory lane talk and some of the hope I have for this church for the future.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:17:41] Good morning, church. Obviously, this is a very special time for our church here, and this commissioning is about how God is at work in this church and our community, and it really marks a new day and a new structure in the life of the church. So I'd just like to share with you how we're going to move forward this morning. What I'm going to be doing is I'm going to read a few Scriptures, and then I'm going to read some commissioning charges to Dan, and Dan is going to respond to those charges. Then I would like to speak to you as our church family and read a couple of Scriptures, and then I would like to read some charges to you and have you guys, as our church family, respond to those charges. This is something a little different than we've done at our church before. but the formality of a commissioning service communicates that something significant is taking place and that the mantle of leadership is being passed from Gary to Dan.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:18:50] Dan, I'm going to ask you to come forward now. The Elders want to express to you, the church family, of God's call on Dan's life. And we want to affirm to you that the elder board unanimously stands behind him as God's man to lead this church. So, Dan, we're going to take this opportunity for you to commit to the faithfully leading Life Bible Fellowship Church.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:19:22] Let me read a couple of scriptures here, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church [g]of God which He purchased with His own blood.", Acts 20:27-28. "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." First Timothy 5:17. "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:2-3) So, Dan, will you commit to faithfully preach the whole counsel of God's inerrant word in season and out without apology and without compromise, Not shrinking to declare the whole counsel of God?

Dan Franklin: [00:20:23] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:20:26] Will you commit to lead this church by being a personal example to this congregation committed to a life of holiness, abstaining from all practices that may jeopardize your witness and spending and being spent for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Dan Franklin: [00:20:42] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:20:44] Will you commit to lead this congregation by being a personal gospel witness in your own life?

Dan Franklin: [00:20:50] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:20:52] Will you determine to know nothing among this congregation but Jesus Christ and him crucified, not coming to them in pervasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and a power that God might get all the glory?

Dan Franklin: [00:21:06] Amen, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:21:08] Will you commit yourself to loving this congregation by praying fervently for those Christ purchased with His own blood and has now given to you to shepherd in the church?

Dan Franklin: [00:21:17] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:21:21] Will you desire to love this church family as a nursing mother cherishes her own children, imparting to them not only the Gospel but also your own life.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:31] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:21:33] Will you do everything in your power to shepherd this flock by protecting them from false teaching and false teachers?

Dan Franklin: [00:21:39] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:21:41] And lastly, Dan, will you continue to commit to being God's leader in your own home, teaching your family the things of God according to the Scripture, by word and deed, and leading them to love Christ and his church?

Dan Franklin: [00:21:55] Yes, I will.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:21:57] So be it. Amen. Thanks, Dan. I'm going to ask you to stand here with me as we speak to the congregation. So as we mark this day that Dan has committed faithfully to serve this church, the service also reminds us that each person, each one of you in the church family, has a vital role and responsibility to play as the church moves forward for the glory of Christ. I'm going to ask you to stand with me if you will. And if you're a church member or regularly attend LBF and call this church your home, I'm going to ask you to respond to the charges that I read to you with 'I will' just as Dan did.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:22:44] Let's look at these three scriptures. "But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.", First Corinthians 12:18. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.", Hebrews 10:24-25. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.", First Peter 4:10. So church, if you feel so compelled, please respond, I will. Will you commit to honor the Scripture by recognizing it as God's inerrant, all-sufficient living and authoritative word? Will you faithfully attend the preaching of the Word of God in corporate worship and receive the word not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God. Will you commit to give sacrificially of your time, resources, and energies to the work of the Church, employing your spiritual gifts for the edification of the Church and the exultation of Jesus Christ? Will you commit to love your pastor, praying for him rather than complaining about him, n-honoring him as one who labors in word and doctrine for your good, for the good of your soul, and recognizing him as the shepherd God has given you? Will you honor your pastor and follow Him as he follows Christ, honoring Him as Christ's under-shepherd, ordained by God to keep watch over your souls, and will you let Him do this with joy and not with groaning, since that would be no advantage to you? Will you commit to lay aside your personal preferences in order to strive for the unity of the church, desiring with all your actions to build up the body while forsaking all gossip, slander, and foolish talk, realizing that you will give an account to God for every idle word? All right, thank you, Church.

Stan Klopfenstein: [00:25:13] We're going to ask Karina and Matt and David and Jack to come up on the platform now. And Kevin Theilacker, one of your elders, is going to pray over Dan, his family, and the church.

Kevin Theilacker: [00:25:44] Our Gracious Lord, we come to you with gratitude and praise for such a time as this. We're grateful Dan has answered the call to Shepherd and to lead Life Bible Fellowship Church. We are grateful, we are humbled by your giftedness that's on display through him every Lord's day. And now, as he assumes this role of lead pastor, we pray that we will not be tempted to refer to LBF as Dan Franklin's church, but rather may we declare with him here and now that we belong to Jesus, bought by his precious blood, and under submission to His Lordship. We pray, Lord, that under Dan's leadership, it would be marked and characterized by humility, by a servant heart, not seeking the approval of men, but giving all credit and praise to the work of the Holy Spirit. So we pray, Lord, anoint him with the fullness of the power and the wisdom of your Spirit. May he preach the word boldly, may be prepared in season and out of season, and may he correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and with careful instruction in sound doctrine. Lord, give him wisdom and understanding to also lead our pastors and staff with great care and with sensitivity. Lord, may he treasure his personal devotional time with you, and will you guard his heart and mind in purity and in integrity?

Kevin Theilacker: [00:27:56] May he not neglect the shepherding of his family, and even do so with scheduled intention. We thank you for Karina, for her faithful, godly, and devoted support. May Dan be to her all you call him to be. May their marriage be the replica of the love Jesus has for his church. We thank you for Matt, for Jack, and for David, may they be so blessed to see their dad modeling what the call of God and what a man of God looks like? And so, Lord, we, as your people would pray as we lift the Franklin family before you, that the Lord would bless you and keep you and may lift His face to shine upon you, may he be gracious unto you, and may he give you peace. And finally, Lord, we, this church family, we, your people, bless us, Lord, that as your word commands that we may not be a burden to him, but may our submission bring him and all of us great joy. We pray this in the name of the one who is our good shepherd and who is the head of the church, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:49] Well, thank you, you can all sit down. I'm just going to share for a few minutes now before we close with an appropriate song that's about all of our common commitment to Jesus. I did just want to say, it was highlighted there in something that Kevin prayed and some words that Gary said, but I just want you to know how much you all mean to me as a church family. It's hard to believe in some ways, it's hard to believe that we've been here for almost 11 years, and in other ways, it's hard to remember our lives before we were here. And we didn't know anybody here when we put in the application, when we sent out my resume to this church, which is weird. Normally for most of you, you know, if you start a new job, usually it's a connection, usually, you know someone. So it felt like a risky move, not only trying to figure out if this a job that I could do, and that I'd be fulfilling God's calling for me? But would this be a place where we as a family could truly find a home? And I just want you all to know that I love you so much because you've loved my family so much, and they are very, very important to me. And Karina has found friends here and has found support here. And Matt and Jack and David have had the opportunity to thrive where their parents are not the only ones talking to them about Jesus, but they have Sunday school leaders and youth leaders, and other adults who just care about them. And in many ways, I feel like my family has got to experience a lot of advantages of being a pastor's family without a lot of the stereotypical distractions and burdens. So I just want to say thank you to all of you for that, because that means a ton.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:38] And I just want to talk about one verse for a few minutes, that verse is Colossians chapter 1 verse 28. I'm going to read it; it'll just be up on the screen the whole time I'm talking because this is all I want to talk about. Colossians 1:28 says, "He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ." Now, quick, this is not a trick question, but I just want you to guess, who do you think the he is, that is being talked about here? Jesus, good job. If you were to look at the previous verse, you'd see clearly, it's Jesus who He's talking about. Jesus is the one we proclaim, our message is a man, and that man is not Gary Keith, and it's sure as heck not Dan Franklin. Our message is Jesus Christ, our message is that Jesus is Lord, and our message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:44] And again, it's daunting when I think about stepping into this new role because of the faithfulness of Gary and because I'm looking to be faithful in a similar way. And at the same time, there is this sense of peace and just recognizing that the primary thing that I get to do is not to proclaim myself. I do, Kevin's prayer was very powerful, I do want to set an example, I hope that I'm doing that, and I hope to do that better. but there will be a day when nobody remembers my name. In driving in this morning, I was listening to one of my playlists, and my playlist has been influenced because my sons, especially my two older sons, have sort of brought new music into the family. So most of the songs that we listen to are from them, and a song popped up on my playlist that Matt and Jack had introduced me to from Casting Crowns, and it's called, Nobody. And some of you know, sort of the chorus of the song says, I'm just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about somebody who saved my soul. Ever since you rescued me, you gave my heart a song to sing. I'm a living for the world to see nobody but Jesus. Then my favorite part of the song says this, I'm not going to sing it, I'm not Gary. But it says, "Let me go down, down, down in history as another blood-bought faithful member of the family. And if they all forget my name, well, that’s fine with me, I’m living for the world to see Nobody but Jesus." That's not just my calling. that's all of our calling, that we will be forgotten by mankind and sooner than we'd like to believe. That people will forget our name one day, but we've placed our faith in one who knows every hair on our heads, who knows our names, and who cares for us deeply. And that it's okay, we don't need to take on the burden of having the history books say our names. We don't need to take on the burden of finding something that we invent or create or having just the crushing burden that our life has an impact. In fact, the thing, as believers, that we're chasing is not impact, the thing, as believers that we're chasing, is faithfulness, and God's going to take care of that impact. We proclaim Christ and he says, we admonish, which means we warn, we warn everybody, we teach and instruct everybody with all wisdom, and the goal is that everybody would be presented, mature in Christ, or complete in Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:29] That's not a new goal we have, but I just want to re-up with this goal. This is my commitment, this is my job, it's all of our job, but in a special way, as the main one who speaks from up front, I get to take on this job of saying, I'm going to be proclaiming Jesus. I'm going to be proclaiming Jesus over every other Savior who rears his head up to offer us salvation. There is one Lord and there is one Savior, and when we think of Jesus, the thing that we get to take in is that through Jesus, the world is being reconciled to God. There is only one who is the eternal Son of God, there's only one who took on flesh, there's only one who died for every sin ever committed by human beings, there's only one who rose up from the dead, and that one is coming back one day, we proclaim Jesus, we proclaim Jesus above every Savior, and we proclaim Jesus above every cause.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:34] What I'm about to say is going to sound a little weird but be careful of getting in the mode of looking at Jesus and finding him useful. Jesus is nobody's mascot, he's nobody's spokesman, Jesus is our message, he's not just the voice for another message that we want to get out. There are some of us that we find ourselves passionate about a certain cause, and maybe it has to do with justice in some way, and so we can begin to look at Jesus and say, well, this is great, we're after justice and Jesus is very useful for us talking about justice. Let me tell you this, if you follow Jesus, you will be more passionate about justice than anybody crying about justice now but be careful of the cause replacing the person. Sometimes we get excited about family values, or mental health, and we're excited about proclaiming that, and that begins to become our message. And then we look at Jesus and we think Jesus is useful for talking about mental health, and Jesus is useful for talking about good family values. If you follow Jesus, it's going to affect your anxiety, which is good. If you follow Jesus, it's going to affect your family in a way that's good. But Jesus does not serve those ends for us, Jesus is the message. We proclaim him above every message, we don't just make him the mouthpiece for the cause we want.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:02] We proclaim him above every savior and above every cause, and finally, we proclaim Jesus above every solution. That means when we face national tragedies and times of deep grief, that doesn't mean that we avoid all conversations about guns or mental health or societal structures or elections or voting or all of that, but it means that when we face a national tragedy or a national act of evil, the primary thing that we come to each other with, and the world with is Jesus, he is our only hope in life and death. And that means that when we face personal trials, we don't come to one another, and I don't come to you primarily with formulas to help you get out of that trial, just do these six steps and then you'll somehow be out of it. We come proclaiming Jesus as our only hope in life and death, and as the one who's working all things together for our good in those trials, and we proclaim Jesus when we're stuck, and we're not quite sure what to do. And there are times that we feel stuck, that that we want to come with the formulas, or we want to come with the advice, and there's nothing wrong with the advice. But the primary message that we have is that as you feel stuck, as you feel anxiety, as you feel discouraged, our greatest hope in life and death is with Jesus. And if you followed every formulaic equation and somehow got yourself out of the sticky situation that you're in right now, you'd still be a sinner, desperately in need of salvation and hopeless without the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:38] We proclaim him. I proclaim him as part of my role here, you proclaim him because this isn't just the Apostle Paul and this isn't just me, all of us with our lives live to proclaim Jesus, and then we also respond to what Paul is talking about here by receiving the one who is being proclaimed. By waking up each morning and embracing the idea that Jesus truly is our only hope, and then building our lives around Him. And so in light of that, we wanted to close with a song that talked about exactly that, that talks about the idea that we are building our lives around the one and only Savior, our one and only hope, and the only one who can bring us the grace that we so desperately need.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:30] So let me take a moment just to pray as the band comes out to lead us in a final song of response and commitment to the one that we proclaim, Jesus Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:40] Father, thank you so much for a day like this. Thank you for getting to experience life as a church family, it's special and it's meaningful and we need it. Thank you, most of all, that what binds us together is that we have been rescued by your Son, bought with his blood, and filled with his Spirit. Father, lead us to be a church that pleases you, that you would look at us and say, well done. And Father, lead us each moment of each day to build our lives around you as our Savior, as our hope, and as our one true Shepherd. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848