A Greatest Passion

By Rich Leatherberry,  Mission Pastor 

 

On February 1, I preached on a topic that has become increasingly important to me. Two years ago I took an extended study leave from BelPres to learn about revival. I studied how past revivals started and looked at factors which sustained them. I met and talked with some fascinating leaders working for revival. I learned a lot. But the most significant part of my study leave was that it revived me. I came away with a hunger which I can only describe as “wanting more of Jesus.”

Sunday’s message was about making Jesus our greatest passion. Making Jesus our greatest passion is the most important growth lesson in this sermon series we are going through. It is the catalyst for everything. When Jesus becomes our greatest passion, three things happen. First, we want more of Him. Second, we will do whatever it takes to get rid of anything that stands in the way of that. Third, we begin living missionally because our passion for other people grows too.

There are a lot of things you don’t hear on Sundays because there isn’t enough time in a sermon to say it. So it gets edited out of the message. I thought I’d share two paragraphs that didn’t make it into Sunday’s message and see what you think.

Paragraph #1
We don’t loose our passion for Jesus, we leave it.
There are times when our passion for Jesus fades and He doesn’t matter to us as much. Our Christian faith becomes tame and predictable and slips to the margins of what we care about.

Scripture is filled with the stories of people who lost their passion and turned away. Moses, David, and Peter to name a few. But what’s so interesting about their stories, beyond the fact that they help us see how common our struggle is, is that none of them lost their passion for Jesus….they left it. One day at a time, one decision at a time, one action at a time. They made choices and acted out in ways that turned them away and caused them to leave the relationship.

But Jesus never turns away from us and He never leaves us. In the Book of Revelation the Spirit speaks to the church in Ephesus and the Spirit accuses the church of leaving their first love. The cure for that is to repent, and do the things they did when they first knew Jesus. That is our cure too. To repent. To turn around from where we are going and come back to Him. To get rid of the habits, distractions, behaviors and anything else that blocks Jesus out of our lives. James says; “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Paragraph #2
“What matters most in our lives becomes our greatest passion. We give ourselves to that. For some of us its our kids, or our profession or our school, or music or the arts. Any of those things can make us happy and they can be very satisfying. But they can also discourage us and leave us feeling empty. Our kids can say or do things that hurt us. We can lose or hate our job. We can burn out in school.
Jobs, kids, school and the arts are all good. But they don’t satisfy and fulfill us like Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, never hurts and He never goes away and leaves us alone. When Jesus becomes our greatest passion then everything else falls into place. Jesus becomes our deepest satisfaction and experiencing more of Him becomes our great desire. That gives us a missional focus to everything. It changes the way we view other people and our role as parents, employees, employers, and students. In fact, it changes every other area of our lives.”

Let me leave you with a couple of questions:

1) How does a great passion for Jesus affect your relationships, the way you use your time and the things you are involved in?

2) What will it take to experience more of Jesus in your life?

I’d love to hear your comments or help you with questions.

It’s OK. Just eat.

I had been a part of the Bellevue Police Prayer Partners for several years when I started to wonder what else we could do to show our support to the department. We talked about hosting a Thanksgiving breakfast or lunch for the department staff and police officers at the church, but then we realized it would be tough for those working different shifts to attend. I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner, but we finally figured out we should go to them.

The Monday morning before Thanksgiving 2011 we showed up at the department with coffee, baked goods, fruit, breakfast casseroles . . . you name it, we brought it! As the night shift made their way home to their beds and the day shift made their way to briefings and patrol, Detective Jim Lindquist, one of the founders of the organization, reminded them of our invitation. The officers we met that day were grim, focused. Because at that time of giving thanks and spending time with family, the officers were investigating the disappearance of little Sky Metalwala.

“Who are you guys again?,” “Why are you doing this?,” “Do we have to come to your church?” These were just some of the questions we were asked. “We’re part of a group called ‘Bellevue Police Prayer Partners’ and we’re from Bellevue Presbyterian Church,” “To show our appreciation for the officers and staff of the Bellevue Police Department,” “No, you don’t have to come to our church.”

As more staff and officers showed up and asked the same questions, those that had come before them said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s ok. Just eat!” We didn’t talk to the officers and staff about their work; they needed a break from that. We discussed the things we had in common, our interests. These people are our neighbors, friends, fellow human beings. Once they realized we didn’t have an agenda, they relaxed.

When we showed up the next day to provide lunch (we wanted to make sure we served as many as possible, covering all 3 shifts), we got a lot of the same questions. Those who had attended the breakfast the day before again reassured their co-workers: “Don’t worry about it. It’s OK. Just eat!”

After a couple years of doing this, there are less questions and more reconnecting during the meals. As I talked with one of the officers a couple years ago, she told me that she was not just an officer in the department; she was, and is, a Bellevue Police Prayer Partner! She went on to tell me how she came to be in conversation with a woman on a bus while on a mission trip with our church. As they spoke, she shared with the woman that she was an officer in the Bellevue Police Department. The woman asked her what her last name was, then said, “I am the person who has been praying for you!” God brought each of these women thousands of miles away from home to meet each other.

Some may ask, “What do you do for the officers and staff, other than pray for them?” Prayer is the most powerful gift you can give to anyone. The Bible tells us, in Philippians 4: 6,7 “ . . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We give the staff and officers of the Bellevue Police Department the gift of the power of prayer. But for those who may not know Jesus, or think they know Him and want nothing to do with Him, we want to live out Bellevue Presbyterian’s mission statement:

If you have a heart for our community and for those who serve and protect it, consider becoming part of the Bellevue Police Prayer Partners, whether by praying or providing a celebratory meal once a year or both!