What an incredible gift we all just got to be a part of. Family Dedication. Families driving a stake in the ground and saying Jesus will be at the foundation of all we do as we raise these little ones to be warriors of light and love for King Jesus.
My name is Jon. Welcome.
Today we are wrapping up an 11-month journey through the greatest sermon ever delivered… the Sermon on the Mount.
In the Bible, in Matthew 5,6,7, Jesus is speaking to a crowd and equipping them with teachings and instruction for their life, encouragement for their hearts, and empowering them to change the world through the power of His love.
And as Jesus is wrapping things up, he sees three different groups of people in the crowd: those who are following him, those who are just listening and sorta curious, and those who oppose him, the Pharisees, the super religious people.
Whenever Jesus people gather, there will always be those three groups, those for Jesus, those against him, and those just there for the free donuts and coffee.
And with these three groups in mind, Jesus lays out a better way for us to navigate life. But this Better Way is contingent on basically one question… are you in or are you out?
In Matthew 7, he asks this question in four different ways and this has been the focus of our last few weeks.
Will you choose what is popular and comfortable or will you choose Jesus? (Spandex or Sweatpants)
Will you listen to false teachers that make you feel good or the ONE teacher who IS good?
Will you really love Jesus or just try to impress him?
And this last question… Will you build your life on a solid foundation or sinking sand?
This is how he finishes his message. Matthew 7, verse 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Will God be allowed to reign in our lives or will we ground our existence in the empty promises of the world?
Will he be lord and leader… or won’t he?
And how we answer changes everything. Because it determines what will be at the foundation of our lives.
So…what’s at your foundation?
And before you just shout out Jesus (because that’s what you think you’re supposed to say because you’re in a church or watching a sermon), really think about the question. Because let me call out the hard truth… you can show up on Sundays, throw $50 in the box or give online, and serve at the Life Center on Tuesdays and still not be living under the lordship of Jesus Christ as a disciple who makes disciples.
How can I say that? Because I’ve seen it.
You can go your whole life doing those things and still be full of anger, full of bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment… treating yourself and others like garbage. Plenty of people get baptized and their body gets wet but their hearts stay hard. They try really hard to hide it but you can always see it on the faces of their kids and the bruises on their wives. But praise God, see you next Sunday!
Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t about a change in your routine and bank account, it's about a changed heart.
When your heart is changed, you change your foundation.
So… what’s at your foundation? What are you made of?
And what I love about this text is not only is Jesus making this powerful statement… but in the text, he also gives us the litmus test. Right?
Where do you really stand when all hell breaks loose? When the chips are down? When the storms come… what happens to you?
The proof is in the pudding.
When the storms come, we see what we’re full of. What are you full of? What’s your husband full of? I know what some of you want to say…
When things don’t go your way at work…
When things don’t work out with your boyfriend…
When the diagnosis is terminal…
When the answer is no.
When the rain comes in torrents… when the floodwaters rise… when the wind beats against your house… What’s at your foundation?
How do you respond? What are you showing to the world around you?
Do you want something different to come out? Do you want something solid at your foundation?
Then you’ve got to do something different.
We’ve got to take an inventory and start asking what’s really on the inside? What am I allowing in? What’s really at my foundation?
Where do I spend the bulk of my time? What am I consuming and putting on the inside?
What app am I opening up first thing in the morning? InstaGram, Charles Schwab… Facebook… or the Bible app?
What I open is what’s inside. What’s inside is what I give away.
Who am I allowing to speak into my life? The talking heads of FOX News or CNN or godly women and men of character and wisdom.
Let’s do some simple math…
If I allow the talking heads to be chatting in the background for four hours every day… that’s 1680 minutes a week. But, I only read my Bible or listen to sermons or worship music for 30 minutes a day… that’s 210 minutes a week.
What we allow in is what we’re layin' down.
So… what are we laying down?
Are we building a foundation built on fear and worry, doubt and conspiracy, or on the promises of the word of God?
If cable news isn’t your thing, plug in what is. Let’s just be real and do simple math. Sportscenter… Snapchat… Facebook… Netflix… TikTok. What we allow in, we’re laying down as a foundation.
Is what you are taking in gonna stand up against the next storm that comes?
Or are we setting ourselves up for failure, using convenient comforts to build a flawed foundation?
Matthew 7:26, "But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
A few years ago, back in 2018, Kelly and I took the kids on vacation to our spot in Destin where we always go. But there was something different about that year.
I was going through a season of life where I wasn’t doing well… emotionally and physically. I felt stuck in life.
Well, that vacation my internal storm was about to collide with a literal storm. If you remember, 2018 is when Hurricane Michael happened.
Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in over 25 years. Before the sensors were destroyed by the storm, Hurricane Michael was recorded at winds of 139mph. Seventy-four people died throughout the Florida panhandle and central America and over 25 billion dollars of damage was caused.
Here are the Tisevich ladies standing at the edge of the beach property looking for Hurricane Michael after we just got word it was headed straight towards us. (I love the look on Isabel’s face.)
It was too late for us to evacuate the area, so we talked to a bunch of locals asking what we should do. They told us the property where we were staying was actually one of the best places to be.
The manager of the property told us the whole architectural design of the building was built with hurricanes in mind. She said, “It’s not just strong… it’s hurricane strong.”
And so, as a husband and father, I had this moment where I was like… Am I gonna trust that this building is strong enough to withstand the storm or jump in the car and try and get as far as I can from the coastline? Am I gonna trust the foundation or not?
Not gonna lie. This was a scary moment as a father. Kelly and I prayed and we both felt at peace that we were supposed to stay right where we were.
So, we went up to our room, barricaded things against the windows… and we waited.
A bit later, the wind started to beat against the windows making a sound I’d never heard before. Like a freight train was right next to us. The rain was now sideways… palm trees were bending in half… the power went out… my heart was racing. It felt like at any moment it was gonna beat out of my chest.
This went on for about five hours. And then silence.
The storm passed, the sky opened up, and we were met with this…
We were so grateful to be staying where we were. There was hardly any damage. Other properties were destroyed. Just minutes to the east of us, in Panama City, the city was leveled, hundreds of homes were flattened.
I learned a few things that vacation. One, check the weather more often.
I also learned, at a very deep personal level, what it means to really trust your foundation when it matters most.
Do you trust what’s at your foundation?
Matthew wraps up the Sermon on the Mount with this last sentence:
"When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law."
Jesus’ teaching is unlike the religious leaders and know-it-alls because it doesn’t depend on simply quoting the Old Testament or Jewish traditions. It depends on his intuitive awareness and oneness with His Father.
Jesus is like, “I’m not telling you all this because I read this in a book, I am the book. I didn’t read about the Father… I KNOW my father.
How well you know the Father is connected to how strong your foundation is.
Have you just read about him or do you know Him?
How strong is your foundation? Do I trust I have a foundation that will hold me up?
Do I trust that no matter what I may go through, when it’s all over, I’ll still be standing?
Are you ready for the next storm? It’s not a question of if… it’s when.
Maybe a better question… what will the next storm reveal? Because…
The storm always reveals the strength of your foundation.
I am inspired by so many of you. I’ve gotten to know so many of your stories and I’m just overwhelmed time and time again at how so many of you are still standing after all you’ve gone through.
The wife still standing after losing her husband.
The father still standing after losing a son.
The boy still standing after the love of his life walks away.
The girl still standing after a season-ending injury strips her of a scholarship.
The family still standing after bankruptcy.
The single mother of four still standing after yet another disappointment.
These are YOUR stories and anyone who knows you is asking the same question… How are you still standing??
And the answer is the same every time… It’s only because of Jesus.
You’re not just strong… you’re Hurricane Strong.
I told you that when we were on vacation back in 2018, I wasn’t in a good place, that I was going through my own storm.
I remember after the hurricane had passed (the next day), I was walking along the shore, walking that tightrope of where the ocean meets the sand. That was the metaphor I felt in life at the time. Maybe you can relate like you’re teetering on a tightrope and all it would take is one strong gust of wind or big wave to take you out.
I started having one of those really blunt conversations with God. I was frustrated. Exhausted. Drained. After the last two years. Maybe you can relate.
I was at the point of giving up and not doing ministry anymore. Life had just become so hard. With more questions than answers. More problems than solutions. More heartache than joy.
I stopped walking and I just faced the ocean and watched the tide come in… crashing over my feet.
As the water came rushing over my feet, I was reminded of how things used to be. My life and walk with Jesus used to be like the tide coming in and rushing over my feet. It was cool and refreshing. It felt good. Really good.
But the longer I stood there on the sand with the water continuing to rush over my feet, my feet began to sink. The water wasn’t as refreshing anymore. It had become almost painful.
Have you experienced this?
What used to be refreshing is now draining. What used to bring you satisfaction, is now frustrating.
As I stood there watching my feet sink into the sand, the water was now crashing down and started to violently rush back out to the ocean, washing away the sand beneath me.
I had placed Jesus at the foundation of my life, but my walk with him wasn’t refreshing anymore. It was heavy and challenging.
I had gotten to a place in life where I started to focus on how much I was sinking in the sand, and started to feel like everything I thought was underneath me, supporting me, was slowly slipping away.
Maybe you can relate. You thought certain people would never leave you. And now they have. You thought you had things under control only to find things are out of control.
And you start to feel hopeless and helpless, losing your footing as every day passes.
What God taught me that day on the beach is there are going to be times in life when the water and the sand are cool and refreshing, and there are going to be times when it feels like everything is slipping away.
But what you’re going to find out is that as you feel yourself sinking and everything slipping away and the last grain of sand is finally gone, you’re going to discover you are standing on a ROCK.
All the things slipping away right now aren’t the things that will actually hold you up in the end.
It took me over 25 years to get this. I tried to let everything else be at the foundation and none of it worked. And when the storms came, it all slipped away and my life crashed. It was a vicious cycle. Until I put the one thing at my foundation that would never slip away.
Psalm 62:5-7, "Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my HOPE comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honor come from God alone. He is my refuge. He is my mighty rock."
After the last 20 months of digging in and leading you, what excites me and encourages me the most is actually not the number of baptisms… it’s not an impressive building… it’s not what’s in the bank account. All that is great…
But what encourages Kelly and me the most is sitting with so many of you and hearing your stories and seeing that you are still standing, even though you’ve gone through hell the last two months… the last two years… the last 20 years. You’re still standing because Jesus is your foundation.
That is how we re-build a church… a community of faith… full of hope. Filled by the spirit of God… made up of women, men, and students that have stood against the storms of life.
God is doing a new thing in his little church in Cleves, OH. He’s transforming our hearts, our families, our friends, our neighbors. In our backyards and around the world and nothing will stand against his CHURCH… not Covid… no disease… no government agency… no division… no culture war… not even the gates of hell will prevail against His church!
Be encouraged Whitewater. I believe there are some exciting things in store, for God is up to something powerful. He has assembled quite the motley crew for such a time as this.