Rod Loy: 8/25/19

Hey, I’m Pastor Rod. Thanks for
joining us today. I hope this message makes a difference for
you. I’ve been lead Pastor at FirstNLR for 18 years, and in
that time we’ve made a lot of changes in response to God’s
direction. We’ve become very diverse as a church. Our church
family looks a whole lot more like heaven, and I love that.
We’ve grown from one location to many. We now have eight campuses
in Arkansas. An online campus that ministers to thousands. And
campuses in Texas, New York, and Tennessee. You give over two
million dollars every year to missions around the world, and
right here in Central Arkansas. We are now very involved in our
community. From inner city campuses, to feeding the
homeless, and disaster relief. So many other ways you’re
involved. And I have to be honest, when I started as your
pastor, a lot of this is my dream, but I wasn’t sure it
would ever become a reality. That wasn’t so much a lack of
faith, as it was recognizing obstacles. Eighteen years ago on
a Sunday morning, between services, the congregation voted
to decide if I was going to be Pastor. I was pretty nervous
because when we voted as a family I only got 66% of the
vote. Parker voted against me. [Audience Laughs] True story, I
couldn’t carry the vote in my own house. Anyway the church
voted and I’ve never shared the numbers before. After 18 years,
I’m ready. I got eight- two and a half percent of the vote. Even
though I’d been here nine years, between 17 and 18 percent of our
congregation voted no. Now I understand there were a lot of
reasons for that, but I started out knowing that almost a fifth
of our people were not interested in following me or
accepting any change that I might propose. And you know what
the biggest criticism was? The number one reason people voted
against me was because I was too young. Now, don’t get me wrong,
I didn’t think I was too young. They thought I was too young.
I’m not sure what the right age is to be a pastor, but whatever
it is, apparently I wasn’t there. I had people say things
like, “How can someone as young as you pastor a church like
this?” And, “You’re too young to be my pastor.” To which my
favorite response was, “Come back tomorrow.” [Laughter] I’ll
give you a minute on that. [More Laughter] One family left after
the dad said, “Well I can’t have a pastor younger than me.” Now
I’m not sure how that plays out long-term. [Audience Laughs] And
I know what you’re thinking, let’s see Pastor Rod, if 18
years ago you were elected Pastor, you would have been 21
years old then, right? [More Laughter] No, I was 35 years
old. Not 25, 35! I wasn’t a teenager. I was 35 years old.
And now it’s been years since someone has come to me and said,
“You’re too young to be my Pastor.” [Laughing] I would love
that now. It’d be awesome! You know I tried not to take the age
comment personally. But it always intrigued me, and I still
wonder what age qualifies for the anointing of the Holy
Spirit? What age do you have to be, to say yes to God? How old
do you have to be for God to use you? Is there a right age to
lead? And if there is, who determines it? And if there’s a
too young category, then by its very nature, that means there’s
also a too old category. So who decides when you’re no longer
useful? Well today I want to look with you at a Bible story
that flies in the face of the too young to lead crowd. There’s
some powerful lessons to learn from a young man’s rise to
leadership and accomplishments as King. My hope, is this story
will help you see things in a different way, and perhaps even
reconsider your perspective on whom God uses. We pick up the
story in 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 34. “Josiah was,” read those
next three words for me, yeah, “Eight years old when he became
King.” Eight years old! Not 35, he was eight. “And he reigned in
Jerusalem thirty-one years.” Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh
was also a king, he was evil. In fact the Bible says Manasseh did
much evil in the eyes of the Lord provoking him to anger.
Under Manassehs’ rule, the nation built altars to Baal.
They built Asherah poles to worship the goddess Asherah.
There were also worship of stars and planets. But the evil went
beyond that. People actually sacrificed children to Molech,
another one of their gods. And killed captives as an act of
worship. The people were evil and wicked. Then came Josiah’s
father, King Amon. He was also evil. He worshiped and offered
sacrifices to idols. Josiah’s father was assassinated by
members of the royal court, and then the people of the nation,
killed the guys who killed Josiah’s father. And made
Josiah, an eight-year-old boy, King. Eight years old! Josiah
was the king from the age of eight until the age of 39. In
spite of the evil example of his father and his grandfather. And
his father’s violent death, any witch could have affected Josiah
in a negative way, Josiah became one of the greatest kings. Even
though he grew up in the midst of great evil, he was enabled by
God to step beyond that evil, to break his family cycle of
godless leadership and to lead a nation back to the Lord. “Josiah
did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the
ways of his father David, not turning to the right or the
left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young,
he began to seek the God of his father David.” Something inside,
now sixteen year old Josiah, gave him the strength and wisdom
to do right. From an early age Josiah rejected evil and he
turned to God. “In his 12th year.” Now he’s twenty. Twenty
years old! “He began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high
places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images.” Now to
understand this, we got to go back in history a little bit.
The high places were created by pagan nationals who had
inhabited the land. They were dedicated to worshipping idols
and to carrying on practice of other religions. They were
called high places because these cultic places of worship were
located on natural heights. They were on hills, where there are
idols, and Asherah poles, and stone pillars, symbolizing their
gods. Horrible atrocities occurred at these high places as
people worshipped their gods. Captives and young children were
frequently thrown down from high places so they were split open
or dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Pregnant women were
ripped open. In all, six things occurred at the high places. The
burning of incense, sacrificing, eating of sacrificial meals,
prostitution, illicit sex and child sacrifice. It was a place
of human sacrifice, demonic activity, and overt sin. Worship
at these places was a high point of evil. Evils not new? See we
have a tendency to think today’s world is worse than ever before.
We say things like, “This is the worst it’s ever been.” And
that’s because our soul frame of reference is the times we live
in. But while it’s the worst we’ve experienced, this is not
the worst it’s ever been. Not by a long way. Think back when Nero
was emperor of Rome, Christians were burned at the stake to
provide light for his parties. In Josiah’s time, when he became
King, innocent babies were thrown from high places as
sacrifices to evil god’s. Evils always been present in the
world. Now, let me give you a balance point, just because
times have been worse, doesn’t mean times are good now. We live
in evil times. While child sacrifice is illegal, innocent
children are sacrificed and killed by abortion every day. An
article in December, 2018 edition of the AMA Journal of
ethics said, among other things, this… 2.8 million U.S. women
confronted unintended pregnancy in 2011. Forty-two percent of
those chose to terminate those pregnancies. If the low 2014 or
abortion rate holds steady, 1 in 4 American women will have an
abortion. Now if you’ve had an abortion, I want you to know,
the Lord forgives you and we forgive you. We will not treat
you with anger and insults. We will love you. We will pray with
you. We will believe God for healing and we will walk the
journey with you. See we can never forget that behind an
issue, is individuals with real hurt and real pain. May God
forgive us when our anger at an issue sends the wrong message to
an individual and causes them to run from the only place where
they can receive help. Our world is evil. Abortion is common.
Addiction is epidemic. Sexual choices that violate God’s
command are not only accepted, they’re honored. Prejudice, hate
and division seem to have infiltrated every place of our
society, including sadly, often the church. Our nation needs
revival. Israel was commanded by God to destroy the high places,
but up until this time they didn’t. Sometimes they
substituted idols for God. Other times they worshipped both.
There’s a long list of kings who ignored God’s instructions and
allowed the high places to remain. Until finally God
elevated an 8 year old boy to become King. “And under his
direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to
pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the
Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces
and scattered over the graves of those who’d sacrifice to them.
He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and he
purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim
and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he
tore down the idols and the Asherah poles crushed the idols
to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars. Then he went
back to Jerusalem.” Josiah slaughtered the priests of the
high places and burned their bones on the altars. Now that
seems pretty extreme, but you got to remember this was before
grace. This is how evil was dealt with before Jesus’s
sacrifice on the cross. Judgment was all they knew. There was no
grace. King Josiah smashed the sacred stones, he cut down the
polls, he removed the idols of worship in every town. He didn’t
just destroy the high places, he destroyed any evidence that
they’d ever existed. Even the kings who followed God before
him, didn’t destroy the high places. They didn’t want to
anger the people by tearing them down. So they left them just in
case. And along came Josiah who was willing to do what the
others wouldn’t. The high places were elevated, they were
visible, everyone in the kingdom saw what was happening. Josiah
was sending a message to the nation. It is time for radical
change, and return to worshiping the one true God. He destroyed
the high places so idol worship was no longer an option. And we
can learn from Josiah. You can’t allow evil to remain and expect
God’s presence and blessing. It is often unpopular to address
evil. It certainly makes people uncomfortable. But evil must be
confronted. Now hold on, some of you are excited, like all right,
I’m going home and I’m doing some Facebook posts about evil.
Parker would call you a keyboard warrior. Useless! [Audience
Chuckles] Before you do that, personalize this story. You may
not have pagan altars, child personalize this story. You may
not have pagan altars, child sacrifices, idol worship, but
you have high places. You have areas in your life that you’ve
allowed to remain, in spite of knowing that it displeases God.
Your high places might be something you watch, something
you do, something you listen to, or something you say. It might
be an attitude or inaction. It might be a friend you’re
unwilling to walk away from. It might be a cell phone number
you’re not willing to change. Contacts you’re not willing to
delete. You may not currently be practicing sin, but you haven’t
completely destroyed its influence in your life. You’ve
left your options open, just in case. You’re high place is that
part of your life that you allow to remain, even though you know
it’s not pleasing to God. You have to eliminate options to
return to that evil. Change your cell phone number. Often that’s
how I know if somebody’s really serious about change. They’ll
say, “I have to get away from these friends.” I say, “Great
change your cell phone number.” “Oh, I don’t know if I can do
that.” All right you’re not going to get away from them.
Quit hanging out with the people who lead you to do wrong. Move
to another city. If you live in another city, move to North
Little Rock, we’d love to have you here. Cancel HBO or Netflix.
Change schools. Find a new job. If you’re addicted to gossip,
delete Facebook. I have a good friend who is addicted to
pornography. And you know what he did? He got rid of his
computer. He didn’t just put it in a closet, he put it in my
closet. True story! I still have his computer, and every time I
walk by it, I lay my hand on it and I pray for him. He decided
to destroy the option to return to that which was destroying
him. If someone says, “My life has been destroyed by alcohol, I
have to be free or it’s going to kill me. I’ll never touch it
again.” But then they don’t pour it down the drain and get rid of
all the bottles in their house, you know the commitment isn’t
real. If they go to bars, because, “I can handle it.” You
know they’re not going to stay sober. As long as the option is
there, one day temptation will be too strong. If you want to
overcome evil, don’t just eliminate sin from your life,
destroy anything that allows you to return to evil. Josiah
destroyed the places of idol worship. “And then, in the 18th
year of Josiah’s reign.” He’s still younger than I was when I
became Pastor. Now he’s 26, how can he be king? “To purify the
land and the temple, he sent some guys to repair the temple
of the Lord his God.” Repairs were probably needed due to
neglect and abuse, while the nation was focused on
worshipping idols, instead of God. They built elaborate places
of worship to idols, while God’s house fell into a state of
disrepair. And Josiah, the young King, rebuilt the temple. He was
determined to honor God and restore His glory in the
kingdom. While the temple was being rebuilt something really
odd happened. One of the priests found The Book of the Law,
Deuteronomy and brought it to the King. We don’t really know
where the scriptures were found, but in those days it was common
to bury a foundation box when a temple or a palace was built,
and the box was put in a place so there’d always be an accurate
record. It contained the original plans for the building,
historical documents, important information, kind of like a time
capsule. And in this case the box also contained a copy of the
laws that God had given to Moses. God’s Laws, the
scripture, had been lost. But it probably wasn’t an accidental
thing. One historian wrote, not only had the reading and
observance of the law been neglected in preceding decades,
it’s possible that Manasseh, that’s Josiah grandfather, even
destroyed existing copies that were in circulation. It is
likely that Manasseh and Amon, Josiah’s grandfather and father,
intentionally destroyed every copy of God’s Word. They didn’t
want anyone to read or hear about God’s laws, because they
weren’t being followed. That’s how far Israel had fallen. And
that same attitude still exists. People quit reading the Bible
when they quit following its commands. God’s Word is an
unchanging standard of truth. There’s something that’s
supernatural that happens when you read the words, because
they’re not just words, they’re God’s words. And reading God’s
Word is a way of encountering Him. Of course people stop
reading the Bible when they’re sinning, because they don’t want
to encounter God. The Bible’s our guidebook for living. It is
filled with principles for relationships, for managing
money, for avoiding temptation, for a healthy sexuality, for
dealing with conflict, for living a life pleasing to God.
But it’s not just a guidebook, it’s also a road map that points
the way to heaven. Psalms 119 says. “Your word is a lamp to my
feet and a light to my path.” When you’re disobeying and
ignoring God’s commands, you don’t want to feel guilty or
convicted, so you avoid the Bible. That’s one reason people
get mad when I talk about money in church. They don’t want to be
reminded or feel convicted about their intentional disobedience.
And so their attitude is, “How dare you talk about a part of
the Bible that I’m not willing to follow.” Warren Wiersbe
wrote, It seems remarkable that the book of the law would be
lost in the temple! That would be like losing the Bible and the
church building, and not missing it for years. And they found the
Bible, God’s law. When it was read to King Josiah he wept,
because he knew they’d been disobedient. King Josiah made
the connection between the decision to ignore God and the
bad things that were happening in the kingdom. He said, “Great
is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because our
fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted
in accordance with what was written in the book. Then, the
king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.
He went up to the temple of the Lord with the men of Judah, the
people of Jerusalem, the priests Levites- all the people from the
least the greatest. He read it in their hearing all the words
of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the
temple the Lord. The King stood by his pillar and renewed the
covenant in the presence of the Lord, to follow the Lord to keep
his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and
all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in
the book.” And that’s the same decision I challenge you to
make. Follow the example of King Josiah. Read the Bible, study
its principles and commands, then commit to follow God’s
directions with all your heart, with all your soul, and to obey
God’s commands. “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from
all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all
who were present Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as
he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of
their fathers.” Isn’t that a remarkable story? I mean if
you’ve never heard that before, it’s incredible. King Josiah
became King at eight years old and instead of leading them all
to puppy power, he led a nation to revival. What king after king
failed to do, Josiah did. Evil was destroyed and the nation
returned to God. What a powerful example, that the anointing of
God is not determined by age. God can use the youngest among
us, to lead us into his plan for our city, for our church, for
our nation, and for this world. Look what Paul said to Timothy,
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young, but
you set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in
faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the
public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching. Do not
neglect your gift, which is given to you through a prophetic
message when the body of elders lay hands on you. So, I want to
echo Paul’s words to our young leaders. Young leaders listen to
me, don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young. Set
the example. Set the pace. Those of us who are older, are ready
and willing, to follow God’s plan and God’s leader, if you
will lead us we will follow. And we commit, we will not respond
to you the way people responded to me 18 years ago. We’re a
diverse church, that’s not just in race or color, we are also a
multi-generational church. We have great grandparents and
grandparents and parents and single adults and young adults
and students and children, worshipping and serving
side-by-side. That is a wonderful strength of our
church, and that is how God’s church is supposed to look.
Generations worshiping God together. But it comes with
challenges, so let’s talk about it. As a multi-generational
church, we must be willing to accept multi-generational
leadership. Every generation plays a part, so those of you
who are younger, look at me, don’t write off those of us with
gray hair. Those of us who are older, celebrate the fact that
God is raising up a new generation that is passionate in
worship, that’s open-hearted, generous and radically committed
to Him. We must be open to the fact that God can raise up a
Josiah among us, who will confront evil and be used by God
in a powerful way. If God did it once, God can do it again.
[Music Begins] That’s why we have students on the worship
team. That’s why Madison, some of you just figured out that the
last two years she’s been leading us in worship, she’s
been a junior and a senior in high school. That’s why we have
students and young people in leadership at our church. If
you’re older don’t you dare resent young leaders, because
they represent the success of the church. That’s what you’ve
lived for and served for and gave for. That’s the result of
your ministry and your investing. We can trust them to
lead us and to lead this church into God’s future. I got a
newsflash for you, whoever follows me is going to be
younger than me, and we’re going to celebrate that. And I’m going
to celebrate that. I’m going to sit right there on the front row
and say, “This young person, this young man or this young
woman, they’re God’s person for our church.” Whether you’re
eight years old, like King Josiah, or 80 years old know
this, one person, determined to be obedient, regardless of their
age, can spark revival. We need revival in America. Are you
ready to follow somebody who might be young, to see that
happen? I challenge you as well, to follow Josiah’s pattern.
Listen to me and look at me. Some of you, your parents were
evil, and your grandparents were evil, and there’s a cycle in
your family of dysfunctional, evil relationships. You can
break that cycle. You do not have to be like your parents and
your grandparents, and your uncles, and your aunts, you can
break that cycle. You can break your family’s pattern of sin and
addiction. Just because they were, doesn’t mean you are. You
can break that. If Josiah could break it, after his grandfather
and his father and everything they did, then you can. Look at
me. God has a new plan for you. A new plan! It’s not the old
plan. It’s not the plan that your family has followed. You
can break the cycle. With God’s help you can break the cycle.
You’re going to break the cycle. In just a moment I’m going to
pray for you. That you break the cycle, and turn things around
and just like an 8-year old king, you’re going to be used to
make a difference in your family. Your past does not
determine your future. You can break the cycle. Reject and
confront evil. Then eliminate break the cycle. Reject and
confront evil. Then eliminate your options to return. Don’t go
back. Learn and follow God’s Word, and lead revival. You
lead, we will follow. Say, “Rod do you really believe a kid
could lead us?” Josiah did. I do not believe the anointing of the
Lord is wasted on the young. God’s got a plan for His church.
We’ve got to be ready for what He’s got. Now, I want you bow
your heads with me. And some of you, you have a pattern and a
cycle in your family, and sometimes it makes you feel
doomed. And you say, “I’m acting just like my dad. I’m acting
just like my grandfather.” Some of you have a pattern of
alcoholism in your family, some of you have a pattern of abusive
relationships, some of you have just a long history of
dysfunction in your family. And you say. “Pastor Rod, I don’t
want to be like them. I want to break the cycle.” If that’s you
stand up, I want to pray for you. You say, “What are people
going to think?” They already know! It’s going to be all
right. And we’re going to pray that cycle is broken forever.
Listen to me. When Jesus died on a cross for you, the curse of
sin was broken. And sin no longer has control of you. And
your family pattern no longer has control of you. You can be
free and break the cycle. And you’re going to. And we believe
in you. Your church family believes in you. If there’s
somebody standing around you, I want you to stand with them. I
would love to see like, eight or ten people with everybody who’s
standing. Would you do that? Would you just go to somebody
who’s near you, and we’re going to pray for you. Listen to me,
we know, we get it. That sometimes you find yourself
acting like that old pattern, and it makes you mad. You can
break that cycle and you’re going to break that cycle, not
with self-help, not with some book, not with something I tell
you to do. But by the power of God and the anointing of the
Holy Spirit, you are going to be different, than those that came
before you.

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