Harold Bullock: I love a beautiful sunset. There's something about them that just, I don't know. It sort of fittingly ends the day. Something rather deeply emotional happens in me as I look at one. Then sunrises. You look at the beautiful sunrise, it just kind of lifts the whole start of the day.
Actually, we enjoy standing on the edge of very massive grandeur, like the Grand Canyon. I don't know if you've ever been there or not, but when you're standing there, particularly if it's sunrise or sunset, you're standing there and looking at this awesome deep gully. Well, it's more than that. You really feel small, but at the same time it somehow just sort of lifts your heart. We're like that.
We love stories. Stories about heroic people. We make movies about them. People who at a great price do what really counts. I like Braveheart, which is based on the story of William Wallace. He actually paid with his life for his leadership and trying to find freedom for his people. We admire that, that someone would do something like that because that's just who we are as human beings.
By the way, I'm Harold Bullock. I'm the senior pastor here at Hope. If you're new here, I enjoy meeting you. I'll be hanging out near the entry after we finish up.
This thing in our hearts is actually very significant. Very often we're told by the media and some parts of academia that there is no God, that we are like Carl Sagan many years ago in the Cosmos series said, we are the stuff of stars, or star dust.
In one way that's true because we're made up of compounds, or made up of elements like the stars. But even if we're made up of stuff like that, is that all we are? We are only complex animals. Is that all we are? The idea is that everything has sort happened by accident. There was the Big Bang, poof. There was nothing before the Big Bang, not empty space or anything, nothing, nothing. And then poof, the Big Bang and then after billions of years by process of accidental evolution, we come into being. Is that all we are?
We get a lot of conflicting messages in the media. This one comes through and it sounds reasonable. We sort of tuck it in our idea box, but it has a lot of implications. The way life flows for us, we don't really think things through when we get them. I mean, stuff's always popping on TV. You're watching some TV show and someone's crying because their husband or wife has died and then you pop into a McDonald's commercial it just sort of popped. It goes back and forth. We don't have time to think a whole lot about stuff, but this idea has a lot of implications.
If it's true, it means some things about life. Is all that exists merely here by accident? Well, there are some ways that we are like the animals. Most of us love a good meal. Dogs do. Cats do also. Most of us like to rest every now and then. Well, dogs do. My dogs really did growing up. Cats do, cats like to rest. Most of us enjoy a good sleep and cats do, dogs do, tigers do, elephants do. There are some similarities between us, but this stuff about sunrises, the beauty of a sunrise, none of my dogs ever seem to pay attention. Or sunsets, or this whole thing about transcendence.
We have these noble ideals that we really value, like freedom or justice. People who've died for justice, that it might be done for others. Or beauty. We have these ideas that are just wonderful. They sort of call us upward. The dogs and the elephants don't share this. The sunsets, sunrises, grandeur, tales of heroes, they're lost on cats and dogs. They are the stuff of humans.
There's something in us that just wants to rise it up. If the atheists are right, the noble and transcendent are pointless. They have absolutely, they're not really there and they make no sense.
Let me show you a screen here. I'm not trying to put atheists down, but what I'm saying is if you sit down and you start thinking things through, and people have, volumes have been written on this, atheism says there is no God. If there is no God, then there are logical conclusions of this. The conclusion is called nihilism. The word German word Nihill, meaning nothing. If there is no God, there is no meaning. There is no meaning to life. I mean, you have your experiences. I have my experiences, but there is no ultimate meaning to them.
We sometimes look back on very hard times and we wonder what the purpose was of that or what the meaning was of that. But if there is a meaning it's because there was somebody there at home to make it mean something. If there is no God, there is no meaning. There is no purpose in anything.
We all want to have a purpose for life. Sometimes people die because their life doesn't have any purpose, but a purpose implies a proposer. Someone who set a purpose for life. There is none, if there is no God. There is no value there. There is nothing important and nothing unimportant. It just is. So humanitarianism is, murder is, it just is. That's all you can say. It's not bad. It's not good. There is no value. You tend to think you're pretty important. All of us do, but in this scheme of things you're not. There is no importance. It's just what one person thinks or another person thinks.
There's no right or wrong. If there is no God, there is legal or illegal, that's what society makes up, but there's nothing right or wrong. You have to help someone across the street. That's one thing. To murder or rape is another thing. But neither one is right or wrong, logically, based on this idea. And again people who've written books on this, I'm not making this up.
There are no persons. You think you're a person. In this scheme of things, you are a machine. I read a post on the website on the west coast, professor on the west coast, psychology professor said that she always start your classes with you have to realize that you are a machine. You're a biochemical machine. Is that it? Are you just a machine?
There's nothing wrong with turning the machine off. Is that all? Is that all you are? You think you're a person, but in this scheme of things, no, you are like a dog or a cat. You're just more intelligent.
There are no persons. We think we're a person, but they're not. We're just biochemical machines. There is no home. Actually, there's no free will. You, everything I do is just sort of predetermined by the system I operate in. I like to think I have a choice, but not really. There's no hope. If you're stuck, tough. If you've gone through really hard things and you hope that life will get better, well good luck. There is no hope. You live, you die. That's it. Your dog lives, your dog dies. That's it. Your cat lives, you cat dies. That's it. You live, you die. That's it.
Now I'm not trying to depress you. I just want you to understand, we get all these very different messages and we don't think them through. We tend to buy into them. And that's a very popular idea right now.
Let me, I'd like to show you a video. It is very hard to get someone who is an atheist to actually talk about the implications, because the implications are pretty stark. And if you're going to talk to a group, you'd rather not talk about stark things, hard things, ugly things. But there's a clip out of a movie called Expelled, with a Cornell University professor. He grew up in a Bible believing home, got into university and discovered biology and became an atheist. And he looks back on this, his name is William Provine. He's a professor of history and biology. He looks back on this. Cornell is a significant school and to be able to teach there, you have to have some stuff together.
But I'm going to play you a clip out of the movie because he's just very frank. I appreciate his frankness. Take a look. He's just talking very clearly. Fedor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist, highly respected guy, has one of his characters say this. If God is nothing, everything is permitted. If God is nothing, everything is a matter of indifference. Everything doesn't matter. Everything's permitted. Rape, murder, genocide. If there is no God, it's all permitted. Slavery, theft, and the list goes on and on. If there is no God, if everything's indifferent. We think good, bad, no, it's just all the same.
If God is real though, if God is real, your recognition of beauty, your desire for the stuff that just rises up in the hero legends, all those things are valid. Scripture says this. God has also set eternity in the hearts of men.
Now we do have a life that in a lot of ways is similar to animals. And yet there's something more in there. There's this call upward. There's this eternal push and humans have it. No reason in evolution for them to have it, but humans have it. If God is real, this changes everything. It changes the meaning of life. I have meaning, life has meaning. My life, myself, I am not just another animal wandering the planet hoping to live until he dies. I'm not just another animal with all these false illusions about something noble. I'm actually significant, I've been designed by God and I have meaning.
Life has meaning. Life shifts from being my struggle as another kind of machine animal, my struggle to meet my needs before others can get their needs met. I need to get enough of the kill. It shifts from my grim struggle to something that even though it happens in a broken world, still has meaning and beauty and nobility to it. If the God of the Bible is real, I have meaning and life actually has meaning.
Easter is the time that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had been executed on Friday before the Sunday of Easter. We call it Good Friday now. And he had been executed by crucifixion, very terrible way to go. On Sunday he rose again from the grave.
Now the good news that price followers carry, we call it the gospel, we've carried it ever since the beginning with him. He is God. And those who trust in him, are willing to yield their lives to him, those people are forgiving their sins by God. He actually died to pay the price for their sins. And they actually begin a new life, a new life. Now, they don't change very much in looks, but a new life starts when they yield their life to him and they'll spend eternity with him. The experience, this experience of a different kind of life begins when we yield to Christ leadership. So we celebrate Easter.
When I yield my life to Christ, not only my ideas about life in general change, and not only do my ideas about my significance as a human change, but when I yield my life to Christ a bunch of things change.
The first one is God moves in. He actually enters my life. Scripture says the spirit of God lives in you. I'm no longer alone. I actually have someone, and they moved in.
I receive insights I didn't have before. We get insights as normal people, but there are insights that come to me that I did not have before.
I get promptings to do things and sometimes not to do things. Don't do that. And it comes from him.
Reading the Bible, I don't know if you've ever tried to read it or not, but it starts to open up. Beforehand it's sort of a story and some of it is a little dry and some of it's interesting but hard to understand. What is going on here? But it begins to open up. This is is work.
So he moves in, and then I begin to move forward in life with help. I actually got help from him. Romans 8:13 talks about how by the spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. We all struggle with our desires. We have some good desires, we have some bad ones. And there are times whenever we know we really ought to do right, but we really want to do wrong. Everyone always experiences that. But after he moves in, there's actually help to move toward the right, there's power to do that. He begins to give us power to deal with stuff.
I'd like to show you a quote. This is from a friend's newsletter. We've been friends many years. He's a little bit younger than me, but he talks about the night he came to Christ. Let me show you this. He says that very night about 1:00 AM, a friend had shared the Gospel, the story of Christ, what Christ had done with him. He was pretty much an atheist. He read the four spiritual laws six times. It's a booklet about Christ. He's a very thorough guy, six times, and then he prayed. If this is true, it's the greatest news ever, so come into my life. He's an athlete in college, moving on in the world. Struggling with drugs. Within a few days he was drug free.
Within a few days, his life, instead of being all about him, it started to shift around. He's been tremendous help to other people through the years. It wasn't the track he was on. His life changed dramatically.
I move forward with help. I not only know I should get off drugs, there's help. Or other things. As I put God first in my choices, he's made several promises to me. One of them is that he'll provide what I need. That sounds good. Just sit at home, front door open so God can back the truck up. It doesn't work that way. You have to bear responsibility. That's part of his will. You have to bear responsibility. You need to work.
But as I'm moving forward in life, I don't have to worry. He will meet my needs. So I can turn my energies into moving instead of being paralyzed by the worry. He's promised. He always has.
He's promised he'll take even hard things, really hard things, and work them together over time to bring good out of it for me. And my wife and I have walked through some hard things over the years and he's brought good out of them. One of them was the death of our eight year old, I'm sorry, our eight month old daughter. It just about destroyed me. And over time, God has shown a lot of good coming out of that.
You pray it never happens again, but this is not the destruction. In the middle of all this broken world, this is God. And over time the good will show up. It's like someone making a cake. You probably wouldn't want to eat half a cup of flour or a cup of flour, at least most of you. Then a half a stick of butter. A little butter's good. But after a quarter stick, you'd get sort of stuck it. And the other ingredients that go in, even sugar, a little bit of sugar is nice, but a quarter cup. God takes these different things in life and he mixes them together. Then in the heat, in the oven over time, what comes out is something good, a cake.
And you experience this. Does that mean whenever the tragic thing happens that you don't cry? No, but you know this is not the last word. And over time, God brings good. Even out of that.
God's also promised to guide me. As I move forward in life, he is with me and he's going to be. First of all, leading me into truth. As I as a move forward, if I'm really going to walk with him, then my eyes are going to get clearer and clearer and clearer on what life is about. My perspective will get sharper. Why is that important?
Well, if you've ever signed on with a con man, you understand. You pay, but you never get the delivery. It always costs and it never brings back the good. Truth is very valuable.
He also promises to lead me. I move forward and I make decisions and he helps me, helps me make those decisions. You can't look forward and see how everything's going to work out. We all look in the future and go huh, but you know what? When you turn around and look backwards, you can see the path, you can see the track of things. This is the way that it is with in following God. As you're making the decisions, he gives you help. Sometimes risky decisions, he gives you help. Later on as you look back, you see how that fit into things that developed later. He helps me.
He promises to give me life, not just the breathing life of my cat or dog, but a life, a life that that opens up. We sang a few moments ago, a life that is free. He's won my freedom. And it keeps on opening up. He actually says he'll give you life to the full. That's a good promise.
As I move forward with it, sometimes people are afraid to commit their lives to Christ because they think what's going to happen, life is going to shut down and all the good things they could enjoy are gone. It's not true. Life keeps on opening up. You age, you get older. You have struggles with health, but life doesn't close down. Even then, it keeps on opening up. It opens up for eternity actually.
He's also promised to discipline and train me. That's one of those promises you're not sure about. I've experienced the Lord's discipline. It hurts. However, what happens out of that is I change and that change is for the better. A good parent disciplines a child because they don't want them to really hurt themselves in life. God disciplines us, we change.
Actually, my wife I think probably appreciates that, over time I've changed. That's good. My kids probably appreciate that. Over time, I've changed. That's good. God promises this.
When I yielded my life to Christ, I begin to see things differently. The world still is there. That doesn't go away, but I look at situations differently. I look at people differently.
2 Corinthians 5:16 says from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though once we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. We don't see things the same. I can still, I don't become this warm, cuddly puppy, some kind of a emotional dough person that just caves in under the pressure situations. I can still lead. I can still do hard things. I can make hard decisions. I can be firm, but I don't see things like I did.
Years ago I got to know a guy on the west coast. In the mid 90s I got to know him. At that time he made a million a year and then shared in the investments that he worked with besides that. We were sitting in his house on top of a hill in one of the prettiest counties on the west coast. I don't know what the top of the hill cost him. The driveway is about an eighth of a mile. All I know was I really enjoyed it and I was not going to buy that anytime soon.
He'd come to Christ. He'd come to Christ as a mature man, he was in his 50s. He told me, he said you know, Christ really changed the way I see things. I said what's that? He was a turnaround executive. He would go with a group of investors, they'd buy a company and then would redo it, restructure it, reorganize it until it became profitable, and then they'd sell it for a lot of money. So his normal procedure was to move in and chop a whole bunch of heads and reorganize the company and then move forward, make money.
He said used to, I'd go into a company and I would look and basically people are like organizational slots to me. He said I knew what had to be done, I'd do it and people just had to live with whatever happened. He said it's not that way now. He said I still make hard decisions, but he said I walk in and I see people, people that are important to God. He said so I have changed some of my decision making. He still made a lot of money, but you see differently. Before you come to him, you don't see that way. It just changed. When I yield my life to Christ, what's important shifts, it changes.
Now Paul, a fellow in the New Testament, wrote whatever was to my profit, I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ. He's a very, very sharp guy, had a tremendous academic background, had a tremendous family background and was a rising star in his field. He met Christ, all that changed. He says I now consider it lost. He's not saying that all these things are totally unimportant. You don't need to worry about anything. If you have ambitions, that's good. It's great to want to go somewhere and do something. It just needs to be right. But what you'll discover is achieving your ambitions is not going to give you the eternal buzz you hoped it would. It just won't happen.
Now, where's your life going? What's your goal in life? What do you want to do? You want to be the richest person in the cemetery? The money is not wrong. It's very helpful, but is that your goal? You want to be the person with the most toys? It could be cars, it could be electronics. You could have more toys that anybody. Toys are nice. The problem is after you play with it a little bit, they're just not the same bus.
You want to be the guy who got to the top of ladder? Climbing the ladder, I'm going to get to the top. You know what the problem with that is? There's nothing wrong, again, with ambition to climb. The problem is once you get to the top, where do you go? Because life keeps on moving. And getting to top of the ladder is nice. It's just not enough, not for a human.
Conquering all the challenges that came my way, sounds good. Boy, definitely if you've got challenges, it's great to conquer them. However, it's never enough. It's never enough. It always turns into yesterday.
Before liked by people, when I died everybody liked me. That's nice. Is it enough? Or exerting your will, like the old Frank Sinatra song. I did it my way. Yeah, and you're dead.
What's life going to be about for you? When I yield my life to Christ, I now start living for his will. And what happens is happiness keeps on coming to me. Most, I just want to be happy. I'm for that. The problem is how do you find it?
2 Corinthians 5:15, he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them. This becomes my goal now. I want to find out what he wants, I want to make it happen.
Then another verse, to the man who pleases him, the one who does his will, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness. Very interesting. Now, happiness is something God gives. I once saw a picture of a guy on a treadmill. He was running as hard as he could and his arms were loaded, he has all kinds of things, possessions. And out here in front of him was something else that he wanted. He's running on the treadmill just going as hard as he can to get that. You can't ever get there. You can't find that happiness because happiness is actually a byproduct. It's actually given to you by God.
We're going to talk about happiness next week by the way. We're going to look at the difference, the changes that come in happiness for us. I'm far happiness. It's just there's more to it than you might think.
So the big question becomes what does God want? How can I move forward toward that? Then as I walk with God trying to please him, then happiness comes to me. Now, catch this. I don't obey God so that happiness will come to me. I obey God regardless one way or the other, and then he grants the happiness that's good for me.
There's some people have the idea that well, we'll what we'll do, we'll just do what the Bible says and then we'll get rich. We'll get healthy. We'll be better looking or something. It doesn't work that way. You do his will for his will and then happiness comes to you. He brings what's good for me. So join us next week for the happiness.
You're more than the mirror animal. You do like to eat. You do like to sleep, but you're more than that now. Your heart lifts up whenever you see beauty in nature. You actually yearn for noble things that make no sense in an atheistic framework. You look at the shortness of life and you want life to go on forever. God's put eternity in your heart. Jesus Christ was God. You're a human being made by God and in a lot of ways you have a heart like his in this nobility, drive, but you're a rebel by choice. Jesus Christ came on a rescue mission. He died on a cross to pay the price for your rebellion and mine so that we could actually walk with God.
When you decide to trust him and quit going your own way and you start trying to move his way, than your guilt before God's taking care of. All of us have stuff that we can look back on and we wish we would have never done. Guilt before God is taken care of. Then God himself moves into our life and begins to lead us and to help us.
I'd like to invite you, if you're here today, you've never yielded your life to Christ, I'd like to invite you to yield your life to him while we pray. God has made you significant and God desires to walk with you. We're going to pray in a moment. The band will come out while we pray. They're going to sing. As they sing, if you haven't yielded your life to Christ, again, I would. encourage you to take the opportunity.
If you're not sure if Christ is real, then make a commitment to yourself to find out. There are actually things you can check out to look at this. There's a video on YouTube called The Case for Christ. Great resource. We can help you with more.
If you are reasonably convinced that Jesus Christ is God and he did die and came to life again get on Easter, then why wait? Life is waiting on you friend. Tell him, Lord, I've been a rubble. Thank you for dying for me and come into my life. Make me a new person, like my friend John. Things change.
I'd like to lead us in prayer. Father, thank you that we are more than just the cats and dogs, even the most intelligent animals you've made us greater than that. And when our heart, when our heart responds to the beautiful, to the noble, you yourself are tugging on our hearts telling us we are more. For our friends here today who have yet to commit their lives to you, we pray you have given them clarity and courage to go ahead and step up and follow you. For those of us who walk with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, we thank you for the resurrection. We honor you and praise you for it because out of that has come life for us. Thank you for the cross and the resurrection. And thank you for being willing to move into us and to take us in a very different kind of life. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray and honor you. Amen.