Sermon Series: Love's Greatest Hits - "You Give Love A Bad Name"

“You give Love a bad name”

· Charles Barkley made a TV commercial, famous quote: “I am not a role model” meaning don’t look at me, I’ll mess up, look at real heroes – teachers, firemen, police, astronauts
· Like it or not, Charles was a role model.
· The same way, whether we like it or not, if we call ourselves followers of God then we’re in a way role models.
· By being a Christian, we subject ourselves to be analyzed and over analyzed by every nonbeliever (and believer) on the planet.
· Everything we do, say, wear, etc is under constant scrutiny
· And because we live under such a powerful microscope, our faults are noticed, and we often live down to our reputation.
· We really give love a bad name.
· This is why I could not think of any better song choice than that for this week’s message. But long before Bon Jovi made it a #1 song way back in 1986, and man had already made that phrase famous: Jonah
· The story of Jonah is one of the 2 or 3 most famous bible stories ever. People all over the world who have never picked up a bible or walked through the doors of a church know of this story. But it’s probably one of the least preached.
· Review the story of Jonah

Four Principles we can learn that may help prevent us from
“Giving love a bad name”.

1) We can run away from God but we can’t outrun God
· I shared a story of a time when my sister ran away (note: she only got has far as the end of our street)
· She was never out of mom’s reach and we’re never out of God’s reach.

2) Rebellion doesn’t just lead to personal pain but pain to others that are connected to us.
· Jonah’s rebellion not only affected him but also the crew. The crew lost a tremendous amount of money because they had to hurl their cargo overboard. Now their lives are in danger. Why? All because Jonah was running from God.
· Whether you realize it or not, you put other people in spiritual danger when you rebel from God.

 · You bring your junk into other people’s lives when you are running from God.
· I have enough junk of my own to be carrying around. I don’t really need anyone else’s.
· Tony Evans quote: “If you are going to be a fool, be a fool by yourself, don’t go messing up everyone else’s situation because of your foolishness.
· Rebellion leads to pain, not only to yourself but to others.

3) What you wanted and what you were pursuing are never worth more than what you gave up.
· You gave up a close and intimate relationship with God.
· You gave up harmony and peace in your life. You have distanced yourself from God.
· Now there will be a moment of clarity when you look at what you have finally achieved and realize that it is just a worthless idol.
· You traded a worthless idol for the experience of having that intimate relationship with a loving Father.
· In your despair, pain, grief, where do you turn to? Do you cry out to that false idol for help? I don’t think so.
· Like Jonah, who is running away, we think we have everything under control, but we don’t.
· We all learn the hard way, it's not until we are broken, and busted that it all becomes clear to us.
· There's this moment of awe. Clarity. What am I doing? What are my core values? I have only one life to live, and I need to make it count for something.

4) God came to Jonah a second time
· Thankfully, we serve the God of second chances. Just like Jonah, many have received a second chance to do what God called them to do.
* Adam sinned in the garden and God covered him.
* Moses murdered a man and God called him.
* Elijah quit and complained then God re-commissioned him.
* Peter denied the Lord and then God used him at Pentecost.
* John Mark deserted the mission team at Pamphylia yet God moved upon him to write the second Gospel.
· God is the God of the second chance.
· Philip Yancey wrote a book called What's So Amazing About Grace? In a chapter called "The Lovesick Father," he retells this story...

A young girl grows up on a soybean farm outside Decatur, Illinois.

Her parents do not much care for the music she listens to or the clothes she wears or her nose ring. She does not much care for their values or their church. They have another argument. She locks herself in her room. When her dad knocks on the door, she screams, "I hate you!" She decides to run away. She decides to run away to the most rebellious, permissive, non-family value state in the Union. Want to guess which one that is? California.
She decides to run to the most rebellious, permissive, non-family value city in that state. Want to guess which one? San Francisco.

When she gets there, she is much lonelier than she had anticipated, but she soon meets a man who drives the nicest car she has ever seen. He gives her a ride. He buys her lunch. He shows her the city. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she has ever felt, and she wanted to feel good really bad.
She realizes how much life and fun her parents have been robbing her of. This good life goes on for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car (she calls him "Boss") teaches her a few things about what men like. It's a side of life that she never knew in Decatur, Illinois. The parties and the penthouses and the gifts and the glamour are like being in another world for her.

After a year, the first signs of illness appear. It amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, he turns her out on the street. No money; no clothes; no car; no parties. She is alone. She uses what she knows on the streets to get whatever money she can, but she looks gaunt and thin. The men she is with now are no longer wealthy and generous, and sometimes they're dangerous and cruel. All her money goes to support her habit. She eats whatever she can find. She sleeps on a metal grate or a park bench.
One night as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything around her looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She is a little girl, lost, cold, and frightened. Her pockets are empty. Her clothes are rags. Her stomach is hungry. She needs a fix. Her eyes are filled with tears. Then her mind flashes on a single image, her home in Decatur, Illinois, when summer comes, and the fields are so green you can hardly take all that life in. "Oh God, why did I leave? My dog at home eats better than I do now."

She is sobbing, and she knows that more than ever she has wanted anything in her life, she wants to go home.

Three straight calls. Three straight connections with the answering machine. Twice she hangs up without leaving a message.

The third time she says, "Dad, mom, it's me. I was wondering about coming home. I'm going to be on a bus. It will pass through sometime around midnight on Tuesday. If you're not there, I'll just keep on going to New York. Just wanted you to know." The whole time on the bus, she can't turn off the questions.

She wonders if they even got the message. She wishes she'd given them more warning. She wonders if they've given her up for dead. She keeps thinking about what she is going to say to her father. She keeps rehearsing this little speech in her mind. "Dad, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know it was my fault, not yours. Can you forgive me?" She hasn't apologized for anything for years.

The bus pulls into the station, and the driver says, "Fifteen minutes, folks. That's all the time we have." Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She looks in her little compact mirror, tries to brush her hair and get the lipstick marks off her teeth. She sees the needle marks in her arms and wonders if her parents will notice if they're there. She walks into that bus terminal at one o'clock in the morning in Decatur, Illinois.

She has imagined a thousand different scenes in her mind, but not one of them prepared her for what she sees because there inside those concrete walls around those plastic chairs, in that bus terminal in Decatur, Illinois, stands a group of 40 people, brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and one dog. They're all wearing goofy party hats and blowing kazoos and cheering for her as if she were a hero coming home from a war. There is a giant hand-painted sign saying, "Welcome home" taped all the way across the back wall. Standing in front of that crowd with a tear-stained face and a trembling smile is the father whom she told she hated the last time she saw him.

She can't bring herself to look him in the face as she starts her little speech.

"Dad, I'm so sorry. It's my fault." He puts his hands on her face, and he raises her eyes up to him. He begins to laugh and cry so hard his whole body shakes. "I know," he says. What he used to say to her when she would cry when she was a tiny little baby, "I know, I know, I know. No need for another word. You'll miss the party. We have to have a party."


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