Jenga – A Life Well Built

  • Jenga – A Life Well Built
  • Luke 6: 46-49
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • November 5, 2017
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11-5-17 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Jenga is a tower building game. The tower consists of fifty-four wooden rectangular bricks, in layers of three, placed at right angles to each other. Each player, in turn, removes one brick from anywhere below the highest complete story and places it on the top of the tower, at right angles to the blocks immediately below it. A complete three-block story must be finished before starting another. Only one hand may be used at a time. The last player to stack a block without making the tower tumble over wins.

 

Jenga reminds me of a song that I used to like to sing with my Mom when I was a little boy – “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.” Maybe you know it? It went something like this…

 

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

And the rain came tumbling down.

 

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

And the wise man’s house stood firm.

 

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

And the rain came tumbling down.

 

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

And the foolish man’s house went CRASH!

 

As a little kid, I enjoyed singing that song with my Mom. The little boy in me especially enjoyed the “CRASH!” part of the song. But did you know that more than being a children’s song, these are the words of Scripture, the very word of God?

 

More than being a cute little song for children to sing, the words have incredible practical implication for each of our lives. I would like for us to spend a few moments considering what it means to have a well-built life.

March 1, 1997, is a day that I will never forget. It started out like an ordinary day but ended up different than I could have ever imagined.

 

The weather was odd.  One minute it was hot and muggy; the next it was cool and breezy. Then the sky turned the strangest color of green – a color that the sky should never be.

 

And in a matter of minutes, my whole world changed. A tornado had come right through the middle of downtown Arkadelphia, devastating the city.

 

The sight was awesome to behold.  I would later find out that the tornado was classified an F4.  Tornadoes are rated on a scale of 1-5.  Only 1% of all tornado activity is rated “4” or above.  And one had come through the town where I was living.

 

Life in Arkadelphia would never again be the same. Fifty-six out of fifty-seven houses in a local trailer park had been completely destroyed. Over one-hundred people were severely injured. Tragically, six people were killed.

 

Windows were shattered and buildings demolished. It took the National Guard and local law enforcement hours to dig people out from under the piles of rubble.

 

The stores we had once shopped in were no longer there. The garage where we had our cars serviced was now a pile of bricks. The place where I used to buy Joni flowers when we were first married was gone. Many of our college students had lost their homes and all of their earthly possessions.

 

It was truly an overwhelming sight to behold. As I stood there in disbelief surveying the damage a thought entered my mind. I wondered why it was that some buildings were standing while others had been completely wiped out.

 

It was the strangest thing. On one lot all that would be left was a pile of bricks and mortar. On the adjoining lot, there would be a building that was almost completely untouched.

 

It seems that some structures had been built in such a way to last while others had not.

 

Jesus told a story about a disaster like this one time. He was speaking to a group of people when he said to them,

 

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?

And then the carpenter in him began to come out as he told them,

47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 

Reality is that each of us is building a life. If faced with a choice between building your life to last and building it to collapse, which would you do? It’s not a hard decision to make. It’s a no-brainer. Of course, you want to build your life to last.

 

We are all searching for that which is lasting, that which is true and that which is eternal in life. In the story of the wise and foolish builders, Jesus tells us exactly how to find it – He says it is by hearing his word and putting it into practice.

 

Application is the key.  Jesus is telling us that we have to let God’s word take root in our hearts by placing it in action. The point of the story is quite simple – Hearing God’s word and acting on it equals a sure foundation.  Hearing God’s word and ignoring it invites disaster. Why then would a person choose so unwisely?

 

It would be easy for us to contemplate this question and produce tales of misguided youth and stories of stupid decisions that people made during their youth. However, I would want to caution us about stopping there.

 

The longer I live, the more I learn about how people of all ages are short-sighted, opting for immediate gratification over eternal worth.

 

It is easier to go our own way than to submit to Christ. Life is full of storms. Not even people who pride themselves on having good West Texas values can make themselves immune to life’s storms.

 

  • An assignment is tougher than you feel you can really handle.
  • Your workload seems overwhelming.
  • Someone you love dies.
  • Your spouse is depressed.
  • Finances are tighter than you had anticipated.
  • Your child is sick.
  • You wonder if it really was a good idea to come here.
  • You fill in the blank.

_______________________________________

 

These storms aren’t tornadoes or floods, but they can be just as devastating, just as deadly. In those moments what you have built your house upon matters.

 

A few years ago, some friends of mine gave me a book entitled Front Porch Tales by author Phillip Gulley.  It’s a great book.  You would probably enjoy reading it sometime.

 

In the book, Gulley recalls his experiences of growing up and the people that he knew and encountered.  In one of his stories, he introduces his readers to a neighbor of his named Dr. Gibbs.

 

Gulley says that when Dr. Gibbs wasn’t busy saving lives, he was planting trees.  His house sat on ten acres and his life‘s goal seemed to be to grow a forest.

 

Dr. Gibbs came from the “No pain, no gain” school of horticulture.  He never watered his new trees which flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

 

Once Gulley asked the doctor why.  Dr. Gibbs said that watering plants spoiled them and that if you watered them, each successive tree generation would grow weaker and weaker.

 

He talked about how watering trees made for shallow roots, and how trees that weren’t watered had to grow deep roots in search of moisture.

 

So he never watered his trees.  Instead, he beat them with rolled up newspapers, believing that adversity would do for the trees what nothing else could do.

 

Gulley says that now that he is grown every once-in-a-while he will go back down the street and look at the trees Dr. Gibbs planted.  There the trees stand, granite strong.

 

Gulley continues these are the kind of trees that wake up in the morning, beat their chests and drink their coffee black, not so with the trees Gulley’s family planted across the street.

 

Every night before going to bed, Gulley makes it his ritual to go check on his two sons.  He said that he used to pray that their lives would be easy, that they would be free of pain.

 

But he has since changed that prayer, now he prays that they will grow deep roots – roots deep into the strength and resources of the eternal God.

 

Too many times we pray for ease, but that is a prayer seldom met.  What we need to do is pray for roots deep into the eternal, so that when the rains fall and the winds blow, we won’t be swept under.

 

Today each one of us is building a life.  We pray that God will help us to build it upon the rock of his word applied to our daily living so that when the rains fall and the cold winds blow, we will be able to stand.

 

 

This morning I would like for you to hear from one of our own here at LakeRidge, Renee Roberts.  To be certainb Renee’s story is one of weathering storms that none of us would wish to experience, but it is also a story of a life well built. Let’s take a look.

 

Renee’s story is one of a life built on a firm foundation. You heard about how the storms of her father’s death and her son’s death impacted her life. You also heard her testify as to how God’s word came back to her helping her to be able to stand when others would have been completely wiped out.

 

Church, it isn’t a matter of if life’s storms will blow. It is a matter of when.

 

If I remember correctly the song finished like this…

So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.

So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.

So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ…

 

So that your life will stand firm.