Well, my parents are flower people. My parents are awesome, but they're a little weird when it comes to flower. They are, like, obsessed with flowers. They spend half my inheritance every year on buying flowers for their porch. In fact, you can see that's one of their porches at the senior living center where they live. People actually stop by their porches. They like give tours of all their flowers in their apartment that they live in, when they not only do that for their apartment, they actually give tens of thousands of dollars to build botanical gardens with their names on it. So when they die eventually, god rest their souls. I don't want them to die, but when they do, i won't have any money, but I'll be able to walk through the gardens. That is their legacy. They love flowers, they know how to raise flowers, they know how to grow flowers. They are flower people. So, as their son, you would think that I would be a flower person myself. I tried to be, but eventually I just kind of revolted against it. I think it's like you know, as you grow older, you like distance yourself from things in your childhood, and so that's what I did with flowers. But this year I made a promise to God and to those in my life. This year will be different. I will be a flower person. My parents will finally be proud of me because I grew flowers, i sustained flowers, and so I went to Home Depot because I saw they have a big flower part over there a garden or whatever you call it And so I went into Home Depot and I picked out seven hanging baskets to hang around my house, and for the three days it was magnificent. I mean, those flowers look more beautiful than any flowers you had ever seen in your life. Now, about three weeks later, i have two left, and one of them is this one, which this flower was alive this morning but now, apparently, is dead. All other five that I had to get rid of looked a hundred times worse than this. There is only one still living, and that's, i think, because it's outside and it's been raining the last couple of days. But when it comes to flowers, i'm a disaster. My parents have officially disowned me as their son. It's not going well for me. I kill flowers. So what's the difference between me and my parents? Well, they understand. When it comes to flowers, it's not the surface that matters, it's not what's seen that matters, it's what's unseen, because the key to a flower is understanding that what is unseen, what happens in the soil, the nutrients it gets, the water it gets is going to determine the seen part of it, the flower part of it. Here's my point, and I actually do have one When it comes to life what is seen is determined by what is unseen. What is seen is determined by what is unseen. You've been in this series called unseen, where you've been grappling with some huge things in the spiritual realm. You've realized that this thing called life is so much bigger than what we originally said. That is so much bigger than the seen world, that there's this whole unseen world going on, where there's angels and demons. You even talked about Satan. You guys aren't messing around here. The whole point is that it's opened our eyes up to the reality that there's far more going on than maybe you originally thought in life. Some of you are new to churches. You think this series has been a little weird. Some of you love this stuff and that's a little weird, wherever you are at. We are glad you are here Today. We want to take a very practical turn. We want to talk about how the unseen affects the seen, the unseen part of this world. You know those demons, those angels, all that stuff we've been talking about actually affects your life here and now, whether good or bad. Because what is unseen will determine what you do in those relationships with people closest to you your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your wife, your husband, your kids, your co-workers. What is unseen will determine how you handle your boss when he or she fires off that email to you yet again with all caps. What is unseen will determine how you come through or don't come through those moments in life to flip you upside down. What is unseen determines what is seen. What is seen is always determined by what is unseen. The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament and if you haven't read much of the Bible you'll just something to note Paul is like a big deal. He wrote all these letters to these churches, just kind of like a father giving advice. In one of his letters, a letter called Galatians to the church in Galatia, at the end of it he kind of like zeroes in. He begins this part of it in Galatians 5, and he begins by saying so. I say in other words, listen up, this part's really important. If you've forgotten everything I've said before, just listen to this one part. He writes these words in Galatians 5, verse 16. I'm going to read several verses here. So I say let the Holy Spirit guide your lives, then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants. The spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other. So you are not free to carry out your good intentions, but when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the Law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, self-estabition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit. Let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let's not become conceited or provoke one another or be jealous of one another. You know, i think Paul is just begging with us. He's pleading with us. Guys, there's something so much bigger going on here. There's a whole unseen dimension where God's Spirit wants to give you the life you've always wanted, but you have to surrender to it. And so the question Paul asks us to consider is this When it comes to the unseen forces in this world, when it comes to all of this that he's talking about, are we going to ignore or surrender? Are we going to ignore or surrender? Because how you answer that question will determine everything. See, our problem is that we ignore the unseen. I do it, and I'm sure you do it as well. And when we ignore the unseen in this world, a couple of things happen. First of all, we confuse what is fake for what is real. We confuse real and fake all the time. See, paul begins and immediately says there's a war going on here, people. And so he begs us live by the Spirit, so you won't gratify the sinful nature. But the question is, why is that so bad Because sin is fun. Let's not be dishonest here. Sin is fun. But he goes on and says the sinful nature of verse 17 wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature would desires. These two forces, he says, are constantly fighting each other Satan, his demons and evil in general. Their job is to make you think that there's not a cosmic battle going on. But Paul is saying hang on, guys, there is a huge battle going on And it's a battle for your soul. And if you don't recognize it, you're going to be lured into the things that promise so much. They look real on the surface but underneath it, in the unseen part of it, brings destruction to your life. It's going to be so alluring you're going to go after it and you're going to grab it and you're going to be sucked in and these things are going to destroy you. And he says let me just list some of these things. He has this long list sexual immorality and purity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outburst of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties Obviously went to UW Madison. And then he goes on, and he adds this simple phrase and other things like these. In other words, if I didn't catch it in that list, it's on there, don't worry, i'm just getting started. You're saying there's things in life They come at us and they promise so much And on the scene they look in the scene, what realm. They look good, but what is unseen wants to grab you and destroy you. Let me ask you what is it for you? What is the thing that, on the surface, has promised so much but it's grabbed ahold of you And, if you're honest I mean really honest it's destroying you. Whenever I prepare for a message, i have a notebook that looks kind of like this This is actually this week's message, and if you can't read it, good, because I can't read it either, i mean, my handwriting is completely illegible. My friends and family have always said that it looks like Egyptian hieroglyphics, which I don't know whether they take that as a compliment or not. But if my kids were here and they saw just a picture of that, not even knowing that I was here, they'd say, oh yeah, that's dad's handwriting. That's what his handwriting looks like. And if they saw my signature, they would say, yeah, that's his signature. There's no doubt about it, that's his thing, you know. I think in the same way we have signature sins. Then if people in our lives saw something, they'd say, oh yeah, that's a mic over there. Oh yeah, that's what Jason struggles with. Oh yeah, that's what he gets tripped up with or she gets tripped up with. We all have these signature sins in our lives. So what's your signature sin? What's the thing that lures you in all the time and time and time again, but, yeah, it brings with it so much pain and destruction. Maybe for you, your signature sin is needing affirmation and approval at work, and so you work long hours. That promises the promotion, and on the surface you get that promotion, you get the title, you get the office, you get the money, and that's great. But with it comes this need to always be perfect, this fear that you cannot, under any circumstances, ever fail. Or maybe for you, that signature sin is numbing out on social media, scrolling through one TikTok video after another, after another, after another, and it promises laughter and release, and it does. Some of those TikTok videos are stinking funny, but it also creates with it a life where you become like a zombie and robs you of important hours in your life that you could be doing what you actually want to do. Maybe it's letting your anger fly and it brings this. In that moment, when you let your anger fly, it brings justification and power, and it's kind of like a twisted joy when you see that you demolished whoever it is that you went after, and there is just a sense of yes in that moment. But it also brings with it a much deeper pain of regret of who you're becoming, of broken relationships. Maybe it's something that won't let go. You don't call it this, but you know, at its core it's an addiction. The drinking that promises to numb your pain or just relax you a little bit has brought with it a terrible addiction that destroying your brain and your ability to think, and what was once a release and a relief is now a dependency. The porn sites that promise just a little hit. Maybe you are lonely, maybe you are sexually starved and you just deserve something, anything, and you need to escape into a fantasy world, and so you do once or twice, and that once or twice turns into once or twice a day And you get those hits, but with it you get what neurologist calls a brain fog And with it. You need more and more and more just to survive, and it destroys you. It destroys your ability to see God, it destroys your ability to see and relate to those you care about the most. And I've shared with some of you before that that's my story. I just needed those hits because I deserved it, and those hits turned into an addiction that destroyed my brain, destroyed my career, that destroyed my marriage, that destroyed my finances, destroyed my public reputation, destroyed my relationship with my kids. You see, what I saw on the surface is not that bad. The unseen part of it brought evil and Satanic and demonic forces that sought to destroy me. See, we all have these signature sins that lure in and destroy us. So what is yours? Paul says this. He says anyone living that sort of life, anyone ignoring what's really going on, anyone giving into what's fake, will not inherit the kingdom of God. And I don't think he's talking so much about heaven and hell. I think he's talking about the kingdom of God here on this earth, the life that God wants you to live, where you're in this new kingdom, this new way of life where he is king and he's in control. And you can't have it if you're grabbing hold of these fake things. Second thing that happens when we ignore the unseen is that we try to solve things that we don't have the power to solve. We try to solve things that we don't have the power to solve. You see, i think a lot of us actually know when things are off in our life. I think we know when we get tripped up by these signature sins and we we want them out of our lives. But the problem is that we try to solve it And we get into what John Orford calls sin management. In other words, we make a promise I'm going to beat this We make a list of what we're going to do differently this time And it works for a moment, but then it always comes back. It always does, and the reason is that we're just treating the surface of it. We're just treating the scene, part of it. We're not dealing with the unseen part of it. This week, after I was distraught about all the hanging flowers that I had killed, i went out to my front yard to see how my bushes were doing, and in the front yard there was this. It's not a flower, in case you were wondering. That is a massive weed, and I was distraught when I saw it, not because it's just a weed, but because last year, last summer, i had destroyed that weed. I had taken my powerful weed wacker and knocked that thing down And for a few months and over the winter because nothing grows in the winter it looked great. There was nothing there. But I went out there this week and I looked at that. I saw bigger thorns than last year, taller than last year. I said to myself this again, really, this thing again. Why I only dealt with what was seen. I only whacked it off the top. And the only way to get rid of this thing is to dig out its root, to get to what is unseen, the roots of it all. And I think the same thing happens with our signature sins. We try to whack it off the top, we try to take care of it, and maybe it works for a month, a year, maybe two years, but it always comes back Bigger and stronger than before. And when it comes back we say this again Seriously, god, this thing again. So you find yourself exploding at your kids and after that's done, you go to your room with your head between your hands, shaking your head, thinking this again, i did that again. You find yourself awake at night crippled by worry, just like before. This again, seriously, i'm dealing with this type of worry again. Why can't I just let it go? You do that signature sin and you think to yourself this again, god, seriously. And we weed, whack it again, white knuckle it again. And it comes back again and again and again. And every time it comes back it's stronger than before And we think to ourselves what's wrong with me? Why can't I deal with this thing? And we get caught in what I call the shame cycle. And the shame cycle works like this. We say, oh, i did this. Oh, i hate this, i'll beat this. Oh man, i did this again. Oh, i hate this. This time is going to be different, i'll beat it this time. Oh crap, i did this, hate this, i'll beat it. Oh, i didn't beat it. I'm going to go around and around in that cycle. The only conclusion that we can come to is I am this, i am this. I don't just worry, i am a worrier. I don't just lie, i am a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i'm a liar, i don't just worry, i am a worrier. I don't just lie, i am a liar, i don't just drink, i am a drunk. And our grandpa, the apostle Paul, comes in and says that's the point. It's too much for you. You're just a human. This thing you struggle with, beneath the surface of it is Satan. Beneath the surface of it are demons. Beneath the surface of it is a whole realm of evil you can't see. That's why you cannot beat this thing on your own. You are only human. Paul knew this in his life. In fact, he described his Signature, sin, as a thorn in his flesh, says this thing keeps coming back, this weed keeps growing stronger, the thorns keep getting bigger. And in Romans 7 he talks about it this way He says the trouble is with me, for I am all to too human, a slave to sin. I Don't really understand myself for what I want to do. I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, i do What I hate. And so many of us find ourselves there in that cycle Where we try to solve things we can't solve, and when we do that, we miss out on what we really want. We miss out on what we really want. Paul continues, and he says this in our passage in Galatians. He says the sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants, and the spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the spiritual, the sinful nature, desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other. Now Don't miss this. So you are not free and I love the way the NIV Translate this. You are not free to do what you want, and the reason you're not free is you're actually going against what God created you to be and to do. I Never forget when I realized that Addiction had gripped my life to a point where I couldn't even function And I was actually out of spiritual retreat with a bunch of business leaders and some pastors and nonprofit leaders, and The whole point of this retreat was to do life differently, to think differently than we had about leadership. And The lady who is leading the retreat she she said, okay, these retreats are a little different. It's not, you know, 10 hours straight of leadership and Bible lessons. It's gonna be silence. It's for the next five hours. I want you to go and I want you to ponder this one question. It's a question that Jesus asked of somebody in the Gospels and John, chapter 4. He's he said this what do You want? What do you want? And answer that, what do you really want? And I'll never forget that day. I I Had my notebook. I walked out into the kind of the nature area and where the retreat was and I Sat down and I wrote what do you want? And it took me no less than one minute to write it down. I knew what I wanted. I Wrote God, i want to feel you, i want to see you, i Want intimacy with you. I Wrote that down. I've been able to help others find it, but I couldn't find it myself. It was so clear to me that that's what I wanted more than anything else in life. And after about 30 minutes of sitting there contemplating that, i Heard the whisper of God, because the stuff, the unseen, comes into the scene and it's weird sometimes, but it happens. I Heard God whispered to me and we have to deal with that, like seriously. We have to deal with that, with that addiction, because that is Opposite of me, that Paul says is going the opposite direction And until we deal with that, you can't have this. Let me ask you what do you want? I mean, what do you really want? I don't think you want sex. I think you really want intimacy. I think you really want to feel loved and connected with. And what do you really want? I don't think you want success. I think you want to know that you have purpose in life, that who you are and what you do matters. What do you really want? because what you want is always aligned with your creator, because your creator designed you, god designed you, and he designed you, designed you with these wants. But you can't have what you want if you're going against this in this fake world. And so the only solution then, paul says, is to surrender to the unseen. Surrender to it because when you do, you'll find freedom You never thought you could find. You'll find freedom You never thought you could find. See, the key to freedom from signature sins is not saying I've got this. It's saying it's got me The freedom first from signature sins. Is not saying I can beat this. It's admitting it's beating me. It's saying, okay, god, i am merely human, i can't do this. I'm trying to fight forces that I am not designed to fight. I'm trying to fight an unseen world, but I'm in the seen world. These things are way bigger than me. And so it's just admitting three things, three simple things, and if you forget everything else I say today, remember these three things saying to God It's too big, i'm too small, i Need help. God, it's too big. This obsessive need for approval is too big. My spending habit is too big. My shunning people because I'm afraid to get close to people is way too big. My constant anger is too big. My addiction is too big. My need to be perfect is too big. My worry is too big. It's too big And I'm too small. I've tried and I've tried and I've tried, and I just can't, can't do it, i'm too small. So, god, i need help. I need help, help, rescue me, because I cannot help myself. It's too big, i'm too small, i need help. If you're around me For any stretch of time, you'll eventually hear me say this that one my favorite authors, and Lamont, says that the two most important Worship prayers in life are these two prayers help, help, help and Thank you, thank you, thank you. Alcoholics. Anonymous started based on Christian principles, like it's rooted in scripture, and it's helped hundreds of millions find freedom from alcoholism. And so how has it done that an Alcoholic walks through the door of an AA meeting. How do they help them find freedom? Did they say okay, the first thing you need to do is try harder, toughen up, mean it this time, just stop, put the bottle down. Is that how they do it? no, no, they say. The way to stop drinking is to say in the mid I can't stop drinking. I can't. It's too big, i'm too small, i need so much help. And they've created these things called the 12 steps. Now I want to read the first three steps. And it's not just related to alcohol. These have been applied to pretty much any area of life. And step one says this we admitted we were powerless over alcohol, but you could fill in whatever you want there. I admitted I was powerless over anger. I admitted I was powerless over needing to be affirmed. I admitted I was powerless over gossip. I admitted I was powerless over over spending. I admitted I was powerless over sex. I admitted I was powerless over whatever your signature sin is. But our lives have become unmanageable. In other words, it's too big. Step two came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. I can't restore myself, god, i'm too small. Step three made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. I need help. It's too big, i'm too small, i need help. And Paul knew this. That's why he says at the very beginning of the passage so I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives, or other translations live by the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, then you won't be doing what the sinful nature craves. Don't try to guide your own life. He's saying There's a cosmic battle You're going to lose if you do that. No surrender to the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit has a force behind it. The Holy Spirit, scripture says, is like a wind force, it's like a hurricane, it's greater than any other force. At the end of the passage he says this those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of the sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our life. It's not your power, it's the power of the Spirit, it's the power of Jesus. What He did for you when He died for you, because He took your signature sin with Him to the cross and He looked at your signature sin and He looked at Himself and He said I'm so big and that's so small compared to me. Let me help them. Jesus is so big compared to Him. Your stuff is so small. He wants to help. I know this. I've experienced it The way I've found freedom and recovery from not only addiction but other signature sins in my life because, by the way, bad news we have more than one is. By. Every single day I call up a couple of friends of mine who are in recovery with me in different ways. I tell them the things that are alluring to me. Sometimes it's about past addictions, but sometimes it's other stuff. Yesterday I called a guy and I said this resentment towards a person in my life is so strong right now I want to demolish them, i want to get even. I want to get just because I deserve it. It's so big, it's just captivating every thought I have. It's destroying my time with my wife and my kids. It's destroying everything right now. It's so big and I'm so small. Will you help me? In that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke through Him Just put me at peace. Where do you need to take that step of surrender? Where do you need to say, god, it's too big. I'm too small. I need help. Just talk to us, talk to Stephen, talk to one of the leaders here. That's just what we're here to be for you to be those people who are here to help you. Paul goes on in the passage and he says when you're living by the Spirit, it's not just that you have going on for you. He wants you to know that when you surrender to this unseen spiritual force, the Holy Spirit, not only does He take you away from the things that are destroying you, he brings you to a life that you never thought you could have. You begin to see fruit you never thought you could see. He says this, but the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. You start to see these flowers bloom. You start to see these things you never thought you could see. You start to see love, not loving people that love you back. That's easy. Everybody does that. But how do you love somebody that, when I mention their names to you, like the temperature in your body rises, like the person that you want to destroy, the person who has hurt you, who has betrayed you, who has left you, who has said those things about you. How do you love them? You surrender again, like God, give me the love that only you have, and you get this love that Jesus had on the cross when He said Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing. And you can say the same to that person. God, i may sell out that brown boundaries. God, i don't have to be perfect friends with this person, but I'm going to love them. I'm going to see them for who they are, that they are human, a weird mixture of good and evil. I'm going to love them as you love me, and that love comes. How do you find joy and peace when life has flipped upside down? How do you find joy and peace when the doctor says it's cancer? How do you find joy and peace when your finances still are going down instead of up? How do you find joy and peace when she leaves? How do you find joy and peace? then? You just muster it up on your own. No, remember, this is the fruit of the spirit. It's not your fruit, it's the fruit of the spirit. The spirit brings you this peace. Paul says that passes all understanding. Then, when everything else is falling apart, you realize that you still have God there in your life and it's enough for today. This past week I felt like life was just dealing me some unfair blows. I went to my favorite place in my house, and it's my sun porch, with my dead flowers. I sat there and as I was sitting there I just thought God, i don't know what to do. A gentle breeze went through the porch and just came across me. There's a reminder that the spirit that is like a breeze, it's like a wind And again, in a mysterious way because this stuff is a bit mysterious I said, jason, i'm enough And I don't know how to explain it, but just a piece came over me, a piece that passes understanding came over me. Paul says you'll have patience as well. How do you have patience when you've been waiting so long for that job? How do you have patience when you've been waiting so long for a spouse? How do you have patience when you've been waiting so long for this terrible season to end? How do you have patience when waiting is so hard? Can you just muster up that patience on your own? No, of course not. But Isaiah says that if we wait on the Lord, he gives you, he renews your strengths. He makes you not only walk and makes you not only run. He lets you soar like an eagle. In other words, when you say, god, i can't wait any longer, he says, yeah, you can, because I'm strong enough for you. Let's get through today. And in that moment you realize that what God does in you while you wait is as important as what you wait for. How can you have kindness when this world is so unkind? How can you have goodness when there seems to be so much bad and evil coming at you? How can you have faithfulness when people in your life aren't faithful now? How can you be gentle when all you want to do is lash out? How can you have self-control when life is flipping upside down and all you want to do is medicate, all you want to do is numb out, all you want to do is just have a couple hours, just one moment, where you can feel nothing. How can you have all those things, this fruit of the Spirit? Can you just muster that up on your own? No, no way. But if you surrender and say, god, i need your Spirit, i need your fruit, i can't fully explain it, but it comes, you find kindness, you develop goodness, you stay faithful and you develop a self-control that you never thought you could have, and you realize something you never knew before That what is unseen is now being seen in your life, and it is beautiful. But you have to surrender, and so will you.