SEEK 2018 – Friday Evening – John Stumbo – Rejoice and Celebrate – Deltona

July 17, 2018


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“You have been given freedom in Christ—freedom to chase after His goodness, freedom to walk in His Spirit.”


The following is a raw, unedited transcript provided by a digital transcription service and may contain grammatical or spelling errors.


John Stumbo: Mr. and Mrs. Cymbal, don’t you want revival in your life? My wife and I were seminary students in South Carolina, and we are both Alliance pastors’ kids, and so we’d always gone to an Alliance church. I was a youth pastor in an Alliance church, went to and Alliance college, but for that little window called seminary we decided to see what the rest of God’s family was up to, so we went to Columbia International University school in South Carolina. They had a rule there that you had to choose a church home within six or eight weeks. I forget what it was. Well, for me that was like the first six weeks in my life I ever had the chance to church hop. Some of you have made a profession out of it but I had never had … Oh, sorry, sorry, but I had never had that opportunity before. So, it was like, “Cool.” I got in the phone book. This was pre Google days and I got in the phone book and started to figure out how many churches could you go on a single weekend and over six weeks how many churches could I hit?

I was dragging my wife all over the place from a Quaker church where we sat in a circle in silence for 20 minutes until somebody finally had a Word and spoke, and then we sat in silence again. It kind of freaked my wife out. Then, we went to a charismatic Southern Baptist church. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but we learned some things that I had never learned in the Alliance. In fact, we never learned in the Alliance. But, anyway, we were just happily exploring the big famliiy of God, and we found a denomination that I had never heard of before, and so I said to my wife, “Well, we’re going here this Sunday.”

Didn’t realize … We got there in time for Sunday School and so the pastor was one of those guys … I pray that you’ve got none of these pastors in Florida, but every once in a while a pastor has this idea that he’s been hired to speak, not to listen, and that was this guy. When we introduced ourselves, we are John and Joanna Stumbo from the seminary, he got the seminary part but he didn’t get the name part right. He thought I said cymbal like loud clanging cymbal and so he called us Brother and Mrs. Cymbal for the rest of the morning and never stopped talking long enough for me to correct him. After a while it’s like, “Well, we’ll just clang with it,” or whatever. So, we went through Sunday school. “Brother and Mrs. Cymbal are with us from the seminary today,” and that was fine. We got to the church service and now he’s up front and he introduces us to the whole congregation. Now, it’s a smaller congregation, maybe 40, 50 people, but when we’re sitting safely in the back so that my wife has an exit plan if necessary …

You pray for people like my wife who are married to people like me, right. So, we’re sitting there in the back and he announces to the church, “Brother and Mrs. Cymbal are with us from the seminary today. They’re going to be directing our youth ministry here at the church.” Wow, didn’t know that but suddenly we were on staff, so here we go. So, Joanna is giving me one of those, “Maybe we should get out of here now kind of nudges,” and I’m saying, “No, no. I’m going to see where this thing goes.”

It was revival Sunday at that particular church. Now, I didn’t know you can schedule those things, but evidently you can. We were having revival Sunday in the church and they brought in a guest speaker and he gave a fair message, it was good, and then they invited everybody to come to the front that wanted revival in their lives. Almost everybody in the church went forward. There was John and Joanna Cymbal in the back, and there were two ladies sitting right over here. It appeared to me that they had been seated right over there before the church was even built. The church had just kind of been built right around them, because that’s their pew, and so we’ll just build the church right there. So, they weren’t gonna be moved. The pastor knew that. He looked right past them. He didn’t worry about them. They hadn’t moved since Moses had been in town. But, he looked back at us and he said, “Brother and Mrs. Cymbal, don’t you want revival in your life?”

Well, yeah we want revival. “Well, come on down.” So, I take my wife’s hand and we kind of make our grudging walk down to the front of the church, and she’s giving me the “We should have gotten out of here. We should have gotten out of here.” Then, he invites me to pray for revival in the church, and so I prayed for revival in the church like I was told to do. Then he said, “Now, somebody invite Brother and Mrs. Cymbal over to the house for hot dogs and hamburgers after the service.” At that moment my wife grabbed me and no longer did the elbow but now did the take me down the aisle faster than we went on our wedding day kind of march, and we never went back to that church. I feel so badly for that pastor because I’m certain that sometime 10 days later when we didn’t show up the next Sunday he’s calling the seminary and saying, “Can I have my youth director, Brother Cymbal,” and they’re looking through the directory. How do you spell that? Cymbal, cymbal. He’s name’s cymbal. “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have anybody here by that name.”

Now, friends, as fascinating as that moment was I’ve asked myself that question a thousand times since then. “Brother Cymbal, (I don’t call myself that) don’t you want revival in your life?” I’ve come up with a very odd answer. Before I tell you my answer I want to give you some biblical background for my answer. Verses like 2 Peter, chapter 1 say that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He’s given us great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” I wouldn’t dare say those words if they weren’t in the Bible. “Participating in the divine nature.” No, no, no. We don’t become little gods, but to be a participant in all that God is. What an invitation. What a statement.

Some of you heard my health crisis a decade ago. I was a happy 47 year old running [inaudible 00:07:02] marathons and pastoring an Alliance church in Oregon when in just a week’s time I couldn’t drive a car and soon would be hospitalized and lose 50 pounds of muscle mass in a few week’s time and would be in the care of my wife after 77 days of hospitalization on a feeding tube because I had zero ability to swallow. My esophagus looked like a belly button. I had no muscle movement in my esophagus, and all my muscles had just atrophied down to almost nothing. So, I was in a wheelchair and on a feeding tube, and my wife became my nurse. She said, “Well, I’d rather be a nurse than a widow, so I guess I’ll take care of you.” No, she was exceedingly gracious during that time and kept our marriage vows. Oh wow, we had no idea what we were saying when were young kids standing on a Christmas Alliance platform saying, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health.” What did we know. We knew nothing but she kept those vows, and I celebrate that.

Anyway, after a year and a half of all that there was this miraculous healing, and you can read all about that in the book, and all the money goes to the Great Commission Fund so I don’t mind selling the book, because you’re supporting missions as you do. But, after that, got enough strength and began to minister again and then that crazy moment here in Florida, over in Tampa when the Alliance family elected me to be their president. I guess they figured, “Well, we prayed him back to life. We might as well give him a job.” So, it was the day of, or the day before, the election, and there was a prayer and fasting moment at Council in a side room, and I had decided just to slide into the back. I put my face on the floor. I don’t often do this, but just flat on the floor. I was talking to God. I knew that He was calling me to this role. I just sensed it. I couldn’t say that to anybody but my wife, but I just knew that the mantle had fallen upon me for this role.

I thought, I thought if God healed me once of my swallow maybe He’d heal me the rest of the way, because I still struggle with some of the attack upon my muscular system. Maybe He’ll give me like a second, forgive me, zap, a second dose, a second touch, and I won’t have to deal with this physical stuff anymore. So, I’m laying there with my nose in the carpet talking to God about that. “I know you called me to be President. Do you want to heal me? Do you want to heal me?” What I heard His whisper to my soul say was this. “No, but I’m gonna give you something instead. I’m gonna give you everything you need for every day.” He gave me rather than a healing a promise, a Word. “I’m gonna give you everything you need for every day.”

Alliance family you have no idea how many days since that time five years ago when I have gotten up in the morning and saying, “How is this day ever gonna work?” By the time I hit my head on the pillow at night I say, “God, you did it again. You gave me everything I needed today.” I’m on day 29 of a trip, how is that for bad planning. But whenever they decided to go to Colorado Springs on National [inaudible 00:10:20] they decided that we’d never have a direct flight anywhere, so, I combine my trips but I don’t usually combine it for an entire 30 days. But, it was started in Korea and then to Russia and Greece, and maybe we’ll talk about that some other time. I’m literally right now on day 29 of this trip. Joanna’s been with me half the time. A grand baby trumped half the trip, so that was fair. We had a third grandson born in Phoenix, but she’s joined me these last two weeks. Anyway, I’m just testifying to the truthfulness of His Word to me, the grace of Him to me that He said, “I’m gonna give you everything you need for every day.”

That was a personal promise that I received on that carpet of Council. I’ve lived to experience it, but I share it with you at this moment, because doesn’t it sound a lot like 2 Peter, chapter 1 that He has said to all of us, that He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness? That you lack nothing. New Testament follower of Jesus post Pentecost, you lack nothing, that everything is available to those of us who are followers of Christ to live a full life, a godly life, a complete life.

I had to start with the Lord’s Prayer, and I love doing that as a congregation. I believe there’s something worshipful and meaningful and a foundation of our faith. But, just recently one line in that has taken a turn for me, and I’m understanding it as possibly meaning more than I’ve always understood. For me, the throw away line, horrible to say isn’t it, but the throw away line of that has been, “Give us this day our daily bread,” because frankly I don’t know very many people in the United States of America that really need daily bread. We got enough food in our pantry, and our refrigerator, and our freezer, and our cupboard to make it for quite a while. I don’t want to belittle His provision. He’s Jehovah Jireh. It’s a beautiful thing, and there are people in this world who literally must pray for bread for this day, because they don’t know how they’re gonna feed their family today. If that’s your situation then you keep praying for daily food to eat and let the body of Christ help you, as well. But, I began to wonder whether that phrase might mean more. I get this from Jo-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:13:04]

John Stumbo: That phrase might mean more. I get this from John chapter four, where Jesus says … He’s just had a conversation with the woman at the well that’s gone fascinating, really well. She’s run back to town to tell everybody about him. The disciples have come back because they’ve gone to town to buy food. They’re trying to get Jesus to eat. He’s not interested in eating. He says to them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.” It’s possible to walk with Jesus and still be missing something significant about who he is and what he can do in our lives.

I have food to eat you disciples know nothing about. They had not yet progressed in their spiritual journey of understanding to know that there was a provision for them beyond. Then he says, “My food”, do you remember this, “is to do the will of him who sent me.” It nourished him. It sustained him. He found strength. He found something substantive by entering into the will of the Father and the ways of the Father. He even says “I only do what I see the Father doing. I only say what I hear the Father saying. My messages to you have been messages that … I’m saying what the Father wants me to say and how he wants me to say it”, John 12 in some translations.

The message and the manner of the message. Jesus was walking in such a way with the Father and Holy Spirit that there was this ongoing sustenance to his soul that was real, that gave him power for ministry, gave him the content for his message, that strengthened him from his inner being. He had a strength they knew nothing about.

Now, it’s fascinating to me that why was he at that well in the first place? He was tired. Remember that part of the text, that Jesus was tired, sitting at the well? While the disciples go and get into town he has a conversation. Even though physically tired, he says to the disciples, “I have a sustenance of food you know nothing about.”

Is it possible that as he’s teaching the disciples to pray the daily bread prayer that he’s certainly talking about food to eat, because he knows that we need physical nourishment, but is it possible that he’s also giving an allusion to you need bread for your soul that the Spirit wants to give you? Well, I received that once. I gave my heart to Christ or I was filled with the Holy Spirit. Well, good, good, good, good, good, but this is called daily bread, not a meal I had years ago. Is it possible that once again our Christ is saying to us I’ve got a provision for you on a very regular basis, and you keep coming back to me. Please, this is an invitation for you to keep coming back to me to receive this daily provision of my nourishment for your soul.

Give us this day, Lord, our daily bread. Thank you for my full pantry and refrigerator and freezer. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t want to take that for granted. Wow, I can’t, I can’t live the Christian life without you. I can’t do this. In the very same way that I would physically starve if I didn’t have physical food to eat, I spiritually starve if I don’t keep coming back to you for my nourishment. Lord, I want this daily provision.

Now, I hope you don’t think I’m being overly negative, but maybe I need to establish the need at this particular point. Stay with me here. Have you seen in your own life or witnessed in the life of the church that we have a fair amount of weary, weary, tired Christianity? Trying hard to do good, trying hard to be spiritual and trying hard to do it right, but we got a lot of tired Christians out there. We got weary Christianity.

Sadly, sad to say I believe we’ve got a lot of veneer Christianity in the American Church. You know what I’m talking about right? A thin layer of polished religion over the top of an unchanged soul, a bunch of rotting particle board underneath. Weary Christianity trying hard to follow Jesus, but just I’m left on the sideline panting for air. Veneer Christianity looks shiny. We can polish on the shine, but underneath there’s rotting particle board and an unchanged soul. As a result, do we not therefore have a lot of carnal Christianity? Ugly things arise within us or within the church, addictions to pornography, and trying to take something out of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be taken, and trying to use a substance in a way it wasn’t meant to be used, and trying to advance our name in the lights so that everybody knows that was my idea and all this carnality of the church.

I see them all kind of interrelated. You know, we try to polish the outside that nobody knows how carnal I am on the inside, but I’m really working hard, I’m trying hard to not be that way, and so therefore I’m tired. See how it’s kind of an ugly little spin cycle that we get into?

What if it’s possible to push stop on the spin cycle and take a step back and say “Does Jesus have a different way? Is there a daily provision?” Is there a different way to come at the Christian life? I’ve got to confess, I get kind of discouraged in the American churches. I read some of them leading magazine kind of articles or some books that are hot. They’re trying to tell you how to live a better Christian life, but what it’s actually given me is a whole lot of things that I do to improve myself. The New Testament is more than a self improvement program. Okay?

Alliance pastor, one of the worst sermon series you could give us is we’re going to do a nine part series on the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We got the joy, and the love, and the patience, and the peace. This week we’re on patience. I’m going to give you six strategies for how to be a more patient person. Then on the week of peace, here’s four ways for you to experience more peace in your life. Make sure you start the day listening to some calm music. I’m not saying there’s … Let me back up. There’s certainly some things that we can do to participate with the Holy Spirit, but if all those things worked that I could produce that in my life, then whose fruit is it? Look what I did, I’m a more patient person.

No. It’s Galatians five, the fruit of the Spirit. It’s what he bears in our lives. I want Jesus’ character because I like his character better than mine. Amen? I don’t want to have to just have a cleaned up version of the old nature John Stumble. I don’t want to just have a cleaned up version of John Stumble’s old nature. I want to live the new creation. I want to be the new man that he has given me to be.

Jesus himself doesn’t want to touch your old nature. He’s not trying to clean up your old nature. That’s not his interest. His interest is that old nature dying, and you choosing to live the new life. Now, read your Bible carefully. Ephesians chapter four says that that old nature is still in you and is actually getting worse. Ephesians four, your old nature, in the Greek, continuous present tense, is your old man, your old nature, is being corrupted. Is being corrupted.

Can I just release somebody in the room tonight from the burden of trying to make your old self better? You’re always going to be a lustful, nasty, rotten person in that section of your old heart and it never has to win again in your life. It never has to get its way again. It can be said no to with one act of your will and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, who has a new nature for you. The Spirit of God within you wants to live his life through you, bear his fruit through you, give you the daily bread of his provision of his Spirit, to give you everything you need for life and godliness. All of that is available to us in Christ, while the old nature is sitting over there whining about it.

Well, in the name of Jesus I don’t live that way anymore. I choose this. I rebuke you, old nature. You got to be careful on this. Think clearly because Satan is going to bring this up. “Well, you never should’ve had the thought in the first place. Sure you obeyed God, sure you said no to that, but you shouldn’t have had the thought in the first place. I thought you were a good Christian. How could a good Christian have ever had a thought like that?” I’m still containing in my being the old nature that doesn’t totally get taken care of until I stand before Christ and all eternity in heaven. In the meantime, it never has to win any battle.

You have been given freedom in Christ, freedom to chase after his goodness, freedom to walk in his Spirit. Is this making any sense? I think there’s a different way than try harder, veneer, carnal Christianity. I think there’s a different way, and it’s simply acknowledging “Yes, I have an old nature. It will never get any better, and that’s okay because Christ is my victor, Christ is my king. I’ve yielded my heart to him. Sorry old nature, you don’t get your way. Jesus gets his way. He’s the king on my throne. He’s the one that I want to serve.”

Sometimes you might have to have that internal conversation 20 times a day, especially if you’re driving on I-4. Just a little personal testimony from this morning driving from Orlando over to Daytona Beach with how many rear enders can there be on one interstate in one morning. Well, praise the Lord it wasn’t us and so we made it.

Can you be released from the burden of trying to clean up your old nature and make yourself better? Can you be released from the need to polish some veneer of spirituality over an unchanged soul? Can you instead start to come to the Spirit who says, or Christ who says about the Spirit, “Out of you will flow springs of living water”? By this he meant his Spirit, John chapter seven, maybe eight. Somewhere.

Out of you will flow springs of living water, by this he meant his Spirit. Brother Symbol, don’t you want revival in your life? My answer has become …

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:26:04]

John Stumbo: My answer has become, no. Now stay with me. If God chooses to do a sweeping revival throughout his church in America, wonderful, I want to be part of it. I don’t want to miss it. If he chooses to work in some sensational way and do an ingathering of a harvest and some sort of reshaping of what the church looks like at this moment in time, I want to be part of it. I don’t any way want to block that, miss that work of the Spirit of God.

But that wasn’t the question that the pastor asked. He didn’t ask, “Brother Simbol don’t you want revival in America?” He didn’t ask that. He asked, “Brother Simbol don’t you want revival in your life?” And my answer has become, no. I don’t want a need to be revived. I just want to be vived. Because I think that’s what the promise of the scripture is, right? Isn’t that what it’s saying?

Well my brothers and sisters you know, as I write this letter to you, I Peter, I Paul say I know that you’re going to have long seasons where you fall into carnality and make a mess of your spiritually journey. But that’s just the way it is. But every once in awhile there’ll be a window of the Spirit that’ll blow through your town and you’ll get it al right again.

No that’s not a New Testament verse. I’m reading you the New Testament verse. You’ve been given everything you need for life and godliness. Therefore, if any one is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.

So I think there’s a better way is my message tonight. I think there’s a better way for us as the body of Christ to walk with our Lord, to walk with our King. Our worship team’s gonna come back as I start to bring this to a close. And I think the one reason you’re here is either you already know that and there is a better way and want to walk in it more fully. Or you’ve had this thought there’s gotta be a better way but I don’t know what it is. No one moment or one sermon is gonna fully explain all of that to any of us. But, any one sermon or one moment can point us on a trajectory that heads us in a direction of a more complete experience with the Spirit in our lives.

I am not a very patient person. My wife could give testimony to that at this moment, but I’m not giving her the microphone. It was great relief to find out one day that I didn’t need to keep trying to be a patient person. Instead, to use that impatience in my own nature as a launch point to, “look Jesus I need you again.” See, I need you again. This is evidence that I’m still a man in need of a savior, DC Talk. I need you. You will never outgrow your need for Jesus. You will never outgrown your need for daily dependence on the Holy Spirit. You’ll never outgrow that. You never want to outgrow that. It’s always a coming a back to him, and coming back to him. A welcoming his work in our lives.

Worship team I don’t know what song you’ve got. But why don’t you start it out.

Speaker 1: Let’s just let God do some work on us right now. We’re gonna sing this song, Jesus Only. And you can stay seated just kind of receive it and look at who Jesus is in all of his fullness and take it in. Because it’s this Jesus and the fullness of everything he does that can change us. So we’re just going to invite you to stay seated. But if you get to the point that you just have to stand, we’re cool with that, too. All right? So let’s let God do some work on us right now.

John Stumbo: Would you go back to that very first slide, that first verse? All the righteousness he gives us. It’s his righteousness in us. All our strength from day to day. Some of you have been working too hard. Yes we do participate with him, yes we do join him in what he does. We say yes in our Spirit, we walk in that path, we lean in. We say no to the old, we reject the old. And we , I would hope, stay very close to the word of God, the scripture he has revealed to us so we make sure we’re actually hearing from him. But there is this walk available to us. Jesus is the source, he’s the originator. If he spoke this world into creation, why are we trying to live each day on our own?

Let’s sing this one more time as our closing prayer. So would you stand and declare this whole song as your testimony tonight. Either a testimony of what you’re already living, or a testimony of what you would love to begin to live, as Jesus as your source.

Speaker 1: Jesus Only. Sing it again.

John Stumbo: This sanctuary is set apart for God alone. And so you don’t need to rush out of here tonight. Feel free throughout these hours together to just use this as a place to linger before the Lord. The altar’s available to you throughout this time, even during the service, if you just feel like I want to just come and kneel at the altar and pray. So let’s make this a place of response.

But others of you have traveled a log way and your day has kind of hit its limit. I respect that as well. I’m going to give a benediction and you’re free to linger or leave without guilt either way. I’ll ask the music to keep playing for a little while if you guys would. Thanks for the way you fully engaged in this first opening evening of our Sea Conference. This is the kind of thing we dreamt up and prayed for when Church invited us to come down. So thank you for the way you engaged.

Now benediction is a good word, it’s not prayer. I’m not praying for you right now, I’m saying something from the scripture to you. So you don’t have to bow your head and pray, you have to lift your head and receive it, okay?

“He who began a good work in you is gonna carry it on to completion until the day that Christ returns. So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will sustain you, I will uphold you with my right hand upon you. Therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord. But he who began a good work in you is going to carry on that good work until its complete.” Go in that faith. Go in that confidence. God bless you.

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:38:22]


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