The Towel That Brings Hope to the Broken by Rick Burdette

Luke 4:14-4:30

THE YEAR OF THE TOWEL – The Towel That Brings Hope to the Broken
Luke 4:14-30 (pg. 718) January 17, 2016


The other day I was watching a TV show called, “The World’s Most Dangerous Jobs.” Here’s a little of what I saw:

SHOW VIDEO CLIP OF “The World’s Most Dangerous Jobs”

The Alaskan Monarch was trapped in an ice field. The captain and first mate are swept overboard…They are getting beaten and crushed in the ice flow and freezing to death. I found myself moving toward the TV and screaming “get them out of there!”

The coast guard helicopter did an amazing job….sending down a basket and rescuing the 1st mate and the captain.

Later in an interview from his hospital bed the captain said, “We broke our rudder…and with no rudder we had no control of the ship.”

“We couldn’t control where the ship went so we were driven into the ice pack and it broke us apart.”

A ship without a rudder is useless. It will be driven by the wind and waves and eventually be torn apart.

When Jesus picked up the towel in John 13 to wash His disciples feet, He was asking His crew to put their hands on the same rudder that had directed His life…and now would direct His death…after the resurrection He would only have a short time with them before ascending back to heaven….He was leaving the ship in their control.

[“My children I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now; where I am going you cannot come.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:33-35)]

The mission of the church is its rudder…It guides and gives direction, even in the winds and storms…so from the very beginning of His ministry, His rudder was firmly in the water and controlled by God’s Spirit.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me.”

Our mission statement here at Gardenside Christian Church is “Passionately Preparing All People for an Eternity with Christ.”

I love the passionate part…because what You’re passionate about always directs your life.


True isn’t it? I’ve seen people camp out for 4 days in the cold for basketball or football tickets. I’ve seen people get up at 4:30 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving so they could get a TV for 200 bucks.

Passion is loving something on steroids. You’ll fight for it…sacrifice for it…even die for what you’re really really passionate about.

Passion makes you step out of a landing craft on D day in Normandy. Passion makes you run into a burning building to save your children. Passion directs you to sell everything you have to start a new business or win the girl you love.

Passion isn’t liking something…it’s much much bigger.

By the way, our passion as Christians is spiritually produced and spiritually sustained.

The Spirit of the Lord must be upon us…annointing us…or THERE IS NO PASSION for lost and broken people. And this new commandment from Jesus to love people is clearly the rudder that is to guide our ship. Because without a doubt it was the rudder that guided His ship.

Luke 4 is the official launching of Jesus’ ship…it the mission statement of the Messiah…it’s about people…poor people…imprisoned people…blind people…and oppressed people…

When He rolls up the scroll…prophecy from Isaiah…verse 21 says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

“Today the hope of poor, imprisoned, blind and oppressed people is HERE.”

What happened to the spiritual passion of people in the Church for these broken souls?

Could it be that there was never a spiritual passion to begin with?

Maybe for many their Christianity, or so called Christianity, began with an outward obedience to be baptized…or join the church but there was no passion about their sin and the need for a savior. There was no real new birth, or death burial and resurrection. I will tell you plainly “yes” and because of that the purpose of their lives never really changed, nor does their thinking.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:

1 CORINTHIANS 2:9-16 (p. 794)

Folks, there is no such thing as a non-Spirit filled and influenced Christian.

The mind of Christ is our rudder…The Holy Spirit is the one who keeps us on course and directs us…not the world.

Churches that end up spiritually like the Alaskan Monarch…have lost their rudder or are piloted by people who don’t think you really need one. You can drift along for a while, but eventually you will crash…and the crew will be swept overboard.

And since we are to be directed by the mind of Christ…clearly revealed in our text.


Anybody here ever been on a cruise ship? Yeah? Me too. Do you enjoy it? It seems everyone on staff exists to serve you…make you comfortable…FEED YOU. The meals are spectacular!!!

I meet a lot of folks who think the Church is their cruise ship…maybe because their rudder’s broken.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 records the Apostle Paul commanding believers to “not quench the Spirit.”

He wouldn’t tell us not to if it wasn’t a possibility.

The important question that must be answered is this…What is your motive for wanting the Holy Spirit in your life?

[Frances Chan in his book “Forgotten God” says, “The Holy Spirit is not a commodity to be bought or traded according to our individual wants, whims or even just needs. You cannot have a real discussion about the Holy Spirit without calling our motives into question.”

“Why do you want the Holy Spirit in your life? Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you. Is it because you love the Church and desire to be a better servant.”]

1 Corinthians 12 tells us that each true follower of Christ is given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…gifts apportioned to each individual as He wills.” (vs. 7,11)

The Holy Spirit is intentional…He has a purpose and He has a passion… “the common good…the edification of the Church…the power to make disciples.

He never convicts us, calls us and fills us so we can be on a cruise ship. It’s always so we can be equipped to rescue people from a coast guard vessel.

He never asks us to pick up a towel so we can lay it on the deck to get a sun tan. He always asks us to pick it up so we can wash feet…the feet of the poor, imprisoned, blind and oppressed.

So, if that is not what has happened in your life…either you’ve never been filled with Him, or you’ve quenched Him.

Satan is a cruise ship director…the Holy Spirit is trainer of medics on the battlefield.

It’s my belief that if you allow non passionate Holy Spirit directed individuals to fill places of leadership, no matter where that may be in the Church you create a cruise ship attitude instead of a rescue boat.

[I got to share with my buddy David Kibler at the Kentucky Minister’s Retreat this past Monday and Tuesday. He ended his session in this way…I’m going to have 3 people come up front right now representing 3 types of people…____________ represents the hard core lost…those folks who have no relationship with God at all, and it is plainly evident, ____________ represents those who are lukewarm, they claim to be Christians but there’s no real commitment, they might show up occasionally but there’s no real passion or evidence that Christ influences their lives powerfully. ____________ represents those who are committed. True disciples that are growing, they are bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.

Now let me ask you a question…How much time did Jesus spend with the hard core lost? Let’s say He spent 50% of His time with these people. And the other 50% of his time He spent with the committed disciples. That means He spent 0% of His time with the lukewarm…in fact He doesn’t call these people Christians. He says lukewarm people…not Christians, not believers, not disciples…lukewarm people He wants to spit out of His mouth because it’s so disgusting.

So, why do we want to spend so much of our time with these people in church? Shouldn’t we follow the example of Jesus and spend our time equally divided between the lost and between the truly committed? It seems to me if we do that…because that’s what I’ve committed myself to…that our rudders in the water and we will be rescuing drowning people, and training committed people to do the same.]

Let’s pray.


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