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About this series
The Four Great Invitations
Lessons from My First 50 Years with Jesus
Do you have a mentor? That one person with lots of life know-how you completely trust for sound wisdom and guidance? Well, if not, in this series, Chip will be that mentor for us as he shares some insightful experiences he’s learned from - through 5 decades of walking with Jesus. He’ll unpack how these lessons are rooted in 4 essential invitations Jesus challenged His disciples with throughout the Gospels. Don’t miss how these biblical insights can encourage, motivate and comfort you through all aspects of life.More from this series
The final invitation is to go and make disciples.
And I thought to myself as we get ready to wrap this up, maybe we should take just a moment and remember who is making these four great invitations. Speaking of the Father it says, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption for the forgiveness of sins.” And then it describes who has given us the invitation to come, to follow, and to abide.
Right after the resurrection, I love this line. He said to His disciples, even before the ascension and all the rest, He says, “As the Father has sent Me, I’m sending you.” Think of that.
When the Triune God saw all the world and all the needs, in His heart of love, He sent Jesus. And now Jesus says to us, “Just as the Father sent Me to bring light and love and to care and to rescue, I’m sending you.” And then we get the formal invitation in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 to 20. The context here is that He has already appeared to five hundred eyewitnesses. And in verse 18, He says, “All power and authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth.” In your notes just write the word “power.”
When we say we are going to go make disciples, everything you need, all the resources – that word for “power” or “authorities” – circle it. We get our word “dynamite.”
Everything you need to be and to do all He wants you to do, is available. And then here’s the invitation, actually, a command. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” how? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” in order that they could watch online, in order that they could agree with what Jesus…wait a second, I think I read that wrong. “Teaching them to observe, to live out, everything that I taught you… And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Everything you need, all the resources, as you say, “I have come to Jesus. I really am following Him, I am learning and abiding, okay, I want to be a part of the team that does for others what You did for me. I have got all the power I need, and I’ll never do this alone.”
And after Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount what it meant to be a genuine follower and how different it was from how people were thinking. In the next little section, I actually, it comes out of Luke chapter 6, verses 39. Because it raises the question, like, how do you do that, right? I mean, how do you make disciples and what are we supposed to do and what does it look like and how do you know if you’re successful?
In verse 39, He says, “And Jesus gave this parable. He said, ‘If a blind man is leading a blind man, they’ll both fall into the ditch.’” And then He went on to say, verse 40, “If a student, when he is fully grown, or a disciple when you’re fully trained, you become just like your teacher.” And then the last part was, “You hypocrites. Why are you seeing the speck in other people’s eyes? Stop it. Quit judging other people. Take the plank out of your eye,” and then we often forget, “then go back and take the speck out of theirs.”
And as I have thought about that passage, I have thought about probably what I have learned the most over the years in terms of, “Go and make disciples,” is you can’t impart what you don’t possess. That’s the picture. If you’re blind, if you don’t know what a disciple is, if you’re not on that path, you can’t take anyone with you.
And then I love the second line, “More is caught than taught.” You know, if you’re a parent, by the way, this is – big memo – if you have small kids, listen really carefully. If you have older ones, pray hard and do as much repair as you can. Your kids are never going to do what you say. They’re going to catch who you really are. Your values are not what you profess, your values are not what you intellectually believe, your values aren’t even your very best intentions.
Your kids are going to catch what really matters to you. How you think about time, how you think about money, how you think about different people, how you think about different races, how you think about all the issues of life. They just catch it. And so, when you want to go on discipleship, we have to – the last one – we have to be what we want those that we are leading to become.
And so, that’s always the first step. And where I would get stuck on this, I was probably, I don’t know how many years, I was a pastor way over ten years, boy, maybe closer to fifteen or twenty. And I would meet with other pastors, and I would say, “You know, I’m trying to learn and grow, and Jesus said, ‘Go make disciples,’ what, so, how do you define a disciple?” And we’d get a bunch of pastors around and we’d say, “Well, you know,” in some circles, “well, they come to a morning service, an evening service, they give ten percent, and they kind of help out at the church.” Okay. Other people it’s, “Well, they have had this experience or that experience and…” Okay.
And what I realized was I literally had the chance in one of my former lives to go all around the world and meet pastors all around the world. And I said, “Just tell me, if someone walked up to you and said, ‘I prayed, Jesus lives in me now, I have got the next three to five years marked off, I will do whatever you want me to do. I will come to whatever meetings, I’ll learn whatever, would you give me the clear pathway, and could you tell me what it is and when I’m a mature disciple of Christ? I really want to do it.”
And I’d like to say that they just would pull out, like, their phone or something and say, “Oh, yeah, this is our plan.” About ninety-eight out of a hundred pastors said, “Well, we invite them to church, and we’ve got some programs and we tell them, ‘Here are some next steps.’” I said, “Well, how do you know when they’re mature?”
And so, it was about, I don’t know, a little over fifteen years ago, I was in another life, and I was training pastors in Nigeria. It was really hard, because they speak English but not my English. Well, and when Nasim was giving the announcements, I thought to myself, Someone finally speaks almost as fast as me. You know? And I thought, I love this, you know? And they said, “No, this is Nigeria. You need to speak very slowly.”
And so, I tried to speak very slowly, and I had twelve sessions on how to grow a high-impact church. And I’m in session number one and it’s a really mixed group. So, on the front row there’s a guy with an iPad and on the front row, a guy who is barefooted. And they have come from all over, lots of them.
And the first one was on: The purpose of the Church is to make disciples. And so, I went for this definition, and it was like, you have all had a conversation with either a small group or another person or maybe a bit larger group? And you’re thinking, They don’t get it. I’m not getting through. And I thought, Oh my, I’m speaking slow, which is killing me. And I’m going to have to do this eleven more times? If we don’t get on the same page, I’m going to go nuts and this is worthless. And I thought, Oh, what am I going to do?
And so, I said, “Stop.” This is one of, maybe the second or third most mystic experience I have ever had with Jesus. I said, “Do you see that brother right there on the front row?”
I said, “If he went online and there was a server in heaven and he went: heaven.com/disciple, do you know what would come right on his computer so we would know?” And, like, three thousand pastors go…
And I’m thinking, I wonder what I’m going to say next. Because none of this is in my notes. And I heard out of my mouth say, “Becoming a Romans 12 Christian.” Now, to be fair, the Holy Spirit, I had memorized that chapter, I had actually taught it before, but never…
I said, “Well, open…forget those notes I gave you. Open your Bible.” And so, I will say to you, open your notes in the middle, and all of Romans 12 is right there. And I’m going to tell you why I want to share it with you. Because what I realized was a disciple is not someone who does spiritual activities. I mean, the people that fasted, prayed – right? Down to the herbs and spices, they gave, they were super religious. The harshest words that ever came out of Jesus’ mouth was to religious people. And we are no different.
Chapter 1 is here, right? 1 through 3, the problem of man. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Chapter 4 and 5, the solution. Christ died in our place, and we receive Him by faith. Chapters 6 through 8, how do you live this life? It’s the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Chapters 9 through 11, sort of a little parentheses that says, “If you’re a Jew that has believed in Jesus, I just want you to know that as a nation, God took you out of the game because you fumbled the ball.” I’m over spiritualizing a bit here. “And He’s got a plan for you to get back in the game later, but I want you to understand what is happening.” He’s a sovereign God whose purposes will be fulfilled for the land and all the promises He made to David.
And now we are at chapter 12, “Therefore.” And in chapter 12, what he does, he gives an executive summary of what a disciple is. Will Durant describes the apostle Paul as the most brilliant mind in the first century. And we know he had some special relationship with Jesus after he came to Christ. We know he had an intellect that was unbelievable.
And I believe chapter 12, he took the Sermon on the Mount and all he learned and all this, and for a, sort of, Greek mindset like us, he said, “Okay, let me give you the profile of a disciple.” So, are you ready? Eleven chapters are all about – what? Grace. It’s the gospel. Based on grace, totally what God does, and then you’ll notice, look in your notes.
Discipleship is always relational; it’s not about performance.
First relationship, there are five. Go down through. Circle the word “God” – right? In your notes. Go down, circle the word “world”. Go down one more time, circle the word “yourself”. Then circle “believers”, then circle “non-believers”. All I want you to know is it’s about grace and it’s about relationships. I can’t go through it all. But what I want to do is just give you a quick postcard that you could say, “Okay, I’ve come, I’m following Jesus, I’m abiding and learning, and He says, ‘Go make disciples.’”
I want you to say, “Oh, this is what a disciple is.” Notice what it says. Relationship with God is surrender to God. “Therefore I urge you my brothers and sisters, in view of God’s great mercy,” those eleven chapters, the work of Christ, the resurrection, “offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. This is your spiritual service of worship.”
And so what he’s saying is for normal followers making disciples, you have to be one before you can help others.
The word “offer”, put a little box around “offer” in your notes. It’s in a tense in the Greek that is, it’s punctiliar. It happens in a point of time. You have already come to know Christ and at a certain day at a certain time, you say, “Lord, I surrender all that I am and all that I have: my family, my money, my career, my location, my future. You fill in the top of the purchase order and You say, ‘This is what I want you to do. I have already signed my name at the bottom.’ I may struggle with that; it may be difficult for me. But I want You to know I am fully surrendered to You.”
And here’s the question that it answers: How do you give God what He wants the most? Do you remember who He is? All the fullness of deity dwells. God is inviting you and He says, “This is what I want.” More than your religiosity, way more than your money, more than this, more than that, He wants you. All of you. That’s your spiritual service of worship.
But your spiritual service of worship and mine has some big competition. And so, the next he says, “What does a disciple look like in relationship to the world?” And this isn’t the physical world, this is that – the world system.
Notice it says, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you,” just a regular, ordinary person, you, me, “you could test, approve, experience, demonstrate what God’s will looks like,” in a normal human being. “His will is good, acceptable, and perfect.”
And so, the fact of the matter is, remember we talked about those things that are barriers to abiding? Distractions, disoriented desires, all those kind of things? Do you remember when Jesus was tempted by the enemy, and he quoted God’s Word? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride of life. Or in our language, “Sex, status, salary.” Or, “Pleasure, power, possessions.”
There is a world system that pops up on my phone, every commercial, most every movie. And it says, “Significance and meaning is when I get enough money or when I’m prettier or more handsome or I run this company, or I go public,” you fill it in, but it promises that. And the world system is a mistress, seeking to seduce you away from the love of God.
1 John would take this and say, “If any man loves the world, any woman loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them.
So, we are in a battle that is always tugging. And he says, “You know, you are separate.” By the way, progressively. Three steps forward, two steps backwards, but progressively, you are doing two things. You’re saying no to that value system and yes to your mind gets renewed. Remember of abiding? And you start to renew your mind. And instead of your life being conformed to what this is, your life, little by little, gets conformed to what God says.
The third relationship is our relationship with ourselves. And here, a disciple isn’t just surrendered to God or progressively separate from the world’s values. You have a sober self-assessment. He says, “For by the grace of God I say to every one of you, don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but rather, think of yourself with a sober…” Literally, it means to not be drunk.
Have an accurate perception of yourself. How? “According to the measure of your faith.” It’s that word in this particular case is the measure – what God says about you. Do you grasp the identity issues that people struggle with today? And it’s not people out there, I mean, it’s us. I mean, do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what your weaknesses are? Are you comfortable realizing that you don’t have it all together? That I’m insecure, you’re insecure, everyone struggles.
The apostle Paul is saying – here’s the deal. Most all of us, in many opportunities, will pose. And we will either try to be someone else or we will try to reflect that we know more or act more. And we do it because we are insecure. And he says, “A disciple gets it.” You understand, you know, These are the strengths that I gave you.
And then you don’t have to be embarrassed. These are weaknesses that you have. And then he goes on to say that, you know, just as we have many members in a physical body, so we are one body in Christ. We are individually members of one another. And he says, “I want you to just have an accurate view of yourself.” Here’s the measure of my faith. On this day, at this moment, I am deeply loved by God. I have been sealed by the Spirit. He has deposited gifts in me. My eternity is absolutely sealed. I know where I’m going, and I know why based on what Christ did. And I have received that by faith.
God has a tremendous plan for my life, and He knows that I will struggle and He is patient and He is loving. But here he says you need to know what your strengths and gifts are because there are other people, their strengths, interdependently connect with yours. And there’s this amazing joy that comes when you belong and where you fit.
If verse 1 tells us how in the world do we give God what He wants the most, verse 2 tells us: how do we get the very best from God? And verses 3 through 8 answers this question: how do you ever come to grips with the real you? How do you get where, instead of: If I was only taller, if I was only prettier, if I was only more this, if I was only smarter, if I… People spend their life chasing phantoms. I am telling you, one of the most liberating things that ever happens in your life – and you know when you start sharing: “These are my strengths, but these are my weaknesses, it doesn’t repel people.
Most of us live with what I call a hologram mentality. And, by the way, I have done this in spades. I call it a hologram. And if you’re really, really good at it, here’s the tragedy, people start loving the persona. And what you realize, they don’t really know you.
The most human experience of the greatest power I have ever experienced in my life is to sit across the table, first and foremost with my wife, and then with some very, very close friends where they have seen the good, the bad, and some really, really ugly and accept and love me just for who I am.
That’s being a follower. And so, the apostle Paul wants these disciples to understand that this is normative. This is what a disciple looks like: heaven.com/disciple. You’re surrendered to God; you are separate from the world’s values. And, by the way, that’s three steps forward, again, and a couple backward, sometimes four backwards like we all mess up. And then you get this sober self-assessment and then you say, “Well, where do I fit in the body?” He goes, “Well…” He lists seven specific gifts.
And he says, “These are your core motivations.” We are told to obey all those things in verses 6 through 8. But he says, “If it’s teaching,” man, focus on that. “If it’s exhortation,” man, do that counseling, encouragement. “If it’s leader, be diligent. If it’s giving, be generous. If it’s merciful, do it with compassion. If it’s proclaiming God’s Word,” hey, go for it!
You know what it’s like to be – some of you do – to be in a church, to be in a small group, to feel like, “I’m accepted for me. I belong.” And as you bring what you bring and others bring what they bring, God does something really beautiful through us.
The fourth relationship is with fellow believers. What does it look like? What does an authentic follower, a disciple look like? They are serving in love. He says, “Love must be sincere.” You might put an underline under that. Literally it’s without hypocrisy. He says, “You want to have great relationships with other believers? Take off your mask. “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good, be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” And then I don’t have time to develop it but there are about thirteen participles that all have the force of a command, of honoring one another, caring for one another, praying for one another, financially helping one another.
This isn’t like I’m in a small group and we sit around in a circle, “How did your week go?” “My week went okay. Is your week okay?” “What did you have for question number four?” “I had ‘God’.” “Cool, great answer. How about you? For question five, what did you have?” “I had ‘Jesus’.” “Oh, well, that’s really great.” “Okay, now, how are the 49ers doing? Have you heard about the draft?” Or, you know, “What’s on sale?”
No, these are the kind of relationships where the real you shows up and you meet real needs that are sacrificial, and they are not convenient. And you say to another group of people in the body of Christ, “My time is your time. My money, when needed, is your money. My heart is your heart whenever you need it. I will lay down my life for you the way Jesus laid down His life for me.” And when you ever get to experience that, I’ll tell you, unbelievers will look at it like, “What in the world is going on here? You’re not those little religious people.” Serving in love. The real you meets real needs for the right reason in the right way.
And not only is it so attractive, but it answers that deep question that we have: how do you experience authentic community? Right? I mean, the experts, at least in America, probably beyond, all the experts say the number one relational issue in America today is loneliness. We have never been more connected to information and less connected to one another. Suicides are up, anxiety is up, struggles are up. What we all long for – I mean, it’s an amazing gift. If you just get, like, even two or three people in your life that love you for you and that would do whatever for you, it changes everything.
And, see, that’s what a disciple is. It’s not about how many times, okay, gosh, I only read two chapters. Oh, gosh, what shall I do? I’m supposed to read three chapters a morning. And someone said a proverb, I didn’t try the psalms. I did this. And, gosh, I can only give 9.5 percent. Or, I gave eleven percent, I guess God loves me more. You know?
Being a follower of Jesus is you have come and found rest. You are following Him and you abide. And the Spirit of God begins to enlighten the Word of God. And you talk honestly from your heart. And when you mess up, you just own it and He forgives and cleanses.
And then you get in a group in community like is so important around here. And you receive it with someone who actually gives you a hug and eye contact that you realize this invisible God shows up – how? Through His body.
We sing things like, “He’s our hands and He’s our feet,” but it’s for each other. It’s real.
You know, it’s not just helping all the people in need and giving away food. Those things are awesome.
Can you fathom what would happen if God would awaken a new generation to the reality of Jesus? Well, how do you do that? You come, you follow, you abide, and then we make disciples.
Finally, he talks to us about our relationship with unbelievers in a fallen world especially. And we supernaturally respond to evil with good.
Some of you are, actually, all of you are way younger than me. And if you have not yet been betrayed in a really big way, don’t hold your breath; it’s coming. And it happens inside or outside the Church. So, how do Christians, how do genuine followers respond to the evil that is aimed at us? And the heat is going up in this culture especially.
Well, here’s what a disciple does: “Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Don’t be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Don’t be conceited; do not repay evil for evil."
What if he actually gave us five relationships based on grace with a biblical response that you could actually measure?
And so, we created an e-learning system about ten years ago, “True Spirituality Online.”
And, like, there are messages on each one of those areas. And you can do like a six or seven-minute video. And it’s like, “You know, I just want R12 lite.” There’s a, like a forty, forty-three-minute video. There’s just the audio, there are the notes for each one, there’s a small group there if you say, “Hey, you know what? I want to become a real disciple and I want to make disciples. I’m going to jump in.” And you can do that. It’s all without charge.
You’ll notice in your bulletin, it says, “The four great invitations, a personal assessment.”
Here’s what I’d like you to do. Imagine yourself blindfolded, taken in a car, and then you can tell, they put you on a plane, and then you land somewhere and it’s in a dark room and then the lights are turned on, they take off the blindfold, and they say, “You’ve got two days to get to Chicago.” What is the very first thing you’ve got to do? What do you got to do? You’ve got to find out where you’re at! You’ve got to find out: Where am I at right now? Here’s my question: Where are you at right now in making disciples? You can’t impart what you don’t possess.
You’ve got to be what you want others to become. If you don’t know where you’re at, it’s just, you know, like a shotgun. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and by God’s grace He does use that. So, I would just encourage you, you know, not here but get a quiet place and just do that little assessment. And it’s not in any way to go, “Oh, wow. I sure am not the disciple I wish I was.” No, it’s just to say, “I thought I was here and, oh, in this one area I’m over here.”
Or some of you have this strict conscience, “And I thought I was here,” and you’re going to go, “Oh, I’m here. I’m making progress.” With the groups and staff and elders, because I wanted to put this into practice, so one of the things Theresa and I did when I was a senior pastor is we would have the elders over to our home once a month. We would all eat together and just hang, you know? And hear about kids and life and all the rest.
And then Theresa went with the women in one room and I went over…I’m not sure what they did, but they loved it. And then I got with the guys and no business. And so, literally, I would, I mean, methodically, I would say, “Hey, guys, great to be with you. We are just brothers here tonight. Not trying to run anything at the church. On a scale of one to five, where are you at in surrender? Now, obviously we know at a point in time we all said yes to the lordship of Christ, but a one is God is really speaking to me about letting go, surrendering something, and you haven’t. A five is God really spoke to me and you let go of something, you really surrendered. No one can say a three, because that’s a copout. Go.”
And so, I’ll never forget, one guy said, “I’m at a one right now.” Very godly man. I said, “Why?” “Because my daughter wants to be a missionary in Afghanistan, and I just, I don’t want her to go. She’s going to get killed. Or I think she’s going to get killed. But children are a gift from the Lord. I know the right answer. I don’t want to give the right answer.” “Thanks, man, we’re going to be on that.”
Over here, a five. What’s a five about? “I’ve got an amazing job; I have made a ton of money. And, yes, of course I tithe, and I give over and above my tithing and blah, blah, blah. But I realized, man, I could do a ton of good. And God is just speaking to me about, Why don’t you give out of your comfort zone instead of in your comfort zone? Everyone thinks I’m really generous, because, wow, you know, they get really big checks. They just don’t know that’s not much of what I’ve got. And I’m really excited. God spoke to me and I released that. I’m doing some, actually, a few crazy things right now and God is showing up.”
But do you understand is that, you know, the next time it might be separate from the world’s values and I might say, “Hey, where are you really struggling with the world squeezing you in?” And, you know, you can’t be with a group of men and not know, at least, some of the guys have struggled with pornography. Or, over here, it might be shopping. Over here it’s pleasing people.
And all I’m saying is there is a way to measure in an informal, loving way that is grace-based and relational where we could say, “How am I doing?” And now I want to help those Jesus has rescued like me to learn to be surrendered, because surrender is the channel through which God’s biggest and best blessings flow. Because separate from the world’s values is how you get the very best from God and experience His will.
Because being a sober self-assessment is how you finally discover who you are and quit pretending. And because serving in love is how you really experience authentic community, and you experience God’s presence through other people.
And because supernaturally responding to evil with good gives you an actual game plan, that is not blaming or anger or ungodliness, to respond to the evil that is aimed at you, because it all comes. Does that make sense? That’s the postcard.
Now, here’s something, by Tuesday, ninety percent of everything I have said, you won’t remember any of it. That’s very discouraging. But what I have learned is, those people who take a baby step and respond to the light, wow! Then they take another baby step, and another. And they get connected. And then, here’s what you’ll learn. Oh, I shouldn’t give this away. It’s a spoiler. You’ll go, privately, you’ll never say this, “These people are as messed up as I am. There are as many posers in here as me. I thought everyone is doing great and I’m doing terrible.” And you know what will happen? God will show up.
As you turn to the back page and I want to do – give you just a head’s up on – I would say maybe the biggest breakthrough I had in terms of how do you go about this? Write the words at the top: It’s a journey. It’s a process. It takes time, intentionality. You don’t have to, you could just use one word. Some of you are going, “I can’t write that fast.” Journey, process, time, intentionality, perseverance.
I mean, this whole thing was, you know, I’ve been a Christian fifty years this month. I don’t have enough hands and toes to tell you how many times I wanted to quit. I’m so glad I didn’t.
And the breakthrough, my biggest breakthrough came, I was thirty years old, and I was in seminary. I took a little church, about thirty-five people, so I’m working and we had three children at the time. And I was completely overwhelmed trying to do everything, working out all my issues.
And there was a mentor that we kept bugging for about three years, and we had a brown-bag lunch with a guy named Howard Hendricks. And we called him Prof.
And he just walked in and we had done a couple brown-bags and he goes, “Gentlemen!” That’s how he talked. “You know what’s wrong with you?” We didn’t. “That’s why we asked you to be with us.” He says, “You’re all a bunch of overachievers and you are so performance-oriented.” And then he said, “Write this down. You will never be more loved than you are right at this second. There’s nothing you can do to get God to love you more, there’s nothing you can do to get Him to love you less. Therefore, life really is about: how are you going to say thank you?”
And then he would write in these big block letters and he wrote the word “objective” and he said, “Who do you want to be?” You guys are so into do, do, do, accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. Who do you really want to be?” And then he wrote the word “priority”. He said, “How badly do you want to be that person?”
There’s a lot of distractions, there’s lots of hobbies, there’s lots of people, there’s lots of pressures. How badly? Are you willing to say, “No, this is who I want to be.” And then he wrote the word “schedule”. And he said, “I have been in groups like this all the time and you have good intentions and you have a desire and you can say, ‘I want to be a man of God or I want to be a great husband or I, whatever.’”
And he says, “What I know is if it doesn’t show up,” the third word was “schedule”. Show me in your schedule each week where and how is it planned into your schedule for you to become that kind of person?”
And then he wrote the last word, it was “discipline”, and he said, “The difference between men and boys,” all men in the room, “is those who are willing to pay the price and do what is on their schedule when they don’t feel like it.”
And I remember driving, it’s thirty-two miles was from where I went to school out to this little community called Kaufman. And about seven or eight miles before you got there is Crandall, a dinky town back then, and it had a Dairy Queen. And I pulled off and I went into the Dairy Queen, and I can’t remember what I ordered, and sat in one of those very hard booths, and I just felt like I was at one of those moments in my life. And I took a napkin out, which is my habit when I’m going to really write something important, and I wrote, “I want to be a man of God. I want to be a great husband. I want to be a great father. I want to be a great pastor. I want to be a great friend.”
And I don’t know why, maybe it was my background and some negative experiences, “I want to stay in shape all the days of my life.” Go figure. And then I got my calendar out, and I blocked off mornings and family times and a date with my wife and meeting with my kids and more protracted time for sermons. Because I had enough ability once I did all my study to do a pretty good sermon with all the other demands without that last ten or fifteen percent.
And I put it all in my schedule and then I had a crisis, because I looked at my schedule and it’s like, sixty-five or seventy percent full and I haven’t done my to-do list. I said, “Lord, this is not going to work, because I can’t get my to-do list done when only some of these are in there now, and this is really scheduled.” And I heard the Holy Spirit say, “So, are you getting your to-do list done now?” “No.” “Okay, well, here’s the issue, Chip. Who you become will be one-hundred-x more important than anything you ever accomplish.”
And it was Dallas Willard who said, “Who you become is the greatest gift that you will ever give to others and to our world.” And so, I went on that journey. I did it very imperfectly but I blocked off those times, I put it in my calendar, found two or three guys that I could work out with, two or three times that I could be very open with, shared it with them. And here’s what happened. I said, “Will you show me how I can get some time?”
And for some reason with our kids, we decided we’re not going to – experiment – for two weeks, you know, we are not going to watch TV during school nights. And I thought, Gosh, if they are doing it, I probably should do it. So, they’re in bed, like, eight, eight thirty. It’s nine fifteen and it was like, Man, I am bored. I think I’ll go to bed. I woke up at five with more sleep, more energy than I ever had in my life.
I stopped watching the news. I realized it’s just different names and different tragedies that they give me every week. And found out I could go to the news stand and read the top line and I knew what happened in the world. And if I needed to know more I could read an article or ask someone or, in our day, go online. Pretty soon I just said, “Lord, I’m not doing that.” I changed one thing in my life, I got an hour and a half, almost two hours back.
And all I can tell you was I didn’t see any big, rapid, amazing change. But three years in, the guy that met with his wife and the guy that was the pastor was different than the guy three years earlier. Ten years later, the capacity grew. Twenty years later, the capacity grew. Thirty years later the capacity grew. And I remember thinking, I had all these demands in my life and if all the demands were a big pile of dirt it was like a little wheelbarrow, whoo! Wheelbarrow.
And then after two or three years, it was, “Oh, the wheelbarrow is bigger!” And then after ten years, it was a pickup truck. And after twenty years it was this, you know, this U-Haul thing filled. And the person who showed up to prepare for a message had been in God’s Word for twenty years and had a relationship with friends, very imperfectly and with ups and downs and struggles. God wants you to be a disciple.
You need a Paul, you need a Timothy, and you need a Barnabas or a Barnabette that you can say, “I’m not sure why God brought me to church this weekend, but I think I need to do what that guy was talking about, and I can’t do it alone. I need someone to help me. I need someone that, I need to get off my rear end and help someone else. And then I’ve got to have someone that will go through life with me because it’s hard.”
Here’s my question. You don’t need to do any or all of this. As I have been talking and the Spirit of God has been moving, what is the one thing that keeps coming to your mind? What is the baby step? What one thing do you say, “That’s what I need to do”? Because here is the good news: If you respond to the light that God gives you, guess what, whoo, more is coming. Respond to that, whoo, more is coming. And little by little, over time, He’s going to change you, He’s going to change me. And He, this isn’t a pipe dream. He can and will introduce and awaken the next generation to the reality of Jesus.