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About this series
The Path - To the Life You've Always Wanted
What path are you on and where is it taking you? Everyone is on a path. It may not be a path we think about, but everyone is ON a path. And there are different paths. Some are on a path to fame, some on a path to success, some are on a path to prove your own goodness, some are on a path that say, “I am going to avoid pain and rejection like I had.” Some are on a path to prove that someone who said you are a loser is wrong. Some are on a path to get people to like you. So the question is, "What path are you on, and is it taking you where you want to go?" Join Chip to discover the answer.More from this series
There’s something required of us, three practices. To become like Jesus, there are some things we have to do. It’s a partnership.
Scripture says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – why? “for God has worked in us.” And so there’s a part where, you know, it’s like God provides the oxygen, but He doesn’t suck in the air into my lungs. That’s my responsibility.
And we have talked about this, we talk about, it’s about life, it’s not about religion. And our little acronym is: BIO. You will never mature or stay on the path unless coming before God daily, reading His Word, hearing His voice, talking to Him.
And then moving through your day with that truth, seeking to apply it and be aware of it, and coming before God like a real priority that the weekends together matter.
About forty years ago, the average committed Christian went to church about three point five weeks out of a month. They actually thought it was really important. Relatives came in town, they’d say, “Do you want to go with us?” When their kids were on the traveling team, they said, “You know, this is really important. Well, I guess we’ll have to go to Saturday night.”
Today, the average committed Christian goes to church one point six times a month. So, it’s interesting for someone like me. What I know is about forty percent or forty-five percent isn’t here this week. And a different group will be here next week.
Can you imagine showing up for work, like, a third of the time? You know? You might miss something. You might get out of the flow. Now, again, we have all had those experiences of legalism and if you weren’t in church, God doesn’t love you. You’re a bad person. We don’t have any of that.
And there are times we all miss and there are times where, actually, I’m a pastor and there have been times where, “Honey, you know something? I’m not preaching this weekend. We need to have a church service, you and me and a couple of our kids, and I need to get away for a couple of hours.”
You need to do what is going to minister to you, but I’ve got news. The great majority is there has to be a commitment. On Monday morning, I have a commitment, you know, I’ve got to be at work. I have a commitment to my kids. I have a commitment to my wife.
And then as I read God’s Word, I have to do life in community. You know, the world is not going to be transformed because of buildings or programs or humanitarian aid, as wonderful as all that is. Jesus said the way that they will know that He is true is by how much we love one another. You can’t love other people sitting in a room hearing some guy talk, singing a few songs, and going about your business.
You cannot love people you do not know. And, are you ready? You can’t be loved unless you’re known. And, yes, you’re busy, there are demands, but that’s part of your path, isn’t it? Ask yourself: what do you have time for? What changes should you make?
I remember, I started reading the Bible. It was just, it seemed like just an incremental, little change, and it changed the whole course of my life.
I was in an office and talked to a young gal who has started coming to our church recently and she said, “You know, I work out every morning,” and she’s really into all that. And she goes, “I always listen to music. And I started listening to podcasts two weeks ago.” She goes, “I am experiencing this peace. I mean, my attitudes have changed. I don’t get it.” She doesn’t know that she is renewing her mind.
What changes do you need to make in terms of coming before God, doing life in community, and then being on mission? It’s a whole mindset where you wake up and whether you’re married or whether you’re single, where there’s a roommate, where you’re alone – I get in my car, I go to work, but my mindset is: I am a servant. I mean, I’m a servant to the guy that just cut me off and part of me wants to provide a gesture to tell him how upset I am.
But, see, I am a follower of Jesus. I am a servant. I want to bring life and forgiveness.
And it’s a mindset and I don’t have the power to do that. But, boy, when I get on mission and see that, amazing things can happen. And it’s a journey.
As you turn the page, I want to give you a picture to remember and a profile to pursue. A picture to remember and a profile to pursue. This is just the overview.
Here’s what I want you to get: the process of spiritual growth and maturity is the same for everyone. It’s grace in relationship with God as I come before Him, it’s grace and His power as I do life in community, and it’s His grace as I discover my gifts and choose to be a servant even when I don’t feel like it.
That process is the same. Now, but the journey of how it looks is different for every person. So, in other words, when I first became a Christian and this was so, all new to me, I would pray for, like, three minutes and it was like, Man, I cannot think of anything else to say. I think I have prayed for everything and everything in the whole world.
I mean, if I, it was like, fifteen whole minutes? Okay, I read a little bit, I don’t understand a lot of it. And, okay, but I am going to do something. I’m going to respond and prayed and, boy, I wonder, like, what do I do now?
You know, thirty-five years later, just because of my appetite, less than an hour feels like, Gosh, I just, Lord, I’m sorry. I’ll, we’ll check in a little bit later. And it’s, I’m not more holy. In other words, a little baby, when a little baby, how much food do you give a little baby? How much do you give a triathlete? See, what I want you to see is, are you ready for this?
Look at that picture. The picture is you and me, the path is the same: Love God; love people. But the methodology, the practices are before God, in community, on mission. And the goal is that I become like Jesus. Would you write right below that: I am ridiculously in charge of my life.
I am ridiculously in charge of my life. That’s the path. You see it. I don’t know what you need. I don’t know if you need to read the Bible, if you need a reading plan, if you need to study it, if you need to go to seminary, if you need to get a Daily Walk. I know we have all kinds of things everywhere to help you.
But what is your plan? Here’s what I’m saying is: you are in charge of your spiritual growth and development. You’ll be as holy, you’ll be as righteous, you’ll be as loving as you want to be, according to Jesus.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” So what is your plan?
If you want the life that you currently have – with the level of joys, the level of frustrations, the level of problems – then just don’t change anything.
Because what you’re reading, who you hang out with, when you get up, when you go to bed, what you do with free time, how much time on the Internet, how much time on Facebook, who your closest friends are is producing the life that you’re getting every single day. If you like it, keep doing it.
I hope God likes it, though. And, by the way, there’s a destination. It’s leading you somewhere. And so all I’m saying is, and here’s the thing, we get thinking that I’m going to have this big “ah-ha,” miraculous, light bulbs, epiphany. Most major changes of how everything changes, it’s an incremental, You know what? This is where I’m at, but this is where I need to be.
I was praying this morning because sometimes, you know, I say this stuff and you think, Oh, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Chip. Easy for you. This is a truth card. I have two or three relationships that, if I keep living the way I’m living now, I will be very sad in about ten or fifteen or twenty years, or whenever I die.
I’ve got a great relationship with all my adult kids. I am currently emotionally connected to all eleven grandkids. And I went through a process of evaluating my whole life and coming up with some new goals. And He asked me, Well, how do you want to be remembered, you know, by Theresa and by your kids? And I remember getting to the point by my grown kids.
All of them are thirties, early forties. They all have three kids. One, two. They are in the pinnacle of the demands on their life. And they’ve got three kids, I mean, they’ve got everything that you have. School and sports and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And down deep inside of me, and I have kind of shared this with them, I have kind of felt like, Could you guys give old dad a little more time? Could we be a little bit better connected?
And as I went through all this, what I realized is, yeah, we go on a big vacation and I text this one and I call this one. And I’ll never forget, I remember sitting in the room with my wife as I was evaluating, and it was like, “I think my kids would say, ‘My dad walked with God, my dad really loved me, my dad set a great example, my dad stayed in touch.’ I don’t think they’ll say, ‘I miss my dad.’” Their lives are so busy.
It’s not like we have a lunch, at least once a month. I want my kids to say, “I miss those Friday lunches. I miss when my dad would drive over the hill and we would just hang out. I miss the time with my dad.” See, that briefcase, it stayed so full that I’m connected, but if I keep living the way I have been living, my kids are not going to miss me. Now, I am going to have some impact around the world.
And, so, here’s what I want to ask you: What is something that you think, I don’t want that to happen? So I wrote down a truth card. Part of the reason that I have an over-scheduled life, because I don’t believe that people love me for me. I tend to believe they love me for my productivity. That’s from the enemy. That’s not true.
My wife told me it wasn’t true. My friends told me it wasn’t true. And so I wrote this on a card and I’m going to read this every day. People love me and are for me and want me to live a life of joy and rhythm and rest and fruitfulness in all areas of my life.
See, I don’t, down deep, I don’t believe that. I don’t want to ever do video because I’m afraid you guys will think I am arrogant and I don’t care. My last one was: I don’t need to prove my worth through hard work or extraordinary productivity. I am accepted and loved and greatly valued just for who I am.
My Marine dad, my workaholic past, I have lies that are still haunting me today and so I decided to identify the lies, write down the truth, and I am changing what I am doing on my path. What do you need to do to identify the lies and write down the truth and make some incremental…?
Now, one of my big things is I’m scheduling a lunch with all my adult kids once a month. Is that, like, is the whole world going to change? I’ve got three out of four so far. And you know what? And I didn’t have an agenda, and I didn’t have mild guilt, like, Oh, gosh, I wonder…??? You know? It was awesome.
And then, many of you have heard so much about Romans 12 if you have been around for seven or eight years it’s like, You know, Ingram has one chapter in the Bible. That’s all he really knows. Actually, it may be true, but what Romans 12 is is if you can’t measure something, if you don’t know where you’re at, you drift.
Here’s the thing. What incremental decision, when you look at that little stick figure: loving God, loving others, in community, on mission, before God – what do you need to do?
If you’re ridiculously responsible for your own life, imagine our church, if you will, we have a very strategic, clear, intentional plan. But since your journey is different, maybe people that have been Christians for twenty-five years have a different need than those with twenty-five days.
So we are saying, you know what?
We think the weekend services will help everyone grow as a disciple. And then we have a number of classes that, you know, different times, some of you don’t need to be in a class right now. And you’re thinking, Class and small group? I can’t do both. Don’t! But if you need some work in your marriage, go to a marriage class. If one of your teens is struggling, go to that class. If you need some fellowship…
Look it and pray it through. For others it’s: I don’t need a class. I need to be in a small group. Oh, I’m in a small group, but does that mean…oh, then people are telling me I need to be in these smaller groups and meet one-on-one.
What do you need? That’s not my job to tell you. The Spirit of God, if you’re a follower, He lives inside of you. If you would say, Lord, I’m going to gather with Your people on the weekend, and are you ready? Here’s the question: What do I need to get in this season of my life in order to become more like Jesus?
But that’s only half. Because there’s a whole ‘nother side. What do I need to give? What do I need to give in order to become like Jesus? I mean, for over half the people in America, and our church is no exception, half of you don’t give anything. You don’t give any time, you don’t give any money, you don’t do anything. You’re a consumer. And we love you. That’s how I started.
But I remember it was a big step of faith to give five dollars a week to a couple in Japan. And that started a journey where my heart changed. Some of you have been in small groups forever. You know what? You don’t need to be in a small group; you need to lead one!
For some of you, you know, it’s a class. Or some of you need to launch a group where you work. Some of you have visions and dreams and heart and someday, someway, you know, you’re going to – Launch it, start it, pray about it.
But what you need to do is ask God. What do I need to do? Are you getting this? Because, see, at the end of the day is: We are going to do this, we are going to start these groups, and I’m going to teach through Philippians and we are going to see that circumstances can’t have a stranglehold and we could be different and God’s going to work! But listening to that will not change you.
Let me give you the five aspects of a Romans 12 Christian. Number one, it means you’re surrendered to God, and that’s the channel through which His blessing flows. If you have never, at a point in time, not just said but said, “I’m all in,” and offered your body as a living sacrifice, it’s a scary proposition. But I have never seen Christian’s lives change more than when they do that.
The second is being separate from the world’s values. “Don’t be conformed to this world; be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” For some of you, if you changed what you allowed in your mind and you began to get into God’s Word and into community, how you think, it’d be like that young gal. She’s experiencing peace and purpose.
The third is to have a sober self-assessment. And, by the way, these never change. “Don’t think too highly of yourself, but think with a sober judgment.”
I have another card that says, Chip, you have limits just like everyone else. And I wrote down a lie. So embarrassing to share. And I just was raw with God. Here’s the lie I believe: Chip, other people need rest and renewal and time to be refreshed, but you are a high-energy, high-capacity person who can amaze people with your productivity.
It’s a lie from the pit of hell! I cheated for all these years. I had great time with God, great time with my family, but in my little warped mind, if I’m not up by four thirty, half the day is gone. I mean, I am one intentional, focused, crazy man!
And so are some of you in different ways. And, yes, I have channeled an awful lot of that for kingdom ventures, but the lie down deep in my heart is that that makes me an okay person. Instead of, I have a heavenly Father going, Why don’t you have some fun? Why don’t you put your feet up? Why don’t you, you know what? I have given you an awesome wife. You’ve got great kids. When was the last time you just really weren’t trying to accomplish something and enjoyed them and friends?
I can feel the Spirit moving, moving, moving, moving! What are you going to do? Serving in love. You never grow until you’re caring about others. Be devoted to one another in brotherly…devotion! It means you serve. And it can start, you don’t need to know a bunch of Bible. Be an usher, help out with the parking, help with the kids.
Last week it was kind of interesting. We had those cards out: “Who would like to serve? Would you just let us know what you like?” And we got thousands of people. We had a hundred and sixty-three cards turned in. Forgive me. This is just the Ingram. I did the percentages of what a hundred and sixty-three cards would be out of, like, five to six thousand people. And I went, Oh, God. They’re on a path. “Someone else will do it. Someone else will love. I don’t have time.” And, God, if they just knew when they give their life away, that’s when they will experience You.
This isn’t about recruiting or, “Will you do this?” Or, “We have these needs.” This is about life!
Finally, supernaturally responding to evil with good. And that is forgiving those people that have deeply hurt you and working through the process of saying, “I am not going to be an angry person on Facebook and attack other people. I am going to be an agent of light and love in the midst of a very difficult time in this country and around the world.
What path are you on? What path do you need to get on? And just you and God. Make a decision. Take some baby step toward what you have heard. Don’t try and do it all.
No one is down on you, this is the love of God saying, “Come to Me. Come to Me all of you that are burdened, stressed out, heavy-laden. I will give you rest. Take My yoke. Do life with Me! I’ll give rest to your soul.”