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Got a Problem? Get a Plan.

In Mark 6:6-13, we discover Christ's plan for solving the problem of society's unbelief. He purposed to teach truth, train others, send His followers out together with the tools for the job, instruct them to always trust in God for their needs, tarry not when their message is rejected, and encourage them to boldly testify to the grace and forgiveness available through Him.

Todd WagnerNov 12, 2000
Mark 6:6-13

Messages In This Series (10)
Jesus: You've Met the Lamb, Meet the Lion
Todd WagnerSep 23, 2001
Who is Jesus? Indifference is Not an Option
Todd WagnerSep 9, 2001
Dealing With Blindness Then & Now: His Patience With Our Problem
Todd WagnerSep 2, 2001
4000+ Satisfied Customers, 12 Still-Confused Disciples
Todd WagnerAug 26, 2001
Why a Jewish Baby Is the Best Gift Possible for a Ravenous Dog
Todd WagnerDec 17, 2000
If You Ask Jesus That, Stand Back! Because 'Pop Goes the Weasel'
Todd WagnerDec 10, 2000
Toiling in the Storm? Learn as Jesus Passes By
Todd WagnerDec 2, 2000
How to Fill Your Empty Baskets, part 2 - God Loves to Use Small Things
Todd WagnerNov 26, 2000
How to Fill Your Empty Baskets, part 1 - What You Need for Them, You Get From Him
Todd WagnerNov 19, 2000
Got a Problem? Get a Plan.
Todd WagnerNov 12, 2000

Dan Truman: So when the rogue comet hit the asteroid belt, it sent shrapnel right for us. For the next 15 days, the earth's in a shooting gallery. Even if the asteroid itself hits the water, it's still hitting land. It'll flash boil millions of gallons of sea water and slam into the ocean bedrock. Now if it's a Pacific Ocean impact, which we think it will be, it'll create a tidal wave 3 miles high, travel at a thousand miles an hour, covering California, and washing up in Denver. Japan's gone, Australia's wiped out. Half the world's population will be incinerated by the heat blast, and the rest will freeze to death from nuclear winter.

Grace Stamper: It's unbelievable.

Dan Truman: Well, actually, this is as real as it gets. Well it's coming, right now, right for us at 22,000 miles an hour. Not a soul on earth can hide from it. […] Both shuttles will take off Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Now, 67 minutes later you're gonna dock with the Russian space station to meet cosmonaut Andropov, who will refuel the shuttles with liquid O2. That's your fuel. Then you'll release and take a 60-hour trip toward the moon. Now, we only have one shot of landing on this rock...and that's precisely when the asteroid passes by the moon.

You'll then use lunar gravity and burn your thrusters, slingshotting you around the moon, coming up behind the asteroid…coming around behind the asteroid, where we're hoping that the tail debris will be cleared by the moon's gravity, and you'll land right here. […] So you drill. You drop the nuke, and you leave. Now, here's the key: You're gonna remote detonate the bomb...before the asteroid passes this plane—Zero Barrier. You do that, and the remaining pieces of rock should be deflected enough to pass right by us. Now, if the bomb explodes after Zero Barrier…game's over.

[End of audio]

You have a problem? You get a plan. Luckily, whatever problem you face this week is not a three-mile high wave that's going to take out California and go all the way to Colorado. Again, looking back on last week, there are some folks who may not see that exactly as a problem. Nonetheless, you have a problem…you have to get a plan.

This last week at my house, we've been keeping count, we've had 25 vomits. We've had 25 throw-ups starting last Sunday night. My wife went out with some girlfriends. Monday was her birthday, so Sunday night she and some friends went out. I'm lying there in bed about 10:30, and my littlest girl came up and said, "Daddy?"

I said, "Fine, come on up here." I just held her. I love to hold my little girl on my chest, my little 2-year-old Landry. I thought to myself, "Why is her hair still wet as she goes to bed?" I thought, "My goodness, so is her little nighty. She doesn't smell right, and there are carrots in her hair. Oh, Landry!" I could not believe it. Of all the nights to have a birthday party with your friends.

So I started counting, and three later, we were up to four, and I was proud to tell my wife, "Hey, I've changed the sheets a couple of times, bathed my daughter twice. We're up to four." Well, that was nothing because when Tuesday came there were seven added to it by another child, then seven more on Wednesday. My wife contributed to the count, and on and on it went. We're stuck at 25 for this week.

That was a problem. It reminded me of another problem I had. I worked up at a placed called Kanakuk for a number of years. I had just become Assistant Director at K-2, working with Joe. I was a young man who had just been given the responsibly over 400 kids and all of these counselors. Joe was not always quick to let go and necessarily leave camp. Even after giving you some responsibilities, he wanted to make sure you could handle it.

I can remember the first time Joe left for 24 hours, leaving me there at K-2 by myself, and the other director was gone. It wasn't long before a thing called the funk hit. It was similar to what went through our house this week, a highly communicable flu bug, some type of bug that hits kids for 24 hours and causes them to…expectorate, if you will, for a series of time. It's usually transferred by hands.

Kids hold hands, touch hands, play sports together, all day long. We, of course, make sure no one holds hands when they pray at that point and a lot of different showers. We make sure all of the kids are going in there, and we clean all of the areas that there's common use, as best we can. We had a real problem going on. It had spread to 20­-30 kids, and when it gets to that rate, it can multiply out pretty easily.

Word got over to K-1, and Joe's mom and dad, Spike and Darnell White, heard about it. Darnell called over to camp and asked to speak with me and said, "Todd, what's going on over there?" I said, "Well, we're about at 30 in the last 12 hours or so. We know what we have going on, and we're doing all we can to keep it from spreading."

She said, "I'll tell you what I want to do. This is as bad as I've ever heard it. I want you to get every kid in camp, and I want you to give them a suppository. That will shut it down." I said, "Excuse me?" The nurse was right there, because she had called the nurse's office. I said, "Okay, Darnell, thanks for calling. Thanks for your concern." I hung up, and the nurse looked at me, and she said, "What'd she say?" I said, "'Every kid in camp is going to throw up,' is what she said. I'm not going to tell you her plan, all right? I'd rather live with the problem than her plan."

You have a problem? You have to get a plan. Here's the problem that's gone on. We're working our way through the gospel of Mark, if you've not been here before. It's the story of the life of Jesus Christ, and specifically it's talking about how he's a great servant, and how he made some claims that have been affirmed through what he has done, not just what he said. This Jesus has affirmed some of who he claimed to be by his works, so his words and his work match up.

Yet, in the face of all of that, you're going to find out that he has a problem. Let's go back to Mark, chapter 6, and take a look at it. Here's the problem. It says everywhere he went, whether it was a rebellious leadership filled with unbelief…even friends and family who were filled with unbelief… It wasn't even too long ago, if you've been with us, that those who had been with him for a year weren't sure who he was. They were filled with unbelief.

We have a problem after now, a good solid year of pretty dynamic, powerful ministry, he still had people all around him who were unbelieving, who did not respond to the message of truth, of hope, of forgiveness, and redemption that he came to bring. He had come to seek and to save the lost, and the way he was going to seek and save the lost was through the responding to his offer of a relationship with God through him. And folks didn't believe, so the trouble continued.

What I want to do today is read you through what Jesus decided to do. When he was faced with unbelief, with all those who were around him, here came his plan. Let's see if we can't learn something. It says,

"… [he] summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt—but to wear sandals; and He added, 'Do not put on two tunics.'

And He said to them, 'Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.' They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them."

Here's the problem: unbelief. Here's the plan. Are you ready? I'll walk you through it. I just had some fun with it this week. I gave it seven T's. Though the exact way we go about executing this plan is a little bit different, the seven T's still hold true. The way that he had them very specifically at this time…He sent them out, and you'll find over there in verse 30, he brought them back to give a report and to give an account for how they did at executing his plan.

You're going to see a parallel. The parallel for us is that we've also been given a charge. God still has a plan for today. He doesn't tell you to go out with the exact same things, but he tells you to go out in the exact same manner, with the exact same authority. He wants you one day to give an account for how you did on your little journey in the midst of a lot of unbelief.

I'll tell you what Christ didn't do: he didn't panic. The very first thing he did when he was filled with unbelief was teach. He went right to people who were filled with darkness, who were stumbling over their own self-will, their own self-dependence, their own self-destruction. He said, "I'm going to shine light into their dark world. I'm going to teach you. I'm going to take the lamp of God's Word, and I'm going to put it in your path. I'm going to give you a chance to respond to it."

He sowed the Word into their lives. "He was going around the villages teaching," Mark 6:6 says. The very first thing Jesus did is go out and teach. He would teach everywhere that he could, but he also knew that everywhere he taught, there were a lot of other places that folks weren't hearing the message. You're going to find out in a minute that he was going to multiply himself out, but from the very beginning, he was about communicating God's Word.

A number of years later, because his plan to teach and to reach was effective, you have a guy by the name of Paul. He wrote these things. This is what it says in Romans, chapter 10. He talks about how you come into a relationship with God; it's through belief. When you believe, you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. When you do that, you will be reconciled, restored into relationship with God. We use the word saved, saved from your own destructive ends.

He says, "… for with the heart a man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." **Follow with me now. Verse 11:" For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be disappointed.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?"**

Christ came to seek and save the lost, but there were some folks that hadn't heard the message, and there was unbelief everywhere, so Jesus was going to teach them. He was going to take the Word, and he was going to lay it out. Paul says, "How can they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good news!'"

Paul comments that it was the circumstance of many people that even in the face of teaching, there was still unbelief. Men suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. They did not all heed the glad tidings. As Isaiah said, "Lord, who has believed our report?" But Paul knew what Jesus knew, and that's that faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes by the word of Christ.

The very first thing Jesus does in the face of unbelief is…what? What's his plan? It's to teach. If his heart is to use his Word to bring about correction, to bring about reproof, to train so that every man and woman can be equipped and adequate for everything God wants them to be, how important is it that we know the message we're to teach? There's a great passage in 2 Timothy 2:15 which says to be diligent (in other words, work at) to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who handles accurately the Word of truth.

Peter wrote in his epistle, "Listen, you have to apply yourself to this book because there are many things here that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort." James says, "Let not many of you be teachers," and here's the reason he says that: If you believe something, then you're responsible for what you believe, but if you propagate that belief and pass on a belief, then you also are encouraging others down that same road of error that you're on. So he says, "Be careful, for teachers shall incur stricter judgment."

Timothy makes it clear that not only do they incur a stricter judgement, but teachers receive a special blessing. I want to say this to you: Please, when you think of teachers, don't just think of guys like me. Every single one of us is espousing a worldview. Every single one of us is passing off some strategy, some program in life, to make it through this life, to find abiding peace, abiding hope, abiding joy, a reason to live.

Every single one of us, in some form or fashion, is either denying the reality of a creator God who we're accountable to or is preparing rightly for a meeting with that creator God or preparing wrongly for a meeting with that creator God. We are modeling for others a path through which they should follow, whether we mean to or not.

It's not enough to say, "Hey, I'm not a role model. Don't follow me." You need to realize. Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right: in some way, every man is your teacher. I learn from people I'm with all the time. Sometimes I learn that that's not the way to live, not the way to think, not the way to reason, but they teach. You teach. The question is: Are you teaching rightly?

It's important, Jesus said, in the midst of unbelief, to teach. You have a world that right now is as spiritually hungry as we've seen in the last 150 years, and they're looking for somebody to lead them. Many of them are waiting for Oprah to suggest another book that they can read and have another guest on that they can follow. Spiritual seeking is in today like never before. Folks are looking for somebody that has hope, that has an answer, that has a lamp for their feet and a light for their path.

Before I leave this teach idea, I want to share with you. One of our friends recently has begun to mature in Christ…had never been discipled, knew the Lord for a while, but just for the first time has come into a body where we really are purposeful about admonishing every man and teaching every man, that we may present every man, as Todd said so well earlier, complete in Jesus Christ.

I've been meeting with him on a weekly basis, and he's been working his way through some different stuff and getting his arms around the person of Christ…why he came, who he was, what he did. He's been memorizing some Scripture; he's been learning how to study different books of the Bible.

Literally, after just about 12 weeks of this, he was put in a situation on a retreat where he was gathered with six or seven other men, most of them 20 to 30 years older than he was. They sat around, and one of the things they did was discuss life. Their own life, where it has been and where it is going… He said he was absolutely dumbfounded at the lack of wisdom that was represented by those other men around the table.

He said, "Todd, I'm 12 weeks into this thing, and you wouldn't believe how those guys listened to me. I didn't know a lot of verses, but every one that I turned to… I opened up my Bible, and I suggested some things. I read the Scriptures to them. They looked at me, and they said, 'How do you know that? We talk about a topic and you know where to go. God's Word has spoken to us. We don't have to trust the best opinions of men, but we have a more sure Word from God.'"

It was a deal where this guy felt, like never before, God was using him to teach. He was more encouraged than ever to learn. Do you know that everywhere you go, there are people who are anxious and willing to consider truth? All men love truth. They might argue with you about what that is, but they want to know that you have an opinion about truth and that you've thought about it and why you believe what it is you believe.

How are you doing as a teacher this week? If you're in the group of six or seven men, what could you share? If you're put into a position to shepherd or elder somebody (and you will be this week), are you ready to teach? Are you diligent to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who can handle accurately the Word of truth?

If you're looking for somebody to read, I'd recommend reading some of the works of Elisabeth Elliot. She's written a number of great things. Discipline: The Glad Surrender. She wrote a story about her husband and several men called Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot which tells their story of going to Ecuador and ministering to the Auca Indians and different things. She wrote a book called Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under God's Control about a passion for Christ and how we pursue purity in this life because of our passion for Christ.

I've heard Elisabeth Elliot before being asked this question. They said, "Elisabeth, when you got the call as a beautiful, young single woman to go and leave the suburbs of Chicago and to go over to the jungles of Ecuador to minister to a bunch of cannibals who eventually killed the love of your life, how in the world were you ready to say, 'yes'?" When you hear that call, you go, "There's no way." That's the fact why some of us don't want to learn anything; we're afraid God's going to send us there. Right?

Elisabeth said, "Let me tell you something. God did not save me and the next day call me to jungles of Ecuador." You need to know this. I've known the Lord for 20 years. I've been diligent, as best I can, constantly improving in my effort to be diligent, to show myself approved. I've never got the call to a jungle anywhere."

What she said is, "You need to do this. Do what you need to do today so that whatever the call is next week, you're ready to say, 'yes.' I was no special person. For me to say 'yes' to Ecuador was not a big thing; it was just the next step. The tragedy would have been had I walked with the Lord, and he wanted to build into me for 12 years to get me to the place where he increased the passion and the desire of my heart for unreached people…

Had I not what I needed to do those 12 years, when he asked me, I would have been so unprepared and so unready that I would have said 'no,' or I would have been overwhelmed when I got there. Don't admire my decision to say, 'yes.' For me, it wasn't a long reach to get there; it was just the next step. I don't know what God wants to do with you, but take the step he wants you to take today."

Chances are that most of you are not going to get a call from Bill Maher this week to be put on Politically Incorrect to defend Judeo-Christian worldviews against the mockery they put out against you. But if you get that call in six years, will you be six more years ready? I don't know what the opportunity is going to be for you this week, but here's the tragedy.

If you don't do what you need to do today to get as ready as you can for that chance you have to teach, don't be frustrated that you can't teach tomorrow in some worldwide debate to defend the claims of Christ, but do be convicted if you're not doing what you need to do today so when God has you in the place he wants you in a week, in a month, in a year, in a decade, that you're not ready to take that next step.

That friend came back from that thing, and he said, "I am more committed to learning the Word than ever before because what little I had, I gave it all, and they loved it. I know now that I need to be more prepared. I could have done so much more. My goal is, in 20 or 30 years when I'm in a situation like that with those men, that I can give them 30 more years of encouragement than I gave them after these 12 weeks." That is a perfect attitude. That's what a fully devoted follower of Christ does. Are you ready to teach?

Jesus knew if he was teaching someplace, then he wasn't teaching somewhere else, and so he summoned the Twelve. He was committed to training, and I just simply ask you this: Where are your men? Where are the folks that you're pouring yourself into? Whatever you know, I would encourage you right away that the greatest way to grow yourself is to be able to give to somebody else, to teach somebody else, to encourage somebody else with whatever you know. Be one chapter ahead of them; that's all you need.

I was talking to a friend this week who's been really making some great strides in his life, and I said, "The next step for you is to get somebody underneath you who is counting on you to model for them, teach them, godliness and righteousness. When you do that, your maturity is going to explode."

Paul said it this way in 2 Timothy 2:2: "These things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Jesus' program, in the midst of a world of unbelief (can you relate to that?), was to teach with gentleness and reverence. To teach. And then not just to teach yourself, but to make sure when you're one place, somebody else who you've poured yourself into is somewhere else.

We have a problem, gang, that is much greater than a tidal wave that's three miles high that's going to wash up to the shores of California. We have a world that is full of unbelief, that doesn't know that something much more powerful than a tidal wave will come one day that they're going to have to deal with. Game will be over, and there is no one, as Billy Bob said, who is going to escape it. That's a real problem, so Jesus came up with a plan: teach and train.

I am so encouraged at the guys that I talk to on a weekly basis who are investment bankers who are traveling around the world soliciting advertising campaigns for Fortune500 companies, who are starting Internet companies, who are professionals in medical offices around town, who are attorneys in court rooms, who I've had the privilege of building myself into.

They get to go places in this city and this world that I'll never be. They get to declare the passion of my heart and the passion of the King's heart and the truth of this Word partly because of my little bit of faithfulness in pouring into them. I get to take my message to Nacogdoches today through a friend who I've built into. I get to take my message today to some places in Oklahoma.

I have some folks who I've built into who are in California, by the grace of God, and so can you. Today, there are places that I'll never have an opportunity… There are offices all around this city on Monday that I could never get in; it would be totally inappropriate. But faithful men and women take the message, and they go there, and they share it where they are.

About 10 or 15 days ago, I was in Chicago, and I bumped into the guy who was responsible for teaching me. He asked me how things were going, and this gentleman, 20 years ago, took a very difficult to be around 15- or 16-year-old kid and just loved him into understanding truth. He taught me with his life, and he taught me with the Scriptures.

Then he spent some time training me after I came to understand the truth. I looked at him, and I said, "You need to know this. Everything I do in Dallas, Texas, in God's great pyramid scheme, is chasing itself right back to where you are in Minnesota. You have a fantastic ministry that's going on in some people's lives in Dallas, and I want to thank you for the privilege of being a part of your faithfulness."

Jesus' program was not just to teach himself. We ought to be teachers, but we also ought to be trainers. It's more important, if you will, to train a soul-winner than to be a soul-winner. It's more important to be a reproducer of reproducers than it is just to be a reproducer. We have a wall three miles high of trouble that a lot of folks are going to face, and there's a problem. What's Jesus' plan? The first thing is he'sgoing toteach. The second thing is he's going to train others to teach.

Thirdly, it says, "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs…" He didn't just say, "Go teach." He didn't just say, "Train." The third thing he said is, "I want you to do it together." There's a reason he wanted them to do it together. The first reason is because it gave some credibility.

This is what it says in 2 Corinthians. Paul wrote, "This is the third time I'm coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses." That goes all the way back to the book of Deuteronomy. Again and again… You'll see it in 1 Timothy that you shouldn't receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. When you talk about church discipline…

I'll share with you a pet peeve of mine. Again and again, you'll hear folks at prayers (I'll save you a little bit of embarrassment at a family reunion)… Whenever folks get together to pray, folks always say, "Lord, you have told us whenever two or three are gathered in your name, you will be there with them." That's not a verse that really has anything to do with prayer. It has to do with the authority of the church.

When God brings two or three followers of Christ together to confirm that, yes, that's what God's Word teaches, and that's what God's Word proclaims, and we should live according to it… When he brings agreement in the church, then the authority of God is with them. That's what it's talking about.

The only reason it bothers me when they say, "Whenever two or three are gathered in your name, you're there with them," you need to know this. Christ's offer was "I will be with you always wherever you go, not just when you're with a couple of other folks." He's always there. Christ is there with you when you're alone in the quietness of your bedroom, just praying.

The authority of the church is there when there's agreement because there is wisdom in counsel. There's wisdom when a group of men sit together in judgement and discernment as they confront a brother in love. It's a context of church discipline, not prayer. A little sidebar…

Two or three witnesses…that's how it's confirmed. The very first reason he told them to go out together was so that there would be some credibility. This isn't some just some harebrained guy making his way through town, but there are a couple of folks that are there to say, "We have met the Messiah, this one that the Jews have heard about for a long time.

He is here, and guess what? The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear. Hope is coming to the land. We know the one who is Wonderful Counselor. We know the one who is full of everlasting peace. We know the one who is mighty God. Yeshuah…Messiah is here in our midst." They declared the words he had said and talked about the works he had done.

One of the reasons God sent them out together, I will tell you. We are told to not go at it alone. "Do not forsake your own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another and that all the more as you see the day drawing near," the writer of Hebrews said a little bit later. The reason Jesus doesn't want to do it alone is not just for the issue of credibility, but for a number of other reasons as well: to encourage one another, that we might not get discouraged on the way, that we might have some protection. Look what it says in Ecclesiastes:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."

I'll tell you, gang. There is no such thing as an individual who is a member of the body of Christ who does not need a body. We talk about this…you'll hear us talk about it on December 2. Those of you who have already been to a Discover Watermark class have heard me mention it. You are called a member of God's household, a member of his body.

What happens if something happens to this arm, and we lay it over there on the other side of the stage? You guys would look at me with my body here and my arm over there, and you would go, "That is a tragedy." My appendage is not attached where it should be. What do we call it when an arm is severed? You are dismembered. It's grotesque, and it's repulsive, and it's tragic.

The reason that we're so passionate about community and calling you into real-life relationship with other people is because God wants us to go through this thing together. No man should do it alone, no woman should do it alone, but we should go at this thing together because there's increased credibility. It's not just one guy standing on an island screaming out something he thinks is true, but there's a group of us who have experienced the words and works of Jesus Christ. We can encourage each other, and we can protect each other and sustain each other.

There's another reason. We can have an opportunity, and what's that opportunity? Jesus said it himself. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another…" That wasn't new; that goes all the way back to Deuteronomy 6. He says, "…even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples."

When you go with somebody else… I want to tell you something. There are very few testimonies that are as powerful. In fact, a guy named Francis Schaeffer called it the final apologetic. An apologetic is a reason to believe. Francis Schaeffer said something like, "The final apologetic is the love that we have, one for another." That old tired camp song, "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they will know we are Christians by our love. We will walk with one another; we will walk hand in hand…"

How are we doing at walking together, really loving each other through the hurts, the struggles, the pains, the confusion, the uncertainty, the insecurity? The world is dying for a place where they can come and be who they really are, to find people who are authentic, find people who love them, and find people who have found truth. When you go and people watch you with others, love and serve each other…

I have a group of guy friends that I've had for about 15 years. We meet together regularly still. When we talk to other friends who we're ministering to about how one of the greatest influences in our lives is this group of friends, we have all guys say the exact same thing. "Can I be a part of that group? I'd love to be a part of that group. I would love something like that in my life." They're drawn to our commitment to one another.

We butt some serious heads. We don't always get along. You should see some of these guys; they are very difficult to like. I see a few of them out there. At times, I know I annoy the socks off of them. Someone talks too much. Someone doesn't ever say anything. Someone always has to initiate. We have all of this little conflict at times in our group of committed friends, but I want to tell you something. I believe our love for one another really is a part of what God uses to encourage people.

I love nothing more than meeting folks who don't have a clue about what followers of Christ look like and then to introduce them to my friends…Kirk, Scott, Skin, Beau, and Keith… I love nothing more than to say, "You need to come and get to know these guys." They are consistently surprised at the quality of our relationship, at the grace we exhibit toward one another, at the fun we still have, at the love that exists between some men who, left to themselves, are very self-willed. The way that we reconcile and make a great effort… It takes a great amount of time, sometimes like having four more wives. I don't need that.

When you go together, there's power and there's opportunity. Jesus said, "I want you to go. I want you to teach. I want you to train. I want you to go at it together." Then he gave them some tools. He didn't leave them out there all by themselves. The worst thing in the world is if somebody gives you the wrong tools.

I have a great story this week I want to share with you right here; it made me laugh. It talks about a shepherd who was out in the field, tending his flock. All of a sudden, this guy in a BMW drove up, dressed to the nines and looking all sharp. He looked at the shepherd, looked out over the flock, and he said, "Let me ask you a question. If I tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?" The shepherd thought, "Well, I may as well entertain myself. Sure, go for it."

The guy parks his car, whips out his notebook, connects it to his cell phone, searches the NASA webpage on the Internet, calls up a GPS satellite navigation system, scans the area, opens up a database, and some 60 Excel spreadsheets shoot out and complex formulas. Finally, he prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech miniaturized computer. He turns around to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1,568 sheep."

The shepherd goes, "Well, that's pretty impressive; that's correct. As I agreed, you can have one of my sheep." He watches the young guy walk over and make a selection, bundle it up, and put it back in his BMW. As he watches him do it, he looks at the guy and says, "Hey can I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"If I tell you what you do for a living, can I have my sheep back?"

"Sure."

"All right, you're a consultant."

"That's amazing! How did you know that?"

"Well, easy. You turned up here, although nobody called you, you want to be paid for the answer to a question I already knew the solution to, and you don't know jack squat about sheep, because you took my dog. Now give him back."

It sounds like somebody has had a consultant in their office lately…trying to lose some steam there. The consultant came with all of these tools that were going to be a solution to this guy's problem, but they weren't the right tools. Jesus doesn't give tools like that; he gave them exactly what they needed.

He gave them the authority they needed over unclean spirits, and he instructed them what to do. He didn't leave them out there, but he laid out for them the plan. He said, "This is what I want you to do." He taught, he trained, he told them to go at it together, and then he gave them what they need to be effective in the job and to be successful at what he called them to do.

For us, the tools he gave are very different. This is what Paul wrote, again in 2 Corinthians: "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…" In other words, we don't have this great array of tools ourselves, but everything we need, God has given us.

I love the statement that the greatest confidence we have, that we can do something, is that God has called us to do it. "God doesn't call those that are qualified," one man said. "He qualifies those that he calls." Paul said that God has made us adequate. He made us adequate as servants of this truth, this new covenant. He said we're passionate about declaring it. Everything we need…

He didn't just tell us what we're to preach and how we're to preach it, but he said he gave us the authority to go. A few chapters later in 2 Corinthians 5:20, it says: "And you are Christ's ambassadors…" What's an ambassador except one who has been invested with the authority of the president to go to another country and represent the rule of law of the United States in a different land?

Christ has given you and me everything we need, all the tools that we have. He says, "I don't leave you as orphans." He says, "Go, and I will be with you always, even to the end of the age. After you leave, the Spirit, the Helper, the Counselor will come alongside of you and provide for you what you need." You need to know this. If you're out there trying to live a godly life on your own, you're not taking advantage of his tools.

They're called fruit of the Spirit, which means God has given us everything necessary pertaining to godliness if we just trust what he's given us instead of trying to do it for him and using our own tools of discipline, good behavior, and a real fervor instead of learning to trust in him and abide in him.

There was a problem, and the problem was unbelief. Jesus had a plan. The plan was to teach, to know what to teach and to make sure you taught it. To train others to teach. To tell them not to go at it alone but to do it together and, having done it together, to make sure they had the tools that were necessary to be successful at the job.

There's another little section we have right here. He tells them that they were to go, and he instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey except a mere staff. No bread, no bag, no money in their belt, but to wear sandals, and he added, "Do not put on two tunics." All he was going to say right there is, "Don't go shopping. Don't go load up. Don't take a bag. Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. You trust me, and by the way, you make sure you're committed to the mission and not committed to self.

When you go into a town and the hospitality of the day, somebody will take you in. When you get there and you come into a town, you stay there in that house. Don't wait until somebody richer in a nicer part of town comes and says, 'You can stay with me.' Don't put yourself in a position where you will be accused of using your privilege as a messenger of the gospel as a means to get up to the nicest house in town. If somebody greets you first, you stay there until you're done because you're there proclaim the message. You're not there to be devoted to self."

So very practically, so that the message in no way would be discredited, he told them, "Wherever you start, you stay until you're done. Don't fleece the flock. Don't look for a better deal." He told them to trust. He said, "Depend upon me. Don't go out and get all of your provision; just go." It's interesting; if you look at the last time God told a people to go, he took them out of slavery, just like he took these guys out of slavery of sin.

He took the nation of Israel; they were stuck in Egypt, and he released them through his miraculous work. He told them to go into the desert, and he said, "Don't gather a lot of things. You just take your sandals, the cloak that's on your back, and your staff, and you head into the desert."

What happened? When God took his people, who were his possession, called for his purposes into the desert the last time to put in the land where they would proclaim him and declare among the nations his glory, what did God do for those people? If you know anything about your Old Testament, God provided for them in the desert, and that's exactly what God is going to do again. He said, "At this point, in this particular day and age, on this particular program, for this plan, you go, and I will take care of you."

They were on a mission from God, if you will, and so they knew they could trust him. They didn't have to wait for some provision to all come in. God told them to go and he would care for them to authenticate that they were in fact from him. "Trust in me."

There's a story of a bunch of kids in first grade. The teacher says, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" One kid says, "I want to be a doctor like my daddy." Another kid says, "I want to be a teacher like you, Ms. Jones." One kid stands up and says, "I want to be a lion tamer in the circus. I want to go into the cage with man-eating beasts, and I want to tame them with a chair and my whip and bring those lions to submission."

All of the other kids in the class were stunned that this guy would go into a cage with a lion when he got older. He looked and he saw the fear on the faces of everybody who was out there, and he said, "Well, of course, I'm going to have my mom with me." Just so they'd understand why he was so bold…

I feel like that sometimes. One of my favorite songs, it's an old one called "The Warrior Is a Child" by Twila Paris. It talks about how this great warrior that everybody sees you put on your sword and go out and do this great battle, tame the lions… The song says, "They don't know that sometimes I go, and I lay my armor down, and I get on my knees, and I weep." "The Warrior Is a Child" is the song.

I have to tell you guys: I don't care how many times I share my faith on an airplane, how many times I share my faith with a neighbor, how many times I broach that subject again with a family member who has at times seen me be very self-willed, it scares me to death. But I have my "mom" with me. I'm trusting him. I know he's called me there. I feel like I was, at times, put in places where I go, "My goodness, what am I doing talking to this person? They are a professional atheist. They have their black belt in doubt. How can I take them on?"

It's not my job to take them on; it's my job to be faithful, to go where God has put me…somebody in my path…just love them the best I can, share with them the truth that I know, and purpose to train myself more so I can teach more effectively the next time. You guys think I like to tame lions? You look at other people that are lion tamers… If they are people God uses, they're there because they're with their "mom." They have confidence because they're with Christ, and they trust in him.

Teach and train together with the tools he's given you, trusting in him for his provision… Here's the next one: don't hang around long. "And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them." In other words, tarry not. Go there and give your message. If they reject it, don't sit there and beat your head up against that cold wall.

You do what the Jews did when they would leave a non-Jewish territory. The Jews were a very proud people in that day and age. Whenever they would walk out of their strict, devoted Holy Land, upon leaving Gentile, or non-Jewish, territory, they would take their sandals off and bang them together so they wouldn't drag any unholy dust with them back into Israel. It was a sign of judgement, that you were a godless people. You don't know the God of life, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Jesus said to people who would understand what it meant, "If you go and you proclaim to them that their Messiah is here, and they reject that message, then don't waste your time. In love, you move on. You just knock the dust off your sandals when you leave, and they'll know what it means." It's a sign of judgement.

I grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. Every year when the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, you'll sometimes see the guys on Fox Sports talk with the different big high school games that are played on Thanksgiving Day. The high school I went to, Kirkwood in St. Louis, Missouri, had a football game against Webster. It's the oldest high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi.

I had a teacher who was a very good friend, actually, named Dave Holly. He came down, went to SMU, and played basketball there. Dave was a classic Kirkwood Pioneers fan. Dave Holly would never say the word Webster without spitting. That was our big rival. Kirkwood Pioneers against the Webster Statesmen, and he hated the Statesmen…a little bit in fun.

Every time somebody said in his class the name Webster, they had to get up and go and expectorate right there in the trash can. That was his way of shaking the dust off of his feet. Every time he drives through College Station, to this day, he stops, and he washes his car before he gets far out of that town. It is amazing. It's just his little deal. No, it isn't…

That's what Jesus was saying right there. He says, "Tarry not." Those things are in fun, but Jesus says this is serious business. You proclaim the message, and don't beat your head against the stone wall. Don't cast your pearls before swine. You do it with gentleness, you do it with reverence, but tarry not.

Lastly, he said, "Make sure you know the message that you're there to testify." He says, "They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them." Very quickly, let me show you…this is the pattern of John the Baptist in Mark 1.

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. "Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'"

You testify to the truth of God. I know it's not always a real wonderful message that men have to leave their self-trust, their self-will, their self-dependence, their own trust in their works, in their acts of holiness, in their sacrifices and in their sacraments, in their giving, in their abstinence, in their Bible reading, in their church attendance…

You tell them to repent of their good works and to turn to God, crying out for mercy, to acknowledge that they are poor in spirit, and that God is holy and they are not, and if God didn't make a way for them to be restored to him, they were going to be bankrupt. They are in need of a Savior, and that Savior has come, and his name is Jesus.

That word repent is not so tied up in your activity. It's a word called metanoeō which simply means meta, change. A metamorphous rock is a changed rock; it's changed in its body. A person who has had a repentant experience is somebody who has had a change of mind, somebody who has been corrected and reproved by the Word of God, who will now learn to trust in the Lord with all their heart and lean not on their own understanding, but in all their ways acknowledge him, knowing that he will make their path straight.

Do you know that message? Do you know what it is that you're to testify? One of the classes that I would encourage you… The very first class to get in is a class called Outbreak. You can learn in a very clear, concise way, in a way that according to your giftedness, how you can share that message of repentance. God loves you and wants to know you and wants to restore you into a relationship with him.

There's his plan. There was a huge problem; there was unbelief. Jesus had a plan. I have to tell you something. It's a very similar plan, executed differently, that he wants us to be about today. Are you teaching this week? Are you training folks this week? Are you doing it alone, or are you doing it together? Are you trusting in the tools he has given you, or are you trusting in self to be an effective person? Are you trusting him? Do you know the message that you're to declare and to testify? Let's pray.

Lord, I think about your words that you left for us. You told us that as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, that we're to put on a heart of compassion, of kindness, of humility, of gentleness and patience. We're to bear with one another, forgive each other. If we ever complain against one another, we're to forgive each other, just as you should. We're to go in our togetherness. We're to declare that we have been changed men. We're to love as you loved, and that's going to give us a great opportunity, great encouragement, great authority.

We thank you, Lord, that we don't have to wonder if you want us to go and if we have the tools to be effective but that you have given us the authority. You have called us your ambassadors. We are ministers, each one of us, of reconciliation. We are together, as followers of Christ, a kingdom of priests, and we trust in you.

Lord, I thank you for the training that is represented by many in this room. I thank you that many people in this room are well taught and are able teachers. I thank you that you have given us many resources…many tunics, many staffs, lots of sandals. We know this: if we trust in any of that, we won't be effective for you.

As a group of people, we come to you today, and we just say, "Lord, I pray that we would more often feel like that kid in the lions' cage." The world would go, "Man, you're crazy to step in there." Except we're in there with one who is going to make sure everything is okay, and that one is you.

We want to turn to you and trust in you. We want to declare what you've told us to declare, even in the face of lions because you love those lions that roar against your Word. They roar that they don't need you and roar against us who preach what seems to be a very exclusive and narrow way to heaven.

Father, I thank you that you have saved us and allowed us to be a part of declaring that truth. I pray for folks who are out there today who hear the testimony, again, of the Messiah, whose words were that he came to seek and save the lost, and whose works were to go on a cross that there might be a sufficient sacrifice for their debt and that he was raised from the grave as evidence that his sacrifice was acceptable.

Today, I and my friends can declare and testify that this Jesus whom was crucified is your Savior. I pray today that there would be a heart out there that would just turn, that would come. It would be a part of, Father, your program, your plan that they would be forgiven, and that they would then begin to have their mind changed in accordance with their heart, and that they would repent and begin to trust in you and lean not on their own understanding.

For those of us that know, I pray that we would with boldness sing that sweet song all across this land, that we would do it together, and that the world, in grace, would respond. We thank you that in the face of unbelief, you have a plan.


About 'Gospel According to Mark, Volume 3'

The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 6:6 through Mark 8:38.