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2 Timothy 2:2 tells us that our success in God's eyes will be determined by our successors. What are we doing today to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ? Todd reviews some encouraging stories of discipleship and then walks us through ten disciple-making steps Paul gave to Timothy.
Your Story Ain't Over Yet: Ten Ways to Make the Next Chapters Better
Warriors and Their Arrows: Caring Both for Children in Our Families and Those with Childlike Faith
Luke Friesen: Since coming here about a year ago, I've been so impacted by the body of Christ. I can't come here without smiling and seeing 20 people that I love. You're making a difference in my life. Thanks for making room for me.
Jay Reed and Family: Thanks for making room for us!
Troy Patterson: Through this time here at Watermark, God has been teaching me how to be a better husband, a better father.
Ashley Marie Brandenburg: I came to truly know and understand and accept salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Allen Hankins: Man, I just have seen God do a work in my life and begin to heal not only myself but relationships with others.
Allyson Black: Having been through a divorce, I was left just not trusting God, and I came to Watermark. I remember Todd said something about college football from the day before, and it had me hooked. Once I continued coming here to Watermark, I heard about The Porch, and between Watermark and The Porch, I've done a 180 and am no longer walking away from Christ but just running toward him and trusting in his grace and love and mercy for all of us. So thank you, Watermark, for making room for me.
Allen: Thanks for making room for me.
Ashley Marie: Thanks for making room for me.
Troy: Thanks for making room for us.
Mike Jacobson: Coming here and to DivorceCare has given me a place to come out of that isolation.
Nancy Strasner: I've really seen just changes in myself that I've needed to make.
Robert Thongsavanh: Nine years ago, I converted to Christianity. I was a former atheist. The Lord had used a guy in the gym who I met there to share Christ with me.
Daniel Montenegro: Hitting middle school and high school was pretty tough. I started doing drugs and drinking, and I was always looking for something else.
Robert: After that, I had some pain and some hurts and hang-ups here at Watermark and chose to walk away from my faith.
Daniel: It went from smoking pot to taking pills to doing cocaine to snorting heroin.
Robert: The guy who led me to Christ nine years ago was walking by and just called out my name. I turned around and looked at him, and there he was. He said, "Hey, where have you been? I've been looking for you. What are you doing?"
Daniel: I just didn't want to do it anymore. I wanted something else.
Robert: About a month later, after doing what I was doing, I was so tired of it. I called him and said, "Hey, my life is a wreck, and I need to meet with you. I need some help."
Daniel: I found out about Watermark through iamsecond.com. I was driving down the street one day, and I saw an "I Am Second" sign.
Robert: As much as I said I hated his people and I hated church and I hated God, the one thing that I knew was so important was I missed Jesus Christ so much, because I knew what he did for me in my life.
Daniel: After meeting with a bunch of people, I've come to find that everybody has issues. Everybody has problems, and no matter how big they are or even how insignificant or small, there's somebody out there who wants to help, and God is always there.
Mike: I thank you for making room for me.
Nancy: Thanks for making room for me.
Robert: Thanks for making room for me…again.
Daniel: Six months ago, I was a drug addict. Fifteen days ago, I was an alcoholic. Two days ago, I accepted Christ into my life. So thanks for making room for me.
[End of video]
If you have been around for a while, you have seen that before. The tragedy of those "Thanks for making room for me" videos is that we only show them once. That's one of close to a dozen of those we've made, and then we haven't done one for probably six months. We showed that one before. That one was almost a year ago. Part of the idea was that we would then make room for others, which, to remind you, we still are in the process of doing just that.
You may not have known it, but last Sunday, as an example, at 11:00, there were 700 people who were here who were not in this room, who were in the lobby area, the overflow room up there in the Loft and in the Chapel. We had personal conversations with more than a handful of people who said, "I don't care what's going on here. It's not worth it. I've been shuffled to three different rooms, and they still have asked me to sit on the floor."
You go, "Well, bro, come at 9:30, because there's a seat next to me right now." I just want to say thank you for coming now. Thank you for those who come at 5:30 when you come. Even a number of weeks at 9:30 we've had folks in many other rooms, even as we do this morning. Thank you guys who are in the Loft this morning.
But that's not why I showed that video this morning. I didn't show that video because it was one of the ones we all respond to. Every one of those "Thanks for making room for me" videos we've responded to. I showed that to you because we are now probably eight months on this side of showing that for the first time, and what I want to do this morning is tell you some of the stories that were in that "Thanks for making room for me" video.
I could go on about individuals who have come to know Christ here who are now in leadership positions in this church, because we're not just making room for folks so they can come on Sunday mornings. This is a church that is committed to measuring its success the way Christ said every church should measure success: by our ability to be and make disciples.
Our heart is that when you come here, wherever you're at in your walk with the Lord, you will move deeper into your devotion to him. There will be more of Christ in you, that your life will increasingly be a life of glory, that your marriage would be transformed, that your children would have a different kind of leader, that your community would have a different kind of servant, that this world would have a different type of giver to it.
I want to share with you a couple of stories. Daniel, just because of the fact that he got tatted up early in life and has the classic experience of some of the darkness… Daniel is one of the stars, if you will, of that little "Thanks for making room for me" video. Today, Daniel doesn't quite look exactly like he did. Here's a picture of Daniel today, who has come here. He checked a box, as he said, about, "I want to know more about how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ."
We shared the gospel with Daniel. He made a profession just two days before he shot that video with us. He then went and got involved in our Equipped Disciple program and did Equipped Disciple 1, Equipped Disciple 2, Equipped Disciple 3, and today, Daniel is in Ireland as a missionary, talking about and sharing Christ with folks who are there.
Now, what I love about that is when Daniel was here in Dallas he was a missionary and was part of folks coming to know Christ here. He's actually part of this thing called The World Race, where for 11 months he's in 11 different countries one month at a time. This month he's in Ireland, just further equipping himself, giving himself a vision for what God is doing around the world, so when he comes back here he can be more passionate about raising up disciples right here.
Robert Thongsavanh, who was in that video, came to Christ a year after Watermark started. He talked about his journey away. Today, Robert and a group of folks who are in his community and friends who are here at Watermark have been asked to lead a church here locally, and at first just to lead some small groups. They said, "Our pastor is not here. Would you teach on Sunday mornings?"
Now this church is starting to say, "Hey, we need to understand where guys like you are being reached and discipled. We've lost our full impact in this community." We're in the middle of discussing with them partnering in order that we might continue to further the work God began in them and to bring it to full completion and to help them excel still more. Robert is not with us this morning because he's preaching somewhere else today.
I got an email last week at the Connecting Point class that was here. A guy came up to me and talked about how a couple of men had built into him as he was going through a very tough time. He was involved in a divorce. One of the men who loved on him, who reached out to him, who showed up at a hearing he was at where he thought he was going to be all alone…
A guy he had met here just a few times showed up at the hearing and loved him, one of the gentlemen who was in that "Thanks for making room for me" video, a man whose life was encouraged and changed and strengthened here, and now he is comforting others with the comfort with which he himself has been comforted.
We're not just making room for folks to come hang out with us on Sunday mornings. At least I'm not. If you're here this morning hanging out with me, I want to tell you something. I've said it before. We want to jack with you. We want the Spirit of God to absolutely invade your life and to interrupt any coasting along that is going on or we want to come behind where you're headed and accelerate all that God is accomplishing in your life.
God's program for you, God's plan for you, God's desire for you is not just that you would be plucked out of certain destruction but that you would become useful to him and a means of grace and life to others. We are a church of disciples that measures its success only by its ability to grow our own Christlikeness in our lives and how God then uses us to bring others into a relationship with him where they can learn the ways of life through Jesus Christ.
I got an email this week, and I was reading over it again this morning, and I want to put it up here for you. As you drive down 635 headed east, you'll see that little billboard out here that's on our property that we lease out. We take one-third of it as it rotates through. If you've noticed it, for several weeks now, what it has said up there is, "Your story isn't finished yet." And it's not. I want to let you know something. I hope you're here, and I want you to know your story isn't finished. My story is not finished.
As Robert and as Jay and as Daniel and as many others there and sitting out here can testify, their story wasn't finished. God is up to some great things. We want folks to know that we want them to come, and God wants, wherever they've been, to rewrite into their lives grace and truth and strength and success and prosperity.
Not in the fleeting, monetary way that "health, wealth, and prosperity" hooligans try to teach in churches to get people to come to Christ. No. True success, a life that will measure up in light of eternity; true prosperity, a heart that isn't conditioned only to be joyful when things around them are going well, but a life that prospers even in the midst of want. We want you to know that God wants to build that into you.
I want to tell you that this gentleman checked a box also. "I want to know about Christ." What I want to share with you is guys who have been on the brink of destruction who God has brought into relationship with him, who have been attentive to the things God's Word says you should be attentive to, who have started to lap some of you who are here again and again on the track.
I want to call you into the life of discipleship, and I want to remind all of you that if you are doing well, God wants you to grab somebody who's walking and start to teach them to run and to be a disciple-maker and to produce mature men and strong women. We, folks, are not called just to preach the gospel; we are called to help the gospel invade all of our lives.
So we proclaim him and we admonish every man and teach every man until we can present every man complete in Christ. This is what we're about. This is a disciple-making church. Jesus told us to go and make disciples, to teach them to observe "all that I have commanded you," and that's what we're about.
Look at this. I shot a message to Bill Roberson, the gentleman who, along with many other committed folks, leads our Equipped Disciple ministry here. Bill responded and said, "Thanks. I am very encouraged. Here's another story I want you to know about. About a year ago…" One year ago, about the same time Daniel came to know Christ, Patrick Valdez checked the box, "I want to know more about how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ."
"I followed up. I shared the gospel. He was ready to go, so he prayed to receive Christ. Patrick faithfully worked his way through Equipped Disciple and graduated from all three classes. Soon he will be leading with us. In the meantime, he led his wife Kelsey to Christ just 10 days ago. I'm on cloud nine. He's working the harvest field, both at home and on the baseball field. Very exciting. See below."
This is Patrick. A year ago, he didn't know Christ. Now Patrick is a leader of men. He is a leader of his family. He could be a spiritual leader in his home. He could teach his wife about grace. He could disciple her in the ways of truth. They have their first child on the way. He is ready as a warrior to aim his arrows where he wants them to go. Are you ready? If not, I'm going to tell you what you need to do to be that man and that woman, and I'm going to remind you if you're not involved in this process, you are missing out on the greatest life possible.
Do you know that while the economy dips, while the opportunity to prosper American-style dips, your opportunity to prosper in eternal things only increases, because hearts are sensitized when idols we've invested ourselves in are being destroyed? This is a great time to know Jesus and a great time to be investing in eternal things. It's a great time to invest here with Christ for his people.
This is Patrick writing to Bill. He said, "I want to send a quick note and catch you up on a few things. First, I want to let you know that Kelsey accepted Christ, and we had a long discussion that night after you and I went to lunch at Kel's, August 5. I'll never forget that day, the day that God used me to lead the one that I was covenanted with into a covenant relationship with him. We've since been sharing the gospel every morning and praying together every night.
I am so excited. I want to thank you for the dedication and encouragement, that you have poured your life into me. I will continue to pour into her in the hopes that she will do the same in her walk with others. 'These things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these impart to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.' I also want to remind you that just over a year ago, you shared the gospel with me. August 15, to be exact."
Stop and ask yourself this, folks. When was the moment you went from just a comfortable belief about Jesus, an agreement with the facts, to your moment of trust in Christ? For some of you, I think it was genuine when you were a small child. That's fantastic, but have you grown beyond that childlike trust and faith? Are you the measure of a man that, after maybe decades of knowing about this Jesus, you are ready to fire arrows where a warrior should be able to fire arrows?
If not, something has gone awry, and you have grown old and not grown up. It's not because you haven't had the opportunity, because you've been sitting right where Daniel and Patrick have, right where Robert and Jay have. He writes, "As you know, Kelsey is pregnant, and we're going to our first sonogram on Thursday. I'm very excited. She's been doing better the last two weeks with energy. I'm excited to know I'm going to be able to lead my son or daughter, starting at an early age, to truth and a long life in Christ. I need your parenting advice," he says. But he is ready.
He goes on to talk about how as he invests in his love of sport… He says, "Right now, I'm not going to lead ED1, because I'm going to lead my wife through it. I'm going to prepare during this season of her pregnancy ourselves so we can together shepherd our kids, but don't think for a second I'm off mission. I'm playing ball right now, and among the group there are two guys I'm connecting with. They're both married. They live in Frisco close to me. They're named Josh and Eric." Lord, we pray that Josh and Eric one day write an email like this.
"Both good guys, but I feel like there are opportunities there." Strategic in his living. "So your prayers would be appreciated. I want to get together. Your words of encouragement are life to me. Once Kelsey has the baby and life gets back to normal, I'm going to look to become a leader and disciple others there at Watermark with you. I know she needs me now, and I want to be as available for her as I can be."
This is a guy who isn't just pressured into doing things because others think he should. He prayerfully considers and says, "How might I most strategically advance the kingdom and build into my family and then out of the overflow of that minister to others?" That's what God wants for you. You're around a community of folks who want to be Bills in your Patrick's life, to be Kirks in your Robert's life. Are you ready?
I mentioned last week about looking at Psalm 127 about how God holds warriors responsible for their arrows. I told you a number of weeks ago that one of the emphases we're going to have this week is, again, reminding ourselves what our goal and job is on discipleship, and here we go again. I'm just fulfilling what I told you I would. I'm reminding you what we want to be about.
It's a great time to think again about how you're going to connect with men at Summit; how you're going to get yourself involved in community this afternoon; how you're going to get with women on Wednesday morning; how you're going to get with folks in your age group on Tuesday nights and Thursday night; how you're going to begin to work through your hurts, habits, and hopes on Monday and Friday nights; how you're going to improve your marriage by becoming a disciple of Christ on Wednesday night; how every day you're going to make yourself attentive to God's Word through Join the Journey. Now is the time.
I want to remind you that God is going to measure our success by looking at our successors. In other words, what he says is, "It's not enough for you just to be an individual who walks with me. If you are effective and faithful and you're the man or woman I want you to be, then long after you're gone, evidence that you have been here will remain. You will leave a mark." That's what a watermark is: a lasting impression.
When you're gone, there is a high watermark that a man of God, a woman of God has been here. That's our goal. It's God's intention for us as a church and for us as individuals. Our success is ultimately determined by our successor. Look at Acts, chapter 5. This is a great little section of Scripture here. Do you want to measure the success of Christ's ministry? This is how you can do it. Do you want to measure the success of your ministry done in the name of Christ by the power of his Spirit? This is how you can do it.
In Acts, chapter 5, Peter and John had been told to stop preaching, and they were threatened and beaten. They said, "Hey, listen. You decide if you want us to keep preaching or not, but we're going to decide if it's right in our eyes to obey man or God. Basically, we're going to let you know. We're going to keep preaching." So there were some men who were trying to figure out what to do with this kind of individual who was willing to endure hardship to talk about life that can be found in relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
So they got together, and there was this gentleman named Gamaliel. Gamaliel was the man who taught Paul how to be a rabbi. He was one of the leading trainers of Pharisees or rabbinical leaders in Jerusalem in the first century. The men were all gathered together. This is what it says in Acts, chapter 5:
"But when they heard this…" Specifically, Peter and John boldly preaching in public again that Jesus was the Christ and that he alone possessed the ability to grant repentance to Israel and forgive them for their sins. "…they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time." So they ushered Peter and John out.
"And he said to them, 'Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.
After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.'"
In other words, what we see here in Acts, chapter 5, is one of the ways you can determine if God is really into something is you can watch the legacy of it. Is God at work here? Not for one generation, two generations, three generations, four generations. Ultimately, at the final accounting, because there will be some movements that continue in rebellion against God that look like there is a building up of momentum until God calls them into account. That's why you'd better make sure you're in the right movement.
Too many folks get started, and then they fizzle out, for two reasons. First, because they should because they're not of God or, second, because they are not about what God says they should be about. In other words, they are not about being and making disciples. May that never be our story. I have to tell you, when I think about my legacy at Watermark, I don't think about what happened during this season that I'm in the position of leadership that I'm in. I'm thinking about what's going to happen when God moves me on.
What would happen if I was not able to lead in the role I was able to lead anymore? Would this ministry increase? Are there men and women ready to take my role and surpass anything I have done? If not, then there's something wrong with what I am doing now. To use the infamous phraseology of Jim Collins, am I a time-teller or am I a clock-builder? Is this built to last or is this just something thriving under the charisma of a certain leader?
I will tell you, it is built under the charisma of a certain leader, and his name is not Todd Wagner; his name is Jesus Christ, and folks are learning to love him and follow him. That is why I believe there will be a lasting impression here. This morning, my charge and call to you is to get in the game in calling other people to follow this Jesus.
David was a great man but failed in this task. His son Solomon had all the wisdom in the world available to him but failed in this task. Jehoiada was one of the finest high priests Israel ever knew, but he failed in this task. Hezekiah was a fine man, but he failed in this task. Everybody is lamenting the number of kids who leave spiritual organizations and go to college, and they get chewed up and spit out by some atheistic, pluralistic English prof in a tweed jacket.
The problem isn't with that tweed jacket; the problem is that we are not preparing our sons and daughters to go to war. When a soldier gets slaughtered, it's often because he wasn't trained well and given the materials he needs to be successful in combat. May that not be our story. There's a recent survey that came out by George Barna that said only 20 percent of kids when they go to college have the same level of spiritual commitment that they do when they're in high school.
One large denomination in Texas did a study. They lost 80 percent of their kids to another faith or to no faith after they left their presence. Churches consistently probably lose 95 percent of the devotion they have as they sing the Doxology on Sunday morning to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. That's a problem. Look at the story of Eli, one of the priests of Israel, in 1 Samuel, chapter 2. God takes seriously our responsibility to make disciples.
"Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord and the custom of the priests with the people." It goes through and talks about all of the horrors of the things they did in 1 Samuel, chapter 2, and it says in verse 17, "Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord , for the men despised the offering of the **** Lord ****." What that means is they did not hold their office as leader of people and as a mediator between God and men seriously, and they exploited people and did not do their job with honor. In 1 Samuel 2, verse 22, it says:
"Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, 'Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating. If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the **** Lord ***, who can intercede for him?' But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the* Lord **desired to put them to death."
In other words, "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." And they weren't listening. Then it talks about Samuel, someone God was raising up to be a faithful leader in the land. It says, "Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men." Contrary to Eli's sons.
"Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, 'Thus says the Lord , "Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh's house? Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?"'"
What he's saying is, "Eli, it's not enough just to go and have a conversation with your sons. Call your sons into account. The fact that you would rather, if you will, put your sons above me and not love them well and discipline them well and remove them from leadership, no matter what it costs you… You're telling me the reason these men don't honor me is because you don't honor me."
The story gets worse for Eli. In chapter 3, what we find, because Eli was not a disciple-maker because he was not a disciple himself… Verses 10-13: "Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.' The Lord said to Samuel, 'Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.'" In other words, TMZ would be all over this.
Verse 12: "In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them." In other words, he did not teach them to observe all that he commanded them. He was happy that they were just in his presence, that he validated his ministry because they showed up at his place of ministering every week.
I will not make that deal with you. You need to know our desire is to shepherd you, to love you in a community of grace. You're going to need to extend to me grace at times when I don't live fully as Christ wants me to live in certain conversations and tones and attitudes and in leadership moments. I had guys extend me grace in those kinds of things this week. This is not about perfection. It's about a commitment to a direction of honoring Christ in all things.
We will engage one another. We will love one another as Christ has called us to love one another. We will rebuke. We will admonish the unruly. We will encourage the fainthearted. We will help the weak, and if you are a disciple of Christ, you will be committed to the same thing. You will not live in isolation. You will not enable. You will not live in fear of how Hophni and Phinehas might respond to you.
You're just going to say, "I have to do what God wants me to do, and I love God. I love you, but because I love God I'm going to love you the way God wants me to love you. I'm going to sharpen you. I'm going to be patient with you. I'm going to show commitment to you, but I'm going to help you excel still more." That's the church of Jesus Christ.
I want to remind you that when God sees a problem with a people, he sees a problem with a leader. Let me say it to you this way. If you look around you and everybody in your life is dysfunctional and there are broken relationships and conflicts and immaturity and impetuousness and greed and lust, guess where the problem is. What I want to say to you this morning is you're part of the problem.
So if you don't know how to help those arrows start to fly correctly… If you're a part of a dysfunctional community, you are a part of the dysfunction, so the first thing to do is to go, "I'm not obviously able to lead. My house is in chaos. My marriage is disintegrating. My community is falling apart. I have to be discipled. I have to learn how to be a warrior so I can aim other arrows. I can't keep complaining that everybody else is dysfunctional. I am the one God wants to raise up to be salt and light and to bring transformation into this community."
When God sees a problem with a people, he always sees a problem with a leader. When God sees a problem with a country, he sees a problem with the church. When God sees a problem with the church, he sees a problem with the priests and the prophets and the pastors. When God sees a problem with a family, he sees a problem with Daddy and Mommy. When God sees a problem with a group of twelfth graders, he sees a problem with twelfth graders who are running with them. That's just the way it rolls.
It's also true that God desires to raise up… When people experience prosperity, there is always praise for a leader. Do you know how God has always delivered throughout all of human history? Whenever God wants to bring deliverance to a people, he always raises up a deliverer who walks with God, who fears God, who honors God, but God always uses a human life. Life on life. It's God's program.
I have an incredible piece of grace for you this morning. Your story isn't finished yet. It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter where you've been. You could be a terrorist. See also Paul. God wants to use you as the primary agent of transformation that takes forward the message of grace and transforms the world. You could be a prostitute. You could be a leper. You could be a three-time loser, and your story isn't finished yet, but you have to get yourself underneath a warrior, and you have to be attentive to the things God says you should be attentive to.
Here's the issue. If you're joining us in the journey through God's Word, we're in Luke right now. This week, Cyndi Springer wrote a great little devotional on Luke, chapter 11, and the verse she chose as her primary verse and focus was Luke, chapter 11, verse 33 down through verse 36, when she covered her little passage. This is what it says:
"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light." Watch this. Jesus tells this parable. He says in verse 34, "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays."
Let me share it to you this way. The way you know if you've seen the light is if you have the ability to walk without calamity. I'll tell you a couple of stories on myself. This room during the week during the day is often pitch dark. It's packed almost every evening, but during the day, there are not folks gathering here. They're gathered all over other places on the campus. You come out sometimes from that very bright light, and you walk into this…
Sometimes I'm going back to get something out of my office over here, and it's pitch dark in here. I've done this. I have tried to make my way through. I don't know why, but I've done it. I have fallen off this stage and laid here for about three or four minutes by myself wondering how badly I was hurt. I have tripped over chairs right back over there. I have knocked over stuff on this stage. I've walked into the wall over there.
I have embarrassed myself to no end if you had an infrared heat sensor light in this room. I have had major wrecks in here when it has been dark. Here's the thing. A lot of you guys are having major wrecks as you walk through all of life. Why? Because even though you're people who have access to light, you're not informing your life by it. The way you know if your life has been influenced by light is if you are free from calamity relationally, spiritually, emotionally, financially.
What Jesus is talking about here is the lens you look through matters. This is, in effect, talking about worldview, your belief system, your primary understanding of truth. That is what allows you to process the world, and it's what fills your heart. That truth system, that foundational understanding you have is what then produces the actions you are now acting out.
If you see the world through a lens of chaos plus time plus chance equals where we are today, if you see the world through a lens that God created and largely leaves it alone, if you see the world through a humanistic lens, if you see the world through a dead religious understanding that God expects you to do better in most areas than you do in others so that maybe you can be great enough to get into heaven, it's going to affect the way you live.
If you see this world as a place that is only there for your own pleasure, then it will cause calamity, because the light that fills your understanding is really darkness. So what you have to do if you keep falling as you walk through life is you have to go, "I guess I must not be processing light, real truth." Why? God says his Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path, and it says if you're led by it, he'll make your way straight.
Look at what it says in 1 John, chapter 1, verses 5-7. "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…" Do you want to know if you have a relationship with God? God does not allow you, when you walk, to bring about consistent relational, spiritual, emotional, and financial destruction.
If that defines your life, guess why. See Luke 11. It says, "…if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." You can't just agree that light is available. You have to personally have a relationship with it, and it should inform what you do as a disciple who learns more and more of that light.
Here's what I'm going to do this morning with these next few minutes we have together. I'm going to give you 10 things God wants us to be about. In 1 Timothy, chapter 4, Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy, and he said to Timothy, basically, "These are instructions to a good young faithful minister." All 10 things I'm going to give you I can find right here in these same 11 verses, in verses 6-16. I'm going to just read through this. This is what Paul said to Timothy, and then I'm going to give them to you, and you can write them down.
If you want to be a discipler, you have to first be a disciple. You cannot transmit a disease which you yourself have not contracted. What God wants you to do is be an individual who walks with him and says to others, "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ." Your success will be determined by your successors, and your disciple will not be greater than you as a discipler. Your student will not be greater than you as a teacher unless grace interrupts, and as I said last week, I wouldn't count on that. Look at what Paul wrote.
"In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
Did you spend more time on your physical body this week than you did your heart? If so, you are not living wisely. I am all for you spending time on your physical body. It's the only tool, physically, that God is ever going to give you to serve him on this earth, so you ought to eat well and exercise and take care of it, but if you spend more time trying to make your body look good than having your heart transformed so it can do good, you, my friends, are not filled with light. I'm glad you're going to the gym, I'm glad you have a trainer, but let me ask you… Do you have a trainer, a discipler, and are you training others?
"It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."
You will be a disciple-maker, and it will be well with you. You will be the leader others rise up and call blessed. Are you ready? Ten things. They couldn't be more simple. Ten things disciples do.
1 . Read, meditate on, memorize, and follow the Word of God. They don't just read randomly; they read, and they read well. There is so much information that is out there today. It is so easy to give yourself to worldly fables. See also 1 Timothy 4. You have to learn not just to read but to read well. You ask others that you are encouraged by, "Who have you read?" and the first thing you have to do is make sure you read God's Word.
You don't know where to read? Guess what. Sign up for jointhejourney.com. Every day we'll push into your inbox a little section of Scripture that you can read with the benefit of somebody who has put a short 300-word devotional and three application questions and, if you're discipling children, a couple of family questions. Try that. We're trying to take away the excuse.
Memorize his Word. When was the last time you answered a question somebody asked you by quoting God's Word? If you haven't, you have not had on your heart what is on the heart of God, and you are not a discipler. When was the last time you answered a question somebody asked you by quoting God's Word? Read. Meditate. Memorize. Follow the Word of God. Read it through. Pray it in. Live it out. Pass it on.
2 . Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. In other words, avail yourself to the spiritual disciplines. Pray all the time, without ceasing. That doesn't mean on your knees in your prayer closet. There is time for the activity of prayer, but the attitude of prayer ought to inform everything about your life.
Whether you're coaching some kids in sports, whether you're having dinner with your family, whether you're leading a business meeting, whether you're writing a check, are you saying, "Spirit of God, I only want to write this check if it's your check. I only want to make this purchase if it's your purchase. I only want to spend my discretionary time if this is the way you would have me spend my discretionary time."
Journal. That doesn't mean writing to your diary about what you did today. It means writing down what God is teaching you and showing you. Write prayers to God. Study. Learn. Tend to your soul. Don't spend more time on your physical body than your spiritual body. Practice spiritual discipline.
3 . Surround yourself with friends willing to wound you. Do you want to be a disciple-maker? You have to have friends who love you enough to tell you where you're not living as a warrior. You need to be part of a band of brothers, individuals who will help you see the truth. If you don't have friends who will tell you the truth about yourself, you don't have friends. "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."
4 . Decide what is true, and fix yourself on it. Fight against that which is fleeting. That's what it says right there. Remember? "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance…" I love what Ezra did. It says in chapter 7, verse 10, "Ezra set his heart…" Have you set your heart yet? I often asked my friend Tom Raley when he was alive, who built into me in many ways and is a huge part of why I am what I am today…
Tom told me when the time that he was 40 (he died in his 70s)… He always spent an hour with God first thing every morning, and then before he went to bed a half hour every night. I can remember being with Tom one time up in the Ozarks. We were at a conference together. He was one of those guys that when you were at a conference… It was a bunch of Young Life leaders, a bunch of us on Young Life staff, and Tom was there, and he was the guy everybody sought out, wanted to be with and wanted to learn from and wanted to have some time with.
Finally, he just said, "I have to go, guys. It's midnight. It's time for me to hit it." He was in his 60s at the time. He said, "I have to get up and catch a flight up in Springfield at 5:30 this morning, so I'm getting out of here." So I waited. We all sat up. We were young, in our 20s. We said, "Let's see what old man Raley does."
I watched him go to his room, and about 20 minutes later, I watched the light in his room go on. I didn't stay up until 4:00 in the morning, but I know, because I asked him… "Tom, I saw you go back to your room. What did you do?" He goes, "I read my Bible for 30 minutes when I went to bed." I said, "What time did you get up?" He goes, "I got up at 4:00, because I had to be somewhere at 5:30, and spent an hour with God."
I said to him, "Bro, do you ever not do that? Do you ever go, 'I'm not…'?" He goes, "Todd, I decided 27 years ago I was going to do this, so I don't have to decide every morning." You see, when you're that kind of guy, men want to be with you. Men want to learn from you. I was at Tom Raley's funeral. The room filled up with people whose lives are filled with glory because of that man's life. Do you want to know if that man's life was successful? He's dead, but Christ in him lives on in us. Where's your legacy? You decide who you are and you fix yourself upon it.
5 . Teach and lead others. This is key. Do you want to grow? You have to be a leader. You just have to step up and say, "Look, man. I may not know very much, but all I know is what Wagner taught last week. I'm going to teach it to somebody else this week. I may not know much. All I might know and have memorized is one verse. I'm going to teach it to somebody this week." You be Barney Fife. If you have one bullet, you fire it, and you come back to Andy and go, "Andy, I lost my bullet." He'll put another one in the chamber.
Some of you guys have been walking around with one bullet for a long time. You're falling behind in your "read through the Bible in a lifetime" program. You're three verses a year. You're behind in that. Find something and teach it. Teach others. Lead first and foremost by example. You cannot make disciples if you are not an individual who yourself is following after God.
6 . Take inventory. Deal with your demons. Make a plan. Be an individual who says, "Where is my life not as it ought to be? Where do I consistently get run over? What is the reason for that? What is my plan to begin to take some ground in that area so I won't get run over as a warrior consistently?"
7 . Confess and repent continually. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. God's Word is what will train you, reprove you, correct you. When it does reprove you and correct you, repent. Confess it. Acknowledge to others when you make mistakes. One of the greatest ministries in life can be, "I screwed up there. It wasn't what Christ wanted me to do. I acknowledge it for wrong. I agree that was unbiblical. Will you forgive me?"
8 . Serve. "Don't neglect the spiritual gift within you," Paul said. Give yourself away to others. Don't be a consumer. This is a battleship, not a cruise ship. Find your spot. Be faithful in one spot, and you will watch. There are all kinds of opportunities here where we're looking for faithful men. Wherever your spot is, be faithful in it.
Give yourself away. Find an opportunity to use your gifts. Pick up trash when you're walking around, even when it's not your property. Stop and care for somebody else. When somebody says, "I have an issue," say, "Can I pray with you?" Find a ministry. Be attentive to all that the Lord has given you in time, talent, and treasure.
9 . Make yourself accountable. Run with others who are committed to filling everything above. As I told you, if you look around and dysfunction is marked in every area of your life, that is because there is no leader present. That means you are not able to be a leader. That means you have to get yourself around some other playmates on a different playground until you can be that man so you can go back into your household, into your Community Group, into your golf group, into your whatever it is you do and make a difference. You have to surround yourself with other men and women who are passionately doing everything I've said to this point.
10 . Persevere. Be patient. Improve daily. Be realistic. Be purposeful. Take some ground. Don't try to memorize Romans through Jude this week. Do something. If you're running a 12-minute mile, try to do it in 11:50 this week. If you can't even go around the track once, walk it faster this week than last. Peripateo. Work out your salvation step-by-step. Extend yourself grace, but know where you want to be. Set a bar, declare yourself, and get after it.
When my kids were away this summer for a week or two, I'd write them and encourage them, and there was a song I heard called "The Words I Would Say" that I sent each of them. These are words I pray for them continually. I get with them at night by their bed when they're even asleep, and I pray these things over them, all these kinds of things I just shared with you…Scripture, informed by the Word of God. I sent them the lyrics to this little song, which was filled with some of these ideas. It's called "The Words I Would Say." I want you to listen to it and know it's my heart for you. Let me pray.
Father, thank you for these friends this morning, that we can gather together and remind ourselves of the grace that's available. Lord, you're not angry at us because of where we are today, but you say to us again today, "Come on. Follow me. This can be the day you transform. This is the day, Eli, that you can begin to love me more than just comfortable relationships.
This can be the day, Saul, that you become Paul. This can be the day, Mary, that you can go and sin no more. This can be the day, Daniel, that you can quit snorting coke and start to be useful to yourself and to others. This can be the day that your children and your wife and your Community Group and others can begin to have a leader."
Father, I know the very first thing some folks have to do is figure out if what I said today is trustworthy and true, that Jesus Christ is the means through which men can be reconciled to God, that Jesus Christ is the means through which life can be informed with light. I pray for those who are here today who have never made the decision to follow Jesus, that they would make that their first and foremost intention, and maybe they would just begin to learn of him.
Disciples are even people who don't know Christ. May they begin that journey. May they raise their hand and say, "I have some questions," and we can sit with them in gentleness and grace and share with them why we are convinced that this is trustworthy stuff, and may we then model it with our lives in such a way that we become useful to you, a glory to you, our King and recreator, and a servant to this world you love. Father, thank you that these things we have studied today are things you would say to us. May we heed them. Amen.