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A Biblical Look at Life, Letting Go and Leading Out: Why We Have to Run with the Herd

How are you getting through life? Are you going your own way by trying to solve all of your problems and handle the challenges thrown your way on your own? 1 Peter 5 tells us that an authentic Christian community should walk in "humility toward one other," sharing the burdens of life with each other. He exhorts us to run with the herd of believers and not attempt to go it alone.

Todd WagnerDec 14, 2008

In This Series (10)
What in the World Was He Thinking?
Todd WagnerDec 24, 2008
A Biblical Look at Life, Letting Go and Leading Out: Why We Have to Run with the Herd
Todd WagnerDec 14, 2008
Family: The Need to Define it Rightly and Lead it Righteously
Todd WagnerDec 7, 2008
Worldviews Matter. Just Ask the Congo.
Todd WagnerNov 23, 2008
Success: The Right Ladder Against the Right Wall
Todd WagnerNov 16, 2008
Believers and Their Government: What Governs Our Usefulness in It
Todd WagnerNov 2, 2008
The Remedy for Redemption: The Final Framework of Truth
Todd WagnerOct 26, 2008
Explaining Evil: The Second Framework of Truth
Todd WagnerOct 19, 2008
The Creation Foundation: The First Framework of Truth
Todd WagnerOct 12, 2008
The Importance of the Foundations of the Heart
Todd WagnerOct 5, 2008

Today I want to talk about really a biblical worldview of life, ISIS, and together. Now that seems kind of odd when there are lots of major topics that are out there, but I want to come at, one more time, this idea of what God expects us to be as citizens of earth, of members of his family.

What does it mean to be a human? What does God intend for us? What does greatness look like if you are a man as God designed a man to be? I'm going to give you all kinds of illustrations and reminders of what God said we are and what we ought to be as people made in his image. I want to start with this.

Because we're made in the image of God, that means we are innately relational creatures. Now often we think of men who are really great and really strong, self-sufficient men, guys who can always work it out, pull themselves up by their bootstraps who don't need others. Men who can stand alone and just endure and thrive. That's truly what a man is. That is somehow what is often thrust upon us.

In fact, there's a book that just came out called Why Men Die First? Interesting book. It caught my attention. I saw that men are twice as likely as women to die before age 65. Now the gal who wrote this, her name is Marianne Legato. She is a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.

She just started… Look at this. She did some research because she loved her daddy and she saw that her dad moved on before really she felt like his time because she thought he was such a picture of health. She tells an anecdotal story I'm going to read to you. When her dad was 70, this is what she said.

I'm paraphrasing some, but she said, "He was a short, muscular, and fit man. He was a successful physician like me who had other passions in his life apart from medicine. One of which was hunting. He used to take my brothers on frequent hunting trips. On one occasion, they recounted how they came to the edge of a sunflower field." Now if you're a hunter and you've ever come to a big sunflower field, you know that's typically not an easy thing to get through.

She says, "The plants were tall and tangled, difficult to walk through. My father, who was about 70 at the time, bent his head and simply started out, doggedly trudging through the field with no complaint, never pausing to rest and never commenting on how difficult the passage undoubtedly was." "That was my father. He would just put his head down and go in the middle of things that men should be able to go through easily."

"On another trip, my brother awakened to find him sitting on the side of his bed, smoking, at three in the morning. 'What's the matter, Dad?' he asked. My father answered, pointing to his head, 'Too much traffic.' That was all he said. It would never have occurred to him to confide in one of his sons—or anyone else."

She goes on to hypothesize that the reason that men die first is because men don't live the way God designed, in effect, for men to live. She doesn't say it that way, but the whole book is about how men are more prone to stress and anxiety because they live in isolation because from the time that they're little they are taught to suck it up, to get on with it, and to make things happen, to develop in men a bloody minded refusal to ask for help. She says it's killing men.

It doesn't just kill men. It kills all of us. It creates stress. It creates anxiety. It creates isolation, and it brings us to the place where we are more susceptible to heart disease, seizures, cancer, and numerous other maladies, which are often seen as the cause of death. She says that she can trace many of these back to choices that we're making specifically as men who aren't modeling where real life can be found, who aren't leading others into the way of hope and life and peace where God is saying, "Hey, you want to be a man? Come this way."

Now what's interesting is when you look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 16, verse 13, which is one of my favorite Scriptures in all the Bible. It says in 1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." You read verses like that, and if you're not careful with them, you can think it's reinforcing this "Suck it up; make it happen" attitude.

You find out that's not all that it means to be strong. To be strong scripturally is to be strong in faith and to be a person who will not bend in following after truth. That's why the be strong cannot be separated from stand firm in the faith, act like men, like the kind of man that God created you to be, which is a man who walks humbly with their God.

I'll tell you a joke and I'll just confess. It's borderline inappropriate. I'm all about borderline. Here's the story. It's about a guy who is a captain of a ship. He is on his ship one day and he looks up and here comes a pirate vessel sailing right for him. He knows what that means, that they're going to go to war with these guys.

He looks at his men and said, "Men, draw your swords. Let's get ready to go to battle. Somebody bring me my red shirt." Someone quickly got him a red shirt and here came the pirates. They rammed their ship. They jumped onboard. There was a big war that ensued. Sure enough, they beat back the pirates, killed many of them.

After the battle was over, they were on that ship and the men looked and said, "What a great captain. He led us into battle. He was right there at the front. He wasn't at the back shouting out orders. He was at the very front of the conflict." They said, "Captain, we were confused. Why did you ask for the red shirt before you went into battle?"

He said, "That's easy. Because I knew that there was a potential that I might get wounded, that a sword might strike my flesh and cause blood to come forward and I didn't want you men to lose heart thinking that your captain might be wounded, or even worse, mortally injured. I wanted you to continue to fight strong. I didn't want you to know that I was suffering."

Thought what an incredible captain, what an incredible example, what a thoughtful leader. They celebrated that night and they went to bed. The next morning when they woke up as the mist cleared off the ocean, the men could see off in the distance not one pirate ship, but 10. That same captain turned to his men and he said, "Men, draw your swords. It's going to be a tough day." He turned to one young man and said, "You, go get my brown pants."

All right. It's up to you to decide if it's borderline or not, but here's the deal. As men, I'm telling you, often what we try and do is we tell people, "Look, not only do I not bleed, but I don't ever get the heebie-jeebies scared out of me. I'm a man! I don't need others! I don't ever, ever mess up or get to a place where I am so stricken with fear that I would do something that would be embarrassing to me or would suggest that I might need others."

Men, I want to tell you what. It's killing us. It's killing us. It's killing us literally and figuratively. Jesus says, "Look, the reason you're living like that as men is because you have a worldview problem. You're buying into the lie of what a man is and you're not living as a man should live. You don't know that great men are humble men, men who realize that they were created in my image. I am a God who has always existed in the context of community. I've always existed in the context of relationship."

The idea of relationship and love and companionship and completion is not some outworking of the greatest ideals of men. It eternally exists in the very character and nature of God, who has revealed himself in Trinity that God is one, and yet there's Father, there's Son, there's Spirit all eternally God, all eternally existent. Distinct in person, but unified in essence and deity.

God said, "I'm making you in my image, so you're not created to be alone. It's not good for man to be alone." He calls us to be a part of a body. He calls us to care for and to love one another, but our world continues to try and isolate us off. Now if you want to spend a good eight minutes and 25 seconds, go home this afternoon, get on YouTube, and type in Battle at Kruger.

You'll see a picture of the necessity of living in community. I'm going to share with you a Scripture and then I'm going to come back and share those eight minutes and 25 seconds on YouTube. The Scripture comes in 1 Peter, chapter 5. Here we start to see an idea how men really should live biblically.

It says, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders…" Now the idea here is that Peter says, "Look, I'm going to specifically write to tell young men…" One of the Scriptures in the Bible that… For early on when I started reading my Bible, it just said, "The glory of young men is their strength…" Okay? I thought, "What does that mean?"

It just means basically that a lot of times, young guys, they just think they're bulletproof. They think that, "I know the old guy couldn't do as well as I can do, but this is a new generation of man. There's no way they ­­­[audio cuts out] as I was. There's more information accessible to me at a younger age. There are better gyms. There's evolution that has taken place, and we in our 20s are greater than the 20s have ever been before."

That has been the song of 20-somethings forever. It was true when I was 20-something, and I see it now in the 20-somethings. Now I can remember watching Michael Jordan play and thinking, "There's no way Oscar Robertson, who really excelled in the 60s when I was just a young boy, was as good as Michael Jordan."

The people who watch LeBron today, they look at just the massive nature of LeBron James and they look back at pictures of Michael Jordan in shorts that are way too short and a body that's not nearly as massive as LeBron's. They just go, "Michael Jordan must've been something, but he didn't play against the kind of competition LeBron James did today, so he is not as good as LeBron was." We do that in every sport and every genre. We just don't think…

And surely there has been some advances made in training and things like that, but just intellectually and emotionally we always think as young guys that we don't have anything to learn. We're more fit. We're more able. We glory in our strength through our own detriment. We don't listen to our elders who have lived through that period where they thought that they had no need of help or support, but it says that young men should be subject to these elders and not glory in their strength, intellectually or physically or whatnot.

Then it says this "…and all of you…" Men, women, old, young. "…all of you clothe yourselves with humility…" Wrap yourself in this truth and awareness. "…for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

Now part of casting your anxiety on him means that you live your life the way he would suggest that your life ought to be lived, and guess what? That doesn't include isolation. He wants you to live in the context of community. You were created for community. Watch, verse 8. "Be of sober spirit…" In other words, don't be drunk with strength. Don't be drunk with a different worldview and a different idea. Understand this. Think wisely. Think correctly and clearly.

"…be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Now how do lions kill? You guys have all watched Animal Planet long enough to know that the way lions kill is they look for those who have gotten weak or they look for those who are a little sick, emotionally, physically, whatever it might be. They're not able to keep up. They can't persevere.

He looks for those who might be weakened and starting to carve off from the herd. That's who lions devour: the isolated ones. The context of this verse, which we quote a lot…if you've been around, you have heard 1 Peter 5:8 before…is not often put in the context of warning you against a lack of humility.

Of saying, "Look man, apart from the herd, I am dead meat. There is nothing in me that can take on a bunch of lions." What I want to share with you is that not only did the community come to the rescue; it was because they were deeply involved in that community. When the community started to run and they saw one of them start to get pulled out, they kind of came back for them, but I will tell you this. That Cape buffalo was screaming for them to come back.

What you have to understand is that this little section of Scripture where it talks about how the enemy operates… He operates the same way, which is why God calls you into community with him, into fellowship with his Word, and community with his people. We glory in our self-sufficiency, in our strength in a way that destroys us, but our Enemy wants to isolate us.

Look at verse 9. "But resist him, firm in your faith…" In other words, be firm in believing that God's Word is true, that you can trust his voice. That his way is a better way. "…knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world."

You're not the only one who has a hard time in marriage. You're not the only one who has a hard time with lust. You're not the only one who has a hard time with finances and materialism and getting yourself in significant debt and buying the lie of the world. You're not the only one. So you have to share, "Hey herd, encourage me toward truth."

He says, "After you have suffered for a little while…" What's that suffering there? The suffering is when you push through the fear and the suffering of dying to the way that seems right to man and you live the way that seems right to God. "…the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

It will happen, but you're going to have to experience a little suffering. By the way, suffering that is being experienced by people everywhere who are walking with God. You are not unique in the fact that it is difficult for your flesh to do this. Watch this. Here is the reason that some of you are struggling. It's because you have offered yourself off. You have carved yourself away.

This is why I want you to watch eight minutes and 25 seconds on YouTube today. You'll see a picture of a bunch of Cape buffalo that are walking along in Kruger National Park in Africa, and you'll see some lions that are prowling. What they do is they jump these Cape buffalo who take off and they carve off one.

This is telling you the strategy of the Enemy. He is like a lion that looks for the weak and the separated and the young who have not been strong in their faith in their Cape buffalo-ness, in their intention as a man who walks with God. What happens in this little clip is you will see a young Cape buffalo pared off from some strength of the herd and dragged in the water and five lionesses…five…have him by the throat, the ear, the nose. Then one gets on the haunches, and because he tumbled in the water, they are dragging him out.

While they are dragging him out and they almost have him out of the water, I don't know a 15- or 18-foot crocodile comes up and says, "Nuh-uh; this way," and takes a leg and a hindquarter. There is a tug-of-war between getting sucked back into the abyss and the darkness of the jaws of the alligator and the death row of confusion and the lion who wants to pull you out and devour you.

What happens is amazing. The herd comes back. In fact, the three or four that were leading the herd, that were separated from the herd, went and got the rest. You see them come and then you watch these Cape buffalo one by one go in and take their horns. At one point, they pick one lion up and throw it like 20 feet. That cat is chased off by a strong one.

Then another one goes back in, and eventually, they are all chased off and this little Cape buffalo is brought back into the herd, walks back into the herd. They tracked it and it lived because of the community that was around it. Because when it was in pain, it screamed. But not us! We go, "All right. There are four lions. No big deal. There's a croc right here. I'll get it. I'm a man!"

Sometimes we hope you are, because I don't want to go back and face those lions. I don't know what to do. I've never seen a Cape buffalo attacked by four lions and a crocodile before. "What do we do? What do we do, herd? What do we do? What do we do?" You do everything you can and whistle for whatever helps you want, because there is a herd of folks here.

If your little community can't handle it, there is a herd of folks who can. We have seen packs of lions. We have seen people go all the way under. We've seen God bring them back, but we have to know, man. We have to know that you're going under. You have to speak up and you have to be connected to begin with and stay in that herd and it wouldn't have happened.

I tell folks all the time. If you're a Wildebeest and you're hanging out with a bunch of lions and you're making it, let me just tell you something. You're not tough. You are next. That's what you are. You're next. So you're like, "I don't need community. I've been hanging out with this lion of independence for a long time. Nothing has happened to me." I'm like, "Oh, man."

I want to call you. I want to tell you. Look, if you're living that way, it's because you're not on the alert and you're not sober in your thinking. You are listening to a different spirit. It's not a holy one that wants to lead you to life. He wants to convince you that you cannot act like you are in need of a herd. You were created, like God, to live in community.

If you try and show him that you don't need to live the way you were created, in relationship with him, in the context of a family, you are next. You are next. I want to just take a moment here, show you a couple illustrations, and then drive you back to some more Word. I'm going to do a little skit. Not a drama, but a skit just to illustrate the point of how the Enemy deceives you.

I do need a volunteer from the audience. Somebody who is willing to come and give it a shot up here with me. Anybody here? Where's my high school group? They're willing, usually. No, not my daughter. I need somebody who is going to listen to me. See? Was that nice? No. Seriously, I won't use my daughter because we'll think it's rigged.

Come on. I need somebody to come. All right? Come up here. Very good. All right? My little friend from France. Come on up here. Please, hi, walk on up. Told you, you wouldn't get hurt. I'm going to have you go with Gary, and then I'm going to have you come back out here in just a minute. Gary, you might want to have her take off those boots.

Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to give you an illustration, and we're going to give her a second to just get out. There are a couple of guys I did ask in advance to come help me who are going to use their strength. All right, good. Come on up here, Johnny. This little board right here is going to be my illustration.

I'm going to show you what the Enemy does to you. I'm going to try and expose him, because he is a liar. Jesus reveals this. Look at John, chapter 8. Here's a Scripture that speaks specifically about what happens to us. Jesus is talking to a group of men who aren't following him. He says, "Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me…'"

"In other words, you'd listen to me and you'd follow me." "…for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying?""Why don't you do what I ask you to do?" "It is because you cannot hear My word." Why? Because, listen. "You are of your father the devil…"

These are hard words. If you're not doing, if you're not living the way God wants you to, if you're in a Community Group that gathers, if you're in a gathering group that isn't doing community and you say, "I don't need others to help me think through how I steward resources, how I face challenges in my flesh," there's a reason. Let me read to you again from verse 44.

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me."

I want to… Gang, the battle is for the heart. The battle is that you might live humbly the way God says you should live. But the Enemy convinces you that you can't live that way because if you live that way, you're going to surely die. So I'm going to have Noella come stand right here, and then you guys are going to come and you know what you're going to do?

I want you to grab that side, and actually when Noella gets her blindfold on, you're going to get on your knees. Don't get her yet, I hope. You'll be on your knees and you'll just lift it just two or three inches off the ground. Go ahead. That's about as high as I want. Right there. Okay, you should do that on your knees or however you want to do it, but when we test it with her in front of her, you guys are going to lift me all the way up. I'll explain it from there. Okay? All right, here we go.

Bring Noella back out here, and I want you to watch her because she is going to think that she can't trust and lift. I'm going to have you, Noella, come over here and I'm going to have you stand on this board. Then I'm going to have these guys lift you just like this. So guys, go ahead and lift me all the way up and I'll give you… Just stay here for a second. Go ahead and lift me all the way up, guys. Little higher. Very good.

All right. So you're going to be just like this, and then I'm going to ask you to step off and I will catch you. Gary will be behind in case you lose your balance and go back, but I want you just to step off and let me catch you. So when I say when, and wait until I say when,just step off and bend your knees and I'll bring you down gently. Okay? All right, excellent. Step on the board. All right. Hop on in, Noella. I'm going to blindfold you. Okay? All right, here we go. All right. Can you see?

Noella: No.

Todd: Okay, good. All right. Now, here. I'm going to have you put your hands right here on my shoulders just like this, and we're going to lift you up. Stay still. You can get a little wider. It's okay. Just hang on. Little higher, guys. Little higher. Hang on. I got her. Hang on. All right. All right, now listen. I'll catch you.

Noella: I trust you.

Todd: All right. Now on three, just step off, and I will get you. One…I'm going to let you go.

Noella: I just jump on you?

Todd: Yeah, just jump on down here. I got you. One, two, three. All right. You can take that off. All right. Noella, how high did you think you were?

Noella: Wow, pretty high, actually. Somewhere up here.

Todd: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know how high you really were?

Noella: Somewhere here?

Todd: Yeah. That's right. So Noella. Give her a hand, all right? There you go. Thank you. Go sit down. I'll tell you what we're going to do with that. All right. Now look, Noella, for some crazy reason, trusts me and she thought that maybe I would catch her, but I want to tell you something. When you're up here and you can't see, you think, "If I step off this thing, I'm a dead man. My body, everything around me, all my senses are saying, 'I can't get off this. I'm going to die.'

They know, "The people who are telling me to jump, the church saying, 'I'll care for you.' I don't trust those people. I don't have that kind of relationship with them." Noella has done things with me and has seen me minister to others and I've watched her minister. She said, "Okay, Todd is not going to kill me. If he does, I hope you guys finish this building project because I'll have a great place. I'll sue, and I'll own the whole thing. So go for it."

The idea here, gang, is that this is what… Here's the picture. When you are stuck in isolation and you are only able to trust your senses, you feel like you're way up here and there is no way that you can step off and get on firm ground. You're doing this and you're nervous. You're filled with anxiety. You hate heights. God is saying, "Just step off. I have you."

The Enemy says, "Man, no one has ever been as high as you. No one has ever been that far up before and stepped down. I know the church is telling you to come, but they want to laugh at you. When you step off and you hit that bottom? There's not solid ground down there. There's not healing. There is exposure and humiliation and laughter."

He is a liar. I want to tell you, Noella. Go home and do this. It feels like you are six feet up and like, "Are you kidding me? Jump? Step? I'll dislocate my knee. My femur will come through my skin. I am moving." Do you know what, though? When you're dealing with your real issue, it's a whole lot worse than your femur coming out.

It's your soul being exposed and you think, "I'll never be able to be respected and loved and followed and enjoyed again." The Enemy has you and he keeps pushing you further off. Next thing you know, there are four lions on one side and a gator on the other. You just say, "Finish it."

Gang, I want to tell you. The reason I'm doing this, this week is because I know we live this way all the time, but we are to be people of God who love one another. I want to show you, before I show you a video from a friend… I'm going to show a picture of a house that looks a lot like a house that a lot of us live in. It's a gated community. Here's the picture. It has little SUVs stuck out in front, just like many of us have SUVs stuck in front of our houses. In this little gated community with SUVs out there, you see this yellow police tape around it.

The reason there's yellow police tape around it is because inside of it was a dad who felt like he had just gotten… He couldn't get off. He couldn't step down. He couldn't say, "Hey, guess what? This little game I've been playing for a while? I'm about to be exposed. Oh yeah, we're millionaires, but we're $20,000 millionaires and we're about $980,000 in debt."

So he believed, just a few weeks ago in his little gated community, that the way that he would honor his gods would be to courageously remove the shame that he had brought upon his family. He put a gun to the head of his wife, the head of his mother-in-law, and the head of his three boys. He said, "I do this because it's the right and courageous thing to do for my family," so they wouldn't experience the shame.

Wow. Can I tell you something? We're moving into a time when I think in Dallas there are going to be some houses that look really nice with some yellow police tape around them. We've already seen it. You know what's even more tragic? Some of those houses are going to be dwelt in by individuals who sit in churches today.

If finances aren't the area that push you over, there are houses where there will never be police tape around them, but there also won't be life and joy and peace and prosperity in it because dad is still up there doing this or because mom doesn't think she can step off and be faithful and just say, "Hey, this is my life and I'm not going to live as in bondage to deceit anymore and I'm going to step off onto the solid ground.

I'm going to believe there are people who love me who will catch me who will care for me. I don't care what it feels like to me. There's life and solid ground down there. I don't want to live my life teetering on the brink, wondering if I'm going to fall backward or forward and then be exposed when I do. I want to live my life on solid ground. That's what my Father said I should walk on."

The Enemy says, "You can't. You'll die." God says, "Oh, no. There's a suffering for a little while, just like everybody experiences, but when you follow me, it is solid ground and there is healing." Do you want to experience life? You have to start to think the way the Spirit of God tells you to live. I want to call you, not just to read the Bible with us but to join the journey of yieldedness to us. Because here's the deal, gang. I really believe this is an authentic community here.

By the grace of God, just this week one of our friends, one of the eight guys who founded this church with me, eight years ago this week came to me and said, "Todd, I have to tell you. I've been reading the Journey, and I've been hanging out, but I have not been on the journey with you." There was a deal about five or six years ago where we ran into this once. We had a conversation about what it cost us.

Yet the Enemy still had one of our founders, right? Who I love deeply, who we could never really deeply connect in community, geography, kids, life stage. "You guys are down there. I'm up here." Just could never get it going. There are other reasons. Very humbly, he just said, "I haven't been doing it like I know. I knew the truth was there, but I have been scared."

Finally, by the grace of God a couple years ago, and he just shared it with me this week. He said, "I'm done, man. I can't believe it was just an inch this whole time. I've known the truth, but it hadn't set me free because I haven't journeyed with it." This is not about doctrinal statements. This is not about being an authentic place. It's about being authentic people. Watch Burke as he leads us.

[Video]

Burke: It was an amazing experience to be part of the early days of Watermark and to see how God put together a group of men and women, families really, who had different gifts. They were all different types of people. Looking back on that time, I did start to feel the pressure of having been… You put yourself in a position that people look at that maybe somehow you're more spiritual because you're involved in starting up this work.

You start to feel put up a little bit on a pedestal. I fell prey to the lie that you have to be perfect. My vision at the time was that leaders in a church don't have issues. They don't have issues with purity in their lives, issues with financial problems. The last financial crisis we had around 2001, as I recall, I don't really think I was trying to be in isolation with that.

It was the sort of thing where I thought, "I can handle this. This is not going to get out of hand. I've gone through this before and I don't really need the help." But it did continue to get worse. It was at a point that my family, actually my brother, started to recognize some of the stress in my life that that was causing, and he knew a little bit more details about it. He called Todd.

I think then it became clear through some words that he spoke that, "You may have thought that you could do it on your own, but at this point, because you didn't come, because you weren't honest and open when you were $1,000 in debt or $100 in debt, now it's a bigger issue and those you come to now are going to have to get more involved. It's going to be a bigger crisis. It's going to take more work. It's a bigger problem to solve now than it would've been before."

What happened was there was grace and there was love and there was acceptance, and all of those things that I might've feared didn't happen. For whatever reason, I was deceived into believing that I couldn't be completely honest with everything that I struggled with. So five years or so later… I dealt with on and off sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully with issues of purity in my life.

About a year and a half ago, decided that I had had enough. Seeing others start to step out and seeing the reaction that they were getting that it wasn't quite as scary as I anticipated it to be. I started going to CR. I started to see people get vulnerable and broken and started to empathize with them and started to see that I wasn't different and that we all have issues that we're dealing with and that I was not alone in that.

I was able to share with guys in my Community Group and my sponsor in CR just all of the junk that had built up in my life and had really shaped me into the patterns of behavior that I had developed. What I realized is that what I was trying to do was to fix it on my own so that I wouldn't have to go in prayer to ask for forgiveness.

I think what I found along the way is that I just needed to let go and quit trying to do that on my own. Then when I did that, God stepped in. I say that it felt a little bit like you're hanging on a cliff and to let go means that you're going to fall. You're going to destroy maybe not only yourself but others in your life.

Holding on to that thing even though you hate it, even though you don't want it, you have to keep holding on to that cliff. As I walked into recovery and Celebrate Recovery into the inventory process, to me it felt like letting go of the cliff. The irony of that is that it's not a long drop and that others are there to catch you. So I didn't need to fear letting go.

What I thought would've been rejection was actually encouragement that you don't have to be perfect to be in leadership. You don't have to keep your façade up that says you're perfect and you don't struggle with things and that's what defines a leader. No, what defines a leader is someone who is authentic.

By God's grace, I continue to walk in purity and discipline. That's something that I always longed for: to have that discipline and be able to be close to God without the guilt of knowing that I continue to struggle with things that were just getting the best of me.

[End of video]

Todd: The great thing is this week, Burke and I talked on Monday night. I just said, "Hey bro, here's the deal. You can start leading again right now. Not just serving, leading, and share your story. Everybody can relate to the fact that they can't let go." Burke was one who made me think of this whole little Young Life skit I used to do.

He said, "I was hanging on. I couldn't let go. I was digging my fingernails as much as I could. Every part of me was straining. People around me were feeling the anxiety of my life and they didn't even know why because I wouldn't let go because I knew I would just fall to my death. Then when I finally did, either through being exposed or just because I didn't have any ability to hold on any longer, I realized I just fell this far.

This whole time I've been suffering, having others around me suffer, and hurting the name of God because I was convinced that it was the Royal Gorge down there. God just kept saying, 'Come. Come.'" You see, you can't just know the truth. You have to walk in it. That's what sets you free. We know, we know…we're unique just like you…how scary your deal is.

I'll say this, gang. It breaks my heart that sometimes the only place that we can get it here… Watermark is on Monday nights at CR and then in January, starting on Friday nights as well. I love that it's there on Mondays and now Fridays. When it's in every Community Group, when we all live this way? That's when we'll be the healthy church that we want to be.

So if you can't get it in your Community Group, then step into a place where everybody there has jumped off, stepped off, inched off on Monday nights. We're going to ask you, the thousands who have been through Monday night with us, to go back and say, "Gang, I went first. Now let me hold your hand off that board, because the ground is solid."

Let me tell you, there are four areas that are at risk. This is what I shared with Burke a number of years ago. Man, when the financial piece, before the other piece came out? I just said, "Burke, here's what just happened. That family of yours we've been praying for to deeply experience all that we've wanted to experience? They've missed out. And not only them, but now the family that's right here with you. Let me just walk you through the four the way I did it to him.

Firstly, because we've waited, like I said… As we got away from it, once we dealt with the immediate situation, do you see what's happened now that is a much greater exposure? Time is longer, crisis is bigger. We're limited in what our solutions can be to the crisis that's there. Now we're going to still watch God rush in.

It's just going to take longer for this wound that has widened to heal and for the infection to come out. Hey, here's where we are, but let's just remember this. To his credit he said, "Todd, I heard it then, but I still had other areas I wasn't ready to step off on. It took me another five years."

Secondly, it increases the pain that others have to endure with them because a decision is made without counsel and shared wisdom. In other words, you may not know that other people can experience the tension. We don't know exactly why some stuff was going on in the areas of Burke's leadership, but we just knew there was something. You know? Kids, wife, community, family, church? There was something there that we endured with him until… Because we didn't even know he was hanging on, but we could tell something just wasn't full.

Thirdly, it allows nonbelievers… And this is what I shared. The family we've been talking about doing life together authentically as a church the way Jesus intended church? They go, "Oh really? Except for areas that are embarrassing, huh?" You know. It causes them to scoff when they see us suffering because we're isolated and not applying wisdom where we say, "This is a place where you can apply wisdom."

Are we really set apart? Are we the church that Christ wants? Then we have to live this way and not wait until yellow tape shows up around our house or people in blue knock on our door and say, "Hey, man. We have to tell you. Do you know what's been going on with your husband?"

Fourthly, it's a lost opportunity. It's a lost opportunity for the individual to model and/or lead others down a path of humility and wisdom. I said, "Burke, all these years you've had a chance to be the guy out front. Like so many other people say, 'Hey, I'm not afraid to follow Jesus. I know it feels like I'm way up here, but follow me. Watch me step on the life.'"

Do you know what's so beautiful about our King? Is there's no probationary period with him. Burke is leading 5,000 of us today saying, "Step off with me. Todd might drop you, Noelle, but God won't drop you people. God won't drop you. If his voice says, 'Come, stand firm in the faith.' Don't trust your community. Trust God, and he says trust your community."

Gang, there's one area specifically that we've put together a curriculum. I want to tell you about the financial deal. This is for healthy and not healthy people right now. On January 17… If you're not really sure this is a thing we've put together… If you've been through Crown, we still recommend this highly.

If you've been through other things, this is a chance for you to begin to walk with others in one area that Jesus says, "Choose this area, because this area, like no other area, shows where your heart is." When men can be real and vulnerable and women about how they're stewarding what God has given them or how they have not stewarded well what God has given them, God says some real transformation begins to happen.

If your community is ready, we want every community to go through this material in the next six months. That means if you're not in community, come on January 17. We'll have you dive in with others who are or if your community isn't sure they should, invite them to come with you on January 17 and say, "Let's just investigate for a day what that would really entail."

I will tell you, according to Jesus in John 8, if you choose not to do that in this area and in every other area, it's not the Holy Spirit you're listening to. I would tell you to be aware because there is an Enemy on the prowl. He doesn't want you to be in the herd of truth. He doesn't want you to step off to freedom. Will you step with me?

We can't just have a great purpose statement about authenticity here. We have to be authentic. If this is your day to come, would you come and let us get connected with you? If you've never come to the one who says, "Trust me with your sins," would you come and let us talk to you about that?

If you've come to him for your sins, and you're ready to step out in the light and say, "Here's my Achilles heel. Here's an area that I'm living in right now that Christ could show up in." Talk to us. Put your name in that little perforated section. Step off to life. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.


About 'What in the World are You Thinking?'

How do you look at the world? What influences your perspective on the challenges and people you interact with every day? In this 10-part series, Todd Wagner explains why your worldview ? the lens you look at the world through ? matters. You?ll discover what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how our failure to look at the world through God?s "lens" impacts our lives, culture and our world.