Relationships never worked for me until I got the most important relationship solved. Today, my story. I think it will be a help to you. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Well, in just a minute, Chip will pick up where he left off in our series, Keeping Love Alive, Volume 4. But before we begin, to help you get the absolute most out of this teaching, let me encourage you to download Chip's message notes. They contain his outline, scripture references, and so much more.
Get them by going to the broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org, tap listeners, tap fill in notes. Well, Chip begins the second half of his talk, a life-giving relationship with God, by sharing how he came to know Jesus. Well, let's dive in. I just graduated from high school. I had a basketball scholarship. Those of you that maybe have an athletic background, I was a gym rat, and all I cared about was sports. And a coach said, there's a conference.
It's not too far from here, and all the best players from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia will be there, and I'll pay your way. And I show up, and it was like I got dropped. This was 1972, and I thought I got dropped into the land of Jesus freaks. It was like, oh my gosh, t-shirts with big crosses on them.
The only time I said Jesus was in the locker room with an expletive behind it or before it. And it was like, oh my, where has he sent me? I had pretty much rejected the church, didn't assume, you know, there's some being that created everything.
I don't know who he is. If he was like the people in my church, I didn't really want to get to know him very well. And so I thought, you know, these religious freaks, you know, they would have a time in the morning, 20 minutes, and you got a sort of a good news Bible that was, later I realized, was pretty easy to understand. And you were supposed to read the Bible and I guess talk to God. And then you had breakfast, and then you had a speaker, and Tom Landry came. That was part of the thing. I thought, I was a Cowboys fan.
How bad can it be if Tom Landry's there? And then I met all these professional college athletes that we're talking to about Jesus like he was a person. What? I'd never heard the phrase, a personal relationship with God. To me it was, you know, you go to church good, you miss church bad, keep missing a lot of church, you go to hell.
If it's fun, it's wrong. God's mad. You know, from Sunday school, Jesus seems kind of okay, but his dad seems like he's really ticked off most of the time. You know, I mean I had a completely warped view of God. And I went to that camp and for three days I would not open that Bible because these dudes are not going to indoctrinate me into their Jesus stuff. But I saw their life.
And I mean, yeah, we get to play a lot of hoop and a lot of all kind of stuff. And I just, it was one point, I remember saying there was 600 college and high school athletes and a bunch of pros came and shared their story. You know, like day three I thought, can this many people fake it this well? I mean, I literally thought, this must be a big con job, right?
They all act like this to try and get you into their deal. And I remember just, you know, out of peer pressure, like day number four, I just opened the Bible. And the good news, my question, if God exists, what does he really want? I urge you therefore, my brothers and sisters, in view of how much God loves you and all that he's done for you, what he really wants is for you to give all that you are and all that you have to him.
Because that's really what's on God's heart. And don't be conformed to this current world and all its hypocrisy and all of its lust. But instead, let your mind be renewed with the truth that your actual life could prove and demonstrate what God's will is, that it's actually good and acceptable and perfect. And then through the grace given to me, I say to every one of you, don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.
But think of yourself the way God sees you, with sound judgment. And I had never heard of the Holy Spirit, or at least I didn't know anything about it. But as I read those verses, literally a video went on in my mind. And it was like, I saw myself in my bedroom praying that prayer and verse one answered it.
And then the video continued, don't be conformed. I saw myself just in my mind a little video of sweet talking a girl here and acting like a jerk in the locker room here and acting like the American boy over here. And then don't think too highly of yourself. I was pierced. And later that day, the wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and the fullback for Illinois were walking ahead of me. And there are all these athletes, and they're big and strong, and I'm this scrawny, and I'm behind them.
Just about four or five feet, I can hear about every second or third word. And I'd never seen a grown man love another grown man. And all I can tell you was, it literally was like, I don't know what they have, but that's what I've been looking for. That's what I want.
What would it be like to just be yourself and to be loved and to be a part of a real team? And I start thinking, maybe these guys are onto something. And that night, that fullback got up and he sang the Lord's Prayer. And a guy got up and shared what I shared earlier about being born again. And he quoted a verse in Revelation. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone will open the door, I'll come into him and live with him and he with me. And I prayed probably a really bad prayer. Hey, God, this is Chip. And I'm not sure what this is all about. And I remember thinking, even as I was praying, you know, I didn't know words like repentance or any of that. But as I was praying, I had some stuff going on that was really, really wrong. And I just kind of had this moment like, I don't think I can con you on this one. I don't think I can pray and ask you to come into my life and willfully just keep doing this jazz. And it was like, whatever it means for you to come into my life, forgive me for my sins. God, I'm desperate.
Would you do that? And he did. That was the summer of 1972. And then what happened is I went away to school and, you know, some radical changes. Two weeks into it, I have no explanation because my mouth, I just stopped cussing and I couldn't understand it. But I mean, every night I took that little New Testament, I hid it under my pillow so my parents wouldn't think I'd, you know, freaked out and become a Jesus freak. And I mean, they went to church and I don't think they would have been opposed looking back, but it was just like, and I couldn't put it down. I read it at night and read it in the morning, read it at night, read it in the morning, read it at night. And it was like, I was reading the New Testament. I was like, this is like weird.
Does someone have like a tape recorder under my bed? How could anyone know these thoughts that you have inside? I had no idea it was God speaking to me through His Word. And He changed my desires and He changed my life. And then I went away to school and I struggled. And, you know, you're on a basketball team and most of you know what, it's pretty tough to be an out there believer in the military, isn't it?
Talk about swimming upstream and the peer pressure. And so it was Bible study on Thursday night, you know, and then hit all the bars with the basketball team. And because my dad was a drinker, I didn't drink, I was the guy that would introduce us to all the girls, you know. And I lived a double life. And I came to the conclusion, took about a year, year and a half, the most miserable people on the face of the entire earth are not lost people. When I was sinning and when I was lost, I didn't feel guilty. In fact, I mean, people who say, oh, all those terrible things, I got news, I really enjoyed a lot of those terrible things.
I mean, the consequences are terrible, but, you know, I wouldn't go like, oh, man, I feel so terrible, but no. But now that the Spirit of God was living inside of me, it was like I had one foot in the world and one foot, it was like this. And I think the great majority of Christians in our day are living that life.
One person at the base, another person at home, one person at church, another person on the internet, different person shopping, different person drinking, different person's language. Guilt, shame, repeat, rinse, guilt, shame, repeat, rinse, start not liking yourself. And then at some point, you either just fake it or you change your beliefs. That's what's happening in our colleges. You know, when you go away to school and everyone's sleeping with one another and smoking dope and drinking and having fun, I'm not sure I believe in God. You know why?
It has nothing to do with intellect. It's the tension in your mind and heart when you know this is right and you're doing this, it's crushing, as it should be, because that's grace. And it requires a radical decision and about two years in, I understood this verse and I got on my knees like this and it was basketball and a girlfriend and I said, Father, I know I'm saved and on my way to heaven by your grace and on this day, in this moment, I want to offer my body as a living sacrifice. All that I am, all that I have, all that I ever have. I don't want you to be first place, I want you to be everything. If you say it in your word, I'll do it.
If I get flack for it, so be it. I can't live a double life. What happened in my life afterwards and what I've seen happen in literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, is they experience a power in their life like never before. There's so many anemic Christians, the reason a lot of people don't want to be Christians is they've met a lot of us.
I'm dead serious. But what I will tell you is you find someone who literally, in the words of the great theologian, Texas Hold'em, I'm all in. That's what God's looking for. By the way, that's not for pastors or missionaries, that's for every single believer. You'll never experience God's power, you'll never hear His whisper, you'll never see dramatic, supernatural answers to prayer.
You'll never see the trajectory of your life or He use you in ways that you never dream until you say to Him, I'm all in. The disciples changed the course of the world, not because there was a lot of them, but they were all in. If any man will come after me, Jesus said, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For if you seek to save your life, you will lose it. But if you will lose your life, let go of it, for my sake and the gospel, you will find it.
And so if you want to have a life-giving relationship with God, it's going to start with a spiritual birth and then a radical dedication. And the question I have for you, are you all in? You. I mean, and you know what, this isn't like on a scale of one to ten, it's just yes, I am.
Or no. And I think it's good to be honest. I mean, I think the Lord is near to the broken heart and those who are crushed in spirit. The Lord is near to those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him in truth.
I think we've really overrated having your life together and being moral and all this stuff. Jesus is looking for a man or a woman that you would just come and be ruthlessly on. This is where I'm really at. I'm not all that. Well, why?
Because I'm afraid if I was, this and this and this and this would happen. And Jesus said, let's talk about it. Really, let's really talk about it.
Stop faking it, stop acting, stop. Get down to the core, meet the person of Jesus. Finally, there's a daily battle, and I've already alluded to this. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is God's will. His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
It's a daily battle, right? Do you remember when Jesus went out and He was tempted by Satan? It's the very same three things that Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and it's the very same three things that 1 John tells us. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In our vernacular, it's sex, status, salary. Pleasure, power, position. The world says those things will make you significant, make you secure, and give you happiness. All I would say is let's go to all the top athletes that we can think of and all the movie stars that we can think of. If being pretty, being powerful, having lots of money would fulfill you, they would be the happiest people on the earth.
Why do guys throw away 20, 30, 40 million dollar contracts to do absolutely stupid things? It's because the enemy has a world system and none of us are immune, and we're bombarded by it all the time. What I want to tell you this daily battle is renewing your mind, putting good things in your mind, and recognizing it's a struggle for all of us.
But you progressively change. There's power. And that God really wants to give you something very, very, very good. But what do you need to believe about God's character to experience His love and power?
I'm going to suggest it's His goodness. When I got on my knees and said that and meant it, here was my concern. If I do this, it means this relationship I have with my present girlfriend needs to go. If I do this, I've spent my whole life trying to be this basketball player. What if God says I can't play basketball anymore?
And you've got yours, right? I mean, if you're all in, don't you think of all the things? In my mind, it was like, if I'm all in, God will make me be a missionary and go to some country where there's a lot of snakes, and I hate snakes, right?
I mean, here's the premise. The premise is, if you would turn with all your heart and all your energy and make Him the absolute focus of your life, bar none, that you're really going to miss out. Fear of missing out. It's the big FOMO.
You know what's behind your FOMO? A warp view of God. Psalm 84, 11 here, I memorized this verse, and every time it was like, you know, okay. And all I can tell you is, I ended up being an RA, and I ended up doing it God's way, and I watched the chaos and the shame and the brokenness, and I had those guys come into my room asking me, what do I do? I got her pregnant. Now she's overwhelmed. Now she's had an abortion. When you go outside God's bounds, hey, front end, pleasure, back end pain.
When you do it God's way, there's always front end pain, long-term pleasure. The Lord God is a sun and a shield. What's a sun? Source of energy and power.
A shield protection. The Lord gives grace and glory. What's grace? God pouring out what you don't deserve. Goodness, He knows your dreams, He knows your desires. And glory, the word literally, He wants to lift you up. Look at the last line.
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Man, I hung on to that. So I lived that out and made some hard decisions, and boy, I took a pretty big dip in my little basketball journey because of some of those things. And then it played out. And I got a letter from some group I'd never heard of who asked me if I could join some other guys, and I played more basketball in two summers in every country in South America and all throughout the Middle East with Olympic teams all over the world from a guy who was a skinny little point guard at an AIA school. God was saying, it was never basketball, Chip. And I got to share Christ.
And after I broke up with that girl, yeah, I cried, and it was emotional, and I thought I was going to marry her, and she was on this path, and I was on this path, and for about a year, a year and a half, I actually got to know women as sisters in Christ that I didn't have the lust for, that I learned to be friends with, that I understood how women think, and it prepared me to be a good husband. And God brought me the best. God's got your best in mind, your very, very best.
But what's it require? Faith. An invisible promise over against a lot of temptation. The second thing you have to believe about God is His, are you ready for this, His gentleness. In the context of all these things, Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. Anybody weary and burdened with shame and guilt and struggle and fights and, you know, junk in your marriage, and some with your kids, and some with, you know, weary, you're stationed, and some, anybody have any of that? Man, I have. If you promise, I'll give you rest.
Christianity isn't a set of principles to try hard to be nice and be moral. It's a person. God sent God the Son for you.
He loves you. It's a personal relationship. And, you know, the only requirement, come. And it's not clean your life up and come. It's just come with your weary, your burdened, your shamed, your junk. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.
Let's do life together like two yoke of oxen. And then what he says, this is the only time Jesus describes himself. He says, For I am gentle and humble. The word gentle here is a fascinating word.
Have you ever had a moment where you shared where you have really, really blown it with someone and looked into their eyes and instead of getting judgment, get understanding? I mean, really, I get it. I get it.
I understand. It doesn't mean it's right and there's stuff, but I... And it hasn't changed my opinion of you that much. This word gentle means that when you come to Jesus and you're just honest, you're not going to get, why didn't you come earlier? You did this, your sin and your suffering, the heart of Christ, it is just drawn to your pain. It's drawn to the things that you've never told anyone.
And he's just saying, If you would just be real and come to me, I'll lean in. I'll be with you in the nightmares. I'll be in with the shame. I understand where you were wounded. I understand where you wounded other people. And you know something? Bring it.
Bring it. You'll find rest for your soul. And he's not only gentle, but he's humble. The word means lowly. Did you notice in the New Testament how often he's helping people that no one cares about?
You know, five husbands here and the one you're living with, the prostitute here, the person who's marginalized. He understands you and loves you. And the only prerequisite is to come. Where he says, My yoke is easy, that word is not easy as opposed to like, oh, there's nothing to do. The word means delightful. My yoke is fitting. It'll wear well. It'll be, when you and I do life together, I think the best translation I could give you is, It's pleasant and my burden. Not your burden. He says, My burden is light. In other words, God has unlimited power, unlimited love. He's infinite.
He spoke the galaxies and the universe into existence. And for reasons I don't know, his heart, his initial response to your hurt and your suffering and your sin and your shame is just to want to help. And I don't think most of us see him that way. And if you don't see him that way, you won't go to him. And if you don't go to him, you'll have to make up your own little story and create your own little hologram and maybe have a little religion mixed in. Try hard to be sort of this good person. And even if you're successful, you will find yourself empty and hollow and broken. As one great theologian said, you've been made with a hole in your heart, a vacuum in your heart that only he can fill. Before we go any further, let me say something very, very clearly. The greatest gift you can give your mate is to be fully devoted to Jesus.
I don't mean superficially. I mean you're all in. Jesus becomes the focal point of your life. The words of Scripture, he becomes your Lord. You make decisions based on what Jesus wants. You surrender your future, your family, your dreams, your money. And yes, I know that sounds scary, but God says to us that true worship is the offering of ourselves as a living sacrifice.
It's not a transaction. And here's what I want you to get. It's so counterintuitive that God's biggest and best blessings flow from total surrender, getting the best from God, the richest marriage, having the wisdom as a parent to be the kind of man, the kind of woman you want to be, having the direction to get the kind of job, to have the kind of relationships. All of God's richest blessings begin when you say to Him, Almighty God, I bow before You now, and all that I am and all that I have is Yours.
And if that gives you a sense of fear, it ought to, because it's scary unless God is good, unless He's all-powerful, unless He's all-wise, and unless He loves you very, very deeply. But the fact of the matter is that He that spared not His own Son, but gave His all for you, how will He not freely give you all things? If you have never made this decision, I just would challenge you right now at this moment to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
It's as simple as a prayer and it's a commitment you have to keep recommitting. But you can say to Him right now, Almighty God, I'm all in. I'm all Yours. I'll do whatever You want me to do.
I will go wherever You want me to go. You direct my life and I will do what You say. I may struggle, I may not feel like it, but I'm committing today to follow You no matter what, because I believe that Your way is the best way, and this is what You've asked me to do.
Amen. Let me tell you, I've prayed with literally thousands of people that prayer and I've watched their life radically, radically change because they begin to experience God's power when they're all in. So let me encourage you, share what you've prayed today with someone you can really trust, get in the Scriptures and find one or two people that you say, let's do this together. Great encouragement, Chip. And if you're looking for additional help in developing a deeper relationship with God, check out our broadcast series, True Spirituality. Through Chip's teaching in Romans 12, you'll discover a clear blueprint to becoming a genuine follower of Christ.
To learn more about this series, go to special offers on the Chip Ingram app or at livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's still with me in studio here, and Chip, there are a lot of voices and resources out there offering marital advice for couples. And a few years back, you published a book on this subject called Marriage That Works. Would you take a minute and share why you wrote it and what makes it different than others like it?
I'd be glad to, Dave. I remember when the publisher was talking to me about writing a book on marriage, and I looked at him and I said, there's a lot of great books on marriage. I mean, I've read a ton of them, and from my own personal testimony and the issues that Teresa and I have had to work through, they've been really great. Why in the world do we need another book on marriage? And then we begin to talk out loud about what's happening inside and outside the church and the shifting of roles.
And there's a lot of great skill books and psychological books and practical books, but there's not a lot of, this is what the Bible says, this is God's design, this is what a covenant is. Men, this is what it looks like to be a man in your marriage. Women, this is what it looks like to be a woman. This is how you all fit together, and then filled with very practical ways, not a sense of aughts and shoulds and try hard. But this is God's design, this is what the Bible says, and this is actually how marriage works. Hey, God bless you, and I hope you'll grab that book today. Thanks, Chip. To order a copy of Marriage That Works, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003.
This book will help you better understand God's model for marriage, the roles of husbands and wives, and what it really means to be one with your spouse. Again, to get your hands on Chip's book, Marriage That Works, call 888-333-6003 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org. App listeners, tap Special Offers. As we wrap up, let me tell you about a great way to listen to our extended teaching podcast. Hear Chip anytime on your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. To get started, ask Alexa to enable the Chip Ingram podcast, and just say, Alexa, play the Chip Ingram podcast. It's that easy. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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