Let me tell you something today, and it's not meant to discourage you. The Christian life is absolutely impossible without one thing, and that's what I want to share with you today.
So stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. And that was quite the cliffhanger Chip teased us with just now.
So what is the foundational building block of our Christian life, and why is it so essential? Chip's going to share that answer with us today as he picks up in his series, The Four Great Invitations. But before we get going, if you've been encouraged by this series so far, would you take a minute after this message and share it with a friend?
You can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s that you'll find at livingontheedge.org. Let's join Chip now for the remainder of his talk, Follow Me. He begins by revisiting Peter's journey to better follow Jesus and what we can learn from it. Shortly after Jesus talked about, now I'm going to go. It's getting near the end of the ministry. I'm going to die three days later, and Peter takes him aside. May it never be.
You know, you can't die. See, Peter's got this picture of, you're going to take down Rome. You're going to clean up the Jewish system.
There's going to be 12 thrones. I'm going to be one of your right-hand guys. I mean, you're the Messiah. You're the king.
You're going to make everything right, and you're going to do it right now. And Jesus, remember his words? Get behind me, Satan.
And do you remember his explanation? Because you have the things of man on your mind instead of the things of God. What he wanted was the crown without the cross.
And I don't know about you, but I get that way. And Peter blew it on this one. And so after he crawls back in forgiveness, he begins to walk where Jesus restores him. And he did it in such a way where he wanted Peter to own. Yes, you blew it.
You were confident in yourself, and you messed up. It doesn't mean I've given up on you. And then you find where Peter starts to run. He preaches the first message. He becomes one of the great leaders of the church.
And that's the pattern. And so I would just encourage you, if you look up these verses maybe this week, do a little study. And then I encourage you to think about your own life.
When did I start crawling, and when have I walked, and when have I stumbled? And so I told you last time that I came to Jesus at Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp. I didn't really know much, but he said he's standing at the door of my heart. If I would open the door and put my faith in him, he would come into my life, forgive my sin, take up residence.
He did. And my desire started to change, and I had a joy that I'd never, never experienced. I could not put the Bible down.
I hid it under my pillow. And then within a couple months, I went away to college. And I went away to college mostly to play basketball and maybe get an education on the side. And I thought, you know, I didn't really know what a Christian was because I'd rejected religion and my church experience. And so I had one small little poster that, I can't remember the picture, but it said, to the glory of God. I thought, I didn't know what that meant exactly, but I put that one poster up, and I put my Bible, I put it on my dresser.
And it's those old school rooms where, you know, two people roomed. I thought, I don't know what my roommate is, where he's coming from, but, you know, this who I am, and I'm not ashamed of being a Christian. And so as a guy walked by, and it was an athletic dorm, and he kind of knocked on the door and said, hey, what's up?
And he was the fullback on the football team. And he saw my little poster. He said, you're a Christian. And it's like my first time I said, well, yeah.
I didn't know one was, but yeah, you know. And he goes, hey, you're coming with me tonight. We're gonna go to a Bible study. So it was a tiny, tiny little town where you could walk, and it had just one bar and a little red church and a little white church. I mean, tiny area in West Virginia, but a beautiful, kind of beautiful campus up on this big hill.
And three or four or 5,000 students, something like that, but a lot of commuters. And so we walk uptown, and we meet Dave the bricklayer. And I'd never been to a Bible study before, and it was me and the fullback and two other guys, and I didn't know what to expect. All I can tell you was it was pretty boring. The guy, the bricklayer was like, you know, some people were really charismatic. He was very non-charismatic. He had a high school education.
Down to earth would be an understatement. And I thought, well, you know, this is interesting. And so, you know, I went back because the fullback said I should, and he was really big, so I obeyed him. And I remember Dave said, hey, would you like to learn to study the Bible? And I wasn't really attracted to the guy, but it's kind of like saying I'm a swimmer, and someone says, would you like to learn to swim?
You sort of feel obligated. And so I said, oh, sure. You know, so he on Tuesday mornings would come at 7 o'clock, and he would come and teach me how to study the Bible. There was a little kitchenette on the floor, and we'd go there, and he'd open the Bible. And again, it was not dynamic.
It was not exciting. He would just open. We'd read a little bit. He'd ask me a few questions, and, you know, I'd never prayed out loud before, and so like he would pray, and I would sort of mumble a couple things. And so I was starting sort of to crawl, to walk. Pretty soon they called it a rally, and there was maybe 20, 30 kids, and, you know, sitting on the floor, and playing guitar, and singing, and saying Jesus out loud, and it's just like, you know, where am I? You know, this is like the outer limits, but something, there's a real sense of God's presence, and, you know, that bricklayer would get up and kind of read a little bit from the Bible, and I heard these different people in their lives, and how they'd come to Jesus, and they cared, they loved, and something just drew me to it.
And then basketball season started, and I have these new basketball friends, and, you know, you want to kind of make the traveling team as a freshman, and you want them to like you, and so, you know, I'm playing a lot of basketball, and working out really hard, and there's a little thing like going to class, and then Friday the guys on the team said, hey, we're going down to Wheeling, gonna hit a few bars, and you coming? Well, yeah, you know, so, you know, I'm in the car with the guys, and because my father was an alcoholic, at least, I didn't drink just because I saw what that did, but I had the people skills, so I would be the guy that introduced us to all the cute girls in all the bars, and we'd bar hop, and, you know, get home at, you know, two or three in the morning, and Friday and Saturday night, and sometimes, you know, I made it to church maybe once a month, and then I'd go to Bible study and get all fired up, and then I'd go hit the bars on Friday and Saturday, and then I, you know, all I can tell you was my life was like I was schizophrenic, and I couldn't have been more sincere, and Dave would come and knock on my door, and it'd be like, I'd pretend I was asleep, like, I do not want to meet with that bricklayer, and then I'd go on Thursday night, and God would speak to me, and I'd remember where I was and what a phony I used to be, and now he'd see me start to play some of those games again, and then with Christian friends, I put on this face, and then in the basketball guys, I put on this face, and with girls, I put on this face, and I found myself reverting back to a lot of the old, and it was stumble, stumble, stumble, and I was miserable, and I just had one foot, honestly, with the Lord, and one foot in the world, and I felt like there was a horse pulling me in both directions, and I just felt guilty a great majority of the time, and then internally, when I wasn't doing things that I knew were wrong, I was just, we all have our issues, I just felt like lust was something I just couldn't overcome. I mean, I know I was supposed to have pure thoughts, and we'd sit as a basketball team, there was a cafeteria on the bottom floor of the freshman girls' dorm, and it had like six levels, and so they would come in to get their food, and we were just crass, you know, 3.2, 8.9, rate every girl very specifically, and it was just ugly and crude, and I'd feel guilty, and then I would pray, and then I'd ask God to forgive me, and I just remember getting on my knees, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'll never do that again, I'll never do that again, I'll never do that again, until the next day when I did it again. And finally, I went from stumble to fall, and I just decided, I guess I can't live this life, and so I took my Bible, and I opened a drawer, and I put it in the drawer, and I took down my little poster, and literally, it was almost this formal, dear God, it's Chip again, thanks for everything you did, I really do believe in you, but I can't hack it, I'm done, I quit. I'm not a Christian anymore, I'm not gonna read the Bible, I'm not gonna try and be good, not gonna go to Bible study, I just want to officially resign. I didn't know, I didn't know if you could do that or not, but I did it, and so I went about my day, and got up the next day, and I lusted like normal, and I did the same thing, and then I felt guilty, and I felt this conviction, and it was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I just went, Michael, Gabriel, can you get the message out, I'm done, I'm out, I don't, and I remember talking to an older guy, and he goes, so you quit, huh, I said, yeah, but how come God keeps messing with me, I mean, I'm done, I can't live this life, I'm a failure, and he said, well, can I ask you something, I said, sure, he said, before you were a Christian, you sinned, obviously, like we all do, yes, and he named a few very specific sins we were both familiar with, I said, did you enjoy that, I said, absolutely, he said, did you feel guilty afterwards, I said, a little, not much, I thought actually he was a pretty good guy, I always compare myself to other people who were like axe murderers and stuff, and I thought, you know, I'm no Billy Graham, but I'm not an axe murderer, so, you know, and he said, well, when you sin now, and we were pretty specific, he said, how do you feel, I said, well, while I'm sinning, I feel pretty good, but afterwards, it's terrible, it's just weight of guilt, and he says, well, that's really good news, I said, why is that, he says, because when the spirit of God comes into your life and seals you, he's a jealous God, you're his son, and then he took me to this passage in 2 Timothy, it says, this is a trustworthy statement, if we died with him, we'll also live with him, if we endure with him, we'll also reign with him, if we disown him, he'll disown us, in other words, I said, you know, God, forget it, then, okay, no blessing, if we are faithless, he remains faithful, because he cannot deny himself, he said, Chip, do you remember when you prayed, and he's standing at the door, and he died for your sins, and said if you would open the door, he would come into your life, and you said yes, yeah, who else said yes, I said Jesus, he said he keeps his commitments, he said, Chip, that's why there's a lot of verses about God's discipline, he doesn't throw people out of the family, he brings the velvet vice of discipline, you're going to be miserable, and if your misery doesn't get you to turn around and get on the right path, then he'll allow you to be more miserable, and I thought, oh, come on, and my God was basketball, I didn't realize it was really me, basketball was just the cover, but I had this, I'm gonna be this great player, and it'd be 25 points a game, and afterwards, it's all Jesus, it's all Jesus, you know, I wanted Jesus to make my life work out, so I could be a great someone, basketball was just my idol.
And so freshman year, gosh, made the traveling team, started to get into the rotation as a freshman, and stress fracture in my foot, there goes that year, next year, it's my year, I'm gonna be a sophomore, I'm really gonna do it, and I played baseball as well, I came out of the batter's box in fall baseball, getting ready, and pulled my quad from the top all the way out, there goes year number two. Year number three, it was literally, it was literally like the vice of, okay, as long as, you know, you're gonna think that basketball is your God, with this girlfriend or so on the side, in His kindness, He just kept, and I remember my great lordship moment, I would love to say, was, you know, this deep, I really want to respond in ways, and I remember coming to the point where I realized, God loves me so much, that He will not let me have my own way, and I can keep going the way I am, and I suppose I can harden my heart, the Bible talks about getting to where you can actually sear your conscience, and I just remember saying, okay, Lord, I, all I know is, in my strength, in my power, with my willpower, with my best efforts, I can't live this Christian life, I can't have pure thoughts, I'm a hypocrite, and I know it, and I'm in desperate need of help, and that hitting bottom was the turning point in my life, I can't do it, in fact, you might jot this down, if you haven't taken any notes, you can just write this down, the Christian life is not hard, semicolon, it's impossible, the only one that could live it is Jesus, and the Christian life is not seeing how Jesus lived, or what He said, and trying hard to be like that, the Christian life is being connected to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, undergirded by the word of God, in the context of deep, authentic community, where the life of Christ is actually produced inside of you, and is lived out through you, and your personality, and your gifts, and your world, in fact, there's a picture, when I was in the midst of all of this, and the guy told me, well, the good news is that you feel such conviction, you really are a believer, and he said, the bad news is, is that you're going about it all wrong, and you're trying to fake it, he said, this is a journey, in Peter's life, did you notice? He crawled, he walked, he stumbled, he fell, he crawled, as you followed Jesus with all your heart, you know, it's a patchwork affair, no one's life is up and to the right, you're not gonna meet someone, somewhere, somewhere, that just has got it all together, and loves God, and is in His word, and is caring, and is Christ-like character, and doesn't, everybody has issues, everyone came, are you ready from a dysfunctional family, except for Adam and Eve, and after chapter three, they got dysfunctional in a hurry, and passed it on to all of us, and he said, here's the deal, Chip, he says, I'll help you, but Christ doesn't want to be like a part of your life, to help you get your stuff done, you do understand, He is at the center of the universe, He is the Lord of Lord, and the King of Kings, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess, He spoke the galaxies into existence, by His word all things hold together, He is the icon, or the image of the invisible God, it was His pleasure that all the fullness dwells in Jesus, Jesus is at the peak, the preeminence of all things, and He has to have the same place in your heart that He has in the universe, but the way that happens isn't just by trying hard, He's giving us His word, man shall live by bread alone, but by every word, His word is powerful, it's not about you read the little Bible, and you know, I read three chapters today, it's the written word becoming the living word that's sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing the vision of soul and spirit, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of your heart, and can bring about change, and then He wants you to talk to Him, not just read little prayers like you used to, but I mean, be authentic, He's near to the broken heart, and those who see who are crushed in spirit, He wants you to be real, the moment you're real, no matter where you're at, and you're really honest, He'll rush to meet you, and then He said, this fellowship, no one can do this, Chip, you're struggling, guess what, every Christian you meet, if they got honest for three minutes, you would all say, I'm struggling here, you're struggling there, we're struggling here, it's a fallen world, and we have the enemy, we have our own distorted desires, and we have a world system that's positioned to pull us away from our first love, so you desperately need these people, this isn't about coming to meetings, it's not about just being in a Bible study, it's about this connection from the heart, we're in desperation, you pull back the masks, and you allow the Spirit of God and the Word of God and authentic community to birth this life and this strength, you don't have to go try and tell everybody about this or that, when your life is changing like that, people will begin to ask you about the hope that's in you, as you hear God's voice from a prompting, from his word, through the words of someone, then you learn to obey, and you say, I can't, and you say, okay, so, Lord, I'm gonna trust your promise, I'm going to take this step, see the invitation that he gave Peter, now he gives to us, he invites you and me to follow him, and he was saying to them all, and to us, if anyone wishes to come after me, listen, he must deny himself, take up his cross, how often, daily, and follow me, and then here he gives the reason, for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, he will save it, for what will it profit if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself, and the context here is not even so much about eternity, he's talking to people about being disciples. I wanted to use Jesus to make me this, quote, somebody, so people would like me, that was all my family script, to get Jesus and use him so I could be a someone to make me happy and successful and all the rest, and Jesus said, you have to die to that, you have to die to thinking, the next job, the startup, the girl, the marriage, the kids, if we can finally have them, the house, whatever it is, you have to die to that. Deny yourself, take up your cross and say, you love me and you know what's best, you're the way, I wanna follow you on this path, and what matters most is you. And what he promises is, when you do that, and as we do that, all these other things, seek first his kingdom, his agenda, and his righteousness, and all the other things will be added to you, but you really gotta have first things in first place, and what I found out was, little by little, I actually found out that bricklayer wasn't so uncool, I share how uncool and how undynamic, because I think we're living in a world that's so about flash and not substance, so much about facade and fame, and you know what he did? He wouldn't give up on me.
An older guy told him, you know, Ingram is a loser, he's a flake, Dave, you're wasting your time, but Dave wouldn't quit, he just kept coming on Tuesday morning, and it wasn't like he wanted me in a Bible study or wanted me some Christian goody-two-shoes, and he invited me up, and I found myself a couple times a week at times eating around his table, and I came from a dysfunctional family, from about 13 to 17, my dad was gone, thank God for coaches, he was just gone, I didn't know what a man was, and I sat around Dave's table and I watched, what do families do, they eat meals together like this, and then I watched him come down smelling with all this cologne with a tie on, I mean, this is a blue collar, hardcore guy, his hands were so rough it was like shaking hands with a lobster from laying those brick, and he was this manly man, and he had a tie on, the coat on, what are you doing, he goes, I'm going on a date, I said, with who, he said, who do you think, Polly, my wife, and what, a man goes on a date with his wife, I watched my parents for 20 years, I didn't see them ever go on a date, I rarely saw them hug, I rarely saw, I mean, what is this, and then I watched him with his kids, and I watched him with me, and then I worked part time with him and I saw how he treated people, then I remember being in the truck with him and someone was broke down, it's pouring rain, and he pulls over, and he gets underneath these things and fixed this guy's car, when I got done with my three or four years around Dave, this uncool guy had this impact on me, I wanted to be a man like Dave someday, I wanted to be a Christian like Dave, I wanted, instead of my life and how I was living it, with, oh, how many people could you date, I wanted someday, some way, to have a Polly, and God gave me it, when I said no to the junk and yes to that, and then I wanted to have the kind of marriage that he had, I wanted to be the kind of dad that he was, I wanted to be the kind of person that cared the way he cared, it was just so attractive, and he wasn't cool, and it wasn't external, it was the beauty coming out from inside of him, and he was this just down to earth guy that read his Bible, loved people, and cared about me, and from that little group of three or four, we grew to about 250 in Bible study in the next two or three years, and I could tell you if people like myself and others in every continent around the world, that we take our spiritual lineage back to a brick layer with a high school education, who just followed Jesus, and basically never said it out loud, but just follow Jesus the way I do, and I will tell you, there's not enough money, there's not enough fame, there's not enough likes, there's not enough esteem, there's not enough success in all the world that will ever deliver the invitation that Jesus delivers. Follow me, I will make you a fisher of men, purpose, to discover why you're on this earth, to crawl and walk and stumble and fall and mess up and get back up, and allow God to even take the worst things you've done and reorient them around his grace to love people, and see him work through you the way Dave did in me, I will tell you, there's nothing better, nothing more glorious. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and the message you just heard, Follow Me, is from our series, The Four Great Invitations. Chip will be back to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. Do you have a mentor? That one person with lots of life know-how who you trust for wisdom and guidance? Well, if not, in this series, Chip will be that mentor for us as he shares some vital lessons he's learned through five decades of walking with Jesus, and he'll unpack how his experiences relate to four essential invitations Jesus challenged his disciples with throughout the Gospels. Don't miss how these biblical insights can encourage, motivate, and comfort you through all aspects of life. Learn more about this series by going to livingontheedge.org.
That's livingontheedge.org. Well, I'm joined in studio now by Chip, and Chip, before we hear your application, talk to that person interested in learning more about the Bible and God, but doesn't know where to begin. Take a minute and highlight a tool we've developed that will help him get started.
Well, thanks, Dave. I would love to do that. If you have a difficult time studying the Bible, honestly, I think you're liking the great majority of Christians that I know, and often I hear people say, I don't know what it means. I don't know where to start. I mean, it's a really thick book, and there's a lot of names I can't pronounce, and there's a lot of different countries and times. And let me just tell you, the Word of God was written by the Holy Spirit through the apostles and the prophets, and it was designed for everyday people just like you and me.
And so here's my offer. I will teach you how to study the Bible for yourself. I'll meet with you individually. It's called Daily Discipleship with Chip, and it's not just going through some passages of the Bible. I'm going to go through them in a way where you'll actually learn to study the Bible, to make observations, to discover that, you know, just like a piece of literature, you can know what was happening in the author's life, and when did he write it, and what was the purpose to the first century, and what are the principles that apply today. And more importantly, you're going to hear God speak directly to you. And so join me one-on-one, and let's learn to study the Scriptures together. Now let me tell you how this works. For each series, I begin with a short teaching video, no longer the 10 minutes, and then there's a little assignment that I'm going to ask you to take 10 minutes on your own and do some study.
And here's what I know. People that have done this with me, who make it a habit just to spend 20 minutes with me day after day for somewhere between 10 days to a couple weeks, they learn to hear God's voice. They learn to discern the Spirit. God begins to change them from the inside out.
This is a habit that you cannot afford not to develop. Thanks, Chip. If you're looking for a practical way to transform your faith, sign up for Daily Discipleship with Chip at dailydiscipleship.com. Through our new website, you can peruse all our current courses and read some inspiring testimonies of how this free resource has impacted others. Over 200,000 people have learned to study God's Word at a deeper level with Chip's help. So why don't you join them?
And while you're at it, invite a few friends to do it with you. So if you're ready for a spiritual breakthrough, sign up for Daily Discipleship with Chip today by visiting the new dailydiscipleship.com. That's dailydiscipleship.com. You know, Chip, there's a big misunderstanding in Christian and non-Christian circles that says following Jesus means giving up everything. But that's not the entire picture. Talk about how your bricklayer friend Dave helped you realize a genuine relationship with Jesus actually offers much more in this life. Well, Dave, I do talk about my bricklayer friend Dave Marshall quite a bit, because he had such an imprint on my life, and he was such a regular person. And I think early on, following was all the things I had to give up, like, okay, basketball's an idol in my life, and I'm dating a non-Christian, and my priorities were out of whack. But the closer and closer I got to Dave and his life and his family and his marriage and his kids, following became an adventure.
It became the path to, you want a great life, Chip? I mean, do you really want the things that really count? Do you want that which will last? And, you know, do you want a marriage like that? You want to become a man like that?
You want to be a dad like that? And pretty soon it was like, wow, following Jesus is the ticket to the life that's really safe. And I think the second thing I realized was I longed for purpose.
You know, I was very insecure. I found my purpose in sports and impressing people or pleasing people. And I think when I began to follow Jesus, I realized it's much more than a cause. He is leading us toward the finality of all history, and he has invited me, this regular, ordinary person, just like the bricklayer Dave, to be a part of changing the world. And so following became for me a purpose and direction and joy, and the payoff was so much greater than money or fame or kind of what other people happen to think. Follow Jesus. Get into his word. Find some people that are serious about following him, and it is the life that's really life.
I don't want you to miss it. Inspiring words, Chip, thanks. Just before we close, I want to quickly thank those of you who regularly give to Living on the Edge.
You're making a big difference in helping Christians live like Christians. But if you're benefiting from our ministry in some way and aren't a regular giver yet, let me encourage you to join the Living on the Edge team. Now, you can do that by setting up a recurring donation at livingontheedge.org or texting donate to 74141.
It's that easy. Text the word donate to 74141 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners tap donate. Thanks for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, for all of us here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge. We'll be right back with another edition of Living on the Edge.
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