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Best Of: What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
August 3, 2022 7:00 pm

Best Of: What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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August 3, 2022 7:00 pm

From our Archive, Stu is joined by Pastor J.D. Greear to discuss his book, "What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?" J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC and founder of J.D. Greear Ministries.

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That is a great question, and you think I'm kidding. I'm not because I'm sitting next to a man who wrote a book by this title. His name is JD Greer, and this might be one of my favorite of JD Greer's books.

He's written a bunch. He's the president of Southern Baptist Convention. He's a pastor, a father, a husband. He loves Jesus, and I've known this guy for too long, but JD, what have you come up with now, man?

What's going on with this thing? You know, before we jump into that, can we just at least acknowledge where our relationship began? We kind of grew up with the same church. You're a little bit older than me, and then your dad hired me to cut grass at your house, at which point I was like, why isn't Stu Jr. doing that?

We go back a long time. I was playing ball, okay? I'm going to just be honest with you.

You know what? Somebody had to take care of the house, and that was me. Then there was that nursery at Salem Baptist Church, and we're not going to get into that because it was a no bully zone, and so we tried to take care of you. It wasn't bullying. I don't know what it was. It was sort of like the mafia thing, like you took care of me for a while, and then I cut your grass later. Well, you know, it all worked out, and now do you still remember the little people with all these books?

I mean, you know, just the little guys like us? I mean, I can't believe I'm getting this interview. This is awesome, man. But it's neat to see what God's doing, and it's neat to see that you still love Jesus after all these years, and you wrote this book to really ignite. Back up.

Why did you write this book? Let me see you go further back. Who is J.D. Greer? For people listening, watching this on our YouTube channel and wherever they're listening, podcast, who is J.D.

Greer? Answer that question. So I'm a follower of Jesus who grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where we both originate from, and started to go into law, and then God called me into ministry really through a vision of, I think, 2.2 billion people that had never heard the name of Jesus, and then everything in my life started to look different. And just, I mean, if eternity is real and the gospel is true, then just that has to rearrange the priorities that we have in life. I realize not everybody's called into full-time ministry, and I understand that, but everybody is called to leverage their life for the Great Commission. And as a pastor now, I've been a pastor for right around 20 years, I just see, I get very disturbed at the amount of people who are wasting their lives, who are going to come to the end of their life and have achieved... I mean, they're going to have a nice little nest egg and maybe a second home or whatever it is that you put in your bucket for the American dream, and they're going to go into eternity having fully wasted the time that God gave them.

And so that's kind of what the burden was behind the book. I mean, we have a lot of college students that go to our church, so there's some questions in there for people at that stage of life to ask like, hey, are you leveraging your life for the things that really matter? But there's also questions for people that are, for example, headed into retirement. What's happening... How are you going to use the next two decades of what likely could be the freest and most impactful time of your life when you have the most to offer?

How are you leveraging that for eternity? What are you doing with your life? So this is a real basic, friends, ground level, and I was actually reading it to my daughter last night and talking about Clara, that story, unbelievable.

But I really like how your life... Growing up in the Bible Belt, growing up in a... You could have been, had a nice career or whatever, God calls everyone to different things. There's a lot of folks that serve in your church that you know that are marketplace ministers, and God's using them in a huge way. And yet you had to break the news to your parents.

Mom and dad, I know you have this thought, this illustrative legal career profile out there for me, but God's calling me to something kind of crazy. You had experience overseas where you went to places and you met people. I mean, what's it like to tell someone about Jesus who's never heard his name before?

He's never heard any of this stuff. Yeah. I can't remember if I tell the story in the book or not, but one of the most impacting Christmases that I ever had was one of the loneliest because I was by myself in Southeast Asia where I'd gone to be a missionary. And all the things that we... As we get ready to head into the Christmas season, all the things that you feel like make life worth living here, which is materialism, just the blessings that come with money, being close to family and friends.

I love all of those things, but I had none of them in Southeast Asia on this particular Christmas. And I went with some Muslim friends of mine for the day. They threw me a little party and I was able to tell them about Jesus. And I remember thinking, as lonely and as kind of sad and homesick as I was, I'm like, this really is the point of living to introduce to somebody to the good news about Jesus Christ. I know not everybody has a personality where you're standing on top of table tops or you're not Billy Graham, but everybody, God has enabled you to do something that impacts eternity. And one of the... You asked why I wrote it. I wanted to call the book Don't Waste Your Life because of a book I read 20 years ago by that title, by John Piper, that goes back to a message that he preached when I just graduated college.

It was called Passion, I think the year was 2000. And he just told this story about two women in their 80s who got killed in this car wreck overseas and how everybody in the community said their life was a waste, what were they doing over there in that dangerous part of the world. And he just had this moment where he said, that's not a waste, to use the last moments in your 80s to serve Jesus. He said, I'll tell you what's a waste. And then he read this story from, I think it was like Reader's Digest of this couple that had saved, retired early, were able to buy a vacation home in a yacht and go around the world and collect seashells.

And he's like, the American dream. He's like, that's what's a waste, that you're gonna spend the last 15 years of your life before you meet King Jesus collecting seashells and do nothing for eternity. And you got young people out there who, they got a lot of their life ahead of them.

And us old people now, it's just, you're a lot younger than me. But we say to these kids, and I got four kids, you got four kids, right? And we say to them, we ask them this question, where are you going to college? That question alone, think about it, that's assuming things. That's assuming, I mean, why don't we ask them, where are you planning churches?

Are you planning this go to Cambodia, where it's less than 1% Christian to help plan churches, or work in the underground church in China? But why don't we ask that question? We just assume they're gonna go off and get education. The kids are annoyed to death by that question, but this generation's kind of been placated to.

This book is challenging them. I'm reading this to my daughter, she's like, is that a girl for real? Is this Claire for real? A girl that goes to serve Jesus, kidnapped by radical Muslims, they can't find her, don't even know where she is today. Said goodbye to her parents, that could have been the last one.

Yeah, and it was. I mean, I think we're... Well, you have to read the book. You have to read the book. It's right here, What Are You Gonna Do With Your Life? J.D.

Greer. So, yeah, I think we actually do have the college generation right now is a fairly cause-driven generation, even the ones who aren't Christians. I saw the survey and actually talk about in the book how if you ask college students 20 years ago the main thing they want out of life, it's money. Now they kind of want to make a difference, and so just responsibility and all that stuff.

Yeah. If the gospel is true, then of all the causes that you could give your life to, why wouldn't the cause of people coming to know Jesus be the greatest of all those? And so one of the challenges that what we said at our church is the question is no longer if you're called, the question is only where and how.

Because if you followed... The moment you began to follow Jesus, he said, follow me and I'll make you a fisher of men, which means that what? When you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call to be used in the Great Commission. So we say, we tell them what it means to follow Jesus is to take whatever you're good at, which God didn't make you necessarily to be a singer, writer, speaker, but he made you good at something, architecture, education, you fill in the blank, law, whatever he made you good at, do it well for the glory of God, but also do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God. Of all the factors that go into where you pursue your career, for the follower of Jesus, why wouldn't the kingdom of God be the largest of those factors? Why is getting a job and going to college only about the part of the country I wanna live in, where I can make the most money?

Those things are fine, but why not also have where can I be a part of something strategic God is doing? Okay, and this is detailed in this book, What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? Which is a lot better question to ask someone than why are you going to college. Of course, they ask you that all your life growing up, and then where are you going to college? And then once you get to college and you come home for the weekend, all your parents' friends say, what are you gonna do with your life? Like you haven't figured it out. But you actually challenge young people to go for a couple years and serve Jesus and ask him for that. It's a real foundational basic, but let me read the back of this book. God has a plan to make your life count for eternity.

Stop wasting it. In this book, J.D. Greer considers Jesus' radical call to give your life away to the greatest cause of all, to view your life from the perspective of eternity.

It's time to put your yes on the table and let God put it on the map. I love that. Now, J.D., you sent me this. You sent a Sharpie with it. I misplaced the Sharpie.

I don't know where it is. I got kids. You got kids. That's right. Pets, you know how things work. You love cats.

I noticed that from the book too. Naturally. I'm sure you've got some red Sharpie marked on your wall somewhere now. Somewhere, but I'm supposed to do, what am I supposed to write on this? Cause I've been thinking about that.

I challenge people to take, just if they get a copy of the book, just write in a couple of words, what you think like summarizes that. Okay. So here we go. I'm going to do it. Ready? I'm going to put here.

Ready? All right. Reach the nations. Make that end right? Yeah. The nation is.

With truth. Oh, I love it. What do you think?

Now, I was going to say with audio content, video content, language, radio, but just, you know, is it too general though? I don't want a general. I love it. My mom must preach the gospel die and be forgotten. Well, so I did it. Uh, I was going to do, I was going to do this cause you said to do it in the letter, but then I read the book and the book really, you know, and convicted me. Now I want to do a, uh, uh, uh, a play by play with you right in this next little second here. Okay. And we're going to do a breakdown of each chapter. I'm going to read the chapter title. You're going to give a quick pithy sentence.

Love it. And, uh, and so enough to leave people wanting more, but enough to challenge our listeners. The title says it all. This man loves Jesus. He preaches God's word. He's a pastor of the summit church, right? And you guys are a network of churches.

How many have you sent out? So summit church is a multi-campus church in the triangle. Um, there's 12 campuses here. We have planted a total of about 390 churches.

Um, about 60 of those are in the United States. They don't have the name summit church. They have names like mercy Hill and Greensboro, mercy church in Charlotte. Um, uh, others went like that.

Two cities, two cities and about 16 others. So you've Scott put it on your heart to sin, not just erect bigger buildings and this and that, but to send people out. And like, there's this big grand, the big fat, you know, bodacious goal you guys have of how many churches, a thousand churches, which means a thousand disciple making plants, disciple making disciple movements, but it's just sin is to send people out. It's this whole, what you talk about in here is God called Jews that follow me and I want to make you fishers of men.

Right? So why isn't the less than 90% of Christians are even sharing their faith. Here's a question for you.

If they made it a felony to share the gospel in America, I mean, how many people would actually go to jail? Right. Is that a scary thought? Yep. You know, if they made it a felony to, uh, to give your tithe to your church, I mean, I've heard as many as I heard less than 10% of Christians give 10%. Yeah. So maybe not many people would go to jail for that too.

Yeah. So it's just not on our radar. One of the questions I always ask our congregation, similar as I like, if God last next week, God answered all the prayers you prayed this week and just in one fell swoop said yes to all of them.

Category is how many new people would be in the kingdom of God. It's not even in our prayers, you know? So, so, so, so that's kind of the, those are, those are ugly truths. Those are, those are, those are bad things we don't, but, but to go on the positive side, you're trying to challenge people. You're trying to motivate people. You're trying to, to, uh, and, and you've done, I listened to you on the radio. I love your preaching. You're trying to challenge us to be all we can be for the kingdom.

And we're, we're like, you know, we're wasting so much time, you know? So what is it, what is it that's going to motivate people to share the gospel? Let me ask you that. What is it, you know, what if you offer money, let me say, Hey, a hundred bucks. Do you ever share the gospel with the most people come back next week and tell me, and I'm going to say, well, Hey, I should be doing that anyway. Right. Or, well, what if he shares more with me?

Well, then that many people heard the gospel, maybe it's not so bad, but you know, right. What motivates you realistically? So, um, well, first of all, if you're offering a hundred dollars, I'll definitely take you up on that. Okay.

Where's the racism? Um, you know, I mean, so in the, in the, in the purest sense, um, what motivates somebody to share the gospel, the apostle Paul would say, it's just a proper understanding of the gospel. Hmm.

Right. Because how, how can you, how can you have an understanding that heaven and hell are real and that Jesus Christ has died to make salvation available to all who would believe and receive it and then not be doing everything you can to get the gospel to those who haven't heard it. Um, that was my credit. And I tell the story in the book. It was my crisis moment studying the book of Romans is I realized once it really set in on me, that's there really was only one way of salvation according to scripture and that it had to be preached through my mouth. Um, I had, I had these three like things that were pulling in me. One is I wanted to deny the doctrines of the gospel. Um, I mean, I hate to use categories, but I wanted to kind of become a liberal and sort of pick and choose what parts of the Bible, but I knew I had enough intellectual honesty at that point to know that once you start down that whole, that rabbit trail, that there's no coming back because once you set yourself up as the judge of God's word, then there's nothing that critiques you except your own heart. And I was like, can't do that. The second option was to, to, to deny these truths to doubt or to deny. And just to say, um, uh, like, well, I'm just going to ignore it.

I'm going to pretend like it doesn't really matter. Um, and just kind of delude myself with the trappings of the third option was to say, Lord, here am I send me. And, um, by God's grace, he led me to do that in college and it's something I've been trying to get people to do ever since.

That's one piece. The other things too, I'll tell you is a lot of people just feel really intimidated, um, by this because they're like, well, I just don't know enough. And, um, one of the things to try to show in this chapter is that God's greatest works have always happened to very simple obedience.

This is the person who opens their mouth at just the moment. God puts it in their heart and just says, Hey, I want to pray for you or I'm going to serve you. And something in God, you use a simple acts of obedience.

Like the story told by the little girl, the shyest girl in, in your Christian club. But she gets up and invites a huge room of people to come to the, to hear someone share their testimony that night. Right.

700 people showed up. Right. That's right.

So she just took that step. Now let's do a play by play on these chapters. This is JD Greer. I'm Stu Epperson. This is true talk.

This is his book. We're showcasing today. What are you going to do with your life? This is the great Christmas present. A great, a great graduation. Give this to all your graduates. Perfect stocking size. Stockings.

I mean, I can fit this in my pocket, man. It's rich, but you get into some deep polemics and apologetics here too, just on what you just went, you know, that Romans one stuff. That's right. Tricky stuff. And that comes out here. So I'm going to read the title of the chapters, JD. We're going to just do some ping pong here. Great.

And then you give me a one sentence description and we'll roll through them and then we'll say goodbye to everybody and make sure we tell everyone how they can get this thing. All right. Chapter one. Don't waste your life. Don't wait. Don't live for things that don't matter and live your life with eternity in view.

Okay. Chapter two, kick your bucket list. Avoid the popular concept of YOLO. You only live once and instead go, yeah, you actually live forever. And so put up the concept that I got to do all this stuff before I die because the best version of everything that on earth is in heaven.

And instead focus on the one thing that you can't do in heaven. And that is bring people to Jesus. Okay. Chapter three, the myth of calling. The myth of calling is that a few of us are called into ministry through a special mystical moment like the Damascus road, when in actuality the truth is when you accepted Jesus, he gave you a part to play in his kingdom and he anointed you for that purpose.

I love it. Okay. Chapter four, greater than John. One of Jesus's most mysterious promises was that for the believer who was least in his kingdom, which means the least talented, knows the least about the Bible, that the worst personality still had greater potential in ministry than even John the Baptist, who in Jesus's view was the greatest preacher ever to live.

And it shows you that simple obedience is what the Holy Spirit uses to do extraordinary things. Wow. Okay. Chapter five, the law of the harvest. Yeah.

The law of the harvest is that you can only reap what you sow and that in order to see whatever it is, whether it's your career, whether it's your money, the only way that God can multiply it for the purpose of his kingdom is for you to lay it down and sacrifice at his feet to let him do whatever he wants to do. Okay. One thing you lack.

Chapter six. One thing you lack is the big obstacle people have in actually selling out to Jesus is that they're just scared to put it in his hands. Like the rich young ruler, we have to say, there's no restrictions that I am putting on where you want to leave me.

It all belongs to you. Okay. Chapter seven, audience of one. Audience of one means that most of us are going to be sabotaged from following Jesus because whether it's our parents, whether it's our friends or whether it's our boss, we care more about what they say than we do what King Jesus says. And we've got to switch that audience for an audience of one.

Okay. And two more. And these are all brief chapters, but very concise and very, very spot on. Chapter eight. Do people really need to hear about Jesus to get to heaven?

So that's probably one of the most troubling intellectual apologetic questions people get. I try to put the cookies on the bottom shelf and just lay out in the book of Romans, why Paul says only one way to be saved and we're the only people who can preach the gospel. And what does that mean for your life?

Okay. Now my favorite chapter, and I read this to my little cub last night and she loved it, was chapter nine worth it. Worth it is looking ahead as people do in the Bible to see what it's going to be like when you go into eternity and look back on your life and know that you lived in a way that was worth it. A wasted life is a life that ends when your time on earth is done, a worthy life. Worth it is when you say, I've leveraged what I have for eternity.

Faith is living in a way now that one day in eternity, you'll be glad that you did. Okay. J.D. Greer has a Sharpie. I hand him a blank book, his own book. What does he write on that? What do you write on there? I know you wrote the book.

That's right. So what I wrote on mine, what I put up was a quote by Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf. You better know who that is. The Moravians. Winston-Salem. He founded the place where we... That's right.

Right here. He launched a movement with a phrase that very few people know anymore. He just said, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.

And I thought there's no better theme for my own life than that. Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten. J.D. Greer, and included in this is a letter from Adariah Judson, which I read this morning to 50 men, and it's on Facebook, out loud as we're closing about... The disciples kept preaching the gospel. Right. No matter what happened in the election, whether their guy got elected or not, no matter what happened in the city, whether they got ambushed, stoned, beat up, they kept preaching the gospel. And so that's the common thing, the gospel going out. So no matter what happens, you're going to keep preaching the gospel. That's right.

So this guy wanted to take, wanted to marry a young lady. You have how many daughters? I have three daughters. Three daughters and a son. That's right.

And I have four daughters and a son-in-law and a grandson. So I got some pictures. Anyway, but this is what he said in this letter.

Actually, this is unbelievable. Can I read it real quick? Yeah, absolutely. Okay, they'll read it real quick, and then we gotta wrap up. And if we run out of time on the broadcast, we'll include it in the podcast. Be sure to download, subscribe to my podcast page, and listen to him subscribe to his stuff. You'll hear a lot more amazing things there. He's got TV, he's got channels and everything, and God's... Yeah, is the best way to access all that, J-G-G-R-E-E. And the book, by the way, is the same place, right? And it's in bookstores and everywhere else, and online, Amazon. So he wrote this letter. You're a dad. You get a letter from a young man calling on your daughter wanting to marry her. And he says this, I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring to see her no more in this world. Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land and her subjection to hardships and sufferings of a missionary life. Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India, to every kind of want and distress, to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps to a violent death. Can you consent to all this for the sake of him who left his heavenly home and died for her and for you for the sake of perishing immortal souls for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamation of praise which shall resound to her savior from the lost who were saved through her means from eternal woe and despair. Will you give me your daughter's hand in marriage? And the dad said, yes. Yes.

He didn't even get a shotgun out. You know, remember the shotgun jokes? Now our girls get older now. So like, you know, we're like, they make more sense.

It's game on. But this letter, and of course, God used Adarai and Judson in a powerful way in India and this woman with him to really make a difference and to make a difference in our life. I was looking at the journal the other day, a missions journal, and even with all the persecution that goes on in Burma and Myanmar, what it's now called, there's still 700,000 Baptists, not even just Christians, you know, but just Baptists. And that's because one man took the gospel into a place that had never hurt.

He didn't waste his life. Okay. So the book is, what are you going to do with your life? And I wrote my thing on top there. Watch this on our YouTube channel.

You'll see a visual and we'll probably put it on Facebook too. I put Reach the Nations with Truth in this book. And thank you, JD, for challenging me and mentoring and discipling me in having a world vision, not to be more worldly, but to have God's heart for the nation. Jesus is God for the world.

Yes. And to be on mission with God for the world. So young people and old people, this is... I don't see retirement in the Bible, let's go reach souls. Now, there's 2.2 billion... Close with this challenge to everyone out there, of the 2.5 or more or less billion people on the planet who have never heard about Jesus Christ, they're still out there and we're fighting about things.

Here's my challenge. I want you to imagine meeting somebody in eternity 100 years after you've been there, who's there because of your sacrifice. Over time, are you going to have eternity? You're going to learn to know them and to love them, and they're going to be closer to you than even your own family is right now. How grateful do you think you will be in eternity that you did what it took to be able to get the gospel to them? I think you'll say at the end, whatever I did was worth it. Awesome.

Meet JD at and share this with all your graduates, all your friends, your family, young and old, and let's reach souls for Jesus while we still have time. Amen. Yep. Thanks, man. Yeah, thank you. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 21:30:00 / 2023-03-16 21:42:09 / 12

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