Well, good morning to everybody and also to those who watch via the internet and our mobile app. We are in a current series called “Transcendence.” And originally, this was going to be a five-week series, but it is going to end up being a six-week series. And we are in week four of that series. And I know if you’re brand new you’re probably thinking, “Oh, man. I came right in the middle of a series. Am I ever going to know what’s going on?”
Let me go ahead and put you at ease because I’m always of the opinion, when I start off every message that I do, that there’s three groups of people in every service and if there’s not all three, there’s at least one of the three in the service. The first would be new people that have come for the first time. I want you to understand every time I preach, even though I’m in a series, I always let the series stand alone so the sermon will sound fine. You won’t have to know everything that we’ve said. And I’ll do a recap to bring you up to speed so that you feel like you’re a part of it.
The second group are people that just maybe had a vacation or they missed a couple of weeks in the middle of the series. And you’re thinking, “Oh, man. What are we doing now? Where are we at?”
That’s why I do these recaps at the beginning of every sermon so that you’re aware. And then there’s the third group of people – which a lot of us are going to say, “Amen.”
You’re like, “You don’t understand, Pastor Chip. It was everything I could do to get here and I’ve been to all the services, but I still have no idea what we’re talking about. Because I’m just happy that I am here.”
So, I try to do this at the beginning so that everybody’s on the same page. This is what we’re doing in this series: we started off the series by talking about a guy named Abraham Maslow that was a psychologist that created this thing called “the hierarchy of needs.” And he said if you could get your base needs or your deficiency needs sort of worked on – you get your food, your clothing, your esteem, love or whatever – you could live a self-actualized life. And that what we want to do is we want to find that thing that really gets us going and live a life that’s fulfilling. And most of the psychology books that are written are based on this. There’s 43,000 books in print right now that you can go read that’ll tell you how to get a self-actualized life.
But the fact of the matter is when people are polled and they’re asked, “Are you living a fulfilled life,” most people say, “No.”
So, whatever we’re doing is not working. However, it’s interesting that Maslow, in the latter part of his life, changed that hierarchy of needs to include at the top of the greatest part of human fulfillment living, he changed the word from “self-actualization” to “transcendence.”
What he realized was is it wasn’t about trying to get me where I want to be, it was when I was loving on others and pouring into others or leaving a legacy into others, Abraham Maslow said, that is when you live the most fulfilled life. Well, the Bible’s been saying that all along. The Bible talks about us loving on people, reaching out to people, doing good to people. And so the Bible talks about that. So that’s no issue. But the Bible also talks about something he didn’t talk about which is that we do it through the church. That you and I, even though we live in a culture of really rugged individualism, we need each other. The Bible doesn’t say that the Lord’s prayer is “my” Father which art in Heaven. It says that it is “our” Father which art in Heaven. It tells us that we’re a body; that we need each other. Some people are fingers, some people are toes, some people are ears. We need each other.
So, what we’re doing in this particular series is this: we’re looking at how to live a massively fulfilled life through intentionally pouring ourselves into others through the church.
That’s the whole big overarching idea of the series that we’re in. However, last week, I did sort of a mini-series in the overarching series here of “Transcendence.” We talked about embracing the process. And if you weren’t here, let me bring you back up to speed. Last week, I talked about the fact that many of our lives are partitioned like a theater. We stand on the front part of the stage and then there is a back part of the stage. And oftentimes, what people see in the front part of the stage is not what’s going on in the back part of our stage. And so if people see who we are right here and all of a sudden we see them walking back here to go open the door, we’re like, “No, no, no, no, no! Don’t go back there!”
And we talked about how you might be like, “Hey, man. I love you… but I wish you would die.”
You know that type of thing? So, you’re right there at the front, you know?
Or, “Hey, it’s so good to see you at work… I hope you get fired today.”
That’s the front part of your life and that’s the back part of your life. And what we talked about was is we want to see those parts of our lives become congruent. That for us to really live out a life of transcendence, we really need our lives to not have partitions where we put on impression management here that people see what we are, but somehow in the back it’s not the same thing.
And so last week, we talked about this idea of embracing the process. And that’s what we want to do this week is continue to embrace this process of how God gets us from where we are right now to where we need to be so that we can really live a life of transcendence.
Now, so that everybody’s clear, that doesn’t mean that God can’t use you when you have things in your life that are broken. Because if that were true, none of us would get used. We will always have some skeletons in the back part of our closet. That’ll never happen to where it’s totally cleaned out this side of Heaven. But what we want to do is try to get our lives congruent enough to where we really are who we are and when we’re pouring into others it’s authentic and they can see that it’s authentic. So that’s the whole idea of embracing the process.
Last week we talked about the attitudes that we would need to embrace the process. This week we’re going to get incredibly practical on embracing the process. Many people come to me and say, “Chip, if you could just help me out in my life. Give me some steps that will allow God to work in my life in a real and practical way. That would be awesome.”
And that’s what we’re going to do today. So, I’m going to ask you to lean in, pay attention, because this is really some life-changing, life-altering things. So to get there, we’re going to start with the book of Philippians. Paul is writing to a church – and again, I want to make sure the you understand this. The books in the Bible are written to specific people at specific times. I say this often. The Bible wasn’t written to you and me. It was written for you and me. And that’s a big difference. We’ve got to understand what was going on in their ears and their time and understand what they heard so that we can then make application to today.
Well, in the book of Philippians, Paul starts off the book and he says, “Listen, I know that God is at work in you and I know that He’s going to complete that work – that process – until the day that Jesus comes.”
And so he’s dealing with a church that is going through some issues that needs to understand what the process would look like in their life.
“How do I live this thing out?”
And if you’ve been in church long enough, you know as well as I do that everybody’s looking for, “How do I get God in my life? How do I get God to work in my life? How do I get God to do these things in my life that I want Him to do?”
And we’ve all heard somebody give us a book or tell us to watch a CD or listen to that or listen to that. And we do that, but yet nobody really seems to have the formula that works. So we all are like, “Well, I just want to know what the process is so that I can get on doing what God has called me to do.”
So, this is what Paul says to the Philippian church. He says in Philippians 2:1, “Hey, if you guys really have come to know the Lord, if you’ve had any encouragement in the spirit, if you’ve had any consolation of love, if you’ve done anything then what I want you to do is I want you to put others before yourself.”
This is the idea of transcendence; the idea of loving on others. He says, “Because what I want in the Philippian church is I want you to have the mind of Christ.”
And then he tells us what the mind of Christ is in Philippians 2:5-11. He says, “Jesus was the form of God. He was everything that God was. But, He didn’t hold on to it. He didn’t cling to what was His. Instead, He emptied Himself and He became obedient and He became a slave, He became a servant, He became a human and He poured into others and it cost Him His life. And because of that, God took Him and raised Him up and gave Him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
And then Paul starts in Philippians 2:12. He says, “Therefore,” – based on what I’ve just told you. Based on this whole idea. I’ve told you there was a process going on. God was going to work this process out. I’ve told you that I was in prison and even though I’m in prison God’s still doing great things because the Praetorian Guard is hearing the Gospel. And whether I die or whether I live, it’s no big deal because God’s got a process and if I die it’s going to be great. I’ll go to be with God. If I stay in the flesh, if I stay here, it’s going to be good for you guys. So, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to look like Jesus. I want you to live like Jesus.
So, “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me…” – he says, “You guys have always listened to me. Is the preacher for your church, is the guy who founded the church here? You guys have listened to me. You’ve always obeyed me. I want you to, as you always have obeyed me, but he goes, “Not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence.”
Paul’s in prison and he’s writing to the church. They’re going through some difficulties and he says, “I want to show you what it looks like for the process to happen and I want you to obey me. Even though I’m not there, I’m writing you a letter and I want you to obey what I’m saying.
And here’s what he says to them: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Now, if you’re a good Protestant or if you’ve been around a church that talks about grace, you read this and you go, “Oh, no. Let’s just move on. It doesn’t fit in my system. What is this idea of work? I don’t want to hear about work. I want to hear about grace. Chip, can you just tell me that God loves me and that He wants to save me and all that stuff? I know you can do that. You’ve done that a lot. Why are we talking about working out your own salvation with fear and trembling?”
Well listen, what I’m going to ask you to do is I’m going to ask you to put away all your glasses, all your lenses, all your little theological persnicketies and just listen to what Paul says and listen to what the Scriptures say here. Number one, he doesn’t say, “Work for your salvation.” He says, “Work it out.” There’s a big difference in working for and working it out. And what’s interesting here though is the word “your.” This is huge that we get this. The word “your” is plural. It is not an individual. He’s not saying to you as individuals to work out your salvation. He says, “Church at Philippi, I want you collectively to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Fear and trembling is like an idiom. And idiom is a figure of speech that you and I know what it means. But, if you’re not a part of the group you might not know what it means. Like if I were to say, “Hey, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
Now, you guys know that I’m not going to go home and eat a horse. Well, some of you may go, “He’s from Kentucky. Maybe he would.”
But I’m not going to. It’s an idiom. What is he saying here? He says, “Listen, I want you all, collectively, to work your salvation out; this process of what God is doing.”
And let me say this to you: people like to argue about all this stuff. People say, “What is salvation? Are you secure? Are you not secure? Are you in or are you out?”
People fail to realize that salvation is talked about in the Bible in three tenses. It’s not talked about in one. It talks about being saved. The Philippian jailer says, “What do I have to do to be saved?”
Paul says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you’ll be saved.”
But the Bible also talks about “being” saved; in the process of being saved. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For us who are being saved, the preaching of the cross is power to us.”
Then it talks about a future state of salvation that one day we will be ultimately saved. And what happens is is everybody who wants to argue all their points finds one of the tenses of the salvation and runs around and plays on this stuff. Salvation is also something that is working out in us. And Paul says, “Listen, I want the salvation that God has given to you to be worked out in the church with fear and trembling.”
And what that means is is there’s a healthy respect for who God is, there’s a healthy respect for the awe and majesty of God, but it also means that there is a respect for our brothers and sisters. This is an idiom that is a sense of sort of defenselessness. It’s not an err of I’m going to get you and my chins out and I’ve got it all together. Paul is saying, “No. The way we do this Christian thing is we do put others before us. We do pour into others.” He says, “So, what I want you to do is I want you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
Now he gets really locked in here. And listen, this is really important. He says, “For it is God who is at work in you.”
I would translate the word “in” to “among.” But, “For God is at work ‘among’ you.”
God’s at work among you. Plural. All of you. Paul goes, “I know something that maybe you don’t know. God is at work in the local church whether you see Him or whether you feel Him or whether you think that He is. He is at work in the local church.”
And what is He doing? He is enabling you – plural – both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
“What’s he saying here, Chip? What’s this mean? What’s this process?”
Paul says, “Listen, church. I want you to live this out. I want you to look like Jesus. And the way this happens is is that, collectively together, all of us, we allow God to work in us through the church.”
And He can do that because He’s already at work in the church and He’s given you the ability to will – in other words to choose to do the right thing – and to work; to do the things that God’s called us to do for His good pleasure. What’s His good pleasure? Well first of all, He takes pleasure in seeing you and me become more like His Son. But, His good pleasure also is for you and me. When you and me walk in the things that God has for you and me, there is a fulfilled life.
And what he says is is, “Hey, guys. Back up now. Listen. God’s at work in the church and He’s already given you what you need to choose to do the good things and to actually do them for His good pleasure. So, allow that process to work.”
Then he says, “Do all things without murmuring and arguing.”
Now, that may seem strange that he would say that. It’s like what does that have to do with it? Again, he’s writing to the Philippian church. Paul is a rhetorician. He’s an incredible writer. What he’s doing is he’s gradually building up. Chapter 1 he talks about how God’s going to complete this work and it’s no big deal whether I’m in prison or not. God’s going to do all these great things and don’t be terrified by your adversaries if they’re coming at you. Don’t worry about anything. Chapter 2, have the mind of Christ. And then he lists some people that have the mind of Christ. Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Then chapter 3 he says, “And man, don’t worry about it. Even all the things I’ve done, I count them all as loss because all I want to do is see Jesus.”
And then in chapter 4, he hits home what he’s really dealing with. He has two women in the church, Euodia and Syntyche, that are not getting along and it’s causing a faction in the local church. Two women in leadership in the local church. Put that in your back pocket. So he says, “Do all things without murmuring and arguing,” because there’s some stuff going on. This isn’t necessarily at our church. We don’t have any murmuring and arguing going on. But it’s important that we see this. We don’t.
I mean, honestly, I was at a conference this last week and we sat down with some pastors and they were telling me some of the issues in their church and I was like, “Man, thank God we don’t have that stuff going on at Grace.”
Doesn’t mean it may never go on, but thank God. So kudos to you all. I’m bragging on you all. Thank you for this not being something that I have to preach about. We just have to make note of it because it’s in the text. He says, “Do all things without murmuring and arguing so that…” – now, this is huge. This is the real big takeaway. Whenever you read a “so that,” he’s telling you why not to do what he just told you to do in order to make sense of why he doesn’t want you to do that.
He just says, “Do all things without murmuring and arguing so that you may be blameless and innocent.”
Now, does that mean blameless and innocent with God? No. We’re blameless and innocent with God because of what Jesus has done for us. Listen to what he says here. He says, “…so that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.”
What he says is is when the church isn’t being the church, the world is getting an ineffective witness. He says, “This is a process, guys. I want you to allow your salvation to work out. I want you to allow God to work in you, giving you the ability to will and to do the things that He’s called you to do. And I don’t want you to do it not looking like Jesus, arguing and complaining with one another. I want you to do it because the world is looking and the world is looking for some stars to shine. They need to see what God can do.”
So, all that being said, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to get out a sheet of paper. I want you to get your phones out, your iPads out, whatever you’ve got. Borrow a pen from somebody or if they’ve got one just grab it out of their shirt. And you go back here to the sermon notes and write these down. This is huge, practical stuff. This will make a difference in your life based on what we just read. So, these are what I call the “Take Homes.” This is where we get really practical and really informational. So please write these down based on what we just read.
First of all, the process – this idea of God molding you and me into the image of His Son – is impossible without the church.
There’s whole movements today that want to redefine the church and that want to say, “Oh, no. We shouldn’t meet like this. We’re just going to go do our own thing.”
Let me tell you, there is not way in the world – Jesus said was on institution that He built that the gates of Hell would not prevail and that’s called the Church. And that’s not a building. That’s you and me. But assembling together and having people in our lives, having community in our lives, you’re never going to be, I’m never going to become all that God wants me to be without the Church.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Okay. I get that conceptually. But Chip, I need some real, practical stuff to help me out.”
I’m glad you asked because here it comes. This is what it looks like for the process to work within the Church. I’m going to give you some real, practical things that you can see the process work in your life.
First one. Write this down: Give people permission to speak into your life.
See, we don’t like this as Westerners; as Americans. We’re individuals. “My individual!”
You know, the Bible doesn’t really talk about those things. Our culture does. The Bible says we work this thing out together and that we’re in a community together and that the Church needs each other and that you can’t do it alone. You need Jesus in your brother and sister to make this life work. So, you’ve got to give people permission to speak into your life. Let me give you a couple of examples here of what I mean by this.
When I was a teenager and I had just finished my freshman year in college and I went to Miami to work with Alan Reeser in a short-terms missions program. And I remember we slept out on the streets and did stuff with the homeless. And it was a real culture shock for me because my dad was a dentist and I was raised in sort of an upper-middle class family. I’d never slept on the street. I’d never had to get cardboard boxes out of a dumpster to lay on at night for a bed or anything like that. And it made a big difference in me. And after we had done that for a while, we did what was called a debrief and all of the people that were in the group together, we all sat in a room and Alan called on me first and he said, “I want you to go over there and sit in the corner.”
I’m like, “Okay.”
He says, “And I want you to face the wall and you can’t say a word at all. You just have to listen.”
And I was like, “Okay. What are we doing here?”
I was the first guinea pig, of course. After they did it to me, everybody knew what was coming. I had no idea what was coming. I’m sitting there looking at the wall and then what Alan did is he got the group together and he says, “Let’s talk about Chip.”
And they started talking about Chip. And at first it was okay. And then it got rough because people started saying things about me that I didn’t want to hear. And I wanted to jump up and go, “You don’t understand. Let me tell you why. Let me…”
But I couldn’t. I got to do that after they were done talking about me. After I washed all of their feet. And what I learned in that process was man, there’s things that people see in me that I don’t see in me. And for me to become all that God wants me to be, it requires my brothers and sisters to speak into my life and allows me to listen to what they have to say to become what God wants me to be.
So, give people permission to speak into your life.
Secondly, find an accountability partner.
This is huge. You need somebody. Can I tell you? You’re in the top 95th percentile in the world if you have somebody in your life that you can call at 2 o’clock in the morning and, instead of hanging up on you and telling you to stop calling, they’ll show up at your house to help you because you have some sort of need. You’ve got to find an accountability partner. And can I give you – I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, especially if you’re listening on the internet or mobile app. I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. But if you have a hard time finding an accountability partner, the problem might be you. See, when it’s all about what can I get and let me talk about my needs and let me talk about everything going on in my life and let me make it all about me, most people don’t want to be around that. What they want to be around is they want to be around relationships where there’s give and take, where there’s pros and cons, where we can work together. And so, we need to find an accountability partner because you need accountability partners in your life.
Listen, I’ve got people in my life that say things to me on a regular basis. You might not believe this, but this is the absolute truth. I take seriously what I do. When I get up and preach, I try to make sure that everything I’ve done – I come in here and practice a lot. I mean, the staff will tell you. I come in here and preach these sermons to an empty room. And I change my slides all the time. And I do all that why? Because I want to make sure that what I say communicates effectively. I take a lot of pride in what I do. And at the end of every sermon I preach, I go to my buddy Tom Jones who has known me for 30 years, and I say, “How did I do?”
Most of the times he says, “Hey, it was fantastic,” because he sits here and listens to it before I preach it. But, every once in a while he says, “It was terrible.”
And that happened about three weeks ago on a Saturday night. He was like, “That was terrible.”
And what we did is we came back into the sanctuary, kicked everybody out and we spent about two hours in here reworking my sermon. You say why would I do that? Because it’s not about me. I want to be more like Jesus. I want to be a pastor that tries to look like Jesus. And if I’m not going to let people speak into my life and if I’m not going to have accountability in my life, it’s simply not going to happen and it’s not going to happen for you as well. We’ve got to open ourselves up to that. I’ll give you another practical point. And this is a big one here.
Come prepared to church.
Now listen, I want to give everybody some grace because let me explain how it works in my life. My wife and I have six kids at home and all of them are eleven and under. It’s a rodeo. And my wife is really smart. I’m the dumb one. She’s smart. And so my kids are smart. They know how to unhook themselves from their car seats. My kids are Pentecostal in the car. I’m telling you, man. They’re just wild. Laying hands on everybody and yelling and hollering.
So what they’ll do is is they’ll be in the back third row of the Honda Odyssey. You know. Did anybody grow up and, in the back of the car, your dad could reach back and grab you and spank you and pinch you? See, when you got three rows in a car, you can’t do that. So my kids in the back will realize that their buddy in the front has an iPad and they figure that – you ever heard of the five finger discount? They decide they want the iPad and they unblock. Mindy’s driving and they’re like ninjas. Click click. And then they’re like Bruce Lee. Over the seat grabbing their brother or sisters iPad and back over the seat and into their thing to snap back in. Well, you know how that goes. There’s no turning the other cheek in our car or love your enemies.
The other one who just got jacked, he unbuttons and he jumps back into the back and then it’s like full on mixed martial arts to get that iPad. You know? So, the reality is sometimes you’re just lucky to get here coming to church. You get all the grace in the world here. But, for many of us, we don’t get in our car on the way to church and turn on the Christian music and start praising God on the way here and start listening to the worship songs that we enjoy or saying a prayer on the way. “God, I just want you to use me today at church. I want you to fill me. I want to love on somebody. I want to learn something, God. I want to worship You.”
I’m going to tell you something. You come prepared to church and you get a lot more out of it than when you show up right here sort of half getting in here and sitting there going, “Move me. If you could just move me. I remember one time I got a goose bump.”
Right? You know what I’m talking about? So you say, “Hey, I want to work this process out in my life. I really want God to do something great in my life.”
Give people permission to speak into your life, find an accountability partner and come prepared. I mean, we don’t just throw this stuff together. It was great. We had an intern here last year and he was from Southeastern. And you know what he said to me? He goes, “I had no idea how much work went on to just have a weekend service.”
I mean, the band is in here a lot worshiping and practicing. I mean, they’re in here Thursday night for two hours. They show up early on Sunday morning and Saturday night – both nights – to make sure they go through their sound check and everything. I mean, there’s a lot of effort and time put into what we do here. Come prepared. Make it a habit. And what I’m telling you is if you’ll allow these things to happen in your life, you’ll start seeing God work.
Let me give you the second one here. We need to stop trying to figure everything out and just get to work.
Now listen to me. I want you to listen to your pastor here for a minute. Listen to my heart. There’s so many people that want to sit around and argue about how this process should work. “You’ve got to read this book. You’ve got to do this. It’s gotta be God. Can’t be you. Could be 3% you but 97% God. Or 100% God. None of you. Can’t have any of this stuff.”
And then it’s all the stuff we argue about. Did Adam have a belly button? Did he not have a belly button? Is God in control? Is He not in control? How much control does He have? Does He know this? Does He know that? Were the dinosaurs on the ark? Were they baby dinosaurs or were they big dinosaurs? Or, like the meme said, it was like this tyrannosaurus rex and a brontosaurus on a big rock. And you see Noah and the ark sort of going out. And they’re like, “Dude, was that today?”
So, you’ve got all that stuff. You’ve got people that want to argue over pre-trib, post-trib.
“I’m so pre-trib I don’t eat post toasties.”
You know, all that stuff. I mean, they’ve got all this stuff going on. We sit around and argue. Can I tell you something? The people that want to always tell you what the Bible says and want to argue about baptism and who’s this and complete work and grace and law and everything else, can I tell you something? The vast majority of people that I know that want to just sit around and talk about all the time are the ones that are doing the least for the Kingdom of God.
Because, let me just share some truth with you. You’re not going to figure it out. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I teach it in schools; in accredited schools. And I tell my students all the time, “I don’t know.”
And they’re like, “Are you gypping us?”
I’m like, “No. I don’t know!”
Every time I try to get God in the box there’s stuff hanging out. I can’t get Him in there. I want Him in there. And He jumps over here. We need to stop trying to figure it out and just get to work because here’s the deal: God is at work already in the church and He’s already given you and me the ability to do the things that He’s called us to do. Period. End of story. So, here’s the Chip Bennett Ministry 101. And, before I do this let me tell you this: we were at that conference. We were sitting around a table and everybody was talking. They were like, “So, tell us about your church.”
Look, we were bragging on you all. This is a great church. I mean, Grace Community Church is a great church. And I said, “We’re a great church. We’re a church that does.”
And they’re like, “What do you mean?”
I’m like, “We’re doing church. We get out and do First Friday and we’ve got these women that run around doing everything; pouring on people. We’ve got youth that are out doing car washes to raise money; not for themselves but for book pack stuff.”
Backpack stuff. Not a book pack. A backpack. Some of my Kentucky grammar is coming out in me. So, just pray for me. Anyway.
So they say, “Well, what about discipleship?”
We’re like, “We believe in discipleship.”
They’re like, “Well do you have small groups?”
I’m like, “We have small groups. But that’s not the focus of our church. The focus of our church is to go do something.”
And they’re like, “Yeah but they need to sit down.”
I’m like, “You know, listen. And I want you to hear this. I’m all for small groups. But there’s no such thing as a small group in the New Testament.”
You know how Jesus did ministry? They went and did. He said, “You want to go fish? Let’s go fish.”
He says, “You want to walk through a cornfield? Let’s walk through a cornfield. And watch this: we’ll really irritate some of the religious leaders as we go through it. You’ll learn something along the way. Hey, you want to learn to pray? Let’s go up on a mountain. Let’s go do something. Let’s go into this village. Go do something.”
And everybody goes, “Oh, no, no, no, no.”
That’s why the church isn’t doing anything because we don’t want to do anything. So here’s the Chip Bennett Methodology of Ministry. Here you go. Get ready. As practical as can be. It’s so simple. It’s easy.
1. Go and do.
Just go and do.
2. When it works, give God praise.
“God, thank You. I know it was You working in me. Giving me the will and the ability to do it and I just thank You for allowing me to do something great for You.”
3. When it fails, let God give you grace.
Then go back to number one. Go and do. But what happens when I fail? Let God give you grace and go back to number one. Well, what happens when it works? Well, give God praise. And don’t try to figure out all the minutia. I mean, I’ve got people that come in here – I’m serious. It’s funny as a pastor. They’ll walk in and they go, “Y’all baptize?”
I’m like, “Baptize what?”
You know? Can I tell you something? When somebody asks you a question, what they’re really asking you is do you believe it the way I do? Do you take the Bible literally? What they’re saying is “Do you read it the way I do?”
Seriously. That’s what they’re saying. They don’t realize they’re saying that. When they say, “Do you believe in God,” they’re asking you, “Do you believe in the God I believe in?”
See how that works? It’s a loaded question. “Do you baptize?”
I always want to know, hold on. What is it that you’re really asking me because there’s something loaded back there.
“Well, do y’all dunk?”
I’m like, “Basketballs, man. I’m from Kentucky!”
No, I’m like, “Yeah. We dunk.”
And they’re like, “Jesus only?”
I’m like, “We baptize in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”
“Oh, you guys aren’t Christians then.”
And they walk out. You’re like, “Seriously? We’re not a Christian? Wow. That’s unbelievable.”
I just tell people I baptize in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I don’t have enough faith to do it in Jesus’ name alone. I get all three of them in there to make sure it’s a good baptism. You follow me on that one? You now? That’s just the way it is, man. And so we’ve just got to believe that God has given us the ability to do the things He’s called us to do. Just trust me. Listen. You can go YouTube it. I was going to play the video but I’m not going to play the video. I think there might be a few questionable things. Sometimes we have younger kids in here and I don’t want them to hear something that they might not want to here. But you can YouTube this. It’s called the trick baby.
Preacher’s up talking. And he’s a fiery preacher, too. He’s like, “This prostitute got pregnant on one of her tricks and the pimp told her you’ve got to get rid of that baby or you ain’t going to make me no money. So she started getting fed alcohol and they’d hold her down and punch her stomach. And they would take things and put it in places that shouldn’t be put to try to stab that baby and kill that baby. See, that baby was born two months premature with all kinds of dysfunctions. And you know how I know about it? Because I’m that baby. I was the trick baby.”
He said, “I grew up, couldn’t talk, I had a stutter, I had all kinds of learning disabilities. I had all kinds of dysfunctions. And by the age of 10, because watching my mom get beat and all the things that went on with me, I put a gun to my head but I couldn’t get it to fire because I didn’t know how to work the safety. I went to school and this lady came to me and she said, ‘Listen. I know you’re stuttering. Let’s read the Bible together.’”
He said, “I got the second book of the Bible and realized that God could use a stutterer named Moses and it started to give me some hope. And I started to believe in Jesus and all of a sudden my dysfunctions started going away and all of a sudden my life started to come together. And now I’m a preacher with a PhD and I’m a scholar and I’ve preached in front of 200,000 people because some lady found an old Bible in a hotel room named a Gideon Bible and gave it to me and it made all the difference in my life.”
That’s why we go and do. That’s why we go and go.
Thirdly, put self second.
The Bible always is about this. Self is second. Self is second. Self is second. Listen to what the Bible says: “Do all things without murmuring and arguing.”
You know how you can do all things without murmuring and arguing? Can I tell you how? When you don’t have to be the one making the point. Listen, we live in a fired up society. We live in a political theater right now. I’m going to give you the best advice you’ve heard all day. Listen to me: stop trying to put people in their place and start putting yourself in their place.
See, when we don’t live this, all we look like is a bunch of jokes. The Bible’s very clear that someone who doesn’t know Jesus will not understand the things that are spiritual. They’re not going to understand some of your positions because what they need to hear about is Jesus and not your position. They need to have a changed life. And I’m going to go even deeper. Have you ever thought that whatever it is that you believe about the world and whatever else, what if you’re wrong? Because there’s about 50% of the people that don’t agree with you. What if they’re the ones that are right? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’re wrong? Have you ever stopped to have any humility and go, “You know what? Before I just start telling everybody about what I think is true, do I really know? Have I really vetted? Do I really know that person that I’m saying bad things about? Have I spent time with them? Have I put myself in their place? Have I lived in the world they live in?”
No we don’t. We just want to tell people how to live. And it’s not working. It’s not working anywhere in the world when the Church lives like that. Put self second. Say, “How can I put myself in your shoes before I start trying to put you in your place?”
If we live that way, we change the world. Everybody wants to run around and tell everybody how to live. Let me tell you something: You will not know anything about living until you meet Jesus. It’s not about getting things right; it’s about getting Jesus right. We’ve got to get Jesus right. And lastly, and this is huge and this is the whole point of all that I’m saying: realize that the full transcendent life entails the Church looking like it should.
When the Church is impotent, when the Church isn’t loving, when the Church is a courtroom rather than a hospital for the sick, what happens is we lose our witness to the world and nobody wants to see anything about what we’re doing. And here’s the deal: “We’re to be children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.”
Do you know what I want for you as your pastor? I want you to shine in everywhere you go. I want you to shine at work. I want you to shine at home. I want you to shine in your neighborhood. I want you to shine with the glory of God in your life because you’re living this thing out and you’re allowing God to work through you and, all of a sudden, you’re walking around and people are taking notice of what you’re doing. And let me tell you this. This is important for you to hear. The stars in this church are not the staff and not the pastor. The stars in this church are you. You’re the stars. All I am is a coach. That’s all I do is coach. A coach to tell you, “You know what? You can do it. You can make it. God can use you. God can take you where you’re at and use you and do something great with you. Just allow Him to work His process in you. Get involved in the church. Get people in your life. Go out and do the things that we do. Be a part of what’s going on.”
And one day you’ll look back and you’ll go, “My goodness. Man. Look at what God has done in my life. Look at the way He’s changed me.”
And that’s what this is all about. I want you to believe that you can do things that you never, ever, ever believed you could do because of the God that works in you. And when He does that, you will be high stepping and living a life of transcendence that is so massively fulfilling that it just blows you away.
Let’s do it together.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You so much for Your glory. We thank You so much for Your love. We thank You so much for who You are in our lives. And Lord, I just pray that we would stop for a moment here in the middle of summer when it’s hot and sticky and nasty and rains, just take a moment in the middle of all of this to just reflect on the fact that we just need to embrace Your process and allow You to work in our lives in such a way, knowing what the end result is. The end result is living a life that shines for You. And Lord, when we’re shining and other people are coming into the Kingdom and we’re pouring into other’s because we’re shining, that’s when we live the most fulfilled life. Lord, help us to embrace that. Help us to embrace the process. And Lord, help us to have the faith and the belief to go through it so that we can become all that You have created us to be.
So Lord, now as we leave, I pray that You would watch over us and protect us. I pray that You would lead and guide us. I pray, God, that You would help us to be that light that You’ve called us to be in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton for Your glory and for Your honor. Lord, bring us back safely to when we meet again. And we thank You for everything. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”