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TWOGather - Week 2

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Well welcome today to all of our LifeChurches, our Network Churches; we love you guys so much, and those of you joining us all over the world at ChurchOnline. We are in the middle of a series called, Two-Gather; wherever two or more gather together in His name, there God is in the midst of them. And I want to say, I am so thrilled to hear so many of you that are getting engaged in Biblical community through small groups. You are going to hear another very powerful message today and your campus pastor or your pastor will tell you how you can get involved in what I promise will be one of the most life-changing things that you ever do, as you gather together with others sharpening each other and becoming who God wants you to be. The LifeGroup is the heartbeat of the church. Next week, I'm starting a brand new series called, How to Change Your World in 52 Days. We are looking at the story of Nehemiah, I've been studying ahead and I promise you, God will speak to you in a very big way. That series starts next week. Today, you're going to hear from one of my best friends in the whole world. He pastors a church that was named the fastest growing church in America a few years ago. The church is 10-years-old and eight different campuses, ministering to believe it or not, over 16,000 people in only ten years. He is a man of prayer, he is a man of God, he is a man of integrity. He's one of the most genius leaders in the world, I love him. He's a very close friend. Would you please welcome Pastor Chris Hodges. Pastor Chris Hodges: Alright! Okay, do me a favor now. At all of our locations, let's make sure we give Jesus a better hand clap than that! Come on everybody, oh yeah! As always, so incredibly honored to be here with you guys and honored to serve on the board. I've had the privilege over the past couple of days just to hang out. When I come here I do a couple of things, I'm kind of here in my official capacity you know, just trying to serve you guys in any way I can. But, to be very honest with you, I'm also here to kind of learn and glean, so I had Pastor Craig take me around to some of the campuses and have been checking things out. I guess you know, I hope you know that some amazing things are really working around here, you guys know that right? I mean this thing is happening, I mean God is doing some amazing things at this church. And I want you to know, I just want you to know from my perspective, you're doing a lot of things right; but for whatever reason, we never understand why God does what He does all of the time, He has placed His Sovereign Hand of blessing on you in a fabulous way. And God is touching people's lives, you're making a difference. I know you know this, you hear it from every guest speaker that comes along, that you're making a difference, not only here in your area and at your campus and your location, in that church where you are, but I'm telling you that you're making a difference around the world as well. And it's not happening just because God just picked you, you're doing some things right and really doing some things incredibly well. And my best estimation as I come here and not only try to be a blessing to you, but also to serve you and to learn from you. In my estimation, there are three things that I've noticed over and over that I always see every time I come here. I want you to note these because I want you to keep doing them. That is, you're incredibly generous. This church doesn't charge for anything, they're constantly looking for ways to give things away, you're blessing the Body of Christ. I mean, literally thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of churches are using your children's curriculum and your messages online, and all of the online content, you know the drill. It's fabulous, you're making a difference. The second thing I see happening better than I've ever seen it before, on this visit I saw it more than I've ever seen it before, stewardship. You're doing it better actually in more efficient ways. I mean, we are doing more for the Body of Christ with actually less spent on the infrastructure things and the salary levels are at their lowest percentages ever. It's fabulous, God honors that. By the way, that's something you need to know personally, because God will honor that in your life as well. If you're generous and then if you're a good steward of what God's given you, God likes it and He'll bless you in a great way. And finally, just the tenacious focus on changed lives. Can I hear a good amen everybody? Alright, alright! I will tell you a couple of stories that I saw just on this trip and then we'll get into today's message. I went to visit one of the campuses; again, kind of checking some things out and loving on your pastor, but also trying to learn. I took a lot of pictures, we are trying to learn some things from you guys as well. I walked into one of the auditoriums and these two young guys just walked up to us and one guy said, This guy just got saved! And Pastor Craig thought, You mean like this past Sunday he got saved? He goes, No, like a minute ago he just got saved! In the middle of the week, just as we traveled around the campuses. I mean, all day long, not just on Sundays, people's lives are being changed! And then your pastor took me to lunch and the hostess greeted us and said, Hello Pastor Craig, it's good to see you! I'm one of your brand new LifeGroup leaders! She started talking about the missions group and what they're doing together. And it just seemed like everywhere we go lives are being changed! Hey church, keep focusing on it! Be generous, be a good steward, focus on changed lives! You got it everybody? You say, I got it, got it! Alright! It's very important, I'm so proud of you and as one of the members of the board, I just want to say job well done, keep up the good work, I'm so proud of you! And let me just say this in some kind of healthy godly way, I want you to be proud too, because you need that, you just really do. In just the purest sense be proud. And if you're one of those who has not found a home church yet, you've found a great place! I encourage you to dive in just head first and you'll find that this is a great place to invest your time, your money, your energies, your life; and your life will never be the same and you'll be a part of making a difference around the world. So anyway, enough of that, but I just wanted to bless you, so proud of you! Alright, I'm excited about today's topic. I always like to start with something funny. You want to hear something funny? Yes or no? Yes? Alright, this is just so funny! I got this from Dr. John Maxwell. I know that a lot of you guys know who he is. This is just hilarious! It's called Life Explained. How many of you would like to have life explained to you? I know I would! Alright, I just want to say this is funny, it's not theologically correct, but it is really funny! Alright, there's my disclaimer! Okay, here we go: On the first day God created the dog and said, Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at every one who comes in and goes out. And God said, For this dog, I'm going to give you a life span of 20 years. And the dog said, That's too long to do all of that barking. How about I give you ten back and let's just make it a 10-year life span? And God agreed. On the second day God created the monkey and said, Entertain people and do monkey tricks. Make them laugh! And for this I'm going to give you a 20-year life span. And the monkey said, Twenty years is a long time to perform and make people laugh. How about we do like the dog did and I'll just take 10 years and I'm going to give you ten back? And God agreed. On the third day God created the cow and said, You're going to go into the field with the farmer all day long and your going to suffer under the sun and you're going to have calves and you're going to give milk to support the farmers family. And for this, I'm going to give you a life span of 60 years. And the cow said, That's way too long to do all of that work. How about we make it 20 and I'm going to give you 40 back? And God agreed. And then on the next day God created man and said, Eat, sleep, play, enjoy yourself, and for this, I'm going to give you 20 years. And man said, What? Only 20 years? he said, How about this God; could you possibly give me my 20, give me the 40 the cow gave you back, give me the 10 the monkey gave you back, and give me the 10 the dog gave you back, and let's make it 80! And God agreed. So that is why for the first 20 years we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves! How many of you all see this train a coming? And for the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next 10 years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren, and for the last 10 years we sit on the front porch and bark at everybody who goes by! There you go, you've had life explained to you! Alright! Let's get to work today, we've got a lot we want to do. Because I really do, seriously, I told you that story on purpose because I really do want to explain life to you. And I know you have message notes, but I want you to write this word somewhere because we are going to use it over and over; it's a very, very important word, it's the word that I would say that all...listen closely...all of heaven and all of earth is based on this one word. In fact, even Jesus said that you can summarize the entire Bible on this one word. It's the word that can literally, if you understand it and realize its power can change your life. It's simply the word relationships, relationships. All of earth, your quality of earth is going to be determined on how you deal with your relationships. And wouldn't you agree that even heaven is determined on your relationships; it's not what you know, it's who you know that's going to determine where you spend eternity. Relationships are everything. Let me say it this way, that relationships, your relationship decisions are the most important decisions that you will ever make in your entire life. They are the most important decisions. In fact, let me say it this way, that the one thing that has had the most influence in where you are right now is probably the people that have been in your life, it's your relationships. One person said that your net worth is determined by your net work. And it's so true, relationships are everything. And that's why we're in a series called Two-Gather. We are in this series because Jesus said, 'Hey this is pretty important!' So important, He said this in Matthew 18:20. This is out of the New Living translation. This is our theme verse for this series: For where two or three gather together as my followers. Jesus said, 'I'll step into that circle.' Now, here's the question; why is Jesus so interested in our relationships? And the answer is very simple; because listen, you might want to write this down somewhere. This is a huge thought, and that is that real life change takes place in the context of relationships. Why is Jesus so interested in relationships? Because real life change doesn't happen if you just attend a service, it doesn't happen really if the school you go to or the college you go to, or what you know and understand, your real life is going to change and it's going to be impacted by the people in your life. And that's why Jesus said, 'If you'll be intentional about your gatherings, I'll step in the middle of that and do something pretty powerful.' Now, right off the bat when I said that, if you're in a group you thought, 'Well, that's why I'm involved in LifeGroups.' For some of us, many of us, we are not involved in any significant intentional kind of a group that way. And immediately, if you're like most people you're already beginning to think of the reasons why you're not. So, I want to address that first, why we wouldn't do it, and then give you some strong reasons, this is my assignment from Pastor Craig, is basically to convince you that your life will be better if you were in groups. And so, we are going to talk about that today. But let me give you this verse that I think may convict some of us, I know it does me. Ecclesiastes 4:8, it's in your notes there: There was a man... Look at this: ...all alone; he had neither son nor brother... In other words, he just didn't have anybody he could relate to. And that by the way is not just talking about biological relatives. It's just saying that there was no one really, really close to him. And notice the result of that, and it may be the condition that some of you are in today. And that's why you need this message so much, that because he had no son or brother, and he was doing life alone: ...There was no end to his toil... In other words, life didn't work. And so, notice what he did to try to substitute what only relationships can do. He said: ...yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. So in other words, this guy obviously tried; Well maybe I'll work harder, spend more hours at the office, I'll pick up some hobbies, I'll try to make more money. And it didn't scratch the itch because your real-life change takes place in the context of relationships. It's the most important decision you'll ever make in your life. You want life explained? It's relationships. So, walking alone never, never, never works. And so, why would we walk alone? Let me give you some reasons. I don't want to spend a lot of time on these. I just want to expose them. Kind of sometimes people seeing these reasons that often we use ourselves, it kind of helps us to move on from them. So, let me just give you five reasons why you might. Some of these by the way are mine, why I might not get involved in a group, and then I might not want to get that close to someone. Let me just expose them today. Here's the first one, takes some notes with me today, and that is: Naivety; in other words, there are some of you that genuinely didn't even know you really needed this as bad as you do, and hopefully we're going to clear that up today, alright? But some of us actually think, I can handle this stuff called life all my own, I can do this! I heard this story about Mohammed Ali, back in the day when he was boxing. Mohammed Ali was on an airplane and refused to buckle his seat belt and the flight attendant said, Sir, you're going to have to buckle your seat belt! He responded, and I don't even know if this is true, I just heard this story, but I can imagine him saying this! He said, Superman don't need no seat belt! To which the flight attendant responded, And Superman didn't need no plane either! Buckle up! Right, right! And some of us are kind of like that. We think, Man, I can handle this myself! Just realize that you're going to find out today that that's not true. Here's the second reason and this is the real one; this is not an excuse, this is a real reason. Some of us say, It's my temperament. I don't have the personality that is outgoing and to go to someone's home, or to meet at a restaurant, or to gather with a group. I'm kind of shy. I just want to give those that have that excuse or maybe that real reason, permission to kind of step out of that. Some of us just say, Well, that's just the way I am! And I would just say respectfully to you, That's not good enough! You need this, you're going to see this today. Here's the third reason, I'm just trying to expose reasons why we might be like the guy in Ecclesiastes Chapter Four. The third reason is fear, fear. In fact, I want to expose two fears that are associated with groups. The first fear is: What's going to happen if I go? Even those of us that are kind of outgoing, I'm kind of an outgoing guy. It's still hard to pick up a phone and call someone you don't know and say, Hey, I'd like to come check out your group. Walk up to the front door, knock on the door. Because you build in these scenarios right, that certain things are going to happen. Like, I always imagine that I would go to the door and then the whole group would be waiting for me, like they'd been praying for hours and just couldn't wait for me to finally get there! And then, when I step in the foyer they've got this circle of chairs and then in the middle of the room in a chair all by itself and that's my chair! You know, they're going to make me sit in the middle of the room and then everybody's going to lay their hands on me and pray for me for four hours until I confess all of my sins! You know what I'm saying? Like, you know what I'm saying? Like, I don't want to go through that! And for those of you who think that that's what happens in our LifeGroups, we don't do that until the second meeting! So, don't worry about it! I'm just kidding! That's not true at all! But there's just fears, right? It's just a fear. And even the fear of exposing the real you. You know, to be able to say, Here's what's really going on in my life. That's kind of scary, wouldn't you agree? I mean, because you've got to let somebody know, Hey, here's what I'm doing, here's where I'm messing up. And there's some fears that are associated with all of those. Here's another one, jot it down if you're taking notes, and that is our past experiences. Sometimes there have been some of us who have been burned relationally. In fact, some of you are here today and you are wounded relationally. And your response to the wound wasn't to get the wound healed, your response to the wound was saying, I'll never let that happen again. And I will just say that was the wrong response. I understand it, but that's the wrong response. I'll never let someone hurt me that way again. I'm never going to expose myself that way again. We've got to be careful that we don't let past experiences keep us from God's best. Here's the last one; in fact, when I put this last one on the list I thought I probably should do an entire message on this one because I think this last one is keeping us from the best of a lot of things right now. We all know this one, are you ready for it? It's busyness. I can't go, I'm already out eight nights a week, I can't! Dude, I'm busy, I'd love to but it's not on my schedule. I wonder how many things, I want you to ask this question of yourself: How many things you're not doing that you know you should be doing but your life would be better if you were doing, but you don't do because your schedule is dictating your life? And how many things that are in our schedule that are contributing nothing to our lives? Don't let the world, don't let your schedule be the one that's kind of telling you how to live. All of us from time to time ought to analyze it and do a little bit better. So, here's my thought and I wanted to just throw this out to you, okay? I think deep down inside there's not been a single thing that I've said already that you don't really just, I think all of you already agree with it. I think you know deep down inside that this is important. I even truly believe that every single person actually even wants it. I think we'd all like to have that place, here's my message title, Where Everybody Knows Your Name. Now, if you're my age or older, that title kind of rings a bell right? Because you probably grew up, young people, I'm so sorry, but we grew up with this sitcom called Cheers, about this bar owned by a Red Sox pitcher who didn't even drink. It became this little club, this hang-out place and they became this family and they loved to go, not because of what they were able to eat or drink, they went because of the people. Because everybody wants to go to a place where they know your name. The theme song, I love the theme song. I want to read it to you. The theme song to Cheers was, Making Your Way in the World Today Takes Everything you've Got. Boy, isn't that a mouth full? That's so true. Taking a break from all of your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Some of you are thinking that right now! Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came. You want to be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You want to go where everybody knows your name. It's just unfortunate that that was about a bar and not the church. Amen everybody? I mean really. And I really believe that God designed the church to be that place to which some of you would say, That's the problem, this church is too big, it won't work. They can't know my name. And that's why the Bible says, 'Yeah, we need the big so we can do big things, but we need the small so everybody can know your name. And that's why every one of us that call LifeChurch home, or wherever you are, should be in a group, a significant group. So, let's talk about it a little bit. I want you to see this verse in your notes. In fact, at all the locations today, I want you to read this verse aloud with me. Romans 12:5; come on every voice, full voice, here we go: Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. Turn to the person next to you and say, You need me! Come on tell them, You need me! You need me! Come on, turn to that person who was your second choice and tell them, You need me too! You know, there's always a second choice, you do realize that, right? I want to give you four things that you need today, four things you need. You're going to realize that small group can meet these needs today. I want to give it to you in a little teaching I found years ago when I was doing this personality profile. Basically, this guy said there's four aspects to a person's life. And I want to make the case that most of these aspects never get touched in real life, they really don't, and I want to make the case that the small group, the LifeGroup, can touch all four of these and they can meet the need. We need each other. It's four aspects of a person's life. Here's the first one; most people never go beyond this first aspect, and that's the aspect of what they call: The arena. Write down the definition in your notes. It's where I know and you know. There's some things that I know about you, just being together with you today. There was some things you already knew about me, just hearing me speak for a few minutes so far. There's some arena aspects of our lives, but it's just the public side of us, it's not the real us, and that's why, here's the first thing we need, write this down: I need somebody, I need people who really know me. I need somebody who really knows me. Why? Because there's another side to me. Notice this verse in your notes, 1 Corinthians 2: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In other words, all of us have this other side, this inside side. All of us see the public side, but there's another side that's the real you. And that's the part where I really believe we need to get to. And you say, Chris why? Why do I need somebody who really knows me? I want you to hear this, because we all have that day, it's that day; it's the day where we're ready to check out. It's the day where we got the bad news, it's the day where we got the test results, it's the day, I faced it twice this year; I lost both my father and my father-in-law, the two greatest heroes of my life within a 9-month period. It's that day. All of us need, we don't even need a church of fifty, we need a few people right? We need a few people who really know us. We need the LifeGroup, we need a place where everybody knows our name when we face that day. We have a small group in our church where one of the members got cancer, diagnosed with cancer, and went through chemotherapy treatments. And the chemo caused his hair to fall out. You ready for this? All of the men in that small group shaved their heads. If you're going through it, we're going through it. And how many of you know that that guy was cared for a whole lot more better than any program, staff, building, anything we could do. Right? That's something everyone of us needs because we all face that day. We all have that day. Here's the second aspect of our lives that I'm telling you, that the LifeGroup can make a difference in, and that's the mask. Let's define it this way if you're taking notes, it's: I know but you don't know. And I've got a mask by the way. I've got some things that you don't know about me and you're not going to know about me! Now, I'm not safe if no one knows them about me. And let me just say this to you sir, ma'am, young person; if there's something that only you know about you, you're not safe, you're not in a good place. You have to have somebody who knows your secrets, somebody who knows where you're tempted. If no one knows you're not safe. Several years ago, my wife Tammy and I went to China. We took a missions team there. On the last day of the trip we always do a little touring, but I needed to leave early, one day early on the last day. So, I did a half-day tour, we went to the Great Wall of China. And I just peeled away from the group, Tammy and I did to go jump into a cab and head to the airport. We really didn't tell anybody. Well, somebody in the group told our host missionary what I was doing, but I was already a few minutes ahead of him headed toward the cab. And I got to the cab, just as the cab was about to pull off, this missionary was running toward us going, Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! And he said, Chris come out, I just want to show you something real quick! Come over here! I'm like, I have to go to the airport! He said, No, no, no! Come on, come on, come on! I want to show you something real quick! I got out of the taxi cab and I said, Dude, what's going on? He goes, Dude, that's not a real taxi cab, that's a fake one! That's not a licensed taxi cab, that's the taxi cab that brings you out into the country, beats you dead, steals all of your money. That's the one you were getting ready to get in! And I was thinking of how unsafe my life was. By the way, from now on I tell everything I'm doing, everywhere I'm going; I mean, I've got intercessors who know what I'm doing this very second right now. I tell my wife, no secrets! I learned a huge lesson that day, that I'm not safe if no one knows! Okay, listen to me, you're not safe if no one knows. You're just not safe. So, what do we need? Write it down: I need somebody who's going to protect me. They cannot protect you if they don't know what's going on inside of you. That's why Paul said: We refuse to wear masks and play games. Rather..., Look what he says; here's what I'm going to do, I'm not going to have a mask: I'm going to keep everything I do and say out in the open. You need a few people who really know. And by the way, you've heard this from your own pastor. It's really the only way you're going to get over habitual sin. If you confess to God, God will forgive you. But James Five said that if you confess your faults to another person, pray for one another; that's where the healing takes place. God will forgive you, but you need a person that's going to protect you to see you get healed. Are you getting it everybody? Yes? Alright, here's the third one. I'm just talking about the aspects of a person's life. You've got the Arena, I know you know; we've got to go beyond that, I need somebody who really knows me. I've got the mask, I know but you don't know. Man, I need somebody who is going to protect me. You need someone who knows. The third area is: The blind spot. Here's how it's defined: And that is, I don't know but you know. I didn't know I acted that way, but you know I act that way. I didn't know I had spinach in my teeth, but you sure can see it! You know what I'm saying? We all have that, right, we have that exposed place. Here we are just smiling away and we've just got that crud all on it, you know. And friends don't let friends keep that stuff in their teeth. It's like, Dude, you've got a little something right there you need to get out! At a service at our church where I had actually got up after the praise and worship and I was just going to say hello to everybody and one of our pastors ran across in front of the stage. I was just kind of going on, he was kind of being distracting a little bit. When he got across the front, he was just going...but you know what that means. You know, and he was like, I was like, and I had that panic moment, so I did what pastors do, I said, Hey, why don't you turn and say hello to someone next to you and greet. You think we do that because we want you to be nice! We are usually fixing things! Alright, so, they started greeting one another and I turned around and the worship team saw what I was doing. I was just like, they became my small group at that moment! It was like...whoop! And I took care of things and we went ahead with the rest of the service and the church never knew! Alright and here's the point, here's the point: You've got blind spots and not everybody needs to know what they are, but a few people who love you do know what they are. And that's why, write it down if you're taking notes today: I need somebody who's going to be honest with me. Honest with me. Yes, I need somebody to know if I'm not treating my wife the way I should. I need someone who is going to tell me, You know what? Chris, your attitude really stinks. You know, what is you're deal today? I don't know about you, but I'm really not ready to receive that from everybody, but I'll receive it from the people that I really believe love me. And I just hope; I mean, I just hope for LifeChurch's sake, that you have someone that you've allowed to be honest with you in that kind of way because we all need it. Look what the Bible says about this in Proverbs 27:6; I think this is a gargantuan verse: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. So, the Bible says that the good guy, the faithful guy was the guy that said, Hey bro, we've got some things we need to work on here. It's your enemy that's kissing you saying, Oh, you're wonderful, you're just the best! No, we need somebody who can really be honest with us. Here's the last one and that is: The potential. Here's how this one is defined and that is, I don't know and you don't know. Which by the way everybody, only God knows your potential. You say, Chris, what does that have to do with the LifeGroup, if only God knows this one? If my potential can only be realized because God knows it, how does the LifeGroup help that at all? Here's how: Because God's system, listen to this closely, to pulling out your best, God's system is you connecting with another member of the Body of Christ. That's why he calls us the Body of Christ. Check it out, listen; we are not supposed to be body parts, we are supposed to be, hand knowing where the wrist is, the wrist knowing where the arm is, arm knowing where this massive bicep is! Hurts my feelings, thank you very much! But, it's connection, it's not just parts, it's connected parts. And that's why the Bible says: Each part does its work and helps the other parts grow, so Christ's whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Jot it down, what do we need in this one? I need people who are going to grow me, grow me. That happens when we connect to the Body of Christ. Simply put, your life can be changed powerfully just by attending this church. I mean, Jesus can touch you but you need more than that. We recognize here at LifeChurch.tv, that we need to be this large church making this huge difference around the world; we know that. We need to be making a difference in people's lives, and it takes something big sometimes to pull that off, but the big church needs to become small because we need more than that. We need a place where I'm known, they know my name, they're glad I came, they can protect me and be honest with me and grow me. Let's look at this final verse, I think it's challenging: A man of many companions may come to ruin... So, if you're one of those, Oh, I've got lots of friends! The Bible says that that's not good enough: You need a friend who sticks closer than a brother. You need the intimate friend. It doesn't have to be everybody, but it does need to be a few people. And I promise you if you do that, I want to challenge you with everything in me to consider getting in a LifeGroup, just to taking the plunge of getting in some meaningful relationships. Let me pray for you before I go. Father, in the mighty name of Jesus, thank you for this amazing church and amazing work you're doing. And God, I just simply pray that we'd all realize the need, and we'd all have the courage to take the next step. In your name we pray, Amen.

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Duration: 32 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Sep 8, 2011

TWOGather - Week 2 - Craig Groeschel - LifeChurch.tv

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