The decisions we make today affect our future and can change the trajectory of our lives… no pressure. We’re all becoming our future selves. Are you becoming all that God desires for you to be? In this message, we look at 7 principles informed by The Bible that will help you be the best you.
Male: Hey, guys! I wanted to invite you to a new conference we are hosting called Awaken, May 25 through 27, on Memorial Day Weekend 2019.
Todd Wagner: Imagine 10,000 young adults converging on Dallas from all over the world, listening to teaching relevant to them, worshiping together, and catching a vision for what it would look like to change this world and live out our calling for Christ.
Male: You do not want to miss it. You can find out more information at awaken.live
[End of video]
Porch, how are we doing? I missed you guys! What a long break! Did everybody have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year? I want to start with this. I was traveling over the break, so I went to Las Vegas, of all places. It was a mission trip. No. It was regarding the book. I was meeting with a publisher there. Coming back, I'm on a Southwest flight. You know they don't have assigned seating. I love them, too, but no assigned seating.
I'm walking through the plane with my luggage, and I'm trying to find a spot, but the only thing that's there is the middle section. I was group seven or something, so the only seats available are middle seats. I go all of the way to the end of the plane. I make the mistake of putting my luggage up in the place in the back, because that was all was there. Then, I walked to the front. There was a middle seat in bulkhead. I'm six foot seven inches tall, so I'm like, "Bulkhead will work," but there are two guys there praying diligently that nobody sits there.
I'm like, "I'm sorry, guys. I have to sit here." I sit down between these two guys. One of them was a bigger guy; the other one was a super cool guy. I don't want to invade their space. I was like, "How are you guys doing?" I was riding like this. This dude passes out immediately. He's snoring. This guy has the Chelsea boots, the tight jeans, the shirt tucked in with a blazer, and hair slicked back, a little scruff. He's who I want to be. He just looks good. He's getting cool all over me.
Before we leave, we're on the ground, and the dude pulls out his phone and starts swiping. "Not her. Not her. Her. Not her. Yeah, her." Some of you were doing this before we were worshiping in here. We can track that through the Web. No, we can't. It's okay. It's okay. He was swiping. The dude must have gone through 75 girls…I'm not even kidding…while we were on the ground.
Then, we lift off. "Put your phone on airplane mode." We're up in the air, and I'm still like… The dude is snoring. I look over here, and now he's looking at his photos. I'm trying not to look at his photos with him, but he was holding them in front of me. Every other one is a naked girl. Yeah! I know none of you have done that.
Don't do that. Here's free advice. Never send someone a naked picture of yourself…ever…because it lives out there forever. What you put on the Internet stays in the world forever. Don't do it under any circumstance. I don't care if you're married to them. Don't do it. Of course, I'm like, "Look away." Now, I'm thinking, "You have to share the gospel with him. It's going to happen. How do you want it? It's coming at you."
I'm praying. I'm like, "Lord, what do I do? How do I go? Is it bridge? Is it chair? What are we going to go with?" Right then and there I know. I know where I'm going to go. I turned to him, and he put his earphones in. I was like, "That's okay. Maybe I'll just ask him, 'Do you mind taking those out? Because I want to talk to you for a second.'"
Now, I'm thinking, "What do I want to do?" Now, we have hours of flight. I'm just thinking, "I have to share the gospel with him." I'm going to grab him in the airport or something. As we were going down…not like crashing but landing…they say, "We're about to land. Please prepare for landing." He takes them out. They go, "We'll be in Dallas in 30 minutes." I'm like, "All right. I have 30 minutes with this guy."
What you feel like in that moment is, "I have 30 minutes to save this guy." We know that's not true. It's the Holy Spirit. I'm like, "I have 30 minutes to give this guy everything I can." You guys are in a series called Self Care. I love the way you started the year. I feel like I have 30 minutes with you to just share the best advice and the best wisdom I know.
Really, what I want to give you are seven statements this ministry has been built on. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. It's going to be a little bit different tonight, like drinking from a fire hydrant, but write down as fast as you can these seven things. These are seven things this ministry was actually built on, seven things God used.
I can say that humbly because none of these are my things. These are things I've learned from much wiser people than myself, some of whom you're going to hear from later. These are things I've just stolen that I'm going to give back to you, but it's the best advice I can give you in the 30 minutes I have. Are you ready?
1._ Don't let your preferences rob you of paradise_. If you've been running with us long, you've heard some of these things. They've come up through the years. Don't let your preferences rob you of paradise. Here's what that means. If you just do what you want to do, you miss out on what God wants you to do. That means, for the rest of your life, don't just do whatever you want to do. Life is not just about doing whatever you feel like.
I've lacked discipline in my life in seasons. My family and I went through a 40-day fast. It's hard. We fasted from all sugar and all things sweet and all carbohydrates. My 6-year-old was in class, and they set a cupcake in front of him. He told his teacher, "I can't eat that. I'm doing the keto diet." I was like, "Buddy, it's a fast and not really a diet." Anyway…
In those 40 days, I got to experience a closeness with the Lord I wouldn't have experienced if I hadn't done that. Then, after the 40 days, it's so easy to slip back into laziness and whatnot. Tomorrow, you might not feel like getting up early and getting in the Word. You may not feel like eating right. You may not feel like working out. You may feel like sleeping with your significant other. You may feel like going back to that website or clicking that hashtag, but life is not about doing whatever you feel like doing.
Do hard things. It produces godliness. Discipline yourself for godliness. Like they're saying about our generation, we change jobs an average of every two years. Do you know what that means? We never get great at anything. We jump into something. Then, when it gets difficult and we don't feel like doing it anymore, we jump into something else. Then, we jump into something else. Then, we jump into something else. Then, we jump into something else.
All of a sudden, you find us at 45 years of age, and we haven't mastered anything because we just try things every two years. Don't follow your appetite. That's what the Scripture tells us in Philippians 3. It's talking about enemies of the cross of Christ and enemies of the gospel. This is how he describes them.
"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." **What does it mean that their god is their stomach? What does that mean? Think about that for a second."…their god is their stomach…"** It means they eat what they're hungry for with no regard. If they want it, they take it. Who are they? Enemies of the cross of Christ. Don't let your preferences rob you of paradise. One thing that will help you with this is who you hang around with, so…
2._ Change your playmates and your playground_. This is the number one advice I have given throughout the years outside of the gospel when someone comes to me and they want to change their life. In fact, just yesterday I was talking to a couple who is going through a challenge in their marriage. They're like, "What do we do?"
I'm like, "You guys keep bumping up against the same things. You have terrible influences around you. You're going to places that set yourself up for failure. Change your playmates and your playground." Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 20, says, "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm."
First Corinthians 15, verse 33, says, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Guys, you know this. Like, if you get drunk when you go to the bar, stop going to the bar. If you sleep with him when you go to his apartment or you all get handsy or you cross lines, fix that. Don't go to his apartment…ever…ever! Change your playmates and your playground. Where you go and who you go with is half of the battle in life. If you want to change your life, change where you go and who you go with. That's going to be half of the battle.
It's no secret. I've told this story over and over and over that what God has used more than any other thing in my life to take me from a perverted, porn-addict womanizer and drug user and alcoholic to pastor, as crazy as that is, was community. He placed godly people in my life who I didn't even like! They know I didn't like them.
Some of them are here, but today I love them as much as anything in me because they're brothers. They're friends who are closer than family. God used them to change my life more than anything. He's going to do the same with you. Don't find community that you like. Don't look for people who have the same things in common. Just find someone who loves Jesus more than you, and God will use that.
3._ Pay close attention to what you pay attention to_. The reality is everything you do for the rest of your life will start in your mind. Your thoughts or your moods, if you're sad or you're mad or in a bad mood, start up here. It all comes from the thoughts you feed. This is so true. Your mind is a container, and the contents of that container can be rotten or life-giving.
This is an area where I will tell you science is catching up to theology. Just the other day a couple of weeks ago, Jimmy Fallon led the country in a one-minute meditation. Some of you guys have meditation apps on your phone. Buzz words like meditation or head space or mindfulness are common ideas in our generation.
This is something we really, really, really get it right, but it's something God said thousands of years ago that we would start our days by meditating on his Word, filling our minds with the things of God, and fixing our minds on the things not of this world but of his world. Colossians 3, verse 2, says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
You need to pay attention to what you're paying attention to. If you're thinking, "Wow! She's hot," or "Why don't I have that?" or "I wish I had her boyfriend," or "I don't know why I can't go there," or "If my boss or the president…" La-la-la! As you're saying these things and as you're feeding your mind these things, you're affecting your entire body and your livelihood.
This is why the Scripture says in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed…" **Be different or be renewed"…by the renewing of your mind." Do you want to know what God's will is? It says,"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."**
If you look in history over wars that have been fought and battles that have been fought, they've been fought over real estate, territory, and nations. There is a battle right now being fought over your mind. It is a supernatural, spiritual battle. The Enemy, Satan, wants your mind. He wants your thoughts, and he wants to fill them with envy and wrath and jealousy and judgment so he can ruin your entire life. That's what he wants. He wants your ruin.
The Scripture commands us over and over and over to renew our minds, to think about whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, and whatever is honorable. If anything is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, that we would think about these things. That's Philippians 4:8. Fix your mind on Jesus. Set your mind on the things above. Just like your mind is a container, so is your heart.
4._ Don't follow your heart; inform your heart. This comes from Proverbs 4:23. It says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for[it is the wellspring of life]." **Your version of the Bible may say,"Keep your heart with all diligence…"** That word _keep means the way you keep food in the refrigerator from going bad or from spoiling. Keep your heart from spoiling. The way you keep it from spoiling is to be very careful with what you let in.
I know I sound like your mom or your grandma right now when I talk about music and movies and magazines and things you read, but there's truth to that. Again, science is catching up! All of a sudden, a girl is like, "I just don't know. I'm not attractive to good guys." That's because you've gone through a university that has trained you not to be attracted to good guys by what you've used to entertain yourself.
Start looking at the words of that song! You're like, "Why do guys just want to use me to hook up?" Focus on what you're watching. Think about what you're feeding your heart. It's like a bloodhound. You've trained it to look for those things. You're like, "He's awesome. He makes great money, and he looks good, but should I date him?" You have to inform your heart. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." You want to tell your heart where to go.
One time, my daughter, Presley, and I were traveling. I was traveling for a speaking deal, and I took her with me. We got in the rental car. Because I didn't know where we were going… We were actually in DC, and I wanted to go see the monuments and what not. I got a rental car with a GPS.
As I got in it, I began to follow the GPS. I'm thinking that we were going to the Lincoln Memorial. As we were driving, I realized at some point we had traveled 20 miles the wrong direction because I never put the destination in the GPS. The person who had the car before me… I was still going wherever they wanted to go.
You wouldn't follow a GPS that you had not entered in the destination and you hadn't told it where to go. Likewise, don't follow your heart until you've informed it and until you've told it what to look for. "I want to find this kind of man," or "I want to find this kind of woman," or "I want to surround myself with these kinds of people." A sign of immaturity is when someone's feelings define their reality. It's a sign of immaturity.
A sign of maturity is when you learn to test your feelings. As my friend has said many times, feelings are real but not always reliable, meaning you can't always trust them. You want to make sure you fed that heart before you follow it and that you've told it where to go. If you're telling it where to go with The Bachelor or romantic comedies or pornography, it's going to lead you to a cliff, to a dead-end, to break up after break up, and to heartbreak after heartbreak. The reason this all matters is because of who you belong to.
5.Whose you are is more important than who you are. Yesterday, my family and I were in H-E-B, a new grocery store to us. It was huge! I looked up, and I couldn't find my 6-year-old. I didn't know where he was. Monica was like, "Where's Weston?" I was like, "Oh." She said, "You had him." I said, "I'm sorry. I lost him."
I'm going through the grocery store trying to find him, and I see this lady had found him. She was holding him for us, if you will, like, "We'll find your parents." When that lady saw that he was lost and she noticed he was lost, his eyes were filling with tears. You know when you're lost in the grocery store it's like you're never going to see your parents again. I don't know why that is, but he was like, "I'm done. I'm going to the orphanage."
I come to him. When she found him, she didn't ask, "Who are you?" She asked, "Who are your mom and dad? Who are your parents? Who do you belong to?" Friends, for the rest of your life, there are going to be seasons when you find yourself lost. You're like, "How did I get here?" In that moment, don't be focused on who you are. You focus on whose you are. That's the way to be found. Who do you belong to?
What this means is you can stop trying so hard to make a name for yourself and to build a kingdom because you're the son and daughter to a King. It's who you are. You're his! That's the most important thing about you, that you are a child of God, as John 1, verse 12 says. "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…"
You're a prince. You're a princess. You belong to God. You're not just somebody; you belong to somebody. You're not just somebody; you're Somebody's with a capital S, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Can we talk about why this matters for a second? Because what you do with your life matters. What that guy on the airplane does with his life matters. What he does with God's daughters matter. It matters to God! It matters to their Dad, their (capital F) Father. It matters.
First Corinthians 6, verses 18 through 20, say, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…" **Let me say it again."You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."** You're his.
The other day I was staying at a friend's house. They were out of town, and I stayed at their place. As I was leaving, I made sure to make the bed just the way it was and put everything up and did the dishes and put them back in the cabinet. In fact, I was leaving. I was driving down the road. They live down this long road. I was driving down the long road, and I was like…
I had started a fire. "Did I turn the gas off? I know I did. I checked it three times, but I'm going to go back one more time." I cooked eggs that morning. "Did I turn the stove off? I know I did, but let me go check one more time." Do you know why? Because it's not my house. It belongs to somebody else, and I want to leave it better than I found it.
This ain't your house, man! This ain't your house. This ain't either, by the way. Yours… You got it on loan. Make sure you leave it better than you found it. Young men…young men…when you hang out with her, you make sure you leave her better than you found her. A terrifying verse is 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 6.
It says that God is the avenger of these things. That's sobering. God is the avenger of these things. I don't want you to leave here and just try harder, do more, and grab the bootstraps. That's not it. We're looking for surrender, a posture of, "I can't, but you can. I become less; you become greater." The way I've said it through the years here and the way I've heard it said is…
6._ If dependence is the goal, weakness is the advantage_. The world is going to try to tell you that you need to be a bigger and better version of you, that you need to roar and get out there and get yours and make a name for yourself. Hurry, hurry, hurry! Save a bunch of money and retire and count seashells and whatnot. It's going to tell you that you don't need anybody else.
I want you to know that's not the gospel. The gospel says you're a sheep in desperate need of a shepherd, that you need someone to take care of you, and you don't have to boast in your strength but you can boast in your weakness, because when you boast in your weakness, it gives glory and points to God.
When you begin to talk about what he has delivered you from… You're like, "I'm never going to talk about that abortion." You begin to start to talk about that abortion, and he sees freedom from that abortion, and you begin to repent from your sins and speak them out, he takes your mess and makes it your message. As he makes it your message and you continue to communicate it, he makes it your ministry. He grows a ministry around you.
All of a sudden, what the Enemy used for evil, God, the Creator who loves you, is using for good. It's like he has given you a key, and you're taking that key, which is your story, and you're unlocking the cells of other people sitting in those prisons you sat in. You have power or authority, it says in the Scripture, to help other people find freedom.
What else are you going to give your life to? What else are you going to do with your life? Why wouldn't you do that? In 2 Corinthians 12, verse 9, where Paul is talking about the thorn in his flesh, he said, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
If you want to know how dependent you are, there is a really simple test I can give you. How much did you pray today? How much time and energy and effort did you spend in prayer with the Father today? This will directly tell you your dependence level, at least today. If you're like, "I didn't pray a whole lot today," or "I didn't spend a lot of intentional time in prayer today," some of you are thinking, "Wow! Since I woke up till right now, I didn't pray one single time today." I would just tell you that you're not dependent on God.
Jesus' whole job description and his criteria of what he does is he's a Savior. He saves people. To save people there has to be somebody who needs saving. If you're like, "I'm going to get to God because of what I've done or because of who I am or because I tried hard by my efforts or because I'm good," then you don't need saving.
You getting into heaven to be with God forever starts with you saying, "I need saving! I can't do it on my own. I keep bumping my head up against the same wall, making the same mistakes and doing the same sins. Like a dog to his vomit, I keep going to that which is disgusting and impure and a mockery of who God is. I need someone to save me, to reach into the miry pit and set me on the Cornerstone. That is what I need."
Do you know what you need to get to heaven? Need. What you need most to come to God is need. To be in a place where you need him is dependence. How fast you are and how smart you are and how good-looking you are and how gifted you are is not going to help you, but when you realize your desperate need for a Savior, that's going to help you. How do you know if you've done that?
7._ Your behavior follows your belief_. Some of you have said that you've trusted in Christ. Just like me, you've said that you believe in Jesus. You've said those words, but today in your life, if you were honest, you know you're not trusting in Jesus. You know you didn't trust in Jesus today.
Do you know what they guy told me on the plane when I engaged him and began to share the gospel? He said, "No, no. I believe in Jesus." I said, "What do you believe about Jesus? Even the demons believe and shudder." I can say, "Here's a chair. I believe there's a chair. Look! There's a chair. I believe it's there."
"Will it hold you?"
"Yeah, I believe it will hold me."
"Why don't you sit down in it?"
"No. Go ahead and sit down in it."
"No. I don't want to."
"Do you trust it will hold you?"
"Yeah, I trust it would hold me."
"Sit down in it."
"No. I'm good. I'll just stand. I'm fine with standing."
I can see the chair, I can acknowledge the chair, and I can speak the words, "The chair is there. The chair is there." I can say that out loud. I could even say, "I'm a chair follower. I follow the chair. Everywhere the chair goes, look at me! I'm a chair follower," but until I trust the chair to hold me…
That is evidence of me believing, so I come over here and put my weight on it, and it supports me. My life is in it. Now, this is evidence of the knowledge I spoke, the reality that I said. "There was a chair here. Now, I'm trusting in the chair. My life is in the chair." This is what Jesus wants from you.
This is what he wants from you, that you would trust in his death and resurrection as a payment for your sins, securing you to God's kingdom and that you're going to be there forever and ever. When you know you're going to be there forever and ever, then you begin to live this life here as though that's what matters most.
You'll live every minute, every breath, and every heartbeat here as though you're going to be there with God forever and ever and ever, so eternity with you starts right now in the way you have conversations with people, the way you date, the way you talk, the way you buy, the things you like, your hobbies, and how you spend your time. It's all his.
James 1 says, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Do what it says. Don't just say you believe in Jesus. Do what he says.
In summary, don't let your preferences rob you of paradise. Change your playmates and your playground. Pay close attention to what you pay attention to. Don't follow your heart; inform your heart. Whose you are is more important than who you are. If dependence is the goal, weakness is the advantage. Your behavior follows your belief.
When I left that guy on that plane, I thought, "God gave that brother so many talents and so many gifts, and the world is affirming everything he is and what he's all about." The truth is, from an eternal perspective, he's completely insignificant. He has nothing in eternity. He is wasting every breath of his life.
I want to juxtapose that with 11 men who Jesus met on the side of a hill. Jesus, when he came here, had one mission: to save the world. He had a message that he needed to get out there, and he could have used anybody. He could have used toddlers. He could have used geriatrics. He could have used the elderly. Do you know who he used? He chose to use young adults, some people 18 to 35. That was his strategy.
He walks up to them on a hillside in Caesarea Philippi. They were standing up there. "Who do they say I am? Some say Jeremiah and others Elisha or one of the prophets. I don't know. What about you? Who do you say I am?" Peter speaks up. "You're the Christ. You're the Son of the living God."
He's asking you this question right now. "Who do you say I am?" Insert your name right now. "Darrell, who do you say? Michael, who do you say? Jennifer, who do you say? Kelly, who do you say I am? Sarah, who do you say I am?" "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus is like, "That's right! I'm going to do something that nothing is going to be able to stop. I'm going to build my church, and the gates of hades won't be able to overcome it."
It's my favorite prophecy in all of the Scriptures, because then, those guys are like, "What are you talking about? You're going to build a church? What is a church, first of all, Jesus? I don't know if you've noticed, but people don't like you. You're talking about building this unstoppable movement. There are only 12 of us, and I'm not even so sure about Judas over here. He might be playing for the other team."
I mean, they kept screwing it up. Just a few verses later, Jesus is talking to the same guy who was like, "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus was like, "Get behind me, Satan," because he's like, "No, you can't do that!" He's always messing things up. He denies him to a 12-year-old girl. "No, I don't know him." It was his best friend. "Who's that? I don't know that guy." They keep messing it up (these guys). They were complete and total cowards, but they said that he was the Christ.
Maybe that's you tonight. "I believe he's the Christ." You go back tomorrow and you're a coward, but something happened. Something awesome happened. In Matthew 28, eight chapters later, they saw Jesus on the cross. They saw him die. They saw him take his last breath. They saw him stabbed in the side and the blood run out. They saw him show back up. They saw the greatest act of all time, and those guys gave their entire lives to advancing that message.
Church history tells us 10 of the 11 died martyr's deaths. They were crucified, beheaded, crucified upside down, and stabbed to death. One was skinned with his head cut off. One was boiled alive and sent to a prison on a remote island, all because they would not deny the resurrection. These cowards now became courageous, and it's not just their death. They gave their lives to it.
Why? Because they believed it, and if you are here and you believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins and God raised him from the dead and his Holy Spirit lives in you, what are you doing with your life? Because those guys who died… That wasn't a tragedy. They are heroes.
They told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told you so you would know who he is. That guy on that plane, the too-cool-for-school guy? That's a tragedy. His life is wasted. It's a tragedy. He has a lot of girlfriends. He has a lot of naked pictures of those girlfriends, and he is a tragedy.
I don't want you to be a tragedy, so here's what we're going to do. It has been amazing to watch this ministry grow beyond the walls of not just this building or this church or this city, but this week I'm going to get emails from South Africa and Australia and London and people all over the world not to mention the United States (Tennessee and Alabama and Florida and California and Seattle) because of what God is doing through you.
What we're going to do is we're going to grab all of those people from around the world and bring them here on Memorial Day. My friend is leading us in the charge of giving them a vision for what the church can be. It's the same vision that captured my heart here 17 years ago, and I don't want you to miss it. Would you watch this?
Male: There has to be more…more meaning, more purpose, and more life. Something to do that matters. You long for it, and it seems like you're so close to finding it. You've looked everywhere you can think of to find it. You've done all the good things to achieve it, but you still keep missing it.
In your heart, you know the answer is Jesus, but you're still trying to make that connection. You know there's more. You were made for more. There has to be a way to connect your love of Jesus and your God-given desire to do something great, to lead, to change the world. The good news is there are others like you, those who are ready to stop simply going to church and now ready to be the church. Some say the church is an irrelevant thing and outdated. We say it's the movement you were made for.
[End of video]
Todd Wagner: Yeah, it is! It's what you were made for. Hello, Porch! How are we doing? From the very beginning of us pouring into our friends who were young adults in Dallas, Texas, and now, as JP said, around the world and in different locations that every week gather like you guys do here to stream and talk about this, we've had something at the very front of our minds, and that something is that we would raise a generation God would move in such a way that we would surrender to God and, then, change the world through the lives of young adults. It's what Jesus has always done.
You guys who are in this room and gathering right now in this place and meeting other places, but specifically the ones who are here with me in Dallas and the ones in Fort Worth, are gathered in places because when I was your age by the kindness of God I surrendered to God. I started to do these principles JP taught tonight. I was sick and tired of being underneath a dead, feckless, human, come-and-listen-to-me, show-up, shut-up, and pay-up church.
I said, "There is nothing in this Americanized version of the church that even remotely looks like this 'gates of hell won't stand against it' and 'we're going to change the world' kind of community of friends," so I quit complaining about what I was underneath, and I started to undertake what God had for me.
A bunch of folks your age and I started to pray that God would take more of our hearts and we wouldn't follow our hearts but we would inform our hearts, and we wouldn't just say one thing and do another, but we'd be people who believed Jesus was alive and he still wanted to rescue people and he still wanted to do something great. We said, "Lord, if you're willing, why not with us?"
Then, 19 years later, I'm no longer a young adult, but we've used our lives and our fortune and our sacred honor to invest in people. A bunch of us moved as much resource as we had into putting together locations and putting on those locations buildings that we could gather people in and encourage people and equip people. We prayed that one day we're going to fill up with a generation that was well behind us, that they would surrender their hearts to God, and God would use them to change the world.
Then, we started to gather you guys away for two or three days. We could only fit about 1,200 into a place we gathered you. In 15 minutes, it was filled up with one-third of the folks who were already in the room with us. We just said, "This has to stop," because there are a lot of places around the world that don't have something like this. There are a lot of places around the world that don't have what I've been experiencing with my friends for the last 19 years, and we believe you're the generation who can change that.
We said, "We're going to take our lives and our fortune and we're going to invest it in gathering young adults from all around the country and all around the world on Memorial Day." We're not going to just take 1,200 of them that we fill up in 15 minutes away on Labor Day. We're going to rent the Convention Center in Dallas. We're going to invite some amazing friends. We're going to have incredible artists. We're going to have an incredible time, and we're going to be able to invite thousands of our friends.
Let me just tell you something. That means each of you can invite two people who live somewhere other than right here who don't have what we have every week, who don't have great teaching, great fellowship, and who don't go, "I'm not really sure I believe in God yet, but if there is a God, I want to learn about him from these people because they're not playing. They're not just trying to get me to come to some meeting. They're telling me there is something worth living for."
This is your moment. This is what the plan has been all along, and it's time for us to invite other people to the party. On Memorial Day weekend, we're going to spend three days together. Like I said, we're not going to try to bait with you amazing, tantalizing things. Right now, I'm just going to tell you something. You want to be surprised and delighted? Come on. Do you want to come and expose your friends to what you get every week? Because this is not about you. This is about the opportunity, and the moment is now.
A lot of you guys are surrendered to God. Let's just say half of you are. That means you get to invite four friends (folks who went to college with you, folks you work with, people you sit next to on planes), and it's going to quickly show up and sell out, so now is the time for you to go and bring them in so we can build them up so Jesus can get busy…watch this…planting churches and forming communities like The Porch all across the world. That's what we want to do.
The big call coming out of our gathering that's going to happen on Memorial Day weekend is not, "Will you go invite four more friends for next year?" and we'll rent out American Airlines Center, and the next year Jerry World, where there will be 100,000 of us who will gather. What we want to do after we gather is we want to train, equip, and scatter, and we want to plant communities of Christ followers in other cities than the ones we're already in.
We want to disciple them. Some are going to come live with us. We're going to give them an opportunity to be trained and live with us and walk with you. Then, we're going to send them back in smaller clans. We're going to say, "If you're someplace already where there is a community of Christ followers who are serious about the kind of things we talked about tonight, then let's send you back more strengthened and ready to partner with them to change the world, and if there's not one, we're going to help you start one."
The vision from the beginning has been that we're going to surrender our lives to God and God is going to do something only he can do. He's going to use the likes of us to change the world. This is what God is up to. He's going to do this, and if you want to jump in with me to make disciples and be disciples and be people who don't just come to something that's cool but go, "I want to live for something that's great," then let's go!
This is something we're doing for you. We're not going to throw something that makes us feel good and in 15 minutes it's safe and covered. No. We have risked a lot. We're bringing in friends. We're bringing in folks who are going to bless you, but you have to go get your friends and say, "You know that thing I talked to you about that I do every Tuesday night? We're going to do something for you. You have to come. You have to hang out with me."
It's not going to be available for long. In fact, next week to gather with us it's going to get a little bit more expensive. Next Tuesday, when you walk in here, it will be a little bit more expensive. If you invite 10 people, it will be a little bit more expensive, but you want to get in on it right now. What I'm asking you to do is to be prayerful. I'm going to give you a second in just a moment to pray with me.
"Lord, who are the people I've been trying to tell that I think there's something about Jesus and something about his people?" Not this thing we used to be underneath that maybe we grew up around or grew up running from, but there's something about God and Christ that I'm starting to see.
Some of you have had your lives radically changed. You found forgiveness, you found healing, and you found life, and this is your moment to invite some friends who will come and not just come to an event but will walk out of there with an opportunity and a clear plan we're going to give them to disciple them and to start or strengthen the work of God where they live. That's what we want to do.
We're doing this for you because we believe you're surrendered to God, and we believe you're ready to change the world, and we're going to gather people to scatter them for the glory of God. Are you ready? Are you ready? I'm telling you we can only take about 8,000 this first year. That's all we're committed to. I hope, frankly, if I have to write a huge check and say, "Take your place back," and we have to go find a bigger place, make that our problem.
Let's just fill the room up. There's nothing worse than having an amazing time and seeing five empty seats and going, "Why wasn't my friend here? Because this would have been amazing to share with them." We're not doing this thing every week for you. We're doing it because God has invited you to do something that is going to make your life everything you dreamed your life was going to be.
The way I say that last point is people say what they think, but they do what they believe. You guys say you want to be the generation that changes the world. Well, you have a chance to do it. We're going to inspire. We're going to bless. We're going to laugh. We're going to play. We're going to serve. We're going to equip. And we're going launch. We're going to awaken the world to the glory of our God and our King.
Let me give you about 30 seconds just to pray. Say, "God, bring to my mind the names of some friends I work with and folks I've been telling about this. It's time for me to use and broker my relational capital to say, 'Come and see. Come hang out with us.'" There's a generation before us who made some decisions that something is happening here that will raise up a JP and a DMarv and all of the other folks who are serving you here so you can be blessed. It's your turn.
Father, would you just bring to mind friends who maybe are some who know you already and who need to just be encouraged that we need to have relationships with so we can strengthen them and help them start what you want for them in their city that we pray would outshine anything we're experiencing in this thing called The Porch? Because we don't care about The Porch; we care deeply about Jesus. Jesus, I thank you that you care deeply about my friends.
Will you bring to mind people who don't know you yet that I should invite to come and hear about the kindness of God? Would you bring to mind people who just need some encouragement to be strengthened who are going to be the leaders of not just the next generation but of your work in the world? Lord, speak to my heart.
Father, I thank you for this room, and I thank you for rooms just like it spread out right now like little dots in this little region we're in, but I pray he dots would grow all around the country. Not Porches but communities of authentic, transformed, Spirit-empowered, surrendered to God, free from the bondage to sin and self folks who don't worship their stomachs but who have a Savior who has delivered us from a way that seems right to us but has led to death.
Would you use us, this generation? Would you use this room and rooms like it? Would you use this age group, Lord, to preserve your people and to reach those who right now are staggering to slaughter? Would you let us take advantage of this resource that is being put together for others to see your kindness, your goodness, the joy, and the fun we have not when we're exploiting each other for momentary sexual pleasure or numbing ourselves with alcohol and drugs from pain?
But, Lord, may we have a party in this city that Dallas itself notes, "There's something different about these people, there's something better than what Vegas offers here, and these people love each other and serve each other and they say they know a King"? We pray that kingdom's reign would extend throughout all the earth.
Lord, would you bring your people? Would you use us to be the ones who invite them? I pray, Lord, as we now stand before you and sing, the greatness of your renown would spill out of us and our lives would be the beginning of this next work you're going to do, and may Jesus alone be the one who is glorified! In his name, amen.