Episode 1. First Steps
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Frankly, there aren’t many second chances in this life. It’s certainly not a dress rehearsal, so the things that we do now, today, tomorrow, this week, next week are going to determine what sort …
Frankly, there aren’t many second chances in this life. It’s certainly not a dress rehearsal, so the things that we do now, today, tomorrow, this week, next week are going to determine what sort of a life we end up living. And given what’s at stake, don’t you want to live an extraordinary life?
Why We Need A Mentor
We’re going to kick off something really exciting today on the program. Over the coming few weeks we’re going to be looking at how to live an absolutely extraordinary life. I mean, we all wish we could. Some people are, some people … well, and some people not so much right? But just stop and think about this for a minute, what if you and I could live a totally outrageously extraordinary life, I mean a life that really impacts other peoples lives for the right reasons, instead of the wrong ones?
A life that people will remember with a fondness and a gratitude, the sort of life that will have people queuing to deliver our eulogy at our funerals. And I know there are one or two people listening to me rabbitting on, thinking to themselves, “Yeah well that would be nice but …” you see there is always the butt.
Well here is my challenge. No if’s, no butts, do you want to live an extraordinary life, yes or no? If the answer is yes then lets have a chat huh? So what stops us from leading and extraordinary life?
We can blame all sorts of things. We can blame our circumstances, we can blame our parents, our DNA, our personality type. The place or family or the time that we were born into and grew up in, the bad things that happened along the way and ok, perhaps just maybe a few of the mistakes we’ve made.
But who we are, the abilities the limitations we’ve been given. How tall we are, the colour of our hair and our skin, how smart we are or aren’t, all of those things are things we just can’t change. I can’t change who I am, you can’t change who you are, but what we can do is make the most of what we’ve been given. The problem is with a lot of the self help rhetoric about the place, a lot of the motivational speakers, a lot of that genre of stuff is they tell you that you can be whoever you want to be; you can do whatever you want to do; you can have whatever you want to have. And my answer to that is … no you can’t! it’s just not true.
I mean, I’d love to be a great artist but I can’t draw or paint for nuts. I’d love to be a great photographer, but I just I just don’t have the eye for it. I’d love to be a basketball player but I’m just too short. I’d love to be … Do you get it? It doesn’t matter how positively I think, how hard I strive or how focused I am, I am never ever, ever going to be tall enough to be a great basketball player. Forget the fact I’m just getting a little old for that now anyway.
So its not about being, doing, or having anything our little heart desires that’s fairy land stuff. Its all about being realistic about who we are, what we’re capable of and saying to ourselves, you know something? I want to make my life count, given the obvious constraints and we all have them even though they’re different. I want my life to count. I want my life to make a positive difference in this world. Because if it’s not, then we’re living a sort of a meaningless existence an unfulfilling existence. I’ll tell you want I think is the biggest reason that most people don’t live lives that count its because we model ourselves on the wrong principles, the wrong beliefs and the wrong behaviours.
We go to school, we learn how to read and write and do arithmetic but they don’t seem to be any formal school to teach us life and how to live. How to be effective, how to be gracious. That bit of leaning, the most important bit of learning when you think about it, is pretty much left to chance in some cultures but not so much in others. And so we pick things up by watching our parents and mimicking them.
Some of that is good, some of it’s not. Which is why bad traits like anger and abuse get handed down from one generation to the next. We watch our teachers, we pick up things in the school yard and on television and on adverting billboards and somehow that all goes in the blender and our pops you. Out pops me. Good, bad and sometimes ugly.
I mean, that’s about it isn’t it? And when you look at it that way, its just a little bit crazy and no wonder we’re not living lives that count, lives that positive difference in this world. We’ve picked up some good habits and lots of bad habits. Some good attitudes but lots of wrong ones too. And the bad stuff we’ve picked up, that stuff you might hear Christians talk about and calling it sin, that bad stuff holds us back from really realising our potential to do good. Our potential to make a difference our potential to experience that satisfaction of using who we are and what we have to help other people.
So what’s the answer? Do we need a classroom and teachers and a curriculum on how to be the best person we can possibly be? You know, maybe. But probably in small doses. In a sense that’s what these programs are about. But you know that old Chinese proverb:
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.
Its exactly what Jesus does and He still does with his disciples.
Consider those first Twelve Disciples, they hung out with Him for about three and a half years. He taught them, He listened to them, He dealt with some of their wrong attitudes, He admonished them, He encouraged them, and above all He involved them. They got to watch Him to see how He responded and reacted, what He said, when He was kind and gentle, when He was tough as nails, when He protested, when He was silent.
They got to model themselves on Jesus by being involved in His ministry. Now here’s and idea, do you think what if instead of soaking it all up without thinking, what if instead of assimilating selfishness and loneliness and all that stuff from our culture, what if we deliberately followed Jesus around for a while and watched Him and listened to Him and let Him guild us, involve us, teach us, disciple us. Hey, that’d be cool!
Well my friend that is exactly what we’re going to be doing on the program over these next few weeks. See often we’ll take on little things that Jesus said and did and we’ll study it and we’ll learn from it and we’ll move on, but what if we took a look at His life and soaked it in on the basis there is simply no better role model on any planet in any galaxy in any universe than Jesus. What if we looked at some of the really familiar stories perhaps from a different angle, from a slightly different perspective as a student looking to his or her mentor? That’d be cool.
And you know the amazing thing that happens when we do that? Is that all of a sudden Jesus starts involving us in His work. He starts discipling us, He starts teaching us and speaking to us thought what’s going on in our lives. Because this Jesus isn’t dead He’s alive and anyone, anyone who would believe in Him, would follow after Him, to that person He sends His holy spirit to be our counsellor our advocate, our guide, our personal life coach.
Want to know how to live an extraordinary life? Well lets take a look at Jesus.
A Rocky Start In Life
Now there are plenty of people in this world who want to blame the past for where they are today. You may want to say that sounds a bit harsh. You may have had a hard start in life yourself. Perhaps you were born into a very humble household, or you had a difficult family environment, or maybe like my parents you had to select through a war or two. Perhaps you lost your parents when you were really young.
Someone who is listening today may have been abused. Another person may suffer from depression, yet another has gone through divorce. None of those things are pleasant. None of those things are things we’d wish on ourselves or on our worst enemy for that matter.
What is it in your life, what circumstance, what relationship, what start in life did some damage to you along the way, huh? You know in an instant that thing that I’m talking about. So let me ask you this, to what extent are you still using that as an excuse today not to be living an extraordinary life?
We Australian tend to be fairly blunt and direct, so I’m asking you a blunt and direct question … not to ruffle your feathers so much but to force each one of us to face facts. And the fact is, that the majority of people walking around on planet earth today has something in their past that’s ruining their present and robbing them of their future.
Now, lets turn back to Jesus. If you and I could model our lives on Him, if you and I could adopt Him as our life coach and mentor, if we could learn to live a life that looks a whole like Jesus, well man-o-man imagine what a life would that be?
So what are we doing talking about our past, and then about Jesus?
Because this whole thing about the past ruining our lives is one of the greatest scourges and epidemics of our society today. I mean, billions of people are being ruined because people let their past rob them of their present and there future.
What do we learn through Jesus on that? What was His past? What was His start in life? What did that look like and how did He handle it?
Well I guess that most people know the story, Jesus had a rather rocky start in this world. Mary fell pregnant out of wedlock … according to her the Holy spirit did it. Well, yeah right, who would believe that?! Then they had a long painful journey in her last weeks of pregnancy from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea, then to top it off the travel agent lost their hotel booking and they had to bunk outside in a shed with the sheep and the goats and the cows. Where the very first breath of air that the little baby Jesus took was filled with a stench of cow dung and sheep urine.
But there was something else in His past. Something much worst than that that could have left a horrible mental scar and marred him and hamstrung him for life. Have a listen to this Mathew chapter 2, starting at verse 13:
Now after they’d left an angel of the Lord appear to Joseph in a dream and said ‘Get up, take the child and his Mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.’ So Joseph got up and took the child and his Mother by night and went to Egypt and remained there until death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken about through the Lord through the profit, out of Egypt I have called my son.
When Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated! He sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under according to the time that he had learnt from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the profit Jeremiah that a voice was heard in Ramah. Wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children. She refused to be consoled because they are no more.
So there you have it. Infant genocide. Ethnic cleansing. All on account of Jesus. You don’t think he knew about that when He was growing up? You don’t’ think people blamed him? You don’t think this played on His mind and tore at His heart? You don’t think that this one thing could have totally derailed Him from living his extraordinary life?
See we don’t often think about this, but this was in Jesus’ past. This was on Jesus heart. This could have completely robbed him of His extraordinary life! But instead He declared, let us go onto the neighbouring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came to do. Jesus was totally focused on His mission, on what God had sent Him to do.
Now, I’m no physiologist, but I have friends who are. From them I know how complex and difficult it can be to let go of things in your past, things that are holding you back. Hey, and not just from the physiologist, I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to let go of the past. So here are my three essentials for letting go. For stopping the past from ruining your present and robbing you from a future.
First, decide to change. When I went through a major loss in my life, there was a time a mourning and grief, hey, that’s natural that’s normal. But there comes a point when you just have to decide that the status quo isn’t an option. It is time to move on. It is time to lay a hold of the extraordinary life that God has planned for you. Some people today need to hear that and they need to take that decision today.
The second essential is, believing what God says and He says that if anyone is in Chris they are a completely new creation, all of the old things have past away. Look, everything, and I mean everything is new. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17. In other words, your faith in Jesus according to God is meant to set you completely free from the past. Now that’s worth believing.
And thirdly, for those people who have hurt me, for those people who have caused the loss in the first place … can I tell you that was the single most important thing for me. I’ve prayed constantly and I still do, that the Lord will bless them and they too would find Jesus. Praying for your enemies, blessing those who curse you, is what Jesus taught us to do. And now, I’m starting to live out that extraordinary life that God planed for me. So how about you? Jesus didn’t let the past hold him back, and neither should we. Its time for you to live that extraordinary life that He planned for you.
A Life Of Submission
Well what’s the next thing that we discover by looking at Jesus about living an extraordinary life, well you may not like it but here it is. Jesus submitted to authority. Ah, yuck really!? You see, we Australians in particular are known around the world for our lack of respect for authority, its kind of in the DNA of our culture to flaunt it, to rebel against it, to poke fun at it.
A good friend of mine, in fact he is my mentor Graeme, he was an officer in the Australian Army during the Vietnam War and the lads the Aussies that were over there, they decided that tonight was going to be party night. No particular reason, they just decided they wanted to let their hair down and have a good night. So the Australian’s being Australians the soldiers decided to declare that day would be a celebration of Ho Chi Mien’s birthday.
It’s not that politically correct, but if you’re an Australian you’ll smile, you’ll get it. It taps right into this innate desire we have as we would say to ‘take the Mickey’ out of things. Ho Chi Mien was of course the head of the North Vietnamese independence movement who our lads and the Americans and the South Vietnamese were fighting against.
So they drove around to the different units, declaring that today was Ho Chi Mien’s birthday, but (and Graeme loves telling this story) when they arrived at the American’s unit and rather loudly and boisterously as we Australian’s do, announced Ho Chi Mien’s birthday party was happening tonight back at the Australian compound, well, there was a blank look on the America’s face, they just didn’t get the humour. What planet are these Australians on?
Why was there such a disconnect? Because by and large, American’s are a patriotic bunch. They believe in truth and justice and the American way sorry to borrow that from Superman. And they respect their leaders, even though they disagree with them which they can do and do do in their democracy but they tend to respect authority in a way that Australian’s don’t.
But whichever culture we come from, however much we do naturally respect authority deep down I mean really deep down most of us struggle with authority from time to time. You see authority is always fine until to disagree with a person in authority. I mean its fine having a boss at work, until you want to go in this direction when she wants to go in that direction and so we have our little silent protest. We resist, we pout, we undermine, we backstab and sometimes it breaks out into open warfare. Does that sound vaguely familiar?
Because our base position is “I’m right and she’s wrong”. I mean I’m always right, it’s my way or the highway. Now we have a problem.
We struggle, we complain, we become de-motivated, so what can Jesus’ life teach us about the importance authority in living out an extraordinary life? Well here’s a little vignette, a short segment of Jesus life on this Earth and it speaks into this very thing. Have a listen. Mathew chapter 3, beginning at verse 13:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him. John would have prevented him by saying, ‘Hang on I need to be baptised by you, and you’re coming to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so for now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ So John consented.
Now these days, we kind of understand what baptism is. It’s an outward sign of that we’ve died to self and that we’ve risen to Christ. It’s a public expression or our faith in Jesus. But back then the only people who were baptised where proselytes. These were people who weren’t born as Israelites – God’s chosen nation – but who subsequently put their faith in the God of Israel. It was a sign that even though they weren’t Jewish by birth, they had become one of God’s people through faith in Him and that they would, wait for this, they would obey the Law of Moses. That was the key. And the reason that John the Baptist had been out in the wilderness baptising Jews was a sign of repentance of turning away from their sins and going back to God, submitting to back under the Law of God. Get it?
So John was right to protest. “Hang on Jesus, what are you doing? You’re the Messiah, You’re Him! What am I doing baptising you for crying out loud? If anything, it should be the other way around.” And Jesus answered, “Let it be so for now. For it is proper in this way to fulfil all righteousness.” And Jesus had come to die for us, the perfect sacrifice, so that you and I could become the perfect righteousness of God. So that you and I when we put our faith in Jesus, have a complete perfect and forever right standing before God.
Why did Jesus submit to John’s baptism, the baptism of repentance, even though as the one man who had never ever, ever sinned He had nothing to repent from? This is why. Because this was the single most public, most visible thing that He could do to declare His submission to God through the Law of Moses. He wanted the world to know that He, although He was the son of God, although He had never once sinned, fully submitted, fully placed himself under the authority of the Word of God. It was the very first step He took in His public ministry. So how did His Dad in Heaven react? What was God’s response? Mathew chapter 3, beginning at verse 16:
And when Jesus had been baptised, just as He came up from the water, suddenly the Heavens were opened up to Him and He saw the spirit of God descending down upon him like a Dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
What an endorsement. I mean, imagine for a minute that you and I were to live for that? For God’s endorsement. To please Him, to delight him by putting our lives under His mighty hand. By heading His voice. By loving Him. By obeying him. Imagine if that’s the first thing that we did, the very first thing before stepping out into what God has planned for us?
Just imagine the impact our lives would have? Its not such a bad start to have an extraordinary life.