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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
TOPICS: I Have Decided

Well, welcome to church everybody. We're so glad you are here. And let me give a special welcome to those who are at church for the first time here at Highlands. We're so glad that you came along for the ride, and we invite you into the full journey of all that we do together as a church family. We're in a brand-new series today, part one of a series that I'm calling, "I Have Decided," and I'll tell you more about that, just a second, but I always like to take up just a minute. Look straight into the camera and make sure all the other locations know how much I love them. We are one church that meets in 26 locations, 24 in Alabama, two in Georgia. And, of course, we are bringing this into more than 22 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities, jails, work release programs. It's one of the honors of our life to be able to do that.

And, of course, there are people watching online or on-demand somewhere around the world. We're so glad you're with us as well. Grants Mill, do me a favor. Put your hands together, say the biggest hello to them. Would you do it, please? Thank you for that. And as you already heard from your campus pastors, this is day number one of 21 Days of Prayer. This is our 24th annual 21 Days of Prayer. This is something that we've been doing as a church since before the church began. If you're new to the church, we launched the church on February 4, 2001. And I was so unsure of how good we were, and I still am, by the way, that we needed to call on heaven, really, to let God help us.

And so we took the entire month of January to pray and fast before we stepped into the first service here at Church of the Highlands. And I guess you could say the rest is history. And I always like to remind people we're not this good. This is, this is what it looks like when God shows up. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? And I still am as dependent and desperate for the presence of God in my life, in this church, as I have ever been, and so I wouldn't dare ever miss one of these. This is very, very important to me personally and to our church. And so I call it kind of a tithe of our year. Before we get into our year, we're going to say, "God, we're putting you first together in every area". And I want to invite you into that. There's two parts of this. You see it here, prayer and fasting. We do that because prayer really connects us to God.

So prayer is this, this conversation with God that we're going to do on a regular basis every day for 21 days. In fact, we're going to have a prayer service every day for 21 days, and we're inviting you into that. We'll pray together every Sunday, of course, during the church service. But Monday through Friday at 6:00 a.m. Central time, we will have a prayer service. It's a one hour prayer service. We always end on time, because we know you need to get to school or to work. But it's a powerful time of what I call New Testament prayer where they raise their voices together in prayer. And I promise you this, that you won't be bored during that hour.

So, one of the things that I've learned to do is to make sure people are resourced and given plenty of tools to pray over and pray through while they're in that time together. And I'm gonna do that tomorrow. So tomorrow, on this stage it'll be covered with brand-new prayer guides. By the way, I spent the holidays this year rewriting and editing our prayer guides just to make it even better. We'll have prayer sheets of our campuses, and our leaders in the country, and just so you can have people's names to pray over, and then the pastoral care update card that you're filling out in this service, it is perforated on the bottom because we separate your personal information from your prayer requests, and every one of those cards will show up here on the stages, at every location tomorrow, and people are just going to come grab a handful and pray over it, and then they put them back, and then somebody else grabs them.

So, your personal prayer request will be prayed over multiple times a day, all week long. And so that's another reason why it's so important for you to write something down. There's a box that says personal, and if that's what you mark, it comes to me and the pastoral team, and we'll pray over those. But make sure you fill out a prayer request, something you're believing God for in 2024. And by the way, if you are unable to attend the prayer services, they're going to be streamed live, so every day, so you can watch. Maybe if you're getting kiddos off to school or whatever, you can put a tablet on or a computer on in the kitchen or whatever and just follow along with us. And then if you prefer to pray later in the day, it'll be on-demand for 24 hours. Okay?

So, you'll get that prayer service and just find an hour to spend time with God and watch what God does in your life. Prayer connects us to God, but also you need to know the reason why we fast, a lot of people have bad theology when it comes to fasting. People think that fasting is a way to suffer for Jesus or to cut some kind of penance. You know, we're gonna, we're just gonna prove to him by the pain we can endure how much we love him. He does not ask that of you. You can't find me a verse where God says, "I really just need, I need you to suffer for me to like you". That's not what's going on. We're just trying to get the world out of us.

Now, that's painful when we do it, right? Whenever we say, you know, I'm not going to watch any movies during 21 days, I'm not going to listen to any secular music. I'm going to take certain foods, and I'm going to fast them. I'm going to fast. Some of you may be doing more of a complete fast. That's not fun. What it does, though, is it tells the flesh side of you, the non-God part of you, it kills it, so to speak, right? So, we're this triune being of a body, soul, and a spirit, and we're made in the image of God. So we have a spirit, but if we can actually cause the flesh side of us just to be starved for a few weeks, you're going to notice that your spirit man grabs more, and then if you add the prayer to it, let me just say it this way. You'll be shocked at the clarity you're going to have in your prayer and in your life.

I just promise you that, that if you can mix this beautiful mix of prayer and fasting for a season, now, a lot of people don't know much about fasting. And before we get in the message, very, very quickly, I have four different types of fasts that I would encourage you to consider. The first is a complete fast; and this is only, honestly, for a few people. This is where you're really only drinking water or juices. You're fasting complete foods. And if you do that, it's very, very doable actually. But if you do that, make sure you get, you know, medical supervision and you use good, plain sense throughout that, right? And the Bible talks about it, but there's what's called a selective fast. And this is where you're selecting certain foods that you're just not going to have for 21 days.

One of the most common of that, you may have heard what's called a Daniel fast. And the Daniel fast is no meats, sweets and bread. Some people do fast, but they're just going to, you know, get off sugar and carbs, or some people just broccoli and cauliflower. Can I get an amen, somebody? Whatever your, whatever your fast is, that's between you and God. But maybe select some things you're not going to have during the fast. The third one, I call it a partial fast, and it's where you're eating everything you want to eat, but just not all day. You're fasting certain meals. Maybe you're going to fast breakfast or lunch, and a lot of people fast all day long and eat the evening meal.

And so that's another way to do that. I think I coined the phrase of this last one, and that is what I call a soul fast. And this one, these first three are kind of related more to food. The last one is really related more to just the things in the world that feed your soul. And for a lot of us, those aren't necessarily godly things like music, movies, media, social media. For some of you, you do well just for 21 days to get off of social media and get off of face bag, I mean Facebook, everybody. So just you're not going to allow all that junk into your life, right? You're not going to listen to the voices of the world. And your body's going to scream at you, right? When you go through this, it's going to scream at you that you want this. But I'm gonna tell you what happens is when that begins to die, and you're seeking God with all your heart, you're going to love what you experience on the other side.

So, that's what I'm inviting you into. You're going to love it. You'll see thousands of people here tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. seeking God. And you ought to come check it out. It's going to be awesome. Today is week number one of a series that I've entitled, "I Have Decided". And, of course, that comes from, if you've been a part of faith or church for a while, you may have heard the song, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus". It was very commonly sung in Billy Graham Crusades and other settings where it was calling people to a deeper level with God. You have to know that the person you're looking at right now standing in front of you, I'm a pastor, and I care about you very, very deeply. And one of my deepest passions and one of the most difficult things that I do as a pastor is take you on this journey of faith, but not just to more of what you already have, but to all that God has for you. God has more for you, and I'm believing God for that in your life, in every way. I want you to have all that God has for you.

And so one of the things I try to do is try to bring you to decision points, and I'm going to do that every week for four weeks. You're going to be challenged. It's going to include everybody in the room, to something that's more than what you're currently experiencing, or doing, or choosing in your faith journey. And I want to show you that. I'm going to show it to you by teaching you first, very slowly. I'm going to dissect this passage of Scripture to you out of Mark chapter 8, and then I'm going to give you four decision points that you can make today. Okay, "I Have Decided". Here's the first...we're in Mark chapter 8. And the Bible says that Jesus took his disciples to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.

Now, if you don't know this village, you kind of skim by that, don't think much about it. Caesarea Philippi was like, he took them to Vegas. It's like he took them to Bourbon Street or to, you know, downtown Los Angeles or New York. He was taking them to a place of pagan worship. I've actually been to Caesarea Philippi. It's in the northeastern part of Israel, near the Golan Heights. And there are actually pagan altars that are still there that you can go see. It's kind of eerie, honestly. When you go to Israel, there's all these very peaceful places, in my opinion, especially around the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus spent most of his life in ministry. But then he just said, "Guys, I want to show you something". He's basically saying, "Let me offer you all that the world has to offer you".

And he brought them, listen very carefully now. He brought them to a decision point, not in church. Anybody can say yes when you're here hearing, "Holy, holy, holy". And, you know, you've got the guys leading worship. He brought him to all that the world has to offer and said, "Okay, what do you think now? Do you want this"? And so on the way, this is what he asked them, and it's what I'm asking you. Who is Jesus to you? Who do they say that I am? And they answered, and they said, "People are saying you're actually John the Baptist," who was just a few weeks ago beheaded. They thought he was reincarnated. They had a very strong reincarnation mentality in those days, and they thought he was John the Baptist reincarnated. Others said, "No, no, no, you're Elijah," because the Old Testament said that Elijah was going to come again; and he does, by the way, in the book of Revelation.

So they thought, "No, you're reincarnated Elijah. And then others say that you're just one of the normal guys like all the other guys in the Old Testament. You're just one of those prophets. You teach well, that's it". And then he says what I'm saying to you: "What about you"? So, that's the question. I really want you to think about this, like what, what and who is Jesus to you, and is that where he needs to be? That's the simple question, and only you can answer that. I can just lead you to the decision. "Who do you say that I am"? And Peter said, "You're the Messiah".

Now, don't think too highly of him at this point, because he wasn't thinking of it in terms of religious, or faith or, you know, spiritual reason. He was thinking of it political and governmental reasons. They were governed by the Romans at the time, and they had been for a number of years, and they'd been longing for thousands of years for this Messiah, who they always believed to be an earthly king, not a heavenly one. So, they're all excited now, like, "We're going to be in charge of our own government for the first time in our lives". And Jesus warned him not to tell anyone. And then he began to teach them, the crowd, that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, and he's going to be killed on a cross. And Peter's going, "No, that's not the plan". He spoke, plainly to them, the Bible says.

And I love this. You guys know I have a sense of humor, and I don't think you guys see enough of it in Scripture, but this is hilarious to me, because Peter took God aside and began to rebuke him. Come on, everybody. What kind of guts does it take for, you know, he knows who he is and he's rebuking him. I would like to point out that he began to, like, he didn't get very far anyway. So, all right. But Jesus turned and looked at the disciples and rebuked Peter, and he said this, and this is very important. This is going to be kind of touch the toes for people who say, you know, well, I don't preach it hard enough. Well, you're gonna get it hard today. Okay? People say, "Man, make it, bring us to the deep end of the pool". Get your life raft on, everybody. Okay, here we go. Okay, because here it is. He rebuked a disciple and said, "No, you've got demonic things in you. Get behind me, Satan. You listening to a demonic mindset right now".

And what is a demonic mindset? Notice with me how Jesus defines a demonic mindset: simply that "You don't have in mind the concerns of God". You're thinking about you. Let me say it a different way. You think Christianity is, "I get to live my life, and I want God to bless it, and then give me a place in heaven when all this is over. But I have every intention on living my way, and so I want you to bless me and I need you to be there for me". And Jesus said, "No, that's not what it really is. I'm not there for you. You're there for me. You need to have the concerns of God". It gets deeper. Watch this. Then he called the crowd to him along with his other disciples, and he said, "Okay, you guys obviously don't get this, so let me," as we Cajuns say, 'splain it to you better. All right, here we go. And that is, whoever wants to be a disciple, if you're going to call yourself a Christian or a follower of Christ, and notice I didn't finish the sentence.

Now, if you've been in church, you know what it says next. But many of you don't. You would think it would be things like lift your hand. Fill out that card. Join a church, have a Bible, read it once, like you would think it'd be those. It's much deeper than that, and this is what I'm trying to make sure you understand, since the one that we say we serve says this, that if you're going to be a disciple, you deny yourself. "You're not even asking me to bless you. You're saying, 'God, what do you have for me?' And then you take up the cross," to which in today's understanding of that, that's even like, "Okay, I like that". Because in our culture, we love the cross. The cross is, we adorn things with the cross. Crosses are on our buildings. We love the cross. Cross is jewelry in our world today. No, no, no, no. The cross was the place of execution. It would be like wearing an electric chair around your neck, everybody.

He was saying, "No, no, I'm talking about're going to, I'm going to take you to the place where everything dies and is executed, and follow me". Then he says this: "For whoever wants to save his life". So if you're saying, "That's not for me, I have plans, I have dreams, I have an agenda. Like, that's too much God for me". You're gonna lose it anyway. He's saying you don't understand that if you decide to reject this, you're losing it and you're gonna still die. Last time I checked, the odds of dying are still one out of one, everybody. Doctors die, nutritionists die. Aren't you glad you came to church today, everybody? All the encouragement I'm giving you right now. Even those people who eat organic food gonna die just with a little nasty taste in their mouth.

Come on, somebody. Okay. You gonna die. Right? He said, "You're going to that place anyway. You're not thinking more big picture, but whoever loses their life", says, "My aim is not going to be how much of earth can I suck out of earth? No, no, I'm gonna live for you and for the gospel". He says, "What you're gonna realize, you find life". And you won't know. You have no idea how much I agonized, over this. You won't know unless you try it. Like, you'll never know what's on the other side of it unless you jump in that other side and see that you actually save your life, save your marriage, save your joy, save your happiness, save your dream. Like, the dreams that God has for you is better than yours. You're not going to hate it. You're going to love it.

And then he says this, he says, "What good it would be anyway, if you, all your dreams actually happen, if you got all the cars you wanted, all the houses you wanted, like everything you ever thought earth was supposed to supply for you, that you gained the whole world, but then you got to heaven and you had nothing invested on that other side"? And we think, every one of us think that. You've thought that before, by the way, if you've ever been to a funeral, and you have. Because you thought, "Oh, my goodness, it ended too short". And we all take ourselves to that place, "Okay, well, man, I sure hope they had things right". Right? It's like it didn't, and none of us are saying, "Oh, no, his bank account". Or, "Oh, no". None of us are thinking that. You're just hoping, right? Because that's what Jesus is saying here.

And then he says, "Okay, and if you are there without anything invested on the other side, what would you give in exchange for your soul"? And the answer would be, I'd give everything. Once I'm there, it's like, oops. I would give everything. And then he ends it this way. "And if you're ashamed of me and my words", like, if this bugs you, he calls you adulteress. You know what an adulteress is? Somebody who's married but loves something else. Sorry. Right? He's saying, "You say you're in this family, but you're actually loving something else". And he calls it a wicked, sinful generation. And the Son of Man, if that happens, he'll be ashamed of you when he comes in his Father's glory with his holy angels. And everything about me, he does not want this to happen to you. I don't want you to get there and get to that place with your walk with God, realize, "You know what? There was more that I could have and should have experienced with God".

So what I do is I invite you in the journey; and what I love about the journey is, is that everybody in this room, literally everybody in this room is at a different place. There are some people in this room listening to me right now, you're not even a Christian. And there are others of you who have been knowing the Lord for years, decades. You know the Scriptures, like you're really, you have a solid walk with God. And the challenge that I have is to take all of you still on a journey, like help every one of you take the next step. So, the only way I know how to do it is to show you the full spiritual continuum and show you how Jesus had the same continuum of people that he dealt with and how he challenged them.

Okay, so I'm gonna give you four, I don't know if levels is the right word, but I'm going to use it, okay? Of places and all I want you to do is find yourself and just simply ask yourself if you're willing to get out of that level into the next one. That's it. Okay? So, here's the first one and that is the crowd. The crowd. That's just crowd and the crowd, the message to the crowd is, "Hey, just come see. We're not telling you to give. We're not telling you to serve. We're not telling you, you don't have to buy into all this. You don't even have to believe the Bible or even believe what I'm saying is true. Just come".

You know, the psalmist said it this way, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good". Just come and see. And so Jesus had crowds. You know that, if you ever read the gospels. He had piles of people who followed him. By the way, they always followed him for the things that he could give them. Feed me. I mean, we're starving, loaves and fish. I mean, just like happy meals for everybody, right? So, and then he just, he healed people before they even became followers. He just ran, he found random wicked people and healed them. And so he had a crowd of people. And then the crowd, he was just saying, "I'm not even telling you, you have to choose anything now. Just come and see". And we do that. If you're a part of Highlands, you know that we create certain environments that are just crowd environments. We're not asking anything of you.

If you came to one of our Christmas services, we had over 113,000 people come to Christmas services. That's not how many will be here today. Why? Why? Because we don't have any snow or hot chocolate today. Come on, somebody, right? But the snow and hot chocolate got some people in the room for the moment for me just to stand in front of them and see if they don't want to take another step toward God. We intentionally create crowd moments. But check it out. A crowd does not make a church. And the crowd does not even make a follower of Jesus. But you're still welcomed. Twenty-four years ago, we started the church. We had this one thing in mind, and that is I didn't want to create a church for church people. I want it completely far from God people sitting in the chairs, not feeling any pressure. You don't have to raise your hands. You don't have to clap. You don't have to give. You don't have to serve.

I'll never forget the first year of the church. We had this lady. It's the funniest story. I was out in the foyer area of Mountain Brook High School, where we started the church. And there was this new family. Back then, if there was a new family there, you knew it because we were small, and this new family that I got to know, but every time I saw the wife of this new family, every time she saw me, she turned and went the other way. And like I thought it was, I just thought it was, you know, just, I just thought it was just a coincidence. I didn't know it was intentional, but after about the fifth time, like, we made eye contact, we. Were locked in, and I smiled, and she turned and went the other way. So, I chased her down.

Come on, everybody. Right? And I said, "You're avoiding me. Why"? She goes, "Okay, you got me. You got me". She goes, "I'll be in the nursery next Sunday, serving". Like, what? She goes, "I know. I know how the work goes. If you have kids, you have to serve in nursery, and I'll be there". She goes, "But, Chris, you have to understand. Well, we were in a church. It was so hard. It sucked the life out of us. I finally found a place that's putting life into me and I don't have, I just needed to sit and just kind of take it all in. I didn't need to serve or do anything right now". And she goes, "And I just", and I said, "Listen, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. So, first of all, I don't want you in our nurseries". Come on everybody, right? "It doesn't even look like you like kids".

So, anyway. And I said, I said, "You are more than welcome to do nothing. Just enjoy, sit back, get refreshed, and when you're ready to take that next step, take it". And she just looked at me like, "I've never heard that before". I'm saying that to every one of you. I'm putting no pressure on you toward any of these. I'm just making sure you know what the next steps are. And I know, if you're like me, you want to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. That's what we want for you. We don't want a little. I want it all for you. And I've just gotta make sure you know this, and some of you are at that place right now, all right. But there's a second level. And if you're here, you're welcome to be here, okay. But the second is the family, like a family that, you know, anybody's ever gotten married, and better yet has kids, it's got benefits, but it's got responsibilities. I'm in a family now, okay?

Like if you're a guest over my house for dinner, you don't cook. You knock on the door, we serve you dinner, you go home, we stay there and wash the dishes after you leave. Why? Because we're in the family. You were a guest. That's that first group. You're a guest. But the family is a place of responsibility, but it has perks, as well. You get the benefit of family and the joy of family, and I'm inviting you into that in two levels, by the way. The first one isn't Church of the Highlands, by the way. The most important family is the family of God. Like, you've gotta realize, when you become a Christian, you're not in an organization. And it's not even just between you and God.

When you become a Christian, you're a child of God. To all who believed in Jesus and accepted him as their Lord, he gave the right to be in the family. And by the way, just good news, I just want to pause here and give you some good news. In December alone, through Giving Hope and our Christmas services, 3,328 people jumped into the family of God, made decisions to follow Jesus. Come on, put your hands together and really celebrate that. And there's some of you that need to become, you need to become a family member, not to Highlands, to God that you just say, "I want him to be my Father, and I want to be in the family, and I want all the responsibilities and the perks. Like, I'm gonna be in the family of God". And I'm inviting you into that.

And by the way, if you are one of the 3,328, or maybe even some that will make that decision today to follow Jesus with all your heart, the first thing he asks you to do is to be water baptized. It is still, it is beyond me. The number of people, we know exactly how many people make decisions for Jesus, and we know exactly how many people follow him in water baptism, and it's a command. And he just says, "I want you to make the private decision, and I allow you to make that decision privately". You've heard me say it Sunday after Sunday, "Every head bowed, eyes closed. This is between you and God. We're not gonna have you stand up or come down to the front".

What am I doing? I'm letting you make a decision between him and you alone. But the Bible says that I want you to acknowledge this decision to the rest of the world. I want you to publicly declare your faith and what he chose. I didn't choose it, is water baptism. And so if you've never been biblically baptized, what I mean by that is after you've made the decision to follow Jesus. And I'm not undoing any of your childhood experiences, because those are beautiful, but they're dedicatory. If you were christened or dedicated as a child, that was a dedication. That's a decision your parents made, not you. This is a decision you make. "I'm going to show that I love Jesus," and you can be water baptized today at every campus after every service.

Don't think about, "Well, I have lunch plans". Change them. We're fasting anyway. Change them, everybody. Just call whoever, say, "I'm gonna be about 30 minutes late," and we have everything for you. If you didn't, if you didn't come prepared, we prepared for you. We have dark shorts and dark shirts for obvious reasons. And underwear and hair products and hair care and all the...we have a photographer who will capture the moment for you. It's a beautiful thing, and you need to make that decision, simply because God asked you to. But secondly, I'm inviting you to the family of God. I don't think I say this enough. We're a family of faith. You're my family. And if you're not a part of this family, this is not the only one. There's a bunch of good ones in town, but I want you to find a family, and I want you to be faithful to your family.

Support your family. Give and serve and be a part of the family. And we do that on the first Sunday of every month, and you're on that Sunday, 6 o'clock every location. There's a one hour class that we call our membership class. It's the first step of the Growth Track. And you can jump into the family, and I'll tell you exactly at the end of the class what it means to be a family here. And then you just decide. And if it's not here, that's fine, but find a place to be a part of the family. And I'm going to say this very plainly because I have it in my heart. And don't take it the wrong way, but you guys need to be more consistent in your attendance, okay?

My parents, one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me is they never missed church, ever, ever. We didn't play sports. We didn't go do things. We certainly didn't wake up thinking, "You want to go today"? No, we were going. Why? Because you need to pass your faith to the next generation. This next generation is in trouble, and this is our responsibility. And by the way, I got horribly sick after Christmas services, not COVID, not flu. I tested negative for everything, but just sick, and just because I shook all y'all's hands. Anyway, so all right. But I spent a lot of time on the couch and just slept a boat load. And I watched, I end up watching some documentaries. I love learning, so I watched this documentary. Y'all go check it out on the Blue Zones.

And there's these five or six areas in the world where people live over 100 years old and live the highest quality of life. And, of course, they talk about their diet. But in every Blue Zone, every one, one of the things that Blue Zone people do is they go to church every Sunday, and this is just, this is the documentary. I didn't come up with this. This is a secular documentary. They said you can add 8 to 14 years of your life if you go to church every Sunday. And now if y'all want to think I wrote that down and said, "I want you in church". Because it works. It's what you need. So don't let your emotions drive whether you go. Just go. If you're available, go, go. And if you're watching online and you're sick, stay home and get better. But if you're at home, out of convenience, come back in the room. We need you in the room. Say amen, everybody, come on, yeah.

So, 6 o'clock today. The third, though, it's a little bit deeper, and it's what Jesus calls a disciple. And a disciple, here's the message: don't just join the family. I want every year that you're here, you're a little bit more mature, a little bit better at making decisions, a little bit better in the Word of God, a little bit better in prayer. Like, less habits that are destructive. Like, not perfect, but better. The question I'm asking you today, "Are you growing"? Are you growing? You need to know that it's the intent of Christianity, not just for you to get to heaven one day. The intent of Christianity is that you become mature.

The Bible describes it this way, that it's actually my job. God gave the church five offices: the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. I operate in the pastor and teacher office. And their responsibility is to equip you to do his work and to build up the church, and this will continue until there's such unity in our faith and the knowledge of God's Son, that you can be what the Bible calls mature, measuring, God's measuring our depth, to the full and complete standard of Christ, so we're no longer immature. One translation says, "doing this one day and doing that the next. You're consistent, inconsistent, sinning, not sinning. Just wish washy. Instead. We speak the truth in love, growing". I want that for you so bad. "To the head, the body of Christ, he makes the whole body fit together perfectly, as each part is now getting involved in their work, it helps the other parts grow. The body is healthy and growing full".

Look, I want all that for you. And so how do we do that? We lead you to spiritual disciplines. That's why I want you here at 6 o'clock in the morning. Not because it's fun. It's not. I'm an early riser, but I don't like going anywhere early. I don't like having to take a shower at 5 o'clock in the morning, but I'm going to do it for 21 days. Because I've gotten in some bad habits, just like you over the holidays and it's time for that immaturity in Chris to stop. Thank God for this fast. Thank God for this time when we get our lives back in order. Can I get a better amen out there, everybody? It's just time to grow up a little bit, yeah. That's why we're going to go to the marriage conference. That's why we're going to get in Small Groups. That's why we're going to lead groups, right? Because it's time to grow. Grow, everybody, grow.

Now, if you're not even in the family, that's not your decision yet. If you're in the crowd, just get in the family. If you're in the family, let's grow. If you're already growing, it's time for you to minister. Come and serve. There's about half the people in this church who are on what we call the Dream team. And these are people who take their faith so seriously that they come to two services every Sunday, most of them. They worship one, serve one. They park your cars, take care of your babies, play guitars, run cameras, shake hands, because they understand, "This ain't all. This thing doesn't exist for me. I'm not a spectator. I'm a player". I'm inviting you, get out of the stands, get in the game, and watch how much fun it is to play the game. And I'll close with this verse. Jesus said, "It's to my Father's glory that you are a Christian who bears much fruit". And he says, "And this is who the true Christians are".

I didn't write it. He did. Now, what makes all four of those steps possible? You're not going to like it, okay. I'm just going to tell you, and I'm gonna close with this one little phrase, and we're done. But it is required, and it is painful, but you will love what's on the other side of it, I promise you. And that is the real message of the Bible is, "Come and die, your habits, your dreams, your agenda, your will, your thinking". Because I've decided I'm not living for me. I'm gonna live for Jesus, and I'm gonna live for his kingdom come, his will to be done. And if I do that, if I do that, I'm going to find the best part of life. And that's my guarantee to you: as scary as that seems, you're going to love what you get on the other side. Let's bow for prayer.

So, Father, I brought them to the place of decision. Now it's all up to you and them to make that decision. Lord, I ask you right now in this, in the beauty of this holy moment, God, that there are decisions being made to be in the family, to grow, to serve. If we're going to take our faith seriously, it's not a Sunday box we check. I've decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

Heads bowed, eyes closed. This is that private moment, just you and God. I'm not going to have you stand up or come to the front. But if you're here today, and you're saying, "It's time, I need to go all in with God", maybe you're a Christian, but you know you've not really taken your faith seriously, and you're ready to be a follower of Jesus. Maybe you're here today, and you're not even a Christian, but you're ready to jump into the family of God. Then I want to invite you today. Say, "How do I do it"? The Bible says just confess with your mouth that he's your Lord and believe that in your heart you'll be saved.

And I want to lead you through that confession right there where you're seated. If you want to be a part of this confession, you want to pray this prayer to heaven, and let him know you're making this decision of faith today. Make up your mind, because I am going to have you raise your hand. I want you to let heaven know, because I want you to be unashamed. I want you to take it serious in this decision you're making today to follow Jesus with all your heart. I'm gonna count to three. On three, lift your hand. One, two, three. Lift your hand. "I'm making that decision today". Lift it high. Yes, literally dozens of hands all over this room. Slip those hands down. Pray this prayer right there. Just whisper it, say:

Jesus. You gave me your life. Today I give you mine, everything. I come and die. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. Come into my life and be the Lord of my life, because I believe you are the Son of God, who was raised from the dead, and today I put my faith in you, and I'm going to live my life for you. In your name I pray, amen.

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