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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - Rule of Life

Mark Batterson - Rule of Life

Mark Batterson - Rule of Life
TOPICS: Do It For A Day

I am gonna miss that trailer. In the fall of 1516, a 32 year old theology professor named Martin Luther was teaching through the book of Romans at the university of Wittenberg. Luther got to Romans 1:17, "The just shall live by faith". And he had a revelation that would revolutionize his life. sola fide by faith alone. That simple truth proved to be a tipping point in his life and a turning point in history. Fast forward one year, Pope Leo, the 10th was raising funds to build St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and he was selling indulgences to do it. Simply put salvation was for sale. One of his fundraisers, a friar named Johann Tetzel, coined a catchy little jingle. As soon as the coin in the coffer rings a soul from Purgatory springs. That's about as far as you can get from the Gospel. We are saved by grace through faith.

Now last week, we talked about the sin of silence. It's not saying what needs to be said. We talked about the Senate tolerance. It's not doing what needs to be done at some point enough is enough. Your conscience demands that you say something that you do. So, and that's what Martin Luther did on October 31st, 1517. He picked a fight with the Pope. Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the doors of the Castle Church. And that one act of courage had a domino chain reaction. It catalyzed what we call the Protestant reformation. And as they say, the rest is history. Well, this weekend we celebrate reformation day and I wanna make it personal and communal. Two observations upfront, one, every generation needs a reformation.

Now there's an Anglican priest, Mark Dyer, who said that every 500 years, the church needs a giant rummage sale. And I wonder if this is one of those moments. I've been saying this since the pandemic broke out. I have a sense in my spirit that this is a Hebrews 12:27 moments, "Every thing that can be shaken will be shaken so that the unshakeable things remain". God is shaking us up. He's shaking false securities and false identities. He's shaking, false narratives and false assumptions. He is shaking false idols and false ideologies. One of my acute concerns, especially in a place like DC, is that we identify more with our political ideology than our biblical theology. I'm gonna shoot straight. If you filter your biblical theology through your political ideology, it's called Idolatry.

I think God is shaking us up. I think God is waking us up. I think God is raising up a remnant. That'll reimagine the church that will reprioritize prayer. That will exercise its spiritual authority with humility. I think we're gonna see signs and wonders. We're gonna see a supernatural demonstration of God's love and power. We're gonna see an activation of the gifts of the spirit in an unprecedented way. Well, why do I think that, one, we need it. And two he's the same yesterday, today and forever. A reformation is not born of new discoveries, I think those are usually called Colts. A reformation is born of a rediscovery of old trues. The rallying cry of the reformation was five Solas and it just seems like maybe this is a good weekend to remind ourselves sola fide by faith alone. Sola gratia by grace alone. Sola scriptura by scripture alone. Solus Christus by Christ alone. Soli Deo Gloria to the glory of God alone.

Fun fact, okay. Johann Sebastian Bach compose 256 cantatas. He would write JJ at the top of all of those musical scores. And it stood for Jesu juva, Jesus help me. He had this acute awareness that he needed God's anointing as he composed that music. And when he got to the end of the composition, he would scribble on that musical score, SDG, Soli Deo gloria. I love that. If I ever got a tattoo that might be a contender. But if I do that at my age, it's gonna be a midlife crisis. Every generation needs a reformation. Two reformation starts with personal revival. For Luther it was Romans 1:17, that this passage of Paul said, Luther became to meet the gate of heaven. It's almost like heaven invaded earth in this moment and faith filled his heart.

Well, I am excited to announce, I feel like we should drum roll. If you're online in the house, can I get a little drum roll? I'm excited to announce our first ever revival at National Community Church, January 20 through 23. It is gonna set the tone and set the table for 2022. And it is not too early to mark your calendars. And, I wanna make sure our extended family we're gonna live stream those gatherings. But man, that might be an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the nation's capital and hang out with us for a few days. Either way, super excited, but please hear me. Revival, doesn't start in three months. Revival starts right here right now. I'm excited.

Well, welcome to National Community Church. We're in a series called "Do It For A Day," and pretty fun book releases Tuesday, November 2nd. But we have some black market copies. I feel like this is, this feels like "Kramer," selling shower heads out of his trunk a little bit. And, but we got a special dispensation. So you know the drill. Laura and I love our spiritual family. This is a gift from us to you. And so all of our campuses make sure you get a copy on the way out and believe that the book is gonna be a blessing. The challenge on week one was pick a habit, any habit, and then you have to make it measurable, meaningful, and maintainable. The challenge week two was pick a fight and you have to do it scared, do it difficult, do it different and do it now.

The challenge week three is to create a rule of life. And I started chuckling at myself as I hear myself say it, 'cause this is not gonna happen in 30 minutes. I think maybe the book gives us a running start, by the way each day's reading is only about 10 minutes, but there's a reflection question every single day. How do I make it a habit? And that's where the ball is in your court. That's where you begin to create a rule of life. And I'll define what that means, and we'll talk a lot more about it. But let me give you a sneak peek at mine. Lots of different ways to do this, but here's my take. Four quadrants, quadrant one is core beliefs. Quadrant two is core values. Quadrant three is life goals. Quadrant four is daily habits. And I'm gonna break that down in a few minutes and we'll talk through how you do that, but I wanna frame this biblically and historically.

So why don't you grab a Bible turn over to Deuteronomy 6 and we will get there in just a few moments. In the sixth century, Benedict of Nursia was studying in Rome and he decided to quit school and live in a cave for three years as a hermit. After getting off the grid for three years, St. Benedict would reengage by founding 12 spiritual communities called Monasteries. And these Monasteries had a rule of life composed in 529 AD, the rule of St. Benedict consists of 73 virtues and practices that double as directors for daily life. Not just for the record. My personal favorite is rule 53. If you're fasting and someone comes to visit you, you can forego the fast because hospitality is the higher virtue. I'm gonna let you know when I'm fasting and then you come on over. Do not judge me. I'm a pastor, not a monk.

The Latin word for rule is regular refers to a trellis on which plants grow. A trellis is employed by a gardener for two primary reasons. One, it keeps the limbs off the ground to protect them from predators. And two, it maximizes fruitfulness by keeping them straight. A rule of life is like a trellis. It consists of core beliefs, core values and then I throw in life goals and daily habits. And we'll break that down in a minute. But what I wanna do is give you what I think is maybe the most ancient example of a rule of life.

Deuteronomy 6:4, "Here, O, Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one". A Jewish person would begin the day and end the day by reciting this prayer. It was their first thought in the morning. It was their last thought at night. It was a reaffirmation of God's rule in their life and a declaration of submission to his sovereignty. Now it's interesting, many scholars believe that the Lord's Prayer is that the New Testament equivalent of the Old Covenant Shema. It's a reaffirmation of God's rule. It's a realignment with God's will, God's way. "Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. Forgive us, our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil for thine is the power and the glory forever". Not a bad way to start and end the day.

Verse five, "You must love the Lord, your God with all of your heart, all your soul and all your strength". This should sound familiar. It's the cornerstone of Jesus teaching. You could even call it a core belief. Jesus takes 613 Old Testament rules and regulations reduces them to one common denominator that we call the great commandment. "Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself". Verse six, "You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today". If you lived in Judea in the first century, your formal education would begin at the age of six in a synagogue school called Bet Safer. It was an oral culture.

So children check this out would memorize the Torah. First five books of the Old Testament by the age of 10 first lesson on their first day, you'll read about it day four and do it for a day with Psalm 119:103, "How sweet are your words to my taste sweeter than honey to my mouth". The rabbi would cover that student's slate with honey. Students were instructed to lick the honey while reciting this song. Isn't that fascinating. In the science of habit formation I think you would call that a reinforcing stimuli. What the rabbi is doing is creating a positive association with God's Word, even creating a craving for God's Word. Verse seven, "Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up". Repetition is the mother of all learning. I love what's happening right here.

Now I don't have a whole lot of time to break this down, but you'll find an equation that we kind of work through in the book. And it's this deliberate practice plus desirable difficulty equals durable learning. I'll just take two minutes to talk about this. You know most of us educated way beyond the level of our obedience already, don't need to no more need to do more with what we know. In the Hebrew, there is no distinction between knowing and doing. Knowing is doing, doing is knowing these are the same thing. The goal of these commands is to get them from your head to your heart, but that's the longest 12 inches in the world, right? And then once you get them into your heart, you gotta get them into your gut. And that's when they become these core beliefs quadrant one and these core values quadrant two.

Now these are the compass needles that guide us. So the end goal is durable learning. Two keys, deliberate practice, desirable difficulty. If something is too easy, we get bored. If something's too hard, we get frustrated. There is something called JMD just manageable difficulty. The key is to have some stretch goals that push us past previous limits, and they get us out of our comfort zone. And that brings us to deliberate practice and it's three-dimensional. And if you don't get all of this, you're gonna read it we're all good. One it's well-defined goals. It gives you something measurable. It creates a feedback loop. Two you have to reverse engineer those life goals, turn them into daily habits. And the third dimension of deliberate practice is it has to be consistent and there has to be a measure of intensity. I kinda geek out on this stuff.

You know, it was Malcolm Gladwell who popularized the 10,000 hour rule, but it's really Anders Ericsson, who kinda came up with the idea. And this is a key caveat. He said that if you, it has to be near maximal effort. If you aren't putting 70% effort into what you're doing, it's actually counterproductive because you aren't disrupting the status quo. You're actually maintaining the status quo. And that's when we cultivate bad habits while trying to build good habits. All right, are you tracking with me? What does any of that have to do with Deuteronomy 6? It just seems to me like this is deliberate practice. Everything about it is so intentional. We said at week one, spiritual formation is habit formation. And so notice the way that these commands are woven into the rhythms and routines of daily life. Couples them with our daily rituals. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. In other words, you have to leverage those rhythms and routines.

Let me talk about two concepts in habit formation. The first is called a commitment device and you can't just set goals. You have to schedule goals, you have to give timelines and deadlines. And so I'll just give you a personal example. I felt called to write when I was 22 years old. I didn't write a book until I was 35. 13 years feeling called to do something. And every year that birthday like anticipated at less and less, because it was an annual reminder of a dream deferred. And so finally I employed a commitment device. I am not turning 35 without a book to show for it. I gave myself 40 days. Is it the best book I've ever written? No, but that commitment device kind of forced me into a corner.

I don't want this to sound too complicated because the most common commitment device is called an alarm clock. And we tend to think of it as something that we just set to determine when we get up, which is, I would argue one of the most important decisions you make every day. And by the way, coupled with that is then when you get to sleep the night before, right? You can't cheat the system. But let me just say this. The habit that Laura and I have cultivated during this series is kneeling together at night and praying. Can I let you in on a little secret? There are a few nights we forgot, but Laura's alarm saved us. That's what I'm talking about. That little commitment of okay, we almost forgot let's hit our knees and let's pray.

All right, the second concept is called implementation intention. And this is determining when and where you're gonna do it. You gotta know when, and you gotta know where without that implementation intention is gonna be really, really hard. And so I love the way that whether you lie down, get up, go out, come home. There is a rhythm and a routine to these commands. Verse eight, "Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses". And we'll kinda we'll end here, but I'll make one last observation. We have a tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. We also have a tendency to major in minors and minor and major. Am I on the right room? Like these are struggles that we just get off kilter. But what I love is that God is giving them visual reminders.

Like, come on, you're gonna have to put it right on your hand. You're gonna need a, I don't know, a live strong brace or whatever. You're gonna need something that's a reminder, right? Oh, put it on your forehead. Yeah, then everybody will see it and remind you of it. Oh, and then you need to put it on the doorframes. For what it's worth these verses were put into little boxes that were called Mezuzah. And they were put on the right side of the doorframe at shoulder length. In other words, they weren't just noticeable. They were unavoidable. Every single time they walked in and out, they were reminded of their rule of life. To Mezuzah, our universe says Leonard Suite is to create sacred space and sacred rituals where ever we go.

Well, let me have a little bit of fun with this and make it practical. I got an email last week from Mike Senate. Mike is part of our extended family NCC online part of upper Zoom. And can I just say, we love our extended family, little virtual hug. So glad any form or fashion that you connect with us we're just grateful that we're in it together. At the beginning of the year, Mike and his wife Cray were expecting their second child and they decided to create a vision board. And I'll let Mike put this in his own words. He said after reading, "When the day my wife Cray and I decided to make a vision board and describe all our goals and desires for 2021, that vision board hangs in our home gym".

And Mike gave me permission to share this. And here's why I'm doing this 'cause I love hacking other people's habits. I love seeing how other people put these things into practice. And so that vision board pretty cool you'll see a bunch of core values. Playing it safe is risky. Sounds familiar, right? Long obedience in the same direction. Your brave is someone else's breakthrough. I wanna be famous in my home. Do you see that one kind of tucked down there. It's all of these core values that keep them grounded, that remind them of who they are. And then there's some goals. Now, a couple of them you'll actually see a number, kind of a financial goal there at the bottom. What I love about this is it's a giving goal. And so Mike says this, "A tied goal takes a lot of pressure off of us. A tied goal means you aren't focused on promotions". It's not about getting it's about giving. God whatever you're gonna bless me with.

I wanna make sure I'm a conduit of blessing to other people. And then the big one and just a shout out to Mike, 'cause this is, I mean, pretty big deal. His, goal for last year was to run an Iron Man. Last time I checked, that's a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon and wanted to do it before the age of 40. And I'm thinking to myself the year that you're having your second child, but there it is circled right here. How fun October 2nd, finished that Iron Man. I would argue that if you don't write this down, you'll probably quit on it at some point, I would argue that if you don't write down these values, at some point out of sight, out of mind. I would argue that if you don't write these things down, at some point you experience mission drift and you just kinda get sucked into the challenges that you're facing. I was so inspired by this. I thought I just need to share it 'cause I think we need more than one example.

Now let me double back to my rule of life and I'll show this to you and we'll keep it short and sweet and then we'll be done here in just a couple of moments. Quadrant one is core beliefs. And maybe I'll take a moment here. Bible's a big book. Yeah. And so you've got to figure out what are these, what are your life versus for example? I have this theory that over time, your favorite scripture becomes a script of your life. And so in the book of Acts, Paul finds himself in a perfect storm for 14 days tossed and turned by the wind and the waves. Acts 27:29 says, "Fearing that we might be dashed against the rocks. They drop four acres from the stern and prayed for daylight".

Have you ever been there perfect storm in your life and all you can do is just drop some anchors and pray for daylight. So you'll see, you can put that back up. I've got four anchors that these are verses. I call them fall back positions to when the compass needle is spinning I go back to what I know that I know that I know. And for me, these are four verses that keep me anchored. Yeah, maybe we'll talk about our friend Rupertus Meldenius another week. But one of my favorites I'll keep you guessing.

Quadrant two core values. I don't have time to delineate the core values, but let me say this, I think it starts with defining success for yourself. If you don't define success for yourself, what happens is you default to a cultural definition and you probably get sucked into pursuing a life that might not add up at the end of the day to something that glorifies God. And so I have a couple of definitions. I mean, for starters, I think success is stewardship full-stop. It's doing the best you can with what you have, where you are. It's taking your time, your talent, your treasure. Say, God, I give it back to you. Whatever I do, I wanna glorify you with it. But I do wanna touch on one of these 'cause it's so personal to me. For me, success is when those who know me best respect me most. At the end of the day, I wanna be famous in my home and the best measure of success it's probably my wife and my kids. I love to be better in private than I am in public. Wouldn't you, wouldn't you, but at the very least be the same person. Someone who's just fully devoted to Jesus in public, private everything in between.

Quadrant three is life goals and I'll just say, Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for". And so I think that goal setting can be a function of faith if you actually pray about it. And so we'll, leave that right there. I will say you won't accomplish 100% of the goals that you don't set. And then finally is daily habits. And this is where we'll kind of pull into the parking spot and sort of wrap this series up. You have to take those goals and you have to reverse engineer them into daily habits. Show me your habits and I'll show you your future. You are what you repeatedly do. Destiny is not a mystery. Destiny is daily habits. You have to make and break the habits that make or break you.

So this is an interesting place to end, but one final challenge. It was almost a decade ago that I was speaking at a conference. One of the other speakers was J.I. Packer. J.I. Packer was in his 80s. He's an eminent theologian wrote knowing God. I mean, just he did the morning devotions. So I got up early, went to those and he said something I'll never forget. He said, "Every Christian worth their soul reads the Bible from cover to cover every year". I felt tremendous conviction because I was a pastor and I wasn't doing it. And I made a decision, I'm gonna download a daily Bible reading plan. And I can't say that I've done it every year, but I think I've done it nine out of 10. Every year I choose a different translation of the Bible and I read through it for a couple of reasons. One, I'm not just trying to get through the Bible I'm trying to get the Bible through me. And I've got to make sure that I am anchoring myself to God's word.

My most prized possession is a 1934 Thompson chain reference Bible that belonged to my grandfather. I love looking at that Bible, seeing the verses, he underlined, seeing the things that he scribbled in the margin. And occasionally I'll read that Bible and it has a profound impact on me. You know, someday like having a Bibles scribbled on for my kids and Lord willing grandkids. But I had to take that conviction and I had to turn it into a daily habit. I'm like, I'm so out of time right now that I can't quite finish at where I want to, but I'll say this. I keep a quote in my Bible. It's an A.W. Tozer quote. And it says this, "Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy. However, harmless, it may seem".

I'll just tease you. Here's where I wanna go with it. Sola scriptura is one of those five Solas. Reading, a fascinating book don't necessarily agree with all of the assumptions or all of the conclusions. But the argument is that Martin Luther isn't just responsible for the Protestant reformation. He's responsible for literacy because he believed that each one of us could have a personal relationship with God. You didn't need a priest or a Pope. They aren't the final authority. Scripture is the final authority when it comes to faith and practice.

So they started schools and not only for men, but the female literacy rate, just skyrocketed. And so it's a little bit of a tangent, but maybe it's a challenge for us. I bet most of us know how to read, know how to write. Can we use that? I mean, 500 years ago, the Bible was chained to a pulpit. You can have it any version, any cover, any color, any way you want. You can have it right here on your phone. Come on, if there's one habit that we need to cultivate. One thing that I think will make all the difference is that daily Bible reading plan. Pick a habit, any habit. Pick a fight, create a rule of life Lord, help us in Jesus name. Amen.
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