We are continuing our sermon series, Chase the Lion, based on the book by Mark Batterson. Its inspiration comes from the listing of King David’s Mighty Men, the cream of the crop of the warriors who followed and supported him from the time King Saul was hunting him in the wilderness, then throughout his reign. Last week, we heard about Benaiah who chased the lion into a pit on a snowy day and came out victorious. We talked about how people who chase God-sized dreams run to the roar when others run away.
Earlier this morning, we heard the passage with Jesus as he called the first of his Mighty Men, the Disciples. Jesus says to Peter and Andrew, “Come and follow me” (Mark 1:17a). And after this one encounter they drop their fishing nets and followed him. The same happened with James and John. With their one encounter, their lives were changed forever. They could have ignored him, gone on with their regular lives doing the same thing they’ve always done. They could have hid until Jesus went away. Instead, they left the life they knew, comfortable, and familiar, and ran to the roar. Mighty Men.
Last week, we ended the sermon with the Lion Chaser’s Manifesto. Today, we are going to start that way. Remember as we read these lines together that they apply just as much to Jesus and his Mighty Men as it does to David and his. As we are Jesus’s disciples, it also applies to us.
Lion Chaser’s Manifesto
- Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
- Run to the roar.
- Set God-sized goals.
- Pursue God-given passions.
- Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.
- Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.
- Stop repeating the past. Start creating the future.
- Face your fears. Fight for your dreams.
- Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go.
- Live like today is the first day and the last day of your life.
- Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails.
- Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.
- Don’t let what is wrong with you keep you from worshiping what is right with God.
- Dare to fail.
- Dare to be different.
- Quit holding out.
- Quit holding back.
- Quit running away.
- Chase the lion!
Have you ever heard of Paul Tudor Jones? He is not known specifically for chasing lions. His specialty was more in the area of bears and bulls. His hunting did not take place in the wilderness but on Wall Street. Paul Tudor Jones is the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation. With his gift, he was one of the few that made a great deal of money on Black Monday, October 19th, 1987. That day the Dow Jones Lost over 22% of its value. He continued to be in the black for 28 years in a row. He has been bold in his profession, and it has paid dividends, literally. However making billions of dollars was not his 500 pound lion. He had bigger dreams than that.
Jones started by adopting a sixth grade class in inner New York City. He thought that guaranteeing a college scholarship to every student would make more of a difference. Only one third of those students graduated from high school. He realized the problem was greater than merely the school, and he jumped into fighting poverty with a passion. He started the Robin Hood Foundation. It has funded over1.5 billion, with a “B”, into projects fighting inner-city poverty since 1988. Not only that, but it has inspired other philanthropist with similar projects. (Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion, 19-20)
Obviously, Jones is a competitive person. He likes to succeed, but he also wants to make a difference. He says it all goes back to one act of kindness when he was four years old.
Jones was at an outdoor food market with his mom, and he got lost. As he I was panicking and crying, a tall elderly black man came over and said, “Don’t cry; we’re going to find her. You’re going to be happy in a minute.” (Paul Tudor Jones, quoted in Tony Robbins, 494)
That one encounter framed the great work of Jones life. He doesn’t even know the man’s name, but it formed an impression and the desire to give back he will never forget. Now, every grant the foundation provides is a gift within a gift, a dream within a dream, all from one encounter.
Chapter 23 of 2nd Samuel is full of the names of David’s Mighty Men, but today we are going to zero in on verse 8.
2 Samuel 23:8 NIV
These are the names of David’s Mighty Men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three, He raised his spear against 800 men, whom he killed in one encounter.
Look at your neighbors and say, “One encounter.”
Josheb’s one encounter made him chief of the Three. We will talk more about that group in a couple of weeks. There came a point when he had to stop running from what he was afraid of and take a stand. We have to do the same.
When we have a God-sized dream, we have to leave room for God to show up. For God there is nothing that is impossible. Nothing is too difficult. What seems impossible to us is the prelude to God’s greatest miracles. We never know how God is going to do it.
You are probably aware of what is called the ripple effect. The illustration is tossing a stone in a pond and seeing the ripples move across the water affecting things far away. Whether large or small, the ripples of one encounter can have a profound effect on the person or people around them. One encounter with a black man and a four year old boy has resulted in $1.5 billion fighting inner-city poverty. One encounter resulted in a victory and a new role for one of the men in David’s Army.
The ripple effect continues with Jesus and the steps of the Disciples. Every step they took produced ripples, to follow Jesus and spread the news about him. We are a direct result of those ripples, and it’s why we are sitting here today. Those ripples caused this church building to be constructed in Joseph, Oregon over 100 years ago. You may be related to some of the people who built this structure. We are all indebted to them. They built something that has outlived them.
Tomorrow, is Martin Luther King Day, and to say that Martin Luther King chased his 500 pound lion is something of an understatement. As a child, King had to navigate segregation laws and feelings of being a second-class citizen. He had much to overcome. As a young minister in a middle-class black church with a family, he had to make tough decisions. Should he speak out against racism? He would be putting his young family at risk. He ultimately would take his stand and face down his lion.
He led the civil rights movement and affected dramatic change. The ripple effects are still being felt today and will be for some time to come. His dream has not been fully realized yet. Sometimes we have found that we took two steps forward and one step back. There are ebbs and flows, but as King paraphrased Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
How many people were affected by their one encounter with this man? How many people are still being affected by his words today?
This is one man, but what we do each and every day has a ripple effect, too. Are you living a life that is worth telling stories about? One thing is for sure, God wants to tell a story through your life. God is a master storyteller, but you have to give God the reins. When you do, amazing things happen, and your life becomes a great story.
What are you doing now, today, that will make a difference in a hundred years? So many of us are just trying to make it through the day or week that we can’t consider a hundred years in the future, but we have to get out of that mindset. What are you doing that will make a difference in a hundred years? Have you ever heard of the Onondaga people? They are a Native American people part of the Iroquois Confederacy. For a long time they lived in the area that became what is now Syracuse in Upstate New York. They looked at the long arc. They considered the effect their decisions would have over the course of seven generations.
But it is so easy to keep doing the same thing. It is what we are used to, and we know what to expect. Even when we know that what we are doing isn’t producing a good result, we often continue doing it. Sometimes we think, “It’s because I’m not doing it well enough. If I just try harder, maybe this time it will work.” There is another saying. If you keep doing the same thing, you will continue to get the same result.
If we want God to do a new thing in us, in our church, in our community, we can’t just keep doing the same thing. As Mark Batterson says, “My job as a pastor is to comfort the afflicted, but I think even more importantly it is to afflict the comfortable. You tell me the last time you were uncomfortable, and I will tell you the last time you grew. The status quo doesn’t cut it. There is a moment when you have to raise that spear and go after the dream that God has given you.” (Mark Batterson, Run to the Roar)
We want to make a difference with our lives. That’s good, but sometimes we think we have to do something big and grand to make that difference, but it starts with the little things. We do little things like they are big things, and they’re ripple effect is magnified. Then God can do the big things like they are little.
Have you ever seen the license plate from Washington DC? The motto on it is, “No taxation without representation.” This is due to the fact that Washington DC not being part of any state does not have a voting representative in the US Congress. All of that goes back to before the American Revolution.
James Otis was a lawyer who was Advocate General for the Massachusetts colony in 1761. It had its compensations. It was a good paying steady job, but he had a problem with all of the writs of assistance, taxes and stamps, that were charged to the colonies by England. Eventually, it got to be too much, and he submitted his resignation. In court, he declared, “Taxation without representation is tyranny!” A young man named John Adams was sitting in court that day. This one encounter resulted in a rallying cry for a revolution 15 years later. Did James Otis realize that his words would have such an effect? No he was venting his passionate frustrations as he was leaving his job. Yet, for some, it is still a dream, a dream within a dream, within a dream. You don’t know where your ripples will go, but you can begin something. (Batterson, Run to the Roar)
What you do makes a difference. It is the small things that no one sees, the little steps of faith that scare you. That is how the kingdom moves forward. God fills in the gaps and collects the little things and turns them into big things. We all want to do big things, but that is not our purpose. That’s God’s purpose. What we are supposed to do is get ourselves ready. If we do that, when the time comes, God will be there to do gods part.
God has a dream for you. It has already been set up. The stone has already been tossed in the pond, and the ripples are already making their way towards you. You may have felt some of them already. Your dream will in turn inspire the dreams of others.
Let me tell you about Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina. He is the first African American in US history to be elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate. He grew up in a household that struggled to make ends meet, not unlike many children. One day when Scott was in 8th grade, a teacher said something that would change the direction of his life. You ought to think about student council. You never know where one word of encouragement, a compliment, or a challenging idea may go. He still had to follow through, but student council was not probably an idea that I had ever occurred to him.
When Scott was a teenager he went to a fast food place on a regular basis and got to know one of the workers, John. John had a dream of influencing one million people. Tim Scott would come in and John would fill him with stories, ideas, and wisdom. When John died of a heart attack at age 38, Scott adopted his dream, a dream within a dream. But Scott became bolder. He decided he wanted to positively affect the lives of a billion people. That is a 500 pound lion. Now, as senator, Tim Scott is working to directly and indirectly positively affect at least a billion people all over the world. Who is the hero of the story, Tim Scott? I think it’s Scott’s eighth grade teacher and John the fast food mentor. (Batterson, Run to the Roar)
Another question, do you think Tim Scott’s dream would have even been possible without Martin Luther King’s dream? A dream within a dream, within a dream. Ripple effects that no human could foresee.
And then there is a man named Josheb from our scripture today. He gets one line in the Bible. That’s amazing! That’s more than I have, but King David gets chapters and appears in multiple books of the Bible. Who is the hero? David? What would David say to that? Why are all of these people who joined David in the dream God gave him listed here at the end of 2 Samuel? David could not have done it without them. We all owe a debt to people that others may never know. We may not even know them ourselves.
I am indebted to Mrs. Smirnoff my ballet teacher when I was in elementary school, a Russian woman living in Frankfurt West Germany in the 1970s. She gave me a lifelong passion for dance. Then there is Reverend Robert Cox, my pastor and Charleston South Carolina, who suggested about 20 years ago that I should consider seminary, and I could go on and on.
“Your legacy isn’t your dream. Your legacy is the dream your dream inspires. The Ripple effects your life creates.” (Batterson, Run to the Roar)
What risks do you need to take? What decision do you need to make? What is your God-sized 500 pound lion that God has for you to chase? Often we get stuck waiting for God to reveal the next step when God is waiting on us to act on what God is already revealed to us. As Mark Batterson says, “Faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second step.”
But how can you know what direction you should go? There are so many things that can be done, should be done, but are you the person that should be doing that particular thing? Is this church the one that should take on a particular ministry?
In the fall, our Adult Sunday school class did a study called Creating a Life with God, where we looked at and experimented with a wide variety of prayer practices. One of these specifically addressed discerning what lion to chase, though the author didn’t put it quite that way. He called it “The Impossible Project,” that which would be impossible without God’s involvement. A group of people from the church get together weekly for a set period of time to pray and discern what direction God wants them to go next. Some sessions would include guided prayer with Scripture. Some would be more free form. The idea is that at the end, some weeks later, the group comes up with a consensus of where the Holy Spirit is directing them. I will be talking about this more next week, but if this is something that God is nudging you about, tell me about it, today. Who knows where the ripples might lead?
A kind old black man helped a four-year-old Paul Tudor Jones. Martin Luther King took a risk. James Otis unknowingly provided a rallying cry for a revolution. John advised a teenager. Josheb raise the spear, and Peter went from being called out of his fishing boat by Jesus to taking the gospel to Gentiles in Rome. What are we called to do? What is our next dream within a dream? Where will our ripples go? Keep thinking about it. Keep praying about it. May God help us on the journey.
- Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small, Colorado Springs: Multnomah) 2016.
- Mark Batterson, sermon, Run to the Roar: the Ripple Effect, September 18th, 2016.
- Paul Tudor Jones, quoted in Tony Robbins, Money: Master the Game (New York: Simon & Schuster) 2014.