Dare to Disciple: Practical Steps to Mentoring Believers/Program 4
|By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|The importance of Scripture memory and discuss some practical steps for starting (or improving) this area of your life. Together, we’ll find that Scripture memory is not only helpful but necessary.|
Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing, Jesus wants every Christian in America, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, and Australia to do? Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple? How do you make a disciple?
My guest today who will tell us is Robby Gallaty, a man who pastors a church of 3,200 members and has four morning services, yet personally disciples seven or eight people each year. They in turn have gone on to disciple others. Now if you have never discipled anyone, is it really possible you could do this? What are the practical things you need to know? Today you will find out on this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. Today you don’t want to miss our program. We’re talking about dealing with the personal issues that arise when you decide to disciple someone else. Jesus has a plan for us reaching the world. There’s seven billion people in the world. Over four and a half billion of those people do not know our Lord. What’s Jesus’ plan? It’s called the Great Commission. He says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth.” He’s God. He says, therefore, “Go and make disciples.” That command is given to every one of us who believe in Jesus, claim Him as our Lord and Savior.
- Now, I want to give you information that will encourage you to try it. Now, one of the big things people say, “Goodness sake, folks have problems, and I don’t know the answers. I don’t know what to say.” So we’re going to cover that today, the kinds of surprises that show up when you invite somebody just to meet with you, and you say, “I want to encourage you, I want to pray, I want to hold each other accountable,” stuff that comes up, okay.
- And I’ve invited one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty. Here’s a fellow who has a church of 3200 members, does four services on Sunday. And, yet, puts as a priority to disciple individuals. And we’re talking about the things that come up, the things that you do that will help you. And we know that you’re not pastors, you’re lay people. And we both started out as lay people, just obeying Jesus Christ, and following this.
- Now Robby, take us back to how somebody invited you, the first time around, into a relationship, and how it began, and then how you branched out and you decided to do this for yourself.
- Gallaty: Yeah. I think you made a great point. The purpose of this is to encourage people, to let them know that they can do this, that you don’t have to be a “super-Christian” or a pastor or a Bible study teacher; that everyone is called to make disciples. I was radically saved from a life of addiction. I had an addiction to heroin and cocaine in the world. I got into a bad car accident that led me to an addiction to drugs. And for three years, I battled with this addiction: robbed my own father. I lived homeless for awhile, and really had nowhere to turn. And after getting to the lowest of the low, after two rehab treatments, I finally cried out to the Lord. I said, “God, if you’re real, and you rescue me from this mess that I’m in, I will completely devote my life to You.” And I had a radical transformation experience. November 12, 2002, just seven and a half years ago, I was radically saved.
- At that point, John, I had never read the Bible. I had rarely been to church at that point in my life. I had no desire for the Lord before that. But God began to work in my life. But for the next six months, I wandered. I didn’t know what to do. I went to church, but I didn’t know how to read the Bible; didn’t know how to memorize Scripture; didn’t know that I should memorize Scripture; never really been taught how to pray.
- Until one day a man comes up to me at church, and he says, “Would you be interested in coming into a discipleship relationship?” And I said, “Well, what is that?” He said, “Would you be interested in reading the Bible, praying together, and memorizing Scripture?” I said, “I’d love to.” See, up to that point, I had been praying for someone to come into my life. And this man by the name of David came into my life. And for the next six months, he taught me some of the basics of the faith. And then when he moved on and got busy with church and traveling, a man by the name of Tim LeFleur came into my life. And Tim began to invest in me. And from that time those two men have been instrumental in my life. I don’t meet with them weekly, like I used to, but they have become a sounding-board for me, to bounce ideas off, to call when I need help. And they have been really instrumental in my life.
- Ankerberg: Alright. Let’s get right down to some of the nitty-gritty things. I remember, Robby, when I first started doing this, and I had chosen to disciple some folks that were pretty well along in their Christian life. I thought they were pretty good Christians. And as we were kind of cruising along, reading the Bible, and we were talking about certain things, and we were praying together, that somewhere along the line, all of a sudden, they stopped me cold with certain questions. I mean, at first I was shocked that they had some sins in their life. And they were really struggling with those sins. We’re going to talk about some of the things that come up. But I’m saying, what I would like to have people know is, it’s going to come up. If you’re dealing with real people, even folks that have been Christians for a long time, you’re going to have some hidden sins, you’re going to have some things show up. Now, let’s start with one of the basic things. I’ve found that a lot of folks wonder if they’ve been truly saved.
- Gallaty: Yeah. One of the things, first of all, we have to remember is, age does not equal maturity.
- Ankerberg: Exactly.
- Gallaty: Just because someone is older or just because someone has been in church all their life, does not mean that they’re a spiritually mature Christian. And so it’s important to start at the beginning. I’ve had a discipleship group before where I had a guy who was 22, just gotten out of prison, and I had a 50 year old deacon in the same group. And you talk about polar opposites. But these two guys, I started at the beginning. And what I start with is salvation. It’s important to start with, “Do you have a relationship with the Lord?” I’ve even had an experience, John, where I was mentoring/discipling a guy for six straight weeks. We were talking about assurance of salvation; we were talking about some of the doctrines of the faith. And after six weeks of reading the Word and memorizing Scripture, he stops me in the middle of the session and he says, “Pastor, I don’t even know if I’m a believer.” He said, “I’ve been reading about Jesus, and I’ve been hearing about salvation, and I’ve been raised in church all my life. I don’t even know if I was a believer.” And so we stopped right there, led him to the Lord, and started over again. And so it’s important to realize, just because a person is a certain age or has been in church for a certain period of time doesn’t mean that they know the things of the Lord.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and I would just encourage people, when you say that, just accept it and say, “Okay, hey, if you’re not sure, let’s make sure.” And “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We trust Christ to be your sin-bearer. And the fact is, if you’re going to put all your trust in Him and nothing else, then we’re in business here. And let’s just pray and invite the Lord into your life. And you do it and you roll on. What I’m saying is, don’t be shocked by these things. These are the things that plague real people. And if you’re dealing with real people, you’re going to have it.
- Here’s another one. I can remember the first time a fellow came up to me, that I was discipling, and told me about some personal sexual sin in his life. And what I’ve learned is that a lot of the guys in our culture today are faced with this thing of hidden sins in the sexual area; either things they’ve committed in the past or stuff that they’re working with in terms of the internet right now, or just pornography that they’ve got, or other kinds of immorality. And what I have learned to do, Robby – I don’t know about you and I want your input on this – but I’ve just, first of all I’ve thanked them for confiding in me, for trusting me that I could pray with them and that I could help them, okay. You know, I didn’t fall over dead, like I first wanted to do; I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me. You just say, these are things that plague real people. And they are things that Jesus can help them with. He can forgive their sins and He can give them victory over this area. There are certain things they need to do, and that’s the thing you work with them on. And you hold them accountable. But again, just accept that some of these things, sexual sins will be part of that, that you’re going to have to deal with. What would you advise?
- Gallaty: Yeah. When you get involved with someone’s life, in the discipleship process, it can get messy, because so often in churches we have surface-level relationships. You know, “How you doing, John?” “I’m doing great, how about you?” And that’s all we know normally in the life of believers. But when you get into someone’s life, you’re going to find things about them. I mean, some of the things I’ve learned through the years of praying with the groups are hidden sins, just things that on the surface you’d never know. But now that we’re in a group and there’s an accountability there, there’s honesty; hidden sins, immorality, like you said; they start to tell you, “Pastor, I’ve been struggling,” or “John or Robby, I’ve been struggling with these things.” Addictions: you’ll find that there are people addicted to things that you never thought possible.
- I remember at my former church I had a man who had heard that I was mentoring guys, and he had come into my office with a church member. And when he walked into the office, I could tell there was something different about him. I could just sense the evil presence on his life. Well, come to find out, this man was a follower of Anton LaVey, who is the high priest of the church of Satan. This man was a worshiper of Satan. So you can imagine the polar opposite here, the spiritual battle that was going on. He was a worshiper of Satan, I was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. And you could cut the evil presence, literally, with a knife, if you can imagine.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Gallaty: After about an hour of talking to this man – I got to make a connection with him because he had a drug addiction and he had a bad past – and so I told him, I said, “Listen, God can change that. Jesus is the answer to every question you have. He’s the solution to every problem you face.” And he said, “Could Jesus do this for me?” I got on my knees with him, with the other man, and we prayed for Christ to come into his life. When he came up from his knees, I was crying, he was weeping, and we began a discipleship relationship. Well, imagine the questions this man has; the bad habits that he’s learned through the years.
- And so you start at the beginning. When he would tell me things that I would think, “Wow, you’ve actually done that?” I didn’t say I can’t believe that. I’d say, “You know what, the Lord can help you with that.” And it’s important for us to remain calm through the process because as we get involved in people’s lives, we’re going to hear things we never thought we would hear.
- Ankerberg: Yep. We’re going to take a BREAK . When we come back, I want to answer the question, and I want your input on this, people that say, “I’ve committed too much sin. God could never forgive me for what I’ve done, and I am less than dirt,” okay. People that have zero self-worth, okay? We’ve got folks like that that are out there. Maybe you’re one of them. Hang in there. We’re going to talk to you in just a moment. Stick right with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Robby Gallaty, one of the premier Bible teachers in our country. We’re talking about the practical aspects of discipling others. If you actually say to God, “Okay, I will try to encourage and help and disciple another person, another believer, and show them how to read the Word of God and how to pray and how to memorize Scripture and how to be accountable.” What we’re talking about right now is the surprises that come up inside of these relationships. And when they do, some folks say, “You know, I’ve got a past that doesn’t stop; and I really don’t feel like God loves me; I don’t think that He could really forgive my sins; I’m too big a sinner.”
- I want to ask for Robby’s advice on this in just a moment. But one of the things I tell people is this: Picture two roads. And on one road you have kind of a smooth way and every once in a while you might have a little rut, you might have a little bump here or there. But for the most part, it’s smooth. And most people that are in their Christian life, they look at their life as like that road: they’ve got a few bumps in the road, but for the most part it’s smooth. Then you got other folks that, in their road, you see the ruts are very, very deep. And there are potholes where you could lose your car. And sometimes the ruts go right off the road. They are deep, they are ugly. And you say, man, oh man, that looks like my life.
- Now I want you to picture a snowstorm that comes up. And I want you to see the snow falling, and it’s falling on both roads. And if you get two feet of snow, whether you’ve got small ruts or you’ve got big ruts, what happens is the snow comes over and blankets both roads and it looks perfect. And I want to tell you that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins. Whatever sin that you have done, Jesus Christ cleanses it completely.
- And Robby, I’ve shared that story with people and it’s helped them in understanding that Jesus is a big Savior. And whatever they’ve done, He’s big enough to handle their problems. What else have you found?
- Gallaty: Well, I remember one time I was ministering to a man who was a Navy Seal. And he had talked very briefly about times when he was hired to kill. He was a hired assassin and he’d go out and kill people. And when he’d come back from the war and he’d come back from serving the country, he had a problem as he became a believer, even to the end of his life. I remember I would go out to eat with him and he would rarely talk about these stories. But his wife would pull me aside and she’d say, “Brother Paul is having a difficult time forgiving himself. He has a difficult time thinking God could forgive him.” And I remember on his deathbed, I was in the hospital. He could barely talk. And I began to ask him, I said, “Do you believe that God has forgiven you?” And he said, “I believe it,” he said, “I just don’t understand it.” And I said, “The problem is not that God has forgiven you; the problem is that you haven’t forgiven yourself.” And so I prayed with him right there in the hospital, for him to forgive himself. And I find that’s what happens with a lot of people. We know intellectually that God has forgiven us, but the problem is, we’re still bearing that burden and we haven’t forgiven ourselves.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. I think this is where, in the group of one or two, or maybe just one to one, the verse, “If we confess our sins,” works both in terms of the Lord – He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – it’s also interesting that sometimes when we share this with another person, the fact is, the Lord gives us strength. And when they say, “Look, I accept you just the way you are. And the Lord has cleansed me of certain things in my life. And the fact is, I’m a sinner and you’re a sinner. Nobody is perfect on this thing. The fact is, we’ll work together on this.” That acceptance, inside of a group, is fantastic.
- Now, the other thing we need to talk about is confidentiality. When these problems are shared, we’ve got to really lay the law down here in terms of confidentiality. Talk to that.
- Gallaty: Yeah. In the discipleship group, trust is of the utmost importance. Confidentiality is a must. I find so often in circles of believers, we’ll hear something from another person, and we’ll disguise gossip as a prayer request. We’ll call friends and say, “Hey, listen, I’m just telling you this. I know I probably shouldn’t, but we really need to pray for Robby. Robby’s struggling with [blank], he told me.” And that’s gossip. In the discipleship group, it is imperative that you keep what is spoken within the group, within the group. And as you begin to trust one another… It may not happen right away. Sometimes I’ve had groups open up after a month. Sometimes, John, it’s taken six to eight months, maybe to a year before guys pull me aside in the group and say, “Pastor, we need to talk about this;” “Robby, we need to talk about this in the group.” And so time will tell. But what’s going to dictate that is confidentiality.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. The fact is, it seems like it takes a certain amount of time – more than you would expect – for people to tell you about these problems, because they’ve never told anybody else. They’ve had a hard time admitting it themselves, to themselves, that they did that, okay. And so when it comes out, again, I say, “Thank you for sharing that with me. And the fact is, I want you to know, Jesus can forgive that sin; and the fact is, I can accept that you’re doing this, and the fact is, accept you as a brother in Christ. And I’ve done things in my life and you’ve done things in your life and we’re both forgiven. And we’re going to move on.”
- Gallaty: Yeah. You know, and the thing is, I’ve been asked questions that I don’t know the answers to, all the time. I mean, there’s times people come to me and say, “What does this mean?” or “What do I need to do?” or “How should I handle this situation?” It’s important in the discipleship process to remind the guys you’re mentoring, the guys you’re meeting with, that you don’t know all the answers. And it’s okay not to know all the answers; but you know where to find it.
- I remember a story about Henry Ford. In the time when Henry Ford was popular, the consensus was he was the smartest man in the world. And some of the people that were attacking him wanted to see, and so they put together this panel with Henry Ford and they had some of the greatest minds come out to question him in public. And they began asking him questions. “Mr. Ford, do you know this question about chemistry?” First question, he responded, he said, “No, I don’t know the answer to that.” They said, “Well, okay, we’ll give you another question. Let me ask you a question about American history. Do you know the question about the battle, when it was fought?” And he said, “No, I don’t know the answer to that.” And then they asked him another question. After three questions, they said, “Mr. Ford, you’re supposed to be the smartest man in the world and you don’t know the answers to these questions.” And he said, “I’m not the smartest man in the world because I know all the answers in my head; the answer is, I know where to find the answers.”
- And I think for the believer, you don’t have to have all the answers, and it’s okay to say I don’t know the answer to that, but you know where to find the answer.
- Ankerberg: Talk about accountability, as being part of the answer here, in terms of victory over sin, hidden sin, or all of these sins; the very fact of bringing it forward and having somebody hold you accountable. And let me add this to it, okay? What about the guy that fails almost on a repeated basis?
- Gallaty: Yeah. Good question. In Psalm 119, it says, Psalm 119:11, it says, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against You,” (Lord) He’s talking to the Lord. And I have found that as we meditate on the Word and memorize the Word, we begin to saturate our lives with the Word, we begin to deal with hidden sin. You know, one of the ways we can combat sin, it tells us this in Ephesians, is through the sword of the Spirit and through the Word of God, which is the sword. And so as we learn these Scriptures, as we meditate on these scriptures, we can attack the sins in our lives and the things that bother us. We’re going to run into situations where people just cannot overcome sin, at certain times. It may take awhile; it may never happen. And it’s important for us to hang on to those people and to be there for them.
- Now, there does come a time when you have to cut someone off from the group. I get asked this question all the time: When do you end the discipleship relationship? I’ve had one group where two of the guys came every week and another guy rarely came. And what happens is he begins to bring the other guys down. And so there comes a point when you have to go to him and say, “Listen, I love you, brother. I want to work with you. But it shows me, by your actions, that you’re not taking this group seriously. Not that you can never be discipled, not that you can never be disciple by me, but at this point in your life, it’s not the right time. So lovingly, I’m going to be here for you, I’ll pray for you from a distance, but I’m going to have to cut you off from the group.”
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I also think that what you said there about being patient with people, is that people sometimes can confess a sin, a habit, hidden sins, and you don’t get over that in a night. Sometimes you don’t even understand why you’re in it or what’s happening to you. And here’s where your prayer and memorizing Scripture starts to work on you; where God renews your mind and starts to change you from the inside. We are not Ph.D.s in the sense of knowing everything about how a person operates, okay. God is the one who is the doctor here. God is the one who is the professor. God is the one who’s got the answers. Our job is to put them in relationship with the Lord and then to pray with them, and encourage them, and to bring the appropriate Scriptures to them. There are sometimes where we also get additional help. There’s books, there’s sometimes counselors that are needed to get involved in this process. But I would say biblical counselors; people that are going to take the principles of the Word of God and that they will apply these to the folks that they’re dealing with.
- You want to add something to that?
- Gallaty: Well, I would just add, John Owen, the great Puritan, said, “You be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” And I think the beauty of the discipleship group is this: for the first time the guys in the group or the women in the group, will confess sin, they’ll become aware of sin, they’ll identify sin, and they’ll begin to work on sin; something that was a foreign concept to them in the past. And so, just being in the group will produce an accountability there, that maybe they never had before. And so it’s important to realize that sometimes when you attack sin in your life, it takes time.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. I also like the fact that, I can remember there seems like there’s a moment where it’s okay for people inside the group to admit they’ve done stuff. And that helps other people admit they’ve done stuff. All of a sudden, the walls come down and everybody’s real. And then you recognize you need the Lord. And the Lord is the one that’s going to put the pieces back together. And you come together to the Lord for each other. And there’s something that God does, in terms of melting everybody’s hearts and bringing them together, that is spectacular.
- Ankerberg: Next week we’re going to continue with the practical aspects of discipleship. We’re going to talk about: How do you teach folks that they’re to go out and they’re to reproduce themselves? When do you cut them off? When do they go out by themselves? And how do they actually do that? We’re going to talk about that aspect next week.