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VOICES | Ted Beasley – “Connect Sunday To Your Monday”

VOICES | Ted Beasley – “Connect Sunday To Your Monday”

Has there ever been a time when you planned an event and you wondered if anyone
would show up? There are those uncomfortable few moments in which you dangle between fear
and hope, that interminable wait for the first guest to arrive. Let me tell you about a conversation
John Burke and I had about 20 minutes before the very first Gateway service in 1998. We had
been frantic all morning, setting up the rented movie theater with our portable sound and lights
and video. Signs were out. Children’s rooms were ready to go. We had devoted the last year to
preparing for this moment when Gateway would go public in Austin. So, we stood there in the
lobby, and just took it all in. “How many people do you think will show?” I asked John. 200,
500, 1000? We had no idea. We had sent out thousands of postcards. We had been covered in
the media. Radio ads had been running. That morning JB and I were both struck by the most
terrifying thought. What if no one shows up? John’s face went ghostly white. I felt like I might
hurl. What if we throw this party, what if we pray and work and plan, and nobody walks through
the door? Then John says, “Do you know what would be worse? If like 10 people show up.”
Those poor ten. We instantly started praying that zero would come.
And if just 10 people would have come, I guess it would have been okay. We didn’t start
Gateway to build some megachurch. We devoted ourselves in those early days, because we
believed that the church, when it is functioning correctly, is the hope of the world. It is a safe
place to meet God for the first time. It is a hospital to heal wounded, broken people. It is a
Sinner’s Anonymous gathering where people aren’t judged, but are given a plan to get back on
their feet. It is a large, extended family where anyone can find acceptance. It is God’s
instrument for interacting with humanity. That’s why Jesus said, “You are the light of the world,
you are a city upon a hill, you are the salt of the earth.” The church, when it is functioning
properly, is the hope of the world.
People often ask me what Gateway was like in its opening chapters. One phrase that
comes to mind is Beautiful Mess. None of us knew what we were doing. We made so many
mistakes. I had so many near death experiences towing the Gateway equipment trailer down
Highway 183 on Sundays. One morning, after a volunteer watched me back the trailer into the
loading area of the movie theater, he asked, “Hey, Ted. Why aren’t you using the stabilizing bars
to keep the trailer from swinging wildly?” I was like, “What’s a stabilizing bar?” And most
people sitting in the seats had no church background, and didn’t know how to behave. We’re
Gateway church. Come as you are. No perfect people allowed. Party last night on Sixth Street,
repent this morning. Wear your shorts and flip flops. Walk into the church service 10 minutes
late sipping your latte, man. It’s all good. It was truly a mess, and it was so beautiful.
There’s another descriptor phrase, and this is the one I want to focus on this morning.
Sunday-Monday Faith. Early Gateway, and I bet this is still true today, held strongly this belief
that there’s no spiritual separation between who you are at church and how you live the rest of
the week, starting on Monday. Wired into Gateway’s origin story is the fundamental value that
each of us has been given a mission from God to live out in our workplaces and neighborhoods
and the world at large. Henrietta Mears, one of my faith heroes, once said, “What you are is
God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to him.” That sentiment is based on Philippians
2:13. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. In this
passage, the Apostle Paul implies that God specifically has a purpose for you to fulfill on this
planet. And he’s constantly at work in you, guiding you, re-directing you, preparing you to
accomplish this mission. Your task as a human being is to decipher what that purpose or calling
is. And when you find God acting and willing according to his good purpose, the possibilities of
what you can achieve are limitless. The ripple effect is profound. So let me ask you, have you
figured it out yet? What is God working in you to produce? What is your function on this planet

other than to work fifty hours a week, pay a mortgage, and find something on Netflix to watch?
Do you have a strong sense that your Sunday and Monday are connected?
This was the funnest part of early Gateway when we were small. We all felt like we had
something to contribute. There was just this expectation that God had brought us together on
Sundays and in small groups, so that we could be equipped and energized to go fulfill our unique
missions in our little corners of Austin. There was story after story. One guy said, “I was a
drunk for 20 years of my life. I want to help people get sober.” And he launched our recovery
ministry. A lady stepped forward and confided, “I’m a survivor of sexual assault. Help me
figure out how to create a safe space for healing and thriving on a community or even citywide
scale.” A married couple described how their marriage was on the brink for many years, and the
Lord had restored them. “We want to be a sounding board and source of hope.” And they
literally impacted hundreds of younger couples. Some businesspeople raised their hand, “Hey,
we’re pretty good at finance. Gateway, can you give us a platform to help families get out of
debt?” “I own a bar and a bunch of restaurants, how can I use them to impact people for
Christ?” “I felt so alone raising my pre-schoolers. What can I do to provide community to other
young parents?” “God’s leading me to launch a missional business in Western Africa to create
hundreds of good jobs.” “I have this ski boat. How can God use it to mentor at-risk boys?” “I
have a vision for planting community gardens in poor neighborhoods all over Austin.” “How do
I start a Bible study at Dell?” That one was actually the hardest! There were hundreds of
moments like this, and we were almost always like, “Heck yeah! God has work for you to do
outside of Sundays. How can we help?”
This was not just the story of early Gateway, this was the story of the early church. Do
you know church history? Yes, there have been some dark chapters when greed, sin, oppression
and intolerance reigned. But the church, when functioning properly, has been the hope of the
world for over 2,000 years. And it makes its best contributions through individuals like you and
me when we allow God to will and act in us according to his good purposes Monday-Saturday.
This summer I read Rodney Stark’s, The Rise of Christianity. At the time of writing it, Stark
was an agnostic Sociologist. His book simply asks, “Why did Christianity grow so fast and
become the dominant religion in the world?” Stark found that for the first 500 years or so of
Christianity, the church grew at steady rate of 40% every 10 years. It happened life-by-life when
members of the church invited their friends, family and fellow citizens to experience the
community. Stark mentions that three factors fueled the steady growth. First, the elevation of
women. The teachings of the church uplifted and protected women. Women were a significant
majority of the church the first few centuries, and because of the limited dating and mating pool
in that society, many pagan men became Christians when they married women who were
believers. Second, the deep compassion of the early church members transformed the culture. A
pandemic of smallpox spread throughout the Roman empire in 165AD. A second plague of
hemorrhagic fever, possibly ebola, ravaged the world again in 250 AD. These diseases lingered
for years and killed off significant portions of the world populations. While everyone, including
pagan physicians, were fleeing the cities to avoid contracting illness, Christian rushed into the
cities to care for the sick. These acts of charity and selflessness swayed the society.
And the third factor for the growth of the historical church was simply activism.
Individual believers felt compelled to solve problems in the world, that they were on a personal
mission from God. We invented hospitals. By the 4 th century, Christians were running homes for
the sick. By the 8 th century we had developed highly specialized hospitals. We transformed
cathedral schools into the first modern European universities – Bologna, Paris, Oxford. Christ-
followers like Anselm and Aquinas preserved literacy in the Dark Ages. Deeply devoted
Christians like Copernicus, Kepler, Pascal helped form the foundations of scientific thought.
Throughout history, God prompted ordinary activists like you to face down injustice in the name

of love. William and Catherine Booth adopted the plight of the poor in inner city London and
founded the Salvation Army. Rembrandt, John Donne, and Dostoevsky used their art to call the
world to compassion. Elizabeth Fry reformed prisons. Schweitzer built hospitals in Africa.
Susan B. Anthony’s faith motivated her crusade for women to vote. William Wilberforce stood
firm in his biblical beliefs and brought down the British slave trade. All of these discovered their
callings, made their mark, went on to be with the Lord, and now they pass their legacy of
Sunday-Monday faith to you. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: We are therefore Christ’s
ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. Rarely does God part seas or
cause manna to fall from heaven anymore. In these days, you are his miracle. You are the
appeal he makes to the world by the challenges you engage.
But, you and I have a problem that we have to address immediately. And the problem is
tomorrow is Monday. Monday is like a math problem. Add the irritation, subtract the sleep,
multiply the problems, divide the happiness. Why is Monday so far from Friday but Friday so
close to Monday? After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF. On Sundays, faith
is easy. Worship at church connects us to our eternal creator. We get pumped up by a sermon,
provided it doesn’t go over 30 minutes. We’re surrounded by a congregation of people who are
pretty much on their best behavior for that hour, at least until we all try to get out of the parking
lot at the same time. We get to enjoy a good meal with the fam. For 4-5 months out of the year,
we get to crash on the couch and watch the Cowboys ride Dak Prescot’s golden arm to glorious
victory. Sunday’s are a breeze spiritually. But Monday is a different. The rules change. It’s
hustle and compete and put out fires. And friends, this is one of the fundamental problems of
your Christian life. How do I connect Sunday and Monday, because they feel so very different?
Most Christians never figure it out. They simply accept the fact that they live in two different
worlds with different rules, that they are somehow two different people, bifurcated down the
middle, half of me sacred, half of me sacred. Listen to these very powerful prayer Jesus prays
over you this morning, My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect
them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the
truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John
17:15-18) Jesus says, oh you are different. But I’m not taking you out of the world, I’m sending
you right into the fray on Monday. And I want to be as real to you then as on Sunday. Monday
is holy. How do you bridge your Sunday and Monday? Quickly, I want to talk you through 4
steps God takes you through in helping you figure out how to live out Sunday-Monday faith.

  1. God Lets Something Tick You Off (That Also Ticks Him Off). Sometimes God
    speaks to you through a problem in the world or an injustice. He allows you to observe it and
    really stew about it for a while. Maybe it’s homelessness. Maybe it’s seeing foster kids
    abandoned by the system. Maybe you watch a friend go through a brutal divorce and you
    wonder, “Why do churches shun divorced people? That must really tick God off. Maybe I can
    do something to be a part of the solution.” And in the process of reacting to a tangible problem,
    God calls you out of the shadows to grow your faith. When they were little, I used love telling
    my kids the story of David and Goliath from I Samuel 17 as a bedtime story. They knew all the
    details. Giant vs. teenage boy. Whack, Goliath takes a smooth stone launched from a sling to
    the forehead and lands with a thud before brave young lad. The crowd goes crazy. God’s side
    wins. You know the tale. But the part I like the most is the beginning of the story. David’s
    brothers are off to war to fight the Philistines. Because David is just a kid, he’s the only brother
    that dad keeps at home to tend the flocks. One day dad loads David’s backpack up with some
    food and goodies, and instructs him to go bring a care package to his siblings in the battle
    encampment. So David strolls into camp, greets his brothers, and then hears the voice of Goliath
    defiantly calling to the Israelites, “Your god is a joke. I dare anyone of you to come over here
    and prove to me otherwise.” And David just goes on tilt. He’s totally ticked off. In frustration

he asks, Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?
(17:26) And at this point in the story, one of my young sons would always ask what
uncircumcised means, and not wanting to have to explain why we did that horrific, painful thing
to him when he was a newborn, I’d say, “Ask your mom.” Do you hear the righteous discontent
in David? The world’s not supposed to operate this way. We have Yahweh, they have idols. If
no one has the guts to silence this imbecile, I guess I’m just going to have to do it. What unmet
need in this world cries out to you right now? Could it be that God is speaking, he’s arranging
this discontent so one day you’ll get off your butt and put your money with your mouth is?
Remember Popeye? Popeye, the what? Sailor man.
Popeye was a little worse for the wear from all those years sailing the seven seas. Look at him.
One bum eye. Insatiable nicotine addiction, male pattern baldness, the largest parts of his body
are freakish lower arms, he crackles with one unfortunate speech impediment. Sometimes,
Popeye would get backed into a corner or lose his temper, and when he would reach his limit,
he’d declare – “That’s all I can stands . . . I can’t stands no more.” Did I mention his grammar
problems? Then he’d reach into his sailor pants and there would randomly be a can of spinach in
there! And he would save the day. This is the pattern with God’s people. God taps us on the
shoulder, and says, “See that problem over there that nobody is doing anything about? Doesn’t it
kind of tick you off? It ticks me off.” For Moses, it was his fellow Israelites in bondage. For
Esther, it was the planned extermination of her people. For Stephen, it was frustration in Acts 6
at watching the disciples complete lack of organizational skills in distributing food to the poor.
Is there something these days that eats at God that also eats at you? That could be a strong
indication of what he has called you to do. Study that problem. Figure out its causes. Pray with
God over what a potential solution could be, and how you could be part of that solution.

  1. God Gives You a Gift. Next God wants to give you an outlet for your frustration by
    pairing it with a set of talents or abilities that are unique to you and can be used in that situation.
    Let’s focus in on one form these gifts take – the spiritual gift. I Peter 4:10 says, God has given
    gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s
    generosity can flow through you. The definition of a spiritual gift is in that verse. A spiritual
    gift is a supernatural ability that God gives every one of his followers, so that together, they can
    partner with him to help the world. Isn’t it staggering to consider that God has provided you an
    innate ability that works together with your personality, life experiences, your holy discontent to
    do something phenomenal in this world? But how do you know what gift God has given?
    Here’s one path. A. Assessment – Only 22% of people in the church know what their gift is.
    There are some awesome online tools that can help you assess your gifting. They usually take
    about 15 minutes to complete, and when you’re done, it spits out this incredible report on what
    some of your gifts might be. Here’s a link that will also appear in the Digging Deeper resources.
    Do it this week. It will be fun and informative. B. Prayer – Once you’ve gone through the
    exercise, take some moments to pray about the findings. Ask God to confirm whether or not he
    has truly entrusted gifts like these to you. C. Feedback – Then go talk to people who know you
    and believe in you and ask them what they honestly see. Sometimes that’s hard to hear. Like the
    guy who stood on stage one Sunday and sang the worst solo ever. I mean, he totally embarrassed
    himself. After church, nobody knew what to say, until one kindly gentlemen put his arm around
    him and took him aside and said, “Son, I just want you to know I’m proud of you. That took a
    lot of guts to do what you did today, but whoever asked you to sing ought to be shot.” I guess
    that man had the gift of encouragement. At least, I felt encouraged when he said that to me.
  2. God Opens up a Door for You to Engage. Paul writes this in Ephesians 5:15-17: So
    be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every
    opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever
    the Lord wants you to. Paul says don’t be brainless about the way you live. God is often putting

opportunities in front of you, if you are willing to engage. Look for those open doors. Plato
once said, “The beginning is the most important part of work.” Getting started on a task is half
the battle. Once you take a small step of engagement, your work gathers momentum. Well-
intended human beings encounter an intense inertia when they consider the world’s problems.
Global warming, income inequality, drinkable water in Sub-Saharan Africa, 20 seasons of
Keeping Up with the Kardashians. What could I possibly do? A significant distinction exists
between solving a problem and engaging a problem. Solving implies the right strategy, massive
resources, alignment of stakeholders. Overwhelm leads to inaction. Engaging, however, means
taking a small step toward the challenge. More than merely symbolic, your initial engagement
exposes you to the problem from a new perspective, gives you a sense of empowerment, and
often draws you to an even bigger next step. Great movements of reform often begin with the
small changes enacted by willing people. You don’t have to transform the lagging school system
in your area, but you can tutor middle-schoolers once a week in mathematics. You can’t end the
epidemic of domestic abuse and sexual assault, but you can donate your professional services to
a local shelter. When you engage, you are not powerless. Okay, so your homework for this
week is starting to pile up. First, start identifying some needs in the world that kind of tick you
off, things that tick God off, too. Next, take an inventory of your gifts for solving that problem.
Get feedback from others. And then, finally, identify one small open door you see to engage this
problem, to sort of get your toes wet.

  1. Go Big. Eventually, your Sunday-Monday journey may lead you to a crossroads of
    faith. You understand the needs. You’ve stepped through some open doors. You’ve seen that
    your gifts do make a difference, and then you are faced with a choice. Do I sacrifice? Am I
    willing to part with my plans, my comforts, my lifestyle, even things I love? I’m not saying this
    is true for everyone here, but some of you here, you know God is asking you to go big with your
    calling, and he’s been talking to you about it for a while now.
    Since we’ve gone over today how the history of Gateway, and even the history of how
    the early church changed the world, I thought I’d end with one more story about going big. We
    know about this from the early church historian Theodoret, who wrote about this historical
    moment that many of us modern Christians have never heard of, the story of St. Telemachus. In
    the year 403AD, all roads in the world led to Rome, still a great and glorious empire. In one of
    the far corners of the empire, the province of Asia (modern day Turkey), there lived a monk
    named Telemachus. Telemachus led a spartan life with no material possessions. All he had was
    the community of monks in his village, daily gardening chores, and a singular love of Christ.
    This was his life, but the simplicity of it brought joy to his heart. One day as Telemachus
    cleaned a horse’s stall, he received what could only be described as an inner prompting from
    God. God had never spoken to the monk in this way, but Telemachus was convinced that the
    Lord was commanding him to go to Rome. “I have an important task for you to do there.”
    So, the next day, filled with faith, Telemachus packed some food and a roll to sleep on,
    bid farewell to his friends, and started his journey to Rome. “God has something great for me to
    do,” he told them. “But,” he secretly wondered, “what can a lowly monk like myself really do in
    Rome?” Well, the journey took months, but finally Telemachus found himself at the city gates.
    It was more beautiful and majestic than he had imagined. He had never seen so many people in
    his life, such gorgeous architecture. “What important thing does God have for me to do here?”
    Before he gave it more thought, Telemachus was distracted by the sounds of music and laughter
    coming from the Areopagus. Like a child full of wonder, the monk pressed his way through the
    crowds and looked upon a gathering of street performers and musicians and characters dressed in
    elaborate costumes. The atmosphere was intoxicating. Telemachus’ heart was filled with joy.
    “Surely, God has something for me to do here, but I don’t know what.” Breaking up the revelry
    of the street party was the sound of a horn. Instantly, the crowd, as one unit, began to move

together down the street. There was a sense of anticipation and electricity in the air. Telemachus
had no choice, he was caught up in the crowd, so he began to walk with them towards their
destination. Eventually, they came upon an enormous stadium. Telemachus had never seen a
building this size before. Thousands of people were pouring through its gates, and from inside
the stadium he could hear the roar of an even larger crowd. He entered the building, walked up a
series of ramps, and found himself filing into bleacher seats in the upper ring of the stadium.
Telemachus lost his breath. He was joining a crowd of 80,000 cheering spectators. “All of these
people! Surely God has something for me to do here.”
He had been so caught up in the moment that he had yet to look at the object of the
crowd’s cheers, the action at the floor of the stadium. Nothing could have prepared the naïve
monk for what he witnessed. He saw eight men arrayed in armor and weaponry, fighting brutally
to the death. One of the eight fell to the dust from a spear wound in his shoulder. Almost
instinctively, Telemachus stood to his feet and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
Obviously, no one could hear him, and frankly nobody sitting around him really cared. “In the
name of Christ, stop!” He screamed at the top of his lungs, now standing on his bleacher and
waving his arms. Another gladiator fell to the ground with a dagger in his back. Telemachus
knew he had to do something to prevent more carnage, so he pushed his way through the
spectators to the edge of the grandstand. “In the name of Christ, stop!” Telemachus swung his
body over the edge of the grandstand and found a foothold, and began to descend. “In the name
of Christ, stop!” He climbed and climbed until he reached an arch ten feet above the surface of
the Coliseum. “In the name of Christ, stop!” He waved his arms frantically. By this time there
were only two gladiators left standing, circling one another. Telemachus jumped the last ten feet,
and landed with a thud, and rolled upon the dirt floor of the stadium. “In the name of Christ,
stop!” Finally, people in the audience started to pay attention to the tiny monk from a far away
land. And they cheered, thinking him part of the act. “In the name of Christ, stop!” Some in the
crowd began to repeat the line mockingly, anticipating what fate awaited this actor in the play
that unfolded. Telemachus sprinted towards the center where the two gladiators were locked in
swordplay. “In the name of Christ, stop!” The monk stood between them. The laugher in the
crowd turned to agitation. The monk was interfering with their entertainment. The crowd began
boo and throw food and rocks onto the Coliseum floor. One of the gladiators grabbed the frail
monk by the robe and flung him off to the side like a rag doll. “In the name of Christ, stop!”
One gladiator had knocked the other to the ground. The one on the ground had lost his sword
and was now defenseless. The victorious warrior planned no mercy and raised his sword up in
the air to the cheers of the audience. And he plunged it downward. “In the name of Christ . . .”
Telemachus hurled his body through the air, shielding the beaten gladiator from the blow of the
sword. The blade ran through the monk’s chest. “In the name of Christ . . . stop,” were the last
words of Telemachus as his broken body gasped one more plea. His frame went limp, and his
blood spilled out on the dusty floor of the stadium. The crowd went silent. Shocked by the
sight, the one gladiator dropped his sword and helped the other off the ground, and the two
walked off the field. And in a scene that could hardly have been imagined, the 80,000 spectators
in the stands, slowly, without a word, filed out of the great structure. The very next day, Jan 1,
404 AD, the Roman Emperor, Honorius, prodded by the image of the fallen monk, declared an
end to the games. And never again were gladiators killed in the Coliseum.
Today, the torch is passed from early apostles to Roman Christians who cared for victims
of smallpox in the city gutters to a tiny monk who closed down the games to countless believers
throughout generations to the handful of beautiful messes who started Gateway to you. For all of
you, God’s going to let something tick you off that ticks him off. He’s going to give you a gift,
and then he’s going to crack open a door for you to engage it. Many of you are going to walk
through door, and a few of you are going to go big. And this is how he changes the world.

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