Summary: The great theologian Kenny Rogers said, "you gotta know when to fold ’em and you gotta know when to fold ’em. We are called to fold ’em. We are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross. This process is called discipleship. In discipleship we see

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Know When to Fold ‘Em


A little boy constantly fell out of bed. No matter what his parents did, the boy couldn’t sleep without rolling out of bed. An uncle came to visit and in the middle of the night the usual thump and cry was heard. In the morning the uncle teased the boy and asked him why he fell out so often. The little fellow thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t know, unless its because I stay too close to the place where I get in.”

I wonder if sometimes we do not run the risk of falling spiritually because we stay too close to the place we got in. We are called to be growing up and maturing in Christ. We call this process of growing, learning and becoming more like Christ discipleship. So often though people stay right where they were when they got in, and they are not growing. Hopefully, we all will not remain so close to the place we began and we will become more like Jesus each day.

During Jesus time, from age 6 until age ten Jewish students attended school for the first time probably in the synagogue and studied under a Rabbi. Students would begin memorizing the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). There was no printing press so the people learned the Word through word of mouth. It has been said that by age ten the children would have memorized the Torah. The best students would continue their education and that would last until age 14, the others would learn the family trade. By age 14 the students would have the entire Old Testament that is thirty-nine books, memorized most likely. Following that, at around age 14 or 15 only the best of the best would continue education. Most were learning the family business. The best would apply to a rabbi to become one of his disciples. The goal of a disciple wasn’t just to learn what the rabbi knew, but rather to be just like the rabbi. The student would come and say, “Rabbi, I want to become on of your disciple”. In effect, the student was asking, "Do I have what it takes to be like you?" The rabbi would either accept the student as a disciple or would encourage him to pursue a trade. The rabbi had to consider does this kid have what it takes to be like me? If he did not believe he had what it takes the kid was rejected, but if he did the rabbi would say, “Come, follow me”. The student would probably leave everything and follow him, the way that Jesus’ disciples left everything to follow him.

We have been called to follow the rabbi. We have been called to be his disciples. In essence, Jesus is saying he think we have what it takes to become like him, and that should be our goal. Far too many Christians are content with a life where they are not fully committed, where they are not disciples of Jesus. The word “disciple” comes from the Greek word “mathetes”, which means a “witnessing learner”. That is exactly what we are. Jesus’ call to us is for us to be his disciples and for us to follow him. Many people want to be Christians, but few want to be disciples. Many people want to claim Jesus’ promises, but few want to obey His commandments, but Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commandments.

This morning I want to talk about three words, which I believe, are not talked about enough. These three words add up to discipleship. I believe the key to discipleship is folding. I do not know much about card games like Poker, but I do know that when you are playing Poker and you have a bad hand it is a good idea to fold before you loose even more. The great theologian Kenny Rogers said, “you gotta know when to hold ‘em and you gotta know when to fold ‘em”. That is exactly the way it is for us. We have to fold our old self. We have to lay ourselves down. This is exactly what Jesus taught.

The problem that exists is that many people are content with a halfway committed life. They see that they want to be Christians, but not disciples. The problem with that logic is that you cannot be a Christian without being a disciple of Jesus’. Are you a disciple or just a casual acquaintance? It really is all about discipleship, and discipleship begins by knowing when to fold ‘em, when to lay ourselves down and let him have control of our lives.

Text: Luke 9:23-27

I. Followership

There is a lot of talk in the world today about leadership. There are countless volumes published trying to teach people to be good leaders and to lead effectively. It is a funny thing that so many leadership books are published because the majority of people are not in leadership positions. I would be willing to bet that far less volumes have been published teaching how to be a good follower. I believe that we need to understand that we are all followers of Jesus. Sometimes, however, the notion of followership does not sound quite as appealing as that of leadership. If we are a follower that means we aren’t in charge, we aren’t in control, and we don’t dictate the rules. If we are followers than we have to submit to whoever is the leader, and the idea of submission doesn’t fair too well with us. We all are called to be followers of Jesus, regardless of who we are. We are called to be followers of Jesus and not just admirers. It is much easier to be an admirer of Jesus than a follower. We are called to be followers, and as we follow him we will become more like Him. The problem is that we really are not good followers.

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