Just A ‘Fan’? [v166]


Just A ‘Fan’?

A few weeks ago, the ‘official’ “classic” Thanksgiving football game—in Detroit—pitted the Lions against the Houston Texans. [The Lions have played the game every year since 1934; the Cowboy were added in 1966; and the ‘night’ game started in 2006]. Even though Detroit was only 4-6 and the Texans were 9-1, it was a very exciting game. Houston did pull it out in overtime—after 75 minutes of play—to win 34-31.

Now, I started watching in the last quarter, avidly rooting for ‘my’ team to win (since my brother lives in Houston)—but it wasn’t to be. So after it was over, I just turned off the TV to go and have some desert, having already ‘forgotten’ about ‘my’ team losing. I guess most would consider me a “fair-weather fan.”

However, there are other people that are still ‘analyzing’ that “blown call” of the refs [when the Texan’s running back was tackled—and his knee touched the ground—but the refs didn’t blow the whistle, and he got up and ran for a 81-yard touchdown!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCWQ1EG821E ]. These people are usually called “fanatics.”

Sports fanatics usually find out all they can about one player, and sometimes know more about them, their career, and yearly statistics, than they know about a family member! Most all ‘fanatics’ also play “fantasy football”—an interactive competition in which people are managers of a pseudo-football team, and are responsible for all aspects of running the team, selecting players, and coaching the teams against other teams. Fantasy sports players tend to watch more game telecasts, buy more tickets, and spend money at stadiums at a much higher rate than general sports fans. [There is even a “”For Dummies” book dedicated to avoiding the mistakes most ‘amateurs’ make!].

According to the “Fantasy Sports Trade Association,” in 2011 there were 32.8 million fantasy sports players in the United States, and of that figure, 24.3 million (74%) play fantasy football (I’m sure there’s many more as of today).


Now, even though some go to great lengths to be up-to-date on the latest ‘goings-on’, and spend countless hours passionately managing and playing their team (and many have even ‘created’ “football widows”), it’s still a ‘FANTASY’—a part-time ‘preoccupation’—something that they don’t make their living from, and by Sunday night, they are taking off the ‘garb’, washing the team colors from their hair and face, and planning to go to work Monday morning. ‘Fandom’ for most still only takes up a ‘minor’ role in their lives.

Well, I just finished a book titled, “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. The main question he asks is: “Are you a fan or a follower?” The thing is, he’s not talking about sports teams, celebrities, or even computer companies that make very popular phones and tablets. Being the teaching pastor of the fifth largest church in America (Southeast Christian in Louisville, Kentucky), he is asking this question primarily to self-proclaimed “Christians”—if they are REALLY LIVING the life that Jesus outlined to His disciples while He was here on earth.

The book follows the journey of Eric Nelson, a man leading a compartmentalized ‘triple life’: as a pleasure-seeking rebel; a cutthroat corporate executive; and a ‘nominal’ Christian. But when confronted with a near death experience, Eric embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his commitment to Jesus Christ, and tests the faith of his friends and family. He goes from a ‘fan’ to a ‘follower’.

[NOTE: The book was made into a ‘movie’. Click link to view trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4RtNwhxWFw ].

Idleman suggests that to be a true ‘follower’ of Jesus, you need to be “ALL IN”—not just a ‘Sunday morning’ Christian. He describes how Jesus is asking for a daily commitment from us—not to be perfect in everything we do, or even to keep all the ‘rules’ properly—just to have the right ‘attitude’ about what Jesus was all about: Loving God with your whole heart, souls, mind, and strength, and loving others as yourself.

This is VERY CONVICTING for anyone that truly desires to be a fully devoted ‘follower’ of Jesus. The good news is, it’s NOT UP TO US! Jesus knows we can’t do this by our own ‘white-knuckled’ determination, that’s why all He ‘expects’ is for us to understand our great need for Him, and BELIEVE in His ‘life-giving’ resurrection on the cross—and He’ll TAKE CARE of everything else!

To help alleviate His disciples’ concern about this, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” [Matthew 11.28-30].

Today, we often think of Christ as saying this to people who were worn down by life, bedraggled, and in need of encouragement. I surely believe anyone who needs an infusion of hope can rely on Jesus to supply it. However, these words were originally ‘aimed’ at people who were into ‘rule-keeping’—people trying to do everything just right, but carrying around a heavy ‘load’, thinking they had to be perfect to be accepted by God.

People who think they are pretty good already, who believe that their ‘credentials’ of goodness are what’s important, are not real ‘followers’ yet, because they are still ‘in charge’ of their own lives—they have not yet realized that they really are in great need of help and forgiveness. Sadly, they are going to hear this from Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

But, this DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN! If a person’s ‘heart’ is genuinely grieved by their sins, and desires forgiveness, Jesus will accept them with open ‘arms’—and will ‘SEND’ THEM HELP!

Just before Jesus left this earth, He said to His disciples, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them… “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” [John 14:23-27].

So, what does the Holy Spirit do? The list of his activities is very long, but among them are: guiding us into all truth; strengthening and encouraging; calling and equipping us for ministry; helping us make good choices; revealing God’s will; warning and turning us away from sin; interceding on our behalf when we don’t know how or what to pray; and convincing us that we really are God’s children. However, I believe His most important function is to help us BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS. He forms in us the character of Christ that the apostle Paul called the “fruit of the Spirit.” Paul identified nine traits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control [Galatians 5.22-23].

This sounds really good, but how do we go about accessing this power, direction, and wisdom? Well, we need to ask God daily to fill us with Sprit’s power. That’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians, “Be filled with the Spirit” [v 5:18]. I understand that may sound like a contradiction. If the Spirit is in you, why do you need to be filled with him? The truth is, even though the Holy Spirit is ‘in’ you, you can ignore His power, turn away from His direction, neglect His wisdom. So you need to intentionally open yourself up, surrender yourself to His guidance. Otherwise, you’ll just go on operating in your own strength, utilizing your own wisdom, and struggle to follow Jesus. Instead, invite the Spirit to lead the way each day, and then watch what happens.

After Jesus left earth, we are told that when some of the first followers of Jesus prayed, the Spirit came upon them: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” [Acts 4:31]. This was a small group of people who had no status, no money, no organization, no formally educated leadership, no institutions, no schools, and no buildings—yet Jesus had previously told them to go out and “change the world.” They knew that wasn’t going to happen on their own, and had to experience the power of the Spirit at work among them for it to happen.

So, even today, when we surrender our lives, our wills, our choices, and our priorities to Jesus, that FREES US UP to experience the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Then, little by little, we can start to reflect the heart of Christ in all we do, and we’ll find that we’re actually living out God’s commands!

This reminds me of the dramatic story of Aron Ralston, featured in the movie “127 Hours.” The true life story takes place in the remote wilderness of southeastern Utah. Even though he was an experienced climber and canyon explorer, Ralston was alone and far from civilization when a boulder dislodged and trapped his arm. [FYI: The book version that he co-authored is appropriately entitled, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”]. As you might guess, the 127 hours in the movie title refers to how long Ralston was trapped—five and a half days—before he finally amputated his own arm above the wrist, to FREE HIMSELF. In response to the ordeal, he says he didn’t lose his hand, but rather that he regained his life!

Well, is there a ‘boulder’ in your life that is ‘pinning you down’—and not allowing you to ‘free’ yourself and fully commit to following Jesus?

Now, to be totally frank, to be a ‘follower’ of Jesus, one will have to voluntarily ‘leave something behind’. Consider what Jesus said to the “rich young ruler”: “‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

There’s two things to point out here. Jesus does not expect everyone to sell all they have just so they will be ‘allowed’ to follow Him (just the people for which, like the rich young ruler, wealth is an ‘idol’ for them, and is the biggest ‘boulder’ in their lives). We all have our own ‘boulder’ to release. In addition to that, when Jesus says “follow Me,” in the context of this passage, He is also promising the corollary—“I will lead you!” Are you willing to let the Great Physician ‘amputate’ the portion of your life that is holding you back?

To be totally ‘upfront’ and clear, Jesus ‘cautioned’ His disciples that ‘following’ Him is not something to be taken lightly—and it sometimes requires us to give up our own dreams and desires for His! Until you really have surrendered everything over to Jesus, and truly put Him above all else in your life, you will not know the joy and satisfaction that finally comes when you go “all-in.”

But, no matter what following Him will ‘cost’ us in this life, in the end, we won’t see it as a sacrifice, rather we will see it as a ‘privilege’ and an ‘honor’: “Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” [Mark 10:28-30].

Part of the book also deals with a ‘hard saying’ of Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

It’s only by ‘dying’ to ourselves that we truly find life. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” [1 Corinthians 1:18]. ‘Dying’ to yourself doesn’t make sense for the fan, but the follower understands that ‘dying’ is the secret of really living! That’s why Christians sing about the “wonderful cross.”
[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sKcw9_PQYA ].

“Dying to self” involves a daily decision to surrender ‘yield’ our will to God and adopt His perspective. God wants our minds and hearts to be filled with His holy qualities—and as our lives are transformed, we will project the light of His holiness into the darkness of our evil world. Real life—abundant life—begins with “dying to self.”

Jesus ‘invites’ all of us to follow Him, and become His disciples. He wants all of us to decide for ourselves if this is what we want to do—He will not ‘force’ anyone to do it. He also wants all of us to know that the ‘road’ is narrow, and the ‘gate’ to the road is small and easily missed,

During Jesus’ longest ‘sermon’—referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount”—He said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” [Matthew 7:13-14]. (In fact, the ‘gate’ is Jesus Himself).

On this narrow ‘road’, you will be asked to leave your ‘baggage’ behind—selfish ambition; anger; lust; judgmental attitudes; and the like—these are out of place. Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect to start out on this road (or no one would be on it!). But there is a set of expectations we’re called to live by, and these are not ones we make up by ourselves. Instead, we let the Lord shape our attitudes, actions, and behaviors. If we do, we’ll find that our relationships are healthier, and a loving community begins to take shape. We are never going to get this down perfectly, it just depends on if we’re trying, moving in a ‘positive’ direction. You don’t have to travel very long to understand that this path is not a ‘walk in the park’—it REQUIRES COMMITMENT! You may also notice that there aren’t as many on this narrow path as on the broad road, but these other ‘travelers’ know exactly where they’re headed. It may be difficult and challenging and even unpopular at times, but there is great joy in the destination—Heaven…with God forever!

Jesus called people to choose—His way or some other way. Peter and John had to leave their nets to ‘follow’. Matthew had to abandon his comfortable and profitable life (knowing full well that this would be a 24 hour a day commitment!). Religious leaders were invited to lay down their pride. Simon had to give up his politics. The rich young ruler was asked to give up his wealth. The apostle Paul realized he was being asked to jettison his “you gotta earn it” religion. Each one was called to follow, to enter through the small ‘gate’—to join Jesus on the narrow ‘road’, for that was the pathway to real life.

The ‘call’ remains. The road lays open before you. The time to respond is now. Which path will you choose?

Jesus does want to ‘interfere’ with your life—but would it change your ‘attitude’ about it if you know that He promised this?: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” [Jeremiah 29:11].

There are millions of fans all around us who enthusiastic—from mildly to wildly—about athletic teams, musical groups, politicians, or even products. Fans enjoy their teams, their hero’s performance on the field or the stage, how they communicate their ideas, or just how easily something works. However, you can be a fan from a ‘distance’, especially when something doesn’t sit quite right with you. If your team plays lousy or your favorite musician records some terrible songs, you can ignore the ones you used to cheer.

It’s the same with Jesus. You can like all the stories about Him, and you might get excited hearing that He offers peace, joy, and companionship. But, you still can choose which of His teachings to adopt and which you will ignore.

The thing is, Jesus is not at all interested in acquiring ‘admirers’. He’s looking for completely, committed ‘followers’ who make Him the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY in their lives. Followers believe that he is the Son of God who lived as one of us, died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, rose from the dead to prove his identity, and one day will come back again. They identify with Christ in every part of their life. Following Jesus means hanging on to Him when it seems like everyone else around them is ignoring Him—or has taken a hostile stance toward Him. It requires that one accepts ALL of His teachings, even the ones that challenge the activities and commitments that one would rather control themselves.

Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” [Revelation 3:20]. Jesus comes to each of us seeking entry into our ‘hearts’. He is not a ‘salesman’ who shows up at the door with a fast pitch, but the Savior who comes with forgiveness, healing, and hope. If our heart’s ‘door’ is closed, it has been shut from the inside, and if it is to swing open, that too must come from the inside—He will not break the door down [a famous painting to illustrate this:
http://www.spiritedesign.com/Christ-KnockingAtHeart’sDoor.jpg ].
I hope you will open your heart’s door to allow Christ to come in. That’s where becoming a follower starts!

Jesus is not looking for ‘fans’, however passionate, standing on the ‘sidelines’, or people who want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the ‘benefits’, but not so close that it requires sacrifice. He is looking for ‘followers’—people who are committed to a daily, hourly, minute-to-minute RELATIONSHIP with Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit, so they can be the ‘manager’ of their life—a life that will look more like Jesus everyday, and be on that ‘narrow path’ to Heaven!

Becoming a ‘follower’ is your choice—and one that will totally TRANSFORM for life!

[ Excerpts from: Kyle Idleman; Ken Larson; Dennis Carlson]

[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about what the Bible has to say about what it really means to “believe” visit the following link:


If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net


Are you a follower of Jesus? Don’t answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a ‘Define the Relationship’ conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn’t ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you’re not into Jesus, period. In any case, don’t take the question—Are you a follower of Jesus?—lightly. Some people don’t know what they’ve said yes to and other people don’t realize what they’ve said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers. Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.


“Kyle Idleman knows where we live and where we could live with God’s help. His words are, at once, profound and practical. He is committed to helping us move in the right direction. If you need a helping hand in your journey, he’ll point you to the right Person.”  [Max Lucado – Pastor, Oak Hills Church and Author of Fearless]

“Jesus never asked us to sit on the sidelines and cheer for his cause. In Idleman’s book, Not a Fan, Kyle will challenge you to grow from a fair weather fan to a full-time follower of Christ.” [Craig Groeschel – Senior Pastor of LifeChurch.tv and Author of The Christian Atheist]

“Not a Fan is truly a cutting edge study that will challenge even the most obedient Christians to re-look at their relationship with Christ. I highly recommend to individuals and churches everywhere.” –Mike Huckabee – Former Governor of Arkansas and Author of Do the Right Thing

“Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan is a crucial message for our time. It’s a powerful call to commitment and to following Jesus with all our hearts that has challenged me in the best of ways!” [Jud Wilhite – Sr. Pastor Central Christian Church, Las Vegas and Author of Throw it Down]

“This book disrupts the status quo and challenges readers to follow Christ with greater devotion.” [Mark Batterson – Lead Pastor, National Community Church and Author of Soul Print]

“Not A Fan is a book that every Christian should read and regularly re-read. I started to read the manuscript and could not stop until I finished. This is a NOW message for the Church and my hope is that every believer who reads this will become an authentic follower of Christ.” [Christine Caine – Founder, The A21 Campaign and Author of Run to Win]

[“Not a Fan” author: Kyle Idleman]

The book’s basic premise is that Jesus wants followers, not fans. In Part 1, “Fan or Follower? An Honest Diagnosis,” Idleman shows that Jesus requires lifelong commitment rather than a mere one-time decision (chapter 2), intimacy rather than mere knowledge (chapter 3), exclusive devotion rather than competing loves (chapter 4), pursuit of himself rather than pursuit of religion (chapter 5), and Spirit-filled effort rather than self-empowered striving (chapter 6).

In Part 2, “An Invitation to Follow (The Unedited Version),” Idleman demonstrates from Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23 that “anyone” implies an open invitation (chapter 8), “come after me” a passionate pursuit (chapter 9), “deny” a total surrender (chapter 10), and “take up your cross daily” an everyday death (chapter 11).

Finally, in Part 3, “Following Jesus—Wherever. Whenever. Whatever.,” Idleman anticipates responses like “What about there?” (chapter 12), “What about now?” (chapter 13), and “What about that?” (chapter 14).

[Matt Smethurst]

What is Jesus worth to you?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In “Radical,” David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple–then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment–a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.


“In his compelling new book, Radical, David Platt delivers a powerful picture of the church in America today that, on key points, stands in sharp contrast to what the Bible shows us about the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. David challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose—to make Christ’s glory known to all the nations! This is a must-read for every believer!” [Wess Stafford, president and CEO, Compassion Intl.]

[David Platt]

Shoulder to the wheel
For someone else’s selfish gain
Here there is no choosing
Working the clay
Wearing their anger like a ball and chain.

Fire in the field
Underneath a blazing sun
But soon the sun was faded
And freedom was a song
I heard them singing when the day was done
Singing to the holy One.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking…lead on.

Waiting for the train
Labelled with a golden star
Heavy hearted boarding
Whispers in the dark
“Where are we going–is it very far?”

Bitter cold terrain
Echoes of a slamming door
In chambers made for sleeping, forever
Voices like thunder in a mighty roar
Cry to the Lord.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking…lead on.

Man hurts man
Time and time, time again
And we drown in the wake of our power
Somebody tell me why.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking…lead on.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on

[Amy Grant]


This movie follows the journey of Eric Nelson, a man leading a compartmentalized triple life as a pleasure-seeking rebel, a cutthroat corporate executive, and a nominal Christian. But when confronted with a near death experience, Eric embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his commitment to Jesus Christ and tests the faith of his friends and family.




“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” [Dwight D. Eisenhower]

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” [Stephen R. Covey]

Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” [John 7.37-39].

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” [John 14.16-17].



Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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One Response to “Just A ‘Fan’? [v166]”

  1. One’s ‘Last Words’ | LIFE'S DEEP THOUGHTS Says:

    […] “Just a ‘Fan’?”: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/just-a-fan-v166/ […]


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