Talley time at Chapel: Here’s how to follow Jesus
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
Near the end of his talk Monday, John Talley III shared a declaration by 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon.
“The cry of the Christian religion is the simple word ‘come,’” Spurgeon once said. “‘Come’ is the very motto of the Gospel.”
It is estimated that Spurgeon’s thoughts were heard by more than 10 million people in almost 40 years of preaching, and now you can add about 5,000 more to that total thanks to Chapel at Grand Canyon University. (Here’s a slideshow.)
The quote also added a little something extra to the thoughts of Talley, Executive Pastor of Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix, underscoring his theme, “Come and See: Encountering Jesus.”
On a day featuring GCU alumni, Talley (Class of 2015, Christian studies) followed the music by a group of graduates by focusing on verses 35-42 from Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, which Talley likes to call a “divine invitation.”
Talley’s point: We must follow Jesus in three ways, and the first step is to acknowledge Him.
The passage from John tells of how John the Baptist acknowledged Jesus by saying, simply, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” It resulted in Peter meeting Christ and becoming one of His disciples.
That had an application in Spurgeon’s time. The microphone was invented in 1876, about 22 years after Spurgeon began preaching across England, and during a sound check in an auditorium he kept shouting those same words John had uttered nearly 2,000 years earlier. A janitor overheard them and was converted.
“His life was transformed, and Charles Spurgeon wasn’t even preaching a sermon,” Talley said. “He was just repeating a phrase over and over and over again.”
Similarly, Talley said, we must spend time with Jesus on a regular basis. As Jesus said in the 39th verse, “Come, and you will see,” and Peter and the others did indeed spend the rest of the day – and the rest of their lives – with Him at their side.
Spurgeon put it this way: “Have your heart right with Christ, and He will visit you often, and so turn weekdays into Sundays, meals into sacraments, homes into temples and earth into heaven.”
Talley listed several means of keeping Jesus front and center in your mind.
First, there’s prayer, which Talley called “humble communication with God.” You can pray simply by listening through meditation and solitude.
“Prayer may be hard for a lot of you for various, different reasons, but it is the language of God,” Talley said. “And it’s a doorway to us spending time with Him.”
The second is just as simple: reading the Bible or listening to it on an app.
“You’ve got to get the Word of God in you so you can get the God of the Word,” Talley said.
Finally, there’s community, which usually means joining a church. The pandemic curtailed that, Talley noted, but it’s critical because it puts you with people “that can pray for you, that can sharpen you, that can hold you accountable. … When we’re in the midst of God’s people, God is there.”
That brought Talley to his last way of following Jesus: telling others about Him.
He told his own story of how a neighbor shared the message when Talley was 19. Talley, in turn, went to his brother right away and did the same thing. It led to his role today.
“Following Jesus means we actually open up our mouths and share the message – boldly,” Talley said. “And, yes, you’ll get ridiculed. Yes, people will laugh at you. Yes, you will be misunderstood. But God’s Word will never come back void.
“And you can be used as a vessel, you can be used as a tool to help somebody have their life transformed. Because encountering Jesus leads to transformation.”
Spurgeon succinctly put it this way:
“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”
In closing, Talley pointed to the words of Psalm 66:5:
Come and see what God has done,
His awesome deeds for mankind!
“My encouragement is simply this: Come and see,” he said. “There’s an invitation to being in the family of God through faith and repentance, to not leaning on your own understanding but leaning on the understanding of God. …
“Come and see with your depression that you have.
“Come and see with your anxiety that you have.
“Come and see with the doubts that you have.
“Come and see with what happened to you when you were a little boy or a little girl that nobody knows about.
“Come and see and taste the Lord is good. Come into His grace and presence and mercy. Surrender yourself to Him. Because when you encounter Him, you won’t be the same.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
To hear the music of the alumni band (Chris Jennings, Jeanette Plasencio, Brandon Bellerson, Chandler Kruse, Thaddeus Johnson, Zach Alexander, Dylan Elliott and Ryan Buckland) and John Talley’s talk in its entirety, click here. To find out more about Talley’s teachings, go to jtthinks.com.
The Gathering (7 p.m. Tuesday, Antelope Gymnasium): Prayer Night (The Sanctuary on Thursday is canceled because of Veterans Day)
Next Chapel speaker (11 a.m. Monday): Jason Fritz, Illuminate Community Church, Scottsdale