As we get outside of ourselves and bless others, we are blessed. And that’s what it means to live life on an HNL, a ‘hole ‘notha level. God is teaching me constantly about this principal using little things, insignificant things, to hammer this huge concept home.
Well, here is what I have discovered as I have lived my life of adventure with God. I have discovered that I am not an owner; I am simply a manager. Have you discovered that? Sure in your heart of hearts you call yourself a Christ-follower. And if you’re not a Christ-follower, listen, but you don’t understand what I’m saying.
If you’re a Christ follower, though, you don’t own jack. “Well, Ed, yes I do, man. I own my house. I own this building. I own my car.” Oh, really? Well do this for me. Stop paying taxes and see what happens. Oh, you own your land? Really? You own that building? Okay, just don’t pay taxes. You don’t own anything nor do I.
Everything has been given to us by the grace of God, every single thing we have. That’s why every single financial decision that we make is a spiritual decision. Every single financial decision that we make—no matter how small, no matter how large—is significant. And it is spiritual because scripture tells us time and time again, one of the major ways to tell if Jesus is number one, if he is running the show, if he is driving the car, if he is in the corner office, is to just look at our money.
Because think about the city, Jericho, the first, there’s power in the first. God gave his first, right? We’re to give the first fruits, the first born throughout scripture and the first portion of our income to the dream center, to the church. Because God says when we honor him with the first he’s going to bless the rest. So a long time ago I knew I had a choice. Okay Ed, you live under cursing or blessing. You bring the first to the dream center and God’s going to bless the rest or you go Achan and hide it and keep it for yourself and you’re cursed. Let me think for a second. I’ll take the blessing. How about you? How about you? It’s a tangible reminder and test to see if God is number one.
And you want to talk about momentum? That’s it. You want to talk about anticipation? That’s it. God showing up in intangible and tangible ways. You want to talk about engagement, the fight, the faith fight? We’re talking about it right here. You’re talking about righteousness, holiness, purity? It’s right here. It’s a battle. You want to talk about development? It is right here in this dreamventory that we have gone through tonight.
#4 Be Flexible. Lisa and I run together approximately four times a week and we always stretch beforehand to increase our flexibility. Otherwise, we might damage a hamstring or knee. God is in the stretching for flexibility business. When on a peace-producing mission, He stretches us to become more flexible. In fact, inflexibility is one of the leading causes of divorce and relational turmoil in our world today. James 3:17 says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds if it is whole-hearted and straight forward and sincere”. Whether you are married or single, there are five areas of conflict: money, sex, in-laws, your schedule, and your children’s schedule. That’s it. Know upfront these areas will be filled with conflict, so handle them biblically, and be willing to compromise. Today, thank God for your increased flexibility, and remember He always stretches us before a run.
Dad told me that the man was kind of shaky when he read the words. “Wither shall I go from thy spirit, or wither shall I flee from thy presence. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there, if I make my bed in…” But the man couldn’t go on. Dad took the Bible from him and read, “…if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there.” Then Dad looked at him and said, “Your problem is not that you can’t find God. Your problem is that you can’t get away from God.” Then he led him in a prayer of forgiveness and repentance.
We serve a God who follows. We serve a God who pursues and subdues. Also, this GM principle flows in our lives. It follows us but it also flows. You see, goodness and mercy flows to and should flow through my life, my spirit, my personality, my vocabulary, my life style to others. And I ask you this question. Is your life a reservoir of restraint that stops and stagnates goodness and mercy? Or is it a river, just flowing? Are you leaving that in your trail? Are you marking others with it?
Think about your relationships. Think about your conversations. Think about the people you come in contact with on a weekly basis. Can you say with confidence, goodness and mercy is left behind. That is me. That is my life. That is my legacy. That is my mark. That is my sheep impact.
As I have been studying sheep over the past six weeks, I found out something really interesting. Sheep have the potential to be the worst livestock imaginable. If you study pastureland across the planet, much of it has been ruined beyond repair because of mismanaged, misguided sheep.
I know Point B is there but this seems easier so I’m just going to stay here, God.” Then we go around and around. We get dizzy and say, “Wow, look at all the time I have wasted. I’ll go back to your way, God.” We crash through another quitting point and go, “I’m finally here at point B!” Why in the world didn’t we go straight in the first place? Why did we take the detour? Because it’s the easy way, we thought. It’s the simple way. It’s the path of least resistance, we thought. Yet, we should have done it God’s way. That’s what Noah did and that option is available to everyone. If we do it God’s way, if we build in space to hear God’s voice and to obey his truth, live out his endurance, then you will see and recognize God’s timing. Did you hear that? It’s very important that we understand God’s timing. My timing is my timing. I want things done now. I want this done now. I want that done now. You are the same way. As Christians, we have got to sync up with God’s timetable.
About fifteen years ago, I did a summer program for NBA players at our gymnasium in our church. A friend of mine and I had this deal where we would spend about two hours with all these NBA players. I would do a little Bible study for them and they would play basketball. I would always set the gym up at about 2:00. After the second week, I noticed that the guys would never show up at 2:00. They would always show up at 3:00. I thought, “That’s weird. I say two, and they are here at three.” Finally, I got enough guts to walk up to these towering giants and say, “Hey, you guys are always an hour late. What’s the deal?”
I was exposed to a lot of people who were loaded. I’m not talking about just a few millions, I am talking about big bucks.
Now and then while driving around the metroplex I will turn to my wife, Lisa, and say the words that guys hate to say the most, “I’m lost.” Guys, we despise those words, don’t we, because we are saying we are clueless, out of control, have no sense of where we are going. Usually after a period of driving around in my lostness, my sweet wife will turn to me and smile and say, “Honey, why don’t we stop and ask for directions?” I will grab the wheel and reply, “No, I can find the way. Surely I will know where I am going after awhile. Just be quiet for a bit.” And I continue to linger in my lostness. I will admit it right here on this stage; I am a directionally-challenged male. I really am.
Ed Young Pastor stated that you know Jesus Christ, Himself, talked a lot about sin. But He talked even more about a subject that most people rarely teach about or discuss. About lostness then He did sinfulness. Now all of us will admit that we are sinners. We say that we have committed moral turnovers, messed up, fallen short of God’s standard of goodness. But few of us will come clean and admit that we are lost. In Luke 15 Jesus told three stories in rapid-fire succession about our lostness.
Ed Young Blog stated that before we get into these stories which are profound and phenomenal in their depth, let’s look at the context of this exciting chapter. If you have your Bibles, turn to Luke 15:1-2. If you don’t, just listen to me and I think you will find the context extremely provoking. Luke 15:1. “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
From time to time we will take our megaphone and announce a mess up. But then we will get back into the tower and catch a few rays. Dads, it is fine to be up in the tower now and then. But we have got to climb down from the tower and get into the midst of the action. This Bible verse means that we must not arbitrarily assert our authority over the children.
Also, what do you do when you feel an unsportsmanlike conduct call coming on? What do you do when you are tempted to throw down the head set? What do you do? Do you discipline? No, because you will be too harsh. You hand off the situation. You hand off your child or leave the premises to regain your composure. “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Then huddle with your spouse concerning the situation. But make sure that you present balance and unity. If you don’t, you are setting yourself for major, major problems.
Although it is hard to do, you have got to apologize to your children when you mess up. We may go too far or not far enough. A lot of times we get it right, I think most of the times we do. But now and then we are going to mess up. Ask your children for forgiveness when you have gone too far. They know you have messed up. They are just waiting, wondering if Dad and Mom will come clean.
Some people may be saying to themselves that their kids are grown but that they messed up a long time ago. Parents, I don’t care how old your children are. Drop them a note this week. Pick up the phone and call them and say that you were wrong then. You may not realize it, but it matters to them.
Hey, boomers and busters, don’t whine and moan and point the finger of blame at your family of origin your whole life. “Well, my parents were not really good coaches and I am dysfunctional because of that.” We all come from dysfunctional families. We are all dysfunctional. None of us are perfect. Even if your parents will not or have not apologized to you and sought forgiveness, get down on your knees and tell God that you release them, forgive them.
And children, when your parents do the forgiveness work, accept it. The Bible says that if we do not accept their words of apology, why should Christ accept ours? Maintain a balanced coaching staff. Ephesians 6:4. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger….” Dads get particularly tempted. Dads like to stay up in the tower overlooking the field. We like to watch the action unfold and let our wives do most of the day to day discipline.
I truly believe the evil one puts about 4 or 5 leeches in all of our lives to literally drain us and suck the life out of us. They’re all over us. And we have to regularly pull the leeches out of our lives. If we’re not careful, we can spend so much energy, so much time, so many hours counseling them and talking to them and praying with them and reading Scripture to them that we’re just giving the most significant relationships in our lives leftovers. I think this is a great temptation for women. Women have a greater empathy and sympathy for people. They tend to listen to people more than men because men, we’re not as smart as women. So they begin to take on these “projects.” And they spend so much time, many times, with these releechenships, that they’re giving their husbands and their kids leftovers. And a lot of people don’t like to eat leftovers, if you hear me screaming.
Guys, we can fall in the same traps though—those draining relationships, those people who trip us up, those people who mess us around, those people who cause us to compromise. Releechenships. Who are you burning off of your life? How many leeches do you have right now as you think about your relational world, as you run through the Rolodex of the people in your life? Who are you systematically burning off of your life? I’m not saying you burn them. I’m not saying you diss them or treat them as lesser than. But we have to move toward people who encourage us, who lift us up, who replenish us.
A friend of mine told me several years ago something about relationships that I’ll never, ever, ever forget. He said, “Ed, there are basically three types of relationships. And you should have a balance of these in your life.”