They may know that my youngest brother, Cliff, is the lead singer in one of the up and coming Christian alternative bands. Then they meet me and say that my parents did great with two out of three. Kidding.
They ask what our parents did that influenced the three of us to end up in Christian work. Sometimes the questioner takes out a pen or pencil for the purpose of recording the great wisdom. But is it very simple. My parents said a couple of important yeses and they stood behind them. They said yes to developing a deep and dynamic relationship with God. That was their top priority. Secondly, they said yes to us.
We were right behind their relationship. I knew it was God first, their marriage next and that we came in third. It meant the world to my brothers and I. I have found out that if we say yes to everything, that we become over-committed, over-scheduled and over-stimulated and we will blow a gasket.
To reach people we must be shark smart. Hence we must shark-proof our lives and the church. Yes, we will still inevitably face some, but if they are swarming our boat, something is very wrong! Far too many Christians and too many churches are in denial. They allow the sharks to swim freely disguised as porpoises and dolphins. We must not allow these apex predators, these cannibals, to eat up and consume our fish! Fellowship Church fishes for the thrill of seeing people come to Christ. I want it to be a dangerous church. I want hell to tremble every weekend as we gather for corporate worship. When we get out of bed, I want every demon in hell to freak out as our feet hit the floor! This is not just what I want—it’s what God wants. Follower’s fish! Are you fishing?
When brand new believers come to Jesus, hooked on the gospel, we must protect them from the sharks. At Fellowship Church, we are primarily in the fishing business, but we are also in the shark removal business. We have been shark-proofing our church for twenty-five years, and I pray we never lose our passion of fishing for men, and the thrill of seeing someone caught by the mercy and grace of God. Let’s never forget the feeling of seeing others being attracted by the blood of Jesus! Remember, when we disparage the grace of God, we begin to attack the work of God. And finally, may we never trivialize what Jesus said immediately before His ascension: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
I have improved in this area by the grace of God, and because I spend time with Him daily, and am sensitive to the elbowing of the Holy Spirit. Are you saying yes to your spouse? Are you saying yes to your kids? How about it parents?
Are you most concerned about setting sale records at work, and being a five handicap golfer or are you saying that you will spend quality time with your family and that you will show them that your yes means yes.
I read a while ago that the toughest problems children have to deal with are broken promises from their parents. “Someday I will take you fishing.” “Someday we will go outside and throw a football around.” “Someday I will take you camping.” Let your yes be yes.
People ask me a lot about my background, specifically about my parents. They may know that my middle brother, Ben, 34, is a pastor of the largest singles area in any church in the country and the only guy with a nationally syndicated Christian talk show just for singles.
But I felt nudge and when I couldn’t stand it any more, I said, “Lisa, I am sorry. I was totally wrong and I want to apologize to you Laurie, to you Landra, to you EJ, and to you Lee Beth.
I said a hurtful thing to your Mom and I was wrong. These words were tough to say but I am glad that I said them. Because I sincerely believe that words like this mark our children more then anything that we could ever tell them or more than anything that we could ever give them. They saw commitment.
They saw conflict resolution. They saw love. And they saw life lived on the rugged plains of reality.
Now don’t sit there an say, “Oh, I bet he is just a perfect husband. He is a pastor.” No, I am a fellow struggler like you. But I will tell you one thing.
Also wanna meet, I want you to meet Adhonai. Adhonai. This word Adhonai has to do with dominion. Its much easier for us to call God El Shaddai to pour forth than it is to call him Adhonai, dominion. The implications of, of this name, Adhonai, has to do with, with, ugh, dominion. It has to do with stewardship; it has to do with management. In other words, this name carries forth with it that God owns it all, thus I’m not an owner. I am a manager.
Now let that settle in. I’m not an owner; I’m a manager. Some of you walked in here today thinking you have stuff. You don’t have jack! You don’t own anything. I’ve done a lot of funerals and I’ve never seen a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse. It’s not gonna happen. (audience laughter) When you clock out, it’s just you, baby. Yeah, but how about this or that? You don’t have a thing. Now here’s what’s so funny.
People spend all this time trying to stack up all the stuff. And that’s cool if you have stuff, but, but what’s the meaning of life? To do deals and die? Is that it? I recreate, propriate, and then clock out? That’s, that’s the meaning of life? The meaning of life is to worship. God does not exist for us, we exist for God. We can’t make God do what we want; we are a mirror of his majesty.
Everything we do, say, touch and feel should be an act of worship. How we manage our stuff, our tangible stuff, and how we manage our stuff, our intangible stuff matters to God. How you steward and how I steward my gifts and abilities and aptitudes; how you steward and I steward my money, and my home, and cars and all that stuff, that matters to God.
No. A personal relationship is what I try to communicate. And also, I try to communicate the implications of that of following Jesus. I say following Christ is like marriage. You say, “I do,” and you don’t realize the implications of that decision until later on. I’ve been married for almost 25 years and I’m still discovering the implications of that decision. The same is true with Jesus Christ. You receive Christ and you realize the implications of that as you walk and talk and live in sync with him.
The second goal in my life is to show people that they matter. You matter to God. You’re not an after thought. You’re not an accident. You’re a one of a kind. You have unique gifts and abilities and aptitudes and talents that no one else has. You have something to bring to the table that I can’t bring to the table. I have something to bring to the table that you can’t bring to the table.
Well, how do I discover that? I discover that by this vertical thing. I have a passion for props. When I get my primary props from God, I’m on my way. But let me add to the definition.
A healthy self-esteem is seeing myself the way God sees me, but it also is surrounding myself with the right “they.” Because the right “they” give me the secondary props. God gives me the primary props. The right “they” gives me the secondary props. And the right “they” reflect Jesus back to me and they encourage me and support me to look vertically to Jesus.
Who are “they” in your life? You reflect they; they reflect you. If you’ve got the wrong “they” in your life you don’t know who you are. You have no clue about your identity. If you’ve got the right “they” in your life, I’ll bet cash money that you know who you are because they’re pointing you to Jesus Christ.
You know what happened to me the other day? It was kind of crazy. I was speaking at a conference. It was about two months ago, in fact, and while I was at the conference I met this guy and we were just talking and he said, “Hey Ed, can I borrow your pen?” Now, for most people that is not a big question, I mean, that’s not a big deal. But for me, it is pretty major because I love pens.
I’m a frustrated artist. I majored in the fine arts. I collect pens. I don’t like to give my pens to other people to use. I am just kind of weird about the pens. So he asked me, “Hey, can I borrow your pen?” So begrudgingly, I took the pen out of my briefcase and gave it to him.
I had kind of this white knuckle grip on the pen. He took the pen and began to write with it. And I was thinking to myself, “He is bearing down too hard.” Then, he put the cap back on the pen and looked at me and he said, “This is a nice pen.” I heard a little voice inside of me say, “Give him the pen. Give him the pen.” And I said to the little voice, “No, I like the pen. I need the pen. I have to write with the pen.”
So I took the pen away from him, put it in my briefcase in a special slot reserved for my special pens, closed my briefcase, and went on throughout the day. Well, that night in the hotel room I was thinking, “You know what? I should have given the guy the pen. I mean, what’s a pen? Yeah, it’s an expensive pen. The pen cost like 90‑something dollars. I should have given him the pen. I should have blessed the guy with the pen, but I said, ‘No.’ ”
How many of you know what a gar is? A gar fish? You know, a fish with giant teeth?
ILLUS: Friday, I went fishing for a gar and a friend of mine hooked a big one. This gar was right under 6 feet long. So I grabbed the gar’s bill with these gloves and of course a gar has teeth all over the bill. That’s why I had gloves on. And I was holding onto this big fish, and the fish began to thrash and, well, I have a serious gar scar now.
You see all of the teeth? He busted a blood vessel. You know you’re a redneck if you have been bitten by a gar. The lesson is, don’t hold onto a gar. You’ll pay for it.
Friday was kind of a weird day. I kayaked after my gar injury and after I talked to my doctor and I was putting my kayak up, I fell off of a rock about 4 feet and totally messed my knee up and I fell into a fire ant bed. I have fire ant bites all over my legs.
Let’s talk about change. That’s why we’re here, right? We can’t change unless we admit that we can’t. We’ve got to say, “I can’t change.” Once we do that, then we’re on our way to change. A lot of us have played this game. I have played it and so have you. The cover up game.
We’ve covered up stuff. What are you covering up right now? If we could really look into your heart of hearts, what are you covering? Maybe you’re saying, “Well, anger. I rage on people. I have this toxicity about me. I have tried to count to ten. I have discovered this anger management book. But, you know what, it’s not really working for me.”
Others are like, “Okay, substance abuse is my situation. I’m covering up this abuse with some sort of substance and no one really knows my whole situation, my secret.” Others here could be addicted to sex or food or envy. Maybe that’s your deal.
God’s way works. When we begin to tithe, and I don’t care how far in debt you are, God will supernaturally show up and bless you and give you the discipline to live by a plan. So bring it.
The second one is, sweep it. Do that with me. Sweep it. Start saving money. Save, save, save. How many people in here go to Fivebucks? I’m sorry, I mean Starbucks. And I like Starbucks. I think coffee is God’s drink to man. I love it. If you are going to Starbucks, you are going to spend $5. I am not hating on Starbucks, I like Starbucks, but let me give you an example. Let’s say you like a triple shot latte, nonfat. That’s going to cost you $5. Well, let’s just say you decide for the next 40 years to forego the triple shot, nonfat latte. Let’s say you took that $5 and you swept into an interest bearing account. And let’s say that account kicked off 10% interest. Let’s say you’ve got $5, that is $35 a week, about $150 a month. In 40 years you would have a grand total of, I have to read this number, I did the math last night, $948,611. I will say it again. $948,611!
I am just giving you a Starbucks example. That is just $5 a day. Think of what you could do with 2% of your income, 3% of your income, 10% of your income. Sweep it, sweep it, sweep it. Because remember Proverbs 13:11? He who gathers money little by little makes it grow. Also, Proverbs says, “Go to the ant…” You know what the ant does? We all have ants everywhere. Ants store stuff up. And that’s what we’re doing as we’re involved with this.
That’s interesting and as you look through Scripture, too, there’s a power in this whole financial thing, in this whole transaction thing with God. We see it in Genesis. We see it throughout the New Testament, this transaction, this business stuff. Everything’s about finances. Jesus talked more about money than he talked about Heaven or Hell. Eighteen of the 38 parables are all about money. Jesus was always talking about money. God is talking about money a lot. Why? Well, God knew that I would struggle with it. He knew you would struggle with it. There’s something about something that’s tangible that kind of messes us up. It kind of freaks us out.
Jesus said one day in Matthew 6: 21, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Wow! Where your treasure is that’s where my heart’s going to be. So God’s saying, Ed okay you say you trust me. You say you don’t lean on your own understanding. You say you acknowledge me in your ways, show me the money. Show me the money. And throughout Scripture we see the power of this principle. We see the power of God’s portion. Later on it was called the tithe.
What does “tithe” mean? “Tithe” means “tent.” Tent. Everything I make or you make should be brought where? To the house of worship. We are not giving. I hope you know I’m not talking about giving. I am not talking about giving. I’m talking about bringing. The Bible says we’re to bring the tithe, God’s portion, to where? The local house of worship. That’s what we’re to do. And it’s interesting to see how many blessings are tied into this whole tithing thing.