Discovering God’s Perspective
God’s desires and my desires; God’s wants and my wants have this beautiful collision in our stadium, in the stadium in our stomach. And suddenly, our wants and God’s wants sync up. And then can do what we ought to do so we can do what we want to do.
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That is precisely where God wants you. Our staff is always skeptical, if we give someone the invitation and say, “Hey, would you like to speak and maybe share a little bit?” And someone responds by saying this, “Speak at church on the stage? No problem, man, that’s a no brainer. I would love to do that, you know, that’s no big deal. I would be happy to do it.” We do the push back. Conversely, if we give someone the invitation, “Hey, would you like to maybe share a little bit?” and they say, “In church? Are you talking about speaking in public? Man, I don’t know. I don’t know if I could do that. That like wigs me out.” We say, “This is going to be great, because God is going to show up now.”
Blessing, and then you have the expansion, and then you have feeling out of control and like I am over my head, “God you are going to have to show up,” that is the way God designs it. People ask me all the time, “Ed, what is it like to speak in front of people?” I’ll tell you what it’s like. It’s scary. I always feel inadequate, outgunned, out manned, over my head. I am also scared. The day it becomes easy or flippant, or nonchalant, is the day I am going to say, “You know what? I’m not doing what God wants me to do.” We have got to understand something. God works in unusual ways. His math is mysterious. He wrote about it – God’s math is just odd.
I had dinner with a friend of mine the other night, a very successful businessman and, might I add, this guy is a brilliant mathematician. He is talking about numbers, percentages, and this and that. He is like way up here in the ozone, and I am way down here. I am horrible in math. The reason this guy is so successful is because he can do the numbers. He has that unusual ability to do it. That’s the way God works. We are like down here. We think this math will do it, that math will do it, our math. God is on another planet. He’s in the ozone.
Now if I had been Noah, I think after about 30 or 40 years, I would have checked it in, how about you? Do you think he ever had the desire to quit? I bet he did.
I put a minnow on my rod and reel and a minnow on my father’s rod and reel. I put them in the boat and engage in conversation with my friend. All of a sudden I see the cork begin to bob, bob. There isn’t a better sight is there, than that cork kind of going down. Boom. And I pick up my rod and reel. Whoa. A nice bass. He is jumping. And suddenly out of my peripheral vision I look and I see my father’s rod, with the speed of light hit the water. We are at the deepest point of the lake about 30 feet. I watch it sink. Gone. I begin to freak out. Oh, no. This is bad. And we kind of dragged the pond with hooks and lures. We could not get it. So I thought I would just neglect to tell him. I just won’t tell him. He doesn’t like to fish that much anyway and I don’t know, he will probably think that my bother messed around with it or something. He will forget about it.
Night he comes home for dinner. Every time he kind of looked toward the lake I though, oh no, here it goes. Weeks go by and I began to kind of perpetuate the sham by doing the Watergate thing and covering everything up. I felt guilty. But then I thought, no one knows. My friend, he won’t say a word. My brother doesn’t know. I’m fine.
One day, though, I couldn’t take it anymore, living with this guilt, and I walk in and say, “Dad, I want to tell you something. I took your rod and reel and it is in the bottom of the lake. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” Dad started to kind of laugh at me. He said, “Son, I knew that the rod and reel was gone and you took it. I just wanted to see how long it would take for you to come clean. I forgive you.” And he hugged me. He said, “Don’t worry about it. Just ask me the next time.”
OK, grow. OK, here is God’s vision for you.” But you have got to eat. Got to eat. That is what keeps me up at night.
You know what Elijah offered God on that show down at Carmel? Wood, water and a bull. Do you know what I have to offer God? The only thing I have to offer God, the only thing you’ve got to offer God, is wood, water and a bunch of bull. We’re sinners. We can’t do this stuff alone. We can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We can’t say, “I’m going to have the discipline, I’m going to have the courage, I’m going to have the convictions on my own.” We can’t do it! We’re got to say, “God, here’s my wood, here’s my water, here’s my bull. Here’s my sin, here’s my junk, engulf me by the power and the flame of your Holy Spirit.” Are you ready to say that? Are you ready to make that call?
I leave you with one question, a very simple one. How long will you, group three, waver? How long will you waver over those two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. If Baal is god, follow him. “But as for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord.” The zone is a place that is distinguished from the rest. Let’s say this is the zone. God is the Blessor. If we’re in the zone, we are blessed. And because we’re blessed, we can turn around and become blessings. If we’re in the zone, we realize God owns it all.
We don’t own it all, God owns it all. We’re just managers. We’re managers of the stuff God’s given us. What kind of stuff has God given us? He’s given us abilities and aptitudes and talents. And he’s also given us a certain amount of stuff. Some have a big pile of stuff here, others have a medium pile of stuff, others have a small, little bitty pile of stuff. We’re to manage it and to become stewards of the stuff. We don’t own the stuff. How do we live in the zone?
That is not right. When I fast, I end up wanting what God wants. And that is important. See the contrast? We want what we want. I want what I want and you want what you want. But God has different wants and desires for you and me. God’s wants and desires for our lives are larger than life.
Jesus said (John 10:10), “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” God wants us to want what he wants, because when we want what he wants, we can live larger than life. That is why we fast.
Jesus commands us to fast. It is not optional. He said, “Followers fast.” He assumed that we would fast.
In Ecclesiastes 4:12, Solomon said, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Last week I played the piano for you, a cord is made of three notes, right? Jesus said three things in Matthew 6 that we are to do—pray, give, fast.
Followers fast. Followers redirect their food source from the things of the earth, from material, to the stuff of God. Fasting helps me and you to realize the depth and the breadth of the power of our appetites, because the stomach is the epicenter of our appetites.
Touch your stomach. For some, it is big pat; for others, a small pat. But the stomach is powerful. The stomach represents our appetites. It represents greed and lust. It can represent anger and a lot of other things.
I remember this guy in psychology class in high school, Maslow. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? What did he say? People thought it was revolutionary. He said that man’s basics needs are food and water. Wow! Jesus said, several thousand years before Maslow was born, “I am the bread of life. I am the living water.”
Starbucks coffee in two different areas and it was calling my name. I was tempted, yet I did not drink the Starbucks. I didn’t.
It was funny, though. I got an email form a lady who wanted to remain anonymous. She said that she was going to a grocery store a few days ago and she was very proud of herself because she had been strict on the fast. She was thinking about the grocery store where she shops and the bakery with chocolate chip cookies the bakery makes. She said “Ed, this bakery makes the best cookies ever.” And she said in the email, “You know, I decided I was going to cheat on the fast. I had made up in my mind.”
But as she walked through the doors of the grocery store she saw, on display, my book, “Outrageous, Contagious Joy.” Talk about accountability! We are always watching you at Fellowship Church, wherever you are.
What is a fast? This might be your first time today and you are thinking, “What is fasting? Is fasting a diet; is it going without food?” No, it is more than that.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. It is redirecting our appetite heavenward. It is an appetite denying discipline. What does discipline mean? Well, discipline is doing what you ought to do so you can do what you want to do.
Fasting is all about God. It is when we redirect our food source heavenward. We turn it from the stuff that just sustains life to the source of life, you could say. That is what you could call a fast.
When I fast, I don’t fast to get what I want. Some people fast to get what they want. Some fast to get, get, get. They think, “Ok, I can turn God into a genie and make God do what I want him to do. So, if I fast I will get what I want.”
I knew that the fast was tough, but I did not know that it would affect attendance this much!
Did you guys make it ok? Man, watching the weather men and weather women you would think that this was like Antarctica or something. Talk about overreaction. It was hilarious. I woke up and Lisa and I were lying in bed watching this on television thinking, “Man, this must be horrible!” Then we walked outside and it was no problem. It is supposed to get bad later today, which is what they say, right? But who are they? Thanks for being here. This has been great. Give your self a round of applause.
Last time we did talk about fasting. Fasting is an adventure and fasting is fun. I have not fasted as much as I should have, and I am excited to be excited about this fast. Fast has its challenges, though. And we started the 21 day fast with a 24-hour liquid only fast. And I was in my house counting the minutes and seconds down to when I could break the fast. And the first thing in popped in my mouth was a grape. When I ate it, my taste buds were on point. It was like, “Halleluiah!” I was so excited.
I am not going to lie; it has been tough getting off caffeine. I love caffeine. I want to clap and cry. I had a caffeine headache that started in the back of my head and I had to go to bed early on Monday night. Then I did this new thing for my new book at the studio early Thursday morning. I had to get up early to be down there and these different talk shows would sound in and I had to think fast on my feet.
So guys, we’ve got to step up and show the love. We have to take the initiative and do this. Think about it, sign up, and I’m telling you some awesome things will happen.
Now what else do I tell you? How many engaged couples do we have? If you’re engaged, lift your hands. If you’re engaged or thinking about marriage, do you know we have a Nearlywed/ Newlywed class that we have taught here since the Vietnam War here at Fellowship? Lisa and I didn’t go to one, and I wish I could reverse time and I wish we could have gone to one of those things. They are taught by some phenomenal people, some Christian counselors right here at Fellowship Church.
We also have Divorce Recovery. I bet you the majority of us here have dealt with divorce in some way, shape, form or fashion. We have Divorce Recovery. It is one of the most exciting ministries here at Fellowship Church. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin. It is not. There is forgiveness and cleansing and you have an opportunity to do it right the next time. We have Divorce Recovery. I think we are in our second session in Divorce Recovery right here and you can start attending. Go to the website, go to the kiosk and ask, “Where’s divorce recovery?” We will point you to the way. Of course, I’ve already mentioned counseling. So those are some exciting things.
Next week—I wanted to do this today, but I can’t—next week we’re going to talk about the four horsemen of divorce. There are four predictors of divorce that I’ve discovered. And these horsemen are galloping. You have a great chance of walking and running through the door of divorce; however, there is some good news.
“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” He is already rehearsing what he is going to say to his father. He is in the mud, he is in the mire and not only is he feeling bad, he is saying, “OK, I will set out, I will go back, I will say to my father that I have sinned.” He didn’t offer excuses for why he did what he did. He didn’t say, “The reason I did this was because I didn’t receive counseling as a teenager.” He didn’t say, “The reason I did this was because I came from a dysfunctional family.” He called sin what it was. And then look at verse 20. “So he got up and went to his father.” Some of us here need to get up, out of that relationship. We need to get up out of that business deal. We need to get up and follow God and turn toward Him.
The delirious stage. The destruction stage. The decision stage. As I look across this handsome congregation, I see some people who appear to be agreeing with that, who want God to be the Director of their lives, but if the truth were known, beneath the veneer, beneath the exterior, beneath the facade, most of us have on a No Fear shirt, and our arms are crossed defiantly. We say, “I run this life. You don’t understand, I run it.” How can I challenge you to do something? I am going to challenge you to uncross your arms, to open up your palms toward heaven and say, “God, have Your way in my life.” Have you done that? The prodigal did that.
When we put on our No Fear Gear and jump into the cockpit of our vessel, sit in the captain’s seat and white knuckle the throttle and say, “God, I am going to fly this plane. I’ll determine my altitude. Thank you very much.” When we do that, when we exhibit that card-carrying, no-fear wearing, attitude-bearing, individualistic mentality, it is just a matter of time before we crash. It is not if, it is when. EJ is going to crash. I am going to crash and you are going to crash if we do it away from God. God is standing aside saying, “Let me fly, I am custom made to fly your craft. I am here to sit in the captain’s seat of your life. Won’t you let Me.?”
But we say, “No, no, no, no. I know how to handle this marriage problem alone. I know what to do in this dating relationship alone. I know what to do financially alone. I know how to invest this money alone. I know how to move or buy that house alone. I know what to do alone. The only bowing I am going to do, God, is before a full length mirror. Thank you.” And the tragedy is, many of us when we crash, will crash in eternity. We will meet God face to face one day and we will have to say to Him, “God, the theme song for my life was ‘I Did It My Way’” Or we will at God and say, “God, the only bowing I did was in front of the full length mirror. That was it for me.” We are going to crash. And the prodigal crashed into the destruction stage.