Take just a couple of moments and turn around and get the names of three people around you right quick. Just say “Hi,” give them your name, then get their names. Three people. Now what if I ask you to recite those three names you just heard? Some of you could do it right quick, others would go, “Whoa, man…I, I cannot come up with those names.” That’s a whip, isn’t it, to meet someone and then a second later you can’t come up with their names. That’s crazy.
Names are unique. Names set us apart. What if we didn’t have names? I thought about that. What if we didn’t have names. Instead of saying, “Bill,” we’d say, “Hey, short bald guy who lives down the street.” We have names. Names set us apart. They distinguish us from others.
Have you ever been in this situation, maybe you’re talking with some friends and you see someone walk up and you can tell they wanna join the conversation. You lock eyes with them, you say, “Oh, I should know their name. I’ve forgotten their name.” And quickly, you have a couple of choices: (a) you can say, “You know what? I’ve forgotten your name and I’m an idiot,” or (b) you can say, to yourself, “Well, I’m not gonna say a word, and I hope they’ll introduce themselves to my friends. Then I’ll lie and say, ‘Oh, I thought you two knew each other.’”
What if you were talking to your friends and what if God himself walked up, could you introduce God? I was at a party this past Friday night and I was talking to the host of the party and a couple walked up and the host obviously knew them, introduced me to them, and then in about five sentences he gave me the essence of who these people were.
Look at verse 17 though. This is one of the classic verses of the Bible, one of my favorite lines. In the King James version it says he came to himself. But in this text out of the New International Version it says, “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’” You know, an empty stomach has a way of preaching to us, doesn’t it? He was beginning to smell from the stench of the pigs. He looked at himself and he couldn’t believe what he had done. He knew that his father’s servants had it better than he did. He began to feel bad about himself.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to destruction.”
A little over a year ago about forty of us here in this church boarded a Lufthanza 747 flight to the Middle East. A 747 is a huge plane, a complicated plane to fly, I am sure. What if, I took a five year old boy, maybe, for example, my son, EJ, from the pre-school area, escorted him in my car to DFW airport. What if I then put him in the captain’s seat of a Lufthanza 747 jumbo jet and told him, “EJ, fly the plane. You can do it, boy, come on, fly the plane.” Now all of you are saying to yourself that that word picture is ridiculous. There is no way a five year old boy can fly a 747, he is ill-equipped for the job. We do this when we thumb our noses at God,
? I am not talking about your aptitude, I am talking about your attitude. Is your attitude like Christ’s, humble, ready or is your attitude like the world’s, blaming. If you have the proper Christ-like attitude, you altitude will be phenomenal and you will be able to live on another plane, never, ever again playing the seductive, depressing, debilitating, disgusting Blame Game.
It looks so good, it looks so right but the destruction phase is brutal. “After he had spent everything, there was a sever famine in that whole country, and…” I love this text, “…he began to be in need.” Have you ever felt like you were really in need in a relationship? Have you ever felt like you were in need spiritually? Have you ever felt like you were in need financially? That is a tough situation. We are talking about in dire need here. This man was Jewish and he is going to do something that was detestable, that was the lowest of the low for a Jew to do. Follow with me in verse 15. This is almost unbelievable.
“So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.” Jews believed that pigs were unclean. Here is the prodigal son, the man who had the Range Rover chariot that was broken down, the man who had the designer clothes that were all tattered, the man who had to sell his jewelry to the pawn shop, working with pigs. And the Bible says that he wanted to eat the pods there were being fed to the pigs. In other words he was trying to elbow out Arnold Ziffle for some more food. In the mud and the mire of a pig sty. Our man has gone, that quickly, from the pinnacle to the pit.
Now if you are a believer, state the obvious that you are playing the Blame Game to your spouse, to your children, to your boss, to those people you know well. State the obvious. “I have been playing the Blame Game. I am wrong and I am sorry. No excuses, no alibis, no scapegoats, no reasons, no rationale, no explanations, it is because of me.” Stating the obvious.
The second finger, capture the moment. God tests us, you and me, to see will we blame or will we capture the moment as a teachable moment and grow because of it. Are you going to turn the time of testing into a time of temptation or will you keep it as a time of testing and grow because of it? Talk about capturing the moment, a true Kodak moment, one occurred for me a few days ago. A friend of mine asked me to go fishing. I went with him and he caught a 14 pound large mouth bass. We are talking about a sow, a lunker, a hog. It was a monster. He caught this fish which we later released, as I release all fish, but to lift her up I had to use two hands. We quickly put her in a bag with water and rushed to the dock and took photographs. We captured the moment. The moments, even the moments of testing, capture them. Take a snapshot of them and say, “God, I am going to use this. I want this to make a mark on my life. I am going to grow because of it.”
The third finger is, you have got to check the attitude. Constantly check your attitude because your attitude not your aptitude will determine your altitude when you are tested. What kind of attitude do you have?
So it’s paradoxical. On one end, we’re rushing to the altar. On the other hand, we’re rushing to divorce court. Yet, we still think about marriage. That’s the goal, that’s the agenda, that’s the deal.
By the way, how do you spell marriage? This is how you spell marriage: W‑O‑R‑K. Now some of you who are engaged and some of you singles are thinking, “What’s he talking about?” Yes, marriage is spelled w-o-r-k.
So we have to maintain a marital work ethic. If we’re going to close the door on divorce and open the door to marital fulfillment, we have to maintain a tireless marital work ethic. That’s what we have to do. So this message is not just, “How do I keep from divorce? How do I evade divorce?” It’s more than that. It’s more positive than that. It’s much more fulfilling than that. Yes, it is closing the door on divorce. But it’s also opening the door to true marital fulfillment.
We work to get married. And then once we’re married, a lot of us stop working. We end up working at something else. We’ll work on our connection with our kids; we’ll work on a relationship at the office; we’ll work on our golf game or work at playing tennis or work at decorating a house. So often, though, we forget to work on the foundation of the marriage.
I have discovered something: marriage is not the easiest thing, it’s the hardest thing. But so often, it can become the greatest thing if we do the hardest thing first.
Think about your job. You get up, have the coffee, rush to the office, you look as good as you can, you get there, you’re making calls, you’re taking initiative, you’re giving these ideas, you’re pitching innovations to this person and that person, you’re bagging clients and you’re doing the stuff. That’s work.
Hold it there. Do not move. Look at your fingers. If you are pointing at someone, how many fingers are pointing back at you. How many? Three. So we throw away the Blame Game and we take responsibility for our lives by doing three things, think about the three fingers. The first finger, we take responsibility for our lives by stating the obvious. What is the obvious? If you are outside the family of God, it is saying to God, “Lord, I am a sinner. I have messed up. I have fallen short. I want to fess up and own up to my sins. I admit to You that I have problems and it is because of me.” That is stating the obvious. That will not take God by surprise. The lies, the impure thoughts, the slander, the blame does not surprise God. God knows it and so do others. It is about time for many people here to state the obvious. “I am a sinner in need of a Savior. God, even though I have messed up and failed, I know You love me so much that you sent Jesus Christ to be my sin substitute and rise again and I receive what You did for me.” That is stating the obvious.
I kind of laugh when I am watching the Chicago Bulls play on television and the announcer says this when he is talking about Michael Jordan. “Michael is a great player.” Boy, that is a profound statement. “Michael Jordan is a great player.” Well that is obvious. You just stated the obvious, tell me something unique about Michael. I know he is a great player. So when you are stating the obvious, don’t expect everyone to act surprised.
“…For the accuser…accuses them before our God day and night…” He accuses those of us who know Christ personally day and night. Over and over and over. “They are not worthy, God. They are not worth it, God. They are sinners, God. Come on, God.” You know what God says? God laughs at the evil one. He laughs at the master of the Blame Game. He says, “They are mine. They are my children.” You see, when my four children were born, I cannot adequately describe the love and passion and joy we felt. There is nothing that my children can do to cut off our relationship biologically. They can rob banks, commit murders, you name it. They are still my children. They always will be. You come to know Jesus Christ personally, you are adopted into the family of God, I don’t care what you do from that moment on, there is nothing that can cause you to break that relationship, to leave that family. Yes, we can be out of fellowship with God due to sin but nothing can break that relationship. So when the evil one begins to point the finger of blame at you and you start blaming yourself, just call him a liar, an accuser. Just fold up the Blame Game, put the pieces away, take the box and throw it out. It may be a good visual for you to do when you go home, take the board game from your bulletin, wad it up and throw it in the trash. The Blame Game.
Now I want to do a little exercise for you, a little aerobic activity. I am going to count to three. When I say one, two, three, I want you to take your index finger and point to your neighbor. Now no eye gouging like on WWF. Just point. One, two, three.
Praise God. It is so wonderful. Nothing is wrong. Everything is A-OK.” That is a bunch of junk. No one has that attitude. But we did say, “God, we are not going to blame You. We are not going to point the finger of accusation at You. We are going to accept it because we know that You are allowing this, not causing this, allowing this to happen to mold us and to make us into stronger people for You.” God has taught me more when I am flat on my face then when I am riding high.
He works that way. Because we are hard headed and stubborn, we play the Blame Game with God.
We also play it with ourselves. You see, our favorite person to play the Blame Game with is someone who is quite sunburned, has slicked back hair and little horns. His name is D. Evil. And D. Evil will sit down with us and will play the Blame Game with us. He points that bony, sunburned finger in our face and says something like this. “You don’t deserve to be used by God. You don’t deserve to be in relationship with God. You don’t deserve to be married to this person. You don’t deserve to have this family. You don’t deserve to have this job. You don’t deserve…. You don’t deserve… The Bible says these words in John 8:44. “…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language (Lioneese), for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Revelation 12:10.
Every summer I try to take my son, who was here drumming earlier, on a little trip. This year we went to a Central American nation I will not mention and we had a true, true adventure. We boarded an American Airlines flight, flew three hours to this country and arrived in a city that’s pretty dangerous. This city’s known for a lot of crime and stuff. We jumped in a car and drove three hours into the interior of this place, spent the night in a small village, got up early the next morning, took all of our gear and threw it in the bottom of a wooden boat called a “panga.” And then we took this boat an hour out into the middle of the ocean. We stayed on an island.
Now, when I say island, totally get out of your mind a resort or sugar-white beaches and people waiting on you. When I say an island, think Gilligan’s Island. I’m talking about a mosquito-infested, rat-crawling, crab-crawling, boa constrictor–slithering place. It was roughing it with a capital R.
We stayed in these little shacks. And the shacks were so rickety that when the surf would break beneath our shack, the whole thing would lean. And these giant storms would come through at night and rain on us and rain through the windows. It was a very interesting place and the people that kind of ran this place were very interesting.
The guy who managed the place was a real character. And then there was a gentleman that worked for him named Gabriel. Gabriel, for some reason, got into a heated argument with the guy that he worked for, and Gabriel got so angry he stole this guy’s bottle of rum one morning and drank the entire bottle.
Now help me for a second… this car is not made to go four wheeling. I mean, as dumb as I am about cars, even I know that. This car is made for the freeway. But when defective daters engage in sex, down the road they get in trouble. The tires start spinning and they get deeper and deeper into it. And they have no discernment and the mud has covered their vehicle. They can’t see, they can’t make the right choice and they think they know the right score. But they are blinded by the power of sex and they end up hooking up with the wrong person.
That’s what we’re going to talk about in the next session. We’re going to talk about sex. So you need to be here and you need to tug a friend along, because I’m going to tell you what the Bible says about sex. And those here who are unmarried, I’m also going to tell you what the bible says concerning sex and the marriage bed, because sex is a holy and pure thing that should be done by one man and one woman in the confines of marriage, between God’s guidelines and guard rails. And the moment we go four wheeling, is the moment we’re just like this, “Oh yeah, I know the score! Yeah! She’s the one for me. He’s the one for me.” That’s next time.
Recognizing potential mates; that’s what it’s all about. Because God wants us to succeed, he wants us to hit on all cylinders, and he wants us to fly. And we can if we do it His way.