August 13-14, 2005
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 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 is 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. Needless to say, he was inebriated, intoxicated. Not only did he steal the guy’s bottle of rum, he also stole the guy’s kayak. He began to try to paddle this kayak away from this island, out in the middle of the ocean…fell out of the kayak, crawled back onto the kayak and began to paddle toward land. Now, on a motorized craft, it’s an hour trip from where we were to the mainland. By kayak, it’s seven hours.
I thought about poor Gabriel, drunk in the high seas, subject to sharks and even pirates in this area of the world. I thought, “What happened to Gabriel? Did he lose it? Yes, he did. I can’t believe he did this. This guy is nuts!”
And then throughout our trip, because I went with a couple of friends here at church, when something crazy would happen, we’d say, “Hey, man, have you gone Gabriel? Have you gone Gabriel?”
And that’s the question I want to ask you today. Have you gone Gabriel? I know I have before. I have jumped in the kayak, done the pushback; and I have become intoxicated with my own independence, inebriated with rebellion, and I paddled away from where I should be. I paddled away, and so have you, from authority. Have you gone Gabriel? Yes, you have.
Well, the mantra these days goes something like this: “I want to call my own shots. I want to run the show. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. It’s all about me. Who gives a flying flip about you? I’ve got to do what makes me feel good, what makes me look good. I am my boss. I am my own man. I am my own woman. I’m it.”
Why do we have that mentality? I know I struggle with it and so do you. Why do we have this rebellious-type vibe going on? What’s so interesting about it is the fact that so often rebellion and authority issues manifest themselves in unique ways. In other words, we go Gabriel in mundane ways.
Your boss is a jerk. You know it and so does everybody else. You work tirelessly for this guy. He never says, “Thank you.” He shows favoritism to everybody else but you. You turn the report in and he says, “Redo the report.” What’s your reaction? Do you do the pushback, jump in the kayak and go Gabriel? Do you rebel against him or do you submit to his authority?
You go out to eat. The waitress says, “Here’s your table.” You eye a table by the window. “That looks better,” you say. “Can we sit over there?” The waitress says, “I’m sorry, sir. That table is reserved.” What do we do? What do you do? What do I do? Do we do the pushback, jump in the kayak and go Gabriel? Do we rebel? Do we say, “Let me talk to the manager!” Or do we submit to her authority?
Your kid’s not getting the amount of playing time that she deserves on the select soccer team. You know she’s the best player on the team and this coach just will not put her into the game. What do you do? Do you go Gabriel? Do you rebel? Or do you submit to the coach’s authority?
You’re sixteen years old and your parents have set this thing called a curfew. Do you go Gabriel? Do you get into high drama and disrespect them and say, “I can’t believe it!” and “Everybody else …”? Do you do that? or do you say, “Mom, Dad, I submit to your authority. Thanks for setting the curfew at 10:30. I appreciate that.” [Laughter]
Everywhere we turn, we deal with authority issues. I do. So do you. Even in church we deal with authority issues. Today, when you pulled into the parking lot at Fellowship Church, you dealt with authority issues. The parkers are pointing one way. What did you do? Did you go, “I’m going the opposite direction. I’m parking over here.”
You walked into the atrium and we have incredible age-appropriate teaching for the little ones. And if you want to worship with your little ones, we have a family worship center over at another part of our campus. Did you try to sneak your baby into the adult worship service?
Authority issues. It’s amazing how we all deal with them and process them. But let me finally answer the question I posed earlier: Why do you deal with them? Why do I deal with them? Why do we have this tendency to do the pushback, jump in the kayak, and go Gabriel? Why do we do that?
Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, was the worship leader in the heavenlies. God is the God of love, and Lucifer had an opportunity of freedom of choice. He wanted to usurp God, to run the show, to call the shots. He tried to elevate himself above God. He went Gabriel.
Let’s pick up his dialogue in Isaiah 14:13-14, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
“I will be my own boss. I will call the shots. I will run the show. I deserve that. Those are my rights.” Does that sound familiar? Whew! That’s convicting.
And then you can turn over to 1 Samuel 15:23 (NKJV), “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” What is witchcraft? Witchcraft is partnering with the evil one. It’s literally trafficking with Satan.
Here’s a good question. What makes Satan Satan? Answer: The spirit of rebellion. So, when I’m rebellious, when you’re rebellious; when I do the push-back, when you do the pushback; when I jump in the kayak, when you jump in the kayak and we paddle away from authority, guess what? We have the spirit of the evil one operative in our lives. That’s scary stuff.
Authority issues. We deal with them. We process them. And throughout this study we’re going to find out something. We’re going to find out that if we have authority issues, ultimately we have an issue with God.
ADAM AND EVE
Adam and Eve were in the Garden. Everything was perfect and what happened? You’ll say, “Eve, the woman, that female, she ruined it! It was her fault!” Well, I beg to differ, because who was in authority? Who was the leader of the marriage, of the relationship? Adam! So if you want to point the finger of blame, yeah, you can point it at Eve. But the biggest finger of blame that you point should be at Adam. I hear the ladies saying, “Ah, that’s good. Girl, I like that, don’t you? Oh, that’s good!”
We’re going to, in this series, talk about authority in marriage. Woo! I can’t wait for the emails. This is going to be awesome! And this will be enlightening and liberating for the men and the women as we talk about authority in the home.
God always, always works through authority. That’s the way He speaks to us. That’s the way He leads us. That’s the way He deals with us. So we must get the authority issues down. If we have an authority issue, we have an issue with God.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL
The children of Israel had authority issues. God had placed His man Moses to be in authority over them. They followed him knowing that Moses was in authority before God, and they watched God perform all these miracles. They found themselves, the children of Israel, two million of them, on the edge of the Promised Land. God told them to send out twelve spies to do a secret reconnaissance mission. The spies came back and ten of the twelve spies said, “Oh, we can’t do it. Oh, there’s no way. It’s not going to happen.” And you could feel them doing the pushback, jumping in the kayak, and paddling away from the authority of their leader and, ultimately, the authority of God. And because of their authority issues, two million didn’t make it. Only two made it about 40 years later. Their names were Joshua and Caleb.
Do you remember Jonah, God’s running man? We’re talking about water and islands and stuff like that, so I thought I’d throw in Jonah. Man, he was into rebellion, wasn’t he? God said, “Jonah, go to Nineveh.” Jonah said, “Oh, I don’t like Nineveh. Those people over there are bad. They’re angry. I don’t dig that place. I want to go somewhere else.”
So Jonah went the opposite direction, jumped on a cruise ship; and because of his rebellion, he was thrown overboard and he spent three nights on a foam blubber mattress. Blubber—whale. The whale swallowed him, etc.
There’s a common thread in all of those stories, in all of those accounts. People often ask, “Okay, what’s the result of rebellion? What’s the result of authority issues? Where will it lead me? Where will it take me? What’s the pattern of my paddling? What kind of wake will it kick up?” Think about this.
Lucifer—a castaway from Heaven. Adam and Eve—castaway from the Garden of Eden. The children of Israel—castaway from The Promised Land. Jonah—castaway from the boat. Gilligan—a castaway! I just threw that in to see if you were listening.
Whenever we go Gabriel—watch this now—whenever we do the pushback, jump on the kayak, and paddle away; whenever we become intoxicated with our independence, inebriated with rebellion, what happens? We are going to subject ourselves to strong currents, to shark-infested waters, to pirates, to all sorts of problems. Some of the time? No. All of the time. We are signing up for confusion and static and chaos whenever we rebel against authority.
WHO IS THE “AUTHOR?”
Well, what’s the issue? You know, we’re talking about authority issues. It’s behind me. It’s everywhere you look. It’s on our worship guide. What is the issue? The issue is with the word “authority.” Say the word “authority” with me. One, two, three, “Authority.” The word author is in authority. Author.
God is the author of authority. I’ll say it again. He always works through authority, and we will never, ever, ever reach our ultimate position until we live a life of submission. Because in the Bible, Christianity is paradoxical. The way up is down. If you want to be great, become a servant. If you want to be first, be last. That’s what the Bible says. God is a God of authority. It’s in His nature and character.
The Trinity, for example, that’s who God is. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Three-in-one, one-in-three; co-existent and co-eternal. Co-creators. They’re equal in form. But in function, you have authority and submission going on. When Jesus lived on this earth, He submitted himself to the will of the Father, to the authority of the Father. The Holy Spirit submitted Himself to the will of the Son. They’re equal in form, but in function they’re unique. So in the very essence of who God is, we have authority and submission.
When Jesus was living on this earth, He lived here for 33 years, not only did He submit to God’s authority, He also submitted to the authorities on planet earth. He said stuff like this in Matthew 22:21. He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
The Apostle Paul thought he was his own authority before he became a Christ follower. His name was Saul. He was having Christians whacked. He was just killing them off. He was a brilliant guy, an intelligent guy from a real strong family. One day he had this close encounter with Jesus Christ, and Jesus changed his life. Paul, the Apostle Paul, Saint Paul you might know him, wrote out 75 percent of the New Testament. He understood, once he met Christ, what authority was all about. He understood that authority was all about God.
Here’s what he said in Romans 13:1, “Everyone….” Now who does that include? Everyone! “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ed. Are you talking about that jerk at work that I call my boss?” That’s what the Bible says. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ed. Are you talking about the waitress who will not let me sit at the table by the window?” That’s right. “Are you talking about the soccer coach who’s not going to play my daughter?” Yeah. “You mean my parents who set this ridiculous curfew?” Yeah. “You mean the parking guy at Fellowship Church? You mean that girl that passes out worship guides? What?” That’s right.
“For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Look at Romans 13:2, “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring”—this is scary—“judgment on themselves.” With each stroke of the paddle, we’re causing a bigger and bigger gap between ourselves and God.
So, we need to get under those things that God has put over us so we can get over those things that God has put under us. Because there are certain things God has put under us, but we’ll never know what those things are until we get under what God has put over us.
And if you didn’t understand what I just said, I promise you after four weeks, you’ll understand that statement. You’ll be like, “Okay, I get it now. Under, over. Over, under. Yeah, yeah. I got it, I got it, I got it.”
AUTHORITY IS ALL ABOUT THE UMBRELLA
Well, why would God put authority over me? That just sounds capricious and cruel. It sounds like He’s some cosmic killjoy. Why would God do that? You know, I’m a “why” guy. Why would God, our loving God, do such a thing?
IT PROVIDES ULTIMATE PROTECTION
Authority – and we need to download this – authority is all about protection. It’s not about dominance. God puts it there for our protection. He knows when we’re under authority, we’re going to be protected, we’re going to be purposeful and we’re going to be powerful. And He knows for us to reach – I’ll say it again – the ultimate position in life, we’ve got to live a life of submission, submission to authority.
The answer, though, lies in this umbrella. Are you an umbrella fella? I don’t really like umbrellas that much. I don’t carry them around and I don’t know why. I just don’t. If I’m playing golf or something, I might have one with me on my golf bag. But just to carry an umbrella around? That’s just not me. I’m just not an umbrella fella and I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t think it’s masculine or something. I don’t know. But I’ve paid the price because I have not carried umbrellas. And in this crazy Texas weather, I’ve been hammered by hail—ping, ping, ping, ping, ping. I have been soaked to the bone by rain. I just don’t carry an umbrella. My wife is awesome. She always carries an umbrella. And sometimes I’ll try to get underneath her umbrella, but you know, I’m kind of a big guy and I still get hammered.
Authority is all about the umbrella, especially God’s authority, because God has an authority structure. He always works through authority. It’s for our…what? Our protection. Now how idiotic would I look if I did this? [Ed holds the umbrella out to his side at arm’s length.] “Wow, it’s raining. I have this umbrella and I don’t know why in the world I can’t really see straight. I don’t know why in the world I’m being hammered by hail and pelted by all this rain. I just don’t know.”
You’d go, “Ed, man, have you lost your mind? Get underneath the umbrella.” God wants us to live underneath authority for our protection. Because once I get outside of God’s protection, what’s going to happen? I am subject now to elements that are so strong and so powerful they can mess me up. I am not tough enough, big enough, or bad enough to take these elements. But when I’m underneath God’s authority structure, I am protected. Isn’t God good? Isn’t He amazing?
I think back to my childhood. You know, we lived in the country on a dirt road, but finally the road was paved. And away from the road we had some woods and away from that we had a lake. And I grew up fishing. You know, I love to fish. It’s a biblical sport. Most of the disciples were fisherman, so I got into fishing at a very young age. And we had this boat that we got from K-Mart. Man, this thing would probably cost $1,200 today. At Bass Pro back then it was just like, $100 or something like that. But I had this boat.
Now, I’m an artist. I love to paint and stuff and I would watch all these fishing shows and, you know, I said to myself, “You know what? This boat needs to be painted. I need to paint this boat like one of these professional bass fishermen, like Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, or Bill Dance. I want my boat to look like that.”
So I said, “Dad, would you mind helping me take the boat out of the lake, through the woods, across the street, up the driveway, and into the back yard? Because I want to paint the boat.”
He said, “Son, I’d love to, but I can’t right now. I’ve got a meeting. I’ll be gone for about four or five hours. When I get back, I promise you, I’ll help you do it. But don’t, Ed, don’t touch the boat because it’s too big for you. Don’t touch the boat until I get back. You understand me?”
“Yes, Sir.” I was under his authority. Well, take a wild stab at what happened. Two hours go by. “Man, I don’t like this authority stuff.” Three hours. “Man, I’m hot under here [under the umbrella]. I know what I could do. Dad doesn’t know that much about boats or fishing anyway….” So I went to the lake.
I’ll never forget it. I grabbed that boat and drug it through the woods. And as I began to drag the boat across our street, I saw some sparks flying up in the back. I didn’t think anything about it, you know? And then I drug it all the way up our driveway and saw some more sparks. And I put it in the yard and got my paints out and started painting and painting and painting and painting and painting.
Dad pulls up in his car. “Ed? What are you doing, son? I told you very clearly to wait. I wanted to help you. You disobeyed me.”
“Yeah, Dad, but look. This is so cool, what I painted.”
“Let me see the boat. How’d you get the boat up here?”
“Ah, well, you know, I just drug it.”
“Across the street into the driveway?”
And dad takes a look at the boat. He goes, “What’s that in the back?”
I looked, and to my shock and horror there was a giant, big, honkin’ hole in the bottom of my boat. I had that boat for five more years. I tried to repair that hole. But it never really worked right. The boat would always take on water. I would go out and fish for a while, and then after about 30 minutes, come back and bail water. Fish some more, come back, bail some more water.
What happened? I got out from under the authority of my father. I did my own deal. And some of you right now know what I’m talking about and you’re saying, “Ed, man, my boat is sinking, dude. I got this hole and I’m taking on water and I’m trying to do this and I’m trying to do that. Yet, I’m by myself paddling back to shore and I’m always just bailing water and trying to stay afloat.”
The reason is authority. The reason is because you’ve got authority issues. God has it there for your protection. Come underneath God’s authority. See who you are before God. The church is God’s authority. We’re to be underneath the protection of the church. God wants us to do life together. The church is a colossal collection of moral foul-ups. We’re all fallen, we’re all fallible. We’ve been saved by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. We’re to be under the protection of the church. We’re to worship corporately together. We’re to serve in the church. We should revolve our social life, our relational life, around the church.
I’ve seen this happen so often in my life. A family will be a part of the church. They’ll be doing life in the church. They’ll be serving in the church, attending church consistently and then one day they make a little bling-age, a little bit of sweet moola, and then they step out from underneath the authority of the church. They buy the house in the mountains or at the shore or they buy the boat or whatever. On the weekends, now, they’re always chasing fun fixes. They’re always doing this; they’re always doing that. And then, suddenly, they have some problems in their marriage. And then they don’t understand why their kids are rebelling. Yet, they’ve rebelled against the authority of God. They’ve rebelled against the authority of this church. And you know the rest of the story.
God has placed authority here for our protection. Distance is in every realm. Once we get under the elements, we’re subjecting ourselves to temptations, to forces, to things that’ll trip us up and cause holes in our crafts. It’s not worth it. God’s authority is for our protection.
IT ACCELERATES MY MATURITY
Here’s something else God’s authority does—another reason for it. Not only does it protect us, but it also accelerates us. It grows us up, it matures us rapidly. Do you want to become a mature person? Do you want to become a sold-out believer? Do you want to discover your ultimate position? It’s about submission. It’s about submitting to the authority of God. God has placed authority figures in all of our lives.
As I look back in the rearview mirror of my life, I think about teachers and professors and coaches and pastors and bosses. I’ve thought about all of these authority figures that God has placed in my life, all these men and women. And many times I’ve said, “Oh, I cannot believe she’s so unfair. She’s so this, she’s so that. I can’t believe him. This deal did not work out like I thought it would.”
Let me tell you something. Those leaders in your life and mine right now have been placed there by God Himself. They either know it or they’re clueless about it. But whether they know it or they’re clueless, God is using them to mold and shape you and me into the kind of people he wants us to become.
So the question is this: Do you stay under the authority or God or not? Maybe you’re wondering, “Where…where…where…where is God? What are you talking about, Ed?”
Well, God is in the situation with your boss. He’s in the situation with that waitress. He’s in the situation with your daughter’s select soccer coach. He’s in the situation with the curfew. He’s in the situation with the parker or the greeter.
God’s in those situations. And He’s using those to shape us and to mold us and to make us into the kind of people that He wants us to become. That is so powerful. God always works through authority. Always, always, always. So it provides protection and it matures me.
IT GIVES ME A HEIGHTENED SENSE OF UNIQUENESS
Another great purpose behind God’s authority is that it shows me my uniqueness before God. It shows me who I am before God; that I’m a Picasso, a Renoir, a Monet.
There’s no way you’ll discover who you are until you understand the authority of God. I just wrote a book called “You! The Journey to the Center of Your Worth.” And here’s why I wrote the book. I wrote the book because so many people have a whacked self-esteem. So many people see their self-esteem this way. They see their self-esteem horizontally. They see themselves the way others look at them. And if I see myself the way you look at me, I’ll have a whacked self-esteem, because I’m always trying to please and appease others.
“Oh, oh. Okay, he thinks this and she thinks that and that group over there—Oh, wow….” But look at me. [Again, Ed holds the umbrella out to the side at arm’s length.] I look like an idiot. Look. And it’s raining on me and I’m being hammered with hail. I can’t even look up to see myself before God. All I can see are the people horizontally.
Well, a great self-esteem is seeing yourself vertically. I get under God’s authority, and once I’m under God’s authority, it can rain and hail and all this stuff. It can rain cats and dogs, but guess what? I can see clearly. I see that I’m made in the image of God, that I’m not junk and that I’m one of a kind. No one has my skill set, my laugh, my personality, my walk, my talk. This is incredible. I see myself the way God sees me—nothing more, nothing less. And then I see these authority structures that God has placed in my life to mold and shape me into a Renoir, a Monet, a Picasso.
Don’t you see the genius of God? Don’t you see the brilliance of God? Don’t you see how God’s a God of order and structure? God’s all about authority. He’s all about authority.
IT GIVES ME A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO WORSHIP
There’s even another purpose that I want to tell you about when I think about the authority of God. It gives me a holistic approach to worship. When I’m under God’s authority, when I’m under His chain of command, it gives me a holistic view of worship.
What is worship? Worship is a 24/7 deal. Everything I do should be an act of worship. I’m under God’s authority, so everything—every single thing I do—should be an act of worship.
But we compartmentalize it, don’t we. [Ed opens the umbrella.] We say, “Okay, when I’m with these guys, these Christian guys, okay. [Ed closes the umbrella] But, you know, when I’m with, you now, these other guys. [Ed opens the umbrella] Oh, when I’m with those girls, oh yeah. These are good girls. Oh, these are good girls. [Ed closes the umbrella] But when I’m with, you know, some other girls, well, we’ll go to other places and talk about other stuff.”
Worship is an all-encompassing thing. It totally dominates everything we’re about, because we understand we’re glorifying and pleasing and reflecting the nature and the character of God.
“Wait, wait a minute, Ed. Okay. If I’m under this authority deal, what if someone is asking me to do stuff that is immoral, illegal, or against God’s word?” We’ll talk about that next time. But generally speaking, most of the leaders that we deal with, most of the authority structures that we deal with, are not asking us to do stuff that’s illegal or immoral or against God’s word.
But so often, just because it’s hard, we say, “Oh, it’s too hard. I’m going to leave. Oh, it’s too hard. I’m going to leave.” And then we say, “Man, I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to be my own boss. I’m going to call my own shots.” And we’re signing up for waves and sharks and pirates. And we’re signing up for losing our life. And we don’t want to go there. We want to be under the authority of God.
Maybe some of you are here and you’ve never, ever submitted yourself to Jesus Christ. Have you ever stopped and realized that you’re wired, that you’re made to live for Him? Have you ever wondered that maybe the reason that you’re experiencing roadblock after roadblock is because you’ve never gotten beneath or under His authority?
Today you can make that decision by saying, “Jesus Christ, I give my life to you. You run the show. I submit to You. I turn from my junk and turn to You. I want to get and live under Your authority, because I know that’s the best possible position.”
You wonder, “Well, man, why isn’t my life blessed?” God is not going to bless your life or mine until we’re positionally in the blessed place, until positionally we’re under His authority.
So here’s some quick homework. Over the next week I want you to go on a search for the missing link. God always works through a chain of command. You’re a missing link, and I’m a missing link. So if I go to the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the health club; if I go to the board meeting, if I’m on a job site, if I’m working out with a football team, whatever I’m doing and whatever I’m about, there’s a chain of command that God has placed there. I’m a link. I find the missing link, get under it, and that is where God wants me to be. And I see that it’s protection. I see that it’s powerful. I see that it’s unique. I see that it’s purposeful. And then I see how I’m wired up to be.
So, if you’ve done the pushback and jumped in the kayak and gone Gabriel, just make a U‑turn and paddle back to the foundation of authority. Because when it comes to authority issues, our issue is with God, and God’s issue is all about protection.