BECOMING A DIFFERENCE MAKER
SOMETHING TO HIDE
PASTOR ED YOUNG
MAY 16, 1993
[Begins with skit; pastor and male voice in conversation]
Male voice: “Stay here. Yes.”
Pastor’s voice: “Excuse me. What do you think you’re doing?”
Male voice: “Me?”
Pastor: “Did I see you touch a golf ball?”
Male voice: “Man, I’m just cleaning the bush from around the tree, I mean from around the ball. Man, I’m just out here.”
Pastor: “Listen, if you touch one of those golf balls, it will disqualify you and especially your player out of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic. It’s over.”
Male voice: “Yes, I know, man. Oh man, I’ve got to get these clubs to my player.”
Pastor: “I can’t believe this.”
Male voice: “I’ll see you later.”
Pastor: “I’m going to have to report this, sir. You can’t….”
Unbelievable! Have you ever tried to do something and then cover it up? I’m talking about you’ve made a mistake, an error, and then very quickly, you try to camouflage the mistake. When I was in high school, my parents went out of town for a week. My brothers and I were happy because Aunt Betty and Uncle Wesley were staying with us and they let us get away with anything. My parents and I had a very good relationship, especially during the difficult teenage years. However, we did butt heads over one topic, one issue. I wanted a snake as a pet. They were not into reptiles.
The car had just pulled out of the driveway. I watched it go out of sight. I jump in my car. I drive to the mall and I make a beeline to my favorite store, the pet shop. When I walk in, I see a beautiful boa constrictor in its aquarium and I look at that boa constrictor. He was poised there, with the tongue, you know, and I thought about my parents. Then I looked back at the snake and I thought about my parents, “Ed, do not buy a snake; we’re fearful of reptiles.” I looked back at the snake. Then I said, “Clerk, I would like to buy this boa constrictor right now.” I’d saved all my money. I paid for the snake. I was real excited, but down deep I knew I was disobeying my parents.
I bring the snake home. My two brothers, they go ballistic. “Ed, are you crazy? Mom and Dad will ground you for life. You’ve lost it!” I said, “Guys, chill. I’ll hide the snake in my room. No problem!”
The days roll by and I’m preparing for the return of my parents. I take the aquarium, I put the boa constrictor in the aquarium, put the aquarium on my six-foot-high chest of drawers (I was tall for my age) and I disguised cowboy hat boxes (that was during the big Western urban cowboy movement, you know) around the sides of the aquarium. No way Mom would ever know even when she’s cleaning because she’s short, and Dad is not going to clean, I know that. No big deal!
My parents come home. “How are you doing, Mom, Dad?” They did see me with a couple of mice, but they thought, “Well, that’s just Ed.” Then, though, I started feeling really guilty and after guilt, I felt fear. “What if the snake gets out? Oh boy, what will I do?” Finally, I walked in with the snake, “Mom, Dad, I bought this boa constrictor.” I came clean. I told the truth about what I’d done. It was not a pretty sight. I was grounded, but still I felt good because I revealed something I had hidden.
Today we’re going to look at a brief segment in the life of Moses because Moses made a major error at a crucial moment in his journey and he had the audacity, here this great difference maker, to try to cover the mistake up and it looks like, for all practical purposes, it’s over for Moses.
You’re talking about a difference maker? He turns into a walking disaster area and the mistake that Moses made was much greater than cheating in the Byron Nelson Classic or buying a boa constrictor behind your parents’ back. He took the life of someone. I’m in the second segment of a series entitled, “Becoming a Difference Maker.” God wants all of us to become difference makers. He wants us to make an impact, to make a trail, to make a difference in this life, and Moses is one of the greatest difference makers of all times.
But today, it doesn’t look that way. And I believe if we’re totally transparent, we can look back at our lives and see where we went through areas and maybe even right now where it looks like for all practical purposes, that guy or that girl will never become a difference maker.
During this section of Scripture, though, I want to show you three biblical principles that you can apply to your life that will give you the strength and the power and the knowledge to become a difference maker. Take your Bibles and turn to the book of Exodus. Exodus 2, we’ll look at Verse 11. Exodus 2:11. Genesis, Exodus. Let me bring you up to speed rapidly. Moses was born into Hebrew slavery. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, tried to curb the Hebrew baby boom by instructing the midwives to kill all male children. Moses was spared. He was adopted into royalty by Pharaoh’s own daughter. He was educated. His Ph.D. at the University of Egypt—Mathematics, Hieroglyphics, Chemistry, Astronomy. Studied the Egyptian culture. They knew the exact distance from the earth to the sun. They went with the philosophy that the earth was round, not flat.
Today, we don’t have the technology in our paint to put forth the brilliant colors that the Egyptians did. The marble pyramids during that day…beautiful sight! That’s the culture Moses was brought up in, and when Moses was at the peak of his career—he’s 40 years old—Exodus 2:11 says, he decides to leave the palace and walk out and check on his people. Remember, Moses was being groomed to be the next Pharaoh of Egypt.
Josephus, the historian, tells us that the Ethiopians one day attacked Egypt and the Pharaoh had so much confidence in Moses that he puts this Hebrew in charge of the Egyptian army and Moses organizes a victory and saves the nation of Egypt. He was at the height of his popularity. The Bible calls him a beautiful child, a handsome man, and many commentators think Moses was so good looking that when he would walk down the dusty road, people would stop and watch him as he walked. Once he got out of sight, then they would resume their tasks. He had it all.
At the peak of his popularity. Everything going well. Mr. Egypt 1300 B.C., and he’s walking, looking at his own people in his designer Egyptian regalia, looking at his people in the clay pits trying to make bricks; the Egyptians over the Hebrews [whipping sound] with heavy whips. If they rested for one second, they would get whipped; and Moses is kind of checking this deal out.
Moses had a big decision to make, in fact, Exodus 2:11 gives us this decision that Moses was grappling with. “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them in their hard labor.” You’re thinking to yourself, “What big decision, Ed, are you talking about?” Here is the dilemma. Moses, speaking to himself asked, “Do I leave the palace and identify with my people? Do I become God’s man to really deliver them out of bondage, or do I hang in the palace and buy time, become the next Pharaoh of Egypt? What will I do?”
I believe Verse 11 tells us that for a couple of months, Moses tried to live in both worlds—one foot in Egypt, the other foot with the Hebrews. He enjoyed being a Hebrew during the day. He enjoyed talking to the guys and telling the taskmasters, “Hey, quit whipping them so hard!” At night, though, he enjoyed the satin sheets and the big screen TV of Egyptian palace life. Living in two worlds.
You’re saying to yourself, though, “Ed, can you believe anyone would have the guts to live in two worlds like that? To wear that clothing? To have that kind of money and try to identify with your own people? Come on now, that’s a joke living in two worlds.” But as I look at our culture today, even the Christian culture, I see Christians living in two worlds. One foot trying to please self, trying to do what makes me look good, feel good, do that deal. The other foot in the church. When you are at the marketplace, you talk this way, you’ll do whatever it takes to make a deal. You’ll go to that topless club. You’ll laugh at that particular joke. You come to church, everything is fine, you look so good in your suit and your shirt and the dress and the cologne and perfume and the hair is all nice. One foot in the world and one foot in the church.
I know a gentleman, a very successful young man, who lives on the West Coast and he is the epitome of living in two worlds. You’re talking about a dichotomy? When he’s around me, when he’s around some other Christian friends here in this church, you would think he is the greatest guy in the world. So much talent. So much ability. A natural leader. I’ve known him for a couple of years, though, and I’ve seen his other friends and I’ve talked with them and I’ve heard what he’s done and what he does with them. Addicted to gambling. Living from one pleasure to the next pleasure. And the more I get to know him, the more I figure out about him because he has all this stuff hidden in his life. Sometimes he has so many things hidden, he acts so many different ways around different groups, he doesn’t know how he’s acting. “How should I act now? Oh, let me see. I can’t say that here, so I’ll go ahead and hide this with this group and I can talk…. Okay, I’m out with another group. Let me see…I’d better bring the Bible now.”
Yes, it’s a tough life and Moses dealt with this because Moses didn’t decide overnight, “Oh, I’m going to leave the palace and I’m going to step down and go ahead and become a Hebrew totally and I’m going to act like the slaves and I’m going to lead these slaves out of bondage.” He didn’t do that. It was a tough, tough choice.
Here’s the first principle on becoming a difference maker. Difference makers live a focused life. Moses, at this point, did not live a focused life, but difference makers live a focused life.
This Friday I went to the Byron Nelson, and I love to get up close to those professional golfers and see their eyes. You’re talking about focused. They are focused! They’ll nod to the crowd now and then and wave and tip the hats, but they are there for one thing and one thing only. That is to try to win the tournament. You’ve got to have a focused lifestyle. Choose today who you’re going to serve. Are you going to serve Jesus Christ or are you going to live for the world? Don’t try to have one foot in Egypt and one foot with God’s people. You can’t do it. It’s too confusing. Difference makers don’t live like that. They put both feet in for the Lord and then they allow the Lord to take care of business in their lives.
There’s a second principle here, though. Difference makers not only are focused, but difference makers look to God before they act. See the progression? Difference makers, they’re focused. They live a very focused life, and because they live a very focused life, they also—and let me read Verse 12 to you—look before they act. Moses did not do this. Check out what Moses did. Verse 11, “One day after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were, watched them in all their labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.”
So what did he do? Verse 12. He didn’t look to God before he acted. That’s what a difference maker does; that’s the second principle. He did something else, “…glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian.” That’s not a difference maker. Moses, he glances this way and that way. He looked every direction—
east, west, north, south. He forgot about God, though. He forgot to look up. Anytime, ladies and gentlemen, that we glance this way and that way and forget first of all to look up, we are getting ready to make a serious, serious error in our lives. We’re getting ready to commit cosmic treason. I’m talking about a major league sin when we think, “Oh, oh! Is anyone looking? Okay, the coast is clear.” Think about your life, the last four or five years. When you’ve acted before first of all looking to God, trouble happens. It really does. And that’s what happened to our man Moses.
Last summer Lisa and I went to the zoo and we saw this show with seals and one of the seals was named Balboa. Balboa, you’re talking about a brilliant seal. He came up on the stage with the trainer, and boy, you’re talking about eye contact, he looked to her every single second. He would not think about acting, he would not think about twirling a live dog on his nose or shooting basketball without first taking the cue from the trainer. I punched Lisa and said, “Hey, look at the seal. He’s smarter than most people I know. He is locked in on the trainer,” and that is what difference makers do.
That’s what Moses failed to do. Difference makers, they’re locked into God before they act. They, like Balboa, look up at the trainer, “God, what do you want me to do? What do you want me to do, God?” You see, God is doing great things in the world. He’s doing great things right near you, right near me. The question should be this, “God, where are you working? Help me to be a part of it.” God’s working and He wants you to be a part of it. He wants me to be a part of it, if we just ask Him for strength to summon the power to be a part of it.
Moses didn’t know. He kind of elbowed God out of the way. The creature shook his puny little fist in the face of the Creator and he said, “I will live by my own self-sovereignty. I’m the man. I’m above the law. I elbow you out of the way, God. To the left, to the right. No problem.” The Egyptian is dead. Moses thinks, “No problem. No problem.” Remember what I told you? If you fail to look to God before you act, something terrible is going to happen and it did. And then when something terrible happens, we have a tendency to hide something.
Here’s the third principle on becoming a difference maker. Difference makers locate their sin and they tell the truth about it. Moses had the opportunity right there after he killed the Egyptian to come clean, to tell the truth about himself. He didn’t do it, though. He did something else. He hid the Egyptian. That’s right. He hid the Egyptian. We have a tendency when we sin to kind of cover it up, to kind of take out a shovel and put some sand over it so no one will see it, no one will know it happened.
Fear and sin go hand in hand like chips and hot sauce, peanut butter and jelly, mashed potatoes and cream gravy. When I sin, if I don’t deal with it, fear will come in. Remember me with the boa constrictor, “Okay, I’ve disobeyed my parents and I was happy I had the snake, but I began to be fearful, “Oh no. What if mom and dad find out?” That’s what happened to Moses. He got scared. Look down in Verse 14. Verse 14 says, “Then Moses was afraid and thought, what I did must have become known.”
Here’s the situation: Moses kills the Egyptian. He buries him in a shallow grave and he walks out the next day thinking, “Hey, I’m above all. No one can get me,” and he sees two of his own people kind of going after it and he says, “Guys, break it up. Break it up!” And one of the Hebrews looks at Moses, “Hey, Moses (kind of pushes him) you’re going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?” Fear. They found out! Moses was thinking, “How in the world did anyone see? I looked this way and that way. How did they find out?”
Here’s what I believe happened. He hastily buried this Egyptian in this very shallow grave and at night the winds began to blow, the sands shifted, and I bet you that Egyptian’s toes began to stick out from the sand and they saw it and knew that Moses had committed murder. Front page of The Egyptian Times—the murdered man and a picture of Moses. They’re going after him now. The Hebrews turn their back on him. The Egyptians want to kill him. He’s fearful, he’s afraid, and he turns and he does the Carl Lewis thing. He’s running. The Bible says he goes to a place called Midian. You know where Midian is? Read it right there. Sinai Peninsula. Desert. It’s not a place for a subdivision or a multi-family dwelling place. You wouldn’t want to live in the desert. However, if you try to cover your sin, if you try to hide it, it always leads to a desert if you don’t deal with it.
Difference makers live a focused life, difference makers look to God before they act, difference makers locate their sin and they tell the truth about their sins. “Why?” you ask. You’re thinking, “Ed, nice outline. But why? Why?” If they don’t do those three things, three factors will work in their lives that difference makers don’t want working in their lives and Moses had these three factors working in his life and he hated them.
Three factors. Write these down. The shovel factor. That’s right, the shovel factor, the toe factor, and the sand factor. What do I mean by the shovel factor? You do something wrong, you commit cosmic treason, the easiest thing to do is to take a shovel and bury it, cover it up. No problem. You do something else, “Oh, I’ve sinned again.” [Shoveling sounds, then hums “I love you Lord and I lift my voice.”] The shovel factor. This goes on day after day after day. Calluses build up on your hand, blisters. You’re worn out, your back is sore, you’re riddled with guilt, you’re fearful because you’ve been digging and digging and digging and digging, and if someone was to look at your life, they would say, “Oh, it’s smooth. Look at that soil,” but right beneath it, though, if you look very carefully, I think the winds are blowing, “Wait a minute. Toes sticking out from underneath the sand.”
And that’s the second factor, the toe factor, because if you hide your sin, if you try to cover it up, yes, you’ll deal with the shovel factor, it will wear you out trying to lie and to cover it up, but also the toe factor comes into play. Because the Bible tells us that your sin, my sin, will be revealed in one way, shape, form, or fashion, out of nowhere as the winds blow, as the sands move, those toes of sin in your life and in my life we’ve tried to cover up, suddenly will be revealed. And people will go, “Ed Young, you did…. Look, I cannot believe…. Look at the toes. Look at this.” And for some of your lives, because you’ve lived covering things up, you have toes sticking out everywhere, everywhere in your life. God wants you to deal with the shovel factor.
There’s another factor, though: the sand factor. Have you ever been to the beach before and tried to walk on that hot sand? Terrible, isn’t it? I remember last year at the beach retreat, I would go down to the ocean and we would play in the water and everything and do football during free time and then the condominiums were about five hundred yards away so we would walk, sand near the water is no problem there because the salt water kind of made it cool. Suddenly, though, the further you get away from the water, it gets to be hot and you start doing this, don’t you? [hopping steps] It will wear you out. It’s terrible. I hate to run on hot sand. That’s what Moses did. Moses took the compass and he ran on hot sand in the desert. The Bible says he fled. He fled to Midian. And sin, if not dealt with effectively and radically, is going to lead you to a desert.
Let me stop right here and say something. Many of you today, you have the shovel factor going on, you have the toe factor going on, you have the sand factor going on. You’ve tried to cover sin, you haven’t dealt with it, you’ve made major mistakes in your life like Moses and Satan’s saying, “Hey, it’s over for you. God could never make you into a difference maker again. It’s over. Lights out. See you later.” And you’d think that by reading this that it’s over for Moses. A difference maker now a disaster area. But there’s a great word here. There is a way. There is hope. There is a plan. There is a purpose in the desert. If you’re in the desert running, I want to share with you three things you could do in the desert and three things I need to do in the desert and three things that Moses did do in the desert.
The first thing Moses did, he stopped running and he sat down. He stopped running and he sat down. Look at Verse 15: “Moses fled from Pharaoh, went to Midian, where he sat down.” He sat down in the desert. A desert is not a great place to sit down, is it? He sat down in the desert. He stopped running. Unclench your fists, relax your legs, and sit down in the desert. Sit down. If you’re running from your sin, sit down. And when you’re sitting down, I want you to do something. I want you to check out the horizon. Look at it. As you check out the horizon, you see how desolate it is. Maybe a couple lizards and a snake like I bought years ago in high school. That’s about it. Hot. The winds blowing. No water out there. It’s a terrible, terrible place.
That’s just a hint of how your sin looks in the sight and eyes of God. You’ve got to feel it; you’ve got to experience it. It’s part of repentance. Repenting and turning from your sins is not saying, “Okay God, I’m sorry. Everything’s cool.” You’ve got to feel remorse. You’ve got to feel sick and tired and terrible about your sin. That’s what Moses did. The first thing you’ve got to do in the desert is to stop and sit down.
The second thing you have to do in the desert is to drink the water of faith. See what the Bible says in Verse 15? Moses fled to Midian—that’s in the desert, the Sinai Peninsula—and he sat down by a what? A what? I can’t hear you. A well. He sat down by a well. Here’s the principle. God always provides a well in our desert if we sit down. God always provides a well in our desert if we sit down. We’re running from that thing we’ve buried. If we keep running we’ll never see a well, but if we stop and sit down, feel our sin, tell the truth about our sin, stop running, God’s going to say, “Ed, there’s a well for you,” and we get up (it’s our option) and we walk over to the well and drink the water of faith, and the water of faith gives us strength and it gives us the power to really become people who are on our way as difference makers.
There’s a third thing we’ve got to do in the desert, though. We’ve got to enroll in school and that’s what Moses did. Moses, one of the most well-educated men in the Bible, you wouldn’t think he’d need to go back to school again but he did. He had to. God’s school is called Desert University and here’s how you get into Desert University because it’s a school you want to be a part of. Don’t worry about your SAT or ACT scores, thank the Lord. He only accepts failures. That means I can get in. God only accepts failures at Desert University. You know what failure is? Failure is the back door to success.
Moses was so prideful, he was so puffed up like a giant balloon, that the power of God couldn’t get into his life. It took God year after year after year at Desert University to drain him of all this ego, of all this self-sovereignty in order to make him into a useful tool to one day deliver millions of Israelites from bondage.
You see, we put too much emphasis on “Oh, Moses was a great-looking guy. He was a natural speaker, a gifted leader.” It all came from God. God can use whatever He wants to. He can use this plant if He wants to, to lead someone out of bondage. Moses was available and Moses put himself under the submission of the Lord in the school.
Are you doing that? Are you in a desert? Have you stopped? Are you drinking the water called faith? Have you enrolled in God’s university? Remember when I said earlier in the message that God’s working and we’ve got to say, “God, I want to get in on where you’re working,” and to get in on it, you cannot remain the same. You’ve got to change. You’ve got to develop. I’ve got to change. I’ve got to develop.
This past week I went to Sam’s Wholesale Club and I bought LeeBeth this basketball goal that you can dunk on; it goes up to seven feet. This basketball goal was one that had fallen in the display area at Sam’s Wholesale Club, so I got a great deal on it. I take it home and—I’m not mechanical at all, if you know me. I’m talking about zero, the worst—I’m trying to fit it together and Mac Richard has one of these deals. He tries to put it together for me. We get it kind of halfway looking right, but it didn’t really work. So what do I do? When you have a problem, there’s only one to call—innovative Owen Goff is the man who does it all.
Yes, Owen Goff, my associate pastor, you’re talking about mechanical genius, the guy is incredible! He brings his toolbox into my house, and he goes, “Oh, pastor, I think you have a bent part here in the back part of the backboard.” I said, “What are you talking about, Owen? The thing looks fine to me.” Owen is a strong guy, too. He doesn’t look like it, but he is. We unscrew it and we get this part off, and I’m saying, “Owen, where is the thing bent?” He takes it, pulls out a giant hammer and wham. I said, “What are you doing? You’re going to ruin it.” He beats on the thing for fifteen minutes. “Pastor, would you hold part of this while I beat on it?” I was watching my hand, “Bip, bip.” We put it back on, I should say Owen put it back on the backboard and the thing worked, like that. And it worked well. It was bent!
I thought about Desert University because if we enroll in Desert University, we say, “God, I am a tool and I want to be an instrument to be used by you in a wonderful way to become a difference maker, and if I want to become a difference maker, I’ve got to submit to you and you’ve got to take a hammer and hammer on me year after year, day after day, month after month, if I’m going to do it. No other way will work. I can’t do it alone. You’re going to have to hammer me and I’m going to have to submit to you like that part and Owen.”
We’ve got to let God do that, and that’s tough. That process takes from now until we graduate to be with the Lord, but that’s the way to become a difference maker. Moses found it out at Desert University.
There’s hope. I don’t care what you’ve done. There’s hope. But you’ve got to be involved in God’s desert strategy and you’ve got to say, “God, here’s something I’ve buried; here’s somewhere I’ve failed you. I want to become a difference maker for you.” It’s there for the taking. It’s your option. It’s my option. And God will do the rest.