BECOMING A DIFFERENCE MAKER
ANOTHER NIGHT WITH THE FROGS
PASTOR ED YOUNG
JUNE 6, 1993
Last night I spent some serious time with frogs. Let me explain. Let me rush to explain. I went fishing at a golf course and I was standing around the banks of this small pond, I believe on the thirteenth fairway, and I was fishing for a while, trying to relax before Sunday morning. Then I thought about something, “Ed, you’ve got a net in your car. You’ve got a flashlight in your car. You’re talking about frogs tomorrow. Why don’t you go ahead and catch a giant bullfrog?” So, last night at about 9:30 p.m., I take this giant net from my car, my flashlight, and I am creeping along the banks of this place with the flashlight, trying to catch a big, ugly bullfrog. I didn’t see one and I looked for about an hour. Finally, I thought I saw one and as I got closer and closer on the bank, one was right by my feet and right as I stepped near this male frog, he jumped about five feet into the water with a loud “ribbit.” I thought I had a heart attack. Frogs were everywhere. I could hear them croaking. I couldn’t catch one, though.
Today we’re going to study the life of a man who was surrounded by frogs and he really didn’t know what to do. In fact, the frogs were everywhere. I’m in a series entitled “Becoming a Difference Maker,” and I believe if we’re going to become difference makers, we have to learn how to handle frogs. That’s right. We have to learn how to handle frogs, in your life and in my life. I’m not talking about frogs in a physical sense like last night. I’m talking about frogs in a spiritual sense.
To deal with frogs, we have to understand facts about frogs. Let me set the stage for today’s message. Take your Bibles and turn to the book of Exodus. Exodus 8, here is this scene painted briefly for you. God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh’s Oval Office and to ask Pharaoh’s permission to let Moses’ people, the Hebrews, go. Four hundred years they had lived in slavery and God asks Moses to go to Pharaoh’s office, with his brother Aaron, because Moses talks more like Mel Tillis than Bob Costas. Aaron, though, had that great voice. And Aaron and Moses go into the presence of Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world, and they ask Pharaoh the following question, “Pharaoh, will you let my people go?” Pharaoh responded by saying, “No! Are you kidding me, Moses, Aaron? Do you realize what would happen to the economy? It would fall apart. Who is the Lord? I don’t know who the Lord is.”
Pharaoh thought he was a god. In fact, Egypt was a hotbed for satanic worship. They worshiped everything from the sky, frogs, the Nile River. They worshiped Pharaoh. Pharaoh said, “Who is this God?” And God, through Moses and Aaron, answered Pharaoh’s question very directly because God used plagues that the Egyptians experienced, that Pharaoh experienced, to show His power over the demonic; and second, to pressure Pharaoh into letting the Hebrews go so they could enter their own Promised Land.
There were different plagues—the plague of blood, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts, the plague of darkness, the plague of the firstborn. I left out one, though, the plague of frogs. And that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. Remember, if we’re going to become difference makers, we have to learn how to handle frogs, and to handle frogs, you have to understand five frightening frog facts. Look at Exodus 8—five frightening frog facts. As I relate these facts to you, I’m going to compare frogs with rebellion, with sin in our lives, because Pharaoh said, “Listen, I’m not going to deal with your Lord, Moses and Aaron. I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to go my own way. By the way, I am a god.” And the frogs represent sin, rebellion.
Here’s the first frightening frog fact: Frogs and sin multiply quickly. Frogs and sin multiply quickly. Moses said, “Pharaoh, let the people go,” and Pharaoh said, “No.” Then Moses said, “Pharaoh, now listen to me. If you don’t let my people go, you’re going to have a frog festival like you have never seen before in your life. Pharaoh, I’m warning you, here’s your chance.” And Pharaoh said, “No.” He hardened his heart. He said, “I’ll take the risks.” And Moses and Aaron prayed and all the frogs started reproducing. They started multiplying, laying eggs, tadpoles, polliwogs, and then all of a sudden, they’re hopping. Millions and millions of frogs are everywhere.
Frogs are a lot like sin. When I sin, when you sin, when we fumble, when we stumble, when we rebel against God, it’s like a little egg is laid and then the egg turns into a tadpole; a tadpole turns into a polliwog, then a frog and another frog. We try to hide sin and everywhere we turn, we run into a frog, we run into a sin. We can’t get rid of it.
Do you have any frogs in your life? Are there any frog people here? To show you how prolific, how dominant the frogs were in this giant frog festival, look at Verse 3 of Exodus 8. “The Nile will teem with frogs (they’re multiplying). They will come up into your palace and (Pharaoh, that’s right) your bedroom, and onto your bed.” Can you imagine sliding into those satin sheets and feeling something cold and slimy on your leg? Ribbit! Oh no! Or you turn the lights out and you see those yellow, beady eyes, that wide mouth, “Ha, ha, ha.” The Bible says they were in the ovens, in the food, filet of frog, oat bran and frog legs.
It was funny for a while. I’m sure the frogs started hopping around and the children were playing with them and the jokes began circulating among the Egyptian corporations, “Have you heard the one about the green stuff between your toes?” “You mean there’s green stuff between my toes?” “Yes, slow frogs. Ha, ha, ha.” They were stepping on frogs. They were sitting on frogs. Frogs were everywhere. It was gross. It was horrendous. It was repulsive. It was terrible.
What did Pharaoh do? He hardened his heart. He hardened his heart. Pharaoh called in his magicians, his demonic magicians, and Pharaoh goes, “Aaron, Moses, come here. Look at this. My magicians will call the frogs out of the Nile River just like you guys.” Sure enough, the magicians called the frogs. More and more frogs started coming up from the Nile and they’re everywhere. They’re crawling on their heads, on their shoulders. “See, Moses? Now, magicians, go ahead and get rid of the frogs. Go ahead.” And the magicians tried and the frogs still stayed there. What could they do? They tried again. “Get out, frogs!” and they were throwing them, but they didn’t go. Pharaoh is starting to get a little edgy because they are multiplying. He’s tired of dealing with the frogs. He is sick of it.
When Lisa and I first moved to Irving three years ago, we rented a house for a year and a half in a subdivision called Broadmoor Hills, a subdivision that’s fighting the airport and all that, and when we rented that house, the entire backyard was a swimming pool. When we first moved in, we had the swimming pool fenced off because I really didn’t want to get into the pool thing and we had LeeBeth who was three years of age at the time. We didn’t want that risk, so we fenced it off and I took care of the pool for a couple of weeks, and the water was beautiful, it was clean, it was clear. But at night, though, Lisa and I would hear this sound [pounding sound]. We later discovered there was a giant crack in the base of the pool and the water was leaking out of the crack at an alarming rate.
Three months later, I decided to walk in the backyard (we never went in the backyard), to see and look at the pool and the pool was a kind of army green color, and it was teeming with wildlife. Polliwogs, frogs. My neighbor—he told me later—put a couple of large mouth bass and they were swimming along with a big smile on their face.
How is the swimming pool in your life? When you sin, that little egg is hatched; it becomes a tadpole. Don’t do what Pharaoh did. Get rid of it at that point. Take the egg out. Skim the pool. Clean the water daily so you can be a pure vessel to become a difference maker. If you don’t, frogs, like sin, will multiply, and you’ll think, “It’s just a little deal. No problem.” And one day you turn and there are frogs everywhere. You can’t get away from them.
Here’s the second frightening fact about frogs and sin. They are both ugly. They’re ugly. I’ve never heard someone say, “Jim, look! What a gorgeous frog. He’s so beautiful.” That doesn’t happen. You can’t dress a frog up. You can’t mousse his skin back and put a tux on him or a dress. Frogs are ugly. And we can try to cover up frogs and try to cover up sin and it always rears its ugly head—those little yellow eyes and that wide mouth. There they are.
How did Pharaoh deal with these ugly amphibians? What did he do? He called his magicians in, and nothing worked. Remember? He called the magicians in; they couldn’t get rid of the frogs. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It does in my life. Many times I’ll do something wrong, I’ll commit a sin, and instead of dealing with it right there, instead of taking care of it in the swimming pool of my mind, I’ll call in my own magicians and I’ll try to cover it up. Instead of taking care of it in the swimming pool of my mind, I’ll call in my own magicians and I’ll try to cover it up. I’ll get busy at work. I’ll go work out. We might buy something or do something just to get away from it. Or our favorite thing is to avoid the person we’ve wronged, because it’s ugly. We don’t want to stand the sight of anything we’ve done wrong. And that’s what Pharaoh did. He used the wrong names, he used the wrong people in order to deal with the frogs in his life, and it will nail you.
This past week, Lisa and I got into a disagreement, and like most of the time—I have an incredible wife—I was wrong. I think I am wrong about 95% of the time. It’s true. I said some things I should not have said, and I got to work and I couldn’t work. So I think, “Well, I’ll do something else,” so I go to lunch with some people. We’re talking about this and that and the church and I was still kind of avoiding it. I was trying to run from it because I knew it was ugly. Then I started doing something else. Finally, I picked the phone up and I call Lisa because I was tired of doing it Pharaoh’s way, trying those little humanistic magicians. I said, “Lisa, I was wrong. I’m sorry. I blew it. Will you forgive me?” She said, “Yes, I forgive you.”
Pharaoh was tired of the frog test and Pharaoh finally goes, “I’ve had enough. Moses, Aaron, take care of the frogs, please! I can’t stand it! Please take care of the frogs. My wife is freaking out. Take care of them, please!” The Bible says Pharaoh mentioned himself first and then the other people. He was really others-centered, wasn’t he? And Moses and Aaron—classic, classic—they said, “Pharaoh, we’ll take care of the frogs, but you just give us the A-OK. You just give us the word. Whenever you want to take care of the frogs, that’s when we’ll take care of them.”
Now, look what our man Pharaoh says is Verse 10. This is unbelievable. Circle this phrase, Exodus 8:10. Here’s Pharaoh, in a frog festival; he had the toad tension. It was horrible, slimy, loud; and Moses and Aaron say, “I’ll take care of it, but you give me the word, Pharaoh,” and what does Pharaoh say? Verse 10, “Tomorrow.” Yes, tomorrow. That’s Satan’s favorite vocabulary word, isn’t it? Tomorrow. You’ll spend time to really work on your marriage tomorrow. You’ll get involved in the church tomorrow. You’ll deal with that alcohol or drug problem tomorrow. You’ll make restitution tomorrow. You’ll start giving faithfully to the church tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, and we think, “Hey, why do it today when I can put it off for tomorrow?”
Tomorrow. That’s right. Tomorrow. And the evil one will see to it that tomorrow never, ever comes. That’s what Pharaoh said. Do you deal with sin like that? I’ve dealt with it like that before. “Okay, Ed, it’s time to get it right. It’s time to come clean. It’s time to tell the truth about yourself before a holy God. Well, yes, but I’m involved in this now. Tomorrow.”
And that brings us to the third frightening frog fact. Frogs and sin will make you jumpy. They’ll make you jumpy. I’m talking about supersonic jumpy. Last night I was jumpy. The frogs made me jumpy and they were jumpy. You commit an act of sin, cosmic treason, and any sin, as I always say, is abhorrent in the eyes of God. You say, “Oh, it’s just a white lie.” God is holy. He is perfect. He is like a beautiful swimming pool, not anything wrong, all the chemicals always balanced. He cannot take a little bit of algae. He cannot take a little frog egg. He can’t do that. And here we are, we come to God and we’re dirty and we’re all jumpy because we have this is our lives. And when you have sin and it’s living and breeding in your life, everywhere you turn, you run into someone or something that reminds you of what you’ve done.
A friend of mine names Jack lives in North Carolina, and before Jack became a Christian, he had multiple affairs on his wife; I’m talking about multiple affairs. He told me, “Ed, I became so nervous, so jumpy, so fearful, that I carried a gun with me. I didn’t know who I was going to run into at that club or that place—a boyfriend, a husband.” One day, out of nowhere, Jack shows up in church, and after a while, he unclenches his fists, he gives his life to Christ, and he has said time and time again, “I feel a peace, a calmness, an assurance that I never, ever felt before. It only comes from God. It only comes from God. No longer am I jumpy.”
There’s a fourth frightening frog fact. Frogs and sin will make you croak. Frogs are loud. Last night, they were almost deafening. Put yourselves thousands of years ago in one of the most sophisticated cultures that we can imagine, and millions and millions of frogs. I did some research on frogs this week. Only male frogs talk. They’re the ones that really puff themselves up, “Ribbit.” Millions of them. Pharaoh, I’m sure, was about to lose his hearing.
Someone told me this one yesterday. Two women were walking down a street in Dallas. They’re walking down the street and they see a frog on the sidewalk and they stop and look and the frog’s going like this, “Help me! Help me! I’m a Texas oilman. Give me a kiss. Help me. Help me. I’m a Texas oilman.” “Susan, look! This frog is talking.” “Help me. Give me a kiss. I’ll turn into a Texas oilman. Help me.” And Susan’s friend looks at the frog and she picks this frog up and she puts it in her purse, shuts the purse and she’s walking on out. Susan says, “Wait a minute. Why didn’t you kiss the frog? The frog said he would turn into a Texas oilman. Why didn’t you kiss him?” She said to Susan, “Don’t you know, these days a talking frog is much more valuable than a Texas oilman?”
Frogs are loud. Sin is loud, and when sin lives in your life, it croaks and croaks and croaks and croaks. It’s so loud, you can’t even hear oftentimes, the voice of God. Could that be your life, though? Could that be my life?
There’s a fifth frightening frog fact, and this one gets a little gross, a little candid. Frogs and sin have a stench about them. Frogs and sin—a major league stench. Moses, Aaron, they prayed for the frogs to leave and the frogs leave. Most of them, though, die. Look at the last part of Verse 13, Exodus 8. The frogs died. Where did they die? “…in the houses, in the courtyards, and in the fields, and were piled into heaps, and the land (I love this word) wreaked of them.”
Think about this, the plague was worse three or four days after than it was when the frogs were alive. The smell of dead frogs. Have you ever seen a dead frog in the street before? Millions of them piled up—Frog Mountain. We commit a sin. We don’t deal with it. It begins to smell to God. If we don’t deal with it, it smells worse and worse and worse, and oftentimes you feel worse, your scent smells much, much worse four, five, six, seven days, a year, ten years after the fact, than it did once you committed it.
Why don’t we come clean at that point? Why don’t we tell the truth about ourselves at that point? Why don’t we say, “God, take your shovel and shovel the dead carcasses of the toads out of my life. Bury them. Do away with them.” Because God wants to. He’s already paved the way. He sent Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is waiting right there with a shovel. He’s waiting to take it all out of your life, to get rid of the frogs. He’s waiting. And He shines the light of God’s Word on your life, and oftentimes you open the Bible, you pray, you come to church, and these frogs are revealed on the banks of your life. Jesus says, “I’ll take care of them if you’ll let me.” But, like Pharaoh, the choice is up to you. The ball is in your court.
Some are thinking, “Okay, plague, fine. Ed, I have a tough time connecting with this. This is the 90’s. I don’t see a plague coming around my house or in my life.” Watch out, though. You remember that time in the hospital? You remember that time when you felt so depressed? You remember when that relationship broke down? Do you remember? Do you remember? That was a crisis. That was a plague. And God wants to preach to you. He wants to preach through plagues to me and to you and to communicate and to connect with us because that’s when most of us really listen.
So when a crisis comes your way, when a difficulty comes my way, do this: turn your ear toward heaven. Don’t listen to the frogs! Turn it toward heaven and God will communicate what He wants to tell you. He’ll do it. He’ll do it. You can handle frogs the Pharaoh way or God’s way.
Here’s the Pharaoh way. I call it jumping aboard the Pharaoh cycle. Take Exodus 8, the plague comes, crisis hits. What’s Pharaoh’s first response? It’s what mine is and yours is. “Okay, God. Time out. I’ll make a deal with you, God. I’ll be your man for the rest of my life, God. I’m with you. You’re talking about a spiritual giant. This is Your man, God.” That was Pharaoh. That’s what he was saying. “Hey, get me out of it and I’ll let you go. I’ll let you go.” Then relief came. See the last part of Verse 15? The Bible says that when Pharaoh saw that there was relief—and this is what we do, don’t we, on the Pharaoh cycle, we’re receptive—then when we see everything’s A-OK, “Well, God, I didn’t really mean all of that, you know. I was kind of all freaked out and upset.” Then we do what Pharaoh did. We harden our heart and we return back to our own ways. The Pharaoh cycle.
Get on the God cycle. The God cycle is different. It’s a much, much better bike. It runs over frogs all the time. Pharaoh cycle, the chain falls off. God’s cycle is different. Here’s God’s cycle. A crisis comes, a plague comes—boom—we’re receptive. Relief comes. Here is where it really differs from Pharaoh’s cycle. When relief comes, instead of saying, “Okay, God. I didn’t mean it,” we repent, we do an about-face and go the opposite way in our lives. We take care of the sin of the frogs and we allow the Holy Spirit to clean it all out.
I’m going to add one more “R” word to the God cycle. After repentance, you’ve got to make restitution. Some are saying, “Man, I hoped you weren’t going to say that.” You know what restitution is? If you’ve lied, if you’ve cheated, if you’ve stolen something, if there is a blockage in a relationship, the Bible says you must go, even if you’re .001% wrong and the other person is 99.99% wrong, you are to go to that person, take the initiative, and get the relationship right. The Bible says do not let the sun go down on your anger or in a relationship. Some of you are saying, “Wait a minute. Let us get back to the Hebrew here, and let’s get back to the historical aspects of the plague. I don’t really want to talk about rebuilding relationships or restitution.” This is the penetrating power of the Word of God.
When you make restitution with someone you’ve wronged, you’ll think long and hard about saying harmful words again. And I’m talking to Christians who’ve cheated on tests, who’ve stolen things from companies, who’ve cussed someone out and they’ve gone back and they’ve made it right. In my own life, last month, I said some harmful words to a staff member here, a guy I love dearly and I knew I shouldn’t have said them, but I let my temper get the best of me. I went home and told Lisa about it. Lisa goes, “Ed, I’m not sure you should have said that,” and it just really started weighing on me. I felt so terrible. So I said, “Okay, I’ll pray about it. God, please forgive me. I was wrong. I’m sorry.” I knew I was wrong. I knew I was sorry, but still it was eating my lunch. Then I picked the phone up and called this gentleman, late at night, we met for breakfast the next day. I looked at him across the table and I said, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” and we made restitution. Now, I’m going to think a long, long, long time before acting that way with someone again. Why? Because it’s not easy to make restitution. Don’t you agree?
You see, the Christian life, we will come up to it and agree with it and get on the cycle to a point, but most of us kind of—Whoa—jump off the cycle at the repentance point. We don’t want to be a part of restitution now. My ego is on the line. I can’t do that. What will they think? What if they…? You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it. It’s hard, it’s difficult, but that’s the reality.
Are you living with frogs? Are you living with frogs? You have two choices. Handle it the Pharaoh way, or the God way, because God’s saying to you right now, “Hey, I don’t want you to spend another night with the frogs.”