Open Up a CAN
June 17, 2012
Bullying has been around as long as the world is old. Everyone faces it. Some people cower from it; others rage against it. But what is the right way to respond?
In this message, Ed Young opens up the pages of Scripture to see what God has to say about bullies. He opens up a story from his childhood. And he helps us discover just how we can open up a can on the bullies in our lives.
Hey, thank you guys for being here. I did that jump because it’s Father’s Day! I did that jump because I can. If this is your first time here, don’t freak out. It’s cool that at Fellowship Church there are so many different people from so many different backgrounds.
We have a lot of women who attend Fellowship Church. Isn’t that great? We love women. Women attend church quicker than men, because women are more tied into their emotions. Women will quickly say, “I need the Lord. I need answers,” quicker than guys. It’s just the way it is. My wife’s the same way. We have a kinda macho thing but let me tell you something that’s really, really incredible about Fellowship. We’ve got a lot of guys! A lot of guys who attend our church.
When I walk around our different campuses here, in Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Miami, and what we hear about online and what we hear about from our television program, we have a lot of guys. I’m talking about real men, who attend Fellowship. And today is the day when we celebrating being a real man. Being a father. So Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s in the house!
I’ve been in a series of messages called Cool-Aid. We’ve been talking about drinking the culture’s Cool-Aid. And if the truth be known a lot of us have a Cool-Aid moustache. We’re slurping, I’ve even slurped, the culture’s Cool-Aid. When you hear that phrase tossed around – hey, you’re up in the Kool-Aid! You’re drinking the Kool-Aid! – where does that come from? It comes from maniac Jim Jones, cult leader, Jim Jones, who got all of his followers to drink Kool-Aid that was laced with poison. Of course it led to their untimely deaths. What I’ve been saying is a lot of us are drinking a different type of Cool-Aid, the Cool-Aid of our culture, and it’s laced with some funky stuff. It’s laced with some poison. And if you look around you can see the destruction and the devastation of drinking our culture’s Cool-Aid. Make sure, if you’ve missed any of these installments, go to our website, www.FellowshipChurch.com and look back at the beginning of this series, in the archives.
I talked about gay marriage, a highly controversial subject. I talked about vulgarity, a very complex and controversial subject. Today I’m talking about a subject that is as popular as any subject out there. In fact, Lisa and I had dinner several nights ago with several couples. They’re not really involved in church. They know a little bit about the church, some things about the Bible. They asked me what I’ve been talking about recently and I told them I’m talking about bullying. Well, the responses were absolutely epic! They were wild!
On one hand, some of the people said
“Oh, yeah, if you’re bullied, man, it’s on! You begin to swing, use your fists and feet and go for it!” On the other hand, some people around the table were like,
“No, man. You don’t ever really stand up to a bully! You just remain in this politically correct, passive nature.” That was just at a dinner party.
So I wouldn’t tell you that any of those extremes are correct. I would tell you there’s some balance there. When you think about bullying, though, what comes to your mind? When you think about bullying, what person comes to your mind? Because every single person seated around that table had a name. The women did, and the men. They could recall a name with amazing accuracy of a bully who bullied them. Can you? Just think about that bully. You know. Everybody’s been bullied.
OK, let’s say our bully’s name out loud at the count of three. Just say it. I will say mine and you say yours. Ready? 1… 2… 3… Billy Trousdale. OK. Trousdale, that’s right. The name doesn’t mean much to you, it means a lot to me. Trousdale, a terrible bully. I was terrified of Trousdale.
My family and I moved from a small town in the southeast to the capital city of this state. I moved from an elementary school in the middle of my fifth-grade year, very benign, organized, no problems, no disciplinary issues. I moved from that to an elementary school where the inmates ran the asylum. I’m serious. I was talking to a friend of mine last night and I said,
“Greg, I don’t want to over exaggerate or overestimate our background. But, tell me, tell me. That place was not crazy.” He said,
“Ed, I’ve never heard of a school system as violent or as wheels-off as the one that we grew up in. If that school system had been in today’s world, I don’t even want think about what would happen.”
Well anyway, I moved from this very, very benign elementary school to an elementary school that was just where the inmates ran the asylum. I walk into my fifth grade class. I was greeted by my teacher, Mrs. Blackwell. Picture Olive Oyl. Some of you don’t know who Olive Oyl is; Google her. She had the worst coffee breath I’ve ever smelt in my life, mixed with the Camel filters cigarette breath.
“Helloooooo, Edwin. Welcome to our school.” And I was like, whoa. She said, “Here’s an empty desk.” And the classroom was chaotic. “Put your school supplies there.” So I went over there, looked around, put my school supplies on the desk. And suddenly this kid walked up, blonde hair, took my school supplies in front of Olive Oyl, in front of Mrs. Blackwell, and <whoomp!> tossed them against the wall. I stood back, waiting for a response. Nothing. That was my first experience at just a little bit of bullying. But again, this guy was not the bully I’m gonna tell you about. No, no, no. He’s just kind of an appetizer to Trousdale.
So I hang out there. I’m looking around. No one says a word to me. Totally lonely, did not know a soul. Recess. Something, OK recess! I can do OK at recess. This ginormous playground, a dirt playground. And I grew up in the dirty south, man. So I’m just walking around, didn’t know a soul. Just looking, trying to, you know, talk to people. Sometimes conversations you’ve gotta walk up… Heh..heh…heh. And I could tell I was just like, iced out.
Well I saw a couple of guys playing, and they were pretty big kids. So I walked up and I was just watching them play. And all of a sudden, this kid with curly hair, looked at me in disgust. I’m talking about hatred! He said,
“What in the blankety-blank are you lookin’ at?”
“Nothin’. I’m just watchin’ you guys play.”
He stood up and goes, “Man, if you don’t get your blank out of here, I’m gonna kick your blankety-blank-blank. You got to the count of three, man. If you don’t leave it’s gonna be curtains for you! One! Two!…” and I’m thinking, and then I spun on my heels… “Three!” and I walked away from Trousdale. I walked to the edge of the playground. I walked around the edge of the playground for weeks, terrified of Trousdale. Crying by myself.
It seems like yesterday. I can just see the sands of the dirty south in my dress shoes. White dress shoes. I quickly changed about a month later to tennis shoes. Maybe that was the problem. My mother dressed me. Anyway, I remember walking around the edge of the playground. Thankfully, though, we rarely had recess with Trousdale. Trousdale and I were the same age. He was in one class, I was in the other. When I went home during that horrific time, during those tumultuous days, I told my mother and father about it. And I was so fearful and so scared. My parents were empathetic, sympathetic, and I remember them saying,
“Well, Ed, you know you’re gonna have to talk to the right people. You’re gonna have to talk to the teachers, to the authorities, but you’re gonna have to stand up for yourself.” My father took me down in our little basement in our little house, grabbed the boxing gloves. He said,
“Son, you’re gonna have to fight. You might have to fight this bully called Trousdale. Now that’s not what we do first! We first tell the authorities. But if you get backed into a corner you’re gonna have to fight. And let me show you how to fight. Do you realized, son, that your grandfather was a boxer? Do you realize he knocked out the guy who ultimately knocked out the world champion?” Dad began to show me just some boxing tips. And we went at it, man! We punched each other! He told me how to take on Trousdale or any other bully if I had to. He said,
“Son, don’t back down. If they back you into a corner, if you’ve done what you have to do, you come out fighting!”
Now, some of you who are slurping the Cool-Aid right now, just relax. OK? Don’t be giving me this. Because let’s just see what happened in this story. Let’s see what the Bible says about it. I’m leading to that.
The whole year if I would look at Trousdale, he would flip me off, like this… whoa. Even though Dad had taught me how to fight… scared of the guy. The last day of school. The last day of school! The bell rang and I’m walking down the hall to escape from Alcatraz. I promise you, man. I went to bad school. Don’t… just trust me. So I see the light at the end of the hall and I know my mother’s Impala is sitting out there with the engine running. So I began to walk. Kids are freaking out.. “It’s the last day of school!” and I’m walking with my books, and who walks down the hall? Trousdale. I’m like, wow. I’ve not gotten this close to him since the incident of the first day of school when I was watching him play with the other kids. He looked at me, again with this look of just disgust. Hmm. He bumped into me and I kept on walking. When I took my third step those words that my father said began to echo in my mind. “Ed, you can do it. Ed, you’ve got to stand up. Ed, your grandfather knocked out the guy who knocked out the world champion. Ed, you’re an athlete. Ed, it’s time to stand. Ed, you can’t be pushed around.”
I dropped my books, I turned around, I tackled Trousdale and began to pound him.
“You have been bullying me this entire year!” And the teachers grabbed us. He was like,
“Waaahahahahaha! Mommy! Mommy!” This is the bully! Crying for his mommy! They took us to the principal’s office and told the principal.
“This guy has been bullying me and I stood up to the bully.” And you know what? You might think I’m crazy, you might think this is ridiculous. Because I stood up to Trousdale in the fifth grade, that set the course, that set the die for my toughness for the rest of my days in that crazy school system. And now looking back, that bully was a pulley that led me to the next level.
I’m telling you, bullies are constant. They’re everywhere. From the classroom to the boardroom. From the jet way to the freeway. From the locker room to the church room. Bullies are constant! We ain’t gonna get rid of bullies! Bullies are everywhere. How do we respond to the bullies?
I would argue that the bully in your life can be a pulley that God wants to use to take you to the next level. We all have them. How do we deal with them? Do we deal with them with fists and feet? Do we play the politically correct Cool-Aid-intoxicated mentality that goes, “Well, I’m just a victim.” Because when our culture mixes Cool-Aid they pour in not sugar but a whole bunch of victimization. And they stir it around. “Oh I’m a victim! I can’t help myself. Someone rescue me. I’m just a victim.” Isn’t that true? This victim mentality. More about that in a second.
There are different types of bullies. And bullies are as old as dirt. Different types of bullies. Read your Bible. Cain and Abel. Cain bullied Abel. The most famous bully in the world, Goliath, bullied David and all the Israelites. Peninnah, a fertile Myrtle, bullied Hannah, who was infertile. Pharaoh bullied Moses. Herod, a big honkin’ bully. I can go on and on. Bullies are constant. Bullies, though, can become pulleys to take us to another level.
There are different types of bullies. There is the verbal bully. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s a lie from the pit of Hell. Words will crush you and me! They can mess us up. There are a lot of verbal bullies out there. You know it, I know it. I’m talking to bullies and the bullied. Verbal bullies. They say things that will just rip you to shreds. Verbal bullies.
We got physical bullies. Big girls, big guys, or small guys or small girls, who are just looking to open up a can. Remember this, bullies have always been bullied. That’s another subject we will open up a little bit later as we open up a can. Physical bullies, verbal bullies.
Emotional bullies. Oh, women are good at that. See guys, we’re not that smart emotionally. This is on another level here. Women, I’m telling you, they can emotionally bully you. Some of the husbands are going, “You better believe it.” But you know what I’m saying to you. Mean girls. It’s a fact. Mean guys, too.
Cyber-bullies. “I can go online and it’s awesome! Start a blog or Instagram, or throw out a Tweet or e-mail and I will say stuff about you that I would never say to your face. Never!” And it’s laced so often with vulgarity, lies, and photos. I’m telling you, bullying has gone to the next level. And once it’s written down, once the cyber bullies do it, it’s there. This is scary. There are different types of bullies out there. Emotional, physical, verbal, cyber bullies. So bullies are constant. The deal is, what’s our reaction?
In the book of Genesis, chapter 37 it begins, an epic story of bullying. Joseph, that dreamer, Joseph. That favorite son, Joseph. Yeah, he began to talk a little bit too much smack. His brothers who were basically a bunch of bullies, took Joe, tossed him in a pit… AAAAAaaaaaahhhhh. Pit happens, right? We all get thrown into pits. Joseph was bullied. Now what did he do? Did he play the victim card? “I’m sorry!” Playing the victim card is sexy, it is.
“I will just play the victim card. I will play the victim card, I’m just the victim. People will come up to me, ‘Oh, it’ll be OK, Ed. Everything’s all right. Man, you were just taken advantage of.’” And it gets attention from people for a while. But then after a while the victim card runs out.
Have you ever wondered why we take victimization and mix it in the culture’s Cool-Aid? You know why? Well we go back to the book of Genesis, but just recently, think about Freudian psychology. What did Freud say? Freud said, “OK, we are a result of our background, of our childhood. We can’t help ourselves.” Excuses, excuses, excuses, and then you have the blame game, and then it sounds so cool. I’m the victim. And if I’m the victim – Joseph could have said this, “I’m in a pit. I’m not gonna take responsibility for my life. Maybe the government will bail me out. Maybe a relative will bail me out. Maybe I can get sympathy from…” No, he didn’t say that! The victim card. If you don’t want to be bullied, just play the victim card. Because if you play the victim card you’ll never step out because see you fear rejection. You fear people bullying you. When you step up and step out you will face bullies. Everybody faces bullies! Everybody does!
What did Joseph do? “Lord, I don’t understand it. Lord, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. Lord, I believe this situation, this bullying situation, is gonna lead to victory. So I’m not a victim, I’m a victor.” That’s basically what he said. And that’s what we have to understand when we’re bullied. He didn’t try to spend all of his life in bitterness, just playing the blame game and the victim card. What did he do? God used this great man. He got out of the pit, sold into slavery, was bullied several times in a foreign country, basically moved from the pit to the pinnacle. The bullies were the pulleys that pulled him out of the pit and led him to the palace! So that, my friend, is what God wants to do in all of our lives.
“But how about my kid?” In your kids’ lives.
“How about my daughter?” In her life. And dads, we’ve got to step up. Moms, we’ve got to step up. Single parents we’ve got to step up and teach this stuff. We’ve got to teach responsibility. We’ve got to teach autonomy. We’ve got to teach standing for what you believe. And the fact that we don’t back down.
At the end of the story, the bullies showed up. They didn’t recognize Joe. He’s the man. He had more bling than any hip-hop star you can imagine. And you know what he said? You know what he said? Obviously he had released them. And then they finally figured out it was him. He said,
“You guys meant all this bullying for evil, for bad, for evil, yet God used it for good.” I’m so thankful for my wheels-off education. I’m so thankful that I had to always watch my back and I had to stand up. And I learned to stand up a long, long time ago. Had I not, I don’t know.
Who’s your bully? Now does this mean that we should react? Someone cuts us off on the freeway, chase them down? React every time someone gives us a look or flips us off? It doesn’t mean that. Does it mean we should get drunk on the culture’s Cool-Aid and always play the victimization card? Excuse after excuse and allow people to bail us out. Parents, are you always rescuing your kids? Oh the government will rescue me. This entity will rescue me. I’ll just be rescued.
One of the things that is so messed up about our country is the fact of victimization. I’m all for helping people. Our government should, especially the church should, step up and help people who can’t help themselves. We understand that. However, there are bunches and bunches of people who need to take responsibility for their lives, who need to stand up and make something happen. Yet, because it’s so politically correct in this whole victimization thing, we’ve set up an entire system that assaults achievement and robs anybody of responsibility! And this is coming from our president, from our government! And here’s what’s so hilarious. A lot of the media talks about bullying, yet they’re the biggest bullies around! Are you kidding me?
USA Today this week had a front page article on bullying and they’re some of the biggest bullies around. Drinkin’ the Cool-Aid. They don’t even know it! Intellectual igmo’s. don’t even realize it. Sounds cool, sounds hip, sounds vogue. Problem, it’s not Biblical and it doesn’t work.
How about Jesus? He was not some pale, frail, blue-eyed, decaf-sipping white boy. How about Jesus? You want to talk about bullies? Talk about the Sadducees and the Pharisees. You want to talk about bullies you walk right through them when they were trying to kill him. You want to talk about bullies? He cleared out the money changers in the temple. You want to talk about bullies? Oh yeah, he faced his bullies. Yet he submitted himself to the will of the Father. He was bullied ultimately to a cross, voluntarily, voluntarily! He had the guts to be hammered, to be tortured. He was dead and rose again.
You can say, “Oh, are we the victims of this sinetic condition?” No, well, yeah, partly. But we choose sin. We choose sin. So even to become a follower of Christ you’ve got to have enough courage to tell the truth about yourself and to face the bully of sin. I think theologically I can support that. So it takes a man to make this decision.
“God, you’re God, I’m not. God, you’re in control, I’m not. I relinquish control of my life to you.”
Let’s go back to bullying in the practical sense of the matter. What happens if you’re bullied? What happens if your kid is bullied? You’ve gotta open up a can. I’ll say it again. You’ve gotta open up a can.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Open up a can! Open up a can!
Give me a C! C stands for confrontation. Confront the bullies in your life. Speak the truth in love, confront them. Stand your ground in love. Your kids bullied? Encourage him or her obviously to talk to you, Mom and Dad, talk to the authority figures, and if that doesn’t happen then we have to literally open up a can. But I cannot cover every subtle nuance and slice of bullying on this stage. If you want to talk more about it you can get in contact with one of the pastors here. We’ll be happy to try to help counsel you in the realm of bullying. But you feel me. Let’s just use our common sense. Confrontation.
Give me an A! A stands for being aware of the situation. As I said I’m from the dirty south and we see somebody who’s crazy, somebody who’s insecure, somebody who’s a bully, you know what we say? “Bless his heart.” Just say that. “Hey, Trousdale! Bless your heart. You’re so insecure that you’ve got to dominate and play the one-upman card? Pitiful. Pitiful!” Pray for them. Forgive them. Release them. Even try to befriend them. Always be aware of your surroundings. Oh, there were bullies everywhere in my school system. I didn’t go looking for ‘em. I tried to avoid the situation. I wasn’t some fighter all the time, “Oh, Ed’s a big fighter, man! He used to open up a can all the time!” No, no, no, no. No. That’s the last resort. But you cannot make an argument for passivity from Scripture. It’s not there, friends. No matter how much the media and our culture tells us, it’s not. Aware. Roam in packs. Make sure people have got your back. Be aware of the situation, the bully is dealing with.
Give me an N! Negotiate through the bully. The bully is a pulley. To get to it you gotta go through it. And God wants to build stuff in your life and mine when you face bullies. I still face bullies today! I do! You do! Don’t act like you don’t. I can talk about Trousdale, I fight bullies now! But I’m not gonna waste my time chasing them down, and “What did you mean by that? You said this, that’s out of context.” We speak the truth in love. We speak the truth in love, no matter who we’re talking to. The bully or whatever, but it’s time that we stand and it’s time that we open up a can and w say, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Everyone stand, everyone stand. Everyone stand. I love this. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I want to give you some hand gestures for this verse. You’ll never, ever, ever forget it. Think about it. When you’re bullied, opening up a can. But I want you to remember these hand gestures. I made these up when I was talking to a bunch of sixth graders in my late teens from this verse. This is how old this is. This morning I was running and I thought, “Lord, I’m gonna say that again!” OK. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. You watch me.
I … can. Let’s do it again. I can.. DO!… all … thingssss…. through Christ, who gives me strength. How do you like that? Let’s do it again. Come on, everybody. Even our online crowd, www.FellowshipLive.com. On television, stand up in the den. If you’re watching this in a bar stand up. I don’t care where you are, at all of our campuses. Ready? I can DO all things through Christ who gives me strength! That’s it… that’s it! So let’s drink the Living Water of the Word of God. Let’s spit out the Cool-Aid and drink the Living Water. Let’s don’t play the victim card, let’s stand and let’s be all that God wants us to be!