January 28, 2018
By Ed Young
At one point or another, we have all dissed God’s function for our lives. Thus, we all have a level of dysfunction in our lives. However, to get the most out of the life God has given us, we must do more than recognize the effects of our dysfunction. In this message, Pastor Ed Young helps us dive deep to discover the cause of our dysfunction, and he helps us realize what it takes to experience true freedom and continue pursuing God’s purpose for us.
ILLUS: I tell you, being in this car brings back memories of a boating trip I took years ago. I was with a good friend of mine and we were launching a boat like this one in a beautiful, beautiful lake. This lake had the coffee-black water, the lily pads, the moss. We’d seen some crazy creatures on the banks. We’d seen the water moccasins, the nutria, we’d seen the big alligator snapping turtles, and just kind of a swampy lake. We launched the boat and we’re motoring across this body of water. <boat motor sound effects> You know how you do when you’re in a boat. You can look around <boat motor>. All of a sudden… <boat motor… poowsh!> we hit something. Now that’s a common occurrence, especially in kind of a swampy lake, to hit something. And I thought to myself, we’ll just keep going. But everything stopped. So we rocked the boat back and forth, nothing happened. We paddled, nothing happened. Cranked the motor up, nothing happened. I thought, man, we’re stuck. Something is up. So I decided to do something and I acted like it was no big deal but in my mind I was thinking, <shuddering sound effect>. I curled my toes over the transom of the boat, dove into the coffee-black water, and I swam up underneath the hull of the boat feeling around for what was messing with us. I was trying to feel around and find that object or something that was keeping us stuck. And I touched it and you think, is it a snake? Is it – I don’t know – an alligator? No, no, no! Wow! It’s a massive stump.
This stump had literally impaled our boat. We were like a floating shish kabob. It had penetrated the fiberglass into the Styrofoam so the more we rocked the boat, the more we tried to get off of this, we were boring a giant hole in the hull of our boat. Had we continued doing what we did we would have sunk. But we were stuck out in the middle of this beautiful lake because of an underwater hindrance, this stump.
Maybe, just maybe I just described your life. Maybe, just maybe, I mean you don’t look like it but maybe you’re stuck. Maybe you want to move along and you know you should function in a different way but because of your dysfunction and the reason we all have dysfunction is because we dissed God’s function for our lives. Because of our dysfunction, because of your dysfunction, to personalize it, you’re stuck. You can’t move. And you think, well, maybe it’s due to my family of origin. Maybe it’s due to my marriage. Maybe it’s due to the cards I’ve been dealt. Maybe it’s due to my genetics. I’m stuck. And you’re trying to get off of this stump but it’s not working.
I’m in a series called Adult Children. We’ve been saying around here that we treat our children like adults and yet when we become adults we act like children. Children learn at surprisingly young ages how to live in Denial. This was a Denali but we had someone to change it because we live in Denial. And growing up, a lot of us lived in denial and it served us well. Now that we’re adults we still are in denial. Maybe you grew up in a family where divorce occurred. Maybe you grew up in a family where you had an addict. Maybe you grew up in the family of a narcissist. Maybe you grew up where there was some sort of emotional, physical, or even sexual abuse. I’m here to tell you that those issues can keep us from cruising. Those issues can cause so much commotion, so much mayhem that we can’t really do what God wants us to do because we haven’t dealt with those underwater character stumps that have us stuck. So what is that character stump? What is that thing in your life? Are you man enough, are you woman enough, to curl your toes over the transom of the boat to dive down deep in the murky, black, critter-infested water and feel that stump? To name that stump? I know it’s weird. I know it’s kind of freaky but I want to challenge you to do so.
In this series we looked at each other in the first week and said, “Hey, I can’t change.” In the second week we noticed that we can’t change, but God can change, and then we said to ourselves, Lord, I want to submit my will and my purpose to you. We called it the will-barrow step, or the will, W-I-L-L, God’s will barrow because God’s will for your life and mine is amazing. God wants us to function to his purpose, to do his will.
You remember when Jesus taught us to pray? Jesus said, “Our Father who art in however, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” It is what it is, right? God’s will is perfect in Heaven. And those of us who say “I can’t change,” God you can change me. I want to submit my life and my will to you, God. Well, what’s going on in Heaven can happen on earth. Not perfectly, but it can happen. Are you in God’s will? Are you in God’s purpose? To understand all of this, to understand the luggage rack and the baggage that we carry, you need to go to www.fellowshipchurch.com and look at the other messages to really understand the context of what I’m talking about.
T.S. But let’s go back to the boat. Are you ready to look at some character stumps that have you stuck?
The Bible says in John 7:24, let’s read it together. “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
Well, what’s the first character stump that all of us deal with? As we dive deep, as we go under the water, as we feel around, the first one is pride. Pride, the precursor, the forerunner of all sin, pride. I can recognize pride in you but I have a hard time recognizing it in myself. Oh, I can see it on social media but I can’t see it on my posts. Oh, that’s a humble brag. I can’t believe she would post that, or he would post that. Man, they have a pride problem. So in this series I want us to have more thumbs than fingers. At Fellowship Church that’s what I love at Fellowship. We’re not a finger-pointing church, it’s more about the thumb.
Lisa and I lived in a neighborhood years ago and the houses in the neighborhood were nice. They were cool. But there was one house that was totally junked out, full of crap. And I called the people, although I’d never met them, Jim and Jill Junkster. They had jibbeldy-junk everywhere. You know what I’m saying to you? Those people that just had too much going on. I wanted to go over there and say, “Have you ever just looked around? Have you ever noticed how junky your house is? It looks like a flea market in Canton, Texas, man. It looks bad! Clean your act up!” But see, I’d be an idiot to do that. I have to take care of my own yard, my own house, my own situation. So I know it’s tempting to think about your husband, or your father, or your ex, or your boss, or your coworker, or your teammate, or your teacher, but think about yourself. Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine our ways (the Bible implores us to do so) and test them and let us return to the Lord.” The ride of pride.
See, pride comes before all sin. I can’t lust until first of all I’m prideful. I say, you know what? My sexual function is my deal, it’s not yours, God. So I lust and I have a God-given desire that goes haywire. The Bible says about pride something very, very real. It says in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit goes before a fall.”
Could it be that you have a pride situation? Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, oh, I know the prideful person. That person who’s blinged out, the person that drives a fancy car. That person that’s always talking about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me! I know that person. You know the person that’s always one-upping everybody at the party. I’m here and you’re there! Oh, that’s pretty cool but look at me! You know? You know? You know? Yeah, that person, the me-monster, that person’s prideful but I would submit to you that some of the most prideful people I know are prideful in their humility. Interesting.
So the moment I think I’m humble, I’m prideful in my humility. Wow. Pride, pride, pride. Pride is ugly. It is. Pride. I can’t say pride without thinking of I. Pride, me, my. It’s just this natural tendency we have to elevate our self above God. You have to say, you know what? I’ve got a pride issue. Have you ever done that? Have you ever said, “I have a pride character stump in my life.”? Well, there’s another one. And this message is tough, I’m telling you. The first three steps, OK. I can deal with that. But when it talks about doing a sinventory, that’s step 4. Really getting into that deep and dark and dirty water and finding the character stump of pride. Or maybe the second one, envy. Envy. I wrote a book years ago and the title is Fatal Distractions. And one of the chapters I wrote about was this sin called envy, envy. You know, you hear of someone who is green with envy. We look at people with an envious eye. We’re envious over someone else’s spouse, or portfolio, or house, or influence, or their gifts.
We’re going to find out that envy and greed are twins, ugly twins. U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly twins. I mean greed is a sin but envy is on a HNL, a ‘hole ‘notha level. I’m gonna bring back that. I haven’t said it for a long time but with the whole millennial crowd, what’s old is new. What’s old school is new school. Let’s say it again, ‘hole, ‘notha level. Envy, envy, envy.
I think about the Bible. I think about Saul. You remember when Saul saw David? David had just defeated Goliath. He was blowing up on social media, trending on social media, all these clicks, all these likes, all these followers and Saul looked at him and the Bible says he looked at David with that eye of envy. Envy is “I want what you have.” And when I’m envious I’m always comparing myself with others. So when I’m envious – this is just me – usually I feel discouraged. Sometimes I’m just discouraged when I’m envious. I’m like, “Man, they’re better than me. They’re just better! Well, I feel bad. I’m not that talented, I’m a no-count.” Or, I compare myself with others and I say, “I’m better than them! Oh, I’m a lot better than her. Yes! I’m better than that!” Envy takes us to dark places. Could you be dealing with this pride. Maybe you’re dealing with this desire to hear the words you never heard growing up: You’re great at that. You’re good at doing that. I love you. Maybe pride is that character stump. Maybe it’s envy. Maybe you grew up in a very competitive family of origin and you think, I’ve got to always belittle someone because when I belittle someone I feel better about myself. Maybe you dress to belittle others. Maybe you talk to belittle others. And it’s a sinister way of being envious.
And then, I think about another character stump, there’s another one. I know it’s negative but I know it’s going to get positive, I promise you. Anger is another one. Anger. Maybe anger is driving you. Anger, anger. Everybody is outraged these days, have you noticed that? Everybody’s outraged. Everybody’s angry. I was reading this past week online about all the different groups that are angry. I promise you. There’s the outrage of the Knitting Association. There is the outrage of coaches, the outrage of teachers, of course the outrage of lawyers and preachers, and everybody is just outraged. Everybody’s angry, you know? We even have groups that are outraged about all the outrage that’s going on. It’s like our culture is cutting its teeth now on being outraged. I read one psychologist who talked about all of these “champions of moral outrage” and this psychologist was saying so often when people stand up and go on social media about moral outrage, they just want you to notice them and say, oh that’s a good guy. That’s a good girl. And this man was submitting that do they really care that much about the issue that they’re freaking out over? Anger.
Anger is an easy emotion. I’m just, I get angry easy. It’s easy. It’s a secondary emotion, did you know that? It’s not the primary emotion. Go back to Saul. I mentioned him earlier. Saul, instead of feeling insecure, instead of absorbing that ‘wow, I’m gonna run in my own lane and be my own guy’, what did Saul do? Saul jumped to anger. Saul tried to kill David over anger. Anger, it’s an easy emotion. What do we do with anger? Maybe you grew up in a family and maybe you have learned how to do anger like your family of origin. Some people suppress anger. We Tupperware anger. We put it away, put it in the fridge, and it’s there for 4-5 months, maybe 4-5 years. Then one day we open it… <whoom!> where did that come from? Or some of us just express it. Yeah, we handle it gunslinger-style. <The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme song> Who knows that song? Oh, that’s for the 45 and over crowd! Yeah! If you don’t know that I’m telling you, talk about some great movies? Those spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood, I love those things! You can kind of see the sweat, you hear the flies, I love those! The cigar… man, we just don’t make movies like that anymore. Anyway, I was thinking about those movies. But some of us handle anger that way. We just rage on people, rage on our spouse, rage on our kids, rage at work. We just love rage. It’s the age of rage. The mood is rude. I’ll just get angry. I mean, somebody cuts you off in traffic, oh my goodness! You’re standing in line at Starbucks and the person in front of you changes her order. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t want four shots, I wanted two shots. Two caff and two decaf, and plus the foam is not enough on my cappuccino.” <snarling sound effect> We’re angry! Now there’s a time to be angry. Most of us, though, jump on anger because that’s the way we learned how to deal with stuff. And it’s an easier emotion. Feel the first feelings. So is anger keeping you stuck? Is anger keeping you from cruising?
Now the fourth character stump… well, let me put it this way. When I say this don’t shift nervously in your seat because we’ll know that you deal with it. Lust. I told you. Lust. As I said earlier, lust is a God-given desire that’s gone haywire. We’re sexual creatures, sex is a good thing, it’s a God thing. I’ve lectured about it, written about it. We have an attraction for the opposite sex. But what has happened is we’ve dissed God’s function and we’ve said, you know what? I’m gonna function sexually my way. And you have this whole craziness going on, this whole thing with porn. This whole thing with #metoo from Harvey Weinstein to Bill Cosby. You have premarital sex, you have homosexuality, you have adultery, you have premarital sex, you have people masturbating in front of computers by the millions and millions and millions for their sexual hit, and you’ve got lust and lust is messing a lot of people up. Could it be that it’s messing you up? Could it be that lust is putting a hole in the hull of your life and you’re sinking because of it? Thirty-five percent of all internet downloads are porn-related. Porn increases marital infidelity by 300%. That means if you watch porn together or separately. The most common female role in porn is women in their 20’s portraying teenagers. Several years ago I did a television interview with a porn star and her porn star boyfriend, and they actually talked about some of those issues with me as they defended porn. Porn is a global estimated $97 billion industry with about $16 billion of that coming from the U.S. Unbelievable. Pornography.
How do you deal with lust? Are you dropping those comments to find the lust quotient in other people? Do you find yourself in this situation where you’re functioning your way and you’re not functioning God’s way? I’m here to tell you that you do sex God’s way and great things will happen. But if you don’t, I mean, read the secular stats on this stuff, friends! It’s dark and deep and dirty and nasty, so no wonder half of the marriages are ending in divorce! No wonder the mayhem due to divorce and abuse and addiction. Most of the roles that porn stars play in the movies, the female porn stars, would be that of teenage girls. And we wonder about child porn? We wonder about all this stuff? Are you kidding me? Yet our world does not have the answers. The world of science doesn’t have it, biology doesn’t have it, psychology doesn’t have it. Yeah, they can say there’s a problem but what’s the answer? Is it keeping you stuck?
Another one is greed. Greed, what is greed? Is that saying you should never have any ambitions or goals? No, it’s not saying that. Proverbs 28:25 says, “The greedy stir up conflict but those who trust in the Lord will…” What? Well, you sounded excited about that. “But those who trust in the Lord will (what?) prosper!”
Yes! We get in the will (W-I-L-L) barrow we’re going to prosper. Does that mean have a lot of money? For some people. Does that mean to have just amazing relationships? Yeah, because that’s more than what money can buy. Does that mean we can do life the way we’re supposed to do it? Yes, because we’re functioning the way God wants us to function. But greed is when I say more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more! And greed will make you nasty, man. I know some people who are greedy and they don’t have much. They have this scowl on their face. They look bad. Greedy people. I know this one guy who’s greedy. I met him when he was a young guy, before he had anything and he was, he looked good. As he’s gotten older – and he doesn’t go to church here so don’t look around – as he’s gotten older this guy has gotten freakier and freakier. And I’ve talked to a number of people who have done business with him and they’re like, “Man, this guy is greedy! Just greedy!” You can have stuff. The Bible is not anti-ownership. You can have goals and do all that but are you generous? Are you unselfish? Because if you selfish your self will smell like a fish.
ILLUS: One time I took the twins fishing. They were tiny! We caught a little perch and without me knowing it they put the perch in my tackle box. I went home and put the tackle box up in our garage and after about two weeks of triple-degree August Texas heat our garage was not smelling too pretty. And finally we figured out what the problem was, a fish! You’re selfish, you’ll smell up the joint.
Another one, if you’re keeping score, #6 that’s gluttony. What’s gluttony? The word gluttony comes from a Latin term to gulp <gulping sound effects> too much food or drink, or I would say not enough food or drink. How do you spell relief? Give me some nachos and cheese! Can I have another milkshake? We’re like a bunch of blue sharks in a feeding frenzy. An obsession with food, too much food or too little food. We have a whole culture now that worships food. Oh, you’ve gotta eat clean, man! Eat clean! Gluten free! Organic! Vegan! Forks over knives! And we bow down at the altar of food, and we worship physiques, and worship all of that. We say, “Yeah, I’m eating clean, man. Yeah, I know, at least I’m not addicted to porn or have an anger problem.” You’re addicted to food! You’re addicted to having an 8-pack! You’re addicted to working out! You’re addicted to yourself! You’re a glutton! It’s so easy, so easy to do that. We have eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, just for the look and we so often say I’m just eating clean to camouflage that deadly sin. Wow, this a tough message. I don’t even like to talk about this stuff. Let’s be honest. Let me do one more, though, and we’ll change the subject to something good.
Slothfulness. What’s a sloth? It’s a slow-moving, tree-dwelling creature, a sloth. I love this next verse (Proverbs 26:14 KJV). Check it out. <creaky sound effect> “As the …” what? “ As the door..” There you go, that’s better than my sound effect right there and I’m not being envious. “As the door turneth upon his hingeseth, so doth the slothful upon his bedeth.”
So, a lot of people deal with slothfulness. I’m not talking about sloppiness. Well, I guess you could say that but really it’s sloppiness. Like, the sloth always says, “Oh yesterday… tomorrow… oh you must be talking about tomorrow… or yesterday.” Well, how about today? “Oh, no, that’s yesterday or tomorrow.” They just kind of skim over things. They make decision of comfort, soft commitment. You know what I’m saying to you? They never really complete the task. They have all these dreams and all these unfinished projects. Could that be stalling you, keeping you from cruising? Sinventory. The 7 deadly character stumps.
ILLUS: I left you hanging because I left myself and my friend out in the middle of the lake. You’re going, what happened? We were trapped. We were stuck. I swam up under the boat, felt this giant stump, felt the hole in our hull. I told my friend,
“Listen, you go to the opposite side of the boat, I’m gonna dive to the bottom of this lake and I’m gonna come up as hard as I can and push this boat off the stump and I think it’ll work.” He was like,
“OK, bro.” He called me bro. Whatever happened to that? Bro. See, that’s old school. Let’s bring it back. Let’s call each other bro. What’s up, bro? Just say it. Just turn to your neighbor and say “What’s up, bro?” I’ve never really used the term bro but I’m starting to use it now. Again, what’s old school is new school. Anyway, I dove down and when my fit hit the bottom… I mean, I like the outdoors but I’m like, what is down here? You never know. When you can’t see, that freaks me out, man! I’m like oh my gosh! And lily pads all up in my shoulders and stuff and little, you know, leeches and stuff. And I’m like – wham! So I go up and push as hard as I could. The boat wasn’t that big, I mean we’re not talking about a giant boat. But I was able to get it off of the stick up, crawl back in the boat, and we <boat motor sound effect> cruised across the lake. I did several things. Things that I am going to challenge you to do.
I got out of the boat and stopped the shenanigans of just on the surface paddling and cranking the motor up and rocking the boat. I got out of the boat, in the water, found the character stump. Then I told my friend about it.
That’s your homework. Your homework is James 5:16. “Therefore (anytime you see therefore always ask, ‘what’s it there for, God?’) confess your sins to …” Who? We didn’t say that with much conviction. I thought it was just God and I! Come on, Ed! You’re…. that’s the first thing. But the second thing the Bible says confess your sins to someone with skin on. OK, “therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for (who?) each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
The prayer, the prayer, the prayer. So confess one of your deadly hang-ups. Which one is it? Just write it down. Now somebody who is a mentor, somebody who is spiritually mature. Maybe in your small group, maybe a pastor, maybe a Christian counselor.
Here’s what I do when I’m prideful. When I’m prideful in this meeting I say… when I’m prideful here’s what I post… just write it down. Whatever it is, say it. When you’re specific you’ll be prolific. So confess it to God, confess it to others. But here’s what we do. So often we want deliverance from our own prayer requests. Did you get that? I want to change! I know I can’t change but you’re about change. I get in the will-barrow, I have these character stumps. Well, God starts working in your life and he’s like, I’m answering your prayer! You want patience so I’m gonna put you in a situation where you’re going to have to have patience by the Holy Spirit of God. I mean, you’re talking about pride? Pride is your issue? Well, I’m gonna put you in a situation where you’re gonna be tempted to one-up that person. You’re gonna wait for his lips to stop moving and say, “You think that’s something, I went on a yacht to the Maldives…” Me, me, me. So don’t ask God to deliver you from your own prayer requests. Proverbs 28:13, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
God wants you to cruise. Don’t diss his function. Go with it. Locate, replace, that character stump. Stop your paddling. Stop cranking the motor. Dive overboard. Tell God about it and a friend about it and you’ll be free. Free indeed.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]