Pre-Fight Weigh In
September 8, 2013
Every fighter knows that the battle begins long before entering the octagon. They also know that one of the toughest parts of any fight is the pre-fight weigh in – often just hours before the fight. Fighters work tirelessly to trim the fat and sculpt themselves to make weight.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young helps families with their own pre-fight weigh in. He takes a look at the plan God has set in place and gives us a training regimen to help us cut the fat and make weight so we are ready when it’s time to enter the family octagon!
Illus: Man, I’m excited, too, to hear about Family Octagon. Just a couple of days ago I was talking to a friend of mine and during the conversation he said,
“I want to give you a compliment.” Now, we all like to receive compliments. It’s kinda funny when people say, “You know, I really like you and you’re great, but…” “You’re the man, but…” “You’re an awesome lady, but…” Whenever someone says ‘but’ you know everything they said before that doesn’t mean jack. But this guy just said, “I want to give you a compliment.” He said,
“You know, Ed, Fellowship Church is impressive with the campuses and what God has done, and I know that you and your wife have written a lot of books and that’s really something, but no doubt the greatest thing about you has gotta be your four kids.” When I heard that it kinda brought a tear to my eye because first of all, I thank God and his grace. Secondly, I married WAY over my head and those of you who are laughing know Lisa. You’re like, “yeah, he did. I don’t know how he got her but he did.” And then, I thought about Fellowship Church. Because Lisa and I have unashamedly partnered with Fellowship Church to have the kind of kids that we have. We partnered from the time they were preschoolers on up until now. Our twins are 19, our son is 21, and LeeBeth is 26. I’d be lying to you, though, if I said the family situation is an easy one. I’d be lying to you if I said our family has got it together. We’re perfect, blah-blah-blah. Because we’re not. We’re imperfect. We’re messy. However, we have a fantastic family.
Families are the ultimate. The ultimate fight is in the family because the family is fighting for the ultimate. Let me say that again. The family is the ultimate fight because we’re fighting for the ultimate. I’m not talking about fighting in the family (yeah, we’ll talk about that a little bit) but I’m talking about fighting for the family. Could it be that some of us are fighting the wrong foe? Could it be that some of us are fighting in the wrong ring?
Well today we embark on a series based on UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the MMA cats, mixed martial arts. If you know anything about the MMA, anything about UFC, cage fighting, the octagon, whatever you want to say, they’re people. They’re men and women who are taught a lot of stuff. They’re taught Brazilian jujitsu. They’re taught how to kick, they’re taught how to strike, how to punch, how to wrestle. They’re taught all of this stuff. And then the training regimen these guys go through is just ridiculous.
Illus: This past summer I was speaking out of state. And after I spoke I had the opportunity to meet a former UFC World Champion. In fact, he’s gonna fight for the UFC World Title very, very soon in his weight category. When I met him he walked up to me with three to four of his guys that he trains with that are all from Brazil. I’m talking, these guys were shredded. They were ripped. You could see their aortas they were so lean. And he talked to me and we went back and forth and he goes,
“Hey, I’m training for a fight. I would love for you to come by and watch me spar.” And I’m thinking, wow! That’s cool! UFC champion, up close and personal, watching him train? So I watched him train and he had a coach to help him with conditioning, another coach with nutrition, someone else striking, someone else kicking, someone else wrestling. And I was awed by what this guy was doing.
And I thought to myself, there’s only one thing I can think of when I think about and consider ultimate fighting. The family. Because the family is a fight. It’s a fight worth fighting for.
T.S. In this series called “Family Octagon” (the octagon is an eight-sided ring), we’re gonna talk about three things. This will be our three big ideas. The first one is (what’s up? How you doing?) the first one is love. It’s all about love, right? Love is a verb. Love is not passive, it’s active. Love. The second big idea, fight. Or you can say battle. The third big idea is win. Winning.
God loves you and me. God loves the family. The love is the fuel for the family fight to fight for what’s right so we can win again and again. That is the Tweet of the day. Love is the fuel for the fight to fight for what’s right so we can win again and again. God wants all of us to win. I’ll say it again. God wants every single person here to win. I don’t care if you’re single, I don’t care if you’re a single parent, I don’t care if you’re in the 10th grade, I don’t care if you’re 79 years old, this series is going to be for you. Because we’re all part of a family.
When I came into the world March 16, 1961 – yes, I’m 52 years old – when I came into the world I had and I have a mom and dad. Am I going to rapidly for anyone here? So on one hand I’m born into a family. Everybody is. On the other hand, though, when I’m born I’m estranged from the ultimate family. I’m an orphan from the ultimate family. Do you see the juxtaposition here? You’re estranged, alienated from God, our ultimate parent, yet we’re part of a family. Our family here should be a reflection of our family there.
Have you made this decision – that’s the question I’m going to pose to you today – to be adopted into the family of God? Because here’s what God did. Love-Fight-Win. Love – God loved the world so much he sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, die a sacrificial death, rise again. Jesus was and is a fighter. Don’t ever think he’s a pale, frail, blue-eyed, decaf-sipping white boy. No, no, no, no, no. Jesus was and is a fighter! He fought for you and me. He died, spilled his blood on the cross for your iniquities and mine. And on the third day he rose again and because of that, we win! We win! He wants the family to win.
So all we have to do is look around our culture and we’ve gotta realize the family ain’t working right. Obviously the way we do stuff in our culture is not happening. It’s not real love. The kind of love that God talks about, the depth of love he talks about, it’s not real. We’re fighting, as I said earlier, in the wrong ring. Probably fighting the wrong foe, and on top of that the family isn’t winning. It doesn’t look good for the family.
It seems as though everything is against the family. You turn to our government, our government for the most part is not for the family. They might say one thing but they’re doing another. Education is not really for the family. I know there are some exceptions, it’s not. Think about the world of sports, it’s not for the family. There are some good things going on but basically it’s not. Think about media. Think about music. Think about the arts. The only entity I would argue that is family-focused is the only thing that Jesus ever built, the local church. Once you receive Christ, because he’s done the adoptive work for us, once we receive him he paid the price for your adoption and mine, we’re adopted into the family of God. So I’ve got a physical birthday. Mine’s March 16, 1961 in Raleigh, North Carolina. That’s right, I’m from the dirty south. Also, I’ve got a spiritual birthday when I was born again into the family of God.
Now, when a child is born they’re born into a family and they’re born, I would argue, into the octagon.
“Ed, how can you say that?” Well, let me direct your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verse 33. Matthew 6:33. Those who have grown up in the church, you’ve probably heard this verse. And sadly we’ve feminized the family and we have read this verse like this: <gently> “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
That is not how this verse should read: <with conviction> “Seek first!”
No one gives you first! Hey, Dallas Cowboys, here’s first place. Miami Dolphins, here’s first place. South Carolina Gamecocks, let me just give you first place. This UFC fighter, this former world champion, they didn’t go, “Hey, here’s first.” No, you gotta take it! Now I’m not talking about your salvation. You’re born again, you’re adopted into the family of God. I’m talking about we have to fight to keep God first in our lives and in the family unit. <rewind sound effect> We’ve gotta fight to keep God first in our lives and in the family unit. It’s a battle. It’s a fight.
Lisa and I have been married for 31 years. We’ve had battles. We’ve had fights. Talk to our kids, we’ve had battles. We’ve had fights in the octagon. That’s part of it. Nowhere in scripture does it say family first. I’m still trying to find that verse. I’m still trying to find that verse. It sounds sexy, cool. Family first. It’s not in there. Family is not first. It’s not!
God is first! Marriage is second! Kids, they’re third. That’s the rank. God is #1, marriage is #2, kids are #3. And if God isn’t first nothing is in order. Why do we see so much chaos in our culture today? God’s not first. The ultimate fight, because we’re fighting for the ultimate.
God is first, Ephesians 5:1 says. Marriage is second, Ephesians 5:25 says. Children are third, Ephesians 6:1 says.
Whoa. That means that – wow, this is incredible – that my priorities are already set. In other words, I don’t need to debate or question or worry about priorities. Men, “What should my priorities be? I don’t know. Let me pray about my priorities. I don’t know what priorities… yeah, my priorities…”
But if we trust God, the author of relationships, the ultimate fighter, our priorities are already set in stone. Don’t even pray about it. Don’t even think about it. They’re set in stone. The deal is the commitments. Even the Harvard Business Review talked about this issue several years ago. They talked about the fact that commitments so often don’t reflect our priorities and there’s a delta, a gap, between the two. That’s why most people never achieve and do what they want to do. I’ve got better than that. Better than Harvard, deeper than Harvard, on a whole ‘notha level than Harvard. The priorities to win, to win! God, marriage, kids. To win! They are set. Our commitments must reflect our priorities. In other words…
OK, let’s say you’re gonna buy a boat. I mean I love boats. I love the water, fishing, whatever. Buy a boat. OK, buy a boat – buy a boat – buy a boat. Should I buy a boat? I don’t know… a boat, a boat. “Oh! I can buy a boat because I’ll spend a lot of time with my wife and the kids in the boat. We’re gonna go to the lake, yeah. We’re gonna go to the lake. I will go to the lake on Sundays…” Whoa. You’ve just jacked up that priority. You’ve just punched that priority. Your commitment has just kicked a roundhouse kick to that priority. Now, you can have a boat but that boat, that commitment to the boat, cannot encroach upon your priority to worship God regularly as a family in his house. Are you feeling me?
“Oh, man, my kid is really talented athletically. Man I’m gonna get him or her into AAU and private coaching and camps and spend all this money I don’t have because they might get a scholarship, man.” Well, first of all, let me tell you this. I don’t care how talented they are, they’re probably not gonna get a scholarship. They’ll either burn out or just quit. That’s usually what happens.
Basically they’re not gonna be good enough. I don’t care how good they are, usually good is not good enough. If you don’t believe me I’ll be happy to sit down and talk to you more about that. Because I happen, I did get a scholarship to play basketball at Florida State. And I thought I was all that until I walked into our first practice and looked at these cats and I’m like, what am I doing here? I mean, I’m happy to be on the team and got a scholarship but I can’t play with these guys! And that was back in the day! That was back when they had peach baskets instead of rims and nets. So I’m just saying…
When you make that commitment, mom and dad, what’s it gonna do with your commitment to God, to one another, and your kids? You’ve got to think about that. Your commitments need to play out and reflect the priorities. As a parent basically I’m here to parent. And for some of us we think just because we’re a parent that we’re parenting, and that’s not true. For some of us the only activity that we’ve engaged in as a parent was when we were sexually active to bring the kid into the world. Wow. This is gonna be a high-conviction series, I’m telling you.
So a parent is active. What’s a parent? We’re talking about ultimate fighting, we’re talking about the octagon. A parent is someone that teaches and trains his kids to leave. You teach and train your kids to leave. The Bible says, teaching, Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you’re on the road, when you lie down, when you get up.
And one of the things we have at Fellowship Church and this is awesome, we have a website called www.LeadershipforKids.tv. Parents, make sure your kids are logged onto it. We do the whole thing ourselves. We write the curriculum ourselves. Our curriculum for kids is seen in over 4,000 churches worldwide, the stuff we crank out right here at Fellowship Church. So please, I beg you, partner with the church in this teaching process.
Also, training. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” Not in the way he thinks he should go, or she thinks she should go. No, no. In the way what? In the way he should go. “Even when they’re old they’re not gonna to depart from it.”
So we’re teaching and training. First of all we’ve got to give them the knowledge, then we give them the training, the opportunities, then we tell them, “OK, it’s time to leave.” Spouses stay, kids leave. Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”
I had a hard time with leaving, because when I stepped into the octagon 31 years ago and got married, a lot of my stuff that I thought I knew, I mean it was OK, but I wasn’t really taught, I wasn’t really trained like I should have been taught or trained.
And I would argue that most of us spend more time being trained and being taught about how to put on a wedding and how to plan this cool honeymoon than what it means to be a husband and a wife, to have kids, and to battle it out in the octagon. That’s why it’s so critical for the church to teach this stuff. So this is as much for singles, for students, for children as it is for those of us in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s. Even if you’re a grandparent you can go, man, I can help my kids with this stuff!
Illus: So here I am. I’m married. I think I know what’s up. Lisa and I get back from our honeymoon and I step into the octagon. I don’t really know it. And I’m in the octagon and I say, “Wow, it’s Saturday. I’m going over to my mom and dad’s house and play basketball.” I leave Lisa in the apartment and I go over there and play basketball for three to four hours. I do it one Saturday, the next Saturday, the next Saturday. Whoa. A battle was ensuing. A fight in the octagon between Lisa and I. I had no idea. I hadn’t even cut the cord yet. It was still, “Mama! Dada!” Clueless! Guys, we’re so clueless, aren’t we? We really, really are.
You’ve gotta battle for that. You’ve gotta grow up. You’ve gotta leave, you’ve gotta cleave. So as a parent I’m teaching and training my kids to leave. That’s what you’re about, that’s what I’m about.
T.S. What does that look like? Well it looks like this. It looks like three things because there are three rounds to any fight, any UFC fight. Now, championships have five rounds but let’s talk about three rounds. I’m gonna hit on these subjects very, very rapidly.
The first one is attention. That is a fight we’re gonna have in every marriage, in every situation. Attention. Remember, God first, marriage is second, kids are third. God is first. You’ve gotta fight for first. Attention.
“Well, when I have a baby I’m just gonna give my baby attention 24/7. I’m gonna be like a helicopter parent. Because I need to pour my life into them and love them and show them the ropes!” Sounds good. Too much attention will give you some whiny, spoiled, bratty kids. Do you know some whiny, spoiled, bratty football players? You know some whiny, spoiled, and bratty businessmen and businesswomen? You know some whiny, spoiled, and bratty high school students? Many times they’re people who just got too much attention. They OD’d on attention. Like…. <sound effects> Oxygen is great. I love me some oxygen. But too much oxygen will kill us. I love water but too much water will drown us. Too much attention will mess you up.
So when you’re born into a family – check this out now – you’re born into a family, you’re born into the octagon, and at a surprisingly young age little babies look at themselves and they look at mom and dad and they go, “You know what? I can kick mom and dad’s butt. I like all the attention.” Because when babies are born we orbit everything around the baby, the baby, the baby, the baby, the baby, the baby, the baby, the baby, and the baby goes, “I like the press conferences. I like the money. I like the spotlight. I like being on television. Mom and dad I’m gonna kick your butt.” And little babies… <Ed’s fighting sound effects>… yeah! “Yeah! I won! I’m the man! I’m the girl!” and they’re little! And moms and dads go, “Wow. My kids run the show. I will just sit out here and sell popcorn,” and give him or her popcorn. “You want some soda? You want some shaved ice?” At their beck and call. That’s a kid-centric home. And too many homes are kid-centric.
And parents, some of you need to go home and win the battle and realize it’s God, then it’s the marriage, then it’s the kids. Because when the kids supersede the marriage we’re signing up for chaos. If God isn’t first, nothing is in order. Are you giving your spouse attention? I understand we give our kids attention. I would give my life for my kids, but are you feeling me?
How about schedule? Attention schedule, schedule, schedule. We’re made for order. Every person here, we’re made for order not disorder. We’re not made for chaos. We’re made for order. What kind of order? The Bible says we should work six days, stop working and start worshiping, right? We’re to corporately worship. As soon as possible, moms and dads, get your baby, get your kid on a schedule. On your schedule. Not their schedule, on your schedule. Not their schedule, on your schedule. Put them down. “Well, I’ll put them down when they’re ready.” No, put them down when you’re ready. They’re demand-fed for a little while but no long. Feed them when you’re ready.
I talk to parents and I sometimes ask them, “What time do you guys go to bed?”
“Oh, man, we go to bed…. I don’t know. Our kids go to bed… They’re, four and seven but I don’t know, 10, 11, sometimes 2 in the morning.” I’m like… I don’t say anything but I’m like, wow. Put them down when you’re ready. We need, we want that schedule. Are you feeling me? It’s all about the schedule.
“Well, I got teenagers! They’re all over the house.” Tell them, “Honey, be in your room by 9:30. If you come outside your room you’re gonna see some funky stuff. It’s mommy and daddy time.” Again, this is a battle. The battle is worth it. Schedule, schedule.
How about romance? Third one. Attention, schedule, romance. Romance, romancing the home. Romance! Remember that, guys?
Illus: One of the best sermons ever preached to me, I went with Lisa 19 years ago… 18 and a half years ago. Our twins had a checkup and there with the pediatrician, trying to be a man for all seasons. Pastor, father, whatever, and our pediatrician just, just, I mean, she jammed me. You talkin’ about a roundhouse? She goes,
“Ed, when was the last time you took Lisa out on a date?” and I’m thinking, I did that when I got her. I retired that jersey in the family room. That’s my courting jersey right there. Yeah, I know what to do, man! Jovan musk oil. Leisure suits, kinda platform shoes. <singing> Staying alive! Staying alive! She said,
“No, no, no. I’m talking about now.” And wow. She got up in my grill and that was a phenomenal sermon. She taught me the importance, a pediatrician, of a date night mate night.
Husbands, wives, date your mate. At least twice a month. I would say once a week. Because we’re built for that rhythm. I said earlier, we work six days, we worship on the 7th day. I would say the date night is an act of worship. It’s an oasis in the middle of the week.
Let’s say you spend $50 a week, which is a lot of cash money on the date. That’s like $2600 a year. That’s peanuts compared to what you’ll have to spend for a lawyer when you get a divorce. Three hundred dollars a hour?!? Somebody call somebody! So you’re gonna be romantic or you’re gonna be romantic with someone outside your marriage? Be romantic with your spouse! Date night. Mate night.
“But the kids will cry if we leave!” A kid has never died from crying too much. You’re teaching them: One day you’re gonna leave, like I’m leaving you right now on this date, that marriage is more important than you! And I know at many junctures it’s more work. People are like,
“It’s more work. Oh, it’s so much work to go on a date.” I know. But ultimately the work is worth it. Romance. Romance. Again, I’m talking about fighting. You gotta fight for this stuff. You gotta B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E. Be aggressive. Be aggressive. Jump into the octagon. Run the show. Fight the fight. Love – Fight – Win. Love is the fuel for the fight, to fight for what’s right so we can win again and again.
But too many of us are blaming boomers. Too many of us are Generation X, really are Generation Excusers. Too many of us are Generation Y, Generation Whine. It’s time to step up, take responsibility, and do what God wants us to do.
I’m gonna end this talk with a test. Are you ready for that? When you walked in did you get one of these Family Octagon Pre-Fight Weigh In tests? Did you get one of these? Make sure you get a pen, a pencil, maybe use an eyeliner pencil to write this down. Something to circle this. We’re gonna take a test and grade these tests and then next week we’re gonna come back and we’re gonna have some videos of some people and they’re gonna talk about their answers. And I’m gonna talk again about the Family Octagon.
The first question, and there are 8 questions because there are 8 sides to the octagon. The first question: Do you go on a date with your spouse at least twice a month. Number 1 – never. Everyone with me? Say, “Yes, I’m with you.” Number 2 – Sometimes. Number 3 – always.
Do you eat dinner as a family three times per week? At home or maybe at some vegan restaurant or sushi bar, I don’t know. Chicken fried steak and cathead biscuit joint? I don’t know.
Number 3, uh oh. This could get convicting here. Don’t be giving me mean looks. Do your children sleep in their own beds every night? Somebody help me! I talked to somebody recently, Lisa and I were talking recently, this kid’s four years old. “Oh yeah, he still sleeps with us.” Our kids would have nightmares, as I said before. They’d come in the room… I’d go, “Lisa, get up.” So Lisa would get up and we would take them back to their room, have a prayer, boom. They stayed in their own bed. Now, now and then, a major exception, maybe one time, but no, no, NO! Man, don’t do it.
Number 4 – Do you have sexual intimacy with your spouse two times per day? That’s the average. Oh, I’m sorry! Whoa! I meant a week! I watched some guys, “What? Amen! I love this church! I think they’ve got a Newcomers class today, honey. We’re joining.”
Number 5 – Do you and your spouse present a unified front (oh man) when children question your authority? Man, our children still will question our authority over certain things. And they know at young ages how to work one against the other, don’t they mom and dad? And single parents, that’s a tall order.
Number 6 – Do you have a set bedtime for your kids that is consistently enforced. Many times we’re like, “Man, I don’t wanna. It’s just too much work to discipline the kids.” It’s worth it. God, our perfectly heavenly parent, disciplines us because he loves us.
Number 7 – Do you regularly evaluate your calendar to prevent ECA-itis? Extra-curricular activity-itis. Most of us are overcommitted and we’re over the top. It’s about the commitment.
Number 8 – Is weekly church attendance a priority for you and your family? I’m talking about 4 out of six weeks being in the house. Four out of six. Tally these up, keep these. Next week bring them back and I’m telling we’re gonna go to some pretty cool places.
Now I want you to pray with me just for a second. Every head is bowed at all of our campuses, all of our environments.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]