FC True Fellowship Stories: Part 4 – Episode 4: Transcript & Outline



Episode 4

Ed Young

April 8, 2001

We have been in a series called True Fellowship Stories.  It’s kind of a take-off on the popular series on television called the E True Hollywood Story.  It’s been amazing to see what all has transpired during this whole session.  We have interviewed many different people from many different backgrounds, those who are connected to Fellowship Church.  It’s incredible to see the change and to see what God is doing.  I thought I would sort of give you a mini montage, a review if you will, of the interviews; because, during these sessions, I think we have seen one common thread.  I am going to see if you can pick it up.  Check it out.


Roxanne Phillips:  I know it’s easy to say because I have it all, but I had it all and I had nothing.  There is no piece of jewelry.  There’s no fancy car.  There’s nothing that is going to fill your heart like God and make you happy and make you whole.

Henry Alayon:  But we were not put on this earth for us.  I’m sorry, but that is just the way it is.  We are here to tell people about Jesus Christ.

Darryl Sydor:  Something just came over me and took action, and took control of me.  I just turned and said, “Would you like to go down there?”  It was a great feeling, and I can say from that day forward, it has been great.

Sharlene Sydor:  The best decision we ever made.

(End of Video)



Episode 4

Ed Young

April 8, 2001

We have been in a series called True Fellowship Stories.  It’s kind of a take-off on the popular series on television called the E True Hollywood Story.  It’s been amazing to see what all has transpired during this whole session.  We have interviewed many different people from many different backgrounds, those who are connected to Fellowship Church.  It’s incredible to see the change and to see what God is doing.  I thought I would sort of give you a mini montage, a review if you will, of the interviews; because, during these sessions, I think we have seen one common thread.  I am going to see if you can pick it up.  Check it out.


Roxanne Phillips:  I know it’s easy to say because I have it all, but I had it all and I had nothing.  There is no piece of jewelry.  There’s no fancy car.  There’s nothing that is going to fill your heart like God and make you happy and make you whole.

Henry Alayon:  But we were not put on this earth for us.  I’m sorry, but that is just the way it is.  We are here to tell people about Jesus Christ.

Darryl Sydor:  Something just came over me and took action, and took control of me.  I just turned and said, “Would you like to go down there?”  It was a great feeling, and I can say from that day forward, it has been great.

Sharlene Sydor:  The best decision we ever made.

(End of Video)

Did you pick up that common connection?  Commitment.  Commitment.  The Alayons’, Roxanne Phillips, Darryl and Shar Sydor, they all talked about commitment.  What does it mean when you say that word “commitment?”  It’s thrown around a lot these days.  Commitment means to pledge yourself to a position no matter what the price tag.  It means to obligate, to put yourself on the line, to give your word you are going to do something now and in the future.

Sadly, though, commitment in our culture is a sort of convenient and collapsible commodity, wouldn’t you agree?  We talk about it a lot, but do we really do it?  For example, how many of you own a laptop computer, you have a laptop?  Go ahead and confess it.  You’ve got one.  I do too.  Laptops are wild.  You carry these puppies around in a briefcase or whatever, and when it is time to use them, when it is convenient, you take them out, plug them in, open them up and you type away.  When it is inconvenient, what do you do?  Unplug them, close them up, and put them away.

Commitment is like that.  When it is convenient, we say, “Oh, yeah, I’m committed.  I’ll open it up.  Plug it in.  Here I go.”  When it’s not, we shut it down, put it away, and say, “Shh.  It’s not going to serve me well right now.”

I think a lack of commitment has reached an epidemic in our culture.  I think we would all agree with that.  Think about it for month to month apartment leases, to prenuptial agreements in marriage, from free agency in athletics to escape clauses in contracts, we kind of pride ourselves in not really keeping our word.  If the truth were known, most people in our world today have that decision faking, work shaking, vow forgetting, job quitting, church hopping, spouse shopping mentality that runs from commitment.  We would rather bail out than blast through.  We’d rather leave than last.  We’d rather throw in the towel than stay in the game.  A lack of commitment.

A lot of us are committed, but I think we are committed to the wrong things.  Author Jay Grant Howard says that Americans are overly committed, overly stimulated, overly challenged and then he adds overly in the wrong areas.  I think all of us could ramp up on our commitment quotient, don’t you?

As many of you know, about eleven years ago, we began Fellowship Church with several hundred people in a small rented office complex in Irving, TX.  One of the first couples to commit to membership and to our vision at Fellowship were some people that Lisa and I had known from the Houston area who had moved up to Dallas.  Little did I realize it but when they committed to membership, their commitment to our little church was but a microcosm of their commitment to God and to each other.


Mark Skinner:  We were skiing in March of 1997, snow skiing, and Pam noticed that her left leg was not quite as responsive as it had been.  She thought she might be tired or maybe have a muscle spasm or something like that.  She got to thinking, “Physiologically, something is not right here.  I am not lifting my leg properly.  I’m not stepping properly.”

The first week of June, 1998, we went to Rochester, MN.  We spent about three days there with their neurological staff at which time they diagnosed Pam with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Typically, death is the result of this disease via the lack of oxygen that is circulated to the brain.  Pam and I spent probably the next six months grieving about that, but at the same time we both grasped hold of the concept that God has a plan for our lives.  We don’t know in our finite wisdom how all of this works out for the long run.  We do know that God knows.

She has progressed over the past two years to the point now where she is completely bedridden and completely dependent upon others for her health care and hygiene and things like that in general.  There is probably no one that had any more energy than Pam.  Pam was typically up about 4:30 in the morning.  She was just hyperactive, always involved in anything the kids were doing, coaching t-ball.  She was just tremendously active, tremendously well respected in her job at work.  So for her to come from that point right there, to virtually putting the brakes on her life as she knew it, that was very difficult for her to do.

Ed:  You and Pam, correct me if I am wrong here, I know you guys would have gone to, you guys attended Fellowship Church in it’s earliest embryonic days.  We had several hundred people.

Mark:  Yes.  We first started visiting up here the weekend you came up in view of a call, when you preached.

Ed:  And all my hair was dark.

Mark:  All your hair was dark and we were a whole lot younger back then.  We felt led to join the church and become a part of it.  We have since that time been a part of it.  For the past twenty years, I have been involved in the corporate real estate business as a real estate broker, commercial real estate broker.  It’s a commission only job.  If I don’t spend the time in the business, you know, the income is directly related to the amount of time I spend in that business.  This whole thing having to spend time away from that business now, Ed, in dealing with Pam and the things that we are having to go through as a family has been difficult on that aspect of my business.  There just seems to be always the next deal around the corner.  Even though I may not have as much time to spend looking for that deal, the Lord has really blessed our family by providing for us during this time.

Ed:  I think about a lot of things when I think about you and Pam knowing you through the years.  But definitely the suffering thing is huge, but also the commitment level from you.

Mark:  When we got married, we made a commitment before our friends, before our God, that we would be with each other no matter what happened in life, until death do us part.  To take that commitment, as you said, it’s easy to do when things are going well, but when life throws you a curve like we have got right now, you have to rely on something to serve as the cohesive glue in that commitment.  That glue has been our relationship with Jesus Christ.  I feel like that it is my responsibility to take care of Pam.  It’s my responsibility to see that my kids are raised in a Godly manner.  It’s not an overwhelming responsibility.  God has lifted that burden from me.  God has helped me deal with that burden and provided exterior influences through our friends and acquaintances that have allowed me and helped in dealing with that.

Mary Ann Skinner:  I remember looking at Mark and saying, “You know, Mark, what I really think Pam needs more than ever from you is to know that you are going to be there for her from now till whatever it takes.”  I remember him looking at me and saying, “Mother, I will never leave her.”  That was a really great comfort to me to realize that he was committed to the end.  I have tried to help Mark as much as possible with the boys by coming on Sunday afternoons or maybe sometimes on Saturday afternoons and helping him with laundry.  I spend the nights during the week so that I can help get the boys up for school and see that they are dressed and off for school, lunches packed, whatever it takes.

Not that we ever doubted God’s grace and his sufficiency, but it’s in times like these when you experience it.  And anytime that we have had a need, God has provided for that need in so many different ways.  The boy’s school, they have provided meals for two and a half years now, five nights a week every single week.  People have prayed and lifted us up, and without those prayers, I know we would not have been able to have dealt with this at all.

Ed:  Mark, what have been the most difficult times for you, and what were you going through, what was going through your mind when you felt like these were the darkest days for you?

Mark:  There are days, Ed, that I wish I didn’t have to do what I know I have to do.  I don’t want to get Pam up.  I don’t want to bath her.  I don’t want to have to feed her.  I don’t want to have to dress her.  I just want to go out in the yard and work or I want to go fishing with my friends or play golf.  But I know that my commitment first and foremost is to my wife, Pam.  My wife is my inner being right now.  I take care of her to the best of my ability.  It’s not like I can walk away from it.  It’s just something inside me that motivates me to get up each morning to make sure that she is taken care of.  I have been committed to that and committed to her.  That takes love to another level.  There is not a physical intimacy in our marriage, other than the fact that I kiss Pam.  But God has taken the commitment level to another level.  It’s beyond the base physical, emotional level.

Ed:  Tell me, Mark, about your children.  Tell me their ages, etc.  Talk to me about them.

Mark:  Joshua is fourteen, just turned fourteen this past month.  Jacob is nine and a half now.  But they’re great kids, actively involved in sports and their school programs and doing well.  They simply enjoy life.  They all understand that Lou Gehrig’s is a terminal disease.  They do understand the finality of it all and it remains to be seen ultimately how they are going to take the final aspects of it.  They seem to have a pretty good grasp on it.

Joshua:  We talk to her.  We tell her about what we did at school or how we did at our baseball game or what the Rangers game was like, or Stars game.  Since she can’t really talk, she smiles.  Sometimes we tell her a story and she laughs.

Jacob:  I walk in there everyday after school and tell her what I did.  When I come home, I have so much stories to tell, me and my brother, just sit there for hours telling.

Mark:  Ed, we have from the Fellowship Church, the Home Teams group that we participated with, have gotten together, and there are several women within that organization, within that Home Team group, that come and read to Pam for about an hour a day each day.  Pam can’t respond back to them, but she can smile and acknowledge their presence.  She knows that they are there.  Her mental faculties are all still there, so she understands that they are reading to her.  She enjoys their visits.  It’s just a time for her to interact in her own way.

Dedo Mitchell:  Well, our Home Team first found out that Pam had a need.  We knew that she was ill.  We just wanted to be able to do something.  We found out that she wanted to have somebody just to come and visit her.  So our Home Team decided that a great thing for us to do is to just take some women everyday of the week, one day a week, and just go over and read and just visit with her.  We joke and laugh a lot, give facials, paint nails.

Debby Wade:  I think God just spoke to my heart to be there.  There is something to be gained in this but you can also do some giving.  It was amazing how I would speak to the women and they would just talk about the way Pam had blessed their life.  To see the desire and the pleasure on her face, it’s just a wonderful blessing, a real neat experience.

Dedo:  Every time I call Mark, he is here in an instant.  I mean, if we have ever needed him when I have been here, he talks to me, asks me if there is a problem, what he needs to do and then he is here.

Ed:  I will never forget the time, Mark, when I was fortunate enough to participate in your son’s baptism.  Pam could not come up to the church due to her physical limitations, so we baptized out in your swimming pool and they wheeled Pam out there.

Mark:  You baptized Jacob and Pam got to be a participant in that because it was there at the house and she was out there by the pool.  And she had a grin ear to ear.  She had almost lost her voice at the time, couldn’t really speak clearly.  But I knew from seeing the look on her face and the glow that that was one of the things that I think…one of the major milestones for her was to see her kids both become Christians.

It’s a part of spiritual growth to give things up.  I have had to learn to give things up, to simply go to God and say, “I can’t do this.”  God never promised us that life was going to be easy, but he did promise us that he would give us the tools to go through life and to make life as good as he can possibly find for us.  I know in the depth of my heart that God has a plan for what we are going through and I rejoice that someday I am going to get to sit with him and see how all of this transpired over time.  Even though we are going through what we are going through, life is still fun and there is a lot of new and exciting things out there.  It’s by the grace of God.

(Video ends)

If the only thing you get is, “Wow, I should be thankful for my life because I don’t have to deal with what the Skinner’s have to deal with.  Or, wow, my deal is pretty easy compared to theirs.”  If that is what you are thinking right now, you have sadly missed the point.  It’s all about commitment.  That’s the overriding theme.  That’s the octane that is driving it all, commitment.  So the question hangs out there, how do I ramp up my commitment?  Against the backdrop of the life of the Skinners’, what are the criteria of commitment?  Let’s run through them in the few moments that remain.

I am talking about how to ramp up your commitment level.  Right up front, if we are going to be people of commitment, people like the Skinner’s, people like God has wired us up to be, we have got to contemplate the character and the commitment of Jesus Christ.  We’ve got to contemplate his character.  God says in Hebrews 13, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  In Luke, chapter 22, Jesus, a few hours after he was arrested falsely accused of a crime, a few hours before he was crucified for your sins and mine, he was on his knees in prayer and here is what he said, “Father, (pick up his commitment now) if you are willing, take this cup from me.”  Jesus saw what was going to happen on the horizon of his life and he said, “Lord, if it is your will, let it pass, if there is any other way.”  Then he said, “Yet, not my will but yours be done.”

Christ’s commitment was based on his Father’s will.  My commitment, your commitment must be based on the same thing.  We have got to say, “God, not my agenda, yours.  Not my will, yours.  Not my plan, yours, God.  I commit to you.”  Look what happened in the next verse.  “An angel from heaven appeared to him, and strengthened him.”  See the progression?  Jesus prays.  Jesus commits to the will of the Father.  Then, once he did that, once he committed to God, to his Father, then an angel strengthened him, then an angel gave him the octane, the power to do what he had to do.  The same will happen in your marriage.  The same will happen at your job.  The same will happen in your friendships.  Whatever it is, God will do it.

Think about how Jesus was committed.  He died on the cross for all of your shortcomings, for all of my shortcomings, for all of our sins.  When Jesus was hanging there on the cross, he could have just snapped his fingers or winked and the heavenly hosts could have come down and taken him off the cross; however, he didn’t.  Why?  Because of commitment.  I am sure all hell whispered in his ear, “Hey, Jesus, come down.  It’s not worth it, Jesus.  Throw in the towel.  Bail out.  Leave.  Take the easy way.”  Yet he was so committed, he pledged himself to a position no matter what the price tag.  He obligated himself by spilling his precious blood on Calvary to secure our redemption.  He was committed.  He had you and he had me on his mind.  Just think about if you had been the only person to ever live on this planet, Christ would have done what he did on the cross.

A man in the Old Testament, named David, knew a lot about commitment.  David committed.  He took on that Behemoth, Goliath, and took him out.  As a young kid, he was committed to spending quality time with God in prayer.  A musical genius.  A poet.  A leader.  They still study his military strategies today at West Point.  The guy is a total package.  He messed up on commitments, yet God called him a man after the heart of the Lord.

Here is what David said about commitment, one of my favorite verses in scripture, Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord.  Trust also in him and he will do it.”  And you thought Phil Nike was the first one to coin the phrase, “Just do it.”  See Nike stole this right here.   “Commit your way, commit everything to the Lord.  Trust also in him and he will do it.”

I want to ask you a question, “Why when we are struggling with commitment, why when we are having a hard time, why when we are thinking about bailing, do we usually seek counsel from people who are not really committed, instead of counsel from people who are committed?  Why do we do that?  The evil one loves to come after our commitment.

You can trace his agenda all the way back to the garden.  Adam and Eve were there in this perfect environment.  God was committed to them.  He put his cards out on the table.  They were committed to him.  Everything was perfect.  Everything was pristine.  Enter the evil one, that fallen angel who had been kicked out of heaven because of his lack of commitment.  He attacked Adam and Eve’s commitment.  “Hey, Adam, Eve, did God really say don’t mess with the Sunkist orange on the tree?  Did God really say that?  Did God really say this?  You see, Adam and Eve, if you eat the fruit, you will become like God.”  Satan is always attacking, always undermining commitment.

The next time you are thinking about bailing out, or throwing in the towel, or leaving, contemplate the commitment of Jesus Christ.  He’ll give you the energy.  He’ll give you the ability.  He will do it.

There is something else we have got to do.  We have got to contemplate the stuff, but also we have to surround ourselves with people who have those commitment chromosomes.  You know what I am talking about don’t you?  We have got to rub shoulders with people who have a commitment level that challenges us and holds us accountable.  I don’t care who you are, what your name is, how spiritually mature you are, you are who you run with.  You are who you hang with.  You are who your best friends are.  Without even meeting you, I could meet your best friend and in a nano-second I could tell you what kind of a person you are.  Who are your best friends?  Are they people who have a real big commitment to God, to their spouse if they are married and to relational integrity?  Are they?

I’ll never forget meeting a young man about ten years ago, great guy, a man of commitment.  I watched him grow in his commitment.  I watched him sort of flourish here at Fellowship.  Then after a while, I began to see some door dings in his character.  I began to go, “That’s odd. I can’t believe he is hanging around that group and doing this and that.”  I talked to him several times.  After a while, I remember telling a close friend of mine, I said, “You know what?  It’s just a matter of time before this guy blows off his commitments.”  Sure enough, he found himself in some deep relational reeds, so deep the reeds were covering him.  The reeds were so high, he couldn’t even see God’s plan, God’s agenda, or God’s vision for his life anymore.  He pretty much bailed.  He lost it.

Maybe you are in the reeds.  Weeds are one thing, but I am talking about reeds now.  Maybe you are in the relational reeds and you are going, “Man, I can’t get out, these things are strong.  These things have me hemmed up.  I can’t see who God wants me to hang out with.”  Let me put it to you this way.  I met a man from Houston, TX , years ago who invented the weed-eater.   I had to perform the wedding of his son.  It was a weed-eater wedding, I like to say.  If we call on God and say, “God, I want to commit to you.  You do it” he will take out, I believe, a relational weed-eater and take out the weeds and the reeds, those big towering honking reeds so we can see who to hang with.

“Now, Ed, wait a minute.  Are you telling me I should diss my friends?  Are you telling me I should turn my back from my buddies and all of that?”  No, I am not saying that.  We have got to have relationships with people who are outside the family of God, but and I say this over and over again, our best friends must be those who share a Christ commitment, the same commitment structure that we do and that we go after.  If they don’t, we will never, ever achieve the greatness that God has in store for our lives.  Never.  It’s not going to happen.

I took my four kids to Imax to see N’Sync.  You know N’Sync, don’t you?  I like the Backstreet Boys better than N’Sync.  I’m not really a big N’Sync fan.  Anyway, don’t laugh.  They are talented.  I love the Backstreet Boys.  But a lot of us in this place, we need to do the Imax thing.  We need to look at this giant panoramic view of our relational world and say, “Whoa, I need to back away from that deal.  Whoa, I need to improve in that area.  I need to have a whole new set of friends because they are tearing me down.  They are pulling me away.  They are messing me up.”

That’s why I talk over and over again about our Home Team ministry here at Fellowship.  You want to meet people like that?  Walk into a Home Team.  If you are just showing up to Fellowship here on the weekends, that’s good.  I’m glad you are here.  Take the next step.  See what our church is really about.  Get to know people who share the same commitment level, who have those commitment chromosomes, who are fellow strugglers.  It will help you.

Just a while back, I was talking to my wife and I said, “You know, honey, I am so thankful for the great relationships we have built here at Fellowship.”  One of the major reasons that we have grown so much spiritually here at Fellowship Church is because of our friends.  I don’t care if you are fifteen, forty-five or seventy-five, it will hold true for you.  So surround yourself with commitment chromosomes.  Every time I think about commitment chromosomes, I think about one of my favorite Bible figures, the 27th book in the Old Testament, the book of Daniel.

You are probably saying, “Oh, Ed, I knew that: 27th book, Daniel.”  Well, Daniel, you are talking about an old figure with a modern-day message.  Daniel was one of the best and the brightest in Jerusalem and this crusty old evil-driven king named Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and some of the best and the brightest and deported them from Jerusalem all the way to Babylon.  Check this out.  Daniel was by himself with a couple of friends in this ungodly pagan culture, temptations galore, and he could do whatever he wanted to do.

What did he do?  He was committed.  A man of commitment.  Everybody else around him was eating all this junk food, Krispy Kreme donuts, big Macs.  Not Daniel.  Vegetables and water.  Why?  He was committed to God.  He said, “My body is a temple.  It’s a dwelling place for the Lord and I am going to do it.”  The king, King Nebuchadnezzar, he was like, “Wow, Daniel, you are something else.”  Daniel’s commitment kind of rocked him.  It caused his head to snap and he thought this guy has something about him.

Well, some people, some homeboys from Babylon, these guys were jealous of Daniel.  They were jealous of the king liking him and helping him.  These palace plotters played up to King Nebuchadnezzar’s ego.  I am giving you the Cliff Notes.  You can read the whole thing later.  They said, “King Neb, listen, you are the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour, the tower of biblical Babylonian power.  Why don’t you, King, why don’t you set forth this edict that no one can worship anything else except you?  What do you think?”

Now, the palace plotters knew that the Dan man was so committed, he would still continue to worship God and they could trap him.  That is what they were thinking.  The King said, “Um, yeah, sounds pretty good. Yeah, I like that.  Everybody has got to bow to me.  I am the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour, the tower of biblical Babylonian power.”  So the King set forth an edict.  Once he set forth an edict, he couldn’t back up, couldn’t take it away, couldn’t take a Mulligan.

Daniel, the next day, was praying.  The palace plotters said, “King Neb, look at your boy.  Look at your boy.”  It was like you stabbed him in the heart.  King Nebuchadnezzar knew what would have to happen.  He knew that Daniel would become an appetizer for Simba.  Didn’t have F. Lee Bailey or Johnny Cochran back then.  No, no, no.  No Crocodile Hunter back then.  You go to the lions, jack.  They threw Daniel in the lion’s den and Daniel was so committed to God that God performed a miracle.  He shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel emerged from this situation.

What a man of commitment, a man of purity, a man who followed God.  Unbelievable.  I ask you, why did Daniel have such an incredible run? Why did he leave such a legacy of commitment?  “Well, Ed, he pledged himself to a position no matter what the cost.  He committed himself to God.  It’s a biblical deal and everything transcended and that was what happened.”

Well, that’s right.  But there’s something that God showed me several years ago about this story that just hit me in the face.  Do you know one of the reasons why Daniel was so committed?  His friendships.  He was best friends with those asbestos boys, the faithful firemen, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego.  Remember those guys?  Those fire walkers?  They challenged him. They held him accountable.  If it’s good enough for Daniel, it’s good enough for you and me.  You could be a modern day Daniel or Danielle.  How about your relationships?

Well, we talked about contemplating the character, the commitment level of Christ.  We talked about rubbing shoulders with those committed chromosome type people.  There is something else we need to know too.  We have got to beware of something.  This is huge.  We’ve got to beware of the emotional sabotage factor.

How many of you are married?  Here’s how the emotional sabotage factor works in marriage.  Husband and wife will say, “Well, we’ve been married five years, ten, fifteen, twenty years and, you know, I don’t know, we have just kind of fallen out of love.  I don’t know.”  Fallen out of love?  “Yeah, we have.  It’s just not the same.  I don’t feel that infatuation or that ecstasy twenty-four/seven, that romance every minute of every day and I just have fallen out of love.”

What is love?  Do you like fall into it like you have fallen into a pool?  “Oh, I am in love now.  I guess I will now fall out of it.  Now I am out of love.”  Adults say this.  If you have a view of love like that, let me do a song for you.  “And they called it, puppy love.”  If you are not laughing at that, you are too young.  I just imitated Donny Osmond.  Love is not that.  Yes, you have got to be attracted.  You have got to have a chemistry going and flowing.  Love, though, is the commitment, the commitment of the will.

Speaking about love and all that.  Ladies, if you are single, listen to me very carefully.  Guys too, if you are single.  You know that the Bible says that sex is a great thing.  There is an entire book of the Bible about sex.  God is pro-sex.  He thought it up.  He invented it.  However, he says we must practice sex within the confines, within the parameters of the marital bed: one man, one woman, having sex in a mutually committed relationship.  If you have sex outside of marriage, you are messing up. I don’t want to get into that right now, but just trust me.  The Bible says so.

Ladies, you make a huge mistake, listen to me now, a huge mistake when you play house, when you have your boyfriend live with you.  Because I know what you think.  You think, “Oh, he’s not really committing to marriage so if we play house, I’ll move him and nudge him closer to the alter.  He will love it so much, he’ll just say, ‘Honey, will you marry me?’  And then wedding bells.”  Hey, ladies, let me share something with you right quick, okay?  Living together for the guy is the best of both worlds: free sex, with no commitment.

You hear laughs, but we cannot rely on our emotions.  Our emotions lie to us.  We say, “Well, I had this feeling.”  Well, you could have had some bad sushi last night.  If I just did what I felt like doing, I would be a sick puppy.  “Yeah, but I have got a feeling everyday.”  It’s just a feeling.  That’s what it is, just a feeling.

I want to sit down and just tell you something.  Let me explain to you.  Let me tell you what makes God gag.  When you hear this, God gags.  People say this, “You know, God just wants me to be happy.”  Say what?  “Yes, God wants me to be happy.”  God wants you to be obedient, alright?  It’s obedience.  And then, as we are obedient to him, the feelings will follow.  You will have feelings there.  You’ll have emotions there.  But it’s about commitment.

You can tell I am very passionate about that.  So is the Bible.  Beware of the emotional sabotage.  Commit, don’t quit.  “Well, Ed, man, you don’t understand.  I’ve gone through a marriage or two.  I have messed up on this commitment.  I’ve done this and that.  I’m just messed up.”  God specializes in taking people like you and me, people who have messed up, and restoring us and making us whole.

Case in point, Simon Peter.  He said, “Jesus, I’ll never forsake you.  I’ll never diss you.  I’m the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour, tower of biblical power, blah, blah, blah.”  What did Jesus say?  “Simon Peter, you are going diss me three times over the next little while.”  Sure enough, he did.  He backed off his commitment.  Was it curtains for Simon Peter?  No, Jesus reinstated him and Simon Peter became one of the most committed men to ever walk on the planet.  Why?  He committed his way to the Lord.

Well, let’s change gears now, okay?  Our great God gives us some benefits, some rewards of commitment.  Once we ramp it up, here is what will happen to us.  Strength: we will become spiritually buff.  Is that cool?  We will have strength, a supernatural strength.  The Bible calls it grace.  2 Corinthians 12, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  If something tragic happens to you, like it happened to the Skinners, I am telling you something, God’s grace will be sufficient.  “For my power is made perfect in weakness.”  So I will have strength.  That’s a benefit of commitment.

Also the Bible says I am going to have endurance.  Isn’t it great to have endurance.  We can have that perseverance, that endurance to run a long race.  As we look back in the rearview mirror of our lives, yeah, we see some carnage caused by our lack of commitment, but once we commit our way to the Lord, commit ourselves to Christ, to our mate, to others, then we have this endurance thing happening, this longevity thing happening.  We become people who are known as folks of commitment.

Another benefit is perspective.  We can have God’s perspective.  Have you checked this doctor out on the radio?  “Hi, I’m Dr. Booth.  I perform Lasik surgery.  I have a steady hand.  And I’ll slice your eyes and you can see 20/20.  And I am really excited about it.” Now, I am sure Dr. Booth is a great guy.  I don’t know him, but I want a guy like that cutting on my eyes.  Level headed, I mean the guy just is a flat-liner, you know?  I don’t want someone like “Oh, yeah, okay!  I’ll cut your eyes up!”  I had Lasik surgery a while back.  A good friend of mine in South Carolina did it.  I love it.  It’s given me a whole new perspective on life.  I still sometimes instinctively go for my glasses on the bedside table but I don’t need them. We have a lasik-type perspective on life, when we commit, given to us by God.

There is something else, integrity.  The word integrity comes from the word integer.  That means a whole number.  We have a wholeness when we commit.  That’s why when people like Owen Goff speak, that’s why when people like Dean West or Carolyn West talk, that’s why when people like Doris Scoggins say something, people go “Shhh…When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”  They have had a long track record of working with the Lord, of living with him, of living out their commitments.  And because they have kept them in such a great way, they have influence, they have power and they have some real spiritual stuff.  “I want to make a difference, Ed, in the world.  I want to leave a legacy.  I want to be a leader.  I want to be an influencer.”  Integrity.  It’s about that track record, that commitment level that God will give you.

Do you really want to be a vow-forgetting, work-quitting, excuse-making, decision-faking, church-hopping, spouse-shopping person?  Or do you want to be a life-making, character-quaking, word-keeping, relationship-reaping, individual who says, “God, I want to do life deeply with you as I walk in commitment.”