GameDay – Week 3
“Field of Faith”
October 21, 2018
By Ed Young
One of the most valuable aspects of sports is the ability of those involved to evaluate their own performance in order to elevate their game. In this message, Pastor Ed Young looks at the index of involvement in the local church and challenges us all to evaluate where we are on God’s field of faith. Because when we know where we are on the field, we discover just what we need to do in order to reach the next level!
INTRO: You know, it’s amazing how we love to rank and rate football players and football teams. Have you noticed that? People make inordinate amounts of money just looking at percentages and studying how players perform. You have people checking out peewee football players and their development. You’ve got it in high school, the 3-star recruit, the 4-star recruit, maybe the 5-star recruit. And then, of course, in college you have players who want to make it to the NFL and they go through the combine and there’s this complex process where they’re rated on number of tackles and percentages of completions. It just goes on and on. And it’s really interesting, I understand it, because billions and billions of dollars are on the line. We love to rate football players and football teams. Rankings and ratings, we’re all about that. In fact, you could probably say that Fantasy Football is all about that. We really know a lot about that, and I think that’s fine. It’s a cool outlet.
Well, what if I told you that God ranks and rates you and me? What if I told you that eternity is hanging in the balance and our God, our loving God, wants us to see where we are because he sees where we are. Yet, if you’re like me, I have this tendency to overestimate myself. I mean, that’s just me. You know, I think I’m here but in reality, I’m there. So, I just thought today we would go through and look at our rankings, look at our ratings. Whether you find yourself here in gorgeous Grapevine, Texas, whether you’re in Norman, Oklahoma, Miami, Northport, Florida, which is right near Sarasota. If you find yourself at our campus in Frisco, Downtown Dallas, Southlake, Fort Worth, if you find yourself online. I think everyone, when we leave this place, we’re gonna go, OK. I see where I am. I really, really do. Now as I go through this index don’t just shot out, “Oh that’s me! Oh, that’s me! Nailed it, Ed! I crushed that one!” I mean, it’s OK to do that but I would just probably keep it on the DL. Let’s just think about it. But I would appreciate your, you know, applause if you want to. Clap, nod your head, say amen, or say “preach it, white boy!” whatever you want to say because it’s lonely up here on this field.
By the way, does the stage look unbelievable? We have a great bunch of people that make all of this happen. So, let’s just think about, for example, rankings and ratings. Let’s think about it as it relates to football but also as it relates to our spiritual pilgrimage with God. Jesus said in John 4:35, these words. So, when you see this highlighted phrase I want you to say it with me. That means you aloud. But the other I’ll just read. Here’s what Jesus said. If you want to talk about a football field, here’s what Jesus said: “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest.”
We have a field of faith. I mean, it’s God’s gridiron, literally. God wants you and me to take turf, to move the chains, to push the ball downfield. He has a great purpose, a great plan for every single life here.
The first part of this plan that God has, the first aspect of this spiritual index would be represented by this beautiful family. And I think some of you would find yourself in their shoes. This is called the spectator. We have a lot of spectators that show up at Fellowship. And you have to start out being a spectator. So, it’s not bad that you’re a spectator. Don’t go, “Oh no. I’m a spectator.” It’s OK! Spectators usually watch people’s lives. They might ask questions. Maybe they’re online and see something about Fellowship Church and they’re like, hey, I’m gonna shot up! The spectators would be the poinsettia and lily crowd. Christmas and Easter. They would show up, I don’t know, maybe four times a year. You know? Maybe a family member twists their arm. OK! OK! Maybe they’re going through a difficult situation. They’re just spectating, they’re just checking the things of God out. Some of these people have not made a faith decision. Others of the spectators would be like, yeah. You know back in the day I was involved in church. I was on fire, and now I’m like, you know, whatever. Spectators.
Well, spectators usually (within our context) move to the next portion of this spiritual index that is illustrated by football. Spectators turn into fans. Do we have any fans here? I think once a fan you’re always a fan. It’s OK to be a fan. We just don’t want to remain a fan. Over the last couple of weeks as I talked and as Lisa talked, and she did an amazing job, my wife Lisa. Last weekend, wow. As I told you Lisa is a full-on fan. I mean, she is a true football fan. I’m kind of a poser. I’m kind of fair weather, she’s the real deal.
Well, you start as you move from a spectator to a fan, you start as a fair-weather fan. You know, if the weather’s OK, if it’s not too nice or it’s not too bad outside I’ll show up. But if I have something else I’ll do something else. I’ll just fit church into my deal. That’s kind of the fair-weather fan. As I walk, live, go to coffee shops, go out to eat around the community, I meet people all the time and here’s what they tell me. I’ve heard this for decades.
“You’re Ed Young, right? Pastor of Fellowship!” I go,
“Yeah!” And here’s what they say,
“I’m a really big fan of Fellowship.” They tell me that all the time. I’m a fan of Fellowship. And I say,
“Thank you! I’m glad you’re a fan of Fellowship.” And sometimes I say what’s it gonna take to move you down the field to the next level? What’s it gonna take for you to move from a fan to a player? I sometimes say that but most of the time I just say, “Hey thanks, man!” You’re a fan. Fans are emotional, aren’t we? And we’re easily influenced.
Then we segue into really following the team. We begin to commit. So, a fair-weather fan would come let’s say once every 6 weeks, something like that. And then as you move into like a full-on fan more committed, you begin to go OK. I’m gonna show up regularly now. This is something. Well let me press the pause button and tell you something real quick. Think about how many times Jesus labeled people. Think about how many times he labeled you and me. Believers, nonbelievers. Those who produced fruit, those who don’t produce fruit. Those who are on the narrow way, and those who are on the broad way. And the apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews encourages us to move down this commitment index. Check out what Paul says in the book of Hebrews chapter 6, verse 1, “Therefore, let us leave.” We’ve got to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity. Hebrews 6:1. The goal is, the destination is, spiritual development, spiritual maturity. That’s the place. So, it’s not like, oh! I just arrived at this deep level of commitment, which God desires for each of us yet it’s our personal decision to make. We don’t just arrive. There is some intentionality about it. We have to think about it. There are certain things we have to do to discover what God wants for us.
ILLUS: I remember, I’ve told you this before, but back in junior high school we would see this sex education film called “From Boy to Man.” And it would always show this guy named Jim, and he would be outside playing basketball. And he would go, “Hey, pass me the ball!” and they would freeze Jim and the announcer would say, “Jim is going through puberty. His voice is changing. He’s moving from boy to man!” <echo> man, man, man! Bom bom bom bom bom bom… I mean, it went on and on and on. And every year we would watch the same horrendous, goofy film and Jim always remained paused on puberty.
I think a lot of us, when it comes to our walk with the Lord, we’re paused on puberty. God wants us to move on to spiritual maturity. But there are some misconceptions, if you think about it, about what it means to be committed. Because over here we have the coach. And that’s where God wants all of us to be. And this coach happens to be Josh Niblett. Don’t Google him now. He is the coach of Hoover High School. He’s probably the best high school football coach, arguably, in the country. Amazing guy, great, great Christian guy. I just thought, man! I’m gonna do a cutout of Josh Niblett. I’ve never met him but he’s a cool dude.
So, God wants all of us to be coaches, yet for some reason we find ourselves sometimes in a state of being paused in a state of a lack of real development. We find ourselves maybe between the spectator and the fan, or the fan and the team member. But again, there are some misconceptions about spiritual maturity. One is, spiritual maturity is automatic. It just happens. It’s just intuitive. That’d be like going up to some NFL football player and going,
“Hey! Hey Zeke! Man, it’s amazing you just became one of the best running backs in the NFL, just happened. It’s automatic. No work, no sweat, no sacrifice. Isn’t that right, Zeke?” He would go,
“Are you crazy? You have no idea! Yes, I have physical talent, but you have no idea how much I’ve worked to get to where I am today!” Spiritual maturity is the same. It’s not automatic.
Then there’s the experience vibe. Some people think if I just have one experience, one whoo! Quiver in my liver, a spring in my step, then all of a sudden, I can move from a spectator to a participator. And we have a lot of God chasers out there. I’m just chasing that one experience. And I go from this field to the other field. From the other field to this field. From this field to that field. Experiences are great. Feelings are awesome. It’s part of spiritual maturity but it’s not the thing. That would be like Zeke saying, “Yeah, I scored a touchdown and won the game, and because I did that I am a full-on, all pro…” No, no. That’s just part of it.
Others think, well, spiritual maturity is just knowledge. I know what I’ll do. I’ll have another Bible study. And in our culture, we live in the land of Bible studies. Bible studies, Bible studies, Bible studies. Bible studies are great, but Bible studies need to be times where you allow the Bible to study you. You know the word study is only used two times in the Bible! Most of us don’t need another Bible study, we need an opportunity to serve and to utilize our spiritual gifts. Now you’ll see, because this is a football kind of motif, that we have a 2-minute warning. A 2-minute warning. That means we’re almost done with the first half. We’re gonna have a halftime show here. Are you excited about that? If this is your first time to Fellowship you might be going, are you kidding me? We’re gonna have a halftime show so we can kind of regroup, so I can get my head in the game, and hopefully the second half we can cruise and then we can win. All right?
So, James 4:17 says this… I got 53 seconds. It says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and does not do it sins.” Oh man! So, spiritual maturity is not just knowing the playbook. Oh, I know the playbook! I know the playbook from the Oklahoma Sooners. I know the playbook from the Miami Dolphins. I know the playbook. I know the playbook. I know the playbook, backwards and forwards, the Bible. Great. How much have you applied? I mean, I know the playbook. Well have you made any tackles? I know the playbook! Have you scored any touchdowns? I know the playbook! Are you moving the ball downfield? You see? Thank you. He told me to “preach it, white boy.” Well, I think it’s almost 3-2-1… <whistle!> Whoa. I gotta go.
Wow, if Justin Timberlake doesn’t fire you up. Spiritual maturity. Myths of spiritual maturity. We’ve gone through the automatic thing. You know, experience, OK. Knowledge, then the solo approach. That’s another misconception. I’ll just do it by myself. I’ll just be away, and I can mature over here, you know, because it’s just between me and God. And God and I have this bro-deal goin’ on, you know? I’m a deal maker and I’ll just do what I wanna do here. And now and then if this church is hot I’ll be there. If someone invites me over here I’ll do that. I’m just gonna do…
Well, every great player, every great coach, is a part of a what? Team. Team. Team members. In the Bible, we need to understand, the Bible calls the church, in fact Jesus referred to it himself as the body of Christ. That’s the church. Everybody, the Bible says, has members, has parts that function together for one purpose in mind. So, you have unique opportunities that I don’t have. I have unique gifts that you don’t have. And together if we use them within the church – wow! Amazing things will take place.
The Bible says in the book of Romans12:4-5, “For just as each of us has one body (I just said it) with many members, and these members do not all have the same function (check this out) so in Christ, we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.”
Membership has its privileges. God’s will for you and me, God’s plan for man is to be a part of God’s squad, the local church. Pretty much every time the word Christian was used in the New Testament it referred to someone who was a member of a church. So, watch this. You go from a spectator (poinsettia and lily) to a fan (fair-weather fan or full-on fan), then as a fan. Ladies I’m gonna tell you something about your man. In our little pea brain, we think we were just one ACL away from the NFL. We do. That’s how delusional guys are. Don’t tell us the truth because guys, basically we weren’t good enough. Just let us believe the lie, OK? We think, though, in our mind, what would it be like to wear the jersey? To put on the cleats, the pads? What would it be like to be on the roster? We always think that when we see a game. That’s what happens when we move from a fan to a team member. We’re a part. We’re a member. We’re on God’s roster.
Here’s the great news. You’re the Lord’s #1 draft choice. You’re a 5-star recruit. Yeah, but, I’ve messed up and I’ve fumbled the ball! I know. We all have. God’s crazy about you. He scouted you and me. He’s been recruiting you and me. He wants us to sign on the dotted line, yet it’s our choice. Have you made that decision to be a part of God’s roster? Well, how do I do that? You believe. You say, Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again. And I receive that, I make a grace reception.
Next, I follow with believer’s baptism. Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian. Putting on a Cowboys jersey doesn’t make you a member of the Dallas Cowboys, you know? Baptism shows others that you’ve made this decision, that you’re old enough and mature enough to make that faith decision. We also encourage everyone to go to or training table, our Table Talk class, which is how you learn more about Fellowship. It’s how you join Fellowship. Again, we don’t make anybody join. That’s between you and the Lord himself. We have Table Talk every single week and I would encourage you to join the church. Because I always wanted to pastor a church that I wanted to attend, that I wanted to join. I would join this church even if I weren’t the pastor. That’s how much I love Fellowship. We need – you might be shocked – we need you to play your part, your role, your position that only you can play. So, you see, a spectator to a fan. A fan, man I’m a part of the team. I’ve got a jersey. I’ve gone to the training table, the Table Talk.
But come on now, you don’t want to sit the bench. I hate to sit the bench. I’ve sat the bench a lot. I mean, it’s OK but it’s not that great.
ILLUS: Recently I watched an amazing documentary. Have you seen A Football Life with Tony Romo yet? Have you seen that? If you’ve not seen that, watch it. Absolutely riveting. What a great guy! I just love how Tony describes his life and his journey and the work and the sacrifice, and I just identified so much how Tony Romo was totally humiliated numerous times, yet he kept on going. He kept on moving. And he said during one of the interviews, he goes, “You know, for three years I didn’t take a snap.” Not one snap. And he said, “I got my opportunity and I knew it was my chance.” And wow. Did he perform. Even Tony Romo … I mean, you talk about hidden talent. He probably, obviously, is gonna be a Hall of Famer, one of the best quarterbacks ever. Yet people missed him. They didn’t see it. They didn’t get it.
God gets you. He gets me. He sees the talent. Because he’s given us these unique gifts, don’t sit the bench. I’m telling you, a lot of you are going, well, man. I thought I was here but really, I’m there. I thought I was here, a player, but really, I’m… Don’t just sit the bench. Get on the field. How do you do that? You become a player.
Do we have any players here? I didn’t say a playah! Any players here? Any players? Any players? You see, God’s game is intense, intense. Think about it. The past, we see what God has done at Fellowship. We started it with just 30 families, friends. I drove by our original rented office complex this past Wednesday. I do that some. I just say, “Thank you, God.” Thirty families! Lisa and I drove up here with one kid, one car, one rent home. That was it. We had no idea what God would do. The past, absolutely amazing.
The present, what God is doing right now in your life and in mine. Then I think about the future. I mean, the future’s so bright we need to wear shades, man! It’s that bright! For us to do that we have to continue to recruit. I know it’s a shocker, but if you stop recruiting, Coach Niblett. If you stop going, wow! This person, that person, they can play this position or that position, you’re done. So, a team member becomes a player. A player is someone who does three things, and here’s what it means to be mature spiritually, and we build on these three things.
#1 – We serve. I say we’re serving. If we’re not serving we’re swerving. That means to get outside of yourself and find a place here where you can serve. Well how do I do that? It’s big and… Yeah. I mean, Heaven’s gonna be big. When you go to our Training Table class we will give you options and opportunities where your gifts and abilities lie where you can serve and begin to test the waters. Serve. Serve. There’s a place for you to serve.
#2 – Share. Share. Share your story with others. We have people spectating, we have people who are fans, we have an opportunity at the right time to invest and to invite. #3 – Sowing, it costs a lot to do what we do. And again, that’s between you and the Lord, yet whenever someone scores a touchdown here, whenever we hear the band play, whenever someone maybe is called into full time ministry at our camp, Allaso Ranch, I had a part in that and so did many of you, because we’re so invested.
Talk to any players. Talk to Tony Romo. He does some basic things. He did some basic things and he built off those basic things. The Bible encourages us in 1 Timothy 4:7 to do this. “Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.”
So, what do we do? We have an app. Hopefully you have the app. We have devotionals, prayers, and Bible studies for you each and every day. A 90-second devotional. It’s written off of the messages that I do or whoever else is speaking. We have teams of people who help us do that. That’s one of the ways. We begin to pray, we read the Bible, we know the playbook. And then just on our app it shows you a multiplicity of opportunities where you can get involved and you build off of those spiritual disciplines. I’ve been a believer for a long, long time and everything I do built off those disciplines. And then I see, as many of you do, the results of that.
Have you ever thought about how ironic it is when you go to a game? Let’s say you see the Oklahoma Sooners play. Let’s say you see the University of Miami play, or the Dolphins or the Cowboys, or maybe a local team like Southlake or Keller or Highland Park or whatever high school. Basically, you have thousands and thousands of people in the stands who need exercise, watching 22 guys who need rest. And I thought about that. At church sometimes, we have all these people show up in need of spiritual exercise but they’re watching some of us here who are in great need of rest. Does that make sense? Are you a player? I mean, God has designed you to be a player. Are you a player?
We move from a player, though, to a coach. A coach is someone that is a leader of leaders, and we have a lot of great coaches at Fellowship. We wouldn’t be the church we are today without some amazing coaches. I’m talking about the frozen tundra of all of our parking lots, our parkers. Have you ever thought about that? The greeters and those who work in the children’s ministry and the student ministry and those who tweak dials and move, you know, foam board on the stage and off the stage. Those who many times lead in worship and play instruments and those who help in our three churches in our prisons, and those who take trips to Haiti and those who are a part in reach events. I can go on and on. We have a lot of great coaches. Coaches lead, coaches recruit. Don’t stop recruiting. Because really the most challenging thing we do, the most difficult thing we do as a coach is recruit. So, we have an opportunity, do we not, to recruit? To invest and invite and bring them down the spiritual path of maturity through this process.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
The devil only plays defense. Have you ever thought about his defensive schemes? There’s a bunch of big defensive linemen. Lie-backers. Me-safeties. The marching-aan-aan-aan-contraband. The boo-birds flying around the stadium. We, though, as Christ followers, play offense. We’re scoring touchdowns. We’re moving the chains. We’re pushing the ball downfield. We’re moving from a spectator to a fan, a fan to a team member, a team member to a player, a player to a coach! Where are you? Seriously, where are you in this matter? It’s my prayer that you’ll take a step from a spectator to a fan. It’s our prayer that you’ll move and take the most important step you’ve ever taken from a fan to a team member. Then from a team member to a player. A player, you’ll take that step to a coach.
But let me just talk about this decision, which is the most important. You’re God’s #1 pick. You see, you have a lot of people here and you’re fans but you’re not really on the team. You can make a decision to become a part of God’s team by this grace reception, by receiving what God has done for you by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. Because once you make that decision, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, you’re in! You’re forgiven, you’re cleansed, you’re power washed. You’re changed. Have you made that decision? Don’t leave this place or any of our environments until you say, “God, I’m a part of your squad. I’m a part of your team, and I want to discover the great walk and victory that you have for me.” Let’s pray together.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.}