4 Parts | By: Ed Young
Intense – Week 1
January 6, 2019
By Ed Young
It’s a brand-new year, 2019, and this is a time where a lot of us, if you’re like me, we make these intense resolutions. How many of you like to make resolutions? If you made a new year’s resolution? I read some disturbing news, that most of us stop the whole resolution thing by January 12th. I thought, there’s no way, but some group did this study and they average that most of us mail in our resolutions by January 12, in this brand-new year, 2019. It’s interesting these intense decisions that we make. We’re like OK, I’m going to work out. It takes some intensity to make that decision. Or I’m going to eat clean. We’ve got to be intense when we do that. We’ve got to stop doing certain things and do other things. Or maybe you have a hurtful habit and you’re like, I’m intense about quitting smoking. Or I’m intense about not going to this particular place or hanging out with that group. So, the decisions we make oftentimes around this time of year are intense. And it takes intensity to keep those resolutions. Intensity.
I like the word intensity because when you say intense it’s like a mindset, it’s a focus. Also, though, it has to do with – in my mind – past, present, and future. So, we make these resolutions based on the past, OK, now in the present, and where I want to go in the future, I’m gonna make these intense decisions. Today I am launching a 21-day spiritual journey called Intense. Intense. And we’re looking at the past and the present and the future and we’ve built this whole series around one question. Here it is: Can you remember a time in your past when you were closer to God than you are now in the present? Well, if the answer is yes, we’re going to change that, because we want the trajectory for our future to be intense. God wants you and me to have an intense relationship with him. God does. You might be thinking, OK. I guess you’re going to talk about that and unpack that over the next 21 days and the answer is yes, I am. I’m going to give you the answer, though, to intensity. I’m going to give you the answer to what it’s going to take for you and me to have this intense relationship with God. This answer is going to shock you because it’s so simple. You’re gonna thing, what? But just stay with me. We will see what everything is about once I give you this answer.
OK, so what does it take? What does it take to live in an intense manner? I mean, taking all the resolutions off the table, drilling down to the heart of the matter, what does it take? Stuff. What? No, no, no. That’s the answer. How can I live an intense life, a life that beats fast, my heart beats fast for the things of God? How can I do that, Ed? How can I, thinking about the past and thinking about the future, well the answer is stuff. Just say it. Stuff, yeah. We all have stuff. Some of us have a small pile of stuff, others have a medium pile of stuff, and others here you might have a monstrous pile of stuff. We go to school, learn how to get stuff, and then we graduate, and we make stuff. Then we make stuff and we enjoy the stuff and then we invest the stuff and insure the stuff. I heard one comedian say a house is simply stuff with a roof over it. Stuff. I thought that was kind of funny. Stuff. And then we die, because all of us are gonna die. I’ve checked the stats again and 1:1 die. And we’re gonna leave our stuff, some of us, for the kids to fight over. Or maybe someone that we don’t even know is gonna take care of our stuff. So that’s the answer. Seems weird, doesn’t it? What’s the answer? How do I have this intentional relationship with God? Well, one of the main things, just to boil it down to one word, is stuff. Stuff. Stuff. We all have stuff.
You know, stuff matters to God, it really does. Stuff, I would say is neutral, but the way we use our stuff really shows God our heartbeat. It really shows God the essence of who we are. It really shows God like our true selves. What are you doing with your stuff? Your stuff, your stuff?
Intense – Week 2
January 13, 2019
I was 12 years old when my youngest brother was born. He was a surprise. I remember reading him children’s books and my favorite book I ever read to my brother was a book called Barnyard Friends. I really loved that book, and I have to confess to you it was really one of the first times that I began to work on my sound effects. I always have loved sound effects, but I used to read him that book and he would love it. I kind of memorized part of “Barnyard Friends.” So, I would read it in this voice, for some reason, I would go, “Barnyard-ah Friends-ah.” I don't know why I used that voice but I’m like 12 years old. I really read Barnyard Friends to Cliff from the time I was 12 to maybe 14. So, Barnyard Friends, so the first picture would show a realistic picture of a pig and the baby pig eating pig slop. And here’s what it said, “Dinner time on the farm.” And then I would go <pig sound effects>. He would laugh and laugh and laugh. And then the next page – it’s kind of sick I remember this, isn't it? – showed a horse and the little colt by the horse. And the horse, I would use this <neighing sound effect>… “Isn’t my baby cute?” So, I would just go through. I don’t want to do all the animals like <elephant sound effect>… well, I’m not sure an elephant was part of the.... I just threw that in. But I think you feel me. Barnyard Friends, it’s a great book. I tried to find it on the world wide web – out of print. I mean the real Barnyard Friends.
Jesus, today, is gonna tell us about barnyard friends. Jesus, in essence, opens up this book and he goes, OK. Barnyard friends. Why would Jesus talk about barnyard friends? Do you have barnyard friends? I don't know. I think at the end of this talk you’ll go, OK, I either do or I don’t. Barnyard friends, why would Jesus talk about barnyard friends?
Well, a couple of guys were arguing in the crowd. Thousands were in attendance to hear Jesus talking. Some of the guys were arguing about money, about inheritance issues. Brothers were going back and forth. I need this, or I want that, or dad wanted me to have that! They were arguing about just what the guy had left. So, they lob a question to Jesus.
“Hey, Jesus, settle this issue!” which was common back in the day. You know, when rabbis would speak, people would just throw questions at them, sort of like a first century press conference, so to speak. So, Jesus answers this question in a highly unusual way. Well, first of all, in verse 15 of Luke chapter 12, he brings up greed. He just talks about greed. So, they threw this question at him and then Jesus goes, in verse 15, “He said to them, (the two guys, the two bros) “Take heed and beware of greed, for one’s life does not consist of the stuff, of the possessions that he owns.” He talks about greed. Isn't it interesting just to talk about greed for a second? Greed was once called a vice. Now it’s a virtue. Now it’s like oh boy! You’re greedy! Well anyway, Jesus throws that out and then he tells these two guys a story. And this story is fascinating because if you put yourself in the sandals of his crowd you kind of go, wow, this sounds like a very positive, kind of a business-vibe type story from Jesus. It sounds really cool about making a lot of money and after all, we want to make a lot of money. The money is for me. I can invest the money and have my money working for me, have this giant portfolio. That’s what everyone is thinking. So, as I read this for the first time, I was thinking the same thing. Wow, OK, greed. Maybe greed is good. You’re talking about greed here, Jesus, and maybe greed – maybe this desire to acquire is a God thing. Well, let’s see what Jesus says.
“Uncle J’s Chest”
January 20, 2019
I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you in the doctor’s office. You know, you have a pain and the doctor begins to place his or her hands like in different places, you know, on your body and then they find the <grunt> yeah. The source of pain. It’s like, aaaah!!! Your jaw hurts, aaaah! Have you had that experience before? I don’t want to get too technical but yeah, we all have had that experience with the doctor. They have that ability to place their hand right in those areas that are causing us problems. Kind of a very telling thing when you go to the doctor.
Well, during this series I’ve been trying, by the Holy Spirit of God, to put the Lord’s hands, the Great Physician’s hands, on that area that <ahh!> causes <grunt> some pain and it’s kind of sensitive. We’ve been talking about stuff, right? Materialism. We’ve been talking about cash, because money matters to me and money matters to you. Stuff matters to me and stuff matters to you. Stuff matters to God. Yes, God is a God of the intangible. We make a faith decision, we trust him. He’s also a God of the tangible. He created us. He made us. Matter matters. So, to say, oh, God doesn’t care about stuff… God cares about stuff! And we’ve been discovering around here, whether we have a strong opinion about it or not, God owns all the stuff. #2 – God has given us all the stuff. So, #1 – God owns all the stuff. #2 – God has given us all the stuff. And #3 – We manage the stuff. Again, it doesn't matter what I feel or what my opinion might be. It doesn’t matter what a focus group says or all of that, it’s just what God says.
So, I thought about our stuff, and I thought about a guy in the Bible. In fact, he was a kid in the Bible. I call him the kindergarten king. His name was Joash. Joash actually built a box. I don't know if he built it with LEGOs or what, but as a king, as a kindergarten king, he had a box built. And this box really changed the course of the way people viewed stuff. Isn't that crazy? What a name, Joash. Difficult name #1.
Now, difficult name #2 in this story was Joash’s uncle. His name was Jehoiada, Jehoiada. Say it with me. Jehoiada. I love that name. Wouldn’t that be a great name? That’d be a really good name for like if you’re expecting and you’re having a son, Jehoiada. I’m serious. This guy was an amazing man. The Bible says in the book of 2 Chronicles chapter 23, let me give you the Cliff Notes, that Jehoiada. Now, Jehoiada was a priest. When I say the word priest don’t think about this guy with the clerical collar, with the big cross, who’s kind of very formal and sort of soft. No, no, no. Jehoiada was a Special Forces guy. He was a guy who had to open up a can on some people. He was a guy who did some covert and overt operations to really change the course of leadership in Judah. Interesting guy. So, he was a priest (this would be a pretty good movie, wouldn’t it?) but also, he was like a Special Forces guy. He was, let me say it again, the uncle to Joash. So, let’s call Jehoiada just Uncle J. It’s easier. So, we’ve got Uncle J and Joash. Am I going too fast? Joash is the kindergarten king. You’re like, how did that happen? Here’s how it happened.
You know, King David, I’m going back several thousand years, thousands of years. You know Solomon, David’s son. Solomon built the temple. A house of worship which was absolutely amazing. I believe that the house of God, biblically speaking, should be a house of excellence. I believe the church should be the best-looking building in the community or in the city. I’m not saying opulent, I’m saying with excellence. Because everything we do reflects the nature and the character of God. So, Solomon built it and it was like, wow, incredible! Well, due to just some rebelliousness and craziness the whole thing literally went to Hell in a handbasket. Uncle J, this priest, stood and he saw that the house of God was in disrepair. He’s like, man, it’s terrible! Technology is out of date. Holes in the carpet. Parking lot has potholes everywhere. It’s not even landscaped right. We need to go to multi-site, he said. Uncle J said, “Let’s buy this building, do that.” Yet, nothing was happening. So Joash, this kindergarten kid, became the king of Judah. And Uncle J was the one who got him in that position. He’s the one that made him.
“The Power of the Gift”
January 27, 2019
Good morning, everybody! How are you guys doing? You doing pretty well? So am I. What a great, great day. You know, today we kick off our capital campaign to build. We’re doing some exciting building at Fellowship. In fact, we’ve done three of these in the history of our church and I think this is the fourth major, major building program we’ve been involved in. So, basically what’s happening is today we’re beginning our three-year commitment over and above our regular giving to do what we need to do: buy a building in Frisco off of the tollway, the fastest-growing county, they’re telling me, in America. Take all of our different campuses and even Allaso Ranch, with technology we even have some television opportunities that are awesome before us. So, we’re doing all of that and we’re committing three years. So, if you think about the past, the present, and the future it’s absolutely awesome. Everything we have, you know physically, tangibly, has been built because of offerings over and above our regular giving. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
The other day I was in a coffee shop. I love coffee. I’m kind of a coffee snob, and so I began to write out some things about my life and basically why I do what I do, why I am involved in this endeavor, in this story. Because, I have some really cool stories about generosity. One, in particular, I’ll share with you happened in 1993. I’m talking about the past. Lisa and I drove up here to the Dallas/Fort Worth area with one car, one kid, one dog, one rent house, in a little area that our church rented with 30 families. Now, when you walked in you were handed a magazine and one of those shots is a picture of the 30 families that actually helped us launch Fellowship Church. After several years our church really began to grow. Whether you’re in Norman or Miami or Northport or Fort Worth or Dallas or Frisco or Southlake, wherever you see this, check this out. This is really a really cool story.
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The beginning of every year brings with it the promise ad potential of new things to come. We look back at the past and evaluate where we are in the present so that we can set ourselves up for a phenomenal future. It is an InTense time of refocus and renewal.