Rock And Rule


Transcript & Outline

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March Madness

“Rock and Rule”

April 7, 2019

By Ed Young


March Madness!  There’s nothing like it.  People go mad, people go crazy, because there are so many basketball games going on, so many fans cheering, so many teams coming out of nowhere.  What a metaphor to talk about basketball as it relates to your life and mine.  A lot of people are shocked to hear this but many of the New Testament writers and Old Testament writers used sports-type illustrations to talk about our life with God.  You saw me talking to the Florida State basketball team.  That was a wonderful opportunity to be able to do that, to talk to these guys.  They have an outstanding team, an outstanding coach, and it was just a lot of fun.  It brought back a lot of memories as I talked to them about some things I learned at Florida State, and I talked to them about some things I’ve learned as I’ve walked with God for a long, long time.  And the things I talked to them about when I had several minutes to discuss life with them are the same things I want to talk to you about today.  I want to talk to you about the same topic, in pretty much the same way, but maybe elaborate on it a little bit more.  I want to talk to you about issues that you have and I have with authority.

I’m just stunned, I’m staggered when I go online and look at different news outlets, when I watch television, when I talk to different people.  I’m just blown away by the authority issues that so many of us deal with.  Authority issues.  People are always in authority – it seems like – over us and we sometimes want to get to the point where, you know what?  I want to live my life where I have no one in authority over me.  Well that, my friend, is impossible because we’re always going to have authority structure and people and issues in our lives.  How we handle authority issues really says a lot about the tone and the tenor of our lives.  It says a lot about the game of life, because God wants us to live a championship life.  He wants us to be coast-to-coast followers, full-court followers, of him.  That’s God’s desire.  We’re never, though, gonna play his game until we understand authority issues.  God is the coach.  That’s right, he’s the ultimate coach.  He has a basketball for us, a court for us.  It’s lined up for us.  He has a game plan for us, offensively and defensively, but if we don’t submit and follow his game plan it’s not gonna be pretty.  Basketball is a game of boundaries; basketball is a game of lines.  Maybe you’re new to the sport and you’re like, what is this court?  Well, a regulation basketball court is 94 feet.  This is not quite 94 feet, but these lines right here are considered the baselines.  The baselines.  This would be the boundary, the out-of-bounds line on the side.  This is a free throw line.  It’s called the free throw line, or a foul line, because this is where a person shoots free throws, unencumbered shots, if there has been a violation against them.  Then, of course, you have the baskets.  They’re 10 feet tall, so you’ve got the baselines, the sidelines.  You’ve got the free throw lines, and in a lot of courts (we didn’t do it because of space limitations) you see a half-court line.  Rules.  Basketball is a great game when it’s played by the rules.  There’s great freedom in it, there’s joy in it.  When it’s played outside the rules, well, it’s not too pretty.

When I was in junior high school, before school a lot of us would get together and play basketball.  And we tried to play by the rules on the playground, but on some of the playgrounds in our school people were not playing by the rules.  And constant fights would break out.  It would be absolute chaos and mayhem.  A group played by the rules, by the boundaries, another group didn’t.   What kind of sport would it be?  I mean, what would March Madness look like if people just said, you know what?  Forget the rules.  I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.

Maybe you’re dribbling down the court and you’re like, wow!  Those hot dogs look great.  You throw the ball away, walk up into the arena, sit down by your girlfriend, or your friend, or your wife, or whatever, or your boyfriend, and you start eating a hot dog in the middle of the game.  Or what if your coach tells you something to do on offense or defense and you’re like, what?  I’m not doing that!  You’re an idiot.  I’m doing what I want to do.  I know what’s best for me.  And then, when if we just committed all these violations and turnovers, and we just said forget the free throw line, forget the half-court line, forget the baseline.  There’s no such thing as being out of bounds.  Basketball, instead of being beautiful, would be brutal.  It would be ugly.  Our God is a God of authority.

I like the word authority because the word author is in it.  God is the author of authority.  We’re made to submit.  When we get under God’s authority, we’re gonna go up.  If we try to elevate ourselves above God’s authority, we’re gonna go down.  So, it’s up to you and me.  We either submit to God and God will take us up, or we say, you know what God?  I’m going to usurp you.  I’m going to be the God of my life.  If we do that, we’re going down.

James was the half-brother of Jesus, and we’ve been looking at a book he wrote, and the book is called James.  Because, after all, that was his name.  James didn’t really buy into the person of Jesus until after the resurrection, but when the resurrection occurred James became one of the leaders, one of the coaches, if you will, of the early church.  He wrote a letter, the book of James, and as you read the first verse it tells us James wrote this to the 12 tribes of Israel.  I think it’s interesting that there are 12 roster spots on a normal basketball team, and here he’s writing to the 12 tribes of Israel.  And these tribes were dispersed.  If you think about these tribes, the Jews, they were made fun of and abused because they were Jews in some parts of the world.  They also received persecution because these Jews were Christians.  And the people that James was writing to struggled with what we’re talking about.  They struggled with authority issues.  It’s just something that we deal with.  James wrote about development.  He wrote about maturity.  He wrote about, hey, you talk a good game, but do you walk it?  And one of the ways we walk with God and discover his game plan for us, both offensively and defensively, is through authority issues.

James says in James 1:16 – you can follow along on your outline – verse 16.  “Don’t be deceived…” In other words, we can become deceived.   “Don’t be deceived, by dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from (what?  Say it with me.) above.”  One more time at all of our campuses, above.  “… coming down (God is here), coming down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  Look at verse 18, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth…”  This book right here.  This is a basket-Bible, see that?  I thought you’d like that.  “… that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.”  That’s what James says, and James was talking very openly and honestly about authority issues.  God is above everything.  Whether we agree with it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we dig it or not, he is above everything.  And every authority figure in your life, God has placed there.  Your parents, your spouse.  Oh yeah, we have to submit to our spouse, husbands and wives.  That’s a whole ‘nother message.  Your boss, your manager, your teacher, your pastor, your doctor, the manager at the restaurant where you will eat after this experience together.  God has placed every single authority figure in your life over you for a reason. We have a choice.  We either get under it and realize that God is above us and he has put other people above us, or we go, you know, I’m gonna do what I’m going to do.

We have this spirit of rebellion in our lives.  The Old Testament connects the spirit of rebellion with the spirit of witchcraft and satanism.  So, whenever I’m rebellious to an authority figure I’m more like the devil than pretty much any other time.  If you think about Lucifer before he was kicked out of Heaven, he led worship in the heavenlies.  He had problems with authority and God gives us that choice.  Love is a choice.  He tried to usurp God.  He tried to go, you know what?  I’m gonna thumb my nose at God’s authority. And because of it, he crashed and burned and he went down.  So, if you want to go up you get under.  If you want to go down what do you do?  You try to elevate yourself above God.  Authority issues.  When I played at Florida State our head coach was Joe Williams.  You’ve seen me talk to him.  You’ve heard the interview.  And although I didn’t always agree with everything he said or did, I accepted it and lived by it.  Why?  He’s the coach and I’m not.  I had to submit myself to his leadership and that was not always easy.  Most of the time it was, but not always.

When you submit yourself to authority, when you find where the authority structure is, when you submit yourself to it, your life will always go better than when you try to run everything yourself.

Well, Ed, hey, man. I feel you and I understand the basketball kinda lingo and the coach and the game and all that. But here’s my problem with it.  You see, I don’t respect this person over me.  And…?  No, wait a minute.  You didn’t hear me.  I don’t respect…  It has nothing to do with respect.  You have to honor the position.  If you wait for respect to follow and then once you respect the individual, then you can honor him or her, then you can submit to them, you’ll never – let me repeat – you’ll never understand the brilliance and the beauty of authority.

We’re diamonds in the rough.  A diamond in the rough is not pretty.  When I sat the bench at Florida State I usually sat right by the cheerleaders from different schools.  So, I heard all sorts of different cheers.  And one of the cheers I heard was: “U-G-L-Y, You ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly.”  People would say that about people on the court.  Well, a diamond in the rough is U-G-L-Y, You ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly.  It’s ugly.  All this dirt, all this stuff that looks bad.  Well, that diamond in the rough is taken to someone who knows how to cut and carve a diamond, and the diamond smith chips away <chink-chink-chink-chink> those rough edges and that grime and dirt, and all of a sudden you have a beautiful diamond.  We’re diamonds in the rough.  God will place us in situations and put people who are experts, authority figures, at chipping away the junk and the funk from our lives, and he’s making us into a beautiful diamond.  So many of us are fighting the process of God perfecting us.  Because God gives us boundaries and walls and principals for our protection, and for our perfection.

This basketball court, as I went over earlier, there are boundaries and lines for a reason.  Well, God has given us boundaries and lines for a reason.  Free throw lines, side lines, baselines.  He doesn’t want to rain on our parade.  He’s not a cosmic killjoy.  Whenever God gives us a prohibition, whenever God says you should not do that, it’s for our protection.  But watch this.  It’s also for our (as I said a minute ago) perfection and for our joy!  God knows, for example, if we don’t pay attention to the free throw line or the baseline or that the basket is 10 feet.  If we just go off the grid or off the court, he knows eventually we’re going to hit bottom.  So, God doesn’t just suggest stuff for us, these are commands.  However, we have a choice.  We either choose to accept the commands or not.  Every time I hit the basketball court, I have a choice.  I either play by the rules or I don’t.  Playing by the rules is the way to go.  We’re going to make mistakes, we are going to foul and all that.  Yet, all these things that God has given us, he’s given us for a reason.

God tells us don’t commit adultery.  That’s a pretty known commandment throughout Scripture.  Why would God say that?  Don’t commit adultery, don’t sleep with someone who is not your spouse.  Why would God say that?  Out of love.  Out of complete and total love.  Because he knows the mayhem and the chaos that will take place in a husband and wife relationship when there is infidelity.  He knows what will take place amongst the kids, the in-laws, the other relatives, the friends.  He knows what will take place in culture, in our country, and in the world when we turn our backs on this basic directive.  Another reason why he says it is because marriage is the only relationship that is reflective of the gospel.  So, when we commit adultery, when we have relations outside the marriage bed, we’re following other gods.  Small G.  We’re saying, “God, you’re not God and I’m gonna make a mockery of marriage.”  Because remember, marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with his people.  The husband represents Christ and the bride represents the church.  Jesus loved the church selflessly, sacrificially, and steadfastly.  So, you begin to see the genius of God.  That’s just one command in Scripture.

So, God has commands for us.  He has commands about honesty.  You know, we want to accomplish things, we want to do things, we want to put points on the board and score and God gives us those opportunities.  But, when we cheat, when we lie, when we steal, yeah, we might have a short-term result but ultimately, once again, it will lead to death.  So, I want you to notice one thing.  God’s court is given because of love.  This whole court is lined out because of God’s love.  We have to submit to him and submit to the authority structures and the boundaries and sidelines and foul lines he has given us.


#2 – We need to scout those who play by the rules.  Just take a Bible and read about all of the people who have played by the rules.  I’m talking about those people who have lived the way Jesus wants them to live.  In James 4:7 it says, “Submit yourselves (there we go, authority issues), submit yourself then to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  All we have to do is just go through and look at the different men and women of Scripture and see those who lived the life, those who played by God’s rules, which are always there for our love and for our freedom, and compare those to the people who didn’t.  Scout players.

One of the main things that coaches do these days, and when I interviewed my coach from back in the 80’s, Coach Joe Williams, he spent so, much of his time scouting players around the country.  He would see their strengths and weaknesses, and usually the ones he would choose would be those players that had the best fundamentals, that had quickness and jumping ability, that could make the grades, that understood authority, he would end up choosing those.  We, too, can learn from that.  We have the opportunity to scout people who are doing the stuff, who are shooting 3’s, who are scoring points, who are winning.  God’s court is given because of love.  Remember that.  Scout those who play by God’s rules.  Remember that, too.


#3 – Consider the consequences of those who don’t play this game.  All I have to do is just look back in my life, look back, for example, at my team photos from my freshman year, my sophomore year, and my junior year, just to show you some of those photos.  And I can tell you with amazing accuracy what will happen to you if you disregard God’s way of living.  It starts with a personal relationship with Christ.  When I was recruited at Florida State, it started when I was in high school, with a personal relationship with Coach Joe Williams.  And that relationship blossomed into him recruiting me, watching me, helping me, then offering me a full scholarship.  A Division I scholarship, everything taken care of.  He offered it to me.  All I had to do was sign.  And once I signed, once I made the decision, then I really understood the full implications of that.

I’ve got to ask you once again, have you signed?  The God of the Universe, Jesus, has scouted you. And even though you’ve made mistakes, even though you’ve fouled, even though you’ve committed turnovers, even though you’ve sinned, Jesus loves you.  You matter to him.  So, much so, that he died on the cross for your sins, and he offers you a full ride in eternity.  All he’s saying is just sign.  You get a full ride.  Sign.  Here’s the pen.  Sign.  Well, I need to change this, Jesus, first.  I need to tweak this.  No, no, no.  Sign on the dotted line.  Because the moment you sign on the dotted line, your guilt is put on his shoulders, his grace goes into your life.  Your mess-ups for his mercy.  Your turnovers for his truth.  Your guilt for his grace.  It’s up to you.  I would have been a fool not to sign on the dotted line for a full scholarship at Florida State University.  Don’t be a fool.  Sign on the dotted line and you’ll discover what life is all about.  You’ll discover what God is all about.  You’ll discover what your court is all about.

When you have people in authority over your life, which we all do.  We all have authority figures in our lives.  We can have some bad reactions to authority, and here’s how you know if you’re dealing with authority issues.  Sometimes you blow up.  That’s the first reaction.  You get all angry.  And usually anger is a secondary emotion.  The reason we jump to anger is because it’s easier than feeling insecure.  If you do that you have an authority issue problem.  You have an issue with the authority issues.  Other times we just break up.  We’re like, “oh man, I’m out of here.  I’m gonna take my ball and go home.”  We leave. If that’s your mentality, you have authority issues.  Some people just hold up.  You know, we pivot, and we pout.  What’s wrong?  Nothing.  Seriously, what’s wrong?  Nothing.  Other people cover up.  Oh, they blame this person or that person.  Do you play the blame game with authority issues?  You’ve got issues with authority.  Other people just throw up.  They start gulping that Haterade and throw this accusation at your or me.  It’s so funny, when you’re an authority figure or you’re in authority, you’re always gonna take hate.  I know that being a pastor.  I’ve been a pastor now for almost 30 years.  People come to church with all sorts of issues, and so, often they like to blame me for their problems.  You know what?  I’m not your problem.  Many times, it can be authority issues.  Other people stir up stuff.  They try to sabotage the family, sabotage the school.  We had people on our team, right before my junior year, they were trying to sabotage Florida State because they couldn’t handle authority.  Some of the people tried to sue Florida State, I’m talking about my team mates!  If you’re like that, you have authority issues.  Also, if you pile up.  Pile up.  You get together and you have this black-tie, invitational pity party, and you get all upset and you say, “Well, they’ve been coming to me… they said… they feel…”  just stop somebody and say, who are they?  ‘They’ are usually just one or two haters.  Some people just give up.  They just can’t take the heat, they can’t take the coach, so, it’s like, “I quit.  I’m gone.  I give up.  I throw the towel in.”  So, if you blow up, break up, hold up, cover up, throw up, stir up, pile up, and give up, you’ve got authority issues.


So, what do you do about it?  Once you submit to God’s authority, once you say, “God, you’re above me.  I’m below you and I’m below all of the entities you put above me.”  Whether it be government, whether it be a president, whether it be a CEO, whether it be a manager, a coach, a pastor, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, whatever it is, God, I’m underneath it. What are the good reactions that we’re gonna find out?  Well, it begins with our palms up.  God, I surrender all.  Everything is you.  The next thing is we will grow up. One of the main things that James writes about is maturity.  He wants us to mature and to develop, and one of the quickest ways toward spiritual maturity is with authority issues.  Also, he wants us to shape up.  He wants us to improve, and we will as we process these trials and these testings that come our way.  There’s a long season, and James says consider it a joy when you face various trials.  Oh, I finally missed one.  I’m working up a sweat now, guys.  Come on, come on, oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  Come on, help me.  Somebody cheer for me here.  Yeah!  Whew!

So, tune up, tune up.  Every time you’re critiqued or reprimanded or every time someone corrects you, you need to go, “Wow, God, thank you for cutting away the access and making me into a diamond.”  Because small tweaks take us to giant peaks.  Whoa that’s it.  Bam!  Small tweaks.

Also, step up.  Sometimes when we’re under authority we’ve got to step up.  There’s a challenge, man. Let’s take the challenge.  That’s what we’ve got to do.  So, look, when you do it God’s way you’ve got to have palms up.  You’ve got to grow up.  You’ve got to shape up, tune up, and step up.  Then you’ll be ready, you’ll be ready to step back.  I’m open!  Yeah!  You’ll have a championship life!


{Walks off Stage}