September 25, 2011
Being a shark can be a very good thing. After all, as apex predators, these creatures swim with confidence through the ocean, fearing little. But even at the top of the food chain, sharks need to be aware of traps in their way, hooks that threaten to ensnare them.
In this message, Ed Young shows us how we are all designed to be sharks. He reminds us about what it takes to avoid the hook of temptation. And we discover how God’s plan for us isn’t to become shark bait, but to swim with swagger through the ocean of life.
ILLUS: Fourth of July weekend, years and years ago, I got together with some friends of mine. We formed a Shark Club. I was 18 years old. We made our way to Galveston, Texas to do some land-based shark fishing. I’m not talking about from a boat, I’m not talking about deep-sea fishing, I’m talking about fishing for giant sharks from the beach. Why in the world we chose Fourth of July weekend I’ll never know, but we did.
We got there early. We met the shrimp boats and collected enough fish, enough chum to do the job. We loaded up the chum in my Cherokee Chief with a little row boat and left the shrimp boats. We parked right in front of the Flagship Hotel. During that time it was like the epicenter of Galveston. We jumped off the seawall, walked on a couple of rocks, and began to cut the bloody bait. We cut that bait up for hours and hours and hours. We cut the chum up. We got some stingrays from the shrimp boats. Stingrays are sharks’ favorite food and we put those on the razor-sharp hooks of the giant rod and reel. We poured all of the chum in the bait buckets after we had cut it up. Then we put it in a little row boat.
Because see, if you’re land-based shark fishing you can’t cast a rod and reel this big out into the ocean. It’s too big. I mean, look at this thing. This thing weighs about 30 pounds. We put the hook and the bait in the boat, rowed it offshore about 400 yards. Just took this, (hear that sound), and took to offshore.
By this time hundreds of people were swimming in the water around us. They had no idea we were shark fishing. They had no idea we had buckets and buckets of chum. We got out there behind the surf line and we dropped the chum into the water. And I’m thinking, “Wow, this chum is all around the swimmers! This has got to be illegal. “
We then took those big honkin’ hooks with those stingrays and dropped them into the murky waters of Galveston in the middle of the chum. We got the heck out of there. We rode all the way back to shore.
So are you with me? We have the big rod and reel on the beach on a cooler, the bait is way out there soaking, the chum is working and the big sharks are swimming.
“Ed, you mean to tell me big sharks swim that close?” You better believe it.
“But they’ve told me, I went on this cruise and they told my wife and I that there were no sharks!” They were lying! Sharks are everywhere. They’re everywhere.
We’re waiting for the big shark. I put that Hawaiian Tropic all over me. I was working on the ultimate tan back in the day, dripping off my nose, triple-degree heat. Now the crowds were swelling. I mean people were thick, swimming all around us. Again, they had no idea we were shark fishing. I saw some bloody pieces of fish kinda moving around in the current. I just acted like, whoa, OK!
After a while of waiting the members of the Shark Club said, “Ed, we’re going to get something to eat.” And my brother was one of those members and they left me alone with the rod and reel. They were gone for a long time, like an hour and a half!
So I’m there, by myself on this rock, with this giant rod and reel, Hawaiian Tropic dripping all over me. Some other fisherman joined me. They can’t speak English. They speak Spanish. And of course, I can’t speak Spanish. So I’m just kinda lookin’ at them and they’re lookin’ at me. They’re looking at the reel and they’re like making jokes. He’s laughing. I heard one say “loco.” But after a while my friends and my brother didn’t come back so I’m getting worried about them. I hear some sirens going off and traffic jams and hundreds of people there, Fourth of July weekend. So I just pointed to my Spanish-speaking friends, I pointed to the rod. I asked them if they’d motion me if the rod…
“Si, si! Si.” So I jumped down off the rocks and I began to walk along the beautiful seawall in Galveston, Texas, trying to find my brothers, trying to see my old Cherokee Chief they were in. Couldn’t see ‘em, couldn’t see ‘em.
So I’m walking this way (I’ll never forget it) on the seawall and I happened to look back toward the rocks, and I see my friends. They’re now surrounding my rod and reel looking like… And then one of them saw me and he was like this…
When I saw him motion, it was one of the greatest feelings in my life. I’m thinking to myself, “The big one has hit! The big one is on the line!” I sprint down and sure enough I hear the sound that every fisherman loves to hear. <sound effect of reel spinning out>
I’m like, “ohohohoh! Thank you Lord!” I pick up this big outfit, set the hook. Set the hook in the jaws of this shark and the fight is on! I’m slipping and sliding. I’ve got oil all over me. I had to put the rod like down in between my knees and all of a sudden a crowd of people starts gathering. And my friends are like… they just couldn’t believe it. And I’m thinking to myself, “I have got a bull shark on the end of my line.”
A bull shark has more testosterone than any animal on planet earth. A bull shark will bite anything and anybody if they’re hurt. I’ve had bull sharks bite props. I’ve had bull sharks bite the bows and the sterns of boats. I’ve had bull sharks bite push poles. Those fish are crazy, man. They’re just absolutely insane. So, I’m thinking to myself that I’m gonna have a problem when I bring this angry and irritated bull shark onto the beach with hundreds and hundreds of swimmers. But I’m saying to myself, “Well, I’m just gonna fight the shark right now. I can worry about that later.”
I’m fighting and fighting and fighting the shark, and I’m thinking, “Where are the members of the Shark Club? Where are they?” And then I look and I see them walking up the beach. These big old bags of Sonic, those grease spots on the bottom.
“Hey Ed, what are you doing, man?”
“I’M FIGHTING A SHARK!” My brother starts eating a cheeseburger! I’m like,
“BEN, HELP ME!!!” I mean, I get intense when I fish. I freak out. I’m a very excitable fisherman.
So we all begin to pull on this massive Leviathan, and sure enough it’s a bull shark about 25 yards out. Finally we see the fin, a little bit of blood coming out of his gills. He’s getting closer and closer to the people. He’s like, again, 25-30 yards from hundreds of people, swimming, Fourth of July weekend on Galveston Island. I say,
“Ben! Tell the people to get out of the water! Tell them to get out! Tell them to get out!” And Ben’s like,
“OUT OF THE WATER! IT’S A SHARK! OUT OF THE WATER!!!”
They’re just swimming along. They didn’t speak English either.
Finally, my brother (he’s smart), he goes,
“EL SHARKO! EL SHARKO!” When they saw that, out of an act of desperation (El Sharko, remember that), when they saw that and heard that, they began to just stream out of the water. It looked like a scene from
“Jaws.” They were walking on the water!
By now, traffic jam. People pouring down off of the seawall. Somebody had caught and hooked a giant shark. I didn’t realize it but again, we were breaking the law.
So, we get the shark in. And a shark this big, I mean it was big to us, you get him into about 2 feet of water you can’t pull him anymore. He’s stuck. And now hundreds of people <sound effect of cameras> taking pictures.
So I approach the shark in water that deep. I mean, I’m slightly crazy. I’m telling you I am. But look everybody’s a little bit crazy. Just turn to your neighbor and say, “Neighbor, I’m a little bit crazy.” It’s good, it’s good. But some people are CRAZY. There are some people who are just absolutely straightjacket crazy. We’ll talk about that in a second.
So I’m slightly crazy. I see the shark and I’m approaching it with a rope in about 2 feet of water. He can still move a little bit but I’m watching him. And all of a sudden he goes, <chomp!> He bites through the steel cable we had on the end of our line.
Now I walked on water on that one, bro. I turned, I was out of the water. There’s always a crazy person in every crowd. I mean, everybody’s a little bit crazy but there’s a straightjacked crazy person in every crowd.
At that moment, some dude broke from the crowd, jumped in the water, grabbed this bull shark’s tail! I’m not lying, with my hand lifted up, grabbed his tail! We were like……
He drug this shark so the shark beached himself in about a foot of water. And then we took the rope, tied it around the shark’s tail, pulled him on the sand. I promised you there must have been 400 people surrounding us.
This is awesome, man! A shark! And I’m going, “We’re gonna get arrested. We’re gonna get arrested. We gotta get this shark outta here! We’ve gotta get this shark outta here!”
So we pull the shark, drug the shark up the sand, over the ten-foot seawall. I mean, I recruited every big, muscular guy in the crowd. You know, guys, once you got a shark, man, we’re like yeah! We’re into it! Pulled him onto the sidewalk! Horns honking. Traffic jam!
“Oh my gosh, where’d you get that shark?” This bull shark’s like <ar-ar-ar-ar!> on the sidewalk! Then we taped and wired his jaws kinda shut (we thought), ‘cause I said,
“We’re gonna throw him in the back of my Cherokee. We’re gonna take this sucker home.” So again, a lot of the guys in the crowd, it took about 20 of us, lifted this shark, threw him in the back of my Cherokee. This shark went ballistic in the car! Broke through the tape. Started biting everything in sight. Coolers, the backs of seats! We all drove home from Galveston sitting in the front seat together. The shark, his tail hanging out of the Cherokee, all the way home. And about an hour outside of Galveston he went to be with the Lord.
Would you like to see a picture? There I am, that’s me on the right. Did I have a tan or what? That’s one of my friends, one of the members of the Shark Club, who’s now an attorney. It’s interesting… shark, attorney… anyway. So we’re there. There’s the Cherokee, see it? I’m in my back yard. This is one of the highlights of my life. A big honkin’ bull shark, Fourth of July weekend, in Galveston, Texas.
This next shot shows us trying to remove the hook from those wicked jaws. I got the jaws in my office. I shoulda brought them but I didn’t. it’s great. I get fired up even talking about it. I wanna go shark fishing now! But I like to shark fish from land.
Land-based shark fishing is where it’s at. I mean, it’s fun to do it from boats but let’s get real and raw. Guys, let’s just turn the testosterone on and fish from the beach. Fight these sharks standing up, what do you think? Let’s do it! I wish we were in the ocean right now.
T.S. Anyway, whew! I get too excited. When I tell that story I think about several things.
- I’m crazy.
- There’s nothing like land-based shark fishing.
- I think about today’s subject matter, temptation.
That whole deal was a process followed by an event, then an event followed by a process. That’s temptation. The ultimate angler, I’m talking about the enemy himself, the Devil, is fishing for you and me. And this process is called temptation.
He has the chum. Maybe you’re chum. Who are you chumming around with? The chum is in the water. The stingray, bait, is offshore. It’s soaking. The chum is in the water. The bait is in the water. The bait’s beautiful. The hook is hellacious. The bait is beautiful, the hook is hellacious. The bait is not the temptation, the temptation is the hook. You’ve gotta take a look at the hook. You’ve gotta look past the beauty of the bait to that hellacious hook. When the shark took the stingray, when he scooped it up off the bottom, that patriotic bull shark, as he was running off on Fourth of July weekend, headed for Cuba, he’s thinking,
“I’ve got some sushi! This is awesome, my favorite! A stingray!” but he didn’t’ realize the stingray had him. He didn’t realize he had been hooked until he felt some tension, until he felt something was wrong with the situation.
The process was when we worked our butts off to present the bait to him. The event was when he ate the stingray, and the process was the thrashing and the splashing and the potential collateral damage that could have occurred if we hadn’t have gotten the people (El Sharko! El Sharko!) out of the water. We caught him, we roped him, we threw him in the back of the truck and displayed him for everybody to see. That’s what the devil wants to do in your life and mine.
Temptation is a process followed by an event. Then it’s an event followed by a process. When we take the bait, what’s the bait? It could be to sleep in the wrong bed, for those here who are married. The bait is beautiful. Sin is fun. If sin wasn’t fun we wouldn’t do it! The bait is to sleep in the wrong bed. The hook is a torn up marriage, kids, and the collateral damage when you do it your way and not God’s way. It seems cool, it seems like you’ve gotten away with it.
The writer of James says when desire gets together with will you’ve got a little baby and the baby is sin. Sin has its kicks but its kickbacks are wicked. Then the thrashing and the splashing. You’ve caught the fish and the devil has a very impressive trophy room, doesn’t he? He’s an amazing taxidermist. He has a lot of people displayed because they’ve been caught by temptation.
The devil’s fishing for you. What’s he using for bait? Pride? That’s a very common temptation. Pride is unique because unlike the other sins people don’t know when they’re dealing with pride. It’s crazy. You’re like,
“Hey man, you’re dealing with this or that,” and people are like,
“Oh yeah, I see it, I see it. My anger’s out of control. I see it.”
“I got this addiction to smoking weed. I see it. Methamphetamine. I see it, I see it. I got you.”
“Yeah, yeah, lust, man, that’s me. I’m tempted and I log onto porn sites. I see that.”
“Pride? No I ain’t got no pride problem! No I’m not prideful! The person who’s prideful, that’s that person driving in the Bentley with the bling, who’s like the man.. the woman. I’m in the house! That’s pride.”
I would argue, yeah, that’s pride. That can be pride. We all know people like that. I would argue that some of the most prideful people are those who are prideful about their humility. Those who look conservative. Those people, though, who are all about themselves, what makes me look good, what gives me pleasure. When you talk to them everything always comes back to you. Pride. When somebody shares something they’ve always gotta one-up you. Pride. You can’t commit any other sin unless you first commit the sin of pride. Pride and the ride of pride has the ability to blind and grind and wind us up. And here we are just going through life like a robot and we don’t know we’re prideful. That’s a real temptation!
The temptation of prosperity is another one. People don’t usually mess up when they’re climbing the ladder. They mess up when they’re at the top. David messed up when he was at the top of his game. Solomon messed up when he was at the top of his game. Be careful with success. Be careful with living in the zone. Be careful when you’re blessed. Pride. Prosperity.
Priorities, that’s another temptation that we all face. I love it when people say, “Ed, I want to pray about my priorities.” Oh man, that’s a dumb prayer.
“Oh I want to pray about my priorities.” Girl, that’s a ridiculous prayer. Don’t even pray about it because the Bible has already settled our priorities. They’re already there. Don’t pray about it.
The enemy, though, has some bait that’s beautiful. The hook is hellacious. He wants you and me to get involved in average stuff, good stuff, that packman the great stuff. Priorities. I love the word ‘priorities.’ Its advanced decision making. We agree with God about the priorities so the decision has already been made what I’m doing next weekend. Priorities. The decision has already been made about a date night. The decision has already been made about spending that time and having the kids at age-appropriate teaching serving in the house. The decision has already been made about what I’m gonna do with my finances. Priorities. Priorities! The commitments are really the hook of the bait.
So often we can get overcommitted, over-stimulated, and over the top. I’m talking about temptation. When you’re tempted, the Bible says in James 1:14, “When you’re tempted….”
It’s not a possibility, not a strong probability, it’s a reality. WHEN you’re tempted. WHEN you’re tempted. A faith can’t be trusted unless a faith is tested. The half-brother of Jesus uses trials, tests, and temptations in James and the same word is used for all three. Trials, temptations, and testings.
T.S. What are some fruits of tests, trials, and temptations? Last session, or if you’re watching this on television, last week we talked about the tough side of temptation. Let’s talk about the tender side, the tremendous side of temptation.
Did you know there’s an up-side to temptation? There is! The writer of James says in James 1:2, he says that we should have 1) enjoyment during trials, tests, and temptations. That’s unusual. “Consider it pure joy my brothers or my sisters whenever you face trials of many different kinds.”
Here’s the Tweet of this session. Are you ready? I said are you ready? OK. Don’t waste a trial because a trial can and will waste you. Don’t waste a trial, because a trial can and will waste you. A trial, a test, a temptation is there. God has allowed it (nothing can happen to you or me unless God allows it, he doesn’t always cause it), he allows it. God doesn’t waste a trial, don’t you waste one either. In other words, to get to it you gotta go through it. Say it with me. To get to it, you gotta go through it. That’s you and me. That’s you and me. Enjoyment.
Now this word, enjoyment. “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds,” in the literal language many different colors. A kaleidoscopic range of trials, tests, and temptations. It doesn’t’ mean we’re like happy, and peppy, and bursting with love. Oh boy! I’m facing a trial. I’m facing a temptation. I’m facing a testing! Oh I just wanna… no. It’s not happiness. That’s based on happenings. It’s deeper. I’ve written an entire book about it, “Outrageous, Contagious Joy.” It’s tranquility of the soul.
When I face a temptation, for example, enjoyment. How can I have joy? Because I know great things are about to happen. Did you hear me? I know because the devil himself has picked me out. I know he’s picking on me because he sees this awesome purpose around the corner. That’d be a good place to clap right now. Enjoyment.
Another fruit of temptation, endurance. Endurance. “Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Read endurance. The weakest virtue is one that hasn’t been tested. You want a great marriage? Endurance. You want a great life? Endurance. You want a great career? Endurance. Endurance, endurance, endurance, endurance, endurance. That staying power. That commitment 2.0. that I’m going to hang in here come hell or high water. Yeah, I want to quit but I know I’m not going to quit because I’m enjoying it (I have this joy) and because of joy, because I realizes what’s around the corner, I know God is building stuff in my life. Perseverance. Endurance.
That’s one of the problems in our world today. One of the temptations in our world today. We want stuff now, instantaneous, automatic, systematic. We don’t wanna wait. We don’t wanna allow God to build the incredible stuff that he wants to build in our lives through the process. The process of being a victor over temptation and not a victim.
“Perseverance,” verse 4, “must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”
You’ve got enjoyment, you’ve got endurance. What are you going through right now? And you’ve got enlargement. Enjoyment, endurance, enlargement. You’re mature. You’re big. You’re bad, in Jesus’ name.
The prayer of Jabez. What did Jabez pray? “God, expand my territory!” To get to it we gotta go through it. As you go through it, as I go through it, with joy, with perseverance, it leads to maturity. Then our influence, and many times affluence, expands. We can help others go through the same. We’re stronger, we’re bigger, we’re badder, we can swim with swagger because of me? Because of you? No, no, no, no. Because of Him. Because of God.
The only thing that we possess is a free will. I’ll say it again. The only thing we possess is a free will. Granted, God gave us the free will. We, though, possess a free will. We choose our choices. However, we cannot choose our consequences.
I have a free will, so do you. Success occurs in life, victory over temptation occurs in life, when I sync or nail my will to God’s will. When I have Godcentration. It’s about you, God. The bait’s beautiful, yeah, I know. Sin is fun. The hook is hellacious. I’m gonna look past that to the thrashing, the splashing, the collateral damage, the hookup, the death. Because I know you have something better. Better for me. That’s the positive part of temptation. Enjoyment, endurance, enlargement.
Throughout this series called Shark Weak we’ve learned to walk on our knees. Ba-boom! It’s the posture of power, not passivity. Luke 18:38. You heard it right here. That’s the handles of today’s talk. Jesus was passing by, the crowds were clamoring, freaking out, and a blind man said,
“Jesus, son of David! Have mercy on me!”
What a prayer. That’s your homework. That’s my homework. That’s our life work. You’re at the office. You might be going to a stall in the bathroom, hit a knee. Jesus, have mercy on me. You’re getting ready to go to practice, go behind the stands, kneel. Jesus, have mercy on me. You’re getting ready for some meeting at a board room. In your office, Jesus, have mercy on me. All the toddlers are pulling at you… “Mommy! Mommy!…” Draw away, maybe to the family room and take a knee. Jesus, have mercy on me.
The power of prayer. The power of posture. The power of knowing, God, to get to it, I’ve gotta go through it. You’re gonna give me the stuff to do it.
“Lord, I’m shark weak, but where I’m weak, you’re strong. I know temptation is something I’ve gotta process. Temptation is for the best, not the worst. I’m gonna look past the bait, past the hook, God, to your greatness. I’m gonna consider it joy, I’m gonna persevere in Jesus’ name. And, God, I know you’re gonna broaden my influence and affluence as I become your man, your woman, your student for this generation.”
I’m telling you what. I needed to hear that, how about you? Temptation. Temptation. Leverage it for the Lord Jesus Christ. Leverage it for him.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]