October 19, 2009
Do we have any real fans in the house? Anybody? Yeah, we got some serious, serious fans. You know, today, I want to welcome everybody. All those who will see this by television around the world, also at our various campuses down in Miami, we welcome our venue there. Also in downtown Dallas, downtown Fort Worth, Plano, and also at our beautiful camp, Allaso Ranch. What’s going on? Yeah, we got some real fans. Real fans, real fans, real fans. Please be seated.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, I was asking him about what it means to be a fan. A real fan. And he told me the definition of a fan. He knew it just like that. He said, “Ed, a fan is an enthusiastic follower.”
I thought to myself, “That’s cool. A fan is an enthusiastic follower.”
Now, back in the day, for example, Jesus talked about following. He challenged men and women to follow him, he challenged students to follow him, he challenged families to follow him, kids to follow him. He used the word follow, a lot.
Now, I’ve got to believe if Jesus was right here, on this stage in the flesh, he might not use the word follow. I think he might use the word fan. He’d probably say, “Become a real fan,” because a fan is an enthusiastic follower. And we’ve got some real fans. This is a place where you’ve got fans. We’re fans of different teams, of different sports. Some people are rugby fans, that’s right. Others are soccer fans. That’s probably the biggest sport in the world. Some are basketball fans, golf fans and football fans. Yeah, we got some serious football fans. Any Cowboys fans here? Do we have any Cowboys fans? That’s right. The Dallas Cowboys.
Well, over the next several weeks I’m going to be talking about what it means to be a real fan, because the word “fan” comes from this word “fanatic.” What does it mean to be a real fan? Because the facets of being a real fan also relate to your life and my life as we relate to God. Because in a real way, God wants you and me to become enthusiastic followers. He wants us to become real fans of him.
I say it this way. God’s plan for man is to be a fan. We have this desire for fandom we have this desire to enthusiastically follow something–-and that’s good. So I’m not at all going to say, “Hey, don’t be a fan. You know, it’s wrong to be a fan. I can’t believe you’re a fan.” No, no, no. I think it’s cool to be a fan. But this desire for devotion that we have is really a microcosm of bigger desire. That’s to be an enthusiastic follower of the Lord himself. So, I’m going to parallel that over the next several weekends. What does it mean to be a fan? What are the facets of a real fan?
One of the things about being a real fan is you don’t have to teach it. No one taught me how to be a real fan. When my team scores a touchdown, no one taught me, “Hey, raise your hands and go ‘touchdown!’” No one taught me to scream, “Yeah!” no one taught me to boo, “Booooo!” No one taught me that. I just know how to do that.
You hear the bands out there? And you hear different things and see different things. Just pan the crowd for example at a football game, and you’ll see things going on. We love to follow enthusiastically the team we’re after. And what’s so paradoxical is, a lot of us kind of walk around all day like this, “[grumbling-mumbling]” but we walk into a stadium, we see a football game, we go ballistic. It’s total pandemonium because we’re a real fan.
The first facet of a real fan, a real fan is somebody who is emotional. They’re [team music playing – Ed and crowd begin clapping] Come on now, let’s go! Wow! That’s right! Hook ‘em horns, yeah! Yeah! [Clapping and music continues] Yeah!
[New team music begins playing] Whoa! [Crowd cheers – Ed begins taking outer shirt off to reveal his old Florida State Basketball uniform] Come on! I’ve not worn this in 30 years. It’s the first time I ever – I ever put on Spanx in my life. It’s my sports bra. People are like, “Man, that looks like it’s brand new.” Well, that’s about how much I played. I mean, think about it, the only work this jersey had was when I did this right here. [Portraying time he sat on the bench while on the team at Florida State.]
It was cool to watch you guys, because when those songs played, those fight songs, you know what happened? You instantly engaged. The longhorn fans are like, “Wha-What? Oh-oh-oh!” And you were holding back, but you instantly connected. Those who like the Florida State Seminoles, I mean, I mean you had, this, just no one taught, you just did it, it’s a natural thing. You instantly engage. Those fight songs, there’s nothing like them. Now, we fight our way to victory, yeah!
Do you realize today, before I walked on stage, we did a bunch of fight songs? You know, I call them worship songs, but in reality, they’re fight songs. We’re talking about this faith fight. And the good news is, we win. That’s the good news. Every time we come to this stadium, to this house, Jesus runs up the score. So we’re not victims, we’re victors. We shouldn’t be whining, we’re winners. We’re not fighting like, “Oh, I gotta, I gotta fight for this victory.” We’re fighting from it, because the battle has been won. Jesus did the work on Calvary. Something we don’t deserve, for your sins and mine. And because of that, because of his death, burial and resurrection, we are a part of this team. So real fans, enthusiastic followers of Jesus, once we hear the worship song, we should instantly engage. That’s a fight song, that’s a worship song. The psalmist said it this way. Psalm 47 verse one. “Oh clap your hands all you peoples. Shout to the Lord with the voice of triumph.” A real fan’s emotion. A real fan has passionate. I got to ask you, are you passionate? Are you emotional about the Lord?
Yeah, that’s cool that you’re into sports and all that, I mean, good for you. But are you passionate about the things that really matter? Because we have to ask ourselves a question. What’s the take-home when we’re emotional or passionate about the Dallas Stars? The Miami Hurricanes? The Miami Dolphins? The Dallas Cowboys? Or if you’re in Australia, the All Blacks. I mean, what’s the take-home, what’s the take-home? “Uh, ok, wow, we won, yeah. We dominated man, we took turf, uh, uh yeah, ha-ha, it’s on you,” or whatever it is. And we scream and yell, I mean that’s about it. But when it comes to what I’m talking about. When it comes to really enthusiastically following the Lord, when it comes to really worshiping him and giving ourselves emotionally and passionately to him, the take-home is – eternal.
So, it’s temporal verses the eternal. You’re thinking, “Ok, I had this quick feeling of ‘yeah, we did it,’” compared to the fruits of the spirit. Love, joy, peace and on and on and on. Real fans are emotional.
But there’s something else. Not only are real fans emotional, real fans are also loyal. You talk to a Seminole fan. You’re not going to get a Seminole fan to change his or her loyalty over to the Florida Gators. I mean, it’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get a Florida Gator to change their loyalty to a ‘criminal,’ I mean Seminole. You’re not going to have that. A Dallas Cowboy’s fan, a real fan, is not going to change his or her loyalty to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s just not going to happen. So we’re committed fully-committed. We’re loyal. Real fans. Come to the game early, they stay late. Real fans. Even in triple-degree Texas heat, they’re smiling. Even though parking for the new Cowboy’s stadium cost between 30 to 75 dollars, per car. Per game.
I thought about charging 75 dollars per parking per church service, per car, but then I knew no one would show up. I really thought about putting little signs that said, “$75 parking.”
Anyway, you pay $30 to see the Cowboys play. And watch people, it can be just hot as fire, they’re dragging their kids to the game, just a spring in their step and a twinkle in their eye, sitting in cramped seats, eating overpriced junk food and drinking adult beverages and watching a bunch of muscular guys, some overweight, fight over a pig-skin zipped up with air. That’s about it. And that’s fine. That’s fine that we’re loyal. It’s fine that we’re committed to that – good.
Don’t waste, though, your devotion. Remember, we’re designed for devotion. We’re fashioned to follow someone enthusiastically. And this whole fan mentality is just a microcosm of a bigger thing. Our loyalty should be toward God. Again, the psalmist talks about loyalty and commitment. Because the psalmist said something long before Nike ever ripped off this phrase. In fact, well, you probably, some of the lawyers that are, could probably sue Nike, because it says in Psalm 37:5, “commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and he will…do it.” Somebody’s got a law suit here. He will do it! God will do it when we what? When we’re committed to him. When we’re loyal to him.
Illus: I have to be totally transparent with you. The time when I really followed the Cowboys, the time when I would consider myself a real Cowboy fan, was back in the early 90’s. It really was. And I’m not saying it just because that’s when they, you know, won all the Super Bowls, because I really became a real fan prior to that run. And the reason is the fact that Troy Aikman attended Fellowship Church for years and years during that time period. He was a friend of mine, so I knew the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. “Wow!” So when I would watch the game, it changed everything, because I knew, not just about Troy, I knew Troy and know Troy.
A lot of people who show up to this stadium, “Oh man, you know a lot about Jesus. You know a lot about God. Do you know him? Do you know the quarterback? Because when you know the quarterback, you’re going to have emotion, you’re going to have passion, and you are going to be eaten up with loyalty. Think about real fans. Come early, stay late. They don’t go, “Ok, man. Man, we’re getting blown out. I’m going to beat the crowd, beat the traffic, I’m gonna get on the freeway quick.”
How many times have I done that and how many times have I wanted to kick myself because I turn the radio on, “Wow, the Cowboys have made an amazing comeback! They’ve scored 42 points in 17 seconds.” “Aaaahhhaa, I missed that, what am I doing, I left, I’m a fair weather fan.”
People sometimes leave early at church! The game clock is ticking down, two minutes to go, the two-minute warning. “I’m going to go ahead and leave now. I’ve got to beat the traffic, you know.” People complain about walking across the parking lot. People complain, wait in line for 15 minutes here at Fellowship Church for the traffic.
You wait 15 hours to watch the Cowboys! Smiling the whole time, “This is awesome, man, I love it!” You’re loyal.
Real fans are self-feeders, they just digest all the stats, the efficiency quarterback ratings, and they play fantasy football, they know it all. They’re just self-feeders. They tailgate. That’s their home team. They tailgate. Yeah–have a little group there, small group. And they’re open, man, they’re hospitable. You walk by, “Hey, you want a hotdog, man? Come on, sit down! We’ll take care of it, yeah, come on, yeah…” They’re open.
How about when it comes to the things of God? Real fans are emotional. Real fans have that passion, don’t they? Real fans are loyal. They’re totally committed, come hell or high water. They’re in the deal.
Ok, I’ve only got 20 seconds left in this first half, let me think what else I can say. Ok, it’s time – it’s time that we really understand what it means to be a true fan. God’s plan for man is to become a true fan! We become a true fan of him, we give emotion to him, we give passion to him, we give commitment to him, and the payback is awesome.
[Referee comes out and Whistle Blows – it’s half time]
[Halftime show report – PT Lee and Chris King]
That’s right, I’m talking about real fans. Enthusiastic followers.
The first down, the first thing that we talked about, yeah, we’re emotional. Secondly, we’re loyal. Third, the third down, what are real fans? I tell you what real fans are, real fans are promotional. We’re promotional. Look at this stuff I have on. I’m not shy to show people I’m a Florida State Seminole. Got my name on the back. Wow. You’re the same. Look around. Check out a game. Just do a panoramic view of any stadium out there. You’ve got fans who will dress up, who will show up, who will get up and stand up, just for their team.
What does the Bible say? In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You’ll be my witnesses.” In Matthew 10, Jesus said, “If you confess me before men, in other words, if you promote me before men, I’ll promote you before the father in heaven. And we’re not shy about doing that. But so often, we put Jesus on the down-low, don’t we? We kind of, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.” How bold are you for Jesus? I don’t mean forcing it in someone’s face, I don’t mean taking the ball and jamming it down their throat. But do you speak up? Do you step up? You say, “You know what, I am a fan! I am an enthusiastic follower of Christ.” Whenever we dress up for a game, we think about it. Real fans plan out their outfits, man. They lay it out on the bed or they have it hanging up–does it match, does it look cool, does it look funky? Does it look crazy enough for the camera to pick me out of the crowd? We like to do that don’t we?
Well, just think about being clothed in Christ? Because the Bible says when we become a believer, when we’re baptized, we’re clothed in Christ. The Bible also says that we have the opportunity to put on the full armor of God. That’s real Under-Armor. We have that opportunity. But God doesn’t dress you and me. We make the choice to do that. Are you promoting? Are you following him? But we’re not shy about paraphernalia, man. We love it! And real fans, they got coffee mugs, t-shirts, even underwear to advertise their team. It’s crazy! Are you doing the same thing for the Lord? Real fans are promotional.
Jerry Jones. Anybody ever heard of Jerry Jones? Jerry Jones. “[Imitating Jerry] Good morning to you, how you guys doing?” Jerry Jones. I was thinking the other day, here’s some statements that Jerry Jones will not make about his new “stage-yum.” I wrote these down. You might want to write them down too. The first statement you’ll never hear ole Jerry make. The first statement is, “[Imitating Jerry] Uh, well, uh, the stage-yum is just too big. Seats over 100,000 people, it’s just too big. Uh, it’s just huge, it’s uhhh, it’s just a giant.” You’re not going to hear Jerry Jones say that! You ever heard him say that?
You ever heard a real fan say that? “I’m not going to the Cowboys stadium, because the place is just too big. Too many people. Over 100,000 people. Wow!” “No, I can’t go to church, church is just too big. Too big. It’s just gi-normous. I want a little church.”
Well, I understand the little church thing, if you live in a little community. If you live in a little community, it’ll be a little church. But if you live in a big honkin’ place, the church should be a big honkin’ church. It should be a big stage-yum. It should be a big stage-yum. That’s right! Heaven’s going to be big. Heaven’s not small.
And you know, you only know an average of 37.5 people per church whether your church has 100 or 100,000, so one of the great things about a big church is, you’ve got more relational options. Ok.
Here’s the second statement you’ll never hear Jerry utter. Now, Wade might utter this. “Oh, Jerry, it hurts my ears, Jerry.”
But Jerry, you’ll never hear Jerry say this, “Uhh, well, I tell ya, uh, this stage-yum, uh, yesterday, uhhh, was just, uhhh, too loud.” Too loud? No, no, no.
A real fan will never say, “Oh I just can’t go back, that hurt my ears. I’m not going to go back.” “Wow, I went to Fellowship Church, and that music was just so loud, I’m not going to come back. It’s just loud!”
“Clap your hands all ye people, shout to God with a voice of triumph!”
Here’s the third statement that Jerry will never say, “Mmm-uhhh, well-uhh, I just think it’s too entertaining. It’s just too much entertainment. The Cowboys are about football. And in this stage-yum, there’s just too much entertainment going on.”
Entertainment? Entertainment? I love the word ‘entertainment.’ Entertainment. As you heard me say, it means to capture and to hold someone’s attention for an extended period of time. What did Jesus do? He entertained people. What did Jesus do? He held people spellbound. What did Jesus do? They were sitting on the edge of their seats. What did Jesus do? He entertained people using visuals, telling stories. 70% of his words were words of application. You know the apps on the iPhone? Application used to be a verb. Now we’ve changed it to a noun. It’s a verb. It’s a verb. It’s a verb.
So what, ok? Like today’s talk. Ok, a fan. I should enthusiastically follow God. Man, that awesome, ok. Good. So what? Well, I’m to take what we’ve talked about and apply it to where I am. We’ve got to ask ourselves some hard questions: am I passionate? Am I loyal? Am I promotional?
And that brings us to the 4th thing. Somebody catch this? Somebody catch this, watch this. Oh, there – I don’t want to hurt anybody, but, owe, Yeah! Nice Grab. You can have that free of charge.
But the 4th thing you’ll never hear Jerry say, and I love this one, is, “The Cowboys are just interested in your money.” Jerry will not say that. Jerry will say, “No, it’s for the fans. Everything’s for the fans in the stage-yum.” No-no. You’re not going to hear Jerry talk about that.
But let’s be honest. The Cowboys want our what? Money. Yeah. And that’s cool. The 4th thing. You show me a real fan, I’ll show you somebody who is financial. They’re resourceful. They leverage their resources for the team. Whenever you go to a game, just again, check the crowd. When the camera pans the crowd, every single person in that ‘stage-yum’ has paid a serious price financially to be there. Think about the wear and the tear on your car, think about the fuel, think about the parking, 30 to 70 dollars. Think about the overpriced junk food. Think about the paraphernalia. Think – just think about the money. Teams always have building programs.
Illus: A while back, T. Boone Pickens gave Oklahoma State University what, 200 million dollars. Two gifts equaled 200 million. Just for the stadium! Good for him. Get’s his name in lights. Wow. Go Oklahoma State. Good for you.
But I ask you, several decades from now, who gives a flying flip about that? A hundred years from now, who cares? A bunch of young guys, most of them muscular, some of them fat, trying to push a pig skin, zipped up with air, across a green field with white lines. And T. Boone Pickens who has the gift of making money, boom, drops a transcendent gift on Oklahoma State University.
Uh, that’s great! If you’ve got that kind of jack, good for you. But, when is that going to happen in this stadium? When’s that going to happen in churches all over North America? When is that going to happen in churches all over the world? When will people realize we’re talking eternal stuff here? When are people going to realize we’re talking about fragmented families coming together? When’s a church going to realize, and people going to realize we’re talking about marriages operating from the same page? When are we going to realize that we’re talking about the future of our young people? It’s not in football, it’s not in rugby, it’s not in basketball. It’s not in badminton. It’s in the church. And real fans understand that. So, it’s time for us to fully resource this house. Finances. Finances. It’s unbelievable.
You know about God or do you know him? Are you an enthusiastic follower of Jesus? That the verb. That’s what it means to apply this stuff. How’s your emotion and passion. How’s your loyalty? Your promotion? How are your resources? How’s your finances? Those are great questions.
And I was thinking about the list and then I was thinking about Jesus. Because Jesus himself reflects all those things that I just talked about.
You’re talking about emotional? God has feelings too. We’re made in the image of him, we have emotions. They’re things that you can do and I can do to make God jealous. He doesn’t want us to waste our worship. There are things we can do to make God’s heart beat fast. There are things we can do as we walk with him to make God smile. The Lord has feelings too. He’s emotional, he’s passionate toward you and me. Isn’t that cool?
You want to talk about loyalty and commitment, so think about when Jesus was dying on the cross for your sins. I mean every demon in hell said, “Quit! Jump off the cross. You’re the son of God. You got the power to do it!” Jesus said no. He was loyal and totally committed because he had your sins and mine on his mind and heart. And he crashed through that quitting point. That’s loyalty. He’s not a fair-weather fan. Can you image if Jesus were a fair-weather fan in your life and mine? His love is constant. He promotes you and me. He’s the ultimate promoter. The Bible says 24-7, he is promoting you and me before the father himself. And he promises us time and time again, we stand for him, he is standing for us. He’s all about promotion. He wants us to make him famous because he knows if we try to make anything else famous, especially our self, we’re going to be gravely disappointed, no pun intended.
Financial? You mean Jesus has a financial interest? God has a financial interest in my life? You better believe it. You read the gospels, read in the original languages, about this whole doctrine of salvation, substitutionary atonement, they’re all financial terms. We have a debt that we can’t pay! We can’t file chapter 11, chapter 9, or whatever. We can’t say, “I’m sorry.” But what did God do? God sent Jesus to pay your debt and my debt. To pay our sin debt, something we could never do ourselves. Jesus did it. He’s our ransom. And now he’s resourced us, he’s blessed us to resource the local church.
You know, I would love to diesel on, but I can’t. I gotta stop. But I want to thank you for being enthusiastic followers. I want to thank you for being a church that’s all about fanfare and fandemonium. Don’t waste it though. It’s good to get into one team or another, but make sure you’re supporting and you’re loving and you’re following the real deal, which is, the Lord himself.
God’s plan for man is to be a fan.