U GOT GAME
October 8, 2000
I had the privilege of going to Texas Stadium and watching the opening game of the regular season. I was enthralled by the masses of people. It’s amazing to watch the different types of human beings who frequent Texas Stadium to watch the Dallas Cowboys. During the game, the Cowboys fell behind—if you remember—and I was just checking out these beer-bellied males screaming at the top of their lungs, cursing and booing with nacho cheese dripping off of their goatees. In essence, they were saying that they could pass better, tackle better, run better, and even coach better than even some of the greatest professional athletes in the world—guys who move at warp speed, guys who can hit like a Mack truck.
The group that was doing all the booing, ladies, were the guys who always tell you, “You know, I’d be a Cowboy today if I hadn’t blown my knee out in the ninth grade.” No, you wouldn’t. It’s a pipe dream. Let’s face it, though, a lot of us have fantasized about playing for America’s team, about wearing the helmet with the star on it and playing in Texas Stadium.
Several days ago, someone that a lot of us know around here had that fantasy turn into a reality: [Video]
Blessed with powerful pistons that propel him down the sidelines, he mastered his skill while running through the dusty plains of Dumas, Texas, like a tumbleweed. Owen Goff—some would call the do-rag-wearing receiver arrogant. Randall Cunningham, three-time MVP, with feet like a Baryshnikov and an arm like an oozy.
Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, and today—Randall Cunningham and Owen Goff. Their minds have moved in sync with every situation. Their special chemistry and friendship have exploded defenses throughout the league. Some say he’s lost his step, that his hands have grown weary with wear and tear. Others comment that he will not dive for the ball any more. But when the chips are down, you can count on the cagey receiver to silence the enemy crowd once again. Though flagrant dancing has been outlawed, he still spikes the ball and dares the league to stop his dirty dancing. This rebellious renegade from the plains of West Texas dances to his own drummer. When you talk about Owen and Randall, they’ve both got game.
Owen hit the field and played catch with an all-pro quarterback. Well, today, I want to talk to you about hitting the field on another level, on a level much greater than an NFL game or some other contest that we could conjure up. I want to talk to you about playing on the field of faith. We’ve been asking one question throughout this series: U Got Game?
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Then he added, “I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” See those two words: serve and give? When you net those words out, they form one all-encompassing term: ministry. Ministry simply means to use your God-given skill set on the field of faith.
Now, when I just said that, when I just read to you those Scripture verses and recited the definition of ministry, some of you have this bouncing around in your brain. You’re saying to yourself, “Well, ministry, using your God-given skill set on the field of faith, that’s reserved for those ringers, Ed, those power players, those Preston Mitchells and Tracey Barnes’s and Tianne Meltons and Troy Pages of the world. Surely, ministry is not about me, ordinary simple me?” If you’re thinking that, you’ve got it all wrong. That biblical math doesn’t hold water. The Bible says, from cover to cover, that when we’re hooked into a fellowship, we should be involved in ministry.
A decade ago we started Fellowship Church, and I was the first full-time staff member ever hired. I was flying solo. I was just alone. I remember when we bought our first typewriter, a used one. I remember when we hooked up our first phone. I remember when I knew the name of every person who attended, the names of their animals, and everything. One night I was in Chili’s with some people from the church, and someone asked me a very profound question. They asked, “Ed, what are going to do about a staff? I mean, you’re all alone. What are you going to do?”
I thought for a second about the Bible and what God said about the church, and I said, “You are going to be the staff.” I knew in the Bible that membership equates to ministry; thus, if you’re hooked into a local body of Christ, you’re a member. And if you’re a member, it means that you should use your God-given skill set on the field of faith. It means that you should leave the stands, and hit the field, and score touchdowns, and make tackles, and do all of this great stuff for God.
If you’re visiting this morning, you picked a great weekend to show up. I mean, you really picked a good one because you are going to see why so many of us around here are stoked for service. You are going to see why so many of us are fired up to do stuff on the field of faith. You already saw ministry in action. When you pulled in, you were introduced to our parking ministry. When you walked in, you were met by our greeting ministry. When you checked in, you were served by our hospitality ministry. And when you entered in, you were seated by our ushers ministry. Everything is a ministry here. We have a hunk of us involved in using our skill set on the field of faith.
Some of you are saying, “Well, Ed, I am smelling you, man. I am following you. I understand that membership means ministry; that I’m to use my God-given skill set on the field of faith. That’s great. That’s cool. But why?” you ask. “Why should I do this? Why should I involve myself in that entity which is the greatest entity in the universe, the local church? Why should I play on God’s field in this context?” Well, normally I shy away from giving you long lists. But today, I’m going to list several things for you, several reasons why all of us should involve ourselves in ministry, why all of us should do the Owen Goff thing—put the uniform on and play.
First, I should get involved in ministry because I’ve been drafted. I’ve been drafted. Just think about it. You are God’s man. You are God’s woman. He’s watched you. He’s had his eye on you. You’re one-of-a-kind. You’re unique. You are looking at the greatest Ed Young that there’ll ever be in the universe. Just go ahead and check me out now. Do you know why? I am the only one. When I get to heaven, God’s not going to say, “Hey, Ed, why weren’t you more like Owen Goff? Why weren’t you more like Randall Cunningham? Why weren’t you more like….” He’s going to say, “Ed, why weren’t you more like you?” He’ll say the same thing to you. So, you be you. If you aren’t you, there’s going to be a hole in history, a gap in creativity, a missing link within the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship”—or you could say masterpiece—“created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are God’s Number 1 pick. I hope you heard that phrase “to do,” “to do.” The Christian life, ministry, is about A-C-T (clap, clap, clap) I-O-N (clap, clap, clap), ACTION, ACTION, God wants ACTION. What kind of action are you giving God? I’ve been drafted. Whether you are outside the family of God or inside the family of God, you have been drafted.
Another reason why I should involve myself in service—and this is for Christ-followers only—is because I’ve been signed. I’ve already signed on the dotted line. Here’s what God did. Our loving God saw a sin that separated us from his love, his plan, and his agenda. God, being the owner, is not like Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones is limited—financially, mentally—compared to God. God has got an unlimited bank, and God has negotiated the ultimate deal for us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and rise again—something that we don’t merit, something we don’t deserve. I don’t care how well we play, how many touchdowns we score, how many extra points we kick, we don’t deserve it. Yet, God commissioned Christ to do the ultimate labor of love by sacrificing his body on a tree.
Now, if we come to a point in our lives where we receive Christ, where we allow him to infiltrate our being—if we confess our sins and turn from our sins and say, “God I receive what you did for me through Christ”—then this wiring takes place. This supernatural, cosmic wiring takes place. All of God’s grace, mercy, and power are transferred into our account. Simultaneously, all of the junk and the sin and the guilt that have been accruing and compounding interest daily in our lives will be transferred to Christ’s account because, remember, He took it. Then, we’re signed. We’re signed. You talk about terms. You talk about no salary cap. You talk about an eternal deal. We have a power that gives us that octane when the storms of life strike. We’ve got a clear conscience. We’ve got stuff that words just can’t describe. I’m signed if I’m a Christ-follower. I’ve been drafted. I’m God’s Number 1 pick.
Number three: I am gifted. I’m gifted. I’ve got some special talent. I’ve got some stuff given to me from God Himself. 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts.” Let me stop right here and ask you something. What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is it just to take up space on a planet spinning into nowhere? Are we here just to communicate, procreate, recreate, and die. That’s it. That’s the meaning of life. No, “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well, so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” [1 Peter 4:10] Manage them well.
I’ve got news for you. No one in this place owns a thing. “Well, man, I started my own business.” You don’t own your own business. “Well, I’ve got this and that….” You don’t own that. You don’t own a thing, nor do I. No clothes, no cars, no houses—zilch, zero. You own nothing. When you give it to your kids, they don’t own it. They’ll have it for four or five decades if they eat well and stay out of trouble. That’s about it. We don’t own a thing, so we’d better admit it. I don’t own anything. I was born with nothing, and I’ll leave with nothing. There’s not going to be any big, old, honkin’ U-Haul trailer behind the hearse. I can’t take it with me. I don’t own my talents. I don’t own my skills. I don’t own my creativity. I don’t own my innovation. I don’t own it. God does.
So, if you try to be an owner, you are going to mess your life up. If you are trying to own what you think you own, if you are going to be a little creature shaking your little puny fist in the face of the Creator God—“Oh yeah, God, by the way, I own it. I run the show”—that’s a joke. That’s hilarious. We’re just managers. And God says, “Manage my stuff well.” We have unique talents and unique skills, and we’re to develop those skills to the best of our ability. While we develop them in the context of the local church, on God’s playing field, it will be an act of worship to develop back to God what He’s given us.
How about our resources? The Bible says we’re to give our resources to the local church. At least ten percent of all we make should go to the church. Those aren’t my words; those are God’s. We develop it. We allow God to supernaturally intervene in our resources. Manage it well.
God is tapping a lot of people on the shoulder right now. He’s saying, “Hey, man, hey, woman, get involved. Get out of the stands, and hit the playing field. Now, what if Randall Cunningham, three-time MVP, the next time Coach Campo asked him to go into the game said, “No, I don’t want to go into the game.”
“Randall, come on, man.” “Read my lips, Coach. I’m not going into the game.” “Randall, I mean…you’re great player, a Hall of Famer.” “Coach, I’m not going in.” What would Jerry Jones do to Randall? “Hey, Randall, you’re fired. You’re cut.” It would be over for Randall.
A non-participating, non-ministering Christian is an oxymoron. And God says that He has every right to cut us if we’re not involved, if we’re not using our skill set within the context of the local church. If we’re not using our stuff, we’re taking up space; and we’re taking up God’s grace. That’s a scary concept. God doesn’t owe you another day on the planet. He doesn’t owe me one either, especially if we’re not doing the stuff, if we’re not using our God-given skill set in a wonderful way.
This segues into Romans 12:4-5, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” What if a certain part of my body just decided to stop functioning? I’d get sick. I’d be in serious trouble. What if, for example, my stomach said to me, “Hey, Ed, man, I don’t want to work anymore. I just want you to feed me.” If I could talk back to my stomach, I’d say, “Get to work!”
In several weeks, I’m going to Atlanta to speak before about 2,500 young leaders, most being pastors. I get an opportunity to do that now and then. And, now and then, these pastors will say to me, “Ed, I meet people in my church who come up to me and say, “Hey, I just want to get fed.” If someone ever tells you that—and I challenge these leaders—just tell them this, “Get to work!” You don’t grow just by saying, “Feed me, baby, feed me.” You grow, and you’re blessed, and you mature by getting to work.
Just think, we’ve got some people right now who are sitting in the stands. You’re sitting on your blessed assurance right now. And it’s time to leave the stands and hit the field. But if you are not using your God-given skill set within this context of a local church, you are keeping this body of Christ from being all it can be, from scoring more and more touchdowns for the glory of God. You are keeping it; you are holding it back. You’re stagnating it. Don’t let that be you.
I’m drafted. I’m signed. I’m gifted. Number four: Colossians 3:23, I’m coached. “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord.” See, I’m not speaking for you. I’m not speaking to try and impress somebody. I’m speaking for an audience of One. Every time I say, “God, I want to please you. I’m about you. I’m worried about your eyes, your agenda. You’re the coach. You’re the man,” then my life soars. The moment I say, “Oh, I wonder what they’re thinking about what I said. I wonder what that group thinks. I wonder what these pastors over here think.” That’s when I mess up, and you’re the same way when you start comparing yourself to others. “I wonder what they think. I wonder what she thinks. I wonder how I look. I wonder….” It’s about God.
Let me tell you what a mature believer says. A mature believer says, “How can I help you? How can I serve you? How can I get outside of myself and do something for you? How can I work in the most important thing around: the local church?” The immature believer is the stomach believer. “Feed me, baby, just feed me. I don’t want to work. I’ll just sit and soak and sour. Just feed me.” I’ll say it one more time: Get to work! Get to work.
“Ed, how have you grown the most in your Christian life?” Working. Serving. That’s how you receive the blessings, how you receive what the Bible calls the joy of our salvation. How do you do that? Well you say, “I’m saved. I’ve received Christ. That’s it. I guess I’m just joyful. Woo, that was good.” No, that’s not it. Yes, we receive joy, but our joy is made complete as we serve. As we minister, then we receive the blessings, and they accrue in our account. “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart as working for the Lord,” the ultimate coach, “not for men.”
Let’s do one more. Number five: I’m graded. Talk to any NFL football player, and they’ll tell you that they spend hour after hour watching film—watching guys go this way and that way, slow motion. They’re grading, watching, holding each other accountable. They get in rooms and say, “Hey, man, you missed that block. Hey, man, you missed that tackle.” And the coach will say it. Accountability time. We’re going to be graded. Those of us who know Christ personally one day will face God. He’ll look at us and say, “What did you do with what I bestowed upon your life? What did you do with your stuff, with your resources, with your gifts and abilities? What did you do?”
There will be levels; there will be greater rewards for those believers who develop their gifts compared to those who just sit back and do the stomach thing, “Feed me, baby, feed me.” Those here who’ve really busted it, those here who maybe just had one talent or two and really used their skill set on the playing field, God will look at you and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Here is your reward.” For others He’ll say, “Boy, I gifted you. I loved you. I tried to communicate to you. I tried to get to you. I put you in Fellowship Church, one of the greatest churches around, yet you didn’t do it.” You said, “Oh, he’ll do it. She’ll do it. I’ll just sit back ‘Come on, feed me, baby, feed me.’” And you’ll miss it. You’ll miss it here, and you’ll miss the rewards that God wants to give you in eternity.
Sometimes, when I’m watching a television show, I welcome commercials. I like commercial breaks now and then. It gives me a chance to maybe go to the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, and just kind of process what’s going on. Let’s take a commercial break.
As you can see, we have a myriad of ministries around here. You could take me, spin me around like the Wheel of Fortune and then stop me. And whatever ministry I land on needs you. A lot of us could hear a message like this and go, “Whoa, this is cool. I’m drafted. I’m signed. I’m gifted. I’m coached. I’m going to be graded. Oh, cool commercial. Yeah, man, that’s really nice. Let me just go ahead and close my Bible. That’s good and all that. Let me go ahead and jump into my car and get warm, and I can just go have some brunch.” We can hear all this stuff, and many times, we still throw these weak excuses God’s way.
I want to give you some popular excuses, excuses I’ve even given before. The first one is: I’m too busy. Oh, you have an opportunity to use your skill set on one the most important playing fields around, but you’re too busy. That’s the mantra of the day, especially for those of us who are Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. “Say, how you doin’, man?” “Oh, I’m just busy.” “Pretty cold out here, isn’t it?” “Yeah, and I’m busy too. I’m just busy, busy, busy, busy, busy.”
What do we mean when we say that we’re busy? I’ll tell you what we mean. We’re saying, “I’m important. I’m big time. Man, I’m so busy and my schedule is so jammed. Man, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I am just busy.” That’s what we’re saying. Let’s go ahead and admit it. I find myself saying, “Well, I’m just busy.” Whoa, Ed’s really something and so are you. But if you are too busy to get involved in ministry in the local church, you’re too busy. I can tell you right now that you’re out of the will of God in certain areas in your life. A lot of people need to recalibrate, and reprioritize, and say, “Whoa, this is not about me. This is about God.”
I’m not talking here about a little charity or a little university. I’m talking about the life change unit, about the team playing on the field. Education, as much money as we spend on it, is not going to solve our problems. Business, as great as it is and how it helps the community, is not going to solve our problems. Al Gore and George W. are not going to solve our problems. Following this psychologist or that one is not going to solve our problems. The only thing that will change a depraved, hell-bent, sinful human being is the supernatural power of Jesus Christ. That’s it. That’s it.
So it does not take a rocket scientist to say, “Well, I better hook into that entity because one day, man, I’m going to be held accountable to it, and I can give a lot of things to it. I’m gifted to help it, so I better do it.” You’re too busy? Too busy? Who are you worshiping? Are you bowing down to the sports god, the soccer god, the football god, the baseball god? Are you bowing down to the money god, the materialism god? Who are you bowing down to? I’m just too busy. I’ve said it before.
Here’s another one—I love this one—this church doesn’t need me. Fellowship Church doesn’t need me. Let me talk to you about the first reason we give this excuse. The evil one lies to us. The evil one says, “Oh, man, you can’t be used at Fellowship Church. Do you realize what you did? Man, you can never be used. Stay down there flat on your face. You’ve committed sins, and that sin will keep you from ever being used in the church.” Just call him a liar. The only person who brings up the past is the evil one. It’s not you. Just call him a liar. It’s not true. We serve a God of forgiveness, a God of grace; and He wants to take people who have messed, and He wants to use us on His field.
Now, another reason we say, “This church doesn’t need me,” is because we think the church is so big that it really doesn’t need a lot of people. One of the things about a big church is that it’s good that you can remain anonymous for a while and kind of check it out. Also, though, a lot of people are hiding out there. “Ed, I’ll just go ahead and get a McMessage and McMeal for my kids and McChild Care and then I’m out of here, baby.” You can slither around in the shadows for years and years and never do a thing, never get involved.
Remember when I turned around and around and said that I could land on any ministry, and we need you. Our church has more than doubled in the past two years. We need hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of you to get involved. You, that’s right, you. You were wired for this moment. Leave the stands. Hit the field.
Here’s another excuse: I just don’t know enough. I just really don’t know enough. You know, God has given me a gift to teach, to speak. What if, years ago when I first started speaking, I’d have said, “Well, I’ve got this gift, but I’m just going to ride the bench, God, like I did at Florida State University all of those years. I just don’t know enough, God, so I’ll sit back and sip my Starbucks. That’s just me because, you know, I don’t know enough. Yeah, I’ve got this gift, but….”
If I’d have said that, I would have missed God using my voice box to bless people, to teach people. I mean, I still don’t know enough. And you’re the same way. We’ll teach you the stuff. Don’t worry about that. “Well, I don’t know the Bible.” It does not take a spiritual giant to serve in the parking ministry or the greeting ministry or the usher ministry or the athletics ministry. We need thousands in just those ministries. Now, in other ministries it does, but we’ll teach you the stuff.
We’re here to equip you because the pastors are the administers and you folks are the ministers. We simply take the ball of ministry and give it to you. We take care of the maintenance, and you take care of the ministry. We say, “You minister, you score touchdowns, you make tackles, you do the stuff, and we’ll take care of the rest.” That’s the deal. That’s the biblical model. [Baby crying in audience] I feel the same way. See, we need more workers in the preschool, right now, in the nursery.
I do, though, want to give you a couple of quick perks of why you should involve yourself. You know, God does not have to say, “Well, here are the benefits, here are the perks, here are the blessings,” because God is God and He doesn’t have to, but He did. Isn’t this cool. God said, “Okay, here’s what’s going to happen. Here’s the good stuff that will happen right now once you say, “Okay, I’m going to get up off my rear, and get it in gear on the playing field. I’m going to do what Owen Goff did. I’m going to play.”
Okay, here’s what will happen. Here’s what will happen. I’ve jotted these down in my Bible. First, we can touch eternity. No other entity can touch eternity like the local church. It’s a heaven and a hell deal for many people. I know some of you—because you’re involved, and we have so many involved at Fellowship Church—I know so many of you will be walking on the streets of heaven, using your skill set in an even greater way. And you’ll bump into someone, and this someone will say, “Hey, thank you for serving in the parking ministry. Because you loved me, because you spoke to me, because you said, ‘Hey, can I help you’, you paved the way for the seed of the word of God to be delivered into my life. And I became a Christian because of you.” Others here will bump into others and say, “Because you kept my child in the nursery area, it gave me the comfort and the confidence to hear the truth presented by a teacher at Fellowship Church. And now I am a Christian.” “Hey, because you invited me to play on that sports team, I saw the difference that Christ made; and because I saw that, I received Christ.” The stakes are sky high. We’re not playing Monopoly here, Trivial Pursuit, Tidily Winks. We’re talking heaven or hell.
And let me thank you for something else. I just want to stop here and thank you. Fellowship Church is without a doubt the most unselfish and positive church I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m amazed by your unselfishness and your positive attitude. I relate it back to the word “fellowship.” As I’ve said before, it’s a bunch of fellows, men and women, rowing the ship. That’s fellowship. We’re so busy rowing, we’re so busy in ministry, that we don’t have enough time to rock the boat or whine or complain. So if you’re looking for a place—if you’re not a member here—to whine and complain and to backstab and to get negative, join another church that’s into backstabbing and negativity. We need your seat. We need you seat.
So, we can touch eternity. Also, this: we can live out true and lasting joy. I touched on it earlier. We can live out the joy of our salvation. As we get involved, as we’re blessed, we will grow and mature the greatest. People ask me all the time, “Ed, how can I grow the most?” Well, you’ve got to study the Bible. You’ve got to know the Bible. That’s part of it. But the most important part is getting involved. That’s why Jesus said, “Don’t just talk it, do it.” Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. That’s why the half-brother of Jesus said, “Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.” We’re talking about A-C-T (clap, clap, clap) I-O-N (clap, clap, clap). Action, action, God wants action.
I could close down right now; and we could do a little prayer, take a little offering, sing a little song, do some announcements, and then we could just cruise. But this message is going to end early; it’s only like noon on my watch. I ended early for a reason. This is going to be an interactive message. You know, everything these days is interactive. Take out your worship guide, and then take out an insert that says Game Day.
Here’s what I want you to do. Listen very, very carefully. If you are not involved in a ministry here, if you are not involved in a ministry here, it’s your time to fill this out. I can’t force you. You just have to do it. But prayerfully, based on this teaching, you will fill it out. Just write out your name, telephone number, how much you bench press, your 40-yard dash time, all that stuff. Write that down—I’m kidding about that—and just read through an area of ministry that resonates with you. Maybe it’s music, drama, technical. Maybe it’s Fellowship Bookstore. Maybe it’s Connection Classes. Maybe it’s Building Services. Maybe it’s Missions. I don’t know. I don’t know. Just check it off.
Now, after you’ve filled it out and checked off the appropriate box, just hold it. Do not put it in the offering plate when it’s passed in a couple of moments. Do not, I repeat, do not. Just hold it. Just hold it. We’ll take the offering, and during the offering we’ll sing, and then I’ll come back to two closing announcements. Now, after those announcements, you take your card—again, if you are not involved in a ministry here—you take your card, and you can wave it if you want to, and walk out into the atrium. We have all these booths out there advertising and showcasing our ministries. So, you say, “Okay, Wild Side—that’s the junior high ministry, I’ll pray for you there—I want to involve myself in the junior high ministry. So you find the Wild Side booth, and just walk up and say, “Here you go.” And they’ll say, “Thank you very much.” And then over the next 24 hours, we’ll contact you, we’ll email you, we’ll call you and tell you how to get involved.
Every ministry is like that. We have had hunks of people leave the stands and hit the field. Many of you need to do the same thing. That’s after the service. We’ll give you the time to do it. Repeat this word with me when I say, “One, two, three,” and the word will be “ministry.” Repeat this word on the count of three: one, two, three…MINISTRY. You can’t say the word “ministry” without saying the word “try,” because “try” is at the end of the word “ministry.” When you try, you’ll have game.