Like an Eagle
May 6, 2012
One of the most important aspects of a successful life is knowing where to go.
To know where we are going, though, we must have a clear vision of what is ahead.
In this message, Ed Young gives us an in-depth look at a powerful verse of Scripture and helps us discover just how to embrace and protect a godly vision for our lives.
I want to welcome everybody here at Fellowship Church. We’re one church in many different locations. I want to say hi to our friends in Miami, down in South Florida. Also, Downtown Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth, all of our online folks. How are you guys doing? We’ve been seen in over 40 countries online, so right now, we’re being viewed by a lot of different people in a lot of different places. Now, our online campus does not give you an excuse to miss. It means if you’re traveling you can participate online.
Well, today we’re on our series called WILD. The Bible talks a lot about wild stuff. God is our creative creator and he has created creatures. He talks about creatures in Scriptures as illustrations, as metaphors that we can learn from. Well, today we’re gonna look at one of the most majestic creatures on the planet. Let’s bring out the Bald Eagle! We have a female Bald Eagle, handled by Kelly Raynor and this is a wild bird that will be returned to the wild kingdom very, very shortly. Is she gorgeous or what? Unbelievable!
Eagles are just crazy, they really, really are. They build nests that sometimes weigh over a ton. They construct these nests with sharp sticks and then they line the nest with materials that are soft, like their feathers, moss, and grass. Then when the eaglets are hatched, as they mature, they take away the soft materials so the nest actually makes them uncomfortable, uncomfortable enough to fly. An eagle has great eyesight. They can see a 12-inch fish leaping in a lake five miles away. They have eight times more visual cells per cubic centimeter in their eyes than we do in ours. An eagle is a beautiful bird, a great bird. That’s why God compares you and me to an eagle. Isn’t that cool?
God says, in no uncertain terms, we’re eagles. We can become eagles. Time is slipping into the future. Steve Miller was right. We have an opportunity to fly like an eagle and today, we’re gonna learn how to fly. We’re gonna learn how to fly in our relationships. We’re gonna learn how to fly in our marriage. We’re gonna learn how to fly in our career. We’re gonna learn how to fly in our finances because the Bible has a lot to say about soaring and flying like an eagle.
Kelly, thank you so much for bringing the eagle to us. Now she’s gonna go backstage and we’re gonna have the first-ever eagle-cam. That’s right, an eagle-cam. So while I’m talking you’re gonna see this eagle. And this eagle has told me already she really enjoys Fellowship Church a lot. She said that, so I’m very, very excited about it.
That’s right. We’re all eagles. So turn to your neighbor and say, “You’re an eagle.” That’s right. An eagle. Eagles soar, they don’t just fly. Yeah, they do some fluttering and some flapping. They use, though, the winds and the air to soar. Eagles have been seen flying at 10,000 feet. When a storm is coming their way, they fly to a very high spot, use the winds to propel them above the storm. They have a unique perspective. They don’t see just a little postage stamp, no, no. They see the whole scene, the whole picture. That’s the kind of vision that God wants us to have, because we are eagles.
In Isaiah 40:31, the prophet tells us, “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” Now that is something else. That’s a stunning verse from Scripture. “…But those who wait upon God…” See the word ‘wait?’ It means to expect. It means to take something weak and wrap it around something strong. Think about your faith and mine. Jesus said if you have the faith of a mustard seed, that’s enough faith to enter into a personal relationship with him.
So often our faith seems like a thread, yet the Bible says we can wrap our thread around God’s cable. The Bible says also that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. That is what is there for us as we engage the eagle in us that only comes from God, himself. Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. This word ‘fresh’ means to exchange.
Think again about the eagle. The eagle molts. It exchanges old feathers for new feathers, and the new feathers are for a new season. When we wait upon God, when we get fresh strength, we have an exchange taking place. We have new feathers for a new season. God is preparing you right now for a new season, a new season in every slice of your life. You’re an eagle, you’re an eagle. You can soar. I can soar. They spread their wings and soar, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
Do you realize that an eagle, the older he gets, becomes stronger and stronger and stronger? And that’s the way it is as we walk with God. We can get stronger and stronger. What am I saying? I’m saying simply this. The eagle is all about vision.
Vision means to make out what most people miss. Eagles make out what most birds miss. A vulture is a bird that pretty much eats road kill. They feed on dead stuff, dying stuff. Let’s be honest. We live in a culture of the vulture. <bird cry sound effect> Are you a vulture? <sound effect>… or an eagle? An eagle, on the other hand, soars. An eagle sees the whole picture, the whole situation. An eagle has this perspective like no other bird.
I don’t know about you but sometimes in life I meet people and I say oh, I’m talking to an eagle. I am talking to an eagle. After a while, though, <sound effect> I’m like… I’m talking to a vulture! This vulture is all about road kill. This vulture is all about feeding on dead things. The eye of an eagle is formulated to look forward. God wants you and me to look forward. Obviously the eagle can see a little bit in the rear-view mirror. We have to remember the things that God has done. So often we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget. However, as we walk with God it’s all about soaring, it’s all about flying, it’s all about moving. Yet, somewhere along life’s journey the culture of the vulture clips our wings. They tie our talons. They cage us and ground us. Instead of soaring we’re standing. Instead of really flying we just spend our lives fluttering. Time is slipping into the future. And it’s time that we fly like eagles. Are you an eagle? Or are you a vulture?
The Bible gives us the great account of some people who were fighting this fight, the eagles against the vulture and the vultures against the eagles. If you have your Bible turn to the book of Numbers, chapter 13. Let me set the stage for you. In the development of God’s people we understand that God’s people, the Israelites, were in Egyptian slavery for hundreds of years. God picked a leader, Moses, to free them up out of Egyptian slavery. When God has a plan, he picks a man… or a woman. Always. It’s singular. He deposits his vision on someone. Then that vision is spread.
Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. God did all of this supernatural stuff, parted waters, fed them from Heaven, it was just crazy what God did! Amazing stuff! And the people saw it, the people saw life change and it was just a great, great thing. God told them about attractive land, the Promised Land. And the Bible calls this the land flowing with milk and honey. God said, “The land is yours. You get it.” God said, “Read my lips. The land is yours… it’s yours. You, though, are gonna have to claim the land.”
God always gives us, I’m talking about eagles, a tract of land, a tract to attack. He always gives us land to claim, a tract to attack. Living for the Lord is adventuresome, it’s exciting. We step out, we claim what God has given us. So one would think God’s people would have gone, “Oh man! This is absolutely off the chain! All we gotta do is claim the land, it’s the land of milk and honey, it’s a tract to attack. Yeah, it’s inhabited by some pretty big people but God has given it to us. We’re gonna have to fight but it’s our land. We can do it. I mean, look what God has done.” Look in the future, you would think, I mean, God’s people, right? They’re soaring. They have their perspective. You would think everything would happen great. Well, God says,
“Moses, I tell you what I want you to do. I want you to pick 12 heavy hitters from all of the tribes and I want these guys to do some recon on the land that I have given you.” So, sure enough, these 12 “spies,” the Bible calls them in the book of Numbers, chapter 13, they went out and checked out the land. They were there for 40 days. They returned back and you know, because at this point one would have thought that the entire nation of Israel were a bunch of eagles. One would think that everybody would be, like, chest-bumping and high-fiving them as the 12 spies came back to report on the land that God had given them. On the tract that God wanted them to attack. I’m sure the band was like… “bom-bom-bom…bom-bom…bom-bom-bom…bom-bom… the spies are back, the spies are back. That ain’t no jack. Bom-bom…yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” You know they were doing that. So they came back and you’re thinking, OK, I’m gonna hear from some eagles. These people are visionary. These people make out what others miss.
Numbers 13:7: “They….” Let me stop. They. Say they with me. Who is ‘they’ in your life? Who are ‘they?’ Who are they? They said…. They feel… They have been coming to me. They. Here’s how to mess somebody up. Just say, “Who are ‘they?’”
“Uh… they… they?”
“Those? Whose?” And ‘they’ is usually one or two negative people. Don’t waste your time chasing down the ‘they.’ Are you hanging out with the right they, the eagles who are tough, honest, encouraging, and yielded to God? Or are you hanging out with the wrong they? The <bird sound effect> vultures. They.
They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us and it does flow with milk and honey. Here’s its fruit.” They were showing pomegranates, grapes, whatever. People were cheering, chest-bumping, high-fiving, the band was playing. But… look at verse 28. But.
Whenever something says ‘but,’ everything else they say before the ‘but’ really doesn’t matter. But.
“I love you, but…”
“I’m with you, coach, but…”
“I love the team, but…”
“The school is awesome, but…”
“This church is great, but….”
But… but… but… but… but… <bird sound effect> You’re dealing with a vulture!
“… but the people who live there are powerful.” Well, I mean, great. God said the land is ours, we’re gonna have to open up a can and clear it out. So now you’re talking about the people are powerful? Tell me something we DON’T know. Ten of the 12 spies, not all 12, 10 of the 12 spies become vultures. Again, have you ever met somebody and you go, oh, they’re an eagle. They’re soaring. But as you get to know them you’re like, wow. Always talking about ‘but.’
And this is a sign. If you know someone in your life who is always like… blah-blah-blah… but. Blah-blah-blah… but. blah-blah-blah… but. Blah-blah-blah… but. blah-blah-blah… however. Blah-blah-blah… moreover. blah-blah-blah… but. Blah-blah-blah… but. It could be that you are dealing with a <bird effect> vulture.
But I love this. Ten of the 12 spies were going negative, they were vultures. But what happened? Caleb and Joshua, two of the 12 spies, two of the eagles… how do you know when you’re dealing with an eagle? When the rogue winds hit, when the storms strike, they fly to a high place, they get God’s perspective. And they use the wind to fly over the vultures. And they’re like,
“What are you guys smoking and toking? What?” Check him out, verse 30. “Caleb interrupted.” How do you know if you’re an eagle? When vultures start going negative, when vultures start texting or twittering or littering or blogging or bragging, you interrupt. Eagles say, “Hey, now, that’s fine. But here’s what God said. Here is what I know. Here is where I’m flying.” So Joshua and Caleb interrupted. They call for silence. “Upt! Pssh! Shh!!” and they said, “Let’s go and take the land. We can do it!”
See, Nike ripped off that last statement from God. If God wanted to he could file a multibillion dollar law suit against Nike.
“We can do it! God’s given it to us. I’m an eagle, we’re eagles! We have this perspective, I mean, we can do it!” Yet the culture of the vulture is so powerful, so sinister, so violent, so passive aggressive. Verse 31, “We can’t attack those people.” How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? “But.” How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? “We can’t.” <bird effect> “We can’t. No, we just can’t. We can’t. We just can’t. We can’t do that. We can’t try that. We can’t go there. We can’t travel there. We can’t build that. We can’t start that church. We can’t start that company. We can’t. We can’t tithe. We can’t get involved. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t.” <sound effect.>
“We can’t attack those people, they’re stronger than we are.” Look at verse 32. “They spread among the Israelites a bad report.” You know what I love about our church? Vultures don’t last very long at Fellowship Church. Vultures don’t last very long at Fellowship Church because there’s nothing dead to eat! Everything is living! This is the body of Christ! The living, breathing, body of Christ, full of eagles. Thank you, eagles, for being eagles. Thank you, eagles, for soaring. Thank you, eagles, for flying. Thank you, eagles, for seeing only as God sees. Thank you, eagles, for making out what others miss.
You know I read this, too, about vultures and I couldn’t believe it. I said this in our earlier services and people thought I was just joking. This is a fact. Vultures, when they are roosting or resting in trees, when there’s more than one, they’re called a committee of vultures. How do you know? How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? “Let’s form a committee.” <sound effect> Because usually the majority is wrong. <rewind sound effect> Usually the majority is wrong. <rewind sound effect> Usually the majority is wrong. But, see, it sounds so sexy, so American, so cool, so politically correct to say, “Well the majority is right.” But the majority is usually wrong.
Leaders take people not where they want to go, where they need to go. And as an eagle you’ll feel lonely. As an eagle you’ll be like, man, I’m the only one up here! As an eagle, I’m the only Christian on my team… the only Christian at school… the only Christian in my fraternity… the only Christian in my sorority. You’re an eagle.
“I’m the only Christian! I’m the only one. It’s lonely up here.” Sometimes it is. But the Bible promises me our strength is found in God. We can take our thread, wrap it around his cable. Our new feathers are for new seasons and we’ll fly like we’ve never seen and have victory and a perspective like no one can have but the eagle.
“They spread among the Israelites a bad report. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron.” If you’re not leading you’re not hurting. If you’re not hurting you’re not leading. Leading is not easy. Leadership.
And speaking of the majority, we’ve only done one survey in the history of Fellowship Church, only one survey. Back in the day we had 700 people and we did all these scientific tests, and we asked people, “What do you want in a church?” I thought that’d be cool. When we read the report I just started laughing. I go,
“We’re doing the exact opposite of what the people want! Wow!” So, leaders take people not where they want to go, where they need to go. If we had stopped there and changed we would have 700 people instead of 20-something thousand people. So I’m here to tell you, the majority is usually wrong.
We want comfort. I do. I want to hang out in the nest, keep the nest soft. Keep the grass in there, keep the feathers in there. I want to chill, give me a Perrier with a little umbrella in it and massage my feet! That’s what I want. But God takes out the material. God takes out the comfortable stuff. God uses those sticks to prick us and to motivate us and to stimulate us to do what? Fly. We can fly like eagles!
So this culture of the vulture can spread very, very rapidly. How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? ‘They.’ How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? ‘Can’t.’ How do you know if you’re talking to a vulture? It’s always negative. They spread a bad report, just negative, everything is bad. And then they grumble and they use ‘they’ all the time.
So Numbers 14:2, “All the Israelites grumbled and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt…’” They wanted to go back to slavery? Go back to the whip and chain? What? Look at verse 4: “And they (again) said to each other, ‘We should choose (committee)… we should choose (what does everybody else think?)… we should choose a maintainer. Not a leader, a maintainer to go back to Egypt.’” Their worst fear was what?
“Oh no! We might die in the wilderness! What if we don’t claim the Promised Land? You know that scenario sickness. What if we die in the wilderness? There’s rattlesnakes here and Gila monsters and the sun… oh what if we die?” God’s patient. He’s forgiving. He’s merciful. God, though, gave them 10 opportunities to repent. They didn’t do it. God has a fuse length. God said, “You know what? You’re not gonna enter my land because you’re a vulture culture. You’re not gonna enter the tract. You’re gonna clock out. You’re gonna die in the wilderness.”
So their worst nightmare became a reality. They died, they became road kill in the wilderness. And don’t you know when they were becoming road kill they were like, “Wow. We could have claimed the land and opened up a can, and we could be in the land of milk and honey right now. But instead, we’re becoming road kill.” And then the Bible says they cried. They felt guilty, “Oh God, we messed up!” <sobbing> Snot dripping out their nose, tears… <more sobbing> And you’re like,
“Man, come on God! I mean, it seems like they’re repenting!” He gave them 10 opportunities. Ten! They weren’t repenting, they were just feeling guilty. There’s a difference in feeling guilty, then Biblical repentance. Repentance is making an about-face. It’s turning the other direction. Yes, we have to feel remorse and regret. We have to be willing, though, to turn from that sin, which they were not willing to do. They died.
Then 40 years later (this should have taken them a couple of weeks), 40 years later the eagles, Joshua and Caleb, soared into the Promised Land. Thank you, church. I want to thank everybody if you’re watching us on television, online, at all of our campuses. Thank you for being eagles.
Let me tell you what’s happening at Fellowship Church. I just had the opportunity several days ago to share in-depth with 200 of our leaders about what’s going on. And so often things are moving so fast here, we’re flying so fast and so high, I forget what’s going on. You want to know what’s going on at Fellowship Church? You wanna realize what’s happening? Yeah, I can tell you do. Thank you. We have something… help me please. We have something at Fellowship Church called C3 Global. C3 Global is a ministry to pastors and leaders around the world. We have a connection, an alliance with churches all over the place. We do whiteboard sessions, leadership training. We help leaders. It’s an organic, holistic approach to pastors and their families.
Did you realize last month that over 500 pastors quit the ministry. Five hundred! Now I come from a pastor’s home and I have a heart for pastors. I believe the church is the hope of the world. The only institution that Jesus built. Do you know why pastors quit?
- Congregational abuse.
- They’re not paid enough.
- They’re priorities get totally out of whack.
So, we have Dr. Claude Thomas, an amazing leader, who is president of C3 Global. We go all over North America and the World to help pastors. That is what’s happening. That’s what is happening at Fellowship Church. We are truly a church without walls.
One of the things that C3 Global is doing is we have provided this past year over 1,000,000 meals in Haiti. One million! And this next year we will be the #1 organization to help the needy, the downtrodden, the destitute in Haiti. I’m talking about a ministry of Fellowship Church.
We also have the C3 conference. It’s one of the amazing leadership conferences in the world. So again, this is a church without walls. We have record attendance and record registrations already. Thank you, because people are talking about you all over the place. We bring in leaders, men and women from all over, everywhere to talk about the church and to talk about the raw and the real when it comes to leadership. So we’re thrilled about this.
Something else that we’ve done recently. Lisa and I wrote a book, called The Sexperiment. It’s been a New York Times bestseller. We have given all the advance and all the royalties go to Fellowship. Don’t clap, it’s just what we want to do. We have a generous church, God’s a generous God. You’re generous people. It starts with the leader and I’m happy, we’re happy, to do this. Usually during the week we travel somewhere around the country teaching people about the beauty of sex, teaching people about the sexual revolution that starts with God. Because we’ve allowed our culture to hijack sex from us. And it’s time that we start it and talk about something God was not shy to create. So churches all over the place are doing the Sexperiment. So be in prayer for our church and what we’re doing.
Furthermore, in our children’s ministry, we have one of the largest children’s ministries in the world. That’s great, that’s fine. We have one of the largest churches in the world. That’s great, that’s fine, but let me tell you where the rubber meets the road. We write our own curriculum for children. It’s Biblically-based, it’s highly creative. Whenever you go somewhere that’s not creative, don’t blame God. God’s a creative genius. Blame the leaders. Our curriculum is used in over 4,000 churches around the world. So every weekend over 4,000 churches are using Elevate curriculum. And that’s over 200,000 kids who were dialed into Elevate. So somebody better clap. Here, we clap for sports teams… that’s what I thought. That’s what I though.
And recently it’s just been translated into French and it’s just been translated into Spanish. We just had a meeting in California with a Spanish organization that has over 40,000 churches, which we are going to partner with to get this curriculum to them and also it will help us with the conferences.
Also, too, within the house, I’m talking about within the house, we have FC Creative. FC Creative. These are volunteers, most are volunteers, 95% are volunteers that help us create everything that we do. <laughter from congregation>
What happened? Why’d you laugh? What happened? Oh the eagle? Yeah, that’s OK. The eagle, she loves it here! She loves it. So, Fellowship Creative. Our Fellowship Creative team has written three albums. One of the albums hit #3 on iTunes. This is from within the church!
Also, too, our campuses. I hope you know this is not our only campus. We have this campus, we have our online campus. We’ve already been seen in over 40 countries. People worshiping with us all over the place. We have a campus in Miami we started 5 years ago with 11 people. This past Easter we had 1,800 people in Miami! Come on, Miami!
Also, our Fort Worth campus we started several years ago, we’re in overflow in the overflow in there. We have like five services. We’ve got to expand in Fort Worth already. I mean, that place is blowing up! We need to expand, it looks like, in Miami. We need to expand in this area, too, with our lobbies, with some seating configuration, with some other updates we need.
Think about our Downtown Dallas campus, amidst the skyscrapers. The growth over the last six months has been ridiculous! Think about Plano! We have over 2,000 people showing up in Plano! And then FellowshipLive.com, of course that’s our online campus, and we have our very own online pastor. So man, that should thrill you! Make sure to visit some of these campuses around. It’s just supernatural! Miami, Fort Worth, Dallas, Plano, and gorgeous Grapevine.
Allaso Ranch. Have you heard about our camp? How many people, how many people have never been to Allaso Ranch? Go ahead and be honest. Oh man. Shame on you! That is, guys I’m telling you something. If you have ever seen a camp better than Allaso Ranch after you go, you come and see me. Because I have never, ever seen one.
I want you to know something. What’s happening at Allaso Ranch is phenomenal. Several years ago we bought 1100 acres from a non-profit organization for $300,000. A pretty good deal, 1100 acres in East Texas for $300,000. Well then, we spent $40 million (before we had the money), $40 million to build this amazing camp. For kids, for adults. Water parks, archery, ropes courses, horseback riding, basketball, fishing, canoeing. It goes on and on and on. The life change out there… the word ‘allaso’ in the original language means ‘life change.’ The life change out there has been spectacular. Absolutely spectacular.
And this year we’re partnering with an organization, just one of the things we’re doing, that helps families of heroes who have been lost on the battlefields in the wars all over our world, and for free, for absolutely free, we’re bringing in the families of these wounded warriors and those who have lost loved ones, men and women, on the battlefields, to give them just a week of retreat. But here’s the deal. At Allaso Ranch we still owe $20 million. It got quiet.
You know what the good news is? We’ve got the money to pay the $20 million off. Yeah, you got the money. We haven’t brought it in yet, but you’ve got the money. Yeah, now clap! That’s what I thought.
So, here’s what’s gonna happen. We’re praying that God would prosper and bless many, many here. And he is. He’s gonna bless some of you financially in a crazy way. You’ll be like, “I’m not that smart. Where’d this money come from?” God blesses people – not everybody – but God blesses some people with money. Why? To fund the church. I mean, let’s be real. If people aren’t blessed financially, how are we gonna move the ball downfield? That’s why the Bible talks about it so much. So it’s exciting. You’ll be hearing more and more about the expansion of Fellowship over the next several months. But I just want to thank you for being an unselfish church. Unselfish people grow great churches.
This past year, let me brag again on Fellowship Church. I’ll just brag. We had a record number of baptisms… record. We baptized over 2,667 people! So the best is yet to be for Fellowship Church.
But I want to give you just a little bit of homework. The drums are playing, my favorite instrument, we’re spurring the horse to the barn. I’m trying to think of an eagle metaphor I can use. Yeah! The eagle is flying to the nest. Here’s what I want you to do.
#1 – I want you to incorporate God’s vision in your life. God’s vision is awesome for every single person here. It’s eagle-like. “God show it to me, reveal it to me!” His word tells us how to do it, how to live it, in every venue and every slice of life. The Bible says where there is no vision, Proverbs 29:18, the people perish. How do they perish? The vultures. The vultures feed on stuff that is dead. Is something dead in your life? God wants to renew it. He wants to restore it. It’s time to grow new feathers, to fly, to soar, to incorporate God’s vision.
Also, too, remember to love the vultures in your life. Maybe you need to fly over some vultures. Maybe you’re dating a vulture. <bird sound effect> Maybe you’ve got a kid and you go, man, this child is kind of acting like a <sound effect> Maybe you work for a <sound effect> I don’t know. “God, give me your perspective, your dream. I want to fly in YOUR framework.” When those storms come, just fly to that high place and allow those winds to take you above it, through it, as you soar and see the tract of land that God wants you to attack. Are you an eagle or a vulture?
Let’s stand together. I know you’ve heard this song many times but we’re gonna sing it and I want it to be your prayer. I want it to be your theme as God takes us to great places. I believe I can fly. We’re eagles, not vultures. A perspective for my marriage, for my relationships, for my church, for my family, for my habits. God we want to fly and soar as you give us the strength to be your people for this generation. We know time is slipping into the future and the time is now! To say God, awaken the eagle in me.