Craig Groeschel - When It's Time to Throw a Punch
I wonder how many of you are ready to attack not only a new year but a new decade in all of our churches today? A few of you, good. I also wonder, is there anybody who would like to hear one of the most controversial parenting moments in my parenting career? You, I'll tell you. I'm not gonna tell you this, so this is not your example, this isn't necessarily what you should do if faced with a similar situation. This will be debated for decades to come amongst the Groeschel families whether I was honoring God or if I was sinning in a massive way. But I'll just tell you kind of what happened.
My bride and best friend Amy is with me again in this service this weekend. Together, we created six kids. That is a basketball team with a sub. We have four daughters, we have two sons. Stephen's my youngest son, Sam is my oldest. Whenever Sam was a little kid about this big, I don't remember the exact age, small enough to play in the little playlands at a fast food restaurant where they have slides and little tunnels to crawl through and such.
Well, Sam was in there playing very innocently, when a bigger kid that looked like he was maybe two years older or so came up to Sam, unprovoked for no reason, and just laid into him, pushed him as hard as he could in the chest, and Sam just fell backwards, blindsided, looked up at me, feelings hurt, embarrassed, as if to question, Dad, can I defend myself? And I looked back at Sam and I just kinda gave him this little nod, no, just lay low, just be cool. And he kind of just said okay, and he was obedient, and this kid came up a second time and laid into Sam, pushed him harder than you can imagine, right in the chest, and he fell back down, looked back up at me with this just raw intensity and kinda like, can I, dad?
And I said, "Walk away, just walk away". And so Sam, obviously wanting to defend his honor, obediently turned his back and started walking away, and the third time, the kid came up and just laid into him, pushed him from the back, Sam fell on his face. This time, the tears were coming out. He looked at me as if for permission, and I just nodded and said, "Take him". Take him. I'm not sure if God is pleased. I'm not sure if God is disappointed, but Sam, obediently, put his shoulder down, laid into this kid, lifted him off the ground, power slammed him on the ground and started issuing the judgment of God upon this bully.
Knowing, as a man of God, as a follower of Jesus, and as a pastor, it would be the right thing to do for me to break up the fight, so I took a moment to pray and ask God for wisdom as to when exactly I should step in. And once I listened, quietly, for the still small voice of God, he prompted me to walk slowly over and physically remove my son from this bully. Again, that's not the model, it's just kind of what happened.
It is a new year. Whoo! And it is a new decade. And I'm hoping, sensing, and maybe even believing that there are some of you that are getting sick and tired of being pushed around. I'm guessing there are some of you that sense it's time for you to fight back, that there is a battle for you to win. Maybe it's a habit that you need to break, maybe it's a relationship that you need to attempt to mend, maybe it's debt that you need to eliminate, maybe it's a discipline that you need to start, maybe it's a temptation that you continue to give in to and it's time, with the help of Jesus to conquer.
Today, we are starting a message series called Warrior. And I'm wondering if there are any warriors anywhere in the house today? It's okay to grunt. It's okay to give a little roar. It's okay to roar. This is not Planet Fitness, a competition free zone where you're not allowed to grunt or drop your weights in an aggressive manner on the ground. You can slam those things down all you want right here. I'm talking to some warriors. I wanna be really really clear about my motivation.
Over the next four weeks, I'm going to talk a little bit more specifically to the men because I feel like I'm more qualified to talk to the men, and because honestly, gentlemen, every now and then, we just need a kick in the you know where. I'm gonna talk a little more directly to the men. But at the same time, I wanna say to the ladies, I will not leave you out at all, and I want to acknowledge very, very clearly that some of the fiercest warriors I know are female warriors. You wanna see someone with faith to push back the powers of darkness, when my bride prays, the devil flees and heaven opens up. You wanna see anyone who's got some fight in 'em?
Let me just give you some advice. Do not ever, under any circumstances, mess with a mama bear. Ladies, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I celebrate you as warriors, I embrace you as warriors. I am going to talk a little more specifically to the men because I believe there's a lot of confusion in today's culture on what it means to be a man. Are we supposed to be powerful, or are we supposed to be gentle? Are we supposed to be strong or are we supposed to be weak?
In fact, even when you look at Jesus, when I was growing up, the church kind of portrayed Jesus just as a meek and mild, poor Galilean that was good with sheep and kids. And yes, he was full of love, and he is full of mercy, and he is full of grace, and yet, at the very same time, in the same body, is the fiercest spiritual warrior who has ever lived. Gentlemen, I believe that our God has created you with the heart of a warrior. And I want to look at the nature of God, and I wanna look at the person of Jesus to lay a foundation, and then we're going to look at three callings that every warrior must embrace.
Let's talk about the nature of God. What I love about God, among so many things, there are so many metaphors. You cannot just put God in a box. He's called the shelter, he's called your hiding place, he's called a great fortress, he's called your rock, he's also called a warrior. In fact, the Word of God says, in Exodus, chapter 15, of God, the Lord is a what? Let's say it loud, the Lord is a warrior. The Lord is his name. Even Jesus, who was full of mercy and compassion could put up a spiritual fight.
He said, in Matthew's gospel, chapter 10, verse 34, "Do not suppose I've come to bring peace on earth. I didn't come to bring peace, but I came to bring a sword". In fact, there's this really, really powerful and kind of cocky story of Jesus in Luke's gospel, Luke, chapter four, when Jesus was teaching in Nazareth and the crowd didn't like his message. They thought he was blasphemous or whatever, and so this big mob of angry people charged Jesus and essentially, pushed him to the edge of a cliff and Luke says they were about to push him over the edge of the cliff when all we know is Jesus turned and looked at the crowd. And when he turned, the crowd parted, and he walked through the crowd.
That's cocky. That's cocky. We don't know why the crowd parted. I have some theories. Jesus was a carpenter. I'm guessing on that day he was wearing a sleeveless robe. Boys, I can introduce you to Grace and Truth, but before you experience Grace, you gotta meet Truth. And the crowd parted. I don't know. Maybe it was just the look in his eye, but whatever it was, when a whole crowd was gonna push him off the cliff, when he turned, they said, "Oh, excuse me, sir, you're welcome to go this way". The crowd parted.
And ultimately, Jesus fought and won the most important battle in the history of the world. When Jesus was obedient to God the Father, gave his life on the cross, defeated death, hell, sin, and the grave. He is the greatest warrior of all time. And when this warrior, the Son of God, returns, John had a vision of him while exiled to the Isle of Patmos. It's recorded in Revelation 19, John had the vision of the returning warrior Jesus and said:
I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like a blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh, he has the name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
He is a soon-returning, conquering king, and a warrior who wins every battle that he fights. I don't know about you, but when the guy who was raised from the dead comes back on a white horse in a robe dipped in blood, with a sword coming out of his mouth, I wanna be on that warrior's team. Jesus was full of mercy, full of compassion, and was the greatest warrior who ever lived. Men and women, ladies and men, you're all warriors, and I believe that God has given every warrior three things. I'm gonna talk about those three things today, that God has given every single one of you as a warrior. Someone to protect, a kingdom to advance, and a battle to win. Let's talk about it, warriors.
Number one, God has given every warrior someone to protect. I love the words of Nehemiah, when he was advancing the kingdom, when he was fighting the battle, when he was rebuilding the walls, and the enemies tried to stop the work of God, Sanballat and Tobiah and others hurling insults and even threatening their lives, and Nehemiah had a Braveheart moment where he stands up and he says to everybody, "Don't be afraid of them, your enemies. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes".
I wanna talk to some warriors today, not just men, but men of God until you get up off the sofa, put down the video game, fight for your families, fight for your homes, fight for purity, fight for victory, fight for generosity, fight for righteousness. God has given you someone to protect. You need a little motivation? Read Jesus and watch Liam Neeson. Seriously, read Jesus and watch a Liam Neeson movie, right? Think about him, Liam Neeson. He fought for his family in "Taken 1". He fought for his family in "Taken 2". He fought for his family in "Taken 3". He fought for his family in "The Commuter". He fought for his family in "The Cold Pursuit". This guy needs a new role.
Fight for your families. God has given you someone to protect. And here's what I know about you, gentlemen. You don't have to be some testosterone-infused gym rat. You can be smaller in stature, quiet by nature. If someone breaks in to hurt someone you love, you will fight to the death. It's inside of you. You may be generally timid. Someone comes in to hurt your daughter, you get out of your bed, in your tighty-whities, you will turn a lamp into a weapon and fight to the death because you're a warrior.
There's something in you that will righteously die to protect someone you love. I would say to you warriors, don't just be willing to die for those you love to protect them, be willing to live to protect them. And not just physically, that's second nature. But gentlemen, as warriors, you protect them emotionally. One of the great tragedies of our day and throughout history is that there are so many women who have been abused by the power of men gone wrong. There should never be a woman or a child ever in the presence of a man of God that should feel anything but safe. They should always feel physically and emotionally safe.
Not only will I protect Amy's physical nature, but I wanna protect her heart, meaning, I want her to know that I'll live with integrity, and she doesn't have to worry about me straying into trouble. I want her to feel protected financially. One of the things that women generally value is a sense of financial security. When we don't feel like we have the financial security, there's tension, and so what I want to do is I wanna lead our family to always have a little bit of margin and to provide for her in that way. We'll set the tone, if you'll step in and lead.
I don't wanna just protect physically and just emotionally and just financially, but I wanna protect those around me spiritually. That means we are people of God, we are followers of Christ. We are in church every single week. There has never been, you can ask my kids, ask them. Is there ever a week where a kid wakes up and comes in and says, "Hey, are we going to church this week"? That's not a question. And it's not because I am Pastor Craig. It's because I am follower of Christ Craig. My children want to be in here because we have raised them.
We don't miss a week of LifeKids, because they need the strength of the body of Christ to empower them as little warriors. We don't miss a week of Switch, because we are here to serve others and to be served and strengthened by the body of Christ. If a kid gets a wrong influence, the wrong friend, as a warrior, as a protective father, it's my role to step in and say, "Nah, let's go another way. We're not gonna hang out with these types of people". Gentlemen, you have that right. You should be involved. You owe it to them. You have someone to protect.
I told y'all I've got two sons, I've also got four daughters, three of whom are now married. That only leaves Joy, the baby, and Joy will tell you that I'm crazy about Joy. If you wanna date one of my daughters, they're all drop-dead gorgeous like their mom, they're all beautiful. You wanna date my remaining daughter or any of my daughters, you need to know that the first date's always with me. It is, and it's not a fun date. First one's with me.
You wanna go out with one of my girls? Then we gotta go through a little process. And we do an interview, and no matter how much you prepared, you will not be adequately prepared for what you're going to endure. And you would probably say, aw, I bet your girls hate that, and so do the guys. The guys do dread it. But those who haven't made the cut, I've received thank you notes from all of them saying, "Thank you for helping develop me spiritually". And my daughters, after those meetings, it's the most special time, when they come run to me and they hug me and say, "Daddy, what'd you think? Did you like him? Did you believe in him? Daddy, thank you so much for protecting me. Thank you so much for caring".
This isn't controlling, this is protecting. Gentlemen, it's in you. You're a warrior. God has given you someone to protect. I love what 2 Samuel, chapter 10, verse 12 even says. This is what we're to be. We're to be strong and fight bravely for our people and for the cities of our God. God has given you someone to protect, and he's given you a kingdom to advance. He's given you a ministry to fulfill, a kingdom to advance.
Luke's gospel, chapter nine, verse one. When Jesus had called the 12 together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases. And he sent them out to proclaim what? Say it aloud, he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Gentlemen, you have a kingdom to advance. We're told in Matthew's gospel, Matthew 6:33, that we are to seek first the kingdom of God, not our own kingdom, the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and then everything else will be added unto us.
We're told that when you pray, this is how you pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus said this, he said, "I give you the keys of the kingdom". In other words, what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. You have power, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, you have a kingdom to advance. This is your ministry. This is your contribution. You're called by Jesus, the light of the world. You are a heavenly ambassador. You're the highest ranking diplomat sent by God from heaven to earth to represent the love of God.
God even gave you gifts and talents and passion and would save you by grace, but yet, prepared good works in advance for you to do. Gentlemen, you may be the brightest light in your office. You may be the only spiritual light in your office. You're advancing the kingdom. You may be great at business, be great at business. Conquer, take ground, make money, and give generously. You may be the most generous person at your campus, funding the Bible app, funding new campuses, giving to ministries, helping single moms.
And you may have a heart for teenagers, and so every week, you're at Switch. You may be the only godly warrior example some other teenager ever sees, and you stand in with strength every week, showing this is what it's like to be a man of God. Or your battle may be invisible to most, but not invisible to God. Your battle may be in the closet. You fight on your knees, in your prayer closet, doing warfare, believing by faith, calling angels to protect and pushing back the forces of darkness.
Gentlemen, it's in you, it's hard-wired in you. You've got someone to protect, and you've got a kingdom to advance, you've got a cause worth fighting for. Here's the problem, is if you're not engaged in your cause, if you're not fighting for the right cause, as men, we tend to fight against the wrong things. Some of you, you've been fighting against authority your whole life. Ain't nobody gonna tell me what to do. You stay outta my life, I got this. Fighting against authority, 'cause you're not fighting for your cause.
Some of you, you're fighting against your wife. You're fighting against God. You're fighting against boredom, doing stupid things with the gifts that God gave you. Some of you, you're fighting against the very people who are trying to help you most. What happened? Somewhere along the way, you had a kingdom to advance and you got distracted. You got distracted. You were called to more than sitting on a sofa. You're called to more than being great at golf. You're called to more than just having a nice car and a nice house, you were created for more than that.
Don't get distracted. The problem is, a distracted warrior is always a destructive warrior. Gentlemen, do not abandon your post. Do not abandon your calling. Do not surrender that which you were called to do. God created you with the heart of a warrior, with someone to protect, a kingdom to advance, and also, a battle to win. In fact, David said this of God, in Psalm 144, verse one. He said, "Praise be to the Lord God my rock, who trains my hands for battle, and my fingers for war". Even my God, I have a heart for him, he trains me to be ready for battle. He trains my hands and my fingers for war.
Gentlemen, remember, ladies, remember. Christianity is not a playground. It is a battleground. And we battle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of this dark world. There's fight in you. Just let it come to life. The problem is, some of you right now, I hope that it is, you recognize, I'm called to it, there's more in me, I'm not gonna sell out, I'm not gonna sit back, I will engage in the battle. The problem is, so often, you realize, there's someone to protect, a kingdom to advance, a battle to win, and all of the sudden you say, I'm ready to slay the dragon. And then you remember, my car needs an oil change. I'm ready to vanquish the enemy. Oh, my gosh, what did I do? The credit card came due from my Christmas gift, I'm dead.
And so often, what you feel in your heart and desire in your soul is so much different than what you see day to day. How do you, as a warrior, step into your mission, pleasing your heavenly commander, living for his purposes, to glorify his name? Protecting those you love, advancing the kingdom, and winning the battle that is before you. How do you do this? Let me give you two statements, and I hope these are very clear, that they empower you, that they motivate you, that they equip you and strengthen you to do his will. I hope that you'll understand that victory isn't always what you conquer later, but victory is being faithful and obedient today.
I wanna say it again. You don't win, it's not the moment of victory when you finally throw the stone and take the giant down. David was victorious when he showed up and served the brothers with crackers and cheese before the battle. Victory isn't just what you conquer in the future. True victory is honoring God, being faithful and obedient today. Think about Jesus. The greatest warrior of all time. He wasn't just victorious when he gave his life on the cross and God raised him from the dead. He was also victorious after he'd fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and the devil came out and three different times tried to take him away from the will of God.
The first time, the devil said, "Hey, I know you're hungry. You've got power, turn these stones into bread". And Jesus drew the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and fought back and said, "No, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone", and he was victorious in that moment. Then the devil said, "Hey, what if you jump off the cliff? If you jump off this cliff, God will give his angels charge over you". And Jesus drew the sword again and said, "No, it is written, thou shall not put the Lord your God to test". And he was victorious in that moment. A third time, the devil said, "Hey, "look at all the riches. I'll give you all power, all glory, and all riches, if you just bow down and worship me". And Jesus said, "Away from me, Satan. It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him alone", and Jesus was victorious in that moment.
Victory is not what you accomplish somewhere later in the future, it's when your faithful and obedient today. Jesus was victorious when he protected a broken woman from an angry mob and wanted to stone her. He was victorious on that day. He was victorious when he walked into the temple. And it was being misused, and he overturned the tables and said, "You don't take my Father's house, a place meant for worship, and use it for your own selfish gain". You see, gentlemen, sometimes you turn a cheek, and sometimes you turn a table. There is a time that's right to throw a punch.
In the garden, Jesus knelt down and prayed, "Father, may this cup be removed from me". And every demonic voice from hell said, "Don't go through with it, Jesus". And Jesus was victorious when he said, "Yet not my will, but your will be done". Jesus stripped naked, hanging on the cross, taking abuse, people spitting on him, dying slowly, and he was victorious when he did not retaliate. He could've called down legions of angels, but instead, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, please, have mercy on them. Forgive them, they don't even know what they're doing". And Jesus was victorious when he said, "It's finished".
In other words, every day, every moment, I was faithful and obedient. Not just in the moment where he gave his life, but in every day, ordinary days, he was faithful and obedient. And then he said, "Into your hands I commit my spirit". And he gave his life. God raised him from the dead, and he was victorious on that day because he was faithful to his assignment that day.
What's your battle? Like seriously. What's the battle that you gotta fight and win? I want you to name one. Not two, not three, that's too many. One. And with the help of the power of God, you will win that battle today. What's your heavenly assignment? Someone to protect, a kingdom to advance, engage in ministry, a battle to win. What's your battle? Name it. Defeat it. Some of you, it's time to take care of your body. It's your battle. Listen, the power of the risen Christ in you is stronger than what's on the other side of that fork.
Come on, somebody. I got a buddy, he said that he goes, "Man, if your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, I'm living in a megachurch". I thought that was funny. Like, come on, right? For some of you that's it. Let's go, let's go. Let's get in shape, let's take care of our bodies. Let's be there for our families. Some of you, it's a debt to eliminate. Come on, men. You wanna hurt like this three years from now? Five years from now? 10 years from now, still in debt? Still worried all the time? Do something about it. Come on, you got a brain. You got a NO button. No, we're not buying that.
Declare war. Take it down. Be financially free. The spirit of generosity. Some of you, you've been passive spiritually. Playing those video games. Pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew. Get in a real battle, man. Out there working, hey, good to have these nice things, nice things, nice things, nice things, while your family's struggling spiritually. Lead, man. Lead 'em. Take 'em somewhere. It's in you, it's in you, it's in you, it's in you, you're the heart of the warrior. Do something about it.
Some of you, you've been getting crushed in a very private, lust-filled battle, looking at fake images and videos for years, robbing you of what you really want, true intimacy. Stripping you of something you haven't had in years, spiritual confidence to walk in strong. I am a man of God. I am a warrior. Listen, you don't win years later when you conquer. You win today, today. You don't win six months from now when you drop 30 pounds. You win when you look at that piece of cake and say, "Get thee behind me, chocolate cake, in the name of Jesus", today.
You don't win when you pay off your credit card and your second credit card and your third credit card and your car payment and your other car payment and your student loan payment and your second mortgage and your first mortgage, ah, 23 years from now you win. No, you win when you live beneath your means today and then put a little bit extra toward that debt today. It's a step forward, you win today. You don't become some spiritual giant when you memorize three books of the Bible, oh, listen to me quote God's Word. You win when you open up the YouVersion Bible app and you get in God's Word, and your streak says one because you did it today. And tomorrow it says two, and the next day it says three, because you're growing in God's Word today.
You don't win whenever you can say, I haven't looked at porn for three years. You win when you confess your sins to someone today and say, I've been trapped for a long time, and I don't wanna be trapped a moment longer. You win today. What I know about many of you is you've never had an example of a godly warrior. There's never been a man close to you who's really fought for righteousness and had honor and deep and lasting integrity. For some of you, the men in your life, your examples, the warriors in your life, they were on one of two extremes. Some of 'em were incredibly passive, disengaged emotionally, uninvolved, weak, weak spiritually. On the other side, some of you, all you saw was anger and abuse. Neither one of those would be a godly warrior.
Some of you, you've never had a man that you respect tell you, you're now a man. You're not just a man, you can be a man of God. You've never heard someone tell you you were a warrior, and for whatever it's worth, I want you to hear this, not as if it's me speaking to you, but as if it's God speaking into you. Gentlemen, if you're in Christ, you have what it takes. You have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwelling within you. You have the heart of a warrior. You've got spiritual weapons with which to wage war against the forces of darkness. You have the power of God's living word.
Joel says this, may this be your cry, may you respond to the heart of God when Joel said this. He says, "Say to the nations far and wide, 'Get ready for war. Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Get together in the valley.' And now, O Lord, call out your warriors".
Listen to me, when darkness pushes back, you step in and you fight. Sometimes you turn a cheek, other times you turn the table. It may be time to throw a punch. You've got the power of prayer, the power of your testimony, the power of the Spirit of God. You look at the enemy and say, "Take your hands off my family, take your hands off my finances, take your hands off my future, take your hands off my witness".
If the men in your life were characterized by lying or cheating or passivity or lust, you just declare, it stops with me, and it stops today. My God has given me the heart of a warrior. Sometimes, it's time to throw a punch, and I believe, by faith, there's somebody here tired of getting pushed around. With the power of Christ, you will fight back.
Father, we ask that you would raise up some warriors, men and women, with someone to protect, a kingdom to advance, and a battle to win.
At all of our churches, those who say, there is a battle, I can name it, I know what it is, and I need the power of God to help me win this battle. You know what your battle is. Lift up your hands right now, just lift them up. All of our churches, lift them up, lift them up right now.
Father, give us strength, by the power of the risen Christ, to vanquish the enemy and to win the battles before us. We thank you, God, that victory isn't just what we accomplish in the future, but victory is being faithful and obedient today.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, I want you to know, there's a battle going on for some of you right now, a spiritual battle. The forces of darkness versus the forces of light. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God who was without sin, who died on a cross in our place, and God raised him from the dead, why? Because anyone, and this includes you, doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter what you've done, anyone who calls on the name of Jesus would be saved.
All of our churches, which side are you on? Either you're for God or if you're not for him, you're against him. Which side are you on? Are you ready to do battle? Are you ready to engage? Are you ready to get in the war? Because Jesus gave his life, not only so you could be saved from your sins, but so you could be saved for your mission with a kingdom to advance and a person to protect, and a battle to win. At all of our churches, those of you who would say, I need his forgiveness, I need his grace, I want to live out his purpose today, I turn from my past, I turn from my sins, I turn toward Jesus, I give him my life.
At all of our churches, those who say, yes, I need him, I need his power, I need his strength, I need his mercy, I need his grace, I turn from my sins, I call on Jesus today, today I give my life to him. If that's your prayer, lift your hands high now, all over the place and say, yes. Up here, and right back here in the middle section. And others, if you today say yes, right back over here, and over here on this side, right here as well, praise God for you. Up here, come on church, do we have any warriors who wanna give God some praise today? Others of you, right back up here in this section, saying yes to Jesus. Church Online, you click right below me. I would love it if some warriors, men and women, would stand to your feet and agree with me in prayer. Would you stand, all around the auditoriums today, and join those around you in prayer.
Heavenly Father, forgive all my sins. Jesus, save me and make me new. Help me engage in the battle to push back the darkness and to glorify you in all that I do. My life is not my own, I give it to you. In Jesus' name, I pray.