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Dr. Ed Young - Sticking with the Playbook

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    Dr. Ed Young - Sticking with the Playbook

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you. Did your mother or dad ever tell you that? It's a lie. It's an outright lie. Sticks and stones break your bone, but words do bless us, or words do harm us. And it's amazing how we hear words and they affect us positively or negatively. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was an average student, or below. And I was in a history class beginning a new semester, a new year, I was sitting in the back with all the meatheads and those who didn't want to be there, and I had my head down and trying to doze off. I had a new teacher by the name of Mr. West. Now by the time you get to be a sophomore in high school and you've gone to the same school your whole life, all the teachers pretty well have you in a slot, right?

You know, "Here's my D, and F, and here's my C, and here's my B, and here's my A," and they pretty well keep you in that slot for all the subjects when you've been there for a long time. I mean, I was in that slot, and it was the bottom half of everything. But we had a new professor and a new teacher in the sophomore, and he was lecturing on Russia the first 2 days. And then he gave us a homework assignment, he said, "Write a paragraph on Russia, anything you want to write". So because it was the early part of the semester, I did my homework. You know how you start off strong, you all wouldn't identify with that. So I wrote a little paragraph that night, turned it in. A couple of days later he said, "I've read all the paragraphs that you've written on Russia," he said, "would Edwin Young raise his hand".

Oh, my goodness. And I raised my hand, and he said, "Edwin Young, you wrote the best paper". All the nerds and smart people upfront looked back. I was embarrassed with all my meatheads back there too. I didn't belong to anybody. What happened? Best paper, nine letters, two words. Well, I made one of the highest grades in the class in history that particular semester. The next term I continued to do well in history. My junior year, we had a mock election in our high school, and Eisenhower was running against Adlai Stevenson, and the Democrats, Republicans, all the kids voted. Ike was elected, our president, you know, Stevenson lost, but I played Stevenson and read a speech before the student body, and Stevenson was president in my high school. I won a trip to Washington. The history faculty said, "He's the one to go for the Freedom Foundation Award".

I was stunned. I was graduating my high school. In college I majored in history, I became a grader in the history department. I went to seminary graduate school, favorite course is church history. I discovered that the thing that we'd heard is actually true. You learn from history, or you repeat history. That's factual. All started because of "best paper," nine letters, two words. Words can bless. Words can push you down. In junior high school we had little dances in our town in Mississippi, and I was dancing with a girl. I remember her name, Nancy Carter, and she was the only girl in town that I knew of who took ballet. And we were dancing for a little while, and she says, "Edwin, you can't dance, and you'll never learn how to dance".

She was true then, she was true all the way through. And I couldn't dance then, I certainly can't dance now, but I wonder if she had said, "You've got great potential in dance," I wonder if it'd made any difference. Do you think? I don't know. Words bless, words curse. Peterson said that he's always amazed that God wrote his instruction book in words. He said, "Words are ambiguous, words have different shades of meaning, words can be debated about what you're really saying," he said, "why didn't God write in mathematics"? He said, "Mathematics are exacting. There's no wiggle room. It's this, or that, there's never another, but in words there's openness of interpretation". And then he said, "I realize that God didn't write in math because you can't say, 'I love you in algebra.'" Words.

Years ago I was preaching some of the passage in Psalms, and the translation I used is that, "And word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in baskets of silver". In oriental days, when a king would have a banquet, the king, to show off his wealth to all of his guests, would take apples and cover them with gold, and pass them around in silver baskets, and say, "Take a golden apple home with you". They would take their apple home, and boy, it would be a prized possession. And the writer of Psalms says "A word fitly spoken," appropriately spoken, the right time, the right moment, the right enunciation, the right phrase," word fitly spoken is like an apple of gold in baskets of silver". It is, isn't it? The power of words, words, words.

And so, we see this is particularly true in that God gave to us our playbook, which is the Bible, and our life coach would say, "Hey, this is the way you do it. This is the game plan for the abundant life". And we see it clearly in a wonderful passage in 2 Timothy chapter number 3, it says, "All Scripture," the playbook, the Scripture, "is inspired by God and profitable for coaching," for teaching. This is the textbook, God's inherent inspired word. Men were inspired by the Holy Spirit, they wrote this word down over a period of 2,000-plus years, with numerous different authors, with a theme all the way through, which is a trail of blood, which is Jesus Christ. It's amazing, isn't it?

And we take the Bible, the Bible doesn't hide anybody's sin, anybody's problem, and picks it up and tells us a story, with the light of God shining through it, giving us ways of forgiveness, the ways to get out of the entangled mess and have a new life, ways of forgiveness, ways of redemption, ways of being, a fresh new start, relevancy, power, the teaching. The Bible is good for teaching, also it's good for reproof and correction. See it there, same 16th verse. Reproof is knowing right and wrong. Have you trouble knowing what's right and wrong? Your Bible says, this is right, this is wrong. There's not a lot of middle ground there. This is right, this is wrong. That's reproof. It reproofs us, and he corrects us. It's the idea that something is broken and now it is healed.

You know, when I read the Bible, I don't know about you, but inevitably it seems that, how did God know that about me right now? Do you get that same thing I do? That's the Holy Spirit that's taking this book, this teaching, and we're reproofed, "That's not right. This is not wrong. That's wrong. This is right". And we're corrected, "Hey, straighten this out, and I'll heal it, I'll forgive it". And then look at the next word, there's a tremendous word there, this same book for correction is training in righteousness. We're to be trained. This is the picture in an athletic sense, that someone before they get in the game, they lift weights, they have agility drills, they practice, they go over everything they do. Training, and then, finally, look what it says, "It makes us adequate," it says, "equipped for every good work". That's getting in the game. We don't stay in the stands, "Yay, yay, boo, boo, boo".

Oh, we get in the game. Now we're equipped, we're trained, we're ready to play, we're ready to do something, we're ready to get involved. Folks, stretch out, reach out, God's got a dream, a plan, but we have to go through the playbook and understand it. And we go to church not to attend, but to be trained in spiritual truth, to flex our spiritual muscles, to know God and be able to relate him to others. Also, our life coach would tell us, "I'm going to tell you something else about this book". Our life coach would say, "This book is food. Did you know that? It is food". This book nourishes. Look at Matthew 4:4, great, great little passage there. Matthew 4:4, "Jesus said, 'It is written man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

In other words, we don't live just by physical stuff, we live, our food is the book. This is the book that we eat. It's the principles of life. Have you picked up on that, because before we get through our coaching series, I'll make it so simple that you can't miss it. It's the book. It is food for us. "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it," is the passage in Psalms. It says many times, eat this book, in other words, it becomes part and parcel of who we are. And when we eat this book, our appetites are changed. Has anybody ever smoked and stopped smoking? Would you lift your hand triumphantly? Isn't that beautiful? I know what happened. I've never had that experience because I've never smoked, but your taste buds changed didn't they, right? If you really smoke seriously, your taste buds change, and this is what happens here.

You see, we begin to feed on biblical truth, our taste changes. That which we desired, we don't desire anymore. That which we used to do, we don't want to do it. There's a whole new you, a whole new vocabulary, a whole new view on life, that's what happens when we feed on this word. There was a little girl that asked her mom and dad to take her to the shrine of the golden arches. And so, they took her there, and she said, "Oh mama, oh daddy, I want a happy meal". And the mother said, "No, you don't need a happy meal. They're so expensive for that little Barbie car that they give the girls and the dinosaur stamp. You don't need... you just need a regular hamburger. It's much cheaper". She said, "No, I want a happy meal". They said, "No, you can't have it". She said, "Oh, if you give me a happy meal, I'll be contented, I'll be satisfied. I'll never ask for anything else". She said, "If you give me a happy meal, for the rest of my life, I promise you, I'll be happy".

The mom and dad said, "It sounds like a good deal to us," so they bought her the happy meal. She went through her childhood, had some tough times, teenage years, had difficult times, but she was always happy. She never asked for anything else. She married this guy, who was a loser from the get-go, they had three children, he left her, but she was content and happy. She never blinked. Finally, her children, they got old enough. They deserted their mom had nothing to do with it, no communication, but she was content and happy all that time. In her old age, when she was alone, her social security was running out and she had to depend on other people to care for her, but she was contented and happy every day of her life, from the time she ate that happy meal until the time she left this earth. You believe that? Certainly not.

That's how children think: I'll always be contented, I'll always be happy. If I can only have that happy meal with a hamburger, and the dinosaur stamp, and the Barbie car, I'll never want anything else. I'll be happy from now until the end of my life. Children think like that. What about you as an adult? Oh, if I just had that happy meal. Oh, maybe if I get this, oh, this happy, truly I'll be satisfied. I'll be full. Listen, we're satisfied only with the food of God, the manna that we get from him in this book. So our coach would say, "Hey, this book is food. It nourishes you". Also, he'd say, "This book is light. It is light, light that comes to us".

Let's look at that all the way over in Psalm chapter 119, that's that long Psalm that never ends, verse 105. It says, "Your word," playbook, Bible, "is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". In other words, the Bible gives us direction as to how we are, it's a lamp right here. Also, it's a light that gives us direction out there. It's a lamp and a light, and it really is, ladies and gentlemen. That's not just beautiful, figurative words, it's the truth. It tells us how to live now. It tells us about the future as we move out through life. And so, the word is a light, and it lights up any life significance and relevance, and all of a sudden we're dressed in light when this is our food, and we realize this is our guiding light here and all the way through life, all the way into the light of light, which is glory, which is heaven.

And so, the league coach, the life trainer would say, "Hey, this playbook is food. This playbook is light". And also, he would say, "This playbook is a tool. That's interesting. It is a tool". Turn with me, if you would, right over here in Jeremiah chapter number 23, verse 29, it says, "'Is not My word," my playbook, "like fire?' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer which shatters a rock?'" So it's a tool. The Bible is a tool that God uses as a fire in your life and mine. Sometimes this book, as we read, as we study it, it burns up something in you and in me that needs to be eliminated, right? And sometimes it warms us, so fire will destroy, and fire will warm. Sometimes it's a hammer, and a hammer will tear down something, but a hammer will build something.

So this is what our playbook is, it is a tool that God uses, it is a tool that God uses to lead a lot of people to understand and come to know Jesus Christ. It's happened all the way through history. One of my favorite stories came from Zimbabwe. Years ago, a man from the American Bible Society was handing out New Testaments on the street, giving anybody who'd come the New Testament. One guy came up, and said, "I don't want it". He said, "Sure, take it". He said, "No, I don't believe it. I don't want it". He said, "Why don't you take it"? He said, "Well, if I take it, I will just use the pages to roll my tobacco and smoke," he said, "you know, that's all I'd use it for". And the man said, from the Bible Society, "Okay, I'll give you the book. You use the pages from the Bible here to roll your tobacco, but," he said, "before you do it you have to read everything you burn up". And the man said, "I'll do that". So he took the Bible, 15 years went by.

There was a convention in Zimbabwe and men were standing up telling their testimony of Christ, and one man stood up, and said, "Do you see that man sitting right over there"? "Yes". He said, "Fifteen years ago he gave me a Bible on the street," he said, "let me tell you what happened. He gave me that Bible with one condition that as I would tear the pages out and roll my cigarettes, I'd read the page before I'd burn it up". He said, "Let me tell you what happened," he said, "I burned Matthew, I burned Mark, I burned Luke," he said, "I burned John chapter 1, John chapter 2," he said, "I got to John chapter 3, verse 16," he said, "I couldn't burn John 3:16". He said, "I'd read all about the life of Jesus, and I saw it there, 'God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life.'" He said, "At that moment I became a Christian," and he said, "I am a brand-new person from that day to this day because I could not smoke John 3:16".

That's the Bible, ladies and gentlemen, it is food that nourishes us. It's a light that illuminates our path and illuminates us inside out, keeps us well-groomed to live in the 21st century. And also, I can tell you something else we discovered: it is a tool that shapes us, that touches hearts and lives, beginning with mine and yours. And also, we learn one other thing about it, it's also a weapon.

Look with me in Hebrews chapter number 4, verse 12, "For the word of God," playbook, "is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow, able to judge your thoughts and intentions of the heart". It says this Bible comes and divides, and it discerns, and it judges, and it forgives. This is a powerful, powerful book, these words inspired by God, written down by men, which came through the revelation of God to man and to mankind. Oh, what a playbook we've got. It's a weapon.

Years ago I was going from East Berlin to West Berlin when the Brandenburg Gate was... the Berlin Wall was still there. And as you'd go through they'd ask you three questions, they would say, "Do you have any drugs? Do you have a gun? Do you have a Bible"? Those were the three questions they'd ask. Interesting, isn't it? They were afraid of drugs spreading through the people, afraid of guns, might hurt somebody, but the Bible was the deadliest weapon of all, because let the Bible loose in places where God is not believed and Jesus is not honored, there is no telling what will take place. It is a weapon. And so, we see our life coach says, "Hey, you better get in touch, you better get familiar with the textbook". It is a weapon. It will cut things out of your life that need to be cut out of your life, and then you'll be able to... here's the kicker, ladies and gentlemen, you'll be able to have fellowship with one another. Isn't that something?

I love the diversity of this body of Christ. We've got people from all over the world here. We've got people with all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of lifestyles here, and that is magnificent because that's what the body of Christ is supposed to be, so in the process we have to get along with one another. What's the great commandment, first and second commandment? Love God, love people. If you love God, you love people. It's not easy to do, to love people. It's not easy to love those who are in the family of God, it's not easy to do. It really isn't. Years ago my wife, Jo Beth, was reading a book entitled "Irregular People". The subtitle was "How to Live with Irregular People". And I looked at that title, and I said, "Why are you reading that"? And Jo Beth being nice, but I knew.

You see, most of us have the idea that I'm normal and you're not normal, I'm regular and you're irregular, you know? I'm okay but you're not really okay. I've got news for you, there's no such thing as normality. Abnormal psychology says, this is normal, this is abnormal, and they continually debate about what's normal and what's abnormal. Everybody here is unique. There's never been anyone like you and me, and there never will be anyone just like you and me. And therefore, we're all irregular, and God takes us just the way we are. If you go to outlet malls, they've got sections there that say, "As is," or they have sections that say, "Seconds," or they have one whole table that says, "A little slow, but slightly reduced in value," and then they say, "No returns".

You know, let me tell you something, there are no seconds. Nobody is a second. There's no as is. God takes you now as we are, all of us irregular people. All of us are broken. You say, "How do you know this"? Since the fall of man in Genesis, all we like-sheep have gone astray, we've turned everyone to our own way. Brokenness, that's a part of you, that's a part of me, and now as we are coached by him, as we take the textbook, as we take the playbook, he gives us the formula of how we do indeed get along, and minister, and genuinely love one another.
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