"Can you imagine living in a place where the heroes are a famous comedian from Russia, a famous fiddle player from Japan, a famous group of acrobats from China, and a great famous group of singers from Ireland or on billboards all over town? This is Branson, Missouri. This is where I live. And man, we got more billboards and brochures and pamphlets than any place in the world."
- What kind of love will attract your friends to Jesus?
- What kind of motivation does the reality of this devotional today give to you?
- Describe someone you know who displays a 'Jesus lives here' billboard that you will be attracted to.
"This Labrador Retriever seldom leaves my side. His pure black shiny coat glistens in the sunlight as he gallantly retrieves the doves and ducks and pheasants and anything else that we're hunting together. But you know, try to take a chicken bone away from this dog and you might as well lose your hand. But if you lay a freshly cooked juicy sirloin steak on the sidewalk beside him, he'll drop that little nod chicken bone in a split second."
- How does Jesus' love actually replace your desire for sin?
- Describe the deceitfulness of sin.
- How can Jesus truly become your friend in your sense of fulfillment?
"A fine college student athlete came to my office to talk about God. The guy was lost. He was so incredibly lost. He had caused two abortions. He had drank alcohol, like a fish in a pond. In his search for meaning in life, he scuffed the idea of a personal loving God, and he had paid a dear price for his wrongdoings."
- How can you explain God's amazing tender grace?
- How should that grace motivate you?
- Why is that grace so hard to comprehend?
"Imagine a bizarre announcement over the school's PA system. Just as you packed up your backpack with all your books and notebooks after a hard day of classes, and prepared to make a mad dash home. Over the PA system, you immediately recognize the superintendent's voice. And here's what he says. "Students, I know this sounds unusual, but we have a very special guest visiting school today, and I want everyone to immediately proceed to the auditorium for a spontaneous assembly.""
- Righteousness on your own means making a hundred on the pop quiz. Why does everyone fail the test?
- How can a Holy God allow unholy people like me for most of all in heaven?
- What is God's remedy for this eternal dilemma? And aren't you glad that he has a remedy?
"You know, I have been married for over three decades to my little wife, Debbie Jo and I'll tell you, she's more beautiful today to me than she's ever been before in our lives. She was like the top 10 beauties that SMU were I played ball and she cheered for my football team. But she's more beautiful today than ever because something is happening inside that woman's heart. And I know what it is. She loves the Word of God and He's making her more and more like Christ every day."
- How much time have you spent trying to get beautiful on the outside?
- How much time have you spent becoming beautiful on the inside?
- What can you do beginning today and the rest of your life to become beautiful from inside here?
"I will never forget the first time I felt the sting of rejection of my friends. I probably was in fourth grade. It seems like. We're over my next door neighbor's house watching television, probably a football game. That's what we did."
- What kind of rejection are you going through?
- How do you see God using the trial that you're going through to make you a whole lot more like Jesus?
00:14 Have you ever been fired on the job or you ever been divorced. You didn't want it to happen or you ever been rejected by your friends at school. I believe today's going to be a big encouragement for you. We're in first Peter Chapter one verses six and seven, and it says this. This is going to encourage me today. I hope it encourages you, as well. It says "in this we, you greatly rejoice, even though now if necessary, you've been distressed by various trials so that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I will never forget the first time I felt the sting of rejection of my friends. I probably was in fourth grade. It seems like. We're over my next door neighbor's house watching television, probably a football game. That's what we did.
01:12 And I remember going up to their house and knocking on the door and I saw them inside, but the door was locked. And I still remember that little bitty guy, me standing there and hearing them say, can't you see nobody's home. Crushed me. And then I remember going out for junior high football and I wasn't very good athlete. And I remember my best friend kind of making the varsity and me making the B team. Just absolutely crushed me. The coach had rejected me. And then I remember my first girlfriend, seventh grade. I started young and I remember going to school one day. I mean we were girlfriend and boyfriend. We hardly ever spoke to each other, you know, how it is in seventh grade. But anyway, and I remember hearing from her friend through my friend that she didn't like me anymore, that she liked my best friend.
02:20 But the sting of rejection is awful. And then probably even more catastrophic than that was when, you know, that the doctors told me I had leukemia and that I was supposed to die within the year. There was a 60% chance I was going to die within that year. Talk about rejection, talk about the sting of rejection. And then a few years after that, when the doctor told me I had prostate cancer and, uh, wow, uh, life's got a lot of bumps, doesn't it?
02:49 And there's trials, you know, it's bad or worse than rejection. And we go through those things. And when I think about this little gold ring that I wear, you know, my wedding ring, and I look at the gold that's on that ring. My wife got it. It's gotta be good. But that was a whole bunch of rock that was refined into that pure gold. That are 14 carat gold, uh, that makes this ring. Rejection makes gold. And of all the trials and rejection and persecution and everything that I've gone through, or maybe that you've gone through, I know that I've got a long ways to go. A long ways to go. So there's probably more ahead, but I can rejoice. And so can you as I look back at every one of those things that happened over the years, all of the refining and I see God's purpose in it.
03:41 Wouldn't trade for any of it. They were the most important things that ever happened in my life. Because you know what, through trials like that, we can honestly care for people going through trials just like ours. You know what? I had a lot of refining to do and I still have a lot more to do. And every one of those trials, God used to take away some of my flesh and I still have way too much around, but with every trial, some of the flesh is laid off on the side of the road. And here's my questions for you today. What kind of rejection are you going through? And maybe your trial is not rejection right now, but what kind of trials are you going through and get somebody to help you answer this question. How do you see God using the trial that you're going through to make you a whole lot more like Jesus?
"Every great leader has in his heart the characteristics of Christ."
- What are the qualities of Christ that you want to develop in your heart that would qualify you for leadership in your life?
- In your leadership position, whatever it is, how do you stay strong and how you develop those qualities of Christ?
- What do you feel you most need to work on to make yourself a better example and a better leader for Christ?
00:06 Have you ever wanted to be a leader? You're wanting to be someone that God would use to lead others in a significant way? Well, this book of First Timothy is a great book to study where Paul is building in Timothy the heart of a leader. Today we're looking at first Timothy chapter three and we're going to start with verse one and it says this: "It is a trustworthy statement. If any man aspires to be the office of an overseer, it's a fine work that he desires to do." There's nothing wrong with wanting to be leader. Verse two says this: "An overseer then must be above reproach. The husband of one wife or a man with a one-woman heart, a temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity. Because if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God?" The qualities of leadership.
01:23 I love to meet leaders and I love to look into the heart of the leaders that I get to meet. I'll never forget meeting with Jim Tressel at Ohio state. And I talked to him about his intimacy with Christ. And he told me about every morning before practice, even at 5:30 or 6 in the morning, he's in the Word for half an hour every day. I asked President Bush when he was president of the United States years ago, what's the most important thing in the world to you? And he said, it's prayer. I talked to Dick Cheney. And I said, who's the most, amazing person you've ever met? And he said, Maggie Thatcher. And I said, what is it about Maggie Thatcher? And he said, it's her courage and her convictions. Every time you look into a great leader, you'll look at a person whose heart has got the characteristics of the heart of Christ. It's not only these world-class leaders, these gigantic, coaches and political leaders that have so much of the characteristics of the heart of Christ. I've seen it in little kids. I've seen it in high school students and college students as well. I remember this one kid came to our camp. He was the biggest kid on his fifth grade basketball team. He could have scored every single point, but his goal when he went on the court as a leader was to make sure that every kid on the team scored. So instead of shooting every basket, he would pass off. They would empty the bench because he could get every rebound and he would pass off till every kid on the team had scored at least one basket and then he'd began to score his points. One thing, no matter what age you are, I believe with all my heart, that's common in every great leader. And I don't believe that some of the visible leaders are truly great leaders. But I mean, every great leader is that that leader has in his heart the heart of the characteristics of Christ.
03:24 And here's my questions for you today. What are the qualities of Christ that you want to develop in your heart that would qualify you for leadership in your life? And then secondly: In your leadership position, whatever it is, how do you stay strong and how you develop those qualities of Christ? And then the last question is this: What do you feel you most need to work on to make yourself a better example and a better leader for Christ? And here's the lifeline for today. The risk we take for him is so small compared to the price that he paid for us. Leadership takes risk. Go for it.
"Advice can be confusing, but examples are always clear."
- Why is a lifestyle dedicated to Christ the most powerful witnessing tool that we have?
- How consistently do your friends see you living out your faith in Jesus?
- Does your lifestyle lead your unsaved friends to Christ? And then, how can you change it So it can be just like Brett's and what happened to him and Josh?
00:04 We're going to be in a great book. And not like they're all not great books, they are. But this is, this is one of my favorites. And it's first Thessalonians 1:5-6. And Paul writes this: "for our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit. And with full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we prove to be among you for your sake, you also became imitators of us and of the Lord. Have we received the word of the Lord in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit."
00:51 I call this one walking your talk. And let me just tell you this story. Josh had been in trouble since elementary school. He'd been kicked out of school for carrying a concealed weapon in fifth grade and using drugs extensively and fighting in high school. It left his heart cold and hard. Although Josh had a religious background, he had ceased to believe in God because he accepted his biology teachers' fraudulent Darwinian ideas that we had somehow evolve by chance over a long period of time from slime. That all started with nothing, that nothing exploded. The cosmos erupted. And out of some lifeless pool of prebiotic soup, life somehow emerged out of nothing and that he literally was an ancestor, and his ancestor was slime. But Josh had a friend named Brett who had been a drug user and a dealer alongside of him for the better part of three years. Brett stopped by my house one day a few years ago after one of his friends that almost died in a heroin overdose. And Brett gave his heart to Christ. And I mean sincerely, I challenged Brett to give up drugs for 21 days, knowing that after 21 days saying no would be a habit, he accepted the challenge and said no. In those 21 days, he told me more times than he could count. Josh saw a complete change in Brett's heart. Brett was a new man. He even broke up with this drop dead gorgeous girlfriend because their relationship had become sexual and he knew it was wrong. So Josh asked Brett to bring him to my house for a life challenging talk. After I cleared up his misconception about evolution and that he indeed was created intelligently, scientifically by an intelligent designer, a creator, he gave his heart to Christ. I asked him why he wanted to make such a life changing decision. He had one word for his answer and his answer was because of Brett.
02:56 Here's the questions today. Why is a lifestyle dedicated to Christ the most powerful witnessing tool that we have? And then secondly: How consistently do your friends see you living out your faith in Jesus? And then the third question is this: Does your lifestyle lead your unsaved friends to Christ? And then: how can you change it So it can be just like Brett's and what happened to him and Josh. And here's the lifeline today: You know your eye is a better pupil and we're willing than the ear is, the poem said. Advice can be confusing, but examples always clear. And that point says, I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
"It's time to empty the trashcan. Don't you think?"
- What all have you been thinking about lately? What's your mind been dwelling on and are any of these thoughts that you're having disturbing, if so, are any related or reinforced by your media diet?
- What practical steps can you take to renew your mind and to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things? What arguments are you likely to hear from your peers in school, in the locker room, in business, or even in your home as they watch and listen to what they watch and they see you watching and not watching what you watch.
- What are you going to do to turn the off switch on the media stuff that you're involved in?
00:06 I'll never forget as a little kid growing up the family chores; we'd clean the bathroom and make our beds and clean the room and with much coercion we'd empty the trash can out. I tell you trash cans are good if they're empty, but if they're full they can sure stink up the house. That I think the great thing about this book we're studying in Colossians; sometimes it's tough to hear, but boy, it is good, and it helps us clean out the trash in our mind. Well, chapter three starts off with a couple of verses that I think about a lot when my trash can gets full. And sometimes its just bad thoughts and sometimes it's just worry and despair. But Colossians 3:1-2, here's what it says: "Therefore, if you've been raised up with Christ, keeps seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth, setting your heart on things above."
01:11 Have you ever found yourself thinking about something that's just kind of twisted or off-color and you wished you could turn your brain off? It feels almost impossible sometimes, doesn't it? Even when we're sleeping, the wheels of our mind are turning. And although there's no "off" button inside our head, we can redirect our thought life. Paul was so convicted of this. Then in the first two verses of Colossians 3, he tells us what things should take center stage in the theater of our mind. And note how Paul words it. He said, "since then you've been raised up with Christ. Set your heart on things above. Set your mind on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."
01:57 Unfortunately, it is so easy to, to get our mind off track and to get the trash can of our mind full with worldly junk and sinful stuff. This is especially true when it comes to our ears and our eyes; and then stuff that's contrary to scripture. Probably, something that's way too common is just the media trash. Garbage in does equal garbage out. Some coaches call it "gigo"- garbage in, garbage out. Not always in behavior, but often in our thinking. And the key to setting our minds on things above is two-fold. First, we've got to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2, if you've never memorized it, here's what it says: "be transformed in the renewing of your mind." This occurs when we diligently meditate on God's word. Get those verses, memorize them, meditate on them, it'll change your mind. And then equally important, you got to avoid those things that war against your faith. Reading the Bible and watching trashy movies like Desperate Housewives and South Park and about half the sitcoms, they just don't mix. It's like oil and water. They can't mix. Christians often fail miserably at avoiding harmful entertainment. For example, the statistician George Barna found in his research regarding television viewing that believe it or not, more Christian kids on a percentage basis, that's 42% versus 33% more Christians watch MTV than Non-Christians. No wonder why so many of my teenage friends struggle like crazy with thoughts of lust and rebellion and anger and self-destruction.
03:51 But Philippians 4:6 goes even further in offering guidelines for our thought life. In fact, I believe it's Philippians 4:8 actually, Paul explains that our mind should focus on things that are pure and right and true and lovely, things of good repute, things that are excellent and things that are worthy of praise. Today's media sometimes qualifies, but more often than not it doesn't and when it falls short, we should get what our minds don't have. And that's a click to the "off" position. Turn it off.
04:24 Here's the questions for today. What all have you been thinking about lately? What's your mind been dwelling on and are any of these thoughts that you're having disturbing, if so, are any related or reinforced by your media diet? And then secondly: What practical steps can you take to renew your mind and to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things? What arguments are you likely to hear from your peers in school, in the locker room, in business, or even in your home as they watch and listen to what they watch and they see you watching and not watching what you watch. What are you going to do to turn the off switch on the media stuff that you're involved in? It's a tough question isn't it? Here's the lifeline, here's the thought for the day. Discuss with a trusted Christian mentor or friend or somebody in your family the struggles that you faced regarding your thought life, and identify a plan that will succeed against this battle and help you more consistently think of things above. It's time to empty the trashcan. Don't you think?