Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Power Of Yes and No

There is a power that God has given us that will determine what kind of life we have.

This power will determine your relationship with God and your relationship with others. It will decide what things you have in life and what things you experience in life – whether good or bad.

What is this power? It’s the power of Yes and No.

When God created us he created us with the ability to choose. We have free choice. He gave us free choice, because he wanted real love and real love doesn’t exist where there’s no freedom.

We have free choice in the smallest decisions like what to eat or wear and we have it in the largest decisions like whether we will choose Jesus or reject Him.

*What we say “Yes” to and “No” to will give us the life that we have now and in eternity.

That makes it sound easy. Just say “Yes” to the good things and “No” to the bad things. Right?

Here’s our problem….

It’s easier to say “Yes” to the things that are bad for us, than it is to say “Yes” to the things that are good for us.

It’s easy to say yes to eating junk food and it’s hard to say yes to eating healthier food. No one ever says, “Man! I just ended up eating way to much healthy food today. I gotta start eating some snacks!

But our problem is deeper than that...

It’s harder to say “No” to the things that we SHOULD say “No” to, than for us to say “No” to the things that we shouldn’t say “No” to.

It’s harder to say No to temptation, than it is to say No to reading our Bible. No one says, “Man I’ve just been finding too much time to spend with God. I really have to find some time to just relax and watch TV or listen to music.

Because these two facts are true, this is what ends up happening…

We end up saying “Yes” to what we should say “No” to and “No” to what we should say “Yes” to!

Turn with me in your Bibles to Matt. 7:13-14

Jesus talks about the gate that is wide and the road that is broad. It says they lead to destruction. This is the easy way that many choose. It’s the popular way to go.

Then he says there is another gate that is small and the road that is narrow, but it leads to life and this is the way that only a few find -- a few choose. This is the hard way – the unpopular way.

The thing that I recently realized is that these gates and roads aren’t traveled on by “footsteps”, but by “mindsteps” – choices.

The choices we make put us on either of these roads in life.

The things that are easy to say “yes” to and easy to say “no” to are many times the things that will put us on the broad road headed through the wide gate towards destruction.

The things that are hard to say “yes” to and easy to hard “no” to are many times the things that will put us on the narrow road headed through the small gate towards life.

Ed Hillenbrand said this...

"It's not a matter of can or cannot, it's a matter of will or will not, everything is a choice, choose wisely."

H.E. Fosdeck said...

"He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end. "

And finally, Kahlil Gibran said it this way...

"We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them."

Where are the steps you’re making, in your mind, leading you right now in your life? Which road are you on?

Here’s something else I thought about these two roads and the way we make choices in life…

People run from pain and they run towards pleasure. 99.9% of our choices are based on this fact.

We usually choose the things that we think will give us pleasure or protect us from pain. It’s like a natural survival mechanism.

But the problem is this…

This way of choosing is ultimately wrong! Why?

Many times the things that give us short term pleasure will ultimately lead to long term pain.

Many times the things that give us short term pain will ultimately lead to long term pleasure.

*That means that most of the time when we’re running towards pleasure and away from pain we’re running the wrong way!

Think about it…

  • If you want to lose weight will your answer be found in temporary pain or temporary pleasure?
  • Will weight loss come from eating everything you want when you desire it or from saying no to yourself and suffering a little?
  • If you want to be muscular, like our governor Arnold, are you going to have to choose temporary pain or temporary pleasure?
  • If you want to do well in school -- get straight A’s -- are you going to have to choose temporary pain or temporary pleasure?

You get the point. The lie out there, that we all want to be true, is that these things can come with no pain, no denial on our part! It’s just not true!

Jesus says the road that leads to life is found through gate that is small and on the road that is narrow.

It’s the hard way that’s why only a few choose or find it.

Jesus taught us this upside down way of thinking and living in Matt. 16:24-25

“24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

He says we must “deny ourselves”. That means say “No” temporarily to want we desire – to some pleasures.

He says “take up your cross” which means choosing temporary pain in exchange for eternal pleasure.

This is the secret he’s trying to teach us…

Lasting pleasure is many times hidden on the other side of temporary pain!

Do you know when a mother giraffe teaches her little giraffe babies to walk?

It is immediately after they are born. You really need to picture this…

These huge adult giraffes sometimes grow to 18 feet tall. Here she is, towering over this spindly little creature one-third her size trying its best to stand up on these skinny, wobbly legs and cannot.

Suddenly the mother backs up, comes running full speed and kicks the little giraffe and sends it flying.

The baby is sitting there dazed and confused.

Mom rares back again, lands another kick and once again junior goes flying. This can happen a number of times until this infant giraffe can get up before it's mother can knock it down!

Not exactly the kind of parent-child bonding we espouse. But, the result?

The baby giraffe learns to walk immediately.

Why does the mother do this? Because if this child does not walk, it will that day be lunch for a tiger, or dessert for a lion. The baby has to go through that pain in order to live.

Here's another story...

There’s a story of a scientist who was studying moths. And one day he was watching this one moth struggle to break out of its cocoon. After watching for awhile the scientist decided to help the poor moth.

He took some scissors and snipped the cocoon so the moth could slip out.

He thought he had just done a great thing for that moth until he looked closer and was shocked to see the moth. Where the moth’s wings were supposed to be were just curled up nubs.

The scientist then realized that by freeing this moth from temporary pain he cursed it to lasting pain. You see the pressure from the cocoon is what forces the fluid into a moth’s wings so they will expand to full size. By cutting the moth out of the cocoon stopped the process and now this moth would never fly.

  • What temporary pleasure have you been saying “yes” to that is going to ultimately cause you lasting pain?
  • What temporary pain do you need to run towards to prepare you to achieve that lasting happiness and pleasure God wants for you?

I’m not telling you that you can’t have any pleasure in life. Jesus said he came that we’d have life and have it to the full.

What I’m telling you is that the lasting pleasure you’re looking for is found in saying “yes” to things that might temporarily be hard and painful and no to the things that will really only satisfy for a moment.

There’s something that I’ve been learning about the power of Yes and No…

What I have today comes from the choices I made yesterday. What I will have tomorrow will come from the choices I make today.

I’ve been reading Genesis again recently.

When I got to the story of Noah this simple truth hit me: Noah had to build the Ark before the rain came! If he would have waited until the clouds started appearing or it started sprinkling, then it would have been too late!

He had to respond in the present and say “Yes” to God, so he would be prepared for what God had for him in the future. Faith requires response now to what is not yet.

The question I’m starting to ask myself is…

What can I do now to prepare for what I believe God wants to do? What can I say “Yes” to now to prepare for the future God has for me.

There’s something else about the power of “Yes” and “No” that I want to look at. It’s something that’s a relief and at the same time also warning.

Here it is…

It’s not, usually those things we say “Yes” or “No” to once that hurt or help us.

It’s the accumulation of “Yeses” or “Noes” that really matter.

(From the book The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle by Jim Rohn)

Jim Rohn says this...

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.

"Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day? The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.

"On their own, our daily acts do not seem that important. A minor oversight, a poor decision, or a wasted hour generally doesn't result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds…”

He goes on to say this…

“Those who eat too many of the wrong foods are contributing to a future health problem, but the joy of the moment overshadows the consequence of the future. It does not seem to matter.

"Those who smoke too much or drink too much go on making these poor choices year after year after year... because it doesn't seem to matter. But the pain and regret of these errors in judgment have only been delayed for a future time.

"Consequences are seldom instant; instead, they accumulate until the inevitable day of reckoning finally arrives and the price must be paid for our poor choices – choices that didn't seem to matter.

"Failure's most dangerous attribute is its subtlety. In the short term those little errors don't seem to make any difference. We do not seem to be failing. In fact, sometimes these accumulated errors in judgment occur throughout a period of great joy and prosperity in our lives.

"Since nothing terrible happens to us, since there are no instant consequences to capture our attention, we simply drift from one day to the next, repeating the errors, thinking the wrong thoughts, listening to the wrong voices and making the wrong choices.

"The sky did not fall in on us yesterday; therefore the act was probably harmless. Since it seemed to have no measurable consequence, it is probably safe to repeat."

Cause and Effect
Here’s our problem: We want to live life without cause and effect. We want to say “Yes” to whatever we really want and only have good results.

We want to eat anything we want to and not gain weight. We want to not work out and be in shape. We want to not study and get and still get an “A”. We want to have sex without any regrets.

But that’s not the way life works! There ARE consequences for actions.

This is the first thing we teach kids. We tell them, "If you do ____, then ____ is going to happen."

The Bible says, “You reap what you sow.”

One day on the way home from church my son Jack asked me, "How many roads are there until we get home?" (He meant how many turns were there.) I said, "I think three or four." Jack's response was, "But I want there to be TWO roads!" I said, "I'm sorry buddy, but there's going to be at least three." And he repeated, "But I want there to be TWO roads!"

Adults are the same way.

We’re not any different than Jack. We’re just taller! We say “yes” to something we shouldn’t and then something bad happens and we complain to God.

But we have to face the same reality that Jack has to face.

Jim Rohn goes on to say this about success…

“Now here is the great news. Just like the formula for failure, the formula for success is easy to follow: It's a few simple disciplines practiced every day..."

"… what if we did develop a new discipline to take just a few minutes every day to look a little further down the road? We would then be able to foresee the impending consequences of our current conduct. Armed with that valuable information, we would be able to take the necessary action to change our errors into new success-oriented disciplines.

"In other words, by disciplining ourselves to see the future in advance, we would be able to change our thinking, amend our errors and develop new habits to replace the old. "

Our yeses and noes overtime become habits. They become automatic responses.

Proverbs 5:21-23
"21 For a man's ways (habits) are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths (entrenchment, track). 22 The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. 23 He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. "

The more I say “yes” to something the easier it becomes to say “Yes”. The more I say “No” to something the easier it becomes to say No.

The scary thing is this is true whether the thing we’re saying yes or no to is good or bad.

A Spanish proverb puts it this way...

"Habits are first cobwebs, then cables."

They start out being easy to break and as time goes on grow to almost being impossible to break!

They say that up to 90% of our normal behavior is based on habits. That means the way you dress, get ready, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and a ton of other things are all based on habits.

I Corinthian 6:12 says...

"'Everything is permissible for me' - but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me' - but I will not be mastered by anything. We have so much freedom in Christ, but we need to make sure that we don’t use that freedom to enslave ourselves again. "

There's a story of how to break a habit…

An elderly teacher, with a pupil by his side, took a walk through a forest. Suddenly he stopped and pointed to four plants close at hand.

The first was just beginning to peep above the ground, the second had rooted itself pretty well into the earth, the third was a small shrub, while the fourth was a full-sized tree.

The tutor said to his young companion, "Pull up the first plant." The boy did so eagerly, using only his fingers.

"Now pull up the second." The youth obeyed but found the task more difficult.

"Do the same with the third," he urged. The boy had to use all his strength to uproot it.

"Now," said the instructor, "try your hand with the fourth." The pupil put his arms around the trunk of the tall tree and couldn't even shake its leaves.

"This, my son, is just what happens with our bad habits. When they are young, we can remove them readily; but when they are old, it's hard to uproot them, though we pray and struggle ever so sincerely."


Our yeses and noes can become habits that will either trap us or free us, so we need to be careful with what habits we’re feeding.

I know this might sound morbid, but I’ve been trying to ask myself this question…

What minor, small habit of mine will one day kill me?

Today is the day to begin breaking old habits that you’ve been saying yes to for years. It all starts with the first No.

Today is the day to start new habits that will change our life for the better. It all starts with that first yes.

The power of these two simple words “yes” and “no” to destroy our lives or bless our lives is incredible. It’s frightening!

And the scariest thing is that our yeses and noes will ultimately effect our eternity.

So what do we do?

I don’t know about you, but I know myself and I know that dumb enough, weak enough, and short sighted enough that I have the serious chance of destroying everything I have. If I don’t do something to guard my choices, then I'm in trouble.

There’s only two things we can do to help us say “Yes” to the right things and “no” to the right things.

Walk with Jesus – He will show me what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to. Not only that, if I rely on him, then he will give me the strength to do it!

Walk with others – You need friends who will encourage you to make the right choices, help you make them, and get on you when you make the wrong ones!

The consequences of Yes and No are too large to trust our own wisdom and willpower. If we’re going to make it in life. Walking with God and others on this journey is not an option.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Power Of Together

(This message was spoken on Feb. 13th 2005)

If you’re like most people, you want to achieve something significant, something meaningful with your life.

You want your life to matter.

Well, I have the way for you to achieve that. It’s found in one word and the word is: Together.

This is a fact: God has created us so we can’t achieve anything significant, anything of meaning on your own.

It will only happen when you’re with someone together.

Harvey Mackay in his book “Dig Your Well Before Your Thirsty” says, “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.”

He goes on to say...

"No matter how smart you are, no matter how talented, you can't do it alone."

Redwood trees are amazing creations.

They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 300 feet high and more than 2,500 years old.

You would think that trees that large would have a tremendous root system, reaching down hundreds of feet into the earth. But they don’t.

Redwoods actually have a very shallow root system. They're secret to being able to grow so tall and resist the winds and storms? The roots of these trees are intertwined.

They are tied in with each other; interlocked.

So when the storms come and the winds blow the redwoods still stand. Redwood trees are a physical example of "the power of together."

Many people miss out on what the church is supposed to be. And that’s my biggest fear for us! They settle for a service – a weekly event, but they never experience the real power of the church in their life.

The real power of the church is not as a place, a program or time, but it’s the church as a group of diverse friends united in love and purpose.

Today I want to show you one of the most powerful analogies that God gives us in his word for what he dreams for us to be.

When we start living out this analogy will help us to achieve things that have significance, things that are meaningful, to as we talked about last week have an influence on eternity!

Hear the message below:

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Secret To More

(This message was spoken on Feb. 6th 2005)

More. This one word describes what most people are constantly trying to do and get.

We live in a culture that’s never satisfied. People always want more. People are constantly trying to figure out how to do more.

Well, this might be a surprise to you, but this word “more” describes what God’s trying to do in you and through you your whole life.

This might sound weird, but there’s a way that you can actually do more than you’re able and have more power and wisdom than you really possess. There’s a way to produce more in your life than you ever have before.

But we the way to see this happen probably isn’t what you think. It’s not about trying harder, praying more, or anything like that.

What I want to talk to you about is what one theology book called, “…the key to the believer’s whole Christian life.”

We’re going to look at 8 verses where Jesus reveals the only way to really live a successful life as a believer.

Hear the message below:

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