David didn’t confess. Do you know what David did? He suppressed. Because of his disobedience, he became sick. Check him out in Psalm 32:3-5, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Have you ever felt like that before? I have. Once we confess, once we come clean, once we turn from it, things change. There is a sickness for death, a sickness for disobedience, and, also, a sickness for the glory of God. Remember the blind man who came to Jesus? When the disciples saw him, they asked Jesus, “Hey, Jesus, who sinned, this guy or his parents. Someone sinned.” Do you know what Jesus said? He said, “This guy is blind for the glory of God.” And then he healed him.
The first chair in any church, in any Biblically functioning community should be full of people who don’t know Jesus Christ personally. I will say it again. Let me rewind. The first chair should be occupied by people who are facing a Christless eternity. I would argue one-third of the people that don’t know Christ. The church is not a country club, it’s not a stained-glass fortress, it’s not a place for the already-convinced, it is a place to reach out. When we reach out, that’s when we grow.
The first time I ever got a hold of this was back at Florida State University. I played basketball at Florida State for the Seminoles. I was the only believer on the team. And for a while people made fun of me, they ridiculed me. And one day I had an opportunity to lead a teammate to Christ. It changed my life. Then I thought, OK, I gotta take him to church! So I took him to the church I was attending. A good church, traditional church, but they sang in tunes he did not understand. The leaders used words he didn’t connect with. And for the first time in my life I saw church through his eyes. And I thought, they have a message that’s timeless but their methodology is nuts. It’s ancient. It’s something this guy cannot connect with. So God spoke to my spirit and said, “Ed Young jr, I want you to lead a church and to have it a place, a restaurant, a house, where even people who are totally far away from God can come and hear this message, and understand the message.” Because see, when this chair is filled, when you’re praying for people who serve you coffee in the morning, when you’re praying high-risk prayers for people that you come in contact with around your work, when you’re praying high-risk prayers for people you play basketball or soccer with, God will open up opportunities, we take the relational risk, and invite them to the table. The first chair of any healthy church should be filled with those who are far away from God. Do you understand me? Chair 1, are those who are facing Hell. If you go to a church and you don’t have a lot of people who are far away from God there, that’s not a Biblically functioning church.
We have eternity to hang out with Christians! I’m not here to hang out with Christians! When Jesus started his ministry he said followers fish! And when he ended his ministry he said, “Fish!” He did not say yo, he said go! As you’re going, a you’re living your life, reach people. This is the most difficult chair for any church to reach. No matter where the church is located, this is it. It’s like Frederico. I speak in English, he translates it to Spanish. We have to take the message. Sometimes it’s complex, sometimes it’s hard to understand, we have to translate it for this chair. Be aware of the chair! If you cannot explain something in a simple way you don’t understand it. That’s what we have to do. Serve the food where people can eat it and understand what they’re eating.
“Ma’am, we’re already eating chicken sandwiches. We don’t need a sample, we’re already enjoying the good food.” Then she walked off. And my wife said to me,
“Ed Young, that’s like the church! We’re so busy feeding the already fed, the picnic table people, the people in the shade in the comfort, all we have to do, though, is walk out into the sunlight where hundreds of people are passing by who obviously haven’t eaten yet and serve them samples of the Savior.” Jesus said it on John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.” He also said, “My food is to do the will of God.” The ‘will of God’ means the purposes of God he has for every single person’s life. If we could see God’s agenda for our lives we wouldn’t believe it. It’s that amazing. It’s that awesome. It’s that phenomenal.
I would tell you the church is a restaurant where people come to get fed. Or really the church is the table in the restaurant where hungry hunks of humanity come to get fed. Now seated at the head of the table is the pastor. The dude with the food. Or the dudette with the foodette. The pastor should serve the food in a creative and compelling way.
If I invited you over to my house we would think about the presentation. We would light candles, put on maybe some music, prepare the food in an innovative way because guests are coming over. We are thinking about the need of our guests. We’re getting outside of ourselves and thinking about others. Now if we just eat as a family we just sit down, it’s casual, it’s relaxed, no candles or music, just loud talking and loud eating. When the kids were small, maybe some <burp>, burp, food fight, but if guests are coming over we change our whole game! As a pastor I’m serving the food in a creative and compelling way. Jesus was the most creative man to ever walk on planet earth. He always used unique ways to communicate the unchanging message. The church should be the most creative entity in the universe. We should be riding on the ragged edge of creativity. The higher the predictability the lower the connectivity. And in so many churches we show up and we already know what’s gonna happen. We already know exactly the type of food that’s gonna be served before we show up! So the church should be creative. The pastor is the chef, preparing the menu. Creativity. Creativity. The pastor is the dude with the food. So since the church is the table where people come to get fed, there are three chairs around it.
At Fellowship Church the future’s so bright you’ve gotta wear shades! I’m standing in front of our newest location. That’s right. Today we’re announcing our newest location. It’s right here in Miami midtown. Where’s Miami midtown? It’s like the hottest area in Miami! This church was built in 1927. It’s the oldest Spanish-speaking Baptist church in South Florida. We’ve partnered with them with Pastor Art, Pastor Lisbeth. We’ll be doing Spanish services here, English services here. Absolutely crazy what’s gonna happen! It’s our seventh location!
If you’re watching online, welcome. If you’re watching from downtown Dallas, downtown Fort Worth, welcome. If you’re at our South Miami campus, welcome. Grapevine, what’s up Grapevine? Plano? Yeah, how you doing? It’s gonna be a great, great day. This is a historic day. The future’s so bright you’ve got to wear shades.
Well right now I want you to join me as I do a message called The Table. That’s right. The church is about a table and a table is about the church. What’s the church? It’s the only thing Jesus ever built. I think this message will bless you. I’m looking forward to it. The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades!
Wow, it’s so great to be here! Welcome! And we feel so welcome! God bless all of you. Thank you for being here. Please be seated.
I want to honor your pastor, Art and his lovely wife Lisbeth. We’re so thrilled to partner with this fantastic church and we think the future is on a whole ‘notha level. Yes, we really do. I’m gonna take my coat off, it’s a little bit warm in here. That’s OK, I love it!
I want to recognize, too, my lovely wife, Lisa. We’ve been married for 30 years, 30 years! So when you meet the right one, guys, marry her! And the best place to meet her is in the House. Right here.
I want to tell you a story today about eating. I love to eat. My wife and I went to a large flea market. Many people were at this flea market, mostly women. And they were shopping, pushing the carts in this outdoor flea market, between the aisles, trying to find good deals. After shopping for a couple of hours I got hungry. So my wife and I found a chicken restaurant that served chicken sandwiches in the shade. While we were eating our chicken sandwiches a woman from the chicken restaurant where we just bought the food walked up to us in the shade with a tray of chicken and she asked us for a sample of the chicken that we were already eating.
In our pre-fallen state, we would have lived forever. But we messed up. We got the ball of sin rolling, and because sin entered the equation, we are going to die. So there is sickness because we are dying.
Also, there is a sickness for disobedience. If I am sinning habitually, if I am continuing in sin and rebellion before God, I can be sick. Case in point, in 1 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth that, because you have abused communion and taken it in an unworthy manner, “Many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” You are taking communion, Paul said, in a flippant pedestrian-type manner and that is why you are sick, and some have even died.
Remember David, that great leader at the top of his game? He lusted after Bathesheba. He committed adultery with this biblical babe. He had her husband killed and then the Bible says David didn’t come clean.
Now the plot clots. Get ready. Hold on to your theater seats. James 5:14, “Is anyone among you sick?” Remember James is writing to Christians dispersed throughout the Mediterranean world. This word “sick” is not post-nasal drip. It’s not sinusitis. It’s not acid indigestion. We are talking about really sick. Let me stop here. The Bible talks about certain types of sickness. The Bible talks about a sickness for death. I checked the stats again this week, friends, and the death rate is still hovering around 100%. We are all dying. The moment we are born, we are dying. Some die quicker than others, but we are all dying. The Bible says we die because of sin.
“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The compensation for sin is death. Yet, if we are in Christ, we die and our death is a graduation from this life to heaven. But the fact remains that we are going to die.
E stands for enlighten. We need to use the discipline as a teachable moment. A stands for affirm. It is important to affirm the relationship. I say something like this to my children. “Children, God loves you and I love you too much to allow you to get away with this behavior. We are affirming the relationship. L stands for love. Don’t leave that out. Some of the most precious moments of my parenting career have been embracing my children after acts of discipline.
Every time you discipline, ask what the deal is and remember this acrostic. When I opened the message up, I said, “There is nothing quite like a great football game. When a couple of teams are disciplined and doing it right, the combination of pageantry, skill, athleticism and strength is something to behold.” But I have got to tell you something. There is nothing quite like a great family game. When the team is disciplined, running right, playing within the perimeters set forth by the ground’s crew and the referees and the coaches, it is something to behold. Parents, do the discipline deal.
I don’t know why I did what I did, but I bet a close friend that I could turn that birdbath over. I even feel terrible telling you this. I ran and shoved it and it fell and broke into a million pieces. I ran. I thought that I had committed a flawless crime until five minutes later my parents got a call from the neighbor. Let me tell you what my parents did. They did something brilliant. I have never forgotten it.
They said, “Ed, you know the money you have been saving for that rod and reel? You, after you call and apologize, will go along with us to the birdbath store, and buy her another cement birdbath.” I have visions, still, of carrying my piggy bank money, and putting it onto the counter and saying, “One birdbath, please.” It was terrible. But that is discernment, wouldn’t you agree?
You see, discipline is not an option. Instruction is not an option. We are to do it. A couple of years ago I came up with an acrostic. I would ask myself what the deal was with any particular situation. So I took the word deal, made an acrostic of it. It helped me and I hope it will help you.
D stands for discern. We need discernment. We have got to be praying for an extra measure of discernment. We have got to have discernment to line off the field and then have the discernment to discipline our children in an age-appropriate fashion. I was thinking about my childhood and tried to remember the best act of discipline that was used with me. I will never forget it. I was in elementary school and one of our neighbors had a big old, hulking cement birdbath. I used to watch the birds come and go.
And he related these people to a car battery. I thought it was a brilliant illustration.
He said some people are just drainers; they just drain your battery dry. After you’re with them for like 30 minutes, you have nothing left. You’re like, “Oh, man, I want to stay away from him, I want to stay away from her. They drain the fool out of me.”
Jesus had some of those relationships in his life. We don’t have time to study it all, but he did.
Now the second type of relationships related to the car battery would be the neutral relationships. The neutral relationships would be those that are kind of even. There’s some drainage on your part and other person’s part, yet you feel kind of neutral when you leave the interchange or when you leave the golf course or leave the shopping spree or whatever you’re doing. You walk away saying, “Okay, I feel all right.” That’s just kind of a neutral person.
The third type of relationship is the one that so often we neglect, especially those of us who are in the ministry or who are in the people business. I’m talking about teachers and coaches and doctors and attorneys and so forth. The third one is the replenishing relationship.
[Ed walks over to a friend of his in the audience…]
When I’m with Ray, we click. Ray replenishes me. And when we’re hanging out together maybe we’re having espresso together, or eating sushi together, or fly fishing together, or just hanging out together—all of a sudden I look at my watch and think, “It’s 1 a.m.!” That is a replenishing relationship.