Setting your Mind on Eternity
When we do that, it changes the entire perspective. How do we do that? How do we set our minds on eternity? Number one. Put on the eternal lenses. That’s right. Put on the eternal lenses. If I take these lenses off, I see color. In fact, in the front row, I can even tell the expression from up here. I can. I really can. When I put these on, I see everyone in vivid color. The smiles. The nods. We don’t have very many wrinkles here in this crowd.
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That summer I was able to play with a bunch of NBA players from Houston and I gained more confidence. And in my sophomore year I won a starting position for the game against Auburn. I was starting and I thought, “Man, this is it! I’m starting as a sophomore. Our team is top 25 team. This is incredible!” I remember calling my parents and saying, “Mom and Dad, I’m starting at this game! This is going to be the ultimate.”
And I’ll never forget it. The announcer at the game said, “Starting at guard, number 12 from Houston, Texas; 6’2, 172 lbs.—Ed Young!” I walked out on the court and I thought to myself, “This is it? I’m standing here in short shorts (this was the 80’s) with tube socks, trying to put a leather ball through an iron ring. So, this is my life. Wow, this is it?” It’s like God was saying to me, “There’s something more.”
I had an okay game. I did all right my sophomore year. I even got to play a lot in a few games. I didn’t play for 4 or 5 or 10 games straight, but I was there man supporting the team. And during that year I went to this Bible study at our church and I remember the college pastor saying, “I’m going to challenge you to do something. I’m going to challenge all of you to pray that God would bring a non-Christian into your life.” I was like, “Pray to God to bring them into my life? They’re everywhere!” All these church people were like, “Oh, yeah, okay. Amen!” I just remember thinking, “If you only knew Rodney!”
I am in Sodom and Gomorrah. I don’t why I’m in this hell hole. Use me, God, in any way possible.” I had to pray that over and over and over again every single day. I met a guy on my team named Rodney. Rodney was the wildest guy on the team. He was a phenomenal athlete. Everybody was scared to death of him, and the coach would always put me with him on road trips. Rodney and I had a couple of discussions about my life and about Christianity, but nothing in depth. He was like talking to a brick wall.
My freshman year I sat on the bench pretty much the whole year. We’d play on ESPN or some other national television show and my mom would call and say, “Honey, I saw you. You’re hair looked great on the bench.” And then, during the starting line ups on television games, I’d try to get to the end of the line so the camera could see me clapping for them. It was pitiful. But Lisa went to every single game and sat right behind me, staring at my back the whole game.
Rodney, though, my wild friend, was a prophet. Because one day he said, “You know what? I’ve got a good name for you—the Reverend! You act like a Reverend.” So everybody on the team started calling me the Reverend. The Rev. He was a prophet, wasn’t he? So, at the end of my freshman year there was an NBA player who came down to practice with us and play. He was really nice to me and gave me a lot of confidence and I began to improve.
All of us sleep. We have a desire for sleep. And this text in the book of Acts is very fascinating because it tells us what was happening in the early church. As the early church began to progress and emerge we find some interesting facets. The Apostle Paul, I’m talking about Saint Paul, the greatest preacher next to Jesus who ever walked on planet Earth was preaching to this collected group of believers. So that’s always given me confidence.
If they fall asleep when Paul’s talking and they fall asleep when I’m talking, then I feel pretty good. I feel like I have some confidence because if you can fall asleep when Paul was speaking I feel really, really strong in my self esteem. And sometimes as I’m preaching I will watch people fall asleep. I really will. I will watch people nod off. And if you ever hear me begin to talk really softly, what I’m doing is I’m trying to lull them into sleep. I kind of talk in a rhythmic fashion and then all of the sudden I will make a loud noise or scream and then it will wake people up.
So if you ever see someone jump now and then that’s pastoral humor. I’m just waking somebody up. I’m just waking them up. Paul was speaking in Troas and he knew it was the last time he could speak to this bunch of Christians who had been collected together in this third story of this mansion. Obviously, one of the Christians was very, very wealthy because they were meeting in the third story of this house, maybe in this guy’s media room. I’m not sure what the deal was.
How about 80 million Christians singing, “How great thou art”? Think about it. Awesome. That’s why the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:23 “I’m torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it’s more necessary for you that I remain in the body”. That’s why he also said in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where oh death, is your victory? Where oh death, is your sting?” And most of you are saying, “Great, Ed. I’m a Christian. I’ve accepted Christ. My destiny is heaven. How though, does that affect me right now? How should I then live?” Colossians 3:2 tells us.
Remember Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has set eternity in our hearts”, Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things”, because eternity has been set in our hearts, we should set our minds on things above, not on things below. I have one question. If you believe this, raise your hand. Is it possible to be in two places at one time? Would you lift your hand. It is. There’s Dean West. It is possible to be in two places at one time. I was in Algebra class in the 11th grade. I made a “D” in the class.
I’m not proud of that, but the reason is that I would sit there in Algebra and go over all these numbers and formulas and this and that.My body was there but my mind was on the lake catching about a 4 lb. bass. One day I was shocked back into reality when my teacher said, “Ed, where are you? Where’s your head?” I thought, “If she only knew”. You’re driving to work this week – 635, 114, 121, you’re cruising.
A fire in a fireplace can warm you. And sometimes in Texas, if it’s just borderline cold, we’ll just crank the air down just to have a fire. It’s romantic. It’s intimate. It’s all about community. You can make S’mores on it. I love a fire. What can happen, though, if you don’t manage the fire? If the fire gets out of the fireplace, one errant spark hitting the right piece of carpet, or piece of paper or whatever, can burn you house down.
See this bed? This marital bed is a fireplace. Marital sex is hot! That’s what God wants it to be—hot! It can warm. It’s a place of intimacy and community. You can even make S’mores on it, it’s so hot. One spark, though; one errant flame, and we move from here (the big bed) to here (the dog bed). It’s your choice.
Now a lot of you can look on this stage and you can say, “I could litter this stage with dog beds. I’ve bought the lie, Ed. I’ve slept with whomever, whenever, however. Is God big enough to forgive me? Will God cleanse me? Can God change me?” And the answer is yes! Yes, he can. God wants you and wants me to have big sex. He wants us to see our sexuality against the matrix of his creation—the beginning, the turning, and the rescue.
God wants to rescue our sexuality, to show us what it means to be fully masculine or fully feminine. Whether we get married one day or whether we remain single the rest of our lives, God wants us to see our sexuality as something massive and something big. Matter matters. Remember, we’re fully physical and also fully spiritual.
That’s what I like. Or “What type of wallpaper? How about the square footage? English Tudor, what’s the deal? Is this a custom home?” The word “mansions” in John 14:2, Jesus is telling us He is going to personally see to our accommodation. Personally, to your accommodations, to my accommodations. Christ would say, “That’s it”. So we have nothing to worry about. Let me give you another one. The book of Revelation, John describes white robes and that makes the most fashion-conscious here shudder. “White robes! I hope they’re designer. Are they tailored? My earrings don’t go with white”.
White robes refer to being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We’ll be pure. We’ll be holy. That’s what it means. Crowns are mentioned. That means rewards will be given out. We’ll be treated like royalty. How about harps? Someone told me a couple of weeks ago, “Ed, I’d rather spend a wet weekend in Waxahachie than a million years in a harp class. I’m not into harp music. I like country-western music and that’s not really me”. A teenager told me, “I wish instead of a harp it was an electric guitar or electronic drums, a synthesizer”. There will be music.
There will be music like you’ve never known. Take Isaiah 6. It says right now the angels are singing, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb”. In 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. The theme of their path to the world championship in baseball is this, “We are family. I’ve got all my sisters with me”, and the whole place would rock back and forth, 80,000 people in Pittsburgh. How about 80 million Christians singing “Amazing Grace”?
Look at verse 4, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” Once again, “Participate in the divine nature.” What happens when someone bows the knee to Christ? What happens when someone makes that decision? I’ll tell you what happens. Jesus Christ infiltrates a person’s life. When Christ comes inside of our life, we are literally partakers, we can participate in the divine nature.
I just did a five-week series on Men and Women and we talked about the fact that we are made in the image of God. God has stamped us with significant stamping. One of the significant stamps that God has put on every single person is the stamp of generosity. Our God is a generous God. It’s intrinsically woven into the very fabric and framework of who he is. Thus, when I give, when I’m generous, especially with the most important institution known to man, the local church, I’m going with my nature. Conversely, when I am selfish, when I park my rear on the bench, when I don’t give, I’m literally going against my nature.
Hey, bench sitters, do you feel dry spiritually? Are you saying to yourself, “Man, my life is just not clicking. My prayers just don’t seem to have power, that octane.” It’s probably because you are sitting on the bench. It’s time to get in the game. I have a chance to talk to pastors several times a year from all across the country. We have a Creative Church Conference that Fellowship Church does and last time we did it, we had like 1300 leaders from 35 states and 30 different denominations.
Cut off all the technology and listen to God. Laugh. Laugh. So many times I get angry at ridiculous and stupid stuff. Anger. It’s a secondary emotion. It’s not the primary emotion. So when you, when you feel anger, when you really feel anger, think about this rope. Think about fear, think about insecurity, think about frustration and think about facing it because we need to again swing back (Ed swinging on rope once again – audience clapping) to swing back to the original, to the original emotion. Are you doing that? Are you gonna pray about that?
I’m telling you, God wants to do an incredible work in your life and mine. And next time we’re gonna talk deeper about anger and yes, I’ll bring the rope back. No more swinging and we’ll talk about this A factor. Now, at this moment, I’m gonna have a prayer and please do not leave. That will get me very angry. You know what gets me angry? When people leave early. (audience laughter) That gets me angry in a good way. You know if the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl, and they were behind by two, on the 30 yard line and getting ready to kick a field goal, would you turn the television off? Ah, man. No, no, they’re gonna win it.
The Super Bowl! You know. The same way it is, the same way it is in church. Because after this prayer we’re gonna, we’re gonna meditate and think about just this whole worship experience. And I want you to process this stuff and don’t leave until we say you’re dismissed, please, unless it’s an emergency. All right? Because you are disturbing the business that God wants to do in people’s lives. That’s why I get angry at that.
Thirty-one years of age. You don’t have much time left”. So there is a sense of urgency. But the Bible says it’s stupid to waste time on useless projects. Let me read one more verse in Proverbs 16:9. Proverbs 16:9 says we should make plans counting on God to direct us. We should make plans. It’s talking about we should make plans and here’s what this verse is saying.. .either we set our own agenda for our lives or someone else will. That’s what this verse is saying.
You either set your agenda, or other people will. And Jesus modeled this beautifully. Remember in Mark 1 when Jesus was out praying and His disciples said, “Jesus, where are you? Oh, there you are, Jesus. Listen, let’s go back into the town and pray. We can heal some more”, and what did Jesus say? “No. No. We’re going to another town. We’re going somewhere else”. So we have to make plans. The Bible says we should make plans counting on God to direct us. How many in here have a will? A last will and testament? Raise your hand.
Most everyone. We spend time doing that…last will and testament, but I want to ask you a question….how many of you have taken the time to sit back and write out your life’s objectives, your life’s goals? Most of us are more prepared to die than we are to live. Get away this week. Write out your agenda. Write out your goals. Adjust your priorities. The Bible promises us we should make plans counting on God to-direct us. Do you need a priority adjustment?