GROWING UP - Part
I was telling you about a young man that I had met, a psychiatrist. A young man in his forties, brilliant, brilliant person whose philosophy was to live it up; wine, women, song. He had plenty of money, consulting with some rather large corporations. A fervent, outspoken, opponent of the church. It reminds you of the Apostle Paul in the Bible who was breathing threatenings of murder against the church. That's the way this young man was. Then his little boy fell into a swimming pool, and he died, and this young man reached out an empty hand and asked God to help him, and invited Jesus Christ to come into his life. Do you know he’s a changed person?
I had a meeting with him because I wanted to find out just exactly what it was he was saying against the church. “What do you say? Would you be willing to take the next seminar you have where you oppose the church?”
He said, “I’ll never have another one.”
I asked him, “Well then would you have one with me where you tell me what you used to say?”
Well, we had that last Saturday, and you know he found it very difficult to even talk antagonistically. The man received a change of heart. I had the same experience. Hostile, bitter, lashing out against society, and one day I invited Jesus to come into my life, and it changed my life.
Changed part of my life because I experienced, after becoming a Christian inviting Christ into my life, that I still had some other problems. For example, during World War II, I was working as an engineer in a large company. There was a lot of pressure on us in this company, and I had a boss who was a very hostile, tough guy. He had the sharpest tongue you could imagine, and he had worked his way up from the production lines and now he was chief engineer. And he was sitting in this office out there in front of us, glass office, so that we could see in there.
Beside his desk he had a big round, rubber mat cut laying there, and in the middle of that mat a highly polished, brass spittoon. You see, he had brought this habit of chewing tobacco along with him as he worked his way up the production line up to the top. You would see him every once and awhile reach into his back pocket and take out that tobacco pouch, and draw the strings and open it up and he would work that tobacco…if you’ve ever known anybody that chews tobacco. And then he would take it and start filling his jaw with this tobacco, and then he would scan the room like this.
And when he did that, we’d all brace ourselves because we knew that somebody was going to get it, and I can still hear him. He’d say, “Brandt! Come here!” He made me so mad. Three words, that’s all it took, three words. I would be getting along fine and he would yell at me, and I would be so full of hatred and hostility. But you know what I would do? I would get up off my chair like this with a smile on my face, and I would walk into his office and I would say, “Yes sir?”
You know, he didn’t know how much I hated him. He really didn’t know. Now, you see what I’m driving at is last time I talked to you I was talking about one way of dealing with carnality, and that was self-expression. There’s another way, self-restraint. I couldn’t afford to tell him off. Oh, but I longed to, so I held it in. Our favorite subject at the lunch table among us engineers was how we hated him, that one of these days we would tell him off. We just loved to day dream about telling him off.
Have you ever done that? I had one lady that was telling me, “I even practiced telling my husband off, out loud, nobody around. Enjoyed it.”
I really hated that man. But you know, I began to study the scriptures. I was a Christian and I was concerned because, you know, I was taking it out on my wife, and I was taking it out on my little boy. We have a little preschool boy and I would say to him, I would come home all tensed up, and I would say to my little boy, “Pick up that toy.” Or some simple little thing like that. And if he didn’t do it right when I told him to, I would let him have it. I swatted him all out of proportion to what he did.
I was really starting to have some trouble. But as I searched the scriptures, I came across this passage of scripture. When I read it, I didn’t like it. I have discovered this: a lot of times, people don’t read the Bible because they don’t like it. Listen to this, this is in Ephesians Chapter 4, verses 31 and 32. “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.” When I read that, that burned me up. I said to myself, “What’s wrong with being mad at that dirty so and so anyway? When I think of the way he talks to me I’ve got a right to be mad at him.” That’s the way I felt about it. This verse, I didn’t like it a bit, and the next verse, this is worse yet. Listen to this, “Be kind one to another, and tenderhearted and forgiving, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Be kind and tenderhearted, and forgiving.
I’ve read that to people in the consulting room, and that made some people so mad. “Why should I forgive that individual?” Well, you don’t need to. Some folks say, “What?!? You expect me to be happy?” That’s an obnoxious idea, isn’t it?
You know, people come to me because they’re unhappy, and I tell them they don’t need to be unhappy, and they get unhappy with me. They came because they were unhappy. You know, sometimes we’re not so sure we want to draw on the resources that are available to us, and I wasn’t so sure I even wanted to like that dirty so and so.
But you know, really, when you stop to think about it, we all agree that what this world needs is more love, don’t we? I mean there’s nobody that differs with that idea. Nut really when it comes down to loving that person, I just didn’t want to. Anyway, in my fainter moments, I decided that this scripture was right. Isn’t that some conclusion to come to? The Bible is right, and I guess I really ought to love him, and so I’m going to, and I decided that I was going to love him.
I remember going to work, and I saw him take out that pouch and open it up, and work that tobacco and shove his jaw full, and scan the room and spit in the general direction of that spittoon, and seldom hit it. He said, “Brandt! Come here!” You know what? I was just as mad as ever. One thing that I found out was that I couldn’t make up my mind to love him. I could look like I loved him, I could put a smile on my face, but I had the same reaction, he made me so mad.
Maybe some of you have that difficulty. You’ve received Christ as your Savior, you’ve invited Him into your life, and you find these same kinds of responses. I kept searching the scriptures and I found an answer, and I want to share that answer with you. This is in II Corinthians chapter 3, verses 4 through 6. “Such trust have we through Christ God ward. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything is of ourselves.” That stopped me. I didn’t like that.
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything is of ourselves.” This Book is now telling me that I am insufficient, I am inadequate. And there are many psychologist and psychiatrists who talk negatively against the church because the church points out that that’s just the trouble. We tell people how weak they are, and how inadequate they are, and I wasn’t inadequate, I’m not inadequate.
There are a lot of things that I can do without God’s help. I got an education without God’s help. You know a lot of people don’t you, all over the country who got an education without God’s help. You don’t need His help to create wealth. Why, if you were to judge who God favors on the basis of who has the wealth, you would have to conclude that the people who aren’t Christians are God’s favorites. No, you don’t create wealth; you don’t need God's help for that.
I got a job without His help; I got some promotions without His help. I can live up to the etiquette book without God’s help. There are a lot of things that you can do without God’s help. I’ll have to admit that. But you know, a lot of times we quit reading the Bible too quick. But anyway, that stopped me, and I got to mulling that over in my mind about my own adequacy, and I think that is important for you to know where your own adequacy is, and what is it that you can do without God's help. On the other hand, what is it that you can’t do without God's help?
Finally, I got back to reading again. Let me read it again, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything is of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament. Not of the letter.” You know we can all live up to the letter of the law. You don’t need God's help to live up to the etiquette book, but living up to the letter of the law will kill you. That’s what it was doing to me.
You see, the etiquette book says, not only the etiquette book but keeping my job demanded, that I be decent to my boss. And so, even though I was just full of hatred, I could approach him with a smile on my face. You can live up to the letter of the law without God’s help.
For instance, all of us I’m sure can understand this. Have you ever had a grumbling kind of evening at your house, when the door bell rings? What do you do? I suppose you do what everybody does. You wipe the frown off your face, your wife wipes the frown off her’s, and on the way to the door, you warn the children, and then you go to the door and open it up, and you’re all smiles, and you say, “Come on in!” And they come in, and your wife’s all smiles, and you have a delightful evening together. Have you ever had that experience with company? Then pretty soon it’s time to say good night, and there you are standing in the door with your arm around your wife, waving to these people, “Bye!”
You look down at her, and she’s beaming up at you, and the man says to his wife on the way to the car, “There’s a happy couple. Why don’t we get along the way they do?” And you can be standing there and waving, and they pull away, and you close the door, and pick up right where you left off. There you stand behind that door and you look at your wife, and she’s a phony, and she looks at you, and you’re a phony. You have to face that behind that closed door. One thing that I want to emphasize here is that the Christian life is certainly not a matter of performing an act.
Anybody in this room, if you set your mind to it, that you’re going to be acting more like a Christian a year from now than you do now, you’ll probably achieve that goal. You won’t be any closer to being one, but you’ll look like it and you can sound like it. But the Christian life is not a matter of developing your acting ability. I don’t have any objection to rules, but you can live up to a rule without God's help.
It’s the spirit of the rule that you can’t live up to. That’s what it says, “We are not sufficient of ourselves,” in what way? Well, “He will make you an able minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit because the letter will kill you, but the Spirit will give you life.”
You know, I can remember the day when I went back to that engineering department and I saw my boss reach back into his pocket and open that pouch and fill his jaw, and scan the audience and I could hear him say, “Brandt! Come here!” just like always. You know what? I wasn’t mad at him. I got it through my head that where I was weak was in the Spirit, and I asked the Lord to help me do something that I knew that I could not do by myself. I couldn’t really love him, and the Lord gave me the power to love that man.
I even remember one fellow coming to me and saying, “Brandt, you seem to be happy lately. Are you?” Of course, that’s the way an engineer thinks. He didn’t want to take anything for granted. “You know, you seem to be happy, are ya?” Well that’s quite a question, and I thought it over. I was able to tell him, “Yes sir, I really am.” He said, “Do you suppose that you could help me?” Then he told me a sad tale of tension and difficulty between himself and his wife. I didn’t know how to help him.
I said, like an engineer, “Well, if you give me a few days, I’ll do some research and try and figure out what happened to me.” That's what I did, and one day I was able to invite him over to my house. I started in the Garden of Eden with that poor fellow. I told him all about Moses’ troubles and the king’s troubles, and finally got him into the New Testament and explained the Gospel to him, and finally dutifully asked him if he might be interested in inviting Christ to come into his life.
He said, “Man, I’ve been ready a long time ago.” My first convert. And I want to tell you, that changed his life. Some of you might realize that you have invited Christ to come into your life, and yet you’ve gotten other glimpses of yourself like I did here, and you struggle with it. I’ve been living the Christian life a long time, but I had an experience a while ago that I would like to share with you.
So you see, we’re talking about carnality. That is envy and strife and division. That kind of spirit captivating us; as against the work of the Spirit of God which is love, and joy, peace, and gentleness, and kindness, and long suffering, and temperance. You know, I go around the country teaching people how to walk in the Spirit, and teaching people something about family relations. This one time my wife and I were traveling, and we were in between family life conferences, believe it or not.
You know what? I think what I’m pointing out to you is the limitations of education. Imagine a fellow with my education, and my background and experience, and I’m going around to Family Life Conferences teaching people how to get along, and here I am going pell mell down the road in the wrong direction, getting madder at her because I’m doing it. Now isn’t it true that in a fit of temper, all your education, and all your training can get short-circuited, and you can act like a stupid fool? Anyway, away we went. And after awhile, now you can imagine how far down the road, this is three signs down the road. You know, we came to this sign, and it said the same thing, and you won’t believe this, but I spent some more miles trying to figure out how to get to Detroit without turning around. Now when you’re heading in the wrong direction, and you’re going full-speed ahead, and I could be talking to somebody right now, and you’re headed in the wrong direction. You’re going somewhere, and you know you shouldn’t be headed there, and yet away you go!
Now how do you get turned around? Well, you know, we have this concept that we call Spiritual breathing, and it’s based on a Bible verse. 1 John 1:9. Do you know what it says? If, IF. Now that’s a B-I-G word, IF…you confess your sins. You see, I can admit, have to admit, that pressure of facts makes me admit that I’m heading in the wrong direction. Who wouldn’t with a “backseat driver: in the car? You see, that’s not very repentant. But “if you will confess your sin, then He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” That’s what the verse says. Spiritual breathing simply means exhaling and inhaling, like you’d breathe air. Exhaling - confessing your sins. Inhaling - breathing in, expecting the cleansing and the forgiveness of God. And He promises us that if you’ll confess your sins then He’ll forgive you your sins, and cleanse you of all unrighteousness.
You see, I was carnal. Now you know, what were my sins? If I’m supposed to confess them, I have to identify them. There I am breezing down that highway, what were my sins? Well, there was some pride involved, wouldn’t you say? There was some stubbornness involved. There was some anger involved. That’s not a very pretty picture, is it? Not for a fellow going around to Family Life Conferences telling somebody else how to walk in the Spirit. Nut you know, it’s there, it’s there. When you’ve got a smudge on your face, you’ve got a smudge on your face, whether you intended it or not. And the quicker you admit it, the quicker you can do something about it.
This is now four signs down the road. You couldn’t have gotten me off of that freeway for nothing. My goal was to keep right on going. But do you know something? I breathed a prayer to God …”Oh God, I’m stubborn and bull-headed, and angry, and hostile, and I’m sorry, and I want you to forgive me, and to cleanse me.”
You know those are pretty rare words. You don’t hear those words very often, do you? Do you ever hear anybody say these days, “I’m sorry, and I’m wrong, and will you forgive me?” That’s pretty tough, isn’t it?
But you know, as I breathed that prayer, I also heard my answer, and what a relief to be able to admit that I’m wrong, and the peace of God returned to me. And you know what? There was no trouble in saying to my wife, “I am wrong.” I wouldn’t have said that a minute ago for nothing.
Now one of the easiest things that I had to do was to look for the next exit. Once I confessed my sins, and asked the Lord to forgive me my sins, and to cleanse me, and it’s just that simple.
And I could be talking to you, and you’re heading the wrong direction pell mell. How are you going to get turned around? Confess your sins, and He will forgive you your sins, and He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Well, that’s the way we do it, if we’re going to work together and relate ourselves one to another effectively.