Ken Davis: If it is true that we only go around once and if it is true that we want to get all of the gusto out of life, that God created us for abundant living and we want to know, “How do I live to the fullest,” then how do we do that?
John Fuller: Well that’s the question we’re gonna tackle today. How do you live life to the fullest? And Ken Davis will be sharing some really deep insights and of course, some great humor along the way, as he always does. This is Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus President Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, we all want to live exciting lives, and as you’ll hear in a moment, the media really takes advantage of that, and uses that desire for excitement to try to sell us on all kinds of things. And I think the people who are most susceptible to those misleading messages are teenagers. They absorb a lot of media, and they tend to believe what they see and they take it at face value. And today’s speaker is going to offer a different perspective.
So I’ve got great news for parents here as we get into Ken’s message, if you find yourself wishing that your teen could hear it, just get in touch with us, because we have it on DVD in addition to our usual CDs and audio downloads. Your teen won’t be able to resist Ken and his sense of humor, and they’ll be catching some godly principles at the same time.
John: Yeah, listen with your teen or watch that DVD, and with that, here’s Ken Davis on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.
Ken: Thank you. For those of you who have never heard me before, I think it’s important to set the stage, so that you understand what’s going to happen. Uh, I’m not right.
There is something basically wrong with me. God made me this way, so that I would have something to do.
I’m reminded of a little story that sort of explains it for you. There was this little boy that was born and when he was born, his parents named him Odd, O-D-D. And the doctor snickered and he went out into the hall and he told the nurses and the nurses began laughing in the hall. And when the little boy started grade school, he got teased unmercifully. He couldn’t even hold a job as a young man.
And finally, at the age of 58, he turned to his wife one night and he said, “I’m sick of this.” He said, “When I die, I do not want my name on the tombstone. You put the date I was born, the date I died – that’s it.”
About 10 years later, he passed away and true to his wishes, his wife bought a beautiful tombstone and put on it only the day he was born and the day he died. But even to this day, as people walk through the graveyard…
…They look down and go, “Isn’t that odd?”
Tonight we’re going to be talking about getting all you can get out of life and there’s still some people who try to convince me that travel is the ultimate – the ultimate test of joy. And I’m here to tell you it is the ultimate test. Things have changed dramatically. I’m here to tell you, it has gotten almost unbearable.
The other day I stood in line for two hours to take a 45-minute flight. Now I believe in security. I really do, but common sense would be a great part of it. Two hours for a 45-minute flight. And then I went through a portal of some kind and there was a little Darth Vader guy on the other side of the portal. He took a wand and went, “Vhoom, vhoom,” all over. “Vhoom!”
He said, “Put your luggage on that table.” I’m not kidding about this, folks. And he opened my luggage and he went through every tiny bit of my luggage. I have pills that I take. I have seven little compartments with five pills in each compartment and he opened each compartment and I’m not kidding you. It’s hard to be Christian in those moments.
And he opened each compartment, all seven compartments, and then he dug a little further and came up and you could see this look on his face. He had found a little pair of fingernail clippers and he said, “What are these?”
I said, “Those would be fingernail clippers.” He said, “What are you planning to do with ’em?” I said, “I was thinking that maybe after four or five hours, I could work my way through the skin of the airplane with them.”
That’s the wrong answer, by the way.
He said, “Take off your shoes and I want you to go back and put your shoes through.” This is a true story; I’m telling you, true. So, I had to go back after two hours and put my shoes through on the belt. And he said, “Take off your coat; go back and put your coat through.” I thought, “I think I’ve offended this man.”
I put my coat on the belt and the coat went through.
He said, “Come over here. Sit down.” He said, “I want you to roll your socks down.” This is truth. He said, “Roll your pant legs up.” And then he took his little wand and on the bare flesh of my legs went, “Vhoom, vhoom, vhoom, vhoom!”
I held my composure. But I leave here tomorrow at 7 in the morning. I’m going to airport naked.
(LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)
I’m getting dressed on the other side of the portal and I guarantee you I won’t have to wait in any line. First person I tap on the shoulder’s gonna go, “No, just go ahead. You just go right on ahead.”
Years ago, there was an ad on television. Some of you may remember it. Some of you may not. But it expressed what advertisers in today’s age try so hard to express – to help people capture what that one element of living is that will allow you to live to the fullest potential for which you were created, to get every ounce of joy and vibrance that you can possibly get out of life. It’s why some people run. It’s why others seek fame or fortune, to try and discover that one thing that’ll bring joy and happiness and help you be everything that God created you to be.
And in this particular ad, there were four or five young people riding a catamaran. How many of you know what a catamaran is? It’s two canoes, tied together with a trampoline. Has a big mast on it. Have you seen have you seen a catamaran? It’s one of the fastest sailboats on the face of the earth. It goes faster than just about any other sailboat.
And the purpose of a catamaran, the objective of the person driving it, is to tip it up so that one canoe comes completely out of the water, and thus the friction is less, and then you lean way out over the water, praying fervently that it will not tip over, and it cuts through the water at tremendous speed.
And these kids are riding the catamaran and this was the message that older people may remember it. You younger people won’t – this will make no sense to you to start with. It went like this: “You only go around once.” How many of you recognize that? “So you want to reach for all the gusto you can get.” Do you remember that? Yeah, “You only go around once and you want all the gusto you can get.”
Now I want to talk about those two things for just a second, because those two statements are absolutely true. They are true. They are true statements, designed to get us to listen to the message that the advertiser was trying to get across. Every person sitting in this room, according to Scriptures, is appointed to live once and then to die and then to face God.
The New Age philosophy says that you might come back, you know, as a fly or depending on how good you lived, you might come back as something else. I’m here to tell you, you aren’t coming back as a brick. We get one chance at life and deep down inside, no matter what people say they believe, deep down inside, they know it’s true. We have one shot at this life. There are insurance salesmen in this building who make a excellent living, a worthy living, helping people prepare for that. And their message is exactly the same. You got one shot at it.
That’s why the choices that young people make are so important. That’s why the choices that we make each day are so important. That’s why need to live each day to the fullest for which God created us.
John: Ken Davis on Focus on the Family and this reminder that you can get a DVD of this complete presentation – it’s probably the best way to appreciate Ken and this message – for a gift of any amount. Just donate when you call 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459 – or make that donation and request the DVD at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Let’s go ahead and return now to Ken Davis.
Ken: Then the second half of the message is this: so you want all the gusto you can get and it’s our tendency to think, “Well, no, no, no, that’s not a Christian thing. Gusto isn’t a Christian thing.”
God never intended for this life to be a waiting room for eternal life. The blessings that God intended for us, some of them are available here for us today. And then someday we’ll see what He really had in mind when He made us, when He created us.
The Bible says, Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and that you might have it in the most boring mundane way that you can possibly imagine.”
Is that what it says? No. I grew up believing that. I grew up believing, “If it’s fun, it’s wrong.” I thought God’s job was to stand up in heaven somewhere and go, “Behold.”
“Ken Davis, haveth fun? No!”
And there’s a couple of you that still believe it and there’s some of you that are unwilling to trust God, because you think He wants to tear the joy out of your life. He said, “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly, that you might know what abundant life is.” He created you for great purpose, for great meaning in life.
Now, immediately, we add all of our own agenda to that, “Well that means I’ll be very wealthy,” or “That means I’ll be very famous,” or it means “I’ll succeed in everything I do.” And God says, “No, my abundance goes beyond that, it’s about a relationship with Me. It’s about becoming not only everything you can be on the outside, but becoming everything you can be on the inside.”
So, the advertisers grabbed a hold of two truths and they paraded them out in front so they could sell a product. How many of you remember what the product was? It was beer. You only go around once and you want to get all of the gusto you can get out of life. So, drink our beer. Give me a break! At 16-years-old, I knew that was wrong.
I was no idiot. Okay, I was an idiot…
…But I wasn’t really an idiot. I knew that wasn’t right, because I had eyeballs and ears. I just observed what was going on around me. I never – my lips never touched alcohol as a boy. You say, “Oh, you must have been a good little boy.” No, I had a father. And my dad used to say, “Come here.” And he’d get that far away from me and say, “Breathe upon me.”
And I would breathe on him, “Ah-ha.” And then he would get up off the floor. And he would say, “If I ever smell alcohol on your breath, that will be the last breath that you take,” and I believed my father.
So, I became what was known as the ‘designated driver,’ before the designated driver even existed. I was The Guy. “You drive!” And I watched what would go on. I had a friend one time sitting in the backseat. He drank a bunch of beer and then some hard liquor on top of it and we’re driving home. He’s on the football team and he’s laying in the backseat doing this calling out, “Mommy! Mommy!” And then he yelled to us, “Oh, stop the car!” We stopped the car. He leaned out and got sick, as sick as I’ve ever seen anybody. Shut the door, drove down the road, “Mommy! Oh, Mommy! Stop the car, stop the car.” Open the door, he got sick. That happened five times. The fifth time, I turned around to look, because I knew he didn’t have nothing left. I fully expected to see his tennis shoes come shooting out of his mouth.
On Monday morning on Monday morning, we used to hang out in the locker room. And he comes into the locker room. He looked – his eyes looked like two burnt holes in a blanket. And he goes, “Oh, you should have been with us Saturday night. Did we ever have a blast.”
I was 16 and I figured it out. This is stupid. If that’s fun, I got a cheaper way to do it. Sneak out behind the barn and go (vomiting sound).
It isn’t about beer. Then the question is: if it’s not about beer, what is it? You don’t get gusto out of life by drinking beer, any more than you get gusto out of life by eating watermelon or sugar snap cookies or a banana. In fact, it has the potential to destroy your life. But they tied two truths together.
If it is true that we only go around once and if it is true that we want to get all of the gusto out of life, that God created us for abundant living and we want to know, “How do I live to the fullest,” then how do we do that?
I’d like to propose tonight that there are three biblical principles that we can live by. And if we live by those principles, we will get a taste of what God intended for our lives. And this is the first principle. The first principle is that we live with nothing to prove.
I wonder sometimes how many lives are wasted, how many young lives are wasted, how many teenagers waste their life, desperately trying to prove their value to their friends. How many adults pass up opportunity for witness and opportunity for integrity, because they want to prove their value to their friends? And how much of our value is wrapped up in what people think of us? And we’re so afraid to stand up for what is right, because this group of people or that group of people may not accept us.
I don’t know how many teenagers are here but I wanna tell ya something. Something that saddened me all the years I was in youth work and saddens me today. And that is that many times we will come up through grade school and at about the fifth grade we begin living our lives, not for what God intended, but for what those people around us want. Trying to prove to them that we have enough worth to be part of their group.
And here’s what I want to say to you, teenager: the day you graduate, the day your fingers touch that diploma, those people that you have lived for will disappear from your life. I don’t care what’s written in your yearbook. For the most part, you will never see them again. And so, you have a choice now to either live to the potential God created you for or live down to expectations that don’t even come close to what He intended. Live with nothing to prove.
Most of you know my story. I didn’t always stand in front of people and speak. I grew up in an atmosphere where the athlete was the one who had the power and I had no athletic ability. I have the hand-eye coordination of a carp.
Do you know what a carp is? It’s a fish with lips – with human lips, not fish lips. If you fall into a pool of carp, you will be hickied to death.
There’s a young man back here going, “Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
Couldn’t play football, couldn’t play basketball. And I felt, “What do I have to offer?” What is there that I have to offer? I had a person point their finger at me – a substitute physical education teacher – when I was a senior in high school, after he did a hand-eye coordination contest, and he said to me, “You will never amount to anything,” because I couldn’t catch a football.
I had curvature of the bone in both my arms. I couldn’t bring my arms together to catch a football. And I remember vowing, “I will be an athlete. I will be an athlete. I will be an athlete.” It’s never gonna happen. It is never gonna happen.
What value do I have? I remember another moment, a moment when I was supposed to be kicked out of a class and I had to sit in front of the teacher for about 20 minutes, while she corrected papers. And when she finished correcting her papers, she folded her hands together and caught my eye and she said, “Kenneth Altheus Davis,” and I had never had my full name pronounced like that, but what disaster didn’t fall. I thought she was going to expel me. I deserved it. And she said to me, “God has given you a gift.” She said, “Now you’re using this gift to destroy my class.”
She said, “That’s gonna change.” She said, “I want you to go out for speech.” I said, “Speech, you’ve got to be kidding. All my friends are walking around with letter jackets that have macho symbols on em – hockey sticks, footballs. I will not walk around with a set of lips hanging off of my jacket.”
“God has given you a gift.” Instead of me, living up to some short expectation, she pointed me to an expectation that God had. She saw that God didn’t create me like I am for no reason. She made me go out for speech – humorous interpretation. They don’t invite me here because I’m a great preacher, but God gave me a gift: the ability to make people see what nobody else can see, the ability to make people laugh, to plow that ground and then and then, insert what I only know to be the truth – the only thing that makes joy meaningful.
And that is this: I got nothin’ to prove. I know people that have spent the majority of their lives, trying to prove to their business acquaintances, to a father or a mother, that they have value, that they have worth. And I’m here to tell you that your value was established forever on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
You can’t outweigh that! And it doesn’t matter whether you’re gifted athletically. It doesn’t matter whether you have a high IQ or whether you struggle to understand some of the simplest concepts. It doesn’t matter whether you can throw a football 150 yards, or you have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time. It doesn’t matter whether you can run a marathon or you have to sit on the balcony like me and just yell, “Go!”