John Fuller: Many years ago, a wise teacher approached Ken Davis with a suggestion…
Ken: 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.”
John: Well, we don’t know if he ever earned that set of lips for his varsity jacket, but we do know that Ken Davis took that teacher’s advice and has gone on to inspire thousands, probably millions of us with his wonderful sense of humor. And we’re gonna share some more of that with you today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus President Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, Ken Davis – he got that advice after being frustrated in his attempts to be an athlete
John: Like me.
Jim: Okay, but he desperately wanted to play football and basketball, but he was born with that curvature of both arms that made catching a ball very, very difficult – perhaps even impossible. And the point Ken is making is that as we try to get the most out of life, we often do that by trying to prove ourselves to other people.
And that is the – the epitome of humanity, right? Last time, Ken described a beer commercial that many of us remember which said, “You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto you can.” If you’re probably over 40, you remember that. And while that is true – God’s given us one life to live – and we know the answer is not found in alcohol or drugs or anything like that, but in living our lives to glorify God and to share His message of redemption and salvation with those around us.
Ken puts it this way: we should live like we have nothing to prove, nothing to hide, and nothing to lose. And if you missed part one of the message yesterday, get in touch with us. We can send you Ken’s complete presentation on DVD, or you can get a CD, or audio download, of our two-part broadcast.
John: And of course, you can also get the mobile app and listen on the go. Find all of these resources at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459.
And Jim, there were so many laughs in Ken’s presentation last time. Things turn a little bit more serious here today, as he shares a pretty vulnerable story of how his deep desire for attention in high school could sometimes come at the expense of those less fortunate than he was. Here now is Ken Davis on Focus on the Family.
Ken: I remember going to a church camp and you see, when you don’t understand the value that God places upon your life and when you live with the desperate attempt to prove your worth by some other means, then unfortunately, what we will often be willing to do is step on the carcass of someone else in order to lift ourselves up a little higher. If you don’t believe that, ask any young person sitting in this audience who attends a high school. It’s one of the cruelest environments on the face of the earth. I know; I went there. I lived there.
And so, when I got out of that environment and was in a new environment, where I wasn’t put down, where people didn’t know about me, where I wasn’t teased, I found someone to tease. And this little boy, who had a physical impairment and mental disability and he would walk across the – the campgrounds and I would follow behind him and mock the way he was walking. And I would lisp the way he lisped.
And a little circle of friends laughed. They thought that was so funny and I felt accepted by those people. Then I was unaware of the heart and soul of this little person that I was torturing. I was doing the very same thing that had been done to me, but as long as I was on top, that’s all that seemed to matter.
I would never have remembered this boy, except for one thing. The last day of camp, we were standing around in a circle with our little suitcases, the money we got back from canteen in a little envelope and – and our – our bedrolls were there, waiting for the buses to come. And I heard this young man coming. His name was Bernie. I heard him coming from way off in the camp somewhere. And he was yelling this, “Good news! Good news!” And immediately, my mind began to turn. I started to think, “What could I say that will mock this little boy? What can I say that will make my friends laugh one more time and remember me as the funniest guy in camp?”
But before I could think of anything, little Bernie broke into our circle there and with fire dancing in his eyes, he looked from one of us to the other and shouted, “Good news! Good news!” He said, “Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me.” I didn’t know what to say and before I could think of anything, he burst from the little circle and he – you could hear him going all over camp, going “Good news! Good news! Jesus loves me.”
I’m gonna tell you something. In that moment, Bernie, regardless of his IQ, understood what some geniuses have never figured out. He understood that he had nothing to prove, that Jesus loved him just the way he was.
There are some folks in the highest echelons of business today who work so hard, they hardly ever see their families, who work so hard that their marriage is at risk, who try to accumulate enough stuff so that someone will say, “Hey, he has value; he has worth. Look, he does have worth.” And he doesn’t understand, that person, what Bernie understands that it could all be gone tomorrow and he would still be as valuable as he can possibly be in the eyes of God.
I have good news today, folks. You’ve got nothin’ to prove. And any time you turn to a neighbor or a friend or a business associate or a schoolmate and you say, “I need to live up to their expectations,” that expectation is falling far short of what God’s ideal for you is.
You want to get all of the gusto you want to get out of life, live with nothing to prove. Let me tell you something. You don’t only need – not need to prove your worth to each other, listen to this now, but you don’t need to prove your worth to God. So many folks grow up in the church, trying to be good enough, so that God will love them, grow up in evangelical churches, where it is taught from the time you enter the door: “By grace are you saved through faith and not of works.”
It isn’t works that does it and we’re taught that. And then we keep trying to be good enough, so that God will love us, good enough so that He’ll send His blessing, good enough so that He’ll accept us and bestow worth upon us.
You know, sometimes I find the oldest and most familiar verses in the Bible to be the most comforting. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.” The Son of God came down here to live and to die for you, just the way you are.
You say, “How could He love me?” Some of you are sitting here today, “How could He love me? You don’t know what I’ve done.” I don’t; He does and He loves you anyway. You’ve got nothing to prove. Trust Him. Believe in His love. Accept the salvation that He has offered for you. Accept the grace and forgiveness that He gives to you and get on with your life, so you can – so you can live with the kind of gusto He created you to live with.
The second principle is this: you want to get all the gusto you can get out of life? Live with nothing to hide. You can’t run a good marathon looking over your shoulder. You can’t live a good life if you’ve got stuff in the closet. The Bible says that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
There’s two points I want to drive home here. Number one is this: there’s two directions you could go. You could say, “Okay, then I’m just gonna do anything I want. I will erase the whole moral thing from my life.” If you do that, you will destroy your life. You won’t even come close to the potential for which God created you. This is the most popular philosophy being espoused today, that any kind of morality is old-fashioned, that you can’t be everything you could possibly be if you’re dragging a bunch of moral rules along with you. And I’m telling you, that’s crazy. It isn’t true. It’s destroying lives.
Someone said this and I believe that it’s one of the most powerful little statements I’ve ever heard: “He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the sea.” You can’t go anywhere. You can’t do anything unless there are some guidelines in your life. And God did not set the guidelines He set in Scripture to destroy our life. He set them there to save our lives.
I’m a pilot. Last year I crashed my airplane in September. It was a perfectly clear day. I had been hunting. I had – I some of you don’t hunt. Bear with me. I got a big elk. I butchered it. I put all the meat in the back of the airplane and flew from the mountains down to the airport that I always use. And somehow, when the wheels touched the ground, I lost complete control of the airplane and it just cartwheeled down the – down the runway and ended up with one wing folded up over the top, the uh landing gear completely broken off. And I was unhurt. I stepped out of the airplane and – and I was standing on the on the runway. The emergency equipment, the fire trucks are coming up and up comes a big car that says, “FAA.”
You – you know what that spells: trouble. You are in big trouble.
The plane is sitting there, elk’s in the back and this – this FAA guy comes up and goes, “Are you okay?” And I, unfortunately, fell back on this gift God has given me.
I said – I said, “I’m fine, but I think you should check my passenger.”
Oh, I paid dearly for that. I just want to say, government folks don’t have a sense of humor.
When I learned to fly, they told me there were rules you had to obey in order to fly. And one of the rules was you never go into a cloud. If you go into a cloud, they say you lose your equilibrium. You can’t tell whether you’re upside down or right side up. I approached the whole thing with the whole attitude of saying, “This is ridiculous. Why would they want to res – have restrictions like this?” I used to dream about flying into clouds.
I got my pilot’s license. I rented an airplane and went cloud hunting – first day. I – I rebelled against the rules and said, “This is stupid.” Now I wondered a little bit, so I was careful. I found a little tiny cloud at first. And I – I backed off and I went into the cloud and came out the other side and it was kind of neat, because everything disappears momentarily. And then I came out the other side and it was like someone turned the lights on again. Oh, it was absolutely wonderful.
Soon I found a big cloud and I went close to the big cloud. And I didn’t want to – you just risk everything right away, so I just stuck my wing into the big cloud and I pulled it out. And it was right side up; it didn’t turn around.
So, I backed off about a mile and a half and got a run at this big huge cloud and I went in there and it was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life. My stomach came up and said to my throat, “How’re you doin’? Glad to know you.” You know, it was the most sensations I had never experienced in my entire life.
And then while that was happening, I looked over and I had some pencils and a book laying on the right seat. And the pencil and the book just came up and just they stayed there. They didn’t weren’t touching anything. I remember seeing the pencil turn slowly like that.
And then suddenly, it snapped to the ceiling like it had been drawn by a magnet. And I looked up to see the pencil on the ceiling. You know what I thought? I thought, “That’s why they don’t want us in here.”
They don’t want us to have any fun. This is the coolest thing that ever happened. That thing snapped to the ceiling and stuck on the ceiling and that instant, my airplane came out of the cloud and sometimes I tell you stories that aren’t even close to true, but I’m – this is a true story.
That thing was upside down and I called upon every bit of my training and released the control wheel and – and yelled, “Mother!”
Somehow the plane righted itself and I went back and I landed and I got out. And I went into the little place where they sign up and I signed up for instrument flight rules. The instrument flight rule books are about that thick and there must be seven or eight of them, filled with rule after rule after rule. And do you know, once I learned those rules and how to follow them, do you know what happened? I can fly anywhere I want. I can go into the clouds. I can fly 300 miles and when I pop out of the clouds, the runway I want to land on is gonna be right there.
John: Ken Davis is our featured speaker today on Focus on the Family, and we have a DVD of this presentation. We’ll send it to you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry by calling 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459. Or donate and request that DVD at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Ken Davis.
Ken: He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas. The pilot who says, “I’m gonna fly by the seat of my pants,” is a dead pilot. They will die. You fly by the rules. You believe the instruments. And that’s why God has put these things in place for us.
And when we get in trouble and when we crash, God doesn’t come to destroy us. He doesn’t come to put us in jail. He comes to rescue us and to put us on the right path.
Let me tell you something, friends, if you’re going to live life to your fullest potential, then follow the guidelines that God set for success in your life. Let me tell you something: every day there’s going to be a moral problem. Every day you’re going to have to look at decisions you make and say, “Is this going to be right, or is this going to be wrong?” But as a result of that kind of guidance, you can live up to what God created you for. The day that Adam and Eve decided that they knew more than God, the bar fell down to a place so much lower than God had put it. And we still suffer from that sin, but God says, “Come to me. You got nothing to hide. If you confess your sins, I will be faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”
Let me tell you something: when Christ could no longer carry the cross, they put it on someone else’s back and they took Him up to that place – that Place of the Skull. And there, this Man who never did anything wrong, was nailed to the Cross. And they picked it up and they dropped it in the hole and He died there.
I believe that what killed Him was what I did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. What killed Him was, He took upon His own soul, upon His own body, the guilt for every sin that’s ever been committed by every person sitting in this auditorium and outside of this auditorium and in the entire world. You think of the worst, most heinous crime – Christ took the guilt and blame for that upon His own soul.
And as He hung there between heaven and earth, every fiber of His flesh, every drop of His blood cried out, “Good news! Good news!” You’ve got nothing to hide. He took upon His own soul, upon His own body, the shame and the guilt that was intended for us, so that we could run free, so that we could move toward what He created us to be, so that we could know the freedom He intended when He first created us.
You want to live with the gusto that God intended? You want to be everything God created you to be? Then live with nothing to prove and live with nothing to hide. Don’t allow Satan to point his finger at you and cripple you with guilt, because Jesus died on the cross to take your sin away, to take your guilt away.
And if we could just trust Him and get rid of that guilt, psychiatrists tell us we could empty our hospital beds. Good news. You got nothing to hide.
The final principle is this: you want to get all the gusto you can get out of life? Live with nothing to lose. Isn’t it funny what we hang onto? What if God said to you today what if He came to you today and said, “Follow Me: I’m gonna show you what I intended when you were born. Come with me.” Would you be like me? My tendency would be go, “Wait, my house. Wait my career, I’m just getting started. I’ve got tapes to sell.”
We laugh, but isn’t that silly?
A story is told of a man who was driving his Mercedes and crashed it, rolled it and it went down a ravine and burned at the bottom of the ravine. And in the process, he was thrown clear, but his right arm was ripped completely from his body. And he stood, looking into the ravine. When the police got there, he was weeping. “My Mercedes! I had $50,000 worth of options on my Mercedes.” Well, he wasn’t gesturing with that hand, cause it was gone. It was this hand he was gesturing with.
And the police said, “You idiot! You need to come with us. You’ve been hurt.” He said, “But I – I spent $50,000. I loved that car.” And the police said, “Mister, your arm is gone!” And he said, “Oh, no!” and looked down for the first time. He said, “My Rolex where’s my Rolex?”
And we laugh and we laugh. But when you live with something to lose, when you hang onto what can never be yours forever, you lose the ability to be everything God created you to be. That’s what made the Apostle Paul so amazing. There was nothing they could do to stop him.
“You stop preaching. We’ll – we’ll beat you up.” Paul’s attitude was, “I count it a privilege to suffer for this Christ.” In our country, we don’t want to suffer for anything. We will avoid suffering at any cost. “I count it a privilege to suffer for this Christ.”
Well, how confounded were his enemies then? They had a little meeting. “We can’t give him privileges. What are we gonna do?” One of them said, “Let’s kill him.” So, they came back and said, “You stop preaching or we’ll kill you!” And Paul’s – Paul’s philosophy about that was, “For me to live is Christ and if I die, I get promoted.”
And they got together in a little group and they said, “Well, we can’t promote him. What are we gonna do?” They killed him. They killed the Apostle Paul and when they were done, they – they clapped their hands and brushed their hands off in celebration and said, “Let’s go get a drink,” thinking that they had just accomplished the best. They had stopped him in his tracks. But what they didn’t see was where what happened next. What they didn’t see was when Paul ran to his Father and for the first time, experienced a body without pain or hurt and saw God in all of His glory.
Three women walked along a road. The air was thick with dust. They could barely see. They did not converse. Occasionally, they would stop and one would break into tears. They were on a mission – a horrible mission. They were able to touch and feel and smell the worst evidence a human can have – that evidence that a friend has died, is gone forever. It was their friend, Jesus.
And they turned