It’s great to be with you, and I’m looking forward to these meetings together. A few years ago I got thinking, “What am I gonna do with my life? What am I gonna do with my time?” I decided a long time ago that I was gonna use most of my time to try to help people live a better life and draw closer to the Lord in the process. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. That’s one of the reasons why I ran into Mike Malone, and Mike was a tough egg, I tell ya. I mean he’s big, broad-shouldered, double-fisted.
I’d sure hate to get in the way of his fists. You now it’s incredible how gentle a big, strong, mean, nasty man like that can become. That’s a remarkable thing to watch happen. Now when people come to talk to me, I’m a professional counselor, I’ve never yet had anybody come and tell me they’re fed up with this good will and friendship that’s going on around the house. Everybody is cheerful and happy. What they’d like to know from me is how could they start a fight? Nobody has ever come to me with that kind of a problem. It’s always the other way around. We are not getting along with one another, and what can you do to help us do that?
Many people come and say they have trouble with their children. Almost every time that happens, I’ve discovered as I listen to their stories, pretty soon it becomes obvious that this man and his wife disagree on what to do with that child. That’s why I have to set aside talking about the children and now I’m gonna talk to them about themselves, as the husband the wife. Then I find out that these two people have personal issues that they have to deal with before they can function as a husband and a wife effectively.
So we have to set aside the marriage, and talk about the person. That’s how I want to proceed here this week. Tomorrow morning I’m gonna talk about mostly getting along with one another as a couple, and tomorrow night I’d like to talk a little bit about developing children from little babies into adults. People seem to have a lot of needs in those areas, so that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow.
You say you want to be the best husband you can possibly be; I can remember saying that to my wife. My late wife told me when we were courting that she was going to spend her WHOLE life making me happy. That’s what she said. You know, I believed her. I told her that I was going to do the same thing for her. I didn’t think I was lying, I think I meant it.
You know that whole thing blew up the first week we were married. We came home from our honeymoon, and I went out that night. I told her, “Look, I’m going out to do something that I’ve done for years. I’m gonna go see my men friends.”
And she said, “You aren’t going.”
Well, you might as well set her straight right now. Then I went to see my men friends. And we had gone skiing on our honeymoon, and so I was telling them about the good time we had skiing. And so we did something we had done many, many times, nothing unusual at all, we planned a skiing trip for the next weekend with the boys and me.
So I went home to tell my wife the good news. This is her first chance to make me happy, just like she said. I tell you, that wasn’t a very pleasant evening. You know, you can’t necessarily do what you think you ought to do.
One time I was working on a book, and I got behind, and so for 30 days all I did was eat, and sleep, and write, that’s all. Usually I do some little extra exercising, and I like to play tennis. I didn’t play tennis for 30 days.
At the end of thirty days, I took my good racket, my Addidas shoes, and shorts. I had all the equipment, and I had good intentions, and I meant to put that ball where I wanted to put that ball. When I went to hit it straight and hard and true, I discovered I couldn’t do it. My timing was off. So I tell myself, “Your timing is off.” You don’t just correct timing just because you tell yourself you’re gong to correct your timing. In about 15 minutes I began huffing and puffing, and my muscles began to ache.
You know what I found out? If you want to get out of condition physically speaking, you don’t need to do a thing.
Well, that’s kinda what I said to my wife. ”I want you to exercise for me for 30 minutes a day for a month so I don’t loose my conditioning. So do it.”
The only thing that would happen would be that she would get into condition, but she could not do that for me.
You know, if you don’t eat, you’re gonna go hungry. If you don’t sleep, you’re gonna be sleepy. And if you don’t look after your spiritual condition, you’re gonna grow cold, and you don’t need to do anything about it. Just don’t do anything about it, and you’ll grow cold, and you’ll have a cold heart long before anybody else is affected by your cold heart.
The point I’m trying to make is that there are some things that you have to do for yourself, and if you don’t do them, you cannot perform the way you want to perform, no matter how much you want to do it. You’re not going to be able to do it.
I remember I had a boss, I used to be an engineer a long time ago, and these are the early days in my Christian life, and this boss, he was a mean guy. He had started out in the shop where they chewed tobacco, and so now he’s the chief engineer, and he’s got this glass office so he can look out at us, and he brought with him a highly polished brass spittoon to this office, and he had a big rubber mat cut about that round, and that was on a rug, and this spittoon was sitting in the middle of this rug. We would see him open … ever watch a guy get ready to chew tobacco? It’s kind of a ritual. He opens his pouch and he works the tobacco, and shoves it in his jaw. It looks something like this…
While he’s chewing that, he’s working in some more, and takes another three fingers and puts it in there. When he’s doing that, all of us fellows in the engineering department knew that somebody was gonna get it. And then he’d go (bplew) in the general direction of that spittoon. He seldom hit it, but that’s why he had the rubber mat. Then I’d hear, “BRANDT!” That’s all it took was one word. I’m getting along fine, perfectly happy, and it only took one word, and instantly I was mad from head to foot! Have you ever had that happen to you? One word, that’s all it took.
Well, when you’re mad at your boss, how do you approach him? If I told him what I thought, I would have solved my problem. You understand, I wouldn’t be there. I can’t do that. So I learned to look like this. This is what mean, nasty people look like, and I would go into that office. You know he didn’t know that I was contemplating his teeth. I would be polite, “Yes, sir.” “Yes, sir.” “Yes, sir.” Now, listen.
All of us can act like that, can’t we? You know folks; the Christian life is not a matter of perfecting your acting abilities. That’s not the Christian life. But isn’t it a frustrating thing when we consider that the Christian life is a matter of controlling your anger.
So we swallow our anger, and we call that Christianity. All that is deceiving people, isn’t it? The Christian life is not a matter of perfecting your acting ability. So I became all tightened up, and then I’d lash out at my wife. I’d lash out at some of my friends. My little boy, my little, tiny, three-year-old boy. My little boy would look up at me and he’d say, “No!” That little boy would make me mad, instantly. A little tiny, three year old boy. Then I was going around angry. I was just a victim of other people’s choices, so I started searching the scriptures for an answer, and I came up with a Bible verse.
I want to show this to you because other people have told me that they’ve struggled with this verse, too. I don’t know what you think of Bible verses, but when I studied this one, I didn’t like it all. This Bible verse made me mad. It’s in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 31. This is what it says, “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you.” Now all those things applied to me. Anger, wrath, bitterness, clamor, evil speaking.
Our favorite subject around the lunch table was how we hated that man. We would spend our lunch time griping about the boss.
The next verse is worse yet. “Be kind to one another.”
When I talk to people, they come in and they tell me about their problems. I say to a lady, “Tell me about your husband.” She’s ready. I mean she would spew out stuff about him, and I’d say, “You don’t have to be upset over that.” And she would say, “WHAT!?!” Isn’t it amazing what other people can do to you? To talk to that lady about being nice to her husband. ”Why should I be nice to him? He doesn’t deserve it.” So I’d tell about my boss.
That’s the way I felt about my wife. I even tried to justify it when I wrote on my little ball. “Be kind one to another, and tenderhearted and forgiving one another.” That sounds like a sissy, doesn’t it?
Then one day I decided that the Bible was right, and I wasn’t gonna act like that any more. I don’t know about you, but when I make up my mind to do something, I usually carry it out, don’t you? So I decided that I was gonna quit being mad. Then I went to work, and I’d see him loading his jaw. Somebody’s gonna get it. And he’d say, “BRANDT!” … and it was me.
You know what? I was as mad as ever. I found out that I couldn’t make up my mind to stop being mad at him.
So I’ve had this problem with Christianity. This is telling me to do something in the first place I don’t want to do, and all of a sudden I decide I’m gonna do it. This book is telling me to do something I can’t do. That’s exactly the thing that the book wants to make us understand, isn’t it? That we are sinful people, and out of control. Many times mainly what controls us is somebody else’s choices, and you can be instantly furious. I think that’s where a lot of your child abuse comes from.
I don’t think mother is trying to figure out how to beat her kids, I think there has been many a mother, and many a father, who’s already hit their kid before they even realized that they did it, because they’re out of control.
Well anyway, I kept searching the scriptures, and I found a passage of scripture that changed my life and changed my profession. Let me read it to you. It’s in 2nd Corinthians chapter 3, fourth and fifth verse. “Such trust have we through Christ toward God, not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think that anything is being from ourselves.”
When I read that, I didn’t like that either. That’s not true. Let me read it. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves.” Which is saying you haven’t got it, and I say that’s not true, I do. There are some things I can do for myself. I’ve got an education all by myself. I didn’t have to look to God for an education. The university is loaded with people getting good educations. They don’t need God’s help for an education. I got a job without His help. I got some promotions without His help. I could obey the etiquette book without His help.
Listen, there are indeed some things that you can do without God’s help. Then I kept reading: “Who also has made us ministers of the new Covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit because the letter will kill, but the Spirit is life.” Did you get that? You can live up to the letter of the law. I can’t bottle up my anger, and not do what I’d like to do; part of the time I can do that. What I can’t do is live up to the spirit of the law. To treat you in a kindly fashion, I can do, but to have a kind spirit behind my kind deed is not possible without God’s help. You have to make your decision between acting, and being. I got that through my head, finally.
One thing I could not do was to manage my soul in the presence of my boss when he yelled at me. I had to realize that this is an issue, this is tough. I wanted to tell that guy off when he’s yelling at me. If I knew where to go to find love towards that dirty dog, I wouldn’t even want that. This is something that we all have to face many times. You don’t even want to be loving under certain conditions. This is something I struggled with for quite awhile. Wanting to love him when he hollered at me, and wanting to be compassionate toward my wife, when she won’t do what I ask. That’s tough.
You know, I finally got to a point where I realized that I’m actually helpless. I may be smart, I may have some training, I may have some education, I may have some resources, but I’m not able to manage my spirit when my boss hollers at me. We all have discovered that when got married, didn’t we? The things that our partners do to us. Just like that. You know the people who think that marriage makes lovers out of you are single people. Isn’t that true? Marriage will bring you up-to-date on what’s in your heart. If marriage doesn’t do it, parenthood will.
So, if you pay attention, at least that was true with me, I realized that I simply can’t manage my soul. Finally I asked the Lord to give me love for that man while he was yelling at me. I can still remember going to work that day and there he is….filling his jaw, and he goes “BRANDT!” You know what? I wasn’t mad at him. I got so I enjoyed that old crab. I got so I got a kick out of him, really! You know one of the fellow engineers that I worked with approached me one day, and he said, “Brandt, you seem to be happy lately. Are you?” I didn’t know, I didn’t say anything to anybody. That’s what he said.
When you’re talking to your friends, you’re not gonna take anything for granted. “You seem to be happy lately. Are you?” Like the two engineers riding a train and one says, “Look at those sheep out there, they’ve all been sheered.” The other engineer says, “Well at least they’ve been sheered on this side.” You’ve gotta be careful.
Well, he said, “You aren’t entering into the gripe sessions anymore.” It was true. He said, “Can you help me?”
I didn’t know hardly what happened to me, much less helping him. Anyway, that’s what I did.
I said, “No, I’ll do some research. And I tell you what, I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks, I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. It’s been working for a couple of weeks.”
When I went to study my Bible, I discovered that if I’m gonna help him, I had to point out to him that he was a sinner, and needed a Savior. I didn’t want to do that. Anyway, I worked out something, finally. He kept after me, and I was trapped one night, very reluctantly, I really didn’t want to do this.
So I started out in the Garden of Eden with him. I got into some of the problems the kings had, and the prophets, and I threw in a few curves. You know, I’m getting closer and closer to the New Testament. Really, I felt so uncomfortable telling him that Jesus died for his sins, and I even put it this way, ”You wouldn’t want to accept Him, would you?”
You know what he said?
He said, “I was ready an hour ago.”
That was my first convert. That changed his life, changed his marriage. This is an amazing, unbelievable thing to me that people could change like that.
Now I want to call your attention to a few scripture verses, statements that Jesus made. Let me just read you a few verses: John 13:27, this is Jesus speaking. What difference does that make anyway what Jesus said? Anyway, this is what He says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give unto you.”
He’s saying there are two kinds of peace. This is Jesus who created the world. He says, “There are two kinds of peace. My kind and the world’s kind, and I don’t want you to turn to my world that I made for peace. I want you to turn to me. You see, I mean for you to be peaceful people. It means relaxed, and at ease, and comfortable. I mean for you to be peaceful people on this earth.”
Further, He says, “Let not your heart be troubled, or neither let it be afraid.”
The picture He’s making here is His intention for you and for me is to allow Him to make you a peaceful, relaxed, comfortable, untroubled, unafraid person in this world.
I’m amazed as I travel around what low level of Christian living many people are willing to accept. People are always telling me how troubled they are. We even get together and form groups to share how miserable we are with the children. We don’t mind being miserable. In fact, sometimes if people don’t notice that they’re miserable, you will let them know that you are miserable.
Can’t you see I’m unhappy? Isn’t that right? We actually want people to know that we are unhappy. Some of us say to our children, ”Will you behave? You make me unhappy, and I’m unhappy because of you.”
That’s what we say to our children sometime, isn’t it? “Look at me; I’m miserable because of you.” That’s really confusing, especially if you’re confusing Christian education. “You are the cause of me not walking in the Spirit.”
Well we are that way anyway, are we not? What difference does it make that Jesus said that we ought to be peaceful, relaxed, in a troubled world? Untroubled in a troubled world, and unafraid. That’s what Jesus said He means for you and for me. In this world, today. You know, on that sense about Jesus talking with us, I was reading this one time, I was reading in John chapter 1, verse 10. It says this about Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Isn’t that amazing?
He was in the world, the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. And He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him. Imagine that.
Well, I got to thinking about the interaction that I observed sometimes when our children were home. Our children are grown up and gone now, but when they were home, and they were teenagers, they would approach my wife and me and say, for instance, “Can we go to that party on Friday night?”
So my wife and I would get together and talk it over. Now she was the world’s greatest expert on the subject of our three children. Nobody in the world cared as much about those three children than her, or knew as much, or invested as much time in those three children as that lady. But I think that I’m a close second to that, and besides I’m a professional child psychologist.
Now you’d think the kids would be thrilled at such a high-level meeting. Hey, that’s security isn’t it? Imagine the two people in the whole-wide world who care the most about me are bringing their finest judgments together for my benefit. What a wonderful situation that is. So we would give them the benefit of our judgment. “No, you can’t go.”
Of course, those are psychologist’s kids, and so they would say, “Well, father, when we think of your qualifications, and your commitment, and your dedication to us, and we know you want our best for us, we’ll be delighted to stay home.”
Do you believe that? And it’s a lie! Can you imagine talking to a professional child psychologist like that?
“You can’t do that to us! Everybody we know is going, we gotta go. Can we go?” That’s how they would approach us.
This is after our finest judgment on their behalf. We would say, “No.”
“Dad, you’re gonna make a freak out of us. How are we gonna explain this to our friends? Can we go?”
We would say, “No.”
Then they would back off, regroup. Then they would come back at us and say something like, “You know dad, we’ve been suspecting for quite awhile you don’t love us. That’s the trouble around here, there’s no love around here. If you loved us, father, you would let us go. Can we go?”
And we would say, “No.”
They’d take another angle. I mean people are determined, aren’t they? You know what’s true about people? “All of us like sheep,” this is Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, and we have gone everyone unto his own way.” That’s what people are like. The sweetest music to anybody’s ears is, “Let’s do it my way.”
Obviously that’s the way to do it. If you have to decide between having things your own way, for example, and having a smooth or rocky marriage, you’re gonna have things your own way and let the marriage rock. That’s the way we are.
So they come to us and say, “You call yourself a Christian. Well, if you’re a Christian, deliver me from Christianity. When we get old enough to make up our own minds, we will never listen to a church-goer again, it’ll be your fault. Can we go?”
You know folks; there were times when our children were convinced that my wife and me were their worst enemies. There were times when our children demanded the right to be wrong. “This is my life, I can do what I want with my life, can’t I?”
There were times when my children demanded their right to go to the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong crowd. This is my life! That’s the way our kids responded sometimes to the finest judgment we could come up with.
They didn’t mind us feeding them. They didn’t mind us housing them, or clothing them, or giving them transportation, or giving them medical attention, or giving them dental attention. They didn’t mind benefiting from being a member of the family; they just didn’t want to be involved with the people who ran the family. We’ll take all of the benefits of being in this family, but …
I often hear people say teenagers need attention. And so we pay attention to teen-agers. “Where are you going?
That’s attention. Listen, they don’t want attention. What do they want? They want what everybody else wants. They want to do what they’re going to do, and they’re gonna do whatever they have to do to get out. That’s the only thing they’re concerned about.
So how can I accomplish what I want to accomplish? That’s the only question a lot of people have, isn’t it? That’s normal. That’s human nature, that’s why we need a Savior to correct that drive within us to have to have our own way.
So many of us have the same approach to God. We are in His world. We don’t mind being in the world, do we? We don’t mind benefiting from being in this world? When some of us who’ve traveled overseas, we come back to this country, and we realize what a wonderful, magnificent country this is. With the benefits that we have, you would think that the people in the United States would be the happiest people in the world with all the benefits they have. For instance, I remember just landing in this country and driving away from the airport, and feeling those smooth roads. All of the wonderful things, we just take those things for granted. That’s our right, isn’t it? Isn’t it our right to have all of these things?
I remember one time I decided out of the goodness of my heart to give the fellow that works for me a raise, just out of the goodness of my heart. This was his reaction. “Well, it’s about time.” He didn’t appreciate that raise. It’s his RIGHT!
So that’s the way we approach the world sometimes. We have every right to benefit from this world, but listen; don’t ask me to get involved with the Creator of this world. I don’t mind enjoying the creation. I don’t want to get involved with the Creator.
“And so He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
Have you ever come home and your wife received you not? That happens, doesn’t it? The thing I want to call your attention to tonight, just to whet your appetite a little bit. We work so hard to acquire the things in this world. What we bypass, often, is what Jesus really wants to give you, and that is peace in your heart. Well, a lot of us, if we can’t have our own way, the last thing we want is peace.
“If I want it peaceful, I’ll never get what I want. If I’m gonna get what I want, I’ve gotta let people know that I’m miserable. What can I do to make my children happy?”
There’s nothing you can do to make your children happy. You’ve got the idea that if you buy them something, that’ll make them happy. You give them their own way, and that’ll make them happy. Do you realize that joy is a fruit of the spirit? Only God will put joy in their hearts. That’s true of you, too, but some of us …
”I know what I need is an addition on that house.” So some of you, you’ve got your addition, haven’t you? What do you do? You move yourself into your additions from where you were.
One time I was introduced, I was at a banquet for businessmen, and this talented lawyer was introducing me. I said, “How come you’re introducing me?”
“Let me tell you how I got here. I was a football star in high school. I loved it. When I got my diploma, I thought to myself, “Unlucky fellow, there must be something more to life than this.” Then I was a football star in college, and I went to Yale University, and I benefited from the cheer of the crowd, this big stadium at Yale University. When I got my diploma, I said to myself, “There’s gotta be more to life that that.” I went to Harvard Law School. When I got my diploma, I said to myself, “There’s got to be more to life than that.” The thing that finally got my wife and me, we got to build our dream house. We’re talking about a million dollar house. When we went into that beautiful house and said to ourselves, “Is that all there is?”
I lived in West Palm Beach. In Palm Beach is some of the most expensive real estate there is, and there are some very affluent people who live in Palm Beach.
One of these couples came to see me in their condominium, and they drove up in two cars: a Mercedes Bends convertible and a Cadillac. The reason they came in two cars was because they couldn’t stand each other in one car. Boy I tell you, that’s one of the benefits of wealth, that you can afford two cars. They lived in a professionally-decorated, color-coordinated home. You never saw a prettier place to be miserable in. I tell ya, if I’m gonna be miserable, I’d rather be miserable in a place like that than a little old house. At least you can turn to your surroundings for your misery.
Listen, they did not come to tell me that they owned all those things. What did they come to tell me? They came to tell me that they were puzzled. “What do you have to DOdo to get along? We’ve run out of things to buy. We’ve run out of places to go. What can we do?”
That’s the real question, isn’t it? He said, “We even ask ourselves, ‘What in the world can I do to be more comfortable? What in the world can I buy that will make me more comfortable?”
You can do a lot, for instance, in this world. You can loose yourself in a book, you can loose yourself in music, you can loose yourself in pouring out your heart to a counselor, and I’m one of those, and I tell you, if you come and spend an hour with me, and I’ll help you go away feeling a lot better than you did when you came. Just you and me. We don’t need to talk about God at all.
You can loose yourself in your work, you can throw yourself into your yards, and do your yard work. You can swallow things.
In my teen years I was a heavy drinking kid, and angry at the world. I discovered that if I took a couple of good drinks, I started liking people. Wonderful, just a couple of drinks, and I’d change from being an angry guy to being a nice guy. A couple of minutes ago, I was punching and kicking, and a couple more drinks I’d consider you my friend.
You know one of the things that people do in our world to try to find contentment and peace is to turn to alcohol. That’s one of the fastest ways that I know of for you to calm down. Listen folks, it’s also the royal road to destruction. The biggest social problem we’ve got is alcohol. Drugs? Listen, if you have a need, all you’ve gotta do is swallow a drug. If you’re down, have you ever been down? When you’re awaking, have you ever said to yourself, “Oh, no, I woke up.” All you gotta do is take an upper; you’ll feel a lot better. Do something with chemistry.
What in the world can you do? There are a lot of things you can do in this world to find some relief.
Jesus said, “I don’t want you to look into the world for peace, I want to be your peace, and I want to give you an untroubled heart, and I want to fix it so you can be in this world unafraid. That’s what I mean for you.”
When we think of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, God means for us to be jolly, happy, easy-going descent people who turn on, and on, that’s what we have as the essence of Christianity. The strength to do that comes from Him.
Now you’ll have an opportunity. You can think about this a little tonight, I hope. You come back tomorrow. Tonight I’ve been talking pretty much about you. I want to really talk about getting along with one another. We can’t talk about getting along with one another unless you have the strength to do it. So, if you want to get along with one another, you’ve got to pay attention to yourself, and prepare to do that. So that’s one of the things I hope we can accomplish. Give you a little clearer picture of yourself.
Instead of asking, “What in the world can we do?” We’re going to ask ourselves, “What can God do for us to enable us to be the kind of a person I ought to be?”
Now my boss can yell “BRANDT!” all he wants to.
I was talking to a lady last week who was really mad at somebody who lives 2,000 miles away. She worked herself into a frenzy over somebody who’s 2,000 miles away. I said, “That’s dumb. There isn’t anybody here. You’d have to travel 2,000 miles away they don’t even know that you’re around.”
Imagine punishing yourself like that. We do that, don’t we?
The fact is that nobody can stop you from turning to God for help. On the other hand, nobody can make you, either. This is one time when you’re truly independent.