February 27, 2004
What a joy it is, and what a privilege for me to share this message with you today! Way back during my collegiate days I had two friends from my dormitory named Frank and Steve. All three of us fancied ourselves to be poets, and we would get together in any one of our rooms at any time of day and proudly present to one another our latest poem. Over the course of living in the same dorm for a school year we had periods of intense friendship, as well as times when one or more of us was ticked off at the other or others. Sometimes a new poem would bring us all back together, and sometimes we would express our private beefs through the poems we wrote. Steve was upset with me because I broke up with a girl he thought I should stay with. Frank was upset with Steve because Steve was trying to horn in on his girlfriend. Then Frank and I started dating two girls that were friends, and Steve was mad at both of us most of the time.
For reasons that escape me, but seeking to share what God puts in my heart, I would like to share a poem from that period back between 1969 and 1970, when Joe Paterno was in his early forties, when Penn State's football team won 31 straight games without winning a national championship, when President Nixon launched the first draft lottery, and my number was 342, at which point I couldn't wait to get finished with my "college education".
Frank, Steve, and I
My friend Frank wrote this first line
My friend Steve wrote the second line
The title is my own
What do you mean you don't like the title?
Was it Bruce Springsteen (the Boss) that said back then, "Everybody's got a hungry heart"? I sure remember being hungry back then. Not just for food, although I was a prolific eater and still remember a contest I had with the girlfriend of one of the seniors in our dorm that was most admired as a stud-man. It started when the three poets ran into this girl who we all considered out of our league at 'Winky's' which was a fast food joint on College Avenue. One of my pals started bragging to this woman about how much food I could pack in, which was hard to imagine for a guy six feet tall that weighed about 140. This gal said, "I'll bet I can eat more."
Well, she was extremely shapely with not one extra ounce on her frame that any of us had ever noticed, so Frank said he'd pay for all the food if she beat me, and he whipped out his wallet. We started with a couple of Big Winks, which was like a Big Mac before they had Big Macs. Then we each ate a fish sandwich. Then we each ate a large order of fries. Then it was onion rings. We took turns naming what was going down, and Frank would go order two of them, and Steve was staring at the two contestants with a look of disbelief, as the 'babe' matched the skinny guy, bite for bite. After about seven or eight sandwiches and assorted sides, I was pretty stuffed, and wondering if this girl would ever be full, but no way was I going to let her humiliate me, so I maintained an air of, "Now that we've finished the appetizer, what's the main course?"
This was just a few years before eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia were in the news. I was truly amazed at the gastronomic prowess of this redheaded woman. Frank ran out of money, so Steve bought a couple rounds, and then announced, "Sorry folks, I'm tap city!" Finally someone blinked. My worthy opponent said, "Listen, Dave, you're really pretty amazing. I never thought you'd last this long. I'm still good for a few more, but we can call it a tie if you'd like and save ourselves a big belly ache later."
"You're pretty amazing, too, Jackie," I said. "It would be a shame if either one of us had to lose. So, we'll call it a draw," I said, reaching out my hand.
Whether it's one more helping of food, one more look at something you shouldn't look at, getting the last word in an argument, craving attention, or drawing out that morsel of gossip, musicians' appetites sure can get them in trouble. Jesus wants us to drink from His fountain and then go out and pour out His love on people, but often we are drinking from the wrong fountain, not understanding that we will inevitably be pouring out whatever we drink on someone, probably a whole lot of someones.
Enthusiastic people are like fountains. We are drawn to people who will speak positive ideas to us. We are especially drawn to people who will speak positive things about us. I'm offered countless business opportunities through the mail and internet that tell me a person with my outstanding qualities can't help but be a huge success in this mega-trend opportunity to get in on the groundfloor of a company that is creating thousands of millionaires who make more while they're asleep than the average blue collar worker earns in a lifetime. One of the tools used by these organizations is the "four minute sizzle call", a recorded message that tells you all the above and how you'll have your own "success coach" who will show you how to make thousands of dollars every week without ever having to sell a product (it sells itself) or get up early (you earn money in your sleep, and do the work in your spare time in your underwear.)
The people who are the most skilled at packaging these messages are in most cases very rich, because they're selling people hope, and the hope is that a hunger that exceeds even our hunger for food, companionship, and attention is being whetted. It's the hunger for success. Our education system is fueled by the hunger for success that practically everyone has. If you study hard, you'll make good grades and get into a good college, so you can get a good job, and make good money, and have a good life, and send all your kids to a good college.
Having been to college, I didn't see much of that. College for me was about poets trying to get girls to have lunch with them. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I found that love in Jesus Christ, nine years after my college graduation.
Can you believe what's happened to me/ Things ain't the way they used to be/ I found a love that never quits/ Upon His throne in heaven He sits/ Calling to me with HIs arms open wide/ To come to Him and sit by His side/ To be His lover til the end of time/ Amazed by His grace and drunk with His wine/ Oh oh oh! Oh oh oh oh!
He satisfies my every desire/ Soothes my soul and sets my heart on fire/ He lets me know He's my closest friend/ I found a love that never ends/ A burning love that thrills my soul/ A tender love that makes me whole/ A patient love that waits for me/ And draws me to His majesty/ Oh oh oh! Oh oh oh oh!
Now I'm so glad that He's my friend/ This is the love that never ends/ Yes I'm so glad that He's my friend/ This is the love that never/ Never never never/ The love that never ends!
One of the phases our church has been through between WWJD and the 'Purpose Driven' boom, is the 'Godchasers' craze. This was a good one before becoming a cottage industry with Godchasers daily devotionals for ADD adolescents and the Godchasers marriage retreat for lefties with eating disorders.
I think people hit on something that's real and good and then thousands and millions of people come running hoping it will fill their empty spaces and satisfy their hungers. A good way to open a meeting is to ask people, "How many here are hungry for God?" Do it in a loud enthusiastic way. Play with the audience, "Are you hungry today?" It's effective because we're all hungry all the time. But like me in college, (and since then, I must confess), sometimes we're too full of the wrong things to have much appetite left for God.
Here's where it gets good. God has a hunger that only you can satisfy. What?
God has a hunger that only you can satisfy. He is hungry for your love. Not to mark you down as someone who has trusted Him for salvation and promised and professed to love Him. He is hungry for you to want Him, to want His company, to be consumed with thinking about Him. Loving God means hating sin. Why? Because sin is something that gets between us and God. That's why satan makes it look so good, and tells you it's all right, go ahead, no one will ever know, and you deserve it.
Why does God want us to live a holy life? Because it means being together. Paul and Paula sang this song back in the early sixties, "Hey Paula/ I've been waiting for you/ Hey Paul/ I want to marry you, too." The song says, "True love means sharing a life for two/ Being together the whole day through/ True love means waiting and hoping that soon/ Wishes we've made will come true/ My-y love/ My-y love"
That's what God wants for you. If He has what He wants, you will be very, very, very, very happy. Jesus is the fountain Who calls us to come to Him and drink. The more we drink, the more we will pour Him out on everyone else He's calling.
We're encouraged in church to be a sponge, to absorb bible teaching. To fill our days with prayer, bible study, witnessing, worship, fellowship. Books are passed out filled with diagrams of how to be a model Christian. We heard submission and obedience are pleasing to God, so we do the exercises, but they don't fill us up, and we may be sorely tempted when satan comes offering a counterfeit or a relief from your frustrations and despair. We have deceived ourselves into thinking that God loves us for our devotion and obedience which in our own mind is never enough. We're drinking from the wrong fountain, and we will find ourselves surrounded by sponges who drink off our discontent or false piety.
Surrounded by sponges. Sounds like a nightmare! Unless... we choose to get more of God in our life by genuinely seeking Him-- guess what, we don't have to chase Him. He is not running from you. The bible says draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! James 4:8 tells us this, and indicates that this is the key to resisting satan, and leads to repentance. When we are faithful in our devotions but not connecting with God (and staying connected) we are stuck in a spiritual rut where we only have imaginary fellowship with God. We live a self-directed life that thwarts His greatest desire, your companionship.
I believe with all my heart/ That GOD is in love with me/ He longs to be with me/ For all eternity/ Earnestly He wants my company/ I believe with all my heart/ That GOD is in love with me
He knows I'm far from perfect/ So He's perfecting me/ In good times or in hard times/ He's always there for me (repeat chorus, with feeling!)
He's forgiven me/ He loves me/ With everything I've done/ He never turns His back on me/ He loves me as a son (once more with SELAH attitude!!!!)
Dearest musicians, I sang this song yesterday morning, and I sang it this morning. When I sing to God, as opposed to practicing songs I'm going to sing in church, repeat, when I sing to God, He shows up!!!! Having spent an hour singing to Him, it's easy to yield my life to Him, and write a newsletter that I'm confident will bless whoever reads it. Why am I confident? Because the One I'm hanging out with won't let me share anything that isn't built on His love for you the reader. This is a good time to be a sponge. It's good to be around people who love you. The ones who love you the most, that I would say have the "real love" are the ones who spend time with God, because HE IS LOVE!!!!!
Mac Davis sang a song, "Baby, baby, don't get hooked on me!" We get hooked on this book, or that music, or this preacher, or whatever. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and lately Michael McDonald of the telephone ads have it right when they sing, "Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby/ Nothin' like the real thing..." It makes James Earl Jones want to break dance, so you'll switch to Verizon. Songs are powerful, aren't they?
OOH, I'VE GOT YOUR PICTURE HANGIN' ON THE WALL BUT IT CAN'T SEE OR COME TO ME WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME (WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME) I REALIZE IT'S JUST A PICTURE IN A FRAME
How about this: I've got my bible in a bible case/ I go to church and even pray/ And listen to gospel tapes/ They tell me I can see Your face
Here's the "reality". God wants your love, the real kind. He knows, "Love...love will keep us together!" And together with you is where He wants to be. Come to Him and drink His living water. Keep on drinking that new wine. Eat His flesh. Drink His blood. Don't miss another opportunity to get closer to God. He's everything we need, and we are what He wants. Lift your hands in surrender. Do the same thing with your heart.
We're going to receive an offering after we make a few announcements. Will the ushers come forward? Sorry... I just thought about the girl that ate all the food and it made me think we can sit through a lot of church and never really have much of anything going on with God, and fellowship becomes like a fast food restaurant. And my two pals are watching to see who the winner is going to be, and paying for the entertainment. I better quit while I still have a few friends....Tee hee hee!!!
Here's the song to close the message, but I hope to hear from many of you and I really do have a couple of announcements (after the song).
Draw near to God/ and He will draw near to you/ Draw near to God/ And He will draw near to you/ Closer/ Closer/ This is the time/ The time to draw near to God/ And He will draw near to you
He is longing to be near you/ His love is so strong/ Come to His side/ And His love will overtake you/ His love is so strong/ And it's hear that you belong (repeat chorus)
You can listen to this song at http://www.mydaddylovesme.org/real/dntg_09.ram
That's Anthony Shuford on sax (awesome) Jason Daniel on bass, Tim Daniel, lead guitar, Julie Johnson, Donna Homes, and Vickie Colwill singing harmonies. I thank God for musicians. Have you thanked God lately for musicians? For making you a musician!!!!!
If anyone would like to receive a copy of "Draw Near to God" (10 songs) please mail anything musical such as a CD, tape, video, book to us, however God leads. Especially your music! Mail to PO Box 58, Springdale, PA 15144. Even a letter, sharing your heart. We want more of you. Do not, repeat, do not send money, (although the thought is appreciated.)
Also, we are pleased to announce the second annual New Kensington Inspirational Music Festival at Memorial Park will be held Friday night July 23 and all day Saturday July 24. If you would like to come and share original songs for our festival, please let us know ASAP. Last year we had musicians from Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Illinois, and Iowa, as well as many local musicians. We will do whatever we can to help you come and share, including providing lodging and a Sunday morning local church gig.
We're out of town til next Friday, but you can call us at 412-609-8543.
If you know a musician that needs to hear this send this message. If they hate it, it's my fault. If they love it, you're a terrific person. Even if they don't, I think you're terrific!!!!
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