Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] Joy’s a more powerful motivator than fear. So I ask you, what’s your joy?
Richard’s wife called me one morning. “Richard,” she said, “Richard just won’t get out of bed. He’s depressed.” So she handed the phone to Richard, and I talked to Richard for a few minutes on the phone. I took a little bit of time but I talked him through the problem that he had that was keeping him in bed. He had some stress. He was a little bit worried about things going on at work and in his life and it just overwhelmed him and he just didn’t want to get out of bed. We worked it through. He eventually got back to work and got back to normal.
That phone call in that incident made a real deep impression on me because I never had one like that. And the man wouldn’t get out of bed and I thought, “Wow, that’s, you know, everybody wants to get out of bed every morning and get on with their life.” And for a moment, he’d lost his purpose. But when I reoriented him, showed him that he did have a purpose in his life to get out of bed, well it helped him.
You know it taught me a lesson that life works best when we have a purpose, when we have a reason, the goal to get out of bed. It’s pretty simple really. Have you found your purpose? Have you found meaning in your life? Ask yourself why do you get out of bed every morning and hopefully, you make your bed and don’t leave it rumpled like this one here.
But why do you get out of your bed every morning? Or like Richard, if you happen to be like him sometimes, you might not want to get out of bed and you stay in bed. Why would you do that? You find the reason. You get out of bed every morning and it can change your life. You find that reason to get out of bed every morning and you can help somebody else change their life. You find the reason to get out of bed every morning and you can make your life work the way God intends your life to work. That was a big lesson that I learned talking to Richard. You find the reason to get out of bed to get to your day and then you have a key to making your life work.
Years ago in my own life I found the key to life with purpose and meaning. It was shown to me, it was taught to me, and I found it. I came to understand that there is a God, but that God speaks to mankind through this book, the Bible. And I came to find and to realize by trial and error in some ways in my younger years, but it taught me that God’s way does work, a very simple formula. God’s way works.
And so for many years as a pastor and as a teacher I’ve been sharing those principles with people, with people in congregations around the country, in classrooms as well. You see people that I’ve worked with and myself, we have a spiritual reason for getting out of bed each day to help make life work. When you find that you’ve got the key.
Do you know something? I’ve got another reason to get out of bed every day. It’s one of those physical goals. We all have to have short-term physical goals in life as well. I want to tell you about that. I want to tell you what that short-term physical goal is. But first let me walk you through a few points about making our life work, making your life work at the highest level possible.
You see when we talk about making life work we’re talking about usually in one’s life beginning to make a few changes, adjustments, and alterations that come along. Making change at any time in your life when you recognize you got a problem you’ve got to correct. That can be hard, right? How many times have we started to make a change and, “Oh I can’t do that or it hurts,” or something happens, and we get sidetracked?
When it comes to aligning your life with values, with principles, and with laws, that’s really what we’re talking about when it comes to making life work. We’re talking about having a purpose and a goal. And through all of this as I’ve worked it out in my own life, I’ve learned one key principle I think that can help all of us understand that life can work better and we can make those changes, those little alterations that come around if we understand this. Here it is. Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear. Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear.
So I asked you, what’s your joy? What brings joy to your life? What makes you happy? What makes you get out of bed every morning? Find that reason, you can change your life. Find that reason, you can help somebody else change theirs. You find that reason, and you can begin to make your life work as God really intends it to work. When a person finds that reason, I found it, several of us here probably have as well, it gets to a point where we then have to understand what that joy factor is in life and it motivates us.
Let me share some thoughts with you as we deal with this and as we work it through. One of the things we have to come to in our life is we have to find a reason to live beyond ourselves, for something or for someone beyond our own self. We’re all tied up with our own selves aren’t we? Sure we are, to one degree or the other. We live in what they call a narcissistic culture.
You’ve seen people taking selfies of themselves. You go to some historic site, you go to some fabulous natural scene where tourists congregate, and you see people with their big sticks out there and there are cameras on the end of it taking a picture of themselves so they can post it on social media. They’re looking more at themselves and want to be in the picture than what might be the real story behind all of that. We’re fixated on ourselves.
The idea of a narcissistic culture comes from the Greek mythology of Narcissus, who’s such a beautiful, beautiful person. Everybody fell in love with him and he wouldn’t commit to anybody and they just destroyed themselves in despair. And ultimately he fell in love with his own image as he looked at it and stared it, and he fixed only on himself. And through the years that’s entered into our culture where we have this self-centered narcissistic culture about ourselves, and it’s inbred within us. One of the cases we have to, at some point begin to get our mind off of ourselves and onto others. That’s one of the keys. The Apostle Paul talked about this in 2 Timothy 3:2.
He was talking about the conditions of what he called the last days, the time that we’re actually living in. And one of the things that he said in 2 Timothy 3:2 was that men will be lovers of their own selves, lovers of their own selves. Nothing describes the type of culture that Paul is describing as narcissism where we fall in love with our own self. And today’s culture is designed to turn our view inward upon ourselves. And do you know what happens when we focus only on our self, our happiness, our goals, our problems? Well we get crushed under the false hopes, the false expectations, and the false dreams of what this modern world promises but can’t deliver on. And when that happens, every one of us is prey to the further traps of addiction or abuse, or other problems that come upon us when we’re focused only upon ourselves.
One of the things that I learned a few years ago that really helped me to focus on this was this. I was in a health club where I used to live, and I’d go in there several times a week. And when I’d go into the health club there was a gentleman there that was pumping iron. And he was kind of scary-looking. He had tattoos all over his body. He had piercings all over his face. When he was pumping the iron he was just pumping away and grunting and making all kinds of noises and his rather fearsomely, he looked kind of scary. I wasn’t in there to do that. I went to go swim and take a sauna and whatever. I said, “I think I’ll stay clear this guy.” I called him tattoo guy because he was just all over with tattoos.
One day I came out of the shower and I turned down to the little cubicle area to my locker and guess who was next to my locker? Tattoo guy. I thought, “Oh, boy, I’m scared.” I got there and I started to dress, and tattoo guy turned to me. He said, “How are you doing?” I said, “I’m doing fine.” So we had a conversation and he began to say, “Man I had a great workout today. It really went well.” He says, “This is what really keeps me from shooting up and doing drugs.” I said, “Oh, yeah?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “I’ve been through addiction counseling. I’ve been in prison. Nothing worked to keep me off the drugs except pumping iron here.” I said, “Really? What got you into that?”
He said, “I was in prison and my eight-year-old daughter came to visit with me and looked at me one day and said, ‘Daddy, I’m tired of visiting you in prison.”’ He said, “That got me just like that.” He said, “I didn’t want my eight-year-old daughter saying that anymore and so I started pumping iron. And that’s the only thing that keeps me off, that and my eight-year-old daughter, because I don’t want to disappoint her.”
You find someone or something beyond yourself to live for, to work for and you’re beginning to find a key principle to what makes life work. And that understanding is how to make life work as part of a foundation of a happy and successful life. What we’ve done is prepare a Bible study aid to help people understand how to make life work and this guide really offers some very practical, easy to apply principles to give all of us purpose and meaning to get out of bed every day.
Those of you that are watching you can get a free copy of this by calling the number that’s on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv and downloading it, and get your own copy eventually but start marking it up. It’s going to really help you and help us. It’s helped me as I’ve even looked back over this booklet in preparation for this talk here today.
Remember I said that joy is a bigger motivator than fear. Making life work begins with finding a reason to live for someone or something beyond ourselves. And joy is found in something or someone beyond us. Let me show you how this works, something I learned again by talking with people who struggled with life’s challenges. Over the years, I’ve talked with people who’ve struggled with alcohol abuse, obesity, sexual sin, depression. And one of the things I’ve learned is that people live the way they do at times with those addictions to deal with pain and the troubles of life. It may be physical pain. It might be emotional pain. It might be rejection or lack of confidence or even spiritual pain, seeking some purpose and meaning.
And as a counselor, I’ve learned that helping people manage their lives out of problems is a long and sometimes rocky road. It doesn’t happen overnight in every case. It’s not easy. It takes years. I’ve had some successes and sometimes you didn’t have successes with people. But what I’ve learned is this, that when you tell people who are depressed, who are hurting, who are lonely that they should quit something that they like because it’s hurting them, addiction, too much alcohol, eating too much, abusive behavior. It doesn’t always work that way.
Do you know why? Because people drink too much alcohol because it helps to drown the pain of life. People smoke cigarettes, I found, because they like them. It helps to take the edge off of a rough life. People even go to drugs to cope with deep disappointment and hurt from things in life. And the way out of that takes something far beyond just telling them to remove it. They have to be convinced that joy and happiness is a bigger motivator than fear.
In researching this I ran across an article in the “Atlantic” magazine that explains this. It focused on an area of the United States where this problem is kind of zeroed in. It’s actually not too far from where we are here today. And this author went and interviewed people in this city and county in this region where a lot of people are addicted to opioids and interviewed people and talked with them and wrote up her experiences here of what caused people to get on to some of these dangerous drugs.
And it wasn’t always because a prescription given to them. It invariably happened or began when there was something missing within them, some hurt, some disappointment. She quotes one individual here who kind of fortunately got out of the problem but this individual had been raised in an abusive type of household, orphaned at age 12 because her mother overdosed. And as a result she felt depressed, discouraged, lonely, abandoned, unloved, and confused. And when a friend offered her a Percocet it helped to numb the pain. And she went from there to other drugs, marijuana, and even alcohol, and cocaine to numb the pain.
People engage in destructive behavior looking for something missing within their life. This is what the author found out here and she put it in very plain speech. She said, “Opioids acquire their dark power when they keep souls from throbbing.”
People are crippled by emotional pain and the cigarettes, the drugs, the alcohol helps to fix that emotional problem. And therapies work best, solutions come better, when they find that the way out begins with a path filled with joy. Joy is a bigger motivator than fear to help people deal with some of these issues.
Let’s talk for a moment about change to a better working life. Is it gradual or does it come all at once? As I said earlier I have had successes in helping people. Usually it takes a bit longer but I’ve also seen a few people who made a quick turnaround just like that, wrap it overnight almost, resulting in positive benefits. And that runs up with the biblical message because when you read scripture, God basically says, “Flee immorality.” He says, “Flee addictive behavior.” To a woman who was taken in adultery, Jesus said what? He said, “Go and sin no more. Stop it. Go, turn your life around.”
One night I had a telephone call from a gentleman that I knew and he said, “I need to talk to you quickly.” I said, “Okay. Come on by.” About an hour later, he showed up at my front door and he knocked on the door. I opened it. It was raining that night, and, yeah, it was dark and rainy night. He was wet and he looked dejected and he came in. His wife had caught him in adultery. He’d been having an affair and she said, “You either stop this, or I’m out the door.” I think what she told him was, “You’re out the door.” I said, “Well, you better listen to your wife. Here’s what you need to do.” He went home and he did it. He turned his life around very quickly. He saved his marriage, earned back the respect of his kids.
Change always works better if we can change quickly and move on to a better life. Christ said that He came to give us an abundant life and when we find that door through that, it helps us to get it together in a far better way. Christ said that, “I am the door, the Shepherd, the door of the sheep. If anyone enters in by me, they can be saved.” He said, “I’ve come that they may have life and they might have it more abundantly.” Now that’s a very important thing to understand. Joy is a bigger motivator than pain.
The principles that we bring out in this booklet, “Making Life Work,” really speak to that principle of joy being a bigger motivator than fear because it walks us through marriage, having a happy marriage and certain keys, working better with our children, developing solid, healthy friendships, getting our financial house in order. There’s a lot of great practical information in here and it’s a great place to begin for all of us. A lot of reminders as I said, looking at this, it helped me to orient a few things in my own life.
I encourage you to pull out your copy of it, or get a copy of it and sit down with your own children, or if you’ve got grandchildren who may need a few pointers in this direction, you’re a grandparent, sit down with your grandchildren. Go online to beyondtoday.tv. Download your own copy or get your own by calling the number that is on the screen, “Making Life Work.” It helps to begin to get us to that point in life where we can begin to make certain changes that get our lives aligned in principles. Joy can motivate us to change into behavior that makes our life work.
Here’s another example that I learned in looking at this. Let me give you an example of what all of us would dread. The one diagnosis, the one phone call we don’t want from a doctor and he says, “You need this operation. You need heart surgery,” for instance. Or, “You’re going to not live.” You go through bypass surgery. Here’s the question. Will you change your lifestyle? Will you change your habits that lead to the coronary disease?
I’ve dealt with a number of people through the years. I’ve been at their bedside when they’ve gone through those surgeries and help them to deal with the shock and the aftermath and then moving on to their lives. And I’ve wondered about that. What would I do? How would I react to that? Do you know something? Statistics show that people normally do not make lasting changes to their lifestyle that got them into those problems. Most patients they find out, nearly 90% of them after two years beyond the heart surgery, they returned to their old habits. They just can’t find the permanent way to make the change in their behavior. And what they found is that 80% of healthcare costs are usually caused by five different issues, smoking, drinking, overeating, stress, and lack of exercise. Things that we have control over, things that are hard to change.
And yet I saw another study with an interesting approach, an insurance company that pays the bills on all these things. They did some positive behavioral training with people who gone through surgery like that. They found that after three years 77% of the patients stayed with their lifestyle change because they reshape their behavior to a more positive approach. It’s about changing the way people lived, and showing that by tangible day-to-day actions you can actually feel better about yourself, feel better in living physically.
And what it comes down to is basically reframing the way you look at things and your own life. It’s a way of what God calls repentance. God calls it repentance when it comes down to behavior that actually breaks down the relationships of our life. We change because we see that it will make us feel better, think better.
Again joy is a more powerful motivator than fear. You find the reason to live beyond the moment, beyond today. You find the reason to live for a better life ahead and ultimately for a better world to come, and then you’re on the path to making those changes and living a life that does actually work according to godly principles.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus Christ said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” All things, all these things, He said. What was He talking about? Well He says, “Most people worry about life.” He said, “Don’t worry.” You can’t do anything about a lot of the physical things that blind us, that actually hide us to a spiritual dimension. He said, “Don’t worry about those things. They can be taken care of. Don’t overly obsess over them.” It’s another way of saying joy is a bigger motivator than fear.
It comes down to the fact that joy of life helps us to understand the larger purpose in our life. When I learned that as a young man, when I focused on that Scripture, “Seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things will be added to you,” that created a fire within me and a passion that really is still there, and it can do the same for you.
You see years ago when I was a young man I learned certain spiritual teachings of the world to come, of an age to come. It was called “The Vision of a Wonderful World Tomorrow.” And when I learned that it began to make my life work. You know why? Because I grew up at a time that we call the ’60s, and there were a lot of pitfalls in the 1960s of drugs and sexual freedoms, and ideas that were there just to entrap and to ensnare and to kind of veer you off in a different lifestyle. And that vision, that teaching, helped me to change my life and kept me out of certain swamps and certain pitfalls.
It was a vision of God’s kingdom, and it became a spiritual DNA and it really gave my life a spiritual exclamation point. What I like to call creating a fire within me that was important to sustain and to help. And when that happened it began to reframe my life at an early age and that’s what I’ve been helping people to teach, to see, and to understand. And it matches up with every study that you would find, every type of article that would help to bring people to reframe their lives on this particular question that they need a purpose in life. They need a spiritual goal. They need fellowship. They need religion. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that they need God.
And people who are connected spiritually to God into a purpose in life, they’re going to be closer aligned with those keys that make life work. Again that’s what we’ve brought together in this booklet, “Making Life Work,” making your life work at the highest possible level that you can possibly imagine. You want to make your life work? You can. You can find the principles that will help you get out of bed every morning. This booklet, what we offer is free. It’s not going to cost anything. You can download it at beyondtoday.tv or you can call the number on your screen.