A Fruitful Life

Two months before sharing this message at Kingdom Fellowship Weekend, Brother Mark Yoder was struggling to breathe in the Covid unit of a Costa Rican hospital. God answered many prayers to restore him to health!

Brought back from the brink of eternity, Brother Mark gives an impassioned call for men to dedicate their youth for what’s truly important in life. There’s no honor or glory in just following the crowd. Aim higher!  Strive with all your heart to fulfill your unique mission from the King!

Sometimes we can feel that our life’s ‘unchangeables’ hinder our usefulness, but the secret to fruitfulness is to “be what Jesus would be in your body.” And “If you are what Jesus wants you to be right now, there’s no telling where He’s going to take you in the future!”

The Kingdom of God is people! So how we care for people is of utmost importance. Learn how to use difficult relationships as priceless opportunities to grow in being like Jesus.

The future of the church depends on young men who embrace the joy of giving their all for Christ and His Church! Young men who are outstanding in their values. Young men who are prepared to endure suffering in the advancement of the Kingdom. Rise up, O men of God!


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Transcription:

I count it a privilege to speak to you young men. I still feel like I’m a young man, but when I look in the mirror, it doesn’t quite look like it. You know, young men, your life is before you. Brother Dale read that verse about God’s call. God has called each one of you.

You probably have thought of this – you are all unique. There’s never been another person exactly like you. In all the thousands of millions of people, no one has been exactly like you. There never has been and never will be. You’re unique. You have connection with people; you are friends with people. You have connections here, connections there. There’s no one exactly like you.

And there’s only one life. Only one time. How did Brother Phil say last night? On the gravestone there’s a date here and a date here, and the dash between. We’re in the dash. And you only get one time at it. Only one time. And it’s up to us. It’s our choice, it’s our decision what we do in our life. Before you were born even, God had a purpose for you. The one thing is your physical body – you were born of mom and dad – the physical body. And this is a mystery, but when the conception happened in your mother’s womb, God decided the person He put in there. The one thing is your body, and the other thing is your person. You are unique. You’re a person. And like Dale said, you’re called by God.

How would it be like if – I was going to say the President of the United States, but I’d like to maybe change that – if someone like that would say, “Hey, I need you! I want you!” I’m trying to think of another name I could use because I’m not sure if I’d want to be called by the President of the United States. But if someone in importance says, “Listen, you!” That’s the way it is. In your circumstances, in the body He gave you, the family He gave you, the place you are, God says, “You! I need you! I want you!”

And it is a challenge. It is a wonderful thing. Only one time. I want to encourage you young men to go at it with all your heart. Give it all you have! Just make sure you do the right thing, but give it all you’ve got. There’s only one chance. One opportunity. You are called by the King of kings. How will I live it? That’s my choice.

I’d like to encourage you to give it all your energy, but to the Real Cause.

(We can get sidetracked, and we’ll talk about that in a little bit.)

Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Timothy 4:12. This is a verse that’s directed to Timothy, but it’s directed to the youth and to us. What if we’d all stand and read it together? We’ll try to read it slowly and read it together.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Have you ever felt that someone despises you because you’re young? Have you ever felt you almost resented that someone didn’t put much importance in you or sort of neglected you? We understand that. But do you know, the most serious thing is when you yourself neglect your youth, when you yourself don’t put importance on your life. We have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 4 weeks in a month, 12 months in a year, and how many years? We don’t know. We don’t know. 60 years? 30 years? 64? I was in the Covid ward. I committed it to the Lord. I thought this might be it – 64 years, when I move on. It was a good experience; I worshiped God through that. But we don’t know how many years we’ll have. You don’t know how long your life’s going to be.

But I’d like to challenge you that the joy and the thrill is to give it all I’ve got for the real cause. What if you’d come to the end of your life and feel like you’ve wasted your life? You’d feel like, “Uggh, if I could just do it again!” We’ve all experienced that on short-term experiences. We feel like, “Uggh, I blew it. I should have done something differently.” But now, we’re looking at your total life, whatever that is. Maybe 30 years?

A young man, a good friend of mine – I think he was 32 or 33, and he discovered he was full of cancer. The doctor said it was too late. He was one of these tough guys that didn’t want to admit that he was sick, and he didn’t go to the doctor till it was wa-a-ay too late. I told him, “Some people live 50 years, 60 years, and some live 32. Get ready to die.” And he did. It was a beautiful experience, a beautiful experience. He got ready to die, and just the day he died, I asked, “Alexis, are you ready to go?” He was struggling to breathe, but with a smile on his face, he said, “Yes, I’m ready to go.” He was only 33 or so.

We have no idea how many years we have. But if you want to live your life to the fullest, and do the right thing, do it now. Don’t wait for later. Do it now. Be an example of what a believer of Jesus Christ is like.

Sometimes we wish – and I understand; I did that too – sometimes we wish we had a different circumstance. If I would only have different parents or a different church. If I’d have a different body. If I would be just – anything that’s not just me. But you know, that’s not the issue. The issue is God made you the way you are and put you where you are, and the thing we have to each do is say, “What does God want me to do? Right here, what does God want me to do?”

In a group like this, I don’t know where all you are from, but God designed a purpose for you, right where you are. The future we don’t know. I’ve been through things that when I was young I didn’t know I was going to be in there. You don’t know what all is coming.

But right now, give it all you’ve got. Go full for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be an example.

I think I said this the other day, but in the beginning of my time in Chachagua, and starting to make friends in the town there, it was new people, and I was making friends. I had this problem that because I have blue eyes and light skin – the light skin was not as much on my mind, but my blue eyes gave me away. I tried to speak Spanish well enough that they couldn’t detect it, but that’s hard to do. But I was looked at as a foreigner. I still am, because of my blue eyes. I could tell you where I was driving an old Land Rover, and I said, “Lord, I wish – why didn’t I have brown eyes, so I could hide a little bit, and not look as much like a foreigner.” (You know, it’s not always the best thing to look like a North American. I just threw that in for an extra.)  But then, it was like the Lord spoke to me. It wasn’t audible, but He said, “Mark, just be what Jesus would be in your body in Chachagua. What would Jesus be with blue eyes in Chachagua?”

And now change that for you. Your body – you know, the body we have is fascinating when you study the DNA. The possibilities in DNA is incredible. Did you ever study that? The possibilities! It was designed – the nose you have, the hair you have, the mouth you have – big or little. Sometimes our weight issue we have a little bit to do with that, but the body I have, so many things about us was designed. We had nothing to do with it. What does Jesus want to do in YOU? Do you wish He would tell you?

Hey, Jesus what do you want me to do? I was just thinking about that the other day in Chachagua. Maybe it was after my Covid experience, I was thinking, Am I doing what God wants me to do? Or am I wasting my time? We don’t know the future, and that’s not the important thing right now. Right now, where you are, there’s something for you to do right there! And give it all you’ve got!

If you have a struggle with your father or your mother, if you have a struggle getting along with some ministers or some other people – people at the job, well right now, one of the best things you can do is learn how to relate well to that person.

Years ago before I was married (well, I was going to get married), I was working with a man. He was a nice man when we were off the job. He treated me great; we were good friends. But on the job, I don’t know if it was a medication he took or what. He was an older man. He would get all worked up, and he’d yell at us workers. I never had people that yelled at me like that. He’d yell at me, and sometimes his demands were unreasonable. I think it was partly because of a medication he was taking that got his nerves all worked up. But anyway, I was not used to that. He couldn’t stand to see any of us workers — We were working at a sale barn, and at a sale barn there are a lot of things to do on sale day. He would want this, and he’d come out and he’d yell at us to do this and put us to things.

Sometimes he wasn’t even reasonable. And the workers would grumble and complain. But I thought, Hey, this is an opportunity. I’m going to take this opportunity to learn how to respond like Jesus would. One day he asked us to wash a truck, and it was cold. I mean, (you get cold weather up here, don’t you?) It was pretty cold, and he asked me to wash a truck with cold water, and the other worker said, “How in the world does he do that?” I said, “I’m going to do it with all my heart.” That was such a wonderful experience.

One time there was a place to crawl down underneath some scales. Some of the other workers said, “I’d never go down there. There are rats down there. I won’t go down there.” Well, he asked me to go. I think he thought I would. And I did. In the name of Jesus, here we go. Down underneath there and doing some difficult things. You know, that became a wonderful experience for me. He’d yell at me. But I decided I was going to use that as an opportunity to become like Jesus and to grow, doing things that –

And you know, when I left — (After we were married then, I left and went back to Costa Rica.) When I said, “Good-bye” to him, I cried more in saying good-bye to him than I did to my own father-in-law. Because that type of relationship of submitting to him and honoring him, and just doing it with joy, did something between us. (Chuckle.) It’s interesting!

If you have a difficult circumstance, look at it as, this is an opportunity to develop what Jesus wants to develop me to be.

You think your father is hard to live with? That’s a good question. Who is hard to live with, you or your father? (Chuckle.) We won’t get into that. But what we need to look at is, whatever the difficult circumstance is, you can develop the ability — 

I remember another time I was working with a man that was hard to work with. He would just constantly be picking at me, and telling me this, and correcting me, and correcting me, and correcting me. It was just sort of hard to work with him. Then again, the Lord brought that thought: Hey, this is an opportunity. I’m going to do it with joy. I’m going to humble myself, and just enjoy myself, and do everything he tells me to do. Do the best I can.

So wherever we are, wherever you are right now (I’m not talking about sitting on the bench here), but when you get home, right now is a beautiful place for you to develop the character of Jesus Christ in your life, and become an example of the believers. A believer is a person who believes in Jesus and imitates Jesus; he’s a disciple of Jesus; he becomes like Jesus. So right now, where you are, you make that your goal: I’m going to develop to be like Jesus. And when unreasonable things come to your life or difficult things come, you say, “Ok.” Every time something difficult comes, say, “Ok, here’s my chance; here’s an opportunity to develop the character of Jesus.” Try that. Temptations, difficulty – I want to be like Jesus, an example. And do you know what will happen around you? People will look at you and say, “Hey! This young man, there’s something about him.”

We can all do that. You don’t have to have a lot of money. You don’t have to be real handsome. You don’t have to have a lot of education. You don’t even have to be very smart. Some of us are not as smart as others, you know. I consider myself a lot less smarter than my brother Pablo, or even my wife is smarter than I am, as far as intelligence goes. But it’s not important; we can all do it. We can all commit ourselves to things that are important, and to be what Jesus wants me to be right now. And if you are what Jesus wants you to be right now, there’s no telling where He’s going to take you in the future.

There may be some of you here like what Dale said the other day, there may be some of you that the Lord is calling now to a mission field. And there are some interesting situations. We need some tough young men. There are some places on the mission field that not every one can handle. The physical strain, and sometimes going without things, without all the accommodations that we have here. You know, in North America, especially, but we’re right behind you; Costa Rica is just right behind you; we’re catching up with you actually. But you know, we have so many things. We have so much money. We have so many things. We can just live with such ease and pleasure and fun. It’s so nice. Would you be willing to sacrifice a bunch of that and go to an outback difficult place? Walk around with a backpack on your back with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and one of those 99 cents deodorants? What about it? Forget about the expensive colognes. Too bad, I’m getting old, so I have to carry a bunch of pills with me, too. (Chuckle.) But anyway, you know, would you be willing for that? What if God would call you?

Now some of you God’s going to call you to stay right where you are and be like Jesus right there. But the beautiful thing about this is, if you have a goal to become like Jesus, we can all do it. We can all commit ourselves to Jesus and say, Jesus, just help me to respond the next time Dad scolds me the way I don’t like, or the next time this happens, the next time the boss or the next time the people I work with do something I don’t like, make a goal that every time you’re going to intently show what Jesus would do. Oh, life gets exciting. Life gets exciting! It’s worth it.

Times are evil. We’re going toward – I don’t know, sometimes I think the end is right here. The way circumstances look in this world, it seems like the end of the world is just any day. I don’t know. God doesn’t tell us. But I’d like to encourage you, if it is not — What if we’re going to be here yet another, well, let me see, on an average, you young men are 20? Let’s say 20. What if you’re going to be here another 40 years, till you’re about my age? This world is getting worse. Some things are getting more difficult. We have to have our faith in God. But you are called. I think, well, maybe the Lord wants the next forty years. If ever, He wants people to rise up and shine, to be like Jesus, and to do it boldly.

I’m not talking about being proud, and like outwardly aggressive on people, but to have the courage to be different. Don’t be afraid to be different. That’s what’s worth it. Just to be like all the rest, there’s no honor to be like that, and just do what everybody does. Anybody can do that. But to stand up and be something different in the world and the people you work with. Maybe even in your church. You can make a goal to be the most committed and be a good example in your own church. Please don’t just follow the crowd.

Who was saying – oh, this morning in our prayer group, someone was saying he witnesses to college students, and he was surprised to find out that college students – (how did he say?) I’ll say it in my words) they don’t think much. Do you know something? Most people don’t think much. In my experience, most people don’t think much. They just follow the crowd. They just bumble along behind the others. Just do what everyone else does.

I want to encourage you to stop and think. Make some serious decisions what you want to do, who you want to be, and where you’re going. Think! Please think! Most people don’t. Most people just follow their nose. No, they follow other people’s noses. They just follow around, bumble around after the crowd. Hey, that’s no honor. There’s no glory to do that. Anyone can do that. The whole world does it.  All these fads and fashions, these wild fashions – purple hair and tattoos all over – people are just following the crowd. There’s no honor to that.

I’m calling you and Jesus is calling you to stand out and be a little different than the rest. And that might even be in your own church group. It’s unfortunate, but it is that way. In our churches, we have people that are more committed than others. You can pick them out pretty fast by the way they look, by the way they talk, and by the things they do. Don’t follow the wrong crowd. Just decide, “I’m going to serve the Lord, and be all the way for Him.” You! You! You! Be an example. You!  You don’t have to be very smart to do that. You don’t have to have a lot of money. You don’t have to be handsome. You don’t have to have a lot of education, but you can decide, “I’m going to be an example to others.” Do you have younger brothers? If you don’t have younger brothers, there are other men younger than you in the church group or around you. Our young boys need heroes. They need heroes to follow! My boys are getting older. My youngest son is 27. Dorcas is 25. They’re getting a little older now, and I’m challenging them to be the heroes.

Here’s Brother Lynwood. I know him. He’s my wife’s nephew. (I remember the first time I met you, Lynwood. You were just a little baby. I think you were just starting to walk.) But you know what? I know Lynwood and I admire Lynwood. He’s a person I could tell your sons or whoever as boys, “Hey, follow Lynwood. Follow Lynwood.” And now I’m talking to the fathers. Maybe there’s someone in your church that’s a hero and just a good example, and you can say, “Hey, would you please take my son fishing or do something with him? Would you please? Because I want my son to be with you, because you’re a good example.”

Now, what I’m saying is, you be that person, that every young person in the church can follow you, and say, this is the man I want to follow. Fathers should be that, too, but I’m not talking to fathers; I’m talking to you, that you’re an example in your youth group that’s worth looking up to, and worth following. And someone could say – (Let me see, your name is Andrew? I can hardly read that distance) and a father would say, “Hey, Andrew, would you mind just taking some time with my son? Would you mind just taking off an afternoon with him? Take him to eat pizza or –” I’d rather go to the outdoors. I love the outdoors. Take him for a hike. Give him a hard hike. I can’t do those anymore, especially after Covid. But you take him out and give him a hard hike. Give him a difficult time outdoors, and those young boys could say, “Andrew is a hero.” (How old are you, Andrew? 19.  I don’t know you, Andrew. I have no idea.) But they could say, “Andrew is a hero. Follow Andrew. I’d like my boys to be with Andrew.”  I’m just using him as an example because he’s sitting right here looking at me. But that could be all of us. That should be our goal, that I’m a person that is an example to the younger ones, and I want to be a blessing and encouragement.

Don’t just go for the mediocre. Don’t just go for being a cheap follow-the-crowd type of person. Just follow the crowd – anybody can do that. A dog can do that. Just follow what the other dogs do. But to be a person that’s committed, that’s outstanding in his values, in his commitment, the way he lives, the way he thinks.

That’s a challenge, and it’s open to each one of us. Different ways – some of us talk a lot. Some of us talk too much. I talk so much I often get my foot in my mouth. Some of you are quiet; that’s ok; you don’t have to talk a lot. Just be a quiet man, a quiet example, committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, with all our gifts. It doesn’t matter what gift you have. Just decide you’re going to be like Jesus Christ, and you’re going to live in a way that other people say, “This is someone I’d like to imitate. I’d like to become like him.” You!  Yes, you!

Fruit. Brother Dale was talking about the fruit thing: Fruitful lives.

I’ll just throw this in: What is fruit that’s worthwhile?

You men up here in North America can make more money probably than about anywhere else in the world. Maybe if you go to Alaska or some other places you can make more wages, I don’t know. But you men can make more money than most people in the world. Do you know what? When you get to be an old man, and you come to the end of your life, all the money you made is not worth a dime. Make money. Work. If you do something, do it right; do it well. I’m not against making money. But please, that should not be your goal. Please. That’s a very low goal. To make money is shooting too low. Shoot higher, please.

If you work, do it right. Do it well. Provide for your – you can start saving for your marriage that’s coming up maybe, or whatever. You can use your money then to support the Lord’s work in other places. Your money doesn’t have to be a problem. The problem is if money is your goal. If your goal is that you want to get one of those last pick-up’s. At home, it’s the big Dodge Ram. Anyone that gets one of those Dodge Ram’s, wow!  I don’t know about up here. 

At one time I would ride motorcycle. I don’t have one now, but years ago, I had this little 100 – I forget if it was a Soki or Yamaha. But I had this little motorcycle. And one time a friend told me to get on one of those big motorcycles. I forget what I was going to do. I put the helmet on, and I got on one of those big motorcycles, and I went through town. Here’s a Mennonite preacher on a motorcycle.  And you know what? I noticed the girls looked at me. They didn’t know who was under the helmet.

That’s a low goal. I’m not saying you can’t have a motorcycle. But you know, if you get these big cars and these big motorcycles or whatever, these big things, and they look at you – and wow! That’s the foolish people that look at you that way. Anyone that has any common sense to them knows there is more to life than that.

Jesus said your life does not consist of the things you own. Don’t go for that. I mean, I’m not saying you have to buy a junky – I drive a ‘99 model van. I don’t say you have to drive a ’99 model. That’s ok. You can get something a little newer. But don’t make it your goal to stand out and have the best. When the world is going worse, the world needs more than men driving big Dodge Ram’s. (I don’t know what your thing is up here.) Shoot higher than that. And make sure that the money you make, that you use it for people. The Kingdom of God is people.Now that doesn’t mean that we’re going to all be out relating to people, counseling people, working directly with people, but you can be involved.

This activity [this weekend] is an exciting activity with all these people together. But you know, it takes all kinds of people to put this together. I’ve heard people tell me they just love to organize this. It seems to me like you have some brethren here that love to do it, and they do a good job. I’ve been impressed. I’ve been trying to learn some things here with some of the ways they organize and do things here. You have some men that know how to do that. But I had one man tell me, “I do not want to preach; I do not want to teach. But I love to organize and work out details.” If you would tell me to take care of the lodging and the food, oooh, that would make me nervous. I just don’t think I would handle that. Can I say this? I’d rather preach. I’d rather preach than do that. (Chuckle.) I hope that’s not sounding proud. But what I’m saying is, we all have different parts. But anyone that participates, you raise your hand to volunteer, and you go over there, and you help over there, you are part of the project. And what is the important thing in this project? The important thing in this project is what God is doing in people’s hearts.

Get excited about what God is doing in people’s hearts – in your own heart and in other people’s hearts. There are broken homes, broken families. Oh, there are so many people out there crying and needing help.

Commit your life to helping people, because anything that’s worth it, is investing in people.

Like I say, if you have to work, you have to earn some money, that’s ok. You have to save some money to get married; that’s great. I mean, I’m not against making money. But the goal is not just things. The Kingdom of God is not buildings. It’s not cars. We need those, yeah. But the Kingdom of God is not where you have to have a big building, a lot of big fancy cars, and I need a big this and a big that. No! The Kingdom of God is people. So commit yourselves to helping people. And you! You! Even if you don’t talk much, you!  You can make friends with someone in your church and in your neighborhood.

Years ago there was a little boy. Looks is not important to me. I’m just saying this is as an example because I think that was part of the problem. He didn’t look quite like some did; he was a little different. I remember back when we used to have just gravel roads (we have better roads now) but when I would come by with my little Land Rover, sometimes he’d stand beside the road and throw rocks at me. This little boy, a little guy like this, would throw rocks at me. I thought, What’s going on with this little boy? You know what I did? I started to wave at him, and smile at him, and be friendly to him. He quit throwing rocks at me. He’s not converted yet, but he’s been to church a few times. He still respects me and loves me. I don’t know if he remembers the rocks, but I do.

The little boy – is there anyone in your life that’s sort of a mis-fit? He has a hard time fitting in? You know, there are a lot of people around you that need a friend.And every one of us can be a friend to someone. It might be in your church group. Each church group – it shouldn’t be that way, but sometimes in our church group we have people that are not quite as accepted. Have you ever noticed how the cute little boys, the cute little children get all the attention? It still works, how the cute girls get all the attention. That should not be that way. You should be a friend.

You can be a friend to someone. You can encourage someone. Every one of us can do that. Some of us will talk more, you know, but we can all be friends. And by being a friend to someone, you can change a life.

Someone in your area – you know, we each have sort of an area that we function in. In your area, there are people that you can maybe love and take time for. You don’t have to do some serious theological studies. If you want to, you can have Bible Studies with someone. But there are persons in your life that need just caring for them, just taking the time to be his friend. I had people in my life that did that. They would just come and – I don’t know if you do that as much here as we do at home; we do that a lot – put our arm around people; that’s part of our culture, and I could hardly talk to people without doing that. But if someone would just come along and put his arm around me and say, “Hey, how’s it going? What have you been doing? Hey, would you like to go for a hike? Would you like to go fishing? Would you like to do something with me? I’m going to take a trip. Do you want to ride with me? Ask your Dad and see if you can.”

You can make a difference! Some people you can change their life! They feel alone. And when people feel real alone and they feel like no one cares for them, and it feels like they’re sort of “out,” they can easily slip out and move out. You can make a difference by being a friend to the ones that don’t have many friends. You know, in our youth groups, even here. I don’t think it should be happening here much, but in our youth groups there are certain people that are more popular than others. The man that can crack jokes, and he can say things, and sort of — And then there are others who are sort of quiet and maybe feel like they don’t quite fit. Look for those and be a friend to those.

People! We have lots of different ways and things we can do to focus on people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make money. I’m not saying you can’t have your hobbies. I have a hobby. I love to take bird pictures. I like birds. I haven’t had a chance here yet, but I heard some. (This morning I was thinking – these men – they work me hard here. They keep me going. If they’d give me a little break, I’d go out and look for some of your birds, but I haven’t had time. Next week I will.) But I have a hobby that I do on the side, and I enjoy taking pictures of birds. I don’t have one of those big expensive cameras. I don’t need an expensive one. I have a good time with a cheaper one.

It’s not wrong to have hobbies. But I would ask you a question. Is the hobby worth all the money that some people put in hobbies? Hunting? I’m not against hunting. I like animals; I’d have a hard time shooting a deer, I think. And yet if I’d live up here, the way you have with all the deer around, I might go hunting and put some meat in the freezer. I’m not against that. But I’m not sure about the people that spend thousands of dollars just to go out and hunt, and it really doesn’t provide much food; it’s just the thing of —

Those are values I want you to think about. I want you to think about it. I’m not against a hobby. We all need sort of a good hobby, and you can use your hobby to connect with people.

I had this one young man; we were discussing something about birds. He’s a tour guide; he works with tourism. I told him about migration; he didn’t know anything about migration with birds. I don’t know why he didn’t. We get all the migrators down there. But then I told him that I love nature because when I love nature, I worship God. For me, being out in nature, I worship God. Then I had some email contact with him, and he tapped into that. “You know, I like that. Out worshipping God.”

You can use your hobbies to be a blessing; you can invite someone young to go with you and make it a ministry. I’m not against hobbies. But I’m going to challenge you to stop and think about putting all that money in that.

There are a lot of things like that. What do your shoes cost? At home, I heard someone just the other day who bought a pair of shoes that cost 80,000 colones. That doesn’t mean much to you, does it? (80,000 colones is about what Dale? You’re better at math. Dale says around $120.) Oh, $120, that’s not much here. Your shoes cost more – but down there, that’s a lot. People can spend a crazy amount. I said, “I would never buy shoes for that price.” I’m not saying $120 – sorry. I know your shoes up here are better quality, too. I’m not going to quote figures. That’s not the issue, because I don’t even know. My sons are wiser. They lived all their life with their father who’s always saving pennies and buying the cheap things. So my sons don’t do that. They don’t overdo it, but they make sure they buy something good. (Chuckle.) They learned from me.

But do you know what I’m saying? You’re getting these expensive shoes that cost way beyond a good shoe. You’re spending money for things that really – you know, if Jesus were standing beside you and watching you, how would you feel?

All the hungry people all over the world, all the needs there are around the world – you should think about that in how you spend your money. I think that the crowd I’m looking at now I’m pretty sure is not carried away with that. But I just want to encourage you. Even that is something important.

Money, sports, pleasure.

It’s not wrong to enjoy a game. I used to play volley ball. I sometimes do. But if I play volley ball with the youth, I’m sort of a clown, because I flub up. I got some extra weight on me, and I have a hard time getting up. But anyway, it’s not wrong to play a game of volley ball; it’s not wrong to play a game together. Our church group gets together, and they play games. But when you play a game, make it a thing not of competition. Make it a thing of –

There was this game (I don’t know. It’s like a volley ball, but you knock a ball over a whole bunch of plastic pipes, and you knock this ball back and forth. Have you seen that game?) Anyway, we were playing that with some of my brothers-in-law and myself and a bunch of children. And we had so much fun! Especially me and one of the brothers-in-law, we decided just to encourage the children. “Come on. Do it, do it. Come on.” And everyone was having fun. We didn’t care who was winning. We just had fun together.

That’s the way to play, right? Have a good time together. Get the old men in there, the young men, and the children, and encourage, “Come on, come on.” Not this thing of “Come o-o-on! You got to do this right!” No, let me tell you, games are good. I’m not against games, but make them a thing of encouragement, not competition. Not just, oh, I did it that time! I made a good one! And the other one left him down. No, we just be an encouragement. Games are ok if we do them right, and not get wrapped up to where — Any of these things can get us way off track. When they get us way off track, then we’re not an example of men, real noble men.

I’m giving you a challenge today to be noble men. Men that the people say, “Hey, that’s the kind of man I want my son to be.” Or someone would say, “That’s the kind of man I want to marry.” A good man – it doesn’t make much difference how he looks. It doesn’t make much difference what kind of car he drives. It doesn’t make much difference what kind of shoes he wears. But a good quality heart, that a woman can say, “I can trust him.” “I can trust him.”

Go for it! Go for it! All of you, each in your position.

There are some dangers, some distractions, and I’d like to talk about the big danger we have, which is pornography.

I can’t finish this without addressing this. In a crowd this size, some of you have trouble with this. Hopefully, some haven’t. But I’d like to challenge you to stay away from that. If you’ve had trouble, and you have fallen, I would encourage you, please, seek help. I’m really looking forward to what Tim Kuepfer has to say tonight. My heart goes out. I’ve tried to help, but I want to hear what Tim has to say about helping people that have fallen into pornography. The addiction of pornography is a terrible thing. I’ve laid my hands on married men and said, “God, please, that this man could forget all those things he saw. Cleanse him from all these things so that he can really love his wife.”

I want to try to explain to you, and I’m going to be real clear with you, why pornography is so evil and so damaging. Sexual life is designed by God. God designed it. Man didn’t. The devil didn’t. God designed sex. But you know, sex is a kind of relationship that you can have only with one woman. I have a wonderful wife. We enjoy our life together. But even if I’ve gone, and she’s at home, if I would look for another woman, and get another woman in my life, what would happen to my relationship with the precious one I have at home? Right away it would put a barrier in it. The sexual intimacy, the sexual closeness, can only be with one man and one woman. You can’t have two women and love them both. I asked a man once (that was not my experience), and I asked him, “How do men handle this? How can they love all these different women?” He was wise, because he knew. He said, “The truth is, you don’t love them. You don’t love them; you just use them.”

So the idea is this – and this is for each one of you. Well, some of you, the Lord might call to singlehood, and that’s fine. That’s a high calling. Jesus was single; Paul was single. I could speak a whole bunch on that, but I’m not going to right now. If God calls you to singlehood, that’s great. It’s a special calling. But I just want to tell you all, that to understand this, to have a good sex relationship with anyone, it’s got to be only one person. And it’s got to be with the person [?] that you love, that you’re going to commit yourself to.

My wife and I have lived together 36 years. We’ve cried together. We’ve struggled together. We’ve raised children together. We’ve had some hard times together. But we’re still [ ? ] together. And she was the most beautiful woman in the world for me. She’s oh – you know, she’s my wife!  The sexual close romantic relationship is that way – only one woman.

What happens if you start on the pornography trail? You see this one, and you click on this one, and you click on this one, and you’ve seen all these women. Don’t give into that. And if you’ve had trouble, stop it! Because that’s going to hinder you. I’ve prayed for people in their marriages who were having serious problems because men are just trying to imitate what they saw on the screen. Pornography is a terrible thing. I want to encourage you all to commit yourselves to just one woman. And you share that part with her. Who is she? For you people that I’m talking to, you don’t know yet. (Chuckle.)

It’s exciting though. For me, it was exciting the way the Lord led. The Lord moved pieces and things, till the day I got married, I was so confident that this is WHAT GOD DID! It was so wonderful. And it still is wonderful. But one. One. Not six or sixteen. How many women have men watched and looked at that in the way they shouldn’t on the screen. That’s hurtful. That’s damaging.

I would really encourage you, if there’s someone here this afternoon that has not fallen into that, has not gotten into that, and I hope your fathers help. I do. At home, I put some filters on. I try to be careful. I try to save —  Because another thing is, I have worked with people that have been stimulated toward homosexuality, toward lesbianism, and some are not even fit to talk about, the desires that men have got off of the screen. It’s satanic. Somehow it wakens up crazy evil desires. So if you haven’t touched that, I would like to encourage you to commit yourself, “I will not, with the grace of God!”

I hate pornography. I’ve never accessed pornography. I’m not saying that bragging, but I’m going to commit to that, and I want to stay to that to the end of my life. The burden of my heart is trying to help people that have. And I’d like to encourage you if you haven’t, to say, “I’m not going to.”

It’s awfully tempting. It’s awfully attractive. You know, like there’s a trap here, and you want to catch a rat, and you put something on it like a piece of cheese or some peanut butter, and the rat thinks, “Ah, that smells good,” and his little nose twitches, you know how they do, and their feelers are twitching, and they think, “This is good.” I was just reading that in the Proverbs again, that the man that goes to the woman that’s not his wife, it’s destructive, and it’s like the trap that [gets him.] So commit yourself, because you want to save yourself for just one. Do you want to have a good relationship with one? Who is that lucky woman? We don’t know. But save yourself!

I imagine in a crowd this size, there are quite a few of you that have already been in it. Some of you have probably already gotten out of it. I really want to hear what Tim has to say tonight. If you have a problem with this, and no one knows about it – you’ve been able to keep it under, and no one knows about it. (You’d be surprised to know some of the people that have problems with this.) If that’s the case, I would like to encourage you right now – that is destructive; it’s a weapon of the enemy; it’s Satan trying to destroy you, and it will destroy you. Do something! Make a break! Find someone and say, “Brother, I have a problem.”

I’ve had that happen different times. I’ve had old men, I’ve had ministers confess to me and kneel down and cry like little boys. We don’t have to talk about other people. But if you have a trouble and it’s hidden, and no one knows about it, do something about it! Please! Do you know why I say that? What do I care? I’m going back to Costa Rica. I care about you and your future. Do something about it. Seek someone. Confess it. Get it out. Become accountable to someone. Let’s hear what Tim says tonight about this, but you can get out of it! Praise the Lord, you can get out of it! You can be free! And you can still be a good husband! By the grace and the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can become a good husband even if you’ve messed up like this.

And so I would encourage you. There are people in your life that you can trust. I would encourage you to find someone a little older, not just a peer your own age. Maybe find someone a little older, a person that you can trust. It might be your father, or it might be a minister, or someone that you respect and that you can trust, and just open your heart. Do you know what? Like I said, I never accessed pornography, but when someone confesses to me about pornography, I don’t feel like banging him on the head and calling him dumb, because I know who I am, and I know the temptations I’ve been through, and by the grace of God, I haven’t. But if you confess it to someone, if you find a good spiritual person, he will not feel like you’re a heel, like you’re a failure. He’ll put his arms around you, and say, “Come, Brother, let’s get out of this. And we can, by the grace of God!” And you can now, from now on, you can say, no more women in my life. And now you can keep yourself clean and pure and get ready for marriage and the Lord can bless your marriage wonderfully. He can! He will! And so I want to encourage you with that.

The real purpose of this is, God wants relationships.

If you see all these women on the screen, you see all these women, you don’t love any one of them! You want to have a woman. If God gives you a woman, you can have one woman. As I said this morning, that now you can look in the eyes and smile and love each other. Freely love each other. I had my problems before I was married, I had my problems with purity. I was never in pornography, but I had my own struggles. Then I was converted, and I had my struggles even after I was converted. But when I got married – I’ll just tell you this, boys, when I got married, the first morning after the first night – we won’t tell you any more about that, but I remember stepping outside – I went to do something outside the hotel, and I lifted my hands and said, “Thank you, Lord Jesus! Thank You! This is so beautiful! Every time I had any sexual experience before, it always left me guilty, feeling dirty, and just messed up. Now here was something that was just wow! God blesses it. The Bible tells me to do it if I’m married, you know? Did you know that? So keep yourself for that. Don’t let anyone, any woman, any video, anything get you off of that. That’s worth saving yourself for!

And then you can be a help.

Some of you have had the problem and if you’re out now, or if you’ve had the problem and you’re still not out, try to get out! We need more young men to help other people.

This problem is all over! All over! When I was young – (Brother Dale, you’re older than I am. Brother Raymond, you are too, probably, aren’t you?) When I was young, pornography was something in certain stores, and just in magazines, black and white pictures. I never got into that much either. But now it’s all over.

Also music. You can get the worst music access to anything. And I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’ve tried to help people and prayed with people who have been in satanic music. One night a big strapping boy came to my house scared. He and his parents came scared stiff, because he was listening to this heavy metal music, and he had seen demons. He said demons were calling him. There’s all that, just right here [on your phone] tick, tick, tick, tick.

It’s right at our access. And you! If you want to be a noble young man, if you want to be someone that’s worth looking up to, and worth [ ? ], you have to stay away from certain things. And you have to decide. I try to watch my children; I try to help them. Well, now they’re old enough, but I tried to help them. But the only person that can really really make a break with this is you! You are the one that decides, “I will not.” “Never again.”

Some of us need help. It becomes an addiction; it becomes a strong addiction. Some of us need help. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that! Confess it, get it out, get help. And then in the future – listen, we need more men. That’s why I want to listen to Tim tonight. I’ve been trying to help people through some of this, and sometimes I feel like I need some more information; I need some more input. Because we’re going to have all kinds of needs for this kind of ministry in our world.

And maybe you can be one of those persons, right? To help men come free from the clutches. Those are clutches of the devil. Death. Read Proverbs. Anyone that takes this strange woman in his life, it’s like taking fire to your bosom. He’s talking about something. He’s not kidding. Thinking about taking a woman to your bosom, but he says it’s like taking hot coals of fire and putting it against you. Stay away from it! Proverbs also says, (Hey, I’ll close with this.) Proverbs says, “Enjoy the wife of your youth.” I’m so glad. I often tell my wife, I’m so glad God tells me to enjoy –- she’s 61 years old, but she’s still the wife of my youth. She’s my delight. And God tells me to enjoy the wife of my youth. Who is the wife of your youth? You don’t know yet. For you single men, we don’t know yet. But don’t let other women get in the way. Don’t let other things come up. You keep yourself for that one person.

Special Prayer Time

Would you – all of you single men – I have no idea who is single and who is married here. But would all the single men just step up front here. Because you know what? God is interested in you men! God needs you men! He wants you to commit yourselves to Him. And the devil is intentionally trying to destroy you. So I’d like to just have a prayer for you men. Oh wow! I didn’t realize there were so many single men here, but God bless you! God bless you!  And some of you, God’s going to call to be single for a long – all your life, maybe.

Now, what I want to do is, I want to simply call out to God, because God is interested in these men. Do you know that the future of the church, the future of the nation, the future of our families, depends on you? After the old people like Dale and the rest of us are gone; we’re all buried and gone, and it’s you! God is interested in that, because you become the leaders. Well, you are already. You’re becoming the leaders. God is interested in you men to be committed to truth, and committed to Him, but the devil is also very committed. The devil is intent on destroying you. Have you sensed that? I have!

So I want to pray. I’m not going to be able to pray for you name by name, but I just want to pray for you that God would bless you. Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we call out to Your name! O Father, the glorious King of kings and Lord of lords! And Lord, you have called these young men! You have called us to Your Kingdom. You have called us to serve and to be noble men in this dark and sinful world. And it’s getting worse. Oh, Lord, this world is getting worse! But these men can rise up to be a light and a witness. Your joy is to see these men serve You.

But Lord, the enemy’s out to destroy them. Each of them – they have been attacked here and there, trying to destroy their commitment, their faith. And I have no idea all the hearts here, and what all is happening, but we pray in the Name of Jesus that Your Holy Spirit would bless and minister to each individual heart. You know the needs. Encourage and strengthen them. If there are some here tonight that need to come out and confess and make a break, O Lord, give them that inner courage, and give them the courage to step out and become free for You. Lord, these men, each one in this place, would You give Your grace and Your power and Your glory, that they would be an example of a believer, an example of Jesus’ follower, an example of Jesus on earth.

Bless them all, Lord, that they could be committed, and keep themselves clean, and they could show to this dark sinful world that the world could see – could see clean young men. And as they then develop homes and clean functioning homes, O Lord, thank You. We praise You, and we look to You, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
His Kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

Amen! 

Moderator: God bless you. Go with God. You’re dismissed.