Defeating Your Jericho
About the Guest
Are you feeling defeated? If you're a believer, there's no need to be. Max Lucado, author of "Glory Days," reminds us that while each of us faces challenges, we can be of good cheer because Christ has overcome this world. Max reflects on his life before and after his conversion to Christ.
Max Lucado, author of “Glory Days” reminds us that while each of us faces challenges, we can be of good cheer, because Christ has overcome this world. Max reflects on his conversion to Christ.
Defeating Your Jericho
Bob: Christmas is the celebration of the coming to earth of the One who would be King of kings—the One who came to save His people from their sins. Max Lucado says, “Our focus during the Christmas season, and all year long, should be on the mission of Jesus.”
Max: We all need a king / we all need a savior—that’s the deepest need of every human being. If you don’t have a king, then, it’s all up to you. Consequently, your world spirals out of control because you think you’ve got to control it all; and you end up never doing that—that creates anxiety and fear. If you don’t have a savior, then, you live with guilt. We need a King who runs our world / we need a Savior who washes away our sin.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Max Lucado today about how we can learn about our King and our Savior by looking at Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So, you grew up singing the song; didn’t you? [Singing quietly] “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho”—you sang that; didn’t you?—growing up?
Dennis: I think it was in some kind of small men’s group where we went to—I think we went to state singing that—not very good, by the way. [Laughter]
Bob: Really?! [Laughter] Well, it’s one of those beloved songs—everybody loves singing about the walls tumbling down.
Dennis: I mean, it’s got some catchy beats. I think this book that Max Lucado has written—Glory Days—is going to be catchy with a whole lot of believers.
Bob: Should have put a CD there in the front cover of the book. [Laughter]
Dennis: You could—with you singing that. [Laughter]
Max: I think you would be the one to do that.
Dennis: I was singing with you earlier, and I was going: “He’s got a good voice. He’s not just a good poet and a prophet, but he can proclaim it singing too.”
Max: You’re not very picky. [Laughter] You have low standards.
Dennis: Welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Max: Thank you.
Dennis: Glad you are here. Max, you’ve written this book to speak to people who feel like they are failing.
Max: Yes, I wrote this book to talk to people who feel like they are not moving forward in their spiritual lives. What fascinates me about the Book of Joshua is that it narrates a time of unprecedented success for the ancient Israelites—the children of Israel. When you think about the Israelites and you read the Old Testament, it seems like it was one fumble after another—you know, 400 years in slavery, 70 years in Babylonian detention, the Temple was overrun, and the Ark of the Covenant was lost. It just seems like they really had—and they did—one chapter after another of difficulty.
But then, right in the middle of it all, there is the is this story of Joshua, in which, for seven years, they were basically—for all practical purposes, undefeated—seven years! These Bedouins [wanderers] marched into their inheritance—and by the end of seven years, they were inhabiting farms that they didn’t create and reaping from vineyards they didn’t sow. It was a great time of victory.
And so, we’ve approached the study of the Joshua book, thinking, “What could we learn?—for people who feel like they are wandering in a spiritual wilderness, out of Egypt. They’ve been delivered from slavery through the grace of Christ, but they still don’t feel like they are pressing forward. They just have a sense that they are missing out / something is falling short.” We went into the Book of Joshua looking for those kinds of answers, and I was thrilled with the study.
Dennis: I wonder, Max—if, sometimes—we, who are preachers; we who proclaim standards on the radio; who write books—don’t create this idea that real people don’t ever struggle / real people don’t ever fail and that, really, there is some level of growth—there is some road you can get on that it’s almost all downhill, where you just pick up speed on your way to the finish line.
But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that the growth is really in some of the challenges and some of the things that come my way that test my faith—
—see: “Will I obey?” “Will I listen and believe? Isn’t that what—
Dennis: —you’re challenging people to do here?
Max: And it is a challenge. You don’t want to ever leave the impression that the Christian life is absent of challenges. Jesus never said that. I think that the summary statement of it all is [John 16:33]: “In this world, you will have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but be of good cheer; I’ve overcome the world.” Again, there’s the Joshua message—God said to Joshua: “I have already taken this land. Now, receive it as your inheritance.”
Dennis: Was there ever a Jericho for you? Was there one that really, really pressed you against God in an unusual way, where, you looking back on it, go: “You know what? That is similar to the battle of Jericho”?
Max: For me, the stronghold was the question, “Can God forgive me?” By the time I was 20 years of age, I was a very heavy drinker / I was a destructive womanizer.
I was on a path that, really, I had seen several of my relatives—aunts and uncles—go down. I was just headed down that muddy path myself. By the influence of a good friend, who is with me today—whom you know, Steve Green—I went to church on a Sunday morning as a sophomore in college, and we kept going several Sundays in a row. That preacher just kept telling me that God loved me and that God would forgive me. I just could not believe that / I could not believe it.
I’ve come to see that’s what we call a stronghold. It was a stronghold of guilt. It just had a strong hold on me. I could believe that Jesus could come out of the tomb—that wasn’t hard for me. I had faith that Jesus—that if God became a human being, He could defeat death. For some reason, I could calculate that; but could He forgive a kid, like me—who had hurt so many people / who had abused so many friendships—could He really forgive me? It was a stronghold.
And the day I decided to quit trying to argue with God about His grace and trust His grace, that’s when the Jericho wall came down for me.
I have, ever since then, lived in great gratitude for that forgiveness. But it was a stronghold. It was a breakthrough moment when I finally said, “Okay, I’m going to trust God and believe that He’ll forgive me.”
Bob: You define a stronghold as a belief / a premise—
Bob: —that is contrary to the promise.
Max: Exactly. It’s a premise that denies God’s promise. In my case, it was a premise that said, “I am unforgiveable.” The promise says, “You’re forgivable,”—there’s the promise—but I had this mindset, this premise, this philosophy, this warped assumption. I was building my life / making decisions based on that false premise. Those were keeping me from God’s promise.
So much of our spiritual life is wrapped up in recognizing a stronghold / a false premise. It could be pride. It could be, “I’m not worth anything.” It could be my values based on what I own or what I drive. All of those are false premises.
If you build a life on those false premises, you are going to miss out on God’s promises; and it’s going to take you down a path that God doesn’t want you to be on.
I think finding glory days is like a Jericho moment—we are facing those strongholds whenever we realize, “Oh, I’ve been listening to a lie all these years,”—we’re going to pray about it / we’re going to press into God’s Scripture and trust God’s promises over those false premises.
Bob: Walking by faith is walking by promises.
Max: I like that.
Bob: Walking by sight is walking by the false premises that we embrace.
Dennis: And walking by feelings—
Dennis: —that gets a lot of people too.
Dennis: You’ve got to step out and trust that it’s true. What would you say to someone, who is listening right now—they’re going, “You’re describing my life.”
Dennis: “I’m filled with shame/guilt.” Lead the person, who is listening, who would like out and like to move into the Promised Land.
Max: We are the most anxious nation and the most anxious generation in history.
We’re so anxiety-driven. We’re anxious about whether we are going to be able to avoid nuclear war. We’re anxious about whether or not we’re going to have a job. Every time we turn around, we have another reason to be anxious. Yet, I think the reason for the cause of our anxiety is even deeper; and that is, this unresolved guilt.
We know that we have failed God / we’ve failed in our own expectations of ourselves. Yet, instead of acknowledging that and seeking forgiveness, we try to deny it, we try to dismiss it, we try to pretend we never did it, we try to cover it up, we get angry at others, and we create a system of anxiety that never deals with the very thing that needs to be dealt with—and that is our guilt.
It is the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God. So, what did they do? They ran and they hid. Those are the two words that describe anxiety—running and hiding, running and hiding, running and hiding.
So, through Jesus Christ, God sends the message: “You can come out of hiding. It’s safe to come out.” And He died a death on the cross, receiving on Himself all of those sins—every single one of them—and He paid adequate sacrifice for all of those sins so that whoever would place their trust in Him can say: “What I did was bad, but who I am is better. I am God’s child, and I am forgiven for all of those sins.” God moves us out of a place in which we feel like there—we need to be condemned—and He moves us into a place of forgiveness because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Max: So, to that person—who is running, and hurrying, and scurrying through life—I would suggest that one reason you are is because you have this unresolved guilt in
your life. You, not only feel bad for doing things, you think you are bad. Guilt can create a sense of, “I don’t even deserve to be on this earth.” Well, God can deal with that.
He can take that shame and that sin, and He can forgive it, and He can restore, and within you / place within you the very presence of God. All you’ve got to do is cry out to Him, and He’ll do it.
Dennis: Yes, and I want you to explain how you did that—
Dennis: —but I want to read a verse because this is a promise. These are Jesus Christ’s words to us—He said [John 5:24]: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” That’s the picture of what we’re talking about here.
Take us to the day you prayed that prayer.
Max: I was 20 years old. I was sitting in that church. I could take you to the very church building. I could take you to the section of the church. I could take you to the seat I was sitting in. That preacher, who is still a good friend of mine to this day—he began talking about how God loves you no matter who you are and that God has a plan for your life that is out of this world. I love that phrase—“a plan for your life.”
I thought: “Really? You mean there is more to life than this life?” He talked about heaven / he talked about forgiveness. He said, “All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Yes,’ to Jesus.”
And when he invited those who wanted to say, “Yes,” to Christ to come to the front, chains could not have held me in that seat. I was so tired of my miserable life—I was really just so weary of it. The truth of the matter is—chains had held me back—chains of guilt, and of shame, and of destructive behavior. So, I was the first one down the aisle, and I was at a point of desperation. I just wanted to say, “Yes,” to hope; and I did—I did.
And you know, I’ve sure not led a perfect life since then; but I will say that I have never feared that God won’t forgive me. I just don’t have that fear. I know I screw up. I know my attitude isn’t what it needs to be. I know I could do better, but I do not believe I’m saved by doing better. I just believe I’m saved because Jesus said He wants me saved, and He’s preparing a kingdom of people with whom He will reign forever in eternity.
Bob: You don’t have to be in a church or have an aisle in front of you—
Bob: —to say, “Yes,” to God; do you?
Max: You can do that right now. In fact, some of you are being called by God the same way I was called so many years ago—just to say, “Yes.” And the Bible says, “Whoever confesses the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And Jesus said [John 3:16], “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
So, all you’ve got to do is say: “I’m a ‘whoever’—I’m a ‘whoever who believes in Him.’ I believe in Him.” Just cry out to Him and say: “Lord, I need Your forgiveness. I need Your touch. I need Your help. I need Your strength. I call You my Father. I call Jesus my Savior, and I place my life / my eternal life in Your hands. I repent from my sins, and I give my heart to You.” And it really is that simple.
Dennis: I don’t want to move past this moment because I believe there is a person listening to this broadcast who really identifies with your burden of guilt and shame—
—feeling under judgment, not viewing their life with any degree of hope—and they’d like to get out from under that.
Lead them in the prayer that will take them there. You’ve told them what you did, but go ahead and lead them in the prayer right now. And I just say to you—if you are driving, pull off. If you are jogging, stop and sit down or kneel; or if you are in a home, listening—the point is—bow your neck / bow your will before Almighty God, symbolically—not that that’s going to get you into heaven—but, symbolically, saying, “I yield to You, God.”
Bob: Put your hands up—surrender; right?
Max: Absolutely. Basically, we all need a king / we all need a savior. We need a King who runs our world / we need a Savior who washes away our sin—that’s the deepest need of every human being. If you don’t have a king, then, it’s all up to you. Consequently, your world spirals out of control because you think you’ve got to control it all; and you end up never doing that—
—and that creates anxiety and fear.
Dennis: No doubt.
Max: If you don’t have a savior, then, you live with guilt.
Dennis: And you’ve got to try to do that too, and you’re not—
Dennis: —you’re not going to please Almighty God—
Max: No, you’re going to live—
Dennis: —you’re a lawbreaker.
Max: That’s right. You either become a legalist or you become defeated. Either of those two options is devastating. So, what we’re going to do is—we’re going to say: “Lord Jesus, I need a king / I need a savior. Will you be my King?”—and He is so ready to be your king / you were made to have a king. “I need a savior,”—and you were made to have a Savior. You were never intended to try to compensate for your sin by good behavior or living under the weight of bad behavior.
So, let’s just ask Jesus—and if you’d like to pray this prayer with me, like Dennis said, bow your head before your King and your Savior:
Oh, Heavenly Father, grant us now the privilege of a moment in Your presence. We confess that You are our King. You’re the One who runs the world, and we are here because You decided we would be.
We confess that everything is in Your sovereign plan, and we’re ready to surrender our lives to You. We call upon You as our Savior, our Forgiver, our Redeemer.
We need someone to forgive us / we need someone to redeem us. We have taken the wrong turns. We have done what we’ve said we never would. We have disobeyed You / we have even disobeyed our own conscience. But we bow before You—we ask for mercy and grace. Do not punish our sins. Wash our sins away.
You have said You would be our King and You have said there is hope for the weary. You have said there is grace for the sinner. So, we come and we stand on Your promises now, and we receive this salvation in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Dennis: And at the point we do that, the Bible promises us—I just read it a few moments ago—Jesus said, “You do not come into judgment but have eternal life, and you have passed from death into life.” Andy you also—He says, “You become a new creation.”
Max Lucado, at 20 years of age, coming out of a dark period of time—of not obeying God/ pleasing God in any way—what was that like for you to put on that new creation: “Max Lucado redeemed / Max Lucado the joint heir with Christ”? What did that look like/feel like?
Max: For the guilt to be taken away, I literally moved from a sense of self-loathing to more of a sense of God-loving. It really was deliverance for me. It was pretty dramatic in the happiness / in the joy. The first thing I did was go buy a Bible—I mean, the very first thing. I’d never spent a penny on anybody except on something that would make me feel good; but the first thing—I had a hunger for God’s Word.
Now, temptations did not go away.
I had established some relationships with friends that I needed to break, and I needed to quit hanging out with certain circles of people. That was hard. They mocked me / they gave me a hard time. I think it is so funny because several of those guys are walking with the Lord today. I’ve given them a hard time about giving me a hard time back then. [Laughter] That’s what happens!
Dennis: I want to stop you there because one of the first things you did—was you told somebody—
Max: I did.
Dennis: —that you’d made that commitment. That’s really important for a new follower of Jesus.
Max: I even called my parents the next day. I said, “I want you to know I’m sorry I haven’t been the son I should have been, but I’m”—they had raised me to know better / I should have known better. And I said, “I’m back in church / I’m loving God.” I don’t know if they took me seriously or not; but over the years, they realized it was for real.
Bob: But you know, as a parent, to get a call like that from a son—even if you’re not sure where it is—
Max: Oh, yes.
Bob: —that gives you great hope; doesn’t it?
Max: Great hope.
Max: I’ll oftentimes talk to parents of prodigals—
—I’ll say to them, “You wouldn’t have wanted me for a son for about four years out of my life either”; but there’s hope—there’s hope.
Dennis: Don’t miss what Max models there. He broke fellowship with bad company.
Dennis: First Corinthians 15 [verse 33] says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” It’s a warning that who we hang around—and it doesn’t mean we should totally separate ourselves from the world—it just means: “Who are you going to for encouragement, identification, and relationship? Your love for God ought to cause you to want to hang out with other people who also love God.” That’s going to lead a person to go to church; right, Max?
Max: Exactly. I was afraid that I would lose the influence battle. I was afraid that they would influence me away from the decision that I’d made. So, just kind of out desperation, I said: “I’ve got to change friends. I’ve got to change circles.” So, I started hanging out with church people.
I did whatever they needed at church. I volunteered to teach in the children’s ministry. I just needed to be—I remember showing up at a preacher’s door on a Monday night because somebody had told me, “He has a Bible study on Monday nights.” I interrupted his dinnertime—he said, “I don’t have a Bible study tonight.” I was kind of on the prowl, looking for somebody to lift my spirit and to encourage me; but I was hungry for God’s Word. That was good for me—it was good for me.
But yes, I did have to break that circle of friends—it was a drinking circle. The only thing we knew to do was to go to a pool hall and drink beer and chase girls. That’s all we knew how to do. I did not know how to be with them and not do that. So, I had to say, “No,” to them for—I stayed friends with them, and they did give me a hard time. As it turned out, all of us are going to be in heaven together.
Dennis: We don’t have time for the whole story, but how long until you met your bride?
Max: I met Denalyn—see, that was 20—and we met at the age of—I was 25. So, it was five years later when we met, and it was two years later that we married.
Dennis: He had to get you marriage-worthy; didn’t He? [Laughter]
Max: I still married up—I did.
Dennis: I want to encourage our listeners because there are listeners, who have identified with your story, and they are not living in victory / they are living in defeat and in shame. Your book has a good solid theme from the Book of Joshua that, frankly, every Christian needs to read / needs to be encouraged by because we all go through dry times in our walk with God, just like there are dry times in a marriage relationship. I think this book is going to be a spiritual wheel alignment for some folks who kind of feel a wobble in the frontend of their Christian life.
Bob: We would love to send you a copy of the book—it’s called Glory Days. It’s the newest book from Max Lucado. It’s all about the life of Joshua. You can order a copy of the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Or you can call to order Glory Days. Our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Let me mention—when you go by our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, we have had a lot of parents tell us they are pretty excited about the resource that we have created for children. It’s a series of Christmas tree ornaments called “The Twelve Names of Christmas™”—ornaments that describe different names of Jesus, along with a story book, so that, as you hang these ornaments on your tree, you can read these stories aloud to your children.
Go find out more about “The Twelve Names of Christmas,” along with the ornaments that Barbara Rainey has created for Christmas 2015—her new line of Adorenaments®. You can see all of this or order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
And Dennis, I know you wanted to step back in here and just remind our listeners about the matching-gift opportunity that’s available to us here during the month of December.
Dennis: That’s right, Bob. In fact, our listeners provide over a third of all of our operating revenue, here in the month of December. It’s really important that you stand with us. I want you to know that I’m not asking you to do something that Barbara and I are not doing. In fact, we are donors. We have been since we started FamilyLife Today, all the way back to 1992.
We’ve got a bunch of listeners, who have participated with us through donations, and a whole lot more listeners who listen, and who need to step up, and say: “You know what? I want to keep this message coming on strong across the nation because this country needs it.”
Bob: Well, our listeners may not realize this—but all of the royalties from the books that you and Barbara have written over the years have been donated to Family Life.
In addition to that, you raise your own support to work here.
Dennis: I don’t take a penny from FamilyLife in terms of salary. Barbara and I have raised our own support and been in ministry for over 45 years. The bottom line is—we are working hard to help you and to help others build their marriage and family God’s way. Will you stand with us?—we need you to, right now.
Bob: Well, during the month of December, we’ve had a very special opportunity that’s been presented to us. Some friends of the ministry, who have come to us, and they have agreed that, during this month, they will match every donation we receive two-to-one. So, if you make a donation of $50 today, they are going to kick in $100; and we’ll wind up with $150 donation to FamilyLife Today. They are doing that up to a total of $2 million.
So, to take full advantage of that matching gift, we’d like to encourage you, today, to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a yearend contribution.
You can make that, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone—or mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, Max Lucado will be with us again as we continue to explore lessons we can learn from the life of Joshua. That’s coming up tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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