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Tuning In

"Here now is Musial! Two out, two men on, bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals need two runs to tie, three to win. Musial…digs in…there’s the familiar wiggle…and the crouch. Heeeere’s the pitch…he swings! Highflyballtorightfield! That’s a well hit ball! It might be! It could be! It…IS! CARDINALS WIN! A THREE-RUN HOMER FOR MUSIAL! CARDINALS WIN! HOLY COW! LISTEN TO THE CROWD!"

I unglued my ear from the static-ridden AM band radio and snapped it off. Hot dawg! Stan Musial, my hero, had done it again. I rushed out into the hall of my college dorm to see if there was some poor uninformed soul who had not yet heard the wonderful news. But, alas, they were probably over in the library studying, totally unaware of the true purpose in life: listening to the voice of Harry Carey and St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball.

Wait a minute…another radio announcer’s description of the same game was drifting out of my friend’s room down the hall. It was sports announcer Gordon McClendon who ad-libbed the play-by-play of his "Game of the Day" radio broadcast while cloistered in his Dallas studio reading the game details from a ticker tape. He put on quite an impressive show, using recorded sound effects of crowd noise, bat meeting ball, etc. His simulated live broadcast lagged several minutes behind the real time action on the ball field.

I stepped in and sat down just as McClendon was describing the eighth-inning action. Finally, the dramatic bottom of the ninth arrived. The two-on, two-out situation unfurled once again as Stan Musial stepped to the plate. I said, "I’ve got $5.00 that says Big Stan will hit it out of the park." My friend figured easy money and covered my bet. His mouth fell open when McClendon gave the stirring account of Musial’s game-winning homer I let him sweat a while, then gave him back his fiver.

When you have the inside scoop like I had on the Card’s game, it gives you a leg up on life. Our "leg up on life’ as Christians is appropriating our identity in Christ and Christ as Life. We are to "set our minds on" the fact that His Holy Spirit indwells us as Companion, Friend, Teacher, Bridegroom, Source of Life, etc. He alone is able to give us moment by moment victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. You can probably tune into several radio programs daily and hear all about the world and the devil, but how many help you identify your unique version of the flesh and teach you how to appropriate Christ’s finished work in order to overcome it? By God’s grace, that’s part of LGI’s calling and equipping. LGI was founded in 1975 as a counseling ministry. We began to see that our counselees could be classified according to their flesh. (Flesh: Your old, independent ways for facing life.)

Group one was comprised of those with what we called Yucky flesh (ineffective flesh patterns which had finally pulled them to the side of life’s freeway with their hood raised and engine smoking.) Group two, on the other hand, consisted of those whose flesh was productive. We divided this category into two subgroups: Plain Vanilla flesh (win some, lose some and USDA Choice flesh (world beaters). Under normal circumstances, those with semi-productive or mega-productive flesh never sought counseling because their flesh got them through the day. Some, however, arrived on our doorstep.

As the staff reminisced about those days, Pres drew a bell curve depicting the Christian population according to flesh-type. Pointing to the left portion of the curve he said, "God founded this work to minister primarily to folks with yucky flesh. Of course, many folks with vanilla and USDA flesh benefited as well, but we did not target them with our seminar lectures due to their lack of perceived need. Dad, having yucky flesh, can relate to these believers. Mom, though she has USDA choice flesh, can relate to this same group too, having lived with Dad’s critical tongue for the early years of their marriage."

Pres then pointed to the larger portion of the bell curve and spoke of the how the Holy Spirit is using the increased pressures of our day to produce a hunger in the lives of those with more "effective" flesh: he said God had brought Ken and himself into this ministry to broaden LGI’s scope to include the people with vanilla and USDA flesh in our target population. We sensed this was a word from the Lord. Pres and Ken have USDA Choice flesh and can relate well to the special needs of those with effective flesh.

Folks with yucky flesh need no convincing that they’ve got big problems. No so for those with vanilla and USDA flesh, who think they have a good handle on how to make life work. In fact, many of them are trying to help the yucky flesh folks "live in victory" like they do. They see the truth of our eternal security, so they know they’ve got the heaven thing covered. They’re active in their church, the marriage is pretty good, kids okay, work’s progressing nicely. Hey, everything’s covered. So let’s just enjoy life until Jesus comes. And by missing the truths of our identity in Christ and Christ as Life, they miss the major reason that God hasn’t beamed us up. God long to establish husband-bride type relationship with us, not a hand-shaking one. "It will come about in that day, " declares the lord, "that you will call Me Husband and will no longer call Me Master. I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness…justice…lovingkindness…compassion…. and faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord" (Hos. 2:16,20 emphasis mine).

Gang, this prophecy for Israel’s future is a real-time broadcast for us! Amazing! In addition to experiencing intimate, personal fellowship with God, we are to see earth as a "university" in which we are training for our future, reigning role with Christ. The "courses" (trials) are designed to wear down our independence, to make our flesh less productive, to make us weak in our power, to make us lose confidence in ourselves, leading us to place all our trust in Christ alone. Those who will be made "ruler over many things" (Matt. 25:21) will be those who learn how to "put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). Christians who trust in their own flesh will be ill equipped for their rule in eternity. Just as Lucifer’s personal talent and physical beauty led to his fall (Ezek. 28:12b-17), he now lures those so endowed to place their confidence in their own "talent and/or beauty" instead of in Christ who indwells us.

In our day, because of His desire that we make the most of our experience on earth, God has stepped up His agape plan by allowing world-wide anarchy, by allowing social and environmental problems to increase, natural disasters and crime to escalate, and our confidence in our government to erode, etc. We are seeing an unprecedented lack of integrity displayed in so many political and religious leaders. Many Christians are becoming disenchanted with marriage as they seek to mike their need-supply our to a human instead of from Christ, as their job security crumbles, as their investments fail, as their future becomes shaky, ad infinitum. In short, living on earth is not a much fun as it once was.

God is allowing stress to increase beyond the ability of fleshly endurance, but it’s all part of His plan to wean us off the flesh, gang. The Bible commands us (that’s not optional) to "cast our burdens upon the Lord," but many folks with USDA and vanilla flesh shrink from such vulnerability and "weakness." They strive to say in control, yet all who would know Christ intimately must give up on self and let Christ face life through them. It’s difficult for effective-flesh folks to be convicted to abandon their love affair with the flesh, especially if others are encouraging them to "be strong for Jesus." It’s also difficulty for effective-flesh folks to realize they have a problem if they’ve never identified their strength as a problem. (Hab. 1:11). Finally, it’s difficult for these folks to be challenged to solve their problem if they have insufficient information as to how to go about it.

They need three things:

  • To be convicted that they are living in continual sin as they trust in their flesh rather than in Christ who indwells them as Life. This is especially difficult for these folks because their flesh seems good, but "whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).
  • Ideally, they need to have a good understanding of their unique version of the flesh in order to effectively "give no opportunity to the flesh." Sometimes it’s difficult to experience freedom in Christ if you can’t identify what He has set you free from and thus keep your guard up.
  • To appropriate their new, true identity in Christ and trust Christ as Life to overcome their flesh.

By God’s grace, LGI is entrusted as a steward of God’s solution to these problems. We propagate this teaching through our seminar and radio ministries, videos, audio tapes, and printed materials, all of which enable hungry and hurting Christians to listen to God’s real-time broadcasts of the "game." Studying LGI’s discipleship materials will saturate your soul with your true identity in Christ and Christ as Life. This will yield the contentment of knowing you have a leg up on the devil rather than always falling for his sucker bets by tuning in to station S-E-L-F.

    About the Author

    Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.