Where is Your Hope?

All right. Am I hooked up, boys? Yep. Thank you, Frank. Appreciate it. You’re the bomb. Get off the stage. You’re done. (Laughter)

Thanks. You know, Simmons is, Richard Simmons, he’s one of my heroes. He’s run a business, he’s made money. There’s nobody better connected as far as his networking that I can see around Birmingham, Alabama. But I’ve enjoyed getting to know Richard. I’ve known Richard since he was probably in high school. And then we’ve kind of parachuted back into each other’s lives. I’ve enjoyed getting to reknow Richard. He’s really amazing. But he’s kind of quirky and, but through it all, he is humble and, and the more I get to know him, I’ve realized he has a lot to be humble about. So, he’s genuine in that area. He did not get married till he was 41. And my son Josh is now 35. He’s just now kind of ready to meet somebody and fall in love. And, you know, there’s a reason Richard didn’t get married till he was 41. First of all, he really, he’s so obsessive compulsive, I think he had the wrong kind of approach when he began. I remember this one girl he fell for, and he said, I’m gonna overwhelm her with love letters. And he began to write her a love letter a week and no results. And he began to ramp up. He wrote her a love letter every day. Nobody would do this. Wrote her two letters, love letters every day for three weeks. And don’t, you know, she ended up marrying the mailman. But I found a little poem he wrote and, trying to change his style before he finally met his Holly. Just a little insight into the attitude of your leader here. And I don’t know what age Simmons was when he wrote this, but it goes like this. Paul’s girl is rich and haughty. My girl is poor as clay. Paul’s girl’s young and pretty. My girl looks like a bale of hay. Paul’s girl’s smart and clever. My girl’s dumb, but she’s good. But do you think I’d trade my girl for Paul’s? You bet your life, I would.

Well, I was sitting here with some youth coaches and giving them the report that Joe Gibbs is now back with his family. We were on a plane. If you make the playoffs with the Redskins, our owner rents a 747. We normally go on a chartered United plane, and we were on a 747. The chef from Morton Steaks on there cooking steak for us. And it’s a pretty good ride out. We did it three years ago and lost to Seattle. I remember coming back, the flight attendants were throwing cold turkey sandwiches to the players all wrapped up. And one of ’em said, what is this? Sam Huff yelled from the back of the plane and said, you lost you idiot. What do you think it is? That’s what you eat on the way home when you lose. But Joe Gibbs came to me and, during the flight and, the coaches sit in first class, players sit in business class, and I’m like in row 90, you know, in the upper deck, in the back of the plane.

He sat down and said, you’re not the Holy Spirit, Jerry, but you are my chaplain. And so, you get a vote in my life. And we’ve been to the playoffs two outta four years. Previously, the Redskins had only gone one out of nine. You know, for the first time in my life, both my sons have said, dad, we need you. We need you to come home. We’re stuck in our career. Not stuck, but we’re in a hard place in our careers. Jay Duke, who runs all the race teams, said, you know, a lot of our sponsors are your age. They like me, but they really want to talk to you. And he said, plus, I’ve got a little 3-year-old grandson who’s been fighting leukemia and, what do you think? And I said, coach, I think you need to go home. You’re in the Hall of Fame. You know, three Super Bowls went to a fourth. You’re already in Canton. Just go, go be with your family. And, and so he did. And I was telling these youth coaches. I just, I got a call ’cause they fly me down there from time to time to speak to the race team. And, you know, I met this kid, Kyle Busch. I had no idea who he was. He looked like a kid to me. I was standing with him, and I said, are you with Joe Gibbs race? And he said, yeah, kind of. I said, I thought he swept the place out. I didn’t know what he did.

But, but Joe is now coaching one of his grandsons with his son. And this guy said, you ought to see this. This is a site. There’s Joe Gibbs on the sideline of a peewee football game, sending him plays to the kids. You know, probably the funnest coaching experience of his life.

I was out last weekend seeing my son in Houston, Texas. He worked for McWane Pipe, and they have an international division out there. We drove over to the LSU game, the Alabama LSU game. You know, you can say what you want about LSU people, but they got Saturday night down. You know, if you ever, they’re absolutely nuts and insane down there. And you don’t get, you know, what we bought in the concession stand, jambalaya and alligator sausage. You don’t see that every day either. But we had a great time down there.

And I have some great memories with my son Josh. You know, talk about the Joe Gibbs race team. I had my little racing experience and some, some of the things you do with your kids, well, you know, they’re lifetime memories. When he was in college, we went on a trip down to the outer banks. Well, for us, it’s down, for y’all it’s up to the outer banks in Carolina. He was a surfer, so he was surfing. And I just got, somebody had given me a brand-new Subaru station wagon. It’s not the sexiest car I’ve ever driven, but it was free. I’m into free, you know, and there was nobody out there. It’s a bird sanctuary, this part where we were on. And I said, when we were loading up, I said, Josh, have you ever gotten in a car? And just pointed it down the road and just floored it like forever, just forever to see what how fast, absolutely fast it would go. He said, I never really have. I said, I haven’t either, but this might be our day, son. And, I said, let’s put bets. How fast do you think this car? And we both agreed, we bet the same thing to do 105 miles an hour.

We got in that car, turned the air conditioning off ’cause I thought that’ll give us a little more horsepower. Rolled all the windows up and just floored it. And this was kind of a long acceleration for a four-cylinder Subaru you know. After about eight minutes, I think we’d originally said 115. We, because I remember we got up to 105 miles an hour, and then we had a command decision to make. I looked down that and it was just heat waves coming off this two-lane. You know, you could hear crickets and stuff, just nothing. And all of a sudden, I see three dots. And so, we start, it’s like a pilot discussing this with his copilot. I say, well, what do you think one of those, what are the chances one of those dots as a Carolina trooper? So, what would they be doing out here? They can’t make any money giving tickets out here. I think you know where this story’s headed, man, those, those cars, if we were doing 105 and they were doing 60, that’s 165 mile an hour pass at close range just feet, you know, I mean the, the air’s coming off the hood of those cars, like off the front of a 45 bullet, you know?

And it was like third one, big gray car with, with a, a blue bubblegum thing on top. And I looked in my mirror and that thing smoke was coming. He was doing a police academy bat turn in the middle of that highway. Now, you know how it is when they pull you over, sometimes if you’re just a little over, it’s like, well, they may not be after me. And you get slow and look all innocent. You know, when they come up, thinking, maybe it’s not me. Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of people out there, you know, had to have something to do with me. And sometimes you’re so stinking guilty, you’re not even thinking of a lie or a story to tell ’em. You just go, you know, you’re just ready to spread ’em and lean up against the hood of the car, you know?

And this was one of those situations. So, I would go, man, we’re screwed. That guy. He is not gonna be happy. And I’m pretty sure in that trooper car, he could catch this Subaru, so we’re not gonna outrun him, you know? And I thought, well, I got a, this is a teachable moment. I’m gonna teach my son, what a man of God does when he’s a total screw up. You know, he’s gotten a lot of those lessons from me. So, I pulled over and a lot of you guys are gonna identify with this. And I just shut it off, roll the windows down, shut it off, and, and, and he’s coming. I’m looking in the mirror and I just, I knew I had seconds to say something to Josh. I said, now, son, you know, there, I don’t know what’s gonna happen here, but you know, I’m guilty. I apologize. I’m a terrible example. But all I wanna say is I don’t, unless you don’t agree, I don’t know that your mother needs to really hear about anything. He’s like, I kind of got you right? I said, what do you want, Corvette? You know?

That guy got outta the car and he was coming up just shaking his head like this, you know? And he wasn’t happy. And he said, may I see your drivers and registration please sir, you know, and I gave it to him. They, you know, they go back and check you out on the computer. And I had no points. I had no points on my record. And he came back, and he said, Mr. Leachman, do you know how fast you were going? I said, you know, now that’s funny you asked me that question. I thought, I’m, I’m so guilty. I’ll be in the back of that car in minutes. I’m gonna say anything I feel like saying. I said that. That’s a funny question. I know exactly how fast I was going. I was going 105 miles an hour till you came along. Oh, he said. And he said, he just looked at me, he could not believe I told him that. And I said, and I’ll tell you another thing. I was trying to go 115 miles an hour, that was my goal. I’m a winner. I wanna put a W up there. And he was just like, incredulous. He said, what do you do for a living? I go, now here’s the really, really great part. I sensed over there. I said, you know, I’m an ordained minister and I’m a chaplain. And he said, oh my gosh, you know, and he just said, you know, I was off duty. I was going home. And I didn’t plan on any of this. Now, this was, talk about a miracle, talk about a grace. He looked at my son and said, do you have any shot of making your dad obey the law of this land, like close to it? He said, I don’t know. I mean, he wouldn’t even vouch for me. He said, will you go the speed limit? I said, yeah. And he gave, he said, I’m going home. He gave me my license back and drove off. 105 miles an hour. And I got out of it. His mother did end up hearing it and this drives her crazy ’cause we were out in Colorado last year with a bunch of kids from Tucker’s school skiing. It was cold. We were all yelling in the car at one time, at 11 o’clock at night. And finally, I see those blue lights again. I have this thing about highway patrolman wanting to meet me. And I stopped and this patrolman, and I tried not to laugh. It was like Elmer Fudd. He was this big with one of those hats. And he came up and I looked, and I went like that. And he said, did you not see me behind you? You have sped up since I was behind you with my lights flashing. I said, I didn’t see you. He said, why? I said, because we’re in here yelling at these kids. That’s why. And, we were playing some game. And so, my wife name drops. She never does this. I mean, that’s just something that’s not cool around Washington. Pretend like you know somebody, everybody knows somebody in Washington. She said this had nothing to do with anything. She said, he’s the Redskins chaplain, you know, right out. Well, bingo. He said, Redskins, I love the Redskins. You know. So, he, he let me off. He said, I just have one favorite. Will you write the captain of the Colorado State Highway Patrol and just tell him you were treated nice by me on Redskin stationary?

I said ok, and I get off? He said, that’s the deal. I go, deal. You know, I wrote to captain of the Colorado Highway Patrol on Redskin stationary and told him what a gracious officer, officer Richardson was, and got a letter back. He said, well, great chaplain, great to hear from you. If you’re ever by, come on by the headquarters, have a cup of coffee with us. My wife, this just drives her crazy. You only not only get out of it. Now, they want you to like hang out with them, you know, and have coffee with them and stuff. Well, listen, what a time we’re in, you know? I know so many people in my groups that are clearing out their stuff out of Washington. And I see it again and again. People are at the pinnacle of power. And, and all of a sudden, they, they’re standing on the curb with all their stuff in a shoebox and the financial markets and what’s going on.

You know, Jesus, if you think His take on life means anything, maybe you know more. But Jesus constantly, and you don’t hear this talked about much, and I’ll tell you why I think that is. He constantly connects fear and anxiety in the hearts of men. Because I will tell you this, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in Washington, no matter how good people look on the outside, they’re shakier than you think they are in the inside. A hundred percent. That’s me and you included, we’re all looking good but most men I work with, man, secretly, they’re just beating the door back from fear and anxiety. Most of them fear failure. The rest of them fear being humiliated in front of their friends. I will tell you this, I’ve worked with men over 30 years and I got the formula. One of the biggest fears men have, ’cause I counsel men, is that any of their friends that anybody they respect would ever question their manhood.

I have seen men do brave deeds. Brave acts, really, that were fear-based. Men, I’ve counseled guys that have charged machine gun nests, but they’ll say, you know, I was really, I was totally full of fear. But the thing that made me charge the nest, my biggest fear was that my brothers would not think me a man. People have fear and Jesus constantly connects it with greed, believe it or not. He says this in Matthew chapter six, don’t lay up for yourself treasures in heaven. Now, he says this before we all go and do it. Don’t lay up for yourself treasures on earth. Excuse me, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal. Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is there, your heart will be also. Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life. What you will eat, what you will drink, about your body. Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing. Look at the birds of the air. For they neither sow nor do they reap or gather in the barns, yet your heavenly father feeds them. So why do you worry about these things? I say, not even Solomon in his glory was arrayed like one of these. Therefore, don’t worry.

Can you see a recurring theme here? Yet most of us are worried to death. I would say half the men I counsel experience night terror when they lay up in bed all night. Some sweat, some literally are filled with terror. Some just have a heavy spirit and angst on them, and they can’t sleep. I would be shocked if everybody in here couldn’t tell me, yeah, I’ve had nights like that. I have. Therefore, don’t worry. What should we eat? What should we drink? What should we wear? After all these things the world chases after, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will be sufficient in its own trouble.

I will tell you, when men finally get a hold of the formula, there again, I was talking to the youth coaches and I said, you know, Coach Bryant was asked one time, you take your guys and beat the other guys, and then you can take the other guys and beat your guys. How do you do that? And he just had a simple answer. He said, I got the formula. Well, whatever formula he had, I guess it worked.

Well, you know, when it comes to this, I have the formula. I’m gonna tell it to you today. You’re either in or you’re out. It’s your life. I got my scholarship. I was just counseling a guy, you know, a lot of times their life’s a total mess, and you go into counsel with ’em and they try to counsel you. And I’m not really confused at all about who’s counseling and who’s screwed up. I told this guy, I said, hey, you be quiet. You’re all screwed up. I’m doing great.

He’s looking at me. I said, I ain’t perfect, but my life works now. I got the formula finally. I said, now gimme your demographic. Tell me a little bit about your story. He was a professional counselee. You know, the guy what I’m talking about, profession. He said, I’ve been in therapy 10 years. Now this guy’s a total basket case, completely overwhelmed with fear. I said, well, I’ve been counseling you 60 seconds and I know something about you. He goes, what do you know about me? You’re a narcissist. What? He was completely offended. How do you say that? What a judgment. I said, it’s not a judgment. It’s a hundred percent right. He said, then how, how do you say, you don’t even know me, I’m a narcissist. I said, you just told me you’ve been in therapy for 10 years. Who do you talk about the whole time you’re in therapy?

I could see a little light going off. He goes, me. I said, you talk about yourself the whole time. You even pay some dude to sit there and listen to you. Now, I said, I’ll give it a couple of points. Maybe it helped you quote or some, hang on or cope. But I said, it sure hadn’t cured you. So, I’m not here to bash. There are different kinds of therapy. All this guy wanted to do was sit around. He’s totally self-absorbed. I run into so many guys, they look like they’re interested in you and the community, but they’re completely absorbed with themself. Here’s another little insight into the formula. When you see somebody completely self-absorbed, here is a secret you can know about them. They’re full of fear. Yeah. You connect the dots about someone who’s greedy. Men are only looking for two things to stay on the formula. Security and significance. That’s it. It’s not real complicated. That’s the DNA. We just split the atom. Security and significance. And people who keep stacking it up, they’re greedy, they’re self-absorbed. They honest to God think they’re gonna find security and significance like that.

Now, when I see a man finally get the formula and submit to it, I was just out at Pendleton speaking to 500 Warrior Class Marines. And I said to them at one part during the presentation, these guys are about to deploy for Iraq. They’re there now. I said, look, they can put a beret on your head and put that uniform on you, but that doesn’t make you a Marine. Their battalion commander stood up in the back, did just like that. I’m gonna tell you about these guys at the end of the talk.

But, when you look at your life, what’ll change all the rules is where you have your ultimate hope. The apostle Paul said, if we put our hope in today only, we’re to be pitied, let me reroute that. We’re pitiful. I will tell you, you’ll lead a pathetic life, no matter how good you look, or what club you belong to, if you have your hope in this world, because you will live a life of suspended animation, fear, and anxiety. Now, I’m just coaching you up. I’m not a preacher. I don’t have a PhD. I’m not a theologian. I’m a coach. I give locker room talks, though it does scare me the way people introduce me sometimes. I mean, to me, living in Washington’s like living in Yankee land, it’s Virginia, but they’re all Yankees to me up there. And some of these organizers try to puff up their events. I was telling the fellas, I recently got introduced to Washington, like, here is Jerry Leachman. Jerry was an All-American at the University of Alabama and captain of a national championship team. And I was looking around thinking, oh my gosh, I hope Kenny Stabler’s not in the audience tonight.

I was a nobody down there, but I lettered. I ate the same steak Johnny Musso ate, you know? And, you know, but I wasn’t confused that I was not and am not a notable, but it was during my experience as a player, seeing how insecure even all these All-Americans were. What have you done for me yesterday that I got the formula? I really think it came to me during the Ole Miss freshman game. I was a captain for a game captain. And I just remember watching the sunset. We lost to them by two points. I had a wonderful day punting. I had a nine-yard punt. That was my only, that’s my career record at Alabama. Nine yards.

And I was the kind of guy when we lost, I’d cry at Lanier High School. I lived three miles from the school. I wouldn’t even let my mother drive me home. I’d walk home just completely upset, weeping, hated losing ’cause I had my ultimate hope in winning. You can have your ultimate hope in money, your stuff, but I will tell you, it can all be taken away from you in a heartbeat. Watch the news tonight. And I remember watching the sunset over there at Ole Miss that day and, and looking over. And the clock had 58 seconds left. And I just looked back at the sunset, and that’s all I could think about was how awesome God was. This was something new for me.

Now, Tony Snow came to me about five years ago. People love Tony. He said, you know, I can’t make the journalist group because I’ve made a commitment to take my kids to school. But I’ve read the Bible through, and I have no idea what I read. And Tony, like everybody else that looks cool, looks accomplished, was living a life of fear and anxiety. And he said, will you mentor me in the scripture. I really don’t know anything about the Bible or what God actually says. So, I remember we went through the book of Philippians ’cause my mentor, when I started my walk with Christ at Alabama, he took me through the book of Philippians. I’ve had such great mentors. Dr. Barker here in town was the guy that took me through the book of Philippians. I learned now from a fellow named Tim Keller up in New York City, Dick Woodward, down in Virginia Beach.

I’ve had great coaches and mentors in my life. Seek ’em out. Don’t wait for ’em to find you. You seek ’em out. We all need to be coached up. Anyway, Tony got it. He got the formula. And what is it? You better put your hope in something that can never be taken away from you. My hope is the joy of heaven. My hope is that this world is so fleeting. I get it. Things I used to take so seriously. I don’t even, I don’t even fight with my wife much anymore. You know, we still have sex, but we don’t fight that much. Of course, it’s like a hot day in Alabama where your dog’s chasing a cat and they’re both walking, but it still happens.

Hey, a lot of you guys, you’re right where I am.

You know, Tony got it. He didn’t place his security in being a national figure on Fox News. And he called me one day and he said, well, you’re my chaplain. Could you come down to my office at Fox? The president has asked me to be the press secretary. I’ll have to take a bridge loan to do it. I’m gonna be in the negative. I’ll have to go into debt to work at the White House. I said, Tony, is this and I said, no, it’s not personal, it’s just business. I’m your chaplain. Is this, is this another ego deal? Or something like that, or what? He said, you know what? I knew you were gonna nail me on all that stuff. No, I just, I feel a calling to serve the president and serve the country and our people.

I love America and I love American people. I said, that’s, that’s really the reason to go. Now you go, but you be a light there. Don’t be confused why you’re there. You know, when your hope’s not in this world, you’re almost fearless. You really are. I remember the day my mentor said, you’ve given your life to Christ. Have you ever given your stuff to Christ? I said, what’s that got to do with anything? He said, well, it’s kind of dumb. You’d give your life to Christ, but you wouldn’t say all your possessions belong to Christ. I said, will that help my life. He said, it’ll make you fearless.

Christ said, watch out for greed. You know, he never said, watch out for adultery ’cause when you’re committing adultery, you’re pretty aware you’re doing it, you know, while you’re doing it. But when you’re greedy, most of the time you don’t even know it. That’s amazing. And you know, I have guys ask me for counseling sessions and they’ll confess things to me. They want me to work on issues with ’em. And the common ones are sexual temptation, pride, anger. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a guy come to me and say, you know, I’m greedy. Would you work with me on that? Isn’t that interesting, ‘cause when you’re greedy, you don’t even know you are. Well, Jesus said there are 500 sayings of Christ. And he said, you can only spend your life in one of three ways. You can waste it. Just sleepwalk through life.

That would be the quintessential trust fund baby, with no vision, no conviction. They completely waste their lives. You could sell yourself. This is a huge category. Somebody, something, someone, they’ll put a price on your life, and you can sell your soul to get in the right group, to reach the right strat in society. Get in the right club. Get the right house. Be in the right neighborhood. You can sell yourself to get it. All the while going to church, talking about Jesus. Look, I don’t get real confused with religious chatter when I work with people. I’ve heard it all. Most of it’s B.S.

What you do is what you believe. Everything else is just religious talk in the long run. That’s the reality of it. Well, Tony got a hunger for God’s word. He got a love from the Lord in his life. He was free and he was fearless. He loved everybody in Washington, Democrats, Republicans, like they all loved Tony. His funeral was in the Catholic cathedral up there. The President spoke, but he was freed up, as they say, because he shifted his hope from this present world and put all the chips in heaven. Jesus said, store up for yourself treasures in heaven. Listen boys, I’m coaching you up today. Does he know what he’s talking about? Or do you know more? How’s it all working out for you?

Tony got so hungry for the word of God before he left the West Wing, he called me up one day and he said, I haven’t been in a Bible lately. I’ve been working around the clock. Can you come down here today at four o’clock to the White House? I said, yeah. Went down there, went through the gate, went in the West Wing. The Press Secretary has one of the big, apart from the Oval Office, his office is the biggest there. Tony cleared everybody out of his office. He said, I want a lesson from the Bible. You know, I was teaching him something. I can’t remember what, he had, colon cancer. And right in the middle of the lesson, he just doubled over in his desk and was shaking a little bit, and his eyes were closed. And I just kind of froze up and stopped talking. Didn’t know what was gonna happen. And then he stopped shaking. I guess he got control of a surge of pain he had. And one eye open. He said, why’d you stop talking? He said, Tony looks like you got the game on here. I mean, I didn’t know if I, he said, I want to hear the word of God. Keep going.

I just thought, golly, guys like that right there. I shortened the lesson. I said, we gotta get you to the Secret Service and over to Georgetown Hospital where they can relieve you of this pain. The last sessions we did, I took him to see Joe Gibbs before he died ’cause he loved Coach Gibbs with his son. Coach spent an hour privately with him and gave autographs him Redskins helmets and whatnot. Tony said it was one of the greatest hours of his life ’cause they talked about Christ and their hope. Joe’s hope isn’t in the NFL, which stands for not for long. That’s what this whole world stands for. Not for long.

I would call Tony. He said he left the White House. He said, I get $50,000 a speech for 30 minutes. He said, I can’t, I’m praying for a miracle, but I can’t leave Jill penniless with all these kids. And he began to go around and to give these speeches and get some money up for his family. So, we’d do sessions over the phone. He’d be in the room with room service. But he completely shifted his hope, and it made him fearless. You know, his last days were his finest hours. You will never have your finest hour if your hope is in this world, boys. You know what I’m telling you is right today. This hope. Why does it make you stronger and braver? I’ll tell you. There is a hymn by Ralph von Williams, “For all the Saints”. There’s a line, stanza in that hymn that says, “when the strife is fierce and the warfare long, steals on the ear, the distant triumph song, then hearts are brave again and arms are strong.”

What lovely poetic words in these classic hymns and what the composer is telling us is, you’re in a long-haul battle. A long haul battle. Now see, Tony’s battle with his cancer was the long haul. Now there are guys going around the country making millions of dollars, telling you to have confidence in yourself. Take time to visualize and walk like you’re going somewhere, you know? And these are the guys that pump this blue smoke up your underwear and they’re, they’re rich. You know, that may get you enough. That is basically adrenaline by the way. That may get you through the short run. But what if you have a long haul? What if you have to make a decision where there is no chance for survival? How do you be that brave? In the hymn it says “the distant triumph song,” you’re in a long-haul battle and everybody’s about to give up and it really is apparent you’re gonna lose. So why even try? And yet over the hill you hear it, the footsteps of an approaching army. You hear the horses, and you hear the drumbeat, and they’re your guys. You don’t see ’em yet. They haven’t engaged one enemy soldier. But immediately at the sound of the footsteps, your arms are made stronger. Your hearts are made braver.

You know, I dedicated, Holly and I dedicated everything we had to the Lord that day when my mentor challenged me on that. I didn’t know what I was getting in for ’cause three weeks later, we were living on Dolly Ridge Road here, and I came home from work. Our carport door was smashed in and everything we had was gone. Now I was kind of a new Christian. I didn’t know how to speak Christianese. So, I’ll quote my exact words. I said, well, son of a bitch, you know, that’s exactly the way I felt about the whole thing. I listened to that preacher boy. I give God all my stuff. And a couple of idiots came in here and stole a whole van full of God’s stuff, you know. It wasn’t even that great of stuff. I guess God wanted it back. You know. When my wife came home from work, I was in the front yard whistling. I just had to laugh. I was not in despair. I started to get the formula. My hope really wasn’t in that stuff. You could say, well it wasn’t that great. Well, if it’s, if you do a percentage, if it’s a hundred percent, it was a hundred percent of our stuff. They literally pulled a U-Haul in and loaded it up and left. Why’d they pick us? Good Lord! They should have come to your house, Simmons.

The sheriffs came in. Holly’s whistling. She found a pan. They didn’t take all the spaghetti noodles and she’s in there with what’s left boiling some spaghetti. We had a can of Prego left. Praise God. We’re in business. Finally, the sheriff put his pen down. He said, what the crap is going on here? He said, I do a couple of these a day. Your wife’s in there whistling. I said, well, if you asked me the question, then you have to listen to the answer. And you know what he got an ear full of. Our hope was not in this world. He said, God sent us here tonight. My partner killed a guy out in Bessemer in the line of duty. He’s been in despair and depression. Now tell us this formula you’re talking about. Look, if you like living a life of fear, keep doing what you’re doing or listen to the rest of the talk ’cause I’ll show you the way forward now, right here, right now. When Goliath, the giant, scholars say he was eight feet tall when he came down to the valley of death and he bellowed out the Bible says, fight me. Now, this was a representational battle where the champions fought in behalf of their people. It said, Saul and the army of God were afraid. They lost heart and they were filled with terror.

And little David gets up, most of you’re vaguely familiar with this story and says, let not a man lose heart. Now, isn’t that amazing? This kid says, don’t lose heart. He had the formula. Now here it is, Saul and the army of God, the biggest challenge of their life and if they don’t rise up and meet this challenge. Some of you may be facing one of the biggest challenges of your life now in this period. If you’re not, you will. Because I’ll tell you this, there are some dreams that cannot be in some storms. You cannot weather. You may think you’re bad to the bone, you get my number and call me when you, something happens and you go, that guy was right. There are some dreams that cannot be. There are some storms you cannot weather. And you know what? If they don’t rise to meet this challenge, Saul and the army of God, you know what the consequences are? Death. All their women are gonna be raped. All their stuff pillaged. And they will be in slavery the rest of their life. You live a life of fear and anxiety. You are in, dude. And David says, don’t let a man lose heart. His hope wasn’t in this world. And the giant was offended. What, is he sending a boy out here? Is this a joke? Now what did Goliath have? Goliath had brute strength. Number one, absolute physical prowess. Number two, he was high tech, says he had bronze this and bronze that even tells what, what the tip of his spear weighted. Number three, he had self-confidence. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me. He banished all thoughts of fear through visualization, which is very dangerous because he was out of touch with reality ’cause the giant was in danger; didn’t realize that. He was so confident.

What about David? David was small, low-tech, staff and a sling and some rocks, but he said, I come in the name of the Lord. Amen.

And he killed that guy. And you know what? He went online. Talk about fearless. Do you long for a heart like that? Listen to what I’m saying. He looked at this giant, his biggest challenge of his life. He said, oh, shut up. I’m gonna cut your head off. And he did it. Coach Bryant, you say it ain’t bragging if you can do it. And he did it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but there’s a third group in this story. And they’re all the cowards laying in the ditch. You know, all the soldiers laying in the ditch. You got three components, you got Goliath, you got David, you got all the cowards in the ditch. Now all the sermons you’ve probably heard tell you to be like David, to watch David and be inspired and emulate David. Let me tell you, you’re not David in this story. I’m not David in this story. They portray the giant as some coward. No, no, no. The Bible said he was a champion. He wasn’t a coward. He was a champion. What this story is, is just two different ways you get courage. One, you just tell yourself you’re good enough and banish all thoughts of fear and just march out into the world.

Others, you go, you know what? My hope’s not in this world. I have nothing to fear from this world ’cause my chips aren’t in this world in the first place. You’re not a cynic, I’m an optimist.

But this will make you fearless. Three teenage boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Real famous little vacation Bible school skit. The most powerful man in the world says, you’re gonna worship our idols or I’m gonna, I’m gonna fry you kids. Who will rescue you. I love this. These kids play offense, not defense. They said, Hey King, you know what? Our God can rescue us if He wants to, but if he doesn’t, we really don’t give a crap. We don’t care. Because here’s one thing we’re not confused about. We’re not worshiping these idols.

Jesus kept saying, I’m not of this world. Your life will only make sense in every circumstance if your ultimate hope is not of this world, and then, in every circumstance it’ll make sense. Your arms will be made stronger, your heart will be made braver. I don’t know about you, but for me, the choice is easy.

Back to this David and Goliath thing, and then I’m gonna tell you about these Marines and put it down on the tarmac.

You know who we are in this story? We’re the cowards in the ditch. There comes a time in a man’s life when you’ve just gotta face who you are. We’re the cowards in the ditch. David was their champion. He won for them that day and he imputed to them a victory they didn’t even get out of the ditch to fight. I’ve realized that’s the only way I’m gonna make it. He imputed to them a victory they didn’t even fight. They were winners because their champion was the winner.

I wanna ask you something. Do you have a champion in your life or are you just going it alone? I’m not getting after you. I’m just coaching you up. I talk to all men like they’re my boys. I love them and I’m gonna coach ’em up, tell ’em the truth, get ’em to face it. Get ’em to plug into the formula. Then I’m gonna send ’em out on the tunnel and we’re gonna knock people naked. That’s the way I minister to guys. Men, we all better have a champion in our life. Christ is the ultimate warrior. He’s my champion. I’m following Him. My hope is not in this world. I’m not saying I’m macho, I’m anybody, but I’m almost fearless. I will confess to you the fear that chases me around that I struggle is not even for myself. I have four grandkids and always fear something bad might happen to ’em, you know, getting hit by a car or something like that, and I have to give them back to the Lord. But I’m pretty much fearless. It is way fun living like this. And it all has to do with my hope not being in this world. It’s like two guys go to a job and the first guy, they say, now look, you’re gonna work here. And the job is drudgery. It’s terrible. At the end of the year, you’re gonna get $15,000. Now you gotta show up on time and do this totally cruddy job. The second man is told you got the same job. He has the identical job. You gotta show up and do your job. At the end of the year, you’re getting $30 million.

Now. Same job, same present reality. Yet the first guy grumbles, doesn’t like it. Shows up late and after two months he just quits. Second guy, man, he’s on time. He is whistling. Hey, this is a great job, isn’t it? Same reality. He just has a different hope at the end of the road. Listen, David didn’t do this with positive thinking. I mean, it doesn’t say David went over to the cowards in the ditch goes, guys, come on. You can do it. Visualize us, chopping him up together.

Richard Simmons wasn’t gonna say – the other Richard Simmons – I’m gonna keep an eye on you.

No, you can’t have courage like that in the face of a hopeless battle. There are a few things positive thinkings can get you by, but not hopeless and not a long haul. There’s a church up in New York City, Grace Episcopal Church in Lower Manhattan. There is a plaque, if you’re ever up there, find the church, walk in, there’s a plaque that’s a commemorative plaque to Edith Course Evans. She was an upper-class lady from New York. She was a passenger on the Titanic. When the boats started going down and it was apparent that could not be rescued, only the people in the lifeboats would live. She had a seat. Edith Evans had a seat in one of lifeboats and they were gone. And one more woman came to take her seat and she said, is there any way I could get on the boat? I have children waiting for me in New York City. Edith had no children. Edith stood up, told the lady, you have children that await you. I don’t. Take my seat. Now how do you make a decision like that through a positive self-image? No, Edith’s hope was somewhere else. We need a champion in our life. We need a champion in our life.

Well, I want to tell you this last story.

Because I’m associated with the National Football League, I get invited to go a lot of places and, just now at this stage in my career, I kind of choose where I want to be. I was invited to speak to a battalion of Warrior class Marines in Pendleton, north of San Diego. And I went out there and they were assembled in an auditorium. And the battalion commander had me out front and he said, Chaplain Leachman, I want to give you a quick briefing before you speak to these men. Our military chaplains are under such pressure not to talk about the Lord. They become, for the most part, he said a lot of ’em are good men, but they’re in a hard spot, kind of politically correct. Chaplain, we’re going to war. These men need to hear something. You’re a guest speaker. You’re in the NFL. You’ll have credibility when you start speaking. You could lose it, but you’ll have it at the start. And if you start talking about Christ, what the heck am I gonna do about it? You’re a guest speaker. I can’t control you. Which was code for, by God, please tell these boys about Christ. He said, now chaplain, I want you to notice when you get in the auditorium, the average age of these Marines, 18 to 23 years old. They’re kids, a lot of ’em have had scrapes with the law, bad relationships with their fathers. They volunteered to go in the Marines at a time of war. This should tell you something about these young people and this is a crucially important time in their life. For a lot of ’em, it’s the last shot of getting it turned around. If some of ’em, if they don’t turn it around, they’ll be in prison. And he said, by the way, one last thing, at no time Chaplain during your presentation, should you refer to these men as soldiers, it just ticks ’em off. They’re Marines. I love that. But it scared me to death ’cause I was afraid I was gonna screw up. And I get, you know. Now I’m walking down the aisle, fellas, and I’m thinking, boy, at this stage in my career, what group would intimidate me? I mean, I’ve been, you know, up to the Congress, the White House, neighborhood, young life groups, inner city, high school teams, college teams, pro teams, you know, up and outers, down and outers. I gotta tell you, soon as I got up front and turned around and faced those 500 Warrior Class Marines, I was totally intimidated. It was a lesson for me. When I speak to a football team, they may have physical pros, but they’re just gonna play football. They’ll be fine. Maybe somebody will break a leg or something. They were so young when I looked at ’em and I thought, you know, some of these kids, they’re not even gonna be here next year. There was an edge to this group that I’d never, now I work with military personnel, but not like this. And I said, good morning, men. Good morning, Marines. They’re like, Oorah. And my hair peeled back. You know, I had a different hairdo after they said that. The first 10 minutes, the commander gave me 50 minutes, I was kind of grinding. I was doing the best material I could do, but it’s kind of like, you know, some sparkling water with no bubbles.

You know, the Holy Spirit, the Lord will communicate with you. All of you, if you open up your heart and say, I’m tired of living a life of fear and anxiety. Really, I’m just sick of it. I want to champion in my life. My hope needs to be somewhere else. I want to be brave and want my arms to be strong. And when my greatest challenges come, I wanna look ’em right in the eye. Feel lucky, punk? Make my day. When I have to give my seat up like Ms. Evans did, I want to, I want to be ready to do that. In the face of hopelessness, to have strong arms and a brave heart. I thought, this is what they need. They need strong arms and a brave heart. They’re bad to the bone. These are bad mothers I’m looking at. They can kill you 20 ways. You just get to pick a number. And the Lord communicated with me. And about after 10 minutes of my talk, I just stopped. Sometimes you see a speaker, they don’t get toned, they don’t get radar locked, and they get toned. You’ll just see ’em shift a little bit. And they got it. They got tone. They’re on you. And I got tone. And I just stopped what I was saying. And I just said, you know what? And I paused. And then they started leaning in a little. I said, I’ve got socks in my drawers at home that are older than most of you guys. They chuckled. I said, I’m gonna give you the talk for the rest of the time I have that your father never gave you. And I’m telling you, they just kinda leaned in. And from that moment on, they were mesmerized. I tried to give them a vision like I’m trying to vision cast with you. You gotta have a vision. I’m just shocked at how many guys I counsel, and they have no vision, just running around, scared to death, trying to look cool, a vision for their life, their family, the champion in their life. They made it through basic training. They’re going into war. You better have a champion in your life, or you go it alone. You choose. I don’t know about you, but for me, the choice is real easy.

Here’s the last thing. When this was, my time was up ’cause when the colonel says you end at the top of the hour, the Marines are, that’s not a suggestion. They, they mean that. So, I was looking at that clock. I said, and I kind of had an authority. I felt it. I was not only their chaplain, but for a few moments, I was their daddy. I said, men, bow your head. I wanna pray a fatherly prayer over you. And heads went down just, and I paused for a minute while I was trying to think of what to pray for these Marines. And you know what I heard all over that auditorium was weeping. I thought, I’ll never forget this moment. I talked to all these guys that think they don’t need Christ as their champion. They can do it alone. Those guys are absolute pansies compared to these dudes. And these dudes know more than anybody they need a champion in their life. Completely opened their hearts, even wept. And I said a prayer over ’em like that I pray over my children. When it was over, the colonel came up and said, we’re gonna go another half hour, which they never do. It’s like we had a little revival at Pendleton. All the kids came up, took my cards, come and see us. So, they’ve invited me to come and be with ’em in Iraq in January, which I probably will do.

Now if Marines need a champion. You honest to God gonna sit there and tell me you don’t need one? What are you thinking about? You may not know a thing about it. I was real rough when I started. I still don’t know that much about it. But I’m not confused about this. My hope’s not here. Yet, I still love nice stuff, but I just don’t hope in it. And I have a champion. My hope can never be taken away from me. And that’s why I feel like I’m fearless. I wanna read this to you and pray a prayer over you.

Dr. Halverson, former senate chaplain was a mentor to me. I was given this, and he says this, “If you live for pleasure, you become shallow, empty, and giddy. If you live for fame, you become haughty, arrogant, and rude. You live for power and influence, you become overbearing, oppressive, live for wealth, you become greedy and selfish. If you live for God and become like Christ, you’ll become what God intended man to be. Man becomes like the God He worships. Jeremiah says they followed worthless idols, and they became worthless themselves. Vanity they pursued, vanity they became.”

Let me have a prayer over you and then we’ll be dismissed.

Lord, I pray that if anybody feels this way in this moment, they would say this. Lord Christ, I ask You to be my champion and absolve me from my guilt and shame. I ask You to free me from a life of fear and anxiety. Lord, I get it. I need to stop counting on people and things to give me what I think I need. I need to count on You and live a life of bravery and have strong arms. Lord, we humbly beg Your pardon and ask Your forgiveness. Jesus, You’re the ultimate champion. Please count me as one of Your men. Make my arms stronger. Make my heart braver. Show me the way forward. In Christ’s name, amen.

As we leave, men, I’d like to entreat you to greet each other in the ancient greeting. Shaking and a greeting of the hand with this salutation, the Lord be with you. Let’s greet each other as we leave.


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