Sunday, May 08, 2016

Never Give The Devil A Ride

Dr. Andy McDaniel
Sr. Pastor, Bounty Land Baptist Church

As a Pastor for over 15 years now I can say that I have had many inspirations for Messages over the years. Certainly headlines from the world over can create a thought. Personal conflicts in my own life or the lives of those around me can place a spiritual mindset that allows a direction toward a certain Passage of Scripture which in turn develops a new sermon or even sermon series.

However, I can also say that my involvement in and around the professional wrestling business has had much to offer me in ways of presentation, illustrations, and even wording at times. I cannot honestly say, in the over 500 sermons that I have written, how many times I have used the phrase "if you will" thanks Dusty Rhodes. Over the years there have been a few “that’s the bottom line" and yes, even a "Woooo!" So as you can see, being a longtime fan of pro wrestling, as well as having been blessed to be involved and even greater, make friends in the business, it has impacted my ministry in a very personal way. One might not normally connect wrestling and preaching, but for me it has become a very typical process. I mean Tully Blanchard, Nikita Koloff, Ted DiBiase, and George South, just to name a few, have all spoken in my churches over the years.

It was not so long ago that the Mid-Atlantic Gateway unknowingly provided a new inspiration for a Message. The link they posted for the song “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” by Sweet GA Brown, caused the creative juices to start flowing, if you will. (Just couldn’t help that one.)

As I listened to these words I got the Message. It was clear: when dealing with the devil we find that indeed he has no conscience and will go to any length to create havoc in our lives. Whether turning Hank on to heroin or helping John Denver fly a plane, selling shotgun shells to Kurt Cobain or yes, even breaking Wahoo’s leg, (all the works of the devil outlined in this song) we can see that this enemy we face does not care about who he hurts or what he has to do in order to bring pain to our lives.

I have never forgotten that Saturday morning when I witnessed the dastardly Greg “the Hammer” Valentine break the leg of my childhood hero, Wahoo McDaniel. Growing up in the era of, what I like to still believe was the greatest pro wrestling ever, those memories are still a very vivid picture in my mind.

Of course sharing the same last name, I always felt a connection with Wahoo. As a kid he was my first wrestler autograph. He was at the first show I attended at Charleston County Hall. Later in life he would attend some of the shows I promoted and it was simply a kid’s dream come true to spend personal time with my hero from years past. Needless to say, as I heard this very catchy tune, not only was that Saturday morning immediately replaying in my mind, I also remembered how much that hurt my heart as a kid. How could this horrible man, Greg Valentine, do such a terrible thing? How could he break Wahoo’s leg and take him out of wrestling and keep him from working? How could he not care that all of Wahoo’s fans would miss their hero during his healing time? Yes, the questions could go on and on and certainly makes it clear what is missing in wrestling today, but that is a topic for another article.

Thinking over this material and studying the subject, it led me to a new sermon. The title of the Message was a paraphrase of an old saying, “Never give the Devil a ride, because he will end up driving.” The Message was built around the concept of being free to do whatever we want to, live however we want to, but always keeping in mind that it comes at a cost. I made the point of allowing compromise to enter into our thought process indeed opens to door for the enemy to come right in and he very well may use that as a chance to create a problem with addiction, he may use that as a chance to take one down the road to depression and convince them suicide is the answer or he may bring about a situation that someone you really care about gets hurt simply in order to hurt you and cause you to lose faith.

On that Sunday morning as I began to speak I used this as my introduction:

Most of you know my affection for pro wrestling, in particular Mid-Atlantic wrestling from the early seventies until the reign of the four horsemen. You have heard me use many illustrations and have even seen a few pictures of people like Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniel and Swede Hanson when I reference real men. Today I am going to talk about dealing with the devil and once again wrestling or at least a wrestling connection provided my inspiration for this Message and of course the Lord provided the words and material I will share. 

Recently a friend of mine by the name of Dick Bourne, who writes about old-school wrestling, placed a link to a song on his website the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. This song was called “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” which of course, for all of the longtime fans of wrestling, this was a major event in its day. As we explore the idea of compromise I want us to think about the freedom we have. We are told in 1 Corinthians 6:12:
 “All things are Lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (not profitable): all things are Lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any”
In other words, if I chose to, I can do whatever I want to. However, I must remember it will come with a price tag. I want to begin by defining two words: 
  • Caution: alertness and prudence in a hazardous situation, a warning against danger or evil.
  • Compromise: settlement or an endangering, especially to one’s reputation, exposure to danger, hurting one’s integrity. 

When looking at these two words we can paint a picture of the great need to be cautious that we do not compromise who we are or our witness. 

I have titled this Message “Never give the devil a ride, because he will end up driving. The words in the song “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” serve as an example of just how easy one can get in a situation that ends terribly. Often times it is not that someone is seeking pain, hurt, destruction or even death, it often times comes because the chance was given, in other words the door was opened. 

We must understand that indeed God loves us, in this passage from 1 Corinthians Paul makes it clear that we have the freedom to make our own choices for life, but it is not without a cost. In this we must be mindful that we remain cautious about where we are, what we are doing, how we act, what we say and think. These are all so important in order to keep compromise at bay and indeed keep that passenger side empty because all the devil needs if for us to just slow down a little bit and he will hop right in. We do not have to come to a complete stop, all he needs is a small window of opportunity.

So what do we do? 

How do we get there?

Where do we draw the line, if you will?

The Message continued and I was able to use several more illustrations from this train of thought and at the end we had a great time in service that morning and indeed a powerful point was made. I wanted to share this little story with everyone and say a special thanks to Dick for placing that song on the website that day. I guess you would have never guessed you would inspire a sermon for a preacher that week, but then again when we have known the cast of characters that we have known for the last 25-30 years, I guess anything is possible.

So to all my fellow Pastors out there who are wrestling fans and you need a sermon illustration or maybe a great talking point, check out the Gateway, you never know what you may find.

- Andy McDaniel

"Breaking Wahoo's Leg (and Other Transgressions)"
is the post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway mentioned in this article.