The Richest Caveman - 2014

The Richest Caveman - 2014

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9
Date: 11/08/2014 
Happiness does not come from fame or fortune. Pastor Doug Batchelor shares his life story and how he came to learn about joy in God. Recorded at the Landmarks of Prophecy series in 2014.

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And I finally started reading the Bible so I could argue with Christians. And I said, 'This can't be true.' and I thought either Jesus was crazy or He was a liar or He's the Lord.

>>What I sometimes do during one of these series of meetings is I just take a section of time and I share with you my personal experience of how I came to the conclusions of the things that I’m sharing with you and knowing the background sometimes helps. I’d like to begin with a verse from the Bible and this one is from the first book of Peter -- 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"

The theme of what I’d like to share with you this morning is very simple: the world is looking for happiness, but most of the world is looking in the wrong places for happiness. People think that happiness comes from fame and fortune, from having enough friends or popularity, or from, you know, just materialism or physical satisfaction and those things don't bring real lasting happiness. Now I came from a very unusual set of parents and I’ll take a moment and share about that. You ever heard - that's my Mom and Dad - you ever heard the expression that opposites attract? It's strange that the irony of that - that somehow people who are so opposite end up getting married. I don't know that it was ever more true than with my mother and my father. My mother was Jewish. My father came from a Baptist background. My mother was a Democrat. My father was a Republican. My mother was born in New York City and my father was born in a small Oklahoma town. He was a country boy. I mean, they were about as opposite as you could be.

Just a little bit about Dad for a moment: he was born very poor. He somehow got himself through high school and got some lower college experience, did flight training - was very intrigued with flying - knew Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh and some of those people. After the war he began a business of buying and selling and leasing aircraft until it was the largest aircraft leasing business in the world - called international air leasing - and was also very active. He liked racing cars. He'd water ski - flew planes - had a lot of money, but he wasn't a very happy man and just everything was work. I mean, he'd work just regular 16-hour days but then he would, pretty much, drink himself to sleep - starting at lunch he would have his first cocktails. By the time he came home he was almost always drunk. We were just always worried - was he in a good mood or a bad mood - and we'd run and hide if Dad came home drunk in a bad mood.

So it wasn't always a very happy home and so when I meet people that think, 'Oh, if I could just make more money I’d be happy.' I thought, 'Oh, you really think so?' it doesn't work that way. Jesus said, 'One's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.' Money does not make a very good foundation for happiness. Now I’m going to switch over and talk about Mom for a minute. Very different - Mom was Jewish - her maiden name was Tarshis. She was born in New York City. She went to California with her family when she was young. They were looking for a better life. And Mom really was intrigued with wanting to be famous. She was very talented. She could sing, but beyond that, Mom she really became famous as a film critic. During that era it was a very powerful position. If a critic said a movie was bad, they lost a lot of money. If it was good they could make a lot of money. And so, she knew a lot of powerful people and movie stars in Hollywood.

Here's some pictures of Mom with some of the different celebrities. This is Mom with Sylvester Stallone, Muhammad Ali - anyone remember George Burns?

>>Yes.

>>Paul McCartney. Here's Mom with Warren Beatty, jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Natalie Wood - some people thought they even looked a little alike. Here she is with Sally Fields who's still acting today. Clint Eastwood - still producing. Paul Newman. Roger Moore - one of the James Bonds. So she knew these people and when we were growing up, my brother and I - we didn't realize, you know, how famous some of these folks were, but famous composers and singers and actors were coming to and fro in our home, both in L.A. - she lived in Beverly Hills and New York City. And the one thing I noticed is they weren't very happy. It's all an illusion. It doesn't really mean anything. Movies and television - it just creates an illusion because you multiply an image, but they're just normal people and they struggle.

Now I grew up mostly in New York City - born in Southern California - Mom moved to New York City after she divorced Dad. People were amazed the marriage lasted six years. I was three years old when they divorced. Bounced around between my grandparents and my father and my mother because they were so busy with their careers that we just kind of felt like we were in the way. I went to 14 different schools. Part of the reason is that Mom and Dad were changing custody, part of the reason is because I was getting in trouble and they kept changing me from school to school, and it didn't help that Mom used drugs.

And I remember one day when I was 13 years old that Mom said, 'Well, eventually Doug, I know that you're going to try these things. I just as soon you did it at home.' And so she rolled a joint and she smoked pot with me. Very common occurrence in our home. Two or three times a week Mom and I would smoke pot or hashish and eat ice cream and she said, 'I just want you to do it at home.' Well, you know, it didn't stay at home. And so I started getting into all kinds of trouble and I kind of bounced around from one thing to another. I ran away from home the first time when I was 13. I was just looking for purpose. I used to think about suicide all the time because many of the public schools we went to, they said, 'There's no God.' and when you die you just turn back into fertilizer. There's no purpose.

And I remember, distinctly, when I was living in New York City, I went to the edge of one of these tall apartment buildings. You know, we lived in a building that was 20 floors up and - get out on the roof and I stood and I looked and I thought, 'You know, all I have to do is jump and I won't be unhappy anymore.' Do I need to tell you that I wasn't a very happy child? I just felt like my parents were busy with their careers and I just didn't have any peace or happiness. I believed you die and you turn back into dirt. And I thought I got in trouble in school all the time, 'Why not get it over with? All I’ve got to do is jump and I won't be hurting anymore.' The sad thing is I started thinking about that at seven years old, but God just kept holding it back. You know, one thing that helped me? I have an insatiable curiosity and I thought, 'If I kill myself today, something really interesting's bound to happen tomorrow and I’ll miss it.' (Laughter) and so I was able to postpone my suicide one day at a time, because of curiosity, for years.

Years later, I remember when Mom turned 40, she called me up. She said, 'Doug, you know, I realize that my beauty and talents are fading and I’m just thinking of ending my life.' I said, 'Mom, let me tell you how I dealt with that.' At this point I was a Christian. I said, 'You lose all your options when you commit suicide. You never know, it might get better tomorrow and you'll never find out if you kill yourself.' I said, 'Just take it one day at a time.' Years later she said, 'You know, that really helped me.' so I began to think, 'You know, why kill yourself by doing something boring like jumping off a building or taking a handful of pills?' I heard a beer commercial and it said, 'You only go around once in life, get all the gusto you can.' I wasn't real sure what 'gusto' was but I thought, 'Well, that sounds good to me. I’m going to - I’m just going to have as much fun as I can and I’ll just - I’ll kill myself having fun.'

And so I just began to live a very wild life with abandon. When I was living with Mom - I was already using drugs at home with Mom and I found out where her stash was so I already knew about that side. When I was living with Dad, Dad's specialty was alcohol. He lived in a mansion in Southern California with a butler and a maid and he had a complete bar in the house - stocked better than some city bars. And my friends and I, we would drink and I was getting into a lot of trouble. I started getting involved in stealing and fighting and drugs - I started smoking cigarettes and I was in and out of jail. I ran away from home several times. And so, I was getting into lots of trouble.

And you know what it was is, I wanted attention. I wanted my friends to like me and I just - everyone wants love and I just felt like nobody even cared about me and so I just tried so hard to get someone to like me, I’d do just about anything. When I was living with Dad - this is the island - that's a Google picture of Sunset Island #1 - that's where Dad lived. He was on the north part of that picture. Had a house right there on the bay. We had three boats in the backyard - had a yacht, a ski boat, and I had a little sail boat. And the friends that I grew up with on the island, we got bored in the summertime and we would go break into the homes of the other millionaires. We'd just sit around and say, 'What do you want to do?' 'I don't want to do that.' 'Let's go break into this home.' And so we'd go - and we'd dare each other. Just, you know, kids have nothing to do and so we'd go break into a home. It didn't matter what we stole, just steal something to show you were in there. I stole a tennis racquet - just anything. And then they started daring me - they'd say, 'I dare you to break in while the people are still walking around.' You could see the lights on. Because we knew the doors were open because the island had a security guard so people were very relaxed and so we'd break in and we'd steal something. They would dare me to jump off the bridge into the water and I would do it just, you know, just to try and get their attention.

Well things continued to progressively get worse with the drugs, the stealing - I began to break into other homes and stealing cars and run-ins with the police. I took traffic school several times before I even had a license because of the problems I got in - but something interesting happened. I finally left home when I was 15 and I told Dad - my Step-mother said, 'Either he goes or I go.' And I don't blame her. I was really a problem. Dad moved me into one of his hotels. He said, 'You've got to live here.' that didn't work very long and finally I said, 'Look, Dad, I’m going to go.' and he said, 'I don't know what else to do with you. I’ve tried everything.' and I said, 'I’m just going to have to go figure it out by myself.' and I left. And I took off hitchhiking at 15 years old. I went up to Boston. I had forged my driver's license, you know, I was born in 1957. I changed my learner's permit to '52. I got a false ID that said I was older than I was and so I got an apartment in Boston and I started breaking into homes and stealing - stealing cars, using drugs - I had a part-time job as a security guard - (laughter) - believe it or not. I did - a place called Boston intelligence - and so I’d guard places at night and then I’d steal during the day because it just looks like you're moving.

And while I was living like this in Boston, getting into lots of trouble, I met a friend who was very religious. And he was a security guard and he found out about what I was doing during the day and I said, 'Jerry, are you going to turn me in?' and he said, 'Oh no, Doug, I don't need to turn you in.' He said 'Your karma's going to get you.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'Everything you do comes back.'

>>Yep.

>>I said, 'There's no God.' I stole that television. I got rid of it and nothing happened to me.' He said, 'You'll see.' and not long after he told me that, I woke up in my apartment in Boston and my door was open. And I got my scruples together and I looked around - my TV was gone - and my radio. And I was mad. I called the police. I said, 'You've got to track these guys down. You know, there's thieves.' I said, 'I pay taxes for you guys to do your job.' And I was very indignant. And I started watching and I noticed that everything I did seemed to backfire.

>>Yep.

>>I’d steal something and - my friends were all all thieves - they'd steal it from me. Or I would steal something - and I was often high or drunk - and I’d hide it and I’d sober up and say, 'Where did I put that?' Or I misplaced the money. Or I’d steal something and, I remember once, I just risked my life. I stole this stereo, I got back, I plugged it in - it was broken. It didn't even work. (Laughter) and I started thinking, 'There must be a God.' You know, Jesus said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' and it seemed like everything I did it was backfiring on me.

What convinced me, finally, was a little thing. I went to someone's house - I didn't quit stealing immediately, I kind of tapered off. I went to someone's house and I stole a box of Krusteaz instant pancake mix (Laughter) and I know this sounds really dumb but, I did it because it was whole wheat pancake mix. (Laughter) Now you've got to just think about how dumb this is. I am drinking, I’m smoking, I’m using drugs, but I was a hippie and I thought, 'I’ll just use whole wheat pancake mix.' (Laughter) They had this brand-new box of Krusteaz instant pancake mix and this was back before they had the bar codes and they had the little round stamp on top. They'd stamp the top with the price - little circle - $1.19 - I stole it.

That day, I went back to my house and some friends had come by while I wasn't home. I had just bought a brand-new jar of Tang instant breakfast drink. Anyone remember that? My friends drank the entire jar and there, by the empty jar, was the lid and the lid was stamped $1.19. And I looked at the pancake mix and I looked at the lid and I thought, 'Crime doesn't pay.' (Laughter) I started thinking there must be a God. So I began to search. So I started getting into all these eastern religions and Buddhism - this was back in the days of the Beatles and everybody was meditating and the eastern religions were very intriguing in America. And so I was meditating and I was - I got into something called the spiritual science of DNA, and I took a little bit of, kind of, the Jewish heritage and mixed that in. And, of course, I’d gone to Catholic school and so I kind of made this big old potluck of all these different religions with myself as my own little pope trying to put it all together and I was very spiritual and I - I, you know, I’d quote suddenly from one religion and then from another religion. And while all this was happening, I was so spiritual and so religious, I’m still using drugs and drinking. I’m still a slave to my sins. It hadn't made me any better.

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Well, about this time, my father flew to Boston, and he made a special trip and he said, 'Doug, you need to go back to school. You're wasting your life.' My brother, Falcon, was sick. He couldn't take over the family business and I had a step-brother from Dad's third wife, Betty, and he was starting to do it. He couldn't. Dad said, 'You're throwing your life away. You need an education.' He said, 'Doug, I found a good school. You're going to love it.' He said, you like adventure? This is a school that's on a boat.' It was called the Flint School - there were two schools like this in the world back then. One they made a movie out of called White Squall - that was an all-boys' school. This one was co-ed. And so he said, 'Oh, you'll love it.' And he pled with me. I said, 'Okay.'

Somehow he got me a passport, flew me to Milan, Italy, put me on this boat. It was actually two sailboats that sailed together. It was called the Flint School and after we left I realized I’d sort of been tricked because this was a very unique school for the children of politicians and millionaires to get them out of their environments. They had a lot of kids getting mixed up with Moonies and cults and drugs back then and they got them out of the environment and put them in a controlled environment, taught them, you know, business principles. But they taught atheism. Now I’m very spiritual and they're showing films of Darwin. They're telling us to read the books of Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - I don't know if you know about that stuff. It's sort of like you're God and the captain said, 'Look, you're not going to have - you have to eat on the floor if you're not going to participate.' and so I’d say, 'Fine.' I’d eat on the floor. I disrupted the school and they said, 'Well, you're going to have to stay in your room.' And I had my friends bringing me food and it just - this went on for two months.

So we had an interesting experience. We were sailing from Northern Africa - Tunis, Africa - over to Port of Mahon, Spain. And on the way across we encountered just a terrible storm and water was coming in. The main sail ripped. The wind was howling. Captain was sea sick. The water was cold - it was Christmas time - and what do you think atheists do when they think they're going to die?

>>Pray. >>They started praying. And I was doing some praying. And - you make promises. You all know what you're doing wrong when that happens. And so, of course fear is the wrong reason to serve God. As soon as the storm was over we forgot all about the prayers and the promises. I managed to convince the captain, 'Look, I’ll cooperate for the next few weeks until Christmas break if you just let me go home for Christmas break. And they were so anxious to get rid of me, he called my Dad and said, 'You've got a deal.' and told Mr. Batchelor, 'We think Doug's shown great progress. We're going to let him come home for Christmas.' Because my Dad had to pay the whole year up front, they didn't care. They just wanted to get rid of me. So I got on the airplane in Madrid, Spain, ordered beer and got a pack of cigarettes and told them, I said, 'You will never see me again.' And they never did.

I got back to the States, went on a ski vacation with dad, when it was time to go back to school I ran away for the last time and I went hitchhiking across the country to a place I found when I was 15. In the mountains above Palm Springs there's a very tall 10,000-foot mountain called Mount San Jacinto. Halfway up this mountain there's a cave - there's some - several caves up there - and I said, 'I’m going to find God in nature.'

Now on my way out to Palm Springs, something interesting happened. I got stuck on the highway in Oklahoma. I was cold, hungry, all these trucks were going by and I was a little hung over and I was desperate and I said, 'You know, I ought to try praying.' And after standing there for eight hours freezing - because I had Florida clothing on - it was December in Oklahoma and it was freezing cold. I prayed and I said, 'Lord, I know I’ve been a terrible person. If You're there, will You please help me? And I need help with four things.' I said, 'Please help me to get a ride to where I’m going.' I had like 1,500 miles to go. I said, 'Please help me get some food.' I was hungry. 'Help me get some money.' I lost all my money drinking and playing pool the night before. And then I prayed for a ride with someone normal, because I was getting picked up by some very strange characters.

As soon as I finished praying, the next vehicle going by stopped, picked me up, took me all the way to my destination in Palm Springs, and preached to me all the way out there, which I didn't ask for. They gave me $40.00 when they dropped me off. They bought my food all the way out. Everything I prayed for, God gave me. I thought, 'What a coincidence.' (Laughter) but I had to listen to him or jump out of the car. So I listened to him and I thought, 'You know, the Bible's a fairy tale. Now I’m going to find God through nature.' So I moved up into this cave way up in these desert mountains and I just didn't want to be around people. I was so tired of the people in New York City and I didn't get along with people. I said, 'I’m just going to see if I can find God through nature.'

Well, the miracle is, when I moved into this cave, there was a Bible that someone had left in the cave up there in the hills and I finally started reading the Bible so I could argue with Christians. And, you know, I said, 'This can't be true.' but as I kept reading, I realized it is true. And I thought, 'What have I got to lose?' You know, I read in the encyclopedia that Jesus really lived. And I thought either Jesus was crazy or He was a liar or He's the Lord. He didn't lie. He wasn't crazy. Maybe God did become a man to save us and that there's a purpose for our lives.

So up there in the cave I finally decided, you know, I’ve tried everything else. I got on my knees, I said, 'Lord, I’m a mess. Will You come into my heart and give me some purpose for living?' and I was as far away from God as a person could be. I’m running around naked up in the mountains. I’m eating out of garbage cans, using drugs, smoking, lying, stealing - I mean, I was a big zero - and I said, 'Lord, will You give me some purpose for living?' And I felt Him forgive my sins. He came into my heart and everything began to change. Not all at once, but things began to happen.

One quick story, before we run out of time, I was so excited about the gospel and the changes God was making in my life, I said, 'Lord, I’m willing to tell people, but I’m a hermit. I don't know how that's going to happen, but if You - I feel like You're wanting me to teach and preach to others about You.' because I was so excited I said, 'You're going to have to let me know.' Not long after I prayed that prayer, I called my Mom in Beverly Hills. She said, 'Doug, you're never going to believe this, but I had lunch with someone from NBC. They want to fly up to your cave in a helicopter and interview you.' Right after I prayed and said, 'Lord, if You want me to witness for You, You let me know.' This is a picture of my Mom at my cave. She flew up in a helicopter. They did a national interview. It was all over the country that day. My friends in jail said they saw it three times in one day. (Laughter) And so, from that time to this, God's just opened doors for me to be sharing with other people. He has a plan for your life.

This is a picture of - I’ve been back to the cave several times over the years. This is our son Micah when he was like seven years old. He hiked up there with me. This is the waterfall and the pool right outside my cave. I went back up with the whole crew. That's Karen in the middle with Stephen and - I went back one year, and I actually brought another Bible and I left it in the cave - just in case. Kind of a little sentimental thing that I did.

But my immediate family is all passed away. My father, my mother - I was with Mom when she died. I was with my brother when he died. And I remember I was out walking with my brother one day - Falcon went to school. He got a college education. He tried to work for Dad as long as his health would permit. And you can tell I’m the black sheep of the family. This was at my brother's wedding. I kind of had to come out of the cave and you could tell. And I was walking with my brother one day and he said, 'Doug, you're lucky.' and I thought, 'Wow.' I said, 'You've got the house in Miami Beach on the water. You've got the boat. You've got the new cars. You've got all the things that the world wants.' He said, 'Doug, you're lucky.' he said, 'I’d give everything I have if I could have your lungs and live a little longer.' He said, 'God isn't fair.' - my brother said - he said, 'I’m so smart but I’m sick.' And he said, 'You're so healthy but you're stupid.' (Laughter) And, you know, my brother, he basically said, 'I know I’m dying. I would give everything if I could live a little longer. I wouldn't care about any of the stuff - any of the fame - if I could just live a little longer.' And I said, 'Falcon, do you want me to pray with you?' He used to tease me when I prayed, 'Oh yeah,' he said, 'Doug, you're going to pray over the food. Go ahead. Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub.' He used to tease - (Laughter) - but, you know, when he was dying I said, 'Falcon, do you want me to pray?' He said, 'Yes, please.'

And what profit is it if you gain the whole world? If you're famous - if you've got fortune - if you don't have life, you don't have anything. My brother would give everything for a little more of this life and yet, sometimes, we're reluctant to let go and let Jesus take our lives and have eternal life.

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Announcer: what if you could know the future? What would you do? What would you change? To see the future, you must understand the past.

Male: Alexander the Great becomes king when he's only 18, but he's a military prodigy.

Male: A hundred and fifty years in advance, Cyrus had been named.

Male: Rome was violent. They were ruthless. They were determined.

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