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Trade Paperback
144 pages
Feb 2004

Live Full, Die Empty

by Rick Godwin

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1

It’s a tragedy for any beloved child of God to die without realizing the gift of potential He has instilled in him or her.

I urge you to respond to God’s plan for your life. Listen to Him. Discover His vision for you. Live to your full potential, and when you die … die empty.

                                                - Rick Godwin


God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. The ransom He paid was not silver or gold. It was the precious lifeblood of His Son, Jesus Christ—the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

Demographic experts tell us that 5.8 billion people inhabit planet earth. Last night, another 124,000 were born. 124,000! All that human life exists on the planet; yet no two people are born with the same DNA or fingerprint. That means that God, with His awesome creativity, has produced in you an individual who can’t be duplicated.

You’re a unique specimen. There will never be another you. When you introduce yourself, joyfully proclaim, “Hello, meet an original!”

God isn’t in the business of making carbon copies. He makes us each unique so that all humankind is a fascinating mix of diversity. Agreement requires diversity. Unity demands diversity. If all of us were the same, then life would be boring. Thank God, you’re different from everyone else!

If two people are identical, then one is unnecessary. Why do you think God made you different from everyone else? He wants to teach you the principle of scarcity. Economists theorize that the value of something is determined by how rare it is; that is, the scarcer something is, the more it’s worth.

Oil, diamonds and gold are valuable because they are beautiful . . . and scarce. At the other end of the value spectrum, we see the unattractive . . . and plentiful. For instance, an asphalt parking lot qualifies as the latter. Men have sold their souls to steal and horde oil, diamonds and gold. But I’ve never seen anyone jump out of his car, dig up a chunk of asphalt and dash home to hide his stolen plunder. Asphalt isn’t a rare commodity.

Don’t Believe the Lies About You!

You’re a rare commodity. God made you unique and irreplaceable. To appreciate God’s gift, you must recognize how incredibly precious you are. The devil will try to devalue you through negative thoughts, anxiety, and demeaning words that break your spirit. If you succumb to the devil’s lies, you will ultimately abandon relationships, responsibilities and, perhaps even life itself. Even worse, the enemy wants to convince you that you’re worthless so that you will abandon God’s will for your life.

If you believe the lies that you’re worthless and have no value, you will lose hope and be blinded to God’s purpose for your life. The devil knows that if you have no vision, you won’t see a reason for living.

Shocking statistics tell us that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-to-23-year olds. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide in the United States was responsible for 30,000 deaths last year. That exceeded the number of homicides! More people died by their own hands than by murder because they felt hopeless and valueless.

Never forget how valuable you are. You’re as valuable as the ransom God paid to purchase you back.

Jesus did not die to make you valuable; He died to prove how valuable, how precious you are to Him. Your personal price tag is amazing. You’re worth the death of the Son of God. On your worst day, you are worth the death of Jesus.

What a valuable person you are! Never demean yourself. When you look in the mirror, say,

“I am a person of heavenly value. God did a good thing when He made me!”

Believe the truth of God’s Word. When He created humanity, He said, “Good.” Ask God now to permanently destroy your doubts about how significant and valuable you are. When He created you, God said, “Good!”


Don’t Waste God’s Gift—You!

Contrary to popular belief, the wealthiest places on planet earth are not the oil fields in the Middle East or the gold and diamond mines of South Africa. The wealthiest places on planet earth are cemeteries. Buried in cemeteries are books that will never be written, dreams that will never be fulfilled, and ideas that will never be spoken. Cemeteries are repositories for visions that never became realities and songs that have never been sung.

People take to their graves their dreams and their passions. Great businesses are forever lost; they will never be built. Ministries and churches have been swallowed up in the earth. People die with the awesome dreams God gave them stored in their hearts.

The awesome power of potential is buried.

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus mandates the Church to raise the dead, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. A person can be as dead as a corpse in a cemetery even while his or her heart is beating. Spiritually dead people are emotionally dead. Their dreams have died along with their talents, gifts and hopes. We must not let that happen to us. We must overcome spiritual death and awaken all that God has put inside us.  

God has put into your heart awesome potential because He has called you according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Every week of every single month of every year, people are raised from the dead by the good news of Jesus Christ.


You Are Potential!

The wealth buried in cemeteries is called Potential. Potential is untapped power. Dormant ability. Unused strength. Hidden power. Unused success. Undiscovered wealth. God is a God of potential, which means that His power is hidden. His power exists but it’s hidden. If potential is never seen, then potential defines who you really are.

What does potential do?

    •       Potential speaks of what you can do, but haven’t done yet.

    •       Potential indicates how far you can go, but haven’t gone yet.

    •       Potential promises how much you can accomplish, but haven’t accomplished yet.

    •       Potential doesn’t refer to what you have already done.

What you have already done is no longer your potential. God isn’t interested in your past accomplishments. He is a God of potential. Once you have realized some of your potential, He says, “Okay, now do something else.” That’s why God says in Hebrews 11:6, “So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith” (NLT).

So, what God is saying is, “Without faith, you don’t please me.”

It doesn’t take much faith to continue doing what we’re already doing. So He challenges us to have the faith to do what hasn’t been done, to take that extra step past our comfort zone and move to the next level. God says in Romans 14:23, “… for whatever is not from faith is sin” (NKJV). After we accomplish something, it’s done, and it’s time to move on to the next level of faith, to continue developing your potential.

The indictment on the church is that most people are sitting comfortably at some level of accomplishment, assuming that they are pleasing God, but I think God is saying, “Boring! Now what?”

Maybe you’re living a lifestyle as a community leader, a husband, a wife, a business owner, or an employee, and you’re completely comfortable because your life’s routine doesn’t require faith. You might be a church member who tithes and gives at a level that suits your comfort zone. You might feel that since God has proven Himself faithful and you’re a good person, all is well. However, your faith isn’t being exercised, and you’re not growing. Then one day you suddenly find yourself in a challenge and taking a risk that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. So, you think to yourself, “God, if you don’t come through for me, I’m sunk!”

When you step out in faith, trusting in God, He says, “That pleases me. I like you out there just on the edge—always growing, taking another step of faith. When you’re living complacently in your comfort zone, you’re sitting in the lap of your worst enemy—the devil himself.”


Overcome That Which Limits Your Potential

In Ephesians 3:20, Paul says, “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all you ask or think according to His mighty power that works in us” (NKJV). The power of the Almighty, Omnipotent God is in you by faith. Why, then, do you find yourself settling for a humdrum life if the power of God resides in you?

It’s because you have allowed false limitations on life into your mind and mouth. If you can’t fathom abundance in your life, you won’t believe that God has the power to provide abundantly for you. Your small thinking will prevent the power of God from working in your life.

We, as Christians, think too small.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were the first person in the entire world whom God rebuked and disciplined for being audacious in your requests to Him? Can you hear God saying, “Well, you presumptuous thing, you! You want too much; you believe for too much; you think too big. Who do you think you are?”

That won’t happen. Read your Bible. Jesus’ admonitions sounded more like this: “You little, shallow-minded, pitiful people. I am amazed that you don’t have any faith. You don’t have any boldness, and you won’t ask of me great things. Some of you are making God angry, and it’s not because of some deep, dark sin. It’s because you don’t believe in God’s infinite capacity to bring about greatness into your life.”

 Never measure your life by other people’s opinions about you. Life is to be performed before an audience of one. It doesn’t matter whether or not people like you, cheer you or applaud you. Your focus should not be the attention and approval of others. Keep your eyes on Jesus. If He isn’t applauding you, you’re in trouble. He is the only one you were born to please. He is the only one who knows exactly what He put inside you and what you’re really capable of doing. Keep moving and keep pressing on until He gets up and shouts, “Well done!”


What Do You Fear?

Let me give you some background on the church that I pastor. We began in a little motel room, moved to a high school, and then leased a dilapidated discount building. We finally purchased new property and presently conduct our services in a debt-free facility we call our church home.

Every move frightened me.

Fear will usually rear its ugly head as you make changes in your life and work. Every step we took, we took by faith by continuing to believe that our mission had favor in God’s sight, even when the financial picture looked bleak. Fear showed up and said, “God’s not going to come through for you. Better throw in the towel. Give up. It’s over.” But God always came through. He led us to resources we couldn’t have identified if left to our own wits. God led us every step of the way. At every crossroad, we thought, “WOW, God came through!”

Each time He seemed to be saying, “You haven’t seen anything yet!”

As I said in the introduction to this book, I want to restate again: God has put a lot more in you than you’re living out. You’re filled with potential and purpose. This might shock you, but your greatest fear should not be death. Your greatest fear should be that you die too soon, too easily, before God is finished with you. You don’t want to die prematurely—when you haven’t fully explored the wonderful gifts that God created within you.

You want to live fully—your dreams fulfilled, your purpose triumphantly achieved, nothing left to give when you die.

You want to die empty. When you need a boost in your confidence, believe this: You don’t have to die until you’re finished.


Normality is Failure

Human tendency is to compete with each other instead of completing each individual’s God-given assignment. When you’re satisfied with accomplishment, misery and boredom seep slowly in. To be satisfied with mediocrity and be buried then with normality is failure. The shocking truth is God did not give life to you to become a product of normality and mediocrity. Most people have been subnormal for so long that when they become normal, people think that they’re abnormal.

We have normal people with normal faces conversing in normal conversations, keeping normal company, living in normal houses, driving normal vehicles, eating normal food, and buried in normal graves with tombstones of normal records of normal legacies. Yuck! So what? You were born to be unique—not to fit in, but to stand up and stand out. Don’t get excited about what is. Get excited about what can be. What is to come!


God is a God of Potential.

God is omnipotent. Omni means, “all, always.” Potent means, “power, might, strength and energy.” Only one person is ever ascribed the attribute of omnipotence, and that is God. God is all-powerful, almighty, and always filled with power beyond human understanding. If God is always full of potential, all He has done isn’t all He can do. Remember, potential is never what you’ve done; it’s what you can do but haven’t yet done.

God created the galaxies. The Hubble Spacecraft’s telescope has revealed 60 billion galaxies and still counting. There are hundreds of millions of planets in each galaxy—birthed through God. When God was finished, I can imagine Him saying, “You haven’t seen anything yet!”

God is omnipotent. What that means is: If you need something He hasn’t yet created, He has the potential to create it! Isaiah 55:9 reads, “As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” You find it difficult to comprehend God because He has powers you haven’t seen yet.

In John 1:1-3 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Without Him nothing was made.” Since God created everything, where was it all before it was known? It was in God. So, there was a point in eternity when there wasn’t anything except God. Before all things were, He said, “I Am.”

Think about God before anything was, standing on nothing by the corner of nowhere. Try to imagine God with everything inside Him, before anything was. Do you understand that? If you met God on the corner of nowhere on the sea of nothing and shook hands with Him, you would be shaking hands with everything. The problem is, you couldn’t recognize the infinite possibilities because all things would still be in the form of potential.


Be Careful How You Treat Others with Potential

You never know with whom you’re shaking hands. If you remember this, it will change the way you look at people. Do not disregard anybody anywhere. You don’t know what potential lies within someone after a superficial assessment.

CNN interviewed General Tommy Franks, commander of America’s military forces in Iraq. He was explaining an encounter with one of his former professors. This professor had once stated that Franks was not the “sharpest knife in the drawer.”

Years later, when the professor heard that his erstwhile pupil had risen to the status of Commander and Four Star General, he said, “I can’t believe you’re the Commander of all the Allied forces in America.”

Franks’ reply was, “Yeah, isn’t this a great country?”

That professor had canceled Franks. Be careful how you treat people; you don’t know the potential in anyone.

Operation:  Salvage

The Bible is a book of potential: a story of God collecting human rubbish and waste. He qualifies as an expert in garbage collection. Every time humanity throws someone away, God intercepts. God says, “You’re not garbage. You’re valuable. You’re precious. I know what I put inside of you.”

Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, was the greatest salvage operation of mankind. Jesus died to save those who deserved death and damnation, those who were abominations to God. Jesus didn’t die for you because He felt like doing a good deed. He died because of His investment in you. What He placed inside you was more important than His life.

God did not save you to insure your passport to heaven. You’ll go to heaven, but that’s not the issue. God’s immediate purpose is to secure the potential and vision you were born to fulfill. That’s why Christ was willing to die.

Why do you think God keeps you alive? Why does He heal you? Why does He prosper you? He doesn’t want you in heaven right now. You were born to do something on this earth; you’re impregnated with the treasure of God. You’re carrying God’s vision. When Jesus died, He said in essence, “I have finished the work you gave me to do, Father.” On the cross, He cried, “It is finished.”

Nobody took His life. Nobody intimidated Him. There were several attempts to take Him by force, several attempts on His life. He didn’t worry or lose faith even in the most perilous of times and circumstances, because they could not end His life until His purpose was fulfilled.

The fact is: you’re going to die.

Determine now, in your heart, that you will die on time—when you’re empty. Don’t die full of unused potential, and take to the grave the treasure God placed in you. Deliver the treasure so that when you die there won’t be anything left.

Paul the Apostle endured formidable obstacles in his journey of faith—including at least seven imprisonments, several assassination attempts on his life and the pain and humiliation of being stoned by his enemies. At the end of his life, he said, “I have finished my course.”

Essentially he was asking permission to die. Have you ever heard anyone say something like, “I don’t know why God has kept me around? We lost all the men in the unit and I was the only one saved. I don’t know why God spared my life.”

Here is the answer: No matter how wretched you have been, no matter how unimportant you might feel, if you’re still alive and breathing, there is something in you that God still wants you to do.

Imagine for a moment that your doctor tells you that lab tests show cancer. Your immediate thought might be, “It’s over.” Instead, imagine that believe the report of the Lord that you’re healed by His stripes (Isaiah 53). You have to change your way of thinking. The imaginary doctor’s report is cancer, but the Word of God says, “By His stripes you were healed” “Is any one among you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. The Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).  Fight back with God’s Word. Say, “I’m not finished yet!”

The enemy can throw obstacles in your path and it might look bad, but if your potential hasn’t yet been fulfilled, you’re not going anywhere! That’s good news! Let your life span indicator be determined by potential—not age, infirmity or heredity. Those factors do not have the last say. God does.


Show Up Before You Check Out.

The key to dying empty is showing up in life. Many people become the aspirations of their parents, their culture or their denomination. They fulfill other people’s expectations of them. Ask yourself:

    •       Who are you really?

    •       Do we really know you, or are you a reflection of your parents?  

    •       Have we met the real you?

Upon discovering your true potential, you become a problem to society. You can no longer be manipulated. You can no longer be controlled. The “new you” has experienced a revelation: You know what God wants to do with you. That makes you a problem because you’re no longer hindered by other people’s opinions. Potential is dangerous because others can’t always see it.

Who would have thought Moses, a guy living on Easy Street in an Egyptian palace, who became a murderer, would write the first five books of the Bible? What a loss to the world it would have been if God had not been able to see past Moses’ reputation. But God did not let Moses’ reputation prevent him from living out his potential.

God says His gifts and callings are irrevocable. You might mess up your life, but when you receive your gifts and calling, they don’t cease to exist because you have veered off God’s path for you. You can’t invalidate them. When people saw Moses, they saw a killer and a fugitive. God saw a deliverer.

Maybe you have committed adultery, destroyed your life with drug abuse, ruined a career or abandoned your marriage. If you’re breathing, be assured that God’s promise is still in you. Give your messed-up life to God. Who would have seen in this killer Moses the Ten Commandments—the civic, moral and social laws of many nations? That potential was inside of a murderer.


Cancellation by Classification.

Don’t let labels limit you. What you do isn’t who you are. What is in you? David was a king, a politician. He was also the greatest psalmist that ever lived.

God looked at a coward named Gideon and saw a mighty man of valor, a warrior who would save a nation. God sent an angel to him where he was hiding in fear. The angel said, “The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Gideon must have said, “Who? Me?”

Jesus was a carpenter. Carpenter wasn’t who He was; that was what He did. Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

It’s important to realize that God doesn’t address you based on your history. He addresses you based on your future, your potential. He said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you before you were born. I set you apart.  I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Rahab had a disreputable job that could be likened to a modern day lap dancer. But God saw her as a woman of potential, and entrusted to her the Messianic seed line. If you happen to be earning your living in a questionable career, hear this message:  God isn’t finished with you yet. He has great plans for you.

One of my dear friends is a respected neurologist. He comes from an African-American family that endured racial segregation and prejudice. Extremely poor, with no chance for a college education, he joined the United States Army and became an officer in order to fund his dream of going to medical school.

He told me of a first-time patient, an old, white redneck from the South, who took one look at the doctor and refused treatment because of his race. What a foolish man. He canceled expert medical attention, which was his loss. The doctor billed him anyway, and he still had to pay for the care that would have helped him. Be careful whom you cancel.

Here are the things you need to consider when seeking professional advice:

    •       Is this person qualified?

    •       Is this person smart?


    •       What color is this person’s skin?

    •       How many times has this person sinned today?

You should profile people on whether they are qualified or unqualified, intelligent or unintelligent. Qualification and intelligence are irrespective of race or creed. We want smart people who can get the job done. When you cancel people by classification, you rob yourself of a blessing.

In John 4:10, we read of a woman at a well who had five husbands. Paraphrasing this story, I would tell it like this. Jesus met this Samaritan woman and said, “Give me some water.” She said, “Why do you, a Jew, ask me for water?”  That is the same as saying, “Why do you a Lutheran, ask me, a Southern Baptist, for water? Why do you, a Charismatic, ask me, a Methodist? Why do you, a Hispanic, ask me, an African-American, for water?”

Jesus said, “If you knew who I was . . .” The Samaritan woman had never met Jesus. She had no idea who He was. She had no idea of the potential in Him. Just because He was a Jew, she said, “You’re a Jew; my kind has no dealings with Jews.” In other words, “My pastor told me to stay away from people like you.” My friend Myles Monroe often says, “Cancellation by classification is an eternal, universal human failing.”

I know a number of successful young pastors who lead influential mega-churches and absolutely refuse to be labeled. They are true to their doctrinal beliefs, but they live bigger than a denominational nametag. They have learned that when we label ourselves, we limit our own capacity to have positive impact on others. We limit our potential. And when we label others, we diminish their potential as well.

Potential is God’s gift to you. What you do with your potential is your gift to Him. D.L. Moody said, “If God is your partner, you can make your plans big.” And the miraculous, amazing wonder of the gift of potential is that it is inexhaustible. But, you might protest, I’m seventy-five years old. Well then, you’d better get started!

Moses was 80 years old when he answered the call of God.

Caleb was well advanced in years when he discovered he was in the “wrong church.” He spent 40 more years in the wilderness, in unbelief, running with the “wrong crowd.”

Then, finally, he stood before Joshua and said the equivalent of, “I am as strong today as I was when I got into the wrong church—give me that mountain” (Joshua 15:11). That was his destiny. He lived to take that mountain. So can you.


Amazing Keys to Your Potential

    •       You’re a unique specimen. There will never be another you. When you introduce yourself, joyfully proclaim, “Hello, meet an original!”

    •       Jesus did not die to make you valuable. He died to prove how valuable, how precious you are to Him. Your personal price tag is amazing—you’re worth the death of the Son of God. On your worst day, you are worth the death of Jesus.

    •       What a valuable person you are! Never demean yourself. When you look in the mirror, say, “I am a person of heavenly value. God did a good thing when He made me!”

    •       No matter how wretched you have been, no matter how unimportant you might feel—if you’re still alive and breathing, there is something in you that God still wants you to do.

    •       Try to imagine God with all possibility inside Him, before anything was. …You couldn’t recognize the infinite possibilities because all things would still be in the form of potential.

    •       Be careful how you treat people; you don’t know the potential in anyone.

    •       The key to dying empty is showing up in life.

    •       Don’t let labels limit you.

    •       When you cancel a person by classification, you rob yourself of a blessing.