ANTI – Teaching the Tough Truths

I am somewhat humbled by the responses, emails, and comments I have gotten over the last couple of weeks concerning the series I am preaching. ANTI is a series in which we are tackling some real issues that are tough, sensitive, and honest. This series has been an emotionally charged and draining series for me. The toughest part of dealing with these types of issues as a pastor is being real, personal, and honest. Authenticity and transparency are necessary when you speak to the issues that people struggle with in their daily lives.

Over the past two weeks (since I last blogged) we have dealt with sexual immorality and divorce. The Bible has much to say about these issues. The truths of these issues are hard to face because we know the reality of life. The Church as we know it has not addressed such issues in a Biblical manner. Sure we have heard things are wrong, but have we heard why or what to do about it or how to treat someone when they have failed. The truth is that too often we tiptoe around such issues because we are afraid to offend someone or we bash people about these issues because we enjoy offending people. Either way, the Lord is not pleased.

So over the last two weeks I have tried to approach some sensitive issues that are raw and real in the lives of people in personal and honest manner that allows people to deal with the reality of where they are. The right reasons for dealing with these issues are because of their response to God not because of their response to me or my opinions or condemnations.

I think the most encouraging things I have heard have been from those who have dealt with some of these issues directly. One person simply told me after the sermon on sexual immorality “I wish I would have heard that sermon when I was 16.” Another person simply wrote, “I’m thankful you had the courage to send a positive and truthful  message to our teenagers of what God’s word says about sex and some tips on how to deal with compromising situations, but also that our church is here to help them and not condemn them.  They need that. “

The last email really hit me as I heard from one person in the congregation. They said, “If I would have heard the sermon on pornographic material when I was a younger man, I wouldn’t of had to struggle with what became a full-blown addiction by age 16. I don’t know how many people are telling you how good you are doing, but trust me; you are affecting everyone in the service because no Christian deals with murder on a daily basis, we deal with the things that the modern church is afraid to speak of.”

This blog is not about me or the wonderful job I am doing. I don’t necessarily even agree with that part. I do believe, however, that people need the church to be real and honest and open and to the point about issues the church has either said nothing about or has simply ranted and railed about. It is time we just opened up tough topics with grace and love and laid out the truth.

I challenge church leaders to step out there. Honestly, it is a little unnerving to stand in front of a group of people and be real about the issues of sexual immorality, divorce, etc. It is hard to do, but it is worth it. The feedback I get makes it worth it.

Here are some things you have to do it…

  1. Be real. If you can’t be real about you, you can’t help others be real about them.
  2. Say what is there; not what is not there. Speak to what the Bible says not what it does not say.
  3. Don’t hold back on any truth.
  4. Be full of grace and mercy. After all, Jesus was.
  5. Don’t apologize. We cannot apologize for the standard Jesus died to attain for us.

So I challenge Christians to ask themselves these tough questions…

  1. What am I for? Not what am I against?
  2. Do I define my spiritual life by what I do not do? Or by what I do?

This week’s sermon will have a little bit of an interesting twist to end the series. I hope you will be there. If you are interested in hearing the past sermons here is the link to my podcast. They are titled under ANTI – and honestly they are a tad long. I would say I am sorry about that, but I am not.

ANTI – Week One

Well, we kicked off the ANTI series Sunday and we had a great time in worship and in the Word. (Maybe a little long in the Word – my apologies to the heroes of FC – aka children’s workers.) This series is really challenging me and others to consider some real issues.

We started this week in 1 Cor. 5. This passage deals with how the Christians (for this discussion meaning those who profess Christ as Savior and participate in a local church as a result of that profession) should deal with another Christian who is living in sexual immorality.

The first thing this sin should cause in our lives is grief not judgment. Paul said it should grieve us. I believe this is why this series is needed. The world things Christians are ANTI because Christians are not grieved by the spiritual condition of the world around us. If we truly believe that people who die without forgiveness in Christ die and go to hell we should have a lot more grief about the lives of those around us. But too seldom we do. More often we feel real good about ourselves more than we feel broken others.

So once we are grieved we have to hold the other Christian accountable and allow their sinful choices to have consequences without having our condemnation. The reason that we cannot condemn is because the Scripture clearly says that the goal of such judgment is for the saving of the soul.

I think the biggest issues Christians face in holding to standards are…
1. Not becoming arrogant toward others that do not share them.
2. Being grieved by what is commonplace in the world in which we live.
3. Not bringing standards to those who do not believe in their Savior.

This passage goes onto tell the church in Corinth that they should in NO WAY judge those who are outside of the church like they have the one inside the church. The reason we should not do that is because that a person that is not a follower of Christ does not have the Spirit of Christ empowering them to live in obedience. We, as Christians, believe this is necessary to live out the commands of Christ in our lives. Yet, we often find ourselves trying to demand that this world live up to them without Christ.

My main point for the week was that “Our world does not need our standards. They need our Savior.

So my challenge to the Christians of the world is quitting pointing out to the world around you everything they do wrong and start sharing with them everything Jesus Christ has made right.

Each week during this series I am issuing a public apology for where I see the church has failed at this. This week’s apology is this. “We are sorry we boycotted Disney.” Why? Because we told the people of Disney we care more about your morality than we do your eternity. What if they had changed to meet our convictions and yet they never came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? What profit it a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul? What is the profit to the people of Disney to live by my standards so I will give them my money for my entertainment if they die and go to hell?

We as Christians must start acting on what we truly believe to be essential in life and sharing that with a world that needs it. The people in your life do not need your rules. They need Christ’s righteousness.

Fellowship Church – ANTI series video promo

Well, this video is my first ever video blog. I recorded it in hopes that you Fellowshipites might use this video post as a way to share what is going on at Fellowship through your online social networks. The video posted on my blog is to you. Below it is a link to a video that I have recorded as a message to our community.

Here is why I have done this. Sunday I am starting a new series titled ANTI. It will be an interesting series where we look at some real issues. So take a couple of minutes to watch the video and then send the other video out into the world wide web.

This is the link to the second video.
Share it with others. Thanks.