Truth be Told

Thanks to my wife, Heidi, I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday.  On our way home from a Saturday morning breakfast date, we were casually listening to Christian radio. Suddenly, Heidi reached over from the driver’s seat and proceeded to turn the radio volume to exceedingly high levels.  Screaming over the noise, she yelled, “Greg, listen to these lyrics.  Have you ever heard these words[1]?” 

Lie number one you’re supposed to have it all together
And when they ask how you’re doing
Just smile and tell them, “Never better”
Lie number 2 everybody’s life is perfect except yours
So keep your messes and your wounds
And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors
Truth be told
The truth is rarely told, now

 The lyrics flew into my heart like a well-aimed arrow from a trained archer.  It pierced me deeply. “But there’s more.  Listen,” Heidi said.

I say I’m fine, yeah I’m fine oh I’m fine, hey I’m fine but I’m not
I’m broken
And when it’s out of control I say it’s under control but it’s not
And you know it
I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit it
When being honest is the only way to fix it
There’s no failure, no fall
There’s no sin you don’t already know
So let the truth be told.

I just sat and listened attentively.  The words swept over me until Heidi said, “But here’s my favorite part.  Could you imagine if the church was really like this?”

There’s a sign on the door, says, “Come as you are” but I doubt it
‘Cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning pew would be crowded
But didn’t you say the church should look more like a hospital
A safe place for the sick, the sinner and the scarred and the prodigals
Like me

Heidi’s question has sat with me for days. I’ve contemplated her comment, chewed on these words, and prayed through the implications.  What would happen if the church became a hospital for the sinner?  What if it were a safe place for the sick? What would it take?  Let me offer three simple reminders:

1.     Admit: I am broken.  I do not have everything together. I’m frail and fragile. If you are living and breathing, you are broken.

2.     Look: See others as broken and frail.  We have lost our compassion. It’s almost as if we expect others to be perfect while allowing ourselves to be weak and broken. John Wesley has been noted as saying, “We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.”

3.     Act – The model Christ gives us is to see the hurting people, have compassion upon them, and meet a need.  Throughout the New Testament, the writers remind us that a God-centered life becomes an others-focused life. 

Can the church be a haven for those who are broken and hurting? Can the church be a hospital where the sick and dying can find healing and hope?  Are you willing to be honest and admit your own brokenness?  Will you intentionally keep your eyes open for others who are hurting, and will you act upon those hurts? Jesus is our hope.  He is the great healer. Too often, we expect a lost person to enter the church, act like Jesus, and then get saved.  Somehow the church must create space for broken people to come, just as they are, and find hope, love, and salvation through the good news that Jesus saves.  Jesus reminds us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  So, let the truth be told.

[1]           Truth be Told Song by Matthew West 

Inauguration 2021

On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, one of the bedrock concepts of our national pride will be the peaceful transfer of power when Joe Biden becomes the next President of the United States. The storming of the Capitol was a disgrace to Americans and can not be tolerated.  It grieved my heart, and I am fervently praying for a peaceful transfer of power on the 20th.  I did not vote for Joe Biden.  In fact, I have very strong concerns over his policies and the direction of the democrat party.  In light of that, how should other Christians like me respond?

On January 20, Joe Biden will be, legally and constitutionally, my President. Not only is he my President, but he has also been divinely given that enormous task (Romans 13:1-3). He is God’s servant (Romans 13:4). Therefore, I will respect the office and will support my President when I am able and when he does not go against my conscience and biblical mandates. When his policies stand in contrast to the Word of God, I will anchor myself to God and follow Him.  I will faithfully pray for him and his administration (1 Timothy 2:1-2). As a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, I will continually point the church to Jesus Christ.  We will evangelize the lost, exalt a resurrected Jesus, and encourage one another with the promise of a glorious future. I will continually remind them our hope and faith are in God (1 Peter 1:21). We will grow God’s Kingdom on earth until He comes again. 

I saw this on Twitter this week, and it blessed me.  As we get a new administration in the White House, I’ll continue to do what I have always done. Here is a list of 9 great spiritual habits that will be very effective for God’s Church in the coming years:

Be faithful to God.
Be bold that the Bible is authoritative.
Be ardent to pursue moral excellence.
Be unconditionally in loving others.
Be fervent in prayer.
Be ready to service.
Be desperate for the Spirit’s filling.
Be quick with a Gospel witness.
Be joyful in your salvation.[1]

I’m not sure what the next few years will hold.  I am concerned about matters of religious freedom, the sanctity of both life and marriage.  I worry about the control and power of a big government.  However, I am not worried about the Body of Christ.  I will keep my faith firmly rooted and established in Jesus.  I will love God with all my heart and love others as Christ has loved me.  I will stand for the truth of Scripture no matter the cost.  I absolutely love the United States of America and pray for her daily.  I will pray for my President, and I all lead the people under my care well. 

On Sunday, our Associate Pastor of Worship and the Worship team led us in a wonderfully moving time of worship.  Two songs they sang stuck in my heart and gave me a lot of comfort during these difficult days. “In Christ Alone” by Keith and Kristyn Getty is currently one of my favorite songs.  The last verse was especially meaningful to me.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from his hand
‘Til he returns or calls me home
Here, in the power of Christ, I stand

Isn’t that a good word for Jesus’ Body?  It is a reminder that no scheme of man could ever pluck me from His hand.  It is in the power of Christ we’ll take our stand.  The other song we sang was “Christ, The Sure and Steady Anchor” by Matt Papa.  The title alone is such a comfort to my soul.  Read a few of these lyrics and allow them to be a hope and anchor for your weary soul.

Christ the sure and steady Anchor
In the fury of the storm
When the winds of doubt blow through me
And my sails have all been torn

In the suffering, in the sorrow
When my sinking hopes are few
I will hold fast to the Anchor
It shall never be removed

Christ the sure of our salvation
Ever faithful, ever true
We will hold fast to the Anchor
It shall never be removed

During uncertain times, Jesus is our sure and steady anchor.  He alone is our hope.  Anchor fast to Him.  Stand in the power of Christ.  Love God more than anything in this world and love others more than you love yourself.  The Church has survived for nearly 2000 years. The next four will not be her demise.  Jesus is Lord and King.

[1]               Philip Nation is a great follow on Twitter.  I found this list of nine items from on his feed. You can follow Philip @philipnation.