Sermon January 6, 2007 : Becoming honest
- Presenter: Brandt Gillespie
- Date: January 6, 2007
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
You know I really think that God is at work in a rather unique way here in this setting. And I believe that it pleases him that the primary gifted leader that this is built around is Roberto Miranda, and I mean that based on the sense that he’s a senior pastor of this assembly of ministries and of ministers and of congregants and of outreaches, and we were talking, not this last time, but the time before, and as we were sharing and we’re talking there was this freedom in Roberto’s spirit that I was able to just hear and receive and really lean into and it was the sense that it’s all God’s, this is all God’s, that there’s no presupposition about how God is going to do whatever it is that he is going to do.
You know, I would really invite all of us to just be able to enter into the gift that there truly is and that truly brings because it’s a gift for you. It’s a gift for everyone of us. But as we come and as we gather, as we offer our praise that we never permit ourselves the trap of feeling as though somehow some portion of expression, of ministry or function, is ours for the possession and ours for the territorial taking. Believe there’s territories to be taken but they’re not taken that way, but with the humility of spirit that comes and says ‘we are here as servants’.
And I truly believe that we’re here in a very special time in the life of this body life, all of us. I consider this formation, I consider this season and this time of something that God miraculously as he does again and again out of his creative nature, he takes and he mixes stuff, lives, impressions, anointings, different dynamics that are pulled from hither and yon and you don’t know where and why and you don’t know for how long, or for what reason or purpose, but it’s like he flavors us with one another and with his grace.
Now, in the sharing and the teaching that I feel to bring emphasis to hear this evening, I’d like us to begin by looking at a single verse of scripture which will not be the primary text, but it’s that very familiar portion from John, the gospel of John, chapter 1 and verse 14, that says: “.. and the word became flesh, made its dwelling among us and we have seen his glory. The glory of the one and only who came from the Father full of grace and truth”.
We’re going to look into the life of David and some of the things from the psalms and the hard cry that is there in him as a man, as the primary focus of where we’re going to draw our text and some of the things that I feel like that the Lord would want for us to say, but what I really feel is the key thing to understand is that Jesus is giving us an invitation into his personhood in a greater measure, in a greater measure than perhaps we have any of us tasted or seen. And his manifestation when he came was the fulfillment of the filling full of both grace and truth. These two things that seemed to be somehow cosmically distant from one another, are forged in the person of Jesus and I am not scholarly enough to even begin to make any kind of an exegetical attempt at trying to give voice to the depth of what that all means. I just know that it’s absolutely power-pack with this combination of dynamics that is so life-giving, because we live in a world and we come from a culture and the imprint upon our lives throughout our church experience by and large has heavy leanings in one direction or another.
And you look at what has happened historically with the church and giving a little bit of background I was raised in the church, my parents preached to God with not a flexiglass pulpit because they hid me in a ……….. underneath the pulpit. And I hope I was well fed so that I didn’t go screaming. But, from the time I was the tiniest, I was in and around stuff about God, and the kingdom, and preaching, teaching and I’m glad for the heritage. I’m very, very grateful for it.
But, you know, there is and there was a real mixture of dynamics that happened, and that’s because of our fallibility and our humanity, and we’ll never get it all right. We can’t present it fully complete and to think that we will is really erroneous, because we have made mistakes and will make mistakes and it’s just a part and a parcel of life and process that we grow in.
But we see that in the imprint of the church and the imprint of what happens in life is, there’s either this vast emphasis on grace and anybody can do anything; or there is this uptightness about the rigidity of perfectionism and truth that can absolutely cut to the core and you can wipe people out with it, and we’ve been wiped out with truth, you know, and we’ve been led astray into sin through grace. But God has this cohesively masterfully put into a whole in the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, I’m going to invite us to take a look at some of the scripture that are from psalm 32, that really talk about David and you know, I’m going to read some of this from the King James version, not that I read the King James version all that much, but there’s just a couple of ways of the phrases are turned that I just feel to do that here. I do have it in the NIB as well and I will make reference to some of that, but it’s a psalm of David.
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed all through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer”. And it gives a pause and says “Selah.”
Stop and think about that and I want you to stop and think about that for a moment.
“My moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”
We’re going to emphasize that and come back to it.
“I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters, they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place, thou shall preserve me from trouble, thou shall compass me about with songs of deliverance. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the ways which thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eyes.
Be ye not as a horse or a mule, which has no understanding, whose mouth must be held with a bit or a bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he that trusted in the Lord mercy shall compass him about.”
I heard today an interpretation from the dictionary that mercy is an act of excessive kindness that goes beyond what is required for a given situation.
“…..mercy shall compass him about.” Then, the last verse “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, ye righteous and shout for joy, all ye that are upright of heart”.
Father, we really ask that you will break this word to our souls as manna and as bread. Father, we come here into your presence and we ask Lord, that you would tryly make us as guileless children, that you would break off of us every hint of what we seem to be cluttered with: presumptuousness, assumptions, carrying around yokes of presuppositions. Father, we really ask that you will not just break our paradigms in the sense that we necessarily must have something different, but, Lord that we are available for everything different that you would want to impart, for everything, Lord, that carries the life of your spirit into us as beings.
Lord, I ask that you would put your hand over we, who are gathered in this moment, and that truly you would fashion us, and that you would form us and we don’t tell you what that looks like, or what that means, but we are intentional Lord in coming before you and saying ‘Lord, visit. Lord, make entrance.’
David said in anguish of soul over the broken condition of his moral failure ‘when I kept silence, my bones waxed all through the roaring, my roaring, all the day long.
The NIB says, “when I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long”
In our sin, the primary deceit that Satan perpetrates on us is that we can’t tell anyone about our failures, about our broken condition. That we can’t, we just can’t do that. But David said, he said his bones waxed all or they literally they lost moisture, that’s the reason why I wanted to use this particular version. They lost moisture as turning to drought. The dryness of the condition that happens, I want us to begin to understand the parallel between what takes place when we are transparent, when we are vulnerable, when we are available and how that there is a biblical order of disseminating that as being moisture, or that being plenty, or that being abundance. And when we put the guard up, when we do not unveil, when we refuse to really honestly communicate the content of what’s going on in the arena of our soul, there is a shriveling that takes place, there’s a dryness that happens, and it is the result of what goes on many, many different levels.
Now, in verse 32:5 “I acknowledge my sin, he said, unto thee and mine iniquity have I not hid, I said I will confess my transgression unto the Lord and thou forgavest the iniquities of my sins.”
I’ve got some questions that if you are taking notes, and you would like to write them down, I invite you to do so. The questions are these:
Why should anyone commit to the process of becoming honest? The process to coming to honesty is really not an automatic process. It’s not something that’s natural to the natural man.
The question number two is: How is my coming to honesty, how is it like, the peeling back of the layers of an onion in my life?
I want you to ask it of yourself. In my life, what does that look like. How has that manifested itself? How has the process of moving from being guarded, being solitary, being individualized? How has the process of coming to transparency and honesty been like, the peeling back of layers of an onion? Just even put down a couple of thoughts about what that has looked like for you.
The third question I want us to ask: How have I learned and practiced the habits of hiddenness in my life? Because we all have done this. How have I practiced the habits of hiddenness?
Allow these questions to become deeply personal to you. Don’t just think, well, it’s another message, it’s just something somebody is asking. It’s kind of a literary device that’s being used by a preacher as some kind of technique.
Let God use this, just let him use it. I’m going to reframe them, ask them again and the three questions.
Why should anyone commit to the process of coming to honesty? Why should anybody do that?
Number 2: How is my coming to honesty, how is that like, like peeling back the layers of an onion? What has happened in my life? Where you’ve seen that, where you’ve seen some kind of parallel to that?
Number 3: How have I learned and practiced the habits of hiddenness in my life, in my soul?
I would offer up to you that hiddenness is learned from behavioral modification. It takes place as we are being raised as children. It’s not necessarily, even bad, in and of itself in these ways, that as children we have learned what behaviors need to be exhibited that we be rewarded and we manifest those behaviors that get rewarded and get affirmed. And likewise, we learn what behaviors are going to be judged, and are going to be seen as unhealthy or somehow scorned, or unappreciated and devalued. And so, we learn this process as we grow. It’s all through the culture, it’s not specific to Christianity. It’s everywhere, it’s ubiquitous, it’s in the air, it’s in the fiber of how we are growing as human kind.
So, we learn these behaviors and we learn what is going to be rewarded, and we learn what is not going to be appreciated or is going to be punished and it usually takes coming…. No, backup here a second…
There are things that go on within us where we may consciously understand and know that according to the morale and the times and the setting that we live in, that there are certain things that we ought not do but that there are certain impulses that are there, that are pushing or driving, or attracting to certain things that are taboo or unrewarded or things that are looked at as sin, and yet something in there wants to move towards that.
And so it’s in the place where we find that we are trapped, so to speak, by the impulses and the things that are going on inside of us and those things are looked at and they are judged and so we hide it, we drive it into the closet. So, then, what happens is we become duplicities, we become compartmentalized, and we live our lives in two kinds of streams: our public persona and that which is approved, and that which is affirmed, and that which we get strokes for, and that what we get promotions for, or that which we get rewarded financially, and in every other way, and then there is the compartmentalization of these issues that somehow we have clues that this is not good, this is not right, this is not affirmed, this is not something that what we want. But yet there are these intangible drawings to those types of behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, internal workings and we hide them.
Going back to John, chapter 1, verse 14. “the word became flesh dwelling among us. We’ve seen its glory, the glory of the one and the only who came from the Father full of grace and truth”.
Without going into all details of my life story which I am happy to do, adnosium, I have experienced and I know this stuff, I know it, I know it. I know it. I know it tragically and by the grace of God I know it victoriously. I know both of these things, I know both sides of these issues.
The invitation that God is making because where he wants to take us, he wants to take us back to pre-fall in the Garden, walking and talking with God face to face, no shame, standing before one’s mate in nakedness, not even knowing of the nakedness. We’re not going to get there, I don’t think, you know, in this life, on this earth, but it’s where God is taking us and is where your soul longs to live. It’s where everything inside of you wants to be able to let it all hang out.
God, I believe, is wanting to lead the church of Jesus Christ into a place where we can be before one another in honesty, without shame, without reactive pain. In order for that to be accomplished it is going to take us really to experiencing a community and an environment that will be full of grace and truth. It’s going to take truth because we really don’t find out about ourselves without exposing our stuff to others so we can have feedback, because we’re so screwed up in how we think and how we process, that we can walk out behaviors over time that are done in secret and feel very justified: it’s called rationalization.
We rationalize things and we live our lives out of touch with what is really happening and God is calling us into truth. And we will find that truth, but we won’t find that truth without the unveiling of our souls in the community of people. But in order to have that kind of unveiling it not only has to be that truth element, but there has to be great grace. There has to be a grace to be able to receive people where they are at with the unresolved issues, with the tensions, with the brokenness, and not to say ‘I don’t know where you belong, but you don’t belong here’. Do you understand?
The natural response is to set up a culture that has a given shape to it, has a certain rigid set of standards and say ‘you’re welcome to come as long as you fit these standards’. And God is going to have to help us to grow into a people that are beyond that, that are different than that, and he is. I do not believe that the next great visitation that God will give the earth will be able to be fashioned after the pharisaical set of standards that many of us have grown up with, that many of us have been imprinted with. I don’t think it will happen that way.
But God is calling us, each as individuals, to some place of examination and some place of contemplation, not contemplation in the individual level in the closet all by ourselves, not the reading of the Bible. It’s that there is not a place for our private devotional lives, there is. It must be there. But, often times, the trap of the spirit man and woman is to live monastically, disconnected and really out of touch with what’s really going on, because there’s no way of be able to perceive from others and their input.
So, God by his mercy, is going to call us, this place, this time, whatever it is that he does, however he manifests himself, it’s going to come by us being willing to be vulnerable, unavailable to one another, and again without presuppositions.
So, I don’t know that I’ve got a lot more to say about this, but I’d like for us to pray and really ask God: how does this apply to my life? What is hidden? What’s the next layer that God in his mercy and grace is kindly going to lift back? How am I going to respond to what I perceive as the pain of that exposure? How am I going to react?
I’m going to do this little thing, you know, bow your heads, close your eyes, just in the sense of asking God to speak on the more intimate level, the heart level, asking him:
Father, we invite you because you are kind and you are merciful and we are confident in your love, so we ask you, Father, to come and give us revelation on what you want to unveil, and what you want to reveal at this time, in this place, on this night.
I don’t know if you’ve got the courage to do this, but in just simply asking for the wisdom of God, let me say this. If God gives you the confidence to be able to speak to somebody over the next 24 hours about something that you’ve been afraid to unveil and you haven’t really had the courage to go there, that you would take the initiative because at the end of that is the moisture, at the end of that is the death of dryness.
You wonder why you feel dry? You wonder perhaps, where the passion is going to ride, it’s because, like David said, when I shut these things up, when I refuse to admit, when I close down on the process that’s when felt like the dryness in my bones, life, life was going out of me.
You want revival? Individually, collectively? It’s not hard, I don’t mean to be super simplistic, but it is as fundamental as foundational, as opening, say ‘ok, I’m going to stretch one more time and one more area. I’m going to unveil. I’m going to lay back the hindrances, the things that have kept me from being vulnerable.
You think that the price of being vulnerable is going to be too much. That’s what we are told. That’s the lie that the evil one says. And the fact of the matter is we have been wounded by being vulnerable and I tell you a truth: you will be again.
But what is the choice? Poverty of spirit, dryness of soul, empty patterns of ritualistic doing? Our life, our life. This is life. It’s life. It’s life.
I love to sing the worship songs, I love to hear it, except the preachers preach sometimes, love is not too much of me, but I love to see men and women yielding to the spirit of God and taking a step forward in the risk of it all, in the attempt to say ‘yes’, even in the haltingness of our endeavors, even in the stumbling of our steps, even in all of the ambiguity and insecurity. It’s all there and it’s going to be there, but God’s grace, he is building a people that understand the process. He is building a people that can endure each other as we unveil.
I want you to know this: I speak this for me, but I know this of Roberto too, there is nothing that you’ve done, or you’ve thought that could stop me from loving you. There’s nothing.
I’ve been there. I’ve done it. You know, the problem with passionate people is they sometimes really get themselves in trouble. I am a passionate person, I’ve gotten in trouble. There’s a problem with prophetic people, with visionaries, with dreamers: sometimes they don’t see themselves accurately because they’re seeing under the future, they’re believing for something, there’s something… it’s really creative of God what’s at foundation to it, but it can take you astray, it can take you off track.
We need the authenticity of transparency. We need it. And as we go there, as we become that, as it leaves the literary images of theology and ideas and gets transferred into the foot on the ground living of life, God will be all the people.
I’m volunteering. I want to be part of that crowd. Amen. As Brandt was speaking a couple of texts came to my mind, just verses that remind us of what he was saying: John 8, for example, 8:32. You don’t need to read it, just hear, it says:
“….and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”.
Then Galatians, chapter 6, it says: “… Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one, in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bare one another burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ for if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine its own work and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another.”
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruit, without partiality and without hypocrisy”.
And finally James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray fro one another that you may be healed”.
All of these verses in one way or another hover around the words that have been shared with us tonight. It invites us to be a community of transparency, of openness, of humility, of self examination, not in an obsessive way, but in a confident grace filled sort of way, and also when we receive that kind of confession from someone, we must receive it in a spirit of humility, of grace because in order for people to be truthful there has to be grace, there has to be people aware of their own brokenness and who can open themselves up to receive the brokenness of others and empower them and validate them, and bless them and turn that confession into a healing process.
Father, thank you for these words. We receive them and we do pray to be able to be that community, to become that community of people who can be transparent to each other, open to each other, loving to each other and aware of our brokenness, Father, and grateful that we have you to lean on. You know us and yet you choose to love us. That’s a wonderful relief, Lord. Thank you, thank you, we glorify you. We worship you, Lord. Amen, amen.
|Sermon delivered by Brandt Gillespie taped January 6, 2007 at Congregation Lion of Judah||Listen|||||View (100K)|||||View (400K)|
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