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The primary casualty of every sin is relationship, however restoring a relationship with Christ can simply be asking Him to come back into your life, in spite of our disobedient and slanderous behavior. We have a God who is eager to reconcile, by expressing our disobedience to others we are able to experience relationships again. Left unattended these wounds fester, as time draws on we are only provoking the inevitable outburst that awaits as we sit upon an undetonated explosive.
Regeneration's Final Purpose, Product Abiding Intimacy, and Unspeakable Importance
Following, Forgiving and Making Things Right
What it Takes to Get Well: Trusting in the One Who Can Deal With What's There
The ABC's of Recovery: Meet the Healer Who Doesn’t Live in the Middle
We are in this little series called re:generation which is, frankly, the series that starts in Genesis and will be consummated one day in the book of Revelation. Everything we do points to the truths I'm covering in these four weeks. It is the gospel message. It is the good news of Christ, that he has come. God loves you and wants to set you free. He's not looking to rip you off. He's trying to pull you from false idols and false strategies that will not lead to lasting peace. He cares for you and is concerned for you.
Recovery is not something we do here at Watermark on Monday nights; recovery is something we do every single day. The healthiest people at Watermark are involved in recovery. They know they have been recovered into a relationship by God through his gracious act and perfect and final provision through Jesus Christ on the cross, and then daily they are dealing with the things that woo our hearts away from the God who is life and love.
Let me read to you what is true of every single believer. There are a few places in Scripture I always go and read before I engage with somebody who is really, really struggling. Maybe some people who have never known God, never made a profession of faith and are just caught in the grips of the way the world would offer to them to find life and some form of peace and sanity. I watch them in the midst of this continual cycle of ecstasy and despair, of momentary peace and a lot of destruction. I watch them sometime be obstinate, mean, hateful, and destructive.
Before I go in there are a couple of places in Scripture I almost always run through my mind or will go back and read. I'm going to read one of them to you. If you go to re:generation on Monday nights you'll see this group of verses prominently displayed, because we want to let you know you're welcome to recover with us. Who?
People who "…once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our [lives] in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another." Welcome. That was our story. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for [us and for] mankind appeared, He saved us, not [according to] deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and [the renewing of the] Spirit…"
I'll talk about where that comes from. "…whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…" That's the source of everything we do. "…so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." We've got something to celebrate. We believe we are heirs of God, heirs of all God wants his Son to enjoy in eternity, because we've been reconciled to God through him.
We are not a bunch of do-gooders; we are a bunch of folks who have done gone wrong in our alienation from God and have been reconciled to him when the kindness of God appeared, and we're inviting you in. We are one beggar showing other hungry people where we have found bread: the Bread of Life.
Let me share with you just the basic truths. This is what we covered last week. In Step 1 we said this is what healthy people always do: They admit. They dare to face the reality. What's the reality? That they are powerless over their addiction, their brokenness, and their sinful patterns, and we offer just a simple prayer. This is what you pray when you realize your life is jacked up. "God, forgive me. You have loved me, but I have not lived as if I've loved you. I've chosen ways that seemed right to me but have ended in death. I need help, forgiveness, and hope." That's how you pray.
Let me just stop right here and say this, because it's worth repeating every single week. Healthy people are healthy because they've understood that they needed to be made well, that they were sick, that they needed a divine physician who could come in and do something for them they could not do for themselves. There is no homeopathic remedy here. This is not a nutrition problem. This is a problem related to your nature. You have nurtured that fallen nature, and you have gotten sicker all the time.
Paul comes to that place in Romans 17. The foundation we share with you is, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out." You're a broken person who realizes they're powerless left on themselves to deal with sin in their flesh, in the world, and in the Prince of this world who continues to seek your destruction. You cry out for somebody to help you.
Let me just stop right here before I go to the second step we touched on, and I'm going to review and review and review so you can know why we sing and we sing and we sing, because as powerless people we have found a power outside of us, a presence and a lover that has rescued us. If you understand that we were hateful, hating one another, stuck in malice and envy and we've been rescued from that you would know why we sing. God has brought back together our families.
I love my buddy David right here because he's up front. I have a number of guys who are coming to me like, "Todd, it takes everything I've got every week when you're teaching not just to yell out 'Amen!'" because they know the depths of the despair they were in. Some of us don't think we were saved from anything that was that bad, but those who are forgiven much love much, and what I'm trying to make the case for is that the healthiest people in this church know how much they need to be forgiven.
Jewish rabbis call Proverbs 26 the Book of Fools because it talks about what will happen if you are a fool or if you're surrounded by fools. Let me just move through a series of verses here in Proverbs 26. "Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest…" Just stop for a second. What do you think is going to happen if you grow citrus trees and get snow in the summer?
Go back and watch Trading Places with Eddie Murphy. It causes orange juice commodities just to skyrocket. Why? Because it destroys the crop. Snow in the summer is not a good thing if you're trying to cultivate fruit. Rain in the harvest is not a good thing because you can't get in the field to reap what is ripe and ready, and it eventually stagnates and dies, and then you lose it.
"…so honor is not fitting for a fool." If you put a fool in a place of honor in your life… If you are the fool you give honor to, if you follow your own will and way, it's not going to go well with you. Down there in verse 3: "A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools."
Verses 6: "He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence who sends a message by the hand of a fool. Like the legs which are useless to the lame, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools." In other words, a fool can know a bunch of proverbial statements. You can carry your Bible all day long, you can hear what Jesus says, but Jesus calls you a fool if you don't act on it.
A fool can have a proverb in his mouth. A fool can be here this morning, can have grown up in church, can memorize Scripture, but a fool will not acknowledge his deep need to yield to it, so it's useless to him. It's like the legs on the lame person in that they can't move you anywhere because there's a heart problem.
Verse 8: "Like one who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a fool." You're just setting yourself up for pain and death if you give a fool an armed weapon. " Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools." He'll twist it. He'll misuse it.
A gun is never the problem; it's a gun in the hand of a fool that is a problem. That is why you can make every law you want to in order to keep guns out of the hands out of people, but until you take foolishness out of the hearts of men they will always find a way to destroy you. Fools don't care what kind of laws you make anyway.
Verse 10: " Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by." You have to be careful who you associate with, who you follow, who you yoke with. The companion of fools will suffer harm. Verse 11: "Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly." Again and again and again. How many of y'all are pet owners? You don't need me to expound on this verse. You're like, "Are you kidding me?! I'm not going to lick my face until later tonight." That's kind of how you think. How sick is that?
I'm going to stop right there, because for a second you might think there's nothing worse than being a fool or associating with a fool. True or false biblically? False. Right here in the Book of Fools we stop and find something worse than a fool. Verse 12: "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Here's why. The Scripture says one rebuke to a wise man is like a hundred blows to a fool.
What does that mean? A rebuke to a wise man… When somebody comes up and corrects me, reproves me, and tells me, "Todd, that's not the right way. Here's what God's Word says," I love God's Word. That reproof will correct me and give me a chance to agree and thank them. It's what Psalm 141, verse 5, says. "Lord, let me not hate the kind rebuke of friends. It's like oil upon my head." But a fool won't do that.
In fact, a man who is wise in his own eyes won't even let a hundred blows change him. "One rebuke to a wise man is like a hundred blows to a fool." A wise man will listen after one rebuke. A fool may not listen for a hundred blows, but eventually a hundred blows will get through to a fool.
A man who is wise in his own eyes will always have a reason he's not the problem. It was that wife, these kids, this job, this economy, that church, those leaders, and everywhere that fool goes things might go well for a while, but what happens when a fool moves out of a location or a relationship is the foolishness always moves with him.
That's why there is trouble sure to follow, and if he can always blame somebody else and always put the problem on somebody else there's more hope for a fool than for him, because eventually…eventually…a fool will learn, but a man who always has an answer, who can always justify, rationalize, put off, numb himself from pain… Look out.
I say this to folks all the time. "How long are you going to have to keep convincing yourself that what everybody else sees is not true before you start to repent, change, acknowledge, admit, and dare to face reality?" See, the healthiest people in this community are folks who realize the heart is desperately sick and deceitful above all else. "I need life, and I can't find it in me."
Once you dare to face that reality you then dare to hope. You dare to believe. We said Step 2 is when we come to believe God is the one whose power alone can fully restore us. Not some generic higher power, but God alone who makes all things new. We talked about the foundation for this being truths that are all through Scripture.
We'll recite and remember Psalm 103 on Monday nights or in other communities, where we say, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits." Then we just list out those benefits. The prayer of those who dare to hope is simply this. "God, I cannot break out of sin alone. I believe you are my only hope. Help me in my unbelief."
In Step 3, after you admit and after you believe, you commit. It's the ABCs of getting started in regeneration and recovery. You really commit to what you believe in. You don't just have intellectual understanding; you have heart involvement. You engage your full being. You trust. That's what the word believe means. You dare to decide. You declare, "We decide to trust God with our lives, our wills, but accepting his grace through Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 2 talks all about his grace. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…" I want to pray this prayer again with you. I'm going to give you this opportunity one more time. This is what people who are ready to commit pray.
They say something like this, although there are no magic words; it's the expression of the heart. "Thank you, Father, for being slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness to the point where you sent your Son to die for me. I thank you for paying my debt of sin on the cross and for offering life and forgiveness to me. Teach me to walk in your ways and not lean on my own understanding."
Healthy people always get these three things down. Every day you wake up and start by saying, "Father, thank you that you've given me another day to show my desperation for you, to believe you alone are my pride, my source, my joy, and my peace. I believe in you. I want to follow you in every way today so that it might be well with me, even in the midst of the trouble you told me would still be in this world. You explained to me why it's here. Off we go, God, for your glory and my good, for the salvation of those who don't know you yet."
Let me show you that you're in fine company if you live this way. In 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 12-15, Paul simply says, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."
I have said some things here before that have caused other people real concern. I have talked about my own sin, my own desperate need for Christ. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners. I have said up here I'm the biggest pervert in the room. I sometimes feel like I have more anger and control issues than anybody. People go, "Man, you shouldn't be a pastor." I'm not saying I'm defined by those things or those things rule me; I just know that's who I am left to myself.
You see it peek out every now and then when I don't admit my need, I don't believe Jesus can meet my needs, and I don't trust in him. I quench the Spirit, I grieve the Spirit, and you get the spirit of Todd in 3-second or 30-second lashes, 3-minute fits of stubbornness, or 30-minute withdrawals into isolation. By the grace of God that's about as far as it usually goes because people run to me because they love me and remind me of things that are true.
Paul goes on to say in verse 16, "Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." Can I just tell you this? For this reason, all of Watermark has found mercy so we can declare to Dallas, to Fort Worth, or anybody who wants to jump in online that Jesus Christ is what you're looking for and he offers eternal life to all who believe.
This is what healthy people always do. It's what the father did in Mark 9 when he saw his son suffering from the effects of sin. Jesus said, "I can take care of that," and the father said, "Oh, man, I believe. Help me in my unbelief." It's what the tax gatherer did in Jesus' parable I taught last week in Luke 18. "Father, have mercy on this sinner." It's what Peter did. When he saw the truth of who Christ was, he said, "Depart from me, for I am nothing like you."
People who dare to face reality and dare to hope; people who dare to decide Jesus is their solution; and people who admit, believe, and commit don't ever stop there. They continue working out their salvation. They continue to walk in the good work of having been reconciled to God.
Here's the deal. Confession that we are in need and that God meets our need through Jesus Christ is something we do at one particular moment in our life when we believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with our mouth that God raised him from the dead, but then there's an ongoing confession. Repentance is a one-time act and a continual attitude. That's why we don't just have three steps, we don't just have three truths in the Scripture. That's why we teach you to walk through…
What Monday nights are is discipleship. It's helping you learn of the God who wants to set you free. We teach it through Equipped Disciple with different steps, just biblical truths. We help men on Thursday mornings, women on Wednesday mornings and Thursday nights here in Fort Worth. We do it within Community Groups if we're biblical gatherings of God's people. We're continually reminding ourselves of these things.
But here's what we're going to let you know today: Godly people dare to acknowledge, I mean deeply acknowledge, not just some broad sweeping, "O God, I'm a sinful man." They are fearless in their inventory, and they make a searching and fearless moral evaluation of themselves. The foundation of this is found in Psalm 51, which simply says, "Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom."
"I'm going to go with great courage deep into my heart, Father, and I'm not just going to call it sin. I'm not just going to say I exaggerate. I'm going to acknowledge I'm a liar. I'm not just going to call it words that are acceptable to me. Father, I'm going to really acknowledge what has happened when I have not walked with you. Some of these things are things that happened to me that I'm going to honestly face and bring to you and say, Father, you're going to have to heal these wounds and this hatred I feel in my heart."
This week we just got through ministering to some of the mentors we disciple and build into and give provision to in northern Uganda to minister to over 700 kids we as a community support. About 550 of those kids are individually supported by members of Watermark. The other 150 we're still collectively doing. You could individually get involved with this child…write to them, hear from them…by going to watermarkworldwide.com and jumping in.
We had interactions this week with a dear young gal who lived up in northern Uganda. Some of the things that happened to her are almost so unspeakable you tremble to talk about them, but people live even in this part of North America with similar kinds of pain. It might not be because the Karamojong came and beheaded your pregnant mother right in front of you and made you the head of a now child‑headed household.
You live with that hatred and bitterness because you saw that happen as a little girl. Bitterness so much that every time you heard the name Karamojong (or your uncle or your father or your cousin or your brother) you literally physically vomit like my dear friend in northern Uganda. But when Jesus showed up in her life it was so amazing and miraculous that in order to express the fullness of God's recovery in her life she went and adopted two children from the Karamojong.
They weren't a part of a child-headed household; they were part of a family without a mother and a father, and she rescued them and became their mother. She brought them into her house, and her love was so radical that her own tribe rejected her. Her own family despised her. Yet, now not only is she caring for those she's caring for others we are helping her support. She took a fearless moral inventory and looked at the bitterness that was in her heart, this prison that was ruling her and the hatred she had for others that was making her physically sick.
She acknowledged that. She didn't pretend it didn't happen. She didn't create a world of delusion and suppression. She acknowledged, "God, this is what's going on in the world I'm living in. I watched this happen to my mother, but I can either live in the midst of that bitterness and hatred and destroy myself and seek to destroy others or I can believe God is the avenger of these things and I can offer others the same grace I've received."
By the way, all these stories… We post these things online on our different blogs. Her story, without some of that detail, is there this week for those of you who are tracking with us as we share with you what we are doing around the world, this week as we're over there with some of our team training and discipling there and even as this week we were training and discipling right here in Dallas in Community Groups.
I can tell you stories here that are similar in terms of devastation and pain I was personally involved with this week that you would go, "That happened right here?" Yes, it happened right here to people who sit right here with you. We're not afraid of that. We just really want to continue to offer you what we've received.
Do you want a good prayer? I daresay this is the perfect one because I didn't write it; the Holy Spirit did in Psalm 139, verses 23-24. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." That's a great prayer to pray. "God, let me go. Let me see deeply what I've done to others, what others have done to me, and what I have done to you, a Father who loves me."
Here's one of the things I want to let you know. When you don't deal deeply with what's going on inside of you it's not going to just all of a sudden dissipate with time. It's a lie that time heals all wounds. Sometimes what time does is it puts layers on top of wounds, but what heals wounds is when you open them up and light and air come rushing in.
Some of you have been just layering with time over pain, and that does not make you well. In fact, you are just waiting to explode. Some of that anger that's in your life, some of the cycle of despair and brokenness in relationships that you come up against is because you've never had the courage to, with God, go back and acknowledge the pain that's happened to you and to admit the pain you've caused to others.
Bombs don't go away; bombs go off. You might see a bomb laying there for a long time, and it never really explodes, but bombs don't go away. Bombs eventually go off. I always tell my kids when they talk about people bullying them or hurting them. I go, "Listen. Hurt people hurt people." You have to love them. You have to be kind to them in the same way God was kind toward you.
You have to pray for them. Are you praying for them? Are you loving your enemies? Are you being merciful to them as your heavenly Father was merciful to you? How can we love them and reach out to them? There's a ticking bomb inside of them that they may not know about. Let me just read you this story. This is a story from January 3, 2014.
"A bulldozer struck what authorities believe was a World War II-era bomb in a western German town Friday afternoon, causing a blast that killed the bulldozer driver, injured 13 other people and damaged homes, police said." Isn't that exactly what this buried bomb does in your life? It kills you, the one who drives over it. There's collateral damage. It screws up homes. Some of you guys keep having these explosions in your homes and you don't know why. Listen to the story.
"The blast occurred at a rubble storage site in [a town] about…19 miles southeast of Cologne… Information on why police suspected a World War II bomb wasn't immediately available, though the unearthing of such ordnance in Germany—where unexploded Allied bombs still are being discovered decades after the conflict—wouldn't be unusual." It goes on to say, "The blast damaged…a 400-meter radius around the explosion."
Is that the story of your life? That everything around you is just damaged? You wonder why, and it's because it has largely laid dormant. There are little flashes here and there, but I'm going to tell you, and explosion is coming.
It says, "The presence of unexploded World War II ordnance in Germany is common enough that companies hire…bomb disposal teams to check that sites are safe when construction is planned. Last April, authorities briefly evacuated hundreds of people from an area in central Berlin after a Russian-made aerial bomb weighing about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) was unearthed 2 meters from a train track."
Can I make just a little reference from this to you? Before you start building you have to go in and see what bombs are waiting to go off. If you build on top of these old bombs, bombs don't go away; bombs go off. God knows all about the pain that happened to you. He knows all about the pain you've caused others. He's not ashamed of you.
He's waiting for you to turn back to him and run to him, but if you are not willing to take a fearless inventory and to let him deal with those bombs people threw at you and ask him to take what you intended for evil and make it good, you might build on top of it and no one will ever know until years later, and you might know for years that last forever if you don't go to the only one who can dispose of those bombs.
Let me just tell you one more thing from this. "In August 2012, a…550-pound bomb was discovered in central Munich." I wish I could show you the picture of Munich. I watched the video of this, and it was peaceful in Munich. Beautiful Munich, Germany. It was a still, black, silent night, and then all of a sudden there was a blast that just went off and lit up the night. People had to be evacuated from that particular city.
Again and again, members of bomb disposal teams are dying in Germany, and again and again cities are being devastated, but what I'm trying to tell you isn't about Germany, is it? It's unless you deal with these deep-abiding things by taking that fearless step to do an inventory…dare to acknowledge, make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself…trouble is coming.
Godly people confess then. After acknowledging it's there they dare to declare. You'd say this if you're working the steps. "We confess to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our sins." Now watch this. There's a pattern here. We confess to ourselves, to God, and to other human beings the exact nature of our sins.
You can't tell God until you acknowledge it's there for yourself. You might have a simple prayer like this. "Father, give me the wisdom to see my wickedness and sin. Grant me the courage to not hide behind isolation, justification, rationalization, or vague generalities as I confess to you and others."
When you go and begin to confess to others you want to be really careful who you do that with. I would want to go to somebody else who understands that they themselves have been forgiven for past discretions. I would go to somebody else who understands why God wants you to confess this. I would go to somebody who has shown maturity, who you can go to with confidence and with faith they will handle it in a way that will lead to healing in your life.
One of the reasons we are told to do this is that it creates forgiveness, cleansing, and healing in our lives. This is just basically the foundational truth. This is 1 John, chapter 1, verses 7-9. "…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
The reason we confess… The word confess simply means to agree. The reason we agree with God that those behaviors are destructive and destroy relationships and separate us from him is it brings forgiveness, cleansing, and healing in our lives. Here's what it does: it restores fellowship with God and with others. Can I tell you this? The primary casualty of every sin is relationship. It's relationship.
So God says, "Listen. Restore the relationship with me by just agreeing you hurt me. Ask me to come back in even though you have been dishonoring and disobedient and rebellious against me. You've slandered me. You've made me look like an uncaring, unloving God when all I want to do is love you." God is eager to reconcile. That's why he tells you to confess it to others that you might begin to experience relationship again.
How many of you guys buy this lie? "I can't tell anybody the truth about me. Nobody will ever love me. I can't tell somebody the truth about me. No one has ever done what I've done before. No one has ever had done to them what's been done to me." So you continue to live with this bomb underneath you that you hope nobody ever finds, yet you can't understand why every now and then there is maybe a micro-explosion, and you spend so much energy trying to manage what's underneath you that you don't even know how to love anymore.
This is why in James, chapter 5, he exhorts us to confess our sins one to another that we might experience healing. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." I would go to a righteous man or a righteous woman, somebody who knows they are righteous, not according to deeds they have done in righteousness, not somebody who is going to be shocked at what you've done, but somebody who knows the shocking truth that God loves somebody as wicked as they have been.
You go to that righteous person, and let them pray for you, let them remind you with biblical truth that God loves you, he's not ashamed of you, he's not mad at you; he just wants to set you free. Let somebody go to you with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Let somebody filled with the Spirit, as Scripture says, speak over you. "Father, let me thank you that this thing others intended for evil (or that this person intended for evil) you can restore for good."
Let them show you how to continue now to walk in the light and be a source of hope to others as Paul was and after Peter was after he failed. People who walk with God don't just admit, believe, and commit; they take a fearless moral inventory, they confess to God and to others, and then they repent. They dare to forsake.
This is what Proverbs 28:13 says. It says, "He who confesses and forsakes his sin will find compassion, but he who conceals it will not prosper." That bomb is going to go off. They say something like this. "We become entirely ready to turn away from our patterns of sin and to turn to God."
Repentance is a movement toward God. It's not something where we just stop doing these things. Really, what repentance is is you begin to run toward God not the false opportunities. Watch this. Here's the foundational principle. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
Can I tell you why some of you guys are making comments like these: "I'm never going to go to what website again. I'm not going to lose my temper toward my kids again. I'm not going to let this next marriage be as much of a devastation as this previous one. I'm not going to believe that the next time I get a lot of money it can make me happy forever; I'm going to prayerfully use it the way God intends"? You find yourself doing that because you're fleeing immorality but you're not forsaking the pattern in your life of self-dependence.
Watch what it says right here. This is such a key verse, 2 Timothy 2, verse 22. "So flee youthful passions…" But it doesn't stop there. It says, "…pursue righteousness…" Walk in the light. Walk in the Spirit. Pursue "…faith, love, and peace…" And, not alone. "…along with [others] who call on the Lord [with] a pure heart." You might pray something like this. "Father, thank you for loving me and showing me grace and truth. I forsake the sin which entangled me and thank you that you have given me forgiveness and life."
Let me just encourage you with this. This is a very familiar little passage in John, chapter 3. I want you to see why these are biblical patterns and what healthy people do. In John 3:16 through the end of the chapter I want you to see what God calls you to.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Now watch what happens. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." He's not angry at you. He already knows all you have done. The Son didn't come here just to bring judgment. He will bring judgment, but he's come first to rescue you.
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe [he is the Savior] has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil."
Listen. The Enemy is a liar, and what he wants to do is tell you that you can never tell anyone the truth about what you've done or has been done to you. He wants you to live in the dark, and the reason he wants you to live in the dark is because he hates God and God loves you. The way he's going to try and hurt God is by making you his pawn. He wants you to keep living in the dark. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."
Can I tell you something? Your deeds have already been exposed. They were exposed 2,000 years ago when God himself went to a cross and suffered there because you and I have rebelled against him. The rest is just details. Your details may look different than mine, but my details threw Jesus on a cross, and so did yours. So when you tell me your details I run right where you run: to a wonderful Savior and a wonderful cross whose grace is sufficient for you and me.
The only question is…Will you come, or are you going to keep buying the lie and living in the darkness? See, until you learn to love the truth more than you fear the pain of being exposed to people themselves who have come into the light you will never get well. Verse 21 says, "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light…" He fearlessly takes an inventory, he confesses, and he turns to the light. "…so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
I'm telling you. You need to know I was stuck in malice and envy, that I was hateful and hating one another, but the kindness of God appeared to me, and I realized God was no longer trying to get me to perform for him but God ran to me in my darkness and said, "Todd, I'll not just diffuse the bomb; I'll make all things new. Come to the light."
I want you to hear from my friend Katie. I want you to hear her story, taking that fearless journey into that inventory and walking into the light. Then we're going to offer you a chance to come. Watch Katie.
Katie Lokey: Hi, I'm Katie, and I have a new life in Christ. I'm recovering from shame, anger, and co‑dependency. My life before Recovery was a mess. Headed into my pre-teen years I found myself trying to figure out the answers to these questions: "Who am I? Why am I here? What's my purpose?"
Not knowing who I was allowed others to tell me who they thought I should be. Parties where for 5-10 minutes I could feel good. Dark rooms where I felt loved. Allowing things to be done to me because for a minute it made me feel like I had value. Drugs that made me feel good, because now I was starting to have to run from all of the choices I was making as I was choosing to rebel against God's goodness.
I accepted Christ as a child around the age of 9. I understood that he died for my sins. Even thought I knew Christ was in me he pretty much was nonexistent because I had silenced him with the choices I was making, the lies I was choosing to believe, and the feelings I was running after. The Lord graciously allowed me to have a relationship with a man who slowed my life down and my choices down.
We ended up getting married, and I thought marriage would make it all better. For those of us who are married, we know that sometime it makes it worse, so my lies and my struggles in some ways got louder and harder, and my expectations I put on my husband got really hard for him to even breathe or move under. It just felt like we weren't going to make it.
I started to realize there was just an emptiness in me. I had missed worshiping and being around other believers and hearing truth. I started going to Watermark and hearing messages about having a relationship with the Lord, freedom in Christ, and the abundant life that he wants us to have here not just in eternity.
I had heard about Recovery on Monday nights. I had no idea what to expect and, honestly, at the time I really thought it would be another diet plan. I was placed in a small group with about 12 other women with all different struggles. Women who were coming in from being in abusive relationships, women trying to recover from abortion or eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, women from different backgrounds of foster parents and trying to figure out what that meant for them.
I remember as we were in open group with other women just actually being able to breathe for the first time in a really long time. We are all broken, and we need help outside of ourselves. That first year the Lord took me through the steps he just started to free me up from some of the baggage I was carrying from my choices. He began to show me that really, "It's not about you struggling with this label of anger or anorexia or sexual abuse or shame, it's about me. It's about me loving you."
There were some things I had not confessed or was willing to look at the first couple of years because I was scared. I was just believing I was the one person in the entire universe that could never be forgiven. He slowly showed me that wasn't true. In recovery circles we talk about you're only as sick as your secrets; but the Scripture says in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins the Lord is faithful and just and he will forgive us of our sin.
I really understood that meant I had to get these things out. He also says in Isaiah 43 he has called me by name, he's the one who redeems me and that when I walk through rivers I won't get swept away by the water, and when I walk through the flame I'm not going to get burned, so I trusted that and dove into some of the most painful memories I can remember.
He showed me in that that it was okay to be sad and to grieve and that he was with me, and I can find him in every single memory. That has been the sweetest part of my recovery, knowing I am loved even in the midst of breaking my Savior's heart. So what does recovery look like for me now?
I would say if you asked my husband, he feels like he can begin just being the man that God's created him to be because the pressure is off to perform for me. All of the things that are in my past don't define me, and who Christ sees me as is what defines me. He sees me as worthy, and he sees me as someone he's willing to die for.
Recovery, for me, doesn't mean that I don't struggle. It means that when I do sin, when I am hurting and things grieve me, that instead of running from it to not feel the pain I sit in it and wait for him. I know that he is with me all of the time. It's just knowing that I need him every minute of every day. I can't do this without him.
There is never going to be a perfect time to dive in, but do it anyway. Trust him that he has a plan for you, that his plan is what's best for you, that he loves you, and that there's hope for you no matter where you are or what your circumstances. I promise that his love will change everything about you.
[End of video]
Todd Wagner: Amen.
Katie: Hi, I'm Katie, and I have a new life in Christ. I'm recovering from shame, anger, and not finding my identity in Christ.
Congregation: Hi, Katie.
Katie: Hey guys. I just wanted to encourage you that if you are hurting, if you feel tired from running, if you feel alone or misunderstood that there's hope for you. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 61:1. It says, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…" That does mean there is hope for us here.
Please join me on Monday nights with Recovery. We would love to welcome you in and just walk with you through the journey of healing some of the things this world does to us and, unfortunately, what we do to ourselves. Dive in!
Todd: Let me pray with you guys.
Father, thank you. It's worth clapping when we're set free. I thank you for Katie and her boldness to say, "Father, use me and what I intended for evil and the evil others intended toward me for good." I thank you she's a living example of the power and the redemption available in Jesus Christ.
I pray that because of Katie's boldness in declaring these words are true that others will come and find recovery and regeneration in Christ. If Monday night is the place they can find it, have them come. If Watermark and just a friend's relationship is a place where they can find it, let them come. Let them come though, most of all, Father, to you, and let us be your people who love them and who have been made righteous in Christ.
We pray for them and speak to them in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, but Lord, our song to them is "Come." Come ye sinners and find healing even as we have. Thank you for Katie. Father, would you use her story for your good even as you give her peace and love? In Christ's name, amen.
If you want to know what repentance looks like, it's that. It's arising and going to Jesus when you've been going your own way, or maybe going nowhere. Maybe it's just building over bombs and hoping no one ever knows they're there. No. You arise and you go to Jesus.
Flee immorality and pursue, it says in Scripture, righteousness, love, faith, and peace, and not alone but with others. Welcome. This is not a church of pretty people; this is a church of the redeemed. This is a church of people whose bombs have been diffused because somebody went and was detonated for us. His name is Jesus, and we have been set free.
We want you to have that opportunity to walk with him with us as we speak to you with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, thanking him for the fact that he's rescued us from this evil that's in this world and that we understand, and we're subject to one another in love until that day when he makes it all right. Would you come? We'd love to serve you. Have a great week of worship. God bless you.