Raise the Mark - In the aftermath of the Dallas shootings, Todd teaches us how the church is to be the church in the midst of tragedy. This is accomplished by loving well and listening carefully to those hurting in order to offer hope and healing in Christ.
Something Sweet out of the Ingredients of Sadness
Why Good Leaders Have Always Written Letters to the Church They Love
All In With Jesus
Outrunning Your Past
Faith in Work
Following Jesus: How He Changes Your Place, People & Priorities - Luke 9:57-62
Our Purpose in Life
Healing, Hearing, and the Hope of the Gospel
Money, Stuff, and Eternity
Living the Word
An Audience of One
Mother's Day Message
A Biblical Perspective on the Value and Role of Women in Ministry
Baptism Celebration 2016
Sabbath: God's Solution to the Addiction of Busyness
Inside Out Church
Awaken the Hope of the World
An Evening with the Elders
Easter: The Greatest Evidence That God Is Real, Good, Powerful and Trustworthy
Good Friday 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Father, thank you for a chance to gather and be reminded of your goodness and your kindness and the fact that you are with us always. I thank you that you are a God who can handle the fact that it doesn't always seem like you're with us. We just acknowledge, Lord, that it's when we say things like that that we are not living in the understanding of what you told us. "In this world, you're going to have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world."
Lord, we just come to you right now. We're living in this world that still has a lot that needs to be overcome. Seeing trouble, we don't want to be shocked or surprised. We want to be saddened because we know that sin and terror and selfishness hurts people. We're hurting because people we love have lost their lives. We're hurting because the land we love is no longer the home of the free and the brave. It's home of the divided, the enslaved to sin, and the selfish.
I pray that you would just use your church this morning to be a source of grace to the land. That means grace has to come to us. Would you teach us now? I pray for friends who are here who just came in and maybe don't know you, who don't know yet that you're always with us. You never leave us or forsake us. They don't even know how we could have a relationship with you in the first place.
Would you use this morning to just grow our hearts, to teach us your ways, that we might be that healing balm of Gilead that the Scriptures talk about to a hurting and wounded people? Thank you, God, that you're here. You're present, and your Word is for us, to train us and lead us into life. Give us ears to listen, hearts to have that word implanted in, and fruitfulness as we yield to your Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen.
Welcome. We are glad you're here. Please be seated. What we want to do this morning is just talk a little bit about what we've been in the middle of here. We're going to step out of the book of Acts, but we're going to talk about how we ought to act in a world that has gone increasingly crazy. I love the fact that America, that Dallas, that man is resilient, but I mourn the fact that America, that Dallas, that Todd is forgetful.
The Scriptures talk in James 1 about this forgetfulness and the danger that it is. It says in verse 21, "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility…" That is a word we're going to talk about a lot today. "…receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty [and who meditates on that law intently and remembers it] , and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man [this nation, this city, that church] will be blessed in what he does."
A wise man we quote a lot because he was a great thinker… He was an Oxford scholar and wrote a lot of books which helped us understand more and more about our God. He mentioned the reality and the truth that God whispers to us in our pleasures, he speaks to us in our conscience, but he shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a sleeping world.
I have had conversations and calls from the Washington Post and Reuters and AP and WFAA and Channel 5 and papers in Houston and national media outlets. They all want to know the same thing. "What do we do? How do we keep this from happening again?" My answer is very consistent. They may not like it.
My answer is, "Listen. What you see is what we get when we sow this nonsense that we can do what we want to do and live apart from this God. We can somehow tip our hat to him still in our oaths, and we can sing about him in our anthems, and we can declare about him in our declarations, but until we abide with him, until individuals humble themselves, seek his face, turn from their wicked ways, we're going to continue to have chaos, and chaos always welcomes tyranny. Tyranny always leads to the loss of freedom."
God is taking these moments when we see chaos and the world going awry, and he's just saying, "Are you ready to listen again?" I think you guys remember. If you were with me back in 2001, the Sunday after that weekend, I said, "The churches are going to be full. People are going to flood into them." In Dallas, we're listening with a different ear right now.
In America, we had every kind of service imaginable. We memorialized the dead, and we acknowledged our issues. Then we just kind of moved right back to where we were. We were like a man who looks in a mirror and forgets what he sees. We just go away and don't change what was there.
The Word of God is to show us, "This is what beauty is." When we see that we don't match up with that beauty, we are to make a change. The change doesn't come from our own self-will. It comes from humbling ourselves over the Word, which we let implant in our souls, and we live according to it. When we don't live according to it, the horrors will continue to increase.
One of the things God says in his Word that he wants us to do is hear one another. Just before that little section in James that I read, there is another section that says, "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."
Listen. If you're not angry at some of what is going on, you're dead. You're a spore, mold. You ought to be angry at what you see happening in our country. It is crazy. We're afraid to call a man a man. We're afraid to call marriage marriage. We're afraid to call wrong wrong. In fact, we call evil good and good evil.
You ought to be angry, but the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. I am only sorry that I didn't know Micah Johnson's name before Thursday night. I wish I would have known Micah Johnson. I wish Micah Johnson would have known me. I wish Micah Johnson would have known somebody who knew Jesus.
Somebody could have listened to him and understood his anger and his rage, understood how he was thinking, what it was that was motivating him. Our police chief was on CNN this morning, and he talked about the fact that this guy was convinced that what he was doing was righteous. He had other plans to eliminate more and more people, systematically developing them.
He kind of accelerated his plans when he heard about what happened in a few spots that were going on around the country and the opportunity he had not far from his home in Mesquite. What Micah Johnson needed to do with his anger was meet somebody who understood hurt and pain and frustration and what to do with it.
One of the things that has been shocking to me is how much my African-American brothers and sisters, many of whom are members of this church, have been blessed to hear me say that I understand that there is something unique about the African-American experience in this country that is different than the white American experience. It is. It's different. I know that sometimes makes some people uncomfortable, but listen. I forget.
My friend Lecrae… We buy his music and love him. It has been well said that we all love that Lecrae is a Christian rapper. Sometimes we're uncomfortable that he's a black Christian rapper. Lecrae just says, "Todd, when I drive through Dallas streets and look like I look, the way I'm treated sometimes isn't the same way you're treated." He didn't say, "Every cop hates me." He didn't say, "Every white man is a racist." He didn't say, "Every cop is bad." He just said, "You need to know that it's different."
I was talking to my friend Anthony. He's a member of this church. He said, "You need to know, Todd. When I was 16, I was driving. I was going to Walmart at night, at 9:30. I had just changed lanes without my blinker. I got pulled over, and I realized that my experience was not normal, and I was treated in a way that made me really uncomfortable. I called my dad, and my dad said, 'Welcome to the world.' I talked to my friends who are African American. They say, 'When my kids turn 16 and get their license, I sit down and have a talk with them.'"
Anthony told me, "When I saw that happened Thursday night, I went right away to my office. I made sure my license was not expired and my insurance was up to date, because I didn't want to be digging around in my glove box and having them wonder what I'm doing." I dig around in my glove box all the time when officers walk up to my car when my wife is speeding, and I'm in the car with her. That's a different experience. I have to be honest with you.
I shared this, and I was shocked that my African-American friends… I grew up with African‑American friends. I spent the night at their house. They spent the night at my house. As much as a guy can be color blind, I have always thought of myself as color blind. In locker rooms and playgrounds… I just was with black people. I just didn't think of color, but I also didn't think enough of what I needed to say to them.
The very first time I heard, "Black lives matter," I thought, "That's ridiculous. That's the most racist comment I've heard in a long time. What do you mean, black lives matter? Of course, black lives matter. Why would you say that? Why would you not say, 'White lives matter,' or, 'Hispanic lives matter'? What are you doing? Why are you being so divisive? The song says, 'Jesus loves the little children. All the children, red, yellow, black, and white.' It's right there. Of course, black lives matter."
That was my initial response. I heard godly guys who I love start the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. By the grace of God, what I did was I said, "What are you doing? Why are you saying that? That looks divisive to me." What my black friends said was, "Todd, what we're doing…" Frankly, it was a gentleman I met whose name was Mika Edmondson who gave it to me in the clearest terms. Mika is a PhD. He's a 33-year-old African-American Reformed pastor who has a PhD in Martin Luther King Jr.'s theology of righteous suffering.
He just said, "Todd, what you need to know, man, is when I'm saying this…" He gave me this illustration. He said, "Todd, I know you care about unborn children, right? You care about right-to-life issues. You care about kids in the womb and the fact that almost 60 million Americans have been destroyed over the last almost 40 years, right? You talk a lot about that, right?" I go, "Yes, I do." He goes, "Let me ask you a question. When you say, 'Unborn lives matter,' what are you saying?
Do you want me to respond, 'Of course, Todd. All lives matter'? Do you think when you say that, I think that you don't think that people out of the womb matter? No. What you're doing is contextualizing it because you see a segment of society that is hurting, that is being mistreated, that is being discarded because we don't value it or it's inconvenient to us or in the way. When you talk about unborn humans, you're not saying that born humans don't matter. You're just trying to say, 'Hey, do you understand what is going on here?'"
I have another friend who said, "When I say that my house matters, and you go, 'Well, every house matters. People need houses,' but my house is on fire, it's not compassionate for you to say, 'All houses matter.' When I say, 'My stomach needs food,' and you're well-fed, and you say, 'All stomachs need food,' but I don't have food, you're not helping me."
What I had to learn… It didn't take me long. I have continued to learn. I'll tell you what I learned just this week. What I had to learn is what Scripture says in Proverbs 18:2. It says, "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind." Proverbs 18:13 says, "He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him."
My first response… I was asked, "Todd, what do you think about the Black Lives Matter movement?" I go, "Well, I think all lives matter." It was my first and visceral response. It's true. All lives matter. I don't know much about the movement, because movements have all kinds of individuals in them. As much as what Micah Johnson did was part of any movement… That's a no good movement.
That doesn't need understanding. It needs judgment. I'm glad police used deadly force on him. When they said, "You can repent of what you're doing and come out with your hands up in peace, or you can stand there and receive judgment," he chose the latter. When men do what seems right to them, it always leads to death. Listen to me. We have to learn to listen to one another and really have some understanding.
I wish that Micah Johnson, living right here in the southern United States with all kinds of Christians around him in Mesquite, would have run into a real Christian who said, "Tell me about your pain. Tell me about some of your pain that you maybe brought back from Afghanistan. Tell me about some friends maybe who you have known who have experienced some level of injustice.
Tell me how you're convinced that because you're a black man, that nobody is going to care for you, and that police officers are against you. I don't want to sit there and legitimize your feelings if they're wrong, but I do want to listen to them. I want to understand. Here's the deal. If you don't deal with your wounds, they're going to get worse."
What shocked me is when I told my friends that I understood that there is a difference in the lives they're experiencing in America sometimes than mine, and I listened to their stories, and I told them, "Man, if you're telling me that you feel like we don't care if you're treated unjustly," will you forgive me? I want you to know that I care when you're treated unjustly.
When I talked to a sweet African-American mom who was just scared to death because her child was turning 16, I said, "I remember when my kid, my boy was turning 16. I was scared to death too because he's 16 and an idiot. All 16-year-old men are idiots." Beyond that, not only did she have a 16-year-old idiot. She has a 16-year-old African-American idiot. She said, "That's a different kind of scared."
Instead of going, "No, it's not," I said, "Help me understand that. Tell me what you're experiencing. Tell me what you're fearful of." Listen. You need to know this about Micah. There is no justification for what he did, zero, none. I listened to his statement all the way through. I don't care how he felt. What he did was wrong.
Here's my point. We have to learn to care about how people feel. Spiritual wounds and physical wounds have a lot in common. Let me just walk you through that. When you have a physical wound, it requires care. When you have a spiritual wound, it requires care. If ignored, a physical wound only gets worse. It festers. It grows. It gets infected.
When you have a spiritual wound, when you're dealing with your hurt, your anger, your bitterness, your wrath, your lack of forgiveness, without doing it in a way that is going to actually help it be made better, it's only going to get worse. It needs care. When you have a physical wound, it has to be cleansed from dirt. You have to get the dirt out of there, or it's going to cause real problems. If you have a spiritual wound, you have to get the uncleanliness of sin and the anger of man and the lack of forgiveness out of it.
A lack of forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping somebody else dies. It will eventually distort you and make you into a monster. We saw one unleashed on Thursday night. A physical wound is something for which a surface healing doesn't hurt. You have to clean it out. I remember when I was bitten by a brown recluse and it began to eat my flesh.
There was necrotic tissue, dead tissue. It kept eating into my flesh. There is a huge scar right here in my arm because all the way down to the muscle, they had to open my arm up and wipe it out and get to the very bottom and make sure they cut out any tissue that was dead and dying so it could begin to heal and work its way back out.
A spiritual wound is the exact same thing. It has to be deeply dealt with, not in a surface way, not just with weekend memorial services, not with just a presidential speech, not with just a momentary gathering of black and white pastors, not with just a sense of shock by the country again where we're just going, "What is going on?"
The country has to listen. The church has to listen. I have to listen and not just glance at the Word of God but let it be implanted in my soul where it can bear great fruit, not just be an ineffectual hearer but become an effectual doer. With physical issues and physical wounds, only God ultimately heals. God is the one who coagulates blood. God is the one who allows my arm to almost regenerate and to fill back in.
God is the one who ultimately is the healer. We talked last week about how God can heal any time he wants, any way he wants. We've seen it happen again and again in Scripture. We've seen it happen since then. It is not normal that God just does it, but God can heal. Frankly, all healing comes from God, but he often uses human instruments.
God has given us minds. He has given us medicinal plants and different things that are sanctified through the Word of God in prayer and study that are useful to us, and human beings that God has given knowledge and information and tools to are often a part of the healing that ultimately God is behind. God heals physical wounds, but he often uses human instruments to bring that healing.
Spiritual wounds… God can just wave a wand over the United States of America and make us well, but he typically uses humans who know him, who have been made well by him, who themselves are recipients of grace in order to bring grace to others. Spiritual healing is only a work of God.
Some of you guys are so kind to come up to me and say things like, "Todd, God used you in my life." I'm like, "That's exactly right. God did the healing. He might have used my words, my reminding you of the source of your healing, and I'm glad I was an instrument of grace to you, but glory to God. I am a steward of the mysteries of God and a servant of Christ, and it is his healing that comes into your life, not Watermark's, not Todd's, Jesus'."
What happens right now in our country is the church has to be the instrument through which healing comes, not giving them a superficial place to go with some anesthetic surface, alcohol-smelling remedy that will last for a moment but deal with the root issue. Church, this is your moment. There are Micah Johnsons still all over our city, all over our country, all over our world. Christ wants you to go to them and love them.
When they act out in anger, you realize it is hurt people who hurt people, and you just do what you can to say, "Man, tell me about that pain. Tell me about that frustration. Let me listen to you. What do you mean when you say, 'Black lives matter'? If you mean, 'Black lives matter; therefore, I can kill cops. Black lives matter; therefore, I'm going to strike out injustice in violence,' I have no patience for that (Romans 13), and the ministers of God, law enforcement, military, and others, should execute strong and swift judgment against them."
But they're saying, "I don't think that you know that I'm hurting. I don't think that you know that I matter like you matter. I'm treated differently. I think you need to know about educational injustice. You need to know about what is going on in my inner city. You need to know about what is going on in my inner heart."
We need to go, "Tell me about that, man. Let me tell you where I found healing. Let me understand your pain. I know Jesus is the solution to it. Anything other than Jesus is a coping strategy, but let me be the medicinal hearing of God. Let me show you that white men do care. Let me show you I love you. Let me see what I can do to come alongside of you. Let me be God's hands and feet to you."
Why are you afraid to clap at that? I'm just asking you to be the church. You have to be present. You have to walk up and just… When someone says to you, "Black lives matter," don't go, "All lives matter." Say, "Tell me why you're saying that. Help me understand that." If they just go, "I'm telling you this because I'm hurting…"
When I was a young man, I was married. My wife would just go, "I don't feel like you love me." I didn't go, "Of course, I love you. We got married 10 years ago now. I told you I loved you at the altar. I haven't dated anybody since then. I haven't slept with anybody else since then. I haven't told you I hated you. Until further notice, I obviously love you."
She would look at me and go, "Are you crazy?" When she says, "Do I matter to you?" I'm not supposed to look at her and go, "Every wife matters to her husband." What she is telling me is, "Bro, there is a disconnect here. I don't feel like right now you value me." I can ask her for forgiveness. I can seek understanding. I can explain to her where she's clearly wrong. No.
What I do is I listen. It's not an intellectual problem often. It's an emotional issue. With tenderness and kindness, I love her the way I would want to be loved when I feel a certain way. When people say something to me as simple as, "Todd, are you a born-again Christian?" I don't ever answer that question with a yes or no. I don't. I just go, "What's your question? Am I a born-again Christian? What do you think a born-again Christian is?"
They go, "Well, you know what a born-again Christian is. He's a right-wing, always-voting-Republican, better-than-you, homophobic, self-righteous jerk." "Well, no, I'm not that." But if what they're asking is if I'm somebody who knows that apart from the kindness of God… Unless he makes this selfish, self-willed, prideful, lustful individual new by the grace of God, unless God went before me and curbed on the cross my wrath that I deserve that I might be justified before him…
I'm trying to respond to that gift of love as best I can. I'm not trying to earn my salvation but to respond to the salvation that I have been given and giving all glory to Christ. If that's what you mean by a born-again Christian, I pray that I'm that. What I have learned to do over the last months is when certain friends go, "Black lives matter," I go, "Tell me what you mean by that. Are you telling me you think I don't believe that?
Is there something I have done personally to make you feel that way? I want to ask your forgiveness if I've ever made you think that your life doesn't matter, because your life matters a lot. Jesus died for you and cares for you, and if I make you feel like he doesn't love you, I need to repent. If you think that because there has been some injustice done to you, you can incur injustice on others, I'm going to call you to repent from that."
I would do everything I can to limit that kind of rebellion against God. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Darkness doesn't dispel darkness. Only light gets rid of darkness. Hate doesn't get rid of hate. Only love gets rid of hate." I wish I would have known Micah Johnson because I would have loved to have had that conversation. I would have loved to have shared with him what I did with the anger of Todd, which doesn't accomplish the righteousness of God.
There is nothing that brother did that can be justified. It was tragically misinformed. It was the anger of man. It was evil. It didn't solve problems. It created problems for his city and for himself. It was a way that seemed right to him, but in the end, it was the way of death. It took the life of my friend. Mike Smith was a member of our body. He loved and served people.
I've talked to folks over the last 48 hours about Mike Smith. He was a part of the Dallas Police Department. When I saw that chaos going down, I called a few of my police officer friends. I texted a few of them. One of them was Mike. He never texted me back because he was busy running toward trouble and getting shot and giving his life so people could protest, as their first amendment right would say.
Mike was here. Mike understood that the best way to serve and protect people was to love people. He was a blessing to us. He was a blessing to this city. I know Mike and Anthony and all of the other police officers who are part of our family here, and they are many… I know nothing makes a good cop any angrier than a bad cop. Bad cops offend good cops more than anybody else. Just like, if you haven't noticed, bad, weak, feckless, compromising, liberal, deal-making pastors frustrate me more than anybody. Bad pastors frustrate good pastors more than anybody.
You need to know something. Good cops hate bad cops. Good Christians should hate bad Christians. By hate, I don't mean anything other than saying, "I want them to know the truth, and I want them to not take the name of Jesus and make it a source of mockery to other people." Friends, we have to understand one another. We have to move to each other in peace, not just in superficial moments of shock when God is shouting to us but in an abiding way.
The Scripture tells us again and again, "When my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land." Healing in this land is going to come through God's people, God's people who, having been healed themselves, can be agents of God's ministering grace to others. Will you join me?
When people say, "You don't love me. Do you know that I matter?" I don't want to say, "I do love you. Yes, you matter," and move on. You go, "Help me understand that. That sounds like you're hurting. If there is something I personally have done that has hurt you, let me come alongside, understand, repent, and seek your forgiveness."
If they go, "Todd, not you, but too many other people, and I'm angry," go, "Well, I'm angry against injustice too. Do you feel like I'm not? Let's go about injustice God's way, not a way that seems right to us, which doesn't accomplish the righteousness of God." Gang, it's time. It has been time. You know, when I talk to reporters… It's in that letter I posted early Thursday morning. You have a copy of it in the back of your prayer guide right there.
I just said I'm not surprised. I'm not shocked. We're reaping what we sowed. I want to be a part of sowing peace and righteousness and faith and love and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to do it with me, church? Here's how it goes. That righteousness and peace will only come as we abide with Christ. Apart from him, we can do nothing. We have nothing to offer anybody.
We don't need philosophies. We don't need the wisdom of men. We need men and women who humbly walk with God and love one another as they want to be loved. When you're hurting, you want people to listen. When you run into hurting people, and you understand that hurt people hurt people, move toward them with grace. It's not a permission slip for their pain to cause pain to others, but move toward them with the healing balm of the gospel. Tell them how you have been healed.
What I'm going to ask you to do in these next few minutes is to remind yourself where healing comes from. In a moment, we're going to turn, and we're going to spend about 15 or 20 minutes in prayer, and we're going to just lift up our city. We're going to lift up the Smith family. We're going to lift up our city's leaders. We're going to pray for the church. We're going to pray for stuff that is going on in our hearts that is not consistent with what God wants.
We're going to go to work. When man works, man works. When man prays, God works. We're going to let God go to work in our hearts so that when we get out of here and continually pray without ceasing, we're going to love as he would love because we're going to walk with him. We're going to be a source of grace in this city. Where we see anger, we're going to help people deal with their anger in a way that will lead to healing.
Now, if you're here, and this makes you really uncomfortable… You came this morning, and you wanted a sense of why we sing and why we have hope in the midst of the trouble, why we're not surprised, we have a room for you. Your Watermark News today has in it a story of one of the leaders of what we call our Great Questions ministry. It's here every Monday night. People can just show up and talk about questions they have. No question is out of bounds. No question is inappropriate.
It's not a place for believers to go to be equipped on how to answer those questions. We have training dates for you. It's for folks who can't trust God because of intellectual reasons or heartfelt emotional problems with God and the God idea. We meet here, and we discuss, and we're not offended, and we point them to truth. We believe that if something is true, no amount of scrutiny can affect it.
If you're here this morning, and that is what is going to serve you or if you want to understand more about the hope we have, when we're done, what you can do is walk right out of here. If you will go out those doors and up the steps, we have a smaller gathering area up there where we do a lot of weddings and smaller funerals. It's called our Chapel. There will be a group in there to facilitate that in the next 20 to 30 minutes with you.
The rest of us are going to stay here, and we're going to go to work. I ask you to just turn to the folks around you and to use that prayer guide to pray now for about 15 minutes, and then we'll pull you back together. Please don't leave. This is what the church does. The army of God marches on its knees. It is time to go to work and pray for our city.
If you don't know how to pray, just read what is written in the group you're in. Sit in a group and listen to others pray. God is not judging your words. He's welcoming your heart as you turn to him. Would you turn to one another right where you are? We'll spend the next 15 minutes praying, and then we're going to celebrate the justice of God that is filled with mercy. Let's pray.
Lord, I know you will be mad at me in heaven for probably interrupting the conversations you're having with your people more than anything, but we just bring it to one conversation with you right now. I thank you, Lord, that in your sovereignty and in your omnipotence, you heard every single thing we said.
Lord, it wasn't so much about us trying to get you aligned with our will. That was all about trying to get us aligned with your will. Father, we want to seek your face. We want to turn from our wicked ways, and we want to be your people.
Would you help us even in the remaining time we have together and the things you have given us to remember you and respond correctly to you? Would you just burn in our hearts the gospel truth so we can go and take that and heal hurting people? Thank you, Lord, that you have prepared us for such a time as this. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.
You know, I have purposed with my friends, many of whom are African-American leaders in this community, that if they're looking for a race war, they're not going to get it in Dallas, Texas. We're going to love each other here, and we're going to live in one accord, and it's going to start with the church. It's going to start with people who understand why other people are still angry, and we're going to listen to them, and we're going to take to them the hands and feet of Christ, fight against injustice of all kinds.
One of the things that has been shocking to me here through the last couple of days is how much it has meant to my African-American brothers and sisters when I have just told them I understand their pain or I want to understand more. It shouldn't be a surprise to me because my wife, every time I listen to her, says, "I appreciate the way you're listening and living with me as the Bible commands, in an understanding way."
When you understand somebody, that doesn't mean you justify their sin. It just means you listen to their pain. When men are in pain, and when women are in pain, they go for all kinds of directions to try and find healing. When we try and have legitimate healing through illegitimate means, it's going to cause more problems.
When we meet God-given desires in God-forbidden ways, it causes more problems. Here is what I have learned again. I have to do a better job of telling people I love that I love them. I met with all of our police officers this morning who are on our campus who are with us and sprinkled about.
I just said, "Would you guys forgive me? Would you forgive me that it takes times like this for me to circle back up with you and tell you that I love you, that you put your lives on the line with me, that you don't know on a regular basis how grateful I am that you guys are out there working the hours you are to keep safety and order in our city? Would you forgive me that it takes that much for me to tell you I love you?"
I told my black friends that. I told my wife that. I hope you guys know that I don't tell you guys enough how much I love you, how grateful I am to be a part of this church and to watch the way so many of you guys were actively on the front lines of caring for others. Last night, with me in the city worshipping and engaging people further and further out, inviting your friends to be here.
I want to tell you I love this church. I love the church of Jesus Christ. I love the church of Jesus Christ I saw at Concord and Oak Cliff Bible and other churches spread out throughout this city, south, north. I love my friends at The Village who love Jesus. I love people because God has loved people, and because God has loved people, I don't let them get lost in their sin. I speak truth to them.
If you guys are committed to truth or committed to love, love without truth is not loving, but truth without love won't be heard. We have to be people who do not back away from truth. We have to be unafraid to love. We have to do a better job. I need to do a better job of telling people who I have loved for a long time, "I love you."
I haven't told them I don't. I have to tell them I do. One of the things God has given us is a constant reminder of his love for us. Every time we eat a meal… This was Jesus' intention. He said, "As often as you have bread…" In every ancient Near Middle East meal, you had bread. "As often as you break that bread, do it in remembrance of me.
Be reminded that I haven't forgotten you, that I do love you, that I am a just God, and I do strongly have an offense against sin, but remember that I love you and that I have given myself for you. God is going to make me who knew no sin to become sin on your behalf that you might become the righteousness of God in me."
It was the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament Scriptures, that the Messiah, when he would come, would be a suffering servant who would give himself. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him, and that King Jesus wants us to be reminded of how much he loves us every time we break bread.
Periodically, we do it this way through little elements in Communion, but I want you to know that Jesus wants you to remember him every time. He's the Bread of Life which gives you strength. He is the refreshing, if you will. His blood being poured out for you is the means through which the new covenant was cut, that you can be reconciled to him.
We're about to celebrate that. If you're here, and you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not that you know the story but that you have personally said, "Jesus died for my sin. Apart from what Jesus did, there is nothing I could ever do to be righteous in God's eyes." If you have trusted in Christ, you are welcome at this Table.
I want to warn you. If you take a symbol of God's wrath being poured out against sin in a superficial or fleeting way, it isn't a blessing to you. All you're doing is saying, "I deserve judgment because I acknowledge God is holy and I am not. I acknowledge that he made provision for my sin, but have never dealt with it personally."
Jesus invites all people who know him personally to come to the Table. What we're going to do is we're going to pass out the elements. I would love you to receive them. Then we'll take them together. As you do, I want you to be reminded of the goodness of God. He knows that this is a world that is overcome with trouble. I know you're worn. I know you're weary, but he has walked these roads for us. He calls us to the healing Table of his Son. Receive the elements, and then we'll take them together.
That's why Jesus said, "Are you worn out? Are you weary? Are you heavy laden? Come." In a city that God is speaking to through the megaphone of pain… Man, we're worn out by all this death and this killing and this despair. We should just say, "Come. Come to the God who is life. Come to the God who will teach you a better way. Come to the God who will heal. Come to the God who will bring you together, where there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male and female, barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man, and make you one."
Our country has been trying to heal from some of those things for a long time. We become one, and we come to the one who made us, and we reconcile to him through the means which he has given us to reconcile. There is only one name under heaven by which men must be saved, and his name is Jesus Christ, whom God has displayed on the cross as an instrument that received his wrath so God's justice could be satisfied in an appropriate way.
In this is love, not that we love God but that God loves us and gave his Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. Just hours before Jesus went to that cross, he gathered his disciples together and said, "Listen. As often as you break this bread, just do it in remembrance of me. This is my body which is broken for you." He wants us to do the same.
In this little memorial way, if you have a relationship with Jesus… I don't even care if this is your time you profess him, that you personally know that you are a sinner before a God who takes justice seriously. By the kindness of God, he takes mercy seriously, so he has offered you a better way, and that better way is through his Son, whose body was given for you. You can take and receive this, the body of Christ, broken for you.
At that same meal, afterward, he took up a cup. It was a specific cup, that Passover seder. He said, "As often as you drink this cup, do so in remembrance of me." It was a cup of anticipation, of hope, of celebration. It was, "This isn't over. It's not all darkness and death. There is redemption. There is joy that is going to come.
One day, there will be a provision that is going to have your sons and daughters all know me, and everybody will be forgiven. You will be one with me." He said, "That new covenant is about to be cut right now through my blood which is about to be shed." The blood of Christ shed for you.
I love our little evangelical community church tradition. We have grape juice and not wine because it just makes your mouth happy when it hits it. Doesn't it? Man, listen. If it is true, if this crazy story is true, that God is not angry at us in our sin… He goes, "Are you guys done fighting? Do you want to get along? Do you want to be healed? Come to me. Learn to love as I have loved. Give your lives for one another. Understand each other. Be reconciled to me that I can reconcile you to one another."
Man, that ought to make us really glad that that is possible. We see it happen. The world ought to look at us. We're a church of 70 different nations of origin, members of Watermark Community Church. Did you know that? We get along. We're in community together. We care for one another. We sing together.
The world ought to go, "How does that happen? How can the nations unite?" The answer is Jesus. He's the Prince of Peace. That's what's going on here. Our mark is love. We have to tell each other we love each other, but we only do that out of an overflow of the love we have received. Let me remind you of that love right now. Let's sing it to one another. Stand with me.
What a perfect way to end. "Bear your cross as you wait for the crown. Tell them all where the treasure is that you've found." That's what we do. That's what the church does. God has shouted to them right now in their pain, and they're wondering, "How do we do this?" Literally, media outlets across the country, people around the city are saying, "What do we do? How do we do this?"
You have to tell them about the treasure you've found, how we can come together in peace. Guys, you do know this. Black lives matter. You do know that, right? You know that gay lives matter. Did you know that gay lives matter? Gay lives matter. Did you know that people with gender dysphoria matter to God? Did you know that God hates broken sexuality? God hates broken racism. God hates broken marriages.
God hates divorce, but did you know that divorcees matter to God? Did you guys know that? They ought to matter to us, every single one of them. When you talk to your homosexual friends, they think you hate them. When is the last time you went to one of your friends and said, "I just want you to know that I love you, and God loves you, and I love you enough to tell you that I think what you're doing is destructive, just like maybe me in my heterosexual perversion. It's destructive, but God loves me, and this is what he has done for me in my brokenness."
You get to go carry that message. God is not angry about our sin. He hates sin, and if we identify with it and not with him, we will be judged along with sin, but if we hate sin with him and go, "God, what must we do to be delivered from this body of death?" he says, "Come. Come to the cross where my love was poured out, where my wrath was already poured out. Find forgiveness and reconciliation to me, and be my healing balm of grace. Go and love as you have been loved. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger."
The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God, but the anger of God has accomplished salvation for us, poured out in his Son, Jesus Christ. If you know it, would you go preach it? If you have never understood that before, would you come? Would you come and let us tell you about it? There is a little section in the Watermark News. You can just check that. We'll follow up with you this week. You can come right here. Would you go, church? This is your time. Rise up. Bear your cross as you wait for the crown.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.