Uncompromised | Truth & Culture


As sin is normalized in an increasingly divisive world, how can Christ-followers hold fast to the Word of God? Introducing a new sermon series called Uncompromised, John Elmore shows us ten ways to remain uncompromised.

John ElmoreOct 17, 2021

In This Series (6)
Uncompromised | Immigration & Persecution of Church Internationally
Oscar CastilloNov 21, 2021
Uncompromised | Race & Racism
Marvin Walker, Sierra Sanchez, Oscar Castillo, John ElmoreNov 14, 2021
Uncompromised | Sexuality: Gender, Sex, and Porn
John ElmoreNov 7, 2021
Uncompromised | Sanctity of Life
Bruce Kendrick, John ElmoreOct 31, 2021
Uncompromised | Law & Religious Liberties
John ElmoreOct 24, 2021
Uncompromised | Truth & Culture
John ElmoreOct 17, 2021


As sin is normalized in an increasingly divisive world, how can Christ-followers hold fast to the Word of God? Introducing a new sermon series called Uncompromised, John Elmore shows us ten ways to remain uncompromised.

Key Takeaways

  • Ambassadors don’t fight wars; rather, they are embedded within the culture and are influencing both the king of the land and the people of the land.
  • There’s nothing new about Christians living in a pagan land.
  • Unbelievers are not idiots to be attacked; they are people made in the image of God to be loved, blessed, and prayed for.
  • Resistance only strengthens the church.
Ten ways to remain uncompromised:
  1. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15a). Truth without love is a nuisance (1 Corinthians 13:1). Love without truth is negligence (1 Corinthians 13:6).
  2. Live the truth in love (1 Peter 2:12).
  3. Faithfulness not followers (Galatians 1:10).
  4. Prepare to be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
  5. Suffering is sanctifying (Romans 5:3-5).
  6. Are you a lot like Lot (2 Peter 2:7-9)? Do you grieve over the sin of others?
  7. Win souls, not arguments (Proverbs 11:30).
  8. Forsake friendly fire (Romans 14:1-4). Quit condemning about non-essential issues of the conscience and support other believers in their convictions instead.
  9. Do something (1 Corinthians 15:58 & 1 Timothy 4:16).
  10. Hold on (2 Timothy 3:1-4, 10-17). Hold to the truth of God’s Word and the hope that is before us.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • Do you struggle more with speaking truth without love or love without truth?
  • Are you grieved over others’ sin or are you just grumbling about it?
  • What are some ways that you can take action as you seek to be salt and light in our culture?

Resources for Further Discussion

  • Suggested Scripture study: Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 John 5:19; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Matthew 5:11-16; Luke 6:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1, 6; 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 2:12; Galatians 1:10; 1 Timothy 3:12; Romans 5:3-5; 2 Peter 2:7-9; Proverbs 11:30; Romans 14:1-4; 1 Timothy 4:16; Philippians 3:12
  • Article: Uncompromised Resources

Y'all, good to be with you as always. Welcome to Watermark. My name is John Elmore. We are starting off this series, as you've heard, called Uncompromised. My 7-year-old son was sitting on my lap the other night. We were reading a book. He was reading it to me. He opened it and said, "Dad, do we have to read the 'prologoo'?" I was like, "No, son. We don't have to read the prologoo." It was a kid's book. I don't even know why there is a prologue.

But for this series, we need a prologue, a prolegomenon, a first word. We need to talk before we talk. We need to have a conversation before we have each of these conversations as we walk through these topics that everyone is talking about. We have to have a first word for the church, for us, as we engage in this. Why? Because here's the state of affairs: We are living in a pagan land. We are living in a pagan world. It has always been the case since the fall. Since Adam and Eve partook of it, there has been nothing except pagan lands that we've lived in.

So this is it. We're in a post-Christian nation. Here we are. As we uphold God's righteous decrees and six millennia of morality, now with a culture that has this ever-changing, fluid morality, now as we say, "Hey, that fluid morality is actually immorality," they're like, "You're the immoral one. You're actually the crazy one." We have become that as we uphold the Word of God. Now, as we speak truth…these eternal, inerrant, God-given truths…as we share those in love… "You are a hater. You're a bigot. You're discriminatory. How dare you put your truth on me as I live my life?" We're now the crazy ones. This is the state of affairs.

So, we are doing this Uncompromised series for just that: that we, as the church, would live uncompromised, that we wouldn't yield to culture, we would not overcorrect and become so indignant in our righteousness that we're throwing stones at our enemies, which Jesus says not to do, but instead, we would remain uncompromised. As such, as you just heard, the topics we're going to cover throughout this… Today, Truth & Culture. That is the starting point of this conversation.

Then, after that, we'll do law and religious liberty, sanctity of life, sexuality and gender, race and racism, immigration, and international persecution. That's where we're going to be going for the next six weeks, today included. So, as the world is pressing for conformity by all… And that is what the world is pressing for. I don't have to tell you that. You know this. You know that when we step out of line, the world is like, "Get back where you're supposed to be. You do what we say."

This is all over my house, all day every day: Play-Doh. There's always Play-Doh in my house. I come home from work, it's there, with all of the Play-Doh accoutrements. What the world is saying is "Hey, you conform to us now. You shape to us. My feeling toward another individual is my gender. You just need to remove that part. That doesn't belong here.

You, because you are white, are actually inherently racist, so there's that. You need to yield to whatever we say, because that is the norm and the reality. We're going to do what we want to do. This is my body. How dare you put your Christianity on me and say Jesus is the only way? Do you realize the hatred? You're saying I'm going to hell because of that. You just conform to us, and everything is going to be okay." But the Bible doesn't say that.

My 5-year-old daughter gave me this. It's okay. You can laugh. She was like, "Here, Daddy. I made you something." I'm like, "Where am I going to put a ceramic dolphin, Penny? Thanks, but no thanks?" But she's 5, so I had to. Of the two, this can't be shaped anymore. This has undergone a metamorphic change. Meta…change; morphe…form. It has now been changed altogether, and no matter what I press upon this, it doesn't change, which is exactly what Scripture says.

Romans 12:1: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [your entire, holistic self] as a living sacrifice, holy [set apart entirely unto God] and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." The word spiritual there… The Greek word is logikos. It sounds a lot like logical. He's like, "In light of God's mercies, because he saved you, you now give your whole self over to God. This is logical. This is your spiritual act of worship as you walk through this life."

Why do we do this? "Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world…" We're not. "…but rather be transformed." This is now this, because we've undergone a change. We were this. We were this flimsy, floppy, "dead in our sins," conformity, and now we have undergone this change in Christ where we do not conform, but rather we've been transformed…metamorphic, transformed…by the renewing of our minds according to the Word and the Spirit of our God which dwells in us. That's what we do.

Also, it says we are to be ambassadors. When you think about ambassadors, in all of the different hundreds of countries they're in (100-plus of US ambassadors), they're not there fighting wars. Ambassadors don't fight wars. Rather, they are embedded in the culture. They live there. They eat there. They befriend there. They celebrate their holidays there. They are embedded within the culture, and they're influencing the king of the land and the people of the land, the legislators of the land and the people of the land and the authority of the land.

That's what an ambassador does on behalf of the king. They're not fighting wars, but they are influencing all day, every day, by their sovereign. It's what they're appointed to do. So, we have 2 Corinthians 5:20 where it says we are Christ's ambassadors, that he sent us forth into these dark pagan lands (no surprise) to be a representative on behalf of him. Not to be a cultural warrior, but to be a Christian influencer and ambassador.

Also, you need to know that my difficulty in writing this message had nothing to do with writing the message. My difficulty had to do with the Scriptures that are so full of everything that has to do with God's people living in a pagan land. This isn't new where we are here in the United States in the continent of North America living in 2021. There's nothing new about this. This book, this Bible, is all about God's people in a pagan land.

So, you have Moses writing in the ancient Near East, as they're wandering and conquering enemy lands, and he's writing to them, "This is what truth is. This is orthodoxy." Then you have prophets who are writing as they've been exiled to Babylon, some left and gone for dead in Assyria. They're writing to the exiles in pagan lands. "This is how God's people live." Then you have the New Testament writings given to the church as they're living under pagan Roman emperors who thought they deserved the worship as gods.

This is all God does, because what else is he going to choose? Unless you make your own jam and drive a wagon, you're living in a pagan land. (Shot at the Amish. They have their own pagan system. I think it probably looks like legalism. Anyway…) So, two reminders before we begin. This message is for you. It's not to reinforce any kind of political leaning. It's not that you're a Republican Christian. It's not that you're a white Christian, a black Christian. It's not that you're a liberal democratic Christian. You're a Christian.

This is not for you to take down notes that you can post and blast people online or argue with the people at work. This is for you. That's why we come here: to be fed, to be shaped by the Word, molded into the image of Christ by the Spirit. This is for us. Secondly, unbelievers are not idiots. They're actually incredibly smart. They're actually made in the image of God. We are not to attack them. Jesus said, "Here's what you do with your enemies: you love them, you bless them, and you pray for them."

That's your category for every individual who's not a part of the church. They're not idiots. Guess what, y'all? They're just doing what unbelievers do. The Scripture makes it clear that unbelievers are under the influence of Satan. So go figure, they have some opposing views. They're following a different leader, though they know it or not. Don't take my word for it. First John 5:19: "We know that we are from God, and the whole world…" It's not a North American/US thing. It isn't a Dallas thing. "…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."

Here's your part. You remember who you once were too. You didn't come to the world, and there, in your mother's arms, you were a Christian. You were dead in your sins. You were a pagan. We forgot that somewhere along the way, and now we start to despise them. "You once were…" That's Ephesians, chapter 2. And remember your destination. We know we are from God, we're for God, and we're going to God.

Second Timothy 2:24-26: "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome…" I mean, we could stop there. Must not be quarrelsome, but… Think about this with the topics of the age. "…but kind to everyone, able to teach…" So, you aren't to be silent. You're an influencer. "…patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." You're not to just roll over and compromise and be like, "Well, you've got your truth; I've got mine. I'm going to heaven when I die, and you're going to hell, and so be it."

Correcting opponents with gentleness. Why? So we win arguments? No. "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…" Which is Christ. "…and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." Unbelievers are doing the will of Satan, unbeknownst to them. He's "puppeting" them. Don't be mad at them. Love, pray for, and bless them. Correct them with gentleness.

This is your litmus test for interacting with unbelievers: 2 Timothy 2:24-26. That is the litmus test for your social media. That's the litmus test for the conversation with your coworker. That's the litmus test when you go into the school board meeting. That is your litmus test that everything needs to filter through. I'm going to jump here. I want to consider some of the recent headlines. Many of these are just from this past week, which is shocking. Twenty years ago, you would not have had one of these headlines. Now there is a landslide as you read the headlines. Here they are.

If you protest at a school board meeting… If you say, "I don't like the curriculum. I don't like the direction we're going…" If you protest, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, you now may be given charges of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. Not, like, disturbance of the peace, a misdemeanor, but domestic terrorism.

I'm like, "Okay. Hey, AG Garland, um, I just want to make sure Antifa and the KKK are still on your radar, because now you're coming after parents in school board meetings?" We have the vaccine mandate coming down to businesses 100-plus. OSHA is getting involved in this now. It's not an anti-vax/vax conversation. That's not it. This is big government now saying, "This is what you will do with your body."

Gender. We have university teachers being put on disciplinary charges or fired for not using the preferred pronoun of a student, which seems to change based on the day, or deadnaming them (calling them by their legal name rather than their preferred name of Starlet or whatever it may be). They can be fired for that.

The National Sex Education Standards for public schools now have this shameless, brazen gender inclusivity that is teaching children how to masturbate, how to get an abortion, how to appropriate abortion medications without parental consent, and all of the different things. This is also giving them instructions on all sexuality, pansexuality, and this is now school curriculum. We're no longer teaching sex ed, like, the mechanics of it all. Now we are instructing children how to sin.

High school sports have girls competing against biological men, now trans females. Just this past Tuesday, DC Comics released that in their next edition next month Superman will be bisexual, and in the month following after the bisexual edition, Superman… I'm going to read it to you, because this is straight from DC Comics. "He mentally and physically burns out from trying to save everyone that he can." That's amazing. He's no longer super; he's just man, and that might not last long either.

Race and racism. Critical race theory and their attempts at national deconstructionism. You have Black Lives Matter, which is right in the sense of the value of life. They are right…created in the image of God, value of life. They are dead wrong in the deconstruction of the parental system God has ordained and by saying that all are now racist by birth because of it and forwarding a trans and gay agenda, which is straight from BLM.com.

Immigration. We have 200,000-plus migrants at the border. What are we doing with that? Who gets in? How do we treat them once they do? What do we do in the resistance against all the international persecution that's happening in the world? This isn't even on our radar because we're Americans. We have no idea what persecution is. One out of eight Christians in the world will be persecuted.

Here's a statistic. This is Forbes magazine. This isn't somebody cooking books to try to come up with the Christian stats…Forbes magazine. One in 13 Christians will die today. One in 12 churches will be attacked today. We have immigration, international persecution… Eighteen states have legalized marijuana. Thirteen more have decriminalized its use. Instagram. Facebook has said, "We cause problems for one in three girls with body image issues." Instagram, parent company Facebook. "We are the cause of this." Suicide is related as well.

The Satanic Temple is now suing the state of Texas for infringing upon its ability to perform ritualistic abortions according to their faith due to our heartbeat law. That happened in the last couple of weeks. The heartbeat and abortion law is potentially being transferred from the Supreme Court federally back down to the states. That will be decided December 1 and following as they hear arguments. Right now there's a stay of judgment because of the heartbeat law at six weeks out of Texas.

Here's the worst headline. You think what I just read was bad? Here's the worst: one half of teens are looking at porn. That sounds bad? Here's worse: two-thirds of men and one-fifth of women are looking at porn…in the church. Those statistics are not of the world globally. Those statistics, per Covenant Eyes, are of the people in the church. Some of y'all need to have a conversation on the way to Luby's.

I want to show you a video. This is my 3-year-old son. This is Judd. Judd is a tough kid. This is a video of Judd, and I think it depicts what this feels like as we're walking through life with this ever-changing, fluid morality. So, here you go. This is probably what you feel like.


He didn't even cry. That kid is so tough. He's like Boom! "Where are the neighbors?" My boy! You're going to make it. All right. This isn't a very encouraging state of affairs, is it? That was from the last week or two of headlines. But let me change your perspective. I think it's an incredibly encouraging state of affairs, not because of the normalization of sin. I have no desire for sin to become normalized, institutionalized, legalized. My desire is to see the unifying, purifying, and clarifying of the church.

We have become a tree without wind, and let me explain to you. It was called Biosphere 2 (the earth being Biosphere 1). Man created Biosphere 2. It's out in Arizona. It's this perfect, climate-controlled environment. Think huge greenhouse that eight people went into, and they lived there. There was a coral reef, and there were plants, and there was farming. They lived there to prove they could live in this little existence, this perfect little biodome.

Then, two years in, what they found was the trees were growing really fast. I mean, think about it. It's a greenhouse. Then all of a sudden, Boom! They would just straight up fall over. A tree would collapse. Why? Because it didn't have wind. What the wind does to a tree is it creates what's called stress wood. Stress wood is as a tree is getting pushed all day, every day, in every different direction, it becomes incredibly resilient. It becomes strengthened so it can withstand more.

The other thing it does is it will position itself to the sun to get more and optimal sun absorption. That wasn't happening in this little climate-controlled area. The other thing it does is those roots, as the wind pushes, will go deeper and deeper and deeper, almost imperceptibly slowly, as they feel the resistance, to grab hold, strengthening. In church, we have been a church without wind for probably 200 years, and we've become fat and lazy and entitled.

Now, as these cultural winds are blowing, I'm not worried, because the church isn't going anywhere. The church will be strengthened. You see this whenever you have somebody who goes off to a public school or a private school, like, Christian school versus state school. The Christian school person… There are so many shades of gray and compromise. You go to a state school, and you're either a Christian or you're not. There's not a lot of in between.

If you choose to be a Christian, you're seen as the bigot, the hater, the goody two-shoes, or whatever. It's like, "This is where I stand. I can do no other. I'm following Christ." That's where we find ourselves now, so I'm not discouraged. I'm actually encouraged, because the church is going to be strengthened when it finds the stress wood, optimally positioned to get more of the sun, roots going deeper as we unify and it clarifies. It will no longer be popular to go to church, but rather, we will do it because of the Lord and where we find our encouragement, to come under the elders, the Word, instructed by the Spirit.

This news is not new. When the Scriptures were written, there was slavery, child sacrifice, orgies, temple prostitution, emperors being worshiped as god, pansexuality, and Nero was lamp-lighting Rome with burning Christians. We can kind of think, "Oh man! This world we're in…" These words were written in that world, and that's good. That's so instructive for us. It's so good.

Everybody loves the Sermon on the Mount. We quote it. "Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Yeah!" Probably the most underquoted verse of that entire passage is, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake…" We don't really like that verse, do we? I don't. Persecute? This is getting a little uncomfortable. My beliefs are now infringing and encroaching upon my comfortability.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." Luke 6 includes they exclude you. Some of y'all are getting canceled, not invited to certain things because of who you are and what you hold to. Jesus says you're blessed then and that you should rejoice.

Do you know what comes right after that? "You are salt. You are light." Meaning, the reason you're going to be persecuted, the reason they're going to revile you, that you're going to be excluded, is because you're salt amidst this moral decay. You are the savor in the bland. You're what's going to keep this wave of immorality from coming. You're the salt, the preservative agent, and you are the lamp on its stand. Don't put it under a bushel.

You're to shine forth into the darkness, and go figure that the darkness is going to be like, "Get your light out. Get your salt out. We don't want this. We don't need it." Jesus said that's what we are, and that no one would light a lamp and put it under a bushel, and if the salt loses its saltiness, it's good for nothing. This is it. Therefore, here are 10 ways to remain uncompromised.

  1. Speak the truth in love. What does the word ruthless mean? Just crowd interaction here. Harsh. Savage. That's ruthless. Therefore, if that's without ruth, then what does ruth mean? We don't use this word. We say, "Man, that person is ruthless." We never say, "Dear Jane, you are so ruth." It means love, compassion, tenderness, softhearted.

Look at the word truth. In the English language, embedded in the word truth is ruth. How convenient. Therefore, every time you speak truth, it means to have essential ingredient ruth in it. Your truth must have love, compassion, tenderness, grace, mercy, softheartedness, not quarrelsome, kind, able to teach those who oppose with gentleness. Your truth must have ruth.

Here are a couple of phrases that I think are helpful. Truth without love is a nuisance. This is 1 Corinthians 13:1. He says if you have the tongue of angels and are able to understand all mysteries and you don't have love, you're a nuisance. You're a gong. You're just noise. Truth without love. Alternatively, he says, if you have love without truth, which is the way of the world, and frankly, the way of some Christians, as they're like, "Man, I'm just going to love people. I'm going to love them to Christ…" Well, they're never going to get to Christ if you don't share with them the truth.

They don't need Jesus apart from the fact that they have sin, and they won't know they have sin unless you share with them the truth. So, you are not loving if you withhold truth, but rather, love without truth is negligence. Just like, "Man, I love you; you be you," and they're barreling to hell. But you love them. You loved them on the way to hell. "Hey, man. This is where I'm going to drop you off in hell, because I have a different destination. But I'm going to walk you all the way to the door, because I love you."

Love without truth is negligence. That's 1 Corinthians 13:6. It says love cannot, must not, will not rejoice in wrongdoing. You can't. How can you rejoice in sin? Friends, this culture will pass. It will pass, I promise you. This will be a failed experiment. It already is with the sexual assaults that are happening in transgender bathrooms. It is a failed experiment. It's only a matter of time.

Do you know what's going to last? The Word of God, the eternal Word of God that Peter writes, echoing the Psalms, and says, "The flower of the field will fail. Flesh of man will fail. The Word of God will stand forever." So, that's where we stand uncompromised, as a little ceramic dolphin. That's where you hold the line on truth.

  1. Live the truth in love. We were at a trampoline park for my daughter's birthday on Friday, and they brought me the tab for the trampoline park (which are really costly, by the way). It had a place for a tip for the guy who was helping me. And he was helping me. He was pushing the cart, scooping up old cupcake wrappers or cookie cake, and whatever it was. I'm like, "Tip. You know what? Let's go big." So I write it down. I hand it to him.

I said, "I want to let you know what I left you." His eyes got wide. I think Christians, generally, leave tips that make people's eyes get wide. But not just love. Then tell them the truth. I said, "Hey, Trey, can I tell you why I did that?" He was like, "Sure. Why? Man, this is only my second day." He was still training. I'm like, "You're the best!" That's love without truth. No, he was great. He was a new dad, working at a trampoline park. Four-month-old daughter.

I said, "Hey, man, I'm a recovering alcoholic. I was a drunk, and Jesus saved me, so now I live to tell others that. That's why I want to do it for you: because he did it for me. So here's that." He was like, "Dude, that's such a blessing." We got to have a spiritual conversation because of money that I'll never even notice that he noticed a lot. Well, I'll probably notice it, but…

Society may vehemently disagree with your point of view, but they should never be able to disparage what you do. They will hate your point of view. May they never be able to disparage what you do. Meaning, you not only speak the truth in love; you have to live the truth in love. This is 1 Peter 2:12: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you…" And they will. "…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."

God says, "Do you know what's going to happen when I return?" They're going to be like, "You know what, God? That person… I hated their point of view, but you know what? They lived godly among me. They were the only one who told me as I was barreling forward toward hell," and they'll glorify God on the day of visitation.

  1. Faithfulness, not followers. Concern yourself with righteousness, not people's response. You want faithfulness over followers. Paul writes to the Galatian church and says, "If anyone shares with you a gospel other than the one I shared, let them be eternally accursed. If an angel or even I share a gospel with you other than what you have heard, may they be eternally accursed." Meaning, condemned to hell forever.

Those are pretty strong words, because they would have been reading the scroll and been like, "Uh-oh. Hey, Jim, I think he's talking about you, bro, because you were saying, like, follow Jesus and follow the law, and, uh, I think you're eternally accursed." Paul writes immediately after that Galatians 1:10: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Pick one. Please God; please man. There's your choice. Faithfulness, not followers. In this day and age, that really, really matters.

  1. Prepare to be persecuted. Second Timothy 3:12: "All…" Not some, not most, not if you're living in Africa and the Fulani herdsmen come after you…all. Dallas, Christian… All who desire to live a life of godliness will be persecuted, so don't be surprised. Don't be discouraged. Don't compromise. In fact, remember that you are blessed, and rejoice. Jesus said he came to bring a sword. He didn't come to bring peace. As people follow Christ, there will be a division. "You're either with me or you're against me."

There will be allegiance, and it will happen upon Jesus. Nobody is getting up in arms about Joseph Smith. You bring up the name Jesus with a Muslim, it is the dividing line. You bring up the name Jesus with an agnostic, it's the dividing line. You bring up the truths of Scripture amongst this gender fluidity, it is the dividing line. And you follow Christ. It's faithfulness over followers, and you prepare to be persecuted.

I have authority over my kids. That's a good thing. It's not a bad thing. I discipline them. I feed them. I shelter them. I tuck them in at night. I watch over their souls. I make sure they're not playing in the alley, stepping on broken glass, which they do, and it frustrates me, because I tell them to keep their shoes on. Do you know that here in this church…? Hebrews, chapter 13. God has given us elders…listen to this, think of the weight of this…who are accountable for your souls.

So, as there is going to be persecution from without, we run inside. My kids run back home. We've talked to them about kidnappers and whatever. "If somebody pulls up and offers you a treat or says, 'Hey, get in the car; look at my puppy,' run to the house. That's it." My son is like, "What if I tell them, 'I know you're a kidnapper, and that isn't your dog, and you're trying to trick me'?" I'm like, "Boy, run to the house!"

That's what we're doing every Sunday in our Community Groups as God, through the elders, through our community directors, through shepherds, through the leader of your Community Group, through your peers… We are shepherding each other. We run to the house of God that we may be cared for and loved. Prepare to be persecuted, and run to the house.

  1. Suffering is sanctifying. Laura just finished her breast cancer treatment this past Friday. We're so thankful. Here's the thing. Y'all, in three months… I mean, it's like sanctification in fast-forward. I have seen her grow more Christlike, more openhanded, come what may, not ruffled, just steady through this furnace of affliction, because it's what God promises to do. The sufferings of Christ overflow to us. Suffering is sanctifying.

As I said, we've been trees without wind. This wind, though it is bad, is not bad for us. It's going to be strengthening. The finest steel goes through the hottest fire. This is Romans 5:3-5. There are a ton of passages about suffering. "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…"

  1. Are you a lot like Lot? When I'm reading the Bible and I read the story of Lot… I read it again recently. I walked through Genesis. I'm like, "Dude, this guy is kind of a dirtbag." Lot is not an awesome guy. Abraham had to bail him out. Then the men of the city come because they want to rape the angels, and he's like, "Man, I'm going to keep them, but here are my daughters." I'm like, "What is going on?"

Then the angels are like, "We have to go! God is going to destroy the city," and he tarries. He's like, "I don't know, man." So, the angels grab him and pull him out, and they say, "Run!" He says, "Hey, can I just settle in this little town here, Zoar?" They're like, "Oh my goodness! What is it with you? Fine! We won't destroy that city, but go, and don't look back." Then he gets drunk twice, and his daughters sleep with him…incest.

By the way, nobody in their right mind… That proves the inerrancy of Scripture. Nobody in their right mind is like, "Well, let's write a book about our people group. This is our heritage: Lot. What a great guy." Nobody would write that. It's God putting on display the sinfulness and depravity of all mankind, that everyone would be like, "I need Jesus. I need forgiveness of my sins." But I read about Lot, and I'm like, "Dude, Lot is an idiot." So was I, and so were you.

Then you read in 2 Peter 2: "…and if he [God] rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked…" Wait. There's more to the story here. Lot was distressed by the wickedness? "…(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…"

Lot was grieved as he lived among them. We don't read that in Genesis. We read it in Peter. There's more to the story. Here's my question for you, though: Are you a lot like Lot? Meaning, are you grieved over the sin or are you just grumbling about their sin? Are you grieved over it, longing for their salvation, troubled by it, or are you just like, "Dude, I know I'm going to heaven when I die. My bank account is good. I'm fine"?

Are you grieved by it or are you grumbling about it, like, "Oh! I can't believe these wretched, and our president, and this and that," and you're angry. We're to be known not as parroting and bemoaning the bad news. We're to be known by putting forth, shedding forth, proclaiming forth the good news, but some of us are so caught up in grumbling that our grieving is not moving us to gospel, and we need to repent.

  1. Win souls, not arguments. When I look at the headlines… I was researching them. I literally was talking to Laura and was like, "Good night! This is so heavy." You read the headlines, and it gets you all worked up and angry, and you want to get on social media. You have your echo chamber of all of the same followers, and you're all just shouting the same truths and getting to fever pitch, worked up to this righteous fervor.

Then I step into Walmart or a gas station, and I see somebody of a different social class or a different race, or whatever, and we're just people, and we actually love each other, and we can have a conversation, and it's okay as we, as salt and light, move into that. We're to win souls, not arguments. We're not here to win arguments. God put us here to win souls, which is (Proverbs 11:30) the fruit of the righteous.

What you should be giving off is like a tree producing life, dead being raised. "…and the one who wins souls is wise." Some of you are content to win the argument and lose the relationship. You're a jerk at work in your righteousness. You may be right, but you're still a jerk. You need to be right and loving, that they would be like, "I don't agree, but, man! I'd like to have lunch again."

  1. Forsake friendly fire. This is probably one of the most important ones. There is so much infighting happening. I mean, Christian against Christian, friendly fire. There's homeschool, public school, and private school, and everybody thinks everybody is wrong. Hey, what if it's actually godly to do all three? What if the public school person is like, "I want to be salt and light; I want to be embedded in there"? What if someone is like, "I can't put that stuff before my kids, so we're going private Christian school"?

What if somebody is like, "I really want to disciple my kids, and I only have them for 18, so I'm going to do this and be with them all day, every day, because I'm going to shepherd their souls"? That's awesome! Those are all three so good. We fight against each other about matters of the conscience, and it shouldn't be. Forsake friendly fire.

Quit condemning and quarrelling about nonessential issues of the conscience, and instead, support each other. "You want to be salt and light in the public school against the trends of immorality? Praise God! How can I help you as I homeschool my kids?" I'm serious. Romans 14:1-4. You have to know this passage was written as some dude in a black hood is cutting the throat of a cow, blood spilling, worshiping some false deity, while temple prostitution is happening nearby.

Then the underlings drag it off, carve it up, and sell the T-bone for 3 shekels a pound instead of 10. Somebody is like, "Man, I'm free to eat that meat," and another person is like, "How can you…? You know what's going on in that temple. How could you ever touch that meat?" And they're like, "Because it's just meat, bro." Then one is like, "I can't eat meat at all. I'm going veggies. Are you kidding me? I can't believe that either of you would even eat meat. I'll go Daniel Fast." Romans 14:1-4:

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them [both] . Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand."

  1. Do something. Just do something. Quit your grumbling. Quit sitting on the sideline. Do something. This is not like bootstrap whatever. You're an ambassador, and ambassadors don't sit and just watch news clips. They're out there. They're embedded. They're influencers. So, some of you need to stop your fretting, stop your shouting online. You need to run for office. You need to vote. "Oh, that's novel. I could actually influence the country I live in. Wow. I don't know where my voter registration card is."

Some of you need to go to a school board meeting. Some of you probably need to not go to a school board meeting. Domestic terrorism. Gently oppose those who… Some of you need to enlist in the military. Right now, there is an exodus from the police force. That's the Romans 13 sort of righteousness that allows us to sleep at night. Some of you need to go be the best cop you can be. Some of you need to become an OB-GYN and influence on a medical board about life.

Some of you need to disciple your children. You're up in arms. You're like, "I can't believe what the public school system is talking about." Because you don't talk about it at home. Let's just be honest. What's actually the problem is your kids don't know what same-sex is because you won't talk about it, because you're addicted to porn. And who are you? You have no moral authority, and there goes that. You just need to disciple your kids at home.

Some of you need to disciple other people's kids. Sign up for kids' ministry…Wake, Shoreline, UTD. I don't know what, but you need to do something. Engage the body, the elders said, and equip them. First Timothy 4:16: "Watch your life and your doctrine." They're inseparable. You can't just have doctrine and sit in your room and read your books and not live it out. It's life and doctrine.

  1. Hold on. In college, I was tubing behind a boat in Horseshoe Bay. There were girls. There was me and another guy, so I had to show off. I had to show him up. So, he's pulling me tubing in the dark. It was nighttime. He's trying to throw me off to show off for the girls. I'm trying to hold on, of course, to show off for the girls, and it occurs to me mid-tube ride… I'm like, "Oh, shoot! If I get thrown off, I'm stuck in the middle of this lake or they're going to circle back for me and run over me. I have two bad options. My only option is to hold on." So I did. I death gripped.

The thing flipped over. I'm now being pulled underwater, sucking in lake water, like, reverse enema as I get pulled, but I'm not letting go. They finally cut it, and they're like, "Swim in!" I'm like, "No, you pull me in." You hold on, Christian. In this present darkness, you hold on. You don't lose heart. You don't compromise, but you hold on to the cross of Christ. You hold on to the truth of God's Word. You hold on to the hope that is before us eternally.

This world and flesh will fade away. The Word of God stands forever. Hold on to the hope for which Christ called you. Paul writes and says, "Not that I have already obtained all this or that I've already achieved my goal, but I press on to take hold of the hope for which Christ has taken hold of me." I'm holding on. This is not the end, and we're going to make it for the glory of God and see salvation of souls, because he will see us through. Let me pray.

Father, thank you for these truths, that we're not left in some cultural morass to grope and find our way, but you have given us truths, all of these truths that were written as people lived in pagan lands, because you want us to win souls, not arguments. So, Lord, may we be about your business. May we be faithful ambassadors. May we forsake friendly fire, and may you be glorified. We know you're holding on to us. May we hold on to you. We love you. In Jesus' mighty name, amen.