Many songs that are well-known and loved all have a similar message: you’re perfect just the way you are. It’s an encouraging message, but is it true? Are we really perfect? Were we born perfect? Is there anything we should change? In this message, we decipher the truths from the lies and look to God’s Word to see if the lyrics line up with Scripture.
All right, let's go. New series kicking off tonight. Welcome, friends in the room and in Fort Worth and El Paso and Houston. Fort Worth, last night in the Ridglea Theater. Get excited. In Tulsa, in Woodlands, in Spring, in Cedar Rapids, wherever you're joining us from, we're glad you're listening. We are kicking off a new series tonight on Lyrics and Lies, anthems edition. What is anthems? Basically, we're going to look at different songs that were anthems to the last 10 to 15 years.
They kind of marked an era, marked an age, and are songs we all know the beat to. They were your old ringtone when you were in high school. They may have been a song that came out when you were in junior high or college, but they're songs that over the last 10 years have been at the forefront. These were big, big hits. We're going to cover a different topic each night and a few songs that connect to that. Let me start with a little bit of a story to get us into it.
I have a 2-1/2-year-old son, and the other day I was leaving to go to work. I came up to him to give him a hug. "Hey, Daddy is going to work. I'll see you soon." He began singing, "Grown-ups come back." I'm like, "What are you guys doing here while I'm gone? What is Mom teaching you?" Then a couple of days go by, and he sings another song. He's like, "I have to go potty," and he sings, "When you have to go potty, stop and go right away." I'm like, "What is your mother teaching you?"
Then it happened another time where he was upset about something, and he was like, "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four." I was like, "Man, this is Eminem. We're raising a prodigy right here." What had happened was he had been watching a TV show called Daniel Tiger. Oh my gosh! We have some big Daniel Tiger fans in the room. Wow, that's a curveball.
It's this show that I'm not even going to go into, but point being, on the show they have little songs they'll teach and have the kids sing as they watch in order to teach and instruct their behavior. It's pretty genius when you think about it, because in listening to it, it's instructing how they act, and it's influencing how he behaves and how he thinks about the world and even sees the world around him. "Hey, grown-ups leave, but they come back. When you have to go to the bathroom, you have to go," and on and on.
I start there because in a similar way this is really something we never grow out of. The songs we listen to, the things we watch, and specifically for this series the things we're listening to influence the way we think about the world around us. They influence the way we see, the way we behave, oftentimes, and they have an influence over how we see ourselves, what we think is valuable, where we think fun is to be had, and how we see and perceive and behave inside of the world to varying degrees.
We're going to tackle in this series different songs that have shaped the last 10 to 15 years and have shaped us and shaped parts of the way we think about the world and attack some of the lies that are contained within the songs. There's no question music is powerful. Abraham Lincoln said, whoever writes the nation's songs shapes the nation's soul. How powerful is that? You're thinking like, "Abe, what were you guys listening to back then? For real."
Even then he was going the power of music and the power to write the songs people are singing is going to be a power that's going to get implanted into people's heads. Think about how many song lyrics you have memorized and how many more you have memorized than all of the Scriptures you have memorized if you put them together. It's crazy.
So we're going to look specifically at certain lies over the next four weeks together. Tonight, we're going to look at a couple of lies that are embedded over and over and over again and have been embedded into different songs from the last 10 years. Let me just play a few of them that will give us a little framework.
Here's what's embedded inside of all of those songs. It sounds silly, but it's this idea that "You're perfect just the way you are. You do you. Anyone who tells you you need to change or be anything different are just haters. Brush them off. You do you. You're perfect just the way you are." It's a message that is at the forefront of so much of our culture, and it may be one of the most dangerous lies you can believe if you're a Christian, maybe in general as a person that you can believe.
I understand a lot of the reason Selena is singing it is she's trying to encourage the self-esteem of 13-year-old girls, but if you take that idea that "You're perfect just the way you are. You were born perfect. You don't need to change; other people need to change. Don't listen to them…" If you take that and transfer it not just to your external appearance as you go through puberty but into the way you think about life, into the way you think about, "I was made perfect. My desires, everything about me is perfect," you are going to forfeit everything God wants to do in your life.
It's going to have implications. It's going to cost you, as a person, in terms of growth. It's going to cost you everything that the Bible says God wants to do for the rest of your life in and through you. So we're going to explore three lies and three truths, three lies from a number of these songs and then three truths from God's Word.
This may be the message that people are believing most in our culture right now, that "Hey, just the way you are is perfect. Don't let anyone tell you something other. You're really a good person at the end of the day who has it together, and you don't need to worry about changing. Let the world change around you." We're going to see it is just not true.
So we're going to explore three truths. We're going to jump around. This series will be a topical look at some things in culture, and then we just take…What does God's Word say in response to some of these embedded lies? The most dangerous thing about this lie of "You do you. You're so loved. You're perfect. You're beautiful just the way you are…" It may be one of the more dangerous lies because it's a distorted version.
In other words, each one of these things I'm saying, "You're perfect, you're loved, you just need to embrace who you are…" It's such a dangerous lie because it's not like some huge, out there, like "You're an alien." That's not what it is. It's a distorted, twisted version of the truth, which is how Satan works best. He's not going to come with some huge, "out there," crazy lie. He's just going to take the truth and twist it slightly, and that's what he's doing here. So, we're going to look through these three lies and three truths that correspond to each one of them. I'll just kick it off right here.
The first one is the lie we've already said or alluded to: you are perfect. Pink in her song says, "Pretty please, don't you ever feel you're less than perfect." As Christina already said, "You're beautiful in every way. Words can't bring you down. You're so beautiful no matter what anyone says," or as Selena said, "Who says you're not perfect? Who says you're not perfect?" I don't know who's believing this, honestly. I don't know who's writing these songs and being like, "Yeah, tell them they're perfect."
Who actually believes that at the end of the day? I think most of us are at least familiar enough to be like, "Yeah, that's positive. I want to believe it, but if this is perfection, oh, we're in trouble." It is a blatant lie. The truth from God's Word, as simple as that sounds, is that you're broken, and so am I, and so is every person who has ever lived who's out there. You're broken. In attempting to build up self-esteem, they just overcorrect and tell them they're perfect.
If you embrace that, if you embrace that the desires you have, the personality you have, who you are is perfect and others need to conform to you…you are just looking for that perfect someone in your world who's going to perfectly complement your perfection…you are going to be looking for a unicorn as it relates to a spouse, and you are going to fail to grow in any way.
The first lie is that you're perfect, and the truth from God's Word is that you are broken, and so am I. The Bible says in Psalm 51:5 you're broken because of sin. You're sinful. David says, "Surely I was sinful at birth…" From my birth I've been covered in sin. "…sinful from the time my mother conceived me." I'm not just a basically good person. I am a sinner. My parents were sinners. I come into this world with a sin nature that taints everything inside of my life.
I think logically you have to think that even the singers of these songs don't believe this. They're just putting it out there. I'm sure none of them would say, "Yes, I'm universally speaking to everyone everywhere always. They're perfect just the way they are. ISIS, you do you. Sex slave traders, you do you." We'd all say, "Yeah, that doesn't really apply to you. Not perfect in that direction." There are places where we'd all agree it breaks down.
There's an association called NAMBLA, which you may have heard us talk about before: North American Man/Boy Love Association, which is a group that advocates for "Hey, pedophiles are people too" and wants to advocate for pedophilia being something people were born with and "That's okay and should be embraced. They're perfect the way they are." That is a lie, and I think all of us, even the singers of these songs, would address and believe that. Some people out there may not be perfect.
The Bible over and over again teaches the reason you are not perfect, the reason you're broken is because of sin. Sin came into the world, and when Adam sinned it was like he caught the infection, and everything inside of him was contaminated, and every descendant he would ever have… Adam being Adam and Eve, the original beginning of creation, the original parents, if you will, of all of the human race. When Adam sinned, he introduced sin into all of the world, and all of a sudden, all of his descendants caught the disease. All of them are contaminated.
In Romans 5:12 it says, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…" Basically, the Bible teaches that when Adam sinned all of his DNA all of a sudden was tainted and contaminated with sin, and for all of human history, every son of Adam or daughter of Eve has been infected with the disease.
The Bible says this is a sin nature. What is a sin nature? Sin nature means sinning comes naturally. I always feel like this kind of goes without saying, but just in case it doesn't… I mean, think about it. Think about how easy it is or the fact that sinning does come naturally. None of us came in here and had to work at being selfish. If I'm honest, I'm really good at loving me. I love me some me and I'm great at loving me, and my guess is, in neutral, so are you.
Nobody in here had to work at their lust problem, like, "You know what? This year has been my year. I'm doing Paleo and working on increasing my lust." No one has that problem. Greed is not something you have to attempt to do. It's something that can just grab ahold of you. Jealousy… No one is trying… "Oh man, I'm just not a jealous person, and I'm trying to be more jealous. Gosh, I just can't do it." It just grabs us. It comes naturally.
The Bible is just saying what we've all seen, we've all experienced, that you are not perfect and you are a broken person, just like me, because sin has come in and contaminated everything inside of us. Now here's where the distortion comes in, because you may be thinking, "Doesn't the Bible say I'm fearfully and wonderfully made? God made me. I'm fearfully and perfectly made, and he wove me together in my mother's womb, Psalm 139 says." Yes, but when the infection of sin was introduced into the human race, everything got tainted.
So your personality, your desires, your will, your mind…all of it, the Bible teaches, was contaminated by sin. There are things that can restrain us, and the Spirit of God can allow us to find victory over those things, but all of us have been totally contaminated, and everything sin has touched is contaminated. It's a little bit like this. This is going to be a weird illustration, but just go with me for a second.
Let's say we're hanging out. This Saturday you come over, hanging at my house, and we're getting together, and I'm like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to make some punch." We're hanging in the backyard. It's going great. We're grilling. All of a sudden, you go to drink some punch, and I'm like, "Hey, just want to give you a heads-up. I had the punch on the ground. My dog came over and peed in the punch. So, just, you do you." I know. Just go with me.
Here's what I'm confident your next question would not be. "Well, how much pee? How much?" It would be, "Okay, I'm going to pass. Hard pass on the punch. I'm okay." Because any contamination, it's ruined. The punch is done. (This is such a weird illustration.) The Bible says that in the same way, when sin touched humanity, when sin, which is a part of your life by choice and by birth…you were born with a sin nature and you choose to sin…
When sin touched the human race, it contaminated everything. There are varying degrees to how much sin has been a part of your life, but according to the Bible, you are broken, and sin has come in and contaminated everything it has touched. So, the first point is that you're not perfect. You are broken, and if you're going to experience healing from any brokenness or growth in your life, you will have to come to the place where you realize, "I am broken, which means the solution for my brokenness doesn't come from me."
I don't know if you're a Christian. Whatever you believe, if you come to the place where you realize, "Man, I really do have a sin nature. There's something broken in me. What is that?" if you're going to experience healing, in realizing you're broken you're taking that first step, because you're also realizing, "Which means the solution to my brokenness doesn't come from me."
The second lie we see from these songs we're covering tonight is the lie "Because you are loved, you do not need to change. You just need to accept yourself, love yourself, and move on." Lady Gaga said it this way:
There's nothing wrong with loving who you are…
'Cause he [God] made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up, girl, and you'll go far
Listen to me when I say:
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way.
The lie again: "Hey, you're loved. Just love yourself, and you'll be set. Who you are…you do you. That's all you need to worry about. You don't need to change. You're loved just as you are." The Bible says the Christian message is that because you are loved Christ wants to change you. Because Christ loves you, he wants to change you, and he will change you. If you put your faith and trust in him, he'll begin to chip away at your life and begin to change your life day by day, moment by moment. That's what Christianity teaches.
God does love you just the way you are. He loves you too much, though, to leave you that way. This is what the Bible teaches: God loves you just exactly like you walked in here, right now. Wherever you're at in this room, whatever your spiritual journey is, whatever sin struggle you're having dominate your life, whatever your past is, whatever you've done, God is crazy in love with you, and he loves you so much he doesn't just accept you; he accepts you and loves you enough to not accept you not changing.
He's going to come in and because he loves begin to change and transform your life. That's what the Christian life is. It's not static. It's not, "I put my faith on the shelf, and I keep work at work and church at church." It is a constant growing to be more like Jesus. The Bible says in Romans 8:28-29, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." He's talking about Christians.
Here's the good God works about: "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed [or transformed] to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." The Bible teaches that because God loves you he's going to come into your life and begin to transform anything inside of your life that does not look like Jesus.
I don't know if you're familiar with the statue of David by Michelangelo. When Michelangelo constructed this, which was a few hundred years ago… It's an amazing structure. It's one of the things people travel all over the world to see. Michelangelo was asked one day, "How did you make it? How did you chisel out this incredible thing from a single block of marble?"
He said, "It was easy. I just chiseled away everything that didn't look like David." That's what the Bible teaches God is doing in your life. For the rest of your life, if you're a Christian, he loves you too much to leave you that way, and he's going to chisel every single part of your life that is not consistent with his Son, because he loves you and it would be unloving to stop at anything short.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a son, and we recently went to the doctor. The doctor said, "There are a couple of things you guys, as parents, need to make sure change in your son before his third birthday." She said, "You have to get the whole potty training thing down and the middle-of-the-night wake-ups and the pacifier." I know; this is exciting stuff. Welcome to my world.
What are the middle-of-the-night wake-ups? We're at this stage where he's going to come into our room at either 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. and wake me up, and then it's a game of whatever I have to tell you in order to get to stay up for a little bit. So it's like, "I'm thirsty right now" or "I drank too much water" or he'll come in and be like, "I need to put socks on" or he'll come in again and be like, "I need to take my socks off."
The best one… True story. This kid is going to be a lawyer. He came in and was like, "I need to change my socks. These socks have been on for too long." It's like, "Oh my gosh. This is terrible." Then the potty training thing goes without saying, the pacifier thing. Here's what would be unloving: if we turned to that doctor and said, "Look, we are not changing him. Are you kidding me? That would be so unloving. We're going to let him do him.
If he wants to wear a diaper when he's in high school, that's great. Pacifier? We're cool with it. If he marries some girl someday and wakes her up at 2:00 and is like, 'Can you change my socks?' we're great with that, because we love our child." You would be like, "You guys are lunatics! You are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. What is wrong with you? That's not loving to a child."
That's what the Bible teaches over and over God is doing. He is a part of bringing change into your life and my life, not because he doesn't love you but precisely or exactly because he's crazy about you and he loves you. He wants to see you become all that you can be, and he knows that all your potential to be is connected to you becoming more and more like Christ, more free from sin, more and more to look like Jesus.
A lot of times people will say things like, "That's just the way I am. I'm a short-tempered kind of guy." Jesus wants to change that. People will say, "Man, that's just the way I am. I kind of like my 'me' time. I want alone time." Anything in your life that doesn't look like Jesus he's going to change. People will say things like, "I'm not quick to trust" or "I kind of hold a grudge." Everything in your life that doesn't look like Jesus the Spirit of God wants to kill and change.
That's what he's going to do…in eternity fully and finally, but from now until then, that's what the Spirit of God is at work convicting and bringing about, to chisel away every part of you that doesn't look like Jesus. That's what the message of Christianity is. Not "Because you're loved you don't need to change." Because God loves you he will bring about change and wants to bring about change inside of your life, inside of me.
Finally, the third point comes from a song that was written by Macklemore, the rapper: "Same Love."
I can't change, even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can't change…
When this song came out, it was clearly connected to another message. In case you were under a rock or underground in 2015, it was connected to the homosexual movement, and it's clearly about that. What I'm connecting to in this song is a message that's repeated over and over again here: "You can't change. You shouldn't try. You should just embrace and accept who you are."
It's a lie. The idea that change is impossible is a lie. Where he gets it right is the truth is, as Christians, we believe you can't change. That's right. But Christ can change you is the truth. You can't change on your own, but Christ can come in and will come in to all who allow him and accept him as Lord and Savior, and he will begin to bring about change inside of your life and inside of my life.
There are really three ways the Bible says he brings about change inside of our lives, so I just want to talk about that quickly and then show an example of the ways God brings about change. If you want to experience change, if you're going to change, if you're going to experience change in your life, it's going to involve these three things that over and over again God says, "This is the means by which I transform people."
If you have an eating disorder, if you're addicted to pornography, if you have an addiction to alcohol or maybe you're covered in anxiety all the time or jealousy or you're codependent…in every relationship you get in you're codependent…you don't have to stay that way. The God who's there promises that if you will come to him and allow him to work and specifically follow him in these three ways, you will experience freedom. This is the method by which God changes and transforms people.
I have family members who are like, "People don't really change." People change. I don't know who you're hanging out with if you're like, "Oh, people don't change." Apparently your friends don't change. I work around people all the time who have been radically changed. I was going around with our team today, just in our team time, and we have everything from, "I was divorced," "I was addicted," "I was overwhelmed in anxiety," "I was an alcoholic," everything in between, and these people…
It's like, "Man, I would have thought you grew up in a seminary or something or you spent your whole life in church, because God has radically transformed your life." Our main worship leader… As Shane was leading worship, I was thinking about Jon, who leads on Sunday. The dude was in a gang when he was 20 years old.
I look at that and I'm like, "Dude, how is that possible, Jon? You're like the nicest, most meek guy of all time. It's hard to think of you being in a gang." He's like, "I was, man. It was thug life." It's crazy. God brings about change. Let me tell you how he's bringing about change in my life or the team's lives. Anyone who's experiencing change through him is experiencing it by these three ways.
1._ Living out God's Word_. Not by reading God's Word, not by having a quiet time, not by attending The Porch on Tuesday nights…by living out what the Bible says. Here's what James, the brother of Jesus, says in James 1:22: "Do not merely listen to the word [the Bible] , and so deceive yourselves." To us he would say, "Do not merely listen or read." At that time they didn't have Bibles. They just had some of the letters. So he's saying, "Don't just show up and listen. Don't just show up and read it and so deceive yourselves."
"Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."
If you just show up on Tuesday nights, you're going to get good vibes. Hopefully you'll be encouraged, but it will not be enough to allow you to experience change in your life. You have to be someone who doesn't just read the Bible; you apply the Bible every single day. Let me just say it in the most provocative way I can put this: The Bible doesn't change people's lives. It doesn't. Applying the Bible changes people's lives.
The Bible doesn't change people's lives any more than looking into a mirror changes the way you look. You look into a mirror and you're like, "Oh, whoa! Curveball. I need to change that," or "Man, I woke up like this, and it was not pretty." That's what you do when you look into a mirror, but the mirror doesn't shave your face. The mirror doesn't apply mascara.
The mirror just tells you, "Whoa!" That's what a mirror does. (I'm telling you what I think when I look in the mirror. "Whoa!" Anyway, let's keep going.) In the same way, the Bible doesn't change people's lives. Doing what the Bible says changes people's lives. If you're going to experience being changed or transformed for Christ, it will involve you not just reading but applying God's Word into your life.
2._ Living in community with God's people_. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, "See to it…that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." Be careful. Watch out that none of you has a heart that would turn away. Then he says, "How do you make sure you're careful to not have your heart turn away from God?" Here's the remedy: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
The antidote, the Bible says, for you having a heart that doesn't turn away, for your faith staying strong, continuing to grow, for you to experience change in your life, for you to conquer addiction, for you to get over and to grow into all that God has for you, for you to experience freedom and meaning and life, not a sense of emptiness, you will have to be connected to other believers in a real way.
You're going to have to be in a Small Group or, at your church, whatever they call them…Life Groups, Home Groups, Sunday Bible study. I don't know what they're called if you don't attend here, but you have to have real authentic relationships in your life with other believers who know where you need to be encouraged daily, who you can come along and do what James 5:16 says: confess your sins to one another so that you would be healed.
If you don't have those people, you're not going to experience change, and you are forfeiting one of the primary ways God says he's going to speak to you and protect you. I hope you know this is so real to not just the broader group. This is real to me. It's real to our staff. We're all a part of Small Groups and groups with people who know where we're struggling, know where we need to be prayed for.
Recently, in the past few weeks, I entered into another group called re:gen where I'm just going, "God, there are areas of my heart I hate." I'm prideful, and I think I'm better than people. I think that I know better, candidly. I'm always like, "Yeah, that's dumb," and I think I know better, and I hate it. I don't want to live the rest of my life allowing pride to hurt my relationships, to hinder growing into the person… I have control problems and anger problems, and I don't want to allow those things to impact my life. I want to take ground.
The good news is I know that there's a God who changes people. I've seen him change my own life. He's a God that when you and I begin to apply these things brings about change inside of our lives. There is hope. You do not have to stay the way you are. The Spirit of God doesn't want you to stay the way you are, but you will if you're not living in community, if other people are not aware of the areas where you are tempted, where you are giving in to sin, where other people are not coming along you regularly.
Not like I call this guy on the phone every now and then, and then I call her, and we talk every now and then, work on accountability, and they say they pray. Daily, it says, they are in your life. If you do not have that, you are missing out on one of the key ways that God brings change. If you are dating and the person you're dating doesn't have that, you should be scared. I don't know how more lovingly to put it.
You should be afraid, and you should tell that person, "You need community," because you are dating someone who the Bible says is a fool. Proverbs 18:1 says whoever isolates himself quarrels or fights against sound wisdom. What do you call someone who fights against sound wisdom? A fool. It says they seek their own desires. They do what they think at the end of the day, "Hey, I prayed about it. This is what I think I should do."
The Bible says that person living in isolation is a fool. Am I saying you should break up? I don't know. I'm saying that you're dating someone who's living foolishly, and you should be scared or you should at least bring the conversation up and be like, "Hey, girl. I'm going to make sure you're not seven types of crazy. Do you have community?" or "Hey, guy, what's the deal? Are there guys in your life who know what's going on?"
3._ Living in dependence on God's Spirit_. The Bible says the Christian life is a constant, "Lord, I'm just dependent on you one day at a time, one day at a time." What does it look like to live dependent on God's Spirit? This one, honestly, is the hardest one to try to communicate. I think it's a constant communication in prayer of, "God, will you help me right now? I'm going to walk into this room. I'm going to be tempted to be concerned about what everyone else thinks about me. God, will you help me right now as I just get overwhelmed thinking about the future? I need your help."
I'm constantly inviting him. I'm constantly trying to be sensitive to when the Lord is kind of pricking, like, "Hey, I want you to speak up right now," and be sensitive to his leading. Being dependent on the Spirit is a constant prayer communication and an awareness of God's presence and sovereignty in your life. Those are big words. They may not mean as clear, but that's the best way I know how to put it. I'm just constantly aware.
"I'm constantly communicating with you, God. Will you help me, Lord? I'm dependent on you. If this is on my strength, I'm not going to make it. Lord, will you help me?" That posture of, "I'm dependent on you." Then just an awareness that "God, you're at work. You're around me. You're in control, and I'm constantly dependent on you. You know what just happened. You're not surprised by these events, so I'm going to trust you. Will you help me?"
You live living out God's Word, living in community with God's people, and living in constant dependence on the Spirit of God. It's such a tragedy that so many people put their faith on the shelf and don't experience change. How many people over the age of 35 do you know who are like, "Oh yeah, I'm a Christian. That's important to me," but it doesn't impact anything about their life? It doesn't impact the way they do marriage. It doesn't impact the way they handle finances. It impacts the way they attend X church every so often, and that's a good thing.
The Bible says your whole life, for the rest of your life, God wants to transform you and bring about change, and there is no limit. Gosh, I just want you to get this so badly. You have no idea how God wants to use you. You have no idea how God can use you, will use you. Inside of the room there is probably, honestly, an overestimating of yourself. You think more highly of who you are right now, and you don't think highly enough about who you could be and who God wants you to be.
Inside of the Scripture, you and I are told we're not going to get there apart from these things. You probably could not dream highly enough of the person…the father you could be, the mother you could be, the husband, wife, the type of leader, follower of Jesus, the influencer you could be. There is no ceiling that is beyond what God can do in your life. You're probably underestimating that and overestimating where you are right now.
The God who's there says, "If you will daily, in everyday, ordinary moments, live out my Word, be dependent on me, and walk in community with other believers… You do that, you're going to see transformation like you wouldn't even believe." This is how it has always worked, how it always will work, and how God is at work right now. In fact, inside of our ministry we were talking today with some friends at Fort Worth.
This is Fort Worth's last time in the Ridglea Theater, which is where they've been meeting. There's another building they're moving into. One of the reasons they're moving out of that is because they're running out of space, because God is at work changing people's lives in such radical ways. So we wanted to give you a chance to hear from some of the stories that are taking place from our friends in Fort Worth on a night like this where they are transitioning. So check out this video.
Male: We were addicted to self-pleasure.
Female: We were trying to earn our worth through athletics.
Male: We were emotional and physical abusers of women.
Female: Chasing perfection.
Male: We manipulated others.
Female: Starving for attention.
Male: Drowning in pornography and lust.
Male: We were addicted to pornography.
Female: We were crushed by disease, feeling hopeless, worthless, and forgotten.
Male: Consumed by alcohol.
Female: Hiding from community.
Male: Sought to numb the pain.
Female: Lost in abusive relationships.
Male: People-pleasers who thought we needed to perform for God.
Female: Obsessed with self-worth.
Male: Consumed by worldly success.
Female: Numb to the gospel.
Male: We were self-righteous hypocrites.
Female: We were broken.
Male: We were broken.
Male: We were broken.
Female: Then Christ.
Male: And then Christ rewrote the desires of my heart.
Female: Then Christ…
Male: …showed me that there's healing from addiction.
Female: Then Christ used total strangers to remind me just how worthwhile I was in his eyes.
Male: Then Christ showed me real freedom.
Male: Christ showed me…
Female: …I am valued.
Male: Loved me fully.
Female: Filled my life with purpose.
Male: He set me free.
Male: Then Christ showed me where real fulfillment is found.
Male: Then Christ…
Female: …revealed a transformative love for the first time.
Female: Now Christ has given us hope.
Male: My sins no longer define me. So come and see.
Male: Come and be.
Male: Come and see.
Female: Come and serve.
Female: Come and love.
Female: Come and see.
Male: Come and see.
Female: Come and see.
Male: Not our church, but our Jesus.
[End of video]
That's just a handful of some of the stories God has been writing here, not because of The Porch. The Porch doesn't write stories; Jesus writes stories. The Porch doesn't change anybody's life; Jesus changes lives. He's doing it in a lot of places, a lot of churches. A lot of places he's at work and a lot of places he's not, but in the places that he is, they're all doing the same thing. There's no silver bullet. If you want to experience change, it's going to involve you living in community, living out God's Word, and living by his Spirit.
I want to make sure I communicate really clearly that God is not saying, "Change first, and then I will love and accept you." God is saying, "I love and accept you, and if you accept me, I am going to bring about change in your life, because I love you too much to leave you that way." If you're a follower of Jesus, he is doing that or you are silencing the voice of God. He's a God who's there who's saying, "I love you so much. Not 'Change and you're accepted.' I accept you way before you ever change."
I have a friend who was going through the adoption process. She's a single girl, and she was looking to adopt. This happened with a couple friends who were going through adoption processes. They were sharing about the adoption process, and they all shared that there was one part of it that was so hard. It wasn't what I would have expected them to say, like, "If you adopt, it takes a lot of money, and it takes a lot of time. It's like weeks at a time. There are interviews, people coming to your house, all kinds of hard things."
That's what I would have expected. They said, "No, no. The hardest thing by far is the questionnaire." I'm like, "The questionnaire?" They fill out this questionnaire. They have everyone who wants to adopt, and they have to go through, and it asks questions that are hard to answer, because they're questions around, "What are the boundaries of your acceptance?"
"If the child is blind, will you accept him or her? If the child has a mental disability, are you willing to accept them? If the child has a physical disability, are you willing to accept them? If so, which ones? If the child has a terminal illness, are you willing to accept them?" It goes through over and over and over again and lays out the criteria they're willing to accept.
You go through the boundaries of acceptance and say, "These are the ones I'm going to accept." Here's what they said was so hard. It's so interesting. They said every box you check, you're essentially telling a child they have one less home they could go to. You're putting parameters on the boundaries of what you're willing to accept about someone, boundaries on the willingness you have to adopt that someone.
When God looked at you, when God looked at the human race… Here's what I want to make sure you hear me really loud and clear on. He said, "There are no boundaries to my acceptance. There's not a person in the room with a story that is too far out, who has done too much, who is too bad of a person, who has wrecked their lives too poorly to be a candidate for my grace, to be someone I'm going to adopt, who I want to adopt, who I want to bring about radical change inside of their life. I will accept them regardless of their story. There are no boundaries to my acceptance." That's what God has said.
Every person in this room who's addicted to pornography, who has pornography in their past, who's a manipulator. You're a womanizer. There are guys in this room who are womanizers. There are women in this room… There's an abortion in your past you never told anyone about, and the God who's there is not angry at you; he's crazy about you. He loves you so much he died for you on a cross to communicate that to you, to say, "There are no boundaries to my love, to my acceptance, to those who I will adopt and make my children."
I don't know what your story is in the room, but if you're sitting there… This happens so often, where the person is like, "Man, you just don't know my story." Do you really think you're the one exception? You must be new here, because the stories of the people who lead around here are stories of people with incredibly broken pasts, people with brokenness where we're still saying, "God, take my life. Help me, Lord. Take ground in my heart. I want to be more of God's man."
Whatever is in front of you right now, whatever you've never shared with anyone, or whatever you feel like is owning you, I want you to know change is possible. There's a Savior who loves you, who gave himself for you, who has placed no boundaries on his acceptance of you, yet like any good parent, if he adopts you into his family by faith, by trusting in him, he's going to do what good parents do. They raise their kids. They bring about change and growth.
That's what he's going to do in your life. If he does it, he's going to do it in these three ways: with his people, his Spirit, and applying his Word. There are no boundaries to his acceptance and no boundaries to what he wants to do in your life if you will let him. The chance is yours tonight from the God who's there, who knows everything wrong with you and says, "Will you surrender that to me? Walk with my people, and you'll experience freedom, change, life, hope." Let me pray.
Father, thank you for the ways you're at work, God. It's undeniable for so many of us who are not perfect, but we're just experiencing that there's a God who loves us enough to convict, to move us toward repentance, to confess. Thank you for the fact that no story in this room is over, because there's hope with you. As we've said before, hope has a name: Jesus.
I pray for the man or woman in this room right now who's scared…they're carrying something, candidly, they think they're going to die with, they're going to carry to their grave, they'll never tell anyone…that you would, in your kindness and grace, move them toward sharing with whoever they trust around them, whether it's one of our volunteers, somebody around them who would love to pray with, come alongside, or someone they know is a follower of Jesus, that they'd be willing to say, "This is the baggage. This is some of the guilt and shame I'm carrying."
Then into that guilt and into the sin of our lives your grace would run deeper and you would grab more of us, we'd experience more of you, more of your love, and we would look more like Jesus. God, would you chip away everything that doesn't look like him and do something marvelous with the men and women in front of me? For your name and your glory, would you kill the pride in my heart, God? Would you help me? Would you help us all? In Christ's name, amen.