We can all rally around having a voice that matters. In some ways, the encouragement to “speak your truth” has it’s perks, but we often mistake what we feel, think and experience for what is true. In this message, we break down the difference and provide practical ways to #filter what God’s Word says we should always share and what’s worth keeping to ourselves.
Welcome, friends in the room. Welcome, friends in Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston. Porch North Dallas is kicking off tonight in Frisco and Plano at the Angelika theater, so welcome, you guys, and everybody else tuning in from around the country. We're continuing this series Instagram Theology where we are looking at some of the cultural mantras and questioning how they align with biblical truth.
One of the things I love about social media is oftentimes it gives a voice or it gives a perspective or it just showcases different things in culture that create a unique rise among people. What do I mean by that? Recently, if you've been following on Twitter or Instagram (mainly Twitter), there has been a debate taking place (or a war, some have called it) about the chicken sandwich. What is the best chicken sandwich? Is it Chick-fil-A? Is it Popeyes? Who has had a Popeyes chicken sandwich in here? They're sold out. The most genius marketing ploy of all time, but they are sold out.
There has just been a back and forth, and a lot of hilarious things have come out of that, different memes and different people raising their voice and raising the perspective on "Hey, this is the best chicken sandwich of all time." It just kind of exploded, people putting forward Chick-fil-A versus Popeyes, and then Wendy's tries to throw something in there just to get a little airtime, and everyone is like, "All right. We're done with you. Back to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes." Just people going off about, "Hey, this is what I think is best."
"No, this is what is best."
"No, this is what's best."
"Hey, you haven't even tried it yet. You don't have the right to even speak into this. This is for sure the best chicken sandwich that is out there. Or really, if you take the Popeyes and add the Chick-fil-A sauce, that's the best scenario you could have." People just going off about their opinion and expressing it. Social media gives us a chance to voice what we think is true or our opinion about a certain situation.
This was another recent scenario in the last couple of weeks where that happened with the sandwich, not dissimilar to a time about a year ago where there was another moment in our culture or on social media where another thing came up that sharply divided people around what is actually true and what their perspective on this thing was. What do I mean? It was something that had to do with an audio recording, and this is the audio recording.
In the room right now, you are either hearing "Laurel" or "Yanny." By show of hands, who hears "Laurel" in this room? Oh wow. Okay. Who hears "Yanny"? Wow. Wait a second. One more time. "Laurel." Raise them high. Raise and praise. Okay. I hear "Laurel." Who hears "Yanny"? Okay. The math doesn't add up. Some of you guys are raising your hands twice here.
It was another one of those moments where in culture everyone was like, "Hey, you guys are crazy to think that it's 'Yanny'" or "You're crazy to think that it's 'Laurel.'" I'm not even going to bring up the black and blue dress-gate of 2015. We're over that one. Social media has really given us a chance to divide and take sides and express our opinion and express what we think it is and express our perspective on the matter or our opinion on it.
The reason I start there is because tonight we're going to talk about another subject or something that goes along those lines that is a cultural mantra that takes place often in social media, but really, even more broadly in society, that further encourages "You have an opinion and you have a perspective, and you need to share that perspective," but it doesn't call it your perspective; it calls it "Share your truth."
There's a cultural mantra that you and I should be encouraged to go speak our truth. "You have a truth. You have a story. You need to speak it." It was popularized by Oprah in 2013 at an awards ceremony where she said the most powerful thing you can do is to speak your truth. Other variations of it can look like people saying things like, "Man, I've just been trying to live my truth lately" or in the midst of a conversation where maybe you disagree with somebody, they're like, "Hey, dude. That works for you. We disagree. Your truth is your truth. My truth is mine."
It's really another variation of "You do you" or "Do whatever makes you happy." No longer is there a source or a singular truth, but what is true could be just true for you. Now, the consequences of that scenario with "Laurel" and "Yanny…" The chicken sandwich is really just a matter of opinion, but when it comes to "Laurel" and "Yanny," it's a matter of your perspective. There are times where my perspective… I could believe it's true, but it's not necessarily the truth.
There is a truth to whether it's "Laurel" or "Yanny," but the consequences of believing wrongly or having the wrong perspective or believing the wrong truth about that thing are pretty minimal, other than it may make for interesting conversation with your coworkers or with friends after tonight. But the consequences for believing a perspective that's not true about marriage, about God, about you, about the type of job you should work, about the type of relationships you should have, about what life is about, are much more significant.
We, as a society, have never been in more need of truth. Not a generic, high-level, kind of like "Speak your truth" and this moving target and "What's true for me may not be true for you" but an actual truth. Every way you look, our society seems to be embracing this idea that "Whatever you feel like, that is your truth." Whenever a person, a people, a country, or a society begins to believe that idea, there are significant consequences.
Here's what's crazy. God speaks to this exact idea about "Speak your truth." As subtle as it is… I think most of us just mean like, "Mm, yes. Popeyes chicken sandwich. Mm, girl. Speak your truth." We mean it in a subtle way, but it can be even a dangerous thing if we begin to think truth is a moving target and it's not "one size fits all"; it's just whatever you deem as truth. They should just say, "Mm, speak your opinion."
We're going to look tonight at some of the ideas and how you and I can begin to recognize, "What am I believing right now that may not be true? What is my perspective? I truly feel it in this moment, but how can I know when something is actually true, and what should I do with my perspective when it doesn't align with reality or the truth, and how do I even determine what's reality if I really do feel in this moment…? I'm hearing 'Yanny' and it's 'Laurel' or I'm hearing 'Laurel' and it's actually 'Yanny.'"
So, we're going to look at this idea and dive into what God's Word has to say about truth. Here's the deal: the moment society began to put forward something that says truth, it's like we all stepped into God's playpen, because God says, "Truth is not something you define; I define it." So, we're going to look at what the Bible says about this idea of truth and significant consequences for any people who do not embrace the reality of truth.
So, three ideas, three ways you can recognize. Here's the danger with all of these different social media mantras: there's some partial truth to each of them. There's some partial truth to "Speak your truth." Another way of saying it is there is some partial truth to the idea of "You should share your perspective, your opinion at times, your story."
The danger in all of the different things we're going to look at for the next few weeks is that they're not these huge, distorted lies. They take a truth and then just twist it a little bit. In other words, what makes a counterfeit more easily able to deceive someone is how closely it resembles the thing it's trying to fake or be a counterfeit of.
I don't know if you guys have seen fake Louis Vuitton purses. If you go to New York on that one street, whatever street that is called, you're able to buy a version of Louis Vuitton purses. Here are two real ones and a fake one right next to each other. They're strikingly similar. If you're a girl, you may be able to notice all of the different intricacies if you looked really hard, but as a guy, I'm like, "I don't know."
There is also a picture of a regular purse that someone just took a Sharpie and wrote "Louis Vuitton" on the outside. I'm not the smartest guy, but even I can go, "I don't know that that was what Louis was going for or that is an actual Louis Vuitton." What makes a counterfeit dangerous is it's closer to the truth and subtly twisted.
So, we're going to look at another one of these semi-truths that has just taken truth and twisted it and look at three ways you and I can begin to recognize, "Hey, where am I believing a lie? Where is my perspective off? What is actually the truth, and how can I live by it?"
In other words, your perspective at times may be true or may not be true, but knowing, "In every situation, I need to come at this humbly, knowing that my perspective on what's going on here, on what my coworkers think about me, on what the person I'm dating thinks about me or how this is going, about why they didn't invite me to hang out with those people, may be truth or may not be true." We need to be approaching it with a cautiousness, recognizing that your perspective or your feelings are not always an accurate indicator of reality.
What you feel is not always real. It may be really what you feel, and you should be honest about that, and you shouldn't hide it and pretend like you're not feeling that, but you should also recognize that what you feel may not be an accurate depicter of reality. Your perspective is not always an accurate one. It's very simple on the head, but it has significant consequences, and it completely contradicts the idea of speaking your truth.
It's not dissimilar to Instagram in general, as we've talked about in this whole series. Instagram is kind of a perfect example of where my perspective is definitely not reality. The more I get on Instagram and look at people's Insta Stories or look at their account and the things they're posting and I believe that's actually real life, the more I'm going to have a distorted view of everyone else's life but my own. Do you think about this?
When I get on Instagram, all of the pictures people post (you do it too, and I do it too)… They're pictures of people, and they're riding bikes with baskets on the front that are from the 70s, and they're getting cupcakes together. They're always on vacation, always swimming in the pool somewhere warmer. Their life is together. It's like, "Do these people even work?" No. They don't have to work. They have money growing on trees in their backyard. That's what they do. They're driving the right car. They have the best clothes. They look amazing.
Here's the kicker: they're always smiling. Then you get to be around them. Here's the weird thing about ministry. You rub elbows with a bunch of different people at different times. You get to know them, and it's like their life is falling apart. Their marriage is falling apart. They're struggling with depression and on antidepressants. They're in this place where there's so much pain, yet if you just went off of what you saw, you would have to come to the conclusion your perspective is not reality.
Instagram is not real. In the same way, your perspective is not always real. The things you're feeling are not always an accurate depiction. The biggest problem with "Speak your truth" is it suggests truth could be different from person to person, which by definition contradicts what truth is. What do I mean by that? Here are all of the definitions of truth from Dictionary.com if you were to type it in. "The true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle…"
I'm not going to read all of them, but here's what you'll notice all of them have in common: none of them suggest that truth is something you can change or tweak and make whatever best suits you and "you do you" or whatever best suits your scenario and your situation right there. Truth is fixed, and by definition, the reason "Speak your truth" falls apart is you cannot have a truth that is unique to you and not universally true, because truth by definition is something that is in line with reality.
But we, on an individual level, all the time try to escape and try to live as though there isn't fixed truth and we can live whatever is true for us. As an individual we do this, and as a society we are so confused. As an individual. What do I mean? I mean people who are like, "You know what? I know the Bible doesn't exactly encourage living together, but me and my girl are moving in. It's cheaper rent. I just think it's the best move for us.
We need to get to know each other before we move farther in this relationship, find out if we're compatible, so we're going to move in together, begin to spend time forming that relationship. Before we get too serious, that's what I think is best for us. That's the truth I think we should follow and live by." That's an example of somebody living their truth or living according to their perspective and their feelings.
Another example would be couples that are like, "You know, sex before marriage… I guess the Bible is not real big on that, but I think if we're going to get married we need to find out if we're sexually compatible" or "We're married in God's eyes, and we're going to get married eventually, so we should move toward that direction. Culture says, 'Wait till you're ready,' and I feel like I was born ready, so let's do this." That's somebody speaking their truth.
Another example would be (this is a really common one among young adults) the idea that "I know I'm supposed to get plugged into a church, but every church is messed up. Me and Jesus are cool, and you can't tell me I can't be cool with Jesus if I'm not a member of a church somewhere. I'm going to do me. That's what I think is best for me in this situation." You're living your truth. You wouldn't say it that way, but that's exactly what you're doing. You're doing what seems right to you in that scenario.
Tragically, as a society, in a way that is shocking, we're doing this more than ever, where we have begun to embrace and go full tilt "Do whatever you feel. Whatever you feel is right, that's what you should do. There isn't really a right and wrong. Whatever you feel is your reality and is your truth." What do I mean? Think about things like gender. Looking this week at Facebook, do you know how many genders you can select from on Facebook? Fifty-eight.
They're just saying, "Hey, gender is kind of a moving target. We don't want anyone to feel left out, so just in case we missed you, we're going to put 'other' at the very last." Sometimes I think about trying to explain this to someone 10 years ago and how confused they would be. Sometimes I think in 100 years they're going to be so confused. "What was wrong with these people?"
I'm not pointing that out to be judgmental or condemning. The Bible would say there are only two genders. My point in pointing all of that out is, as a society, you cannot argue with the fact that we have wholesale bought the idea of "You do you. Whatever you define as your truth, that's your truth." We've done the same thing as it relates to when life begins. There are so many examples, but here's another one: the idea that when life begins is really up to you, that a child is not a child unless the mother feels like it is a child.
Last year, the House of Representatives and the United States Congress passed a bill that a child in the womb is not a child until the point of birth. A woman on our team is 34 weeks pregnant. Look up a 34-week-old ultrasound. It's shocking. All of his organs are developed. Every eyelid is there. His fingerprints…everything. That happens much earlier in the scenario. But our culture has said that unless the mother feels like it is a baby, it is not a baby, and she can make the decision to end the life inside of her at any point, because we, as a culture, have said that feelings trump all.
Instead of making our lives pursue the heart of God, we have made the heart a god, and it is already having tremendous consequences. The God who's there is saying, "I do not want you to live with the perspective that everything you feel is reality, and if you follow your heart, it's going to lead you to bad and deadly places, both for a country that does that and for an individual who allows that to happen inside of their own life."
Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 12, speaks to this exact idea. "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death." How brilliant was Solomon? If you guys haven't been in church for a while, this is probably some of the oldest literature you've ever read before. In other words, if you read Homer or Plato or any of that stuff, this is far older than that, hundreds of years older than that.
Even hundreds of years ago, Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived other than Jesus, wrote as he observed society that there is a way people think, like, "Oh yeah, this is a good idea. Oh yeah, we should do this. Yeah, this is a great idea," and it leads to death and destruction inside of our lives. We see this in so many different arenas, so many different relationships, where people are like, "Yeah. I know he's not exactly a Christian, but I love him, and I just feel like I could be a good influence on his life," and it leads to heartbreak.
People take substances and get addicted and are trapped inside of a bondage to a substance, and they do so by their own choosing. Think about that, the self-destructiveness. There's something in all of us that's broken. Solomon says if you begin to follow your heart, it's going to take you in a direction that always ends in pain for you and pain for anyone who's a part of that. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 the reason there's something inside of you that seems like, "Yes, this is right" and you're walking off a cliff is because you have a heart that is utterly sick.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." Think about that. Have you met somebody who's really good at lying? We've all met people who are really bad at lying. We're like, "Yeah. I know you're not telling the truth right now. I can tell. It's written all over your face." The Bible says the heart is world-class lying to you. It'll deceive you. You won't even realize you're being deceived in a moment, because the heart, this thing inside of you, has been fractured by sin, and it's utterly sick.
It says, "…beyond cure. Who can understand it?" The danger of making the heart your god or what you feel be the determining factor about what you do is that you and I have sick hearts, and God has invited us to surrender our lives, to surrender to his Spirit and allow him to walk with us to begin to restore and direct our lives, but if you just allow your heart to be the direction of your life, you are not going to head in a direction that you want to end up.
So, the first idea is that we're told that if you follow your perspective, what you think is real, it will always end up costing you. Your feelings are real, they're not always reliable, and they're not always determinant of what is real. Once upon a time, I got to go on a private jet with a friend of mine. Anyone ever been on a private jet before? Yeah, this is not a circle I run in very often, so I was like, "Dude, this is amazing."
I got to go sit on this private jet. He was flying to St. Louis for something related to work, and he was like, "Hey, do you want to come with me?" I got in there, and it was all amazing. Leather chairs. You're like, "This is incredible." I start talking to the pilot, because I'm just fascinated by the whole situation. I'm asking about flying and "How fast does this thing go?" and yada, yada, yada. At some point he's like, "Do you want to come up here?" I'm like, "I thought you'd never ask. Okay."
So I get in the cockpit, and he lets me sit in the cockpit as we're taking off and flying. What happened when we took off and got into the air was so shocking to me and terrifying, honestly, because we got into the clouds, and we couldn't see anything. I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I was thinking, "You're going to go up into the air, and you can see the horizon. This is beautiful. Oh, hey, guys," and I'd be able to see things that are out there.
You couldn't see anything. It was like somebody put a giant fog machine in front of the plane and was just blowing smoke. You'd just see the clouds in front of you. As we began to talk, I was like, "How do you know where you're going? How do you make sure you're not flying into another plane that's coming?" It was kind of terrifying. He said, "This is honestly what it's like all the time. The way you know is you trust the instruments. You can't go based on what you see or even what you feel, because it'll lead you astray."
This is a crazy thing. Did you know there's something called black hole vertigo? If you ever meet a pilot or you know someone who's a pilot, you can ask them about it. Basically, you will feel like you are traveling in one direction, because all of your senses when they get up in the air… Black hole vertigo clicks in, and it begins to trick you and makes you think you're headed in a direction you're not really headed in.
If you remember JFK Jr, that's how he died. He thought he was flying straight, and he ended up flying right into the ocean. It'll trick your senses to being like, "Oh yeah, we're fine," and you're upside down. You can't tell. You're totally disoriented. It messes with your senses. So if you go based on what you feel, you will destruct or you're putting your life in incredible risk, and incredible chaos is likely to happen.
Or you go based on what the instruments and the levels and all of the different machines that are part of a jet plane tell you to do. Even when you feel like, "Oh man, we're headed upside down," they'll tell you when it's level. Even when you feel like, "Man, we're not headed in the right direction," it tells you exactly the direction you're going in. You have to trust not what you feel but the instruments.
As a Christian, the Bible tells us we are to take all of the things we feel and try to align them with God's Word. Don't trust the things you feel if they don't align with God's Word. Don't trust them if they don't align with the instrument that is the Bible, which brings us to the second thing to recognize as it relates to this idea of truth.
Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart…" Do not trust your heart as lord. Trust the Lord with your heart, with everything you feel. That's what that means. "…and lean not on your own understanding…" On what you think is right, how you think you should date, how you think you should handle money, when you think you should leave a job, how you should talk about people.
Whatever seems right to you, I wouldn't lean on that. Lean on and trust in the Lord, and trust in his Word. With all of your heart, in all of your understanding, submit those to God. "…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." He'll lead you to a life that doesn't look dysfunctional and broken and so messed up but is a life that's full of healthy relationships, full of a relationship that is connected to your Creator, a life full of purpose and freedom. That's what that means.
You and I are to recognize God's Word is truth. I am told that I am to trust the truth of God's revelation in every single situation. I trust the truth of God's revelation (that's what the Bible is) in every single situation. Whatever is going on in my life, I'm to go, "What would God's Word say about this situation right now?" If I'm insecure about what my boss thinks about me, what would God's Word say about that? Well, it would say the heart of kings, or those in leadership, and the things they think are like water in the hands of the Lord. He turns them wherever he wants.
"God, you're in control over what the people above me in my workplace think about me, what their opinions are of me. The best thing I can do is surrender and trust in you. I'm not going to be anxious and insecure and worried about that. My singleness, my concern over whether or not I'm going to get married… God, I'm going to look to you, and I'm going to surrender and trust in you. You have a plan for my life.
If you want me to be married, I don't need to try to maneuver and manipulate and get on 75 dating apps and make it all work for myself. I can trust you, that in your timing… I'm just going to continue to say, 'What does God's Word say?' and I'm going to look for the type of person in God's Word that you tell me I should date, I should be in relationship with. I can trust you. I'm going to recognize that your Word is truth in my life."
Jesus, in one of his final prayers for his boys, the disciples, in John 17, was praying to his heavenly Father for his 12 men, and he said, "Father, would you make them holy by your truth? Teach them your word, which is truth." God's Word is the truth, and living by it leads to life. Following Jesus and living according to God's Word will make you better at life and will make your life better.
Like we talked about last week, this isn't the prosperity gospel, but it promises that when you begin to date, think, live, operate by, follow the instructions in God's Word, it will make your life better and it will make you better at life. He has called us to not just have this thing we read every now and then or read even in the mornings but to read and to begin to apply it to our lives, to ask, "What are the principles God left here for me to apply to my life?"
I think the problem is when we read the Bible, it's honestly so confusing. Can I get an "amen"? There are times where you pick it up and you're like, "What is he saying right here? These prophets are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and I don't know what they're saying." A lot of that is because of the context that you're not reading it with. You're not understanding exactly what's going on. The goal, if you're going to be a student of God's Word… In order to apply God's Word, you have to know God's Word.
The challenge when a lot of us go to read God's Word is it's like, "Man, this thing is so confusing." People will say things like, "The Bible is the road map to life," and then you're like, "All right. Well, I'm going to pull this thing out. I'm looking for directions on whether I should marry her or not. Okay. Is Callie the one for me? Huh. 'Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings.' What in the world? God, are you trying to tell me something right now? Is this an alarm bell that you're letting me know?" We just kind of flip open like it's a Magic 8 Ball.
Or we're going to work and we're like, "Man, does God want me to stay in this job or does he not? I don't really know. What would he have me do? Okay. Let's just flip. Okay, this is a good one. All right, Ezekiel 44:2. 'And the Lord said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it."' I'm so confused right now. All right. I'll try again tomorrow."
That's what we do. We look at it like a Magic 8 Ball, where we're like, "I'm just going to flip it over. Does he want me to be in this relationship? I guess not" or "Yes, he does." We're looking for this magical sign, and we treat it like a magic 8 ball. The Bible says you and I are the people who rightly handle God's Word, who study it, who know it.
I'm so passionate, and our team is so passionate. We want you to be people who don't have to come to The Porch. You don't have to hear from anybody. There's nothing special about myself or any of our team other than we just look at God's Word and try to read. "What was it saying then? What's it saying now? What's the eternal principle and truth that's inside of here?"
All of the different truths that are contained in God's Word have principles and things that are relevant to your life. It is more relevant to every situation…on who you should date, how to handle money, the types of relationships and friendships you should have, how you should speak. It goes in so many different arenas that are relevant to your life, but in order for you to begin to apply it, you have to read it and you have to be a student of it and begin to understand it.
For that to happen, here's what some of you need to do. Go to watermark.org and type in "Equipped Disciple." It's a class we offer here to help you understand how to read your Bible so you don't just read it and go, "What in the world is happening right here?" Another opportunity you can go to is we have Views From The Porch, which is an alternative podcast we do. One of them we did was on how to have quality time with the Creator. You can go read about how to have quality time with your Creator.
If you don't have a Bible, there are Bibles that are for free in the Dallas location in the Welcome Center right outside of these doors. You can grab one tonight. That's our gift to you for free. Another thing you could consider doing is getting a good study Bible. We actually have one here that we sell at cost or below cost. It's the ESV Study Bible. It is a tremendous resource. It is better than going to seminary. I say that as somebody who has gone to seminary. If you read through this entire thing, you will be as equipped as you could be if you went to seminary.
Either way, find a good study Bible that helps you understand what was going on so you don't just rip these verses and words out of context and go, "Man, I guess that's what God wants me to do with a prostitute. Is she a prostitute? Is that what God is saying?" No. You just ripped a random verse out of Ezekiel. He wants you to know and understand. For you to do that, you have to recognize his Word is true, and you have to be a student of it and understand it.
The truth is many of us don't want to read the Bible because we don't want to apply it to our lives. We kind of like staying ignorant about it. We don't want to know exactly all that is in there, and we don't want to have a bunch of rules or we even think of the Bible as a bunch of rules God has given because he's kind of a buzzkill, this cosmic hall monitor. Truly.
I don't think anyone would say it that way, but there's part of all of us, at least myself (I'll say it), that thinks God is up there like, "Hey, look. You're going to have some fun, but too much fun and I am turning the sun off. We are not doing this right now. This is too much. If you had one too many to drink, then I'm done. You are in time-out for the next three days." Or that if I don't do something right, he's out there and he's just some cosmic hall monitor, and he has given rules…
Come on, dude. There are so many of you. You actually think this, and I want you to think about how illogical it is. You think God is there just giving rules because he has nothing better to do. He's like, "I'm God. I'm kind of up here alone. I've got the angels over there, but I've got nothing… All right. Hey! You guys, stop sleeping together. No more fun over there, and no tobacco for you, Mister."
That's what you think God is doing. The Bible doesn't say that at all. It says he gives instructions and principles from the Bible to lead you to life because he loves you. He cares about you. It's not that he has nothing better to do than be a buzzkill. He cares about you.
Any dog parents in this room? Okay, great. In my last house, there was a time in our home where we didn't have a fence in the backyard, and not having a fence made it so I couldn't let the dog go out in the backyard because he could run away different places. He could get hit by a car if he escaped. He could do different things.
Then we got a fence, a parameter that was put into his life, and he was given more freedom to go out and chase squirrels and do whatever dogs like to do. A parameter led him to more freedom, not less freedom. He wasn't in danger of his life being taken by running into a car. As any dog parent in here… You love your dog. You care about him like a parent loves children. You don't give instructions, you don't pull him out of the street or stop him from running in the street because you're there to rip your dog off, like, "No more fun for you, Mister Sniffles." Think about that.
That's what you think about God. How ridiculous would it be if somebody was like, "You know what? I just think these humans really like holding these dogs back." That's what some people think about God when they go, "Man, he's just there to give rules. He's a big killjoy." The God who's there gives parameters to enhance, to bring more freedom into your life, not less. Whenever we live according to what seems right to us, oftentimes we end up exchanging our freedom or in the name of freedom handing over that freedom, and we're trapped. We're in bondage.
Is an alcoholic who has the freedom to drink as much as he wants free when he can't go three days without having a drink? Is a pornography addict who has total freedom to do whatever he wants free when he can't go a month without looking at porn? No. God isn't there to give rules to rip you off. All of the parameters he gives are there to enhance freedom, to keep you and me free, not to take it away. So, the second idea is recognizing God's Word is truth. Your perspective may or may not be truth. God's Word is truth.
There are so many times in Scripture it says you need to speak these things. You need to say certain things. You need to express with your mouth or articulate and communicate in different ways. If you're going to follow Jesus, it involves you sharing your perspective on things, and recognizing when to share those things and what to share as it relates to your perspective is a part of following Jesus and any maturing taking place inside of your life. Here are some of the times as it relates to the things you are commanded to speak. I'll set it up like this.
Who has heard the phrase always, sometimes, never? Good. Two of you. For the rest of you, let me educate. There are things in life you always speak, you sometimes speak, you never speak. The first I've heard about that phrase is as it relates to wedding suits. I don't do a lot of weddings that much anymore, but recently, because my suit that I've had for 10 years has gotten too small and I've ripped it in two back-to-back weddings… Had it fixed, ripped it again, and it was like, "Oh man. I need to wave the towel. I've put on too much weight." So I got another suit.
As I was sitting there getting fitted for the suit… It was a two-button suit, and they began to explain that there are certain suits that have three buttons, certain suits that have two. If you have a three-button suit it should look something like this. A three-button suit, there's sometimes, always, and never. If you have a two-button suit, then it is always and never. In other words, just like in that scenario, that's what it means.
Ladies, in case this is just educational for you someday, when a guy wears a suit, the bottom one… I'm not even sure why we have it on there, but it's not supposed to be buttoned ever. The middle one apparently is always supposed to be buttoned, and the top one sometimes. I don't know who makes these rules, but they're out there. If you have a two-button suit, she began to explain, that is an always and a never, but you never, never, ever button that bottom one.
In the same way, the Bible has certain things that are "always speak" and "never speak." There are certain things you should always speak, always communicate. What are some of those things as it relates to what you should share, what you should always speak, the perspective you should share? You should always speak your hurts. Matthew 18:15 says this. We call this keeping short accounts.
When somebody has hurt me, especially if they're a believer, I go to them and say, "Hey, that hurt my feelings when you did X." There are two things I focus on: the action they took and the emotion it created inside of me. I don't focus on character. I don't focus on motive. I don't focus on "This is just who you are. You're a bad apple. You always do this type of thing." I focus on the specific action. "You didn't call me back, and it made me feel like you don't care about me." I focus on the specific action and the emotion it created in me.
Proverbs 19:11 says if you can believe the best and overlook it, it is to one's glory to overlook an offense, but if I'm hurt and I can't, because I keep replaying the tape of what they did, I go to that person and I speak my hurt. What's another thing? You should always speak and confess your sins. James 5:16 says you should have authentic relationships with people in your life where you can confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed.
God says the healing process involves you confessing to another human the different areas in your life where you are sinning. You should have authentic relationships. This is why we harp on small groups and Community Groups so much: so if you're a guy you can have guys around you who are going, "I looked at pornography this week. I was tempted to look at pornography. I'm confessing where I'm tempted. I just have had lustful thoughts running through my head about a past relationship."
That's a conversation that recently took place from me in my Community Group. There's no perfect pastor up here who has it all together. You need to have authentic relationships, and you should always speak and confess at a sin level, at a temptation level, and have people in your life.
Thirdly, share your story. Hebrews 10:24-25 talks about how we're to encourage one another and play a role in spurring each other on to love and good deeds. How can I do that if I don't know your story, if I don't know the pain you've felt, the ways people have hurt you, the ways there's a father wound or somebody walked out and just some of the baggage in your story? You should share your story.
If there's sexual abuse, you should share that. You don't need to be ashamed of that. You need to know that 1 Thessalonians 4:6 says God is the avenger of such people and people who do such acts, but you don't need to be ashamed of that. You can bring that out into the light and share with others so they can better love and care and know you.
Fourthly, you should share your feelings. Hebrews 3:12-13 says that as it relates to your heart and what you feel, other people are God's provision for helping you navigate the feelings and emotions you have inside of your heart. They are the tools God uses to be those who speak in and are like, "I know you're angry right now, but what does the Bible say about anger?"
You should speak what you're feeling. If you feel sexually oriented toward the same sex, you shouldn't feel like, "I can't share that. I'm ashamed of that. I'm embarrassed of that." You should feel the freedom to share that. If you feel like someone whose gender is off and not aligned with who God made you to be, you should feel the freedom to share that.
Finally, the fifth "always speak" is Proverbs 27:6, that you should speak hard things. You cannot be a good friend without being willing to tell the truth even when it's hard. The Bible says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." You cannot be a good friend and you don't have good friends if you don't have people who are willing to tell you the hard truth even when it's uncomfortable.
Five things you should never speak. When it's slander (Colossians 3:8). When it's speaking evil about someone, in other words. When it's gossip (Proverbs 20:19). When you're talking about someone and they're not present. Venting is what you call it, and it is sin. You should never speak gossip. When it tears others down (Ephesians 4:29). Our city would change if this verse got applied. Never say a word about anyone unless it's building them up. Never.
When it's out of selfish motives. If you're saying it just to make yourself look better, you shouldn't. Philippians 2:3: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition…" Nothing, Paul? Nothing out of selfish ambition. When it is reckless (Proverbs 12:18). This is why we harp on community so much. Life is hard. Your 20s and 30s are hard, but they are so much harder when you are alone and when you don't have relationships with people who can come around and you can be real with.
In summary, recognize your perspective may or may not be truth, God's Word is truth, and when to share your perspective. As it relates to the idea of the chicken sandwich, there really isn't a truth there. That's totally opinion. But as it relates to "Laurel" and "Yanny," there is a truth. It may not be all the perspectives represented here, but the creator of it said, "No, it's 'Laurel.' It is 'Laurel.' People may hear something different, but I created it. I know it. I made it. It was 'Laurel.'" It was for a script that had "Laurel" in it, I believe.
You can find out what's true by going back to the creator and seeking to understand what is true. Do you know one of the marks Paul says in Romans, chapter 1, of those who are underneath the wrath of God? He says here's how you can know someone is underneath the wrath of God: "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen."
They exchanged the truth, and they took on a lie. They didn't realize they were doing it. They may not have even intentionally done it, but Paul says when someone is under the wrath of God, they pushed aside the truth of what God's Word says. "This is how sexuality should exist. This is the purpose in life. This is what life is ultimately all about." I'm pushing that aside, pushing God's Word aside. I'm pushing all of that truth aside, and in its place I'm putting my opinion.
Our culture is embodying what Paul said it looks like to be underneath the wrath of God by pushing aside the truth and embracing a lie, but here is the good news: all over our country right now, there are young adults who are rising up, like many inside of this room, like many of those who are listening right here, and they're saying, "We're going to live according to what this book says…what it says about where life is found, what it says about sexuality, what it says about marriage, how I should date, how I should live, how I should spend my time."
They're rising up and saying, "I'm not going to buy the lie of Miley Cyrus and everybody else for whom I can clearly see 'Live however you want' does not work. It doesn't work for them. It has never worked for anyone, and I'm going to surrender my life. I'm not going to do it perfectly, but I'm going to do it purposefully. I'm going to try to apply what God says in here and take it and apply it to my life, and I'm going to live that way." Many in this room are doing it, many on different campuses right now.
Here's what you need to know. In Austin, Texas; in El Paso, Texas; Tulsa; Sweetwater, Texas; Houston; Nashville; Philadelphia; Cedar Rapids; Mint Hill, North Carolina; Fayetteville; Woodlands; Phoenix; Cincinnati; and other locations, young adults by the thousands right now are listening in at various Porch Live locations. There are people coming together saying, "We're going to live according to what this book says. We're going to follow God. My heart will not be my god. I'm going to let God be the Lord of my heart, and I'm going to surrender and walk with him," and it is going to change our country.
This is a generation that will redefine the church. It's going to redefine the church for a hundred generations (I believe that with all of my heart) by realigning with what God's Word says, by men and women saying, "If nobody comes with me, I'm not going to date like Taylor Swift tells me to date. I'm not going to live like all of celebrity culture and Hollywood tells me this is where life is found, shortly before they overdose, because tragically, they still haven't found what they're looking for."
Everywhere, and not just at these different locations, there are men and women in this generation all over the country saying, "I'm going to follow Jesus, and I'm going to live according to what he says," and they're experiencing life. The same God who's there offers that extension and invitation to you if you will live according to his Word.
That's not how you have eternal life. Jesus said in John, chapter 14, a really remarkable thing. He's sitting around. It's one of his last conversations with his boys. He begins to talk about heaven, and he says in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus says truth is not something you define. Truth is not something that changes. Truth is a person. Truth has a name, and it is Jesus.
It is in knowing him and walking with him all of life begins to make sense. Everything dysfunctional… It doesn't overnight just snap in perfectly, but everything in this world begins to click and I begin to see it more clearly. Jesus says he puts purpose and all of life in focus, because truth and all of the Scriptures and the things in God's Word were meant to point to God's Son who John 1 says is the ultimate Word of God.
In walking with him and living according to his Word there is life. Or you can exchange the truth of God for a lie, and when you do, Paul says the same thing happens every time: you experience distance from your Creator and destruction in your life. Let me pray.
Father, thank you that you have reached into so many of our hearts in this room, into those listening, and you have allowed us to see the truth of God in the face of Jesus. Thank you that you have not left us without instruction but you have given us through your Word principles, teachings, things meant to lead us to life, to help us navigate what it looks like to date, to live, to work, to have healthy relationships, to not feel alone, to not be alone. Thank you that you love us.
I pray for anyone in this room who has not experienced encountering the truth of Jesus. There's nothing I could do, no message I could give, no music we could play that could allow someone to see the reality and the truth of Jesus. He alone is the way to heaven exclusively. He alone is the way to life, and he alone, just like truth is exclusive, is the God who is there who came and put on human flesh to die in our place. He calls us to truth, and in his Word we find truth.
Would you help any of our friends who have never experienced and trusted tonight, whether in this room or in the 20 different locations listening? Tonight is their night, God. Would you whisper and do what only you can do, which is to stretch out your hand and save? We love you, and we believe. We see a generation rising up. It will change the church and call it back to realigning with what the church was always intended to be: the people of God living by the Word of God, walking with the Son of God. We worship you now in song, amen.