An Open Letter to Kevin Garcia

dialectic_giotto

I am not a talented writer or blogger. In fact, most of the people who follow anything I have to say are people who love me far more than I deserve. As an avid blog reader and follower, I have seen many “An Open Letter to…” blogs, always wondering if they actually accomplished anything.

Kevin, I do not know you as well as I would have liked. I remember you as the extremely funny, charismatic, CNU celebrity from my friend’s church. I remember  you as one of those people who was really good at making others feel welcome if they were new to the church…or really anywhere. I remember seeing how big your heart clearly was as you openly prayed to end sex trafficking out in the Trible Plaza. I remember being blown away by your open and blunt testimony you told me at Brickhouse and how you had struggled with same-sex attraction, but, by God’s grace, you had repented.

I open this way, Kevin, because many times the “open letters” that I have read seemed to be from nobodies to somebodies and I always wondered if they actually knew the person they were addressing…if they had ever met face-to-face, looked into their eyes, and talked about the very things they were writing online. I am fully aware of the following on your blog and that I truly am a nobody writing to a somebody. I am fully aware of your personal journey since moving to Georgia, maybe not personally, but as I read every post you write to see how you are doing and see your social media updates (well, saw, before I was blocked).

I am not going to act as though I do not have any apprehension about writing this. In 2016, to say or write the things that I am about to write is going to be rejected.  With that being said, I am convicted and commanded to speak (or write) the truth, in love, regardless of the fear of being rejected (Ephesians 4:14-15).

That being said, I am fully aware of the following you have on your blog and how that following seems to grow daily. This blog post isn’t just a matter of opinions or styles of worship. This is a matter of truth versus non-truth. This is a matter of adding to scripture or taking away from it. We see the seriousness of this post in several passages of scripture:

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 1:9-11)

“I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

But, probably one of the scariest passages is found in 1 John:

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)

Kevin, I am not writing this because I think we have a petty disagreement. I am writing this because I believe you are not only distorting the words of scripture, but also leading others astray. And, what is worst is that you do all of this claiming the name of Jesus.

This all goes back to your post here where you shared the testimony of how things in your life were changing. Although many things in that blog struck me, this quote in particular stuck out to me:

I knew what that meant in my spirit. I knew what God was telling me in that moment. I felt like that was the word was calling me to step into. Brave. Be brave my son. Go, and know that I am with you. But I couldn’t. If I did what God was asking of me in that moment, I stood to lose everyone I loved, to be shunned and pushed aside. But you won’t ever lose me.

That day was the starting point of accepting what God was doing in me, finally bringing a great work to completion, a solidity to my identity in Him. It looked nothing like what I was told it would be, and was more than I could have dreamed for.

Today, I stood on my back porch, the coolness of late summer around me, and tears brimming at my eyes. This was it. This was going to change everything. I began the small trek from my back porch to the small peninsula outside my house knowing that with each step, I was coming closer to the unknown, and knowing that this would bring me closer to God.

Now, I believe in my heart that what you heard and wrote about on that day was not the voice of God. I say this bluntly because what you said you heard from God was in complete contradiction to scripture. So, this leaves us with some options I want to discuss:

  • God still speaks to us outside/in addition to scripture.
  • God only speaks to us through scripture

If the first option is true, then we must ask ourselves a very important question. If God speaks to us outside of scripture, does He do so in ways that contradict His holy scripture?  I would hope you would answer that question with a resounding “No!” However, everything I see on your blog these days proclaims the opposite, which is what forces you and people like Matthew Vines to declare that what Orthodox Christianity and the earliest of Church fathers have always said concerning the Bible and homosexuality is wrong. When you say, “In my quiet time, God told me this,”  we must remember that that is all subjective and we must still compare that “still small voice” with the scripture.

Luke 9:23 says “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”

Now, I know that you believe that your cross is dealing with the burden of the “conservative church” disagreeing with your sexual orientation. However, it has to be said that if you are saying that the Holy Spirit told you one thing that scripture clearly opposes, then what is left? Is it some kind of unique spiritual experience where God begins to contradict his teaching? OR is that voice really you attempting to validate a sinful desire that you have?

Going back to our original discussion, the second option is that God only speaks to us through His scripture. This one is pretty obvious and is the one that I subscribe to. I believe that God has spoken to us through Scripture and through Scripture alone. As John Owen once said,

“If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless; and if they disagree, they are false.”

I believe, based on your blogs, that you would strongly oppose this idea. Again, this leads to a dangerous and slippery slope. If God continues to reveal truth to us outside of scripture, there is no way to determine what truth really is. If we lose the objective truth from scripture, then we are left with the inability to determine right from wrong. You are no longer able to tell me that my Orthodox views are incorrect and I am no longer able to say that about your Revisionist views. This, of course, contradicts the idea that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture is sufficient. It is where we find the Gospel and it is where we learn about the very character and nature of God. It is where we learn that not only is God perfect, Holy, and All-powerful, but God does not change along with changing cultures. His word shall stand forever.

Like you have said previously in your posts, it is very difficult to compile everything into an easy-to-read blog post. So, I will leave you with this. I wrote this very public response to your very public writings. I believe that none of your personal experiences or feelings in any of your posts sufficiently or adaquately give cause to view the clear teachings of scripture any differently than the church has for over 2,000 years.

I know that you are aware of the passages on homosexuality that are debated frequently. For those who aren’t, they are here: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-28

So I pray, earnestly and humbly, that this post may open a dialogue between people I consider two friends, maybe not close, but close enough to where I am not writing to some faceless internet blogger. I pray that the word of God would reign true and supreme in both of our lives and that our feelings and our attitudes would give way to the fruitful truth of God’s word. And, I pray that, above all else, this exchange would glorify the all-powerful and loving God in heaven. When I think of the absolute beauty that is at stake here, I am reminded of this passage from Ephesians 1:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10)

This is what can be said of those who have repented and believed in the saving work of Jesus Christ…not a false promise that the world and society offers and, definitely, not a promise that forces us to distort the very words that also give us the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Instead, we have the promise of a savior whose grace is strong enough to help us overcome even our darkest sins. That is a promise worth fighting for, losing followers over, and dying for.

Does it Really Matter?

 

megaphone_by_sidvicious08I recently came back from the 2016 National Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida and, let me tell you, it was amazing! It was truly one of the most powerful things that I have ever been a part of. It was encouraging, moving, and downright beautiful. If you haven’t been before, make sure you check it out! The way that the Word of God was preached and taught was exceptional. It was powerful, and, most importantly, it wasn’t compromised.

What I mean is, there was nothing emotionally confusing or manipulative about this conference, which was a refreshing change compared to what I have experienced over the course of my Christian life.

One of the most impactful sermons happened on Saturday, the final day of the conference. It was when Dr. R.C. Sproul spoke on the subject, “The Transforming Power of The Gospel.” It had a tremendous effect on me and is the reason I am writing this blog.

You see, all throughout the conference we were learning about and studying the depth of the gospel. And, as we were learning, Dr. Sproul hit us with this statement: “In every generation, there are those who are simply not satisfied with God’s gospel.

The part of this quote that hit me the most was when he said “God’s gospel” (see Romans 1:1). It’s not yours, or mine, or our pastors. It belongs to God…which means that the gospel we read and study in the scriptures is given exactly as God intended and does not need to be added or subtracted to. That was Sproul’s point. It’s not ours to “mess with” and yet we act as if it is.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this.

“Does my church or pastor seem to manipulate people into “believing” in Jesus?”

You might not be sure what the answer is, so here are a couple of common examples to help you decide. If your pastor/church has some beautiful music playing in the background while he gives a riveting speech about how “God has a plan for your life” and how you just need to repeat a sentence after him to accept Him, your pastor/church is manipulating people.  In fact, telling people that the gospel is simply God having a plan for their life and that all they need to do is raise their hands or say a prayer isn’t just manipulation, it’s lying. The music in the background helps to manipulate an emotional response that often leads people to think they feel God moving, but, really, they are just responding to an emotional appeal. Trust me, I know.

We see all kinds of clever tactics to try and make the gospel easier to handle, swallow, or accept. We compromise on things like sexuality in the name of “love.” We compromise on all kinds of things because having someone in that seat on Sunday is so important…even more important than being faithful to God’s Word. This is a compromise because the gospel is a call to repentance, yet churches and pastors will refrain from preaching the truth in order to be “nice” and politically “correct.” We compromise because relevance is a not-so-blasphemous way of saying that God’s gospel isn’t good enough or powerful enough. Because like R.C. says, “[Too many people] don’t think that the gospel works.” 

So how powerful is God’s gospel?  Paul teaches us the power of the Gospel as he says:

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

So I encourage you, brothers and sisters, do not be fooled. The gospel isn’t that God has a wonderful plan for your life. It isn’t that Jesus wants to be your homeboy. It isn’t merely a seasoning to add on to the main course of your life. The gospel is this: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised on the third day and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. These are pure objective facts that must be believed if you proclaim to be a Christian. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

Mark Dever puts it beautifully:

 “Here’s what I understand the good news to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God. Now that’s good news.”

The gospel alone is powerful enough to save, but we must be faithful.

So, lets go!  Let’s make disciples of men and stop acting like our relevance and presentations of the Word are more powerful than the pure gospel of Jesus.

Facebook: Where Life Change Happens…

I have a fairly blunt personality.

If you know me at all, then you did not need me to admit that to know it to be true.  Sometimes, my blunt personality gets me into trouble.  I tend to say things that come off as abrasive even when I have good intentions. That’s my problem and I, obviously, need to work on it.

Recently, my pastor friend, Rob, and I have been talking about ways in which we can impact the culture for Christ.  The answer for me in the past has been through the use of Facebook posts…tons of Facebook posts about my views on the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage, Planned Parenthood, and, of course Kim Davis (If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’ve obviously been living under a rock…no offense).

These are things that I am passionate about…things that have deeply stirred my convictions.  Now, all of that is fine and dandy, but, as Rob pointed out, I have missed something.

What am I offering the world in exchange?  What kind of picture am I painting?

I mean, yeah – I hate abortion, but what are the alternatives and how do Christians play a part?  I believe that God has designed sexuality and marriage in a specific way, but how am I displaying that?  How am I showing God’s loving, beautiful, and perfect design in my own life?

Short answer: I am not.

Well, shoot.

Rob and I first spoke about this a while back.  Since then, I have been sitting, thinking, praying, reading, praying more, thinking more…all the while still posting on Facebook.

Then it hit me.  Truth is important.  It’s the foundation we lay our lives on and Jesus is our ultimate reality and treasure…but, I don’t show that.  Instead, I make polarizing posts on Facebook.

Jesus convicted people.  He called them to repentance.  He showed them the example that they were to live by.

But He also loved them!  He loved the woman who was almost stoned to death because she was caught in the act of adultery.  He loved the woman at the well who had had 5 husbands.  He loved the rich man who refused to give up his riches to follow Jesus.  And THEN He called them to obedience.  THEN He demanded action.  But, FIRST, He showed them love, grace, and mercy.

So where is the grace in my speech? Does my Facebook properly represent Jesus and His grace?

Don’t get me wrong, I stand behind my opinions on these subjects, but am I simply being a noisy gong?

Or am I resembling the Love of Jesus in every facet of my life? 

The answer is… I’m working on it.

I seek to be filled with the Love of God, and, for that love to in turn fill my words and actions, on- and off-line.  I offer this blog to anyone who knows me as a means to hold me accountable in this pursuit.  But, I also want to offer this blog as a challenge to you, the reader.  May this blog inspire thought for all of us, conservative and progressive alike…

What are your posts, comments, and attitudes reflecting? Are your posts bringing anyone closer to Jesus?

May we have the grace to be bold and humble in our conversations, and may Christ’s love fill us until we are overflowing.

Imagine what would happen if we went from Facebook wars to coffee shop chats…to welcoming people into our living rooms…to eating with people who didn’t agree with us…to praying for those who we feel are not seeing the truth of God’s plan and design for their lives?

Imagine if we loved like Jesus, while not caving to the culture or hiding behind phrases like “It’s not my place” or “That’s between them and God.”

Jesus changed the world by pouring into 12 men.

Imagine what you could do.

What Your Students Learned At Camp And Why That Matters To You

This past week my church took a group of middle and high school girls and guys on a trip to Anderson, South Carolina for Crossroads Summer camp.

To say the experience was amazing is an understatement.

This year, the theme of camp was “Stronger” and it was all about finding strength in Jesus.

Now, that might sound easy or corny, but let me tell you, I believe that both the students and the leaders were not expecting the impact that this week was going to have on their lives. I have been to Crossroads as a chaperone before, but this was one of the best weeks of my life.

Enough about me. Let’s chat about your students.

Your students learned about what it means to own their weaknesses.

They learned what it means to be “not okay” and how, somehow, that IS okay.

They learned to become small so that God can be big.

They learned to cry, lean on, and worship God with each other.

I saw some of the youngest students in our group raise both hands high during worship in complete surrender to their God.

I saw kids surrender their lives to Jesus for the first time.

I saw kids open up about things that no student should have to deal with.

I saw strength. Not because they are simply “making it” through their problems, but because God is big and they believe that.

I saw staff members engage with our students and not in the fake obligatory way. It was authentic.

I saw students fill a blackboard with what they learned throughout the week and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.

We learned to not blame God for “dad leaving,” “that negative test result,” “that divorce,” etc.

We learned that, just like Paul was made strong in his weakness, we too can persevere because of who God is, not because of ourselves.

I saw high school students look after and invite middle school students into friendships.

I saw leaders.

I saw Love.

Why does this matter to you?

Because this does not end after the 8 hour drive back to the 757.

Because we can’t do this without you.

The conversations we had are still needed outside of camp. Parents have the ability to either partner with or hinder what God is doing in their kid’s life.

You can also learn from them! Some of the insights meant for students this week, wrecked me.

Because they need to be listened to and they need to process what this week was about.

Do not waste it. Do not wait for next year or until they are 18.

I experienced God like I have never experienced Him before.

Thank you for trusting us with your students. It truly was one of the best weeks of my life.

This week made going off to school one of the most difficult decisions of my life.

I love our students. I love the parents. I love my fellow volunteers.

I am so thankful for the leadership that God has placed over them and I know that when God brings me back to Next Level, I will be rejoining an amazing student ministry.

A little bit older. A little bit wiser, but still, never unable to learn from these wonderful little hearts that God has given our church.

I will miss you guys so much.

But, like I have said before and will say again…

This isn’t goodbye. It’s see you soon.

Stop Saying You Are Sorry.

Not too long ago I was given the chance to visit Colorado for a week for a ministry called “Operation Restored Warrior.”  It was an incredible and life-changing journey and I learned a lot.  But, one thing that stuck with me was what one of the directors said to me.  His name is Chris Fields and he is an incredible man, a combat veteran; a guy who held me in his arms while I sobbed…What?!

That week was emotional, don’t judge.

Anyways, Chris taught me something so simple that it didn’t even make sense at first.

“Scott, stop saying you are sorry.  Start asking for forgiveness.”

Wait, what? Isn’t that the same thing?

Wrong. You see, saying that you are sorry is a lot like asking people at church how they are doing.  It’s just a formality.  We don’t often mean it.

Be honest.  The last time that you said you were sorry I bet that what you really meant was, “This is standard protocol for me screwing up” or “I am really just sorry that I was caught” (that one is my go-to).

Most of the time, when we say “I’m sorry” we are really just doing it for ourselves.  We are doing it to make ourselves feel better and to hear that person say, “I forgive you.”

It’s not because we long for reconciliation; we just want to sleep better at night.

On the other hand, when we ask for forgiveness, we are taking the power and giving it to those we have wronged.  We are humbling ourselves and saying, “I wronged you and I hurt you.  Will you forgive me?”

It’s not just about saying the words, though.  If it were, “I am sorry” would be perfect.  But, it’s about the placement of our heart and it’s about putting others above your own ego and pride…Period.

You give them the choice, and, better than that, you show them that how they feel and what they say matters.

Recently, I sat down with an old friend for coffee…someone whom I had hurt time and time again.  She was one of my best friends and had tried to help me through a dark and sinful time in my life, but I wouldn’t listen (well I pretended to).  I would lie and continue to screw up, over and over again, pushing her away and breaking her trust.

I sat across from her at a Starbucks and asked her to forgive me and she said “of course.”

Do not misunderstand me.  It will not always be that easy.  And many days and nights passed before I mustered up the courage to even text Monica.  So, maybe that’s where you are at right now.  Maybe there is someone you need to look in the eyes and admit to that you screwed up.  You need to ask them how that made them feel.  You need to ask them for their forgiveness and be prepared for them to say no.  That is okay.  It will sting and it will hurt.  But it is okay.  

Sometimes, they’ll refuse to even meet with you.  There are people in my life with whom I have tried to meet with and they just don’t seem ready or into it.  That is okay; they have that right.  Give it time, pray, and do not give up.

There are some people with whom I have not yet found the strength to talk to.  People whom I know that I will one day need to look in the eyes and beg for forgiveness.  And I bet some of you are there too.  Stay strong and pray that God would give you that lion’s heart.  Give that person or people the honor of having a say in your forgiveness.

Ultimately, your eternal destiny was decided by God; but, here on earth, we are called to repent, seek forgiveness, and ask for reconciliation.  So, call them, text them, email them.  Whatever it takes, do not let another day go by without trying.

You could literally be one conversation away from rebuilding a friendship that would have otherwise died.

So, don’t give up.  Humble yourself and ask for forgiveness.  And, stop saying you’re sorry.

Silence.

I am writing this on Sunday evening, Father’s Day.

Today is mostly a bitter day for me.  For 22 years, I have watched people around me celebrate Father’s Day while I do not. Year after year it is just as awkward, uncomfortable, and painful, and that is okay.  I do not think it has to ever not be okay.

But that’s not what I am writing about today.  What I want to discuss is far more important than that.

I think that there are plenty of times to keep your mouth shut.  And I think that there are plenty of times to sit back and understand that silence is the best route. It’s okay to be silent about my dad, but this is one of those times  when we need to speak up.

You see, I think that we have lost sight of something, or worse, turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to a continuous problem in our country.  Today, at the three services at my church, we mourned for the loss of lives.  We honored the victims and we prayed for the families that have to endure the pain because Dylann Roof entered a church and killed 9 people due to the color of their skin.

Because of the color of their skin.  Let that sink in.  Do not turn away.  Do not roll your eyes.  The color of their skin…

We need to face the racist elephant in the room.  Our country is one of the most hated countries in the entire world. There are people who want you and me dead.  Killed on live television, dead.  And, yet, we aren’t even safe from each other.

I see the news feed posts from both sides of this.  And I see ignorance from both sides.

But, what I see that haunts me the most is denial.  White people who deny that racism today is an issue.  White people who think that every black man or woman who speaks up is too concerned with the past or just looking to cause division.

WAKE UP.  The division is there.  You living in fantasy-land is not going to solve the problem.

You living in denial is not going to get us anywhere.

We must do something now.  We must stand side-by-side with our brothers and sisters of every race to see this injustice end.  How many times are you going to watch this happen before it clicks? How many times are you going to feel comfortable saying, “He should have just obeyed the cop”?

How many more times?

We do not get it.  And how can we?  How can we even begin to fathom the pain and anger that these men and women hold when we act as though it is not there.  The last time I checked, a disease does not go away just because you pretend it does not exist.

We need to actively seek this sickness out.  We need to actively speak out against racism.  We need to work for unity…for progress.

We need to speak when it’s time to speak, and listen when it’s time to listen.

Satan has us fighting a proxy war…and it’s black and white.

#BlackLivesMatter is not just a trendy hash-tag to jump onboard.  These are real people.  Black men whom I respect dearly are hurting and angry and I have NO IDEA how to even begin to relate.  But I can hurt with them.  We can hurt with them, pray with them, and begin a conversation together on how it ends.

The first step is to admit that there is a problem.

I am not willing to watch another 9 people lose their lives in order for us to wake up.

I am not willing to be a part of a community that worships a loving God and yet does and says nothing.

This is not just a church problem, but we, who seek to bring God’s kingdom to earth, must understand that racism has no place in holiness.

We are all descendants of the first parents.  We are all family.  And we must all work together.  Because if we continue to act as though this is not real life, we will destroy each other.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)

The Unforgiving Christians

I suck at being a gossip sometimes and, my hunch is, so do you.

We live in a social-media-induced coma where we think that we can say whatever the crap we want and expect things to be fireworks and butterflies, but the reality is, that is not true. Have you ever watched “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”? Yeah, no one is immune from this world of gossip. Not even the Hollywood elite.

So, what about the Church? We are totally a light in this gossip darkness, right? Someone?!

Wrong. In fact, I would say we are just as bad, if not worse. Why? Because we know better.

Recently, I found out that a leader at one of my old churches, a man who I thought was my friend, had said that my life was a train wreck waiting to happen…What?! I am not sure if this is true, but if it is the implications are huge! This kind of stuff is coming from the very leaders who are supposed to set the example for the rest of us. But listen, we are ALL guilty of this.

Walk into any church, prayer meeting, small group, or coffee chat and I can guarantee someone is talking smack about their pastor, their pastor’s wife, the director of this, that volunteer, this girl or that guy…and their pets. I guarantee that the last time you raised your hands in worship during your church’s rendition of Forever by Bethel you were probably thinking about how much so and so is pissing you off. It is an epidemic.

I suck at this. I find myself getting angry at other people, or hurt, and I go to a single confidant…or five. It is a miserable and spiraling mess.

And what happens when the other person finds out that you have been running your yaps? Do they feel compelled to thank you for calling them on their crap via everyone but them? No. It crushes them. They might not admit it, but it crushes them. I had people from an old church of mine talk about me all the time. And I wanted to run away from church for good! It crushed me.

Now, here is where I will give credit when credit is due…I was living like a moron and I needed a wake up call. Big time! But there is a difference between talking TO someone and talking ABOUT someone. Being a coward is not any better than the guy or gal you are talking about. Read Matthew 18 if you do not believe me.

Christians today will use Facebook, text messaging, and even blogs like this as their evidence against someone. Mark Driscoll, the former Lead Pastor at Mars Hill Church, was destroyed all over the internet. Whenever I heard someone talk about it, their evidence was always “Well I read this or that on Facebook,” “His church did this…he did that….according to this Christian version of Esquire Magazine.” No one I know was at that church or spoke directly to anyone involved. No. One.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

What in the world are we doing here?

Imagine that I brought you into court and began charging you with a crime and you found out that I got all of my evidence from Betsy in the church lobby on Sunday. You would lose your mind. But this is exactly the criteria it takes to outcast any Christian today. If you heard it during a prayer request, it must be true.

Here is a word of advice, my friends. If you are not willing to go to that person directly, then SHUT UP.

No one is going to feel the need to repent because you were so loving and so kind that you had to tell everyone about their screw ups. No one is going to say “Well, I mean, everything you are spreading about me is true, so yeah, thanks!” I know this personally from both sides. And, look, I am not using that cliche line “who am I to judge” or “It’s God’s job to judge, not mine.”

That is not what I am saying, people. We are 100% meant to keep each other accountable and on track.

Not by talking to everyone, but to the person involved. Talk to them. It sucks and it is awkward, but Jesus commands us to do it this way. Matthew 18, my friends; it might save your relationships.

We need to realize that condemning each other over hearsay is going to continue to create cliques and issues within the church and one of the biggest comments I hear about any church is always about the cliques. And it is no wonder. Everyone is talking about each other. Everyone is mad at each other for things that happened days, months, years ago. We go into our worship services and thank God for forgiveness all while withholding it from all the people who have pissed us off.

I cannot help but be reminded of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

This man owed his king a lot of money, ten thousand talents to be exact. The king was about to sell the servant with his wife, kid, and all that they owned. The servant begged for pity and the king did not just give him extra time, but he completely forgave him of his debt.

Now this story can give you all of the warm fuzzies, but it does not end there. The now forgiven and debt-free servant goes out and sees another servant who owes him 100 danarii and he begins to choke this guy. The guy being choked says “have patience with me, and I will pay you” but the servant refuses and throws him into jail until he can repay the debt.

Do you see what is wrong with us today? We are Christians, saved by the grace of God..the Holy and perfect God who has every right to destroy us where we stand or to banish us to an eternal torment. But He chose to die for us so that we can live with Him for eternity. The undeserving and wretched sinners that we are. And yet a few months later, a few Bible chapters read, and some time volunteering under our belt, and we forget what it was like to ask God to have mercy on us. Sinners.

We are debt-free servants choking the life out of our fellow servants, one foot-in-mouth at a time.

Imagine what it would be like if everyone acted as if we are all worthless sinners who are saved by the grace of God alone.

It is almost like that is exactly what we are.

It is time we mustered up the courage to face people directly and call them to repentance. Stop hiding. Face them directly. Grab coffee. Grab food. Whatever you need to do. Just do it.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)