The Messenger Matters

Week 3

Shannon Lovelady
May 20, 2017

I was weak because my flesh was strong and I had to learn how to daily crucify self so that Christ could live. It wasn’t until I did that, that I understood that I really could be free from pornography... I’m empowered by His Spirit and He didn’t leave me here to do life alone.
— Shannon Lovelady

If you've been here with us the last couple of weeks, you know that we've been camping out in 2 Corinthians 5. So turn in your Bibles, open up your phones, or however you do that. Get your pens, paper, all that good stuff out. Hopefully, we’ve got some practical notes for you to take today. The first week we talked about that what we do matters. We talked about how Paul was talking to the church at Corinth and said, “There’s this tension going on between us as Christians.” Then the bottom line was that we long for eternity. We long for perfection. Can I get an amen here? We long for pain to go away, for suffering to go away and to be in the presence of God the way it was intended to be. But, at the same time while we're here on this side of eternity, we talked about how God says He's got work for us to do, and that the work we do matters. 

Then last week, we talked about the heart of the work that we do, the motivation behind what we do. Ultimately, what we talked about is that this is the gospel. Last week we learned that the why behind what we do isn't so that we can earn our way into God's graces. Why we do what we do is because of God's grace and His mercy. Paul says in many of his letters that once we understand the Gospel, we know that we are all broken. We have all tried to be gods of our own kingdom. We desperately need a Savior, and God loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus, to die on the cross and not only die, but to rise again from the dead so that we could have life and we could have it to the full. The Gospel is so much more than about what happens after we die. 

The Gospel says Jesus came so that we could have life more abundantly this side of eternity as well. Once we understand this grace that we've been given, this underserved, unmerited favor that God has poured out on us our only logical response, Paul says, is to offer our bodies a living sacrifice. We will say, “God, I'm yours. I'm your vessel. Use me as you want.” So, ultimately the heart behind what we do is what matters. It's not as much what we do, but the motivation behind what we do. Today we're actually going to talk about how God cares about us as individuals. He cares about me. He cares about you and He cares about our transformation. Can I get an amen for that? 

We are all about transformation in America. The reality is that a lot of us don't like the work that comes with transformation. You know what I'm talking about.. “Welcome to America.” We want to lose weight, but we want to take a pill to do it. Right? Come on now. Don't judge me. You know, we're like that. We want to get in shape, but we want the quick fix and not the Ab Roller or whatever it takes. You don't look like that just overnight. You’ve got to work hard at it. It takes a lot of hard work to be transformed. As Christians, a lot of times, we don't like the hard work. But God says that we can be sure of one thing, that in this world we're going to have trouble, but to take heart, He’s overcome the world. 

Those are Jesus's words. He's in the business of transforming us and making us new. We are not promised an easy life, but what we are promised is peace, joy, comfort and all the fruits of the spirit. in the midst of this life. We were promised that if we continue to surrender our lives to Him and to lean on Him, that He will show us where our worth comes from, where our value comes from, where our significance comes from, and that changes everything. So we're in the business of transformation. 

Honestly, that's a hard one for me because I'm not a patient person at all. I remember when I was a kid I used to  get the caterpillars outside off the trees, put them in a jar, and poke holes in the jar.  Anybody ever do that? Hey, you kids, there's this world called outside and there are real caterpillars and real butterflies. They're not just on video games. It's amazing. We used to go out there and collect and put them in jars. We put the leaves and sticks in the jar. So after you had done this, you poked a hole in the top of the Mason Jar and watched it build a cocoon. The reality, and I was thinking about this last week, is that I literally never once saw that caterpillar transformed into a butterfly because I wasn't patient enough. I saw cocoons built a lot, but generally speaking, I wouldn't be patient enough and we'd wind up throwing it out into the woods at some point. It would transform on its own without me getting the benefit of seeing that. My hope for us today is that we'll understand this transformation process and that it's tough work, but that God's doing a work in us and He promises He'll be faithful to complete it. 

I'm going to pray and then we're going to get in 2 Corinthians 5. 

God, thank you for Your word. I thank you that your Word is alive, it's active, and that it is sharper than a two edged sword. God, we pray that You would just do work in us today. By Your Spirit, that yYou would convict, or You would encourage, or You would draw us to You, God. Whatever it is that needs to take place in here today in our hearts, God, we just offer our hearts up to You. We surrender our hearts to You just now. I know that there are a lot of things going on. A lot of us are experiencing joyful times right now. A lot of us are experiencing painful times, so God, wherever we are, I pray that we would see You in the midst of that. God, help us be able to understand who we are in You during these times. God specifically over these next few minutes together, I pray that you would just speak to us through Your Word. God, that you would get me out of the way. My words are useless without your Spirit. God, I pray that You would just speak through me now in Jesus' name. Amen.

Corinthians 5:16 is where we're going to be. We're actually just going to look at three verses and I'm going to read those quickly to you and then we'll go back and try to break them down a little bit.  Starting in 2 Corinthians 5: 16, Paul says, “So we've stopped evaluating ourselves from a human point of view and one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.”

Now let's go back to verse 16. He says, “So we stopped evaluating ourselves from a human point of view.” How many of your versions say, “therefore,” anybody? Okay, now help me out. Impress me. Students? Here we go. Whenever you see, “therefore,” what do you have to ask? What's “therefore?” Alright, we’ve got to ask, what's the “therefore,” there for, and, of course, we're going to go back to see. Paul does this over and over again, and it’s what I’ve just talked about, the Gospel. Paul says, “Listen, now you understand the Gospel, now you understand who you are in Christ and that there's work for us to do, then that work only comes from the work that God has done in our hearts as he's transforming us. Now that you understand that, therefore,” (in my version,) he continues, “we've stopped evaluating ourselves from a human point of view.” 

I don't know about you guys, but I say, thank you, Jesus, because the Gospel teaches us that in Christ we are all on the same playing field. Can I get an amen? In Christ? We are all on the same playing field. That means there is neither black or white. Scripture says, there's neither male nor female in Christ. There is neither slave nor Greek nor Jew. We are all on the same playing field and that is simply what the scripture teaches us in Romans. Paul talks about it specifically in Romans 8 and Romans 5. Can you flip to that, please? Romans 5, Paul talks about this word called justification, and he says, “Therefore, since we've been made right in God's sight, by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ, our Lord has done for us.” Let me read that one more time. “Therefore, since we've been made right in God's sight, by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ, our Lord has done for us.” We're made right. How many versions say justified, anybody? That's simply what that means.

What I love about the NLT, the version that I preach from, is that the NLT takes these big church words and it breaks them down into words that I can understand. So to be justified simply means to be made right. Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’ve been made right.” Turn to him and tell them you're righteous. Here we go. 

 That's what to be justified means and you need to understand that when by faith, because of God's grace, when we receive God's grace by faith, we were immediately made right. We were immediately justified. We're immediately on the same playing field and scripture teaches that when I receive God's grace, I became the righteousness of God. That means legally speaking, when God looks at me, you need to understand this crystal clear that when God looks at me, he does not see my flaws. Can we get an amen? He sees Jesus Christ. My identity is no longer me, but Jesus Christ, which means that we are all on the same playing field. You're going to say, “You don't understand, man, I am not right. I am not.” You are right in your flesh, but you need to understand positionally, in an instant, the moment you receive salvation, we're made righteous.

You are made righteous and that is the most freeing thing on the planet as a child of God. To understand, not by anything that I've done, but by God's grace and God's grace alone that I've been made right in my identity in Christ. Turn to your friends and say, “My identity is in. Christ.” Say it like you mean it. “My identity is in Christ.” That's who you are and we can walk in that confidence. We can walk in that boldness. Now, some of you guys are going now. “Why is it so stinking hard to walk that out? If my identity is in Christ, why do I not act like it?” You need to understand twenty-two years ago when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, in an instant, in an instant, my identity was Jesus Christ and I was made righteous in that instant! I was right with God and there was nothing on this planet that could change that. You need to understand that. That being said, I was still a porn addict. That being said, I was still an alcoholic. That being said, I still was angry, angry, angry, but God was beginning this transformation process. 

Romans also teaches about sanctification. That word sanctification is just another fancy word for being set apart, or being made holy. So, in an instant I was made right and in an instant I was made holy. God was in the process of transforming me, and who I am twenty-two years later doesn't even remotely resemble who I was twenty-two years ago My sin, my shortcomings, my failures, my addictions, none of that had anything to do with my identity. You need to understand this morning, that no matter what you did before you walked in this place or what you're going to do when you walk out of this place, if you have by faith, received God's grace, then you are righteous, and you are holy, and you are set apart, and you are chosen, and He's in the process of transforming you. He's transforming. 

So the question becomes, "okay, how do we do that then?" Because that process is difficult sometimes in marriages, anyone? Sometimes it's hard. I understand the truth, I see the truth, I understand up here who I am, but why does my life not look like it? So Paul goes on and he gets to this part in verse seventeen, and, and honestly I just want to camp out in verse seventeen for awhile. There's so much deep theological truth that we’ve got to understand just in verse seventeen. He breaks it down into four phases. In verse seventeen, he says, “So now that you understand that, that we don't look at each other from a human point of view anymore. We're now in Christ.” Verse seventeen, he continues, “This means anyone who belongs to Christ," or some of your versions say, “anyone who is in Christ.” So what does it mean to be in Christ? Write this down. First of all, it means you belong to Christ. It means that your life is no longer your own, and this is a part of the gospel that people don't want to teach. They want to teach raise your hand, pray a prayer, and that's it. No, the Gospel is that when I understand I desperately need a Savior, I lay down my rights and I say, “Jesus, my life is no longer my own. I belong to you. I'm yours now. Before, I was living in my kingdom. Before, I was living for what brought me pleasure. Before, I thought I was king of my castle, but my life is now yours. It's no longer my own.” 

Some of you this morning, honestly, you've been living a false gospel for a lot of years. You never surrendered your life to the Lord. You never said, “Lord, I can't do this anymore. My life is yours. I hand it to you.” It's not about perfection. Don't mishear me. It's about surrender and saying, “I'm surrendering my life to you. I don't want to be king of my castle anymore. I want to allow you to be king of my life.” I belong to Christ. To be in Christ says that I'm no longer my own. I'm His number two. It means that I'm empowered by Christ and this is the beauty of the Gospel. This is the beauty of our God. We don’t serve a God who says, “Here's my standard. Good luck with that.” We don't serve a God who says, “Here is how I desire for you to live. This is what a holy life looks like. This is what it looks like to be set apart. Now go do it. Good luck.” No, we serve a God who says, “You know what? You've surrendered to me. You have been crucified with Christ.” Galatians 2:20. “You have been crucified with Christ, Shannon, and now you no longer live but someone who lives in me.” Christ now lives in me and so now the life that I live, I no longer live on my own being, my own will power, by my own self. I live by His Spirit who empowers me. 

That's the gospel, Church, and so to be in Christ means that I'm empowered by Christ and I no longer have to try to quit lusting and doing things that I shouldn't be doing under my own strength, under my own power. Why? You guys need to understand Shannon and his strength, Shannon and his power, Shannon in the flesh. You need to hear me loud and clear, as a jerk, I am Shannon and the flesh is angry. I’ve gotta get my way. I got to always be right, dude. Some of you right now are going, “Man, there is no way. That can't be who you are.” No, you need to understand, that's who I am. I’m telling you, Shannon, in the spirit, Shannon's flesh was crucified and Christ is alive in me. It's changing me!

You guys have heard me share this before and I will boldly declare it. I mean, there was a day when I was trying to live in my flesh, but still in Christ's power. I was weak because my flesh was strong and I had to learn how to daily crucify self so that Christ could live. It wasn't until I did that, that I understood that I really could be free from pornography. I mean there was a day when I needed a brother in Christ to hold my hand, or I needed some computer software turned on, or I needed this or that or the other. But I'm telling you, I have been freed from that by the power of Jesus Christ. Period. There was a day when I always had to be right, and I'm telling you, Shannon and the flesh are selfish, but I'm not living in the flesh anymore. 

To be in Christ means that I'm empowered by Christ. I'm empowered by His Spirit and He didn't leave me here to do life alone. To be in Christ also means that because you are in Christ, guess what? Church, we belong to each other. We belong to each other. You have the same Spirit of Christ who lives in you that I have in me, and we belong to each other. I know some of you are like junk! Really? I just heard how jacked up you are. Yeah, we belong to each other. We're family. What affects you affects me and we're called to walkout this life together. It's not just about accountability. It’s not just about holding each other's hands. It's about the opportunity to grow in the gospel and understand this new life I've been given. That's why we belong to each other. Again, Shannon in the flesh. 

I had somebody ask me just a couple of weeks ago, “If you could live anywhere you wanted to live and you could do whatever you wanted to do, what would you do?” And I said, “Honestly, put my family aside. If my family wasn't involved, I would live on an island down in the Caribbean somewhere, not on an inhabited island, but a deserted island down in the Caribbean somewhere by myself. I would stink, have dreadlocks in my hair, and eat shrimp. That's what I would do.” And you would be saying, “ There was a guy named Shannon one time a long time ago that used to live in Carrollton, but whatever happened to him?”. You would never have a clue. But I need you to understand that because I understand the Gospel, that's not an option. Because I understand Christ and what he has done in me and how he is transforming me, I have to crucify that desire. Why? Because we belong to each other and it's in Christ where now Jesse and I are able to be brothers in Christ. It's in Christ where Jesse now learns to forgive when somebody doesn't deserve to be forgiven, and I’ve learned to forgive when somebody doesn't deserve to be forgiven. It's living in this community of believers because we belong to each other. It’s because I’ve learned how to be patient, and I’ve learned how to be kind. You guys have heard me say this before. I'm extremely patient and kind when I'm by myself. I'm very forgiving when nobody's around. But we need each other to grow in the Gospel. 

You guys that are in marriage, that's what your marriage is about. It is about glorifying God and as you learn how to treat each other and submit to one another and to forgive each other and to love each other, unconditionally, you grow more and more like Christ. That’s transformation and God uses us as brothers and sisters to do that. So in Christ we belong to each other. 

Then Paul goes on. There's a lot in this one verse. Paul goes on to say, “So anyone who belongs to Christ has become…” What? A new person. Some of your versions say a new creation. In other words, we have a new purpose, and again going back to what we just talked about, being in Christ, we now belong to each other. We also understand that this wasn't meant to be an individualistic thing. This new purpose, this new creation that we are, if you're in Christ, hear me, Church. Do you understand that now you get to be a part of God's redemption plan? From the beginning of time before you were ever knit together in your mother's womb, He knew the number of hairs on your head and not only did He know the number of hairs on your head and your name, but He said, “I'm going to allow you to be a part of my redemption story.” Now if I understand that I'm a new creation and I no longer live for myself and my life is no longer about my selfishness, my wants and my needs, andI have a much bigger purpose and it involves all of us  telling people the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news, and being a part of God's redemption plan, I’ve got to tell you, that's way more exciting to me than trying to quit watching porn or quit drinking! We can talk about all these sinful things all the time, but the reality is that's not what it's about. What it's about is understanding that because I'm in Christ, I've now been made new. I've now been made righteous and I'm now a part of His plan, His creation plan, because I'm a new creation. So Paul is trying to take our eyes off of ourselves and turn them to Jesus. Then he says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.” What's he say next? “The old life is gone. It's passed away.” In other words, the things that I used to love aren't attractive to me anymore. The things that I used to be drawn to, I'm not, I'm not drawn to the way that I once was. 

Again, I think I shared it a couple of weeks ago. That old hymn, right? “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” and what's the line “and the things of this world will grow…”  What? “Strangely dim.” Why? Are the things of this world ugly? No, no, no.. God's creation was good. His creation is beautiful, but the problem since the beginning of time is man wanting to worship creation instead of the creator. Those things that used to draw me in, those things that used to be attracted to me, the things that seem so good, at the end of the day they were gods and they were never meant to be worshiped. Those things have started to grow strangely dim. Why? Because God's angry at me? No. Why? Because I have to earn my way into God's salvation? His grace says, no. Those things grow strangely dim in the light of what, Church? His glory and His grace! I stand by what I said last week. God's grace changes everything. I believe that with all my heart. You cannot experience the glory of God and the grace of God and not be changed. Some things in your life have been immediate and some you're still working through. God's chiseling away and He”ll soften your heart. He's changing your heart. He's drawing you to Him and I find hope in that. 

Not to be crass, but the pornography thing… golly, I'm telling you, it had a hold on me. My life was ruining our marriage. I mean I was lust filled, but as I've grown and as I've been drawn to Christ and His glory and grace and I've understood His grace, I'm telling you, that has faded away and it is dead. It is gone and God has radically transformed me. I said this to somebody several weeks ago. You could parade naked women in front of me and all it would do is break my heart. Why? Because God's transformed my heart and the things that used to have a hold on my heart that were not of God no longer exist. Now they break my heart in the light of His glory and grace. They’ve faded. They’re gone. The beauty of that is it tells me that God is still working on me and He’s still going to change me. 

So, we get excited about City Station and we're only 33 days away and you know what I'm struggling with. Lack of sleep, getting sick because of the what ifs and the, Oh God, are you going to come through on this? God, yes, you know I'm not sure I'm adequate. God and failure and fear of man… and go down the list. Right? You need to understand it's sinful. I'm finding my worth in other things that I'm not supposed to find my worth in. The beauty of it is, God is slowly transforming me and He's drawing me back to Him and He's going, “No, Shannon, remember the gospel. Remember who you are. Remember who you are. You've been made righteous. You don't have to live for that. Remember who you are. I'm God and I'm God alone.” He's transforming.  

I hope that there will be a day. I know there will be a day when I'll stand on this stage and I'll be able to talk about my insecurities and leadership and who I used to be. I hope it's next week, to be honest. It might be next month. It might be a year from now. It might be five years from now, but I know God is radically transforming me and He's changing me. How do I know that? Because He's done it before in other aspects of my life and He’s doing it in your life. He's faithful. He's doing a good work in you and He promised He'll be faithful to complete it. 

Then He goes on to say that the old is gone, and what's begun? The new life, Church. This is the gospel. Our lives are no longer about us. It's so much bigger than us. Paul Tripp actually says, “Sin reduces our lives to the size of our lives.” I don't know about you, but that's a pretty depressing thought because I know my life and what this world is about, me being God in my kingdom. I know how that ends. But now I understand that I'm a new creation. The old me is dead and Christ is living in me and this new life has begun. I've got a new purpose and then He goes on to remind us in verse 18. He says, “Remember this church, all of this is a…”  What? It's a gift from God. It's a gift from God who brought us back to Himself through Christ, and God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. He's at work in every detail of your life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There's been two funerals that I know of this weekend, both very unexpected deaths and you need to understand that God's at work by transforming us in the highs and the lows and the good and the bad. He's doing a work in us in every detail of our lives and it's a process. The beauty of this process is that we can rest assured His gospel, His grace says we can rest assured that He is holding us in His hands and He's walking it out with us on this side of eternity. As He's walking it out, He's teaching us to find our hope in the one place we were only meant to find hope, and that's in Christ and Him crucified and now alive in us and nothing else. 

So how do we do that? I want to make this really practical right here at the end. It's one thing to get it up here inner head. I can understand that here. And I can go, I don't deserve it. I don't totally understand it, but thank you God that I'm declared righteous. Thank you, God that I'm declared holy. Thank you that I'm adopted. Thank you that I'm chosen. But sometimes I’m think but how do I walk that out? Anybody? How do I live that out? Why does life just seem to keep going sideways and not make sense? Why is this so difficult for me? 

I just want to share with you on a personal level really quickly how I do that or how I try to do that. Again, I want to tell you I am not perfect. I do not have it all figured out and I will not have it figured out this side of eternity, but God's grace is sufficient. I hope this is helpful for you. I'm just holding to what my daily life tries to look like so that I can remember who it is that I am, and how I’ve walked that out and allowed God to transform me. I've seen Him do it for twenty-two years, and He's continuing to shape me and transform me and my family. 

Hopefully this will help you. It starts like this. Number one, write this down. Number one, every day starts with surrender. Some of you are writing it now. I'll give you time. Go ahead. Every day starts with surrender. What's that look like? For me, I'm thankful that my kids are at a stage in life, well actually only one of them, that I don’t have to wake them up? And that's Micah. He doesn't have to wake up until 7:00. So for me, my day starts with surrender. At 6:00, my alarm goes off at 6:00. You want to know what I do when my alarm goes off at 6:00, I wake up and I go rise and shine and give God the glory. That's a lie. That's a bald face lie. That's not at all what I do. I'll tell you how my morning starts. My morning actually starts the night before when I'm going to bed and it starts like this. I take my phone and I set the alarm for 6:00 and then as we're laying there watching TV or doing whatever we're doing, I choose at some point to go, You’ve got to go to bed because 6:00 is coming. You need to hear me loud and clear. I'm not a morning person. I hate mornings. I know for some of you guys at 6:00, you're like “I do rise and shine and give God the glory.” I don't like you. But for me, 6:00 in the morning, for an alarm to go off is surrender. So very single night, even on the bad nights, even over the last couple of weeks as life is just hitting me sideways and I'm operating in the flesh, I have a choice to make when I go to bed to set the alarm for six or I can say, Ah, you know what man? You've had a tough day. You're tired, you're exhausted, you need your sleep. Set the alarm for seven. God's not going to be mad at you. And you're right. God won't be mad at me. But I'll miss out on the transformation that morning if I choose to not surrender my life. So I choose at night to say I'm surrendering my right to sleep until seven. 

It goes totally against what the world says. The world says that's stupid. You need your sleep. The world says that's stupid. You need your food. Why fast? I choose to surrender my right. But in the event I set my alarm for six and the alarm goes off, and I roll over, turn it off and go back to sleep, I have a backup alarm that wakes me at seven. Hopefully, I’ll choose to jump out of bed quickly because if I don't, you know what I'll do? I'll go back to sleep, and I’ll thank God for His grace. Seriously, more times than not, and I'm growing in this more times than not, I get up at six. I have my caffeine dose. I spend the first fifteen or twenty minutes, scrolling ESPN, seeing how the Braves did, scrolling Facebook, seeing how y'all did, just kidding. But it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes, and finally, the caffeine starts to open my eyes up and I can actually start to see what I'm reading. I put on my reading glasses. Now that's so embarrassing to say, but I'll put on my reading glasses so that I can see. One of these days, I'm going to have to put them on when on stage. 

But when I wake up, it’s an intentional act of surrender, period, end of discussion. Then I pray this prayer. Write this down. First of all, I surrender. Then I pray,Lord, search my heart. You have heard me say it before. Psalm 139: 23 - 24. It's David's prayer. He says, “Lord, search my heart. Show me any unclean ways.” I'll tell you, if you don't understand the Gospel, that's a terrifying prayer to pray. Does nobody want to be shown sin in their life? Nobody likes to be called out, but I'm telling you, the Gospel is the most freeing thing on the planet. When I understand that I'm saved by His grace and His grace alone, and He knows my failures, He knows my flaws, He knows my shortcomings, He knows my sin, He knows my addiction, He knows my heart, then the most freeing prayer I could ever possibly pray is, “Lord, search my heart. Search my heart, show me any unclean ways within me. Lord, lead me, lead me to righteousness.” Why? Because God wants good for me. He want me to experience Him this side of eternity as well. He want me to experience His peace,  His joy, His patience, His wisdom, His understanding, His faithfulness, not rely on my understanding and my circumstances. So I say, Search my heart by your Spirit that dwells within me. Again, I am in Christ by your Spirit that indwells with Him. Search my heart and by your Word, God.

Check it out with this. His word is alive. It's active. It's sharper than a two sword, and I'll tell you, left to my own understanding, you better believe I'm not going to get up at 6:00. Why? Because that's not healthy. You can make yourself sick. I can justify it all day long and that's my own understanding. No, I need to scream at my kids right now because they're being disobedient if left to my own. I mean go down the list, right. You don't need examples, and so I say,Lord, by our Spirit and by your Word, search my heart. 

The only way I can know his Word is to study. Search my heart, oh God. I study and I get in his Word. I’ve got a reading plan. If you want one, I'll give one to you. I've got a plan that I do and sometimes I'm great with it. Sometimes I'm not, but I’m becoming like Him, as I get in His Word. He's faithful as I pray, Lord, search my heart. I promise you ninety-nine point nine percent of the time as I read His Word, there's a verse or a section or maybe the entire passage that just speaks to me and goes wham! God’s Spirit will just rip my heart wide open and show me things that I had no idea I was even struggling with. He’ll reveal idols to me. He'll reveal my insecurities. He'll reveal my fishnets. He'll reveal these unclean ways with Him. Not because He's mad at me, He's already paid for that. Jesus paid that price. We talked about that last week. It’s because He wants good for me and He wants me to rest in Him. He wants me to understand what it means to walk in His grace and His mercy and His understanding. So I say, I surrender, Lord, search my heart. I study his Word and I say,Lord, show me. Show me how you want me to live this life. Then finally, when He shows me after studying His Word and searching my heart, I confess. I confess and say, Lord, wow, I was missing that. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for showing me. Thank you for loving me enough to show me where I'm walking in the flesh and not your Spirit.

Now repent. It's one thing to confess. It's a whole other thing to repent. Because repentance comes from godly sorrow. Paul teaches repentance comes when I understand, not that God's mad at me, but when I understand there was a price that had to be paid for me and that price was Jesus Christ. Repentance comes when my heart is broken because Jesus Christ took my selfishness on the cross. It drives me to my knees and I say, Lord, I'm so unworthyand I change. Sometimes it's easier than others. Sometimes that's harder than others, but I change and so I began to walk that out. Not only do I confess to God, but I desperately need people in my life to confess to. I've got a group of men in my life that, for the last two years, they've been praying like crazy for me because they understood that I've been like making myself sick, living in my insecurities as a leader. I've confessed that not only to God and not hidden it. I’ve repented to God. I’ve confessed and I’ve repented with my friends as well, and I’ve said, “Man, I desperately need you guys to help me walk this out. I'm struggling. It's so hard for me.” This past week I was meeting with them and actually the prayer request that they sent out to our little group was “Shannon Funk” was what it said, and I knew exactly what that meant. That I'm just living in the flesh right now and it's just driving me nuts. I’m your “Woe is me” scared about my leadership. So there, they're praying for me. They're building me up there, checking up on me. 

A friend sent me a text just yesterday and said, “Were you in the Word this morning?” I was like, “Yes ma'am. Thank you. You find in your worth where you're supposed to find your worth. Yes, ma'am. Thank you.” Some of you guys, you need to understand life groups and groups and elective classes. It's not about so we can check numbers and boxes and go, wow, look how many people are coming. That's not what it's all about. If this is the extent of your community as you come in here and sit in here on a Sunday morning, shaking hands and telling people what's your favorite smell is, then you're missing out seriously. I mean you are totally missing out. You were not meant to do life alone. We need each other to walk this out, and so I surrender daily. 

I pray daily. Lord, search my heart. God continues to show me unclean ways with Him. He changed me. Study His Word so that I can know truly who He is and how He wants me to walk this out. I confess and repent. You know what I do? After that, I do it again. Just write, repeat, because the second I get up from my little spot on the chair, I'm going to have an opportunity to surrender and say,Lord, search my heart. Why is Natasha making me so mad right now? Why is that bothering me so bad? God, what's going on in me right now? This isn't about her. What's going on in me? When I get to work? What's going on, God, search my heart. Search my heart, confess, repent, repeat. That's it and God will change you from the inside out. One day you'll look back and go, wow, remember who I was? Now I can hardly even remember that person anymore. I don't even resemble that person anymore. Our marriage looks nothing like that anymore. Isn't God's grace good? 

Some of you for the first time today need to experience His grace, and my prayer for you is that you will take that first step of surrender. If that's you, today, I would love to talk with you. There'll be other people over here who would love to talk with you and pray with you and say, “Let's take the next step and walk this out.” Some of you just need to be reminded of who you are in Christ today and that commitment of daily surrender to say, “Lord, here I am, transform me. Lord, change me. Continue to do a good work in me.” Let’s pray. God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for loving us. We don't deserve it. Jesus name. Amen.