Levi Lusko - Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
Obviously, Bigfork Montana is the place to be August 4th through the 7th. We are so excited for our movement conference. We are welcoming in student groups and youth groups from literally all across the United States to join our students for what we believe is going to be an important time of revival of God speaking to young people, of worship. And we just see this vision of thousands upon thousands of people filling that arena up, filling the valley up there with tents and camping and just encountering God. And we are so excited to be a part of it. So there are spaces for hundreds upon hundreds of impact team members who are saying, hey, I'm going to take those days off work and be there to do whatever needs to be done to facilitate a move of God. And it has been so cool having traction with churches, other churches.
Not every church can or has the calling to put on something like this. So to say, hey, can you bring your student ministry? Bring them in. We'll provide morning and evening sessions throughout the day. You can do your own version of what a Montana summer looks like. Go to the mountains, go to the rivers, go to the lakes, and then morning and night, just have these powerful times of worship, to hear messages from Tim Tebow and Demi Tebow and others we haven't yet announced. And then my wife and I'll be preaching. Our team will be leading out strong. And so my prayer is that, A, if you're a student, you would get signed up post haste. But then secondly, that if you would, please do keep this in your prayer. Be praying about it. Be thinking about it. And then do what I've been doing, what we've all been doing, evangelize this thing.
If you have friends around the country, hey, put a group together. Get them out here. I gave my life to Jesus at summer camp. There's something about that experience under the stars. There's something about that. But then the corporate worship, and just it gives me chills every time I think about the mission mountain range, and a psalm rising up, and young people discovering their worth, and their value, and their purpose, and meeting Jesus. Y'all, that's where I'm going to be August 4th through 7th. I hope y'all are going to be there as well. It's going to be awesome. But mvmnt2022.com, all the information for anybody listening or watching who would like to put a group together and come out or get your student registered or sign up to be an impact team member and help put that thing down, because it ain't going to put itself on. That's for dang sure.
All right, well, a couple of other things I want to put on your agenda. Starting with the fact that on April 24th, we kick off something called Rooted. Rooted is a brand new class, a brand new small group that's basically going to take your walking with Jesus and make it, I don't know, put nitroglycerine on it. Help you understand if you've made a decision for Christ. What it means to grow and move forward. What it means to wear the armor of God. What a spiritual battle looks like. Why praying is important and what does it mean to pray. How do you pray? As tangibly as why does a church matter? Can I just follow Jesus and then just go about my merry little way? Why would a church matter? Why would small groups matter? Why does generosity matter? That's all going to be in Rooted.
This is 10 weeks that will change your life, I guarantee it. And we want everyone in the church, no matter how long you've been saved, because doing something for a long time is no guarantee of progress in it. And we all need a refresher from time to time. Our staff, everybody, all of us were just raving about it. We did a pilot program with us together before we offered it too. Kind of like Nehemiah, the cupbearer, if we got sick, we weren't going to give you the cup. So it's awesome. We can certify it. USDA-approved awesome. Get signed up for Rooted. Your host will tell you how.
And then I wanted to throw this on your radar, the Sunday after Mother's Day, I'm going to kick off a brand new collection of messages that I'm calling Thank You, Next. Thank You, Next. We're going to be taking some of the most used and abused verses in the Bible and discovering the verses that come right before them and right after them. And we're going to try and figure out if any of the meaning changes when you study it in its natural habitat. right? So basically, I'm going to be picking on all those verses your grandma had crocheted on the wall in her house and trying to figure out what the next verse is or the verse before it that gives us any clues as to its actual meaning. I'm really excited for it. And I hope you'll come back. That's the Sunday after Mother's Day. But right now, I have a Bible study I've put together. So please grab your seats, your pens, your copy of the scriptures, your mobile device. Thank you so much, team.
If you do have your own Bible, Matthew 5 and Acts Chapter 5 is where we are going to be. I made a promise on Good Friday at the very end of my message. If you didn't make it out to one of our locations or to Church Online for Good Friday, my message was called It Had to be Done. And we asked the question, why the cross? Why couldn't God just say, I forgive you, I love you, and let that be that? Why this messy, gory, necessary step on the way to Easter? And we answered that question to the best of our ability in the message It Had to be Done. You can look to that on YouTube. But at the very end, I said that on Easter, I wanted to talk about how we can get our confidence back. And I really do believe this is a moment in history where God is trying to breathe confidence into his church, confidence that we can be confident as followers of Christ.
Not cocky. Don't mishear me. Confident. There's a difference. We don't need to be jittery. We don't need to be nervous. We don't need to be worried. We can have the calm confidence, shock absorbers on that God is in control and He is up to something. I believe that's a word for us today. And this message, in addition to the message I'm going to preach on Sunday, May 1, is my trying to be obedient to help facilitate that in our church, how to get our confidence back as we address the topic today head-on this Easter of shame. Let's talk about shame. The Goonies said, shame, shame, we know your name. And we want to talk about shame. Hey, you guys. You young people don't even know.
The title of my message is "Nothing to be Ashamed Of". Nothing to be Ashamed Of. Wouldn't that be nice? Nothing to be Ashamed Of. Matthew 5 and Acts 5. A little context before we jump in. Jesus died, was buried, spoiler alert, rose from the dead. That's good. And then he left, and he had told his disciples he was going to. And this dovetails with the last verse we quoted from on Good Friday. He said, it's to your advantage that I go, because if I go, I'll send you the spirit. And if you all, in your various places where you live, serve, do life, all get filled with my spirit, then it's not just twelve apostles who get their own personal Jesus, because every Christian will get Jesus in them. And then, he said, here's the quote, you will go on collectively to do greater things than I've done that you will do if you're filled up with my spirit sent out into the world. It's pretty awesome.
And of course, it's not just any one of us that would do greater things than Jesus. He's saying, all of you collectively will do greater things. And disciples were like, game on, let's go. So what do you want us to do? And he said, all right, here's what I want you to do, go to the whole world and tell them how awesome I am, and tell people they can have forgiveness. Tell people they can know me. Tell people they can be baptized and come out of that water believing all that sin gone, all that unrighteousness gone, because it was paid for by Christ. Teach them and command them everything I told you, and then tell them to go and do the same thing. This will become a global movement if you do that. And so he said, I want you to start out where you are. Any of us start out wanting to do that, start out where you are.
"Go into the whole world" doesn't just mean geographically. I'm thankful that as a ministry, we get to touch into war-torn Ukraine. I'm thankful we get to send our hard-earned dollars to help deliver food under the shadow of a former Nazi concentration camp oven. What are we talking about here? This is what we live for. Come on. To help the hurting, to alleviate suffering. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, friends. Our work in Afghanistan, and our work in the 10-40 window of Asia, our work in Israel. We are literally supporting church planning and missionaries being sent to Israel. The Bible says, you bless Israel, you bless the heart of God. We take that literally. We want to see churches open where people can continue to preach the gospel in Israel. So I believe geographically, we are to go to the whole world. But I also believe that includes the subsets of different parts of the world; the world of sports, the world of banking, the world of medicine, the world of education. Could God want you to reach into your corner of the world. Who, by occupation or shared interest, do you rub shoulders with? Who do you end up talking to?
I was on the top of the ski hill the other day, and I split boarded up and I bumped into this guy. We started to talk. We had shared interests because of a shared activity. He told me there were grizzly bears people had seen out there. I peed myself and then tried to find my bear spray. Where did I put it? Last October, right? There's people you bump into because of things you do, because of places that you go. So you start thinking, who could I show God's love to? Well, just ask yourself, where do I go and who do I have access to because of those things? Those are people that God wants you to show his love to. So that's what we're doing. And as they did that, they started to get persecuted, persecuted for righteousness sake. And Jesus said it would happen. I mean, Jesus, for his efforts, got killed. And he says, I want you to follow me, but just know if you follow the footsteps of someone who got killed for doing good, there's going to come hard days.
So we shine the light, that's hopefully what we're doing. We all do it imperfectly. In our classrooms, at our jobs, we all hopefully are shining the light. But Jesus said, darkness hates the light because light shows the darkness for what it is, evil. Example, movie ends. Because it's a Marvel movie, you stay around to the very end. And right after that 18th bonus scene or whatever it is, they finally turn the lights on. And then you look around and you go, let's get out of here because it's disgusting. For the last hour and a half, you've been cozied up to your environment thinking it's lovely, but now that the lights are on, oh, wait, it was the new Spider-Man. Four hours of this cozy environment. But now that the lights are on, you're like, ooh, it's filthy. The light showed the darkness for what it was, and that's what happens. We shine the light. Why do people lash out? You've changed. Holier than thou. Goody two shoes. Who do you think you are? Your bright light, even if it's done in a kind way, is exposing darkness, and so there will be persecution and opposition that comes.
So for the disciples, as Acts Chapter 5, we're making our way there now, Verse 12 says, through their hands, signs and wonders were done. People were healed. People were saved. Marriages restored among the people. And lots of people were getting saved, right? That's awesome. They were all in one accord in Solomon's Porch. What happens next is they get arrested. A bunch of the apostles get arrested by the same people that arrested Jesus. And they're in jail going like, what do we do now? And an angel breaks in. I don't have time to read all this to you. You should read the Bible sometime when you're not in church. It is amazing. An angel comes into their jail cell is like, what are you guys doing in here? I told you to preach. And they're like, we got arrested. He's like, well, come with me. And the angel brings them out, somehow sneaking Jesus, sneaks them out of prison with the door still locked. And they go back to the temple and start preaching, because the angel's like, keep preaching. He told you to preach. I don't want you in prison, keep preaching.
And they're like, uh, Jesus is awesome. And then the leaders come in in the morning, and they go, oh, let's get those apostles out of that jail cell. They send the guard to the jail. He goes to get them. There's still the warden standing out in front of their jail cell, only he's guarding an empty cell. It's hilarious. So they're like, we don't know where the people are. Just then, someone says, hey, didn't you arrest them? They're all out there preaching. They go, huh? Go arrest them again. Lacking in imagination, their only plan is to arrest them again. Verse 27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. This is the Jewish Sanhedrin, same leading body, ruling body that voted to have Jesus put to death, all except for two. We know two people who abstained from that vote, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph, by the way, loaned Jesus his grave. Pretty punk rock to borrow a grave. I could borrow $5. You could borrow your bro's truck. Generally, a casket is a long-term transaction, right?
You don't buy it thinking, I need to keep my receipt because I might need to exchange it later, right? Jesus is like, I just need it for the weekend. Is that cool? And the high priest asked them, saying, did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? Which name? The name that elicits a reaction. People don't mind you talking about some force. People don't mind you talking about the man upstairs or God generically, whoever He or She may be. But when you say the name "Jesus," that brings a response. That in the heavenlies and in the visible world, it elicits a response, and rightfully so. There is a reason that when people are in anguish or in pain, whether cursing or blessing, it is instinct to call out that name. I have never seen someone hit their thumb with a hammer and yell out, oh, Buddha. Oh, Muhammad, right? But it is human nature to cry out, and instinctively, the name flies out of your mouth. Jesus Christ. Why is it that name flies out? Somewhere deep down, we know there's something deep on that name.
And the Bible fills in when we're told, there is no name like the name of Jesus. It is the name that causes demons to tremble. It is the only name given by which men can be saved. And they said, we don't want you any more teaching in that name. And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you intend to bring this man's blood on us. What are you going to do with these people? It hasn't been two months since they literally were standing in front of Pilate saying, put Jesus to death. And he said, you want me to crucify Jesus, your king? They said, he's not our king. We want Caesar as our king. We want this man's blood on us and on our children, meaning they were saying to Pilate, many years from now, we will sit around the campfire, making s'mores, telling our kids, bragging to our kids about way back when we killed Jesus.
And now, with really short-term memory problems, they're going, you're intending, you're trying to make it sound like Jesus's blood is on our hands. But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, I'm sorry we have to obey God rather than man. We care more about what God thinks about us than what anybody thinks about us. Young people, that'll change your life if you care more about God's opinion than anybody else's. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him, God has exalted to his right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and, notice, forgiveness of sins. That's redemption. That's buying back from the death sentence what should be ours. He purchased it with his blood. So something was happening evil that man was doing. God was overriding it to accomplish his purposes. And we are his witnesses.
Underline that word, "witnesses" to these things. We didn't hear about it. It wasn't our 12th cousin twice removed, who said he knew a guy who looked like Jesus one time, so we figured he must have risen. And since he saw a shadow, we get, what, eight more weeks of spring? Or I don't know what groundhog saw this year, but holy crap, this spring. Go kill Punxsutawney Phil personally. If I see snow one more time, I'll tell you what. That's not in the Bible. I'm just ranting at the moment. And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. And when they heard this, they were furious, and, again, no creativity, they plotted to kill them. It's like their playbook. They have a big NFL coaches playbook with a big three-ring binder, and every page just says 187, murder, death, kill. Like, hmm, what should we do? Let's kill them. That worked so well with Jesus.
Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel. You can write down "Yoda" in your margin of your Bible above that because that's basically what he was. Saul of Tarsus was Han Solo. And this was essentially Yoda, a teacher of the law, held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. What's happening here? Your attention, please. Within the Sanhedrin, there was a respected voice named Gamaliel. Later, Saul will brag when preaching saying, I'm no outsider. I was in the thick of all the Pharisee business, OK? I was tutored by Gamaliel. And everyone would have gasped. Ooh, that's really important. That's very significant. Gamaliel says, time out, time out, time out, because he could tell they were about to do to the disciples what they had just done to Jesus. And he says, let's dismiss the apostles for a minute and talk amongst ourselves.
This is really good marriage advice or any kind of advice. When tempers flare, this is parenting advice, when things get hot, take a quick second. Take a lap. Take a beat. Gamaliel's basically trying to get them out of the lizard brain, which only knows fight, fright, flight, or fornicate. Those are the things. Like, when you're all bothered up, when it's all response, it's all crime of passion, it's all heat of the moment, it's all, I'm tempted right now. You don't make good decisions in those moments, which is why you almost always leave some super crazy altercation and think of the perfect comeback. Jerk store, right? You think of the perfect thing you should have said only moments too late. Why? Because you finally have throttled down back into your prefrontal cortex where good decisions are made. When you're all hot and bothered in your lizard brain, you don't make good choices. And Gamaliel could see the red in their eyes. He's like, OK, chill, let's just talk. Let's just talk for a second. The sun's getting real big guy.
That's what he's saying. And he said to them, Verse 35, men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. This is so good. I know you're like, why are you reading all this? Just watch. Some time ago, Theudas rose up. Anybody know Theudas? Evidently, they were all like, yeah, we remember Theudas. We were real worried about Theudas. We were super stressed about Theudas, who, what did he do? He claimed to be somebody. And a number of men, about 400, joined him. He was slain. And all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished. And what happened? The moment this man died, his movement dispersed. Everybody who was following Judas did the same thing that they had been doing when they were following Theudas. These two men failed the acid test of death.
And for my vote, to follow somebody in life and in death, you need to be able to conquer our biggest enemies. And our biggest enemies are what? You have a sin problem, and you have a death problem. The Bible says, all of us have sinned, and we can't do anything to erase the stain of that guilt, and all of us have a death problem. And if you claim to be able to follow the sin problem, you sure as heck would be able to solve the death problem. For if you can solve the death problem, I can trust you can handle the sin problem. Anybody with me? And Theudas and Judas were like, follow me, kill the beast, right? I can take care of your sin. I can take care of your death. Then they died, so everybody looked really closely. I don't think he's getting up. And they buried Theudas and they buried Judas. And they waited, and they waited, and they waited. And eventually, they said, "O-o-o-ooo". And both Judas and Theudas came to nothing. And he, Gamaliel, was saying, we don't need to do anything. Let's not pour oxygen on the situation. Let's not make martyrs of them.
As he continues, Verse 38, if we keep away from these men and just let them alone, and if this plan is the work of men, meaning if Jesus, if Judas, or Theudas, it will, say it with me, come to nothing. There's not going to be, 2,000 years later, 2.3 billion people around the world celebrating Easter, because there's no Easter. If he didn't rise, he's not going to keep working in the hearts of his followers. If he didn't rise, why would trillions of dollars every year be given by Christians to support humanitarian work around the world? If He hasn't risen, then why would we not just care for ourselves? No one's going to continue to bow their knee to Jesus Christ in 2,000 years and acknowledge his birth, death, burial, and resurrection every single time we write the date. Your birth certificate pays homage to Jesus coming into this world, FYI. It doesn't mark the time from Theudas's birth or Judas's birth.
But Jesus Christ, alone in all of human history, rose from the dead on the third day, was seen by many witnesses. That's how Peter put it. And 2 Peter 1, when people were saying, stuff gets exaggerated. You caught a fish that was this big, then this big, then this big. Then you were a great white shark one day. People were saying that about the resurrection. They thought they saw Jesus. They really wanted to see Jesus. They missed Jesus so much. Then they saw a guy named Jose. They thought he was Jesus. Hey, it is what it is, right? Peter said, 2 Peter 1:16, we weren't, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for it. We saw it with our own eyes. And they didn't even think it was going to happen. There wasn't like a big, Andy Stanley loves to say that there wasn't a big crowd of people waiting outside the Easter tomb as the sun rose, going, 9, 8, 7, 6, right? They were all hiding because they thought they were going to get arrested as accomplices after the fact. Couple of them were running out of town, bro. Jesus had to chase two of them down on the road, Luke's gospel. No one thought he was going to rise.
They thought, party's over. Well, we thought Jesus was better than Judas and Theudas. Turns out he's the same as them. So Gamaliel says, we don't need to hurt them. Let's just let them fizzle out on their own. But Verse 39, if it is of God, Gamaliel reasons, you can't overthrow it. Dude, this guy's not far from the kingdom. Lest you even be found to fight against God. And they agreed with him. But for good measure, they called for the apostles and beat them up anyway. We won't kill them, but I'm going to beat them. They commanded them that they should not speak ever again in the name of Jesus and let them go. So they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy enough to suffer shame for the name. And then daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Most of the apostles, all but John, to their death, by the way, and all the way happy to suffer any abuse that came from following Jesus, unlike the 400 that followed Theudas or the big crew that was following Judas.
The followers of Jesus who saw with their own eyes that he had risen, conquering the death that is a problem for us all, believing that means then that he can take care of the sin that is a problem for us all. And the Church of Jesus Christ for the last 2,000 years has imperfectly sought to advance and bring the good news to anybody who will listen all around the world. There is salvation. There is a savior. There is a hope. There is life. There is salvation. We are not alone. Our God came close. He put skin on. He was nailed to a cross. He has conquered the grave, and he can do it for you. So, to be clear, what are the promises of the gospel? The way I see it, they are that it changes how you look at yesterday. If the gospel is true, then our yesterday is full of what? Redemption. We read it. The forgiveness of sins. You don't have to look at your past the same way if you're saved, because all those sins that separated you from God were paid for on the cross.
That's awesome. It also changes how you look at tomorrow. If the gospel is true, and Jesus wasn't like Theudas or Judas. He rose from the dead, and for 2,000 years, his followers have continued to advance the cause of Christ in the world, proving that, like Gamaliel said, this was of God and cannot be overthrown with human hands. In fact, the more people try and stamp out the church, the better it does. Tertullian said, the blood of Christians functions as seed. For a second Star Wars reference of the day, you strike me down, you made me more powerful than you could ever possibly imagine, is what every follower of Jesus has lived out if they've died for their faith in Jesus Christ. It just resolves the church. It causes the church to wake up. Because the church doesn't, If we understand s truth, we don't look at this life as everything. In the world, you've got to cling to this life, right? You've got to cling to it. I've got to spend everything on security. I've got to spend everything on me because this is all I got.
And you know what? If what is being taught in science classes around the world is true and we are just smart mud and monkeys wearing pants and death is the end, then you should grab everything you can and hang on to it as good as you can and get everything done with your bucket list you can while you're here, because, guess what? Death is blackness in the end and no more. But if this life is simply a beat on the way to eternity, if there are many mansions in my Father's house, as Jesus said, there was, and He goes to prepare a place for you, and if you will pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and enter a land of glory where the sun never sets, if you will live forever in a place where there are no tears, and no cancer diagnosis, and no mental health crisis. If you're going to live forever in Heaven, you can have a light touch on this life.
So tomorrow becomes full of hope in Heaven, and God's up to something. Yesterday becomes full of redemption. Our sins have been paid for. And guess what? Today has changed too because today becomes full of purpose. Because if there's still one hungry person, come on, JB, if there's still one lonely girl, right? If there's still, one more person doesn't know, then we got to open more churches and we got to plant more campuses. Then we've got to reach the broadcast out in the further corners of Spotify. We have to keep telling. We have to keep going. We've got a message. We've got something that we've got to live for. Is there not a cost? With millions of people still enslaved in the world, with people homeless, with people dying, with people shooting up junk in their arms to feel alive to get a tiny taste of what we get to experience every time we lift our hands to the Lord. There are more people to reach. We have purpose, and that changes how you go to work, and that changes how you go to school, and that changes every chairlift ride.
There's another person to bump into. It's not just an inconvenience. That's a soul. That's a human. That's someone that matters. That's someone that we care for, right? So if that's all true, that's the gospel, and that's amazing. But that's not all, because none of that's my sermon. I came this Easter to show you there's more for you in your salvation that maybe you haven't encountered, and that is that when Jesus died and rose, he purchased for you freedom from shame, freedom from shame. And if you can absorb this, one it will change the other three. And I fear far too many Christians have had their sins paid for, know they're going to heaven and even believe they're on mission, but have never learned to deal with the shame that persists as a follower of God. And so that shame has infected your yesterday, will infect your tomorrow, and certainly, for many of you, it's doing it right now here today. Shame, shame, we know your name. You are keeping us back from the fullness and the totality of what Jesus wants our life following him to be.
Therefore, we don't end up becoming what He wants us to be, which is what Matthew 5, here's another way to put it, Verse 14. You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Why do many of you not shine the light? Why do many times I don't shine the light? Because of shame. Shame robs us of the confidence to be the light-bearers we're meant to be. So if we can deal with the shame, what will we be able to say? We'll be able to say, we're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, Jesus said, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? No, I'm going to put you up on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand, what are you going to deal? Deal with this shame so you can shine. We can't shine if we're still carrying the shame.
So keep open house. This is what the disciples are doing in Acts 5. House-to-house temple area. Large groups, thousands of people, small groups having coffee, asking how life's actually going. Keep open house. Be generous with your lives. Be opening up to others. What will happen if you do this? You'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven. So just for a moment, let's talk about how shame has been destroyed if we properly absorb the message of Easter. I remember the first time I felt ashamed. I sat down this week and thought about it. Do you remember? I know you know what shame is. I know you know the feeling of shame.
A minute ago when I said, I want to talk to you a little bit about shame today, did none of you went, what's that, to your neighbor? I didn't see any of that. What's that? Do you have any of that? I don't have any of that, right? I know you're trying to look ahead and keep calm like no one, But we got shame, and I remember the first time I felt it. I was a third grader. In third grade, in the carpool, I was sitting in my next-door neighbor's beat up, old station wagon. Remember the wood ones that looked like wood but it was fake wood? And this, it was like chipping the wood. The fake wood was chipping. This thing was rundown, held together by duct tape and prayer and care, but not enough of the second two. Obviously, just duct tape. And we had a rotation. And I've been in this car tons of times before, and I never remember noticing it. I never thought about it. Cars have four tires and a steering wheel, and you get out of them where you're supposed to be, that's all I knew. But for whatever reason, this idea of knowing your right hand from the left kind of switched on.
And as a third grader, I saw my friends standing outside of the school, and I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed to be seen getting out of that car and then thinking that's my car. And for whatever reason, my image of my identity was at such a place developmentally that I thought, I will be viewed as less than if I'm seen getting out of this car. Now, of course, I know today, I'm a 39-year-old man, I would sit my third grade self down and say, buddy, being poor is nothing to be ashamed of. And so what if anyone thinks you're poor? And it's not like your parents drive a Mercedes Benz, but you never feel this getting out of the minivan. But for whatever reason, I remember sinking low in the seat, going, I don't want them to think I'm poor, because I was ashamed to be thought of as poor. It challenged my identity and my developing sense of value.
Now, that was by no means the last time I felt shame. A few years later, I'll never forget, someone I loved in my family was hurt in a very serious way. And I found out later, months later, I had been there when it happened, but I had done nothing because I knew. And, of course, 39-year-old Levi goes, how could you know? And how could you, being a fifth grader, have done anything about it anyway? But I sensed the shame of not having been there to take care of someone I needed to take care of. And my developing sense of identity was gathered around the idea of taking care of people. And so this big fear, this shame, this sensation of, I'm going to let people down when they need me to take care of them the most, has persisted. I feel it all the time as your pastor. I'm going to let you down. I'm an imposter. I'm going to shame myself by not being good preaching, or good leading, or good living. I feel the shame of, I'm not going to be the wife, the husband my wife needs me to be.
My wife of yesterday, 18 years by the way. 18 years Jane and I have been married. I love you. Happy anniversary this weekend. I love that our anniversary sits nestled this year between Good Friday and Easter because that's what our life's been built on. And yet, I feel, honestly, if I'm being completely candid, I feel like I'm a failure as a father so often. It's like I'm not going to be, I don't measure up to this, whatever images of myself as the protector and provider and nurturer and leader. When I was in sixth grade, I had a youth pastor who was very used by God in my life to develop my relationship with Jesus that was burgeoning. And when I was in 10th grade, he took his life. And the way that impacted and affected me to see someone who had made a difference in my life in a positive way take his life, it developed an extreme, almost neurotic phobia of suicide. And back in the shame part of my brain came with it this script, that's the ultimate way to fail. And since your terror is of failing those you love and who need you the most, that's the likely way that you're going to end up shaming your family.
And so in my life, there's been this voice of shame that's attached to my identity, that's attached to my self-worth. And notice, none of this has anything to do with forgiving from sins. Here's why. And you should take notes. This is really good. And by the way, you should see some of your faces. Because you're like, this ain't the Easter sermon we thought we were getting, homie. But it's the Easter sermon you need. Yes. We have to answer this question, what is shame? What shame is. Shame is not guilt. You can have forgiveness from sins, therefore, your guilt removed, but still be walking in shame. How does that work? That doesn't make any sense. No, guilt is based on activity. Shame is attached to your identity, how you see yourself. So guilt is a legal standing. Shame, rather, is someone you are. So shame is not attached to what you did. It's who you've become. It's who you are. Shame tells you that you are unworthy of love or you are only your worst moment.
So your worst moment, the worst thing you've ever done, that's now your shame trigger. If it was the abortion, if it was the failed marriage, if it was the time that you flew off the handle and did physically abuse someone or scream at someone. Whatever that is, we all have ours. There's a trigger and it's a shame loop, and we end up in it. It's who the voice in your head says you are, not what you even did, but who you've become. So the disciples abandoned Jesus. The shame doesn't say, you did something cowardly, because you can go to God and ask for forgiveness for doing something cowardly. Shame says, you are a coward. Why would you think anyone would want you? Which is why I think the disciples hid behind locked doors. Because if that's what shame is, we need to then ask the question, where does shame come from? Shame comes from three different sources. Primarily, shame comes from sins done by me, number one. Anything I've done wrong can then become a part of a shame story, sins done by me.
Secondly, shame triggers things because of sins done to me. And then thirdly, by just life's brutality. So these are the three primary sources of shame. If I ever did something wrong, now shame says, you are something wrong. Someone does something to me, sexually abused, you can eventually start to believe because you were abused, because you're not worthy of love. You don't deserve a good marriage. You don't deserve happiness. And then thirdly, life's brutality. Some people are born with birth defects. That was no fault of their own. Some people were born in a situation that brought about different socioeconomic options. And you can eventually develop a wounded spirit, a victim mentality. Shame tells you you are something, not just you did something. That's what it is, and that's where it comes from.
Thirdly, what does shame do? Shame always, always, always causes us to hide. What does shame do? Shame says, hide, you don't deserve to be seen. You don't deserve to show your face around here. Some of you, the reason you've never volunteered to serve and actually begin to make this church advance by you serving and being part of it is because you don't believe you're worthy. You don't believe God could use you. You would share your faith, but why would God use someone so damaged? You know what, you can be saved, and maybe He'll let you go to Heaven, if you're lucky, but you don't deserve to actually be used. Who do you think you are? Shame says you don't deserve to be seen. And that's why the moment Adam and Eve sinned, and the first time the word "shame" is ever used is when our first parents fell. Previous, they were what? Naked and, Ashamed. First mention of shame in the Bible is a lack of it, before sin. Unashamed. Carefree. Serving God. Enjoying life. Enjoying each other. Instantly, once sin is in, shame is on. You are a deceiver. You don't deserve it.
So now God comes, and they're afraid of Him. They have no reason to be afraid of God, but they're hiding. They sewed together clothes. Hiding from each other, hiding from God, and hiding even from themselves. Shame will always cause you to hide, not just in fig leaves, in a bottle, in a substance, in a career. How many people work long hours not because they need but because they're terrified of coming home after work because they don't believe because of what shame has spoken over them that they will ever be a good father? And so you wait and hesitate to pull into that driveway until you know your kids are asleep because you're terrified that you can't be the father because you didn't have a father. And now, shame, the baggage is heaped generation to generation, and so you hide.
Brené Brown, in her research on shame, correlates feelings of shame to not only addiction and not only depression and not only bullying and aggression, but violence and despair to eating disorders. Many different ways we can end up hiding and not shining our light brightly because that's what shame does. And sadly, we all ultimately start projecting the shame we haven't processed. And it causes us, with a critical eye, to look at other people who we can detect are dealing with the same things we are, and maybe even they have a trace amount of it. That's why Jesus said, when you have a big two-by-four sticking out of your eye, you'll try and help people get the speck out of their eye. And this explains that loud mouth person berating certain sins. How dare you? And thou shalt not. But really on the inside, covering up their own iniquity as well. It's usually a telltale sign there's something going on. We're projecting what we haven't ourselves dealt with.
Last piece of bad news, where does shame end? If that's what it is, where it comes from and what it does, where does it end? It ends in the grave. This is a feast that marches towards the casket. The truth is shame will not stop. It will never be satisfied until death. That's how we even have that phrase. I was so embarrassed, I could, Die. ,die. Just that sense of death. But not just physical death, it also wants to kill your relationships and kill your dreams, kill your God-given potential. Death is where shame moves. If you continue in your shame, if you continue to, even as a forgiven Christian, headed to Heaven to walk with your shame and to allow shame to lie to you about who you are, it will not stop until death. And even then, it's going to jump onto the shoulders of those you love. But I got good news this Easter. You don't have to be the one to die, because shame won't stop till death, and that is why Jesus Christ shouldered your shame as he died.
In fact, Hebrews 12 says so specifically when it says that Jesus Christ, the one that we should have our eyes locked on, Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the, Shame. He didn't just take the physical abuse of the cross, the nails, the whip, the crown, the mockery. But he hung there and suffered for all the shame that's ours. And he despised that shame. He hates the shame. Right now, Jesus hates the fact that you're still carrying shame, that you still have intertwined into how you see yourself certain things he hates that I see myself as only as good as my last moment that was good, and always needing to perform again, and always needing to project this perfect image again and to feel like I'm the one who needs to keep everything going together or it won't happen. And waking up terrified because I know I can't shoulder that load, and so the inevitable response is shame. He despises your shame. He despises the way you feel unworthy because He knows your true identity is not what your shame speaks.
It's what the spirit speaks. And the spirit speaks you are loved, you are called. You have the image of God inside of you. You are a bright light to shine in this world. You are headed to Heaven. I can't see your sins and lawless deeds anymore. And learning to deal and to accept the truth of guilt that's been forgiven, but not allowing the shame to continue to be a part of our story and have a seat at that table. That's a process that will be ours all the way to Heaven. And I want to talk to you more about this on May 1. Sunday, May 1, I've got a second part, a part B of this message. If you come back on May 1, I'm going to talk about what is it like to day in and day out deal with the fact that shame wants to always keep putting its nose back into the picture, and that the devil will not stop trying to rub your nose in the stain on the carpet of a sin that Jesus Christ already said is finished. And He wants you to see you different than how God sees you. God sees you as his loved child. He wants you to see you as a vile sinner, unworthy of love.
So we'll talk more about what it looks like, the particulars, and some things that will really help that have helped me in that battle. I've already wrote that whole message out. That's on May 1. But today, I wanted to just end by remembering that this was the point of Easter the whole time, not just the whole time of Jesus's actual ministry, but even going back. Because all the way back in the book of Joshua, you have the children of Israel that had come out of bondage in Egypt, had come through the Red Sea a picture of baptism, and were moving towards the wilderness, which is a picture of entering into all that God has for us. But first, they had to cross the Jordan River, which is this picture of that next step of growing, becoming rooted, becoming free from the strongholds, learning to not listen to the lies of shame anymore. Because God knew what you need to know. You can be out of Egypt but still have Egypt in you. You can be free. You're not a slave anymore on the outside, but you're still a slave on the inside.
And so what, before they went across the Jordan River, did God speak to them through Joshua? He said, today, I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt. So that place is called Gilgal to this day. At Gilgal, shame was being rolled away. What else was rolled away? The stone. The tomb, where Jesus Christ, after his death, was buried. Friends, I came this Easter to report to you that Jesus took all of your shame and my shame to the cross. And when he came out of the grave, he wasn't holding it anymore. That means your shame has been, like the stone, rolled away. And today, he's rolling away your shame so that instead of it, what will you have? You will have double honor. That's what Isaiah 61:7 says. Speaking prophetically of the Ministry of Jesus, instead of your shame, you shall have double honor. It's using the language of the Year of Jubilee.
Seven is a big number in the Bible. And when there were seven sevens in a row, it was a 49th year. And on the 49th year, the priests were to blow a trumpet, meaning we're in the year 50. It's Jubilee. It's freedom. It's celebration. Our kids in Fresh Life Kids have been learning about the gospels through a little mouse that we named Jubilee. And when that trumpet was blown, you had a whole year off, a whole year to let the land rest, a whole year to enjoy the goodness of God. The land went back to its original tribal owners, so meaning if you lost a piece of property that you had to sell in a hard time but it was in your family for generations, it all went back to its original tribes in the year of Jubilee. If there were any debts you had been paying for and couldn't keep paying anymore, in the Jubilee, there was a canceling out of all debts. The whole point of, the whole concept of Jubilee was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When he came out of that grave, there was the announcement of a brand new way to be human. Our debts were canceled.
Come on, somebody, there's freedom. The land can rest. Our soul can rest. We don't have to try and earn something before God. We get to just be and have our identity rooted in who He is. So literally, we can say, my guilt, yes, there was guilt in my story, but it was forgiven and paid for. Shame? No, I have nothing to be ashamed of, because the sound of freedom has blown over my life, and Jesus rolled the shame away. That's not how I see myself anymore. I'm not unworthy. I am loved. I am not unvaluable. I am cared for. I get double honor instead of shame. So the disciples were hiding behind locked doors. And Jesus had risen. And He knew their sins were forgiven, but He knew they were hiding themselves in shame. And so He passed through the doors. He passed through the walls to come in and make sure they knew they didn't need to see themselves as having abandoned Him so they were cowards. The sin of that, forgiven. Your identity, you're my children. You're my followers. And today, He comes into the locked doors of your heart to invite you out of your shame, to invite you to go public, to not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it, and it alone, has taken care of your sins and rolled away your shame.
Now, maybe you're saying, Levi, goodness gracious, this is so good, I never saw this before. I never heard it like this before. How have I never heard this? To which I would say, God has been trying to reach you for the longest time. Your whole life, He's been trying to tell you this. If you're honest, you can point back to moments when you heard Him too, can't you? That sunset, those fleeting moments before you fell asleep, that was Him, wasn't it? That was Him. He was calling your name.
There was a story, and I close with this, because those Easter eggs are not going to find themselves. And in my case, those Starburst jellybeans are not going to eat themselves. This man was playing the slot machines at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. One particular pull, he won the jackpot, but the machine never told him, so he walked away, thinking he had lost. He ended up at another casino, and another casino. And then eventually, his stay in Vegas was over, and he went back home to Arizona. Well, the Nevada Department of Gaming Commissioners apparently goes through the logs of these machines. And in the code, they saw on that particular pull on January 8, at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, someone pulled the handle, putting a coin in, and it won a jackpot payout of a quarter-million dollars, but it didn't notify him.
So they contacted Treasure Island and they said, you had a winner you didn't tell because the machine malfunctioned. That's not his fault. He won, so you pay him. And so they tracked, they said, we need to figure out who this guy is. We don't know who he is. He paid with a coin. How do you find out who he is? So they got into the cameras, got facial recognition, saw when he left this hotel, he went to another hotel. And some of you are like, this is creepy. A little bit, but it's awesome. They saw him go here, go here. And eventually, he gets into an Uber. They get the ride service to give the logs. They get his names. Turns out, he lives in Arizona. They figure out where he is. They come to him. They ring the doorbell. And they say, sir, I'm so sorry. On that particular day, January 8, at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, you pulled the arm on a slot machine. Turns out you were a winner. And this whole time, you've been a quarter-million dollars richer, only we couldn't tell you. We've been trying to reach you. We couldn't figure out who you were. We've been trying to get this word to you.
Is that not your story? Has not the Holy Spirit been working in your heart, convicting you of sin, drawing you to Himself? He's put people in your path. Listen, He's been trying to reach you for a long time to notify you that 2,000 years ago, you hit the jackpot when Jesus died and then rose from the dead for you. And that today, if you open the door of your heart to Him to accept your winnings, your tomorrow can be different, your yesterday can be different, and your today can be changed. Oh, yeah, and you can be free from shame. And my prayer is that you would not keep the door shut. And He's standing on the porch, wanting to come in. Would you pray with me?
Father, we are so all at once overcome by your goodness. And at the same time, we just feel like, how could we be loved so well? It doesn't make sense. But I thank you for what you're doing, this deep work today, as you speak those three important words to us, "shame off you". So many people in our lives have told us, you should be ashamed of yourselves, and we've been the front of the pack. But thank you, Jesus, that you say, because of my son, Jesus, you say, because of my life, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I paid for it in full and rolled it away. It's done. It is finished.
If you would say, "Levi, some part of this message has touched me in a deep way", can I just ask that, in a moment of honesty, you just raise up a hand to God, resonating with this, wanting the shame to not be on your identity anymore? Thank you, Jesus, for what you're doing, the lives you're touching all across our church. You could put your hands down. God bless you for your honesty. I'm right there with you. I got both hands up. And tomorrow, I'll need to work at this again.
As we continue in this moment of prayer, if you would say, I've never opened my door to let Jesus in to bring those winnings of salvation to me, I thought I had to earn it, I thought I had to be good enough and keep the Ten Commandments enough, be tall enough. Friends, that is an exhausting way to try and win Heaven. And it's futile. But if you let Jesus be your Lord and Savior, He'll make you new. He'll make all things new. If as we're praying with heads bowed and eyes closed, if you would say, I'm ready, I'm ready to give my life to Jesus, I'm ready to rededicate my life to God. Whatever it is, whatever is happening, you're that prodigal son or daughter. You're saying, I want a seat at the table. If God will have me, I'm going to come in. The punishment can stop. The war can be over.
With heads bowed and eyes closed, if that's you I'm describing, can I just ask, all across our church and Church Online, if you would say, I want to give my heart to Jesus, could you just raise your hand up right now? Just raise it up. Don't put this off. Just raise your hand up. God bless you. Anybody else? Raise your hands up. God bless you. God sees you. Anybody else? Don't be ashamed. This is your moment. Just raise your hand up. Praise God, praise God. Church, come on, let's celebrate. We got hands going up all across our church and online. Praise God. You can put your hands down. I'm going to lead you in a prayer and I'm going to ask that as you give your heart to Jesus, church, say it with us, mean this in your heart. Say this to God:
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself from the wrong things that I've done. Please forgive me. Please roll away my shame. Come into my heart. Help me to follow you and to see myself like you see me. Help me to serve you all my life as a bright light in a dark world. In Jesus's name, I pray. Amen. Amen.