Levi Lusko - Don't Let Shame Hold You Back
A couple of things. The first is that next week is Mother's Day and we invite you back. Fresh Life Church is a place to be Mother's Day. Very special worship experience planned. So don't miss out on that. Then secondly, two weeks from now we're going to be kicking off a brand new series that we've been gearing up for a while called Thank You, Next. Thank You, Next. And we're going to be with a little help from Ariana preaching a series that's all around this idea, this thought. What's the context to some of the most famous passages in scripture? And we're going to be looking at some of those verses that a lot of us know, a lot of people around the world know. And we're going to be trying to understand them in their natural habitat.
We're going to be like getting our Steve Irwin on. And we're not going to go to the zoo to look at them, we're going to go to see them in the Savannah. We're going to go see them in the Australian Outback and see what the verses around them or even the whole chapter kind of helps inform what they actually mean versus just them being plucked out and put on a board and hung on the wall. Thank You, Next is gearing up. So we invite you back for that. And then lastly, big news. Movement Conference is coming 2022 summer, August 4th through the 7th. And this Wednesday is a big day for a Movement Conference. There's a price jump on Wednesday at midnight on the 4th. The price jumps from $200 to $250. So get your registration in before that. And while we're talking about Movement Conference, we're excited that we have also added to the lineup Phil Wickham, who is going to be with us for Movement Conference, live and in person in Big Fork, Montana.
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All right, grab your Bibles. Thank you, team. We appreciate you. And we're going to be in this message continuing a conversation that we began on Easter talking about shame. And if you have a Bible with you, turn with me to Psalm Chapter 34. Title of my message is don't let shame hold you back. Want to talk to you about how to break free from the grip of shame. Because it is one thing to believe that shames power was canceled. And it's a whole different thing to live functionally out of that. Because you can know something and not live out of it at the same time. Now by way of recap if you weren't here with us when we began this conversation, shame is basically guilt's evil little twin. Guilt takes you on a trip and the trip that you can end up on, even after guilt power has been canceled by the cross, is called shame. Where guilt deals primarily with what you have done, shame wants to talk about who you are. Guilt says if you're listening to it, I did wrong. And that's a good thing.
By the way, conviction is a gift. The awareness of guilt is to know that you're not a sociopath. That you can feel wrong. You should be thankful if the Holy Spirit lets you know that there's guilt in your life because then you can do what you need to with that guilt. It's a wonderful thing. I did wrong. Oh my goodness. Oh, thank you, God. Now I can do something about it. Shame is completely different. Shame doesn't say you did wrong, shame says you are wrong. Shame doesn't say you did bad, shame says you are bad. I am bad. I am wrong. I didn't make a mistake, I am a mistake. Do you see what I'm talking about? Guilt primarily deals with your legal standing where shame concerns itself with your identity. Guilt can be understood, the facts of guilt can be understood by a newspaper reporter.
Anybody who's into journalism understands the who, what, when, where, why, and how. That's how you figure out guilt. What you did, when you did it, why you did it, who was with you when you did it, and what was going on at the time, right? Shame is far less logical. Shame doesn't have to make sense on paper. As you write the story of it shame doesn't always even have a direct one to one correspondence. You can end up in shame for something that actually on paper you shouldn't feel shame for. But try telling that to your emotional self. Shame doesn't make sense and it doesn't need to because it's essentially an emotional trauma. Where does the stuff come from? Because shame is bad, right? It's like they don't want that. I'm hearing that I'm like, I don't want that. We don't want guilt either, but guilt is in our lives as well. But fortunately guilt can be taken care of. But what we need to understand is that long after guilt problem has been solved there can still be the lingering effects of shame.
And so where does it come from? It comes from, of course, sins that we commit. It also comes from sins that other people commit, things that people do wrong to us. We did nothing wrong, but now we can end up walking in the smoldering lingering effects of shame years and even decades after the event is over. And that's because of sin other people have committed. But then you can also just accumulate wounds and nicks and bruises from living on a fallen planet. And consequently, now you can be dealing with shame through no fault of your own or someone you know, but just because life can be brutal because it's fallen and because it's cursed.
There is a sense in which this world is not what it was meant to be. And now you just are dealing with what you had this blood disorder, you had this issue, you got in this car accident. You didn't ask for the drunk driver to hit. You didn't ask for this to take place. You didn't know there was going to be black ice. And there's almost not a week where I don't get a letter from someone just dealing with pain and learning to find power in it, which is always God's plan. But you can if it's not carefully treated develop shame and now your identity is somehow linked to this brutality. We're just recapping here. I like what Daniel Dewitt had to say on the subject. This is profound. You might want to take a picture of this quotation. He said, "Guilt is the wound. Shame is the scar. Guilt is isolated to the individual. Shame is contagious. The child whose father is imprisoned, the wife whose husband is unfaithful, the daughter whose mother is abusive, they all share in the shame. They feel their self-worth is lessened. Shame wraps its arms around their ankles tightly, allowing them to walk but never to run. Shame says, you need to hide. You're no good. You deserve to live in darkness. Come with me, I'll lead the way".
Powerful. And if you're not careful and if you don't face it and if you don't take the tools that God has given you to deal with it, shame will continue to haunt you long after guilt shadow is no longer on you. Long after your guilt has been dealt with, you can still be bound up in shame. And what I think we need to discover in order for shame not to hold us back is to discover the sound of shame. Because just like a healthy soul has a sound, and by the way, that sound is praise. That sound is a song. That sound is worship. So the idea of shame in our life will always have a sound. What does shame sound? Like it sounds like I can't because. I would if I fill in the blank. It sounds like I am defined by my worst day. You don't understand, if you had been through blank you wouldn't blank or you would blank as well. Or it sounds like I am only as good as my last accomplishment. I'll probably fail you when I need you or I'm not good enough. Or I don't deserve blessings because. Or I will never experience this because.
That's what shame sounds like. And where does shame lead? If we follow shame on this trip that guilt began and now we are on, where will it go? The answer is the grave. Shame only ends in death. Like the man in Proverbs who was invited to a party, he was excited to get an invitation. He's like Oh my gosh, I got invited to a party. And he takes the invitation, and he shines his shoes, and he gets this outfit on only at the end of the chapter to discover that he was invited to a banquet in the grave. And that only Proverbs 9:18, "The dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell". Proverbs, as you might know, is personifying wisdom versus foolishness. And while in Proverbs 9 the actual invitation was from a foolish woman, we could substitute that for a shameful woman.
When you listen to shames voice, when you follow it will feel seductive at the time because of victim mentality or living out of a wound or living out of sin at times can feel in some sort of a sado masochistic kind of way like appropriate. Like I'm suffering and I deserve to suffer. I'm just paying for the sins of my past. Or I'll never see my grandchildren say because if I'd have been a better grandfather earlier on or whatever we might say might feel right and somehow feel good. To listen to her voice is always to end up at a party in the grave. A grave that's the death of a relationship, the death of a calling, the death of a dream, the death of what Jesus wants for your life today to feel like. So I don't know about you, but I think shame has got to go. God has so much more for us.
When we think about the choose your own adventure path of shame, because here we are saved, free from guilt, no longer needing to continue on living lives of shame. We see that fork in the road so vividly when Jesus rose. And I said on Easter that the Resurrection, which today is still very exciting the thought of life over death, that when he came out of the grave he did so to open up for us lives freed from shame. Not just guilt but from shame as well. And I think there's a lot of Christians who have been saved for decades but are still bound up in that shame. But we see this picture. Here's Jesus who's come out of the grave and all 12 of his disciples let him down. We know that they all forsook him, they fled him. Only John had the courage to show up at the cross. And yet, what a vivid contrast if you take the 11 and then you take Judas and what the difference was between those two.
Now, we know they all hid. We know they all found their way to cope with the shame before the 11 eventually found the freedom from shame they needed in Jesus. And then could be filled with the boldness and could be filled with the confidence. Because friends, on the other side of your shame is you being a bright light in a city on a hill. Truly saying I've got nothing to be ashamed of. And now I can get on shining my light like I'm supposed to. But Judas feeling the same feelings of I'm a disappointment and I let Jesus down. I'm not just cowardly, I am a coward. I didn't just commit betrayal, I am a betrayer. He, the Bible says, took his shame and instead of bringing it to Jesus to deal with he took it to where? The grave.
Matthew 27:5, "He threw down the pieces of silver in the temple. He believed the lies of shame and he departed and went out and hung himself". But the other disciples, who essentially allowed Jesus to deal with and treat and forgive and restore them, they ended up walking free from it. We don't need to end up like Judas. But it's not just with sins. Now, of course, Judas' was a sin. But it also can be with our skills. Our skills can develop a shame. If our identity is based on our accomplishments. And this is for me, a great source of shame for me because of always needing to achieve, and always needing to produce, and always needing which came from some things that I went through very young as well as some sinful things that help develop shame. A pornography addiction very young, which made me have a hard time believing I would ever experience God's best in marriage and blessing on my life.
And at my darkest moments I still see myself defined by the shame attached to those things. But I also felt because of ways that I had let down or felt like I had let down people in my life, I developed this need to always achieve, always perform to see myself only through the lens of if I can deliver. My dad bought my other siblings a car, it was I got a job and I earned and bought my own car. And just always the sense of, I can do it. Like an accomplishment that's led to good things but also can be a source of shame because then I'm only as good as the last time I delivered. And there's always this deep haunting fear I'm not enough. I won't be able to do it. I'll let people down when they count on me the most. That leads to death. Ahithophel shows this that.
When was the last time you heard a sermon about Ahithophel? Not nearly enough. But Ahithophel was a really, really brilliant tactician, strategist. He always had the idea. And so everybody's like "hey, come give me advice" or maybe you relate to that. People come to you. People tend to want, "hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about this business idea? What do you think about this marketing idea or this leadership concept to hit the fellas that way"? In fact, 2 Samuel 16 says, "Now the advice of Ahithophel, the which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired of the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both to David," hello. You know when David's asking your advice on military matters you've made it, right? And with Absalom. So they both wanted him in their military war room.
Now, of course, you know probably that David was betrayed by Absalom. And Absalom took over the kingdom. And he brought in some different military advisors. And you know he wanted Ahithophel, because he regarded him. And he asked Hushai the Archite what he should do and he asked Ahithophel. Now David had prayed that God would turn Ahithophel's advice against him and that he would listen to Hushai the Archite's advice instead. When David had to run and Hushai basically gave Absalom advice that appealed to his ego. Get a big ol' army together and go out and find David. And if he's in a city, pull down the city walls with ropes. I mean, none of it was realistic. It was bombastic. And he knew Absalom never found a mirror that he couldn't check himself out in. And so he gave him advice that would appeal to his vanity. Where Ahithophel gave him very simple, very tactical advice. He said, just get out there, send a couple of guys and kill him now and it'll be all over. And it was actually better advice. But because of Absalom's sense of vanity and ego, he ended up following Hushai's advice to his detriment.
Now this is just fascinating by the way. When you read the Bible 2 Samuel 16 and 17, this is incredible stuff here. But look what happened. Ahithophel, clearly defined by his sense of identity by what he could do, which is shame as well. It says verse 23, "And when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled the donkey and arose and went home to his house to his city. There he put his household in order and hanged himself and died. And he was buried in his father's tomb". So in both graphic, of course, examples we see shames desire for us. There is a death in letting shame have its way. So how, Levi, now that we've recapped all of that and we have this picture in our mind, and we're like I don't want to be like Ahithophel and I clearly don't want to be like Judas.
So what do we need to know? We need to know that in order to not let shame hold us back, we need to be able to find our light. To find our light. Spoiler alert, the light that is meant to shine from you does not come from you. The light that's meant to come out of your life is not something that can originate inside of you. So in order for us to be the light, we have to stop staring at ourselves. Who or what do we stare at then? That's why we've turned to Psalm 34. King David is going to show us how. Now we're going to not just read the Psalm, and we won't read it all because of time, I encourage you to read the remainder of the verse on your own time. You are allowed to read the Bible when you're not in church. Brand new law, just got passed. So amazing week.
Psalm 34 verse 1 starts out, "I will bless the Lord at all times". But notice there's a heading. Back up and above it you'll see it. Look at right there on the screen. You get context clues. This is a geotag. This is like when you go in your iPhoto library and you swipe up on a photo and it tells you what kind of settings were being utilized and if you've allowed it in your geolocation, where it was taken, and even faces that were in it, right? This is pretty cool. We're told this Psalm was written when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed. This is interesting. This is a sorted event in the life of David, much earlier than when he was driven out of the kingdom by his own son Absalom, who staged a rebellion and tried to take the throne from him. His father-in-law, Saul, had done the same thing to him when he was a young boy.
Just after he had slain Goliath and then led in many different battles, the children of Israel into victory and into success. And for his efforts he had been given Saul's daughter Michael as his wife. And he had been given many rewards. Saul began to grow jealous of David. Saul began to see David as a threat. Instead of celebrating that someone had done all this, that he had raised up and given opportunity to, he began to despise David. Literally the Bible says, "His eye began to grow suspicious toward David". How you look at things dictates how you respond to things. And David began to be eyed by Saul, who began to give in to the green-eyed monster of envy and was dealing with his own unprocessed shame as well. No doubt. And as a result, David who refused to lay a hand against King Saul, ended up having to live on the run.
A chapter of his life repeated many, many different times. And during that time he kept trusting God, kept following God. And he refused to kill Saul even though he was given many opportunities. And finally it seems David had grown tired, because he first told a number of lies at a place called Knob. And then he finally decided, this is exhausting. I'm going to leave Israel and go live with the Philistines. David living in the land of the Philistines is unthinkable. It's like Batman and the Joker subletting an apartment together in Harlem. It's like what is going on? Like dude, you can't go to the Philistines. And it just seems David just was tired and run down. And we all have these kind of days as well. And once there he was quickly arrested, quickly put into custody, and then he realized in panic that he was going to get killed by the King of the Philistines.
And so he pretended he was crazy. He led his saliva run down his beard and he started acting like a stark raving lunatic because he knew the Philistines had this weird superstition about putting crazy people to death or even being around him because they thought he was contagious. And so David does an incredible act. And the Academy award goes to David for acting like he's insane. And they boot him and evict him out of the country. This is just awesome. Like these stories are just like, what the heck? Like David and Goliath I know. Saul, all I knew a little bit about. David pretending he's crazy and beside himself, I did not know. But he's back in Israel now and he's feeling terrible. Terrible for the lies. He's feeling terrible for not trusting God and going to the Philistines.
And then having a lie to the Philistines to get out of it because you know what? Lies are contagious too. Tell one lie, then you tell another lie. Then you have to keep track of which lie you told what version to. And eventually you end up like legion, many different versions of yourself. You're not united in your own person. David, you could have pictured him in a cave. And what's happening now? The shame is setting in. Big man after God's own heart you turned out to be. Oh yeah, sweet shepherd of Israel. The shame. The shame. The shame. And what does he do to deal with his shame?
Notice, let's read together. "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to him and were radiant. And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all of his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear him and delivers them". What a promise to think about in your home. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in him. Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, there is no want to those who fear him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing". And then if you jump down to verse 15, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry".
So Father, we thank you for this Psalm. We thank you for this Psalm and the knowledge of the circumstances under which it was written. And we pray like you wrestled David out of the jaws of shame, you would do the same for us as we consider how to not let shame hold us back. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Well, since we want to be salt and light and we know shame will always stop us from that because shame makes us hide. And as Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 5, we are not meant to light a lamp and then put a bucket over it. We're not meant to hide that light, which is what shame is intending for all of us, to not be the light that we're meant to be. What do we need to do on a daily basis to get past shame's power? Write this down. Number one, you need to constantly remember your new identity. My new identity. Because shame is trying to speak to a version of ourselves that we no longer are. The reality is at times shame speaks things that are true or talks about things that are true. Talks about sins that did happen. And it wants us to see ourselves through the lens of who we no longer were.
Now this also involves things others did to us and just all just complete boldface lies. I'm unworthy of love. I'm damaged goods. No one would ever want me. But at times shame also does say, you are this because you did this. And when you think, well, I did do that, it's tempting to give into it. So what you have to constantly keep doing is remembering your new identity. Ephesians 5 verse 8, "For you once were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light". So what this means is you have to remember regardless of what you've been through or regardless of what you've done or what's been done to you, the moment you trusted in Christ you became a new creation. And God looks at you through the lens of the imago dei, the image of God that is inside of you. So shame is speaking about all these different things. Don't blur the issue.
Remember, regardless of anything you've done or that's been done to you, who are you? You are now a child of God. You are now a new creation like Paul told the Corinthians. Now this was a screwed up place full of, we know just some of the things we know of going on, an incest just on a Friday night. Incest, orgies involving men with men, men with women. We know people having soirees with their mother in-laws and their sons-in-laws. I mean, just unbelievable stuff. And the gospel is preached. And Paul didn't ever say get yourself right. Get your sexual ethic right. Get your life sorted out and then you can be saved. He just went in and said, here's what Jesus did for you. Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Would you like to receive salvation? And those who came to Christ knew that there was going to be changes, but they knew that after they began to know Jesus.
And so Paul in the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians is having to sort all this stuff out. Not as a way to earn salvation, but showing them who they are on the inside and now what that means for their daily life. And so he makes this radical statement in 1 Corinthians 6. He says you know that no murderer, no adulterer, no fornicator, no homosexual, no unclean person it's going to be in heaven, right? And it's the shocking statement. It sucks all the oxygen out of the room. And then he says, and such were some of you. But he has saved you. He has watched you. He has changed you. He has justified you. The point is Paul was saying all that as a gotcha. Because the moment he chose no adulterer is going heaven, well, it was nice knowing you.
All right. I've put things ahead of God. No fornicator is going to be? What a provocative statement. There will be no greedy person in heaven. Right. No one has ever told the lie is going to be in heaven. And you go oh my God, there's no liars in heaven? I'm done for. No adulterers are in heaven? Screwed, right? All of us are, because Jesus even took it a step further and said, have you lusted after a woman in your heart? Newsflash, that's spiritual adultery and there are no adulterers in heaven Paul says. And such were some of you, but he has saved you. He has washed you. He has cleansed you in the blood of Jesus Christ. Meaning you are not those things, even if you did those things yesterday. If you do any of those things tomorrow. It's not who you are. You can't lose through bad behavior what you didn't earn through good behavior.
So the motivation to live like God wants us to live isn't to earn a standing before or to get rid of shame that's still lying about us. It's remembering we are not those things. We are children of the King. Such were some of you, but we're not darkness. We're light. That's how God sees us. So what is the process of remembering your new identity to combat shame on a daily basis? It's you seeing you like your God sees you. Write that down at the top of your journal. I need to see me like God sees me. And if I'm a Christian, what does God see when he looks at me? He sees Jesus. Because on the cross he saw me. And so now in me he sees Jesus. He doesn't see your sin.
So how dare you hold yourself in shame that God doesn't hold you in? Levi, I know God might be able to forgive me but I can't forgive me. How dare you think that your opinion matters more than God's opinion? Because he doesn't hold you accountable to those sins anymore, so why would you? So what does that mean, your new identity? It means on a daily basis stopping the scripts that shame speaks over you in their tracks. 2 Corinthians 10:5, "Casting down their arguments, casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God thinks it's better than him, knows more than him, and wants to belittle the significance of the cross".
What do we do? We bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. I'm not joking when I say that you should begin to verbally stop yourself. That's not true. It's running through your head. Speak to it out loud. That's not true. In the name of Jesus, that's a lie. I don't believe that. I don't agree with that. Shame has no place on me. Come on, take off that old garment. Take off those shame clothes. We are learning to shed the garments of shame by walking in our new identity. As verse 13 of Psalm 34 puts it, "Do not let your tongue speak evil". Here's the truth, Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us". Shame wants you to feel unworthy, but the truth is because of Jesus Christ you are worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of care, and that's exactly what you've been given.
That's why our second way to not let shame hold you back is empathy. We're going to lead ourselves with empathy. Did you know that Romans chapter 2 verse 4 says that it's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance? Another translation says it's God's kindness that leads us to salvation. Meaning no one has ever been saved because someone was so harsh and so argumentative that eventually they said uncle and got saved. It's that kindness of God that causes us to repent. And repentance literally means a change of mind. A lot of the shame is in our minds. A lot of the shame is in the thoughts that we think, which is why we have to constantly be combating that with thoughts about our new identity. But we need to do so with ourselves gently, because we will not be able to get ourselves to change without that kindness, without that empathy. And a part of empathy is common ground. And relating, hey, what are you feeling? I get that. It's not crazy that you feel that way.
I understand if I'd have been through what you've been through, I might be tempted to feel shame as well. So we need to be kind with ourselves. This involves me saying I understand, Levi, why you would feel the way that you do. I understand what you're saying. I hear what you're saying. It does make sense. Because what I'm trying to get you to see and my counselor told me this, you can never fight shame with shame. So I can't shame myself into not feeling ashamed. It's the limbic brain fighting the limbic brain. It's all emotion. It's all feeling. It's all panic. It's all fight or fright. But we have to calm down enough to listen and to care and to hear what we're feeling and to pay attention to it and ask those questions. Where is this coming from? How old does this feel? What developed this shame mechanism? What developed this tendency to want to hide? To want to armor up? To want to belittle myself or want to lash out to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy so that you treat me like I suspect you will in the end anyway because of my shame?
So when we lead ourselves with empathy, we talk to ourselves the way that we would talk to someone we love. Imagine someone you love came to you and began to articulate shame to you. What would you say to them? Would say to them tenderly, dear heart, that makes sense what you're saying but here's the truth. And you would lovingly speak to it. Why are you so much meaner to you than you would be to someone you love? Jesus says that as we love ourselves we are to love our neighbors. So that means we do need to love ourselves. And if God loves us, then we need to love us. And see there's value in us and tenderly care for and shepherd ourselves. That's why David was telling himself to bless the Lord at all times. To keep God's praise always in his mouth. He was leading himself with empathy.
The third, jot this down, community. If you want to break free from shames hold on your life you need other people. Did you catch it? What David said in the Psalm chapter 34? "Let us exalt his name together". David was feeling the shame but he said to the other people, "Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name". He was in the cave, but he didn't stay in the cave alone. His mighty men came to him. His friends came to him. Other people who would defend him, they came to him. He had a posse. He had a crew like Jesus Christ who had Peter and James and John. David had his giant slayers. And he didn't have to face that battle with shame alone. So why would you think you would be victorious when you're meant to do so with two or three gathered together, united together in the battle against shame?
Write this reference down. 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin". It's a powerful thought to think about us together breaking free from shame's power by no longer struggling in the dark with this battle that we're facing of how unworthy we feel and how difficult it is when there's an incredible strength that comes from the community of the fellowship. The Church of people that we can admit we are weak to and have them say, you're not crazy and I feel that too. Brene Brown, shame researcher and prolific author, said that shame needs these three things to grow. She says if you get these three things mixed together in a Petri dish the result of it in the science experiment is always going to be shame. Secrecy, silence, and judgment. And the devil wants you to keep your sins a secret so he can strangle you with them in silence.
And then you begin to judge yourself, which is the voice of the accuser. One of the words for the devil is Satan and Satan literally means accuser, accuser of God's presence. He's accusing, you do this. The moment you sinned, which he tempted you to do. He's like, do this. You'll feel great. Do this, it'll be awesome. And you're like, all right. And you do it and he's like stupid. God, look what he did. You can't show your face around here. And so what does man do? Man hides. You're right. I don't deserve. It's really a tale of three trees, isn't it? Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We took the fruit from that tree. So what does Adam and Eve completely start doing when the enemy accuses them? They go to the other tree and pull the fig leaves and they hide among the trees.
As God comes, God wouldn't want to walk with me anymore so they hide from God. And so what does God do? He sends his son Jesus to hang on a tree and have the shame paid for so that we can take off the garments of shame, take off the fig leaves, and no longer in secrecy say to one another, this is me. This is my struggles. This is my fight. So we can all say to each other, me too. Come on, I got your back. I'm weak too. I've been there. I've been there. I've been there. I've been there. I've been there. I've been there. I've been there. But we get to speak our new identity over each other. That's why you logged on today so we can say to you, you are a new creation. Come on, you're a love child of God. Come on, you're worth fighting for. You're not the bad things that you've done. You're not the hard things that you've been through. Some of those things may have consequences that are going to be a process.
Paul the apostle, it was a limp that he walked with every time he thought about Stephen's face. He was there when Stephen was stoned to death before Christ. You don't think that was a part of his testimony? You don't think Paul, who told us to take every thought captive, didn't have to exercise that? Every time as he was falling asleep he saw the look on Stephen's face in his mind. You don't think there was a temptation to see and to feel that shame as he would describe himself as the chief of sinners and a tendency at times to go back into that shame cycle and to feel despair? But what did he do? He told us his story. He says, I was a blasphemer. I was an insolent man. He says, I tore down the Church of Jesus Christ. And every time you tell your story, you break shame's power.
Every time you pipe up and say, here's where I've been. Here's what I've done. Here's me at my worst. I was taken advantage of. I was treated badly. I developed a shame mechanism. I'm telling you it breaks shames power to speak about it. It cannot handle. Nothing sanitizes like sunlight. And this is not a church where we all have to keep our shame a secret. This is a church where we can say, here's what I'm struggling with. This is me. This is what God's doing in my story. And when we open up in this community, we become a church presided over by someone whose name was the friend of sinners. Someone who is willing to touch and to be touched by those who need his love.
And then fourthly, and we're almost done and we're going to pray for God's power to hit that hard reset in our hearts. That like Paul's selfishness scales would fall from our eyes. Holy Spirit in me, write that down. How do I break free from shame's power? Yes, this new identity and empathy and community, but it's the Holy Spirit in me that if we listen to his voice, because shame speaks like a tornado. Shame speaks like an earthquake. Shame speaks like a fire. But there is still, small voice of the Holy Spirit who only has one thing to say to you and it's this. You're my son. You're my daughter. You're my son. You're my daughter. And there is nothing you can ever do to make your father stop loving you.
Romans 8:15, "You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear". What kind of spirit did you receive? The spirit of adoption. "Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba, Father". Tell me there is a greater picture of true love than adoption and I'll tell you it's not true. I love all my kids, but I didn't know what I was loving when I got them. To adopt a child is to know what you're getting and want it. And to say, I choose you. Your father adopted you. He saw you and he didn't hope you'd get it together. He saw you with your brokenness. He saw you with your pain. He saw you with your trauma. And he said I choose. You and every time you're tempted to say, I'm not worthy. You avert your eyes. You don't look him in the eye. You don't want to show up at church. You won't be around your Christian friends for a while because you feel unworthy. You feel dirty. You feel damaged. If you listen to the Spirit, he's saying you're my child. You're my child. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
So shame is not where your story ends. And if you find your light, that's what you do when you take a photo if you're a model. You find the light and then you work your angles. Find your light, work your angles. Find your light, work your angles. Find your lights. David said, "I will magnify the Lord. I will sing to the Lord. I will bless the Lord. And they who looked to Him," verse 5, "were radiant. Their faces were not ashamed". You know what's funny about looking away from the light? Shadows start to collect. But when you look into the light, there is no shadow as I look at it because the light drives away all the shadows. The shadow of shame can't stay when you're looking into the eyes of your Heavenly Father.
And I love the way the story of Peter illustrates this so well. I'll never let you down, Jesus. He's a guy identified by his accomplishment. Don't worry, God, I got this. Brings a sword to that, Jesus said, I'm going to get arrested. Well, I'm packing heat then. Conceal carry or not, I'm bringing it, right? And he shows up in the garden and he tries to defend Jesus. And he ends up running away. And Jesus rebukes him. Some people think that Jesus's rebuke stung and that was a part of the shame for Peter of him in the fire of the high priest, the courtyard of Caiaphas' house denying Jesus three times. And the shame he would have felt after I let Jesus down. I denied him three times. The rooster crowed. And he said, I'm going fishing. I'll never be... he can forgive me, sure. I know he forgave me. But the shame. So now he's fishing, which is what Jesus called him away from, by the way.
Jesus comes to him in John 21 and he does this amazing miracle where the fish get multiplied, get huge catch fish. And then he cooks Peter breakfast and the rest of the disciples. You're not mad at me? You don't want to berate me? You don't want to tell me I'm out? He says, come eat. And that's what Jesus says to you today. Come and eat. Come eat with me. Come hang out with me. Look me in the eyes. And there he says, I have a question for you. And he's like oh, here comes, right? Why'd you let me down like that? How could you? Are you ashamed of yourself? And instead Jesus says, Peter, do you still love me? Do you love me more than these? Which I think he's speaking to the fish. You love me more than what I called you away from still? Are you still willing to follow? Do you still want to follow me? Do you want to be used as a preacher? Peter said, are you kidding me?
There's no way you could ever want me to be a preacher after I let you down like that? He says, do you still love me? Are you still interested? Because if you are, I am. It's as simple as that. If you are, I am. Follow me. Go feed my sheep. Go take care of, nothing's changed. You think you let me down? You didn't let me down. I knew this was coming from before I ever called you. Look me in the eyes, see I'm not mad. I made you breakfast, bro. Hang out with me and then you got some sermons to do. This changes nothing. All the things that you think are a barrier to you shining the light of the Father is why he picked you. He wants to overcome those thorns. He wants to overcome those weaknesses and to use you.
So when you keep your eyes on him, when you find your light it dispels the shadow. And then you can illuminate the world with a light that's borrowed. Because like the moon, we don't have any light all our own. That's why Jesus said, you're the salt of the world. How many of you love the taste of salt? Nobody. We love what salt brings out. Salt is like the moon. It's not about it, it's about what it brings out and what's his worth. So as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we have that light to shine to the world. And that is why today is the last day shame has held us back in Jesus' name.
And Father, we thank you. We thank you for the calling to glow, to shine, to season. To no longer be hidden by shame, but to walk with you. To eat with you. To receive from you all you have for us.
If you're listening to this message and you would say I respond to this, I don't want to let shame hold me back anymore. Could I just ask you to raise a hand up in the air? Just honesty. I resonate with this. I hear shame's voice speaking and I'm going to take those thoughts captive. Speaking my new identity in community with empathy as the Holy Spirit leads me.
Thank you, Father. Bless these. Bless these. Set them free. May you anoint them with oil. May you cover them. May you be their shield and exceeding reward. May you pull them under your wings.
You could put your hands down. And I want to invite now those who have never made a decision to follow Jesus to do so. Today's your day of a new beginning. If you never accepted Jesus into your heart or having known some verses and known some things about God but having wandered, today is your day to rededicate your life to him. I'm going to pray a prayer. And I'm going to invite you to make this your faith. To make this your faith moment. Your salvation as you invite Jesus into your heart. Say this with us. Church, pray with us:
Jesus, I accept you as my savior. Your blood is the payment for my sin. Your resurrection, my source of power. I turned for my sins. I turned to you in faith. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for new life. I give you mine.