Speaker: Tim Bollinger
Scripture: Genesis 19:15-29

From the series Part 3

See Sermon Transcript
Additional Resources
Genesis Part 3 Reading Plan Download
Genesis Part 3 Dig Deeper Questions Download

Full Sermon Transcript

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems like you’ve lived an entire year in one week? That’s what this last week has been for me. Some of you that you’re friends with me on social media, you know that I had the privilege of going to the Detroit Lions game last Sunday with my son Henry. And many of you have asked, how in the world did you get tickets to that game? So I just thought I’d let you all know someone actually gifted the tickets to Henry, my 13-year-old son and he was kind enough to let me go with him. But that was one of the absolute best experiences of my entire life. It was absolutely electric in Ford Field and being in there with so many people. And I’ve never been to a sporting event or a concert where literally every single person stayed till the very end.

And I think part of the reason is nobody actually left early is because I think there was still this level of doubt that maybe just maybe the Lions would screw it up. And so everyone wanted to make sure the clock turned zero before we actually started moving back to our cars and leaving for the evening. But it’s interesting because Monday morning I woke up to frozen pipes in my house. So that was fun and it derailed all my meetings that I had planned for that day. And then Wednesday, Lisa and I got an airplane and we went to a conference down in New Orleans and we just got back last night. So it’s been quite a week. Anyone been to New Orleans, by the way? Several of you. All right. That’s my first time there. We’re going to talk about that a little bit later in the message. But my name’s Tim. If you’re new here to Shepherd’s Gate, you get the privilege of being the lead pastor and I’m just a middle aged bald guy trying to navigate this world and be a Jesus follower.

And I have a wife and two boys and trying to be a good dad, husband as well. And one of the things that we love doing here at Shepherd’s Gate is going through books of the Bible. And so we’ve been going through Genesis and we call this part three because we’ve been taking breaks as we’ve been going chapter by chapter, verse by verse. And really the month of January, these messages kind of overlap one another because we want to be very intentional about taking our time, reading every word, really soaking into scripture because we believe that the Bible is the way God speaks to us, that we go to the Bible and we allow it to dictate how we are to live our lives. And so if you’re new to Shepherd’s Gate, this is basically our approach here.

When it comes to difficult text in a passage of scripture, as a pastor, as a church, you really just have three options. The first one is you just ignore it. You just say these passages make us uncomfortable or we just really don’t want to offend anybody or we just really don’t think they’re relevant for today. So we’re just going to go ahead and skip them. ¬†We have now found ourselves in a day and age when a lot of people are taking passages where the church has thought historically about certain scriptures and they’re just dismissing them. And whoever thought that this would be happening at an exponential level in our time, and I’m going to talk more about that later in the message as well, or what we believe God has called us to do is to actually speak the truth in love because these are the words of Jesus. He says, “You speak the truth in love.”

And certainly there’s churches that focus on the truth and they hammer people down and you give you the truth, truth, truth, truth, but there’s no love. Simultaneously, there are also churches that will just preach love, love, love, love and they’ll ignore or dismiss the passages that give us the truth. And so the questions that we’ve been asking are simply this, how does God deal with continual unrepentant sin? When we turn the pages of scripture, we read the accounts of real people that lived at real times, how does he deal with this? And when does he decide that his mercy has come to an end? Are there certain patterns that we can pick up? And then finally, what do we do to those that seem to just reject Jesus? They want nothing to do with Jesus. They’re in our families, they’re in our neighborhoods, they’re in our places of work, they’re in our schools, wherever the case may be, they just want nothing to do with Jesus, even though we believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes with the Father, but by him, that’s his teachings, those are his words.

How do we live in that world? How do we navigate that? How does God call us to do that? And so today we’re going to be picking up where we left off last week where we are looking at Lot, who’s Abraham’s nephew, who’s been with him since the very beginning when they left their country in all their comforts and they’ve gone through all of these experiences. And last week we looked as two angels actually came to the city of Sodom. This is where Lot is living with his family. They come to his door, they have a conversation with him, there’s an exchange, there’s some things that take place. And the angels basically tell Lot, you need to get you and your family out of here because God is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. And so this is the verse we left off with last week, verse 14 that says, “When Lot went out and he spoke to his son-in-laws who were pledged to marry his daughters, he said, “Hurry,” key word, “Hurry, get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy the city.”

But his son-in-laws thought he was joking. That’s not going to happen. It’s not actually real. You don’t actually hear from God. You don’t know what you’re talking about. It says, “With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot saying, “Hurry,” you can get the kind of urgency of this, “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here because apparently they’re not planning to go with you, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” And so here’s part of the answer to one of our questions, that there is a point in time when God’s mercy does come to an end. That as you read scripture over and over again, he gives people chance after chance after chance, he will do anything to gather every single human being to himself. But the truth is, there comes a point where God knows the human hard enough to know that they are not going to turn to him, and so he has no other choice but to administer his justice. Now, what’s so interesting about this is here you have Lot.

He’s been told the city’s going to be destroyed. God literally sends him two angels, not one, two angels. Dude, you’ve got to get your family, you’ve got to get out of here. This is not going to be good for you. And look at what happens. Look at what Lot does. It says, “Lot hesitated.” He paused. He needed a moment apparently to just kind of take it in and really, was he really prepared to leave everything that he had worked so hard for? Was he ready to leave the house that he had built and the wealth that he had amassed over time and all of the possessions, the earthly possessions that were supposed to make him feel good and bring comfort to his life? And here he is. He says he’s hesitating so much so that the angel has to grasp his hand in the hands of his wife and his two daughters and they had to lead them safely out of the city. And the only reason that this took place was because the Lord was merciful to them. That once again, God was at work in his life even though he was still clinging on to sin, even though he was still clinging on to the things of this world.

And as I read this, I think about our lives. Like I honestly truly don’t think we really understand how sinful and broken we are sometimes. We are so good at puffing ourselves up, living these kind of just prideful lives of look who I am and look at what I’ve done and look at my family and look at how good everything is around me and how comfortable we make our lives. That when God comes along and through the Holy Spirit begins to convict our hearts and as he gently and lovingly says, “Hey, I have a better way. There’s an area of your life that I want to actually work on and there’s some things that you don’t even realize. There’s some potential in you, but you’re still holding on to your possessions. You’re still holding on to your own ego. You’re still holding on to your own accomplishments. You still think the goal in life is to build your kingdom here on earth. And I got to tell you something that’s not actually what you’re called to do as a follower of Jesus.

Our goal and my goal is not to create our own kingdoms. Our goal, our ultimate purpose is to shine the light of Jesus in our dark and fallen and broken world. And so the reason you have the house that you have is because God has strategically placed you in that neighborhood because there’s neighbors in your street and in your community that don’t yet know Jesus. The reason you have your education, you have the job that you have is because there are people at your place of work that don’t know Jesus and you may be the only source of light. The reason you’re in the family that you’re in, maybe it’s a dysfunctional family. Maybe you have gone through just an incredible amount of hardship. Yet somehow by God’s grace and his mercy, he has placed you in that family because he is on the cusp of performing a miracle. He’s on the cusp of taking one of your family members by the hand who you never thought would ever become a follower of Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, this is the year that you see that transformation take place. And so God is going to give you the courage and the strength to bear with it and to stay with it as he works in and through you so that more and more people would come to know him.

Look, it says, “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives.” If someone tells you to flee for your life, what is the posture you should take? If you’re in a movie theater and someone yells, “Fire!” what’s the first thing everyone does? No they don’t. Not in our day and age. You ever notice when the fire alarm goes off, everyone just assumes it’s a false alarm? We just had this happen this week. The fire alarm went off at church. And I was like, “Interesting, nobody’s actually coming out of their offices.” Is it because we just know we love Jesus and if we get burned up, we go, “Jesus?” Or we’re so conditioned to think, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.” And again, we talked about this last week and you can see it here in this passage. This is what happens when we put ourselves in environments and around certain people and around certain sins that just constantly we know are wrong. Because what happens over time is our souls begin to erode. And pretty soon what we actually believe was sin, all of a sudden we say, “Oh, that’s not sin anymore.”

And the things that we say and the actions that we commit, all of a sudden the things that we even learned as kids and if you were fortunate enough to grow up in church and what your Sunday school teacher taught you or your pastor taught you or what you know the Bible says, all of a sudden you begin to question and doubt, you begin to hesitate. Is this really true? Does this really lead to death? Is God actually going to punish me for this sin in my life? Don’t look back. Don’t stop anywhere in the plain. Flee the mountains or you will be swept away. I can’t tell you how many times in scripture it tells us specifically when it comes to sexual sins to flee sexual immorality. You read the New Testament over and over again, flee sexual immorality, flee sexual immorality, run with all of your might if you were caught up in a sexual sin. Look at what happens. Lot says to the angels, “Know my lords, please. Your servant has found favor in your eyes and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains.

This disaster will overtake me and I’ll die. Look here is a town near enough to run to and it is small. Let me flee to it. It is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” Very similar to Abraham with his prayer to God and asking God to save Sodom if he can just find ten righteous people here, we find Lot pleading with the angels saying, “Hey, can you just let me go to this place? Can you just let me relocate here?” The angels said to Lot, “Very well, I grant this request to you. I will not overthrow the town you speak of, but flee there quickly. There’s still this urgency because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” This is why the town was called Zor. By the time Lot reached Zor, the sun had risen over the land. So as soon as he gets there, it says, “The Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens.

Thus, he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities and also the vegetation in the land.” Listen, when it comes to God’s judgment, when God decides that he is done, he completely destroys things. I mean, there is no semblance of anything anymore. In this moment, in this grave moment of human history, God’s mercy came to an end. God’s justice was administered. As we look at a passage of Scripture like this and we examine our own lives and we think about the sins that we get ourselves tangled up in, we think of the sins that we even commit as a community or as a country. God help us to stay on our knees. Help us to stay humble before you. Help us to, again, go to your word and allow your word to dictate to us what is sin and what isn’t sin and how we are to live our lives with our time on this earth.

See, what’s so interesting is oftentimes you look at Sodom and Gomorrah and of course, yes, the focus is on sexual sins. But do you know that that was just one of many sins that they were actually committing? If you go to the book of Ezekiel found in the Old Testament, it says this, “This is the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, lazy. They did not help the poor and needy.” Isn’t that interesting that that would anger God? That our lives would be so focused on ourselves instead of those in our community and maybe even helping those that we don’t know? That we become so self-absorbed in what we have. Instead of giving a portion of that and using that to bless others. “They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” Go to the New Testament, the book of Jude, it says this, “Justice Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities which likewise indulged in sexual immorality.”

There he goes. He points back to the Old Testament and pursued unnatural desire. What we looked at last week with Romans chapter one, “Serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” This is what we talked about week one. That there is a heaven and there is a hell. And that eternity for all of us hangs in the balance. That one day Jesus will come back, scripture tells us, and when he does that those who have faith in him will meet him up in the clouds and we will forever be with the Lord. And after his church and his church is combined with him in the clouds, those who he’s given faith, he will destroy the earth that we are currently on. Remember that. I know some of you, you love your house. I love my house.

You like your countertops and your kitchen cabinets. It’s not really my thing. Some of you like your 80-inch television. You like your boat, your cars, your camper, your cot, whatever it is that God has blessed you with. All of those earthly possessions will be destroyed. And believe it or not, the more possessions that you own, all it is, it’s more kindling that you’re giving God to one day destroy. That’s the perspective you should have. It’s not that you can’t have those things, but as you look at those things and you say, “God, thank you for blessing me with this and thank you that I get to enjoy this blessing that you have indeed given me.” But your main purpose, again, your main purpose on this earth is to be a witness. Those that don’t know Jesus, the hope they can have in Jesus will come to a saving knowledge of him because the day that Jesus is coming back is getting closer and closer and closer and closer. Now, something really bizarre happens in the next verse, okay?

Genesis 19, 26 tells us, “Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” How many of you think that’s just odd? Five people, okay. The rest of you, this is normal? This is one of those scriptures where you’re like, “Man, this is, I mean, first of all, you just told us that God rained down burning sulfur and destroyed two cities.” Yes, we believe that to be true. And now you’re telling me that Lot’s wife turned back and she turns into a pillar of salt. Why was God so gracious with Lot? Why even has Lot paused? Did God allow the angel to still grab Lot’s hand and his wife and his two daughters? Why didn’t he just turn Lot into a pillar of salt? Why do we need Lot? The promise is through Abraham. Why is Lot so significant to the story? Why is he so significant to the account of what God is doing in our world?

God, why does it seem like you’re being gracious to one person in the same way it seems like you have no mercy or grace for the other person? And here’s the answer to that. God knows every single human heart. He is the only one that can peer into your heart. Sure, as followers and believers of Jesus, we can look at each other. We can kind of see if there’s fruit in your life. We can tell by your actions and by your words and by the way you conduct yourself if God has really gotten a hold of you or if you’re starting to stray and you’re starting to go down a road that you shouldn’t go down. But at the end of the day, God is the only one who knows who has faith and who doesn’t have faith. God is the only one that is able to do what nobody else can do and for us, this is a warning. For us as we read this, we should think about the gravity of the sins that we get caught up in.

So often the things that we allow in our lives, again, what we’re allowing ourselves to be exposed to and whether that’s on the television or on our cell phones or the environments that we place ourselves in. Maybe the secret sins that nobody knows about and yet this morning God knew that you would be here, that you would be watching online and as I am saying these words, this is Him reaching out to you with love and mercy saying those are the areas of your life that I want you to hand over to me. Those are the areas of your life that you are not to keep a secret any longer. Those are the areas of your life that are only hurting you. Says early the next morning Abraham, he got up and he returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. This is when he had prayed to God and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward the land of the plain, he saw the dense smoke rising from the land like smoke from a furnace.

And I can’t even imagine that moment for Abraham. All that he’s been through, all that he’s experienced up to this point, even knowing the grace and mercy that God has given him and now in this moment knowing that there is a point that God’s mercy comes to an end. And so when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. God did the rescuing. God did the saving. Just as God rescues us and He saves us. Now when I look at this passage in our day and day, when I think about what’s happening in 2024 and just the last 10 years, and one of the things that we do in the church world is we kind of watch the statistics. We see what’s going on not only in our community and our little local church here in Shelby Township, but we look about what’s going on in our state and what’s going on in our country.

If you didn’t know, Shepherd’s Gate is actually part of a larger church body called the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. And I know some of you are brand new and you say, “Wait, what? What did you just say? Can you say that again?” Okay, I’ll say it again. We’re part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We’re a Lutheran congregation. We have been since the very beginning. And as you see the statistics pouring in and you can go back just, you know, since COVID, you can even go back to the 1980s and you can see seismic shifts that have taken place in mainline church denominations. And when I read something about Sodom and Gomorrah, my mind often goes to God, what are you doing in the church in America? Why is the church in America being shooken up? Why does it seem like we are in retreat instead of advancing? Why are all the numbers in decline and very few mainline denominations are seeing growth? Here’s a chart to kind of help with this.

Some of you might know these letters and what they represent. You may not. If you look at the top right one, it says ELCA. That’s the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Our denomination often gets confused with this one because when you show up to the front, oftentimes on the sign, it’ll say such and such Lutheran Church. And so our churches can have the appearance, but we have completely different doctrine. We have completely different beliefs in how we approach the scripture. In fact, it was just several years ago that the ELCA church decided that the word of God is not infallible anymore. That it’s actually open to cultural interpretation. And so as a pastor of a community, you can go to the scripture and you can kind of read it according to your culture and the people that live in your context.

And what’s happened over time is what it’s done, of course, is what it’s done. It’s a slippery slope. As soon as you take that out, as soon as that no longer becomes your guiding star, all of a sudden, everything else that’s in the scripture is compromised. Everything else that you read that the church has believed for 2,000 years. If you go down to the bottom right, that’s United Methodist Church. You can Google this later on today. There are thousands of United Methodist churches that are leaving the United Methodist denomination, local congregations, because they’re changing their doctrine. Specifically what’s happening, and just those two that are on the screen right there, is the infallibility of scripture, but also the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. And so the people are saying, “Wait a second. Hold on. Time out. This is what we were always told our entire lives.” Why all of a sudden are things changing?

Why all of a sudden are the things that we were taught as kids, and all of a sudden we’re just saying 20, 24, 20, 23, whatever it is, that these don’t exist anymore? But the church got it wrong for 2,000 years? See, this is why we say it’s so important to be in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. And it’s not because we’re better than anybody. It’s because, man, we are scared to deviate from God’s Word. I live in fear, to see you know, a healthy fear of staying within the boundaries and the guidelines that God has given us in His holy Word. I do not know better than God. I do not know better than what God has written in His Word and what the church has always historically believed. Because this is what’s happening in the church in America. Things that we never thought would have been possible are seeping into churches.

Clergy, ministers are changing. Doctrines, they’re changing creeds. They’re changing belief systems. In fact, here’s one I want to show you. The sparkle creed. I believe in the non-binary God whose pronouns are plural. I believe in Jesus Christ, their child, who wore a fabulous tunic and had two dads and saw everyone as a sibling child of God. I believe in the rainbow spirit who shatters our image of one white light and refracts it into a rainbow of gorgeous diversity. I believe in the church of everyday saints as numerous, creative, and resilient as patches on the eighth quilt, whose feet are grounded in mud and whose eyes gaze at the stars in wonder. I believe in the calling to each of us that love is love is love. So beloved, let us love. I believe, glorious God, help my unbelief. Amen.

For Taylor Swift and her Swifty fans and all music that inspires us, help us shake it off when life takes a turn, remind us that we can still make the whole place shimmer, and when the time comes, help us confess and say, “It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem. It’s me.” God of love. God of prayer. How many of you have seen this video? Look at that. It went viral. It’s from a church in Adina, Minnesota, so it’s in the Midwest. It’s an ELCA Lutheran church. This is what I’m talking about, folks. And imagine people walking into a church that didn’t grow up in church, that maybe doesn’t have a foundation, and trying to sort these things out, and what do these things mean, and all of a sudden, everything’s changed. Stories in the Bible have changed. The views that we’ve always historically held are just discarded. If you follow this stuff, it was the Church of England that decided that they were going to bless same-sex couples. They were the first ones.

It kind of came out and said they were going to do this, but then they said that they’re not going to let them wed in the church, which makes absolutely no sense to me. In fact, I’ve watched YouTube videos. I’ve watched people that were born and raised in church, and now they’re in the camp of inclusion and different interpretations of Scripture, and they’ll say it’s highly annoying when people do this. They’d rather a church just pick one or the other. Either you’re in the inclusion camp or you believe, well, we believe the Speak the Truth in Love camp. How about this? This just happened last month, right? You probably saw this in the news. The pope approves blessings, same-sex couples. This isn’t Catholic bashing. Trust me, I went to D. LaSalle.

My mom was raised Catholic. I got enough Catholic in me, okay? This is just stating the news. The pope, the Catholic church, the one that’s always been conservative, they’ve always shared our values when it comes to the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of marriage. You’re going, “Wait a second. What’s going on, God? Just last month, is this now going to start another slippery slope? Where is this going? Where is this leading?” Isn’t it interesting that there were some bishops that rejected the pope’s stance, and so now there’s this turmoil going on. Most of these bishops, they live outside of the United States. There are African brothers and sisters who look at America and they’re asking, “What the heck are you doing to your country? What the heck are you doing to the church in America? Do we need to send missionaries there? Is there anybody that’s speaking the truth and love? Is there anybody that knows the Bible? What happened to you guys?” Literally, they’re thinking that we’re just crumbling and going to hell.

They’re scratching their heads and trying to figure out what this looks like for America in the future. I’ll tell you this, in our denomination, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, I said I was at that conference this week, 125 pastors and wives. It’s a network of all of the larger churches within our denomination. They told us these are our new numbers coming out of 2023, that half of our churches, out of the 5,600 churches in our denomination, our worship attendance is 50 people or less. 75% of the churches in our denomination are now 100 or less in weekly worship. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, folks, is on a 60-year decline. You know what our issue is? We argue about worship styles. That’s what we argue about, stupid stuff. Instead of being about God’s business and trying to figure out how to get people mobilized into the community so they can be salt and light and share the message of hope that people desperately need.

Here’s what’s so crazy about that conference that I told you about. We didn’t know until a week before we went that at the same exact time that we were there this last week, they were having an LGBTQ convention at the same exact hotel. We had one room that we ate in and one room where we had our conference. The entire rest of the convention hotel was an LGBTQ convention. And they had taken over the city. They had signs everywhere. I mean, it was absolutely incredible. I saw things in the lobby. I saw men with dresses with hairy legs. I saw men with dresses with shaved legs. I saw people dressed up as Indians, people with crazy costumes, outfits. And I walked by the different conference rooms and my wife kept saying, “What are you doing?”

I’m like, “I just want to look in. I want to see what’s going on.” And I saw all of these different things taking place. And here we are, 125 of us, leading the larger churches in our denomination in a conference room trying to figure out how we’re supposed to reach the people that are right outside our doors. And my heart broke because I know that there are people in that lobby that are just broken. Who knows what kind of childhood they had? Who knows if they had a crappy dad or a crappy mom or a terrible upbringing? Who knows if those people have loved ones that are praying for them, that they’re on their knees every single night just asking the Holy Spirit to do something because obviously they’re confused. Obviously, there’s an identity crisis taking place in their life. And why we had to create this whole crazy world that we now have. And those of us that have kids, you know, because you’ve told me how frustrating it is to try to navigate this with them.

I hate the fact that I have to have conversations with my 13-year-old and 10-year-old that I do. But here’s what God always does. Every single time. I mean, one of the chances that that would be going on at the same time we’re in New Orleans. One of the practices, we always go to a local church. And we get to tour the church. We get to hear about the ministry that God’s doing and how they’re reaching people for Jesus. And so Thursday night we loaded up on buses and we went to this church in New Orleans. And there was this pastor there that was so fired up for Jesus. And he preached his guts out. And he talked to us about the people that come to his church. He told us a story about an 80-year-old transgender person that comes to his church high on crack.

And she just comes and she goes to the front row and she just lays out in the front row of the church and she just passes out. And he had to train his church and teach his church, hey, at least she’s in church. She’s here in the gospel. And they began to build a relationship with her. And she knew that the pastor cared about her. And she knew that the pastor actually looked at her as another human being. And she said, I know I’m going to die because I can’t get over this addiction. I know that eventually crack’s going to take me. And she’d come week in and week out. And he said, just even this last Easter, she showed up to church and she even had an Easter hat on. She went right to her pew and she just went right to sleep. They haven’t seen her.

¬†Pastor’s convinced she’s passed away. But with conviction in his eyes and in his voice, he’ll tell you, I firmly believe she’s in the arms of Jesus. She couldn’t fix herself. She couldn’t, you know, whatever demon she was facing, whatever the things were that were plaguing her life, it was by God’s grace and mercy that she got led to that church and that they were able to have interactions with her and they were able to minister to her. Go to Friday morning. We go to breakfast and then we go into our first session and we come out of our first session for a break. And Pastor Greg, this is the guy whose church we went and visited. By the way, he’s an African American. He’s one of only 75 black pastors in our denomination, which don’t get me started on that, but he’s one of 75. And I said to him, I said, “Oh man, last night was so humbling to be with you to watch as you’re literally at the gates of Sodom and Gomorrah. You’re at the gates of hell rescuing people.” And I said, “Yeah, wasn’t that a great session that we just had this morning?” And our guest speaker, he was a mega church pastor. He started with a church of 150 and he grew it to 22,000.

They got 14 campuses. So that was our morning session. He goes, “Oh, I actually wasn’t able to be here because the LGBTQ convention actually to come and to speak for one of their sessions.” And I went, “That is absolutely incredible that you have a relationship with the people in your community, so much so that they know what you believe to be true of the word of God, but they know that you love them unconditionally, that they would invite you to come and speak.” I said, “Brother man, I wish you would have told me I would have loved to have gone to your session to hear the way that you are being used to be salt and light in your community.” I tell you this too, this pastor that’s fired up for Jesus, he’s 96% blind. It convicted me, made me wonder, are we just getting too comfortable? We really passionate about the loss. We know we got drug addicts and alcoholics in our comfortable suburbs.

We got people addicted to sexual sins. We got people that are cheating on their spouses. We got everything the inner city has and everything that New Orleans, Las Vegas, California, you name it has. We just hide it. And I’m just wondering if we’re going to be a church that’s going to be honest with ourselves. Are we first going to come clean and examine our own lives and get the Sodom and Gomorrah out of our hearts? And then are we also going to be a community that’s going to go to maybe some of the darkest places to some of the people that we think are completely beyond God’s mercy and grace? And are we willing to give up our time and our financial resources so more and more people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? I believe we will. I believe that’s the way this church was started. And I believe 2024 church, I’m serious, can be our best year yet. We’re going to have to humble ourselves. We’re going to have to stop making it about us. And we’re going to have to start living our lives in view of who He is and what He can do in our community.