Central Christian Church Message Podcast

A Deconstructed Faith Part 2 | SELAH | Pastor Cal Jernigan

February 19, 2023 Central Christian Church of Arizona
A Deconstructed Faith Part 2 | SELAH | Pastor Cal Jernigan
Central Christian Church Message Podcast
Transcript

 Morning everyone. And one more time. Welcome, welcome to you here. Welcome to you on any of the sites, wherever you might be. And if you're online, we want to acknowledge you. We also know you're here, so it's good to be together. Hey, just, uh, I wanted to give you a word of, uh, reminder. Um, if, if for some reason you can't be here on a weekend and can't be in person on a weekend, I want to just let you know that we have a Thursday night services getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

More and more people are discovering it and um, it's just the same service. We just kick it off on Thursday, so if that works in your schedule, that will be awesome. I wanna begin by sharing a passage that, uh, intrigues me and inspires me, and, uh, it, it's just a single line in the Oath Testament, but I think it says so much.

Before I read it to you, I want to just explain one thing. It's about a group of people, uh, that are called the men of isaca. Okay? Now, the men of Isaca are the men of a family. So there were 12 tribes of Israel, one of the tribes, what was named after the guy Isaca. Okay? So it was his family line. And, uh, this one verse says something about those guys that, that family that I just think is intriguing.

First Chronicles 1232 says, from Iscar men who understood the times, And knew what Israel should do. Now what you need to understand is, is they were different than the other 11. That's what they're pointing out. So they're describing this one family, and they're going from those guys. Now, those guys, they, they had this ability to see what was happening and to know what it meant and, and what you ought do in response to what it meant.

They were an outlier. They were, and they had not wisdom. They had uncommon. They were willing to do different than everybody else. That's what you need to understand. And so I wrote this line just to kind of make this make sense. These leaders saw what others didn't, couldn't, or refused to see, and they then acted upon, uh, it in their best interests.

Now I'm telling you all that to say that we're gonna talk about a subject today, which is a continuation of the series we started last. That a whole lot of people just refuse to look at. They just refuse to see it. They don't want to see it, they don't want to talk about it, they don't want to do anything about it.

And I just think that is not the way to go on this. So the subject we're gonna talk about is, I, I think it's incredibly relevant today and, uh, I, I think every church is affected by the subject we're gonna, and I'll tell you what it is in just a moment, but every church is affected. Every church in this nation is affected.

I think we as a church are affected by, I think every Christian is affected. I think you're affected by this now. You might directly see it and you might indirectly see it. I think everybody here knows somebody who would go, yeah, that's what they're doing. Or you might be you. You might go, and that's exactly what I'm doing.

So what are we talking about? We're talking about a thing that's now been called deconstruction. Deconstruction or, or deconstructing your. . Now. I don't think it's something we should be afraid of. I think it's something we should be, uh, aware of and we ought to talk about it. Now. I gave you a definition of it last week.

Let me just give it to you. I gave you several definitions. Lemme give you one and I just need to review just real quick. We gotta pick up where we left off. Deconstruction is the process of going through everything you've ever believed about God and Jesus, the Bible, Christianity, all the doctrines, all the history, E everything you thought about it A and you're sort of rethinking everyth.

that's deconstruction. I'm processing differently now. I wanna say this, there's nothing new about this. In, in all, you know, there's nothing new. There's two ways you can deconstruct. You can deconstruct your faith permanently, and the Bible talks about that. I'll show you that in just a minute. Or you can just do it as a process, or, I'm rethinking stuff.

All right. Now permanently, let me kind of show you something. This is something Paul said to the apostle or to his, uh, kind of mentee, uh, a guy named Timothy. Uh, Paul mentored him and, and so he said, this Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you so that following them you may fight the good fight.

Holding onto faith and a good conscience. Now, some have rejected these and have shipwrecked. Their faith among them are harmonious. And Alexandria, or Alexander, excuse me, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blast him. Now here, here's what he's saying. Look, their, these two guys, their faith hit the rocks.

It their faith was shattered. Okay? And the point is, these guys are not coming back. Now, last week when I started this thing I told you about a guy named Joshua. And again, if you, I, I can't go through all we talked about last week. If, if you would be inclined, go back and listen to last week's message. But he was a guy who said, he's kind of started this, the verbiage of a current day of deconstructing.

He said, I'm deconstructing my faith. And then he said, uh, prior it was called falling away. Falling away has been around forever. Okay? He was a Christian and then he said, no, I'm no longer a Christian. I'm, I'm not that. And Jesus himself talked about this. He said, there's two ways to build your house.

Remember the end of the famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, he concluded it with, um, there's two ways you can handle what I'm telling you. , you can build your house on sand or you can build it on the rock. If you build it on sand, uh, guess what? It won't survive. It won't make it. It's in fact, this is what he said.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. So he's saying you have to be careful how you construct your life and what you build it. . Okay, so I'm gonna give you the big idea. Um, it's the same big idea that we started with last week, but now I'm gonna give you a second part to it.

Okay? The big idea is this, all faith is fragile until it's tested by fire, until it's been tested by fire. It's the fire that purifies your faith. So, so fire is inevitable for you to become the person God wants you to be. And until your faith has literally been shake.  and, and, and, you know, rattled, uh, and tested, um, it will not be as strong as it can be.

And so God knows this. I know this, you probably know this. So fire is not a bad thing. It's the thing God uses. Now, when people decide they're gonna walk away from their faith these days, um, again, there's a temporary walking away. There's a permanent walking away. Sometimes people permanently walk away their f from their faith, and sometimes people temporarily walk away from their faith only because they want to do things they know are.

And they want to clear their conscience, and so they're gonna disown their face so they can have that affair. They're gonna disown their face so they can do that embezzling. They're gonna un disown their face so they can, so, and they know what they're doing. They, they, it, it's excusing itself, ex sin excusing itself.

Alright? That's not what we're really talking about. We're talking about somebody who's. Wrestling with, uh, the faith and I don't know what I think about this anymore. So what I'm saying is, is I think in the last 10 years there has been like an uprising, an uptick in the number of people who are doing this thing of going, I'm just questioning deeply.

And, and then last week I told you there's some reasons why I think that's happening. Reason number one, again, I can't go through last week's sermon again. I just gotta get you to thinking an abundance of doubts. There's always been doubt. , but now there's like, there's a, an uptick. Okay. Um, uh, and I think the reason the abundance of doubts is because people have watched the church, uh, I think the church has misbehaved and it, they, they've watched the behavior of the church and they said, that's given me trouble.

How, how the church churches related to politics, how the churches related to political leaders, how the church, you talked about purity and the importance of, you know, character. We seem like we forgot all about that. Uh, people are questioning the behavior of the church in relation to justice, in relation to racism and all these kind of things.

So an abundance of doubts. That's kind of one factor. The second factor is a sense of disillusionment and disenchantment. We've become aware now, so if something happens in, uh, in the church, uh, on the East coast, . It used to be, it would take forever for us to ever hear about it. Or if it happened in Africa, you'd maybe never hear about it.

Now because of social media and the internet, we hear about everything almost instantaneously. Every problem that's anywhere going on in the church, you can become instantly aware of. Now you probably don't become, but you can and, and there are people who tr who kind of track this stuff, so, The things that you might not have been aware of in the past, now you're certainly aware of.

So we hear now about the moral, uh, failures of leaders in the church. It just comes out, you've discovered it. It doesn't take a long time. We, uh, become aware of the proliferation of abuse that people who call themselves Christians due to other people, and sometimes it's children, and you become aware of that.

We, we become aware now of the tendency of the church to always want to protect.  and protect its brand and its name, uh, at the expense of people, it's hurt. So all of these things we just go, I'm just a little disillusioned with church and I'm talking about the Capital C Church, not central per se, but just the church.

You just know about it. A third thing I think that is causing this is just, there's a desire right now, uh, for some people to just step away. I want some distance. I want to detach, however you want to word that. Remember the Southwest commercial use of, uh, airlines, you know, want to get away. There's, if people want to get away, I just want to get away.

Uh, the pandemic has certainly, uh, you know, created distance we've never had, and I just, I just want some distance and not sure distance is a bad thing, but I want to rethink. I want to process, and I, I, and let me say this, deconstruction does not have to mean demolition. Deconstruction does not have to mean destruction.

deconstruction is the process of rethinking what you've always been told. Now, here's the problem. The problem has been the typical reaction of the church to people who are going, Hey, I'm kind of rethinking my faith. The, and I. Last week I identified three things. Again, these are short list, these are not the long, uh, but the but three, the first response is discussed.

All of these are gonna start with the also disgust. The church is, you know, like just disgusted with you for questioning. And disgust comes out with anger and a kind of an attack and like, how dare you? Uh, and, and, uh, it's like a put down because I'm just, I catch, click my tongue at you that you'd even question that.

So, disgust would be one. The second one would be denial. What problem, what problem are we talking about? If these are not the droids you're looking for, you know, there's nothing to see here. , there is something to see here. Something is happening and it's not always good. Uh, so denial. And then the third is dismissal.

You know what? These people that are questioning their faith, let 'em go. You know, Jesus talked about the love of many will grow cold in the old, in, in, in the in days. See there's proof right here, there. They're never, they were never of us. So, you know, the wolves in sheep's clothing and um, people who dismiss just hold those who are questioning in.

Uh, just in, uh, contempt, like, I can't believe you're doing that. Now, here's what I need you to understand. This is crucial to the subject, okay? So this is the behavior of the church is causing some people to question. The validity of the church. Now, I, I, I need to be clear, it's not that God is under attack.

It's not like people are all falling away from God. All right? That's not the issue. God, God is fired. People are not angry at God. I'm just telling you, just talk to people. They're not angry at God. It's not God has done anything lately that's ticked people off. If you read the Old Testament, I mean, there were times he, I mean he, he smoked the hit tights and the.

Why would he do that? Okay, God's done no smiting of the Hitite lately, so God's fine. People are fine with God, and guess what? People are fine with Jesus. Jesus is not suffering of, you know, bad pr. The church is suffering bad pr and by association, our behavior is reflecting on Jesus, which I don't think makes him incredibly happy.

But I, I just want to say this, um, you suppose there's any merit to people's critique of the church, criticism of the church concern about the church? Do. Are we so blind that we literally cannot see what they're saying and can't acknowledge that maybe they're onto something? The the sad thing is, is what happens, and I hate this, I hate this, is that sometimes.

One of the hardest places to be genuine is in church. Now, stay with me. Uh, one of the easiest things to do when you come to church is just play a game. Just go through the motions. Just, you know, the preacher says something, you go, that's crazy. Uh, never happens here, but just some churches, they . Thank you, whoever that was.

Thank you, Denise. Thank you. I appreciate that. So the preacher says something, and, uh, but the, but it's not polite to say, I don't think I agree with that. I don't think that's right. Um, so what we do, uh, is that we just pretend to go along. We pretend to agree. We, we pretend to believe what we maybe don't believe, but there's no safety in saying I struggle with that.

I'm not sure I agree with that. I'm not sure that's right. I said, well, what happens is, is we come and we, and often we have that fight on the way to church. We've talked about, you know, you're at each other's throats and the kids on the way to church, and you can pull 'em in the parking lot and they say, Hey, hi

Great day. And so we come in and we're dishonest. And I, I, again, I just, Walter, uh,  said this, churches should be the most honest place in town, not the happiest place in. See, we tried to make sure it's the happiest place at the price of honesty. And I think he's onto something. So is there a better way to respond?

Where? Where can you find a safe place to process your questions about God? You know, tragically, if it's not in church, you know where it is, it's in a bar or is that a barbecue or it's, you know, but not here. I think tragic mistake. Now let me just, so let's just go. So these are the three subjects, you know, the doubts.

You know, disillusionment and detach, you know, all of that. Let's just look at this a little bit differently for the next few moments. Okay? Let's just talk about doubts for just a moment. I said this last week, there've always been doubts. Everyone who's ever believed in God has had to work through their doubts.

That's not unique, not new, okay? But, um, What's what's happened is, is in Christian culture, it's kind of been seen as a sin. If you question, it's a sin. If you don't just go along, it's a sin. If you have these concerns, it, it's a sin. If you go, I'm not real sure about, and then anything, you know, young, young Earth, older earth, I'm not so sure.

You know, the earth is as young as some people think it.  and, and so because of this, um, people go, well, I can't even believe you're questioning that. And, and we've literally made it a sin. But you know, what's I find fascinating is you read the Bible and I and I, I will make this statement. It's better if you can believe without having to work through a whole bucket loaded doubts.

That's a fact. But, but we somehow have made it bad. If you have doubts that you have to work through your doubts. That's a problem. I, I don't know if you remember this, but you know, Jesus, when he resurrected, he appeared and, uh, shocked his apostles and, you know, other disciples, and, but Thomas wasn't there and he missed the, you know, he missed the appearance of Jesus when he showed up.

They, when Thomas showed back up with the gang, they go, you, you have no idea what we just saw. Jesus. He was risen from the dead and remember his famous line? I will not believe. I could put my fingers in, you know, his hand, the, the wounds, his hands in his body. So then Jesus appears again and Thomas is in the house this time.

And then it says this in, in John 20. Then he said to Thomas, put your finger here. See my hands. Reach your hand out and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. And Thomas said to him, my Lord and my God. And then Jesus told them, because you have seen me. You have believed a blessed are those.  have not seen in yet.

Believe. It's better to believe than have to deal with all your doubts, but if you have doubts, we have to go. Okay, so this was the defining moment that ruined Thomas's life because he couldn't just believe what everybody told him. He had to see, he knew more evidence. I need to think more deeply about this.

See, we have relegated, we call this guy doubting Thomas. , like it's such a bad, he's a bad guy. He's the doubting one. He's doubting Thomas, you know, you might not know this, but he went on to literally spend his life winning people to Jesus. I don't know if you know this, but he was literally Flad when he died.

He died of martyr for the Christian faith. He, he got into heaven and you visited with him and he said, Hey, I'm Thomas. I was one of the apostles as you, I know you. And he goes, you know me. He goes, yeah, we talk about you back home. Really? We have a name for. , we call you doubting Thomas. He would go, you, you.

You could be kidding. Like this is not the defining moment of Thomas. This is what transitioned Thomas into being the incredible power for God. He was. But we go, Hey. He questioned. How could that have been Good. Is it there a way to doubt faithfully? Yes. Isn't there a way to doubt reasonably and be able to think more clearly?

It does. It have to be a sin. Could it be possible? Just, just a thought. Could it be possible that some of us are afraid to doubt because we're uncertain how the outcome would be and we're just afraid of what could come out of questioning and like, I don't know that I believe after our, could it be That's what's driving us to be so afraid of doubt.

I just need you to know, if you read the Bible, people doubted, Nicodemus doubted he, he actually sought Jesus out at nighttime, so was not to be seen with him in public. I don't think I can handle what my friends would say, but I have questions and he wanted him answer. John, John the Baptist. If I say John the Baptist, if you know any church history, any, you know, kind of the story of the Jesus John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus, John.

They, they, they had this incredible relationship and then they grew up together at more or less, and it was John the Baptist. Who pointed at Jesus and he said to the people, he said, behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And they, he literally said, look right there, that's him. Jesus comes over the hill or however it happened, and he's pointing him out.

And then he said, he's gotta increase. I gotta decrease. That's the guy that is the guy to keep your eyes on. But do you know that towards the end of his life, if you just read the Bible, do you know that he had questions? Let, lemme show it to you. Matthew 11, two. When John, now listen, who was in prison?

That's a very important point. Heard about the deeds of the Messiah. He sent his disciples to ask him are, are you the one to come or should we expect someone else stop and think about what he's asking. Are you the Messiah? And would you guys, would you go check out to see if Jesus is actually who I thought he.

That's what he's doing. So his disciples go to Jesus and ask Jesus some questions, and this is how it follows up. Jesus replied, go back and tell John, report to John what you hear and see now what he's answering here. Now understand this is prophecy made about the Messiah in the book of Isaiah. It's also when Jesus went into the temp, uh, went into the synagogue early in his ministry and he took the, the scroll from Isaiah and he read.

It. And he read this passage. So he said, basically you go tell him this is what you've seen. The blind received sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed. The death here, the dead are raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. That was the Messiah. Will do. That is what Isaiah said.

Blessed as anyone who does not stumble of me. So he says, go. Why would John the Baptist be questioning who Jesus. Because he is in prison and you know what's gonna happen to him within days he's gonna be beheaded. Would you die without answering some questions? Without asking some questions? Could a case be made?

Could a case be made that Jesus himself in the garden of Yosemite, so many on the night, he was betrayed when he was sweating drops of blood. And he was saying, father, is there any other way? Can this cut pass from me? Could you say he was doubting? Yeah. He knew exactly why he came. He's gonna die tomorrow.

They're gonna crucify, they're gonna so rack his body with pain. God, are we sure? Are we sure this is how it's gotta be? See, see, I want, I need you to understand is that, The doubt comes because of an investment in your faith. It matters to me. John's going, it matters to me. Just confirm some, answer, some questions.

So here's, here's the contention I'm making. If you can't work your doubts out in church, where exactly can you go to talk about it All faith is fragile until it's been tested by fire. It's the fire that purifies. Let's move to the next one here. I wanna keep moving. All right, so the second issue is, uh, I, uh, I, I'm a little disenchanted.

I'm a little disillusioned by the church. Is there any room in church for somebody to be able to say I'm a little bothered by that. I got some questions about that. I, is it unreasonable? To have questions about the church, is it unreasonable what you constantly are hearing or seeing of moral failure among leaders in the church that you go, Hmm, that doesn't seem right.

I, is it, um, ridiculous. When you see churches defend their leaders, uh, like spin the truth, tell, like, cover things up and make it look better than it is because we gotta protect the church and we gotta protect the name and we have to protect the brand. , is it unreasonable when, uh, you, you hear about local pastors that are doing, uh, unbelievably corrupt things that they should have no business doing?

Is it just, is it unreasonable to go, I'm a little disenchanted here by this. Is it unreasonable to be disenchanted when you discover that entire denominations have covered up the abuse to. Children, by leaders, by pastors, by priests, by whatever. Is it, is it unreasonable to go, I have a problem with that. I, I don't think the church should behave like that.

Is it unreasonable to be disillusioned about misogyny in the history of the church, how it's taken men and put 'em here in women and put 'em there? I don't know. Did you wonder about that? Is it unreasonable to be disillusioned about pastors who are more concerned about. Celebrity status and their brand as a leader, and you know their name over the name of Jesus.

Is it unreasonable? Is should that, is it unreasonable when you become disillusioned because the church seeks to find its place and power in politics and in political leaders instead of in Jesus, we need him as president because if he's not, What will happen is it unreasonably to be disillusioned the way the church has married itself to a political platform?

Now, I don't know what you think about all of those things, but I don't think it's unreasonable. Isn't there room to admit the critic of the church has a point that we should pay attention to? Now, listen carefully what I'm about to say. Isn't there something wrong with me if I don't question some of these things?

Isn't there something wrong with you? If you're not disillusioned by the abuse and by the moral, failure isn't something wrong. Let's just go one more now. Let's talk about the desire to deconstruct. Let me remind you, it might not be a bad thing to do some deconstruction. Let me ask you a simple question.

It's personal. What do you no longer believe about God that you used? Oh, no, I don't. I don't. I believe everything. You still believe in God the exact way you did when you were a child. Think about this. How many of you, I have no idea. Wherever you are, okay? Wherever you are. How many of you remember learning about Samson and you learned it on a flannel graph in Sunday School when you were a kid?

Anyone that's I see hands. Okay. Okay. Remember Sampson is strong and they cut his hair. Remember all this? He lost his strength. It's a great story until you actually read it in the Bible. You know what Sampson was doing is visiting prostitutes? No, no, no, no. Not Sampson. Yeah. And how dumb could he have been with Delilah?

Read the story. Just read the story. . But see, here's the point. We don't read the story. We just stay where we were when we were a seven year old being told it on a flannelgraph. Shouldn't you be learning some things you never knew and correcting some things you got wrong earlier. I, I don't know if you know this, but Jesus came along and said, he said, uh, you have been told you, you know, you, there's this, you've heard that it was said, but I say, Wait, what time out?

What? Wait, but no. You've heard all your life. You have heard it was said. An eye for an eye. In a tooth. For a tooth. But I say to you, and then he puts a new teaching. You have heard that it was said that adultery is a sin. But I say to you, anyone who you have heard that it was said, do not commit murder.

But I say to you that anyone who hates his brother, do you understand what he's doing? He's teaching you to deconstruct what you've always been. To learn something deeper, something new, something more important. You've heard that it was said, but I'm saying to you the tragedy I think for so many of us, and then I'm gonna say this with all this hurts, is we still believe what our parents told us about God.

And I'm not saying you got it wrong, but I'm saying they might not have got it all. But here's our problem. We're afraid to investigate. We're afraid to check it out, which is why listen carefully. So many of us will shy away from every discussion about God with anyone cuz we're so uncertain of what we were told and we're not sure we really believe it.

You know what? If you'll just take some time to go through your faith, you might be surprised at what you do believe in how deeply you do believe it. And you know what? When you're confident in your faith, you don't shy away from conversations. No one's gonna threaten you. You're just willing to go there.

But how many of us aren't willing to go there? Because I have to go through some uncertainty to get there. Here's the process of how it ought to work. This is the point. Early in your life or somewhere along the story of your life, you construct a faith in God. I'm gonna assume most people who are in here or with me or there, that you have a faith in God.

I don't think you probably wouldn't be here if you didn't. You constructed a faith in God. All I'm saying to you is that the days go by, you should go back and check the construction of your faith by deconstructing. Now remember, like a mechanic that would break an engine apart, not just to demolish it, but to be able to put it back there.

Like when you, when you're gonna re uh, uh, renovate your house, you know, you. Wipe that stuff out. You gotta take that old bathroom out. It's deconstruction. It was originally put there, but you go, ah, wipe it out and then rebuild construction. So, uh, construction, deconstruction, reconstruction. No, not everyone who tears it apart, puts it back together.

Let's be candid, but shouldn't we always be going through this? Isn't this what growth? What if the church, instead of causing you to be shameful, if you question what if the church did like what I'm doing right now, I'm encouraging you to think if you can't, I'm encouraging you to question. I'm encouraging you to go, don't just believe everything you hear.

I'm encouraging to invest in this your heart and your passion. What if the church became the instigator of that? And by the way, if you don't, uh, if, uh, if, how do I say this? If you are here and you belong to this, this is what is called a, um, uh, we went through the Protestant reference. You're a Protestant.

If you're here . Okay. I don't even quit calling me names . Okay. Uh, you are a result of what was called the Protestant reform. In, in 1511, uh, a Catholic monk by the name of Martin Luther challenged, questioned the Catholic church with 95 thesis. He posted on a, a door of a castle in, in, in Wittenberg, Germany, and, and he said, I think you're wrong on these things.

And it sparked what's known, the Protestant Reformation. Do you know what the Protestant Reformation is? Deconstructed Catholicism.

Where'd you get your faith? How deep does it go? Is it just surface? Does it go deep? I'm gonna tell you something about me that, um, I need you to listen carefully because people misunderstand what I say when I, that's why I don't say this a lot. I was very close to becoming a Mormon. I grew up in a home without a, a dad.

I've told you that story. I grew up, we never went to church. I had no church background whatsoever. But down the street for me, when I grew up in Albuquerque, there was a Mormon church. They had a Boy scout troop, a cub scout initially, and then a boy scout. I found my way in there. My, some of my friends from school had become a part of this cub pack at first, and then boy scout troop later, and, and, uh, I made a lot of friends.

I was a boy scout and I made a lot of friends through scouting and I had a lot of memories, but I didn't have a dad. Remember, I've told you this, but you know who stepped in for me? Uh, the scout masters of my Scout t troop, and they stepped in and they cared about me, and I understood this is scouting, but they, they were Mormon men is what they were, they were Mormon men, and I knew they were Mormon men.

And I was so drawn to those guys because of their goodness that I was just attracted to Mormonism. And, uh, they, they, uh, so my mom decides to move. . So I, uh, just beginning seventh grade, I'm trying to remember this on the fly, we moved from the neighborhood where that Mormon t troop met at that Mormon church and we moved to like seven miles away or something, I don't know.

And then I felt so disconnected. But you know what these Mormon men did? They circled around and picked me up every week to bring me to Scot Troop. They were the ones that made sure that I was always adopted into somebody's family. On those father-son camp outs I've told you about, they watched over me.

I, I don't know if you know this, but my very first message that I ever gave in public was in a Mormon church. I preached a message in a Mormon church. I was going for a merit badge In public speaking. I don't think I got the badge, and I don't think that's my career. But, so what am I telling you all this for?

Because I think Mormonism is right. No, I wanted it to be right. When I moved, we came to Scottsdale. And from Scottsdale I tried to find what I had and then I was kind of brought into a Christian environment and all of a sudden I started going, oh no, this is is so different. What? And I'm hearing and I'm like, I'm so confused.

It launched me on a journey to understand what do I believe? What do I really believe?  and I had to reach a conclusion. I don't believe Mormonism is true. Now, I hope that doesn't offend you. I'm not here to, Mormon is, Mormons are great. Mormonism is not the way of God. And I, I've read more books on this because I have so much invested, stood, and all I'm trying to say to you, do you just believe because somebody just told you, why do I get up here week after week because I believe this stuff deeply.

Now I'm gonna end this by telling you, uh, uh, uh, I'm just gonna give you an image I want you to keep in your mind, okay? And it's a story. You've heard the story. Uh, it's the story of Jesus walking on the water, but it's really not the story of Jesus walking on the water as much as it's the story of Peter walking on the water.

Let me read it to you. Okay? It, it's from Matthew 1425 to 33. Shortly before. Jesus went out to them. Now, the disciples were out in the, uh, the Lake of the Sea of Galilee, uh, lake Esk, they call it various names. Okay? They're out in the, the lake, so Jesus is before Don. It's dark. Jesus went out to them walking on the lake.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It's a ghost, they said. Then they cried out in fear, but Jesus immediately said to them, take. Hey, hometown guys. It's me. Don't be afraid, Lord, if it is you, uh, Peter replied, let let me, let me tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said.

And when Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, he is walking on water. Now when Jesus walks on water, you go, yeah, yeah, I get that. Peter walking on water. You gotta be kidding me. So he's walking on water, but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and he began to sink and he cried out.

Lord saved me immediately. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You have a little faith. Why did you doubt?  and uh, they climbed into the boat and the wind died down, and then those in the boat worshiped Jesus. Now listen, lemme explain this to you. Peter was doing fantastic. Now listen, as long as he was looking at Jesus, the minute he took his eyes off Jesus, he started paying attention to everything going on around him.

He saw the wind. So the effect of the wind, which was the waves, he's looking at the wind, he's looking at the waves. My guess is he turned around at some point when he is walking on the water, I think you turned around and look at the other guys in the boat and going . You know, at some point I think he was just going look at me

But when he was looking at them, he wasn't looking at Jesus. And what happened down, he goes, so what's the deal with de construction? You take your eyes off Jesus folks.  and you start paying attention to all the distractions going on around you, you're gonna go down. The problem is this, whenever we take our eyes off, Jesus, put them on anyone or anything else, we are going to sink.

Now I want to conclude this service. Uh, I need to have a family moment with you as a church. I need to tell you something that I do not want to tell you. I gotta walk you through something. I don't want to walk you. Let me begin by explaining this. So I made a decision, I told you this last week. I originally was gonna do this whole deconstruction, why people have trouble with the church.

I was gonna do it in one week. As I was writing this mess, I go, there's no way I can't, and I'm not sorry. I took it to two weeks. So I wrapped this up last weekend and then I was just like, you Were I getting ready to watch the Super Bowl at three 15 last Sunday afternoon? I got a phone call. And, uh, what I was told in that phone call absolutely devastated me to my core.

I just sat there in silence and in disbelief. I was then, and I am still absolutely heartbroken over what was told to me in that phone call, and I feel, and, uh, I have really no choice with integrity to tell you what was told to me in that phone. Before I do this though, I want to warn you that what I'm about to tell you can trigger something in you and uh, just want to prepare you.

This is what I was told Caleb Baker, our lead student pastor and associate preaching pastor, has been involved in an extramarital relationship for the past six months. And it involved a woman on our staff. Just let that sit with you for a moment.

I had to pull the board together. I had to pull the staff together and I said, we have got to talk and now I gotta pull you. And tell you this what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean we don't still love them both, and it doesn't mean that we don't care about them both. It doesn't mean that they're terrible human beings that don't deserve your time and friendship certainly doesn't mean they don't deserve your prayers.

What it does mean though is that they made a decision to be involved in something that is clearly.  considered sin condemned in the Bible, known to be destructive. They kept it hidden for months on end, and eventually though it came out, it did not come out by confession, they were discovered. Um,

it does mean this, that I and the other leaders of this church cannot. Turn a blind eye to this and act as if it didn't happen, or that somehow we didn't know or we didn't find out. What I also can't do is get up here and spin this to you some way that makes it sound less horrible

and therefore, painfully and with profound sadness, both of them have been released from our.

I want you to know that we are providing care for them. Focused care counseling. We're doing everything we can do for both of them and for Jess, Caleb's wife and I just church. They deeply need your prayers. This is so sad. Um, Jess needs your prayers. That's Caleb's wife. They're two daughters. One in three years old needs your prayers.

Caleb needs your prayers. The other person who is involved in this needs your prayer. This church needs your prayers. My guess is you're gonna go through some series of emotions like the rest of us have gone through. Uh, maybe in this order, maybe not. Denial and disbelief would be where it begins. Extreme sadness and.

uh, extreme disappointment in a sense of betrayal, anger, and frustration. And then you're gonna get left with about a thousand questions that you're not gonna find the answers to.

And I know this is devastating news. I don't know how else I'm fully aware. It's devastating news. I wanna say this, if you're a student and you're in here, um, if you go straight over to your CSM room or wherever on your campus where your students meet, your campus pastor and parents, if you want to go with them, you feel free to go with them Again, I can't explain why this happened.

I can't, but we'll do whatever we can do to help you to deal with what you just got told on Wednesday night. I wanna let you know that you're on every campus, your campus, your student, pastor, students, I'm talking to you, you come Wednesday night, they're gonna help you process through this as best as they're able.

If you're here and you want to talk to someone, I just want to encourage you, and when I say here, here, find John here. But on your campus, you find your campus pastor and uh, you know, you feel free to do that. I'm gonna conclude this service right now differently than we normally do. I'm just gonna conclude it and we're gonna pray and we're gonna be done.

I do want to say this, if you want to pray with somebody, and I know again, it's, it's hard. It's just as hard as it can be, but if you want to pray with somebody, then you come down front here. We'll have some people down to pray with you, and they'll have somebody where you are. Now, here's what I want you to understand.

The church, Jesus Christ founded the church will. Why I have so much belief in the church all my life, it will prevail. The gates of Hades cannot take down the church. Church will get through this and uh, God will take care of us. And the only thing I know to do in times like this is just turn it over to him.

So I'm gonna ask you if you would, let's stand, I will close the service out and, uh, we'll be done for today.

So father, we agonize over this. Um, we thank you for who you are. You are faithful, you are true. You are just, you are good. You are merciful. And God, we just cast all of this upon you because it overwhelms us. I know how this just, this destroyed the staff. When I told them, I know how this just broke the hearts of the board when I told.

And God, I know the pain this congregation is now feeling as I have to explain this. And God, my desire is to do this right? To do this with integrity and moral uprightness, God at the height or spin or twist or paint, brush strokes over it so people don't see it. It is as ugly as it can be. And God, I, I'm so sorry.

We are so prone to sin. We are all prone to sin. We're all broken.

Thank God, I pray for each and every person involved in this. I pray really first and foremost for Jess. I pray that you protect her and her little girls. Caleb's little girls, God just protect them. They're gonna have a a different narrative now in their lifetime that they're gonna have to live through.

And God, I pray that as we take care of Jess God, that you let her know she's not alone and she's cared about and her little girls. God, we pray for Caleb that you help him sort out whatever he needs to sort out inside of him and God just, uh, help him know that he's loved. But th this is just not something we can just brush by God.

I pray for this other person involved. I know she is devastated by this as well in her life. Uh, God, there's just broken us all over this, Lord, I pray for our students. Student workers, God that have had so much respect for Caleb. And then this God, I pray for the pray for them, and then I pray for us as a church, God bring us to you to kneel before you and simply ask your mercy upon us as a church.

God, I do believe with all my heart, your church is fine. Your church will prevail. But God, it hurts terribly and it's so difficult to deal. . And so we just fall before you casting this all on your feet and we go, God, you just gotta fix this however you will. Our confidence is in you. God, may we never, never take our eyes off you and see the distractions around us and somehow decide all the distractions are because of you.

No, you are faithful. You are pure, you are good. Maybe we keep our eyes focused on you. And if we do, we will get through this. So to that end, father, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you guys. Thanks for being here. Come on down if you would like to pray with somebody.