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Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Drugs & Alcohol”

October 16, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #364 “Like a River Glorious” & #366 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Testimonies – Who has a story of being weird and/or winsome with the world lately?



“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (1Pe. 4:3-4; NKJV). The world will think we’re strange, weird, that we don’t do what they do.

But there’s a weird that’s just plain weird, and there’s a weird that’s intriguing, curious… winsome. That’s what we’re going for.

How are Christians winsomely weird when it comes to authority?? How about purpose?? What about speech; how do we talk differently than the world in a way that’s not nails on a chalkboard, but catches attention? What makes us stand out with regard to our relationships and conflict?


Tonight we’re going to talk about drugs and alcohol. The world has a way of thinking about drinking. We as Christians should too… and it can’t just be the world’s; we can’t uncritically go right along with the world’s practices when it comes to alcohol. The world around us also has a way of thinking about pot. How are we supposed to think about that? That’s where we’re going to.

First, I just want to set forth a series of questions we need to ask with regard to anything kind of substance that we take into our bodies. The world pretty much just asks one question – Does this make me feel good? Or maybe, Does this make me look cool? We have to go deeper. Here are 8 questions I thought of:

(1) Is it legal? Romans 13:1 tells us that our general attitude is to “be subject to the governing authorities.” If a government says a particular food or drug is not safe, we better have a good reason to disobey them. Is it legal?

(2) Is it necessary? Is this something I need to live, like food and water? The Bible assumes that there are basic necessities that we need. 1 Timothy 6:8 – “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Is it necessary?

(3) Is it good? Is this something I can ask God for and thank him for? Is this one of the good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Is it good?

(4) Is it healthy? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20). Our bodies are not inconsequential. Matter matters. And so we should be good stewards of our physical health. Is it healthy?

(5) Is it an addiction? We must ask ourselves when it comes to anything we put into our bodies – can I say No? Or has this thing become my master? 1 Corinthians 6:12 – the Corinthians were saying, “All things are lawful for me,” but Paul said, “but I will not be dominated/enslaved by anything.” Is it an addiction? We’re not supposed to be addicted to anything.

(6) Is it intoxicating? Does it impair your ability to think and change your personality and make you lose control of yourself? In other words, does it make you not you, transcribe you into a different state that you return back from later? Does it do something unnatural to me? Does it have “a psychoactive affect… [on] brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior?”[i] This concept comes from the Bible’s prolific treatment on alcohol, which we’ll look at in a second. Is it intoxicating?

(7) Is it an idol? Is your use of this created thing an escape from God? Are you turning to this thing instead of God for the things that you are supposed to look to God for?

(8) And then lastly there is the question – Is it wise? It may be legal, in the category of necessary, good, healthy, non-addictive, not intoxicating, and not an idol, but still not wise to partake of for different people in different situations.


Okay, so let’s start by running food through these questions. Is food legal? Besides raw milk in certain states, I can’t really think of much that we would want to eat that was prohibited by law.

Is it necessary? Yes. Without food and water we will die. God made us to need it and so it’s not wrong to eat. In fact, it is right and good.

That’s the third question – is it good? In the New Covenant, there are no foods that are unclean (cf. Mk. 7:19). In 1 Timothy 4:4, talking about food, Paul says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” Jesus teaches us to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). You can eat and drink to the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Mt. 11:19). Food is good!

Is it healthy? This is where it starts to get tricky. Our understanding of health is regularly changing. But we generally know that an exclusive diet of sugar is bad for you. Proverbs 25:27 – “It is not good to eat much honey.” And to eat excessively (gluttony) is not good for you. But a well-balanced diet in moderation is healthy.

Which leads into the next question we have to ask when it comes to foods – Is it an addiction? Are we able to exercise self-control when it comes to eating? Can we go without sweats or meat for a while without being cranky and jittery? This is where fasting is helpful. Food is a necessity, so we need it in a sense, but do we neeeed it? “Is it an addiction?” is a helpful question to ask when you’re asking, “Should I eat this?”

Next, is food intoxicating? I suppose certain mushrooms might be psychedelic. But for the most part, food does not transform our character or radically alter our performance. I may be a little sleepy after eating a lot of turkey, but it’s not illegal to drive a car under the influence of turkey, and rightly so. I may run faster if I had a good breakfast, but the International Olympic Committee has not banned Nutrigrain bars? Food can make me feel better, but I’m still me after a meal.

Is food an idol? Not inherently. This gets to motivation. Philippians 3:19 talks about people for whom “their god is their belly.” Am I looking to ice cream to comfort me instead of the Lord? Or am I finding my righteousness in eating paleo? There are many ways our food consumption could be idolatrous.

And then there are endless other questions of wisdom. Do I need to become a foodie to win foodies (cf. 1Cor. 9:19-23)? Is shopping at Whole Foods the best use of my money? Is it unethical to eat chickens from farm factories? ??


Just for fun, let’s run arsenic through this. Is arsenic legal? Probably not; idk. It’s not necessary for survival, in fact the opposite: it kills. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. But here’s what it has going for it – it’s not addictive (as far as I know). I don’t know how to answer the intoxicating question. If it was taken in order to control one’s own death, I suppose you could say it was idolatrous. It’s safe to say that poison is not wise.


Okay, here we go. Alcohol: is it legal? Yes, for those 21 and older.

Is alcohol necessary? No. You can live a full life without ever tasting a drop of alcohol. One thinks of the Nazirite vows in the OT (cf. Nu. 6) and even Samson who was a Nazirite from birth (Jdgs. 13:2ff).

But are alcoholic drinks good? Yes, they are. Psalm 104 – “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Alcohol was used in OT worship celebrations (Dt. 14:26). Jesus provided wine for a wedding (Jn. 2:1ff) and used it in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Is alcohol consumption healthy? Well, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1Tim. 5:23). I’m not sure what the rationale was behind that. Alcohol has a germ killing quality and in some places it is healthier to drink than water. Some studies are showing certain medical benefits of moderate alcohol intake, such as reduced risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol use has a massive list of adverse health effects, including heart disease, cancer, liver damage…

That brings us to the question – is it an addiction? Alcohol has a powerful addictive potential, especially for certain people. Alcoholism is a very real problem that has destroyed many, many lives. It’s a cruel, cruel slave-master. The Bible is very clear that we are not to be drunkards (i.e. 1Cor. 6:10). If you have a drinking problem, you need to admit it and seek help. And if you are a recovering alcoholic you should stay far away from alcohol. And if you don’t have an issue now, you should be very careful that you don’t become addicted to alcohol.

Sixthly, is alcohol intoxicating? Yes, it has that chemical property. Unless you’re missing the enzyme to break down alcohol, you can have a drink (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1 shot of liquor) and still be in control of all of your faculties. But multiple drinks move you beyond enjoying the pairing of a nice red with a steak and get you into the realm of intoxication. You act different. Your hand-eye coordination and reflex times are significantly affected. This is clearly off-limits according to the Bible. There are stories of bad things happening when people are drunk (i.e. Gen. 19:30-38). And there are verses like Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Being influenced and controlled by alcohol is wrong. We should be under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, but one of the works of the flesh is drunkenness (Gal. 5:21). So never drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication is a clear way that Christians will be weird to much of the world.

Is it an idol? It can definitely be. Most people drink in order to forget their problems; that is looking to alcohol for something you should look to God for. We drink in order to lighten up and have pleasure instead of finding pleasure in God. It’s also a way to dull the conscience and do and say the sinful things that are in your heart without a filter: anger, sex…

Is it wise? It depends on your genetics. Your finances – I think if you look at Christians’ budgets the amount of money we give away is about equivalent to the world’s entertainment budget, a big part of which will be alcohol. Drinking water saves big time on eating out and groceries so you can spend that money elsewhere. Something to consider. It depends on your upbringing and who is watching. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Can you get drunk? No. Are you free to drink? Yes, but use your freedom wisely. If you don’t drink, don’t feel superior or self-righteous.

One thing I worry about is people who grew up in Christian contexts and for various reason are not that experienced with alcohol, going to another extreme in their 20s and making it an obsession. And why? I think it is largely because they are listening to the world tell them what is cool and desperately wanting to be cool. Magazines and movies portray drinking as cool, sophisticated, smart, fun… and too often Christians let the world tell them what is cool.

I went to a Christian college that required students to pledge not to drink alcohol. One summer I worked for a company selling books with several other students from our school. Some of us sold enough books to win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, over Spring Break. We showed up and there the legal drinking age was 18. It was an ethical quandary. Several students were excited by the opportunity. One night we went on a booze cruise and everyone was getting sloshed. To be in the world meant going to the party. To be not of the world meant not getting drunk. And in this case not even drinking, because we had given our word that we wouldn’t. That made people curious and opened up conversations about Jesus. But one student from our school was wasted and ended the night making out on top of a girl on the beach. People noticed that too. Brothers and sisters: let’s be wise and winsomely weird when it comes to alcohol consumption.


Let’s quickly walk through the 8 questions with tobacco… What do you think? Is it legal, necessary, good, healthy, addictive, intoxicating, idolatrous? What does wisdom say?


What do you think?


Legal: starting January 1 if over 21.

Necessary: no

Good: maybe CBD??

Healthy: maybe CBD??

Addictive: yes

Intoxicating: This is the real issue. There is almost no way to ingest or inhale THC without getting high. And there’s really no reason to do it apart from the experience of being stoned. It takes somewhere around four beers to get drunk. And some people like the taste of a beer. But nobody is eating cannabis brownies for the taste. And it takes only four puffs of a joint to get high (less than 7 mg of THC). So… what does the Bible’s prohibition against getting drunk mean for Mary Jane??

Idol: yes

Wise: no…  medical??

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment, Gender, Sexuality, & Family, Bioethics, Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Entertainment…

Prayer – Get in groups with those who live in your neighborhood: Tri-Taylor/Medical District, Little Italy/UIC, ABLA/University Village, East Pilsen, West Pilsen, outside the UIC Area…

Pray for forgiveness for ways we’ve sinned with food/alcohol/drugs and ask God’s help to change something you’ve been convicted by…

Pray for our church to be filled with the Spirit…

Pray for opportunities to witness to the superior pleasure of Christ to those who get drunk at the company Christmas party or high as marijuana is becoming legal…


Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Relationships & Conflict”

October 9, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #11 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” & #397 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Testimonies – What is something that you have read in God’s Word lately that has hit you?



Can someone explain what Winsomely Weird means??

We’ve overviewed the concept, then talked about authority and purpose.

Our authority is not the world. Our authority is not ourselves: either our reason or our experience (how I think or how I feel). Rather, our authority is God, as he has revealed himself in Scripture.

And our purpose is God. Our purpose is not self-actualization, self-fulfillment, self-promotion. We live for God’s glory and others’ good… and find our true selves in the process.

Then last week we ran the concept of speech through that grid: weird yet winsome, based on the authority of the Bible and for a noble purpose. After I left I thought of another negative use of our speech that I forgot to mention – quarrelling. Quarreling is a major category in the Bible. Here’s just one example: Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14 to “charge [people] before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” Using our tongues to fight is a bad use of our speech.

The world loves to fight, to argue, to debate and bicker. Have you noticed? Just listen to a ‘talk show’. But Christians’ speech is to stand out in this matter. I think this may be one of the biggest areas currently where Christians are not distinct. Christian Twitter is full of quarreling. Paul tells Titus to “remind [people]… to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Tit. 3:1-5).

So there you have another subcategory of speech in which we should be weird to the world – not being quarrelsome. And that leads us perfectly into today’s topic: relationships and conflict.


Let’s actually take the topic of conflict first. James asks in James 4:1 – “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?” And then he gives the answer, “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). So interpersonal conflict comes from passions, desires within us that are out of whack. Remember what the purpose of the unregenerate world is? SELF! I want to please myself. Other people get in the way of that, and so there is tension, conflict, hurt feelings or worse – violence. That’s the way of the world.

Now, the believer still has these passions within him or her. But he or she also has the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is working to put those passions in their proper place. Instead of interpersonal conflict, we are called to an internal conflict, to fight, to wage war against the passions and desires of the flesh. This is what Galatians 5:16ff is about. There Paul lists 15 works of the flesh. Now here are 8 of them (more than half!): enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy. Those are all words describing conflict. Did it ever strike you how much the Bible identifies sin with people not getting along?

On the contrary, notice how much of fruit of the Spirit applies to relationships: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The sweet fruit of the Spirit is a people who are not at odds with everyone.

Now, the reality is that because we still struggle with the flesh, we are not perfect. We still have conflicts with others. We’re sinners; they’re sinners. We can be irritable and easily annoyed, prideful and argumentative, selfish and unthoughtful… and so we can sadly have fights. But what do we do? We reconcile.

The Holy Spirit will not allow us to be okay with broken relationships but will push us towards reconciliation. Jesus taught – “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). Christianity is all about reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “God… through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” We offended God and sinned against him, but he took the initiative to seek us out and bore the cost of our sin himself to restore us to right relationship with him. And so we who have experienced that, of all people, will be peacemakers, laying aside our wounds and grudges and bending over backwards to reconcile.

Is there anyone you need to be reconciled to right now? Ask the Spirit to bring to mind any situations, any people from your past or your present that you have a broken relationship with, that God wants you to seek reconciliation with…

Now sometimes it’s not possible. It takes some willingness on behalf of the other party. That’s why Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Do all you can.

And reconciliation doesn’t always mean restored trust. It may not be possible to be restored to regular contact. And it doesn’t mean there are no consequences. I think of cases of abuse and unrepentant, gross sin. But it does mean no malice; we hate nobody. We don’t retaliate (“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also;” Lk. 6:29). And we don’t take revenge, either by our own hands or even in our hearts. In the next verses in Romans 12 Paul says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Rom. 12:19-20). We leave it with God and love all people, even our enemies.

And that is totally compliant with reporting to the civil authorities. That’s where Paul goes next in Romans 13. The government can enact God’s vengeance on someone. But we can’t. We saw this beautifully illustrated last week in the Botham Jean case, when the brother of the murder victim hugged the convicted killer in court and told her about Jesus. The state serves justice; but we extend grace. Now that’s winsomely weird. It doesn’t come from us, but from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because of our experience of the gospel of grace, believers in Jesus are to be weird in the world because of the way we deal with conflict. We fight our sin instead of fighting each other. And when we do have grievances, we pursue reconciliation. We repent regularly and forgive freely. We have humility to see the log in our own eyes and not focus on the specks in others’ (see Mt. 7:3-4). We know that we need forgiveness all the time from God and his mercy never runs out, so we extend that to others. After spending some time with Jesus and catching on to this radical concept of conflict resolution, “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ [And] Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Mt. 18:21-22). It’s crazy, but such grace is really what the world is yearning for, and when they see it in us it is winsome.


So now let’s talk about relationships more generally. How does the world, for the most part, think of relationships? I say ‘for the most part’ because I want to acknowledge that there is a lot of common grace in the world and as a result there are many beautiful examples of relationships even among pagans. Non-Christians can experience healthy, loving relationships. But there is still a predominant way of thinking about relationships that prevails and permeates our culture. How would you describe it?

I think for most people, most of the time relationships are characterized as selfish, idolatrous, and convenient.

Selfish. Remember: the world’s purpose is to live for Self. Relationships then become accessories for self-fulfillment. So we pick our friends based on how they make us feel. Are they fun? Do they make me cool or connected? Or are they like me? If I have to be with other people, I want it to be as much like looking in a mirror as possible – same life stage, same age, same gender, same values, same interests, same culture. Friends are supposed to make life fun. And when it isn’t, I want friends who will be there for me. It might sound good, but it’s really still a self-centered motive. I want relationships that are some benefit to me. These leads to the next characterization of worldly relationships…

Idolatrous. Because the world does not know God, at least as the soul’s delight, constant companion, most intimate and durable and important relationship, then it looks to other things to try to fill that role. The world wants out of other people what they cannot ultimately give. We want friends and family to give us an identity, to give us joy, to make us complete. We’re aching for that experience of connection but because we refuse to find it in God we attempt to get it from other people, but that is a lot of pressure to put on relationships. And that’s why many people are very disappointed in their relationships – because they’ve looked for too much from them.

Convenient. And so, ironically, we treat people as expendable. The world views relationships as items of convenience. And if they become inconvenient, fail to fulfill us, don’t serve our selfish ends any more, we bail. Many people in our mobile society don’t have long-lasting relationships. Maybe a lot of Facebook friends, but not people that I’m actually responsible to and for.

Selfless (instead of selfish). On the flipside, followers of Christ are to view relationships as opportunities to be selfless. Philippians 2:3-5 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” What was Jesus like? “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” (Mk. 10:45). He didn’t seek out the cool people who could do something for him. He went after all kinds of people and loved them. He said, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (Lk. 14:12-14). That’s pretty weird, but the world will notice.

God-centered (instead of idolatrous). The only way we can do this is if we have been captivated by God and find in him our deepest fulfillment. Then everything else becomes subservient to God and not a surrogate god. I’m not trying to get something out of my relationships that I haven’t gotten from God. And then my relationships can all be in some way or another, pointing me back to God. I don’t become a Father to have little kids who make me feel good (HA!); I become a Father to get to know more of God the Father’s heart…

Committed (instead of convenient). A Christian knows the faithfulness of the Lord, that he has called you his friend (Jn. 15:15). And so he seeks to be a friend like that. Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We aren’t just in it for when it’s convenient for us, but there through it all.

This is what church is supposed to be. It’s not a place to be with people who are like you and make your life easier. It’s a place for Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, male, female… to serve each other and learn to lay their lives down for each other. Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.

And church is about God. It’s not there to meet your deep longing for companionship and fulfillment. It’s there to point you to the only One who can, the only One who can be with you 24/7, the only One who can truly get you and satisfy you. All of our relationships in the church are to be geared towards helping each other locate God in our lives.

When that is the case, lo and behold, you will find deep relationships. But they can only come as a gift from God that you are able to let go of. And they only happen after you make a commitment. This is what church membership is. You may not make me feel all excited, you may be hard to love, but I’m going to commit myself to you, to pray for you, to meet with you and worship God together, to be there for you, even though I may have never have picked you as a friend. And in doing so we participate in something profound and otherworldly.

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn. 4:20).

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (Col. 3:12-15).

And a church – rag tags serving each other, centered on God, and sticking it out even when it’s hard – is extremely winsome. That’s what Jesus was getting at when he prayed – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21).

Really fast, maybe you thought this was going to be about dating. Everything I’ve said above applies to romantic relationships. The world by and large views the purpose of dating selfishly – I want someone that makes me feel the tingles. But we want someone to love. I remember when I first met Andrea I thought she was a certain person that I found attractive. On the second or third date I started to notice that the first time we met she was just having a really great day. In fact, her struggles are things that naturally turn me off. And I had a choice to make right then and there. Break it off and keep looking for this imaginary dream girl. Or dig in and love a real girl. It’s not easy, but it’s awesome!

The world thinks that a soul-mate can complete you. But we approach marriage as a means to the end of picturing the ultimate relationship, that of Christ and his Bride, the Church.

And the world views even marriage as something that can be discarded. Divorce is commonplace. Whereas we believe that marriage is a commitment for better or worse, in sickness and health, no matter what, till death parts us.

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Fitness; Bioethics; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Work, Money & Possessions…

Prayer – Count off 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Get in groups with others who have the same number as you.

Pray for God to help you reconcile with someone you have a broken relationship with…

Pray for supernatural strength to love others who are different from you…

Pray for our church to demonstrate a ‘compelling community’ to the world…

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays


October 2, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

“Let the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

– Psalm 19:4

Songs – #104 “Come, Thou Fount” & #49 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you’ve seen God do lately? [ABC]



This is our third Midweek Meeting. If you missed the first two, allow me to briefly recap, because everything else we do this fall will be run through a grid that we established the first two weeks.

We’re calling this series ‘Winsomely Weird’. Winsomein the world, engaged, rubbing shoulders with the lost with love, not sequestered in a holy huddle. Weird – not of the world, distinct, different, holy, peculiar, not just going right along with the flow of the fallen world. Winsomely weird.

Last week we saw how we as the church are to be winsomely weird when it comes to our authority and our purpose. Our authority is not our Tradition or our Thoughts or Feelings. We don’t take our cues from what our culture says. Our authority is God. And the only way for that to really work is to have a written revelation from God. It can’t be subjective personal impressions – “I sense God telling me this;” “Well, I feel God telling me this.” Submitting to Scripture makes us weird, but it doesn’t have to make us repulsive. It’s actually a strangely beautiful way to live, under God’s ancient authority and not setting oneself up as the authority.

And then with regard to purpose – the world lives for the goal of pleasing Self. Express yourself, defend yourself, love yourself… But we live for the honor of the One who lived and died for us. It’s a noble cause that is bigger than the small pursuit of Self, but it will definitely make us stand out.

A Foreign Language

Today’s topic, at your request, is speech, the way we talk. You’ve heard how the term ‘barbarian’ came to be, right? The Greeks and Romans listened to the foreign cultures talking and it just sounded like gibberish to them: bar bar bar bar to them. So they called them barbarians. They talked weird. Likewise, Christians, who are citizens of heaven, speak with a strange tongue to the ears of this world. People will think we talk weird. They will notice our accent. “You’re not from round here, are you?” “No, no I’m not.” We’re aliens and strangers. And that will make many mad – “Go back to where you came from.”

But, have you ever heard a foreign language that you didn’t really understand, but it sounded kind of cool? Maybe even made you want to learn it? That’s what the language of the kingdom of God is like. Weird, but winsome, intriguing.

The Word of God on the Words of His People

If the Bible is our authority, we must look to God’s Word to tell us how our words should be winsomely weird. And the Bible actually has a lot to say about this topic. There’s no way I can cover it all here. If you want, do a search of all the times that ‘lips’, ‘mouth’, or ‘words’ occurs in Proverbs. It’s a major theme!

First off, we learn from the Bible that words are powerful and they matter. Genesis 1 – “And God said, ‘Let there be…’ and there was…” Psalm 33:9 – “He spoke, and it came to be.” God’s words have creative power, and so do ours to a lesser extent, of course, but potent nonetheless. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true! Words have the ability to impact people, negatively and positively. And we will be held accountable for our words – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Mt. 12:36).

Let’s look at some of the negative uses of words that the Bible mentions, ways that the world talks that the church shouldn’t imitate?

LYING Let’s start with an obvious one. The 9th commandment – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The world uses words to try to bend the truth to suit themselves. We deceive, we spin, we flatter, we are selective in what we say… all designed to protect ourselves and manipulate others to do what we want. Do you know people that you just can’t quite totally trust? What does Jesus mean in Matthew 5:37 when he says to his followers: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” We are supposed to be weird in the world by being people who just tell the truth; we aren’t hiding or positioning or smooth talking… But this makes us winsome because it comes from someone who is secure in who he or she is in Christ; people who twist the truth are really insecure.

GOSSIPPING How much conversation among people at your work is about other people? If you take gossip away from most conversations, there’s not much left. Dishing gossip: Did you hear about…? Or digging for gossip: What’s so-and-so been doing lately? You want to know something privileged and if you do it makes you feel important to let other people know you know it. Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV). The world feasts on juicy gossip. We are will be thought weird if we say something like, “I don’t think we should be talking about this.” Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (NIV). Abstaining from gossip will ultimately make us winsome because people will realize that they can trust us.

GRUMBLING So if you take gossip away from water cooler conversations AND you also take away grumbling you really don’t have much left. Have you noticed how easy it is to slip in to griping about something – the weather, your boss, how much sleep you got, this, that…? The world conditions us to complain. To complain is cool. If you ask someone how they’re doing, most likely you’re going to get back some kind of complaint. Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Not grumbling will really make you stand out, but really who wants to be around someone who is always negative? Not joining in with cynical grumbling will be winsome, if a bit weird.

BOASTING So you’re sitting around the break room at the office and nobody is allowed to lie, gossip or grumble. Now take away boasting and bragging. Jude 16 talks about “grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; [and] loud-mouthed boasters…” The world loves to turn everything back to ourselves – to name drop, make sure people know what we know or what we’ve done, talk about our own experiences, our kids. We should stand out by being humble. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). But this is really winsome because, c’mon who really wants to be around people who are stuck on themselves?

COARSE JOKING So you’re in the locker room. No falsehoods allowed. No gossip. No grumbling. No boasting. And then you take away coarse joking! What could possibly be left? Ephesians 5:4 is very clear about this – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place.” That’s not how God’s people should talk. The world talks about inappropriate things all the time – off color humor, lewdness, sex… “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:7-8). The world will think we are prudes – C’mon! Lighten up! But they will notice that we don’t laugh at the jokes and don’t join in.

CUSSING And then there’s cussing. Can Christians say cuss words? Yes. But. Have you ever heard someone who’s vocabulary seems very limited? It happens among educated and non-educated alike, but every other word is a swear word. I think Christians should stand out among their peers by not using words that the world itself deems profanity. There is not a Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt not use the s-word or drop the f-bomb.” They are culturally defined words. But here I think two principles are helpful. The first is that of self-control. Control your tongue. Don’t blurt out expletives in anger or frustration when you lose your filter. It’s good to strengthen your filter and not let your lips be loose. The second is the principle of the weaker brother. Are all words the same? Yes, but to many, many people there are certain words that are off limits and would wound their consciences and cause them to stumble (Rom. 14). So be willing to give up your freedoms to not give offense. And I think it does more to our witness to stand out by not using swear words than it helps to join in using them. But wisdom is needed: are you trying to be cool in the world’s eyes by cussing? Or do you have a good reason to use a certain word.

Lastly, on the negative side of words, I would point out that there’s a danger in just talking too much. Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Just venting, yacking, blabbering, talking too much, running at the mouth can be a problem. I think this has a big application to our online life – blogs, Twitter, Facebook… Some people are just saying too much and need to hold their tongue. Choose your words wisely.

James 3:3-12 –

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

This brings us to the positive side of our words, our tongue, our mouths, our speech. If you can’t lie, gossip, grumble, boast, tell crude jokes, or cuss, what can you do? Just sit and say nothing? What is the tongue for? We saw last week that the world lives from Self and to Self. The purpose of the world’s words is to make Self look better, build up Self by tearing down others, draw attention to Self… But for Christians, our purpose is the glory of God and good of others. So we use our words to worship, to edify, and to evangelize.

WORSHIP I could pick one of hundreds of verses about this. Here’s one – “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Ps. 63:3). We are to sing his praises, speak of his wonders, ascribe glory due to him… The commandment to not use the Lord’s name in vain is a commandment to positively use our mouths to make much of him.

EDIFY Edify means to build up, specifically other believers. We are to use our lips to love others. Ephesians 4:29 is so helpful here – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We should use our words to encourage, teach, correct, affirm, rebuke, instruct, comfort each other. Isaiah 50:4 – “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.”

EVANGELIZE Paul says, “[Pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20). Our mouths were made to share the gospel with others. The gospel is a word, that must be vocalized.

By the authority of God’s Word, Christians will be weird in their use of words. We will not join in with the worlds lying, gossiping, grumbling, boasting, joking, cursing, and just frivolous jabbering jabbering. Instead, we will use our mouths to worship, edify, and evangelize. We will “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Is there a category I have missed??

Finally, I want to point out that we can’t just bite our tongues or force ourselves to say the right things. That is fake and won’t work. I want to remind us of what our Lord said – “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The words of our mouths reveal what is in our hearts. So we need (a) new hearts, but God’s grace, and (b) to keep hiding God’s word in our hearts (see Ps. 119:11), so that what overflows out of it is good, especially the gospel word of grace.

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Fitness; Bioethics; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Relationships & Conflict; Work, Money & Possessions…

Prayer – Get together into groups: people born in the West, people born in the Midwest, people born in the South, people born in the East, people born outside the United States…

Pray for forgiveness for the ways that we have joined in the way the world talks…

Pray for opportunities to edify others in the body…

Pray for boldness to open our mouths and declare gospel…

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Authority and Purpose”

September 25, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #241 “To God Be the Glory” & #132 “Blessed Be the Name”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you’ve seen God do lately? [ABC]



Last week we introduced what will be our theme this fall – ‘Winsomely Weird’. We started by looking at Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in John 17, that they would not be of the world, in other words that they would stay weird/different/distinct. But he also prayed that at the same time they would still be in the world – that’s where the winsome idea comes from. I found out last week that there is no word in Chinese for winsome. My Oxford English Dictionary defines winsome as “attractive, engaging.” I want IBC people to think and act differently from the sinful world and not just be assimilated and take our cues from the world… BUT also to not be intimidated, secluded, self-righteous, calloused, or angry towards the world. It’s tough to do both, but that’s my prayer and hope for our time.

We saw last week that one of the ways we will be weird is by maintaining certain types of binary thinking in a world that wants to confuse us and blur lines and makes things more fuzzy. Have you noticed how the world tries to do that to you? But there is a radical and essential difference between a believer and a non-believer.

And as believers we are to be growing in conformity to Jesus, which means being winsomely weird; in the world, but not of it; going against the flow, yet gracious; holy AND happy. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ quote about holiness. Sometimes we think that holiness means something like out of touch, cranky, and utterly dull. Lewis said, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once) it is irresistible.”[i] That’s winsomely weird – a holiness that is irresistible. And we have only met it perfectly just once: in Jesus! But by the Holy Spirit we can become more and more like him.


So today I want to talk about two topics together where Christians are to be winsomely weird. The first is in the area of authority. Who says? Where are you getting that from? How do you know? Not in the full epistemological sense of all that entails, but in things like ethics, or platitudes you find online or out there. What are some examples of ‘truths’ people dogmatically assert that seem unfounded?…

J.I. Packer in his 1958 book “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, sorts out the three possibilities when it comes to the topic of authority. He explains that you’re either:

(1) Evangelical

(2) Traditionalist

(3) Subjectivist[ii]

The Evangelical View, which I’ll explain in a moment is, you might guess, what we as Christians should be. The world operates within either the Traditionalist or Subjectivist views. The Traditionalist’s authority is Tradition. I believe this to be true because this is what has been passed down to me. This is our family’s practice. You can still see this kind of deference to ancestors in some eastern cultures. It’s found in smaller towns and less developed parts of the world. This is what it means to be a Sicilian or Nigerian; this is how we do things.

But by and large in the Modern West, especially in cities like ours, most people fall into the Subjectivist camp. We buck against traditional authority and go with what I personally think or feel to be true, what I like. So the Subjectivists have two forms or strands that people usually fall into and that history has seen vacillation between: Reason and Experience, the Rationalists and the Romantics. But both are at root a Subjectivist position – ME, I (either my rationalistic mind or my gut instinct feelings) are the authority. I think this is what we are mostly dealing with in our world. Would you agree?

Really, it means that the authority is SELF. I think. I feel. I believe what I want to believe and do what I want to do. Self. And it stems from the first sin in the Garden in Genesis 3. The temptation was to not trust God and listen to him define what is right and wrong, but to “be like God, knowing good and evil” for oneself. I don’t want to submit to God as my authority. I want to determine for myself. That’s what was going on in the decision to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is part of the essence of sin – the enthronement of SELF.

Now, for those who have been transferred into the realm of the Second Adam and had their sins atoned for, we are to be unlearning the practice of having SELF be our authority and re-learning the practice of having God be our authority. If God tells me something I don’t like, I defer to God. If God says something is wrong and my SELF (my warped conscience, my urges, my desires, my self-conception…) tells me it is okay, I listen to God.

But stick with me. Where it gets tricky is where you’re dealing with people who claim to be religious or spiritual, but are really still functioning Traditionalists or Subjectivists. Historically speaking, the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox are claiming Christianity, but are finding their authority in Tradition. Liberal Protestantism (a syncretistic religion that sought to blend Christianity and Modernism) is really just a religious form of Subjectivism. The historic Evangelical View is the one that actually lets God be the authority, at least in theory (we are all constantly struggling with this).

God must be our authority, but how do we know that God is our authority? There must be an objective TEXT that has meaning. The Bible, as God’s self-revelation, must be our authority. Otherwise, we may be saying that God is our authority, but we’re really just listening to the voice inside our head and calling it God. That’s what is going on in Blue Ocean Faith. Throughout the author talks about an actual, living, personal relationship with a communicative God. But then he says this God is telling him it’s perfectly fine to be gay, for example. And he points people away from Scripture. What’s going on here? It’s really just SELF, Subjectivism, Experientialism that is the authority, not God. Because God has spoken here and won’t contradict himself.

So genuine Christians will submit to the Lordship of Christ; God is their authority. And he will tell you some things you don’t like, and things that the world (that collective thinking of Subjectivists that can ironically become a sort of new Tradition) doesn’t like. And this will make you weird. It make you do things that are weird, but just that instinct to distrust SELF and submit to Scripture itself is weird.

But how is it also winsome? It’s so freeing to not be your own boss. To not have to figure everything out yourself but take what you’ve been given. For reality and right and wrong to not be shifting all the time. It is actually arrogant to think of yourself as the final arbiter of truth – I think this and you should too! Why, where’d you get that from? Me! To submit to God should make you humble – I didn’t make this up. It’s really freeing and humbling.


Okay, now let’s talk about purpose. Our world operates in a way that sets SELF up as the authority. It also sets SELF up as the purpose, or end goal of life. The sinful world doesn’t want to let God tell it what to do and doesn’t want to live for God. In my old nature, I don’t want to live for God’s glory and fame, I want to live for my own. How do we see this in the world’s slogans? (i.e. do what makes you happy)

What are your coworkers who don’t trust Christ living for?? What is the purpose of their life? Self-expression… Self-actualization… Self-gratification… Self-promotion…

Now, we need to be fair. Because of common grace, there are things the world knows and figures out that are true. And there are instances of altruism in the world, people doing selfless feats. But the general overarching telos or aim of the unregenerate person is to glorify SELF, to boost self-esteem or self-image, to get credit and recognition for SELF by being a good person, to take care of and protect number 1, to make yourself as fulfilled and comfortable as you can by yourself.

But the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q 1 puts it so well and accurately summarizes the Bible – What is the chief end of Man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. The world tells you to chase self-fulfillment, to do what’s best for you. But the Bible calls us to live for the honor of someone else, namely God. Where? What passages of Scripture come to mind that reveal our purpose is to be God-centered instead of Self-Centered?

“To live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1Pe. 4:2).

“He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Cor. 5:15).

“For none of us lives to himself… For if we live, we live to the Lord” (Rom. 14:7-8).

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20).

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10:31).

What are you tempted to live for? What does it look like to live so that God is glorified?

So we are to be weird in a world that is living for SELF, full of “lovers of self” (2Tim. 3:2), but being lovers of God, giving up selfish dreams, dying to self and living for the Lord. That is weird. But how is it also winsome?

First, living for God’s glory turns out to actually be the best, most joyful, happiest, most fulfilling thing for yourself as well. John Piper tweaked the Westminster Shorter Catechism to say that the chief end of man is to glorify God, by enjoying him forever. He coined the term Christian hedonism. We glorify God by finding delight in him. And when we do we get delight and God gets glory. It’s a win – win! And so we see things like Paul in Philippians 1:20-21 saying, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Win – win. We show the world a better way, because living for self actually leaves you empty; living for God is the only thing that can fill you up.

And second, again living for God instead of SELF is so freeing. You don’t have to carve out your own identity. You don’t have to make your mark on the world or be successful to be somebody. That’s so exhausting and crushing. You don’t have to constantly be trying to make yourself someone. You can find yourself by losing yourself. That is extremely winsome in an empty world of narcissism and full of meaninglessness…

What’s Next?

So as God’s redeemed people in Christ, we are to be growing more like Christ. And that will mean being weird and winsome. And today we saw that we will be weird in the way we submit to God and not Self, but that this will make us strangely appealing to a world with constantly changing standards. And we will be weird in the way we live for God and not Self, but that will make us strangely appealing to a world with no grand purpose.

What do you want to do next? After last week I got the ideas sent to me of Speech: swearing and gossip; Fitness; Family: annoying in-laws, idolizing children. I had Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Sexuality; Gender; Relationships & Conflict; Money & Possessions; Work; Bioethics…

Prayer – Get together in the Small Groups you’ve been in; make a new group(s) for all those who weren’t in a Small Group previously

Pray that we would be submissive to God as he has revealed himself in Scripture in everything…

Pray that we would live for God’s glory in all that we do…

Pray that the world would worship God because of our witness… Pray for specific non-believers by name…

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Overview: In the World, Not of It”

September 18, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #279 “How Firm a Foundation” & #164 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you saw God do this summer or that he’s doing now? [ABC – Audible, Brief, Christ-Centered]


Introduction: Jesus’ Prayer

Listen to how Jesus prayed for his disciples the night before he was killed; he said – “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:14-18). Have you ever heard the phrase – “in the world, but not of the world?” It’s not technically from the Bible, but it’s from the Bible. I believe it comes from this passage and it’s a helpful phrase.

In the world – Jesus said, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world.” So he didn’t want his followers to be extracted from the world, isolated from non-believers. In fact, he said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” So Christians are supposed to be in the world, like Jesus was. How was Jesus part of this world? Jesus was part of a family. He went to parties. He attended weddings. He worked a trade. He inhabited a culture. He listened to the news. He participated in the secular government. He studied nature. He engaged with all kinds of people. He expected his followers to also do these things.

But yet not be of the world. Not a part of the fallen way of thinking or living. To be distinct, different, standing out, strange, WEIRD. Because believers have God’s word, it sets them apart – that’s the meaning of the word ‘sanctify’. They live in the world but according to different standards and with different purposes. And this holiness will often draw the hatred of the world. Christians are supposed to be not of the world, like Jesus was. Jesus didn’t put his family before his Heavenly Father. He didn’t get drunk at parties. He saw spiritual significance in everything. He was free of material attachments. He engaged other cultures and critiqued his own. He didn’t put his hope in government. He didn’t deify nature. He called people sinners. And he was eventually killed. And he expected his followers to also be like this.

A Christian is supposed to be growing in Christlikeness in both of these ways: in the world, but not of the world.

Radical and Essential Difference

But first and foremost, let’s think about what a Christian IS. A Christian is someone who is in Christ! And this implies a fundamental distinction, a radical separation. The Bible talks in places like Romans 5 of the two categories of people in the world: those in Adam | those in Christ. There is a line that divides.

Can you think of other passages in the Bible that talk about a line or crossing a line or imply a difference between the believer and the unbeliever?

I think of John 5:24 – ““Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (NIV). Dead | Alive

Slave | Free (i.e. Rom. 6)

Elect | Non-Elect (i.e. Rom. 9)

Kingdom transfer: Colossians 1:13-14 – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Darkness | Light

Satan | God “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1Jn. 5:19).

What else? Lost | Found? ?

In the NT this all is supposed to be reflected in church membership and discipline. Using the keys of the kingdom to bind and loose (cf. Mt. 16:19, 18:18), we admit people into membership in the church based on a credible profession that all this stuff has happened, and we put people out of membership when that profession is no longer credible, thus trying to maintain the line.

This is very binary stuff and rests on what Francis Schaeffer called the methodology of antithesis,[i] which in some circles, especially in our city, is not very celebrated today. Holding to some level of binary thinking is one way that believers must be different than the world around us.

One of the books I read this summer is called Blue Ocean Faith by Dave Schmelzer.[ii] In it he talks about Bounded Set vs. Centered Set. Draw diagram…. There are some positives to centered-set thinking, but there ultimately are boundaries, as all of these passages show… You can’t get away from the Bible’s depiction of there being people in and out…

Our confessional statement – The New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which provides some theological boundaries, says it this way:

XVII. Of The Righteous And The Wicked
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

The most important question is: are you part of the righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ?

Sanctification: Weird

So there is something called positional sanctification, where someone is placed on this side of the line. But generally when we talk about sanctification we’re not talking about positional sanctification, but progressive sanctification – slowly but surely becoming more holy, more like Christ; becoming who you are.

And throughout Scripture that process is portrayed as thinking and behaving differently than the world. Can you think of examples?

Romans 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Not conformed to the world. Not of the world. Redeemed believers are to think and act different than the world, not just going right along with the flow.

1 Peter 1:14-19 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

James 4:4 – “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

1 Peter 4:2-5 – “Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.”

Christians are going to have to be thought weird by the world, because they don’t just go right along with it. They’ve been redeemed out of it and now march to the beat of a different drummer.

Further Sanctification: Winsome

So to recap, from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for his followers we see that they are to be in the world, but not of the world. If you are a Christian you are fundamentally different from the world by right of being in Christ. And now that you’re in Christ positionally, you are growing to be more like Christ practically, becoming weirder and weirder as we recalibrate our thinking and acting to God’s holy standards. This will mean taking many different positions than the people around you.

But there’s more to being like Christ that we can often forget. Jesus was not of this world and as a result was murdered by this world. And yet, and yet… even though he was hated, there was something also attractive about him and disarming about his death that has won over millions through the ages. Jesus loved the lost world in a way that made him winsome. And his followers need to grow in this same kind of love and winsomeness.

We’re not supposed to just be weird for weirdness sake. We are weird in order to win the world. We don’t feel self-righteous and holier-than-thou – Hahahaha you suckers! If only you could be like me! But amazed by grace and secure in who we are in Christ, even if the world ridicules us, we can be appealing to the world and pique their interests. What Blue Ocean Faith is correctly putting its finger on is the sad reality of cranky, unloving so-called Christians.

Jesus said, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you” (Lk. 6:26). But some people should speak well of you. What are some passages that teach this?

1 Timothy 3:7 says that pastors “must be well thought of by outsiders.”

Colossians 4:5-6 – “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

1 Peter 3:15 – “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:9-12 – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”


The vision statement at Immanuel when I got here was “to transform sinners into a holy people who find fulfillment for their hunger for beauty, meaning, and eternal satisfaction in the glory of Christ alone.” I want us to be a holy people, peculiar, set apart, not losing our saltiness, free to be weird… But I also want us to be winsome, kind, respectful, engaged, loving. I heard Tim Keller once say something like – Christians in the city should be getting praised and getting their teeth punched in all the time.

Jesus prayed that we would not be of the world, but would also be in the world, just like him. Another place where both of those realities are maintained is 1 Cor. 5:9-11 – “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” The church is supposed to seek purity and keeping the line clear. But we’re also supposed to be out in the world with the sexually immoral and greedy and swindlers and idolaters, because the grace of God can move anyone over that line.

So that’s an overview of the concept of ‘Winsomely Weird.” Now, where are we going from here this fall? I want to go through a whole bunch of practical topics that we are faced with where the world is pressuring us to conform and think through how we should be winsomely weird in that area. So I’m thinking of things like: authority & purpose, drugs & alcohol, entertainment, sexuality, gender, relationships & conflict, family, money, work, bioethics… What ideas do you have?

Prayer – Get together in the Small Groups you’ve been in previously; make a new group for all those who weren’t in a Small Group previously

Pray that we would be aware of the ways that we can be worldly…

Pray that we would be engaged with the world… The three non-believers you identified at the Summer Retreat…

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter