September 16, 2007
How many of you know what a gar is? A gar fish? You know, a fish with giant teeth?
ILLUS: Friday, I went fishing for a gar and a friend of mine hooked a big one. This gar was right under 6 feet long. So I grabbed the gar’s bill with these gloves and of course a gar has teeth all over the bill. That’s why I had gloves on. And I was holding onto this big fish, and the fish began to thrash and, well, I have a serious gar scar now.
You see all of the teeth? He busted a blood vessel. You know you’re a redneck if you have been bitten by a gar. The lesson is, don’t hold onto a gar. You’ll pay for it.
Friday was kind of a weird day. I kayaked after my gar injury and after I talked to my doctor and I was putting my kayak up, I fell off of a rock about 4 feet and totally messed my knee up and I fell into a fire ant bed. I have fire ant bites all over my legs.
Let’s talk about change. That’s why we’re here, right? We can’t change unless we admit that we can’t. We’ve got to say, “I can’t change.” Once we do that, then we’re on our way to change. A lot of us have played this game. I have played it and so have you. The cover up game.
We’ve covered up stuff. What are you covering up right now? If we could really look into your heart of hearts, what are you covering? Maybe you’re saying, “Well, anger. I rage on people. I have this toxicity about me. I have tried to count to ten. I have discovered this anger management book. But, you know what? It’s not really working for me.”
Others are like, “Okay, substance abuse is my situation. I’m covering up this abuse with some sort of substance and no one really knows my whole situation, my secret.” Others here could be addicted to sex or food or envy. Maybe that’s your deal.
What are you covering? What we cover God will uncover; what we uncover God will cover. What we cover God will uncover. What we uncover God will cover. God does not change. In fact, he said it in his Word.
So on one hand God does not change; yet, God is all about change. He sent Jesus to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves, to change. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins and shortcomings and cover ups and shams. He rose again. He offers us change.
He is the change agent.
Change comes from the outside in as he places the person of the Holy Spirit inside of our life. The Holy Spirit redecorates and reorders our lives from the interior to the exterior. True change is supernatural change; it’s significant change. It’s not superfluous or superficial. Change. What are you covering? What are you dealing with? What has you?
The Bible says in Proverbs 2:13-14, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
So if I cover my sin, I’m not going to prosper. Well, I don’t want to be in that situation, do you? I want to prosper, don’t you? So if I confess, if I tell the truth about who I am and whose I am; if I admit my shortcomings, if I declare that God is right in calling my behavior what it is—sin—and then I also tell God that I desire to sin, then I’m confessing. I’m coming clean. I’m uncovering my junk. Yet if I don’t, I’m not going to prosper.
So if I confess and turn from my sin, God will cover me because there is this exchange that takes place. Say exchange with me. “Exchange.” And this exchange is where change begins. We exchange our guilt for his grace, our failures for his forgiveness, our pursuits for his passion and agenda for our lives. That’s the exchange.
So true change happens when I say, “I can’t,” and then the exchange occurs. And from there we walk with the Lord.
In Mark 5, Jesus had this interaction with a woman. And it’s a very interesting story, because Jesus had all the crowds of people around him. They were all over him wanting him to answer this question, wanting him to heal, wanting him to bring people back to life and all of that. The disciples were around trying to control the crowd.
A woman, Scripture says, had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Every day she had been bleeding. She had some money, probably a good bit of money. And the Bible says she spent it on all of these doctors. So let’s pick up this story because it’s really, really fascinating.
Mark 5:25‑29. Verse 25 says, “A woman was there in the crowd who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had.”
Someone back in the day who was hemorrhaging was considered unclean. The religious elite would reject them. She would be rejected socially. She was considered a no count, a second class citizen.
Maybe you’re like, “Ed, I can identify with that. I feel that right now, because I have been hemorrhaging in my finances. We’re hemorrhaging in our marriage. We’re hemorrhaging trying to rear these kids. We’re hemorrhaging over this decision. We’re hemorrhaging over this hurtful habit. I can identify with her and I feel just an afterthought. I feel like just a face in the crowd.”
What do we do when we’re in a situation like that? What do we do? Well, I think we need to do what this woman did. This woman was holding onto things. She had to let go of some things to have this interaction with Jesus.
And, I really feel like some of the things that she was holding onto, some of the things that she let go are some of the sorts of things that we need to let go as well if we truly want change. And I know that all of us want change. What are you holding onto? Because the stuff that we hold onto can mess us up. Because if you hold on to the wrong stuff, you’re going to suffer. You’re going to suffer.
She had tried all of these futile attempts to change. She threw money at the situation, “I’m hemorrhaging; I will just throw money at it.” How many people do you know who throw money at situations? “Man, my marriage is not working. I will just throw money at my spouse. My family is not really hitting on all cylinders. I will just throw money at the situation. I am kind of bored. I kind of feel hopeless and depressed. I will just go shopping or something like that.”
You know, the rich have one advantage over the poor. It is very important. The rich know that money doesn’t satisfy. The poor haven’t figured that had out yet. The rich already know that. Money numbs us. It will give you fast, temporary relief from the aches and pains of life.
This woman tried it, and it didn’t work. And the Bible says, and this is a very, very deep line here in scripture. The Bible said at the end of verse 26, “Instead of getting better, she grew worse.”
You might be going, “Well man, I have thrown money at the situation, and instead of my marriage getting better, it is getting worse. Instead of my career getting better, it is getting worse. Instead of my life getting better, it is getting worse.”
Maybe you’re not throwing money at the deal. Maybe you’re throwing work at the deal. “Man I will just work and I will work and work and I will pull myself up by my own boot straps. And I am autonomous, and I am the man of the hour or the woman of the hour. I am just going to work and try and try and work and work and work.” But you know down deep it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
Maybe others would try to control people, kind of like people who are on a string. You’re more or less the puppeteer. You control all the situations and all the things in your life. You’re a control freak. “Yeah, I will just control him. I will just control her. I will manipulate my parents and manipulate that.” And you know in your heart of hearts it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
This woman was holding on to her futile attempts to change and she uncovered those. She let go of those. So say this with me. Say this, “End your efforts.” Now personalize it, “End my efforts.” That’s one of the things we need to let go of—this effort situation. But there was something else that happened.
She was dealing with a huge amount of shame. Can you imagine the shame that she was holding onto? Most people knew her situation—social outcast, hemorrhaging, rejected by everybody and their iguana. She was hurting.
Verse 27, “When she heard about Jesus she came up behind him in the crowd, and touched his cloak.”
Now that’s interesting. She came up behind him. She didn’t face him. She came up behind him.
Shame is wicked, isn’t it? “Man I’m just going to cover up, and I’m only as sick as my secrets, because if they knew what I was dealing with; if the crowd knew what I was bypassing; if they knew the stuff down deep that I was thinking about and that I have done before, there is no way that the Lord can really change me. There’s no way. I mean, it’s a pipe dream for him to ever try to use me again.”
That’s the devil, man. The devil is a liar. He’s the only one who is going to shame you or shame me. This woman had to fight the crowd, man. She had to let go of the shame and fight through the crowd, to swim against the current of the culture.
If we’re going to touch the hem of Christ’s garment, I don’t care if we’re coming up behind him or facing him, if we’re going to touch the hem of Christ’s garment, we’ve got to fight through the crowd. When we make a faith decision, we’re going to have to fight through the crowd. As we walk in sync with our Savior, we’re going to have to fight through the crowd.
Now we understand, there is a bad crowd and a good crowd. Oftentimes we get under the covers, we begin to cover stuff up and then we blame others, right? And then we bunch up with sinful sympathizers, people who just soothe our sin, “It’s okay, I would do that too, you know. That’s just what you have to do.” We lie to God and to others and ourselves. That’s the bad crowd.
Well, the good crowd is when we uncover and then we’re free. And now instead of blaming, we’re taking responsibility for our lives. “God I want to be honest before you, before others, and myself and God. I am not going to blame; I am going to take responsibility for my stuff. I’m not some victim, you know, it was my bad. And now I find myself being drawn to the encouraging empathizer, those people support me, those people who pray for me, those people who challenge me.”
That’s good peer pressure. There’s bad peer pressure and there’s good peer pressure. What kind of pressure are you around? It should be the good kind.
This woman, though, had to fight through some stuff. And she didn’t have that much faith. She didn’t have that much faith at all. There are different levels of faith. And some are like, “You know Ed, my faith is not that big.” Jesus said if we have the size faith of a mustard seed, he will touch our lives.
So many of us need to let go of the efforts and to stop our shame and all of our efforts and just take hold of the hem of Christ’s garment. Even if you come up behind him. Because when she touched him, do you know what Jesus said? He said, “Who touched me?”
The disciples are like, “Well man there are all these people around. What do you mean who touched you? What are you talking about?” He said, “No, someone touched me.” He knew the healing power had gone out. Jesus could have read the lady’s e‑mail. He is omniscient. He could have said, “It is you; you’re it.” He didn’t, though. And I find that really, really interesting.
Verse 29, “Immediately after she touched him her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” And then you go into verse 32, it says, “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.”
In all of our campuses right now Jesus is looking around to see who is going to touch him, who is going to grab the hem of his garment.
It says in verse 33, “And then the woman, knowing what happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.”
Isn’t that a power packed verse? She told him the whole truth. She faced Jesus.
Now when she did that, this girl put her cards on the table because Jesus could have humiliated her publicly. What did he do though? He honored her publicly. He honored her faith. He waited, though. He waited for her to let go of her efforts, to let go of her shame. He waited for her to make the move to go public.
Because privately, right, she touched the hem of his garment. Yet then suddenly, he looked around. He was waiting for a public response and this girl had some guts didn’t she? She knelt down and told him the whole truth.
It’s time for us to tell Jesus the whole truth. Again, you’re not going to shock him. He knows it already. You’re just agreeing with what he already understands. Yet, publicly, we have to say, “I’m standing for Christ.”
Is shame keeping you down? Name your shame. What are you ashamed of?
Sometimes it’s good to talk to shame. Have you ever talked to shame before? Just talk to shame. Just say, “Hey shame, who’s your daddy?” That’s a great question. “Shame, come back. Shame, look at me. Who’s your daddy?”
When you start locking eyes with shame, shame will come clean and tell you who his daddy is. Do you know who his daddy is? Papa Pride.
You show me somebody who is dealing with shame in any area of life, and I will show you somebody who is on the ride of pride. Pride comes before all sin. “You mean greed?” Yes. “You mean lust?” Yes. “You mean anger management problems?” Yes. “You mean substance abuse?” Yes. “You mean addiction to food?” Yes.
It’s pride. The ride of pride. And when we hold on to pride, it’s a wicked ride. You’re going to pay the price. You’ll have a gar scar. I guarantee it, if you hold onto pride. So shame and pride. The devil is a liar. We need to call him what he is, and we need to allow Jesus to see our faith even if we have to come up behind him and touch his robe. So end your efforts. Stop your shame. But there is something else.
We need to face our fear. Now personalize it, “Face my fear.” We all have fear in our lives.
I wrote a 300 page book on fear. It’s called Know Fear, K‑n‑o‑w Fear. We all face fear. And you’re going to have some doubts and questions. And you’re going to have some apprehensions. And so often we are paralyzed and tyrannized by fear. This woman had to step up.
ILLUS: I have some good friends. In fact two people, that are close to my wife and I, they have dealt with some serious issues, some addictive type issues. And if you could parade them across stage, which they would be happy to do, they will tell you that the best thing they ever did was when they ended their efforts, when they stopped their shame, when they faced their fear, and when they came clean and kneeled before Jesus and said, “Jesus, I want to tell you the whole truth.” When that happened that is when the change agent worked from the inside out to change their lives. So what is stopping you?
Check out this woman. She had one option left. She tried everything, and she grabbed the hem of Christ’s garment. But to grab something, you have to let something else go, right? Maybe this is your last option. Maybe you have tried everything and your life is not getting better, it is getting worse. Take it; grab the hem of Christ’s garment.
Maybe you’re saying, “Well there’s other stuff I haven’t tried. I can try all these other options.”
Don’t waste your time. I have talked to so many people who have said, “Ed, I have burned up decades of my life chasing this, chasing that, chasing that over there.” Come to Jesus now. Let go and grab the hem of his garment.
You have to face the fear because it says in verse 33, “She was trembling with fear.” She told him the whole truth.
As a believer there can’t be any shame in our game.
Well, she did something else, too. She dealt with doubt. So we need to say, “God, deal with my doubt.” And he’ll do it. And let’s just personalize it again. Just say, “God, deal with my doubt. God give me the power to deal with my doubt.”
Doubt is okay. We’re going to have questions. We’re going to have issues. That’s just part of faith; yet, when this woman had doubt, and obviously she did, she let go and she moved toward faith. That’s why Jesus told her in Matthew 5:34, “Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
I love that, to be free, to be free. That’s the goal.
Now, there was a guy that knew a lot about freedom. His name was King David. Do you remember King David? David had this sexual addiction and then he killed the husband of the woman he was messing around with. Pretty serious stuff. He was playing the cover up game. His friend that worked for him named Nathan confronted him. He got Nathanized.
Now he’s talking about putting the cards on the table. He’s talking about facing fear and dealing with doubt and letting go of shame and all of the efforts. Nathan said, “Okay David. You are in sin.” And by him saying that, David could have killed him. David didn’t, though. David came clean and he journaled about it.
In Psalm 32:5‑6 he said, “I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him..”
You have this opportunity. Pray now. Do the deal now. Grab the hem of Christ’s garment now while you have the opportunity to pray.
He said, “Surely when the mighty waters rise they will not reach him.” He didn’t say, “If,” he said, “When.” I mean, they’re going to rise. What happens then God brings about change? Change, conflict and chaos, growth. Say it with me. [audience joins in] “Change, conflict and chaos, growth.” Some of the time? No. Every single time.
God changes your life as we walk with him from the inside out. We’ve experienced the exchange. What happens? Chaos, conflict. And so often we stop there. We resist change because of the resistance. Don’t stop there. Negotiate through the chaos, through the change because God will be with you and then you will experience growth.
How about the woman who was hemorrhaging? Change, conflict, swimming against the current of her culture; chaos, kneeling before Jesus. She didn’t know what he was going to do. He could publicly humiliate her. Change, conflict, growth.
David, committing adultery, having the woman’s husband killed, living a lie for about 12 months. He got Nathanized. Conflict, chaos, growth. That’s what the Lord wants to bring about in your life.
So David keeps writing in his journal. He says in Psalm 32:7-8, “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
God is instructing us through the chaos and conflict. He is teaching us, and he is our counselor. The Word is an incredible counselor. I encourage Christian counseling. Many here need to walk into the office of a Christian counselor. I also encourage this counseling first, to live a submitted life under the will and the way of God. That’s why Proverbs 3:5‑6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding.”
“Oh man, I can take care of it myself, man. I can throw money at it. I can throw work at it. I can throw control at it. I can change myself.” No, no, no. Don’t lean on your own understanding. “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.”
And then David in the last portion of this Psalm 32:9‑11 he talks about a horse and a mule. I don’t really like horses and mules that much. I like to look at them, but they don’t like me. I don’t know why but they look at me like.
ILLUS: We have some horses and mules near our house, and I try to come up and make friends with them because I love the wild kingdom; I love animals. They just don’t dig me. I don’t know if it’s my breath, or what, they just don’t like me. I try to bait them with apples and sugar. They will not come up to me.
I have a friend, though, who has put a bit in their mouth, I have watched him, a bridle over their head, and he has drug these mules and horses over to see me.
Don’t wait to make that change. Don’t wait to grab onto Christ’s garment until God’s got to put a bit in your mouth or a bridle on your head. Don’t wait for that. Grab the garment now.
David says, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.”
People say, “Well the gospel is Jesus dying on the cross and rising again, right?” That’s part of it. That’s not the full gospel. The full gospel is the other half that a lot of people don’t even talk about. It’s the fact that Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. And because of his righteous life, he can pay the price for your sins and mine, and die and rise again.
When this exchange takes place, yeah my guilt for his grace, my failures for his forgiveness, my pursuits for his plan; but it’s my sin for his righteousness.
So, once this exchange takes place I’m clothed in the righteousness of Christ. So when God sees me, he sees somebody who is covered—covered by the mercy and the grace and the power and the plan and the purity of Jesus. That is where life takes on a whole new meaning and that is when we’re changed from the inside out. Amen? I like that.
You know the word amen means, so let it be. So say, “So let it be” with me. “So let it be.” I like that, don’t you? I love amen. You know I have known a lot of preachers in my life. A lot of preachers say amen a lot. There are different types of amens. Some people will use amen as a question. Preachers will go, “Amen?” I heard one preacher one time he was preaching about hell, “People are going to hell, amen?” I’m like, “No that’s not an amen.” I like that. Amen.
[Ed leads the audience into spontaneous baptism]
Well you know what we’re going to do right now? We’re going to do something that is biblical. This is the perfect time to do this. We are going to give all of you an opportunity to do several things. First of all we’re going to give you an opportunity to grab the hem of Christ’s garment. We will give you that opportunity. I’m going to give you the opportunity to end your efforts, to stop your shame, to face your fear, to deal with your doubt, to uncover all of that because if you try to hold on to it, gar scar.
We don’t want that. Some of us have these scars and we’re like, “Man, I’m tired of this.” So we need to let go of that and by faith grab the hem of Christ’s garment. You might be saying, “Well Ed, I can just come up to him in a clandestine fashion behind him.” That’s okay if you have that much faith. Jesus said, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed.” That’s it.
Others are like, “Well I would just face Jesus and kneel before him and tell him the truth about my condition.” Cool.
There are some things, though, that Jesus wants to uncover and change and move in all of our lives. He wants this exchange to take place. You’ve got to let him. It’s your move. It’s your step of faith.
And if you’ve made the step of faith, while I’m talking right now, if you’re saying, “Okay you know what, I am stepping out by faith and I am grabbing Christ’s garment.” Just say that to yourself, “I’m grabbing Christ’s garment. By faith I am grabbing his garment. I am uncovering this because he’s covering me right now in his mercy, grace, and power.” If you’re saying that with me right now, Christ is doing that.
Well, I want to challenge you to take your decision public. The Bible says that when we make a faith decision, when Christ changes our lives, we’re to go public with it.
I have told you about some people I have talked to before and they say, “Well my faith is just a private thing.” On one hand it is; however, it is a public thing, because once we make the private decision, the Bible says we’re to get before the crowds and show them what has happened. “Well how do we do that?” Baptism.
Read the book of Acts. The book of Acts says that many were baptized on that day. And several weeks ago I was reflecting. I thought, “You know, how could that day become this day?” Then I thought, “Spontaneous baptism!” We need to have baptismal bonanzas at Fellowship Church. And we’re going to do that today.
You’re like “Well, I have been sprinkled, or I have been spritzed.” That’s excellent. My wife was sprinkled when she was a little baby. Let’s think about it. She didn’t know what was going on. That was for her parents. So, I’m not saying your sprinkling didn’t take. I am saying, though, to get baptized like Jesus commands us. That is, under the water. And it’s all about being covered.
When you go under the water for a split second, that’s your whole life. That’s the fact that Jesus has covered your failures and your shames and sins with his blood.
When you come out of the water, that’s the new life. You’re uncovered. You’re walking in newness. That’s what baptism represents and symbolizes: a changed life.
And at Fellowship Church, that’s why we do what we do, because God is all about change. He doesn’t change, yet he changes your life and mine.
“Well, Ed I am not prepared to get baptized. I didn’t bring a baptismal outfit. I don’t have any baptismal gear.”
We have gone to Wal‑Mart in all of our campuses, and we have got some cool baptismal outfits we will give you. We’re just going to give it to you. We have shorts; you know the long cool baggy shorts.
Guys, you know, the short shorts in the 80s are out. I hope you’re not wearing those anymore. I see some guys sometimes, you see them, around health clubs and running, “He’s in the 80s.”
No. They’re baggy now, they’re baggy. I used to wear them, too, back in the day. But not now. We will give you a pair of those. We will give you a cool dark t-shirt, baggy thing, you know, that says Fellowship Church or whatever on it.
Many of you, I believe, need to get baptized right now. We have changing rooms for the men and the women. We have people who have towels and everything to help you, and we will baptize you right now. They’re just waiting for you.
Maybe you’re at Plano; we have a baptismal area there. Maybe you’re Downtown, we have a baptismal area there. You could be in Miami. Man, Miami has some good high school football, don’t they? Whoa. Now the Cowboys play the Dolphins today, right? Yeah, you wait. And then Alliance we have baptismal area set up.
So right now, whether you’re here, whether you’re watching me on this high definition screen, I want you to respond and grab the garment of Christ and go public.
So Doris Scoggins, to my right, your left, is the princess of baptism and everyone remain seated unless you’re being advertised, I mean, I mean baptized. It’s the same thing. So you stand and make your way forward. Doris will take you out to the changing room, give you the cool baptismal outfit; you’ll get baptized.
Let’s give it up, because many people here need to get baptized. Couples need to get baptized. I believe some families need to get baptized. Single adults need to get baptized. Just say, “God, you have changed my life, I want to come out of the crowd just like the woman who was hemorrhaging did. Because, God, I’m tired of hemorrhaging. I’m tired of the gar scar. I want to grab hold of your garment.”
So let’s just thank the Lord for all these who are being baptized. You respond only as God leads, only as he leads. You keep going only as God leads. In just a couple of moments we’re going to end this time together with a song of worship. So when we sing this song of worship, when we start it, I want you to stand to your feet and sing and after we’re done with this song you can leave.
And this song is all about being changed from the inside out. It’s God consuming us from the inside out.
So here’s your homework. Are you ready? Here’s your homework. One thing I want for you to do over the next 33 days. For the next 33 days here is your home work; are you ready for this? Every day for the next 33 days just get up and go, “You know, God, I let go of my futile attempts to change. I let go, God, of the shame and guilt. God, I let go of this fear, of this doubt. And I want to grab your garment, Jesus. And I want to hold on for today. Yes, I know it’s forever; you’ve changed my life forever. But I know you’ll give me enough power, enough grace to hold on today.”
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about next week or next month or next year; do it today, because Scripture says that God’s grace is sufficient. And I am telling you what’s going to happen. You will see and experience this change from the interior of your life, because you will be consumed from the inside out.
Next week, I will be back, same bat time, same bat channel, I know you’ll be here, too as we get deeper and deeper into this process because you’re going to hear more about change, chaos, conflict, and growth.