Honest To God: Total Openness

Honest To God: Total Openness

I am indeed glad you are with us this morning as we are kicking off this brand new series. I hope it will be a lot of fun and extremely beneficial for you. Just to get things started I want to put something up on the screen and I want you to let me know how you respond emotionally when you see this.

X2 + 3X – 8X = 8X – 8X – 6

So when you look at that how does that make you feel? Does anyone get excited by this? Is there anyone in here who this is the best attention getter that I could have ever done? I know for some of you this brings out a lot of emotion. For some of you there is an immediate feeling of overwhelmedness. Some of you feel anxious.   All those feelings and emotions flood back and you feel guilty or defeated.   In math we call this solving for “x”. Right? Remember doing that?

I’m going to save you some time because I know some of you may spend the rest of our time together really trying to solve for “x”. Massive spoiler alert here…but X=3.

What I’ve found in life is that there are two different types of people and this equation really represents that. There are x=3 people. You know that guy or that girl who is an x=3 kind of person? She just walks around in life and it seems simple to her. He walks around life and it isn’t really complicated…x=3. It isn’t because less has happened in their lives. All of us have had life happen to us.

But when these people actually solve for “X” there is a simplicity that comes. We all know certain people that look like this long equation right? They walk around in life and you can tell that they are preoccupied by something. There is something unsettled about them and there are things in their lives that they have yet to resolve and therefore they are wrestling with things that they can’t find the answer for. Because what is true is this:

Unresolved emotion = unrest

Unresolved Emotion = Unrest. If you have emotions in your life that are unresolved. It will lead to a lack of peace. I imagine you know someone who fits into this category. There are many things that have happened in our lives that maybe we have failed to resolve. We haven’t taken the time to process them and wrestle with them until we find resolution. We just moved right past them thinking that time would take care of everything.

Maybe for you the first “x” in your equation is a “death”. Maybe there was a death in your family or a loved one and you could tell that it landed in you differently and you were never really honest about it. You never really processed it with someone.

Maybe for some of you the “x” in the equation represents that “Close Call” in your life. Maybe it was something that happened in traffic and you couldn’t believe that you made it through and lived. Maybe back in the day you were hanging out with friends and you were doing something stupid and you had a close call and you’ve never been able to get beyond that.

Maybe for you “x” represents a “job”. Maybe the job isn’t going how you thought it would go. Maybe you are at a dead end and staying in that job feels like you are missing opportunities that you could be taking. It feels like others are getting ahead and you can’t figure out why and you feel like it is even kind of out of control.

Maybe for you “x” represents a “want” in your life. You know it is there but you’ve never really processed why it is there. Maybe you have car envy. Maybe you have house or neighborhood envy. Or maybe you have kid envy and you constantly think that their kids seem to have it more together than what your kids do. Maybe you have teeth envy and you wish that you had the smile that she has.

Maybe one of these represents “plans” that you have for your future. You just never really been honest about them. Maybe one of these represents “loss”. Something was taken from you. It should have been yours. You just never really dealt with it. Unresolved emotion = unrest. If you fail to solve for “x” you will have unrest in your life.

For this series I want to submit to you that “X” may just = Honesty. Maybe in hearing that you are questioning if it could really be that simple. I think it can be. I think that there is something powerful about being honest about what actually happened. If you notice that most people in life are mostly honest. We are mostly honest with the IRS. Maybe you met with a counselor for a while and you were mostly honest. Maybe you are in a dating relationship and you’ve been mostly honest within that relationship.

Most people are mostly honest. In fact there is research to prove that at best we are 90% honest with ourselves. Now if I were being 100% honest I’d tell you that the 90% statistic came from Wikipedia…not the most reliable website for statistics…so I don’t know how true that actually is. But I think it is true. We are very rarely fully honest with ourselves.

That isn’t entirely bad. Some of that is for self-protection. Some if it is to keep ourselves from having to measure up to the judgments of others. Honesty is more than just avoiding deception but honesty is really is full disclosure.

Where this unfortunately shows up the most is in our relationships. See your best relationships are probably your most honest relationships. Isn’t that true? Our most healthy relationships are our most honest relationships. The relationships that you have that are characterized by full honesty and full transparency is probably your most healthy relationships.

Why is this important? Because God’s desire for each and every one of us is to have a growing relationship with Him. And so if honesty is really the “X” factor in relationships…if it is the key in relationships…and we have trouble being honest with ourselves and sometimes have trouble being honest in relationships…how honest are you to God?

How genuine? How transparent? How much disclosure have you given to God? See if you are not a church person, if you are not a follower of Jesus, maybe for you when you think about being Honest To God you think about some sort of conversation with God. Maybe for you that feels intimidating. But I think we would all acknowledge that conversations with God is pretty important.

Thinking about a conversation with God maybe if you’ve only heard religious people have conversations with God what have they sounded like? Maybe their conversations with God have been so well articulated, thought through, and formulaic and stuffy…if that is all you’ve been exposed to then the thought of actually being gut level honest with God might seem foreign to you.

I don’t know who the boss is in your world. At your place of employment it might be a shift manager. It might be the supervisor. It might be the principal at your school. I don’t know who your boss is but for me it is Joe Wenger who is the District Superintendent of the North Central District of the Missionary Church. When I have to email Joe I will spend an exorbitant amount of time on an email that I need to write to him. Do you know what I’m saying? I’ll write it all out and reread it and think: “That section isn’t clear enough.” Or “I shouldn’t say that because I don’t want him to read into that.” So I rewrite it. Sometimes I’ll get Crystal to proof read it to make sure that it is clear and coherent. I make sure that there are no squiggly lines under any words…I’d hate for him to know I’m a horrific speller.

I go through all that process and I’d imagine that you have experienced that as well and unfortunately there are some people who view interacting with God in that light. They think that if they are going to have a conversation with God that surely he can’t take honesty. He wants something stuffy, well articulated, and thought through. I hope that at the end of this series at the very least you’d know in your heart of hearts that those sorts of conversations with God aren’t the kid He is looking to have with us. The truth is God doesn’t want perfect conversation. He wants honest conversation.

Let me tell you why I think this matters for every single one of us. Whether you’d consider yourself a follower of Jesus or not this is why I think this matters for us. Until we are fully honest to God we will not experience God fully. Until we are fully honest to God we just won’t experience God fully. Until we are honest to God about who we are and how we feel we wont’ even begin to grasp who He is and how he feels.

This blows my mind about the way that God operates. But the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament (same God) is a God who somehow and someway reciprocates our movement towards him. When we disclose ourselves he reveals himself. When we move towards him it initiates his move towards us. He’s already moved fully towards us in the form of His son Jesus. But now that we have this potential relationship with him so many different places in the Bible talk about this kind of reciprocating nature of God.

In the account of Jeremiah…the Prophet Jeremiah who was speaking on the Lord’s behalf…we read “When you seek me then you will find me when you seek me with your whole hearts.” Zechariah said: “When you return to the Lord then he will return to you.” Jesus said: “Seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to you.” James, the ½ brother of Jesus said: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” So there is something about us…if we bring our full selves…it allows us to fully experience God. As long as you bring ½ of who you are I think that you’ll experience ½ of who God is. But if you’ll bring all of you I think you and I can access & begin to experience all of him.

We talk a lot about faith. Faith is very important. Faith in God. Faith in God is very key. But Faith in God is very different than a Relationship With God. I hope you have faith in God. But I desperately want myself and I desperately want you to have a relationship with God. Yes have a faith and a belief. I do want you to experience Believing In God. But even more than that, on a deeper level, I want to be a person, and I want you to be a person, who Knows God.

Here is why this series is so important. Regardless of where you are with God currently. Regardless of what you Believe about God. You can walk out of here with the start of a relationship with God if you’d just bring all of yourself to Him. You walked in one way…and I’m telling you that you can walk out a totally different person. Not that any of your circumstances have changed. Not because any of your beliefs have changed. But because you brought all of yourself to God. The potential is astronomical if you and I would just choose to be honest to God.

Maybe you are sitting there wondering if this is really true? Has anyone really ever tried this? Has anyone ever been fully honest with god? Is god Ok with this? Has God ever said that it is good for people to do this? Yes, he has. He has smiled upon people who do this.

There is a man that was the King of Israel. One of the most famous in the History of Israel and one of the most famous individuals in the Bible. His name is…David. We briefly talked about David a few weeks ago. You know what David was known as? David killed Goliath. David followed Saul as the king of Israel and was a successful king. He wasn’t known for all of his riches, military might, or knowledge. David was known by this little tagline that God himself placed upon David. David was known as “A man after God’s own heart.” That is what God called David. David was being anointed as King and God says I’ve finally found a man after my own heart.

There is a collection of prayers, or conversations, that we have from David. He wrote the majority of them and we call them Psalms. As you read through them with a 30,000 foot view of the Psalms we get this glimpse into his Journal and we see his relationship with God. David’s journals remove so many obstacles in the way we approach God. Maybe you never realized that God was approachable. David seemed to think that God was fully approachable. Maybe you never realized that dealing with God regarding in the stuff is actually worth it. As we read the Psalms we get a clear vision that God isn’t just OK with our honesty but rather he celebrates our honesty with him because he called David A Man after his own heart.

So what I want to do is give you a quick survey of some of the emotions that we see David unpacking before God. Here’s the first one. Afraid. David was afraid. He regularly told God about his fears. In Psalm 7 He said this…

PSALM 7:1-2

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

Have you ever felt afraid? You ever just told God this honestly? God, I’m serious. No one is literally pursuing me but I’m telling you if this doesn’t happen I’m going to ripped apart. That is pretty honest.

What about when you are Grateful? That’s positive. Let’s talk about something positive for a while. When he was grateful this is one thing he said:

Psalm 40:1-3a

I waited patiently for the Lord (have you ever waited for God? You might be waiting for him right now. When he comes through there is nothing better!); he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

For some of you this is your relationship with God. You’d say “Yes, I was in an awful place but because of God he lifted me up and put me on a solid foundation.” Have you told God lately? You can. What about when you are powerless? This is what David prayed when he felt powerless:

Psalm 42:9-10

I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me (have you ever felt like God has forgotten about you)? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (then he says). As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

You ever had anyone look at you like your faith was crazy? You believe what? Good luck with that! You feel powerless. You feel helpless. You feel hopeless. Have you told God? You can.

What about when you are jealous? If I were to see something in your life and I were to ask you: “Are you jealous?” Of course not…I’m not jealous. Who is jealous? I’ve not been jealous since middle school. Wrong. David was jealous. This is actually a Psalm that Asaph wrote who was His worship leader…some think he was a scribe as well for David. Definitely influenced by David. This is what he said:

Psalm 73:1-5

Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.

You can feel he is eaten up by jealousy & he is just telling God. Is God OK with that? It seems like he is because he referenced David as a man after God’s own heart. What about when he was excited? Countless times when he was excited he said something like this:

Psalm 66:1-5

Shout for joy to God, all the earth (when was the last time you were in your car, or stepped foot in your home, and shouted for…Joy); sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

Have you ever felt that excited about something and you thought: “I’ve got to tell God this! I’ve got to tell the whole world this!” He wants to hear that. You can just tell him. Last one. What about when you are angry? Anyone in here an angry person?

See when we are angry I think most of us think subconsciously: “I can’t tell God I’m angry. God isn’t’ down with anger.” David did. Just read this and think about how heavy and honest this is. This is in Psalm 58…

Psalm 58:6-7

O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.

David doesn’t just pray for one broken tooth…he prays plural. God, break the teeth in their mouths! Cause them so much pain and discomfort that they would rather be dead. He continues…

Psalm 58:8-9

Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun. Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

I honestly hesitated to even read this section because I thought that is so in appropriate. Especially for anyone who has ever been around who had a stillborn child who didn’t see the sun. I don’t think that there is anything in life that could be more painful than that. And David says…God, I want that for my enemies! And somehow someway God has allowed these sentences to stay around for thousands of years so that all of humanity could read them.

He doesn’t say when you pray…pray this. But he celebrated the man who prayed this way. He was a man after God’s own heart. So if God was OK with this kind of anger I think he is probably ok with your kind of anger as well. Because he is a father and any good father just wants to know “How do you feel”. I don’t want perfect…I want honest.

So what about that equation? Maybe one of those “x”s connects with you or maybe all of them do. That death that has been rattling around in your head for such a long time has made you feel afraid. Maybe you just need to tell God.

Maybe that close call. Maybe you can’t believe it! But it worked out and maybe you feel grateful and you haven’t told God that…or maybe you haven’t told him since that event happened. Tell him! He wants to hear it. Not because he doesn’t know but just because he wants to hear you tell him your heart. It communicates openness and trust.

What about that Job. Maybe that Job is making you feel powerless. Maybe you just feel out of control and you don’t know where it is going to go next. Maybe you just need to tell God that you feel powerless. Telling him won’t necessarily fix your problem but he wants to hear your heart.

Maybe that want that you have…it has created some sort of jealousy in you. You’ve never dealt with it. You’ve never told God because you aren’t supposed to talk that way. But you need to tell God. “God, you want me to be honest? Well I want his life. I want her husband. I want that over there and I’m upset I can’t have it! God, I’m jealous!”

Or maybe as you look at the upcoming weeks and months ahead. You look at your plans and you are so excited. But you’ve never told God how excited you are. Maybe you think it is irreligious to be excited over something that some day when you die you’ll leave behind but listen…David modeled a communication pattern and honest to God that included sharing our hearts of excitement with Him!

Maybe that loss that you have. Maybe it was a relationship, a business situation, or something that someone stole from you that you can never get back…it has made you Angry. You’ve talked yourself out of the Anger for years and you’ve never told God about it because it is something that you need to get over. But honest to God…the truth is you are just angry!

The great thing about being honest to God is that it forces you to be honest to yourself. Being honest to God forces you to deal with it yourself. But it also brings clarity of perspective. Being honest to God allows you to see it as he sees it. When you bring 10% of you…you will see it about 10% of the way he sees it. But when you bring all of you…you will start to see all of it the way he sees it.

Let me just give you an example of this for you. Some of you the entire time this morning you’ve been struggling because you’ve been working this out and you say: “X=3? Wait a second. It doesn’t just equal 3.” See what is also amazing about this is that X also = 2. It works both ways…with 3 or with 2. When you begin to take everything to God, be honest with him, you start to see it differently and it takes on a different meaning than what it had before. But that won’t happen if you continue to bring just part of you to God.

Being honest to God also gives you a clean conscience. There is a freedom that comes when you are not carrying it anymore. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that it makes it OK. It just means that you’ve processed it and you’ve mourned over it & you’ve done everything you know what to do about it. God, you know all of me. You know my heart.

Finally, maybe the best of all: Being honest to God allows you to have a closer relationship with God. You know what the point of honesty is? The point of honesty isn’t honesty. But the point of honesty is to have a deeper & closer relationship. If you are honest to God you can have a relationship with God. But you cannot have a relationship with God until you are honest to God.

So maybe that is where you begin. You just begin with whatever time you can find. In your car, in your shower, down time at work, you find the place. If you want to have a relationship with God so you can access all of who He is it begins with you being honest to God.

For those of you who are moms and dads. Isn’t this true for you and your kids? You want to know what is on your kids hearts. You want to hear their excitement. You want to hear their fears. You want to hear their anger…even if it comes out in words that you would prefer they didn’t use…don’t you just want to know their hearts? I want to know my kid’s hearts. I want to know when they are angry with me. I wan to know.

How much more does our heavenly father want to hear our hearts? In his case he already knows but he just wants you to communicate to him what you are thinking & feeling.

So to end today I just want to do a little emotional inventory & ask some questions to you. This is an easy question.

What have you been celebrating lately that you haven’t told God about?

 

Who has taken something from you…or what has taken something from you?

Are you angry about it? Have you told God about it?

Who has something that you want?

Just tell God. “God I want that!” He wants to know…Doesn’t he already know? Yes. Why does he want you to tell him then? Isn’t that how relationships work? You bring all of you and he brings all of him and it is a solid relationship.

Has someone or something disappointed you lately?

Have you lost someone or something that you haven’t fully mourned?

Everything could change for you today if you would choose to believe that if you are fully honest with him that you will fully experience him. Honest to God…that is the way he works.

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