So, now, here's the stuff they've made available.
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]
Well. Who’s a shepherd? Shepherds care for God’s people. You’re all shepherds, right?
There’s a… There’s a verse in the Old Testament – you know it’s important when Jesus quotes it – see if you know this one, Shepherd. Strike the ______. What’s the verse? Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.
You’re shepherds. Jesus, of course, was the chief shepherd. And his goal is to bring a flock together around you. People you can love and serve and protect and encourage.
And the enemy has a plan to strike you so that that (sic) flock would scatter. And I want to spend some time today speaking, just trying to serve as best I’m able by God’s grace to struck shepherds.
And being a struck shepherd is difficult enough, but it’s even harder when you’ve got a family -- amen? And that’s why Paul says sometimes it’s easier to be single. That’s what he tells the Corinthians. That’s why Jeremiah was single and Paul was single and Jesus was single. They were shepherds that got struck and had they had families, it’s pretty terrifying to think of what would’ve occurred to their wives to their kids. Some of you are struck shepherds and you have a double grief because not only are you a struck shepherd but it’s struck your family. You can’t talk about it because that would be gossip. And you don’t want to allow that hurt to enter into the community and the relationships, so a lot of you just sort of carry that pain, that burden, that hurt with you.
And I don’t want to take this opportunity to talk a lot about me, I want to take an opportunity to serve you. We had an eight year conflict that really went public the last year, but it’s been eight years, and some of you struck shepherds know what that’s like. By the time everybody else knows, you’ve already been dealing with it for a long time.
Um. And the hardest part has been how to love and serve my family. I don’t want to talk about my perspective. I think God gave me 1 Peter 3:8-12 early on, sort of as a North Star for how I’m to conduct myself, but I’ve got a great family. My wife Grace and I, we’re 44. We met at 17. She’s a pastor’s daughter now a – I would say pastor’s wife but I guess a former pastor’s wife. She’s still my wife, but I’m a former pastor so... (crowd laughs)
And, uh, we’ve got five kids, uh – three boys, two girls. 9, 11, 13, 15, 17. And uh, the last years have been very difficult for them. They, uh, they’ve moved three times for safety issues. One house we had troubled people show up and some protests and stuff at the house. And then finally, we had somebody arrested late, late, late at night that was a threat to the family. And they were institutionalized and they walked back to the home in their underwear. They escaped from the institution.
We moved to another location and every time I moved homes, some of the critics would post the address to my house online so people could show up and bring the grief to my family. So we built a safe room for Grace and the kids
And we moved from there, after someone went to the bathroom on the front porch and people started showing up. I moved to, uh, another house where ultimately that house was discovered and we started getting hate mail.
Things really escalated when the media showed up and blocked the driveway to the house, seeking an interview and brought a helicopter overhead to flush me out for an interview. My kids had been outside playing and, uh, all of a sudden we heard this helicopter over the yard and so we pulled the family into the house and tried to figure out how to not be in front of a window because we didn’t want to be on the news and didn’t know what was going on, to be honest with you.
That night my oldest son, he was 8 at the time, he came to me downstairs, my wife Grace was cooking dinner and uh, he had on this jacket, it was a military jacket with patches down the side. He had his AirSoft gun and I said “What are you doing little buddy?” He’s nine now. And he said, “Dad is this jacket bullet-proof?” (crown groans) And I said, “Why’s that little buddy?” And he said, “Well, if the bad guys come, I want to be able to protect the family.”
I didn’t know that he – he didn’t know it was a news crew. The only thing he’d ever seen were the uh, um, the bad guy movies where they come in helicopters and shoot everybody. It took months. He would have night terrors. He wouldn’t sleep in his room. He wouldn’t take a shower, get dressed in his bedroom by himself. Something we’re trying to encourage him through. Just real fear came into him. The kids wanted to sleep outside in a tent one night. We told them no, because as soon as we had the tent set up and were going out to sleep in the tent, the media posted the address to my house as a new story which I felt like we were in danger again so I grabbed the kids and left for the night and went to a hotel for a couple days. Then came back and I preached what would be my last sermon -- I didn’t know it would be my last. The New York Times was there. It was a big media situation.
So, the kids were like, “Dad, we just want to sleep in a tent in our house.” So we slept in a tent. I didn’t really sleep, but the kids -- the younger kids slept. Woke up in the morning and somebody on the other side of the fence was throwing large rocks at my kids at about 6:30 in the morning. And at first, I didn’t know what it was and then the dog thought we were playing fetch and started picking up these rocks and it dawned on me, like rocks are flying at my kids in the yard. So we filed a police report and went away for a little bit. Came back and there was a bucket of nails all over the driveway. Picked those up um.
It finally came to the point where God released my wife and I from our responsibility to ministry. He spoke to us audibly. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. We were both pretty shocked and the announcement was going to come out that week. And, uh, our server, our e-mail and things apparently were hacked and there was no way to get anything done without it being a public situation. And so the Board, which are good, godly people in authority, which I appreciate -- they released a statement earlier than we were anticipating, so um, but that meant, and I agree with that decision, I’m not critical of it. But that meant that I hadn’t told my kids that I had resigned and they were in school, taking test, it was a test week, …. we threw some stuff in a bag and ran to school to grab the kids and within minutes it was on TV, I think it was on CNN.
We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast. So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked. We’d served in that city for 20 years. Founded that church in our living room. And served it for 18 years. (loud applause) Baptized somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. (audible amens from crowd).
So, we’re sitting with the kids explaining to them that dad had resigned and that we were going to continue forward and that God had released us very clearly. And my middle son -- he is really the pastor’s heart of the family, he’s a shepherd -- his first question, I just lost it, he said “Who’s going to care for the people?” We stayed there for a few days. Drove them into school for their tests. I went home and checked the security footage and yeah, there was a lot of people at our house taking photos. It was a good thing we weren’t there. We finally came home.
I think it was on Saturday. And, uh, none of us slept very well. We were all pretty rattled. And uh, woke up on Sunday. Slept in. And, uh, my family… it dawned on me, like we’ve helped start 400 churches, we pastored a church, shepherd a church that had like 15 locations and now we don’t have a church to go to. So, here I am in the house with my wife and kids and we’re all just kind of zombies, and my, uh, my kids are like, well, we’re going to do church.
And so, when your wife’s a pastor’s kid, you’re going to do church. (crowd chuckles). And so, my uh, my middle daughter -- the one child that can sing -- she got a lovely voice -- she decided she would lead us in song. My young… my middle son set up Communion. My other son set up prayer buddies -- we break off into prayer. My oldest daughter oversaw the scripture reading. And my youngest son, who was eight at the time, came down with a bucket to collect the offering. (crowd laughs)
And uh, he said, he said “We’re going to give our cash and then we’re going to pick a family that is a single mom and doesn’t have a dad.” He said, “I’m going to pick the family and then I’m going to give them all of the money so she can buy toys for her kids.” And that was his plan for our offering.
So, we sang, and we prayed, and read scripture. And uh, then I looked up and uh I thought I gotta’ teach this family. This is the first time in 18 years I didn’t have a message prepared on a Sunday. And uh, as soon as I looked at my kids, I uh, I lost it. And so, I cried a lot. And prayed. And I taught for a while and we had a big family discussion with our little church of seven at the house. That’s still our only church to this day. And what I taught them, I’d like to share with you
I believe it was a word that the Lord gave me for my family. And I hope that it’s a word, a word from the Lord for your family. And I’m really jealous for you shepherd and your well-being. And I’m jealous for the well-being of your families.
And so, if we could all just sort of pretend that you’re on my couch and I get to be a little bit of dad and pastor. I’d like to just share with you what I shared with them. And what I taught on in that moment was forgiveness. And I didn’t want to raise children -- I don’t want to raise children -- who are embittered against the Lord. Embittered against me. Or their mom.
And part of this was asking their forgiveness. I won’t in any way say that everybody was Judas and I was Jesus in the (or this?) situation. And to forgive those who were involved. They saw their church picketed and protested by families that we baptized. They saw on the nightly news it was a big story ongoing locally. People that they had known for years.
Taking an opportunity. It was an important opportunity for my kids to be taught on forgiveness. It’s something we keep working on. And uh, to start with, we forgive because we’re forgiven. (crown acceptingly groans). We forgive because we’re forgiven. And the psalmist says it in Psalm 51:5 “Against you only, Lord God, have I sinned.” So, ultimately, when we’re hurt, we’re offended, we’re wounded, when the shepherd is struck -- we can think about all of the evil or perhaps, malice that is coming against us -- and ultimately though, we need to think about the Chief Shepherd, and all of the evil and the malice that has come against Him.
And, and you read in 1 John, when we sin against the Lord, we break His law. Well that’s true, but Genesis 6 says that God looked and saw that the inclination of man’s heart was only evil continually. And it grieved God in His heart that he made man. So, when we sin -- we not only break God’s law, we break God’s heart. We have a broken-hearted God.
The Chief Shepherd is a broken-hearted shepherd. And rather than getting vengeance… wrath -- God devises a plan. Or I should say He enacts an eternal plan. That Jesus would come. And that Jesus would come so that our debt could be paid. And that our sin could be forgiven. And that our relationship could be reconciled.
And you know the story of the gospel of Jesus. He lived without sin and he was opposed. He had a… He had a Judas who betrayed Him. He had a Thomas who doubted Him. He had a Peter who abandoned Him. And dear shepherd, you are all three.
And Jesus goes to the cross. And as he’s beaten and scourged and clocked and destroyed in front of his own mother… his brothers, this affected the whole family. That’s what happens. When a shepherd is struck. The Lord Jesus then has a sponge shoved into his mouth.
And, my studies… archeological investigation in Turkey a couple of times. And Israel. It seems like standard issue military kit for a Roman soldier was a sponge. And they would dip it in wine vinegar as an anti-septic. And then put it on the end of a stick. And use it as it as toilet paper to cleanse themselves when they were out in the field. It seems like that’s exactly what they shoved in Jesus’ mouth.
And do you remember what He said? “Forgive them.” They struck the Chief Shepherd and, with the taste of the soldier’s bowel movement in His mouth, He said “Forgive them.”
And then Jesus died that we might be forgiven. And forgiveness is really, according to the Bible, it’s the paying of the debt. That why (where?) the Lord Jesus taught us to how pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Um. When sin happens, someone has to pay. And forgiveness is where the offended party pays. Vengeance is where the offended party makes the other person pay. And vengeance makes great Hollywood movies. Especially with Liam Neeson. But… (crowd laughs).
But...it makes for a terrible ministry, amen? I don't know if I can get through them all but I'd like to share with you some compelling reasons why I want you to learn to forgive. And why I want you to help your spouse forgive, and to help your children forgive. To allow the forgiveness of God to flow through the cross of Jesus, through your heart and into your family and through your ministry.
And I think sometimes as shepherds we can preach a message of forgiveness without practicing it. But some of you have been struck in deep and profound and painful ways. And that forgiveness is very very difficult for you. The first reason I want you...and let me just...let me… let me pray right here.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to come to the shepherds, to reveal to them anyone they may be holding a grievance against, a woundedness that is unhealed, a bitterness that is festering, a vengeance that is rising. Lord, would you please bring to their mind right now that individual person who has struck them, and/or struck their family. Would you give them a name, would you give them a face? Would you give them the grace to take everything I have the privilege of teaching in my few short moments with them, and apply it to that person. In Jesus' name, amen.
Whomever the Holy Spirit brought to mind, I want you to forgive them. Number one, because it glorifies God. The most quoted verse in the Bible is in Exodus 34, where God discloses himself, and He says, "the LORD, the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in love and compassion, (the?) one who forgives sins". That person's quoted in the Bible more than any other verse in the Bible. God's self-disclosure is that he's a God who likes to forgive.
This is the unique claim of Christianity, that in karmic Eastern religions, you have to reincarnate and pay it back. If you believe in purgatory, you suffer for awhile and pay it off. In Christianity, God just forgives. And when we forgive, we glorify God. That is, to mirror, to image, to reflect God. I would submit to you that arguably the best way to glorify God is to forgive. Because it's something that our God alone does, and when we do it, others see the reflection of his goodness.
And so forgiveness isn't something that wells up from within us; it flows down from God. This is why, in his great section at the end of Ephesians 4, he says to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you. Forgiveness always starts with God and it comes to us, and is to flow through us to others.
And we're not denying justice, we're just handing it off to the highest court. As the Bible says, we're leaving vengeance in the hands of the Lord. Number one, I want you to forgive them because it glorifies God. And some would say "You do not know what they have done to me." But I would say whatever they have done, it is not as vile as what you and I have done to the Lord. And if the Lord can forgive us, then we can forgive them. If not, we're saying that our sin against God is not as bad as their sin against us. It's a Gospel issue.
Number two, I want you to forgive them, because I love you. And it blesses you. It blesses you. There's a book written by a man--I do not have any indication that he's a believer--he's done a lot of research as a medical doctor on forgiveness and unforgiveness. Forgiveness blesses you physically, gets rid of stress, anxiety, depression, fear. Unforgiveness, bitterness, vengeance, wrath, clamor...whatever Bible word you would prefer--it is taking the hurt from the past and carrying it into the future. What that means is you're making your worst day your every day.
And Paul has this great line in Philippians 3, says "Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward". Let me submit to you--you can't do both. You can't both go into the future taking your past. You need to forget that which lies behind if you want to press forward. It has benefits for you physically, just your well-being and your stress and your sleep. It has great benefits for you emotionally, where you can overcome the hurt, you can heal to some degree, or your hope and joy and your energy can return.
Some of you even going to church, I mean, I can just SEE it--I see some of you going to church, and feeling anxious as you go into the parking lot. There's an anxiety and a stress that comes just even with the possibility of encountering certain people. What they will say, what they will do, how they will respond. Some of you it feels like your church is filled with people who are grenades with the pin pulled and you're just trying not to bump them.
Paul says, insofar as it is possible with you, seek to live in peace with all men. That begins with forgiveness. It will bless you relationally, you can start to trust people again, rather than working under the auspices of self-preservation. If you don't want to get hurt, you need to isolate yourself...but then you're too far away from also experiencing love. And forgiving someone, you can start to wisely approach people again and build relationships of love and affection, it's good for you relationally. It's also good for you spiritually.
Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18, where there's a guy who, it's a denarii--that's a day's wages. Let's say he owes a million dollars. And this person who is indebted, comes and says "I cannot repay". And the person to whom he's indebted forgives the debt. There's forgiveness. Says "I will eat the loss." And sends him with his tremendous grace. And the story is, he goes home and someone owes him, let's say, ten thousand dollars. Remember the story? He says "I won't repay you a dime." I'll put the screws to you. It’s all vengeance and justice -- no grace. What Jesus is saying is, if we're forgiven people, but we're not forgivING people, we're people like that.
And what he says is, that a person like that will get handed over to the jailor -- the jailor is Satan. You cannot lose your salvation, but you can be handed over for torment. And what happens is, those who are in this prison of bitterness and vengeance and wrath and clamor -- they may still be believers, but they have entered into the enemies' domain and they are in a prison of bitterness and unforgiveness.
The question is, how do you get out of a prison like that? And some would say they need to apologize, they need to repent,
This is how we know that the Bible was not written by human beings. (crowd laughs) This is a… this is... this is not a natural thing, to bless your enemies. That it is a supernatural thing. Forgiving your enemies -- and you have enemies, shepherd -- it's a supernatural act of grace. And it is a blessing to them. But before you can even bless them, you need to bless them by forgiving them, and then they don't have to live under your condemnation, your scrutiny, the fear of your wrath, your vengeance and anger. Some of you have lived under that, and you hate that, and so you don't want anyone to live under that from you.
Remember the story of Joseph? One of the great forgiveness stories of the whole Bible? He blesses his brothers. But before he blesses them he has to forgive them. And it took awhile. The story of Joseph took about thirty years if my memory is correct. Not every relationship will be reconciled like a TV sitcom in twenty two minutes minus the commercials. Some things take time.
And then there's that great line, you remember the story of Joseph's brothers--they threw him in a pit, and he went from a pit to a prison, then he went from a prison to a palace. But it took a long time.
And as he has this great reunion with his brothers -- do you remember the story, Genesis 50:20 is the classic line we use, right? "What you intended for evil, God used for good. And the saving of many lives."
And we give that as a seed of hope from which a life of fruitfulness could blossom in a devastated soul. But the verse before that is what makes it all possible. Joseph looks at his brothers in chapter 50 verse 19 of Genesis, and he says “Am I in the place of God?” That’s the forgiveness question.
They were afraid that he would seek wrath and vengeance and bitterness on them. And instead he said, I am not in the place of God. Jesus says in John 5 that the Father judges no one, that he’s entrusted all judgment to the Son.
Some of us like to think that not only will the Lord Jesus judge in the end, but that we’ll sit on his lap and assist with the task. No one sits on the lap of the Lord Jesus at the white throne to help him judge the living and the dead. That’s His job. To not forgive someone is to take the seat of God.
I’m pressed for time, I’ll give you one more. I believe that this is something that the Lord showed me, I’ve not read it anywhere. You’re Bible believing brothers and sisters, you can check it by your own systematics. I started looking, I’ve done about a six month study on forgiveness so that I could just talk with my family and process with Grace and the kids. And that includes forgiving me. I wanna be clear about this. I don’t wanna say “Mark is entirely (emphasis added) the victim.” You know. Sometimes when the Shepherd is struck it’s ‘cause they punched themselves in the head. (laughter)
So I started looking at the places in the Bible that talked about forgiveness, and unforgiveness, and bitterness, and vengeance, and wrath and what I found is -- often, if not always -- in the same orbit It talked about the demonic.
Give you some examples. It says in II Corinthians 2:11 Satan will not outwit us, providing we know his schemes. The verse prior -- it talks about forgiveness. Colossians 2:13-15 talks about how Satan had ownership of us through our sin and that record of debt was canceled. That debt was paid through Jesus’ death on the cross. And that disarmed the powers, principalities, and spirits.
So our forgiveness is how we were delivered from Satan and demons to God and His kingdom. And then in Ephesians 4 the great section on bitterness and forgiveness. He says in 4:32, “Forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you. That this forgiveness would flow from the cross of Jesus through your life to others.”
And he says -- just prior to that -- in your anger do not sin and don’t give the enemy a ______. A foothold. So here’s my theses, shepherd. Struck shepherd. Satan and demons have never been forgiven. For anything. And Satan and demons will never forgive anyone for anything. And when you don’t forgive, you’re trafficking in the demonic.
And when you do forgive, the grace of God, and the Holy Spirit flows. That’s why it says in Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one misses out on the grace of God, that this river of God’s grace would just continue to flow from the cross of Jesus that others would be forgiven and forgiven.” “See to it that no one misses out on the grace of God and that no (pause) bitter root bears unforgiveness grows up, and by it many become (pause) defiled.”
I’m jealous for your life. I’m jealous for your family. I’m jealous for your ministry. I want the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to flow from you, joyfully. And the one thing that will dam up the flow of God’s grace, because of bitter roots that defile many, is unforgiveness.
So I’m gonna’ ask you to forgive them. I’m gonna’ ask you to forgive ‘em.
Father God, I pray for my friends. I pray for the struck shepherds. Lord, I pray for the spouses of struck shepherds. God, I could just see in my mind, wives who love their husbands and are so tired of what is being said about him. She sees it on his face and she knows what he’s like when he comes home. He’s a devastated, broken man. He is a shell of who he was.
Lord, some of the children are rebelling because they think it’s the Chief Shepherd who’s struck the shepherds -- their mom and dad. The enemy has told a lie. He’s got the children believing that God is evil and cruel. That church is unsafe. And that Jesus doesn’t work.
Lord God, there are people here that are wondering if they’re even going to be in ministry in a few months. They’re on the precipice of making a decision as to whether or not this is the end for them. Lord, there are some that have deep scars and wounds that are unhealed. They’ve been carrying them for years. Lord, there are people here who are hurting, they are broken. They are struck shepherds.
Lord, we wanna say first of all, thank you for forgiving us. We are so glad that right now, Lord Jesus, that you are planning a kingdom party and… and… and not a vengeance plan. That we can run to You in our time of need and we know that there is only grace that flows from You. And Lord Jesus we ask that you would send the Holy Spirit to help us to forgive. To forgive those who have struck us and struck our family and struck our ministry.
And Lord, I pray that this wouldn’t be used in any way to try and vindicate myself or justify myself. I just wanna serve these brothers and sisters. I want them to take the key of forgiveness and to put it into the lock of bitterness and to open the prison door and to walk out of that torment that they have been living in. I pray that they would be able to share this message with their spouse and with their children. And I pray, Holy Spirit, that renewing and refreshing and redeeming would come to the struck shepherds. In Jesus’ good name, Amen.