Too Great to Forgive???

“The things I have done are too big and too bad to be forgiven.” Sadly, I hear this statement or a rendition of this statement often enough that it doesn’t catch me off guard as I talk to people about Jesus. Sometimes when people say this they are referring to the totality of the actions in their life, yet what I find more often than not is that they are referring to a particular decision and actions. I have accepted and seen that in the human heart is the potential for good, yet I have also accepted and seen in the human heart a depravity at the deepest levels. It is because of this depravity, that statements like the one above while they break my heart, they do not surprise me. In all honesty and with a broken heart, it doesn’t take much time to see the brokenness and the depravity of humanity.

The question is what do you do if you personally have a question like “my sin is too big and too bad to be forgiven” and how do we respond to statements like this? In no particular order, let me give you some suggestions that I have learned.

Listen with Grace
When you truly open yourself up and listen to people and if you listen to enough people you will hear things that will surprise, shock, and things you had never imagined. When you hear things such as this, you must respond with grace and compassion. I realize this may go against an initial response, yet as we read the Bible Jesus repeatedly responded with grace and compassion.

There are a few realities that we must recognize. First, the person you are listening to is already crushed, broken, and they are at that moment freely admitting that the decision and actions that were taken are bad and awful. Second, it is not our job to pile on with finger waging. As believers, our job is to be a representative of Christ to those around us; to share the wonderful news of Jesus, His love and forgiveness; and to recognize with grace and truth the seriousness of sin. Third, as soon as you give a hint of finger waging, the person will shut down and the wonderful news of Jesus will be shut out.

Recognize and Affirm a Sin is a Sin is a Sin
We as people consistently want to put things on a scale from great and excellent things to terrible and awful things. We do the same thing with the sins that are committed as we arrange them on a sliding scale. Some sins we say are awful and terrible, some sins are bad, and some sins we put in the category of ‘no harm, no foul.’ We can also see this with the distinction we have with lies: white lies and black lies.

We can make a distinction and categorize on a scale the different chili recipes or sports teams, yet the reality is there is no distinctions when it comes to sin. The saying is, ‘A sin is a sin is a sin’, it doesn’t matter where on the scale of awful to not too terrible we place a particular sin. The Bible tells us in the first part of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death (NASB).” I want you to notice with me it doesn’t say that what we deserve for a particular sin or category of sins is separation from the Lord. It says that the thing we deserve because we commit sin is separation.

When we say that we have committed a sin too bad to be forgiven, we have erred in attempting to put sins in categories. The simple truth is all sin is serious, and the solution for sin is the same- Jesus.

Know the Cross is Sufficient
When we believe that our sin is too big and bad to be forgiven, whether we realize it or not, we are saying that our sin is greater than the crucifixion of Christ or that our sin is greater than His ability to forgive. Colossians 2:13-14 tells us, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (emphasis mine; NASB).”

My friends, many of you are in this position of believing that your sin is too great to be forgiven. I want to tell you that the cross of Christ is sufficient to forgive all your sins. The hurdle isn’t if Jesus ‘can’ forgive you and make you whole because He freely offers that wholeness and forgiveness. The hurdle is if you are willing to ask and believe.

Celebrate that His Grace is Enough
The last thing I want to encourage you toward as you realize the love and the forgiveness of Christ, is to celebrate. We are celebrating for a reason and that reason is the wonderful grace of Jesus. My friends that wonderful grace is amazing and more than enough. Through Jesus our sins are forgiven, we are made whole, the joy that comes through abundant life, and we have the hope of heaven. Let us celebrate!

Change????

Change is hard…. So hard that oftentimes we would rather suffer through physical or emotional pain than change. Yet change is essential to life. As adults we no longer live with our parents, we no longer think as a child, we no longer dress as a child, and we no longer act as a child. To refuse change and to continue thinking or dressing or acting as a child would be seen as a problem and that there is something wrong. It is this paradox of dreading change and knowing change is essential to life that keeps us in limbo.

Here is the question, while change is essential to life, is there somethings that shouldn’t change?

There are several things that comes to mind that doesn’t change. First, Biblical truth doesn’t change. Some may say that it is an outdated archaic book that isn’t relevant to modern life, yet I say it is just as relevant today and tomorrow as it was 20 years ago or even 2000 years ago. Another thing that doesn’t change is Christ love for you. So often we think that if we do the right thing and don’t mess us then Jesus will love me, yet if I mess up then that love is reduced or even removed. The simple truth is that Jesus loves you warts and all.

Are there things that should change? Let me give you several things that should change:
1) Your love for your spouse will change over the course of time. So many newly weds go into marriage thinking that the ‘butterflies’ and the ‘honeymoon’ period will last forever, yet when it changes they think something is wrong and that they have ‘fallen out of love’. The reality is that the love between husband and wife evolves over time and as the phases of life shift. To love your spouse is a daily and active decision.
2) The methods you use to accomplish the task of life. Technology changes, your knowledge and experience increases, and your skill level changes. As these things change the way that you accomplish task changes.
3) Eating and exercise habits change. As we age we have to be more conscientious of our diet and our physical activity. Those sweets that didn’t bother us as children, teens and young adults, now become a significant concern with weight and our general health. Our exercise routine has become more intentional and the level of intensity changes as we age.
4) The methodology of how we do church must change. The gospel message mustn’t change. We must maintain biblical fidelity, yet the manner in which we accomplish the mission of making disciples must change to remain effective in the culture around us. I’m not saying that we must be like the culture around us, yet what I’m saying is that we must position ourselves to effectively reach the culture around us.

I’ve heard it said that as a church we are perfectly designed to get the results that we are getting. My friends, as I look at the world around me and as I look at the effectiveness of the church, what I see is worse than incredibly discouraging.

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Yet in so many things in life, change is essential. It is incredibly unwise to change for change sake, yet wise change positions oneself, the church, or the organization to make the leap toward greater effectiveness.

Strengthen the Family, Church, and Association

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago (April 10-13) of attending a conference and while much of the information didn’t come as much of a surprise to me, it did stick with me and solidified a few ideological convictions that I have. One ideological conviction that was renewed is this, spiritually healthy individuals and families make a spiritually healthy church, spiritually healthy churches make a spiritually healthy association or network of churches. It is the idea of what is the basic building block and for the church the basic building block is the individual and/or the individual family. So here is the question I want you to pray about and think on, how can the church encourage, support, and resource individuals and/or families to be spiritually healthy? Here is the working assumed answer that must be fleshed out:

1) Healthy and Vibrant Sunday School or Small Group Teachers and Sunday School Classes or Small Groups, that not only teaches the foundations and principles of the faith but also shares life together. Within this is also a system of care for both the individual and the family.

2) With healthy and vibrant Sunday School or Small Group Teachers and Sunday School Classes or Small Groups, is a process to recruit, train, and mentor new Sunday School leaders/teachers.

3) A growing foundation of one-on-one or small group discipleship groups (D-Groups). It is foundational for a more mature believer to pour their life into one that is newer in the faith. Let’s be honest the Christian faith is a generational faith, in that it is passed from one generation to the next. This can be seen in an older generation passing the faith to a younger generation, and this can also be seen in a more mature believer pouring their life into the life of one that is not as mature. My emphasis for now is on new believers (believer for 5 years or less). This process of D-Groups is to be one where those who go through the process are also challenged to pour their life into another.

4) A process to train, encourage, support, and resource parents to be the primary spiritual leaders and teachers in their family. The range of parents will be for children from preschool to high school.

What do you think of the general premise? Are there things that you would add or subtract?

Knocked Down Not Knocked Out

They say that there are two things guaranteed in life, taxes and death. While taxes may seem like death, there is a third that isn’t in this saying, struggles and pains. Struggles and pains are sadly a part of this life and there is no getting around this fact.

Sometimes our struggles and pains are financial. We live on a budget, yet there are times that our money is funny as we get further away from our last pay check. Sometimes the struggles and pains are with relationships. Maybe there is a disagreement with a friend that has divided or broken ‘your relationship. There are also times that trust is broken with a family member and you just don’t know if you will be able to trust them again.

Our struggles and pains can be in the form where we just can’t seem to catch a break. Murphy of Murphy’s law becomes your new and unwanted friend, where what can go wrong, does. Sometimes the struggles and pains are physical, with an injury or a painful diagnosis. Sometimes these struggles and pains are with the loss of a loved one. Struggles and pains are sadly a part of this life.

These struggles and pains can cut us deep, knock us down, and at times they can even deliver a knock out blow. My friends, there is no preventing the fact that these struggles and pains do cut us deep, they hurt and the pain stays with us for days or years, and at times a life time. In like manner there is no preventing the fact that these pains and struggles can knock us down with the blows that are either significantly hard or the blow catches us off guard and sends us to the mat, dazed and confused. Yet, these pains and struggles do not have to knock you out. A.A. Milne the creator of Winnie the Pooh once stated, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

How can you keep these struggles and pains from knocking you out? First, if you are a believer, you have an anchor in Jesus Christ. Psalm 31:2-4 states, “Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength (NASB).” What an amazing passage that gives us the promise that we can hold tightly and confidently to the Lord, as a ship holds tightly and confidently to an anchor in the midst of a storm, as the passage tells us that the Lord is a ‘rock of strength’, ‘a stronghold’, and ‘my fortress’. Not only are we given this truth, but we are given a second truth in this passage, the Lord will lead and guide you through life’s ups and downs.

Second, you need support from loved ones. We were not meant to go through this life alone, so we need others in our life. This is especially true in those times of life’s pains and struggles, where we need those words of encouragement, that shoulder to cry on, and that pat on the back. We simply need those loved ones around us, to help us remember that we are not alone. If you are that loved one, can you be there to be that presence, that word of encouragement, or that pat on the back to remind them that they are not alone?

Third, you need to refocus on your purpose. Each of us has a purpose in our life, yet when we are in the crucible of life it is easy to loose track of that purpose. I am reminded of Elijah after he is threatened by Jezebel in 1 Kings 19. As a result Elijah runs, yet the Lord restores him by refocusing him on his purpose as a prophet.

Simply we get distracted and detoured by pains and struggles. The problem is when we loose our purpose because of a pain, we get lost in the pain. When we get lost in the pain we go down the rabbit hole and the way out is to refocus on our purpose.

My friends, you may find yourself in the midst of pain or struggle, remember to hold on to the Lord as the anchor of your life, that you are not alone, and that you still have a purpose. You may be knocked down, but you are not knocked out.

Chasing your Lions

Here is an article I wrote for the local newspaper here in Asheboro, NC. You can find it over the next couple of days in the pastor’s column at http://courier-tribune.com/faith-worship.

 

I know I’m a little different, that is ok. One of the unusual things I personally do is at Christmas my attention moves to the cross and at Easter, you guessed it, my attention goes back to that first Christmas with the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Luke 2:8-11 states of the birth of Christ, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

In this passage we are introduced to some shepherds and we have an angel who delivers a message that will forever change the course of humanity. When these shepherds saw this angel we are told that they were “terribly frightened”. Yet what I want us to notice is this simple message from the angel, “Do not be afraid.” I wonder how many of us are buffeted by fear? How many opportunities do we let slip by because of fear? Your fear may be that conversation you know you really need to have, yet your fear keeps you from engaging in that conversation. Your fear could be a situation or some type of circumstance that you see as your Goliath that is too big or impossible to overcome. In the end your fear keeps you from being a lion chaser, a conqueror, a giant slayer.

Some time ago I came across a manifesto of sorts from Mark Batterson in his book In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. In this manifesto he states, “Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. Chase the lion!”

Paul tells us this same truth in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” We can enjoy the journey of life, we can set God-sized goals, we can blaze new trails. We can take that leap of faith because we have been given power and love and boldness, not fear. My friends, we are not called to fear and worry, but we are called to be lion chasers, conquerors, and giant slayers.

You ask, how do we overcome our fear? First, you overcome your fear through prayer. I truly believe that everything should begin and end on our knees in prayer. You need to seek the source of your strength, to give you boldness to overcome. Second, you need to trust in our Heavenly Father, because He wants the best for you. There is an insurance company that has the slogan, “You’re in good hands.” When it comes to your Heavenly Father, you are truly in good hands. Third, there comes a point where you have to take that step of faith. It may be uncomfortable, yet you have to make a move.

The question remains, what lion or giant is God calling you to chase?

Faith that Needs CPR: Part 1

I have been wondering what does a faith that is alive look like? To put it another way, what does a life that is radically connected to and worshiping King Jesus look like? As I have thought, the solution is simple, a life that is radically worshiping and connected to King Jesus is a faith that is action producing. In fact I would say that a life that is radically transformed by Christ must be action producing. Here is what I have discovered:

Faith + the outpouring of works because of faith = a living and vibrant faith

Faith – no outpouring of works = a dead faith, a faith that needs CPR

Now please hear me, I am not saying that one can be saved through simply being a good person or doing enough good things (works-based salvation). Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB) clearly says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” What I’m saying is that the natural result of our faith in Jesus is godly works or actions.

Over the next 3 post I will give three reasons that our faith in Jesus must be exemplified with actions.

What do you think? Is this discovery true or untrue? What stories have you seen whether good or bad when it comes to this issue?

Listening with Care

I am a task oriented and goal setting person in life and in work. I hate down time. I hate being overly early to meetings, as I could have gotten that ‘one more thing done’. My life operates by moving from one task to the next. To be honest, in my conversations I am more of a person of “give me the facts” or “give me the information I need and let’s move on”. This is both good and bad.

It is good in that I’m able to accomplish the things I need to accomplish. It is good because it keeps me motivated and moving. It is good…

Yet it is bad, you see because I am so task oriented, I can inadvertently come across as cold and uncaring. Cold and uncaring is not me, but because I’m constantly moving from one task to the next it is difficult for me to slow down, much less stop, and truly listen to others. This is a lesson I’m constantly having to learn and relearn and relearn again. This is a lesson I am and have struggled to perfect. This is a lesson that affects so much of life. It affects my marriage relationship with my wife. It affects my relationship with my children. It affects my relationship with my friends. It affects my ability to lead.

When it comes to leadership, the lesson I’m learning is leading is as much about relationship with those you lead as it is about accomplishing the goal. It is and must be a both/and. It is foolish to try to accomplish a goal through leadership without investing in the relationships with those you lead. For me and maybe for you, this all comes down to truly listening. To stopping and truly hearing someone out.

Here are the questions I working through now and maybe questions for you to work through as well.

  1. Am I making the people I have relationships with and those I lead feel valued and important?
  2. Am I creating enough margin in my day to slow down and truly listen? For me without this margin, I simply race from one task to the next with little time in between.
  3. Am I truly listening before I think of responses?

Depression, Suicide, and Hope

With the recent death of Robin Williams, depression and suicide have come to the forefront of many peoples minds. According to the CDC there were 39,518 suicides in 2011. Put in another way there was a suicide every 13 minutes. When it comes to depression the NIH reports an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. This represents nearly 7 percent of all U.S. adults. 

The point of this post isn’t to give all the in’s and out’s of depression and suicide: causes, symptoms, and the like. It is not my purpose at this point to enter the debate on the brain chemistry of serotonin, hereditary issues, or environmental issues. The point of this post is multifold.

First, depression and suicide is real. To pretend it isn’t real and it doesn’t affect loved ones is foolish and dangerous. To stick our heads in the sand doesn’t make depression disappear. I want to encourage you to be able to identify it and understand it. Here is a link that you may find helpful.

Second, take a few moments an tell someone you care, especially someone you may know who is struggling. Maybe this touch of encouragement comes in the form of a phone call, a text message, an email, an old school note in the mail, or even better yet a pat on the back. Whatever form it may be tell them you care, be that smiling face, be that caring touch, and be that word of encouragement.

Third, overcoming depression takes more than just taking a “happy pill”. Overcoming depression can be helped through anti-depressive medications, yet depression must ultimately be overcome through talking and counseling. To try to overcome depressing simply with “happy pills” is like trying to bandage a gun shot. The bandage may help temporarily, but the bandage isn’t going to solve a gun shot. Someone must go in and remove the bullet particles and repair the damage.  Find someone that can help, like a competent pastor or a christian counselor.

Fourth, lean on Christ. He is the source of hope, He is the source of love, and He is the source of encouragement. Apart from Him there is no ultimate source of hope or love or encouragement. Psalms 31:24 states, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Bountiful Blessing: Part 1

This past week I found myself feeling awful. I had no energy to do nothing but rest. The unfortunate thing about feeling bad this week is I didn’t want to give it to my wife or son and hence I had to keep my distance and they keep their distance from me. I started to get the feeling like I had cooties or the plague. Yet when I felt better and more like myself I was able to go back to normal activities and be around my family. What a blessing it was to be able to sleep in the bed with my wife instead of a couch. What a blessing it was to be able to eat dinner with my wife instead of not being able to eat at all. What a blessing it was to be able to pick up my son and play with him.

When I returned from being sick, I was able to return to the joys and blessings of life. The same it true with the Lord. We hear the statement that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, sadly when we get to the other side we find that we were sadly mistaken. There are times when we are living in and walking with the Lord when for one reason or another we become distracted and we begin to think that the grass is greener on the other side. So we wonder away from the Lord, chasing the greener grass. If we are fortunate we quickly find out that it really isn’t greener, yet oftentimes we keep chasing moving further and further away from the Lord.

Here is the promise I want to give to you this morning. When we return to the Lord we will enjoy His blessings. As you sit here this morning you may say, “Pastor Keith, I am walking with the Lord and I haven’t wondered away. How does this apply?”

The reality is there are people whose lives we intersect all the time who have wondered away from the Lord. It may be you spouse or a child. It may be a neighbor or a co-worker. Whoever it is I want to encourage you to share with them that there are blessing when we return to the Lord.

In Hosea 14 we see several blessings when we return to the Lord.

In verse 4 we see that you will receive healing.

The first part of verse 4 where it says, “I will heal their apostasy.”

What this means is that as we have wondered and strayed from the Lord, He will heal us of those wounds, He will heal us of that spiritual blindness.  Let’s talk about both of these for a moment.

Maybe in your life you fell in to some sort of habitual sin that you would do over and over and over. Maybe it was a propensity to tell lies. You found yourself telling a lie and then you had to tell another lie to cover that lie and another lie to cover that lie. Before you knew it, you were caught in web of lies. Maybe you found yourself abusing and overusing alcohol or other medicines or drugs. Maybe it started when something horribly wrong happened in your life and you were trying to find an escape. Now you find yourself living for that escape.  Maybe you found yourself in the trap of pornography. It started off with one picture, but now it is all consuming and you think about it all the time. With easy access of movies, magazines, and the internet this is an easy trap to fall into, and a trap that will easily bury you. Maybe you found yourself in an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse. It started off with a harmless conversation, yet either quickly or slowly turned into something far different.

We are not told that the ramifications of habitual sins to our relationships and our physical life are erased, yet it is only through the Lord can you find healing, forgiveness, and ability to move on with life.

Also with the Lord’s healing, we have the healing of spiritual blindness. Spiritual blindness happens when we wonder away from the Lord  and blinders are put on. We walk in darkness and die in darkness. We start rationalizing the things that we do and the things we say. We start putting ourselves in positions we otherwise know we shouldn’t be in. We start being influenced by people we know shouldn’t influence us. The truth is oftentimes we don’t even realize it, because we have become spiritually blinded. Yet it is the Lord as we return to Him, He removes these spiritual blinders, He heals you, and He helps you to see the light.

When we return to the Lord we receive the blessing of healing.

The Grammy’s and Living in a Fallen World: Part 3

All day today I have been dragging, something has been off. I suspect it is all because of a ball game. You see I’m a big Duke fan and well the men’s basketball team just didn’t play up to Duke standards and to be frank just didn’t play like they really wanted the win last night for the UNC game. All day today I have been just off key. Yet, one thing I know with the UNC win over Duke last night, we live in a broken and fallen world (well maybe that is a stretch, but it makes me feel better about life). Either way all we have to do is watch the news or simply look around and know that we live in a fallen world that is far from the Lord.

A weeks ago we began the series on how we can respond to this fallen world. The first post we discussed the great need for us as believers to stay engaged with the world around us. It would be easy for us to look around and say we don’t want any part it, yet the Bible tells us that we are ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) for Christ and that as we are living and going that we should make disciples from new believers to maturing believers (Matt 28:19-20).

The second post we discussed that we as believers must live and stand by conviction. Our faith isn’t some sort of suggestion but our lives are to become more Christ-like in our words, actions, attitudes, and in our thoughts. When the Bible says that one thing and the world around us says something else what will we do? How will we live? Will we do what is easy and compromise or will we do what is oftentimes difficult and live by our convictions?

In this third post we are going to discuss that as a believer you must know that when you live by conviction, you will feel increasingly less comfortable. What creates this discomfort?  I believe the key to this discomfort that we see the two world: the world we live in and the world of eternal life seeing the Lord face to face. If you have been in the church very long you have probably heard the slogan “In the world, but not of the world.” This is a true statement, with just one revision. The Bible puts it like this in John 17:14-18, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Clearly from this verse we as believers are not of the world, yet we are sent into the world. Therefore, we are sent into the world, but not of the world. It is this sense and with this growing awareness of the Kingdom that we will grow more and more uncomfortable.

This is especially true in certain circumstances we find ourselves. Maybe you are watching a TV show like this past Grammy Awards show or having a movie go in a direction you didn’t expect. Maybe you find yourself uncomfortable at the office around the water cooler as one co-worker is talking negatively about another, it may be that colorful and course joke, or it may be just the general topic of discussion. As we go through life and as we live more and more by conviction we will find ourselves in situations of discomfort.

What do we do with this discomfort? In many situations we as believers must continue to actively be salt and light. Several weeks ago I was sitting around a table when one person said something that completely went against my convictions. To this is was very quick speak and stand my ground, to be that salt and light.

Yet, there are some situations we must follow Joseph’s example and simply get out. You remember Joseph that young fellow with the special coat, some of us may have learned about him as the coat of many colors. You remember in Genesis 39, Joseph was serving in Potiphar’s house, “One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She (Potiphar’s wife) caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” During the Grammy’s Christian singer Natalie Grant, nominated twice, walked out of the show.  You ask what is the situation that you should simply get out? I think there is a few questions that will help us answer this question.

1) Are you in a position to influence the situation? If you are not in a position to influence then get out.

2) Where you at in your walk with Christ? Are you fairly young in the faith or strong and mature in the faith? The less mature you are in your walk the more likely you may find yourself in a situation that you simply need to get out.

3) What is the level of celebration of non-biblical viewpoints? To put this another way, there is no need to knowingly be in a lion’s den. If the celebration of a non-biblical viewpoint is high, then the ability to affectively influence is low.

The reality is that as we live more and more by our convictions the more and more we will be uncomfortable.