Lean On Me

by Erin Bird

Remember that famous song Lean On Me? It was the only #1 hit Bill Withers had (all the way back in 1972), but it has become a classic.

While I hope Riverwood will be the type of church where we can truly lean on each other, that’s not what I am going to write about today. We are in the middle of a series here on the blog about The Riverwood Way, and this week we are going to be talking about “leaning.” However, instead of leaning on me, I want to encourage you to lean on Jesus by leaning on His truth.

Leaning on the Truth

Here’s how we put it in The Riverwood Way:

“While we lead with grace, we will always lean on truth – it is our foundation. And we believe the most important truth is found in the 66 Books of the Bible.”

That sounds good on paper (or on a website). But when someone tries to live that out, it can be bothersome. Because sometimes we come across things in the Scripture that run completely counter to what we want.

For instance, when a coworker is being incredibly annoying, it can be difficult to lean on truth and “not let any corrupting talk come out of your mouth.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Or when your sibling starts making fun of you for the 258th time for something that happened years ago when you were a kid, it can be hard to lean on truth and “put away anger.” (Colossians 3:8 )

Or when some attractive man or woman looks at you with longing eyes (whether on the street or in an ad), it can be hard to lean on truth and not “commit adultery in [your] heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

I could go on. We all struggle in various areas to live in the truth of God’s ways. We love God’s grace when we screw up in these areas, but we don’t always like the truth that points out that these things are sin.

And yet, Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 ) The truth He was talking about was His Gospel. When you know the truth that Jesus died for your sins, you are free to actually not let any corrupting talk come out of your mouth, or to put away anger, or to not commit adultery in your heart. Wow!

This is why we lean on truth. We lead with grace towards others because we know God has given grace to us. But we lean on the gospel because it is what frees us and changes our identity from sinner to saint and from slave to citizen.

So when your inner longings want to give in to temptation or the world around you preaches something different than the Scripture, lean on the truth of Jesus because He will truly set you free.

Go Like St. Patrick

by Erin Bird

If you are reading this on the day I am posting it out, I hope you remembered to wear your green today. (Technically, you are supposed to wear green if you are Catholic and orange if you are protestant, but what do us Americans know…)

But the timing of St. Patrick’s Day couldn’t come any better for us at Riverwood, because we are in the middle of our Putting Go Back in the Gospel series. And that’s exactly what St. Patrick did. He left his home to go to Ireland in order to tell people the Jesus story.

This Sunday, we conclude our series with “Share the Truth.” We will be walking word-by-word through the key passage for this series, as well as finding some simple ways we can “share the gospel” with our friends and family – and do it more like St. Patrick and less like a shady used car salesman or your socially-awkward uncle. I think you will find this Sunday extremely encouraging and helpful.

So I look forward to seeing you Sunday, 10:00 am, at the Civic Center, whether you are wearing green or not!

Preventing Truth Decay

In John 18Jesus is having a conversation with Pontius Pilate. Jesus has been arrested by the Jewish leaders, already endured a false trial before the Jewish high court, and is now standing before the Roman governor, who is being pressured by the Jewish leaders to kill him.

Pilate is trying to figure out who Jesus is and why the Jewish leaders handed him over to the Romans to be put to death. As they converse, Jesus says the reason he came to earth was to “testify to the truth.”

But Pilate mocks this concept. He responds, “What is truth?”

Modern-Day Pilates

I think Pilate would fit well in our 21st century. Many people today seem to say, “what is truth?” They think, “what’s true for you may not be true for me,” which is another way of saying, “what is truth?”

When it comes to food or art – sure, you can have different “truth.” One person thinks chocolate is amazing. Another thinks it’s awful (and we all know THAT person is completely crazy! 😉 You could then say that they both speak the truth, even though they have differing opinions.

But with most things in life, you can’t do this. You can’t look at a blue shirt and say it’s red, then claim that it is your “truth” that blue is really red. To do so makes you a modern-day Pilate.

So with most things in life, truth is truth. It just is, no matter what you believe or say.

The Knife of Truth

But let me caution you – truth is like a knife. When you “wield” it, some will be scared and run away. Already in Riverwood’s short life, I’ve been told that our church (or me particularly) is too “fundamentalist,” narrow-minded, and conservative – simply because I choose to believe that there is truth. So people have run from the idea that we want to be a Jesus-centered community of truth. (The ironic thing is that I’ve also been told I’m not conservative enough!)

But the reason we “lean on truth” at Riverwood is because of what Jesus himself said in John 8:32:

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

You see, the truth Jesus is talking about is Himself. When you know Jesus, He will set you free from your sin.

Truth sometimes hurts. It is usually uncomfortable to face our sin. But when we let Jesus wield the knife of truth, like a master surgeon, He carves out our sin, removing it from us, so that we might be spiritually alive and free.

This is why we will lead with grace, welcoming ALL people regardless of their past mistakes, but we will also lean on truth, leading them to the One who loves them exactly as they are, but loves them too much to leave them that way. We will lead them to the truth of the gospel.

So may YOU lean on truth. May you not be afraid of it. May you continue to study it through reading Scripture and being part of a Growth Group or Fight Club. And as you continue to pursue truth in Jesus, may you experience more and more the freedom He generously gives.