The number of folks that comment – I walked away from the church 40 years ago. I’m thinking about going back because I watched your videos – it’s insane to me.
The song may say “little Lord Jesus no crying he makes” but Christmas was not a sweet night, it was a time when goodness invaded a dark world. Paul Swearengin talks about the subversive act of Jesus coming and how Jesus can not to be a sweet, non-crying baby in manger, but instead came to overturn the social and religious order of his day.
This podcast is a broadcast from a Wichita Ignite Show of 12/16/20 with the St. Marks UMC Church in Wichita, KS.
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The number of folks that comment – I walked away from the church 40 years ago. I’m thinking about going back because I watched your videos – it’s insane to me.
Many relationships have been disrupted by the politics of fervent Trump supporting friends and family.
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Podcast Transcript (Transcribed by AI, not 100% accurate)
Pastor Robert Johnson: [00:00:00] hello? Hello. Hello is pastor Robert Johnson and I am here for my. December 16th edition. Our session of ignite with St. Mark United Methodist church out of Wichita, Kansas. And I am so excited about tonight. Always glad, always excited. I am excited every Wednesday night. I love doing this. I love engaging in faith-based conversations.
I love engaging in Bible based conversations. I love engagement conversations that I pray and that I hope. Are having some impact on your wellbeing, your [00:01:00] spiritual wellbeing in your entire well-being of your entire life. And that is helping you to to love God and love your neighbor more. And so thank you all for tuning in.
I see some folks already on, I’m going to invite you and ask you to please text some folks, invite some other folks to come on. And if you will, as well, if you will start, maybe start a watch party and start your own watch party and vice and folks to come on and watch this with you. guest again tonight is.
Paul Swearingen. And I think last time I think I said swearing in, and now this week, this time I’m saying swear engine. So as with me, it changes day to day, Paul is going to give us the correct pronunciation and I’m going to get it. Going forward. This is his third time being with me and I am delighted that he’s willing to come on.
I believe his wife is going to be on late. Ashley’s going to be back on with us as well, past Yolanda. We’re hoping that she’ll be able to come on [00:02:00] at some point, but thank you all for tuning in start a watch party. Texts and folks invite them to watch what brought, what broadcast into my profile page on Facebook, we’ll broadcast into the St.
Mark United Methodist church, Facebook page, and we’re broadcasting to the St. Mark United Methodist church, YouTube channel. So you can watch a broadcast in any one of those places. If you’re on Facebook. You can actually participate in the conversation. So if you post your comments we have some folks who are reading those comments and they will share those as well.
And I can see I’ll be able to see most of your comments and respond as well. So I see we have sued and Sue, I think I’m pronouncing your name right? Sue in the bot Sue neighbor in Springfield, Missouri. Welcome Sue. Thank you for coming on. I see Michael B coats. Thank you for coming on. Michael. Michael says I may not be able to stay long, but I’m glad to be here now.
Thank you for coming on. I see Michael Bruce [00:03:00] coming on. Sue is on a U2, Michael and the two Michaels are on Facebook. But welcome. Thank you guys for coming on. All of you, all who are on, say hello to us, let us know you are here. We love to know that you’re here at the end of the broadcast and the conversation tonight.
I want to spend some time praying for people and and we want to get to know you. I just believe that true transformation happens in the context of healthy relationships and good community. So it’s not about information. Hey Melinda. Hey cousin. Hello, Melinda Jones. That’s my cousin. Hey Melinda.
Thank you for tuning in Melinda, you are going to love pastor Paul. By the way, Melinda, you will appreciate this. He has some connection to Bethel church in Redding, California, and pastor bill Johnson. Hello, pastor Janice Gilbert, my colleague out of Texas. Hello, Mark Powell. Hello, Kara Ville out of all college station, Texas.
The great oldest get [00:04:00] United Methodist church, a place where I served previously. Paul, before I came to Wichita, Kansas. Wonderful. Powerful congregation there, but thank you all for coming on. Let us know you want, as we get into our conversation, we want to talk with you. So we’re going to have a conversation, but we want to hear what you’re saying.
We want to talk to you and want to engage with you by the way, Paul Sue Nevato says that I pronounced her name correctly.
Paul Swearengin: Well done. And she’s from Springfield, Missouri. That’s my home turf man. That’s where I grew up.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Oh, is that right?
Paul Swearengin: Props to Springfield? Yeah. Yeah. Or as we used to call that in the assemblies of God, Mecca.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Very good. Welcome Sue. Thank you for tuning in. And this is my guest for tonight. Pastor Paul swear engine out of Fresno, California. He refers to himself as the.
Paul Swearengin: Nonpartisan evangelical
Pastor Robert Johnson: partisan Evans. [00:05:00] Elica non-partisan evangelical. He is doing some amazing things. You can find him on, on, on Twitter.
You can find him on Tik TOK and I strong. Hey Curtis Johnson. Brother, pastor, and again, pastor Janice Gilbert, two of my colleagues from the grid, from the great plaque from the Texas conference of the United Methodist church. But pastor Paul is doing some amazing things, Melinda on Tik TOK and on Twitter and engaging the next generation, but also tearing down a lot of strong holes.
In terms of politics in this country. And and just really bringing us back to the core of what the gospel is all about, which is loving people. And seeing people’s humanity and that’s how he and I connected. I saw him, I saw tick-tock, I was on Tik TOK, my daughters, just me to tick tock.
I came, went on and right. And one day he popped up and I’m like, I gotta get this guy on there tonight. I’ve got to have him on. I want to have a conversation with him. [00:06:00] I reached out to him and as the Bible says, lo and behold, He responded. And now this is the third time having him on. I hope to have him on many more times.
We’re going to tell you about his book again tonight. And we’re just gonna, his wife will be on later. She is the former mayor of Fresno, California, and they did some amazing things. We had an we had a life-changing conversation. It was life-changing for me the last time they were on and they began to talk.
They talked about. What God did there in Fresno and house, she felt called to run for mayor and then the work they began to do there in that city. And then Paul is doing, is praying about, and God has him on this amazing journey, this great adventure. And I love that. I like the word adventure.
When we talk kingdom, God has him on an amazing adventure to explore new ways, to bring the kingdom, to bear on the lives of people. And I love what he’s doing. I love the joy and creativity and [00:07:00] energy and excitement he brings to it. And so if this is your first time, getting a chance to meet him and hear him, you will see what I’m talking about tonight.
Again. Thank all of you for coming on. Pastor Yolanda. Oliver is now on. She is my. Co pastor associate pastor there with me at St. Mark United Methodist church, and helps me to host ignites Paul. When Ashley comes on LinkedIn, my wife would have, want me to tell you all how low. And she enjoyed it so much.
Enjoy you all the last time. So how are you all, let me just start out. What are you, how are you all, any big plans for next week for the Christmas holiday?
Paul Swearengin: We’ll just do something small, we’re in California, we’re under locked. Down again. And, but, we’re feeling really hopeful with vaccines coming and all of those things.
So we’re hopeful that life is going to get back to normal here shortly. We do have a new year’s trip plan to the coast where we live about three hours from the West coast of California. And so we’re hoping to get to go there. If we’re if the state is open enough for us to go, we’ll get to have a little [00:08:00] vacation around the new year.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Oh, gosh, I hope it opens up for you guys. I know we’ve gotta be safe and I want us to be safe, although yeah, listening, please be safe. Please abide by the restrictions that have been put in place. But I am praying that those places that are on complete lockdown this week. We’ll have some freedom to navigate and move around next week and try to enjoy I know here in Kansas, the weather it’s supposed to be wonderful.
As a matter, at least the next six to seven days, I checked the broadcast Yolanda and it’s perfect sunshine. And I know Florida is supposed to be the sunshine state, but I’ve been in Florida in the summertime and it made their sunshine there, but there’s also a lot of rain there too, and thunderstorms
Paul Swearengin: and humidity.
Pastor Robert Johnson: One good sunshine come to Kansas. So I am evangelizing on behalf. Of the state of Kansas. If you want to enjoy four seasons with with beautiful colors and the fall, beautiful snow [00:09:00] in the winter, lots of greenery in the spring time and mouth summers with lots of sunshine. When the sun is shining here, the clock, the skies are as clear, and blue as I’ve ever seen.
So governor Laura Kelly. I cut my check right now.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: There’s no place like home. There’s like home. I just had to give that little plug.
Paul Swearengin: I think everybody should say where I live is God’s favorite place. So I love that you guys love it. Love your city and love your state.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Zen is Gilbert is laughing at me that she’s a pastor, pastor Yolanda.
I’ve got to introduce you. You will meet our we’ll have pastor Janice on at some point. Wonderful, great pastor out of the Texas conference of of the United Methodist church is doing amazing work there. I knew when I first met her almost 25 years ago, she already had a doctorate in another field and just can’t and then got called into the ministry.
She’s doing amazing things, [00:10:00] Janice. I am honored that you came on tonight. So Paul, I know that I can flow this way with you. And so I want to start here. Where you at what’s the Lord saying to you in terms of just is there a word for us to get us started tonight?
Paul Swearengin: Yeah. I hadn’t really thought about a word coming in, but that’s interesting.
Let’s see what God did say. I know that we’re okay. We’re in a time where God is laying hearts bare. And so I think for some of us, that’s a scary time. And I think we’re going through a little bit of shaking as a culture as a corporate culture, as a country and as a culture, as a church.
And, but when we see through the Bible, it’s not unusual for cultures of countries and churches to be shaken at times so that God can raise up our, or at least get us to pay attention to what’s happening around us and start to look and say, Oh, is God going to take me in a new direction? So I think there’s probably a lot of people that.
Are watching are going to see this that are going to say, man, this is a hard time we’re being shaken. A lot of things are being [00:11:00] challenged and we all love status quo and comfort. But I think God is just saying lean into to the shaking because what’s of heaven will remain. It says in Hebrews 12 and what’s the verse will be shaken away.
And so I just think there’s some man-made stuff on us that God would like to shake off a little bit. So lean into the shaking, lean into the hard conversations, lean into the, to the things that you don’t want to challenge your belief systems and let those things be challenged. Romans 12 two says be transformed by the renewal of your mind or the ongoing renewing of your mind.
It actually says. And so if things are being challenged in your life right now, that’s a good place to be in God will you’ll find God and maybe some new aspects of the character of God
Pastor Robert Johnson: in that. Wow. Paul, thank you for that word so much. And I want to affirm that pastor Yolanda knows that after our last, my last conversation with you, the last two weeks, I’ve been preaching about the dark darkness and the challenges of the moment and how they, if we [00:12:00] lean into them, that they, it can be, these are opportunities for blessing beginning with John, the Baptist doctor, the whole story.
I love John the Baptist. I felt like he’s just. I put, you had kind of agenda Baptist pole. It’s there had been no profit on the scene for 400 years. And John shows up in the wilderness. At the bank of the Jordan river and he’s weird looking and he’s got, he’s eaten locusts and wild honey. And he’s the son of these guys.
He comes from a priestly family on both sides. So on his momma’s side and his daddy’s side. So he could have played the system and went straight to the Pisco, Bussey being a Bishop in no time, been Bishop John, the Baptist. Or whatever. Yeah. He cast all of that aside and goes into the desert and starts declaring it.
And then I love what Matthew says, Matt, the gospel of Matthew says that all of Judea and all of the judge, Judy and countryside, we’re going out to see, hear him. [00:13:00] That’s what every preacher wants. Every preacher wants to like, can you start your ministry? You want people to say, man, the whole city was going to going up, going over to hear him.
I hear her. And John had that happening to him. And, but at the same time, as soon as the Pharisees and Sadducees show up, He starts preaching repentance, rebuke, and repentance boldly and courageously. So I see you in the same sense as definitely not looking weird, Paul, I don’t need to chop it up. What I mean is that you’ve set aside the traditions and structures of the church.
And going into a kind of wilderness and wilderness, meaning that there without the normal structures, right? Without the normal parameters, without the normal rules that got that guy church life set that aside and gone into places like Tik, TOK and Twitter. To proclaim the gospel of the kingdom.
And so I thought about you as I prepare that message. And and then of course, this past weekend, I preached from [00:14:00] Yolanda the dark side of Christmas, and basically talking about how we think of Christmas with all the lights and all the beauty and the red and the green, and like the stuff that’s behind me on my screen.
But that the first Christmas was really full of scandal and full of Unusual stuff going on, babies were being killed. Herod was massacre and bah massacring babies Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus have to flee to Egypt as refugees. It’s, there’s all kinds of darkness going on
Paul Swearengin: an unwed mother
Pastor Robert Johnson: and unwed mother.
W unwed mother with and nobody read the people with with an unknown father. So she’s Gavin, she’s got a baby daddy, but nobody she’s got a baby that I couldn’t say that at St. Mark throw me out, but she had baby daddy.
She has baby daddy issues, but Paul Yolanda, God was like, [00:15:00] At work in the midst of all of that chaos and darkness and scandal and fear and all of that, that God was at work as he had never been at work before. I often tell people that I think that the birth of Jesus is the greatest miracle because Jesus, the resurrection is most important, but there were other resurrections in the new Testament.
There were resurrections in, in, in the Hebrew scriptures. But the Virgin birth is unique in all of the Bible and it is the greatest miracle because it’s God taking on human flesh, the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And but it happened, it only happened through a lot of chaos and a lot of darkness, but God was in the midst of it so that I wanted Paul to come on tonight.
And just for us to talk about. That other side of Christmas that people don’t normally talk about. And Paul, what you, I know that I told you [00:16:00] that’s what we want to talk about. Any initial thoughts that you want to share with us?
Paul Swearengin: Yeah. I think what to go with your theme, and I really love that idea of looking at a this scandalous side of Christmas and Christmas, not being this gentle.
Wonderful. Sweet moment. And I always hear the song, little, the little baby Jesus, no crying. He makes I’m like, nah, I think that’s crap. I think he cried like any other baby but while, this Christmas wasn’t invasion. Christmas was a time when God said I’m going to insert myself into history to change history forever.
And we even Mark history today from that moment, VC and NAD and Isaiah chapter nine tells us that, to us, a child is born, a son is given and it says. The government will rest or is resting upon his shoulders. Yeah. To, to the increase of that government and of peace. There will be no end. [00:17:00] So that was an invasion where God said, I’m going to come and establish my government, my kingdom on earth.
And it will never stop increasing from that moment. And so while we may say, Ooh, it’s getting dark out here. We still need to understand the government and peace, the government and Shalom of Jesus. Is ever increasing and by God the enemy wanted to stop it. He killed every baby in a city to try to stop it.
And those that were supposed to be listening and waiting for this to happen, didn’t even recognize it took John the Baptist in the wounds, some shepherd guys and some, some Muslims from some country from far away to come and announced that it had happened because. The people who were looking for the Messiah had no idea that it was happening.
And so it’s just, it’s such an amazing story to look at, I think,
Pastor Robert Johnson: And it flies in the face of contemporary Christendom, the very people who have taken on the name of Christ, particularly in America and the way we practice Christianity is the [00:18:00] absolute opposite. Of this invasion you talk about as a matter of fact, Yolanda, Michelle, if one of you, I will put that on.
I want to make sure that our audience, that our folks grasp that line, DePaul gave us. And by the way, folks get your pen out because he and his wife asked when she comes on, they’re going to give us, they’re going to give us multiple statements just through the Holy spirit, as the, as they talk that will, that you can grasp and begin to build up.
Add to add another room. I add more volume to your spiritual house. And so that concept that it was the Christmas was an invasion. It was an invasion until the kingdom of darkness and our takeover. Michelle, if you’ll put that just put that up as a band. I want people to see that are you learn?
I don’t know if you can type it in, but Christmas wasn’t an invasion. Paul, let me ask you, so then. What given what you just said, what thoughts come to mind for you when you [00:19:00] compare that what God was doing? And I just mentioned it with what’s going on with Christianity today. So you have this poor couple.
You have the wrong people affirming the birth of Jesus, strangers, Muslims from Babylon, from the East. You have all this, these things going on. But God was, they were on the side of God. But if you took that same story and put it in America today. Oh gosh. Can you imagine what happened? What Mary will be called?
What Joseph will be called? What I will be called?
Paul Swearengin: Jesus was an immigrant too. He was an illegal immigrant into another country and then came back here and yeah, I think he, he came to disrupt the status quo and the religious. Political status quo of his own people. And one of the things I’ve always found interesting is Matthew one gives us the lineage and basically Matthew, the Hebrew is trying to prove that Jesus is the [00:20:00] descendant of Abraham that’s been promised.
And when you look at that list of names of people that are in the lineage of Jesus, there were three women in that lineage. And it’s always been fascinating to me that all three women are. Foreigners there. They were not Jews. Although Tamar it’s a little iffy if she was or not but Ruth was a foreigner and rehab was a foreigner.
Not people. And that nationalism was very important to the Jewish people of the day. They felt like Israel needed to be made great. Again, they needed to return to being the greatest economic military power on earth. And Jesus came to say no guys, that’s not the thing that God’s doing in this season.
And you don’t have eyes to see and ears to hear. And so you’re missing it. And so when that, what that relates to today is, a lot of people say to me what would you know, would Jesus be a Trump supporter or a Biden supporter? And I say, All I know is that he would love people and he would love them in a way that I think the Evan gelical church that I grew up [00:21:00] in and I lived in and I pastored in, I don’t think we would like him very much because I think he would be raw and messy and he would bring people into the church that we don’t like.
And he would be sitting with. Gay people and Muslim people and foreigners and immigrants and illegal immigrants and DACA, dreamers. And we would be like, Jesus, yeah. Why aren’t you hanging out with the good people? Aren’t why aren’t you hanging out with us? And so he came to me to invade and disrupt the status quo of his own church in his own lineage.
And knowing that he had this immigrants foreigner past in his inheritance to begin with. And I think today he’d be saying, Oh, Christians, come on. Let’s tear down the status quo and let’s start loving people and not let our rightness, we’ve just come to treasure being right and theologically correct.
And biblically, correct. So much that it’s given us permission to not care about people. And I just think he would disrupt that and it would be so uncomfortable to be around him today.
[00:22:00] Pastor Robert Johnson: Wow. Great stuff, Paul. So I want to just. Put that up. This is one of the responses as it relates to the development of Christianity culture and Western hemisphere did the message of hellfire and brimstone create the culture of individualism and the movement, which focus on the salvation of converts more than focused on the concept of serving as a community of believers.
That’s a great question, Michael. And I would say absolutely. I think that’s one of the ways that God’s truth got perverted. That Jesus was coming against the John, the Baptist was coming against. And of course now it’s like things have come full cycle and that will same that those same heretical ideas have come back and taken over.
Because again, Paul just laid it out. If you brought Jesus into our culture, it’d be a mess. It would, He would not be
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: lying.
Pastor Robert Johnson: He would not lie. As a matter of fact, I got it. I got to say this Yolanda. So Paul we’re [00:23:00] working on a project called Nehemiah village, which is a project that’s going to cost about one, one and a half million dollars, but it’s to house X incarcerated persons.
And is to get, and so what we found and we connected with the program called working men of Christ. And what they do is that they part the big thing. They have a receipt, they have a success rate, whether their recidivism rate is like 5% for the longest, it was all in 2%. But what they’re doing is providing community.
So these guys connect with community while they’re still in prison. When they come out, they’re going to help them get licensed. They’re going to help them get jobs they’re going to, but the main thing they do is that they give them immediate community. They move into committee. So they move into a house with each man.
He, the guy moves into a house for the men and they live in in, in CRE what I’ll call Christian community. They take care of each other. They pray together every day they study together every day, they support each other. They go out and look for [00:24:00] jobs and go get their license until they find a job.
They spend the rest of the day doing community service. They come back home, they do dinner, prayer and it’s tight. And so it’s so interesting. We’re so excited about the project. But the other day, I just a heavy conviction. I’ve never been in a church where we yes I was. Yes. That was where we raised millions of dollars for a cup for a building project.
As a matter of fact, we did it a couple of times Millions of dollars to, for building projects. And as I thought about that, I was like, I don’t know if I were, if I really had to be honest, I don’t know that if Jesus showed up hall, that Jesus would ever say to us, I really liked. That huge sanctuary I’ll spend 20 million.
Paul Swearengin: I really love your building,
Pastor Robert Johnson: right? Like up to hungry people. Don’t [00:25:00] worry about the single mothers. Who are single mother who didn’t choose to be single mothers. Some guy walked away from her. She’s got four kids, she’s working two jobs and trying to feed our kids and take care of our kids and take care of our own health and her wellbeing.
And, she’s about to get kicked out of our apartment because she’s behind on her lease. That, that Jesus would say don’t. Yeah, don’t worry about that. I really liked. And Oh, the carpet is amazing.
Paul Swearengin: He did say go and make disciples. He didn’t say get disciples to come into your building and have really good music.
And. And smoke machines to get them in there. And I’m not against buildings and smoke machines but we do have to have our priorities in order. And sometimes I do find those walls in that building, it’s like the disciples and they’re like, look at this temple, isn’t this thing, amazing Jesus.
And he’s nah, you know that thing’s not going to stand at all. Yeah. And but he’s, but that didn’t stop him from saying the kingdom’s going to [00:26:00] advance. So Christmas dinner, it says we’re given a son and the government’s going to rest on his shoulders and it wasn’t to win as many people to heaven as possible.
It was so that he would sit on the throne of David and the kingdom of heaven would be on earth. So that it would be on earth as it is in heaven. And so I love that comment from Michael. Cause I hear that a lot from people like let’s just save souls. Paul, why are you talking about all this other stuff?
And I just see Jesus was looking at Jerusalem and saying Jerusalem. I just would gather you up like a mother hen, if you would let me, he was looking at them collectively as a group. Or and saying, Oh, I just want to grab this city and hug it. And let this be the place where the throne of David is, but you’ve rejected me.
And so now we’re going to, we’re going to do something greater and bigger to the rest of the world. So I think that he does look at our corporate heart as well as our individual hearts. And I love it when people. Come into the family and pray a [00:27:00] prayer and Jesus transforms their life. I’m all for that.
I think it’s amazing. But if that’s the only thing we’re trying to do, So here’s my really outlandish statement. Why don’t we get people saved and then kill them. So they get to go to heaven, or is there a job for us to do here on earth to make it on earth as it is in heaven to bring the kingdom and advance the kingdom and peace.
And that word piece is really interesting to me because that, the Hebrew word of that is Shalom, which doesn’t mean the lack of conflict or the lack of war. It means wholeness. It means things being restored and reconnected to heaven, re restored as they were at creation.
And Jesus said, blessed are the peace makers. So you can’t like sit and do nothing and make something. And so he was saying, go. Restore things make them right. And so I, I think Jesus was constantly saying you see that Samaritan woman. Let me model this for you. You go sit with her. I don’t care what your culture [00:28:00] says.
You sit with her and you connect her to the father and tell her the father thinks she’s amazing and knows who she is. And that tax collector, you go sit with that guy and if it runs your reputation great, they hated me. The religious guys hated me. They may hate you too, but you sit with that tax collector.
You, you sit with that Muslim. You sit with that black lives matter leader. You go sit with the people that’s going to make the religious people say, Ooh, Yeah. Why are you sitting with that guy? And so sometimes that means our really pretty carpets in our building may have to get a little bit dirty from people’s shoes to really do that.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Paul it is, and Yolanda, you both of, you all know this, but I think it’s worth mentioning. So with the Christmas story, from the moment, from the fair, from the very first announcement to the point that John the Baptist comes on the scene and then throughout the life of Jesus, John, the Baptist.
And then Jesus, they only expressed anger towards one group and it was not that what we would [00:29:00] call the centers. It wasn’t the tax collectors. It wasn’t the adults or as an adult. It was the religious folks. That’s the only time Jesus got really mad was at the reel was about Ray and John, the Baptist, the same thing.
He’s baptizing, he’s preaching the kingdom. And then he said, the Bible says he sees the Pharisees and Sadducees come coming. And he says, who told you brood of Vipers? Who told you about about what going on and he says, and and then he goes off on him literally. And so I just, I go back to that because I, and I, what is it about Paul?
What is it about says, and we’re religious P we’re religious, but what is it about religious people that it’s so easy for us to become the barriers to what God’s doing in the world?
Paul Swearengin: Because, I, Jesus said his mission statement was to come to set the captives free. And we may [00:30:00] think that captivity is alcoholism or, something like that.
And those are definitely bonded just for some people. But I think what he said is want to fulfill the law. So that now the law will be written on your hearts and minds, and it will be done in relationship with God first commandment and relationship with man with each other. And that’s all the law from now on you, you have it written on your heart and you walk it out in relationship with God and with man.
And so religion then adds a layer between that. You know what? I think what I think Jesus hated was. God wanted these people to be priest and kingdom advancers and peacemakers. And instead they had to go through this priest who once a year, went in and killed lambs on their behalf and said, I want to crush that system.
And so Jesus, didn’t go to all that trouble to crush that system and have that temple wiped out so we could create a new religion. And a new layer between man and God he wanted [00:31:00] that to be wiped out. And so that’s why I think because the law creates this self righteousness and it creates bondage for people and sets, it gives us a chance as humans to say I’m not as bad as that guy like the Pharisee with the public.
And so that self-righteousness, that ostracizes people and marginalizes people, Jesus says that’s. That’s what I came to set people free from. So why would I want it to be back again? And I always love it. Jesus was not this sweet guy, and at some times people are like, Paul you’re, you’re just so sarcastic.
And you’re mean to Christian people. And I looked at it, I wish I knew the passage now off the top of my head. I don’t have the Bible completely memorized yet, but there was one time I love where he was like, just. Ripping the Pharisees ripping them and the, and it says the lawyers came to him and they’re like, Jesus, when you say this mean stuff you’re insulting us too.
And then the next seven verses, he says, Oh yeah, let me tell you what I think about you guys rips up [00:32:00] for the next seven verses, which I love. And so to me, it just shows that he’s so bound and determined for us to be set free from the law. Because I think he’s saying if we get rid of the chance for you getting an F at the end of the class, I think you’re going to participate in the class better.
I think you’re going to be a better student if you’re not under the pressure of the F grade. So I’m going to give you the, a up front. And I think that’s going to make you a better student and you’re gonna get what I want you to get out of the class, rather than just trying not to get the F and that’s what I think this is about.
If there’s a law as humans, we’re like how come, how close can I get to that law? But still be righteous. How close can I get to that line and still call myself good. But when the law is wiped out, now it’s in relationship. And I’m not going to be trying to say how close can I get to the edge of the hellfire now I’m going to be saying, how close can I get to the guy that wiped out the penalty?
And when I do that, then I’m going to treat my brother and my sister and the people that I [00:33:00] don’t like out there a lot better. So I that’s what I think he was doing. Let’s just wipe out the penalty for this thing. I’ll take it all on me. And then I think you’re going to want to know me and in getting to know me, you’re going to be the best version of you.
You can be.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Wow. Wow. Pastor Yolanda. You want to jump in before I move to more questions?
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: No, sir. I’m enjoying just listening. And I will say that. Paul I had the opportunity to you were having an actual service on Tik TOK, which I did not know was allowed. I thought you could only be on there for a minute or so, and take communion with you and just to listen to some of the people that were in that environment and their thought process, you can tell that you connect yourself with other like-minded folk and I appreciate it.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Circumcision was cut.
Paul Swearengin: Hope.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: What’s that mean?
Pastor Robert Johnson: That was me. I’m sorry. That was
[00:34:00] Pastor Yolanda Oliver: so I think if we can take that type of community that I witnessed in that Tik TOK environment incorporated with this type of community, then we could be the actual example that we’re talking about. When you’re saying sit next to that person, sit next to this.
All those people that are. The opposite of what you are, what you believe in or what you love. I think it’s up to us to take that next step, to do that. Bring your body and bring our body and bring them together and allow us to be part of that leadership in that change.
Paul Swearengin: Yes, that’s good,
Pastor Robert Johnson: great stuff.
Great stuff, pastor
Paul Swearengin: Yolanda. Wait now Charles says he wants to take a ride in the private jet. Are you getting the private jet or am I getting the private jet?
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: It says in your private jet?
Pastor Robert Johnson: This is referring to that comment came up. He made that comment. When I was talking about the buildings or we get caught up in our buildings and the amount of money we spend on our buildings.
And I don’t, I’m not [00:35:00] against buildings either, but I just, I don’t like. I just don’t know like how I got it, justify that if there are people around in my community and of course, St St. Mark exists in a impoverished community. W there’s so much there, there’s a lot of poverty there.
And sometimes, I will say my youngest daughter, we went South sash, Chicago on occasion, she and my wife, the three of us, and we were riding around and we were, and it was South Chicago, and the really deeply impoverished areas of South side Chicago. And. And there are pockets of South side Chicago that there’s poverty.
I grew up in Mississippi. I never saw poverty like that. So poverty in Mississippi is rural, is isolated, but there are still community. So people like they don’t, they may not have anything, but they have each other. But what I saw there was just dire poverty would just I literally saw despair and hopelessness it and.
[00:36:00] We were riding around and I was like, and you can, all these churches, you’ve got all these churches. And my youngest daughter said but that may be that those church buildings, just their physical presence may be the hope this holding these people together. It’s not so much what those that the church has given them money, but that those people feel like where that church at that church is surviving.
Then this place can’t be all bad. So I’m not against buildings. I just don’t know. We, I think we spent a million millions and millions of dollars on a lot of things, and then there are people dying and there are people hungry and dying of starvation and hopelessness all around us. And then I go to 25th chapter Matthew, where Jesus says that this is what I’ll be.
You’ll be judged by. Did you feed the hungry? Did you clothe the naked and that kind of thing but certainly some of you all may be in the midst of building a building. I’m one of them. As a matter of fact, tell your members that I said that I w they should give [00:37:00] generously and be fruitful participants in the life of the local community.
Yes. So I want to come back to Paul and I want to ask him, Paul, I know you’re doing it as pastor Yolanda mentioned, you’re doing a lot of stuff. You’re doing some stuff on Tik, TOK and Twitter. And I know that there’s a series that you just, that you’ve been in the midst of. And if you’re comfortable, I like, like for you to talk a little about that, what the those recent videos.
And because, and reason, I think this is important, Paul is because I think it’s one thing. It ain’t for me to talk about how Jesus challenged how the Christmas was an invasion and jealous Jesus challenged the religious aristocracy stockers of his time. But then what does that look like for us?
Let’s do the nuts and bolts of what that looks like for us to represent Jesus. In our contexts.
Paul Swearengin: Are you talking about the series on homosexuality? Yes. So the bigger question is, are you comfortable?
[00:38:00] I’m fully comfortable. I, people know where I am.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Let’s go. Let’s go, pastor Dan is yes. The church must leave the church building and be fruitful out outward. Yes, indeed. Yes. Yes. And pastor Kurt is the live because it lasts consists of more than a bunch of things that people put up.
Yes. So let me set a platform for you, Paul, and I’ll say, okay. So I ran something today that, that rattled me. He’s one of my favorite writers, Lynn sweet. And he does a podcast post by the way, called napkin scribbles. And the podcasts are only like five minutes. And he just like an inspirational deal that he does.
He recently did a podcast on relationships and he says Niccolo Tesla, by the way, those you like the Tesla car, they, their name, not that this guy, but this guy is one of the most brilliant human beings that ever lived. Just look him up Nikola Tesla. And he says the Tesla suggested that that if you want to find the secrets of the [00:39:00] universe, think in terms of energy, Frequency and vibration.
So if you want another, there’s another universe think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration, but Lennar, SWE says he would add one thing to that. And that is that he would add relationship that if you want to get to the essence of reality and the universe and life is about relationships. And he says, and what we do is we get caught up in laws and principles.
And he says, even when we talk about becoming like Jesus, that we get into imitating Jesus and he says, but Jesus is his relationship that it’s more of an impartation of Jesus into our souls than it is about imitating the principal, then add examples of Jesus. And so he says, and when you enter into a relationship, then it makes it, it challenges us.
When we begin to use rules and laws. To divide ourselves and to condemn other people in a very self-righteous way that, that’s not what Jesus [00:40:00] is doing. That it’s about relationships. So I say that to cite the context, because that’s what I’ve heard in a lot of your presentations. So now let’s go, let’s jump into,
Paul Swearengin: One of the things I see that Jesus did is again, he challenged the norm.
He would. He told the story of the good Samaritan, because Samaritans were the people that, that his people believed were the worst, most ungodly people out there. They least deserve the favor of God. And so he would say, Here’s a story where the Samaritan is the hero. And so I see that we settle for our theology and now we’re seeing it trickle into our ideology and they’re becoming really intertwined.
And I think Jesus wants to come in this season and say, are you sure? Everything? Cause one should know everything. Then I can’t be a sovereign Lord over you anymore. Your understanding of theology and scripture has become your sovereign Lord. And am I allowed to challenge that? So like he [00:41:00] came to Peter and said here, Peter, eat this unclean food.
And Peter said, no, hell no, I won’t eat that. And Jesus said, wait a second. You just called me Lord. And I’m telling you, don’t call unclean what I call clean. And so I think we settled in this place. Theologically and homosexuality is just such a hot button. It’s one when I like to poke, because it’s like the Samaritans for them.
And I’m asking, are we so sure we’ve got it right. So Romans one is the passage we always point to and say there, God hates gay people. It’s Romans one 27. It couldn’t be clearer. But then I start to read. The whole of the book of Romans and the whole of even the first chapter or the first two chapters of Romans.
And I’m like, I don’t think it’s as clear as we think it is because when I read Romans one verse 25 says that the sin of the chapter that Paul is using to set up this premise for the book of Romans. He’s actually [00:42:00] not making a theological construct in Romans one, he’s setting up a straw man that he’s going to break down in the rest of the book.
And the straw man send that he’s setting up is worshiping the created rather than the creator. Yeah, stop me if I’ve got anything wrong.
Pastor Robert Johnson: That’s right. That’s right. It’s idolatry. But keep going. This is you’re exactly right.
Paul Swearengin: Yes. And so we think the chapter is about the set of homosexuality. He’s saying, no, this, what he’s talking about is this temple worship of these birds.
And he says an animals and creepy things along the ground. They made these statues in this temple to ISIS in the city of Rome. And they worshiped them. And because they were worshiping these created items, rather than the true God, he gave them over to some of the things of their culture, which included male prostitution in the temple.
It didn’t. And then he goes on and gives a a bunch of other things in the list, which includes disobeying parents. We read Romans one and we say, [00:43:00] clearly, God hates gay people. And I’m challenging us to say no, let’s actually read the whole chapter. And then the whole of the book of Romans is a set up.
To get to Romans eight 28, which says, Hey, because of Jesus, there’s now no condemnation for you guys. The condemnation is gone. It’s like they told the woman caught in adultery. All of your consumers are gone and now you owe your life to me. And I set you free from condemnation. You are, you have an a in the class.
So now. Go and sit in them or live a different life because I’m going to destroy the consumers that are coming against you. And I’m going to destroy the system that has you in the situation that you’re in the first place. And when that’s our battle, then we get to ask questions about people’s lives.
No question we can say is what you’re doing. Healthy for you. But so our belief system is we see Romans one, we see first Corinthians six, nine, we see first Timothy one, nine and 10. And we say, [00:44:00] see, God hates gay people. And that’s really important. And I say, yeah, but Jesus said, marriage is between one man and one woman.
And if you get divorced for any reason, other than adultery and remarried, you are an adulterer for the rest of your life. And we just. We just fly right over that. We have divorced pastors all over the place and we don’t say any, we don’t bat an eye. We first Timothy talks about liars ingredient. We have gossips and we just skirt over those because culturally we’ve bought into the belief that being gay is one of the top two sends you can do.
And so I’m challenging us to think, guys, have we seen this a little bit wrong? Yeah. And that God is a little bit more able to adapt to where we are in culture, where people live. He’s big enough to find us where we are. And I think he’s asking us as his people, you be bigger to find people where they are too.
And so Yolanda, what I’m doing on Tik TOK on [00:45:00] Sunday mornings, it’s the best it’s people that aren’t welcome in our churches because they’re not Republican enough. They’re not heterosexual enough. They’re not XYZ enough. And we’re just saying you’re enough, let us connect you to God and then let him walk you into what is healthy and right for you.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: needed. That’s what’s needed and you’re doing it in a virtual environment, no building at all, and to see how engaged each of them were and to see that they were all participating, they weren’t there because they had to be, you could tell that each and every one of them won, they were there because they wanted to be.
And if we can get that, if we can pass that across the world, then that’s where the healing will begin to come in.
Paul Swearengin: I don’t want to do a church. I keep telling people, I don’t want to have a church and I keep having people say, no, we have to have this thing. And so that’s, that’s a wonderful thing, but I just can’t imagine that [00:46:00] we’re going to see God in heaven one day and he’s going to say, you know what?
You just love too many people. You just were too loving to people. You were too forgiving. I hate it. I was so angry when you loved. That gay person. It just made me so mad. And the other thing that, that just throws me, and this is a struggle for me. This is a journey for me. My in fact, I’ll be putting Tik TOK out tomorrow.
Robert, where I say, Hey. I’m on a journey on this. I still don’t quite understand how this all comes together, cause we have, everybody wants to land on it’s all okay. Or it’s all bad. And I want to be in the tension of I know what the Bible says, so how do I navigate this with God and with people and one of the things they did in act.
Is, they said, now I know these people can’t be Christian because they don’t fit the mold. But I saw Holy spirit on them and totally spirit was on them. God had chosen them for his family. Who am I to say he can’t be in the family. And so I’m hanging out with people that don’t look Christian and I’m seeing Holy [00:47:00] spirit on them.
And so who am I to tell God, you don’t get to invite them into the family. And so I just think that’s a challenge for us in this season, pastor.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Amen. Great stuff. And let me say, I want to be clear because wherever you end up on the issue, wherever you stand on the issue of theological homosexuality, What Paul is saying is that’s it’s beside the point where you stand.
It’s how you treat people. Are you going to put laws before people? Let me give it, let me give you all an example and be transparent, Paul here. So here was an example of me for that. So for me, the issue, some people they rage against homosexuality. I rage against white supremacy and white evangelicals who were Trump supporters.
I rage against them and I post, so after the whole trial, after we knew that Trump definitely lost the election. And he started doing his thing of just this lying and so forth. So then I was saying, so I posted [00:48:00] something basically said, so you already been Rickles that follow Trump. Do you see what you’re looking at?
What you’re supporting? And I have a couple of guys that came on and basically said, Hey, one of them said, Hey, pastor, be careful about paint, painting us all with the same color. Cause I was never a part of that crowd. So then I publicly apologized to him. And then, but the other guy came on and he said Hey, I voted for him.
He says, but I’m seeing the error of my ways. And he says, we got a lot of work to do. He says, let’s do coffee brothers. He says, I want to, I want him, we got to work together. We gotta find a way to be in community together and address these and lead our people. And so I called him brother and respond, man, let’s do that.
And I got so much anger from people saying, don’t forgive him, don’t reconcile with them. What are you doing? Don’t be, they need to repent. They need to do this going off on him. But what God convicted me on in that moment was that, okay, here are two people who are [00:49:00] offering to enter into community with you.
To do life with you to engage in brotherhood with you. And you’re going to turn them down because of a law, because of a value, a principle you have that you got this truth you are holding on to, and you made this law. You can’t be. I’ll follow, be a true Jesus, followed follow Trump. So you’ve got this and you’re going to hold that and let that law that you create.
It become a barrier between you and people. And for me, that’s the thing is that we’re so quick to judge people on what they do, what we think they’re doing wrong. We’re so quick to self righteously, condemn people. But Jesus is calling us to enter into relationship with people. And the truth be told Paul, this, you London, we have kids, we know this from raising children.
We know America. You are not going to change anybody by yelling at them and telling them how wrong they are. That has never [00:50:00] changed anybody that has never changed. Anybody. Listen to me, they’re adults. Now they listen to me. When I enter into community with them and relationship, and then the context of relationship I’m expressing love.
And then in that conversation, they’ll say that was our really appreciate what you said. That was really good wisdom, but if I’m. Trying to roar like Elian and make them do what I want to do. It never works. And go back to what Linda Sweet was saying is that, and what he said to me that was really helpful, Paul, he says that if we want to represent Jesus, the best way, the way Jesus wants to be represented, it’s not really true information.
And it’s not even through imitation, not imitate him, but he says actually, The what the new Testament is getting to is that Jesus is an impartation of life into its relationship. So we enter into relationship with God and we enter in relationship with each other and through, and we, it’s not so much that [00:51:00] we teach Jesus our, that we command the law, but that we impart that being of Jesus from ourselves to the other.
There that Paul in his podcast, it went because
Paul Swearengin: we,
Pastor Robert Johnson: When you’re in the presence of someone who’s filled with the love of God, laws become irrelevant. And you open your life up to those people and you want to share your life. Cause you just being in there presence and here in their hearts, you in the presence of someone who loves God and that’s the kind of person Paul that I want to be, not a person who like, I don’t care, whether I’ll know everything or whether I got all the doctrines, or whether I’m so correct, the geology theologically, but is Jesus present in me to the degree that Pete, whatever broken this people might have. That when they’re in my presence, they feel themselves moving towards wholeness.
Paul Swearengin: Yeah.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Does that make sense?
Paul Swearengin: Yeah. I love that and very
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: much,
Paul Swearengin: very much. So [00:52:00] I didn’t mean to jump on you there.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: I was just affirming, acknowledging yes, very much and I think. Our conversation, Michael Bruce had a question and I think you’ve answered that in our dialogue.
Paul Swearengin: We’d love to address that though, because that’s, it’s a great question. And it’s one that I get asked a lot and it’s yes, we can have grace for gay people, but aren’t we supposed to tell them that there’s their centers, and that’s, and I’m asking it differently than he asked it.
He’s asking it much more graciously than that. And this is what I always say to that. I. Three years ago, I had gastric bypass surgery. If you know what that is, I weighed over 300 pounds at the time, and I know, or sat down to a lunch with somebody where they said, Paul, I love being with you, but.
I just have to tell you that I disagree with your lifestyle of gluttony. It’s really important for me to let you know that I see that you’re going to go to hell because of your gluttony. It’s very [00:53:00] clear in the Bible that gluttony is a sin and you’re unhealthy eating. And I was even a pastor and I was violating the Bible with my unhealthy eating and.
And I had a board member that was divorced and remarried with a no fault divorce and never once did it enter my mind that because this person is living in adultery by the definition from the mouth of Jesus in the red letters, in the Bible, that person is living in adultery, never did that consideration coming to my mind.
I never sit down with a married couple and say, now I know you guys got divorced. Did you get divorced the right way or the wrong way? Let’s make sure. Why do we do that? And even I go back to, Jesus said, marriage is between one man and one woman. And I say, who disagreed with that King?
David disagreed with that. David had multiple wives. Jacob had multiple wives. Jacob was married and then was working to get his next wife, Rachel. And he’s complimented by the Bible for how he handled that [00:54:00] situation. So I don’t know how. God is big enough to do this. Yes. I think Jesus was right that marriage as God set it up as between a man and a woman, I can believe that, but somehow he said, David, in your culture, it’s okay to have multiple lives.
David even had a young Virgin sleeping with him in his deathbed. And God didn’t say a word about it. God, didn’t say David, I disagree with your lifestyle. Somehow God’s grace is big enough to overcome. Anything we think of. And so I have some friends that have been, that are in a same sex marriage that have been married longer than my wife and I have.
And not once has God ever said to me, you need to tell them that they have to get out of that relationship. If they want to go to heaven. I don’t think God would disrupt relationship in life. That way he. He may have a best that doesn’t fit. I don’t know. I may, there may be things I do in my life that aren’t his [00:55:00] best for me.
Sorry. My phone is going off, but his grace is big enough to say. Even if Paul weighs 314 pounds, I’m going to love him right. Where he is. And in that relationship, I’m going to draw him to the best of himself. And so that’s just the way I look at it is yes, we can say, I see this and I see this in the Bible, but why do I have grace for this and not for this?
Why do I believe God has grace for this and not for this? And maybe do I have to rethink how I’m looking at people around me?
Pastor Robert Johnson: Amen. I’ll share another stuff’s beautiful stuff. Paul beautiful stuff. Pulling us. Janice, pastor Janice Gilbert. She said, I love this. I love this Paul. She takes that wonderful scripture that says great is he, that is in you than he, that is in the world.
And she plugs plot takes us deeper though that when we talk about. That that God being, God work in us is greater than these laws and these and our righteousness [00:56:00] and our knowledge of the Bible and not doctrines and not theology that we’re forced them. Great. Is he, who is in us that we impart to others through relationship?
We don’t like relationship because it takes work. We want our laws work because it’s like, this is the law. And if you don’t do it, then that’s easy to dismiss you. You go to hell. If you obey the law, you go to heaven. That’s easy as clean as black and white relationships. And when you’re nurturing and mentoring and leading people into the kingdom, you may not see fruit.
That’s why it’s.
Paul Swearengin: Yeah.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Time to develop that as a planting season, as a matter of fact, there’s a season where you got to burn off the old stuff, and then you got to Clint clear the ground, and then you’ve got a toilet, the turn, the soil, and then you’ve got to make holes. You got to plant the seed in there.
There’s time for the seed to grow. And it’s a long process.
Paul Swearengin: And yeah. And so people ask me all the time so is there nothing wrong? I’m sorry, I cut you off the rubber, but [00:57:00] is there nothing wrong? And I say, no, when I’m in relationship with you, I’m going to say, Hey, how is this thing working out in your life right now?
You know what you’re doing? Drawing you to God and to the righteousness and holiness he has for you, or is it taking you away from that? And if it’s dry, if it’s taking you away, then it’s sin. Yes. You’re sending right now because God has taken you in a different direction. But for me to just say, here’s the list of rules and you’re either in or you’re out.
I think he, I think the cross took that away. I don’t think we get to, and I think that’s what the book of Romans and the book of Hebrews are all about is Okay. The law’s gone. You don’t get to play with by the rules anymore. Now it’s your relationship with God and your relationship with each other.
And so we love going send no more. We love it because it lets us feel self-righteous and better than other people. And I can act like I love the sinner, hate the sin, but it turns out that it turns out to be a little bit. I’m not sure. I love the center that much either, because I [00:58:00] can say, go and send no more, but we just missed that.
Jesus put his life and reputation on the line. First. He said, I’m going to get between this woman and the rocks. And they may throw those rocks at me. And they definitely are going to throw daggers with their eyes at me, but I’m going to get between her and the condemnation first. And I’m going to eliminate all condemnation and then we’ll have a chat about how you’re living your life.
And so absolutely there are points where I’m going to say to people that I’m in good relationship with Man that doesn’t look good to me. It doesn’t look like what Jesus would like for you to do today. So it’s not a free for all. And in fact, I think the standard or higher, because Jesus said, you’ve heard it say don’t murder, but I tell you if you’re mad at your brother and call him a fool, you’re the one worthy of hell fire.
So the standard actually gets a little bit higher in this situation. But we do have to love people that we may in the past have thought we could be a little self-righteous towards.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Hey, Paul, there was a comment you just inspired until we start preaching sand and start preaching [00:59:00] love. We will continue to miss the love of Jesus Christ.
Wow. So yeah.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: Good to see you miss.
Pastor Robert Johnson: So Paula, you eliminate the, let me go back, I’ll go back because I think part of what we learn, how to. To live the kingdom life. I think parenting as a part of God’s to one God’s tools. It’s, God doesn’t give us children, but it, but that’s a byproduct of being a parent. We get to be in love out, have kids and have a family and be in a community of love and enjoy our children.
Our children grow up. But our children teach us a love a lot about the love of Christ, because once you, when they are little, and I think I said this to Yolanda, when your children, my daughters were little, I was their hero. So if they heard my car, Paul drive pulling up in a driveway, the house we lived in, it was a long driveway in Texas and I drive up.
And so that was a [01:00:00] sitting area with a little kitchen area and Linda would have the blinds up. And when they was, I P when I pass by that window going into the garage, I see my daughters jumping up and down cheering. You think that I was on a football field, scoring a touchdown in the super bowl. They were cheering like so happy.
And so it was easy to influence them because it was like they were waiting for my influence, but then it got to a point where. They, as they grew up and they started trying, finding their own way, which every human being has to do, then it became like about, then you start having the battle of wills and the contest and so forth.
So then I went to enter this seasonal parenting where I like made them do things. So they were still young enough. You don’t clean your room, no money. If you don’t clean your room. I’m taking the TV. So it was that kind of, but then it gets to a point where that doesn’t work when they go to college and, and they really begin to develop.
And what I learned is if I really want to influence them, it [01:01:00] happens not by demand, not by command, not by self righteousness. By entering into humble with humility, which is what Jesus there, right? The Bible says he humbled himself and became one. So when you have to humble yourself and become like one of your enter into their world, Not self righteously, but enter into the war and take on some of the pain and anger that they are going through as children.
And then speak into that with love when they give you an opportunity to do. And I think God is teaching us that’s how we, and it’s interesting Paul, many times when people are self-righteous about an issue, whether it’s drinking, homosexuality, whatever it is, if they have a child who begins to battle with that issue, then all of a sudden the light turns on and they say, you know what?
I’m going to love my child, no matter what
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: through it. Yes.
Paul Swearengin: And that’s, what’s so crazy about our determination to keep our theology in place. And I have a story of a friend, I think it’s okay [01:02:00] to tell this. And I, my friend, I knew his daughter really well and she came out of the closet.
She announced that she was gay and getting married. To her same sex partner. And my friend came to me and he said she wants to come home and bring her partner with her home for Christmas. She lived out of state and he said what do you think I should do? And I exactly what you’re saying. I said, if my daughter was in prison for murder, I would go be there every day.
I would never miss a chance to be there, to visit her. What could, what can a child do to drive me away from relationship? And you’re going to let this relationship with your daughter. Come on, man. You need to love who she loves because that’s how you’re going to be in relationship. And if you say I can’t love who you love.
Then the relationship is over. I wouldn’t give up my relationship with my daughter for anything. And [01:03:00] so that’s what getting so staunch in our theology does for us that we’re willing to say, okay, you’re not my daughter anymore. And the prodigal son took everything that father had and wasted it. And every day that father was just like, Today’s the day he’s going to come home.
Today’s the day we shouldn’t even call that parable. The parable of the prodigal son. It should be the parable of the good father.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: Yes. I agree.
Paul Swearengin: Just waiting every day. Maybe today my son comes home and all the way home, the son is practicing this story. I don’t deserve to be your son. I’ll be your slave.
And the father never hears the story. He doesn’t even hear it cause he just sees his son coming home. And I just think that’s how God looks at us. He’s man, I’m just waiting for that relationship moment. I don’t care what you’ve done. And the thing is he puts the ringing back on his finger, which is giving him.
Control of the family checkbook. Again, he didn’t even say, [01:04:00] no, I’m going to, I’m going to put you in an accountability program and we’re going to get you back up to speed. And when you prove your word, no, he immediately says you’re my son. You’ll never stop being my son. And gosh, I just think if we could see that’s who God is and that’s who Jesus came to present as God, the father.
And we lived out of that. And some of this by the way, is I have to start to believe that God looks at me that way. First, if I have a harsh God, like the parable of the mine is if I see the master as being a bad ass, hard guy to work for, then I’m going to be a bad-ass hard guy too. But if I start seeing the father as generous and a risk-taker and loving, when I’m out there being creative and making mistakes and screwing up and stumbling and still say, that’s beautiful.
I love it. Then I’m going to give that grace to other people too. So we have to take this on for ourselves so that we can start giving it out to others. That’s
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: what your book does.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Say about, talk about, tell him about [01:05:00] the book Yolanda.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: I just think that you represent Jesus in a way that you make it personable for people in modern times, to where I’ve thought this certain scripture that I can’t quite identify with, but the way that you pull people into it.
I see myself in that scripture so I can begin to see how much I am loved and what truly. Jesus or whatever prophet was trying to impart to people. And then I can begin to see I’m given permission to love people as they are judged, not less the be judged. So I think until we can begin to see that Jesus came to save the world, he had plans to prosper us, not to harm us and to stop making him this brutal.
Being, we will continue to judge one another. And I love what you said, pastor Johnson about the fact that relationships take work.
Paul Swearengin: Yeah.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: So it’s so easy for me to just write you off. Oh, you did this. I’m done, [01:06:00] but I think. What we’re beginning to see. And Paul, I think we’re seeing that in you, a couple of other of your other guests, pastor Johnson, where people are beginning, the light bulb was coming on.
They’re beginning to rethink Jesus rethink. That’s what your book that we’re going over in your book club is about right now. And we have to give people the space. To change. Yes. That’s what we have to do. In our government right now we’re condemning people because they thought this yesterday, but they’ve grown and they’ve had some actual experiences that are giving them new frames of thoughts, but we’re like, Nope, you said that back in 1975.
So you can’t change from it at all
Paul Swearengin: your
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: box. And I have to leave you in that box. So I think that giving people the opportunity. To see you as the leader and changing the way that they’re having their experiences and then having the opportunity. Hi, Ashley, how are you?
[01:07:00] Ashley Swearengin: Sorry to join you late.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: No, we’re glad to have you.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Yes. We’re glad to have you keep going, passing along to you. If you want to finish.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: I just think that’s going to I’m so into, at this point where we need to cross boundaries, we need to come across the aisles. We need to. Stop putting people in boxes, give them the opportunity to allow you to forgive them.
And then to allow that forgiveness to sink in on both parts, I’m stubborn. And I’m really good at people putting people in boxes. At least I don’t tell anybody. And it’s so freeing. To let people out of the box to let people out of the closet, to let people out of that space that you’ve put them in to where you don’t have to carry that burden anymore.
And I love what you’re saying, and I’m hoping that it will give people the opportunity to do just that to become free, to no longer be in bondage, to love God in a way [01:08:00] that they never have before. And that will allow them to love themselves. And other people that we’ve deemed unlovable
Pastor Robert Johnson: lovable. Paul, hold up the book.
If you have it with you.
Paul Swearengin: Let’s see. And
Pastor Robert Johnson: we want ask, as he holds there it is. Joseph comes to town. We’re gonna read it as a part of I’m starting a book club called the possibilities and transformation book club. We’re gonna read a book a month in 2021, and that would be on our list, Paul.
And of course we hope to be in conversation with you, Ashley. Welcome. Thank you for coming on. He told us you they’ll be late, but we’re so glad you came on. We’ve had a wonderful conversation. I can’t, I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been crying. My eyes have been warded. Paul has had us. We’ve had a wonderful conversation about the love of God and about how that has to be the beginning place for how we reach other people and not our laws, not our theology.
Not our, self-righteousness not our values are we talks about are my core [01:09:00] values and all this. And what all that does, is it stuff that gets in the way I want to share a testimony with you all about some, another experience I had Yolanda. So I will tell you I’ll Ashlyn Paul. And if you’re listening to this, I think the statute of limitations is up.
How many is it? Seven years. But
Paul Swearengin: When
Pastor Robert Johnson: my soul. Yolanda may she’s typing and she’s reporting me to the FBI as I speak. But when my, I spanked my daughters when they were younger. And can I tell you that I try not to live with very many regrets. But there’s one regret I have and it gets worse with every passing year.
I regret that I ever spanked my daughters. And here’s why, so people said you don’t think that your daughters turned out wonderful. It must’ve worked. I’m like, but that’s not the point. The point is I can’t remember a single time that I spanked my daughters. That was it. It was done out of [01:10:00] love. It was done out of fear.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: Or
Pastor Robert Johnson: anger. And cannot think of a single time that I spent it because I was focused on, I love you. And we’re going to towards disco. It was all about don’t embarrass me. How dare you do something I’ve told you not to do too. It was anger or fear. And, but I think maybe God allows me Ashley to feel that pain.
As a reminder of how I treat people now, is in the same, don’t in the same way that you regret how you treated your daughters. Don’t treat the people in your church and people, and don’t treat your friends and don’t treat your spouse. Don’t treat the people, now in the same way where you are handling them out of fear and anger rather than out of a place of love.
And so I think that connects with that so deeply. Ashley, you want to jump in and say, by the way, we’re supposed to finish at eight, but it’s eight, 15 folks are still on. Then as a matter of fact are still. So let’s can we go [01:11:00] to eight 30? Can we just go to, is that okay, Ashley?
Ashley Swearengin: Yeah. Great. Yes. I think and I wish I could have been a part of a conversation tonight.
Longer as I walked in, though, when I heard what Paul was sharing I can understand why you were crying. Cause I, I know by the bit I just, yeah, I love the dynamic of this conversation. And I think just to add to the list of what you’re expressing tonight, I see such humility, I see like a letting go of who has the power
Paul Swearengin: here.
Ashley Swearengin: Yeah. And it’s, I’m starting to see this in my, in our own community, in the community development work that we’re doing in Fresno. And it’s I see glimpses of it. I see people myself included like really letting go and letting down any particular agenda. And just being like no, I’m I really am just making this about you and it’s okay.
And if you win I’m good with that. And I will say having been in elected office, sometimes it’s in Vogue to be like, Oh let you win. Look at me, look how great I am that I’m [01:12:00] letting you win. And I’m still getting something out of it. Yeah.
Paul Swearengin: Okay.
Ashley Swearengin: I’m not saying I’ve ever done that, but let’s just say, Oh, of course, I’ve done that.
I would probably perfected the art of acting I’m making a sacrifice for someone and really I’m growing something out of it. But I’m really seeing the no, actually it’s pure joy for me to sacrifice for you right now. And if no one ever knows of the sacrifice all the better yeah, I think that’s the authentic expression of Jesus that you guys are talking about tonight.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: Yeah. It gives you hope. It gives you that all over. And I think it’s, God knows that’s what I need right now. It’s gotten me out of this folk that I was in this depression and I’m seeing it. Black, white, Hispanic, male, female. All across the religious atmosphere as well, that light bulbs are turning on for people and [01:13:00] people are starting to get it.
And I needed that so bad.
Paul Swearengin: Yes.
Ashley Swearengin: And you know what? I’m just inspired sometimes honestly I have to imagine it cause maybe I can’t see it. But if I can get a vision for it then my heart can hope for it. And I can get in alignment with God and what he’s doing in our midst. But like when I think about the national political climate and everything, we.
Hear about in the news or, people’s rhetoric for the most part, it is all about power over
Paul Swearengin: this side, that
Ashley Swearengin: side, this side, that side, this side, that side. And so we are thinking that’s all our country is about, but you know what. What there is so much stuff going on that is never captured in news cycles there.
What if it was the case that the actual residents and just average people of our communities of our States of our nation were like yeah, that y’all can go do that if you want, but that doesn’t have to define us. And in fact, seeing this being held up and seeing the fruit of it and being so discouraged by it, I’m just choosing to make a new path here.
[01:14:00] And something totally different can in fact happen at this local level, at this relational level, at the community level,
Paul Swearengin: and we don’t need to, we
Ashley Swearengin: don’t need other people to give us permission to act that way you get to just be that way, and actually I think there is a momentum and a movement growing that is
Paul Swearengin: God breathed.
Ashley Swearengin: That is going to define our nation. Yeah, way more than what we’re seeing play out with
Paul Swearengin: political cycles,
Pastor Robert Johnson: Way more. So I’ve got an app I’ve got, I know I’m doing a lot of talking to Yolanda. We have our guests on, but they have just, Paul has. Lit a fire in me. This just,
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: yeah, you didn’t notice my little segue.
I was like, we need to bring your peoples and put them with our people so we can have peoples. Yeah.
Pastor Robert Johnson: So it’s just, so we’ve got to have them back on. Thank all of you that are still on. We usually end at eight April. I see many of you. Most of you are still on. We will finish at eight 30 and we want to spend some time praying for folks.
I want to go ahead and say, we’d like to have Paul and Ashley back [01:15:00] on. I know we have and I’ll share that with you. We’re doing a jazz concert online Christmas concert with the Lee family out of Houston. I had unimpressed privilege of pastoring that family, the matriarch of that family died earlier this year.
And their son, Brandon Lee is at one time was the leader of. The jazz orchestra at Juilliard school of music, and he’s doing other stuff now and lives in just an amazing jazz trumpeter. So they’re going to be on and do a co do a virtual one-hour jazz concert. We’ll have testimonies, how people share, pray for people and in the midst of that jazz Christmas music from the Lee family.
But I got, I want, I really want to share this with you all, and I’ve seen some stories. So do you all know max Lucado out of San Antonio, Texas?
Paul Swearengin: Know of him. Yeah,
Pastor Robert Johnson: I know of him. I don’t know him. Let me thank
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: you.
Pastor Robert Johnson: So people say he doesn’t mind Lyndon’s upstairs saying he doesn’t know max Lucado [01:16:00] so nice. The Cato or he hasn’t. He brought up the sentence about Jesus. He said that Jesus was the kind of guy that would come over to your house after church on Sundays. And he would play with your children on the floor and he had helped you take the meat off the grill and he watched the game.
He chilled with your favorite team with you. And he’s just, but when you began to talk, he will listen as if he had all the time. And the first time I read those words, I wept and wept because that was. The Jesus that was coming alive in my heart. I wasn’t so much mad about that Jesus in the church, but in my alone time, it was that Jesus that was listening, that wasn’t condemning me for everything that was broken and mess with me, but was listening and and engaging Jimmy in relationships.
I just want that reminds me. And then I want to share Paul jump in. Cause I’ve got to look up [01:17:00] some lyrics. Cause I want to, I’m going to close with some lyrics from believer or not the rapper. Common.
Paul Swearengin: Nice.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: No common. And before you chime in park and I acknowledge my Michael Bruce, we were, we’re not ignoring
Paul Swearengin: your
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: promise.
We will respond to them. We just are trying to be mindful of the time mindful of our guests and allow them to comment and the conversation to flow freely. So we will acknowledge each one of your questions. Before the end of the night. Or maybe even the morning, just give us a little grace,
Paul Swearengin: go ahead. An answer for him.
So I hope that might’ve helped a little bit, but I’m not afraid of the question, but I don’t know if we want to use the time for that. I, one of the things I was going to say on your story, pastor Johnson is it was the same with. Mr. Rogers, and if you saw the movie about Mr.
Rogers or have read about him you had a reporter sitting with him who was, really angry that he had to do a story about this, Mr. Rogers guy, when he wanted to do hard, hit in [01:18:00] journalism and Mr. Rogers made this statement to him, he said, what is the most important thing for me in the world?
To do. And the reporter’s what? And he thought he was really going to get something amazing here, Mr. Rogers is going to give the secrets to the universe. And he said, the most important thing in the world is me sitting with you right now and having this conversation, there is nothing more important than this.
And just really, he made an impact on that guy and sitting and listening and hearing people’s story, which sometimes are. Our LA loneliness gets in the way of hearing people’s story. Just hearing their story goes such a long way to helping people reconnect with God. Yes.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Ashley London. I’m looking at these lyrics.
You all jump and I’ll be right back go.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: I’m learning that pastor Johnson is always. Shaking his finger at me because I’m a multi-tasker and I do several things well, but I’m not an ACE at really anything. And [01:19:00] here in this last few weeks, as I was, I’ve been talking about this funk that I’ve been in, just having the opportunity to just turn things off.
And be present in whatever it is that I’m doing at the time, whether it’s watching a movie with my son, having a conversation with my girlfriend, but just taking the time to smell the flowers. We’ve gotten away from that as a country, as a people, because everything is now. Now we can have instant anything.
The, in this day and age. And I really think that’s another one of those things that in a relationship, and I think pastor Johnson, you pride yourself in this, that when you’re doing something or when you’re having a conversation with someone that is your sole focus. Nothing else comes in between that.
It doesn’t matter if your phone is ringing or if there’s a fire going on, I’m going to love you enough to give you my undivided attention. And as [01:20:00] busy as Jesus was, as powerful as he was that he could take one-on-one time to save you heal. You have whatever miracle that he was performing for that day.
Be at your wedding and turn water to wine. Hallelujah.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Yes.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: I think time it’s taking time to be present. I think it’s extremely, actually I know we want to hear more from you.
Ashley Swearengin: And especially because I can hear our dog is starting to act up. So
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: attention
Ashley Swearengin: had the street time when I get home. , I can definitely relate to what you’re saying, Yolanda and And honestly, I think Paul is has been my antidote to, my obsession with busy-ness and planning and execution against that plan,
Paul Swearengin: oh
Ashley Swearengin: yeah. No. In fact it’s like a sickness. I’ve, I read in the sweet book, Jesus calling. I’m sure you’ve seen that book. That [01:21:00] daily reading I’ve gone through it several years and it’s I never do every single day. So like I’m on my third year and I was still catching Oh, I didn’t read
Paul Swearengin: that last year or whatever.
Ashley Swearengin: But I can’t remember the day, but it actually references like the sickness of, maybe it doesn’t say sickness, but it talks about incessant planning. And I just thought, Oh, that word does not sound good. Like planning, a, like something we value in culture and society, but incessant planning is like actually sick and anyway, so yeah being present, recognizing that There’s just like little, almost moment to moment acts of faith and surrender.
I can’t control this. I can’t control this Lord. What are you doing here? I can’t see my way through it,
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: and it’s so freeing.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Yeah. Meaning surrender. So folks, I want to give you a chance. I’m going to ask Ashley, if you will pray. When we co when we pray, if you’ll pray discloses, I would pray and pray for prayer for the, for our listeners.
And we love you all to come back. So I [01:22:00] don’t know if you all are available. So tonight is the 16th, the 23rd on the 30th, which will be a Wednesday night. If we do that’s not before new year’s Eve. So maybe on the let’s skip that night, but maybe the first Wednesday in January.
Ashley Swearengin: Yeah. That would work.
We probably will be signing off for that week between Christmas and new year.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Okay. That works look at the first Wednesday in January. Yeah.
Paul Swearengin: Are we going to be at the coast that day? Perhaps if. The governor will allow us to go
Ashley Swearengin: not the first week in January, we would be in the, on the 30th.
Paul Swearengin: Gotcha.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Yeah. Oh folks. That’s the graphic for next week. That’s the Lee family that will be with us, but I’m going to share these words and then Asheville will pray for us and we’ll be done.
And you know what, I’ll try to do a screen share and and do, can you all see that you longer.
Paul Swearengin: No, I cannot.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Okay. All right. You know what, let me [01:23:00] just read them to you. So these lyrics are from common on the song he did and it’s called the song is called courageous and it just and so Paul, when I, this, so I had to drive to Mississippi about a month ago, I had an uncle to die and Drove as a Fort 13 hour drive.
And I ran across this song. Common’s album had just come out just newest album. And I heard this song and Liston listened to it over and over again and wept. And I wept because I was thinking of all the people that. That I want to love them in a way that they can say these words. And so let me, I just want to, and so the love that you and Ashley have makes me feel free to say these words, and I want to be able to spread that to other people so that they feel free to listen to these words.
He says, and this is one of those times where, you know, God has some street profits folks who are not in the confines of the church, but God is speaking great truth through him, but he has these words [01:24:00] in a song. If you want something real. I’m all here in the flesh. You can take it or not. I’m claiming, pretending to be what I’m not, I ain’t, nobody’s angel we in this world that is changing who you are, just embrace it, stay courageous and be real.
And I love that with this, when you know that you’re loved by God and whatever you’re broken is whatever you like. I’m here in the flesh. Take it or not. I’m not trying to pretend to be what I’m not brace, who I am aware I’m right now and be real and this, and trust the grace of God to make me whole and to bring me to a place of a more abundant life.
So I pray that for every person who’s listening and I pray that you will experience that in my presence and past Yolanda’s present in the presence of Saint Mark and Adam editors. That’s the kind of church we want to be a place. Where people can feel so [01:25:00] loved that then they become, they don’t have to hide.
They don’t have to pretend they can be free and then trust that we love them. And then trust the work of God. That’s already operating in their lives and call the national. Thank you all for doing that for us. I think that’s why people are still watching. It’s eight 31, and folks are still watching because Paul and Ashley and your presence.
Even virtually, yolanda, even virtually experienced the love and peace of God in a way. And so thank you so much for that. And so Ashley, if you’ll pray for us and then folks will have them back, they’ve come, unless something comes up that on their calendar that they may not be thinking of right now.
But if they’re able to, they’re going to be with us the first Wednesday. Of 2021 and I’m believing God, we were with pastor Emmanuel Cleveland last year. And he said that the word for his church for 2021 is restoration. But so I’m embraced, I’m receiving that from pastor Emanuel, Cleaver [01:26:00] and St.
James Church in Kansas city as if you will.
Paul Swearengin: Yeah.
Ashley Swearengin: Thank you. All right. Thank you bribe. We love you, Lord. We love you. We
Paul Swearengin: love you.
Ashley Swearengin: Father. I thank you for these hearts that have gathered tonight around this virtual space. I thank you for each person who was tuned in whether it was for two minutes or an hour and a half.
God, you see each person who has been tuned in. Yeah. You see each person, you see their families.
You see their ambition, you see their joy, you see their heartache, you see their setbacks. You’ve seen their fears. We just thank you, God that you cover all of those things. I pray now where that each person, even if they’re not listening anymore, I pray that they would encounter yet. Again, the fresh [01:27:00] love.
Pastor Robert Johnson: that
Ashley Swearengin: they would be wrapped this Christmas in your presence and an inescapable sense of knowing how much you love them. God, I believe that’s what you’re releasing in this season. The surround sound of the love of God and the joy that you bring. So he will say yes and amen to that.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Mark’s
Ashley Swearengin: Methodist church, we say yes and amen for. Their community would say yes. And amen for all of the people and geographies in between Fresno, California, and Kansas. Yes.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Yes.
Ashley Swearengin: Claim that for for these people. God,
I just pray this prayer in Jesus’
Paul Swearengin: name.
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Wow. Wow. Love you guys so much. Can’t wait for the first Wednesday. Anything else you learned them? [01:28:00] I forget it. I’m scatterbrained right now. I scattered hearts, but it is. Am I missing anything
Pastor Yolanda Oliver: you can join? Tomorrow’s Thursday. If there are any of ours, senior saints online with us, we’ll be meeting with you tomorrow at noon.
For our senior time. That’s what you’re asking. Anything else we have on our schedule are any of our ladies can join us for our kingdom. Women’s Bible study tomorrow at six, and then we’ll see you on Sunday. We’re looking forward to worshiping with you. We’re allowing up to 100 people in the building this Sunday.
So if you feel up to it, we are still encouraging people to stay at home. But if you feel like you need to be in the building, Feel free to come and join us, wear your mask. We’ll be checking. Temperatures will be of course, social distancing. Cause I don’t know about y’all. I heard about it. I haven’t had it yet and I don’t want it.
We’re definitely trying to continuously run from the Rona. So we look [01:29:00] forward to seeing you, if you choose to come out with us on Sunday, I look forward to seeing the new release of your new tick talk tomorrow. Paul, I’ll be looking for it. Hopefully it’ll pop up a friend and you, and I just pray that God could, can use to bless both you and Ashley and all that you’re doing and that your love for people and your love for God begins to infect anyone that you encounter.
We thank God for you.
Paul Swearengin: Thank you guys. And if I could just say one real quick word, pastor Robert, just, I just think you’re incredibly courageous and loving of your people to challenge them this way. And it just shows me that they, that you’ve built great trust with them. And I just feel like God wants you to know that you are trustworthy and you can trust yourself as you’re asking the people to trust you to move into these new fields.
And so I just really appreciate who you are.
Pastor Robert Johnson: Wow. Thank you for that, Paul. Thank you for that. Thank you guys for that beautiful prayer. And as we close, I want to, again, thank Michael Bruce. [01:30:00] Michael. You’re so faithful being here with us on Wednesdays and we love you brother. Thank you for your pro provocative questions.
Ms. PNL. Thank you so much. It’s so good to see you. Felicia Johnson and Texas working on her PhD there in Corpus Christi, Texas. Thank you for coming on. And then Jan Peterson, Jan, thank you so much for coming and all of your wealth at rice. Ms. Wilkins, thank you all for coming on and have a wonderful night and be in London.
I will see you on Sundays and all the four bus. We’ll see you the first Wednesday in January. God bless.