Saturday Night I delivered a message at the Vineyard called “The Good News and The Bad News” on the text of Matthew 10:16-31. The message was going perfectly fine until I got to one point in my outline about how Christians in America are often persecuted more for not being like Jesus than for humbly and simply following after Him.
I then proceeded to use myself as an example talking about how as a freshman in college I loved arguing with people about anything from evolution to abortion etc. saying that when they would eventually call me a name I would walk away saying “Yes! I was just persecuted for Jesus!”
However I followed that point by saying how I wasn’t so much persecuted for being like Jesus but because I was being “an arrogant a**h***!” (Unfortunately I had immaculate enunciation at this point and there could be no doubt as to what I had just said)
Uhh, We Have a Problem.
The word came out like feathers from a pillow, caught by a fall breeze, never to go back in. The reaction in the crowd was mixed—about half laughter (though much of it was no doubt nervous laughter) and the other half simply gasped at my lack of discretion.
As for me, I was completely caught off guard as well. I had probably practiced the message a good twelve to fifteen times before I actually delivered it and had never once said that word. Sure I had used the word “jackass” in that part of the message once or twice during my practicing and was comfortable with that (which, in retrospect, probably wouldn’t have gone over that well either) but for some reason I said the other more graphic word.
In my mind I was thinking,
“You idiot, you just said a**h*** in front of 300 people in a church service!”
“That’s a word that get’s bleeped on network TV!”
“Stupid strikes again!”
In that moment I was faced with two options: 1. Acknowledge what I had just said and offer an apology or 2. Just keep rolling with the message and hope that folks would just forget about it. Well, I chose option number 2 (though I don’t think anyone was able to forget about it). Maybe it was because I was surprised by what I had just said or maybe because I really wanted to get to the meat of the message, but for whatever reason I didn’t pause or stutter, or even flinch but just kept going like a poker player trying to sell a bum hand.
And sell it I did because this plan of action only made the foul word seem that much more deliberate.
What made matters worse was that I had said this one word only about ten minutes into the message and so for some folks that word distracted them sufficiently so that they could not hear a word I said from that point on. Perhaps this is my biggest regret because I feel like what I covered in that message was some of the most important things that I have shared in recent months and regretfully some people were unable to get past me as the messenger.
So this week my colleagues in the church office have been doing damage control as emails and phone calls have come in complaining about my foul mouth. Perhaps now I have a little more compassion for politicians and others in the public eye who get a little loose and free with their words from time to time and end up saying something they regret (and usually in front of a whole lot of people).
So, for those readers of this blog who were at The Vineyard on Saturday night to hear version 1 of the message I ask your humble forgiveness and will sincerely be more cautious in my delivery in the future. By the way, I would encourage you to go to and download the MP3 of The Good News and The Bad News (from Sunday Oct 26). Hopefully on that version of the message you can truly hear what I was trying to say. And for those of you who only heard the message on Sunday morning, simply disregard anything you’ve read in this blog.