Larry Walters had always dreamed of flying, but was unable to become a pilot in the US Air Force because of his poor eyesight. Walters had first thought of using weather balloons to fly around the age of 13, after seeing them hanging from the ceiling of a military surplus store. Twenty years later he decided to do so. His intention was to attach a few helium-filled weather balloons to his lawn chair, cut the anchor, and then float above the city at a height of about 30 feet for several hours. He planned to use a BB gun to burst balloons to float gently to the ground.
So this retired Vietnam vet, Larry Walters, and his girlfriend, Carol Van Deusen, purchased 45 eight-foot weather balloons and obtained helium tanks from California Toy Time Balloons. They used a forged signature from his employer at FilmFair Studios, saying the balloons were for a television commercial. On July 2, 1982, Walters attached the balloons to his lawn chair, filled them with helium, put on a parachute, and strapped himself into the chair in the backyard of a home in San Pedro. He named his ride “Inspiration”. He took a BB gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer, and a camera.
When his friends prematurely cut the second cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep, he streaked out into the sky as if he was shot from a canon where he leveled off at a nice cruising altitude, not of 30 feet, but 16,000 feet. At first, he didn’t dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to spill out. For several hours he drifted, cold and frightened. He slowly drifted over the primary approach corridor for LAX airport. A TWA pilot first spotted Larry. The pilot radioed to the tower and described passing a guy in a lawn chair… with a gun! Radar confirmed the existence of an object floating at 16,000 feet above the airport. LAX emergency procedures went into full alert. Larry finally shot enough balloons to lower himself down safely into some power lines in a nearby neighborhood.
He was immediately arrested upon landing; when asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, “A man can’t just sit around.” After his flight, he was in brief demand as a motivational speaker and he quit his job as a truck driver. He was featured in a Timex print ad in the early ’90s.
Good ole Larry Walters needed a good friend to be honest with him: “Bro, I know you can’t just sit around and you’re going stir crazy inside, but come on dude, drop that idea and let’s rent some Harley’s, drive up the cost, and have a beer on the beach.”
Apparently his girlfriend Carol didn’t love him enough to be honest with him. “Yeh baby, okay… sounds like a great idea! Let’s forge your bosses signature, buy some weather balloons and lie about what we are using them for! Excellent idea!” That’s the kind of idea my 3 year old, not a middle aged man and his adult girlfriend.
Honesty! This is a big topic, isn’t it. Many of us have been that friend who should’ve said what was truthful and we didn’t because we loved ourselves more than our friends. Being honest with one another these days seems to be optional.
You know those hidden camera shows where they stage actors and actresses who are picking on an overweight lady, totally humiliating and tormenting her with words and laughs… in public. Over the period of 4 hours, they only have a handful of people (out of thousand passer-by’s) stand up to these actors and actresses and confront their unjust behavior.
Where has our honesty and character gone? Where has our regard for others, and for our own behavior gone. Where’s the love man? We need a revolution of honesty and truthfulness. We need this because the central defect of evil isn’t necessarily sin, but the refusal to acknowledge it.
The passage that I was given to teach on tonight, deals exactly with this honesty problem, but we are going to have to do some work to figure out how we can be freed up to have the character and courage to be honest people. Turn with me to Colossians 3:9: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. “Now that’s a strong statement Paul…are you assuming I’m lying to people? Why do you have to assume things? But whatPaul’s doing, is he’s making a comment on the heels of an unfolding letter that we must briefly unpack. Let’s look at Col. 3:5-8:
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
8 But now you must put them all away:
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Paul is hammering Christian living in light of Christ being all and in all (Col. 1:15-23; 2:6-15). Thus, these commands and urgings (or we can call them imperatives) from Paul are not legalistic nor meant for you to “obey or else”, rather they are an urgent call for the Colossians to live in light of who they are in Christ (remember the indicatives). If we had the time, (I encourage you to do this yourself later tonight), I could slowly walk through Col. 1-2 and teach on all that is already true for believers:
-Reconciled to God through His death and resurrection.
-Christ in you.
-Established in faith.
-Your faith in Him has joined you in His death, thus receiving the reward of His death and resurrection which will be a glorified body that will appear with Christ in glory!
-You were made you alive when you were dead.
-Your sins were forgiven.
-You were given the power of God over the authorities that once condemned and damned you.
Because of this O’ Colossians, seek the things that are above (Col. 3:1). Set your mind on the things Christ has made you. Christ is coming back and you will appear with Him; not only appear with Him, but will be with Him in all His glory. This is your inheritance. This is what Christ has done for you. You are free not because you are righteous, but because Jesus is righteous. Stop pretending to be holier than thou, admit your sin, and be honest with one another. Plead the case for the widow, orphan, oppressed, stand up for those who can’t stand by themselves, don’t pretend you don’t see the injustice, etc…
This is why I believe Paul says at the end of these two lists above:
v. 9: Do not lie to one another. Don’t lie about your sin, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices… The old self is not only these actions, but the denial of you being in need of help from Jesus… 10 …put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator… This happens through on going confession and repentance of these sins that you must learn to put away, sins that you commit, but also, like those who over look injustice, sins you commit through inaction. You will never learn or change in a healthy way as long as you are not honest with yourself and others. In other words…
Be honest with each other. Quit pretending to like someone and then insult them all the more by talking about them behind their back. If your homeboy talks too much and doesn’t get the hints that everyone else is giving him, honor the dude and be honest with him. If his zipper is down or he has food n between his teeth, tell him! Don’t act all cool with him then go to another group of friends and talk about how much he annoys you. That’s not what Christ saved you into…
There is a false unspoken rule among many believers that if you don’t have it together, then you’ve got to claim it, and stop acting like you don’t have it together, because you are new in Christ. Well let me blow up a myth for you tonight: being reborn and made new in Christ doesn’t undo the past and doesn’t take away the pain and dysfunction you have because of your past or current situation. No, there is a real thing that theologians call sanctification (becoming more like Christ).
We are not redeemed and made perfect and skip the whole “being made like Jesus” part. No, the struggles, the pain, the failures, the confessions, the forgiveness that is granted, all of that is what is used to make you like Jesus and that process doesn’t stop until you die or Jesus returns. So stop lying to each other. The Christian gospel is about truth, and there is no place for false truths in the Christian community.
How do we do that? Maybe you’re hearing me tonight and you are all in, you want to be done pretending. You want to grow up into your salvation and have real deep abiding friendships, ones that matter and bring joy into your life. Here’s how you begin to grow up emotionally and stop lying to one another:
1) If you haven’t already, trust in Jesus today. Be honest with Him. Allow Him to be the One you trust and worship, not yourself, not your boyfriend or girlfriend, not your family, only Jesus. This happens by confessing your sin, that starts like this: I’m a sinner. I need help. Help me Jesus.
2) Ask for forgiveness from those you know you have either outwardly or secretly wronged. Make things right. Confess to them that you were a fraud and that you thought you could be more acceptable by dissing them, etc.
3) Be honest with yourself. If you take the time to think about how you really feel, what you really think, and how often you stuff feelings, emotions, griefs, etc… You will be able to come up with a long list of areas where you haven’t been honest.
-Have you ever had a problem arise and you ignored it and hoped it went away?
-Have you ever went somewhere that you didn’t feel safe and pretended to be okay and never tell anybody, and now you live in fear and anxiety about going back to that person/place?
-Have you ever lied about how you are feeling (whether good, bad or indifferent)?
-Have you ever been full of fear all night and went on your next day without telling a soul?
-Have you ever put on a smile, when inside you were raging with anger?
-Have you ever seen someone wrong another person (in any way) and act like noting happened or didn’t see it?
-Have you ever said yes to someone that would’ve made you feel bad if you said no and became resentful and bitter toward that person, but never told them?
-Have you ever ignored a glaring weakness in a friend just because you wanted to date them or be associated with someone of their social status?
-Have you ever been manipulated by a friend and never confronted their manipulation?
-Have you ever put on certain outfits to make people think you were wealthier or happier than you were?
All of these questions are just to get you thinking about how much we are not honest with each other. We’re like those on the hidden camera show where someone is needing help by a bully and 99% of the people just walk by & pretend they didn’t see it.
You see, we are all really good at pointing our fingers at others, our leaders, our parents, our friends, the Republicans or Democrats, our professors… but if we were to be honest with ourselves, we know we are the same frauds we think they are.
We must be honest with ourselves and admit that our way of looking at ourselves and glossing over our own actions while we secretly judge others is a terrible way to live. We need a truthful revolution because:
-We can be a dynamic, gifted speaker for God in public and be an unloving child, spouse, or parent at home.
-We can function as a worship band member or church leader and be unteachable, insecure, defensive, and sleeping around.
-We can memorize books of the Bible and still be unaware of our depression and anger, even transferring it on to other people who don’t deserve it.
-We can fast and pray one day a week for years as a spiritual discipline and constantly be critical of others, justifying it as discernment, and pretending you’re more mature.
-We can lead hundreds of people in a Christian ministry while driven by a deep personal need to prove ourselves because we are plague by a sense of failure.
-We can pray for deliverance from the demonic realm when in reality we are simply avoiding conflict, and repeating an unhealthy pattern of behavior traced back to the home in which you grew up.
-We can be outwardly cooperative at work, but unconsciously try to undercut or defeat our supervisor by coming habitually late, constantly forgetting tasks, withdrawing and becoming apathetic, or ignoring the real issue behind why we are hurt and angry.1
Are you tracking with me? We need not lie to one another. Why? How can we feel so safe to let our guard down and be honest about ourselves, our pain, and why we are struggling to love people and be honest with them? Here’s how:
Jesus wants the honest one who’s been broken. Jesus didn’t come for those who are not sick and broken. He came for the sick, the broken, the truthful ones about their wretchedness. He tells us this Himself. Jesus Christ lived the obedient life you and I couldn’t live, and died the death that you and I deserved to die, and conquered death that was going to crush us, SO THAT, you and I could be reconciled to the true Father, the good Daddy, who loves us and only wants us to be honest with Him and trust Him.
This is where Paul is going in Colossians. O’ Colossians, you can jump into this radical new way of living that is terribly dangerous and could seem like relational suicide to some of you, but it is the only way to live. You were created to live in the light, for Jesus is light and has brought you into it by grace through faith in Him.
Will you take Jesus at His word tonight and be honest with Him and others, and receive what you were created to receive? Be honest with one another, and start by being honest with yourself.