Louie Giglio: Identifying lies and taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, as it says in Corinthians, the key to that is knowing the truth. And we don’t win by fighting against the lies. We win by clinging to the truth and walking in it.
Taking Control of Lies and Living In Truth: Louie Giglio and Diana Butler Bass – Episode #281
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. You may have heard the Bible verse from John 8:32 that says if you “know the truth, the truth shall set us free.” However, so many of us are vulnerable to lies we hear from others (or even tell ourselves) about who we are, about who others are, and about how we should be in the world. Our guests today encourage us as to how we can overcome lies by walking in truth and embracing who we’re meant to be in God’s eyes. We’re speaking with the pastor of Passion City Church Louie Giglio and author and speaker Diana Butler Bass.
First up, let’s hear from Louie Giglio.
Louie: Hi, everyone. I’m Louie Giglio, I live in Atlanta, Georgia, with my wife, Shelly, and I am the pastor of Passion City Church, located in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. And I give leadership to the passion movement. We are gathering this generation of eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds for the glory of God.
A Start in Ministry
So I wanted to follow God, but I had no clue what that was going to look like coming out of high school. It was more likely if you asked me what I was going to do in life, that I was going to play professional tennis all my life. I was giving most of my daytime hours when I wasn’t in school to playing tennis and went to college thinking I was going to go and play at Georgia State University. But all that changed my freshman year, and I didn’t make the tennis team. God radically called me into ministry. This is back in the day, so I didn’t really know what that meant. There were about six slots you could go into a pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor, missionary, evangelist. And so I didn’t really know what that meant, I just knew without a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to communicate the gospel to my generation. And so starting as a sophomore in college, I began on that journey and on that track and had no idea that it would lead me to all the places God has brought me to today, but grateful to still be proclaiming His story.
The first step for me was to take any opportunity I had to communicate to people and, you know, that was going to be nine kids at a church north of Atlanta on Tuesday nights. I’d drive up there every Tuesday and try to build some cohesion in a little church community that didn’t have a youth pastor. Or, it was speaking at a youth retreat somewhere in the city that had twenty-nine high school kids in the middle of the night at a lock-in. But in those days, you said yes to every opportunity to do what it was you thought God was calling you to do. And I still want to be like that. I’m just saying yes now to the opportunities God brings me.
“In those days, you said yes to every opportunity to do what it was you thought God was calling you to do. And I still want to be like that. I’m just saying yes now to the opportunities God brings me.” Louie Giglio
Part of the way ministry works in scripture is that the community of believers would call the gifts out, and people wouldn’t announce, “Hey, I’m the preacher, I’m the teacher, I’m the evangelist.” People would just see the gift on people and then call the gift out in them. And so when you’re doing these early things, you don’t want to be, you know, a thud. You want people going, Wow, God really used you, or, God spoke to me, or When you do this, I can sense this is God’s plan for you. And I began to get a lot of that feedback and affirmation. And thank goodness I wasn’t making it about me, but I was just realizing, Oh, I’m in my lane and I’m in the lane that God wants me to be in. And all I’ve got to do is keep staying true and faithful to this calling. And that’s really how I’ve gotten from that moment to this moment, it’s just by waking up every day and saying yes to the opportunities that God gives me.
“That’s really how I’ve gotten from that moment to this moment, it’s just by waking up every day and saying yes to the opportunities that God gives me.” – Louie Giglio
We are moving into year twenty-five, we started Passion in 1997 after ten years of doing campus ministry at a campus in Texas. And Shelley and I sort of got there the same way we’ve gotten everywhere. We sense God’s leading in a direction that we didn’t really see coming. We planted a Bible study at Baylor University and in a few years time, ten percent of that campus was coming on a Monday night to open God’s Word together. And we saw God do something phenomenal over a decade of time there.
But my dad was disabled here in Atlanta soon into that process and had been declining year after year. And finally, the Lord released us to come from Texas to Atlanta to help my mom take care of my dad. Interestingly, as we arrived in Atlanta after saying goodbye to ten years of ministry, my dad died suddenly. And there we were in a very murky time of confusion and frustration and in the fog if you will, we didn’t have a ministry or a purpose, and here we were in a new city. And in that little window of time, a seed was planted and a vision was born. And that vision was not for a campus, but it was for the campuses of the nation. Being eighteen, nineteen, twenty, that’s the crossroad of life. That’s where we make the friends that normally shape our future. It’s where we make the decisions that sort of clarify our path, and it’s where faith is refined. And we wanted to be on that corner for the twenty million university students in America.
And so we started a gathering called Passion in Austin, Texas, in 1997, and 2,000 college students showed up. It really did mark all of us, the four days we spent there. We came back the next year and the next year and four years later, 40,000 college students came together for one day, 2,000 in Memphis, Tennessee, and we thought that was the end of the vision. Those people are all over the world right now serving Jesus. But the vision continued. And here we are coming into a gathering in just a few weeks from now at the Mercedes Benz Stadium here in Atlanta, where we expect to see another historic moment with God. And the point of it all is not conferences, it’s not events, it’s not just gathering lots of people. It’s helping students come to this beautiful realization that life is not about them and that life finds its greatest meaning when we make our lives, use our gifts and talents for the greatest thing there is. And we believe that’s the glory of Jesus.
Our message is the same. Our core root is the same; Isaiah 26:8, “For your name and your renown or the desire of our souls.” That’s still our heartbeat. Some of the speakers are the same. The shape of the messages are the same, the purity of the event, the desire—it’s not a lot of fanfare and frills, we just want to be with God. We want to exalt Him in worship. We want to catch His heartbeat for the nations and we want to be sent out, flung out for His glory.
If you just preach the gospel and preach the Word, it stays relevant in every season. They need to know that they’re seen, loved, valued by God, healed, restored, and made complete in Christ and equipped by the spirit to be sent out into the world on kingdom assignments to bring glory to God and see salvation come to the nations. And that’s still where we are today.
“If you just preach the gospel and preach the Word, it stays relevant in every season.” – Louie Giglio
Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table
The title of the book is Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table. And we’re talking about the capital E enemy. So a lot of people are going to go, Wait a minute, I thought we were supposed to love our enemies, not this enemy. We’re talking about our adversary, the one Jesus said comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. And the subtitle of the book kind of unfolds at all, it says, It’s Time to Win the Battle of Your Mind. And so the book really is my story. I was in a really difficult place in leadership a lot of seasons ago. And I’d come through this tunnel of a lot of fire and things have been said and things have been done. And I had said things and as it was clarifying in time, I got some news one day and someone called me and said, “You’re not going to believe what just happened.” It was a little tiny thing that had vindicated me and oh my goodness, you’d have thought I got the greatest news in the world because we always want that moment that sort of proves, Oh, see, I was right. See, I am a good guy. And I texted a friend who’d walked with me through this whole thing and I said, “You’re not going to believe what I just heard. Can you believe if you just give things time, things always come out right?” And I was just venting and wanted someone to commiserate with. And my friend loved me enough to send me the message I needed, not the message I wanted. And I looked down after waiting for a few moments and the text I received was nine words long. And I thought You’re kidding me. I sent you this big, long message and you’re going to send me a sentence back, a phrase?
And I focused on the words and that’s what was in the text: “Don’t give the Enemy a seat at your table.” And right in that moment, I realized that I had let the adversary dominate my thinking, disrupt my peace of mind, cause confusion and consternation, and keep me up at night. And I had just been through the wringer on this thing all the while because I had let the Enemy sit down at my table, and I was in a conversation with a killer. And in my driveway, staring at my phone—I’ll never forget the moment I just decided I’m taking the table of my mind back, starting right now, saying “You are not welcome at my table and you are not welcome in this conversation. I’m not going to give you a seat any more at my table.” And that little phrase, it sounds like a little spiritual cliche, if you will, but it’s powerful. And I’ve actually leaned on that phrase multiple times every month, sometimes every week since that season, because the thoughts come in quickly and we don’t know where they come from, but we do have the power through Jesus to decide how long those thoughts stay in our mind.
“Right in that moment, I realized that I had let the adversary dominate my thinking, disrupt my peace of mind, cause confusion and consternation, and keep me up at night. And I had just been through the wringer on this thing all the while because I had let the Enemy sit down at my table and I was in a conversation with a killer. And in my driveway, staring at my phone—I’ll never forget the moment I just decided I’m taking the table of my mind back, starting right now, saying ‘You are not welcome at my table and you are not welcome in this conversation. I’m not going to give you a seat anymore at my table.’” – Louie Giglio
There are five big lies that we talk about in the book and those center around this idea that Jesus tells us He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies. And I think the first lie is that it’s better at another table, and somebody is hearing that right now. “You need to get rid of this relationship, get out of this marriage, get out of this responsibility and get over to this other table. That’s where freedom is. That’s where the joy is. That’s where what you’re looking for is.” That’s what Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I’ve come that you might have life and have it to the full.” I think another lie he tells us is that we’re not enough. We’re not good enough. We’re not smart enough. We didn’t come from the right family. We don’t have what it takes. We’re not on heaven’s radar. We’re not accepted by God or valuable to God. Definitely, the lie that we’re not going to make it. You hear people saying this all the time. The Enemy convinces us you’re not going to make it through the season, through this difficulty, this trial, the lie that everyone is against us, you know, this defense mentality that I walk in the office and already the Enemy has put paranoia in my heart. And I’m convinced that everybody in the office hates me and they’re all out to get me and they’re all conspiring for my demise. The lie that there’s no way out. This is the lie that Elijah’s servant thought when they woke up in that army, an army had surrounded them in the night and he told him, “There’s no way out, we’re surrounded,” but there’s always a way out with God.
And I think one of those lies that I like to point out to people a lot is the one [that says] you’re not going to make it. You’re not going to make it through this cancer. You’re not going to make it through this arbitration or through this season or this challenge. And the only way the Enemy can lie to us, to tell us that we’re not going to make it today, is because we actually did make it through the last thing that the Enemy told us we weren’t going to make it through. And in that same Psalm, Psalm 23, it said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff. They comfort me.” And He didn’t say “We’re going to the valley.” He said, “We’re going through the valley.” And God has a way of bringing us through every trial and every circumstance. And anyone listening to us right now, that’s their testimony. God has brought me through every situation and every trial I’ve ever faced in my entire lifetime. Yes, I have some scars. Yes, there was some loss, but God brought me through. And so when we face hard times, we shouldn’t blink at that and act like it’s nothing. When we’re in the middle of a challenging season or a situation, we shouldn’t say, “Oh, I’m blessed and highly favored.” We should say, “I’m in the middle of a really tough situation. But my story, God’s brought me through every time, and I believe God’s going to bring me through this time.” That’s how you take control of the lie and change the narrative into the truth.
“Psalm 23, it said, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff. They comfort me.’ And He didn’t say “We’re going to the valley.” He said, “We’re going through the valley.” And God has a way of bringing us through every trial and every circumstance.” – Louie Giglio
A Prayer for Discernment
One of the things I pray every day is for discernment, which is the ability to see things before they arrive, to understand what’s coming before you have to deal with it. And I’m not talking about something super mystical. I’m just talking about that gift of discernment that allows you to think clearly about what’s coming and be prepared for it as much as you can. And so clarity and discernment and then just the courage that we all need in this season of life to stand for truth and to love people. And if we do that, I think many people are going to find what they’re really looking for, and that’s a brand new relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Listens, April 7th:
You have been teaching me that anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without You. So my best defense against worry is staying in communication with You. When I turn my thoughts toward You, I can give all my worries and cares to You, knowing that You care about me. Help me remember to read Your Word and listen as I’m praying—making my thoughts a dialogue with You.
Thank You for providing guidelines for me to follow whenever I’m considering upcoming events: First, I must not linger in the future because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when I wander there. Second, I need to remember the promise of Your continual Presence—and include You in my thoughts as I plan future events. I confess that this mental discipline is challenging for me; my mind easily slips into daydreaming while I’m making plans. But I’m learning that the glorious reality of Your Presence with me, now and forevermore, outshines any daydream I could ever imagine!
In Your brilliant Name,
Well, I love this prayer because I do believe that all of our fears and anxieties are either trapped in the past, or lie somewhere out in a future that hasn’t even yet come to be. So I’m delighted today to be reminded again that Jesus is with me. His name is Emmanuel, God with us, incarnate, actually living in us by the power of His Holy Spirit. And I’m so grateful that we don’t have to ask for that. As believers, we have Jesus in us and we have Jesus with us every step of our lives. May God open our eyes today, and I pray that He would open my eyes today to see what Paul said, that it is Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Narrator: To learn more about Louie Giglio and his work, please visit www.passioncitychurch.com, and be sure to check out his new book, Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat At Your Table, wherever books are sold.
Stay tuned as we talk with Diana Butler Bass right after this brief message.
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Narrator: Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality.
Diana Butler Bass: I’m Diana Butler Bass, and I’m a writer and a teacher in certain ways, though, what I do write and teach isn’t entirely who I consider myself to be. Who I am is a pilgrim, a person who is a journey-er in faith and a teacher.
Growing Up and Growing in God
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, so the world that I inhabited when I was little was an urban world, Baltimore City, but it was also a world of woods and water, the beautiful landscape around the Chesapeake Bay. And, you know, I think that had a huge impact on who I am. I was growing up in the 1960s, so the city was a place of conflict and turmoil and questions about social justice and change. And then my parents moved when I was thirteen years old in 1972, we left Maryland and moved to Arizona. And so that part of my growing up, my teenage years, happened in the desert. And so I have these two different kind of geographical universes, these two landscape universes that called for different parts of who I am.
And so these two places, I think, shaped my spiritual imagination, that I understand both the kind of tenderness and embrace and comfort that we find in Christianity that God offers to us. And yet, on the other hand, I also recognize the sort of challenging landscape and that the challenging landscape which seems sometimes arid, is often a place of spiritual home where we learn things differently and you see ourselves in starker relief. So those two landscapes really shaped me, my family, in some ways.
My dad was a florist, so I also grew up around a lot of flowers. And my mom was just a stay-at-home mom. And I grew up in the Methodist church, a pretty old-fashioned church to grow up in. And I have a brother and sister, so it was the five of us. And we traveled from one place to another and tried to make a family in these two very different worlds.
And I think what began to happen was adolescence and the new location really combined to shake me up and the questions that my childhood church had answered of comfort, of kindness, of being nice to your neighbor, all these things, they just didn’t seem adequate in the new environment. And everything came into sort of sharper relief and deeper questions. And I began to wonder, Who am I really? Why am I, why are we here? And does this God have a purpose for my life?
When I got into my twenties, I started going to an Episcopal church, and I have been a member of the church since then, so it’s been a long relationship that I have with the office of the church. And that’s been a church experience of what I would say is the joy of participating in a tradition that’s an old tradition, it’s a 500-year-old tradition with roots further even beyond that, and that old tradition grounded you. And yet it also gave me a sense of freedom to not be afraid of questions, because if you’re part of a tradition that’s centuries and centuries old, you know that it’s not going to go away next year, it’s going to last. And so you can ask whatever questions need to be asked. And in that context of church, I both felt grounded and incredibly free.
“It also gave me a sense of freedom to not be afraid of questions, because if you’re part of a tradition that’s centuries and centuries old, you know that it’s not going to go away next year, it’s going to last. And so you can ask whatever questions need to be asked. And in that context of church, I both felt grounded and incredibly free.” – Diana Butler Bass
For the Love of the Church
I love church, and not in a sort of starry-eyed honeymoon period, or think that church does everything right. I know better. But it’s more like with that commitment to being in community with others through Jesus, in order to know God in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t.
So I think of churches, that kind of storytelling community, and how it opens our capacity to see stories that we wouldn’t write ourselves. And so that is powerful to me. And then churches wrap those stories in music and prayer and a sense of mission to do justice in the world. And so it becomes more than just hearing a nice story, it becomes a nice story that calls sometimes. It’s a hard story, actually, to listen to as well, that it becomes a story that calls forth in us a response. And that response is sometimes, “Oh, God, forgive me, but I have not cared for this neighbor who’s been invisible to me. Help me do better.”
So sometimes the story calls for repentance. Other times the story calls for joy. Oh, my gosh, look at that story, the prodigal son is really home. And so if God can welcome that guy back, I will come back. And so to see our lives through those stories is to anticipate that we respond to those stories. And then, of course, those prayers, depending on what church or part of our formal prayers of repentance, enjoy formal prayers of forgiveness and Thanksgiving or their extemporaneous ones where they just sort of flow out of the heart of the congregation. And then song is another way of trying to sing. And sometimes I can’t even put my prayers into words and they find their way into the music of a service. And that’s always a mystery and, you know, the beautiful thing that happens.
And then finally, every service of every sort I’ve ever been to, you know, basically ends with a call for the people of God to remember that what happens in church on Sunday, that isn’t just what church is about. But that real church happens when you go out the door. And so the gathering is a storytelling gathering. It’s a gathering of chasing our stories in the language of prayer. It’s a gathering of the oppressed and renewed by that series of music. It’s about being together and strengthening one another. And then it’s back and forth. And then the church loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners in jail, all that stuff, that’s church, that’s what Jesus said. Matthew 25, “Do that for the least of my brothers and sisters. And you’re doing it for me.” And so where do we encounter. God, Jesus is out in the world. And so that’s all the stuff that I love about church.
“Real church happens when you go out the door….the church loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners in jail, all that stuff, that’s church, that’s what Jesus said.” – Diana Butler Bass
A Community of Believers
I don’t spend a whole lot of time with devotional literature, but as an author, I do spend a lot of time in bookstores. And one of the things I noticed when my last book came out, a book called Grateful, I remember being in Barnes and Noble. And interestingly enough, my book, Grateful, was right next to Jesus Calling on this on the bookshelf. And why, I have no idea, because the author, my name, is at the beginning of the alphabet and that is not Sarah’s last name as she’s at the other end of the alphabet. And so there are those two books side by side on the Barnes and Noble new books shelf. And so I remember, you know, picking it up and thinking, I don’t know about this author and, you know, thumbing through it. And I thought, Well, this is a helpful devotional. I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of my sister writers who shaped material so that the stories can be read in smaller bits and chunks and that we can get to know the voice of God in our lives on that daily basis and be reminded of that voice and those intuitions, you know, that are these words written and spoken that do come through the oceans. So that’s how I got to know Jesus Calling, was that our books were on the same shelf.
I want to encourage people, you know, there’s a beauty about being a community, there’s a beauty about being in church, those people who do it well, and that’s important because those are some of the greatest heroes that I know. Share your story in such a way that your neighbors want to have coffee with you. Be able to tell your story of Jesus as easily and naturally. As I think Jesus told His own story.
“Share your story in such a way that your neighbors want to have coffee with you. Be able to tell your story of Jesus as easily and naturally. As I think Jesus told His own story.” – Diana Butler Bass
Narrator: To learn more about the work of Diana Butler Bass, visit her website at www.dianabutlerbass.com. And you can find her book Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence anywhere books are sold.
If you’d like to hear more stories about walking in God’s truth, check out our interview with Ben Higgins.
Sinach: The joy of just seeing the expression on people’s faces as we minister the music, the joy when we travel and see them come to Christ opened up their hearts, you know, it’s so beautiful. It’s so beautiful. As we sing the praises of God in different places to people who have never, never even given a thought to accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord and savior, the opening of the hearts and the acceptance of the Lord and Savior, that’s what makes it. There is such a joy to be a part of what God is doing and being in the middle of it and see people’s life change.