Church finds lessons in Lance Armstrong scandal

Matt Grant

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Church finds lessons in Lance Armstrong scandal

CREATED Jan. 20, 2013

NORTH PORT, Fla. - A North Port church is capitalizing on the Lance Armstrong doping controversy.

The South Biscayne Church is using the disgraced cyclist's scandal into a teachable moment to preach the importance of honesty and forgiveness.

"For decades Lance Armstrong covered up this doping situation," said senior pastor John Cross. "It was all one big lie...When you lie there's two people that know you're lying: You and God."

Cross told parishioners Sunday the seven-time Tour De France winner did the right thing by telling the truth.

"I would commend him for coming clean," said Cross. "Because the first step to getting help, in any areas of our lives, is to simply acknowledge the facts."

Cross' talk is one of several focusing on celebrities called "What Would Jesus Say To..."

"Jesus would say to [Armstrong] what Jesus would say to you: Don't try to cover up anymore," said Cross. "Come Clean."

The celebrity sermons are meant to get parishioners thinking about their own faults by pointing out what he sees as the sins of the stars like Kim Kardashian ("Jesus might say to her live to make me famous," said Cross), Donald Trump ("There's more to life than making money") and Ellen DeGeneres ("God's plan for people is one man, one woman for life in marriage," said Cross).

On Sunday, it was Armstrong who took center stage in the second week of the celebrity-themed sermons.

The church played video montages of Armstrong and had a man dressed like him, in a yellow jersey, riding a bicycle while a band played on stage.

Cross used Armstrong's public confession to preach forgiveness and "fresh starts." It was a message welcomed by parishioners.

"At first you might to be critical of others," said parishioner Mark Meyers. "But then as you get to the message you find out it's a little bit, hey you got some things in your life you might want to reflect on and change too."

A change, Cross says, that has to come from within.

"Lance and all of us have an opportunity to be forgiven," said Cross, "for our mistakes, our foul-ups, our sins."

The church made headlines in 2010 when they held a car-give away contest. 

The "What Would Jesus Say To..." talks will continue for another month, according to Cross, and will feature sermons on LeBron James, Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres and Donald Trump.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com

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