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decision-making

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22

Life can be hard to navigate and it seems to always be changing. What felt right yesterday is now disjointed. The plans we have been holding onto for years shift to new possibilities. Part of living this life is making decisions and trying to navigate some kind of unseen path in front of us.

The Bible tells us a simple but profound truth that is key to moving forward in success. Wise counsel can make all the difference a tomorrow that is full of freedom instead of pain.

At the same time, I see many people skipping this step and just trying to figure things out for themselves. We are raised to be mature adults and take care of ourselves but this often leads to us making life-changing moves with no more insight than our own.

Keep in mind, I’m talking wise counsel not people trying to control you or make your decisions for you. However, we all make better decisions in life with additional insight and knowledge.

With this established, I want to share a handful of people that may be in your life that you can go to for wise counsel. It can make all the difference.

Your parents – I realize that not all of us have caring and mature parents but many of us do. If you are blessed in this area, lean into the benefit of that gift.

Good parents have decades of life experience you do not have yet (especially if you are in your teens through your thirties). Good parents would happily die in the place of their children and want nothing but the best for them. Good parents would love to give you wise counsel for your next steps.

Licensed Counselors – While I do admit that finding a good counselor takes a little effort, I don’t understand why others fight this one so much (usually it’s a pride issue). We all go through times in our lives, marriages, families and the like where we just don’t know how to move forward. A trained counselor can help give new tools to add to your options.

When we have a physical need, we don’t hesitate calling in the doctor (if you want to be healthy). We shouldn’t be so resistant to getting professional help.

Your pastor – Speaking of professional help, I am amazed how many people come to me to share they have made a huge decision in their life (especially spiritually) but did not come at any point to discuss it during the process of coming to that point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ego filled, control freak but there have been many times someone is laying out a decision they have made and there are warning signs left and right in it. Then they add in the words “God has laid it on my heart to do this.”

The challenge is it is a tougher conversation at that point than if they said “Here’s where things seem to be pointing, what do you think?”. Sometimes the door is not open for any conversation at all. Often times the plans stumble and fall and I see good people get hurt.

Many pastors want God’s best for you. Many pastors have a couple decades of experiences not just from their life but the lives they work with. Many pastors know more than you do about some of the issues you are working with the impressions of. Many pastors know the Bible well and can advise as such. Pastors also don’t have the emotion in the situation that you do that sometimes clouds our judgment in life.

People you want to be like – If you are making a decision in a particular area of your life, find someone who you respect that are doing well in that area. If it’s financial, talk to someone who is doing well in their stewardship. If it’s physical, find someone who moved into a healthier lifestyle be making new decisions. If it’s spiritual, go to someone who is spiritually mature and following God.

The truth is that we (like teenagers) often go to peers who are at the same place in life as we are. Humans tend to have views on everything and happy to share them. However, that is not the same as wise counsel.

People who are in the same place of life that you are tend to make lousy leaders for you. Take the time to find someone a little further up the path.

The Bible – Wait! What? Why is this last on the list?

It’s not. It is the list.

You should start, stay in, and come back to the Bible for counsel. “Wise” counsel matches up with the Bible each and every time. You can get advice from Christians (and yes, non-Christians) but it all needs to be held up to the light of the Bible to see if it matches up.

There are those who will get ahead in this life with worldly wisdom for a season but a long-term blessed life comes from wisdom that matches the Word of God.

Emotions and shortcuts lead us to muck and mire. Wise counsel helps us to succeed. If I can help you in any way, let me know. It’s the least I can do with all the wise counsel others have given to me who are further down the road than I am.

Blessings!

Pastor Tom Hypes

tsflife.com

 

 

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It’s August and this is the time of year that it seems I start hearing people saying they are thinking about leaving their church and going someplace else (from our church and other churches). They say things like “It doesn’t feel the way it used to” or “I don’t feel like I fit in anymore”.

Many times, it happens about this time of year because they have often been absent from church for the summer. They have disconnected from their local church family to travel or do activities and then feel it’s something in the church that caused this feeling of distance.

However, it’s not just the end of summer distance that cause people to feel this way. Sometimes it’s because they enjoy the feel of when things are fresh at a new church and then when things start getting a little more real, they want to run and get the high of being at a new church again.

This season when things are fresh and easy is called the honeymoon period.

In the honeymoon period, you have new relationships, love the music, enjoy the pastor, and start volunteering in exciting new ways in the ministry. However, after a couple years you find the other people are no more perfect than you are, the music isn’t quite your “style” anymore, the pastor’s preaching style is the new norm, and volunteering is just one more thing on your schedule (and if you were in charge, it would be better anyways).

This is the season when some start to wonder if it’s time to move on. There’s a new church across town with an exciting new jungle gym and their band just put out a CD. They wonder if maybe they should go visit there.

Then they leave. Often times, they leave without having a conversation with those in the church or looking for any Godly counsel. Often times they leave saying things like “God is leading me away….”.

Now, there are times people are led by God to a new church. There’s also times a church is getting off base and after addressing it in conversation; nothing changes so you have to leave. This is not what I’m talking about.

I am talking about when you go to a church because it’s new and then leave when it gets real. It’s a huge problem and more prevalent than some want to admit.

God has called us to be mature in our Christian community.

Paul has given us great instruction on how to be a church family including not giving up meeting with each other as some are in the habit of doing.

The books of Acts chronicles the early church (large body and local church bodies) to encourage and spur us on.

It’s more than a good feeling where you get all your needs and wants filled. It’s a family.

One of the metaphors that Paul uses to define the relationship between Christ and the Church is a marriage. When we look at this trend in light of that metaphor, we start to see the concern with skipping to a new church every time things don’t “feel the way they used to”.

When a couple gets married, the honeymoon period is wonderful. You laugh, you have deep talks, you go out together all the time, there’s natural intimacy, and everything you do is magical.

After a couple years, things start to change. You’re dealing with the bills, trying to raise a baby with different views on parenting, trying to get the housework done, and things don’t “feel the way they used to”.

This is when you have a choice. You can bail out and find someone new to get that feeling back for a season or you dig in for the work and effort of having a real and mature marriage. The joy that comes from a marriage you work on is greater and deeper than the honeymoon period.

Yet some jump from church to church like someone jumping from spouse to spouse. They are never fully satisfied because they have never sacrificed for something greater than their short term wants.

Now some reading this might think I’m being unfair comparing going to a church on Sunday mornings and a marriage. That’s because I’m not talking about going to a church on Sunday mornings.

I’m talking about Christian community through the local body church. I’m talking about the family of God. I’m talking about what we see in the Bible, not on Main Street. I’m talking about something bigger than you and I having something on our schedule that may or may not work out this weekend.

If you are at a point that you are thinking about leaving your church, take a breath and see if there is anything above that might apply to your situation. If so, have a conversation, let some things go, or plug back in for something deeper and more mature.

If there is another reason you are thinking about leaving your church, get into the Bible and have a good talk with a mature Christian friend who wants God’s best for you to find out what your next move should be. Do not go off of emotions or “it just feels like” as your best guide.

If you have given up on church because all you have experienced is the “Sunday morning schedule” brand, touch base. I’d love to share with you what God has shared that He desires for us in Christian community. It’s a mature community that is devoted, relational, generous, serving, and one that makes an impact!

Blessings,

Pastor Tom Hypes

tsflife.com

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The Conversation Pit

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Here’s a little look inside my church office…specifically, this is the conversation pit. Many in depth talks have been held here.

This is where the church elders study, pray, and meet on church matters.

This is where the deacons often meet to work together for the care of those within our church and the community around us.

At other times, it’s where I sit with perspective married couples, people who are struggling, or people looking for an ounce of guidance.

Finally, this is where I sit and talk at times with people who have concerns, frustrations, or misunderstandings with me or within the church family.

I love this area because in all of these situations, this is often where understanding or healing happens.

In honor of the heart of this little space, I wanted to build on last week’s post concerning gossip. I want to suggest some best practices when it comes to communication during struggles that may be of interest to you.

– Ask yourself, does this warrant a conversation?

To be honest, sometimes our topic of interest can be more hurtful than beneficial. Sometimes, it is our self focus or frustration levels that convinces us that we need to get it off our chest and on to someone else. However, at times, this can just be a transfer of emotional weight with no real effort at a conversation that benefits both of you.

It’s best to pray over and take a moment before you enter into a conversation. It may just be something that you just need to let go of. It might be something that is flared up inside you because of another root cause or maybe your position is wrong. Having some time with the Lord to find if it’s wise to have the conversation is a great first step.

However, for many of us who don’t like conflict, it’s easy to talk ourselves into not talking to someone about an issue and then letting things back up on us. If it’s an issue that needs some conversation or some better understanding on… move to the next step.

Invite the other person to a conversation. If it’s needed and you don’t, you will lose control of your input.

Let me explain.

For some, we like to go silent when there’s a concern and thus withdraw. In reality, do you know what this leads to? Division.

The people who love you feel shut out and no longer know how to reach out to you. You start to feel more and more on the outside like no one cares. In a church environment, you stop fellowshipping, stop serving as part of the body, and set up a situation for you to feel like you are on the outs.

You may think by pulling your voice back that it’s keeping a division from happening. Not so.

Most of the time, you end up talking with someone about the concern with someone else to get it out there someplace instead of being stuck in you. You may even do so with a pure desire for input and advice. However, now it’s out there and they are bound to tell someone else. They may even have good intentions to get you help you when they don’t know how to but none the less, others now control your input.

It’s better to invite someone to the “conversation pit” than to have them invite you because you were unwilling to make the first move.

Bring Grace to the Conversation

Often times, when we are frustrated with someone else in a moment, we forget how much we love them. I have seen people accuse some of their closest friend of horrible things they know in their hearts that person would never do. Breathe. Remember who they are. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask questions instead of accusing them.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4: 29

– Expect a Two Sided Conversation

When you bring a concern to someone, they should listen and try to understand your perspective. However, they deserve the same from you.

If your only goal is to make them see and accept your reality, you are not looking for a conversation. A conversation is a meeting of two perspectives that let both sides walk away with a better and bigger understanding.

I have had people come to me with concerns that I listen to and repeat back to them to make sure I understand. Then, when I offer some information that they might now know or a perspective they may not be aware of, get angry at me. They weren’t looking for understanding, they were looking to unload. The key is to listen and speak on both sides to grow together in love and truth.

Get it all out!

If you have two or three things bothering you, don’t just choose one and ignore the others. Sometimes we pick and choose so we don’t come off like we are complaining too much or are overly needy. The problem is, the opposite usually happens. When we address one thing and leave with a hug, Satan will stir up the other concerns in short measure. The next thing you know, the relationship is strained again and the other person is trying to figure out what happened this time. Get it out on the table and let the conversation and love pour over it.

Give Mercy to Offenses 

Time to forgive. While there are those who abuse your mercy that you need to protect yourself from, most times there is no such thing as too much forgiveness. You will need their mercy … freely give yours.

Leave supporting each other

The goal is not to leave a conversation agreeing 100% with each other’s perspective. The goal is understanding and supporting one another. It’s unity, growth, and when ever you can…. a hug.

Time after time, I have seen people walk in my door frustrated, depressed, or hurting and after a honest and loving conversation are refreshed and renewed. The common comment is “I feel so much better after we talked about this.” We could all do well practicing healing through communication more.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” Ephesians 4:15

Pastor Tom Hypes
http://www.tsflife.com

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Over my years of ministry, sometimes it seems like there are two types of people. There are those who recognize gossip in themselves and work to grow and there are those who don’t realize they are a gossip and continue in their destructive ways.

Gossip is a killer. We may try to write off our own gossip by saying we are just blowing off steam, claim we should be able to say what we want to others that are close friends, or claim that it doesn’t happen often.

The problem is that usually the victims of the gossip usually find out and are hurt at the betrayal. The blowing off steam becomes starting fires. Talking to close friends becomes having less friends (at least friends of value) as they pull away from you. “It doesn’t happen often” becomes a quick defense but not an honest one as we slip more into negativity and feed the beast of gossip over and over again.

So, the question is, are you a gossip? Well, let’s look at the definition….
Continue Reading »

Father’s Day

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The other night, I was sitting and reading through one of my favorite testimonies in the Bible again. The testimony of the life of Moses.

As I read through the first few chapters, I covered sections like his birth, deliverance, adoption, upbringing, his stand against oppressors, exile, and more. As I came to one of the more famous stories of Moses and the burning bush, something stood out to me in a new way that I had missed before.

When God introduced himself to Moses in the conversation, this is what he said…. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Exodus 3: 6

There is much to be said about the implication of God being the God of Abraham in whom the covenant was given. We could explore that for some time. There is a great deal of truth behind Him being the God of Isaac and of Jacob as well. However, the one I had missed before was God taking stock that He was the God of Moses’ father.

We don’t know much about Amram (Moses’ father). We know he was a Levite (priest). We know that He is a God follower and followed during some challenging times. We know that even though Moses was adopted out of the family, he was aware of his family and appeared to still have relationships with them. Here we see that the faith choices of Moses’ daddy was not only impactful but recognized by God himself.

One of the challenges within the church community is finding a man of faith can be tougher than finding a woman of faith. When we owned the local Christian bookstore, we have huge sections of discipleship resources for women but it was hard to find good resources for men because the demand was so light.

This coupled with some truths I shared with our church a few weeks back should challenge us as men and fathers to step up. Here’s what I shared with our church.

– When 18 years olds are established in Christ and Church, they are 50% more likely to have their own children plugged into Christ and Church in the future.

– You have most of your spiritual formation in place between the ages of 6 years old and 13 years old.

– 80% of the people who come to know Jesus as Leader and Forgiver in their lives do so between the ages of 4 and 14.

Being a father who worships God not only has implications in our lives but is critical for our children as well.

This was not just true for Moses but for God’s people. As God continued his conversation, he instructed Moses to do this … Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Exodus 3: 15 and again in Exodus 4: 5

If you are a father, I encourage you this Father’s Day to take stock of your walk and your witness before your children. You have an incredible oppurtunity to make an eternal difference for those who hold your heart.

If you have a father of faith, encourage them and praise God for them. If they have already passed on, remember and praise God for them. So many do not have the benefit you do. God sees your father of faith and calls him His own. God sees your father of faith and lists him with the giants. God sees your father of faith and lists him first in the line up.

Happy Father’s Day!

As many of you know, Trey Pearson of the Christian music group, Everyday Sunday came “out of the closet” yesterday. Once you get into social media, there is a firestorm of commentators from every side of the conversation spitting out Bible verses to support their personal feelings and beliefs. The sad part is, for the most part, they are taking verses out of context and painting conflicting and sometimes hateful pictures.

So, with this in mind, I thought I would dig out this study we did a little while back at digs into the topic in an honest and complete manner. Enjoy!

“This is not your normal sermon on homosexuality….

`Few topics divide the world and the church like homosexuality. For that matter, few things divide the church like the same topic.

The issues within the GLBT community effect our politics, views, and most of all… personal lives. Many have been hurt, driven to anger or just fall away over past hurts and experiences and the divide deepens.

At The Shepherd’s Fellowship, we believe in 100% love and 100% truth. Can this also apply to the conversation of homosexuality? Be part of our study and see what you find as we dig into a hot button but critical study.”

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