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As we welcomed many guests this week who had accepted our invites to give “church” another try, we explored what are some of the causes of past church hurt, why we shouldn’t give up on Christian community, and what we can get encouraged by in 2 Corinthians 5:1 – 6:2.

In this study, we dig into a letter from Paul (an apostle) to one of the churches he planted that is now struggling in ways that hurts people. This effort to steer them back on track of being what God intended reminds us that time is fleeting, God has more for us than this world does, and now is the time for hope, grace, compassion and connection within the family of God.

We pray you enjoy this study and dig in. God has more than some of us have experienced in our pasts. It’s time to move from the mortal to Life!

If we can help you in any way, please feel free to touch base or stop by and visit.

http://www.tsflife.com

Back to Church 2016

ShepherdFellowshipMama

Did you know that most people who have stepped out of church have not lost faith in God? We have found that a physical move, a change in schedules, or being hurt by Christians or a church before have effected many when it comes to being in Christian community.

At The Shepherd’s Fellowship, we have a huge heart for those outside of church … especially those who have been hurt before. Many of us, including myself can relate due to our past church experiences.

However, we find it’s clear in the Bible that God has created us for community – to work together, encourage each other, enjoy life together, worship together, and help each other. We see that God adopts us into His family and not to be orphans in Christ.

What we have found that if you chase after Biblical community, there is a real beauty in the messiness of true relationships. Many who have not felt comfortable in other types of church communities have found a home at The Shepherd’s Fellowship.

With this in mind, we want to take a moment and invite you to “Back to Church Sunday” on September 18th. Our Sunday morning gathering will start at 10:30am and will include music, a study that’s life applicable,share in some ways to make big impacts in our community, and more! There will also be kid’s ministry going on with TSF Kids for babies – 5th grade for those who wish to plug in.

We don’t expect this invite to serve as enough to give you a feel for who we are and why you should give church with us a chance so please stop by our web-site at www.tsflife.com and learn more about us. If you have any additional questions, touch base with me through our leadership page and I’ll help any way I can. Hoping to see you!
Blessings,

Pastor Tom Hypes
The Shepherd’s Fellowship
tsflife.com

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

 

 

walkingout

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

gossip-1

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….
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