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Archive for April, 2015

Have you ever been turned off by the “social club” mentality that you see in some churches? Or have you been really bothered by Christians who claim to follow Jesus but act judgmental towards people of different social classes than they are?

As we continue our study through James’ letter, we find that this is a bone of contention to him as well. He has very specific things to say about this sin and it’s not the glib and surface statements you may have heard before.

Join us for a time of being challenged to love like Christ loves and making a difference in the world around us. There is beauty in the messiness of real community and the more we let Christ chip away at our relational comfort zones and prejudices, the more we experience and contribute to that truth.

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We are spending some time studying the Bible in a particular way. We are reading smaller segments but spending more time on reflecting on the Word and praying through what is laid on our hearts and minds.

For instance, today I spent time reflecting on 1 Timothy 1:15-16 and I thought I would share some of it with you.

As Paul is writing to a dear friend and disciple of his, he shares this “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

As I broke it down on paper, there were some good truths there that still stand true for us today. Let me give you a short version of my notes as I share.

He starts with a “trust worthy” statement that is “deserving full acceptance” that “Christ Jesus came into the world” “to save sinners” “of whom (Paul) is the foremost

In other words, we can fully know and accept that Jesus decided to sacrifice heaven to come to this earth. He decided to sacrifice the throne for the common place.. He decided to sacrifice the fullness of all things to enter the muck and the mire of the fallen creation. Why in the world would He ever take that huge of a loss?

Paul tells us his motive is to save the lost! He came to save sinners! He came to offer us salvation from what this world has to offer and what we give to ourselves. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that if we just acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God with our mouths and believe in out hearts that He died and rose again, we are saved. This is not a casual statement since believing such things means changing your life and submitting to Him but it leads to the life you were created for and an intimacy with God.

Now many pastor types would stop right there. They would present the global message of salvation putting it on you alone but Paul goes a step further. He personalizes the message. He realizes the sin in his own past as Paul was one messed up man before coming to Christ. He says before this section that he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and an insolent opponent of Christ and this is true. If we are honest with ourselves, in our own sin and actions, we can see the same in our pasts and maybe even our present state. This should drive us to start to ponder what this means to us personally instead of keeping “Jesus came to save sinners” as a truth that we hold at arm’s length.

But I received mercy!” and “for this reason, that in me” “Jesus might display his PERFECT patience as an example to those who would believe for eternal life“.

Everything changed when Paul received God’s mercy and the same is true for you and for me. I did a word study on mercy before (just means I looked it up in the dictionary to see what implications the different definitions might have and I found this….)

Mercykind and forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly, help to someone in a desperate situation, compassion shown to an offender, compassionate treatment of those in distress.

That’s what God offers to you today and what He has given me countless times over in my life. This is a loving act for several reasons including the new start He wants to give to you in freedom. However, He also wants to show through you, what He will do for others if they turn to Him.

Many people are only interested on how to get their “get into heaven” card but He invites us to more. His purpose is deeper. It is to give us freedom through His ways and heart today while also sharing our stories with others so they are reached as well.

– Have you accepted Jesus as Leader and Forgiver in your life? Do you mean it and let it impact you? Does it drive you as you follow Him? Grow in Him? Is there some new decisions you can be making today for freedom’s sake? Do you need to plug into Christian community through a church to get support? Where is new life and mercy trying to come to you today?

– Are you living in such a way that people see that change and find it attractive for themselves as well? Are you telling people about the mercy Christ has given to you and how it impacts you? Are you leading people to Jesus or pushing them away?

I am so thankful that God has given me forgiveness in spite of my short comings, my unworthiness, and my sins. I am so thankful for the life He breathes through me. I am so thankful that His hand is upon me and life is more abundant than I ever have had before.  I am so thankful for MERCY!

If you are struggling or hurting and want what you see God is doing in my life. If you want salvation from sin and the day-to-day grind also… touch base with me. I’d love to share more with you about the victory that Christ brings into your life!

Read the Word
Reflect on the Word
Pray over the Word you Received

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

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Obedience is not a popular topic for most. This is especially true for some who have seen the concept used in corrupt ways within church environments to control and to hurt others.

However, James seems to view this topic in a different light. He holds that if we view obedience the way God does, it’s life giving! It’s freedom! It’s foundational!

The world has had enough of “religion” and hypocrites, James agrees. However, he does more than sit back and complain about it. He offers us a handful of three tier plans to fix the problem in the world, in the church, and in ourselves.

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In this podcast, we start a new study series into the book of James! During this time, we will be invited to explore the relationship between the faith we claim to have and the works faith should produce. We will also consider the impact our faith should have in our lives and in our community.

In this first study, we look at the trials that come in our lives and the temptations we struggle against. While they are unavoidable in this life, they offer us great benefit in our spiritual walks as we lean into God. James will talk to us about how we do this and the mind shift many of us need to embrace this.

James is not an easy book of the Bible. It’s challenging and stretches the reader. However, it leads to new places of maturity and impact!

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“He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Grace is one of the words that we could spend hours trying to define fully. It just seems that saying it means unmerited forgiveness and love that brings a new start is not enough. When we choose to humble ourselves to the Lord, He gives us more grace. It might be the first time you come to Him to accept Him as Leader and Forgiver in your life (Romans 10:8-11) or it might be the third time today that you came back to Him after messing up, but He gives more grace to the humble.

We love that side of grace. We marvel at how God can be so patient, so loving, and so life giving. The challenge comes when it’s our turn to give grace to another.

Who are we if we accept God’s grace but not willing to give it to another who is humbled? I’m not talking about the repeat offender you most protect yourself from who has learned by saying “I’m sorry” that you’ll stay for another day of abuse. I’m talking about the person humbled before you that has messed up and is now repentant.

The reality is they have hurt us. It may be hurt through lies. It may be hurt through a stabbing in the back. It may be hurt through harsh words. With that hurt, comes anger. Anger threatens to choke out grace.

I know in my life, I have someone who has not forgiven me for an offense from over 20 years ago. They are locked up in anger towards me. I get that. I hurt them in a personal way. How I wish they could have freedom through grace though.

I know in my life, I don’t have many but I do have a short list of those I still struggle to give grace. I am a protective person of the people I love and when you hurt them, you anger me. However, I have made some strives in grace through Christ and continue to head that way in Him.

What about you? Is there someone in your life that has angered or hurt you? Have they come to you humbled but you are still struggling to give grace? It’s normal. It’s understandable. However, can I encourage you to lean into the power of the Holy Spirit to afford the same grace given to you to those who are repentant and looking for new life again?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 1:3

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So, I enjoy many of George Takei’s posts on his Facebook page like many people do. Sure, he and I have different views on some things but that doesn’t mean he’s not funny, thought provoking, and interesting. However, there is a new one he put out that many people are sharing around that made me take notice. While it makes his point, I also see some concerns as it is laid out to appear to be an excerpt from a sermon given by a pastor. It seems many are drawn to it because (at face value) it ties into a heart many Christians have that the “church” in the past has overly beaten up on people in the GLBT community and have stayed blind to other sins we have grown comfortable with. This is a real concern but that doesn’t mean this post is without problems. First, let me say that I do believe the church in many areas have treated people in the GLBT community very poorly in the past and in the present. I have a huge heart for those who have been hurt before and the continuing conversation around this emotional and personal topic. This post is not to trash on people in the GLBT community, it is to explore concerns I have in how this one piece chooses to categorize a certain view and a misrepresentation of Scripture to paint a picture more than be a healthy two way dialogue that we need more of. Also, this post is more for those within the church than it is those outside the church. Second, let me share with you what he put out…. 1939444_922950577734396_3202163858725274414_n Third, let me share random thoughts as you consider the post…. (more…)

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I am growing weary. Actually, I think many people are. We are growing weary of loud voices taking extreme positions that drown out any healthy dialogue on important conversations. There are huge issues in our country including racism, homosexuality, religious beliefs, and more that impact real people in very personal ways that are being treated like stones to throw at others with damaging intent.

I can not go on-line without seeing people offended, angry, and militant about issues that could easily be a conversation instead of a shouting match. I watch people who have the same beliefs I do and people with beliefs different than I do treat each other in the most vicious of ways. I see people choosing to be offended instead of responding with a sense of humor or grace at the smallest infractions. I marvel that many ignore starvation, killing, poverty and war to focus crusades against conservatives or liberals.

We could blame the media. They certainly have done their fair share to raise what they think will get people watching more than reporting the news anymore. Many times when you read comments after a “news story” on-line, it is full of people amazed at how sensitive and/ or mean people have become. At the same time, there is still a fair share of commenters that jump on the band wagon and start trashing others.

I believe it is a “rubber band” effect. For a long time, there are many that did not have a voice. Now that they do, (in some areas) it’s yelling instead of conversation. For a long time, others were the only voices. Now that they are not, (in some areas) the talk has become defensive trying to protect their ground.

How I pray for more common sense, common decency, and common respect.

Tolerance is a word thrown around a lot now a days. I don’t see a lot of it in the loud voices on either side. Even some will brag about how tolerant they are while at the same time trashing on conservatives because their views are different than their own.

You do not have to agree with my beliefs for me to be your friend. However, we are losing the art of that.

Since I have been ranting on…. I’ll give you an hypothetical example that will probably get some mad at me.

Let’s say, I went to a caterer wanting them to do an event to celebrate my son’s baptism. I did not know the owner was muslim until he says, “I appreciate you thinking of us but as a muslim, I just don’t feel comfortable. I’m not the best fit.” Once I heard this, I would understand, thank him for his time, and go to another caterer. He didn’t act in a negative way towards me nor did I to him. We left with mutual respect.

It would never cross my mind to sue him, start a campaign against him, trash him on the news and yelp, and the like. I can respect his views and would never think about forcing him to serve my beliefs.

I also would not take the approach that the best way to show my anger that this man would not do business with me because our beliefs were different by championing others to pull their business from him because his belief was different than me. At the core, it’s the same action.

We can have different beliefs. (We can think the other is wrong on an issue without disrespecting one another on it.)

We can have the same tolerance and love for one another as we discuss our differences, experiences, and emotions.

We can not trash on one another and then pretend we are the victim because not one is listening anymore.

Again, random thoughts that have turning in my head for a bit….. Time to let them out.

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