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My wife sent me a video today that is moving around the internet. In watching it, it was a touching moment from a couple days ago where a little boy asks the pope if his father is in heaven. His father was an atheist but had all four of his kids baptized into the catholic faith.
I have had similar questions posed to me. I find and give comfort in the fact that while someone spent their life rejecting Christ’s gift of salvation and purpose, that we simply do not know if they come to Him before their passing. Like one of the other men on the crosses, I do know that any who cry out to Jesus, even in their final moments find eternity with Him.

However, this is not the answer the pope gave. The short answer was that even if the father never had the “gift of faith”, he did have his son’s baptized which means he was a good dad. He said only God knows who goes to heaven so if this man with a dad’s heart came face to face with God who has a dad’s heart, do you think that God would not let him come into heaven. The crowd yelled “no” and the pope said “Well, there’s your answer.”

My first response was to fact check the video. Here the pope is not speaking in English so I figured someone had added subtitles to make him say something he was not saying. I was saddened to find that this is not the case.

What the pope taught here is simply wrong and dangerous. Why? Because it is contradicts the Bible and if people believe it, they could completely miss heaven and a relationship with Jesus thinking that they are good and that’s what it takes.

Look at what the Bible says…..

“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10: 17-18

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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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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….
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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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Have you ever found a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest and tried to nurse it to a healthy life? It’s possible but not easy.

Once the baby bird has lost it’s way, often times the mother bird abandons it to the elements, leaves it unprotected from predators, and suffers it to starve for provision.

It reminds me of a proverb in the Bible. Proverbs is a collection of sayings from King Solomon who had asked God for wisdom which is displayed in these eternal truths.

As I skimmed through Proverbs 27, I came across verse 8 that says….

“Like a bird that strays from it’s nest is a man who strays from his home.”

Often times, people find themselves feeling like they have fallen out of the nest. They are lost, exposed, and hurting with similar feelings to the baby bird fallen to the ground.

As I did a quick study of some of the reasons birds stray from their nest, it struck me that it’s similar of how people stray from home (a life with Christ).

Weather – Storms and unexpected wind currents often times will knock a young bird right out of it’s home in the same way the storms of this life can do to us. A move, job loss, family member passing, addiction and other challenges leave us feeling lost and beaten.

Inexperience – Juvenile birds making their first migration without the lead of a mature bird often times undershoot or overshoot their destinations. Sometimes, we too head boldly on a path without instruction, mentorship, or God’s map to find where He was leading us all along.

Wanderers – Some types of birds have been known to simply be wanderers and undertake destinations that are not within their normal environments. In the same way, we sometimes look for places that are not ours but it just seems the “grass is greener on the other side”. These situations can show up as marital affairs, shortcuts that lead to failure in the work place, or going against God’s ways to obtain something we want in the moment.

Whatever the reason, falling out of the “nest” leaves us feeling just as hungry, lonely, and abandoned as the infant robin alone on the ground. However, the good news is God does not abandon us there like a mama bird does to her young. He is just a whisper away willing to offer you forgiveness, direction and provision when you lean back into Him to find mercy and grace abounds!

In Matthew 23: 37, Jesus refers to himself as a mother hen who longs to gather her chicks (you and me) under her wings (for protection, love, and care) but that often times, we are unwilling.

Will you choose to not “stray” but “stay” with the Lord? Trust me, it’s much better in the nest.

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

(If you have a topic you would like Pastor Tom to blog about, feel free to drop all ideas to tom@theshepherdsfellowship.org)

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Words

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
Proverbs 15: 1-2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Proverbs 15:7

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lordbut gracious words are pure.” Proverbs 15: 26

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Provers 15: 28

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15: 33

A small sampling from Proverbs 15 reminds us how powerful words are. We may still remember the chant “stick and stones may break my bones” but we know words have more power than we wish they held. We are losing the art of gentle words in our culture and at times, even in the life of Christians and the church.

If you find you are having a problem with your words, may I suggest a few things…

Understand it’s a heart issue

Sometimes we try to justify ourselves by saying “That’s just who I am” or “I’m just like my mom (or dad)” and continue on. While we can have in our personalty certain tendencies that lead us to be critical or negative, it doesn’t mean it’s ok. Your words still alienate, separate, and crush others at times. If we roll with our earthly tendencies and don’t work them into submission to God’s ways, we continue a cycle that impacts others and ourselves.

Understand you are hurting others

You might think you are direct and others should appreciate it but I can’t tell you how many people come to me for life counseling because the anger, hurt, or weight they are feeling because of someone in their life dumping on them in unloving ways (again, often times Christians).

If you find that you enjoy the emotional release of unloading on others, there’s a good chance you are hurting them.

If you find that you enjoy talking about frustrations and grips with others to people other than the ones you struggle with, there’s a good chance you are hurting the person outside the loop and the one within it.

If you find that you need to tear others down to build yourself up, your just hurting everyone including how others see you.

Understand things can turn around

You have the chance to earn others seeing you different. You may not be aware but you may have some nicknames you would rather not know about. However, by following the proverbs above, you can be know as an “encourager”!

Some of the words above can be foreign to us in our speech … soft, gentle, and pure. However, through discipline, taking a breath and speaking with the Spirit’s lead; you too can be righteous and ponder what words (and heart) to embrace. It just starts with humbling yourself, leaning into the ways of God and letting Him raise you up.

Words lead to broken marriages. Words lead to split churches. Words lead to failed friendships. Words lead to insecurity and loss.

Words lead to freedom. Words brings unity. Words heal old wounds. Words have power.

Use yours in the light of the Christ to honor Him and love others.

If we can help you with this in any way, please let us know.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

 

 

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