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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

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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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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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Are you going through a tough time right now? Does it seem while others have been celebrating a new start in a new year, you carry the same weight as you did last week?

Our troubles have all different details to them but in many cases, they have similar underlining themes – loneliness, finances, rejection, and at times … others are choosing to cause us hurt and harm.

David found himself in this kind of situation in I Samuel 23. In a season where the king, Saul was jealous and threatened; David found himself on the run for his life. Even though he was anointed by God to be the replacement of Saul someday, he did not want to do so by his own hand so he hid during this season of oppression and hurt.

While he was hiding, those around him saw an opportunity to put themselves in good graces with the boss by stabbing David in the back (Ever happen in your office?). They went to the King and offered to bring David to him.

During this time, David wrote a Maskil. We call it Psalm 54 in the Bible.

This is how it goes…

“O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen against me;ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.


With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; 
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”

There our several things I love about David’s worship.

– He has no problem being honest about his hurt, pain, and struggles before God.

– He claims truths about God and states them. When he does, we see his focus moves from the circumstances to God.

– Then he busts into praise through faith knowing that God has the victory (We can have the same in our own prayer/ worship times).

At the same time, this specific psalm has some key points that you might want to reflect on if you are going through some struggles and want to have the same deliverance and peace that David had.

This psalm assumes you are a follower of Christ. While this phrasing is a “church age” one since Jesus had not come yet in David’s time, it is evident that David was a follower of God. So much so that even though he too was a screw up at times, even God called him “one after my own heart”

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? The One who is the way to God? The One who offers grace, love, and purpose? If not, you can become so today by acknowledging Jesus as leader in your life, believing in your heart that he forgives you through his death and resurrection, and then following him. For more on that, please touch base with me at tom@theshepherdsfellowship.org

This psalm assumes the struggle you are going through is the fault of others who have evil intent. Our struggles are not always the fault of others. It can be our own bad choices. It can be a season God is leading us through to grow or discipline us through. Spend some time examining the cause so you know how to pray and act through them.

This psalm assumes you are leaning into the Lord for the solution. You can’t say a quick prayer and then go out swinging trying to get your way. Sometimes we need to give up our desire to get our way and submit before God and go His path.

This psalm assumes you are holding on to God’s promises. David was able to submit by holding onto the facts that God will end this issue, that God will deliver him from trouble, and that God will triumph. Are you holding onto these truths and following His lead to the fulfillment of them?

This psalm reminds us that the final outcome is not about us getting our way but to bring glory to and worship to God. The psalm ends with worship to what God has done and so will your story if you lean into Him today.

It may be a path but it is not a wall. You’re story continues today! What will the story look like tomorrow?

If we can help you in any way, please touch base with me or stop by and visit us at church. Blessings!

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

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You’ve probaly heard it a million times…. “God loves you.”

You’ve probaly seen it at a football game or learned it as a kid… John 3:16

You can believe it to be true and still have feel you lost the awe, the wonder, and the passion of that love… that truth… and how it changes everything… or should…

Join us as we take a deep look at John 3:16 and the surronding verses from a fresh perspective! No cliches. No broad brush strokes. Just the truth and heart of a God who loves you so very much… no matter what.

As part of our study, we will be hosting a dear friend who will share about what God’s love means to him. He is leaning into a new life foundation while moving out from a struggle with drug addiction. Drug addiction and substance abuse is becoming a big problem in the states, if you are addicted or know someone who needs help, please visit this article about how to help someone suffering from substance abuse on Fist Step.

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As we wrap up the “Mountains” series, we come to talk about the key that moves us from fear of the struggles in this life to enjoying the freedom of Christ!
Each step of the way, we explored the Bible for key points and advice of how to move forward into freedom. However, for many of us, we continue to struggle in the same cycles as before. This is because there is one core truth that opens the door to moving forward that mere “best efforts” for change fall short.
Join us this week as we explore that truth that makes all the difference.

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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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