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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

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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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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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There are many positives to being a relational person and being a pastor. You get to partner with many in life with deeper relationships, and see how God moves in other’s lives.

One of the hardest parts though is when people draw close to you when they need help or are going through hard times but then bolt again once the life of this world gets a little easier. It is heartbreaking when people come for an ounce of hope in a dark season but walk away from a eternal spring of power that’s inviting them in Christ. So many people walk right back into lives of struggle, bad decisions, and/or loneliness (even though they found a boyfriend or girlfriend that they think is going to fix everything only to be dumped a few months later).

While the door is always open for them to come back, it still hurts to watch them go through more struggle they could avoid with Christ and Christian community in their life.

The point of this is if it breaks my heart, I am certain that it breaks our Savior’s heart even more. So many in this world come to Him for a quick fix when things are rough and then walk away again instead of following Him. We see it time and time again in Jesus’ life and far too often in our world today. It breaks His heart when we use Him like a parachute instead of falling into His arms as our salvation.

If this is you, know that He too keeps the door open and would love for you to turn around today. He too would like to give you a new life instead of just patching up a hole and walking back out the door. He is a relational God and He wants to have a relationship with you.

If I can help you in any way with that, feel free to touch base.

Pastor Tom Hypes
tom@theshepherdsfellowship.org

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Lead Pastor Tom Hypes’ message will be focusing on Jesus’ best friend here on earth, Peter. He was a man who had a lot of great moments as He followed Jesus but he also has a list of mistakes and failures a mile long. If you are not perfect, none of us are. You are not alone. Peter’s story will be one you can relate to and be encouraged by.

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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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“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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