I LOVE MY CHURCH THEREFORE…

img_0052.jpegThe past few weeks, I have been probed with the question of what to do when someone in your congregation is sinning? What do you tell them and why don’t you cut them off? Just read a FB link that someone sent regarding a “minister” who’s approach is to go into the streets and preach repentance and sin and condemn pastors. After all, they only teach about money when they need something and never tell them about the love of money that is the root of all evil. These are not new questions, but old ones. Satan himself questioned God and thought he had a better way to approach kingdom living. So did Adam, Eve, Cain, and so forth. In every generation there are people who think they know more, there’s a better way, and they conclude that if everyone would just listen and do it according to the Word of God, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. I think we are in this mess simply because of the people who think this way. Better yet, Life is all about the mess, getting in the mess, shoveling the mess out of minds and trying not to get caught up in the mess yourself! Actually, all the mess have some things in common regardless of who it comes out of, the preacher, the priest, or the people:

All mess SMELLS; All mess CYCLES; All mess is REDEEMABLE.  (That will preach at another time)

True Pastoring is not cut and dry…it’s messy. It’s a willingness to get into the mess of a persons life and go not only deep, but long. In my opinion, that’s why so many of them never finish their course and ministry. Not only because of the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental demands but even more the constant judgement and misunderstanding that one receives. The majority of a pastors life involves spending time, praying, crafting, and seeking Gods presence for A Word that will change and transform lives. The moments in prayer are not shallow, wishful request but rather travailing prayers that in some cases feel like those of Christ Himself pleading through you when He found Himself sweating drops of blood so that the will of God may be accomplished. Why do these moments deplete energy? Because we know that only God can change lives, we can’t! Only God can take ink on a paper and translate it into the various languages, demographics, ages, and emotional trauma that people find themselves in. I really wish one day, I could find the time to write to my brothers in the faith that are in the work of the ministry. Only they know the challenges of the spiritual grind that remains a constant whether in the office, on the playground, or in the home in bed alone looking up at the ceiling fan.

Nevertheless, here are the standards. I guess I could go on and explain what the brother of Jesus said: James 2:5-13 (NKJV)

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 

We could reflect on the words of our Master: Matthew 9:12-13

12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

I THINK I WOULD RATHER JUST SHARE THE FOLLOWING. I shared this with our staff this week of our responsibility as ministers of the gospel. There are more verses but these are sufficient.

JAMES 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 
SEEK REPENTANCE NOT MORAL PERFECTION, Challenge and confront people so they can turn away from the very things that will destroy their lives. Compassion, not angry judgment, is the motivation for challenging their behavior.
BE READY: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” (2 Tim. 4:2).  (Question: how long, and wid is great patience and instruction?)
WHEN A PASTOR SHOULD CONFRONT SIN:

 1. UNREPENTANT SIN
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer,” (Matt. 18:15-17)

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 NIV

“Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning,” (1 Tim. 5:20).

2. DIVISIVE BEHAVIOR
“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Titus 3:10 NIV

Nothing welcomes the work of the Holy Spirit into a church more than unity. That’s why it is so important to protect it. Divisiveness occurs when people are more concerned about winning an argument than building a friendship. We. Have a core value here at Crossroads: RELATIONSHIPS RULE

3. HERESY OR FALSE TEACHING

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith.” I Timothy 1:3-4

PROTECT PEOPLE FROM:

  • Destructive Hurt
  • Divisive Hurt
  • Doctrinal Hurt

Our three core values here are the following:

  1. JESUS, NOT US
  2. RELATIONSHIPS RULE
  3. SCRIPTURES ARE SACRED, METHODS ARE NOT.

At Crossroads, we are all about Bringing a REAL GOD to REAL PEOPLE.

IN HIM

the-book-of-ephesians7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him –
(Ephesians 1:6-10 NKJV)

START DOING: according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us

  • Have you ever been asked to go to a store and pick up or pick out an item that someone else has already paid for? Your responsibility is to take the time and go into the store, choose the item (in some cases) or just receive the item that has already been purchased. I have and it’s absolutely a joy when you get to bring it home and begin to use it for your home and family. Natalie and I have had mattresses, cars, school tuition, checks, and countless of other items. There has never been a time when we walked out and said, “Is that all we get?” or we walk away feeling like we just wasted our time. There has always been a sense of gratitude simply because we received what was not expected or even deserved.
  • Same is true here. Paul mentions something similar, “According the RICHES of His grace which HE MADE to ABOUND TOWARD US…” Listen, the word, “redemption” means this: a releasing effected by payment of ransom or liberation procured by the payment of a ransom. Simple terminology is this: We are recipients of treasure that someone else paid for.
  • START REMINDING YOURSELF. He DAILY loads you with benefits; He is not mad at you. Your mad at yourself and trying to muster up points to get God approval. He already has approved you and accepted you even when you and I were far away from Him. He gave us what we didn’t deserve…abundantly, richly, abounding TOWARD US…

STOP DOING:9 having made known to us the mystery of His will,

  • Quit playing games and feeling sorry for yourself by saying that you dont understand or His ways are too difficult or its just too hard to figure out what God wants to do with me…. NO SIR…NO MAM…RE-FRAME…RETHINK…and embrace the precious and abundant beauty He has for you and the things that concern you like your family, your business, your future, your children, your dreams, your spouse, your relationships. Listen, there are times we need to stop trying to figure everything out and put a smile on believing that He has something special for me TODAY! Quit expecting the worse today and begin to expect the best for your life today. The mystery of His will is no longer a mystery…it’s reality! He REALLY DOES LOVE YOU AND CARE FOR YOUR LIFE, HOPES, AND DREAMS.

CONTINUE DOING: in Him…

  • Two of my favorite words in the New Testament are these: “IN HIM”. I remember taking the time one year and getting a red pen and going through the new testament and underlining every time i read the words, in Him, in whom, through Him, etc….you can grab it here: Take the time a download it, get your pen out and receive everything you have in Christ.

PRAYER: Father, you are good, gracious, and abundantly caring for us all. I am overwhelmed this morning of your love and grace. Precious are You towards us all and You make us abound in You. I pray that as we continue to walk with You, Your realities will become embedded in our hearts and minds. That we would so embrace your goodness towards us that all things unholy, unrighteous, and flat out lies would bow down to the realities we have In You. Touch our minds today so we can believe Your goodness. Amen.

HE MADE US

eph_1Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
We learned early in bible school to do everything with excellence. Even before that, my dad taught me to take pride in whatever I made. Whether a school project, the way I play a position in whatever sport, finances, etc…What you present before others is a reflection on you as a person so take pride in it. It speaks of the type of character and person you are. Dad, is what I call a plodder. One step at a time, inch by inch he will endure to the end and what he presents will be full of pride and value. We have a 1967 GTO that he purchased brand new off the lot in December of 1966. Why? He took the time to patiently wait until he was in a financial position to purchase a car he always wanted even though it took months to prepare for it. He did the same with his lot to build his house. The same with the furniture a year before building the house and then the house itself which by the way only costs 17,000 brand new! WOW, thats a while back! All i am saying is that what he made, bought, and has is something that is carefully thought through and meticulous in its choosing.
The same is true when it comes to our Heavenly Father. He has a well thought out plan for you and I. He had a holy huddle in heaven and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit got together to ensure that what He presented was full-proof and His handprint would be all over it! Guess what? You and I are the result of that meeting in the heavens.
he hath made us accepted in the beloved…. We are not a mistake! We were made for such a time as this so get up, rise up, shape up and move forward in your calling that He has prepared before the foundation of the world. 
I AM ALL HE SAYS I AM….period!

WHO ARE YOU?

the-book-of-ephesiansEPHESIANS 1-2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

START DOING: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
  • There are times when i hear my name that I quickly forget who I am and whose I am. I am thankful for my upbringing and how God has blessed me with some tremendous parents. But so often, that identity alone is attached to the pain of the past and wounds in the soul that are a result of frail human effort. When Paul addresses this church, he knows and understands the weight of authority in his life and he approaches this moment to speak into their life by the authority and call that God has upon his life. Before he was birthed in the womb of man he was birthed in the heart of the living God as a gifted apostle and preacher of the gospel. And this not by a mans will, nor of any educational effort. The hand of God Almighty was placed upon him and he honored this above all else.
  • Let me begin my day by saying to myself, Marcus, a pastor of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Seguin, and faithful in Jesus Christ. Wow, this feels right and so registers in the deepest part of my soul, Try it,
  • Who are you? What has God called you to do? DO NOT say I don’t know or I’m not called. YOU ARE. Just man up and take the time and hear Him speak. He will so clarify this in your life simply because when you see hear and respond to His calling, you will find a rest in your soul that is indescribable.
STOP DOING: To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
  • Question: When you approach a follower of Christ, does your mind ever wander and you see the individual through your lens of measure rather than Gods? I happen to believe that God sees us first through the blood of the Lamb as faithful rather than unfaithful. He sees our potential rather than our shortcomings. He believes that redemption was enough to change us, empower us, and make us faithful to His calling in life. After all, it’s by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves unless we should be proud and boast.
  • STOP seeing the worse in people and believe and see the very best. People will rise up to the potential that you see them and treat them.
CONTINUE DOING: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • I run to this as often as I can. When in trouble and in turmoil, the effort of self is a revolving effort to nowhere! Peace in my soul and grace to accomplish the task before comes thought Christ alone. I’ve been around the mountain of self-effort so often that I almost immediately recognize it throughout the day. The natural man is full of pride but in Christ, we are born not by the will of man but by the will of God and our nature has been changed, transformed, and raised up to be seated in heavenly  places in Christ Jesus. The same grace that was in Peter, the apostle Paul, and Jesus Himself has been given us. Peace is not the absence of turmoil as we often hear. Peace is being in the midst of it and still maintaining the focus and determination to make life count for eternal purposes. Nothing can move you when this truth is settled within.
  • Continue to pursue peace throughout your day. It’s sources resets within you NOW.
PRAYER: Father, may today be a day in which You are exalted in the most honorable way. May people hear and experience Your loving Hand upon them as they attend a place of worship. At Crossroads Church in Seguin, may You be welcomed and felt in a loving way and let not one person leave that place without looking up to give You thanks. We love and honor you today Master. Holy Spirit, lead and guide us throughout the day.