Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ordination Sermon - The Fuel to Pastoral Courage - 2 Timothy 1:7 - Part Four (last)

II. Rely on what the Spirit Gives -- The Spirit and His Gifts Bring

Power, Love and a Sound Mind

A. The Spirit Gives Ability – Power

B. The Spirit Gives Love

The Spirit of love has given you love.

Galatians 5:16 “...walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 22 [for] the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control...”

1 Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in... love...”

2 Cor 5: 14 “The love of Christ controls us...”

Power without love is dictatorship.

Jesus said, John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What is true for every Christian is true in particular for those called to lead the Christians in a local church. In his book on Leading with Love, author and pastor Alex Strauch writes of an elder he met who in the many years at one local church had been “physically choked, punched, had his jaw broken, been spit on, cursed at, falsely accused and threatened with a lawsuit.” (p. 31).

I do not expect such to happen to you at Grace Fellowship Church! But what if it did? Would you grow disillusioned with God, bitter in spirit and abandon the hard work of the ministry for some soft and comfortable little gathering of people who think just like you?

Love, in its Christian definition, does not mean soft clouds and easy sailing. To love a sinning Christian can be one of the most frightening tasks in the world.

· Are you prepared to call back the wayward husband?

· Rebuke the arrogant false teacher?

· Plead with the wandering teen?

· Have your motives questioned?

· Be represented unfairly?

· Know things about people that you can never tell anyone else except the Lord in prayer?

1 Corinthians 13: 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Praise God He has not given you a spirit of cowardice – but of POWER, and of LOVE.

C. The Spirit Gives Self-control

The third quality Paul highlights to timid Timothy is self-control. The Holy Spirit and His gifts are marked by self-control... or more specifically, a SOUND MIND.

There are times in the life of any church when “all hell breaks loose.” Satan and his minions attack and whether for chastening or humbling or refining, God permits troubles to settle in on a local assembly. “The gates of hell will not prevail...” but they will do their worst.

A young man told me of his military training. The trainers waited until the young recruits were sound asleep, then rolled a type of exploding sound bomb into their bunk and started shooting their weapons over their heads. This was to train them to respond in a level-headed and sober-minded manner! I think they got better at that on the third night! No one knows for certain when trials will hit a church – they will often come as suddenly and shockingly as an exploding stun grenade.

I met a pastor recently who in the span of one week found out that his assistant was going to die, his wife had cancer and a large doctrinal controversy was invading his church. Two weeks before, all was calm and pleasant. Now it was all bombs and shells and rockets.

Sheep are easily frightened... and there is nothing worse than a shepherd who flees when the enemy approaches.

· You must be a David that grabs that lion by the beard and fights him barehanded for the sheep.

· A shepherd who chases down the bear before striking him and killing him with a smooth stone.

· The one who looks back at the trembling congregation and then into the face of the cursing giant, and says,

1 Samuel 17: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

The Bible says that every day Goliath came out and cursed the Israelites, and every day they would flee from him. Panic. Fear. Confusion. COWARDICE!

Until along came this ruddy boy who kept his wits about him – preached the Truth of God to his own heart – then acted like it was true.

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

Such the Lord calls you to, Julian. Calculated risk and leadership in midst of panic...

You were not given a spirit of cowardice, but one of POWER and LOVE and SOUND MIND.


Consider your blessings – count them.

· Saved from sin.

· A godly heritage.

· A Christian wife.

· Beautiful children.

· A church that loves you and affirms your gifting.

· And to all this, the Holy Spirit has gifted you – to make you a gift to this assembly. And they all join with me in saying, “Fan it into flame!”

Do not waste this precious gift. Lean on the bellows cramp. Pour on the fuel. Poke, prod and push that fire until it blazes! So that your life is marked with POWER, LOVE and A SOUND MIND.

Fan it into flame. Let it burn and consume you so that men see Jesus, not Julian.

Die to self and let the firestorm of His presence work through you to bring LIGHT and HEAT to this church and this world!

· Flee youthful lusts, and man-up to the ministry to which He has called you.

· Love your wife like Christ loved His church.

· Train your children the way God trains His children.

· Preach as if you handled the oracles of God.

· Serve with the humility with which Christ came to earth and died.

· Labour more than all the rest, but not you, Christ in you.

· Flee fear and walk in power, love and a sound mind from the Holy Spirit....

Then lie down and die – and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

His Image, Our Value

Not long after my son was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome and we began to wrestle through all of his disabilities, we found ourselves at a social gathering for families with special needs kids. There was much good in this gathering, but I left deeply troubled. In every conversation I kept hearing some form of one of the worst of the Devil’s lies. That lie suggests that worth is determined by contribution. Therefore, in order to justify a person’s existence, you must be able to demonstrate some way in which they contribute to society.

Looking for ways that people with special needs contribute to the world can be a fine exercise, but when it becomes the justification for their existence, we have bought the utilitarian tale. The Truth, according to God, is that people are valuable for the simple fact that they are made in His image. Value is all in relation to Him, not my supposed contribution.

This is gloriously freeing! I do not have to justify the existence of my disabled son (or my “abled” daughters and wife or even me!) to anyone – our value, your value is that you were made in God’s image.

So, I was glad to read this little paragraph today in Stephanie Hubach’s book. Same Lake, Different Boat:

Consider it this way: the image of God within each indi­vidual can be likened to a mirror that reflects God’s glory, in part, to others. Unmarred at creation, what an incredible and awesome reflection that must have been! In a world now impacted by the fall, each person’s mirror is cracked, yet all the pieces still remain. Consequently, the looking glass reflects a distorted view of God’s glory—but it remains a partial mirror of him just the same. Our struggle enters in because we find it so much easier to identify the cracks in the mirror, and so we miss the image entirely. It takes a conscious effort for us to concentrate on the most fundamental blessing of creation—that we are all created in the image of God—and to gaze speechlessly at his goodness, truth, and beauty in oth­ers. Yet lives are radically transformed—ours and those around us—when we intentionally choose to focus on the image of God within.