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Posts Tagged ‘Restoration’

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  – Galatians 6:1-2

I’ve been through church crisis one too many times. The longtime head pastor of my church that I grew up in passed away due to cancer. Our popular youth pastor was fired abruptly because the new pastor that came in wanted a whole new staff in place. My good friend became an intern for our church (after just becoming a believer) and had an affair with one of the staff members. He took his life soon after. The accountant at my last church embezzled almost half a million dollars. My current pastor had to resign due to extramarital affairs. Yes… the church experiences death, scandals and affairs just like the real world. I must note that in most of these situations, the church handled them very poorly (something I’ve experienced personally as well).

But how are we doing as Christians in handling these situations? Do we deal with those caught in sin in a loving way? Do we restore them gently back to Christ with the truth of the gospel? Do we act Godly when the media tears into us or do we get defensive and attack back? All I know is Satan loves to attack the church when things are going well. All the situations I described above happened when the particular church I was at was at their peak and experiencing tremendous growth. We forget that when we became Christians that Christ warned us that we would face persecution. One of the things I know is that Christians today do not handle persecution well. Look at the Chick-fil-a and Duck Dynasty situations and see how defensive Christians get when our views are spoken against. I’ve been embarrassed how Christians have reacted in the media about gay marriage and other topics that go against our beliefs. Do we not trust that God will ultimately prevail?

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  –  Acts 11:19-21

God works during times of despair. He redeems and restores and takes these situations and uses them for his glory. The church isn’t perfect and it isn’t about one man or a building. It’s a living organic body of messy believers that come to together to grow and worship our Lord. We treat Pastors like rock stars and put them on a pedestal so high they could never meet the expectations we put on them. Pastors are just messy people being used by God. But God isn’t going to let his church fall. He is still faithful even when we are unfaithful.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”  –  Romans 3:3-4

I have been impressed with my current church and how they have handled our current crisis. They are doing it in a loving biblical way. My last two churches were clueless in dealing with people caught in sin and usually let them leave without any restoration. When I heard the news in church, the first thing I did was look at myself. I took this as a warning sign that I myself am a step away from falling into temptation and sin. I am thankful for my community and that I can come to them about anything that I may be struggling with. I am thankful for my church and that God called me to be here during this crisis so I can see firsthand his redeeming power at work. I remember when my last church was going through its scandal, I was quoted in the paper at that time by saying “God is bigger than this”. My viewpoint is still the same – God has got this and He will prevail.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world – John 16:33

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Mark 12:30

In this chapter we focus on God’s amazing and unconditional love for us. But it also asks us to reflect on our earthly father and how that relationship shaped our view of God. For me, my Dad was a provider. He worked long hard hours to make sure we had what we needed. But what he missed out on was being there for us. I learned many lessons of life on my own through trial and error. So for me to fathom knowing God is always there for me when I need Him is hard for me. I have always relied on myself to get things done and for the most part found myself in some jams because of it.

I know I can never fully understand God’s love for us. But I experience it by spending time focusing on how good He is and how He is always there for me. Even through the trials of life, God has been there and has restored me and gotten me through some difficult times. He blesses me and uses me for His purposes. But what always awes me the most is when He chases me when I drift away from Him. God has never given up on me even when I screw up.

God doesn’t have to love us, but He does. And nothing can separate that love He has for us.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

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With summer winding down, I have been praying for direction. School starts up for the boys and I again soon here, but also Fall is bringing some exciting new changes in our lives. I love what God is doing right now in my life and the opportunities ahead. Today I had coffee with one of the leaders from Camber (young adult program) and he approached me about sharing my testimony to the guys one night. After spending a year in counseling learning about myself and all my experiences, I’m ready to start giving back and helping younger guys not make mistakes. It’s been awhile since I have played a mentorship role (other than my kids), but I am thankful to be given the opportunity. God has done some pretty amazing stuff in my life and I want it to be an open book for others to learn from.

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Tonight I returned to my church of 15 years for a worship and praise night. I was blessed by the many friends and family that gave me hugs and loved on me. There was a lot of healing and many tears shed tonight. I was also moved by Suresh Kumar of Harvest India’s message. God is such an amazing God of redemption and restoration.

“In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Thy sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it came about before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. “And I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake,”’” 

   2 Kings 20:1-6

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This link was sent to me this week by someone anonymously. It’s funny because I just read Nehemiah 2:11-18 on how God restored and rebuilt this broken wall of Jerusalem that had laid in ruins. The rebuilding process started because of the determination and faith of a group of people and the grace of God. God makes beautiful things out of the dust.

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Aaron Markus captured this powerful photo of a bride and guests of her wedding praying for another couple’s separation right after her own ceremony. It’s an amazing picture of the power of prayer and true Christian friends who understand God’s design for marriage and His sovereignty in the midst of difficult times.

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