Life Hurts, God Heals – Moving Forward & Mission Focused

There was a battle going on in a foreign country. 2 men were both hit by bullets in a near identical manner. The medics stabilized them and got them to the mobile hospital where they got the bullets out, cleaned the wound, and bandaged them up.

Each day when the doc would make his rounds, one of the soldiers would grit his teeth as the doc would press around his wound looking for infection. As the nurse would be redressing the wound, the soldier would tell the doc he was ready for battle. “Send me back in doc. My men need me” he’d say. “Not yet son. You still need to heal a little more and then you’ll be ready”. Each day he’d question if he was ready.

The other man, he would cringe even as the nurse and doc came into the room. As the doc would press and check the wound, everyone around could tell he was in pain. “Is it infected doc?” He’d ask. “No son. It looks really good. We will have you fixed up in no time.” “It sure does feel infected. Can I get more pain killers?” And the doc would move on.

Finally the day came when the first soldier was released. He had been exercising daily preparing to go back into battle. His pain was there, but he knew lives were being lost in the battle and he wanted to save as many as he could. He would come in regularly to be checked out, heal up some, but then back into the fray he would go.

The other man, on the same day, you’d have thought he had just been shot. He complained of the shooting pain. He had no infection. The stitches had been removed. He had full mobility. The doc knew his body had healed, but his mind hadn’t. He was so focused on his wound and hurting that he didn’t realize he was better. He was so focused on his own hurting that he had forgotten his friends, his brothers and sisters at arms who were out fighting the enemy. He forgot his mission because all he could see was his own pain and hurt. Without him being out in battle, it is possible some lives were lost that could have been saved by his presence.

I could stop here because I’ve made my point I think.

We Get Hurt And Lose Focus

I think we have all been at a point in our lives and the ministries we have that we lose focus on the mission and start looking at ourselves and our hurt. We forget there’s a battle going on and there’s a real enemy fighting against us every single day. We forget that our fearless leader, Jesus, called us into the battle against the enemy. We forget that other people are out there losing the battle to the enemy. And when their time is up that the good Lord gave them, if they’ve not overcome the enemy with the blood of Jesus, they will spend all of eternity in a real place called Hell that was created for those who rebel against God.

Here at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, we have been hurt in the battle. We have gone through deaths of loved ones, pastoral changes, rumors, lies, and now a 2nd leadership change in the last year. This has brought about some sin by gossip, by unrighteous anger, and it has taken our focus off the mission Christ gave us to spread the Gospel of Jesus — and I believe that is a sin also. There’s been consequences of our battle wounds. Attendance is down. Giving is down. I want to encourage you today to take to heart what Paul told the Philippians:

Philippians 3:13-15 – “13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”

We can’t continue looking at our wounds or focusing on how we got hurt in the past. We need to get back into the battle. We can’t keep looking at the past and reminiscing over what Cornerstone was. We need to press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. That is: spiritual resurrection from spiritual death. We need to be telling people about Jesus and pray he moves in them so that they can be brought to Spiritual life from spiritual death.

Spiritually, I think our church has been further hurt by sinful reactions to our pain that was inflicted on us. Primarily, by taking our focus off Jesus and our mission for His calling on our lives.

People have been hurt. Some have left our body of believers. Some of us here in the room are hurt. But we want back in the battle and we are figuring out how to get there. Others,are hurt, but want to focus on our battle wounds. Let me tell you, I believe there is a spiritual realm and we are in a battle every single day and we have to pray to Jesus to get us through it. We have to trust that He will get us through it. Do you trust Him?

Relationships have been hurt. We have some strained relationships now with some folks who have left. We need to heal these hurt relationships and forgive some folks so that we are 100% in battle. So we are 100% right with Jesus.

Right now Cornerstone family, we are in desperate need of healing, restoration and being renewed.

If this has been what you’re hearing from God also in your quiet prayer time, you’ve probably been wondering the same thing as me… How? How do we get this healing and restoration?

Well let me share what I’ve found.

Relationship With God & Our Hearts

We first need healing in our relationship with God. And guys, this is something you need whether you’re a believer or not and something you especially need if you’ve not come to know Christ yet. How do we do this?

It’s not difficult but it does hurt. But only our pride. Are you ready for this?…

We need to bow our heads, and possibly get on our knees with our faces to the floor and confess ashamedly our sins to Jesus. We need to tell him with our own hearts what he already knows. If you have kids, you know this is important. We know what they did sometimes. We just want to know that they know and understand what they did was wrong. Jesus is like a parent. We need to confess. Get all of it off our chests. We need to beg forgiveness for our sins because we acknowledge we don’t deserve it. He will forgive. And man oh man does it feel good to be wrapped in His love when we are seeking him.

We also need to get back to the basics of our Christian walk and read scripture daily if we aren’t already. Read in John to remind yourself of who Jesus is. Read in Hebrews to see how a Christian walk might look. Read Ephesians, read the Corinthian letters. But read every day and let Jesus speak to you through His Word.

We need to spend more time in prayer seeking Jesus will for our lives and for our ministries here at Cornerstone. The more time you spend talking to God, the more attuned you become to listening to what He has to say. The more we listen to Him, the more He can speak healing into our lives.

We need to TRUST that Jesus is enough to get us through this season. We need to TRUST that he’s enough to get us through anything. He has yet to let me down. Has He let you down?

We Need Mending With Other Believers

We need healing with each other and other believers. If we have hurt someone or someone has hurt us, we have got to go do our part to love and forgive them. If we don’t fix our relationship with others, it will strain our relationship with God. Jesus said in Matthew 5:

Matthew 5:23&24 -”23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

By doing this we may mend our relationship with someone. But I know we mend our own hearts doing it. And once we have done our part to ask forgiveness, we turn it over to Jesus. We may be at an angry point where we can’t go to someone to ask forgiveness, but if you know it’s a problem, ask Jesus to soften your heart and provide you with whatever is needed.

Build Up Believers & Ourselves

Last but not least, to work toward the healing process, and get back into the battle, is focusing on what Paul told the Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:29-32 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Let’s stop tearing down each other, other believers, and anyone. Guys, when you tear down other believers, no matter what they’ve done, you’re tearing down the bride of Christ. He LOVES them. We can’t do that. Build up people. Encourage them. Love them.

I think as a church, we need to have focused prayer together. So, let’s start this month  by focusing  our prayer on this Church for healing/mending. This is God’s church. We are seeking His will. Pray for the leadership, pray that they will earnestly seek Gods will each and every decision they make. Pray that they will lead in a way that always honors God. Pray for the congregation of Cornerstone. Pray for a hedge of protection as we heal and prepare for the battle set before us.

Can you imagine if we continuously pray for spiritual healing and strength and wisdom and God gives it to us? I believe He does. I believe he will. If just us few here at Cornerstone are forward focused, and that focus is on Jesus and the mission He gave to us, the devil would be in trouble. We would be and unstoppable force with Jesus leading the way.

Let’s get healed up. Let’s shine up the armor God, pull it on, fasten it up tight through lots of prayer and Bible reading and get into the fray of battle for the lost! Let’s be prepared for the spiritual battle that plagues Glen Rose today. Let us love people the way Jesus does. Let us lead people to Christ, and be conformed in His image.

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Facebook Hiatus

After realizing Facebook had consumed me again, I uninstalled the app and the messenger app last Sunday night (5/18/14) and closed the Facebook tab on my browsers on my computers.

In the last week, I’ve read more, I’ve prayed more, and I have spent more time with family.  I’ve accomplished more without the ever consuming thoughts of “what’s happening on Facebook? I need to check in or I miss something. I need to catch up or it will take hours this evening to catch up.” etc.

When I logged back in, there were 80+ notifications, messages, and new friend requests. I didn’t really bother with much of it. I didn’t want to immediately become immersed again.

Moving forward, I am not sure how much time I can spend on Facebook. I have taken a few breaks here and there, return and promise myself balance only to find myself on Facebook all day long.
I don’t think Facebook is bad by any means. There are tons of opportunities for ministry, learning, and serving others (with kind words, or knowing there’s an issue where you could serve). I just don’t think I personally have the capability of balancing it.

I have already turned off notifications on the app. Next, I will only spend a set time on Facebook per day. I am currently thinking 30 minutes.

I have already found great replacements for the time I spend: Reading the Bible. Reading books I’ve purchased but only read parts of. Spending time with my wife and kids.

Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

I don’t serve money so much anymore, but I did realize that Facebook sometimes feels like a Master to me. It dictates how I spent a large portion of my time each day that I could be dedicating to something else that is more important.

How do you feel Facebook impacts your life?

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My Second Sermon – Ambassadors For Christ

Ambassador

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

My first notes on this sermon was that it was even more difficult to work on than the first. I felt spiritually attacked from the moment I started working on it. I won’t go into a lot of details, but I didn’t get this one completed up until I practiced it once the night before preaching this message. I had been asked 3 weeks prior (maybe longer) and was excited to have so much time. But, I couldn’t concentrate to get it done. Each time I started, I had distractions of some type. I finally recognized, when it was near too late, that almost everything started going wrong when I started trying to work in this sermon.

The more I pray, the more I do my best to understand the Bible, the more I try to live my life the way I believe Jesus taught us to live in obedience, the more I feel attacked. It’s irritating and tends to be hard to recognize. But, I prayed, and thankfully, was finally left alone to do the notes and put this all together.

I haven’t even listened to this myself. And, my memory doesn’t serve me well enough to know what I said, or how meaningful even to me it was. I know the study prior to was meaningful as this is something I’ve studied before.

I am incredibly grateful first to Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am grateful for the leadership team at my Church putting their trust in me to present messages to the congregation. I am grateful for all of my mentors, friends, and family who continually support me as I grow in my faith and allow God to lead me in whatever direction He leads.

I owe a great deal of gratitude especially to my wife, Amber Oliver, for her continued support, even when I’m being a numskull and not being a very good imitator of Christ, or ambassador for Christ. She’s there to encourage me, there to support me, there to help me make the sermon make sense to other people instead of just to me. I love her incredibly. That’s why I gave her a free link to her blog in this post! ;)

This sermon, I didn’t get time to make “fill in the blank” notes or choose an illustrative video. I will try to get notes done while listening to the sermon and following along on my notes sometime soon!

To listen to me talk about being Ambassadors for Christ, click here!

Please feel free to comment below and encourage me or let me know what you think!

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