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Our Measures Pt. 2

Read this message transcript from the "God Dreams" message series

Brian Cropp: As we’ve been looking at a God Dream for Hope Church, this is the assignment that God has for us as a church. We want to look at what that is, so as we’ve defined a God Dream, it is a vision of the future that starts first in the mind of God. Then, He gives the doable part that we can accomplish as a group to us. This picture kind of represents that vision. We’re all on a road, and we’re heading somewhere. That is the doable part of God’s vision for the future, and we’re limited, so He puts it inside of a frame. We’ve looked at our mission, which answers the what question. What are we about? We would say it this way; we are inviting people to discover and experience God’s ways. Then we looked at the opposite side at our values, which answers the why question. Why are we doing what we’re doing? These are things that as we look at all of what we do as a church that are at the core of what we hold as important. Those three things are that we want to please God fully, we want to love people wisely, and we want to steward opportunity faithfully. 

Then we also looked at our strategy, and this answers the how question. How are we going to accomplish this mission? We’ve looked at that; you can check that again out on our different media outlets on how you can take advantage of different opportunities that we have as a church to keep growing, to constantly be discovering and experience God’s ways. Last week, we started on the top part of the frame and our measures. This sort of answers the “How do we know if we’re being successful at accomplishing what God asked us to do?” We started looking at “How do we relate with one another?” I want to invite our senior pastor, Harold Bullock, to the stage as we continue looking at our measures and a new layer of how we can know if we’re being successful at this mission. You have a listening guide in your program; there’s a pen in the pocket in front of you, and we encourage you to follow along and take notes. Thank you for being a part of us today. 

Harold Bullock: Thank you, Brian. One of the big challenges in life is trying to figure out when on earth you’re successful. Figuring out you’re not successful, that’s pretty easy. Figuring out when you’ve succeeded, that’s a little bit tougher. It’s harder for an organization like a church, but there are some indicators in the Scriptures. We’re going to take a look at some of them. Hope Church is basically successful as our members transform spiritually. This is what God calls us to, to spiritual growth/maturity. We’ll take a look at that. Last week I talked to you about a matter, though, one of the indicators. Spiritual transformation is indicated by the way that we relate to people. We talked about this last week, so we’re going to jump into that. 

First though, I’ve been giving you some pastoral qualifications. We’re in a season where during this year we’ll find a new senior pastor. I will be on staff at a lower level, and the new person will lead. As our team, our committee, is in process of looking for us, I’ve been sharing with you some of the things Scripture says about a pastor and some of the qualifications. I wanted to share one with you this morning. Pastoral qualifications--In the Scriptures, they’re actually fairly high. In society, they can be all over the place. In the Bible, they’re actually fairly high. Here’s one: experience and reputation. They are to have a certain level of experience and reputation. Do we have the slides for that? Further slides? 1 Timothy 3:6-7 says that a person is to not be a newcomer, a neophyte, or pride will take them down. The Scripture actually says this person is to have some experience with God over time. If they don’t have adequate know, if you’re a younger leader, you get in position, you make decisions, and they turn out not to be that smart. Then you have to defend them. You get into pride, and boy, you’ve got trouble. 1 Timothy 3:6 out of the Phillips paraphrase: “He must not be a beginner in the faith, for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing Satan’s downfall.” Satan got into pride.

He’s to also have a good reputation among outsiders, or Scripture says Satan will trap him. One of the things we look for in whatever pastor it will be is what people outside think about this person. Again, Scripture says, “He should, in addition to the above qualifications, have a good reputation with the outside world, in case his good name is attacked and he is caught by the devil that way.” Standards are higher; as we go farther, we’ll see even more. 

Here’s another one--a blameless reputation inside the church. The office of a bishop: “...for the office of a bishop a man must be of blameless reputation.” That doesn’t mean he’s never done anything wrong. That’s Jesus Christ. The rest of us work on it; however wrong has been done, it has been rightly taken care of, and there’s peace. This is a little higher up. One of the terms basically means “there are no charges against this person.” It’s not that there’s been an investigation and he’s innocent; it’s that he’s taken care of business so that there’s no charges against him. He’s made things right. There’s no wrong that he’s done that he’s not made right. We’ll look at some more as we move through this process because this is a really important thing for us. We’re going to talk about some things today that it turns out if you have people of high qualification, they’re a lot easier on you. We’ll talk about those in a minute.

Hope is successful...let’s go back to that. Hope is successful when members transform spiritually, and spiritual transformation is indicated by the way that we relate to people. Last week we talked about four ways of relating that have been a part of us over the years. They’re things you can begin to learn early on, and as you grow in these, life does change. I’d like to bring Dr. Nathan Lewis up for a moment. This is Dr. Lewis. He’s Head of Psychology at California Baptist University. He’s been training family therapists, counselors, professionals for 30 years. Nathan has been a friend for a long time. We got to know each other whenever he and his wife moved to Fort Worth in 1981...81...right after Noah let the animals off the ark. Dr. Lewis: Yes, that’s correct. I was three at the time.

He and Tina moved here from California; he was going to work on his doctorate at the seminary here in counseling. We became friends. They were part of church life, and later, returned to California to be a part of one of the church starts there and his job at California Baptist University in the counseling arena, psychology and counseling. We talked about these four things last week, Nathan: Putting the goals and interests of others above our own, living an honest, open life, and giving/receiving correction, and clearing up relationships. You were here this weekend doing the Parenting Through the Stages. I think you got all of us at one point or another, and you made some statements about the Heart Attitudes that you learned a long time ago and what you’ve seen over the years in family therapy and dealing with families. What is the value of these things? In terms of the big picture of life, what’s the value? This is last week’s message that we talked about. Go ahead…

Dr. Lewis: Well, I can talk about this from two perspectives. One is personal, and one is professional. The personal one is...and why it’s more than just academic for me and why it’s more than just technique. One of the things that professional counselors are really concerned about is just give me techniques. I want techniques. The Bible really talks about principles and relational principles and that they are reality. They’re not techniques; they’re a way of life and part of who you are. Because of the difference that it made in my wife and I’s marriage, it’s more than technique and academic. When we left California to come here, we’d been married for about six years, and things were not going well to put it mildly. There was a joke going around California when we left that was really a part of our reality. There’s two ways to get exercise in California--beach volleyball and helping a divorced friend move. That was the culture, and a lot of those were people who claimed to be Christians. We were actually were entertaining that, so we came here really hurting. Because there were all kinds of patterns in our lives--the way that we spoke to each other, particularly having conflict and letting it go...not dealing with it--that was just a poison in our relationship. I had a habit of sarcasm and putting Tina down, getting laughs at her expense and all of that. That just over time began to erode the trust in our marriage. We were introduced and got connected to this church, and we were introduced to the Heart Attitudes and began to implement them. 

Harold Bullock: Let me just say that four of those...the four things we talked about last week are a part of those.

Dr. Lewis: Very much so, and one of those in particular that we began to implement immediately was clearing up relationship, just admitting I did this; that is wrong. Will you forgive me? We had not practiced that for six years, and that by itself began to heal and rebuild the trust in our relationship. I don’t want to be melodramatic or overstate it, but in hindsight, as we have practiced that over the years, that really saved our marriage...that and the other Heart Attitudes. Then, watching it pass on...our daughter was raised in that. She didn’t know anything different than that, and then we’ve experienced the same thing with our grandkids. They just do that; it’s a part of their… They understand and practice the Heart Attitudes. It’s just the way you relate. 

Dr. Lewis: It’s like a...I describe this to the counselors that I’m training that it’s like...we had a pool for 20 years, and then we sold it along with the house because we couldn’t take it with us. But one of the things it turns out you have to do when you own a pool, you have to maintenance it. We lived in this area where the wind picks up all of the leaves in the area and chooses our pool to dump them in. Then you’ve got to clean it, but you also have to put chemicals in it, so you have to keep it clean all the time. The purpose of a pool is to be refreshing; it’s not inviting when it’s got gunk in it and algae and all that. You don’t want to go in; it’s repulsive. You’ve got to keep it clean, and the chemicals help keep the algae out. It’s the right balance that you have to have, and you have to clean the leaves out and all of that. You have to keep doing it. That is how I see the Heart Attitudes. They keep it refreshing and inviting, and it’s almost like taking a relational bath from the dirt that you collect in the way that the world relates. Or, it’s like a healing spa, and that really makes a difference in helping people professionally to begin to turn their relational dynamics around in a way that really builds them up rather than tears them down. Thank you.

Harold Bullock: Thank you very much. These things that we’re talking about are not just churchy things. What we’re talking about is how the Lord said that we should live and what we should grow in. They do work in church life, but they really...they work at home; they work in family. They actually stretch across life. So as you grow in these things, there are just good things that happen over time that you don’t necessarily see immediately. But as you look back like Nathan said, you know, you realize what the pool could have been. If you handle these things, it’s still refreshing. I would encourage you, if you didn’t hear the message last week, go back and get on the website and listen to it because these things really do… They’re not only measures of growth; they really are how life works well.

Spiritual transformation is indicated by how we relate to people but also by how we team together. This is another part of what God intends. Have you ever been on a sports team? If you have, you discover that you can’t do exactly everything you want to because there would be no team. You accept some limits so that there...because of the advantage. The advantage is that you might win; you can at least have fun playing. If you’re going to play baseball, it’s hard to handle all nine positions yourself. So, you play your part, and together you make something happen. You’re on a team at work or you lead a team; in that case the advantage is money. We can accomplish our goals. We have a job; we have income. 

We join teams for advantage, usually advantage for ourselves. God actually intends that we team to do His work, and that tends to be something that just, sort of, is off the Christian radar. He intends that we team to do His work, and the big reason we do it is to please Him. There is advantage in it; you’ll discover some as we move along. There’s advantage, but you do it to please Him. He gives...the Lord gives each Christ follower the responsibility to do the work to build up His church. Ephesians 4:12 says...they’re talking about the leaders…”Their responsibility (the leaders’ responsibility) is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” God’s people do God’s work. In our culture, the thought has become the people who are paid salaries, they do God’s work. The rest of us maybe enjoy it or critique it, but actually, we’re all called to do God’s work. 

God not only gives us responsibility, He actually unites us in a body. You can call that a highly integrated team in a local church. Paul says, “Just as each of us have one body with many members…” Your body is pretty complex; it has all kinds of different functioning parts. “...and these members don’t all have the same function…” You know, you’d hate to walk on your eyeballs, and trying to see with your feet is not smart unless it’s really, really dark. “ in Christ we who are many…” There’s a lot of us, but we all “...form one body.” A body is a highly integrated organism, and “...each member belongs to all the others.” Hmmm, I thought I belonged to myself? Well, yeah, in a sense I do, but in another sense, I belong to Christ. That trumps just me, but He’s the One who puts me in this integrated team. We all impact each other, and we work together.

He’s the One who unites us. Paul writes...the apostle Paul writes to a local church. He says, “You…” Actually in the Greek it’s plural...that the New Testament was originally written in… “...(You guys) are the body of Christ…” This church is the body of Christ. There is the overall body of Christ, but every church is a body of Christ, and “...each one of you is a part of it.” Every one...nobody is left out. He also gives each one of us abilities for us to use for the common good, for the good of the whole group. 1 Corinthians 12:7: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” These are spiritual gifts; He gives me abilities, but He gives me abilities for your good. He gives you abilities, and He give you abilities for my good and the good of the other people around.

God actually intends...this is hard to grasp actually. I mean, you can get the idea, but you think about it. God actually intends to use you personally as a channel through whom He’s going to work and bless people. It’s a privilege He’s given to you, and He’s given you the gifts to do that--the abilities. It comes from Him, and He blesses through you. Sometimes people get preoccupied with their excellent gifts. It could be speaking or singing or administration or whatever, and they get preoccupied with “I have this gift.” That’s good, but you have this gift so that others might be blessed through it. He gives us a part of His work that way. 

He also appoints leaders in the church team. Acts 20:28, the apostle Paul is talking to a big group of pastors. These are pastors, overseers; they are shepherds...all the terms used in the verse, set of verses. He’s addressing them, and he says, “Keep watch over...the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” We don’t know exactly how they were appointed, but whatever process was used for picking out these leaders, the Holy Spirit is the One who’s done it. Whatever the human process was, the Holy Spirit appoints leaders. He prepares the body; He gifts all of us. He unites us together. He gives us work to do, and He appoints leaders in the group. That’s the reality of church life.

So, how does that relate to spiritual transformation? Spiritual transformation, one of our measures that we’re trying to use on the frame up here that understand how we can be successful--Spiritual transformation is indicated by the way we team. It’s indicated as a person, number one, participates in the work of the church. We tend to...I don’t know about you, but in the early days, my thought about attending church was, “Well, what am I going to get?” There was one church where there were a lot of good looking young women. There was another church where they were few and far between. The choice was obvious; I was single and in the market. The choice was obvious. However, God ended up putting me in the other church. It was where my life changed. 

What can I get? That’s not a bad question; it’s not a wrong question. You ought to be receiving something, however, there’s a point where the Lord calls you to more than that. God actually calls you to become not just a getter but a giver. Little kids are really not that interested in giving. Some sweet little ones do, but most kids are interested in what they’re going to get. By the time you become an adult and you become a parent, you need to understand that you’re going to be giving a lot and not getting much. It may be years before they learn to appreciate much. Matter of fact, they may have to be parents first, so as an adult you become a giver. This is true spiritually.

Participate in the work of the ministry. 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one of you should use whatever gift he has received…” You know, God has given you a gift. “ serve others…” And here’s the thing about God working through you. “...faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” There are all kinds of different gifts here in this audience, different abilities that can be used to bless other people. What you want to do, since God is the One who gave you this, you want to be sure that you use it well to bless others because He’s the One who gave it. You want to faithfully use what He’s done. As a person participates, what we say in our training programs is “Do something.” Well, what should I do? Find something interesting to you; there are a lot of different places to serve. Well, I’m not sure what I’m interested in? Well, guess; throw a dart at a job list on the wall. Just do something to get started. You will grow in this. 

Spiritual transformation is indicated as a person supports the work financially. Finances in church life are sort of suspect in the American culture. We always wonder what they’re doing with the money. Well, a lot of times they’re wondering what they’re going to do with it, too. Church life is not easy. We prepare a budget, and we work in line with that. It gets approved by the Board of Directors, and then we work in line with that all year. It requires money to operate church life. It would be wonderful if it operated on air, but the work of God has never operated on just air. Paul says this about the Old Testament time and then the New Testament: “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple…” They get their food out of the jobs they’re doing there. “...and those who serve at the altar (where they sacrificed) share in what is offered on the altar?” Their income basically comes out of what they’re doing. “...In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” Hmmm, that’s a thought. It just takes it. 

People sometimes ask, “Well, how much should I give?” If you’ve never really started giving to the work of God, it can be scary because you know what money can do and you’re not exactly sure what God’s going to do. So, it can be a little scary. This is what Paul writes in the same chapter that we read a another book rather a moment ago; we read 1 Corinthians. This is 2 Corinthians; he’s addressing this issue of giving. He says, “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.” You sow four or five grains of corn; you might get seven or eight ears. You sow a bushel of corn; you get lots of ears of corn, all kinds of grain. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; this is how life works, he says. “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” It’s just like planting wheat, planting corn. 

Then he says, “Each man should give what he’s decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver.” He didn’t say exactly how much; there are some guidelines in Scripture about that. He says the answer to the questions is basically this. How much should you give given who you are, where you’re at right now, what your situation is right now? To what extent do you trust God? I’m not saying to what extent should you trust God. You should always trust God more than you do. I mean just really where you’re at. Talk with Him about this. How much do you wish to prosper? I want to prosper a lot. Well, talk with yourself about this. Then, how much can you give cheerfully? How much will you give cheerfully? If you’re going to give “X” amount and it’s just going to make you grudge all week or worry you to death, back off of “X.” Give what you can give cheerfully. You discover that the work of of the ways that God supports His work is through us, and it’s out of that contribution we begin to experience things with God, and we grow. Support the work financially. We don’t have a bottom line for you, but this becomes a part of who we are.

Then lastly, follow spiritual...this is a difficult one. Follow spiritual leadership within Scriptural limits. There was an old, years ago, a Honda motorcycle advertisement. Follow the leader! A guy on a motorcycle flying through the air. Follow the leader. Kawasaki, their competition, came out with another ad campaign. Don’t follow anyone! --Kawasaki. That sort of resonates. Following is always, again it’s one of those areas that’s questionable. You’re not quite sure about some stuff. This is what Scripture says, Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority…” These are the pastor leaders we talked about that God puts in the church...the elders, overseers. “...They keep watch over you as men who must give an account (to Christ). Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” 

This is one verse on obedience; it uses rather gentle words in it in the Greek language, rather gentle words for following. The word obey in the Greek language that the New Testament was originally written in is the Greek peitho. It means “to be easily persuaded;” don’t be a knothead. It’s okay to ask questions; it’s okay to bring up things, but be easily persuaded. Don’t be the anchor dragger. “If Jesus Himself were here, I wouldn’t do it!” Aaahh? Be easily persuaded; you don’t have to be soft-headed. Be easily persuaded. The Greek word for submit--”obey your leaders and submit to their authority”--is word hupakoe. It means that you yield to their authority. There are points where you can ask questions, and you want information. Then there’s a point where the group needs to move ahead. At that point, you yield right of way. It’s a word that a wrestler would use in tapping out. The other guy’s got the hold on him, and this needs to stop now, so he taps out. It’s a word that means to yield, so be easily persuaded and yield. 

In the way you relate, you want to make their work a joy not a pain. Actually the Greek word where it says, make it so “their work will be a joy, not a burden…” ...the Greek word is a word that’s something like “Aaaaah!” Just frustrated. You want to be a joy. Spiritual leadership is hard on people at whatever level they’re doing it in the congregation, and if you want good leaders, you learn to cooperate rightly with them. The mature cooperate appropriately. 

There’s another verse that contains a much stronger following word. This is 1 Corinthians 16: “...the household of Stephanas...have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.” These are leaders. The Greek word’s a word hupotasso. Hupo is “under;” it’s like hypodermic that goes under the skin, the needle. Hupotasso--under; tasso is a word that means “to arrange.” Arrange yourself under it. It was actually a military term. You arrange yourself under someone’s leadership, like ranks of soldiers before an officer. The way this word’s always written in the Greek language; it’s written in a form that means “you do this to yourself.” They don’t do it to you; you do it to you. So, you choose to voluntarily cooperate. 

Now again, we don’t blindly follow anyone.There are deceptive people; there are people with very bad judgment. We don’t blindly follow anyone, and we don’t follow illegitimate leaders. There’s a case in the letters of John where a guy has risen up, and he’s just being kingpin in the church. John tells the guy, “Don’t follow him. Follow this other fellow.” There are high standards for leaders. Remember, we talked about that? We choose leaders based on high standards, and then we cooperate rightly with them. Maturity, spiritual maturity, does this. It doesn’t follow bad leadership, but it will cooperate rightly with those who are legitimate.

Spiritual transformation--How do we know when we’re successful? One of our measures is how we team together, and these things are parts of the teaming. This is a part of our frame for the mission we’re on. It’s indicated by how we relate to people, how we team together. It’s also indicated by how we approach life and work, and we’re going to take a look next week at some of these. It’s amazing; this set of things actually is promised unusual blessing in the Bible. We’ll take a look at that next week.