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Our Measures Pt. 4

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

Brian Cropp: We’ve been looking at this assignment that God has given us as a congregation that He wants us to do. We’ve called that a God Dream. You won’t find that term in the Bible anywhere, but we’ve defined a God Dream as a vision of the future that first started in the mind of God. Then He has given the doable part of that large vision; He’s given that doable part to us. That’s what this represents over here. This is where we’re headed. This is the road toward the vision of God, that future God has in His mind. Around that is a frame of, sort of a filter, so that we know that we are doing the thing that God wants us to do in the ways that He wants it done. So, we’ve looked at our mission--the “what are we supposed to be doing?” We would say it like this: We are inviting people to discover and experience God’s ways because as we discover and experience God’s ways then the opportunity for transformation in Christ happens as we see a new way of living.

We’ve looked at our values; the core things that throughout what we do as a church are most important for us. Those things we’ve said are to please God fully, to love people wisely, and to steward opportunity faithfully. We’ve looked at our strategy--how we’re going to accomplish that and how that works throughout the different opportunities and events that we have at Hope for that transformation to happen as we’re discovering and experiencing Him. Then, we’ve also been looking at our measures. This determines how we will know we’ve been successful. How will we know that you guys and me and everybody who encounters Hope Church are transforming to be more like Christ and maturing in that? So, we’ve been looking at our measures. Our Senior Pastor, Harold Bullock, I’d like to invite him to the stage now as we continue to look at our measures. You have a listening guide in your program. There’s a pen in the seat pocket in front of you. I encourage you to take notes as this will be helpful for you and an encouragement to you, as well. Thanks again for being a part of us this morning. 

Harold Bullock: Good morning. If you are new here and I haven’t met you, I’d enjoy meeting you after the service. Before we get into the message, I’d like to talk with you just briefly about pastor qualifications. We’ve been doing this on Sundays. My wife and I began the congregation long, long ago in 1978, and this last spring, the Lord seemed to speak and say that this should be the year that I should transition out of the senior pastorate, 2019 through 2020. We have a committee looking for a candidate to be the next senior pastor. I’ve been talking to you about the kinds of things needed in a pastor. Two books in the New Testament talk specifically about pastor qualifications, 1 Timothy, a letter to one of Paul’s proteges, and then Titus, another of his proteges. He wrote qualifications for pastors in both of those, and you can read them if you read the books.

Today, what a pastor should not be… We tend to think of pastors primarily in terms of speaking, but as the Bible looks at them, there’s a whole lot about their life that’s to be true in order to qualify them as a pastor. Today, what he is not to be. 1 Timothy 3:3 says, “Now the overseer must be...not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” Titus, letter to another fellow, reflects many of the same things. He must not be... “He must be… not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” He must not be an excessive drinker. The word, literally in the Greek language that the New Testament is written in says he’s not to hang out over the wine bottle... not to be an excessive drinker.

Not violent… The word literally in the Greek is not a guy that smacks people, punches people, not a striker. He doesn’t hit people. That’s rough on you if you’re a church member. He doesn’t hit people.. Quarrelsome… He’s not quarrelsome; he’s not easily into arguments. Some people are that way. He’s not to be that kind of person and not quick-tempered. Quarrelsome and quick-tempered tend to go together, but he’s not to be someone that’s easily angered. He doesn’t lose it quickly. He’s to be patient and not just fly off the handle. This needs to be a pattern in his life that he’s just not quick-tempered.

Not overbearing… The thought is someone who is absolutely determined to have it his way. He decides on what he’s going to do, and it’s going to be his way. Pastors have to lead. You have to have a sense of direction; you have to have the courage to move forward and to call people to follow, but that’s different from being overbearing. He’s not to be overbearing. Two things about money...not to be a lover of money… Money is necessary for everybody to live, and very often in ministry, it’s an arena where money is scarce. It’s one thing to need money; it’s another thing to love money. The pastor is not to be someone who loves money. If you love money, you’re either stingy or greedy or both. He has a proper sense about money that’s not greedy or stingy. 

Not a pursuer of dishonest or shameful gain… He’s not… If he’s going to make money, it’s going to be in an honorable way. He doesn’t pursue income that’s shameful. This is a summary--not an excessive drinker, not a puncher, not quarrelsome, not quick-tempered, not overbearing, and not a lover of money or pursuer of dishonest gain. There are some things that are to be true of his life, and we’ll take a look at those next week. 

For right now, let’s talk about our measures. We’ve been looking at some of the indicators of maturity, and we look at these things as we try to decide if we’re helping people, and they’re progressing and moving on with the Lord. Christ meets us in situations. In every situation, the Lord is present; He’s there. In that situation, He would like us to make contact with Him and handle things His ways. We talked about that last week. We talked about four things, handling situations His way. Sometimes the situation is work. There’s also a way He likes us to handle work. Now, He meets us amid the opportunity to work, and He has a way He’d like us to handle things.

Spiritual transformation is actually indicated by the way people do their work. There are four things particularly that are important in the way we work. God, Himself, is a worker. He created everything; He governs everything. Jesus makes a statement that He keeps on working; He doesn’t need to sleep. Work is something that in the Scriptures has a high value to it. 

There are four ways that we work that are important. The first one is that as we work, we acknowledge the value of people. There’s a listening guide, by the way, in your handout if you want to use it. I’ve tried to do an extensive handout for you on this. You can check the Scriptures yourself. The value of people, that affects how we treat people. As we work together, we are people who are trying to get something done, and in the process of that, we treat people a certain way. Each one of us, each human being, is valuable in God’s eyes. There are several things that give us value. One is our Manufacturer. It’s one thing to have a purse or an article of clothing; it’s another thing to have a purse...that’s a designer purse or some purse made by a really elite manufacturer. I don’t know that it holds things better, but the name makes a difference. Each human being is valuable because they’ve been made by God. Everyone of us, each one of you has been made by God. 

“Your hands made me and formed me…” There are a number of Scriptures that say this. He made you, and how you’ve been manufactured gives value to you, also. You actually have been made to reflect God’s image. Each human being, there’s something about us that reflects who God is. It used to reflect much better; it’s been marred because of our rebellion. But, we reflect who God is. We share a lot of things in common with the animals. We have bodies; we have to breathe. We have to eat. There are all these things that go along, but there’s something different about us. We’ve been made in His image… Nothing else in all of creation has. So, we’ve been manufactured in a way that gives value. 

Our Owner… Each one of us is owned by God. Ezekiel 18:4: “For every living soul belongs to me (each one of us), the father as well as the son - both alike belong to me…” The Lord is speaking. He’s the One who owns everybody. We don’t like the idea of being owned because we’re rebels, but something’s important if you own it. If somebody who has incredible status owns it; it gets a little more attention from other people. God is the One who owns us. We have respect.

The price paid for us gives value. I was looking at an estimate on a painting the other day. The painting is now… It’s a renaissance painting. The painting is now valued at something like almost a billion dollars. It’s a painting, but if somebody paid a billion dollars for it, I’d be sure to carry it very carefully. Amazing, the price paid. We have been ransomed, the Bible says, not with gold or silver, not even incredible amounts of it, but we’ve been ransomed with the precious blood of Christ. God Himself shed His blood to die for us. That gives value to us. 

Something else, God treats each one of us impartially. We have all kinds of different statuses on the planet and wealth and all kinds of distinctions, but as far as God goes, we all stand on level ground, friend. “Since you call on a Father, “ Peter writes, “who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” What he’s saying is we serve a Father, a Daddy, God Almighty. Daddy loves us, but He’s going to treat everyone impartially. So, take care of business because you don’t get a “buy;” you don’t get an excuse just because you’re Daddy’s kid. He’s going to deal with everyone impartially. Because of that, we respect every person because they are made in God’s image. Even horrible people have a certain level of respect because they’re made in God’s image...not because they’re respectable but because they’ve been made in God’s image. We don’t treat them like animals. 

We respect them because they are as important to God as we are. Job is a book about a guy who is incredibly rich, and he went through some experiences with God where he lost everything. He’s trying to figure out why; the whole book is about the why. At a certain point, he says, “If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me…” They really had a legitimate grievance, and I didn’t do right by them. “...what will I do when God confronts me?... Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” You see, God forms you; God forms me. God forms all of us, and so we don’t get away with doing wrong by people. God is the One who formed us. Peter says, “(We) show...respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” We show respect.

In the church, we as Christ followers, there are several things that are true about us. We’re all bought by the blood of Christ, each one of us, no matter what our backgrounds. We are different; we’re different by sex, by heritage, by status, etc. We have all kinds of differences. I have a certain background, and that background is a part of who I am. It marked me; it doesn’t define me, but it does mark me. It’s a part of who I am. We have different kinds of backgrounds. Some of our backgrounds would look really good on the front page of the news. That’d be nice. Others of our backgrounds would be very interesting on the front page. We just have a lot of different backgrounds. 

We come from all kinds of experiences; we have differences, but we share equally in Christ. Each one of us gets the same share. That gives us life. We’re all of equal importance to God, and each one of us is also equally accountable to God. We need to take care of business, so we’re commanded to accept each other. Just like God accepted us in Christ, we accept each other, and we call each other forward. We all run into problems where we start to drift toward the edges of things, and we need the other brothers and sisters to say to us, “Come on! We just need to move on into God’s things.” We all do this. 

We show approval, though, within God’s limits. We’re in a time in society right now where we’re being pushed to approve all kinds of stuff that God does not. I’ve given you on your handout some Scriptures you can go check yourself. God sets limits on what He approves, and He says woe to people that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter and try to change things. There are people we love who are doing things that God just thoroughly is disgusted by. We still respect the people, but we don’t approve what God disapproves. We show approval within God’s limits.

In Hope, we recognize our distinctives; we’re all different people, different backgrounds, different standings. We respect all of us having different places in life but having equal worth before the Father. As we work together, as we’re trying to work together, we build each other up. We don’t run over each other. We work in a way that helps people. We love people, and we use things. We don’t use people. We don’t mind calling people forward; we don’t mind inviting people into difficult things, but we don’t use people. 

The opposite of the value of people would be things like this. Number one, being manipulative; trying to get people to do stuff they really don’t want to or tricking them into it, pressuring it. We don’t do that; it’s out of bounds. Being partial--We all have people we like better; that’s really okay, but we don’t play favorites. We don’t treat people wrongly for the sake of our favorites. Being haughty--Haughty means that you’re looking down on people. You’ve gotten up high enough to be able to look down on others. Well, in the Kingdom, we all stand on level ground; nobody’s that tall. Nobody’s that high. We don’t do that; that’s out of bounds. 

Arrogant--Sometimes we get ticked or hurt; we get real arrogant, and we act like we’re really deserving. “I deserve more. I deserve better.” In the Kingdom, we all stand on level ground. As we work together, we value people. We work together in a way that strengthens and helps people and doesn’t run over them. So, we value people. God does, so we do. Serving--That’s the second thing. Serving affects how we treat contribution. Contribution--I’m not thinking of money. I’m just thinking of contributing to the efforts. That’s how we treat contribution. At one point, Jesus and His disciples have been walking along, moving along, and they’re at a place where they in a rest. Two of the disciples, there were a couple of sets of brothers. One set of brothers got mama to come in and talk to Jesus about letting her boys be the most important, and Jesus told her, “You don’t know what you’re asking.” The other ten found out about it, and they got mad. They were really mad. I personally think that one of the big reasons is because they hadn’t thought of it first. They were mad. 

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…’” He uses a word here; it’s diakonos. It means… It’s the word we get deacon from; it means a table waiter, a go-for, a runner; someone to run and get stuff for you. Whoever wants to be great must be a table attendant, a runner. “‘...and whoever wants to first must be slave…’” He actually… He uses a word...this is not like somebody employed as a table attendant. This is a word that means somebody owned lock, stock and barrel by someone else. Whoever wants to be first, whoever wants to be lead goose, this person has to be the slave of the congregation. Of course, they wanted to be important because they wanted to exercise authority...have people doing what they wanted. He says nope, not among you guys. “‘...For even the Son of Man (Himself) did not come to be served, but to serve…’” He uses that word again--table attendant, runner, to wait tables. “‘...and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Here’s the King of the universe. What’s He saying? I’m here to help. You guys want to run the show; I’m here to help. If you want to be first, you’re the most helpful of all. Hmm. In being… One of the things that happens for me; I’ve been senior pastor. One of the things that means is that I live with one of the shortest chains, maybe the shortest chain, in the whole congregation. My life and my family’s life have been tied to the welfare of the congregation. This is what it means; you don’t just do whatever you want to.

Let me show you a picture. This is a big banquet...lots of tables, lots of room for table attendants. This is like our work in the Kingdom. There’s all kinds of stuff to do. The question is “Do you help out?” There’s all kinds of stuff to do. Since our Lord Christ came to serve, came to help, then so do we. 1 Peter says, “Each one of you should use whatever gift he has received…” ...the abilities God has given you… “ serve others.” It’s that word; be a table attendant. How serving affects contribution is this: A servant actually helps with the efforts. If you get that down, you help out.

The opposites of serving are first of all, refusing. “Yeah, I know I should, but I’m not going to.” Refusing or bossing--”Oh, I just can’t wait to get in there and tell everybody what to do.” Well, you might actually be put in as the leader, but the goal is not to tell everybody what to do. The goal is to help; it’s to help. You know, if you’re on an airplane, we’re at a time where the cockpit doors stay very firmly locked. In times past, you’d be on a jet flight, and the pilot at a certain point would come back through, chat just briefly with people. That was nice, but if you were on a flight and the attendants were serving things and the pilot came back and put on an apron and started serving things, it would worry you. How does he serve? He serves by being up there. You want him in his place. This does not mean that leadership doesn’t exist, but the motive is not to be a little tin god. The motive is to be a help. There are opposites, but serving for us is very important, and as you grow in the Lord, you learn this more and more and more. And, it becomes a deeper part of you.

Excellence--third thing… How we treat production…excellence… We try to do things excellently. Excellence is not perfect, but it’s extremely good. It’s outstanding given the resources--the time, the personnel, the money, the skills you have, tools, etc. You do a really good job with what you’ve got. Let me show you something excellent. This is a very famous painting--Leonardo DaVinci, The Mona Lisa. This one is valued at somewhere around a billion dollars. All kinds of money has been paid for it in the past. It’s hard to imagine. It’s an excellent painting; this has been written about for centuries, really. It’s an incredible job. Let me show you another excellent piece of artwork. Gina Plays Dolls--That’s Gina in the middle, and you can guess age by the writing; then, there’s a doll. This is excellent, also. This is excellent for like a six year old. It’s not The Mona Lisa, but you know, when a child does a piece of artwork for a parent, it may not look that great. But given their ability and their tools, they try to excellently. That’s excellent for a six year old. If Leonardo DaVinci did that, we’d have questions. Excellence is not perfection; excellence is relative to the tools and abilities available, but we want to do what’s excellent. 

The opposite of excellent is good enough to get by. There are different phrases: “Good enough for government work.” “Good enough for church work.” Problem is it’s not good enough for the Lord. Excellence is not perfect, but it’s really good given the resources available because our God is great. He’s a great God, and He’s been very kind to us. We realize that we actually work for Him. Then, we work wholeheartedly, and we try to do excellent things. Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at with all your heart, as working for the Lord (whatever you do), not for men.” We work for the Lord. If you’re a homemaker or a parent and you’re trying to raise little kids and get stuff done around the home, you do it to the Lord, do it with all your heart. “It’s really hard with the screaming/yelling going…” Well, I understand. I have known something of that in the past. If you’re working on your job, it’s the Lord you’re working for. If we’re doing projects here in church, it’s the Lord we’re working for. Whatever we do we try to do it with all our heart working for Him. 

We produce what’s outstanding. There’s a time in the Old Testament whenever God… The nation has been wiped out. For years people had been out of the country, and finally they were beginning to trickle back and rebuild their nation after 70 years. They were rebuilding their lives; there’s just not a whole lot of stability, and everyones’ up against it financially trying to get their farms going. God sort of got the backseat, the back burner in their lives. In the Book of Malachi, He makes a statement, “‘When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals…’” Well, it’s going to die anyway. “ that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.” He had actually commanded that the animals that were whole and healthy be offered, but it was tough times, so… People were focused on what really mattered in life--getting the crops in, getting stuff ready for the next round. God, well, He’s God; He’s sort of out there somewhere, so this one’s going to die anyway. Take it over to here for a sacrifice. We don’t do just anything; we want to do what’s excellent for Him. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. So, we try to work with excellence here in the congregation.

Let me show you something. This is from 2017, our Deck the Halls. On a Saturday in early December, we’ll get together and decorate the building. We have people who have design ability, a number of people; I don’t. They create and design the theme, then we have people who can lay out the projects. Then, they do that, and we have a lot of people come up during the week and get supplies pulled out from different areas of the building. Then on Saturday, we all get together and create a decorated building. This was 2017; you walked in the main entry, and on the right, what you saw was like Christmas trees, like a little forest. But on the window, were birch trees. Really, really pretty; well done. Someone did that. As you walked in the main entry you saw this. I did the photography by the way; I am not an excellent photographer, but this greeted. It was a really pretty snowflake display. As you walked down the hall, this is one of the nursery windows. I we go dark on the lights, you can see the window better. There are animals, trees, snow scene. We could have just put a candle in it, but this is a little more than that. If you went down into the girls’ area, you saw this. It’s actually a sleigh that someone could sit in and then reindeer fantasy reindeer to pull the sleigh and flocked trees in the background there. We did it for our guests, just to have a time of delight at Christmas; we also did it for the Lord. We have never done perfect, but we’ve done really good. We just wanted to do it for an offering for Him.

One last thing, we’ll hit this one quickly. We want to do...we want to work with excellence. Buying up the opportunities--This has to do with how we treat resources. With production, we work with excellence; with resources, well… Ephesians 5:13 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” Making the most of every opportunity… “...because the days are evil…” It’s difficult times. “...Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” An opportunity is a set of circumstances that make it possible to do something. This says we’re to buy up, in one translation, buy up the opportunities. We’re to fully exploit them.

The opposite of buying up is just to be slack-handed. The opportunity is here; it’s time to get after it instead of dally around and do half-hearted work. We buy it up. God sends opportunities, the thought in the passage is. God sends opportunities, and they only last so long. I like this quote: “Excuses will always be there for you. Opportunity won’t.” When it shows up, you have to deal with it. Or, this one, I really like this one. This one is attributed to Thomas Edison--”Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” When opportunity shows up, very often you’re tired. When opportunity shows up, very often there’s all kinds of stuff that needs to be done, but if you recognize opportunity, you buy it up fully. So, we put in the extra effort and the resources to fully exploit it for the Lord’s benefit. We want to do things in line with His will. 

Here’s a phrase: “We chronos the kairos.” Chronos is a Greek word that means “the tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick time.” Time as it’s passing; time as you might look at a watch. Kairos is also a word for time, but it means “time seen as a season of opportunity.” It’s a special timeframe, so we use the tick, tick, tick, tick, tick when we recognize the timeframe, unique timeframe. We do in time what fits the season of opportunity. When it’s summer, you really don’t want to… First of August, you don’t want to be outside in Fort Worth in a parka. You just don’t. If there’s a nice ice storm in the middle of January, you don’t want to be outside in a pair of shorts and tank top. It just doesn’t fit the season. When the season shows up, you operate in line with it, so when opportunity shows up, we exploit it.

We’re actually not just opportunity driven. We have plans, and we work them. We also have schedules. There’s stuff that just has to be done over and over again, so we do it. When the opportunity shows up, we flex to exploit it. We make sure it’s from God, then we flex. These are some ways that in the Kingdom we work. As you grow in the Kingdom, these become more a part of you. We handle more of life in line with the Lord’s ways, so as we work, we value people. We’re interested in serving; we’re interested in helping, not in running the show. Interested in helping and we do something. Then we produce excellence, not perfection, and maybe somebody could do better, but if we’re going to do it, we’ll do it as good as we can. Then we buy up the opportunity when God gives the opportunity. We just take the extra energy and resources and make it happen. There’s one other measure we’re going to look at next week. As you move along with Christ, more and more and more, the things that are on His heart become a part of your heart.