Month: April 2016

Isn’t It Time We Rebuilt That Bridge?

Bridge ConstructionFew things are as tragic as a broken relationship, whether it’s a divorce, a broken friendship, or a rift between a parent and wayward child (or a child and wayward parent).

In all of my travels, I have never met someone who recently endured a divorce who was happy and celebrating. Rather, the divorce left a wound, or a scar, an emotional injury from which the divorcee has to heal. Many people do heal, and rebuild their lives, but that broken marriage still turned their world upside down.

I’ve seen parents mourn over their children who, once grown, left home in a “blaze of glory,” never to return. I’ve seen longtime friendships broken over a conflict.

Each of these scenarios is a tragedy. It’s traumatic. If you’ve been through it, you know it. God knows it, too. That is why God is such a proponent of forgiveness and reconciliation. God wants to see our broken relationships restored. It’s through that restoration that we can find true healing.

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

The word “trespass” means someone has sinned against you. They have wronged you in a way that caused you harm, either physically, emotionally or financially. Some translate “trespass” as “to miss the mark.” While that was one way the Greeks used the word from which “trespass” was translated, if you look at the context of this passage, you see that we have a pretty big conflict, one that might involve the entire church. Such does not happen because someone “missed the mark,” had an “oopsie,” or made a minor error. Something bad happened as a result of someone’s action, and Jesus is now talking to the victim of that action. The trespass that has occurred could very well break the relationship.

You’ve probably already thought of someone who has trespassed against you. Someone in your past (or possibly present) has hurt you, and it has either ended the relationship, or is going to end the relationship. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus is talking to you.

Jesus said “Go, and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” In other words, confront him. Now, the goal of this confrontation is to restore the relationship (to reconcile,) so the way this confrontation goes down is of the utmost importance.

The point of the confrontation is not to tell the offender how wrong they are, and how awful they are. While it is important to show how the trespass affected you, once the offender shows remorse and repentance, it is time to discuss how the two of you can heal the relationship and move forward.

Jesus said, “If he shall hear thee, thou has regained thy brother.” That is the goal. That is the desire. That is not only pleasing to God, but will bring about peace and healing in your life. Sometimes the offender won’t hear you, and that’s not your fault. If you cannot reconcile, then forgive.

Forgiveness simply means “letting it go.” You will neither demand nor expect restitution or compensation, and you will not seek retribution. You will simply let them go.

God is all about reconciliation and forgiveness. When we sinned against Him, we hurt Him. The crowning point of His creation spit in His face and turned their back on Him. Yet, God took the steps to reconcile man to Himself. It’s why He sent Jesus to the Cross, and why He continues to empower the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.

So, don’t live another day with the wound of a broken relationship. Seek reconciliation if possible. And, if impossible, forgive, then move on. God will then heal you, and take you into the next chapter of your life.

-Posted by Pastor Leland Acker. You can follow him at Facebook.com/LelandAckerMinistries, or on Twitter at Twitter.com/LelandAcker 

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You Are Not Obsolete!

Over the course of my 10-year ministry, the majority of people I have served have been near retirement age. Regardless of age, I find that most people have dreams, desire great things, and want their lives to count for something. However, my observation is that those of retirement age are less likely to act out on those dreams. Some suffer from declining health, and their confidence has been shaken. Some have been told by younger church staff that times have changed, and their wisdom is no longer needed. Others have been flat-out told to stay out of the way.

The result is that we have a generation of seniors who have built the church, but are becoming less involved as they are led to believe they no longer have anything to offer. They are being led to believe that they are obsolete.

You don’t have to be 65 to feel this sense of obsolescence, either. This feeling of obsolescence can engulf a college athlete whose career has ended due to graduation or injury. It can hit the IT professional whose job was just outsourced to India. It can hit the recently-singled mother whose life has just been upended by divorce, and it can hit the pastor whose ministry has just ended due to Spiritual struggles.

The one constant in life is change, and as we hurl faster toward the return of Christ, change will become more drastic, and more frequent. Right now, the American educational system is preparing kids for jobs that, may not exist yet, or that may exist but be phased out in the next few years.

20 years ago, a liberal arts education insured success. 10 years ago, a technological education insured success. 5 years ago, a vocational education insured success. Today, we are trending back toward liberal arts and IT. Today’s kids will have endure far more career changes than we did, not because they lack commitment, but because the economy will change that quickly and that drastically.

Change happens, and change is coming. Sometimes that change happens, and we weren’t ready. We feel left behind, locked out, and obsolete. While this feeling is very real and powerful, it isn’t grounded in the truth. The fact is, if you remain alive on this Earth, you are not obsolete.

Whenever I think about this, I think of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was raised and groomed to serve as a priest in the Temple. That was his dream, his life’s ambition, his mission and his purpose.

Then, it happened. Before Ezekiel had the opportunity to become a priest, Babylonian troops invaded, carrying him and thousands of others into captivity. While he was being transported as a prisoner to Babylon, the invading soldiers advanced toward Jerusalem, which would surely fall after a difficult siege. With the nation being lost, and the Temple most certainly being doomed, Ezekiel would never be given the opportunity to serve as a priest.

What is a man who was trained to be a priest do as a prisoner in a foreign land? The change had come, the change had blindsided him, and he probably didn’t know what to do. What do you do when your career field has just been eliminated? (Not your job, but entire industry?)

In Ezekiel 3:17, God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel.”

Far too often, we get excited about the “watchman” part and start talking about how we need to spread the Gospel. But before we do that, let’s consider the context. Ezekiel had just lost his life’s purpose, and God enters and says “I have made thee a watchman.”

When God told Ezekiel “I have made thee a watchman,” he was telling Ezekiel “I am not through with you.” Indeed, He wasn’t. God went on to use Ezekiel in a mighty way, from prophesying about the fall of Jerusalem, to prophesying about the coming of God’s Kingdom and the restoration of the people. In captivity, Ezekiel was moved beyond the office of an anonymous priest, and elevated to becoming the Spiritual leader of his people. Change had come, change had upended his life, but God was not finished. Ezekiel was used in a mighty way, penned a book of the Bible, and left an eternal legacy. It wasn’t what he planned. It was better.

So, if you feel that life has left you behind, that you’ve become obsolete, look up! God is not done with you yet. If you follow His leading, God will reinvent your life to something better than you imagined, and you will no longer feel left out.

One more thought. Our purposes are often intertwined. Come visit with us. Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 am, Morning Worship at 11 am, and we meet at the Early Chamber of Commerce building, 104 E. Industrial Drive, Early, TX 76802.

 

-Posted by Pastor Leland Acker. You can follow him at Facebook.com/LelandAckerMinistries, or on Twitter @LelandAcker

Motorless Mustangs Are No Fun

1965_Ford_Mustang_Fastback_(15595256971)

In the back of every red-blooded American’s mind is a dream to take a classic car from America’s golden days, restore it, and hit the open road. Very few actually undertake this project, because restoring a classic car to its former glory is an involved process. You have to disassemble the car, all the way to the frame, and rebuild it from the ground up, replacing worn out and broken parts with new parts, and making sure all parts fit properly together.

To me, the most exciting part of restoring a classic would be the finishing paint and chrome. At that point, the final product takes shape, and that newly restored car sits in its full glory in your garage. However, if that car doesn’t run, it’s no fun. Worse, it has little value. So, the true car enthusiast will begin his restoration project by restoring the mechanical components of the car. After all of that is complete, then comes the body and paint.

If the one doing the restoration is successful, he will roll out of his garage in a car that has been restored to its former glory. That awesome moment comes only after the car has been rebuilt from the inside out.

This process is time consuming and intense to perform on a car. It’s even more intense to perform on one’s life. All too often, we get to a point in our lives where we see the need to rebuild, to start over. We look for redemption in our lives, but we don’t think about Spiritual redemption. We merely want to fix our current physical situation, whether we’ve wrecked our careers or marriage, or whether we’ve lost everything to drugs and alcohol.

The fact is, if we only try to fix the problems in our lives, our restoration will be just as shallow as putting a coat of paint on a car with no engine. We have to get to the root of the problem, and that’s our Spirituality.

In Luke 24:13-27, we meet two disciples who were disenchanted after the death of Christ. They had believed that Christ would come in and restore the Kingdom of Israel. However, when Christ died on the cross, and rose again, it appeared that the restoration of the Kingdom would never happen. So, these two disciples, disillusioned and disappointed, left town.

The mistake these two disciples made was desiring a surface-level restoration of the Kingdom while overlooking the deep restoration that would come through redemption and salvation.

However, Christ met these two disciples along the road, and began to preach to them all things concerning Himself in the scriptures. The plan wasn’t thwarted. The plan was carried out beautifully. Christ paid for the sins of man so that man could dwell with Christ eternally in that restored Kingdom. The most important thing Christ had done for them, and us, was paying for their sin, thus giving them eternal life. Once that issue was settled, then the Kingdom on earth could be addressed.

You may be struggling right now. Perhaps your life has fallen apart. Perhaps you’ve seen destruction in your life. Perhaps you’ve lost everything. Or, perhaps your setback is relatively minor. If you simply try to solve your own problem, and restore your own life, any progress you make will be temporary and superficial.

However, if you repent and trust the Lord, He will rebuild you from the inside out. He will turn your sorrow into joy and form you into the person He intended on you being. That restoration runs deep, and is eternal. The question is, will you trust Him?

See you at church Sunday. Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce building, 104 E. Industrial Drive, Early, TX 76802.