Try a little Gentleness

lionandthelamb1296x945ty8

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching on ‘Gentleness’ during our Pathway to Growth series. As I started the message I asked the following:

  • Think about a time when someone was gentle to you when they could have responded differently – how did that feel?

  • Recall a time when God was gentle to you and He could have responded with other than love and grace and mercy? – how did you live differently because of God’s gentleness?

Of all the fruit of the Spirit (or the unpacking and manifestation of love), Gentleness stands out as a key to better relationships, deeper and true worship and a growing heart for God. As time goes on, it is apparent to me that our hearts can become more and more calloused towards others. This impacts our relationships and our connection with God.

  • When was the last time you fought being hard or harsh and went for gentleness?
  • When was the last time you were open, real and raw before God in your prayer, bible reaching and worship?
  • When was the last time you were deeply gentle?  

Gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit is the result as the Holy Spirit filling and impacting you. It is not a ‘fruit of the flesh.’ The flesh is harsh, abrasive, vindictive and calloused. The Holy Spirit invites us to develop His fruits in our lives. Note the invitation to us at the end of this passage:

  • Galatians 5: 22 – 25
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)

What do you hear God saying to you about your flesh and how you should live? 

  •  Proverbs 15:1
    A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV)

A heart that responds to people in a calm and mild way defuses difficult situations, much like a fan keeps a motor from overheating.  Gentleness creates room for wise and thoughtful response to conflict and aggression.

  • James 3:17 & 18

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (NIV)

I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle, If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. – Max Lucado in ‘God Whispers your Name’

Gentleness is a humble and meek attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, and at the same time being free of any desire for revenge. We all need to grow in our demonstration of an attitude and heart of gentleness and meekness. Gentleness is something worth striving for. We think of climbing ladders to success, financial advancement, educational pathways, but how about growing deeper in being gentle and kind? Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, the gentle come out ahead.

We struggle with gentleness if we do not understand what it is.

In our rough and rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness—being soft and virtually spineless. Not so. Gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity. Instead of losing, the gentle gain; instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, they come out ahead.
– Chuck Swindoll

Definition: Gentleness is power under control

The Greek word for gentleness comes from two words—prautēs and epieikēsprautēs means humility, to consider others, meekness. It usually refers to things, objects, or people—words that are gentle, soothing medicine, soothing actions, soothing feelings.

This word might refer to tame animals (lion, horses) or charitable and generous people. prautēs is something you expect from your friends.

epieikēs is a word used to express a balanced, intelligent, decent outlook on life—a good citizen, an admired person, a trusted individual—these all fall under the heading of epieikēs.

Plato called this the cement of society. So the Greeks defined gentleness as power under control, and their word picture was that of a horse that had been tamed. You see, gentleness was to them a powerful animal whose passion and power was fully and completely under control.

A disease out of control can destroy the body and even kill the individual. The same disease under control, however, can produce a vaccine that saves lives. Power under control.

  • The Greatest Example of Gentleness: Christ’s Example: Power under control.

True gentleness and meekness is best seen in Christ. He was submissive, never resisting or disputing the will of God. His absolute trust in the Father enabled Him to show compassion, courage, and self-sacrifice even in the most hostile situation.

The spirit of gentleness and meekness is the Spirit of Christ, who defended the glory of His Father, but gave Himself in sacrifice for others. Leaving us an example to follow,

  • I Peter 2: 21 – 23
    To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (NIV)

 

Jesus did not raise a finger or give a single reply in His own defense, though at any time He could have called legions of angels to His side.

 

Indeed force and harshness may bring short term gains, but ultimately destroy relationships. Gentleness, however earns respect and builds trust. If others know you are gentle, they will be freer to relate to you honestly and openly.  They will feel safe in trusting you…..and the Holy Spirit will be able to empower you all the more and use you in more meaningful ways.

Grateful for you,

Bernie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Time with God and His Word

As we are moving fast into 2017, the resolutions have faded but hopefully the goals we set are still being pursued.

One goal that is key to our growth is a daily time with God and His Word – the Bible. Many of you already use the S.O.A.P. method of journaling that LFC has been doing for years since my good friend Pastor Wayne Cordeiro taught me how to do it some 25 years ago.  If you need help you could check out our guest services room on any given Sunday or contact our church office, it is our joy to assist you.  office@lompocfoursquare.com   If you already journal, than you know the value of doing so. Good for you!  If not, I strongly encourage you to begin right away.

S.O.A.P.  is an easy process to use as a devotional guide which helps you read, understand and apply what God is wanting to say to you, through His Word, the Bible. 

Scripture • Observation • Application • Prayer

S.O.A.P. Life JournalsUsing the Life Journal helps you to capture and catalog the lessons God is teaching you that will help you develop a healthy habit of spending time with the Lord. You can get your own Life Journal at our Guest Services room of use a simple notebook.

How to Use the Life Journal:

Step 1

Find the Scriptures for today in the Bible Reading Plan. (Reading plans are in the journals, and also free in our guest services room or church office. You can also grab them off our website.

You can download or view the  Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here!  

Or visit New Hope’s Bible Gateway page here It will take you right to the reading on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Step 2

Read the passages. Read with an open heart and ask God to speak to you, after all the words and stories you read are inspired by God and have been preserved for us.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (NLT)

God will give you words of encouragement, direction and correction. Underline, highlight words, phrases, or verses that are catching your attention and speaking to you in this season of your life.

Step 3

When God begins to reveal a life lesson to you as you read, begin to journal using S.O.A.P.

  • Write out the verse/s, phrases or words that you want to journal. (Scripture)
  • Write down what you observe  in the Scripture and want to remember. (Observation)
  • Write how you will be different because of what you have just read. This is a key to growth. Often times people read the bible and then check off their to-do list. But to grow deep and strong, take what you read and observed and write out a clear application for how you will live, grow and change. (Application)
  • Write out your prayer asking the Holy Spirit to help you apply what you’ve learned. (Prayer)

Step 4

Give your journal entry a title and write it at the top of the the page.

Step 5

Turn to the Table of Contents (or first pages in a notebook) and record the date, Scripture, title and page number.  This will help you in the future to go back and find the passage, the title and to remember what God showed you the last time you read the same passage but in a different season.

Step 6

Share with others what God is saying to you through His Word. This is a great way to start an organic small group, or to simply journal with your family members or friends. Take time to hear what others wrote down and received from the Lord. If you journal with others and share with them and listen to them, it multiplies your devotions exponentially.

Keep growing,

Bernie

 

Thankful for those who Serve

thank-you-31Gratitude emerges where entitlement ends.

As a leader it is important that I keep praying, thinking, creating and moving our church forward.  Being pastor of a large church with community influence and impact requires forward focus. The problem is: when we are called to move forward it is easy to not stop long enough to personally thank people who give their time and talents as an investment into the life of the church (or any organization for that matter).

Leaders enjoy forward motion and the demands of meeting needs and pressing forward can quickly fog the view of those who are doing so much and contributing.

For me, I could not do what I do without our staff, but beyond our staff, we could not do what we do without a volunteer cleaning team and worship team, and bulletin folders and office help and those who care for the kids and our youth and the list goes on.

If you serve in any way at LFC – Thank You.  And not just a blanket ‘thank you,’ but a specific thank you. For getting to church early, to coming down during the week and doing things behind the scenes, to cleaning, to sitting with others in need, to praying with those who desire a touch of God with skin on it, to some of the most wonderful servants I have ever known anywhere – Thank You.

I apologize for the times that we are looking forward to what is ahead and not stopping long enough to tell you how amazing you are.

Gratitude generates generosity.  While I am at it, how generous are you with your gratitude towards others?

If we don’t say “Thank You”, people will tend to believe that we could have “done it all on our own.”

Well, I know I could not do what I do without you, so Thank You!

Oh and by the way, Thank You!

Bernie

You are Valuable

your-value-two

 

You are valuable: each of you.  You can tell someone that they are valuable and yes, you can even tell yourself.   As we grow forward in 2017,  hear my heart to you: No matter what has set you back, no matter where you have tripped up along the way….you are valuable.

It is easy to get caught in a trap of looking for certain people to affirm us and doing all we can to acquire their attention like a child jumping up and down saying; ‘pick me, pick me.’ With all our efforts to be affirmed by a select few and never receiving that affirmation, we could miss the affirmation and love of those who are giving it to us and ultimately miss out on God’s love.  It is time we rise up with hope realizing our value and stop listening to the voices of our past, of toxic and unsafe people and people who have no clue to the depth of our pain or what we carry.

We have all heard voices of doubt and discouragement and sometimes the voices come from within us. We can tell ourselves that we will never make it, or we go through the motions but deep inside we have a defeated attitude.

Someone once said: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ Well, I would surely like to meet them and tell them they were wrong. Actually sticks and stones are usually a momentary or a seasonal pain, while words can tear down in seconds what God has taken years to build.   You may have heard this (and I love it by they way):

Your value does not decrease just because someone
has an inability to acknowledge your worth.

The words that matter most are God’s words and God says: YOU are valuable.

 Read this out loud:

“God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life …. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began.” (1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT)

Something is as valuable as someone is willing to pay for it. Over the summer I attended the Mecum Car Auction in Monterey, California. It was amazing to watch the lights, hear the auctioneers and watch the prices of cars going up and up and up. My 30 dollar entry fee was all I was spending that day, but the entertainment and the amazing golf course full of cars for the four-day auction was worth the price. Since I like Camaros, I asked one of the car specialists there, what a certain Camaro would sell for. His reply was simply: “Whatever someone is willing to pay for it today.”  The value of something is truly based on what someone is willing to pay for it.

the-american-muscles-dominates-mecum-kissimmee-2016-s-day-8_1

Can you imagine anyone really paying a higher price for anything?  That is what God did with and for you! Ultimately, something’s value is measured by how much another person will give up for it. If that’s the measurement, your value is out of this world. The creator of the universe gave his only Son, Jesus for you! Once you grasp the truth that God sent his Son to die for you, you should never again struggle with self-esteem. God himself has eternally declared your value.

You were worth dying for. You were worth going through all the pain of the cross. You were worth having nails driven into Jesus’ hands.  You are worth investing in. If no one ever tells you how valuable you are – hear me say it.  You are valuable!  You matter to God and to us at Lompoc Foursquare.

It does not matter what you’ve done or how long you have done it. God forgives and extends grace and you can grow and move on. He cares about your future and He goes with you.  God sees you as valuable and desires to be with you:

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

God says your life has value.God has more for you: He is not through with you…..so keep going and don’t give up….you are valuable. Did you hear me?

the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)

God loves you and His love is not depleted it is everlasting and the God who loves you and sees you as valuable is faithful. The death of His son is proof!  His presence with you is proof!

Cheering you on,

Bernie

 

Growth for the New Year

route-to-growth

As I  have been praying and setting my heart for the books of the bible and biblical themes that God would prompt for me to guide our church in for 2017, I strongly felt it would be a season for growth. I know that LFC will grow in numbers, in influence, in ministry and mission. But the growth I believe we must zero in on is YOU!  God never called me to build a big church (though by some standards and measures we are a big church) he called me to build big people and of course the by product of big people is a healthy growing church.

This Sunday we will talk about the key focus to personal growth – focusing on Jesus and how he grew, and what he did to develop personally. I know it is weird to think that God in flesh developed but he did – and modeled for us how we should develop and grow.

Luke 2:52
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (NIV)

We will then launch a series I am calling ‘Pathways to Growth.” We really want to help you grow in 2017.  We want you to find places to serve as well, since serving is a crucial step to personal growth and development. We are not wanting to fill spots we are wanting you to be filled.  Of course there are other pathways to growth, so I hope you will join us.

One essential pathway: daily time with God and the bible. No way around it, to grow you must have a daily intake of the scriptures and time with God in prayer and the big question: “How will I live differently because of what I have just read?” Knowing the scripture is different from living it. Information is one thing, but transformation is the growth and change we are after. God’s word is transforming for sure. It is up to you and me and be good stewards of the words of God in our lives.

Our daily bible reading can be found here and instructions on how to use the S.O.A.P. method of devotions. Invest in your personal and spiritual growth.

http://lompocfoursquare.com/resources/daily-bible-reading

Helping you grow and growing with you,

Bernie

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Thank You

33720479-merry-christmas-and-thank-you-2-dec-2011

 

“Thank you very much!”

unexpressed gratitude feels like ingratitude. – Andy Stanley

Each of us grew up around people who modeled gratitude or the lack thereof. Some people are quick to say, “thank you” while others simply move on not thinking twice about showing gratitude for kindness, generosity, service and so on.

I needed to pause on the day before Christmas Eve and say, “Thank you very much,” to the wonderful people who allow me to do what I do and our church to do what it does. First, my wife, Debbie. What an amazing lady, servant, friend and committed wife, Mom and Grandma. She has and continues to do so much for me and our church, behind the scenes.

“Thank you very much,” to the wonderful people of Lompoc Foursquare Church who pray, serve, and give of their time, talents and finances that allow us to do all the things we do for our church, our community and our world.

“Thank you very much,” to our amazing leaders on our church council. A greater group of leaders you would be hard to find anywhere. “Thank you very much,” to our staff that works diligently and sees our ministry as a calling and not simply a job. “Thank you very much,” to our team leaders, our technical people (who serve and save us thousand of dollars each year) and of course our amazing cleaning and maintenance servants (who also save us thousands each year).  My list goes on and on…but I need to say;

“Thank you very much,’ to our military servants. We are so grateful for our military all over the world and in every branch of service. And what an honor to have many military families right in our church community.

“Thank you very much,” comes easy to many. But have you noticed your reaction when you do something for someone, . . . nothing? Don’t even acknowledge your kindness? It feels so odd. Gratitude carries weight. Watch your reaction when you say thank you to someone and they don’t acknowledge it. Andy Stanley teaches this principle: unexpressed gratitude feels like ingratitude. Even if you are not looking for or needing a ‘thank you,’ when one does not come, something is missing.  Our gratitude multiplies into others’ lives. It changes the culture of any family, organization and church.

 

 

So, as we move into 2017 and hopefully before, take a moment to be thankful. To stop and give thanks to the Lord for all He did for you in 2016, and give thanks to the people in your life, who added value to you, did something for you that did not need to be done, went the extra mile for you or simply remained your friend.

 

Friends…

9329bda1d519055de36c2acbeaef5010

He came to see me…..and he simply vented.  He was frustrated and as you know, not everyone can handle or respond to the frustration in others.

Some people will listen to the ventor and the fired-up and some will even take it a step further and ask, ‘how can I help?’ while others simply push back or move on with things that they need you to do for them rather than taking the posture of a true friend.

You see everyone needs a lightning rod, someone they can have and just be real and raw with, someone they can trust.  Everyone needs a true friend. While I had moments where I wanted to brace myself from some of the things my friends was saying to me and of course to add my advise and input, I just let him go.  I just listened and showed that I cared. Afterwards I thought about the moments we had together (not the first time) and  I thought about the times in my life where I had people who got it – who understood as a busy leader with lots on my plate that I too had moments I just needed to understanding and support.   If you lead others, have demands and expectations placed upon you, then you get it.  What a gift for a person to feel safe enough to share their pain, hurts and frustrations. And what a gift to have a servant-friend listen and care.

If you are a servant, then you realize in moments of life, you have to put down ‘you’ and be willing to pick up ‘them.’ To live for the benefit of another.

Now not everyone can do that, nor do they chose to do that. They may not have the tools to do that or simply do not attempt to expand their tool box. Their plate may be too small, or their heart to self-focused.

Jesus was and still is the greatest servant of all.  In Philippians 2 when Paul describes Jesus being poured out and coming to Earth (Christmas) for us, he took on the role of servant (definition: living for the benefit of another).  So when my friend came to see me, at least this time, that is what I did.  I was living for his benefit and not judging him for his feelings or his intensity.

  • Who is close to you that needs your understanding and compassion?
  • Who do you have relationship with that could benefit from a safe place to share, vent or get grounded out?
  • Who do you have that you can go to and share your heart and feelings, regardless of what they might be?
  • Where can you learn the valuable attribute of growing vulnerability?

I just needed to write this even if the only person who read it was my friend. He would like it.

Grateful for friendships,

Bernie