Facing Conflict 25th Feb
When I became Pastor at Sandringham – it was for life. No ambition or dream – I believed that was where God called me – to a people! Couple of years after the Holy Spirit was poured out and the church exploded – I got very sick and ended up in hospital. While I was away two of the elders rose up and decided they could do without me – they attempted a coup!
But loyal and faithful men came to me and together we confronted the situation. I must admit that at times I didn’t handle it very well – I was confrontational and direct – there was pain – but both of those men remained in the church – and I worked to restore them. The elders around me wanted these men put out of the church – but I believed I had to try and retain them. (Other Pastors – out them)
They stayed and I still have a letter of confession and repentance from one of them – We moved to Liberty and one of those men was brought on pastoral staff and the other brought back into eldership. I really believed it was God’s will and way – I don’t know that this could have happened in many places in the B.O.C.
Please hear me in this – it wasn’t me or to my credit – it was God’s grace!
I really don’t think I could have resisted it – I could say I was almost compelled and to forgive was made easy in the Holy Spirit – in hindsight I think it was very much part of the Move of God we had – grace, forgiveness, seeking His glory. But even in that, it was by His Spirit – because the Holy Spirit delights in the F.O.G. – and this was just revering Him.
The only reason this church exists is because 10 years later the same men slowly working away with the same agendas rose up again. This time though, they were far better equipped and determined and had gathered powerful allies, even denominational allies. What they were unaware of though, was that God was calling me to lay it down and had they waited they would have received
what they lusted for, with blessing – I would simply have handed it all over. But when the years of suppressed hatred and anger – resentment were uncovered – (and even at the time I saw it was God and the Holy Spirit said to me answer not your accusers) – but as it all surfaced and there was such anger and vilification – people shouting hatred etc. families divided – I believe the Holy Spirit really spoke to me
He showed me that if we as a leadership - all of us, even then, had been prepared to go before the congregation and confess openly what we had been doing in secret – if we were prepared to humble ourselves and pray and ask forgiveness and repent – deeply and sincerely we would see God come again with power and signs etc. --- it was a testing of God a chance that was missed.
They rejected that word as being from God – and in spite of a prophesy of judgment as well – they continued on the path they had chosen.
Because of that, many of you reacted and in some pain and confusion and with deep sadness and shock you pulled away from Liberty. Joined together and called Robyn and I to pastor you – although even if God had come down at Liberty on our corporate repentance I still know God was calling us out – (but what a wonderful thing to have left with power flowing).
But you gathered and called us and I prayed and believe I was to accept the call.
Now here we are 2 and a half years on and I have said several times recently that we are at a crucial point in our existence – I believe what we do now in the next few weeks will determine our future --- and our glory! There are some things we need to face and address.
Ps 139:1-12 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
I believe God is absolutely sovereign over all things – I believe there is not one thing hidden from Him ever – not one thought, not one movement not one idle word escapes out of our mouth that we will not be held to account for!! God is immense and it is in Him we live and move and have our being – He fills all of creation – God is! And we are in Him!!
Do you understand that when you decide to do a thing, no matter what that thing may be – God is aware. If you decide today I will not go to church I will do this instead – and you tell yourself it is okay because! – God KNOWS and He will not bend your will – but will let you go on. – To worship Him is not by demand or coercion – it is always by choice and desire.
But God KNOWS the thoughts of our hearts – we can fool ourselves and make things acceptable to ourselves because it is what we want to do – but we must never think God endorses our actions when we really KNOW He doesn’t – in fact I think we live under a Grace that we have failed to really comprehend – if God were to hold us as accountable as He did Ananias and Saphira – we’d be dead.
So in His Sovereignty I believe God directed us here and drew us together – and all the other circumstances that led us were part of that direction – it might have been different with other responses I don’t know – but I know I tried to obey and here we are. But I have to say this --- sadly we are also representative of many Pentecostal and independent churches in NZ – born out of a split!!
Born out of division, disagreement, pride, ambition and things that are not Godly in any way – When we refuse to repent – under any circumstances we prevent God’s grace and sovereignty. – Now I can say I really thought I did things the right way – that I obeyed God and responded and didn’t get bitter and angry. But I must also admit that I was unaware of the depth of ill feeling and as a Pastor
I therefore failed those people who were resentful, obviously held offences and had become bitter – I should have seen it and healed them. For that I am deeply sorry and weep often.
Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
A root of bitterness always defiles many, many people and some never recover!
I do not believe this was ever intended to be the pattern of church growth. But year after year century after century we see this same pattern. Strong wilful men and women demanding their “rights” – demanding that their “opinions” be heard.
Pride and arrogance making a way to believe the devils lies.
Ga 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
If we are crucified with Christ then we are dead with Him and dead men have no rights!!
Last week we had a confrontation of wills – differences of opinions and ideas – all spiritual and justifiable in our own minds – and as I said maybe the primary fault lies with me for not leading as I should.
But in the past we sort of sweep these things under the carpet and they fester and eventually explode again worse and much more destructive and people leave and go off to join with someone else, taking their hurts and unresolved issues with them, to eventually be part of yet another church plant!!
I think we have an opportunity to stop this right here – to actually change!!
1 Co 6:7-8 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
Php 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Php 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Mk 6:45-52 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
Do you know when you enforce your opinion over someone else’s – when you promote yourself you oppose these very instructions of Christ – yet we have hardened our hearts – like the apostles it took the Holy ghost at Pentecost to turn them round – but we have the Spirit of God??
- Will you repent? Will you let conviction come upon your heart right now?
- Your demanding self centred-ness?
- Will you actually esteem others as better than yourself?
- Will you humble yourself before God and each other and live for Christ’s glory?
- Don’t run away looking for a solution – that’s what everyone does – and so the cycle goes on and on – put down roots – just like in a family and become the solution.