September 18, 2022 – Sermon Transcript

Vision: an Emotionally and Spiritually Mature Community - 1 John 1:7 - Sep. 18, 2022

Pastor Mike (00:00):

This is a place where we’re gonna appreciate people. We’re gonna value people. This is gonna be a place where you’re gonna find real companionship, real friendship support, a place to be heard and seen, and also where we actually want to know you.

Hannah Hunter (00:16):

Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sunday with the gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. This week. Pastor Mike brings us a message on the vision for an emotionally and spiritually mature community. One where we walk in light and create a space for people are respected, valued, supported, and known.

Pastor Mike (00:38):

It’s so nice to see everyone in church today and to, and to be with you. And, um, I don’t know, my heart has just been this lately. Just been overwhelming with just a lot of gratitude. I can just see God’s blessings in so many different ways. And, um, in fact, you know, even here at the gathering place, I mean, we’re, I mean, we’re a new church start a church that has just literally decided to be in existent less than a year ago, where we got the name, the gathering place. And yet in that this short period, God has been doing so much and bringing people from many different places to come together. And, and so sometimes just to start this message, you know, I, I think about like the, the theater, I’m a, I’m a theater guy. I love like theaters. I love, I love movies.

Pastor Mike (01:24):

Um, but you know what I really love about all the movies and the theaters and stuff is that all the work that goes on behind the scenes, you know, we, we forget about that. And, and we, we see it more in the classical theater, like whether it’s in ballet or opera or whatever, at the end of the theater, all of a sudden everyone that has been involved kind of comes up and then the whole audience actually just shows that appreciation. Now, the closest thing that we do that in modern theater would, or the cinema I think would be like in Marvel because in Marvel movies, you know, you have those, those little scenes that are at the, at the end of the credits and stuff that makes you watch the credits to see what’s happening next. And, and at first, you know, I was like, why do they do that?

Pastor Mike (02:01):

But now I’ve been conditioned to start actually like reading the names and looking, I’m like, dang, there’s a lot of people involved in making this movie in all the different places. Well, I think that’s the same with church. And so before we go any further, I just, um, wanna say thank you to the many people that, that make the gathering place, what it is. I mean, first, like, you know, on Sunday, I mean, there are so many people that come and work behind the scenes to set everything up, to turn over this place so that it is the gathering place, our hospitality team, our, our greeters, um, our children’s workers who are doing their things, our, our tech team, our, our worship team, um, you know, people that, that do things and start preparing things even before, um, you know, getting just all the little printouts and, and sign up sheets, um, beyond Sunday.

Pastor Mike (02:50):

Um, I just wanna thank God for our leadership in this church, because like our leadership has made some like hard decisions say, you know what, there is some real needs in this community. And, and people are looking for just a place where to belong and where they can be loved and they can counter the love of Jesus. And, and our leadership has made like some hard decisions, say, you know what, we’re gonna do something different. And, and so like, we have these amazing teams. I mean, we have these, the, we have our lead team, we have our operations team. Um, we have our grow team, we have our outreach team, our reach team, and then we have all these like life group leaders. And then also for you to come, you know, the church with us to be with us this morning. I mean, there, there are amazing churches in Palm beach gardens.

Pastor Mike (03:39):

Okay. And, and you could worship anywhere, but yeah, you chose to, to be with us. And then those who are listening, I just wanna say, thank you because there’s a lot better podcast out there than what, than what I am offer, but still, you know, God works in that. And, and I’m just so grateful. So, so I believe that what God is doing here though, is something special that will touch on, on something that a lot of people desire, but also bring value and meaning to their life. So today’s talk is, is a part of several talks and, and a message series that is here to give us a vision of like, what is this place what’s happening behind the scenes when we actually choose to live out our mission, which our mission is to extend God’s redeeming love. And so what happens when, when we do this.

Pastor Mike (04:34):

So part of my desire in this, in these several talks that we’re doing is that you’ll get a sense of what the soul or the heartbeat of this congregation is. You know, you might be asking yourself, what kind of church is this, or what kind of people belong here? And like, is there a place for me? And then the big question that a lot of us ask, or we should be asking when we visit any faith community, and we’re saying, Hey, I want to be a part of this and connect and say, Hey, this is, this is my home is what kind of person will I become if I, you know, make this my home. So R why the, why that we do things. We talked a little bit about last week, but it’s the foundation. And that is who is God, last week we looked at the parable of the Soer.

Pastor Mike (05:30):

And if you didn’t get a chance, go ahead and listen to the podcast on that. But here’s the summary of it. And if could summarize in Psalm 1 45, verse nine, the Lord is good to all. He has compassion on all he has made. And see, we understand this, the, the, this, this simple verse of the gathering places is that God is outrageously generous and is good to all. And in fact, God’s goodness is so radical that it offends people, cuz they’re like, no, no, no, it can’t be that good. No, God can’t be that loving. It has to be a little bit harder than this. And yes, it is harder with the transformation cuz we do have to die to a lot of things, but the goodness is so great. It kind of puts us off and sadly, and I think this is a problem that we have in our world today.

Pastor Mike (06:24):

And even some of us right now who are worshiping, like we, we get this. Um, but we don’t really know it. It’s not like in our, in our core of our being in our, in our roots, you know, very few of, uh, people like genuinely believe this because of their personal experience or maybe what they have witnessed in the church or in society. And then we have to also acknowledge that, you know what, there is a lot of evil at work in the world. So we got the human experience. I mean, we, we do got, we have evil in the world as well, and this makes things very complicated. In fact, second Corinthians chapter four, verse four says this. And if you have your Bibles, go ahead and follow along. And if you have like digital Bibles, you can do that. Or you can follow along on the screen, but it reads the God of this age has blinded thought minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ.

Pastor Mike (07:28):

Who is the image of God? When I read this, I, I think about how many people out there. And sometimes even people who belong to churches are, are spiritually like intoxicated. Um, I mean their, their senses have been dulled to the movement of the holy spirit. They can’t see what God is up to. They they’re they’re, they can’t participate in this. Um, you know, theologically be like their soul is in a, a deep sleep. It’s almost like they are just like dead, but they’re still alive. Or, or like a dark cloud has like covered the light so that there is still light in every human being. I mean, cuz maybe most people, all people have some degree of conscious fun functioning in their life. Right. And so they, they wanna do with what’s right. They want to do what’s wrong. But, but there’s, there’s so much stuff.

Pastor Mike (08:16):

That’s just complicating things that basically many people feel like they are powerless, even though they want to do these things. Even though they want to have victory, they feel like they’re, they’re just powerless. And they’re like, you know, can, can it really make a difference? And this is like the, the overall human experience that, that Christians and non-Christians we encounter all the time. And so what is necessary for us to be, to be able to see the work of God or to see the movement of the holy spirit is that we need an awakening. We need our senses to be awakening. We need our spirit to be awakening. And Jesus says it very simply. He says, very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God, God, unless they are born again. Now all the time, you know, when we hear this, you know, in church, I mean most of the time and in most churches and again, in churches that I’ve preached in, in the past, we’re always thinking about going to heaven, right.

Pastor Mike (09:06):

You know, seeing the kingdom of God. But Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within us and among us. In other words, we should be able to see the active worker, the kingdom of God, right here on the streets of our cities, we should be seeing in our neighboring communities. But what the problem is is that we need a conversion. We need an awakening. We need a, a born again, experience and experience that really awakens all of our senses to what God is doing. Yes, conversion a conversion of just our, our entire way of life is necessary to see the kingdom of God. And in my experience, even when we have the born again experience, even when we’ve gone through confirmation and we’ve been baptized, we affirm our baptized baptized. I know people that have been baptized several times, you know, and there’s a lot of complicated stuff here, but still in my experience, we have trouble seeing, even in my experience, you know, like I understood that because I accepted Jesus in my heart, that the church automatically should have became the place where I belong.

Pastor Mike (10:15):

That, that, that’s what I thought. That’s what I understood. But many times the church and I’m talking about all us little churches, you know, that, that make the collective body of Christ is not a good place for people. <laugh>, especially people who are curious, people who have maybe different experiences or are different opinions because you know, we, you know, your life background where you were born, where you were raised, where you went to school, I mean like the, the pains that you experienced life, I mean that affects your, your view of the world. What happens in your family, all these kind of things. And sometimes when people have a different opinion, the church is not really good for them. And sometimes, you know, instead of seeing all people as God’s work in progress, that God is actively involved in every human being. If someone doesn’t conform, you have a choice, your choice is either to get out of the way and find another church or don’t go to church at all.

Pastor Mike (11:19):

Or we force people to wear a mask. And the reason why we wear the mask and maybe you are getting really comfortable wearing the mask, you’ve been around church for so long and, and you, and you know, you want to belong, you know, you want to fit in, but you wear the mask because at least this is why, why I used to wear the mask and why I’m tempted to put the mask back on is because if people really knew what was going on in my head, if people really knew sometimes what the conflicts that I have in my heart sometimes, I mean, sometimes there’s just like ethical choices, that and moral decisions that we have to make. If people knew what I had said in my car,

church family (12:06):

<laugh>

Pastor Mike (12:06):

If people saw what’s going on in my family, I mean like my immediate family and whole family, you know what I would be ashamed, I’d be embarrassed. I’d be scared. And because of that, because of not really knowing that God really accepts me and really forgives me and the community is supposed to be that same kind of community. Like Jesus, we put on the mask, you know, in my experience. And I’ve been in a lot of different churches. And if you ever want to hear about him, we can meet sometime. I’ll tell you about it. Um, but I’ve been deeply wounded by religious people inside the church. How I was wounded is because I found people to be hypocritical, legalistic, judgemental, self seeking, sometimes political. And I’m not just talking about like in like, you know, like us politics. I mean, it’s political sometimes just in the church, you know, like, like people forgot to, to say what they mean and mean what they, they say. And then when they do do that, when people actually kind of speak something from their hearts and they get really passionate about something, a lot of times it comes from a place of being wounded

Pastor Mike (13:26):

And out of their wound, woundedness. Here’s what happens. They wound others. So like I had my, like my wounds inside my heart before I knew Jesus and, and Jesus brought healing and set me free in so many things. But then there’s still stuff that, that needs to be healed and, and needs to be redeemed in my life. But then also I’ve been wounded by other Christians.

church family (13:49):

And

Pastor Mike (13:49):

Then when happened, when I realized that when I was wounded and not loud, and God bring the light to this woundedness, man, I start hurting other people. I wound other people and, and, and I don’t wanna do that, but it happens sometimes. And there have been seasons in my life, both before I was a, a clergy person. And even after where I’ve like left the church and other times where maybe I didn’t leave the church, but man, I wanted to leave. I wanted to hit that injection seat and said, just get me the heck out of here. I had enough. And then I have friends that are dear to me, that it had the same experiences who left the church and never came back.

Pastor Mike (14:43):

And so this is really embarrassing if we’re honest about it, but I think we have to talk about this when we’re talking about the gathering place and what, what our future is gonna look like because many churches are not a safe place. Let’s just say that many churches are not a safe place. And if we’re not careful, this place too cannot be safe at times. You know? So we have to be very diligent to make sure that this is a safe place for all people, because what do people do when they do not feel safe, leave they leave. You think let’s go back to our primal instincts of human beings. They put on a mask, they run right? You, you get the heck out there, you run, you know, it’s that, that fight or flight. So people either are leaving churches or if they, if it’s not safe, you know what happens?

Pastor Mike (15:34):

They fight a lot in churches. And have you ever been a part of a church where there’s more fighting and more like just, you know, disagreeing and, and, and splitting hairs and all this stuff than being about the mission of Jesus think you’re right. But you know what, know what that means? That if, if, if the, the bulk of our activity, if the bulk of our meetings, if the, the bulk of our small groups are out squabbling over some kind of fight, that means that it is not a healthy place. It is not life giving. And so what happens, it, the people that can stand and, and, and endure the fight they stay and they keep on fighting. But those who said, man, I get beat up enough in this world. I get beat up enough in my family. You know, they, they, they, they leave and we see this all across the world.

Pastor Mike (16:25):

This is what’s happening. But then when we talk about our mission, right, and there’s all these people that have never been affiliated with the church are, are currently not affiliated with any kind of a religious movement. What do you hear people saying all the time? Like, at least what I hear people say, when I start talking about Jesus or about church or about the gathering place. And, and I get the defense, I hear this. And have you ever heard this? You know, I’m spiritual, but not religious. Has anyone ever heard that before? What does that mean when they say I’m spiritual and not religious? Let’s just step back. Let’s talk about, let’s think about what we just heard, what we’ve been thinking about.

Pastor Mike (17:07):

When someone says to me that I am spiritual and not religious, it breaks my heart. It hits me at the core because you know what I hear, I hear someone say I would rather be orphaned. I would rather be spiritually orphaned than to commit myself to any kind of diety or faith community. That’s the result of this stuff that we’re talking about. I would rather do life on my own than risk getting hurt again. Yes. I, I, I want, I, I, I believe there’s something valuable in spirituality. I’m not gonna abandon that, but man, I am, am afraid to commit to anything.

Pastor Mike (17:54):

Now, where does that come from? Yeah, there, there, there’s, there’s, there’s a part of society. That’s a little bit non-committal, you know, um, you know, I mean, maybe there’s influences on mainstream media. I mean, it’s a cultural thing. I mean, now this stuff is like a hard to change, but it’s here and let’s just name it. But then the other part of it is, and I re, and, and this is something that we can change and we can talk about it’s the witness of the church. It’s what do we do behind these walls is what do we do when we get out the walls? And I think first of all, part of the witness to the church is that we have a wrong definition of religion inside the church. I think a lot of times when people say, you know, like a lot of churches, monitors, like, no, we’re not religious, we’re not religious.

Pastor Mike (18:35):

You know? Um, it’s because we wanna react to people that have just used the Bible and use scripture to abuse people. And so we don’t want to be religious. We don’t wanna be labeled as religious, but the Bible lifts up being religious. You know what I mean? James says that pure and undefiled religion exist is visiting, you know, widows and orphans of their time of need and keeping ourselves not polluted from this, this mindset of the world. If you look at the basic definition of, of religion, it means just a, a devotion to a deity. So, I mean like inherently, there’s nothing bad about being religious. If you’re just devoted to your God, it’s what you do afterwards. It’s the stuff that follows our religiosity. It’s the stuff that, oh man, I’m going to be clean today. I promised myself I was gonna be clean and when I get excited.

Pastor Mike (19:22):

Um, but, um, but you know, it’s the silly stuff, the confusing things that Christians say that also makes it a little bit more complicated stuff like, um, it’s about relationship with Jesus and not religion. Like, what are you just dating Jesus? You know? And then what Jesus does it do? What you want, you break up with them, you know, like what does that mean? Or, or, or like, I hear people say, well, I’m just a Christian, you know, I’m not affiliated with any kind of denomination or any kind of thing. And I’m like, what are you just like walking around? You have your own like private set of the golden tablets or something, you know, are you a cult leader? You know, I don’t wanna affiliate, I don’t wanna connect with anybody or, or people say like, you know, I only believe the Bible, that’s it.

Pastor Mike (20:07):

And everybody else, you know, they’re just “I can interpret the Bible myself. I, I just have it all myself.” And we forget that we are influenced so much when we read the scripture. I mean, and, and plus, I mean, if anyone has any, um, understand linguistics beyond just English or even just look at the English translations, I mean, translation does a lot. There’s a lot of stuff that informs our thinking as Christians. And then that goes to the big problem that I’m guilty of. And, and, and I’m like, Lord, just break me of this. And a lot of Christians are, is that we have forgotten. We stopped thinking. And here’s what I mean. We string together like our own little language. And here’s where we get our language from our, our, our language is like, we string together. These like cheap cliches, these Mees out there, or headlines, a lot of witty one liners and we string them all together.

Pastor Mike (21:02):

And so when you talk to us, you know, it’s like watching a feed on Twitter. You know what I mean? Or I’m not Twitter. I, um, TikTok, you know, it’s just like, boom, boom, boom, these like these little videos, these little, little life hacks and all that. And, and we’re just like a, like a, like a bag full of cheap life hacks. You know what I mean? That, that, that, that is so superficial that, that doesn’t get like us in touch with reality. And we say, and we made, we made love cheap. We made grace cheap, we made inclusion cheap, and we make all this stuff just so cheap. And you know what, it’s really unhealthy because we give you just enough to think that you’re getting by. It’s like, we give you enough just to cope, you know, with these little cliches and all these little things, but not enough to really get through.

Pastor Mike (21:57):

Okay. That sounds like a, probably a cheap cliche too. I give you just enough to get by, but not enough to get through, but, but really that’s like what we do. And how do you know the difference if what you have that you’re holding onto is your faith really something to clinging, to, to die for, to give your life for, look at the quality of your life, look at the quality of your relationships and ask yourself, honestly, with that, like remove the veneer, remove the hypnotism, stop drinking the Kool-Aid and just say, is this working because you know what I find out, like in my experience that life is way more nuanced and complex, and we just can’t give these little cheap answers. And it’s not always this black and white. We need some good health. We need health in the church. And, and for me, the, one of the, the attributes of health is being attuned to what’s going on inside of me, you know, attuned to my thoughts, my feelings attuned to my body.

Pastor Mike (23:04):

You know, sometimes, you know, like sometimes our body goes warning. You just like, you know, you just get a little tense or something, you know, being attuned to that, that’s a, these are signs of, of health, but also being attuned to what is happening in our world. And many times, man, we just live in our little bubble and we brainwash ourselves and, and we, we’re just immune to the, the hurts and pains of this world. We’ve lost sensitivity, we’ve lost empathy. And we crave healthy relationships. We, we want to belong. We want to be seen, we want to be heard, but we don’t know how. And also we don’t know how to receive it or give it.

Pastor Mike (23:46):

And we, and we settle for something that, that doesn’t fulfill our deepest needs. And then, so what do we settle for? We take the, the, the cheap way out, you know, we, we settle for materialism or very popular social media profile. And basically we have this like construct for ourselves, like a house of cards instead of a home. And Jesus said, there’s a big difference in our homes, depending on the foundation that we have. And you should check it out. I mean, he talks about in the Bible and encourage you to read that. But some of the reasons that we don’t value belonging to a church, even the most faithful Bible, believeing Christians, even they don’t value being part of a church is because a church sold itself out. It, it, it sold itself out. It compromised Saint Augustin. One of them, I mean, the great fathers of the church said this.

Pastor Mike (24:49):

He said, the church is a whore, but she’s my mother San Augusta realized that the church already started excelled self out long time ago, started getting like too much about the institution too much about the power and the hierarchy. But also he realized that we can’t abandon the church. It’s part of God’s plan, a major issue. And this is what we’re gonna be talking about. And, and the vision I want you to have for the gathering place is that in a lot of Christians, there’s a lack of maturity. They’re not willing. And they do not know how to do the hard work, where God could really dig in and bring some emotional healing, some spiritual healing, some physical healing, some don’t even know they need it. And still many are, are blind to this. And this problem is nothing new. I mean, golly, it’s a, it is a early church problem.

Pastor Mike (25:48):

I mean, Paul writes this to the church in Corinth. He said, brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the spirit, but as people who are still worldly, so these are Christians, right? But they’re still worldly Christians. He said, mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food for you are not ready for it. Indeed. You are still not ready. You are still worldly. Now here’s the definition of worldly. Now pay attention to this for, since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere human beings? So depending on the faith community, I have, man, we had a way different definition of worldliness. We, we attributed to what you wore, what kind of music you listened to, um, whether you, what kind of jewelry you wore, whether you had tattoos or not, who you hung out with that was worldly.

Pastor Mike (26:36):

But Paul, this is something really simple. You know, he is like, if there’s jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly and acting like mere human beings? So how many times do we, Christians waste so much valuable time and energy even like in our homes. And then in our church meetings, I mean, I talking like, remember this is stuff of the past we’re putting the past behind. I’m trying to give us a vision for the future. But how many times we wasted all this energy on these little arguments. That don’t mean a lot. You know what I mean? Like they don’t, they’re not a big deal. In other words, maybe it’s a big deal to you, but we does. Does your neighbor next door will lose any sleep depending on how you’re gonna vote on this or that, or that decision or where you’re gonna do that fundraiser or not, or whether you’re gonna go on that trip or whether you’re gonna play that song or not.

Pastor Mike (27:25):

Well, well, will the city of Palm beach gardens really care? What some of the decisions we argue about inside the church or what we, what we think about like, you know, who we should, uh, allow in leadership or who we should welcome, do they really care? Does the United States really give a flip about like what our little arguments that we think are so important that we’re already to die on? We lose friendships. We divide our families. Does it really matter? And then even more do people in the other parts of the world do do the people in Lana day. And if you don’t know, Lana day is look it up. The people in Lana day, give a care about the things that we’re doing.

Pastor Mike (28:06):

Does it really make a difference in their life? Cuz believe it or not, there are people in other parts of the world that do not have the American way of life and they are believers. And then some are not believers, but they are actually happy. And they live under a totally different political system, a totally different ideology. Do they really care? I think we gotta ask ourselves the things that we think that are so important that we divide and fight and get jealous and squabble over. Isn’t really that big of a deal in the big picture of life. Hebrews chapter five, verse 12 through 14 says. And in fact though, by this time you ought to be teachers. I don’t, I mean, I’m afraid to ask how many people are listening right now. Who’ve been in the church more than one year and how many people are afraid to lead anything.

church family (28:56):

Why

Pastor Mike (28:58):

By this time you ought to be teachers, but you need someone to teach you the elementary principles of the truth of God’s word all over again. You need milk, but not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk being still an infant is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness, but solid food is for the mature who by constant use to have trained themselves, to distinguish between good and evil. So we’re seeing these definitions of maturity and, and also worldliness. We’re seeing it. And a lot of it’s about just like actually practicing your faith in real life. And actually you doing something and say, this is evil. This is good. And you’re not getting caught up in the little, little Pedy squabbles that we, that are so tempted to get into. You know, we get rid of the quar and we get rid of the jealousy.

Pastor Mike (29:53):

And, and, and, and what, what we hear in the writer of Hebrew says is that mature people, you know, it’s because of their use, they’re able by using this by try to practice this kind of life, they’re able to make these decisions. You see a problem with me. I mean, I mean, it was a part of my journey where I was, I mean, it was like I hit a wall. It was because sometimes the friends that I relied on and I confided in and I trusted were at the same maturity level as me, you know? Um, they’ve been on the journey at the same time, as well as me and you know what? They were bad counsel or they, I would try to do it alone. You know, it’s like, have you ever read like a self-help book? I’m sure. Like, most of it all read some kind of self-help book and you know, self-help books are good in some ways, you know, cuz like they help you to clearly identify your problem and they give you a vision for like a new way and they, and they break down some little steps of, of how to do it.

Pastor Mike (30:48):

And conceptually, you got it, right? You say, I could do this, but then you realize that the promise land that they’re trying to sell you is so far removed from your, your current reality. You know, maybe you say to yourself, you know, you, I’m gonna, I’m gonna apply this in my work and my whole work. Environment’s gonna change that. Manager’s actually gonna see me and they’re gonna make a difference or I’m gonna apply it in that family situation. How many of you have some relatives that you’re a little bit alienated with right now? Or maybe they’re alienated with each other and you’re stuck in the middle. So he is like, I’m gonna apply this to my family. So you have your little script, you know how it’ll all play out and then reality hits and somehow they push your button. Have you ever had that happen?

Pastor Mike (31:38):

Like, you know, I’m not gonna do this. I’m not gonna say that. And they just push the button and it throws you off balance and you lose control and the results are nothing like the book or the seminar. You attended promise that three, three day seminar, did you squat? Why? Cause there’s this huge gap between where we are and where God has called us to be. And I really believe that we need to fill that gap with a lot of grace and your reliance on God and we need to fill it with God’s people. We need grace and we need people and we need to have like successful experience and positive experience with God’s grace and people in a, in a healthy environment. And here’s the key first Corinthians chapter four versus 14 to 17. Now I love this. This is really important right here.

Pastor Mike (32:32):

First, first line, I am writing that this not to shame you, we gotta get rid of this shame culture. Even in Christianity, we gotta get rid of it. But to warn you as my dear children, even if you had 10,000 guardians, other translations will say 10,000 teachers, you don’t have many fathers. You don’t have any like mature people like spiritual parents that, that actually take a little bit of ownership and an investment in your life. And then he says about his exam four in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel. So Paul said like, I, I, wasn’t just some kind of teacher. I wasn’t just some kind of like, like walking commentary in your life or just that’s judging you whatever. But, but I loved you like a parent and maybe, you know, you had a bad relationship with your parents. It’s not that commentary, but it’s the parent that, that Jesus always refers to that unconditional love of the father that wants the very best for all of us.

Pastor Mike (33:38):

Cause I became a father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. So Paul’s saying like, if you really want to grow and you really want to have like transformation in life, see a lot of times we get stuck in the guardian realm. You know, we think we’re like the guardians of the galaxy that we just like fly around and we just cause little trouble do our little things. And then we have our little adventures and it’s not so pretty in real life. Cuz what we do is we fly around and we me in people’s stuff, we make a little mess. We judge and criticize people. We get on our little power trips and we think we’re doing good, but it’s really, it’s making me feel good. Right? And Paul’s saying, no, you gotta imitate me. Like like the way of maturity is to be raising up.

Pastor Mike (34:21):

Your goal should be that I wanna be a spiritual father or a spiritual mother to something. I wanna nurture somebody I wanna empower and equip somebody so that, so that somebody will, whatever I experienced that they’ll, they’ll go further than when I was ever able to go to. He says, therefore, I urge you to imitate me for this reason. I have sent Timothy. Now we know that Timothy, uh, historically has been known as the, the disciple of Paul. Like he like Paul, you know, raised him and he says, Timothy, my son whom I love. So do you hear the language here? Do you hear the relationships here? It’s not like my Bible teacher who was like, I’m a facilitator and, and, and I’m not gonna medal and get mad at you cause I’m afraid you might bite me or something. You know, it’s not like that.

Pastor Mike (34:58):

But it’s like, okay, I’m gonna love you that kid. If my kid bites me and doesn’t eat, doesn’t eat. So I’m still gonna love ’em I’m still gonna invest in their life. So Timothy, my son, whom I love who is faithful to the Lord, he will remind you of my way of life in Christ. Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere. So do you see this maturity? Maturity’s not about just a bunch of knowledge and spouting off information. It’s not about meddling in people’s lives and causing trouble and they do your little power trips, but it’s a way of life. It’s like loving people and wanting the best for people and it, and it’s, and it’s raising them up and it’s modeling. And also it’s a way of life that’s consistent with what is being taught. So it’s not like those condescending parents or condescending teachers that we have in our life.

Pastor Mike (35:54):

Who you ever heard that like when you get in that argument with your, maybe I’m the only one, but like there’s been times when I, I use arguments with my parents and we’re not, and we’re not gonna, yeah. I’m the only one and, and you’re not gonna budge and they’re not gonna budge. And then, you know, what they do, they give you that low blow. You know, what I’m talking about is like what you’ll understand when you’re older or you’ll understand when you have your kids, you know what I’m talking about? I mean, it, it, it is just a low blow. It’s just basically say I have nothing more to convince you or to prove to you. So I’m just gonna, I’m gonna hit you below the belt. It’s not like that. Because like I said, usually, you know, when we have those kind of arguments and even when we’re trying to teach somebody, we have to, we have to measure our words and not from being, whether it’s like political or not, or not offensive, but to ask ourselves, is this gonna be actually helpful?

Pastor Mike (36:46):

Is this gonna build somebody up? Is it gonna accomplish like the greater good for all of us? We’re talking about a different kind of spiritual formation here. We’re talking about a church that, that is about, you know, just mature believers, mature parents, mentoring and equipping other parents. You know, in other words like when things get bad and people go the wrong way, you know, you redirect them, you know, you correct that, that bad behavior, you, you, you give them another way and you, and you help the model it by showing them the way of Jesus. Hebrews chapter six verses one through three, says this, therefore let us move on beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying aside again. So these are the basic teachers, right? The foundation of repentance from the acts that lead to death and in faith in God and instructions about cleansing rights and laying on a hands, the resurrection of dead and eternal judgment and God permitting, we do so.

Pastor Mike (37:44):

So he’s saying, Hey, you know what? Let’s okay, that stuff’s important, but there’s a lot more to the spiritual faith in this. You know, we’re trying to equip you in this church. If you’re, if you’re following us on social media, I wanna encourage you to keep on looking at some of the little things that, that we’re trying to provoke you to think. You know, like this week we, we put a thing out about relational listening and empathetic listening. And these are tips and reminders to, to help you. They’re they’re little summaries, but remember, don’t be deceived. The real change happens in community, in this kind of community where we, we make a decision to say, we’re gonna practice. We’re gonna live this out. We don’t, we’re not experts, but we’re practitioners. You know, we’re learning, we’re developing, we’re sharpening our skills. And we’re believing that, you know, we want everyone to have these positive experiences of, of love and care.

Pastor Mike (38:30):

And we want to help them to develop these kind of experiences and these, this, this way of life into their life. You know, I mean, this, this is a simple summary. If you wanna look at like what maturity might look like, you know, I mean, this, this will be the goal of when we start living this out, you actually start respecting other people’s differences. Why? Cuz you’re at home with yourself. Okay. You don’t feel threatened when somebody has a different opinion than yours. You’re not afraid. So it’s okay to, to respect someone else’s differences, you know, and you might wanna approach with curiosity and say like, how do they get to that place instead of just cutting people off and writing ’em off you stop judging people. Another sign of just a mature person. You’re saying, you know what, God judges everything. It’s not for me to be the, the judge or the fixer, or to figure out how they got to that situation or what are the consequences for their action, their experience already.

Pastor Mike (39:20):

You’re there to just to love them and equip them and help them to move forward. If they ask to be, need help to be moved forward. And you don’t force anyone to love you so many times, you know, we think it’s about us because we have this deficit inside of us and we haven’t been made complete in Christ love. We haven’t realized that we are a children of God. We are beloved by God. We are accepted by God. And then you become more open minded. And you know, when people like in Christianity, we get scared by this word, open minded, like we’re more comfortable with closed minded if we’re honestly, you know, like, because they were like, oh no, to that, that could be, I could deviate from the rules or whatever, but come on. You know, like sometimes the church has just resisted this evidence of science for years and it made us look like a full, because we were so rigid.

Pastor Mike (40:09):

I mean, open minded takes a lot of things, but these are signs of maturity. Cuz you realize that, you know what? This world is big, it’s complex. There’s a lot of ways to do different things and your way works, but there’s other ways to accomplish the same thing. What does the faith community look like first, John one seven. But if we walk in light, it’s about walking in light as he, Jesus is in the light and we have fellowship with one another. In other words, we have like a real community relationship with one walk in light, be in relationship with, with one another. And then we just know that the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin. So this vision that we have for this church at this part that I just want you to just kind of grab is that as we walk in the light and as we have this genuine fellowship with another, God’s the one who cleanses us and this community, what we do is we start cultivating a place for people to belong.

Pastor Mike (41:07):

And what does that look like? Cause I mean, that sounds cheap to you. I just want all is welcomed. You know, like what does that mean? What about we were saying like, this is a place where you know what, we’re gonna appreciate people. We’re gonna value people. This gonna be a place where you’re gonna find real companionship, real friendship support, a place to be, be heard and seen. And also where we actually want to know you and you don’t have to be afraid to let people to get to know you a place to be understood and a place that can be trusted, where you can be a trustworthy person and, and you can encounter other people who are trusted.

Pastor Mike (41:57):

I promise you, you will. We’re working hard on this. This, this is, this is the direction we’re going. It’s not easy. It’s slow grow. It’s not, it’s not blingy or any of that. I mean, this is hard stuff and it will change you. It will change your inner world. But here’s the important thing that once you get this changed, it’s gonna give you a sense of purpose. It’s gonna give you a sense of destiny cuz you you’re gonna have a vision for the world. And you say, you know what? We can make real life change in this world. And we’ll see that it not only has this real personal consequences, but it will have eternal consequences and we can change people’s family trees. My family tree is being changed by living out an experience of the gospel and the same could happen to you. Yes we could trust Jesus.

Pastor Mike (42:42):

I mean we, we always, I mean, that’s the basic level that trust Jesus to forgive us of our personal sin, we could trust that we were loved by God. We could trust that we’re going to heaven. But what if Jesus, what the things that he taught was much more than that. What if it was a lot more deeper and what if it touches more areas of lives than, than of our lives than we allow, haven’t allowed it to because Jesus came to teach us how to live abundant life. You see the church is a voluntary and intentional community. You have to volunteer to, you have to sign up for this kind of stuff. And it’s very deliberate. It is kind of, it is like a, an outpost of God’s kingdom that believes that Jesus is the truth. And that if we believe that Jesus really is the truth, we could trust that his way of doing life is a way that leads to overflowing life, eternal life.

Pastor Mike (43:32):

You know what? It requires a lot more than just visiting and attending. That’s the challenge. It requires a much more than that. You know, we, it’s a, it’s a mutual accountability. It’s a mutual commitment. It’s not like a transactional membership where I pay my membership at Costco or Sam’s club. And then I get these certain benefits. It’s not that at all. It’s something much more, but now can you imagine what our community would look like? If the, if this was happening inside here, it’d be a great place to be. It’d be a great place to hang out, but we’re not called to hang out. We are called to go out and extend. God’s redeeming love mark. 1 38. This is when Jesus was just starting out as ministry and Mark’s gospel. And we’re seeing like, you know, I mean we’re staring to see healings and, and he’s getting a crowd already. And people are like, Jesus, man, people love you. I mean the whole village, the whole community just loves you. And Jesus replied, let us go somewhere else to the nearby villages so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.

Pastor Mike (44:48):

Jesus didn’t come. Just so they get, there’s a few people to hang out and they could all hang out for 30 years. Cause they all like each other. He created a church so that we could extend his message to the furthest parts of the earth. And, and here’s what I want you to know. You know, some of you come from the former Trinity United Methodist church, some of your come from other places. And I want you to know that we will do things differently here. I’m not gonna hide that. And this is not gonna be the same church or faith community that maybe you started out with. But here is the why, why we do this. This is the why, when you say, man, they don’t sing my top, my top hits, you know, my top, you know, my top Christian hits my top hymns and all those kind of, this is the why, because we need to connect in meaningful ways with this current generation that, that we’re living among right now and the generation that’s following.

Pastor Mike (45:50):

And so if you don’t like all the music that we do or the space that we worshiping or the space, maybe we’ll have other places or how we do, children’s all those things. If you don’t like it so much, or maybe you don’t like sometimes my preaching style or the length of my sermons and all that kind. So just remember, you know, there is a place for you here. There is definitely a place for you here. In fact, you’re needed to be part of this mission and you are valued, but this, all that we’re doing is not just for you. It’s not for you. It’s to prepare us to do what God has called us to do. So who’s this for, you know, this is for all of us who are children of God, what are we talking about? We’re talking about that. We are created to, we are called to create a community where people can really belong and find home. How do we do this? We say, you know what? We’re, we’re gonna be a church that is committed to being mature. When are we gonna do this? We’re gonna start right now. And the why is because everyone, God desires every single person to at least have a chance to experience the goodness of God at some level, we’re called to be spreading that out everywhere.

Hannah Hunter (47:13):

Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 11:15, for more information about our community and faith, check out our website at thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for listening.