unite april/may 2012
One Region, One Church, One Mission
CHURCH ON TAP Same Message, New Approach. PAGE 9
ELMWOOD DRIVE 5 Sins of Church Life Dealing with Offense
pg. 12 pg. 11 pg. 17
EDITOR’S NOTE CONTENTS God is calling our region to prayer. It’s obvious. From the initiatives underway with the much anticipated Franklin Graham Rock the Lakes Festival this coming September, to the upcoming conference with Eagles’ Wings—Sound of the Kingdom. There is also Eastern Hills Wesleyan’s move toward a Saturday night prayer service and The Chapel’s leadership in the WNY Pray initiative. In addition to the above, one that is near and dear to my own heart is Prayer Collective (I am involved on the leadership team)—an initiative aimed at long term, sustainable effort toward perpetual prayer, worship and mission. The really encouraging thing is that in one way or another select groups are responding to the invitation and for that I am grateful. After all that is what Jesus himself said would be the dominant characteristic of his church—prayer. There is no doubt a buzz is happening in Buffalo right now as we anticipate the coming of Rock the Lakes and the hope we have to see something shift in our region. I think the important thing to remember is events like this serve as a catalyst to get things moving in our region. They aren’t necessarily themselves the end all, but they’ll help steer us in the right direction. It’s encouraging to hear about all the churches rallying together behind this cause, more coverage of this in upcoming issues. I am also excited to introduce you in this issue to my new friends at Church on Tap. Young, idealist believers who are introducing new ideas of how to do church. I also welcome to this issue Michael Nieves a friend of mine and pastor of Centerpointe Community Church, a growing church in Lancaster. Nieves clears the dust of some of killers of church life. Enjoy!
Kyle R. Patterson
COVER PHOTO BY MATT BROWN
4 Partners 5 Events Graham
6 News Franklin Graham, Business Men’s Fellowship, Prayer Collective Elmwood Drive 12
9 Cover Story
unite april/may 2012 www.unitemagazine.us PUBLISHER
Kyle Patterson firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief....…...……………………Kyle Patterson email@example.com Operations Director…………………...Julianna Patterson Contributors………………………………….. Lou Perez Robert Stearns Joshua Maloni Bob Tice Michael Nieves Photographers… …………….....Matt and Angela Brown Troy Teague Bob Caple
Church on Tap…Kyle Patterson
14 Columns 5 Sins of the Church 11
Real Answers………...Robert Stearns Harvest Eyes II….Bob Tice
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PARTNERS GOLD PARTNERS ZION DOMINION GLOBAL MINISTRIES Pastor Roderick L. Hennings 716-250-7040 www.ziondominion.org ELIM CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP Bishop Troy Bronner 716-832-7698 www.elim-world.org THE TABERNACLE Bishop Tommy Reid 716-675-2888 www.thetab.org
BRONZE PARTNERS CLARENCE CENTER UMC Pastors Chuck and Kim Smith 716-741-2410 www.thewayonline.net THE CHAPEL AT CROSSPOINT Pastor Jerry Gillis 716-631-2636 www.thechapel.com BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH Rev. Kevin L. Wright 716-688-8668 www.bethel-nab.org
NORTHGATE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY Pastor Jon Hasselbeck 716-912-5477 www.northgatebuffalo.com
LOVE JOY GOSPEL CHURCH Pastor Ron and Judy Burgio 716-651-0400 www.lovejoy.org
EAGLES’ WINGS Dr. Robert Stearns 716-759-1058 www.eagleswings.to
PENTECOSTAL TEMPLE Pastor Matthew L. Brown 716-852-5502 www.pentecostaltemplechurch.com
GRACE IN COMMUNITY CHURCH Pastor Mark Sterlace 716-655-4145 www.graceincommunity.com
NEW BETHEL COMMUNITY CHURCH Pastors William and Toni Clark 716-835-8300 www.newbethelonline.com DESTINY CHRISTIAN CHURCH Pastors Lou and Louisa Perez 716-297-2656 www.destinychristianniagara.com NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY JP Anderson-Director of Admissions 1-800-777-4RWC www.nes.edu GLOBAL DOMINION INT’L ALLIANCES Dr. Melody Barclay 716-603-5436 email@example.com HOUSE OF WORSHIP Pastor Migdalia González 716-512-0794 www.cdaelshaddai.com
For more information or to become a partner email firstname.lastname@example.org
Calling all worshippers! From April 12-14, join Dr. Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings and Bishop Tommy Reid of The Tabernacle for “Sound of the Kingdom!” Special guests ministering will include Joseph Garlington, Aimee ReidSych, Tony Sutherland, Leon Timbo, and Nathan Salter. To register or for more information, call 1-800-51-WINGS.
IronMen’s ENGAGE Men’s breakfast at The Chapel at Crosspoint APEX building. $5.00 breakfast and teaching.
Introduction to Christian Life and Witness Course from Rock the Lakes Breakfast for Pastors, Church Staff and Church Leaders. 8AM to 10AM at Hyatt Regency Buffalo 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14202
Just Joy Ministries presents Holy Estrogen Women’s Conference at Life Church, West Seneca. A Girl's Guide to Making her Emotions the Holiest part of her! Carol McLeod will be teaching the life principles from her new book, “Holy Estrogen!” Tickets are $50. www.justjoyministries.com
Activating the Miraculous through the Seer Anointing Fast Track training at Sword of the Spirit ministries. Learn to move with greater confidence and authority in what God has revealed. $50 per person per class. 300 Kensington Avenue.
28 Alden, NY.
ICEJ educational seminar, Discerning the Times. 9am-12:30 at Grace In Community Church in
Sword of the Spirit Ministries presents Women of Destiny Regional Breakfast. Holiday Inn 4600 Genesee Street.$15 advance ticket sales.
Salvation Army Buffalo hosts their annual Red Shield Luncheon at Millennium Hotel featuring special guest Diane Paddison. 12PM. Order tickets today. 716-888-6214 Business Men’s Fellowship is back in business in Buffalo. Come and join this group of business men for their inaugural first official meeting at Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga from 11:30-1:30. Lunch starts at 12 and is $20. Meet and network with other Christian men in business and invite a friend to share Christ with. More info at www.bmfbuffalo.com
National Day of Prayer. Prayer in the Square. 121:30. Come and pray with hundreds of believers on this nationally proclaimed day to pray. Sword of the Spirit Ministries presents Prophetic Weekend Impact with Prophets Greg & Julie Bailey are Founders of EagleNet Ministries of Brisbane , Australia . They are Directors under Dr. Bill Hamon.
CMS @ The Chapel. This two day event equips, inispires and encourages musicians of all talents to go to the next level and worship God with excellence. Special guests include David Crowder, Phil Joel and Peter Furler among others. See kingdombound.org for more details.
Don’t see your event? email email@example.com to get listed. Small fee applies. Space is limited.
Invitation to partner Partner with UNITE and expand your ministry reach. One Region, One Church, One Mission. www.unitemagazine.us
NEWS Enacting God’s Mission Wherever You Are
By Kaitlin Harding
Churches all across the United States send out missionaries to serve and share the love of God in exotic, foreign places. When Christians hear the term “missional preaching,” they may envision disciples going out in the field. Not necessarily so. On March 5, Dr. Al Tizon, author, professor, and ordained minister, offered a definition that informs the way God’s people can think about a missional church. During the half-day event, sponsored by Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y., Tizon spoke to pastors, community members, and college students about enacting God’s mission wherever we are, not just in faraway places. His definition is this: “To be missional means to join God’s mission to transform the world, as the church strives in the spirit to be authentically relational, intellectually and theologically grounded, culturally and socio-economically diverse, and radically committed to both God and neighbor, especially the poor.” Tizon’s message is directed toward the church and, more specifically, to pastors who should strive to teach their congregations to be missional in their communities. To this end, Tizon offered three ideas missional preachers should keep in mind. First, to be effective missional preachers, pastors must realize that it is a content issue, not a methodological issue. Tizon cited the emerging church and its aversion to preaching. Rather, these churches facilitate discussion. While Tizon sees value in these methods, he also said, “we can change our methods all we want, but if the mission of God isn’t informing and undergirding our preaching, then we can have the best, most relevant and post-modern method, and we’re still not shaping the church into what it’s called to be, namely, the image of our missional God.” Second, the Bible is a missional text, and therefore should be read from a missional perspective. Tizon said, “The unifying theme of all of scripture is the missio dei. In other words, the Bible doesn’t just contain missional passages; but the whole Bible is itself a missional text.” When Christians read the Bible through missional eyes, it “becomes not just a record, but a call for the Church’s participation in God’s plan.” Verses from Psalms are no longer just songs from the past, but valuable guides for the present. Last, the most important thing preachers can do is proclaim the reign of God. Tizon presented six time-frames, or epochs, that describe God’s rule throughout the Bible. They are God’s rule in Creation and the fall; in and through Israel; through the sages and the prophets; in Christ; through a spirit-empowered church; and in New Heaven and New Earth. “Preaching,” he said, “is proclaiming nothing less than the Gospel of the Kingdom. Missional preaching is proclaiming the Gospel in such a way that it shapes the people of God to be outword in its orientation, and missional preaching strives for this because God, by God’s very nature, is outward in orientation … The overall goal of missional preaching is to cultivate a missional church.” So when Tizon prompted members of the diverse audience, from different ministry contexts and walks in their pastoral lives, to read Bible passages in a missional way, the content ideas began to flow and the dialogue around missional meaning was rich and inspiring. Scripture was enlivened in a new way and Dr. Al Tizon had encouraged each one to seek to follow God’s mission in the world.
Jared Anderson in Batavia
By Kyle Patterson Singer and song writer Jared Anderson will be playing April 20 at Northgate Church in Batavia with Brothers McClurg. Anderson is one of the members of Desperation Band out of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He has written popular worship songs released on his two solo worship projects with Integrity Music titled Where to Begin and Where Faith Comes From.
Save the Date: Franklin Graham On His Way to Buffalo By Kyle Patterson
It has been over 20 years since they came here last, but it's official, The Billy Graham Evangelical Association is on their way to town. Dr. Lee McCune along with Jim and Jill Kelly on February 16 announced (formally) to a full banquet room at the Hyatt Hotel that Franklin Graham and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will be coming to Buffalo for what is being called "Rock the Lakes" Buffalo Festival. The two day festival will take place September 22-23, 2012 at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo. Dr. McCune and his wife Annie are serving at Executive Co-Chairs of the event with Jim and Jill Kelly together as the Honorary Co-Chairs of the event that is likely to attract tens of thousands to Buffalo's Coca-Cola field. The ministry, now led by Franklin was started of course by Franklin's father Billy Graham and hasn't come through Buffalo since a 1988 crusade. Jim and Jill opened the complimentary breakfast for church leaders held at the Hyatt with Jim stating, "I never knew what freedom was until I received Christ." Jill Kelly followed stating, "We are evidence that God does the miraculous" and "Hope is coming to Buffalo, He is already here." Pastor Melvin Taylor of New Life Restoration Center and one of the Vice-Chairs of the event stated, "My heart is to see souls won to the Kingdom of God." Taylor served as a catalyst to get Graham to consider coming to Buffalo when over a year ago he began getting pastors together and drafting a formal invitation to The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Taylor went on to say, "We have an opportunity to work together in our Father's field, we are well on our way to receiving a harvest of souls." Preston Parrish, Executive Vice President of Ministry at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and long time personal friend of Franklin Graham, shared the keynote address of the morning talking in length about what "time" it is in the world, suggesting that we are closer than many understand to the coming of the Lord. He said, "The hour is late and the time is ticking away." Parrish shared that there are two opposing trends in our culture. On one hand people are hungrier than ever for spiritual things, on the other the culture continues to move further from God and the resulting secularization of society. Parrish warned of the threat of Islamic growth and the deteriorating culture and the need to reach our youth, "We must fight for the souls of our young people," he warned the packed audience at the Hyatt. He then went on to encourage attendees, "Nothing excites God more than people talking about his Son Jesus....now is the time to do something." Parrish concluded his sobering 30 minute or so address with exuberant thanks and acceptance of the invitation to preach the gospel in Buffalo, "We are delighted to be with you." Festival Director Sherman Barnett encouraged attendees to pray, "Do it again, Lord" after attendees raised hands to show those who knew someone impacted in Buffalo by the 1988 Crusade. Sherman encouraged attendees that in order for the festival to be successful thousands of people and hundreds of churches need to be involved in the process of making this event a success. "When will another opportunity like this come to Buffalo?," Sherman asked the crowd of well over 350. "Maybe 10-15-20 years? Maybe never? We need as many believers as possible as we prepare for the harvest." Leaders in attendance were encouraged to get their congregation and partners involved in this massive outreach that has led a team of four Billy Graham Evangelistic Association staffers to be take up offices in Getzville to mobilize as many people as possible for the upcoming festival this September. Scheduled Events include seminars, breakfasts, prayer rallies and more as believers across the region are encouraged to be a part. Believers are asked to: 1) Pray-asking God for revival in the Great Lakes Region 2) Train- The BGEA is offering a Christian Life and Witness Course for adults and FM419 for youth 3) Serve- Community Action Projects are taking place in impoverished neighborhoods 4) Proclaim- counselors are needed at the event for those looking to put their training to good use. More information can be found at www.billygraham.org/buffalo
NEWS The 11th Annual Call to Courage Awards Breakfast was held on Saturday, March 24, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo. The high profile sports breakfast is sponsored by the Buffalo Pro Ministry of Athletes in Action. Every spring for the past ten years, former Buffalo Bills quarterback, Frank Reich, who engineered the “Greatest Comeback in NFL History”, hosts the community sports breakfast event. Reich presented the 2012 Call to Courage Award to Cleveland Browns Tight End and former Super Bowl Champion while with the New England Patriots, Ben Watson. Watson was coached by Buffalo Bill Hall of Famer, Joe DeLamielleure. Watson was the number one draft pick of the Patriots in 2004. Special speaker at this year’s event was former Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel, who is currently the Vice President for Student Engagement for the University of Akron. U. S. Army SGT Tommy Rieman from Kernersville, NC, was also recognized at the Call To Courage Awards Breakfast. SGT Rieman was awarded the Silver Star in August 2004 for his bravery and valor during the War in Iraq in 2003. He was also in attendance during the State of the Union Address and officially recognized by President George W. Bush as a true “American Hero”. Rieman who has had an action figure made of him, was chosen as one of the faces of the U.S. Army's "America's Army: Real Heroes" program. The honorary chairman for this year’s breakfast was Buffalo Bills Receiver/Quarterback and Special Teams Ace, Brad Smith. Business Men's Fellowship USA is back in business in Buffalo. The new chapter titled, Business Men’s Fellowship Buffalo Region kicks off their inaugural meeting this May 15 at a location still to be determined at time of print. The chapter plans to host monthly meetings reaching out to the WNY business community. For more information and updated venue information please visit www.bmfbuffalo.com.
Prayer Collective (www.prayercollective.com) wrapped up their first month of worship and prayer “sets” in the Elmwood Village and are moving into month two. The teams collectively lifted up our region in 39 two hour sets of worship and prayer equating to almost 80 hours of prayer. The goal is to continue gathering believers from all denominations to lift up our region in prayer. “The idea is that these gatherings would serve the Church in Buffalo as a Solomon’s Porch type of ministry where daily believers can meet, pray and go back into their communities strengthened and filled with the Spirit,” the founders stated. Meetings take place at 875 Elmwood Avenue and are open to all. But don’t expect to be entertained, the founders say this is Christianity in the raw, prayer, worship, word nothing added.
At 12PM on March 23, a number of Western New Yorkers gathered outside of the Federal Courthouse (2 Niagara Square) to show their support for religious freedom (a fundamental right in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution). This public support for the Constitutional right of religious freedom was timely as it is under the threat of the recent anti-conscience HHS Mandate being pushed by the Obama Administration which forces private citizens and Catholic institutions to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilizations. The rally was not about contraception and it is not about politics but rather is about religious freedom and its vital importance for all people.
Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Jim Cymbala spoke to a gathering of nearly 100 pastors in preparation for Cymbala the upcoming Rock the Lakes Festival with Franklin Graham. Cymbala called on church leaders to pray and get their congregations involved in prayer gatherings. “The church was founded in a prayer meeting,” he stated to pastors on Tuesday March 27. Cymbala also spoke at a Concert of Prayer that same night at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church.
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WITH >> Dr. Al Tizon
Interview conducted at Northeastern Seminary by Kaitlin Harding. Some answers edited for space. For full interview see www.unitemagazine.us
It seems so obvious that we need to reach out. What do you see as the barriers that have kept us from being where we need to be missionally? I think, ultimately, our problem is our propensity to dichotomize. Fundamentally, it begins with the dichotomy between theory and practice. Churches can feel great about theorizing, theologizing, and we can do the practice if we have the time. It’s dichotomizing of things, and even when we get into the nature of mission, dichotomy is still the culprit. Is it evangelism or social justice? It’s both! We have to proclaim, we have to bear witness to the gospel with our mouths, and we have to bear witness to the gospel with our hands and feet. It’s not either/or. That, to me, is why we are where we are. We should be a both/and kind of people. What does missional preaching mean for those of us who aren’t going out into the field? The term missional was precisely to remind people that mission isn’t just sending missionaries off to some exotic land, even though that’s still a legitimate thing to do. There are people called to go to the far away “over there” kind of place, but the missional church, that word is new in the Christian Lexicon, and what’s new about it is that it’s reminding us that we are sent by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are sent by God to be here. The missionary church is a church that sends specialized people to exotic lands. The missional church movement said, “Wait, there’s something missing there. What about us? There’s something more to this; mission. You are missionary, your church is sent right here. You’re sent to be missional here. You mentioned that wisdom is not the same as head knowledge. Do you feel that head knowledge gets in the way of wisdom, or the mission of God? It can, because of that dichotomy of theory and practice. Head knowledge could deceive people into thinking they did something. Because we have all this knowledge, we have all our principles and ideas in a row, and we can organize it, and articulate it; wow! Great! In that sense, yeah, it can be a hindrance to our service in the world, and our mission to the world, which is why I advocate for the word orthopraxy, which is different from orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is right thinking in order to write a doctrinal statement. Orthopraxy is right thinking for the sake of right doing. That, by the way, is a liberation theology term. So, Head knowledge isn’t the same as wisdom because of that. Wisdom, in fact, is practical knowledge. It’s knowledge for life as opposed to knowledge for a degree. You mentioned you got the idea for writing a book about missional preaching because you didn’t really find any books on your shelves that combined all of these things, but what prompted you to focus on it and start learning about it? Two loves did it for me; my love for the church, and my love for the world. You talk about being a missional church, and being a missional person. Is it difficult to be missional on a Christian college campus? There’s certainly need on a Christian campus, but it’s true that we interact with less and less non-Christians. If we don’t do something about that, there could be a time in our lives where we don’t interact with unbelievers at all….That could mean on any given day intentionally getting to know a merchant, somebody in the store, to take the time to talk to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. Write a letter to my congressperson about in issue, it could mean sending an email to a friend who doesn’t know about Jesus, not to talk about Jesus, just to be me. So I’m defining it broadly, but it’s a discipline for me. April/May 2012 www.unitemagazine.us 7
Church on Tap enjoys worship in a bar. Full story on page 11. Photo by Matt Brown
Pastor Tommy Barnett ministers to hundreds of men at Mantime 2012, an annual conference of churches in WNY held at the Adams Mark Hotel. Photo by Matt Brown
Church on Tap meets at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery every Sunday morning. The group is reaching a unique audience and mobilizing outreach. Photo by Matt Brown
Sarah Delling leads a Friday night set at Prayer Collectiveâ€”a regional collectives of musicians and intercessors.
Photo by Matt Brown
Winners of this yearâ€™s Call to Courage Awards breakfast. Photo by Troy Teague
Frank Reich prays at the 11th Annual Call to Courage awards this past March. Photo by Troy Teague Ed Chilungu makes time to sit at the feet of Jesus as part of Prayer Collective. Meetings are at 875 Elmwood Avenue. Photo by Matt Brown
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Church on Tap
Same Message, New Approach By Kyle Patterson Photos by Matt Brown Church in a bar. It happens every week in downtown Buffalo. But, they really aren't there to goof off. Quite the contrary, the 60 or so people that make up Church on Tap, a relatively new church (about 4 years young) that meets at one of Buffalo's most popular bars, Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, are all from different backgrounds, yet have common threads that hold them together—Christ, community and living out their faith incarnationally. Some come seeking, others come wondering, still others are seasoned in their faith and committed to raising their families in God's word. Whatever background they may be from, all have a desire for real community and putting their beliefs into action and by doing so are challenging the status quo of American church life. For the families and individuals who make Church on Tap their home church, it comes down to a matter of values for the predominately young group of 20 and 30 year olds, many with young families. You see they don't even have a staff pastor that they put on the payroll, and it's not that they can't afford it, they purposely decided against it. For this group of believers, it's about doing the most good with what they have been given. Instead of spending church resources paying a pastor and paying for a building and then maybe a bigger building down the road and running building drives for the bigger and better, this church has
chosen to give it all away. And it’s not that Church on Tap believes something is inherently wrong with buildings and staff. It’s just they believe this is what God has called them to do and who can argue with that? Over 80% of what comes in to the church goes right back into the community in one way or another. This model has allowed Church on Tap to support everything from overseas missions, to helping a neighbor in need of a car repair to fixing up an abandoned East Side home. Their model of doing church encourages everyone to participate in the ministry, not just the ones with the most visible gifting of speaking or playing music. The vision is to see the values of Christianity lived out without the constraints that often times come with large building initiatives and six figure pastor salaries. For Jim Sproull, one of the founders and many times the one teaching on Sunday mornings, he experienced church staff cutbacks when his job was eliminated at a mega church. Sproull found himself out of a job after the church made staff changes due to an over budget building project. The church couldn't keep up with the salary demands and Sproull found himself without a job and wanting to rethink church. He began asking some hard questions and defining what he understood from Scripture church to be. It was during this season that Sproull with a couple of friends decided to try a new type of church experience. At first the question was whether to even have a Sunday service, but after consideration they determined it was a must. A paid pastor though they decided to forsake and as for a building? A mutual friend happened to be the manager of Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, “As long as we didn't interfere with business as usual, we were welcome to use it,” explained Erik Eustice, one of the founders of the church and a leader in the community. “The church is composed of people, not a building and not a staff. If the church is truly composed of people that are doing ministry the only way to do that is eliminate the hierarchy of those who get paid to do it and those who watch it, we wanted to change that whole mindset,” explained Sproull. And that is exactly what they are doing. The church is empowering and mobilizing organic forms of outreach and missional strategies to reach into the community including forming a partnership with other East side inner city churches. Even Pearl Street Grill and Brewery is catching on with the formation of a community outreach team from the restaurant that works with Church on Tap to make a difference in the community. For Church on Tap the name is symbolic of what it means to be the church. “On Tap” for them means availability and accessibility. For a Church to be on tap means when there is a need in their growing community, they have the accessibility to hear about it and the means to act, something they pride themselves on and something any church should pause and learn from. Erik Eustice explained, “A lot of it is about accessibility. Access to Christ, access to followers of Christ, access to resources, access to real tangible impactful parts of the kingdom. You aren't just sitting down and saying
OK there are a handful of professionals who we will pay to do ministry and we will watch. It puts you back on the hook and says everybody has a role in this.” And that shared role translates into a high percentage of Sunday morning attenders involved in the weekly ministry. In terms of the bar setting, it wasn't something the church leadership even pursued but when the opportunity presented itself they saw the opportunity to attract people who may never come to a typical church setting. “It’s where life happens, its not removing church from everyday life. It’s a familiar place, we aren't separating church from the rest of our lives. We are intentional about breaking down barriers between the church and the world,” explained Eustice and Sproull in a recent interview. “We are about removing the icons, and removing the wall between paying people to do the ministry and the rest of the people who open their checkbooks to support it. Instead it’s about everyone getting involved.” Church on Tap’s strategy is to utilize the gifts and talents of their members and work together to glorify God, after all they are all in this ministry together. They are raising families, running businesses, starting businesses taking care of their spouses and Church on Tap provides a place to intentionally build relationships with like minded people, enjoy community, have a meal together and encourage one another. Throughout the week various bible studies and play groups for the many young moms are available. Because of this community comes natural because they have committed to doing life together. TJ Stewart started attending Church on Tap with his wife Leslie and young daughter after moving back home to Buffalo from Denver, CO. The Stewarts came out of a traditional church setting and were looking to get connected again locally when they ran into some friends at Church on Tap. TJ explained, “The whole notion of church being a structure was losing its appeal to us. Church wasn't the structure, it is the body of believers. My cousin said come check it out we do church in a bar. Curiosity gets the cat and what I found was close personal connections and in a really personal way demonstrating what the body of believers looks like. The people were friendly and outgoing and love you where your at, and a lot of times big churches have lost that. Here is the thing I realized, when you talk about the big C church of the U.S. there are people who wouldn't be caught dead walking into church in a bar. After going large and being a part of a large church and serving in various capacities, I don't know if I could go back to a big church setting. No bureaucracy, no politics, no one person in charge of it. The body sees a need and the body steps up to fill the need. Everyone chips in and I think it is a close representation of the early church. There is something beautiful in the simplicity.” April/May 2012 www.unitemagazine.us 9
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Five Community Killers of Church Life. By Michael Nieves
In the popular children's story Alice in Wonderland, the main character of the story, Alice, finds herself in many outrageous predicaments. While it seems like she is a victim of the rules of her new and strange surroundings she is actually a willing participant and contributor to her situation by her actions. She follows the rabbit down the rabbit hole, she eats the delicacies left out on tables (one that makes her huge compared to her surroundings, one that miniaturizes her) Every time she follows, munches or moves through a door, she finds herself in yet another pinch. Now I'm all in favor of adventure, taking risks and jumping into the unknown. But in the real world there are activities that God restricts for the good of His children. Not to hinder them but to free them. In the seemingly contradictory economy of the divine, God restricts for the sake of freedom, narrows for the sake of expanding. In church world, local congregations have followed the rabbit down the rabbit hole and found themselves engaged in behavior and practices that hold them back, hurt the Body and disgrace the Kingdom. These practices are clearly sin but the slippery slope that ingrained these practices into the culture of the church was so gradual, churches find themselves imprisoned and they don't know why. In one instance it makes sense to share a piece of information with someone who doesn’t need to know, tell others about a confidential prayer request and mention that latest hearsay. In another instance, it seems OK to stay connected to the group of people that understand you best, that share so much of the same ideas about the church, people, the latest message and not move out of your comfort zone and invite others in. At work it is acceptable to earn your promotion, so why wouldn't you work your way up at church? In the business world it’s all about growth, so why wouldn't the pastor compete with the church down the street for more members? What we are talking about are some of the insidious practices that hold the church back. Sins that creep in behind the scenes, become part of the culture and infects the church with a nearly undetectable disease. Specifically I am talking about five silent killers of the life of the Spirit in local congregations. Political spirit Pride Clicks Gossip Lukewarmness Churches want to grow but it is impossible to grow when they are unhealthy and infected with these illnesses. The problem is most of the time they go on unnoticed, not realizing that as Paul said, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:8). Any sin will certainly infect the healthy tissues of the church and slow growth, hinder it
altogether and ultimately kill it. But God wants freedom. Walk with me as we uncover and expose these killers and find freedom and rest in Christ. Political Spirit A political spirit seeks to say the right things and meet the right people in order to position themselves for the greatest power. In this election year, we are witnessing plenty of politics. The disciples of Jesus were even bit by the political bug. At one point the disciples were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom, the mother of some of the disciples asked for a position of power for her child. Jesus, in response to their request, said that the greatest among them must become a servant. That political spirit grows out of a seed of pride. It is pride that says, “I can do better than the other guy.” It is pride that refuses to submit to leadership and then seeks to subvert it with a political spirit. Didn't the Evil One himself believe that he deserved to be on the throne in heaven and found himself cast out in response to his pride? Jesus knew that the solution for pride and politics would be to take off everything that symbolizes your position of power and immerse yourself in the lowest of tasks for the highest of cause. It is exactly that attitude that Jesus displayed when he washed the feet of His disciples. Clicks Clicks are seemingly wonderful little places. They are safe and comfortable. When you look around at the faces of your click they are similar to yours, they see things the same way as you and they hold similar ideas and positions. Many of our churches have the word “Community” or “Fellowship” in their name. They uphold the idea of relational connectivity. Many churches promote “Small Groups.” At first glance it might almost seem that clicks are the goal. These clicks serve as fertile soil for the unity killing practice of gossip. There are two sides to gossip. Side one is the speaking of gossip, side two is the listening of gossip. Both are needed to wreck relationships, hurt hearts and crush the local church. All too often both are readily available in our churches. There is a primary distinctive between clicks and biblical community. Clicks are exclusive, while community, fellowship and small groups are all inclusive. This changes the entire dynamic. Instead of a closed circle at church following service, the circle is open. Instead of leaning in, the group is looking outward. Instead of talking about the personal business of others in the church, you are looking to protect and serve them. Inclusivity says we are ALL in this together. Exclusivity says, you are an enemy.
Lukewarmness Of course all of the previous practices find their root in this one shameful deficiency lukewarmness. When any Christ follower wanders from the central fuel of intimacy with Christ they will undoubtedly find themselves less enamored with things of God and more intrigued by things of the world. Slowly, a political spirit makes sense; clicks, gossip, pride are comfortable and safe. It doesn't seem so bad because the group affirms the actions. In the increasing darkness of distance between the individual and Christ things don't look so bad. In the increasing cold of distance between the individual and Christ, the warmth of acceptance in the click seems like the best alternative. Of course, this is a total deception and counterfeit. Sadly, churches can find themselves in exactly this spot. And it doesn't stop with congregants only as these habits can work their way up the leadership chain as well. The higher it goes, the worse it is. Solution The solution lies in the most basic response. True repentance. True repentance simply cannot happen without humility. And true repentance always drives the repentant toward the Savior. Humility counteracts pride, intimacy with Christ brings unity with others. While I am sure no one reading this article find themselves in this particular rabbit hole, it is a continual prayer that all would find the pleasure of intimacy with Christ and thereby frustrate the work of the Evil One. No more would the very Body of Christ find itself infected with the cancer of a Political spirit, Pride, Clicks, Gossip or Lukewarmness. My prayer is that the People of God would be as disgusted with these practices as God Himself and flee from them as Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife. May the Bride of Christ be spotless as it does the work of building the Kingdom.
Michael Nieves is Lead Pastor of CenterPointe Community Church. Michael Nieves is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College (Lancaster, Pa) and attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). He planted CenterPointe in 2002. He and his wife, Jillian and three children Miah, Caleb and Jonah are all natives of Western New York. April/May 2012
to do. (We’re trying to be) a ministry that can be utilized by other ministries and other churches in the Buffalo area, and, obviously, Western New York, and, hopefully, across the world – wherever God’s hand leads us.” By putting God first, and pride last, Elmwood Drive has charted a course for true success. “As lowly as we are, He’s able to use us through this gift that He’s given us,” Coogan said. “Every time we get discouraged, we just look back at the letters that we have from some of the youth that we’ve touched and some of the people that we’ve been in contact with, and just realize that there’s obviously a bigger purpose for what our ministry is, and that God’s using us,” he added.
Trust With All Your Heart Article by Josh Maloni Photos by Matt Brown
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6 to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” But most musicians are taught that, if they are to become rock gods, then they must become the God of their own lives – and use their talent for self-gain. 1 Peter 4:10 reads, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Musicians, however, are prompted to value image over substance, and motivated to do whatever it takes to make their names famous. Ezekiel 28 says Lucifer, God’s chief musician, had everything going for him; he was dressed in splendor and strolled in magnificence. He was blessed with talent and invited to share it before God, himself. That wasn’t enough for him, though. Lucifer wanted glory and honor that belong only to God. When he was cast from Heaven, he was told, “Your beauty went to your head; you corrupted wisdom by using it to get worldly fame.” Like Lucifer, many famous musicians have suffered a great fall at the hands of ego. But some bands, such as Buffalo’s Elmwood Drive, have learned that, to effectively serve God’s kingdom, and not falter alongside selfcentered, worldly acts, they have to take a different approach. They must relinquish the one thing we, as humans, hate to give up: control. Early in the recording of “Worship Songs,” Elmwood Drive saw firsthand the merits of Proverbs 3:5-6. The band discovered the rewards of doing things God’s way, and not man’s way. When the group’s producer moved to New York City, Elmwood Drive was faced with a seemingly insurmountable financial challenge. “We were like, ‘Oh, we’ll just go down there,’ ” lead singer Corey Coogan said. 12 www.unitemagazine.us
“Needless to say, after talking to (producer Joseph Secchiaroli), and figuring out studio costs and everything, it was going to be, I believe, a little over $10,000 to be able to travel with the seven-piece band down there, and record and do pre-production and then finish the album. So we had no idea what we were going to do. “It was literally down to the wire. About a week before we were going to go down to New York City, we didn’t have a vehicle. We didn’t have all the funds, and we didn’t know what we were going to do for food. Two of us quit their jobs to go and record. And we just said we were going to do it.” Elmwood Drive decided to trust in God, and not lean on members’ own understanding. “Low and behold, God obviously came through,” Coogan said. “A person let us borrow a van and we got a trailer. The money – we still went down with about half of it, and when we were there we had a donate button on our website. And people were just consistently donating, and we were able to come up with the funds to pay for everything. “It was kind of a miracle that we were able to record everything. If it wasn’t for God’s hand moving, I don’t think we’d have been able to do it.” Elmwood Drive relinquished control, brought the situation before God, and watched as He opened up doors no man could open. “We believe that if our heart’s in the right place, than God is going to take care of everything else,” Coogan said. A seven-piece band, Elmwood Drive has God-given talent and all of the natural tools to “make it” in the music industry. Buffalo United “Rise” organizer Matt Crouch said Coogan, “has the best male worship vocal I’ve heard in a long time. He’s that good.” Fame and fortune could be attained through secular means. But with “Worship Songs,” it’s clear Elmwood Drive is not making music for material gain. “Our goal with the album is to kind of approach the music world in a different angle,” Coogan said. “Our goal is really to approach it more as a ministry rather than as a typical band. So, instead of trying to come up with a name for an album, we just called it ‘Worship Songs,’ because that’s, basically, what our band is trying Coogan, (top left and bottom center) leads Elmwood Drive, a band focused on ministry impacting people for Christ.
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If there is one word that captures the paradoxical cry of the emerging generations it BY DR. ROBERT STEARNS is the word real. They are living in the world of Siri, Reality TV, and a craze of conspiracy theories. If one thing could sum up what youth and young adults today are crying out for, it is something real. Young people are interested in changing the world in a real way. They are intrigued by the myriad opportunities presented to them by the world. These options tell them they can be a part of something exhilarating and momentous. They’re eager to believe and they quickly latch onto the promises of genuine community and personal transformation made to them by such varied outlets as rock bands, websites, urban gangs, self-help books, and your choice of any of the hippest social justice organizations. There is no shortage of passion and ambition within these young people. They might be the most gifted generation, and they are desperate for human connection and yearn for sublime meaning upon which to base their lives. Youth today are smart, perhaps even cynical. They have witnessed the fruitlessness and, sadly, the hypocrisy that has marked much of the Church in the past several decades. They have decided they want something more. The Christian Post reports: “Out of 100 American teens, only three are likely to say they see members of the clergy as role models, according to a survey on teens and ethical decision making.” With overall Church attendance on a steady decline and an aging population of those who still attend regularly, many wonder what the future holds. Research indicates there could be millions of twenty-somethings alive today who were active churchgoers as teenagers but who will no longer be active in church by their thirtieth birthday. What happened? Many within the Church have looked at statistics like these and decided to offer an alternative to traditional church models in order to attract people back into the doors of the Church. In terms of church attendance, they have been largely successful. But is that really the answer? Could it be that what the Church needs to offer the post-Christian world is not something new, but something so ancient, so basic, so intrinsic to our faith, that we have lost it in the frenzy of our modern world? For this very reason I have launched our Internship at Eagles’ Wings. This Ministry Training Program is uniquely designed for 18-30 year old young adults that are passionate about God’s kingdom, making their lives count, and being discipled to live lives like Jesus. We’ve graduated over 150 students from the 9-Month Internship, from over 12 nations. These world changers come to Buffalo to live in our Ministry Community and they are banding together to get involved in International Ministry Impact, changing the world in a real way, touching tens of thousands of lives around the world for Christ. Throughout their 9-month experience, interns are discipled in the Word, character, and prayer, and they gain handson tools to grow in ministry skills. In over 12 ministry departments, interns receive focused ministry assignments and take part in real ministry responsibility. From local outreaches, weekly mentoring meetings, prayer watches, servanthood opportunities, to National Conference ministry trips, they are learning to grow in God. There is a camaraderie within the ministry community as interns journey together during their 9-month internship. Sharing each other's burdens and working together for a common goal is fulfilling. Often they travel with the Eagles’ Wings Team to cities around the country to bring spiritual awakening to metropolitan regions - with Buffalo as their headquarters. This is no easy season, and the idea of consecrating a season to God in this way is by no means new. But, what young adults are finding here is something Real - and it’s ‘take it or leave it’. The real thing costs a real price. The question is, ‘who’s going to respond and give their lives in such a radical way to the One who paid the highest price?’ As I travel around the world I’m excited to see the ever-growing potential in the young adult movement right here in Buffalo . With a growing prayer movement, talented worship teams, and regional unity, there is no stopping what could be done for the kingdom of Jesus right in the region of Buffalo . It’s already happening and this is just the beginning.
Robert Stearns is the founder and executive director of Eagles' Wings, an international relational network of believers, churches, and ministries committed to the lifestyle of biblical spirituality, the unity of the Body of Christ, and God’s enduring covenant with Israel. Robert’s ministry flows out of deep passion for Jesus.
“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful & glorious.” Isaiah 4:2
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
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Harvest Eyes (Part II) “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Luke 24:32
(Continued from UNITE February/March issue) (3)“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out (thrust out) laborers into his harvest.’” Notice the words of Jesus indicate that the greatest challenge of world ministry is not the harvest, but rather the harvesters themselves. Jesus says the harvest “is plentiful.” The word “plentiful” here means very full and manifold. The harvest is huge and God-assured! We bemoan far too much that people are not open. While this can be true, based on this Scripture there is always an abundant harvest awaiting willing workers. We have met the enemy, and the enemy in mission… is us!
BY REV. DR. BOB TICE
This is why we never find an instance in Paul’s letters where he asks his readers to pray for the unsaved. As the great apostolic missionary to the gentile world, Paul repeatedly asks that they pray for him. For Paul, the harvest is the lesser of the two challenges: Paul knew he had a harvest! This is also why Jesus says, “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to thrust out laborers into his harvest.” Harvest eyes will notice two things here. First, despite a harvest waiting for workers, Jesus does not say, “So guys, just dive right into those fields!” Rather he says, “Therefore pray.” Pray first, because communion must always precede commission. Prayer is our declaration of dependence. This is why it is translated in places as, “Supplicate the Lord of the harvest.” Supply, oh Lord! We need you, Lord! Second, harvest eyes will see the words “thrust out” (some translations have “send out”), which mean in the original language “to cast out” or “to vigorously thrust something out with a mighty force.” Part of the original word in Greek sounds like our English word “ballistic.” Of the seventeen other times Matthew uses this word, thirteen of them refer to the casting out of a demon! What must Jesus be telling us when the very same action needed to cast out a demon is needed to move us to ministry!? Oh, may it not be true that believers are as hunkered down in the comfort of their own salvation as ungodly demons are dug-in to those they possess! If we are to be numerous enough to meet the awaiting harvest, then there must arise from within the church a spiritually violent heart-cry. The church must cry out in passionate prayer… to go ballistic! (4) Reproduce the Jesus in Yourself in Others, to Multiply the Harvest Brought in (10:1-2, 5): “Then Jesus called his twelve disciples to him, and he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. …And these twelve Jesus sent out” (10:1-2, 5). Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “The harvest is so big that I’m going to knock myself out and get all the glory for myself.” Rather, his plan for expansion is one of reproducing himself in others and then releasing others into God’s Kingdom. Remember! The harvest is huge, and it demands believers who understand there must be a huge army of harvesters. This requires believers and churches who call and raise up others (10:1a, 2); give these others true authority (10:1); equip them to send them out (10:5-42); plant new churches; and above all, walk in an attitude of humility, cooperation, team-building, broad apostolic vision, and unity in Christ.
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
This applies to every truly committed believer in God’s church, not just to its prominent leaders (and certainly not only to an isolated few at the top). Every believer can nurture and develop somebody else—a Sunday school child, a younger brother or sister in Christ, a struggling friend. In fact, those who have already become true harvest people usually have done so because they have been able to follow a worthy model and are always striving to return the favor with someone else. Harvest people pass it on! And understand this: The “ripple-effect” can change the world!
Oh… for… harvest… eyes! Get the latest schedule updates by scanning this QR code with your smartphone Rev. Dr. Bob Tice is Senior Pastor of RiverRock Church in Buffalo’s West Side. He holds a BS, Houghton College, MA, and ThM Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA) and DMin Northeastern Seminary (at Roberts Wesleyan College).
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Ravi Zacharias believes that over the past forty years movements like New Age spirituality and society's obsession with human potential have combined like a "perfect storm" to redefine for popular culture what has been for centuries the classic biblical definition of the person, work, and teaching of Jesus Christ. In WHY JESUS?, Ravi Zacharias looks at the impact of this "storm" by discussing the 60s-70s popular culture and media influence. Special attention will be given to the influence of Oprah Winfrey's media platform in reshaping society by introducing and promoting certain books and authors. Major new age and human potential tenets will be discussed like: the belief that we are all gods and have to discover our divinity; Jesus was only a good teacher; Christianity is but one among many ways to eternal life; reincarnation is real; Jesus was married; truth is relative; there is no sin; and perfection is possible. The truth of and the arguments for the bodily resurrection of Jesus will be presented as the most important argument for the exclusive claims about Jesus and Christianity. "God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives." Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin. This book will warn you not to get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. It will challenge you to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God your singular passion. If you believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain, read this book, learn to live for Christ, and don't waste your life
“The Hurt & The Healer is a celebration of that moment when these two worlds collide…. the deep need for healing and the God who provides it,” remarks lead vocalist Bart Millard. Produced by Brown Bannister and Dan Muckala, it features signature MercyMe anthems, engaging pop songs and worshipful and intimate moments.
DVD From bestselling and beloved author Stormie Omartian comes a unique collection of prayer insight accompanied by carefully chosen Scripture. Praying the Bible into Your Life gives readers the help they need to draw from God's power, truth, wisdom, and comfort for everyday guidance and decision making. These short but significant prayer starters and verses from each book of the Bible--Genesis to Revelation-encourage readers to seek inspiration from God's Word to enhance and expand their conversations with the Lord. This attractive, compact tool is a wonderful resource for those who want to keep their prayer lives fresh and growing.
Bestselling author Anthony DeStefano begins his creative telling of the beloved Bible story of Christ’s triumphant entry by introducing the young donkey who has yet to realize his important mission. The lowly creature believes he can do nothing noble, but that’s before he meets the Master. Then Jesus said to the donkey, “It’s time that you knew About the great thing That you’re destined to do.” He hears the sad donkey cry, “Just leave me alone and cast me aside. I’m just a poor donkey that no one can ride.” Richard Cowdrey’s colorful illustrations pair beautifully with Anthony’s charming rhymes. Together, they bring this timeless story of the donkey who carries Jesus into Jerusalem to a joyful finish. While especially appropriate as an Easter gift, this year-round story is for all time and for young and old alike.
The Passion: White Flag album was recorded live at the Passion 2012 conference with more than 42,000 university-aged students in Atlanta, GA January 2-5, 2012. This much-anticipated collection of new songs features worship artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels and Kristian Stanfill. The songs reflect the desire of a generation to lay down their lives to live for the renown of Christ.
Having led worship in churches, stadiums and open fields around the world, UNITED’s Live In Miami is the first live album from the band in four years and features 22-tracks all captured during the band’s sold out worship night in Miami.
Four-Time GMA Dove Award Female Vocalist Of The Year Natalie Grant stars in this touching and dramatic movie dealing with family, loss, love and faith. In this uplifting drama, Grant stars as Ilene, a mother struggling to make ends meet after the tragic death of her firefighter husband (Billy Dean). When she begins to lose control of her heartbroken teenage son Jackson (Michael Rosenbaum), she reaches out to her estranged father Wyatt (Rusty Whitener) to take in the troubled boy. Gradually, they form a bond that will require Jackson to find an inner strength he never knew he had to avert yet another family tragedy.
Unflinchingly depicting Jesus’ profound courage and sacrifice, The Passion of the Christ chronicles the last 12 hours of Christ's life on Earth. Exclusive cross with Scripture and witness card inside! DVD collectors’ tin sold only in Christian retail stores. While supplies last. See store for details.
All Books, Bibles, Music, Gifts, and Stationery are available at: Bender’s Parable Christian Store, located at 8550 Sheridan Drive in Williamsville, NY. Open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-9:00pm; Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm. Shop online at: www.ShopBenders.com April/May 2012
Getting Free of Offenses Know Thyself. It has been said by Greek philosophers that inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi are the words, “Know thyself”. I believe that you really don’t begin to know yourself until someone offends you. When you fall into the offense trap, responses you never imagined leak out from your affronted heart. Years ago, I went through a season of picking up one offense after the other. I had reached a point in my life and ministry where I grew tired of being picked on, criticized and abused - so I began piling up offenses like cord wood. Every time someone would offend me, I would simply add them to the list of people who “owed me”, building a fortress around my heart against future injury. This continued until one day, driving in my car, it dawned on me that the list of those who offended me was growing, and that “more occasions of stumbling” would come. That simple realization changed the whole trajectory of my life. Why do we need to talk about offense? Because it is logically impossible that you will never face the trap of offense. One of the best ways God shows us ourselves is by allowing us to experience the unsavory gall of offense. The “offenders” are usually those we love most —those we trust and have taken into confidence. Psalm 55 echoes the cold reality that the offense is no stronger than your level of intimacy with the person. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. Ps 55:12-14 NIV From God’s point of view when He exposes you to the possibility of offense, it is a test to see if you will walk in forgiveness and freedom. From Satan’s perspective, it is to bring you into bondage by not forgiving. A person does not have to be demonically possessed or oppressed to be bound, just offended. In fact OFFENCE means “trap,” or “stumbling block” or, “cause of ruin” [i]. If Satan can lead you to stumble and get caught in the offense trap, he can then keep you in a perpetual state of unforgiveness, successfully imprisoning you. No good ever comes out of offense - Only broken relationships, resentment, stunted growth, and darkened understanding. These things cripple the heart and life, leaving us in a continual cycle of spiritual infancy. An offense makes you stuck and unable to move forward with your hopes and dreams. What reinforces our “stuckness" is the unwillingness to let go of the entrenched idea that ‘I was wronged” or “I have a right to feel this way until they ask for forgiveness”. Yet in no biblical scenario does God ever condone anyone holding back forgiveness. This is pride, and it galvanizes 18 www.unitemagazine.us
By Lou Perez
our imprisonment, reinforcing the bars that hold us. When offended, impregnable prison walls are erected with unforgiveness becoming the brick and mortar for everything we build. The offended will say things like, “I don’t trust that person because they remind me of someone who hurt me”, “I don’t want to get involved in that ministry because I was hurt once”, or “No one will ever hurt me again”. The Legality of it All. How justified are we? Does a person who was genuinely mistreated have the right to be offended? Is every case different based on severity? If there was one man who had the legal right to be offended, it was Joseph. Joseph was a man whose dream became a nightmare. His brothers were jealous of him. In their jealousy, they threw Joseph into a pit. They took him out of the pit and sold him into slavery. Just when things seem to be looking up, he gets accused by his master’s wife of rape and thrown in prison. Joseph could have allowed his primordial feelings to shape his thoughts: He could have been tempted to think, “Is this my reward for faithfulness and integrity? This is all because of what my brothers did to me” or “ I wouldn’t be in prison if it were not for that demonic women”. Instead of Joseph springing the trap of offense, he chose to walk around it and into his Destiny. David was not far behind Joseph. When persecuted by King Saul, instead of feeding the dark side of offense, he blessed Saul. When Saul died, David did not celebrate, but mourned, condemning anyone who celebrated. He even composed a song in honor of Saul - (“How the mighty have fallen”). He went as far as to show kindness to Saul’s children by putting a roof over their heads and welcoming them to his table (2 Samuel 1:14-15). No one in the Bible who thought they had a “legal” right to offense ever took it. The Scary Part
We have ingenious ways of burying things deep inside us. A person can continue functioning in a bitter, offended spirit and not even know it. Their life can continue moving on relatively well. Their gifting and talents can continue giving them a sense of security - But deep under the surface grow gnarling roots that have been drinking in poison. Spiritual Drifters: When being offended becomes someone’s habit and culture, they turn into a spiritual wanderer - One who goes from place to place avoiding pain, relationships, and accountability. These Drifters becomes self-centered and untrusting of anyone. This is how Abele’s brother Cain became a vagabond. God told Cain, “Sin (Offense) crouches at the door (Genesis 4:3). Instead of running to God to fix it, Cain went from God’s presence and built a city. According to Jacques Ellul in The Meaning of the City, a city symbolized man’s independent achievement apart from God (Genesis 4:11-12). Like Cain, everything the Drifter does becomes twice as hard because like running one’s hand against the splintery grain of a wood plank, he is going against God’s grain. All that was once smoother under blessing, is now cumbersome under a curse. The Only Way Out of the Prison If we are to be free, we must see our true condition through God’s eyes. When I finally saw my spiritual state from God’s point of view, I became appalled at the sight. “We have not seen our sins aright, until we have seen them against God” J.R. Plummer The crucial decision you must make is this: will I walk into
“If we are to be free,
our CONDITION THROUGH
the trap of offense, or move around it and into my destiny? A man in conversation with John Wesley once made the comment, "I never forgive." Wesley wisely replied, "Then, sir, I hope that you never sin”. [i]
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1036). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
Lou and Louisa Perez both grew up in New York City and met in the first Church Lou pastored in Schenectady, NY. In 1999 they started Destiny Christian Church in Niagara Falls with the vision of taking Church outside the four walls. Visit their website at www.destinychristianniagara.com.
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By Ray Kraus theyin alsoUs, may bethat one in Us, that the world may believe You sent Me. You John 17:21b That they also may be That one the world may believe sent Me 1
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DIANE PADDISON is a wife and mother of four, an accomplished executive COO for two Fortune 500 companies, author of Work, Love, Pray, a Harvard graduate and a faithful child of God.
Cross t Words 50
by Ray Kraus
That they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe You sent Me. John 17:21b 30
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