01-08-2012 Sunday Morning

Freedom from/Freedom to: Freedom to Serve in Love
Stir it up! PDF

Key Text:Gal. 2:11-5:13

Mark shared how he had been struggling since early November with some the lethargic responses he had been seeing in our church family.  Nothing worthy of the “sin” label necessarily, just an approach to life, faith & church that was with a slack hand. As he had these thoughts he wondered – “Have I pressed the fact of our freedom in Christ too much?

Then he began to think that it was probably due to questions like these that the “preachers” of a century ago began to create “Bible based  to-do lists” in order to guide the people from selfishness in their freedoms into dedication WITH their freedoms. These lists however, were not the answer because they have resulted in so much bondage, shame, “mask wearing” (false fronts) and glib, patterned answers to spiritual issues. It has become another form of Law to be “UNDER”. The intensions were probably good, but clearly the end results reveal how the methods were misguided.

So then Mark asked the Lord, “How then do you rejoice in and enjoy your freedoms in Christ, without becoming lethargic, selfish and slack?” The answer came in the form of a reminder of the life and letters of our beloved Apostle Paul. He had to deal with both sides of the spectrum, and wrote letters addressing these issues. In the end, when Paul new his children int he faith were slipping into lethargy or lawlessness, he encouraged them with a stirring towards Grace – he never condemned them. This beautiful pattern, clearly revealed in scripture does not play down the sinfulness of sin, nor overlook it’s deadly consequences. In fact, Paul often reminds them of the very warnings he gave them about sin while he was physically with them. In the end though, the answer is to do as Paul did,

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” ~ Gal. 2:17-21 NKJV

It is from these thoughts, that this series of teachings came from…



Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!