05-27-12 Sunday Main

Freedom from/Freedom to: Freed to Love VIII.mp3

Stir it up! – PDF

Key Texts:

  • Deut. 30:6
  • II Thess. 3:5
  • Luke 15:1-7 (lost sheep)
  • Luke 15:8-10 (lost coin)
  • Luke 15:11-32 (lost son – prodigal)


This week we simply reviewed and added to last week’s message.

We are now on our 8th week of teaching on the love of God and we have not even begun to scratch the surface of what needs to be covered.


In these examples we can see both ourselves and our Father God. The truths revealed in these parables speak to the point and purpose of creation itself and allows us to peer into the very heart of God.

Jesus goes out of His way to state the same truth via three separate parables in which every social order and gender is addressed. He wanted NO ONE to escape the importance of this lesson.


So what was the lesson?

– You are valued, love and pursued by God.

– By “you” I mean – you specifically! Not just anyone, but you!

– God knows the 1 sheep as distinct from the other 99.

– He knows you as distinct from those He simply runs into on the hillside.

– He knows YOU and deliberately drops everything in pursuit of YOU!


Of course you understand that God does not have to “stop everything” in order to pursue you – any more than He has to leave the 99 in order to go and pursue the one.

God is omni-PRESENT and omni-POTENT. He is the ultimate multitasker!

Jesus used this example to deliberately stress your importance to God.


You are known and worthy of pursuit!


These are the statements Jesus makes of our status before God. He does not white wash our brokenness or our wasteful (prodigal) self pursuits.

In fact, He deliberately brings up our being pursued and valued in the middle of a story ABOUT OUR WASTEFUL SELF PURSUITS.


Why did He do this?

To stress that it is not about what you’ve done, but about Who He is.

He created YOU fully aware of the fall – YOUR fall!

God knew that on the day He breathed His life-giving breath into the clay that was mankind – He was as good as dead…and He did it ON PURPOSE ANYWAY!

So in a manner of speaking, you were designed for pursuit.

Don’t get me wrong – you were not designed for the fall, but for pursuit.


Marriage is a picture of the Divine romance. In that example we flesh out in the drama of our every day lives – God is represented by the Husband/Father.

What were Adam’s words concerning his union with his bride?

“….she is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone”

She is LIKE me.

She is compatible with me!

She was made FOR me!

 God said that we were made in HIS IMAGE, the desire He placed in Adam for Eve was a representation of His insatiable love and desire for us.

“For this reason a MAN shall leave and cleave (to stick with & pursue) his wife”

She is wonderful!

I long for her fellowship!

I desire her company!

I find delight in her!

I adore her!

God will never leave us or forsake us (He clings) and He pursues us all the days of our lives.

This notion of being loved and pursued does not require the wife to play hard to get. It is a condition of being.

God, loves His creation and it makes no sense that He wouldn’t – because He designed us – knowing the fall would happen.

He did not design us so that the fall would somehow make us unworthy of His pursuit! (That would be poor planning  on His part.)

 A flawed design implies a flawed Designer!


Remember the words to the song I am new’  by Jason Gray….

“Who I thought I was and who I thought I had to be

I had to give them both up

’cause neither were willing to ever believe

I am not who I was, I’m being remade

I am New

I’m chosen and holy and I’m dearly loved

I am new

too long have I lived in the shadows of shame

believing there was no way I could change

but the One Who is making everything new

doesn’t see me the way that I do!”

I Am NEW.mp3 [Sample]


More to the story…

The story never ends with ‘US’ as the focal point.

God’s word tells us we should not deceive ourselves into thinking we live in a microcosm of one. Where our lives revolve around our own perceived experience.

This is perhaps realized in no greater why than in our subjective views of religious fulfillment.

If you “feel” close to God, and yet hold unforgiveness or bitterness or hatred against your brother, you are deceived about your intimacy with God. To draw near to God IS to draw near to your brother. You cannot choose between them because God is one with them too.

  • I Jn. 2:9,11
  • I Jn. 3:15
  • I Jn. 4:20

This is important because so many of us live from our emotions. We decide whether we are close to God or far away (not in actual distance, but in relation to intimacy) based upon our emotions. However, you can “feel” close and yet be walking in darkness and outside of fellowship. This is why God warns us to not be deceived.



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!