This Sunday in my message at South Bay Church I taught about forgiveness and gave several key characteristics about forgiveness.  I have listed below a brief recap of the main idea of the Scripture passage I used, the concepts I taught about forgiveness, and the key characteristics.  If you would like to listen to my message you can download it on the South Bay Church website under the Media tab or you can listen by clicking HERE.  The message is in the One Life series and is titled “Regret Free Relationships.”

The passage studied is Matthew 18-21-35, when Jesus is teaching the disciples about forgiveness through a parable (a story used to communicate a spiritual truth).  Jesus gives the main point of the parable in 18:35, which can summed up in four words: “Forgiven People, Forgive People.”

What is forgiveness?  I asked this question and answered it with this statement: “Forgiveness is a vertical commitment followed by a horizontal transaction.”  (This concept is taken from “What Did You Expect??” by Paul Tripp.  This is a fantastic book for any married couple and I highly recommend it.  Click HERE for the ChristianBook.com link.)

  • Vertical Commitment – This is the idea of first bringing the offense to God and allowing him to be the one who takes care of the judgement.  This MEANS that we no longer carry the wrong in the form of bitterness, nor do we seek personal retaliation against the other person.  This DOES NOT MEAN that the person who has wronged us gets let off of the hook and is not accountable for their actions.  We must first come to God to allow him to work on our heart, so that we can go to the person who has wronged us with a heart and attitude that is kind, patient, loving, merciful, and filled with grace.  This only happens when we start with God.
  • Horizontal Transaction – This is the act of going to the other person to relationally forgive them.  This can only come after we have gone to God first (vertical).  In this process we come to them with a right heart and attitude to seek reconciliation in the relationship.  The goal is that the other person will confess and ask for forgiveness then allowing us to forgive them.  However, there may be times where the other person will not admit their wrong and the process seems incomplete.  If this happens you must remember that you are not responsible FOR them, but you are responsible TO them to hold them accountable.  You cannot change them, but you can do your part.

Characteristics of Forgiveness:  Many people have misconceptions about forgiveness and I listed these key characteristics with the goal that people will begin to understand what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not.  (Many of the characteristics on this list came from an article written by Rose Sweet.  Click HERE to view her article.)

  • We forgive every time.
  • We forgive even if they don’t repent.
  • We don’t always have to tell someone we forgave him or her.
  • Forgiveness starts with a conscious decision.
  • Forgiveness does not mean we let the offender off the hook.
  • Forgiveness is not letting the offense recur again and again.
  • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling.
  • Forgiveness is not based on the other party’s actions, but on out attitude.
  • Forgiveness is not needed for accidents.
  • Withholding forgiveness is a refusal to let go of perceived power.

All of these statements and characteristics about forgiveness are great principles to be implemented into any relationship, however they can never be fully implemented until you have had a life changing encounter with Jesus.  The Bible teaches us that we forgive because God has forgiven us through Jesus, when we place our faith in him.  You can work to implement these principles in your relationships, but you must first answer the question: “Have I personally experienced the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ?”

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Doing Ministry in Teams!

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

I am still pretty inexperienced when it comes to leading in ministry.  I may have a Master’s degree from seminary, but that doesn’t mean that I have experience, just head knowledge!  But one of the big lessons in leadership in the church I have learned over the past year is the concept of doing ministry in teams.  I am convinced that raising up teams and leaders is one of the most important things I can give my time too.

Here are a few key lessons I have learned in putting together teams:

  • If I don’t raise up teams and other leaders then I will be the one that keeps my ministry from growing because I will become the hang up for getting things done.
  • My effectiveness is increased by bringing in more people to accomplish the work.  I can get more done in a ministry with others involved than I ever would by myself.
  • I must delegate responsibilities not tasks.  When I delegate responsibilities those on the team take ownership over their area.  They take the responsibility and as long as it is a good match for their wiring they will thrive.  Only giving out tasks keeps me to hands on.  This leads to burn out on a volunteers side, frustrations for both parties, and it keeps people relying on me instead of learning to make the call themselves.
  • Be up front with someone about the ministry responsibilities and expectations before they join your team.
  • Debrief with the new team member after they serve or have served a few times.  Find out how things are going.  What do they need from you?  Is the position still a fit?  Is there anything that has come up they were not expecting?  By asking these questions you can make sure the position is a fit for the person, which is beneficial for both parties because if the position is a mis-match it will lead to frustrations on both sides.
  • Hold people accountable to a high level of excellence, even if they are a volunteer.  In order to do this you must inspect what your team is doing.  There is a saying, “People don’t do what you expect, but what you inspect!”  Even with volunteers you can call them to a higher standard by inspection and clear communication of expectations.
  • Work with people to help find the best place for them to serve, which may mean creating a somewhat tailored position.  Everyone has different gifts, passions, and availability.  You may find someone can fill a spot you hadn’t even thought of having someone do, but it allows you let them take that area to the next level.  Be creative in your volunteer placement when necessary!
  • One of the most important things is: If I do everything myself I am robbing others of knowing the joy of using their gifts and leadership skills for Jesus.  Bill Hybels writes in Volunteer Revolution (Great Book!) that people serve at companies and corporations all week with no fulfillment, but serving at the church is where they find the maximum fulfillment because they are able to use their gifts for God to impact others.  Don’t rob people of this opportunity!

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  I have been thinking about this the past couple of days as Kendall and I have been able to spend some time in The City (San Francisco).  If you walk around and look at people of every gender, race, and social class you can’t help but see the effects of sin.  Now, you can see these effects everywhere you go, but they are especially prevalent in San Francisco.

As we walked and saw the homeless or those whose faces communicate hurt, I just kept thinking about what Proverbs says.  Foolishness and sin lead to death.  The man who walks down that path will face the consequences and regrets of his choices.  In Proverbs 7 Solmon even says that man who commits adultery is like an ox being led to the slaughter.  Moses said your sin will find you out (Numbers 31:23).  The consequences of sinful choices can be seen – they are not hidden.  You may be able to cover them up for a time, but they will come out and be seen by all!

So many times people think the Bible is a list of rules that lead to a boring life or they keep them from living a life in the way they think is right.  In reality, the only way that we live a life without regrets is by living in obedeince to the Bible.  God created us and knows what we need better than we do, and out of his love he has given us the way to have life!

People live in a way that seems right to them, but in reality any time we live in a way that disregards the commands of God it leads to death, pain, sorrow, guilt, and regret.  There may be pleasure for a season, but it does not last.

One of our core values at South Bay Church is, “We live and risk all for the King and His Kingdom.”  We strongly believe that we are to live with a sense of complete abandonment for Jesus.  This simply means that we are willing to abandon our comfort, will, and even desires to obediently follow Him.  We are willing to lay it all out on the line for Jesus and we seek to expand His Kingdom not just our organization.

This past week I was reading in Luke 9 when I was struck with a verse that immediately brought this value to mind.   In Luke 9:23-27, Jesus is describing the cost of being one of His followers.  He just told the disciples He will one day be killed and if they want to follow after Him they must even be willing to face death.  Jesus literally tells them you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily.  In case you don’t know when someone took up their cross it meant they were carrying it to the place where they would be nailed to it and crucified!  Can you imagine the weight the disciples must have felt at the words of Jesus?

However, Jesus continues by saying, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.”  Wow!  Think about this… Jesus is saying if you try to save your life you will ultimately lose it!  What He is saying is this: If you are trying to save your earthly life by denying Him or seeking to be comfortable then you will end up losing both your earthly life and your eternal life.  By seeking to save your life here on earth you forfeit eternal life with Christ in heaven for eternal condemnation in hell!  We know this because Jesus goes on to say, “What good is it to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self (soul)?  If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and in the glory of the holy angels.”

We live and risk all for the King and His Kingdom because that is what Jesus demands from us as His followers.  We must not be ashamed or afraid to follow Him, but we must be willing to follow Him even to the point of death.  Obeying Jesus, the King, and seeking to advance His Kingdom is so much more important than anything else we could ever give our lives for.

Are you trying to save your life, or are you laying it all out on the line for the King and His Kingdom?

Being a Pastor: What a Privilege!

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Ministry

The past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about what a privilege it is to be a pastor.  This began one day when I started thinking about what an honor it is to help develop people for Jesus.  My primary role as a pastor is to help people begin a relationship with Jesus and help them grow to live a Christ-centered life.  How cool is that?  I also get to walk with people through some of the best times of their life (weddings, new babies, etc.), and through some of the hardest times of their life (loss of a loved one, marriage struggles, etc.).  I have the opportunity to help people grow into leadership positions in the church, and to learn to use their giftings and passions to impact others for Jesus.  I have the opportunity to help lead others in ministry, to teach and preach the Word of God, and to share the Gospel, which is the only thing that changes a life!

I hope and pray that I never stop realizing my primary role is to develop people for Jesus, not develop programs!  In the midst of all of the busyness of ministry and life I must keep this at the forefront.  This is not always easy but it is necessary.  If you are in ministry and you are reading this, don’t ever neglect developing people for Jesus.  Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in the details of ministry (emails, meetings, programs, planning, etc.) that you don’t focus on loving and leading people.  If you focus on developing people your ministry will grow and you will have a greater impact in the kingdom.  Oh… and don’t ever forget how privileged you are to serve as a pastor and to help people know and grow in a relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior!

 

I used to be a Twitter hater.  It’s true!  I used to think why would anyone want to use Twitter.  I mean seriously, no one cares what you’re doing every second of the day, who you ate lunch with, what you’re reading, and when you’re going to bed.  Maybe as you read this you’re like me in your thinking about Twitter, social networks in general, and anything involving technology.

I say all of that to let you know that I am now a Twitter user and a Twitter lover.  Trust me this took some time and I needed a little convincing as to why using Twitter could be beneficial.  I ultimately hold Jason Gaston (a friend and youth pastor from NC – follow him on Twitter @JasonGaston) responsible for getting me hooked on Twitter.  Through one of our conversations he let me know some of the ways Twitter can be helpful and since then I have learned more ways Twitter is helpful and beneficial, especially in a ministry leadership role.

Here are three of my reasons for now embracing Twitter:

1. Twitter is a Resource Tool: By following some great pastors and Christian leaders I have learned of new books, blogs, conferences, and websites that are extremely useful and help me grow as a follower of Jesus, pastor, and leader.

2. Twitter Expands my Influence: As a pastor and church leader Twitter is another avenue that I can help people learn about a relationship with Jesus.  Twitter is like a “mini-blog” that is read by a lot more people than my blog.

3. Twitter is Great for Marketing: With Twitter I can get the word out about church events, youth group events, and other important subjects that I want a great mass of people to know about.  Twitter is great because with one tweet people can read it on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog.

Go ahead…give Twitter a shot!  But be careful not to over use the new resource at your finger tips.  Remember, people still don’t care about what you ate for lunch, who you’re talking to, and when you’re going to bed; but you can use Twitter as a great way to promote Jesus, church events, and even keep people up to date on important things happening in your life.  Happy Tweeting!

Follow me on Twitter (@DavidHibiske)!

I am amazed at how fast a year can go by, and I can’t believe that today is Christmas Eve.  When I was growing up I never believed my parents when they said, “When you grow up time goes by a lot faster!”  As you probably know, when you’re  in middle school time seems to almost be standing still, but as an adult you just want things to slow down a little.

We become so busy with work, family time, church meetings, Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, and from time to time trying to get some sleep that it’s easy for us to neglect taking the time to focus on Jesus leading up to Christmas.  What often happens is we claim “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” with our mouths, but our time, focus, and checkbooks say something different!

Be sure to take some time today and tomorrow to think about God’s love for you and to thank Him for the gift of Jesus.  I was thinking this morning how the Lord and Savior of all mankind stepped out of heaven to be born of a virgin.  The very One through whom everything was created was dependent upon His creation (Mary and Joseph) to feed Him, bathe Him, change His dirty diapers, and to provide for His needs as a child. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant to mankind for the sole purpose of one day going to a cross in order that we, through faith in Him, might be reconciled to the very God who created us.  Jesus came to us, so that we could come to Him!

Don’t let yourself be consumed with consumerism, gifts, credit card debt, and Christmas party burnout; but let yourself be consumed with thoughts, rejoicing, and thankfulness to God for the greatest gift ever given. Take time by yourself, with your family, and with your friends to recall the amazing love of God that was displayed by a baby born in a stable and placed in a manger that would one day become the Savior of the world by facing death on a cross.  God loves you and the fact that Jesus came, died, and rose again is proof!