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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 6
Right Standing Before God

A part the church's objective is that when you one day stand before God, you will be able to give a good report. One role of the church is to help you be a success, to help you stand before God and give a good report. 1 Cor 3:12-15 says, "Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone's work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames."

In short, the Bible says that our life is filled with investment: investments of our time, investments of our talents, investments of our skills, of our abilities, investments of our money, our resources. We are going through life investing all of these things. And one day God is going to hold us accountable for what we do with what we have. One day you are going to cross that realm and enter into the glory. Some of the things you've invested in will have eternal value, the gold, the silver, the jewels. Some things will go through the fire and when you get on the other side of eternity, they will stick with you and stay with you forever and ever. But, there are other things we have invested in ourselves and they will be burned up and gone when we get on the other side. How are you going to spend eternity?

Some people think they are bad enough just to make it. God says "Listen, there are a lot of things, if you'll invest yourself into, that will last forever." Therefore we will be held accountable for the choices we make and how we live our lives.

The church has a role in helping with that process of accountability, so that you will finish well. Our role is help you realize that God's will for your life does not wrap around you. It wraps around Him so that you can become His channel of blessing. It is a major paradigm shift for people, I know. But it's supposed to be wrapped around Him and Who He is. It's all about Him! It's all about Jesus! Therefore, there is an accountability for following the plan. We will be accountable when we stand before God's throne. And in order to help prepare us for that, the church needs to begin to hold us accountable while we are still here on this earth. That way, if we start to take a wrong turn, there is someone to let us know and to help us get back on the path.

One of the things the church needs to do is to help people prepare for their destinies. That often involves the restoration of life for wholeness. God is going to hold you accountable for that plan but the church's job is to help you to do that plan. Therefore, there's going to have to come a process where you can do it. That process is what we call "restoration." In other words, you need to come to that place where you can do what God has called you to do, and the church needs to help you to begin to look like Jesus, so you can do what Jesus did. That is the objective of this restoration process. It is to transform your fallen nature and your faults and failures and past hurts, so you can begin to look more like Jesus and less like you the old you.

Romans 8:29 says, "For God knew His people in advance and chose them that they might look His Son." Therefore, the church has an agenda, but it happens to be God's agenda, so it's okay. If God wants you to look like Jesus, then what should the church do about it? It must help you look like Jesus, to become like Him. The church needs to do whatever it takes for you to look like Jesus. I love John Wimber, one of the founding fathers of the Vineyard movement. He said, "Our job is to take people wherever they are and make them thoroughly Christian."

Along with that, the church needs to help you come into wholeness. We have various ways that that happens. Sometimes, we are very kind about this and encourage them gently: "Come on in, the water's fine. You can wade in. Yes, wade in here, ooh yes, ooh yes. Doesn't that feel good?" Other times, the church needs to be a bit more forceful with a person, to sort of shove them into that water instead of trying to coax them in. Whatever it takes to help you, that is what the church needs to be willing to do for you. That is because God has given us an agenda to be like Jesus.

Eph 4:13 says "the work must continue until we all are joined together in the same faith and the same knowledge of the Son. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ, having His profession." This is restoration. Restoration is simply to become like the Lord Jesus Christ.

The world out there is full of hurting and broken people, isn't it? You do not have to go too far to find them. You live with them. They live next door to you. They live behind you. They live around you. You work with them. I mean, the world is filled with hurting and broken people! We will always have something to do because the world is filled with them. These are people who have somehow gotten "off track."

Our job is to help people get back on track. Not only does the world hurt, bruise, and batter people; but the church does a very good job of that, too. There are a whole lot of wounded soldiers who have been beat up and battered by their own churches.

God is calling His church to be a place where people can find healing instead of a place which damages them. One of the best ways to do this is to simply start where people are, not where we want them to be. And a good way to accomplish this is to provide a healing environment. In other words, the church becomes a place of acceptance, a place with a measure of tolerance, without compromising the standards and the principles of God. It just loves people where they are. It is simply allowing people to be in process, allowing people not to be perfect. It is allowing people to make mistakes, allowing people to fail. Moreover, it is helping them work through the process.

If you do not have that kind of environment, then nobody really gets healed, because everybody will hide their stuff so they won't get beat up for having it. You can only get healed when things are brought into the light. Therefore, if it has not brought you to the light, you are not going to be healed. If you have an environment where it is not safe to be "in process," or if people can't be who they are with what's going on in their lives, then they are not going to get the help they need from God.

If the church is not a safe place to grow and develop, then a person will go to church and put on their "church face." When they are asked, "How are you doing?" they will reply, "Oh, I'm just doing wonderful. Don't you think God is great? Oh, yes He is!" But inside, they just feel horrible, and things are falling apart. But, they don't dare tell anyone because others might think they are unspiritual. Others will think that the person doesn't have the goods. So they want everyone to always think that they are a good Christian. So they say, "Oh, great! Things couldn't be better!"

Why don't they just say, "This week stinks! I've been going through Hell at home and you wouldn't believe what I've been facing here." Many churches make it very difficult to be honest about this type of thing. They make it difficult for the hurting person to get some prayer for their problems. We need to make church a safe place where hurting people can be real and transparent, and get help for their problems instead of having to hide them. We need to have a place where they can say, "God, I'm in this mess. I've messed up," and know that people will love them and accept them even though they have failed.

There is another thing about restoration: restoration has to permit healthy confrontation. I know that word "confrontation" is a bad word for some of you and you would like to run from it. You don't want anything to do with confrontation, because primarily all you know is unhealthy confrontation. Therefore, you label all confrontation as "bad." However, there is a place for righteous, holy confrontation. In fact, there is supposed to be a climate in the church that's conducive for that. That is what the word of God says. In 2 Tim 4:2 Paul is speaking to Timothy and says, "Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction."

Some people hang onto the words "reprove" and "rebuke." But did you see the words "with great patience and instruction?" Some people just miss that part. There is a reason and purpose behind godly confrontation. It will help people to grow, help them to develop; it is not just about pointing out their mistakes. It is there to help them move to the next level. It will help them to mature, and that is the reason we do it.

I will tell you this: you will not grow without confrontation. You won't. Church is not to be a "confrontation free zone." However, the rule in the house is that all confrontation has to be in love, because when love is present, there is safety. For 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."

Let me say it again: a "safe place" is not a place free from confrontation, but free from condemnation. Sometimes during a confrontation, someone might say, "I'm not feeling very safe right now." With me, people do not always feel safe. So, I ask the question, "Do you feel confronted or do you feel condemned?" If you feel confronted, I say, "Good. I have done my job." If you feel condemned, I have to check my heart and ask myself if there is something coming from me that is condemning. Healthy and godly confrontation will never condemn the person.

Most of the time, when the person feels condemned, it is because they have perceived what was said through their filters, because they have an unloving spirit and do not feel loved, a spirit of self-condemnation, self pity, all of the things that simply feed into that. But people won't grow without confrontation, they just won't. So part of the restoration process has to include godly and healthy confrontation that moves the person in the right direction.

That is what the restoration process is about: helping people get off the wrong path and start moving in the right direction.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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