Because we’ve danced together – done some life together – doesn’t mean we have the same perception. Because we are both Christians doesn’t mean we have the same perception. Each of us will have the opportunity to alter someone’s perception this year toward Jesus Christ and toward Life Gate Church. What perception do YOU WANT our area to have of Life Gate in 2010? How much can you help their perception?
It’s 2010. The number ten is one of the perfect numbers in the scriptures. Ten shows completion of a series of numbers and the commencing of a new series of numbers. It’s also a transition number. 2010 completes 2000 through 2009, but also transitions into the next decade. Noah was ten generations from Adam, but Noah completed one series of time and commenced a new time in the earth. There were ten plagues on Egypt, but the tenth – Passover – completed that phase of time for God’s people as it commenced a whole new time. Jesus told ten kingdom parables showing the completion of the old and commencing a new.
There is going to be something special about 2010. I am believing God will 2010 you. God is going to complete the old, transition, and commence a new wonderful time in your life.
God constantly changed the times in the scriptures. He hasn’t stopped. If we are going to experience God’s best, we must change as he changes the times. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE CHANGE WITH THE TIMES. Successful organizations change with time. Successful churches change with time. They constantly evaluate where they are and what they are doing. People, organizations, churches, etc make adjustments, improve, and are more effective. If you’re going to be successful, you must stay open for God’s change.
In your coming days, don’t be surprised if God brings new opportunities across your path. Be open for something new – new carrier, new position, etc. Be on the lookout for the old to complete and the new to commence.
Change should be embraced. You heard about the man from the mountains finding himself in a large city and for his first time standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old woman hobbled on, and the elevator doors closed. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched off. The man yelled to his youngest son, “Billy, go get your mother.”
Many people only want to talk about the “good old days.” I have some better news for you. God has some GOOD NEW DAYS for you. If you think about it, the “good old days” weren’t so good. You went through a lot of disappointments. It’s time for some GOOD NEW DAYS. It’s time to 2010 it.
I believe God wants to 2010 Life Gate. One reason Life Gate has been successful is we have always embraced what we saw God doing in time. We began what is now Life Gate in 1986 for the very reason of embracing what God was doing new in time in church. We wanted a worship experience that was relevant meaning more contemporary than traditional. We said at the beginning if we were going to be traditional like every other church then why begin a new church. God was doing a new thing with praise and teaching. We wanted that. I taught…
Psalm 150:1-6 Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
In our many years, we have praised God in all those ways and we were heavily criticized and condemned. No other church around here was doing that. I received phone calls about the music we played and songs we sang. “That music is of the devil,” I was told. “You are going to hell if you keep those drums in your church.” Ironically, today, every church around here is doing exactly what those same churches criticized and condemned us for doing years ago.
We wanted good fresh teaching straight out of the Bible, not from the doctrines of men.
Mark 7:7-8 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…
Was I criticized and called a heretic because of my teaching? My teachings concerning the Book of Revelation, the rapture, the great tribulation, etc labeled us with a not so favorable label. However, so far, I’m still right and we are still here. Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions.”
We would love to have a new building, but felt God kept us here to show his redemption. We took the old “Bible building” (Sam Bible owned it) and made it one of the most beautiful buildings in town. Our grounds are kept. Our building is nice. Life Gate’s had the same senior pastor for 24 years. That’s nearly unheard of. I am now (if correct) the senior pastor in our area. That says a lot about me and you.s
Many of you were not here in our early years. You didn’t develop the “tough skin” and “immune system” some of us developed. Life Gate exists because many developed those things. We literally laid down our lives for this church to exist. We all get to benefit from that now.
However, because we do not have Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc on our sign, because we do things differently/biblically, because we have experienced a degree of success, we, in a small Bible belt area, “must be cult” according to our critics. We are frequently referenced as “that church.” You may have heard something along those lines, but was Jesus or Paul a Baptist or Methodist?
I want to share a few true stories. If they were not sad they would be funny. Actually, they are sadly funny. A parent of a woman who attends here once said to her husband, “I hear the preacher takes all the members paychecks, pays their bills, and gives them back what is left.” The husband thought at first his father-in-law was joking, but he wasn’t. He said, “I wish to goodness that was true. I would love it if he would pay my bills and give me money to spend.” The father realized how ridiculous what he said sounded. (Have you ever heard me say/teach anything remotely close to that?)
One of the craziest things we heard was concerning interpretive dance (Psa 150). Someone said, “I heard you have naked altar dancers at ‘that church.'” The person replied, “You are kidding, right? If we had naked altar dancers, we would have men lined up to get in.”
I can’t help but wonder how in the world people come up with those things? They know before they say such hurtful accusing things they are not true. I could go on with crazy insane things people say about Life Gate and me, but why. However, they have created a perception.
Why am I opening this up? God wants to change the PERCEPTION of Life Gate in 2010 and I want you ready and armed. Let’s do an experiment. Look at this picture. What do you see? (Lovely woman or ugly woman) It’s PERCEPTION. If we look for ugly, we will find it. If we look for lovely, we will find it.
Luke 5:22 But when Jesus PERCEIVED THEIR THOUGHTS, he answering said unto them, WHAT REASON YE IN YOUR HEARTS?
Jesus said a person’s perception is linked to the reasoning in their heart. If you’ve attended here long, you’ve probably been “bitten” by someone’s crazy negative statement of PERCEPTION about Life Gate Church. So, I ask, what are those looking to see – ugly or lovely? How do they reason in their hearts?
Why do people say crazy negative things about Life Gate or me? We all need to realize is those people don’t only have problems with Life Gate. They have problems with many people and will talk about any one or any church. They are negative unhappy people. Jesus said don’t allow their dust to stick to you (Mt 10:13-14). Leave, shake the dust off your feet. Get away from them.
Luke 6:41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but PERCEIVEST NOT the beam that is in thine own eye?
They will criticize First Baptist, Second Baptist, First Methodist, anything and anyone.
Do those things anger me? I’ll elaborate. They did the same to Jesus.
Matthew 9:3-4 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “WHY DO YOU ENTERTAIN EVIL THOUGHTS IN YOUR HEARTS?”
They entertained evil thoughts. Jesus wasn’t blaspheming. The true issue was those who spoke negatively about him entertained evil in their hearts. Perception is a heart issue. Instead of people being excited people were being healed, set free, loving God, receiving good teaching, they decided to make Jesus look bad. Were they successful? Oh yes. Also, notice Jesus questioned and confronted them in return. “Why did you say that? What’s wrong with your heart?” (More about that later.) On another occasion…
Matthew 11:18-19 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”
What is Jesus saying? When you are different, John was different, Jesus was different, Life Gate is different, and seeking to move with God, no matter how sent of God your are, people will cut off your head to put on a platter. People will crucify you.
Does what people say anger me? It doesn’t anger me about me. It’s expected. Jesus said those he sent would be treated harshly (Mat 23:34), so it’s actually validation. However, it does anger me because of what it does to people. It did Jesus also. IT POISONS PEOPLE. That’s it’s intent. It poisons you. Jesus dealing with this very thing after being called Beelzebub (a demon), said…
Matthew 12:34-35 YOU BROOD OF VIPERS, how can you who are evil SAY anything good? For out of the overflow of the HEART the MOUTH SPEAKS. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
Again, perception is a heart issue. The viper venom of people is in what they SAY. Remember the serpent poisoning Eve? “Did God say?” He put poisonous venom doubt about God into Eve’s heart. These people actually store up venom in their heart. What angered Jesus, and what angers me, is the damage the venom does to people. As you walk down the path of life “POP,” the serpent strikes you. Fangs of a viper inject venom. Unless your immune system is ready, no matter how strong you are, the venom will damage your heart. Vipers damaged people concerning Jesus, Peter, James, John, Paul. Why in the world would we not think they and their venom will not damage us?
Don’t miss this point: YOU ARE GOING TO BE BITTEN. It’s how you handle the bite that will deal with PERCEPTION and your own heart. I don’t know if we can ever totally change perception. Can you change a viper? Jesus never totally changed it, but he did “milk” the vipers. You heard the story about a Rattlesnake biting Chuck Norris. After several excruciatingly painful days, the Rattlesnake died.
We need to “Chuck Norris” the vipers. Give the viper something to deal with. I see this from Jesus. Jesus was severely confrontational. Way more than you or I would ever dream of being. He never, not once, allowed vipers to slide. He “bit” back. There is nothing wrong with your injecting some “truth serum” back into the viper who just bit you.
Once Jesus was teaching. The vipers asked by what authority he did what he did.
Matthew 21:24 Jesus replied, “I WILL ALSO ASK YOU ONE QUESTION. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Again notice, Jesus injected a question back intended to “milk the snake.” They couldn’t answer the question because if they tried, it showed their ignorance. Jesus knew that. Another time they questioned Jesus when he said he was the Son of God. Jesus returned the question basically with a question. “Have you seen what I do? If you can’t believe me for who I say I am, believe me because of my results.” “Oh, by the way,” Jesus said, “let me warn you. Don’t blaspheme the Holy Ghost.” He warned them speaking evil about what God was doing in lives will bring judgment on you.
So, what’s wrong with your doing the same thing to change perception? Say, “Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been to Life Gate Church?” “Do you know Pastor Delbert?” What, most likely, will be the answer (99% of the time)? It will be “No.” Ask, “How do you know if what you are saying is true?” You can even warn them to be careful. They are bringing judgment on their self. Follow up with, “I have been to church there and I do know Pastor Delbert and what you are saying is not accurate.” Be like the blind man healed by Jesus who the vipers attacked. They called Jesus a sinner. The once blind man said, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (Joh 9:25). Say, “Listen, I don’t know what you heard, or what you think. ‘One thing I do know is my life changed.”
I want to share one more thing about PERCEPTION. In the book of Acts, perception was also changed by what the church did for people. Few know how many people we assist in numerous ways. There’s never a week that goes by and usually it’s several times a week, we get to help people. We buy groceries – send them to Shop Rite. We pay, or help pay, utility bills. We help pay for prescriptions. We pay/help pay rent. We are so charitable and benevolent that when the city is asked by a debtor where they could get help, they say Life Gate. So, when you are bitten by a viper, inject a little of that back into them. Ask what they have done for the poor and needy?
You are not going to totally change every person’s perception, but you can bite back as did Jesus. You CAN change it a little. Doing what Jesus did is like getting a viper immunization shot. Their venom has no effect on you. You actually milk the viper removing the venom. They see something from you they were not expecting. You challenged them. They were not ready for that, but you actually helped them. I promise you this: you changed their perspective about you and in actuality, aren’t you LIFE GATE? So, the bottom line is changing the perspective about Life Gate is, in reality, changing their perspective about you.
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