Tag Archives: relationships

A Tribute to Eric M. Landoll

On April 7, 2017, we lost a dear man and good friend, Eric Landoll. The day of his memorial service contained some irony. On the one hand, it is not common, and certainly not fun, to reflect on a life that ended too soon. 48 years old is young by most standards. I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, nearly 300 guests gathered at his service to remember a young man who was loved and who loved many. It was a blessing to have known this quiet soul who would be the first to say hello; the first to ask how you were doing; and the first to greet you with a smile.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth, and a time to die… .” These words might give you the impression that death is something natural, just because it is expected. After all, the Scripture attributes a time for “…everything under heaven.” There is a certain inevitability associated with death. But it is never to be thought of natural in the purest sense.

Death entered our world for a reason. That reason is due to the presence of sin. Humankind was the crown of God’s creation; made in God’s image with a mind, will and emotions. And yet, he fell. Our first parents disobeyed God and offended Him. Their rebellion against God brought a sentence of death for everyone (Romans 5:12). All people die because all sin. We are told in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…. Every human being has an appointment to appear before the sovereign God of the universe and give an account for his/her life. Although created by God and for God, you and I have offended God through our thoughts and our actions.

But as alarming as this situation may sound, it was for this reason that Jesus Christ came to this earth as God incarnate so many years ago. Christ died and rose again to abolish death for those who trust in Him. Note Christ’s words in John 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Jesus makes the invitation to anyone: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The rest that Jesus provides is soul rest, that comes from knowing Him, trusting Him and following Him.

The Christian possesses the sweet knowledge and anticipation of life after death, because Jesus arose from the dead. The Christian lives in this world knowing that his real home is not of this world. Rather God has prepared a place for him. Death is a transition from one state of life to another. Jesus said in John 14:1:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

And, Paul wrote that when we are absent from the body, we are …at home with the Lord. This is good news for the Christian, especially when he finds himself in a world where there is so much death. So there is urgency for all to repent of their sins and place their trust in Jesus Christ, in order to possess heaven as their home.”

So how can you become a Christian and access this life that Jesus spoke so regularly of? There are two things necessary: repentance and faith. At the outset of His ministry, Jesus preached: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.

Repentance means to change. It is implied in the act of confession, where a person comes before the Lord in prayer, and asks for forgiveness and turns from their wrongful deeds.

The other act is faith- which goes beyond believing that there is a God. But means embracing God, following Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” Such is the clear path to an eternity with God.

Regarding our good friend, Eric, I wish I could have had one more conversation with him. Wish I could have hugged his neck one more time; and told him how much he meant to me. But that did not happen to our choosing. We must resign ourselves to God’s will in these matters. As it says in the book of Job: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed by the name of the Lord.”

What can we say about Eric? Lots of things like sharp, scholarly, classy, funny, handsome, winsome, kind, helpful and good. Other words are loving, caring, witty, ornery and humble.

High School
My earliest recollection of him was his part time job on the square. Eric was hired by Lyle Catron to represent Shanks and Sterrett Clothing Store. That was Nevada’s classy store. Eric was the perfect person for the job because he was classy. His temperament and dress made him a great choice for the job.

A member of the speech and debate squad in Nevada’s glory years of that sport, Eric thrived at Extemporaneous Speaking. Under the direction of Tim Gore, Eric fined tuned his speaking skills, which gave him a head start compared to some of his fellow law school students. Eric was an excellent public speaker. He spoke on foreign and domestic subjects. He kept files of current events. Anything from the US Supreme Court to what was going on in Sri Lanka. Eric was good at what he did. He was a critical thinker. I remember going round and round with him about creation vs. evolution.

With Landoll there was always a lot of joking and kidding around. If you were privileged to know him, he may razz you about your personality defects. Beneath it, there was a definite sense of kindness.

E loved the outdoors. He liked to fish and hunt and he loved to camp. On one of those camping trips where high school boys are up to absolutely no good, Eric, Chuck Thomas, Suresh Dalai, John Garton and some others were gathered near everyone’s vacation spot, the Marmaton River. After a few hours of actually lying on the tents as they lay flat against the earth, it was decided that camp must be set up. The problem was that it was getting dark. And it was discovered that the wrong pegs were brought, or maybe no pegs at all. Eric then asked: “Have you guys ever been camping before!?”

Post High School
You could describe Eric as smart, a sharp young man. He was well liked by many older, peers and younger. My friendship with him ramped-up in 1988. I had known Eric and we had experienced some good times together. Coming home from Christmas break and needing to make a change in schools, I enrolled at Missouri Southern. I attended a basketball game that evening at the High School. Eric was there and welcomed me to my new school, assuring me of a good experience and a good time.

That spring, Eric, Tom Weakley, Pat Wood, Brian Schneider and I spent a lot of time together. Those were happy times. As roommates, we would cook, lift weights at the YMCA; listen to “Guns and Roses” blaring in his navy blue 66 Mustang with cherry interior went down the road.

Eric was very smart. He was determined to get a good education and do well. After graduating from Missouri Southern with his business degree, he attended Mizzou law school. Eric saw himself as a helper to others. In this way he was incredibly selfless.

Dylan Murray was attending Mizzou at the time and was thinking of applying to law school. This is what he posted: “He was always a friend to me in Nevada, and also at MU, where I recall him giving me some great advice about the LSAT Law School entrance test and about what to expect in Law School. I will always recall him very fondly.”

Eric became good friends with Mike McCaffree. On another adventure in the great outdoors, Mike and Eric went on a float trip to the Elk River near Noel, Missouri. McCaffree had a broken arm, thus making E do all of the paddling on a river that barely has any current. Clearly, this was a well thought out plan, by McCaffree! Eric reminded him often.

Eric was caring and fun, but he also knew tragedy. Eric had lost his beloved older brother Russ to a tragic car accident. Others had experienced loss; one of our friends lost his dad tragically. At a party, I stepped outside and found Eric and our friend shedding some tears, encouraging each other over who they had lost. Eric was someone you could talk to. Eric lost his mother to cancer and his Gerald, to whom he was especially close, in 2007.

Latter years
Eric practiced law in Nevada for 20 years. He was an exceptional lawyer and enjoyed having to think quickly and communicate clearly with a line of reasoning. He developed an excitement for the preparation and the opportunity to be judged for his efforts.

He was not “cut-throat,” but cared about the individual. He fielded his fair share of divorce cases. The first two or three, he got the couples to reconcile. This did not help his bank account, but gave him satisfaction. The toughest part about the job was seeing homes divided and kids displaced. Eric was sensitive and surprisingly patient. He had a deep sense of the good. He was anchored morally and had a sense of what was right.

In 1996, Eric married the love of his life, Angie. Eric was a catch and so was Angie. They were a handsome couple. Angie had moved to our area from Iowa. She was a student at Iowa State. Eric and Angie’s love was so strong that it endured a long distance relationship, before the inventions of texting, email and unlimited long distance. They waited until 11 p.m. to talk on the phone, so as to have cheaper phone bills. Angie and Eric were married for 21 years. From this union were born three beautiful children: Abbey, Clay and Carter.

This is what Eric said in a text conversation I had with him just a month ago. We were bragging about our kids, or complaining about the challenges of life. Here’s what he said:

“Dave. I promise you, I’m fine. I know you married me to the best woman in the world, and for that I thank you. I’m happy to break bread with you but please don’t fret over my welfare.

I’m absolutely fine. Clay missed state by two points this year. David Dade was the ref. He does a great job refereeing.

Abbie got a big scholarship when she graduated. She’s doing good things with it at MU. Has a 3.8+ gpa in the honors journalism program.

I don’t go around bragging to anyone else, but Clay has 3.9+ gpa, action-class, Varsity cross country, varsity wrestling, stucco, junior class vp., drum major. Angie and I are very fortunate. …. went to Missouri Scholars Academy at Mizzou last summer for three weeks, is going to Boys State this year, but I still want to pinch his head off for being such a jerk to his brother.

And he was quite fond of Carter. Even just recently, he bought Carter a cantaloupe because Carter liked cantaloupe. “Here you go buddy. Here’s your cantaloupe.” Carter participated in the 5th grade spelling bee and won third place. But even more important than his finish was the fact that he would “high-five,” his classmates, upon their successful attempts at difficult words. This blessed Eric and made him proud.

This is what Andy Remington posted:

On Friday this world lost another good man. I met Eric Landoll in high school, where we both participated in speech and debate. “E” was a top dog in the class and I used to love to watch him in action. After graduation and college, we both ended back in Nevada, where he began to practice law. Again, I was always in “awe” of his talents. Periodically we’d work together and I remember going to his office and telling him when Donetta was pregnant with Taylor Remington, and we talked about how some day our kids would know each other. We had always kept in touch and over the past few years had been in a group chat room where we spoke several times a day about everything from, politics, cooking, health issues, bragging about our kids, and many “unmentionable” topics as many of you can imagine! Those conversations helped me keep my sanity a lot of days. One thing I’m positive about “E” is that he loved his wife and kids more than anything. Those kids are the most polite, well mannered, and smartest children you’d ever meet. I know a lot of people are going to miss “E”, especially myself and “The Knights of the Golden Hog.” Take care buddy and hope to see you again some day.

I believe that Eric would have liked to be remembered as a hardworking, kind, and helpful soul who loved his family and loved his friends. We were better for having known him. And we can thank God that we had the privilege.

It is easy to let such an event pass with the pain, but with little to no spiritual effect. What would God tell you today? And as we grieve in the days, months and years ahead, may you be reminded that God has given you life and so life must be lived with Jesus at its center. May God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.

The following is a letter that Eric’s seventeen-year-old son, Clay, wrote to his dad on June 22, 2016:

Dear Dad,
In PSD (Personal and Social Dynamics), we were told to think of who we admire/look up to most in our lives. It was a hard question, because I love you and Mom equally, but when it comes to who has taught me more about how to be a man someday, you took the cake. Now that I have an image of you eating pineapple upside-down cake, I can thank you for the unmeasurable amount of effort you have put into being such a gigantic part of my life.

I can’t even remember a time when I questioned your love for me or my love for you. Of course there were times when we couldn’t stand each other, but I feel each time made us a little bit closer. I also appreciate how you’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to work hard so that I am the best me I can be. You taught me to be caring, passionate, trustworthy, and to be a gentleman. You’ve given me a set of tools with which I can carve a life of my own someday. A gift in which I will be forever grateful and appreciative of. I simply would not be anywhere near who I am today without your guidance and involvement in my life.

I know I don’t say it enough, Dad, but I love you. And I thank you. You are an amazing dad, and you’ve shown me how to be a good partner by how you treat Mom. You’ve raised an ever grateful family. So again, thank you.

Love,
Clay

Crucial for a Healthy Church

The following message is taken from Philippians 4:1-7 and addresses compromise and unity.

In his book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer gives this interesting illustration:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”[1]

Healthy relationships is a practical topic for all of us.  In our times together, we’ve looked at several personal associations in the Bible.  By God’s grace, we have learned the danger of jealousy, as we’ve studied Cain and Abel.  We’ve also learned the blessing of close friendships, like that of Jonathan and David.  We’ve understood that there will be disagreement among the most noble of people; for instance, Paul and Barnabas.

Today, I will conclude our series by looking at one of the more obscure relationships in Scripture that illustrate unity and sacrifice.  Our story today is about two women dedicated to their church, Euodia and Syntyche.  They both served in positions of leadership and service.  They were Christians among the faithful in the city of Philippi.

Paul visited the city of Philippi on his second missionary journey, told of in Acts 16:12.  This was Paul’s first visit to European soil.  He returned there twice to strengthen the believers.  The congregation that God birthed there became very dear to Paul, so much that he referred to them as his “joy and crown.”

THE CHURCH IS KNOWN FOR HUMILITY, HARMONY, AND THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Paul writes this letter from jail, possibly from his Roman imprisonment mentioned in Acts 28, around 61 A.D.  The city was named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great.  The church there was largely Gentile.  It is a note written to emphasize the themes of Humility, Harmony and the Holy Spirit’s work.

For instance, Jesus is the picture of humility in the letter to the Philippians.  Just as Christ became a servant, so also the Christian becomes a servant of Christ’s.  Philippians 1:1 says: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons….”

The one who causes us to willfully become God’s servants is the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit’s work is emphasized in places like Philippians 1:6: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

And harmony goes with the work of God’s Spirit, as Philippians 2:12 says: “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life– in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

Humility, Harmony and the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s exhortation is for the church to be at unity for the cause of the gospel.  It could be that this was a congregation that struggled with disagreement, in part because of the growing concerns that surrounded them.  The Philippians were faced with false teachers and opposition from the outside.

And so it was critical for the church to be united.  It takes a proactive attitude; a conscious effort.  This is why Paul identifies three individuals in our brief passage as leaders, who must make a conscience effort to lay down their own preferences and be united in the Lord.  Paul writes: “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 3 Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

These women were being asked to lay aside their own opinions and be united in the Lord.  A key to living in harmony is the place of the Lord Jesus.  He holds a preeminent place in the life of the church.  He is the name above every name.

And one of the most challenging prices of being a member of Christ’s church is to remember that it is Christ’s church.  This takes a conscious laying aside our own preferences for His preferences.  It means that He calls the shots.  What I want is secondary to what His will is.

This attitude is tested with diversity.  The Roman Empire was a diverse, melting pot of races, religious backgrounds and economics.  The church is meant to be diverse for all who are willing to follow Christ.  God wants people in his church that are like you and differ than you!  The church of Jesus Christ has always been made of people from different backgrounds, languages, socio-economic classes. Everyone’s needs are different.  On the other hand, Biblical and theological truth should never be sacrificed for the sake of diversity.

The humble attitude of the Son of God was the prescribed attitude of Euodia and Syntyche and Clement. The church at Philippi existed for the glory of God and for the sake of the good news. This is what brought the church together. Regardless of what divided them, these individuals were on the same team as Paul. They fought for the same things. They were employed by the same God. They lived for the same cause.

The most profound illustration of humility is found in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 2:5: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

There’s a certain way that we ought to think about Christian fellowship. Thinking influences living. Sinclair Ferguson states: “…the details are, tactfully, not discussed by Paul. But the situation was obviously serious enough for him to address these women by name, and the division sufficiently long-standing for news of it to have reached Paul’s ears.”[2] The division between these two women affected the entire church. And that’s what divisions do, if not dealt with. They start out small, but then they grow larger and affect more people when sides are drawn up. Paul was sure of their salvation, but they still had a disagreement. It is possible for two people to be genuinely saved and to know Jesus Christ and yet be in disagreement with each other. We must check our egos at the door. Each of us has a choice to make- to be an agent of division or an agent of unity. Maybe God is calling you to heal a division. People will disagree, but the real issue is not to be disagreeable. And the call to be united is always upon us.

What does unite us?  One thing is our mission statement, which is simple: to love God, serve others and grow disciples.  That’s a message that is meant for us, so that we are reminded what our key business should be about!

It is important for the church to be united today.  All Christians will one day live in the same place for eternity.  So doesn’t it make sense that we learn how to get along this side of heaven?  The “book of life,” is that document in which all the names of God’s elect, the faithful are written; those who were willing to lose their lives for the sake of Christ, and to find it in Him as a result.  Remember that Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it (Matthew 16:24).”

But what is it that encourages unity in the church?  What is one thing that we might do to foster more unity among us?  How does unity relate to prayer and God’s peace?

PRAYER PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE IN DISCOVERING HIS WILL FOR OUR CHURCH.

Let us consider the role of prayer.  Verse 4 of our passage: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Maybe those verses could be summed up with the following: “why worry, when you can pray?”  The antithesis of anxiety is prayer.  When we commit ourselves to prayer, we no longer have the need to stalemate, to dig in our heels or be possessive of the church.  We pray and live as Jesus did when He prayed: “Father, not my will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42).”

But we become self dependent when we say: “This is my church!” in the context of trying to get what we want.  “This is my church” does not mean that you will always get your way or that preferences will always be accommodated. Your personal history or heritage, years spent in service or amount of your offering does not determine your importance or strength of your voice. For your information, I have no knowledge of what individuals in our church give.

Being a congregational church does not mean that everything is a popularity contest.  Remember it is Christ’s church.  When we come together with a unified vision that seeks to glorify God, lay our preferences aside and seek His face, His plan and His purpose, then God will bring unity.  We realize the total dependency we have on the Lord Jesus, as He said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Psalm 133 tells us that God commands his blessing where there is unity.

After our study of Thom Rainer’s I Am a Church Member early last year, we discovered that ministry is not about our personal preferences or desires, but about expanding and building up the kingdom of God.

Let us rally around this church’s vision statement, which is to… Become fully mature disciples of Christ by… 

  • Glorifying God individually and together as a church
  • Growing spiritually through Bible study and prayer
  • Supporting one another within our church family
  • Serving others as an expression of our faith
  • Witnessing in our neighborhoods and throughout the world

Would you be an instrument of God’s peace? St. Francis of Assisi, who ministered in the early 13th century, is thought to have prayed:

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

[1] http://www.biblestudytools.com/pastor-resources/illustrations/11550051.html.

[2] Sinclair Ferguson, Let’s Study Philippians (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 98.

Agreeing to Disagree

The following message is taken from Acts 15:30-42 and uniquely addresses how the church should handle disagreement.

This is the story of two friends; two men who had the same vocation.  They were called of God to preach and plant churches.  One was from one city; the other from an island.  Both loved God and served the Lord.  They had worked closely for several years.  Their names were Paul and Barnabas.

Paul and Barnabas were chosen with a number of others to go to Antioch and deliver the decree made at the Council of Jerusalem.  This council would inform the Gentile converts that they in fact, did not have to be circumcised as a supplement to faith in Jesus Christ, like the Judiazers had promoted.  Verse 28 gave them their ethical expectations: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. 30 The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.”

Paul and Barnabas were skilled teachers of God’s word and were used to set the church on the right course.  They were teachers of teachers.  They had taught and preached together, seeing many come to faith in Christ.  They had a fruitful ministry together.  And as they prepared to leave Antioch, they determined to go back and strengthen the churches throughout Asia Minor, what we know as Paul’s second missionary journey.

In verse 37, we see the men preparing to go on their trip but a controversial issue came up. When it came time to make an important decision concerning John Mark, these two men were divided. John Mark was the younger cousin of Barnabas and the author of the Gospel of Mark.

On an earlier occasion, this man had deserted Paul and Barnabas; left them in difficult circumstances, at the hands of difficult people. You can read about that in Acts 13:13, Mark left them to return to Jerusalem, while the other two set out for difficult territory.

Do they take John Mark with them? Did he learn his lesson from deserting his friends?  Or have they both learned that John Mark was no good for their ministry. Evidently, Barnabas was willing to give John Mark a second chance. Second chances are an act of grace. This gave rise to a “contention.”

But the apostle Paul knew that John Mark could be a liability. Being deserted a second time could mean their premature deaths. They faced much controversy as they went about preaching Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. As well as facing Jews who were instigators.

There was no agreement.  We are not told who was right or who was wrong.  All we know is what happened next: Barnabas left with John Mark for the island of Cyprus.  Paul recruited Silas and set off for other places.  Paul and Barnabas no longer served as one. Both were wholeheartedly committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, but they could not agree on this one subject. Their situation raises the question, when is it okay to agree to disagree?

There are times in the church where it is okay to disagree. There are times in the church where disunity on the smaller matters is allowable. The ultimate calling to serve the Lord Jesus Christ should be the rule which binds us together. But it does not mean that we have to agree on details such as where we should minister or how we should minister.

There are various controversies; all issues in the church today; how we should worship; what instruments can be used, if any at all. I know of a denomination that believes that the use of instruments is worldly and a distraction to worshiping the Lord Jesus.  That same background teaches that immersion is the only legitimate way to baptize a new converts.  Quite different than the practice of many Christians today.

What are those things that should unite us? Paul said in Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  Consider the following tenets which must bind us together:

  • One, is the authority of Scripture; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Two, is the divinity of Christ; John 14:6
  • Three, is the work of the Trinity; 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • Four, is the practice of the sacraments; 1 Corinthians 11:26

Style of worship is a negotiable. Methods of outreach are negotiable. Where we should send our mission money is negotiable. Should we do missions? Nonnegotiable. Should we worship? Nonnegotiable. Should we do outreach? Nonnegotiable.Consider the following obstacles to unity, the tendency for small things to become big things. For one, is our ego, or the passion to be right. I was recently brought face-to-face with something challenging in ministry. I wanted something to turn out a certain way in the life of this church. But, after consulting other leaders on it, it wasn’t meant to be. I had to humble myself and except this as God’s will. The problem is when ego gets in the way. We believe that we have to be right or else…

  • Or else I won’t attend this church anymore.
  • Or else I won’t give my money to the church.
  • Or else I won’t treat that person with love and respect.

You must beware of falling prey to a power trip. Maybe God would want you to be more flexible in some areas or more strongly convicted in others. The next time you feel disagreeable, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this what I want or is this what God wants?
  • Is my agenda at stake or is God’s agenda at stake?
  • Who will be served as a result of this effort?
  • Who will come to know the Lord Jesus for the first time?
  • Who will be deepened in the faith?
  • Is this just challenging my presupposition? (I’ve/we’ve never done it that way before.)
  • Should I be open to something new?
  • Have I prayed about this?
  • Have I consulted God’s word on this matter? John Calvin one said: “It matters not what you say or I say but what God says on the matter.”
  • Even though this might not agree with my political party’s line, is this the right thing to do?

Two, is our inability to listen. If conflict goes unresolved, it can be the soil where bitterness, anger and resentment grows. James 1:9 says: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Three is our ability to squabble.  Don’t be given over to squabbling.  Don’t go looking for a fight.  Pastor Carey Nieuwhof, says: “I really want to walk into a great church fight. Said no unchurched person ever. Squabbling, faction and division in the church has killed our evangelism efforts as effectively as anything.”[1]  I have come across many people who have admitted to leaving or avoiding a church because of infighting.

CONCLUSION

How did it end?  Paul eventually came back around and welcome to John Mark. You can read about that in. He said in 2 Timothy 4:11: “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  Did you catch that?  He asked for Mark, “…for he is useful for me.” There’s always a double purpose to everything done for the Lord one is what how it affects me and to how it affects others. Paul labels Mark as “my fellow worker” in Philemon 1:24.  Obviously Paul and Mark reconciled and resumed their ministry together.

What about Barnabas?  We are not given but one verse.  1 Corinthians 9:6 where he states that Barnabas, along with himself is worthy of the label of apostle and worthy of their compensation.  All’s well that ends well.  Is this story such a tragedy?  No.  God is perfect.  People are flawed.  Paul, Barnabas and Mark were flawed.  You and I: flawed.  But God works in and through us, in spite of ourselves!

In the late 16th century, the mayor of Windsor engaged architect Christopher Wren to design and oversee the building of a town hall. When it was completed, the mayor refused to pay the bill, insisting that it needed more than the few columns Wren had designed. No matter that it was pointed out to him that the columns were holding up the building just fine. He wanted more columns and would not pay until they were installed.

Christopher Wren had several more columns added to the building. Each was identical to the first ones he had installed, with one exception. Each lacked one inch going all the way to the ceiling.

Some of those columns were load-bearing and others were cosmetic. The building became known as the Windsor Guildhall.

In the church, it is important to know what is really important, and what is not so important. Be willing to fight for the former, and sacrifice the latter. Let us pray.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://careynieuwhof.com/2015/01/9-sure-fire-ways-make-church-completely-ineffective/?utm_content=bufferfcfe7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer.