Aloha Hope Chapel Honolulu!
We are living in a time when wars are fought thousands of miles away yet simultaneously heard and seen on the electronic devices in our homes and hands. There is also a continuing spiritual conflict raging not just around us but in our hearts and homes, yet somehow remaining just beyond our sight and hearing.
There are many places in the Bible where we are given glimpses of the spiritual reality behind the material curtain of our present existence such as Genesis 18:1-33, Joshua 5:10-15, Ezekiel 28:11-19 or Daniel 10:1-21. Each provide a window through which we see a saint told of how demonic powers are at work behind the rise and fall of the kingdoms of men, and how he is a combatant by means of his fasting and prayers of repentance.
As I begin my fifth year with you here at Hope Chapel Honolulu, I am reminded of something God had said to me as I was praying about whether or not to accept the Lead Pastor role. I felt that God wanted me to say “yes” to becoming a peacemaker, to developing trust and community, and then leading Hope Chapel Honolulu along a path of reconciliation.
In last month’s letter, I mentioned how I had surprisingly been invited to take part in a prayer event along with several other local pastors, and that my invitation was specifically to lead us in a prayer of repentance. However, anyone who has been involved in a reconciling relationship attest to the fact that while there may be significant events, places and times along the way, the path from repentance to forgiveness, as well as restoration and rest is rarely a short one. With God, forgiveness and restoration seem immediate, but we often forget the agonizing hours that Christ hung on the cross, and give little thought to the possibility that He had known for a long time the suffering he would experience for our sin to be forgiven.
This past week, a handful of Church Council and Oversight Team leaders joined me at the first Foursquare district gathering since this church was led out of both what is now Anchor Church and the global Foursquare network of churches. I was inspired to share these words below with a new district supervisor who agreed that the content and timing seemed good to the Holy Spirit:
"For too long and too often, I have strived to be recognized as valuable or important and consequently been tempted to seek first my own kingdom and semblance of righteousness. But the truth is that apart from Christ I am nothing and can do nothing, and any legacy I might seek apart from Christ's kingdom and its righteousness will be revealed to have been but wood, stubble and hay on that Great Day of Judgment. So not knowing what it means or what it looks like, and only knowing that the goal must be to finish well enough to hear the Master say even to such a one as me, ‘well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into My joy,’ I am grateful that Christ might accept me and that the Foursquare Pacific District would accept Hope Chapel Honolulu back into fellowship after an eight-year separation. But we don't return to relight fires of competition and strife between old hope, new hope, let alone ‘no hopes’ like me, but rather we come back knowing that just as apart from Christ I can do nothing, that apart from the spiritual family from which God birthed us, we cannot fulfill our part in God's good, pleasing and perfect will for the people of Honolulu, the Pacific, Asia and beyond. So, please forgive me, Anchor Church, for the pain Hope Honolulu has caused you. Please forgive us, Foursquare Hawaii, for the pain that Hope Chapel has caused you. Please forgive us and receive us again, I ask in the Name of Jesus Christ."
When Jesus says that it will be by the love we have for one another that the world knows that we are His disciples, it means that sometimes we will be led to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness for words and works that we may not be entirely responsible for. Sometimes we will need to reconcile relationships that we may not have broken by ourselves. This is a small price to pay for the hope and honor of being received as God’s sons and daughters, and to have greater confidence to stand before the Lord as Judge on That Day. Let’s continue to be prayerful and faithful in our new, deepening and reconciling relationships, so that we might have the privilege and pleasure of encouraging, equipping and perhaps even empowering others to be, go and make disciples of Christ, too.
May the steadfast power, love and faithfulness of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be revealed to, through, around and beyond you and me abundantly, I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ! Amen.