God's Heart for Relationship, Valentine's Day 2016

whenever I see Brant and whenever I see

Charlotte I think of Priscilla and I

think of a kill and I think what a joy

it is first of all you know as I was

sharing with them a little bit before

the sermon there were many things that I

might have left before the Lord in

prayer one of the things I absolutely

was not worried about was the word this

morning because this couple just

radiates if they don't do anything else

other than just stand here let though

joy the Lord just radiates from them

will be blessed this morning so by the

way happy Valentine's Day it isn't see I

didn't just I didn't forget it is it is

the 14th of februari so we have this

beautiful couple to share a great deal

of wisdom with us by the way they have

pastoral permission this morning to go

anywhere the Holy Spirit leads them to

go with this sermon so whatever the Holy

Spirit puts in your hearts go off topic

and just share with in with full

authority whatever the Lord gives you

god I thank you for my dear brother

Brant and I thank you for my dear sister

Charlotte and I thank you dear Lord God

for the authority that you have placed

over them as a couple and the Saints of

the Lord Jesus Christ speak through them

with full authority Holy Spirit but

nothing whether it's in their bodies or

in the environment around them may

hinder the fullness of the word and the

beauty that you have laid in their

hearts to share with your people this

morning we've gladly receive this word

in Jesus name

amen thank you Sam I thought with just

just being this special day well thank

the special Valentine's Day reven as

having the pulpit and taking turns

running up to it and that we just take

one of these little tables which I stole

from the fourth floor and i will return

to the fourth floor and and so that we

could just kind of be here together as a

couple and just share a little bit with

you I really pray that God can give to

us the capacity to be vulnerable and

transparent while being wise and

discerning which is a little bit of a

challenge for for us for me Charlotte's

always wise in the certainty but we just

really want to share on this day about

about relationships relationship is such

a key an important dynamic at the end of

the day relationship is really what it's

all about relationship begins in

eternity past with the most amazing

relationship of God the Father Son and

Holy Spirit being together when you stop

and you think about that you know

there's a there's there's a statement in

English it says to his company and

three's a crowd have you heard

that that kind of comment like it it's

it's pretty easy for two people to get

along but but you add a third person in

to the dynamic and it and it switches

things up pretty quickly but God showed

us this miracle of three persons being

completely at one and it completely in

harmony I I really believe that God

wants to talk to us today about our

relationships about a relationship with

him about our human relationships or

relationships with one another and I

know we've prayed and sought God but I'd

like to do it again so if you'll join

with me we say holy spirit this is such

a mysterious topic it is way beyond us

finding out or figuring it out how to be

able to be really functional in

relationship because we come with all

the baggage of our human and sinful

nature's and those things that are

unresolved in us just bump up against

first of all you Lord and in our

rebellious pneus we find ourselves

really following our sinful paths in

life and finding ourselves experiencing

the fruit of that as isolation from you

Lord we know theologically that you

never separate yourselves from us but

our sin

and our humanity our weakness our

brokenness separates us from you first

but then Lord it separates us from one

another as well and so Lord we ask that

you would show us how to be honest about

this journey how to be able to really be

able to look introspectively not in some

narcissistic way but but really

objectively with the objectivity of your

word with the objectivity of a community

of believers who are coming alongside of

us and our are really wanting the best

for us so Lord we do ask that by your

spirit you would just lead us and you

would guide us and you would draw us

into this exploration of this mystery

the mystery of relationships amen I

remember being at a little restaurant up

in Essex Massachusetts and it was with a

man who became a friend of mine baba ki

baba ki is is somewhat of a mentor to me

although I I have a friendship with him

I certainly would not call him a close

friend but I do remember him making the

statement when Charlotte and I were with

him and we were at this little

restaurant he said if you look

historically at every major move of God

down through history at the very core

and the center of that move of God you

will find a small group of friends

there is something about that sense of

people coming into agreement coming into

friendship that walked the path of life

in such a way as to be able to really

release the anointing and the power of

the Holy Spirit mighty things happen

when we become true friends true friends

in God true friends under God we can see

that this happened with Peter James and

John and the 120 in the upper room as

they waited for the presence and the

power of God I mean they were squabbling

disciples before that and we know that

you read the history of of the way that

they interacted with each other and

again and we could have had points been

questionable to shameful but God it just

works through that process so number one

don't give up on friendship if there are

flaws and there's humanity that's a part

of it don't give up on it but you look

at at the outpouring on the day of

Pentecost and and then what happened

afterwards with the disciples and and

and the way that the gospel just burst

onto the scene of the then known world

it was just incredible absolutely

incredible another just group of people

I would like to draw your attention to

our the Wesley brothers and George

Whitfield the friendship that they had

was not only in England but in America

catalytic to what we look at as some of

the greatest moves of God's Spirit that

have been recorded within our history

period and by our history period i'm

saying the last 200 years or so

what what builds as the stains

relationships number one is engagement

now I want us to look at Moses and God

in Exodus 33 verse 11 it says the Lord

would speak to Moses face to face as a

man speaks with his friend you know

because the veil was rent in twain

because when Jesus died and and sin was

broken the hold of sin over mankind was

broken we have that that ability to

enter into that relationship we have the

ability we hear that that song you know

I am a friend of God and we sing it and

enjoy it because it's it speaks of that

core dynamic of friendship not a mystery

for us in our fallen humanity to be able

to feel as though we have the right to

be his friend his friend but we are so

it's its engagement but then there is

another part of it is perseverance

through misunderstandings adversity and

pain and disappointment we continue to

grow and develop this friendship and it

says in Galatians 6 verses 7 through 10

let us not become weary in well doing

for at the proper time we will reap a

harvest if we do not give up therefore

as we have opportunity let us do good to

all people especially to those who

belong to the family of believers and

then

the third point in this part of what

builds and sustains relationship is

divine impartation of God's love because

we could never do it without God's love

we couldn't do it on our own you look at

the nature of mankind absent the Holy

Spirit the anointing of God and it's

really impossible for people to be able

to get along the nature of man is to be

at war that I'm talking about the carnal

nature the human nature is divisive we

watch the things that are going on and

all of this political rancor that's

taking place you know in the news before

our eyes and it's just it's prototypical

of the nature of man in his carnality

and and it's anas and it's really

painful it's really shameful but I want

to just read another portion of

Scripture in John 13 33 it says my

children I will be with you only a

little longer but a new commandment I

give to you love one another as I have

loved you so you must love one another

and then by this all men will know that

you are my disciples if you have love

one for another and again in John 15 12

he says my command is this love one

another as I have loved you and in John

15 17 this is my command love one

another so we see that this command of

God is to love we are called Allah we're

commanded to love it is the essence of

what makes us as believers different

Jesus was with the disciples for three

years and he modeled this divine love

now he was commanding them to love as he

had loved them

and at the very end of the meal that he

had the last meal with them Jesus praise

for his disciples he says in John 17 25

righteous father the world does not know

you I know you and they know that I that

that you have sent me and that I have

made you known to them and will continue

to make you known in order that the love

you have for me maybe in them and that I

myself may be in them so we see this

command and of course jesus said if you

love me you will keep my commands and as

Sam so artfully preached and boy I hope

you remember that message I just I don't

know if I'll ever get over it and I

wasn't here I edited it and God to see

it the love language of Jesus the love

language of God is obedience it's

obedience so if we love him and we say

that we love God we obey Him so

Charlotte I'd like you to just pick it

up from here I was talking with a young

woman a few months ago and she was in a

lot of agony about a human relationship

and she looked at me and she said

Charlotte what is love and she really

meant it with all of her heart she did

not know how to define love and she's a

very bright intelligent young woman

professional young woman and really

there is no better definition of love

than given to us in first Corinthians 13

and I know it's Valentine's Day so I

think it's really fitting that we look

at what how God defines love because it

is so opposite to what the world

projects us love we get love messages

tossed in our face every single day and

I think especially the youth of our

nation it's no wonder there is so much

confusion about what love is and I think

it's worth looking at for just a few

minutes this morning Paul says if I

speak with the tongues of men and of

angels and I have not love I'm just a

noisy gong if I have the gift of

prophecy and I can fathom all mysteries

and all knowledge and if I have faith

that moves mountains I mean that's

really impressive faith but I have not

love I am nothing if I give all I

possess to the poor and surrender my

body to the flames and have not love I

gain nothing it's really God who is the

essence of love he is the source of all

genuine love there is no other love

believe me and and the young adults here

if you would listen intently for just a

few moments there is no human love that

will ever compare to the love of God you

just will not find it and it will take

the love of God in your heart to be able

to sustain any relationship that God may

bring into your life it will take God's

love human love can only go so far this

is what God's love looks like Paul goes

on to say that it's patient it's kind

it's not jealous that it works for the

welfare and the good of the other it

doesn't brag and flaunt itself and both

and in is boastful it lifts up the other

love is not eric and it's not puffed up

it doesn't become overbearing in dealing

with others sometimes we want our own

ways so much

that we literally offend God and offend

other people by becoming just so

self-absorbed love does not seek its own

God's love is not selfish it is not

self-seeking it's not what's in this for

me love is not provoked and that's a

tough one because you'll say Charlotte

is it okay because I do get angry

sometimes we all get angry sometimes we

all do and sometimes there's just cause

for anger but the Bible says be angry

and sin not there Paul does draw draw

that distinction love does not hold

grudges love just doesn't keep bringing

up what and I'll talk a little bit about

this too in a few minutes about

forgiveness and what it is and what it

isn't but love doesn't keep dragging up

the past God has not done that with us

and I tell you God would have every

right if you so choose to drag up our

past but that is not God and that is not

godly love the Bible says he has chosen

to remove our sins as far as the east is

from the west and to bury them in the

sea of his forgetfulness so it's a

deliberate choice on God's part God does

not rejoice in unrighteousness God's

love even when it seems like somebody

deserved what they got God's love

doesn't say oh yeah you had it coming to

you that is not godly love love does not

rejoice in someone else's misfortune but

it seeks to always reconcile others with

God and His love love rejoices with the

truth the truth can be very painful

sometimes but the Bible says that you

will know the truth

the truth will set you free and there is

nothing like walking in the truth and

the freedom the God's love brings us

into there is nothing like it in this

world God love bears all things we all

are disappointed we all get disappointed

in love at times and people who we we

feel have failed us are not expressed

the kind of love that we had hoped they

would but love bears all things love has

an eternal perspective that knowing that

love God's love is eternal it will be

faithful it is life transforming and it

will bring change love believes all

things love does not judge other

people's motives and and it believes

others unless the facts prove otherwise

and even when the facts do prove

otherwise that a person is not

trustworthy love seeks to restore and

help the other to trust worthiness once

again love hopes all things loving it

anticipates the fulfillment of God's

plan and destiny in each other's lives

because God is believing for the best

for you did you know that this morning

God is believing for the best for your

life he wants and desires the very best

for your life love endures all things

endurance is hard there are times when

you feel like you just can't endure

anymore and and in the natural we can't

and there are times where we have to

draw some sound boundaries it's not that

we just let people keep on you know

stepping on us and inflicting harm on us

all the time but at the same point love

endures the hope of God's love doing

something that is life transforming in

our lives and in the other person's life

and love never fails Paul says love

remains faithful I would just like to

share another verse of scripture from

Romans 5 verse 8 but God commanded his

love toward us in that while we were yet

sinners Christ died for us now I shared

a little bit during the Holy Spirit

weekend and my goodness I some of us

were were there and I know not everybody

was there because it just didn't work

out for everybody's schedule or whatever

but it was just such a remarkable

experience and and I shared about the

coming into the baptism of the Holy

Spirit on our family and and and what

God did for us as a group of people that

came from a background that did not

believe in the Pentecostal experience in

fact had been taught against it I'm not

going to take time here to develop that

story or retell about it but one of the

things that I did say was that my family

was a mixture it was a real mixed bag

there there was a a genuine hunger for

God that was a part of the fiber of our

family but in reality there was there

was just a history of brokenness and I'm

talking generational because we've had

to go back and do the work and and

understand it and try to figure it out

but when you're when you're raised in

those kinds of environments and let me

just say this

before I move move on in the story God

is so kind to work with people that are

broken and you can have an all-out

hunger and thirst for God and

righteousness and and still not really

be in touch with the reality of the

brokenness that's there I'm an example

of that because you grow up in an

environment that is broken and you don't

realize it because you think it's normal

and because of family secrets and things

that are hidden in the household of your

rearing you do not appreciate the fact

that there's layers of brokenness within

you and so my parents they did love God

but they were broken and they came from

brokenness in their homes it's

generational I'm telling you in in in my

experience and and and then we we know

this to be true and I'm not telling

tales here but in Charlotte's family too

you know so there's this history where

there's brokenness but you do not

understand that it's there you know you

pray prayers of making decisions and

saying I'm following Christ and and I

put those things behind me and I'm not

going to do that but you don't realize

how how weak and flawed you are in your

humanity I was actually with

a man named Tom Zimmerman who who was

the general superintendent of the

Assemblies of God for many years from

1960s in 1986 actually and I happen to

be in that organization and and this

would have been maybe 85 just before he

retired and I said to him I said

Reverend Zimmerman what one thing would

you tell a young man in ministry if you

had only one thing to tell him and he

looked at me he didn't bat an eye he

immediately had an answer and the answer

was this he said all men have clay feet

and for me being a young man in ministry

I I understood and I knew intuitively

that I had clay feet but you know you

have this thought you have this idea

that there's somebody who doesn't there

there's there's someone who you know we

know that Jesus is the model of

perfection and he lived it and he did it

and and it and but you know what he's

the only one he's the only one he's the

only one and so we kind of live in this

mystery of thinking that

we can overcome or we can do this or we

can do that but without attending to the

details of the brokenness without

understanding them they come out and

they came out in my life and even when I

was pastoring I fell in sin and you

wonder how on earth can that happen and

it shouldn't happen and I'm not making

any excuse for it happening but it did

happen and it ended up that I was just

deceived and I broke Charlotte's heart

and that is the truth and it broke our

family and we ended up being separated

and we were separated for five years now

thank God he has healed us and we've

been in the process of being healed in

the process of exploring every kind of

broken area in our lives for the last 20

years I mean it's been 20 years since

there was any manifestation of failure

in my life and so I say to the glory of

God he has overcome but it it doesn't

just happen it happens with with

intentionality it happens with with a

disciplined sense of knowing because the

Bible says you shall know the truth and

the truth will make you free but you

have to you have to be willing to face

hard things you have to be willing to to

go deep you have to be willing to really

humble yourself it's a very very

humbling thing to go through that kind

of an experience

but by the grace of God he has worked

and he continues to work a miracle and

we are together here we were we were

isolated we were separated it was

hopeless Charlotte never wanted to see

my face again that's the truth she came

to the door to try to see and she would

not open the door it was bad folks it

was bad bad bad it was a mess but it's

just to show you that God what he can do

how he can how he can heal and how he

can restore and how he is able to do way

beyond when any of us could ask or think

or believe his print mentioned we were

separated for five years I'll never

forget the day that Brant drove away to

charlotte north carolina it was a very

bitter cold februari day and that the

Lord REE was reminding me of that this

morning as I was just here it's strange

and funny sometimes though it wasn't

funny at the time the the pain of it the

cost of it the enormity of it was just

staggering I it's a blessing to have

pastor carlos diaz here today matt and

his wife because they know some of her

story it's a blessing to have you and

they were affected by the fallout of all

of this as many people were because our

sin of

affects other people and and when one is

a in christian leadership the sin

affects many people so as Brandt drove

away I said well god you're sending him

to Charlotte I guess he will not forget

my name it's like a laugh at fuckin but

it would be five long years years of

deep anguish there is an isolation that

accompanies especially I think

Christians in leadership who fall and

not many people really want it to be

engaged with us and so I went north of

the city found of in your church where

God did a lot of healing in my life and

where I could just kind of slip in and

out there for several years I would just

slip in the door in the back and that

little ivy-covered church and wade

through the service and then leave and

the pastor and his wife knew and a few

other people knew what was going on but

it was just a very very isolating time I

was a single mom too with two teenage

children who were each going to their

own process and that they have their own

stories so I'm not going to go there

today but it was a very hard hard blow

for them as well I have taught here in

the past about forgiveness so I'm not

going to go into a big teaching this

morning about forgiveness except to say

a few four points but forgiveness is

really divine that God is the only one

who can initiate true and forgiveness

and it is impossible to forgive least of

all betrayal and pain like this without

God doing something to transform one's

heart and I found myself

in a place where my identity as I had

known it was completely shattered and it

ended up being one of the very best

things that could have ever happened so

that God showed me and proved to me his

love it didn't matter who I was you know

I wasn't anymore a pastor's wife I

wasn't this I wasn't that I was just a

person who was so broken and shattered

and in that place that's where I learned

how much God loved me it is in these

places that we really come to know the

love of God incredible ways I could tell

you so many times and there's no time

this morning where God met me where god

came I used to walk the streets in

Milton where we were living at the time

and I would just walk in and I would

just say some of the scripture that I

had memorized as a young girl because I

didn't have a lot of strength emotional

strength to pray so I would just walk

and i would i would say some 2121 so i

will lift up my eyes unto the hills my

help comes from the Lord who made heaven

and earth and those things became

anchors for my soul because it was

nothing else to hold to believe me there

was nothing else to hold to but the Word

of God forgiveness also acknowledges the

reality of the sin and I think

Christians sometimes have this real

penchant to kind of gloss over sin while

it doesn't really matter you know and

pretend that there was really no offense

you know forgiveness is not denial

denial is a delusion and we don't get

healed and denial

okay I have some very strong convictions

about this which you probably hear

denial would have never brought healing

in my life I had to face the

gut-wrenching truth of what had happened

as painful as it was I had to face it

forgiveness is a choice it's going to

involve risk and God has a timing for it

God does have a timing for it and I

throughout the time when we were

separated I received advice that really

ran the gamut some Christian said you

need to reconcile with bread some other

Christians said no you need to divorce

and I heard it and everything in between

but you know what when I would become

quiet before the Lord and I would settle

my heart I would never hear a yes I

would never hear a no I heard wait wait

wait and I honestly think that there are

lessons that God teaches in waiting that

we cannot learn any other way and my

heart sometimes feels heavy when I see

people and please this morning I don't

want to project brant and I do not want

to project our experience on anyone else

because everyone's experience is

different and I know that we are a

miracle I know we are people don't

separate for five years and get back

together with a kind of you know

betrayal that had gone

that's it is very it's highly unusual

now but I am saying that so many times

people jump into other things other

relationships other things and I

sometimes I wonder do we do detriment to

ourselves if we don't take the time to

wait and really get the healing we need

from God so wherever you are in your

relationship this morning whether some

of you her in broken situations with

marriages I don't know the Lord knows

who he brought here today but I'm just

saying let God do in you what he wants

to do what he needs to do and and so

often we're so quick to jump into

something else but you know what we take

ourselves with us into any relationship

that we move into so we may so just open

up our lives and let God do the healing

so when he you know shows us what he has

for us in relationships that we're

coming from a more healed place that

consisted sustained relationship

forgiveness is a lifestyle we're gonna

be called to forgive over and over and

over I am no hero this morning because

God had to deal with me too and some of

my issues but in Jesus said it in the

Lord's Prayer he said to forgive men

their sins as he has forgiven us so it's

always this flow of God for giving us

and us relieving forgiveness to others

it's just Jesus talked about it very

matter-of-factly it is a lifestyle and

as we release forgiveness God can

release more into our lives you know one

of the things that I i want to share

here is is the beauty of this house

this this is an unusual church it is it

is an unusual church a man a man when

when the invitation it came from passive

oberto to you know bring all of my stuff

the campers stuff and and put it in the

little room over here and set up the

studio you know I immediately Charlotte

and I felt from the Lord that it was the

right thing but I did want to ask some

questions and I did want to inquire and

one of the questions that I asked i

talked to greg a little bit and it was

really about

I'm just trying to find the way to frame

this because I don't want it to sound

but I don't want it to sound you know

overly flattering or like sucking up you

know excuse me but I then I talked with

him and and and he said well he said my

relationship with with pastor Roberto

I've been here I don't know at that time

I know this a long time I think he's

been here 20 years or something like

that now so this was me before four

years ago and he said my relationship

with Roberto is better than it's ever

been I I have essentially lived my adult

life in and around things that pertain

to ministry and I've watched a lot of

deterioration of relationships I served

that and there are certainly times when

God calls certain people to you know go

from different places and he calls

people out for different reasons and we

know that that's a part of life but I

just saw in Mario this this deep

affection on this love for Roberto and

I've and I've seen it repeatedly over

and over again and and what it says to

me and this is where I didn't want to be

sucking up but what it says to me really

is a Roberto has the ability to to

sustain relationships if people will

with him do that you know I know that

there are aberrations to a to any of

those any of those things but this house

has the ability to receive people who

are broken

and and not just label them or contain

them in that image but able to be

realistic about where people are at

honest and truthful but yet wisely call

them to growth and development and a

seasoning at an unfolding of God's

purposes in their lives it really is

special it is special we know it's full

of human beings and because it's full of

human being it's like it's got its got

his messes you can't get away from that

that's not possible and you don't even

want to you know I remember some of

these like you know if you fight the

perfect Church don't go cuz you'll mess

it up so we we know that but but there's

something very very special about this

house this place and I I just really

want for God to be able to call us into

this embracing of the truth about

ourselves that we are broken that's not

the end of the story but it's really the

beginning of progress if we are living

in denial of of what is we we can't get

past what is to go where God is wanting

us to go

I believe that God is wanting to create

deep levels of friendship now deep

levels of friendship doesn't mean the

jury in each others house every day it

doesn't it doesn't mean that you have to

be physically in each other's faces all

the time that's impractical it's not

it's not really what it's about what it

is is that we have unbroken and

unhindered open hearts to one another

and if we can begin to have that kind of

open heart to one another and to love

one another god can do mighty mighty

things in Charlotte I'm gonna let you

share that just one of the things that

the early church historians declared and

wrote about was that was such a sign to

the Roman pagan society about the early

Christians was they said of them behold

how they love one another that was the

mark that was the identifying mark that

marked them in the world today people

are yearning for authentic love the only

place they're going to see it the only

place they're really going to find it is

in the body of Christ

it isn't anywhere else it isn't so you

and I we aren't like those those wells

as we receive God's love people can come

and drink and has nothing to do with us

it has to do with the love that God has

put in our lives people are fearful

they're just at their wit's end and I

really believe that this house will

become a place where people will see

demonstrated the way that we love one

another and the way that we have

received God's love and won't be able to

share truly share the love of God with

them in life transforming ways i I

really from my heart I have very little

use anymore for going through church

services and not seeing transformation

in people's lives we are here to be

transformed I am here to continually

being transformed to be more like Christ

and so are you and so that's the goal

and God's intent on that goal he's gonna

get us no matter what he's that's his

goal for you and me is destiny is that

we would be like Christ and so we have

that we had that joy of being part of

his process the word says and I don't

know how God's gonna do it but I don't

have to worry about it because it's

cause it's God's thing that he's gonna

present us to the Father with great joy

he's gonna present you to the Father

with great joy he's gonna present me

that a father with great joy

I said God you sure got your work cut

out for you but that's okay because he's

God and we are not a man