Let God Deal with Your Enemies

This morning during my daily Bible reading I came across the following verse:

“But, if you have come to betray me to my enemies, may the God of our fathers see it and judge you.” 1 Chronicles 12:17b

In this passage David has become king and many people are coming to his side. In this passage specifically some men from one of David’s enemies have defected and want to join his army. David doesn’t worry about their loyalties. He doesn’t make any threats. He doesn’t set up any system to ensure his safety with these men around. He simply tells them that if they are not loyal that God will deal with them.

As Christians we will have problems. I know this to be true because Jesus said so. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. James goes so far as to say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) When this happens we should follow the example set by David. Just let God deal with them.

Ok, so we are not forming an army. We are not kings. We don’t have warriors defecting from our enemies army to join ours. But, we do have people that doubt us. People will speak out against us. People may even plot behind our backs to try to take us down or to destroy something that we have built. When these things happen we have two choices to make:
Get mad and confront them in an unwholesome way.
Let God deal with them.
I know that it is not easy, but I really think that if we just let God deal with them than it will actually work out much better for us.

Matt Norman

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An Attitude of Obedience

If you have read the past two posts, then you know that I recently made a difficult decision out of obedience to God. These types of decisions are often difficult, but it is of vital importance that we are obedient, even if we don’t understand.

I have repeatedly mentioned the example of Abram. When God called Abram, he did not say where Abram was going, he just told him to leave. So Abram left. This morning as I was reading my Bible I came across another beautiful example of obedience and the attitude that we should have. In Luke chapter 1 we read about when an angel visited Mary and told her that she was going to be pregnant. Mary didn’t understand what the angel was saying. In Mary’s mind what the angel was saying was impossible, it didn’t make any sense. How could Mary, who had never been with a man, be pregnant? This was the question that Mary asked the angel. The angel then explained that the Holy Spirit “will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Oh, that makes perfect sense.

The truth is that this probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Mary. I’ve been a nurse for a little over 13 years and I understand how babies are made and the explanation that the angel gave doesn’t sound anything like what I learned in nursing school. Obviously Mary also had at least a basic knowledge of how babies are made cause she told the angel that she had never been with a man. But, this is where the beauty of this story comes in. In spite of all this Mary says,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38 (NIV)

Do you see why I find this to be such a beautiful example of obedience? Do you see what I refer to in the title of this post, an Attitude of Obedience? You see Mary didn’t need to understand HOW this was going to work. She simply trusted what the angel said, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

There are times in our lives when God calls us to make decisions that may not seem make any sense. During these times we may not understand HOW God can do what He is promising. But, we must remind ourselves, as the angel said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” So, as I face uncertain days. As I face a path that may not seem to make sense to me or to some of those around me. As I face instructions that I don’t understand. I echo the words of Mary:

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

Is your attitude like Mary’s when i comes to obeying God? Are you willing to do what God calls you to do, even if you don’t understand it? In those moments when God is calling you to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense can you say echo Mary’s words and say:

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

Matt Norman

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A Letter to the People of The Rock, My Resignation

To the members and staff of The Rock of Winter Haven,

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I announce my resignation. Over the past year I have been experiencing a growing sense of unrest. A growing sense that God had something else planned for me. It is now time to step out and pursue that plan. I don’t yet know what God has planned for me and my family, but I am ready to embrace it, whatever it may be.

My years at The Rock have been among the best years of my life. There are people here that I love so dearly that I consider them to be more than simply friends, but family. Never in all my years have I experienced the kind of love that I have here, except with my own family. The Rock and its people will always be an important part of my life. Already I look forward to days when I can come back to visit this church that I have loved so much.

Many of you have watched me grow from a sometimes overly confident and quick to anger young man to the man of God and leader that I am now. The people that are The Rock have been a very important part of this growth. I thank each and every one of you for the part you have played in this growth. I certainly am not done growing both as a follower of Christ and as a leader, but you have brought me so far along this journey. I am truly a different man than when I stepped into this church 10 years ago.

To Pastor Mike, I thank you for the opportunity to lead and to grow as a leader. I thank you for having patience and confidence in me even through my many mistakes and failings. Pastor Mike gave me the opportunity to follow God’s calling on my life when, I believe, most other pastors would not have.

To the children and families of The Rock; please know that I still love you more than I could express. There is no way that I could ever forget you and I will never stop praying for you. What you don’t know is that you have ministered to me as much as I have ministered to you.

To the many friends I have at The Rock; I thank you for being my friend. There are some here that I care so deeply for that I almost can’t stand the thought of leaving. All of you have been an important part of the growth that I have experienced here. It is only because of this growth that I can even consider leaving. Whatever comes next in my ministry and in my life always know that you are still a part of it. You are a part of me and, therefore, a part of whatever I do.

Regardless of where I go or what God has planned for me I will always consider The Rock to be my home, the place where I grew up. My thoughts and prayers will always be with The Rock. Please know that I love each and everyone of you more that words could ever express.

Still Serving With Joy,

Pastor Matt

Matt Norman

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The Real Reason I’m Leaving.

Ok, now that it has officially been announced and I have nothing to lose I am going to let everyone know THE TRUTH. I know that many of you have suspected that there was more going on. In fact some of you have come right out and asked me. Some even confronted me, insisting that there had to me more to the story.

Well, here you go.

The real reason we are leaving is this GOD SAID SO.

I know that this may be hard to understand. I can’t say that I entirely understand it myself. Some have asked me “if you don’t know where you are going, how do you know that God is calling you to leave.” Well, I have only one answer, I just know. I really wish that I could explain it better than that, but I can’t. You see it is kinda like when God first called me to ministry. I can’t explain exactly how I knew that God was call me to ministry. However, I can still vividly remember the moment that it happened. I didn’t hear an audible voice. I didn’t see a vision. There was no burning bush. I do believe that God still speaks to people in an audible voice at times. I have talked with people that I trust and respect who have experienced this. I also believe that God speaks to people in visions. All I can say when God called me to ministry, is that I JUST KNEW.

Some have said that there must be more to the story. To you I say, I’m sorry to disappoint, but there truly isn’t. You may chose to believe me or not. Your choice does not change the truth. This is not due to any moral or ministry failure. We are not mad about anything and neither is Pastor Mike. I truly believe that God is calling me to something or somewhere else and that He told us that it is time to leave The Rock. I don’t know why He told us to leave. It is not my job to question this. My job is simply to listen for the voice of God and then to be obedient, perhaps even more so when the instructions are difficult.

Some have said that if I don’t know where God is calling me, then He can’t be calling me away. To you I will point to Genesis 12. This is where God called Abram. God told Abram in verse 1 to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to a land I will show you.” God didn’t tell Abram where he was going. All Abram had were instructions from God to leave and a promise that God would show him the way. I know I keep coming back to this passage and some of you may be tired of hearing it, but this is where I am. After God gave Abram his instructions verse 4 says, “So Abram left.” Abram was obedient and, later, God did show him where to go and did bless him.

I truly believe there is coming a day when we will look back on this moment and it will make perfect sense. In that moment we will know exactly what God had planned and why he chose this moment for us to leave. Until then I simply have to trust God and keep moving forward.

Matt Norman

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Do You “Nullify the Word of God”?

I’m reading a really great book right now called Better Off Without Jesus, by Chuck Bomar. I know that’s a rather shocking title. It comes from when Jesus told his disciples that it was to there benefit that He leave so that the Holy Spirit could come. The book is all about learning to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a really great book and I encourage everyone to read it. I will do a full book review on it as soon as I finish reading it. Stay tuned for that.

In the mean time I wanted to share a thought that was spurred by this book. In the book Chuck mentions Mark 7:13. In this passage Jesus tells the pharisees, “You have nullified the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” WOW! Jesus made a habit of rebuking the pharisees, but this one had to burn especially bad. You see these men thought themselves to be among the most spiritual of people. They memorized huge amounts of scripture. Yet, they didn’t know how to live it out. What Jesus is telling them is that they were focusing on so many things other than God. They were focusing their energy on a bunch of things that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t really matter. These things had no eternal importance.

So, what does this have to do with us?

Well, I would say it has much to do with us. You see, I grew up in the church. In fact I have been in the church since the time I was born. During that time I have seen and heard about many arguments that I would say “nullified the word of God.” Here are a few examples:
Music: Seems like this fight is as old as the church itself. Some say the music must be old. Others say it must be new or “relevant”.
Decor: While it may seem very strange I have heard of churches splitting over the color of carpet. I heard of a youth pastor that lost his job  because he painted the ceiling in the youth building black; after he had been given free reign over the space.
Bible Version: “If it’s not King James then it’s not the Bible.” I have heard this said by church leaders. The funny thing about it is the Bible was around for hundreds of years before the King James version. The Old Testament was even longer than that. Jesus quoted scripture from the Old Testament, even though he didn’t have a KJV Bible.

There are many more such things that we, as church leaders, can squabble over. At the end of the day, when it comes to such things I have to ask myself, “Does the Bible give specific instructions on this?” If the answer is no, then I have to keep this in mind and know that whatever we are doing probably represents more tradition than Bible.

Far more important than the style of music, the color of the carpet or the version of the Bible the your preacher uses is THE GOSPEL. Trends in ministry will come and go. Architectural styles will come and go. Musical styles are constantly changing. And, so long as the english language continues to change, new Bible versions will be needed and will come.

We can not allow ourselves to focus so much on these things that we forget to teach the GOSPEL. We can not focus so much on these things that we neglect the Word of God. We can not focus so much on these things that our actions “nullify the word of God.”

Please understand that I am not saying that traditions are all bad. Some traditions are very endearing and can even make people feel like they are a part of something. However, we CAN NOT put our own, man made traditions, above the word of God. I encourage church leaders and Christians to examine your practices. Ask yourself if they are Bible or simply tradition. Next ask yourself if your traditions have been placed at a higher level than the word go God. Then take action to remove, change, or re-prioritize anything that might be higher than the word go God.

Matt Norman

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