Removing Roadblocks To God


Sometimes things get in the way!

An aspiring artist was commissioned to do a large sculpture for a famous museum. At last, he had the opportunity to create the masterpiece he had long dreamed of completing. After laboring over the work for many years, he saw it grow not only in shape but in beauty.

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 7.22.33 AM

However, when it was finished, he discovered to his horror that it was much too large to be taken out a window or door and that the cost for tearing down a part of the building to remove it was prohibitive. His masterpiece was forever a captive to the room in which it was created. That is the type of roadblock many people meet building a relationship with God. Nothing a person does to earn God’s favor can leave the room of this earth where self-made works are created.

Have you ever dealt with a roadblock in your relationship with God? Have you ever wondered, how am I going to get to the other side of this?” As C.S. Lewis said, “Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted.”

In other words, don’t keep trying to figure out the big picture. You can’t. But you can take heart in the fact that your loving Father has you right where you need to be. And if that place is difficult right now, draw closer to the artist. Don’t try to take his brush from Him. Taking the brush will only lead to relationship roadblocks with God.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). In this chapter, Paul discusses seven key concepts that can help you avoid relationship roadblocks with God.

1. Grace: Receiving something you did not earn or deserve

No matter how many good works you line up, God’s not impressed. The person who insists that he or she can earn, or keep, salvation by their own efforts undermines the very foundation of Christianity. The work of salvation is entirely God’s doing and none of man’s. There is liberty in knowing you will never be good enough. But God’s grace is sufficient.

2. Faith: A reasonable belief in things not seen

Salvation is by God’s grace through faith plus nothing. The gospel is not about walking an aisle; it’s not about saying a prayer; it’s not about doing more good than bad. You can never do enough good things to get God’s attention. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works are the product of faith, not a substitute for it.

3. Legalism: An improper emphasis on following the law as a means of salvation

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 7.48.13 AM

Legalism is not Christianity. No amount of law-keeping can make a person righteous. You can never write enough rules to create a good person. Legalism does not please God but offends Him.

When they attacked Stephen, he observed, they did not charge him with worshiping Christ but with speaking “against the holy place, and the law” (Acts 6:13).

The cross still offends people today for the same underlying reason. People are prone to trust in what they can do for themselves and are offended when told they can do nothing at all to make themselves right before God.

4. Freedom: The ability to do what you ought to do

True freedom in Christ is the freedom to do what we OUGHT to do. The idea of Christian freedom is so easily misinterpreted and misapplied. Ironically, the more we assert self-centered freedom, the more we become enslaved to sin. When people choose to persist in a sin, they develop less control over it until they forfeit any choice entirely. “Truly, truly,” Jesus said, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).

5. License: Abusing freedom to do what you want to do

We are free. But we have to be very clear here. We are free to not sin. Our LIBERTY should not be used as a LICENSE to sin. Legalism and license have been pictured as two parallel streams that run between earth and heaven. The stream of legalism is clear, sparkling, and pure, but its waters run so deep and furiously that no one can enter it without drowning or being smashed on the rocks of its harsh demands.

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 7.43.02 AM

The stream of license, by contrast, is relatively quiet and still, and crossing it seems comfortable and attractive. But its waters are so contaminated with poisons and pollutants that to try to cross it is also certain death. Both streams are uncrossable and deadly, one because of impossible moral and spiritual demands, the other because of moral and spiritual filth.

But spanning those two deadly streams is the bridge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The two streams lead to death because they are man’s ways. The gospel of grace leads to life because it is God’s way.

6. Holiness: Doing what you ought to do in response to God’s love

Ours is a day that cries for liberation. Men, women, and even children are demanding more freedom to do as they please. In the name of personal rights, authority is flouted, and restrictions are resisted. But ours is also a day of addiction, not only to alcohol and drugs but also to sexual passions, violence, and many other forms of bondage in which a person eventually becomes powerless to escape.

The law demands holiness, but grace gives holiness. God loves imperfect people. This is why churches should be the perfect place for imperfect people. Jesus himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

7. Love: Responding to someone’s need with no expectation of reward

thumbnail_large-1

Rather than liberty being used for lust, the real goal should be love. “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). God demanded heart service, not mere lip service. Every relationship is harmonized in Christian freedom.  

Sometimes things get in the way.

What relationship roadblock are you experiencing with God today?

Afterthoughts | May 24, 2020

Copy of Stephen & Wendy Podcast

LISTEN NOW: May 24, 2020


SERIES TITLE: Who’s Your One?

SERMON TITLE: Andrew’s Vision of Value

SCRIPTURE: John 1:40-42


On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee.

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Screen Shot 2020-05-24 at 2.02.28 PMScreen Shot 2020-05-24 at 2.02.47 PM


GRACE UNDER PRESSURE


Have you felt pressure lately?

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 7.18.11 AMIf you are like me, pressure makes me want to work hard and rise to the occasion. But, there are important boundaries to set in this line of thinking. Let me explain.

The Christian journey is not about arriving at the destination of self-righteousness or acheivement, quite the opposite. The Christian journey is about Christ’s righteousness being expressed through you.

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Not by our own achievements. Grace takes the pressure off when you are under pressure.

Here are four ways grace saves you when you are under pressure.


1. Grace saves you from having to be perfect.

“It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised.” – The Apostle Paul

The only two fundamental religions in the world are that of divine accomplishment and that of human achievement. Only Christianity presents salvation as a divine accomplishment by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

CS1t-YWU8AAHE5hThe religion of human achievement encompasses all the other religions of the world. Because of this, the Christian church is the perfect place for imperfect people.

See, it’s not the strength of our faith that saves us; it’s the object of our faith that saves us. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, He becomes the object of our faith, and He saves us.

You can’t lose your salvation, because it’s not yours to lose. Christ is the one who  does the saving, and He’s got you. It’s ok to be imperfect.


2. Grace saves you from having to please people.

“They desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” – The Apostle Paul

Are you a people pleaser? Let me encourage you to avoid the disease to please. “No” is a powerful word. “No” is also a hard word. We don’t want to let people down, miss out on opportunities, or be labled narrow-minded. However, a well placed “no” is essential in the toolbox of life.

TRUTH: To say yes to the right things, we must say no to the wrong things.

unnamedOswald Chambers said, “the whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.” Too many times, I am guilty of saying yes to things when I should have said no. And, before I know it, I am stretched too thin and overcommitted.

TRUTH: If you’re always available, you’re never available.

In recent months, I have gained a new appreciation for “no.” As a parent, saying “no” is not optional. As a leader, saying “no” defines your organization. As a mentor, saying “no” models to those watching what you think is important. As a kid or a youth, saying “no” can save your life. It is ok to say “no.”


3. Grace saves you from having to be the best.

“Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – The Apostle Paul

The cross allows no place for human pride, status, or achievement. If you believe in humanity’s innate goodness or our ability to save ourselves, you would have difficulty using the cross as a demonstration of God’s love.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 6.41.51 AMIf a woman were sitting safely on a pier and someone jumped into the water and drowned in a supposed effort to rescue her, the act would be considered pointless, not loving.

Jesus’ crucifixion was necessary because humanity is not sitting safely on the pier of life but is lost in sin and doomed to death. The crucifixion was necessary because there was no other way for man to be saved.

It is the power of the cross that makes us presentable to God. Jesus Christ is the one and only “greatest of all time.” It’s ok to not be the best.


4. Grace saves you from having to live a life of safety.

I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” – The Apostle Paul

Somewhere along the line, we believed the lie that we should prioritize safety above all else. But Christ has not called us to live a life of safety.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 6.49.28 AMI have founds that, if a thing costs me nothing, I tend to value it at nothing. Christ values us so profoundly that He was willing to die on a cross for us.

Paul offered as a final proof to his critics the marks of Jesus on his body. They demonstrated he was a slave of Christ and not just a people-pleaser.

At Lystra, he was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. Paul was not a “people pleaser.”  It’s ok to prioritize security in Christ over safety in the world.

  • Grace saves you from having to be perfect.
  • Grace saves you from having to please people.
  • Grace saves you from having to be the best.
  • Grace saves you from having to live a life of safety.

Grace takes the pressure off when you are under pressure.


LISTEN TO THIS BLOG AND MORE ON SOUNDCLOUD

Afterthoughts | May 17, 2020

Copy of Stephen & Wendy Podcast

LISTEN NOW: May 17, 2020


SERIES TITLE: Who’s Your One?

SERMON TITLE: A STORY OF HELL

SCRIPTURE: Luke 16:19-31


On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee.

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 1.50.36 PMScreen Shot 2020-05-17 at 1.50.46 PM


5 Lies I Hear As A Pastor – Video



As a pastor, I hear a lot of lies. Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth. Today, I want to share five lies I regularly hear as a pastor that we need to stop rehearsing and endorsing.


LIE #1 – My marriage can’t make it.

11667764-0-image-a-14_1553985845827This lie is one that we really need to correct. If Jesus loves you enough to go to the cross for you, He loves you enough for your marriage to make it. If He can save the world, He can save your marriage. I am thankful to be part of a church that takes marriage seriously. If you have experienced a failed marriage, you know how painful it can be. But even a failed marriage in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy marriage in the future.

I believe in your marriage, and I know God believes your marriage can make it.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your marriage can’t make it.

TRUTH: Your marriage CAN make it.  


LIE #2 – I’m not good enough.

26461166565_03c142bd7c_oAmerican artist James Whistler was once advised that a shipment of blank canvases he had ordered had been lost in the mail. When asked if the canvases were of any great value, Whistler remarked, “not yet, not yet.”

The keyword here is VALUE. You have great value in the eyes of God. You and I are good enough to die for you. Take a moment and correct this lie in your mind and your heart. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. When God gets involved, our past mistakes no longer define us. We have a clean slate. Paul wrote, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). None of us is perfect. The church exists to be the perfect place for imperfect people because God loves imperfect people.

I think you are good enough and God says you are good enough.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that you are not good enough.

TRUTH: You ARE good enough.


LIE #3 – God doesn’t care about me.

Grace-1The church exists to share the good news of salvation by grace alone. We are saved by grace, but we still struggle in this world. Because God has not yet removed evil, we live in an evil world that results in pain and suffering. How do we understand and deal with our pain and suffering? Remember that God is at work and never wastes a hurt. His silence is not absence. Sometimes waiting is important, so be prepared to be still and have hope. Realize you are not alone, and the journey is important. Our freedom from pain is delayed but not denied. Jesus is enough. Ask yourself, “what is God doing here?” Ask yourself, “will I trust Him?”

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust. ” Psalm 18:2

I care about you, and I know that God cares about you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that God doesn’t care about you.

TRUTH: God DOES care about you.


LIE #4 – Things will never get better.

This lie is the soil of depression, anxiety, and defeat. The hardest situations in life present a choice to either get BETTER or BITTER. Talking with God can help you push back bitterness and become a better person. The keyword here is HOPE.

Motivational huddles aren't just for sports teams

When you feel like you have lost hope, talk with God. We exist to be people who pray without ceasing. One of the benefits of a relationship with God is that we have direct access to Him through prayer. However, we often misunderstand prayer to be our way of getting God to change our circumstances. When Paul prayed for people in the Bible, he never asked God to change their circumstances. Instead, he asked God to make them better in their circumstances. Even if your circumstances don’t get better, YOU CAN. Share with God about your situation and ask Him to give you the wisdom to see your situation from His perspective.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

I believe things will get better and I know God has great things ahead for you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that things will never get better. 

TRUTH: Things WILL get better.


LIE #5 – My life doesn’t matter.

Sad-borderline-personality-disorder-Woman-In-Depression-And-Despai-63903205This lie is a dangerous and life-threatening one. Recent statistics tell us that there are about 5,000 teenagers who commit suicide every year. There are 2 million serious suicide attempts among young people each year.

God made us for relationships, and He created us to need each other. Someone needs to hear this today. You are needed! Christ paid a high cost for your life and for mine. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1John 3:1). If he loves us that much, who are we not to love ourselves? If you think the world would be better off without you, you are wrong. That is a lie. You are needed! You are loved, and you are not alone.

I believe your life matters, and I know your life matters to God.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your life doesn’t matter.

TRUTH: Your life DOES matter.


Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth.

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Stop rehearsing, and endorsing lies. 

Afterthoughts | May 3, 2020

Copy of Stephen & Wendy Podcast

LISTEN NOW: May 3, 2020


SERIES TITLE: Who’s Your One?

SERMON TITLE: The Importance Of One

SCRIPTURE: John 1:45-46;49, Matthew 13:44-46


On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee.

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Screen Shot 2020-05-03 at 1.57.33 PMScreen Shot 2020-05-03 at 1.57.43 PM