A Pastor's Heartbeat


Handling Disputes In Joy City

Hello, hello, hello and welcome to Joy City, a weekly blog and podcast, hosted by yours truly, Stuart Welch the Lead Pastor of Life Connection Church located in Modesto, CA. I want to invite you in, to join with an amazing community of friends that are quickly becoming an intimate part of my daily life. I am your host and excited to hear your stories and deliver great content that can change your life and truly transform as we celebrate the greatness of God and His presence in the every day moments of our lives. Knowing the Creator, the Grand Weaver of our lives is present with us and then leaning into that Presence can be revolutionary for many of us, so lets enter in to the City – Joy City. 

You see, Joy City isn’t a geographical location, it’s a place where we find our joy and happiness in the kingdom of God, following hard after God and fulfilling the call of God in our lives. It’s a place that welcomes us all with open arms. In Joy City faith is all important, our trust and confidence in the ways, will and word of God. Let me hip you to this; Jesus never uttered and opinion, ha ha ha, He never guessed. He didn’t give us sound wisdom or keen observation like Solomon. Not at all, Jesus’ words are the essence of truth and when we adhere and follow them intently, we become stronger, healthier and joyful. Understanding that Christ overcame the world and for me and every other resident of Joy City, this brings great rejoicing. 

This reminds me of a mother who had a very active and wiggly 3-year old she was trying to keep in her car seat. Every time the mom would start driving the little girl would unsnap her seat belt and try and stand up in her car seat. Mom would stop and tell her to sit down and buckle her back in, well after numerous  stops and starts – Mom said look, you unbuckle your seatbelt again you aren’t going to get to go with me anymore. So with a frown on her face and those sad eyes the little girl sat down and Mom started driving, as mom checked her rear view mirror she saw her little girl smiling brightly and her hands up and down in the air and singing and Mom said, what are you doing – the little girl said, “I’m standing up on the inside mommy!” ha ha ha – I love that and when you see me smiling or clapping my hands and dancing in the grocery store line or at the Walmart – just know I’m standing up on the inside. Glory hallelujah and not just me, but every resident of Joy City is standing up on the inside and shouting, rejoicing in the opportunity to worship our Creator, the Giver of Life and the Sustainer of our Days, Almighty God. You see Joy City residents can celebrate in school, at work or while handling every day chores of life, there are no city limits in Joy City…

So lets get into this week’s episode on dealing with disputes, many people think we are living in some far away land that it’s impossible to live in when you are surrounded by all this COVID, mask mandates, vax’d or un-vax’d, rising prices and homelessness – how you gonna live in Joy City. That friends is called “the cares of this life.” Last week, I dealt with pain and suffering – this week, lets talk about handling disputes. 

You see in the book of Acts, we see the introduction of Joy City with the Apostles, I spoke on that last week, so go back and listen to that podcast to catch up. As the Word is spreading, some cities sent for the Apostle Paul to come and preach and teach in their city and Paul would respond by teaching the Gospel message from the beginning to the raising of Jesus from the dead and would conclude with the message that “and this salvation is now offered to all of you” and the city would rejoice. So much so, they would beg for Paul to come back each week and preach this message and the Bible says, nearly the entire City would come out.

But guess what the result in this was? Yup, you already know it, envy arose, the Gentiles were glad but the Jews expelled Paul and Barnabas from the city. Now how do you handle these situations, how do you handle dissention – God always has an answer and a template for us to follow. Paul and Barnabas took one route, they shook the dust from their feet and went their way. But they went their way it says with GREAT JOY and the Holy Spirit. You see they didn’t let what others thought about them, felt about them, said about them alter their JOY. Beloved, as residents of Joy City, our worth, value or significance does not depend on OTHERS. Hallelujah, it depends on how God values us. So come on in, join the family, join the community of residents, some old some new but all rejoicing to be a part of God’s family. 

Now I’m already knowing, some of you are saying – well, I can’t just shake the dust from my feet, I can’t just pick up and leave, I can’t just take off – these people live with me, they are my spouse, my children, my parents, my family or co-workers on my job and students in my class. Whatever the relationship, I can’t get away from them – so what do I do. 

Let me say this, don’t ever get caught up on the demonstration of the Christian life over the true heart connection of the Christian life. What I mean by that is many times we hear, “hey, fake it till you make it.” No my friend, don’t try and fake it, it won’t last and then you really have a dilemma. No, no, what you do is get real with your God, Father, I’m really struggling here – I really need You to guide and lead like you did the apostles so that I can rejoice and celebrate in the midst of this chaos. Trust me, God wants to and He’s waiting to – He promises if you call He will answer, He will reveal Himself and He is not a respecter of persons, but what He does for one, he will do for all. Glory to God. 

So lets look at another example of resolving disputes from the Apostle Paul who has had his share of lessons in order to teach us. In the 4th chapter of the book of Philippians we see a dispute between Euodia and Syntyche. Now we don’t know what caused their dispute, which shows God is not necessarily concerned with the cause of the dispute as He is with the disruption of the UNITY in the Body. God desires the Body of Christ work in sync with itself, that every member of the Body functions as prescribed and performs its duty to the benefit of the Body, so anytime that UNITY is fractured, God has remedy. So here, Paul pleads rather than commands. You see, he doesn’t appeal to his authority over them, he appeals to them as their friend, a brother in Christ, giving us a glimpse how we entreat one another as brothers and sisters, not authoritarians. Then he calls the community to engage in the matter, yes we are one another’s keeper and we are to be concerned with what impacts one of us impacts all of us. We are relational beings, relationships are under attack from all sides; I mean our belief systems, COVID and mask or vaccines, families are being torn apart and over the last few years, we have clearly seen where the holes are as relationships are being ruptured daily. So Paul urges the residents of Joy City, hey lets come together and lets engage in this situation and then he directs them back to the constitution of Joy City, “be of the same mind in the Lord.” 

This goes back to chapter 2 as the apostle was setting the tone, “Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, FULFILL MY JOY by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let NOTHING be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also the interests of others. 

Now I have to laugh at myself in reading this and speaking this to you, because I have to be reminded of this daily. Ha ha ha, you see this morning I was just praying AGAIN, God I’m nothing, let me decrease that You may increase, God I’m merely a worm in the dust…I’m laughing because I was hurt last week when I was overlooked, I was hurt when they picked someone over me, even when someone said my teaching and preaching wasn’t all that – BUT FRIENDS THE MEEK MAN CARES NOT AT ALL WHO IS GREATER. And this is Paul’s appeal to handing division and conflict. Esteem another higher than yourself, now, what’s to disagree about. Pride is competitive by nature and tries to lift one above another, which promotes conflict more than unity. 

By contrast, humility and meekness accepts a place of servanthood with concern for the needs of others. IT’S NOT ABOUT AGREEING WITH EACH OTHER IN THIS INSTANCE, BUT THAT THEY SHOULD BOTH HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF UNITY. 

So when God opens our eyes in Joy City we can clearly celebrate others for our differences, we can support one another in our efforts and we can cheer one another on in the spirit of unity and when One wins we all win. 

No one can come face to face with what God is like and ever be the same. Welcome to Joy City. Seeing His true image, touches the depths of our soul and beholding His glory will renew our minds, transform us and give us strength to live this life for Him. Come on in, where the table is spread and the feast of the Lord is going on. I want to invite you to be a part, a resident of Joy City. A place where the Body becomes stronger and our love for others only increases. 

I’ve enjoyed being your host and you can comment below, or email me at pastorstuart@lifeconnection4christ.org or call me at (209) 522-3583.