Who Can the Church Love?

Joanne, Jose III, & Joel Cortes speak with a gentleman in the streets of Hamilton, Bermuda

The ministry of Jesus was a ministry of inclusion, not exclusion, and that makes perfect sense. After all, what would be the point of dying for people and then excluding them from experiencing God’s love and the opportunity of accepting His grace? Doing that would be inconsistent, not smart, and perhaps a waste of Jesus’ time on earth and of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It is simple and Jesus knew it, you cannot save people by excluding them. Jesus was crystal clear, if He was going to have a shot at saving humanity, they needed to see His love for them. That’s why He came and dwelt amongst us and became one of us.

I met an 18 year old, who shocked and saddened me when he unapologetically told me that he had found more evidence for Satan’s existence than for God’s existence in his church. When I inquired more about it, he told me a sad story, showed me two tattoos on each side of his neck and added, “no one in my church ever acknowledges me or says anything to me, they look at me funny and move on, as if I had a contagious disease, I definitely don’t belong there.” 

I saw, with my own eyes, how a young lady was asked to leave church on a Sabbath afternoon because she was wearing pants. When my wife and I stood up for her, she told us it had been a while since she had last been to church, but feeling unworthy and inadequate to come to the morning “Worship Service” she had decided to come in the afternoon. We were holding a special prayer session for an upcoming Evangelistic Series we were about to launch in that area. As soon as she walked in, she was told she could not enter the sanctuary wearing sweatpants. Turns out she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and trying to hide her belly.

Who Can the Church Love?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love guys with tattoos, ladies who wear pants to church, girls who are pregnant out of wedlock, and people who smell like smoke, among others, who can the Church of Jesus love? What is the purpose of the church then? Why do we even exist?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love all sinners, like Jesus did, then it is not a Church, and it is not of Jesus. Jesus loved all sinners and was always ready to minister to them, regardless of their sin. If you don’t love them, it will be very hard to reach, retain, or reclaim them.

Jesus did not baptize all the people He healed, fed, and counseled; yet He still healed them, took away their hunger, and blessed them because He loved them.

Is Your Church Filled with People of Different Walks of Life?

If your church is not filled with people of different backgrounds and walks of life, it is perhaps because they don’t feel that your church is a safe place for them. Jesus loved tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews, Gentiles, poor, rich, children, men, women, and Pharisees. This is why people of different walks of life approached Him and followed Him.

We, the Church of Jesus, must be willing to love people who sin differently than we do. Jesus died for them, as much as He died for me and you.

Where Do We Draw the Line?

Where do we draw the line? The answer is simple, we draw the line where Jesus did. When a woman, who had just been caught in the act of adultery, was brought to Him, and her accusers looked for approval from Jesus to stone her, He said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone…” Then He told her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

We are much more like Jesus when we are inclusive with other sinners. We reflect His character best when the doors of our churches are opened to people of different walks of life and backgrounds. We are way more effective reaching, retaining, and reclaiming North America when we are filled with the Love of God and the Compassion of Jesus.

Let’s just try it! Jesus did!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.

 

Honoring Our Moms on Mother’s Day and Always

On this day we honor our mothers with love and gratitude, recognizing that each one is a precious, vital, and irreplaceable gift of God to humanity. We congratulate women, who may have not given birth to a child, yet true mothers who have made a difference in the lives of kids, teens, and young adults. You are treasured, loved, and not forgotten. Your commitment and dedication to service and ministry are noticed and very valuable to us and to God. Without you, our world, communities, schools, and churches could not be.

We also cherish the great memories of mothers, who gave us so much love for many years, and are no longer physically with us. We miss them and long for the Second Coming of Jesus, when we will see them face to face.

Today, we pray for comfort for our mothers who will not receive a hug, a gift, or hear the words “I love you” from a child that has passed away. We pray that our merciful and compassionate God will embrace you with His love and peace, and the hope of a better day.

Together we would like to call on sons and daughters everywhere, to love, respect, and be the Eyes, Heart, Hands, and Feet of Jesus to moms, not only on Mother’s Day but every single day. We also call on each mother to be an example of love, truth, and faith to the children and grandchildren that God has put under your care. That this verse, which was written to Timothy, can also be true in your lives and the lives of your children: “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” (II Timothy 1:5)

With lots of love today and always!!!

Pastor Jose, Joanne, Jose III, & Joel Cortes

CortesFam2015

Lessons on Family & Leadership

Joel & PapaIt was January 19, 2007, eight years ago tonight, I was at Tranquil Valley Retreat Center in New Jersey with hundreds of Youth and Young Adult leaders. It was opening night for our Greater New York Adventist Youth Ministries Leadership & Evangelism Congress. After the service, as our team was working on accommodating those who had arrived a bit later, my wife Joanne called from Long Island, New York.  She said she was beginning to feel a bit funny. This was the first time I ever remember her not being with me at one of our events, since being married. The reason, she was very pregnant and about 2 weeks away from the delivery date. The second reason, we really wanted our second Baby to be born in New York, just like Jose III, our first boy had. 

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Be Inclusive! A Lesson from the First Christmas!

Immanuel means God with us. Question, who is US? Is US the people who are just like me, the ones who look like me, speak like me, believe like me, or perhaps the ones who go to church with me? Who is US? Is it just the few that I spend time with? I am wondering, who is the Bible referring to, when it says US? Was Jesus thinking of a little group, those whom I love and enjoy, or perhaps a larger group, which may include someone who looks different, believes different, speaks different, someone I don’t enjoy spending time with? Who is US?

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“We Are All One”

There is a quote taken from the famous speech “I Have a Dream” given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Many things have changed since this quote was eloquently uttered by Martin Luther King. The United States of today is a much different place. Though many of the things that Martin Luther King peacefully fought for have been accomplished, yet there are areas of growth where improvements are needed. Prejudism of all types, (racial, against women, children, youth, ethnic groups which are not large enough to be recognized, and even reversed prejudism) still exists in our society and many times among Christians.

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“We Are All ONE”

Originally posted on January 17, 2011

There is a quote taken from the famous speech “I Have a Dream” given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Many things have changed since this quote was eloquently uttered by Martin Luther King. The United States of today is a much different place. Though many of the things that Martin Luther King peacefully fought for have been accomplished, yet there are areas of growth where improvements are needed. Prejudism of all types, (racial, against women, children, youth, ethnic groups which are not large enough to be recognized, and even reversed prejudism) still exists in our society and many times among Christians.

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“Stay in the City”

originally published 2/3/11

For years, many Christians have forgotten about the city; I hear people talk about cities as if cities are totally forsaken by God; places where sin and corruption abound and way beyond redemption. I have heard many, still today, who take some quotes out of context and preach that we must all leave the city. With millions of people who need Jesus in the cities, they want to leave the city?  My question is: Who is going to reach these people?  On the other hand, If we go to the mountains, who are we going to reach there? The deer population, the squirrels, the trees?

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Compassion, the Bridge to the Post-Christian

A recent study by the Barna Group revealed that eight of the top 10 post-Christian cities in the United States are in the Atlantic Union territory: Albany, New York (1), Burlington, Vermont (2), Portland, Maine (3), Providence, Rhode Island (4), Hartford, Connecticut (5), Boston, Massachusetts (7), Buffalo, New York (8), and New York, New York (9). According to this study, the area where we have been called to minister and proclaim the good news of Jesus is highly post-Christian.

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“Sing”

The Bible is filled with commands to sing, sing a new song, make a joyful noise, sing with instruments.  Why Sing?  Because: singing glorifies God, singing blesses your soul, singing does the body good (remember that milk commercial), singing takes away your depression, singing changes your attitude, singing helps you to achieve victory, singing scares the enemy, singing shortens the journey and lightens your load.

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