Taking Advantage of the Times When Plans Change

Due to inclement weather, both services tomorrow morning have been cancelled. We invite you to do this devotional with your family!

As the lead pastor, one of the hardest decisions I have to make has to do with cancelling services. It’s not that the decision itself is hard – when there’s snow, ice, and slippery roads, duh! No brainer! It’s the fact that we only meet together 52 times in a year that makes a decision like this difficult. Every time we gather together is precious to me. Each gathering is an opportunity for the Spirit of God to do the remarkable. It’s the same reason I don’t like to be gone on a Sunday. I selfishly don’t want to miss out on what God is doing!

At the same time, I also don’t want to miss out on what God has in store for me when my plans change. Maybe you are like me: always going, always doing, always looking for the next thing on my list (not that I actually make lists…it’s just a figure of speech!). For the last 18 months, I have been in a graduate course on plans-changing, which I’m calling “Heart Attack” and  “Cancer.”  I have found that there is something so wonderful and beautiful about interruptions in my timeline, in my agenda.

God’s word says Ps 46:10 (NLT)  “Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
These moments, when the snow falls and our plans change, are opportunities to see the sovereignty of God and look at His timeline, His Agenda. So I want to encourage you to look at this experience as a gift, and to pause and see God in a fresh way; to worship God in the quietness of your own home; and to be filled with His presence.

Passages About Pausing
I love the story of Elijah for lots of reasons, but today, I love that God met him right at his point of need! If God can do that for Elijah, He can do it for me.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the
mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in
the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the
earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak
over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said
to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  1 kings 19:11-13

One of the authors that I follow is John Eldridge.  Here are some excerpts I have been reading on the heart.

It Must Be Small            by John Eldridge  (I love “Lord of the Rings” analogies!)
“When he left Rivendell, Frodo didn’t head out with a thousand Elves. He had eight companions. Jesus didn’t march around backed by legions of angels, either. He had twelve men—knuckleheads, every last one of them, but they were a band of brothers. This is the way of the kingdom of God. Though we are part of a great company, we are meant to live in little platoons. The little companies we form must be small enough for each of the members to know one another as friends and allies.

Who will fight for your heart?
How can we offer the stream of counseling to one another, unless we actually know one another, know each other’s stories? The reason counseling became a hired relationship between two people was largely because we couldn’t find it anywhere else; we haven’t formed the sort of small fellowships that would allow the stream to flow quite naturally. Is it possible to offer rich and penetrating words to someone you barely know, in the lobby of your church, as you dash to pick up the kids?

Where will you find the Four Streams?
The Four Streams are something we learn, and grow into, and offer one another, within a small fellowship. We hear each other’s stories. We discover each other’s glories. We learn to walk with God together. We pray for each other’s healing. We cover each other’s back. This small core fellowship is the essential ingredient for the Christian life. Jesus modeled it for us for a reason. Sure, he spoke to the masses. But he lived in a little platoon, a small fellowship of friends and allies. His followers took his example and lived this way, too. “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (2:46). “Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house” (1 Cor 16:19). “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house” (Col 4:15).”

How He Sees You            by John Eldridge  
“In my anguish and despair, I hit my knees and turn my face to Jesus again and again and again. My cries for help have been agonizing groans laden with self-loathing, accusation, and desperation. And God has met me. In the midst of overwhelming shame. God has drawn me to his heart and spoken to me Truth. He speaks Love and Truth, right in the middle of my pain and the familiar voices screaming my failure.
Part of our healing comes with forgiveness (of ourselves and others), and part of it comes with repentance. But first, we have to begin with how God sees us. How he sees you. Do you know?
You are deeply and completely loved. (Rom. 8:38–39)
You are totally and completely forgiven. (1 John 2:12)
When God sees you, he sees the righteousness of Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:21)
You mean the whole world to him. (John 3:16)
He thinks you are beautiful. Right now. (Song of Songs 4:1)
He is committed to your restoration. (Rom. 8:29)
You are not now, nor have you ever been, alone. (Heb. 13:5)”

Most of Us Have Been Misinterpreting Life               by John Eldridge
“Most of us have been misinterpreting life and what God is doing for a long time. “I think I’m just trying to get God to make my life work easier,” a client of mine confessed, but he could have been speaking for most of us. We’re asking the wrong questions. Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God, why won’t you just ________” (fill in the blank—help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage—you know what you’ve been whining about). But to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions: What are you trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this? What is it you want me to see? What are you asking me to let go of? In truth, God has been trying to initiate you for a long time. What is in the way is how you’ve mishandled your wound and the life you’ve constructed as a result.

‘Men are taught over and over when they are boys that a wound that hurts is shameful,’ notes Robert Bly in Iron John. Like a man who’s broken his leg in a marathon, he finishes the race even if he has to crawl and he doesn’t say a word about it. A man’s not supposed to get hurt; he’s certainly not supposed to let it really matter. We’ve seen too many movies where the good guy takes an arrow, just breaks it off, and keeps on fighting; or maybe he gets shot but is still able to leap across a canyon and get the bad guys. And so most men minimize their wound. King David (a guy who’s hardly a pushover) didn’t act like that at all. ‘I am poor and needy,’ he confessed openly, ‘and my heart is wounded within me’ (Ps. 109:22).

Or perhaps they’ll admit it happened, but deny it was a wound because they deserved it. Suck it up, as the saying goes. The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it.”

I love my church and I can’t wait to be together with you all again! Stay connected via social media and check in on each other. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to really do life together!

Love you all!

Here’s my favorite Old Testament blessing for you: Num 6:24 –Num 6:26 (NIV) “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

Jeff

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