Saturday, June 27, 2009

bad to great, part iv

Peter loses a friend. He does not see how this part of his life will turn out, but it's very painful right now. He learns that God makes all things work together for good for those who love him, but although he wants to believe it, this doesn't make sense. He realizes that it might take time to experience the good, and so he tries to press into God through prayer, fellowship, and worship, but the hurt does not go away. He is in despair.

allow God to redefine 'good' in your life

"Be always on the watch, and pray..."
Luke 21:36

I heard the story of a middle-aged man who lost his father at a very young age due to heart failure. All his life he was burdened by this loss and suffered greatly from it. On top of his pain he also had inherited a high predisposition to the same heart complications. The combination of the absence of his father and a seeming spite by our Creator, led him into years of bitterness, anger and depression. One day he had a serious, life-threatening heart attack which lead to surgery, and eventually more surgery. His brother also had a bad heart, and was treated for similar issues.

Then 'good' was redefined in his life. See, his father's death was so strange that doctors did an autopsy and numerous tests on his body. After years of studying the condition and its causes, when this man and his brother suffered from the same problems, they were able to be treated. By dying a tragic death at a young age, this man's death became a sacrifice. This evil was redefined years later to save the lives of his two sons.

Remember Peter and his friend who died so tragically? How terrible was it for this man's life to be taken? Jesus, who was God's only Son, and who was supposed to save the world, whom was murdered, how could that evil, that tragedy be overcome? Three days later God redefined good in Peter's life, in his friends' lives, and in the lives of everyone in history. It was only by dying that Christ could be raised.

There is no evil God cannot overcome. He is working all things together for good for those who love him, and one day his good work will come to completion. So wait, be patient, watch and pray. Allow God to redefine 'good' in your life!

bad to great, part iii

So God is working to make good of everything in our lives. We don't always see it, but we try hard to remember that he is. This goes against every fiber of our being at times, but we want to trust God and try to do it more and more.

allow God to redefine 'good' in your life

Let's apply another Scripture verse to our discussion.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion"
Philippians 1:6

This verse points out another difficulty in applying this concept to our lives: the timing. The bringing to completion of good works in us takes time, maybe a lifetime. So Peter, who grieves the death of his friend, might understand that it will work out in the end, but struggles because that might not happen for some time.

So in that period of waiting, Peter must continue to love God (see part ii), and expect his love to overcome Peter's loss. It's that simple, but we don't make it that simple most of the time. So often an event like this will shake our faith; we think that since things aren't going so well that God is not looking after us, God is not good, maybe God doesn't even exist. I know that's how I feel.

But God cares more about our character than our comfort. God does not promise that bad things won't happen, instead he says when they do, "Fear not!" He wants us to press further into him in our weakness, in our doubt, in our fear. Because when we do, will will always find that he is working to bring it to completion in a great way.

Monday, June 22, 2009

station identification

Although a friend of mine chastised those who "twitter dump" (def: multiple posts in a short time after an extended period of neglect) earlier this week, I'm pretty sure I'm about to "blog dump"... I must say however that this 'mini-series' idea hasn't been the best for me. Having to draft my blog posts only hinders me from building up any momentum, and it definitely kills the spontaneity of the whole thing.

I'm going to pause here to give a personal update and will aim to wrap up this 'bad to great' stuff by week's end.

Katrina Relief
I had an awesome time going down with 5 other guys from Nativity to sheet rock a house in Mississippi. We helped a couple whose house was 'relocated' 150 yards inland after the hurricane four years ago. They were very gracious and hospitable and taught us all a lesson in dedication and perseverance.

Production schedule
The staff is undertaking a production schedule this summer that will allow for 16 weeks of lead time from "ideating" to delivering each message series in 2009-10. This is really exciting for us because it's going to enable all aspects of the weekend to unleash new potential. More time and energy will be devoted to developing the message content, the creative look, and synergy among ministries, which will result in greater focus and intentionality.

Vision casting
Saturday morning, a number of ministers, leaders, and members of the staff got together to brainstorm about the future of Nativity. It was really promising. The pastor began by saying that all things are rooted in personal history as he then gave some background info and told a bit of his story. How important it is to begin a big picture, big idea, long-term, planning session with personal history! The only way to figure out where you're headed is to understand from where you came. Take a minute to read Nehemiah 9 and Joshua 7 to learn about how our personal histories affect us.