Who can you Trust? Psalm 20

We have been in Whitby for 15 years now. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

It feels like yesterday when we moved from Maple (2 min from Wonderland, which is not all it’s cracked up to be) to Jays Drive, Whitby. Our house sell experience was interesting.

Sold in January, moved out in April, closed the new house in August. Lived in my parents basement in between. (Good times)

Lots happened in that span…

– We had a fun experience with our house sale. NOT FUN. Long story short, the buyers tried to change the price before closing. It didn’t happen, we won, and sold.
– Our daughter Madison was born
– My dad passed
– And…we nearly lost our down payment…YA…all because of a shady investor.

This is what happened in a nut shell…
– had mutual funds with this broker, nothing fancy
– sold our home, needed a place for my down payment to sit
– left it with him in a secured investment
– when we needed it to close, he was late, and was having a hard time transferring the funds
– that was a LONG day, that turned into a second day, which moved our closing one day (don’t you worry, I charged our investor the bridge finance fee
– fortunate for us, we got the funds, closed the house, and moved to Whitby
– we found out a few months later, that very unfortunate for others, they did lose money, lots of it. (So Sad)

THEY – I – trusted him.

Even though you hear about these things all the time, we never thought that this person was capable of doing what he did. He broke trust with loyal clients, old time friends, and even family.

– – – – – – –

Trust is beautiful…until it’s broken.
Trust is comforting…until it crumbles.
Trust is settling…until it collapses.
Trust is reliable…until it’s not.

Who did YOU trust…that disappointed?
Who did YOU trust in…that failed you?
(people, government, tech, cars, systems, stuff, jobs, leaders)

In Psalm 20, we land on a verse that so emphatically challenges us to be thoughtful and careful of who and where we put our trust.

 

Before we land there, let’s read through this Psalm.

 

 

Psalm 20:1-5
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

After reading this a few times, I noticed that David is praying for someone else, not himself. Biblical Scholars call this a royal Psalm; one that is about and for the King. But which king?

– The current King who David might be praying for?
– Himself, who will one day be King?
– Or looking way into the future, the Messiah, who he knows will be THE KING?

I find it comforting knowing that David, takes time, to pray for a leader, but more than that, for another – for others.

Many of the psalms are personal prayers.
– God help me
– God save me
– God deliver me

But here, for the king, or even if it’s for his people, his community, David is praying for others.

It’s verse 7, which we’ll get to, got me to this Psalm, but verses 1-5 got my attention too. These words, this prayer, made me think:
– Who am I praying for?
– Do I use all of my journal space for me, or are there a few lines dedicated to others, those I lead, and those who lead me, those I do life with?

We learn something about all of us in this Psalm
– we get distressed
– we need help
– we desire to do well
– we need to acknowledge where we’re lacking

We also learn about God in this Psalm
– He answers us
– He helps, supports, remembers, gives, …
– His name means something, it carry’s weight, it has power attached to it.

Most importantly, we learn that we can TRUST him. We can trust God.

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

Some may trust in horses…
Some may trust in chariots…

BUT we
         TRUST
                  in
         the NAME of the LORD our GOD

What a plain and simple and important thought we have in this Psalm…

Don’t worry about what SOME do…
Don’t focus on what SOME trust in…

What things, after some reflection, do you, or did you, put too much trust in?

Fill the blank… Some may trust in _________? I may have trusted in _________?

In Deuteronomy 17:16, we read these instructive words,
The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”

God is saying to Israel, ‘don’t be like the people you left’, ‘don’t be like the people who enslaved you’, ‘don’t count what you have and put your trust in it, trust me, God’.

We read these very familiar words in Proverbs 3,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

– – – – – – – –

We posted this image in our story yesterday. The US dollar, the (apparent) envy of the economic world, has these words on it. (In God we Trust)

This was first put on coins in 1863. It was put into their law in 1956, Dwight Eisenhower, signed it into law. Why? I hope it was to show that they trusted in something other than money?

The thing with trust is…you can say you trust something or someone, but your actions are the proof at the end of the day. The US dollar is a perfect example of this. (ask me later why I think this).

The question for us today is this…

What will we put our absolute trust in?

I mean, do your homework and research…when it comes to investing, your health, your purchases, your relationships, make good decisions. Due diligence is important when it comes to these things. You want to feel comfortable about moving forward with your savings, your investments, your friendships, your important life decisions. But in the end, don’t put your absolute trust in anything or anyone else but GOD.

As David so plainly encourages us to ask…
Will we be the people who trust in ________ or will we trust in the name of the Lord our God?

Village Songs : Psalm 61

Have you ever turned a corner in your life and been totally surprised by what you found? There are wonderful stories about this, where people have walked into blessings beyond their wildest dreams: finances, relationships, a new job, etc. There are other stories that aren’t so wonderful. These are the corners you turn and find a job loss, a broken relationship, an illness, etc.

Our family has turned the corner to find one of these such things. It’s not fun, at all, but…I told someone this week that even though we had no clue what was around the corner, God was both turning the corner with us, and already there to meet us.

– – – – – – – –

How do we pray during these kinds of seasons?

How do we talk to God when things become chaotic and out of control?

What’s our plan for when we feel very far away from God?

Enter stage left…the Psalms.

The Psalms are…
– the prayer book for a community of people
– words to use when your own words are hard to say or hard to find
– liturgy in good and bad seasons
– some kind of consistency when life is far from consistent

Some have called the Psalms the great Hymnbook of the Bible.
They are among the oldest poems in the world.
They can be, for those who want them to be, a window into the bright lights and the dark corners of the soul.
Often times, they point beyond present realities, while still hitting home so deeply; like a good and well written song, they say more than the author may have even intended them to say.

NTW said this about the Psalms:
“It seems wisest to think of the Psalms, in their present forms, being collected and shaped in the time of the Exile in Babylon (6th Century BC). When paradoxically, the people who found it unthinkable to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land may have found that actually singing those songs (and writing some new ones) was one of the few things that kept them sane and gave them hope.”

What’s he trying to say?

The Psalms are poems and songs that do more than you think they can do, touch deeper than you think you needed, say more than you even knew you needed to hear.

For the next few weeks this summer, we’ll dive into a few of these songs/poems and see what they say, how they impact us, and what God does with and through them.

We’re calling this series, Village Songs, because these are songs for and from a community. Our hope is that 1) we understand what they have to say on the surface, and 2) they spur us on to sing our own songs to God – our own raw, real and redemptive songs to God.

– – – – – – – –

For today, I’d like us to briefly look at Psalm 61.

King David wrote this song. We’re not sure the context or the setting, but we know one thing for sure, it was written from a deep love for God that came out of great adversity and struggle.

It has two running themes in it…
– A prayer for protection (from God)
– A declaration of confidence (in God)

Let’s read it and see where we land:

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

We can split this Psalm up in 3 ways with 3 words:

ASK
AKNOWLEDGE
ARRIVE

ASK…

We read words like this…

Hear me / Listen to me / Lead me / I long for you

David is pouring his heart out. We don’t know exactly why, but we know he is struggling.

The words ‘from the ends of the earth’ are a metaphor for distance – the distance between him and God.

  • Think of some metaphors you use that aren’t true, but reflect the truth about how you’re feeling.
    • Life is like a roller coaster
    • My home feels like a prison (said many 14 year old girls)
    • The DVP is always a parking lot (ok, this might be real)
    • He/She is a walking dictionary

All of these aren’t real, but they’re real to you.

Because David truly and deeply feels far from God…he has the confidence to ask him…

Hear me GOD
Listen to me GOD

As a kid I used to try and get my mom’s attention by moving her chin towards me. It was probably rude, but I just wanted my mom to look at me when I was talking to her. Guess who does that to me now? My daughter.

Lead me…to the ROCK that is HIGHER than I.

If we can just get to this point in our lives at every moment and every turn.

  • God you’re the ROCK
  • God you’re stronger
  • God I’m lower
  • God you’re higher

These are song lyrics you can sing no matter what year it is, what era, what culture, what circumstance – they ring true forever.

ACKNOWLEDGE…

The Psalmist moves from the question to the reason why he’s asking God this question.

YOU have been
YOU have heard
YOU have given

Sometimes…especially when praying, you have to look back in order to move forward.

David is reminding God…but really he’s reminding himself…that God was and is his refuge, his strength, his shelter…that God has heard his vows and promises…and that God has given him a story to be part of (heritage).

Let me tell you, that when I pray these days, as much as I’m asking God to do a miracle, I’m reminding ourselves that He’s already done so much in my life.

Why? 2 reasons:
– So we can believe that God can do it.
– So we’re reminded that God’s always been with us and always will.

ARRIVE…

Our prayers and songs all have to land somewhere.

David shows us, in 61, and elsewhere, that his songs always end with praise and a resettling of his faith in God.

TAKE HOME…

The point of this series is more for application than it is for knowledge.

Our hope is that we can learn to use the Psalms as a prayer book this summer…and long after that.

Will you take up this challenge with me?

Read the Psalms for the next 90 days.
6 days a week
2 psalms a day
By the end of the summer (Sept 21) we would have read through the Psalms together.

Who’s in?

As we do that, may we be led to the ROCK who is higher than I.

– – – – – – – – –

Reading Plan example for week one…

Day 1: Morning – Psalm 1   Evening – Psalm 2
Day 2: Morning – Psalm 3   Evening – Psalm 4
Day 3: Morning – Psalm 5   Evening – Psalm 6
Day 4: Morning – Psalm 7   Evening – Psalm 8
Day 5: Morning – Psalm 9   Evening – Psalm 10
Day 6: Morning – Psalm 11   Evening – Psalm 12
Day 7: BREAK

Continue this pattern through out the summer until you reach September 21 or Psalm 150.

Father’s Day Interview

Wow, if you missed Father’s Day at The Village, you really did miss something special.

Thalita Murray sat down with two dads, Jason Penny and James Boyle for a conversation about being a Dad, following Jesus, and how those two things may coincide.

She asked some important questions. We’ve listed them below for you to think through them on your own. Instead of trying to recap all their responses, we’ve simply summarized some of their thoughts.

1. What was your initial experience into parenthood like?
2. How did fatherhood impact your faith journey? Your general world view?
3. Is there a piece of scripture that speaks to you and your fatherhood journey?
4. Have you had a father figure in your life who is/was special to you?
5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received pertaining to being a parent? If you haven’t received any, what’s YOUR best piece of advice?
If there was a competition on how one gets into parenting, James kind of won this battle. Jason accepted his loss) His story is very unique as it involves adoption and losing his first wife all within a matter of four months. He and Dawn had adopted Isaac from Ethiopia. Four months later, Dawn passed away. This left James as a widow and single dad.
Fast forward a couple of years when James and Joanne marry and blend two families, now with three kids between them, they have a surprise of their lives and have a forth child together. Wild.
That’s quite a story to walk through and learn through. But that’s not to say that Jason’s more traditional route to parenting comes without challenges. All parenting does. Don’t we know it.
He says his experience was…“Crazy. Like most people I figured as a relatively competent adult I could figure out this parenting thing. I knew it would be hard but I thought it couldn’t be that hard. I was wrong. It was very very hard. They’re just so tiny and they’re like little time bombs that can’t speak English and you just have to figure it out. I used to have very specific ideas in mind about the right way to parent and now I just say, you know your own kid best so just follow your instincts. It’s like the 10, 000 idea. You’ve put the time in, so you know what works and what doesn’t.”
Some more things we heard from James were…
– It’s not easy to blend families. It’s always a work in progress. He’s trying his best, failing at times, hopefully getting better as time goes on.
– James was honest about his struggles as dad, and how he fights being too direct and is working on being patient.
– The scripture he’s held onto has been Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, he will make your paths straight.” James acknowledged that he needs Jesus in his life to be a better dad and husband.

Some more things we hear from Jason were…

– Having kids that now ask questions like “Why can’t I see God?” and “Where is Heaven?” have really thrown him for an unexpected loop. He likes to have clear answers for his kids because he knows those are the answers he resonates with. But often he might have to say, “I’m not sure about that, but I do know that Jesus loves us and cares about us so much that he’ll never leave us.” And their ability, and possibly innocence, inspires him because they just believe.
– The scripture he holds to is…Mark 10:13-16. Here we see Jesus receiving children and saying “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And for him this is a reminder of how he ought to approach Jesus; with imagination, implicit belief, the lack of intellectual pride, a sense of living in the moment and a special adaption to receiving. Watching his kids grow up in church and learn about Jesus has reshaped how he wants to approach his own faith journey.
– Jason says that his relationship with his wife must be a priority. It can only help his relationship with his kids. And his kids must learn from he and his wife about what it means to love and respect your spouse.

As you can see, there was lots to take home. This is only a snippet. Remember this, we are all ‘becoming’ something: Fathers, Mothers, Husbands, Wives, Friends, Singles, and of course, followers of Jesus. We’re not yet where we should or can be, but hopefully we’re a little further ahead than when we started.

Last thing about a day for Fathers & Mothers: It’s really a day to celebrate INFLUENCE. We all can have a good influence in others, especially those younger than we are. If you’re a parent, this may be obvious, but don’t think that you have to be a parent to be a person of influence. Follow God’s lead in your life and be present to those he leads you to. It’s amazing what kind of ‘influence’ you can have on others.

Happy ‘INFLUENTIAL PERSON’ Day!

The Middle : slow down and invite Jesus to be in the middle

This week we finished up our series, The Middle. We did so with some video teaching from Mark Comer’s talk at The Meeting House (taken from their Jesus People series).

If you missed it, you’ll wanna watch it. If you were there, you may wanna watch it again. (video below)

Here are a few things that resonated so well:

As we observe the ways of Jesus, his life, his ministry, his relationships, we notice something very interesting – Jesus was never in a hurry. If we want to know him more, if we want him in the middle of our lives, and if we want to be in the middle of his love and mission, we too must slow down.

As we walked through this series, we encouraged our community to invite God to be in the middle of our confusion & crapp-i-ness, in the middle of our interruptions, and in the middle of our sickness. For that to happen, we must always be inviting Jesus to be in the middle of our lives, our hearts, and our relationships.

Some things Mark Comer said are worth reflecting on:

  • Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life (a Dallas Willard quote).
  • We either believe the lie that money and stuff makes us happy or we don’t.
  • What are you doing to slow down?
    • shut off your phone for extended periods?
    • stop at stop signs?
    • don’t rush to the shortest line at the grocery store?
    • sit down for more than five minutes to have a meal?
    • breath deeply a few times a day?
  • Slowing down, along with solitude, sabbath and simplicity, are key disciplines to following Jesus.
  • When we fill every single space we have with our phone, the TV, a google search, a text, a glance at the news, etc, we are closing up portals that used to be open for prayer or awareness. So many missed opportunities to be with God or with others, simply because we fill up our space and time.
  • For some reason, we always feel like we have no time – like we’re in a hurry. This is a problem.

Make sure to set aside a few minutes, to breath, think, pray, and invite Jesus to be in the Middle of your life and heart. It is never time lost, but rather, time invested.

The Middle : Sickness & Pain

(note: this post is a little personal)

Interruptions: It’s never about if you’ll be interrupted, but when, and then, will you let God use that interruption to make you better, to stretch you, to teach you?

Remember, Interruptions can give you or teach you about…Rest (forced to be bored), Perspective (emergency), Truth (wake up call), Opportunity, and Jesus (like Paul in Acts 9)

Interruptions often include…Messiness, Mystery, Surprises, sometimes fun, sometimes not fun, but always Lots and Lots of LEARNING.

God is in the middle of our interruptions…at least he can be, if we let him.



Here’s the crazy thing. When I spoke about this 2 weeks ago (posted here), it was also the weekend we found out about my wife’s cancer.

Even though we’d been fearing it, hoping for different news, in limbo about how she was feeling – when we heard the words CANCER, it was a shock. It was, and is, and will be, for this season, an interruption like we’ve never faced.

Here’s what we know:

  • It’s stage 4
  • There’s a hard road ahead
  • My wife will have to fight for her life, and we will fight with her
  • We will be stretched beyond what we think we are capable of
  • GOD IS IN THE MIDDLE OF IT

– – – – – – – –

What happens when sickness and pain creep into your life?

What happens when the thing you don’t wish on anyone, comes into your life?

What do you pray for? How do you manage? How do you live through that?

Let’s start with, and also end with, these words…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I’d like us to talk about sickness and healing, but before we talk about healing, we have to understand that all sickness, all pain, doesn’t find a ‘good’ conclusion in this life, and if that’s true, which it is, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 (above) must ring true in our lives, no matter what.

“There is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.” (Rachel Held Evans)

If you know about Rachel Held Evans, you know that she is inspiring, intelligent, passionate about Jesus and the church, and, unfortunately, also, recently passed away with a very unique and fast acting virus. She was only 37 years of age. She wrote the words we just read only a couple of years ago. Wow.

– – – – – – – –

Even though we know full well that not all sick people get better, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to be better when we’re not well. This is a normal human desire. We want to be fixed – asap – right now, so that we don’t suffer. So what do we do?

2 things: We seek out Medicine, and more importantly, ask God for help.

Know this, as we said in the first part of this series, that it’s ok to be angry at a situation or season or a sickness. God is ok with your emotions, and God is in the middle of it no matter what. But the Scriptures also show us, time and again, that God heals. God makes broken things well. At least we know that he can. Which means we can ask for God to make us well.

Story after story after story: people came to Jesus to be made well. We don’t use these stories as formulas, but we can use them as encouragement to ask Jesus for the same thing: Healing.

Mark 2 is one of my favourite of these stories in the gospels. Let’s read it, and see where we land…

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.

  • This is probably the closest to a ‘home’ that Jesus had…
  • Imagine coming home to this? Or being home and a crowd envelops your home. Not fun for introverts, that’s for sure.
  • Jesus wasn’t holding some kind of healing service, he was simply teaching the word to them
    • The word? Kingdom of God. Connecting the spiritual dots in their lives.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

  • In our Easter text (Mark 8:22-25) we saw a similar thing: ‘some people’ brought a blind man to Jesus.
  • Here, some people bring a paralyzed man to Jesus.
  • We can’t get away from this: Some People are very important to our stories. We are important to other people’s stories.
    • Not everybody can get them selves to Jesus…and sometimes we can’t get ourselves to Jesus. God uses ‘some people’ to get us there. God uses us to get people to him.
  • ROOF = Obstacles
    • Beams, thatch, compact mud, messy (a basic 1st century roof)
    • They did what they could to bring their friend to the one who could heal him.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

  • How do you think the man felt when he hears Jesus’ first statement about forgiveness?
    • Hey Jesus, I came for healing, not forgiveness!!!
  • This starts a bit of a spat between Jesus and the religious leaders…
    • Who does Jesus think he is?
    • Forgive sins???
    • Only God can do that? (exactly)
  • Why does Jesus throw in forgiveness, when the man is clearly there for healing???

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

  • You gotta love this question: What’s harder? Forgiveness or Healing?
    • Forgiveness (inside/spiritual)
    • Healing (outside/physical)
  • “I, the son of man, have authority to forgive sins”
    • The reason I can heal, Jesus says, is because I can forgive
  • Healing is a sign that points to forgiveness
  • Healing always points to something greater
  • Physical Healing (now) is never the ultimate miracle. Forgiveness is.
  • This man gets a two for one special…
    • Jesus, even though he heals this man, wants us all to know that forgiveness is the healing we should long for, while still praying for and asking for healing.
  • When we know we are forgiven, we know that God is with us in our sickness & pain.

He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

  • our authentic desire when we ask for healing is twofold…
    • that we are well
    • that people are amazed with what God can do

When my dad wasn’t well, I asked him what he would do first, if God healed him. He said he’d go to work. Then he said, wait a minute, nope, I’d go tell my old friends what Jesus did to me and for me.

Know that I want nothing more than for my wife to be healed. I’m going to pray for that until it happens. But it can’t just be so that we get back to normal (though I so want to get back to normal, normal would be so good right now), but that the lives of others change because of her healing!!! (May it be so)

– – – – – – –

A few take homes from this story…

* We need some people in our lives to break the roof down and do what ever it takes to get us to Jesus.
Healing is a community thing

* Can we be those ‘people’ for others?

* Healing always points to something even bigger!
Forgiveness. Kingdom. God’s redemption. Our Salvation. Reconciliation. Justice.
Let it be a sign that reminds you how powerful God is.

* When physical healing doesn’t come?
1 Corinthians 12:9 ‘His grace is sufficient for me’

Be reminded that God is with you, in the middle of your sickness, in the middle of your pain and confusion, in the middle of your interruption.

– – – – – – – – – –


The Middle : Interruptions

Who has a friend with the unspiritual gift of interrupting?

Now that you’ve thought of someone…is it possible that you…you are that person?

Some of us need to remind ourselves to listen, not interject, pause, wait, then…speak.

“Be quick to listen and slow to speak”  Amazing advice from James 1.
(more on this in our summer series, Proverbs)

This post is not about learning how to be polite in our conversations as good listeners.

Rather, today is about interruptions, how we deal with them, what we learn from and through them, and…why God wants to be and needs to be in the middle of our interruptions.

– – – – – – –

Interruptions are awesome when…

  • the news is good
  • we have time for it
  • we perceive it as a blessing

Interruptions are not so good when…

  • the news is bad
  • we have no time for time
  • we perceive it as more of a curse

Good interruptions that hardly happen?

  • a knock at your door by someone you actually want to see (not weedman or enbridge gas)
  • unexpected money or a cheque or a work bonus/raise
  • anything good

Bad interruptions are…

  • traffic, car problems in general
  • someone butts in line and then takes forever
  • you get sick…at the wrong time, which there is of course, never a right time

I racked my brain to think about stories, mine or others, where interruptions turned out to be good. The reality is, those happenings are subtle, almost unnoticeable, unless we make them such.

What if…we viewed interruptions as opportunities…

  • to grow…to learn…to pause
  • to re-prioritize…to change direction

Because really, it’s not about the interruption, but how we view it, an use it.

I heard this a long time ago and have never forgotten it…

“God is in the business of interruptions”

This is true in 2 ways:
– God sends them our way.
– We invite God to be in the middle of them.

 

 

In Acts 9, we read about God interrupting of Paul’s life. So much of an interruption that his life and name changed after this crazy and mysterious moment in his life.

We pick it up this story in Acts 9:1…

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

  • Saul was a bad dude
  • Saul hated Jesus and the church
  • Saul was stuck in his religion

 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

  • talk about an interruption
  • flashing lights…falling of your horse
  • a voice…with directed words

The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

  • no words to describe this by onlookers
  • Saul goes blind for 3 days
  • A very strong man, needs to be led by the hand of another person – humbling to say the least

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

  • Ananias is also interrupted (vision)
  • ‘Yes Lord’ (important response)
  • How many crooked streets were there?
  • Go and place your hand on the one who’s been persecuting you??? Your enemy.

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

  • Jesus chooses Paul…communicates it via a huge interruption
  • Ananias assists Paul…does it because of an interruption
  • Ananias is so impacted by this that he calls Saul ‘brother’

Saul’s life changed. The church’s life was impacted. Jesus’ mission in the world blew open. We’re here today, gathering, learning, living out the ways of Jesus:

ALL BECAUSE OF AN INTERRUPTION

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It’s never about if you’ll be interrupted, but will you let God use that interruption to make you better, to stretch you, to teach you?

Interruptions can give or teach you about…

  • Rest (forced to be bored)
  • Perspective (emergency)
  • Truth (wake up call)
  • Opportunity
  • Life & strength
  • Jesus (like paul)

Interruptions include…

  • Messiness and Mystery
  • Surprises
  • Lots and Lots of LEARNING

If we truly want to be used by God, we need to be interruptible.

– – – – – – – –

I believe that God is in the business of Interruptions. Do you?

This will be true in 2 ways:
– We believe that God sends them our way.
– We invite God to be in the middle of them.

What we view as an interruption, God can use as an opportunity.

Don’t ever waste an interruption.

God is in the middle of our interruptions…at least he can be, if we let him.

– – – – – – –

(This morning’s gathering was appropriately interrupted by a fire alarm:)