Each of us experiences moments where we feel like God has forgotten about it, or failed to show up in a time of need or desperation. When life doesn’t go the way we planned, our gut reaction is to blame God for not coming through. When we pray for God to save or protect us from something in life and it seems like He doesn’t, we instinctively withdraw and our faith suffers.
We need to remember that God didn’t save Joseph FROM prison, He saved him IN prison. Just like He didn’t save Daniel FROM the lions’ den, He saved him IN the lions’ den. He didn’t save Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego FROM the furnace, He saved them IN the furnace. He didn’t save Jonah FROM the fish, He saved him IN the fish. He didn’t save Lazarus FROM the tomb, He saved him IN the tomb.
Many times God doesn’t save us from something, he saves us in something, so that when you come out on the other side, you say, “The only way this could’ve happened is that God showed up.”
God created each of us for a unique purpose and wired us up to do something great that only we can do. By following and obeying His leading we get to experience the freedom and fulfillment of living with purpose. But that can be scary, because God’s call always leads us out of our comfort zone. Only by stepping out in faith into the unknown will we ever fully discover the truth that following and obeying God is rarely what we imagine, but always a path that leads to His blessing in our lives.
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The thing I love most about being a part of the team at First Christian Church is the fact that we are a place for all people, regardless of background or baggage or brokenness, to find a place to belong, to rest, to heal, to grow, to find community, and to ultimately bump into Jesus and allow Him to work in their lives.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen God do some incredible things because of that vision. But the truth is, we believe the best is yet to come. We believe God has even greater things in store down the road.
Through the month of June we’ve taught about our mission, vision and values, and how they are going to play out in what we do over the next few years as we chase after the call Jesus has given us to reach out with unconditional love to all people.
If you’ve ever wondered how a church can become that kind of place, here is what it looks like for us (video after the jump):
I’m sitting in Starbucks looking out the window. This is a typical Friday for me. Today, I’m trying to write a sermon for an event I’ve been asked to speak at in West Virginia in a couple weeks but I’m having trouble focusing. I often find a place to work away from my office where I can sip some coffee. And today, in less than an hour, I’ve seen no less than four cars drive by with “Jesus For All People” window decals. One person wearing a “Jesus For All People” t-shirt came in to order a non-fat latte. I was talking to two people I know who are part of the community of First Christian Church, where our vision, motto, and heartbeat is “Jesus For All People”, and as we were talking, two more people who attend FCC that I’ve never met stopped to tell us how glad they are that God brought them to FCC.
I’m sitting at the same table in Starbucks where I sat two-and-a-half years ago in an interview for a job that everything within me (and a few close friends) told me I shouldn’t take. It meant taking a pay cut to move to a city I didn’t know, to become the leader of a struggling ministry within a church that many on the inside and outside thought was dying, in a city that has been struggling economically for well over a decade.
Christmas is complicated. It’s busy. And especially if you’ve had an unexpected experience this past year that brought pain in your life, it can be really difficult to understand how it’s even possible to experience joy this time of year.
This past Sunday, we kicked off our Christmas teaching series at First Christian Church. We dug into Luke chapter 2 and the idea that Jesus came to be a source of real, lasting joy in our lives. If you’re struggling with finding joy this Christmas, I hope this encourages you.
And whether you are someone that believes in Jesus or not, I hope you hear that the true message of Christmas is simple: Good news. Great joy. Peace. All people.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
It’s about a God who is so interested IN you that He came TO you to SAVE you and bring peace and joy to your life not because of who you are, but because of who HE is.