While at The Orange Conference, I had the privilege of sitting in a breakout session taught by Carey Nieuwhof. He is a Lead Pastor and Church Planter with North Point Ministries.
I read this blog from him this morning, and I think every parent and/or leader needs to read this!
I’m headed to The Orange Conference on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to learning from some great leaders in the Church. It will also be fun to see a bunch of friends from all over the country!
I’m also excited to spend some time with North Way’s Family Matters team. As I’m still getting my footing in my new role as the Wexford Campus Pastor, it will be good to get some time away with the members of my team.
I have a feeling that this is going to be a memorable trip.
I have the overwhelming task of preaching on God’s Omniscience this weekend. I have 35 minutes to unpack an attribute of God that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians that we can only know in part on this side of heaven, and that’s absolutely true about this attribute of God…along with the other two Omni’s of God…Omnipotence and Omnipresence.
In North Way’s teaching series, “Note to Self,” we have defined the Omni’s of God this way:
- Omnipresence = God is “all-present” in all places and at all times with no spatial limits.
- Omnipotence = God is “all-powerful” to do whatever His will inclines Him to do.
- Omniscience = God is “all-knowing” of all things actual, possible and eternal.
As I studied this and defined Omniscience for North Way, I was blown away by this concept of God knowing even possibilities of our lives. There’s not enough room here to describe it here, but I will try.
God knows even the possibilities of our future and our past. He knows all the possible outcomes of each of the decisions that we didn’t make. God knows all the decisions that we could make in our future before we even make them. This blows my mind!
This concept is known as God’s foreknowledge. We have to be careful here because some might say that God has wired us like robots to do whatever He commands. God’s foreknowledge doesn’t force us into being robots. God still allows us the free will to make decisions that are contrary to His truth. He’s not a puppeteer that makes us do He wants to have happen in the future. No, we can make whatever decision we will, but the amazing thing is that He knows all the different possibilities of every single scenario that we will face. So, before we even get there, God knows your future and mine.
If that’s not amazing enough, check this out! God will be there amidst whatever decision we make even if it is His will for us or not. I don’t know about you, but God’s ability to know our future and already be there is absolutely mind boggling yet comforting.
Even if we get it wrong, He’s still there to see us through. Even if we mess up, He’s fully aware of it and will walk with us through to bring the good out of that situation. Even though God’s Omniscience cannot be fully grasped, this one concept of “possibilities” alone has blown my mind and also rested my soul.
This weekend I have the opportunity to preach from John 21:15-19.
This Bible passage will make a grown man cry! And not just me. In fact, the conversation between Jesus and Peter in this passage is a result of a massive failure on Peter’s part that made him break down and weep bitterly (and he was one tough dude). He denied ever knowing Jesus on the day that Jesus was crucified. There were many reasons (there always are), but the point is that he messed up big time. Ever been there?
He had pledged his deep allegiance to Jesus (Luke 22:31-34), but he blew it! He failed so miserably just like Jesus predicted he would, but Peter never saw it coming. He meant what he said…that he would never fall away, but that was before the heat was turned up and his life was also at stake. It’s hard to see something like that coming.
Can you relate? Have you ever messed up so bad that you felt like you were unforgivable? Me too. Peter did too. Even when (the resurrected) Jesus ate breakfast with Peter on the shore, there had to be such an awkward tension between them because Peter’s failure was like the elephant in the room.
Jesus turns again to Peter and brutally yet gently addresses his failure. He calls out his sin and deals with it head on. He confronts Peter, but he forgives him on the spot. The best thing about Jesus is that after he addresses and deals with Peter’s sin, He moves forward.
Often times, you and I are the ones that can’t move forward because we’re frozen in our failures. The truth is that Jesus has dealt with our sin (on the cross), but we continue to wallow in it while he chooses to forget about them. He calls us to move past our past, but we choose to be paralyzed by our past. Friends, this should not be the case. There’s freedom to be found as we follow Jesus into our forgiven future.
As I preach this weekend, my hope is that I can properly portray Jesus’ grace and forgiveness. I hope that I see the fruit of people’s lives being changed forever by the truth of the ongoing reality of this passage.
Failures are never final with God!
The Monday after Easter is always a day to crash and recover. Pastors and church staffs work so hard for the Easter season. It’s like the SuperBowl of Church! It’s the Stanley Cup of Christianity! Easter is the reason all of us are in this! Without Easter, we don’t do what we do!
I was so exhausted after a fantastic weekend at North Way and hanging with my family. I spent all day Monday in my pajamas and didn’t move much from my spot on the couch. Today, I’m still tired, but I have to get moving! There is a lot of work to do now that Monday has past.
Most people joke about what a pastor does the rest of the week. I’ll often hear, “So, what do you do the other six days of the week?” They think it’s funny. I laugh it off, but what I really want to do is tell them off, yet I hold my tongue and absorb their misunderstanding. There is a complete joy and unescapable weight to shepherding that most will never understand. It’s a glorious, physical, spiritual, emotional and relational burden that most will never experience. All of this is balled up inside when I lead the church on a Good Friday and Easter weekend!
I see many “happy” people all dressed up in their Easter finest, but I also know their “broken” stories. The wife who is secretly cheating on her husband. The husband/dad who left this past year, but he still wants to go to church as a family. A young married couple that is barely hanging on. A mom who just lost her young adult son in a tragedy. A prodigal son that is only at service that day because his mom begged him to come. And there’s also my own story of brokenness…
I don’t know how to fully explain it, but there’s an incredible joy and awesome burden that I experience on Easter weekend as a pastor. It makes me long for the days when I was a kid searching for my Easter basket. A Chocolate bunny was my greatest concern back then, but people’s broken souls are my greatest concern now.
Don’t read me wrong, I know that Christ is indeed risen from the dead! Jesus is alive! Jesus is the hope for all these broken people. Jesus is the only hope for this broken man. But my body and mind can only take so much, and I crash on Monday to recover and regroup…
…only to do it all over again this coming weekend!
It’s Good Friday. I have the opportunity and privilege to preach tonight…in about 2 hours.
Our teaching team has worked on a sermon together, and there was a thought that emerged that is really grabbing my attention. When I say grabbing my attention, I mean gripping my soul.
Good Friday is a great day of remembrance. A lot of churches will remember the sacrifice of Jesus today and will celebrate communion together. However, I wonder if the symbols of Jesus’ body and blood have lost their significance in the Western Church…especially the North American Church. I wonder if my church has fallen into the trap of this religious exercise on a night like tonight. I speculate if I’ve lost touch with the impact these symbols have had and should have in my life.
As a pastor, there’s a real danger in approaching tonight as a religious duty simply because it’s that time of year. I wonder if I’m at risk of not experiencing the complete impact of the Gospel tonight (and Easter) because I’m leading people to experience the impact of the Gospel on their lives. I sometimes wonder if my family misses a bit of the awe and wonder of the death and resurrection of Jesus because I’m a pastor, and we really don’t get to experience it together because I’m on a stage.
You think it would be just the opposite, but the reality of shepherding a church can weigh so much on pastors and church staffs (and their families) at this time of year because we work and pray so hard for people to experience Jesus. In many ways, we have given up our lives because we desperately want people to experience the impact of the Gospel on their lives. However, if people like me are not careful, we can easily miss the significance of the symbols of what we’ll hold in our hands tonight…the body of Jesus given for our redemption…the blood of Jesus shed for forgiveness of our sin.
Especially this weekend, I’m feeling the tension of not wanting to miss Jesus because I’m leading a church. I don’t want you to miss him either because you’ve done this before. I’m praying that we all experience the fullness of Jesus death and resurrection this weekend!