Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shepastor: "Rethinking Our Understanding of Destination..."

32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11: 32-40, NIV

The Biblical concept of destination is always greater than one individual. Throughout scripture, we see the interconnectedness of humanity. A person’s life spanned far beyond the length of their individual years. As long as someone in their family line was alive, they were thought to be alive. Blessings and yes, even curses were thought to have been passed down through families. But also, as in our focus scripture, the Bible suggests that “we are made perfect” in connection with one another.

We are passing proverbial batons. At times it feels like our prayers are not being answered. Sometimes it seems like our efforts, our endeavors, our seeds, our attempts to do are in vain. Yet we are reminded that our “destination,” in terms of goals, dreams, prayers etc., are a piece of a puzzle. This was brought home to me recently as our small congregation made the faith leap to sell our church property, take the proceeds and re-envision ministry as the Lord leads us (you can read our testimony by visiting

The pastors of the new congregation who purchased our property invited me to come and greet their congregation during their first worship service in the new space. Joyous, vibrant, full of worship and praise, they gathered in the newly renovated facility. My heart leaped with joy as I experienced their exuberant spirit of worship, engagement and eagerness to serve God in that place and community!

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. For years, I led our congregation in corporate prayers, seeking the Lord’s favor, asking to Lord to cultivate in that place (our former worship location) and within our congregation a vibrant spirit of worship, praise, service and love for Him. Admittedly, our congregation wrestles with a spirit of lethargy and dullness. I found myself frequently asking the Lord, “Can these dry bones live?” This has been a painful reality for me personally as a pastor. Having come from both small and large congregations that were filled with faith, hope, praise, worship, song and service, serving in this environment was foreign to me.
Years of fasting, praying, teaching, preaching, planting, watering etc., at times felt fruitless. But on this Sunday, the Lord reminded me of something…God honored our request to revive worship in that space, but through a different congregation. He used us to prepare the way for them. We now will continue our journey to cultivate a fresh, new ministry, outreach, worship and praise in a new space, a new way, a new community! Together, with us, the Lord accomplished His purposes.

God has given us free will. Ultimately, God’s purposes will prevail. It is dangerous, however, to assume that we are “pre-destined,” to receive what God has in store for us on this side of the Jordan, if we don’t heed the leading of His Holy Spirit. Had our congregation refused to see “the hand writing on the wall,” we would have died, the relationship with the property purchasers may have never been born and mutual blessings now experienced would not have happened.

It’s time for us to re-think our perception of destination. Sometimes what feels like failure or barrenness is really a seed, planted in the soil, preparing to burst through in the spring time of life’s cycle. In the words of another preacher, “burial and planting look very similar.”

Be encouraged. We are connected. Your labor is not in vain. Listen, trust God and obey His Holy Spirit.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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