Everything and Nothing

For everything there is a season.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Nothing New

In a couple months I will leave 40 behind and enter my, ahem, 40s.  I may be the old lady at work, but I must say the view from here is most interesting.   If I look one direction I see the beauty of aging and non-respecter-of-persons sickness.  I see wisdom, fulfillment and end of life.  If I look the other direction I see young families, a flurry of activity, youthfulness, hope, newness and start of life.  Either direction I see joy and I see struggle. Of course there’s some overlap either way I look, but one theme that is sinking in to my middle-aged spirit – there is nothing new under the sun.  Ecc. 1:9.  I wonder if Solomon was middle aged when he wrote this???

Joy has been here since the beginning and heartache will be here ‘til the end.  In life you will interact with some real gems and some real jerks. New experiences will always exist and old habits may never die.

It is strangely comforting. And humbling.  And convicting.

In an ego-centric age where my crisis > than yours or no one can possibly understand what I’m going through ­­– we are stopped dead in our tracks and reminded in Ecclesiastes that yes, others have had, have and will have struggles.  Others have had, have and will have celebrations.  Others have felt, feel and will feel misunderstood, misplaced, misguided, mixed up.  In fact, you may even feel that the season you’re in is futile, question its purpose, and even ask why.  So did Solomon (Ecc. 1). From biblical times to the present people cry out to God, asking for forgiveness, comfort, help, looking for answers on one hand and offering to Him worship, and praise and honor on the other. It’s nothing new. 

Because, for

Everything

there is a season. Ecc. 3:1 Again, from my vantage point on top of this hill, I am starting to grasp the bigger picture.   I can see in many circumstances that there is:

a time to give birth and a time to die;

a time to plant and a time to uproot;

a time to kill and a time to heal;

a time to tear down and a time to build;

a time to weep and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn and a time to dance;

a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;

a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;

a time to search and a time to count as lost;

a time to keep and a time to throw away;

a time to tear and a time to sew;

a time to be silent and a time to speak;

 time for love and a time to hate;

a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecc. 3:2-8

And it is good.  All of it.  Wouldn’t you and I rather just have the birth but not the death or the dancing and not the mourning? But the thing is, each of them have their purpose.  That’s why in James 1 we are challenged to “consider it a great joy, my brothers whenever you experience various trials.”  That’s rather counter-cultural.  Society pushes multitudes of “self-help” books so we can avoid said trials. But trials have a place.  And they are good.  Because  “the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”   Trials are actually beneficial for us; they are an opportunity for God to work in us, creating a maturity that we wouldn’t have otherwise developed.

If it weren’t for trials, we would we not understand that we can rejoice in those trials or afflictions because they “produce endurance, and endurance produces proven character and proven character produces hope.”  Romans 5. Hope.

Hope in an “all things work together for good” God.  A loving, sovereign Father whose vantage point is ALL the way from the beginning and all the way to the end. I saw a quote online today from John Piper, “We embrace the hand we’ve been dealt, because we know the Dealer, and He never deals badly.”   He’s not going to allow something to be thrown at us that isn’t part of a plan for our good and for His glory. In all of it, good and bad, we can trust that God is working in us, both to desire and to work out His good purpose. Phil 2:13

I think about this in relation to planting and subsequently closing our church.   I even shared on here the certain call that we heard to plant LP.  There was a time to plant.  But there also was a time to uproot.  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense that God would have us uproot that which He called us to plant, but He did.  I even gave a bunch of reasons that lead to its uprooting; citing our failures, shortcomings and even sin.  However, God could have kept the doors open in spite of our inadequacies – because it was always about HIS work anyways, not what we did or didn’t do. But it was time.   And that hope in a Sovereign God is comforting when seasons change.   He sees from before the beginning to beyond the end.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:8-11.

That is what it is all about.  He is what it is all about.  Everything has a season and nothing is really new, but He continues to accomplish what He will for His glory and our good. God is unchanging, eternal, immortal, loving, good and sovereign – and whether you’re in the cusp of delight or the cup of despair He loves you and is working in and for you in this season and the next.

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WE ARE – MARSHALL – A Defining Moment

Defining Moments – we all have had them. Some we don’t remember, some we like to forget, and some are much needed.  In these moments there will be times when things just don’t make sense to us; heartbreak, discouragement, or defeat.  Deep down we know that God has a reason for why He allows things to happen, but near the surface we just don’t understand. In the last four months I have had not one but two defining moments. One that knocked the wind out of me and the other that gave me breath and life again.

The first defining moment was the day we closed our church plant (LifePoint) of about five years. I didn’t understand why God would allow that to happen. Why would God call us to plant a church then take it away?  Why would God have me (and my family) give everything we had physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually to something that He was going to take away? I felt like someone punched me right in the gut! I felt the wind leave and I was left gasping for air.  For a while all I could do was continue to beat myself up, ask questions like, why? What didn’t we do right? Did I not listen to God’s voice? Did I try and do it on my own? Or I would think, “Kevin, you failed!”  “Kevin, people don’t like you!”  “Kevin, you’re a loser!”  All throughout this time I was gasping for air, begging God to heal me and my wounds.  One thing I never did throughout this time, by the GRACE of God, was lose heart.  Not that it was the first thing that was on my mind, but like I said down deep I knew God was and IS faithful and would restore my breath.  Here are a few verses that God gave me during this time.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Over the next few months I stumbled through the scriptures, allowing God’s infallible Word to speak to me and heal me from the inside out. I was reading but just not totally believing. I went about life, because it  does in fact go on, but actually was in mourning on the inside. It just felt like a part of me had died, and it had.

Then came the second defining moment where God restored my breath and gave me life once again. It was one of those moments that you aren’t expecting. It wasn’t the right timing. I wasn’t in a solitude place where it was just God, me and my Bible – but to God it was the perfect time.  I had been cleaning up around house, when I noticed it was lunchtime.  I made some lunch and sat down in front of the T.V.  Being honest, I never eat in front of the T.V., but this day I did.  As I was flipping through the channels, I came across the movie “We Are Marshall”.  It was about half over, so I decided to finish it while I ate my lunch.

“We Are Marshall” is based on a true story (I recommend you watch it) about a plane crash involving the University of Marshall’s football team and the heartbreak the whole town was going through.  Basically, the movie shows how the town was in mourning.  They brought a new football coach in to try and get them back on their feet.  For the coach it was an uphill battle.  It didn’t matter what he did, he kept running into this wall of heartbreak and mourning.  That is kind of how I felt, heartbreak and mourning. In a lot of ways, I felt unable to move forward, paralyzed and insignificant.  ~ Back to the movie… The morning before the first home game, the coach took the team on a field trip to the cemetery.  He had the players gather around a memorial that was set up for six of the players that were buried together because their bodies could  not be identified.  That is where he gave them a pregame speech and it was during this speech that I had a defining moment, all because of one line! Now, the crazy thing is, I have watched this movie many times and for the life of me cannot remember ever hearing this line before.  If you don’t really listen for it, it is easy to miss. Near the end of coach’s speech, he looks at the team and says, “The funerals end today!!” That is when air came back into my lungs.  I sat there, stunned and in tears. Hearing God’s voice saying to me, “Kevin, the funeral ends today! Stop mourning, and start breathing! I have told you I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am not done with you yet.  I am going to continue to use you for My glory, so stop mourning and breath in the Breath of Life.”

I still don’t have all the answers.  Maybe someday I will, maybe I won’t.  But what I do know is the funeral is over and God is in control!

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I’ll close with a clip of the movie, “We Are Marshall”.  Check it out!

-Kevin

The Oxygen Mask

oxygenLadies and gentlemen, as we prepare for take off, please direct your attention to the front of the cabin as the flight attendant will review procedures in the unlikely event that we encounter an emergency throughout our flight.  In the event of low-cabin pressure the oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment above you.  If you are traveling with small children or someone who needs assistance, please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others………..

As you know, or in case you did not, we closed our church last week. We have now entered a twilight zone of sorts.  While we are wired, by the Holy Spirit, to serve, help others, teach etc. – we are entering a season where we have to secure our own oxygen mask.  If we don’t, the results will be disastrous.

I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to blog throughout this season.  I have written A LOT this week, but I don’t know if any of it is for your eyes.  I so appreciate many that blog throughout their darkest hours, raw transparency, #realtalk. I have always been one to write during the storms of life, but wait to blog until God redeems or brings us out of it.  The verdict is still out.  This much I can say, there are some things that we must do so healing may come:

  • We have to stop – we have to take a break.  We have to be still.  We have to put ourselves before others, even though that is not our nature. We have to do what’s best for us for a while and that is nothing – nothing except spend time with Jesus, each other and people that will help us.
  • We have to eliminate toxins.  The five of us need healing.  We need healing so that God can make a way for us to forgive, to trust again, to love people the way He does and one day serve Him by serving them.  We need to work through disappointment and discouragement. It’s gonna take time.
  • We have to trust in the promises and sovereignty of God. We are holding on to a Scarlet Thread of HOPE.  We will live, eat, breathe, memorize, meditate on His TRUTH until we believe it – again.

Thank you for your prayers.

Last Play of the Game

softballWe were going into extra innings at 0-0, International Tie-Breaker.   It was Eastern Nationals – excitement was in the air.  It was a Loser’s Bracket game, so at the end of the game, the loser… goes home.  In an international tie-breaker you start with a runner on 2nd.  We hit, out.  We hit, safe.  We hit, scored a run. (Details subject to a foggy memory.)   The crowd goes CRAZZZZZZZYYYYY!!!! But, we weren’t the home team.   They – the opposing team – still had an “at-bat”, with a runner on 2nd.   I don’t recall the details, but something about a hit…  A hit – a run scored to tie the game.

A hit, grounder to short-shop… and the ball goes between. her. legs.  And passed Center Fielder.  Another run scored.  Game over.  2-1 them.

Although Shortstop and Center Fielder each had an error, that is not what lost the game.  That did happen to be the last play of the game, but it is not what lost it.  There were other errors throughout the game.   Did I mention that our bats weren’t moving?  Again, I don’t recall details, but the bottom line is, we didn’t hit.   No hits = no runs.  No runs = game over.  There were seven innings of the game, not just the extra inning.   Season ended.

That is how it is with our church.  We are closing the doors at LifePoint.   Yes, there are one or two situations that were the last play of the game, but there were seven innings.  Five years.  Low finances.  Weak commitment.  Conflict. Brokeness. Did I mention low finances? Broken promises.  Lost focus. Team-switching. Coaching mistakes. Have there been some good plays?  Definitely!  Especially in the early innings.  Home run after home run, in fact.  But, we have been playing injured the past few innings.  And the injuries have taken their toll.  We went into international tie breaker 0-0, and couldn’t pull it through.

We had a good season – and we will hold on to the wins.  The unity.  The friendships.  The great work of the Lord.   We trust Him for each attendee from LifePoint.  He has a wonderful plan for your future and ours.  We may not be ok in this moment, but we will be ok – because He is good.

How Does Iron Man Relate to the Gospel You Preach?

We received an email a few weeks ago from a pastor out of town, helping a young couple from his church find a new church in Findlay – where they’re moving to in a few weeks.  He had visited our website and was able to get some of his questions answered, but had a few more – so he sent an email.  And he called us J.   Here are some of his questions:

“I know I am probably a little odd, but what do you believe about Christ?  God?  Man?  Salvation?  The Bible? “ –not odd at all!

“Do you have a statement of faith?  Is there an historical tradition that you find yourself part of?”  – yes, yes we do

Maybe I am not cultural enough, but how does Iron Man relate to the gospel you preach? “   – well, let me tell you *see below

Since the LP emails come to me, I forwarded it to PK (aka Kevin) and texted him that it was coming.  Shortly after we received the email, this pastor called the church and Kevin was there and able to answer his questions.  It definitely was a better verbal conversation to have than written.

After they talked for a few minutes, the pastor apologized to Kevin for the email feeling as if he had written it in a bad tone.  Kevin told him not to worry…  Then the other pastor said, “I sure wish our congregation had more of the younger crowd.” To which Kevin replied, “We all have our issues…”  The pastor answered him, “That is a very wise statement, young man.”  (Obviously he doesn’t know Kevin is FORTY!! Ha ha ha).

When Kevin was retelling me this conversation, I pondered that thought.  Lately, I have really been missing the fact that there are not the older in our church.  (Well, there are some of us that are older, but not older older…) I feel like we are missing out on such wisdom.  Yes – there’s benefits to reaching and growing with the ‘younger’ crowd, but there are drawbacks to it as well.  Just as there are drawbacks if the church is the opposite, still holding to the older (older-older) but not reaching the younger.

It reminded me of the song by Casting Crowns “City on a Hill”.  I previously blogged and cited this song, but today it’s for a completely different reason.   One line stands out…

“It was the fire of the young ones, it was the wisdom of the old…”

Ahhhhh, the perfect mix that makes a City on a Hill.   Maybe these next five years we’ll grow in the “older-older” age group.

PS – What does Iron Man have to do with the Gospel we preach?   It’s based on Proverbs 27:17 and was a message series about how “iron sharpens iron” and how to sharpen/encourage one another in our walks with The Lord.   Same message, different delivery.

Lazarus Prayers

We were blessed to attend two wonderful churches yesterday in the Atlanta area.  At Passion City, Pastor Louie is preaching a series called “Wide Awake” based on John 11.   It’s the story of Lazarus being sick and Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that he was not doing well… They needed Jesus. They needed a miracle.  Jesus didn’t make it in time and Lazarus died.

Have you ever felt like that? You’ve called out to Jesus, but He didn’t answer when you want or in the way you want?  In fact, it feels like He isn’t listening or that His lack of response may make you feel, even if just for a moment, that your prayer isn’t a priority to Him.

Of course, we know the rest of the story.  Lazarus died. But even death doesn’t stop our Jesus. He arrived and Jesus woke Lazarus up. He wasn’t going to just heal Lazarus from an illness, He was going to raise him from the dead.

In the meantime, Mary, Martha and the others were mourning the loss of Lazarus.  They mourned what could’ve been.  They mourned Jesus not answering when/how they wanted.  They didn’t realize the story wasn’t over and He still had a plan.

We have been praying a Lazarus prayer. Actually two.  In fact, I would say we are even mourning the fact that Jesus hasn’t shown up yet with a miracle (or two).   Despite that, we do know that in His sovereignty, God knows the rest of the story and has a plan.  Like Louie said, “When you walk with Jesus, you know it’s going to be ok.”

Would you pray with us that God will bring the miracle?  Will you pray for us that if it’s not in the time we want or in the way we want, we’ll trust Him and His plan?

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the goodof those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

ONE TON!!

Hey Friends!!  LifePoint is collecting ONE TON (or more) of food this month.  If you live in the area and would like to donate, please message me and we’ll arrange a drop-off/pick-up!  There are some exciting things down the pike related to this, but can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet!!  Let’s be Matthew 25 and Isaiah 58 kind of Christians!!