God’s Like a Child Waiting to Be Found

764984_78439510I read this the other day, and it just struck me with how true it is. Shauna Niequist writes this:

What writing teaches me, over and over, is that God is waiting to be found everywhere; in the darkest corners of our lives, the dead ends and bad neighbourhoods we wake up in, and in the simplest, lightest, most singular and luminous moments. He’s hiding, like a child, in quite obvious and visible places, because he wants to be found.

And I just so believe that. I mean deep in my bones believe that. That God want’s to be found. That he is part of all areas of our lives, sometimes in these obvious and amazing places waiting to be found.

  • What if rather than assuming God is hiding from us, he wants to be found by us.
  • What if rather than assuming God is only in huge mountaintop experiences, he is all around us?
  • What if rather than assuming that only mystics and spiritual gurus can find God, that God wants to be found by everyone? Even us ordinary people with jobs, cooking, and kids?
  • What if God isn’t far out there, but right with you.

The question then is are you looking for him? Because I believe like Shauna writes, that God’s hiding, like a child, in quite obvious and visible places, because he wants to be found

An Impossible Step of Faith

200390_9299On Sunday we looked at the story of Joshua in Joshua 1 and 2, because the story of Joshua is really a story of “Plan B”. The Israelites have been in a holding pattern for years, wandering in the desert, wondering when their breakthrough would happen, wondering when Plan B would end and they would move into the promised land.

This is where we find the Israelites in the first few chapters of Joshua, anticipating the future but not sure how to get there.

And God comes and speaks to Joshua and tells him something clear, but also something difficult. He says take the Ark and go and stand in the Jordan River. That’s it. That’s all he says. That’s all he gives.

The difficulty is that the Jordan River is what stands between the Israelites and the Promised Land. The difficulty is that the Jordan River is not a lazy peaceful river. In verse 15 we read the Jordan River was raging, at flood stage, was not peaceful at all. The Jordan River starts way up high, and runs very quickly towards the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.

And so what is happening is all the water, all the rain, all the moisture is now rushing downwards creating a raging, flood-high, dangerous river for Joshua to cross.

And God says go step in the river and wait. That’s it. That’s all Joshua has to go on.

But Joshua takes an impossible step. He steps into the raging waters. He steps into the flood and he waits, and God acts and does a miracle and makes dry land.

But here is the thing: God doesn’t act until Joshua has taken the step. God doesn’t do the miracle first, God’s miracle comes after the trusting step of faith.

So on Sunday we looked at how if we want to get out of the “Plan B” situations we are in, it often takes a step of faith. It often means us taking an impossible step. It means us trusting in God, and then stepping out to see how God might come through.

The main point was this: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

We closed by asking ourselves: what is our Jordan River, and what is our step of faith? What is the obstacle we face that is stopping us from moving forward into the Promised Land? What is the obstacle that is stopping us from receiving God’s promises? And what is the step God is asking us to take? For some it’s a phone call to a fractured relationship, for others applying for that job or starting that business, for others, to admit that you need help. The point is that before God acts, he asks us to trust. So what step in trust is he asking us to take?

The challenge then this week was simple: take the step of faith, and step into the flood. My prayer then was that this week we all might see dry land, and walk through to the Promised Land, as God proves his faithfulness to us.


 Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

Teaching Points:

  • Suffering, of course, can lead you in either of two directions: It can make you very bitter and close you down, or it can make you wise, compassionate, and utterly open. Richard Rohr
  • God’s promises don’t have an expiration date.
  • When life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to turn out, you may think you’re losing control. But the truth is, you never had control in the first place. Pete Wilson
  • We don’t give up on God, and we don’t give in to fear.
  • You grow more through difficulty and hardship than through the easy times of life.
  • Plan B times are tough, but they are also times of growth.
  • First, that God asks us to take a step of faith, Second, that we don’t always know how things will turn out, Third, the step is often difficult
  • Moving out of Plan B requires an impossible step.
  • “Plan B situations force us to rely on a power outside of ourselves” – Pete Wilson
  • In Plan B times our faith will either grow or shrink.
  • What step is God asking you to take?

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

How have you seen Plan B times either shut down someone’s faith, or be a reason it grows? What about you personally? Has a Plan B time ever shrunk your faith, or opened it? How before has God ever asked you to take an impossible step? What happened when you stepped out in faith? What obstacles or river are you facing now? Do you have a sense of your next step? Who can help you support you as you take it?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about this week’s story, and how Joshua has to trust in God. Teach them that sometimes God asks us to take steps before we know what might happen.

Ask them if they have any obstacles in their life (Jordan Rivers) and what step God might be asking them to take. Pray about their obstacles, and help them take their next steps.

Challenge for the Week: Take the step into the flood.

Plan B

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series called “Plan B”.

pete_wilson-plan_b-coverFor the summer we are going to be using some of the themes and thoughts from Pete Wilson’s book Plan B to structure our sermons. This way if you miss a sermon, you can catch it online, and read about the same theme while you are sitting at your cottage, deck, beach, or wherever you may be. It will help us to move in the same direction even as we have holidays, and getaways.

So the whole point of the series is this: what do you do when God doesn’t show up like you thought he would? What do you do when things fall apart? What do you do when plan A fails and you’re in plan b, c, d, e,…..or q. How do you get through the difficult times? How do you find God’s voice and direction during plan b’s? What do you do when things go bad?

So that’s where we are going for the summer, and we’re starting in on Sunday by looking at the life of David in 1 Samuel 16-19. So if you get a chance why not read it over and see how David’s life is a lot like ours: with ups, downs, doubts, and God’s faithfulness.

And lets discover over the summer how to make it through the Plan B’s of life because the truth is this: if you’re not in one now, one will probably come around. So we might as well prepare for the Plan B’s.

Finding the Right Destination: Vision, and Direction

On Sunday we are launching a new series at the church.1145632_61514054

We are going to be asking a key question:

Where are our lives headed?

This is important because if we don’t examine our destination, time can slide by and we can end up saying, “How did we get here”. The point is that if we want to have an impact in this world, it comes by aligning the direction of our lives with God’s direction. Because my honest belief is this: we don’t ever drift into making a difference. So we need to examine where our lives are heading, and live with intention.

So we have been wrestling, asking, and discerning where God is leading us? What has he been birthing in us? What are we called to do?

And these are crucial questions for everyone of us to be asking. Because we don’t drift into making a difference. Vague intentions often lead to a lack of action.  Jesus though came with a clear mission, and vision of what he was going to do. He summarized it in the “Good News”, he lived it out and shared it with everyone. Jesus had no ambiguity in what he was doing. This is what we are going to be examining on Sunday what Jesus’ calling was, and still is. Through this we can discover how we fit into Jesus’ calling on earth.

So I think it’s important for everyone to be asking the question, “Jesus, where are you leading me?” And this is what we are doing on Sunday, just corporately as a community. 

So that’s where we are going on Sunday. The question I have for you is simple. Where is God leading you? In life? In your church? In work? In your family? Where is he leading you?

It is too easy to continue on a direction, without thinking about the destination. So talk with God about where he would have you go, about the next steps, about what he would have you do. Because the essence of faith is to follow, but to do that we have to be led. So why not spend some time with Jesus talking with him about following, and being led. And come Sunday that’s what we are talking about too.


The Bushes are Burning All Around Us

1359634_44238885On Sunday we explored Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and God. The honest truth is if we are in a difficult, dry, or desert place the only way we ever leave that place is through God’s leading.

The difficulty is that when we are in a desert place God often seems so distant. We are often calling out for God but can’t seem to find him. Through this story we realized a few ways that God seems to work when we are in a desert place.

The first is that he places something in our regular, everyday life, that while intriguing isn’t interrupting of our life. For Moses there was a burning bush placed in his path. This certainly was intriguing but wasn’t interrupting in his life. It’s easy to come up with plausible  explanations for a bush on fire in the desert. So rather than interrupting Moses’ life God seeks to lure Moses’ attention towards him.

To be honest we’d love God to interrupt our daily lives and lead us to his Promised Land. The trouble is that doesn’t seem to be how God seems to work in the Bible. God seems to wait, to lure, to linger, and hope that we follow. But God does not coerce, he does not seem to demand, or to force us to follow. So Moses notices the bush, and then he must spend a long time watching the bush, because how long would it take you to realize a bush isn’t burning up? A long time. So his interest grows, and so does his attention. So we read in Exodus 3:4 “When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush”. Isn’t that true? That once God has our attention he speaks, he calls, and he promises. This is how our God works. He works in partnership with our attention, willingness, and participation.

So the question is if you are in a desert place and want to leave how much attention does God have? Because there is a possibility that we’ve been walking past burning bushes – holy nudges, and luring by God – and missing him. So the question is how can you this week give God your attention and awareness?

That’s the question we pursued on Sunday, believing that once God has our attention he speaks and leads. To leave the desert God needs our attention to lead us. So this week I think the challenge is this: give God your attention, in everyway possible. Be open to his leading, his speaking, and trust that when he has your attention he will speak. Because God doesn’t leave us in the desert, he walks us through it. But to be led, we have to first be willing to hear.

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Give God your Attention

Take Aways…

  • Many of us know what it is like to be in the desert: a dry, deserted, and difficult place
  • How do you leave a desert place?
  • When we are lost and hurting we need God to speak
  • The ground doesn’t change Moses’ perception and awareness of the ground changes
  • Sometimes God doesn’t change the world around us, he changes us to see a changed world
  • When we are wasting away in the desert we God’s promises of new life and a new future
  • The only thing that gets us out of the desert and difficult times, is God’s voice and his leading.
  • How long does it take a bush to burn up?
  • God placed something intriguing in the path of his everyday life, to call him to an extraordinary life.
  • God speaks when he has our attention
  • To leave the desert means giving God your full attention.
  • How much attention did God have this week?
  • If we want to leave the desert or difficult places it starts with us giving God our attention in our everyday spaces.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Has God ever spoke to you through a burning bush like encounter? Do you think its possible you’ve ever missed God’s attempts to get your attention? Have you ever been in the desert before or even now? What was it like or is like? How might God be trying to get your attention today? How might you give him you awareness and attention this week?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk about your kids about today’s sermon. Talk to them about how just like how you kids often won’t really talk with us as parents, until you have our full attention, share that God is similar. Sometimes he doesn’t interrupt us until we give him our attention

Challenge for this Week: Give God your attention this week

Learning to Leave the Desert

1412359_51543500How do you leave the desert?

I mean honestly. When your life is feeling dry, distant, and you feel alone – how do you leave that place? When you feel like you are wandering around in circles, when life has passed you by, when you look back and regret decisions wondering – how did I end up here? How do you leave “here”? How do you find a place with life, hope and grace? How do you leave the desert?

I don’t know if you’ve been there but I have. I have been in a place that once was good but got drained of life and was draining me. I have been in a place where all of a sudden I felt alone, distant from God, and wondering where I was. I have been in a desert staring at the empty world around me wondering how I will ever find my way out. And maybe you’ve been there too. It is a difficult place to be. The trouble is that life seems to take us to the desert.

The question is how do we leave? How do we find new life again? How do we find hope again? How do we find a land flowing with milk and honey?

That’s what we are exploring on Sunday how to leave the desert and find new life. We are going to be exploring a pretty well known passage with some pretty not-so-well-known conclusions.

Come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out, which not so surprisingly, begins with God finding you.

But that’s Sunday, what about today? What if your desert is so difficult, and oppressive that you can’t wait till Sunday to start leaving it?

Well I’ll give you a hint of where we are going on Sunday. It doesn’t begin with you. It doesn’t begin with you forcing or finding your way out. It begins with God finding you and leading you out.

So today why not make yourself easy to find. Why not take some actual time, sit in space with God, ask him to direct, and to wait on him. Give him time to speak to you, give him your attention, and wait patiently on him. This, of course, isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than languishing in the desert.

So come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out in more depth, but it does begin with God. So no matter how your life has been these past few weeks, days, or even years why not let yourself be found by God. Don’t fill your weekend so full of noise, business, and stuff that he can’t break through to you. Sit still, stop, and listen. And who knows maybe God will show up in a burning bush and lead you out…

My Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned… Part 3

Here are the last 2 lessons I’ve learned this year.

Lesson #2: God Leads One Step at a Time

We often love to know the destination. But the life of faith isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. And what I’ve learned is that God reveals the next step but often not the destination. He asks me to trust him, in that as I walk with him, He always shows me the next step and asks me to trust him with that. And I’m learning to do just that.

Lesson #1: God is Certain

So much in our lives feels uncertain. As we look forward into the next year I don’t know what it holds. Maybe you too have some uncertainty in your life. You might not know what’s going to happen with your job, family, personal life or health. But what I’ve learned is that while I’m often uncertain about what the future holds: God isn’t. He is certain. He is steady and true. And he promises us that the future in front of us is good. This doesn’t mean easy and perfect. It means good. It means that he will cause everything good, bad, and boring to come together for good (Romans 8:28). God’s future for you and for me is full of hope, promise and more than we could ever hope, dream or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). So I’m learning to trust in that.

So I guess the only last question is to ask – what’s the next step God is leading you to take to reach your certain future? What is he asking you to do? Maybe today is the day to take that step.