Archive for the ‘None’ Category

Judy

My mother-in-law, Judy, committeed suicide last night. If you are reading this, I ask you to pray for my wife and her family. They were all very close.

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Evotional

The following entry is an evotional that comes weekly from National Community Church (www. theaterchurch.com) in Washington D.C. You can sign up to receive it yourself at the following link:

Sign-up for National Community Church’s evotional.

Here is the latest. This one really spoke to me, so I though I would post it here.

The Wild Goose Chase
10.20.05
Pastor Mark Batterson

This evotional kicks off a new series titled The Wild Goose Chase. To subscribe to the Theaterchurch.com podcast visit http://www.theaterchurch.com. For additional thoughts on The Wild Goose Chase visit my blog @ http://www.evotional.com.

Let me tell you where the title comes from. The Celtic Christians had a great name for the Holy Spirit. It sounds a little sacrilegious at first earshot, but I’ve learned to love this name. The Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit the Wild Goose.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at my life I can’t think of a better description of what it’s like being led by the Holy Spirit than a wild goose chase.

On one level, God is predictable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is loving and gracious and powerful. You can take it to the bank. But God is also predictably unpredictable. I love the way Oswald Chambers said it: “To be certain of God is to be uncertain in all our ways, you never know what a day may bring forth.”

Jesus said it this way in John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

In other words, if you are Spirit led you will experience high levels of unpredictability.

And that can cause high levels of angst or high levels of excitement.

Hold that thought.

I daresay that everybody reading this evotional has something in common: you drove your parents crazy when you were a kid. And here’s how you did it. You sat in the backseat of your family car and you asked one question over and over again. And you all know the question because you asked it so many times: when are we going to get there?

I think that question reveals something about human nature.

We want to know exactly where we’re going and we want to know exactly when we’ll get there. That’s a nice way of saying we’re control freaks.

We want a complete itinerary with everything mapped out.

The problem with that is this: as long as the Holy Spirit is in the driver’s seat and you’re in the backseat you’ll never know exactly where you’re going or when you’ll get there.

I used to hate that. But I’ve learned to love it.

You know what I think? I think the greatest moments in life are unscripted. They are unrehearsed and unplanned and unpredictable. And that’s precisely what makes them unforgettable.

Let me put it in theatrical terms.

I think part of us wants God to take us to a three Act play with a clearly defined plot that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the Holy Spirit takes us to the Improv instead. We want the entire script up front, but that would undermine our dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

Let me cut to the chase. We’ve got to learn to enjoy the unplanned, unscripted, unpredictable moments in life. That’s part and parcel of chasing the Wild Goose. It’s improvisation.

Unscripted Moments

Last week our team was in Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference. Ask me what I remember most and it’s not the things we pre-planned. It was the unscripted moments. It was the improv.

Someone on our team offered Lora $20 if she’d run through a fountain that was outside the Mall of Georgia. You don’t want to double dog dare my wife. She got soaking wet. But she got $20 which she immediately used to buy dry clothes. It was improv.

I remember 9,000 people blowing up whoopee cushions and sitting on them. I never thought that I’d get into the Guinness Book of World Records at the Catalyst conference. There was a Guinness rep at the event to verify the world record. It was improv.

Those of you who know me know that I’m an impulsive goofball. And proud of it! We went to Chick-Fil-A for a breakfast sandwich when we arrived in Atlanta and after I paid for my order I got three pennies in change. I walked back to the table where our team was seated and I threw them onto the floor and across the restaurant. Everybody gave me a weird look and I said, “It’s for the kids.” There is nothing I loved more than finding change when I was a kid. Made my day! So every time I got change that day I threw it on the ground and said, “It’s for the kids.” It was improv.

Here’s what I’m getting at. Part of us wants to know exactly where we’re going and exactly when we’ll get there. But that would be boring! But we’ve got to learn to enjoy the unscripted things that happen. It’s part of chasing the Wild Goose Chase.

Delays and Detours

Over the next three weeks I want to look at three stories from the book of Acts. If I was asked to sub-title the book of Acts I’d probably sub-title it The Wild Goose Chase. There is no way you could have scripted the things that happened. You couldn’t Mapquest the missionary journeys. You couldn’t schedule the divine appointments on your Palm Pilot. You couldn’t predict the miracles that happen.

Here is my take on the book of Acts.

Acts 1 begins with twelve dysfunctional disciples. And Acts 28 ends with the gospel spreading to the entire ancient world. In between are a bunch of wild goose chases. I want to look at three of those wild goose chases the next three weeks. The first one is in Acts 17.

Acts 17 begins with Paul preaching in Thessalonica. A mob forms and Paul escapes in the middle of the night. He goes to Berea and starts preaching. But that mob from Thessalonica tracks Paul down and finds him in Berea. Acts 17:14 says, “The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind.”

If I’m Paul I’m probably complaining about my circumstances. I’m getting kicked out of every city I go to! And I’m probably a little drained physically and emotionally. Lynch mobs usually have that effect.

Paul could have laid low. After all, he was short staffed. He could have licked his wounds or thrown a pity party. But Paul always has his spiritual radar on. Acts 17:16 says, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.” And Paul decided to do something about it. “He went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.”

I won’t read the rest of the chapter, but Paul ends up sharing his faith with some of the greatest philosophical minds in the ancient world in a place called the Aeropagus. One member of the council, Dionysius, became a believer. And a woman named Damaris put her faith in Christ.

Now let me make an observation: Athens wasn’t on Paul’s itinerary.

Put yourself in Paul’s shoes. Paul could have seen Athens as a detour or a delay! He could have complained about his circumstances. But he didn’t see it as a detour or a delay. He saw it for what it was: a divine appointment.

Here’s the big idea: what you think is a detour or delay may be the very thing that gets you where God wants you to go!

When I look back on my life, I genuinely thank God for the detours and delays. DC was a detour! We had planned on spending the rest of our lives in Chicago. We tried to plant a church in Chicago, but it didn’t happen. Our plans were delayed. It was frustrating. It was embarrassing. But thank God for detours and delays!

Flight Delay

Now let me go back to one little phrase in Acts 17:16: “While Paul was waiting.”

Most of us would have been complaining under our breath. I can’t believe God let me get kicked out of Berea. But Paul redeems the time.

You only have two options when you find yourself in circumstances you don’t want to be in. You can complain about the circumstances. Or you can make the most of those circumstances.

Two weeks ago our team flew back from the Catalyst Conference. To be perfectly honest, I was exhausted. I wanted to get home. I wanted to see my kids and sleep in my own bed. Unfortunately, the entire airport was experiencing weather delays. At first, I was frustrated. I wanted to have a bad attitude about it. But then someone on our team pulled out a barrel of monkeys. I’m not sure how to describe it, but you try to string a bunch of plastic monkeys together and pick them up. We had a blast playing with monkeys!

And then someone on our team thought we should provide some flight delay entertainment. So we decided to dust off our Napoleon Dynamite routine and turn Gate 10 into a dance floor.

The quality is pretty poor, but we captured some of it on a video phone. Here’s a link: http://blog.theaterchurch.com/2005/10/flight-delay-entertainment.html.

Believe it or not, we actually got a nice round of applause from Gate 10. But the kicker was a girl who came up to us and told us she attends NCC. We were sort of hoping we wouldn’t see anybody who knows us! She was actually on the phone with another NCCer when we started dancing. She said, “You won’t believe this. Pastor Mark and the NCC staff are dancing in the middle of the Atlanta airport.”

Here’s my point. We were literally delayed. And we could have grumbled and complained about those circumstances. But we decided to make the most of those circumstances. And it turned into one of the highlights!

George Bernhard Shaw said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”

Maybe you feel like your flight has been delayed? Your friends are getting married or getting promotions and you’re stuck at Gate 10. You want to be back in Berea, but you find yourself in Athens.

Maybe you feel like your dreams have been delayed or detoured.

What you think of as a delay or detour may be exactly what it takes to get you where God wants you to go!

Most of wait while we’re waiting! Paul saved cities! Paul did more while he was waiting than most of us do while we’re doing!

Why? He redeemed the time! He turned a detour into a divine appointment. He turned a delay into a divine appointment.

God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. Here’s the catch. Sometimes the right place at the right time seems like the wrong place at the wrong time.

But what seems like a delay or detour may be the very thing that gets you where God wants you to go!

Chase the Wild Goose.

Two Dreams…

This morning I had two dreams that I remember vividly. Like most people, this is unusual for me. Normally, I do not remember any of the dreams I have. Let me recount them below.

In the first dream I was talking with the leadership of a non-profit that did what I would call, “least of these” ministry. They helped the down and out, the homeless, the destitute and the addicted. However, they also helped those who were experiencing temporary problems (or hopefully temporary problems) such as job loss, financial difficulty due to medical bills and other similar situations. In the dream, the nonprofit run a online message board to provide emotional and other types of support to those experiencing these temporary problems. At some point in the past I had posted to these message board notes of support and encouragement to some of the people in need. Someone at the nonprofit noticed and appreciated my post, so they asked me if I would become a volunteer moderator of the message board. They told me it was there hope that these boards could provide the kind of moral support that was just as necessary as financial support for those who were facing a short-term problem. They also hoped by showing the love of Christ in a tangible way they could be a positive influence on the spiritual journey of those using the message board.

At this point, I woke up feeling completely rested and awake. I looked over at my clock and thought it said it was 5:28 AM. As I normally get up at 5:30, I thought I would just lay there for a couple of minutes until my alarm went off. After what seemed like an unusually long two minutes, I look again and realized it was now 3:32 AM. Believing that this had to be wrong, I went into my office and looked at the time on the computer. It verified that it was now 3:34 AM. Being a person who believes that sleep is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind, I decided to go back to sleep for the next two hours.

Next I had a dream about another ministry. Only this time it was an “evangelistic” ministry. Somehow they also knew about me, but I do not know how in the dream. The contact me and ask me if I will help them set-up a message board system for thier ministry. It seems they have had some internet based communications with a couple of lesbians and they say, “We are hoping we can convert them.”

At this point my alarms goes of at the real 5:30 AM. When I wake up I distinctly remember the person from the second ministry telling me they want to convert them. It really stuck in my head and bothered me. What I am about to say has nothing to do with your belief about homosexuality or what you believe the scriptures say about homosexuality. It has to do with how we present the Gospel message. The first group desired to be a positive influence on peoples spiritual journey. The intrinsically understood that our job is to help people along and it is the job of the Holy Spirit to do the rest. The second group had more of a conquest attitude. It reminds me of the tactics used in the Crusades and we all know how effective that was in converting muslims.

I am not absolutely sure what God was trying to tell me through these dreams. I have not used the tactics of the second organization for many years, but I at least feel like he was saying I am on the right path.