Monday, August 19, 2013

Custom Made Crisis

Two Sundays ago, my dear friend John McComb gave up a Sunday to come and preach to our church family.  John is one of the most honest and faithful people I know, and my life is better because he's in it.  He preached from 2 Samuel 6 and focused on what he called a "Crisis of Faith." Days later his sermon is still resonating in my heart and soul.  So, I thought I would unload a few of those thoughts.

The first thing is that everyone will go through a crisis of faith.  John challenged us that often a crisis will come when you've been doing everything right.  When crisis comes, many people often wonder what they've done wrong to deserve such a terrible or challenging situation, but in scripture we often see people of consistent faithfulness presented with difficulty, suffering, or pain.  The purpose of the crisis is growth.  Crisis has the ability to take you to a place of faith that you never would've gotten to otherwise. God doesn't send hardship because He's mad at you.  He sends it because He loves you and wants you to know Him more.  Each crisis that we endure is custom made to take us to a new level of faith, to a deeper place of knowing and trusting God.

One of the harder things resonating with me is the idea that a crisis is designed to kill part of you.  God wants to prune away the areas of your life or church that aren't bearing fruit consistent with the calling that God has ordained for you.  Nobody enjoys pruning, but there isn't growth without it.  This reminds us of the cross.  Jesus could not have been raised in new life or power if He had not died first.  A crisis gives us that opportunity to identify with Christ in His sufferings in order that we may share in the resurrection power.  Over and over the Bible teaches this.  Suffering brings identify with Christ and closeness to God like nothing else.  Crisis builds character and maturity.  It's not fun to be pruned, and it requires faith to believe that there is life on the other side of the death.  The truth is that there is something in all of us that needs to die in order for there to be more life.  There are things in our churches that need to die in order for God to bring new life.  It's hard, but it's true.

The final thought I wanted to share is something that came back to me about a sermon I preached in Africa last December.  It's easy to blame the devil for bad things that happen, but the enemy is limited in what he can do.  God is ultimately sovereign over everything.  I told a group of pastors that the church belongs to Him. It's His church.  It's possible that a church will suffer because of sin or corruption.  Many people do a fine job of killing their church on their own.  However, it's also possible that a church will go through a crisis simply because God wants them to.  It's not that they've done anything wrong.  It's God's prerogative to bless or prune.  It's His job to protect His mission, and we pray for Him to do whatever it takes for us to be the people He has called us to be.  This may mean that circumstances in a church are radically altered.  We have prayed this at River Stone from the beginning.  If we have become anything other than what you want us to be, make whatever adjustments are necessary.  Crisis forces us to live in what we claim to believe - everything is the Lord's.  The church, our lives, everything.  He is responsible.

In crisis, the natural response is to focus on the casualties and pain. However, the spiritual response is to be open to God's why.  Everything He does is on purpose.  Everything He does is for the good and protection of His children.  As a result of believing in this, I've come into this week more open to the Lord's pruning and praying things like this...

 Kill what needs to be killed.  Prune what needs to be pruned.  Do whatever you need to do to demonstrate your power and faithfulness.  Make me into the person you created me to be.  Mold our church into the vessel of your Kingdom that will bring you the most glory.

Thanks, John for speaking so much truth and love to us.  We are better for it.

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Blogger @jmillerjr said...

Amen my friend...

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ~ John 12:24

Get ready for breakthrough in your life, in River Stone, in San Marcos & the nations... You have been tried, tested, pruned & purified, and have been found trustworthy & faithful.

2:41 PM  

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