Archives For Beyond Sunday

…by Brian Walker

We are blessed….to be a blessing. I love how this idea runs all the way through God’s story. From the beginning of Genesis to God’s ultimate blessing in Christ to our continual participation in blessing others. There are two things I’d like to point out and a resource I’d like to pass along.

It’s important for us to look at Abraham’s story as we think about being a blessing to the nations. It was immediately after Abram was blessed by God that he encountered the Egyptians. In the heat of the moment, Abram was afraid and told Pharaoh that his wife Sarah or Sari was actually his sister. He did this because he didn’t want to be killed and have Sarah taken from him, since she was beautiful. So Pharaoh took Sarah as his wife. This brought all sorts of chaos and curses down upon the Egyptians and eventually they discovered that Sarah was actually Abram’s wife. So instead of being a blessing to the nations, Abram was being a curse. To top it off this kind of thing didn’t happen once but twice. The second time is found in Genesis 20 when Abraham tells King Abimelek that Sarah is his sister.

I think what we can take away from this is that we won’t always do everything right in blessing people or treating people correctly, but God will still use us to bless the nations. We see that even in Abraham’s story as he gave rise to a nation that gave rise to Christ! God is true in His promises and He will be true to us as we faithfully try to be a blessing to the nations.

Secondly, I think it’s important for us to see being a blessing in light of our live sent series. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

I love that passage. There is a strong connection between the idea that we are Christ’s ambassadors/aroma and we are a blessing to the nations. As we share this message of reconciliation we are bringing people a blessing. We share the hope of the world that is in Christ! The old has gone and the new has come! Think about that as you engage with how to be a blessing in the world.

Finally, I want to share a good resource from diving deeper into being a blessing and praying through how God might use you. I found this resource as we were looking for creative ideas for this past Sunday. It is a worship project put together by some people from Willow Creek. The whole series is called “A New Liturgy.” If you aren’t familiar with what liturgy means, it literally means “the work of the people.” It’s meant to be a term of participating in worship. It’s not the sole job of the worship leader to worship God, but for us as His people to worship Him. So this liturgy offers groups or even individuals to worship God and experience what it means to be a blessing. Practically, this liturgy is a mixture of prayer, scripture and song that is led by “worship leader” on the audio tracks.

I hope this helps you engage even more with what it means to be a blessing. You’ll want to open up both the lyrics and the audio to get the most out of it.

Blessed to be a Blessing Audio

A New Liturgy – No 2: Blessed to Be a Blessing

Blessed to be a Blessing Lyrics and First 10 min of audio

http://www.anewliturgy.com/02.html

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The story of Noah – a man that was probably seen as coo-coo for cocoa puffs and who would have been medicated on numerous levels if he lived in our day – was just a man following God. To be the one soul (plus immediate family of course) chosen to live out the flood is an amazing realization. Our God created a fresh start. I certainly didn’t live through that time, but I find it hard not to see myself there. I relate to the fresh start. I think it’s awesome how God created a fresh start in me when I chose to follow Him.

 

I carried around regret for a long time but thanks to God, He didn’t leave me there. He loved me too much and knew all the potential I had to serve Him once I was able to let all that go. He has work for me and if I’m hung up inside my own head, I couldn’t be His hands and feet here on earth. Are you hung up on something? He wants to take that away. No pain, no worry, no regrets. He wants you to let it go and follow Him. He has mighty work for you.

 

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

(David Crowder Band)

Do you imagine God would do His work THROUGH YOU?

If you’re like me, anytime I even think about God working through me, I begin to list all the reasons why God would never want to use me.  I mean, I’ve followed Christ for years, but I still hesitate at times to believe that God would want to use me.  I rehearse the many sins of my past and my present that I think disqualify me.  I list all of the skills and abilities that I don’t have that prevent me from being used by God.  I list all of the activities that are currently on my calendar that keep me too busy to do whatever God would want me to do.  I think of the Bible “superheroes” who all seemed to have incredible amounts of faith and participated in miracles, and I begin to convince myself that I just don’t have what it takes to be used by God.

But I also know that the most incredible thing about the people I read about in the Bible is not necessarily the people themselves.  As you probably already know, Abraham was a liar, David was an adulterer and murderer, Noah was a drunkard, and Moses was a coward.  All of these guys had a past that, like you and me, would lead us to believe that God could never use them.  However, the Bible is not a storybook full of superheroes.  Rather, it is full of stories of God’s redemptive work in the lives of sinners like you and me.

So as I look back on all my excuses for why God could never use me, I notice that the problem with my excuses is that they all depend on me.  I think that’s where most of us get off track.  You see, God hasn’t called us to show others how awesome we are but rather to humble ourselves and show others how awesome He is.  So let’s not worry about whether or not our lives look perfect, because Jesus is the only superhero here.  He’s done for us what none of us could do for ourselves.  Our job is to recognize our complete dependence upon Him and come to Him with a heart that is willing to do whatever He nudges us to do.  Whatever!

So maybe God isn’t asking you to slay any giants today.  Maybe He’s not asking you raise your arm and part any seas.  But maybe He is simply asking you to open yourself up to a conversation with the homeless man that you pass every day on your way to work.  Maybe He’s asking you to buy a few Christmas presents for the neighbor who you know lost his job.  Maybe He’s asking you to shovel the driveway for the single mother who’s always on the go.  Maybe He simply wants you to seek Him and find that one passion that He uses to make a difference in this world.  You don’t have to save the world.  You can’t save the world.  However, you could start by doing for one person what you wish you could for everyone.  Maybe, though unexpected, God may just work through you.  Won’t you at least consider the possibilities?

I dropped my card in the coffin on Thursday night.

It was an amazing moment for me personally as I forgave.  It was also an amazing moment as I watched friends forgive.  I watched husbands and wives who had held grudges for years against each other walk to the coffin hand in hand.

And as I watched the coffin full of past hurts and wrongs travel down the aisle, I felt relief.  I felt freedom.  I felt joy.

The person that I named on my card will probably never acknowledge that they wronged me.  This was my hang-up.  It was a strange mixture of emotions.  One part of me wanted them to know they had hurt me.  I wanted them to feel bad that they had caused me pain.  Another part of me was afraid that if I forgave them, it would change the relationship as it is now.  The hurts they caused were long in the past and I had pushed so many things deep down inside of me to make room for a “healthy” relationship.  I was afraid of the conflict and desperately held on to what I thought was peace.  I needed peace.  I needed safety.  I needed hope.

I decided before I came on Thursday night that I would put my card in the coffin.  I didn’t want to, really.  I mean, I did, but a big part of me was just so sure that nothing would change.  I made a decision to trust.  I trusted that this forgiveness was more about me and God than it was about me and the people who had wronged me.  I trusted that I would be living as the aroma and ambassador of Christ and others would grow if I forgave.  I trusted that the anger and bitterness inside of me would fade away when I forgave.  I trusted that along with forgiveness would come the peace and safety and hope that I knew I so desperately needed.

All of that is true.  48 hours later and I am already experiencing new peace and hope.  Even more than that, as I move into forgiveness now, I can heal.  I can change the parts of me that have been shaped by the hurts I’ve experienced.  I can untie the restraints that accompanied my unforgiveness.  I can clear the vision that was so blurred, and even sometimes blinded by my scars.  I can choose to walk forward toward a life of fullness.

If you were able to experience the past three weeks at one of our campuses or online, but still can’t take that final step and move forward in forgiveness.  I get it.  I have stood, frozen unable to decide whether I could do it; whether or not I needed to do it or honestly, even if I wanted to do it.  It isn’t always easy.  Actually, it’s more often than not painful and difficult, but it is so worth the journey.  I hope that my story and the others you hear over the next few weeks as we experience the fullness of the forgiveness to which God calls us, will encourage us all to forgive.