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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do you trust me? - Lesson Learned Series

 Man it seems like lately God is just nailing me with thoughts, and concepts through the tunes in my mp3 player. He does that some times, I think it's a cool variation that He uses to get my attention with something He has for me to ponder and pray about.

I love my time in His Word, it's always so fresh and new, but it's amazing to me how God in His mighty repertoire can use things like music to get through to me as well.

Recently as I was listening to some music on the way home from a ministry trip to North Carolina a blast from the past came on my player, and in my mind I was immediately transported to a quiet time with the Lord that I was having in NYC...Let me explain.

One of the things I loved about being on staff at the church I was in north of NYC, was the mandate and precedent that my Senior Pastor put on spending quiet time alone with God for each of us staff members.

In fact his rule was that once a month for the same amount of time we would put into our ministry in the church office (9-5) we had to spend that alone with God (now this was of course in addition to our regular daily times, and really sent a message to the church that we were serious about our ministry and wanted God's Power to be driving it!)

It didn't matter where we went, but it couldn't be in the office and it had to be a place where we were focused on God and what He wanted to say.

I always looked forward to those times. I'm a little twisted I know, but I would always spend my day alone with God on a bench in Central Park with my Bible, a notebook and my cd player.

I would take a few cd's for the quick train ride in and then mix up my time with things like, reading the daily Proverb, praying some Psalms, listening to some worship music, praying for the people that I saw go past me, and journaling my thoughts.

I would usually include the discipline of fasting with my day away, and that always added to the realness of what I was doing. I couldn't wait to get up early and hop the train to the city; it was always with great excitement that I would head out to see what God was going to do that day.

As I captured my thoughts, prayers, lyrics to the songs and the words of scripture I then began to look for themes that emerged from what I was experiencing. I guess my attitude was one of anticipation that I was going to really be spending my day with God...it was all about Him, His Word and being open to what He was saying, and I couldn't believe that I was even getting paid to do it!

Well one particular day in 2004 was especially soul rocking and direction changing as I sat there reading, journaling, praying and listening to music that all seemed to have the theme of "Things are going to change, and change big time for you my friend!"

You see I had just come off an incredible spring where our ministry saw 90 skaters come to Christ in a month, one of my best friends and beloved youth leaders pass away (Love God, Love People chronicles that one), and many more events that God was using to get my attention that the comfortable life in Student Ministries that I had grown to love and appreciate was going to be turned upside down on it's ear and things were going to get tough, and quick!

Here are some of the things that happened in 2004 that God was using to get my attention...

1. 90 skaters come to Christ in a month - May 2004
2. Larry passes away - May 2004
3. Hang Time gets shut down after a BMXer breaks his leg (Over 500 in attendance that night) - June 2004
4. I develop Eurlychiosis (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and am literally down for a month - June 2004
5. I have a prayer session with 2 very special people who basically tell me that they believe that my upcoming trip to Ukraine is going to change everything for me! - June 2004
6. I have a youth leader tell me that he's praying that God would shake things up for me in Ukraine. - July 2004
7. I get to Ukraine and everything I have prepared to speak about is basically thrown out the window as I find out that over 90% of the audience that I'm going to be speaking to each day for a week has little or no knowledge of who Jesus is (I was prepared for more of a growth level type ministry taking the students to the next level in their faith...well, these guys don't even have a faith to begin with...prayers are being answered...God is shaking things up). - July 2004
8. While helping a missionary move books at the Kiev Seminary I see a sign on an office door that says "Youth Ministry International", I ask him what that was and I get introduced to the world of International Youth Ministry Training (Things are changing). - July 2004
9. I get home from Kiev and say to my wife "Umm...I think God may be calling us to move to Ukraine!" - August 2004
10. I nervously walk into my Sr. Pastor’s office and say “I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but I believe God is in the process of shaking things up in my life, and I think He may be calling me into missions, will you pray with me about discerning His voice correctly?” He was the best during the next several months of listening to God’s leading…never once did he say “Dude, you’re out of here…it’s this ministry or nothing buddy!” He had such an amazing Kingdom mentality! What a mentor! – August 2004
10. My grandmother was dying with Pancreatic Cancer (The same thing that I had just witnessed my friend Larry battle and lose). - September 2004
11. Our ministry had an open door to over 10,000 students in our area through the ministry of a nationally known abstinence speaker and we held nightly meetings at our church where the students who heard his captivating message in school that day were invited to come back at night to hear him explain how he made it through his earth shattering experience of losing his wife and child to AIDS...His relationship with Christ is proclaimed loud and clear! - November 2004
11. Bonnie and I go to Ukraine for a vision trip to see about joining YMI in Kiev, and come back even more confused because we didn't necessarily sense a call to the place, but more to the function of what YMI does. - December 2004
12. We go to YMI headquarters to tell the President that we won't be going with YMI - January 2005

These things and actually many more were all going on and swirling around me like a tornado when I boarded the Metro North train headed to Grand Central that particular day in 2004. I needed to get away; I needed to hear from the Lord in a very real and powerful way. My life was spinning around and I felt like I was on a roller coaster of emotions and feelings, and desperately needed God to step in and tell me what was going on and reassure me that He was in control.

As I sat there on the bench watching, reading, listening, praying and expecting, God used the lyrics to a song accompanied with words from Scripture to tell me exactly what I needed to hear.
The song that He used was "Lord, I don't know" by the Newsboys and as I sat there listening to the words I just broke down and started crying right in the middle of Central Park.

I didn't care, my world was changing, everything I knew and loved in ministry and relationships was changing and God used the lyrics of this song to help me start to make sense of it all. He is in control, and knows what He's doing. Check out the song below and scroll down to read the lyrics...

 

Lord, I don't know by: Newsboys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip8IuizLoL4

You are the
author of knowledge you can redeem what's been done you hold the present and all that's to come until your everlasting kingdom.

As I listened to that phrase “Lord, I don’t know where all this is going and how it all works out, Lead me to peace that is past understanding, a peace beyond all doubt.” I kept thinking of all the “this’s” in my life that needed explaining.

Lord, I don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead me to peace that is past understanding A peace beyond all doubt.

You are the God of tomorrow turning the darkness to dawn Lifting the hopeless with hope to go on you are the rock of all salvation.

Lord, I don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead me to peace that is past understanding A peace beyond all doubt.

Oh, Lord, you are the author Redeeming what's been done you hold us in the present And all that is to come.

Lord, we don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead us to peace that is past understanding peace beyond all doubt.

I mean why did Larry have to die? Why did Hang Time have to get shut down, and over 500 skaters be turned away from their church that just celebrated 90 of them coming in to the Kingdom? Why did God captivate my heart so much on that trip to Ukraine when I’ve been on tons of mission’s trips and never experienced anything like that before? Why did I get so sick in the middle of that crazy summer? And why did the most amazing, God fearing, prayer warrior and incredible rock of my family have to die of Pancreatic Cancer? Why, Why, Why, God I want to know WHY!

As the song played and the tears flowed God began to answer my questions, with a simple reassuring voice that said to my spirit, “I am the peace that is past understanding, the peace beyond all doubt, I know who you are, I know what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, what you’re struggling with, and I am in complete control…the real question is…Do You Trust Me?”

That was four years ago, and since then all kinds of new “this’s” have come my way. “This’s” that have caused me to do a lot of soul searching and even though I don’t have all the answers and the “this’s” keep changing and morphing into new and some times more complicated ones, deep down I know that God knows what He's doing.

I keep thinking about that fateful day in 2004 in the middle of Central Park, alone with my Savior who was totally focused on His child who was struggling, and doubting and questioning and wondering where He was in the middle of all his “this’s”.

The truth of the matter was that today’s “this” will always turn into something else and something else and something else, there will always be “this’s” that’s not the point. The point is do we trust God, that in the middle of all our junk that He is who He says He is, and He will guide us through all our rough waters.

He is the peace that passes understanding, the peace beyond all doubt, and even though I don't always understand Him...I need to Trust Him, He knows what He's doing!

Lesson Learned

1 comment:

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