Storms: Into, Through, or Out

(Next worship gathering – July 16th, 6:30pm, in the St. Johns Room at FCC – 3450 CR210, 32259)

At a Men’s Conference, I heard it said that every man is either going into, going through, or coming out of a storm.  The speaker was making the point: storms are universal for men.   I think it’s no less true for women or for children.  Storms are as universal for human beings.

Storms are common, too.  When I studied pastoral care, I learned that people face a major crisis, on average, once every four years.  After about two decades of ministry, all I can say is, “yep.”  Storms come into every life as sure as they come around on hot summer afternoons in Florida.

The question is not if you will have to go through storms in this life.  The question is how you’ll face them.

You find some good storm stories in the Bible.  In one, the disciples are sailing as a group across the sizable, deep, fresh-water lake also known as the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus was exhausted after a long day of work, and was asleep in the boat.  In the middle of the journey, a storm popped up.  It was a big one, because a group of men who’d spent their life on the water were afraid.  They woke Jesus who looked around and rebuked the waves and wind telling them to be still.  The waves and wind humbly obeyed.  Then he rebuked the disciples with a question: “where’s your faith?”  And they were amazed and asked, “Who is this?  Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Into, through, and out of a storm.  I don’t know where their faith was in that storm.  The more important consideration, I believe, is the condition of their faith the next time.  And for those guys, life would be one storm after another, just as it will be for us.

I wonder how they handled the next one?

I suspect they had more love, courage, grace, and hope in future storms because 1) they knew they would be going through them with Jesus and 2) they were able to go through them with one another.  It’s simple really, but because of that, they would have been able to remind each other that Jesus was greater than wind, waves, or anything else the storm could through at them.  They had experience.  They could encourage each other, reassure each other, give hope to one another, and do so from a place of confidence.

Those two realities point to two foolish choices people often make.  1) People choose to go it alone.  Storms are frightful things.  When you are stuck in them, your fears can play tricks on you, leading you to think that the storm is bigger than it really is, causing you to wonder where Jesus is.  Fatigue, worry, anxiety, blaming, and despair are all more likely when we’re alone.  2) People choose to go through the day without Jesus, without him during the times of quiet when “the storms” are not raging.  Going without Jesus during those times makes us less likely to know how to call on him in the middle of one.

You know, we are pretty intentional about Up-In-and-Out living.  Up – cultivating a relationships with God.  In – cultivating a close relationship with some others.  Out – going out to meet the worlds needs with God’s love, grace, and power.   I am seeing that such a lifestyle not only imitates the life of Jesus, but it opens us up to the work of God in us and around us.  It creates the kind of relationships that keep storms in place for us, and that creates a safe place for others who find themselves caught in life’s storms.

A few questions:

  1. How are you cultivating a closer relationship with God each day? (Up)
  2. Who’s investing in you and who are you investing in?  In other words, are you connected to a group of people who are helping you to live Up-In-Out? (In)
  3. Is your lifestyle creating a place where others find refuge and encouragement as they go through storms? (Out)

May the Lord grant you all that you need as you go into, through, and out of the storms of this season.

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Worship Gathering Sunday Night

We’re holding a special worship gathering next Sunday to commission Jim Weldon as he begins working as the Area Director for North St. Johns County Young Life. Please come and encourage and pray for Jim and his wife Jennifer – and if you know anyone who has a heart for teenagers in our community, who wants to see every kid and every kind of kid introduced to Jesus and encouraged to grow in their faith, please bring them to the service.  By the grace of God, they will be challenged, encouraged, and given an opportunity to become involved.
We’ll be meeting in the main sanctuary at Faith Community Church, located at 3450 CR210, 32259.   The service starts at 6:30pm.
Discipleship Ministry is Continuing Over the Summer!
Hope to see you soon!
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June Worship Gatherings

We have two worship gatherings scheduled for June.

1)  Our first worship gathering will this Sunday, June 4 at 6:30pm in the St. Johns Room of Faith Community Church (3450 CR210, 32259).  This will be our first Sunday night worship gathering!  I am looking forward to having Zach Melton with us who’ll be sharing what God is doing on the First Coast through the ministry of Evangelism Explosion, drawing people to himself.
I’m happy to say we have another Sunday evening with Stefan to lead us in singing God’s praise before he heads off to the fabled land of Gainesville.   (Something about starting college.)
2) We have a special worship service on June 25 (6:30 pm at Faith Community Church). We hope to have as many as possible from the community as we commission Jim Weldon to new work as the Area Director for North St. Johns County Young Life.   There will be more on that later.  But if you are reading this, try to be there.
Posted in Discipleship, First Coast Missional Community, healing prayer, missional living, neighboring, worship, worship service, Young Life, Young Lives | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Month Ahead @ LoveFirst Coast

  • You are invited to fast and pray Tuesday.  We’re fasting and praying that God would lead us to people to bless.
  • Prayer request: for God’s Kingdom to advance on the First Coast and especially through Young Life, Young Lives, and World Relief.
  • Prayer request:  for multiplication as we discern God’s call to mission and discipleship.
  • Discipleship Huddles – where we learn from Jesus (and each other) how to live like Jesus: Wednesday noon at Hurricane Grill on 210, Wednesday evening (at Norma and Andrew’s this week), and Sundays.
  • Next worship gathering at 6:30pm on SUNDAY JUNE 4 at FCC (3450 CR210).  We’re moving to Sunday nights.  We are doing this for a practical reason – many of us travel over Saturday nights.  We are also doing  this for a missional reason – we encourage people to connect with friends, neighbors, and co-workers – and there are more opportunities to do that on Saturdays than on Sundays.  We don’t want our worship gatherings to pull people out of those opportunities.
  • We are turning off on-line giving in July.   We’re looking into more cost effective options.  In the mean time, here are some ways to give – at our worship gatherings, or send a check payable to First Coast Missional Communities to 320 S. Buck Board Dr, 32259.
  • Celebration: Great job collecting supplies for those fighting the Mims Fire.  Check out the back of Kent’s car…
  •   mimsfiresmall
  • Are you on the email list?  Do you subscribe to our blog?  Those are two good ways to keep up with LoveFirst Coast!
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Collecting Supplies Related to the Okefenokee Fires

In the days of the early church, there was a famine in Jerusalem, and the new churches responded, taking up a collection for those who were suffering.  We have an opportunity to do something similar, to help with supplies needed for those who are fighting the fire, those who have been evacuated, and those providing relief.  If you can help out, please bring any of the items from the list below to our worship gathering on Saturday night (6:30 at Faith Community Church.) One of Kent Wehmeier’s colleagues is involved in relief efforts.  Kent has agreed to take our donations and make sure they get in the right hands to be delivered.

If you want more information, you can get in touch with Kent, who is copied on this email.  Here’s the list:

Items that are most needed include such things as:

  • Gator Aid
  • Bottled Water
  • Packaged snacks (chips, crackers, cookies)
  • Artificial tears
  • Baby Wipes
  • Lip Gloss
  • Men’s socks
  • Deoderant
  • Pop Tarts
  • Pancake Mix
  • Syrup
  • Donuts
  • Soda
  • Lightweight work gloves
  • saline nasal spray
  • OTC sinus spray
  • toilet paper
  • body powder
  • Germ X
  • AA batteries
  • inexpensive sunglasses
  • inexpensive flipflops
  • Men’s boxer shorts (all sizes)
  • Bug spray

No perishable items please.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver.  See you Saturday!

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Worship Gathering This Saturday

Just getting the word out.

This Saturday, Love First Coast will be gathering for worship.  And no, not at the beach.  That was from our Good Friday gathering.  This Saturday, we’ll be in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church (3450 CR210, 32259) at 6:30pm.  It’s our last Saturday night worship gathering (sniff, sniff).

Not to worry: we’re moving to Sunday nights beginning in June.  More on that later.

Hope to see you Saturday!

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Broken Hearts and Wounded Healers

Wounded people are all around.  It’s almost universal.  Living long enough means experiencing physical pain, injury, and disease.  But sometimes worse are the emotional and spiritual pains associated with deferred hope, failure, loss, abuse, affliction, desertion, betrayal, etc.  The things that happen can be pretty awful.  Broken hearts, broken spirits, shattered lives: they are all around us.   And sometimes, that’s who we are.

The shear amount of pain and suffering in the world has led some to abandon belief in God – which is not irrational, especially if you believe one of God’s jobs is to blot out suffering.  I have heard such notions preached, but you won’t find that in scripture.

I’ve been around wounded people this week.  What can a missional community or small Christian community offer?

First, the fellowship of fellow sufferers.  We can, as Romans 12 teaches, “mourn with those who mourn.”  I’ve noticed that as God brings people together, you can often find a thread of connection.  It was uncanny how many people in the first church I pastored had tragically lost children.  The families in my next congregation had experienced a remarkable amount of suicide and divorce.   I spend time these days with people who know what it’s like to be hurt by church factions.  Pretty much every large church offers groups for grief, addiction, divorce, and illness.  They bring people together around pain.  Missional communities are small and focused.   We don’t put up a sign in the lobby or run an announcement.  We gather a community around a particular mission.

Second, we can listen well.  Because we are intent on allowing the Holy Spirit to form and guide our community, we can take the time to really listen to one another.  When I received training for healing prayer, I was told that 75% of healing can happen when we listen carefully to one another.  It’s so rare that people get to really tell their stories to people that care.  It takes patience and energy to listen, but it does so much to bring restoration.   Just telling the story is powerful and helpful, but when we tell it in a redemptive, hope-giving environment, even more can happen.  I think it was in a psychology class that I learned that people take all the complex data in their lives and turn them into stories.  A caring, redemptive community can help to reshape the stories of pain.  Even our sinful actions can be redeemed.  James 5 teaches that if we confess our sins to one another, we can be healed.  And it’s true.  As a young adult, I was blessed to have a friend listen carefully and without condemnation as I shared some things I was deeply ashamed of.  And then I heard that brother say, “Jesse, God forgives you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”  It was such a powerful moment that I can still picture his face and room where we were sitting.  And that moment reshaped my story and my life.  (I’d like to say I haven’t needed forgiveness since then, but then I’d have to confess to the sin of lying.)

And then there’s prayer.  One of the things we work on regularly is healing prayer.  Our tool for that is called “Listen-Love-and-Pray.”   I have found that it is very helpful to spend time praising God for who he is in times of healing prayer.  There is something about praise that puts our suffering in perspective.  Our God is one who has taken suffering and death into himself – swallowed it up in victory, we rush to say.  But our God is one who knows what it is to suffer.  He is simply the victorious God over sin and death, he is also the wounded healer, the suffering God who knows our pain and the sovereign God who holds our future and redeems our past.  AND He is the Great Physician who heals our diseases, hurts, and wounds.

And when we call on him, he shows up.  And oh my, our God is a healer!

So, another term for the church is “the Body of Christ.”  When we gather as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, the things that Jesus did become possible as we allow the Holy Spirit to work.  One of the great privileges and joys of following Jesus is that he lets us be a part of this amazing work.

So today, if you are suffering and hurting, may the Lord bring healing to you.  May he lead you into a community of healing where He can work through others to bring restoration to your body, heart, and soul.

May you experience his healing touch.

And then, may the Lord bring healing through you!

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