I first saw Karen standing on a stage. Looking at her, you would have never known that she was a heroine addict. You would never have known that she had been a prostitute. You see, she was the children's pastor in that church and there was a radiant beauty in her life that was astonishing...
We've all experienced rejection. Maybe your heart experienced rejection when someone who promised to love you suddenly walks out and says they don’t! Not only do they do that, but they kind of poison the well on their way out and your heart just broke as you experienced rejection. You may...
Some of you are in good places in your family right now, and some of you are in bad places. Some of you are frustrated in your families and I just want to let you know that God cares passionately about your family and what you’re going through, and He’s here to fill your family with...
I first saw Karen standing on a stage. Looking at her, you would have never known that she was a heroine addict. You would never have known that she had been a prostitute. You see, she was the children's pastor in that church and there was a radiant beauty in her life that was astonishing. Karen had grown up in a family that was very real world, and in this family, she was not well loved. Karen was used by men that should have loved her, and broken in ways that some of you know all too well, and in her brokenness she looked for answers but saw no Jesus. None was present for her to see and she did what we all often do. We turn to our God substitutes; other men, other women and we look for answers where there really are none.
We look for filling where there is only emptiness. One abortion came and then another, and more brokenness and more regret. The pain that she thought could not increase, did. The only way that it would seem to go away was when she was drunk or high and even that was a law of diminishing returns. Heroine became as much of a friend as she knew and her story was, humanly speaking, hopeless. Statistically the people who recover from where she was is very small and the people who stay recovered is even smaller. But Jesus, Jesus came!
He came into her life through people who were changed by His love and she who had thought the church would be a place of rejection, stayed away from the church, but she saw Jesus in the lives of people changed and they loved her well and hope began to come alive in her life! It wasn't a magic wand and it wasn't struggle free. It wasn't like some Disney story that was without pain or fear. It was very real world, very real Jesus and very real hope, but there was very real change!
This woman who ten years earlier, I would not have recognized for the ravages of drugs in her life, stood before us that day beautiful in more than body. She was whole and literally just radiating the hope and love of Jesus! When she looked around, she didn't see a past so broken that there was no way anyone could humanly rise from that. What she did, was she looked up because faith helped her interpret life differently!
Other people look up and all they see is the emptiness of the night sky, but she looked up and she saw the same star of Bethlehem. She saw a light over the darkness of the world, and she looked up and she saw hope of Jesus, and that hope was more powerful than heroine, more powerful than her prostitution and more powerful than anything else in her life and it changed her; and being changed, she led change!
I want us, as the church of the living God, to be alive in hope for the rest of our lives! I'm not going to paint for you some easy story of what your life is going to be like. I don't really want to know what's ahead of me, because I might not like it. But here's the deal, the only way to not be alive in hope is to look back and be tied to a past that is insurmountable! To look around and to see nothing but more brokenness. To look ahead and to see through the magical future that you've created for yourself and to feel it's emptiness!
But when you look ahead and you see a Jesus who is there waiting and you look back and you see a Jesus whose blood has forgiven you from every chain that binds you and every sin that you don't want anybody to know about. When you look around and you don't just see circumstances that are impossible, but you see a Jesus to whom nothing was impossible. You look around and you see hope!
When you are alive in hope, you are changed by it! How do you know if you are alive in hope? How do you know if you've been changed? Well, here's the deal, with all the struggles and all the imperfections, with all of the process and all of the mess, when you are alive in hope, you are on mission, bringing change to other people without hope! Look up, see hope and be changed! -Dr. Drew Shofner
We've all experienced rejection. Maybe your heart experienced rejection when someone who promised to love you suddenly walks out and says they don’t! Not only do they do that, but they kind of poison the well on their way out and your heart just broke as you experienced rejection. You may have been the star athlete that always got chosen first, but even the star athletes experience at some point, that injury that leaves them on the sideline.
If you were that child who was last to get chosen for the team, you’ve experience what rejection is like. That’s the kingdom of this world. But the Kingdom of God is completely different; in the Kingdom of God you are chosen! In the Kingdom of God you are not an accident no matter what any human being has ever said to you or done to you. As the creation of God and as the image bearer of God, there is a call on your life!
On those days where God seems so distant and so far away, I remember that what I’m feeling is emotion over intellect. What I’m feeling is life in the kingdom of this world. Next time you look at your life and you’re feeling defeated and you’re discouraged and the people in the kingdom of this world have rejected you and used you, and wounded you, just realize that this is not the kingdom you’re supposed to be building in. You’re supposed to be building in the Kingdom of God!
The Kingdom of Heaven has come through Jesus Christ. He has invaded this world and conquered it with His blood and Resurrection; so that right now, the Kingdom of Heaven is a choice that you and I can enter into. You can live a life that is a blessing; you can live a life that is not about you. You can live a life that is above addiction. You can live a life that ends brokenness and builds relationships. You can live an amazing life that can be a joy forever if you’ll have the courage to commit! –Dr. Drew Shofner
Some of you are in good places in your family right now, and some of you are in bad places. Some of you are frustrated in your families and I just want to let you know that God cares passionately about your family and what you’re going through, and He’s here to fill your family with a new grace. In Genesis we see how the aftershock of sin and how the struggle begins to work its way through the family structure. Even in the origin of family, sin begins to cause pain. Now, God isn’t saying this is the way it should be, He is saying this is the way it is when I am not the source. We were made for God’s family, you were made for unconditional love, you were made for grace and for acceptance; you were made to be delighted in.
Family should be a place of nurturing, a place where we get our very core identity; where our hearts and hopes are shaped. Family is a place where our vision and understanding of ourselves is formed so very deeply. But so often in this world, all of that is mis-shaped, and we live under what can feel more like a curse than under the grace of God’s love. In families that are curse-full families, long records are kept and stuff is thrown in each other’s faces and there are pointed barbs and humor is used as a tool to wound; passive aggressive so that you don’t have to own your stuff. Here’s the deal, own your stuff! We shame, we embarrass, we guilt, it’s all a form of the curse brought about from separation with God.
God didn’t place us in earthly families that it might be about us. The message of the curse is to earn love but the message of the cross is to receive love. Jesus knew who He was, He was God’s beloved and He didn’t earn His love, He just lived the love of the Father because God is so loving! Even on earth with all the imperfections, we can become people full of grace, fully dependant on God alone as our source. We can be families made for grace that accomplish God’s purpose on earth. Until we are living full of God and completely dependent on Him as our sole source of life, we will always be living under a curse and never experiencing family as God intended.
I just want to pray for our families…Father God, we’ve got one shot at this journey on planet earth. This planet is spinning fast through space, and time is passing and life is passing. The seasons are turning and in Jesus’ name, we are just asking for help in terms of getting family right. Lord, open our hearts to the depth of your Word, to the eternal truths that are revealed about you and how you made us to be a family. God help us to be willing to change. Father, build our family, bless our family and help us to accept being your family. We pray this in Jesus’ name, as all God’s peoples say, Amen! -Dr. Drew Shofner