God’s Guidance

Things don’t always go the way that we think they will!  Isn’t life like that though?  We make plans and then life throws us a curve ball.  We don’t get into the college of our dreams.  That guy or girl you thought was “the one” laughs at you when you ask them out.  Out of nowhere, you get handed a pink slip and you are left wondering what to do next.  We wonder, where is God in all of this?

One thing you can be sure of is that there are few things you can be sure of.

So the question is: how do we have faith when we are facing a crisis, when we are looking up at those hills of life- those mountains we have to face?  What do we do when the weight is just too much and we just can’t deal with everything that is going on in our world?

ropes-on-the-tall-shipWell, the Bible has a lot to say about God’s guidance.  The Hebrew word for guidance (tachbulah) is same word for “rope”.  Back then, sailers used ropes to guide and navigate their ships.  They used ropes to raise or drop the sails and to tell the ship where to go and how fast to get there.

God’s guidance is the same way.  Here’s what I’ve been learning these last few months: God’s guidance is more something he DOES than something he GIVES. I’ve prayed and prayed- “God, show me what you want for my life!”.  That prayer has mostly been met with silence.  Silence.

BUT.

But what God does is shape and mold and guide me where to go…and how fast to get there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the life of Joseph from the Old Testament.  He was falsely accused and thrown in prison.  And that was AFTER being thrown in a pit and then sold into slavery.  For years and years, Joseph waited on God’s plan.  But in the midst of that seeming inactivity, God was moving and shaping and molding Joseph so that he was ready to lead when the time came.

These past several months have been really tough as we’ve waited on God.  But I can see that God has been working on my heart and preparing me for whatever is next.  And for that, I can be thankful.

If life has thrown you a curve or if you are facing uncertain times- you are not alone! Your story shares a lot with many people’s stories we find in the Bible.  And in all of those stories, God was moving and shaping and molding.  Even when it seemed like he was distant or silent.  We can trust that God is good and God is great and he has good things planned for his children.

Stay strong.  Stay the course.  Trust God.

EL

Reflections on the Psalms: 23rd Psalm

slide-02The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (KJV)

This is probably the most well known chapter in the Bible.  John 3:16 takes the prize for the most well known verse, but when you are talking about a whole chapter, almost everyone is familiar with Psalms 23.  Even in scary movies, they will quote it: yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…

I love that this chapter has troubles and goodness in the same passage.
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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

comparison1There I was, at the gym, pumping iron, and feeling good.  I was lifting more weight than I had ever lifted before in my life! And then it happened.  I looked over, saw some skinny dude racking up the weight on his bar, and lift more weight and pound out more reps than what I could do.  All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so good about myself anymore.

This morning, I was swimming laps and feeling great that I could do 150 yards without stopping when I get lapped by some grandma swimming next to me.  All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so good about myself anymore.

So far this year, I’ve lost 33 pounds and 4 inches off my waist.  It has taken a TON of hard work and dedication and sheer willpower.  I feel better about myself and I feel a lot healthier.  Then, I hear that a friend lost 75 pounds in 3 months this summer.  All of a sudden, I don’t feel so good about myself anymore.

Theodore Roosevelt said that Comparison is the thief of Joy.  I could not agree more.  It is so easy to get discouraged when you look at the blessings in others’ lives and when you compare your “progress” to what they have been able to accomplish.

I think that for those of us who are pastors, it may be even worse than some other professions.  We feel great that our church has grown by 15% this year…until we hear about a friend’s church that has grown by 150%.

The truth is, we are all on different journeys.  God has a plan and a story for each one of us.  Let’s choose to not compare where we are on the journey with others who have a different path to walk. God wants to transform us more into the likeness of Jesus.  Let’s fix our eyes on Christ, cheer each other on, and choose to not compare ourselves to others.

Its Been A Wild Ride

This past Sunday our church went multi-site and we had over 200 people connecting or reconnecting with God!

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Lindeen Family- June, 2011

Less than two years ago, we felt God call our family to move from Denver, CO to Madison, WI to help change the spiritual climate of this city by planting churches.  It has been a wild ride!

We moved here September 1, 2011 and joined our friends Pastor Dave and his wife Becky and a core group of about 20 adults to help launch Ezra Church.  After we moved we heard that Madison was known as the Church Planters Graveyard.  Fun stuff. Our first Sunday we had about 50 people show up to worship with us.  We thought- “all right, here we go!” Read More