November 30, 2010

My Thanksgiving Social Experiment

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Darryll Dunwitty. I know, I know, there's a slight resemblance. Weird, huh? (Total coincidence) This Thanksgiving we were at my in-laws house. Their neighborhood has a yearly Thanksgiving Golf Cart Parade. While my family decorated the cart (and themselves) as Candyland - and it was quite good, I might add - I decided to send Darryll in my place. All I know to tell you is that sending a long-haired redneck headbanger to a family event at a beach resort was a social experiment that I hadn't prepared myself for. I've watched the videos of people who put on those fat suits or of a white guy made up to look like a black guy so they can attempt to get a glimpse of what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. While I don't know that my experience would compare, it was quite a shock. 

I remember in junior high that one way or another you were somehow stuck in a group - you were categorized, stereotyped. Do you remember? In 1985 some of the more popular and populated circles were as follows: freaks, ropers, preps, jocks, nerds - and yes, these were actually real-life groups of people. There was much more truth to The Breakfast Club than we all wanted to let on. Well, it's 25 years later and for the first time in a very long time...I felt like I was placed in a group - I was stereotyped. As I walked around with my camera, snapping pictures of families and their lovely, creatively adorned golf carts, I saw more than a couple of people almost break their necks trying to get a 2nd look - like I could hear their brain inquiring out loud, "Is that guy for real?" I'm pretty sure one lady pulled her daughter back as I walked past. (Maybe it was my Bon Jovi T-shirt?) As I stopped to talk to one guy (who in his defense was pretty friendly) he couldn't contain himself any longer. He finally broke down and asked me, "Is that your real hair?" For some reason I had to tell him the truth. You should have seen the relief on his face. And then there was the man that my mother-in-law introduced me to, telling him that I was her "preacher son-in-law". He turned 5 shades of white (which I didn't even know was possible). After 15 minutes, I was ready to go home. I was there for 2 hours.

[For those who know me, you can just picture Darryll driving the Candyland Mobile through the parade, giving everyone a thumbs up, honking the horn, and throwing candy. Good times!]

I'm not sharing this with you to turn around and judge any of my fellow paraders. Or to say that the same thing couldn't (and wouldn't) have happened if Darryll had walked into any number of churches on a Sunday morning. But this was MY experience and it was extremely real. I sent Darryll out there to entertain my kids and (possibly) to slightly annoy my mother-in-law. While I'm quite certain I accomplished both of those missions, I learned a lot more. I believe I'm a book - a non-fiction adventure novel, mind you. But I felt like I had been reduced to a cover. Judged. And all I could think about - what kept running through my mind through this entire experience - was, "Lord, if I ever make anyone else feel this way, please kick my butt!"

If you haven't met Darryll I'd be glad to introduce you. But don't be surprised if he walks into your church sometime soon. Will you be ready?

November 29, 2010


Waiting stinks. No one's arguing with that one. If anything, we could debate who hates it more - you or me. No one would win the argument. We'd get sick of waiting to come to a conclusion. As Christ-followers though, there is a clear biblical pattern between the TRUST that we have in God and our willingness to WAIT. To go a little further, I'll put it this way: Without TRUST, there is no HOPE. And TRUE TRUST always involves WAITING! With that I'll ask you the question we asked yesterday: What are you waiting on the Lord to do?

Lamentations was written by Jeremiah as he looked back and reflected with a broken heart over the sin of God's people. But one thing that begins to rise and surface through the brokenness is hope. Jeremiah says, "The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin new each day. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!' The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord." (Lam.3:22-26) Jeremiah doesn't stand alone making this declaration. Dig further:

Isaiah 9:1-7, 40:27-31, 49:8-23
Romans 8:17-25
Psalm 25
Hebrews 11:39-12:13

To quote an old hymn (that NEVER gets old), "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness." Isaiah proclaims, "My only hope is in him!" (8:17) And while many of these prophets and apostles were reaching and searching for the plans and directions the Lord had for their lives, the thing they wanted more than life itself was him. They wanted GOD. Paul wanted what only Christ could give him, but most importantly he wanted CHRIST! (He's pretty blunt about this in Philippians 3:8) So what does all this have to do with waiting? (You're probably sick of waiting on me to get to the point!) Don't miss the connect.

Without trust, there is no hope. And true trust always involves waiting. Therefore - put the pieces together - ANYTHING worth hoping for will always require waiting. And anything worth hoping for is worth the wait. God's will for your life or your situation - what He desires to do in and through you or your circumstances - are worth the wait. And if you truly wait as Paul describes in Romans and David proclaims in Psalms, the thing you will gain is Christ. In the waiting, we find him. And the part of Christ you discover as you "wait for him and seek him" cannot be found anywhere else. Not in lifting your hands and your voice, not in the counsel of others, and not in the busyness of serving. ONLY in the waiting.

Right now, I'm waiting on the Lord to draw my son's heart to Him. I'm praying diligently and constantly that he will come to know Christ and long to give Him his whole heart and life. I'm waiting. And I'm praying. And I'm discovering more of my Savior. 

What are you waiting for the Lord to do?

To listen to the sermon on HOPE from our new series, "The Search For Christmas", go HERE.

November 18, 2010

This Message Is NOT For You!?

This week I had someone approach me who was concerned about the nature of the messages I've preached lately. We've been in a series called Leadership, examining the calling and character of biblical elders. And while I'm aware of the fact that this series has not been as overtly practical as many that we do where we biblically tackle issues like divorce, bitterness, relationships, sex, or talking donkeys, I'm still trying to process what I think and how I feel about this "concern" that was shared with me. The issue brought to my attention was that, particularly on the Sunday when I preached on "Pastoral Leadership", this wasn't a topic that everyone could relate to - that there was no "And this is how this relates to your life" moment. If you know me, you know that I'm obsessed with practical application! I am devoted and determined to help people discover what scripture means and how to apply it in their lives. That said, there are moments and circumstances and issues that occasionally need to be addressed that just might not be wrapped up with a bow for every individual. And the bigger issue and question that all this has raised for me is this: Who is the sermon for, anyways?

Some folks are of the persuasion that every time the Word of God is preached that an evangelistic presentation should be made, which therefore would imply that (at least to some degree) the sermon is for the "lost, unbelieving" person. On another note, others will hold that as the Body of Christ - the church - gathers for teaching and fellowship and worship, that this is an occasion for the Body to be built up and equipped - for "iron to sharpen iron" - and for the Gospel to continue to transform those who have already been saved and redeemed. Of course, if you're rational and open-minded, you can conclude that there isn't a mandate regarding WHO the message is aimed at or HOW the Gospel is preached. But going back to the argument of "If there is such a person as a 'Seeker', then what is it that we think they're seeking?", I would contend that even though a person who hasn't placed their faith in Christ might not walk out "feeling" overwhelmed with conviction over a message on "Pastoral Leadership", does that person not need to know the character of those God has called to lead His church? Are there messages, due to their lack of evangelistic appeal, that shouldn't be preached? Does there need to be a disclaimer before every message: Don't invite your lost friends today. The sermon is not for them. Don't Know Jesus? This message is NOT for you! Isn't this a bit ridiculous?

The other related issue that was raised is, "I like to invite my lost friends on Sunday. What about them?" Again, while I understand that we need to take every opportunity to speak and preach the Good News of salvation in Christ to the lost, are there not days and messages that are going to be explicitly aimed at "equipping the saints"? Is there an "evangelism quota" that I missed? To lay it out there, what I believe is that there is a rhythm and balance and discernment that comes only from the Holy Spirit that anyone charged with the honor and privilege to preach the Word of God is responsible for seeking on a regular basis. It comes from communion - from a desperate dependence on God to not only lead us to know what to say, but how to say it, trusting that HE is going to bring it to life in the hearts of those who need to hear it. And that pastor or evangelist can't be scrutinized every time the sermon doesn't "speak to me". (I'm also fairly certain the prophets were scrutinized a bit, too.)

[I do find it perplexing that most people either want to walk out on a Sunday feeling like the Pastor - or, uh, the Holy Spirit, I mean - blew rays of sunshine straight through their key appendages and orifices...OR...feeling as though they have had their toes stomped and been punched in the face and gut. Some folks want to be coddled and affirmed. Others want to be wrecked. How do you accommodate all the pious preferences?] *You don't.

Let me be clear: the first and last thing I said to this person who came to me with these concerns was "Thank you"! As a pastor, it refreshes and renews my heart when someone has the courage and conviction to call me, come in and look me in the face, and say, "This is what's on my heart". I'm not writing all of this with a dogged stance of what I believe the right answer to be. For certain, I have an opinion. But I would love to hear your's as well. Do you go on Sundays with an agenda? Or are you open to what the Lord has to say...even if it's not aimed straight at you? 

November 15, 2010

Unequally Yoked

Yesterday my neighbor dropped by. We watched some football, shot the breeze, ordered some pizza, and just hung out. He's very aware that I'm a Christian (and even knows I'm a Pastor) and we've talked openly about our faith before. In fact, I would even say that we're pretty like-minded in what we believe. But there is one distinct area of life where I can't relate with him - and he knows this. And yesterday he began to talk openly with me about his struggle. With no prompting or prodding on my part, he began to share with me that his marriage is in serious trouble and that he has no idea what to do about it. There hasn't been any infidelity or unfaithfulness or adultery - no secret addictions or deceit going on. The very real and contentious war that is beginning to be waged has everything to do with two people who wanted to believe that "love" could (and would) overshadow and overpower their faith. And it's just not working out that way.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Paul says, "Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. (Do not be unequally yoked... ESV) How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?" Essentially Paul is sternly warning anyone who confesses to be a follower of Jesus Christ: "Do NOT partner with, date, fall in love with or marry someone who is not also a follower of Christ. Period!" My friend sat on my couch yesterday [football game rumbling on in the forefront] confessing to me, "Brian, I look back now and believe I see very clearly where I disobeyed and ignored God. I know He was warning me. But I kept telling Him, 'I can make this work!' I didn't understand. I didn't listen. And now...I'm suffering the consequences."

My friend's wife is a Seventh Day Adventist. Years ago the Christian Research Institute gave the Adventist a "clean bill of health" in regards to practice and theology. Not long after this the leader of CRI came out and said, "This is one of the worst mistakes we've ever made." On the surface, Seventh Day Adventists look very similar to Christians. They confess to worship and follow Christ and to believe the Bible. Where the fracture comes in and the distinct division takes place is that Sabbatarians strictly follow a Saturday-Sabbath law and believe that anyone who doesn't is lost. You won't hear this in a one-on-one conversation with an Adventist. But if you attend one of their services or listen to one of their "prophets or prophetesses", many times this belief will begin to rise to the surface. So when your spouse believes and practices that the Old Covenant Sabbath is still in effect and that as a family we will do nothing to dishonor that, and you begin to want your son to play soccer or basketball - even Upward Basketball, for that matter - it isn't going to work. Saturday is for church. Someone or something has to give. And my friend told me last night, "When something's got to give, it's always me."

I'm not writing this to give you a theological review or dissertation into the Seventh Day Adventist movement or ideology. But I hope you'll take some time to actually explore what they really believe and practice. (Learn more HERE.) Do not take ANYONE at face value. Especially any religious or spiritual organizations that adds to or takes anything away from the Word of God. Scripture is complete. It does not need the help of a new "prophet". Again, more on that another day. I feel burdened and compelled to warn you and encourage you that, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ and He has a partner planned for you to spend your life with, do NOT settle on any level. If someone's faith is not in the same things yours is, that is probably not going to change. Teenager or young adult: If you think you're going to date them, convert them, and change them, the kindest way I know how to say this is, you are playing the fool. You are being duped by your own ignorance and by the desires of your flesh, not the Spirit of God. It's time to wake up, get your mind right, and prayerfully weigh the decisions you are allowing your heart to make. There's a reason why Paul talks about the "renewing of your mind" and the Spirit of God transforming "the way you think". Your heart is misleading. Don't believe me? That's because right now you're wrapped up in the middle of this very battle, your flesh and emotions are waging war against the Spirit of God in your life, and pride won't let go. And your heart won't let go. 

I've been having this conversation for years. As a youth pastor, I don't know how many times I watched students allow themselves to get drawn into a relationship with someone thinking, "I'll bring them to church and show them how much I love Jesus and they'll eventually love Him too." I think in 20 years I've actually seen that happen twice. The other 187 times I saw broken hearts, wounded relationships and friendships, virginity and purity lost, and one more child of God become a statistic. Do NOT be unequally yoked! It won't work! "How can light live with darkness?" That's the main question here. 

I am praying for my friend. My heart is burdened and hurting for him. And I have no advice - nothing I can tell him to ease this. He chose this burden and this road. But I'm still praying, asking the Lord to do a miracle in the life of his spouse and show her that she is being deceived and manipulated. 

How can light live with darkness?
Dig Deeper:
Romans 14
Galatians 4:8-12
Matthew 12:1-14

November 11, 2010

Do You See What I'm Saying?

Ah, fresh contacts. I love how it feels to break open a brand new pair of tiny corrective lenses, set them free from their small packaged prison, and place them on my blinded eyeballs. There's no smudges, wear, germs...nothing. They're clean and clear. Good stuff. Weird thing is though, yesterday morning when I put my old pair in - which I had been wearing anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months - I didn't think much of it. I really didn't notice that they were dirty or smudged or torn or old. They're just contacts. Right? That's what I used to think. Until I ripped open a brand new pair this morning...and the world was a 64-pack of Crayola goodness! 

*Cue sunshine, rainbow, sparkledust, and harp music.

While I realize I've opened a door for this to be a serious lecture on eye health and sanitary hygiene, that's not really where I'm headed with this. [NOTE: You should not wear a pair of contacts any longer than the recommended length of time on the package. Obey the optometry rule-makers and all their commandments.] As I put my new lenses in this morning it occurred to me: almost every time you need to see things through fresh eyes, you don't realize it. The only reason I remembered to put new contacts in was because they finally came in the mail. My eyes weren't really bothering me. My eyesight wasn't being impaired (at least not that I'm aware of). I was totally fine and adjusted and comfortable seeing through the dirty, smudged, 3 month old lens. Are you?

A friend of mine recently had to take care of someone else's work. In a very short amount of time my friend discovered not only all sorts of errors and mistakes, but several outdated inefficiencies that needed to be corrected in the other person's method and productivity. Why were these mistakes even there? Is it because the person whose job they were covering is a slacker or a failure? Is it laziness? Or is it possible that the other person has stared at the same numbers on the same charts on the same screen for so long...that they can't really even "SEE" it anymore? When you look at something long enough - even a flaw or counterfeit - it can all start to appear like the real deal. You have to consciously hold it up to the light and put it next to the genuine article. You have to see it with fresh eyes. And if you and I are just being honest, there are times in life for all of us when and where that is very close to impossible. Rub your eyes all you want. It won't help. 

So what on earth do we do about it? I recommend 1 of 2 things:

Option 1: Walk Away. Yes, seriously. Get up and walk away. Sometimes this might mean you literally get up from your desk or your task, take a walk around the block or to the gym, come back a little later and begin again. But other times this can mean packing your bags, abandoning ship, running for the hills (or the beach), and letting your mind and heart and soul find new life and breathe in some fresh air. This can be like a mental EKG for your innovation and creativity. This is why when I sit down to play the drums now (which happens about once every 6 months or so for fun) I have this whole new perspective and ear for what I'm pounding out. When I'm done, I walk away. I don't really think about the drums anymore. No one depends on me to play them. Sometimes, as ridiculous as this sounds, you have to forget to truly remember.

Option 2: Borrow Someone's Eyes. I know, you're the greatest at what you do. There's no one else around there who can do it quite like you. (That sounds like that James Bond song.) But here's the thing: someone around you has fresh eyes and perspective to see something you don't. God has placed someone in or near your circle who's actually talented and gifted and experienced enough to SEE things clearly and objectively. You don't have objectivity. You've been staring at it for too long. Maybe it's a project you've been working on or that chapter of that book you're writing or that sermon you've been preparing or that huge event you've been planning. The list is endless. The question is: How long will you stare off into oblivion before you realize that your vision is impaired. No, not your eyesight. Your VISION. Do you see what I'm saying?

Stop squinting. Quit rubbing your eyes. Call out for help or walk away. Maybe then, you'll start seeing things a little more clearly. 

November 9, 2010

Don't Believe the Hype!

Several years ago I was suckered in by my curiosity over the copper and titanium magnet bracelets. There were enough people who told me that they could actually feel a difference with flexibility and arthritic pain that I had to give it a shot. All can I do is speak for myself, but after wearing one for a month....nothing. So why on earth I would allow myself to be suckered in again is beyond my capacity to understand or explain. Nevertheless, I am once again a sucker. 3 weeks ago I purchased my Power Balance wristband - endorsed and worn by an abundant list of well-known athletes who swear it has made a difference in their game, performance, and everything surrounding it. Just watch the videos on their website. Amazing! (Try and cut my sarcasm with a knife, if you dare.) Yet again, after my 21-day trial run, I can only speak for myself. But as far as I can tell, whether it's my flexibility, strength, balance, or whatever....nothing! There's more.

A recent in-depth study at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse (which I have actually visited, thank you very much) showed absolutely zero change in the students they tested. Outside the Lines on ESPN reported on the study: Watch the episode HERE.
To fill you in, they took a Power Balance wristband and another run-of-the-mill silicone wristband (like that WWJD bracelet you used to wear when it's was cool and trendy) and covered them with a sweatband so the subjects wouldn't know which one they were wearing. Every person was tested twice - once with the Power Balance and once with the plain wristband. The difference of the tests: NONE. So, what's with all the hype and hoopla?

I would say that you have your answer right there: HYPE! Get enough athletes to believe something - endorse it (for big bucks, of course) - and tell the world that "it works", and you've got the right ingredients to make a whole bunch of suckers! This is an industry that went from struggling to stay afloat for their first 2 years to now pulling in over $17 million this past year. $17 MILLION! My little black silicone wristband cost me $29 (plus tax). The fancy necklaces (you may have seen many of the Texas Rangers wearing them during the World Series) actually cost anywhere from $49-$89. This company is cleaning house. And interestingly enough, as a person who very rarely gets sick at all, during my 3 week trial period I not only got the stomach virus, but also have had the worst sinus infection I've had in years. Now I know, they don't claim that this thing will make you healthy or that it's an immuno-booster or antioxidant provider. But the timing sure is squirrelly. Imagine the irony for me last Monday as I sat in the doctor's office for the first time in a year, feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, wearing my Power Balance wristband. Let's just say I probably wouldn't have been selling anyone on rushing out and grabbing one for themselves.

So if you're entertaining the idea of joining the Power Balance craze, my recommendation is to take that $29 and give it to your favorite charity or to purchase a very large supply of dark chocolate-covered almonds. That said, if you're looking for a really cool looking wristband that is sure to catch the eye of someone around you, and if you need a new psycho-brainwashing tactic to convince yourself that you can jump 3 inches higher than you actually can, this just might be the subtle fashion piece you're looking for.

Anyone else out there tried Power Balance?

November 4, 2010

Rules & Rewards

Let me begin by admitting this: I am still a recovering legalist. When you spend a great many years allowing much of your theology and worldview to be shaped - or even manipulated - by experiential and reactionary thinking, the road to recovery can be an uphill battle. I still feel like I'm in "Legalist Rehab" every time I listen to "A New Law" by Derek Webb. Still, I am grateful that in His good timing, God used His Word to begin knocking that wall down in my heart. He is still working. Still swinging. Still knocking it down. And hurts. While seeing this wall being torn down in your own life can be a painful but welcomed thing, seeing this blinding barrier going up in someone else's life may be even more paralyzing. Especially when it's your own child.

My son is a 6 year old ball of fire! In many regards I feel like I'm watching a movie of what my parents must have seen as they were giving it their best to raise me. At the same time, I know that this little man is totally his own person. We've had a few "episodes" in school already (which could be a bit disconcerting when you realize that he's only in Kindergarten), but for the most part he has actually done well. Most days when he leaves the classroom, it's still standing. But one thing we've seen that we believe actually helps him maintain his focus and contain his energy is STRUCTURE. Or let's put it another way: he lives by THE LAW! What works (at least at this point) for Nathan about school is that on the wall and in his folder are the rules. He knows, "If you do this and this and that and this and'll get a GREEN CHECK! And GREEN CHECK'S are what we live for here in Kindergarten." Apparently he would just rather know in black and white - plain and simple - what he can and can't do. He would rather EARN privileges than have them taken away. He wants something to WORK for rather than the freedom to painfully learn and experience consequences. He's 6 years old and his worldview is being shaped like Play-Doh. 

This predicament was even more exposed at home this week. Let's just say Morgan & I have been praying diligently for the Lord to show us how to teach Nathan good judgment, sound thinking, and simple obedience. What we've been experiencing would be better described as ZERO judgment and deliberate defiance. And just to be clear, those are pretty much the opposite of the desired outcome. The other night, as Morgan is asking Nathan, "Why did you make this decision? Would you make this decision at school?", he follows up the inquiry by explaining to us that at school there's a CHART. And on that chart are all the rules. And as you earn different checks on the chart you gain certain privileges. And [to use his words], "Maybe what I need here at home is a chart." 

[Please do NOT miss the DEPTH of what your child is learning, thinking, and painting into the lens with which they look at the world, their life, and how it all fits together. It runs DEEP!]

As Morgan explained to Nathan, "You understand that this means things like TV and dessert and playing on the Wii will now have to be earned?", it was as if he found great satisfaction and comfort in the fact that the rules and rewards were now going to be clear. Forget the whole idea of living by grace and principle and discipline and consequence, just give me a new law! My son doesn't want to think, he just wants to be able to look at the board and say, "Nope. Can't do that." He would rather EARN his allowance than have it taken away. And please understand, for many years in my life, on a much bigger scale, not with my parents, but with the God of the Universe...this is how I lived.

Rules & Rewards are easy.
Grace, mercy, discipline, and consequence are painful. Very painful!
But they are the road to wisdom and discernment and good judgment.
And Jesus paid the way for us to be able to walk that road. 
What road are you walking? 

We're still praying about how to walk with Nathan through this and teach him that what he's asking for is not really what he wants. At the same time, you can't make someone believe that. They simply must come to understand it and accept it. You can't drag someone down the narrow road. You can only point and lead the way.

November 1, 2010

God Makes Me Sick...

Last Thursday I got a call from the school: "Mr. Mayfield? Yes, this is the nurse at Columbia Elementary School. I have Nathan in here and he's just thrown up." LOVE IT! Actually, I was mortified. I quickly remembered the isolation you feel when you're the one who's spewed your lunch on the classroom floor. And the horror of having vomit covering your shirt and jeans. And the janitor sprinkling that disgusting powder on your vomit, as if to mark it with a sign that says, "Look at Nathan's vomit everyone!" It's quite awful - maybe the feelings more than the vomit. (Or maybe not.) I went up to the school, loved on my son, collected his stuff and brought him home. And it didn't take long to figure out that this wasn't just lunch disagreeing with him. It was the virus.

Morgan took care of Nathan all day Friday. The poor kid must have thrown up 15 times. So this doesn't make it the slightest bit surprising that on Friday night at 9:00, my wife was running for the toilet. And let me say on behalf of the love of my life - this was NOT pretty! 

From the moment I brought Nathan home on Thursday I was popping the immuno-boosters. I washed my hands so many times that I thought the skin was going to flake off. I was bound, determined, and convinced, "I am NOT going to catch this virus!" And even though I was a mountain of confidence, I decided on Saturday afternoon that I probably should call Josh and give him a heads up that he "might want to be ready to preach in the morning". I was sure that I wouldn't have to call him. I felt fine. Great, even! I was going to make it unscathed. I even slept on the sofa to avoid the germs emanating off of my wife's virus-ridden body. I curled up in my blanket and dozed off...believing that I had conquered the beast. And then....I woke up.

My alarm went off at 6:00. The instant I stood up a rush came over my body. This was what I felt last February when the food poisoning hit and my poor friend Jeff thought I was going to die right there in his car. (Another story worth telling sometime.) Sweat started evacuating out of every pore of my body. I took off running and dove onto the bed right before I was about to hit the floor. And there I lied. As if this little troll of a virus was standing on my back, one hand on his hip and the other holding his spear, saying, "I have hunted you down little man. And now I will consume you!" All that praying and wishful thinking and sanitizing...and here I am like a limp trout that's been pulled out of the water. I was mad. VERY mad! Not that I was sick, or that I'd been defeated by some invisible germ. But because I had a message prepared. I was so ready to deliver this sermon that the Lord had placed on my heart. I didn't want to miss being with my church family. This was NOT in my plan!

But God had another plan. God had something to say and didn't want me to say it. He had put a message in Josh's heart that someone needed to hear. And here's the proof. On the back of a card we received after yesterday's 10:45 service, it reads: "I think it's great that God brought me here today to hear about brokenness and that I can get through anything He walks me through!" Quite frankly, while I'm still excited to preach the message I had prepared, that wasn't it. This girl needed to hear something very specific from God and He knew how it needed to be communicated. And quite possibly He had to knock me on my butt to get me out of the way so that someone else could say it. He'll do that, you know. And He also needed to remind me (as He does every once-in-awhile) that I am not in control. I am NOT the King. The world does not revolve around me. And that sometimes the prayers of the just-recently-humbled can be more powerful than a sermon. And this I know: When God makes me sick, it is ALWAYS because He has something to say.

It's quite interesting to me that this "virus" only affected me for about 6 hours or so. Just long enough to keep me on my back, at home in my bed, with nothing else to do but PRAY that God would be moving in the hearts and lives of the people at my church. Praying that He would anoint Josh's words and thoughts, and use them to speak right into the hearts of those who needed to hear from Him. 

If the Lord needs to move you out of the way, are you willing to be moved?
Are you allowing yourself to be irreplaceable? What happens if you're removed from the equation? Will it all fall apart?