Out of Season

There I sat, sweating through my shirt, wondering how I’d ever cut a 40 minute sermon to just 15. After this final song, I was to step on stage and teach. Not to a crowd, but to a camera. Due to COVID-19, the call to suspend public gatherings had just been made a day before. I had spent weeks preparing the sermon to be delivered live to a packed house. Our people were being asked to stream the service from their living rooms. I had received texts and calls from parishioners the night before, anxious about not getting to meet as a church, Reeling in loneliness, they too needed a crowd, as much as I needed them. Was this really the church? Well, it was, it was our option, in that moment. It was revealing; I think we all felt exposed, I know that I did. Had we really made any disciples that could sustain through a time such as this? was the message truly embedded? Was the love we preach that we have…real? How did we get here? …and, how did we get here so fast?! All of this ran through my mind, revealing one fundamental question… What do we do now?
 
Schools were closed, businesses shut. Sporting events were cancelled, concerts/local venues cancelled, and yes…church…was cancelled. We were all being forced to consider others primarily. More than we had ever been forced to before. Some deemed it “Coronapocolypse.” Anything to this magnitude had only been imagined in the minds of Hollywood producers and End Times fanatics, yet here we were, without a dress rehearsal. We weren’t witnessing it on a big screen, but playing it out in real time. It was life; a new norm. It was real…it was surreal.
 
2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season, and out of season…” Well, this was out of season, but were we truly prepared? What does the church in the West do, when it cannot “DO” any more? How does it function without programs…and production…and people…or at least a considerable crowd? It is forced to “BE.”
 
Being, at it’s very heart, lacks an entertaining factor. Today, many may mistake it for boredom, but isn’t it funny how the things that seem most simple in life are the things that tend to make us feel most alive? They tend to give us purpose and fuel us with meaning. I mean, consider it, the entire world was just forced into an unscheduled Sabbatical, leaving most people with the quest for something to do, but maybe…just maybe, church…while unscheduled by us, yet fully ordered by God, we were all asked to just…be, Asked to reconsider. (maybe for the first time) who we really are. What’s really important. And, Who is priority. We all went through it, but have we already forgotten? I hope not. Moments like this bring everything into focus. What we just experienced through this global pandemic was a monumental opportunity to strip everything back to the heart. 
 
It was a time of reckoning. A time of rediscovering. A time of revival. A time to simply “BE.”
 
Church, let’s pursue Him this week. Let’s become like Him in that pursuit. And. let’s simply be the people that He designed and intends us to be. Let’s trust Him and worship Him by simply being.

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Loving Like Him

Matthew 5:14-16
 
Are you the kindest in the room? Are you the most generous? Are you the most thoughtful? These are the questions that I’ve been asking myself as I move from environment to environment these days. And, to be honest, my kindness, my generosity, and my thoughtfulness get tested. Often, pushed to the brink and my flesh screams fiercely to show itself. 
 
I say to myself… I simply cannot do it! And the truth is, I’m right. I can’t do it. I cannot both fight for my own rights and simultaneously love other people like Jesus did…
 
So… I think of Jesus. I know that Jesus was the kindest, most generous, and most thoughtful in any room that He entered. I know that He is my example and standard, and I know this because I have personally experienced His grace. I also know that He has left me in the world as a representative to others desperate to be right, to be heard and to be seen… just like me. 
 
I think of how ridiculous my personal thoughts of acknowledgement truly are. If He hadn’t seen me, I’d still be lost. If He hadn’t heard me, He would have never come. If I were not valuable, He would have never died in my place to make me His own. Jesus didn’t stop the plan of the Father to consider His own rights. He loved the Father enough to abandon those for me. He loved me so much that He would undeservingly die just so that I could live. He worshipped the Father by loving a broken people, a broken person…like me. He simply sought to please the Father as He revealed Himself to the unlovely, to the unlovable, and to the unseen…as He revealed Himself to…me. What did Jesus do for you, my friend?
 
Was His love enough to enlighten a darkened world to His reality. by the way that you love others? To lift their needs above your agenda, just like Jesus did for us? Matthew 5 says this is why we are here. Matthew 6 says that “you cannot serve 2 master, ” you’ll serve either Him or you. The flesh will not quiet or cease to be tested, until you and I decided to quiet it and submit it to His way above our own. This is true worship of Jesus. He is our example and standard; He submitted to the Father. He did this for us. Will we do this for THEM?
 
 
 
Justin Lett
 

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