‘Serendipity, the Splendor of God’s Reset’

Churches have their own language. Words like, disciples, apostles, Holy and hymns are commonly heard in church and among church people. Dr. Ed Young, a pastor in Houston Texas, added a new word to the church vernacular during a recent televised sermon. He introduced the word serendipity, and while commonly used to describe accidental good fortune, Dr. Young chose to use it as an intended additional blessing from God.

For example, Dr. Young talked about his mother telling him about a special Wednesday night service for young men called Royal Ambassadors. Like most young teenagers, Sundays were for church, and he was not interested in any midweek classes. At least not until he heard there would be food, and homemade hot rolls. At the Wednesday night meal, he sat there mouth- watering in sweet anticipation, anxiously waiting for the hot homemade rolls. As he dipped his hand into the warm basket he glanced up and straight into the eyes of the young hostess. Young said, “It was serendipity. I went for hot rolls, but God showed me my future wife and the love of my life.”

Last Saturday evening, while I was resting, a dear friend sent a message to me which included a sermon from Gary Wilkerson. Gary is the son of David Wilkerson, well known pastor and author of “The Cross and the Switchblade”. The sermon began with a statement and a question; “As we begin 2017, I believe it would bring great pleasure to the heart of God if we would fall to our knees and ask him what he would desire to see done differently in our church and our own lives.”

Wilkerson posed some serious questions about the church and the elements many use to attract and retain people in the churches. While doing his best not to sound like an old school crank, he talked a lot about pastors spending enormous amounts of time coordinating music, fellowship, and their sermon, to make sure the visitors and the congregation left upbeat and feeling good about their church experience.

Wilkerson adds “In the midst of all these upbeat elements, is the cross of Christ still our focus? Is it possible Jesus’ death and resurrection are getting lost amid the positive vibe we all work to create? And are we worshipping God in spirit and in truth? And is that transforming us into his living image?”

Wilkerson cautioned churches from becoming too scripted, too business-like, with pastors serving as CEO’s, and while many church attendees say, “Amen,” don’t be surprised if growth numbers decrease and attendance dwindles. God’s presence is meant to bring light to our eyes. Wilkerson says, “It shows us the difference between the wheat and the chaff in our lives. That’s why God’s Word is called a refining fire.” These refining moments make us uncomfortable and can send some folks seeking pleasure and comfort at other locations. As the Bible states, our hearts are inclined to cry, “Speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions.” Isaiah 30:10.

While Wilkerson’s message is a sword, cutting and painful to hear, I do not believe he is telling us to abandon programs. I believe he is listening to God and cautioning churches, large mega churches and small congregations, to not lose sight of their purpose and reason. Programs are terrific for attracting young families and helping them grow in understanding, but hear me clearly, “Jesus is all you need.”

The sermon reminded me of the story of a young lady, new to the faith, and in a desperate situation. For simplicity we will call her “Terrie.” It was a Sunday morning, and Terrie’s husband had left her, along with the four children, a few weeks before. He said, “Nothing personal, I just don’t want to be married to you anymore.” On the way out the door he added, “No one’s going to want you with all the baggage. (Referring to the kids)” While obviously no saint; he left and took all the income with him, and now the wolves were at the door. Terrie was distraught.

Trying not to frighten the children with a meltdown, Terrie left her 10 year old daughter to watch the children as she drove the town crying and looking for a place of peace. Somehow she ended up on the east side of the city, (God’s provision) where she sat and cried. With eyes swollen, nose congested and snotty, she poured out her life before God. Confused, heartbroken and desperate, she gave it all to God.

After what seemed like hours, her tears stopped and something spurred her to step out of the car. She heard distant singing, but didn’t know where it was coming from? With each step the music grew slightly louder. The music was a magnet drawing her to open the door of the old building. The sound of the music grew louder as she took each step. She began to hear prayers, with the songs, and they sounded sweetly different, as if sung and prayed straight to the heart of God. They cut through the wounding, and penetrated her heart, comforting and consoling the new child of God.

As she finally reached the people, the small group of worshipers turned toward the tear streaked face of the young lady. They recognized the brokenness, and desperation, and stopped the service to center their focus. Without hesitation the forty of so in attendance began to pour out their prayers to the Father on her behalf. The group circled Terrie and she described the experience as “real” and “in His Holy Presence.” Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.

Terrie’s life was reset that morning. The small church rallied around her and demonstrated God’s love on a daily basis. You ask, “How do I know this story about Terrie is true?” Well, Terrie was transformed, her life was reset, and she became Theresa; No longer alone and trying to merely survive, but fully sold out to the treasures of her Lord. I entered the small church knowing about going to Heaven, but left experiencing the “earthly” Kingdom of God.

Dr. Young is right; there is nothing accidental about God’s plan for your life. Thank God we have small and large churches demonstrating the love of Jesus. Yes, serendipity is a great new word to describe unexpected secondary surprise blessings, and the splendor of God’s reset.

Shaped by Faith Column appeared in the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer January 14, 2017

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Shaped by Faith

Published by Theresa Rowe · 2 hrs ·

Hope you enjoy my Shaped by Faith column in today’s Messenger Inquirer,
​​​ “Serendipity, the Splendor of God’s reset”
​​​
Churches have their own language. Words like, disciples, apostles, Holy and hymns are commonly heard in church and among church people. Dr. Ed Young, a pastor in Houston Texas, added a new word to the church vernacular during a recent televised sermon. He introduced the word serendipity, and while commonly used to describe accidental good fortune, Dr. Young chose to use it as an intended additional blessing from God.

For example, Dr. Young talked about his mother telling him about a special Wednesday night service for young men called Royal Ambassadors. Like most young teenagers, Sundays were for church, and he was not interested in any midweek classes. At least not until he heard there would be food, and homemade hot rolls. At the Wednesday night meal, he sat there mouth- watering in sweet anticipation, anxiously waiting for the hot homemade rolls. As he dipped his hand into the warm basket he glanced up and straight into the eyes of the young hostess. Young said, “It was serendipity. I went for hot rolls, but God showed me my future wife and the love of my life.”

Last Saturday evening, while I was resting, a dear friend sent a message to me which included a sermon from Gary Wilkerson. Gary is the son of David Wilkerson, well known pastor and author of “The Cross and the Switchblade”. The sermon began with a statement and a question; “As we begin 2017, I believe it would bring great pleasure to the heart of God if we would fall to our knees and ask him what he would desire to see done differently in our church and our own lives.”

Wilkerson posed some serious questions about the church and the elements many use to attract and retain people in the churches. While doing his best not to sound like an old school crank, he talked a lot about pastors spending enormous amounts of time coordinating music, fellowship, and their sermon, to make sure the visitors and the congregation left upbeat and feeling good about their church experience.

Wilkerson adds “In the midst of all these upbeat elements, is the cross of Christ still our focus? Is it possible Jesus’ death and resurrection are getting lost amid the positive vibe we all work to create? And are we worshipping God in spirit and in truth? And is that transforming us into his living image?”

Wilkerson cautioned churches from becoming too scripted, too business-like, with pastors serving as CEO’s, and while many church attendees say, “Amen,” don’t be surprised if growth numbers decrease and attendance dwindles. God’s presence is meant to bring light to our eyes. Wilkerson says, “It shows us the difference between the wheat and the chaff in our lives. That’s why God’s Word is called a refining fire.” These refining moments make us uncomfortable and can send some folks seeking pleasure and comfort at other locations. As the Bible states, our hearts are inclined to cry, “Speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions.” Isaiah 30:10.

While Wilkerson’s message is a sword, cutting and painful to hear, I do not believe he is telling us to abandon programs. I believe he is listening to God and cautioning churches, large mega churches and small congregations, to not lose sight of their purpose and reason. Programs are terrific for attracting young families and helping them grow in understanding, but hear me clearly, “Jesus is all you need.”

The sermon reminded me of the story of a young lady, new to the faith, and in a desperate situation. For simplicity we will call her “Terrie.” It was a Sunday morning, and Terrie’s husband had left her, along with the four children, a few weeks before. He said, “Nothing personal, I just don’t want to be married to you anymore.” On the way out the door he added, “No one’s going to want you with all the baggage. (Referring to the kids)” While obviously no saint; he left and took all the income with him, and now the wolves were at the door. Terrie was distraught.

Trying not to frighten the children with a meltdown, Terry left her 10 year old daughter to watch the children as she drove the town crying and looking for a place of peace. Somehow she ended up on the east side of the city, (God’s provision) where she sat and cried. With eyes swollen, nose congested and snotty, she poured out her life before God. Confused, heartbroken and desperate, she gave it all to God.

After what seemed like hours, her tears stopped and something spurred her to step out of the car. She heard distant singing, but didn’t know where it was coming from? With each step the music grew slightly louder. The music was a magnet drawing her to open the door of the old building. The sound of the music grew louder as she took each step. She began to hear prayers, with the songs, and they sounded sweetly different, as if sung and prayed straight to the heart of God. They cut through the wounding, and penetrated her heart, comforting and consoling the new child of God.

As she finally reached the people, the small group of worshipers turned toward the tear streaked face of the young lady. They recognized the brokenness, and desperation, and stopped the service to center their focus. Without hesitation the forty of so in attendance began to pour out their prayers to the Father on her behalf. The group circled Terrie and she described the experience as “real” and “in His Holy Presence.” Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.

Terrie’s life was reset that morning. The small church rallied around her and demonstrated God’s love on a daily basis. You ask, “How do I know this story about Terrie is true?” Well, Terrie was transformed, her life was reset, and she became Theresa; No longer alone and trying to merely survive, but fully sold out to the treasures of her Lord. I entered the small church knowing about going to Heaven, but left experiencing the “earthly” Kingdom of God.

Dr. Young is right; there is nothing accidental about God’s plan for your life. Thank God we have small and large churches demonstrating the love of Jesus. Yes, serendipity is a great new word to describe unexpected secondary surprise blessings, and the splendor of God’s reset.

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