BASE CAMP : Direction for those in Despair

A few weeks ago I had the honor of serving the Norwood family through leading the memorial service for Taylor Norwood.  That day, in the midst of tragedy and loss, 25 people made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” – Genesis 50

After a number of conversations days after the service, I felt the prompting to share excerpts from that message …

“The camp of WHAT IF & the camp of WHAT NOW”

We’ve attended memorial services just like this and I’ve witnessed two camps or schools of thought conveyed in the time of despair.  These camps are worlds apart and operate under different mandates.

The camp of WHAT IF

The camp of WHAT IF breeds remorse, regret, guilt, shame and chaos. We may have daily feelings of it, but it’s magnified in moments like these and in times of loss.
This camp begs the question WHAT IF’ …
What if I did something different?
What if I said something?
What if I intervened?
What if I hadn’t said what I said?
What if I hadn’t gone to this place?
What if I hadn’t made that introduction?
What if? What if? What if?
That’s how that camp operates. This camp keeps you in a perpetual cycle of rehearsing and reliving the past as well keeping you in a spin cycle of chaos.
In contrast there is …

The camp of WHAT NOW

This camp breeds love, joy, peace, comfort, identity and purpose.
Now THIS camp begs the question, WHAT NOW? That’s how THIS camp operates. It keeps us looking ahead and actually encourages to forget the bad and focus on the good.
Although these two camps are worlds apart they have a certain similarity. Both camps actively and relentlessly pursue you.
One camp is run by Satan, the enemy, the defeated, the created.
One camp is run by Jesus … the way, the truth, the life, the Creator.

A dose of TRUTH

At a moment in time, you were conceived and you breathed your first breath. Even before you were conceived, He (God) had you in mind.
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. -Ephesians 1
Remember the two camps? The camp of WHAT IF and the camp of WHAT NOW?
The moment you were conceived you became a threat. What.  If.  The enemy asks the very question of the nature of his camp.
What if you got wind of the truth?
What if you caught wind of your purpose?
What if you got wind of God’s plan for your life?
What if what if what if and the very nature of the camp rolls into existence over your life.
So they enemy keeps us in fear, he keeps us insecure, he keeps us defeated, he keeps us defeated, he keeps us weak, he keeps us in chaos. He’s bent on stealing, killing and destroying your life.

A second dose of TRUTH

As of the result of our sin nature, when we start of in this life, our propensity to defy God is already in us because of what happened at the beginning of time.   Adam and Eve messed this up. God had a plan, we messed it up. But as we are introduced to the truth, we are introduced to the question of the camp that says What now”.
If the characteristics of that camp are true … there is purpose, there is life, there is a plan, there is peace, there is joy and it’s not only preparing our lives for eternity in heaven, but also living what the Bible calls abundant life” here on Earth.
The Bible actually says …
This is what God says,
    the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
    who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
    they lie down and then can’t get up;
    they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. – Isaiah 43
So, you are presented with a choice. What if? What now?
At a moment in my life I recognized that I needed this Jesus. I needed to leave my sin, my shame, my regret, my addiction, my past and embrace the WHAT NOW.  I had to embrace that God has a plan and I was going to walk in the camp of the what now.
Like I said when we started, a mom and a dad aren’t supposed to bury their child. What are we going to do now. We are going to depend on a God who has made His peace and comfort available to us.
In just a moment, I’m going to pray and ask for anyone who wants to be included in that prayer. Pastor Andrew what’s going to happen if I try and I fail?
Again, that’s the WHAT IF … Let’s embrace the WHAT NOW.
He’s a God of forgiveness and unconditional love. What now? We are going to stand back up and grow from it. What if I fail again? Not what if … we are saying what now. We will stand up again.
We need a starting point in the midst of despair.  There is hope.  Base Camp is where it starts.  Base Camp has a name.  That name is the camp of WHAT NOW.  That camp has one person in charge.  That person is Jesus.  Let me know if you need to return to Base Camp.  There’s room for one more.

These “things”

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[o]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 

Despite ALL ‘these things’.

‘These things’ are debilitating, they are stressful, they are all consuming.

‘These things’ wear me out and wear me thin and leave me on empty.

‘These things’ discourage, distract and deter me from what my heart has set out to do.

‘These things’.

Our bodies are fighting for health.  Our minds are filled with stuff.  Our relationships have reached a breaking point.

Yet … in spite of ‘these things’, the victory is yours through Jesus.

Not JUST the victory, but an overwhelming victory.  The clock hasn’t run out on you, the light at the end of the tunnel is just in the distance.  The love that Jesus has for you is full, unconditional and in pursuit.  The victory is yours.

Despite all ‘these things’ … I’ve read the end of the Book.  We win.

‘These things’ are temporary.  They will not stand the test of time.  His love will.

The Power of you + Him

I can’t get this out of my heart.  I can’t get this out of my head.  “You do you.”

I’ve bounced back from some extended time off and I’ve been sounding off with one declaration … “You do you”.

We can consume ourselves with the expectations and pressures of the world and people around us.  We can compare ourselves to another’s life or highlight real.  We can contrast our lives with those that have gone before us … OR

We can be ourselves.

God’s design, God’s dream, God’s destiny for your life is flawless.  Yet we succomb to the pressure of molding and shaping our lives into something or someone he never intended.  THAT is exhausting!

For those of you searching for purpose, passion and place, start with one thing …

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:11

Before Jesus stepped on the scene, before He performed a miracle and disrupted all of civilization for years to come, the Father made a declaration that He loved Him and was pleased with Him.

Friend, your starting point is that you are loved by God and He is pleased with you.  Submit, surrender and watch what God does with you.

You be the best you that you can be.  You.  Do.  You.

The Power of the Reminder

In prayer I remind my audience of three things …

1. I remind God of His promise for my life.

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

‭‭Numbers‬ ‭23:19‬

2. I remind Satan of my place in Jesus.

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭

3. I remind my situation of my authority over it.

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:8‬ ‭

Never let Satan or your Situation rob you of your Seat with Christ.

Prayer is our wake up call for the soul and a weapon to defeat anything that appears to be defeating you.

Show Me What’s In Your Hand

It rarely makes sense on paper.

Actually, it never makes sense on paper.

God defies the parameters we work with on planet Earth.

In God’s universe, He’s looking to see what you believe He is able to do through the promise of His Word.  This activates the hand of God to make the impossible, possible.

Friends, what’s in your hands?

What cards have you been dealt?

What is the current inventory of your situation?

What resources are currently at your disposal?

It’s not what’s in your head but your hand and heart that matter. God can work with that.

Have a read about what Jesus did in the moment of compassion and in the face of impossibility. THIS is the God we serve.

30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

32-34 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

35-36 When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”

37 Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”

They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”

38 But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”

That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.

39-44 Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.

 

Wisdom – God’s fingerprint

There is no short cut with God.  When seeking success in the eyes of God, I love what the Bible says when it comes to God releasing His favor on us!

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

Nothing trumps the reality of God’s fingerprint on your life, and knowing that He is pleased with you.  Wisdom is fulfilling His expectations, not the worlds or any person for that matter.