Jump Start # 2684
Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Here is a thought, and think about it deeply and carefully. What have been the blessings of 2020? Are you kidding? This year has been a mess. Covid. Social unrest. Political turmoil. Masks. Social distancing. Worship at home. School at home. Work at home. Stores closing for good. Economy crushed. No sports. Then, sports with hardly any fans. No place to vacation. Hurricanes. Fires out West. Funeral with only ten people allowed. Could a year be any worse? How ugly, messed up, inside out this year has been.
A few Saturdays ago, the shepherds and the preachers of our congregation met for three hours to map out the plans for next year. It’s an annual event. Lots of ideas, themes, classes, who we want to invite to come preach, what we want to emphasize. It’s always a great, great meeting. Many of the things we had planned this year had to be cancelled because of the Covid pandemic. We have limped along like many congregations and are starting to get a rhythm of connecting again. What will the new normal look like?
But as our session began, before we jumped into ideas, plans and themes, one of the leaders asked us to spend some time talking about what the blessings have been for this year. What a great thought! What a great beginning for our meeting. The challenges are apparent. The disappointments, concerns, troubles are in our eyes. But, what have been the blessings!
Let me share a few with you:
- This year has taught us the true meaning of what worship is. For months were were worshipping in our homes with just our families. We learned that worship is not confined to a building but comes from the heart. Singing, praying and praising to God continues. Those early disciples long ago first taught us that. Many huddled in Roman catacombs, which is nothing more than an underground cemetery, to worship in.
- We found how precious our fellowship and connections are. We can take those things for granted, but when we had that disrupted, it reminded us of how important every person is.
- We learned that what we thought was “normal” may not have been good enough to get some to Heaven. And, as things start returning, a new normal may be what we truly need.
- It gave us new ways to teach, especially through videos which opens the door for developing classes that may be more on line than in person. The generational model of being in the same location at the same hour for a class may not be the most effective method today.
- It showed us the value of clear and concise communication, especially from the shepherds to the flock. Hearing and seeing the shepherds on a regular basis and having a voice that kept us in the Scriptures and encouraged us through the foggy darkness that we traveled through was so important.
- The blessings of technology were wonderful. Having a team that could help us put information and quality material before the church, and even the world, on almost a daily basis kept us close to the Lord.
- This period of turmoil has deepened the relationship among the shepherds and the preachers. We have had weekly conference calls and have had to navigate through some first time decisions. Together we have been together, in spirit, attitude and hope for the congregation. We are a tighter, stronger and better leadership than ever before.
- There has been growth, even within this storm. New members. Conversions. Fresh faces that are willing to jump in and help out. The storms have blown through, but they haven’t stopped growth.
- The challenges at home has been an opportunity to pull together as a family. We’ve spent more time together with our family and this has helped those relationships
- The assurance that God is seeing us through these troublesome times and the trust and faith that we have in Him has helped us so much. We have never been alone. We have never been without God’s word. Our faith, conviction and hope has grown deeper and richer through this period of turmoil.
We talked about challenges. But for nearly an hour we reflected upon the blessings. The blessings found in a year of trouble. While so many, especially on social media are wanting to hurry past this season and flip the calendar and move on, it is good to see the blessings in the storm. While the world, and so many brethren, are comparing this year to an the worst things ever, some are seeing the rainbows in the storm clouds.
I would encourage all of you to take an hour and talk about the blessings of this year. It would be good for shepherds to get together and do this as they look at the congregation. One thing this will do is to show you that God has not abandoned us. He’s not waiting for us in 2021. He’s here. He’s blessing us. There are good things that can come from all of this and one of them may be a change in attitude and heart.
I am so thankful that we have the amazing shepherds that we do. Thoughtful. Careful. And, true spiritual leaders and giants. And, one of my greatest blessings this year has been to see them in action. They have gone down roads they have never traveled before. But with care, love and respect for the Scriptures, they have guided us safely. And, now that we begin to see the sun shinning through the clouds, we count our blessings and for me it’s been these men who have never taken their eyes off of Jesus.
Blessings in a storm…