When we heard the announcement by the flight attendant, I knew that we were in trouble. They canceled the flight to Chicago! We quickly lined up to see a Northwest agent to get rebooked onto another flight. After many calls to the pastors in Chicago and to Christina (she became my pseudo airline reservation specialist), we got rescheduled onto another flight going to Midway Airport; but, we were estimated to get into Chicago about 1 hour after the appointed time for our first pilot service. The group ended up starting with dinner first so that it would give us enough time to make it to the service.
As we were arriving into Chicago, I realized that we need to be ready for anything and everything this coming year. God is still in control.
We finally arrived in the middle of opening praise and I got ready to preach. During the middle of my sermon the fire alarm went off. It was one of those funny moments (yes, I said “funny”). Before the fire alarm went off in the hotel, I was sharing with the church that doing a church plant will be like a journey which will require tremendous faith and trust – sometimes you just will not know what will happen, but we have to be ready. I think God accentuated my point with the fire alarm! We just all laughed together. Thankfully, it was just a false alarm.
I shared from Isaiah 43:18-21. As we are two Sundays away from our launch date, I wanted to remind the people that God was doing a new thing and that we needed to see it. I highlighted three things:
1) We need to release the past – God reminds the Israelite people to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” One of the biggest hindrances to people reaching their destinies is their failure to let go of the past – past mistakes, regret, bitterness, etc. As we start this new church, it will be vital to let go of the past things that hinders us from God’s plans for us.
2) We need to recognize God’s workings – It is interesting that God uses the words “see” and “perceive” in the same flow of thought. A person can “see” things but not really see. This is why Jesus quotes this verse in Mk 4:12 and Mt 13:14. We need to learn how to perceive things with God’s eyes. As we look at all that has happened so far with this church plant, we can truly say that the hand of God has been upon us. This should cause us to depend on Him more.
3) We need to remember our calling – God also reminded the Israelites about their identity and their calling. God used phrases like, “my people,” “my chosen” and “people I formed for myself.” The greatness of the owner gives worth to the object that is being owned. God wants us to remember our identity so that we can embrace the call that we have in our lives, especially in this new season of starting a new church in Evanston.
After I shared, we had a good time of prayer and closed out with some praise. It felt good to run through the service so that we can have a preview of what to expect in the future. We have one more next Sunday and then the official launch will begin. God, we are amazed!