“Out of Context” is a series dedicated to verses of scripture, often used in today’s conversations, that have little to do with the context by which it was written.
Context | (1) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed; (2) the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
This has to be one of the top 10 verses that I hear Christians use today that has little CONTEXT for when and how they use it.
Sometimes it’s innocent, like an email signature or an encouraging verse for the day. However, most of the time it’s read (all by itself) by a high school student getting ready to go to college with the promise that God has great things in store for them. Or by the person getting ready to go on a mission trip and are excited about the “good plans” God has in store for them… and no bad plans. Or it’s in a social media post that goes along with someone’s brand new goal in life (new job, new city, new opportunity) in which they claim that God is leading them and has nothing but sunshine and success waiting for them.
God does have a plan for your life. Don’t get me wrong. He does LOVE that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone to go on that mission trip or move to a new city where He’s given you a job opportunity. However, there are more verses in scripture that better align with those circumstances than Jeremiah 29:11.
I would guess that more than 90% of people who have ever spoken this verse has absolutely NO IDEA the context in which this Word from God was given to His people. However, if you just read the 5 verses before it – it would be very clear.
We fear many things in this life, but one that I’ve personally encountered over this past summer is the FEAR OF REFLECTION.
Reflection is simply that time of pondering over, asking questions of, and interpreting things internally. Some people do this through meditation. Some make this a daily part of their prayer life. Some do it as a deliberate practice when considering a major decision. Others simply are forced to do it when something goes horribly wrong and are working to assess what happened and when.
But I’ve noticed in conversations with people that taking time to reflect and ask personal questions (to ourselves) is not something they WANT to do. There is a FEAR that shows up that they didn’t even realize was there.
- A Fear of what they will find when they stop moving.
- A Fear of what they will hear when they stop talking.
- A Fear of what they will feel when they stop rising to meet the expectations of others.
- A Fear of what answers they might get to the questions they need to ask.
Blog post from blog.thejourneyonline.com on August 10th, 2016.
In case there are some people in our church who missed the memo over this past summer, I recently partook in an 9 week Sabbatical and spent my 10th week (transitional week) participating on our Journey GO trip to Peru!
As with most of my content, I struggle to be brief. I would love to have coffee and spend a few hours with each and every one of you to share what an amazing time this sabbatical has been for me (and for my family) but that’s just not possible.
However, at our Partner Night on Thursday August 18th, I will be sharing in more details some specifics from my time away and how I believe it has impacted my heart for the mission and ministry of Journey Church!
Here are the TOP 5 Takeaways from My Sabbatical:
1) I’m Overwhelmed with Gratitude in God’s Plan. Leading Journey Church was never something I had planned to do. The God ordained movements and opportunities that facilitated my leadership here were the last things I expected, but am overwhelmingly grateful for them. I’m so grateful to not only be a part of this Journey family, but to also lead our amazing leaders as we walk towards the future God has for us! I’m still shocked sometimes that He decides to use me and my leadership for His purposes – and I never want to take for granted the call He’s placed on my life.
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
Do we ever consider that risk = freedom? That living a life at the edge of the unknown might not be the the most free we could ever feel in our lives.
I had the opportunity to speak at my church this past weekend about regret and I used a statement I had written several years ago about the definition of the Kingdom’s Path.
“Follow God with abandon at every age – with an eager expectation that God can use our lives for His purposes in the world. Risk always: Never Completely Settle: Be Different, Be HIS, and Die Gloriously”
I didn’t spend much time the idea of risk this week because the sermon was on regret, but I couldn’t shake the idea of risk and freedom from my mind.