[00:00:00] Well. Hello and welcome. It is so good to be here, actually. So good to be out. Well, I want to begin and just share my voice and just to affirm women and to honor all women, whether your mothers or daughters or sisters, friends and mentors, you all make a difference. You are brave. You are strong and you are courageous, and we just appreciate you and just the tireless ways you give to serve people, to serve our communities.
[00:00:30] You make the world a better place and we are so grateful. Plus you make it so much fun. Well, I just want to start off with saying, I love to travel as, as Cal kind of already alluded to, I love going to new places. I love experiencing new cultures and immersing in those cultures, taking in the sights and the sounds and the smells and their textures and meeting with people and just seeing how people live and learning.
[00:00:55] Historical narrative to all of this and many times on my travels, I will lead groups [00:01:00] to places to meet with some of these people, places like Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, even the Southern States. And as we go, we sit and listen to men and women to their stories, to just their lives. And it takes us to places where we might be sitting in an office, a government office.
[00:01:20] We may be sitting around a table in somebody's home. We, we even said in refugee camps, listening to the stories through each one of these people and their stories, we become challenged and I become challenged to be a better human and inspired to live differently. Well, one of the women that we have met is Vera Baboun.
[00:01:40] She's a Palestinian Christian. It was the former mayor of Bethlehem, a remarkable woman who's leading today in her community. And during early on during this whole lockdown in the, when covid was just kind of emerging and starting. Vera and I had a conversation. We were just talking about what it looks like in our, on our various [00:02:00] communities.
[00:02:01] And Bethlehem was one of the first places in the world to go into lockdown as a result of being exposed through tourism. And so she was sharing with me a little bit, what would that look like and how it's been a remarkable journey, how they've taken care of this. And so I kind of pressed in leaned in and said, okay.
[00:02:16] Why do you think things are so calm there? And so kind of orderly, what, what is making a difference? And she just said, well, you know, people are trusting leadership. People are loving on each other, taking care of each other. And then I asked her, so are you experiencing kind of the hoarding thing that's going on where people are stocking up and shelves are empty?
[00:02:35] And she said, actually, no. She said, for a couple of reasons, people can't afford it and people are just taking care of each other. And then she asks, you said, okay. You've got to explain to me this toilet paper thing that's happening over there. Can you explain that to me? And I said, you know, actually I can't, I don't get it either.
[00:02:53] But, there it is. So as we talked more about this, and it was kind of during the peak of all [00:03:00] of this fear and chaos that was going on, and so much conversations, I asked her again, I said, so really, what is the difference? And she said, you know, I'll tell you something, we don't shelter in place here out of fear.
[00:03:13] We shelter in place because of love, because of love for ourselves, because of love for our families, love for our communities and love for our nations. And I just thought, wow, that is, that is such a unique and such a great place to start and to live a place from love. What if that word is a place that we would live from.
[00:03:35] Well, we've been in a series called sail on, and if you've been with us, you know that, it's, it's kind of like, here we are in this storm that we really didn't see coming, but all of a sudden, here it is. And here we are. And so the first week of sail on, we talked about batten down the hatches. What do you do before the storm hits?
[00:03:53] How can you even prepare when you don't even know that? I mean, there you are and it's hitting. The second week we talked about [00:04:00] stem, the tide. What do you do in the midst of the store and when all of a sudden chaos and circumstances are happening and you're having to respond, how do you respond and how do you live in the midst of it?
[00:04:12] And then last week we talked about trim the sails. What do you do after the storm? How do you do some course correcting to get there? Which all leads up to today, which is called a better destination leading to the destination. So today I want to talk about that. How do we arrive? And when we first stepped out, step out, what can that look like.
[00:04:34] Well, it is no joke, and it's no secret that right now we have been thrust into the depths of the covid virus and for the past couple of , not months, we've just been living differently. We've been living in our homes. We haven't been traveling life as we knew it came to a halt, and not just here, but all over the world, which is, it's just been so fascinating to watch and to experience.
[00:04:56] And I have to say I want to, I'm just looking around and [00:05:00] having conversations with people. I'm so appreciative of those of you who have been serving our communities so tirelessly sacrificing your own health, sacrificing time away from families to just care for people, to love on people, and to take care of our needs.
[00:05:17] We've been in some hard times and some have been experiencing loss. And there's been, you know, a grieving process to a lot of that. There's been feelings of isolation and even exhaustion. If you ask any parent, any mom or dad, they have become a teacher overnight and they will tell you. And it's an exhausting journey.
[00:05:37] So we just appreciate everyone who is just giving up themselves just to make this better. Well, very soon it will be time for us to take the first steps toward a new destination. And our big idea today is first steps can be hard to take, but they're what got us to where we are and they set us up for the future.
[00:05:57] You see those first steps, God as to where [00:06:00] we are, but they also help set us up for the future. Cal and I have a grandson who's turning one this month. And it's fascinating to watch him because he's in that crawling stage and he's got that down pretty good, but now he's, he's pulling himself up and as he's discovering life from a two foot.
[00:06:18] A heighth. And so he's kind of seeing the world around him and, and he's wanting to do a little bit more exploring, and he's trying to scoot down couches and scoot down tables. And pretty soon he's going to be taking his first steps, his first steps toward walking in. As, you know, if you've watched a toddler, learning the process of walking, you know, that it's.
[00:06:37] It's wobbly at best, and there's a lot of falling down in the process before they get to the point where walking is steady and it is natural. And so first steps matter and first steps can be terrifying. Think back on your own journey, what are some first steps that you have taken in life? Steps and what did those first steps require of you?
[00:06:59] I had [00:07:00] the opportunity to go zip lining, recently for the first time I might add. Now you have to understand I don't like heights and I fear falling. Besides those two points, I was very excited to go into this experience. Well, after a brief explanation and debriefing about what it was going to be like, what to do, they gave us the gear, we put this gear on, we're all ready for it, and now becomes the moment that we have to actually go step up on the platform and do it.
[00:07:34] So there I stood the little bit of peer pressure and my pride. Not allowing me to stay on there very long. I realized I had, I had to take a first step, but as I looked down, I saw this really deep Canyon in front of me and I knew I couldn't focus on that. I had to focus straight ahead to where I was going and where I was going to be landing.
[00:07:57] So what I did is I, I, I [00:08:00] fixed my focus straight ahead and I took that first terrifying step. And I got to say that as I've stepped off that and as I look forward, I experienced the ride of my life. I am so glad I took that first step. How willing are you to step out of your comfort zone to put yourself out there and to go for it because he had a better destination and a better future?
[00:08:25] Await those willing to take a first step. I believe that when we arrive at a new destination, whether it be a place or a season in life, whether it be a new job, a new relationship, a new move, that we step into an unknown space and a place holding and carrying a variety of emotions all at the same time.
[00:08:47] Excitement, fear, anxiety, trepidation, all of those we carry with us and we hold at the same time. Sometimes in the journey forward we encountered those rough times, hardships, [00:09:00] unexpected, disappointments, even loss. But we bring all those with us cause that's what makes us who we are and our part of our story and our journey.
[00:09:09] Author and adventure Bear Grylls, perhaps best known for his popular television series. Man versus wild has three boys. And he said his boys, we're constantly asking him about his scars from all his adventures and especially the scars on his face. And he said at first he was very self conscious about those scars and didn't really want to talk about it.
[00:09:30] But over time he got used to those dark scars and started embracing them because he said, every scar. Told a story and represented a story and then he said this, I see it more as a perfectly preserved body is a wasted life. At the end of my life, I want to arrive skidding in, sideways, battered, covered in scars and screaming.
[00:09:53] Yahoo isn't that the way we should live life? Because our scars are part of our [00:10:00] story. They remind us of a life fully lived throughout our sheltering in place. I've had time, like many of you, two, routines have changed and new routines we've adopted. But I've had some time to just sit and reflect.
[00:10:14] And as I was in the middle of this, I thought, you know what? I want to really take advantage of this time where we're all in. It's not like just our family was in sheltering in place, but the whole world was so you weren't missing out on anything. So as I'm sheltering in place, I just thought, I need to really reflect on my life and I want to ask myself.
[00:10:33] Some questions and be honest with myself. So a few questions I was asking was, what has God been preparing me for? What lessons will I take with me that will serve me well in the next chapter, and who will I be on the other side whenever the other side is of this. Well with the past behind us, we step into the new, the unknown, the future.
[00:11:00] [00:10:59] What can we expect and what can we claim as truth? I want to suggest three steps that we can take as we enter into this new destination. Stepping into God's purposes, stepping into God's provisions and stepping into God's promises. Well as we step into God's purposes, we realized that God did create us on purpose for a purpose.
[00:11:22] But sometimes in just in living life, we can find yourself losing our purpose or our purpose being taken away from us. I know that years ago I had a dream snatched away by another organization. It involved a ministry that I helped co-found and what I thought would be the trajectory of my life, and I absolutely loved it.
[00:11:44] Was suddenly snatched away. I was devastated by it. Some someone else had a different agenda and I, I hadn't planned for this. This is what I loved. I, my identity was in this. As a result, it took me [00:12:00] off track is sent me in a spiral. I spent a couple of years just really questioning myself, questioning my identity, questioning my purpose, asking what my best years behind me, what, what is still in me to give.
[00:12:14] But now as I look back after working through that, I can see it through a different lens. In many ways, it prepared me for the work I'm doing now, the work of peacemaking, which I love, and which I am passionate about. You see, I saw it. I had lost my purpose. I had just to rediscover it. Psalms 40:1-3 says, I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
[00:12:41] He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. [00:13:00] So let me ask you, where have you put your trust.
[00:13:03] In the past. And where are you putting your trust right now? Let's just imagine we had a scale, one to ten one representing, putting our trust in the things of this world. Money, wealth, riches, jobs, relationships, status titles, and ten representing a complete trust and surrender to God. So as you look at the scale, where would you put your life right now as far as who you are trusting.
[00:13:32] Do you tend to be more toward this end, the one on number one, where it's the world? Or Are you closer to trusting in God? I think that's a good question to ask ourselves and to think about as we continue to move forward. There's a lot of noise out there and a lot of different opinions. People have so many ideas of what's going on, what should happen, what didn't happen, but whose voice are you going to listen to during these times?
[00:13:58] The voice of God that speaks [00:14:00] truth. That is with us. It is still giving us a purpose. Proverbs 3:5,6 says, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will and all you do, and he will show you which path to take. He will show us. If only we would ask, and if only we would listen.
[00:14:19] As you begin to stare down a new path, what do you see? Do you see new possibilities. Do you see second chances? Do you see a life lived more intentionally with God? And where do you want this path to take you? We have a phrase we use here at Central. It's just three simple words made for more. You see, God has created each of us on purpose for a purpose.
[00:14:45] He created us. So when he created us, he said, this is very good. And he created us for so much more than what this world offers us. When was the last time you sat with God and [00:15:00] you asked him what he wants for your life and asked him who he created you to be? No one knows you better than God. Pete Greig has this quote in it, and I have this sitting by my desk at home because it just is a great reminder.
[00:15:15] It says, you are a new song that God has given the world. A song that no one else can sing. The way you think, the way you see life and the way you worship are utterly unique. Isn't it time you stepped out into the street, threw back your head and gave the world the weirdest, most wonderful rendition of yourself?
[00:15:36] What if, what if we stood up straight and said, here I am. Okay, God, how are you going to use me? I want to sing that song that you put in my soul. What is the future you want to claim? And create with God. Well, second steps could be stepping into God's provisions. Now I want to share a phrase, and it's a cliche, and I know it may be overused.
[00:15:58] It may sound cheesy, but I think it's [00:16:00] powerful and it's something I go to and it's this where God provide where God guides God provides. And you look at the gospel of John chapter 21. there's a story there. Now. John was a disciple of Jesus. he was called the beloved disciple, and we see him and, and other disciples on a boat on the sea of Galilee.
[00:16:23] And this is taking place after just soon after Jesus had been crucified and soon after he had resurrected. And so these disciples, through the past three years had spent this intense, intimate ministry with Jesus following his teachings, following him, being taught by him and just doing life with him.
[00:16:42] And now they find themselves in a boat not knowing what to do. Cause what does this mean? Jesus died. We didn't think he was going to leave us as soon, but Jesus resurrected and who does that? What do we do with this? Well, they couldn't have predicted that they would be in this [00:17:00] place at this time in life.
[00:17:01] Cal mentioned a few weeks back that we are living in unprecedented times and I think this is the same place that these, these disciples are finding themselves. It's unprecedented. They were trying to sort it all out and asking questions of themselves, I'm sure. Like what does this mean for us now? What will our future look like?
[00:17:20] And just looking around going, everything has changed. Well, during this period, I'm certainty they did. What one does when we're, we feel lost, we feel out of control. We still uncertain. We go back to that which is comfortable, that which is familiar. That's our default. And for the disciples, it was fishing.
[00:17:38] So they went back to fishing and we see them that they're on the sea of Galilee and they have been fishing all night long. And these are professional fishermen. They know where fish are. They know how to fish, they know all about it, but it says they didn't catch anything. And so when morning comes, they see this figure on the shore and it's Jesus and it says, Jesus appeared at dawn, and [00:18:00] Jesus asked them a question, friends, have you caught anything?
[00:18:04] Now? I'm sure they're, they're looking at Jesus going, really? Do you have to ask us that? Do we have to admit? No, we haven't caught anything. And then Jesus says, why don't you try putting your net on the other side of the boat? Well, I imagine they're going, okay, that makes no sense. Cause we kind of know what we're doing, but it's Jesus and we trust him.
[00:18:25] So we're going to put our net on the other side of the boat. And when they did, miraculously, the net was filled to overflowing. Let's jump down into chapter two, verse 13 of that same chapter, and it says, then Jesus served them the bread and the fish Jesus prepared, and six of them breakfast he provided for them.
[00:18:48] He provided a meal for them. They'd been fishing all night. Can you even imagine what that breakfast would have tasted like? It was probably the best breakfast of their life. Well, this was the third time Jesus had appeared to [00:19:00] his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?
[00:19:09] Yes, Lord Peter replied, you know I love you. Then feed my lambs. Jesus told him, Jesus repeated the question, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Yes, Lord. Peter said, you know, I love you then take care of my sheep. Jesus said. A third time he asked him, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Now, Peter was h that Jesus asked the question a third time.
[00:19:31] He said, Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you. Jesus said, then feed my sheep. We see that Peter asked, Jesus asked Peter three times, do you love me? There's so much significance in this conversation and this exchange, because Peter had just recently denied Jesus three times as Jesus was about to become crucified because Peter was afraid to be associated with Jesus.
[00:19:57] He thought maybe this is what would happen to [00:20:00] me, and so he denies them. So we see a side of Peter that's very fearful. But during this exchange, Jesus looks at Peter with tenderness and love, and Jesus gives him a second calling and so many ways, and Jesus sees, Peter understands that Peter's probably carrying some shame and some guilt and some sadness.
[00:20:21] And so he speaks into Peter. And when Jesus speaks into Peter, he redirects Peter's occupation no longer is Peter a fishermen, but he's evangelist. And Jesus gives Peter a new identity. He's not known for being impulsive and fearful and reckless. He has now called the rock, and Jesus gave Peter a new spirit.
[00:20:42] No longer defined by fear, but defined with power from the Holy Spirit with love and hope. Peter eventually dies a martyr for Jesus. The same Peter that denied him three times. Well, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and he still provides these same things [00:21:00] for us today. Jesus empowered Peter and the other disciples and they went on to change the world, literally.
[00:21:08] Do you believe that we have the potential to create change and to change the world right now? Well, a third step, we can take it a step into a better destination requires stepping into God's promises. Tim Day says, our hope is not to simply return to the way life used to be, but through the experience of dying to the old to be resurrected to a new life, a new way of living with God, with each other, and with creation.
[00:21:34] You see, God keeps his promises. He's a promise keeper, and his promises are good. God is the God of hope. In the midst of suffering and pain and uncertainty, God meets us where we're at and he guides us and he stays with us and he gives us hope and he gives us a future. He transforms crisis into opportunities.
[00:21:56] Romans 15:13 says, I pray that God, the source [00:22:00] of hope will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. And God promises also to never leave us. He will always be with us. We will never be alone, though we may feel alone and he goes before us.
[00:22:19] Deuteronomy 31:6 says, be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Isaiah 41:10 says, fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
[00:22:41] And Matthew 28:20 says, these are some of the final words of Jesus on this earth. He says, teaching them to observe all that I've commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. Knowing when we stepped out, we are not alone and that we have Jesus with us this can [00:23:00] change everything.
[00:23:01] I'll remind us again of the big idea. First steps can be hard to take, but they're what got us to where we are and they set us up for the future. I want to conclude with a story, a story of a remarkable woman. Her name is Tammie Jo Shults and Tammie Jo is a Southwest commercial airline pilot. She is a retired Naval aviator and known for being one of the first female fighter pilots to serve in the United States Navy.
[00:23:31] Her journey towards being a pilot, was long and difficult. You see, Tammie Jo was raised on a ranch, and when she was doing what you do on a ranch, tending to animals and things, she said she would always kind of look up and she would see airplanes flying overhead. And as she saw those planes, she would think.
[00:23:49] I want to be up there. That's where I want to be. I want to be a pilot. So she would share her dreams with family and friends and, and share with people and she would, you know, people would go, [00:24:00] that's, that's a great dream. I don't know. Right. So she said she would started applying when she got, and to college applying to, to become a trained in an as an aviator.
[00:24:11] And she got so many rejections cause she was told women don't fly. Well, she, she didn't quit. She kept pursuing, she kept pushing and she became one of the first, aviators in the US Navy, as I've said. Well, on April 17th, 2018, Tammie Jo step into the cockpit of flight 1380, that was taking off the LaGuardia airport, flying to Dallas Love Airport.
[00:24:37] Now Tammie Jo wasn't supposed to be the pilot that day. Her husband, Dean, who was also a Southwest airline pilot, was supposed to, but they had changed schedules so she be and attend her son's track meet. So they, they get, they get on the plane, 144 passengers boarded that day, and it was just a normal day, a regular day.
[00:24:57] And as they boarded, I imagine they all. [00:25:00] Looked for their seats. They found their seats, they took their seats, and they did what we generally do. You know, you put your earbuds in, you'll get your laptops ready, you get your book ready, you're all ready. And so it was, it was just a routine slight until 20 minutes at 30,000 feet, something went terribly wrong an engine exploded.
[00:25:21] And when it exploded its sense of flurry of shot, strapped null that blew out a window in the airplane. As a result, a passenger, Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the window and she died. You can only imagine the chaos. The confusion that was happening in that plane was shortly after the explosion.
[00:25:44] Tammie Jo regained control of the plane and they, they decided to land this plane at the Philadelphia airport. So as soon as she knew there was a destination, she let the flight attendants know we have a destination. We're going to be landing in the Philly [00:26:00] airport. Well, as soon as the flight attendants got that word, she said they unbuckled their seats.
[00:26:05] They took off their oxygen mask and they went row by row to each passenger, looked them in the eyes and said, we have a destination. We are going to land in Philly. And they said, you know what? That didn't change the circumstances, but it created this calm becauseeverybody knew they had a destination.
[00:26:24] And so as they began to land 20 minutes later, Tammie Jo and her copilot, Darren successfully made an emergency landing, and after it was all over, she's just reflected on how there was a moment when she was sitting in the cockpit and she said, you know. This could be the day I meet my maker. And when I do, I will not be meeting a stranger because I know him.
[00:26:51] I meet with him every day, and once she got past that thought, she's focused on the destination of the Philly airport and hope set [00:27:00] in and calm, set in. Well, after they landed, she, she had time to kind of pause and she said, you know, God didn't cause that engine to blow. But God prepared me to be that pilot of that aircraft that day.
[00:27:16] So let me ask you a couple of questions. What is God preparing you for right now? As you take your seat, as you look around, as you see people, as we do life with people, what is God preparing us for. What does God's asking us maybe to do to take first steps? Maybe it's taking a first step closer toward God.
[00:27:38] Maybe it's taking a first step to rearranging some priorities in our life. I don't know what it looks like for you. I've been asking myself some of those questions, but this, I know a better destination starts with a first step. Let's pray. God. Thank you so much for being our pilot, for being in control, for giving [00:28:00] us hope and a future for always being with us.
[00:28:03] And we thank you that during this time in life, right now, that you see all people that you were with each one of us in our own journeys and you want a better destination for us. I pray that as a church, as individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, we will be better. As a result, we will love people better.
[00:28:23] We will love you better. And so Lord, be with us as we take our first steps. Give us the courage we need and thank you for being with us. Thank you for being a good, good father and never letting us out of your grasp. We thank you. In Jesus name. Amen.