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I love the slow pace of the new year – its time to rest, chillax, stop collaborate and listen… which for me means binge watching west wing, sleep ins and reading lots.

To kick the year off I read Shawn Bolz Translating God, which if you’re interested in knowing God more and making Him known more is well worth the read.

In Translating God he talks about connecting with Brian Welch, guitarist of Korn, who is a born again Christian and seeing God at work in and through his life.  Korn for those who don’t know, is a heavy heavy heavy metal band.  Its lyrics and concerts are not pretty.   Think drugs, sex rock and roll and then multiply that by 10 and you’re maybe getting a clear picture.  After getting saved Brian stepped away from Korn, realising that it perhaps wasn’t the best environment to walk with God and live free.  After about 10 years though he felt led by God to rejoin the band and now at concerts has a team of prophetic people scout around the audience handing out VIP backstage passes to meet with him.  These fan meet and greets however aren’t just about signing autographs or having selfies with Brian, they’re gospel presentations and supernatural encounters that see people saved and set free.  Heavy metal fans who went for a concert and met their Saviour.

I wouldn’t call Brian ordinary, but God chooses to use ordinary people to extraordinary things.  I love how God loves to use the unexpected to do amazing things.

Think about some of the main players in the Bible.

Moses – Hebrew baby, hidden away despite a death order for all male babies, then adopted by the Egyptian princess, raised in the palace who then discovers his heritage, murders an eyptian and flees to the backside of the desert where he becomes a shepherd for his father in law.  God then uses him to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the promised land.

David – a man after God’s heart, who commits adultery and then has the womans husband murdered

Peter – a fisherman who often speaks before he thinks, who denys Jesus 3 times, even after Jesus told him he would

Mary was an unwed mother.

Jonah ran away from God.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

Paul, who wrote at least ½ of the New Testament, orchestrated the genocide of Christians in the early church.


God has proved time and time again that He moves in unexpected ways through unexpected people, yet when it comes to our own lives we often want God to colour inside the lines, to be a cosmic genie granting our wishes and moving in predictable safe ways.


Think about some of the key moments in the Bible:

Walking around the walls of Jericho in silence until the 7th day was an unexpected battle plan.

Splitting the Red Sea was an unexpected escape route for the people of Israel as they fled from Egypt.

From the prison to the palace was an unexpected progression for Joseph.

Boy chosen to defeat a giant was an unexpected choice and a massive risk!

An elderly couple who have been barren have a promised son is outside the laws of nature.

The first preacher of the new church was an uneducated fisherman who just over a month ago had publically denied even knowing Jesus was an unexpected leadership promotion.

Being born as a human child to a virgin teenage girl, who then wed a carpenter and grew up in obsecurity, becoming a capenter himself, revealed as the Son of God who then was arrested and executed on the cross – our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose death seemed like defeat but was the greatest victory as it was the punishment for our sins and the price paid to rescue and redeem us, and was not the final say as Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose to life!


This morning at the start of the year I want to challenge us to say yes to the unexpected and to equip us with some keys to empower us to thrive when the unexpected comes our way.




Nothing is Unexpected to God.


One of the things I love about God is that nothing takes Him by surprize.  We will face the unplanned and the unexpected this year, but we’re loved by a Saviour who knows no surprises.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


Luke 12:7 says that God knows the number of hairs on our head which means He is paying attention to even the tiniest detail of our lives!


God is never surprised. To be surprised you have to be uncertain about what is coming. You have to not know things. God never not knows about the future or about anything. He is never uncertain about what is coming.

We can know this for at least two reasons. One is that the Bible shows that knowing the future, even the future of human decisions, is part of what it means to be God. And the other is that the Bible shows that God knows the future because he plans the future.

Sometimes  you just have to yell PLOT TWIST and then carry on in full assurance that God is the author of our life and that your plot twist did not shock Him.

God is all powerful and when we find ourselves facing a giant, or blocked by the red sea, or up against walls we can be confident that God is able and that nothing is impossible to Him.   We often box Him in and place our human limitations on God who has no limits.

This means that we can put our hope in God.  We can put our trust in Him.  He is the God who never fails.   He is the God that promises to complete the good work He has begun in us and that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his children who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

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How do we deal with the unexpected things that cause us pain and grief.   The health diagnosis.  The bad family news.  The redundancy.   The relationship that falls apart. Mental health issues.  Kids that face crisis.

As Christians we are not immune to the very real troubles of this world.  Sin and the fall means this world and its people are broken.  God doesn’t promise us a “get out of jail” card when it comes to difficulty.

Things that are unexpected catch us off guard.  They’re not planned for, not prepared for and aren’t booked in the diary, mmmmm the first week of March seems good for something unexpected to happen.

But when the unexpected hits we can be ready internally, mentally, spiritually, emotionally for whatever life presents.

But the promise of Jesus is that God is with us, God is for us and God is at work.

Psalm 121 I look to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.

The creator God who breathed out the stars and created every blade of grass and wildflower and bird, animal, and fish He is our help.  Even in the darkest moment we face God is big enough and loving enough to  be our help, to be our comfort.


There are 5 things that will help when we face the unexpected crisis.

  1. We can LEAN on God for stability. “Such a person will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. God’s constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that God will take care of him” (Psalm 112:6-7, TLB). It seems trite or clichic to say lean on God and we may have hurt feelings towards Him for whatever is going on but I love how David says in Psalm 73 “When I tried to understand all this it troubled me deeply until I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood”. In His presence we find a peace despite the circumstance, we find hope for eternity and hope for right here right now today, we find wisdom and comfort and strength to face what is going on.    Sometimes all we can do is whisper the name of Jesus and He translates that into prayer.

When I was in intermediate my best friend was the tallest girl in the class, her name is Caroline.  Its been over 30 years since Ive seen Caroline but my heart broke when I read that her 17 year old son was hit by a car and died on New Years Day.  I actually was really affected, even though I haven’t seen Caroline for 30 years and hugged my kids a lot for a few days, thank you for tolerating that, and thought of her and her son it felt like all the time that week.  I had no sensible prayers.  I had no wise words of comfort.  All I could pray was Jesus wrap your arms around her right now.  In this moment.  Be there.    All I could do was lean into Jesus and ask Jesus to lean into her.


  1. We can LISTEN to God “’I know what I am planning for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NCV). Often in a crisis we can feel confused, hurt and unsure of what the next step is.  I love that Psalm 23 says when I WALK through the valley, we’re walking, not camping, we’re passing through, not permently dwelling.

Sometimes all we need to hear is God is with us.  When my husband’s dad passed away about 7 years ago both my kids had terrible chicken pox.  Caleb was still getting spots about 14 days into it.  I was worn out in every way possible.  On the day Tony’s dad died Bethel music released a free song for an upcoming album called Come to me.  I had it on repeat and just lay on my bed and let the words and heart of God wash over me and steady my heart.  It was God speaking to me.


  1. We can LOOK to God for strength. “God is our protection and our strength. He always helps in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid even if the earth shakes, or the mountains fall into the sea” (Psalm 46:2 NCV).


  1. PROCESS the emotions

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NKJV). That means it’s okay to be honest about our grief. “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8, NLT). God wants to comfort us in tragedy. He is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


  1. You are not alone

It’s a huge mistake to isolate yourself when you’re going through a crisis. We all need the support, encouragement, and presence of other people, particularly in a crisis.    The local church isn’t a crossfit club where its all about strength and power and performance, it’s a family with a cross at the centre that represents love, grace, healing, forgiveness and where we can come if we’re broken, where we can come when we’re hurt, where we can come as we are, warts and all.   It’s a place where there are a whole range of gifts and ways that we can encourage and support each other.



A crisis creates a moment in your life when you can shift your dependence to something that can never be taken from you. Through it, God can teach us that we may lose our homes, our careers, our marriages, or our health, but we will never, ever lose our relationship with God. He promised to never leave us or forsake us — and that’s an eternal security we can build our lives on.


“We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it . . . we saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us . . . And he did help us and save us . . . and we expect him to do it again and again” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10 TLB).

Even Jesus was not immune to difficulty and pain.  His step father Joseph died.  His friend Peter denied him, his disciple Judas betrayed him and John was his only disciple at the cross when he died.


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