Summary: In His hands, the pain and hurt of life becomes less like scars that have been inflicted on us, and more like character built in us

Less Like Scars

Lessons from Room 247

TCF Sermon

February 24, 2008

Wow. What a few weeks we’ve had here at TCF. New carpet. Missions conference. All good stuff, huh?

It’s a dangerous thing for us regulars in the pulpit to invite people outside the elders to speak to us. Because when a special event like our missions conference is all said and done, that means one of us has to get up here and follow someone in the pulpit, like the dynamic Terry Ligon a couple Sundays ago and then his Q&A with Mary Wednesday night - (didn’t Terry bring a really inspiring missions conference kickoff message?), or the fascinating and provocative, full-of-interesting-information Georges Sada.

My goodness, Terry has lived in the war-torn nation of Lebanon, and gotten kicked out of Egypt for sharing the gospel. General Sada is one who confronted a man of historical significance in Saddam Hussein – who has been up close and personal with a powerful world figure and lived to tell about it.

Me? I bumped into Ted Turner once at a cable TV convention – literally.

You’ve heard the phrase – that’s a tough act to follow? That’s definitely how I feel this morning, especially since I doubt anyone would ever apply adjectives to my preaching like dynamic, fascinating or provocative.

What’s more, it’s hard for me to forget that the last time I was in the pulpit at TCF, I had just left my daughter’s hospital room an hour or so before I got to church. I was in the midst of living the theme we looked at that particular morning – Radically God Dependent.

Just a few days after I preached that message, still in the midst of living it out in a very real way, I was sitting in the hospital room while Lisa slept, reading the Word, thinking about things.

I found tremendous solace and great courage in the Word of God during that time. I found things that I already knew that spoke to me in a deeper, fresh, tangible way.

Isn’t that the way it is sometimes? Things we’ve learned we don’t necessarily re-learn, but God reveals a new dimension to something that He’s already taught us in one way or another. That’s why we can read, and re-read, God’s Word over the years, and still draw fresh insight even when we review very familiar passages.

One of the things God’s been doing in me in the past few years is something we’ve looked at in other sermons. Even last June, on Father’s Day, we looked at this idea that fatherhood for me, and perhaps other aspects of life for some of the rest of you – things such as marriage, school, certain relationships, etc. – these things are not about making us happy, but God intends them as things in our lives that contribute to making us holy.

As such, these are things we might not – probably wouldn’t - choose in advance if we knew the pain and hurt they would bring – but in hindsight, we can honestly say that we are glad we experienced these things. During those several days in the hospital, I believe God taught me a lot. Honestly, I’m not sure I can say that I’m actually glad I experienced it just yet. But, I had to whittle these lessons down to a few key points for this morning.

I want to take the next several minutes to touch on four of the things I learned. As I reflect on these things, they’re beginning to feel less like scars that were inflicted on me, and more like character that God’s building in me. It’s more of what God is doing to mold and shape me into the image and likeness of Christ.

We’ll look at that analogy of looking less like scars, and more like character in closing this morning, and we’ll have a chance to reflect on that idea with a song that I’ve asked Heather to sing as our response at the end. These things we’ll look at today are Less Like Scars – Lessons from Room 247 – that’s the title of this morning’s message.

That’s because I sat for more than 7 of those days in room 247 of Saint Francis South – about 12 hours each of those days. That was the sanctuary of God’s presence – that was the place I learned and reflected on these four things.

Only number one is a fresh insight to me – maybe it isn’t for you because you’re smarter and less thick than I am – the rest are things I’ve seen and learned, but believe God has implanted these things deeper in me recently.

1. there’s a clear connection between relationship, and confidence (or trust)

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