Thursday, October 20, 2016

Forgiveness as Worship

The picture, by the way, is one I took and used in the
message on Sunday about worship.
Yesterday God showed me how two things in my life fit together. 

First, someone I care about has been going through a hard time. This involves some other people, and so I am hurt and angry for this person. I want those people who have hurt them to "get what is coming to them". I want them to "feel the way they've made us feel". Basically, I want revenge. It's not pretty, but there it is.

Add to that a message about worship that I preached last Sunday. I said worshipping Jesus resolves my heart problems. That's a nice statement. Fairly concise. Theologically and Biblically correct. I even gave lots of nice examples that made it applicable for people. However, these two came together for me yesterday. My anger and desire for revenge plus the message of the sermon.

And here's what came out the other side. Forgiveness is worship. Forgiveness is worship. Forgiveness is worship.

Forgiveness, not the I'm going to pretend that I'm not hurt by what you did type of forgiveness. But the I'm-going-to-pray-for-God-to-change-my-heart, I'm-going-to-stop-filling-my-mind-with-hateful-thoughts type of forgiveness. The type of forgiveness that understands that I forgive not for anyone else, but for me and my relationship with Jesus. The type of forgiveness that knows that unforgiveness leads to bitterness and a poisoned heart. That's the type of forgiveness that is worship. And it is an oh-so-costly type of forgiveness because it feels like everything in me wants blood the way David did in Psalm 109:8-15 
May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. -(NIV84)

That's a prayer I've pretty much prayed recently. But here's the thing. This party who has caused pain in my life; I am not their judge. That's why praying this prayer isn't evil, asking God for justice isn't wrong. But taking it into my own hands would be. No, rather he calls me to something different in Ephesians 4:32.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -(NIV84)

So when everything in me seems to be screaming for revenge or justice as I see it. Jesus calls to me saying here's what I want. "You are my son, and my sons focus more on what I have done for them than on what others have done to them. They fixate on the shape of the cross rather than the shape of their own pain. They trust in the God who sees all rather than trust in what their eyes can see of their circumstances. 

And in that choice, the choice to extend forgiveness rather than seek revenge, I am offering the worship of forgiveness. Perhaps the most costly worship I have offered in my life. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Glimpses of God's Hand Throughout Life

My name is Seth Watson, and I am the Young Adult Flock Pastor at New Covenant Bible Church. I look forward to meeting and getting to know you better. One of my core values is authenticity, so in that spirit I want to share my story with you.

Growing Up
I grew up going to Sunday School, Sunday Worship, Sunday night events, and Wednesday night kids programs because my dad is a pastor. I grew up as the oldest of five siblings. When I was around eight years old I prayed with my parents to trust Jesus as my Savior. At this point my childish-faith was largely about “not going to hell” when I died. But the summer of my last year of elementary school I went to summer camp and there made a decision to follow after Jesus in a real way. This was a spiritually rich time of life for me. However, when I got to Jr. High things became more difficult. Living for Jesus was definitely not a popular thing to do at my Jr. High. So I struggled and finally decided that I would pursue popularity and acceptance at almost any cost. I turned to sports, music, and friends in order to gain the acceptance that I craved and I did well, for a while.
A Painful Season
In my junior year of high school, life was good. I was starting on the varsity football team, exactly where I wanted to be. I was dating a popular girl. But the Lord had other plans for me. I got sick, lost 25 pounds, and couldn’t finish the football season. In the off-season I hurt my back which led to a very disappointing senior football season. The god of football had been ripped out of my life. Just a few months after that season ended, the girlfriend who also had been an idol in my life broke up with me - another idol gone. I didn’t get the ACT score or the scholarship I wanted. Disappointment and frustration were mounting in my heart. Looking back I can see God’s hand in all of it. He would not allow other things to be idols in my life.

A Simple Invitation
So heading into college I was at a place of openness to the Lord again. I went to Wayne State College, majoring in pre-medicine. The Campus Crusade for Christ group helped me and the other freshmen move into our dorms. One of the movers invited me to a Crusade meeting and that simple invitation altered the course of my life. I went, and kept on going. That winter I rededicated my life to Jesus at the Denver Christmas Conference. But I still had my plan of becoming a doctor. Over the course of the next couple of years, the Lord began to make it clear that medicine was not what He had for me.

Our Story
At the same time I met Rebecca and we began dating. I interned with my dad at my home church working with the youth for a summer.  It was at this time that I began to feel the Lord leading me to pursue full-time ministry. So Rebecca and I got engaged (2004) and were married (2005). I finished college (2006) and started working as a youth pastor at our church in Wayne, Nebraska. Both Rebecca and I felt the Lord calling us to seminary for further ministry preparation. So in July 2007 we packed up all our earthly belongings, said a tearful goodbye to our friends and family, and drove 12 hours south to Dallas Theological Seminary. We met great friends and grew a lot during our time there. I graduated in May 2011 after four years of study.

Coming to Iowa
We visited New Covenant in January 2011 and were amazed at the healthy family of growing disciples that we found here. After a week of reflection and prayer the Lord made it clear that New Covenant was where He was calling us to be. So, here we are in Cedar Rapids. We enjoy hanging out with friends, being a part of what God is doing in people's lives, watching good movies, reading, drinking coffee, taking walks with our daughters, Annabelle, Abby, and Ellie, and lots of other things. I look forward to meeting you and serving alongside of you here at New Covenant. My email is