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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Serendipity!


Over the many years that I worked with the youth and kids in the various churches that we served at, I always enjoyed putting together special services or retreats that the participants would not only enjoy but also be confident enough to open up and share from their hearts.  In the mid-seventies I found a relatively new small group program called Serendipity by Lyman Coleman.  I was quickly enamored by the program as it lent itself to a fun process of self-discovery that gave its participants a safe place to talk about themselves while yielding more of their lives to Papa God all within a circle of friends.  
This approach used a simple four step method in which a small group of individuals would get to know each other as they walked together through a series of steps that led them into a deeper revelation of the Word while allowing them to open up layers of their lives.  I used this process in a number of settings, but found that the most effective use was in a weekend retreat format.  (My wife and I introduced our youth groups to tent camping experiences from the get go of our ministry – Many times our personalized retreat weekends at a State Park with a hand-picked leadership team was the highlight of the youth’s yearly activities!)
As time went on I continued to employ the technique, but re-wrote each lesson plan to fit the unique needs of the group we were working with.  I firmly believe that this is also the way that Papa God works with the unique needs of each of His children.  Psalm 37:5 instructs us to “Entrust your ways to the Lord.  Trust him, and he will act on your behalf.” (God’s Word ©)  In this particular usage, to “entrust” means “to take the cover off, to lay open what has been veiled or covered up.” (Thayer’s on the Greek translation)
Like the Serendipity program endeavored to do, the Psalmist is encouraging us to go through the steps of increasing our knowledge and therefore our confidence in our friend and Father God so as to allow us the freedom and courage to open up the various areas of our lives that may be hidden to Him.  Once we begin this process we will experience a serendipitous event that we would consider a “fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise” as the word serendipity is defined. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity)
This serendipity in our lives will lead us to a place where the expectations that fire up our faith in the Lord will grow to exponential levels and we will see Him acting on our behalf!  Though out the years, the different churches and within all the various small group sessions we have led, I have never failed to see youth walking away from one of these retreats serendipitously changed, recharged and renewed as they have opened up the closed areas of their hearts to God.
And if it worked in a small group session under the towering Redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park, Standish Hickey State Park (where one of the youth got so excited that he knocked over a lantern and almost burned down the campsite!), Mount Diablo State Park or more recently at Hendy Woods State Park on the way to the coast in Mendocino County, California, it can work in the privacy of your home or wherever else you spend the time to grow in your intimate knowledge of Papa God and thereby find the confidence to lay open the places in your life that were once hidden to Him.
And through it all, you will experience a serendipitous event that joyfully unfolds in and around you.  Before you know it, you’ll be shouting His praises and thanksgivings unto Him for a life that is totally surrendered before Him as Psalm 37:7 declares!  Have a great and serendipitous day today.  Stay harmoniously in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What kind of serendipitous event am I expecting through Him today?”

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