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Pastor Tony Orlando's Identity in the Midst of Crisis | Summary and Reflection

Former Faith Chapel youth pastor and worship leader, Tony Orlando, reminded us that the LORD’s mantle has never left Faith Chapel. He said that if the walls could speak, they would testify to the floods of people seeking salvation at the prayer benches, of the hundreds of baptisms, and of student after student who experienced Jesus at FC. Tony met Pastor George Gregg, was hired by Pastor John Verteufeille, and had the privilege to work with Pastors Gary Jones and Brian Ross. He has had a long history with Faith Chapel and prays for the church as he drives past.

The Scripture from which the sermon was based was Mark 4:35. Jesus was in the stern of the boat sleeping as a big storm came up. Jesus had led His disciples into the storm, and He permitted it to happen. He was with them in the storm and didn’t seem to care that the conditions were so frightening. Pastor Tony before he spoke further asked the LORD to have the Holy Scriptures leap off the page,” and they did.

Pastor Tony experienced his own storms beginning in 2010; on August 22, 2010, he had a secure position in our church and in the denomination. On August 23, 2010, he resigned, and all the titles and security were gone. At thirty-seven years old, he said to the LORD, I am “trusting you to show me what is next.” In 2011, his w-2 form showed his earnings as $11,000. He wondered how they made it through 2010-2011; the LORD was shaping Tony’s identity, and God, the Provider, Jehovah Jireh, showed Himself true to His name. In 2012, Tony and Leah started a new church across town. One morning he just rolled over in bed and felt excruciating pain. He found out that he had ruptured a disk. The LORD was shaping his identity through this physical pain. Tony asked the LORD, "Why, LORD?” Then in 2014, his sister-in-law died at the age of thirty-five from the swine flu. After six months of being in this identity-shaping crisis and continually asking the LORD why, his response turned to “Thank you, LORD, for trusting me.” Gratitude took the forefront. With identity-shaping crisis after crisis reforming his identity, Tony began seeing these hard times as opportunities to thank the LORD and praise Him for trusting him with them.

Back to the boat-the disciples were in such a raging storm with violent winds. In Mark 4:37 “A furious squall came up, and the winds broke over the boat, so it was nearly swamped. The whirlwind with violent whirling gusts” panicked the experienced fishermen. They were in danger, and in verse 38 “The disciples woke Him and said to him, ’Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’” They felt Jesus had no concern for them. The winds, waves, thunder and lightning blew, threatened, and overwhelmed the disciples. But Jesus heard them, and He hears you. Jesus heard their voices, and He hears your voice!

The waves, winds, thunder, and lightning exposed their weaknesses and fears. When we call out to Jesus, He hears us and is with us. He has told us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He is omnipresent. So, though the storms strip away any strength, ability, intelligence, and spirituality, Jesus is with us in the storm-driven boat. The question Pastor Tony posed was “Would you rather be in the storm with Him or be in the storm without Him?” Of course, I want Him to be with me in any storm, rain, or drizzle. I want to choose Jesus each day.

In Mark 4, Jesus commanded the storm, waves, and wind, "Peace, be still.” Immediately they stilled. Pastor Tony stated, “In the midst of the storms when Jesus speaks, the storm listens and responds.” Instead of stewing about how big our storms are, Tony recommended that we tell the storms how big our LORD is. There is power in the name of Jesus. Speak the name of Jesus over cancer, broken relationships, depression, unemployment, rumors. Remember the song, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name.” Sing that song over these desperate situations.

In our connect class Sunday morning, we learned about the power of praise and worship. Worship invites the LORD to defeat the enemy. Praise silences the enemy according to Zach Neese who cited Psalm 8:2. “Through the praise of infants and children, you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (NIV) Praise shuts the enemy down and is the truth about God.

When Jesus speaks, the storms listen. Jesus knows about the storm. We just have to remember to recognize who He is, call on Him, trust Him, and remember that we are children of the King. For He is our Redeemer, Restorer, and Master. May we be salt and light in this troubled world.

Written by Larry and Annette Linthicum

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