Monday, May 22, 2017

This Is How Jesus Makes Plans

27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
~Mark 14:27-28

Even as Jesus told the disciples they would all betray Him, He was planning redemption by telling them where to meet up. This is how I would paraphrase this conversation.

Jesus: You’re all gonna betray me.
Disciples: No way bro!
Jesus: Yep, and I’m gonna die.
Disciples: What???
Jesus: Here’s where we should meet next week.

Is it any wonder the disciples had trouble keeping up with Jesus? But here’s the thing. We hate on these guys because they didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them. We criticize because they didn’t know what was going to happen.

But how often have we had to study and ask to figure out what Jesus was talking about? How often have we known what Jesus was doing in our lives before He did it?

I think we should try trusting Jesus more. He may lead us through some tough times, but He has a plan past the troubles. Just like He told the disciples where to meet up after He rose from the dead, before He was even dead, I believe Jesus is calling us to meet with Him.

The truth is I am in the midst of some fairly big decisions at the moment. I have no idea where I might find myself and my family living within the next 2 months. Yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

But when I pray, I remind God that this is His journey I am on, His plan I'm a part of and it is most definitely His glory at stake. I stand in a sea of question marks right now, but when I find myself on the other side, and my presents becomes my past, foresight becomes hindsight, what is now foggy becomes clear, then I will shout praise to God, who has remained faithful.

This is how Jesus makes plans.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Not Having a Job IS My Testimony Right Now

This isn't what I expected when I made the announcement. To be fair, I'm not sure exactly what I expected. I knew I was taking a step out in faith. Whereas Lebron James was able to famously say he was taking his talents to South Beach, all I could say was that I was taking my talents...

To where? Who knows!

So yes, I have sent out resumes and cover letters. Yes, I have followed up on those contacts. I have done my due diligence.

Nothing yet.

I have been to an interview that looked promising. I have heard back from churches where I didn't make the next step of interviews. Meanwhile, I'm left with my unwritten expectations of what searching for a job would look like.

As it turns out, not getting a job right away to move towards might be the best thing that's ever happened to my family. And it might be the best thing for your family too.

Let me explain.

When I first started having this conversation with people, I got lots of strange looks.

So you're leaving after all these years.~Yep.
And where are you headed?~No idea.
(insert strange look here)
You mean you stepped out of this job with no idea where you're going? Implicit in this question was the idea of paying mortgage, buying food, etc.

That's right. I am currently in the middle of a risk. In about a month, I have no idea where the income will come from before it needs to go where all the expenses go when they leave my hands. To many, it appears like the dumbest thing a guy, with a wife and kids to support, could make. Shouldn't I have been looking before I gave my current source of income an end date?

Actually, no.

Here's why. My wife and I heard some clear messages from God. Change is coming. Trust Me. Ok, God, we can do that. I've taught enough lessons on faith to know that I'm a hypocrite if I can't live this lesson out.

Abraham didn't know where he was heading when God called on him to father a nation. Moses had no clue what he was getting into. Daniel didn't know the lions mouths would stay shut when he obeyed God rather than the king. Read Hebrews 11 and you'll see how many followers of Jesus followed by faith first and were rewarded later, some after their lives ended very badly.

I'm in the middle of my story. I know God will take care of me. I don't know HOW God will take care of me. But I have reminded God many times that I have answered His call, so how this works out is on Him. I'm obediently following God's call, so that when everything works out, I can give Him all the credit, and all the praise.

I have told people here in Winona Lake to live by faith. Now I'm showing them how I walk by faith.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Because Jesus

Because science. That's why. It's the answers parents can give their kids when they don't know the real answer. It's the answer that movies who delve into science fiction can use when they don't know how to get their hero out of the trouble he's found his way into.

Because science. But it's not the only way to shut down a debate.

I remember coming across a quote from someone who was clearly angry with Christians. He listed all the many things Christians have done wrong throughout history. The crusades, holy killings, and the attempted extinction of people groups in the name of religion. He went on to decry the hypocrites that do whatever they want for six days of the week and then find themselves in church one day of the week. He ended his rant with, ‘but it’s all ok, because Jesus.’

He was very angry. But quite frankly, he summarized the Gospel perfectly. We shouldn’t seek to abuse God’s grace, but all of the wrong things we do can be forgiven and washed away, because Jesus. We can be redeemed and find purpose in our lives, because Jesus.

It is quite possible that this next statement will cause you to relate to me or consider me the worst pastor ever. Possibly both. But here it is anyway...

There are times when I get to reading the Old Testament that I forget (for brief moments I assure you) just how amazing Jesus is. A return to reading one of the Gospels, of course, rectifies this issue.

But the same thing happens at times in churches. We get to discussing other matters. It can cause us to forget (even for brief moments) how amazing Jesus is. Until we are reminded.

I have mentioned here and here about my upcoming transition from my current church. It only seems fitting that I will spend this time reminding my teens of the only One who should truly amaze them.

Why? Because Jesus.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Just How Big is God?

God is so much higher than we are, we can't even comprehend the difference. This very thought should lead us to worship a God who is incomprehensibly greater than us. Rather, it too often leads us to scoff. We attempt to make God in our own image, instead of the other way around.

This is why Jesus was without honor in Mark 6.

Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
~Mark 6:1-3

Verse 2 says they were amazed, and then in verse 2b the people attempt to bring Jesus back down to Earth. Do you see this? This isn't a little bit later in the story. It's in the same verse! 

We're amazed...wait a second! I don't think we should be amazed. I take back my amazement.

God’s ways are higher. God’s thoughts are higher. A couple of months ago, during our midweek children's ministries meeting, our teacher was sharing and there was a kid who asked how God could know the future if He wrote the Bible in the past. 

Remember when you used to ask questions like that? I don’t recall exactly how she answered, but it was something along the idea that God knows the future, and for most of us, that answer would suffice. We would just nod our heads and acknowledge this truth. (That is, if we were even still paying attention.) But this kid’s head just about exploded. Now he had multiple questions.

It struck me that we should all be blown away by God. But as adults we like to pretend that we get it. That we get God. But we don't get God. And thinking that we can somehow get God is what gets us into trouble.

Do we even comprehend how arrogant this is? We get God? We understand God? We can explain God?

It's a problem that we think we get God.

But then along comes a pastor who tells us, or rather shows us, that God is so much bigger, even more than we considered. But understand this, no matter how big he paints God to be, he does so with a limited mind himself. 

So no matter how largely he tries to describe God,!