From the Pastor’s Desk Column for 2/2/09

Every so often, I get to contribute a column in the local paper.  It is a shared ministry of the local pastors in Langdon.  Since most people who visit here don’t get the Cavalier County Republican on a regular basis, I plan to “reprint” the columns here.

For years, one of my favorite Bible verses has been Jesus’ promise to his disciples in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This promise goes against the grain in modern society. God didn’t promise you an easy life, or a cushy anything this side of heaven. If we believe Jesus, we should expect the opposite. Many have somehow fallen victim to the myth that God is working all things together for our good. That is not what the verse says. The verse says that He is working all things together for good, but He isn’t consulting us for our opinions of what that good is or should be. He certainly didn’t consult Joseph in Genesis for his idea of “good”, because I am fairly certain that being sold as a slave, being falsely accused and thrown in prison and such wouldn’t have been a part of his plan or list of “good things”. But we find Joseph telling his brothers in Genesis 45:7-8, “God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”

When I was a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then, when I was 13, I was throwing rocks in the yard at some friends and a rock unexpectedly hit me in the eye at the exact moment that I turned around. The rock cut my eye open and ruined all my plans in an instant. This was not a “good” thing for me. At the time, I was a nominal follower of Christ. I had made a public confession and been baptized a few years earlier, but I lived my life the way I wanted to with enough “religious knowledge” to put on a good show if need be. After the accident, a family from our church gave me a get well card that I still have to this day. Inside it says, “God always has a Plan B”. I thought, God could still heal me or something else to make the plans I had work out “good” the way I always knew they would.

It is safe to say that I am not an astronaut, now or ever. But it has been amazing to behold what can happen in a life that is yielded completely to God. Going wherever He leads and doing whatever He says. I am not perfect even in my pursuit of Him and His ways, but I am determined to belong to Jesus Christ and to follow Him the best way I know how. I discovered that God never had a plan B. Just like Joseph, I learned that what looked like the worst of all disasters can be used by God in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The only plan B around at all was mine, and I had to let it go to pursue the only plan A worth having. I can’t promise anything to anyone. God isn’t someone we can bargain with or control. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and asks for nothing less than our complete obedience and submission to His authority as such.

When we preach a gospel that tells people otherwise. When we lead people to believe that God is there to give them the best things in life or that He only wants to help them have a better life or even the innocuous sounding “has a ‘great’ plan for your life”, we are leading them into disappointment and disillusionment! Life doesn’t become easy or “magically better” just because we have decided to follow Jesus. For some brothers and sisters in Christ, life is usually much more difficult because of their decision and the persecution it brings. As a minister, I am not immune to life. Those preachers on TV get sick too you know. Jesus promised that if you live in this world, you will have trouble. He didn’t say might have trouble, or you will have trouble until you become a Christian and then it will end. To quote on of my favorite movies, “Life is pain, highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something.” I don’t know about you, but I am not “selling” Christianity.

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Cavalier County Republican pastor's desk column, Christianity, Discipleship | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “From the Pastor’s Desk Column for 2/2/09

  1. Not a whole lot of, Your best life now in that article! Your local paper is lucky to have you, Good job!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I would love to write the column for the paper more often, but I get a month about every 11 months or so thanks to the rotation. I enjoy writing now more than I ever would have imagined possible. It is part of the reason I have a blog now. I wrote this stuff for a couple of years when no one was even reading it. : )

  3. By the way, if you get bored and have a lot of time on your hands at some point. Go check out the back and forth I ended up having with that agnostic at his blog (it is linked from the other post I made about his stuff). The guy is irrational and possibly insane, so I am done trying to talk to him. It was certainly an eye opening experience. I generally avoid that type because you can’t conduct a coherent conversation with them, but he kept showing glimmers of possibility.

  4. Great column!

    That was the gospel loud and and clear!

    God does have a plan B!

    I’m sorry to didn’t get to circle the earth (yet!), but God sure put you in a place to impact the lives of people for their eternal destiny.

    Keep it up, Jeff!


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