For such a time as this... 08/18/2011
Joseph told his brothers, “now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:5
God sends us… and sometimes God sends us into situations that we don’t understand. Or sometimes God withholds the blessings that we expect should be ours. Depending on our measure of faith we ask God, why? Sometimes we shake our fist at God and get downright angry. I say, that’s okay, God can take it. The Psalms are fullof people crying out to God and asking “why Lord why?” I confess to shaking my fist at God a time or two.
I thought I might share part of a letter that I wrote to the District Superintendant of the North Coast district of the United Methodist Church, where my home town, Berea, is located, asking for a church appointment. I wrote: My work experience includes nearly five years at Berea Children’s Home and Family Services, as well as Missions Coordinator for the former River of Life new church start in Olmsted Falls. I am passionate about strengthening and growing the United Methodist Church through evangelism. I would prefer a part-time appointment in an urban church, perhaps even a cross-cultural appointment, but I am willing to serve where ever there is a need.
I guess he picked up on the part about, “where ever there is a need” because the part about the urban church seemed to get right by him. North Liberty UMC is not an urban church… though you might stretch it to a cross cultural appointment. The suburban life that Sherri and I are used to is very different from the country life that we are experiencing here at North Liberty. But I’m not shaking my fist at God over this. No, Sherri and I are falling deeper and deeper in love with North Liberty every day we spend here.
It’s like Psalm 37, verse 4, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give us the desires of your heart." I used to think that meant that God would give me what I desired. But that is not the promise. Rather, God will put the desires that are the very best for you into your heart, when you delight yourself in Him. Sherri and I are delighted to be here and be part of this church, though it is certainly not what we asked for!
I pledge that I will do everything I know how to do to invite people to come and be part of our church fellowship, that we would make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I pray that God has put us here for such a time as this. Of course I can’t do it alone. As pastor, my job is not to do it alone. A pastor’s job is to equip the flock to do evangelism. We must all work together as one body to enter into relationships with people, to respectfully inquire about their spirituality, to offer the opportunity to join our fellowship and understand that more than likely they will say no.
I was a salesman for seventeen years and before that I worked in marketing. I knew that I would have to hear five or six “nos” before I ever heard “yes, I would like to place an order”. Ironically, that statistic holds up in church work too. Typically an “unchurched” person has to have between five and six invitations before they will respond positively to an offer to attend church. Now please don’t go and ask your neighbor every day this week, hoping that by next Sunday they will be ready to come. But if you invite one person, and you invite one person and you invite one person, then I’ll ask them the other five times. Well, that’s not entirely true either, but I do have a hundred and one ideas of how we can offer simple acts of Christian kindness to show the love of Christ and to invite others into our fellowship. Sherri keeps telling me to take my time, let folks get used to you, and she is right. We need to grow in love together. What we want to do here is simply to add our love to yours, for the glory of God.