Archive for March 3rd, 2016

Life Long Calling

March 3, 2016

The journey of our lives often take unexpected turns.  Even if we see a general direction, the exact route is often changed by detours.  We should not be surprised if things do not go the way that we expect them to go.

I.  Paul’s Calling:  Acts 26:15-18

 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul is sharing the story of his calling as a part of his defense in court.  His calling was dramatic and powerful.  His life and ministry have had an impact on the world.

My own story is much less dramatic.  I initially worked for my parents in the grocery stores that they owned.  I had done well in high school, but had no interest in going on to college.  I intentionally graduated early, because I had no desire to spend any more time in school.

I worked for my parents full time serving as a manager for one of the stores.  After about a year and a half, I came to the decision that I wanted to do something different.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the pastor at my church encouraged all young people to go to Bible college for a year to get a solid foundation in the Word, so I went off to college at North Central Bible College.

I did well in school.  I enjoyed it and one year turned into two.  In my third year I began to question whether I was truly called to the ministry or if I was simply following the crowd.  I knew that I did not want to go back to the stores.  The idea of the military appealed to me.  My dad had served in the Marine Corps.  I started thinking about signing up.  I spoke with my parents, my pastor, and a teacher from the school.  They all agreed.  If I was called to the ministry, four years in the Marine Corps would not change that calling.  It was not a quick decision.  I started thinking about it around Thanksgiving and I signed up after the new year.

My years in the Marine Corps were good years.  I obtained the rank of sergeant and even had the opportunity to serve as platoon sergeant for a few months due to a shortage of staff NCOs.  It was a great experience and I seriously considered it becoming my career.

However, as I prayed about it, I strongly sensed that I was to return to Bible college, become a pastor and maybe someday teach in a college.

II.  The Steps of a Good Man:  Psalms 37:23

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

I was raised in the Lutheran church.  While in high school I started attending a nondenominational Pentecostal church.  I was very involved with that church for about four years.  Then I returned to the Lutheran church.  When I returned, I appreciated the liturgy and the symbolism even more than I had in my younger years.

When I was in the military I attended a Methodist church for a number of years.  The pastors were good friends and I spent every open weekend as a guest in their house.

When I finished my time in the military I went back to the Assemblies of God college that I had attended earlier.  I met, and married my wife while I finished up my degree there.  Then it was off to seminary.  I attended Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary.  In my second year there, I came to the conclusion that we had “irreconcilable theological differences”.  So now what?  I applied for and received credentials with the Assemblies of God.

When I left the Lutheran church, a member of my youth group gave me a plaque that read “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”.  I have rather wondered at the twists and turns that life had taken, but I do believe that every experience has helped to prepare me for the future that God had for me.

We came to this church in February of 1991.  We have been serving here for 25 years.

I finished my masters degree in 1997 and began teaching philosophy part time  at the college in 1998.

We started the Chi Alpha ministry at the college where I teach in 2010.

We planted a church in December.

Only God knows what the future holds.

III.  Thoughts of You:  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I think that you have heard enough about my story.  I want to encourage each of you to realize that God has a plan for you.  He loves you and wants you to follow the plan that He has for your life.

IV.  Lay Down Your Life:  Mark 8:34-35*

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

We need to be willing to let go of our hopes and plans in order to take up the plan that God has for us.  Sometimes those plans will in fact be the same plans that we already held, but the key is to let God direct our steps.  He has come to give us life.  We can trust Him completely.  He has a good plan for our lives.

V.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

My race is not yet finished, but I want to finish strong.  The goal is not to serve God for a moment, or for a season, but for a lifetime.

Wherever you may be on your journey, know that God has a plan for you.  You can trust Him with your life.  Serve Him not just for a day, but for a lifetime.

These are the sermon notes from 2/7/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week.