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January 4, 2018, 1:23 PM

a time of change


If it weren’t for Nicole, I’d be that guy who goes to the same restaurant on the same day of the week, sits in the same place, and orders the same dish.  I like routine.  I like tried and true.  I like dependable and reliable.  I like simple.  I don’t like change.

I’m not anti-change.  Sometimes I get really excited for new things.  But most of the new things in my life are not my idea, not my default position, not my modus operandi.  So in my personal life, I am blessed to have Nicole and the boys, who keep things lively and interesting.

I don’t need anyone in particular to keep things interesting for me on church side of my life, however.  That happens naturally.  People move into the area and join the church, and then they move away.  I visit someone for years and years, and then they are transferred to the Church Triumphant and are with God.  Elected leaders are termed out, and a cycle of turnover is completed and begins again.  Called workers are led by God to serve elsewhere.  First a DCE (2010).  Then a Senior Pastor (2014).  Then another DCE (2018).  And I’m here, that guy who likes routine, the guy who likes tried and true, the guy who likes things simple and reliable—I’m here not only as “a guy” at church who has to cope with change and pitch in where I can, but I’m “that guy” who is supposed to oversee the transition and make sure we successfully set a course for the church (if you want to use a directional metaphor) so we can fill our vacancy and grow this Body of Christ (if you want to use a biological metaphor).

I’m not feeling ready for 2018.  Oh, you can be sure that we are hard at work making plans for the interim.  I think what we have in the works is a good plan.  We’ll follow all the proper channels before making any public announcements, but you can watch for them in the near future.  Plans for the interim will hopefully fall into place quickly, since the need is great and ministering to our children and youth is of utmost importance.  However, the “permanent” solution, calling someone to fill the vacancy, may take a while.  The process is unpredictable.  But the process is designed so we have an opportunity as a church to reflect, regroup, pray, trust, focus on the mission, and make decisions together with God’s Word in our minds, a prayer on our lips, and His love for all in our hearts.

Past experience has taught me that even in changes that feel like a loss, God is able (and does!) work good things.  When we “lost” our DCE in 2010, it brought Korey and Tiffany and family to us.  What a blessing!  And Pam was added to our staff.  What a blessing!  When we “lost” our Sr. Pastor in 2014, it ended up bringing Pastor Chris and Jessica and their son to us.  What a blessing!  And now that we have “lost” our DCE again, we can trust that God has a plan, a good plan in store for us.  Though we are challenged, we will be blessed.  And you can be sure that whatever it looks like for us to fill our youth ministry needs, we will be able to thank God for the provision.  Not someone we can call “better” or “worse” than before.  Not someone who is perfect (hint: no church workers are; far from it!).  But a worker or workers who is/are different, gifted, flawed, talented, and strengthened by God’s Spirit for the task.  It will be change.  But God’s promises are sure and trustworthy, so He will be with us in the midst of transition and beyond.

Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to cope with another vacated office at church and the extra work that entails.  Truth be told, I’m (literally) limping this morning, and I don’t know why.  I have a pain in my hip.  It’s probably a sign that I’m another year older.  Or maybe I pulled a muscle or tweaked a ligament playing dodgeball with the FIRE kids last night.  But as I’m thinking about BSLC’s ministry and feeling some hip pain this morning, I’m recalling the account in Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestled with God and refused to let go until he received a blessing.  God touched his hip flexor, and he came away limping—a constant physical reminder (albeit a strange one!) that God had given him a new name and a promise.

I’m no Jacob (though I am part of the New Israel, the Church). I did not wrestle anyone last night, and I did not see God’s face.  But it’s not wrong for me to wonder (is it?) if my hip pain is a blessed reminder from God to wrestle with all this in prayer, and cling to His every promise, and to not let go until we at BSLC see His blessing.  Maybe I’ll take some Ibuprofen.  Maybe I’ll let it hurt for a while as a reminder.  I don’t know about that.  But I do know that I will pray.  And trust.

And work.  And I am confident that you all will work with the ministry team here at BSLC.  I am joyful that I still have an excellent ministry team to work with in Pastor Chris, Tiffany, Pam, and Dawn, and a host of other leaders who are faithful disciples, using their time and abilities for service in the Church.  In the (almost) forty year history of this congregation, time and time again, God has provided.  This church has persevered.  Christ has been championed in the community and in the lives of the members.  The Word has been taught.  The sacraments have been given.  God’s love has been shared.  Many have been baptized, taught the faith, sent into their vocations to serve their neighbors.  Some have been carried safely home to be with Jesus.

In this world of continual change, there is one constant: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  That brings me great peace and hope as I contemplate all our recent change and the transition ahead.  It helps me to rejoice in all the good changes (we have a new roof, security cameras, a gorgeous new sign).  It helps me to be hopeful in our intentional changes (moving confirmation instruction, other various ministry adjustments).  It helps me to have peace when change is thrust upon us (the DCE vacancy).  Jesus is our salvation.  Jesus is the message.  Jesus is our strength.  Jesus is our reason and purpose.  Jesus is the Lord of the Church.

He’s got this.  I don’t.  I’m just...

..that “guy”,

Pastor Jon


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