I have often found it difficult to make decisions. Have you?
Sometimes decisions are easy for me and I don't need to think much about them. I don't think God really minds what the outcome is for these decisions. However sometimes those decisions are difficult and God has a vested interest in the outcome.
I remember a wonderful week I spent in Germany in 2001. Alison was in London for a week at a summer school so instead of spending my days alone I hopped on a plane to Germany and visited my family. I was hoping to just hang around and soak up some of the local sights. My very generous uncle had other plans. He wanted to take me on a cultural tour of Germany. We spent a week driving through culturally significant towns like Hameln (from the Pied Piper story), visited Weimar to see the house of Gothe and we also saw the room in Wartburg Castle where Luther translated the bible into German. It is an experience I will never forget and I will always be grateful for. Whenever we stayed overnight we would go to the local Rathaus or Keller. My choice from the menu was easy. I would ask what the specialty of that particular restaurant was and I would order that. this can be a more difficult decision for some people particularly if they are not adventurous eaters!
Luthers Room Wartburg Castle 2001
Some decisions I have made have been agonising though. I have fretted and stressed about whether I was making the right choice or not. Giving up my career to go into ministry was one of these decisions. Ultimately I felt a strong sense that no matter how scary the decision was I just had to trust God and jump in with both feet. When I studied my first subject at university level and passed I felt encouraged that I had made the right choice. When a church hired me as their student pastor I again felt a confirmation of the choice I made. When I received my first call to be a sole pastor of a congregation I received confirmation again. I have received many confirmations along the way to encourage me that I had made the right choice.
I want to be clear that I am NOT saying that if you make the right choice everything is easy, because in my journey I have also faced obstacles which have also encouraged me that I had made the right decision. We Christians sometimes call this a "spiritual attack". Often when I face an obstacle while trying to do something for God I ask almost out loud "why is this happening now?" and I hear God tell me "because you are making the right choice and it will be hard".
Jesus is the perfect example of making a decision and facing discouragement for example in Luke 22:42 he prays
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."(NLT).
Jesus goes on to die on the cross for our sins. God used that choice to enable us all to have a relationship with him through the forgiveness of our sins and the inauguration of the new kingdom in the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
Some decisions are hard and you won't always feel warm and fuzzy after making them. They may also cause you discomfort and trouble. You may have to jump in and ask God to take over. But if you make these important decisions for God and his plans for you, then he will bring glory to the outcomes.
10 am Sundays at
PoBox 340 Wallaroo SA 5556
Mobile; 0432 017 025
65 Owen Terrace
Wallaroo SA 5556
PoBox 340 Wallaroo SA 5556
Mobile; 0432 017 025
Our Pastor: Rev Markus Schmid
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I have just spent most of this week on a Renewal Retreat with 6 other ministry leaders, 3 hours away from home near Mannum SA. As I usually do, I used my GPS to direct me. My GPS device has a female voice that gives instructions which I have named Lola. Lola can be quite bossy “in 100 meters turn right” but she also cares about me because after 2 hours of driving she informs me that I have been driving for 2 hours and would I like her to find me a suitable place to take a break. Sometimes I listen to Lola and sometimes I feel confident that I can ignore her.
Pastors in the BCSA (Baptist Churches of South Australia) can as part of their continuing accreditation choose to engage in the Renewal Retreat Program. This is a 2 year program where up to 8 pastors covenant together in fellowship and support, taking 2 retreats a year together - one 24 hour and one 3 day retreat each year. We meet and share our stories, trials, cares, woes and joys in a safe structured and confidential manner (what is said on retreat stays on retreat). This time together was our final gathering for this group and next year a new group will be formed that will continue to support one another.
I have heard some people make fun of retreats as though they are some kind of fringe benefit of being a pastor. Comments like “you were all hard at work then?” or “it’s tough for some” tend to get bandied about. While I do admit that going on a retreat is not an onerous task, I have found it to be vital for the health and longevity of ministry. I have previously mentioned taking holidays is vital and that ministry is a marathon not a sprint. Retreats are another function of making ministry a lifetime commitment and we all have a good example to follow.
Jesus took time out in the midst of ministry (Mark 6:31-32), before making major decisions (Luke 6:12-13) and after major events (Matt 14:22-23) to pray and restore himself and he taught his disciples to do the same. This is not just something that is important for pastors but any follower of Jesus regularly needs to take heed of Jesus’ example. This is not an instruction we should choose to ignore.
If we don't pull over and stretch our legs, have drinks and rest a moment we might make a mistake that causes an accident or we might not be vigilant of the actions of others or we may not notice changes in the road conditions.
Psalm 46:10 says:
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.” (NLTse)
but Eugene Petersen’s Message version says:
"Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
We regularly need to “step out of the traffic” to be the most effective followers of Jesus that we can be.