11 I shall remember the deeds of [i]the Lord;Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all Your work, And muse on Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
On January 8, 2017 Reasons for Hope* is celebrating our sixth anniversary. Truth be told, I had no idea if we would make it or not. Masami and I knew that we were being moved into a new phase of ministry, but we weren’t sure just what it would entail.
As I reflect on everything that has happened, I’m overwhelmed. I honestly thought that God was done with me in ministry and was sending me back to Air Traffic Control. From a worldly standpoint, that was the “best” thing that could have happened to us. All I have to do is work 4 more years for us to receive a substantial retirement income from the FAA and we’d never worry about money again.
It just didn’t make sense that those doors didn’t open. The FAA is hurting for Controllers and I definitely have the experience to make it in whatever facility they could place me, yet I couldn’t get hired!
We thought that maybe God wanted me to work as a Youth Pastor somewhere. I definitely have a heart for the younger generation and believe that the Body of Christ has to reach out to them. Those doors didn’t open.
Instead, the Lord opened doors for continued ministry, and in unimaginable ways. I received phone calls from Pastors and leaders that I had never met opening their doors for us to speak. I’ll share some of those in the future. God truly made it clear that He was in control.
I’ve never been very good at sitting still and have a hard time waiting for things to happen. My tendency is to judge success on results. As a controller, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt if I had done a good job or not in any given day. That was very easy to quantify. Ministry, now that’s a different story. I had no idea how to know if I’d been successful. A short time prior to leaving the FAA to go full-time into vocational ministry my Pastor in Illinois gave me some advice that changed everything.
He had been asking me for 3 months how ministry had been going and I didn’t know how to respond so I joked it off. “Nobody, slept!” or “Nobody threw anything at me!” I just didn’t know how to respond. After 3 months of the same question I finally told him the truth.
Me – “Pastor, I don’t know how to answer that question. I’ve been in meetings where the person is droning on and on and I’m feeling like I’m in the “Twilight Zone” and time has stopped. At the end of the meeting I see people go up and tell them how good it was and how much they got out of it. Because of those experiences I don’t put a lot of stock in the, “Good jobs!” After some speaking though I’ve had youth come up and tell me how excited they are and that they want to start sharing with their peers. I’ve had fathers come up and tell me that they’re committing to being a more godly example. I even had a Pastor at the end of a weekend conference confess to his congregation that he’d been “double minded” and was now going to put both feet firmly on the Word of God. That’s the only time I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
My Pastors response still resonates with me all these years later. He said to me:
Pastor Z. – “Carl, you’re wrong!”
Ouch! That hurt, but I discovered he was right.
Me – “Why’s that Pastor Z.?”
Pastor Z. – “How long did Noah preach as they build the boat?”
Me – “Somewhere between 50 to 120 years.”
Pastor Z – “Carl, How many people responded?”
Me – “Seven.”
Pastor Z. – “If you base your success in ministry on the response of others, you’ll always be very lonely in ministry. You’ve got to ask yourself, were you obedient. If you were obedient, you were successful regardless of the response of others!”
God tells us in John 14:15:
If you love me, you will keep My commandments
Amen! Before the Lord I can tell you that we’re doing our best to be obedient and God has done more than I could have ever imagined during this time. It doesn’t matter if there’s 1 or 10,000 in front of me, I give them everything I’ve got and try to point them to the Lord and His Word.
Psalm 77 is a challenge to remember and reflect on what God has done. So, I thought as 2016 winds down we’d share some bright spots and low spots from the last 6 years. Next time, “Bright Spot” #1!
Until then . . . Stay Bold!
Reasons for Hope, Inc (rforh) is an apologetics ministry with a mission to equip believers to fulfill the command found in 1 Peter 3:15. To fulfill our mission, Reasons for Hope offers a ministry team of speakers and writers, a website, store and social media with educational and motivational biblical resources in print, electronic and audio/video.