Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Chapter

Today officially ended a chapter in our family's life. Today was our last day as the youth pastors at Living Waters in Kissimmee. Though I started officially in the office at Abundant Life last week, I now am about to dive in headlong, 100%. I am serving as an associate pastor, and handling the financial things, running Quickbooks, doing payroll and membership things. I'm also handling the monthly newsletter and weekly bulletins.

We still have to sit down and work out pastoral duties, but I'll be doing some outreach, and do I ever have ideas!

Life is full of "new chapters". The Bible gives us several examples of people who had a call from God, and had to walk away from something to fulfill it. I take comfort it that, because it can be a stressful time when you leave something familiar to venture into territory that you've never been to. I think of people like Abraham leaving the familiar and following after God to Canaan. I think of Jacob, after 20 years of serving his uncle, took his family and left when God said it was time. Then there was Elisha, whom Elijah found plowing in his dad's field with 12 oxen. Elijah tossed his cloak on him, and Elisha immediately knew what was happening. He killed the oxen, and cooked them up. He had a feast with his family eating the animals he'd work with. Why? He wanted nothing to go back to.

But my favorite "new chapter" story isn't found in the Old Testament, it's right there in the Gospels. Jesus, though he is God's son, grew up with Joseph as his guardian and step dad. He learned Joseph's trade, carpentry, and that was he did until he about 30. Then one day, Jesus knew that it was time. He went out to where his cousin, John the Baptist was. He was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Jesus walked into the water, and asked John to baptize him. John, knowing that he was the Messiah, objected to baptizing him, but Jesus said it was necessary. So John dunked him.

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Sinners got baptized. Gentiles wishing to convert to Judaism got baptized. But Jesus? He had no sin to repent of. Maybe he was identifying with his people. But I want to focus on another idea. I think he was partly marking a new chapter in his life. He had been the carpenter. He made tables and chairs. Maybe he built houses and fixed them up. But those hands that once would make new furniture would soon make blind eyes see. Those hands would heal the lame. They would raise the dead. And, ultimately, those hands would be pierced on an old, rugged cross to make sinful humans new!

The Jordan marked it off. Significant life changes are "Jordan moments". We have those times when what we are used to, what's familiar to us has to move out, so we can go on to what lies next in God's plans for us. Mine now is crossing the line between Osceola and Polk counties, as I move on from Kissimmee to Lakeland.

Yeah, these times can be fearful. But, when we look at that great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) from the Bible, it's more comforting to read their stories and know that if they made it, so will I. So press on to the Jordan, friends. Don't be afraid to face that new territory. God is with you!

God bless!

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