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Not What I Had Planned

It seems like December is the month to say, “Not what I had planned”. end-of-year

I’m a planner by nature. I wake up at the same time daily, and try to go to sleep at roughly the same time daily. I have routines. I have dress codes for work. I schedule meetings at times in the day with families. I schedule my business meetings in a timely fashion. I generally have my top 10 places to eat meals… you know, life is pretty predictable when it comes to planning and schedules.

Then, out of the blue, the church I was working for, ran out of funding for my salary as Senior Pastor. Didn’t see that coming this year. This year, after 7 years of serving this church, I was granted a sabbatical 3 months off of office work. We took advantage and made some plans for trips to NYC, and Vancouver Island, Canada. We went to Ontario Canada and even to Los Angeles for some sunshine. We returned home to Colorado in August and found that church has spent the savings and giving was down, and wouldn’t recover. We gave it 3 months and the numbers kept declining, much to our chagrin. So we decided to resign the position before getting blindsided by bad news of no more money for staff positions. Didn’t see that coming. Again, not what I had planned.

Now I’m working part time for a local funeral home in town. We get calls, remove deceased, place them in our care, meet with families for services, care for the grieving as best we can, and complete services with burials or cremations. Not what I had planned; and not what they had planned, either. It’s quite the business for sure. I never knew the amount of work it takes to prepare someone for burial, or cremation services. I’ve been a pastor for nearly 30 years in various forms, and have walked with those grieving in many ways for those years, but I never imagined this side of the business it takes to care for the loved ones remaining. Again, not what I had planned.

Then I think about the time of year that it is. December is a month where people tend to say, “not what I had planned”. The passing of a loved one tends to occur more often in the winter than in the summer months, statistically. Many of our grieving families say aloud in our arrangement meetings, “This is not what we had planned”. I couldn’t agree more.

December is also the time of year when we celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the world. King of kings and Lord of lords was born to a young virgin girl, engaged to be married to a young man Joseph. Imagine the conversation Mary had with the Angel Gabriel about the pregnancy, “not what I had planned, but may it be according to your word”. And imagine the dream Joseph experienced with the angel about Mary’s pregnancy. I wonder if his response was “not what I had planned, but I will obey”. And Zachariah heard from the Angel Gabriel about his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the baptizer, and imagine his conversation going something like, “not what I had planned”.

I can’t imagine any of the events that happened in the Bible were something God would say, “not what I had planned”. God is never surprised. Someone posted an image of the manger scene on social media with a meme quote “unplanned pregnancy”. But it sat wrong with me. God didn’t see that pregnancy, the one with his Son, the chosen Messiah for the salvation of the world … that one …, as anything unplanned. God, in His infinite wisdom and total sovereign grace, saw that pregnancy as the most pre-planned event in history. Some 300 Scriptures are linked to predicting that one pregnancy alone. God doesn’t do anything unplanned. And so it is with our lives.

So, when life throws you a curve ball, or events in your life, career, or family dynamics feel like “not what I had planned”, you’re not alone. Everyone feels the struggle of “not what I had planned”… everyone, except God. He knows. He is sovereign. He is not caught off guard. You can rest assured that your life, though confusing to you, may be God’s sovereign work of Grace for others in your world around you.

Maybe you need to hear the words of C.S. Lewis again, “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course, that what one calls interruptions ARE precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one, day by day.” If God is able to see your life as an orchestration of His Divine work, maybe we can learn to see it this way too.

Merry Christmas. May all your plans, and un-plans, lead you closer to Jesus, who was born for you, and relentlessly pursues your heart. He’s not going to give up.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry Calling, Sabbath Rest, Sermons

 

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A Worthy Prayer

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on Ephesians 3:14-21.jon-tyson-YtYNavix3pw-unsplash

Praying takes work. It doesn’t come by us naturally. How goes your prayer life? Do you incorporate prayer into everything you do? As people who follow Jesus, we are called to grow up in our faith, and one of the strongest faith components includes prayer in conversation with God. Pastor Reid preaches on one of his favorite scriptures in the Epistles (click here for the video).

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Leadership, Media, Sabbath Rest, Sermons

 

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A Prayer Worth Praying

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on Ephesians 3:14-21.

praying.together(click here for the video) The Apostle Paul includes a prayer over the church in Ephesus in one of his prison epistles. This prayer has shaped my life as a pastor for 30 years. It is one of Paul’s crowning jewels in prayer over a little church 2,000 years ago. It’s applicable today in so many ways. Paul prays with a confidence that comes from knowing we can enter into God’s throne room at any time and God will hear us. God’s desire is that we utilize the power of God in our daily circumstances so that we might grasp just how unfathomable are the riches of God for us. If we were to realize the full measure of grace God has granted to us in Christ Jesus, we could change the world. This is Paul’s prayer, that we could know the riches of God in Christ. My prayer for the church is that we might move past ourselves and begin to comprehend our location in the heavenly realms in Christ. Nothing can stop the one who believes in the full measure of God in us.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2019 in Leadership, Media, Ministry Calling, Sermons

 

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“Put It All On My Tab”

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on the book of Philemon in the New Testament of the Bible.

caleb-woods-VZILDYoqn_U-unsplashPhilemon was a guy who wanted to seek revenge on a former slave, for some crime done against him. The Apostle Paul sent Philemon a letter, along with the former slave, Onesimus, himself. Paul was asking Philemon to extend the kind of forgiveness to Onesimus that Jesus Christ himself had extended to Philemon (are you still following?). And on top of all this, Paul himself is the one who brought Philemon to faith in God, and brought Omesimus to faith in God also. So Paul is asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus based on the debt he owes back to Paul, “his very life”. I don’t know if we know how to forgive in our western culture, like Paul is asking Philemon to forgive. And even beyond this little book, Paul is asking you and I to learn to forgive like this, so that our witness to the world is like that of Jesus Christ. (click here for video).

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2019 in Leadership, Media, Ministry Calling, Sermons

 

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Remember My Chains

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on Colossians 4:12-18. boatonwater

Nearing the end of his life, the Apostle Paul is thanking friends for walking with him in faith while in prison for sharing the gospel. The gospel is many things. It is sharing the love of Jesus with the world. The word evangelism is getting a bad rap these days. Maybe it’s the word evangelical, which is diving the country, depending on which way you’re looking at it. But the Apostle Paul still wants you to share your faith in Jesus with others. So, the gospel is relational, the gospel is tenacious, and the gospel includes suffering. We don’t like to embrace suffering, as much as we can help it, but even Jesus himself suffered for representing God. How are you representing God through your life today? Does it align with how people in the Bible shared the gospel? If so, good. If not, why not? (click here to view the video)

 

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Stitched Together

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on Colossians 4:7-11.

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The Apostle Paul is now thanking the people who helped him get these letters out to churches, while he sits in prison in Rome. What would be your goal, when sitting in prison? Would you want to reach out to people you don’t know, and share the gospel like Paul did? Paul thanks those around him for their part in his ministry with local churches. I spent the week at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey learning about the Art of Transitional Ministry, and in this video teaching I share with the church the teaching I learned. There are many things a church can do, and many things a transitional pastor can do when leading a church.

 

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A Clear Vision

Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on Colossians 4:2-6.

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Paul is in prison, and writes about how we can encourage one another in the faith. He gives us admonition to be ready to answer anyone for the faith you believe. He recommends that our speech always be seasoned with salt, rather than vinegar. He asks the faith community to pray that God would open doors for the gospel to be shared. I think this “praying for open doors” is a ways of saying we all can look for opportunities to share our faith in God. The clear vision of Paul was that the gospel is relationships and that gospel is life saving in relationships, and that in relationships God is opening doors for His Kingdom to grow and flourish. How are you praying for open doors and open hearts in the lives of your friends? Keep the main thing the main thing, and keep sharing your love for Jesus in this dark world. You never know what God can do.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Leadership, Media, Ministry Calling, Sermons

 

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