Saturday, October 20, 2012

The "Specs"

Some time ago my son said to me, "daddy I want to read the Bible, where should I start?" Those are the kinds of words I long to hear from my children, and my wife and I looked at each other and smiled a look of “well, now maybe we are getting somewhere with this one after all.

So, I said to him, “you know buddy a good place to start is John, because it’s written in a way that is fairly easy to understand.” He said “Ok, daddy, I’ll find John.”

He then proceeded to open the Bible and say “Old Testament, here we go” and he started by sounding out and trying to pronounce every book of the Bible that he came across on his mission of flipping through each page to find John.”

It was very funny as he announced each book he encountered on his way.

Every book he came to had a unique pronunciation as he proudly proclaimed another new find on his quest.

I so badly wanted to say “You know Ethan, you can just go to the front of the Bible and look up the page number for John and go directly to it”, but there was something fun and fascinating about having him discover it on his own, so I kept quiet.

I was thinking about that whole discovery process, and how awesome it is when a person not only discovers what they believe but actually owns it.

That’s one of the things I love most about ministry. When a person takes what they’ve been taught and digs deeper to validate it against God’s standard, and wrestles and fights with it and comes out saying…Yes, this is true and it is my belief…I love that!

As Ethan kept flipping and proclaiming his findings he came to Jeremiah, and my mind went immediately to one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11 which says… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I started thinking about God and His plans, and how amazing it is to think that the creator of everything has a plan that includes me. I then started thinking about how things change in our lives when we know His plan, accept it and begin to obey it.

Life starts to make sense, and decisions that we make begin to have purpose and meaning, and aren’t just some random choice based on how we feel that particular day.

Then out of the blue I remembered one of the best youth retreats we ever did, and how important knowing the plans made in our adventure.

You see, I was a part of a Youth Pastors network in New Hampshire and Maine back in the 90’s and it was a challenging and encouraging group of guys that I was plugged in with.

These Youth Pastors loved God and had an incredible passion to reach young people for Christ. They were even willing to look beyond the fact that I was from the “Evil Empire” living in the heart of “Red Sox Nation.”

We did some purposefully fun activities together, and not only did my relationship with my fellow Youth Pastor buddies grow, so did the relationships with the teens we had in our groups. It was a win win all around.

One day one of the guys who lived in Portland, Maine suggested that our groups partner up and rent a boat from Portland Harbor and head out about 10 miles from the coast to a deserted Island for a weekend camping trip.

I thought that sounded like a great idea, so I ran it past my group, and they were totally in as well!

So we started planning for the trip with things like tents, coolers, food, bug spray, more food and anything else you could think of to make a camping trip on a deserted island an event to remember.

The whole time we were planning I never once mentioned the name of the island to my group, in fact I wasn’t even sure of the name of it myself, I didn’t think it really mattered.

It was a deserted island off the coast of Portland harbor, that was all I needed to know. Then one of my students asked the question “Pastor Brent, what’s the name of the island we’re going to?”
I said “I’m not sure, does it really matter?” he said “no not really, it’s just my grandfather was asking because back in World War 2 he was stationed on an island off the coast of Portland Harbor, and was wondering if it might be the same one.

I told him I would find out and get back to him. So I called my friend and asked him the name of the island, and he said it’s called “Jewell Island.” I said “thanks man”, and hung up. I then called the student back and said ‘it’s called Jewell Island.”

He was like, “no way…this is too cool!” I said “why, what’s going on?” He went on to tell me that Jewell Island was where his grandfather was stationed, and underneath the 2 mile long by 1 mile wide island were a series of bunkers, and tunnels and really cool World War 2 stuff, that needed to be explored.

He then said something that made my heart start to beat a little faster…He said “and my grandfather has the plans to the whole island…we’re going to rule in capture the flag!”

You see that was one of the selling points I used with my group of adventurous guys. Capture the flag on a deserted island 1 mile wide by 2 miles long was all I needed to say. Now that I knew we had the plans to a secret underground world, it made it even more alluring.

It was so funny how this little tid-bit of information changed the whole planning process for the trip. No longer were we concerned about tents and bug spray, we now had planning meetings to lay out our tactical maneuvers based on the plans or specs as we referred to them.

Now this was before the days of instant access on the internet, so what we possessed was like gold. It was our secret, and we couldn’t wait to employ the plans and unleash total domination!

Well, the day finally came; we loaded up the boat and along with the other youth groups headed to Jewell Island for a weekend adventure we would never forget.

As soon as we landed, we set up camp, and gave everyone about an hour to do a little exploring and meet back in the middle for a debrief and explanation of the first game…Capture the Flag.

The rules were simple, the middle of the island was the dividing line and each team had one end of the island to hide their flag and defend it from the other team. The only thing the other groups didn’t know anything about were the plans that we had in our possession.

The game began and needless to say we dominated that game like it has never been dominated before.

We hit the tunnels, and passage ways and bunkers that the rest of those rookies knew nothing about.

Then flawlessly time after time popped up, behind enemy lines, discovered the flag and hit the tunnels to return back to our side and declare victory, it was a thing of beauty!

We had the plans, and it made all the difference. Our team was unified, motivated and knew their role, it was a well oiled machine!

So as I was driving with my wife and son, and heard him say Jeremiah, I immediately thought about 29:11, and immediately praised God in my mind, that He has the plans. The plans to my life and your life, and the plans He has are for Good, and will bring a future and a hope.

That is awesome to me, and is one of the reasons that I do ministry, and have been doing it for a long time. I love it when a person “gets it”, that God has a plan for Him or Her and that plan is going to enable them to find purpose and meaning, and if followed directly will bring God’s kind of success.

How cool is that? God has a plan, and His schematic includes me and includes you!
The "Specs" for a future and a hope from the maker of it all…now that’s a plan!

1 comment:

  1. dude great job on this one. i don't think u ever told that story to us. or u did and i was not there. lol. so did Ethan ever find the book of John? i hope he did. it's so true that God has a plan for us and everything will work out. keep up the great work!