Titus: In the Head, the Heart and the Hand (also…in the rear view mirror)

  • Friday, April 29, 2011
  • It HAD to be the “call” of God. Why else would a small-town, Platte Valley preacher be receiving an unsolicited phone call from the search committee chairman of an island congregation? And not GRAND Island. It was a HAWAIIAN island! And to make matters more confusing, the contact call came in February. This HAD to be a call from God!

    Island attraction motivates grown people to spend hard-earned cash for the delights of a few days’ pleasure. My generation sees an ad in the paper, or the sidebar on a magazine layout, and our minds immediately think of warm sun, sandy beaches, unhurried mornings, and lazy days. The irresistible call of the islands. A friend of mine once said that it only takes $80,000 per year to live in Lincoln and the rest of your earnings can be spent on island vacations!

    Now, one of the many drawbacks to the island “call” is my bride. There are two things she simply does not find desirable. In fact, she finds both of them downright terrifying: flying and water. I have done the research…you cannot drive to the islands. And once you do arrive, you are completely surrounded by water! The one time we DID make it to the islands, we were awake at 4:00 in the morning watching the daily news from New York City. The program was interrupted by a news alert…a hurricane was headed straight toward our island. Takes very little creativity to imagine the reaction in THAT hotel suite!

    Titus got my “call”. As the ministry associate of the great Apostle, he was left behind on the island of Crete. Tough job, but someone had to do it! However, the draw of the destination was not the sunny days, the slow-paced mornings and the lazy afternoons. The lure was the desperate need of the many churches that had been planted there. The purpose for which these fellowships were established was the priority of making the gospel of Christ attractive and available to certifiably lost peoples. The message that rescues by faith alone in Christ alone. The message that moves the believer toward becoming less like himself and more like the Savior. The message that turns the heart from the unfulfilling and bankrupt “pleasures” of self-gratifying addictions to find joy and expectation in the blessed hope of the soon return of Jesus. The “call” for Titus was the hard work of setting remaining issues in order so that the churches on the island would become effective witnesses to the glorious good news; churches that would not simply be safe-harbors for former pagans, but contagious, penetrating and impactful messengers of the life-giving message of hope in Christ.

    Our February call from Honolulu was not the “call” of God. The realities of island fever (the claustrophobia that comes from being completely surrounded by water 24/7) certainly had to be considered. But greater than that, the discovery that the calling congregation had a deeply serious issue among the leadership which they did not have the conviction or courage to address made it clear that, as incredibly romantic as it sounded to pastor the Church of the Pacific, God was not leading that way. He simply used that dialogue to dislodge our roots in G-burg and prepare us for the August call that would come from Lincoln. We could drive there and not have to fly. And when we arrived, the largest body of water that would have to be addressed was Holmes Lake.

    The destination was different, but the mission remains the same. To set in order the things which remain, in order that the Church of Jesus Christ might be an effective witness to the glorious good news!

    See you Sunday, Church, as we take the exit ramp and place Titus in our rear view mirror!
    Pastor Tom


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