Pastor's Blog

Evangelicals talk about "God things" or "God moments".  I call such things Providence, and reading providence is how I live my life.  In my walk with God I don’t hear voices or see visions, nor do I seek or ask for miracles or signs.  God is welcome to intervene with miracles any time He wishes.  That's up to Him.  Until He does, I read Providence.  I believe that God is always working in, through, and behind the ordinary circumstances and events of life.  To walk with Him, I look at my options, try to avoid folly and sin and try to make the wisest choices.  The choices I make set up the next series of events, along with whatever else Providence adds to the mix – and I make the next choice.

One of the first providences I remember reading had to do with my choice of college.  I had been accepted at Penn State for architectural engineering, but several people suggested, independently of each other, that I demonstrated the gifting necessary for the ministry.  I took that as a Providence that I ought to at least look at career options in ministry.  It was March 1978 and I would be graduating high school in June.  It was late to change course from Penn State.  I knew nothing about Bible colleges or ministry preparation.  The leaders of our youth ministry recommended Bob Jones University in South Carolina.  They happened to be taking a group of prospective students to tour Bob Jones that month and I signed on for the trip. 

Let’s just say that weekend was not one of the best of my life.  I was disappointed with the school.  Bob Jones was definitely not  for me.  It looked like I’d be going to Penn State for architecture.

When I got home my parents excitedly shared with me that while I was away in South Carolina, a group of missionary kids from Baptist Bible College of PA had spent the weekend at our church and led a youth group retreat.  One of those missionary kids had stayed at our house – slept in my bed while I was at Bob Jones – and my parents were quite impressed with him and thought it might be worthwhile for me to look into Baptist Bible College.

There were some odd things about this little series of events.  First, I hadn’t heard ANYTHING about the coming of these missionary kids or this youth group retreat.  To this day I have no idea how that happened.  I was very involved with our youth group.  But somehow this event was never on my calendar.  Second, our church had never had a connection to Baptist Bible College and didn’t have one at that time.  Our pastor was a Lancaster Bible College grad and our youth leaders supported Bob Jones and Word of Life Bible Institute.  How that missionary kids team found its way to our church that weekend I still don't know.  To my knowledge, that particular weekend is the only weekend that Baptist Bible College ever had a connection with my home church.

The unique oddities involved intrigued me.  I trusted that the entire arrangement was of God, and we set up a visit to BBC in April.  Even at that late date, the college welcomed me for a visit.  I sat in on a class on the Psalms led by a professor who ended up becoming one of my favorite teachers.  He was weighty and deep and yet wonderfully practical.  I drank in every word that he said.

Furthermore, the campus of the college was formerly Catholic monastery.  The Catholic architecture created a familiar atmosphere for me, and the biblical teaching I heard fed my soul.  Everything about Bob Jones had seemed foreign, cold, and unwelcoming.  Everything about BBC fit me.  I didn’t agonize in fasting and prayer about the decision, worrying about whether I was "in God's will".  I “read the providence“, applied to the school, and was accepted.  I took the acceptance, even at such a late date as a providence, and began my college career there in September 1978.

That is the first providence I recall reading -- the first of many that have led me up to this very day.

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