Tag Archives: Transition

God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

March 2, 2020

1 Corinthians 1:4-9I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a powerful verse that has been sustaining and keeping us. We are grateful for the grace of God and all that is doing for us and that He is doing through us. While we are waiting for the revealing of God’s will and purposes in our life, we will trust God to sustain us because He is totally and completely faithful. 

With that said, it has been a few weeks since I have posted any thing but I wanted to update everyone on what is happening in our life. For some of my regular readers, that may not know, I resigned as pastor from Peninsula Community Church back in July of last year. At the end of September we transitioned out of the church and moved to Glen Allen, VA to be closer to our kids and grandkids. 

In this season of transition, we have tried to be obedient to the call of God and His direction for our life. We have been reminded that there are times when we do not always understand what God is doing but we must be obedient and faithful to obey His word and His calling. While we did not understand the transition, we needed to take this step so we could fulfill the calling of our next step and for the future of the church in Delaware as they sought for the next pastor. 

Since leaving Delaware, Michelle and I both have picked up jobs and are working full time. We are blessed and know that God is taking care of us in such amazing ways. I have been working for Life Care Medical Transports and Michelle has been working for Kroger. We are so glad for God’s provision in this regard. Next month we move from our daughter’s house to our own place in Glen Allen.

My current jobMy job at Life Care provides an interesting opportunity to interact with the EMS world from a different perspective. We transport patients from hospital to hospital, hospital to nursing home/rehab or to their personal residences. We also assist with those who are not ambulatory with doctors appointments and dialysis appointments. And finally, we do airport transports to meet medical flights coming into and out of Charlottesville or Richmond, VA. 

DissertationI am working on finishing my dissertation. I have sent the last chapter to my editor and hopefully he will have that completed within the next couple of days. Once that is completed I can send the last three chapters of my dissertation to the dissertation committee chair who can then approve these chapters. Once that is completed I can then send the entire document to the committee for approval which will be followed by the oral argument. Once all that is approved, I will officially have completed my PhD and will graduate. This has been a long journey, but the end is near. 

Chaplain Certification In addition to finishing my dissertation, I am pursuing a certification for chaplaincy. I have been blessed to have served in several great organizations in the past as a chaplain. During those times I served because the organizations knew me and invited me into the process. Since I am new to this area and do have the same relationships, I now have to complete the certification process. This requires taking up to four classes which includes a commitment of 400 hours for each class. Each class includes 100 hours of class time and 300 hours of onsite work at a local hospital, nursing home, or other certified facility. To begin the certification process I have to complete at least two CPEs.

Workplace Chaplaincy – One of the jobs I have been pursing is workplace or corporate chaplaincy. This is an interesting facet of chaplaincy as companies hire chaplains to be available to minister to their employees and their families. At this time, there are no openings in the Richmond area but I am pursuing this opportunity any way so when there might be an opening I will be ready to pursue it. My prayer is that something will open up soon.

New Church Home – Michelle and I have found a wonderful church. Finding this church was a work of God. In the 1980s I pastored a church in Bohemia, NY. One of the key families in the church had two daughters that grew up and later moved to the Richmond area. About seven years ago Michelle was on an airplane coming back from a conference in Puerto Rico. She had been delayed in Charlotte, NC, and once she boarded the plane, she heard someone call her name. It was one of the daughters from 30 years earlier. The two of them have kept in touch since then and when we moved to Richmond we asked what church she attended. She stated she attended Hill City RVA. We met her at church the next Sunday and the rest is history as they say. 

We are getting connected and love the pastor and the people at the church. The church has an incredible vision to reach Richmond for Christ by supporting organizations in the city that are impacting the city in positive ways. They do not want to reinvent the wheel where people are already being successful in what they are  doing. They also have a mentality of generosity. For example, in November they encouraged people to consider donating one day’s salary to the church. They received nearly $150,000 which 100% of the funds were used to support local projects and programs in the city. They gave it all way. I also love the church because they encourage the people to be curious about their faith and to ask questions about the church and their faith. They consider no question out of bounds and do not judge anyone for asking questions. Through this process of discovery in being free ask their questions, people are finding Christ and are being encouraged to grow in their faith.  

Lessons – Through this process I have once again been assured of God’s faithfulness and His love for Michelle and I. Below are just a few of the reminders of God’s Grace and the lessons learned over the last few months.

  • God never fails nor forgets us. If I am to be honest, and I am, there have been times over the last few months where I have felt alone and forgotten. I have at times felt a bit like Joseph who found himself in the pit and in prison. I felt the pain of loneliness and confusion about what the future would bring us. When we left Delaware we left many friends and relationships so dear to us. Here in Virginia it has taken some time to build new relationships. While I experienced the sense of loneliness like Joseph, I have also found God in my place of loneliness. The fact is God does no forget us. He does not forsake us. This also meant I had to be intentional about making new friends and building new relationships to counter my loneliness. 
  • I do not have to lead a church to be a pastor. I have questioned God if my season of ministry is over but the calling that God put on my heart more than 40 years ago has been renewed in me again and again. I have been reminded that I do not have to be a pastor to be in ministry. There is a new fire burning in me to consider alternative ways to minister to the people around us and in the communities we touch with our lives. I have found that I am a minister of the gospel not because I am a pastor because I am a passionate follower of Christ.
  • My identity is not in what I do but who I am in Christ. For the first few weeks here I struggled with identity. After all I had been a pastor, a fireman, a chaplain, and more in my previous commitment. But I have been reminded that my identity is not in what I do but in whom I serve. I will never cease to have a pastor’s heart but my identity is not in being a pastor. It is in serving the One who called me and instilled in me a vision for ministry more than 40 years ago. That does not have to be a church, but the field of ministry is wherever God might lead. It could be a church. It could be as a hospital chaplain, marketplace Chaplian, or something I have not considered. 
  • If I trust God and not man, I will not be disappointed. Through the last few months I have had some commitments made and many if not most of those commitments have been broken. But, in this I realized that I was trusting man more than I was trusting God. I was trusting people to come through for me, but I needed to trust God for His provision. When all things are considered, man can disappoint but God does not.
  • Comparing myself to others does not benefit me spiritually or emotionally. This one is a hard one for me. When I arrived here I began to see other pastors I knew who were being successful in major ways in their ministries. Their churches were growing and expanding. They were being sent on sabbaticals to be refreshed and to write. They were being asked to speak at conferences. One pastor was posting pictures of their new building they were erecting. Through comparison I in essence was operating with a spirit of jealousy and envy. I was jealous that I was not experiencing those things. I was becoming envious of other’s successes. But I was reminded that walking in a spirit of comparison which led to jealously and envy did not benefit me or my growth. Thanks be to God, I was able to confess that sin and see that God has washed (and still washing) my heart and spirit.
  • I have been in the wilderness but in the wilderness I am reminded that God is my provider. He provides the meat, the bread, and the water we need. And, He provides it when we need it. We learn that God will lead us with a cloud by day and fire by night. We learn that He does not give us the entire plan all at once even though we wish He would. We learn that our resources will go farther than we ever thought. It is in the wilderness that we learn to trust God so that when we come to the place of promise, we know how to trust Him in the good times. In the wilderness, I have been stripped but I have been fed and restored beyond measure.

So many have asked us how we are doing. So let me tell you. We are trusting God. We are leaning hard on Him for His provision. We are leaning hard on Him for our future. We are leaning hard on His guidance as to what He ultimately wants for us to do and to accomplish. We do not know what the future will bring, but we know the One who leads our future and that is all we need. Is it easy? Not always, but it forces us to bow our hearts, our will, and our plans to the living God. 

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Final words of encouragement

September 18, 2019  

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Today marks the end of a journey for Michelle and I. This afternoon we will begin a new chapter in our lives, as will you as a church. In this moment my mind is swirling with so many memories from the last nine years of ministry here at PCC. I want to make this moment to thank you for being a part of our lives. We have learned so much from so many of you. Your courage through the struggles you faced have been a source of encouragement for us. We have been blessed to watch how God has grown so many of you in the Lord over these years. In our conversations and from your questions you have encouraged me to be a better person, better pastor, and have even forced me to consider what I believe so that I can communicate that in a better way.

As we leave, today, we leave with a part of all of you in our hearts. Through these almost nine years we have laughed together. We have cried together. We have just sat and rested in the silence of the moment. Sometimes this happened at McDonalds. Sometimes it was in the ER. Sometimes it was in your homes. Sometimes it was by your bed or the bed of your loved. We were together as some of you were in the hospital recovering from surgery or dealing with the pain of a disease that was controlling your body or the body of your loved you. With many of you we have shared our lives and you have shared some of your deep hurts. Someone asked me the other day if I would continue to keep all of their secrets secret. Please know that is the truth as I leave today I carry with me your stories, your pain, your joy, and so much more. I trust that in these nine years we have made some difference in your life.We may part ways today and go our separate ways, but as believers in Christ we know we will meet again. 

I could spend so much time on these things but I want to share some encouragement and turn our attention toward God and not myself. As I preparing for this, I wanted to share some things that would encourage you and leave you focused on the greatness of God and not on Bob Odom. The first thing I want you know is that God has a plan. We have talked about this often over the last few weeks but I wanted to reinforce this again today. Just because we do not understand the plan does not diminish the work of the Lord. In a particular segment of time we often do not always understand God’s will, but as we are obedient to His will and we align ourselves with His purposes, God’s blessings flows from us to those around us and we begin to see more clearly what God’s will is for us. 

How do I know that God has plan? It is because the idea of transition is nothing new. Throughout Scripture there have been those who have transitioned and given their leadership over to another.  We see this with Moses. We see this with Elijah. We see it with David. Transitions have occurred before and God uses them to bring us to the next place in our lives. Since this is not anything new, what is happening today is not the end of the world because God has a plan for you which means there are better days ahead for you. God has the new pastor already picked out and he will be the perfect pastor for this church. 

We have talked about this before, but remember that Moses led the Children of Israel in the wilderness but he was not allowed to enter into the promise land. God’s plan was to prepare Israel for the Promised Land and God used Moses to get the people to the place where they were ready to enter what had been promised to them. You see during the wilderness journey, they needed to have a change of heart and during this journey they were able to see this happen. While they had been delivered out of Egypt, they still needed to be emptied of the ways of Egypt in their heart. God did that through the 40 days in the wilderness. They were now prepared to enter the promise. But Moses would not lead them. Joshua was to do that and we find in the Book of Joshua that under his leadership they conquered and took the land on behalf of God. I pray that under the leadership of the new pastor that you will do just that. 

When it was time for Elijah to pass from this life to the next Elisha asked that he be given a double portion of what Elijah had. Elijah’s response was if you are with me when I exit this world, I will give you my mantle and will pass along the anointing that has been with me. As we read the story, we find that as Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha. And as we follow the story, we find that Elisha did do twice as many miracles as Elijah. May this church flourish and grow in the days ahead and do so much more than ever imagined!

David handed the leadership of the kingdom to Solomon. David’s greatest desire was to see the temple built but that did no happen under David’s reign, it was built under Solomon’s. It was under Solomons’ reign that the Shekeinah glory filled the temple and the worshippers could not stand in the presence of God. 

Please know that I do not by any means compare myself to any these as they are so much greater than I am or could be, but this I pray, may God use this transition to bring greater things to this church. The new leader will come with fresh vision and a new sense of God’s will. He will love you and will be the catalyst for a new day for PCC and this community. I so look forward to hearing the reports of all that God is doing and how His will is being accomplished. 

With that said let me share a couple of things with you. First, know that we will be praying for you. We have already been praying for you and we will continue to pray for you. We will be praying for the growth of the body. We will be praying for greater things to come. We will be praying for God to do a new and exciting work in you and through you. My prayer is that He fill you with His grace and power. While we will be praying for you, I ask that you pray for us as we continue to seek God’s will and purpose in our life. There is power in prayer and by praying we are focused on the things of God. Prayer is the thing that will focus us on what God wants of us and how He wants us to live. So, pray for us and we will certainly be praying for you.

Secondly, the best days for PCC are still ahead. God will build on the past and I am sure that the future will look differently than anything we can picture now. God will bring you the right person at the right time so that God’s name is glorified and honored. After all this is God’s church. It has been God’s church and it continues to be God’s church. I so love the passage in Matthew that says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. 

Third, continue to grow in Christ. Seek after God. Seek His will and His purposes so that you are enlarged in your spiritual experience. Draw closer to God. In this regard, I am like Paul, in the New Testament. I would count it a privilege to know and hear of your growth in Christ. Be passionate followers of Christ. Show the love of Christ to all you encounter. Dig into the word of God and make it your own so that you can share your life from the depths of what God has done in you. If I have made a difference in your life, it has been not because I am perfect or that I know it all, but that I have tried my best to be an example of Christ in all I do. I have tried to model for you what a true believer in Christ looks like so that what you see is Him and not me. 

Four, continue to grow in your relationship with one another. Grow in Christ, yes, but grow in your relationship with one another also. Continue to gather for fellowship. Continue to meet in the small groups. This church has so much to offer: Tuesday Men’s Group, Ladies Tuesday Study, BSF on Thursday, and the Ladies Thursday group. Continue to give and continue to be a part of Sunday Morning services. 

Fifth, when God brings you a new pastor love him and support him. Invite him to dinner or lunch. As you did nine years ago, when we arrived, show up and help him move. Pray for him and love him. As has been stated, previously, he will not be like me and that is a good thing. He will come with his experiences, his talents, his abilities, and his personality. He will come with his particular vision for ministry and he will have his own way of doing things but I know that he will lead you to a new day and a new vision. 

So as I close, may God bless you and keep you. We love you and we are grateful for your love for us and all that means. I am grateful for these nine years of ministry here and I am grateful for each of you and the blessing you have been to us. I close with the passage I began with. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Let us pray.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Positive Transition

Peninsula Community Church  

August 18, 2019

Joshua 1:1-4 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

I love the Bible and I love how Scripture speaks to our spirit and to our soul in our times of need. I love how God gives us answers to the questions we have in life when we focus on God’s Word. Through Scripture we are encouraged and we see God’s grace through the myriad of surprises, disappointments, and changes that occur in our life. The passage before us today is no exception. 

In the almost nine years I have been here, if you have learned anything about me, you will know that whatever passage we are dealing with in the moment tends to be my favorite passage, because I am in love with God’s word. For me, I have always loved the story of Moses. It is a story of redemption, salvation, and fulfilled promise. Even though this verse focuses on Joshua and his new leadership role, this is also Moses’ story. 

As you will remember by reading the story, we find that Moses was born during a season of upheaval and turmoil for the Jewish people (Exodus 1:12-14). There had been an edict given to the midwives that every male born to Hebrew women were to be killed at birth (Exodus 1:15-16). The purpose was to control the growth of the Hebrew people. But there was a problem. The midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. Because of this conviction they purposely disobeyed the command to murder these babies. As a result, we find that Moses was born and Moses’ mom loved him and she hid him in a home made basket among the bullrushes at the river’s edge. She fully trusted God for his protection and his safety (Exodus 2:3). As you read the story, we find that Pharaoh’s wife finds him and takes him into her home as her own child (Exodus 28:10). This is a abbreviated story but encourage you to read the entire story for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Through this story we come to understand that God was planting Moses into the Egyptian culture and environment. In the moment that Moses’ mom placed Moses in the little boat into the bulrushes that plan was not realized, but it was to be seen in a future context. As Moses grows while he was engaged in the Egyptian culture, he had not forgotten his roots. God had planted Pharaoh’s sister at the right place at the right time. As a young man he was a protector of the Hebrew people. When Moses found one of Pharaoh’s men beating one of the Hebrews, Moses defended the Hebrew man against the guard to the point of murdering him (Exodus 2:11-12). This led to a transition in Moses’ life. From Egypt he fled to the back side of the desert (Exodus 2:15) where he would spend the next 40 years in preparation for his final task here on earth. He was to be the deliverer of the people of Israel. 

So, as we consider these things let me make a couple of points here. The first point we have to consider is this. We need to understand that God never wastes anything. Even when we do not realize it God is using what we are going through to mature us, define our purpose, and help us be more like Him. God placed Moses in Pharaoh’s home, so that he would be immersed in the culture, so that when the time came he would understand and know how to precede into the future promise of God. He knew the inner workings of the government and he was able to navigate the pitfalls he might encounter when he returned to do God’s work. God also placed Moses in the wilderness so that he could be trained in the ways of survival because God already knew he would be tasked to lead the children of Israel through the wilderness. Do you grasp that this morning? Whatever you have experienced or what you are experiencing, even in this moment, is not wasted by God. He will use it for His glory, if we allow Him to do so. That is the grace of God at work in us. It is the power of God that manifests His will in us and through us. 

Secondly, God is never surprised at the transitions that occur in our life. While we might be surprised, God is not surprised and most of all He is not worried. In fact, in Moses’ life we see that God was orchestrating His will and He was positioning Moses for more than he could ever imagine. So many times transitions rock our world, but God’s world is not rocked. In fact, God is never rocked by the things that happen in our life. Remember God is never surprised. 

Thirdly, God’s purpose does not end with a transition. That is where we pick up today. Notice that God speaks to the new leader, Joshua, to let him know that good things are ahead. Just because Moses is not in the picture anymore the vision God had for Israel does not cease. In fact, I would suggest that in the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua, the vision in fact was becoming more of a reality than it had ever been before. Moses had brought them to the promise land, but he was not to take them in. God had a new leader in mind and that leader was Joshua. 

If you remember it was God’s plan all along for Israel to possess the land that had been given to them. It had been the plan of God all along to establish a nation that would go after God with all of their hearts. God wanted a nation that would exhibit the love, grace, and power of God through their lives and through their obedience to God’s word and His commandments. That did not end with Moses who gave the reigns of leadership over to Joshua.

It is important to note that the people of God were to go into the Promised Land together (Joshua 1:2). It was not a time to bail or run but to remain faithful in following God into the place of promise and the place where God would be glorified. I challenge you today to remain faithful and commit to go into the promised land that God has for PCC. Commit to be a part of the success of what God is doing here in a church in the cornfield. Commit to be a part of what God is doing here in this place in the days to come. If you have not been engaged spiritually or financially before become engaged now for the kingdom and the future of this church. 

Fourth, with transition comes a promise. Notice the promise that God gave Joshua. God made this incredible statement. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” Here is the deal. God has a promise and He will fulfill that promise. This church will grow. This church will continue to be an effective part of this community. This church will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. That fulfillment is not dependent on a person but on God’s plan and His purposes. That is not to say that leadership is not important because it is, but our dependence must be on the God of the promise, always. 

So what do we do during times of transition? Let me give you three things. First, we must trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust is a major factor in navigating the things we confront. That is why the Bible is replete with passages that encourage our trust and hope to be fully positioned in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to work out all things for His glory. One of my favorite passages is this. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Holy Spirit gives us the inner peace that takes us by the hand and assures us that all will be well. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday (Psalms 37:3-6).

Notice the wording of Joshua 1:1. The lord speaks to Joshua and brings confirmation to him that this is all God’s plan and nothing has changed in terms of the promises of God. While waiting to see what God is doing, we trust in God. While making plans for the future, we trust God. While doing what we need to do, we trust God. While we seek God for what He will do, we trust God. Trust and obey for there is no other way.

We must believe that God is greater than our transition. It is in times of transition that we learn how big our God is. I have preached so often that God is bigger than anything we face. How big is God? He is big enough and He will be big enough now and into the future. In preparing for this I came across this quote. “In seasons of transition, we are tested and stretched by new circumstances and relationships, and it can be tempting to look back and cling to the certainty and comfort of the last season while steeling our emotions against the uncertainty of what’s to come. But the Lord calls us to move with Him through the seasons of life and trust His work and timing.”

Finally and foremost, this has been and continues to be God’s church which is positioned here in this place to accomplish God’s will and purpose. Do not forget that what He has begun in you will be completed. Listen to Paul’s words of affirmation in this regard. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Pastors may come and go, people may come and go, but God’s will and purpose will not change. 

Let us pray!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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