When Things Don’t Go According to Your Plan.

I remember where I was when I said I planned to never move away from my home town of Woodstock, GA. I was 21 and newly married. I had many friends, a great church and a good job. I was content and happy. But, God had other plans for us. Months later my wife and I moved out-of-state to follow God’s plan. We started off on a terrifying but exciting journey of serving God and his people in church ministry.  It wasn’t the plan I had for my life. But, I’ve found my plans rarely go as planned.

We all make plans that don’t turn out the way we hoped. When that happens we can respond in two ways. Our first and most natural response is frustration. When our plans fall through we argue with God, pout and get discouraged.  That option rarely turns out well.

The reason we get so frustrated easily is because we are trying to control something we ultimately have no control over. Proverbs 16:9 says…”We make plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Frustration comes from trying to control things you have no control over. The Bible says you really have no control over your plans. God has ultimate control over the steps of your life. It’s humbling but true. You aren’t in control. God’s in control. When you finally realize that and embrace it you will find peace. Peace is what we want when our plans fail and things seem uncertain. In those times you can be certain God is in control.

When things don’t go well you can get frustrated or you can choose a better option. You can choose to have faith. Heb 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” You can be confident and assured God is in control. He is directing every one of your steps in accordance with his plan and purpose. Have faith. God’s got it! Knowing God is in control frees you from frustration and leads to peace.

There’s a way to make plans but not get frustrated when things fall apart.  When making plans submit your plans to the Lord but hold on to them loosely.  You don’t have to stress about making the perfect plan or missing God’s will. He’s directing your steps. He’ll get you where he wants you. I have a saying I use with the teams I lead. “A plan is what we do unless God wants to change it.” You see even James the brother of Jesus said we should not boast or be so confident in our plans.  He said in James 4:13-16 “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.'”

In all your plans acknowledge God is ultimately in control. Then when things don’t go your way, loosen your grip on your plans and embrace his plan. Remember God really is working “all things for the good of those that love him and who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28 You don’t know what tomorrow holds but you can be confident it’s going to lead to good.

When things aren’t going according to your plan your options are frustration or faith. I’ve found faith is always the better option. I’ve never regretted trusting God’s plan. His plan has led me to wonderful people and places I would have missed had my plans worked out.  I’m grateful he’s guiding my every step.

What are you feeling frustrated about today?  Why are you trying to hang on to your plans? What’s the worst that could happen if you trusted God’s plan? How can you let go of your plan and embrace God’s plan today?


A Warning to Those Who Want to be Ministers

WARNING: If you decide you want to be a MINISTER, then be prepared for the following…

* Your work will never be done. The world needs a lot of help and the work is never finished.
* You will disappoint people daily. Settle it now. You will disappoint people you never knew you disappointed.
* Everyone wants your time all the time. You are in the ministry to minister to people and they want your attention.
* You will hear horrible things and it’s hard not to carry other’s heavy burdens. There’s a lot of pain, hurt and evil in the world. You will hear about most of it.
* YOU and your FAMILY will always be under the critical eye of others. What you wear, where and when you vacation, what’s in your grocery buggy, the car you drive, how you spend your time, which movies you watch and who you hang with are just some of the things people will criticize.
* Most people will think you never work. But, they aren’t there for the late night phone calls from hurting people; the late weeknights and weekends going to minister to hurting families at the emergency room; the shortened vacations for funerals; the long conversations over coffee with the new or struggling Christians who have lot’s of hard questions; the constant daily interruptions while trying to prepare a sermon and the daily conversations that happen outside the church.
* People constantly look to you to fill them up even when you are running on empty. Everyone wants you to be ready to give wise, spiritual counsel but you will have to fight for your time to feed your own soul.
* Weekly you will do the one thing people fear the most… Speaking in Public. You better be ready because most people will base their friendship on how well you do this.
* You minister to a parade. There will always be people coming, people beside you and people who have passed on. People are always coming and going in church life and when people leave they usually don’t leave well. Be prepared to be unfriended.
* There’s a big chance you will not retire as a Pastor. Only 1 in 10 ministers actually retire from ministry. Ninety percent of ministers either quit or are forced out of ministry.

Ministry is often a hard, thankless and tiring endeavor. Unless you hear from God, know you are called and let him daily direct your steps, you won’t make it.

Even though these things are true – I’m thankful to serve as a Pastor and wouldn’t trade it even to be a King.
Pastor Randall

Trayvon Came to My Door.

The sweetest little boy just rang my doorbell. We met him two days ago. Yesterday he said he moved here to live with his aunt and uncle because his mother had a heart attack.

I told him the boys aren’t home and so he said he just wanted to talk to me. We talked about shooting bows. He had his little bow and arrow with him.

…He just rang the doorbell again…And again… He just wants to talk. He’s only five. As we talked I was pleasantly surprised by the extreme friendliness of the young boy. As he spoke I was struck by an image that this young black boy with whom I was enjoying a conversation with is a younger Trayvon Martin. With all the extreme heated discussion going on today the Lord sent this young boy to reminded me that He is no respecter of color, race and sex. He sees no face or skin color. He reminded me that the parents of Trayvon lost a son which resembles the sweet young boy standing at my door entrance in my mostly white subdivision.

…He just rang my doorbell again. He asked for water. I happily gave him some. Now we are sitting, chatting and drinking water together. The world needs more of this.

You are Wanted.

I used to be afraid to share my gifts and talents with others. I had two fears.  One was that people would think I’m boasting about my abilities. The other was that I would be rejected. At the core there was a real fear of what others would think of me. I was afraid to offer my writings, my sermons, my paintings and my leadership to the world. Now I realize the world wants and needs my gifts.

God gives us all gifts to serve the world. Christ follower you have been uniquely designed to give something special to the world. God is not honored and the world is not blessed by hiding your gifts. There’s a unique group of people who need what you’ve got.

Your gift is not for you. It’s for others. It’s not yours to withhold from the world. God entrusted it to you to bless the world. The world desperately needs your strength, your wisdom, your song, your care, your leadership, your poem, your picture, your organization, your talent or your voice. Your unique gift is your gift to give back to the world. Fear, pride and selfishness will rob you of the joy of seeing others blessed by your gift. Fearlessly and selflessly use your gift to serve others today.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

When God Speaks at 2:56 AM.

I was startled awake at 2:56 this morning by someone loudly calling my name. Thinking it was my wife I answered out but no one answered. She was sound asleep. Looking around the pitch black room I answered “What?” again. No one answered and then I heard in my spirit a voice say, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger and bitterness. Do not let Satan get a stronghold in your life.” I knew exactly what he was talking about.

I’ve been bitter and angry at someone for several days and the Spirit of God called me out in love. I confessed it to him, declared I don’t want it anymore and commanded the bitterness to leave. I fell back to sleep with peace. This morning I woke up refreshed and free. Thank you Jesus for your grace and love.

Is the Spirit of God speaking to you too? Will you respond and find peace and freedom?


What the World Needs Now

In light of this weekend’s horrific events in Connecticut there will be discussions about more laws, more education and more protection. People will search for answers to stop awful things like the murder of children and other evils. But, the problem isn’t a new one. Its as old Cain and Able. You see the problem with the world isn’t the lack of laws, education or social programs. The problem isn’t a social problem. It’s a spiritual problem.

The problem is we all are born sinners. We inherited the problem from our parents who inherited it from their parents. Everyone one of us is capable of evil. The answer to the problem of evil is Jesus. Only by humbly acknowledging our own guilt and need for God’s gracious and abundant gift of mercy and grace will real change take place. It’s God’s grace that sets people free from the grip of sin, anger, bitterness, hurt, pain and addictions. It’s God’s grace that changes us from the inside out. It’s God’s grace that gives us hope, purpose and abundant life.

What the world needs is more amazing grace and God chose his Church to be the instrument through which grace is shared with the world. Jesus said the Church is the salt and light of the world. Our society’s woes are a direct reflection of the increasing lack of influence the Church has had in our world. The change our world needs will only come when the Church embraces it’s important calling to share God’s grace with the hurting world. Church let the evil experienced this past Friday serve as a wake up call. Embrace his grace. Let it transform you. Share it with others. It matters for eternity.

– Randall Popham

When God Kicks You for Being a Complainer.

I want to never complain again like a whinny baby about the struggles of serving as a Pastor. After what I’ve seen the last few weeks I should be slapped and have my all-mighty religious diplomas ripped to shreds. As I traveled to different countries on my sabbatical I met many wonderful people. Several of them were God-fearing and humble Pastors who serve in the most gut-wrenching and desperate places but they serve with tremendous joy and gladness.  I was overwhelmed and challenged by the Pastors I met and what God said to me. It was like a kick in my spiritual pants from God’s enormous TOMS. Each Pastor I met works full-time at a job to support their families but then serves tirelessly as a Pastor  – but for FREE. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to be paid but their churches can’t pay them. But, it was obvious the pay is not the reason they serve. Their motives were beautiful and pure.

These mighty warriors served in desperate areas with very little resources but were rich in gratitude and love. In the Dominican Republic my friend, Pastor Roberto, serves as a full-time public teacher and then as a Pastor in a one room concrete church building to hundreds of lovely people in poverty. He genuinely loves his people and they love him. He is happy and grateful for the work of grace God has done in his own life and desperately desires to share it with all the people in his village. Each time I visit him he asks me to teach him about serving as a Pastor but I leave each time humbled and wanting more of what he has. In Uganda, Pastor Moses, is a full-time farmer who also gratefully serves his one room church in a poverty-stricken village with thousands of people – for FREE. Oh yeah, he also oversees seventy other churches too.He has six kids of his own who share a dirt floor home with only two rooms. The entire house is smaller than my garage. My car has better accommodations than his entire family.

When I see how my brothers are serving I feel like a gnat for ever complaining. I want more of what these men have. These men were only a few of the passionate servants of Christ that I met over the last few weeks. There were many men and woman who served in desperate situations with little resources and in the face of constant discouragement.  They served in various roles and in different churches but there is one thing I noticed they all had in common. They all served others out a genuine love for Jesus and the grace he has shown them. There was no ulterior motives for serving the church and growing their church. They genuinely loved people and it came from an overflowing love for Jesus.

In the U.S. we need more people who will serve others out of an overflowing love for Christ and genuine care for all people. I’m talking to myself the most. I desire it desperately.  I want it to start with me. I have been given much and when much is given much is required (Matt 25:14-30). I Pastor a great church, with loving people and generous resources but I wonder how much more I can do, we could do and should do.

I don’t want to be a complainer I want to be a worshipper. I desire for my worship not to only be a few songs that give me goosebumps. I want my worship to be the laying down of my life as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). This is how my brothers and sisters around the world worship and I want to worship like them. No big lights. No big sound. No smoke and mirrors. Just people loving Jesus, his word and each other.

God I have been given much. I want to give you back much. I’m sorry for complaining about my work, position, pay, benefits, difficult people, problems, lack of resources, struggles, work load and other issues that are truly so minuscule. Father I want to serve out of a deep love for you and for your people. Renew my passion for you. Renew my love for you and take it to a whole new level. Awaken my soul. Let the last half of my life burn twice as bright for you than the first half. Be glorified magnificently through my life. I’m yours Lord. All of me. Whatever you want from me I lay it down on your altar. I’m yours. Use me up for your glory and purpose.

Forgive me and restore me. Help me to see the church with your eyes. Give me your mind to lead wisely. Give me your heart to love your people wholeheartedly. Give me your hands to serve your people selflessly. Give me your tongue to share the gospel with boldness and clarity. Give me your strength to work tirelessly. Give me your ears to hear your Spirit and follow you. Give me your feet to go wherever you lead me. Give me your perseverance to not give up when things get hard. Give me your compassion to love people where they are. Give me your vision to see your will. Give me a willful spirit to keep going when I blow it and want to quit.

Lord I want to live fully alive and free. I want to smile and love my life no matter my situations or setting. I know that comes from deeply knowing experiencing your amazing grace. Show me the depths of your grace and let it produce a genuine love for you and for your people.

I’ve been kicked by God and it worked. I desire to be a worshipper not a complainer.

I’m a Quitter.

I quit. Yep I’m a quitter. Today I became a quitter after reading, thinking & praying about Romans  5:1. Romans 5:1 (ESV)  says this…Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s my personalized version… Because, I have been justified by my faith in Jesus, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ.

This verse is packed with nuggets of truth that have made me decide to become a quitter. Let me explain. Here’s what the verse says…

I am justified. The case against me in Gods courtroom had been closed. Jesus has taken my punishment himself and removed my condemnation. All my sins – past, present and future have been assigned to Christ. I am free. I owe God nothing but praise and adoration. I have to do no community service, time in prison or pay a fine. Jesus paid it all for me.

The means of my justification is faith. My works, good behavior, right doctrine, church history, baptism, or no other action made me right with God. It was through faith alone that i am justified with God. It is by trusting in the works of Jesus that I have been made right with God.

The focus of my faith is in the work of Jesus. The focus of my faith is not the church, the Bible or my experiences. Justification is through faith in Christ alone. I am made right with God by trusting in Christ’s completed work for me on the cross. My devotion to my church, the scripture or worship does not make me right with God. My devotion to do good, share Jesus with others or help the needy does not supplant my need for the work of Christ on the cross for me. There are many peripheral issues that are involved with my Christian faith but Jesus is the central focus and the author, sustainer and finisher of my faith.

The outcome of my faith is peace with God. I have peace with God through my faith in the completed work of Jesus’ death on the cross. The sweetest words to my soul are, “I have peace with God.” Every heart longs for peace.  Some look for it within. Some look outside themselves. Some try to earn it. Some look for it in power, popularity and pleasures.  There is only one way to have peace. You receive it freely through faith in Jesus. Peace with God leads to peace in life.  To have peace with God means he is satisfied with me. I can not earn or lose his favor. There is nothing else I have to do earn his love or be accepted. He looks at me with a smile and with pleasure as a loving Father looks proudly at his son. To fully grasp and rest in what it means to have peace with God is to experience true everlasting peace.

The sustainer of my peace is Jesus. Jesus gave me peace with God and he keeps me at peace with God. My peace with God isn’t determined by my daily actions. It isn’t affected by my successes or failures. It rests solely in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Faith in Christ’s completed work for me on the cross is my only hope and peace. I do not need to wonder daily whether or not I have peace with God. It is mine forever. It can not be taken from me or lost because Jesus’ work on the cross was complete. When he said it is finished he meant it for me. He began this work in me and he will complete it.

Because I have peace with God I can Be a “Quitter.” 

  1. I can Quit Wondering if God is pleased with me.
  2. I can Quit Doubting his love and acceptance of me.
  3. I can Quit Searching for something else to satisfy me.
  4. I can Quit Trying to earn more of his love.
  5. I can Quit Rejecting his favor toward me.
  6. I can Quit Evaluating my situations on whether or not I think God is mad or happy with me.
  7. I can Quit Punishing myself when I sin.
  8. I can Quit Holding Back my worship and prayers.
  9. I can Quit Measuring myself against a strict set of rules.
  10. I can Quit Comparing myself to others.

I am a Quitter because I have peace with God. Be a quitter with me.