The Lord Directs Our Steps

This past Sunday was our last at Three Lakes Community Bible Church,  having been there since it began some 37 years ago, growing out of a home Bible  study which my Father-in-law, Pastor Clarence Kutz taught for  Rocky Mountain Bible Mission.  I had left my engineering job at  Hyster company in Portland, Oregon in March of 1974, having just recently  received my five-year pin. God had been really at work in our lives and we had a  passion to become involved in full-time Christian ministry. It was an exciting,  frightening experience to leave a good job and begin a whole new adventure of  being missionaries for a rural mission and having to raise financial  support.

We moved back  to Montana where we had grown up to work for Rocky Mountain Bible Mission and  apprentice under Kathy’s dad who had retired from his pastorate at Faith Bible  Church in Libby to become one of the first missionaries with RMBM.  One of  Pastor Kutz’s Bible studies was held near Troy on the Bull Lake Road by Milnor  and Savage Lakes. He taught the adults in the living room of a trailer  house while Mrs. Kutz and Kathy held a children’s class in a bedroom, and I had  a youth group in the shop. One night the group decided they really needed to  begin a church so they took an offering that very night and got the ball  rolling, with property next door being donated and Three Lakes Community Bible  Church began.

By late summer  of 1975, Pastor Kutz was diagnosed as having a rapidly progressive leukemia and  he went to be with the Lord in October. Before he died, he directed our crew as  we set forms for the church basement, so he was literally in on the foundation  of Three Lakes, but now, all of a sudden, I was a pastor. I had gone to Montana  State University to become an engineer, not a pastor, but as I looked back over  the past half a century, I could see how God was preparing me all along the way  for the ministry to which He called me.  I was overwhelmed to think that I  had to fill in for Pastor Kutz, who was a fantastic Bible teacher and gifted  pastor. But I realized that “God’s commands are His enablings,” and that He  would be with me each step of the way, and if I would depend on Him, “He and I”  could do this!

For the next  nearly four decades, several hundred people would come and go at Three Lakes,  and a Bible camp was started, along with a Christian school and an AWANA  ministry. Many would receive Christ and lots were baptized and a number have  gone on into full-time Christian vocational work and most to serve God  effectively and faithfully in their vocations.

This Sunday a  number of past members were able to join us for a “Celebration Sunday” to praise  God for what He has done over these 37 years, and as we stepped down as pastor  of Three Lakes.  It was so exciting to see a cross-section of the history  of the church represented by those who came and to hear what God is doing in  their lives now. I even had some of my original youth group with us to  celebrate, one of whom is now a pastor’s wife. Our theme was very appropriate:  “To God be the Glory” for truly, “great things He has  done.”  We were privileged to have Kathy’s brothers Ray and Larry (from the  Seattle area) with us to give a challenge to the church and to us. They have  both been instrumental in helping our church get established and prosper, so it  was very appropriate that they have part in our celebration.

The person who  was overseeing the plans for the celebration called to ask me if I had a “life’s  verse” that she could put on the powerpoint presentation. I have always been  reluctant to pick out just one verse as a “life’s verse,” because I have so  many, but as I reflected on what God has done in our lives and how I became the  pastor at Three Lakes, I chose Prov. 16:9: “The mind of man plans His  way, but the LORD directs his steps.”   Pastoring a church  was definitely not what I had planned for my life, but it was what God purposed.  A similar verse is found in Prov. 20:24: “Man’s steps are ordained by  the LORD, how then can man understand his way?”  I like how it is  worded in the Living Bible: “Since the LORD is directing  our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the  way?”

Since I didn’t take the typical path to becoming a  pastor by going to Bible school and/or seminary, I had to really dig into  the Word on my own and lean heavily upon the Lord, but I discovered the same  truth that Paul expressed in his letter to the Philippian believers:  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil.  4:13).  I also clung to Paul’s statement in II Cor. 3:5:  “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming  from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”  There were  times along the way that I tried to handle things on my own, in my own strength  and wisdom, and have the failures to prove it! But, I also discovered the  truth of which King David wrote:  “The steps of a man are established by the LORD; and He delights in  his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the LORD is the  One who holds his hand. I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen  the righteous forsaken…” (Psa. 37:23-25).

Is it wrong for us to plan? Was it wrong for me to go to school for an  engineering degree?  No, but when we do plan we need to acknowledge that  God can and will have the final say. We need to heed the admonition given in  James 4:13-15: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we shall go  to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make  profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just  a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead,  you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or  that.'”  When people ask us what our plans are now, we do have  some, but we must be quick to add, “Lord willing, this is what we will  do!”  And what is that?  We plan to focus on some personal evangelism  in the area with folks with whom we have built relationships over the years. We  plan to continue teaching Bible studies, to hopefully write and publish a few  books, to fill in for vacationing pastors on occasion, to build picture frames  for my flower and scenery pictures, and to see more of the kids and grandkids.  We also have lots of yard and a big garden to take care of and I teach tennis  lessons during the summer. All of this, of course, is prefaced by: “The  Lord willing.”

Anyway, we find ourselves in a situation much like we faced 37 years  ago when I resigned my job at Hyster and suddenly had no income and a lot of  unknown ahead of us. It is an exciting, frightening time. But we have definitely  learned that God is faithful and we are putting our trust in Him. We do covet  your prayers for His continued daily direction and open doors of ministry. As  Christians we don’t retire, we just switch from one ministry to another until He  takes us home.

To God Be The Glory,

Pastor  Dave

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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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