Do you enjoy traveling? I love the adventure that comes with leaving Lodi or even the United States of America. I grew up in Michigan. Besides going across the river to visit family in Canada and an annual trip to Florida to see grandparents, my travels were fairly limited. But then, as an adult who believes in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I realized His created world held many adventures.
Like other "The Story" pastors (Steve at First Baptist, Chad at Ham Lane Church of Christ, Perry at Temple Baptist and Rod at Vinewood Community), I have been blessed to share the Good News of Jesus Christ across the world. While traveling on five of the seven continents, I have been guided by the Holy Spirit to share the Good News with tens of thousands of people.
Do you share the Good News wherever possible? I know many believers here in Lodi who always travel with Christ in their heart and on the shirtsleeve, too. By the way, can anyone help me understand the unique phraseology relating to "shirtsleeve"? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any thoughts.
Getting back to "The Story," Paul and traveling: Many of us know that traveling can be very exciting, it can be adventurous and it can be dangerous, especially in the name of Jesus. Recently, you may have read about an American pastor who converted from Islam to Christianity and was jailed during a visit to Iran.
Pastor Saeed Abedini has suffered from beatings while under arrest and imprisoned in Iran's notoriously brutal Evin prison for sharing about Jesus Christ. In some circles, Pastor Saeed is looked upon as a modern-day Paul. Two men of God, different times and different backgrounds, yet they traveled on the same path.
In Chapter 30 of "The Story," we read about the Apostle Paul traveling to many foreign lands during the first century. I have traveled to foreign lands, and you may have as well.
Take a moment and try and figure out how many miles you have traveled. That is a tough one but a great way to re-live some of your trips. Here is a deep thought: When you add together the average miles traveled by the average person of the day, the means of travel that existed during the period the particular individual lived in, the difficulty of getting from one place to another at a particular period of time and the economic ability of said traveler as well as opposition to said travels, it is a fair bet that when taking all things into consideration, the Apostle Paul is probably the most-traveled individual in the history of the world.
Now, it is established that Paul was an awesome traveler and sharer of God's Word, and whether he went to the cities in which he already started churches throughout the Mediterranean or to Jerusalem to face the surly Sanhedrin, the ultimate destination Paul sought was Rome.
Jesus had promised that he would witness before kings and the pinnacle of the kings of the world was the one who lived in Rome. Paul appealed to Caesar, and we find out in "The Story" to Caesar he would go. Hardship, chains, shipwrecks and dangers to Paul were but trivialities compared to the greater glory of knowing Jesus and making Him known.
Paul, a faithful follower of Jesus, was willing to hit the road for his Savior. What are you willing to do in Jesus' name? Do you want to go to foreign lands? Do you want to serve God somewhere in the United States of America? Do you feel a calling to serve the King of Kings right here in Lodi?
No matter where God is calling you, listen, pray and believe that you can do what He desires. If you need help in finding a place to serve God, one of the five Story churches (Emanuel Lutheran, First Baptist, Ham Lane Church of Christ, Temple Baptist and Vinewood Community) right here in Lodi would love to connect with you.
God bless you in your staying here in Lodi or traveling across the world. Be secure in His love, and be bold in His name.
Chris Townsend is lead pastor at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Lodi.