God, promises and vague warranties

At times I listen to KVI radio and at times on KVI radio there is an ad which was recorded by Rob McKenna, a former Attorney General of Washington state.

According to the ad with Rob McKenna, many homeowners are disappointed in their contractor or roofing company due to poor workmanship or vague warranties.  According to another ad by Guardian Roofing, only about half of roofing customers would recommend their most-recent or current roofing company to a friend or relative after how things went with their completed roofing.

There is no training or competency required to roof.  Some roofers who are half-competent survive by not honoring warranties and making them vague and very hard to enforce.

I once took a class that included a brief discussion of business fraud.  One way that shady businesses defraud is to make promises or guarantees and then the promises and guarantees are vague or misleadingly or have conditions that were not discussed with you or the conditions are themselves unreasonable.  They often sell a product or a course with a money-back guarantee which is made orally and you decide to buy based on what you are told.

I once bought a real estate investing course with an oral presentation of a money-back guarantee.  However, the conditions of the money back guarantee were never discussed or disclosed orally and “you” often made plans to attend and pay for the seminar without at first reading all the details of a contract you would sign later.

There are people who are considering becoming a pastor, priest or missionary.   Some of them do become pastors and some of these leave later pastoring due to conflicts, immorality or so-called pastoral burnout.  Different churches or leaders give people different guidance about whether or not to become a pastor and/or how to recognize a calling–or the leading of God–to become a pastor.  Some Christians teach others what they call discerning a call, usually the call to be or not to be a priest or pastor or missionary.  The calling to work for Microsoft or Amazon seems to require less understanding to perceive.

Forgive me if I make a suggestion that may require God to do some extra work to help us figure things out.  I know it is reported that God took a rest.  A small bit of extra work by God might be of aid to some people who are considering becoming pastors or who are taking the steps leading to becoming pastors.

Would it be a problem if I suggest that some of us expect God to make and keep promises?  I hope God does not find it to be too much extra work.  I hope it is not a problem during any of the years God is on a sabbatical . . .  I think it might help some of the people thinking of becoming pastors or not.

In fact, just the idea that God would make a personal promise and keep it is something that might help some of the people who are thinking of becoming pastors.

As best we know from some surveys, there seems to be a problem with either the guidance people are given about becoming pastors or how it is being applied by thousands of individuals who hear or read the guidance.

It is reported on the Net that more than half of pastors would rather be doing something else with their lives and they would be doing so if they had some other way to make a living.  It is also reported that 90% of pastors believe they are unqualified or poorly prepared for their work.

The New York Times in 2010 made the claim that clergy members suffer from depression and obesity at higher rates than the general public.  Now, while I have not met any pastors who are schizophrenic, pastoring on average seems, from some news reports, to lead to poor physical and mental health and to a high rate of job dissatisfaction.  Perhaps I have been wrongly informed.  I hope I have been wrongly informed; I realize you never know with the New York Times.

The Bible tells us stories of how God interacted or might have interacted with certain men.  In the cases of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Simon Peter and Andrew, God made a promise to them, or is reported to have made a promise to them, as a major part of God’s calling them.  There are actually many others to whom God is reported to have made promises; these six men are merely a representative sample.

In Exodus 3, where we have the story of the call of Moses, God is reported in fact as using the words, “And I promise,” to Moses about what God was about to do. Now, maybe God was asking Moses to risk his life or maybe Moses did not like the Egyptian air.  For whatever reason, God wanted to make it more certain in the mind of Moses that God was actually going to use his power to accomplish something useful.  So, God said to Moses–or so it is reported–“I promise!”  According to Hebrews, God took an oath when making a promise to Abraham.  Because he could swear by nothing greater than Himself, God swore on Himself to do certain things for Abraham!

In our day, most of us do not know what, if anything, God has sworn to do for us.  Maybe that is just normal and to be expected!

According to the Bible, God promised Noah that God would establish his covenant with him, Noah.  God promised Abraham that God would make Abraham into a great nation and bless him.  God promised Moses that he would bring Israel out of Egypt and the leaders of Israel would listen to the voice of Moses.  God promised Gideon that he, Gideon, would easily defeat the Midianites on God’s behalf.  God promised Peter and Andrew that He would make them fishers of men.

At least according to Mark and Matthew, God promising the teaching, training and experience for the future careers of being fishers of men to Peter and Andrew was part of the first sentence or two Jesus said personally to them.

Wow!  It might be quite nice for you or I if the first thing the infallible God said to either of us was to make us some clear and good promise.

Now, supposedly an American Presidential candidate who wins tends to keep about 70% of his promises.  Some Presidential candidates make promises they don’t intend to keep, some that they can’t keep, some that are unreasonable and some that they decide are not worth keeping.

We vote for candidates partly based on what promises they make to us.  It would be pretty nice to have a God who makes promises and always keeps them.  Is God like the Presidential candidates?   Does God keep only 3 in 4 of His promises cause 1 in 4 of the promises are just goofy? Is God more reliable than they are or less reliable? Supposedly some people were disappointed that Obama did not keep more of his promises.  I like Trump, but Trump appears to have dropped, back-tracked or reversed two of his promises.  He is not even in office yet!!

Of course, in the case of George Washington, I believe he did not need to campaign or make promises to be President.  What Washington had done already by 1788 was so great that America wanted him in, without any additional promises being made.

Eisenhower ran a campaign with very few campaign promises.  He had never voted prior to 1948.  He had won the war against Germany and served as NATO’s commander.  Eisenhower’s promise was not be have a corrupt administration and to reassure people he would help stop the spread of communism.  People really voted for him based on his success in life and service prior to being President.

Some people become pastors because what God has done for them is so wonderful that they will never tire of sharing it, and there are others who become pastors and who find that other people are not that interested or that what they share is not enough to create or sustain a healthy church.  Some people have peace and joy in believing; for at least some people, having peace and joy is not enough for pastoring, creating or sustaining a healthy church.

Of the promises I mentioned from the Bible made to six people, three were perfectly clear and these were fulfilled shortly afterwards in the lifetime of those to whom the promise was made.  The promise to Noah was vague till after the Flood, though God did at least imply that Noah and his family would live through the Flood.  It appears that the promise to Abraham was partly fulfilled in his lifetime and the part about becoming a great nation took longer, at least if we go by the Bible account.

There are some people who are becoming pastors because God Himself talks to them and has led them.  And, there are some people who are becoming pastors, thinking of becoming pastors or have become pastors who report–or believe–that God does not tell them much, or God does not do so with enough frequency or clarity that they are blessed much or helped much.

Since the surveys indicate that a bunch of current pastors wish they had done or chosen to do something other than pastoring with their lives, one thing for some people to consider is asking God for a promise or a warranty.  God provided promises to Abraham, Moses, Gideon and Peter–or so it is reported.  It appears that at least some people who are pastoring never got a promise or a warranty–or if they did, it is proving to be vague, meaningless and unenforceable.  Or, for whatever reasons, a significant portion of them are unhappy with the fulfillment of any promises and warranties they may have got at first.

A person unfamiliar with the Bible might have thought that God’s promises only refer to heaven after death, but there are a lot of the promises that are supposed to be accomplished while we are alive, on the earth and before death.  We would hope that a pastor is the living example of the fulfillment of God’s promises.

I am not wise enough to know who is to blame for a situation in which some person or some pastor is disappointed . . . but at least part of the time, some of the disappointment takes place because God never made the persons in question any clear promise, or so it seems to me.  At least, God clearly promised Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt and God clearly promised Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites.  Most of the people I know do not receive such clear promises from God.  Or, so it is reported and these promises were very clear, ones which are either clearly fulfilled–or not fulfilled–at a specific time and place.

Of course, it is reported that God in the Bible promises people blessing, success, wisdom, wealth, healing, whatever you pray for being done, God’s writing the law in our hearts and also the apostles or us being guided into all the truth.  Do all people or all Christians experience all these things in this lifetime?  At least some people fail in a variety of ways.

Gehazi was cursed; the Egyptian of Acts 21:38 disappeared after making false promises and Bar Kochba was killed in his fortress.   Some Christians debate and disagree about Bible doctrines.  I don’t think they would be doing that if they had been led into all the truth as John 16:13 says.  Which of these 8 major Bible promises I just listed, if any of them, depend on paying tithing, keeping the Sabbath holy or always telling the truth?  Do any of them depend on praying a certain amount, such as an hour a day?  Do any of these promises depend on a person praying in a certain way?  Are all these promises automatically fulfilled in the lives of all Christians and in the lives of all pastors, during their lifetimes?

If all 8 of these promises made by God in the Bible as it seems to be reported were automatically fulfilled in the lives of Christians, it seems to me as if the world would be functioning better.  You know, the wolf and the lamb will get together . . . The eyes of the blind will be opened and the deaf will hear and the lame will walk.  You do recall it says that in Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 11.  It will be so great that the desert will sing.  Isaiah 35 verse 2.  Maybe these 8 promises being fulfilled is not automatic; maybe we need promises which are more personal, more clear or more certain.  Maybe not.  I don’t know–I am not telling you what the Bible means about these 8 promises.  How would I know?

If any of these 8 Bible promises are dependent on certain other conditions, then, perhaps, some pastors are not going to have these promises fulfilled.  And if these 8 promises are not fulfilled in the lives of the pastors, the same promises may easily not be fulfilled in the lives of the members of the church.

Matthys of Munster and John of Leiden were killed in the Anabaptist Christian revolt of 1534.  They were killed and I doubt the wisdom of their cause.

So, if you are thinking of becoming a pastor, preacher or missionary, one thing you might wish to do is ask God for a promise or a sign.  Here are two examples of things God was happy to promise: “I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt,” Ex 3:17, and “you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:16.  God was so willing to promise these things He just volunteered them without being asked very much!

Now, perhaps some of you will say, “Wait a second!!!  Those are not the kind of promises that God makes today!  God does not defeat the Midianites today; we don’t have that problem!”  Perhaps you will add, “God just gives general promises to no one in particular and with no particular time or place that they will be done!  These are the ones already found in the Bible!”

Oh, boy.

Supposedly it is about 1500 American pastors who cease to pastor each year due to a variety of possible causes: stress, adultery, burnout, massage at the New Life church, doubts about hell being eternal or a church collapse and on and on.  Supposedly 90% of pastors work more than 50 hours a week.  Supposedly 80% believe their working as pastor is damaging to their family.  Supposedly 70% of pastors have no close friends.  Supposedly it is damaging their health in ways more extensive than in the general population.

Of course the statistics would actually vary depending on how we define pastor.  Do you hope that there would be more pastors or fewer, that they would be paid more or less, and that they would work more or less than they do now?

Does God call people personally to do things such as being a pastor and does God then abstain from making clear, personal promises to them?  If God still does both call personally and promise personally, then, we could suppose that a person actually being sought by God to be a pastor might expect to have God make clear, personal promises to him.   Of course, maybe I am wrong!  Who knows!  But, if God does not call personally, then, perhaps there is nothing to discern in terms of guidance to be a pastor or not, and we should go by guesswork.

Guesswork, as in, what the police bomb squad guy uses when trying to defuse a bomb he has not seen before.  It works sometimes but not always.  If God is not going to be responsible for you being a pastor, and for at least some people it seems to me God does not want the responsibility, do you want the responsibility?

Now, I am not saying that God never gives people an instruction to do a thing without also giving them a promise . . . but I suspect that for many people it would be a good idea to start expecting promises.

I suppose that one kind of instruction that God or others is alleged to make is to some people who are near death or may be returning to life or deciding if they will be alive on earth.  It is alleged that God or angels or others have said such things as, “Go back, you have more to do,” or They told me my lessons were not complete and I still had much to learn and much to teach others. They told me that I was needed,” or “Go back, you have more to learn,” or, “Read my book; I don’t lie,” or, “Go and live on earth and you will learn some useful things.”

Was Hitler needed?  I don’t know.  I suppose he helped us have computers today.  Some people have lives that do harm.  Yesterday I saw a show of some of the lives of Bonnie and Clyde.  Some people do not seem to learn much.  Some people have lives that do more harm than what seems to be the average garden-variety harm done.

One of the new and interesting ideas that came forward with the writing of the Torah–or the Old Testament (which is larger than the Torah) was that we could question God.  So, if and when God has some larger project He wishes done or some instruction or request, I may wish to ask what promises He will make, if any, cause I have seen  plans, projects and churches “fail.”

Forgive my being a bit difficult.

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