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From Menace to Minister

Like Dennis the Menace, I was a brat in Elementary School. I used to think school was a place where you came in, hung-up your coat, and then got sent to the Principal’s office—cause that’s about how long it took me to get in trouble!

One day, I remember convincing three or four other second graders, (yes, I was only in the second grade), to join me in holding the door shut after lunch so that others couldn’t come back to class. At first, it was fun listening to the kids in the hall screaming and banging on the door.

But then…the teacher showed up.

She was a large woman—and tough as nails. Still, she was no match for all of us holding the door at once. She shoved and threatened, but the door didn’t budge. Soon however, several of us saw our lives pass before our eyes, and stealthily slipped away from the door leaving our friends to hold her off. One by one, we ran to our seats and folded our hands cherubically on our desks as she continued to yell and shove.

Finally, only Billy Bliss was left holding the door alone. Billy was big for his age, but not big enough.


Billy flew back against the wall as our beloved teacher gave one last huge push. Immediately, she yelled at Billy who, apparently, was the source of her trouble all along. The rest of us, angels all, sat looking horrified at Billy’s act of uncivil disobedience.

The fact that He called me to pastor proves that God has a sense of humor….

What about you? I'm amazed at how often I'm told, "Pastor, I don't think God would want someone like me. In fact, I doubt you'd want someone like me in your church. The roof might even fall down." It's true that all of us have sinned and the wages of that sin is eternal separation from God in Hell (Romans 3:23 & 6:23). Still, there's good news in these scriptures as well. When people tell me they are too bad to be loved or forgiven by God, I love to chuckle, then share some stories of my own past.

Like during my High School class reunion when, years after graduation, my friends and I were gathered discussing our career choices. When it came to me, someone said, "So JR," (my nickname from High School), "What do YOU do for work?" "Well," I said hesitantly, "I, er, um...well, I'm a pastor now." "WHAT?!!" came the inevitable reply, "YOU? You're joking right? You haven't changed at all--still a riot. OK, really, what do you do?"

"I'm not joking," I maintained, "I'm really a pastor--a full time preacher."

People began to gather around my circle of buddies. They were laughing and yelling, calling to each other to "come and see" me in my new identity. "What's so funny?" my wife whispered, "Don't ask," I told her, "You really don't want to know."

The Apostle Paul wrote, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)." I don't care who you are or what you've done. In fact, it doesn't matter what you HAVEN'T done or accomplished either. Trusting Jesus to forgive and change you is all you need.

And that my friends is good news...GREAT news for all of us "Dennis the Menace" types. Everyone--EVERY-ONE who calls on His name will be saved (Romans 10:13).

Can I get an, "Amen?!"

In Jesus,

Pastor Joel

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