My Call to This Ministry

The current journey began with something unrelated. Our oldest daughter, who has been a dream up to now, was showing some uncharacteristic rebellion Typical teen girl stuff, but out-of-character for her. I pretty much threw my hands up with the attitude, “I’ve done the best I can in raising her, if she turns down the wrong path now, that’s totally on her.”

Pastor B preached a couple of home runs about a month ago, and one line pierced me: “The devil roars the loudest when he’s about to lose.”

While casually praying the Lord asked, “Are you really gonna let the devil go after April without making him go through you first? What if you’re one step from the finish line? Are you going to give the devil such an easy victory when the stakes are so high? That’s Christianity 101 boy. What’s wrong with you?”

That drove me to my knees in serious prayer and spiritual warfare. The good thing is that incident made me check & clean some things in my own life and got me closer to God than I have been in years. It gave me something serious to pray about. It got me spending more time in my Bible as well. Those things have continued since.

The bad thing is the devil apparently took me up on my challenge, with the problems at work, culminating with losing my job yesterday (They are on a systematic purge of everybody who has been there a long time and is at the top of the pay scale. They never had a problem with my job performance or behavior. They are writing people up left and right for every ticky-tack thing they can, a total 180 from how they used to operate). I got canned for the heinous crime of walking out of the break room without my earplugs in for a few seconds. Of course, we know how God uses the devil to accomplish His will. If I fight the devil myself, I get sifted. If I let God fight him, the devil gets rooked just like at Calvary – when he thinks he won a great battle (like killing Jesus), he’s actually just suffered a great defeat.

Anyway, we had a discussion with our daughter and got some things cleared up. Plans are back on for her to go to Fairhaven (I wouldn’t have approved it the way things were heading) and she’s been in her Bible and has her old attitude back (she’s a teenager, I don’t expect perfection).

To finish this as it heads off on a side trail – the next time I was in earnest prayer, the Lord spoke to me again (funny how He does that when you spend more time in prayer and scripture) and said, “Hey dummy, why do you think the devil is after April? Why is he going after her when he doesn’t go after all those other lunkheads?”

I know a little of how the devil operates. Contrary to popular opinion, he doesn’t spend a lot of time in bars, whore houses, drug dens, etc., except for maybe periodic maintenance. Those things are already under his control. The devil goes after churches, Bible versions, Christian music, preachers,. etc. He’s the most subtil creature God made.

That means the devil was going after April because there was something he thought was WORTH going after. Satan was after a TROPHY. That was really a high compliment of April. By the end of the prayer session, I had an entirely different attitude: “The devil is going after April! Yeah hoooo!” I was almost cheering him on. His attack was proof that April has him SCARED! He’s afraid she can become a godly young lady.

I had almost given the devil as easy victory when I was just one step away from the finish line. That gave me a topic for an Omro Care message.

Several years ago, I talked to Pastor King about going into creation-based ministry. It’s been something I’d love to do. he Lord didn’t give me a room full of fossils and artifacts to collect dust. However, there’s a fine line between stepping out in faith and being foolhardy. I was never certain enough to risk just being stupid. God gave me my job in response to prayer, when I was in dire straights. So I was not going to give it up unless I was sure. I had debts and didn’t feel comfortable walking away from them.

I tried doing both, but that defies the laws of physics and entropy from aging and working swing-shift. I speak out a few times a year, and several times a year at church, but that’s about all I could handle while working at Bemis. I had put dreams of full-time ministry in the closet, where they’ve stayed for several years.

When I first faced losing my job, (I expected I’d get a suspension, not termination, but I knew I had a target on my back, so I was looking at eventual termination), I was frustrated, depressed, and distraught. “Lord, come on! I’ve fought so hard to get my head above water and as soon as I can breath for a few minutes THIS happens? And now I’m back under drowning again!”

Between talking to the Lord and talking to my wife, the proverbial light-bulb went off. Christie suggested, “Maybe the Lord is opening the door for you to go into the ministry?” While I was telling the Lord all the reasons I couldn’t do it, much of it in a traffic jam on the way to dinner. He showed me how all the hurdles had been removed over the years and my job was the last one. I went from a low valley to a mountain in 20 minutes. I made the decision that even if they called me back to work, I was only going to stay long enough to get a few ducks in a row and then leave anyway. For the first time I saw it was feasible.

Here’s some of what God has been doing while I was hardly paying attention:

* No matter what anybody thinks of Christie getting a job, it came just at the right time. We waited till the kids were older and till we were about to drown financially (next step was bankruptcy, my formerly great credit rating was already ruined). She got a temp secretarial job to work while the kids were at school. They liked her so much they doubled her pay and hired her as an office manager. She is doing exactly what God says she should do – what’s necessary to further her husband’s ministry.

We still have to live by faith. She doesn’t make as much as I did. We did just lose 60% of our income, but neither do I have to have a ministry up to 100% support by next month.

* Just LAST week we switched our health insurance coverage over to her place (cheaper, better coverage, no “wellness” testing). Who knew THIS week my insurance would be gone?

* I need a bridge to save two molars. I was going to have to pay $3,000 out-of-pocket (my dental is maxed). Now her insurance kicks in and I will get half of that paid.

* We were able to pay off Christie’s van 2-3 years early. Then April’s van died. I wasn’t going to replace it until WI state Rep. Scott Krug put his up for sale. I got it for 1/3 the blue book price (vote for Krug!). We still have the old Neon. And now I have a brand new, 2013 Dodge Dart for when I have to do travelling – and I have a lifetime warranty on it. I’ll have to tap into my 401K to pay that off because we couldn’t make that payment without me working.

* We have also been able to replace several old and dying appliances, and get a few new ones (washer, dryer, freezer & side of beef, AC, TV, printer, snow blower, desk chair, recliner, car repairs, GPS, YMCA, games for kids, books for me, among them) in just the past several months.

* It’s a little thing, but just a couple of weeks ago I noticed how my Facebook profile appears on someone else’s computer. “Teno Groppi, works at Bemis Converter …” (it was an automatic FB thing). Nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t want that to be the thing the whole world identified me with at a glance – so I changed it to have Genesis Evidence Ministry show up.

* When I first posted about this stuff, Chip Pardi (Melissa Harris came from the church he’s at) jumped right in with, “I’ve always wondered why you were NOT in full time ministry.” That, along with Pastor B’s statement about the devil roaring before he’s about to lose, have been the two things I just could not shake. They have been like frontlets before my eyes 24/7.

* I am meeting with Pastor B today. Tonight is visitation. I used to go regularly until age & swing-shift made it too difficult. Now I can start doing that, and other ministry, again. We used to do regular street ministry until I got old and tired. We can get that going again. I can finally start the public school ministry I’ve wanted to do. I can  even move the nursing home ministry back to mornings, where the old folks prefer it. I got to the point I could not handle mornings on my days off.

* The health benefits of being off swing-shift are obvious and I’m already feeling much better. I feel ten years younger. Of course working swing-shift made me feel 20 years older.

* The place I’ve been most frustrated, even at God, over the last several years, has been at work. Between dealing with the homo on the opposite shift, having to constantly hear rock music, and a bunch of things that would take too long to describe, I was more spiritually oppressed there than anyplace. And it has gotten worse and worse as time passes.

And last, but hardly least,

* While I was literally sitting here yesterday just waiting for the phone to ring with either the execution order or the stay of execution from work, the phone indeed rang. Only it was not Bemis, it was a Pastor looking for a creation speaker. Not only a creation speaker, but a King James Bible believing one. That’s exactly the niche I intended to fill. There are very few creation speakers sent out by a local church, and even fewer who are KJB believers.

Quite a nice exclamation point.

I’ve already covered how my wife has been supportive ( If she didn’t have my back, I’d still be distraught like I was when this first came down.

Okay, I think I’m through, unless the Lord does something else. I’m accepting meetings immediately.

P.S. The devil didn’t take this sitting down. He attacked, especially the kids, harder than ever. He’s done a good job confirming that I should be in full-time ministry.