Some Thoughts on Planning

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The other day I was in the grocery store and I overheard a conversation between a dad and his teenage daughter. The clerk had just finished ringing up all their purchases and announced the total that was owed for them.

The father gasped slightly and said “Wow, I wasn’t planning on spending THAT much!”

His daughter rolled her eyes a bit (teenagers do a lot of eye rolling) and asked her father, in an only slightly sarcastic tone “well Dad, how much WERE you planning to spend?!”

He replied “Well…not THAT much!”

The truth is, that guy didn’t have any solid plan about how much money he was going to spend at the grocery store that day. He probably didn’t even have a rough estimate. He might not have even been planning to go into the store at all, but rather, he was just passing by on his way somewhere and he “popped in to get a few things” without even having a list of things that his family needed.

The money he spent that day at the store wasn’t budgeted for groceries. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that he even has a “budget” for groceries, or anything else. He just gets his paycheck from his job and it gets spent every month on whatever comes up and then when it’s gone he starts spending borrowed money which he has no plan about how he’s ever going to pay back.

How do I know so much about that guy?

Because he’s me, and he’s you, and he’s most of us.

Very few people have any kind of plan for how to spend our money, what we need to buy, where we want to live in five years or what kind of job we’d like to be doing if the one we have now ever ends for whatever reason, or anything else. The vast majority of the human race lives day to day, week to week, paycheck to paycheck. Our existence is almost entirely caught up in reacting to events, only occasionally taking proactive measures to shape events in ways that will bring us into a better situation than the one we started out in.

The oft-repeated phrase “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan” pretty much sums up the human experience.

But this is not only true of individuals, it is also true of governments and nations.

Israel’s government, because of our ongoing political crisis, has not even passed an annual budget for the past two years, so all the ministries are allocated 1/12 of the amount of the last annual budget that was passed. This has led to much moaning and complaining about how these ministries “can’t plan for the future” which leads me to say (with about the same amount of sarcasm in my voice as the teenage daughter of my hapless pal from the grocery store) “well guys, what were your plans before this unhappy situation began”?

Again, the ministries of the Israeli government which are now complaining about how they can’t make long-term plans without a budget and a functioning government never really did a whole lot of planning before this crisis. The same is true of many other governments around the world and the utterly outrageous debts that these governments have accumulated is a testament to that fact.

Sadly, the Body of Messiah worldwide has also failed to plan for most of its history, and the Body of Messiah here in the Land of Israel is no exception. I don’t want to criticize too much and I really don’t have to. The problems are there for everyone who takes an honest look at them to see. Every time I attempt to raise these issues with any member of the pastoral leadership here, I’m told that they are aware of the problems and are working to address them. I believe that’s true, but I also believe that addressing existing problems should be accompanied by serious planning to try and get out ahead of problems that we can see are on the horizon and getting closer.

Brothers and sisters, whoever you are and wherever you’re reading this, I offer this tiny piece of advice.

God has a plan, and it’s outlined very straightforwardly in the Bible.

Read the Bible, pay attention to what God says in the text about what His plans and purposes are, and then do whatever you can, wherever you are, to align yourself with those plans and purposes and get behind them.

God’s plans for Israel are pretty clear. He desires that the Jewish People will be regathered here and that they will come to know His Son who He sent to die for the sins of the Jews and the Gentiles.

Are you involved in Israel in any way, and if so, is the organization, ministry, etc. that you’re a part of working towards these goals in any meaningful way? If so, what kind of results are they getting with the approach they’re taking?

God’s plans for the whole world are also revealed to us in His Word, including several places where the Bible says that ALL humanity needs the Gospel. Whoever you are and wherever you live, are you part of a church which shares the Gospel with people in your community? If not, why not?

Brothers and sisters, some things are inevitable.

Sooner or later, you and I are going to be in the grocery store again, whether we have a shopping list and a plan to spend only a certain amount of money there or not. If we don’t have such a list, we’ll probably end up spending more money than we should.

Sooner or later, you and I are going to be standing before the throne of Jesus Christ, giving an account for what we did in this life. We’re going to have to tell Him what we did with the time, talents, energy, money, connections, etc. that He gave us. We’re going to have to tell Him about the fruit we produced for His Kingdom, and if we didn’t produce any fruit for His kingdom with all that time, money, talents, etc. that He gave us, we’re going to have a very bad experience.

It’s time to start making plans for these situations that we’ll inevitably find ourselves facing.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters. I hope it blessed someone.