God's Work and Word Overwhelm Me

It was the hardest message I’ve ever preached. For weeks upon weeks, I did everything I could to take it and steer it in a different direction, but the Lord wouldn’t allow it. 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to preach at Johnson University’s annual Preaching and Teaching Homecoming. It’s an event I’ve attended pretty much every year since I graduated. It has been a constant source of encouragement, connection, and engagement for our entire family (we’ve all graduated from JU). It’s an extension of God’s church reflecting the love and the sense of family, and being a constant training ground helping to equip us. 

If you would like to hear my message, here’s the link. The sermon starts at about the 18-minute mark. 

It’s a message about hope and perseverance. It’s a message about overcoming in the name of Jesus. It’s a message that, in the background - unheard and unspoken, yet deep within my heart, is about the incredible action and movement of God in your lives and in the ministry of Forum.

“But you’ve preached part of your dad’s funeral, your grandma’s funeral, funerals of friends and their children. Why would this be harder than those?” 

It’s harder because I don’t like exposing my emotions. But here’s the bottom line truth: I love our Lord who saved us. I love the leadership of Forum. I love the staff God has drawn here. Those simple truths, when I step back and contemplate them, drive me to a place of complete thanksgiving. 

So in this message, there’s a moment where I start to really get emotional. It happens around the 44-minute mark. Behind some of those emotions are the deep love, respect, and awe I have for our staff. I don’t say it anywhere near enough, but I love serving the Lord with these truly ordinarily exceptional men and women. I love the passion and diligence Bradley brings into ministry. I love the deep love of Jesus that Tyler Morris exudes. I love the sincerity and love for students Tyler Hensley exhibits. Blake and Elizabeth, though they serve in two different areas, are an unparalleled team. The depth of love for kids and the Lord that flows through Rochelle is so winsome. Tarry and Poppy are such a beautiful, God loving couple. Jody brings such a heart of “I desire to get to know you on a personal basis - I’m here for you.” Max brings a depth of life experience as well as a deep, deep mindfulness connected to our stewardship of missions. Jessie truly loves kids and loves the Lord. Julie is a woman who leans on the Holy Spirit as much as anyone I’ve ever known. Ben approaches every situation with diligence and an unparalleled work ethic. Marlowe brings a love of service, diligence, and “can do” into each ministry opportunity he takes on. Our administrative team of Kim, Melinda, and Melanie all bring unique talents and gifts that help Forum soar. 

I say this because I’ve been driven to my knees in humble gratitude for what God is doing. I say this because I’ve been around nearly 700 ministers over the past 2 weeks and many of them express concerns about inner staff drama. We don’t have that. What we have is a unified staff who loves to do ministry in the name of Jesus, who deeply cares about you as a congregation, who loves our community and wants to connect people to Jesus. 

This Sunday we continue to boldly shout out this hope and love talking about I AM Jesus. This week we talk about “I am the light of the world.” 

God’s love shines into the darkness of this world. Jesus comes into our dark places and says, “Here I am - I am your light.” 

Looking forward to sharing this incredible message. It would be a great week to bring friends, family, or someone you know who needs the light. 

See you Sunday!