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Now that the craziness of this past weekend is all over, I had some time to just sit down and reflect on everything that God accomplished. First of all, my heart is filled with thankfulness. The longer I do ministry, the more I am reminded that we are just broken and empty vessels that God, in His Sovereignty desires to use.
In the past, I would think about all the ways that I could have planned more, prepared more, and prayed more, but now I am more convinced than ever that it has less to do with me and more with what God is doing and what He wants to do.
This is not only humbling, but it is definitely freeing because no matter what I do (or don’t do), I have to trust that God will always accomplish His purpose. Not only does this release me from performance anxiety, but it fuels me to do things with a pure heart. This is when ministry is fun and exciting.
After some time of reflection, I came up with five things that God reminded me of this past weekend:
2) The TRUTH of God. I ended up wrestling a lot with how I was going to frame and present the message (I preached off John 20:19-31). There were a lot of different drafts. But I finally felt convicted to share it from an angle that would minister to all the groups of people who would attend the celebration. I got this sense that God wanted to work powerfully in people’s lives; therefore I had to preach the hard truth. This meant that I could not “candy coat” the Gospel. There are a lot of hard truths in the Bible. It is not easy sharing those things in a pluralistic and self-centered generation without offending someone. But I keep on mentioning to our church members, “If I do not offend you at least once in my sermon, then I have not preached the Gospel.” There were several moments during my sermon where I felt a hush (a sense of awe in the Presence of God) come over the theater. It was in the key moments where I talked about how our sins have put us in the situations that we are in right now, whether through disobedience, bad choices or our rebellion. But the story does not end there. Thankfully, God’s Presence is evident through His people, His peace and His power. His Presence is something that God offers through Jesus Christ, if we would only humble ourselves and receive it by faith.
3) The TOUCH of God. After giving a full explanation of what was going to happen during the closing praise time, I got this feeling that no matter how awkward it might feel for some people, God, through worship was going to overpower them with His love and mercy. I always have the privilege of looking out to the congregation and seeing people’s faces as they worship and experience God in a powerful way. Similar to other times, as I was looking out this past Sunday, I saw many people getting ministered unto through the worship time. As people were lifting up their hands and singing passionately the words of the songs, God was moving in the theater. It was as if God was reaching down to us and touching us with His power and His Presence. God truly inhabits (is enthroned in) the praise of His people (Ps 22:3).
4) The TEAMWORK of God’s people. When everyone in the Body of Christ is “functioning” and doing what we are called to do, then it is a beautiful sight. I was so encouraged by all the people who were serving on Easter. Some people had to get up early in the morning to help set things up. Other people were reaching out and showing God’s love to the newcomers. Still, other people were praying and preparing for the Easter Celebration. It is hard to describe in words all the stuff that went on before, during, and after the celebration. We have some of the most amazing servants of Christ in HMCC. Not only do they go above and beyond what is expected of them, but they are constantly reaching a new level of sacrifice and surrender as they serve the Living God. Everything just came together throughout the whole morning. I just love the partnership in the Gospel. Already I have been hearing some great testimonies of people who were praying for me, the service and their friends that came out. I heard about LIFE Groups partnering up together to have lunch afterwards to further the outreach. It is just awesome to see everyone doing their part.
5) The TRIUMPH of God’s purpose. It has been awe-inspiring to hear how God was orchestrating different relationships with people’s classmates, roommates, co-workers, friends, and family members to share Christ’s love. After giving the Gospel presentation, we gave everyone in the theater an opportunity to respond to God through a card that we passed out. People we encouraged to check off a box that best described the decision that they were making that day. Throughout Monday, I received e-mail messages from our church members who indicted that their friends received Christ for the first time, while others shared about how their friends recommitted their lives to Christ. These are the times when I just stand amazed at the work of God. No matter what Satan tries to do and no matter what mistakes get in the way of us turning to Christ, God’s purposes will always triumph and prevail. This is why after the Easter Celebration so many people had joy in their hearts. In fact, this is the message of Easter – it is the message of Jesus being triumphant over death and the grave; and since we are His children, we share in this triumph.
To God be all the glory (Sola Dei Gloria)!