Preaching from a New Perspective

Yesterday I took another step on my journey.

On Friday morning, my friend Dave, who pastors the church Ashley and I attend, called and asked me if I would be willing to preach for him on Sunday. Dave and his wife Dana were headed to Mexico to celebrate their anniversary and the guy who was supposed to preach had to bail out for a last-minute emergency so Dave called me and just asked. No expectations.

I was supposed to be out of town this weekend but my trip was cancelled last minute - not the first time that God has done something huge in my life at a time I was supposed to be somewhere else. Sovereignty 101 - God is in control and His plans supersede mine. 

I have been asked to preach or consider preaching before Sunday. But up until this time, my immediate response has been no. I know my heart has not been ready and to be honest I do not want to jump back into the world of ministry.  But because of what God has been doing in my life in recent months in particular, I knew I needed to consider it. Something was different this time.

I prayed about it. I called my wife and some others whom I trust and asked them if they thought I am ready. I thought about it. I wrestled with it. I prayed about it some more. I struggled. And eventually I decided God was leading me to take this step.

Here are some of my thoughts on this somewhat small but monumental step in our journey:

- I'm not sure I would ever feel "ready" to take this step. Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether and when someone who has "fallen" should re-enter any form of ministry (including just speaking).  What God has taught me is I must take my cues not from the opinions of anyone and everyone but I must follow His lead and calling in my life regardless of what others think or say.

- Preaching on Sunday was not a step back into full-time ministry for me. It was simply a step on my journey to celebrate God's work in our lives. In recent months, God has been reminding us that we are testimonies of His grace. We will not live in shame. We will celebrate His redemption and healing in our lives.  Preaching on Sunday was an opportunity to come out of hiding and celebrate the work of the gospel - to celebrate Jesus. I had just posted on this truth earlier in the week! God's timing is impeccable!

- Because the opportunity developed so quickly, I did not have time to process it and little time to prepare. I had one day to be ready. I believe that one of the reasons I allowed my heart to wander from God earlier in my life is because I used the gifts He has given me for my own glory and satisfaction - not intentionally but it happened. I love to speak. I love to be on a stage and engage people with a message. I have been preaching since I was teenager. Before Sunday, this is the longest I have gone without preaching in 2 decades! One of my fears of re-entering ministry is that I never want it to be about me again.  I have lived that facade. Preaching comes with a natural pull toward self-fulfillment. I have watched it happen time and time again in my life and in the lives of others. It is a difficult balance to strike.  Because I had so little time to prepare and because of the emotional, spiritual, and mental weight of being back on stage, I was forced into a situation where I had to rely completely on God's enabling power. Again - I love how God works.

- I did not share the entirety of my story on Sunday - just enough of it for people to know that I am a product of redemption, grace, and healing. I am sure that the opportunity to share my story in greater depth will come at a later time. But I know that I am not quite ready for the emotional weight sharing that story publicly brings with it. God is still healing my heart in that area.  This opportunity allowed me to point to Jesus while only sharing enough to let people know I am a fallen sinner redeemed by grace. 

- God has been reminding me consistently through my own personal journey and people speaking into my life that He has gifted me in a certain way. Those gifts do not disappear when you sin. How you use your gifts might look differently after a season of sin but the God-given gifts within you still exist. I am asking God to show me how I can use my gifts for His glory. I am not sure what His answer is or what it will look like in my future but He did remind me on Sunday that He created me with certain abilities that He can use to point people to Jesus.

I am not sure what my next step on this journey is. It seems that God allows me to take one step at a time before showing me the next. And each step reminds me that He is the God who never gives up on us, who sets His affection on us, and who redeems our brokenness for His purposes.

I preached on Sunday from a different perspective - the perspective of a broken, humbled, healing, redeemed sinner in desperate need of the gospel. I spoke as a person who not only talks about our need for grace but as a person who is experiencing grace at a deep level. 

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