Monday, September 25, 2006

God is Great!

Serving a wonderful God is such a blessing. Over the past few weeks the various ministries of the church have been swinging into high gear along with the start of the school year, and I am definitely feeling the increase in workload. It was nice to have a few months off from teaching the Contenders Adult Bible Fellowship and actually have weekends to get things done, go out with my family, and rest. Basically, I have been really feeling the contrast between a lighter summer work load and my current and continual one.

It was on Friday or Saturday this past weekend when I was getting a little more run down than normal and I really needed a chance to relax. However, even though I got much less sleep than I wanted (or needed) this weekend, I left church last night after my final obligation feeling refreshed. That’s right…refreshed. I was as bewildered and amazed, not to mention grateful, as you can imagine. As I was riding home and going over everything in my mind, the Lord kept bringing to mind one thing, well one type of thing. Encouragement.

You see, over the past month or so, I have been very blessed by various individual people as well as groups of people. So, in order for me to remember this down the road as well as to say thank you to everyone and to God, I want to make a list (not exhaustive) of the encouragement that was out of the ordinary, very timely, and shows the kind of God we have who “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Brea – Brea is a young lady who is involved in my church’s youth group. I help run the children’s program (AWANA) on Sunday nights and we asked some of the members of the youth group if they would be willing to help us out. Well, I had not heard of any of them who were willing until one day Brea waited patiently, looking visibly excited, to talk to me after the morning service. She told me many times how she wanted to work in AWANA with a certain age group of girls because she thought she could be of special encouragement to them. Over the next few weeks, we would occasionally speak and she would just be bounding with enthusiasm and excitement over serving in AWANA. Her attitude of being so excited as well as her commitment to being engaged in the various activities that go on during AWANA has been so refreshing from someone so young.

I say a little more about Brea than some of the others because it was her excitement and overall visible joy that was the first in a long litany of blessings.

Stu – Stu and I have been growing into pretty good friends since my wife and I came to Ambassador 5 years ago. It was his Sunday school teaching, Pastor Bruce’s intentional greeting of us on our first Sunday, as well as being welcomed by so many others (in a real and genuine way) in the church that made us stick with Ambassador when we were looking for a church. Stu and I have become close because we have similar passions for teaching, preaching, and the importance of theology, family, and so many other things. The most recent encouraging thing happened on Saturday night. We were talking on the phone about the various things we would be teaching on the following day, and I mentioned that I had to go to the church to make photo copies, and he told me to call him and he would come with me to have some fellowship. Basically, it was 10 PM when I left and about midnight when I dropped him off back at his home, and the conversation and fellowship was a much needed, and totally unsolicited, stimulant to encourage me for Sunday.

Ed and Stephanie – Ed and Stephanie are a young couple in our church who have been helping out with AWANA for a few years. I was walking away from the group of kids and leaders last night during AWANA’s game time and I heard the cacophony of sounds that occur when the kids are playing the games. But above all of that noise, I heard Ed’s voice raised in cheering for his team. Both he and his wife are generally on the “quieter” side, so it was shocking and encouraging to hear him getting so involved in the games and encouraging all of the kids was just great. Stephanie came up to me after the teaching time (where I teach the lesson to all of the kids) and thanked me for playing my guitar. It was the first time that I’d played it at church (in the morning service) and I used it to lead the kids’ worship that evening. She said that she was hoping that I’d use it for AWANA, and she was thankful and excited that I did.

Josh & Leah – They are a relatively new family to our church, but they are brand new to attending the Adult Bible Fellowship that I teach (the Contenders). Both Josh and Leah are engaged in the discussion and seem to be reading the material (we’re studying Titus now) during the week, and that is always encouraging for a teacher. They are also both so enthusiastic about the gospel and about spreading it to the masses that it is, well, infectious.

Jon – Jon is a very gentle, kind, and sincere man who has a passion for Christ and for others’ knowing Christ. A few years ago when I was first leading the AWANA program, Jon couldn’t be a leader because of his work schedule, but he told me to send prayer requests his way so that during the AWANA time he could be praying for the children, the leaders, and the lesson asking that God would move in the hearts of the children. Yesterday afternoon after the service, Jon came up and said that he really appreciated what I had said prior to observing Communion. I had read briefly out of Romans 3, 4, and 5 and Jon said that He always appreciates seeing God doing two distinct things, in this case He is the Just and the Justifier of those who have faith in Christ. Justification has obviously been on my mind in recent weeks, so it was good that, in the 5 minutes that I was able to relate the truth of the doctrine of Justification with the sacrifice of Christ that we celebrate in Communion, someone was blessed by what I had to say.

Rob & Jennifer – They have been coming to our church for a few months, and not too long ago, they expressed a desire to become members. So far, we (the Deacons) were able to hear Rob’s testimony and grill him about his understanding of the gospel, the bible, and other important things that all Christians must understand. Also, he said that he wanted to be baptized because he had never been baptized in the pattern of the New Testament – as a believer. Baptisms and testimonies (that come from those who truly understand the gospel) are always so encouraging to hear and see. Also, both Rob and Jennifer are attending the Contenders Adult Bible Fellowship, and Jennifer sent a very nice and encouraging e-mail to me today where she said, “Thanks for all that you did yesterday at Ambassador! I commented on the way to drop Anna and James off at their mother's last night -- "Eric must be exhausted!" Thank you!” She then went on to make comment about what we had discussed in Titus 2 (and other related passages) that she, “appreciated the reminder of the role of the wife in a biblical, God honoring marriage.” She then closed her e-mail with, “Thanks again for all that you do! I am looking forward to next week's lesson.” What an encouragement!

The Deacons – I could say so much about this group of men that I am privileged to serve with, but let me say this. Our last meeting lasted for about 2 hours (or a little more) and for a good chuck of that time (perhaps half) we were engaged in prayer for the church, the pastor, the other deacons, our ministries, and other things. That alone was enough to encourage me for a long time to come as well as convict me further about making my prayer life more of a high priority.

Nate – He came in to make an announcement to the AWANA kids and heard my telling of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and he said that he thought that I did a good job of, not only telling the story, but explaining what the story meant to the children. I asked another leader, and the overall feeling is that all of the kids were engaged (as evidenced by the lack of fidgeting) and soaking up the gospel message in that story.

Jeff & Shawna – Of the many things that they do that is encouraging, one of the most recent and most needed was when (a few weeks ago) they called and said that my wife and I could pick a Friday over the next few weeks to go out on a date and they would watch our boys. The fact that they love our boys, show it, and those they see our need (my wife’s and mine) and desire to have time away from the boys so that we can be focused on each other really blessed me.

I could go on, but I will close with one final blessing. You. This blog. Over the past year I have really grown spiritually and I have this outlet as well as the comments (both affirming and challenging) to partially thank for that.

May God bless all of you who read this, as well as those who have encouraged me in the past.

1 comment:

Michael Joseph said...
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