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Have you ever had a day so packed with emotions that there was not time enough to express or cherish them? We are more Baptist than Pentecostal, not prone to have emotion sway us, but to follow Paul”s exhortation, “Come, let us reason together.” Today church was much different.
We have started service for almost five years with the other elder in the church [ there were only two of us] reading a passage of scripture I would give him , prayer and announcements. Normally elder Ed would do this with out a hitch, but words came hard, it was his last time with us. God has called him to another ministry. Ed is the strongest man I know. Ed is our local Chuck Norris, and Chuck Norris is famous because he never met Ed on the mat. He is so self disciplined! It shows in his skills as a drummer, in his devotion to the Lord, and in his ability to have victory over the donuts in the cafe’ after worship. He has preached the Truth with conviction and force of purpose from our pulpit, taught in our classes, and dug into his own pocket to help some one who is down and out. Today was the first time I saw this great public speaker struggle, not only with words but with his composure.
I saw the strongest man I ever met cry. His features contorted, his eyes filled with tears, and the same mental concentration that allows his 6th degree body to break wood and stone was just not enough to break the emotions that filled him. He made his announcement that he and his wife were moving on in love.
It was unexpected, his desire was for our little body to understand that there was no conflict, no problems, but the man who was instrumental in Ed finding salvation was offering a different ministry. Dayspring is a mission field. We are not your church on the corner with an established history filled with established Christians, most of us are works in progress, and at the beginning stages at best. We are a group saved only by the Grace of God. We have no programs, no set classes, we are but two years old this Good Friday and have seen lives change.
Oh how I will miss my brother! He paid all the bills, collected the offerings, wrote checks to help people every time I asked him to with never a question. He filled in for me when my weaker health would fail, balanced me when I went too far , actually, really was my right hand man. He moderated our meetings , and brought peace to conflicts with the skill of a Judge of Israel. He was in fact at one point my fleece. When the flood of change came at Wyoming Valley Baptist, and a decision was needed to be made I prayed to God for guidance and direction, and asked that if it were His will for me to be the Pastor he would bring Ed into the fold as I was not prepared at that time to go it alone. God sent Ed, I never asked him to come, and lives have been changed in the name of Christ.
Another wave of emotion followed. I preached some uplifting scripture of hope and then asked a couple to come up and share the hope that God had given them. They testified to lives lost in years of addiction and gave glory to God for bringing them through, finishing by saying they were going to get married after living together for years, as that was the right thing to do before God. They were moving and real and so down to earth. When they mentioned that on the day of my daughters wedding I was with them at 4 am praying to keep them straight and sober, I lost it. I can not believe that my God is so merciful as to allow a sinner like me to be a part of His plan , and be used by Him as an agent of change in the lives of His people. Thank you Jesus.
God can top anything, and did. When I returned to the pulpit a guy in the back said, ”You got a guitar? ” I handed him my guitar and this song he had written about God bringing him to sobriety rang out with the skill of a Nashville musician. He had people singing along to a song they had never heard before. It was very different, and very right for the moment.
The level of emotion brought out some confession and established anew closeness with some of the guys I have been ministering to opening the door to a bi-weekly men’s prayer group. I hope the intensity did not blow the mind of our first time visitor, he had never seen anything like this before, and neither had I.
So transition, testimony , tears , joy, isn’t that life? Ed paid me a great complement, the greatest I have ever heard, he said no one should doubt I preach the Gospel, it shows in my life and in the the church. I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to those words, and will honor them only with the power of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t God great in His mercy to be part of our lives? Pray for Ed to prosper, and for the men and women of Dayspring to step up. It will take a crew to fill those shoes.
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