The Sermon that Took 20 Years to Prepare

Twenty years. Two decades. It represents half of my life. The first half and the second as different as night and day, hot and cold... dead and alive.

When I came to Christ in 1995, I was 20 years old. A stranger led me to Christ. Not a pastor. Not sitting in church. Just a stranger who loved the Lord and shared the Gospel with me.

I don’t know why this “half my life” thing is hitting me so hard, but it is. Maybe it is because of how radically I was changed way back then. Maybe it is because I was expecting to be more mature at this point.

So to commemorate 20 years of walking with Christ, here are 20 things I’ve learned in the last 2 decades being born again. Have I mastered these? No. I’ve learned some things along the way that Christ continues to work on in me. This is in random order.

  1. The more I learn, the more I see how much I don’t know. God’s Word is amazing. It’s only “one book," but the more I study this “one book” the more profound it becomes.

  2. God calls people that I wouldn’t have picked. Looking at the several billion people on earth in 1995, I should have been the LAST person the Lord called to follow Him.

  3. God is faithful even when I am not. I have blown it. I have failed. I have let people down. God is very much opposite of that. Always.

  4. People matter. I spent a long time running on “the mission matters, the mission matters”. It does. But it only matters when people matter. And I have wrongly avoided loving people at times because I thought I was doing the mission.

  5. Taking care of home must come before taking care of church. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 is pretty clear on that. I’m starting to get it.

  6. I have needed to forgive much. But I have needed to be forgiven more. I have managed to fail in my relationships with just about everyone. I have been shown much grace. I wish I could reflect the same.

  7. I tend to over-promise and under-deliver. I don’t know 20 things. I’m still learning, though.

BUT this Sunday, I WILL share something very personal I have learned along the way – some things I wish someone had told me 20 years ago. It’s all about the trials of life. Stuff every Christian needs to know... sooner is much better than later. And it’s all in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5. Please join us.

p.s. - here’s to learning 7 more things in the next 20 years!

This is the month when you are supposed to appreciate your Pastor

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith…. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. --Hebrews 13:7, 17.

October is Pastor Appreciation month.

Do you appreciate your Pastor? I do!

What do you mean? You appreciate yourself?!

No, that would be… arrogant? Weird? A bit creepy? BUT... I do appreciate the Pastors that have been pastors to me.

So let me say thank you to two men in particular.

First is Pastor Robert Huber. Some may call him PB or Hubi, but he’s Pastor Bob to me. When I first came to Christ, I was discipled at North Street Christian Church in Butler, PA, where Pastor Bob serves as the Senior Pastor. After graduating from Bible College, I had the privilege of coming on as the Associate Pastor there, back to the very church that was so instrumental in my growth during my early years as a follower of Jesus. I was blessed to serve there for 11 years, and the lessons about being a shepherd that Pastor Bob taught me would fill volumes. The biggest lesson he taught me was grace - loving the very people who spoke and acted negatively against you. I have watched as people would harshly (and falsely) criticize Pastor Bob, and he never lashed back. Never felt it necessary to defend himself… and certainly never lash back. Yet when those same critics fell on hard times, who was the first person on the scene to minister to them…? Yeah, it was Pastor Bob. Thank you for your example of grace.

And I would also like to publicly acknowledge, honor, and appreciate another man who taught me so much about being a Pastor: Dr. James MacDonald. The months of training I had under him in 2010 was one of the most challenging and sweetest seasons of my life. He taught me so much about worship and preaching, and I strive to carry out these lessons in my ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel Pittsburgh North.

Many other men have made huge deposits in my life. However, these two men have shown me the example of the kind of pastor I want to be. By God’s grace, my I imitate their faith as I consider the outcome of their way of life.

Pastor Bob, Pastor James… consider yourselves appreciated!

p.s. - Never did get to celebrate Associate Pastor Appreciation Month