God Is Not Finished With Us Yet

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

John 21.1-19

When I was young, about 10 or so, there was a period in my life where I was a shameless zealot for God. It was before we moved to Hawaii, and my dad and me along with him got swept up into the charismatic movement if you know what that was. It started in southern California and I was anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the truth. And I was encouraged to go out witnessing and was brought to parks and shopping malls and tracts were put in my hand to go up to people and hand them to them to talk about the gospel. About how to save their souls for Jesus Christ.

And one of these little tracts… I remember one of them… in particular was a cartoon, it was drawings, and I remember it picturing Judgment Day. And in this comic a scared man dies and goes to appear before the throne of glory. And he’s shown all of his sins that he thought were hidden, but of course God has seen. And the climax, the last few pages of the comic, there’s this big hand coming down from heaven, pointing at the scared man, cowering on the side in the corner of the page. And there’s a little bubble above his head, the voice from heaven, “Depart from me ye cursed one into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!” The point of the tract, of course, was that if you wanted to avoid that fate, you’d better accept Jesus and now before a car runs you over. Before you fall out of an airplane or drop dead or something. Oh, and by the way, God loves you.

Can you imagine a 10-year-old handing out that tract in a park? I wasn’t very good at it. I don’t think I saved many souls for Jesus. But during that time, my parents gave me a tee-shirt that became one of my favorites. I wore it as many times as I could before my mother made me take it off and throw it in the laundry. It was a simple shirt, eventually became quite tattered. I had a hole here and a tear in the seam but I kept wearing it, it was my favorite. Eventually I outgrew it. But it was a very simple shirt. It just had some letters on it… PBPGINFWMY… It’s an acronym: Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet.

And I loved it because everywhere I went people would ask me, “What does that shirt mean?” and I would tell them about Jesus! Little did I know that in my youthful exuberance, little did I know how true that was. Little did I know how far I had yet to travel from that state of youthful exuberance, when I was using big, religious words that I had no understanding of what they meant. Little did I know how many twists and turns my journey would take, sometimes closer to God and many, many times farther away. God was not done with me yet.

I am still on that journey, and very often I find myself pleading with God and pleading with others, “Please, please be patient.” That shirt, PBPGINFWMY, would have been fitting for Peter in our story. It would have been fitting if he had put that shirt on. Perhaps you know Peter, he was the disciple who exemplified the youthful exuberance for the Lord. On that last night, before his arrest, when Jesus was sitting with his disciples… Peter exclaimed to him, “Lord! I will lay my life down for you! I am with you to the end Jesus! I love you! I’m there for you!” But then, only hours later, when the chips were really down and Jesus was really in trouble, Peter would deny having any connection with him.

But God wasn’t finished with him yet. Later after his resurrection, Jesus would appear to his disciples and say, “Peace be with you.” And he would say, “As my Father has sent me, so I now send you into the world. Go.” But instead of going out into the mission field, apparently the disciples with Peter leading the way, go back home to Galilee and to the one activity they know best. They go fishing. God was not finished with them yet.

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

    May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all,

    Derek

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