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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  • Lent in the Midst of COVID

    We’re in the church season of Lent, a time of journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  In addition to Sunday worship services on YouTube we will be adding short mid-week Lenten devotions from Pastor Meg and myself (also available on YouTube).

     Last month Mary-Ann Muffoletto sent me a picture. She took a ‘screen shot’ of our most recent Zoom congregational meeting, and I’m thankful she thought to do this. This is the moment when we ordained and installed new elders and deacons to our church. This is usually a sacred moment of our worship together on Sunday mornings, a special time for those new deacons and elders and also for the congregation as these individuals step into leadership positions for us. We’re usually doing a “laying on of hands” at this moment, as we offer a prayer for these new officers. This last year Presbyterian churches around the country have doing this via Zoom, and here we are, lifting up our hands as a blessing for these church officers, as we lift them up to God in their new roles.

    The big thing on our mind in the church office and with Session is when will we be back in worship together? I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but as more people receive vaccines and transmission rates continue to decrease in Utah and around the country, we get closer to that time. Two Session members have volunteered to work with Pastor Meg and myself on plans for when we get back into the building. Outdoor worship services in a park is also a possibility before we return to our church building. When we are back in the sanctuary and Bruner Hall together our plan is to record the service and make it available on YouTube for those who choose to continue worshiping from home.

    I want to close by sharing a few things with you about our building during this last year. You might think the building has been empty and unused, but I assure you this is not the case. While most of our activities have been put on hold, several things have been occurring in our building. Session approved Loaves & Fishes to serve take-away meals and that has been ongoing through much of the year. Additionally, numerous recovery programs (similar to AA) have been meeting throughout the year (for some people, being able to attend a sobriety meeting is a life and death matter). And finally, the Red Cross has been holding blood drives every month or so. Craig Mortensen passed along to me that Red Cross blood drives at FPC collected 490 units of blood in the last year. Most of these units even came from willing donors… (just kidding!). All of these activities have required people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent spread of COVID.

    It brings me great joy to think of how many people Loaves & Fishes has helped, how many people have continued their journeys of sobriety, and how many people were helped through blood donations in the last year. Each of these activities come with some risk of COVID transmission, but Session approved them because they are essential for certain members of our community. All of these happenings are possible because of the use of our church building. I thank all of you for your ongoing support of FPC Logan. I know we aren’t worshiping there, and many of us are anxious to be back in the sanctuary (I am too). Thank you for bearing with us and our cautious approach. Good things are indeed happening through use of our building and because of our collective journeys with Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace be with you on your Lenten journey.

    Pastor Derek

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