Thursday, July 11, 2024

Healing from Past Heartaches

There is a broken path in life. A road many of us here have walked. It’s the road of perdition. It’s the road of destruction. But it doesn’t feel that way when we walk it, not at first at least.

The road begins with a surrender. It’s a surrender that occurred in my heart when I had had too much. I had been broken. I was overwhelmed by life, and as a child, we don’t have enough to stand against it all.

So at some point, this child gives up.

There’s a fascinating bible verse that tells us what this means. It says in Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”

So that’s what it means to lose heart. I’ve read that phrase so many times in the scripture, to “lose heart” but I never understood what it meant.

Losing heart must be a lot like giving up.

Proverbs 18:14 ESV “A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

When I was 16 or 17 so many things were coming at me, my parents were splitting up, I was experimenting with drugs and drinking, I was being bullied relentlessly in school, and I felt this pressure to perform, to be a sports star. I was depressed, I was in sin, and I was broken.

And finally something snapped in me and I decided, I’m not going to try anymore. I rebelled. I surrendered to a dark path.

Can you relate? Have you been there?

We’re talking about healing today. And I think to understand healing, we have to understand what it means to lose heart. To lose heart is to be so pressured by life’s problems that we give up inside. Without Jesus, there’s little we can do, we lose heart. But we Jesus, we can find it again, and find hope.

Jesus changes everything. The ultimate source of healing is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the doorway, God the Father is the architect & guide of the plan, and the Spirit is the indwelling healing presence.

Jesus Christ does the mighty work within us. But it isn’t finished there. We still need to heal and grow. There is work to be done.

But many of you walked that broken road. That broken road, of having given up on life, leads to many dark places. It leads to numbing of the pain with drinking and drugs, or relationships, and romance. It can lead to workaholism, working working working never stopping. It can lead to overeating. It can lead to all sorts of addictions, and sins, and shortcomings.

And like a snowball rolling down hill you just keep accumulating traumatic events. Broken relationships. Bitter memories. Resentments. People you hate. Anger at the system. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. Negative thoughts.

I know, I walked that broken road. The road got darker and darker. But along the way we encountered Jesus. We encountered God. Someone ministered to us. Someone shared God’s love with us.

Hope came back into our lives, after being gone for so many years.

Still we didn’t want to give up. We didn’t want to surrender to Him. We resisted letting God have our lives. But then finally we decided, it’s worth it, and we said Jesus, take it all. I’m yours.

Jesus accepted this request, and changed us. We were born again. We started a new adventure, a new journey took root.

Many of you are there today. God has changed your life. You’re a new creation. You’re washed in the blood of Jesus.

And yet there is still a cloud over your life. You don’t experience the sunlight of the spirit. You struggle with difficult memories. You battle secret sins.

Why? What’s the problem?

Healing is needed.

Jesus really did forgive our sins. He really did die for us on the cross. We really are changed and new.

But we still have trauma from the past that is affecting us. And we can’t walk in victory until we deal with those pains, bring them to the surface, and invite Jesus to heal the damage.

We’re going to pause and pray: “Lord, Father, if there are things that need to come up to the surface right now, we boldly ask you to bring them up to the surface, bring them to mind, and help us to offer them to you, for you to heal, in Jesus name, amen.”

What is the ancient pain you carry? What is the painful memory that keeps bothering you? What is the unforgiveness? What is the hatred?

Jesus has a title, and it’s the great physician. He is able and willing to heal us.

Our part, is to do something difficult. Which is to face it head on.

So now we’re on the new road. The pilgrimage road. The road of faith, like we talked about last week.

The Christian road is accepting difficult things, things like healing. And we naturally resist.

First thing is simple, we have to want to be healed. Is that an odd question? Do you want to get well? That’s the question Jesus asked the man at the well. He’d been there paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus asked him, “do you want to get well?”

Many who are broken, many who are hurt, many who are addicted, they don’t want to get well. They are so used to their chains, they can’t imagine being free.

What about you today? Do you want to be free? If we can say yes, then we can move forward on this road.

Second thing is this, it’s crazy simple, but incredibly profound. We have to believe that God really can take it away and heal us.

Don’t all Christians believe that? Yes I suppose you could say that. But, how often do we struggle with doubt and unbelief when it comes to us?

We know what God says about us, yet we are so cruel to ourselves in our own minds.

Begin to believe that Jesus really can take it away and heal you. He can. He wants to. He will.

He is able.

Thirdly, we want to organize the emotion, the thought, the pain, whatever it might be. We want to write it down on paper. We want to think about it and consider what happened.

The instinct is often to hide it away. Ignore it. Refuse to think about it. But the only way out is through.

Face it boldly. Let God bring it to the surface.

When we go through hard times sometimes we don’t really heal afterward and things build up within as anxiety or depression. When we write things down and learn about the inner workings of our mind, those traumas get cleared out, making way for the light of God’s presence.

I’m convinced many of us don’t experience the fullness of God’s presence because we have too much wreckage from our pasts built up within. But when we clear out those past struggles, we make room for the Spirit of God to fully consume us.

Or as it says in James 5:16 “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

If you'd like a more detailed inventory guide Google search "fourth step inventory guide." You'll find quite a few documents that you can print out to guide your inventory process.

For things that go deeper, you may need to meet with your pastor, or with a good Christian counselor, or trusted friend.

Fourthly, we offer it up to Him.


1. You’re honestly willing to be healed.

2. You really believe God can heal you and take it away.

3. You’ve organized the issue, the emotion, the pain/trauma so you can see it clearly.

4. Offer it to Jesus, put it entirely in God’s hands

Now you offer it to Him.

What did God bring to mind? Are you ready to give to Him?

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, our great physician, you are able, to take this ancient hurt from us. Lord Jesus, we can see it, in our hands, that memory, that pain, that thing we did, or that thing that was done to us, it’s ugly, its evil, and Lord Jesus we take it, and lift it up. We place it in your hands. We ask you Lord Jesus, to heal it. Healing Jesus, thank you Jesus, we give it to you forever, in Jesus name, amen!

Remember that sequence, when you have something that needs to be healed, willingness, believe God can and will, organize it clearly, and then offer it to Him.

Next, we feel it. We let Jesus walk us through the hard emotions. He’s taken it away, he’s brought healing, but that healing is a journey. It’ll take tears. Reflecting on what happened. Wrestling through the anger and hurt. Cry and cry. Let yourself feel it. And one day you’ll find a place of resolution, and you can say, I’m past that now.

Yet these things did lasting damage in how we think of ourselves. We got negative and down on ourselves.

Next, we need to begin to practice a different way of thinking in the future.

Our attitude is often default negative. We have to let God adjust that in us. Begin to practice the opposite. Practice positivity. Think about good things. Think about purity. Think about beauty.

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Speak those things outloud: Wow, what a beautiful day. That’s really awesome that they did that. Let’s pray for them. God will help them through this. Speak positivity. Speak life. Speak what is good. And soon your whole attitude will change because what is coming out of your mouth is changing.

The tongue can turn the entire ship in a new direction, like the rudder of a giant ship. Says so in book of James.

This one is difficult, I know, I’m prone to reflect on negativity. I’m prone to be cynical and doubtful and pessimistic. But time and again God proves me wrong. See a future where God is there, and you’ll see a bright future, which is true.

And as we focus on the good, we build toward the good. And it rubs off on others. Project goodness in Christ.

It’s about practicing the opposite of what I used to do on the broken road. If I used to brag and talk, I quiet myself and focus on the Lord. If I used to be selfish, I begin to practice thinking about others first. If I was prideful I begin to practice humility. If I was rude, I practice being polite. If I was lazy, I get to work volunteering, if I was a workaholic, I slow myself down.

And as we heal from the past, walk in the strength of the Lord, speak life, and believe our identity in Christ, we begin to experience the presence of God. We walk in the sunlight of the Spirit.

Old sins that used to be hold us captive, well, they disappear, we repent of them, and since we’ve found real healing, we no longer have to lean on those sins for the little pleasure they provide, instead, we find real liberty in Christ.

And then we go from wounded to healers ourselves. We take what we’ve learned and we share it with others.

As it says in 2nd Cor 1: “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

There is this holy boldness, where we know Daddy God is with us, and therefore we can do anything. We’re safe in Christ. And so we can strike out from a position of strength. We know Jesus has deleted our sins by paying the price for them, so we know that with God anything is possible. And from there we begin working with others.

We’re so excited at what God has done in saving us and healing us, that we realize, everyone needs this! So we start sharing what God did for us with others, and we help them find freedom and healing as well.

We’ve found the answer in Jesus Christ. This is cause for celebration and amazement, all day everyday, like the word says, Rejoice at all times, and I say again, rejoice!

The cool thing about our savior Jesus Christ is that he takes people like you and me, and heals us over time, and then compels us to go out and help those with the struggles we have gone through. As someone who has recovered from addiction issues, I can relate to and reach those with the same problems in a way others simply can not. So let me challenge you, if you’d been through some stuff, think about how God can use that to bless others who are hurting.

In conclusion, Pray, pray, and keep praying! God will work the hurts out. But guard against sin. Sin wants to drag you back onto that broken road, and repeat all the hurts again. But in Christ, we have all we need to be free from that empty path, to walk in righteousness, and serve our true King Jesus Christ.

It’s our story brothers and sisters, of what God has done, fallen humanity ran from the Lord, and chased after sin, and we ended up face down in the pig sty, face down in the mud, and we came home to Jesus and Jesus ran to us, made us clean, and threw a party to celebrate our arrival home.

Main Points Review:
1. Pray for willingness to be healed. (Choose healing)

2. Choose to really believe God can heal you and take it away.

3. Organize the issue, the emotion, the pain/trauma so you can see it clearly.

4. Offer it to Jesus, put it entirely in God’s hands

5. Feel the pain, cry the tears, walk through the memories bravely (hand in hand with Jesus)

6. Speak life, speak the word of God, take it to heart as your identity

7. Practice the opposite of old broken patterns & attitudes

8. As we walk in the sunlight of the Spirit, old sins pass away

9. Boldly share your testimony, what God has done with others

10. As you continue to grow in Christ’s power, keep your guard against sin

Monday, July 1, 2024

A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Faith-Living vs. Me Centered Life

Faith is a mystery to the world. It seems crazy. It seems stupid. But I’ll tell ya what’s stupid. I’ll ya what’s dumb. What’s dumb is trying to control my own life and manipulate events to make things I want happen.

It just doesn’t work. And even if it does work, I’m not happy. I get exactly what I wanted, and it’s just twice as bad because I realize it didn’t make me happy.

There are only two ways to live in this world, by faith, or by me.

Living by faith is kind of like following a GPS, but here’s the twist, you don’t know where it’s taking you.

You trust that God is moving you in the right direction. Make a left here, go straight, now make a right, one more right, now go straight for a long time. And I like to get in there and tell God where I need to turn next. God, I’m pretty sure this is the road. God says that isn’t the road, keep going. But we’ve been going straight for like 2 hours we gotta turn.

How in the world am I going to get to where God wants me if I keep trying to change the route?

Faith is like following that GPS each day. What does God want me to do? What does God have next? What is His plan and purpose?

Now if it were my uncle calling and telling me where to turn, well I’m not gonna trust it, how does he know where I’m supposed to go?

But this is God. And faith is trusting that God is giving me the right path to take. Even when it seems odd or even crazy.

We’ve all been at that point of decision: You know God is telling you to leave this job and take a new one. You know God is telling you to move there. You know God is telling you to do something that is risky.

Many times it’s just God saying go talk to that person about my son Jesus.

And I’ve gone both ways at times. Sometimes I draw back, well no God I’m not gonna do that. And I move on. And I miss the blessing. I miss something special.

How do I know that?

Because there have been so many times when God called me to step out and by a miracle I did step out, and my goodness, it was exactly right. I couldn’t tell before. But I could tell after.

Let me say that again, we can’t tell before we jump in, but we find out after. We find a blessing we didn’t expect.

I have these supernatural stories, where I was just doing something boring, going to the store or whatever, and God interrupts me, and then I make a friend, I get to pray with someone, I get to see God do something. And it’s amazing.

The miracle of faith is when we say yes to the crazy thing God calls us to do.

So I want to tell you about some people who did the crazy thing, and it opened up a portal, to a God-moment that changed their lives forever.

You can sense it in the moment, the portal is open in front of you, will you jump in? These people of faith stepped forward boldly into the unknown.

It says in Hebrews 11:8-12, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

The land that Abraham was walking on was his inheritance. As he walked those hills and valleys, do you think he ever dreamed that his people would inherit it?

God called Abraham to step out in faith, leave the land you are in and come to a place you’ve never heard of. Live your life in tents. Leave it all behind. And he does.

Abraham was looking forward. We too have to learn to look forward. Human beings we focus on the next paycheck, the next party, the next movie, but we’ve got to look beyond all that, to beyond the grave. What comes next? A New City of God.

Set your life around that hope. It sounds crazy. But it’s true.

Yet here’s the thing, it seemed impossible. God does that. It can’t be done. Abraham’s and Sarah have no child. They are too old to have a child. It can’t be done.

God does that time and again. He does the impossible to show us His glory. The hard part is to have faith that God can and will do it.

What is God calling you right now to stay in faith about?

It is a family member or child who is lost in addiction? Is it an unsaved parent or grandparent? Is it a sickness you’ve had for many years? Is it tough finances? Is it not giving up in times of depression? God is faithful.

But God will test you. He will test you and make you wait on the promise.

Are you really going to trust Him?

From a man and woman who were near 100 years old, came a miracle child, and from that, untold descendants, an entire nation.

That’s walking by faith, which is very practical, day by day, trusting God, living different, denying the flesh, refusing sin, loving our enemies, praying for people who persecute us, that is faith living. And it’s radically different from the world.

What about a me-centered life? I used to live that life, for many years before Jesus changed my life.

It’s doing the next thing that I want to do. It’s indulging the flesh. It’s getting high. It’s trashing someone’s on social media. It’s cheating on that girlfriend or boyfriend just to be bad. It’s cheating on that test. It’s waging a quiet war against a coworker whose job you want. It’s cheating on your taxes. It’s spending all my money on me, me, me. It’s building my life around getting what I want.

Can you get away with it? Sure. Can you survive that way? I suppose you could. But you’re gonna be empty. And each day living like that, inside you’re gonna die a little bit more.

If you’re stuck there today, or maybe you’re living a double-life, acting one way in church and another way the rest of the week, talk to God right now, close your eyes, pray and ask God’s forgiveness.

Lord, I’m sorry, I’ve been living a double life. Lord, I’m tired of it. Lord, set me free, make me whole again, I crucify the flesh, get behind me Satan!

No secret sin is too powerful. The enemy has been lying to you saying oh God took away this and that but he can’t touch that porn issue, he can’t do anything with the pride. He can’t deal with the lying or backbiting. Wrong, that devil is a liar, and you can be free!

Start to believe. But stop fighting it. Stop pulling at those chains. You can’t break them. Instead surrender. God I give up. I can’t fight it. Lord, you’ve got to take it away. Take it away today!

Walk by Faith. Trust His promises.

That isn’t easy friends. Leaving my last appointment after five years wasn’t easy. But I knew it was God’s will. It was hard to pack everything up and move to a town where I’ve never been. But I knew it was God’s will. And if God said tomorrow, pack up again and go to the moon, well… I better start packing. God is trustworthy.

We are surrounded saints, by a great cloud of witnesses. Millions and millions of people across human history who have chosen to live by faith. Well, I could never be like them, wrong! You make the choice. I’m going to live by faith. You chase prayer, you chase God, you chase the word, and slowly but surely, you find faith, you grow in faith, and your life more and more becomes defined by faith.

It’s a journey, you get it?

By faith, Abraham was told to kill his own son. Offer him up. Abraham didn’t refuse. He so completely trusted God, he thought to himself, well, if God tells me to sacrifice Isaac, God can raise Isaac from the dead. Wow!

It didn’t make sense, it seemed crazy, but he simply did what God said. And Later he realized, wow, good thing I listened to God on that one.

Remember that friends, do what God says even when it seems odd. Even when I’d much rather chase that relationship, God says it isn’t right. Save yourself some heartache and just say no.

I remember when I came to Owosso my last appointment and the DC said we got this thing called dinner church. I didn’t get it. But God confirmed it and we did it. And it ended up being one of the most blessed ministries I’ve seen. But it meant going against what I thought was best, and trusting what God was doing.

How do I do this? How do I live by faith? You learn to think in way that is connected with God. You hedge every big decision in prayer. I better pray about this one before I take an action here. I better open up my Bible and see what God is going to say about this.

As you do that, you’ll find God’s power surrounds the problem. I’m not kidding you will feel it. As you seek God, as you pray, as you page through the word, as you listen to sermons and podcasts, God begins to reveal the next step on the path ahead.

In this you learn to live a supernatural life. You go from a debased, pleasure-based, empty life, to a supernatural journey, a God-driven adventure.

It says in Hebrews 11:32-38, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

They went from weakness to strength, because they had trusted in their God. You are part of this great adventure. You are part of this faithful family from all history, if you really walk by faith. If you really let God supernaturally lead your life. Then you will see weakness turn to strength. You’ll also face difficulties, challenges, even death itself, on this journey of faith with Christ. But it’s so worth it!

Lastly, Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Let’s bring it all together now, what hallmarks are part of a real walk of faith?

First, we throw off everything that hinders our walk with Jesus, and the sin that easily entangles. I used to comfort myself that well they are gossiping, so it’s ok for me, they are in lust, so I guess Jesus must be ok with lust, wrong, wrong wrong. Don’t mimic the world around you, even those in the church who live double-lives, instead, look to Jesus himself.

Second, its running with perseverance the race God has for you. It’s different for each of us, what has God called you to? For me its being a corps officer. And that means going here and there, and wherever Jesus wants me. What is the race before you? You know what it is. It’s in front of you. Walk in it.

A Real Christian is known by these two factors:

1, they are radical about dealing with sin in their life. 2, they are radical about following God’s path for their life.

Finally, how do we do all that? By fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, remember what Jesus did? He went to the cross anyway, even though in the garden he had prayed, Father if its possible take this cup away from me. He followed the path anyway. If Jesus was willing to do that, then I can be willing to follow His path too. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Consider Jesus who endured such opposition, and didn’t give up. Then you won’t be tempted to grow weary and lose heart.

7 Things I Learned in the Last 5 Years

God has every person who is honestly seeking Him, on the planet on a spiritual journey. He is teaching you something right now. And he’s taught us at this church so many things over the last 5 years. So we’re going to look at the top 7 things that I’ve seen God say to us over this period, and we’ll look at how it changed and transformed this body of believers for the better.

We start at the beginning.

I remember coming here in 2019 and being so afraid. I had never in my life experienced the kind of fear I had when I first came here. I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know how to manage a staff or administrate or anything.

But God gave me courage, and taught me courage through that initial battle.

It reminds me of what God said to Jeremiah when he called him, “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” -Jeremiah 1:17

If I could give advice to any pastor or officer stepping into a new role, it would be this: Don't give up in those first few months. When you're afraid and it seems impossible, keep going. If you can push through that initial phase you'll be alright. It gets better. You'll feel faith and courage begin to replace fear and doubt.

I remember we started dinner church back in 2019 and suddenly we went from just a handful of people to about 30 people coming regularly. It was amazing. I was shocked. And we hadn’t really done that much. Sure we spread the work, talked to people during the week, handed out fliers, did posts on social media, but in the end God simply brought a family together.

If you don’t give up, you find your courage. God builds it in you as you refuse to stop. As you cling to His promises, as you keep showing up, the courage slowly forms.

I saw it in all our people, they slowly learned courage, from hiding their faith to speaking it boldly to the people around them. God taught us courage and it was amazing. We became a body of believers who wasn’t afraid to speak up for Jesus, and try different things, events, groups, and activities outside the box and the norm.

Second, God taught us the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 ESV, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

There was this gift I found as a I studied the word, testimonies, near death experiences, the prophets, and as I studied about hell and what it is, I began to fear the Lord. And this changed my whole approach to everything I do in ministry.

I used to treat God’s commands as optional. Do it if you want to. Don’t commit adultery, nice suggestion. Don’t steal, nice suggestion. Isn’t that nice? And it shook me up, the fear of the Lord, to realize our God is a consuming fire, he’s not playing around, he is purifying us for heaven, because he loves us.

If you can accept it, embrace the fear of God, tremble at God, it helped me so much to find freedom.

It drew my wife to me, honestly, she knew many men who were “Christian” but it was all very casual, sort of something on the side, along with the porn and the selfish life, the gossip and the empty life. But Chelsey knew when she met me, that’s a guy who honestly fears and regards God and has a deep sense of, “I need to do what God wants me to do.” It’s not just some option near the bottom of a list, it’s the only thing.

What if you embraced that? What if you feared the God who can send you to hell for sin? How would that change your life?

I fear God. And that has been the greatest gift. Because when a temptation to sin comes into my mind, and they do for all of us, I fear God enough, to say no. Part of the love of God is the fear of God. It helps me stay on the right path when temptations attack. No, I fear the Lord, I know His power and that he’s not messing around.

Things that were going on in the background, in my heart, as a pastor, that didn’t belong there, things with lust, things to do with pride, things to do with showing off my own abilities, one by one they disappeared in the face of the fear of God.

Our church members began to take God’s commands seriously, they began to fear God and repent of sins in their lives. Gossip died down. Addictions faded away. God began delivering us from evils of the flesh. And it has been powerful.

If I could give everyone a gift in the room, it would be that.


1 Peter 5:6 ESV, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you”

God taught us humility. As we rallied to relaunch the Owosso salvation army I became very excited. I wanted to show how great I was. How much I could do. How valuable I was as an officer.

It was selfish ambition. It wasn’t really about God. And God knew that. And he got to work on humbling me.

It’s common in The Salvation Army, to try to show off how well we can do. That’s for any young pastor I think, show off how dynamic we are, how great a preacher we are, and how hard working we can be, and it can be toxic.

I became very sick for a good two years. Severe stomach problems. But in all this God humbled me.

I could no longer work in my own strength. My wife experienced something very similar to this, she and I both loved to work from our own strength, pushing and pushing in the flesh. Well, when you get so sick you can barely stand for weeks, for my wife, months, well, you can’t work in the flesh anymore. And I learned, I know she did as well, to work from the Spirit. To put God first, instead of second.

I used to drag God behind my efforts. I didn’t ask Him first. I didn’t work from His strength. Now he’s King and I’m not.

It’s not about me anymore. It’s about Him, and giving Him glory.

Now it’s easy to say that. But it’s amazing and perfect when it’s really true. And it’s really true in me. God did that. I didn’t.

I’ve seen the body of believers embrace humility. Serving each other. Treating the homeless with dignity and respect. Returning love after an insult or slander. That’s holy humility.

Fourthly, holiness.

In the combination of courageousness, which God had taught me, and the fear of God which taught me to hate my own sin, and humility which taught me to reverence God and honestly keep God first, out of this came something called holiness.

1st Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

I became set apart. Really all in for God. A utensil made for special use. A friend of God.

Old sins passed away. I gave them over to Him. I surrendered things to Him that I’d never surrendered. And that’s an ongoing process, it’s not done right now.

In Fact all these areas are on going.

I’ve seen that happen with so many of our people who attend the church, Randy, Shannon, Danny, Brett, Amber, Destinee, myself, Chelsey, we honestly confess our sins to God, express sorrow at whatever the issue is, and we repent before Him, and turn away from it, and God does a miracle, he takes it away. And then it’s gone. Our part is simply to keep it in check, guard against it. Wear that armor of God each day.

Fifthly, real love.

Out of these things, building on each other, from holiness, came a sincere love for God and my people.

I began to learn to honestly love you. To really care about my people. To love more and more deeply.

1 John 3:18 ESV, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine…”

This comes very naturally to my wife she honestly and genuinely loves people. And it’s very beautiful, when you feel loved, it changes everything.

God has slowly given me a genuine love for my people. I loved to teach, to speak truth, but here I learned to love people deeply.

That’s rare. I challenge you today, love people genuinely. That is a feeling but it’s matched with action.

When we’ve been hurt deeply it’s harder to give love and receive love. But if we ask God he can heal our broken hearts, so we can learn to give love and receive it.

Churches learn to honestly love each other by doing things like talking on the phone with each other during the week, meeting up for lunch, praying with each other, serving and volunteering together, and visiting each other in the hospital. Our people here do that, and it’s beautiful to see.

Sixth, the presence of God.

Psalm 16:11 ESV You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Exodus 33:14 ESV And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

All of it builds on itself, and more and more this love drew me toward God. I wanted more of God. More and more of God. I grew in my relationship with Him. Grew and grew. And I began to learn to practice the presence of God, really sense God near me, and enjoy God, and know God really is right here with me, in power. The presence of God began to be very clearly with me.

We at The Salvation Army began to pray over our buildings, pray over our homes, pray over each other. We prayed together weekly during kettle seasons. And we began to sense God’s presence with us.

One of my favorite memories over the last five years was hosting the national day of prayer event at Fayette square and at that event we dedicated the city of Owosso to God almighty.

And we felt it ever since, whenever we drove by that God had done something big there.

We had many people come into the facility and simply say, “I felt the Holy Spirit here whenever we came.”

You can experience the presence of God. You can honestly feel God near you. God’s presence isn’t a myth, it’s throughout the whole Bible.

God can be sensed, God can be experienced, God can be felt.

We’ve become so rigid and doctrinal in the body of Christ, we forget the most amazing parts of being a Christian, spiritual gifts, deep prayer, sensing God’s presence, dreams and visions, our faith is supernatural!

It’s as simple as continuously turning our attention toward God in the room with us, over and over, and eventually it becomes a constant throughout the day.

Seventh, in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

And in all these things building on each other I began to learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.

I knew God was with me. I sensed his presence. And I began to realize, I really can hear the voice of God. I can quiet myself, shut up my own inner voice, and learn to hear from God. And that began small, as hearing from God in prayer or through the word.

But more and more it manifested into a lifestyle, where God will nudge me to do something, to talk to someone, to minister to someone, to go pray, to watch a movie, to take a nap, and slowly but surely, I’ve been learning to practically live my life by the leading of God. And yes that’s real, its true, and it’s actual. It’s testing and discerning God’s will (romans 12:1-2), it’s walking in step with the Spirit, and it’s being led by the Spirit, and it’s following the will of God for your life on a daily basis. It’s amazing!

In the church we began to change how we thought. Instead of thinking, “I’d like to start this ministry, or we should do it this way.” We started to ask, “What ministry is God calling us to start?” “How would God want it done?” It feels like such a slight adjustment, but when we let God lead, he will guide us in the right direction.

I got tired of bumping my head up against failure. Let’s let God set the agenda and see what He wants us to do. And that has yielded fruit.

In conclusion, God has done great things at The Salvation Army and he will continue to do great things in the future.

Review of Main Points:
1. Courage
2. The Fear of the Lord
3. Humility
4. Holiness
5. Sincere Love for my people
6. Practicing the Presence of God
7. Being led by the Spirit

We celebrate what God has done.

We give Him all the glory.

We are excited for what God is going to do in the future.

We pray for the leaders who are coming to take over.

We pray for myself and Chelsey as we move to our next appointment.

We love you all. And we know that the seeds God has planted, will continue to grow and flourish, as you continue to seek the Lord. I charge you to continue to walk purely before Him, refusing to allow any open doors to sin in your life. I charge you to continue to spread the word in this community that Jesus is alive, and all may find salvation in Him.

God bless you, and may God bless The Salvation Army in Shiawassee county.