This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
We Walk By Faith and Not By Fear
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
-Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)
Last week, was a very exciting time for me. On Wednesday evening, I signed a contract for my very first book, Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God’s Grace. My publisher is Touch Point Faith (an imprint of Touch Point Press) and I am so excited for this partnership. Although there is no publication date set as of yet, the book will be available in paperback and digital format. They are also planning to eventually release an audiobook. They have assigned an editor to me and I am really looking forward to working with her.
Hope for the Broken is a very special book to me. It includes my own personal story about my call to ministry. It tells how God took the broken pieces of my life and made it whole. It also includes writing exercises that the reader can use to connect with God in their own life. It is my hope that my story will help others to grow closer to God. Because I believe in tithing, I will be donating 10% of any royalties I should earn from this book to Imagine No Malaria. This book is all about hope, and Imagine No Malaria is helping to give hope to people all over the world by working to end malaria.
However, I didn’t have time to dwell on the excitement because I had to pack my bag so that I could leave bright and early the next day for Annual Conference. This year, our Annual Conference was held at Hershey Lodge and there were nearly 2,000 people in attendance representing approximately 890 United Methodist Churches from Central Pennsylvania.
Our conference is such a large gathering, and there is so much important worshipful work that takes places, that we publish a newspaper each day called The Daily LINK in order to keep everyone informed. I was very pleased that I was asked to help write for the Daily LINK this year. I love to write (I view it as a natural extension of my preaching) and there is just something special about being part of a team of writers working together to share important information with other Jesus followers.
We divided up the writing assignments and I was asked to cover opening worship. I am happy to report that opening worship was a spirit-filled and deeply moving experience. I was particularly enraptured by the illustration that Bishop Park used to close his sermon. I’ve been thinking about it all week and I even shared it with my congregation on Sunday at church. It is such a great sermon illustration that I wanted to share it with all of you here as well. I hope that it inspires you this week as it has inspired me!
Image: A large imposing rooster. A “fowl” beast.
The Best Sermon Illustration I’ve Heard in a Long Time…
(Originally published in the Daily LINK of the Susquehanna Conference)
During opening worship of Annual Conference, Bishop Jeremiah Park concluded his sermon with a personal story that was a highly effective sermon illustration. As he held a ceramic rooster in his hands, he told the following story about leading by faith instead of allowing fear to lead us.
“My father served a Methodist church in Korea for many years,” he told the congregation. “My Family raised chickens. One was a huge formidable and mean rooster. I was about was about three or four when I had an unforgettable encounter with this monster. One day I was passing by him when he was eating something from the ground. He ran up to me and attacked me!”
When young Bishop Park returned home crying, his father asked him what had happened. After listening to his story, his father called him by name and said, “Let’s go to the rooster!”
“No! I’m afraid of him!”
“Don’t worry,” insisted his father.” I am going with you.”
At this point, the congregation was thoroughly immersed in his story.
“I approached the rooster,” Bishop Park continued, “My father stood behind me and said, ‘Get closer!’ He continued to urge me to get closer and closer to the rooster.”
Even though he was afraid, the young Bishop Park was able to pluck up his courage because his father was right behind him.
Finally, he was very close to the rooster.
Kick the (Metaphorical) Rooster!
“Kick the rooster!” his father cried.
The congregation gave a collective gasp.
“I did!” proclaimed the Bishop. “The rooster ran away and never pecked me again. I wasn’t afraid because my father was right there behind me. The rooster ran away not because of me, but because of my father who was with me. God’s people- kick the rooster!”
The Bishop’s sermon anecdote was so well received that the congregation burst into applause. After the clapping subsided, the Bishop concluded,
“Please don’t go out and kick any animals. I am calling you to remember that we are called to walk with boldness. Fear not! The risen Christ is with us! The challenge before us is never greater than the power behind us.”
The power behind us is indeed greater than any challenge that is set before us! My prayer for us this week is that we may all go forth and kick the metaphorical rooster!
Until Next Week,
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!
Have you heard about Audible? Audible is one of my favorite apps. I use it all the time to read books. Try audible today and get two free audiobooks! I recommend Laving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor or Can You Drink This Cup? by Henri Nouwen. Try audible for completely free, and if you cancel, you still get to keep the books!