Dear beloved family in Christ,
Today, I stand before you, not just as your pastor but as a fellow traveler on this incredible faith journey. I remember vividly, at the age of 28, when I first opened my heart to the transformative power of Jesus Christ. That moment was a turning point, not just in my belief but in how I viewed and faced the trials of life.
I. The Battlefield of Life
As a young man in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a Military Security Specialist, I learned about (but did not engage in) physical warfare. But through this later in life, I understood the true nature of Spiritual warfare. Like the armor and strategies needed in military battles, our Faith equips us to face Spiritual battles. It's our shield and strength, protecting us from the unseen but deeply felt conflicts of the soul.
II. Resilience in the Wilderness
My years in the forests of Oregon, working in logging, taught me about resilience. Just as a logger must adapt to the unpredictable forces of nature, we, too, must adapt to the unpredictability of life. Faith, like a sturdy pair of caulked boots, doesn't prevent wilderness mishaps but gives us the strength to walk through it unharmed and even more vital (for the most part).
III. The Long Road of Faith
Trucking across the vast landscapes of the U.S. and parts of Canada, I often found myself on long, solitary roads. These journeys reminded me of our Spiritual path - sometimes lonely, often challenging, but always leading to a destination. Our Faith is the fuel that keeps us moving forward, even when the road seems endless.
IV. Transformation and Redemption
I've faced personal battles, too - with alcoholism, a challenging fight against cancer, and the invisible scars of PTSD as a 100% Disabled Veteran. In these trials, my Faith was a source of strength and a path to redemption. God's Grace can heal, transform, and renew, no matter the depth of our struggles.
V. The Family of Faith
Navigating marriage, divorce, remarriage, and raising a large family taught me much about Love, Forgiveness, and Grace. These experiences are a microcosm of our more prominent family – the Church. Our shared faith is the bond that unites us, helping us navigate the complexities of relationships with compassion and understanding.
VI. The Counselor's Wisdom
As a Pastoral counselor, I've seen how integrating Biblical principles can bring peace and resolution to even the most troubled hearts. The wisdom of Scripture isn't just ancient text; it's a living, breathing guide that offers practical solutions for the challenges we face in our daily lives.
As we journey together in Faith, remember that no trial is too great, no road too long, and no battle too fierce. Our Faith, grounded in the love and Grace of Jesus Christ, is our most powerful tool. It has guided me through life's most turbulent storms and can also show you.
Let us pray together for the strength to triumph through our trials.