It is now officially the week before Easter. I love the week before Easter. In ministry, it is a week of great anticipation leading up to the biggest Sunday of the calendar year. But Easter for me always beings back some really great ministry memories as well.
It was 26 years ago on Easter Sunday 1986 that I preached my very first sermon. I was a junior in High School living in Akron, Ohio. We were attending the Cuyahoga Falls Baptist Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Our pastor was named Paul Rohart and he asked me to preach the message for that Easter's Sunrise Service. I'm not sure exactly why he asked me (other than the fact that I was dating his daughter at the time which may have had something to do with it).
I do remember being very sacred (actually, I think I was so scared that I had diarrhea, but that's not important to the story). I still remember my sermon (somewhere I actually still have the very note cards I used). It was entitled, "Is It Just Another Day?" I also remember seeing God use that morning resulting in people putting their faith in Jesus. From that moment on there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life than preach. God used that Easter Sunday to confirm my calling to ministry.
It was 20 years ago on Easter Sunday 1992 that I was able to preach the message of the resurrection at a church in Seoul, Korea. What a thrill it was on that Easter to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus in an international setting!
This past weekend we had friends visit us from the church I pastored in Indiana from 1995-2004. It was very fitting to have them with us the weekend before Easter because she accepted the Lord at one of our church services on an Easter Sunday. Her husband followed her in making that decision not long afterwards.
I thought about just two Easters ago (Easter 2010) when a man who had months earlier started attending our church in Pennsylvania, along with his wife, prayed to receive Christ at one of our Easter Sunday services.
I thought about last Easter (Easter 2011) which was my first Easter as the Lead Pastor here at the Gaylord Evangelical Free Church! The church was packed that morning and many people came forward and gave their hearts and lives to Jesus!
Now we are coming up on Easter 2012. The anticipation is killing me! Why? Because I'm sure that this will go down as another Easter memory of lives transformed by the Good News of the Gospel - that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day!