Being contacted with a preaching opportunity, cleared my mind of all the negativity that had been running though it. Instantly I was excited and “on fire” for god again. The woman on the phone had explained that my grandfather had been filling in on Sunday nights, but since he was getting ready to have treatment for Prostate cancer, he needed some time off and had recommended that they contact me to see if I would fill in one Sunday.
The church that I would be filling in at was one of the most fundamentalist Assembly of God churches in the area. For several years they had been without a pastor and the Assembly of God higher-ups had recommended they close up shop. Several of the women in the congregation had refused to shut down and since the Assemblies refused to send a full-time pastor, they had chosen to have fill-ins from various Pentecostal denominations. For the last several months the preaching had been done by my Grandfather on Sunday nights, a female Assembly of God pastor on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday nights were covered by the minister from the Full Gospel church that had recently conducted the ceremony for my marriage.
I knew that if I was going to be taken seriously, I would have to prepare a strong message full of hell fire, brimstone, Christ’s suffering, A hell to shun and a heaven to gain. I sat down to prepare my sermon and was surprised when an hour later I was finished. The message came to me so easily I felt that it had to be divinely inspired, but in reality it was probably just the fact that I had sat in so many services, I could probably write a sermon in my sleep. Sermon writing is fairly easy to tell you the truth. All you need for a sermon is an introduction, three main points, each having a couple of sub-points, and a conclusion. Any paper you’ve ever written for a class or any application you have ever filled out has been harder that preparing a sermon that will cause people to shout “amen”.
As the day approached I found myself getting more and more excited. I remember how good that anticipation felt and how strong my faith was during that time before the sermon. I was going to save souls and rescue folks from the fires of hell. When the day arrived I was nearly jumping with excitement. Walking up the steps to the church, I took a deep breath and stepped in. I went straight to the altar and spent nearly an hour praying while the service began. I took my seat filled with a deep appreciation for the opportunity that I had been given. The song service was exciting filled with old gospel songs like, “Hold the Fort,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There.” Then came my moment, I approached the pulpit, looked out at the congregation and saw the excited faces of 12 people.
Nothing is more discouraging to a minister than a church full of empty pews, but it didn’t matter to me that night. I opened my mouth and out poured my sermon. I jumped, I stamped, I paced the stage pointing out at the church at just the right moments. It probably wasn’t my best sermon but it was definitely one of my most passionate. I heard an “Amen” and that sent me into overdrive, a hand shot in the air and my passion increased 10 times. Now, I will tell you, I’ve done a lot of drugs over the years, but there isn’t a single high that has ever compared to the feeling of having an audience in the palm of your hand.
At the end of the service an old man, bent over and barely able to move walked toward the pulpit, he asked for prayer and when I laid my hands on him, he began to shake, a few seconds later he burst into tears and shot his hands into the air, the next thing I know he is running around the church. In my mind I had just healed a lame man in the same manner as Jesus in the Bible. It would be months before I realized that this man did the same thing nearly every service he attended.
From behind the pulpit I delivered the priestly blessing from Numbers 6 to the congregation. We prayed once more and I dismissed the service. Afterwords everyone shook my hand and told me how good the service was. My great-aunt who was in attendance told me she hadn’t heard a sermon like that in nearly 30 years and she hoped I would be back soon. I drove home still feeling the high of the service.
When I got home my phone rang and once again it was the same woman. She wanted to tell me once more how good the sermon that night had been and asked if i could fill in the next two Sunday nights as well. I agreed, and hung up the phone. I had done it, I was a minister and I had more than one preaching date in my future. It took some time that night to get to sleep, due to the level of excitement that I still felt long into the night. I was doing gods work and I knew good things were in my future.
To continue on to part 16 of my journey, click here.