My Confession (Don’t Judge Me)

I have a confession to make. You may not think it’s a big deal, but I certainly do. Last Saturday, I donned my best water resistant coat, pulled on my warmest pair of gloves, grabbed my wife’s brightest pink umbrella, and made my way to the Veterans Memorial Boulevard neutral ground to see Rick Springfield perform at this year’s celebration of Family Gras. Some of you may remember this 1980’s music star from his hit song I Wish That I Had Jessie’s Girl (Where Can I Find A Woman Like That). Others might remember him as Dr. Noah Drake from the Soap Opera General Hospital. Most of you, however, are probably wondering, “Why would you brave that weather and risk getting sick to see an artist who was popular 35-40 years ago?” I did it because my friend Steven, who was visiting me from out of town, was a serious Rick Springfield fan and really wanted to go. As we walked down Veterans in the cold rain, the wind nearly blew my umbrella backwards. Steven laughed and said, “We’re going to be talking about this for the rest of our lives.”

The next day, on Sunday morning, Steven sat beside me in one of our Sunday morning worship services. Because I was with my friend, I was more keenly aware of what was happening with the greeters, with the worship and tech teams, with our children’s ministry, and with the sermon. I did this because my friend Steven reviews every restaurant, every concert, and every festival or sporting event he attends. After the service, I sat with him across the table in a restaurant and asked him, “So, what did you think of the service? If you were going to review our church the way you review everything else, what would you say?” What he said didn’t really take me by surprise, but instead it reminded me of why I love our church so much.

He said, “I’ve been to lots of churches over the years, but honestly, the worship service here is the largest worship service I’ve ever attended. Because I’m used to small country type churches, I thought I was going to feel cold and distant from those around me, but I didn’t. Instead, way before the service ever started, people greeted me and made me feel at home. As the worship team led us in praise, I looked around at the people singing around me. There were people of different skin tones and nationalities all worshiping together. And it wasn’t something that was being forced on everyone. Instead, it was natural to them. And I felt welcome to worship alongside them. I loved that.”

Then, my friend said, “We went together on Saturday to see and hear Rick Springfield in concert, but this was so much better.” I laughed and replied, “Of course it was. We were inside out of the cold and rain.” He smiled. “That’s true,” he said, “but that’s not really what I was talking about. You see, in the worship service, yes the music and the sermon were good, but even more than that, I could see God moving in the lives of people. And it didn’t matter if they were wearing a button-up shirt and tie or jeans and a t-shirt. It didn’t matter if they had a long beard, were completely clean shaven, or had face tattoos. You should be grateful that you have the opportunity to see the Lord working in the lives of people every week. That’s something that’s often missing in many churches today.”

I shook my head, thanked my friend for his kind words, and wiped a tear from my eye. Later, I prayed, “Thank You, Lord, for working in the lives of people. Thank You, Lord, for drawing people of all backgrounds, creeds, and ethnicities to Yourself. Thank You for the way you work in the lives of people today all across our campuses. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of a church where lives are changed on a daily basis. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

This coming Sunday across our Celebration campuses, our campus pastors will be continuing our Steps to Success Sermon series. This coming weekend’s sermon comes from Nehemiah 7. We’ll follow the continuing story of Nehemiah and Israelites after they rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. They had to learn how to maintain the wall, their city, and their faith. In today’s world, after we experience various victories in our lives, it’s easy to settle back and let things coast for a while. If you’ve ever been on a serious diet, you know what I’m talking about. If you let things go, before you know it, you’ve gained back all that you’ve lost and then some. It’s the same way with the rest of our physical, vocational, emotional, and spiritual lives. This Sunday, we’ll learn from our campus pastors how we can Maintain the Momentum we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We look forward to seeing you either in person or online.

Today, Celebration remembers John Stewart, the first black missionary to Native Americans and the first Methodist home missionary in America. Born free in Virginia in 1786, Stewart moved to Ohio in 1807. Loneliness and alcoholism led him to contemplate suicide. Fortunately, Stewart found new life in Christ when he was converted and later called to preach to the native American Wyandot tribe in northern Ohio. After much time and effort, the Wyandots began giving their lives to the Lord. Of Stewart, Chief Matthew Peacock who said, “We treated him ill, gave him little to eat, trampled on him, and were jealous of him, but later we were convinced that God sent him to us.” Today, we thank God for John Stewart’s testimony as a Christian and his perseverance as a missionary.

Many in our congregation have begun asking about our 2023 mission trips. When we send people to other countries, they’re often involved in building homes, feeding ministries, working with children and teens in orphanages or impoverished areas, doing street evangelism, teaching ethics in schools, etc… And the people who participate often come back stronger in their relationship with the Lord and with those with whom they were serving. And they often come back feeling more “blessed” than the people to whom they were ministering.
Because the world is still recovering from the Covid19 Pandemic, we are focusing our Missions Trips in 2023 on Central America and the Caribbean – sending teams to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. If you would like info about these upcoming Mission Trips, go to You can also download and fill out our Mission Trip application by clicking here. God just might want to use you to bring help, hope and healing to people in other nations around the world.

Finally, we are continuing to pray for the people in Turkey and Syria who lost loved ones, properties and possessions in the recent earthquake. And we’re planning to do what we can do to support and help people financially. If you feel led, you can contribute to help the families victimized by the earthquake by going to