Pastor John

Pastor John

This past week, I celebrated my 59th lap around the sun on this gigantic tilt-a-whirl that we call earth, and also the 30th anniversary of becoming a dad for the second time. Translation: it was mine and my youngest daughter’s birthdays this past week.

While I always enjoy my birthday, some of the most memorable birthday celebrations that stand out in my memory are not my own. They are the ones when I have done something special for others.

-When Melinda turned 40, I arranged a “Diva Night” at a nearby B&B for her and three of her close friends. While she was away for her celebration, I arranged for our oldest daughter, Anna, to come home from college in Tennessee to surprise her mom. When Melinda returned from her B&B overnighter, I told her a special package had come for her that was in my office at home. She opened the door…and well, I don’t have to tell you what happened next. Great joy broke out!

-When my mom turned 70, we drove from Ohio to Kentucky to surprise her. She had spent the day at the hospital with my dad who had hernia surgery. As we were almost at her house, just on the outskirts of town, I called her on my cell phone and started talking to her. She sounded really down, which is unusual for my mom. I said, “I wish we could see you today, Mom.” She said sadly, “Me too honey.” Just then we pulled into her driveway, and it just so happened that mom was sitting on her front porch. She said to me on the phone, “Hold on somebody’s pulling in the driveway…that…looks like you.” Then she realized it was me…and well, I don’t have to tell you what happened next. Great joy broke out!

-When my dad turned 80, my mom wanted to throw a big surprise party for him. Caution: be careful about surprising older people, especially if they have a history of heart problems. They might surprise you…with a trip to the hospital! I lied to my dad leading up to that party more than I had ever lied to him in my entire life. When I finally got him to the place the party was being held, his sister-in-law, my Aunt Francis, walked in right ahead of us. My dad said, “Well there’s Francis. Francis, what are you doing here?” “Oh, nothing.” I’m thinking, “Really? That’s the best you can come up with Aunt Francis?” My dad stilldidn’t get it…until he walked in the door and all of his family and their families and half the town of Germantown, Kentucky was inside and yelled, “Surprise!” Then I saw my dad do something I’ve never seen him do before. He covered his mouth with his hand and took a step back. Then he asked me as only my dad would, “Is this for me?” And well…I don’t have to tell you what happened next. Great joy broke out!

Jesus was right: it really is more blessed to give than to receive. Giving, not consuming, is where lasting happiness and authentic joy is found.

This Sunday, we will begin a new message series called Kingdomnomics that will help us learn some key principles about handling money through the lens of the Kingdom of God. I hope you can join us this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. in person at Apopka or Lake County–or online, as we start an essential course in the practice of joy-making.

Loving the Journey,

Pastor John

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