As I sit at my desk and think about 30+ years of ministry, I do not remember ever considering committing to a whole year of focused preaching. More specifically, I am planning for each week’s sermon to line up with a portion of the S.O.A.P. Ready Set Go Bible reading. So, if you choose to follow along this year with the S.O.A.P. Bible reading, you will recognize my sermon relates to one of those passages. In one sense we’ll be working our way through the entire Bible, yet I have only 52 Sundays at the most to preach in one year’s time. On certain occasions, I’ll break with this plan if - and only if - there is a Spirit-led diversion. I believe this year-long plan has been laid on my heart by the Holy Spirit. On average I preach about 42 to 45 times a year; a missionary about once every three months, and an occasional guest speaker occupy about 10 Sunday mornings. (I will not be asking our guest speakers or missionaries to stick to our Bible reading schedule!) I think this will be a very interesting year of preaching and teaching. It is my hope this might encourage individuals to stay more committed to our daily reading. The January/February S.O.A.P. Bible reading guide is available today; if you are a few days behind, just catch up over the next month or so. I’ll continue to encourage you to read the Scriptures, not just for information, but for transformation. Believe in 2019 that God WILL speak through his Word in a very personal way to YOU!
Some churches actually study verse by verse throughout the year as they meet. Others follow a sermon series established by their leadership or denomination. Yet others are topically based, expounding on what’s happening in the world or in the church. My preaching is something more fluid; I pray and ask the Lord to direct me on what I should share, and occasionally there are times when the messages will relate to the season of the year such as: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. I will stay relevant (adding appropriate points to the sermon) concerning current activities, national news, things which relate to “outreach” within our communities and much more. The weekly messages, “Eternal Significance” articles, and whatever else our church uses to communicate to our circle of influence, will hopefully cause a few more people to be interested in joining with us in 2019. This new plan to read through the Bible with Pastor Joe sharing a message based on part of the daily scripture reading for each week could be the perfect invite line you’ve been wanting. I encourage you to start letting your friends know now! 2019 will start off very busy for our congregation and for your pastor and his family. In the next few weeks we have our: Week of prayer, Missions Appreciation Dinner, and the WNMMN will be having their Section 1 annual gathering here at Hawthorne Assembly. Just a couple months later, Aaron and Katie will be having their first child (our first grandchild). Our youngest son Tim will be graduating from college, and it’s also his final year of Division III NCAA lacrosse, for which Janet and I will be traveling frequently to cheer him on. We greatly appreciate your understanding of our need to be gone a few weekdays. At the end of April we will be traveling to Oshkosh for the annual WNMMN Summit. And please start praying now for favor and finances so I can go this year to India with Oasis World Ministries. I have been asked to return many times, and have had to say no.
One last thought: A big thanks goes to, Pastor Ben, Pastor Dave, Jonathan Rairdon and Greg Kuechler for filling the pulpit while I was gone. It’s really a wonderful blessing to have qualified men and women who can help. Thanks to everyone who helped with leading worship, Jonathan & Kendra Rairdon, and Jim Whelan. Last week was another special moment for someone who grew up in this local fellowship; Justine Moss did so well, sharing her testimony and more last week. As Pastor Tommy Barnett has always said God places the resources you need right inside your house!