Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still I Will Praise You ...

For those of you that don't know me, I am a friend of Joe and Karen's from Hope Chapel, Maui. I was the 4th-6th grade pastor up until a year ago when I moved back to California to continue my Biblical Education course. I am currently going to Eternity Bible College (EBC) in Simi Valley, CA and attending church at Cornerstone in Simi.

I attended Joey's Memorial Service in Hollywood and I was impacted greatly during the whole service, but especially during the song "You Never Let Go." During this song, Joe stood up in the front of the theater with his hands lifted high, worshiping God, singing "through the calms and through the storms, through the highs and through the lows, still I will praise You." This spoke volumes to me of how great our God is. To see Joe, a father that just lost his son, acknowledging that God is still on the throne and still in-control, showed me how good our God is; only a huge and marvelous God could sustain a father in the midst of such pain.

I was asked by the staff at Cornerstone to give a 15 minute sermon last Sunday morning (7/13/08). The passage that I spoke on was Philippians 2:14-16, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out (or hold onto) the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." The overall point of the message was this: as believers, we should, collectively as the body of Christ, do everything without complaining; by doing this, the world will see us reacting differently to life's difficulties (because our God is in control and we are focused on the, good news, the gospel of Christ) and hopefully, turn the world towards God and praise Him. I closed the message with the story of Joe at Joey's funeral. I shared that when I saw Joe singing those words "still I will praise You," it was evidence of the fact that Joe still believed God was in control and worthy of praise even if he didn't understand why Joey was gone. This made me look to God and praise Him because of the great hope that He gives his children, even in life's hardest trials.

Between the four services, at least 5 or 6 different people came up to me and gave testimony to the work that the Lord is doing through Joey's death. Four people said they were at Joey's funeral that day and told me that God used that same moment at the funeral to impact and encourage their faith in the Lord. Many of them continued to tell me how the testimony of Joey's life continued, over the last month, to come up in conversations; they were seeing the ripple affect of his life. A couple of the other people that came up to me afterwards said they weren't at the funeral, but they also have heard about the work God is doing through this trial. Each of these people that shared with me had been impacted in different ways, either from Joey himself or from seeing the faith of the family through the hardship. But the one thing was the same in each of them-- God has used Joey's story, his life, to spur theirs on to greater faith and a life that is even more committed to God. God is using Joey and his family to reach people in Simi Valley.

Other people came up after the message that were dealing with other life difficulties. One couple who have been thinking about getting a divorce expressed that they are filled with new hope after listening to Paul's story of having hope while in jail. Hearing the story of Joe and Karen holding onto God in their hard time also encouraged them to work on, and stay committed, to their marriage and to hold onto their faith in God.

It is beautiful how our great God can use the hardest things in life to bring more and more children into His family. God has been changing lives and will continue to change lives and advance the Gospel of Christ to many people through the life of Joey Johnson.

If anyone would like to watch the sermon they can go to click on "media" then "sermons" then "7/13/08, EBC students" then on "watch." Or go to iTunes.

With love in Christ,
Kyle Knight

* I entered this post in the "WORKS OF GOD WEEKEND" sharing at A DUSTY FRAME. Go there and be encouraged with more sharings on God's work.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kyle, (Joe & Karen)

Thank you - for sharing your precious thought on Joe & Joey...

I just e-mailed it to a friend. His name is Alex and he is legally blind. He and his wife Chasity had their home destroyed 3 yrs ago by Hurricane Katrina.

They relocated to Dyersburg,TN. They have four beautiful children.

Katrina destroyed more than their home. Sadly, they have been arguing & separated the last 12 mo. and considering a divorce...

Hopefully, your words and Joe & Karen & Joey's testimonies will encourage them...not to argue...

God's Best Kevin Cox (TN)

Anonymous said...

Psalms 139: 1-12

"Oh Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit or stand. When faraway you know my every thought. You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment, you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. You both precede me and follow me, and place your hand of blessing on my head.
This is too wonderful to believe!I can NEVER be lost to your spirit! I can NEVER get away from my God! If I go up to Heaven, you are there. If I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me, for even darkness cannot hide from God!"

Joe and Karen said...

Thank you so much Kyle. Your message was true and challenging and inspiring. It is difficult to trust God during trials, but honestly God is the only One we CAN trust! Apart from Him, there is no comfort, no meaning, no purpose, no Hope. He is our All in All. Only God makes the pain of life and death bearable.Only He can supply us with the peace, joy and strength to go on. Praise His Name.
The tragedy is that so many suffer life without knowing the Source of Life.

A Dusty Frame said...

Thank you for sharing this post.
I am sorry for your loss.

God definitely does draw us close during trials.
My prayers are with you tonight.