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 -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 www.cornerstonesimi.com click on "media" then "sermons" then "7/13/08, EBC students" then on "watch." Or go to iTunes.
With love in Christ,
* 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.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Posted by Liza Pierce at 1:57 AM