God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine
or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
He does it not by pushing us around
but by working within us,
his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
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Garrett Edwards, Sophia Rojas, and Andrew did a remarkable job of witnessing their faith at
Arapaho United Methodist Church.
Their sermon, their words, their experiences were honest and genuine --- heartfelt. For me Garrett's sermon was striking - courageous. It takes a lot of personal courage to admit in church... standing behind the pulpit and telling the whole world of your deepest hurts, pains, addictions, and failures. It really hurt me that such a young person had already lived through so much destructive behavior and pain.
Garrett and myself actually have a lot in common! (Not age - Garrett is young enough to be my grandchild!) But both Garret and myself - we have both been the "Prodigal Son" returning to the Father.
I am so proud of Garrett of how Garrett has shed off the old-self been reborn into a new-self! His age is young - but his and words, actions, and deeds are uplifting and wise! To be sure Garrett is still a work in progress (we all are) for God is still shaping Garrett. Garrett is in God's hands and God's fingerprints are all over him!
Again I am so proud of Garrett this September (2010) Garrett leaves for Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
Garrett Edwards Sermon at Arapaho United Methodsit Church
Sophia, Andrew and Myself were all granted the opportunity to preach today, and so finding a passage that applied to something that we all could personally connect with, and preach about seemed difficult, but within five minutes of searching, we’d found the perfect passage. And I know that God was there in that room, and wanted us to preach on this topic, since we all connected to it so well. Our scripture verse today is from the 3rd chapter of Ephesians verses 14-21, which says, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit, not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength, that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” We all were to find a section within this passage to preach a specific message on, and the section that I felt immediately called out to me most was Verses 20 and 21.
It say’s “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” I took this as just another perfect example of God’s prevenient grace. Which if you don’t know is something John Wesley preached very thoroughly, and in it’s simplest context means that God’s gift of Salvation precedes our ever knowing of that gift, and is omniscient whether we know of it, or simply reject it all together. The 21st verse spoke most heavily to me because it directly relates with my own personal experiences in my Faith journey, and my life growing up within this church.
To repeat, verse 21 says “He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Which is something that I believe is perfectly worded, and is the perfect example of how God has always been in my life.
My junior year was probably the epitome of my rebellious activities, and my loss of faith. I got into a very bad habit of smoking, drinking, and sneaking out almost every night, just to feed my addictive personality. I dropped everything, including all of my oldest friends, the wrestling team, and my family. I still attended youth, but I neglected all of the amazing people that I had been best friends with for as far back as I could remember, and my grades at school took a huge plunge. The only thing I was concerned about was getting high, and escaping from my reality of which I was not content with. I got into the mindset that drugs were the answer to these problems, and so giving them up was not an option for me, because I felt I needed to fill this void that I had created in my life. This mindset made me completely ignorant to anyone and everyone that tried to help me out and talk to me about what was going on, and made me reject God and everything he was doing to try and get me out of this trap Id set up for myself.
But regardless of how much I tried to reject God, or get him out of my life, he was still there just patiently waiting for me. He was so deeply embedded within me, that no matter how deeply I inhaled smoke, how full my stomach became of alcohol, or how many pills were inside of me, it never even came close to the seed that God had planted inside of me when I was born. And I realized this when somewhere, somehow, God came back into my life. However, it was not a hard punch to the face, because that’s not how God works. He knew that wouldn’t get me to believe, and that I would just ignore him like I already had been doing.
He gradually came back into my life, and I stopped smoking and using pills, and things started to come back to the way they used to be. And I know he planned it this way, because once I was sober, I realized everything that I had completely destroyed in my life, and it hit so hard. It made me never want to go back to the state that I was in, because I realized how much I had hurt my family, all of the people I loved and cared about, and most importantly, how much I had hurt myself.
There’s something about this passage that provides me with more hope than I have ever gotten from a bible verse. It gives me such a sense of security knowing that God will always be with me through everything, even when I’m at rock bottom. And I know that God saved my life at 3 days old when I was born with a malfunctioned heart, brought me to this specific church, raised me in this church and in this specific youth group, and blessed me with this amazing community of believers, all because he knew I would need it. He knew how much I would struggle with addiction, and the complete loss of faith, and he knew that I wouldn’t be a believer had he been in my face about it. So I know without a doubt that God’s spirit will always be so deeply and gently within me that nothing will ever be able to remove him from me no matter what I face in life. And knowing this provides me with the greatest sense of security for my life that I couldn’t ever even imagine, guess, or request for in my wildest of dreams.
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14-19My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
I am in awe of how many people Garrett’s message will be able to help! There are many people that only Garrett can reach because of his own experiences. Part of Garrett’s message is that even when you hit “rock bottom” when you are Falling into the Pit of Despair and when you find yourself in the Pit of Despair --- GOD IS THERE! God is there not to judge you but to love you, forgive you, and to restore you in God’s grace! But all too often we only seek God when we are at the end of our rope (See: The Mountain Climber; when we are at “rock bottom!”
A brief expression of Aaron's heart including where he's been and where God is taking him. Background music is a new song by Lovelite (visit comeandlive.com to DL their current full album FREE).
Aaron talks music, drumming, and his faith. http://www.ransom.tv