Good afternoon, Mt. Carmel!I wanted to share a brief testimony of joy with you.
As many of you know, before coming to Mt. Carmel, I served as the youth pastor for a large church located just 45 minutes from Chicago. Every year since the 1970’s, our church hosted an annual youth conference in July. When I finally reached middle school, I got to attend for myself. I stood in a large auditorium with thousands of teens from around the country. It felt overwhelming.
I attended that youth conference every July growing up in the youth group. It was the highlight of our year. Through Bible college and the years to follow, I helped and served in any way that I could. I just loved being a part of it all.When I was asked to become the youth pastor in 2004, I was so excited to be involved in the planning of the conference! And in July of 2005, I was privileged to speak to nearly 7,000 teens and youth workers! I still remember how my knees were knocking and trembling as I stood behind the pulpit that day.
During the 2015 conference, our pastor announced to those in attendance that this would be my last conference—because we both knew the Lord had called me to be a senior pastor. Many friends shared their excitement for my future. However, by the time July of 2016 rolled around, I was still waiting for the Lord to reveal where His next step for our family would be. So, when I stepped out to lead the conference one more year, many people were confused. :)It was the following month when I received a phone call from a man named Gordon DeMeritt representing a church named Mt. Carmel. And although I was unfamiliar with both names, the Lord quickly confirmed that Mt. Carmel was where He was leading our family, and the church affirmed that call with a vote in November of 2016.
I tell you all that because yesterday was the kickoff night for the conference I used to attend as a kid and lead as a youth pastor. I tuned in for a few minutes yesterday evening. (Because of COVID, the conference had to move online-only.) As I watched, my mind raced with amazement at all that God has done in my life in just the past 4 years. I am so happy. I am so content. I am so in love with Jesus. I am so overwhelmed by His goodness and His grace.On the 12th day of every month, I read in the Gospel Primer of my inheritance in the saints. Those few paragraphs remind me that my fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus are a part of my Gospel inheritance at salvation. God gifted you to me at salvation—and, oh, what a blessed gift that was! I have learned so much about Jesus from those who make up the Body of Christ here at Mt. Carmel.
It seems strange, at times, to be the pastor/teacher of a church where so many have shepherded my heart towards Jesus or have pointed me to the glory of our God! So often I feel like the student with a longing to learn—rather than a teacher overflowing with knowledge. But I'll admit that I am overflowing with love, joy, and an excitement about Jesus! And I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world today. God has me right where He wants me—with you.
Thank you for being such a worthy inheritance. God poured out a double blessing for me when He brought the Hasse family to Luray! And before signing out, I just wanted to remind you that we are adding a second service this Sunday morning. We will be meeting at 9 and 11 a.m. The livestream will be during the 11 a.m. service. Please note this important shift in time for our online services. We will be live at 11 a.m. now!
If you have any questions about the facilities or the cleaning, please feel free to reach out to me by e-mail, text, or phone. God bless you, Mt. Carmel. I love you.