I grew up in the mountains of northern California and some of my parents’ closest friends were Pete and Susie Lorenzen. We would go to their house and the adults would party while us kids ran around pretty unaware of what our parents were doing. When I was a teenager my best friend was JP Cochran. After high school he got into drugs and was arrested. Now let’s fast-forward twenty years…
- Pete is the pastor of Little Country Church in our hometown, where he serves with Susie.
- When JP was in jail, he started reading the Bible, was saved, met an inmate who happened to be the guy his wife cheated on him with…and JP invited him to the study he was attending. Now JP is married, has kids, and his family attends Pete’s church. When I married Katie I asked JP to be my Best Man.
- Regarding my parents and me, obviously being the pastor of WCC with my dad being one of the deacons isn’t what we would’ve imagined twenty years ago.
When we were in California a few weeks ago, Pete had me preach in his church, and JP was there. I thought of how much has changed with all of us over these years. Katie wrote something about that evening that I copied down and wanted to share: “Special night tonight. I am in my hometown where Scott and I grew up, but neither of us were Christians. Now he’s preaching here and it was wonderful. My God is a God who changes lives! I am no longer that girl, and my husband is no longer that boy. We are new creations in Christ and I am forever thankful for the new life in Him that we share together.” The point is the Gospel changes lives; I have so much confidence in it because I’m familiar with lives that it’s changed, including obviously my own.
Some weeks ago a man passed out in front of my office with pills all over the ground and and a half-empty bottle of vodka.
What he wanted was food, money, a place to sleep (he ended up being taken to a hospital in an ambulance), but what he needed was the Gospel (which I was able to share with him). Only the Gospel could change his life and prevent him from waking up countless more times on the edge of overdosing, or worse, not waking up at all. During Sunday’s sermon I talked about the spiritual liberty we can experience from our sins, and it’s a liberty that’s really only available from the Gospel. Nothing else changes lives or saves people temporarily and eternally.