For those of you who weren't able to attend my latest sermon about the three wise men, I have decided to write a blog about each of the three points. With some new stories and different twists for those who were in attendance! The first of these being the idea of how God loves the unusual!
As some of you may know one of the most impactful relationships in my life is with my youth pastor and mentor Dave Clancy. He came to my church at the end of my 9th/ beginning of tenth grade year. He saw me in my gangly lanky growing days, on into my graduation, and has continued to guide me even in my college days. From him shooting jump shots with me to speaking some of the wisest biblical advice into my life, He has always poured into me in a big way!
So it should be no surprise that when I go home from school, that we continue our relationship as mentor and intern as we chat about church leadership, fishing, and sometimes women while we work alongside each other at the church. It was on one of these days that Dave and myself sat in his office with another close elder that God once again spoke through Dave right into my heart!
We were talking about my sermon from the previous night as we broke down pro's and con's, He looked plainly to me and Reggie and said "You know what really got me last night Dustin." You know me I was of course clueless, so I shook my head. He continued "What got me was, that last night I was sitting watching you preach the gospel in the very same spot I met you 5 years ago."
You see there wasn't a full stage fit for any band or speaker there then. Instead of drum risers and guitars there was a basketball goal and some basketballs. In the same place I was pouring my heart into a microphone, only 5 years earlier I was working (and failing) on pouring some three pointers into a small orange rim.
It was in this trip down memory lane that got me remembering the first point of my sermon. "God uses unusual things to bring unusual people to his son". It was in that very moment that God smacked me in the face and said "I didn't stop doing that with the wise men, just look at how I drew you."
You see in Matthew 2 we find a group of men looking for Jesus because they had been led there by a star. We often call them the 3 wise men, or 3 kings. However, these men were not kings at all. They were actually astronomers! In their day they were the weirdos, the outcasts, the unusual. However we see God using a star to bring them to Jesus. As I was reading this text I was questioning why would God use a star? He of course then hit me over the head and said "Dustin because it fit the men perfectly! I used an unusual thing to bring unusual people to my son.
As I sat there in Dave's office I looked back at how I had gotten here. 5 years ago I was an insecure punk who loved basketball, I had for a time given up on God because it sure felt like He had given up on me. I hadn't been to church regularly in a year or two. Until one day a kid on my bus named TJ invited me to his church to play basketball. It was really close to home and I loved playing ball so I of course went!
We would play from the time the bus dropped us off at church until dinner and bible study. For a long time church became this thing I had to sit through in order to use the nice goals. All of us boys would play there every Wednesday without fail. So no surprise that's where Dave found me his very first day. Dave shot with us, and even threw the football with us as well.
Before long we began growing a relationship, and bible study led by Dave wasn't so bad. Church became exciting all the way through the lesson instead of just up to it. Cool things started happening in my heart as I found that slowly God was reigniting the passion for Him in me, that I had long since allowed to grow dormant.
However, TJ had an opposite reaction. He started drinking at night, and pursuing the wrong kind of girls. Eventually we stopped hanging out because our lives were going in different directions. He finally got into drugs really bad and has since gone to jail several times.
While some people would look at my relationship with TJ and say what a tragedy. Philipians 1:3 "I thank my God every time I remember you." I believe this verse better describes my relationship with TJ. Ya sure we don't hang out anymore, and sure he has been in jail. But TJ invited me to church, where I met Dave, and where I eventually fell head over heels in love with Jesus Christ.
God used someone who would eventually become a blaspheming drug addict, to bring me back to His son.
Some of us like to sit and think "God couldn't use me because I'm ." Maybe we fill that blank with weird, bad, weak, shy, dumb, or maybe even sinful. But take heart! At 14 I wasn't the kid that preachers were declaring from the pulpit "If only he could get saved the world would be a better place." As a matter of fact I was probably not going to be a top recruit for anyone trying to change the world. I was unusual.
But guess what God used an unusual thing (TJ and Basketball) to bring an unusual person (Yours truly) to his son. Since that day God has radically reshaped my heart and grown me over the past 5 years. God loves taking the unusual and making them unstoppable for His name! God loves taking your mistakes and transforming them into miracles.
5 years ago TJ wouldn't have believed the impact he has had on my life. Dave wouldn't have believed the impact he has had on our church and my life, and I sure wouldn't have believed that 5 years later I would be preaching from the spot that I shot jumpers from.
But that's the beauty of God, he loves and uses who the world would call "unusual" to change the world!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
We may be unusual, we may be weak; but who cares. God uses unusual things to bring unusual people to Jesus.