This sermon is part of the sermon series "Beautifully, Tragically, Fully Human". See series.
When I was in kindergarten, we used to play a game based on a hit TV show called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. My teacher, Mrs. Floaten, told me that it was inappropriate to reenact scenes in which people were killed and the dead bodies were carried around. She said, "We want to promote an environment of inquiry, but we will not tolerate such disgusting behavior, besides you're freaking the girls out." So we stopped. Ten years later, my sophomore history teacher, a gruff old man named Mr. Marsden, confronted me and told me, "Young man if you ever want to succeed in college, you must develop rigorous study habits right now." I listened, and he prepared me for college. During seminary days my mentor Dr. C. Philip Hinerman, or "Doc" as we called him, saw my half-hearted effort during a pastoral internship and said, "Hey, if you're just going to go through the motions, why don't you just quit right now." Doc lit a fire of passion in my heart. Last year, after a particularly tense meeting, one of my friends here at church gently pulled me aside and said, "Matt, it doesn't help us when you get so defensive. That doesn't lead us." He was right, and God used that comment to change my heart. Then just this week, I was sharing with a friend named Karl, a friend whose body is confined to a wheelchair, about some unsolvable problems in my life, and Karl gently reminded me, "Remember, God works best through our weakness, not what we think is our strength." Those words pierced my heart with truth and comfort.
As you can see, for as long as I can remember, God, in his incredible grace, has brought people into my life who cared enough to speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). They cared enough to speak truth into my ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).