A Rare Honor
Susan and I arrived in Tallinn, Estonia this past Saturday. We’re here to meet national church leaders from Estonia, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. We beging a Nordic Baltic Church Planting Summit today. We feel so privileged to be a part of what God is doing and wants to do in this part of the world.
I had the rare and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preach in Oleviste Church in Tallinn yesterday. It is the largest church in Estonia, was build in the late 1100′s, and survived the assaults of communism as late as 20 years ago. It stands as a beacon of hope, a voice of the gospel, and a steady presence of Jesus in this city and country. As I preached yesterday, the message was broadcast accross the county by radio.
Early Sunday morning, I awoke at 1AM. God was speaking to me. An entirely new sermon was downloading from the Lord. I slipped out of bed and wrote down the thoughts as they continued to come. As I preached from my pencil-scribbled notes on Sunday morning, I knew that God had given this message for Oleviste. I can’t describe out humbling it was to stand in the same pulpit Billy Graham preached from in the 80′s and know that God was using me too. I have felt way almost every Sunday I was a pastor, but having this experience in a far away land in such a unique place only heightened the honor for me this Sunday.
Preaching from Matthew 28:18-19, I unpacked the words of Jesus when He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations…” This authority is our covering, this Holy Spirit power described in Acts 1:8 (a parallel passage) is our only way to obey this high and holy calling. That’s why Jesus said, “Therefore go.” When we understand our authority and depend completely upon His power, we can see God-things happen…things that are impossible through human ability.
A few things happened after the service.
- Many people thanked me for this needed message.
- An old Estonian came and wept. With tears flowing down his face, unable to communicate in English, he communicated volumns with his broken and grateful spirit.
- One man told me that he was up most of the night praying that God would help this church understand the power of the Holy Spirit in order to be His church in the world. I believe, in part, His prayers woke me up to prepare a totally unexpected sermon for this Sunday at Oleviste.
I love the fact that God uses simple people to get His work done. Thank you, God. I stand ready…again.