I am not your average candidate to be a pastor of a church. I do not have biblical studies or seminary credentials. I actually have a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre performance and directing.
Before I was speaking in sentences, I was singing worship songs from church. I began acting in community theatre and school productions at 7 years of age. This deep passion and joy of the theatre continued through high school and led me to go to college to pursue my dreams.
My perspective and future career goals took a drastic shift when I experienced God in such a tangible way in the fall of 1998. Not only was He calling me closer to His heart and revealing His heart to mine, but He was calling me to lead a movement of worship through the creative arts.
From what I could gather, this movement would be focused on “life change” as people enter into the presence of God and experience Him in very real ways.
Now I am a pastor in Blanchester, Ohio, leading a movement of life change through worship, where people experience and encounter the Living God.
This past Sunday, I had the great honor to lead our church in putting on a creative drive-thru, where people of all ages could experience the good news of Jesus and the hope that only He gives.
With your permission, I’d love to guide you through a written tour of that drive-thru. Let me encourage you to allow your creative mind to paint the pictures for you as you experience the amazing grace of God in a fresh new way.
In order to ever connect with the God of the heavens and the earth, you first need to understand the destruction of sin that entered the world from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.
Our rebellious sin brings separation from God. That word “separation” can be translated as “death.” Sin brought a spiritual separation or death from our perfect oneness with God. Because of the sinful nature inside all of us, we are all drawn to a multitude of sins that pull us farther and farther away from God’s heart and all that He offers.
Addiction, hate, racism, and division, vanity, lies, bullying, sexual immorality, idolatry, greed, abuse, stealing, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and unforgiveness fill our lives and hold us captive to the destructive consequences of sin. Each of us need to understand that the curse of sin results in death. Sin’s curse is placed on every single person reading these words. We will all face physical death as a consequence of sin.
But even with that not-so-encouraging reality, don’t stop reading!
There is Hope. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Lord.” Romans 6:23. That leads us to the cross where Jesus, God in flesh, sinless & blameless, placed our death/separation on himself. He died our death, taking all of our sin & the destructive results of that rebellion.
He was placed in the grave in order to fulfill every requirement of paying the penalty for the death of our sin. Three days later, that place where Jesus was buried became an empty dwelling place, because Jesus was, and is, alive. He conquered sin, death, hell and the grave once and for all.
Now that is what we can call Living Hope. Never forget, God always has the final word.
Now, this great news requires us all to STOP for a moment and get real with a decision that will direct the course of our lives in this world and the next. We must choose if we are going to find our identity, value, and hope in the death, forgiveness and eternal life that ONLY Jesus can give, which will result in being in the presence of God forevermore.
Or will we find our identity, value, and hope in a fallen, broken world, separated from God, which will lead us to death and separation from God forevermore. When we look to the world to provide what we need, it only leaves us in a dead end, no outlet, wrong-way destination — emptier than before.
When we fully trust in and depend on Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we enter a place of amazing freedom, awesome hope, and never-ending joy.
Now the tour ends with you looking at your own life. Are you living your life bound by the weight of the chains, bondage, and death of your sin, or are you living your life in full trust that Jesus took care of everything when
He died on the cross for you? Romans 10:11 & 13 says “Anyone who trusts in Jesus will never be disgraced.” “For Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
This one choice will lead you either to hopelessness, fear, guilt, shame, and destruction, or it will lead you to life, hope, freedom, joy, victory, and strength to endure all of life’s circumstances and difficulties.
I pray you will genuinely choose to go the route that Jesus paved for you rather than you creating your own that only leads you to a dead end.
Thank you for reading.
Phil Nelson is Lead Pastor at Elevation Community Church in Blanchester.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.