As we come to the close of the year I wanted to write about how encouraged I have been through North Avenue Church. North Avenue’s first official service was about 11 months ago at the end of January. From that first service 11 months ago until now, I have fully enjoyed being a part of North Avenue Church. I wanted to list some of the things that I have enjoyed about North Avenue.
The first thing I will mention is that I have enjoyed growing in my love for the Savior as a result of North Avenue Church. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed each service that I have attended during the last 11 months. I think I have only missed one service at North Avenue during the last 11 months. Every single service that I attended has in some way stirred up my affections for Jesus. Many times it has been through the preaching of the Word by Mark. Mark is so obviously gifted by God to preach God’s Word and it has been a true joy to sit under his preaching week in and week out. Many of his sermons from Genesis absolutely blew me away. Especially when he pointed out how many of those text in Genesis were pointing us to Jesus. One sermon in Genesis still stands out to me is the one where he talked about Leah being the girl nobody wanted. You can listen to it here. Leah was the girl nobody wanted, but then Mark reminded us to look at Jesus who was the man nobody wanted. As Tim Keller said: “When God came to earth in Jesus Christ, he was the son of Leah. Oh yes, he was! He became the man nobody wanted. He was born in a manger. He had no beauty that we should desire him. He came to his own and his own received him not. And at the end, nobody wanted him. Everybody abandoned him. Even his Father in heaven didn’t want him. Jesus cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The second thing that I have loved about North Avenue Church is the worship. I have been so impressed by the songs that we have sung each week at North Avenue. I am so thankful for Ian, Erin, Molly, Ethan, and Ben who have helped in either singing or playing instruments. I have loved getting to know Ian these last 11 months and have been so impressed with how seriously he takes the worship time at North Avenue. He is so careful in the songs that he chooses to sing. He wants them to be theologically rich and doctrinally sound. Almost every week I find my affections stirred for Jesus as a result of the worship time at North Avenue.
The third thing that I have loved about North Avenue has been the joy of serving alongside Allen, Jerry, and Mark. I remember the night Mark asked me to be an elder at North Avenue I told my wife that I was going to try to do my best to listen and not talk that much when I was around those guys. I was going to try to obey James 1:19: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…” I have learned so much from each of these three godly men. Allen is one of the most gracious, compassionate, and servant-hearted person that I have ever met. Time and time again he serves behind the scenes without wanting any recognition. At Brett’s I have seen him over and over want to help in anyway he can with the trash, with setup, with the food, or whatever else is needed. At the men’s conference I saw him serving nonstop. He helped with the food, he helped with the setup, and take down and he was one of the last people to leave. Allen is such a kind and gracious man who loves the Lord deeply.
Jerry Ediger is perhaps the most godly man that I have ever met. He is so Bible-saturated. The Bible just comes out of him whenever you talk to him and his prayers are filled with Scripture. His abundant joy in the Lord is contagious. His trust in the absolutely sovereignty of God is inspiring. His focus is constantly eternal as he is regularly reminding us all that we are closer to heaven. One of the biggest things that has impacted me this past year is Jerry’s prayer life. He will pray whenever there is a need. He has prayed with me time and time again on the phone, in the parking lot, in his van, or in a restaurant. Jerry is truly a man of prayer, who challenges us all with his joy in and through suffering and it has been an honor to serve alongside him these last 11 months.
Mark is one of the most gifted preachers of God’s Word that I have ever heard. It has been a privilege to sit under his preaching these last 11 months. Mark seems to always help me understand the Bible more deeply. He does this not only in his preaching, but during our conversations he is always teaching me more about the Bible. I don’t think there is anyone at North Avenue who cares more deeply about people’s spiritual lives than Mark does. Just this week he was texting me things that had to do with people’s spiritual growth. He wants us all to love the Lord Jesus more fully, and it has been an honor to serve with Mark these last 11 months.