On Sunday, August 4, 2013 during the 11:45 a.m. service at Anderson United Methodist Church, I had the pleasure of
Dr. Jeff Virgil, II delivers his first sermon at Anderson UMC.
presenting my initial sermon to the congregation. This was a moment that God had in the making many years ago. However, it took my response to His call to bring it to fruition. Being a member of Anderson for nearly 20 years, the preparation for this moment was very strenuous. Not because it was my first sermon, but because it was at Anderson, among people that have known me since I was a teenager and now as an adult. This was something big!
In preparation for the sermon, I asked God to give me a "word" for His people. As I prayed and meditated, he gave me Joshua
Anderson UMC Pastor Joe May and Dr. Jeff Virgil
1:1-8. As I read and studied this passage, I could not grasp what exactly it was that He wanted me to say. Just as with any formal presentation, I stepped away from it and focused on something else. While working on another project, the subject came to me that dealt with the saying "faking it until you make it." I have never been one that used this statement because it is not a way of life, nor is it one that should be used when giving advice to someone else. As time passed, I was flipping the television stations and stopped to tune-in to Dr. Phil. He referred to the statement and said, "Don't fake it till you make it, you have to behave for success." That is when it hit me; I received that and put it to work.
The subject matter of the sermon dealt with persons having a listening ear for the Word of God. God speaks to each one of us in His own unique way, but we have to be obedient and adhere to what is actually being said. I reflected on the challenges that life brings and the consequences that follow the choices we make in response to those challenges. Many people look at their gaining of material things, knowledge and education, and social status as things that they accomplished on their own; however, having all of that and it not be ordained by God, makes all of it just "stuff." Our success comes from behaving or living godly so that we can hear God speak to us. Therefore, "Behaving for Success," is a life changing message geared towards the spiritual growth of all of us.
Who would have ever thought that I would one day move into the direction of ministry? Well, it all began in the early 1980's when my then pastor, Ludrick Cameron, at Columbia Valley United Methodist Church, indicated in one of his sermons that "Bubba is going to preach one day." Like many others, I rejected that statement then and even 20 years later. However, it stuck with me over the years.
On March 19, 2002, I was involved in a near fatal incident where my life could have been taken at the hands of another individual. During my escape, I asked the Lord to save me and He did. I gained strength to run when at the time, I could not even walk. Another episode occurred on my 25th birthday where I was involved in an automobile accident where the car overturned five times and I did not receive one scratch. Again as the car was airborne, I asked God to save me, and He did. In 2008, I felt that my world had come crashing down when I lost my best friend, biggest cheerleader, and confidant, my mother. I felt that the world was against me in all aspects and turned to what I called the "next best thing," alcohol. My bout with this journey came to an end when I finally broke and spoke with my then associate pastor, Earl Wilson. It was during these sessions that I saw all my faults and attempted to "fix" them on my own. That didn't work! Pastor Wilson suggested I do some soul searching through scripture reading, prayer, and the reading of other literature. I did and at that point I saw that God was keeping me around for a reason - to inform others of how GREAT He is and to show them the benefits of being a believer. This is ministry!
While undergoing the counseling sessions, I was introduced to Disciple I Bible Study. Of course, my view of this was NOT to be a preacher. However, after completing the first few months of study, I came to realize that I was not in charge, and that there is a higher being that has me in his care. At the end of this 34 weeks session, it was clear to me that God provided me with the necessary tools to do a "personal inventory" that would allow me the opportunity to "clean house" so that He can come in and do what was to be done. After much prayer and meditation, I did just that, so I thought. When I lifted my hands and said, "Lord here I am, I am all yours," it seems that's when Satan went on full attack. It was during this time that I felt so alone, isolated from everything. But in essence, this was the time that God needed for me to focus strictly on Him. At that point, I reevaluated my work and efforts and saw that I was no longer at the church, I was in the church.
Since I thought I had cleaned house and made the necessary changes that I thought God wanted me to do, my flesh somehow fell weak to how I used to behave when I was in the "world." But God never left me. I found myself in a situation that was far beyond anything that I had previously gone through. It was at that point that I said "this is it." I am done with the flip-flopping. I told God, at that moment, whatever it was He had for me to do, I would do it freely. He came to me and told me that my time was now, and that he had allowed me to play long enough. So I went to my pastor, Joe May, and informed him of my calling and my willingness to accept.
Well, here we are five (5) years later. I have completed Disciple I-IV and have taught Disciple I to a new class that is now in Disciple II. So my calling is reaching, teaching and touching the lives of others in efforts to share God's word so that all can understand without conflict or confusion