For those of you who don’t know me, which is probably most if not all of you, my name is Erika James. I was blessed to be born, with my amazing twin sister, to Ruth and Dwight Miller, who loved the Lord and loved their family. We were the oldest of 4. I remember loving life as a child. Life was full of fun times with family and the best group of friends anyone could ask for.
Was there correction and chores and work to be done? Absolutely, and I thank my parents for that. What good is it to let a child do as they please? Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Isn’t that our wish, for our children to love the Lord and be an example of Jesus Christ? Children need correction, love, direction, and teaching. As they get older, believe it or not, they are happier for it, if they let it do its work. “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:” (Job 5:17)
Growing up I pretty much kept to myself. I was perfectly happy with my friends and tried to just ignore the comments and whispers you knew were being made. “Weird, disgusting, what’s wrong with them, why don’t they do this or that”…and so on. Sound familiar? We knew of the rumors and lies being spread about our Church and family. I was fortunate not to get the brunt of some of the things my friends and family had to go through. But I made up my mind early on that what other people thought wasn’t going to guide my walk with God. My personal decision was made and my stand for Christ and the standard I wanted to live my life like was set.
That has not changed.
I’m sure most of you do not care about my life story, but God has been so good to me and blessed me with the strength of this Church. They have been there for me through the best times of my life and the absolute worst times. How are they there for me? With love. With correction. With the truth. With understanding, and with wisdom. What is a church for if not to bring you closer to Jesus Christ? That is exactly what we do. Was Jesus all love? Absolutely! But did he also correct? Absolutely! Did he call out evil and wrongdoing? Absolutely! Was he accepted? Not by all. Did that deter him? NO! He knew who he was and what his purpose was. Was Christ about himself? No way.
Are we about ourselves? We have worked and worked at it, that our lives are not our own. We belong to Christ and we should let him have his way in our lives. He knows us better than we know ourselves. I can personally attest to that, as I had my life perfectly planned. Did it turn out as I hoped? No, it turned out better! Are some aspects in life hard? Absolutely, but there were, and are, two constants in my life. First and foremost, my love for Jesus. And secondly the guidance and support of principally two people, Rev. Kale Aluli and Rev. Jackie Jacobs. They live their lives for everyone else and have personally been there for me at every point in my life. There is not one member who would not drop everything and anything to help me or anyone else.
Why do we thank and love Kale? Because he makes the time, no matter what, to care for the people. This is not a job that he will retire from when he has fulfilled his time of giving, so to speak. No way, because he lives his life for Christ and the people. He does not live like a king in a castle – he lives overly modestly and takes no salary, unlike most, if not all, other pastors, priests, and so on.
Do we seek out wisdom and answers to questions in our lives? Absolutely! Which of you never talks to anyone to ask for guidance or understanding in difficult areas of your life? Some go to therapists, some go to confession, some go to parents or friends, and some go to their pastor. Proverbs 3 is a fantastic scripture on this. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” and many others in Proverbs. We are a happy and free people.
I would not be the woman I am today without the love, support, and direction given to me by my Church, and most of all my pastor, Kale Aluli.
All of my life, my Father, has been so good to me. And I truly thank him and will always love him for his goodness to me.