- I looked around at such a huge crowd of people, and God loves them so much. I was moved at the thought of what a great number of people God has saved!
- Romans 14 stuff. I don’t have to fix everyone or judge how everyone is doing. I had a hard time for a bit judging people that were there. This wasn’t about that at all. It was about attention on worshipping the Lord.
- We were waiting out on the lawn, looking at the 4 hour line, and I said we should just start praying and worshipping right there. My daughter said “yeah, what are we waiting for?” and we all started singing. There were about 100 people on the lawn and many of them had hands raised and were singing or praying. But there were hundreds to thousands in the line waiting. Some of them were singing or praying, but nowhere close to the majority. The majority were just standing around and talking like they were in line for a movie. I don’t want to be too critical of them, but I am a little bit. If that whole crowd would have just gathered together instead of spreading out in a line on the sidewalk for a half mile, the whole place would have transformed! At one point I shouted “The louder you sing, the warmer you get!” because it was 21 degrees out there. One guy shouted “Hallelujah” from the lawn, but the line didn’t start singing.
- If all of the men would have grouped together outside and worshipped and let the women and children inside, that would have changed everything. I saw old women waiting in line outside while young studs stood with their cell phones videoing inside the main room. C’mon guys!
- It was really really good to have a dedicated 3-hour prayer and worship time. When you have a long time to do that, you pray and worship in a completely different way. You sing choruses more times over and over again if you aren’t rushing through a setlist. I bet we sang some choruses 15 times, and it was good. You got to a point where you really got to pray the words as you sang them.
- Since the event was not time-specific, there was a very free come-and-go feel to it. We showed up and joined in on whatever song we wanted. You could stop and sit down and pray or use the bathroom or eat a snack and then join right back in. There was no sermon to get to or schedule. I’m curious how much this is critical to a revival type of event like this. Everyone knew it was just going to be an ongoing thing. Nobody was anxious to get to anything (except maybe the people freezing in line for the main room. I’m still curious about how cutting works in that line.)
- I talked to a guy at the overflow church where we were. He said “Yeah, we’re not going to do this tomorrow, we’re going to have church. So we’ll have to block off parking so our people can come and we can have our church service.” That struck me as so weird. There is this amazing thing happening 5 blocks away, that 10,000 people are coming to (we met some from Atlanta!) and you’re going to kick them out so you can have your weekly church service? In a city of 6,000 people, with 13 churches (I counted), you are going to turn away pilgrims coming for this event so your congregation can do their weekly thing? I mean, I guess it is the Sunday before Lent, so that’s a big deal, right?
- It was so good to have so many different songs and types of songs. The Body of Christ is diverse and we’re all coming from different cultures. I loved to sing some of those songs and I was able to participate and engage in a lot. Another group got up and led worship for a while and that wasn’t my style. BUT I could tell that they were certainly worshiping Jesus in the style most comfortable to them. That gave me a great opportunity to appreciate some other people pray differently for a while, and join in when I wanted. All worship music is about preference. It really is. Otherwise we’d all be singing only 1000 BC hebraic songs in Hebrew. I don’t think that’s necessary. It was great to sing different styles of worship songs.
- Don’t let the spectators get you down. While we were in the overflow church, singing and praying, I could hear a murmur in the room. I stopped and looked around, and there were a lot of people just sitting and chatting. It was like they were watching a baseball game. At one point I did some instruction on intercessory prayer with my kids, so I was talking too, so I shouldn’t be quick to put down everyone in the room, but I doubt they were doing that. It didn’t seem like it. If you go to a place where people are doing a lot of praying and praising God, don’t get the popcorn and sit around and talk about it. Respect the place. Respect the tone in the room.
- My kids commented that we’re really glad we went to this after watching the Chosen scenes with the crowds. It’s cool to see hundreds and hundreds of people displaced to go draw close to Jesus. It definitely had a feed the 5,000 feel to it. We were too cold, away from home, wanting to worship Jesus. That was awesome.
Phinehas Son of Eleazar – Not a Chaplain
A couple of years ago, I tried to fill a little notebook with one Bible thought per day. I found it recently and there are some pages empty, so I’m backfilling them. Here is one today from Numbers 31:6 about Phinehas.
God’s Most loving command: Repent
These are my notes and commentary from a prayer meeting in March of 2016. Rus Lyons spoke about God’s compassionate love for us, starting with those funny stale marshmallow hearts with messages in them. I didn’t capture his whole talk because I was taking notes!
God has a history of loving His people. When the Hebrews went into the desert, God didn’t have to go along…
Jesus knew about death. He was well acquainted with sorrow. When John the Baptist was killed, He ran off to be alone. When His best buddy Lazarus died, Jesus wept over him.
God knew the price of sin and the pain of death when He had to “Put Down” 2 animals in His good creation to clothe the sinners Adam and Eve so that they wouldn’t die from the elements.
God shows us our sin so that we’ll see His grace. He makes it visible so that we can understand the way the world works and have a deeper grasp of Justice and Mercy.
God’s love is a giving, graceful, sacrificial love.
The more I realize that is His kind of love, the more I realize that is the only way that real love can be.
Extra Presence for Christmas
This week we have been doing one of the things that our Christian community, The People of Praise, does regularly all over the United States: we’ve been a ‘household.’ We aren’t the only ones doing this, from the looks of Instagram, but everyone else calls it ‘having house guests.’
Having someone stay at your house is inconvenient. You have to be sensitive to more people’s bed times, you have to wait an extra rotation on the bathroom (we only have one!), you have to NOT walk around the house in your boxers but actually take a minute to put on your pajamas and DEFINITELY close the door when you use the bathroom (we only have one!)
At the same time, there really is something holy about the whole ordeal. Keith Hueftle has a whole book on the grace-lovingkindness-hesed of God shown in the Bible through hospitality. As we are continually considering others better than ourselves with our houseguest, we are given a chance to fulfill what Jesus said-
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. – John 13:34
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
Of all of the various spiritual exercises we do, don’t they all turn us from convenience and comfort towards fulfilling something that the Lord wants to do, as a practical activity (give somebody a place to stay) and as a spiritual one (help work out areas that I’m selfish) all at the same time? What is even better is that it is over Christmas, so all of our family gatherings, driving around town, and hustle and bustle (a phrase we only use during Christmas?!) have an extra player in the game. (Literally, we have an almost perpetual board game going on through December and she is always able and willing to join in and play.)
Joseph and Mary were house guests, since they had to leave their normal home and go back to Joseph’s family’s house to be counted in a census. All of the reality of travel and couch-surfing is often lost when we see the abandoned cottage with a few animals in it around Christmas.
It was crowded, they were away from home, a baby was being born, and stranger shepherds were showing up out of nowhere to give them compliments and be amazed.
Praise God for the greater reality He shows us every day about the real life of His Son and the Nativity on Earth.
Merry Christmas, dear reader. Now I have to go hit the shower before everyone wakes up. (We only have one bathroom!)
Notes from John Burke and Tim Keller on discipleship
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