power

i hope your Easter was spectacular! a glorious celebration of the Savior!! i'll bet that looked different for each of us. i'm sure your idea of a grand and glorious celebration isn't identical to mine. or your mothers. or your friend's. while we're on the subject, what IS your idea of an appropriately awesome way to remember and celebrate the joy and victory we have through Jesus' death and resurrection? i know from extensive experience that churches everywhere each have their own ideas and interpretations of 'Easter Sunday'. some feel it's better to be solemn while others go 'all out' with special music, special guests, or elaborate productions. one isn't right and the other wrong. one isn't better, nor the other worse. just different. i figure as long as the true focus is JESUS and not all the hoo-hah it's all good. honoring God, making much of HIM is the point. if it's not, there isn't one.

this past weekend i had the privilege of partnering with a great group of people in Shreveport, Louisiana.  they had a fantastic plan in place! all day saturday there was a family Resurrection Celebration with rides and games, food and fun for young and old. there was a giant stage set up with a great big ol sound system, Curvine,  a great rapper, preformed and then i took the stage after that. there was talk of rain. and the rain indeed showed up. but it only caused minor delays early on and all of the tents that had already been set up provided shelter for anyone that wanted it. however, as i finished my 4th song, the sound guy motioned to me on the side of the stage and said...." i think you can squeeze in one more song before the storm". so we jumped to 'people get ready' and as i sang i could clearly see the black clouds creeping in with lightning and thunder to boot! several super-fans stayed where they were, but most sensed the closeness of the storm and within minutes bounce houses were deflated, tents taken down, and folks scurried to their cars or went inside the church. even while i was singing the volunteers were covering the giant stacks of speakers with tarps and trying to get the equipment inside. i finished and went back to the green room. no sooner did i sit down than i heard the storm. i mean HEARD the storm. rain...hail...wind...thunder. and everything went black. all the people that remained were ushered into the sanctuary. the emergency generator kicked on and we at least had some dimly lit spaces. this was a full-blown, real-life, honest-to-goodness tornado. Louisiana style. there were some heart-pounding moments of true fear. later as we drove back to the hotel (which also had no power...) we saw the results of the storm. roof tops ripped away, huge trees split down the middle, signs down, lights out. words don't really suffice in moments like that.

later that evening the worship team ( led by jeremiah woods) and i gathered to practice... and pray. the power had not yet fully returned to the church building, although for whatever reason we were able to have lights only in the nursery, so that's where we rehearsed. we went over the songs with acoustic guitars and hoped for electricity by morning.

morning came. still darkness. so, we made due. at 7:30 am, the first of 3 services, in a dark sanctuary, as ushers led people to their seats by flashlight, we worshipped. i mean WE WORSHIPPED!! with 5 acoustic guitars, 7 singers and no microphones we sang. and you know what? it was EPIC! yes there had been an enormous amount of hours, effort, and no doubt money spent in preparation for an 'all out' celebration. but for whatever reason, God saw fit to show HIS POWER through the lack of electrical power. it wasn't about the special guest (me), it wasn't about the cool video (that we eventually did see at the 3rd service and that WAS in fact great), it wasn't about the high-tech lights...it became about JESUS and Him alone! (Proverbs 16:9... we can make our plans, but The Lord determines our steps)

listen to me: i'm NOT saying had everything worked and gone according to plan that Jesus wouldn't have been the focus. from what i know about the people at Word of God, He absolutely was and would've been.  nor am i saying that Jesus wasn't the focus at churches around the country whose lights and cameras and videos worked perfectly and whose productions went off without a hitch. we'll never truly know this side of Heaven the why of it all. all i can know for certain is that we saw God move in POWER in spite of the lack of it. maybe it was for me? i certainly was able to think clearly about churches around the globe that meet on dirt floors with no electricity and praise Jesus with all their hearts. some that do it secretly and risk their lives to do so.

this Easter will go down in history as one of my favorites for sure. despite the changing of hotels, the added bonus of weather elsewhere that caused flight delays, which in turn caused missed flights, which in turn led to extra nights spent not at home etc..... it gave me time to think on Easter. it allowed me the chance to reevaluate my idea of a real celebration. and to see first hand Gods power on display in magnificent ways. it's so easy, in our current culture, to begin to rely on our technology, our production, our advanced abilities. but i would encourage us as a body... as THE body of Christ...to not let anything take the place of the simplicity of true, explicit worship of Jesus.

(below: i was able to watch www.freshlifechurch.com Good Friday service on my ipad. THEIR lights and production worked!!! and yes... Jesus was the focus!; this is a shot of our rehearsal in the nursery; this is the dark greenroom; a beautiful reminder of the reason we do what we do. this sign was on the green room door)