Monday, March 03, 2014

Not In The Brochure Part I

View from Caesars Head

This journey all started at The Cove at the Billy Graham Training Center during a conference I was working with guest speaker Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

As an audio and video engineer at the Cove I am responsible for various elements of the program for the duration of the event. For this particular conference I was the graphics technician for a three day seminar. After you’ve done these for as long as I have you learn to disconnect yourself from certain aspects of the conference. During the praise and worship, which is amazing at The Cove, it’s important to be on your game and focus on every word because I am responsible for putting the words on the video screen as everyone sings during the praise and worship portion as well as all the visual aspects during the event. It takes focus and concentration because there are a lot of distractions. On the other hand when the speaker is up and begins his presentation I can usually sit back and listen to the message or not. It’s a big difference between hearing a speaker go through his program or actually listening and engaging in the topic.

As with many events at the Cove, I had done a couple of events with Jonathan and enjoyed his messages but the last time he was here I was not listening even though I heard every word he said. It’s my job to hear him.

On Tuesday, February 24, I sat down at my desk, programmed all the graphics, announcements and songs and I was ready for a three day conference. As Jonathan began speaking my mind engaged the words he was saying right away. Usually I have to make an intentional effort to focus and concentrate on any speaker but as he spoke those words my mind was already actively listening. I had his outline in front of me so I began to take notes and follow his lesson. His topic for this conference; Pursuing Holiness.

The first topic on the outline; What Does God Want From Me? Immediately Jonathans word hit me right between the eyes and the listening mechanism in my brain was in RECORD mode. I don’t usually take notes while working an event.  I may listen or follow the speakers outline if he is using a Power Point and grab a few nuggets for my Christian life but it’s kind of like walking around Costco and getting food samples while you shop, you have a list of things to buy and the samples are little bonuses as you shop.

One thing in particular got my attention. It was in Session Two, Wednesday morning’s topic. It begins with “The Battle”. As a Christian I have seen the battle and have some scars to prove it. The key verse in this outline was from Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good …To love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

What does a battle have to do with humility? A battle is usually an aggressive or defensive strategy. You’re either winning or your defending you position, either way it’s not a time to show weakness.

Next Jonathan does something very interesting he takes a little detour from the battle plan and has what resembles a safety meeting for the troops. Picture this, you are handed your equipment for battle then the next thing you do is, go out and start fighting? No. You have to learn your equipment and how to use it. That makes sense. We can read the Bible, go to church and even participate in a ministry or two just by attending church but if we don’t understand what Gods plan is for our lives then we are simply going through the motions.

He goes to Psalms 61 but first he reads Psalm 46. Verse 10 says; Be still, and know I am God... Now that’s more like it, there’s Gods power. Now we move over to Psalms 61, not very battle like. It’s more of a safety plan than a battle plan. In my notes I write, “Security In God”.  I open the Blue Letter Bible on my computer and begin to read along.

The Psalmist begins by saying, “Hear my prayer, O God! Pay attention to me!” Yep, that’s exactly how I feel right now. God will you pay attention to me?

My soul is weary from trying to do your work Lord, I thought to myself.  For the next few minutes I listened to Jonathan speak the words from Psalms 61 but then I disconnected from Jonathans talk and heard God talking to me from those words in the Bible on the computer screen in front of me. It was those words that seemed to just lay there like a blanket in a grassy field on a spring day. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but that’s exactly how those words from Psalms 61 were revealed to me. Here’s what my outline looked like as we read through Psalms 61.

v  Hear me God, listen to me! I call to you from this lonely place.

v  Lead me to a foundation that is beyond my strength. I’ve come to you many times, yet people still attack me.

v  I want to come over to your house and stay. Living under your protection.

v  God, I’ve committed to serving you. I have a family and a history of character because we fear you.

v  Give this leader a long life and influence the generations of my family.

v  We should sit in your presence as a good friend.

v  Put love as a faithful companion, let truth guard me.

v  I sing all the days of my life your spirit dwelling in me.

v  I will be sold out for you each day.

v  Nothing will stop me.


Then on the left margin of my outline I wrote an action plan for each one.

ü  Get away

ü  The Rock, Christ, is my strength

ü  Sit in Gods space

ü  Make me a leader by example

ü  Speak to God

ü  Live it

ü  Stop trying to control (Gods will for my life)

The next two days were the most revealing I had experienced in a long time. It was God speaking to me in a way that made sense in our ministry. I knew what I had to do. Suzanne and I had been becoming more and more jaded in our faith and ministry life. We were as useful in our ministry as a rotten bale of hay we throw in the fire because they are falling apart and full of black mold, not fit for anything. That was how I felt. Yet I kept trying to go forward in our ministry. It was like we were parked on the side of the road with no place to go.

A plan began to formulate in my mind. Suzanne and I need to get away. The conference ended Thursday and then I had some work at the local High School on Friday. I thought, Suzanne and me should go away for the weekend. Then on Friday the school called and said they needed a bus driver to take a group of students to Furman University on Saturday, it would be all day, leave around 5:00 AM and back home at 4:00 PM that afternoon. I called Suzanne and asked her if she would go with me, she could ride the bus with me then we could hang out at the college, pick the students up and be home that afternoon. We could have some time together.  She said yes. Ok, plans made.

I began to formulate a conversation for the two of us, about our ministry and Gods plan for our lives using my notes from Jonathan’s conference. We were going to get back on track with God and stop this bad attitude that had begun to take over our lives and ministry, right now!

 In my own life I was so disgusted with some of the people I had come in contact with during our ministry and cowboy church planting as well as our ministry efforts, I was beat down and out. It was time for a change and it needed to start with me.

We would have to leave the house by 4:15 AM to get to the High School and get the bus ready. Suzanne was up by 3:00 AM Saturday morning. I was excited about our adventure together. We would have time to ourselves once we dropped the students off.

I get to the school and go to get the keys from the drivers room but my code doesn’t work on the door, I try it again and still it doesn’t work. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I am going to have to wake someone up to help me get in the school and get the bus keys, yikes! A few text with one of the vice principals later still no keys and the school is locked up. One of the adults with the group I’m supposed to drive shows up and he doesn’t have the bus keys and can’t get access into the school to get them… we are stuck. The group makes the decision to take their own cars to Furman. Now Suzanne and I have the entire day to ourselves. This was not part of my plan. We decide to go get breakfast and make a day of it.

It’s 5:30 AM and we are on the road. In my head I reformulate my plan for a day of renewal for us and our relationship with God. We hit the road.

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