Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to songbooks…
It’s a little bit after 10:30 Friday night. I just sat back down in my study after spending almost an hour in the worship center listening to my church family read from God’s Holy Scriptures. Carrie-Anne and the girls and I read together from noon to 12:30 today from the middle parts of 2 Chronicles. I read the account of Jehoram in chapter 21. Carrie-Anne followed with chapter 22’s story of Ahaziah. Then Whitney, Valerie, and Carley in order. Whitney gave a stirring rendition of the execution of Athaliah, Valerie’s going to have nightmares tonight about the pronunciation of Jehoiada, and Carley got totally beaten down by almost everything in chapter 25. You can tell by the picture. The look on Carley’s face, especially on the big screen in the upper right hand corner, and her posture are saying, “What am I doing here? How much longer?” Even Siller, whose family was up next, is showing his concern. What a terrific experience, though, reading the Word of God together as a family, filling the new building with Scripture. I’ll never forget it. And I hope the girls won’t either.
I’m not getting as much work done the past two days because I can’t help but walk over into the new worship center to listen in on the readings. I started my morning listening to Bill Crawford and Jim McDoniel take us from 2 Kings into 1 Chronicles. What a relief to watch even Jim struggle with impossible names. He even chuckled at himself once or twice. I’ve been privileged today to listen to older ladies who’ve been here forever and young men who’ve been here less than a year. Senior citizens and little kids. People who are involved in almost every program in this church. And others who don’t seem to be involved in much of anything, but who obviously share a deep love for our Father’s Word. It’s so moving to listen to Bonnie Bell read from Psalm 38: “I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.” Realizing her physical condition, knowing the real pain she lives with every minute of every day, it’s heart-breaking watching her read this. And then she reads from Psalm 42: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” And I know she does. Every day. Wow.
As emotionally stirring as it is to participate with Bonnie as she reads from the Psalms, it’s funny to watch Russell Mihills read from Proverbs 16: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”
We’re into Ecclesiastes right now. Our Singles group here at Legacy is reading together from 10:00 to midnight. Then they’re going to IHOP. To start planning their next foreign missions trip. I told Jesse and Pam as I left, it seems like every month I hear about that group doing something or I see them doing something that inspires me. They inspire the whole church. They embody the Gospel as they serve each other and our whole church family.
Sometimes there are a dozen or so people in the new worship center listening to the reading. Sometimes the place is completely empty except for the one person at the microphone. Some sit at the back. Some sit at the front. Some seem to be praying silently. Some seem to be soaking in every single syllable. Some are just there out of curiosity. But all are greeted with smiles and hugs and pats on the back. This Legacy Bible Reading is truly a spectacular event. I encourage you to check it out. I’d suggest setting aside 30 minutes sometime between now and Sunday morning. Make sure you listen to at least three different people read in their 15-minute shifts. Do it right when you wake up. Stop by while you’re shopping or running errands. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
There are over 960 people signed up and already PAID up for the fellowship lunch after our worship assembly Sunday! 960! Are you kidding me? That doesn’t include those who forgot to register. That doesn’t include our visitors who are welcome to stay and eat with us as our guests. And it feels like everybody’s bringing visitors. Good gravy, we may have over 1,500 people in our new worship center Sunday. We may have to put chairs in the aisles and in the foyer. We may have people sitting on the stage. It may be a couple of weeks before anybody gets “their pew.” We may have to go to two services THIS Sunday!
I can almost hear the sounds of dribbling basketballs and squeaking sneakers in the Legacy gym.
There will be at least eight baptisms here Sunday. At least eight. Manuel is baptizing a Spanish-speaking father and son he’s been studying with for a couple of months. A charter member grandfather is baptizing his grandson. Three more dads are baptizing their children. A great friend is baptizing another great friend. And it looks like I’m honored to baptize one of our little guys, too. Three of these eight are directly related to the Faith Builders Day Camp we taught this week. Although all three of those young people have been talking to their parents about this decision for several months now. We stopped the Legacy Bible Reading late last night long enough for Jerry Karels to baptize his son, Carter, in front of all our Bible readers and the Legacy Youth Group who had just returned from Summer Youth Series. What a powerful and amazing God we serve! He is still today, right now, forgiving sins and saving souls and robbing hell. And we’re right in the big middle of it. Awesome. We only have two sets of waders in the baptistry. Help.
We’re going to invite all the families and friends of the ones being baptized to gather on the stage area around the baptistry to witness the new birth up close. That stage is way big enough to accomodate probably 100 people. The baptizee’s Small Group. Relatives. Bible School teachers. Friends. Anybody who wants to participate, we’ll ask to join us on the stage. And then the whole church family—all 1,500 of us—will recite Colossians 3:1-4 to each new Christian as he/she comes up out of the water: “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with him in glory.” Won’t that be great? A congregational blessing. A real family affair. We’re also going to start putting the video of every single baptism on our church website. And John’s working on a way to, not only watch the videos, but write a note of encouragement to each new brother and sister.
David Hunter left me a phone message at about 5:00 this afternoon. The news for his wife, Denise, is worse than it was this morning (see previous post). It’s not good. Four times in a two-minute message, David said, “It’s not good.” She’s on a ventilator. She’s still unconscious. Not responsive. Hardly any blood getting to her brain at all. And David just asked that we keep praying. And I’m asking, too. I saw Randy and Jamie at the Bible reading earlier this evening. They asked how Denise was and told me they were praying for her. I forget people read this blog. I never forget how kind my Christian brothers and sisters are.
A couple of more pictures from the cross-raising ceremony yesterday morning.
We’re surrounded by all this “newness.” New building. New carpet. New pews. New paint. New smells. New feel. What a perfect time to re”new” our dedication to Christ and to his mission as well as our commitments to his Church and to each other. Our Father is overwhelming us with “more than all we ask or imagine.” May our hearts overflow with gratitude and may our lives reflect his glory.