Sunday, December 09, 2012
Sunday is Funday
While Laura and I were in Grand Rapids over the weekend, I saw a t-shirt that simply said “Sunday is Funday.” I like that phrase. To me it describes every Sunday morning here at Gaylord E-Free. But this morning was even more of a “Sunday Funday” and my cup is running over as I watch it snow outside my window tonight (which I also love).
To be honest, the morning started out very stressful. Since I was out of town Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I did not have my usual prep time. Typically each week my Thursday afternoon and my Saturday morning is given over to sermon prep for Sunday. Though my study time was the same, what I was lacking was the amount of time I usually practice a sermon prior to Sunday. As a result, my plan was to come in extra early on Sunday morning so that I had time to go through my sermon a couple of times and still have time left to sit down with a cup of coffee, put on some worship music, and prepare my own heart for the morning.
That was the plan but that’s not what happened. We had a major computer glitch and even though I had exported all of my sermon slides from Pro Presenter to our server, none of them came through. Our video technician for the morning and I spent most all of the morning prior to the service on the phone with another of our techs trying to solve the problem (for me, preaching without the slides would be as difficult as preaching while standing still - a challenge indeed!).
The next thing I knew, it was 5-minutes before the start of the service and I was scheduled to lead singing in the Classic Service and we still had no slides for my sermon. Without having any time to get my microphone from the sound booth down in the Gospel Center, I moved as quickly as I could down to the Chapel and went over with the video technician in that service what verses of which songs we would be singing. Still somewhat out of breath, I led the singing and thoroughly enjoyed the passionate worship from the congregation who filled the chapel. After the last song I once again met one of out techs back down in my office trying to finalize the exporting of all of my slides as the service went on in the Gospel Center. I made it to the sound booth just in time to put on my microphone and get down front as the advent candle was being lit just prior to the sermon.
Up until this point the morning had been quite hectic. But what I have found in the past is that the more glitches there are in the morning, the more we are about to see God work. Such was the case this morning. As I nervously finished my sermon (without having the confidence of having had gone through it several times in advance) and walked with Laura to the back of the auditorium, we noticed that a couple had gone forward during the final song in an act of praise and worship for the amazing way God has worked in their lives. With all the zaniness of the morning, I did not even realize that they were even there this morning – their first time back in church since her double lung transplant. Laura and I immediately went forward to be with them. Within minutes they were surrounded with many friends who laid their hands on this dear couple as they all sang (one with her new lungs) “Here I am to Worship.” That right there was a little taste of heaven.
As the song came to an end, my heart was overflowing with joy. That’s when I saw another couple standing in the back of the auditorium. The couple that had come forward had received their miracle with her new lungs. Now this couple who stood in the back needed their miracle regarding the precious baby she is carrying who is experiencing some very serious complications. Laura and I went back to talk with them, hug them, and let them know how much we loved them and were praying for them.
We then went out in the foyer and greeted as many people as were still mingling there. At this point I felt spiritually and emotionally drained and decided to spend the first half of the second service with a cup of hot tea in the quietness of my office to reflect and pray before having to preach the second service. I made my tea and sat down in my chair. I didn’t even get the first sip to my mouth when someone knocked on my door and said that there was a couple at the welcome center that really wanted to talk with me. I sat my tea down and headed toward the welcome center where I immediately recognized them.
This morning was their second Sunday at E-Free. I had met them the Sunday prior when a man from our church introduced them to me. They are veterans who have recently moved into the area. They met this man from our church through his job. She was a believer but he was not. Part of their discussion with the man from our church when they met was their desire to get involved in the area. He wisely suggested that the best way for them to start with this would be to attend church. The husband immediately retorted with, “I am NOT a believer,” and he proceeded to share all of the reasons why he would not be able to come to church. Yet, last Sunday they showed up at church
As the service was taking place inside the Gospel Center, I sat out in the foyer talking with this couple. With tears streaming down his face, he shared with me how both Sundays as I was preaching he was torn. Half of him wanted to sit on the edge of the seat and absorb every word. The other half of him wanted to get up and run away from the church. I shared with him that this is what we call “conviction.” God was convicting him of his need for Jesus and when this happens, people respond in one of two ways – either they run toward God or they run away from him. I then took him through the plan of salvation and when I was done I had the thrill of leading this husband in prayer in our church foyer as he received God’s free gift of salvation.
When we finished praying I could tell from the sound from inside the Gospel Center that I was soon up for the sermon. I asked this couple if they had Bibles. They did not. I told them I needed to get inside to preach but if they would wait right there I would get the man who had first invited them to church and have him bring them each a Bible. I then went and got two Study Bibles from the Ushers Room and grabbed this man out of his Equip-U Class. While I ran (literally) up to the Gospel Center, once again arriving down front as the advent candle was being lit prior to the sermon, this man took the Bibles to this couple still in the foyer. He then spent the entire second service continuing to share with them. When the second service was over, They came up to me to give me a hug. The husband smiled and said, “I will never forget this day!” WOW! Just 3 weeks earlier he had proudly stated, “I am not a believer!” After just 2 Sundays at E-Free he now is saying, “I will never forget this day!” Folks, listen, it just doesn’t get any "funner" than that!
As I went out to the foyer after the second service I was met by a couple who was visiting this morning from out of town. They were in the Classic Service where, before I led in one of the songs (How Great Our Joy). I made the statement, “Joy has nothing to do with our circumstances but everything to do with who we are in Christ!” She pulled out a piece of paper in which she had written down that statement I had made in the Classic Service and told me how much God had used that simple statement in her life that morning. I again was amazed at how God works and the little things He uses in people’s lives over the course of a Sunday morning.
Laura and I were then able to spend a little time in the foyer with another couple whose high school daughter has a cyst on her brain and will be going to see a neuro-surgeon this Tuesday. It was a privilege to be able to hug them and to take time to encourage them as well.
As I then grabbed my Bible to head downstairs and finally have that cup of tea, a couple I had never met stopped Laura and me. They have only been attending a few weeks and wanted to share how much they are enjoying our services and how for the first time in their lives they are really learning the Bible. She went on to say that the best part is that her husband now wants to come to church since they started attending here at E-Free.
As I sit here tonight and reflect over the morning I am in awe of God for how He used our ministry this morning in such unique ways. People were praising God for new lungs! People were finding strength to endure very difficult trials regarding their children. People were encouraged by simple statements. New folks were sharing how much they are learning. And one couple is now “one in Christ.” And these are only the stories I know of from this morning. I am sure that there were many others – some of which we may never know until we all get to heaven.
Yes – Sunday is Funday! And all I can say is “To God be the glory! Great things He has done!”