An old story: Preacher walking on street muttering, “Two more on Sunday and one in the middle of the week.” I was preaching Sunday morning and evening and teaching Wed Bible study when I first heard that. Not many of us preach that kind of schedule today, but the next sermon, the next Sunday is relentlessly coming at us. I have that in mind as I try to get a fix on things.
On the weekend after the horrific killings in Charleston, Steven Furtick preached what I thought was an important message—he offered insight, if not revelation, on racism. Not many grabbed that message. It was not featured on any of the major TV networks. In the days after “Charleston,” I was compelled to attend an AME church to sit by their fire in solidarity and regret. I was hugged by every person in church. When I walked to the car I sensed that global healing did not happen as I had planned and hoped. (If not global, at least in those walls in such a way that CNN would have noted.) There is always a next Sunday to prepare.
There is another old story. It is about the preacher who preached the same sermon three weeks in a row before being called on it. He said, “I’m going to keep preaching it until we do it—get it done.” I felt that this Sunday morning in response to a heavy word through a preacher. I thought to myself that this is the earth-shaking message and we have one full week to do it because next Sunday is coming and there will be a new word, a new message, a new provoking. A new challenge that “will change your life completely.” Can you say, “Fast-paced, quickly moving and change at speeds not discernible by the human soul?”
God is doing magnificent things in the Ft. Wayne, Indiana region. Forty plus churches of several theological stripes are evangelizing and meeting for evening celebration and instruction. Over 200 gather for 7:00 a.m prayer. Our daughter and granddaughter and friends are sharing the Good News and praying for people. Yesterday morning about 225 people took to the streets and yesterday afternoon almost 300 went to pray for people and share their faith. Nothing aggressive or combative, just offering to pray with/for strangers. The official event moved from one week to three with 3000-4000 for evening celebration and up to 1000 people on the streets and in the public places sharing Good News. Tonight (Sunday evening) they have moved the event to the Coliseum to accommodate upwards to 10,000 people. What is happening is a revival and a county/state-wide spiritual awakening. We have watched some of the public services via live-streaming and listened to the exciting stories told by family, friends and the pastors. It has been a life-shaping event for portions of our family and faith connections.
When a pastor asked about our children the other evening, I explained where they lived and usual information. Because I thought he would be interested, I launched into news about what looks like a genuine spiritual breakthrough for which a church and friends have been praying for fifteen years. The pastor checked out—he kinda went away before he excused himself. He wasn’t intentionally being rude. No one he knows is being affected by the prayer meetings or street conversations or the reviving celebration events.
The spiritual awakening of 9/11 was done by 9/26. Unless you attend that AME church or live in Charleston or Ft. Wayne, your attention span is short. Your mind has a limited capacity for receiving and processing. Tomorrow you will be receiving 3000 new ads, commercials and messages asking for your attention, money, time and pleading for you to volunteer. Therefore, you will go into defense mode: “Nice—about your revival. Excuse me. I’ve got to take this call.”
The story and role of Wilberforce to end slavery in England stirs me. How long it took disturbs me: his entire adult lifetime. The song that came out of that awakening is Amazing Grace.
In my imagination, I can see my 17-year old granddaughter and her friends who march together in their high school band and lead the academic rolls, and I wonder how their life-sharing will be remembered by history. What song? What will be the lasting cultural change?
Gordon MacDonald said, “Moses’ real day job was to teach Israel (as God had taught Abraham)
- A new way of thinking,
- A unique way of living,
- A special brand of vital optimism.””
It took 40 years.
Got a minute?
©2015 D. Dean Benton http:www.bentonministries.com