Last night I worked on some projects til' late. Larry and I were up quite a while because we got a call from our son Dustin (who was working at the church late last night) telling us the electricity was out at the church. Larry asked Tom to go up and call TECO (thank God for Tom!) and they promised to have it back on by 2 am, which they did.
The interesting thing is, in the six years we have been pastoring this church when the electricity goes out in the sanctuary, it ALWAYS happens on Saturday night or Sunday morning. I am not a mystical person but I assure you I think this is more than coincidence. It's spiritual warfare. Especially when the Lord is doing major things - healings, salvations, etc., we seem to go through this. What better way to shut down what God wants to do than try to take away our ability to have lights/sound? It's not an issue with our building that we can fix. It has to do with the power lines outside and TECO (Tampa Electric Company) has to come. So Lar and I were up late dealing with that - him on the phone with Tom, Dustin and TECO -- and me praying. I knew it was just one of the enemy's stupid stall tactics to try to halt the impending thing God had in store.
I did some reading and praying and went to sleep about 1 am. I didn't get to sleep long. About 2 hours later, Savanna came into our room, sick and throwing up everywhere. And I do mean everywhere! She tried to make it to our bathroom but never did make it there. So, we got up, helped clean her up, made her a fresh place to sleep on, got her settled (after several bouts of throwing up), cleaned up the carpet as well as possible (had to shampoo today), cleaned up the tile with Clorox spray, yada yada.
Around 4 am, Larry says, "honey, you're going to have to preach." I had figured that already. It's easier for him to have me preach on Sunday mornings if one of the kids is sick, and have him be the one to stay home with them. It's harder for him to find anyone to cover all my responsibilities between worship and Sunday School and what not. And I'm pretty much a person who can flow and do whatever is needed at the time, instant in season and out.
I never went back to sleep. Just stayed up and sought the Lord as to what He had for the people today. No, I don't just preach Larry's notes - I find it too hard to follow them, honestly. Not that he's not a good preacher. It's just that we have two completely different styles and when we plan a tag team message we work together to blend those styles, but to just take his sermon...no, I can't do it. Plus I can't preach somethin' I'm not feeling. I also wanted to stay within the current series topic we're on - "The Presence Driven Church."
By 6 am this morning I had the full message prepared. It was from Romans 8:26,27 - the spirit praying through us. I called it, "Get in the Groan Zone." :-) Good stuff. What a morning we had. Check this out...
We picked up in worship where we left off last week. At the close of last week we were singing, "God is Moving" and indeed it was true. Healing was flowing at the altar, and the Lord was doing stuff. This morning I announced, "we're picking up where we left off..." We started out with "God is Moving" and just kept going. Our last song in worship was "Let it Rain". Midway through the song it started to rain, and it rained so hard you could hardly hear anything even over the microphones. It was a full blown, lightening and thunder deal, totally rockin' the house.
A few minutes later, Pastor Lindsay was leading us in the church pledge and midway through it, all the electricity goes out. Poof! Gone!
And something so awesome happened. Instead of freaking out, everybody just started saying the pledge louder, more resolutely. I mean, by the end, some were shouting the pledge! And the close, she tried to talk to give announcements, but her voice was just swallowed up in the auditorium. No one could hear her. She comes back to me and says, "what do I do"?
Meanwhile someone (I think it was Dustin) went and grabbed the megaphone... (yes I'm serious!) in the sound booth and brought it to the front. Bernie was doing the offering today and I asked him to go ahead as best as possible. He just flowed with it. The thing is, the people were not put off by this outage of electricity at all ...in fact it added sort of a wild element to the service. People kept cheering and clapping, (no, not making fun or saying, "let's get out of here") but cheering and clapping as if to say, "hey, the lights are out but we are still going to have an awesome time in God today! We're hanging on for the ride!"
So Bernie and Tom were figuring out the megaphone with Dustin's help and some ladies had already run over to the Sanctuary B room and gotten candles and put them all out on the altar and lit them. Interesting thing is - we ran out of candles this past Wednesday. (We have a candlelight worship service every Wed night.) So this weekend, Susan had just purchased all new candles for Wednesday night service. She was going to wait and bring them Wednesday, but this morning the Lord told her to bring them. Awesome, huh? I love it when God's people are in tune!!!
Well it was kinda comical... the guys went to turn the megaphone on and instead of just being on so they could talk in it, the siren started going off! Right during the offering. "wreeeeeeeeeee! wrrreeeeeeeee!" went the piercing sound. Instead of being put off by this, the people found it another reason to cheer profusely in the house of God! They found this cause for celebration. I guess you could call it our own personal Northside version of a shofar. Only at Northside Assembly! It was hysterical! So cool. After two times of the "siren" going off and the people wildly cheering with joy, the megaphone came on and Bernie took the offering and did a great job indeed. The people were still pumped. Onward we went with the offering and mid-way through Bernie talking all the lights and stuff came back on. He announced, if it happened again for everyone to move as close as possible to the front.
Then I came up to preach and told the people, "we've been through so much to get to this moment, and be assurred, God has something great in store for His people...so just hang on cause' God's getting ready to do something major here... "
He sure did! We had one lady saved, two rededications, and a few baptisms in the Holy Spirit! Praise God! You know the enemy was trying profusely to prevent all this, but he didn't!!! Our God is greater!!! The enemy is not going to stop what God is going to do, as long as His people stay faithful to press in and not give up!
We did not give up. We went for the whole enchilada in God this morning. At the end of the message I was praying for people at the altar. Mallory led worship at the keyboard and went into "Let it Rain" again and "From the Inside Out". Powerful, powerful. The Lord was present to do such a powerful work.
I came home with the boys and Larry had made lunch. The princess was feeling better...up and eating toast and giving Mommy lots of hugs and love when I came home, asking about all her friends and what happened at church. She missed it so much. (Ya gotta love when your kids love church and hate to miss it! Wonderful problem to have.)
As for me, I ate some of that delicious lunch and crashed for 3 hours in my bed. We cancelled choir tonight because I wanted to rest and care for Savanna. She's doing much better but still taking it easy. I just made her some chicken noodle soup and ginger ale.