Sunday, January 23, 2011

Can old dogs learn new tricks? Yes. And people can too!!

First, let me establish that science has proven that conventional wisdom was wrong about both dogs and humans.  For years, psychiatrists thought that you could not teach an old dog new tricks but recently science has proven that theory wrong.  Dogs have the capability to learn new things and so do humans.  We do have the capacity to change, even later in life, and how much more is this possible when the Holy Spirit is involved?

Today was a fantastic day at Celebration and one of the things that made my day was watching a lady named Sharon.

I would guesstimate that Sharon is in her mid 70's or so.  Back in November Sharon visited Celebration for the first time.  I thought we'd never see her again a second time.  I follow up on our guests and I didn't think her feedback was real positive although it didn't upset me.  She didn't seem to like anything about us.  She said the music was too contemporary and much too loud.  She also said, "if I saw this on TV, I'd snap it right off!!!"  You can see why I thought she would NEVER be back.  I was very kind and  told her, "Ma'm, I am not upset about your feedback.  Everyone has their likes and dislikes -- to each his own, and this is why there are hundreds of churches in the Tampa Bay area, with different styles and options for everyone.  We will be praying with you that you discover God's will in where you should attend."   I went in  my husband's office to update him on how all the follow up calls went and told him that we'd never see Sharon again.  I wasn't angry about that -- I simply believed she would be an asset to some other church where she enjoyed the worship service more. 


Imagine my shock when she was back the next week!  She didn't really say or do anything - just sat there with the same blank look on her face taking it all in.  But by mid December, something had changed.  Unbelievably Sharon was STILL coming to Celebration!  She not only came to all of our services  -- she brought her unchurched family to our Christmas program.  It was still contemporary but a lot more traditional than what we normally do.  She later told me that her adult daughter said, "Mom...I don't know about this church...I think I might need something a little more 'reverent'."  Sharon responded back, "Honey, you haven't seen anything yet!  This is a mild day at our church!  Wait til I bring you back for a regular service!"  (Notice the language Sharon used = 'our church'.  It had become her church too -- her verbiage showed me she had made the decision to stay and become a part our CC family. )  She came with her daughter to Christmas Eve Communion.  Her daughter felt the presence of God and fell into my arms crying as I prayed for her.  A few weeks later Sharon showed up on the workday we had to take down all the Christmas decor and put it away.  We were working side by side on one of the trees in the sanctuary  and talked about her decision to come to Celebration.  I asked what brought her back and she said, "The presence of God.  I realized, He's moving in this church.  God is doing things here.  That's why I'm here."  

Sharon no longer sits and just takes it all in on Sundays.  When the worship team, frontline and choir come out and strike up the first note, the youth group comes running to the altar and worships down at the front.  They stand in the altar area, hopping up and down, arms waving, praising God with all out abandonment.  Last week when the youth came rushing down on the right hand side, I saw someone running down the aisle on the left hand side of the church.   I looked closer and saw it was Sharon.  She had come to the front on the opposite side and began jumping up and down, praising God.  Today she took it a step further.  As the teens were praising  God, she wasn't confined to her spot on the left hand side -- she was running back and forth in the front of the church, worshipping right along with the teenagers.  Then when the  more intimate worship songs came and we were singing this song, "Give Me Faith" I looked down and there was Sharon, face down in the altar area, just crying out to God with tears streaming down.

People's lives CAN be changed by God -- if they give Him control.

It's amazing that we can actually begin to ENJOY what we used to dislike when we follow after the presence of God and determine to participate instead of hesitate.  Although there are many styles and options available the truth of the matter is that nothing replaces GOD DOING SOMETHING.  Nothing replaces people coming to Jesus -- receiving Him as Savior, experiencing the healing of their bodies, mind, emotions, finances, marriages and families, being filled with the Holy Ghost, and the list goes on.  Nothing replaces signs, wonders, miracles.  Nothing takes the place of the real deal! 


Sharon has become one of the most positive and involved Celebrators that we have!  Go figure!  I never would have imagined in a million years. But God can do anything He wants, and He did.

**For anyone interested in what our typical "worship set" is at CC, today's was:
Say So (Israel Houghton)
I Am Free (Jon Egan)
We Are the Church (Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC)
Give Me Faith (Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC)
Wrap Me In Your Arms (Michael Gungor)
The choir sang, "You Are" by Mark Condon for the offering. 

3 comments:

Rhonda said...

Incredible story - we ALL need to hear this and thank God for the Sharon's out there!

Ruth said...

Love it! They know we've got something different. It's like a magnet! A Holy Spirit Magnet!

Melissa said...

oh PD, I cried through this post! Yes cried! When the adults of our churches start worshiping with abandonment like the teens do revival will break out, lives will be changed and the Holy Spirit will fall like we have never seen! " A child will lead them" Exciting to see all that God is doing in the church and in your congregation!