This weekend was wonderful. The Intercession Sunday was one of the best things we have ever done. Allow me to sketch out the day for you:
- We began with baptism—always a good start.
- We sang for a while, and John did a great job.
- Testimony: One of my foremost objectives for the day was to have a serious, hopeful service focused on the power of God to address our problems, but to do so in a way that was theologically honest. Two families in our church stood up together and gave a joint testimony to the power of God. Eleven years ago, the McGuires and the Jameses both discovered that their children had leukemia. Our church ministered to both families at precisely the same time. These two families kept up with each other on the phone and in person, praying with one another weekly. The McGuires' little girl was healed—full remission. Justin James died. These two families stood and glorified a God who is able to work powerfully both in situations where we get what we ask for and in situations where we do not. There was not a dry eye in the house.
- Sermon: My big mistake was in scheduling myself to speak immediately after that testimony. I was quite choked up in the early service. I preached from John 9 and 2 Corinthians 12. In both cases, people asked God for healing. The godliest, holiest, and most believing of the two was the one who wasn't healed. Yet the emphasis in both passages is upon the power of God. In the case of the man born blind, God demonstrated His power by healing the man. In Paul's case, God demonstrated His power by not healing him. Our prayer ought to be that God will show Himself powerful in our lives, however that might happen. Let us never throw in the towel and act as though our God is weak. Let us remember that God demonstrates His power in many ways.
- Prayer for the sick: We invited all of those who wanted prayer for any physical illness to remain seated while the congregation stood. I encouraged members who were standing to go to someone seated, ask them for what they wanted prayer, and to pray for them. This took about four minutes.
- Prayer for relational, emotional, financial, employment, etc., problems: We provided index cards throughout the pews. I invited all of those who had a problem in one of these areas or who knew someone who had a problem in one of these areas to write out the specifics on a card, bring it to the altar, and place it face down. I assured them that immediately after the service I was going to shred the cards without reading them. The floodgates opened. I saw some people bringing cards two or three separate times. After everyone had brought all of the cards that they wished to bring, I led us in prayer for the needs represented there.
- Prayer for spiritual healing: Using the same index cards, I invited people to bring cards for anyone they knew who was lost or in rebellion against God. I also invited them to come to the altar and pray for anyone they wished or for their own spiritual awakening. Also, our pastors stood at front to receive any who wished to make public commitments.
So, there's a report from the weekend. Regular blogging will resume later this week, once this week's service is safely planned well.
Speaking of regular blogging, I find that I'm a much, much better pastor the past few days since I'm not blogging. I'm not giving it up, but I'm seriously considering expanding the number of contributors to Praisegod Barebones. That would keep the site consistently running but would prevent any one person from being overburdened. First Baptist Church of Farmersville runs about 330 in Sunday School and has three pastors. That's big enough to keep me really busy but not quite big enough to have the luxury of delegating out a whole lot of stuff. God called me to preach, not to blog, so I'm looking for a way to remain faithful to my calling while continuing to pursue this little avocation that I have come to enjoy so much. I have a couple of people in mind already...folks who do not already have a blog but ought to. I'll let everyone know what I come up with.