Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Incredible Sunday Service

This past weekend was one of the most rewarding and exciting Sunday services I've ever participated in. So much happened leading up to Sunday that it is impossible to discuss it without giving some background.

We have experienced about 2 months of gradually intensifying worship. Each week seems to grow in power... like it picks up each week where the last week left off.

The previous week had been spiritually hot with "Holy Ghost Stories" abounding... people telling about God encounters all week. This had created an expectancy already.

A couple of weeks back, during worship, I had a brief glimpse in the spirit of a transparent sheet or veil hovering just over the heads of the congregation. I am not prone to these kinds of images and didn't mention it to anyone at the time.

Early last week I had someone who is very prophetic say that there was a "veil" between heaven and earth that had become paper thin and that God was going to tear it down this week. This kind of language would usually not mean much to me but in light of the brief vision I had received it made me take notice. Later that same day I had another person tell me (unprompted) that God showed him a convergence occurring between heaven and earth and that God was ready to breakthrough (good Kingdom language there ;-) Now my expectancy was high so I went to Bruce to suggest that something was building toward Sunday. We agreed to plan the service as usual but expect the unusual.

The last piece was a word from someone I trust that said we were to blow a shofar (ram's horn) during worship to initiate this 'breakthrough'. Now this for me was over the line... I HATE spiritual hocus-pocus and this was pushing me way too close to charismatic witchcraft and I didn't want to do it. I have many reasons that the shofar in particular is a hot button for me, and maybe I'll write about that some day, but suffice it to say I don't like them (only slightly less than tambourines, however). But I sensed God challenging me to be obedient to the word I had been given... and I was fairly certain that it was from God... so I called a lady in the church who owned a shofar (and had asked if she could use it sometime in worship just a couple of weeks earlier) and had her bring it sunday.

As far as Sunday's service went... it was awesome. From the first note of worship it was electrified. About the third song I invited the shofar blower up and had her sound it in the midst of one of our more powerful songs... it brought goosebumps to my goosebumps... and people started coming to the alter. There was no alter call... no instructions given... people started coming. At one point there must have been 30 or 40 people up front being ministered to or ministering. Then we began to receive testimonies of what God was doing. One woman came and stood alone in front of me (I'm at the piano) and I thought she wanted to give a testimony... I went down to 'intercept' her from getting on the stage... and ask her what she wants... she say "I'm tired of my mess... I want Jesus" Between the worship and the testimonies Bruce never got up to preach... the service was never chaotic, scary or unsafe... it was not overly charismatic (by my experience, anyway) but was very intense, emotionally charged and exciting.

The stories are still coming in... I know of 6 people who made first time decision to accept Christ... several received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit... there were lots of stories of "experiencing God" for the first time.

The one unexpected and cool thing that happened and almost slipped by unnoticed was that on this rainy, cold last Sunday morning of spring break we had BY FAR the largest attendance in church history. Our previous high was 272 people and last Sunday we had 295 in church. That's 7.5% increase over our record high! GO FIGURE!

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