Satan knew what was coming and boy was he ticked!
We are nearing the end of an incredible teaching series called Freeway. Instead of living the “abundant life” Jesus promised, too many are STUCK in their spiritual journey. So week after week we’ve dealt head-on with issues of busyness, secret sin, blaming others, forgiveness, etc. Over the last month, hundreds of decisions have been made ranging from confession/repentance of sins to reprioritizing God, to forgiving someone who has deeply hurt us, etc. But there was another issue that needed attention.
So several weeks ago, we gathered our staff with a top secret project: preparing for an impromptu baptism service on October 23. I just knew in my heart that there were too many people stuck in their spiritual journey because they continue to put off baptism. That is, going public that Jesus is their Savior.
Our incredible staff quietly went to work. Changing rooms were organized, extra towels gathered, packed away dark t-shirts were unpacked, all the gym shorts at the local Goodwill stores were purchased, multi-media team members were arranged to capture this event, a special baptism team was organized, extra worship songs were lined up, and many other details were put in place. Meanwhile, all of this was bathed in prayer. Much prayer.
Usually we have people already in our baptism process and ready to go. We had no one lined up for Sunday. Usually we have those needing to be baptized as part of joining our church. The last Team Member class in early October had 19 people join. Not one person needed to be baptized. If anyone was going to get baptized on Sunday, it would be on God to make it happen.
Then Satan went to work. All last week and this Sunday morning was crazy. So many weird things happened. Phone lines went down, copiers broke, our online reoccurring gift system went haywire, the in-ear sound monitor system mysteriously malfunctioned, more than normal volunteers called in sick, etc. One staff member told me, “So many things that NEVER happened, happened!”
However, the power of prayer and God’s Word prevailed!
The sermon was shared from Acts 16. The Philippian jailer had his world rocked with an earthquake. He wanted to end his life. He found Jesus instead. Then he immediately was baptized. He didn’t take a class first. He didn’t grow in his knowledge of scripture and theology prior to baptism. He just responded in obedience and went public with his faith. (To watch Sunday’s sermon, click HERE.)
When the call was given to come forward after the message, I didn’t know if anyone would respond. I knew I did my job and now it was on the Holy Spirit to do His. Immediately people began to move. And then more. And then more. As we sang and cheered, more came forward. Back stage, there was a long line of women lining the back wall. A line had formed up the stairs with men. There were tears and hugs while they waited in line. Even more tears and cheers were taking place in the auditorium as 41 men, women, and teenagers went public with their faith in Jesus.
Here are a few back stories of some who went public: One husband surprised his wife by immediately going forward. He didn’t want to wait to change into gym shorts and was baptized in his jeans. A mom was backstage directing and encouraging those who came forward. She lost it in tears when her teenage son came walking around the corner to get baptized. She and her husband had been praying for years for him to go public. A teenage believer had invited her manager at work to our church on numerous occasions. The manager and her family recently started coming to GracePoint. The teenager broke out in tears when she saw her manager walking down into the baptistry. Several married couples came and were baptized together, embracing when they were finished. A first-time guest shocked his friends when he came forward and was baptized. Multiple spouses had been praying for their spouse for years were emotionally praising God as they witnessed them following Christ publicly.
Several people came to a saving faith in Jesus during the message and immediately went public with their brand new faith. One included a lady who told me recently that she “hated God” and was very wary of church. Her upbringing caused her to avoid church for decades. Last December she drove by our church sign and saw us promoting Fiddler on the Roof for our Christmas Dessert Theater and thought, “Any church that would put this on is a church I would visit!” Eventually she did in August and God kept drawing her to come back. This unchurched lady is now in the family of God. That’s what grace is all about. That’s what GracePoint is all about too!
It was a joy to see a number of people who have attended GracePoint for a long time who were having a difficult time singing because of the overwhelming experience they were having at church. These are the people who chose to remain when we were making difficult choices to build a vibrant church with a passion for unchurched people. A number of them told me this was the best Sunday they’ve ever experienced here.
To God be the glory for great things He has done, is doing, and will do. Especially last Sunday!