Monday, April 14, 2008

the best meetings of the year

Some events are really, really hard to write about.

To distill into mere words how I feel about the latest meetings at our church? Too hard! Almost impossible! Please don't ask me to do it.

Oh, all right already. I'll try.

Each spring for over 25 years, our pastors have invited men (and women) to minister at special evening meetings which are open to the whole congregation. These men and women, some of whom we know personally and some of whom we have never met, travel from all parts of the country and come geared up to bless us. Over a series of four consecutive evenings, they briefly share from the Word and then get down to business.

They are prophets.

No, they don't have long beards or carry large sticks. They wear regular clothes and (I would assume) put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. They eat eggs over-easy for breakfast, some of them. One prophet we know likes to belt out seventies tunes, karaoke-style, for fun. Plain ole 'regular folk, I say. With the difference being this: God has given them a gift and the gift is for us.

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..." Ephesians 4:11-12a

God has given prophets to the church to prepare us for service and to strengthen the congregation. He did not give us prophets to tickle our ears with flattery or to perform fortune-telling tricks. I can appreciate those that would initially shy away from this whole idea of prophecy, as the world is rife with counterfeits. (Boy, is it ever!)

Good advice and it's free: Don't let counterfeits rob you from experiencing the real thing.

In the atmosphere of prayer and worship, specific members of our congregation come forward for ministry. They have requested this and have been prepared with instruction and prayer. Young couples, high-school seniors, men and women who have served faithfully in our church for many years, new believers, they sit among these prophets and God shows up.
It can be a scary experience! --until you hear the words of love and assurance that are spoken.

"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. " 2 Peter 1 :19

It is light work to pay attention to this stuff. We sit straight up in our folding chairs, we do.

We in the congregation are transfixed and enriched by God's words to the recipients. If we are intimately acquainted with the person receiving prayer, even more so! Hurts and fears are lovingly addressed. Dreams and desires are confirmed. Personal giftings and areas of service are proclaimed and explained. Callings are identified. The Bible is always at hand and the scriptures are applied liberally and personally. A few surprises are always thrown in, which bolsters my theory that God is more fun than we generally give Him credit for.

Without prompting, voices from the gathered crowd murmur yes and amen. Spontaneous applause and a smattering of stomps and back-slaps fill the hall, too. When we aren't moved to tears, we are laughing with joy.

What can I say; we are a demonstrative bunch.

"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church."
1 Corinthians 14:5b

To edify means to build up, to strengthen.

God wants His people to be serving Him whole-heartedly. He desires us to be strong. He wants us to know His unconditional love. Consistently, year after year, these are the thoughts that are impressed upon me when I leave these meetings.

"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:20-21

One of the things that excites me the most is the drive home after the meeting. We are hosting one of the guests in our home, so we get to illumine him with all kinds of cool info.
These regular guys I told you about? They really don't know a thing. They got nuthin' on these people they are praying over, I'm telling you.

"You know that first couple? They have a heart for the Muslim people. So all that stuff about God using them to break down the walls of dead religion and planting God's love among different peoples? That was such an encouragement to them They are moving overseas next summer to do that very work!"

"Those words about heritage spoken over that young man? Well, his dad is our pastor...
God is already using his musical gifts. But those words about leading worship will call him higher."

"Thank you for speaking such healing over this one. She has been so hurt from rejection in the past."

On and on it goes.

I knew it would be hard to capsulize these meetings. It's the best I can do, really. And there is so much more to say, but I have a household to run here. And a prophet to feed. (p.s. this one likes dinner after late-night meetings and last night, it was take-out pizza. See? Regular guy.)

If this post piques your interest and you live within a 300 mile drive of Madrid, New York, you can make it to tonight's meeting. 7 o'clock sharp.


Anonymous brietta said...

I think you do a great job writing about such monumental events! And I really appreciated reading this and reviewing all that God has already done. God sure is good to us.

4:21 PM  
Blogger sam said...

We sure wish we were withing 300 miles; K so wanted to receive ministry her senior year. :(

5:25 PM  
Blogger Darlene Sinclair said...

I attended - and boy was it a humdinger! I thought the roof would lift off that ol' school building with all the shouting and praising. God said some amazing things through those regular guys with that prophetic gift! They were right on and imparted great encouragement and challenges. So incredibly exciting! There's one more tomorrow night still (Tuesday - 7:00!)

11:52 PM  
Blogger TrashTidBits said...

You did a great job at sharing. I wouldn't even have attempted. Our friend from Texas is here...hope to see you tonight.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great summation. Haven't the meetings been wonderful? A good, spiritual boost.

9:47 AM  

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