Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let all cry holy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Festival Follies

Last Wednesday night it was the first night of AWANA for the school year, and this year I was excited to have both little Liz and Emma to come. Both were a delight.

All the kids were a delight. They went out to the playground for game time, and their personalities came out and shone, and we all had fun helping them on the monkey bars. One of the moms had stuck around and when she learned that I was her child's leader she told me about her special concerns for her child's speech ability which has been hampered. She watched her child play as I did, and I could tell she was really worried, and finally she told me everything that was on her mind. I empathized and said I would be extra careful to encourage her. I knew that it could have been Carmen Saunders that I was speaking with, but Carmen is a twin so I just didn't think much about it.

It came time for the parents to come pick up their kids. It was crazy like usual, the kids don't know the protocol and they're naughty and can't hear you because everyone is really loud. All of a sudden Reid Saunders appeared to pick up his child. A a hush fell amongst all the women Cubby leaders, and I tried to contain my inward laugh. I realized that he was here for one of the kids in my group! The women all turned and gave me a secret look of shock, and one leaned in and stammered, "I recognized the last name, but I didn't know that was her dad."

He was wearing a perfectly pressed shirt even though it was approaching 8:30 pm, and a two or three people in the hallway were holding fast his attention trying to talk to him about some detail of Riverfest. I immediately sensed the ego factor, and decided that I wanted nothing to do with it. I decided that all I needed to say to him was that his child did really well tonight. So I looked at him and raised my voice (okay, it's like super duper loud in that room) and said "Your daughter did really well" as she was exiting out the door. He didn't notice me at all. So I said it again. No effect. I then decided that he didn't even need to hear that either. So I got down on my knees and said to the little girl through the baby gate, "I'm glad you came tonight, I'll see you next Wednesday," and blew her a kiss, which made her smile. I think Reid might have noticed me talking to her, but I went on to talking to the other kids still waiting to go.

Of course, I think this is amazing. Okay, humility is taking a backseat! But, he doesn't even go to our church, why was he even there? How is it that I was chosen by grace to be the one who gets to shape the beliefs of the child dear to the man who will do the same for thousands?

Undeserving. I feel special.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"The Gospel"

These are the scriptures being used by counselors for Riverfest, beyond whatever ones the events will be sharing.

For the children's area they will be using The Wordless Book. This method has been long used by Child Evangelism Fellowship for their booth at the Oregon State Fair and for their backyard Good News Clubs.

For the "Gold Page," John 3:16a. For the "Dark Page," Romans 3:23. For the "Red Page," Hebrews 9:22 and 1 Cor 15:3,4 (which say that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, and, Jesus died and rose again). For the "Clean Page," John 1:12 and Heb 13:5b (assurance of salvation). And for the "Green Page," 1 John 1:9 (He is faithful to cleanse us).

For the adults, there are three prepared scenarios based on the individual's need. The first scenario is someone who receives Jesus as Savior for the first time, the second is restoration or rededication, and the third is those needing to ask more questions about the gospel--the unsure or confused.

For those receiving Jesus, the scriptures counselors will use are: Rev 3:20 (I stand at the door and knock), John 1:12-13 (He gave them right to be sons of God to everyone who believed), John 3:16, 2 Cor 5:17 (whoever believes is a new creation), and Gal 2:20 (I no longer live but Christ).

For those rededicating, the scriptures are: 1 John 1:9 (He is faithful to cleanse), Psalm 32:5 ("I made my sins known to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to you, O LORD. Then you forgave all my sins."), Prov 28:13, 1 John 2:1 (Yet if anyone does sin they have Jesus Christ), 1 Cor 10:13 (not tempted beyond your ability), and Rom 8:1 (whoever is in Christ is not condemned).

For those who need to understand more about the gospel, counselors will use most the scriptures as those for the children in the Wordless Book, except it adds John 14:6 (I am the way, the truth and the life). It also has a prayer sample for this group written like so: "God, I know I am a sinner. Right now I repent and turn from my sins. I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins, rose from the grave, and is alive forever. I open the door of my heart and life, receiving Jesus Christ as my Savior. I want to follow him as Lord of my life. Thank you for saving me. Amen."

These scriptures and prayer scripts have been used for decades by the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, which began the festival model of "good news great music." The passages listed above are proven to cause people to believe in Jesus and become disciples. Counselors are free to share any other passages of scripture or even "wing it" with whatever they know of the bible and their own testimony if they forget these ones listed.

We were told during our training that It is so important not only to see salvation happen but also to get people plugged into a place where they will grow as believers. Because there is a variety of churches involved counselors have been told to write down what church someone might be comfortable attending or has previously attended. They will be sorted and followed up by that church. Also, counselors have been encouraged to exchange numbers with those they meet (as appropriate), and to call them later in the week to make sure it doesn't end up being a "date and dump" kind of experience.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Holy Community

For a long time in various different avenues I have noticed that when God needs to do a work in someone I know He also works in me simultaneously. That is why it is a beautiful thing to be within a community of other seekers of Jesus Christ.

When novel ideas are put into motion to bring a city to believe in Christ as in the case of Riverfest, there are many prayers that go up to bring it to a success. But God answers the prayers of the upright man in a powerful way, and a man would be upright if he is yielded to the Holy Spirit's will in all matters of life.

I drove around the city a lot today. I thought of me, when I was 12, 15, 17.... Many years where I thought that Christianity was some old-fashioned cultural leftover and nothing more. I had no clue. I wonder how it is that my heart was softened to accept the gospel when I heard it. How many unknown numbers of church-goers in this area are praying right now for that very thing for today's lost and backslidden. I can feel it. I can feel the prayers rising up everywhere and I can feel the people being readied to catch the pleasant aroma of Jesus.

I am a receiver myself of the work; that is how I can feel it in others.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sanc's "Riverfest" connections & preparations

Preparations: Last night (Thursday) was the counselor training session. Pastor Greg told us "If you're wanting to counsel to get a notch in your belt, don't do it. It's wrong! It's a sin!" No minced words, huh? He went on, "Catch that - it's not about us. It's about watching God as He is turning people from the power of Satan to the Lord Jesus Christ, by using the Word of God. We get to witness a brand new birth of a spiritual baby. You get to be there and hear the first sounds that come out of their mouth, just like witnessing a physical birth. You get to share their very first experience of new life."

Pastor Greg spent a couple moments discussing how God wants to use clean vessels and so right now we ought to take a couple minutes in prayer to confess our sins because He is faithful to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Well. My own personal walk with God has been a fluxuating mess of compromises, but, at that moment I considered the choice before me; more compromise which I am comfortable with, or, being ready for what God wants in two weeks. So I chose the latter and threw myself in. It dawned on me that no one is above being ministered to. I am sure Riverfest prayers are for the people who just stumble in and meet Christ at the festival. But those prayers are meant for anyone who needs them across the city. And I'm one of them.

Connections:I am so excited to be a part of something so powerful close to home. The park is about seven minutes from my house, and our church is only two blocks east! Last winter we had a ministry fair at our church and I helped Pastor Greg do an "outreach" table. He chose for the table: children's ministries, Birthright, and the homeless who live right in between our church and the park. We have the same ministries on the brain. I think about who will come, and those are it, the same whom I already am comfortable seeing when at Birthright.

I heard about Riverfest over a year ago and got excited for this mass evangelism/lifestyle evangelism effort. The thought of it for so long now, has been a huge source of joy in my life. Then Reid Saunders came and guest preached at our church a little while back. His ministry's theme? "It's all for Jesus!" He definitely is one of the "overanimated guys" you see sometimes in choirs, and he certainly has it going on everywhere with his gestures when speaking. But it makes people all the more curious to listen. He was saved when he was 17 (same age as me), he is now 33, and is married to Carmen, who I went to high school with. Carmen's brother's family goes to our church and is in our sunday school class.

A few weeks back I filled out a profile form to be a part and one of the questions was "explain your relationship with Jesus Christ." To that I answered in the lines provided "'Brothers, think of what you were when you were called!'" Guess what I heard last night Saunders is going to be preaching on? "The foolishness of the cross." Ha! That's my passage! Well, it's his too, oh, okay. (The two sentences are back to back in 1 Cor 1:25-26.)

Our church is deeply involved in organizing and supplying its volunteers. We are the church that is closest to the park and I will use it as a way-station for childcare and a parking spot! We're praying for 200 people from our church alone to step up as counselors to speak with those on the grounds who receive Christ during the eight invitations of the festival. Overall, 2,000 are hoped to come as counselors from the community of churches, and another 3-4,000 as general volunteers for everything from security to set-up and take down.

The most amazing thing about all of the events planned, of course, are the music artists: (sit yourself down) Avalon. Jars of Clay. Big Daddy Weave. Salvador. Free. Ooh. The thought came that I might just skip helping at all so that I can just soak in seeing the people I love in person. I remember at the Louis Palau festival in Portland's waterfront park, like seven years ago, I saw about a mile back from the stage, Steven Curtis Chapman play. That was cool. And I once saw Third Day and Michael W. Smith in the Rose Garden (I bought the tickets for Ben since he loves Third Day). But Avalon is my favorite Christian artist (the chipper Christian in me). Aww. I wanna crowd in and get all that loud, free meaning all just for me. This could be the best two days of my life. Who knows? I do know that if I didn't get to share in God's sanctifying work then the point of it all would be ultimately lost, for me. I love to talk to people about Jesus. I am glad I signed up as a counselor, and happy to think that God will use me as He pleases.

I am pretty pumped. Right now I'm listening to the opening tune which graces the click onto the Salem Riverfest website, "Dead Man" by Jars of Clay. My infant is a little curious watching his mom bounce out the suspension in her computer chair and dancing in the seat like a white man would. It's all in the fists, yo. Ooh! I invented a new move, the row boat. Can't you just feel the row-boat-move in the song?

Ha ha.

Salem Riverfest

Lately there's a low-down buzz all around town. It's all for Riverfest coming very soon... September 22-23th.

"Incredible" and "unprecedented" would be a couple of very well fitting words to describe what is about to take place.

Salem is the capitol of Oregon, and the oldest non-commercial settlement in the entire Pacific Northwest with a history beginning in 1837 when Jason Lee (a Methodist) arrived from Boston to evangelize the local Native American tribes living here. As a result of its age, Salem is home to four colleges and has an established variety of faiths. With a population of 160,000 people, it is the second-largest city in Oregon (after Portland, about 60 miles north).

In two weeks, tens of thousands or perhaps more will descend here from four neighboring states to participate in Salem Riverfest 2007 with Reid Saunders. The Willamette River courses alongside the downtown area, and in the Riverfront Park there will be a children's zone, extreme sports demonstrations, a sports area & food court, and most significantly, a main stage which will host nationally-known Christian musicians. All will be free of charge.

“This is unprecedented in the history of Salem, having over 100 churches coming together to reach the city for Christ. It’s phenomenal,” said Saunders. “Simply put, when all is said and done, we want everyone to know that RiverFest is all for Jesus.”

For more information:

Salem Riverfest

Christian News Northwest

blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)