Many months ago our staff at FBC Ponca City had decided that we would do our camp report night (the Sunday evening service in which we talk about kids camp, youth camp, VBS, etc.) at a local park that has a huge outdoor pool. Honestly, there were selfish motives on my part. My 13 year old son, Seth, had come to faith in Christ two years ago just before I left for Afghanistan. Because Seth has autism and sensory integration disorder, we knew that baptism was going to be a difficult task. You see, once Seth gets in the water he does not want to get out! The pressure on his body helps his sensory integration – he feels like his body is “all put together”. But if I could baptize him and then…let him swim away…now, that would work!
So we planned to do a baptism service AFTER a dinner fellowship. We initially had Seth and a few other people lined up to be baptized as a public demonstration of their faith in Christ. Plans changed. We had no idea what would happen in our worship service yesterday morning.
I preach expositionally – I go verse by verse through books of the Bible to keep us in context. Periodically I take a break and preach on another subject for a series of Sundays. Yesterday I started a series on “The Healthy Church”. We had baptized a young man to begin the service. We sang our songs. I stood to preach about what it means to be a healthy church. The text was Hebrews 10:19-25. I preached for my normal 40 minutes. Nothing unordinary.
Then God showed up.
Stating the obvious, it makes a big difference when God shows up. A BIG difference!
To make a long story short, 6 people trusted Christ by faith and repentance and 14 committed their lives to our faith family in membership. Several people came for prayer and to make a commitment to more closely follow Christ. One came sensing a call to vocational ministry.
After all of that, we still had the Lord’s Supper scheduled. Frankly, I stumbled through it. It was a long service. But it didn’t feel long. Who cares anyway, right? God showed up. I don’t think that is “preacher talk” – I think God brought His glory to visit our faith family in an unusual way.
Then it happened all over again last night. Let me say I am just a man of very little faith. We had planned a dinner in an air conditioned hall near the pool. The hall holds about 125 people. At 6 PM we had about 100 people there. At 6:05, I knew we had a good problem. The place packed within minutes. People were talking about the unique experience of the morning service. Nearly 300 people showed up to eat. I am thankful that we have a group of ladies who have more faith than I do and planned for a lot more people. We had the food, but ran out of time. We never got to the camp report.
We moved down to the pool where over 300 people gathered on the big steps at Wentz pool to witness 16 people be baptized. Several kids. A few teenagers. Two married couples were baptized with their spouses. And the very last one baptized was my son Seth…and then he swam away.
I wish I could say that every Sunday is like that. Certainly not. In fact, that is my first day like THAT in 25 years. I wish I could tell you how it happened. I know it was not of human effort. Only God could have done what we saw yesterday.
Yesterday was my one year anniversary as the pastor of FBC Ponca City. That is nothing special. What happened yesterday was. When I came to the church a year ago I told several of the leaders I needed one year to see where we are as a church and where we need to go. I pray that yesterday was not the pinnacle – I pray it was the start. Let God be glorified in His church. May the glory of His Son Jesus be manifested, not only in our services, but primarily in our lives. It was a glorious day – but just a start.
I love you FBC Ponca City – I glorify you Lord Jesus.