What a weekend!
Yesterday was definitely a full day. We began with our regular services on Sunday morning only to find one of our video projectors wasn't working at all. We could not even get it to turn on. Now, I know it's just a projector, and for the worship services it wouldn't be that big a deal to not have it. However, at 3pm yesterday, we were hosting Kirk Cameron and Warren Barfield for the "Love Worth Fighting For" Marriage Event and I knew the projector would be needed.
Guess it was just a case of trying to get us to lose focus. The projector came back on. Yeah, I prayed it would. Kind of a weird prayer, because I wasn't sure God was too concerned about the video projector. I couldn't find any verses in the Bible where prayers over broken video projectors were said. Still, I believe it was more about distraction than technology. Unfortunately, I would have been worrying about that thing all day (and yes, I know worry is a sin, so I've repented of that almost worry already.)
Nevertheless, the projector worked throughout the afternoon. It probably doesn't work today, but I don't care. I'm sitting in the Miami International Airport on my way to Honduras with five other people from our church.
By the way, Miami's airport code is MIA. That's not too comforting. "Our entire mission team is now MIA!" doesn't bring comfort.
Back to yesterday.
The morning services went well as we began a new series titled "Worth It." It's a series to last through August with a focus on God's design for marriage. Yesterday was basically an introduction to the topic. It's a difficult topic to speak about when the crowd listening is so varied. Yet, it is my conviction that whether a person is married or single, an understanding of the biblical standards and purpose of marriage must be known. God even used the marriage relationship as an illustration of Christ's relationship with the church.
So, we're going to swim through the cultural understandings and teachings regarding marriage and land firmly on the foundation of God's Word on this subject. It will not be an easy series, but will be "worth it."
The guys for the conference were there as soon as the 10:45am service was over. Warren Barfield and his brother Jeffrey arrived early and were in the foyer. They had been traveling all morning from Orlando and were in casual-mode (which is common for these guys. . .and makes them my heroes.) Warren shared that apparently, they confused or maybe even scared our ushers. One of our men kept quizzing them as to why they were there and just hanging out in the foyer. They laughed about it as they shared the encounter with me. Apparently, some of our ushers were at "Threat Level Red" and were concerned about these casually dressed guys with guitar cases claiming to be musicians. So much for first impressions.
Mike Williams, founder of Feed Your Faith, and the sponsor of the event arrived. They had just completed two days of conferences - one in Ocala and one in Winter Park. We were the last leg of this three day tour. I know these guys were beat, but they had great attitudes. There was a team of about 10 that were here to set up product tables, organize Feed the Hungry child sponsorships, set up the sound and stage and get everything ready for the event.
We had a great team of volunteers ready as well who gave up their early afternoon to get everything ready and just be available as needed. Thanks to all of them.
Kirk and his son Jack arrived and we set them up in the "green room."
We are at a point of having to fix that air conditioner in the "green room" - also known as the C Building. The comfort level in that room is terrible. Whew! I'm sweating just thinking about sitting in there. So, we ended up moving them to my office, where the air conditioner defintely works (just ask our secretaries.)
Kirk had a special Q & A time with those who purchased VIP tickets. This was a great time for him to share his story of how he came to Christ and why he does what he does. The questions were great, for the most part. As I was standing with Warren over to the side, he began sharing that just about in every town, an aspiring actress will arrive just to give Kirk a headshot photo with hopes he will pass it along so she can become the next big star. No, it's not the same woman in each city, but there seems to always be one.
Yes, there was one here yesterday as well. Kirk was gracious and took questions. Warren just hid in the corner and laughed.
The building started filling up and we knew that about 900 tickets were sold ahead of time. When the doors opened, people just kept coming. The worship center was as full as I've ever seen it. It made me wonder what a Sunday morning would look like if the house was packed. Maybe if Kirk was there each Sunday?
At our church, people often complain . . . voice their concerns about how cold it is in the worship center. That's one room where the air conditioner works very well. It was cool that morning, but apparently, when the doors are propped opened at noon as people are leaving church, all of the cool air flows outside. Go figure. Since it's 90+ degrees outside with a heat index of 187 degrees, the building doesn't stay cool. Then, when you shove 1200+ people into the building, all with their 98.6 degree temperatures, it gets hot in the room.
Wow! I'm sorry it was so hot. I checked the air conditioner about five times during the event, and it was blowing. I knew it was working, because when everyone left, it was freezing in there.
I was able to spend some time talking with Warren and his brother Jeffrey. I really like these guys. Not only are they gifted musicians and singers, there is a depth to them that is inviting. We talked for some time about church, frustrations, and family time and things I won't go into detail about. I look forward to finishing this conversation in the future. We may meet at Applebee's in Nashville sometime to talk more.
I also had the opportunity to talk with Kirk. Kirk has a passion for the things of God. One reporter asked me if I thought Kirk's celebrity status played a role in attracting people at the event. I wanted to say "Duh!" but didn't. Of course it plays a role, but the thing I discovered about Kirk, is that he understands God has given him a story. His story and his celebrity history as "Mike Seaver" has enabled him to have a platform for sharing boldly about Christ and about things that matter.
Kirk and Warren were great on stage. Kirk opened with a self-depracating act that took people back to the days of "Growing Pains." It was a good start because he knows that's where most people first came to know him.
He soon transitioned into the teaching about life and marriage. He readily admitted he is not a marriage counselor or pastor. He shared that his experience as a Christian husband of twenty years to Chelsea Noble and father of six children gives him some things worth sharing.
The message was clear and plain. The points and ideas shared are not new, for there is nothing new under the sun, but were good, clear reminders of what it takes to live our lives for God and to be the husband or wife God has called us to be.
Later in the evening he used illustrations and clips from his film "Fireproof." These were great clips that really showed the truth of what he had been saying.
I personally liked his challenge to the men to be godly fathers and husbands. The "Mancard" he distributed had some great reminders for all husbands based on 1 Peter 3.
Warren didn't sing much, but when he did, it was incredible. What a voice! I love the acoustic set that he and Jeffrey put together.
Warren's most well-known song may be "Love Is Not A Fight" as featured in the film "Fireproof." One of the most poignant moments of the day was when Warren shared how the song came to be. I had thought he must have written it for the movie. That's not so. It was written after a pretty serious fight with his wife that almost led to their separation. Warrren has a great sense of humor and is a great story-teller. Even though the story about the fight was hard for him to share, the way he shared it drew the crowd in and held us. Then, he performed the song. Wow! It was an incredible moment. Much more than a "concert performance."
Events are not always the best things for churches to host. Many times, events are just events. What I mean by that is they are short-sighted and built upon a model that believes if people are in the building or that a group shows up, it is successful.
I talked with Mike Williams about this and determined that this event would be more than just an "event." At least it had the potential to be.
It really is up to the couples now. What will they do with what they heard?
Kirk asked me if we had a program for the couples to join that could help them in the area of marriage and life. I shared that our desire is that believers grow together in community. That is best fleshed-out in our small groups. Now some small groups don't get this and I'd never suggest anyone join them, but others do and more are beginning to. Joining a "Sunday School class" isn't the answer. Couples won't grow closer to each other and with other couples in community if they are just atteding a class one hour a week where someone else reads the Bible to them and tells them the "truth of the day."
However, if couples (and individuals) will invest in each other, if they will become a part of a small group that is intent on growing deeper and more intimate with God together, some incredible life change can happen.
Married couples need other married couples (men need men and women need women) living the journey with them. Older couples can pour into younger ones. Mistakes and challenges can be avoided. Life can be abudant and full. This is God's design.
So, you can read a marriage book together. This is a good thing to do.
You can go to a marriage conference or retreat together. This is a good thing, too.
You can even go see a marriage counselor. Still another good thing.
However, it is my conviction, that couples need to be in community with other believers. It needs to be a pure, holy, safe community for faith development and growth. Love is worth fighting for, but you don't have to fight alone.
The event started with fun stories and music and clapping and laughing. It ended with husbands and wives on their knees together praying for transformation in their lives. What happens now is dependant on the obedience of us as men and women, not to Kirk Cameron's challenge, but to God's calling.
Love is worth fighting for.
Your marriage is worth it.