An Easter Sunday at Harvest
I have attended Harvest Christian Fellowship for going on twenty-four years now. A few of the old-timers will have vague memories of Harvest still being called Calvary Chapel, Riverside, Bob Probert up on the podium alone with his acoustic guitar leading the praise and worship, the original balcony on the main sanctuary having only four narrow rows on each side of the building, the growing Childrens Ministry being housed in portable trailers up on The Hill along with the original building, or -- Pastor Greg Laurie having a lot more hair!
As an observer of this dynamic work of the Lord over these many years, one of the main attributes of Harvest has always been growth, and a lot of it. Growth in the local area, or the state, national, and global arena of Christianity. There have always been the temporal challenges as Satan has endeavored to derail what the Lord has always sought to build and create in this body of believers -- there always will be, but they have been, and will be, overcome.
But something is different now; its hard to put my finger on it. As I was standing at the top edge of the new outside amphitheater Easter Sunday watching the standing room only crowd and Crystal Lewis belting out a rousing rendition of Oh, Happy Day backed up by the Harvest Choir and band I found myself laughing. Not just smiling, but laughing.
I dont mean this in a derogatory sense either, and it wasnt the first time in recent months. I genuinely had a deep seated consciousness of joy in my heart. Its not that it was Easter. Ive always enjoyed going to Harvest. It has been our familys oasis from the grind of daily life, a recurrent spiritual correction of reality in the face of all the grievous trials our family and nation has faced over the last three decades. But there is an inexpressible intensity now.
Not that the body at Harvest is at all reserved or unassuming. We have always been a rowdy, loud, spiritually motivated bunch. The Harvest Crusades, our churchs yearly state, national -- and now global -- outreach is testimony to the aggressive evangelical order of the church. Yet, in counsel with my wife, we agreed that in recent months the dynamics here have changed, ratcheted up quite a few more notches. For both of us, it was the evening country-western singer Randy Travis was visiting, singing his new Gospel album, which really exhibited it. Even Randy seemed overwhelmed with the enthusiastic, the energetic, response of the congregation; the intermittent applause in the middle of some of his songs.
Yet, it wasnt just an event that was staged like so many superficial promotional gimmicks that are employed by church administrators in mans strength and wisdom to sell the organization at the expense of the message -- in this case the life changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was much more. It was the culmination of the prayers and repentance, the faith and dedication, the work and forward thinking vision of the Harvest church leadership and church body they have always been accountable to. It was the interaction between the life-changing Holy Spirit and a body of believers who through the years have come into a real and discernible relationship with the One who is moving among them. Simply powerful.
No, the roof didnt come down that night -- but almost. Not like in years past; in contrast, on a whole new level. So I will summarize it all, and as a Christian, I will boast in the Lord and Him alone. Because all the credit and praise surely goes only to Him as the Author of the ongoing spiritual work and accomplishment which this one church has become, and the culmination and combination of many factors and things which is:
Harvest is really rolling now!
As one armored division -- and a big one -- within the spiritual army the individual Christian soldier is characterized and implied a part of, in the invisible Church in the world, this church division is rolling! In so many different ways.
The fatalism and complacency of the times have melted clean away. The mediocrity and lukewarmness that has plagued Christianity corporately in America and rendered her impotent and relegated to the sidelines in American culture have been totally purged. Certainly the hurdles and obstacles Satan has sought to hobble and chain the Church and the Gospel down have been cast off -- at least here -- and left a New Testament body with the limitless potential to turn the world upside down as at the beginning.
Consequently, the enemy has growing problems. As a parallel to the events of our times, Satan and his weapons of mass destruction of sin, faithlessness, complacency and fear, that he has terrorized and employed to spiritually undermine, divide, and destroy this nation and the work of the Church therein, are open targets of opportunity in the path of this forward moving church, rolling like the 15th Marines through a Republican Guard Division on the way to Baghdad. That two thousand year old Church mandate with the final objective we are tasked with in mind and then finally -- home.
Keep going Pastor Greg and Staff, keep pouring it on. Keep going everybody at Harvest, every volunteer and prayer warrior, because if you can see it, He has the bad guys on the run. Easter Sunday at Harvest (as well as everywhere) and new life, and faith in God, and courage, being trumpeted throughout the nation and world. Our community and nation still a light shining in the darkness which would seek to envelope the globe.
Oh, and we havent even begun to realize the full potential of all this, in light of His limitless promises to us! Because we believe Him! Even with the completion of the recent remodel the place is still bursting at the seams.
So I wander around the grounds and listen to the sermons at Harvest Christian Fellowship and all that is happening and quietly laugh from time to time.
Lost souls being brought into a real and dynamic relationship with Him.
Christians old and new, young and experienced, being further equipped and strengthened.
The Harvest Crusades an extremely potent and forward deployed element of the church bringing the same spiritual liberty and freedom we enjoy to the rest of the world through the Gospel.
And if the Lord came back today to take the corporate Church home, He would have to pull out the Harvest crew with direct force as they were aggressively pounding the daylights out of Satan and his destructive works, in the valleys, zealously going about our Fathers business.
And it is a wonderful, wonderful thing to behold.
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