I have never had such an amazing weekend as this last weekend when I preached at Living Hope Community Church in Vancouver, WA. John Bishop, the founding senior pastor, and Duane Warren, are both Western alums and great friends. I’ve taught the staff and pastors in training many times over the years, but this is the first time I’ve preached there. John had just returned from a three week preaching tour in Australia that climaxed at the Hillsong United. Living Hope is quite large, around 5,000, as it comes to its 12th anniversary. They are on several campuses and run six services in their main Brush Prairie campus. So I did two sermons Saturday and three (9, 11, and 1) on Sunday. I preached on the sacrifice of Isaac from Genesis 22, with John closing the service.
The sermon came after we sang "This is our God," a great song John heard in Australia. You can hear it here. The story of the woman who sings in this video has a testimony that is overwhelmingly powerful. You can hear it here and enjoy "Desert Song" as well. When I finished, I had the worship team come back and sing it again with new meaning. John’s invitation was in the middle of the song. The Spirit made the song and the words incredibly powerful.
In the Saturday service, there were dozens of people on their knees at the stage, doing business with Jesus. On Sunday many more also responded to the call to deal with spiritual issues. The atmosphere was electric. In the second Sunday service, John spontaneously led people in a salvation prayer, and then asked for those who had prayed that prayer to raise their hands so he could pray for them. Imagine my astonishment when 52 people responded. He did it again in the final service and another 42 people raised their hands. I could hardly believe it. You can hear the the center of the service here or the whole service on the Internet campus.
There is an evangelistic anointing on the church that’s unique in the Portland metro area. How many churches would have 100 seekers in their services, I wonder. And the working of the Spirit to make the gospel that real is astounding. Many area churches benefit as they get involved in discipling the new believers. Living Hope cannot possibly disciple that many converts.
The last couple of weeks have had more than its share of crisis things. There’s a new born in the NICU at Emanuel with a backward plumbed heart, a hole in her diaphragm among other things. Her parents are from way north in Alaska, not believers, but met a guy from Grace whose daughter had similar problems. I ended up joining him and the father around the baby in the NICU. As my emotions were hit by memory of Elizabeth struggling for life in Children’s Mercy less than a year earlier, we talked as her father stroked his desperately ill tiny girl. Then we joined hands and I prayed for her healing. Her parents went back to their village and will return before the heart repair surgery on Nov. 11. Please pray with me that she will survive until then and that the surgery will work. I want her parents, who have seen the power of the LORD in community, to take a beautiful little daughter home with them.
I prayed today with a friend who had a afflicting presence related to a severe trauma in her life. As I began to pray, the LORD worked, not only overcoming the presence, but doing some deep healing as well. There was a kinship of spirit around His work that left us in silent awe before the joy broke out.
The awesome power of our LORD is astounding. That makes it all the harder when things don’t work as they should. I wait on the LORD, but often in expectant agony or in hopeful sadness. It a place where knowing the support of a friend is so important. It’s a place where the Spirit lives.