I experienced two ballrooms this week. The first was on TV.
Last Sunday evening The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California hosted the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards. The talk of the evening was "Who are you wearing?", "Who are you excited to see?", and which TV shows and movies would take home the coveted trophies. (honestly, I had heard of some of the movies nominated this year, but I hadn't seen many of them since they were way outside of my general action hero/superhero movie genre). The night was littered with glamour, glitz, alcohol, some profanity, and, the not-so-subtle, gay rights plugs.
You may ask why I watched? Well, I am always intrigued by these events. As a pastor and scholar, I am able to get a bird's eye view into what is driving American culture in the 21st Century. We (the culture generally) are a people who long for a story to give meaning and purpose to our existence, no matter how degrading or debase that story might be. We long to relate to something that might help us cope with our lot in life and give us some small glimmer of hope. We also like a competition. We like to cheer for the underdog, the independent, the marginalized. Such a night allows us to do all of the above. Another reason I like to watch is to see beyond the screen in the lives of those who are delivering this message and get a small, but very public, glimpse of who these people are. It reminds me of the lostness all around us and the desperate need people have for a Savior.
Now, to the second ballroom.
This past Monday and Tuesday, our pastoral staff at FFBC participated in what I can only call an "experience". Some might call it a conference or a gathering, but I'm going to stick with the word "experience". We gathered at the Atlanta Airport Westin Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia with around 300 Southern Baptist Pastors from 28 states for the purpose of 8 hours of prayer. That's it. We prayed. There were some times of worship through song and some exhortation from God's Word, but the primary purpose was to pray. And so we did. And our focus was specific. We prayed for a mighty outpouring of God's Spirit on His church and on our nation. We prayed for the revival and renewal of God's people resulting in a Spiritual Awakening of the lost. It's pretty amazing to "experience" an event where 300 pastors are literally on their faces before God crying out to Him for forgiveness, for His presence, for our churches, and for the lost.
That is why I call this an "experience". Over these two days, we simply experienced the powerful presence of a holy, mighty God. And all of us walked away changed.
I don't know what God will do with our time together, but He has given His church a great promise.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)- "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
Do you believe that promise? If so, will you join me? Will you begin to pray like you have never prayed before? Will you pray that God will move, by the power of His Spirit, through His church for His purposes? Will you pray that God will give you His burden for a lost world? Will you pray?