The past three days have been AMAZING! Our church hosted something called Illuminate, where Dean Sikes (www.deansikes.net), Anthony Evans (www.anthony-evans.com) and Obe and Amber (www.obeandamber.com) joined us for a kind of mini-revival. I’ve mentioned Dean in another post (In The Beginning…God Created This Blog), and I credit him for being the medium…art term not psychic… God used to move me to write. I encourage everyone to check out Anthony Evans and Obe and Amber. Their music is truly God-inspired, and you’ll be blessed for the listening. Anthony is going to be on NBC’s “The Voice” after the Superbowl…just saying .
Back to illuminate. These people we brought to our little corner of South Georgia went into our school system, along with our pastors and youth pastors, to minister to our youth during the week. They started at the high school and ended in middle with the 6th graders. Having worked crimes against children and sex crimes, I can tell you first-hand that our young people are hurting. Teenage sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, delinquency and thoughts of suicide are all very prevalent in our community. In a county of nearly 40 thousand people, there were approximately 64 cases of pregnancy involving teens ages 12 to 16. That’s right, people. I said 12. Let me put it this way. Dean spoke on Friday evening. His comment was that he was stunned by the number of kids who came up to him for a hug or to hear about God or for a kind word. And he wasn’t even preaching! *Side note- You have to check out Dean’s website. He crusades primarily for suicide prevention for our youth*. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 young adults that night who made decisions to either follow God for the first time or re-dedicate their lives to Him!
Now, I realize that He was moving through our county like a hot knife through butter over the course of the week. It became personal, however, on Friday before we ever left the house. Lena and I were getting Emma, our two-year-old ready to go to the church. She asked where we were going, and we told her…to which she joyfully replied, “We’re going to praise the Word (“Lord” with a “W” )?” I chuckled and smiled as I replied, “Yes, Princess. We’re going to praise the Lord.” How proud I was that God rewarded our faithfulness in Him with our toddler wanting to go and praise Him! This was part one of His plan.
On to Covenant. Our 14-year-old, Makayla, invited one of her friends to come with us. Caitlin, our 12-year-old, did the same thing. At altar-call, Makayla’s friend tried to get Caitlin to go up there with her. Dean’s message was so powerful, that she was crying in her seat. One of our regular attendees came up from behind her and helped her to the front. When it was said and done, and everyone was dispersing, my wife went with Makayla and her friend to a side room to minister to her. Caitlin came back to where I was sitting with Emma and Mia, our newborn (both sound asleep in my lap and arms respectively). She was tearing up, and I asked her why she was crying. She said that she didn’t know, and the next thing you know, she started squalling. I flagged down our pastor and Dean, and they immediately came over and ministered to her. It was a beautiful thing to see God working so wonderfully on my family! Part two.
Saturday saw more of the same, though it was all about the music. We were so blessed to be treated to a full-blown concert by Anthony Evans. My daughters were still excited the next day and couldn’t wait to go back for more. Once again, my wife and I sat towards the back (easy egress when the little ones get a little ornery), while the girls sat more towards the front. I’ve mentioned before that music plays an integral part of my faith, and I was hit like a cinderblock by Anthony. I cried and cried and cried some more at his performance (okay…I’m not ashamed to admit here that I cry at Disney movies as well). The girls weren’t as emotional as I was, but they were psyched up nonetheless. The amazing thing about the concert wasn’t how moved I was by the music, though. It was that Emma…two years old, don’t forget… and one of her friends were dancing and clapping along with us. Part three.
Finally, Sunday, His plan really hit home. I told Lena on Friday after Dean spoke that I wanted to blog about the day and how special it was for our family. With everything that needed to be done at the house and to get ready for the next day, I didn’t have time. Same thing on Saturday. So, I resolved to write it as soon as I could. Apparently He wanted me to wait. Samantha, our 17-year-old who lives with her father (remember we’re a blended family) had told Lena on Friday that she was going to come on Sunday with her boyfriend. We all were very excited, as we don’t get to see her very often. Her life at 17 is completely filled up with working two jobs, her boyfriend, getting ready for college, etc. As such, it’s always a treat when she visits.
As Lena and I sat behind the girls, ALL of our girls, it hit me. This is why I was supposed to wait. I needed to see His finished body of work. There they were, 17 on down to two (and Mia with us in the back), standing and singing. Praising God. Loving God and each other. I looked over at Lena and leaned in to speak to her. “Isn’t God awesome?!?” I asked/exclaimed with tears…again…in my eyes. It’s a rare occasion to have all of the family together. But to have them together worshipping our Heavenly Father? That was the pièce de résistance…His plan coming together.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11
I’ll leave you with one of the songs off of Anthony’s new album. I’ve previously posted a version of this song by the David Crowder Band (which I love as well), but the power of Anthony’s voice…yeah…moved me to tears . May it bless you as it did me.