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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Amplify

It’s hard to believe but for over 20 years God has used me to have a part in helping students decipher the confusing messages that they get pummeled with on a daily basis, and I can honestly say it’s been a blast.

I didn’t say it’s been easy, but it has been fulfilling, to see God use students and adults joining together to impact a generation for Him!

As I was thinking about some of the best moments in ministry, moments that are etched in my brain as the kinds of things that really made an impact on me and were used of God to change the lives of many people as well, my mind goes to a late night jam session on September 13th, 2001.

I’ve written an article called “Anything Broken?” about the events surrounding the fateful week, that we hosted a huge concert with Five Iron Frenzy and Relient K three days after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.



We were about an hour north of NYC, and were directly affected by the pain and fear that gripped the nation during those days immediately following the attacks.

God did amazing things through the ministry of the musicians, and lives were changed. I’ve written about that part of the story, but I will always remember a conversation that I was a part of the night before the event.

To fully grasp the importance of the conversation you need to realize that we had made arrangements with the bands to show up three days prior to the concert with all their lights, sound equipment, staging, fog machine and all the other gear that they travelled with.

We were the first stop on their fall tour and they wanted to have access to the venue and equipment in order to practice and get the bugs out from their brief lay-off between their summer festival tour and fall tour.
Every thing was shaping up great until the events of 9/11 changed everything, but they finally arrived by bus and got their gear ready to go and about 11pm on the night before the big show, the guys and girl of FIF plugged in, tuned up and got ready to rock out with their first practice of the night.

It was amazing as I sat there with a couple youth leaders in an empty auditorium and watched them go through their routine to get ready to minister to a building full of hurting kids who had just three days prior come home to the news that “aunt Jan”, “uncle Joe”, “cousin Bob” or even mom or dad was directly effected by the evil events of 9/11.

How do you even open the show knowing that that’s what your audience is dealing with…”Hey every one who’s happy to be here tonight? Cricket, cricket, cricket.”

FIF knew full well what they were dealing with, and as I’ve written about and many others have talked about, the night of the concert they really delivered the goods to a packed house, and broken lives were fixed through the power of God’s truth and love.

What most people don’t know though is that during that “night before” jam session, from about 11pm until 3am, FIF rocked the STAGE of the auditorium, not the entire auditorium.

It was the strangest thing I had ever seen. I mean I’ve been to tons of concerts over the years, and every concert I’ve ever been to the speaker stacks were pointing outward toward the crowd. It only makes sense to have it that way doesn’t it?

Well, not to these guys, no their philosophy is to have every speaker, subwoofer, and monitor, anything that can and will make noise pointed at them while they warm up.

It was interesting to watch as they jammed out with who knows how many decibels pounding in their general direction. It was interesting to watch, but very frustrating to hear, as I could see them having fun up there, I understood most of what they were playing and singing, but to be honest I felt like a total outsider, who was being left to figure out the message on my own.

There was not enough amplification being pointed in my direction to know the real deal…Very Frustrating!

My friends and I sat there for quite a while just taking it all in, until the lead singer invited us to come on stage and join them and take part in the festivities! We jumped up and hopped on stage in a flash, and wow what a difference a few feet made as far as being able to understand and engage in what they were doing.

Having the amplification pointed at us made all the difference.

You know spiritually it’s the same thing. So many times we as Christ followers say the right things, do the right things and think we’re being effective, but in reality it’s as if we’ve got the speakers pointed only at us, and those who definitely need to have the message blared at them in a crystal clear fashion are left on the outside only to look in, and be frustrated.

I was thinking about that, and how important it is for us to make our message known to the masses in a high def kind of way, and then all of a sudden mid-song, the lead singer yelled into his microphone…”stop, stop, stop…hold up everyone…you know this stage configuration made me think about a spiritual truth…he said the speakers pointed in on us makes for great sound quality for us…but what if we left them this way tomorrow night when the crowd shows up? They would be ticked, and would miss out on all the fun, and most importantly not have a chance to engage with the truth of Christ’s love…that would be tragic!”

He went on to say…”As Christ followers we need to have the speakers pointed in from time to time, as we sharpen our walk, encourage each other and continually challenge each other to rock the stage with the message of Christ…but as fun as this is, it can’t stay this way…we’ve got to turn the speakers outward, there is a multitude of hurting, broken people who are going to come flooding through those doors in a few hours, and we need to blow them away with God’s love! What do say we turn those stacks around and rock this house?”

That’s exactly what they did, and for the next couple hours until very early in the morning the place was shaking as they proclaimed the truth that, God is in the broken life fixing business, and the OPEN sign is hanging in the window...all are welcome!

I re-learned a very important truth that night…a truth that is still at the heart of what I want my ministry to be all about…Amplifying God’s message to a world that needs to know that Jesus loves them, died for them and wants more than anything to have them on the stage with Him, so they can be loved, encouraged and challenged to turn the speakers outward in their lives to AMPLIFY HIM!

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