August 5th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »
Here is an excellent article written by our Harvest Crusade director,John Collins about the upcoming SoCal Harvest.
It’s like a hurricane. A holy hurricane.
That might be the best description I can give for the Harvest Crusade. As we prepare for next week’s 25th annual crusade in Anaheim, we are at that this moment in the calm before the storm.
Like hurricanes, crusades don’t show up unannounced. As a hurricane gathers steam and energy, it moves seemingly slowly across the water while people on shore gather news of its direction, their eyes on the horizon. They are alerted through radio and television. They busily move possessions to higher ground. They board up windows, secure doors, stack sandbags, and then they pray. Something big and ominous is on its way.
Crusades are like that. For weeks in advance, churches mobilize their people. Christians busy themselves and alert their neighbors by handing out flyers, displaying bumper stickers, putting up posters and lawn signs. Billboards are hung. Radio and television announce its coming. And Christians pray! Something big is on the horizon.
Hurricanes grab the attention of first responders too. They anticipate that there will be injuries and rescues—even life-threatening rescues will be necessary. They prepare food and water and distribution centers. They mobilize an army of volunteers, people who are ready to assist with the hurting and the homeless.
Crusades are like that! Before a crusade, churches are preparing volunteers to handle the crowds and to provide a safe environment where the message can be clearly heard. Follow-up workers from churches all around the area are trained and equipped to assist the people who have made a life-changing decision to follow Christ. They are there to bandage the wounds of those who’ve been injured by sin, and counsel those who have found the healing touch of Christ.
It’s also a fact that hurricanes do tremendous amounts of damage. A typical hurricane can have winds up to 150 miles per hour, while some have been known to exceed 200. At that speed, trees are torn from the earth, homes are lifted from their foundation, cars and trucks can be tossed around like children’s toys. And in the middle of those furious winds swirling round the eye of the storm, there is an unusual peace and tranquility.
Such is the message of the gospel. It is furious and it is offending. It rips the falsehood off people’s lives and leaves them bare and stripped of excuse. The winds of forgiveness upend the arguments of the wise. The love of Christ shakes the foundations of the most ardent sinner and tosses his arguments around as if they were rag dolls.
They say a hurricane, if you’re in its path, comes upon you with the sound of a freight train. It is deafening. Those in its path are helpless to withstand its power. One can only seek shelter and cower under the power of that which is so big it seems unearthly.
People have said that about the gospel too. C.S. Lewis called it “the hound of heaven.” It was the unrelenting force of truth bearing down upon his soul that left him saying, “I was the most reluctant convert in all England.” Like a hurricane, the gospel sweeps through the crowd at Anaheim Stadium, enveloping all who hear the message of the evangelist, Greg Laurie. It is a faint call that begins with a whisper as people find their seats and listen to the sounds of the church in fellowship. The clapping of hands and the stomping of feet to the beat of worship and praise becomes a rumble as the sky darkens and the message approaches.
Then, from the pages of Scripture comes thunderous truth. All sounds are drowned out. A penetrating voice from the center of the podium is synchronized with the deafening sound of truth. As the message sweeps over the audience, the winds of the Spirit begin to dishevel lives and rend hearts. The foolishness of the message preached grows to gale force; it is louder than a freight train. Submission alone draws the penitent into the Eye of the storm, and once there, there is peace.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, people are stunned at the devastation. All around, things are broken. And yet, in odd twists of fate, certain buildings stand unfazed, unharmed, though not untouched, by the howling winds.
So, too, the gospel. Those who stood defiantly in its path are shattered. Those who yielded to its power are broken, and yet made whole. Follow-up workers remain strong, untouched, canvassing the field for those who have responded to an invitation to receive Christ. Tears of repentance flow while lives are being reconstructed on a foundation that will withstand future storms.
Yes, a Harvest hurricane is coming. It’s about the size of man’s hand on the horizon. It will be here soon. Are you ready?