Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finding Jesus in California

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Good morning!

I am forever amazed at how the Lord can take a willing heart to move mountains for His kingdom work. Yesterday, Jeff and I did a little church-hopping. We started our day, wanting to sit in two different worship environments – we were actually able to experience three different settings. We drove about three hundred miles round trip, give or take one hundred miles of turning around and back tracking. Jeff is a great driver; yet both of us are directionally challenged. I think Satan was playing with Jeff’s Global Positioning System, because we couldn’t pick up a satellite signal to guide us. We saw a lot of California that we probably wouldn’t have seen had we not gotten turned around a few times. My vision will not allow me to read maps in the car. I make a lousy co-pilot. Jeff learned how to make a Californian u-turn and he is really good at it! We got honked at several times. I think we fit in well here!

Our first stop was the Trinity Broadcasting Network in Santa Ana. At the Santa Ana studio, we were dismayed to not find an open door. A staff employee watched us from her car, as she sipped an energy drink during her lunch break. When she saw us trying to get inside, she got out of her automobile and offered to lend us a hand. She explained that this facility was not open to the public. She provided us with a map to the Costa Mesa sight and encouraged us to go there. I am so glad we did. We were able to take a tour of their building, and sit in the studio where Praise the Lord is filmed every Thursday evening. We enjoyed a brief video explaining how a dream which began in 1973 had grown into a worldwide presence through satellite technology. I was especially interested in their prayer room, where thousands of requests lay on velvety cushions. Anyone can go and spend a few minutes or several hours, praying over these requests. When it comes to prayer rooms, this space is one of the largest and most beautifully appointed I have ever seen. We spent several hours at TBN, asking questions and touring the facility. The building structure reminded me of a Greek Orthodox Church, with hand-painted murals overhead and golden pillars on every level. The roof is a colorful rotunda, with angels and the risen Christ painted in the round. On the third level of the facility, there is a display of the many costumes used to film “One Night with the King.” The garden area was breathtaking. Statuary and running fountains were nestled between the ornamental topiary and rose bushes.

From there, we made our way to the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. We snapped pictures from the outside of the building. We were surprised at the location of this church. It was not at all situated where we thought it might be. The grounds are meticulously kept. We watched in wonder as people parked their automobiles and hooked up to open air microphones, so they could worship from their comfort of their vehicles. I’ve always considered my automobile to be a worship center, but this takes it to the extreme. Drive-in worship and go! If I were going to drive all the way to the Crystal Cathedral to worship, I don’t think I would want to sit my car. I’d probably park it and walk inside - but that’s just me.

It took forever to find Saddleback Community Church. Thank goodness they offer two evening worship services. We were late for the 4:30 service, so we stayed through and caught the first part of the 6:30 service. We were determined to get there, even if we had to drive around the Southern California foothills all night. This was definitely a church worth finding. Saddleback sits on a hill overlooking Lake Forest. They own 120 acres and the site is undergoing construction. We could hear the preaching over an open-air microphone as we walked toward the worship center. There were hundreds of families sitting outside under umbrella tables holding young children, having a snack and listening to the sermon broadcast in the open air. Inside, there were thousands of people, marking their Bibles and taking copious notes on the sermon outline provided in their worship bulletin. The collection of tithes and offerings resembled of passing the loaves and fishes around. Everyone was getting fed there, and as the baskets returned full to the brim, I could only imagine that was what it was like when Jesus fed the masses on the foothills surrounding the Sea of Galilee. Worshiping at Saddleback was an awesome experience.

We saw three very unique ministries in a circumference of only thirty miles, helping grow disciples of Jesus Christ in unique and varied settings. It is a confirmation in my spirit to see what God can do with a willing heart - someone who loves the Lord and desires nothing more than to serve them with their life. We are all on a journey. No matter where we live, or what we do, every child is a child created by the hand of God and there is a purpose and plan for every human heart. I rejoice with the ongoing ministries of my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and I praise God for their amazing communities of faith where change occurs, one heart at a time.

We are coming home today. As we prepare to fly across the desert, we leave here thanking God for the faithful Christians who touched our lives in Southern California this week. The journey home is always sweeter when we know who we are coming home to. May we enjoy the abundant life, as we celebrate the power and presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is everywhere. He walks with us each and every day, even to the end of the age.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: Jesus to open your eyes to the faithful witness of our Christian brothers and sisters. They are everywhere! Check it out for yourself. If you’re ever in St. Charles, Missouri, come see us at Faith Church. Our hearts, our minds, and our doors are always open, and we can’t wait to meet you!
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
All rights reserved
Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.