Yesterday I visited a church that was bold in every wonderful way imaginable. Everyone who noticed I was a visitor went out of their way to greet me. I can promise you it takes boldness to welcome me to a new church. I prefer to slip in quietly and not be noticed. I know I am not easy to approach when I am trying to hide out in a new church. People at this church approached me anyway.
The pastor walked boldly over to me right before the service started, thrust out his hand, and said, “Who invited you here?” Most pastors I have seen before services are too preoccupied to notice a newcomer.
“God,” I replied without hesitation. “And when God asks, I say yes.”
The worship team boldly sang and moved to the music with loud, joyful, hearts of uninhibited praise.
The pastor’s preaching was bold beyond description. He flat out announced he was certain he would offend us with his message, and he challenged and confronted us with words that I have heard few preachers have the courage to speak to a congregation.
“What mark will you leave?” he spoke from the pulpit. “What mark do you leave when you exit a room? Finish a job? Do you leave the mark of Christ?” he essentially asked.
But that was nothing compared with his finish. “I know this will offend you, but I need to ask it. And I want you to come to the front of the church. And do not leave until the Lord finishes speaking to you.”
I had already planned to leave – early. But I was riveted first to my seat, then led by the Lord to the front of the church – against my flesh’s desire to scram.
I do not recall the exact questions, but the message was like this. “When you come home from work, does your family run the other way? Do your children hide when they know you’re on the way? Do people not want to be around you? Do they say, oh, here he comes again? Do they see the love of Jesus, or do they see no love at all? What mark are you leaving on the world?”
He asked question after question, the Lord’s message through him convicting even the hardest of hearts.
The church I visited was not just a bold church; it was a church bold in love. Everything spoken was shared with the love of Christ. But just like Jesus was at times, the words of love were also tough – and questioning: Are we leaving the mark of Christ, or the mark of the enemy or the flesh?
God was not finished with me yet. I really do not remember the details. The words the pastor spoke as I stood at the front of the church rolled out the red carpet for the Holy Spirit to convict me of unrepented sin. And I repented.
As I prayed, the Lord sent a woman who knew my name. I never opened my eyes to look at her. I supposed it was the same bold woman from the beginning of the service whom I had not too warmly met when I was trying to go unnoticed as a visitor in my seat.
She prayed loudly, unleashed, unheld back, unrestrained, dedicated fully to the Lord’s call inside her heart to intercede for me, crying out ever so boldly to Him on my behalf. She knew things about me she could not know; only the Lord would know. He told her. And she prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Totally boldly.
And I sobbed. I do not remember all of her prayers; there were many. But I do recall this.
“Give Lara boldness,” the woman said in regards to a situation in my life.
Little did she know how much the Lord has already given me when it comes to my passion for Him. Clearly the Lord wants me to have more – and He shall have exactly this. Boldness in the Lord. For Him.
How about you?
Are you bold for Jesus Christ?
“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word…And the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31 KJV).”