Altar Call Ė Opelika-Auburn News
November 25, 2001
Last Sunday was a moving day. Thousands of meteors were moving overhead, lighting up the moonless sky before dawn. Dozens of people were moving about, arriving at Trinity church before daylight as though it was Easter Sunday. City police were moving, re-directing traffic.
Opelika Light and Power workers were moving, taking down wires and putting them back up as two powerful trucks slowly moved an unusually heavy load eastward on Second Avenue. Such a sight most of us do not expect ever to see again.
Sunday reminded me that "moving" is Godís trademark. Nowhere does the Bible tell us that God sits and stares. Instead the first two verses of Genesis introduce us to a God who created the heavens and the earth by "moving over the face of the waters." Then throughout the Bible we find God moving nations, moving men and women to obey him, and moving disciples of his Son to go all over the world sharing the good news.
Jesus taught his disciples to let God give them the faith "to move mountains." So for two thousand years Godís people have dared to believe that no problem is too big for God. In the words of Jesus, "nothing is impossible with God."
In worship it is not unusual for hardened hearts to be so moved by the Spirit of God that those hearts are transformed and the grip of stubbornness broken. God has a way of moving us to tears of repentance, then to tears of joy.
We are not embarrassed to say that we are moved with compassion when we become aware of the great pain and distress of others. Such was our experience recently when thousands suffered and died at the hands of terrorists on September 11.
When people criticize us and withdraw their approval, we learn that we must move on. We cannot afford to sit around and wallow in self-pity. So we discover one of the great principles of living well is to do the best we can and leave the rest to God. We learn that we must not be moved too much by either the criticism or the praise of others. What is true is what matters, and God knows what is true.
My heart was more deeply moved by the closing event of last Sunday than by anything else that occurred that day. About a thousand of us almost filled up the Performing Arts Center at Opelika High School for a Community Thanksgiving Service. While the focus of many people was still on the unfortunate racist stunt of a few Auburn University students, hundreds of blacks and whites, from many different churches, shared a deeply moving worship experience at the high school.
We were moved by inspiring music offered by Ovations of OHS and by the mass choir of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church. While white folks find it difficult to sing and move at the same time, black folks must move when they sing. I know that when the Greater Peace Choir starts moving and singing, God moves me mightily! Sometimes I get so excited that I actually tap my foot!
What must surely please God, of course, is for people of diversity to find ways to move forward in unity and love, working together for the common good. God moves our hearts so that we may move our hands to do his will.
The preacher for the hour was Steve Scoggins, the new pastor at First Baptist in Opelika. What a guy! Steve has all of his fellow pastors struggling with envy. Though he has the biggest church in town, his folks are talking about enlarging it! Some Methodist churches wonít even put the pastorís name on a sign out front, and Steve has his name on huge billboards all over town.
After hearing Steve preach Sunday night, I think I know why his pews are full every Sunday morning as well as Sunday night. Dare I say it -- his preaching moves the heart! Put moving preaching and moving music together, and the result is worship where the Spirit of God can move the hearts of people! That is what happened to us Sunday night as Brother Steve proclaimed the word in power. I drove away from the high school thankful that 13 years ago the Lord moved me to Opelika.
So a week later, with a grateful heart, I give thanks for a God who moves!