The refrain rolled over the congregation in waves of joy.
“Glory to God!”
The young man held out his arms to embrace his congregation.
“Good morning, church!”
A dozen members raised their voices above the applause to return his greeting.
Pastor Sam Wilson still baffled me. His church met in a hired hall and included members who seemed more at home in a bar than a house of worship. Yet when he preached he spoke with a wisdom that moved me deeply.
“It’s time for the sermon.”
With perfect timing a picture of a Roman soldier appeared on the screen.
“We have been studying the Christian Armour and in my opinion each item is a decision to live in victory.”
Suddenly a bag of candy appeared in his hand.
“Let’s have a pop quiz. The belt of truth is a decision to get out of the critic’s chair and into the fight.”
A number of heads nodded with agreement.
“Who can remember the breastplate of righteousness?”
Several hands went up and a young girl called out, “Upset!”
“Very good; the breastplate is a decision to reject being upset by the devil’s accusations.” The first of many rewards went sailing over our heads to find its mark.
I studied my notes. The helmet of salvation was a decision to reject confusion. The shoes were a decision to reject failure. The shield was a decision to reject fear. Finally, the sword was a decision to reject enslavement.
I closed my notebook and looked up with anticipation. Pastor Sam Wilson was standing completely still and appeared perplexed.
“This is a church,” he stated the obvious. “Every day you good people face the most outrageous attacks from the Evil One.”
The pastor walked from one end of the stage to the other in deep thought.
“I believe there are people here who could teach me a thing or two.”
Stretching out his hand in supplication he spoke very loudly.
“Does anyone wish to share something?”
Almost immediately a hand went up and a young lady made her way to the stage.
“Good morning, my name is Wendy.”
A dozen voices responded, “Good morning, Wendy.”
Wendy wrung her hands anxiously as she recited her story.
“Some of you know that I’m a cleaner who works nights at Mercy,” she spoke quickly. “On Wednesday night the police were called up to the hospital after a patient complained that I stole six $1 coins from her side table.”
The young lady took a deep breath and continued.
“While I was sitting in my manager’s office I kept remembering what Pastor told us. ‘Don’t let the devil steal your joy!’”
All around me heads were nodding.
“So I kept praying,'Lord, I know you’re in control. I know you’re on my side.'” The young lady choked with emotion. “I sat in that office all alone for half an hour. Then the police came and told me they found the old lady’s daughter and she had taken the coins for safe keeping.”
“Praise God,” Pastor Sam Wilson led his congregation in a round of applause.
This was now my fourth visit to Calvary Chapel. These people had something, I believed. But it was still a mystery to me. What I couldn’t deny was that these Christians were living out their faith.
Suddenly the screen changed with a new image. I wrote down the words.
“Philippians 4:4-7 God’s mathematics.
Praise + Poise + Prayer = Peace that will guard your hearts and minds.”
The word PEACE captured my imagination. I must listen carefully, I mused. The pastor started to speak and once again I found my hanging on to every word.
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