Fifty-One Verses

by DanWolgemuth on August 8, 2014

The room was filled and hearts were hungry.  Wednesday night was when young people would be invited to respond to the message of confession, grace, mercy, hope and transformation.

Ray Villegas, our YFC staff member from Harlem, was bringing the message.  Although Ray’s address was 3,000 miles from most of the kids in the room, he had connected like a trusted neighbor.

With focus Ray pointed nearly 400 of us toward 1 Samuel 17… without fanfare he began to read the story of David and Goliath.  The text had been a catalyst in Ray’s personal journey of faith and transformation.

“Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle.  And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah…”

The context of the reading was stunning and bold.  Ray was reading this historic account of the conflict between Israel and the Philistines to an audience that was largely biblically unfamiliar.  These were high school students that felt more comfortable on the roughest corner of an urban intersection than in a Sunday school classroom.

Ray read on.  Yes, he read on.  He didn’t “tell” the story, or avoid certain verses… he read.  Verse after verse after verse.  51 verses.  51!

He read with passion and power and enormous energy.  The story needed no embellishment.  Kids responded immediately and intensely with candid reactions.  They cheered and roared and clapped.  They hung on every word.  For 51 verses.

When Ray closed the story of David, he bridged to the story of the conquest of Jesus over sin.  Again, he read the Bible.  Verse after verse.  This time from the Gospels.

The intensity and clarity of his reading didn’t wane, and neither did the attention.

God moved.  His Spirit swept over the room like a powerful and unstoppable wind.

It was scripture that won the day.  God’s Word was on display without restraint.

I assure you that my heart was a part of the windswept target.

I wondered…

Have we pulled the megaphone away from the Word of God?  Are we so distracted by technology, so addicted to its appeal that we have come to believe that God’s Word needs a little help?  A YouTube video; a movie trailer; a creatively-shaped PowerPoint or Prezi?

I assure you, God isn’t scrambling to find a great AV guy.  He’s looking for men and women who are bold and brave enough to hold the microphone to the words of scripture.

Make no mistake… Ray wasn’t reading any of these verses in a monotone, inflectionless manner.  He moved, he paced, he roared and he whispered… but it was God’s words he was declaring.

The clubroom erupted in cheers of victory.  They celebrated the fact that Jesus had faced down, with undaunted courage and love, the relentless taunts and insults of Satan, just as David had bravely confronted the arrogant attack on God’s people.  VICTORY.

This was battle… and it was God’s Word that told the account of a rock that found its mark and a Savior who defeated sin.

Unvarnished and unleashed.

No props.  No pyro techniques.

An evangelist from Harlem pointed the spotlight on the Bible… and I witnessed a move of God like nothing I’ve ever seen.

God’s Word never returns empty handed.  Never.  (Isaiah 55:11)

Time to rethink my approach… time to magnify what God Himself magnifies.

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