I arrived at the building and opened the front door and immediately smelled it. Then I stepped into the worship area. And viewed Lake Soul Rio. Oh, my. That’s all I could think. All I could say. Instantly I knew a couple of hours, a shop vac and a plumber’s snake would not make this situation all better. I called the pastor and told him I thought we’d be having service the next day in the parking lot. Since I’m prone to exaggerate, he advised me he was on his way in and not to jump to any conclusions. He got there about 15 minutes later. About 10 minutes after that, he headed out the door and down the strip mall to see if anyone else was experiencing anything like this. And stopped at the bar at the end of the row and visited with the manager and
Jesus was on tap yesterday at Slate Street Billiards and Sports Bar. We were able to drink the living water and hunger and thirst no more. As I looked around our little corner of the room, caught up in singing How Great is Our God, I was able to see with fresh, Jesus-tinted glasses, that WE are the church. WE are to be the LIGHT. It’s not the building. It’s not the programs. It’s in not the numbers (although we had a big crowd, especially for a holiday weekend). This is not a new concept for me. After all, we were a portable church until last November. But the Holy Spirit was moving through us with such power, I was taken by surprise by the authentic outpouring or worship and praise. It was a little surreal seeing people lifting their hands in praise with a Budweiser Genuine Draft sign glowing right behind them. And yet, oh, so fitting. Jesus didn’t hang out with all the good guys, all the time. He was with the scorned. He was with the lepers. He was with the Ones that everyone else looked down on and sat in righteous judgment over. There was a sense of novelty, and many of the folks had never set foot in a bar. After all, underneath it all, we are Baptists. It’s good to get shaken (and stirred—couldn’t resist) out of our ‘holy huddle.’ There were some that were a little shell-shocked. Some that thought it was pretty funny. Some that I could tell felt like they were being slightly naughty, just by being in a bar. And some probably had a problem with it. But in the end, Jesus was ever-faithful. Ever-present. He promises to meet us right where we are. And He did. And the Holy Spirit dwelt among us.
Now the restoration begins. They called it ‘blackwater,’ and I’m told it’s a pretty serious bio-hazard. I threw away the shoes I was wearing on Saturday. And scrubbed my entire body repeatedly with Purell. God will have His glory through this. His name will be blessed and His love endures forever. If we’re in a temple, if we’re in a park, if we’re in a tent, even if we’re in a bar. He’s right there with us.