I had the incredible privilege last weekend to teach in place of my pastor, Skip Heitzig, at Calvary of Albuquerque. It was my home church for many years, the place where I got my first job in ministry, where I learned what it meant to be a pastor, and where I grew to love coffee…so it obviously holds a dear place in my heart.
I taught a message from Joshua 6 about Israel as they marched around Jericho, called “When A Battle Isn’t A Battle.” The driving point was simple: a battle isn’t a battle when God has already determined the outcome. That’s exactly what He had done with Israel and its exactly what He’s done with us. The cross and the empty tomb stand as perpetual reminders that we fight from victory, not for victory!
In the final 2 services, I felt a heavy desire from the Lord to give an invitation to those who needed to commit their lives to Jesus. Calvary is a huge campus, so in addition to the 2,000+ people jammed in the sanctuary, there were hundreds of people in the overflow building behind us, plus many in the courtyard outside, in the balcony, as well as watching online and listening on the radio. I called people to come from wherever they were to join us in the sanctuary to publicly commit their lives to Jesus. People streamed down the aisles at both services, and some even came in the back doors as pastors ushered them in from elsewhere. It was an incredible sight.
This is where Bella comes in…
Apparently a lady who had been in the courtyard at the 11:15 service had also brought her dog, Bella. When I gave the invitation to come forward, she was so impacted by God’s pull on her heart, that she found the nearest pastor (in this case, Jesse Lusko), and requested a quick dog-sitting favor. Bella’s master wanted to meet her Master!
So of course Jesse obliged, and hung out with Bella, while her owner (I don’t know her name) walked into the main building, in tears, to commit her life to Christ!
Bella’s owner was just 1 of 35 people that weekend that made decisions to follow Jesus! It was incredible! I loved seeing people of all ages and ethnicities stream down the aisles. There was even a whole family that came forward. I later got a Facebook message from a girl who had brought a friend with her that she had been sharing the Gospel with for a long time. It was his first time to come to church with her, and it will hopefully be the first of many. There he was, covered in tattoos, with tears running down his cheeks. There’s something so great about tough guys crying as they realize their need for salvation!
Over all, it was an incredible weekend. I got to hang out with my dad a lot, which was great. I saw lots of old friends, and as always, was highly encouraged to see many of my former middle school students who are now serving the Lord, leading small groups, leading worship, and much more. I can truly echo John’s words when he said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).
If you want to watch the message, click HERE.
Also, as a little bonus, a good friend of mine, Pastor Chris Norman, from Kingsfield Church, taught for me at Awaken. You’ll definitely want to watch his message by clicking HERE.