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We love the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. As the football season gets underway, we are reminded of our fascination with such signs and wonders, with spectacle. Watching a game in a massive stadium pulsating with the energy of 100,000 fans makes us feel alive. We may decry the hype surrounding football—especially the Super Bowl—but nonetheless we find ourselves drawn to the bright fireworks, nervous camera work, gigantic specimens of athleticism, sexy cheerleaders, roaring crowds, and excited announcers whose voices suggest that what is going on down on the field is history-making stuff.

Naturally enough, we try to bring earthquake, wind, and fire to church. God is the god of life, after all. We should feel it, no? This, of course, is one of the draws of megachurches, which, because of their size, can do mega-things. Bumper-to-bumper cars streaming into the parking lot. People eight or ten abreast rushing to get a good seat. The voices of thousands raised in song. Lights, video, booming bass and pounding drums, projection screens making it all literally bigger than life—it all adds up to a powerful spectacle.

I, like most Americans, am a sucker for spectacle. I've gone to my share of religious extravaganzas—from Christmas programs to evangelistic crusades. I'm actually a fan of the megachurch in many, many ways. And I dare say that an Easter vigil I attend each year at my church is indeed spectacular! There is something wonderful about sitting with a large crowd of fellow believers praising God. It harkens to the kingdom of heaven, the vision of the 144,000 worshiping the Lamb (Rev. 14:1-3). What could be better than that?

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains ...
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September 2007

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