200 men, on their feet, shouting!

“Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” – Joshua 6:10

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout… the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. – Joshua 6:20

This memory (video, below) popped up on Facebook yesterday, and I’d love to share it with you.

Here’s the backstory: I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Disciples of Christ national men’s conference, where more than 200 men gathered from all over the United States for a weekend of fellowship, worship, mutual encouragement, service, and inspiration.

The setting was Bethany College in West Virginia, and that Saturday evening we filled the historic chapel. It was – as Rebekah would say – “chillybumpish” just to be there, in that space, with so many faithful disciples.

One of the things I like to do is to remind people that the scriptures are packed full with powerful stories. Too many read the Bible from the pulpit as if it were delicate and might break if they put any expression in their voices! It is not a dirge, it is the living word of God!

Also, when speaking, I like to get the audience involved. So this time, early on, I shared a scripture reading and invited the men to play a role. The sound quality of this video makes it difficult to tell, but this is the story of Joshua, when he instructed the Children of Israel, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” (Joshua 6:10)

“I wonder,” I asked the men ahead of time, “what exactly did they shout?” We talked about some possibilities, such as “Geronimo!” or “Woohoo!” or “We’re number one!” But we settled on, “This day belongs to the Lord!”

I had them practice until they understood that if the shout was to work then it wouldn’t be, “this day belongs to the Lord,” or even, “THIS DAY BELONGS TO THE LORD!” so much as, “THIS DAY BELONGS TO THE LORD!!!” But in some garish 62-point in-your-face font!

So we came to that portion of the scripture (verse 20), and I read (loudly), “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men GAVE A LOUD SHOUT…” I paused, but I didn’t have to pause long…

And there it was, the sound of 200-plus men jumping to their feet with enthusiasm and shouting, “THIS DAY BELONGS TO THE LORD!!!” I’ve got to tell you, it was music to my ears.

“So let’s all go from this place,” I said – looking at all the open faces and shining eyes and spirits aflame, “and go home to our local faith communities, and let’s take our city for love and for goodness and for light!”

Day by day
Day by day
Oh, Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

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