MEN WHO DREAM

I've never really understood whether God chooses men who dream or if He gives dreams to the men He chooses. I do know that much of what has been done for the glory of God was born of dreams.” ---Ron Boutwell, 1978

Thursday, March 22, 2018

AND THE ARMY OF THE LORD HOLDS FORTH! #25


(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, June, 1989)

If you remember, we have been sharing with you what we believe have been some answers to a simple and beautiful prayer of the heart prayed by Larry Sneed. That prayer, “Lord, send them an army . . .” was prayed over four years ago, yet, at Stained Glass Theatre, we still feel and see the results of that prayer every day. Thank you again, Larry, for your heart and spirit.

Since that prayer, so many Spirit-filled, committed men, women, young people, boys, and girls have joined ranks with SGT to form a mighty army of volunteers to march shoulder to shoulder in carrying the growing load of a ministry the Lord has raised up. Some have served for a few months and some have served for years, but all have blessed the ministry.

It might surprise many to know just how many people and how many “man-hours” are required in order to produce one show each season—and remember, we mount five shows a season. On the average, it takes 25 to 35 people per show. This includes cast, director, writer, light and sound crew, stage and prop crew, costume and makeup workers, and individuals who perform pre-show entertainment. To have so many who come and work what is the equivalent to a second job is nothing less than a miracle of God. This is even more astounding when you consider that no one gets paid. That’s right, hundreds—nay, two thousand plus—“man-hours” volunteered, not once, but five times a year. Yes, that is indeed a miracle of God. Everyone serves because they want to serve the Lord and they believe that SGT is a ministry of God. They have to believe that SGT is a work of the Lord, or else they would not be working their hearts out week after week. No one would work that hard just to serve a work of man.

As with most anything, I guess, there are those who seem to be in positions where they receive recognition, while there are those who serve with equal loyalty, diligence, and love who often go unnoticed. This does not seem exactly just. So let us take time now to focus on those unsung heroes who work behind the scenes and hardly ever get the credit they deserve. I dare not start to name names, for there have been, and are now, so many it would not be practical. Even so, names or not, these individuals should know that their faithful work is greatly appreciated.

For certain, those who are up on stage in the spotlight deserve the recognition, applause, and words of praise which come to them. They have faithfully worked many hours learning lines (for major roles, that is not an easy feat), spent, long days and nights in rehearsals, and committed almost three months of their time from beginning rehearsals until final performance. There is no doubt that these faithful performers deserve our respect and gratitude; however, we must also never forget that there could be no show without the dozen or so, just as faithful, individuals who build the set, make the costumes, run the lights and sound, sell the tickets, seat the audience, sell the concessions, or park the cars These dedicated heroes deserve our hearts perhaps even more than the performers, for they do their work quietly behind the scenes. They aren’t motivated by the glare of the spotlight or the roar of the crowd. They don’t leave the theatre each night with the memory of applause still fresh on their ears. Nor is their weariness of a long evening of work eased by the many “thank yous” and compliments they have received; for, more likely than not, they will have heard none. When I used the term “dedicated heroes,” I was not using the term lightly. They are heroes—the unsung heroes of God’s army. SGT could not function without them. The ministry would not be possible without them. They are the backbone of all we do. So we want to say thank you to all who serve SGT behind the scenes. You work so hard and ask so little. You are very special to us. We love you and we praise God for each and every precious servant He has sent to us. Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah!

COMING NEXT: SEASON OF WARFARE
The naming of a season is a very important and sacred decision for SGT. It captures the spirit and goals of the season. So why a “Season of Warfare”?

Friday, November 10, 2017

ALTARS OF REMEMBRANCE #24

ALTARS OF REMEMBRANCE
(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, February, 1989)

When I sit down each month to write this article, I think of the title and ponder and pray. I seek God's leadership in deciding if this is the time for looking forward or glancing back. With all of the exciting things that are happening in our new building and with all the exciting plans for the future, it might seem to be a good time to let you look forward with us and dream a bit. However, at the moment, my heart is filled with the blessed memories of God's overwhelming goodness—of the years of blessing and miracles that have brought us to such a wonderful time. I walk through our beautiful building and my heart fills to overflowing. It is still hard for me to believe that it is ours. I pause often to silently praise God for such a miracle. And I also pray that we will never take God's blessings on this ministry for granted.

One of the interesting things that has struck me over the past couple of years as I have read through the Old Testament is how often God did such MIGHTY MIRACLES for the children of Israel and how often and quickly they seemed to forget. Perhaps that is why God would often have the people pile up stones and make an altar or place of remembrance—so they wouldn't forget. Yet it seems that the people did forget and soon fell away to worshiping other gods and/or complaining that Jehovah hadn't done anything for them. How ungrateful! How selfish! You would think those people would never forget miracles like pillars of fire, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna, water from rocks, the parting of the Jordan, the walls of Jericho, a hundred and thirty thousand Midianites destroyed by Gideon and three hundred men, etc. How could they forget?!

For me, one of the blessings of reading in the Old Testament is that the pattern of human nature is so easily discernable. We see how man tends to make the same mistakes over and over. And even if we learn from our mistakes and make changes, it seems that eventually we forget and return to our old ways. Yes, it seems that we never learn. But my prayer for Stained Glass Theatre is that we can beat the odds, that we will not be just like the children of Israel and soon forget all of the MIGHTY MIRACLES God has poured out on us—from the time we started until now. God has truly done some wonderful things in and for this ministry—things we should never forget or become "blasé" about.

I know that we don't pile stones into monuments any more, but if we did, we could fill our parking lot with stone reminders of God's grace upon us. That might not be practical today; however, we still need to be reminded from time to time of some of the exciting ways God has blessed us. So remember with me for a moment, and let's praise our Lord for His lovingkindness. Remember when:
         —we had no building and no money and GOD touched the heart of a restaurant owner to let us begin our ministry using the basement of his restaurant RENT FREE—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!
         —we needed $500 to pay bills and open our next show and GOD touched a man and wife from Fort Leonard Wood to give us FIVE ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!
         —we needed $1,000 for a new light board and GOD provided in JUST TWO WEEKS—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!

There have been so many other needs met in ways that the hand of God is the only way to explain them. Yes, miracles—miracles that need to be remembered, never forgotten. And how can we ever forget our need for $60,000 to purchase our "Promised Land" debt free? HALLELUJAH! GOD DID IT! And we do remember! In our minds and in our hearts we pile up stones to remind us of Your goodness—Your miracles! Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah!

COMING NEXT: AND THE ARMY OF THE LORD HOLDS FORTH!
Thank you, Larry Sneed, for your "beautiful prayer of the heart" prayed in 1985. It is still bearing fruit 32 years later!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

OPENING NIGHT IN OUR “PROMISED LAND” #23

(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, December, 1988.)

It was 7:20 p.m., ten minutes before curtain. A little group of actors and their director joined hands in a circle and bowed their heads for prayer in the upstairs makeup room. It was a scene or moment not unlike hundreds of other performance nights from the past five years. Yet this moment was different—special. Untold pain, struggle, heartache, fear, and doubt were wrapped up in that moment. Untold joy, blessing, happiness, reward, and victory were wrapped up in that moment. Untold personal sacrifices of time, finances, labor, and prayer were wrapped up in that moment. No, it was not an ordinary moment or night. It was November 25, 1988, and it was the night of the very first performance in our beautiful new building—OUR PROMISED LAND! GLORY! HALLELUJAH! WHAT A NIGHT! WHAT A MOMENT!


With heads bowed, the director tried to find words to express to the Lord our God the joy and gratefulness all were feeling in those moments. It was not easy. So many memories and emotions filled the minds. God had brought us through to the “Promised Land.” We were home—not some rented space. We were home—and it was beautiful and spacious. We were home—and it was debt free. Yes, we were HOME! Thank You, Father! Praise You, Lord!

That night, November 25, was special in so many ways. Not only was it the first performance in our new building, but it was also the first performance of a new play, CHRISTMAS AT CANDLELIGHT MISSION. It was a night that would re-unite two faithful actors and an actress (Pat Edmonds, Terry Beasley, and Denise Boutwell-Schriver) who had performed and struggled together through so many shows in those early days when we often played to five or ten people a night. “How perfect and wonderful of God,” I thought, “to bring together again these three faithful, self-sacrificing pioneers of the Stained Glass Theatre ministry for this, the first play in our new home.” This night would be different, however, from those first years of struggle. And it was a struggle, for it is very difficult to perform to five people and ninety-five empty seats—very humbling indeed. In those days, many actors came and went, but these three remained faithful through all the lean times. It had been two years since these three faithful ones had performed together, but tonight, God had brought them together again. And as I said, this night would be different. No empty theatre this night. God hadn’t brought us this far to let us down. And He didn’t. He filled the Theatre! Glory!

Yes, God did fill the Theatre that night. Those who had made reservations came. Those without reservations came. People who had never been to Stained Glass Theatre before came. In the light rain that began to fall at about seven, they came. At 7:15, we had a downpour, and still they came. It was wonderful. We had hoped to have a hundred on opening night; instead, we had 145. We had often wondered how long (six months, a year?) it would be before God would fill our new two-hundred-seat home. Praise God, He did it on the second night—TWO HUNDRED AND ONE! HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU, FATHER! Was it just to be that way for opening weekend? No. The next weekend—two hundred plus both Friday and Saturday! And as of this writing, the third weekend is sold out. GLORY! IT’S GREAT TO BE IN THE PROMISED LAND WITH GOD POURING OUT HIS BLESSING! Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah!

[NOTE: One of the shows of the Season of Victory in the "Promised Land" was A Wall of Fire, written by John Lee Welton. That show is again in the lineup for the current Season of Adventure. You can see it at Stained Glass Theatre in Ozark, Missouri, from February 23 through March 25, 2017.]

COMING NEXT: ALTARS OF REMEMBRANCE

“. . . blessed memories of God’s overwhelming goodness . . .”