USA– Ocean Grove, New Jersey – July 30, 2011
Big Splash 2011 Day Two continued with remarkable energy. Many events presented simultaneously offered event goers the opportunity to enjoy the best in speakers, music, and even athletic competition for a great cause.
The “Big Splash Dash” 5k race began just as Pastor Lloyd Pulley of Calvary Chapel, Old Bridge, was commencing his talk on the temptation of David and how this message is just as relevant- if not more- now as it was in Biblical days.
Dealing with the flesh was the topic that Dr. David Jeremiah addressed in his sermon the prior evening in the Great Auditorium. Jeremiah’s topic had actually been “How to Survive as a Christian in a Chaotic World.” Recalling that the Lord had sent a storm to add some “drama” to the evening’s worship service, Chris Ann Waters, a key organizer of the Will Graham Jersey Shore Celebration, commented that the sudden heavy rain and wind that swirled around the Great Auditorium was “a statement about how chaotic the world is all around us.” I would add, given the fact that we all continued singing, despite the minor water infiltration, darkness and power outage, that it was a direct message to remind us how, keeping our eyes continually on the Lord, we can not only survive this world when those things we rely upon are absent- end times or not- but also continue to thrive.
How to manage our lives in this unGodly world was a topic picked up again Day Two by Pastor Pulley. Speaking from 2 Samuel 10 and 11, he offered tips for managing the travails of dealing with the flesh in our every day life:
- Realize and remember who we are as Christians. We’re to be “ambassadors,” in this world for a short while. We need to “give what we cannot keep in order to obtain what we cannot lose." Well said.
- Know that we must get ruthless with our flesh. If our eye causes us to sin, we really do need to “pluck it out," metaphorically, sure. We need to make no provision for sin’s entry. (The audience, of course, was recalling Dr. Jeremiah’s example of the man who said he would not stop at the local Dunkin’ Donuts and overindulge unless a parking spot became available for him at the very front of the shop- so he circled eight times just to “double confirm” he needed to forego a treat... ‘Nuff said.)
- It’s absolutely, positively necessary to renew our minds in order to be transformed. Romans 12:2 states this very clearly: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)
- We need to remember to rely on God's grace... once again, 'nuff said!
Pastor Pulley’s simple message on David is this: Keep busy! In Pulley’s words, “SOME temptation comes to those who are busy, but ALL temptation comes to those who are idle. (Sure, remember that old saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop?" Big truth in that!) We’re encouraged to take the initiative and volunteer for activities in service that force us to commit our time.
Following Pastor Lloyd in the Bishop Janes Tabernacle were Bishop Roderick Caesar (Full Gospel Hour), Pastor Charlie Rizzo(Let It Grow), Gary Selman & Jonathan Cahn (Two Nice Jewish Boys), Pastor Lester Figueroa (Calvary Assembly of God), and Pastor Jim Keavney, (Changed by Love). Pastor Jim Keavney revisited in his sermon the theme of the weakness of the flesh, and echoed the importance of Christian responsibility.
“Christians need to ‘listen up’ to the message,” Keavney exhorted, citing Galations 5:7: “You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?” (NRSV) Keavney offered the three responsibilities we have to the gospel:
1. We need to be responsible to restore the fallen;
2. We need be mindful to bear the burdens of others; and
3. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, citing Galatians 6:5, “For all must carry their own loads…” Keavney used the task of carrying a casket as an example of a "burden" that requires more than one person, carrying/wearing a backpack as an example of carrying our own "load."
The Big Splash Dash 5k race having finished shortly after Pulley’s presentation, race award winners were announced. Awards were given to the top 3 overall male/female participants, and age group medals for 7 years to 70+ (10 year age groups). Information about winners can be obtained at the race site: http://summerbigsplash.com/#/5k-run/race-details.
Pleased with the participation and amazed at some of the running times, especially that of an “older runner” (a fabulous 29-minute time), Salvation Army coordinator Major James Furman remarked, “Twenty-nine minutes? It takes me that long to eat breakfast… Wow, that’s great.” Yes, the winners’ times were great- and so was the participation by so many people from such diverse age groups.
Under ambassadorship of on-air personality Kevin Cottrell and programming manager Peter Thiele, Radio Station WMCA 570 AM provided some amazing musical performances in their Honda-sponsord Beach Pavilion entertainment venue. Unlike with the speakers scheduled to appear at the Bishop Janes Tabernacle, only a prospective performance list was available. As event coordinator Thiele described it, “This part is always very casual. Almost everyone comes from (New York City) and getting to the Jersey Shore on a weekend is always madcap. So we never know the final schedule- but everyone always shows up at some point.” And what great delight for the ears- and the spirit- on a breezy afternoon at the beach! The Christ Tabernacle Singers brought joy with their gospel prayer and amazing solo portions in their presentation of Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. They turned the Pavilion into a sanctuary, then turned traditional praise music on its head with their booty-shaking It Ain’t Over and The Presence of the Lord is Here, and than again with a soul-stirring closing Prayer in the Desert.
The group Renewal, a mainstream, Christian cross-over group, offered particularly riveting versions of Take Me to the River, People Get Ready, and What’s Goin’ On. It’s obvious the audience was digging them, too, because an awful lot of folks were shifting side to side on their benches with their friends.
Renewal, under the guidance of Annette Genovese, who is the former music leader at Maranatha Church of the Nazarene, and music producer Rich Tozzoli (who plays guitar, bass and does programming), has been performing for about two years. The group is comprised of Genovese and Tozzoli, Adrienne Fabio (back-up vocals), Hank Scapra on bass, and pastor Chuck Cordino from Church of the Nazarene on drums. Yet again that we are a talented group of folk who live in this world while not being of it, after Pastor Chuck retired his drum sticks for the day, he helped with the late afternoon ocean baptisms.
“We’re all a mess, but we’re a beautiful mess to the Lord, amen?” Genovese offered the crowd. “My goal,” she told me, “is to minister to people who are not saved and just do really good music. Richie is a Grammy Nominated music producer and TV composer. I’d put my music aside for a while, then I got my life together, met Rich. He came to me one day at our gym and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a recording that I’d like you to do some background on.’ We did background on Dave Murphy’s album, and it was produced in Rich’s studio.”
The group was born shortly thereafter, and the rest is history. The best way to describe their style? Night club stealth evangelistic. Gotta admit that I’m a sucker for that latter aspect, and I can tell you this, their original single Nothing Without Love is definitely worth checking out on their demo CD. It’s a catchy tune- memorable lyrics with a melody and beat that are contagious- and an original from Genovese and Tozzoli.
Another great WMCA/Honda Music Pavilion treat was the Craig Crawford Players. Crawford’s smooth jazz sound was perfect in tandem with praise and better than a cool sweet tea on a hot summer afternoon. Crawford’s an accomplished musician with a neat sense of humor. He eventually trotted his saxophone around the Pavilion, even sat down next to audience members, playing without missing a note.
Melissa Rippen and her band moved the audience to its feet even at mid-day with her Shout for Glory, and then invoked ecstatic praise with her rendition of Breathe and launching into prayer over the crowd. She delighted with her version of Open the Eyes of My Heart, inviting several audience members to come up and sing with her. Rippen shared her story about having been in an automobile accident and needing neck surgery. Big Splash 2011 was her first performance in over a year after having undergone physical therapy some five times per week. Her message of encouragement was well received.
“I love serving people,” Rippen told the audience. “Because Jesus came to the people that didn’t even like him. And this is the first time I’ve been able to minister to anyone. I had to learn how to walk again. Don’t become bitter,” she advised, “become better- and see God’s best. I can’t help but give God praise because I have my chidren singing with me. So I just want to encourage you: you can win as long as you keep your head to the sky,” she said, launching into song.
Raggae-style praise singer Gary Angland was next on the lineup after what might have been considered a very hard act to follow- and he filled the bill with ease. A packed house was on its feet, clapping and lifting holy hands, and swaying together with joy. What an amazing sight to see people of all races enjoined in such mighty worship.
“I know Melissa shared her testimony,” Angland told those gathered, “But you’re looking at a miracle now. How many know that God loves the sinners? Amen! You know I really never told this testimony, but before I was saved, I was on my way to a party. I was in another spirit, if you know what I mean. It was pouring down rain, and I was running across the street and a car hit me. My coat got caught under the muffler and the car dragged me three blocks, and when I came through I was in a body cast. I couldn’t walk for a whole year. But thank God I am here to tell this story. You’d have thought I’d give my life to the Lord then, right? But no. Many years passed. When I gave my life to the Lord, I thought, ‘Well, I’m safe now.’ But then I had a heart attack. Two years after that, I had a stroke, was paralyzed on the left side and couldn’t use my left leg or arm. Four years after that I was diagnosed with cancer, liver cancer. And at that time I was (a church worship leader) - I never stopped giving God the praise, but not only tha,t I went through it by myself because I didn’t tell anyone about it. But you know what? I didn’t want anyone to remind me of what I was going through…I stood on the word of God, Isaiah 53-55. I chose that, you know, ‘with his stripes,Gary is healed.’ At the end of the eighth month I started to feel like myself again. The doctors ran some more tests. They looked at the results and didn’t see any more cancer. I told them ‘because it’s the God I serve that showed up.’ So whatever you are going through, don’t stop giving praise!”
In 1995 Angland wrote the song I’m Healed as testament to his being successfully guided through so many personal valleys. He brought the house down when he performed it and asked the audience to place their hands on any part of their body which they wanted to be healed. The crowd swelled so widely around the Pavilion during his performance that it completely filled the surrounding boardwalk. A troupe of dancers arranged themselves on the boards and performed with tambourines and purple flags. Definitely a sight to see.
Pastor James MacDonald (Walk in the Word) was the highlight speaker of the day at the Pavilion. To his audience’s delight, he apologized for his cool-looking mirrored glasses (he explained they were all he’d packed for a Harley trip he had in conjunction with this one to New Jersey), but added that they were “prescription,” and that he needed them in order to see his Bible. Discussing 2 Kings 4, (the passage about the widow's olive oil), his words addressed periods of suffering, difficulty, or even corrections in our Christian walks.
“I want to talk to you about a message that has been on the radio," MacDonald opened, “but also very much on my heart. It’s about the way that God works. A lot of people are hurting because they don’t understand how God works.” Referring to Hosea 14:9, he restated that we don’t have the proper understanding.
“The Bible says 'whom the Lord loves he chastens,'” MacDonald offered. “The Bible goes on to say that, if you’re without chastening, you’re not saved. God doesn’t give his kids time outs! And God didn’t go to no psychology class.”
No stranger to suffering, MacDonald’s had prostate cancer, several major problems in his church, and even a prodigal daughter. “What I’m trying to tell you,” he said, “is that we all face times of suffering. That’s the way it really is. Nothing is over. I’ve had times when I couldn’t even form a prayer request because I didn’t know what to say.”
“And (like the woman with the jars for oil) God needs only what we have. I wish I’d understood this ten years ago. This is really a big deal: the answer to your problem is going to come from what you already have. And we need to get over this idea that (when we pray/make petition to the Lord) we’re informing God. In this story, the miracle comes through the oil. That said, we need to look at what each of us already has that will be the source of our solutions.
MacDonald sought images of provision from the crowd: loaves and fishes, Moses and his rod, water turned to wine, David with a slingshot that only needed one of its five stones in order to be successful.
"It’s important to remember," MacDonald said, “’that all Israel may know that God does not save with sword or spear, but salvation is from the Lord.’ God does it in a way that gets the glory for Him.” The provisional miracles thus arise out of something of which we have so little- just like the woman with the waning oil…. ”God always does the miracles through the little bits that we have so that no flesh will glory in it…” he clarified. “Nobody can be walking in heaven going ‘Did it. Got here. Awesome.’ The forgiveness of sins is only found in Jesus Christ. However, we need to do what we CAN do. We can’t just do nothing…”
“In this passage, the woman is asked to go out and solicit for jars. Sometimes what God asks you to do is just shut your mouth… keep quiet and wait on (Him). It’s the hardest thing to do… I had to learn this the hard way, prompting some wisdom: the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Maybe sometimes God just wants us to draw a line, a boundary, find some Godly counsel and just stick to it. God only does the part of it that we can’t do. It’s hard to find that middle place where you are doing enough but not too much.”
To guide in effectively learning to lean on God, MacDonald offered his four points to determine if we are doing too much in our lives. If any of the following statements are in operation in our lives, we need to make some changes:
-I’m pressing in a way that makes other people scratch their head;
-I feel tired and spent rather than filled with peace and contentment;
-I’m praying “how” and “when” prayers; and/or
-I’m losing my joy over the one thing God hasn’t done and failing to rejoice in all the things He has done…
“(Ours) is a God that will not share glory with another,” MacDonald reiterated. “Don’t let anything be more important than God. If you are saved and have that promise of eternal life with God, you have a lot to look forward to.”
“We all face times of desperate need,” he added. “God does only what we can’t. ‘…and there were no more vessels,’” he said, citing the original passage, “and ‘so the oil stopped flowing…’ How many people have faith enough to believe that if (the woman in the passage) had found 1 or 10 or 1,000 more jars, God would have filled them? As long as we keep bringing that which God can pour himself into, He will. When we stop bringing empty vessels, God stops pouring. But the point is that it is not an easy thing to continue to bring an empty place to God.”
But we must. “Remember,” MacDonald closed, “you have the wisdom, courage, faith, and the resource to see God’s fullest provision. You can be on the front line of seeing God’s miraculous provision in your life if you embrace a theology of suffering. I pray that God’s gonna bring some clarity. Remember this: I gotta do what I can and God will make up what I’m lacking. Keep holding up that empty place to God: He will fill what you offer in his time. Amen!
The evening entertainment in the Great Auditorium started with a performance by a comedy team and culminated in a concert by the David Crowder Band. Known for using "unusual" instruments in their music, productions have included a ukelele (Francesca Battistelli got nothin' on them...), banjo, keytar, electric violin (watch out Jean Luc Ponty), theremin, Guitar Hero controller, and even Smule's "I Am T-Pain" iPhone app. And, in keeping with the "unconventional" theme, controversial rock musician Ted Nugent made a special guest appearance on their 2007 Remedy album, on the song We Won't Be Quiet.
Press wasn’t invited to the concert- but the rendition of How He Loves (John Mark McMillan) from a seat on the sidewalk outside the Great Auditorium sounded absolutely beautiful in the still night air. And there is always the October 4th release of the group's Christmas album- Oh, For Joy- to which to look forward...
Big Splash was started by 970 WWDJ in the late 80’s as a faith based concert series. This year’s Big Splash- a free family event- was a partnership between radio station 570 WMCA and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.
Ocean Grove is a town located on the Jersey Shore about 60 miles south of New York City. According to the Ocean Grove Historical Society, in 1867, Reverend William B. Osborn, a Methodist preacher, attended a week long outdoor holiness camp meeting at Vineland, New Jersey. Osborn's enthusiasm knew no bounds and, eventually, he found an ideal camp meeting site, a secluded community on the North Jersey Coast, where spiritual and physical health could be renewed. Thus, on July 31, 1869, a group of ministers and friends camped at what is now called Founders Park and, after a candlelight prayer service, dedicated themselves to establish a permanent Christian camp meeting community called "Ocean Grove." From this simple beginning there would emerge a permanent town.
Throughout summers, Ocean Grove is packed with many events, activities and concerts: ABBA, Smokey Robinson, Amy Grant and the Newsboys to name a few. In the last few years, this pristine Victorian-esque town has garnered even more attention in the Christian contemporary music community and in evangelical outreach circles by way of hosting in May the Will Graham Jersey Shore Celebration featuring the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and music by Matthew West, the Newsboys, FLAME, and Chasen, and, in June, hosting again Bridgefest, a gathering this year of speakers from the Calvary Chapels and concerts by Dove-award winning artists such as Brandon Heath and Francesca Battistelli, and up-and-coming Downhere.
Ocean Grove is located between Bruce Springsteen's Asbury Park and Bradley Beach. The North Jersey Coast train runs from NYC, and the stop most convenient to Ocean Grove is Asbury Park. (http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/rail/R0080.pdf).
Text and photos ©2011 M. D. Caprario
M. D. Caprario is a cross-over Christian entertainment reporter and a mainstream writer and editor who works with people all over the world to help them write their stories of overcoming obstacles, coming to faith, etc. She covers for the media all things books, film, music, and entertainment, working mainly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and her childhood hometown area of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Reach her at [email protected]