Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
When does a church need Revival?
When the zeal to win lost souls seems to be at a low ebb
When the number of yearly baptisms decline
When the church members get comfortable and apathetic
When believer’s prayer lives grow anemic
When worship attendance is not as important as other outside activities
When the Holy Spirit is regulated by programs and schedules
When believers lose a hunger and thirst for the Word of God
When fellowship and interaction with other believers wanes
When we lose our focus on the Mission
When our love for Christ grows lukewarm or cold
When church members take their eyes off of God and focus on distractions
When traditions of men become more important that what “Thus sayeth the Lord”
A church is simply made up of its various members. And when the members begin to leave their first love – when other things become more important than following Jesus, it will show in our individual lives, in our families, and in our Church. If we as individuals, or collectively as a church, find ourselves in any of the former categories, then we need REVIVAL.
Traditionally in this part of the country, the term “Revival” has been synonymous with evangelistic crusades. For something or someone to be “re-vived” it had to be “vived” or alive in the first place. Revival is for the believer and collectively for the church. It is a reawakening, a spiritual refreshing, a renewing of commitment to Christ and a refocusing on the Mission. When that happens, we’ll see souls saved. We’ll spend more time in the baptismal waters. Here is the formula for true revival:
Our Sin is Exposed
Our Selfishness is Eradicated
The Saints are Edified
The Savior is Exalted
And Sinners will be Enlisted into the Kingdom of God!
My challenge to each believer who reads this article, is that we submit ourselves to God for REVIVAL. Let us start by prayer. Fervent prayer. Believing prayer. Let us come together, as a local church, preparing ourselves for God’s message as we join together as a body of believers for a Spiritual Focus Week, from October 25-28. I pray that the next 37 days will be a time when God will rain down His Holy Spirit on us and we will BE THE CHURCH as we have never been before in our entire 94 year history. God is already showing up in our worship services. Let us invite Him in to our homes and our hearts 24/7.
Who knows but that it might just spread “like fire in a broom sage field” after all?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
These are just some things I am pondering on a Tuesday morning.
It's halfway through September, and for the first time since the first cutting of the spring, I have actually been able to go more than 6 or 7 days between grass mowings. This spring and summer have seemed exceptionally wet. (I haven't checked the official precipitation records, but I know the grass has acted like it's been on steroids this year). Usually by late July or August the vegetation in my yard (I have a "yard", not a "lawn") is very dry. It is just now beginning to have that August look to it.
Today is the first anniversary of the major financial crisis that has caused my retirement fund to tank. Funny how time flies when you're having fun.
One would have had to have been vacationing in some cave with Osama Bin Laden to have missed this week end's outburst by Serena Williams over a questionable call at the U.S. Open. Bad behavior is not unique to professional athletes, but they are certainly in the spotlight and their actions are magnified by media coverage. When one of them "goes off" on an official, a fan, a coach, or a teammate it is splashed all over the print and broadcast media. Serena proved to have a world class temper to go with her tremendous talent. While watching her tirade, did it strike anyone besides me as ironic that her name is "Serena"?
Speaking of bad behavior... Kanye West and Congressman Jim Wilson showed us that entertainers and politicians can surely be boorish as well. Both have issued an apology. The House of Representatives will probably pass a resolution condemning Wilson for yelling, "You lie!" during President Obama's address to Congress. I'm not condoning Wilson's lack of decorum, but many of his hypocritical colleagues, showed the same disdain for the House Rules, when they hooted, jeered, and booed, President Bush as he delivered the State of the Union Speech. What a bunch of jerks!
My favorite college football team took a humiliating 52-10 beat down this past Saturday at the hands of the talented Hokies of Virginia Tech. We take on Bowling Green this coming Saturday. I almost dread to go. Not because of fear of another loss (although that certainly is a possibility) but because of some of the folks who sit behind me in the end zone stands. In the home opener two weeks ago, the two couples behind us were profane, rude, and from what I could tell, much more qualified to make coaching decisions than the professional staff who prowled the sidelines.
One of the guys yelled at Marshall's 6'-7" 295 lb. tackle (from a distance of 30 yards away), "You're stupid! You don't deserve to be out there! Get off the field!" I couldn't help but chuckle when my seatmate suggested that he might want to share his opinion with the young man, face to face after the game.
The two "ladies" were more obnoxious and profane than the men. By the end of the first half, I was just about ready to move when they decided they had endured enough. They informed their men they were headed back to the tailgate area where, thankfully, they remained for the remainder of the contest. One of the guys disappeared with them as well. I guess they hadn't been able to get adequately "likkered up" before the game.
That is precisely the kind of behavior that makes one hate to take his kids or grandchildren to the games. When confronted over their behavior, I have found that the attitude is usually"I paid for my ticket and I'll say what I please." That's mature. That's the kind of fans we really need.
Having grown up in church as a PK and having been a pastor, myself, for nearly four decades, I never cease to be amazed at the attitudes exhibited by some who profess to be followers of Christ. None of us are perfect. In fact we are far from it. However, the pettiness, jealousy, and fault finding that some "church folks" exhibit is just unbelievable. Now I know none of that would ever happen in my church or your church, but it does happen - and it is ugly, and far below the standard of Christlike behavior. Over the years, I have witnessed a number of "my way or the highway" attitudes expressed by disgruntled church members. How sad. It's a cancer that sucks the joy out of others, and gives the cause of Christ a black eye.
On the other side of the coin, we pastors are often guilty of wrong attitudes as well. Some pastors make the mistake of being aloof and feeling superior to the flock. Some foolishly become to close to certain members of the congregation and risk alienating other sheep. Some lose sight of the perspective that we are "under shepherds" and take on the role of CEO. For those, John Piper reminds us, "Brothers we are not professionals." Sometimes we allow ourselves to become weak spiritually as we actively minister to others, and neglect our own pursuit of intimacy with God. Sometimes we lose our tempers like Moses did with a rebellious congregation.
I've certainly made my share of mistakes and miscues. There have been a number of times I have had to repent before God over things I have said (or thought). I have also had to apologize to some of my fellow believers for hurts that I may have caused (unintentionally, but hurtful nonetheless). We pastors should always remember the words of a former fisherman, turned "shepherd" who put it this way, "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Peter 5:2-4)
Linda, along with her sister, niece, and two other lady friends are enjoying their fourth day of vacation on Topsail Island, NC. She says the weather has been beautiful and she's having a wonderful time, unwinding on the deck, enjoying the sun and sea breezes. Here's hoping for a great rest of the week for all involved. She deserves it!
Well, perhaps that's enough pondering for this morning. I do have to head for the office. Hope YOU have a great day!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Eight years ago today Americans were shocked into reality as thousands of our fellow countrymen lost their lives while going about their daily activities. The World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a field outside Shanksville, PA were the particular sites of destruction, but the anguish and the outrage were felt from coast to coast and around the world.
On that day, and for a few weeks following, we were no longer "hyphenated Americans". We were simply Americans. We were united by the common loss. We called out to God. The churches were full. We began talking and bonding with our neighbors. We gained a renewed respect for those who serve us in the Military and as first responders at home. We came together as a people against a common, faceless enemy.
We soon learned that the enemy was actually a hate filled radical Muslim group, with no regard for life or property. Their only motivation was a blind loyalty to a false religion that promised eternal life and 70 virgins to the fools who would destroy themselves while exterminating the "infidel". We were repulsed by the hate and violence. We united for a short while as a people who understood that there are those out there who hate us, for no other reason than our way of life.
Now, only eight short years later, we seem to have forgotten the many lessons learned on 9-11.
We are a nation divided. We are like a rudderless ship. We have elected executive and legislative branches of Government who seem to be focused on "Changing America". Not changing the things that may be wrong in America, but actually Changing America. Our values, our freedoms, our inalienable rights.
I fear a government that is progressively inserting itself into our personal lives. I fear a government that has come ever closer to taking over our financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and our health care system. I fear a spirit of entitlement that many among us selfishly exhibit, that manifests itself through dependence on the government to meet all of our needs and wants. I fear the reckless spending of TRILLIONS of dollars that we do not have, to put band aids on mortal wounds.
We have become a divided nation, a rudderless ship. We have become more openly ugly, rude, dishonest, and sickeningly partisan. We are becoming the antithesis of what our founding fathers envisioned for this great nation.
I am praying that on this eighth anniversary of the single most violent acts ever perpetrated on our shores, that we will not only remember September 11, 2001, but that we would also remember July 4, 1776.
Never, ever, EVER forget!
And don't forget there is a God who calls us to remember His Providence. It's not too late.