Friday, August 31, 2012

A Sobering Reminder

My dear friend Bill Barker is director of Appalachian Regional Ministries. ARM is a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. Bill is a West Virginia native who has a heart for God, and for making Him known to the people throughout the mountains and hills of the Appalachian region of our nation, which runs from parts of New York to northern Georgia.
Bill posted the following article on Facebook this morning, and I felt compelled to share it with our readers. The context of the scriptures cited here is, of course, surrounding the dedication of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. It is written to the people of Israel and regards that special house of worship and prayer that had been constructed to God's specifications. God warns His people, Israel that He stands ready to protect and provide for them, but that He will withdraw His blessings from those who fail to respond to Him in obedience and love.
Even though that unique situation was very different from what we face today, I believe we can draw a correlation to the spiritual situation of God's people today in our region. Our culture has basically forgotten God and His commandments. Houses of worship all around us are closed, locked, mildewed and rotting. Small remnants try to keep other buildings open, and our convention spends money time and other resources on planting new churches. What we need is true revival among God's people. It is a sad commentary on our complacency, our priorities, and our lack of zeal in fulfilling His Great Commission. Here is Bill's article. May God use Bill's post to be a compelling challenge to each of us today!
For the past six days, I have been traveling and working in the coalfields of Appalachia, driving through towns that once brimmed with people and affluence; driving pass churches that once were filled to capacity every Lord’s Day. I paused as I passed a church were over 650 people once gathered to worship and today a dozen or so people struggle to keep the doors open.
I drove by another church that in its heyday was one of the ten largest churches in their denomination and today is just an empty shell of a building.
I drove pass churches with For Sale signs on them, pass others that showed years of neglect, and pass others that were boarded up. Yet, there was one thing in common at each site; men and women, teenagers, boys and girls desperately needing of being reached with the gospel of Christ surrounded the abandoned or nearly empty church buildings.
This reminded me of the store with a “Going out of business” sign on the front window under which someone had scribbled, “we forgot what business we were in.”
While frequently, we quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, we seldom read on to verses 19-22. "But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land and this house?' Then they will answer, 'Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them'" (NKJV).
That same truth applies to the church today; accordingly, I pray with the sons of Korah, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”(Psalm 85:6).

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