How easy it is to get caught up in the pace of life. Our minds are constantly on the go from one thing to another. We spend so much energy planning and plotting that it wipes us out physically. This holds especially true for young families with children in various activities. They seem to run into the house, grab things and then run out as fast as they came in. Everyone is on the go, so we stop by our local fast food place, grab some almost food, and dash on our way. I wonder what God thinks of our rat race lifestyle. I think about Jesus. Consider how much he had to do in three short years, yet in scripture he never appeared “rushed”. In fact, when reading the gospels, personally you get just the opposite feeling, the pace is actually slowed and relaxing. This crazy pace wasn’t always like this, not as far as I can remember growing up. Families took time to sit together at a place called “the dinner table” (all at the same time), and consumed a meal prepared by either mom or dad. And then they did another unusual thing, they talked. They shared their day, their moments, their victories, and even their defeats. This was also the place where God would join the family discussion; and many were taught about God, the bible, life, etc. while at the table. I guess thinking about it, those were the good old days. The concern of our fast paced lifestyles is that is appears with all that we do, we are not drawing closer to God, but actually the reverse is true. Perhaps all of these activities (regardless how valuable they appear) in reality are drawing us further away from God. As we focus our attention and energy on other priorities, we are becoming void of God. Our homes are becoming void of God. Our children are void of God. No wonder there is such a struggle for many to show up for worship on Sunday. Could that be why they appear so disconnected? (we will seek to answer this question next week as we seek to unbusy our lives. Stay tuned).
He was inspired to write one of the most beautiful hymns in the book. The year was 1913 when George Bennard looked deep into his heart, and by direction of the Holy Spirit penned these powerful words.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.
To that old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear; then he'll call me some day to my home far away, where his glory forever I'll share.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.
Today we join the world in celebrating the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. As this single event changed the course of history throughout the world, it was the empty tomb that set Jesus apart, and crowned him Lord. It is this victory over death which serves as the backdrop, as we together worship our God. What great love he has for us. To redeem us. To rescue us. To give us a new identity, into a new family. And if that was not enough, he gave us a new eternal address. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow! Today we stand in the shadow of the cross, and praise our God with grateful hearts.
America is changing. Unfortunately, this change is taking America (at large) further away from surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This presents a challenge to the church. Across the board, most churches are seeing a major decline in attendance as older members pass away, and evangelism efforts in most places fall short of the goal in reaching the heart of the lost. At the same time, there appears to be a shift towards lifestyles and behavior, once believed to be taboo in our society. The closet door is not just opened, but has been removed from the hinges and burned. Therefore, the people we (the church) meet have been infected by this new lifestyle and see the bible as an old antiquated book that is no longer relevant in our society. They also will tell you god is what you believe him to be and they are free to live their lives as they choose, and no one can tell them anything different. No wonder sexual immorality is running rampant, as the knowledge of God is void in the thinking of the average person. In his book ”Gospel Reset,” Ken Ham made the point of reminding churches that old methods of personal evangelism are no longer effective on the lost today. They have no concept of what sin is, so to tell them they are sinners has little impact on their lives. If you tell them they are lost and they are going to hell, they will tell you they don’t understand what you mean by “lost” and that they don’t believe in God, heaven, or hell. Is the field white to harvest? Without a doubt. Is it going to take a lot of work? Yes. Can these people be reached with the Gospel? Absolutely. So what do we do to become effective in honoring the Great Commission? Over the next weeks we will explore the changes we must make. Blessings.
Every now and then, you read something profound that answers pondered questions, only to discover the answer is beyond belief. A quick rewind takes us back in time to Moses and the children of Israel. They are in the wilderness and God is giving them what will become known as “The Law.” The very first thing God told them was that he was a jealous God, and they should have no other God before him ( Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:6). We are firmly aware of this warning from God as we struggle in 2019 to refrain from allowing “things” in our lives to become gods to us, and ultimately take the place of God. However, what I read brought this entire thought to life on a different dimension. Allow me to explain. It an effort to understand the religious climate in America, Bruce Willis (yes Mr. Die Hard himself) stated “What America is witnessing is not the death of God, just the birth of many gods.” Did you catch it? America the land of the free and the home of the brave whose constitution was framed by men who were believers in God (for those who did not practice the Christian faith, they still accepted the principles of God) as they structured America as we know it. That America is leaving, and now the trend is a new America. Former President Barack Obama lit the fuse in 2006 in his keynote speech entitled “Building A Covenant For America.” In this speech the President stated “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation. At least now just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. Today the movement is away from a knowledge and respect for God, and as a result we have fallen into trap of Judges 21:25 “In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Continued next week. Blessings.