Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Are You Doing All You Can For God?


Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?*

The church today seems caught up in a whirlpool of business, a stream of activities that brings most believers no closer to God, and which fail to reap a harvest of souls. If you went to most any church in America and asked the congregation how many have led someone to Jesus Christ personally in the last year, there would be few hands raised. Today the church of Jesus Christ is caught up with trying to please the people, trying to make them happy enough to stay and leave their tithes behind. Unfortunately, that’s not what Jesus Christ was talking about when he told the disciples, “I will build my church.” Building a true church of the living God is not making people happy, but making God happy. God is happy when people live holy lives with God at the top of their priorities. If you find yourself unhappy with your church, maybe you need to check your heart first and see if it is holy. Let the Holy Spirit shine His light around in all the dark places until all the true agendas are revealed.
The Busy Church
We are too busy for God, for revival, for prayer, for witnessing, for fasting, for reaching out beyond the four walls of our ‘churches’ to the hurting lost world around us. Where are those who are weeping for lost souls? Where are those who are going out of their way to seek the lost and lead them to the Savior. Most of them are so busy ‘working for God’ in the church, they have no time to talk to their neighbor about Jesus Christ. They have to go attend the aerobic workout at church. They have to learn how to tie flies at the men’s breakfast. Leonard Ravenhill once wrote: “This is an hour in need of burning hearts, bursting lips and brimming eyes! If we were a tenth as spiritual as we think we are, our streets would be filled each Sunday with throngs of believers marching to Zion - with sacks on their bodies and ashes on their shaking heads, shaking at the calamity that has brought the Church to be the unlovely, unnerved, unproductive thing that she is!
Some would try to argue that the church is not unproductive. But what I wonder is, what is the church productive in? If it is good at making people happy…. It may be productive in a worldly way, but not necessarily in a way that is pleasing to God. If the church is productive in getting lots of bodies into the building, but yet those bodies go home still spiritually hungry, there is no success. The church can keep people busy from Monday through Sunday, but if those people fail to maintain holy lives, fail to witness, win and disciple new converts, is there truly success? I am concerned that we are teaching a new generation how to be a ‘Christian’ and do nothing for God. We model for them that serving God is going to church and putting an offering in the plate. Sadly, some think that such behavior is sufficient to provide an automatic pass into heaven. The once ‘on-fire’ church is slowly becoming just like past denominations that faded off into spiritual oblivion, overtaken by rules, duties, obligations and ritual. The gospel believing church is gradually loosing the fresh touch of holy anointing, trading it for control, financial security, and tradition. One of the symptoms that marks this deterioration is the increasing number of pastors who are leaving the ministry, frustrated, unfulfilled, and some falling into sin.
While on the surface, everything is in place—slick bulletins, fancy seasonal programs, well educated clergy—underneath there is a rip-tide of spiritual depravity that is destroying the church. Our busy fa├žade covers a multitude of weaknesses. We begin to substitute pleasantries for the hard spiritual work of prayer, fasting, seeking the face of God. We refuse to tolerate those who demand sacrifice and personal involvement in ministry roles. We tend to develop a ‘know-it-all’ attitude. We pick and choose our assignments depending on our comfort rather than on what God wants or asks of us. This is dangerous territory for the body of Christ. The Bible teaches us about the life of King David. As long as he sought the Lord, everything went fine. The moment he failed to seek the Lord and did his own thing, that’s when temptation came, battles were lost, murder was found in his heart and decisions were made that led David, his family, and the nation of Israel into sin and decay. Can we learn from history? Can the Holy Spirit so prick our hearts that we will change the way we think and act?
The Lost World
Amy Carmichael, missionary, once wrote of this moving experience entitled “The Cry of the Blood”:
The tom-toms thumped on all night, and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, and it seemed like this:
That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only coiled shapes, black hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms an another child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step...it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!
Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone-blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly and fell without a sound.
Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call. Though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.
Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of Hell. Then I saw, like a picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes, when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it rather a vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. "Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite 'call' to go. You haven't finished your daisy chains. It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."
There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get some sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries for miles and miles at the edges. Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the "rules." And, being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest a while; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; the child clung convulsively, and it called but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass.
And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which her relatives reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere--the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And they sang a hymn.
Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon ME, for I knew what it was--the cry of the blood. Then thundered a Voice, "...the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people..." Jesus said, "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature... and, lo, I am with you alway..
." (Isaiah 6:8, 9; Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20).
Church, what are we doing to win that lost world to Jesus Christ? As Amy says...What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it? God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin! We need a renewed passion for the lost, a fresh vision of Jesus, and ears attentive to his commands.. “Go ye into all the world….” J.Johnson * selected poem from Leonard Ravenhill

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