|Our Deafening Silence
|Thursday, May 25, 2023|
Lynnette and Josh had been looking forward to this dinner with their friends for months. Picture an evening with two couples at a swanky restaurant. Swanky enough, it required a reservation three months in advance.
With babysitters watching the kids, this had all the markings of a splendid evening for both couples. Then the guy sitting at a table across the room quietly keeled over.
No one seemed alarmed. Which—to Josh and Lynnette—was very alarming.
Eventually, a lady walked from table to table, asking if someone was a doctor. But she spoke softly, hardly above a whisper. It was as if she did not want to cause a scene or interrupt, even though a man seemed to be in trouble.
Servers attempted the Heimlich maneuver. But the guy was large enough that there were not enough men to hold him in place.
As Josh pulled out his phone to call 9-1-1, someone mentioned an ambulance was on the way. Eventually, someone started doing chest compressions until the medics arrived.
For the entire duration of this drama, no one spoke above a whisper. Not the family. Not the diners. Not the staff.
Lynnette recalls, "You could see panic in people's eyes, but nobody yelled. Nobody demanded help. Nobody spoke out. A man was choking—and maybe dying! It was the most horrific scene ever."
Does that sound familiar? It should.
The truth is, you and I are reliving that drama every time we pass by lost people—people who need Jesus—but say nothing about Christ. Their lives are in peril, but we are either too distracted or too embarrassed to say or do anything more than whisper.
How is it we can verbally spar over politics, shout at football games, but remain silent when others are literally walking toward hell? Our silence is deafening!
|What COVID taught us about the Church
|Thursday, May 18, 2023|
COVID is gone—but its scars are not.
As I talk with believers across the country, I’m hearing two universal observations. Call them “False Lessons.” I say false, because though they aren’t true, our conduct suggests we believe they are.
Lesson 1:Church attendance is (apparently) optional.
Judging by the number of folks who used to attend services but no longer do, one would think that the Bible has little or nothing to say about church attendance. But that’s hardly the case.
We don’t go to church to merely “get” a sermon. Biblically, we go to church to GIVE. We give our voices in worship. We give our listening ear to people who are hurting. We share in prayer with those sitting next to us who need comforting. You can’t do that at home in your pajamas while watching a sermon.
In retrospect, COVID appears to have been just the excuse some people needed to drop church attendance from their “To do” list. While some transitioned to other assemblies, almost every congregation I know is still down a little—or a lot—in attendance. Apparently, church attendance is optional. That’s (false) lesson number one.
Lesson 2: We don’t need to abide by the weaker brother principle.
During COVID, most churches wrestled with two polarized positions regarding masks. Group A was appalled that some in the church would “cave in” to mask mandates. Group B was appalled that some in the church would “endanger others” by not wearing a mask.
What was shockingly absent was any conversation about the weaker brother principle. Namely, “If my wearing a mask makes you more comfortable, I will happily do that for the sake of our unity in Christ.” And vice versa.
That biblical mandate somehow didn’t apply. Instead, many churches split. But how did we jettison the clear teaching of Romans 14:3? We’re commanded, “The strong believer should not look down on the weaker believer.” Or what about Romans 12:18? We’re told, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” On what biblical authority did we go around that?
How I wish we could go back and do the COVID thing with a more godly humility. If we are this easily divided over a relatively small issue, what will we do when something truly consequential comes along?
Heaven help the Church!
|Hearing Plus Doing
|Thursday, May 11, 2023|
I bumped into an awkward Bible scene this week.
In Luke 8, Jesus' mother and brothers decide to visit Him. Problem is, He is inside a very crowded house. When word is given to Jesus that his mother and brother are outside wishing to see Him, He answers, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Was this moment awkward for Christ's family? Likely. But let's allow the full weight of His words to fall on us—which is what the Savior intended.
Do I want to be known as Jesus' brother or sister? Of course! And do you want the same? Certainly! Then—what are His criteria?
Those who hear the Word of God.
Those who do the Word of God.
Many of us come to church week after week—and that's good! We hear sermon after sermon—and that's good! But so often (at least for me), it fails to result in life change—and that's bad! On that basis, how can we say that we are truly hearing the Word, let alone doing the Word of God? Isn’t that more like self-medicating using the Bible as a mere self-help book?
I ask you. Do you just fill in the blanks of the sermon note page—or does Bible truth fill in the blanks of your soul? Are you a collector of sermons—or a doer of the Word?
|Where's the Urgency?
|Thursday, May 04, 2023|
What’s urgent in your life?
There's nothing wrong with any of these. But there's everything wrong with people who call themselves Christ followers—yet don't follow Christ's urgency in reaching the lost.
Jonathan Edwards declared, "Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering." So—why aren't we more urgent about reaching out to our lost neighbors and friends? Why don't we sense that "rotten covering?"
Six-year-old Sadie does. For some time, her family has prayed for an unsaved neighbor (call him "Sam"). Having built a friendship with Sam, they're thinking about getting him a Bible—and Sadie is entirely on board with this. Here's a conversation she had last week with her mom:
SADIE: Mom, is there a place besides heaven when you die?
MOM: (Explains hell in age-appropriate language, describing how non-believers are separated from God forever).
SADIE: (Visibly upset and fidgety) That’s IT?! One choice for forever?! Hurry up and get me that Bible for Mr. Sam. This is serious!
Sadie is right—this is serious! So, hurry up and __________________ (you fill in the blank).
This is urgent!
Just ask Jesus.
|The High Cost of Unforgiveness
|Thursday, April 27, 2023|
It might not be a real word, but it's a real attitude. And sometimes, we're all guilty of such twisted thinking. But unforgiveness is like drinking poison—and hoping someone else will die.
Speaking of unforgiveness, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has a favorite question she often asks of her audience when speaking. The question: “Are there one or more people in your life—past or present—that you’ve never forgiven?”
Nancy recalls, "I have asked for a response from tens of thousands of people, including long-time believers, Bible study leaders, and vocational Christian workers….In virtually every case, somewhere between 80 and 95 percent of the people in the room raise their hands….The vast majority of people sitting in church Sunday after Sunday (and many of who are sitting at home, having left the church, disillusioned) have a least a seed—if not a forest—of unforgiveness in their heart."
Why the stinginess? Why the rock-hard reluctance to forgive?
Glynn Evans comments, “One of the reasons we forgive so superficially is because we ourselves feel we have been forgiven only slightly by God. Cheap forgiveness is always a sign that we have not dealt adequately with our sin. One thing is sure—we’ll never rise above the level of our own experience. If we feel God forgave us casually, that’s how we’ll treat those who offend us.”
What would He find if Jesus Himself showed up for a one-on-one conversation about this issue with you and me? How much unforgiveness is lodged in your heart? In my heart?
Having been forgiven the whole slate of our offenses (surely numbering in the tens of thousands), how could we be so miserly in forgiving others? What could be LESS like Jesus than a heart of unforgiveness?
Forgiven much, let us forgive others much.
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