Monday, October 20, 2008

SOAP No. 7: The truth ain’t pretty

Scripture: And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."
When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.
-- 1 Samuel 7:3, 6

Observation: The ark of the Lord had been taken to Kiriath Jearim after being in Philistine territory, and even twenty years later, the people of Israel were seeking God.

Application: I think we’ve all heard sermons like this before, ones that state that we need to cast away our idols and focus wholly on God. But…when you look at America today, especially with the upcoming election, how can you not see how bad our country has gone morally?

Our pastor spoke yesterday of how his heart aches for our community. Our church is very large (I think the largest in our city, actually), yet we only baptized twelve people last year. And he’s right in what he spoke on Sunday: we (I say “we” like there’s a rat in my pocket, ha) need to be more involved, need to take risks, need to speak out and invite people to visit. If this nation is going to change, it will have to be the Christians that come forward and speak out…but I’m afraid we’ve become too comfortable in our circles to venture out into the unknown (there I go using the “we” again).

Our pastor gave a quote in his sermon, one he found, but I can’t remember who said it: “If you want to see how popular you are as a preacher, see how many people come on Sunday night. If you want to see how popular God is, see how many people come on Wednesday nights.”

He brought the hammer down on us, and I am so grateful to have a pastor who isn’t afraid of offending people to speak God’s word.

Apparently his weekly “column” (that all of our members get) was not well-received by some parishioners. Apparently he had a few angry e-mails regarding it and heard through the grapevine that some of the members were not pleased with him.

And why? Because he said that feels we are too comfortable in our church and do not want to reach out to others.

And, frankly, if our large church only had twelve baptisms, he’s most likely correct.

We (and now I say “we” meaning our nation) need Christians who will stand up and devote themselves fully to God. We need to repent. We need to be delivered from those who stand against us.

And we need to bring the hammer down.

Prayer: God, I want to be more involved, I want to be bolder, and I want to learn more. I want our church to be able to bring more people to know You, and I want our pastor to continue to say what You have laid on his heart. Thank You so much for people like him and his wife, who are strong and devout and have no problem speaking the truth. Please strengthen and guide them and the rest of our church.


misti said...

This reminded me of a Derek Webb song...I can't think of the name, but he says "the truth is never sexy." It's a really good song! Good blog too ;)

Rachel said...

This was a great post.

What's sad is that most of the popular preachers aren't preaching the truth, and those that are are sometimes fighting to keep the doors open.

There is a problem when only 12 people are baptized, and it's good of your pastor (you know I heart him) to call that out.

CR said...

I've been digging your "soap" posts!

Sherry said...

First, I would like to thank you for commenting on my blog while I was away on vacation. It's always nice to "meet" new blogging friends :)

I have read through some of your posts and will definitely be back.

Our churches today are "me" centered. "Preach what I want to hear. Sing the songs and in the style I like. Have events that I am interested in. Don't make me feel guilty b/c I only attend church 50% of the time (or less). Be there for me when I am sick or need you to perform marriage ceremonies or funerals. And if not, I'll just go somewhere else or stay home and watch a TV preacher that I like." Does any of this sound remotely familiar? I'm sure your pastor would say "Yes, and Amen!"

The Bible tells us that there will come a time that man will not endure sound doctrine (truth). The Word is truth (John 17:17). In that same chapter Jesus prays for future believers (like us). The theme of His prayer for us was to have unity with Him and each other. As Christians the Word must be our yardstick for measuring our lives. Using anything else will only cause us to come up short.

Blessings and have a wonderful day!

MInTheGap said...

It's actually deeper than this, Lois Lane II. God is at work in your community (and you've seen part of it!), and those that choose not to be involved are missing out.

You see, when we think about God's work as "not being done" without me, we place way too much emphasis on our part. It is God that brings people to Himself. It is God that changes the heart.

This doesn't diminish our responsibility to be a witness. It doesn't take us out of the equation. It doesn't mean that we can sit back and God will do all the work.

It is saying that God wants to use us, but He doesn't have to. If we choose not to get involved it's us that are hurt by it. We miss out on the blessing, on being a part of God's work, etc.

Look at it like David and Goliath. God wasn't going to let Goliath beat the children of Israel-- and that's the truth that David understood. Goliath was mocking God, he was mocking the Jews. Any of those men could have done what David did, but David was the only one to do it. He got the blessing.

What are we missing out on by being on the sidelines? What are we missing out on by not spreading the Gospel? What have we let fear rob us of?

ihavetobelieve said...

I love these "SOAP" things. I especially like soap because it gets me clean! I never saw that method used until recently on here. I'm gonna keep coming back. If you don't mind, I'll add you to my blogroll.

I love the study of 1 Samuel. Frankly some of the stuff in there just cracks me up the way that God deals with the idolatrous nations.

Yes, the truth is often painful, but it is what we need if we ever hope to become conformed to the image of Christ.

I'm a Believer!

PS I sometimes have a rat in my pocket too.

PPS I'm in La. also! :-)