Now that I’ve been a Christian for 29 years as well as a pastor for 21 years, I have seen a lot of trends in American Christianity over the past few decades. One of the more disappointing trends has been the amount of hype surrounding certain books, movies, conferences, movements, Bible studies, and, even, “revivals.” I cannot recall how many times a of these various mediums were going to possibly usher in a revival which would transform our nation.
Let me mention a few examples. From each of these examples, God has certainly done a whole lot. People have been saved. Lives have been changed. I do not want to minimize that fact. Praise the Lord for how He used these tools to reach people!
In each of these cases I can recall Christian people enthusiastically suggesting, or hoping, that this particular “thing” would be the catalyst for national revival or spiritual awakening.
(1) 1990… A Bible Study… “Experiencing God” featured the teaching of Henry Blackaby, and consisted of a VHS video series matched with a workbook. The premise of the study is to find out where God is at work and to join Him there. Excellent counsel! But national revival from the study itself? Twenty-five years and counting… not yet.
I was saddened this week to read about a young man getting killed in an accident at a coal mine in my home county back in southern Illinois. It brought back memories for me. When most people think about coal mines, they usually think about West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. I’ve learned that many people don’t realize that southern Illinois has one of the richest coal mining veins in the United States.
I can remember as a young boy going to spend the night at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and Grandpa coming home from finishing the 2nd shift. He’d wake me up so I could join him for a midnight snack in the kitchen: Pringles and a bottle of cold Mountain Dew.
I also remember in grade school getting news of a classmate’s Dad being killed in the mine. One of my Dad’s best buddies had his face crushed in mine accident. Several surgeries were required to reconstruct his face. One of my best friends spent several weeks in a hospital recuperating after nearly dying in a coal mining accident.
I am absolutely thrilled with what God is doing in Harvest Bible Chapel and in the Harvest Bible Fellowship.
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4.21-24
Seven of our church members went to the Jacksonville Landing this evening to share the Good News of Christ. Michael talked to a server who was on a break, offering him a Gospel tract. He said he already had several of them…because Christians left as tips. Michael sought clarification, asking, “People leave them as tips or with tips?” The answer? Both.
I said to Michael, “Kind of makes you want to say to someone like that, ‘On behalf of all the lame Christians out there who aren’t representing Christ very well, I want to apologize.'”
Please, don’t ever leave a Gospel tract without a generous tip. Leaving Gospel tracts in the place of money for tips is scandalous, an embarrassment to the Christian community...even if the service is sub-par or bad. Think about this, God demonstrated His love toward us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…the just for the unjust, the godly for the ungodly. Even if a server is rude and not helpful, to bless them with a generous tip is acting very God-like, displaying love toward someone who has not earned it or in any way made you feel like being generous. That’s grace.
Powerful story about a freshman in college who overcame his fears and shared the Gospel on the beach in Daytona:
I was a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
If it had been one year earlier I would have been at Daytona Beach to join in the partying. As it was, God had intervened mercifully in my life before going to college, and I was there for a beach evangelism project. Christians sure know how to almost have fun.
A bunch of us had driven down from Philadelphia in an old van. The first night I ended up staying alone in an isolated motel room surrounded by drunk bikers partying outside my door. One night a homeless man who seemed to be high on drugs approached our group while we were out walking and said, “I know who you are! You’re here to tell us about Jesus!”
Faithful Gospel preaching in this era of spiritual apathy requires faith and patience. Two stories from the past will encourage the faithful witness.
First, a story from the ministry of John Flavel (1628-1691). Robert Murray M’Cheyne reports of how a 15 year old American immigrant named Luke Short heard Flavel preach a message on 1 Corinthians 16.22: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha!” Short was not a Christian at the time, nor was he for the next 85 years. But at the age of 100, he reflected on the memory of that sermon and was converted! Of course, Flavel was already in glory with the Savior at that point.
The second story is not of a pastor but a layman who loved Jesus and proclaimed him faithfully through personal witnessing on a street in Sydney, Australia: