From the Heart of a Pastor
Maybe it just simply is what it is. Or maybe it can be attributed to the day and time we live in. Maybe it's just "Roller Coaster Christianity" rearing its ugly head. Maybe it’s the price of gas. Maybe it's something completely different. Maybe it’s me. Maybe like Tiger Woods, I didn't bring my "A" game. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. If you have any thoughts on this subject (if you dare to read on, that is) please feel free to share them with me.
One week removed from one of the most powerful services of the year at Cornerstone, we had an unusually anemic “Liberty Sunday.” Perhaps, one reason is the insidious attacks of the enemy in the body of believers – a counterstrike response to the spiritual forward thrust of the church a week earlier. Whatever the hinderance, be it Lucifer or Laodicea, there was certainly a heavy amount of spiritual warfare taking place before, during and after the service.
In one of my son’s favorite video games, there is an instrument called the “Energy Drain,” which, when activated, drains the energy out of any vehicle in the area, stopping it cold in it’s tracks. Maybe the game designer is a Christian and has dealt with the "Energy Drainer" before. You see, one of the biggest battles that we face as a church is the challenge of building positive momentum in the face of apathetic, disconnected, and uncommitted attitudes that quite frankly “drain the energy” out of the life of the church.
A Sinister Struggle
Cornerstone has somehow become a church of thirds and not in a good way. Outside of the committed core believers, the faithful few, there is a wandering congregation that leaves me wondering. Sometimes they show up to church, sometimes they don't. It is as if there are three different congregations: A, B, and C church! The problem is that you never know who will show up. It is an unfortunate, but true, fact that if all “three churches” would show-up on the same Sunday, there would not be enough seats for them in our sanctuary.
It is quite obvious that faithful church attendance is not high on the list of priorities for some. If something comes up, if they want to sleep in, if they want to go to a party, if they want to go to the beach, if they want to just stay home -- no problem! Church simply gets bumped to the background. Jesus gets brushed aside (again) for something that must be way more important than spending family-time with Him. Distraction is a favorite tool for the enemy of our souls and we, my friends, are living in the age of distraction.
A Biblical Parallel
I preached a sermon several years ago entitled "Asleep During Revival." It centered round an event that happened to a Bible character named Eutychus as recorded in Acts 20:7-12. The great apostle Paul was preaching in Troas and continued late into the night. At midnight, the young man, Eutychus, fell asleep in the windowsill of the three-story building in which Paul was preaching and fell out of the building to his death.
In that message, I recall being amazed that someone could fall asleep during the ministry of Paul -- the greatest Evangelist of his time. Yet, today, as I look around right here at Cornerstone, I see those who are falling asleep physically and spiritually -- even during powerfully anointed services, in which the Holy Spirit is moving mightily! We are certainly living in the midnight hour. While people are still getting saved, others are falling asleep and dying spiritually.
Faith, Hope and the rest of the Story
The story of the young man named Eutychus ends well, however, not badly. Paul immediately went down into the street where the young man’s lifeless body lay and prayed for him. As the power of God worked through Paul, death had to flee and life incredibly returned to his body. He was resurrected, renewed, re-filled with life! It was a miraculous transformation.
The good news for us – individually and corporately -- is that God is still in the transformation business. He is still changing hearts, lives, individuals and even churches. He is still breathing life into the lifeless, hope into the hopeless, and help into the helpless. God has an incredible way of changing the story of our lives to have a better ending, a happier ending, a heavenly ending.
So, no, I'm not throwing-in-the-towel or waving any white flag -- I'm just doing what a Pastor is supposed to do; "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet"(see Isaiah 58:1). Even in spite of the palpable spiritual lull, “Liberty Offering” still raised over $15,000 in cash and pledges. That is down quite a bit for a Liberty Offering, but it is the first one that has been designated for a ministry other than in-house at Cornerstone. I believe as “Miracle Month” continues, we will see and hear of great things happening as the result of our believing, expecting, and seed-sowing faith! I still believe the best is yet to be!
I will continue to “fight the good fight of faith.”
Anybody want to join me?