At Church Today

1490886476337I was looking forward to going to church this Sunday. Church is good.  We got there on time, but the guest preacher ran over, so we waited as the prior service ended. The people came out, most with blank or sad faces on.  I thought they should have told this guy that running over might negate anything he could have possibly said or done.  We found a seat, then suffered through announcements.  Aren’t there enough advertisements on TV, billboards, and the radio that we could skip ads in church.  At one time announcements at church were prayer needs, so and so is sick, someone’s house burned, so and so were married, died, baptized, etc.  Then the leaders decided these items could be put on paper to let people know. However, the important stuff gets real-time attention, come to this and that program we are having.  This is the influence of society, the first things you get when the service starts.  Then the musicians take over and attempt to lead us into worship.  A fast song to get everyone awake, standing and then taking the offering.

I was really in a judgmental frame of mind at this point.  I realized it and knew it was not good. However, the preacher started to introduce the guest speaker, an Evangelist, with a true gift of the Holy Spirit.  Our normal pastor said, “He will share very simply the message of the gospel and the Spirit will draw people to God.”  This grabbed my attention.  We were actually going to experience a manifestation of a gift of the Holy Spirit described in scripture.  This evangelist, now 81 years old, had spent his life traveling from church to church sharing the gospel.

He opened with some humor and preached as though he was having a conversation with the audience about his observations on salvation and the barriers thereto, including natural human inclinations and the devil.  I really liked his approach and of course he kept enough humor in his talk to be likeable, but he frequently referred to the point where he would be asking people to respond to God’s invitation. He spoke a lot on baptism, not theologically about it, but simply what restrained believers from being baptized.  Eventually, he gave the invitation, the musicians began an appropriate song and he looked out scanning the audience. He said, what would you do if you faced God today, are you in the right condition?  Are you ready?

In my mind, I answered this question, Yes. I so much want to see Yeshua.  As we sang I had a mental picture of Yeshua standing at the front and center of the stage.  He didn’t say anything, but the power of His presence was overwhelming to everyone in the church.  He was here and that changed everything and everyone.  All needs, distractions, plans, judgment, or critical thinking, was set aside for the one supreme person in all the universe, Yeshua Messiah.  My only thought was how good this is; how like the rays of the sun shining in, dispelling the darkness; how every believer in the room was in surrender and praise, delighted and loved so completely in an instant, through Yeshua’s presence alone.  The picture in my mind faded and I longed to capture it, to stay before Him in His presence.

Several people responded and the singers began to sing erratically in their emotion, off-key, echoing choruses, ad-libbing words to supplement the verse.  Perhaps they felt the presence of the Lord as I did or maybe it was just hyperbole, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.  The invitation was renewed a few times, urging people not to miss this opportunity and eventually the service ended.

I do believe this man was an Evangelist.  Moreover, I believe God can work in spite of very imperfect people, distraction, poor musicians, hype, emotion, even worldly behavior and influences.  It is God who does the saving of souls.  It is the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16: 8).  Yeshua, paid the price that we owed and we have been bought, purchased by His blood. (Acts 20:28).  God knows those who are His. (2 Tim. 2:19).  “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10: 28-29).  I believe every word of God is true and it is to me.  “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.  And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20).

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