Summary: Sometimes in our lives and in the life of a church there are things that God wants us to leave behind, and until we do we cannot embrace the powerful promise of the future.

Burying Sara

Gen. 23

Though the passing of this year was not as spectacular as Y2K, it is none the less a very important threshold we have crossed.

We’ve just crossed over into the new millennium! - (Explain: no year "0")

Culture has changed

From agricultural (radio) Industrial (TV) Informational (computer/internet) - The needs of people changed with each shift.

Church has changed

As we look over the history of the church ADAPT, CHANGE with culture.

- Some adapt theology to make it more comfortable to the culture. - THAT’S WRONG!

- Others have kept the message strong and adapted the form to be relevant to the culture. THAT’S GOOD!

Conflict has changed

Not who we are in conflict with or even how we wage warfare - but the battlefield has changed.

- It would be like going out to war only to find that the enemy is on the other side of the ridge.

- The conflict is being waged on battlefields that have been unfamiliar to us in the past.

- We live in perilous times - 2Tim.3:1-13 gives a rundown of the perils that will face us in the last days that reads like this mornings news paper. Lovers of self, money, pleasure, etc.

- The enemy is assaulting on every front available to him - for he knows his time is short

- The stakes are high! - THE PRIZE? -your children - your marriage - your effectiveness - powerless church

But we want to declare here tonight that we will not be casualties of war. For we have a mighty king that leads us!!

- He has brought us to this time in history for just such a time as this!

- Not to shrink back and cower - but to be VICTORIOUS!

- He has uniquely equipped you at this exact point in history to be fit for the conflict that rages around us.

- We must enter that conflict like never before. It will take our time, our money, our determination.

- Our skill in battle will sharpen as we declare "I will share Christ, I will pray, I will read, I will serve, I will step out."

Illus: Civil War: with ladies and their parasols and gentlemen in the carriages - watched the war from the surrounding hillsides for entertainment.

- Many Christians are doing just that but they were not called to that! We are called to enter the conflict!

- We cannot be both on the sidelines and victorious. His call to you tonight is to enter the conflict.

The conflict is the advancement of the Kingdom of light as it pierces through the strongholds of the Kingdom of darkness

- Jesus said paraphrased "…the gates of hell will not prevail against the church"

- Gates defend! - The church is against the gates.

- In this picture the armies of God are an advancing conquering army!

- We, the church, are not pictured with our tails between our legs, our hands over our heads just trying to hold the hill.

- We are always pictured as expanding, taking new ground, and conquering for the glory of our King!

But you know and I know - and I want to be sensitive here - that not every church in every age has fit that description.

- Many churches that we know about, and maybe even some in this town are only a shell of what they once were.

- Many churches that once were mightily used by the Spirit of God now are little more than grave markers attesting to the life that once flowed freely in their midst. (not true of them all, you know that and I know that)

- Casualties of liberal theology! Or rendered impotent by an inordinate focus on tradition or forms of worship that mean nothing to the culture we find ourselves in!

- We must not allow that to happen at Bethel!!

- Our culture is changing and whether we like it or not - God wants us to adapt to the changes and leverage our energies and resources for maximum effect for the Kingdom of God!

I’m not saying to forget the past. We would be foolish not to remember and learn, but we’re not to enshrine it!

- If we here didn’t care about our past, we wouldn’t be planning a big shindig for our 75th anniversary.

- There wouldn’t be a group of people working hard, spending time and money to ensure we celebrate the past.

- But even as we do that, we’re looking forward to our future. To build and to fortify the church.

- If we live in the past, then we’ve failed. WHY can’t we stick with the old and never do anything new?

- Because every new generation of people that arises on this earth needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ or they’ll perish!

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