Summary: The first message for 2015...A call for a "Re-Awakening" and being "ReNewed".
“The (NEW) Journey Begins”
• Last week I announced the title of this message might be “A Call to Arms.” Some might say this title is over the top, but when I look around and see our country, culture, community, and even our churches, my conviction is that this call I pray is not too late. A “Call to Arms” is a call to take every weapon at your disposal, every resource you have, and engage in the battle. Sadly, the church has had it so easy for so long, that many inside the church do not see the battle that we are in a battle at all. There is no more danger than to find yourself in the middle of a war & not recognize or acknowledge that the battle is raging. Is it any wonder that we are losing the war for the hearts of people, both unchurched and church people? Is it any wonder that God’s people are losing their righteous influence in community after community? Many still have influence in their community, but use it for other things than to point the community back to the truth of the Bible.
• The call of every church member, Christ follower, and church, is to take up the gospel and engage in the battle between darkness and light. And this is indeed a battle! Just look around & observe.
• Human logic suggests that darkness has the upper hand. It appears to have more people, more earthly resources, & appeals to the scores and the masses. However, those who choose the side of light has a superior and supreme commander. We must open our eyes and see that this battle is raging in America & the World. Every time you read a paper or watch the news, it slaps you!
• The church, as envisioned by our Lord Jesus Christ, is both the offensive and defensive weapon which he chooses to use on earth. Jesus came to establish the church, He lived to empower the church, He died to enable the church, and one day He shall return to embrace the church as His bride. So knowing these we, the church, His church, discovers and follows His plan.
• Today, the deepest desire of my heart is for us to begin a new journey together. If we take up arms, then at some point we can & will lay them down. I submit this is a lifelong journey which has many twist and turns, but is ultimately about HIM. Let us first take stock where we are. Scriptures.
• Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has plans for us. He does not plan for evil which means He doesn’t want us to close our doors. Yet according to Church Leadership.org every year 1000 new churches are started while 4000 church close their doors. Of those established, traditional churches which remain open, 80% are in decline. Of the 20% who are ‘growing’, most are growing from transfer membership from others church. The number of Christ followers in this swelling population is declining as are the number of places to worship (Church). God doesn’t want this, nor does He want us losing our young people, He wants to give us both a future and hope! How exciting! However, human-kind (that’d be us) tends to want to take things in our own hands & do things our own way. What has that achieved? Disaster! What statistics would you like me to share or give that would penetrate our hearts to the point of moving us to action? Should we discuss the “Already Gone” syndrome, which is proof that our children, at a very young age, are deciding to walk away from the church because they don’t see the connection?
• From 1983 until 1992 (the year I left the music ministry) each January I would fly to Houston Texas for a music conference. I would fly down on Saturday & visit 3 churches on Sunday to see what was being done in the larger churches. Generally, I would attend 1st Baptist, 2nd Baptist, & Champion Forrest Baptist. Hearing Ed Young, Damon Shook, and John Bisagno was always a treat. My hero, Dr. John Bisagno frequently took the 1st Sunday of the New Year to inspire, instruct, and encourage his people to unite in the ministry of the church and the expansion of the gospel. Candidly, I have always marveled at his ability to engage people in the work of God. Today my heart, my prayer, and my desire is to do the same.