Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I recently heard a very powerful sermon from a church I was visiting. The teaching pastor was actually the youth pastor of this church. By my own admission, I was surprised by his passion in teaching God's Word. I guess I would have thought that this level of energy would come from a seasoned (read older) believer. Keep in mind that I know nothing about this man other than his title. So it would seem that my presumptuousness about his title has nothing to do with this young man's impact for the Kingdom of God. His heart for the lost is contagious. I can't help but feel guilty for believing, even if it was only for a split second, that his influence from God would have any less relevance because he wasn't the lead pastor.

As he taught from the pulpit, it became quite clear that the wisdom he had was beyond his years. This can only be explained by the close proximity that he walks with God every day. The relationship, the time he must spend with the Savior must be quite extensive by our somewhat limited American standards.

Yet, should this be surprising? By all accounts, this should be the norm for all Christians. But somehow, we find ourselves astonished, even perplexed, when confronted with dedicated, passioned believers who take their relationship with God seriously. From young to old, we should all have an innate desire to lift up Christ with our lips, as well as our lives. Jesus said we should, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

So, I am convicted. Often I am faced with my own inadequacies. Not that am incapable of doing the very things that these other believers are doing. I certainly could reprioritize my life and take my time more seriously. I could consider whether I am using my time, the time that God has given me, on worthwhile pursuits that have eternal significance. It's just that I find myself often being lazy and lackadaisical in my approach to time that I spend with God.

Why is that? Is it because I'm comfortable with my life? Too comfortable I presume. Jesus said in John 12:25, "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Could it be because I place myself before God when I consider all my worldly possessions? Perhaps I fail to recognize by whose hands they have come by. Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it..." Psalm 107:21 says, "Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."

I do wonder about the American culture. Have we become so blessed by God that we have failed to recognize by whose hands the blessings have come by?  It speaks to the mindset of most Americans when we have everything we need with all our conveniences and pleasures. It concerns me because the United States is by all accounts the richest nation in the world. What does Jesus say about the rich? "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25

I'm concerned for America because I believe that many of us who claim to be Christians are only so by name. If persecution were to come to America, and I believe it will, there will certainly be a test to determine the extent of our resolve. It will test to see who is sincere not only about their faith, but their identity in Christ as well. Will we cling to the cross or deny that we ever knew Him?

Pastors, evangelists, layleaders, prophets, and teachers have all been actively warning us of our complacency. Is this any different from the Old Testament days when God sent prophet after prophet to warn the children of Israel that unless they repented and turned back to God that they would certainly incur His wrath? He told them what would happen! Yet they refused to listen and obey.

Read these prophetic words of Jeremiah and consider how similar our culture is like today to the sins in Israel that caused God to look away and give the the people over to captivity. Indeed there were godly people living in that time when Israel was handed over to Babylon. But God's wrath was the consequence of perpetuating sin from the nation as a whole. Is America any different?

Jeremiah 8:4-13
4 "Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says:
" 'When men fall down, do they not get up?
When a man turns away, does he not return?

5 Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.

6 I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
No one repents of his wickedness,
saying, "What have I done?"
Each pursues his own course
like a horse charging into battle.

7 Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the LORD.

8 " 'How can you say, "We are wise,
for we have the law of the LORD,"
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?

9 The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
what kind of wisdom do they have?

10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men
and their fields to new owners.
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.

11 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
"Peace, peace," they say,
when there is no peace.

12 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when they are punished,
says the LORD.

13 " 'I will take away their harvest,
declares the LORD.
There will be no grapes on the vine.
There will be no figs on the tree,
and their leaves will wither.
What I have given them
will be taken from them. ' "

14 "Why are we sitting here?
Gather together!
Let us flee to the fortified cities
and perish there!
For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish
and given us poisoned water to drink,
because we have sinned against him.
Can we Americans say we are any better than the Israelites? Do we not pervert justice? Do we not permit abortion? How many of us care for the orphans or the widows as Scripture commands? What about taking care of our own family? Those who don't are declared to have "denied the faith and [are] worse than [unbelievers]." And I'm not just talking about Mom, Dad, brother, and sister. Do we distort the Word of God in favor of political correctness? How are we at purity and godly living? Have we allowed in idols that presumably take God's place in our lives? I could go on and on, but you get the point.

But you say you don't do these things. May I remind you of what John said? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." So we need to acknowledge and confess our sins and repent. That is if we're sincere about our sin and godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

But what of our passion? Do we care enough, do we love enough, to warn people of the impending judgment? We know our culture is spiraling downhill. But do we care enough about our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, or whomever to warn them of the danger? Are we like the Israelites that somehow believe that because God hasn't acted upon His wrath yet that everything's okay? Let us not forget about God's patience and longsuffering.

As a final note, let's reflect on Solomon's prayer to God for the children of Israel. In the same way, we ought to be praying for our nation. Of course, these problems are not solely America's. But for perhaps the one nation (apart from Israel) that was founded on the principles of God's Word, it would be a tragedy to see the United States conquered and fallen because we failed to acknowledge or heed the warnings that God has so graciously given us. May we once again be filled with passion for the Lord our God and for people so that all may believe and be saved.

1 Kings 8:22-56
Solomon's Prayer of Dedication 
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:
"O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

25 "Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me as you have done.' 26 And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.

27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

31 "When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, 32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence.

33 "When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.

35 "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

37 "When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple- 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.

41 "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name- 42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

44 "When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

46 "When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly'; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

52 "May your eyes be open to your servant's plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt."

54 When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:

56 "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.


  1. What a message, we are pitiful in America. I love this post. The scriptures are exactly what I needed to read. We are too comfortable!

  2. Yes, indeed we are too comfortable at times, but I've come to see that I have no capacity apart from His grace, not even to hold on to Him. It is He who holds on to me and knows how to bring me out of my comforts and stir my passion. That is not to say that I am complacent remaining in a position of laziness but His very Spirit living in me won't let me go. What we can do is miss out on great opportunities of service here on earth--advancing His Kingdom and living on the way to living. Sadly most Christians are dying on the way to living and most unbelievers the other way around. Oh, Father, stir us up with passion and don't let us become too comfortable or lukewarm. This is the cry of my heart whenever I sense just a tad of complacency.

    As far as the passion in the youth minister, it is not so much age or the years on the journey that determine passion but as His Word says in Luke 7:47, "I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

    Thanks for sharing this. Blessings to you!

  3. Kim -

    I think my attitude is pitiful. God has been sending me this message for some time now. The fact that my passion for the lost pales in comparison to this youth pastor tells me I have a ways to go. Thanks for stopping by.

    One Heart -

    I certainly agree. I know that without God I can do nothing, but with God all things are possible. I believe that even includes my passion. Thanks for expanding on this.

    Blessings to both of you!

  4. Agreed - we are far too comfortable.

    Here for the Friday Follows - now following you! Hope to see you at Dropped Stitches!

    xo Erin

  5. Erin -

    Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend!