The Churches that Couldn’t Be Bothered

One of the saddest things in the world to watch is a plant that springs up with life and joy, only to wither and die before your eyes.  One moment there is hope; the next — death.  My heart is heavy as I think about someone I dearly love.  She seemed to be taking steps toward a new life in Christ, and then abruptly turned back to the world.

You see, I don’t live near her, and I knew that she did not have any Christian friends or a church to support and help her grow.  So I called three different churches in her area in a somewhat desperate attempt to find someone who would care.

At the first church, I talked to the associate pastor.  I told him about the situation, and he actually asked me what I wanted him to do.  Say what???  What do I want you to do???  I want you to go visit my friend.  I want you to introduce some Christian people to her.  I want you to personally invite her to your church.  I want you to reach out and care about her salvation!

The second church I called seemed more promising.  I told the two people I talked to there about the first church.  They both said that was appalling.  I felt encouraged.  This was a very large church, with lots of programs… maybe they would reach out!  But when the rubber met the road, they could send no one to meet her… they could send no one to give her a ride to church… they were apparently much too busy taking care of all those believers already gathered there to do… well… anything.*

The third church I called was very small and located extremely close to her.  The best I could get out of them is that they would call and leave a message on her phone inviting her to come to a ladies Christmas party.

That’s it.

One night, this friend called me.  She was sobbing uncontrollably, “If I follow God I’m going to lose all my friends, and I’m already so lonely!”  The anguish in her voice stuck in my chest like a rusty knife and CUT MY HEART OUT!

This little plant sprang up with joy.  I did all I could, from hundreds of miles away, to give it good roots.  I mailed wonderful Biblical materials, sermons, books, a study Bible… I even Skyped with her, trying as hard as I could to give her a foundation by reading the Bible with her.  But in the end, I watched the plant begin to wilt.  It had no deep roots — and so it withered and died.

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” ~ Matthew 13:20-21

The churches in her area couldn’t be bothered to expend time, effort, and energy to reach out to someone who is lost, desperately lonely, and sad to the marrow of her bones.

Am I bitter** toward those churches?

Yes, honestly, I am.

Now for the harder question:  Would I have behaved any differently?  If someone contacted me about a loved one that they had been sharing the gospel with, would I sit on my hands and find reasons to never go visit that person?  I hope to God not.  I hope to God that I would be stirred in my spirit to be active in fulfilling the Greatest Commission:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20

One final note… Do I know that salvation belongs to the Lord?  Am I aware that His will is never thwarted and that ALL whom He calls will come to Him?  Do I know that God will save this loved one if He chooses to save her — despite the acts of any number of human beings — including these churches.  Yes.  I am pointedly and powerfully aware of this fact.  Salvation–from start to finish–is a work of the Lord.

Knowing all that, do I still hold bitterness** toward those churches?

I can hardly help it… yes I do.

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* After this post went live, I was contacted by one of the people from this church.  It seems that she did made attempts to make contact with my loved one through Facebook and has been keeping her in prayer.  That is something I am grateful for, and I wanted to make sure it was mentioned.

**As for my bitterness, it has been pointed out to me by one friend that these feelings might be better classified as “grief.”  But I’m not sure.  It certainly feels bitter.  If this is sin, then please pray that the Lord would reveal that to me and help me be rid of it.

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Sinkhole to Hell

2010 giant sinkhole in Guatemala City

You’ve got to see this giant sinkhole in Guatemala City caused by tropical storm Agatha! This 30 story deep hole swallowed nearly an entire city block in 2010. Can you imagine the horror??? One minute you’re drinking a cup of coffee, chatting with a friend… and the next split second the entire world drops out from under you! Nearly 120 people died in that tropical storm.

If death comes for you today will you enter the everlasting wrath of Almighty God for your many sins against Him? Or will you be miraculously transported to eternal paradise because you turned from your sins (repentance) and begged that the perfect blood of Jesus cover you (faith)? There is no in between place — neither the word nor the concept of purgatory can be found anywhere in the pages of the bible — you will be in Heaven or Hell.

I have several people that I love that I continually worry about. If death visits them tonight — sealing their choice forever — they will be in Hell. Each one thinks they have time… time to turn, time to change, time to turn over a new leaf. But the only time any of us have is this one moment–this one breath. Death looms ready to snatch you instantly, anywhere, at any age, and at any health level.

We’ve seen thousands of people go to work one morning, and be blown to bits by Muslims hijacking jets. A tsunami out of nowhere kills hundreds of thousands, a bridge collapses taking commuters to a watery grave, people go to see a movie and never come home again. Little children, and teachers, innocently going through another bland work day are instantly standing before God. Do you think that as they brushed their teeth that morning they had any idea that is where they would be standing that night?

Do you really think you have forever to turn to God in repentance? They didn’t.

Come to your senses! Forsake your sin! Throw it away! Destroy it! Hate it! Because your love of sin (particularly sexual sin) will drag you all the way to Hell –you must repent. Your sin, no matter how pleasurable, is not worth it. Listen to Jesus, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it far from you! For it would be better to go to Heaven missing a limb, than to have two good hands and be thrown into the fire of eternal torment where the worm doesn’t die and the flame is not quenched!” (Mark 9:43-44)

Wake up. Please. It is a horror to know where you are heading and not be able to make you understand! It’s like being forced to watch someone you love eat spoonful after spoonful of poison. You try desperately to warn them and they keep insisting “But it’s so good!” Or, “I know, I know… I’m planning on stopping.”

“Today” the bible says “is the day of salvation.” The reason it says that is that you don’t own tomorrow… you don’t even rent it. You only have this moment in time to turn from your love of your sin to the mercy and forgiveness offered in Jesus.

Salvation is a limited time offer.