Publication:Pastoral Letter, April 2018
Dear Friend in Christ,
I pray this letter finds you well and enjoying a blessed Springtime! I believe this Pastoral Letter is especially timely, and trust you will find it inspiring. Let me say that my purpose is not to criticize but to stimulate us to act in accordance with the will of God. The inertia of good people opens the door for evil acts.
In recent weeks, we witnessed the demonic act of one young man murdering 17 students at a Florida school. Some saw the signs that pointed to that evil act but were inert. Others acted and saved lives, in spite of great danger. Some were inert but others were involved in acts of heroism.
When I was in high school, I recall a day that a group of us went over to our local swimming hole. While I was swimming in the pond, a friend on the bank hollered out, “There is a snake following you!” I quickly got out of the water as the snake swam past me and headed toward another boy on the bank. He froze and would have been bitten, but another boy hit the snake with a tree limb and killed it! One boy was inert; the other got involved in spite of the risk.
We all owe a great debt those who get involved to save our lives, our liberty, and our souls. I believe that God has called us to be involved in helping others, even when that puts us at risk. Inertia is lacking the ability, the strength, or will to change or move in the face of a challenge.
Daniel 11:32 tells us that those who know their God will show strength and take action. The apostle Paul warns of a form of godliness that denies the power of God (see 2 Timothy 3:5). A true relationship with God inspires and supports action. Moses told the tribes who stayed east of the Jordan River, “Don’t sit here while your brothers go to war.” The Bible tells us to face the challenge with action and get involved.
I don’t need to remind you that we face serious challenges here in 2018. Some of these challenges are personal and others are cultural. We recently lost a very great yet humble man, Billy Graham. He responded to the call of God to act, and affected the lives of millions of people. I met him in 1974 at a conference and was deeply impressed by his unassuming humility.
I recently listened to a talk that he made approximately 20 years ago to a large group of business and technology leaders. In the talk, he pointed out both the blessings and limits of technology, and he focused upon three challenges that technology cannot solve: evil, suffering, and death. He pointed out that only Jesus can enable us to deal with those challenges.
The problem of evil, such as that revealed at the Florida high school, creates many additional challenges which only the Gospel can address. The further we move away from the Gospel, the greater the number of challenges that confront us; many are life threatening. It is important to understand, and not be inert. I believe that Christian inertia has created a vacuum into which evil involvement flows.
Many challenges have arisen in our culture, including the rising control of secularism in communication, education, and every other area of our lives. The impact of that has affected family, identity, economics, accountability, politics, and a host of other spheres in life. We could add to the list with issues such as crime, violence, and the incalculable cost of addictions.
We must not merely address symptoms but find the roots and, like Billy Graham did, we need to recognize that the roots lie in human weakness, sin, and rejection of Jesus. Only the Cross — dying to self and receiving the Risen Lord — holds the cure. Too often, we try other measures, which have left us passive toward the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus. Cultural correctness has muted our voices and dimmed our lights. A message without a Cross is a message without a cure.
Jesus was very clear when calling His disciples: “Take up your cross and follow me.” His Cross lay in confronting the culture such as recorded in Matthew 23. He was not, and is not, inert. He went beyond confronting to prophesying their destruction unless they repented. He was bold and involved in dealing with their hollow religion and culture to the point of His own Crucifixion.
Many people knew the truth of what Jesus said but remained inert, passive, and fearful of the authorities and of Rome. So it is in our time that many “Christians” see the potential cost and do little to confront the culture with truth, lead people to Christ, or make disciples. The “gospel” that they want is how to get more blessings. That will all be tested.
God tests by fire whatever we build (see 1 Corinthians 3:13). He tested Israel on numerous occasions. What we are now doing or not doing also will be tested. The results of our inertia will test us and are already doing so.
Like Gideon, we gather thousands and will be winnowed down to hundreds. But what finally resulted in Gideon’s army were men who had discipline, obedience, trumpets, torches, and pitchers that they were willing to break. Most of all, they had God’s help! Then they tested the enemy. In the end, God got all the glory because it was His. The solution lies in the power of God; that is our hope (see Zechariah 4:6).
When some Christians see the size of the opposition, their hearts fail in fear; but others turn to God for hope. Israel’s army stood in awe and fear of Goliath, but David slew the giant. He had a heart after God’s own heart; he got involved. We eulogize David and many other heroes, but can we be like David? We can, if we place our hope in the Lord, the God of hope. We must first realize that victory is not in our power or size, it is in Jesus. I love the hymn, “Victory in Jesus” (Eugene Bartlett, 1939) as well as the more recent song “Overcome” (Jon Eagan, 2007).
Perhaps if we get weary of the oppressive “Midianites” as in Gideon’s time, the Church will arise in God and cause His enemies to be scattered (see Psalm 68:1). Our hope must be placed in the Lord when all other hope is gone.
Another great hymn is “Christ the Solid Rock” (Edward Mote, 1836). “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
In 1 Samuel 14:6, Jonathan and his Armor Bearer faced overwhelming odds but Jonathan said, “God is able to save by many or by few.” Romans 8:31 declares, “If God is for us, who could be against us.”
The apostle Peter tells us that we have all we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). The apostle Paul declares God as “the God of hope” (see Romans 15:13). David declares “Our help is in the name of the Lord” (see Psalm 124:8).
The Bible is filled with hope, even the “Blessed Hope” of resurrection when we place our trust in the Lord. If our hope and trust is in the Lord, we will not fear the battle but will become involved, as Gideon, David, and the countless others who won our liberty, protected us in danger, “killed the snake”, or preached the real Gospel in the face of criticism and attacks. If so, we will act in faith regardless of costs.
We can criticize, analyze, compromise, and proselytize, but that will not win battles. To win, we must act in faith under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We must learn that Jesus is the captain of the armies of Heaven and the Holy Spirit is the guide in strategies and battles. We must develop a renewed sensitivity to Him on a personal level. Here are some things that He might lead us to do:
- Pray, fast, and seek God. (Derek Prince has some excellent teaching on these subjects available on YouTube or via derekprince.org.)
- Share our faith, the Gospel of Jesus, with others and be willing to disciple those who respond.
- Be sensitive to those in need—they are most likely to respond.
- Forgive those who trespass against us and reveal the grace we hope to receive.
- Support godly leaders and ministries who are doing what we are not called to do.
- Fill our minds with faith-building material and avoid mental garbage.
- Pray for all our leaders in every arena. It is more difficult to criticize after praying for them.
- Start the changes in our own lives and families.
I am sure that you could add to the action items; but act and do not procrastinate. Procrastination is inertia by another name. Find those of like mind and mutually encourage one another in the God-given call to act. We learn as we act; we get better as we go. Turn failure into fertilizer for future success! I believe that God delights more in the failures of those who try and fail than He does in those who fail to try.
We all love to see a miracle; I know I do. But remember, miracles most often happen to those who see their need and call upon God. We may not see the immediate results of our prayers because timing is in His hands. I recall asking a man, “Do you know Jesus?” His reply was, “That is none of your business!” But later he received Christ.
Inertia robs us of that first vital step; without it, we never see the possible results. Involvement starts us on the exciting road to making a difference in someone’s life and even our own. Bear in mind that personal consequence is not the issue; obeying the Holy Spirit is.
One of my callings is to teach the Bible. I confess that too often it only leads to mere knowledge without action. Our goal is not to produce “smart Christians”; it is to produce obedient, involved believers. I pray that you are one of those or that you will become one.
If the Lord has impressed upon you some direction and you are getting involved, write to me. I would love to hear from you!
Yes, we need wisdom; ask for it. But, true wisdom in these times does not produce inertia; it produces involvement. My prayers are with you and I deeply appreciate your friendship!
P.S. Please continue to pray for CSM this month, and remember us in your giving. Spring is a time of great opportunity, but also great opposition and challenge. We are excited about the upcoming May 8-10 Gatlinburg Conference where the theme is “Celebrating the Goodness of God”. We would love to see you there—the time to register is right now! Visit us online at csmpublishing.org or call (888) 811-2276.
scriptures:DANIEL 11:32; 2 TIMOTHY 3:5; MATTHEW 23; 1 CORINTHIANS 3:13; ZECHARIAH 4:6; 1 SAMUEL 14:6; ROMANS 8:31; 2 PETER 1:3; ROMANS 15:13; PSALM 124:8