Sunday, June 24, 2012
Do You Remember God?
By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service
SWARTZ CREEK MI (ANS) -- When you write books, or blogs, you never know in advance -– and, usually, even afterwards -– who your readers are. In my Christian writing, I begin every work the same way I advise writers I mentor: pray that you honor and please God, but also lift up the readers you don’t see and probably will never know. Our job is to plant seeds, not reap harvests.
In this short piece, however, I DO target specific readers: not curious web surfers nor casual Christians; but rather the “subset” of readers who are committed Christians, on-fire believers, dedicated church workers, lay volunteers, teachers, missions workers, youth workers. You fit these descriptions, and perhaps you came to know Christ in a personal and powerful way many years ago. Your life has been changed, ever since.
For those of you in this group, I have a question:
Do you remember God?
Is the God you serve, and to whom you pray, the same One you met when the Gospel miraculously and joyfully invaded your soul? Are you still surprised by Him every day? Is Forgiveness still something that you crave, and cherish, and share? Does the message of salvation astonish you, and humble you, every time you think of it? Does the sacrifice of Jesus’s passion and death still grieve your soul -– and does the miracle of Resurrection thrill you like nothing else?
Did you once shout Hallelujahs in church, and now you merely say the word without passion? Do you shed tears, any more, of sorrow or joy like you once did? Is it possible that your “faith walk” has become, not a challenge nor a privilege, but a habit?
I am qualified to ask these questions because I have come face to face with them, often pleading Guilty. Many times do I MISS the early bloom of New Faith: the excitement, the spiritual hunger, the doubts and the overcoming of doubts, the really real realization that I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.
How do we reclaim the exhilaration of becoming not just a Child of God but a Baby of the King? That is our task, and its answer is within our grasp; just because these pitfalls are common does not mean they are inevitable or incurable. Stay in the Word, and proceed on your faith walk, as it were, on your knees.
But here are some factors I nominate as signals that very good Christian religionists might be slipping from the ranks of very good Christ followers:
You love your church! But do you find yourself, when recommending it to others, talking about the programs and activities… and, less, how Jesus is mightily proclaimed?
You love the worship team; maybe you are a part of it; you tell others about the awesome music. Is it possible, by the evidence of your testimony, that you are more in love with the worship than with the One who is to be worshiped? Do you leave church talking about a new revelation of Truth, or the awesome guitar solo?
Does your pastor interrupt his own greeting with admonitions that the congregation didn’t yell “good morning” to his satisfaction; or that people aren’t smiling enough? What about people who enter a church, risking the Cheerful Police, in order to lay in front of the altar, crying unto the Lord? Such hurting souls seem unwelcome in some of today’s “churches.”
Your involvement in projects, in small groups, in kids’ activities, even social and service work –- is it all church-related? And is that good? Are we pulling up the blankets around us, creating a comfy Christian ghetto, when all is said and done?
I have a suspicion that the Lord grieves when our pattern of “reaching out” to others, so called, leaves the nurture of our own souls behind. After half a millennium, the “gospel of works” is alive and well.
This is not an “either-or” situation for Christians, whether they are “old” or “new” believers. Yet we tend it make it so. I suspect further that God is more honored, and likely is more pleased, that we cherish and cultivate our own spiritual needs first. Public libraries host book-review groups; neighborhood clubs go on day trips; and the Colonel is always there for the fried chicken. Let the church be used again for seeking, and worshiping, God Almighty, once in a while!
Do you remember God? Remember this: He has never forgotten you, nor cooled nor changed. It is not in His nature, and should be resisted in ours.
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A song that many people cite as describing their initial, impactful, encounter with the Living God, is “In the Garden,” sometimes called “I Come to the Garden Alone.” This year marks the centennial of several memorable events: the sinking of The Titanic, which will always be a compelling story; the exciting Bull Moose campaign of Theodore Roosevelt, a watershed in American history; and the composition of this precious gospel song. C. Austin Miles wrote “In the Garden” in 1912, and uncountable people have felt an affinity with its beautiful tune and narrative, over the ensuing century. In line with today’s message, note that the first line says, “I come to the Garden ALONE…” Showbiz aside, the Lord wants to meet us one-on-one. Perhaps with lilacs, lupine, and hydrangeas on all sides.
Click: In the Garden
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.