Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Thoughts From Ezekiel


As I read the last few chapters of Ezekiel today two things impressed me. One was how often Ezekiel mentioned "the glory of the Lord" and his reaction to it was usually the same..."and I fell on my face" in chapter 43, verse 3, and then in chapter 44, verse 4 once again, "And I fell on my face."

I couldn't help but contrast the reaction of the prophet of God with how many of us are sometimes. We go to church as if it is just a weekly appointment, not a time to worship God. We treat church as if we can take it or leave it...and maybe that is because in our experience we have never encountered the glory of God when we worship. Other times I have heard people (myself included), say things such as, "When I stand before God, I have a lot of questions for Him." Based on what I read in Ezekiel, I get the impression that questions will be kind of difficult to express when we are face down on the ground due to the majestic holiness of the glory of God.

We must realign our thinking to that of Scripture. God is not an old man in a rocking chair, nor is he sitting on cloud somewher pontificating about the sin in the universe, and He is certainly not "the big guy upstairs". He is also not some buddy that we will slap on the back when we finally get to heaven. He is GOD! GOD! GOD! And He is alltogether not like us, high above us and so different and set apart from us that we have to hide our face when we encounter His glory! Rich Mullins was right when he sang, "Our God is an awesome God". In fact, that song is so rich, and yet many have not heard all of it, as usually just the chorus is sung in most churches. Here are the lyrics, with all the verses:

When He rolls up His sleeves
He ain't just putting on the ritz
(Our God is an awesome God)
There's thunder in His footsteps
And lightning in His fists
(Our God is an awesome God)
And the Lord wasn't joking
When He kicked 'em out of Eden
It wasn't for no reason
That He shed His blood
His return is very close
And so you better be believing that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God


And when the sky was starless
In the void of the night
(Our God is an awesome God)
He spoke into the darkness
And created the light
(Our God is an awesome God)
Judgement and wrath He poured out on Sodom
Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not
Too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God


Our God is an awesome God
(Our God is an awesome God)
He reigns from heaven above
(He reigns from heaven above)
With wisdom, power, and love
(With wisdom, power, and love)
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God

Ok, that was the first thing that impressed me...just how awesome God truly is and how we treat Him as so much less than that. The second thing was this verse (23), found in chapter 44, speaking of the priests: "they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean."

I thought of comparing this to the pastors of the church today. I thought of myself as a pastor. Do I teach the people the difference between the holy and the common? Do the people of God today realize that they have been set apart for a purpose...that they are now holy...and do we live like holy people, or like common people? Now there is nothing wrong with "common", but "common" is not "holy"...and why would you settle for a common life, when you have been set apart for a holy life? I thought of all the mindless entertainment I used to consume...not bad stuff...but nothing that would point to my life as anything other than common. I'm not here trying to put a yoke of legalism on anyone, simply trying to express my own thoughts on the fact that I may have lived a more common life than a truly holy one, a truly set apart life.

Then there is that part about the clean and the unclean. I don't think many Christians even think about this any more. We have become a culture where being a Christian is just something you do on Sundays...and the result is that we no longer influence society, instead society tends to influence us. Somewhere along the way the church has bought into the lie that we can receive forgiveness of our sins and yet never abandon our lives to Jesus. The Scriptures know of no such salvation. In a book I am reading right now called, "Costly Grace" by Jon Walker, he states, "Costly grace justifies the sinner: Go and sin no more. Cheap grace justifies the sin: Everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are." Sadly, cheap grace is run amok in the churches in the western world.

May we as shepherds of the flocks that God has graciously given us be about the business of teaching the difference between the common and the holy, and between the clean and the unclean.

Ok, so there's that,
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thoughts On Ezekiel


Been reading Ezekiel this week and I should finish it by tomorrow, so I thought I'd share some passaged and thoughts on the last few chapters that I read.

Chapter 33 is familar to many, with the analogy of the watchman often used to show how we are responsible to warn the lost that judgment is coming. Here are verses 1-9:

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for[a] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

It just got me to thinking about the "job" of the church. If we are not leading people to Jesus...taking the gospel out of the four walls and into the street, then no matter what else we are doing, it really amounts to nothing more than rearanging the furniture while the house burns down around us.

I wonder how many Christians, how many churches really believe in hell. I wonder how many really believe that people will die and go there and burn forever without Jesus? I wonder, because I don't see a lot of churches reaching the lost...maybe it is just MY church...maybe we are the only ones with the problem...but I have to come to the realization that the guy next door is on his way to hell...and the guy acorss the street, and the one at the corner...I have to let this sink in...and maybe, maybe it will cause me to move, to take action.

I understand that we cannot make people believe, and that it is not our job to make them believe even if we could. But it is our job to take the message to them, to warn them of their condition.

Yes, it will be inconvienient. I know it might make us a little uncomfortable. And maybe that is the root problem. The job the church was given, commissioned by Christ Himself to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, has been seen, not as the normal life of a believer, but instead it is seen as an option. After all, it seems that too many believers won't even adjust their schedule to make a church service, much less adjust their lives to reach the lost. What's sad is that there has to be an adjustment at all.

Isn't the proclaimation fo the gospel supposed to be a part of the normal Christian life? Isn't the church called to be the watchman to the world? If the watchman does not sound the alarm...then who will?

Thoughts on Ezekiel...thoughts on the church...thoughts on me. Lord, give me the boldness, the passion and the love for the lost so that I will set the trumpet to my mouth and sound the alarm.

Just some thoughts...
Pastor Dave

Monday, March 28, 2011

A God Sized Vision

Sometimes I am amazed at my ability to drop the ball (spiritually speaking), to get complacent, to coast, to let things ride, to just go through the motions. A few months ago I was so very fired up about this blog...ready to go, both guns blazing...and then three months went by and

It has only been in the last week that God has shaken me to my very core. He has convicted me of my sin, driven me to my knees, and shown me the coldness of my heart. He has served up a plate of steaming, tasty food in His Word! I have devoured the written Word of God as never before, and renewed my commitment to be not only a man of the Word, but a man of prayer, and a man who seeks the face of God.

As a part of this process He has done two things that have led me to this point. First he directed me to a book that has caused me to question the state of the church in America as never before. I am more sure than ever before that if Revival does not come to the church in the United States of America, that judgement will. For the sake of our children, and our childrens children, but even more for the glory of God Almighty, the church must once again march on her knees, cry out to God to send the Holy Spirit with fire and wind and for God to bend us towards Him, His ways, His Word, and His throne.

The book that has impacted me is this one: "A God Sized Vision - Revival Stories That Stretch And Stir" by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge:

Room does not allow me to post all the quotes that are recorded in this book by those who lived through past revivals. But I will post this one by Jonathan Goforth, who was used to bring revival to China in the early 1900's. The quote is not really about revival, but it is inspiring to me as it reveals the heart of this missionary when it comes to revival and the plight the church in the US finds herself in:

"Brethren, the Spirit of God is with us still. Pentecost is yet within our grasp. If revival is being witheld from us it is because some idols remain enthroned; because we still insist on placing our reliance on human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that 'it is not by might, but BY MY SPIRIT.'"

To be honest, if you can read this book and not be moved...if you can read this book and not desire to see revival in your lifetime, well, you don't need to be revived, you need to be resurrected.

The second thing He did was inspire me to preach the boldest most evangelistic sermon that I have ever preached in my life...and with good reason. The Sunday that I preached this message, two people showed up who did not know the Lord...and one of them has cancer, and it is terminal. Although they did not respond to the message and accept Christ, the intensity of the Spirit that morning was evident. I cried more during this message than any other as I sensed that here was someone who was knocking on the very door of death itself and yet would refuse the offer of eternal life. In my heart as I was preaching God began to speak to me that I needed to share my faith more, that as a pastor I was to teach the church, but as a Christian I am to take the gospel to the lost and the dying and the hellbound. I got a very clear picture of hell in my minds eye....and I cannot be quiet any longer.

My desire is to be used by God and to sacrifice anything and everything that takes away from this goal. I want to pour my life and love into my wife, to give myself to my children, to shepherd the church God has given me with the heart of the Great Shepherd, to pour my life out as an offering to the One who has given me not only the purpose of my life, by my very life itself. I want to have a broken heart for the lost and a fresh heart for the Lord and His people.

Part of that, I pray, will include firing up this blog once again. How often I will post I do not know, but this one thing I do know, that God has called me to a work and I dare not fall asleep on the job. I pray that from this day on I will be found ever pressing on to the high calling in Christ Jesus.

Join me in praying for the church, for the lost and if you would be so kind, pray for me as I embark on the next stretch of my journey on the God trail.

No turning back,
Pastor Dave