The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, “A DEPARTURE”
Welcome to The Training Table for some nourishing sustenance specially cooked-up to help sustain The Feast of the Heart Vision, “…to help bring about Christ-centered reformation—restoration of pure doctrine, revival—a restoration in the Christian’s personal life, and constructive revolution—a return to pure doctrine and the Spirit-filled life so that God will be glorified and people blessed.”
Today’s meal is a temporary DEPARTURE from our most nourishing fare of The Belgic Confession of Faith. This installment of The Planks of the Faith might be described as a “wake-up call” I was blessed enough to be exposed to in the past week.
It ties in very nicely with all of the great foundational work we have been exploring in the past several months. Why? Because, in my humble opinion, it reflects some very real and very troubling issues that will ALWAYS occur when we abandon God’s foundational truths and most merciful love in favor of lesser gods.
As an aside, it might provide some interesting context to point out that, as I serve up this fare that I hope is a feast for your heart, I’m flying over the Colorado Rockies on the way to the desert country of Moab Utah: Lest we forget… God (Father, Son, Holy Sprit) is The Creator and The Sustainer of the universe!
Let’s get sober… If we don’t believe this deep down in the bones, Beloved, we should be more honest by raising a glass with all the exuberance associated with being mere food for worms, immortalized by nothing more than the charred remains of a speck of dirt named earth… or, more personally, “The Cinders, John and Jane Doe”. If the God of the Bible doesn’t exist, nothing else matters.
The Plight of the Secularized Church
Even though I’m well aware of the requirement of man to be very careful in criticizing The Bride of Christ (in the form of the supernatural or institutional church), please consider the following loving and truthful remarks by Dr. Harry Reeder, Senior Minister of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham Alabama. It ties in perfectly with the planks of The Feast of the Heart noted above (reformation, revival, and constructive revolution) as well.
“We are in need of a Gospel-saturated spiritual awakening. The last true Gospel awakening, from which we are still receiving many benefits, was in the eighteenth century. But the reality is this: There will be no awakening without an authentic revival in the church. Why? Because the instrument God uses to deliver a Gospel awakening is His C(c)hurch.
Therein lies the problem. The fundamental reason there is no Gospel awakening is that the contemporary church languishes in ministry lethargy, spiritual impotence, biblical illiteracy, and trendy fascinations. A God-given, heaven-sent revival is desperately needed. But are we desperate for God’s sovereign, soul-searching, and life-changing grace to move?
An honest assessment of the contemporary church reveals that we are neither desperate for nor desirous of a heaven-sent revival. For multiple reasons, we have become satisfied with man-sent revival substitutes that are not only inadequate but actually counterproductive and contribute to the ineffectiveness of today’s church.
There is an infallible indicator as to whether a revival is heaven-sent or man-sent. Man-sent revivals (which are not revival but self-absorbed religious manipulations) are marked by preoccupations with personal, momentary experiences, preferably delivered instantaneously. A heaven-sent revival, in contrast, produces lasting effects through a protracted commitment to the means God has ordained and designed to deliver authentic revival.
Heaven-sent revivals come through ordinary people who, compelled by the True Love and True Truth of Jesus Christ (not a made-up christ—cobbled together to be savior of our goals and lord over our independence), surrender all to Him. Revival comes when believers realize that, “without Him, I can nothing,” but also that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Philippians 2; 4:13). (Dr. Harry Reeder—parenthesis added)
Put another way, heaven-sent revivals are empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself, in and through us, and by believing and practicing The Planks of the Faith we have been ingesting for some time!
“Got Lapsing? What’s Leading, and Lagging?”: As the Church Goes, So Goes the Culture
Since the God of the Bible designed the church to be the light of the world (revealing True Truth, exposing falsehood) and the salt of the world (stemming the decay that naturally flows from sin, entropy, death), when the church lapses, goes awry (gets secular, losing more and more of its light and saltiness over time), there’s always an array of problems—which begins with spiritual darkness, decline… and flows outward (to intellectual, worldview, emotional, physical, cultural, political, educational, institutional, etc) from there.
Please chew on the stats below. Hopefully you comprehend the reality, consider some of the implications, and start to apply how you might best glorify God, and bless yourself and others by how you live out your life in Christ.
Only 15% of surveyed adults said they felt calm and peaceful all the time in the previous 30 days.
Only 19% of adults strongly agreed that they are satisfied with their life.
Only 21% of adults strongly agreed that their life has a clear sense of purpose.
Only 30% of adults strongly agreed that on most days they feel a sense of accomplishment from what they do.
Only 9.8% of adults strongly agreed that their life is close to their ideal.
Only 11% of adults felt cheerful all the time in the previous 30 days.
Only 13% of adults felt full of life all the time in the previous 30 days.
I would venture to say that, since this survey was conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 (gathered by Peter Novelli, WSJ, April 16, 2012), the stats have deteriorated more still.
Every one of the statistics relates directly or indirectly to the fact that, when a person or peoples attempt to live in a freefall, devoid of the rock-solid foundations of a Biblical conversion, belief, faith, eternal hope, and a submitted servant life, their life will be plagued by the sorts of “lagging indicators”—as sited sited above.
Honestly, for me, this reality (the incremental and sure declination of church first, culture second, human spirit third…) is heartbreaking:
RE: “Adults”… humankind… are Image Bearers of God Almighty, Holy Trinity, Beyond Supreme, Infinitely Divine, Unspeakably Worthy, Eternally Preexistent, Glory Above All in the Highest… Ad Infinitum!
The Church Revived… Biblical conversion, belief, faith, eternal hope, and a servant life will put the above stats NOT ONLY through the roof, but placed firmly in eternity as the universal attributes of God’s image redeemed in us—on the most personal basis imaginable!
Comprehension, Implication, Application: “As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord…”
Please allow me to offer some questions below that will help provide some reference points and potential recalibration. Please consider the stimuli below not only in the context of your own life, but also in potential ways that those nearest and dearest to you might be implicated and transformed (Romans 12:1-2).
30,000’: What do I comprehend? In the most meaningful, emphatic and concise form possible, what are the top five most important “Big Picture” realities I (now or did already) understand concerning what has been stated above?
Ground Zero: What do I see as the implications? In the most meaningful, emphatic, and concise form possible, what are the top three cultural and personal implications have I experienced in my own spheres of concern and/or influence?
The Heart of the Matter: What do I see as some possible life applications? In the most meaningful, emphatic, and concise form possible, what are the top five most important ways can I change the hopes, hang-up’s, highlights, and habits of my life in order to re-commit my life to being The Church’s (as The Body and as a vital member of a local church) light, salt, and a radical change agent?
The Community of the Faith: The Spirit released… with some skin in the game! With what committed person or small and accountable group of people will I share the above revelations SO THAT I will walk the talk of faith in word, deed, and pure excitement that my change can change the world—for time and in eternity?
Long and well may you run the good race,