According to a news report, there was an exam given at Ohio State University containing a question which indicated that Christians just are not as smart as atheists. Only a case of severe ignorance or amnesia could cause one to fail to note that the very discipline of scientific discovery arose from a Christian worldview. The deeply held conviction of Christians that the world was created by God in an orderly and designed fashion led naturally to the exploration of that design. An actual study was done to learn about the people with the highest registered I.Q. in the world and the results fly in the face of the current notion that “atheists are just smarter.” Of the ten highest ranking people whose intelligence has been measured, eight of them are theists, and six of the eight are Christians. How’s that for a statistic? Without meaning to do so the close minded professor has raised another question. Why are atheist so self absorbed? One of the more interesting observations that I have ever heard is that Christianity actually opens the mind. The Christian faith invites exploration and testing. God challenges us in the Scriptures to test and prove him. Believers didn’t bring this subject up, but don’t fall for the drivel that you cannot be intelligent and Christian. The facts just don’t even come close to suggesting such a thing.
This summer we have the largest number of people engaging in mission trips in our history. The largest group is going to Oregon. There will be forty three in that group. They leave this weekend. Another group of eighteen leaves for Myanmar today. Our Moldova team was the second largest group that we have sent to Eastern Europe. They had a great experience and shared the gospel with thousands by children’s ministry and bible distribution. All of this activity and more raises a question among some as to why this is important.
1. It is important because of the command of Jesus. Jesus said we would be witnesses where we are and also to the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts 1:8) You will never realize the true magnitude of the church and her task if you never engage in missions.
2. It is important because of how lost the world is. In many parts of the world the church is weak and outnumbered and struggles to even get the attention of the population around them. Just the presence of groups of committed Christians who have come a distance to touch lives raises the visibility and importance of those believers who live in the midst of a host of unbelievers. They suddenly are seen as valuable people to those around who marvel at the guests who have come to work with them.
3. It is important because of the opportunity for spiritual growth. Most people who have engaged in missions will tell you that their sense of their spiritual gifts and abilities have been greatly expanded while serving in one of these adventures. They truly are spiritual adventures in which you can sense the presence of the Lord and his pleasure at the efforts you are making to touch a lost and dying world. You have the opportunity to witness the power of the gospel and the impact the message of Jesus can make in the lives of people. This is life changing for you as well as those you touch.
I could go on of course. There are many other reasons. Let me close with this. Why is Crestview Baptist Church such a unique church? I submit to you that it is directly related to the way so many of our people have moved from being spectators to participants in ministry. There is nothing so transformational as making the choice to truly be the Body of Christ doing the things he did to change the world. “UNTO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL AGES, WORLD WITHOUT END.” (EPHESIANS 3:21)
I had no sooner posted on the need for awakening in America until I received an email which extensively quoted Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham who was calling for urgent prayer in the first seven days of July for revival in our nation. She shares the same convictions that the Lord has impressed upon me. I urge all who read this to commit to special prayer for national awakening beginning tomorrow. She also calls for a seven hour fast on the seventh of July. I will plan to participate in this emphasis each day and in the fast on the seventh day. As if this statement by Mrs. Graham Lotz was not enough, this afternoon, I took my first look at Joel Rosenburg’s book IMPLOSION. Joel shares his personal insight that we will either have revival or ruin in America. I have been having the same sense of alarm in my own heart. I spoke this in one of my two sermons on Sunday and noticed the surprise on the faces of many in the room. Many of us are asleep aboard the Titanic. It is time to awaken!
I must pause from my series of blogs about Israel and speak on an urgent subject. I have become keenly aware that we are at a watershed moment as a nation. Through the years, I have often sensed an urgency for America to turn to God with a fresh vigor and faith. However, none of those times were nearly so dark as the hour upon which we have arrived today. As a part of the baby boomer generation, I have lived through the great days of the fifties and sixties when churches were springing up everywhere and people commonly agreed on the importance of faith. I also saw the Jesus movement of the seventies and its hopeful signs of renewal. The mega-churches of the eighties through the present have obscured the demise of a nation dotted with thriving small congregations. We now live in an era of empty or nearly empty churches that once thrived in America. I have read article after article by distressed Christian leaders at the demise of the American churches. This is occurring at a time when the forces of secularism are working tirelessly to wipe away the history and culture of America as it relates to our heritage of faith.
Many Americans do not realize that we have been here before. Before the American revolution, an awakening occurred which many credit as having not only caused rapid growth in the church, but unified the colonies into a sense of their common cause and heritage. Old divisions were dealt with by the moving of God’s spirit and a fledgling nation began to emerge which would have the force of vision to take on a superpower for their independence. That time is referred to in American history as the First Great Awakening. From roughly 1790 to 1830, the Second Great Awakening occurred. It came at a time when the secularization of Europe was creeping into America, and the heroes of the young were the skeptics and atheists of Europe. Many pinpoint the arrival of Timothy Dwight as the president of Yale as the beginning of this great movement of God. The spiritual demise was reversed and the great century of evangelism and world missions was born and lasted throughout the 1800′s even through the American Civil War. This time was greatly enhanced at the end of the eighteen hundreds by a layman’s prayer meeting revival that swept the nation.
Lord, do it again!
It is amazing how you can look at maps and teach and preach for decades and still not have a grasp of a place. Sitting under a pavilion on the shores of the Jordan near where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist crystallized the event in my mind. There we were just a few miles north of the Dead Sea. The muddy Jordan had many guests who were being baptized. We had also done baptisms but had chosen the clear waters near the Sea of
Galilee for our site. Here Jordanian soldiers face Israeli soldiers day after day insuring the security of the border. Bethany is just across the river from us. There are steps down to the river from both sides. We sang praise songs as we meditated on what happened here. It was here that God spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit made a visible descent at the baptism of Jesus. Here Jesus stood with us in the waters of baptism where he was fully submerged to show forth his burial and resurrection which lay only three years ahead of that amazing moment. Here Jesus stood for us as he accepted his role of dying for our sins which was also revealed in his baptism, thus the image of burial. Here it became clear that Jesus always stands above us as the sinless Son of God. The wonder of our triune God was revealed at Bethany beyond Jordan that day. The Father spoke, the Spirit descended, and the Son submitted. He would submit in the symbol of baptism foreshadowing his submission to die for us on the cross. The stirring of pilgrims from all over the world revealed the sacredness of the place. He is truly Lord of all.