In October, Lord willing, Progress Baptist Church will enjoy four nights of special services with Bro. Johnny Jones doing the preaching. More than just a series of meetings, it is our prayer that God will move us deeper and higher in our walk with Him. This past Sunday night, the message God gave me for our people was from Ezra regarding the importance of the house of God. In the typical modern-day “church”, the sanctuary has been reduced to little more than a gymnasium or night-club. In the detention center ministry God has brought into my life, more than one inmate has described the atmosphere in area “churches” as reminding them of the clubs they were involved in prior to their incarceration. As God’s children, I believe our heart and attitude toward God’s house is a very clear reflection of our heart for God. I believe that is why the first message God placed on my heart in preparation for our revival services dealt with this very important topic.
Over the next few weeks, it is my desire to read, study, and pray for direction from the Lord in preparing our hearts for what He has in store for us. What a tragedy it would be for God’s man to come with a message and for us to be unprepared to receive it. In my reading, I recently came across an article that I will give excerpts from below. The title is, “Thoughts on Church Renewal” by Jay Wegter and Massimo Lorenzini, and it can be found in its complete form at: frontlinemin.org.
The Need for a Grace Awakening
Without a grace awakening, they (church members) will be unable to give back to God, their pastor, or one another. They are operating upon reflected glory, similar to those who gazed at Moses’ glowing face after he descended the holy mountain with the law of God (Ex 34:29-35). But they themselves are not in the habit of regularly beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel. They are not daily drawing their spiritual life directly from Christ in personal communion with Him.
In a grace awakening the congregation will begin to fix their sight on Christ and what He has done for them in redeeming them by grace. As they grow in their personal knowledge of the Son of God by the Spirit of God through the Word of God, they will be eager to follow Christ in discipleship and ministry. They will become team players alongside the pastor rather than being mere spectators sitting on the sidelines watching the ministry of the pastor. They will no longer be content to accept the ministry of their pastor as a substitute for their own ministry within and through the body.
The Lost Spiritual Discipline of Meditation
The majority of church members today have not learned to go to their Savior directly by meditation, worship, and adoration. Lest we forget, meditation is a godly discipline that is resisted by our natural faculties. Our cognitive faculties are dialed into sensual stimuli. As our media-saturated culture becomes more and more visually stimulated by man-made fantasies, it becomes increasingly difficult to tune our hearts into the invisible truths of the gospel. It is work to have the eyes of the heart opened fully wide to behold by faith unseen spiritual certainties. But the labor of meditation is necessary if our souls are to be ravished by the sight of our wealth in the Son of God.
The eyes of our hearts must be enlightened in order for us to be constrained and animated by God’s love in Christ. In considering the concentration and labor necessary to meditate on the Word of God, an illustration may be helpful. By way of example, consider the fact that 37 tons of metal, crew, fuel, and payload in the shape of a Tomcat fighter jet can only remain airborne at mach 2.0 if multiple physical laws are strictly obeyed. Friction, gravity, and heat all seek to bring the craft back to earth in a jumble of disorder. So also, nature fights against our attempts to meditate upon invisible spiritual realities. The Word, the Spirit, and the mind must all come together in order to gaze continually with the eyes of faith upon invisible spiritual realities. We must individually and collectively as the people of God discipline ourselves to meditate upon the Word of God as a crucial step toward church renewal.
It takes meditation in order for spiritual truth to come alive so as to renew the mind and transform the life. But teaching biblical meditation will of necessity require detailed, step by step instruction and examples. This is because our media culture is characterized by a mind numbing busy-ness, but paradoxically, also by a mental laziness. Most people slow down by entering a “veg-out” mode of passively watching television. The enemy, however, has virtually complete control over television programming which has become a conduit for postmodern thought (i.e., no absolute truth, moral relativism, erroneous view of tolerance, moral and intellectual autonomy, etc.) Viewers who attempt to “relax, refresh, and recharge” by hours of television are unwittingly imbibing postmodern values in the process of devoting themselves to mindless amusement.
Believers need to be “unplugged” from the deadening effects of postmodern culture. If Christians refuse to stir themselves so as to dedicate their minds to love God’s truth, they will of necessity find themselves conformed to the world (Rom 12:1-2). They will be unable to mourn and grieve over the sins of this generation. Their zeal for soul-winning will fade into apathy toward the lost as their attention turns to maintaining their personal comfort and entertainment. By contrast, biblical meditation requires mental discipline and concentration, and even self-confrontation. It’s impossible to be passive and meditate on Scripture at the same time.
It is my prayer that over the next several weeks, the the Holy Spirit will guide our church family into a sincere hunger and preparation for true spiritual renewal.