“The righteous keep moving
forward, and those with clean
hands become stronger and stronger.”
It's SUMMER CLEARANCE TIME! It's that time of year where those who reside on the fringes of the faith will finally melt down in the summer heat and head it on back to the world. It's truly a sad thing to see this play out a few times every year. No matter how much God, the Word, and their church family attempts to warn them, so many will not be deterred! It seems so often that the only thing mankind responds to consistently is pain! I'm not big on pain, so I try as often as possible to avoid those stupid trips 'abroad.' Through these times I see those that I have come to care for very deeply go out to "partake." Not too long back it killed one, but many more are as good as dead in that they are still walking around but they 'ooze' sadness, confusion, and despair. Even the ones that went on to other religious venues are languishing...never finding a body of Christ to commit to, and they essentially do nothing for the kingdom. They become "customers" somewhere and try hard to convince themselves that God is A-ok with their life! I don't know if I will ever get use to these spiritual deaths. They keep me awake at night. It is my nature to get out all the 'equipment' in an attempt to resuscitate the individual, but in doing so I struggle against God's "small voice" whispering...."Tim...let them go..." "OH No Lord! We can shock their heart ...or, or....maybe do CPR or something!" I'm like those doctors on the movies that refuse to "call it" but keep trying to get the patient back after they are clearly dead! One of the hardest elements of ministry for me is dealing with the casualites. I'm not talking about the guy who has never wanted anything to do with God or church...or the woman who comes once and rejects salvation. I'm talking about those who have "tasted of it all" and still ultimately walked.
Hebrews 6:4-6 says something scary..."For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened — those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit,who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come — and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame." Frankly, I wish this one wasn't true. But after nearly 20 years of ministering as a pastor, I have found it to be nearly universal! So you go down to Walmart and you see them. They are like mummys. If there is any life at all in their eyes it is anger and bitterness. They're mad at everyone...me, their old church mates, the world at large, God, all christians...whatever. Just never themselves. No, never themselves. After all, who else do they have to depend on....? I have come to realize...regretfully, if you must know the truth, that my job as a pastor is to make people accountable. It is to 'clarify' ones life so when they stand before their judge one day they will...as it is written, be "without excuse." It awesome to see them make Jesus Lord of their life and then move on to all that God has to do in, through, and with them. I like those! But it is always painful to know that for many, that ultimate meeting with God will go very differently as they "go to the tape...."