A Dose of Perspective – Pastor Bill Lewis

The survival of Christianity is one of the greatest testimonies to the existence of God that I know of. We continue to try to kill it, deaden it, mortify it, and desecrate it. Individual churches come and go. Doors close, new ones open. Great cathedrals are empty and storefronts can be full. Standard denominations are losing members and high school auditoriums are full with fledgling churches beginning. Drive through the country and you see clapboard buildings that used to be centers of revival now empty and rotting. Some churches are held together by endowments where a handful of aged meet. Yet, there are bars serving as Sunday meeting places for churches and coffee houses with an evangelistic message.
Worship has changed. Luther was a radical for introducing “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” which were Christian words put to a German beer drinking song. Scandal. Tame are the songs that rocked the church in the 1960’s. Modern themes and tunes were shocking. The introduction of guitars was earth shaking and adding drums was sacrilege. Pianos and pipe organs were orthodox.
When the first hippie walked through the door of a church, people spread rumors scandalous and scathing. How dare they! Pastors who allowed such rabble in the church were brought before boards and fired. But scandal and gossip were a part of the Bible story too. What did Jewish Christians do as the first gentiles entered the church? Well, of course, they must become Jewish. The tendency of man is to always want things to stay the same. It is comfortable. The next logical step is to make comfortable a doctrine and liturgy. So, we can legitimize comfortable by making it holy.
Obviously God does not buy into that line of reasoning. Because comfortable becomes dead, quickly. And God does not do dead. He is alive and ever present to call His own to himself. The Holy Spirit is not put in a box of tidiness, but ever lives to reach the souls of men and lead those who come to God.
The stain glass windows of the great cathedrals were once like tracts. They told a story pictorially to an illiterate people. They could not read, but they could see the story as told in the alcoves of the cathedrals. Some one could teach using the window as an illustration. The Bible would not be available to the masses until the printing press of Gutenberg. While now we see those windows as representative of dead religion, they were once alive and vibrant for reaching an illiterate people.
When the Bible came and people began to increase in literacy, the word became paramount. Home meetings, Bible studies, Holy Clubs were formed around the Bible. The Methodist Church was founded on a method of studying the Bible. Small churches dotted the landscape and itinerate preachers visited and taught on a circuit schedule. People moved and industry affected the movement. Empty buildings were found because change happened.
The church did not die. The Holy Spirit continues to raise up new movements and church plants. Where one closes, another opens. Man makes mistakes, but God keeps reaching people.
Today, there is a current of a movement that we must engage. Will this movement last? Historically, no. But it is where we are now. It is what God is doing now. It will change. The message will remain, Jesus is still the savior, God is still on the throne, the end is still going to come as recorded, but how it looks, we do not know. It would be freaky to see a move that went back to Puritan dress, but maybe. Following the Lord is following the pillar of fire, it is following the cloud. Same God, different place, different look. Hang on, this is good

Who are the Lost? – Pastor Bill Lewis

The Lost, who are they? The church speaks of the lost, the Bible speaks of the lost. What are they lost from?
The answers to those questions are important. There is an attitude in Christian circles regarding the lost. Often they are spoken of as the rabble of the earth, the down and out, the addicts, the surly, nasty people. They are the homeless, the criminal, the abuser, the foul mouthed, the unwanted. Yes, I am sure that comprises some of the lost. But there are lost out there that are financially successful, top of their profession, good moral character people, salt of the earth people, kind people, librarians and church goers.
The lost cover every strata of life. The lost come in all colors of humanity and they live in every nation. They are humans that are struggling to put food on the table and live an existence of some sort of meaning. They love and they hate. They are kind and they are mean.
The state of lostness may not be a down and out existence. It may be the high life. Lostness has nothing to do with social status or position.
First of all, what have they lost or what constitutes this condition? The Bible declares that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. ALL mean ALL. Universal. No Exception. So, the state of being lost includes everyone to start with.
Humanity is lost from the original intention of God for his creation, including the individual purpose of each human being who ever lives. Vast is the purposes of God to be able to bring intention and purpose to everyone who breaks from the womb and breathes.
The lost condition is from the sin, rebellion, and huge loss to man that took place in the Garden of Eden. Man’s huge potential for learning, comprehension, spiritual capacities was completely retarded, stumped, and nearly destroyed. The ability to fellowship with God was cut off. The communication with God became solely based on His initiative. Man had not stance any longer with God; yet the love of God still reached out to the creation that forsook him, chose another path, believed a lie, and decided to lean on his own understanding rather than God’s. Since then man lapsed in worships of fantasy, idols, creatures, and self. Modern man particularly worships himself and the creation while denying a creator. Lostness primarily is a condition of ignoring the creator, concocting some philosophy that dismisses God, and choosing to use the worship capacity of the soul in some offensive manner to the creator, proclaiming to be wise they continue to be fools.
But the lost do not like to be called fools since so much of the lost state has to do with human intelligence. So, reaching for the lost is a tricky business. While we know they are lost, we must identify with our own lost condition prior to knowing Jesus. You remember well that religion and Bible thumpers were to be avoided and ridiculed. But then one day you met someone who challenged you without condemning you. You also noticed something in them that was appealing; yet undefinable. However, you knew there was something and you wanted it.
The Holy Spirit is always working to bring the lost to Jesus. He works at it patiently and sometimes for years before the person sees their poverty and cries for help. The lost need a friend who knows what it was like to be lost and found the path to life. The lost need friends that are Holy Spirit patient and Holy Spirit persevering. Because, “once I was lost, but now I am found!”