Posts Tagged ‘The Church’

Last week I wrote about some of the foundational movements in American Christianity and how they still influence the church in the U.S. even today.  The landscape of American Christianity can look bleak at times if we get caught up in all of the changes that are going on according to certain media outlets.  Recent research has shown a near 10% drop in those who claim to be Christians here in America over the past 7 years.  Churches, schools, business, and entire Christian denominations that once believed in and taught orthodoxy are now not only accepting gay marriage, but pushing to have it completely normalized and legalized.  Because of this diversion from our Christian moorings, some are looking for the stars to starting falling from the sky as is described in Revelation because of the seeming turn of America toward humanism, or at least major liberalism.  While a quick glimpse at American Christianity might seem scary to some, I see reason for much hope.  Here are a few.

The Millennial Generation:

This is my generation (those born in the 1980’s – 1990’s).  My generation is generally considered lazy, self-absorbed, and whiney.  There is some truth to this I must admit, however, there is so much more to us than selfies on social media, job hopping, and being restless.  Many in the millennial generation long for authenticity.  We can see though all the smoke and lights to see the heart of the matter.  I have seen many people in this generation going back to a stripped down version, simple church model, of Christianity.  They want in-depth Bible study, biblical preaching, authentic Christ-centered worship, genuine fellowship, and missions within the community.  For the millennial generation this is often done by having a mix of both hymnody and modern songs in worship, doing small group studies, and living missionally while doing it all.  These ideas were part of the original Reformation.  The Reformers wanted to be guided only by what Scripture taught, and not all of this man made stuff.  I see the heart of reformation within many of the millennial generation.  I see them leading their families in worship and discipleship. I see them seeking churches that teach scripture instead of drama.  I see them have a love for theology.  For this reason, I have hope for the state of the church in America.

The Great Pruning of the Church:

With every day that passes it seems that there is some new objection to Christian thinking and Christian living in our country.  Many have predicted that within the next 10 years the American church will look vastly different that it did 10 years ago.  Within the next decade we will know where most every Christian in the U.S. stands on the issue of gay “marriage.”  This issue will most likely drive those of the normative variety away from the church.  The church attendance may get small.  Church buildings may have to be sold.  There may be less money to hire staff, but this is not necessarily a bad thing in the long run.  For the church of America to grow it must be pruned.  Jesus said in John 15, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”  For the church to grow, the dead leaves of nominal Christianity must be cut off.  While it may not appear to be pretty to begin with, the lasting results will beautify the bride in a way that is unimaginable to us.

The Accessibility to Biblical Teaching:

With all that is being said (by the media) in favor of liberalizing Christianity, there are still MAJOR voices crying out from the wilderness preparing the way, teaching with a prophetic voice, and a shepherding heart.  At no other time in history has the world been able to hear such great men of God proclaim God’s word.  At your fingertips you can hear John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham, Steve Lawson, Matt Chandler, Alistair Begg, Kevin Swanson and a million other preachers.  These, along with many other less well known men, are standing on the truths of God and proclaiming it to the world.  Thousands upon Thousands of people gather each year to hear men like this herald God’s Word.  While the media may want us to think that men like this are in the minority, it simply is not so.  Because of the Roman Road of our day (the internet), sound teaching can be heard in this nation and all around the world.  One thing I know from scripture, God’s Word never returns void, and these mean are proclaiming it to the thousands.

God’s Will Cannot be Thwarted: 

God has promised to build His church.  We see this in Matthew 16 when  Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  No matter what our government may try to do, even it is under God’s authority.  Christianity is still spreading in places like China and North Korea.  While our culture and government may try to change the church, the true church will survive and thrive.  Denominations may die.  Church attendance may drop, but the true church will go on and grow.  It cannot be stopped.  Now that is hope.

The American Church situation is by no means all doom and gloom.  There is so much to love about Christ’s bride.  There are many things that are beautiful and right.  However, you would have to have your proverbial head in the sand to say that things have not changed over the past 50 or 75 years.  While the changes may seem scary when we think of the immediate future, it should motivate us to practice our faith all the more.  It should motivate us to share the gospel openly while we still have such tremendous freedoms to do so.  Yes, there are some things that desperately need to change in our church, but praise be to God, I can see Him doing it on the horizon.  I love the church, and I have great hope for its future here in America.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

The last few weeks I have had the privilege of leading a small group study at the church in which I serve called “Sacred Marriage.” This past week while studying, a few thoughts occurred to me. My first thought was, “Am I still dazzled by Christ?” After thinking through reasons why the Lord still amazes me, my second thought was, “Does Christ still dazzle His Bride?”  It did not take long to answer that question, seeing as how I am part of his Bride. Yes, He still dazzles His Bride. Since Ephesians 5:1 says that we are to “Imitate God” and Ephesians 5:25 says that I am to “love my wife as Christ loves the church,” it seems like there could be some implications (albeit loose ones) that we should continue to pursue and even date our spouses, even after they have been married for 50 or 60 years.

How Christ still dazzles His Bride:

  1. He still woos people to be His bride. The bride of Christ, the church, still continues to grow to this day. While it is the Holy Spirit that actually does the drawing or wooing, the Spirit still draws people to Christ. If Christ is still adding people to His bride, doesn’t it make sence that He still actively loves her? He is still active in the process of wooing. The full number of saints has not yet come to the saving knowledge of Him. Until that time comes, He will continue to seek and dazzle His Bride. Since this is true, shouldn’t we continue to seek and dazzle OUR bride?
  2. He sanctifies His Bride. For those of us that are already followers of Christ, we know that we are being sanctified. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. This does not happen overnight. This is a lifelong process. However, it is a process that He has committed to make. He has promised to ultimately glorify us one day (Romans 8:29-30), but until that day we will continue in this process of sanctification. During this time, He is with us, making himself known to us . . . making himself more and more beautiful. If He continues to make himself beautiful to us in our sanctification, shouldn’t we do the same for our spouse?
  3. He still wows His Bride. Have you ever seen a beautiful sunset or roaring ocean tide and been taken aback by the beauty of God? Has your spirit ever been lifted into what seems like the third heaven while praising God? Have you ever been overcome by the holiness of God and hit your face to the floor in awe of who God is? When that happens, we truly begin to worship Him. The Lord still wows His Bride every day. This is true for the believer that has only recently come to know the Lord as well as the one that has been walking faithful with Him for 60 years. Christ is still in the process of wowing His Bride. If He still dazzles and wows His Bride, shouldn’t we continue to do that for our spouse?

Why we should still dazzle our spouse:

When we are going through the early years of dating, our relationship can be so exciting. It makes romance, dating, and doing special things easy, because it is part of the early process.  The problem I see with so many is that after we get married we see our spouse as already being “caught” and there being no need to continue to try to catch them. For some it is easy to think “why do I need to continue to be romantic, or date after I have already caught the person?” I believe that this is a foolish way of thinking. We all desire to be pursued in one way or another.  We are built that way. Most of us enjoy being made much of, in one way or another. Why should that stop after we are married? Shouldn’t marriage just be the beginning point? Does Christ not still woo, make beautiful, and WOW his Bride? It is easy to stop dating each other once you get married, become comfortable with, and just start living life with your spouse. Your spouse is more than just a buddy and friend . . . they are the person that you covenanted together with for life.

Men: If you do not regularly take your wife on dates (my wife and I shoot for once a month at least), then it is time to ask her out. Buy her flowers. Write her a letter expressing what she means to you and your family. A date does not have to cost much money. It can simply be going on a hike, or playing a game together at Starbucks. Men, you are the spiritual leader in your home, so if you are not doing a good job of making this happen, I believe the buck stops with you. Make it enjoyable. Make it regular. Make much for your bride.  Make much of her, because Christ still does for His.

Woman: God has made you all beautiful in your own way. Your husband once (and hopefully still does) thought you are beautiful. Allow him to lead. Make yourself attractive to him. You know what he likes and does not like. Make yourself available to him. Express your desires in the things that you like and don’t like so that he does not have to guess. Go and do things that he enjoys as well. While the buck stops with the husband when it comes to making these things a priority and finding time to do them, you have a big role to play as well. So ladies, dress up, make your husband feel important, and be the bride of Christ to your husbands. Enjoy a time away from the kids, or just time away from normal life.

Dating is a wonderful part of the beginning part of courtship. The culmination of courtship is marriage. It only makes sense that we should continue in that wonderful process of dating after marriage as well. While dating is not the chief end of marriage (the glory of God is), it certainly is one of the ways to continue to cultivate it. Christ loved, and still loves the church. He still makes much of her. If we want to have a healthy marriage that bears the image of Christ and the church, I believe a good date once or twice a month will help keep you in that process.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell