Tim and Natalie Lockhart -  Strengthening...Encouraging...Equipping...Going

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When the church is gone

As we have been able to go from place to place and view the beautiful sights of this country, we seen astonishing things.  We have described some of the most precious places to you.   We have given you images of secluded places, natural beauty, sights that were unimaginable and so many that were breathtaking.  It has been so exciting to see what new and beautiful sight the Lord would bless us with each day.   However, we have also shared with you things like forgotten faces of those we have encountered.  We have tried to be honest with you as to what we see and the things we experience.  One of the things that we have seen and continue to see in every place are old abandoned churches.  The thought occurred to me this week and thought I would share and ask you…."what about when the church is gone?"
We have seen images of some churches that were covered with vines and falling apart.  We have seen some that were brick by brick falling to the ground.  We have seen them slanting, and some we have seen with broken windows and graffiti.  We realize that there are churches across the land where they have fallen apart with such decay.  However, we have also seen churches standing tall, beautiful and erect with their beauty beaming upward to the sky and proclaiming such majesty….yet standing empty.  What about these?  What about the doors of the local church?  What happened in these places that such emptiness should fill their rooms and sanctuary?
It is quite disheartening as we have traveled and been in some churches.  We have been uplifted, strengthened and encouraged by many services.   In others, however, it has not been the same.  Across the land, there are people just filling the pews, and there is no depth to the messages or even to the Sunday School classes.  So how is it that the people can just go week after week to the place they call church and say they are making a difference? 
We are seeing the church change right before our eyes.  We are seeing the message of God’s word become watered down because people are looking for their ears to be tickled and looking more for entertainment and feeling good about themselves instead of the truth of the gospel.  Have we conformed so much to the world that biblically we have become complacent and passive?  Have we closed our ears to the TRUTH?   Have we assimilated so much to the American Dream that we have become worthless to the great commandment?  Let’s face it…when was the last time you were confronted by a Christian about your walk with Christ?  God commanded us all not just some of us to be disciples of men.  Yet we hear over and over, "I can’t!"   Why can't you?
We know that America needs a true spiritual awakening.  Our heart breaks as we enter places that are more about entertainment than worship and hearing God’s truth.   America is definitely in the midst of spiritual awakening, the problem is that many are just spiritually seeking the wrong direction.  It's great that we send missionaries to the foreign fields. We have had many an international student tell us that America is the one that needs the missionaries.  We are trying to do this very thing in our land. 
So friends, today, we ask you to pray with us that we may continue to proclaim boldly the truth of God’s word.   May you find that today you are seeking to make a difference within your local church and community and not being a part of this entertainment culture.   Be bold, strong and courageous with intensity and perseverance.   Think about your church and what it will mean to you…"when the church is gone."   What did you do to make a difference to keeping the word of God alive and real in that place?   What can you do now to continue spreading the word of God everywhere in your life…remember, the place you attend for you local church is but a building….YOU are the church!
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:27

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