Van Yandell

E phesians 6: 11 “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Growing up in a small Bible belt town in the 1950’s and 60’s is a memory that is usually very good and seldom bad. We didn’t have much; affluence was a word not yet heard. Had someone mentioned the stock market, we would have thought of selling cattle or pigs.

People worked long hours just to survive. Sunday was a day of rest and worship. We didn’t have TV’s and other media to occupy our minds away from church and God. The question was never asked in my house on Sunday morning, “Are we going to church?” It was a certainty; we were going. Even slight sicknesses did not keep the small town family away from church.

Businesses were always closed on Sunday. Most churches were packed with standing room only. Had someone cut weeds or any other work on Sunday, the older ladies would have had a topic of conversation until at least Wednesday.

The words reverent and revered had meaning then. Respect was demanded and disrespect shown by anyone was quickly regretted. Children would never talk back to a parent or bargain with them. When mom or dad said “no,” that was the only and final answer.

America was seen as a Christian nation with freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Preachers and teachers of the Bible were never questioned when they condemned an abhorrent lifestyle. Sin was sin and what God’s book said was the first and last word.

How things have changed! Our freedom, as powerful and great as it is, has been turned against us. Profanity has become a bargaining chip for the politically correct. Minor curse words (if there is such a thing), are condemned by the progressive elite when used by politicians disagreeing with their views. Yet, the movie producers and writers cannot write a sentence without using street words referring to human reproduction. That apparently is acceptable.

America may still be a great nation, but many things have changed in the last sixty years. Technology has negatively influenced our Christian nation. We have instant communication, travel and entertainment. When I first heard the word “hedonism,” I asked, “What does that mean”?

Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure, sensual self-indulgence. America has become a hedonistic nation. There is no room for argument concerning this statement. People’s conversation once concerned the weather, work and the church. Now those conversations have turned to entertainment and restaurants. “Where did you eat?” It’s almost like there is a competition to see who can eat in the most restaurants. Eating may become an Olympic event.

Another gigantic difference in America from the 1960’s is giving. Preachers occasionally preached on tithing but did not dwell on it. Many churches today have become money pits because they (apparently) feel they have to entertain people to entice them to attend.

Anyone believing in God knows, it’s all His to begin with and giving to the church is an act of obedience and we are simply returning to God a part of what is already His.

I have believed for many years, the act of giving involves much more than money.

God wants us; our love, our obedience and our time. Matthew 22: 37”Jesus said unto him, thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind.” There is no question what God wants from us, first and foremost.

Jesus also said in Matthew 28: 18-20, “And Jesus came and spoke unto them saying, all power is given unto me in Heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even unto the ends of the world.” This is an action statement by Him and what we call “The Great Commission.”

This command by our Lord Jesus is one that demands we get off our blessed assurances, and act! Matthew 28: 18-20 are words that require us to do something other than for our entertainment. In a society that emphasizes winning and thrill seeking, I cannot imagine why soul winning has not caught on.

We have witnessed in recent years a growth in atheism, agnosticism and other beliefs and cults in America. Our “permissive, anything goes,” attitude in America is destroying us from within. Call me single-minded if you will and that’s likely accurate. I do not see America ever going back to the Christian nation we were in the 60’s, but it must not be because Christians have given up.

If we are going to let the pagans absorb America, we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we gear our lives and churches to entertainment we may as well just give America away. Without Christianity, America is nowhere near the place I grew up in in the 1960’s.

The church is all about Jesus and He needs us now. We are His hands, legs and voices on earth. If we really believe there is reality in the concepts of Heaven, Hell and eternal life, nothing is more important than conveying this information to the unchurched in this lost world.

To “grow your church,” is not to bring “them” in to be entertained. It is to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus and make disciples. The truth must not be seen as offensive, but as saving. Eternity is a long time and Jesus is the only answer.

Christ Jesus was crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected.

Yes, we have something to give away and it’s not our country!