Writer's Note: True story: A terrible event I personally witnessed that has played itself through my brain hundreds of times over the years: More than 30 years ago in another time, in another house, when I lived in another "holler" (the hollow, the mountain valley between 2 mountain ridges), I saw a bird become "serpent charmed". It was summer and I was sitting on the porch, in the swing, relaxing, having a soda, appreciating the day before I had to get ready to go work the evening shift in an underground coal mine.
A few yards out from our house was the bare spot where we stacked our winter coal so I could carry it in by the bucketful to burn in our coal stove to heat our house. The coal was gone now because we had used it the winter before and it was not yet time to replenish our supply. The summer sun leaches out the oil, the coal becomes brittle, dry and will not burn satisfactorily. We did not expect to live there for very long and I had not built a coal house to protect it.
A large blacksnake started crawling slowly out of the grass into the bare earth opening. He stopped in the warm sun. He was beautiful, somehow pristine and shining in the sun. Blacksnakes don't have fangs, just 2 rows of tiny saw-like teeth for grasping prey, they have no poison, they appear harmless. Suddenly a grass sparrow flew down and lit maybe 2 feet in front of the serpent.
I could not imagine why the sparrow would do such a stupid thing. Bird and serpent motionlessly stared at each other for a breathless time. Almost in slow motion the sparrow hopped a few hops to the left. The serpent's head was a couple of inches off the ground and he moved his head to always face the sparrow. They were motionless a few moments.
The sparrow hopped back right, passed where he had started and hopped a few more hops further to the right and the serpent smoothly turned his head with the sparrow. Once more they were motionless, staring at each other. The sparrow did not wait so long and hopped back to the left and I realized it was hopping in an arc in front of the serpent. The sparrow came back to the right and he was hopping a tiny bit faster.
The serpent's head rhythmically moved with the sparrow. They repeated this a few times and I realized the serpent was slowly drawing his body up like a series of S's touching each other at their ends. He did not draw himself into the classic coil but he was preparing to strike. He did not look threatening.
As the minutes sped by the sparrow hopped the same arc over and over and it was hopping faster and faster. I realized he was drawing a tiny bit closer to the serpent with each ark he hopped. The serpent's head kept the smooth, hypnotic rhythm back and forth as the sparrow danced his arc. All my hillbilly life I had heard stories that a serpent could "charm a bird", I had not believed it, the phenomena simply sounded too farfetched, now I was seeing it and I was caught in a breathless fascination.
As more time passed I realized the sparrow had started looking somehow surrendering, sort of feverish, somehow straining, somehow threatened, somehow unable to stop what had become a macabre dance with death. Faster and faster, closer and closer danced the sparrow in his feverish arcs and I have never seen anything like that in my life.
I had the distinct feeling the sparrow knew he was in trouble but he could not stop. As the sparrow was charmed by the serpent I too was charmed by the serpent and the tableau of the unfolding tragedy. Neither of us could stop.
As he danced faster and faster, closer and closer he was changing his posture. He had started leaning slightly toward the serpent and his wings were no longer held close to his body. Their slight drooping and the slight ruffling of his feathers somehow made him look a bit disheveled. I realized I had stopped the swing, I too was leaning forward, elbows on my knees, also straining. I was surprised because I didn't consciously remember changing my posture or changing my position.
Closer and closer, faster and faster; the serpent suddenly flashed forward, hooked and held the sparrow with his tiny saw like teeth for the split second it took for the lightening of his coils to engulf the sparrow. The coils constricted ever tighter, the sparrow's struggles lessened and lessened until they stopped and the sparrow was smothered to death. The serpent slowly, slowly consumed his prey and the sparrow became part of the serpent's strength. Now the sparrow's strength, his body, would work for the serpent.
(Gen. 3:1-13 & 1Tim. 2:14) That memory causes me to think about Eve, how the serpent had charmed her, how the serpent had smothered her, how the serpent had consumed her, how she had become part of the serpent's strength, how she had worked for the serpent until Adam was also destroyed.
It is obvious I had seen a physical manifestation of exactly how Satan's harmless presentation of himself spiritually attracts a pastor or any Christian, he exploits their weaknesses, charms them, draws them in, entraps them, smothers out their SIN awareness and Satan slowly, slowly spiritually consumes them.
(2Cor. 5:20 & 1Cor. 3:16) As the life of the pastor or the Christian slowly erodes back into a state of sinfulness their lifestyle brings shame, mockery and reproach on Jesus' name because people are looking and judging Jesus' Church by the pastor or Christian's sinful lifestyle and that works to help Satan turn lost people and weak Christians away from salvation!
THERE ARE MANY GOOD PASTORS AND CONGREGATIONS BUT SOMETIMES:
(Prov. 12:15) THE WAY OF A FOOL IS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.
We have investigated Satan. We have investigated the church at Sardis. We have investigated how the serpent might have consumed the pastor of the church at Sardis. We have investigated how the pastor of the church at Sardis might have unwittingly helped Satan destroy the majority of his own flock. We have investigated pastors in general. BUT: There are other kinds of pastor we have not investigated!
(Eph. 4:11 & 1Cor. 12:11-18 esp. V.18) Since God calls true pastors and sets true pastors in the church as it pleases Him it is obvious God recognizes there is a something in their character with which He can work to mold, inspire, lead and guide to teach the individual and form him into a true pastor. It is a learning process that starts well before a candidate ever becomes the pastor of a church. Example: (John 21:15) Peter became a pastor (Acts 9:3-16) while Paul became an evangelist.
Below are 5 types of pastors. Pastors #1), #3) and #4) are very prevalent in congregations and denominations who choose and elect their own layman pastor (not seminary trained) on a yearly basis or whatever time frame and etc. Pastor #2) is a product of a denominational seminary who usually educates pastors to serve in the churches of their denomination. Their controlling organization assigns pastors to their various churches. Pastor #5) can be a product of either layman status or seminary trained.
BUT: (Eph. 4:11) #1) It seems as if nearly every lay preacher or evangelist you meet has the desire to be the pastor of a church. If they are evangelists why aren't they preaching a revival someplace, why aren't they out in the parking lots evangelizing individuals, why aren't they conducting tent revivals, why aren't they revival preachers visiting various churches to hold revivals, why aren't they in some stadium someplace? They sometimes become pastors.
(Eph. 4:11) #2) Consider this scenario: An individual is born with a kind, helping, giving nature and, as he grows up, he decides his vocation is going to be as a minister. He attends seminary someplace, learns scripture, learns philosophy, learns all he needs to know to be a pastor, graduates with honors, is called on to go pastor a church someplace and has never experienced the born again event. It happens. #3) (Eph. 4:11) Sometimes people simply miss their calling; God calls them to be a teacher, they mistakenly think; "Preacher! Pastor!" and away they go on a preaching spree. It happens.
(John 20:28-29) "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (Acts 1:1-14 esp. V.14 keywords: all continued) After Jesus ascended into heaven He sent the Holy Spirit back to the whole (all) church. (John 6:44 & 12:32) The Holy Spirit draws people toward God and salvation. (John 3:3-8 esp. V.6 keywords: born of the Spirit) When a person is born again (saved) (John 14:17-18) they have spiritually met Jesus.
Please understand this. If Jesus had come and did all He did including His resurrection and ascension into heaven, (2Ki. 17:17-24 & 2Ki. 2:11) like Elijah brought the dead to life and ascended into heaven, Jesus would have been a footnote in Jewish history. So, what was the difference? Jesus had a message that would spread to the ends of the world.
The disciples knew Jesus physically (Acts 2:1-4 then John 14:17-26) then they knew Jesus spiritually just like Christians do now. SO: (Matt. 28:19-20, Luke 24:48 & Acts 1:8) The same commission Jesus gave them applies to modern day Christians. All Christians are supposed to be Jesus' witnesses to lost people.
There are many places in the NT where the Holy Spirit enters new believers (converts) who had not physically known Jesus during His ministry and they became witnesses. Their witness spread from generation to generation all over the world for almost 2,000 years until it got to us. (Luke 24:48 keyword: witnesses) Jesus was speaking to the whole church when he told the few disciples (His whole church at that time) that they were witnesses for Him. That commandment has not changed; all Christians are supposed to be Jesus' witnesses to lost people.
My immediate society just like any society has lots of "good people" in it, they do not lie, nor steal, they will help, they are friendly, they don't commit adultery and murder and they stand for what is right but they are lost because they haven't experienced the salvation event. SO: What is the only vast, visible, verbal difference between these "good people" and Christians?
(2Cor. 5:20 keywords: ambassadors) Christians are ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador represents and brings a message from his leader. It is a Christian's testimony as to what Jesus has done in his life and his witness as what Jesus can do in their lives; all Christians are supposed to be Jesus' witnesses to lost people.
Now: (Eph. 4:11) #4) As you can see in the above paragraphs it is very easy for a spiritually on fire Christian witness to mistake his zeal to witness as a call to preach and they sometimes become pastors. It happens. #5) Sometimes good pastors serve their flock many years and they grow old in their Pastor's position. They reach a certain peak in their life then they start a decline.
They more and more get into a rut, they begin to rest on their laurels of past victories, the world changes and they can't relate to it, failing health, failing mental acuity, failing abilities slow them down and they begin to coast, their drive to achieve lessens, they still see themselves as a vibrant, fiery pastor but they are not. They won't turn loose and let a younger pastor take the reins and it always causes pain, problems and church trouble.
Normal human stubbornness and pride will not permit these 5 types of pastors (the evangelist, the phony, the teacher, the witness and the senior citizen) admit they have made a mistake. (Phil. 1:18) The first 4 types of pretense preachers make poor pastors and the 5th becomes a poor pastor. I have seen all 5 of these types of situations happen over and over.
These pretense preachers make poor pastors, they play a roll, they assume a part and they hobble a congregation like you would hobble a horse. The congregation cannot go very far. The congregation cannot progress normally. The congregation does not get much done. The congregation does not live up to its spiritual potential. It might well become stagnated.
The most pitiful type is the good pastor failing because of age. Sometimes he becomes angry, preaches angry, and stays angry. One church went down to 14 members before they could oust the old pastor, find a new, vibrant, zealous, filled with the Holy Spirit pastor and start to rebuild. I, as a sinner, started attending church there 2 or 3 years after that, after the church had started growing again, after the church had become spiritually on fire and God saved me under the preaching of the inspired, new, filled with zeal for Jesus, strong, young, pastor.
The church had divided into 1 sympathetic faction which included the old pastor's family and into a 2nd dynamic, going forward faction. The struggle for power continued for years in various, yearly, proxy pastor elections. I loved the old pastor, I had known him all my life, he was a good man, a good soldier for Christ, a good leader, he had built up the church, then he tore it down.
His last effort to gain control had a painful result that hurt me and hurt him. I was the deciding vote that defeated his effort to regain control of the church through a proxy preacher he could control. He was done with me, I had gone from friend to foe, he felt that I had personally let him down, he stomped out of the church; "I feel like a bird let out of a cage. I won't be back." and he never spoke to me again. It hurt me and I was very sorry for him but I had to scripturally stand for what was right.
Another church here in my place is now facing the same problem. The new faction couldn't dislodge the old pastor and 80 members left to start a new church. Sin, unrepentant sin, always accompanies a church split because everyone believes they are right. They say they pray for the "other side" but they never pray for themselves! (Prov. 12:15) THE WAY OF A FOOL IS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.
If I was going to die in a few minutes this is the practical advice I would write you if I was able. (2Tim. 2:15) "Keep your fingers on God's word and your eyes on Jesus. Which means, learn to study God's word, don't just read, study by topics and situations, use your concordance to methodically investigate the topics you choose. Definitions of words are very necessary, important and surprising.
Read commentaries, if they don't give scriptures to back up what they say drop it like a hot potato and go to another. The scripture is the only way you can know God. I personally use the authorized KJV. You can read about my personal struggle with finding the correct Bible in the article; About the Writer on this website. You are fighting for your eternal destination!
(Eph. 6:18) Learn how to scripturally pray fervently even about the small things, you will be surprised. God wants to hear from you. (Matt. 15:8) If you don't want to know God nor hear from Him you are in desperate trouble and on your way out. "Your eyes on Jesus" means (Heb. 12:2) Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith. (John 15:14) Your relationship is with Jesus (1John 1:7 thru 2:2) and through Him your relationship is with God.
(Rom. 1:1) You are Jesus' servant (Matt. 23:11) and through that you are a servant to the brethren (1John 3:14-15) in a loving relationship. (Phil. 2:5) Let the mind of Christ be in you, be like Jesus, (Phil. 2:7) because Jesus has a servant's heart. (Matt. 11:29) Jesus said; "learn of me" SO study, study, study. You are studying to determine your eternal destination!
Led by the antichrist spirit, thirsting for fame and using vast reservoirs of carnal, educated, scientific and philosophical knowledge many theologians publish writings that strain to prove the parting of the Red Sea was impossible, to prove Jesus did not rise from the dead, and to prove other miraculous events in the Bible could not have happened as they are written in the Bible. Many seminary produced pastors hold the same beliefs that are taught them by the antichrist spirit led theologians. All you have to do is consult your TV guide to watch programs dedicated to this fallacy.
(2Cor. 11:13-15) There are pastors who base their ministry on some exotic, angel given, magically disappearing golden messages written by a 14 year old boy. (1Tim. 4:1-2) Some pastors base their ministry on a book so far removed from actual ancient scripture it is shocking they would gain a following. Among other facillies they insist on a different Sabbath day and that there is no hell. (Eph. 4:11-24 esp. V.17-19 & 2Tim. 4:3-4) There are pastors who preach and teach their congregations to accept blatant, obvious Biblical sin as an acceptable Christian lifestyle such as the homosexual movement, abortion is acceptable and hallucinogenic drugs should be made legal.
I wish every pretender, professor, prelate, pumpkin head and unredeemed could meet Satan's vicious, unrelenting, straining boiling, evil and hatred as I have. There would be a building boom around the world as frantic people built churches. These pretenders would tear off their frocks, tear out their teeth and run screaming to their brand new altars to kiss Jesus' feet and beg for forgiveness.
(2Cor. 11:13-15) Satan, the angel of light, the false god, the liar, the deceiver, the charmer, the delighter, the attracter, the whisperer, the spell caster, the trapper, the teacher, the leader, slides in on his silken feet and with tender fingers (2Tim. 4:3) he gently scratches itching ears (2Tim. 2:25-26) and snares individuals, snares pastors, snares whole congregations, snares whole denominations, snares whole nations (Rev. 20:8-9) and eventually the whole world (Matt. 7:13-23) and the vast majority of all the people who have ever lived upon this world (Rev. 20:10-15) will watch Satan, the devil, cast into the lake of fire and they will know the same fate awaits them.
(Matt. 16:26) Jesus said; "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" BECAUSE: (James 4:14) "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." AND: (Psa. 103:15-16) "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."
With convulsing, horrified, agonizing dread they will watch the (Rev.20:12-13) books of the Bible, the book of remembrance and the book of life be opened. It will be a time dripping with agonized sadness, with horrified dread, with cringing regret, with a stretching out of endlessness. One by one they will be brought before the final judgment bar to learn their eternal destination, one by one they will hear what is written in the Holy Bible, one by one their lives will be taken out of the book of remembrance, replayed and examined for all to see.
It will be pitiful when they, one by one, turn accusing, terrified eyes and scream to their leaders, their pastors, their deceivers; "Why did you lie, why did you not care, why were you so proud, why were you so selfish, why were you so ignorant, why did you lead us here?"
And God's eyes like lamps of fire will bore into your eyes pastor and awful retribution will glow there but it is not yet time pastor, you must suffer your failure and humiliation until the last person you influenced is judged. Then God will speak to those He is judging one by one; "Why did you resist My call, why did you refuse My Holy Spirit's voice, why did you ignore My Holy Word that was available to you?"
But the most pitiful of all will be when those accountable, one by one, will turn to their parents and scream; "Mom, Dad why didn't you raise me in church, why didn't you teach me, why did you ignore God, why didn't give me a chance? Mommy, help me! Daddy, help me! But God's voice will ask one by one; "Why did you not you heed My Holy Spirit's drawing? Why did you ignore My witnesses I sent to you? Why did you refuse to listen to my preachers on your communication devices?" And you will smother to silence.
Fallen Christians and pastors will be consumed with terror, Presidents will crawl and bawl like babies, politicians who promoted sin with their laws will cringe, shriek and try to shrink away and hide from their deeds, dictators will shiver and shake in dread, movers and shakers will tremble, Supreme Court Justices will cry, business titans will beg, atheists will be horrified there really is a God, idolaters will hate their graven images, their electronics and their other trinkets and they will all scream for mercy.
Congressmen, parliamentarians, governors, henchmen, drug pushers, no rainbow flag will fly and the prancing of pride will turn into a convulsive trembling, drunks, murderers, liars, thieves, adulterers, fornicators, fake Christians and pastors, backslid Christians and pastors, those of the Christless religions, (Rev. 20:11-12) all of them, each one of them would give everything they had ever owned, every sensation they had ever enjoyed, every pleasure they had ever experienced; the small and the great, every one of them, one at a time, will be brought before God's judgment bar.
Then the book of life will be opened, their time of choice they once took so lightly, their grand station in life, all they owned, all their bloated pride of life, all the lies they told to hold themselves high, all they were, all the power they held, everything is gone and they are so alone, so naked, so afraid, (Rom. 14:11-12 & Phil. 2:10-11) and in horror, one by one, one at a time, they will each one bow before Jesus and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and, before God, one by one, one at a time, they will each one confess each and every sin, one by one. Then, one by one, one at a time, each one, will hear the voice of God say; "Your name is not written here in the book of life."
(Rev. 20:15) A mighty angel will take them by their puny arms, one by one, one at a time and cast them screaming and writhing into the lake of fire, (Rev. 20:14 keyword: death) screaming and writhing where death is and will always be, (Rev. 20:10) screaming and writhing to be tormented by a tormented devil for ever and ever, screaming and writhing (Rev. 20:10 & 14 second death) forever dying in the lake of fire and unable to get their dying done because they are living in death itself.
(Heb. 9:27 key: your judgment) You know beyond any shadow of a doubt you will be judged after you die, God's word says it and you know it in your heart! SO: Let me ask you 3 questions. #1) What do you want God to say to you about your life when you stand before Him in judgment? #2) What do you want God to find when He opens the book of life to see if your name is there? #3) How will you act when God looks at you and says; "Your name is not written in the book of life? These are fair questions. Let them jar you into the reality of your future.
IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S JUDGMENT LET US EXAMINE TODAY'S CHURCH
With church leadership like we have studied and human nature being what it is (carnal) the majority of the pastor's flock will readily assume their pastor's God servant posture.
Mediocre pastors and failing pastors, bad pastors and enemy pastors will lead their congregations into #1) a not-like-Jesus-ism superficial love without righteousness, a pretend yoke taking and a pretend cross bearing giving of self without true holiness, #2) a feel-good-ism fellowship, worship, praise and singing type of church service of self-justification, #3) a do-nothing-ism flock feeding, flock protecting, flock teaching without teaching true sanctification #4) and a be-selfish-ism works and community outreach without true commitment. (Matt. 5:14 & 2Thess. 2:3) The true light of the world is dimming (1Thess. 4:13-18) and will soon be gone. Are you listening pastor?
For effect the church in the above paragraph is a (Rev. 3:16) pretend church that makes very little difference in their community because (Rev. 3:1) "that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead." Satanic activity and man's carnality are why the protestant church as a whole in the developed world is in such serious decline! See statistics below.
But this first: (2Thess. 2:3) Yes, there will be a great falling away of the church and the lost shall wonder and marvel because most people naturally know blatant sin when they see it and hear of it. (2Tim. 3:13) Yes, individuals, societies and nations shall wax worse and worse into sin. BUT: (Rev. 3:1-6 esp. V.4) Even when and what we have studied, even in ancient times, even in the ancient church of Sardis there was a true hidden church, a true, hidden church existing and flourishing in the visible, obvious, lukewarm, apostate church.
Our study of Sardis shows us a prophetic picture of the world of today in blazing reality. (Acts 2:16-21) But God has promised you a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 3:19) God has promised you the times of refreshing would come from the Lord in which salvation is offered. (Matt. 3:7) God has instructed you to flee the wrath to come.
The door is still open for you sinners to take advantage of your time of refreshing, to repent of your sins and to obtain salvation. The door is open for you backsliders to take advantage of your time of refreshing, to repent of your backsliding and to obtain renewal for yourselves. Find yourself a fundamentals of Christianity teaching and preaching evangelical church, flee there, listen, learn, study and be ready to accept the offer of salvation from Jesus when He offers you your time of refreshing.
THE CHURCH IN AMERICA: STATISTICS
An average of the 3 widest ranging polls of churches states #1) there are about 275,000 protestant churches in America today which is less than half the number of protestant churches per capita 100 years ago. #2) There are 1/3 less protestant churches per capita in America than there was in 1950. #3) At this time, Sept. 2015, about 3,000 churches close their doors each year and about 1,000 new churches open their doors each year for a net loss (closing their doors for good) of about 2,000 protestant churches per year across America.
A recent report by the Southern Baptist convention stated about 25% of their churches reported zero baptisms in the past year, 60% reported they had zero youth baptisms, age 12-17 years old, and 80% reported they had 1 or zero young adult baptisms, age 18-29 years old.
Those polls show that more than 50% of the American public consider themselves Protestant Christians but in telephone conversations with the respondents only about 17% say they are affiliated with and active in a local church. That result shows there are something over 50,000,000 American Protestant church members. Various polls show wildly different data concerning the number of Christians leaving their protestant church for good. It runs the spectrum from 3,500 per day to 1000 per week.
Data shows lending institutions are foreclosing on protestant church property at an ever increasing rate because churches cannot pay their mortgages. One startling statistic is that several of these churches had assumed mortgages on their property to upgrade their buildings, add more building space, build youth centers and etc. but recent economic setbacks and a declining membership made payment impossible.
Top answers to questions in various polls consisting of in-depth interviews with church leadership and lay members in their understanding of what the Biblical scriptures taught and their knowledge and understanding of their responsibility regarding the functions of their church.
#1) Church members could not scripturally explain how their salvation took place, what it meant and did not understand their part in their congregation.
#2) Church members could not scripturally identify God and how man is made in His image.
#3) Church members did not scripturally understand spiritual growth, producing Christian fruit and developing a personal relationship with Jesus.
#4) The church membership had no clarity as to why it existed. There was no clearly defined mission, no vision and no set in stone purpose for its existence.
#5) Evangelism and evangelistic witnessing were not taught nor stressed.
#6) Scriptural teaching of the method to successfully pray was not taught.
#7) The church membership rarely prayed together. Rarely prayed at home. Very rarely had family prayer at home. Did not give thanksgiving prayer before eating.
#8) Various Christians, members and non-members, had an entitlement attitude instead of a servant attitude. That one required further research. Many members had changed congregations, some multi-times, because they felt they had been insulted, ignored, or "looked down upon" for various reasons in other congregations. That research requires an answer. Jesus said; (Luke 17:1) "It is impossible but that offenses will come." That answer requires meditation. Many Christians deliberately live offended lives, waiting for the slightest hint of insult, so they can move on and consciously or subconsciously dodge the responsibility of being a working, congregational Christian!
#9) Many churches had an aging or elderly majority who were satisfied with past victories. Writer's comment: This is terribly pitiful (Matt. 24:13) because they had lost sight of enduring to the end.
#10) Very little or no passion for serving Jesus in a way that required their expenditure of time and effort outside the church.
#11) Isolation from their community. That also required more research. A person can go out into their community for their normal functions of living and still be isolated within self. This isolation within self causes anxiety about approaching strangers and starting conversations, worry about being ridiculed, concern about rejection, distress about confrontation, fear of violating political correctness when telling people why they need saved or that they will go to hell, dread of being asked Biblical questions.
Timidity about exposing their own tender, private inner self resulting in didn't know how to, didn't care to, afraid to, were not taught how to, were not encouraged to intermingle with strangers. Self isolation defeats witnessing! OR ARE YOU ASHAMED OF JESUS? Worry about racial confrontation. Doubt of ability to relate to other races. Aversion to and prejudice against other races.
(Num. 12:1-16 esp. V.1 key: Moses' brother and sister were against Moses' Ethiopian wife & Acts 17:26 keywords: And hath made of one blood all nations) In God's reality there is only one race; the human race! Other races than yours are God's creation in God's image too. (John 3:14-19) Jesus died for all of us. (1John 3:15) "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life (with Jesus) abiding in him." (Jer. 13:23 & Col. 3:6-11) Racism is a blatant, deadly sin. We are all stuck with whatever skin color and features we have so repent and GET OVER IT!
Observation: All these reasons not to are based on fear. The scriptural remedy: (1John 4:18) "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Yes, at the beginning of breaking free from the bondage of isolation within self it is only natural to feel fear, anxiety, dread, worry and etc. but prayer from a servant's heart, the desire to serve God, recognition of the Holy Spirit's presence and confidence in Jesus' scriptural promises (Rev. 3:5) overcomes those things. OR DO YOU NOT STUDY THE BIBLE ENOUGH AND PRAY ENOUGH TO EVEN KNOW JESUS?
(Prov. 18:24) You must understand all those strange people you fear are people just like you with the same emotions as you. Generally what pleases you will please them, what attracts you will attract them, what offends you will offend them; self depreciating humor is a sure winner, use good manners, kind demeanor, caring attitude and above all things ask the Holy Spirit to pave the way into their hearts for you. IT WORKS!
#12) Did not feel loved.
#13) Did not feel fulfilled.
#14) Hated disagreements and trouble in church.
#15) Believed they received all the Biblical information they needed at church and saw no reason to study at home.
I, the writer, was aghast that someone thinks the answer to the decline of church membership is in the above statistics! (Matt. 24:4-12) obviously many Christians' love for Jesus is growing cold. A huge majority of the church membership has given up its fire for Christ. (Luke 10:2 keywords: the laborers are few & John 4:35-38 Jesus said; keywords: look on the fields for they are already to harvest) The fields are anyplace there are people!
CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA AND OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES DO NOT GO OUT INTO THE PUBLIC VENUE AND WITNESS ABOUT JESUS! (Matt. 24:4-5 keyword: deceive) A pastor who does not teach, preach and encourage witnessing by his congregation is a deceiver. How are people going to know what Jesus can do in their lives if Christians don't tell them what He has done in theirs???? (Matt. 5:14-15) Christians are to be the light of the world. What good is your light if it stays confined in your church house?
Are you listening pastor? "FEED MY SHEEP!"
(Heb. 9:27 key: your death) You know you will die, it is a given, you have attended too many funerals, read too many obituaries and heard about too many deaths to doubt it, you will die, it will happen. (Luke 16:22-31) You will feel your breathe leaving, you will not be able to breathe, you will smother and you, your soul (you the person) will go right along with your breath of life from God (spirit of life) and your grey faced body will be alone and empty in its grave, in its earthiness, in its decay, just like those of Lazarus and the rich man.
(Heb. 9:27 key: your judgment) You know beyond any shadow of a doubt you will be judged after you die, God's word says it and you know it in your heart! SO: Let me ask you lost sinners and you backslid Christians 3 questions. #1) What do you want God to say to you about your sinner's life or your Christian life when you stand before Him in judgment? #2) What do you want God to find when He opens the book of life to see if your name is there?
#3) How will you backslid Christians act if He gravely looks at you and says; "Your name was removed on such-n-such date and spiritually you were so far away from Me you didn't even know the Holy Spirit had departed from you?" OR: "You have been spued out because you were lukewarm? OR: How will you sinners act who died in a lost condition and God gravely looks at you and says; "You never even took the trouble to obtain the salvation I offered you and your name is not written in the book of life!" WHAT WILL YOU DO? WHAT WILL YOU SAY? (Rev. 3:6) "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth to the churches."
God bless you. (Matt. 24:4-13 esp. V.13) I hope and pray you make it, I really do.