Pastoral Articles

High Alert

Lake Highlands goes on HIGH ALERT in Wake of Home Invasions/Assaults

But should we not be hungry for something beyond security?

Pastor Jeff VanGoethem

Our relatively sleepy neighborhood went on High Alert recently after three home invasions and sexual assaults occurred back to back to back in the Lake Highlands neighborhood.  It was frightening.  The M.O. of the perpetrator included silence, daring and violence, leading to widespread concern about safety.   Police work eventually indicated it was likely the same unidentified suspect involved in all three incidents.  I certainly thought about it.  I reviewed my home security.  I wondered to myself  “if I was this no good, rotten criminal, how would I break into my house?”  I upgraded my home security equipment.  I talked turkey with my wife and daughter.  In the neighborhood, there was a strong response.

  • The local authorities, particularly the police, swung into action on many fronts. 
    • They were active, involved, and communicating.
    • They did a great job and eventually nabbed the guilty party.
    • Thank God.
  • The rapt attention of the neighborhood was secured through various meetings, emails, and other means of communication.
  • Special informational meetings were held.
  • Self-defense training was offered.
  • Home security advice was given.
  • Even a prayer meeting was called for

Why was all this done?  Well, our security was threatened.  There was fear.  Peace of mind had been stolen away.  We feel more powerless when something like this is going on.  It gets your attention.  So we rise from our slumber and take action, doing on our side whatever it is we can do. Our hearts go out to the victims of course, but then we also think constructively about what our response should be.  It was an unusual period in our neighborhood and one which awakened just about everyone.

But for those of us who are believers is there not a spiritual lesson in all this?  It was something to watch a neighborhood awaken. Do we not also need an awakening in America?  Should the church not be rousing itself from slumber?  Think about what we face:

  • Just step outside your private world for two minutes and you’ll get a plateful of moral and spiritual decline.  It is evident everywhere. It is the prevailing trend of our day.  Talk to a school teacher sometime about what it is to deal with children and “families” these days.  Ask my wife who delivers babies amongst a largely “inner city” clientele.
  • Our religious freedoms are in retreat.
  • The percentage of people professing no religion is at an all-time high and growing.  Population growth is outstripping church growth by a wide margin.
  • Broken homes abound.  The number of children born out of wedlock is almost even with the number born to intact families.
  • Our society is just now on the cusp of a full embrace of the untested waters of homosexual marriage (and scrapping the historic and trans-cultural definition of marriage).  Wow.  Who knows where this will go?
  • Think about the use of alcohol and drugs among college students and other young people. Epidemic.
  • Meanwhile churches are in a competitive contest to see which can be the biggest, most trendy and spectacular, while avoiding a real commitment to re-evangelize our society.  Casual and superficial Christianity is far more popular and common than serious discipleship.

Are we sleeping?  Maybe we do not perceive the threat because it is not as immediate as some criminal crawling in through our windows.  But let’s face it, it has been 150 years since America last saw wide spread awakening and revival.  The church has been in eclipse for a generation.  Have we gotten used to the absence of God?  In one of the newspaper articles covering the Lake Highlands affair, one person was quoted after they caught the perpetrator, “Now we can go back to our normal lives.”  Friends I don’t think we in the church can just return to normal.  Normal today is the sleepy, me-first, churchianity we see all around us. Our movement is in decline, serious decline. In our personal spiritual lives, in our church involvement, in our ministry commitments, in our prayer lives and prayer meetings, we need to go on HIGH ALERT.   What might that looks like?  Here are some thoughts.

H High view of God.  Let’s replace the cult of self, with the worship of a high and holy God.  Let’s humble ourselves and return to His feet.

I Involvement in the Lord’s work.  Let’s set aside the playground of the world and build God’s church. We do not need big churches, we need strong churches, where discipleship is taken seriously.

G Going – let’s get going in evangelism.  Let’s get prayed up and trained up and believe God to help us re-evangelize our society.

H Hunger – let’s hunger and pray for a deeper experience with God.  We need His presence and power.

 

A Always faithful.  Let’s be pillars of the church not buttresses (which only support from the outside).  Let all of us take our place as givers, servers, and workers. As we reach people for Jesus, we want to welcome them to a strong church.

L Learning to pray.  We won’t get through to people until we get through to God.  Let’s be growing in our prayer lives.

E Everyone.  Everyone pulling the wagon.  All believers active, supportive, unified in the Lord’s work.  No idlers, no half Christians, no MIA Christians.   All in.

R Repenting before God.  What do we need to confess?  What is in our lives that prevents God from working powerfully?

T Time for God.  Are we meeting with God?  Are we present at worship?  Are we in the prayer meeting?  Have we allowed other things to squeeze out time for God?

 

It all comes does to each one of us.  In the Lake Highlands drama, the police did their part.  Homeowners and neighbors jumped in to help.  The newspaper was on it. Emails were spread around.  And individuals like myself took stock, made changes and took appropriate action.  In similar fashion, each believer today must embrace the crisis we face in the church and in the society.  I think it is time to be on High Alert. In each of our spiritual lives, in each of our churches, it is time for a strong response.  Are we awake?  Are we hungry? Are we working?  Are we serious about discipleship?  Are we serious about seeking God?

Brethren let us not be sleeping while danger lurks.  What steps might God have you take in order to be on High Alert?   

“Awake O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  (Ephesians 5:14).

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