A Disturbing Trend.
A recent poll found that religion and family values have greatly decreased in their importance to Americans in the last 25 years. The same poll also found that while these values decreased, the value of money to Americans has increased. I was saddened, but not surprised, to hear that only 39% of those surveyed considered religion ‘very important,’ a decrease from 62% in 1998. This confirms the anecdotal evidence that I have seen myself over these years. I have commented to several people that the spiritual fervency that I remember from the late nineties does not seem to exist in many places. Many people have fallen by the wayside, and many churches have dialed back their services. It used to be that churches had vibrant Sunday night services, but now it is difficult to find a church that even has Sunday night services. And not only this, but Wednesday night services are not as they used to be, with some churches doing away with even them.
I have fond memories of the late nineties. We would worship and dance around the church, we would run, we would sing and rejoice together. There were many altar calls, with many tears. Sometimes we would pray for long periods of time, once praying past midnight on a Sunday night. I don’t think it is just nostalgia, I think it is a real decline in spirituality. I think many Christians have lost their first love. They are more concerned with their work, or their hobbies, or their sports. It used to be a big issue whether or not Christians would skip church to watch the Super Bowl. But now it’s not an issue, because, as mentioned, hardly any churches have Sunday night services. And there were never sports on Sunday for children in times past, but now it is normal for children to be playing sports on Sundays. I’m not saying this so that we should campaign for the way things used to be, but I am simply remarking that this is a result of serious spiritual decline.
And money… This one has really got us. Many Christians have removed their eyes from the kingdom of God and placed them on the kingdom of this world. Having nice things and going to nice places has certainly ruined the spirituality of some, and utterly shipwrecked the faith of others; ‘for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).
What can we do? It would behoove many people to ‘sell what they have, give to the poor, and come follow Jesus.’ If any of us are not willing to do this in a moment, we are not worthy of the kingdom of God. It would do us well to seriously examine our hearts, to see if it harbors any idols. And then we must thoroughly smash them to bits. We also must examine how we spend our time. Our time is our service. Are we prioritizing service to God? Prayer? Study? Church attendance? Evangelism? Jesus said that the solution to our lost love was to ‘repent and do the first works.’
Polls show that spirituality has declined in the last 25 years. I pray fervently that such a trend is reversed in our country. But even if it is not, we can make sure that the burning love in our own hearts for Christ does not wax cold. Don’t allow the world to carry away your heart with its temporal lusts. Keep the altar of your heart burning brightly for Christ, offering sacrifices on it daily, looking for the soon return of our King.
I’ve been a pastor now for about nine months. It has been a wild ride. We have endured great difficulty in our short time here at the church, but I do not believe it is in vain. Despite setbacks, things have turned for the better. We have lost some members, but gained some, as well. We also have a core group now that is more excited and motivated than when we had larger numbers. Our unity is better than ever. And I, as the pastor, have more personal joy and peace in the Lord than I have had in a long time. My times with Jesus have been very sweet. I have had many powerful times in prayer. The difficulties have driven me to Jesus. I have come to trust in Him more and more as my source of strength and the source of any success we will have as a church. He has shown me my weakness, but also His sufficiency. I believe we have turned a corner. I look forward to reporting many testimonies in the months to come.
The Chaffee Family
Our family is doing well! The kids are growing. We are still praying about a house. Nothing has materialized as of yet, but we trust the Lord will provide us the right house at the right time. But thanks to the Lord, and to our supporters, all of our needs are met.
Please continue to pray for our church. Pray that God would provide a solid foundation of good Christian families to help undergird the church. Help me in prayer concerning evangelism. I am earnestly praying for effective ideas to evangelize our community.
We appreciate you all and pray for the Lord’s blessing over your and your families! God Bless – Hal
One thought on “March Newsletter 2023”
Thank you so much Pastor Hal for your encouraging words in your writings. I really enjoy reading and learning from your deep devotion and love for our God!
You and your family are precious to me.
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