Truth and Error
A cat scan revealed a shadow on my left kidney. An MRI followed and confirmed a growth. Based on experience doctors decided the growth is a tumor that needs medical attention.
Dr. Pritchard at Martha Jefferson Hospital recommended we meet with Dr. Raj (what people call him). About 8 AM he entered the room where Laila and I had been led by a nurse.
Greetings over he explained the location of the tumor, its expected rate of growth at and different options of treatment.
Then he said: "Now the way we get through this is we have terrific video with music by an excellent gospel artist. This room we are in is soundproof allowing for 100 decibel volume. We have luxurious reclining chairs to enjoy the presentation."
"What we want you to do is forget about the word cancer. Forget about surgery. Forget about treatment."
"Our objective is for you to feel good. Be happy. Do not worry about anything. Put pain, death and dying out of your mind."
"The music and video will take you on an out-of-the-body experience. You will feel close to heaven. You will not even think of pain."
"Remember, our objective here at the hospital is your happiness. We have spent millions of dollars to guarantee you an experience that will be the thrill of your life."
"Bon Voyage!" he said as he went out the door and the lights darkened.
For the next hour Laila and I were raptured in heavenly music choreographed with astounding videos. The quality of music was exquisite. The energy by performers was worthy of Chicago Music Hall.
The lights came on. We had not realized that during our ethereal adventure the room had been transformed. There were nurses, technicians, an anesthesiologist and surgeons.
"Dr. Raj," I said, "I do not understand."
"Well, Pastor Bare, we are delighted you enjoyed the music and video. But the truth is surgery will be necessary to save your life!" he said.
The 1960's Hippies brought to us a moral slide of LSD and sexual revolution. The 1970's Yippies brought to us the end of the Vietnam War and the increase of abortion and divorce.
The 1980's brought to us the failure of the mainstream church and erosion of public trust in organized religion. Just when young people were beginning to realize their hedonistic lifestyles were disastrous the church closed its doors and isolated itself from desperate cries for help.
Hippies and Yippies who were turning to Jesus often found they had to create their own worship environment. They had not grown up in church singing hymns. In bars, on beaches, in parks, and coffeehouses songs of joy and Jesus were written by people who knew little about orthodox religion. Often these songs were accompanied by a guitar.
Praise and Worship (P&W) was born. By the late 1980's P&W was being introduced from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal churches. Simple songs. Feel-good songs. Songs well intentioned, but often theologically shallow made folks feel so good they decided to stand, sing and dance.
Bible study was abandoned. Church nurseries became playgrounds. Sermons were light and easy to make folks feel good. "God loves everybody" was emphasized. Not much talk about hell. The atmosphere was welcoming to sinners without conviction for sin. Not much talk about Jesus. Nice life stories and do-good.
We sowed to the wind. We reaped a whirlwind. Studies indicate today’s"Christians" are theologically shallow. Rainbows hang outside some churches. Biblical orthodoxy is missing. Tithing changed to whimsical giving. Family devotions and reading the Bible became archaic. Sports became the new god of many church folks. Folks easily spend more on their toys and vacations than all their tithes and giving to Jesus.
I am thankful for Covenant. We never stopped Bible study. We never stopped discipleship. We have Bible study every Sunday between morning services. We never stopped preaching the word of God. We refused to take the bait. We refused to join the "feel-good" crowd.
Do not misunderstand. P&W that is theologically sound and exalts Jesus is awesome. At Covenant we carefully vet theology of music and who sings.
One day when the music of this world stops we will bow our knees before Jesus and acknowledge him Lord of All (II Peter 3:10).
Sin is still sin. Hell is to be shunned. Heaven is to be gained. We press forward with diligence not being deceived by the gods of this world.
Jesus will come for a Church that is looking for his return (Ephesians 5)!
The question is whether we will daily deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)!
P.S. We give thanks for Pastor McCready's sermons leading us through the I & II Peter series. I pray to be able to share the final message of this series August 25.