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The Church I Want to Belong to is...Terrible

Jared Thurmon
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Read the full article here: https://www.adventistreview.org/1908-18




  • August 2, 2019
    7:00 PM


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Tonight. I don't have smooth words to share with you in fact it won't be easy to listen to and it will be even harder for me to say after realizing the message I was feeling impressed to share tonight like Jonah I started to think of ways in which I could subtly back out of this so as not to disappoint some of you and infuriate others. But here I am. And here we go. I was raised in the 7th Day Adventist Church I experienced 16 years of administering cation I was active in Pathfinders I'm headed to Oshkosh next weekend. For more than 4 years I've had the honor of serving the World Church of the General Conference sitting on numerous committees working on many projects and giving my all to the administration you. And last but not least I serve as a volunteer lay pastor of a wonderful church and the dares Will Georgia. I tell you all of that so that you can see I am a lifer. And I'm committed to Jesus and this movement. But as I look back. At the individuals many of which I grew up with. There is a sad reality. To many of them are missing. These are my friends. Your classmates your sons your daughters your nieces your nephews your grandchildren large numbers of which don't attend church anymore. At least not a 7th Day Adventist Church and I'm sad to say that I don't think many of them want anything to do with it and it's led me to a prayerful conclusion the church I want to belong to is terrible. Now that you know I've checked my timidity at the door. I'm going to practice something you'll hear me preach about often Kandor. Max Du Pree said the 1st role of a leader is to describe reality. And so each of us and at least one since is a leader. We lead a home a ministry an institution a company a child. As a new dad I have this huge amount of new appreciation for moms. And for many of us we lead on multiple levels of life and so as a leader I'd like to describe what I see as our reality tonight. The world by most accounts both secular and religious is a ticking time bomb. From sermons on Sunday sacredness to chants on climate catastrophe Louisville we have a problem. Whether it's the destruction of the family growing intolerance to free speech. Ever increasing tribalism and racism Draco nian surveillance the rapidly growing tension between the rich and the poor. Or the countless attacks on the moral code given to us on Sinai we need no more evidence that we are living in the last moments of time and Ellen White's words are truer than ever thinking the men and women of all classes have their attention fixed upon the events taking place around us they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis. But the Bible says that final events are being held back until something dramatic climactic and terribly disruptive happens with the rim then of Bible prophecy. And in Revelation Chapter 7 verse 3 we hear a warning to some angels hurt not the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads but that sealing that settling into the truth both intellectually and spiritually so that we can not be moved has been stalling as of late. And the temptation for leaders on every level. For whom numbers determine position personnel power and pay is to use whatever number sounds good so long as it is she's the end goal of creating a picture that helps and does not hurt me my teen my company my church my conference my union my division my delegates and my reelection. And it's tempting to share graphs of the millions of visitors to our websites or the 10s of millions of followers on our social media accounts or the hundreds of millions of dollars in our bank accounts offering and balance and reserve funds or the national news stories about how 7th Day Adventists live longer than the rest of the population how we're the most diverse fastest growing denomination in the United States or even the success of our health care and educational institutions we could then in this slide show with a few pictures of soccer stadiums full of believers in line for baptism. But I have a duty as you have a duty as a leader to describe what I see. And here are a few examples from the recent global church member survey by the General Conference the growing disparity between numbers of members on the books and those who attend services each week fewer than half of admin is still satisfied with the state of the local church the number of people joining and leaving or worse joining and staying who don't understand our message or the growing doubt among administers of about a literal creation week heavenly judgment or what really happens when we die. Recent data showing that as a global body most of us have pushed off our belief in the imminent 2nd coming to a date decades into the future. Or the growing reality that fewer of us go out of our way to witness and share our faith now we could look at this data. And say well many other faith groups seem to have it figured out what are the denominations around us doing and we focus less on our distinctives and more on what we have in common my personal opinion is no. Friends and church family we have a problem we have a crisis of leadership and the crisis is not who is in leadership it's a lack of courage and leadership we have a crisis of courage where are the men and women willing to stand for the right though the heavens fall. Where those who are true to duty as the needle to the pole unafraid to call sin by its right name. Unafraid there to lay their careers on the line to do what is right. I believe this is still the greatest one of the world but Israel also had a crisis of courage and the tribes finally got what they wanted a king like the nations around them they wanted to blend in and so all even though he was a head taller than everyone else he blended right in because he wasn't a courageous leader so the Lord tells Samuel the prophet go to Bethlehem to Jessie's house and find me a man with some courage and conviction and so Samuel the original king maker arrives who will be the next king and one by one the sons of Jesse come before him. Ah this must be the one all the degrees all the right letters after his name the rich all of skin tone the experience and he looks the part. But the Lord says no. I have refused him I don't see as man sees man looks at the outward appearance but I look at the heart. And we learn here that appearances can be deceiving humans often look for all the wrong qualities in a leader. A title does not make a leader a pedigree does not make a leader the color of one's skin should never be the differentiating factor. Many today follow those with titles because they believe they have to not because they want to and we need leaders who fear nothing who crave duty and pick up responsibility for such a time as this so finally Samuel runs out of strapping young men to annoy me as King Jesse anymore well yeah I want out in the pasture and David is annoying to king and told he will one day be the leader of Israel but he goes back to doing what he loves one of the 2 things Ellen White says are most favorable for character development caring for animals and so he spends his days caring for sheep composing and playing music and slinging rocks but Saul Meanwhile sols back at the palace and he's miserable and his counselors realize we've got to do something for this guy well we know about the power of music on mood and how the right music can conjure or conquer demonic spirits so David is called in. And it works and Saul is that piece but the future leader of Israel is exposed to a toxic culture of leadership 1st hand. At the highest levels of the movement what happens when young aspiring followers of Jesus are exposed to self absorbed self serving leaders they inevitably get discouraged we're told in Scripture that you will know a tree by its fruit and Saul was an unkind impatient coward who made excuses is it possible that with people come around us as leaders in the Advent movement they see these trees producing abundant flowers but instead yielding bitter fruit. Ellen White wrote Men may profess faith in the truth but if it does not make them kind sincere patient forbearing heavenly minded it is a curse to its possessors and through their influence it is a curse to the world. Insincere and timid leadership is a curse was a curse to ancient Israel and insincere a timid leadership is a curse to God's people to day at every level and ultimately to the world you know sometimes God takes us down a path that we would not choose for ourselves and so as he did with David in the court of Saul there are many times when we're exposed to leaders and organizations from whom we learn Brace yourselves what not to do when our time comes around to leave and that is a bitter experience and we're told after his days in the court David love to go back home to the pastors under the azure firmament to see the stars staring down at him but a day of decision was coming. Israel was on the verge of a time of trouble such as never was with God's enemies and for nearly 40 days ago Elias had been taunting Israel and everyone was filled with fear but just then the shepherd and the singer the fighter in the sling or strolls into the camp of Israel. And he hears the taunts of this fella Stein and he asks why men who were supposed to be warriors the watchman in Israel. Were standing around and letting him say these things are you going to do something about this. And there are vibrant spirits among us today those who see a different reality than the one often painted by leadership and they have every right to ask why are you standing there in that position with that power and doing nothing why don't you do something well this is the way we've always done it will not work anymore well this is in the policy book section 13 paragraph 4 is not going to lead anyone into battle. We're told if God bores hates one sin above another of which his people are guilty it is doing nothing in a case of an emergency indifference or neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God but David has come to the kingdom for this moment he knows this is the time to speak a word for the Lord and to fight back the temptation like many of us face to keep silent. This is no time for indifference and the status quo it is time for disruption Israel was in a crisis of leadership Saul didn't have the courage to do what was needed and right in that moment. But God had a leader waiting in the wings and those wings were the wings of some mighty angels. And the White Council to stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority for sake us to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others courage from their cowardice and loyalty from their treason and when David gains an audience with the king he explains his concerns about the status quo. Oh and he shares with the king his awesome resume I kill bears and lions and this giant will be like one of them and true to form Saul surrenders and David has given some armor some methods for doing things as they all ways have been done and he's tempted to fight in another's armor. But then he turns back into the tent and I'm sure you heard some whispers has fear gotten the best of him but for too long God's people have been responsive reactive on the defense and David says oh no this is time for Often it's I don't need shields in armor I need lightness and speed and he walks out of that tent with a stick and a sling. There was a reason though that Israel was afraid. In order to compete with the world to be players on the world stage to be respectable they actually had to go to the world to the Phyllis Stein's to get their weapons. And those weapons were foreign to them and they did not know how to fight. But the leaders who had been schooled in the West Point of fear and in the classroom of cowardice told them this is the way the world does it. Real leaders have the courage to stand against the crowd even their own crowd. They don't need approval they just need a calling they don't do what's easy they do what's necessary. And David walks into that valley fully confident in his god in the methods had taught him but I think something else was going through David's mind as he walked towards this impending crisis. You think David was proud of what Israel God's people had become or is it possible that the demons of doubt and discouragement tried to whisper in his ears what's the point why risk your life your career your reputation just wait until you're retired to say that right that. But in that moment of destiny David realized that God had been preparing him his entire life for this moment he did not like what Israel had become a commune of cowards but what Israel could become this was what illuminated his sanctified imagination. The Israel he wanted to belong to that's what drove him forward faith in what could be not and what was. Yellow white warned us unless the church which is now being leavened with her own backsliding shall reap pent and be converted she will eat the fruit of her own doing until she shall or herself. And I just wonder if we are eating the fruit of our own doing is it just me or is anyone else concerned about what we have become are we that nation in Isaiah 58 who believes they're doing righteousness wonders why God is not noticing them or hearing their prayers stay with me allow me to describe a little more reality today we see a movement in which so many of our young adults go through admin is schools only to be inoculated against our mission and message. This is a tragedy that deserves our immediate attention. Lucifer's been put on notice. If we did some soul searching with the fruit. With the results with the reality of our educational system would we be proud of what we see data from church surveys consistently show us that nearly 70 percent of our young people our best brightest our future leave us as soon as they are no longer under our immediate care and before the crisis broke soul in Israel thought they were fine. All was well after all they were God's chosen people aren't they. But we know that character is revealed in a crisis and the message of the white shared more than a century ago applies to us today the message to the Laodiceans is applicable to 7th Day Adventists who have had great light and have not walked in the light it is those who have made great profession but have not kept in step with their leader that will be spewed out of his mouth unless they repent but what is really receiving that message look like what is the metric that we will know God's people are starting to receive the message this testimony if received will arouse to action and lead to self a basement and confession of sins it will lead us to begin to think differently and to do differently true repentance and confession are more than words votes documents and coalitions the great sin in Christ's day was the belief that a mere assent to the truth constituted righteousness that because we think right we must be right friends and church family we cannot keep silent any longer we cannot keep telling that we are rich increased in membership and in need of nothing we can't keep claiming that this is a great Adventism that we have built because we all know too well. Far too well that something something isn't right. If the winds of prophecy are being held back because Jesus loves his remnant too much to see them lost then what are we to do I believe when we recognize what we have become when we admit the I'm possibility of putting a good face on every thing we do and then by God's grace confess it to the world and to the Lord we are miserable wretched poor blind and naked we have gloried in ourselves rather than Him His glory that we have heaped up the blessings of heaven for ourselves and I'll admit in my own life I came to a point where I nearly gave up on the Advent movement I felt overwhelmed by discouragement because I would read the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and I would look at the reality around me something doesn't line up here do I give up on the testimony of Jesus or do I give up on the movement itself and like Jesus disciples. I asked where else would I go. I have friends you have sons and daughters classmates nieces nephews grandchildren who have left this movement their absence keeps me up at night I toss and turn in my bed as I think about my friends dozens of classmates that no longer walk with the Lord or the remnant and I ask why did they leave and why am I still here and from that tossing in the middle of the night a thought has emerged I don't think those friends. Sons daughters classmates nieces nephews and grandchildren left the remnant church it left them. It left them thinking that the current state of the church the church of Laodicea is the rim that foretold in prophecy and what they learned to call Adventism Jesus weeps over as Laodicea So why do I stay in this movement declared by its prophetic messenger to be in feeble old and defective because I've read her past I've read the future in those red books that sit on my library shelf I've seen glimmers of hope not from what I see but from what I read from conversations I have and for moments like this I proudly call myself a 7th Day Adventist not because of what is but because of what can be I fear sometimes that we have done nearly everything God warned us not to but I also know he hasn't given up on this movement his bride his church this remnant people is the only object on earth upon which he bestows His supreme regard and it is still the theater of his grace look at God's goodness if it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance there is a lot of goodness we live longer we know how to prevent disease we're not a reverse disease we pretty much know all the answers to the problems this world is facing and yet I'm afraid that we have put those things in a vault. Locked it and thrown away the key. And we're sitting on this diamond mine of truth and how we owe it to the world to open it up live it and share it with everyone we can contact come in contact with a read about the church I want to belong to a living breathing movement that keeps moving closer and closer to the calling that Jesus has for her and as that rock left David sling all heaven rejoiced at the courage of one man in a moment the fate of Israel the culture of Israel and the trajectory of God's movement forever changed never forget how one man one woman one young adult one leader like you can make a difference I still believe this movement can pivot and that it's great decisive pivot will forever change the course of history I still believe a divine disruption is coming but. It's going to require us to confess our personal collective and corporate sin and selfishness and until this happens I question if anything will change by the grace of Jesus we can do this David had the faith of Jesus he saw what could be not just what was he saw possibilities not just impossibilities and with that in mind I want to share 2 things on my heart 1st with Jesus I weep over what we have become and I want to confess my sin and my selfishness in any and every way that has brought us to this point and I hope that more leaders leaders like you will do the same. 2nd there are countless individuals in this movement who are desperately looking for hope and tonight I'd like to begin a conversation about what can be if what we have been told is true one day we will recognize how God qualifies men and women by His Spirit and not by our votes and not by our degrees one day we will see a mighty movement such as the world has never witnessed one day we will stop building programs and infrastructure for our reputations and we will go into the cities and do a work to relieve the suffering of humanity around us we will do this not for our own glory but for the glory of him who sits on the throne one day we will remember our 1st calling to prevention and education in health care one day we will get back to true education teaching young men and women how to think and not be mere reflectors of other men's thoughts one day more of us will be unashamed to preach about the giant of our day the culture of Babylon and her crumbling system of selfishness one day those who identify with the remnant movement will be the most kind most patient most unselfish people on the earth and one day Jesus will stand up and he will say Well done my people are ready they've held nothing back they finally invested their treasure in heaven a world has been warned and many have been one to the remnant the bride of Christ but I realize that day may not be today. But it will be one day so I'm going to wait and pray for the patience of the Saints until the day when the Lord lays our glory in the dust and does for us what it is not in our power to do for ourselves and my prayer is this lord we have gloried in our growth yet so many we love have walked away we've gloried our rightness and not your righteousness or to help us to glory in this that we know you Lord please forgive us please bring your glory back to this movement Lord we want to look forward to that day when we joyfully inhabit not just the church I want to belong to but the one our friends and families and classmates and sons and daughters want to belong to as well Lord we want to be a part of that movement of where Solomon writes Who is she that looks forth as the morning Phares the moon clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners. Or the church I want to belong to is Tara. This media was produced by audio verse 40 and song avenues Lehmann's services and industry. If you would like to learn more as. A scientist. Or if you like this. Leave as a. Body of verse.


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