The Pews Were Not Empty!
By Dr. Mike Murphy
“As we woke that Thursday morning, it was obvious something was wrong. I looked over and my wife was still asleep. As I looked across the room, all I could see was darkness. With the power out, I eased out of bed and walked through the house. I glanced out the window, and could see the power was out through the entire neighborhood. I remember thinking to myself that we would finally have a peaceful morning. A morning without distractions, a time I could quietly read my newspaper without the world bothering me.. But as I opened the door, I could quickly see that something greater was wrong.”
“As I searched for the newspaper that was not there, I noticed a car in my neighbor’s front lawn. The car was parked strangely in front of their yard, and no one was around it to be found. As I suddenly became more aware of my surroundings, I looked across the street to see something else that made no sense. The garage door had been left wide open, and the rear door of their SUV was still up. Tom and Jan Buckley were two of the most paranoid people you would ever meet. They would not go out into their backyard without locking every door and turning on the alarm. For them to leave the door up and the vehicle open all night was just unthought of.”
“So I made my way across the street to make sure everything was okay. As I entered the garage, I could see clothes lying on the floor. They were not scattered, but laid on the garage floor as if someone had dropped them all in place. I called out for the Buckleys, but no one answered. No one was there. Now I was starting to become concerned.”
“As I made my way back to the house, I noticed again the car that was parked in the neighbor’s yard. As I made my way to it, I noticed again clothes. Laying on the drivers seat, was another full set of clothing. Now my mind began to race. Just what was going on? My first thought was to make sure my wife, Stacy, was still okay. I hurried into the house, to find her still asleep. I woke her in a panic, explaining to her all that I had just seen.”
“I guess some things must be seen to be believed, as she thought I was playing a joke on her. I grabbed her by the hand, and took her to see what I had just seen. I watched as the color left her face. Immediately she ran into the house and picked up the phone. She tried to call our daughter, who was away at college. To our horror, the phone did not work. We tried the cell phone, but those were out also. Without power, we began to search for anything we could find that would help us to figure out just what was going on. We still had a portable radio, but as we turned the knob, we soon learned that no channel could be heard. All we could hear was the disappointment of static.”
“It was late Friday night before the power returned, and even later before the phones began to work again. As we watched the television, we soon saw every channel filled with news of what had occurred. What had happened in our neighborhood was not an isolated incident. The whole world over had seen similar events. Vehicles left abandoned. Planes that had fell from the sky without any sign of why. Chaos and destruction everywhere you looked. Countless dead, and an untold number of others missing. No one knew why or how. Many speculated, but no one had any answers.”
“We were so grateful to hear the phone ring. It was our daughter, telling us that she was okay. She told us that Amber, her roommate, was among the missing. We had known Amber her whole life. We had watched as she had grown up, and had attended church for years with her family. We would later learn that her family was missing also. As shaken as we were by the news of Amber, we were just happy to hear our daughter’s voice.”
“As Saturday turned to Sunday, we found ourselves wondering about others. The phone lines were so overwhelmed that calling anyone had become all but impossible. So being Sunday morning, we decided to follow our usually routine. We got dressed and made the short drive to the church we attended. We just wanted to see some familiar faces, and talk to those we had known for years. As we arrived, we did not know what to expect. Whose face we would see, and which faces would we not see. Faces we knew we may never see again.”
“As we arrived, we could not believe what we saw. Others had evidently felt as we had felt, yearning to be with familiar faces, they had also come that morning. Although we did see a few new faces, we were surprised at just how many of the same, recognizable faces we saw as we entered the doors. As we walked in the sanctuary, we were surprised to see that the pews were not empty, but filled with friends we had known for years. I will never forget that Sunday morning, as the pastor prayed from the pulpit for all those that had left us. His message that morning brought us to tears, a message of God’s love for all those around the world. And how one day, everyone the world over, would be together in Heaven. A day we would once again be with those who we had mysteriously lost.”
The Rapture! A day so many of us anticipate, and cannot wait to experience! A day of hope and promise, a day that will change this world forever. Many in the Church today read the above story and chuckle. They see the Rapture an a fable, the wild interpretations of babbling fools. They would turn their nose up at the story above, calling it nothing more than the writings of unenlightened fiction. They would quickly ask, “If this so-called Rapture was real, how could we ever believe that the events that followed, would include a church full of members?” As I watch the recent events of the Church today, I begin to wonder just how much of this story will one day be fiction, and how much will one day be factual.
As we read and observe decisions that many of our denominations are making in recent years, we cannot help but be filled with frustrations and questions. And as we hear the answers to these questions, we are left with nothing but even more frustrating questions. If you could go back fifty years, and tell a church-going Christian about the state of the Church today, what do you think their response would be? They would find more fiction in the story you were telling them than in the above story!
In recent years, we have watched as denominations have made God and His Word unwelcome within the walls of their churches. We have watched in horror as sin has become an accepted part of their doctrine. We have watched as God’s Word has been compromised, as many churches now look to appease the world instead of teaching the proven truth the Lord has given us. And we have watched as denominations has placed the reasoning and logic of men, above the inerrant wisdom of God.
Recently, I found myself speaking to a group of ministers above this topic, and where it was leading. One commented that he could not believe he was watching these denominations make the same mistake over and over. As I thought about his words, I began to realize that they were not making a mistake. An old saying began to ring in my mind, ‘You cannot make the same mistake twice’. The second time you make it, it can no longer be a mistake. At that point it becomes a choice!
We are watching today as so many in the Church as openly choosing to ignore God. We watch as the Scripture is defined in terms of who we might offend, instead of who we might save. We watch as the Proven Word, is now being taught as the allegorical word. And we watch today as many churches offers its’ members degrees in righteousness. The degree of self-righteousness, where their own desires at looked upon before God’s will is sought.
With our ‘newfound insight’, we can see where this godless approach is leading the Church. In a recent poll, only forty-five percent of this nation has confidence in or trusted the Church. Over three-fourths, seventy-six percent believe the Church is losing its’ influence, no longer seen as a voice to lead our society. And when asked about the Scriptures, only twenty-two percent believe that the Bible is God’s spoken word. Think about what this poll shows us. Most of this nation does not listen to the Church, does not know the message of the Church, and does not believe what they hear from the Church. And when we take a second to think about it, how can we question their logic. How do we expect our society and our nation to listen and believe the Word of God, when we no longer teach and follow the Word of God? How does this nation see Christ when they look at us, when we have chosen to no longer reflect the image of Christ?
Now is the time that the Church got back to being the Church. We need to remember and return to the purpose Christ created us for, and called us to be. We must again find our way back to discipleship, Finding ourselves with a desire to be deep-rooted in His message and His Word, and and willing to take that message of Christ to the world around us. We must again seek to glorify God, showing the world the triumph that can only come through the salvation of Christ. Having His values reflected in our values for all to see. And we must again strengthen the body of Christ, equipping each with the tools to overcome sin, and proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to all who will hear. As we take this message to the world, we must again remember what Christ taught us that true love is. The love Christ taught cannot be found in the acceptance of sin, but can only be present when we show the world how Christ alone can help us to overcome the stranglehold that sin has on our lives.
Before it is too late, the Church must return to its’ first love. We must find again the passion that drew us to the Cross. We must open our mind to the sinful realities of this world, and open our heart to the Truth of the promised next world. Now is the time for the Church to choose, and now is the time that the Church got that choice right. We must once again proclaim His Word, so that the pews may be found full today. So on that glorious future day, the pews will be found empty!
Praying each of you will make a choice for Christ!