A Lament for the American Church

Their words ring out from their inlaid plinths,

Rising up with urgent power,

A cry escapes their lips,

Words spill forth from their tongues,

But all is emptiness.

 

Each man wants his ears tickled with promises,

Each woman desires to hear ease.

Nothing which requires detachment from their culture,

Will be tolerated by their insensitive ears.

Only comfort and liberality are acceptable.

 

They absorb social platitudes,

Substituting them for scripture.

Preaching them from the pulpits and in the classroom.

Syncretism is the order of the day, for purity is not their priority.

Vainly they seek justice as they turn their backs on its source.

 

Sitting in rows of calm self-assurance they cast their verdict on those outside,

While claiming broadminded sympathy.

But their compassion reaches only to those who undermine the Lord,

It is conspicuously absent for those who love Him,

For those who know and abide by His word.

 

They decry the plight of the poor,

While ceding their care to the state.

The Lord of Life knows their murder of children,

The Lord of Light makes known their support of sin,

And He will not hold blameless the one who falsely speaks in His Name.

 

Their services of worship have become a social gathering,

They are only concerned with the lesser things.

Righteousness is scorned,

And their hearts only desire comfort.

Their devotion is plastic and their praise is false.

 

Let no minister of the Lord challenge,

Or pastor exhort to grow.

Let no studied woman encourage the reading of the scriptures,

Or sound man call upon the Spirit to change lives.

All hearts are dull, and ears stopped, against the instruction of the Lord.

 

Dare not, O faithful man, to desire more time of gathering,

For all is empty in the Houses of the Lord,

Doctrine is ridiculed and nonsense exalted.

Dare not to call for the precepts of the Lord to be read aloud in the assembly,

For it might require urgency from the comfortable.

 

Raise songs in the choir about what you have done,

And let emotional interlude with the guitar and the organ surge.

But the words will fade just like the ones who sing,

And the sounds will echo back from their painted ceilings.

They are all empty, devoid of meaning.

 

Even the sacraments are dishonored by these who call on the Lord,

Bread defiled by yeasts of sin,

Wine neglectfully swallowed,

Water given all or no significance.

For their hearts are regulated by lunch or television and their minds by the clock.

 

They argue for purity of service, and simplicity of design,

But their hearts are as bare of the cross as the walls of their sanctuary,

And their minds are bare of the Spirit.

The lights and the fogs of your worship offer nothing to the Lord,

All it musters is empty flutters of emotion.

 

For emotion is their king,

A king who demands ever greater devotion.

Vacant feelings divorced from a firm foundation,

Will cause drift to the mystic,

And storms will smash her into the rocks.

 

Yes, emotion is their king,

A king who measures success by a feeling

But the feelings will pass and will leave the servant lost.

He will grope like a blind man,

He will stumble as if he is lame.

 

For his hope has been cast far away from the Spirit,

Far away from the precepts of God.

Where is his map?

Where is his guide?

To whom shall he go when life turns against him?

 

For God in His righteousness has declared what is good.

To whom shall we go to learn better?

To whom shall we turn to know the mind of the Creator?

Does man know what is decent and proper?

No!  All that comes out of man is evil and will lead to hell.

 

Power is in the hand of the Almighty.

Strength is in His arms and wisdom on His tongue.

By the word of His mouth has He formed the earth,

A million million intricate details of perfection.

A billion billion interactions between them.

 

Who is man to question the sovereignty of the Almighty?

To banish His words from the sanctuary?

And His doctrines from the heart?

For God knows it all and nothing escapes His notice.

He will break all the plans of man upon His knee.

 

He will take in his hands the works of the strong,

And snap them like a twig.

He will make foolish the plans of the wise.

He will dissolve the iron will of the scoffer,

And laugh out loud at his pitiful state.

 

Why join with the world in their failures, O church?

Is Babylon the source of what is good?

Does New York provide all that you love?

Or Washington all that you admire?

Is Hollywood your guide?

 

They all, like Sodom, will be no more,

And like Gomorrah their glories will fail.

But the words of the Lord last forever.

His mercies are from everlasting,

And His grace is an abundant stream.

 

Throw away all the rubbish which supposedly entertains.

Rid yourselves of the constant strife of earthly politics.

Pray to God that He may shed from you the film of mildew which deadens the soul.

Ask Him to chip away at the encrusted filth around your heart;

A filth left by years of indifference to the stagnant pools of culture in your soul.

 

For the Lord of Hosts, though mighty and just,

Is merciful and patient with those who seek Him,

And grace is His inclination for those who honor Him.

He has snatched the spoiled jar and expertly remade him;

He has assembled the bones of the dead woman in order to breathe new life into her. 

 

But for the wicked and the indifferent,

What will save him?

Will his empty promises to the One who knows His heart save him?

Will his incessant pleading for acceptance on his own terms save him?

Will his repetition of consecrated words, spoken with unclean lips, save him?

 

Fill the pulpit of the Lord’s church with words from the Holy Scriptures!

Fill the Lord’s house with Psalms of Thanksgiving!

Fill every heart with prayers of contrition,

And may songs of adoration be on the lips of those who claim the Lord of Heaven!

Fill every day with humility and magnify God alone!

 

For the worship of God’s true church shall be known by an insatiability for Him;

For a hunger and thirst for His righteousness.

And Godly pain will make His people evident;

As they mourn their own sin and desires.

May the Lord set free the hearts of His people to truly honor Him.

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