Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reflections from the whirlwind...

In 1st Kings 19:9-18, we have the interesting account of the prophet Elijah going through a bout of depression, hiding in a cave because the wicked Queen Jezebel was seeking to kill him. In chapter 18, we're told that Elijah had exercised profound faith against the prophets of Baal, had seen God send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and altar proving He is the true God and the people responded by seizing the 450 prophets of the idol Baal and killing them. After that great victory, Elijah is running for his life from Jezebel when the Lord wants to speak to him. God tells Elijah to get out of the cave and go stand on the mountain before the Lord. Elijah does so and God sends a whirlwind to tear at the rocks around, Elijah, then an earthquake and fire, but the Bible says God wasn't in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, but then there was this still small voice - the voice of God speaking to Elijah...

I kind of feel that way in the sense that myself, Wayne Tapscott and Vince Hammond have been on a whirlwind trip to Moscow. We'd experienced a wonderful Easter and then flew off to Russia to see the Lord's work there in Moscow with our international missionaries, the Cherry family. I can't speak for Wayne and Vince but I kind of feel like I've been in a cave for most of my life since this was my first trip to Europe. I've been to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but most of my understanding is only of America. In the midst of this whirlwind trip, I heard the still small voice of God that convicted me to get out of the cave of my American comfort and accept more than just mentally that Christ came for the nations. That the Great Commission is not exclusive to the United States, but for the peoples of the world. I was broken to realize how blessed I am personally and how blessed we are corporately as a church. The greater Moscow area has about 15 million people living there. There are about a 120 Evangelical Churches there which means they preach salvation through Christ alone by faith alone. That may sound like a lot of churches, but the reality is this is one church for every 125,000 people! Clearly from a simple numerical point of view, many more churches must be started to reach this population of people. Lots of Orthodox Churches hold sway over the people teaching a dead religion that worships icons painted on old walls; but using religious terminology similar to ours, just in Russian.

I was humbled by the still small voice of God as I preached on Saturday afternoon to a small church start plant that began last November, the Dedication Church about the urgency of repentance. I was challenged by God that I need to repent personally of my pride. I heard the voice of God seeing and hearing this small group of believers worship in their native Russian tongue singing "God of Wonders" and "Blessed Assurance". While the words made no sense to me, I recognized the tune and there was drawn into worship of the Great God we serve who has this amazing plan that every tribe, tongue and nation will be worshiping Him someday in eternity. Realizing this little fledging church shares it's worship space with 21 other churches each weekend because the cost of real estate is so expensive broke my heart. Each church rents this room for a 2 hour block of time beginning early Saturday morning and continuing till some time Sunday night. Dedication Church happens to have it from 3-5 Saturday afternoon. 

I was humbled by the Bethany Church believers on Sunday, 80 or so crammed into a small room in a different location above a tire changing business. They also have 1 Bible Study classroom/kitchen and 1 small conference room. The church is not the building they assemble in, it’s the people; a people of all ages hungry for God and His word. A family of the people of God who emphasize the repentance aspect of salvation. They describe people in terms of those who have repented and those who have not. I saw their zeal and love for the Lord, their passion for and commitment to obedience to God and His Word, and I heard God speak to me of my relative lack of zeal, love for and passion to obey God and His Word. I met Pastor Zanin Alexander and his sweet wife Valentina, who would much rather live in the country doing something else, but stay in the city because God has called them to reach Moscow. 
I heard the still small voice of God saying to me He’s blessed me to be a blessing, that there is much more I could be doing to expand His kingdom and reveal His glory to others, not just in Moscow, but in Harford County. I believe a lot of Christians are trying to hear from God above the noise of our iPods, Christian radio, the busyness of our lives, and the show put on in the local church; but I’m not sure God wants to use that to speak to us and Elijah’s experience demonstrates that the voice of God is in the still small voice. I’ll be sharing more in the near future as we’ll hear both from the Maine mission team and the Moscow team on a Sunday morning. I urge you now to get out of your cave and stand on the mountain in front of the Lord and get ready to listen to the still small voice of God….from my little corner of the world to yours….

Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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