This blog is inspired by a song that was written by the late Keith Green, a contemporary Christian music artist from the late 70’s and early 80’s. The song Asleep in the Light powerfully expresses Keith’s concern for the cold-heartedness he found in too many Christians. Keith felt that it was part of his responsibility to the body of Christ, as a loving brother in Christ, to stir them in sharing their faith with their world. He spoke to the depth of people’s spirits, to wake them to the responsibility and privilege we all have to lead others to Jesus.
On July 28,1982, Keith Green, along with his three-year-old son Josiah, and two-year-old daughter Bethany, died in a plane crash with nine other people on board in Garden Valley, Texas; near the location of their ministry compound, Last Day Ministries. Keith Green was 28 years old. The FAA determined that the cause of the crash was due to an overloaded aircraft. A close friend and mentor to Keith lived nearby, Pastor and Author Leonard Ravenhill. Keith’s wife Melody, after hearing of the crash, called Pastor Ravenhill for support; he quickly responded to her home along with many others. It was in one of Ravenhill’s books, Why Revival Tarries, that Keith wrote the lyrics to the song Asleep in the Light. This particular song also stirred something new in Keith; a sense of urgency to bring revival to the church. But how?
“We were learning some important lessons that every young Christian needs to know,” says Melody. “You don’t give your life to God in order to get Him to do things for you. That seemed to be the way some Christians thought – they came to God so He would answer their prayers. But the fact is, you give your life to God. Period. Then you pray and ask Him, ‘What is it You want from me Lord?’ ” – Melody Green in her book ‘No Compromise’
The late Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) was an anointed preacher, author, street evangelist, and inspirational speaker. He was a powerful 20th century evangelist whose contemporaries were Charles Finny, A.W. Tozer, and Charles Stanley Sr. Pastor Ravenhill became close with the Green’s and just after Keith’s untimely death, proved himself to be a tremendous support for the family and community of Last Days Ministry in Garden Valley, Texas. Lennard Ravenhill was buried 12 years later about 50 feet from Keith Green’s grave in the Garden Valley Cemetery. The part of Ravenhill’s book, Why Revival Tarries, where Keith Green got the lyrics for the song Asleep in the Light, says:
“The moon of revival has not yet risen on this hell-hound, Christ-rejecting, speeding-to-judgment generation.” We don’t ‘sit at ease” in Zion anymore. We have gone past that; we just sleep. In the church, pillars have given place to pillows…Millions walk in darkness because they have no light; but the democracies are great offenders in that they have had light, but suffered it out with the ‘bushel of business; or the ‘bed of idleness.’ pp.78,80
Ravenhill made the point that people may have had an experience with the Lord, but it didn’t stick. They modified their spiritual life formation into idle business that’s as powerless as it is personal. Their spirit has been lulled to sleep and too many other potential believers never hear because of it. Jesus spoke of this in His Parable of the Sower (Soils) where He described how many people come to faith in a ‘flash in the pan’ experience; it’s powerful, but never lasts.
Jesus said it this way, “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matthew 13:3b-9
Jesus described a sower as a person who shares God’s Word with others. The types of soils represent the spiritual heart conditions of the people hearing the Word being sowed into them.
“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” – Matthew 13:18-23
Our commission is to be a good steward of the seed that we sow. We must also produce good soil that will reap a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold.
Ravenhill goes on to say, “As the Church goes, so goes the world! If the watchmen sleep, the enemy takes the city! The preacher should give at least one day a week to prepare his sermons and yet another day to prepare the preacher to preach the prepared sermons. Inspiration is as mysterious as life, for both are God given. Life begets life by its very nature, by the same token inspired men inspire.” pp. 156-157
We are all called to be watchman, but church leaders and pastors especially. The more we prepare our hearts in prayer and devotions with the Lord, the more prepared we will be to face what life brings us. Our inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit and He moves in us and on us to reach others for Christ.
Ravenhill continues, “Men are ever saying that in these trying days people need comfort. Agreed – many do need comfort; the sick, the sad, and the suffering are in this bracket. However, let none fail to realize that to keep silent while a house is burning is criminal. He is no comforter who lets his neighbor sleep as he watches a criminal move to the door with a gun. (In this hour this is not overdrawing the picture of the peril.)” pp. 157-158
The challenge to comfort, while important, should not be the focus on the overall mission. People grow in and through their pain and God gives the increase! We must see the real plight of our brother or sister, a burning house, and do our part to reach them, even if it offends or discomforts them a bit. It was in these passages that Keith Green was inspired to write the song Asleep in the Light. We are all ministers of the Lord, all of us. There’s not one of us here who is not called to minister Jesus to their world.
The Apostle Paul said it this way, “…we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20,21
An ambassador, by definition, is someone who is called by the king or president of a country to represent that nation or kingdom’s interest to other nations. They reflect the king’s heart to the foreigners around them. Paul uses the phrase, ‘as though God were pleading through us’ which expresses an sense of urgency on the part of God for all the foreigners of the world. He continues by saying, ‘we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.’ If God is pleading and Paul is imploring, than what is the urgency they imply? Simply put, God, in Christ, has provided a way for us to be saved from the plight of our sin; an eternity in Hell, forever separated from God. We are offered entrance into His Kingdom as a righteous person before God because we are in Christ. The phrase, ‘He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin (He was perfect) to be sin for us (on our behalf) that we might become the righteousness of God’ (saved). In essence, Jesus took the punishment for our sin on the cross; He went into the lower parts of the earth on our behalf, and He is forever victorious over death, Hell, and the grave. If we are in Him. then we too will be victorious!
This is the gospel!
I wrote a letter to my unsaved next door neighbor and attached a ‘Rapture Packet’ to it in an effort to reach out to their family. An edited version from that letter reads as such:
September 3, 2019 To: Jason and Shirly
Hello again neighbor, I hope all is well. I have written this little letter to better explain myself as it relates to being a good neighbor to you and your family. I must say that it does feel a bit weird writing this to you both, but I felt that this would be the best way to reach out to you. As you know I am a minister in this community and have served both the people of my church and this city for over 20 years now. You two have been part of that life as our east neighbors and the Bible says to ‘love your neighbor.’ Over the years, and more recently as I see Jason getting older, I have tried to make small talk with him about my witness of Jesus. It seemed a bit offensive to him, but I only want to share the good news of what Jesus has done for Debi and I and our family over the years. This is what I do, this is what we do. Sharing our faith is part of being good stewards of those people God has entrusted to our care, like you both and your family as our good neighbors.
I have invited Jason in the past to attend a church service sometime and encouraged him to consider the Christ as part of his own personal faith. He briefly stated that in his thinking this was not something that was of interest to him based on his own religious belief. I didn’t want to push, but at the same time, I feel compelled to extend my reach out to you a bit more. The painting of the rusty fence that borders our properties, the trimming of our common hedges, and even the asking permission to affix anything to the common block wall are my way of trying to show respect and consideration to you as our neighbors. I remember a time a few years back when Jason asked me to help him mediate a conflict with one of our neighbors, that young kid Dwayne who used to live up the street. I did so because he asked me. As I ponder the fact that there are fewer years ahead then are behind, I see you both as if your house is on fire and I want to help you, but I have to be allowed to do so. This is just how it is with ministers, with Christians; we have to be invited to share. Consider this an invitation to you both for a future conversation or visit to our church on our part and as our way of reaching out to you.
In the event that you want to keep things as they are, that is, a cordial respect and neighborly friendship, I will gladly oblige. I have attached what we have come to call at our church as a ‘Rapture Packet.’ In the Judeo-Christian belief, an event will soon occur that will cause the global disappearance of millions of people across the globe in an instant. While we don’t know exactly when this will happen, we do know, based on the global weather phenomena, the increase of national and international tensions, the international health crisis, growing global economic instability, and the continued unrest that has permeated this planet, that it will most likely occur simultaneously with other disasters, natural or manmade. It will be explained away as something ‘out of this world.’ While a lot of recent science fiction media has projected this kind of phenomena, it will happen soon. The packet enclosed is a ‘what to do’ when it happens and to let you know that even though Debi and I, along with our family, will be included in those global vanishings, it’s still not too late for you. I encourage you to read this packet to inform yourself on what we as Christians believe about this ‘Rapture’ event that is soon to occur and to at least consider what a personal faith in Jesus might look like for you.
If my attempt in doing this offends, please forgive as I am the same man you have always known, just my ‘mission’ has been a bit more revealed. Should you like to discuss this further I would be happy to meet up with you; if not, just know that I will continue to be a good neighbor as I have been in the past and will continue to keep your family in prayer.
Your friendly neighbors,
The ‘Rapture Packet’ mentioned in this letter is listed as ‘In the Event of Global Vanishings’ in this blog repitwa. The point in sharing the letter in this blog was to provide an example of what we did and how you might reach out to your own friends, family, and neighbors with the gospel. I have written similar letters to neighbors in my community in an effort to reach them too.
Keith Green’s parents (both deceased now) were Jewish. In his early years, Keith displayed much talent, but was conflicted in his faith. He went through the ‘hippie’ phase and all that it entails before finally coming to faith in Jesus in the mid 70’s. Keith was a believer for only 7 years before the Lord took him home; but from his death, tens of thousands of people have entered into the ministry in various ways to continue the cause for Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” – Matthew 28:18-20
This commission to proclaim the gospel is for all of us, not just preachers, missionaries, and evangelists. We are all called because, as Christians, we’re all Christ’ ambassadors.
Keith Green wrote a song for his unbelieving parents entitled Song for My Parents. (I Only Want to See You There) The lyrics go like this:
“I need to say these things ’cause I love you so and I’m sorry you get angry when I say that you just don’t know. But there’s a heaven waiting for you and me I know it seems every time we talk I’m only trying to just make you see and it’s only that I care I really only want just to see you there
Please try and overlook my human side, I know I’m such a bad example, and you know I’m so full of pride. But Jesus isn’t like that, now; He’s perfect all the way, I guess that’s why we need him, ’cause by ourselves there’s just no way and it’s only that I care, I really, really only just want to see you there.
Close the doors, they’re just not coming we sent the invitations out a long, long, long time ago. We’re still gonna have a wedding feast big enough to beat them all. The greatest people in the world just wouldn’t come so now we’ll just have to invite the small.”
These lyrics reflect God’s heart as it relates to so many people who just never respond to the invitations that are given to them by obedient believers.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:2-14
While it’s true that everyone is invited to the Master’s table, it’s equally true that too many people don’t respond to Christ’ invitation. The man who was without a garment represents those believers who attempt to enter God’s Kingdom on their own merit. The see themselves as self-righteous individuals who believe that because they are good, God will grant then access based on their merit, not on the standard of God’s Word.
Believers in Jesus get to enter into Heaven because of what Christ did for then on a cross, not for their works. The Challenge here is to NOT be asleep in the light, as it were, but to be spiritually awake and carry the Light of God’s Word as a light to the world wherever we go. We are light bearers to this dark world and God has called each of us to walk in the light as He is in the light.
The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Do all things without complaining (grumbling) and disputing (arguing), 15 that you may become blameless and harmless (innocent), children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16
I get that many of us are tired and fatigued in the fight of our faith; however, we have something much greater Who is working within us that keeps us moving forward and fulfilling that Great Commission that Jesus gave us as a chief part of our call. We must strive to be like the Church in Philadelphia, the loving and faithful Church that Jesus is coming back for. This is a Church of people that has a ‘little strength, but has kept Christ’ Word and have not denied His name.’ Because we have kept the Lord’s command to persevere, He will also keep us from the hour of trial, (aka the tribulation) that shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. We have the light of the gospel within us and we must reflect this light and share it with others as the Lord prompts us to do so. We must not be asleep in the light, but be about the Master’s business, fulfilling His Great Commission to our world.
I challenge you man of God (and ladies) to be who God has called and empowered you to be. This is not the time to be asleep in the light of God’s Word or His discernment. It should be crystal clear to all of us that what is happening in the world today is nothing short of biblical prophecy. It’s as if the Lord is telling us, wake up, I am coming soon, get ready, help others to get ready, and get your house in order! You can do it, be faithful and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you. Listen with your spiritual ears and obey as the Lord leads you to love others, beginning with those closet to you.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.
One thought on “Asleep in the Light”
I loved the letter to your neighbor. It seems that a letter to our neighbor would be a less obtrusive way of sharing the gospel and yet still impactful.
Again, thank you for sharing this is really good stuff!