The following are responses to the Ezekiel series (10 installments), which appears in the newsletters of 20 & 27 Feb; 6, 13, 20, and 27 Mar; and 3, 10, 17, & 24 Apr 2019.
Most of the following comments come from mature Christians—though the age range is from 20 to 90. These include elders, teachers, missionaries, evangelists, administrators, women's ministry leaders, and biblical scholars. Comments have come from every continent, and have (so far) all been overwhelmingly positive. I have edited some for brevity and clarity.
- "These posts have been excellent, focusing and helpful. They are not angry, mean or harsh. No finger pointing. A flashlight shone on the kitchen pests and a rock solid call to love and obey the Lord."
- "Wow! the similarities between the two eras (then and now) is scary. We trust in guns more than God, and love the pursuit of happiness at any cost. We are well fed, arrogant, not caring for the poor, marinated in a hypersexualized culture. Lord help us!... Thank you so much for sounding the needed alarm, handling God's teachings with integrity, and not shying away from the inconvenient truth. We need to wake up. Our generation and the future need teaching like this regularly—before it's too late."
- "We are discussing these lessons in our church, especially among the men and the leaders. We need to return to biblical roots and motivation for making this about Jesus and his mission. If we don't rock the boat, we won't find out who is willing to walk on water. I am really focusing on being a person whose love for Father is seen in how I obey what he tells me to do (i.e. get out of the boat)... not on how much I talk about it. 'It is not what I preach, but what I tolerate' (quote from Extreme Ownership) in myself and others that displays love in God's terms."
"Thank you for voicing many of my own feelings and concerns."
- "I appreciate your candor and boldness. This is a tremendous upward call and encouragement to live the holy life to which we have been called."
- "Keep preaching the truth and be a prophet. Our church is failing, and I am fearful of the consequences."
- "Thanks for your reflection on Ezekiel. It is to the point and well written."
- "I feel convicted in my own life but also inspired to bring this message back to those I lead in order to cultivate a deeper love of God and the Word in their lives."
- "What a timely, insightful, truth-filled, challenging, eye-opening, and serious warning to us all."
- "Thanks for the strong messages. I, and others, need them."
- "I recently prayed that God will show us our fellowship its blind spots. Don't get me wrong; I do want to blame our leaders or my church. I love the church, and am involved in our women's leadership group. I just have the feeling the Spirit wants to show me something—I do not want to stop."
- "I found your article indicting, challenging—a breath of fresh air in a sea of excuses and dullness. Thank you for saying, 'The emperor has no clothes.' Hopefully this will stir some, especially in leadership, to face reality and take their heads out of the sand."
- "Thank you for the sobering assessment."
- "Tonight at our midweek meeting I read part of your piece out loud, and a great discussion followed. We heard your indictment of the modern church, going through each of the four lame excuses that block so many in our circles from hearing the message and taking it to heart. Everyone also appreciated the part about modern Christians, like the Jews, mistakenly thinking that they had received an irrevocable promise from the Lord regarding possession of the kingdom of God."
- "Here in Europe many brothers and sisters are talking about the series in a positive way. They are saying, in effect, 'Let's listen to this voice, and take stock of our hearts and churches.'"
- "The Exile fascinates me more and more as I get older in Christ. I once read with disbelief how a nation so blessed as Israel could turn away from the living God; however, as I get older I am not so quick to cast such judgments on Israel when I find our fellowship in not too different a place."
- "I'm deeply concerned at how the general lukewarmness of the evangelical world has crept into our fellowship. This influences us more than does the Bible. I remember when we were counter-cultural, priding ourselves on being Bible-only Christians. I know that we all need to learn from other groups, but some have accepted mainstream Christianity as the standard—making us feel pretty good about our version. Strong, thoughtful prophetic preaching is needed to stir people out of comfortable lifestyles."
- "Leaders usually think I'm exaggerating the sorry state our congregations. I am observing similar reactions to your Ezekiel articles—no urgency for change. Their reasoning: Since this topic has been talked about for a while now, but no one has found a solution, it shouldn't be brought up again. In the past, we got shut down by leaders using authority over us. Today it happens in a nicer way—with a smile and by simply ignoring us... It is my opinion that we are looking for one big solution to a complex problem... There are many, many, many small things that we are doing / not doing that hurt our spiritual growth."
- "While there are many leaders who tacitly agree with the need to do more, a return to seeking true intimacy with God does not seem to be on the cards... Members are not taught or encouraged to practice the spiritual disciplines. It's always 'Bible study and prayer.' What happened to scripture memory? What happened to meditation, silence, solitude, simplicity, generosity, and submission? We are asking people to replicate what Jesus did during his three years of ministry, failing to realize that it took the Son of God decades of practicing the spiritual disciplines to be prepared to start his ministry... We are truly at a crossroads..."
- "Ezekiel is one of my favorite books. It is unique in its vision of God's throne (cherubim, wheels, and glory), the many special calls to repentance, and the hope expressed later in the book. What an awesome and neglected book—and perfect for our time. The call to action and repentance is encouraging and helpful. We accept it wholeheartedly."
- "I have thoroughly enjoyed your series on Ezekiel, and have benefited greatly from it. Thank you for being so sensitive, perceptive, and honest about the current state of the church and the desperate need for faithful obedience to Yahweh. In my eighty-seven years, I have served as a preaching minister, missionary, and elder during sixty-four of those years. My experience in ministry has verified the stark truth of what you have written in your articles based on Ezekiel's prophecy calling for renewal and recommitment to God and his self-revelation through his Son, Jesus the Christ. Thank you for casting a tall shadow of influence that is falling with healing power across the people of God all over the world."
- "Awesome and spot on. Your wife's insight [message 3] sliced through my heart. We must always remain on guard and call others to obedience of scripture, imitating Jesus' life. We are too comfortable with the world..."
- "You have challenged me to my core. I sometimes wonder whether or not there’s simply an unspoken agreement between leaders and followers to not touch the proverbial “third rail” of America comfort and materialism—because we all just enjoy it way too much. I also appreciate your direct condemnation of too much “screen time." Passive entertainment is Satan’s greatest tool to keep me from living truly meaningful, fulfilling and effective Christ-centered life. Another direct hit! Thank you for issuing the clarion call for me to wake up and take action."
- "There's no doubt in my mind that we have allowed our culture to influence God's church in an ungodly manner. Many times it's hard to even see a distinction from the religious world that we live in (particularly here in America). Worldliness is Satan's greatest tool and deception that we face daily... There are too many souls at stake (including my own) to ignore what God has commanded us to be."
- "I deeply appreciate your love for God and his church, which you have demonstrated through the years by unflinchingly preaching and teaching the truths from God's Word... I'm grateful for the clarion call to repentance... Once your series is complete, we plan to preach a series of sermons on Ezekiel for our own congregation. You are loved, respected and deeply appreciated by many, many of us around the globe..."
- "I think it would be alarming to many leaders to hear how many members supplement their spiritual growth by going out and listening to 'pastors' outside our fellowship. My experience is that this is almost the norm."
- "I once read with disbelief how a nation so blessed as Israel could turn away from the living God; however, as I get older I am not so quick to cast such judgements on Israel when I find our fellowship in not too different a place."
I thank all of you for your candid feedback.