Rescue the Perishing

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save
(Fanny Crosby; William Doane)

I am writing this edition of the Praiseletter on the 17th anniversary of the 911 terrorist attacks, September 11, 2001.

Watching the news this morning and viewing the solemnity of individuals at “ground zero”, reading the names of those who perished that tragic day, I am once again brought back to the shock and horror of that terrible event.

Like most of you, I remember exactly where I was when the news of the attacks began to unfold. We had just left on a tour to Washington state. Somewhere around the Colorado, Wyoming border, heading north on I-25, we began to hear reports on the radio of a plane crashing into one of the trade towers in New York.

We pulled the tour bus over to the side of the road, turned on a TV inside the bus and began to process the horror of a terrorist attack against our people on our soil.

I think for many, myself included, some of the most shocking and heartbreaking images of that day were of the people who chose to leap to their deaths from that burning building rather than endure the anguish of the consuming flames.

Those of us who witnessed the events of that day will never forget. Those who were too young to observe or understand must be taught and reminded of the historic cost of freedom that this nation has paid and continues to pay.

The death toll of the 911 attacks stands at 2,996. That’s a staggering loss! Here’s a breathtaking statistic as well; In the U.S. approximately 6,775 people die every day! Disease, accidents, crime and a number of varied reasons account for this staggering number of daily deaths.

While I wrote that last sentence, the phone rang and the wife of a long time friend called to let me know that her husband, my friend, had just passed. This is the reality of life and of death. Scripture tells us clearly: “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Everyone we know, everyone we see around us daily has an appointment that will be kept.

This may seem to be a dark and disturbing topic to cover in this letter, but I believe it’s imperative that we as Christians maintain a proper perspective on the reality of death so that we might live with a proper perspective of our lives as Christians and our responsibilities to those around us who are perishing.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more

Continuing on the theme of “Gospel Missionaries” from last Praiseletter, I implore you to ever consider the call He has placed on each of our lives to rescue the perishing and care for the dying.

You are the most qualified person in the universe to reach someone God has placed in your sphere of influence, with the message of the gospel!

They won’t come to my concert, they won’t come to your church or perhaps any church, but because of the relationship they have with you (in God’s divine order), they may find life in Christ.

Then the question becomes, “are you prepared to share the gospel of Jesus Christ when the opportunity arises?”

In Christ, I was blessed just a couple days ago to have a conversation with the man who led me to faith in Christ. I thanked him for his obedience and concern to, all those years ago, talk to a young man who had a lot of “rough edges,” about the love of Jesus and His power to save and forgive. I also reminded him of a piece of advice he gave me early on in my Christian walk, which I now regard as perhaps the single most important piece of advice I’ve ever received.

One Sunday morning as I was making my way to sit down, my pastor (the one who led me to Christ) asked if he might have a word with me. I responded, “Yes, of course.”

During this early season of my Christian life I began to receive many invitations to come to various churches and sing and share my testimony. I was occupied many a weekend with this new and exciting ministry opportunity.

This particular Sunday morning to which I refer, my pastor gave me the following advice: “Dallas, you’re going to have all of your life to minister but only this one chance to prepare. Stay home (in church), let me teach you, disciple you and build a foundation for your life and ministry on the Word of God. Go out occasionally to develop your ministry and necessary skills, but most importantly take this time to prepare, study and grow in the knowledge of His Word.”

Too many Christians have experienced the life changing reality of the truth of the gospel because someone shared that truth with them. Yet they have not taken the time or effort to prepare and build a foundation on the Word of God so that they might present that same gospel to others.

We must be, as the saying goes, “ready, willing and able” to at any moment as the Spirit guides, share the truth of the gospel message with those who are perishing.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide

Beck to the narrow way, patiently win them
Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.

My challenge in this letter to each and every one of us is to be sure we are prepared to share the wonderful saving, healing and comforting message of the gospel with those all around us who are perishing and dying.

Remember, we have each been commissioned to go, preach and disciple!

Direction for the “going” will be guided by His Word and His Spirit. The words of our mouths and examples of our lives must “preach” the reality of the gospel. “Disciples” will only be made as we build a foundation of the Word of God under their feet.

We can’t expect to replicate if we can’t articulate!

Let us each consider this an assignment to dig deeper, study more and prepare so we might effectively present the gospel to the needy who surround us every day. In so doing we will Rescue the Perishing.

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save