Something happened to me on December 4ththat reminded me of D.L. Moody. I am sure that some of the readers to this blog, haven’t the foggiest idea who D.L. Moody is, while others are more than familiar with him. A little background is in order to understand what happened to me on December 4th, which is day with a regret I will not forget.
Dwight Lyman Moody lived from 1837 to 1899. Moody was converted to Christ in a shoe store in 1855, and would go on to be one of the most successful American evangelist in the world. He would found a bible school that bears his name unto this day and as an author has influenced millions in their walk with Christ. Yet there was a seminal event in his life that changed his burden for the lost and his outlook on life. In October of 1871 the Church where Moody ministered to thousands and his home were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, which killed 300 and left 100,00 homeless. This fire destroyed the Chicago business district almost entirely and was one of the worst American disasters of the 19th century. Since the fire was completely uncontained and massive, people had to get into boats to escape the flames in Lake Michigan. As tradition tells us, it was in one of those boats that Moody had a moment that would change his life.
While Moody and his family peered through the smoke at the city from their boat on Lake Michigan, the man realized that while preaching that night, he had not given the listeners an opportunity to repent of their sins and express faith in Jesus. He had instructed them to think about what he had preached and return the following week. Moody vowed he would never let an time preaching the word of God pass, without giving the listeners anopportunity to “receive Christ”. Whether we believe that the profession of a sinner’s prayer guarantees salvation or not is not the point. Moody, the man of God, felt that he had missed an opportunity to affect someone’s eternity. That is what happened to me on December 4th. Let’s rewind to December 3 at 11:15 pm to see the full picture.
As I was winding down for the night, I was looking at some internet news reports, when I began to read about a secular rock band I used to listen to before I came to Christ. It seemed they have a new album coming out, and with my curiosity peaked (remember what curiosity did to the cat) I visited a music website to read on the release. While there I saw another article about a guy named Scott Weiland. Mr. Weiland was the lead singer of another group I listened to. The article was an interview where he made some derogatory remarks about ISIS. I clicked and began to read. The article mentioned a new band he formed and although I would never buy their music, I wanted to hear it, you know, because I was curious.
I went on Spotify, a free music listening service and listened to snippets of four or five songs, concluded what it sounded like, and then as if awakening from a dream, I said “what are you doing”, “You’re aren’t supposed to be wasting time with this nonsense”. I shut it off and went to bed. The funny thing is, I hadn’t thought about this guy or his band in forever. Although they used to be a huge part of my unsaved life, they no longer were. The time was approximately 11:25 p.m.
As I awoke on December 4th, I checked the headlines on my phone. To my utter shock, one of the top headlines read “Former Stone Temple Pilots singer, Scott Weiland dead at 48”. Yes, a mere 6 hours after I had visited an article about him and listened to him sing a few songs, I found out he died the previous night in his sleep. I was frozen, for I do not believe in coincidence but in God’s sovereignty and leading. Questions filled my mind… “Did he expire while I was listening to his music?”, “Was he fighting for his life as I was pondering his music?”. I was aware that God was about to reveal something to me. Very quietly the LORD spoke to my heart.
“Michael, you knew the train wreck this man’s life was. You knew of his addiction, illnesses and destructive behavior”, “Michael you knew he was lost, but instead of praying for him, you were only interested in the space he filled in your life”, “Michael, his lostness did not burden your heart, and he was about to enter eternity without Me”.
This man’s death been like me sucker punching myself. Those who know me, know I pray for the lost, share the gospel with the lost and encourage others to do so, but this event has made the call to “Redeem the time” like a hammer to my forehead. It should also lead all Christians to consider how compartmentalized our faith is at times. Most of the Christians I know pray for lost people to some degree and understand the destination for those who are outside of Christ. Most of us feel bad for those who don’t know Jesus, and would truly desire to see them in Christ, yet there are times when we completely forget that burden.
We forget when the lost become a utility for our benefit. How many a business acquaintance, or neighbors or friends or family do we never really pray for or speak to on behalf of Jesus, because it is in our best interest to not rock the boat? If many would truly examine their heart and practice they may find a whole list of waitresses, clerks, professors, and politician’s, who we know are lost, yet we never really pray for or make an effort to reach them, because we use them for our benefit. Maybe this seems harsh, but Christ’s love dictates that even when we are being served our first priority is to serve the servant.
This goes further still as we consider the culture of entertainment we live in. We Christians still seek to entertain ourselves even if the secular entertainment we choose is only a cleaner version of the more extreme stuff. Think of the movies, T.V. personalities and sports stars, news personalities or reporters that we spend hours encountering each week with. How much time do these people spend in our minds. How often do we pray for them, or consider that the very life style they are afforded by our support of their product or service, enables them to continue insulating themselves from their need of Jesus Christ?
Let’s consider this with Scott Weiland, for a moment. His first band broke into my world my senior year in high school, and their music was right up my alley. Hours were spent listening, head banging and dissecting Scott Weiland’s lyrics. Every bit of news that came out (as well as from other bands) called me into their world. Weiland’s sinful life and the pain from it was continually on display. At the time it was part of the rock-n-roll lifestyle that was part of success, we all accepted. The long and short of it was that Weiland’s life was part of mine, but merely as a utility, as his music and mayhem was fodder for my entertainment.
When I came to Christ, I left that scene behind, only to occasionally have “curiosity” lead me to read an article where I was briefly distracted. Those distractions became an irritant to me, as I no longer wanted to be drawn away by the world, the flesh and the devil. On December 3rd even knowing the lostness of this man, because of my frustration over wasting time, I became insensitive to Jesus burden for Scott Weiland.
Last week I found out that he was pronounced dead by emergency medical personal at 10:27 Central Standard Time. Since CST is 1 hour behind where I lived, he was dying as I was reading about him. It is possible that I could have prayed on the spot and he may still have died? It is possible he was entirely too far gone (as he claimed he was now an atheist)? It is possible his body, racked with aliment from years of heroine, crack, alcohol and other abuses just shut down? It is also possible that the LORD would have worked through my praying to preserve his life one more day, that he might receive mercy?
Truth is I will never know because I did not act, but I will never forget Scott Weiland and what his death teaches us: 1) We are not to ever forget our call to seek and save the lost 2) the lost are not to be used as utilities for our entertainment or purposes 3) Faith is not to be lived in compartments.
The next time you engage the lost world, in music, or media shut it off and spend some time praying for those who are being heard or seen. Ask God to give you His burden to pray for them to know Jesus. It will hinder your engagement, but what would you rather spend your time doing, entertaining yourself, or bringing God’s power into their life through prayer? The next time you engage the lost world in business, or socially, ask them what they think about Jesus, and pray for them immediately following your encounter.
Statistically speaking, about 85 people die in the world every hour. Not everyone of them is as well known in the world as Scott Weiland, but every one of them is known of by God, who desires all to come to repentance. How many of them have encountered a Christian who never shared Jesus with them or uttered a word for them in prayer? May God shield us from the crushing weight of that revelation. May God revive His Church to have throbbing hearts for each other and those who have not yet received the finished work of Jesus Christ.