Gospel Light last saw Evangelist Tom Bard in October of last year. He was back in town after a 40 hour drive from Boise, Idaho. He had delivered a vehicle to his son Peter, our Youth Pastor here at church. Pastor Vince Giardino set aside our normal schedule for Wednesday evening service in order to allow Brother Tom Bard plenty of time to preach.Brother Bard began his sermon in his usual warm and humorous manner, pausing briefly as a cell phone in the congregation went off. Checking his own phone he joked, “I get two phone calls a week and then come while I’m preaching.” Rev 3:14-22, verses addressed to the Laodicean church, were read. Like that church in Revelation, the church today is lukewarm, has “lost its intensity” and is “indifferent to God” Brother Bard commented. “We are in the end time … the last days, there’s no denying that.”, he said. “Do you think the end times snuck up on God?”, he then asked us, “A lot of us act like it.” Bro. Bard assured us that God has made preparations for the end times, having set things up for what he knew was coming. We have no reason to worry because “we have the victory in Christ during the end times”, he preached.
The job of the Evangelist has changed over time. We were told that rather than going about preaching to the lost, his job now is “to encourage and motivate the brethren, to stir people up.” His business now is in the churches rather than the dangerous street of today. Thus, Brother Bard wished to give us “something that can help your attitude in the end times.”
We were given several passages to flip to in our bibles: I Cor 16:9, Acts 14:27, Col 4:2-4, and finally Rev 3:7-8, all dealing with the God’s open door to Christians of today. “Behold, I have set before thee an open door” Rev 3:8, Christ said to the church at Laodicea … and for this church age. Brother Bard said that the fact that the brethren and the church today “are a mess” is irrelevent. “God is looking for folks that want to fellowship with Him”, he pointed out, “God wants to hang out with you because you are his people.” God is looking for Christians who have “some fire”, someone that is “hot”. The church is a disaster, that isn’t going to change”, he said.
We were asked, “If you hang out with God, who will change, you or God?” The obvious answer after a few chuckles was that we will be changed, not God. We become “more like Him as we sense His interests and desires”, we were told. Brother Bard advised that when God offers us something, we would be foolish to not take it or to hesitate, wondering what the cost will be. “If he says open the door, then open the door!”, he admonished. Let God in for fellowship and let Him do something through you before the rapture comes.
In Luke 11:5-13, using the story of a man asking for three loaves from his friend, Jesus teaches His disciples that, in prayer and supplication, to be persistent. Brother Bard lamented that in today’s church, “no one has the devotional level to pray with the intensity we need.” “God expects us to pray … and he will open the door”, he taught. He spoke of all night prayer meetings and doubted their would be many willing to participate. He suggested we are lacking three things:
- We need a burden for souls. He asked, “When was the last time you stayed awake at night worrying about people going to hell?” We don’t have the urgency or the burden.
- We need faith that God will actually do something. “We’ve been beat up by the media and some preachers into believing that God will not do anything”, Brother Bard maintained. Y2K was his example, where people were ready to shoot a neighbor if they came to the door to ask for bread. We don’t have confidence in God. “What’s the point – why waste our time?” is what he said we think subliminally. “But all thing are possible with God”, he reminded, “He hasn’t quit trying.”
- We need to pray persistently. “Prayer open the Iron Curtain”, Bro. Bard said, “The politics were taken over by God … a lot of people got saved … people were praying for an opportunity.” He advised that if we want to get somewhere, get something done, then pray because that will make the difference. “God responds to you when you pray for souls.”
Brother Bard concluded his message to us: “Before the end comes, I’d like that we’d get a little hope, that God would do things, and that people can get saved. When are you going to start the prayer meeting? That’s the question. You can’t badger people into praying, they have to want to. You need to let God in so he can accomplish what he wants to do. I hope you care. But will you do what God wants you to do, so He can do what He wants to do?”