“Why do so many youth come to church and praise God then go away and serve the world?” That was the question put to an overflowing crowd of youth gathered together at Compaz Ministerio Internacional this past Friday night. Raising the question was a local youth minister Rev. Benjamin Paredes who mounted the pulpit to preach to an enthusiastic crowd which had just survived two hours and 10 minutes of praise and worship.
Using Romans 6:5-8 as a launch pad, Rev. Paredes questioned whether those under the sound of his voice have undergone the type of transformation of which the Apostle Paul wrote. “If love blossoms in your relationships, why do so many of your marriages and relationships end in failure?” he asked. He went on to challenge, “How is it that you leave the altar and return to the world and do the things of the world?”
Citing Romans and a host of other supportive scriptures, Rev. Paredes delved into what he considered the paradoxical message of Paul. “Paul reminds us that we must die to ourselves and let Jesus live in us. For in Jesus we can be free and escape the death which the world offers us.”
He noted that there is too much death all around us. But there is not just physical death, what is more shocking is the amount of spiritual death. “How many times have you gone somewhere and left in a hurry because the place was dead? The people there were not physically dead – they were spiritually dead.”
Rev. Paredes’ sermon raised the question about the proliferation of zombie movies and events in popular culture. Can it be that talk of zombies is a metaphor for the ever increasing number of people who are the walking dead?
“You must die to the world to live in Christ. To die to the flesh is to live with Christ,” Rev. Paredes implored the now spell-bound audience. He shifted at times from preaching in Spanish to preaching in English and back again. He then asked the young people, as well as the several not so young people who were present, “Who are you going to serve? Everything has consequences. You are free to decide whom you will serve.”
He then counseled, “When God makes you free, you are really free. Being free comes when you have Jesus in your heart, you have died to yourself, you have taken up your cross, and you have a broken spirit as written in Psalms 51.”
“I am what I am by the grace of God. God wants you to be free. But before God can use you, you have to be broken,” concluded Rev. Paredes. By the conclusion of his sermon, just about everyone present was standing and shouting as the praise and worship team, led by Brittany, reclaimed the platform to punctuate Rev. Paredes’ sermon with glorious music.
It was truly remarkable to see so many young people at church on a Friday night and remain engaged in the service for over three hours most of that time was spent jumping up and down, clapping, twirling, and otherwise responding to thunderous praise and worship music. Many were sweating profusely from activity which would put Zumba and Insanity to shame.
Compaz Ministerio Internacional is located at 300 Charice, Grand Prairie, Texas. Rev. Rafael Flores is the pastor.
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