Why does this make me think of the current status of the evangelical church in the U.S. and the Spirit?
For the majority of the years I labored under the Christian banner my “walk” was constantly plagued by the nagging question “Is that it?” Is this all there is to this thing? Doesn’t it get any better? What’s all the hoopla about?
Being the good little Christian, however, I never voiced my rising concern. I was, after all, a “professional” Christian. I’d actually gone to school to do this. I “knew” how it worked.
And that was a big problem… I KNEW how it worked. Better stated, I knew how it DIDN’T work. But I was expected to have all the answers. Even more frightening, when I asked those who I deemed as “spiritual” what I was missing, I was told to not ask those sort of questions because they were “of Satan” and that I needed to work on my faith to make it stronger.
Decades–and a massive train wreck of epic proportions of my life and faith–later, I sit in awe. In awe of Abba. Honestly amazed at how I could so mess things up and he still be wanting me… me.
It seems so contradictory to wonder if there is “more” when you claim to believe in a Being who has created everything. How can my faith be so fragile if God has unlimited resources? How can he be real when my life is so unfulfilling? It just can’t be.
Either he is distracted and a liar or I’m missing something.
Experience has shown me that it is the “something” factor. When you discover the “something” it changes everything; it also makes a lot of folks uncomfortable.
Why wouldn’t it?
Everything changes while pursuing a “something” in a pit on a snowy day.
Yesterday morning I was having a get together with a couple of guys.
It was intense. It was good. It was holy.
Last night at supper my wife asked me, “Who was that guy in there with you this morning?” She’d come to the office with me and was working in the back. We guys were meeting in the “glass room” in the front of the office. While we were meeting, she came out to the front to get something, glanced over to the glass room where we were, then went back to where she was working.
Her query was in regards to the fifth person in the meeting who she didn’t know. My quizzical look caused her to describe him to me: athletic-looking, short blond hair, 30ish, medium to tall in stature. And, he was smiling an amazing smile. “I think he came with Kim (one of the fellows in the gathering),” she added.
I thought she was joking.
“What?” she asked indignantly.
“There were only four of us there,” I said.
“No, there were five of you. I thought it was neat that Kim had brought along a young friend.”
I’ve heard something like this before.
Kiss me—full on the mouth!
Yes! For your love is better than wine,
headier than your aromatic oils.
The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook.
No wonder everyone loves to say your name!
Wow! That’s almost embarrassing.
Imagine stumbling on two lovers fully consumed with the presence of the other. You’d feel like you’d broken into a divine moment meant only for them, but you’d withdraw with a sense of envy of such intense emotion.
That’s what worship is. Song of Solomon or Song of Songs, Shir Hash-shirim in Hebrew, serves double duty, describing the intimacy between a man and a woman, but, also between God and his love — us.
Worship is an attitude of the heart; the heart bows down before the Lord. There is no one else present, even in a room with thousands; there are no other thoughts on your mind; you have no petitions; you haven’t come for healing… you’ve come in and for love.
Worship is a time of love.
It sounds so trite. It was beyond me for so long.
…now I long for it insatiably.
Worship is the vehicle that carries you into the heavenly realms.
Praise doesn’t do that. It isn’t the end, it is the beginning, the “process” of entering in.
One way to describe the difference is to use Palm Sunday when Jesus came to town. Had I been there, before he came, but knowing he was coming, I’d be shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord” dancing and being generally festive. I’d be taking off my jacket and laying it on the road, ripping palm branches off and making a carpet for Messiah to pass over. Laughing, crying, happy, the expectation of Messiah coming would create an atmosphere not unlike that of a child waiting on Christmas morning… exhilarating expectation.
As a cry went up that he was coming, the activity would have intensified, rising towards a powerful crescendo. The awareness of his nearness would have been almost palpitable. Then he entered into sight and oh! the cry that would have gone up.
As he came nearer and nearer, soon the colt would have been in front of me. As he stopped, looked at me and said “I love you,” my response of “I love you” would have changed all my activity. No longer dancing and singing, I would be prostrate before him, tears streaming down my face, proclaiming him my Lord and God. The crowd is still around me, still shouting “Hosanna!” but I’m oblivious to them. The only thing I see is him. No one has to tell me he is Lord.
Praise is the prelude to worship. Worship is moving into the state of being in the presence of the Almighty.
Praise… until the spirit of worship comes.
Worship… until the glory comes.
Then… stand in the glory!
–Ruth Ward Heflin, Glory: Experiencing the Atmosphere of Heaven
Some folks are connoisseurs of fine wine. Some have developed exquisite tastes in fine cuisine. Still others are aficionados of art or music.
I’ve discovered that I’m enchanted and enthralled by worship.
I don’t mean “going to church,” singing contemporary “worship” songs or any other tinny imitations that are passed off as some sort of glorious manifestation of awe of the Almighty. I’m not referencing fancy musical productions, rock bands blaring their love of Jesus nor timeless hymns purveyed by 100 piece orchestras.
It was reported to King David that God had prospered Obed-Edom and his entire household because of the Chest of God. So David thought, “I’ll get that blessing for myself,” and went and brought up the Chest of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David, celebrating extravagantly all the way, with frequent sacrifices of choice bulls. David, ceremonially dressed in priest’s linen, danced with great abandon before God. The whole country was with him as he accompanied the Chest of God with shouts and trumpet blasts. —Samuel
Wild abandon, grabbing the blessing, extravagantly. Have you ever experienced that? Seriously?
Once you do, there’s no turning back.
David put it this way:
Oh yes, I’ll dance to God‘s glory—more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned…I’ll gladly look like a fool. —Samuel
God speaks to us in a language we understand.
He actually doesn’t have to couch his communication with you at church, in prayer or out of the pastor’s mouth. He comes looking for you and will find you in movies, music, billboards and your next door neighbor.
For me, he often uses books.
I’ve just loaded up my book hopper with several and I’m experiencing deer-in-the-headlight syndrome; I don’t know where to start. Some are quite unexpected by authors I’ve never even heard of. Visions Beyond the Veil by H.A. Baker and Praying Through the Bible: The Pathway to Spirituality by Wesley and Stacey Campbell are two of them. Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and John Maxwell’s Developing the Leaders Around You are two by more well-known folks. I’ve been gifted a whole boat load of Portuguese works by Alcione Emerich and Marcos de Souza Borges, better know as “Coty,” that are calling out to me rather loudly.
I’ve even got the new releases by Bonnie and Mahesh Chavda Make Room for Your Miracle, Bill Johnson Release the Power of Jesus and Derek Prince Bought with Blood (though technically it isn’t a “new” release since he’s been dead for six years).
I was even given a copy of Ruth Ward Heflin’s Glory.
Ok, God. I’m listening…