It is not a church sanctuary, and it is not a coffee cafe. It is somewhere in between – a hybrid. It is now “The Spirit Lounge.” Starbucks Spirituality! (I guess we have now The Gospel According To Starbucks.) Caffe Latte Religion! Dunkin Donuts Worship! The world runs on Dunkin. Now the church runs on Dunkin too.
We’ve come a long ways caffeinated worshipers, as we can now leave church spirit-fed and coffeed-out. Worshipers after worship services these days are so coffee juiced that they make Five Hour Energy look like Ovaltine. It is hard to tell these days whether we are in God’s House or a Coffee House.
I had a less than awesome worship and preaching experience just lately. It is no longer an untypical church service scenario, but rather has become transdenominationally very common. I was invited to preach at a morning service which was begun with the pastor announcing, “Good morning! A hearty welcome to everyone! This is a laid-back worship service so sit back and relax. I would like to invite you to partake of the coffee and refreshments in the back of the auditorium. We have just brewed a big fresh pot of coffee for you, so feel free during the service to get a cup of coffee and a cookie. Let’s pray!”
THE CALL TO WORSHIP
The above italicized words were in fact the pastor’s CALL TO WORSHIP, and I tell you that the worshipers heeded the call. Coffee calls are always easier than altar calls. Why wouldn’t they be? Flesh always responds more willingly and desirably than spirit. Plus the coffee and cookies were free! You can hardly beat that.
FIRST of all, the pastor called them to sit back and relax, for as he assured them that this is a LAID BACK SERVICE. Laid back? I thought that back home NOTHING IS FINER THAN MY RECLINER. Now we are being called to recline in Divine Worship. No, not being called to BLESS THE LORD OH MY SOUL, but rather, to BLESS THE FLESH OH MY SOUL.
CASUAL CHRISTIANITY! CASUAL DRESS! CASUAL ATMOSPHERE! CASUAL CHRISTIANS! Nothing intense! Nothing sharp! Nothing convicting! Try it and we are sure that you will like it. And of course, the all important goal is that you will like it. Y’all come back now, ya hear!
I wonder whether Christ is also not intense but casual about us! You know, like casual friends you seldom see and who you never get deeply involved with. Casual relationships! It was C. S. Lewis who grieved over what he called “The Unchristianizing of the West.” I am grieved over what I call “The Casualizing of the Church” which produces casual disciples and casual worshipers and casual witnesses. Of course the whole concept of a casual disciple is about as worthless and antithetical as a casual lover.
I am sure that was the same exact problem in the church at Ephesus when God says to them in Revelation 2:4 that He has this one thing against them,
“You have lost your first love.”
“You have cooled down from your early hot love that you
had for Me, and you have now become casual lovers.”
A dangerous situation indeed, for casualness will always erode passion and commitment, and Jesus knew it then, and He knows it now. He then commanded them to repent of their laid back casualness and tepid love, and if they didn’t, He would remove their lampstand – that is – shut their church down. In casual modern terms:
“I WILL CLOSE YOUR SPIRIT LOUNGE AND COFFEE SHOP.”
SECOND, it used to be that the call to worship was something from the Word of God like Psalm 95:6,
“OH COME, LET US WORSHIP AND BOW DOWN….”
Now the casual call to worship is:
“OH COME, LET US DRINK COFFEE AND GET DOWN….”
They took advantage of the casual and laid back call to worship – a call to LAID BACK FRESH BREW AND BITES. Who would ever even imagined that Divine Worship would becomes Sunday’s coffee break?
Preaching was a real grind that morning – a veritable coffee grinder sermon. Preaching was hard, very hard, because what it required was a stirring spoon, but I came in there with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Nothing casual or relaxing about wielding a sword! It appeared that the casualists were bobbing and weaving with distressed looks on their faces, as the Sword of the Spirit was cutting their cookies and flesh in half.
When the Spirit of God is flowing, He makes preaching easy. But it is most difficult to enable people to be filled with and flow with the Spirit of Worship and the Word when they are getting up and coming back with java refills all service long to appease their flesh. One woman went out and came back three times, and the last trip included going to the restroom as well as getting another cup of brew. Refill and relief and refill! That was the flesh flow and not the spirit flow of her worship. Hardly relaxing if you ask me! Very effortful!
A tough morning for me and for all! I think that the Holy Spirit left the room at the coffee-and-cookie call to recliner worship, for He had come to partake of neither and casually left. We reap what we sow!
It is not uncommon now to see church bulletins, church bulletin boards, and church websites advertising not only coffee in the worship experience, but PREMIUM COFFEE. We are talking here about Church Caffe Latte Colombian Style! Prima! Nothing like a hot premium cup of coffee to start and sustain the worship service!
And not only PREMIUM COFFEE, but cups with easy sip covers that will keep the brew hot, and cut down spillage to a minimum during Divine Worship. The “Spirit Lounge” at its most convenient and comfortable and coffee friendly. It won’t be long that in addition to communion cup holders on the back of pews, there will soon be coffee cup holders just like in our modern cars – coffee in the flow – coffee on the go.
“Caffeine-Craving-Christian Worship” at your fingertips, of course always under the pretense of Psalm 42:1-2,
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants
for Thee, O God.”
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I
come and appear before God?”
My, my, all of that spiritual thirsting for God! But a cup of premium coffee still sounds about right just now as we drink from the streams of brewed coffee. Jesus said that if you drink from His living water you will never thirst again. That of course historically had always been the exclusive and “Premium-Preferred Beverage” of the Christian church in Divine Worship. But we have moved on and away from all of that narrow-minded beverage selection. That was then and now is now. Anybody for a coffee refill in between dry sermon points!? Feel free!
And of course, as it is with ever developing modern traditions, coffee and cookies even begin to be as sacred as the bread and the wine. In fact, “Holy-Coffee-And-Cookies Communion” is celebrated every service, while “Holy Bread And Wine Communion” in the Spirit Lounge is generally far less frequent. It is a matter of premium priorities!
Who really now cares whether or not the Holy Spirit shows up? It used to be that worshipers would cry out:
“COME HOLY SPIRIT WE NEED THEE.”
“COME JUAN VELDEZ WE NEED THEE.”
“NOTHING LESS THAN A PREMIUM COFFEE – JUAN VELDEZ
WORSHIP EXPERIENCE WILL DO.”
I recall over the 71 years of my life hearing on occasion the couplet “HIGH CHURCH” as contrasted with another couplet “LOW CHURCH.” I early on concluded that “HIGH CHURCH” meant something like stayed, formal, ritualistic, and very liturgical. And I think in many instances that was correct and may still be the case. Mostly it was a descriptive indicating personal preference more than anything else, so I thought.
Then one day in my adult life I got into a discussion with a very intelligent and articulate HIGH CHURCH proponent who tried to set me straight and explain to me that for her it meant much more than simply formal and liturgical. HIGH CHURCH for her meant worship that lifted the human spirit above the earthly, above the carnal, above the fleshly, for after all we are worshiping theMOST HIGH GOD.
She went on to express with fervor that if any experience in the Christian life should be elevating and not lowering, Heavenly and not earthly, it is the worship and exaltation of the MOST HIGH GOD. And if you can’t find that in church in this low-God awareness world, where can you find it? Worship without the “UPPER WORLD SENSE” and the “Other World SENSE” for her was not worthy of the worship and the presence of God. In fact, it was worthless and both to her and to God HIGHLY OFFENSIVE.
Then I was pointed to Scriptures such as Psalm 92:1,
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to
Thy name O MOST HIGH.”
God is the MOST HIGH GOD, the TRANSCENDENT GOD, the EXALTED GOD, the HOLY OTHER GOD which is what the word HOLY really means. We have no idea of just how HIGH GOD’S HIGHNESS IS. The Psalmist is not talking about space miles here, but about the most high and elevated and exalted state of the MOST HIGH GOD.
“TEN O’CLOCK WORSHIP SHOULD BE A DEPARTURE TIME FOR
WORSHIPERS WHO WANT TO LEAVE EARTH AND FLY
TO HEAVEN IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
So we read in Psalm 97:9,
“For Thou art the Lord MOST HIGH over all the earth;
Thou art EXALTED far above all gods.”
Did you notice that God is most high OVER OR ABOVE ALL THE EARTH? How high above all of the earth only God in Heaven knows.
“IN OUR WORSHIP AND PRAISE OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, IT IS OUR HOLY
AND HIGHEST DUTY TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY ELEMENT OF
WORSHIP AND PRAISE POINTS HEAVENWARD AND NOT
EARTHWARD, HIGH AND NOT LOW, UP AND NOT
DOWN, TO HIM AND NOT US.”
If you will:
“EVERY PART OF WORSHIP AND PRAISE MUST NOT ALLOW OUR NOTIONS
OF GOD OR OF HEAVEN TO BE DRAGGED DOWN BY THE CARNAL
AND THE COMMON AND THE CASUAL.”
So we read words like we do in Colossians 3:1-2,
“If then you have been raised up together with Christ, keep seeking
the things above, where Christ is, seated at the
right hand of God.”
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are
on the earth.”
Easier said than done what with our fleshly senses trying to dominate our spiritual awareness! And then there is that powerful earthly gravitational pull downward and not upward, earthward and not heavenward, manward and not Godward. It is not easy in this world to be heavenly minded rather than earthly minded. And if holy worship doesn’t help us to refocus our spirits upward, we will be so earthly minded that we will be of no Heavenly good.
It is a slippery slope that we are on! When we cater to the flesh in religion and in Holy Divine Worship, we are on a fast track downward with the pagan and false religions of the world, of whom it is said in Romans 1:25,
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and
served the creature more than the Creator, Who is
blessed forever. Amen!”
When creature comforts compete in Holy Worship with the Creator’s glory, we are fast descending from HIGH CHURCH to LOW CHURCH to NO CHURCH. It becomes a sacrilege!
“TURNING THE SANCTUARY OF THE WORSHIP OF THE MOST HIGH GOD
INTO AN EARTHLY COFFEE AND COOKIE CAFÉ IS ABOUT AS
LOWERING AS PICTURING THE HEAVENLY HOSTS
AS EARTHLY BARTENDERS.”
Have we gone nuts? No, then it would be LOW CHURCH by reason of insanity. Rather, we have become so carnal and so fleshly and so unspiritual and so cultural and so worldly, that in our earthly mindedness we are of no Heavenly function or good in the worship sanctuary any longer. In fact, it won’t be long, but that there will not only be coffee and cookies during worship, but after worship there will be wine and cheese – beer and nuts in the fellowship hall. You know:
“WORSHIP HOUR FOLLOWED BY HAPPY HOUR.”
Coming soon to a church near you, with broad screen TVs in the fellowship hall so as not to miss any sports events like the Super Bowl. After all, people are really drawn to restaurants like big screened Dave and Buster’s.
We must note a major distinction between HIGH CHURCH AND LOW CHURCH. It can be stated this way:
“LOW CHURCH DRAGS GOD DOWN TO MAN’S LEVEL, AND DOES
NOT LIFT MAN UP TO GOD’S LEVEL.”
“LOW CHURCH DRAGS HEAVEN DOWN TO THE EARTHLY ENVIRONMENT,
WHILE HIGH CHURCH LIFTS EARTH UP TO THE
“LOW CHURCH DRAGS US DOWN FROM THE SPIRITUAL TO THE
FLESHLY, AND FROM THE HEAVENLY TO THE EARTHLY.”
This is not just about CAFFE LATTE CHRISTIANITY – COFFEE AND COOKIES WORSHIP. If you think that this is only about coffee and cookies, that is a shallow awareness of what is really happening in CAFFE LATTE CHRISTIANITY. We are not dealing here with simple and innocent lip and finger food – hors d’oeuvres to holiness. Well then, what are we dealing with?
Flesh will always birth flesh, and that flesh will birth more flesh. (John 3:6) It has begun to show up in many ways in the contradiction of Starbucks Spirituality. We are dealing here with the carnalization of the spiritual, the commonizing of the sacred, the earthizing of the Heavenly, and the degrading of the Divine. We are not simply serving treats in worship, but we are playing with the fire of Holiness. It is an unholy and carnal spirit that has taken hold in the modern and apostatizing church to demean and scar the Beauty of Holiness.
Frankly, the Young and the Restless and the Liberated in the church today today have about as much respect and reverence for the House of Holy Worship as an Indian in India on the streets of Calcutta stepping over another dead body.
ILLUSTRATION #1. Do you remember when the Ark of the Covenant was being brought back to Jerusalem, how King David worshipped God by dancing in joy and celebration before Him. The Ark of the Covenant was the symbol and the assurance of the presence of God in the midst of His people. So that when David danced before the Covenant Ark, he was in fact dancing before the Lord Who had attached His presence to that Ark.
Note what it says in II Samuel 6:14 and 16,
“And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and
David was wearing a linen ephod.”
“…King David leaping and dancing before the Lord.”
It is important to note that David was not only dancing before his God, but leaping with all of his might as HIGH as he could to the MOST HIGH GOD. If you will:
“DAVID’S UTMOST FOR GOD’S HIGHEST.”
King David was in HIGH WORSHIP, and I have seen worshipers do that in HIGH CHURCH. In this case it was a man, though in my experience it has been mostly women dancing before God in HIGH WORSHIP and not men. “Mmmm?” It is right and worthy worship and praise of the MOST HIGH. This is not recorded of David again as he this one time found his heart and body soaring in rarified and spiritual air in Heavenly places in front of his Lord Jehovah.
David’s dancing was SPIRITUAL! It was SPONTANEOUS! It was NON-CHOREOGRAPHED! Dance David dance!!! Jump David jump!!! Higher David Higher!!! It ticked off his wife Michal something awful! She saw it all from her window, and she despised her husband in her heart not only for the dance, but also because of the linen ephod that he was wearing that had a bit of an exposure factor in her eyes. God cursed her womb for the despising of her husband. II Samuel 6:16 and 23. She was childless to the day of her death.
However, when it comes to worshiping God in the dance, we are not talking here about Western Line Dancing during holy worship which makes God King of the cowboys along with the other cowboys and cowgirls in Dollywood and the Grand Ole Opre. I have seen that in a church worship service very recently. Yaha!
The church is not a coffee bar, nor is it a western dance floor, but the HOLY SANCTUARY OF HIGH WORSHIP AND PRAISE TO THE MOST HIGH GOD WHICH BRINGS US INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES IN THE HEAVENLIES.
In David’s HIGH WORSHIP DANCE TO THE MOST HIGH GOD, are we not talking about what I shockingly and painfully saw the other day in LOW CHURCH AND LOW WORSHIP. The pastor during praise and worship grabbed the hand of an older woman in the morning worship service, pulled her out of her seat and made her dance with him a 1940’s dance in the holy sanctuary of worship before the entire congregation. Give the flesh a hand, and it will take the entire body into the mockery of holiness. It was not done before God as I sensed God leaving.
Opposite sex dancing! In worship! It was not only low, but it was pagan, vulgar, and worldly, and had absolutely nothing to do with dancing and leaping before the Lord in exultant and highest praise. It was the lowest moment I have ever had in my life and ministry in a church.
It was the most screwed up and trashy thing I have ever seen in a worship service. In LOW CHURCH anything carnal and fleshly can happen, and generally does happen. The depths of lowness have not yet been reached.
“WHEN WE LOSE THE DEEP SENSE OF THE HOLY, THE HOLY
WILL BE PROFANED.”
Illustration #2. Another example of LOW CHURCH! At the beginning of and as the call to worship, the pastor emerged onto the very large podium in a brand new blue Porsche Sports Car. He drove and parked it directly behind the Plexiglas lectern, got out of the car and announced:
“IF ELIJAH COULD HAVE HIS CHARIOT OF FIRE, I CAN
HAVE MY PORSCHE.”
We will leave his insane exegesis for another day. That was the call to worship, which was more than a subtle endorsement of the modern false prosperity gospel. This set the stage for worship and the Word, as the sports car was left directly behind and close to the lectern as the backdrop for the entire worship hour. The church was transformed into a sports car show room.
The people were totally messed up and didn’t know what was going on or how to react. Some mildly chuckled, others looked uncomfortable, while most just sat there in utter confusion. It was another shocking LOW CHURCH moment in SPIRIT LOUNGE – SHOW ROOM RELIGION. I was surprised that we didn’t celebrate the designer Ferdinand Porsche, and do so by having a toast to the great engineer with a cup of Bohemian Coffee, seeing that Bohemia was where he was born.
SPIRIT AND FLESH
We read the words of Jesus in John 4:23-24,
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers
shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people
the Father seeks to worship Him.”
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in
spirit and truth.”
SPIRIT AND TRUTH WORSHIP OF THE FATHER! If you will:
“WORSHIP THAT IS ACCEPTABLE ACCORDING TO JESUS
MUST BE SPIRITUAL AND TRUTHFUL, AS OPPOSED
TO FLESHLY AND FALSE.”
Run Dick run, go get the ball! It reads like a first grade reader, and anyone with a modest amount of intelligence knows exactly what Jesus commanded – TWO WORSHIP MUSTS – SPIRIT AND TRUTH. Keep worship spiritual and keep it truthful – full of Spirit and full of Truth. What part of two plus two equals four do we not understand?
Apparently, today’s worshipers can no longer distinguish spiritual from carnal, Heavenly from earthly, or up from down. Fleshiness and falsehood are the two Divine forbiddens, and flesh and false doctrine are exactly the two things that are rampant in the last day’s apostate church.
I have known this since I was a kid. If someone brought coffee and cookies into a holy worship service, he would have been bodily removed and his flesh symbols would have been confiscated and dumped. And if any preacher would have preached that the Genesis account of creation is not really how it happened, and that we have to go to science for the real facts, he would have been deposed before he could shake hands after the service. KEEP IT SPIRITUAL AND TRUTHFUL.
Why Purely Spiritual? Because of what we read in John 4:24,
“GOD IS SPIRIT….”
No grayness or confusion here! If we are going to properly honor and pay tribute to the PURELY SPIRIT GOD, it stands to reason that we do so with the purely spiritual and not the fleshy. After all, you do not honor harmony with disharmony, or light with darkness. And worship is never so disharmonious and dark as when the flesh replaces the spirit. That is like carrying on a fast with food. That would make fasting a farce, and flesh-saturated worship of the purely spiritual turns worship into a farce too.
Speaking of fasting, why are we commanded that practice in the Bible? This is not a study on the Christian discipline of fasting, which many churches do not practice. So I realize that the illustration may fall on deaf ears, coffee grounds, and cookie crumbs. But simply put:
“FASTING IS THE DENYING OF OUR FLESHLY APPETITES AND
THIRSTS SO THAT WE CAN DEVELOP AND HEIGHTEN OUR
SPIRITUAL APPETITES AND THIRSTS.”
So too in worship:
“EVEN AS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LOVE GOD AND MAMMON AT
THE SAME TIME, SO IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WORSHIP THE
PURELY SPIRITUAL BY INDULGING THE FLESH
AT THE SAME TIME.”
Listen closely now:
“EVEN AS PRAYER AND FASTING ARE THE TWO WINGS OF
HOLINESS, SO SPIRIT AND TRUTH ARE THE TWO
WINGS OF WORSHIP.”
You see, to indulge the flesh in worship is not just an innocent and harmless divergence from tradition. It is much, much, much more serious than that, because to have flesh-saturated worship is for the church to have her wings clipped. It is better felt than telt! The church is beginning to remind me of the huge airplane graveyard in Tucson AZ. She can no longer soar on Spirit wings, but rather, the best she can now do is flap up like chickens.
Flesh is such a drag in things spiritual. It gets sleepy, yawny, heavy, growly, and very demanding. The last thing flesh should have in things spiritual is appeasement by throwing it a cookie. Listen now:
“SENSUAL DELIGHTS AND DELICIOUSNESS ARE INCONSISTENT WITH
AND DETRIMENTAL TO SPIRITUAL SERVICE TO GOD.”
“IT IS IN THE PAMPERING OF THE BODY THAT THE SOUL
BECOMES PUFFY AND LETHARGIC BECAUSE OF THE
STRONG CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO.”
As a matter of fact, when it comes to the Sabbath Day, Sunday, the Bible makes it clear that this is a holy and spiritual day unto the Lord. And the Bible also makes it abundantly clear that bodily and sensual enjoyments must be laid aside for the right celebration of the Sabbath. We read in Isaiah 58:13-14,
“If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own
pleasure on My Holy Day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy
day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from
your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, and
speaking your own word,”
“Then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on
on the heights of the earth….”
There you go!!! The flesh and spirit dynamic in the Bible is absolutely consistent throughout. If we want to soar with God in spiritual heights, we must put our physical cravings and pleasures down.
It does not surprise me at all that many modern charismatic churches that have become flesh-focused and flesh-saturated no longer have the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation during Divine worship. Many charismatic churches today are no longer Biblically Pentecostal.
It is a modern church tragedy! The recreationalizing and secularizing of Sunday and the fleshizing of Sunday worship are deeply and strongly connected in Caffe Latte Religion. There is little spiritual or holy sense left for either, and so it is that while I am preaching, I have seen teens and adults in texting dialogue in the pews all sermon long. They try to hide it from me, but they can’t hide from God Whose presence they are not aware of any longer. In short:
“THE MODERN CHURCH GOER HAS FOR THE MOST PART LOST
THE SENSE OF THE HOLY AND THE SPIRITUAL.”
“THE HEART OF WORSHIP AND OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS
SPIRIT AND TRUTH , NOT FOOD AND FELLOWSHIP.”
Though in many instances the opposite has become the reality. Many low churches are now more interested in being food-and-fellowship filled than being Spirit-and-truth filled.
Well then, we read in the Bible Psalm 34:8,
“O taste and see that the Lord is good….”
That should be the invitation on every church bulletin, on every church bulletin board, and on every church website:
“TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.”
“TASTE AND SEE THAT THE COFFEE AND COOKIES ARE GOOD.”
Jonathan Cahn in his best seller The Harbinger, relates how the “Prophet” said to Nouriel Kaplan that the reason the harbinger of judgment is upon America is that she has traded in spirituality for sensuality, holiness for profanity, and righteousness for self-interest. In so doing she has cut herself off from God.
The same must now be said of the modern church, that she is fleshizing the spiritual, and profaning the sacred, and has driven the Holy Spirit out of her midst because of the carnal stench. Hear this:
“THE PROFANING OF AMERICA AND THE PROFANING OF THE
CHURCH ARE TAKING PLACE SIMULTANEOUSLY, WITH THE
LATTER USHERING IN THE FORMER, EVEN AS THE
APOSTATE CHURCH SHALL USHER IN
THE HOUSE OF GOD
Last but by no means least I assure you. I hear the words of the Apostle Paul ringing in my ears from childhood, as he asks the Corinthian church that was defiling the House of Worship and the Supper of the Lord by turning into a potluck which if you didn’t bring something you were our of luck – I Corinthians 9:22 KJV,
“Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in: Or despise
ye the church of God?”
Go eat and drink in your own houses you who despise the sacredness of the House of the Lord. The only people I know who despise holy and spiritual places and things dedicated to the worship of God are pagans. Strong words here – a despicable state of turning the holy and spiritual into an unholy and unspiritual mess – a mess hall.
Here come the debaters with their self-liberating, smart sounding, and contrary responses like:
“IS NOT THE CHURCH BUILDING JUST STONE AND WOOD LIKE
“ARE YOU TELLING US THAT GOD IS WHO IS NO RESPECTER OF
PERSONS IS A RESPECTER OF PHYSICAL PLACES?”
“THERE IS NO PECULIAR SANCTITY IN THIS BUILDING OF BRICK AND
MORTAR OVER ANOTHER BRICK AND MORTAR BUILDING.”
Oh I could puke! If we don’t know from the totality of Scripture that God has a much higher and holier regard for places and buildings and things dedicated and consecrated to the Holy Worship of Himself, then we know nothing about anything.
I don’t have to rehearse that unfailing principle, by reminding us of the Philistines who captured the Ark of the Holy God, trivialized it and mocked it, and it tore up the whole country. It became a dysentery in their colons and a curse in their midst. So they had to give up the Ark or there would not be one Philistine left.
I don’t have to remindusabout the infamous fella name Uzzah who caused a lot of Buzzah in the camp. He touched the Holy Ark of God to stabilize it, and the poor guy was knocked dead on the spot with a direct blow from the God of the Ark. Just in touching it, he defiled the sacred and died.
I don’t have to recall for you how at the giving of God’s Law to Moses on the Holy Mt. of God’s Presence, if so much as a dumb cow swished his tail against the Mt., it would be struck dead for a fault that the poor ignorant critter could not even understand in the slightest degree.
“LET US NOT SECULARIZE THE SACRED LESS GOD FIERCELY
JUDGES THE DEFILING AND THE DEFILERS.”
I will not preach in church-coffeehouses that serve coffee and cookies during Divine worship, anymore than I would submit to surgery in a hospital that serves fast food in the surgical room. Not only is it obscene, it is just do dangerous.
A TIME FOR EVERTHING
I personally enjoy a couple of swigs of coffee from time to time, as well as eating cookies which I still prefer with cold milk. I am the original milk and cookie monster. I mean, the last drop and the last crumb must not be wasted. But that is just me, for I am the type of guy who will also use every pencil until it is shorter than an inch, and every piece of chalk until it is smaller than a pea.
But the point is, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with coffee and cookies and fellowship etc, there is a time and place for everything. Have you every tried to read the Bible while watching television? Have you ever tried to pray while having intercourse with your spouse? Have you ever tried to lift up your hands in praise while carrying luggage? Have you ever tried to exegete a Bible passage while playing a game of Wiffle Ball with your kids? Have you ever tried to feed your spirit while stuffing your face? The fact is, both at the same time cannot be effective, so you have to stop doing one or the other.
It is so difficult to get the spiritual into our sense enslaved world. But the fact is that we will never turn on the spiritual in our children’s lives until we turn off TV which they are addicted to. I honestly believe that the sight of a blank, dark, lifeless TV screen scares our children so that they have to revive it and turn it on. For God’s sake, turn the boob tube off while you pray and fellowship around the supper table. Are we so spiritually lazy that we cannot click a button out of reverence for His holiness?
Now don’t get me all fuddy duddy stereotyped. There are a few things on TV that are okay to watch, like Michigan-Go Blue football on a Saturday afternoon. But Solomon said it best when he wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1,
“There is an appointed time for everything under the sun. And
there is a time for every event under heaven.”
Which also means that:
“THERE IS A RIGHT TIME AND A WRONG TIME FOR EVERYTHING
It all reminds me of the preacher who when he came unto the pulpit was dressed in a multi-bright-colored striped and sequined blazer with white pants. Then before he preached he would always pray:
“LORD, HIDE ME BEHIND THE CROSS.”
I am sure that the people could not see the cross to save their souls. The guy stood out and flashed like a neon sign and a parading zebra. We were taught by a very wise and loving professor in seminary that we should always wear subdued clothing on the pulpit so that the physical would never obscure the spiritual, and the wardrobe would never out-shout the Word. It is the very same spirit and truth principle all over again. It made sense then and it makes even more sense now.
I must hasten to add before I close that I am not in the least talking about straightjacket or stuffed-shirt spirituality and religiosity. Been there and done that! Not ever again! We must be free to shout amen to the Word; be free to lift our hands to the Lord in praise; be free to flow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit: and be free to dance before the Lord in celebration and honor of His goodness and glory. But even those things have their proper time, and must be Holy Spirit led and not flesh motivated.
The altar call was blessed by the Holy Spirit in a recent service. Several teenagers and young adults came forward to commit their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There they stood before the congregation, before me, and above all before the Lord as I explained to them what the Holy Spirit was doing and wanted to do in their lives.
Suddenly during my ministry to these precious babes in Christ, from my right-blindside came a woman who was spinning like a top, a whirling dervish who was totally out of control. Before I could protect myself, she nailed me and blasted me into thin air as I then fell on the carpeted cement with a thud. The brand new children of God looked down at me with horrified faces, as dazed I struggled to get to my feet and rescue them from fear and confusion. It was all very low church in an otherwise very high church moment.
Dear God, give us Holy Spirit discernment between flesh and spirit, and help us to know the vast difference. O Lord, show us that even that which appears to be spiritual can be immersed in flesh. Show us the infinite difference Lord between the “Holy of Holies” and the fleshy “Spirit Lounge.” God, please give us back our spiritual senses and let them triumph over our flesh senses. In Jesus name and for your holiest and highest glory! Amen.