In the spring of 1966, the entire 4th grade class was marched to the gym where we were made to take a musical aptitude test. Other than listening to single notes played on a variety of instruments and answering whether or not they were the same, I remember little else about the test. Weeks later, I came home from school and my parents greeted me saying “the school called.” Oh, how those words could make me sweat bullets and launch my suspicious mind into a frenzied inventory of excuses even before hearing the school’s complaint.
“Do you remember the music test you took?” my parents asked. “Uh, no” said I. Dad continued with a grin “it’s difficult to believe, I know, but the school says you have a talent for music.” My little mind did a Bat-Turn** trying to Continue reading
I was thinking about the “affinity” people have for their “church”, that place where they worship and have vested their faith. Like most believers, I too viewed “my church” with “rose colored” glasses, that is until the day God ambushed me with a single question, asked at 3 different times throughout the so-called “worship service”.
The workmanship of thy tabrets, and of thy pipes (Ezekiel 28:16)
God: My son, what do you see?
Me: I see a pipe organ, Lord.
When I’d answered Him, He replied in a shockingly truthful way.
God: That’s right, this church worships a pipe organ.
His answer left me cross-eyed, as if I’d just been hit across the forehead with a spiritual 4×4. It took years to receive that truth. In fact, my initial reaction was one of disbelief and questioning; “what do you mean they worship a pipe organ”, I protested. Continue reading
Religionists have a habit of interpreting spiritual things physically and literally. Take for example the prophecy of Amos wherein God said “I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David … declares the Lord” (Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16). In Kansas City, Metro Christian Fellowship (formerly Kansas City Vineyard) church has created the International House of Prayer (IHOP) which they claim to be a model for the rebuilt tabernacle of David, where musicians, singers, dancers and other artistic people have “worshiped” God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since September 19th, 1999. Clearly they have made a literal interpretation of Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16.
But is that a Spiritual and Biblical understanding of the prophecy in Amos/Acts?
I am of the belief that IHOP is misguided, even a vain work of the flesh as are many of men’s efforts to replicate old testament temple worship practices and to build that which the Lord has said HE himself will build. Once again, following the command of Paul who wrote “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), which I believe to mean “let scripture interpret scripture”, nowhere in the NT are we commanded to go out and build buildings for worship or holding church services.
Concerning all the buildings we have put up “for God”, scripture still says “God does NOT live in temples made by men” (Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24, Matthew 23:38) and Jesus said, upon leaving the temple in Jerusalem for the last time before His trial “BEHOLD! Your house has been left to you, DESOLATE.” In other words, God has left the building. We could cover the world over with buildings we’ve built for God and not one would be good enough or big enough to serve as His house. That is why the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house, then, could you build for me, what kind of place for me to live in?” (Isaiah 66:1 GNB) Where God uses the earth as His footstool, the best we might do is make Him a foot cushion, but certainly nothing big or grand enough to serve as His house. Continue reading
Among the things that continue to grieve me since the Lord first called me out of man’s traditional church, is the observation of how seldom believers ever question whether or not common church practices are even of the Spirit and the Word. For example, most churches refer to the Sunday service as a “worship service” and hold to the notion that “worship means singing” hymns and choruses. Rarely have I seen the idea challenged; believers simply accept the modern worship model as handed down from our forefathers as Biblical and correct.
For the sake of examining the modern “worship service” and in particular singing as worship, let’s lay a Biblical foundation for discussion.
- In the OT, the temple was a stone building in Jerusalem. In the NT, the temple is us (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 1 Pet. 2:5).
- In the OT, the priests were the sons of Levi and Aaron. In the NT, the priesthood is us (1 Pet. 2:5, :9, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).
- In the OT, the Spirit did not indwell the people, He resided in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the NT, the Holy Spirit has made His home in us since the Resurrection and Pentecost (Jo. 20:22, Ac. 2:4)
Many years ago during a small gathering where Karen and I had been asked to lead singing for a group of about 20 people, the Holy Spirit began to move through Karen and another woman in a beautiful spontaneous spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19). While they were yet singing, a man stood up and began to shout out a prayer of thanks for a Christian politician who recently had been elected. Oblivious to the Spirit’s moving, the man continued to pray over the top of the singers who began to heave as the Spirit song being birthed through them, was quenched. What beautiful message might the Holy Spirit have had for our gathering, had the man not run off the Holy Spirit by his selfish and long-winded prayer?
Many are the times we have experienced such an interruption of the Holy Spirit when believers gather together and the Holy Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19) by someone with an agenda. In fact, I can’t say for certain that I have ever been part of a larger assembly where that did NOT happen. Neither can I say for certain that I haven’t been the one who derailed the flow of the Holy Spirit with my agenda.
So why is it so difficult to flow freely with the Holy Spirit during a gathering of believers? Continue reading
The Living Water
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 ESV)
Every Bible Commentary* I’ve read concerning Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well focuses on water for drinking, a physical act that temporarily satisfies physical thirst, but never satisfies spiritual thirst. Jesus speaks of “living water” which satisfies spiritual thirst eternally. Physical water satisfies from without, temporarily, whereas living water satisfies from within, permanently.
Though unmentioned by Jesus in this passage, there was another purpose for drawing water for those who kept the law of Moses concerning ritual washings for cleansing the body and clothing when the people became contaminated. The OT priests also practiced ritual washings to prepare for their temple duties and before entering the tent of meeting. See Exodus 40:30-32, Numbers 19:20, John 2:6, et al. There are about 30 OT scriptures that address the Jewish rite of ritual cleansing.
Even though the Jewish people faithfully observed the Law of Moses and carefully maintained ceremonial cleanliness by washing with water, they still had to be washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, 22:14, etc.) before they were truly cleansed and were able to enter into the Father’s Kingdom. The practice of washing with water was an external and symbolic act that provided temporary cleansing only. Continue reading