""But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His
worshipers." John 4:23
The best worship service I have ever experienced was in volcano country Guatemala. We literally walked down inside an inactive volcano valley and met with a small group of believers to have service. As everyone walked, because the roads were near impossible to travel via automobile, I noticed the sound of singing. As I looked up and back down toward the small village at the heart of our journey, folks were walking arm in arm and singing hymns and choruses all the way to Sunday service. It was precious to hear their melodies resonate across the valley and into my heart. Moved by their genuine gratefulness to be able to attend a worship service, I learned a lesson that morning. They knew who the church was… yes I say who. Folks we do not go to church, because WE ARE the church! We go to meet together as the church.
By the time they arrived at the very small square cement building that might have held 45 people comfortably, they were ready for service. Their hearts were joyful, and they greeted each other warmly before sitting on small wooden benches that were about one foot off the floor.
In that building the thirty of us added to their little flock and the place was packed. They gladly squeezed in and made room for us. They had a few old 1960’s plastic yard chairs that had seen better days, but insisted the Americanos sit in them,the seat of honor.
There were no song books, no large video screens, no microphones, no piano, no instruments of any kind, (but a little drum that a teenager tapped on). There were no bulletins or even clock to keep tabs on the time. The pastor stood and greeted us and then the service began. They broke out in singing and they knew every word to every song. It was as if the words were engraved on their hearts. Very few of them had bibles, but that did not matter. They also knew scripture so well they could finish it before the pastor recited it. I sat back and looked around the room and each face was beaming and leaning in closer so they would not miss one word that was spoken. Even the babies and toddlers were very attentive or sound asleep. They never disturbed the service by their presence. They learned young while in the House of God, you respect Him by listening, and listening they did!
Afterward they began to sing and rejoice once again, proclaiming the wonders of the Lord. I also joined right in and wished that Sunday Service would become a lot simpler, a lot less complicated, and a lot more spirit filled. I wished that churches back home were jam-packed with people who came in rejoicing after having to walk a mile of hilly and rocky terrain on their way to worship. I realized that this was very much like the New Testament church. No frills, not fuss, just a place of true worship. Indeed, it was the best worship service I had ever experienced. It was simple, intimate worship that resonated throughout the small building in the bottom of the volcano valley.
Perhaps once you live through a volcano you become a lot less needy, or you understand what is really necessary in life. I was humbled by my own ill-behavior thinking I had to have so much to lead God’s people into worship. I realize now, that I have everything that I need. I have a heart willing to abandon the conveniences of this world and enter into pure worship. simply said, "My heart to the Father’s heart." Indeed my friend, if you can breathe, you too can worship!
Don’t stand back from applying God’s standards and deep convictions to your life. During my recent trip to Israel, I had many encounters with the Lord that confirmed my convictions. Oh, some may look at me as a rule crazy, over spiritual, pest of a sort. Believe me, I have heard it all. If you have not heard such, perhaps you are compromising God’s standards in your life.
Recently God has been affirming my convictions by placing other people in my pathway who possess the same heart, passion, and spirit of no-compromise as me. It has been so refreshing. I have been accused of being judgmental, too good for anyone, unapproachable and some other kind verbiage I won’t mention. I understand when someone is living a two faced life of compromise how they can be uncomfortable around me. Hey, there was a time, I too, was much like that in my distant past and I ran from anyone trying to hold a higher standard over my life or make me accountable. Sin naturally is repulsed by such a thought, and so believe me, I am not superhuman in that I do not deal with sin daily. In fact, that may be the issue here. People do not deal with sin anymore, sin deals with them. Thus, there life of compromise peels away the light of the Holy Spirit leaving dark blotches on their heart, why they continue to go about not recognizing their own change of demeanor or countenance.
Unfortunately, this attitude of rebellion against higher Christian standards runs ramped in the Body of Christ today. The seeker friendly approach limits the true preaching of the Gospel. In addition, allowing blatant sin to go unchecked in the church brings the moving of the Holy Spirit to a halt in the assembly. I do not mean lost people who are in the midst. I mean folks who claim to be saved and are using their position in the church to influence others, whether they know it or not.
I was not raised in a Christian home, so I have seen the good, bad and the ugly of abandonment of morals and standards. I have seen the true depravity of man in action and it is downright frightening when you realize how depraved we as humans really have become. Even more so, when you read our history and realize we have always possessed a spirit of depravity and been in need of redemption. Thank God for Jesus, our Redeemer! For some that is as far as it goes. Now that they have a Redeemer, they go on living their lives in the same pattern as before. I have always said it is getting more difficult to separate the sheep from the goats in the assembly. Why is that? There has been a loss of standards as believers have succumbed to the lies of the world. Apparently living out your Christian walk these days will get you labeled with names such as a religious fanatic, higher than the Almighty, etc.
No one knows just how dark of a past someone else has until they come to Jesus. My life before Christ, and perhaps during my walk have resembled some darkness as I have relented to authority and laid aside my personal convictions to please man instead of God. Don’t get me wrong. I submit to spiritual authority whether I agree or not, because I know God blesses that. When you have a spiritual authority over you who refuses to hold others accountable or allows sin to run its course in the Body of Christ, you’ve got a problem. Some pastors have the attitude that this is the only way to win these kinds of people to Christ. In fact, they will say things like, "Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners." This is true, but He never allowed them to be in the forefront of His ministry. Leaders refuse to address the true issue because they do not want to rock the boat as to draw enough attention to lose the preciousness of a full offering plate, or to stir up problems in the deacon family that has been there since the foundation of the building. However, just the opposite would occur. If a pastor stood up against sin as we read in the Bible, our churches would be thriving and healthy. The next generation following us would have clear guidelines to adhere to when it comes to walking a life of faith. The atmosphere of the church would change and healings, salvations, repentance, and confessions would all flow freely as each one admits that they are nothing without the complete filling or dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
As a worship leader, my heart aches, because many times in the assembly these are the very things that are not happening because of pride, haughtiness, lack of respect for God’s Word, and blatant sin in the congregation. This sickness in the church is nationwide, and perhaps worldwide. I have seen it over and over again as I sing songs of deliverance over the chains that hold the souls of men.
As for me, I am not satisfied with the status quo of church today. Proverbs 28:1 says,
“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
I will continue to boldly stand up for the standards of God. Sometimes I feel like I am in a Star Trek movie, going where no man has ever gone before. Why is that? Mainly, because of how difficult it is find others who walk with God’s standards in their life. Oh I have messed up, made some unforgettable blunders along the way, but I have never forgotten God’s Word, nor rejected his discipline once I called upon Him as my Lord.
As I mentioned earlier, while I was in Israel God told me that my convictions were His convictions and that He had a much higher calling on my life. That is all that I needed. My friends, God has a much higher calling on your life too. Are you compromising God’s standards to achieve your own will and way, or will you repent and walk in Holiness, as He is holy?