2Ti 4:1-5 MSG
1 I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule,
2 so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.
3 You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.(emphasis mine)
4 They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.
5 But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
Just recently I had a phone conversation with a dear relative of mine. My relative and I were reminiscing about things from our home church. It was mentioned that they pined for those days again.
You see, the place I considered my home church sat on a country lot with tall poplar trees lined the edge of the property. It was not fancy for most of my childhood they was no running water within the walls. At maximum it would seat maybe sixty or a little less. On the front left of the santuary sat an old upright piano, out of tune and was only played when a guest would visit that knew how to play, much to the grumblings of my grandfather about it. Grandpa was the only musician, a self taught guitar player for the small and unassuming congregation.
We considered ourselves to be “pentecostal” in doctrine but with no one umbrella that were our over-seers. We went through many different variations of preachers and teachers over the years. Until a man became a constant with us and he was picked to be the pastor of a congregation with limited means.
Yes, we were those “pentecostals” that you hear much about, but, not to be mistaken for those who claim power over “snakes”. Talking in tongues, prophecy, and all manifestations of the “gifts of the spirit”. These were all I knew growing up and throughout my teenage life.
Come Sunday night everyone would dress for church. No, the ladies did not bring out of their closets mink coats, or wear diamonds around their neck, but yet you knew these were not their every day wear. The same with the men, the pastor wore a suit and the men that had one. We always had respect for those who would step behind the pulpit, sometimes we would call the “brother” so and so, or “pastor”, but never once did we think of using their first name.
Things began to change in what is now known as the “charismatic” movement. People began to be more casual in the attitude with the gathering of the saints come Sunday. The apparel looked like you would see the teenagers where to high school. High School students would have never thought of using the teachers first name, but, in the congregation people began to cheapen the ministry of the pulpit by calling their pastor by his or her first name.
Then There Was the Music
For awhile my family moved quite a bit and sometimes my mom and dad would take us to different churches when we lived a distance from the home church. In all those years we learned the tried and tested “hymns” of the church, mix in some choruses, and of course the Anointing of the Spirit of God.
The charismatic movement also ushered in a new sound of music, I would call it the flavor of the hippie music, except the words sounded Christian. Oh, it sounded good, but there were some things missing. No sound precepts from the Word of God, yes there were some with Scriptures for verses, but it lacked the depth of those Hymns I had grown to love. Also missing was the conviction of the writer. “Amazing Grace” had the conviction of the writer, John Newton, a slave transporter who was saved while crossing the ocean. He wrote his conviction when he penned the words to the now most recognizable Hymn.
Don’t Change The Program
Since those days of the late seventies and early eighties the change happening within the ranks of many congregations was palpable to say the least.
A preacher friend of mine told me once this, “never change horses in mid-stream”. I travelled with that preacher the length of Canada and throughtout many states. He had a certain rythmn to his ministry and that extended to the style that he wanted his musicians and singers to adhere to. If he detected a slight change, meaning no anointing, he would stop the singer and music, and start a song on his own.
When I left him and struck out on my own, I too, developed a rythmn to my services. There was one thing I learned about my ministry, as a gospel piano player, if my music didn’t minister to the people, I knew my preaching would not fall on welcoming ears. This was proved to me over and over for years following. Sometimes my music without my intention would begin to fall with an anointing and before I uttered an altar call, preached a message, the altars would fill with people.
To the pastor, preacher, evangelist, that may read this, all of your man made programs are not worth the time you thought about them, or the paper you used to write them, for if God does not sanction them with His Anointing of His Spirit, then it is time to go find a job other than that of the pulpit.
All across North America the program has changed, and I fear it is not for the better. People do not want the messages from the pulpit that brings the sinner to his knee, the mother kneeling at the altar, with tear stained cheeks praying for her children, young and old alike with arms around each other lifting needs up to the Lord in prayer. Pastor, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Yet many have given themselves over to a worthless kind of gospel, one without the Anointing from the throne room of God. One that is nothing but words for of lust for greed and self-aggrandizement. Nothing but puffery, slight of hand, a puffs of smoke. The pulpit now is no better that going to hear a lecturer on self esteem found in any convention center down the street. Yes, the people have spoken, they want a feel good gospel(intentionally not captilized “Gospel”). Yet they feel that God must ordain what is happening because to the natural eye, not the spiritual eye, it looks good, some would say it has God’s blessing on it.
We have left the message of “take up your cross” outside the doors of the santuary for a message that does nothing more than tickles the ears and fancy of those listening in the nice comfy chairs.
To be truthful the true Gospel message hasn’t changed, the pulpit and the pew have!
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