Hmm, I Wonder What My Father’s House Shall Be Called?


PrayerThe fashion today finds some churches talking smack about how long the worship portion of their Sunday meeting persists.

“We open with 20 minutes of nonstop praise to the Lord!”

“Well, we spend 40 minutes lifting up His name!”

Meanwhile, churches continue to build or renovate so that the altar area is more like the stage at a KISS concert. It used to be that a church could drop $50,000 easily on sound equipment. How 2005! Now they spend that much on stage lighting.

Can I ask a simple question?

What did Jesus say His Father’s house shall be called? A house of a 45-minute worship set with lasers?

When was the last time you heard anyone brag, “We open our meeting with a half hour of prayer”?

Something is monstrously wrong in American Christianity when a church of believers can sing some bad rock songs interminably  and then brag about it, yet you can’t get the assembled Body of Christ at that same church to spend five minutes in shared prayer.

I wonder if we’ve reached a stage where we can say that our Father’s house has become one of misplaced priorities.

He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
–Matthew 21:13

You see, there is more than one holy thing such robbers can steal.

Thanksgiving? Thank the Lord


'The Healing of Ten Lepers' by James TissotOn this Thanksgiving, I will forgo commentary on the wickedness of keeping nonessential retail stores open this day or on the craziness of Black Friday. Instead, let’s consider this:

On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
—Luke 17:11-19 ESV

All our healing, all our hope, is found in Jesus. Not some, but all.

How can we not be thankful? How can we not be weeping with gratefulness?

More than anything I want my weeping to be in gratefulness to God for what He has given me despite my frailty, cravenness, and thoughts of self-worth. There is none worthy of those riches, not one. Not you. Not me.

I think much good would come if we Americans wept today because we are not worthy to have received all that we now possess. And it may be that unless we weep we may very well lose all those wonderful gifts because we have been so ungrateful, so unwilling to say that our own cleverness or resourcefulness has NOT gotten us those things apart from God’s mercy.

Don’t waste your thankfulness giving thanks to an ideal or a philosophy or your own talents. Give your thanks to the Lord. Be that tenth leper who was smart enough to know his source of blessing and come back to the feet of Jesus with praise and tears.

When the Spirit Falls


This last Sunday, I was helming the drums during a worship song our lead guitarist had written, when the Holy Spirit fell on the church. His presence was palpable and from my spot on stage, I could see Him on people’s faces. By the time we segued into “The Beauty of Simplicity,” I was close to weeping. Let me say this: When you’re the timekeeper, it’s not wise to go all to pieces.

Come, Holy Spirit!Now I know some people reading this may not have experienced one of those beautifully sweet times when the Holy Spirit broods over worship. He’s light permeating the darkest recesses of your soul, warm oil anointing your head, and love overflowing your heart. No words fully describe the naked encounter of your person with the person of the Holy Spirit.

I attend a pentecostal church, so this experience of the Spirit isn’t out of the ordinary. I feel for folks who don’t regularly encounter Him. I can’t imagine living one’s life and not meeting the Lord in such a sweet way, surrounded by others who praise His name.

I’m no pushover for emotionalism, either. Anyone reading this blog long enough knows I don’t stand for that. If I’m overwhelmed, it’s because God Himself showed up, not because some favorite worship song tugs my heartstrings.

Sunday’s touch proved to be the real deal. I’d only wished I’d been better prepared to receive instead of dedicating so much brain power to each timekeeping limb and upcoming musical transitions.

If one thing troubles me about these visitations of the Spirit it’s that we may be wasting them. I don’t believe He comes just to make us feel warm and fuzzy for a few minutes.

When the Spirit falls, I believe we need to be ready to meet Him just like the five wise virgins, with lamps filled with oil and wicks trimmed. His real Presence must be met with ready hearts, otherwise I believe we miss the fullness of the blessing He’s prepared to lavish on us.

I won’t presume to understand the heart of the Spirit in all His manifestations, for He blows as He wills, but I feel He expects the following from us when we encounter Him:

  • Repentance – First and foremost, He is the Holy Spirit. We are to be a holy people.
  • Praise – He is Lord and must be worshiped as such.
  • Reception – We are to receive Him and receive blessings from Him with praise.
  • Transformation – We are to be bettered for having met Him in that moment.

For these reasons, I believe when we encounter the Lord in this way we should do the following:

  • Confess any known sin.
  • Ask the Spirit to search our hearts for hidden sin.
  • Confess hidden sin when He reveals it.
  • Praise Him for revealing sin in our lives.
  • Praise Him for who He is.
  • Ask Him to prepare us for what we might receive from Him.
  • Ask Him to fill us with Himself, His gifts, and His direction.
  • Thank Him for meeting those needs.
  • Ask Him to transform our lives so that we are better able to serve him, so we leave the church with a greater revelation of Him to share with the community of faith and those still outside the flock.
  • Thank Him and praise Him again.

I think if we take these ten steps in the presence of the Lord, He’ll bless us so much more than if we simply bask in Him then leave unchanged after the encounter. And all too often, we walk out those church doors with less than we ought simply because we did not know how to come before Him.

Think about these things. Like Samuel, if we desire to grow up into the fullness of service the Lord asks of us, we must be ready to meet the Spirit when He comes calling.

Be blessed.