Truth in advertising is rare. For the entirety of my life, I have witnessed various individuals declare airbrushed and photoshopped models giving unrealistic images of the human ideal. The hamburgers I receive at the local drive thru are seldom as attractive as their distant cousin on television. The side salad always lacks the morning dew droplets seen in the print ad. My new athletic shoes encouraged me to "Just do it", but were no help in the pursuit.
I would feel bad if it were not expected. They present a product that is too good to be true, with a warranty too great to believe, so I will give them more money than its worth, so they can afford to present me the new version in six months. This way of altering reality is not restricted to burgers and shoes. Brides and husbands to be work out and diet like Olympic athletes for the sake of wedding photos. And yes sir, everyone knows it is a toupee at the thirty year reunion. You were bald at seventeen.
Fun aside for a moment, I love the church. Whether it be with noisy folding chairs, hard wooded pews, luxurious theatre seating, or cool green grass worshipping by the campfire, I love church. I find myself uncomfortable with doctrinal photoshopping for the sake of staying "relevant." Removing stretch marks from a model's arm or leg has zero eternal impact. Removing the baptism of the Holy Ghost a significant edit.
To make the church more attractive by blurring out her strength, might, power, and voice is foolish. It would seem that the same mindset that allows for advertisers to create a fantasy to sell you food, clothes and perfume is invading Christian evangelism. The Bride of Christ is not in need of retouch work. Only to be washed with God's word instead of human opinion. The Church is beautiful, and I love her.
We've all seen the fuzzy, big-haired, pink Boa-clad portraits that mall photographers are constantly pumping out. They never represent the models personality or values. I am convinced that when we tell the unchurched the power, love, joy, peace, and freedom that Christ has for them through the Church revival will sweep the land. We must never apologize for the gifts or fruit of The Spirit. healing, prosperity, holiness, righteousness, sanctification, prophesy and the other manifestations of God, in and through us, are not moles or wrinkles. We must pursue God's image and purpose for the corpoarate church. The methods of communication may change but His word and promises will not.
Reading God's word reveals what we should be as the church. No additions, edits, or subtractions needed. Christ thought the church was worth dying, resurrecting, and soon returning for. We must not filter her true image and power. Photoshop is not needed.
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1. Devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
3. Pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to secular or profane): sacred music; sacred books.
4. Reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study.
5. Regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.
6. Secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right: sacred oaths; sacred rights.
7. Properly immune from violence, interference, etc., as a person or office.
(Definitions courtesy of dictionary.com)
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For most of history, there has been a distinction between the sacred and the secular. One was not required to read the lyric sheet to determine if the song was for the glory of God or man. The savior that died for all was afforded a grander musical expression of love than the dark-eyes barmaid that caught the composer’s eye. I am convinced that God’s desire to be special has not reduced or ebbed. It is man that deemed God will be content receiving whatever we give as worship. Being a friend of the one omnipotent, true and living God does not necessitate an irreverent approach to His presence.
I included the above definition to help us determine if we truly hold God as sacred. In an age where intimate fellowship with the Most High God is wonderfully being heralded throughout the church, we must not relinquish the reverence and honor that is the trademark of all that have ever encountered Jehovah God. God is still holy and must be treated as such.
The entertainment industry is never embarrassed by its constant plunge into the glorification of hedonism and sin. Why should we follow them on the path away from the word of God? We will never be trendier than the trend makers or more stylish than the style makers. When we, in pursuit of God’s presence of God, throw off the yokes of insecurity concerning our innate peculiarity the world will pattern itself after us. The church must not be held hostage by the desires of man. God’s house must be a place where He, and He alone, receives honor and glory.
What does this have to with music and worship? Everything! If more effort and weight are given to the whims of man, the music was for man. If the objective is exalting God for sake of coming closer to Him, one is worshipping. We cannot offer God a watered down version of what the world uses to satisfy is lust and craving and consider it an acceptable sacrifice. God is constantly releasing new sounds and textures through His people that are pure and undefiled. Though there are no hard rules as to what defines a sacred work in the modern era, play amazing grace and everyone knows it is for God.
The greatest works of music came when men and women gave God music to please Him. I pray we pursue sacredness over palatability to the carnal nature of man. God is ready to pour out more of His sounds, timbres, textures, harmonies, and rhythms. He is just waiting for us to stop dancing to the world’s drummer.
Being a child of the 80s, I am blessed to remember the Curl, polyester choir robes, Dr. King fans, and central air conditioning being a luxury at churches. Sister Fanny Bradley singing all the verses to the hymns that carried a people from slavery, through Jim Crow laws, to a new day where the promise of equality and freedom are close at hand. No one is being arrested for preaching holiness and divine healing. Receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost will no longer cost your your job. God had come through. Big cars and fine houses were on both sides of the tracks. Faith had won a great victory.
Like the children of Israel, it was deemed appropriate to relax the standards of holiness, sanctification, and fellowship that seemed so vital before we arrived in the promised land of modern America. The time of dependance on God had passed. Christ became a bridge of troubled water instead of Lord of All. As the object of worship becomes less sacred and significant, the music and other elements of adoration follow suit. Secular humanism is often laid at the feet of atheist philosophers. I believe it only gets traction when the church begins to acknowledge a form of godliness but denies the power there of. Miracles and signs and wonders follow faith filled preaching of God's word. If God is not allowed to move freely in the places that claim to be His home something is amiss. The real threat to the body of Christ is not post-World War One cynics but a church that disallows true worship that will invite the manifest glory of God.
In the past few decades many churches have made an overt effort to mold the church into the image of human comfort instead of presenting the transforming word of God. The word of God must not be confined to the sermon. If we are singing the praises of who we are instead of who Christ is, and expecting His presence, there is a great deception. If we offer a sacrifice of praise based on the forms and trends of secular idol worship, we offer an unworthy sacrifice.
Psalm 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
God deserves more than fatigued leftovers from pop music. the word used for new can also be translated as fresh. Leftovers and retreads are not fresh. Let's pursue a new sound for God. A sacred sound. Sincerity, truth, and honor bring us close to God. God is unmoved and utterly unimpressed with trends. Worship the preferences of people and they will come near. Worship the God whose miracles and life-changing power will bring all you need and He will come near. God is all you need. Worship Him.
1Chronicles 25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
1Chronicles 25:2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.
When King David established the temple worship in Second Chronicles 25, there is an oft overlooked principle. They prophesied under the order of the King. In the context of the modern local church this is the senior pastor. It is simple and safe to make this assertion that the five fold ministry,(Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, and Teachers) are placed in leadership for a reason. That reason is safety and order.
Prophesy is a powerful tool that should be defined, understood, and utilized in the church. Due to fear and or a lack of knowledge, prophesy has been removed from most worship services. Many pray for restoration of Davidic worship but outside of the structure that scripture defines. I am convinced the two are inseparable. If we want the manifestation recorded in 2 Chronicles 5:12-14, we must follow the biblical template.
Pastors: I strongly encourage you to be very cautious in selecting your worship staff. A pretty voice, charisma, and cool arrangements are not the central elements of worship. High notes impress people, but not God. God is moved by faith. Faith is demonstrated in obedience. Therefore, Sensitivity and obedience to the leading of the Holy Ghost will be far more advantageous than a cool hair and trendy clothes. If you cannot trust your worship leader to carry your heart and vision, replace them immediately. Worship is too important to the ministry that God will hold you accountable for to entrust to individuals you cannot trust to follow your lead.
Worshippers: It is not restricting to serve under the vision of your local church. Refuse to allow pride to pull you out of your destiny. There are individuals called to be the next superstar, but God get little to no glory from that. Force yourself to pursue God and His heart and neglect selfish ambition. After all, ministry is serving. You are needed not to make pretty sounds. Never see yourself as the warm up act for ministry. Worship is ministry. Prophesy.
Note that I didnt specify singers. Custodians, ushers, sound people, and nursery workers play a huge part in the worship experience. I am sure your pastor, as mine does often. recognizes and appreciates your sacrifice and significance. Whether prophesying through a new song or speaking words of life over a new born, you are propelling the kingdom of God forward. I thank you.
In conclusion, support your pastor and the vision of your local church. Open your gift and ministry up to the powerful leading of the Holy Ghost. See powerful manifestations of God. God gave us a blueprint, let's follow it.