“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” -Matthew 15
Why is it a norm in the message to travel so far to church every Sunday and Wednesday? Often driving two or three hours one way sometimes twice in a day. Goodness, don’t miss, whatever you do, don’t miss a service. Your spirituality depends on it. Or more pointedly- your reputation does.
You dare not darken the doors of those “denominational churches”. It is simply not an option to go to a non-message church.
I know people who pack their lunches to stay for the evening service. They nap in their cars, the nursery floor, or wherever they can. Some go without food until they are home. Arriving back home on a Sunday can be as late as midnight just to get up for work and send the children off to school the next day.
Just recently I have read of message believers stating their loneliness and lack of connections in their churches. Something is terribly wrong. Those who don’t think so are more than likely in the ministry and on the “receiving” end.
Most sacrifice much to attend each service. They might sing a song or two, smile, nod, shake a few hands, drop off their tithes, and then they go home. The majority quietly asks within themselves, “What did he say?”
Those who “Amen!” the loudest every single service and sit on the front row (generally as their wives are in the nursery) are like the babbling brook. They make a lot of noise, but they just don’t go deep.
They have fallen into a routine of the same songs, same sermons, and same quotes. Guest ministers are invited on occasion for “special” weekend services. I call this stirring the pot or pulpit swapping. To make it more enjoyable a potluck is often held in between a set of services. More than likely, it’s the most fellowship the people have had since the last “special” meeting.
Another favorite is the beloved camp meetings. As a young vulnerable teenager there is nothing quite like a minister counting to ten calling everyone in the room to the alter attempting to strike fear into you. But you go, look your best, and hope to meet “the one” before the week is over.
Message ministers preach for hours. They take off their jackets, loosen their ties, take a swig of Gatorade, and off they go. You know you have a while to go; he just isn’t loud enough yet. At least when they choose to play a tape you can count to see how many pages are left.
If you happen to attend a smaller church, you have the opportunity to view the tithes being dumped into the pastor’s wife’s purse for her to total the moment her car door closes. The larger churches are a bit more discrete about it. They receive a hefty salary and then hire family members to collect the rest.
Afraid to ask questions or doubt, concerned they didn’t “feel anything”, no one says a thing. They dare not, after all they should have come “expecting.”
“Brother, sister, what you need is a genuine refilling of the Holy Ghost!”
“I’m not sure when He left?”
When was the last time you left church and said:
“Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” -Luke 24
Growing up I only heard the negative concerning churches of the “world”. We were taught they were harlots. They didn’t worship Jesus, they rejected the true word. Imagine my surprise when I got over my bias and heard a sermon from one of these “foolish virgins”. I got more out of their 25 minute sermon than many, many, many three hour message sermons.
There are ministers, which are true students of the word, who actually know how to explain the scriptures. No quotes, no handed down pulpits of family ministry. God called men with a true heart for His people. They serve the people without making themselves authoritative. Rather it was prayed, “Let my tongue be as the pen of a writer.”
Tapes have been played and used to pull quotes, topics, and context to inspire message minister’s sermons for nearly 50 years. People no longer study their Bibles; instead they listen to regurgitated words. And you wonder where the anointing is? The voice? The tapes? If that’s so, tell the minister to step down and save your 10%. You’ve got your stored up food. You’ve got your mp3 carcass.
What then do you do with Jesus’ words telling you to take care of the widows, the orphans, or feed the poor? You can’t even agree on the interpretation of the tapes, let alone minister to the body.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4
More than likely this concept of ministry is foreign to you. The body of Christ is many members in one body. Gifts are for the building and encouragement of the saints. The body does not consist solely of ministers nor is the ministry the head of the body. Christ is the head. At least He should be. But you allow a man to replace that. You sit under a ministry that tells you not to speak. Just say “Amen”. You are told it is blasphemy to question the prophet.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” – 2 Timothy 2
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11
Facebook and the internet is the undoing of those ministers. It’s giving the people back their voice. It tells them to reason and searching of the scripture is not only encouraged in the Bible, but they are admonished to do so. Perhaps you should listen to your ministers: “Stay off of Facebook” and do not venture onto the websites full of material for your benefit.
Sunday service, a time we have traditionally set aside to worship, to be refreshed, to be encouraged… it has become a defense mechanism. A taxation upon the people, a burden on their wallets and their time, all while the minister spends all of his time unsuccessfully defending William Branham and neglecting the call to ”Feed my sheep”.
People are frustrated. They are in a fog of confusion and lulled to sleep with a soothing voice. They’ve lost their absolute. Rather than the edification of the body, commandments of men are preached. Rules, standards, regulations, a law without grace.
Sure, they will tell you they do not worship a man. They will say, “We don’t pray to Jesus via Brother Branham!” Maybe not. But you take his words over Jesus’. So who’s your mediator?
Stream into any message church, you will hear the defense of this message spoken with loud words and red faces. The topic is what not to do, who is doing wrong, and who you shouldn’t be listening to.
You challenge the ex-message believer and you ask, “Where can you go now?” You say, “They left to be free to dress any way they want and live any way they want.”
Allow me to clarify a bit of that.
We go to church, we worship the living God…. we are encouraged. We look forward to the next service because we did leave and say: “Did not our hearts burn within us?”
No, we didn’t leave to be free to wear pants, cut our hair, or have a drink. The freedom we speak of that we have found in Christ- that freedom allows us to be led of the Spirit and hold the Bible as our Absolute. It allows the man to be the head of his home and Christ to be the head of His church.
You think you have that? No. Your head is your minister. It’s the tapes. It’s the words of a man and another private interpretation of it. Those words are your standard. They are your absolute. Your understanding is based upon indoctrination. Remember, “Just say what the tapes say.”
You think you are respecting authority. That’s not respect. It’s fear. Don’t believe me? Try challenging it. It was said, “To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you’re not allowed to criticize.”
Sunday services should hold joy. They should be looked forward to with anticipation. Worship should be enthusiastic. You should leave edified, encouraged and refreshed.
I’ve experienced the message churches far too long. I was told denominations and their membership was the mark of the beast. Miss American church twisting to rock and roll attending her social club.
I’m amazed, those songs you are so fond of singing, who wrote them? That “Christian” radio station you like, wonder what Jesus they serve? The Christian book store you like to shop at, I wonder, who inspires all that they sell there? Those authors you may like to read… just what God are they serving? The movies you deem clean to watch, surely those are not ‘true’ Christians, no. Sort of saved. Almost. But… you know… just not bride.
I am sure you are very familiar with those words. How many times have you sang them? These words touch the heart. You cannot help but sing them with great emotion. It cries out for every believer. It speaks for the redeemed. You sing this song. It moves you. And yet, the man who wrote it, you would say: “Is he saved? Oh, Yes. Sure. Bride? No, no. Not bride.”
One body, one Spirit. Many members. All through the blood of Jesus. All by grace.
Christ is the head of the church. His church is not contained within the walls of a building. Its not a select group of people with a secret revelation for their day. The body of Christ is whosoever will. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you are a part of His body. You are His hands and His feet. Go, and minister unto the needs of His body. Build up and encourage. Speak life.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” -Hebrews 10