Have We Really Lost What We Had?

Have We Really Lost What We Had?

Have We Really Lost What We Had?


Two business men were flying over a lake almost home when one of them remarked, “Times have sure changed.  I remember when I was a little boy down on that lake sitting in a boat fishing and looking up at the planes flying over and wishing I was on one of  those planes.  Now, here I am sitting in one of the planes wishing I was a little boy down on the lake sitting in a boat fishing.”

Some of you may not appreciate what I am about to say, but I challenge you to give it serious thought.

I have traveled and evangelized all over this fellowship and been in 100’s of churches. I’ve seen the wild, uninhibited kind to the “professional” kind.

I have two trains of thought to mention. One, the “good ole days” always seem better than the present. You’ll find this to be Biblical too … the children of Israel were always looking back and saying … it’s just not like it used to be. In Ezra, when the foundation of the new temple was laid, many shouted and rejoiced with great enthusiasm and joy, but the aged and ancient men who had seen the first temple stood and wept. I always thought that was just because they could remember the glory of Solomon’s Temple and this was an inferior temple.

I really think they were weeping because the older we get (and I am getting in that category) we all have this tendency to look back and think everything was so much better than now. I believe that is the first thing that was happening to the ancient men as they wept because God said the glory of the latter house was going to be greater than the glory of the former. They couldn’t see it because they were filtering everything through the filter of the past. Friends, a lot of things have changed and they are not all for the worst … I kinda like padded pews (or even “pew chairs”) and carpeted aisles. P.A. Systems are nice even along with cordless mikes or the new headsets.

I hear people preaching against “singing off the wall” as if singing out of song books was somehow more spiritual. Others say they like the old songs because they were written by people who had a real experience with God, while these new songs are just written by people who are trying to make money and have never had an experience. I wonder how those who say such things know. I really think it just goes back to songs they had an experience or connection with and they stay right there, not moving on to something new God might have for them. I have been in this all my life … fifth generation Pentecostal …and I love the old songs and don’t even need the books to sing them. But, I must say there are some songs being written and sung today that had to have come out of a depth of experience and they minister to me and many in this generation that don’t understand phrases out of our old song books like …”such a worm as I”, “I’ll fly away, O Glory,” “give me that old time religion,” etc.

Recently, I had a song come to my spirit due to a grievous trial our family has been going through. It was by a current group of which I know nothing of their true beliefs or lifestyles … Mercy Me. The song was “Word of God Speak.” It came to me because so many times in the past when we have gone through trials, I would eventually hear of “Word from God” that would take us out of our dilemma. For two weeks, I downloaded the song to my phone and listened to it for days over and over. I would awaken in the night and turn the volume down low and lay it by my pillow as I fell back to sleep. After two weeks, in Sunday night service, the “Praise Team” as their last song began to sing, “Word of God Speak,” I had never heard them do that song before. The power of God swept into service just as awesomely as when I was a child and people sang “I’ll Fly Away” and ran and fell all over the place. There was no preaching, but several prophetic messages went forth and the altars filled with people weeping and seeking God. I know lives were changed including mine and no one ran the aisles or spun like a top.

Unless you are still living in a very rural area, times have changed. We don’t like to admit it, but people are more educated and cultured in the way they respond to things than they used to be. A sinner man in days gone by when told some exciting news would holler out something like “Hot-diggity-dog” and jump up and down and may be spin around sort of like some of us shout in church. That’s okay, but in most of our large metro areas today, a person would not react that way to the same good news. In the church, that same person is going to respond with a more “dignified” reaction (some are not going to like to hear that word), though you will still often see the tears stream down the cheeks, because something is happening inside. Those same people would be totally turned off to the kind of services we used to have and not sense the Spirit in them at all. However, today, when there is true anointed singing (even if it is off the wall) and sung by very polished singers, people today still sense that same deep move of the Spirit that fills and changes lives.

I am a part of a church that some would want to call “professional.” We start church on time every service, we have a praise team and musicians that could outshine any that the world has to offer. They work hard and practice often and are together when they come to the platform, but they pray too. Their presentation of worship reminds me of Psalm 150:2 “…Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.” I believe God is honored when we present ourselves and our worship in an “excellent” way. We don’t just call Sis. so-and-so up “Why don’t you come sing us a special.” Then she comes up and goes over to the piano player and they spend a few minutes figuring out what key the song is sung in. Finally, she comes to the pulpit and after a couple of false starts she finally belts out a totally un-rehearsed rendition and someone who always does it jumps up and runs around the aisles and somebody knocks over a pew and someone loses a few hair pins. Those are ways perhaps of reacting to what they sense as the Spirit, but they are not the Spirit in themselves.

Many people in our large metro areas would be totally turned off by such a way of doing church and would not sense a “move of the Spirit” at all. I am a part of a church I grew up in after being gone after 34 years of ministry. I am disabled at the moment, but expect a miracle every day. The church today is nothing like it was when I was growing up in it. Bobby pins used to fly, people ran the backs of the pews, there were “victory marches”, aisles were run and the place would as they say, “go up in smoke.” We would leave disheveled, sweaty and worn out, but believing “we had CHURCH today!” Now, I am back in that same church. It is quite what some of you would call a professional church … it is run very professionally … there are teams of greeters and ushers all over the foyer and at every door, Sunday mornings before service coffee is actually served in the foyer as people walk around and fellowship, but when the countdown starts on the two big screens on the walls, people know its time to gather in and get ready for church. The P.A. System is awesome and the praise singers step out onto the platform and begin singing in perfect sync and the praise band never misses a beat. But, you know what, that same awesome Spirit of God that I used to feel as a child fills the sanctuary once again. I believe it is because I and others are not looking for “how its being done,” but reaching out to that same awesome God we’ve known all along and He manifests himself in the midst of worship, praise and expectation just as He always has. When our preacher takes the floor to preach, he actually wears a headset with no Mike in his hand but a Bible and his preaching reflects hours of preparation and prayer. He preaches with passion, sincerity and anointing, but he doesn’t scream or even turn red in the face but he moves across the front of the large auditorium and communicates with people with a genuine anointing. When his message is finished, people flock to the altar area and receive the Holy Ghost in virtually every service and the baptismal tank is always busy. When I leave, I may not always be sweaty and worn out, but I know that I have been in “Church.”

Prepared, professional teams link up with guests and get them into “Discover Life” classes where they are taught Apostolic doctrine and practice and they are linked up with other members who take an interest in them and get involved in their lives so they don’t just come one time and disappear to the large “Charismatic” churches of our city.

I can say today from experience, I was there in the beginning and God was awesome in our midst, I received the Holy Ghost at 7 years under revival with Bro. Verbal Bean and now, I have returned … visually nothing is the same (we still maintain Biblical standards of dress, etc.), we actually have theater type seats rather than sacred pews, we have platform steps to kneel at rather than altar benches, we start on time, no one rambles around behind the pulpit and drags the service way out until afternoon, we sing off the wall (there are no song books), everything reflects preparation and excellence … but you know what? I still feel that same awesome, mighty presence and power of God that I felt as a child and I receive what I need to walk with God and lead my family.

It is time that we cease the division among us of those who want everything to be done just like it was always done and realize it is a new day and new technology and new ways of thinking, but our God is still the same awesome God that is saving and changing lives just as He always has. We just need to look for Him and get our eyes off of all the other stuff. Remember, When Jesus came to His Temple they did not recognize him because He did not do anything like they had gotten used to doing it. He still Reigns!

Personally, I’m not looking for church to get back to the way it used to be … the good ol’ days … I’m looking for God to be among His Temple and to see the glory of that “Latter House.” The best is yet to come. The latter shall be greater than the former!

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