Praise or Production of Men?
by Patricia Backora
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Some Christian leaders think that the longer and louder the “song service” is, the more likely I am to listen and appear on the scene to meet needs. Foot stomping, clapping, arm waving, shouting and dancing are not only allowed but actively encouraged by song leaders. Although it IS important to feel free to express the joy in the Spirit I have given you, care needs to be taken to ensure that your outward activities are a genuine response of love toward Me, not just PERFORMED because “everybody else is doing it” and the “leadership” expects it of you. Just “going through the motions” of worship is a manifestation of the flesh, not the spirit.
In so many Christian gatherings the whole “service” is preplanned ahead of schedule and My Spirit couldn’t get a word in edgewise to lead My people or to speak softly to their hearts about what is really on MY heart. So many laugh and crack jokes, gossip, etc., right on up until the pastor or other leader announces that the “service” has begun. Then, right on cue, My people put on their religious hat and try to get their dose of “church”, if only for ninety minutes a week. Other churches think that the longer they keep up their carnal “service” the more pleasing it is to me. Preachers can speak for hours without saying much of anything.
How CAN I move gently in your midst, convicting sinners and backsliders of sin and speaking tenderly to you of My love when the first thing My people are led by other humans to do is to make as much noise as possible and keep up a steady stream of it for the better part of an hour? Many people have just gotten off work and many mothers are tired from handling fussy babies throughout the day, and yet everyone is expected to “remain standing” and keep on shouting “till the power comes down”.
Work performed to conjure up My Presence is an abomination in My sight, regardless of how holy it seems to your outward senses. It is little different from the frantic shouting of the priests of Baal who danced and shouted, “O Baal, HEAR us!” (I Kings 18:17-40). In contrast to the way these heathen priests got out of rest and screamed at their god, Elijah spoke a SHORT, CALM, faith-filled prayer to Me to please send the fire down upon his own offering to show forth My power and might. I respond only to genuine faith, not raucous screams and frantic histrionics.
There is a darker side to some of the song services which go on supposedly in My honor. Church leaders know that when people first walk in the door, their mind is usually somewhere else, that they’re tired or might be in a grumpy mood from arguing with their spouse, etc. A grumpy, tired, or worried person makes a poor giver and is inclined to be stingy, these blind shepherds reason. So they schedule a steady stream of “feel good” choruses which may or may not contain adequate spiritual content. Every minute is pre-orchestrated and accounted for in these services which, in the final analysis, serves only the interests of men.
These happy-clappy choruses are played and sung repeatedly till the pleasure chemicals of the brain get flowing in the congregation to “get them in a good mood”. Happy givers are likely to be very generous givers. Sheep who crave a “happy” religion which demands little of their lives seek after these disorderly, overemotional song services like dope to keep them feeling good. This turns them into submissive, passive sheep who don’t stray away from the “leadership” who crave money and power. In such gatherings it’s all about mind control and manipulation, not worship!
The earliest church just let themselves be led by My Spirit and there WAS no preplanned “order of worship” printed up for them to follow. They might sing a psalm or two as they felt led, and other spiritual songs and hymns as well. Sometimes a holy hush would fall over the assembly and the saints would prayerfully seek My face about how the life of Christ should be manifested through each and every one of them. It was in such tranquil moments that prophecy or other spiritual gifts might flow out to the sheep to meet genuine spiritual or physical needs.
When there was a quiet lull, the early Christians didn’t get all bent out of shape about it. They welcomed that moment of rest in the Lord when they ceased from their own works to let Me do My work in and through them. My Spirit would stir in their hearts to quicken some scriptural message to them, or some exhortation to holy living, and these words would be spoken forth by one or several in the meeting. In the very beginning, the assembly of the saints was led by GOD, not men.
Instead of singing psalms and scripturally sound songs as the early church did, modern Pentecostal and Charismatic churches tend to get into the trap of focusing on a few highly repetitious nonsensical choruses which just “sound good” and “feel good” to sing. They’re “under the spout where the glory runs out” they allege. But I notice that when it comes time to really focus on the serious issues of daily Christian living, they’re too busy frolicking around like carefree children who have no responsibility to learn or grow in the knowledge of spiritual things.
The noise and psychobabble goes on and on and on. I detest put-on productions where the heart is absent from Me. By the time the “praise” segment of the service draws to a close AT THE DIRECTION OF MEN who have decided to “start the worship segment of the song service”, the people mistakenly think that the more somber, slower numbers constitute the worship of God in spirit and in truth which Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about (John 4:24). Often it’s just the same old carnal noise sung in a minor key in a slower tempo!
Some think that if the music is slow and brings tears to your eyes, it must be inspired by the Spirit of God. To many, emotional response is THE standard by which to measure the spirituality of a song. Nothing could be further from the truth, My people. Next time pay attention not just to the melody you sing, but to the lyrics. In your singing, are you condemning yourself for sin, even though you’ve faithfully kept your accounts clear with Me? Are you pleading with Me to come into your midst when you know full well that I am ALREADY with you always, even to the end of the world (Matt.28:20)? This isn’t the Old Testament, My dear people. Back then I didn’t dwell in My people’s hearts through faith as I do today (Eph.3:17). In fact, I kept My distance from them because of sin ( Ex.33:3). Instead, Old Testament saints would FEARFULLY bring animal sacrifices and offerings to My manmade Temple or Tabernacle to try to appease Me and get Me to intervene on their behalf. Today you can always enter My Holy Presence in FULL assurance of faith that your need is already met through My power and grace, by virtue of Christ’s merits and finished work on Calvary alone.
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