Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2000 (re-edited August 28, 2005)
Dear Forever family:
Last Saturday night it was necessary for me to do something I had not done in a long time. I was requested to attend a choral presentation of various churches and groups in Chico.
There was a 70 voice combined choir. They sang "Give Thanks," "Crown Him King of Kings," and "The Majesty and Glory of His Name." The music was fabulous.
The Spirit of God moved within me!!! I had a powerful revelation. They were giving such beautiful "man-made" glory to the Lord. As the music was going forth the Lord showed me the whole thing from His perspective. HE revealed how our traditions have manipulated church worship down through the centuries into a program...a presentation, a "show," if you please. The Spirit of God indicated to me where HE had been placed by the churches in this whole picture. My heart was so shaken.
The Lord revealed it by giving a parable. In that parable HE utilized my wife and myself as the main characters. My wife represented the Lord, and I represented the churches and the people of God.
I am deeply in love with my wife, Jan. Even though we were married back in December of 1969, I'm still very infatuated with her too. Infatuation is the mechanism that draws a man and woman together when they first meet. It is kind of the icing on the cake that many couples lose after the first few years of marriage. But thanks be to God I still feel infatuation for Jan along with my love for her. She makes the room light up for me, when she shows up.
Here, then, is the "what if" parable that reveals what the church is doing to the Holy Spirit of God.
What if I said to Jan. "Jan, I love you sooooo much, I want to do something that is really going to bring us so much closer together. So, I want you to pack your bags, and prepare to make a long trip down to Hemet, where your Mother lives. I want you to prepare to travel there and stay with your Mom for the next few months. You see, Jan, I love you so much that I really want to be so romantic. So you go down and stay with your Mom until I've got this romantic thing all taken care of."
So Jan leaves for Southern California, on an extended trip, with no exact return date. She will come back whenever I call her back.
And then I break out all of our old love letters. And I dig out my old vinyl 33 RPM "HiFI" Stereo records, with our favorite love song. I get out our wedding pictures. And, I dig out my favorite picture of Jan (which I took myself) and I kiss that picture every day. I sit around and listen to our favorite love songs, I read our love letters over and over. I get so romantic. I get so excited. I play the audio tape I have of our marriage ceremony over and over. And I begin to write books, lot's of books about Jan and how wonderful she really is, because I just know she is going to be so blessed by my books about her. And when I'm done with the books I start writing love songs about Jan.
Meanwhile I'm eating cold cereal, leftovers, TV dinners. I do not hear that pleasing voice of Jan's, nor do I see that precious face of Jan's...but I am so excited. I mean, I am really making a love pilgrimage of major proportions. I just keep thinking how much richer and better my relationship to Jan is getting!
Now, to all you sane souls out there....you know that if I did such a "dumb-dumb" thing, somebody would certainly have to take me aside and do a little bit of shock therapy on me. They would have to point out that I was terribly deceived in thinking that I was building up my marriage. They would have to awake me to the fact that I was really hurting my marriage.
What God revealed last Saturday night showed me that HE was the ONE that was pretty majorly outside that worship service. HE was being made to sit "outside on the old culvert." The Holy Spirit has been sent away by the church, in order that they can have their programmed little skits for Jesus. What the churches are doing in this day and age is exactly as foolish as me trying to improve my marriage by exiling my wife at her Mom's house.
One of the members of the church where I attend has a dog named Lobo. Lobo likes to go to church. But, guess what...he has only been allowed into the sanctuary once. And that was when he was a sermon illustration. Most of the time Lobo waits in the parking lot. Oh, he would love to come in to the service...but you see, he isn't really all that welcome. The Holy Spirit has been treated like a pet that must stay outside in the parking lot.
And the Holy Spirit showed me, Saturday night, that in most of His churches HE is not allowed to come in and take HIS rightful place as the Governor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He stays out on the old culvert somewhere. He stays out while His people put on programs and shows about Him...and sing songs of his Majesty...and tell stories of His miracles.
And, HE showed me why HE can't come in. HE showed me that if HE came in to join that worship service with all that beautiful music....well, HIS glory, HIS power, HIS Majesty is so infinite, so overflowing, so radiant that it would totally disrupt "the program." God's people don't want their program messed with! They love their program. Their program brings them great satisfaction. They are showing God how spiritual they are. If God really showed up, their program would get "upstaged." They have the starring role, not God.
The instrumentalists (yes there was an orchestra there) would not be able to play, if God showed up. The narrator would not be able to speak. The singers would not be able sing. The order of that service, which had been so carefully and thoughtfully choreographed, would not just change, it would run out of gas! Conviction, hunger, deliverance, salvation, healing, the wonder and awesomeness of God Almighty would fill the place. You see, HE is so glorious that HE can only be the Main Attraction. God can't be a "stand-in" or an appendix tacked on to a service.
Many of the people in that place would be dumb-founded. Some would run out for fear...some would say an evil thing was happening...a few would know that it was God come down.
And, because the Holy Spirit is above all gentlemen and because HE knows that HE is not totally welcome, that we like to read old love letters, listen to old love songs and kiss old pictures more than we want HIM, HE must stay out.
When the Spirit of God fully comes in...let it be known that the music will stop, the preaching will not be able to go on. The program we are used to will not function. Our loud praising will go silent. We will have an experience like we have never known thus far.
I have only seen this once or twice in my lifetime. And I hunger for when HE fully comes into the house. But also, I'm concerned. Because when HE fully comes it can be devastating for those who treasure evil. They might even lose their lives. And so HE must stay away because HE loves people too much to bring devastation. Judgment is coming, but on that day, and in that service it was time for grace, not judgment. There will be a time of judgment. But right now we are blessed by HIS grace. How much longer that will go on is something known only to the Father.
Can you imagine what would happen to a church if Queen Elizabeth flew her private Jet into a city airport and directed her limo caravan to come down to the church...and she and all her court tried to come into the services. It would change everything. Things wouldn't be normal. How much more when the Lord God Almighty takes off His Sun glasses and His trench coat...His disguise and comes into the services.
When the Greatest Personage of the Universe walks in...you better believe the service will change, and all will be different!!!!
When I was a little boy the church had a wonderful tenor soloist. He would sing a song that still moves me today. It was about the blind man, on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem whom Jesus healed. Here are those wonderful words by Oswald Smith:
"One sat alone beside the highway begging, His eyes were blind, the light he could not see. He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee."
"When Jesus comes, the tempter's power is broken; When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away, HE takes the gloom and fills the life with glory, For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay."
All the verses to this wonderful solo can be found here:
Can you believe for that kind of visitation of the Spirit of God? I'm so hungry...but when HE comes in, it may be like an earth quake...it may bring holy fear. I remember once when God came. I wondered if I was going to die...but then I thought...what a wonderful way to go!!!